August 9th, 2010
11:35 AM ET

Monday's intriguing people

Michelle Obama

Her mother-daughter jaunt to Spain is turning into a PR tangle for the White House. It began with a New York Daily News column written by a Republican consultant last Thursday. Columnist Andrea Tantaros called the First Lady a ‘Modern-Day Marie Antoinette.’

“While she's spent her time in the White House telling parents they should relieve their chubby kids' dependency on sugar and stressing the importance of an organic veggie garden,” Tantaros wrote, “hopping a jet to Europe to meet with Spanish royalty isn't the visual the White House probably wants to project. Perhaps they've forgotten the damning image of John Kerry, on the eve of the 2004 election, windsurfing off the coast of Nantucket?”

While Tantaros reported a travel entourage of 40 friends and family, the White House is downplaying those numbers. Additionally Mrs. Obama has covered her own expenses on the trip, a spokesman said. The federal government, however, does cover the Secret Service tab - a hefty sum, according to critics.

Right-wing blogs are repurposing the story, and now making video blogs asking Americans what they think of the trip. Possibly making matters worse might be the remainder of the Obama summer schedule: a family weekend in the Gulf, followed by ten days in Martha’s Vineyard, which isn't far from Nantucket.

CNN: Michelle Obama and daughter arrive in southern Spain

NY Daily News: Material girl Michelle Obama is a modern-day Marie Antoinette on a glitzy Spanish vacation

Mark David Chapman

The man who killed John Lennon in 1980 is scheduled to go before a parole board sometime this week. It will be the sixth time since 2000 that Chapman has pursued an early release.

Chapman, now 55, is serving a 20-years-to sentence at the maximum-security Attica Correctional Facility for the murder, which took place a close range in front of Lennon’s New York City apartment building.

A former mental patient, Chapman was holding a copy of J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye when he shot Lennon. He had penned “This is my statement” inside the book cover. In 1992 Chapman told ABC’s Barbara Walters that voices in his head told him ‘Do it! Do it! Do it!” “I thought by killing him, I would have his fame,” Chapman said.

According to reports, Lennon's widow, Yoko Ono, is asking the parole board to deny release. At least four letters against Chapman's release have been received by the board, while two others have been submitted in favor of releasing him. An Attica spokesman has indicated that Chapman has been a model prisoner since 1994. He even has special conjugal visits with Gloria, his wife of 20 years.

CNN: Man who murdered John Lennon up for parole again

TIME: Yoko Ono: No Parole for Lennon's Killer

Layne Morris and Omar Khadr

Layne Morris, a former U.S. Special Forces officer, will testify this week in the Obama administration’s first full military commission hearing to be held at Guantanamo Bay. The trial will focus on Omar Khadr, accused of committing terrorist acts and killing a U.S. Special Forces soldier while he was a child soldier of Al Qaeda. Khadr has been held in the facility since he was 15 years old.

Morris told the Toronto Star this weekend that he will tell the military commission about the events that happened in a July 2002 attack on him and other Delta officers in Afghanistan. During the attack, Khadr allegedly threw the hand grenade that killed Army Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Speer. Shrapnel during the attack hit Morris causing him to lose an eye.

CNN has reported that Khadr is suspected of spying for Al Qaeda, as well as making and planting roadside bombs during the early days of the U.S. war in Afghanistan. Now 23, Khadr—through his military attorney—has said his testimony was coerced through torture.

Ironically the trial will bring some sort of resolution for both men, the Star reported. For Khadr, a Canadian citizen, it could mean being any place else after eight years besides Guantanamo. For Morris, who is now retired in Salt Lake City: “I have to finish it, but as far as emotion, or do I have anything invested in it? I can't say that I do. I don't need that to feel like I personally have been avenged or a wrong has been righted or anything like that. I guess it has just been too long.”

The Star: U.S. soldiers will tell their stories at Khadr's trial

CNN: First trial of Gitmo prisoner under Obama administration to begin

Tom Little

The volunteer aide worker and optometrist who had made Afghanistan his second home since as early as 1983 was among ten aide workers shot to death last week by the Taliban.

