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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.

About 12 people were carrying guns, including at least one semi-automatic assault rifle, outside a building where President Obama was speaking today.

No one was arrested outside the VFW National Convention in Phoenix, according to the Associated Press, where hundreds of people demonstrated both for and against health care reform. There are no reports that the 12 were part of an organized group.

The man spotted carrying the assault rifle and a pistol, who gave his name only as "Chris", was asked why he was armed. "Because I can do it," he said. "In Arizona, I still have some freedoms." You can watch the video from ArizonaCentral.com (go to about 1:30). He's being interviewed by a man who's also wearing a handgun.

Two police officers kept close by. Carrying guns, including the AR-15 assault rifle, is legal under Arizona law.

"If we need to intervene, we will intervene at that time," said Detective J. Oliver.

CNN's Ed Henry reported seeing a second man with an assault rifle, but that has not been confirmed.

These reports come less than a week after two people brought guns to a presidential event in Portsmouth, N.H. At Obama's town hall there, one man was arrested for having a gun hidden in his car after the Secret Service found him at Portsmouth High School hours before Obama arrived carrying a pocketknife. He didn't have a license for a concealed weapon.

Another man in Portsmouth was spotted carrying a gun in a leg holster outside the school. The unconcealed weapon was legal under New Hampshire law and he was not arrested. Later, when asked why he brought the gun, he replied, "That's not even a relevant question. The question is, why don't people bear arms these days?"

And that's not all. A man brought a gun to a town hall with Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) last week, without incident. At an event with Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), someone dropped a gun, but he had a permit and no police report was taken. And two weeks ago, a New Mexico man tweeted that reform opponents should bring guns to town halls and "badly hurt" SEIU reps.

Earlier today, Rep. Anthony Weiner said he thinks about 100 Democratic members of the House would oppose a health care reform bill that didn't contain a public option. Now, he's taken the implication of that statement one step further. Not only would such a bill fail, but it wouldn't even come to the floor for a vote.



And, for what it's worth, despite recent evidence that the Senate will oppose a public option and the White House can live with that outcome, Speaker Pelosi still stands behind it.

Appearing at the RightOnline summit, a right-wing counterpart to Netroots Nation, Samuel Joseph "Joe The Plumber" Wurzelbacher said that Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats are the sort of people he would "beat livin' tar out of" for spending too much money and ridiculing protestors:

"So, when Pelosi and all those others talk about it bein' un-American and disrespectful, I tell ya what: I respect nobody who lies to me and manipulates me and takes my money, puts my children in debt -- they want me to be respectful towards 'em? Please," said Mr. The Plumber. "You know, I'm not the most civilized person. Those kind of people, I usually took behind the woodshed and just beat the livin' tar out of 'em. I don't like being lied to. I hate being lied to, and Americans are gettin' tired of it."

(Via Think Progress.)

The very basic logic of the public option is this: Most Democrats support a strong public option, most Republicans oppose Democratic health care reform period, so perhaps Democrats can win over a few Republicans if they keep government out of the insurance industry and create a system of privately-held health-care co-operatives instead. Simple right?

Not if the RNC has anything to say about it.

They're out today with a new release, attacking the co-op idea and charging that the the "reports of the public option's demise" are "greatly exaggerated."

So if at the very least you thought that the Democrats could escape the "government run health care" canard by, say, dropping their plans to create a government run health insurance system, you were mistaken. As the RNC makes clear, in their eyes, "Public option by any other name is still government-run health care."

Appearing on This Week with guest host Jake Tapper, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said that a provision to require Medicare to reimburse doctors who provide end-of-life counseling probably won't survive the legislative process.

"I think it's really horrific that some opponents of the health reform bill have used this painful, personal moment to try and scare people about what is in the bill," Sebelius said referring to politicians like Sarah Palin who falsely suggested that the government planned to create "death panels." But, she added, because of their handy work, the end-of-life counseling provision "probably will be off the table."

So now I guess granny gets to keep that freedom-loving privilege of paying for an optional end-of-life counseling session out her social security check. Thanks, GOP.

TIME political columnist Joe Klein said today he's "never seen anything" like men taking assault rifles to presidential events, which happened today in Phoenix.

"What we've seen this month is pretty frightening in general. We've seen the celebration of ignorance and misinformation in this health care battle," Klein said on CNN. "This, more than almost any other issue I can think of, is one where we need to be clear-headed."



Earlier today, at least one and possibly two men were seen (legally) carrying assault rifles outside the VFW National Convention, where President Obama was speaking. Hundreds of people gathered outside to demonstrate either for or against health care reform.

"There is a right to bear arms, but there's also a right to protect the president, and a right to sanity," Klein said.

Some advance Daily Kos/Research 2000 poll data has some very interesting information on the "death panel" belief among Republicans, Greg Sargent reports -- showing some potential overlap with another right-wing belief, that of the Birthers.

The poll asked this question: "Do you think the health care reform plan being considered by President Obama and Congress creates 'death panels' which have the authority to subjectively determine whether or not a gravely ill or injured person should receive health care based on their 'level of productivity in society'?"

Among Republicans, 26% said yes, the health plan does create death panels, with 43% saying no, and 31% not sure.

Now compare that to a Kos/R2K poll from two weeks ago, asking people whether President Obama was born in the United States. Among Republicans, it was 42% yes, 28% no, 30% undecided.

In these two sets, the percentages of Republicans who are Birthers or are Deathers are statistically indistinguishable from each other, as too are the undecided and sane positions.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) released the following statement on health care reform on Monday, August 17:

"As the President stated in March, 'The thinking on the public option has been that it gives consumers more choices and it helps keep the private sector honest, because there's some competition out there.'

"We agree with the President that a public option will keep insurance companies honest and increase competition.

"There is strong support in the House for a public option. In the House, all three of our bills contain a public option, as does the bill from the Senate HELP Committee.

"A public option is the best option to lower costs, improve the quality of health care, ensure choice and expand coverage.

"The public option brings real reform to lower costs over the 10-year period of the bill."

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