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President Obama throws out the first pitch at the MLB All-Star game in St. Louis.

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Obama enters the field at Busch Stadium.

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The president takes the field.
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St. Louis Cardinal Hall of Famer Stan Musial brings the ball to Obama.

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Obama meets Cardinal greats Lou Brock, Red Schoendienst, Ozzie Smith, Bruce Sutter, Bob Gibson, and Stan Musial (on cart, left).


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Obama greets Stan Musial.

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Obama gets ready to throw the pitch.

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The wind up...

White House Photo/Lawrence Jackson




...and the pitch!

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Obama waves to the crowd after throwing the first pitch.

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Cardinals First Baseman Albert Pujols greets the president.

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Obama and Willie Mays disembark from Air Force One en route to the game.

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People watch the presidential motorcade as it heads to the stadium.

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President Obama leaves the field so the All-Star game can begin.

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President Obama drinks a beer while watching the game with Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig and Hall of Fame outfielder Hank Aaron.

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President Obama talks with announcers Joe Buck and Tim McCarver in the Busch Stadium press box.

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President Obama throws a warm-up pitch to St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols.

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President Obama jokes in the locker room with All-Stars Prince Fielder and Ryan Howard of the Milwaukee Brewers and Philadelphia Phillies, respectively.

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President Obama chats in the locker room with All-Stars Josh Beckett and Kevin Youkilis of the Boston Red Sox.

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President Obama talks to All-Star Ichiro Suzuki of the Seattle Mariners.

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President Obama talks to Hall of Fame outfielder Willie Mays while on Air Force One.

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The Senate may wish to place a moratorium on criticism of New Haven fire fighter cum expert legal witness Frank Ricci. But we sure don't.

On its official witness list, the Senate Judiciary Committee lists Ricci as Director of Fire Services, ConnectiCOSH (Connecticut Council on Occupational Safety and Health). And that's understandable--he boasts as much on his website.



The problem, unfortunately, is that there is no such position.

Seeking to distance themselves from Ricci, ConnectiCOSH has sent a letter to Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) asking him to correct the record. "Mr. Ricci has posted on his website that he is the "Director of Fire Services for ConnectiCOSH" but there is no such position with ConnectiCOSH," writes ConnectiCOSH Co-Chair Steve Schrag.

We have in no way authorized him to testify in relation to this nomination. In fact he does not hold any elected or appointed position with ConnectiCOSH.

Please remove ConnectiCOSH from any association with Mr. Frank Ricci in relation to his testimony before your committee regarding Judge Sonia Sodamayor as his views are his own and do not reflect our organization's position regarding his lawsuit against the city of New Haven and subsequent legal decisions.


You can read the entire letter below the fold. At a glance, I'd say the non-existence of a "Director of Fire Services" position is probably evidence of anti-Ricci discrimination of some sort on the part of ConnectiCOSH, and they should either invent one or expect to be sued.

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You don't hear Democrats echoing Newt Gingrich all that often. But after yesterday's House health care bill unveiling, it seems that at least one anonymous Democratic aide and the former House Speaker have found common cause.

After House leaders rolled out their legislation, Gingrich took to Twitter to criticize it:



"The liberal health bill introduced by pelosi [sic] is a disaster. $1.5 trillion in new spending. Tax increases on virtually everyone."

There are various errors in that statement, but the biggest one is the price tag. As I reported yesterday, the Congressional Budget Office is estimating that the bill will cost about $1 trillion, and Democrats have proposed covering that cost with a surtax on Americans who make over $350,000 a year, and by wringing efficiencies out of the bloated health care system.

But though it's unsurprising that Newt would find a way to elide the CBO's analysis, it is surprising that a House Democratic aide would mimic him. According to the Associated Press, "a House Democratic aide said the total bill would add up to about $1.5 trillion over 10 years. The aide spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the private calculations." And that figure--about $500 billion off the mark--is what the AP ran with in its lede. "House Democratic leaders, pledging to meet the president's goal of health care legislation before their August break, are offering a $1.5 trillion plan that for the first time would make health care a right and a responsibility for all Americans."

House Dems are, of course, none too pleased. This is the sort of meme thing that can snowball into a wide misunderstanding of what, exactly, the House of Representatives is proposing--so we'll be on the lookout for it.

President Obama has issued a statement congratulating the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee for finishing work on their health care reform bill--but, he says, it should serve as a reminder of just how important it is for the House and Senate to pass health care legislation before the August recess.

"The HELP committee's success should give us hope, but it should not give us pause," Obama said. "It should instead provide the urgency for both the House and Senate to finish their critical work on health reform before the August recess."

