TPM News

Obama YouTube: Health Care Must Be Fixed In his weekly Presidential YouTube Address, President Obama discussed his proposals for health care -- and the urgency to get a new reform bill passed:

"Simply put, the status quo is broken. We cannot continue this way," said Obama. "If we do nothing, everyone's health care will be put in jeopardy. Within a decade, we'll spend one dollar out of every five we earn on health care - and we'll keep getting less for our money. That's why fixing what's wrong with our health care system is no longer a luxury we hope to achieve - it's a necessity we cannot postpone any longer."

Sessions Decries "Empathy Standard" For Judges In this weekend's Republican YouTube, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), the lead Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, discussed the pending nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court -- and warned against an "empathy standard" in law:

"I hope that the American people will engage in this nomination process and follow it closely. They should learn about the issues, and listen to both sides of the argument. And, at the end of the day, ask: 'If I must one day go to court, what kind of judge do I want to hear my case?" said Sessions. "'Do I want a judge that allows his or her social, political, or religious views to impact the outcome? Or, do I want a judge that objectively applies the law to the facts, and fairly rules on the merits?' That is the central question around which this entire nomination process will revolve."

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Over the last week, MSNBC has led the cable-news charge in covering the George Tiller murder -- and the questions it's raised about how implicated the wider anti-abortion movement is in the violence. Rachel Maddow, Keith Olbermann, and Chris Matthews have all covered the story -- Maddow with particular distinction. But until today, one MSNBC show has been conspicuous for its reluctance to touch this major story. That would be Morning Joe, hosted by Joe Scarborough.

This morning, Scarborough publicly addressed the story, for what appears to be the first time. But what he talked about was his own past ties to an anti-abortion killer. And his comments -- which seemed designed largely to minimize those ties -- appear to conflict with other reported facts about the incident.

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TPMDC's update on the biggest legislative initiatives on the Hill:

  • Health Care: House progressives responded to their Blue Dog counterparts today, sending a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (pasted below the fold) stating their strong opposition to measures that will weaken health reform efforts, including a "trigger" that would delay, or possibly eliminate, the public health insurance option.

  • War Spending: House Republicans oppose the supplemental war spending bill because, as written, it will increase the spending capacity of the International Monetary Fund. Some liberal Democrats oppose it, too, because it also contains a provision that would allow the Obama administration to suppress any "photograph taken between September 11, 2001 and January 22, 2009 relating to the treatment of individuals engaged, captured, or detained after September 11, 2001, by the Armed Forces of the United States in operations outside of the United States." Taken together, that means the bill might not pass--which leaves Democratic leaders in a bit of a pickle. Either they somehow nix the IMF funding provision, or they nix the FOIA photograph exception, or they nudge their progressive members into voting for it anyhow. Looks like they've picked the latter option.

Late update: Jeffrey Young of The Hill has obtained what appears to be a draft (or a draft of a draft) the HELP committee's as yet unreleased health reform legislation (PDF). If only it were written in parseable English.

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After visiting Egypt and Saudi Arabia, President Obama traveled to Germany where he visited the former Nazi concentration camp at Buchenwald. Here, he lays a white rose at the memorial as German Chancellor Angela Merkel and camp survivors Bertrand Herz and Nobel Peace prize laureate Elie Wiesel stand behind him.







President Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel walk together past the Dresden Castle.



Obama and Angela Merkel sign the Golden Book in Dresden.


Obama and Merkel tour Dresden's landmark, the Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady) with Saxony State Premier Stanislaw Tillich at Dresden Castle.


Security forces stand guard on a nearby rooftop as Obama and Merkel tour the Church of Our Lady (Frauenkirche) in Dresden.


A woman watches the public viewing of President Obama's speech in Dresden.


Newscom/Sipa Press


Obama eats a candy bar after his arrival at the airport in Dresden.

Newscom/Sipa Press

Bay Buchanan has once again responded to critics of her karate chopping employee Marcus Epstein. This time, though, she's taken it to the website of the conservative magazine Human Events.

In the piece she acknowledges both that she knew all along about Epstein's crime and that she nonetheless kept him on staff at both of the anti-immigrant organizations which she chairs--facts which she more or less conceded when I interviewed her earlier this week.

She also writes this: "What happened next was a modern day lynching by a faceless, angry, ignorant mob who reveled in the collective assault on their victim."

She's not talking about a mob of masked white karate choppers, but rather of the bloggers and reporter who picked up on the story. Not exactly the metaphor I would have chosen given the facts of the case, but ok.

"They had wounded an adversary and drawn blood -- without pausing to ask how so talented a young man could have found himself in such a mess."

The article--titled "The Internet Lynching of Marcus Epstein"--also touches on some of Epstein's more personal issues. You can read the entire piece here.

A new Gallup poll finds an overwhelming majority of Americans, 69%, in favor of allowing gays to serve openly in the military -- it's so big in fact, that even self-identified conservatives are for it.

The polling internals show 58% of conservatives in favor, plus 86% of liberals and 77% of moderates, for the overall top-line of 69%.

Back in 2004, 63% of Americans were in favor, with 83% of liberals, 72% of moderates, and 46% of conservatives.

This does invite an important question: Is a center-right country like the United States ready to have gays serving in the military?

The New York Times has published a lengthy "Editors' Note" rolling back key claims in its front-page story on Guantanamo "recidivism" last month, and the paper's Washington bureau chief concedes it wouldn't have been a Page 1 story if the paper realized the errors in the story when it ran.

"It's something that we thought we needed to explain to readers to amplify the story and to correct something we got wrong," Dean Baquet, NYT Washington bureau chief, told TPMmuckraker.

Baquet added that, given the factual errors, "I'm not sure it would have led the paper" but still believes that the piece was "a legitimate news story."

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The Justice Department has announced an investigation into whether federal crimes were committed in connection with the murder of Dr. George Tiller.

In a press release, DOJ writes that it will probe whether there were violations of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act or other federal statutes in the case.

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Here are the line-ups for the Sunday talk shows this weekend:

• ABC, This Week: Sec. of State Hillary Clinton.

• CBS, Face The Nation: David Axelrod, Senior White House Adviser; Former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA).

• CNN, State Of The Union: David Axelrod, Senior White House Adviser.

• Fox News Sunday: Austan Goolsbee, member of the White House Council of Economic Advisers; Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL); Google CEO Eric Schmidt; and Fred Malek, chairman of Thayer Lodging Group and Thayer Capital Partners.

• Meet The Press will not air this weekend, due to NBC's coverage of the French Open.

Liz Cheney's basic line about President Obama's historic speech yesterday is that she's "troubled" that Obama thinks he can stop terrorism with "hand-holding."

Pretty harsh, right? Well, she's got nothing, though, on Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK). He called the speech, "un-American," adding, "I just don't know whose side he's on."

Curious which 'sides' Inhofe might have had in mind, I asked his communications director, Jared Young, to complete the picture a bit. According to Young, Inhofe was saying he's "kind of confused about why the President's going on foreign soil and in some cases echoing talking points from al Qaeda about Guantanamo Bay."

So is he saying he think's the President's on the side of terrorists?

"No, no, he's not saying that, no. He just certainly doesn't seem to be on the side of our men and women in uniform."

Well, I guess that clears that up.