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At a town hall where Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-OH) called for a civil discussion of the issues on health care, the Congressman then had an interesting response to a local blogger's insistence that LaTourette won't vote for any kind of health care reform at all.

Go to the 2:50 mark here, which follows much discussion by LaTourette that we need to have a civil discussion:

"That's a b---s--- question," the Congressman said.

(Via Huffington Post.)

Remember how Investor's Business Daily's editors went on and on about how if genius astrophysicist Stephen Hawking had been from a socialist hell hole like England, his health care system's death panel would have deemed him useless and snuffed out his life--completely unaware that Hawking--a professor at Cambridge--is and always has been, a British citizen?

Well that subtlety didn't escape one of the world's smartest men. Hawking himself had this to say to his...concerned Investor's: "I wouldn't be alive today if it weren't for the NHS. I have received a large amount of high quality treatment without which I would not have survived."

In fairness, though, maybe the folks at Investor's were thinking of a less eminent--and, crucially, non-British--scientist whose life the National Health Service might deem "essentially worthless."

The campaign of former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie, the Republican nominee for Governor of New Jersey, released this statement last night after the campaign of Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine attacked him regarding the U.S. attorney scandal:

The following is a statement by Maria Comella, Christie-Guadagno Campaign spokesperson, in response to a report that GOP gubernatorial nominee Chris Christie talked to former Bush political mastermind Karl Rove.

"Mr. Rove's testimony confirms what we've known all along, that Chris' appointment as U.S. Attorney was based on his qualifications and his subsequent performance as U.S. Attorney was based on the facts of each case, not on politics," Comella said. "Furthermore, since even before the 2005 election there has been great speculation about whether Chris would ultimately run for some form of elected office.

"As such, it is not surprising that as the Bush Administration was winding down, Mr. Rove inquired about Chris' future plans once his term as U.S. Attorney would come to an end," Comella added. "In this informal conversation, Chris discussed with Mr. Rove the fact he was being urged to run for elected office and Mr. Rove in turn offered to recommend people who could help Chris reach a decision if he eventually seriously considered running for office."

Christie has been consistently leading Corzine in the polls, but the Corzine camp might just have a decent opening here. They could potentially use the U.S. attorney scandal to connect Christie back to the very unpopular Bush administration, and to deprive Christie of the clean-government image he's benefitted from throughout this race.

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) may now have additional reason to fear the Obama Administration, the Star Tribune reports: Her son Harrison Bachmann has now joined Teach For America -- part of the dreaded AmeriCorps!

You might recall that Bachmann said four months ago of Americorps funding that it constituted "re-education camps" run by the Democrats -- and that she worried about her own children being signed up:

And the real concern is that there are provisions for what I would call re-education camps for young people, where young people have to go and get trained in a philosophy that the government puts forward and then they have to go and work in some of these politically correct forums. It's very concerning. It appears that there's a philosophical agenda behind all of this, and especially if young people are mandated to go into this. As a parent, I would have a very, very difficult time seeing my children do this. Again, a huge power-grab, at a cost of billions of dollars.

This was first sniffed out three weeks ago by our friends at Dump Bachmann, and now confirmed by the Strib.

How could it get any worse? Will one of her other children completely fill out the family's Census form?

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) may have just reaped the tea bag whirl wind. Speaking to a crowd of over 100 at an event in Alaska, Murkowski took aim at her former governor, Sarah Palin, by talking some sense about "death panels." "It does us no good to incite fear in people by saying that there's these end-of-life provisions, these death panels," Murkowski said.

Quite honestly, I'm so offended at that terminology because it absolutely isn't [in the bill]. There is no reason to gin up fear in the American public by saying things that are not included in the bill.

With this statement, Murkowski could become the White House's new, and less grudging, ally of convenience in the Republican party. Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA)--who once sponsored an end-of-life counseling bill--was thrust into this debate when he called Palin's now infamous "death panels" smear "crazy." Isakson hasn't disavowed that characterization, but when the White House began citing his remarks as evidence that the GOP base was being lied to about health care reform, Isakson took umbrage, wanting to play no supportive part in the politics of a reform effort he opposes.

