TPM News

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin on Monday night provided the nation with her definition of "blood libel" and defended her initial response to criticism of her map that featured the district of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) in crosshairs. The map was released almost a year before the shooting that nearly took Giffords's life earlier this month.

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With the GOP-controlled House of Representatives set to vote to repeal health care reform this week, the Obama administration is intensifying a public campaign to reframe the fight over the law: making it one in which Republicans are villains, trying to rescind benefits the Affordable Care Act provides people. One of those benefits is a ban on discrimination against people with pre-existing health conditions.

A report from the Department of Health and Human Services, published today, concludes that between 50 and 129 million Americans have pre-existing medical conditions, depending on the definition of the term. About 50 million Americans have pre-existing conditions as defined by state-run high-risk pools before the new health care law passed, according to the study. Likewise, a full 129 million have pre-existing conditions as defined by private health insurance companies.

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Change Tugs At US-China Ties Ahead Of Hu Visit AFP reports: "China's President Hu Jintao visits the United States this week at a time of flux and stress in Sino-US ties, with America weakened by crisis and Beijing flexing a new range of powers. While US President Barack Obama will lay on the pageantry of a state visit after Hu arrives on Tuesday, tensions on human rights, currency rates and North Korea, as well as military mistrust, are wobbling the key relationship."

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama will receive the presidential daily briefing at 10:15 a.m. ET, and meet with senior advisers at 10:45 a.m. ET. He will receive the economic daily briefing at 3:20 p.m. ET, and meet at 4:30 p.m. ET with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert Gates. At 6:30 p.m. ET, he will host a private dinner with Chinese President Hu Jintao.

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Perhaps anticipating that the media would begin ripping Sarah Palin's interview with Sean Hannity earlier tonight underestimated the speed of the news cycle. Less than an hour later and a network away, Palin's fellow conservative David Frum responded to her comments with a good-natured plea for her to just "stop talking now."

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Here's one case for the individual mandate in the health care law boiled down to two sentences -- both fairly elegant considering they were spoken extemporaneously.

"There isn't anything wrong with it, except some people look at it as an infringement upon individual freedom. But when it comes to states requiring it for automobile insurance, the principle then ought to lie the same way for health insurance, because everybody has some health insurance costs, and if you aren't insured, there's no free lunch. Somebody else is paying for it." -- June 14, 2009

A corollary to that argument is that you can't have a functioning private health care system that treats the sick unless it also draws money from the healthy. In this regard, the individual mandate actually marries two distinctly American priorities -- an obsession with private markets, and the core belief that nobody should go without health care.

Considering just how cacophonous the health care debate has become, it might surprise you to learn that the mystery reformer quoted above is Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), the Republicans' health care point man in the Senate who, during the same interview, with great authority, claimed "I believe that there is a bipartisan consensus to have individual mandates."

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Maine Gov. Paul LePage garnered much media attention last week when he responded to the NAACP's criticism of his planned non-participation in certain Martin Luther King Day events with a terse "kiss my butt."

LePage -- who on Monday ended up paying a visit to an MLK Day event after all -- defended his decision last week by saying he has a black son.

"Tell them to kiss my butt. If they want, they can look at my family picture. My son happens to be black, so they can do whatever they'd like about it."

This declaration drew focus onto LePage's relationship with the young man. And as the Portland Press Herald reports, the young man who LePage called his son -- Devon Raymond Jr. -- isn't technically his son. It remains unclear exactly how close the two are, or were -- or what the exact nature of their relationship is.

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The Council on American-Islamic Relations asked its California chapter to take down the image of a poster -- one that says, "Build a wall of resistance. Don't talk to the FBI" -- it used to promote a discussion about the FBI's tactics in recent terrorism investigations.

As soon as the national organization found out about the image last week -- about the same time Fox News and others began writing about it -- officials asked the chapter to pull it down, a CAIR spokesman tells TPM.

"It is not consistent with CAIR's policy of constitutionally informed cooperation with law enforcement," government affairs director Corey Saylor said.

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Former Bell, CA City Administrator Robert Rizzo has lost his volunteer job as a parking attendant at the International Surfing Museum in Huntington Beach, because he reportedly had a "negative impact" on the museum's image.

Rizzo resigned from his Administrator job following revelations that he and several other officials allegedly used public funds to inflate their salaries. Rizzo has been charged with 53 different counts after making nearly $800,000 a year. He pleaded not guilty in October.

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Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton, rumored to be considering a presidential run in 2012, thinks he could win the Republican nomination if he ran: "Well, I think I could win the Republican nomination if I chose to run, because I do think I'm in the mainstream of the Republican Party."

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Former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, who was defeated for re-election at the party's meeting just this past Friday, is now popping up again on cable TV. And in an appearance this afternoon on Hardball, the previously gaffe-tastic Steele was...a remarkably level-headed pundit, with the weight of the RNC taken off his shoulders.

At one point, Steele defended his fundraising record. "Well we raised enough money. $192 million is a lot money," said Steele. "And a lot of folks want to sneeze at that. That's a lot of money -- at least in my neighborhood, I don't know about anybody else's. (Laughs.)"

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