HOWDY FOLKS-here's what's going on……
OBAMA SPEECH/THE DAY AFTER-Regardless of what you thought of the President’s speech, it seems pretty clear that our Congressional representatives listening in the chamber didn’t have their minds changed one bit. It seems that Democratic politicians loved the speech and their Republican counterparts did not. The Dems used words like “game changer”. The Republicans used words like “disingenuous”. So same old same old partisan entrenchment. But there was another mission for the President last night, Jon Karl told us on WORLD NEWS, that was just as important. Karl: “What the President needed most was to unify those bickering in his own party divided on whether to create a new government-run insurance program or ‘public option’. Moderates don’t want it, liberals do. The president essentially told all of them to back off.” Not surprisingly, Karl adds, “That didn’t seem to satisfy any of them.” But maybe one Democrat, a very important one, was swayed to tone down demands. Karl: Just last week, Speaker of the House Pelosi said the government-run insurance program was non-negotiable. Today, new flexibility.” Pelosi noted today: “I don’t think you ever really go into a negotiation and say that some things are non-negotiable.” One area the White House may have to be flexible on is when legislation gets passed. In his close, Karl noted “White House officials are now saying they are hoping to see a health care bill passed by Thanksgiving…officials up here (on Capitol Hill) say it will likely take longer than that.
YOU LIE…OR DO YOU?-South Carolina Republican Representative Joe Wilson entered the national scrum over health-care reform with his two-word outburst during the President’s speech last night. Wilson was reacting to the President’s assertion that illegal immigrants would not be getting health-care insurance under his reforms. Wilson quickly apologized and almost all elected officials on either side of the aisle condemned the outburst. But the sentiment clearly struck a chord with supporters and critics alike. David Wright, reporting for WORLD NEWS, notes “the Democrat hoping to unseat Wilson (in his congressional district) enjoyed a fundraising windfall-$400 thousand in less than 24 hours…..but plenty of others embraced him, as a maverick who dared to speak truth to power. You can now buy a T-shirt that says “I’m with Joe Wilson”.
But the “$900 billion over ten years” question is: Are illegal immigrants to benefit from health-care reforms or not? Jake Tapper, filing for WORLD NEWS, did some digging with some fact-checking of his own. Tapper: “Would the President’s reforms apply to illegal immigrants? The answer is no. House and Senate bills explicitly say any new government subsidies to purchase health insurance would only apply to legal citizens.” Before you can utter “well I guess that’s cleared up” Jake tosses a little fly in the ointment: “But the issue is more complicated than that-when illegal immigrants go to emergency rooms the charges are often paid for by Emergency Medicaid, which at least one Democratic bill may expand.” So while the answer appears to be no, there seems to be enough wiggle room to explain conservative criticism on the matter.
H1N1 VACCINE-Some good news on the H1N1 Vaccine front, no make that “the public health equivalent of a home run” as Dr. Richard Besser said tonight on WORLD NEWS. Besser explains: “The NEW ENGLAND JOURNAL OF MEDICINE today published results of a vaccine trial out of Australia, of the new swine flu vaccine and done in adults. What they found was that one dose of the vaccine was enough to give protective immunity.” Charles Gibson pointed out that “this is just one study” but Besser noted “I was on the phone with the head of Infectious Diseases at the NIH. The U.S. data is coming out tomorrow and shows the same findings. What this means is that potentially twice as many adults could get vaccinated. More people will be likely to get it, and the cost of administration and the logistics around it are greatly improved.” Besser says we should know “in ten days to two weeks” what the studies in children say. “Very young children”, Besser added, “most likely will need two doses. But it’s possible that in older children, as we are seeing in adults, they will get the same kind of response.”
FBI OPERATIVE TALKS/BRIAN ROSS EXCLUSIVE: A startling revelation on the eve of the eighth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. An undercover operative for the FBI says he is absolutely certain the attacks could have been prevented. During his years with the FBI, the operative was known as Mohammed. But as Brian Ross reported on World News: “His real name is Elie Assaad, a 36-year old native of Lebanon. Eight years after the 9/11 attacks, Assaad is now going public with an account of how he says he and the FBI missed a chance to stop the hijackers. In early 2001, the FBI sent Assaad to infiltrate … (a) small mosque outside Miami. There he says he spotted and even recorded conversations with the man later identified as 9/11 hijack leader Mohammed Atta as well as several others in his group. But Assaad says, over his objections, the FBI told him to leave Atta alone and instead to set up and sting two men that he calls wanna-be terrorists. Assaad says while he was posing as a bomb maker and producing weapons for the wannabes, the real terrorists were left alone. Shortly after the attacks, Assaad says he identified Atta as the man the FBI told him to leave alone.” The FBI has declined any comment on the case. But former national security official Richard Clarke, now an ABC News consultant, says: “This is yet another example of the way the system broke down prior to 9/11 and if the system had worked, we might have been able to identify these people before the attacks.” (thanks to Ed Bailey for this entry)
9/11 SPECIAL REPORT- From Marc Burstein: “ABC-TV will air a brief Special Report to the full network at approximately 9:30am Friday to mark the anniversary of the 9/11/01 terrorist attacks. The report will feature President Obama’s remarks at the Pentagon and be anchored by Diane Sawyer and Robin Roberts at Times Square Studios.”
