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Via Greg Sargent comes an internal memo--written by disgraced hospital CEO Rick Scott and sent to employees of his group Conservatives for Patients Righs--which brings to light part of the right's game plan for the rest of August recess.

"All CPR communications will continue to focus on the President's public option plan," the memo reads, "and the quagmire in Congress that has resulted from the White House's colossal misjudgment of public opinion plays directly into our hands."

We will continue to carry this message forward into next week with our Martha's Vineyard ad strategy--even on vacation, the President will get no quarter on the public option from Conservatives for Patients' Rights.


See the entire memo here. Whatever the administration's position on the public option--and that remains unclear--one of the largest reform opponents in the country is sticking with an anti-public option (or, more likely, anti-government health care) message. And they'll likely have some strong institutional support. Earlier this week the Republican National Committee issued a memo noting that, even if private co-operatives win out over the public option, the GOP keep hammering away with the message that the Democrats plan a government takeover of the health care system.

Mike Ensign, casino magnate and the father of Sen. John Ensign (R-NV), has reportedly dropped a casino proposal in Kansas.

The Associated Press reports that the group Ensign was working with, South Central Gaming Partners, decided to drop their proposal and instead back one by Foxwoods. The two firms had originally submitted competing proposals; now, Foxwoods' will go forward, along with that of a third developer.

An attorney for the Kansas Lottery, which is reviewing the proposals, said it was a business decision and that the lottery was not involved.

Mike Ensign and his wife were recently caught up in their son's scandal, admitting that they paid $96,000 to Sen. Ensign's mistress and her husband, both of whom worked for the senator. Mike Ensign earned around $300 million in the early 2000s when he sold his shares of the Mandalay Bay Group, which owned Mandalay Bay Casino in Las Vegas.

A few weeks ago, lottery officials said there'd be an ethics investigation into Mike Ensign before his proposal could be approved.

But now, an official says it wasn't a concern for the Lottery.

"That's not an issue to us at all. There hasn't been any allegation of wrongdoing at all," said executive director Ed Van Petten.

First it was Rahm, then it was Gibbs, now it's Obama himself.



The implication--that President Obama believes the Republican party isn't serious about bipartisan health care reform--is significant for obvious reasons. When Congress returns to session at the end of August recess, four of five House and Senate committees will have passed party line health care bills. One--the Senate Finance Committee--will still be mired in rocky bipartisan health care negotiations over legislation that, according to Republican party leaders, won't win over many Republicans at all.

That implies rather strongly that Democratic party leaders are preparing to abandon bipartisanship and pass health care reform either along party lines, or through the budget reconciliation process, or some combination of the two. Which means Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus better prepare to change course or pull off some kind of miracle or else be rolled.

In a Wednesday New York Times report, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel is quoted as saying the GOP "has made a strategic decision that defeating President Obama's health care proposal is more important for their political goals than solving the health insurance problems that Americans face every day." And earlier today, Gibbs said "only a handful" of Republicans are interested in anything resembling true health care reform

Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD) says he's been called a Nazi for supporting health care reform, and said he won't be holding town hall meeting because protesters aren't interested in answers.

Johnson declined an invitation from a local newspaper publisher to participate in a town hall with Sen. John Thune (R-SD) and Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-SD), citing the Nazi comment.

Earlier this summer, Johnson was dogged by protesters who support Lyndon LaRouche. LaRouche supporters have turned out at forums nationwide, passing out signs and literature comparing President Obama to Hitler.

Nazi rhetoric has been high throughout the debate over health care reform. Last week, a woman screamed "Heil Hitler" at an Israeli man. Last night, a woman called reform a "Nazi plan" at an event with Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), who promptly shut her down for spewing "vile, contemptible nonsense."

Protesters, supporters and even Congresspeople have accused each other of Nazism.

The latest national survey from Public Policy Polling (D) -- in addition to its intriguing finding that Republicans think the government should stay out of Medicare -- also supplies a complex study of the Birther issue.

The poll found that only 62% of voters said President Obama was born in the United States, 25% saying he was not and 14% not sure. Among Republicans, a 44% plurality say he was not born in the U.S., to 36% who say he was, and the remaining 20% not sure.

