Saturday, April 30, 2011

Dia Exhibition in The FotoVisura Pavilion during NYPH’11

Benji on Longwood Avenue,1980. Photo By Ricky Flores


Cuando yo miro tus ojos
parece que miro al cielo
arropado con estrellas
y cubierto con luceros

Sponsored by The Viso Lizardi Family—The FotoVisura Pavilion will be located in the Dumbo Arts Center, 111 Front Street (Suite 212) Dumbo, NY 11201—during NYPH'11.

Dia exhibition unites eight photographers who documented New York’s Puerto Rican communities from the Lower East Side to the South Bronx during the 1960's to 1980s. This exhibition features photographers Frank Espada, David González, Ricky Flores, Perla de León, Joe Conzo, Pablo Delano, Francisco Reyes II and Máximo Colón.

Puerto Rican curator Adriana Teresa reflects on the meaning of being Puerto Rican, and challenges the questions of who is Puerto Rican, what makes us Puerto Rican and why we identify as Puerto Rican?

Dia means across, through or apart—a metaphor for the emotional agility needed to navigate the churning undercurrents of Puerto Rican identity. Seeking to transcend boundaries of location, language, and time—this group depicts Puerto Rican life and culture in New York during the rapidly changing decades between the 1960s and 1980s.

This era saw New York’s Puerto Rican community grow in numbers as it confronted daunting social and economic problems. Neighborhoods were abandoned and torched, leaders arose from the streets and churches and communities were remade. Flush with the pride and excitement of a home-grown cultural revolution, art and music were found as easily on the street as in the concert hall or museum. Even in this turbulent social era, new artistic alliances were forged between downtown hotshots and Boogie Down homeboys in places whose futures seemed buried in rubble.

The chronicle of this Puerto Rican community in New York also depicted as Nuyorican—a term whose derogatory intent has turned on its head—was compiled from the archives of seven Puerto Rican men and one woman, who each stood behind the lens to document every day life in their communities in New York.

Frank Espada stuck to his principles. He documented the joys and pains found in El Barrio and beyond, but always in a way that kept dignity intact.
Perla de León, one of the few female and Puerto Rican photographers at the time, documented the neighborhood in the Bronx where she taught, which was abandoned, desolate, and burned.

Ricky Flores memorializes friends from the block who died painfully young, at a time when the city did little to keep them alive.

David Gonzalez roamed from the relative calm of Fordham Road, down to the fraying blocks of Mott Haven and the bustle of El Barrio, shooting images of ordinary life among an increasingly broken landscape.

Joe Conzo was there at the birth – several times over. In high school, he photographed local musical heroes. Later he took to the streets as protesters challenged Hollywood’s facile treatment of the area in films that were little more than fantasies from fevered minds.

Pablo Delano had recently moved to New York when he began what was to be his first photographic project. Conscious of the negative stereotypes that were used to portray the Lower East Side and also the Puerto Rican community in NYC, Delano purposely took beautifully evocative yet thought-provoking images of life in and around an after school arts center for children on East 4th St. between Ave C and D where he was employed.

Máximo Colón’s lovingly candid portraits of Puerto Rican dancers, poets, photographers, musicians and neighbors defied the down-and-out stereotypes that abounded elsewhere.

Francisco Reyes II captured people re-claiming their spaces and identities within New York's Puerto Rican community during the mid 70s.

La isla or the island refers to Puerto Rico, but it can also be the island of Manhattan or Orchard Beach in the Bronx. From this groups perspective, ultimately, we negotiate our meaning of being Puerto Rican and it has nothing to do with where we live. Being Puerto Rican is a sense of heritage, belonging, shared pride and history. The show is not definitive, but it is resolute in its purpose to show the other side of the other island, the one where La Isla beats in the hearts of these Puerto Rican photographers, even when they stood in the shadows of tenements from Loisaida to the South Bronx. We are voluntary exiles en nuestra isla.

Al morirme que me entierren
en la isla que nací,
que quiero darle a mi isla
lo que ella me ha dado a mí.

This Exhibition is sponsored by Federico José Hernández, Founder and Producer of Taste of Rums

Translation to the lyrics of this Bomba song by Lyn Domínguez:

Cuando yo miro tus ojos
parece que miro al cielo
arropado con estrellas
y cubierto con luceros

When I look into your eyes
It is as if I see the heavens
Wrapped in stars
And covered with splendor.

Al morirme que me entierren
en la isla que nací,
que quiero darle a mi isla
lo que ella me ha dado a mí.

When I die let them bury me
In the island where I was born,
For I want to give my island
What she has given me.

Mitt Romney 'Hang' Obama Gaffe Prompts Attempt To Clarify Remarks

Mitt Romney Hang Obama Gaffe

First Posted: 04/30/11 12:57 PM ET Updated: 04/30/11 05:46 PM ET

Mitt Romney's camp is attempting to do damage control after the presidential aspirant made controversialremarks in criticizing President Barack Obama during a stop in New Hampshire on Friday night.

Speaking at a dinner hosted by Americans for Prosperity, the former Massachusetts governor said, "Reagan came up with this great thing about the ‘misery index’ and he hung that around Jimmy Carter’s neck and that had a lot to do with Jimmy Carter losing." He added, "Well, we’re going to have to hang the ‘Obama Misery Index’ around his neck."

Romney went on to say, "I'll tell you, the fact that you've got people in this country really squeezed, with gasoline getting so expensive, with commodities getting so expensive, families are having a hard time making ends meet. So, we're going to have to talk about that, and housing foreclosures and bankruptcies and higher taxation. We're going to hang him with that, so to speak, metaphorically."

The Boston Globe reports:

Romney almost immediately caught himself, with the English major declaring "metaphorically" speaking, but the mix of nervous laughter with applause indicated at least some in the audience realized its potency.

On the heels of the potential presidential candidate raising eyebrows with the remarks, Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul addressed the questionable choice of words. She told ABC News, "It is not what the governor meant and that was very clear in what he actually said." According to CNN, Romney's camp called initial reports on his remarks "a ridiculous exaggeration of his actual comments."

Man Raised By Parents Struggling To Adjust To Human Society

Man Raised By Parents Struggling To Adjust To Human Society

April 30, 2011

MINNEAPOLIS—Two years after his discovery by a team of developmental psychologists, David Sullivan, a man raised by a pair of mated parents, is still struggling to adapt to normal human society, sources confirmed Friday.

According to researchers at the University of Minnesota, Sullivan, 25, has made significant progress since moving into his own apartment in 2009, but the decades he spent being reared by parents has made joining civilization a desperately difficult task.

