Obama: Bin Laden Death Should Unite Country

President Obama addressed the nation from the East Room of the White House shortly after 11:30 p.m. this evening to announce that terrorist leader Osama bin Laden had been killed in a fire fight by U.S. troops in Pakistan earlier today.

Obama said the White House had first been alerted to a lead on bin Laden’s whereabouts back in August.

The president said that “small team of Americans carried out operation. They took care to avoid civilian casualties.”

No Americans were killed in the incident, and troops were able to secure bin Laden’s body.

It remains unclear if the Pakistani government was alerted to the operation prior to its commencement.

Obama closed the speech by issuing a call to unity among Americans, much like the mood that prevailed shortly after the attacks in 2001. Broadcast news reports showed a cheering crowd had gathered outside the White House in anticipation of the president’s address.

Bin Laden’s death “marks the most significant achievement to date in terror war, but we must and we will remain vigilant at home and abroad,” Obama said.

He added: “Tonight we are once again reminded that America can do whatever we set our minds to.”

Osama Bin Laden Dead (Updated)

Multiple cable sources are reporting that Osama Bin Laden is dead, and the United States military has his body. President is expected to address the country soon. Will update during his speech.

Update 1:

White House Sr. staff is about to hold a background conference call to update reporters. If you are watching the networks or following on twitter, you know there are a lot differing reports.

In the past 10 minutes many outlets are reporting that Bin Laden was killed by CIA agents in an operation outside the capital of Pakistan, Islamabad. Again, none of this is confirmed, we are waiting to hear from the White House, and obviously for the President’s speech.

We are also hearing that people outside the gates of the White House chanting “USA”, singing the national anthem and “We Are The Champions”. Also, I am told the “USA” chant broke out at the Mets v. Phillies baseball game.

Update 2:

The Weekend That Was

Mayor Bloomberg solves the nation’s immigration problem, saying: “Assuming you could wave a magic wand and pull everybody together, you pass a law letting immigrants come in as long as they agree to go to Detroit and live there for five or ten years.” (Video here).

A spokeswoman for Detroit Mayor Dave Bing said: “Everybody has an idea or solution for Detroit but it’s a lot of Monday morning quarterbacking and back-seat driving.”

Cuomo is mixing his push for legalization of same-sex marriage with fundraising.

The NYPD is looking into a complaint lodged by NYC Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott after the car in which he was being driven was pulled over.

Joyce Purnick was told by her mother to stay about from the “neighborhood hellion,” Donald Trump, when she was growing up in Queens. She reminds NYers of how The Donald is “ruled by ego, not by reason.”

John McCain on Trump’s potential run: “I think he may try to, but I don’t think that’s going to happen. I think Mr. Trump is having a lot of fun. If Mr. Trump wants to run, he’s welcome to run.”

The department is also investigating published reports that officers voided the drunk driving arrest of a Bronx ADA.

Michael Goodwin approves of the low-profile approach adopted by New York’s “undercover governor.”

Seth Meyers took aim at both Donald Trump and the president at the White House Correspondents Dinner.

The event’s red carpet was live-blogged by POLITICO.

Bloomberg will speak at the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence 25th anniversary Academic Awards banquet in Norman, OK on May 12.

NYRA defended the out-of-state call center contract Cuomo criticized.

More >

‘Real American’ Zings Trump

If you haven’t seen this one yet, it’s worth a watch. President Obama spoke at the White House Correspondents Dinner last night and spent a lot of time dwelling on the birther issue while Donald Trump sat – rather uncomfortably and smiling tightly, grimly – at the Washington Post’s table.

At about the 8-minute mark, the president starts poking fun at his would-be GOP challengers:

“Michelle Bachman is here tonight, and she is thinking of running for president, which is weird because I hear she was born in Canada. Yes, Michelle, this is how it starts – just letting you know. (Big applause, laugheter, cheers).

“Tim Pawlenty. He seems all-American. But have you heard his real middle name.?Tim Hosni Pawlenty? What a shame.”

“My buddy, our outstanding ambassador John Huntsman is with us. Now, there’s something you might not know about John. He didn’t learn to speak Chinese to go there. Oh no. He learned English to come here.”

“And then there’s a vicious rumor floating around…I heard he passed universal health care when he was governor of Massachusetts. Someone should get to the bottom of that, and I know just the guy to do it. Donald Trump is here tonight.” (Big cheers, applause).

