TPM News

Billionaire banker Allen Stanford will have to settle for a public defender to represent him on charges that he orchestrated a massive financial fraud.

Stanford's assets have been frozen, leaving him with no money to pay Dick DeGuerin, the high-powered defense attorney he's been working with of late. With no guarantee of payment, DeGuerin formally withdrew, and U.S. District Judge David Hittner asked the head of the federal public defender office in Houston to take over, reports the Houston Chronicle.

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Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) just took to the House floor -- and did not apologize again for his "You lie!" outburst.

"Mr. Speaker, I think it is clear to the American people that there are far more important issues facing this nation than what we're addressing right now," said Wilson. "The President said the time for games is over. I agree with the President. He graciously accepted my apology, and the issue is over."

"However, this action today will have done nothing for the taxpayers, to rein in the growing cost and size of the federal government. It will not help more Americans secure jobs, promote better education, ensure retirement, or reform health insurance," he continued "It is the Democrat leadership, in their rush to pass a very bad government health care plan, that is bad medicine for America. It has muzzled the voices we represent and provoked partisanship.

"When we are done here today, we will not have taken any steps closer to helping more American families afford health insurance, or helping small businesses create new jobs. The challenges our nations (sic) faces are far bigger than any one member of this house. It is time that we move forward and get to work for the American people."

Former House majority leader and current Dancing With The Stars contestant Tom DeLay tweeted today that he may have a stress fracture -- but that won't stop him from tearing up the floor.

Old age is catching up to me, may have a stress fracture in my foot. no worries, it'll take more than that to keep me off the dance floor!

DeLay is performing with two-time Dancing With The Stars champ Cheryl Burke, who told TPM the indicted former congressman is a "gentleman" and an "interesting conversationalist."

Also check out our photos and video of DeLay's dance moves, plus his recent loony appearance on Hardball.

Late Update: "No stress fracture! It is a pre-stress fracture. I live for another day," DeLay tweets.

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) is perhaps the most liberal member of the Senate Finance Committee when it comes to health care reform, and today, he went on the record in opposition to the proposal offered by chairman Max Baucus.

"There is no way in present form I will vote for it," Rockefeller told reporters on a conference call. "Therefore, I will not vote for it unless it changes during the amendment process by vast amounts."

Rockefeller has a number of objections to the proposal including, but not limited, to the fact that it lacks a public option.

The math on the Senate Finance Committee (13 Democrats, 10 Republicans) is such that Rockefeller could vote no from the left, and all Republicans--including Olympia Snowe--could vote no from the right, and the bill could still pass. So this may not be an idle threat. However, numerous aides have told me that moving the process forward is the top priority for Democratic leaders at this point, and that it's extremely unlikely that Democratic opposition will stall the bill on the committee, so any Democratic opposition would likely be limited to Rockefeller. Nonetheless, this is an interesting dynamic to keep an eye on.

Who're you gonna believe, Mitch McConnell, or Max Baucus?

Today, the Senate Minority Leader and the Senate Finance Committee chair offered mutually exclusive prognoses on the fate of health care reform.

Baucus says there's a "very good chance" that a significant number of Republicans will ultimately support the compromise legislation he's spent months writing, and which he finally plans to unveil either late tonight or tomorrow morning.

But, based on what he's read of the plan so far, the Republican Senate leader is doubtful.

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The Boston Globe reports that both houses of the Massachusetts legislature plan to vote Thursday on the bill to empower Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick to make a temporary appointment to Ted Kennedy's Senate seat. This would return the Senate Democrats to their full strength of 60 seats, which could be crucial in the debate on health care.

The law before 2004 provided for a gubernatorial appointee, who would serve until the next regular Congressional election. That year, however, the Dems in the legislature passed a bill for a special election, with no appointment, at a time when John Kerry was running for president and Republican Mitt Romney was governor.

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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told reporters today in unequivocal terms that Democrats will use the so-called budget reconciliationp rocess to pass health care reform without Republicans if they can't get 60 votes.

"If we can't get the 60 votes we need, then we'll have no alternative," Reid said.

Reid was careful to insist that such a move would not be his preference and remains a last resort--but, he says, the process must keep moving forward.

Still, Reid remains confident that the 51-vote maneuver won't be necessary. "I'm certainly not over-confident, but I think there's a very good chance that we can get 60 votes," he noted.

While 60 votes may be possible, it may also be a ceiling of sorts. Today, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said of the plan emerging from the Senate Finance Committee, "I don't think that's a package that very many Republicans will support."

And over the weekend, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME)--the second most moderate member of the Republican caucus, said that despite the preferences of her colleague Olympia Snowe, she would not support a health care bill that includes a triggered public option.

Rush Limbaugh weighed in today on this video of a 17-year-old white Illinois student beaten up by two black classmates. Shockingly, his analysis doesn't reveal an even-handed understanding of our country's complicated racial history. In fact, not only does Limbaugh imply that this high school scuffle is racially-motivated -- but that somehow, it's the fault of President Obama.

"In Obama's America, the white kids now get beat up with the black kids cheering, 'Yay, right on, right on, right on, right on," Limbaugh said. He continued:

I wonder if Obama's going to come to come to the defense of the assailants the way he did his friend Skip Gates up there at Harvard.

Somehow I doubt it.

Give it a listen:

Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL), who is running for President Obama's former Senate seat in 2010, just pulled off an amazing trick at a Republican event over the weekend: He said that he voted for the climate bill in the House, but would vote against it in the Senate -- and got the crowd to switch from booing to cheering him.

"Let me say briefly about cap and trade. I voted for it because it was in the narrow interest of my Congressional district. But as your representative," Kirk said, then getting interrupted by booing. "As your representative, representing the entire state of Illinois, I would vote no on that bill coming up."

The amazing thing is how quickly the crowd switched from booing to cheering, even as Kirk flip-flopped right in front of them. This would explain Kirk's upcoming policy: "Abortions for some, miniature American flags for others."

Check it out at the 3:10 mark:


I'm here!