TPM News

Wesley Denton, a spokesman for Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), just told TPM that the Senator is not attempting to intervene in support of the military coup in Honduras, as part of his trip there today -- that it is simply a fact-finding mission to find out about the events on the ground.

The New York Times had reported: "One of the de facto government's main supporters in Washington, Senator Jim DeMint, Republican of South Carolina, has announced plans to visit Tegucigalpa on Friday. One Congressional staff member said Mr. DeMint hoped to meet with members of the de facto government and other Hondurans. Other staff members said he intended to encourage Mr. Micheletti and his supporters to resist."

"Sen DeMint did not announce that to the New York Times, they did not get that from our office," said Denton. "They did not speak to staff members from our office that I know of -- they certainly did not talk to me."

DeMint and his Congressional delegation did meet today with de facto Honduran President Roberto Micheletti.

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As the Senate gets set to take up climate change legislation, one of the key opponents of serious efforts to stop global warming may find its clout on the issue badly weakened.

That's because in recent weeks, several high-profile members of the Chamber of Commerce have gone public over their disagreement with the group's position, with some leaving the Chamber altogether over the issue.

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An interesting pattern has been emerging in the Republican Party's handling of foreign policy: Individual GOP officials are now making a regular point of not only formulating an alternative foreign policy, to be presented to the American people and debated in Congress -- they're acting on it too, and undermining the official White House policies at multiple turns:

• Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) is visiting Honduras in order to support the recent military coup against a leftist president, which has been opposed by the Obama administration and all the surrounding countries in the region. (Late Update: DeMint's office says he is not taking sides during his visit to the current Honduran leadership, denying the New York Times reports that this was his intention.)

• Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) will be going to the upcoming climate change conference in Copenhagen, bringing a "Truth Squad" to tell foreign officials there that the American government will not take any action: "Now, I want to make sure that those attending the Copenhagen conference know what is really happening in the United States Senate."

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Former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie, the Republican nominee for Governor of New Jersey, might be reaching a little too hard to appeal to the youth vote -- a new pair of Web videos from his campaign come off like a middle-aged man trying to sound cool with his kids, and totally failing.

This one samples an L.L. Cool J song, "That's A Lie":

Another Web ad is a takeoff on those annoying commercials for free credit reports, and refers to Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine as being "whack." It is very painful to watch, so it has been placed after the jump for your safety.

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So what exactly is the deal with Sen. Jim DeMint's (R-SC) trip to Honduras -- which is being done in an effort to support the recent military coup, contrary to current U.S. foreign policy -- and the failed effort by Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) to stop it?

Frederick Jones, communications director for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a Kerry spokesman, explained the distinction to us: Kerry was not blocking DeMint from going to Honduras -- any American can legally travel there -- but the issue was over government funding and plane travel for an official fact-finding mission. "Clearly, as an American citizen, Sen. DeMint is free to travel to Honduras commercially."

Kerry, as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, blocked DeMint's funding because DeMint has been holding up key nominations for foreign policy officials in Latin America -- thus obstructing the committee's business and the U.S. government overall in working on the region. In response, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) stepped in and obtained the funding for DeMint from another source, which has not yet been identified.

Calls to the DeMint and McConnell offices were not returned. Jones' statement, firing back at DeMint for blocking the nominations, is available after the jump.

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If Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid does not ultimately decide to include a public option in Senate health care legislation before he brings a bill to the floor, it could have important consequences for the fate of the public option.

As I've noted before, the public option would then have to be added to the bill by amendment, or, failing that, in a contentious conference committee with the House of Representatives.

Neither option is particularly straightforward: The latter route would ask Democratic conservatives whether they'd support a filibuster to kill a health care bill with a public option--brave, but dangerous. The former will be a daunting climb.

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Some in the far-flung reaches of the right wing have been chattering that President Obama's memoir, Dreams From My Father, was really written by radical activist Bill Ayers.

At a recent book festival, National Journal (sub. req.) put the question to Ayers himself.

"Here's what I'm going to say. This is my quote. Be sure to write it down: 'Yes, I wrote Dreams From My Father. I ghostwrote the whole thing. I met with the president three or four times, and then I wrote the entire book.'" He released National Journal's arm, and beamed in Marxist triumph. "And now I would like the royalties."

Much of the conspiracy theory chatter comes from conservative writerJack Cashill, who also claims Ayers got Obama into Harvard -- even though the two didn't meet until after Obama arrived in Chicago. Christopher Andersen, who recently released a book about the First Couple's marriage, also claims Ayers helped Obama extensively with the memoir.

Even by the standards of Texas's enthusiasm for state-sanctioned killing, this is pretty shocking...

A Texas scientific panel has been looking into possible missteps in a criminal investigation of a 1991 arson case which led to the execution of Cameron Todd Willingham. A recent New Yorker story about the case laid out compelling evidence that Willingham may well have been wrongly put to death.

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Rush Limbaugh is definitely not happy with former McCain campaign manager Steve Schmidt, who said that a Palin campaign for president would be "catastrophic."

Limbaugh, who has been a long-time Palin fan, gave this comment to Greg Sargent:

I think it's time for the McCain crowd to acknowledge they are losers and pack it in. They've done enough damage to the Republican Party. Move aside and let a brighter, more principled, and more competent generation of people clean up the mess they helped create.

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) may believe health care reform will be President Obama's Waterloo. But the coup in Honduras may become DeMint's Little Bighorn.

DeMint announced earlier this week that he planned to visit the Central American nation to offer support to the illegitimate government of Roberto Micheletti, who was installed into power after the military overthrew President Manuel Zelaya on orders of the Honduran Supreme Court.

But the Obama administration, which has been unsupportive of the coup, and has begun to revoke the visas of the coup's wealthy supporters, ain't havin' none of that. Last night, the White House, with an assist from Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry deep-sixed DeMint's plans.

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