TPM News

At least one computer containing undercover recordings from the investigation of former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich has been stolen from the offices of Blago's lawyer, reports a Chicago news outlet.

The theft reportedly took place last night at the law offices of Sam Adam and his son, Sam Adam Jr. There are said to be no suspects.

It's possible the theft could delay Blago's trial, which is scheduled for June. He has been charged with seeking to sell Barack Obama's Senate seat, among other transgressions.

In their effort to stop health care reform, Republicans have frequently pointed to the bill's physical size to indicate its excess.

As Think Progress pointed out, when the debates moved to the Senate, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) made a preemptive strike, using one of the greatest tomes of our time: Harry Potter! On the Senate floor last night the New England Democrat turned the GOPers argument against them.

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

• ABC, This Week: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI).

• CBS, Face The Nation: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.

• CNN, State Of The Union: National Security Adviser Gen. James Jones, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-AZ), former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA).

• Fox News Sunday: Gen. David Petraeus, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX).

• NBC, Meet The Press: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ).

It's been a busy week by the standards of the United States Senate, but it's also been fairly confusing. With the Senate's long, lumbering push for reform now in its final stages, we've seen debate, votes, and back room wheeling and dealing on contentious issues like the public option and abortion. So what does all of it mean.

To break it down into simpler terms, the crucial developments--the ones that will determine whether this bill passes or fails--have yet to come. In the mean time, there are tea leaves, and technical developments, but that's about it. If the Senate health care bill is in a slow motion run to the finish line, we'll know next week whether it breaks through the ribbon, or staggers and falls to the ground.

In the past week, members have filed (i.e. announced their intent to introduce) scores of amendments. A small handful have actually received votes, and more will come to the floor this weekend. But none, so far, have been particularly politically weighty. In other words, the amendments that will make or break this bill, are still being hashed out.

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Next week, and the week after, AFL-CIO will blanket the airwaves--both inside the beltway and in key health care swing states--with an ad emphasizing the importance of passing health care reform, but warning members not to finance legislation with a tax on high-cost health insurance plans.

The ad is timed to run during the most crucial period of the health care debate in the Senate, as wavering members are determining how to vote on key amendments, and, indeed the final package.

At stake is whether the Senate bill will raise revenue by imposing on insurance companies an excise tax on "Cadillac" policies. The incidence of the tax, however, could fall to workers with less generous insurance plans, and, as such, unions have always opposed the measure. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid lowered the threshold of the tax when he merged two different versions of health care reform, but AFL want's to see it deep sixed.

Heckuva seminar, Brownie!

Michael Brown, the much-ridiculed former FEMA director who became a symbol of the Bush administration's disastrous response to Hurricane Katrina, has landed a new gig: teaching a law-school class on the Patriot Act next spring.

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Tiger Woods, who was reportedly found sleeping in the street last week after crashing his SUV into a fire hydrant and a tree, has received more support from another one of his corporate sponsors. Electronic Arts, which produces the popular Tiger Woods PGA Tour video game series, released this statement:

Our strong relationship with Tiger for more than a decade remains unchanged. We respect Tiger's privacy, we wish him a fast recovery and we look forward to seeing him back on the golf course.

President Obama took questions today after giving a speech on the economy at a community college in Pennsylvania. The first question, from a college sophomore, challenged Obama to look at new ways of creating jobs.

"I really appreciate how you're trying to stimulate the economy," the student said. "Maybe, if you checked out some of the statistics about legalizing prostitution, gambling, drugs and non-violent crime in order to stimulate some of the economy."

The audience broke into giggles.

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