TPM News

Watching Senate floor debate isn't always exciting, but sometimes you hear the words "going urgently" and your ears perk up.

That was Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) lighting up the floor by reading the scripts advertising some of the most common prescription drugs and saying they always depict happy scenes of trees and green grass.

"If life is like that when you use the purple pill ... get me some purple pills," Dorgan said.

The fairly reserved senator read aloud from a scripts for Boneva, Ambien and even offered the catchphrase, "Maybe it's time to ask whether Lunesta is right for you."

Dorgan cited the Flomax ad to fight against "going urgently," quoting from the script, "For many men Flomax can make a difference in one week."

He also said he was "especially distressed" by "unbelievably dishonest" TV ads targeting the health care debate.


Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL), who is working to solidify his hold on the Republican nomination for President Obama's former Senate seat, is providing another data point in his drift to the right and away from his previous position as a moderate Republican: A noncommittal answer on whether human beings are responsible for climate change.

The Associated Press asked the Illinois Senate candidates from both parties: "Do you believe human activity contributes significantly to global warming? Why or why not?"

"Many factors contribute to changes in climate, both man-made and natural," Kirk answered. "Regardless of your views on global warming, we should all agree that reducing our dependence on foreign oil and cutting air pollution without doing economic harm to our citizens will benefit our national security, environment and public health."

Kirk previously voted for the climate-change bill, with its cap and trade program based on the whole premise that humanity is responsible for climate change. Back in September, he amusingly changed his position in the middle of a speech to a local Republican crowd, telling them he would oppose it in the Senate if elected -- and the crowd cheered.

Last night, Stephen Colbert interviewed Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and they argued over the merits of capitalism. Colbert trumpeted the pure joy in being richer than everyone else while Sanders tried to educate Colbert about how the Federal Reserve has failed most Americans. Not surprisingly, they disagreed on the whether Ben Bernanke should keep his job as the head of the Fed.


Who better to solve the problem then the person who helped create the problem?... If you are cursed by a witch, you have to get the original witch to take the curse off you. Or don't you understand financial fairy tales?

Read More →

As the Senate's Gang of 10 reached a tentative compromise on health care last night, Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer was readying a blog post to say the White House was "pleased," and today key aides were briefed on the particulars.

The White House team claims a hands off approach as Congress does its business, but they are closely monitoring each and every incremental negotiation.

An administration official told TPMDC the team is "very deeply in the middle of this thing."

"We follow everything very closely," another official told TPMDC. "We're not in every meeting but we are in a bunch."

The official said the philosophy is that it's in the senate's hands to "strengthen and shape" since "they like to do their thing," but the White House team is leaving no detail unexamined.

The official stressed, "It's a very active team, very present. But we are not orchestrating this behind the scenes."

Read More →

Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND) has been sharply critical of a proposal, now part of a tentative deal between key Democratic health care negotiators, to allow people aged 55-64 to purchase insurance through Medicare. Now that the deal seems all but locked in, I asked Conrad whether the compromise is a deal breaker for him.

"No," Conrad said. "What I've told the leadership and what I've told your colleagues, other reporters, is, I have to see a CBO analysis, and I have to see what has been proposed in writing. All I've seen is, kind of, thumbnail descriptions, and I've not seen CBO analysis. And that's very important to knowing whether or not I can support it.

Conrad's resistance to growing Medicare rolls is based on his complaint that the program doesn't pay hospitals and doctors in North Dakota enough for their services. That critique has drawn sharp rebuke from his colleague, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), who helped negotiate the buy-in proposal.

In a major sign of just how polarized American politics has again become, a new national survey from Public Policy Polling (D) asked Americans whether they would rather have President Obama in office, or former President George W. Bush -- and it's a close race.

The numbers: Obama 50%, Bush 44%, with a ±2.8% margin of error. Self-identified Democrats pick Obama by 83%-14%, Republicans pick Bush by 83%-10%, and independents go for Obama by 54%-39%. Obama's approval rating in this poll is 49%, in a statistical dead heat with 47% disapproval.

Respondents were also asked whether they would support impeaching Obama for his actions in office so far. The numbers was 20% yes, 67% no, and 13% not sure. Among Republicans, the breakdown was 35%-48%-17%. PPP communications director Tom Jensen writes: "I'm not clear exactly what 'high crimes and misdemeanors' they are using to justify that position but there may be a certain segment of voters on both the right and the left these days that simply think the President doing things they don't agree with is grounds for removal from office."

On the Obama/Bush match-up, Jensen writes: "The closeness in the Obama/Bush numbers also has implications for the 2010 elections. Using the Bush card may not be particularly effective for Democrats anymore, which is good news generally for Republicans and especially ones like Rob Portman who are running for office and have close ties to the former President."

The Hill is reporting that nearly $6 million in stimulus funds went to firms run by Mark Penn, a former pollster for Hillary Clinton. According to The Hill, the money went to Burson-Marsteller, the global public relations and communications firm headed by Penn, for work on a campaign to advertise the national switch from analog to digital television.

Read the full story here.

In an op-ed in the Washington Post today, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin called for President Obama to boycott climate change talks in Copenhagen, saying programs to limit emissions would "irreversibly" hurt the American economy.

She also railed against pending legislation in Congress, which she called "cap-and-tax" instead of the usual "cap-and-trade," saying it would cause energy costs to "skyrocket."

She cited the recent scandal over a collection of leaked e-mails between climate scientists, known by Copenhagen opponents as "climategate," as proof that the move to limit emissions is politically driven.

Read More →

Rod Jetton, the former Missouri House Speaker, fired a state lawmaker from his committee chairmanship in 2007 because the lawmaker had changed a bill in order to end a state ban on gay sex -- or what Jetton called "deviate sexual intercourse."

Jetton was charged with felony assault Monday after a girlfriend alleged that he had beaten and choked her during a recent sexual encounter, in which she failed to use a mutually agreed upon "safe word." The woman also suggested that Jetton may have slipped a date-rape drug into her glass of wine, causing her to lose consciousness. In the wake of the charges, Jetton announced that the political consulting firm he has run since leaving office last year would close its doors.

Read More →

Jon Stewart last night took down TPM favorite Fox & Friends for using poll numbers on global warming -- more specifically, "climate gate" -- that added up to 120 percent.

[TPM SLIDESHOW: A Catalog Of Fox's Mistakes]

Stewart then zeroed in on host Gretchen Carlson for playing dumb -- even though she was valedictorian of her high school class, graduated with honors from Stanford and studied at Oxford. And plays beautiful classical violin.


Read More →