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You just had to figure that Rush Limbaugh was a big-time supporter of Sarah Palin on the "death panel" stuff:

"But I would suggest that anybody who doubts her intellectual heft or her ability to learn and study," said Limbaugh, "go to her Facebook page, look at the notes that she's taken -- it's right there -- the study that she has done and engaged in, in order to learn about Section 1233."

Limbaugh also said that you don't have to be old for the death panel -- you just need to have a disease that the government decides is too expensive to treat. And he says of President Obama "He wants the White House, he wants the Executive Branch, to be making determinations of who lives and who dies, which will lead to the regulation of every lifestyle or life in this country."

Bioethicist and presidential adviser Ezekiel Emanuel today called talk of "death panels" by Sarah Palin and others "an absolute outrage."

"It's an absolute outrage that you would take, first of all, a provision written in the bill," Emanuel told ABC News, "and turn it into the suggestion that we're going to have euthanasia boards -- that's a complete misreading of what's there. It's just trying to scare people."

In a piece defending her use of the phrase "death panels," Palin used Emanuel's writings as proof that the administration would give care based on who is most productive in society.

"There's no basis for that claim either in any of my writings or the legislation. It has no grounds in reality. It's surreal and Orwellian, the idea that this legislation or my writings suggest that her son Trig shouldn't get health care," he said. He said he "abhors" people like Palin "cavalierly distorting those writings and the work that I've done over 25 years to help improve medical care in America for vulnerable people who often have no voice."

He added that in the papers in question, he was analyzing arguments for such things as rationing scarce health care resources, but not in any way endorsing them.

Emanuel, who is the brother of President Obama's chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, has been an opponent of euthanasia for years.

Karl Rove and Rush Limbaugh, along with other Republicans, will play themselves in upcoming episodes of Family Guy, according to

The plot line: Brian, the family dog and sworn liberal, gets bored with a Democrat in the White House. So he switches to the Republican party and starts listening to Limbaugh -- who even sings in the episode.

The episode will air next season. Here's video of Seth MacFarlane, the show's creator, explaining the decision to have Rove and Limbaugh on:

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) has a message for her supporters in a new fundraising letter: Don't let the media do to her what they did to Sarah Palin -- "Don't let them Palinize me!"

"With Governor Palin taking a well-deserved step out of the spotlight, it appears that I may be absorbing even more of the liberals' scorn," says Bachmann. "And, I'd really appreciate your support so that I can defend myself against their attacks. Click here to make a donation!"

She later adds: "But just as they did with Sarah Palin, the more I talk about the issues, the more they attack with below-the-belt personal hits. In fact, yesterday, a Minnesota paper gave a full column to a hit piece on one of my kids!" This would appear to be a reference to the joking stories about her son joining Teach For America, after she'd called AmeriCorps a "re-education camp" and that she would be very concerned about her own children ever joining.

The letter cites Urban Dictionary, an open-source site that contains a mix of definitions from across the political spectrum. The word "Palinize" has mostly negative definitions, but a few pro-Palin ones about being twisted and distorted by the liberal media -- and those are the definitions that Bachmann cites. However, the letter did pick out one definition that might actually be anti-Palin (and filled with dramatic irony, given the selective citation): "To exaggerate the truth or lie by omission."

Check out the full e-mail after the jump.

Read More →

Today's White House press briefing got heated over a question from Fox News about who's received the "viral email" sent out today as part of the administration's health care reform push.

Fox News correspondent Major Garrett said he'd heard reports of people receiving the email, even though they hadn't signed up for the White House email list. Garrett also said they hadn't signed up to receive emails from Organizing for America, President Obama's political group.

Press Secretary Robert Gibbs cut him off, saying the OFA has nothing to do with White House emails.

"I want you to rephrase your question that doesn't continue to assume that someone's violating the law," Gibbs said. Garrett repeated the question, this time replacing "OFA" with "Senator Obama as a candidate" -- still implying an illegal act.

He then asked if the White House was using databases or other "information about people" to target those who might be interested in health care reform. Gibbs said he didn't think so, but he'd have to look into that.

When Garrett insisted on an answer, Gibbs said he'd have to check the email list to see what had happened.

"You need the email addresses of these people?" Garrett asked, apparently aghast.

