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During his tele-town hall this evening, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) bluntly explained why it is that he's been so eager to have a bipartisan bill, as opposed to a Democrats-only approach.

"People wonder why I have been so persistent in trying to get a bipartisan bill. I've done that because under the rules of the Senate, we're better off if we can do a bill where we can get a little bit of Republican support," said Reid. "The Republican leaders in the Senate, McConnell and Kyl, have said they don't want to do health care reform. The leaders in the House, Boehner and Cantor, have said they don't want to do health care reform. So we have been trying very hard to to get some Republican support for our legislation."

"We only have 60 votes on paper," Reid added, explaining that Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) has passed away, and had not been voting in his final months, and that Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV) hasn't been voting very much, either. "We only have 58 votes, and is why we need Republican support."

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During a tele-townhall with constituents today, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he supports a public option...but then he added an extremely important caveat. Reid said he doesn't think the public option ought to be a government run program like Medicare, but instead favors a "private entity that has direction from the federal government so people that don't fall within the parameters of being able to get insurance from their employers, they would have a place to go. "

That sounds suspiciously like Reid would prefer a so-called co-op system, which almost all reformers regard with suspicion, and many regard as a non-starter. Reid is ultimately more than just one vote, too. If the Senate passes a health care bill through the regular legislative process, he'll be the one marrying two different pieces of legislation: one which creates a public option, and one which creates co-ops. Likewise, if the Senate passes health care reforms on a partisan basis through the so-called reconciliation process, his office would take the lead in determining whether to try an include a public option in the reconciliation bill.

I'll update this post when I've received comment from Reid's staff.

Late update: Reid spokesman Jim Manley emails in that Reid's preference is for a "public option," but would not confirm that Reid means "public option" as commonly understood: an insurance program run by the Department of Health and Human Services or another government body.

Late late update: Manley adds, "The govt could contract w a private company to administer the public option. [Sen. Reid] is willing to consider a co-op if he is shown it works to make insurers honest."


On August 27, the nation continued to mourn Senator Edward M. Kennedy as his body was transported from Hyannis Port, MA to the JFK Library in Boston to lie in repose. People crowded along highways and city streets to watch the motorcade, which included the hearse and 85 members of the Kennedy family. Here, Kennedy's flag-draped casket is carried from his Hyannis Port house on Thursday.

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A military escort lifts Kennedy's casket in order to transfer it to a hearse, which was headed for Boston.

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A man waiting for Ted Kennedy's hearse to pass finishes an appreciative sign.

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A supporter along the hearse's route.

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The hearse carrying Ted Kennedy's casket makes its way through Boston.

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Mourners lined up to pay tribute to Ted Kennedy, whose casket arrived Thursday, August 27, at the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum.

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Members of the Kennedy family, with Ted Kennedy's wife Vicki in front, watch his casket pass by on its way into the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum.

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An honor guard carries Ted Kennedy's casket into the museum.

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Vistors line up outside the museum to pay their respects to Ted Kennedy.

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Members of the Kennedy family greet those who came to view the casket.

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Inside the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum.

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Inside the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum.

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A photograph of Ted Kennedy is displayed at the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum.

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Vicki Kennedy, the wife of the late Ted Kennedy, clasps hands with a woman in line to visit the casket.

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Caroline Kennedy, Ted Kennedy's niece, shakes hands with her uncle's well-wishers.

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Mourners wipe their eyes.

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Visitors gather around the Kennedy family burial site in Arlington National Cemetery. Ted Kennedy will be buried next to his brothers John and Robert Kennedy on Saturday, August 29.

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At the Kennedy family burial site.

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We've taken a look at the complaint filed by the Feds against Hassan Nemazee, the top Hillary Clinton fundraiser who was charged this week with fraudulently trying to getting a $74 million loan from Citigroup.

The gist of Nemazee's alleged scheme, begun in 2006, was relatively simple: In order to convince Citigroup that he had sufficient collateral to secure the line of credit he was asking for, he gave the bank false account statements, according to an affidavit signed by an FBI agent on the case. And, says the agent, he forged the names of actual staffers at brokerage houses where he claimed those accounts were housed. He also allegedly included phone numbers and addresses for what he claimed were the brokerages, but was in fact a virtual office he had set up.

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The 2010 Louisiana Senate race, in which scandal-plagued incumbent Republican David Vitter is running for re-election, just keeps getting more interesting.

BayouBuzz.com reported today that Army Gen. Russel Honoré, best known for his role in coordinating military relief in Hurricane Katrina, is strongly considering a Republican primary challenge against Vitter.

Honoré reportedly describes himself as "pro-life and pro-family," which could provide an interesting contrast to Vitter -- who is also pro-life and pro-family, but is also known for patronizing prostitutes. Another famous description of Honoré is the one given to him by New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin: A "John Wayne dude."

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Here are the line-ups for the Sunday talk shows this weekend:

• ABC, This Week: Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Sen. John Kerry (D-MA); Liz Cheney, E.J. Dionne, Sam Donaldson, Gwen Ifill, George Will.

• CBS, Face The Nation: Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA).

• CNN, State Of The Union: Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT); James Carville and Mary Matalin.

• Fox News Sunday: Former Vice President Dick Cheney.

• NBC, Meet The Press: Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), Bob Shrum, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, Doris Kearns Goodwin.

Sarah Palin's PAC, SaraPAC, has an explanation for the irregularities that the Federal Election Commission spotted in their half-year filing: "We fouled up there."

SarahPAC was found to have made donations of $5,000 to Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Palin's former running mate Sen. John McCain (R-AZ). However, they had not yet qualified as a multi-candidate PAC, and thus were only allowed to write checks of $2,400.

"I think you can say it was sloppiness on my part and my attorney's part," SarahPAC treasurer Tim Crawford told the Anchorage Daily News. "We fouled up there. But it's been fixed."

CNN has picked up our story from yesterday on Steven Anderson, the Arizona pastor who prayed for Barack Obama's death the day before one of his parishioners, who attended the sermon, brought an AR-15 rifle to an Obama event.

And they've advanced the story a bit: CNN analyst Mike Brooks reports that the Secret Service has interviewed Anderson, who told TPMmuckraker yesterday: "To be honest with you, I have prayed for Obama to die. I'm not the only one, I'm just the only one with the spine to say it."

Here's the relevant bit of the segment, in which Rich Sanchez interviews Brooks and former Secret Service agent Scott Alswang:



The Secret Service did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

With the latest Gallup tracking polls showing that President Obama's approval rating among Americans is now right at 50%, it's very clear that the honeymoon period -- when his ratings were in the high 60's, and he seemed untouchable -- is now over. So what caused him to go down as quickly as he has?

The fact is, all presidents since World War II have eventually gone below 50% approval in Gallup, as Obama seems about to do any day now, with the exception of John F. Kennedy -- whose presidency was tragically cut short before this might have happened at a future date. The record for the longest 50-plus streak goes to Dwight Eisenhower, at 63 months. (People liked Ike for a long time -- but even that couldn't last forever.)

With Obama, however, his decline has happened a bit sooner than it did for others -- and there could be a good explanation why.

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We've now obtained the letter to Congress from Bonner's lawyer that we told you about earlier -- in which Bonner hilariously claims that its client, a coal industry group, was the "victim of a fraud" stemming from the forged letters to lawmakers about the climate change bill.

The letter, from Akin Gump lawyer Steven Ross to Rep. Ed Markey, can be seen here.

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