"The chances of David ever becoming socialized to the point where he can function normally among humans is very slim," said Dr. Lisa Reynolds, a psychologist who has observed Sullivan since he was first introduced into the real world. "The sheltered, isolated environment in which he spent his adolescence has left him completely unequipped to deal with modern life. Tasks that may seem simple to us, such as doing laundry or grocery shopping, completely baffle David."

Reynolds explained Sullivan's assimilation into society had been hindered to a large extent by his extremely limited communication abilities. Though he has learned basic takeout-ordering commands, he will often relapse into the grunts and mumbles he is believed to have learned from the male parent, and will occasionally emit a high-pitched whine when he does not receive something he wants.

Sullivan reportedly has trouble navigating even the most simple situations, often becoming frustrated to the point of tears by an attempt to mail a letter at the post office, or shutting down completely when forced to have a conversation with a person he doesn't feel comfortable with.

"Whenever David enters a social gathering, for example, he quickly becomes fearful and anxious," Reynolds said. "He'll back himself into a corner, rapidly consume alcohol and snack foods, avoid eye contact, and, in some cases, lash out with sarcasm in reaction to perceived threats. Within an hour, he invariably becomes spooked and flees."

When he feels especially threatened or overwhelmed, Sullivan returns to the place where he was raised, sometimes spending an entire weekend in the habitat to which he is still best adapted. According to Reynolds it is, in many ways, the only world Sullivan understands.

"David's lack of acculturation is particularly evident when he attempts to interact with women, even in the most innocuous of circumstances," Reynolds said. "Most likely he was fiercely protected and coddled by the female parent during his teen years instead of gradually learning to interact with girls as a normal child of that age would."

"Sadly, David remains so off-putting to members of the opposite sex that he will probably never procreate," Reynolds added.

Though Sullivan continues to struggle, experts who have observed him were quick to point out that the parent-reared man has made tremendous progress considering how much of his life he spent in an environment where his every need was anticipated and met.

"In the beginning, he could barely sit down in a restaurant and use a knife and a fork," said behavioral psychologist Peter Erskine, adding that it took Sullivan months to finally stop wearing the same tattered, foul-smelling Minnesota Vikings sweatpants every day. "He was only interested in foods covered in ranch dressing or barbecue sauce, and if there was a buffet involved, he would walk up to it and begin eating right out of the trays."

"He still sometimes loudly chews with his mouth open, and he spills on his shirt more often than we'd like, but it's now possible to get through dinner with David without being completely revolted by his presence," he continued.

Erskine added that in therapeutic settings, Sullivan has been extremely useful in helping those suffering from difficulties similar to his own, such as 28-year-old Brian Werner, a man who was raised by television.

How Fox Teamed Up with Trump For Birtherpalooza

by Eric Boehlert

It’s an interesting bout of coincidence, Fox News’ recent obsession with President Obama’s birth certificate. The sudden obsession that produced more than 50 birther segments on Fox News in recent months.

As Media Matters chronicles in a new research report, Fox News hasn’t just been dabbling in birtherism, it’s been wallowing in the stuff. And by wallowing I mean talking about the topic incessantly (hour after hour) while neglecting to inform viewers that the world-is-flat type if conspiracy fueling the storyline is a lazy lie.

Fox News in recent weeks opted to simply push comically hollow propaganda and now stands exposed in the wake of the White House releasing the president’s long-form birth certificate.

And yes, Fox News pushed the Big Birther Lie at precisely the same time that Donald Trump decided to push the Big Birther Lie.

What a coincidence.

I mean, what are the odds that Fox News would suddenly take a sharp turn towards birtherism at the exact moment Trump started raising questions about Obama’s birth certificate while busy promoting his kinda/maybe candidacy for president? Fox News’ about-face was especially odd considering that when the exact same bogus birther story was raised during the 2008 campaign Fox News virtually boycotted the story. Fox News refused to touch it.

As Obama was running for the White House and questions from the far right were raised about Obama’s eligibility and his birthplace, Fox News paid the story no mind. Then in 2009, when Fox News personalities did address the birther issue, it was usually to belittle the story and mock its followers. (Bill O’Reilly: “Irrational” and “dumb.” Glenn Beck: “Idiots.)

And even as recently as February, when Fox News’ own Mike Huckabee tripped himself up by falsely claiming during a radio interview that Obama had grown up “in Kenya” (and therefore had an anti-American perspective), Fox News showed little interest in covering the Huckabee controversy, or trying to help him advance the Birther Lite attacks on Obama as being foreign and un-American.

But then, just as Trump stepped forward for his Republican star turn, Fox News decided to alter years of editorial judgment and to fully embrace –to celebrate-- the birther story, simultaneously aiding Trump’s (right-wing) political fortunes.

It’s almost like the two events were coordinated, no?

Either way, it’s now obvious Trump and Fox News formed a mutually beneficial political, and media, alliance: Trump used the Fox News platform to rise his profile, while Fox News used Trump’s birther attacks as cover to wallow in the non-story.

And yes, let’s be clear about this: Fox News has been wallowing in the birther story. Sean Hannity and others like to whine that it’s the nasty mainstream media that’s driving the non-story and trying to make it seem as though Fox News conservatives are obsessed with a tall tale that makes them, and the Republican Party, look dopey. (i.e. Fox News is the real victim in all of this!)

But of course, it’s Fox News that has hosted 52 birther talk segments (and counting) since late February. 52! And that’s just the opinion shows. (Imagine the avalanche of birther chatter if Fox News actually was obsessed with the utterly pointless story?) Only Fox News could produce more than 50 television segments about a ‘news’ story in which there haven’t been any new ‘facts’ in three years. Only Fox News would host more than 50 robotic birther ‘debates’ despite the fact there’s nothing to debate.

It’s also telling that Fox News would devote hours and hours of programming to birther talk at a time when the U.S. military is fighting three different wars, the Middle East is grappling with generational change, and leaders in Washington, D.C. are wrestling with a monumental deficit.

Yet against that backdrop of pressing, serious and legitimate news, Fox decided that the dead-and-buried ‘news’ about Barack Obama’s birth certificate deserved ongoing, primetime attention, and that every bungled, recycled claim Trump made about Obama’s birth certificate passed as a news flash. Why? Because Trump’s was “saying stuff people want to hear.”

And what sharp cable news channel doesn’t use that as a general yardstick?

