TPM News

An Obama administration has told The Advocate that the administration is in talks with Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), who sits on the Armed Services Committee, about repealing Don't Ask Don't Tell.

Lieberman has opposed the policy -- which prohibits openly gay servicemen and women in the military -- since its inception in 1993, said a spokeswoman from his office, who confirmed that he is speaking with the White House.

According to the official, Director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management John Berry, the goal is to introduce legislation into the Senate that will get bipartisan support.

A bill to repeal the policy was introduced in the House this spring.

President Obama repeated his campaign promise to repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell over the weekend in an address to the Human Rights Campaign, a major gay rights organization.

Fox News anchor Bill Hemmer said this morning that Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) does not support the Baucus bill -- which seemed strange to us, since Lieberman had joined moderate Democrats in a September statement commending the Senate Finance Committee health care reform bill.

"Sen. Joe Lieberman, now an independent, was weighing in on the Senate Finance bill earlier today," Hemmer said. "He was speaking with Don Imus on the Fox Business Network moments ago. (He was) asked whether or not he would vote for the Baucus bill. He's worried about costs. His answer: no."

Well, not quite. Hemmer then showed Lieberman's segment on Imus' show. He never quite said that he doesn't support the Baucus bill -- at least not in the segment Fox News showed.

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The White House will closely monitor the Senate Finance Committee vote today, but aides say they will forge ahead to the next (and more important) steps in the long process.

A senior administration official told TPMDC they fully expect the Baucus bill to pass the committee, and that they aren't laser focused on whether Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) will back it. (The White House has no idea which way she's leaning.)

The official said once it passes through the committee, White House analysts will pore over it as senators merge it with what passed the HELP committee earlier this year.

"The proposals really need to be analyzed closely, and we need to see how they achieve the goals of choice and competition," the official said.

Also, expect Robert Gibbs and maybe even the president to portray this vote as a milestone - you've heard it before, but they are very likely to remind the world this is the longest a health care overhaul has ever survived.

Senate Finance Committee To Vote On Health Care Bill The Senate Finance Committee is expected to vote today on the Baucus health care bill. Democrats hold a 13-10 majority on the committee, so approval is widely expected -- though questions remain as to whether any Dems will vote against it from the left, or whether Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe might vote yes.

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama will meet at 11:25 a.m. ET with Vice President Biden. He will meet at 12:15 p.m. ET with President Zapatero of Spain, and the two of them will make statements to the press at 1:05 p.m. ET. He will meet at 2:10 p.m. with Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN). Obama and Biden will meet at 4:35 p.m. ET with Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. At 7:15 p.m. ET, the Obamas and Bidens will attend a performance on the South Lawn, "Fiesta Latina."

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Later this morning, after tense months of negotiating and arguing, the Senate Finance Committee will vote on its health care reform bill. The package, which is expected to pass on a party-line or nearly party-line vote, will be a precursor to a Senate bill, which will be compiled in the coming days, and reach the floor later this month.

Of the five Congressional committees with jurisdiction over the nation's sprawling health care system, Finance is the last to act, though it began preliminary hearings on the issue about one year ago.

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Creigh Deeds and Bob McDonnell met in Richmond tonight for their first prime-time televised debate in the Virginia gubernatorial race -- and the big news tonight is that nothing appeared to happen that would upset the current status quo, with McDonnell ahead and Deeds working to catch up.

McDonnell remained unflappable -- none of Deeds' attacks or the questions from moderator Judy Woodruff threw him off from his steady pace. In the first question, he was asked whether the recent Democratic or Republican presidents and Virginia governors have done a better job for Virginia's economy -- a potential curveball, in light of how unpopular George W. Bush still is, as well as the state's most recent Republican governor, Jim Gilmore.

"You might suspect the likely answer from me would be the Republicans have done a better job," McDonnell said. He credited Republican ideas such as low taxes, right-to-work laws and other pro-business policies with helping the state: "I think those are the ideas that have helped. What this election really is about here in Virginia is job creation and economic development."

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Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA) appeared on CNN today to discuss a Navy hazing scandal, commenting as a retired three-star Admiral, and strongly called for a repeal of the ban on gays in the military.

Sestak is also running for Senate, challenging incumbent Sen. Arlen Specter in the Democratic primary.

"How could I, having gone to war, where public surveys let us know we did have gay members, come home and say they don't have equal rights?" said Sestak. "We are losing good men and women, and we're not adhering -- we're absolutely not adhering to the ideals of our nation, that everyone is treated and respected equally."

He also added: "And I hope that this year, prior to December, that our president, having taken care of the cratering of our economy, having dealing (sic) with health care, takes care of something having to do with our ideals, and that's repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Our Service would be better for it."

The second issue of the Michele Bachmann comic book series, produced by some of our friends at the Dump Bachmann blog, is now in print, and like the previous issue it presents a chilling portrait of a right-wing lunatic who has risen up to the highest levels of American government.

However, the presentation of the facts in the second issue deviated from the first issue in a key respect -- that this time around, not all speech balloons from Bachmann are necessarily direct quotes from the woman herself. Paraphrases or new punchlines come in -- and unfortunately, this is not a decision for the better.

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A man seen dressed as a ninja on the side of the road in Vernon, Conn., swinging nunchucks and yelling about wanting to beat up Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), was arrested Saturday and released to a local hospital for psychiatric evaluation.

According to the Hartford Courant, 30-year-old Garland Eastman became calm and cooperative once police pulled out their tasers and bean bags. He was charged with breach of peace.

It's hard to criticize when voting records and bank accounts have long memories, especially when it comes to ACORN.

Republicans have successfully targeted ACORN this year, and have recently expanded the net to include Service Employees International Union (SEIU) for working with ACORN.

But a public documents search shows Republicans have received political donations from SEIU, as Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL) had to acknowledge when calling for the census to sever ties with the massive union.

In addition to Kirk's $2,500 donation in 2003, SEIU has given a few thousand here and there to House Republicans, including Minority Whip Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA).

Documents show the Republican Governors Association has taken more than $750,000 in donations from SEIU since 2004, including a $100,000 check on March 5, 2007.

Also taking SEIU cash? The GOP's host committee for the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, to the tune of $50,000. And Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH), who scored $2,500 from the SEIU political action committee in October 2006 just before the GOP lost power in Congress.

These numbers are tiny compared with the fundraising and active campaigning SEIU has done for the Democrats, and it's no secret which party the unions prefer.

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