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Maybe the grass really is always greener on the other side.

On a conference call hosted by Americans For Prosperity, featuring Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) and Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), the two of them frequently thanked conservatives for coming together and making their voices heard at town hall meetings. But at one point, the two of them also bemoaned that it's so much harder to organize conservatives than it is to keep liberals together.

DeMint explained that conservative people are, by their nature, an independent-minded lot who value their personal freedom. "The Democrats have a different constituency," said DeMint. "The groups supporting them all want more centralized control at the federal level, whether it's energy or health care. So they have united, binding their grievances."

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Two journalists who've covered Tom DeLay extensively over the years tell TPMmuckraker they've never heard of his story about protesters at a health care town hall in the 80s who "brought in quadriplegics on gurneys and dumped them on the floor in front of my podium."

"Jan Reid and I (and a researcher) spent a full year, reading clips and running down sources. Nowhere did I see any mention of quadriplegics brought in on gurneys," Lou Dubose, co-author of The Hammer: God, Money, and the Rise of the Republican Congress, tells TPMmuckraker in an e-mail. "We would have used if we had it."

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Angry residents of Standish, Mich., held a town hall Thursday afternoon to voice opposition to a proposal to move federal detainees from Guantanamo Bay to a maximum security prison there.

"If we put them in Iowa, they would stick out if they got loose," said one attendee, according to Fox News. "But if we put them in Michigan ... they can disappear into a community where we'll never find them."

Standish is about two hours Detroit, which has one of the largest Arab communities in the United States.

"They are enemy combatants," said Tom Kerrins, chief steward for the union representing prison workers at Standish Maximum Correctional Facility. "They want to kill you, they want to kill me, they want to kill our families."

The prison, the chief employer for the town of 1,500, is scheduled to close this year. It would stay open if Gitmo detainees were sent there and, some lawmakers hope, save local jobs.

"We already have a place for them, it works fine," said Michael LeVafour, 49, a laid-off construction worker from the Detroit suburb of Livonia.

The majority at the town hall were opposed to the move, with some carrying signs with slogans. But, the Associated Press reports, the meeting remained peaceful.

There were, however, some who supported the idea. One resident, Brent Snelgrove, said there was the same "hysteria" when the state prison was first opened.

"It turned out to be a good neighbor," he said.


On Wednesday, President Obama hosted NASCAR drivers at a ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House. Here, the president poses with 2008 Sprint Cup Champion Jimmie Johnson.

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President Obama addresses the crowd.

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The president applauds driver Jimmie Johnson.

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Three-time NASCAR champion Darrell Waltrip (left) and seven-time champion Richard Petty (right) listen to the president on the South Lawn.

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The president welcomes NASCAR drivers to the White House.

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Obama with Jimmie Johnson.

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President Obama looks under the hood of Jimmie Johnson's championship car.

White House photo / Chuck Kennedy

President Obama will meet with former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle tomorrow morning at the White House.

Daschle was Obama's original choice for secretary of health and human services -- someone who would lead the administration's campaign for health care reform -- but withdrew himself from consideration over back taxes and other issues.

Their meeting, scheduled for 11 a.m. EDT, is closed press.









House Speaker Nancy Pelosi knows how to twist arms, and some on the left worry that she might twist liberal arms to pass a health care bill without a public option. But apparently that's beyond her power.

"There is no way I can pass a bill in the House of Representatives without a public option," she said to a crowd in California, noting that regional health care co-ops won't get the job done. "If they want to have [co-ops] for their state, perhaps that could be included in the legislation. But it is not a substitute for a public option."

The House Energy and Commerce Committee has agreed to a provision that would allow states to erect co-ops in addition to the public option. But a large progressive bloc insists that the overall bill must contain a public option or it won't pass.

Pelosi appears to be putting the White House and Senate on notice--there must be a public option, or there won't be health care reform for a very long time. "Let me just be very clear," she said. "If we don't pass this bill with all the comprehensive aspects of it now, I don't know when we'll have a chance to do it."

This should be fun.

Greg Sargent reports that Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) and Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) are teaming up with the right-wing group Americans For Prosperity, to hold a telephone town hall meeting on health care reform tonight.

This should provide for an interesting contrast of style. Bachmann, for all her faults, is a truly sincere person who wants to save America from President Obama's Marxist tyranny, of which the health care bill is one part. DeMint, by contrast, has a certain element of malice to him, in wanting to make health care a political Waterloo for Obama, in order to bring Obama down politically.

Earlier this week, two Democrats asked the heads of 52 health insurance companies for detailed information on their revenues, profits, executive pay and retreats. But the insurance industry dismissed the request as a "fishing expedition."

"This is a politically motivated, taxpayer-financed fishing expedition designed to silence the health insurance industry and distract attention away from the fact that the American people are rejecting a government-run insurance plan," said Robert Zirkelbach, a spokesman for America's Health Insurance Plans, an association that includes 1,300 insurers.

The letter, sent by Reps. Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Bart Stupak (D-MI), is not a subpoena but a request. Waxman, who is the Democrats' lead reform negotiator in the House, and Stupak asked for the information by Sept. 14.

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), who is a a staunch champion of the religious right and an opponent of President Obama on all things under the sun, has a new line against the Democrats on health care: Keep the government off my body!

Bachmann appeared on Sean Hannity's radio show on Tuesday, and check out what she said, at the 5:35 mark.

"That's why people need to continue to go to the town halls, continue to melt the phone lines of their liberal members of Congress," said Bachmann, "and let them know, under no certain circumstances will I give the government control over my body and my health care decisions."



The irony here is that this same message is often used in American politics to mean something completely different -- as a slogan of the pro-choice movement, to which Bachmann most certainly does not belong.

In his new tell-all book, former Secretary Of Homeland Security Tom Ridge reveals that he was under intense political pressure to raise the national security threat level on the eve of the 2004 presidential election.

In The Test of Our Times: America Under Siege...and How We Can Be Safe Again, to be released September 1st, Ridge says that he fought against changing the terror alert and wondered at the time whether the Ashcroft- and Rumsfeld-backed request was about "security or politics," because while there was "nothing to indicate a specific threat and no reason to cause undue public alarm...Post-election analysis demonstrated a significant increase in the president's approval rating in the days after the raising of the threat level."

From the book:

On Friday, October 29, 2004, Osama bin Laden delivered a new videotape message that aired on the Arab language network Al Jazeera. The presidential election scheduled for the following Tuesday was tightening. The most recent polls had Bush leading Kerry by no more than two or three points. Having won my first congressional election by 729 votes and experienced the volatility of the election cycle during several campaigns, this race was literally a dead heat going into the final seventy-two hours.

...

We huddled that Friday night. Next morning we met early at the department's headquarters. The country was unaware that all levels of government had quietly ramped up security several weeks before the election, although not to the level that would have been required had we actually gone to a higher public threat level (orange). The timing of the tape may have been a surprise; the content was not. Within the department no one felt it necessary to consider additional security measures or to call the Homeland Security Council into session.


In a conference call with members of the Bush administration's national security and counter-terrorism team, Ridge pushed back against the request, which Attorney General John Ashcroft and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld were eagerly promoting.

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