Last week on The O’Reilly Factor, host Bill O’Reilly, who claims to not buy the birther conspiracy, was yet again hosting yet another discussion about the birther conspiracy. On the show, Fox News analyst Andrea Tantaros encouraged Trump’s ascendancy. Not because she necessarily believed it or even thought it was true, but because it was good fodder for the politics of personal destruction [emphasis added]:

Let the man speak. He's got a bigger megaphone than Romney, Pawlenty, Gingrich, than all of them combined. And you know what; he can drive up Obama's negatives more than any of the other of those GOP candidates.

And that’s probably as accurate an assessment as we’re ever going to hear in terms of explaining the truth behind the Fox News/Trump birther alliance: It’s been one of convenience. Trump will say anything in order to generate “Trump” headlines, and Fox News is running low on rhetorical ammunition to obsessively bash Obama.

Let’s face it, Sarah Palin’s media star has clearly faded and Huckabee shows few signs of wanting to campaign in 2012, so a desperate Fox News switched horses mid-race.

Now it’s riding Trump into birther oblivion.

Friday, April 29, 2011

'Saturday Night Live' mocks politics with bipartisan gusto

Tina Fey (as Sarah Palin) and Amy Poehler (as Hillary Clinton) give a mock press conference. | AP Photos
The show's fictional politicians can seem more vivid than their real-life counterparts. | AP Photos Close

On Oct. 11, 1975, Muhammad Ali had just defeated Joe Frazier in the “Thrilla in Manila,” and the United Nations was weeks away from passing Resolution 3379, equating Zionism with racism. Patty Hearst had been captured and charged with armed robbery, and “The Price Is Right” was about to expand to a full hour from 30 minutes. President Gerald Ford had recently survived an assassination attempt by Sarah Jane Moore in San Francisco, and the Angolan Civil War would soon begin.

And late that Saturday night in New York, a 32-year-old writer-comedian named Chevy Chase sat behind a fake news anchor desk on the NBC television network and intoned: “Yesterday, in Washington, President Ford bumped his head three times getting into his helicopter. The CIA immediately denied reports that it had deliberately lowered the top of the doorway. And Ford was on the campaign trail, announcing in Detroit that he has written his own campaign slogan. The slogan? ‘If He’s So Dumb, How Come He’s President?’”

VIDEO: SNL spoofs O'Donnell

VIDEO: SNL mocks 'You Lie'

No one watching the new show, called “NBC’s Saturday Night,” could have known, but American political humor would never be quite the same. And for nearly 36 years, the institution that was soon rechristened “Saturday Night Live” has been inextricably interwoven with the ups and downs of the post-Watergate presidency and American politics. The program may originate from Studio 8-H at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, but it looms — as the filmmaker Douglas McGrath, who spent a season as a writer on the show 30 years ago when he was just out of Princeton, puts it — as “the Empire State Building of satire, the one that you find first on the crowded skyline.”

Seth Meyers, the featured entertainer at this year’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner, is merely the latest in a parade of “SNL” alumni — including Al Franken, Conan O’Brien and Darrell Hammond — who have braved an audience that amounts to the ultimate trade show for press-and-political humor. Still other entertainers at the dinner in recent years — especially Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert — owe their careers in part to the brand of “ripped-from-the-headlines” humor that “SNL” pioneered.

That a show that started by parading its “Not Ready for Prime Time Players” would come to loom so large on the cultural landscape, and that its fictional politicians would so often seem more vivid than their real-life counterparts, might once have seemed improbable. After all, Chase portrayed Ford, one of the best athletes ever to occupy the Oval Office, as a bumbling buffoon (and made no effort at all to mimic his voice or mannerisms), and Dan Aykroyd initially played the smiling Jimmy Carter wearing his own dark mustache. Ford did his best to play along with the joke, but some of his lieutenants credited Chase’s caricature with helping to seal the president’s fate in the razor-close election of 1976.

By the time Dana Carvey found the “nah-gah-do-it, wouldn’t-be-prudent” role of a lifetime as George H.W. Bush more than a decade later, the show’s place in the political firmament seemed unshakable. Lorne Michaels, the show’s creator and longtime executive producer, told me in a recent interview that he would find himself listening to the real Bush 41 and think that Carvey “didn’t really sound like the president.” George W. Bush never uttered the word “strategery” (except, perhaps, in deliberate jest), but Will Ferrell did, in a script dreamed up by longtime “SNL” writer Jim Downey — and it quickly came to sum up the 43rd president’s scrambled syntax and “decidery” persona. Al Gore did talk about a “lockbox” for Social Security in 2000 — but never with the somnolent, oracular self-importance that made the sound bite one of Hammond’s best bits.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Latest tax filings from Arts Club show large, mysterious expenses

Town & Village; Thursday, April 28, 2011

By Sabina Mollot

For most people, tax day has come and gone, with most eagerly anticipating their returns from 2010, if they haven't gotten them already.

However, the National Arts Club, which is currently being investigated by the District Attorney and the Attorney General, has yet to file for last year. As a nonprofit organization, its tax-exempt return filings are made public, and their most recently filed forms, those for the year 2008, make for interesting reading.

Hillary Weldon, a spokesperson for NAC, said at the request of the D.A. And the A.G., she and others involved have been asked not to comment about anything that could hinder the investigations.

Meanwhile, the club, which earns revenue from member dues as well as rent for the apartments in the landmarked building, reported accruing bad debt in the amount of $185,000 in 2008.

The 990 form, which was filed in May, 2010, also reported that O. Aldon James, the president of the club until recently stepping down for what members have called a "vacation," worked 60 hours a week, collecting no salary. The only high-level employees who did collect salaries were dining room manager Joseph Frappaolo, who earned a salary of $220,000 with additional compensation of about $6,000, and executive chef Robert Ahle, who earned $124,000. For that, Ahle worked a total of 60 hours a week, according to the filing, while Frappaolo was listed as having worked a whopping 84 hours a week.

Accounting expenses were listed as being $85,618, with an additional $55,990 have been spent on expenses marked only as "other." Travel expenses were $37,270. The year's plays and exhibitions were said to cost $398,488 to put on, with an additional $249,908 for "audio, visual and books." Another $94,650 was listed under "miscellaneous" and another $114,812 was listed as "other." In total, the club's expenses were $2,627,342, with $2,110,588 of that going towards program expenses. The rest, $516,754, went towards management and general expenses.

By the end of the year, the club's total liabilities and net assets/fund balances was reported as being $4,507,555.

In the section on the club's governing body and management, when asked if any officer, director, trustee, or key employee had a family relationship or a business relationship with any officer, director, trustee or key employee, there was a check in the "no" column. Meanwhile, James' brother John has been a power player at the club for years.