“Now, I know he’s been taking some flack lately, but no one is happier, no one is prouder to put this birth certificate to rest than The Donald. That’s because he can finally get back to focusing on the issues that matter: Like did we fake the moon landing? What really happened in Roswell? And where are Biggie and Tupac?” (Trump almost seemed to crack a real smile at that one).

“All kidding aside, obviously we all know about your credentials your breadth of experience. For example, no, seriously, just recently, in an episode of ‘Celebrity Apprentice’, at the steakhouse the men’s cooking team did not impress the judges from Omaha Steaks. And there was a lot of blame to go around. But you, Mr. Trump, recognized that the real problem was a lack of leadership.”

“And so, ultimately, you didn’t blame Little John or Meatloaf. You fired Gary Busey. And these are the kinds of decisions that would keep me up at night.” (Prolonged applause, cheers). “Well, handled, sir. Well handled.”

It doesn’t stop there, either. But you get the idea.

Flanagan To Stay In Senate (Updated)

Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos is resting easy tonight following today’s news that Sen. John Flanagan won’t run for Suffolk County Executive.

From Skelos’ statement:

“John Flanagan is a trusted public servant and a close friend, and I know this decision was a difficult one for him and his family. While I have no doubt that John would have made a great County Executive, he is already a terrific State Senator and a tireless worker on behalf of Suffolk County residents in Albany.”

Flanagan had been toying with the idea of running for job ever since Steve Levy, a Democrat-turned-Republican and one-time gubernatorial contender, announced he wasn’t running after the county district attorney investigated his campaign finances.

Babylon Supervisor Steve Bellone announced earlier this week he would seek the Democratic nomination for the job. Republican Assemblyman Mike Fitzpatrick has also expressed interest in running.

But the political ramifications for the state would have been huge.

If Flanagan had been victorious and left the Senate, which is narrowly controlled by Republicans 32-30, a Democratic pickup would result in a 31-31 tie.

A 31-31 tie could mean any number of things: whether the Republican move to limit the power of the lieutenant governor to break deadlocked votes is constitutional and if the Independent Democratic Conference of Sens. Jeff Klein, Diane Savino, David Valesky and David Carlucci can play kingmaker.

UPDATE: Flanagan’s statement appears after the jump, following the full statement from Skelos.

More >

Weekend Open Thread

Lots of possibilities for discussion….

- The royal wedding is over and the honeymoon has commenced. Life for all us commoners can return to what passes for normal.

- Cuomo 2014 is on.

- State lawmakers will be busy when they return to work on Albany Monday.

- Disgraced ex-state Comptroller Alan Hevesi’s onetime political Svengali, Hank Morris, is now his sworn enemy.

- Democrats are taking a page from the GOP playbook, forming independent committees that have limited reporting requirements to help the president and the party in 2012.

- The nation’s 15 highest taxed counties are all north of the New York City suburbs or in the western part in the state.

- It appears Jane Corwin is worth more than Jack Davis.

- The people behind Donald Trump’s non-campaign include not a few New Yorkers.

ICYMI: The Donald dropped five f-bombs during his speech to a GOP women’s group in Las Vegas. The crowd didn’t seem to mind. In fact, they loved it. Is this presidential behavior? Thoughts?

NYRA Responds To Governor

NYRA CEO Charlie Hayward says of course he will comply with the Governor’s request to work with the Empire State Development Corporation to keep jobs in New York State.

Yesterday, Cuomo released a letter to the press calling NYRA’s recent decision to outsource some telephone wagering to another state “troubling.”

In his response, Hayward explained that no jobs were lost in the process. Instead, they had seen such a large increase in volume since the closure of the New York City OTB that they had to seek help. He also made it clear that it was done with the knowledge of the state Racing and Wagering Board.

“The decision to utilize additional telephone outsourcing services was made pursuant to law and approved by the New York State Racing and Wagering Board after several weeks of discussions with the Board, and subsequent to prior decisions by the Board to approve the outsourcing of telephone wagering operations by both Yonkers Raceway and Saratoga Harness,” Hayward writes

“The imminent opening of the Belmont Park and Saratoga racing seasons – including the large public interest in the next several weeks of Triple Crown racing fan participation will result in additional call volumes – and of course additional revenues and employment to all participants in the racing industries in the State.”

Hayward goes on to say that NYRA has actually increased the number of union mutuel tellers since the closure of NYCOTB.

Nyra Gov Response

Extras

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has skipped all three of President Obama’s NYC visits in the past month. His staff says he’s too busy working.

