TPM News

When we last checked in on the U.S. history textbooks standards setting process down in Texas, the conservative-dominated State Board of Education was mulling one-sided requirements to teach high school students about Newt Gingrich, Phyllis Schlafly, and the Moral Majority.

Now, in the home stretch of a process that will set the state's nationally influential standards, a liberal watchdog group is worried that the State Board of Education will try to push through changes to claim that communist-hunting Sen. Joseph McCarthy has been vindicated by history, among other right-wing pet issues.

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The Tea Party Express, a division of the conservative Our Country Deserves Better PAC, has announced a new TV ad in the Massachusetts special Senate election, and that they're putting $150,000 behind it.

"The big-government politicians in Washington have failed us: Bank failures, skyrocketing unemployment, out of control deficits, higher taxes," the announcer says. "It's time to bring some sanity back to WAshington -- and that's why we at the Tea Party Express endorse Scott Brown for U.S. Senate."

So what's going to happen in this Tuesday's election? Will Boston vote for, or against, the Tea Party?

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Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), a long serving member of the New York Congressional delegation wants Harold Ford, Jr., who's been contemplating a primary challenge against Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), to take a hike.

"I would not encourage him to run in New York," Nadler told me. "As far as I'm concerned he has no connection to New York. And more importantly he's far too conservative--too wrong on too many major issues--to be the Democratic nominee."

Nadler is one of a number of Democrats who have lambasted Ford for meddling in New York politics.

"If he thinks that its an appealing argument to position yourself as being somebody who will stand up to Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer, well I don't think we need another Joe Lieberman," said Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY). "Maybe when his helicopter lands in Queens next I can ask him."

This doesn't sound quite as lucrative as her gig as a Fox News analyst, but...

Former vice presidential GOP nominee Sarah Palin appears to have joined a prestigious lineup including "America's Mayor" Rudy Giuliani and ex-Notre Dame Football Coach Lou Holtz on the Get Motivated! speaking circuit. For just $19, you can apparently take your entire office to go hear Palin speak about:

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Sources tell the Associated Press that the White House has reached a tentative deal with union leaders on a proposed tax on so-called "Cadillac" health insurance plans.

Details were not released, but the White House is expected to share them with Congressional leaders later today. And a source tells TPMDC that the House is not yet a party to any deal.

An agreement would be a big step toward successfully merging the House and Senate bills.

However, a spokesman for the AFL-CIO, Eddie Vale, denied to TPMDC that an agreement had been reached.

"Discussions are ongoing. There is no deal," he said.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs suggested a more formal announcement may be forthcoming. "I don't have any announcements to make at the moment," he said. "We may have more later in the day."

Leading House progressives say that if Democrat Martha Coakley loses her bid for Senate in Massachusetts next week, that may well be it for health care reform.

"I believe that to be true," said Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), House progressives' point person on health care reform. "I think there are enough people who see such severe problem with the [Senate] legislation," that they can't vote for it under any circumstances.

In a brief interview with TPM, I asked Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) whether he could be persuaded to vote for the Senate bill if it became clear that that was the only way to pass reform. "I would not vote for the Senate bill as it is, period," he told me.

The other option would be to squeeze a series of votes in the House and Senate through a narrow window between election day next Tuesday, and the day Scott Brown (hypothetically) is sworn in.

As I noted earlier this week, if Coakley loses her election next week, leaving Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid one shy of the 60 votes he needs to pass a revised, final health care bill, Democrats could still advance reform by passing the Senate bill in the House word for word. But that option may exist only in theory.

MoveOn and its members have been pitching in to help Martha Coakley in the Massachusetts Senate race, with the group announcing that they have so far raised $600,000 for her campaign.

This follows a money-bomb fundraiser by Republican candidate Scott Brown earlier this week, which brought in $1.3 million.

Democrats have been working to make up the difference. In addition to this $600,000 batch of contributions to Coakley's campaign, the fundraising letter from Ted Kennedy's widow Vicki Kennedy brought in over half a million dollars. There has also been significant spending from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, the League of Conservation Voters, and SEIU.

A spokesman for Pat Robertson, the televangelist who suggested Haiti's problems over the years were caused by a "pact to the devil," released a statement yesterday clarifying Robertson's remarks.

"Dr. Robertson never stated that the earthquake was God's wrath," wrote Chris Roslan, a spokesman for Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network. "If you watch the entire video segment, Dr. Robertson's compassion for the people of Haiti is clear. He called for prayer for them. His humanitarian arm has been working to help thousands of people in Haiti over the last year, and they are currently launching a major relief and recovery effort to help the victims of this disaster."

Robertson's comments yesterday caused a firestorm and prompted responses from the Haitian ambassador to the U.S. and the White House.

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The new Research 2000 poll of the Massachusetts special Senate election, commissioned by the local liberal blog Blue Mass Group, give Democrat Martha Coakley a lead of 49%-41% over Republican Scott Brown, with a ±4% margin of error.

From the internals, Coakley wins Democrats by 82%-12%, Brown wins Republicans by 85%-7%, and Brown wins independents by 49%-36%. If Coakley has indeed solidified Democratic support and is winning even just a significant minority of independents, that should be enough to put her over the finish line in this heavily Dem state.

This is the first publicly-released poll conducted entirely after the final debate from this past Monday.

Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele released a statement today on President Obama's plan to impose a Financial Crisis Responsibility Fee on major banks that received financial assistance from the federal government. Here's the full text:

"President Obama's plans to institute a 'financial crisis responsibility fee' to recoup the bailout funds from major banks is nothing more than another tax on the American public. The fact is this money has already been paid back by the banks and this punitive tax will hurt Americans' savings and discourage job creation at the worse of economic times. However, it will fatten the wallets of Democrats on Capitol Hill by $90 billion over the next ten years. President Obama and Congressional Democrats are taxing banks for the same reason Willie Sutton robbed them - because that's where the money is, and they desperately need these funds to finance their runaway binge spending for their liberal agenda."