Little, 62, was leading a team of providing eyecare to Afghan citizens in remote areas of the country when a Taliban convoy stopped them in Badakhshan province. The group's Muslim driver, survived only after pleading for his life and reciting a verse from the Koran, according to an account in the Washington Post.

A British eye surgeon, Karen Woo, who’d given up her practice to treat people, in Afghanistan was killed. So was Cheryl Beckett, a 32-year-old aide worker, who is the daughter of a Knoxville, Tennessee-based minister. Four other Americans, two Afghan citizens, and a German were also executed.

The New York Daily News reported that during the 27 years that Little worked in Afghanistan, he learned the local language, mastered the diplomatic patience required to survive the region, and supervised three 40-bed hospitals in three large cities, and three 10-bed facilities in smaller outposts in the country.

NY Daily News: New York optometrist, Tom Little, 62, one of six American aid workers killed in Afghanistan

Washington Post: Devastated Christian aid group pledges to continue work in Afghanistan

WBIR: Daughter of Knoxville minister among those found dead in Afghanistan

soundoff (181 Responses)
  1. E.Watson

    I can not believe the stupid comments regarding Mrs Obama vacation. Like the other presidents wives she is not poor.
    Get real and get the correct facts . WE STILL PAY FOR THE PROTECTION OF OUR PAST PRESIDENTS AND THEIR FAMILIES. Complain about that. The Presidents needs to take more time find solutions for problems created by
    the last leader. If there are others of you who have the answers please e-mail the White House...they will give them consideration.

    August 9, 2010 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Europeandesigner

      ..while you are correct that you still pay for the protection of previous presidents, they are LEGAL presidents. This Kenyan serial liar Usurper has no business being in the WH!
      The entire world LAUGHS at you fools!

      August 9, 2010 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Francois

      I fart in your general direction!

      August 10, 2010 at 2:38 am | Report abuse |
  2. Richelle

    The Obamas are still a family. Why doesn't anyone consider that maybe they want to maintain their familial bond during this term? What exactly should a president do if this is so terribly insensitive? Should he lock himself and his family inside for the whole term and put them to work on plans to fix the country? Just as America treats celebrities as if they should have no personal life of their own, America treats the president as if he should not either. With everything has recently occurred around the world and throughout our nation, of course the president, just as anyone else would, needs a break to deal with his own stress and family priorities. Furthermore, we all have a part to play in things such as the oil spill. Do you think President Obama is pouring gallons and gallons of gasoline into his own vehicle making it necessary for this drilling, which caused the disaster? Look in a mirror ladies and gentlemen. You're the addicts. You and I know that our resistance to change to the better alternatives because of cost or whatever other excuse you want to make played a good part in all of this. We're greedy. The president isn't the solution, he is a figurehead. And as far as I know, he has caused a lot of hope to rise within this nation. You all are the ones shooting it down. What have you done for our nation? Have you canceled all family trips, called up your energy provider to switch to wind powered electricity, traded in that gas-guzzler for a car powered on renewable energy? I doubt it.

    That is all. Go about your business, you morons.

    August 9, 2010 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • noonespecial

      "maintain their familial bond? " Is that why she went to Spain and he went to Chicago at the same time, for his birthday no less.

      August 9, 2010 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Stephen

    We have a huge, unreported gap in this country and it has nothing to do with money and everything to do with knowledge and intelligence. It is clear to me that to some, there is nothing that this President and his family can do that is correct. I am so tied of the self-righteous and the totally intollerant, those unwilling to respectfully agree to disagree. We complain about our frustration the politics of government and with our elected officials who continue the same obscene campaingn strategies, because they are obviously working with a segment of the population. It is a reality that many of those out of work will remain that way unless they get retrained in another occupation.

    August 9, 2010 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Ella01

    And Matthew, you are an idiot. The ranch was GWB's home. Michelle and her daughter should have vacationed in Chicago then, if you'd like to make that argument.

    Vernis, way to pull out the race card, pal. A+ on that one. That argument is so overused it isn't even relevant any more.

