TPM News

After a photo session leaked out last week of RNC Chairman Michael Steele posing with his interns, we've all been struck with a tinge of envy. You may not agree with his politics, but you have to admit that Steele comes off as a fairly gregarious and generally likable guy. At least he has a sense of humor.

Well, envy no more. Now you can pose with Steele!

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The Republican National Committee is clamming up about a top official who said it's no big deal that the executive director of the Arizona GOP allegedly used the party's voter registration database to stalk a woman.

An Arizona woman has filed a criminal complaint against Brett Mecum, the executive director of the state Republican party, charging that he stalked her*. Mecum, the woman alleges, used the GOP's Voter Vault system to find her address, then showed up uninvited to a party at her home, in a way that she found threatening.

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In a fun bit of drama on the Senate floor today, Sen. Al Franken cut off Sen. Joe Lieberman during a speech, angering Lieberman's good friend Sen. John McCain.

Here's what happened; Lieberman was giving a ten-minute speech on health care reform. Franken, who was presiding over the Senate, cut him off when his ten minutes were up. When Lieberman requested unanimous consent for an extra few minutes to finish his speech, Franken, in his capacity as a senator from Minnesota, objected. And, in his capacity as presiding officer, Franken honored the objection.

After a brief moment of tension, Lieberman laughed and said he didn't take it personally, and requested that the rest of his speech be put in the record.

Then McCain took the floor to defend his friend, saying he'd never seen anything like it.


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The new Zogby poll of the Florida Republican Senate primary gives moderate Gov. Charlie Crist the lead over his more conservative challenger, former state House Speaker Marco Rubio -- but Rubio isn't all that far behind, and Crist is below 50% support.

The numbers: Crist 45%, Rubio 36%, with a ±5.7% margin of error.

The poll was commissioned by the Associated Industries of Florida. The group's present Barney Bishop said in a statement: "These numbers support what AIF has believed for some time: this is going to be a very competitive Republican primary."

This comes after a Rasmussen poll, which had the two tied at 43% each.

In Part CCXXIV of our ongoing series, Orly Taitz's epic Birther lawsuit has now shifted to an appeal of a federal judge's decision to fine Taitz $20,000 for frivolous filings.

In a surprise move, it appears that Taitz has allowed another, considerably more cool-headed attorney -- Jonathan Levy of South Carolina -- to draft the opening brief filed this week in the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. Levy's name appears on the brief alongside Taitz's and he sent the brief to the court.

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Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) refused to disclose any details of his abortion compromise plans to reporters a few minutes ago. The anti-abortion Democrat said that he was worried that anything more than cryptic answers to questions about how he plans to bridge the abortion divide in the Senate health care reform debate could derail the process by stirring up controversy.

"I'm not going into the nitty gritty," Casey said. He added that some of the current reporting on his plans has been "off," and that he feared that if he gave any insights into his thinking, groups on both sides of the abortion issue could begin attacking his plans before they're finalized.

As for Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE), the man whose pro-reform bill vote may hinge on the abortion amendment Casey offers, Casey said the pair are in continued direct talks about making a compromise amenable to Nelson and the pro-choice Democratic majority.

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In his latest syndicated column, Chuck Norris wonders if the Obama health care plan would have resulted in some dire consequences if it had been around in times past: Namely the abortion of Jesus Christ Himself, under the regime of "Herodcare."

Norris writes:

Lastly, as we near the eve of another Christmas, I wonder: What would have happened if Mother Mary had been covered by Obamacare? What if that young, poor and uninsured teenage woman had been provided the federal funds (via Obamacare) and facilities (via Planned Parenthood, etc.) to avoid the ridicule, ostracizing, persecution and possible stoning because of her out-of-wedlock pregnancy? Imagine all the great souls who could have been erased from history and the influence of mankind if their parents had been as progressive as Washington's wise men and women! Will Obamacare morph into Herodcare for the unborn?

But wait a minute. Wouldn't those same progressives have been opposed to stoning or otherwise mistreating the teenage unwed mother, and offered her generous social services instead?

Former President Bill Clinton, who is all-too-familiar with what happens when Congress doesn't pass health care reform, issues a rare statement on the ongoing negotiations on Capitol Hill.

Clinton, who had a similar message for the Senate Democrats recently in a party lunch, says he knows the cost of inaction and calls it a good bill.

The statement:

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The president of AFL-CIO, Richard Trumka, said in a press release today that the Senate bill is "inadequate" and promised to fight for something closer to the House bill, which he said is "the model for genuine health care reform." Here is the full text of the release:

The labor movement has been fighting for health care for nearly 100 years and we are not about to stop fighting now, when it really matters.

But for this health care bill to be worthy of the support of working men and women, substantial changes must be made. The AFL-CIO intends to fight on behalf of all working families to make those changes and win health care reform that is deserving of the name.

The absolute refusal of Republicans in the Senate to support health care reform and the hijacking of the bill by defenders of the insurance industry have brought us a Senate bill that is inadequate: It is too kind to the insurance industry.

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SEIU President Andy Stern, whose union, along with other major labor organizations, is agonizing over the current state of the health care fight, told reporters today that the Senate should pass a controversial reform bill that has riven the left. In so doing, he defended President Obama from his critics, and offered a scathing critique of the United States Senate, which he says is not up to the task of governance anymore.

"We appreciate that President Obama for a year has been unflinching in his desire to get the job done when it would've been easy to take a detour," Stern said. "We believe the Senate has done all its going to do...and now it's time for a couple of obstructionists to get out of the way."

Stern went on, "it is time for the Senate to send this bill on to conference where the real work needs to be done."

Still, Stern said he opposes the Senate bill in its current form--a bold stance for a consummate insider like Stern, who has often shied away from critiquing the Democrats' agenda.

"We don't like the bill," Stern said. "It has to be improved."

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