"I appreciate the fact that [you think] I have omnipotent clarity as to what you've received in your email box," Gibbs said.

Garrett, visibly annoyed, cut him off, saying, "I'm telling you what I got!"

Gibbs then called on another reporter, muttering something about looking for a more "constructive" question.

Gov. Jon Corzine (D-NJ) and his Republican opponent Chris Christie have come out with a dueling set of Web ads, touching on the health care debate and insurance company mandates -- and whether any candidate favors letting women be denied mammograms.

Corzine came out with this Web ad two days ago, attacking Christie for favoring the legalization of mandate-free policies -- that is, insurance companies wouldn't be required by the state to cover certain needs -- in order to make cheaper private policies available to those who would opt for them. The Corzine camp seized on this to say women would go without mammograms, after the state just passed a mammogram requirement a few years ago:

Christie has fired back with this hard-hitting Web ad called "Mom," about his own mother's fight against breast cancer:

Christie said he was prepared for tough attacks in this race: "But what I'm not gonna put up with is when Jon Corzine runs ad and puts out information that blatantly lies about something in my record that's also very, very important to me personally."

The White House denies it on the record, and PhRMA denies it on the record, but below, via Ryan Grim, is an outline of the deal drug manufacturers supposedly struck with the Obama administration early last month.

Commitment of up to $80 billion, but not more than $80 billion.

1. Agree to increase of Medicaid rebate from 15.1 - 23.1% ($34 billion)

2. Agree to get [follow on biologics] done (but no agreement on details -- express disagreement on data exclusivity which both sides say does not affect the score of the legislation.) ($9 billion)

3. Sell drugs to patients in the donut hole at 50% discount ($25 billion) This totals $68 billion

4. Companies will be assessed a tax or fee that will score at $12 billion. There was no agreement as to how or on what this tax/fee will be based.

Total: $80 billion

In exchange for these items, the White House agreed to:

1. Oppose importation

2. Oppose rebates in Medicare Part D

3. Oppose repeal of non-interference

4. Oppose opening Medicare Part B

Read More →

At a town hall last night in Cleveland, two men who yelled out to Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH) during her opening remarks were removed by police.

"This is still my meeting," Fudge said after they were taken away. Fudge had warned attendees that anyone attempting to disrupt the event, or speak before the Q&A session, would be removed.

Democrats packed the town hall to show support for health care reform, but some opponents still made their voices heard. But besides the two ejections, the meeting was peaceful.

Local station NewsNet5 has the video.

Here's a new rule of thumb if you ever become a powerful senator: If you want to kill a provision in a bill, lie about it publicly, then tell everybody the measure is dead because it's widely misunderstood.

Yesterday, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), ranking member on the Senate Finance Committee, told a crowd they were right to worry that Medicare reimbursement for end of life counseling by physicians might amount to euthanizing seniors. Today, he announces that the provision has been dropped because it "could be misinterpreted."

Late update: And, if that wasn't bad enough, Grassley's also patting himself on the back for delaying health care reform, which in turn created political space for the town hall disruptions.

Late late update: Here's more from Grassley: "Maybe others can defend a bill like the Pelosi bill that leaves major issues open to interpretation, but I can't," Grassley added.

Another way of putting this is that Grassley's shocked--shocked!--that anybody would write a bill that doesn't explicitly disavow death panels. In fact, all bills must clearly delineate that even their most antiseptic provisions aren't, in fact, secret passageways into death panels.

Harry Reid's office is quickly moving to quash a rumor that got floated in the Nevada press.

The Las Vegas Sun's report on GOP Rep. Dean Heller's (R) decision to not run for Senate -- which mainly focused on wanting to avoid being associated with Sen. John Ensign -- also contained this line: "A Republican operative, granted anonymity to speak freely, speculated that Reid assured Heller that he would not stand in the way of a 2012 run and would even tacitly help him by directing his fundraising network toward Heller."

Reid's campaign manager Brandon Hall shot that down to the Sun that any deal had been made regarding Ensign's Senate seat: "It's a ridiculous claim. Dean Heller made the decision on his own. You'd have to ask him what led to that decision."

In an e-mail to TPM, Reid spokesman Jim Manley was even clearer "The key word is 'speculated,'" Manley wrote. "As we made clear in the story, that theory is absolutely ridiculous. It didn't happen. Period."