TPM News

Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) continues to be a scold to the liberals in his party. Before a crowd of over 200 gathered at a senior center in Nebraska, Nelson said health care reform ought to pass with 65 votes--a feat which would require at least five Republicans to break with their party.

"I think anything less than that would challenge its legitimacy," he said.

Nelson didn't go so far as to say that he'd oppose a bill that had less than 64 other votes. But he did say he disagreed with the party's legislative approach to the issue.

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The campy new TV ad from Americans United has to be seen to be believed. The ad, running in Orlando, Louisville and Washington, presents the CEO of Humana and Republican leaders as being dressed up as monsters for Halloween.

The ad fires back at Humana for telling its senior citizen clients that Democratic health plans would cut their Medicare coverage. "But we shouldn't be surprised. Whether it's the insurance companies or their Republican allies, the case against health insurance reform always gets down to one word," the narrator says, followed by the sound of a woman screaming over spooky music.

Most notably, Humana CEO Michael McCallister is dressed up as the Devil. Also, John Boehner probably wouldn't appreciate the drag element of making him a witch.

As I laid out moments after the proposed amendments to the Baucus bill were announced, the public option will have its day on the Senate Finance Committee.

That day is today. The 23-member panel will consider amendments sponsored by Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) that, if adopted, would add a public option into the panel's health care reform bill.

Two things to keep in mind if you're watching the hearing or reading news accounts about the developments: the two proposals are very different, and neither is expected to pass. The Rockefeller amendment is a version of what we've come to know as the "robust" public option. It would, for a time, be tied to Medicare, and, thereafter, be able to use the government's considerable leverage to bargain down payment rates with providers.

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U.S. Plans To Isolate Iran If Nuclear Talks Fail The Washington Post reports that the Obama administration is preparing to further cut Iran's economic links with the rest of the world: "While officials stress that they hope Iran will agree to open its nuclear program to inspection, they are prepared by year's end to make it increasingly difficult for Iranian companies to ship goods around the world. The administration is targeting, in particular, the insurance and reinsurance companies that underwrite the risk of such transactions."

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama and Vice President Biden will meet at 11:30 a.m. ET with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen. Obama and Vice President Biden will meet at 4:30 p.m. ET with Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.

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The FBI says it's reviewing why it didn't reveal to prosecutors in the corruption case of Congressman William Jefferson that an agent on the case had an affair with a key government informant, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports.

And in a court filing unsealed today, first noted by the Times-Picayune, Jefferson prosecutors detail more about the FBI agent, John Guandolo, and the list of sexual conquests he wrote.

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Conservative commentator Glenn Beck received a plaque-mounted key to his hometown of Mount Vernon, WA (60 miles north of Seattle) on Saturday, September 26, 2009. The event was part of the official "Glenn Beck Day" organized by Mayor Bud Norris and opposed by many residents -- including the city council.

Newscom/Ed Hille/Philadelphia Inquirer

Protesters started waiting outside McIntyre Hall two hours before Beck arrived. According to, there were more than 800 people by the time the ceremony started.

CC:Erna Louisa

"Now, I would give my right arm to live in a town like Mount Vernon. And I discovered today that there are a ton of people ready to cut it off," Beck said Saturday, referring to protesters. "It doesn't bother me, because I have the key to their house now."

CC:Erna Louisa

During the event, an airplane circled overhead with a banner saying, "Change the Locks."

CC:Erna Louisa

Protest planners said they were angry about Beck's stance on immigration, 9/11 victims and for calling Obama a racist. A few protesters held signs like this one, referring to Beck's stunt of boiling frogs alive on TV last week.

CC:Erna Louisa

On Wednesday, September 23, the Mount Vernon City Council passed a resolution saying, "Mount Vernon City Council is in no way sponsoring the mayor's event on Sept. 26, 2009, and is not connected to the Glenn Beck event in any manner."

CC:Erna Louisa

Before heading to Mount Vernon, Beck held an event at Safeco Field in Seattle, where fans paid up to $500 to take a picture with the Fox News personality.


Mayor Bud Norris walks past protesters wearing shirts that say "Hate Is Not A Mount Vernon Value" outside the City Council meeting Wednesday. He said he simply wanted to honor someone who grew up in Mount Vernon and now is on the national stage. Norris seemingly tried to downplay the city's gift to Beck, saying, "It's a key that fits nothing."


Beck supporters (with a few protesters mixed in -- most were gathered in another area) line the street in front of McIntyre Hall. According to News Hounds, one anti-Beck protester said about the event: "It is just wrong that someone can be given the key to the city at a closed event where citizens are not allowed to attend, take pictures or be heard."


At the Take Back America Conference in St. Louis last week, a woman named Kitty Werthmann gave a lecture titled "How to recognize living under Nazis and Communists," in which she urged listeners to "buy more guns" in order to fight "a bloody battle" against socialism.

Werthmann grew up as a Christian in Nazi-controlled Austria, and has been preaching that America is turning into Hitler's Germany for years. At the conference -- headlined by Mike Huckabee, Michele Bachmann and Steve King, among others -- she spoke to an overflowing room about the parallels between 1930s Austria and today's America.

"If we had our guns, we would have fought a bloody battle. So, keep your guns, and buy more guns, and buy ammunition. ... Take back America. Don't let them take the country into socialism," she said, according to Think Progress.

One audience member asked what they should do if they were asked to give up their guns.

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Creigh Deeds, the Democratic candidate for governor of Virginia, is bringing out a big gun in his efforts to turn around his narrow deficit in the polls: Sen. Mark Warner, a former governor and the single most popular Democrat in the state, and who is starring in Deeds' newest ad.

"The choice in this election for Governor is really pretty simple," says Warner, who won a landslide Senate victory in 2008. "Do we move Virginia forward by continuing the pro-business economic policies that I helped put in place, or do we go backwards with the failed economic approach that ruined our economy?"

The ad hits on several main themes of the Deeds campaign. It presents Deeds as a moderate, centrist Virginia Democrat, and casts that he's in the same mold as the popular Warner. Furthermore, it ties Republican nominee Bob McDonnell to the legacy of the Bush administration -- which was so unpopular, it helped drive Virginia to the Democratic column last year, for the first time in 44 years.

The attorney behind the first-ever Birther infomercial started teabagging way before it was cool.

Back in the mid 1970s, Gary Kreep spearheaded a national tea bag-based movement to protest the Ford Administration's tax policies, he confirmed to TPMmuckraker today.

"To protest unreasonably high taxes, people stapled tea bags to their tax returns," explains Kreep, now director of the United States Justice Foundation, but then a law student and an officer in the California chapter of the Reaganite Young Americans for Freedom.

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There was never much doubt about this, but just to make it official, Sen. Paul Kirk (D-MA) does indeed support a public option.

"Senator Kirk believes there should be a public option to keep costs down and keep insurance companies honest," says his spokesman, Keith Maley. "[D]uring his short service in the United States Senate, he looks forward to seeing what can be done to reach that goal."

It comes as no surprise, of course, that a Massachusetts Democrat replacing Ted Kennedy supports a public option. But this demonstrates that, with Kennedy's seat filled, the 60th vote for health care reform won't necessarily belong to public option skeptic Olympia Snowe--and the question of a public option is technically one for Democrats to answer alone.