TPM News

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.

Start your engines, Hans Von Spakovsky and John Fund...

Every election cycle, Republicans scream about Democratic voter fraud -- without providing any evidence that fraudulent votes have actually been cast. Now, in an obscure local election in upstate New York, the GOP may finally have unearthed the holy grail -- credible allegations of actual bogus voting. But the story appears to be a lot more intricate than partisans on both sides may want to admit.

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A lot of the most pressing political questions about health care reform will soon be answered, and reformers and pols alike are grappling with the fact that Democrats now have enough votes to pass a public option without any Republican votes.

"Hopefully when push comes to shove, Democrats will support a strong public option, and do the right thing," said Jacki Schechner of the reform campaign Health Care for America Now.

"We're in a good spot right now," added Schechner. "We'll see where we are after tomorrow.

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A new line of attack against President Obama may be emerging from the GOP. Within minutes of each other this afternoon, Karl Rove and Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO) both criticized President Obama for not speaking regularly enough with Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan.

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A new Rasmussen poll of California finds that of the two Democratic candidates for governor, state Attorney General Jerry Brown and San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, Brown is currently much more electable than Newsom.

The poll tested Brown, who was himself governor in the 1970's and early 1980's, leads all three Republicans: Former eBay CEO Meg Whitman, state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, and former Rep. Tom Campbell. Newsom, on the other hand, trails all three Republicans -- though the pollster's analysis suggests that this could change if Newsom were to actually win the nomination, given the state's Democratic leanings.

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A new Gallup poll appears to confirm something that we've all somewhat known for a while: Americans are more tuned into politics now than at any time in recent memory.

As the graph below shows, the number of Americans saying they follow national politics "very closely" increased to a high of 43% last year, in the middle of the election, and has now declined slightly to 36%. It's obviously to be expected that political attention would fall after an election year, but look closely at the numbers. This year's number of 36% is equal to the 2004 election year number.

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Judge Clay Land today granted Birther attorney Orly Taitz's motion to withdraw as counsel for her ex-client, but said he was not authorizing any breach of attorney-client privilege, and reminded her that she still must respond to his threat of sanctions for frivolous filings.

Land, of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia, writes in the order today:

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A candidate for state office in South Carolina drew 500 people to a fundraiser Saturday that included the giveaway of a $700 AK-47 semiautomatic rifle.

Dean Allen charged $25 a pop for his "machine-gun social," which included the giveaway, 20 rounds to shoot in a machine gun of your choice and a barbecue, held at an indoor shooting range in Greenville. Allen, a Republican, is running for adjutant general, a position that includes administering the Army and Air National Guard, among other things.

"All of our rights ... are predicated on supporting the Second Amendment. That's what makes America a free country," he said today on MSNBC. (Video after the jump.)

"I like to tell people I'm not the country club conservative," Allen told the Greenville News. "I'm the machine gun one."

A web ad for the fundraiser says the event includes 10 minutes of training, "So you don't shoot a right-wing radical by mistake."

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The public option-stakes will continue this week, with most eyes on the developments in the Finance Committee. But on the other side of the Hill, progressives continue to insist that, whatever happens in the Senate, one chamber still insists that health care legislation include a public option.

In a new op-ed, Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus blasts the proposal written by Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) saying it's "all about the insurance industry's bottom line: no teeth in enforcements and regulations, endless patent hoarding for the pharmaceutical industry and laws that rein in citizens to pay these industries the largest transfer of wealth in history," and adding that a bill without a public option would be "unacceptable".

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