    Lis – as far as advanced education goes, not everyone that has ever been in the White House has advanced degrees. If they are so privileged because of their credentials, then they should pay their own way with ZERO tax dollars spent.

    The funny thing is, this was exactly this administration's argument. This is how they got elected. Preaching EVIL about rich people and how they have and you don't, the rich are living it up at your expense, making their living off the working American's back....remember? Gee, funny how all that fades away when Spain's beaches are calling and tax paying citizens are choking out $75000 a day so you can clear the beach to swim. Sorry B.O. You can't have it both ways.

    August 9, 2010 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
  5. kowa

    Mighty arrogant to be living like a queen in Spain while 10% of our people are unemployed and we have a record deficet.

    August 9, 2010 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Lover of the Obamas

    All you haters and stupid news reporters get off the Obamas case. Get a life and instead of complaining, why not try to do something positive to help make the situation better. Have you all forgotten that this mess started long before the Obamas showed up on the scene. The saying is that you can't please all the people all the time is true. No matter what you do some idiot will find fault. If the shoe fits, honey, than wear it.

    August 9, 2010 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Richelle

    One more thing- do a little something for yourself: go to school, take some classes on politics and social welfare policies. Then come back and try to express your ignorant opinion that Obama is a communist or a socialist.

    August 9, 2010 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lucy

      It is what it is. And ignorant I am not.

      August 9, 2010 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Europeandesigner

      I have one better for you - Barry Soetoro aka Barack Hussein Obama is not even qualified to BE president! Watch out for the next Wikileaks..

      August 9, 2010 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Jeffrey Flynn

    How many times can CNN put right wing and Republican in this story? What that a Producer contest? You as a bias network consistantly try to avoid the true. The First Lady of the United States of America went to the Gulf Coast 6 weeks ago and told all Americans "Come down here and vacation. Spend Money in this area that so desparately needs our support" With that she jets off to Europe and lets be very specific, Michelle Obama paid a coach fare for her and her daughter as required for a private trip. Guess What, it wasn't a two seater plane she flew over there. To add insult to injury she is fitting in a weekend in the gulf coast. The Obama's are very arrogant people and the Marie Annoitette comment was very accurate as much as CNN hates to acknowledge that. When they actually start caring about the American people through their actions and not their words maybe this undeserved Obama worshiping of CNN will be warranted.

    August 9, 2010 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Ella01

    I am curious Richelle, have you?

    "What have you done for our nation? Have you canceled all family trips, called up your energy provider to switch to wind powered electricity, traded in that gas-guzzler for a car powered on renewable energy? "

    It is always interesting to sit back and watch liberals preach about what we should be doing, and then not doing it themselves.

    August 9, 2010 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Richelle

      Actually, I don't drive. I have a car, but besides general upkeep, I keep it in a garage. I can't afford a more environmentally safe vehicle at the moment. I generally walk everywhere that I can. For far distances, I take public transportation. My electricity bills (Excel energy) are 10% wind power. Thank you for your concern though.
      And I never said that I was liberal. It's funny that you assume that. I'm actually fiscally republican, socially liberal.

      Bye now.

      August 9, 2010 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ella01

      LOL @ Richelle. Good for you! I'm glad to hear there is one person walking the walk. I do drive. A gas guzzler. It tows a trailer and fits my family and all our stuff in it. Its not Spain, but family time is important, right? I don't live near public transportation or an energy company that offers wind energy. Funny, everyone talks about the benefits of wind energy, but no one wants a wind mill in their backyard. I do other things to be somewhat "green", however. It's just the gas guzzler thing that gets the most time in the press. I don't care, and I am not going to apologize for it. It is all just a political game.

      I am curious, however, that you manage to be "fiscally Republican" yet "socially liberal"? How does one find middle ground there?

