TPM News

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

• ABC, This Week: Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND); Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC).

• CBS, Face The Nation: White House Senior Adviser David Axelrod; Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA); Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN); Historian and author Douglas Brinkley.

• CNN, State Of The Union: Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA); Senator Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY); and White House Senior Adviser David Axelrod.

• Fox News Sunday: White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs; Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-AZ).

• NBC, Meet The Press: Sec. of State Hillary Clinton.

Dr. David McKalip has told fellow conservative activists that thanks to the flap over his racist email showing President Obama as a witch doctor, he will no longer appear publicly in opposition to health-care reform.

"For now, in the interest of protecting this movement from any collateral damage, I am withdrawing from making media appearances on health system reform," McKalip wrote this morning in an email -- obtained by TPMmuckraker -- to fellow members of an online health-care discussion group affiliated with the Tea Party movement. The email went to the same recipients to which McKalip sent the original racist email.

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Hmmm... this is interesting! I've obtained a copy of White House talking points laying out just how members of the administration will publicly reckon with the delay in health care legislation.

"We are closer to real health insurance reform today than ever before," the memo reads.

Key committees in Congress have reached a striking degree of consensus about how to control costs, guarantee coverage, and provide more choices for every American....

President Obama remains committed to and confident about signing health insurance reform into law by the end of this year.

You can read the entire memo below the fold. It provides a small window into the President's playbook when he's confronted with disspiriting news and unfriendly headlines.

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We've made a bit of a habit here of lampooning House Republican efforts to defeat Democratic legislation by creating brightly colored, though ultimately meaningless charts. And, it seems, the joke's caught on. Here, for instance, is a slightly NSFW segment from last night's Daily Show.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
White House M.D.
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorJoke of the Day

A second senior staffer for Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) has resigned, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports. Ensign's office announced yesterday the departure of his communications director, Tony Mazzola.

The press release also announced the departure of chief of staff John Lopez, which we first heard about yesterday. He'll be replaced by Aaron Cohen, a health policy lobbyist with Kimbell & Associates and former Ensign staffer. Lopez will stay on through August as he "weighs options in the public sector," according to the release.

Mazzola will be replaced by Rebecca Fisher, who was Ensign's communications director at the Republican Policy Committee. Mazzola is leaving to be Northeast region press secretary for the National Republican Congressional Committee. He's from New England, the release said, and wants to return as he and his wife expect their first child.

Ensign's office also announced the return of Pam Thiessen, the senator's former policy director who left in January to work for the Republican Policy Committee. She will be returning as a senior policy adviser.

House Energy and Commerce chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) says his panel's Blue Dogs must relent, or he and leaders will move health care legislation directly to the floor, bypassing the committee altogether.

This morning, he told reporters that Blue Dogs are trying to "eviscerate" the landmark legislation. "I won't allow them to hand over control of our committee to Republicans," Waxman said.

"I dont see what other alternative we have, because we're not going to let them empower Republicans on the committee."

President Obama regrets the comments he made Wednesday night about the arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. - but only in the sense that it's become such a distraction from the health care debate, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Friday morning.

In response to reporters' questions at the White House, Gibbs said if the President knew "just how much of an overall distraction and obsession it would be, I think he would regret distracting [the media] with obsessions."

Gibbs did not say that Obama was apologizing for his comments, which included saying the Cambridge police "acted stupidly" in arresting Gates outside of his own home last Thursday.

The Hill reports that "Gibbs said the president was probably 'not altogether surprised that somebody' asked him about the incident." While unsurprised at being asked about it, Obama has said he's "surprised by the controversy" over what he saw as "pretty straight forward commentary that you probably don't need to handcuff a guy, a middle-aged man who uses a cane, who's in his own home."

Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) is probably the last person you'd expect to see courting the affections of the Netroots. The freshly minted Democrat has long been one of the progressive movement's most reviled betes noir. But next month, he'll address a large crowd of activists and bloggers at the annual Netroots a forum that will also feature his rival--and burgeoning Netroots star--Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA).

Each participant will be featured on stage separately and sit with the moderators for a question and answer session. The participants will be offered an opportunity to make brief opening remarks after which the moderators will engage them in questions of their sole choosing. The forum will solicit questions online in advance, from Pennsylvania voters and other interested citizens, and the moderators will exercise editorial judgment and discretion in selecting official topics and questions for the event. In addition, there may be some questions will be taken live from the audience at the forum, time permitting. Participants will then be given the opportunity to make closing remarks.

The two men have rallied voters at the same event before--but this is the first time the two will be courting a national progressive base. In June, the two addressed a crowd of union organizers in Pennsylvania, and, later the same month, a crowd of Pennsylvania-based health care and union organizers in Washington, DC.

Are David McKalip's political allies backing away from him -- despite his apology for sending a racist email depicting President Obama as a witch doctor?

A spokesman for Florida GOP gubernatorial candidate Marco Rubio declined to tell TPMmuckraker whether Rubio would continue to work with McKalip, who last month co-hosted a $500-per-person fundraiser for Rubio at the Grand Bellagio Clubhouse in Clearwater.

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He's only been in office for two and a half weeks, but Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) has already passed legislation in the chamber, his office announced -- his pilot program to fund service dogs for disabled veterans, which was incorporated by unanimous consent into the Defense Authorization bill that passed last night.

Franken introduced the measure along with Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA), and had additional cosponsors from both sides of the aisle: Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Mark Begich (D-AK), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and John Ensign (R-NV).

This is not the final piece of legislation, as the Defense Authorization will still have to go through the conference committee process. That said, the chances are probably very good that the Franken-Isakson Service Dogs for Veterans Act will be in the bill that gets signed by President Obama.