In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Here are the line-ups for the Sunday talk shows this weekend:

• ABC, This Week: Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-AZ).

• CBS, Face The Nation: Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Ranking Member Jeff Sessions (R-AL).

• CNN, State Of The Union: Sec. of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius; Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI); Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH); Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN); and Sen Kent Conrad (D-ND).

• Fox News Sunday: Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX); House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA).

• NBC, Meet The Press: Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY).

So who exactly did call in that noise complaint against a fundraiser two weeks ago for Democratic House candidate Francine Busby (CA-50) -- the one that, through a bizarre series of events, culminated in a full-scale raid by the San Diego Sheriff's Department? One of the host's neighbors, it turns out, is very eager to clear her own name and say it wasn't her.

I just spoke with with Jeannie Goodsell, a retiree who lives immediately adjacent to the residence (though the lots are very large -- the houses are over 100 yards apart). The caller is believed by attendees to have been the same person who yelled obscenities and anti-gay slurs at the event -- and Goodsell doesn't want any confusion that this didn't happen from her house.

She said there was no noise at all. "We were home. We didn't even know that the party or whatever it was, the fundraiser, happened behind us," Goodsell told me. "We heard the helicopters that night, but every once in a while helicopters do fly over these orchards, so we didn't think anything about it." She only found out what happened from reporters who came by her home to ask her about it.

"What started bothering us is, it showed up in print that people directly west behind them started harassing them and yelling things about gays," said Goodsell. "We're liberal Democrats -- we have a Buddha on our table."

Read More →

Deserved or not, the biggest political thorn in Sonia Sotomayor's side has been one Frank Ricci of New Haven, CT. Ricci is a firefighter who sued the city claiming reverse discrimination in 2003 after officials there discarded the results of a firefighter's promotion test after the test was revealed to have a disparate impact on blacks and Hispanics.

But flash back, if you will, to January 25, 1995, when, according to the Hartford Courant Ricci was singing the opposite tune: "A decorated firefighter has filed a lawsuit against the city, saying he was not hired because he is dyslexic."

The lawsuit, filed recently in federal court, could shed light on the selection process used by the city, which has been beset with criticism over politics and nepotism.

Frank Ricci charges in the lawsuit that the city violated the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities.

Ricci, a Wallingford native who now lives in Maryland, was one of 795 candidates who were interviewed for 40 openings. Ricci told interviewers that he has a learning disability, the lawsuit says.

Fire commissioners have said that although Ricci was qualified, many others also were qualified because they passed the Civil Service examination.


Two years later, that case was resolved. "In a confidential settlement, struck two years later, Mr. Ricci withdrew his lawsuit in exchange for a job with the fire department and $11,143 in attorney's fees."

If you were Frank Ricci, you might say something like, "Frank Ricci got a job and somebody who wasn't dyslexic didn't." Remember, this is the same Frank Ricci who took his reverse discrimination suit all the way to the Supreme Court, where lower court rulings against him--including one by Sotomayor's Second Circuit--were overturned.

Ricci will testify against Sotomayor before the Senate Judiciary Committee next week--this despite the fact that his views on jurisprudence seem to begin and end with the proposition that legal protections against discrimination are great when they work in his favor, and unconscionable when they don't.

The Club For Growth appears to be becoming a little reluctant about getting involved in the Florida Senate Republican primary, the Tampa Bay Tribune reports, in the wake of moderate Gov. Charlie Crist's $4.3 million haul for the last quarter, compared to his more conservative opponent Marco Rubio's mere $340,000.

"We have to look at his race versus all the others we're interested in, and there are going to be a lot of competitive races," said Club executive director David Keating. He further explained: "We look for the most bang for the contribution buck - a race we think can be competitive."

Keating said that more important than Crist's fundraising figures is the amount that Rubio himself can bring in, and whether he can raise enough to get his message out -- which Keating estimated to be in the $4-5 million range.

So all Rubio needs to do is raise a few million on top of his $340,000, and he should be set.

Rep. Roy Blunt (R-MO), the likely Republican nominee in this swing state's top-tier 2010 Senate race, made a very interesting statement about health care reform: Suggesting that government should never have gotten involved in health care through Medicare and Medicaid back in the 1960s -- and possibly blaming those programs for the problems we have today.



"Well, you could certainly argue that government should have never have gotten in the health care business, and that might have been the best argument of all, to figure out how people could have had more access to a competitive marketplace," Blunt said during a radio interview. "Government did get into the health care business in a big way in 1965 with Medicare, and later with Medicaid, and government already distorts the marketplace."

