TPM News

Despite the fact that Karl Rove says groups like the Muslim Brotherhood are a potentially "dangerous" force in any Egyptian elections, he still has "a certain amount of optimism about Egypt."

Rove explained to Sean Hannity last night that it's because the Egyptian people "view themselves not as simply followers of Mohammad, but these are the people who are descended from Ramses and Cleopatra. And as a result they've tended to be more western in their orientation, they've tended to be more secular."

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Punxsutawney Phil wasn't the only animal making predictions yesterday. In the spirit of the "animal pagan prophecy" holiday, Stephen Colbert introduced an animal he claimed could foresee the outcome of Egypt's uprising: a cat named Christianne Aman-purr.

Colbert outlined Aman-purr's credentials on the subject.

"You are an expert on Egypt," Colbert said, "seeing as how you're worshiped as a God there."

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Here's another change Dems are considering to the individual mandate in the health care law in the wake of Tuesday's federal court decision.

Rep. Peter Defazio (D-OR) proposes that people be allowed to opt out of the insurance mandate altogether -- but if they do, they will not be allowed to free-ride on the new health care system.

Under his plan, a person opting out "must file an 'affidavit of personal responsibility' with the state exchange. Such a filing will waive their rights to: 1) Enroll in a health insurance exchange; 2) Enroll in Medicaid if otherwise made eligible; and 3) Discharge health care related debt under Chapter 7 bankruptcy law," DeFazio wrote in a letter to colleagues Tuesday.

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Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), the national Tea Party star who has been traveling to Iowa and eyeing a possible run for president, is now making her way to another key early state: South Carolina.

Bachmann will visit the state on February 19, speaking in Columbia at a lunch meeting of the South Carolina Federation of Republican Women, and in Spartanburg at a reception and dinner by the Spartanburg County GOP.

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After pressure from women's groups, Democratic politicians and Jon Stewart, the authors of the controversial abortion bill in the House will drop language that appeared to exempt some rape victims from seeking federal help to pay for an abortion.

Politico reports this morning that Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), the lead sponsor of the bill and chair of the House pro-life caucus, will remove the phrase "forcible rape" from the bill and replace it with the same wording used in the Hyde Amendment. That Amendment bans federal abortion coverage already, and proponents of the House law say their goal was to make Hyde -- which has to be renewed every year -- a permanent fixture of federal law.

"The word forcible will be replaced with the original language from the Hyde Amendment," Jeff Sagnip, a spokesperson for Smith, told Politico. Smith's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from TPM.

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Democrats are holding together to close backdoor efforts to kill the health care law better than the GOP would like.

They would prefer that vulnerable Democrats to join them in support of a new measure that would allow states to opt out of key provisions of the law -- a plan designed to weaken and kill it.

But at least one of those Democrats isn't biting.

Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) says he likes pieces of that measure -- in particular allowing states to opt out of the law's call for a Medicaid expansion. But he can't support it overall.

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Early Maneuvering On Possible Shutdown The New York Times reports: "Democrats do not intend to shut up when it comes to a potential government shutdown. Well aware that a 1995 budget impasse during the early days of Republican control of the House backfired on the new majority, Democrats are moving pre-emptively this time to frame the battle on their terms."

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama will deliver remarks this morning at the National Prayer Breakfast. He will receive the presidential daily briefing at 9:30 a.m. ET. He will depart from the White House at 10:05 a.m. Et, and depart from Andrews Air Force Base at 10:20 a.m. Et, arriving at 11:05 a.m. ET in University Park, Pennsylvania. At 11:30 a.m. ET, he will tour labs at Pennsylvania State University, and deliver remarks on innovation at 12 p.m. ET. He will depart from University Park at 1:20 p.m. ET, will arrive at Andrews Air Force Base at 2:05 p.m. ET, and will arrive back at the White House at 2:20 p.m. ET.

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Former Sen. Robert Torricelli (D-NJ), who moderated an event on behalf of the Iranian opposition group MEK in Washington D.C. two weeks ago, told TPM in an interview that he is "personally offended" that the group is currently considered a terrorist organization by the State Department. He acknowledged that some of the group's history -- which includes the assassination of several U.S. military personnel and civilians in the 1970s -- is "not good," but argued that the MEK has changed, and is now "one of the only effective tools against the government in Tehran."

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