      August 9, 2010 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Wondering

    Greatest president of all time? Why? Kept teachers and policemen on their jobs? Where do you live?
    And it isn't white people who are prejudice, it's people like you who are prejudice. I'm tired of hearing of white people this, white people that and poor black people. Get over the color of someone's skin!!!!!
    And I don't care if the the president and his family is black, white, yellow or red, I care about who is paying for this so-called vacation

    August 9, 2010 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hope

      I wonder if you remember your history are just stupid and live in a cave, America is a racist nation of greedy people with little hearts and minds, liken to yours. He is the best hope for us to change. You will not however change. You will live in your little minded life thinking you are better because of your color not your character. America has a president with character and only focuses on his color and will not admit their bias. I wonder Wondering, where we would have been with McCain and Palin. You know she was not a qualified canidiate for the job and McCain and the Republican have pushed ignorant people to lead us. Now we have a great president and you are blind to the reason people are down about him and the Republican only vote No to anything that is needed and make issue about changing the ways we do business. I wonder Wondering what will we be doing now if we had the same structure as before. You should try to change a little for anything that does not grow is retarded.
      Stop being a retarded heart person, wonder on that

      August 9, 2010 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • American

      Hope – With another 6-8 Trillion in the bank instead of on pork spending. Of course Congress authorized, but Obamas lack of leadership contributed greatly. It seems like YOU are the RACIST! Try to make your points without calling people names or defining them as small minded or retarded. Use your "education" to make valid points!

      August 9, 2010 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
  11. shewett

    OK, so they took a vacation. I don't have a problem with that part. i have a problem with 40 close friends going with them and staying at a 5 star resort. There are plenty of resorts here in the US. The money spent abroad is helping those countries, not our own. If the first lady wants to take a vacation to educate her daughter and show her some culture, then go to some of the resorts here. Help our own economy.....

    By the way, I work 2 jobs, and have only made day trips this summer. I have not had a raise in 2 years in either of my jobs because of budget freezes. As a teacher I still spend well over $500 annually for my classroom supplies..The President and first lady need to really see what the average American has to deal with on a daily basis. They are out of touch with reality.

    August 9, 2010 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Yw

      People are so filled with jealousy.If I can't do it than I'm mad because she can do it. Get a life and put energy into your I've. If you can't find a job maybe look at yourself and the career that you chose the factory job is nt there anymore. Stop being bitter and find a new trade. Even if you went to college maybe you chose the wrong field or live in the wrong city or town for your trade. Adapt or change with life. It seems that the complainers are made with the president for things they have more control over. A dose of reality is you chose that dead end career, took out that loans or whatever else you are blaming him for. Btw I traveled internationally two to three times a year and only stay five star. I wouldn't expect anyone with a upper income to be lodging at the days inn or holiday inn. Get a life whiners and create change in your life how long do you sit around and complain-make something happen. Also if you have to work two jobs than you can not afford to travel to spain-think local travel instead. First lady Obama I hope you had a fabulous time-you are a millionaire and you can afford to go wherever with security at least for the next two years . Don't waste your time with envy folks-these are the same people who can not be happy for anyone that gets or does anything that they can not do.

      August 9, 2010 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
  12. ITAnalyst

    I will say this one time only. Since you are online already go to google and look up words of wisdom from every U.S. President from Ike until now. They have been warning the people of the U.S. for decades now, the Global Economy is coming. Regan,Bush,Clinton,Bush....all said the same thing. We are Post the Industrial Revolution businesses are competing World-Wide. Stop crying about what you don't have, go do something!!! WE caused the meltdown in Housing! Buying things we don't need, We caused our financial house to not be in order. WE always want something FREE. NOTHING is FREE. Not even these Damn TAX-CUTS (We borrow the money from CHINA) DUMMIES. The OIL spill is OUR Fault, they have been drilling there for 75 Years!!!! It was bound to happen. What are the people in Louisiana going to do when BP leaves and takes those jobs somewhere people don't act retarded when crisis hits? another 60,000 people out of work. My Civics Teacher (Mr. Phepher) said this would happen in 1989. If you don't provide a service ie Health Care, Teacher, Dr, Lawyer,IT,Cook. You better get retrained for something else. We no longer are in the Industrial Revolution!! so...In closing Mrs. Obama is not the issue, neither is the Pres, neither is Bush, Clinton, Regan they all tried to tell one is listening...Congress is useless.....Repubs..Dems...nothing. Blame yourselves for not preparing for the future. Were spoiled thats why we are being left in the past. Those middle class manufacturing jobs are never coming back. not while they are willing to work for $2.00 an hour in Mex,China,India.. we can't compete. STOP blaming President's!! they were one listened.

