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With reports coming in that President Obama will appoint Rep. John McHugh (R-NY) as the new Secretary of the Army, the political world will now be gearing up for what could be yet another high-stakes special Congressional election in upstate New York, so soon after we already had a photo-finish for the former House seat of appointed Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). And so far, both parties seem to be downplaying expectations.

The district itself has all the makings of a swing seat. President Obama carried it 52%-47% in 2008, just slightly behind the curve of his overall 53%-46% national victory over John McCain. Before that, it voted 51%-47% for George W. Bush in 2004. Compare this to the NY-20 special election, which was won by Democrat Scott Murphy by a razor-thin margin, where Obama had carried it 51%-48% in 2008, and Bush had taken it 53%-45% in 2004. So on paper, this could be a potential Dem pickup in the special election.

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It looks like Scott Roeder, the suspect on the murder of George Tiller, was targeting other abortion providers in the days before Tiller's slaying Sunday.

A worker at a clinic in Kansas City, Kansas at which Roeder regularly demonstrated told CNN that early Saturday morning, he "actually chased after" Roeder after catching him trying to pour epoxy into the facility's locks two weekends in a row.

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Last night, with the typical eloquence of a 75 year old man using Twitter, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee wrote, "The prez is meetin w Finance and Help Demo bc doesn't appear they on same page Finance working biparty HELP more partisan. Where Prez land?"



Translated roughly from the Twitterese, that means that President Obama met with Democrats from both the Finance Committee and Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee because they disagree about the direction health reform should take. Unsurprisingly, all signs indicate that the more liberal HELP Committee--chaired by Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA)--will soon introduce a fairly dramatic reform proposal, with a truly robust public insurance option. Soon thereafter, though, the Finance Committee will unveil a rather less progressive proposal of its own with the issue of the public option--how robust it will be, or whether it will be included at all--still unsettled.

Grassley's spinning this as a rift between partisans and centrists within the Democratic party, and in a way that rift really exists. But the political play here is somewhat more complicated.

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Yesterday we reported that prominent Sonia Sotomayor critics including Tom Tancredo ("Latina KKK") and Pat Buchanan ("That woman... is for race-based justice") were employing, with full knowledge of the events, a young man named Marcus Epstein, who plead guilty to karate chopping a black female pedestrian and calling her a "nigger."

Dave Weigel of The Washington Independent asked a number of conservative Sotomayor critics what this apparent hypocrisy says about the larger campaign to block her confirmation, and one response, in particular was telling.

Curt Levey, the executive director of the Committee of Justice, has been optimistic about the right's fight against Sotomayor, but he admitted to TWI that he "underestimated the degree to which a few conservatives would say a few extreme things, and that would be characterized as what all conservatives think."


As we've noted before, the campaign against Sotomayor has exposed and widened a rift between a sensible faction within the conservative movement and die-hard activists. By basing the attacks on charges of racism, while simultaneously lobbing ethnically loaded insults at her, people like Levey have, inadvertently or not, poured gasoline on the embers of this conflict.

Obama: Cheney "Happens To Be Wrong" On National Security In an interview with National Public Radio, President Obama responded to Dick Cheney, saying that while Cheney has every right to speak up on national security, "He also happens to be wrong, right?" Obama added: "Last time, immediately after his last speech, I think there was a fact check on his speech that didn't get a very good grade."

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama will be meeting with Senate Democrats at 2:30 p.m. ET in the State Dining Room, to discuss health care reform. At 3:45 p.m. ET, he will sign the Ronald Reagan Centennial Commission Act. At 4:15 p.m. ET, he will meet in the Oval Office with Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer. At 6:45 p.m. ET, he will depart from the White House, heading for Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

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On Saturday, Michelle and Barack headed to New York City for a date. The evening fulfilled a promise made on the campaign trail ("I am taking my wife to New York City because I promised her during the campaign that I would take her to a Broadway show after it was all finished") and consisted of dinner at Blue Hill and the Broadway show Joe Turner's Come and Gone.

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Not everyone felt great about the evening out on the town. The RNC issued a news release chastising Obama for going out when GM was on the eve of filing for Chapter 11: "Obamas wing into the city for an evening out while another iconic American company prepares for bankruptcy."

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Given the 487 days Bush spent at Camp David and the 490 days he spent at his private ranch in Crawford (yes, that's over 2 and a half years out of 8), this strikes us as odd.

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We've told you about one way in which President Obama has so far continued his predecessor's tactics: by invoking the state secrets privilege to argue for the dismissal of lawsuits in the war on terror.

And now Congress will consider reforming the State Secrets Act, in an effort to make it more difficult to invoke it when national security concerns are not truly at take.

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The killing of George Tiller in Kansas Sunday was the latest act in three decades of violence aimed at abortion providers. Although the violence dates back to the years immediately following Roe v. Wade in 1973, the first murder occurred in 1993.

Tiller is the eighth person killed in attacks targeting abortion providers, according to data compiled by the National Abortion Federation, the association of U.S. and Canadian abortion providers.

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The Sotomayor confirmation process moves forward, however slowly, tomorrow when she meets with Judiciary Committee chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT). The two will host a photo op in Leahy's Senate office building at 11:30 and Leahy will brief the press after the meeting at noon.

Last week, the committee sent Sotomayor a broad questionnaire in anticipation of her coming confirmation hearing.

Dr. George Tiller, pictured here on March 23, 2009, was shot and killed at the Reformation Lutheran Church in Wichita, Kansas on Sunday, May 31.

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Thomas Dyke lays flowers at the gated entrance of Women's Health Care Services in Wichita after Tiller's death.

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Parishioners leave the church after the shooting.

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Tiller's body is removed from the church.

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Wichita Police Captain Brent Allred addresses the media.

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Mary LaFrancis, a retired nurse from Nebraska, prays in front of the Sedgwick County Courthouse where Tiller was on trial on March 23, 2009, facing 19 misdemeanor charges for allegedly consulting a second physician in late-term abortion cases who was not "independent" as required by Kansas state law. Tiller was acquitted of all charges.

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Dr. Tiller addresses legislators and their guests at a tour of his clinic in Wichita on October 6, 1998. The clinic was the site of frequent protests - in 1993, Tiller was shot in both arms by an anti-abortion activist.

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(left to right) Kelli Parks, Jon Ingram and Kasey Thomas of Wichita attend a candlelight vigil for Tiller on May 31.

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Tiller's wife, Jeanne.

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