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White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel tells the New York Times that the administration may be giving up on finding a bipartisan way to pass health care reform.

"The Republican leadership has made a strategic decision that defeating President Obama's health care proposal is more important for their political goals than solving the health insurance problems that Americans face every day," he said.

Some Republicans, such as Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-AZ), have suggested their party won't support any bill.

"There is no way that Republicans are going to support a trillion-dollar-plus bill," Kyl said. "I have no doubt that they can make it revenue neutral to find enough ways to tax the American people, but that doesn't mean the Republicans will support it."

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), the chief GOP negotiator on the Senate Finance Committee, has said he won't vote for a bill without wide Republican support.

And the Republican National Committee has attacked co-ops, a concession some Democrats are willing to make instead of pushing the public option.

Late update: Press Secretary Robert Gibbs denies that President Obama has given up on bipartisanship.

Ernest Hancock, the online radio host who staged an interview with an assault rifle-wielding associate at the Obama event in Arizona yesterday -- and was himself armed with a 9 millimeter pistol -- was a vocal supporter and friend of right-wing anti-government militia members who were convicted of conspiracy and weapons charges in the 90s.

And in an interview today with TPMmuckraker, Hancock said he still believes the Viper Militia case was "manufactured" by the same government that manufactured Waco and lied to its people about 9/11.

The federal government initially accused the Arizona Viper Militia of plotting to blow up federal buildings, which the twelve-member group cased on videotape.

In July 1996, after a grand jury indicted the suspects, federal agents "seized about 90 high-powered rifles and hundreds of pounds of a bomb-making compound from the shabby bungalow of a man whom officials identified as the ordnance specialist of a local paramilitary group," the New York Times reported at the time.

Hancock, who in recent years designed the famous "Ron Paul rEVOLution" graphic, was an oft-quoted defender of the militia members. The tapes of the government buildings, he said at the time, were purely "educational."

"They don't have criminal records," another press account quoted Hancock, who knew all twelve militia members, as saying. "They just like their guns. And in Arizona, gosh darn it, that's normal."

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The apparent death threat that was made against Rep. Brad Miller (D-NC), regarding his support for the health care bill, will not be prosecuted, Greg Sargent reports.

Miller's office said that the Capitol Police told them it will not be pursued, though no reason was given.

Miller himself had said last week that the phrasing of the phone call to his office -- that his support for the bill could cost him his life, and there are a lot of angry people out there -- was equivocal enough that it would avoid prosecution.

Here's a good question about the effects of any expansion of federal spending on health care, which is being opposed so strongly by conservatives: Could it actually result in more federal dollars headed to treat medical problems in the red states?

A newly-released Gallup survey measures healthy and unhealthy behavior by people in all the states.

The top 11 healthiest-behaving states are: Vermont, Hawaii, Montana, California, New Mexico, New Hampshire, Maine, Delaware, Idaho, Wyoming and Oregon. The bottom 11 least healthy states: Kentucky, Arkansas, West Virginia, Indiana, Ohio, Alabama, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Illinois and Louisiana. (It apparently would have been top ten, but there are ties for the 10th position.)

So of the healthiest states, seven of them voted for Barack Obama. And of the least healthy states, seven voted for John McCain.

Keep in mind, this is even after you figure that the upper-Midwest, where Obama hails from and performed strongly, is a wasteland of deep-fried cheese curds and frozen custard.

Here's yet another twist in the New Jersey gubernatorial election: The Associated Press reports that Acting U.S. Attorney Ralph Marra -- who is the successor to now-Republican nominee Chris Christie -- is facing an internal investigation for possibly politicizing the recent corruption investigation, in order to benefit Christie's campaign.

The Justice Department is reportedly examining whether Marra's public comments when announcing last month's big corruption bust were politically geared towards Christie's campaign.

The comments are reportedly this: "There are easily reforms that could be made within this state that would make our job easier, or even take some of the load off our job. There are too many people that profit off the system the way it is and so they have no incentive to change it. The few people that want to change it seem to get shouted down. So how long that cycle's going to continue I just don't know."

You've got to love New Jersey politics -- a place where investigating corruption is itself an ethical minefield.


President Obama and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki hold a joint news conference in the Rose Garden.

White House photo / Lawrence Jackson




The president returns to the White House after a Rose Garden news conference.

White House photo / Chuck Kennedy




Staffers prepare the Rose Garden for a press event.

White House photo / Pete Souza




Obama shares a fist bump with Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.

White House photo / Pete Souza




The president pauses in the Blue Room of the White House.

White House photo / Lawrence Jackson




The president enters the White House's Blue Room.

White House photo / Pete Souza




President Obama steps onto the elevator to the White House residence.

White House photo / Pete Souza




Doctors from the Cleveland Clinic brief the president on the hospital's practices.

White House photo / Pete Souza




President Obama waits backstage at a health care town hall meeting at Shaker Heights High School in Cleveland, Ohio.

White House photo / Pete Souza




The president conducts a town hall in Cleveland.

White House photo / Samantha Appleton




Obama signs books and posters at a Chicago fundraiser.

White House photo / Pete Souza




Signing an Ebony cover.

White House photo / Pete Souza




Vice President Biden and President Obama in the Oval Office.

White House photo / Pete Souza




President Obama walks down a spiral staircase with aide Brian Mosteller and a U.S. Secret Service agent after taping his weekly address.

