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Earlier this week, Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) came under fire from liberal health reform advocates for restating her opposition to offering a national public insurance option as an immediate feature of comprehensive health care reform. In an interview with the Associated Press she explained her reasoning.

"If you establish a public option at the forefront that goes head-to-head and competes with the private health insurance market ... the public option will have significant price advantages."

As I noted previously, this is a sort of strange critique of the public option--what's so bad about an insurance program that's more affordable to consumers than most private plans?

To clear up the confusion, I asked a Snowe aide to further explain the senator's reasoning. He said that the two sections of the AP quote were meant to address separate aspects of Snowe's opposition to the plan.

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Sen.-elect Al Franken (D-MN) will be sworn into his new position on Tuesday, July 7, CNN reports.

Fun fact: This means Franken will be sworn in exactly six months plus one day after when he would have been sworn in along with all the other folks elected to the Senate in 2008, if not for the legal battle that kept his super-narrow election victory in limbo.

Jenny Sanford just released her first statement since her husband, South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, gave a long interview to the Associated Press in which he admitted to "crossing the line" several times and called his Argentine lover his "soul mate."

In it, she calls her husband's actions "inexcusable," saying he will be dealing with the consequences for a long time. But she is willing to forgive him.

"Forgiveness opens the door for Mark to begin to work privately, humbly and respectfully toward reconciliation with me. However, to achieve true reconciliation will take time, involve repentance, and will not be easy," she says.

She also says, "It is up to the people and elected officials of South Carolina to decide whether they will give Mark another chance as well."

The full statement:

The last week has been very painful for me, my family and for the people of South Carolina. However, throughout this terrible ordeal, the incredible outpouring of kindness, support, and prayer I've received from countless friends and folks I have never even met has been truly uplifting. I appreciate that more than I can say. Please know that my sons and I are doing fine, given the circumstances. We are surrounded by friends and family, and we will make it through this. I believe it is how we respond to the challenges we face in life, and what we learn from them, that is most telling about who we truly are.

There is no question that Mark's behavior is inexcusable. Actions have consequences and he will be dealing with those consequences for a long while. Trust has been broken and will need to be rebuilt. Mark will need to earn back that trust, first and foremost with his family, and also with the people of South Carolina. Quantcast

The real issue now is one of forgiveness. I am willing to forgive Mark for his actions. We have been deeply disappointed in and even angry at Mark. The Bible says, "In your anger do not sin." (Psalm 4:4) In this situation, this speaks to the essence of forgiveness and the critical need to channel one's energy into positive steps that uphold the dignity of marriage and the family, and lead to reconciliation over time. My forgiveness is essential for us both to move on with our lives, with peace, in whatever direction that may take us.

Desmond Tutu said "forgiveness is the grace by which you enable the other person to get up, and get up with dignity, to begin anew." Forgiveness opens the door for Mark to begin to work privately, humbly and respectfully toward reconciliation with me. However, to achieve true reconciliation will take time, involve repentance, and will not be easy.

Mark showed a lack of judgment in his recent actions as governor. However, his far more egregious offenses were committed against God, the institutions of marriage and family, our boys and me. Mark has stated that his intent and determination is to save our marriage, and to make amends to the people of South Carolina. I hope he can make good on those intentions, and for the sake of our boys I leave the door open to it. In that spirit of forgiveness, it is up to the people and elected officials of South Carolina to decide whether they will give Mark another chance as well.

In an interesting development in the 2010 New York special Senate race, where appointed Democratic Sen. Kristen Gillibrand is facing a primary challenge from Rep. Carolyn Maloney, Bill Clinton will now headline a fundraiser for Maloney, despite the extensive efforts by the Obama White House to clear the field for Gillibrand.

Interestingly, Bill previously did a fundraiser for Gillibrand herself, as he has done for many politicians who supported Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. Both Gillibrand and Maloney supported Hillary during the 2008 primaries.