Azi Paybarah notes the governor’s poll numbers are considerably higher than Obama’s

Former Staten Island BP Guy Molinari called Donald Trump “a son of a bitch”, and is upset he’s “creating so many problems” for the GOP and “legitimate” candidates.

Says Roger Stone: “The good news for Obama is that Trump can no longer use the birth certificate issue – the bad news is Trump will now pound the Administration on gas prices, unemployment and two (or is it three?) wars that are sapping our national resources.”

Mayor Bloomberg is worried about the royal newlyweds’ privacy.

A transgender rights group is honoring former Gov. David Paterson.

Eliot Spitzer is still beating the drum against Wall Street.

The Club for Growth called Sen. Chuck Schumer a “job-killing protectionist.”

Bloomberg View editorials will start appearing late next month, and they will be “fiscally conservative and socially liberal” – just like a certain post-partisan billionaire mayor for which the editorials are named.

Spitzer insists he doesn’t has a bias, but also doesn’t believe objectivity is possible.

Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo wants SUNY Binghamton included in the upcoming UB2020 summit.

RIP Hope Reichbach.

NJ Gov. Chris Christie (who isn’t running – yet) is tied with Mitt Romney for the 2012 GOP nod if big names like Trump, Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin stay out of it.

The CFB released an annual report on voter assistance in NYC.

Cuomo toured flood-ravaged Moriah in the Adirondacks and declared a state of emergency in Essex County.

New Yorker writer Evan Ratliff counters Rep. Michael Grimm.

There were reports Rudy Giuliani planned to tour a storm-damaged county in the South.

Politics as lawn art in NY-26.

ICYMI: Here is Donald Trump’s expletive laden speech to conservatives in Las Vegas last night. (Around 5 minutes in is the most controversial part)

Slaughter: ‘Brilliant’ Obama, Smarter Than Jefferson?

I didn’t get a chance to post this yesterday, but YNN Buffalo’s Kevin Jolly caught up with the ever-quotable Rep. Louise Slaughter to ask for her (somewhat belated) reaction to President Obama’s release Wednesday of his long-form birth certificate.

Jolly barely got his question out – he asked whether this move would put the whole birther issue to rest – before the Democratic WNY congresswoman interrupted him, saying:

“Look, the media has to lay that to rest. The media’s the one that’s always asking that. But I was dumbfounded by the idea that everybody’s saying he should stop talking about it. I mean, they’re trying to even blame that on him.”

“It’s a matter of embarrassment before the rest of the world that we would ask that of a president. No other president has ever been asked for that. Now they want his college grades? I mean, enough already. I think they ought to relax and give competence a chance.”

Jolly then asked: “What is behind this? I don’t get this.”

“Yes you do, and it’s a really dreadful thing,” Slaughter retorted. “I mean, the man is so brilliant.”

“Let me tell you something that I read this about the first book he wrote, “Dreams of My Father” (sic; it’s actually “Dreams From My Father“…That book did not have to be edited.”

“Now I don’t know about you, but I have never heard editors and publishers that a book didn’t have to be touched – by anybody! I bet even old Thomas Jefferson even had some changes made. That’s an extraordinary achievement.”

Slaughter may have unwittingly re-opened the whole authorship question – another favorite topic of the anti-Obama types, and something Trump himself has raised during his non-campaign for president.

Senate To Consider Gas Tax Holiday Next Week (Updated)

A bill that would suspend a trio of gasoline sales taxes will be considered by the Senate next week, according to a committee agenda posted this afternoon.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Greg Ball, R-Carmel, will be considered by the Senate Committee on Investigations and Government Operations on Tuesday. The bill would also have to go through the Senate Finance Committee before it could be considered by the full chamber.

The measure would suspend the 8-cent excise tax, the 8-cent sales tax and the 17-cent petroleum business tax during the Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day weekends. New Yorkers pay among the highest gasoline prices in the country.

A same-as measure is backed by Assemblyman Jim Tedisco, R-Saratoga, in the Democratic-led Assembly. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has not ruled out a gas tax holiday as the average price-per-gallon in New York tops $4, citing the negative economic impact high gas prices are having on the recovery.

Though the Conservative Party — whose leadership as backed Cuomo’s fiscal policies — cheered the measure, Associated General Contractors of New York President and CEO Mike Elmendorf sounded a note of concern over the proposal, saying it would starve the Dedicated Bridge and Highway Trust Fund.

Update: Tedisco spokesman Adam Kramer says the Assembly version has been assigned to the Ways and Means Committee, but it has not appeared on any agendas for next week.