White House photo / Chuck Kennedy




President Obama meets with leaders from the disability community.

White House photo / Pete Souza




The president shakes the hand of a young military family member at the Marine Barracks evening parade.

White House photo / Samantha Appleton




FIFA President Joseph Blatter presents the president with soccer jerseys for his daughters.

White House photo / Pete Souza




President Obama greets members of the Detroit Shock, this year's WNBA champions.

White House photo / Pete Souza




Barack and Michelle Obama wait for the start of a receiving line at the Ambassadors Reception in the White House.

White House photo / Lawrence Jackson




The president answers questions during an AARP tele-town hall on health care.

White House photo / Pete Souza




President Obama waves goodbye to Chinese officials in the White House's Roosevelt Room.

White House photo / Pete Souza




The president holds a town hall meeting at Broughton High School in Raleigh, N.C.

White House photo / Lawrence Jackson




President Obama listens to a question at a health care town hall.

White House photo / Pete Souza




After a town hall in Raleigh, N.C., the president laughs at a picture of a younger Robert Gibbs, who played soccer at North Carolina State.

White House photo / Pete Souza




President Obama snacks on a peach after a town hall meeting at a Kroger's Supermarket in Bristol, Va.

White House photo / Pete Souza




Vice President Biden and President Obama at an economics briefing in the Oval Office.

White House photo / Pete Souza




President Obama jokes with Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo before a news conference

White House photo / Pete Souza




The president speaks with Cabinet Secretary Chris Lu before dinner at the Cabinet and Senior Staff retreat at the Blair House in Washington D.C.

White House photo / Pete Souza




President Obama speaks at the Cabinet and Senior Staff retreat.

White House photo / Pete Souza




A couple dances in the grand foyer of the White House during the Ambassadors Reception.

White House photo / Lawrence Jackson




Bo Obama rests on a White House carpet.

White House photo / Chuck Kennedy

President Barack Obama will host a web- and phone-based meeting on Thursday for all supporters, according to a letter sent to the Organizing for America email list today.

"President Obama is holding a live strategy meeting on Thursday at 2:30 p.m. Eastern Time for all Organizing for America supporters," the letter reads.

The President will update us on the fight to pass real health insurance reform -- what's happening in D.C. and what's happening around the country. He'll lay out our strategy and message going forward and answer questions from supporters like you. And we'll unveil the next actions we'll organize together.


You can read the entire message below the fold. The meeting comes as Washington turns the corner on August recess, and the media's attention has shifted away from organized resistance to health care reform, back to the details of the legislation, and, specifically, the public option.

You can read the entire letter below the fold.

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We're now getting a look at some more of those forged letters sent to members of Congress by D.C.-based astroturf specialists Bonner & Associates.

And these new letters plumb the depths of sleaziness.

The letters, written under the names of local senior centers, urged Reps. Kathy Dahlkemper (D-PA), Christopher Carney (D-PA), and Tom Perriello (D-VA), to make changes in the Waxman-Markey climate change bill because fixed-income seniors were worried about energy price hikes.

Read More →

A new Marist poll has a mix of good news and bad news for Sarah Palin -- and unmitigated good news for Democrats. On the one hand, she remains a plausible candidate for the GOP nomination in 2012, but in a general election she would lose to President Obama in a landslide.

Among Republicans and GOP-leaning independents, the 2012 field stands at Mitt Romney 21%, Sarah Palin 20%, Mike Huckabee 19%, Newt Gingrich 10%, Bobby Jindal 5%, and Tim Pawlenty 1%. But in a general election, it's Obama 56%, Palin 33%.

Also, Palin's overall favorable rating is only 37%, with 43% unfavorable. But among Republicans, it's a whopping 73% favorable, to only 16% unfavorable.

Read More →

On Fox today, Karl Rove said the White House "potentially violated federal law" by sending out an email last week to people who hadn't signed up for such emails.

Over the past week, Fox News and some Republicans have accused the White House of using political groups to gather email addresses, a charge the administration has denied. White House officials have said they only get addresses through their web site, and have blamed third parties for possibly signing people up without their permission.

But Fox, and Rove, are not convinced.



Rove suggested today that a White House staffer may have mined the Internet for email addresses.

"I think they might have somebody in the new media office with a background in Google ... who may know how to do some drift net mining of email addresses and tossing them into the White House email system," Rove said. "And that is frankly a violation of federal law."

He went further, saying the act of sending out a mass email -- in this case promoting health care reform -- counts as advertising and is therefore "a problem" and possibly illegal.

Now, here's the kicker: Rove said that if he had done something like this while working for the Bush administration, he'd have been burned alive. Here it is, in graphic detail:

I'd be on a cart, being dragged down Pennsylvania Avenue on a bunch of hay and taken to a giant mound of firewood, where I'd be tied to a post and Nancy Pelosi would take a lighted pitch and thrown it onto the firewood if I had done this. ... This is amazing to me, what these people are able to get away with. If the Bush White House had done this, you're right, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi would have had me out for a little barbecue on the National Mall and I would be the meal.


Last night, the White House announced changes to its email policy to make it both more secure and easier to opt out. It also disabled flag@whitehouse.gov, which conservative critics claimed amounted to collecting an "enemies list," which even President Obama himself denied.

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