Revenue earned from "committee functions" was $171,474 with an additional $14,397 in "book sales."

Net rental income was stated as $529,162, although $396,745 was reported as having been lost from sales of inventory. Over the year, NAC received $1,791,096 from member dues as well as grants.

Rents of board members living in the club were also listed, with the cheapest apartment ($4,272 for the year) going to John James. Aldon's rent for the year was $13,712, and board member Steven Leitner's was $10,298. Other board members, meanwhile, shelled out significantly more. Florence Boyle paid $52,708 in 2008, while Dianne Bernhard, now the club's acting president, paid $91,200.

In supplemental information, the club said it has a policy of avoiding conflicts of interests and avoiding "the use of assets or resources of the club solely for the personal or financial gain of any governor, officer, or employee or any other person, interest or entity."

This would contradict claims by former members who said that for years, nepotism and favoritism were rampant when financial decisions were made at NAC.

Marc Piszko of the firm O'Connor Davies Munns & Dobbins, whose signature appears on the form as the preparer, didn't return a phone call for comment.

Troubled Democrats To Undergo Party Counseling

Troubled Democrats To Undergo Party Counseling

HuffPost Hill

By Eliot Nelson, Ryan Grim & Arthur Delaney

The economy grew at a disappointing pace last quarter, despite growth in the fake Hawaii birth certificate publishing industry. Saxby Chambliss readied the fondue, tissues and huggable throw pillows for his royal wedding watch party. Mitch McConnell has accepted Harry Reid's challenge and is now locked in a game of legislative HORSE with the majority leader. And Allen West has begun a campaign to save the Republic by preventing your grandfather from taking his cholesterol meds. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Thursday, April 28th, 2011:

RETALIATING, MCCONNELL TO FORCE VOTE ON OBAMA BUDGET - With Harry Reid planning a vote on Paul Ryan's budget in an attempt to embarrass moderate Republicans, Mitch McConnell will respond in kind and force a vote on the budget President Obama submitted to Congress in February. A spokesman for McConnell told Sam Stein that the minority leader will mimic whatever legislative tactics Reid employs relating to the Ryan budget. The hope is that liberal Democrats will defect and vote against the president's budget, which includes $1.1 trillion in cuts. "[W]e'll have a vote on the President's budget at the same time," McConnell said in a statement. "Since there is no Democrat budget in the Senate, we'll give our colleagues an opportunity to stand with the President..." [HuffPost]

President Obama this afternoon officially announced his nominations of Leon Panetta and David Petraeus to lead the Pentagon and CIA, respectively. "The patriotism and extraordinary management skills that have defined Leon's four decades of service is exactly what we need in our next Secretary of Defense," the president said at a White House press event of Panetta, the current CIA chief. As for Petraeus, Obama was equally praiseworthy. "Just as General Petraeus changed the way that our military fights and wins wars in the 21st century," he said, "I have no doubt that Director Petraeus will guide our intelligence professionals as they continue to adapt and innovate in an ever-changing world."

Roughly two years after Nancy Pelosi and Panetta clashed over a CIA congressional briefing about torture/"enhanced interrogation techniques," Pelosi appears to have (at least kind of) buried the hatchet. "In appointing experienced and committed public servants to key national security posts, President Obama has acted to strengthen our country's defenses and the safety of the American people," she said in a statement. [The Hill's Michael O'Brien]

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - One million people have been unable to find work after running out of unemployment benefits in the last year, according to the Wall Street Journal. It's a napkin calculation based on the difference between the number of jobs created and the much larger decline in the benefits rolls since April 2010. It's not wildly out of line with other estimates. The National Employment Law Project has said 3.9 million people exhausted their benefits in 2010, but there's no telling whether any of those exhaustees still haven't found jobs after running out of aid, which is what the WSJ stat is getting at. The Congressional Research Service figured that as of October, some 1.4 million had been unemployed for 99 weeks, which is the maximum limit for benefits in 25 states (many jobless get less). The point of all this: It's hard to know how many people are up shit's creek, but safe to assume very, very many. [WSJ]

MULTIMILLIONAIRE PUBLIC EXECUTIVES - We'll leave it to Megyn Kelly to fume over those lavish teacher salaries. LA Times: "When he turned 65 two years ago, Samuel Downing received a $3-million retirement payment from a public hospital district in Salinas, Calif., where he serves as president and chief executive. But Downing continued working at his $668,000-a-year job for another two years, and after he retires this week, he will receive another payment of nearly $900,000. That comes on top of his regular pension of $150,000 a year. The payments amount to one of the more generous pension packages granted to a public official in California and come amid growing debate about "supplemental" pensions that some officials receive on top of their basic retirement benefits. Though Downing's case is extreme, it follows the disclosure of extra pension benefits received by employees in municipalities including Bell and San Diego. [L.A. Times]

Dick Durbin on Chuck Schumer's support for delaying swipe fee caps: "Listen, I know the zip code for Wall Street and I know what state it's in."

Dick Durbin and Chuck Schumer on acodel today.

Don't be bashful: Send tips/stories/photos/events/fundraisers/job movement/juicy miscellanea to Follow us on Twitter - @HuffPostHill

GDP GROWTH IS ANEMIC, YO - The U.S. economy grew at a disappointing rate in the first quarter of 2011, as no amount of ironic Tumblr accounts and sales of can seem to jump start the damn thing. The sluggish economy -- which seems to be taking its cues, if not its employees, from a second-semester high school senior -- saw the GDP grow by a lackluster 1.8 percent. The inflation rate also grew at the fastest pace in two-and-a-half years. Yeah, it's pretty terrible out there. [Reuters/HuffPost]

A McClatchy-Marist poll indicates voter dissatisfaction with President Obama's economic strategy is at an all-time high. Forty percent of those polled think the president is handling the economy well while 57 percent think otherwise. TIME TO RELEASE MORE BIRTH CERTIFICATES. [Marist]

Pete Seeger has been reincarnated as the former frontman for Rage Against The Machine. Tom Morello is out with a new single, Union Town, and HuffPost Hill loves the class-war rage pouring through the acoustic strings -- with proceeds from his upcoming album going to support the labor movement. Our regret at having missed the fights of the 1930s seems to have been misplaced. The class struggle is back, baby. [YouTube]

Free download at

Editors note: Apparently, Google says Pete Seeger is technically still alive.

