TPM News

The California Republican Party is being roiled by a controversy stemming from allegations about the private life of chairman Ron Nehring.

Last night, the San Diego GOP voted by 44-1 to boot one of its members from the county's central committee, citing "inappropriate behavior." The member, Michael Crimmins, who was the party's nominee in 2008 against incumbent Democratic congresswoman Susan Davis, had sent an email to state party leaders, raising concerns about the behavior of Nehring and San Diego County chair Tony Krvaric.

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President Obama's reconstituted campaign arm--Organizing for America--says it's renewing its commitment to passing health care reform legislation. At a moment when health care reform seems precariously close to defeat, OFA is once again reaching out to its members to push members of Congress to get the job done.

"Congress is weighing options and hearing plenty of special interest voices telling them to give up," reads an email to supporters from OFA Director Mitch Stewart sent this morning.

They need to understand that their constituents want them to keep fighting. So today, we're relaunching our Health Care Action Center to give you all the tools and information you need to fight for reform. At the Action Center, you can make calls, write letters, speak out in your community, and weigh in directly with Congress. There's information about what the President stands for, and personal stories that show why reform is so important. So check it out today: Many of our senators and representatives are working overtime to gather support for a final bill and pass reform, and they should know we're standing with them. And the rest need to understand their constituents still demand action. We're so close to real reform -- we can't stop now.

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Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) is putting forward a very daring proposal for how to fix Social Security and Medicare, Think Progress reports: Get rid of them.

Bachmann spoke this past weekend at the right-wing Constitutional Coalition in St. Louis, Missouri, and put forth her plan. "So, what you have to do, is keep faith with the people that are already in the system, that don't have any other options, we have to keep faith with them. But basically what we have to do is wean everybody else off," said Bachmann. "And wean everybody off because we have to take those unfunded net liabilities off our bank sheet, we can't do it. So we just have to be straight with people. So basically, whoever our nominee is, is going to have to have a Glenn Beck chalkboard and explain to everybody this is the way it is."

It certainly is interesting to see a Republican not talk in any euphemistic terms about personal accounts, or about saving the system, etc., but to openly admit that the goal is to no longer provide the social benefits themselves, and to transition away from them.

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Citing a column by Pat Buchanan that clearly argues against conflict with Iran, Sarah Palin on Sunday suggested that a war with Iran would be good policy and a boon for President Obama's 2012 reelection hopes.

Buchanan's column, "Will Obama Play The War Card?" was a rebuttal of Daniel Pipes call last week for Obama to bomb Iran to save his presidency. "Will Obama cynically yield to temptation, play the war card and make 'conservatives swoon,' in Pipes' phrase, to save himself and his party?" Buchanan writes.

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Last night, Stephen Colbert tried to explain Sarah Palin's somewhat circuitous defense of Rush Limbaugh. Recently, she called for the resignation of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel for reportedly referring to liberal groups as 'f--king retarded'. When Limbaugh, on his radio show, repeatedly used the term 'retards' in reference to liberals, Palin defended him, claiming since it was a joke, he didn't really mean it. Colbert, in support of Palin, tried to clarify the difference between the two situations by giving another example of satire, saying 'Sarah Palin is a f--king retard'.

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Johnathan Graffeo, spokesperson for Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), send TPMDC the following statement after his boss decided to drop his holds on dozens of Obama nominees Feb. 8:

The purpose of placing numerous holds was to get the White House's attention on two issues that are critical to our national security - the Air Force's aerial refueling tanker acquisition and the FBI's Terrorist Device Analytical Center (TEDAC). With that accomplished, Sen. Shelby has decided to release his holds on all but a few nominees directly related to the Air Force tanker acquisition until the new Request for Proposal is issued.

The Air Force tanker acquisition is not an "earmark" as has been reported; it is a competition to replace the Air Force's aging aerial refueling tanker fleet. Sen. Shelby is not seeking to determine the outcome of the competition; he is seeking to ensure an open, fair and transparent competition that delivers the best equipment to our men and women in uniform. Sen. Shelby is fully justified in his concern given the history and current status of this acquisition. One would think that our Air Force's top priority would be to ensure that our men and women in uniform have the best, most capable equipment. Clearly, the draft RFP illustrates that is not the case.

Nor is the TEDAC a so-called earmark; it is a facility specifically requested by the Department of Justice and the FBI. They need such a facility to forensically examine Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) from Afghanistan, Iraq, the Horn of Africa, and elsewhere, including the device the Christmas Day Bomber was wearing. The FBI, along with their federal state and local counterparts use this forensic information from these retrieved explosive devices to catch terrorists throughout the world. This facility was to provide the FBI the capability to begin to address a 20-year backlog in collected IEDs from abroad and in the US. Forensic evidence that could help us identify and hunt down terrorists is being amassed in warehouses, while the FBI does their best to process it in a temporary and inadequate facility in a converted parking garage at Quantico.

Sen. Shelby is fully justified in his concern that the Obama Administration is seeking to rescind funds already appropriated for this vital national security purpose. He will continue to work through the appropriations process to ensure that the U.S. military, the intelligence community, and federal law enforcement personnel receive the funding and facilities they need to exploit and analyze intelligence information critical to fighting terrorism and ensuring American security worldwide. It is unacceptable that the Obama Administration wants to read terrorists our Miranda rights and try them in U.S. courts but is impeding the processing of evidence that could also lead to their conviction and the capture of others.

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) has dropped all but a handful of the 70-plus holds he placed on President Obama's nominees last week. Shelby's office told TPMDC today that the goal of the blanket holds had succeeded three days after it was reported and roundly attacked by Democrats and the White House.

"The purpose of placing numerous holds was to get the White House's attention was to get the White House's attention on two issues that are critical to our national security," Shelby spokesperson Jonathan Graffeo said in a statement, referring to two programs that would sent billions in taxpayer funds to Alabama. Shelby will continue his hold on several Air Force and Pentagon nominees.

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Congressional Republicans have been calling for more bipartisanship for months, decrying closed-door Democrats-only meetings on health care reform. So President Obama invited GOP leaders to the White House Feb. 25 for a televised, bipartisan summit on reform.

In response, House Republicans leaders yesterday sent a letter to the White House listing a series of "questions" they want answered before they participate.

"Assuming the President is sincere about moving forward on health care in a bipartisan way, does that mean he will agree to start over so that we can develop a bill that is truly worthy of the support and confidence of the American people?" write the leaders, Reps. John Boehner and Eric Cantor.

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