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In the wake of a scandal in which employees were caught on tape advising people posing as a prostitute and pimp in how to break the law, the House of Representatives voted today to strip ACORN of all federal funding.

The vote was 345-75 on a measured pushed by GOP House leader John Boehner. The Senate voted earlier this week to withdraw housing and urban development funding. But the House bill would remove all federal funding.

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David Barton, who critics call a "Christian nationalist history revisionist," comes off more as smooth-talking history buff than fiery evangelist.

Among the panel of experts appointed to guide the Texas textbook standards writing process, Barton is probably the most committed right-wing activist. He served as vice-chair of the Texas GOP for many years. He was responsible for the uproar over deletion of a reference to Christmas that the chair of the board of education tried to tamp down first thing this morning.

And when his turn to speak came at the hearing on new history textbook standards in Austin today, Barton was the only expert to bring along a slideshow.

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Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) warned today that the health care reform proposal put forth by Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) is "still fairly sketchy" and not representative of the final legislation.

"It's not the plan that necessarily moves through," Brown said on MSNBC. "That may be implicit in media coverage by it's not at all explicit, it's not at all clear."

Brown pointed out that there are four other proposed bills in Congress, included the one written by the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, of which Brown is a member.

That bill, he said, includes 161 Republican amendments, giving it a "bipartisan flavor."

"But on the big questions," such as the public option, "there are partisan differences because there are philosophical differences," he said.

"While I want it to be bipartisan, my goal is not a bipartisan bill. It's a good bill that I hope Republicans vote for. And I believe they will in the end," Brown said.

Over on the main blog, Josh wrote the other day about the alleged terror plot which led police to raid an apartment building in Queens on Monday, and then a suburban Denver home yesterday. Josh noted that the Feds seem to being playing this one a lot closer to the vest than in other cases of recent years -- which could be a sign that it's more serious.

So let's take stock of what we know...

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The Rev. Peter Marshall is one of the "experts" appointed by the Texas State Board of Education who has come under fire for his lack of academic credentials and unapologetic right-wing Christian agenda.

Testifying today at the board of ed hearing on controversial new social studies standards, Marshall didn't disappoint. He got things started with a rousing 10-minute tour through a Christian-centric version of US history.

"It is obvious beyond contradiction that [the founders] structured American government on the natural rights of mankind, which they firmly believe were the gift of God," he said.

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The Virginia gubernatorial debate today showed both candidates running to the middle ground, with a very interesting pattern: Republican Bob McDonnell would stress areas of agreement he had with President Obama, in addition to wide policy disagreements -- while Democrat Creigh Deeds would say how much he respects and supports Obama, while also pointing out his differences.

It's a very interesting pattern, and perhaps indicative of Obama's current approval levels. He's not so massively popular as to have a Dem candidate rushing to tap into his brand name, but he's not unpopular to the point where he would be freely bashed by a top GOP candidate, either.

As examples, McDonnell tied Deeds to national Democrats on issues like cap-and-trade and the Employee Free Choice Act, which aren't big sellers in Virginia and which Deeds is not supporting, either. Deeds pointed out his respectful disagreement. "I've shared with him my concerns," he said, discussing how he's met the president during a recent campaign stop -- and that he looks forward to campaigning with him again.

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The Politico reports that House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH) and Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) are worried about the potential damage to the party's reputation from a certain back-bencher: Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN).

This paragraph is buried deep within their latest piece on Boehner's efforts to keep up with the GOP base:

Sources say they [Boehner and Cantor] have been especially wary of the possible damage inflicted on the party's reputation by bomb-throwing Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), who last fall called for an investigation into whether members of Congress are "pro-America or anti-America."

They certainly are in a bind when it comes to Bachmann. On the one hand, the base loves her and she's frequently invited on television. On the other hand, she calls for revolution and warns against the government using Census data to round people up into internment camps. What's a body to do?

(Via Think Progress.)

Sen. Max Baucus' health care reform proposal doesn't have any friends on the right or left, and most of the support it does have comes from industry, and industry-backed House Blue Dogs. But though the skepticism of the Baucus plan is borne out of a number of flawed policy proposals, there are some genuinely good aspects to it, too. Herewith, the good, the bad, and the ugly sides of Baucuscare:


Fiscal responsibility: Yes, calls for "fiscal responsibility" seem to rear their ugly heads only when conservatives and conservative Democrats oppose the policy changes at stake. But liberal experts also agree: it's crucial that the costs of health care reform be covered, and that the reforms themselves address the problem of health care inflation. Baucus' bill succeeds on both scores. The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities concludes "The proposed offsets in the Baucus plan are sound policies that would use resources in the health care system more efficiently.... [W]eakening or eliminating these offsets would not only result in a less efficient health care system but also make it more difficult to provide low- and moderate-income Americans with sufficient subsidies to afford health coverage." And the CBO finds that, via it's main financing mechanism and other measures, Baucus care would be a deficit reducer over both 10 and 20 year windows.

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This will come as a welcome moment of relief for House progressives and public option enthusiasts.

"I fully support the public option. The public option will be in the bill that passes the House," Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters today.

Last week, Pelosi said "This is about a goal. It's not about provisions. As long as our goal of affordability and accessibility and quality, meeting the four...goals that we have in the legislation, then we will go forward with that bill."

But all along she's been a strong proponent of the public option, and earlier in the process she insisted that a bill without a public option could not pass in the House.

Former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie, the GOP nominee for Governor of New Jersey, ended up having a very special (and, he says, a surprise) guest at a fundraiser last night: Former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-FL).

Christie told the Star-Ledger that a co-host of the event had invited Bush without notifying him, and he didn't know about it until he was on the way to the event itself. Also, Bush did not give a speech. However, Christie and Bush did get their picture taken together, and Christie said that the visit by Jeb "doesn't cause a problem for me" politically.

The Corzine campaign, which has sought to bring Christie down by reminding voters in this Democratic state that Christie himself was a Bush administration official, was quick to pounce last night in a statement: "Christie has vowed to do for New Jersey what George Bush did to the country, by embracing his massive tax cuts for big corporations that will force property taxes higher and drive us deeper into debt and deficit. If that's the economics he embraces, it's no surprise Christie is embracing Bush's brother,