GOP NERVOUS ABOUT BIRTH CERTIFICATE ISSUE - David Drucker reports that GOP operatives are worried that continued focus on the president's birthplace could hurt their party in its attempts to retake the White House. Not a huge surprise, as folks tend to be put off by issues usually explained by pamphlets. "These Republicans were nearly unanimous in their desire to see the issue permanently put to rest because they fear it could make the party seem too extreme...The Republican operatives include strategists tied to possible presidential candidates and advisers to House and Senate candidates whose races could be swayed by the White House contest. Almost all believe the Republicans have an opportunity to seize the upper hand given the slow economic recovery, persistent unemployment, rising gas prices and anxiety over the federal deficit." [Roll Call]

FLORIDA REPUBLICANS PUNK RICK SCOTT ON ANTI-UNION BILL - It looks like Florida's unions might not go the way of a high-speed monorail, after all. A bill that would prohibit state and local governments from automatically deducting union dues from workers' paychecks and would require members to specifically allow their dues be used for political campaigns hasn't garnered enough support in the legislature, despite Scott personally lobbying on its behalf. Amanda Terkel: "Labor unions have been actively organizing against SB 830, as well as proposals by Scott that would mandate random drug tests of state employees and privatize Medicaid. A Florida labor official told The Huffington Post that GOP legislators were hesitant to tie themselves to Scott's controversial bill, in light of the governor's rapidly declining poll numbers." [HuffPost]

America has survived external wars, an internal war, economic depressions and a decades-long threat of nuclear annihilation. However, if Allen West is to believed, it might not survive a program that gives your grandmother medicine. "I gotta tell you something: if you support Medicare the way it is now, you can kiss the United States of America goodbye," West said when asked about the program by someone in attendance. [WPTV]

Republicans say they're unfazed by the growing acrimony at their town halls, reports Lucia Graves.

POLL: SHARRON ANGLE IS DONE WITH STATEWIDE POLITICS - President Obama's decision to release his birth certificate, which eradicated American political extremism forever, appears to be bearing fruit. A new poll from Public Policy Polling finds Dean Heller absolutely TROUNCING Sharron Angle in a hypothetical Nevada Senate primary match up. Eighty-one (!) percent of Republican respondents said they would vote for Heller while only 12 percent (!) opted for Angle. Then there's this: "Keep in mind Angle ran against Heller in a House primary in 2006 and lost just 36-35. Combine this poll finding with the one in January where 68% of Republicans in the state said they regretted her winning the nomination last year and it doesn't look like Angle's future political prospects are good even in a Republican primary." We're sorry about everything we've ever said, America. [PPP]

DONALD TRUMP STILL LEADING IN LATEST POLL - Actually, we take our last sentence back. We DO mean all those bad things we said about America. A new Rasmussen poll adds to the mounting evidence that The Donald is a leading contender for the Republican nomination ... for the time being, at least. Nineteen percent of the LIKELY Republican primary voters queried say they'll vote for Trump. Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee come in a close second and third with 17 percent and 15 percent, respectively. Of course, all the stories about Trump's previous unappetizing-to-conservatives statements about being pro-choice and whatnot have yet to sink into the general consciousness. Then there's that gold trim apartment he owned the eighties. [Rasmussen]

During his birther press conference yesterday, Trump assumed a black reporter supports Obama ... at least he didn't ask what football position the guy played?

Rand Paul -- ever the jokester -- is demanding to see Trump's Republican certificate. "I've come to New Hampshire today because I'm very concerned. I want to see the original long-form certificate of Donald Trump's Republican registration," the junior senator From Kentucky said at an event in New Hampshire today. "Seriously don't you think we need to see that?" Actually, yes. [CNN]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Posh babies having a fine dining experience at a Michelin-starred restaurant.

Dan Snyder's Flack Admits Lawsuit Is A "Warning Shot" To The Media

DELECTABLE TABLE SCRAPS FROM THE SWIPE FEE EPIC - You know that swipe piece HuffPost Hill wrote that you opened and put in a separate tab and totally meant to read? We actually cut about 5,000 words from it. The fun stuff that got left on the cutting room floor:

A quote from Sheetz CEO Stan Sheetz was truncated. The full quote was "It's a cash cow. It's a motherfucking cash cow."

Ex-Alan Grayson aide Matt Stoller: "The swipe fee fight is like a very lively puppet show, you can almost see the strings on all the players."

Karl Rove, morphing into a modern-day TR, blasted Jon Tester on a Montana radio show, calling him an agent of Wall Street. The show's host is a consultant to Rep. Denny Rehberg, Tester's 2012 challenger, and accused Tester of "literally doing the bidding for the 1 percent, the biggest banks in the world." To the barricades, Karl! [Montana radio]

Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt): "It's a typical astroturf-style campaign, and the big banks, the TARP banks, know that when it comes to them versus the corner store, the corner store's gonna win in the public mind. But when it's the corner store against the local bank, it's a jump ball."

Brutal accusations from an anonymous bank lobbyist: "This shouldn't be close, but the merchants are incompetent fools," he says, tweaking the merchants for wasting time on Reid and Republican leaders, when the fight is going on elsewhere. "It's how a professor would write a book on lobbying who'd never done it...They're complaining to John Boehner, Eric Cantor and McConnell. They couldn't control this issue if they tried. And they won't try." (Ahem. John Boehner has gotten the second-most money from the bank coalition; Eric Cantor's fourth.)

We also didn't wanna distract HuffPost readers from kitten videos for too long, so left out our granular whip count. If you're not a lobbyist working on this issue, you can start scrolling, but here's what we gathered from talking to senators about Tester's bill. Kay Hagan: Was with Durbin, now undecided, cited the cost of fraud, a bogus bank talking point; Bob Byrd was with Durbin, Joe Manchin's now undecided; Ben Nelson was with Durbin and is now with Tester; John Hoeven: With Tester; Ron Johnson: Undecided (Feingold was with Durbin); Lindsey Graham, Mike Crapo: Were with Durbin, now undecided; Olympia Snowe, Johnny Isacson, Saxby Chambliss: Sticking with Durbin.

KEVIN THE INTERN'S 'THIS DAY IN HISTORY' - April 28th, 1758: Last-Surviving Founding Father Born: One of the more accomplished public servants in revolutionary America, James Monroe became president in 1820, the last of the founding fathers to do so. Prior to that, he fought in the Continental Army at Trenton, served as ambassador to France and President Madison's Secretary of State. Monroe was the precedent for a sitting U.S Senator successfully being elected to the White House, and he even personally lobbied Congress to repair damage done to the White House during the War of 1812. He came up with the Missouri Compromise to ease the growing unease over slavery, admitting both slave and non-slave states to the Union equally. The Monroe Doctrine, his defining policy, threatened retribution on any European power who tried to further colonize North America. After a successful two terms, he was the last surviving founding father, and died in Virginia in 1831. Thanks, KB!

