TPM News

A new Quinnipiac poll finds that a large majority of Americans would like to see government increase its involvement in health care. Sixty-nine percent of those surveyed said they support a public option.

Interestingly--though perhaps predictably--most of this support seems to be in the abstract. A majority of those asked (53%) most suggested they'd rather be covered by private insurance than by a government-run option--reflective, perhaps, of the reality that most Americans are already insured and most of them are pleased with the quality of their health care. But they nonetheless want other citizens to have the option. Twenty-eight percent of respondents said they want government-run health insurance.

Conservatives are jumping up and down over a report by an EPA analyst expressing skepticism about climate change, which, they claim, was suppressed by agency brass because it didn't conform to Obama administration orthodoxy on global warming. The story has sparked explosive claims, on Fox News and other right-wing outlets, that the EPA censored scientific data for political reasons. And Monday, Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) called for an outright criminal investigation into the matter.

But it's hard to blame EPA for not paying much attention to the study. And it's more than a little ironic that DC Republicans have chosen its author as their new standard-bearer in the defense of pure science against politics. Because the author, EPA veteran Al Carlin, is an economist, not a climate scientist. EPA says no one at the agency solicited the report. And Carlin appears to have taken up the global warming topic largely as a hobby on his own time. In fact, a NASA climatologist has called the report -- whose existence was first publicized last week by the industry-funded Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) -- "a ragbag collection of un-peer reviewed web pages, an unhealthy dose of sunstroke, a dash of astrology and more cherries than you can poke a cocktail stick at."

Read More →


Generals of Iraq and the United States attend a hand-over ceremony from the U.S. military to Iraqi security forces in Baghdad on Monday, June 29. As part of a security pact signed between Baghdad and Washington last year, the U.S. troops would withdraw from Iraqi cities, towns and villages by June 30, 2009 to their bases, and would leave the country on December 31, 2011.

Newscom/PTS




Members of the Iraqi security force patrol in Baghdad on June 30. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki declared Tuesday to be "National Sovereignty Day."

Newscom/UPI




Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki (center) attends a ceremony celebrating the withdrawal of American military personnel, in Baghdad on Tuesday.

Newscom/UPI




Iraqi honor guard march during a handover ceremony.

Newscom/PTS




U.S. General Daniel Bolger (far left), commander of U.S. forces in Baghdad, hands over a symbolic key to General Abud Qambar, commander of Baghdad Operation Command, during a hand-over ceremony on June 29.

Newscom/PTS




Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki (third from left) and other officials attend a ceremony celebrating the withdrawal of American forces on June 30.

Newscom/UPI




Members of the Iraqi security force patrol in Baghdad on June 30.

Newscom/UPI




Iraqis in Baghdad celebrate the withdrawal of U.S. combat troops from Iraqi cities and towns on June 30.

Newscom/Sipa




Iraqis in Baghdad celebrate National Sovereignty Day.

Newscom/Sipa

Here's video of Sen.-elect Al Franken's (D-MN) victory speech and press conference:



Here's an intriguing detail from the new 685-page tome on Donald Rumsfeld, Bradley Graham's By His Own Rules: The Ambitions, Successes, and Ultimate Failures of Donald Rumsfeld: Several Rumsfeld associates say the defense secretary didn't order any cuts of major weapons programs early in his tenure because of financial stakes he held in the defense business.

Rumsfeld valued his personal fortune at between $50 to $210 million at the beginning of the Bush Administration. The problem was many of the securities he held were in companies that did business with the DOD, which could put Rumsfeld in violation of government ethics rules.

So Rumsfeld had to divest some of these assets -- a whole lot of them, it turned out. And during that process, which went "slowly," Graham reports, Rumsfeld simply put off canceling any major weapons programs, a move some on his staff apparently expected him to make. Rumsfeld's specific thinking is unclear.

Read More →

It's been a strange eight months following the Minnesota elections. Here are 10 of our very favorite moments (post election), care of TPMDC reporter (and Franken-Coleman authority) Eric Kleefeld:

Nov. 5: Franken Says Race "Too Close to Call" The day after the election, Franken releases a statement vowing that the race is not over. He doesn't know the half of it...

Jan. 6: Coleman Files Lawsuit Contesting Results Coleman's lawsuit is filed right after the recount is completed, and is filled with contradictions and flimsy legal arguments. Basically, Coleman and his lawyers say the entire election was tainted, and he deserves to win. In Eric's words, his strategy is "overall throw[ing] everything against the wall to see what sticks."

Jan. 29, Feb. 4: Coleman Tries To Get Ballots Counted Despite Forgery In so many cases we lose count, Coleman's lawyers try to get ballots OK'd despite the fact that the signatures on the ballot applications were forged. One such argument led to this memorable exchange with lead Coleman attorney Joe Friedberg:

Friedberg: In point of fact, even though I did something I wasn't supposed to do with the application, my ballot should still count because my signature is genuine.

Deputy Secretary of State Jim Gelbmann: Not according to the procedures we use to determine whether the signature is genuine.

Friedberg: I don't care about your procedures.

(Franken lawyer calls an objection, is sustained.)

