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The Boston Globe reports that the Massachusetts state Senate is set to move tomorrow on the bill to provide for a temporary appointment to Ted Kennedy's Senate seat -- meaning that the seat could potentially be filled by a caretaker Democrat by the end of the week.

Republicans had delayed the measure on Friday, and did so again today. However, they only have the ability to delay one more time -- but they say they won't actually do it.

"I don't know that there's a lot to be gained by continuing to delay just to delay it," said state Senate Minority Leader Richard Tisei. "That's not what we're about. We're trying to give people time to weigh in. We got the weekend out of it."

By my count, Democrats have offered three different amendments that, if approved, would result in the adoption of a public health insurance plan. The first, proposed by Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) calls for the creation of a fairly robust public option much like the plan originally drafted by the House of Representatives. It would pay providers Medicare rates plus a small bonus for those practitioners who already take Medicare patients.

That will be a telling vote, but more telling will be the votes on the other two public option proposals. The first, sponsored by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) would create a so-called "level playing field" public option, which wouldn't be permitted to set rates. The second, offered by Schumer and Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA), would create a very similar public option, this one imported from the Senate HELP committee's bill.

Rockefeller's plan would please reformers and liberals, and substantively makes more sense on a cost control level. But what makes the other two amendments more politically interesting is that they put conservative Democrats--particularly Sens. Max Baucus (D-MT), Kent Conrad (D-ND), and Blanche Lincoln (D-AR)--on the spot. No longer will they be able to simply dismiss the public option by saying it doesn't have the votes to pass the Senate. And they won't be able to honestly oppose these plans on big government grounds.They'll actually have to go on the record one way or another. And a lot of eyes will be on them when they do.

Oh sweet irony.

Birther attorney Orly Taitz tells TPMmuckraker she believes a letter sent by her now ex-client renouncing Taitz -- in a case alleging that Barack Obama's birth certificate is a forgery -- may itself be a forgery. It's worth noting that Taitz submitted as evidence in the original filing in the "birther soldier" case of Army Capt. Connie Rhodes a "Kenyan birth certificate" that is itself an obvious forgery.

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The 2009 Values Voter Summit kicked off Friday, September 18 in Washington, D.C. and ran through Sunday, September 20. The annual conservative gathering featured such Republican stars as Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX), above. TPM dissects the more interesting names for breakout sessions, including 'Obamacare: Rationing Your Life Away' here.

Check out the TPM roundup of the summit.

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Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, which sponsored the summit.

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A conference attendee. One of the planned sessions was entitled 'Defunding Planned Parenthood.'

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Gil Mertz of the Family Research Council was the master of ceremonies for the event.

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The National Organization for Marriage made an appearance, still touting its 2M4M campaign.

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House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH).

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Bill Bennett.

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Mitt Romney, who told the audience that President Obama is 'weakening' America.

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Romney came in second behind Mike Huckabee in the straw poll.

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The books of Bill O'Reilly, John McCain, and Stephen Baldwin (among others) were on sale at the event.

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'Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays & Gays' was one of the many exhibitors attending the event.

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Mike Huckabee won the Values Voter straw poll, beating Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin, Bobby Jindal, Newt Gingrich, and others.

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Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), Rep. Tom Price (R-GA), and Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) held a health care panel at the event, a study in out-of-touch conservatism. According to Bachmann, 95 percent of our health care problems would be fixed if we allowed people to buy their own insurance. Plus a little tort reform.

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More from the health care panel:"You own your health care just like you own your auto insurance," Bachmann said. "You can band together with whomever you want...it's called freedom!"

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Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) diagnosed the conservative condition, saying "Right now, millions of Americans are waking up realizing that they don't recognize their country anymore."

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Former Miss California Carrie Prejean also gave a speech at the event (preceded by the likes of Cantor and Boehner), where she impressed the audience with an emotional message. "Even though I didn't win the crown that night," she said, "I know that the Lord has so much of a bigger crown in heaven for me." The crowd got up and cheered.

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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

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"How Would Jesus Vote?"

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For the Cadillac.

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Stephen, drummer of the Baldwin Band.

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Terry Jeffrey.

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Rep. Roy Blunt (R-MO) talks monkeys and golf balls.

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Anti-abortion student activist Lila Rose.

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Attendees head for breakout sessions.

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No snack breaks.

Check out the TPM roundup of the summit.

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The Values Voter Summit concluded over the weekend, showcasing the religious right (and more on the proper usage of that label later on) and its fervent opposition to President Obama.

Mike Huckabee won the presidential straw poll, a key test of religious right voters, but it was with a weak plurality in a very divided field: Huckabee 29%, followed by Mitt Romney Tim Pawlenty, Sarah Palin and Mike Pence, all with about 12% each. That said, it's natural in some ways that the GOP should have no obvious frontrunner at this point in the cycle, and this isn't really a huge problem -- but don't mistake these numbers for a major Huck win.

Huckabee was obviously a big hit, and really did play into the worldview of good versus evil. For example, he besmirched the very motives and patriotism of their political enemies, and of those who tell the the GOP to be less conservative and more moderate: "I'm not sure the center makes a whole lot of sense when it's coming from people who certainly don't have our interest, or our country's interest, at heart."

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Speaking to students at Hudson Valley Community College in Troy, N.Y., today, President Obama spoke about how encouraging innovation -- by supporting scientific research and helping students afford college -- will help boost the economy.

"It was not an accident that America led the 20th century. It was the result of hard work and discipline and sacrifice, and ambition that served a common purpose. So it must be in the 21st century. Future success is no guarantee," he said. "As Americans we always have to remember that our leadership is not an inheritance, it is a responsibility."

He spoke about a bill, which has passed the House, to stop subsidies to private banks for student loans, thereby "cutting out the middle man." His goal, he said, is to have the hightest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020.

"We used to be No. 1, we're gonna be No. 1 again," he said.

He spoke about investing in basic scientific research through public grants, lamenting that the private sector often doesn't bother with basic research.

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Democracy for America and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee are turning their fire to Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) with the below ad, slated to run for as long as they're able to fund it in Maine and Washington, DC.



The groups highlight new polling data which shows that the choice of a public option has broad support in Maine, but particularly among Democrats and Independents.

But today, Snowe proposed an amendment to the Senate Finance Committee's health care reform bill that would allow for a weak, state by state public option that would only be instituted if private insurers fail to bring down premiums and expand coverage on their own. In other words, there's a lot of convincing to be done.

Health insurer Humana Inc. portrays itself as a guide through the treacherous waters of health-care coverage. The company's tagline is "Guidance When You Need It Most," and switchboard operators at its Louisville headquarters answer the phone by asking callers: "How can I guide you?"

But is Humana guiding its customers a little too much in enlisting them to oppose a key aspect of health-care reform?

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As I noted on Friday, there's a rift emerging on the left between some reform activists who want Democrats to pass health care legislation as part of the filibuster-proof budget reconciliation bill, and Democratic leaders, who see the reconciliation process as a tool last resort, and a dangerous one at that.

But as so often happens in inter-coalition disputes, the leaders of the two factions are talking past each other, and their arguments are getting lost in the cacophony. So what are those arguments?

There are many of them. But in the end the dispute boils down to a question of whether Democrats should be willing to test the limits of what's technically feasible under the law and Senate rules--whether they should go farther than even the Republicans went when they used reconciliation to pass the Bush tax cuts--or whether doing so would steer U.S. politics on to a course so fraught and unpredictable that the consequences could outstrip the substantive gains they'd make by passing a comprehensive health care bill.

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