When asked for comment, Gillibrand spokesman Matt Canter instead pointed us over to a statement by an unnamed aide to Bill, who told PolitickerNY that this was not a shot against the incumbent: "The former president believes that Senator Gillibrand is doing a good job as senator and this type of thank-you event, and any other he may do, should not be read as an endorsement or un-endorsement."

Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised at this point. But the latest example of the Obama administration mimicking the Bushies in opting for secrecy over openness feels like one of the most infuriating yet.

The Justice Department is declining to release Dick Cheney's interview with federal investigators looking into the Valerie Plame leak, arguing -- as it did under President Bush -- that doing so would discourage future high-level officials from cooperating with criminal investigations.

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The extensive press coverage, both local and national, that has surrounded this past Friday night's sheriff's raid on a fundraiser for Democratic House candidate Francine Busby (CA-50) seems to have had a real effect on the officials overseeing the case itself.

I just spoke with Christine Carlino, the long-time personal attorney for homeowner Shari Barman, who was arrested at the event, and she told me there could be some significance to the fact that the San Diego District Attorney's office is now personally involved in looking at the charges against Barman and a guest who was also arrested. (Note that Carlino is a civil attorney, not criminal, but she does still bring some local expertise.)

The key thing to understand here is that San Diego County is divided into several jurisdictional regions -- for example, Barman's home is in the North County region, as opposed to the city of San Diego itself, where the county's District Attorney is based.

Under routine circumstances, an arrest made in North County would stay with the North County prosecutor. But the county's D.A. in San Diego has taken over the case, which is out of the ordinary.

This doesn't really speak either way to whether charges will be dropped or dismissed. But what it could mean is that the D.A. might be aware of just how controversial this has become, and how important it is going forward to get this right.

Pressure from outside interest groups isn't just a liberal phenomenon, of course. The conservative group Americans for Prosperity has begun running ads targeting both conservative and vulnerable Democrats, warning of a government take over of the health care sector. Here's the version running in Montana, aimed at Sen. Max Baucus.



The ad is also running in 11 other states, bringing pressure to bear on Sens. Mark Warner (D-VA), Ben Nelson (D-NE), Evan Bayh (D-IN), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Tim Johnson (D-SD), Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), Kent Conrad (D-ND), Harry Reid (D-NV), Mark Begich (D-AK), Michael Bennet (D-CO), and Claire McCaskill (D-MO), It will air on both network and cable channels.

President Obama will be headed to New Jersey later this month, in order to campaign for Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine in his tough re-election fight this year.

The event will be held at the main campus of Rutgers University, on July 16.

Polls have consistently shown that Obama is very popular in this blue state -- but Corzine is not, with low approval numbers and higher disapproval ratings. Corzine is currently trailing his Republican opponent, former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie, and an appearance alongside the popular Obama could help boost his numbers and remind voters of the importance of voting for the Democratic brand.

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) drew the ire of liberals and health care reform advocates this week by airing his objections to a public option. In an interview with the New Haven Independent, Lieberman said he's working with an informal group of Senate centrists he meets with regularly to move health care reform efforts without a public option.

As frustrating as that is for reform advocates, though, they're generally more concerned with public option foes and skeptics who serve on the committees with jurisdiction over health care legislation. On that score, progressive groups have launched ads against players such as Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA)--who sits on the Senate Finance Committee--and Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC)--who sits on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, Committee--for trying to block the provision (Hagan seems to have dropped much of her opposition). Lieberman isn't as poised as they are to weaken or kill the public option. At least for now.

As such, for the time being, reform advocates seem to be holding their fire. But that doesn't mean Lieberman won't ultimately become one of their targets.

President Obama will not rule out detaining terror suspects indefinitely, although he says it "gives me huge pause."

Obama, while saying he isn't comfortable using executive orders to detain prisoners, wouldn't rule it out during an interview with The Associated Press.

But he also said there are some detainees who don't fall neatly into existing categories for criminal prosecution in the United States or under international law. He said dealing with them is going to be one of the biggest challenges of his administration.

TPMLivewire