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Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) said his health care town hall this weekend was a "mob scene" filled with people from outside the neighborhood who were brought in by the Republican and Libertarian parties.

Their purpose was not "just to get their own voice heard, but to ensure other people weren't heard," he told Chris Matthews on Hardball. "I think these folks are really desperate to stop health reform."

After an hour answering the "toxic questions" of protesters, Doggett left the Randalls grocery store where the town hall was held. Protesters, chanting "Just say no!" followed him to the parking lot in a swarm.

"A mob scene is just one way of trying to intimidate members to weaken their position," he said. "It just strengthened my resolve."

Doggett also compared the protesters to birthers and secessionists.

"It's the same fanaticism I saw on Saturday," he said. He claimed most of the protesters weren't from the neighborhood, but were brought in by the Republican and Libertarian parties.

The protest was one of several at town halls across the country this weekend and over the past few weeks.

One protester carried a sign with a picture of a marble tombstone engraved with Doggett's name, he said.

Here's a video, via

Orly Taitz, the unofficial leader of the Birther movement, appeared today on MSNBC, for a rather...interesting interview with David Shuster, who took particular offense at Taitz's reference to "Obama's brownshirts in the media," noting that invoking the Nazis is especially offensive to people who lost relatives in the Holocaust:

Wow. Just, wow.

It's pretty questionable for anyone who works for a lobbying or public relations firm to also host a news show on which issues of interest to those clients' are likely to be discussed -- as we told you MSNBC's Richard Wolffe does.

But to get a sense of just how compromised Wolffe really is on this, it's worth taking a look at the clients of the P.R. firm he works for -- Texas-based Public Strategies Inc.

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Last week, we told you about Bonner and Associates, the D.C. lobby firm that was caught sending forged letters -- purporting to come from local Hispanic and black groups -- to a U.S. congressman, urging him to vote against the recent climate change bill.

Rep. Ed Markey, who was one of the lead sponsors of that bill and is probing the issue of the forgeries, has sent a letter to the firm's founder, Jack Bonner, which asks for responses to fourteen detailed questions about the incident.

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The progressive groups whose ad against Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) caused him to lash out last week have tripled their ad buy against him, reports Greg Sargent.

As we reported Friday, Nelson responded to the ad by releasing a statement that said, in part, "If this is an indication of the politics going into August, then health care reform may be dead by the end of August."

In other words, shut up or we'll kill health care reform.

Here's part of the email sent out today by the groups, Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Democracy For America:

Well, we're not playing that game, Senator. That's not how a democracy works. And bold progressives don't cave to intimidation from corporate Democrats.

So today, with our partners at Democracy for America, we're tripling our ad buy in Nebraska and doubling it in DC.

In the latest development of Democratic House members' town hall meetings being disrupted by the Tea Party crowd, House Minority Leader John Boehner's (R-OH) office is now applauding this turn of events.

"Back home for the August recess, rank-and-file Democratic Members of the House are facing a backlash from their constituents, who are already fed up with Washington's job-killing agenda and don't support Democrats' government takeover of health care," says a press release posted on Boehner's official blog.

The release then recounts the nasty reception that Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) has gotten, and declares that "Rep. Doggett is not alone."

The posting concludes: "Unless Democratic leaders agree to work with Republicans on a bipartisan plan that achieves real reform that Americans are seeking, it will be a long, hot August for Democrats in Congress."

Rep. Peter King made an interesting declaration today on MSNBC -- that health care is "not a major issue," and that people are not concerned about it as a top issue:

Democrats were quick to pounce. "This latest display of Peter King's erratic behavior proves that he is out of touch with his constituents and the American people," said Shripal Shah, Northeast Regional Press Secretary for the DCCC. "Everyone but Peter King seems to recognize the need to bring down the cost of health insurance. It's time for him to get his head out of the sand and live up to his responsibilities to his constituents by working for health insurance reform that will lower costs and increase access to care."

So is King right, or the DCCC? As it turns out, it's all a matter of what poll you cite -- and what exactly they were asking. The bottom line is that health very much is an important issue -- but because the economy is so rotten right now, people will more likely list that as the most important issue.

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MSNBC says it will now tell viewers that Richard Wolffe -- who is a regular commentator on the network, and last week guest-hosted Countdown -- works for a corporate P.R. firm.

Network spokesman Jeremy Gaines told TPMmuckraker in an email:

We should have disclosed Richard's connection to Public Strategies. We will do so in the future.

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Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who was of course President Obama's Republican rival in the 2008 general election, has announced that he will vote against Sonia Sotomayor, Obama's first nominee to the Supreme Court.

In his floor statement, McCain harshly criticized Sotomayor as an activist judge who does not respect the legislative branch, the written law, or the will of the people -- and who is now trying to hide from that record:

I know of no more profoundly anti-democratic attitude than that expressed by those who want judges to discover and enforce the ever-changing boundaries of a so-called 'living Constitution.' It demonstrates a lack of respect for the popular will that is at fundamental odds with our republican system of government. And regardless of one's success in academics and government service, an individual who does not appreciate the common sense limitations on judicial power in our democratic system of government ultimately lacks a key qualification for a lifetime appointment to the bench.

Though she attempted to walk back from her long public record of judicial activism during her confirmation hearings, Judge Sotomayor cannot change her record.

If you've been paying attention to the political fight over health care reform, you've likely heard something or other about the importance of the August recess. Politicians will be making the case for or against reform. Activists will be supporting and opposing them. Interest groups will be muddying the waters in various ways and turning up the heat on members they hope to influence. It can be so confusing!

So here's what you need to know. Below, I've broken down August activities and events by venue. Key politicians, and outside groups, will take to districts and states, newspapers and airwaves, and backroom meetings to influence reform over while Congress is in recess. And you'll probably have to crawl in a hole for the rest of summer if you want to escape the coming flurry of activity.

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