Donald Trump Plays the Race Card

Dan Collins

Dan Collins

Posted: 04/26/11 04:30 PM ET

Donald Trump has now totally, undeniably injected race into presidential contest with his attack on Barack Obama's educational credentials.

"I heard he was a terrible student, terrible. How does a bad student go to Columbia and then to Harvard?" Trump told the Associated Press.

"I'm thinking about it, I'm certainly looking into it. Let him show his records."

Obama graduated from Columbia in 1983 after transferring from Occidential College. After working as a community organizer, he went to Harvard Law School where he graduated magna cum laude in 1991. He was president of the Harvard Law Review.

"I have friends who have smart sons with great marks, great boards, great everything and they can't get into Harvard," Trump said. "We don't know a thing about this guy."

The implication here, of course, is that Obama was somehow cut an unfair break because he is black. It's a fantasy that plays to one of the most cherished beliefs of angry whites who think they've been passed over for jobs and promotions because of affirmative action. The sky-high unemployment rate for African-Americans ought to burst this racist bubble, but the delusion lives on, and Donald Trump is happily feeding this prejudice.

In point of fact, Trump's own educational background is more shrouded in mystery than Obama's. Trump -- who continually tells interviewers that he is a very smart person who went to great schools -- attended a small private school in Queens before his parents shipped him to off to the New York Military Academy.

After graduating from the military school in 1964, Trump spent a couple of years at Fordham and then transferred to the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School. What explains Trump's jump from Fordham to the Ivy League? Could it have been the influence of his wealthy father?

We don't know a thing about this guy.

The former casino operator has been pushing the race button for some time with his fact-free "birther" claims. He professed outrage at the idea that his charges -- including allegations that Obama could not possibly have written Dreams from My Father -- were racist.

"I have a great relationship with the blacks. I've always had a great relationship with the blacks," he told an Albany radio station in an echo of the some-of-my-best-friends-are-black defense.

Trump draws most of his GOP support from birthers, according to a recent poll. For these voters, opposing Obama's policies and his track record isn't enough. They deny the legitimacy of Obama's presidency by claiming he was born in Kenya. Ergo, the United States doesn't have a black president. A comforting thought, no doubt, for these folks.

If Trump is going to keep wading in this muck, the least he could do is set an example. Let's see admission records and transcripts of Trump's grades. And since we're on the subject of documents, it's worth noting that Trump graduated from Penn in 1968, at the height of the Vietnam War.

But he never served a day in the military. He told Fox's Channel 5 news in New York that this was just a phenomenal stroke of luck. Trump claims that his number in the draft lottery was so high that he was never called to serve.

"I actually got lucky because I had a very high draft number... Do you remember those days? You're too young," he told the newsman who popped the question.

If anything cries out for documentation, it's Donald Trump's military history. Draft records, please.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Obama Birth Certificate Released By White House (PHOTO)

More In Politics: GOP Backlash Back Home... Donald Trump Reaction... New Pentagon/CIA Heads?...

AP/The Huffington Post
First Posted: 04/27/11 09:13 AM ET Updated: 04/27/11 09:57 AM ET

On Wednesday morning, the White House released President Barack Obama's long form birth certificate.

The document indicates that Obama was born in the state of Hawaii and thus is eligible to serve as president. The release comes in the wake of some raising skepticism over his place of birth.

White House spokesman Jay Carney says Obama felt the debate over his birthplace had become a "sideshow" that was bad for the country and political debate.

White House officials have said the issue was settled long ago. But so-called "birthers" opposed to Obama have kept the issue alive. Potential Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump recently began questioning why Obama hadn't ensured the long form was released.

"The president feels this was bad for the country, that it's not healthy for our political debate," Carney said in releasing copies of the long form to reporters.

This is a developing story... More information to come...

Keith Olbermann's Countdown to Return on June 20th

Keith Olbermann announces his show, 04/26/11. (image: FOK News Channel)
Keith Olbermann, FOK News Channel
San Jose Mercury News: "The voice will be silenced no more. Current TV has announced that its new show with Keith Olbermann will debut on June 20 at 8 p.m. The show, to be called 'Countdown With Keith Olbermann,' marks the return to the airwaves for Olbermann, one of journalism's most provocative and outspoken voices and hero of the liberal left. Olbermann's decision to join Current was announced in February, shortly after he had a not-so-amicable parting with MSNBC."

Monday, April 25, 2011


April 25, 2011

April 25, 2011 | ISSUE 47•16

Passing Of Ohio Man Forces Nation To Confront Death For First Time

April 25, 2011

MARION, OH—Following the passing of 82-year-old Joseph Howerton Saturday, the American people were, for the very first time, forced to confront the reality that death is an inevitable part of life that one day awaits us all.

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Howerton, who has caused all American citizens to be aware of their own mortality.

While sources confirmed that the nation's 311 million residents were aware of death as a basic concept, the demise of Ohio retiree Howerton reportedly marked the first instance in which death became fully real to the U.S. populace, and not simply an abstract idea removed from their own lives.

"When I heard that [Howerton] died, it suddenly occurred to me for the first time that, 'Oh, my God, everybody dies, and once they do, they don’t come back,'" said Philadelphia real estate agent Tom Marsh, 52, describing a reaction shared by every other person in the country within hours of the news that Howerton had passed away. "Sure, I'd heard about people dying and seen it in movies and books and stuff, but I never had to come to grips with it until now."

"We're all going to end up like Joseph Howerton," concurred Phoenix-area factory worker Tami Weiss, 31, shaking her head slowly in apparent shock. "My parents, my friends, everyone. Even me."

Since Howerton's death from complications related to pneumonia, millions of people in all 50 states have reportedly spent hours "wrapping [their heads] around" the notion of life's impermanence, with more than 60 percent of all Americans vowing to cherish and appreciate their living friends and relatives with greater frequency, and 85 percent lying awake at night pondering the certitude and finality of death with mounting anxiety.

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Most American media organizations struggled with how to portray Howerton's death.

Although sources said the nation's entire citizenry had confronted death firsthand to a much lesser degree in 2001 following the death of St. Cloud, MN house cat Boots, nothing had prepared the population for the level of existential awareness that comes when an actual human being dies.

Americans also noted that they were very young when their grandfathers died so they didn't really have to deal with it then.

