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The National Republican Congressional Committee is now sticking up for the town hall demonstrators, firing back at Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) for calling the disruptions a "fascist tactic."

The Huffington Post reported that Nadler said at the Netroots Nation conference:

"It is fascist. It is a fascist tactic," Rep. Jerry Nadler, (D-N.Y.) said of the conservative town hall protesters. "That's exactly what they did in Weimar, Germany. Let me put it this way. It is a fascist tactic not to disagree with you, or to say you are an idiot or whatever, but to try to shut you up. That's what I mean. That's a fascist tactic."


In response, NRCC communications director Ken Spain has put out this statement:

"Apparently, when Democrats aren't busy forming a circular firing squad, they are still shooting themselves in the foot. Democrats are so frustrated by the widespread opposition to their healthcare takeover that they have resorted to calling town hall attendees names like 'fascist,' 'un-American,' and relegating their views to racism reminiscent of the Jim Crow South. What was once promised to be an 'August offensive' to sell their failed healthcare agenda, has turned into an unmitigated disaster for Democrats who have now taken to attacking each other, including the Obama White House."

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Yesterday, I noted that Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA)--the powerful ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee and chief Republican negotiator in the bipartisan Gang of Six--said he'd vote against his own health care compromise if it didn't win more than a handful of GOP votes.

That seems to have gotten the attention of some progressives, one of whom took to the cable channels this morning to suggest that the White House ditch Grassley.

"I don't know what's the point of negotiating with Chuck Grassley, frankly, if he says himself he can't deliver any Republicans," said Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) on MSNBC this morning.

Grassley's been putting on quite a public show of late, falsely affirming the concerns of some health care reform skeptics that House Democrats will create death panels, and then blaming the controversy on liberals.

For his part, Weiner has become a leading public spokesman for robust health care reform, criticizing the administration for its willingness to compromise, and insisting that health care reform will die in the House without a public option.

In a YouTube video, the man who carried a semi-automatic assault rifle outside yesterday's presidential event tells fellow demonstrators "We will forcefully resist people imposing their will on us through the strength of the majority with a vote."

The man, only identified as "Chris," spoke against taxation: "Just because you sic the government on people doesn't make it morally OK to steal money from people. Taxation is theft."

He also said "it would be insane" not to be armed, saying he wears a gun at all times.

But he didn't seem to be planning any violence. At the beginning of the video, a voice off-camera asks, "You gonna water the tree of liberty?" a reference to a Thomas Jefferson quote, "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."

Chris responded, "I hope not."

The video comes from a libertarian group called Freedom's Phoenix and another group called 4409, which opposes police security cameras.

Watch:



Late update: In another video, this one from the Associated Press, "Chris" says he is "absolutely, totally against" health care reform, saying such a plan would amount to "stealing it from people."

He also said more people should carry guns openly in states where it's legal.

"People need to get out there and do it more," he said.

Latter Update: Ernest Hancock, the man who organized "Chris's" trip to the Obama event and himself came to the event armed, had close ties to a violent militia group charged with plotting to blow up federal buildings in the mid-1990s.

The Brady Campaign To Prevent Gun Violence has issued a press release warning people not to bring guns to presidential events. In recent days, several people have showed up outside of President Obama's town halls with loaded firearms. Yesterday, when Obama gave a speech at the VFW National Convention, a dozen people were carrying guns outside, including at least one man with an assault rifle.

Here's the press release:

Gun Responsibility: Leave Loaded Firearms At Home When Attending Presidential Events

Washington, DC - Paul Helmke, President of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, released the following statement on reports that a man was carrying what appeared to be a loaded assault rifle and a sidearm to President Obama's speech in Phoenix, Arizona today:

"Bringing loaded firearms to any Presidential event endangers all in attendance. Even though our weak national and state gun laws may allow this dangerous behavior, we should use a little common sense.

"Individuals carrying loaded weapons at these events require constant attention from police and Secret Service officers, thus stretching their protective efforts even thinner. The possibility that these weapons might be grabbed or stolen or accidentally mishandled increases the risks of serious injury or death to all in attendance.

"The National Rifle Association and other 'gun rights' groups need to send a message about 'gun responsibilities' to their members and all gun owners. Loaded weapons at political forums endanger all involved, distract law enforcement, and end up stifling debate. Presidential protesters need to leave their firearms at home - no exceptions."

#

There have been multiple reported incidents of guns being brought to town halls this month:

* Gun brought to town hall in Memphis, Tennessee: http://thehill.com/leading-the-news/obama-to-enter-town-hall-fray-2009-08-11.html;

* Gun dropped at town hall in Sierra Vista, Arizona: http://www.azstarnet.com/sn/printDS/304149;

* Gun carried openly to President Obama's town hall in Portsmouth, New Hampshire: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/08/11/protester-with-gun-found_n_256614.html;

* Handgun found concealed in the car of an attendee of President Obama's town hall in Portsmouth, New Hampshire: http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2009/08/more-details-emerge-on-the-concealed-gun-arrest-in-new-hampshire.php;

* AR-15 military-style assault weapon and handgun brought to President Obama's speech today in Phoenix, Arizona: http://www.azcentral.com/community/phoenix/articles/2009/08/17/20090817obama-scene.html.

# # #

As the nation's largest, non-partisan, grassroots organization leading the fight to prevent gun violence, the Brady Campaign, with its dedicated network of Million Mom March Chapters, works to enact and enforce sensible gun laws, regulations and public policies. The Brady Campaign is devoted to creating an America free from gun violence, where all Americans are safe at home, at school, at work, and in our communities.