Friedberg: OK, I do care...


Feb. 27: Franken Team Catches Coleman Hiding a Witness The courtroom devolves into chaos when Franken's lawyers catch Coleman's team havinghidden a witness, a Republican poll worker from Minneapolis, during the discovery phase of the trial. This came after they'd been caught having withheld notes that were made by this same poll worker. Franken then moved to have Coleman's claims of double-counted ballots dropped. The witness's testimony was ultimately kept in the record, but the damage to Team Coleman's credibility was clear.

March 30: Cornyn Says Election Could Take "Years" To Resolve NRSC John Cornyn promises resistance to any attempt to seat Franken, saying that the litigation could take "years" to sort out. Nice try, John.

April 13: Franken Declares Victory, Quotes Paul Wellstone After the election contest court rules in Franken's favor, he holds a press conference outside his home, quoting Paul Wellstone, the Minnesota senator and close friend of Franken's who died in 2002. "It's like what Paul Wellstone always said: Politics isn't about winning, it's about improving people's lives." Wellstone's death clearly had a big personal effect on Franken, spurring him to get seriously involved in politics, which ultimately led to this entire hullabaloo.

April, May: Polls Show Minnesotans Want Coleman to Concede Three polls show that a majority of Minnesota voters -- from 54%, 63% and 70% -- want Coleman to step back and let Franken take the Senate seat.

May 4: Franken: "Why Am I Grumpy? Oh, I Know Why" An annoyed Franken describes his strange transition process (one in which he can't pay any of his staffers) and admits that, yes, sometimes we all get a little cranky.

June 30: Coleman Concedes. It's Over. After the Minnesota Supreme Court unanimously rules that Franken legitimately won the election, Coleman holds a (rather classy) press conference in which he finally concedes the race. Minnesota (and TPM HQ) breathes a sigh of relief.

June 30: Franken Accepts Victory A jubilant Franken holds a press conference to accept victory and thank Coleman, saying "I'm so excited to finally be able to get to work for the people of Minnesota."

Finally indeed, Senator-elect Franken.

Sen.-elect Al Franken (D-MN) held a press conference outside his Minneapolis home, celebrating his win in the long drama that has been the Minnesota Senate race.

"Franni [his wife] and I are so thrilled that we can finally celebrate this victory, and I'm so excited to finally be able to get to work for the people of Minnesota," he said. "I received a very gracious call from Sen. Coleman a little while ago. He wished me well, I wished him well, and we agreed that it is time to finally bring this state together."

It should be noted that during all the litigation and back-and-forth attacks, the Franken campaign and legal team would refer to Norm Coleman as "former Sen. Coleman." But now that the race is over and it's a time for civility and unity, the inherent insult of the "former" has now been put aside.

Franken said that the country faces many challenges in the economy and world affairs. "So even though Franni and I are thrilled and honored by the faith that Minnesotans have placed in me, I'm also humbled," he said, "not just by the closeness of this election, but also by the enormity of the responsibilities that come with this office."

He also said that much has been talked about, that he'll be the 60th Democratic Senator. "The way I see it, I'm not going to Washington to be the 60th democratic senator. I'm going to Washington to be the second Senator from Minnesota, and that's how I'm going to do this job," he said, to the applause of his supporters.

Read More →

Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele has released this statement on the final conclusion of the Minnesota Senate race, in which Democratic activist and comedian Al Franken defeated Republican Sen. Norm Coleman after a long process of recounting and litigation:

"I am deeply disappointed in the decision made by the state Supreme Court, and I share the frustration of Minnesota's voters. At the core of our democracy lies two concrete principles: No valid vote should go uncounted and all votes should be treated equally. Sadly, those principles were not adhered to during this election. While I would have proudly stood behind Norm Coleman had he chosen to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, I know that his decision to withdraw from this race was not an easy one, but one that he felt was the best decision for the people of Minnesota. For the last six years, Norm represented the people of Minnesota with distinction, earning a much deserved reputation as one of the hardest-working members of Congress. I, on behalf of all Republicans, thank him for his service and will miss his leadership in Washington."

TPMDC's update on the biggest legislative initiatives on the Hill:

  • Health Care: A staffer leaked some preliminary details of the public option Democrats on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee plan to include in their reform legislation. Those details imply a significant retreat from the bold plan the committee intended to offer at the outset of the process, but still leave room for a robust public insurance option. Still unknown: whether those details will be acceptable to Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC) who's been unwilling up until now to accept a public option, and whose vote may be required to move the bill out of committee.


  • Senate politics: This doesn't really belong under the "legislative initiatives" rubric, but it will impact all of them, and much, much more. The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled unanimously in favor of Sen.-elect Al Franken, and Norm Coleman conceded defeat. Franken will likely be seated next week, becoming the Democrats' 60th caucus member--which, as we've detailed before, will change Senate politics and legislative math in a number of ways.

Here's a big part of former Sen. Norm Coleman's (R-MN) press conference today, conceding defeat to Democratic activist and comedian Al Franken in the much-litigated 2008 Minnesota Senate race:

TPMLivewire