Noontime News is a snapshot of our RSS feeds from the noon (Eastern time) hour.

Palin In February: We’d Be ‘Appalled’ If Public Figure Used “N-Word”

“Sarah Palin continues to defend Dr. Laura Schlessinger’s use of the word “n****r” and blame liberals for forcing the controversial conservative radio show off the air. But just a few months ago Palin was adamant that using the “N-word,” and other offensive terms, should be a firing offense…if you’re a Democrat.”

CHART OF THE DAY: Today’s Unemployment Claims Ruined Any Hope Of A Decent Jobs Situation This Year

“Initial jobless claims came in today at 500,000, which as a 12,000 increase from the previous week’s level, and substantially worse than the 475,000 expected by consensus.Jobless Claims

Media: Maybe Obama Should Go To Church More Publicly So People Know He’s Christian

“Today, Pew put out a poll showing that 18 percent of the American public believes President Obama is a Muslim. That number includes 31 percent of Republicans. Only 34 percent of the adult public says Obama is a Christian, down from 48 percent in 2009. When asked how they learned about Obama’s religion, 60 percent of the respondents cited the media, with tv mentioned the most frequently.

While journalists and pundits on cable news today did acknowledge the “media” have had a role to play, they also seemed to place some of the blame on Obama and his staff, saying that perhaps the President should go to church more frequently and more openly to show the public that he truly is Christian.”

Dick Armey Lays Out Proposal To End Social Security And Medicare ‘As You Know It’

“Last week, President Obama accused Republicans of trying to destroy Social Security, noting that they are “pushing to make privatizing Social Security a key part of their legislative agenda if they win a majority in Congress this fall.” Of course, conservative talking heads denied this, claiming, “There’s no Republican, basically, standing up and saying that,” as GOP strategist Ed Rollins told CNN.

But on CNBC this morning, former GOP House Speaker cum tea party leader Dick Armey had no qualms about calling for cutting Social Security and Medicare. He advocated making these critical programs optional — and even suggested they are “flab” and “waste” — something that would almost certainly destroy them, despite his “guarantee” that that social security under his scheme would be “as you know it today”:

ARMEY: Let me say that flab is a good word in government. It is wasteful, counter-productive flab that not only does not good for America, but actually diminishes America’s ability to function. […]

HOST: If you had your druthers, where would you cut?

ARMEY: Where would I cut? First thing I’d do…let Social Security be a choice. … I will give you a guarantee you will get your social security as you know it today, with no change other than a proper cost of living index if you choose to stay if you let those of us who want to leave it. And if it’s such a great deal, why can’t it be voluntary? Why must the government force people to accept their benefits whether they need them or not or whether they want them or not.

Let Medicare be voluntary. I mean, why is that so hard? “

Franken calls opposition to mosque near Ground Zero ‘one of the most disgraceful things that I’ve heard.’

“As conservatives continue their hateful campaign against building the proposed Park 51 Islamic community center and mosque two blocks from Ground Zero in New York City, Democratic leaders have started to push back. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) told a local news station earlier this week that the mosque was a “local decision” and that we’re “not at war with a religion, we’re at war with terrorism.” Illinois Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias, despite being in a tough race, spoke out in favor of building the mosque as well. Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) said it wasn’t the “role” of politicians to tell people where to worship and that the mosque’s organizers “should be able to” build where they want. Speaking at the Democratic County Chairmen’s Association breakfast yesterday in Illinois, Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) continued this trend by slamming the mosque’s critics. He called opposition to the mosque “one of the most disgraceful things that I’ve heard,” and used his trademark humor to mock conservative opponents for being scared of “Muslim point guards” that might play basketball at the community center:

U.S. Sen. Al Franken gave a quip-filled speech at the Democratic County Chairmen’s Association breakfast Wednesday, attacking Republicans for opposing the building of a mosque blocks from Ground Zero in New York City. […] Franken said conservative opposition to the mosque is “one of the most disgraceful things that I’ve heard.”

“I don’t know how many of you have been to New York, but if a building is two blocks away from anything, you can’t see it. It’s a community center. They’re going to have a gym. They’re going to have point guards. Muslim point guards,” Franken said, to laughter and applause. “

Winning in Afghanistan may hinge on power of persuasion

“The American Army had arrived. Taliban fighters had been pushed on the defensive with surprising ease. With U.S. attack helicopters zipping by overhead, Babur elders gathered alongside swaths of red grapes drying in the southern Afghanistan dirt to hear from the new village rulers.”

Good Government Groups Raise Questions About New White House Ethics Czar

“When the Obama administration announced last month that Norm Eisen, the specially appointed White House “czar” for ethics and transparency, was leaving to become the ambassador to the Czech Republic, advocates of campaign finance reform and “good government” groups in Washington took the news hard. They describe Eisen’s tenure as a “dream come true,” and worry that no one will adequately fill his shoes. When they learned two weeks ago that White House counsel Bob Bauer would take over for Eisen, that sadness turned to angry disbelief. “Bob Bauer doesn’t have the DNA to be an ethics czar,” charges Ellen Miller, executive director of the Sunlight Foundation, echoing a complaint common among advocates for greater transparency in government. “He’s always defended the ability of special interests to put money into campaigns.””

U.S. Farmers Wary of Benefiting From Russia’s Woes

“Farmers in America’s bread-basket are leery of the recent rise in wheat prices, prompted by the drought in Russia.”

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