    August 9, 2010 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ella01

      Fellow ITer, I agree with you. However, when a candidate uses exactly that platform to get elected, then is he not blame-worthy? When he promises the world, blames the previous administration for all they have not done for the poor, unwashed masses, are you saying he can't be held responsible for what he said he would do but in reality is not capable of? He may not be capable of righting all the wrongs – but in econtinually leading the people to believe the federal government is the answer to all issues, they are digging themselves deeper and deeper. The federal government doesn't offer common sense education, only tax dollars thrown at a problem unsolveable without a revolution. Ideology is not the way to govern, just like it is not the way to parent. Time for some restraint and COMMON SENSE. Unfortunately, I believe we will get neither of those things, just more sunshine and lollipops.

      August 9, 2010 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Trudy718

    I'm a Republican but this just doesn't bother me. All First Ladies travel for personal & White House business, & everyone knows the Secret Service is required to go with her. Nancy Reagan, Barbara Bush, Hillary ... they've all done it as First Ladies. I may not like Obama but this is a non-issue & is completely blown out of proportion by a foolish GOP consultant looking to stir up trouble. Focus on the issues, this is not one of them.

    August 9, 2010 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Europeandesigner

    I am sorry, many of you Americans are flat out WRONG.. we laugh at your first "lady" who tells you what your kids can/should eat while she has the biggest caboose.. your media calls her a "fashion icon" while she has no taste in clothes.. but MOST importantly – she admits in a video that her husband was born in Kenya but your citizens are SCARED witless, possibly because many of "Obama's" boyfriends were murdered..
    You Americans are the biggest COWARDS! No one can push a foreigner on to us! Grow a spine, perhaps we will one of these days respect you again, for now you are dumb, even your judges don't have what it takes! Shame on you!

    August 9, 2010 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |

      Thanks for say it as you see it. In America they don't know what is fashion .If is spandex and fits like a reviling glove they call it fashion. If they add ribbons it's a god knows what. They confuse beach attire with official attire. What a shame for America. But the question is how many times did she visited Europe before she did it on taxpayers money. If she was fond of Europe why she didn't do it before with her 40 friends.

      August 9, 2010 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Francois


      Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries!

      August 10, 2010 at 2:42 am | Report abuse |
  15. David

    You know what? Screw all you haters! If Obama came out with a decree and said "Neither I nor my wife will take vacations during my presidency," you would label him a communist and find something else to complain about. Since you're going to complain anyway, he should take all the vacations he wants! What does it matter anyway? He can take vacations for the rest of the year and not equal the amount of days Bush took. If he chose not to travel at taxpayers expense you would say, "Why isn't the President showing up to the Gulf? Why is not visiting the unemployed factory workers in Indiana?" In your mind he can't win either way, so again, if I was him, I would just go on whatever vacations or any other travel he wants. You'll never be satisfied either way. At least he can enjoy himself while you hate him instead of sit around and mope while you hate him.

    August 9, 2010 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • The Moose is Loose

      Screw you David - YOU are part of the problem, not the solution. And get this (how's this for HONESTY?)...Bush did a horrible job too. That's right - he was no Conservative. So take that - I'm someone who is honest enough to call a spade a spade. 🙂

      August 9, 2010 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ella01

      I agree, Moose! Bush ended up being barely a Republican by the end of his term.

      And David – I honestly wouldn't care how many vacations the Obamas took, or how many parties at the WH they hosted, if they were paying every single dollar themselves, including transportation, security, etc. As long as they weren't spending tax dollars, they could spend the whole summer in Europe for all I care. And he would show up at the Gulf, using his own money, if that's what he really cared about. But that is not the case. He just talks a good game, if you haven't noticed by now. It's the hypocrisy!! I keep saying it because it's the truth. Funny how no one will argue against that, they will only say "you hate because he's black" or "Bush did it first..." LOL

      August 10, 2010 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
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