Dem Talking Points: We Won't Kill Old People The Hill reports that Senate Democrats have circulated a set of talking points, entitled "Responding to Opponents of Health Insurance Reform." One criticism that Dems are to rebut is, "The government will kill old people because they're too expensive to keep alive," responding that this is "outrageous and absolutely false."

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama and the First Lady will host a reception in the East Room at 10:15 a.m. ET, honoring Justice Sonia Sotomayor. At 3:10 p.m. ET, the President and First Lady will host the Medal of Freedom ceremony.

Read More →

Dick Durbin (D-IL), the number two Democrat in the Senate, says President Obama wants to move forward with some form of health care bill quickly, and then fight the fight over particulars in negotiations with the House of Representatives.

"We're negotiating with three Republican senators to try to get this bill through the Senate, and they do not support the public option," Durbin told small businessmen in Illinois.

So we are trying to walk this tightrope to get this bill through. The House [of Representatives] is likely to include it. The Senate may not. Then we go into conference committee and President Obama has to roll up his sleeves and see if he can bring us all together. And when I've spoken to him about this a couple times, all he's said is: 'Get me to a conference committee. Let me bring these folks into a room, and let me work and get it done.'"

That statement's obviously vague on a couple levels: Who will lose out on the merits--progressives or conservatives--if Obama can't "bring us all together"? And how far will Obama stray from his own vision of health care reform if it's a choice between getting it done and not getting it done?

But it's also a pretty clear indication that he thinks now is not the right time to settle the dispute between liberal Democrats, and the "gang of six" members of the Senate Finance Committee who are trying to piece together a consensus bill.

Officer Marcus Gonzalez, who is the the spokesman for the police in Douglas, Arizona, has now filled me in on exactly what happened at that meet-and-greet last week by Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) -- the one where somebody dropped a gun.

"Apparently, there was no police report taken, the reason being that it was an accidental drop of a gun," Gonzalez explained to me. "Apparently, a male gentleman that went to the meeting had a gun holstered on his side. And when he sat down, it fell out of his holster."

Police were not called to the scene, but were already there to maintain public order and provide security for the Congresswoman. They immediately looked into this, and it turned out the man owned the gun and was legally carrying it -- like our friend in New Hampshire, he was legally carrying the weapon out in the open, and did not need any concealed-carry permit.

"We're not really conducting an investigation on this, because there's not really an investigation to conduct," said Gonzalez.

I made sure to ask Officer Gonzalez whether the gun went off when it fell. It did not.

It's just days before the mid-term elections, and you're sitting in the White House watching a close Congressional race when it bubbles up that the the Republican incumbent, long dogged by corruption rumors, is under federal investigation.

That's the situation the Bush White House found itself in when it was reported in late October 2006, first on blogs, that U.S. Attorney Paul Charlton was investigating Rep. Rick Renzi (R-AZ).

And that's when the damage control machine kicked into gear.

Scott Jennings, deputy to Karl Rove, and White House Counsel Harriet Miers intervened to try to get the Justice Department to throw cold water on the reports of an investigation, despite the DOJ's policy not to confirm or deny the existence of ongoing probes, according to e-mails released by the House Judiciary Committee today. (Read them here.)

In the two days following Miers and Jennings' emails, articles appeared in the press quoting DOJ officials saying the investigation was in "preliminary stage" -- which it was not.

Read More →

Former Rep. Pat Toomey (R-PA), who is running for Senate in 2010, released this statement on the rough town hall experience today for his long-time nemesis, Democratic Sen. Arlen Specter:

Allentown, PA - The negative reaction Senator Arlen Specter received today at a town hall meeting on health care in Lebanon, PA is a demonstration of the growing frustration and concern shared by taxpayers across Pennsylvania.

"The health care plan Senator Specter supports reflects the kind of political extremism that results from complete Democratic control of Washington," said U.S. Senate candidate Pat Toomey. "Arlen Specter is giving the Democrats in Congress a blank check that will take us down the wrong path."

"People across Pennsylvania have real concerns about the cost and intrusiveness of the government-run health care plan Arlen Specter supports. They deserve reforms that will lower the cost of health care and give them more choices, not government control, higher taxes, and a larger deficit. If elected to the U.S. Senate, I will work tirelessly to find real solutions to our health care problems through increased choice, personal ownership, and competition."