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An interesting bit of data from Mark Blumenthal over at National Journal puts a cherry on top of a familiar theme: Conservatives who insist that people want government out of health care are either dishonest or in denial.

Numerous recent polls have indicated this with respect to a government run public option. Voters broadly support the idea. And Medicare enrollees have long reported high levels of satisfaction with their access to and quality of care. But here are some hard numbers.

Only 40 percent of consumers report a high level of satisfaction with their insurance. Compare that to 51 percent of Medicaid enrollees, 60 percent of Medicare Advantage enrollees, and 56 percent of Medicare fee-for-service recipients. That's a particularly interesting finding vis-à-vis Medicaid, which is often stigmatized as a low-quality program for the poor. Yet Medicaid recipients are, on average, happier with their care than are consumers with private insurance.

That's an interesting factoid for those who are concerned that Congress will enact a weak--and, ultimately, stigmatized--public option. Leaving aside for a moment the moral failure of leaving about 50-million people without health care, the vast majority of people (and, notably, voters) in this country already have health care, and like it at least OK. For them, a public option along the lines of Medicaid might not sound like an appealing alternative--and that's why Democrats are insistent that health reform legislation not force anybody currently enrolled on the private market to give up their plan. But for those who are uninsured, or those who are unhappy with the care they already have, even the weak version of the public option might well still be a step up from the status quo.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the San Diego Sheriff's Department is now undertaking a review of a raid over the weekend against a fundraiser for Francine Busby, a Democratic candidate for the 50th Congressional District.

A neighbor made a noise complaint against the event, and this neighbor is also suspected of being the same man who heckled the event with anti-gay remarks shortly before the complaint was made. Other neighbors told the local media that there was no noise problem. After the officers arrived, attendees ended up being pepper-sprayed and a hostess was arrested.

In an interview with TPM, Busby said the noise complaint was not legitimate and was based on the neighbor's political agenda, and she blamed the arresting officer for the violence that resulted.

"We cannot take action based on media accounts and will conduct a thorough inquiry to include interviews of witnesses at the fund-raising event," said Undersheriff Bill Gore -- who as it turns out will become the full sheriff effective this Friday, upon the retirement of his predecessor.

All sex aside, the Sanford scandal offers plenty of political intrigue.

If Gov. Mark Sanford resigns, Lt. Gov. André Bauer would get to run as an incumbent in 2010 -- a definite leg up -- and his supporters have been pushing hard for Sanford's resignation. But some of them have been pushing the wrong people.

The NYT obtained an email from one of Bauer's political consultants, Chris LaCivita, a former media consultant for the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. He sent the email, which mentioned his efforts to oust Sanford, to fellow GOP operative Curt Anderson.

"André Bauer is my client; I've been working this since Monday," the email read. "I need to get this guy (Sanford) out."

Unfortunately, Anderson isn't exactly sympathetic to Bauer's ambitions, as he's a close friend of one of his likely opponents, Attorney General Henry McMaster.

"On this, I can't help you," Anderson replied. "Henry McMaster has been a friend of mine for almost 20 years." Anderson, by the way, is also one of Michael Steele's political consultants.

Note to LaCivita: Better check those email lists.

I just spoke on the phone with Francine Busby, a previous and once-again Democratic candidate for California's Fiftieth House District, about Saturday's raid by the San Diego Sheriff's Department on a fundraiser she held, in which multiple people were pepper-sprayed and a hostess was arrested after a neighbor made a noise complaint.

Busby strongly denied that anyone at the fundraiser did anything to provoke violence by the sheriffs. (For their part, the sheriffs claim that somebody kicked an officer.) And she put the blame squarely on a neighbor who heckled the crowd, then called the sheriffs to complain of loudness from Democrats.

"You could hear his voice very clearly, it was loud. But as far as the actual words, I didn't hear them," Busby explained. "I heard my name, and obviously derogatory words. Other people heard profanity, and somebody heard something about gays, as well."It should be noted that the event was hosted by a lesbian couple.