"It's like, one minute Joseph Howerton was there, and the next minute he literally just didn’t exist anymore," said noted author Cormac McCarthy, who needed at least three days to fully process the fact that the 82-year-old's death was a normal and natural occurrence in life. "His body was still there, but his actual spirit or soul or whatever was just gone, forever. It just—it's blowing me away."

In response to America’s growing comprehension of mortality as an inescapable fact of life, Congress plans to form a number of special committees this week that will spend long hours pondering Howerton's death, estimating how many years their own respective relatives have left to live, and coming to grips with how these deaths might affect them when they finally do occur.

President Obama also emerged from a two-day period of quiet introspection to speak on Howerton's death early Monday.

Four of the 308 million Americans who faced mortality for the first time following Howerton's death.

"Obviously, we went through this a little bit when Mary Greer of Twin Falls, ID passed away, but we weren't really that close to her, so this is different," the president said in a nine-hour-long address delivered at 3 a.m. last night. "It's just sort of a mind-fuck to think that everything dies and really none of us means anything in the grand scheme of things, because eventually we'll all be completely forgotten. So, in a way, it’s almost like all that matters is this moment right now, because everything in the past gets forgotten, and we all have only a short time to live in the future, so it's all just completely, I don't know, temporary or something."

"Do you know what I mean?" Obama asked the nation.

At press time, all 311 million Americans were quietly asking a friend or relative if they knew of someone they could talk to about this.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Regime Change on Gramercy Park

By Jennifer Wright
April 19, 2011 | 9:16 p.m

On March 6, dozens of zebra finches were found dead outside the National Arts Club, at 15 Gramercy Park South. They belonged to the club president, O. Aldon James. The ASPCA is investigating the situation, though it's been suggested that Mr. James was likely responsible for their demise.

"The finches, it was absolutely him," said Helga S. Orthofer, an artist and former club member. "He did not know what to do with all the birds, and saw he had too many, and, idiot that he is, he let them out in the most horrendous storm."

Birds have brought Mr. James trouble before. In 2000, renowned biographer and Pulitzer Prize finalist Nancy Milford told New York about Mr. James—a self- professed "bird man" and avid collector—and his problems feeding an endangered infant raptor. While she was staying at the club finishing a biography on Edna St. Vincent Millay (published in 2002), she said, "One night he just opened the window to his bathroom and released the bird, just let it free into Manhattan."

Shortly after the discovery of the dead finches, the club announced that Mr. James would be going on a "well-deserved vacation." Many current and former members of the club, some of whom spoke to The Observer on the condition of anonymity, believe the vacation should have come long ago.

The National Arts Club was founded in 1898 with a mission "to stimulate, foster and promote public interest in the arts." Its members have included three presidents as well as distinguished artists, architects and actors. (Current members include Martin Scorsese, Ethan Hawke, Robert Redford and Uma Thurman.) The club's building, the Tilden Mansion, erected in the 1840s, houses a public space, where events are hosted, and private apartments for some members. (The Poetry Society of America is also a tenant.) Long regarded as a treasured part of the Gramercy Park community, the club has become, under Mr. James' presidency, one of Manhattan's most controversial institutions.

Bizarre stories about the club seem lately to emerge on a monthly basis. In January, hoarding taking place in private suites was exposed by Luis Garcia, Mr. James' erstwhile assistant, who posted photographs of rooms on the Web site Flickr. There were questions, too, about who occupied the rooms. In January, the local news site DNAinfo reported that Mr. James was offering a reduced rate to a former Mr. India New York, Robert "Bobby" Abit, whom Mr. James was said to introduce as "my pharmacist." Most recently, former staffers told Gawker that Mr. James had paraded around calling minority employees words like "Japs" and "Tokyo Rose."

Known for his bow ties (which he likes to refer to as "textile butterflies"), pinstriped suits and rose-tinted glasses, Mr. James is said, according to tax filings, to serve as president without pay—save for a ceremonial $1 a year. Yet, those filings report, he ran up a $37,000 tab for club travel expenses alone. He has occupied a duplex apartment with his twin brother, John James, overlooking Gramercy Park. Former residents of the club who had been members since Mr. James' arrival told The Observer it might have rented for $8,000 to $12,000 per month; documents from 2008 and 2009 show that Aldon James paid $1,143 a month and John James $356. The president enjoyed hosting parties at the club for his friends—free of charge, according to Ms. Orthofer. Club newsletters captured Mr. James, a chronic name-dropper, in nearly every photo with his arm slung familiarly around celebrities from Anna Wintour to Betty Friedan.

While Mr. James cultivated a glamorous public persona, he indulged his private eccentricities. Club regulars say that the James brothers engage in frequent fistfights, and the president was frequently seen to be injured. "They get into physical fights with each other all around the neighborhood," said one regular. "Recently, Aldon had his hand and head bandaged. He said he was mugged, but we knew it was them fighting each other again."

Another former member, who also preferred not to be named, confirmed, "They beat each other up. A friend of mine saw Aldon punching John all over the head. This is not just rumor. Aldon's father once said, 'It could have been worse. They could have been triplets.'"

Aldon James is a native of Baltimore whose youthful ambition was to become a physician. He dropped out of Dickinson College in his first year; some claim that the departure followed a nervous breakdown. He's not known for any significant artistic achievement, though he did supposedly spend his early years appraising antiques. One former member said, "When Aldon became president, we were delighted because he'd never had a profession, so we knew he could spend more time than any of us could."

In 2000, New York reported Mr. James' family fortune was built on AT&T stock, though that's difficult to confirm otherwise, and one family friend who knew Mr. James' father well said, "AT&T? He probably had one share of stock in it. [Aldon] claims his father was a surgeon at John's Hopkins! His father was a country doctor. Aldon gets away with lying about his background because so many people exaggerate, and tell stories, but they rarely outright lie. He's capable of lying about everything."

Steve Miller, a former member of the club, and the recently retired executive director of the Morris Museum, told The Observer, "We never knew how Aldon became czar of the club. Was it voted? No information was ever available to us."

Several years ago, Mr. Miller was among a group of members organized as the Concerned Members of the National Arts Club that pushed for greater transparency in the club's operations. They wanted to see a full list of members, to know about voting procedures and to have some sense of how the club's funds were being allocated. For instance, though Mr. James was said to serve as president without pay, the group wanted to know if there were other ways he was being compensated. Ultimately, they wanted little more than to be informed of the most basic elements of a club to which they belonged.

Their requests were met with hostile resistance. "Aldon went after me and suspended my membership," Mr. Miller said, "and I have no idea why. It was fine; I went on to join a more prestigious club. But I still remember walking into the club and he'd be standing on the staircase shouting epithets at me, screaming things like, 'We've got you figured out!' I'd just look at him and think, 'You are crazy.'"