GENERAL MOTORS REFUND: General Motors announced today that customers who purchase vehicles between September 14 and November 30 are guaranteed to get full refunds within 60 days if they are unsatisfied with their cars. “GM’s latest promotion comes just after the ‘Cash for Clunkers’ program sparked the hottest U.S. car sales in more than a year. Now that the party’s over, automakers anticipate a nasty hangover,” Chris Bury reported on WORLD NEWS. GM hopes its “May the Best Car Win” program will help curb the “hangover,” keep sales up and improve their company’s image. As Edmunds.com Editor-in-Chief Karl Brauer told ABC News, “General Motors knows they have to change their impression with car buyers in this country and that’s what this program is about.” The refund includes the price of the vehicle and taxes, but not add-on accessories or vehicles that are leased. More details of the program will be made available to consumers on Monday. (thanks to Marisa Bramwell for this entry)
SHUTTLE DISCOVERY- Bad weather is making it difficult for the shuttle Discovery to get back home. NASA decided conditions were too poor to bring Discovery back to Florida this evening and scrubbed both landing opportunities at the Cape. Their next chance at returning will be Friday at 5:54 p.m. But weather looks even worse tomorrow, and Matt Gutman notes “So Edwards, where the weather has been favorable, is the likely choice for tomorrow at 8:59pm ET.”
MISSING YALE MED STUDENT: The Federal Bureau of Investigation has joined local authorities in the search for a missing Yale graduate student. Annie Le, a 24-year-old medical student, was last seen entering a Yale University research facility Tuesday morning. Surveillance tapes captured the petite student entering the facility. Police say her purse, containing her identification, money and a cell phone, were left in her office. Le was due to be married to Jonathan Widawsky, a Columbia University graduate student, this Sunday, and friends and family said she was excited about the upcoming nuptials. Investigators are searching the research facility and surrounding neighborhood for signs of Le. Her fiancé, friends and family are also aiding in the search. (thanks to Marisa Bramwell for this entry)
ACORN ON CONSERVATIVE’S RADAR…The group ACORN (aka Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) fired two employees who gave tax advice to a man posing as a pimp & a woman who posed as a hooker. A hidden-camera caught the couple visiting ACORN’s in Baltimore about purchasing a home & tax questions. The ACORN employee told the woman to list her occupation as “performance artist.” And here’s something you don’t hear from H&R Block. When the couple said they planned on employing teenage girls from Latin America as prostitutes, the ACORN employee advised that up to three of the girls could be claimed as dependents. Conservative activist James O’Keefe provided the transcripts of the video & FOX News broadcast excerpts from the video on Thursday. An ACORN spokesman told FOX News that the video is “false and defamatory.” (thanks to George Sanchez for this entry)
–ARMY SUICIDE DATA- The Army has released its monthly suicide numbers and the year’s troubling trend continues. 11 potential suicides for August and the July numbers released last month have been revised upward to 12, up from 8. From the period of January to August, 2009 110 active duty Army suicides are suspected to have occurred. That’s 21 more than this same period in 2008 when there were 89 suicides among active duty soldiers. (Luis Martinez)
–MITCHELL TO THE MIDEAST-US envoy George Mitchell departs tomorrow for the Middle East. He'll have talks with Israeli and Palestinian officials Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. He'll also have other stops, but those aren't firm yet… likely stops in Jordan, the Gulf region (Saudi, etc.), and perhaps Egypt. Unclear if he'll make European stops on the way back. (Kirit Radia)
–OBAMA ADDRESS/NIELSEN-Close to 32 million viewers for President Obama last night spread out over 10 television networks. FOX did not air the President and brought in 6.6 million viewers for “So You Think You Can Dance” from 8-9pm ET. (Brian Hartman)