"The deputies were telling people that they were taking statements from, that the call came in about noise from a Democratic rally, or Democratic demonstration," said Busby. In fact, she said, she had last spoken at about 8:30 p.m., and the police arrived an hour later when most of the attendees had left. "It was a nuisance-noise call, because there was no noise, and the fact that it was described as a Democratic rally or demonstration indicates to me that this person was calling for his own political motives."

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In his press briefing today, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said he doesn't believe the reversal of Sonia Sotomayor's decision in the New Haven firefighters case will hurt her chances of getting confirmed to the Supreme Court.

"I don't foresee that this will represent anything that will prevent her from a seat on the Supreme Court," he told reporters.

Gibbs said the decision was "a fairly definitive opinion that she follows judicial precedent and that she doesn't legislate from the bench." He went on to chide her critics for warning she would be an activist judge, saying today's majority opinion is a "new interpretation" of Title VII.

The White House and Democratic leaders in Congress were in top political form on Friday, ushering the Waxman-Markey bill to passage by the narrowest of margins. In so doing, they picked off Democratic fence sitters strategically, to use what leverage they have to pressure Senate moderates into voting for passage as well.

For instance, a number of Democratic reps from states like Indiana, Missouri, and others voted for passage, which could make it harder for skeptical senators like Claire McCaskill and Evan Bayh to filibuster, or vote against it.

They also tailored the bill in such a way that it will be more palatable to Democratic senators from manufacturing states--like Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania and Sherrod Brown in Ohio--than past climate change bills have been.

But much will also depend on the timeline.

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Now this is a truly bizarre story, about a Democratic Congressional candidate's fundraising event being raided by a whole squad from the San Diego Sheriff's Department -- including pepper-spray and a helicopter!

The San Diego Union-Tribune reports that a fundraiser for Francine Busby, who previously ran for the deeply-Republican Fiftieth District and came close to winning in the 2006 special election and subsequent regular election, was raided by sheriffs after an unnamed neighbor made a noise complaint. Busby now calls it a "phony" noise complaint, and the article says that multiple neighbors said there was no great noise at all.

Here's the twist: The fundraiser was hosted by a lesbian couple, and shortly before the sheriffs came a particular neighbor had shouted anti-gay slurs at the assembled crowd. "It was a quiet home reception, disrupted by a vulgar person shouting obscenities from behind the bushes," Busby says.

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Ever since Monica Conyers, the president pro tem of the Detroit city council, pleaded guilty last week to bribery charges, our major interest here at TPMmuckraker has been in whether her husband, U.S. Rep. John Conyers, is implicated in his wife's confessed wrongdoing.

No evidence has emerged to suggest that he is -- but at a minimum, there's reason to take a close look.

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This is already making the rounds. Conservatives are alleging that, in today's ruling, all nine Supreme Court justices have disputed the reasoning of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals--and therefore of Sonia Sotomayor herself--in the Ricci case. See here and here.

But where did they come up with such a claim? It turns out they're citing the 10th footnote in Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's dissenting opinion, which reads "The lower courts focused on respondents' "intent" rather than on whether respondents in fact had good cause to act. See 554 F. Supp. 2d 142, 157 (Conn. 2006). Ordinarily, a remand for fresh consideration would be in order. But the Court has seen fit to preclude further proceedings. I therefore explain why, if final adjudication by this Court is indeed appropriate, New Haven should be the prevailing party."

Ergo, Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Stevens, and Souter all think Sotomayor is unfit to serve on the Supreme Court. Or something.



As Congress gets set to take up health-care reform, there's a crucial piece of data that hasn't received nearly the prominence in the debate that it deserves.

Defenders of the status quo on health care like to point out that a public option will destroy the system of robust free-market competition that currently exists. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), speaking earlier this month on Fox News, called President Obama's plan the "first step in destroying the best health care system the world has ever known." A public option, Shelby added, would "destroy the marketplace for health care."

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