TPM News

It's official! (No, really! It is!)

Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA) will make a bid for the Senate, challenging Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) in the 2010 Pennsylvania primary. Obviously, he's been working up to this morning's announcement for months, but it comes just weeks after his political campaign announced an impressive fundraising haul in the second quarter, allowing them to present what they believe will be a viable challenge to Specter, who will enjoy name recognition, and the backing of the Democratic party, but who became a Democrat just a few months ago after spending most of his career in the GOP.

Last week, after admitting that his failing health care negotiations won't produce reform legislation in the Senate Finance Committee before August recess, Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) erected a new deadline--September 15--and now, he says, he'll produce a bill with or without Republicans.

That bill may have to be written "without Republicans."

"I have not and will not agree to an artificial deadline because I am committed to getting healthcare reform right, not finishing a bill by some arbitrary date," said Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY) in a statement today. Enzi's one of six key Finance Committee negotiators hashing out a consensus bill. He's also a deeply conservative Republican, under pressure from leaders in his party to slow down or kill discussions--and he appears to be doing a bang-up job.

These teabaggers disrupting congressional town halls is just a spontaneous groundswell of populist opposition to health care reform, right? Riiiight.

On Friday, July 24, a representative of Conservatives for Patients Rights--the anti-health care reform group run by disgraced hospital executive Rick Scott, in conjunction with the message men behind the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth--sent an email to a list serve (called the Tea Party Patriots Health Care Reform Committee) containing a spreadsheet that lists over one hundred congressional town halls from late July into September.

The email from CPR to tea baggers suggests that, though conservatives portray the tea bagger disruptions as symptoms of a populist rebellion roiling unprompted through key districts around the country, they have to a great extent been orchestrated by anti-health care reform groups financed by industry. (CPR did not immediately respond to a request for comment.)

That email predates by about a week a recent flurry of events at which Democratic members of Congress have been accosted and harassed by anti-health care reform tea party protesters. But beyond putting those spectacles, now receiving wide play on cable news, into a fresh light, it also provides a window into the tea party protesters' organizing infrastructure, which, like so much political organizing today, occurs in private email list serves.

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Gov. Jon Corzine (D-NJ) has this new TV ad, featuring a rousing endorsement from President Obama at a rally from a couple weeks ago:

Corzine has been trailing his Republican opponent, former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie, in all the polls. But Corzine is clearly aiming to tap into this state's fundamentally Democratic leanings, and to leverage Obama's popularity towards getting his positive pitch across.

Press Secretary Robert Gibbs released the following statement this afternoon, announcing the upcoming visit of Egyptian President Mubarak to the White House:

President Obama will welcome President Mubarak of Egypt to the White House on August 18th. The President looks forward to building on his discussions with President Mubarak during his visit to Cairo on June 4th. The two leaders will discuss the full range of issues of common concern - including Middle East peace, combating extremism and other regional threats, and promoting reform across the Arab world - as well as how to strengthen the bilateral relationship.

See photos of Obama's trip to Egypt here.

Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) said his health care town hall this weekend was a "mob scene" filled with people from outside the neighborhood who were brought in by the Republican and Libertarian parties.

Their purpose was not "just to get their own voice heard, but to ensure other people weren't heard," he told Chris Matthews on Hardball. "I think these folks are really desperate to stop health reform."

After an hour answering the "toxic questions" of protesters, Doggett left the Randalls grocery store where the town hall was held. Protesters, chanting "Just say no!" followed him to the parking lot in a swarm.

"A mob scene is just one way of trying to intimidate members to weaken their position," he said. "It just strengthened my resolve."

Doggett also compared the protesters to birthers and secessionists.

"It's the same fanaticism I saw on Saturday," he said. He claimed most of the protesters weren't from the neighborhood, but were brought in by the Republican and Libertarian parties.

The protest was one of several at town halls across the country this weekend and over the past few weeks.

One protester carried a sign with a picture of a marble tombstone engraved with Doggett's name, he said.

Here's a video, via

Orly Taitz, the unofficial leader of the Birther movement, appeared today on MSNBC, for a rather...interesting interview with David Shuster, who took particular offense at Taitz's reference to "Obama's brownshirts in the media," noting that invoking the Nazis is especially offensive to people who lost relatives in the Holocaust:

Wow. Just, wow.

It's pretty questionable for anyone who works for a lobbying or public relations firm to also host a news show on which issues of interest to those clients' are likely to be discussed -- as we told you MSNBC's Richard Wolffe does.

But to get a sense of just how compromised Wolffe really is on this, it's worth taking a look at the clients of the P.R. firm he works for -- Texas-based Public Strategies Inc.

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Last week, we told you about Bonner and Associates, the D.C. lobby firm that was caught sending forged letters -- purporting to come from local Hispanic and black groups -- to a U.S. congressman, urging him to vote against the recent climate change bill.

Rep. Ed Markey, who was one of the lead sponsors of that bill and is probing the issue of the forgeries, has sent a letter to the firm's founder, Jack Bonner, which asks for responses to fourteen detailed questions about the incident.

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The progressive groups whose ad against Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) caused him to lash out last week have tripled their ad buy against him, reports Greg Sargent.

As we reported Friday, Nelson responded to the ad by releasing a statement that said, in part, "If this is an indication of the politics going into August, then health care reform may be dead by the end of August."

In other words, shut up or we'll kill health care reform.

Here's part of the email sent out today by the groups, Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Democracy For America:

Well, we're not playing that game, Senator. That's not how a democracy works. And bold progressives don't cave to intimidation from corporate Democrats.

So today, with our partners at Democracy for America, we're tripling our ad buy in Nebraska and doubling it in DC.