"A government competitor would drive all the other competitors away," he explained. "What we should be doing is creating more competition. One of the reasons the marketplace doesn't work the way it should work right now is we really don't have the competitive marketplace that I'd like to see put in place."

A new survey of Minnesota from Public Policy Polling (D) has some tough news for Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who is widely believed to be a potential presidential candidate for 2012. In his home state, where he is currently the two-term governor, he trails President Obama by a significant margin.

The numbers: Obama 51%, Pawlenty 40%, with a ±2.5% margin of error. This isn't all that different from the 54%-44% margin by which Obama defeated John McCain in Minnesota for the 2008 election.

Still, Pawlenty does better here than Sarah Palin: Obama leads her in this state by 56%-35%.

Obama's approval rating here is 54%, to a 39% disapproval, down from a 60%-30% score in April. From the pollster's analysis: "Barack Obama's popularity is declining as the economy continues to stagnate, but voters don't trust the Republican leaders either. It doesn't bode well for Tim Pawlenty's prospects nationally when he has such an uphill battle in his own state."

The Service Employees International Union is demanding that television stations in Arkansas and Nebraska pull down ads calling on Sens. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) Mark Pryor (D-AR), and Ben Nelson (D-NE) to vote against the "Employee Forced Choice Act."



"Your news network is running an advertisement sponsored by the Employee Freedom Action Committee," reads a letter the union sent to networks in both states, "which is demonstrably false and maliciously misleads viewers about unions and the Employee Free Choice Act."

In particular, the ad misleadingly refers to the "Employee Forced Choice Act."... The falsehoods and misrepresentations...warrant its immediate removal from the air.


The letter, which you can read here in full, explains the ads numerous distortions. The Employee Freedom Action Committee is the brainchild of notorious lobbyist Richard Berman, whose anti-union activities are well known to the labor movement.

Facing a deluge of letters from (mainly conservative) party members, House leaders have delayed unveiling their health care reform bill for at least a few days as they address a number of members' concerns. But the prime mover in their decision seems to have been pressure from Blue Dog Democrats, who delivered a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer last night.

"From where we are today, significant progress on the draft tri-committee health care reform proposal needs to be made in order to address each of these concerns," the letter reads. "We cannot support a final product that fails to do so. "

The letter, which you can access here, was signed by 40 of the 52-member coalition. Their concerns include deficit neutrality (the Blue Dog hobby horse) but also, financing, and the public option--which they say should not be able to use Medicare, or Medicare-like reimbursement rates (about 20 to 30 percent below the private market) but ought to compete on a level playing field. "We also wish to reiterate our support for the recommendations previously made by our Coalition regarding how to appropriately structure a public option," the letter reads. "In order to establish a level playing field, providers must be fairly reimbursed at negotiated rates and their participation must be voluntary."

That's fairly gentle language, and pretty remarkable when you consider that, until recently, a number of Senate Democrats were vying to scrap the public option altogether. I'll have more on this later today, but my immediate read on all this is that the Senate--its rules and its political makeup--remains the biggest hurdle to health care reform.

Late last night, House leadership decided it would postpone the release of its completed draft of health care reform legislation, after Blue Dog Democrats--and a variety of other concerned members--raised a number of objections to aspects of the proposal.

The bill was originally supposed to be unveiled late last night, but will now be postponed until at least early next week.

Leadership characterizes this as part of the negotiating process--and that's fair enough. The House is still on a much clearer, more united course toward passing legislation than is the Senate. But after weeks of smooth sailing in the lower chamber, this is the first serious speedbump.

Obama: "Full Recovery Is Still A Ways Off" During his press conference this morning, President Obama said the world seems to have avoided a total economic collapse, but that "full recovery is still a ways off." With the end of the G-8 Summit, Obama said leaders have agreed on significant measures for the economy, the environment and national security, with a "widespread consensus we must continue our work to restore economic growth and restore our financial regulatory systems."

Obama's Day: Meeting With The Pope President Obama attended a working breakfast with G-8 and African leaders, at 2:30 a.m. ET (8:30 a.m. local time). At 4:30 a.m. ET, he attended a meeting with G-8 and African leaders, and then at 6:35 a.m. ET he met with South African President Jacob Zuma. He held a press conference at 8 a.m. ET. At 10 a.m. ET, he will meet with Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone at the Vatican, and then at 10:15 a.m. he will have a bilateral meeting with Pope Benedict XVI. The First Family will have an audience with the Pope at 10:40 a.m. ET. At 12 p.m. ET, Obama will leave Rome for Accra, Ghana, arriving there at 4:20 p.m. ET.

Read More →

LiveWire