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Friday, April 22, 2011

'Disgusting' World Organization Illegally Housing 268 Feral Cats, Say City Officials

U.N. Evicted From Headquarters

April 20, 2011

The U.N. General Assembly room, as it appeared when health officials entered the premises.

NEW YORK—Citing squalid conditions "unfit for human habitation," the New York City Department of Health confirmed Tuesday that the United Nations had been evicted from its Manhattan headquarters for numerous safety code violations, including harboring more than 250 feral cats.

"After entering the U.N. headquarters early Tuesday morning, we quickly determined that the property was unlivable by any reasonable sanitary standard," said city health official George Garcia, whose team inspected the dilapidated building following complaints from neighbors of an overwhelming foul odor and the constant noise of mewling cats. "The fecal ammonia content in the air was approaching toxic levels, and the staggering volume of cat excrement in the Security Council Chamber alone suggests the occupants had been housing these animals for over a decade."

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City health officials say neighboring residents have asked them to do something about the run-down U.N. building for years.

"They'd blacked out all the windows with world flags, too, so I don't think they'd seen much natural light in a while," Garcia added.

Reports filed by the Health Department revealed that the building's corridors posed a significant fire hazard, having been cluttered with thousands of empty cat food tins, old telephone books, and piles of yellowing nuclear-disarmament resolutions dating back to the 1950s, all of which were heavily soiled with cat dander and urine.

City officials were also struggling to find shelters for dozens of filth-covered diplomats, many of whom could barely speak a word of English but appeared to have spent years amid the squalor.

"The delegations from all 192 nations had apparently been sleeping on a bunch of dirty mattresses strewn across the trash-covered atrium floor," social services worker Leah Immelman said. "It seems they'd been delivering emergency food rations to themselves for years, so there was really no need for them to ever leave the premises."

Though the building's electricity had been shut off last November, authorities discovered an extension cord running across the length of the property to the nearby Ford Foundation, from which U.N. officials were able to steal electricity to power several lamps, a single space heater, and a satellite uplink to Darfur.

Sources also confirmed reports that a morbidly obese Greek ambassador, who had been confined to his reclining chair since the Israel-Lebanon ceasefire vote of 2006, was removed from the premises by cutting a hole in the second story wall of his office.

Property owner Sal Fantuzzo said he had long questioned whether his tenants had productive livelihoods, since they had never managed to fully catch up on rent payments since the early 1990s, after their costly, failed campaign to stop the genocide in Bosnia.

"They were strange people, I can tell you that much," said the 58-year-old landlord, who claimed that Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon never opened the door more than a crack when Fantuzzo stopped by, and always wore the same dirty robe and slippers regardless of the hour. "Ban would make up excuses why he couldn't let me inside. He'd say he was sick or he was in the middle of delicate sanction negotiations or some other thing."

"And I could hear those damn cats through the door, but he always insisted it was just the TV," Fantuzzo added.

For many who were appalled by the U.N.'s overgrown, refuse-strewn 18-acre grounds, news of the organization's eviction has come as a welcome surprise.

"I've been in the place before, and believe me, it is utterly disgusting," said Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose extended rant at U.N. headquarters in 2009 focused largely on the foulness of the building's restrooms. "When I have to attend, I always take a long shower immediately afterward to get that nauseating stench off me."

"They should really just tear the place down," Ahmadinejad added.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Mitt Romney Haunted By Past Of Trying To Help Uninsured Sick People

April 21, 2011

Romney claims he wishes he'd never aided helpless sick people.

BELMONT, MA—Though Mitt Romney is considered to be a frontrunner for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, the national spotlight has forced him to repeatedly confront a major skeleton in his political closet: that as governor of Massachusetts he once tried to help poor, uninsured sick people.

Romney, who signed the state's 2006 health care reform act, has said he "deeply regrets" giving people in poor physical and mental health the opportunity to seek medical attention, admitting that helping very sick people get better remains a dark cloud hovering over his political career, and his biggest obstacle to becoming president of the United States of America.

"Every day I am haunted by the fact that I gave impoverished Massachusetts citizens a chance to receive health care," Romney told reporters Wednesday, adding that he feels ashamed whenever he looks back at how he forged bipartisan support to help uninsured Americans afford medicine to cure their illnesses. "I'm only human, and I've made mistakes. None bigger, of course, than helping cancer patients receive chemotherapy treatments and making sure that those suffering from pediatric AIDS could obtain medications, but that's my cross to bear."

"My hope is that Republican voters will one day forgive me for making it easier for sick people—especially low-income sick people—to go to the hospital and see a doctor," Romney added. "It was wrong, and I'm sorry."

According to Romney, if he could do things over again, he would do everything he could to make certain that uninsured individuals got sicker and sicker until they died. Promising his days of trying to provide medical coverage to the gravely ill are behind him, Romney said that if elected president, he would never even think about increasing anyone's quality of life or trying to lower the infant mortality rate.

In addition, Romney repeatedly apologized for wanting to help people suffering from diabetes, Crohn's disease, and anemia.

"I don't know what got into me back then," Romney said. "Wanting to make sure people were able to have health insurance if they left their job. Providing a federally funded website so individuals could compare the costs of insurance providers. Making certain that somebody who earns less than 150 percent of the poverty level can receive the same health care coverage as me or any government official. All I can say is that I was young and immature, and I am not that person anymore."

"The only solace I can take is in the hope that some of the folks I helped were terminally ill patients who eventually withered away and died," Romney added.

Though Romney has apologized profusely, Beltway insiders said he would need to distance himself from his I-tried-to-help-sickpeople image. Sources noted that Romney's current promise to take away health care from anyone who can't afford it is a step in the right direction, but might not be enough.

"The major strike against Mitt Romney is that he not only tried to help people get medical care, he actually did help people get medical care," conservative columnist Jonah Goldberg said. "No other Republican in the field has that type of baggage. And in the end, in order to defeat President Obama, the GOP needs someone who has a track record of never wanting to help sick people."

Thus far, Romney is polling strongly in early primary states like New Hampshire and Iowa, but Republican strategists and voters agree that even in a general election, his sordid past would continue to dog him.

"I don't think I can vote for someone like that," Pennsylvania Republican Eric Tolbert said. "He says he's sorry, but how do I know that's the real Mitt Romney? What happens if he gets elected and tries to help sick people again?"

"I like Michele Bachmann now," Tolbert added. "Because what this country needs is a president who doesn't give a fuck about helping people."