TPM News

Former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie, the Republican nominee for Governor of New Jersey, has now launched this new TV ad, his first of the general election season:



Pay attention to Christie's opening line: "As U.S. Attorney I put corrupt public officials in jail - Republicans and Democrats." In the wake of yesterday's big corruption raid in New Jersey, this is probably a good pitch for Christie to hold on to swing voters in this heavily Democratic state, and to maintain his big lead in the polls over Dem Gov. Jon Corzine.

The hallmark of bipartisan health care negotiations in the Senate Finance Committee has been its inability to get anything done, or offer benchmarks for progress. But now, after killing any hope that the Senate will pass health care legislation before it's August recess, chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) is now quietly promising that the panel will finish its bill by August 7.

Although Baucus continued to insist in public that negotiators will be "ready when we're ready," he gave Reid and other Democrats private assurances Thursday that his panel will complete work on its bill by Aug. 7, the start of the Senate's month-long recess, and in keeping with Obama's new deadline....

If the Aug. 7 deadline holds, [Senate Majority Leader Harry] Reid said, he will work over the break with White House officials to merge the two Senate versions.


Convenient. At a time like this, it probably makes sense to point out that Baucus has taken a ton of money from the health care industry.

Poll: Palin's National Favorability Drops As She Leaves Office A new ABC/Washington Post poll finds that Gov. Sarah Palin's (R-AK) national favorability numbers are in bad territory as she prepares to resign her office. Only 40% of Americans view her favorably, with 53% viewing her unfavorably, down from a 46%-51% number from two weeks before Election Day 2008. In addition, only 37% say she understands complex issues, to 57% who say she does not.

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama will have his regular morning briefings, and then he will meet with Vice President Biden at 11 a.m. ET. He will then meet at 11:30 a.m. ET with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and with Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), and with Sec. of State Hillary Clinton at 12:30 p.m. ET. He will speak at the Department of Education at 1:15 p.m. ET. At 5:30 p.m. ET, he will sign a proclamation celebrating the 19th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. At 8:45 p.m. ET, the President and First Lady will attend the Marine Corps Evening Parade.

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David McKalip -- the Florida neurosurgeon and healthcare reform opponent who sent a racist email showing President Obama dressed as a witch doctor with a loin cloth and a bone through his nose, which was posted yesterday by TPMmuckraker -- has apologized directly to the president.

Through a P.R. representative, McKalip put out the following statement:

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Secretary Clinton is greeted by Angkhana Neelaphaijit, President of the Working Group on Justice for Peace in Phyathai Palace in Bangkok.

State Department




Clinton shakes hands with Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva before a meeting at the Government House.

State Department




Clinton and Vejjajiva sit down at the Government House for a bilateral meeting.

State Department




Clinton is greeted by Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Panich Vikitsreth and his wife upon her arrival.

State Department




Ambassador Eric G. John greets Clinton upon her arrival to Bangkok.

State Department




A taping of Clinton's interview at Phyathai Palace. More than two hundred students, young leaders and government officials were in the audience.

State Department




Clinton chats with Lieutenant General Supriya and Mrs. Mokkhavesa.

State Department




The Secretary of State is greeted with a Thai 'wai' by Tuenjai Deetes, Founder and Advisor of the Hill Areas Development Foundation.

State Department




Clinton and Secretary-General Surin Pitsuwan talk before the opening of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Regional Forum, a high-level Asia security meeting, in the Thai resort island of Phuket.

Newscom / Yonhap




Clinton speaks to Kurt Campbell, newly appointed assistant secretary of state for East Asia and Pacific affairs, during the ASEAN Regional Forum.

Newscom / Yonhap

TPMDC's update on the biggest initiatives on Capitol Hill.

  • Health Care: Negotiations continue behind closed doors in both the House Energy and Commerce Committee and Senate Finance Committee--though the sense of urgency must be dissipating. Harry Reid announced today that there would not be a vote on legislation before the Senate adjourned and President Obama has come to terms with it. Republicans are already rejoicing. The House could still vote on its bill next week--but the Senate will have to come a long way before then. And given the pace in the upper chamber to this point...


  • Gun Control: Yesterday, Democrats filibustered a Republican amendment to the 2010 Defense Authorization Act that would've allowed gun-owners with concealed weapons permits to bring carry their concealed weapons across state lines and into regions with prohibitions on carrying concealed weapons.


  • Defense Spending: The day before yesterday, the Senate adopted, as an amendment to the same defense bill, a measure to strike $1.75 billion in procurement funding for the F-22--a major victory for defense spending reformers. Of course, if it had been filibustered, it would've failed.

The new Fox News poll has some mixed news for President Obama on the economy. On the one hand, his numbers in this area aren't all that impressive -- but people still blame former President George W. Bush more than they blame him.

Obama's overall approval rating is 54%, with 38% disapproval. On the economy, this is a narrower 50%-43%, still in positive territory. This question could be troublesome: "Do you think the Obama administration has a clear plan for fixing the economy?" Here it is only Yes 42%, No 53%. The same question is asked about Congress, yielding an abysmal 21%-73% rating.

However, people still don't view the economy as Obama's fault, as Republicans would like to see things. Here's one question: "Who do you think is more responsible for the current state of the economy -- Barack Obama or George W. Bush?" Here it's Obama 16%, Bush 61%, and both equally 5%. The same question is asked about the current size of the budget deficit: Obama 28%, Bush 53%, both 8%.

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) released a statement today, celebrating the delay of a vote on health care reform until after the August recess. Key paragraph:

"I am very pleased my Democrat colleagues have now rejected the President's strategy to force through a bad bill before anyone has had a chance to even read it," said Senator DeMint. "Americans can win this debate but they are going to have to continue speaking out. They know the promises the President has made do not match up with the policies he is pushing. Over the August break, they need to connect with their Congressmen and Senators and let know that Washington shouldn't make their families' health care decisions."

By now you're probably at least somewhat familiar with the cast of characters in the Senate Democratic caucus--Ben Nelson, Joe Lieberman, etc.--who pop up every time a major Obama agenda item is making its way through the legislative process to say, "not so fast!"

But right now, in the House, a group of Blue Dog Democrats is stifling its own party's health care reform proposal, and, for the most part, Americans don't really know who they are. They might know what a "Blue Dog" is, generally speaking--a conservative Democrat from a Republican district, primarily concerned with shrinking the federal deficit (unless the deficit is created by defense and war spending, or tax cuts for the wealthy) and the well-being of big business.

For their pro-corporate positions, and willingness to throw their weight around Congress, the Blue Dogs are richly rewarded. And this year--with energy, financial, and, yes, health industry interests trying desperately to weaken reform legislation--they're on a record pace. But within the Blue Dog caucus there are a range of personalities and animating forces, and it's worth taking a moment to review who the key players are.

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