For continuing insight and comment on the gun issue, read Paul Helmke's blog at www.bradycampaign.org/blog/. Visit the Brady Campaign website at www.bradycampaign.org.

President Obama is scheduled to meet with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former President Bill Clinton and Vice President Biden in separate, closed press meetings this afternoon.

Hillary Clinton returned Friday from an 11-day tour of Africa and will be catching up with the president at 1:30 p.m. Eastern time.

Obama will meet with Bill Clinton later, at 4 p.m., to discuss the former president's successful trip to North Korea to bring home two U.S. journalists who had been detained.

He will meet with Biden at 2:30 p.m.

An angry John Boehner has sent a heat-seeking missive to a former caucus mate: former GOP Rep, and current PhRMA president Billy Tauzin.

In the letter, which Boehner forwarded to the executives of PhRMA's member companies, the House Minority Leader charges that PhRMA's alliance with the White House on health care reform amounts to appeasement. "Appeasement rarely works as a conflict resolution strategy," Boehner writes. "The simple truth is, two wrongs don't make a right. And the short-sighted health care deal PhRMA struck with the Obama Administration at your urging provides confirmation of this time-tested maxim on an epic and tragic scale."

You can read the entire letter here. It comes as the relationship between the White House and PhRMA has soured slightly.

"The Obama Administration tacitly acknowledged last week that the President will not be bound by the $80 billion limit PhRMA and its board of directors were led to believe had been secured in exchange for your organization's support of the Administration's health care takeover," Boehner writes, "and key Democrats...have said explicitly they will not honor the agreement."

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Boehner Blasts Ex-Rep. Tauzin For PhRMA Working With "Bully" Obama On Health Care Reform The Hill reports that House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) has sent a letter to PhRMA president Billy Tauzin, who is a former Republican Congressman from Louisiana, castigating Tauzin and PhRMA for working constructively with President Obama on health care reform. "When a bully asks for your lunch money, you may have no choice but to fork it over," Boehner wrote. "But cutting a deal with the bully is a different story, particularly if the 'deal' means helping him steal others' money as the price of protecting your own."

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama will met one-on-one with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak at 11:10 a.m. ET, with an expanded meeting at 11:30 a.m. ET, and a working lunch at 12:30 p.m. ET. Obama will meet with Sec. of State Hillary Clinton at 1:30 p.m. ET, with Vice President Biden at 2:30 p.m. ET, and with former President Bill Clinton at 4 p.m. ET.

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Sixty House Democrats have warned the Obama administration--in no uncertain terms--that they'll vote against a health care bill unless it contains a public option.

In a letter sent yesterday to Health and Human Service Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, the co-chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus write, "We stand in strong opposition to your statement that the public option is "not the essential element" of comprehensive reform."

We have attached, for your review, a letter from 60 Members of Congress who are firm in their position that any legislation that moves forward through both chambers, and into a final proposal for the President's signature, MUST contain a public option.


The letter comes in response to recent statements by members of the administration, which calls into question their commitment to the public option.

You can read yesterday's letter here. The 60 signatories are the 57 who signed this, separate letter, plus three more. Back in July, progressives warned House leaders that a number of concessions to Blue Dog Democrats would have to be reversed if the final legislation was to stand a chance on the House floor. Those differences were quickly papered over, but they were also much smaller differences. Now, they're letting it be known that they will oppose any legislation--the House bill or the conference report--will die if it doesn't contain a public option.

Your move, Senate.

Late update: The 60 members on board include the 57 listed here, along with new additions Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO) Robert Wexler (D-FL), and Gregorio Sablan, a non-voting delegate from representing the northern Mariana Islands.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, sent a letter (PDF) to the White House today demanding answers about the administration's email policy.

Issa's letter includes several questions about flag@whitehouse.gov, the email address where the White House asked citizens to send misinformation about health care reform. The email address has apparently been shut down; it's not clear whether before or after Issa's letter.

Issa also asked if the White House obtained emails from any political group, including Organizing for America, a claim which administration officials have repeatedly denied. The question came after some controversy where people reported receiving unsolicited emails from the White House last week. Yesterday, the administration responded that they are changing the way people sign up for email lists. Deputy Press Secretary Nick Shapiro said third party groups may have signed people up without their permission.

Issa also took issue with the way the White House is archiving their official emails, demanding a thorough explanation of their policy and procedure. He gave a deadline of Aug. 31.

The government watch-dog Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington has jumped into the fray against former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie, who is now the Republican nominee for Governor of New Jersey. CREW is now calling for an investigation by the Office of the Special Counsel, into Christie's recently-revealed conversations with Karl Rove about a potential run for governor while Christie was a U.S. Attorney:

Mr. Rove's statements demonstrate that while Mr. Christie was the U.S. Attorney, he met with individuals to plan the logistics and strategy of a campaign and to seek support in his efforts to secure the Republican nomination for governor in violation of the Hatch Act. The Merit Systems Protection Board has held the OSC retains jurisdiction over such matters even whereas here, the employee has left the federal government.

CREW executive director Melanie Sloan stated

The Hatch Act is intended to ensure federal employees do their jobs without regard to partisan politics. Mr. Christie's actions call into question whether the New Jersey U.S. Attorney's Office investigated and prosecuted cases based on application of the law to the facts, or because certain prosecutions might have enhanced his prospects of securing the Republican nomination for governor.

TPMLivewire