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Three of the four young men charged in the alleged phone tampering attempt at Sen. Mary Landrieu's New Orleans office Monday were involved in the well-funded, opportunity-rich world of conservative campus journalism in recent years, a link that provides potential clues about how the men knew each other and why they came to hatch the alleged plot.

James O'Keefe, Joseph Basel, and Stan Dai each founded or led the alternative conservative newspapers on their respective college campuses.

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Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) released the following statement today regarding the arrest of four men charged in the botched attempt to bug her office. Here's the full text:

"This is a very unusual situation and somewhat unsettling for me and my staff.  The individuals responsible have been charged with entering federal property under false pretenses for the purposes of committing a felony.  I am as interested as everyone else about their motives and purpose, which I hope will become clear as the investigation moves forward."

Richard Behney, an Indiana Tea Party activist and candidate for the Republican nomination for Senate against Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh, made a striking pronouncement at a meeting late last year of the "Evansville 2nd Amendment Patriots": That if new people don't get elected to Congress in 2010, he'll be getting out his guns to face down the American government.

"That's the beauty of this, folks. We can do it before it gets to guns," said Behney, in praise of the electoral process. "All right, our founders brought out the guns. When they showed up at Lexington and Concord, regular folks, farm boys, doctors, merchant men, and they said you ain't taking our stuff. They stood up to the most powerful army in the world, and they bought our freedom, literally with their blood. And we don't have to do that yet.

"I believe personally, we're at a crossroads. We have one last opportunity. And I believe 2010 is it. All right? And we can do it with our vote. And we can get new faces in, whether it's my face or not, I pray to God that I see new faces. And if we don't see new faces, I'm cleaning my guns and getting ready for the big show. And I'm serious about that, and I bet you are, too. But I know none of us want to go that far yet, and we can do it with our vote."

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There's a lot we still don't know about the four men implicated in the alleged attempt to tamper with Sen. Mary Landrieu's phones yesterday, but a little-known organization called the Pelican Institute appears to be key to the story.

Located at 400 Poydras St. in downtown New Orleans -- half a block from Landrieu's office at 500 Poydras St. -- Pelican describes itself as a state policy think tank dedicated to advancing "sound policies based on the principles of free enterprise, individual liberty, and limited government."

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Former Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R-AZ), who is challenging Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) in the Republican primary this year, appeared on Hardball this evening, and stood by his previous statements in favor of the birther movement.

Matthews asked Hayworth: "Are you as far right as the birthers?" Are you one of those who believes that the president should have to prove that he's a citizen of the United States, and not an illegal immigrant? Are you that far right?"

"Well, gosh, we all had to bring our birth certificate's to show we were who we said we were, and we were the age we said we were, to play football in youth sports," Hayworth responded matter of factly. "Shouldn't we know exactly that anyone who wants to run for public office is a natural born citizen of the United States, and is who they say they are?"

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Sens. Chris Dodd (D-CT) and Joe Lieberman (I-CT) said today that President Obama should once more invite Republicans into health care discussions, Politico reports.

Dodd said Obama should invite "the leadership of Congress -- Democrat and Republican -- to come back into that room and try to craft something here that we can agree on."

He added that if the Republicans don't play ball, at least Obama will be able to say he tried again to find a bipartisan compromise.

"I will agree it is a hard climb but I think the invitation needs to be extended. If it is and if our Republican friends are as serious as they say they are and don't demand a white sheet of paper and begin a totally new process, I think you've got a chance to write a health care bill," Dodd said.

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Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) isn't mincing words about the White House's push to freeze domestic discretionary spending. The Ohio progressive took direct aim today at the idea and its supporters, who he suggested are largely the reason the country faces such major fiscal imbalances in the first place.

"I don't think much of it," Brown told reporters.

Start with this: The people who have been most outspoken about debt are the people most responsible for it.... The people, as I said, who have been most outspoken against the budget deficit have been those that voted for the Iraq war, and charged it to our kids, those who voted for the giveaway to the drug and insurance industry in 2003 and charged it to our kids, and those who voted who tax cuts for the rich and charged it to our kids, and those who ignored infrastructure needs in this country for a decade and charged that to our kids. And they come and they're screaming the loudest about the balanced budget. And that disturbs me.


His statements reflect the mood of many progressives, who have reacted poorly to yesterday's news.

The clear consensus among leading Democrats is that the only true way forward on health care is for the House to pass the Senate's bill with a separate, guaranteed bill, or bills, making major changes to key aspects of it. And with Democrats down to 59 votes in the Senate, those changes would have to be passed via the budget reconciliation process, which circumvents the filibuster.

Progressives support the idea, but key questions remain--including whether the Senate can, or will take the necessary steps to make that happen.

Already, a number of conservative Democrats have come forward to say they oppose the proposed solutions outright. Others, including Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) and Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) have said they prefer different approaches. And for the plan to hold, Democrats could lose no more than 9 members.

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James O'Keefe, the young conservative filmmaker who was behind the undercover operations that led to the ACORN scandal last year, was arrested with three others for allegedly trying to tamper with the phones at the New Orleans office of Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) yesterday.

The FBI announced today the foursome have been charged with entering federal property under false pretenses for the purpose of committing a felony.

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After nearly four years, the Justice Department has ended its investigation of Rep. Alan Mollohan' (D-WV) without filing criminal charges, Mollohan's office announced today.

The investigation was thought to center on problems with Mollohan's financial disclosures, and non-profits he helped create which also benefited from his prodigious earmarking.

The AP reports:

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