But if we've established a belief that Obama was not born here, exactly where did the blessed event occur? Respondents were asked in order whether Obama was in Indonesia, whether he was born in Kenya, or the Philippines, or France. Among the 38% who did not say Obama was born here, 10% said Indonesia, 7% said Kenya, 1% said the Philippines, and zero percent said France.

It seems odd that more Birthers would say Obama was born in Indonesia, given that everyone knows Kenya is the right answer. Perhaps this was simply caused by Indonesia being the first foreign country on the list.

Let's delve a little bit deeper into the black helicopter-infested world of the Viper Militia -- the 90's era group whose members ended up in federal prison and whose most prominent friend and defender, Ernest Hancock, staged the show of arms-bearing at an Obama event Monday.

A portrait of a feckless group of paranoid, right-wing, minimum wage-earning weapons enthusiasts -- 10 men and two women -- emerges from press accounts at the time.

Take Dean Pleasant, the Viper member whom Hancock called his good friend in an interview with TPMmuckraker yesterday. Pleasant couldn't hold onto jobs at Kathy's Donut Farm (too "lackadaisical," even though he always brought his Glock to work) or a part-time gig at military supply store Allied Surplus (where he was caught stealing "inexpensive items").

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After meeting with two North Korean diplomats, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson told MSNBC that he sees "a possible thaw" in relations between the U.S. and North Korea.

Richardson is meeting with the diplomats, who are high level envoys to the United Nations, all day today and tomorrow. He and the Obama administration have emphasized that he's not meeting with them on behalf of the White House.

Their talks, held in Santa Fe, will reportedly include discussion of renewable energy initiatives.

Richardson said today he believed former President Bill Clinton's recent visit to North Korea has improved relations between the countries.

Richardson is a former ambassador to the U.N. and has traveled to North Korea several times.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs continued to push back against this morning's stories that the administration has given up on getting bipartisanship, even while saying President Obama agrees with the statement that set off those stories.

"Many (Republicans) want to see health care reform," Gibbs said. He also said the three Republicans working on negotiations in the Senate Finance Committee -- Sens. Chuck Grassley (IA), Olympia Snowe (ME) and Mike Enzi (WY) -- "are working in good faith," Gibbs said. "I have no reason to believe they're not."

But Gibbs suggested President Obama agrees with the statement that set off speculation about the death of bipartisanship. Chief of staff Rahm Emanuel said, "The Republican leadership has made a strategic decision that defeating President Obama's health care proposal is more important for their political goals than solving the health insurance problems that Americans face every day."

Gibbs was asked whether Obama agrees.

"Let's just say I haven't seen anything that would persuade me otherwise," he said.

Gibbs also said that reports of fighting within the Democratic party over the reform bill is mostly "contrived" by the media.

On his show today, Rush Limbaugh cheered on the woman who showed up at Rep. Barney Frank's (D-MA) town hall with a sign depicting President Obama as Hitler:



"I think it's fabulous and fantastic, and hilarious," said Limbaugh, "that a woman shows up at a Barney Frank town hall meeting with an Obama-as-Hitler poster and this Nazi stuff, in his district. I mean, this is unreal."

"But the killer for me was, here's Barney Frank saying, 'What planet do you live on?' to this woman. Isn't it an established fact that Barney Frank himself spends of his time living around Uranus?"

After saying that Democratic health care reform could allow the government to "pull the plug on grandma," calling the public option a "predator," and saying he'd vote against his own compromise legislation if it didn't have overwhelming GOP support, Senate Finance Committee ranking member Chuck Grassley (R-IA) says its time for Democrats and Republicans to work together on health care reform.

"I've said all year that something as big and important as health care legislation should have broad-based support," Grassley told The Hill. "So far, no one has developed that kind of support, either in Congress or at the White House. That doesn't mean we should quit. It means we should keep working until we can put something together that gets that widespread support."

Grassley's entreaty may come a bit too late. Senior White House officials, including Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and Press Secretary Robert Gibbs publicly admitted today that most Republicans aren't interested in health care reform. Taking Grassley at his word, that suggests there's no reason for him to continue participating in negotiations. And taking the administration at its word, it may just be the case that bipartisan health care talks are dead.

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