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The fallout from David McKalip's racist email showing President Obama as a witch doctor continues.

A Florida newspaper reports that the prominent St. Petersburg neurosurgeon has said he'll step down from the influential post of delegate to the American Medical Association, saying "I think people will wonder if they can trust me."

The AMA position gave McKalip a role in shaping the national platform of the doctor's lobby. The AMA yesterday had issued a statement distancing itself from the email.

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It's often been observed that the essence of politics in the Bush-Cheney-Rove era was to attack your opponent over your own weaknesses, and to campaign on the opponent's own strengths -- for example, the 2004 Republican campaign attacked Vietnam War veteran John Kerry as a military coward, while campaigning on the bravery of an incumbent who got out of combat duty.

In that spirit, take a look at this new Web video from Sen. David Vitter (R-LA), attacking his potential opponent Charlie Melancon, a Blue Dog Democratic Congressman, for raising money in Massachusetts. It's entitled "Liberal LuvFest":

And speaking of love-fests and people doling out cash...David Vitter was identified in 2007 as having slept with prostitutes, and admitted to an unspecified "serious sin."

(Via The Note.)

Here's the latest--though not to say final--word on the status of health care negotiations in the House. If you were wondering why the Energy and Commerce Committee would go live with a district-by-district analysis of the impact health care reform will have on its members, that's because it now looks like Waxman will not be fast-tracking the legislation by bypassing the panel altogether.

After several hours of chaos, it seems as if there's been something of a rapprochement between leaders and Blue Dogs and the mark-up process will continue next week. But as today's developments should make abundantly clear, with tensions this high anything can change.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee has just released a district by district analysis for its members of the impacts of Democratic health care reform legislation. Here's what it says about the constituents of Mike Ross, the Blue Dog on the panel who's taken the lead in attacking the legislation.

Under the legislation, small businesses with 25 employees or less and average wages of less than $40,000 qualify for tax credits of up to 50% of the costs of providing health insurance. There are up to 12,500 small businesses in the district that could qualify for these credits....

Each year, 6,700 seniors in the district hit the donut hole and are forced to pay their full drug costs, despite having Part D drug coverage. The legislation would provide them with immediate relief, cutting brand name drug costs in the donut hole by 50%, and ultimately eliminate the donut hole.

There are 144,000 uninsured individuals in the district, 22% of the district. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that nationwide, 97% of all Americans will have insurance coverage when the bill takes effect. If this benchmark is reached in the district, 124,000 people who currently do not have health insurance will receive coverage.

You can read the report on Ross' district here, and the rest of the reports here.

Let's take a moment to examine a now-notorious arrest that occurred at a private home, and made headlines around the country -- no, not Henry Louis Gates, but the fundraiser for Democratic House candidate Francine Busby (CA-50), which was raided by the San Diego County Sheriff's Department several weeks ago.

You may recall that attendees at this house party said a heckler shouted anti-gay slurs over a fence, and about an hour later a deputy paid a less than friendly visit to the event, saying that a noise complaint had been made about a Democratic rally. One thing led to another, and a bunch of middle-aged Dems got pepper-sprayed, and a full back-up of officers came -- including dogs and a helicopter.

I checked in with Busby today for the latest news, and she walked me through how the county district attorney's office had taken over the investigation. "They've been very diligent about contacting all of the guests who attended, not just those who were there later," Busby told me. "And the feeling I'm getting back from people is that they're handling it very professionally, and people have been very comfortable with the procedures."

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Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said today that he's still pushing to question Bush administration officials about the U.S. attorney firings.

"All the breadcrumbs, as we call them, go right to the White House," Conyers said in a speech to the National Press Club this afternoon.

"We have to keep the process working," he said.

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As if there weren't already too many factions of the Democratic party working at cross-purposes on health care, eight members of the House progressives are now saying, on behalf of the entire Congressional Progressive Caucus, that they won't tolerate any more weakening of the public option.

"We cannot tolerate further weakening of the public option," the letter reads.

We are also concerned about the latest discussion regarding the Independent Medicare Advisory Commission. We understand that no final decision has been made. However if discussions move forward to make IMAC a reality, we ask that you include us in discussion.

You can read the entire letter here. Some of the signatories are on record saying they won't vote for a bill unless it creates a public option--but now they're saying they won't vote for it if the one on the books right now is weakened any further.

About as soon as the letter was released, though, the status of the House health care bill became all-but unknowable, and it's not really clear how germane these concerns will be once the smoke has cleared. Still, it's a rare show of muscle from a group whose vote is often taken for granted, and that's sure to lift the spirits of beleaguered reformers after a hectic and disappointing week.

During his surprise press appearance, President Obama said he had spoken to Sgt. James Crowley on the phone. The White House just released a statement saying the president called Henry Louis Gates Jr., the Harvard professor whom Crowley arrested, just after the presser.

"The President called and connected with Professor Gates at 3:15 this afternoon. They had a positive discussion during which the President told Gates about his call with Sgt. Crowley and statement to the media. The President also invited Gates to join him with Sgt. Crowley at the White House in the near future."

David McKalip, whose racist email showing President Obama dressed as a witch doctor triggered a barrage of outrage, has worked closely in recent weeks with one of the leading organized efforts to stop health-care reform.

After we posted McKalip's racist email yesterday, he sent a message to several online discussion groups attacking what he saw as "race baiting by Obama camp" and accusing TPM of "painting me as a racist." In addition to the Tea Party group to which he had sent the original image, that second message also went to an address for a discussion group run by Conservatives for Patients Rights, the prominent anti-reform group founded and bankrolled by multimillionaire former hospital CEO Rick Scott, and spotlighted in May by the Washington Post.

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This story is changing so quickly, it's all but impossible to stay on top of--but here are a few key issues--cribbed from conversations and my own observations--to keep you moored.

First of all, because everything's moving so fast, just about anything's possible.

Second, it really does seem as if the Blue Dog negotiations are dead. Differences are irreconcilable and time is basically up.

Earlier today, Waxman struck a deal with rural Democrats, concerned with Medicare reimbursement rates in their districts. It's unclear whether he thought that deal meant he'd shored up enough support for the bill that he no longer needed acquiescence of the Blue Dogs on his committee, but once that deal was struck he told them, basically, to play ball or go home. So they went home.

Democrats seem to have entered regroup mode, after mixed messages flew across the Capitol. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said on the floor that a vote on a bill before recess is unlikely (though he added that the House might stay in session past next Friday if success was in reach). House Whip James Clyburn, was more hopeful, saying that all decisions would be made after Waxman and Speaker Pelosi sit down and take stock of where things stand. And within the last hour or so there's been something of a lock down on new, verifiable information as Democratic leaders figure out what to do next.