TPM News

Major progressive organizations see a golden opportunity to resurrect the public option, and are preparing a campaign, which will include television ads in Nevada, to pressure Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to get on board.

As I've noted a number of times, the public option will not be in the Senate Finance Committee's health care bill, but it can re-emerge at three key points in the legislative process. Among those, one of the most important is the next step, when Reid merges the Finance bill with a more liberal proposal from the Senate HELP Committee. If he adopts the latter panel's public option, it would dramatically alter the nature of the legislative battle, shifting the onus from liberals, who have been doggedly fighting to include the public option in the Senate bill, on to conservative Democrats, who would have to decide whether their opposition to the popular measure is so strong that they'd be willing to join the GOP in a health care filibuster and tank the entire reform effort.

Such a move would likely alienate Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME), the only Republican working with Democrats on health care reform, and require Democratic leaders, including Reid and President Obama to make sure all 60 Democrats stand united when Republicans try to block the bill--a tall order, and one Reid doesn't seem prepared to meet.

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The Secret Service announced today that the person -- a juvenile -- behind a Facebook poll that asked whether President Obama should be killed is not an actual threat to the President.

The agency spoke with the child and the child's parents, and no charges will be filed.

"Case closed," said a spokesman. ""I guess you could characterize it as a mistake."

No names were released to the press.

Earlier this weekend, a user-created poll popped up on Facebook that asked users, "Should Obama be killed?" The choices were Yes, No, Maybe, and "Yes if he cuts my health care."

Facebook removed the poll after it was brought to their attention.

A very interesting name pops up on the management and strategy team for Gov. Tim Pawlenty's (R-MN) new political action committee, which is widely seen as a preliminary step for a presidential campaign: Sara Taylor, a former top aide to Karl Rove, who resigned her position during the U.S. Attorney scandal.

Taylor's testimony during the U.S. Attorney hearings sure was interesting. When confronted with the fact that she'd conducted official government business through a private RNC e-mail account, she explained that it was more "efficient" than using both the RNC e-mail and the government e-mail. In addition, Taylor refused to answer many questions, citing executive privilege, and for other questions said she couldn't recall the answers:"I can't remember what I had for breakfast last week."

But her single most famous moment was when Sen. Pat Leahy (D-VT) caught Taylor saying she made an oath to the President -- as opposed to saying she made an oath to the Constitution:

Reporters who go to work in public relations often encounter a bit of skepticism from their former colleagues (see Wolffe, Richard.) But that skepticism may be especially pronounced when the company on whose behalf the former reporter is spinning is a mysterious private security force that has won a contract to take over an empty jail and won't reveal the source of its backing, and whose leader shows up in town wearing a military-style uniform, offering three Mercedes SUVs for use by local law enforcement, and dragging a long criminal record, including jail time for fraud, behind him.

Meet Becky Shay, the American Police Force's new director of public relations. Shay had been a reporter for 20 years, and had been covering the APF story for the Billings Gazette. She filed her last story Thursday night, apparently without telling her editors that she had been in negotiations for a job with the company she was covering. Then she abruptly quit the paper and announced that she had signed on with APF.

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The National Republican Congressional Committee is raising money off Rep. Alan Grayson's (D-FL) claim this week that the Republican health care plan is little more than a suggestion that sick Americans "die quickly." Grayson has also called the health care crisis a "holocaust" and has called Republicans "foot-dragging, knuckle-dragging Neanderthals."

Now it's time for Republicans to do some name-calling. On the website, the NRCC brands the Democrat Alan (dis)Grayson. The banner includes the words "Unethical. Embarrassing. Extreme." And his "die quickly" comment "falls far short of any decent human being's decorum."

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When reading TPMmuckraker's coverage of American Police Force, the shadowy private security firm that's taken over a prison in Montana, you might wonder what other services APF offers. Surely, you think, they do more than run empty jails for mysterious reasons?

Indeed they do. According to its web site, the company offers a wide range of services, including "Check Your Mate" cheating spouses investigations, "fugitive recovery" for fugitives hiding in one of those pesky non-extradition countries and help if a loved one is kidnapped and held for ransom.

Or is it the other way around?

Our highly trained staff will discover information that fits your needs to get the answers you need. Some of our services include Kidknapping & Ransoms for ransom, INTL Air Marshalls, Security for convoys in Iraq, Pakistan + More!

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A new Monmouth poll in the New Jersey gubernatorial race finds the gap shrinking between Republican former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie and incumbent Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine. Independent Chris Daggett could be playing spoiler against Christie -- and Corzine's recent attacks are working, too.

The numbers: Christie 43%, Corzine 40%, Daggett 8%, with a ±4.3% margin of error. Three weeks ago, Christie had led by 47%-39%-5%. The numbers point to a potential flow directly from Christie to Daggett, as the attacks against Christie keep on coming. A Quinnipiac poll yesterday showed the same possible trend, as well.

The pollster's analysis also says that Corzine's attacks against Christie's advocacy of mandate-free insurance policies -- which the Corzine camp says would enable insurance companies to take away women's mammogram coverage -- is helping him tear down Christie among independent women: "While these voters had been giving their soft support to Christie based on discontent with the Corzine economic record, they appear to have beaten a hasty retreat when threats to their health care access were raised."

The American Police Force, that mysterious security company that just took over an empty jail in Hardin, Montana, is looking shadier than ever.

Since yesterday, details have been emerging about the background of the man behind APF -- a California-based grifter, who has said he's a naturalized U.S. citizen originally from Montenegro, and uses the name Michael Hilton.

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A new million-dollar Health Care for America Now ad buy contrasts the lavish lifestyle of UnitedHealth executive Stephen Hemsley with that of a family that suffered a medical bankruptcy.

The spot will air for two weeks on national MSNBC and on local broadcast and cable television in DC, Maine, Philadelphia, and Minneapolis. Maine Senator Olympia Snowe is a public option opponent, and the prime mover on the trigger alternative. UnitedHealth is based in Minneapolis.

Interestingly, Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar has also articulated support for Snowe's trigger compromise, but she hasn't ruled out supporting a more traditional public option.