TPM News

The staff of the Washington Blade, a 40-year-old gay weekly in D.C. that was shut down unceremoniously Monday morning, has relaunched the paper under a new name: D.C. Agenda.

With just a few days, no office and some donations, the volunteer staff, led by erstwhile Blade publisher Lynne Brown and editor Kevin Naff, got out a print and online product with a handful of local gay-interest stories.

"The strength of the Washington Blade did not lie in its brand name -- it came from the spirit of those who worked passionately to serve and inform our community. Those people are still here. Our work continues," Naff wrote in a letter to readers.

Naff also wrote that the Agenda will continue to cover the Blade's beats, including "Congress, the White House, the LGBT rights movement, the D.C. marriage fight [and] local hate crimes."

He revealed that the paper's parent company, which went out of business with no warning to the staff, had canceled final paychecks and offered no severance.

Starting next week, the liberal group MoveOn will run a 30-second television ad in Maine and Arkansas highlighting what they describe as the "human cost" of delaying the public option.

"Our health care system is clearly in crisis," reads a statement from Ilyse Hogue, MoveOn's Director of Political Advocacy. "People are dying without care, yet some in Congress apparently think the status quo is acceptable--or would have us wait for things to get even worse before we can expect real reform."

The so-called 'trigger' is simply a ploy by those who oppose a public option to delay or kill this vital reform. This ad should serve as a clear signal to Senator Snowe, Senator Lincoln or anyone else consider the 'trigger' that half-measures are unacceptable. Americans need health care reform with a public option now."

The ad will run for one week, beginning Monday.

Earlier today, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) told reporters that Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR)--a vulnerable incumbent, and a key health care swing vote--had confided in Majority Leader Harry Reid that she'd made up her mind about tomorrow's test vote on health care reform.

That must've touched off some nerves, because he's now issued a statement walking back that contention.

"In a conversation with reporters earlier today, some of my remarks regarding Senator Lincoln were unclear and have been incorrectly interpreted," Durbin's statement reads. "Let me be clear: Senator Lincoln has had a number of conversations with Sen. Reid about the health care reform legislation. She has asked important questions and there has been a positive and healthy give and take. But Sen. Lincoln has not yet signaled her intention as to how she will vote on tomorrow's cloture motion."

Back on the fence, I guess? You can read the entire statement below the fold.

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Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) just announced that he will vote yes tomorrow on a motion to proceed to debate on Senate health care legislation, though he says he will filibuster the bill if parts of it are not tailored to his liking during the amendment process.

"This weekend, I will vote for the motion to proceed to bring that debate onto the Senate floor," Nelson says. "The Senate should start trying to fix a health care system that costs too much and delivers too little for Nebraskans."

"In my first reading," Nelson said, "I support parts of the bill and oppose others I will work to fix. If that's not possible, I will oppose the second cloture motion--needing 60 votes--to end debate, and oppose the final bill.

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In a letter of qualified admonishment released today, the Senate ethics panel criticizes Sen. Roland Burris (D-IL) for his "inconsistent, incomplete and misleading" testimony surrounding discussions with Gov. Rod Blagoveich's brother and associates before Burris' appointment last year.

The full letter, which the Washington Post observes is the mildest form of rebuke in the panel's quiver, is here.

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On Fox News this morning, Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) said that if Sen. Harry Reid can successfully get "60 Democrats who will to move to proceed" on the health care reform bill in the Senate, it would be "kind of the beginning of the end" for health care reform because "Once you get on to this bill, it's going to be very difficult not to go to final passage." He added, "But that's what we're going to try and see if we can stop."

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The new national survey from Public Policy Polling (D) finds that President Obama continues to hold a national lead over Sarah Palin and other potential Republican challengers -- but interestingly enough, Palin has closed the gap just a little.

The numbers: Obama leads Palin by 51%-43%, is ahead of Mike Huckabee by 49%-44%, leads Mitt Romney by 48%-43%. The margin of error is ±3%. As a frame of reference, in 2008 the Obama-Biden ticket beat the McCain-Palin ticket by 53%-46%.

A month ago, Obama was ahead of Palin by 52%-40%, ahead of Huckabee by 47%-43%, and ahead of Romney by 48%-40%. Paul was not tested.

Obama's approval rating in the poll is 49%, with 46% disapproving, down from 51%-43% last month.

"Barack Obama is now in a slightly weaker position than he was a year ago at this time," said PPP president Dean Debnam, in the press release. "His leads against Huckabee and Romney are smaller than his margin of victory against John McCain and his approval's dropped below 50%. It's not a dire situation but he needs to reverse the current trend."

It's been a week since Attorney General Eric Holder announced that five terror suspects will be transferred from Guantanamo Bay to New York City to face trial. There are still a lot of questions to be answered about logistics, and it will likely be months before the first suspect sets foot in a federal courtroom.

Republicans have already told us what's going to happen, though: If you let President Obama have his way, you will die.

The GOP has returned to a familiar line on Obama and national security in the days since Holder's announcement. It's time to be afraid again, they say, hearkening back to the days of duct tape and Orange alerts even some Republicans thought they left behind on Election Day 2008.

So grab an assault rifle and keep the phone number for Operation TIPS close -- here are the four ways Republicans say Obama is putting your life at risk.

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President Obama's approval rating has fallen below 50% in the Gallup poll for the first time, the organization has announced.

The full number will be released at 1 p.m. ET. (Late Update: The number has been posted, with 49% approval to 44% disapproval.)

As Gallup has previously noted, every president since World War II, except for John F. Kennedy, eventually went below 50%. The shortest time for such a fall belongs to Gerald Ford at three months, while the longest (except for Kennedy, and his tragically shortened administration) was Dwight Eisenhower at 63 months, the only president to last through a full first term above 50%.

Falling below 50% doesn't necessarily spell defeat for re-election. Obama's ten months will match the ten months for Ronald Reagan, who was of course re-elected in a landslide, and Bill Clinton only stayed above 50% for four months.