You can read the entire statement below the fold. This is just the latest in a series of steps Obama has taken to up the pressure on Congress to pick up the pace on health care reform. With a recess looming, Obama is confronted with the possibility that either or both chambers won't pass legislation before closing up shop for a month--and there are a number of reasons he'd rather avoid that.

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In a series of television and print advertisements going live today, the campaign Health Care for America Now is thanking Democratic Senate leaders, and conservative House Democrats for taking a stand for health care reform in the face of interest group meddling.

The television ads will run in Connecticut and Nevada, thanking vulnerable Democrats Chris Dodd (D-CT) and Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV). You can watch the Dodd ad here:



The print ads will run in the districts of Reps. Bruce Braley (D- IA), David Price (D-NC), Mike Michaud (D-ME), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Allison Schwartz (D-PA), Adam Schiff (D-CA), Jane Harman (D-CA), and Loretta Sanchez (D-CA). Though from conservative districts, they have supported comprehensive reform along HCAN lines. you can see the ad for Chris Murphy below the fold.

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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid remarks on the HELP Committee's passage of their health care reform bill, the Affordable Health Choices Act.

"I want to thank Chairmen Kennedy and Dodd for their tireless work to gain final passage of the Affordable Health Choices Act before the Senate HELP Committee," Reid says.

Americans called for Congress to reform our health care system and this action is a positive step toward quality and affordable health care that Americans need and deserve. Along with my colleagues in the Senate, I will continue to examine all proposals in the spirit of lowering costs, improving health outcomes and preserving choice for Americans when it comes to their health care. I look forward to considering this legislation along with the Finance Committee product before the August recess. Health care reform is now one step closer to reality because of the diligent work of the members of the HELP Committee.


Senate leaders will have to merge the Finance Committee and HELP Committee bills before a floor debate and vote can happen--but here Reid seems to be saying that he may only be able to get past that first step before the August recess. If that's right, it stands in contrast to his outlook Monday, when he said "We are going to do health care before we leave."

The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee has voted along party to move its health care reform legislation out of committee. The panel has been in mark-up for weeks now, and along the way, has approved 160 Republican amendments--and for all that largesse, not a single member of the minority voted in its favor. I'll pass along more details as they become available.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) has taken a softer approach than most of his colleagues to Sonia Sotomayor since President Obama nominated her to the Supreme Court. But now, with her confirmation hearings entering their third day, the high-ranking Republican is saying he'll go to the mat for Sotomayor if Republicans try to filibuster her.



Of course some have been filibustered, they've been denied the opportunity to have an up or down vote on the Senate floor. I told you when we visited in my office, that's not going to happen to you if I have anything to say about it. You will get that up or down vote on the Senate floor.


Cornyn's job, of course, is to make sure vulnerable Republicans don't lose their Senate seats, and that task is complicated when the Republican party is seen as--or is actually--hostile to Hispanics. A filibuster attempt against the first Latina nominated to the Supreme Court would probably be a major headache for him.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) started off Wednesday morning's confirmation hearings with some blunt questioning, bringing up the favorite Republican talking point of Judge Sonia Sotomayor's "wise Latina" comment.

In addition to explaining what she originally meant - and admitting that her "words failed" and "didn't work" in getting her real message across - Sotomayor adopted a new strategy today, citing past comments from Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito. Watch the video below.

During his own confirmation hearings, Alito said the following:

When I get a case about discrimination, I have to think about people in my own family who suffered discrimination because of their ethnic background or because of religion or because of gender. And I do take that into account.


Sotomayor paraphrased Alito, using it as evidence that judges can acknowledge that background has an influence while not letting that affect rulings in discrimination cases.

As a member of the current Supreme Court, Alito recently ruled on Ricci v. DeStefano, the New Haven firefighter case that Republicans have also brought up repeatedly against Sotomayor. So far, only a few media voices like Glenn Greenwald have asked whether Alito's Italian-American heritage influenced his decision in that case.

Still, Sotomayor sought to distance herself from her controversial remarks, saying "it fell flat. I understand that some people understood [my words] in a way I never intended."

This hearkens back to some news we brought you as the anti-Sotomayor campaigns were just warming up on the right. Do you remember Curt Levey and the Committee for Justice? Levey's the guy who went on TV and offered up race- and gender-based attacks on Sotomayor, then turned around and expressed shock that other conservatives had gone so far as to call her a racist.

Now his group is running this ad:



In the spot, Sotomayor is compared to conservative bogeyman Bill Ayers, and is alleged to have "led a group supporting violent, Puerto Rican terrorists." Sotomayor was a Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund board member, and from there, I suppose, it's only a hop, skip, and a jump to leading a support group for terrorists. Early last month, Levey said he "underestimated the degree to which a few conservatives would say a few extreme things, and that would be characterized as what all conservatives think." Then his group made this ad.

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