In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Rep. Steve Buyer (R-IN) took to the House floor this morning to denounce the tobacco regulation bill as a big step on the road to Tobacco Socialism. His argument: That the bill narrow-mindedly attempts to stop tobacco use entirely, as opposed to harnessing the powers of market innovation to develop and encourage people to use safer, less harmful tobacco products.

Buyer said that cessation programs have a success rate of only 7% -- meaning that we are accepting failure by going down this road. Instead, he said, we should be using market innovation to migrate populations over to safer and more mild tobacco products, which in turn could help people quit.

Buyer noted that people make "harm-reduction choices" every day, in terms of what they eat or drink, what car to drive, etc. "But how come we don't apply harm-reduction strategies to tobacco?" He asked. "We should. In the marketplace right now, there are many types of products."

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Obama And Congressional Negotiators Reach Compromise On Abuse Photos House and Senate negotiators have approved a $106 billion compromise bill to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, after President Obama personally intervened on the controversy over an amendment to forbid the release of detainee abuse photos. The amendment was removed in the hope of assuaging liberal Democrats -- but Obama promised to use all means at his disposal to prevent their release.

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama will meet at 2:30 p.m. ET with Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and at 2:50 p.m. ET with Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). At 3:30 p.m. ET, he will meet with Zimbabwean Prime Minister Moran Tsvangirai, who will press Obama for international aid and try to assuage the doubts about his country's political situation, given the uneasy power-sharing government he has with his rival, President Robert Mugabe.

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The folks at Right Wing Watch were on hand to film Randall Terry's press conference today, and have uploaded a couple key clips for everybody's...enjoyment. Here Terry inveighs against Republicans who might vote not support a filibuster of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor.

And here he explains that the murderer of abortion provider George Tiller is a modern day incarnation of rebel slave Nat Turner.

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It's been a rough day for the new Republican majority in the New York state Senate, which was achieved on Monday after two Democrats changed their organizational votes in order to flip control. They showed up to work today -- and then couldn't get anything done, and were ultimately shut down after one of the two switchers walked out of the chamber.

The state Senate Democrats are boycotting the legislature on the grounds that the coup on Monday was an illegal maneuver, and they're even going to court to try to forbid it. (Democratic Gov. David Paterson is openly badmouthing this tactic, pointing out that legislative chambers have switched control like this throughout history.) But the up-shot of this is that all 32 members of the new majority have to be there in order to form a quorum or pass anything.

At any rate, the new GOP caucus -- they officially call themselves a "coalition" -- had to first get a key to just enter the chamber. Then they needed to formally open the desk containing the bills to be voted on. And it turned out that this desk was locked, and nobody had a key.

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This afternoon, anti-abortion activist and former Operation Rescue leader Randall Terry went ahead with his second press conference in as many weeks at the National Press Club, the first of which was held in the immediate aftermath of the murder of Dr. George Tiller in Wichita, Kansas. As promised, there were hot wings and Guinness. But there was also an ominous warning that the Obama administration may be making more violent attacks "inevitable."

I asked Terry whether he'd received any complaints or criticism for proceeding with his event despite the tragic murder just yesterday of Holocaust Museum security guard Stephen T. Johns at the hands of a right-wing extremist. He responded, "we've had this in progress for about a week. If I had known we would have done it at a different time."

But then Terry took a curious turn.

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Rev. Jeremiah Wright is now clarifying his controversial remarks from the other day, when he said "them Jews" wouldn't let him anywhere near Barack Obama for the duration of Obama's presidency.

"Let me say like Hillary, I misspoke," said Wright. So what did he mean to say? "Let me just say: Zionists."

"I'm not talking about all Jews, all people of the Jewish faith," he explained. "I'm talking about Zionists."

Stephen Johns, the 39-year old man who was murdered yesterday at the Holocaust Memorial Museum, wasn't just a Wackenhut-employed security officer. He was also a member of the Security, Police and Fire Professionals of America--a union.

That union approached Wackenhut about the dangers Holocaust Museum officers face, and asked them to provide their employees with bulletproof vests. You can imagine how that turned out.

[D]uring contract negotiations with Wackenhut two years ago, the union pressed for company-issued protective vests. Although Wackenhut seemed open to the idea, vests have not been issued, Faye said.

"I hammered this in our negotiations two years ago because of how sensitive that museum is," he said. "Our guards needed more protection." He said that one of the guards at the museum was "verbally assaulted by one guy walking by, saying anti-Semitic remarks. For that reason, I made that the center of the negotiation."

Authorities said Johns was not wearing a protective vest.

Illinois state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, who is now running for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Roland Burris in the 2010 election, is now pouncing on GOP Congressman Mark Kirk -- who has been mulling whether to run for Senate himself -- for having openly told the Chinese government not to trust America's budget numbers.

Giannoulias released this statement:

"In the midst of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, Mark Kirk is essentially telling China, which holds more U.S. debt than any nation on earth, not to trust the American government, and by extension, the American people. This puts the full faith and credit of the United States at risk and threatens to permanently wreak havoc on the credit markets that are essential to our recovery and our economic future.

"Congressman Kirk's reckless actions demonstrate a terrible lapse in judgment and should be immediately retracted," said Illinois State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias.

Kirk is not an official candidate at this time, and Giannoulias has yet to actually nail down his own nomination. But a Dem is clearly taking an early opportunity to keep this story alive and attack a potential rival.

With the Democratic primary for Governor of Virginia over and done with, the state now proceeds to the general election and a question that will be heavily examined by national media: Is this one-time Republican stronghold now going to continue being a state that is up for grabs or perhaps even leaning to the Democrats -- or could it snap back to the GOP?

Democratic Gov. Tim Kaine is unable to run for re-election (this is the only state left where governors are limited to a single term at a time) and the nominees now are Democratic state Sen. Creigh Deeds and Republican former Attorney General Bob McDonnell. This is in fact a rematch from 2005, when McDonnell defeated Deeds for Attorney General by 323 votes out of about 1.9 million. (McDonnell resigned as Attorney General this year to become a full-time candidate for governor.)

For now at least, immediately post-primary, the new Rasmussen poll gives Deeds a lead over McDonnell of 47%-41% -- a number that seems broadly in line with the trend of high-profile contests in Virginia since mid-decade.

The state has become much friendlier to Democrats since 2005, giving them three additional House seats, both Senate seats, and of course delivering their 13 electoral votes to Barack Obama after continuously voting Republican since 1968. Democrats will be trying to consolidate those gains and nail down this state as blue territory. Republicans will be trying to win the crowd back and rebuild their party at both the state level, and as a sign of a national comeback. In the background, the race is likely to be seen as proxy for President Obama's continued popularity or lack thereof, almost a year into his presidency.

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In a new Rasmussen poll of this year's Virginia gubernatorial race, the first survey since Tuesday's Democratic primary, Democratic state Sen. Creigh Deeds leads Republican former state Attorney General Bob McDonnell by a margin of 47%-41%, with a ±4.5% margin of error.

In all the polls taken before the primary, McDonnell led Deeds (and the other two Democrats) by varying margins. But now that the Democrats have a definite candidate, Deeds is now benefitting from the traditional post-primary bounce.

From the pollster's analysis: "It is worth noting that, following Deeds' victory, the number of undecided Democrats is significantly lower than the number of undecided Republicans and unaffiliated voters. It is too early to know if this reflects a temporary bounce following Deeds' primary victory or if it signifies a more lasting change."