TPM News

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is on a kick. Personally frustrated, and under pressure from the left, Reid has decided to take direct aim at Republican obstruction, and he's doing so in angry terms.

"For anybody watching, what's taken place the last three years knows the Republicans have become experts in wasting time, the American taxpayers' time, the American people's time, and yesterday was no exception," Reid said on the Senate floor Wednesday.

Democrats can't pass off all of the blame for the glacial pace of progress in the last several months. With a 60-member caucus, they in theory have sufficient numbers to overcome GOP filibusters of key agenda items, if they could only agree to stay united. But even if they did muscle their agenda through the procedural labyrinth of the Senate, they still wouldn't be able to stop the foot-dragging.

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In the wake of the NY-23 right-wing revolt, could the GOP be on the verge of seeing even more challenges from the activist right? Some recent developments suggest that the natives are getting restless.

• NRCC chairman Pete Sessions is being challenged in the Republican primary by David Smith, a corporate financial analyst. Smith told us that the NY-23 mess was not a factor in his decision -- but it should help him in attacking Sessions: "It's nice to have my opponent in the national news for a bad reason at the same time I'm announcing my candidacy."

• Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite (R-FL) is facing a Republican primary challenge from Jason Sager, a currently unemployed audio-visual engineer. Sager specifically cited Brown-Waite's having campaigned for Dede Scozzafava, the moderate Republican nominee in NY-23 who ultimately dropped out of the race and endorsed Democrat Bill Owens, as a reason for his challenge.

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At yesterday's tea party rally on Capitol Hill, at least one protester brandished a large graphic photograph of the victims of the Dachau Nazi concentration camp, comparing health care reform to Nazi policies. Today, Rep. Eric Cantor's (R-VA) spokesman called the photograph "inappropriate."

Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY) has also condemned the poster.

Cantor, in an interview today with Bloomberg, also offered some criticism of radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh's comparison of President Obama to Adolf Hitler.

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Perhaps we didn't give American Police Force chief Michael Hilton enough credit earlier this week when we reported on his excuse for not handing over works of art to help pay off a hefty fraud judgment in California. Now Hilton, who has admitted the APF deal in Hardin, Montana, was bogus, has allowed a courier for one of his victims to take the art from his Santa Barbara home.

But, as the Billings Gazette reports, Hilton's description of the works, which he claims are his only assets and include a rendering of Mother Theresa, was false:

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The RNC recently sent out a fundraising letter that includes a "survey" about President Obama's "agenda" that the Washington Post is calling a dishonest push poll.

"Are you in favor of reinstituting the military draft, as Democrats in Congress have proposed?" one question on the 15-question survey reads.

TPM obtained a copy of "2009 Obama Agenda Survey" sent to one Kansas voter. Read it here.

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Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY) has posted this YouTube video, condemning the use of Holocaust imagery at yesterday's Capitol Hill Tea Party, and calling out Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) for organizing the event, as well as the Republican leaders who attended.

Israel made it clear that he believes in the basic right to free speech, and that he took an oath to defend the Constitution and the rights of people that he disagrees with: "But with that right comes a responsibility by leaders to condemn that kind of expression. I just cannot believe that Congresswoman Bachmann sponsored and brought to the American people the use of images from the Holocaust, actual photographs of the skeletal remains of people from the crematoria, in order to make a point about the health insurance bill."

"I can't believe that Congresswoman Bachmann would stand where she stood, and see those images, and not have the common decency to say, 'I disagree with the use of those images.' I think that she owes the memory of those who perished in the Holocaust an apology. She owes us all an apology. And I'm waiting. We're all waiting.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is gearing up to possibly hold Saturday Senate sessions all the way into December, Roll Call reports:

Reid hopes to spend the bulk of the month on the Senate's health care reform bill, but the chamber also will need to complete the annual spending bills that fund the government. The current stopgap appropriations bill expires Dec. 18.

Democratic aides said Reid told Senators this week of the possibility of multiple Saturday sessions, and he has been seeking to line up Members to serve as the Senate's presiding officer on Saturdays.

Rep. Steve King (R-IA) is calling the Tea Partiers back to D.C.

Much like Rep. Michele Bachmann did last week, King is calling on Tea Partiers to head to the Capitol and protest the Democratic health care reform bill. King is calling on the protesters to meet at 1 p.m. tomorrow, the day the House is expected to hold its floor vote on the bill.

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Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX), the chairman of the NRCC, may have another problem on his hands in addition to the House GOP's recent woes in the NY-23 race: A primary challenge from a conservative activist back home.

David Smith, a corporate financial analyst, has declared his candidacy against Sessions in the Republican primary, citing the budget deficit, federal spending, and Sessions' votes for the Wall Street bailout as his main issues.

In an interview with TPM, Smith said that he has participated in Tea Parties as an activist, though he has not been an organizer, and explained that those events are motivated by the same issues of spending in Washington that he's long been concerned about. "And that begun under Republican control of the House and Senate and Republican control of the White House," said Smith. "I know it didn't boil over into marches in the streets and to the White House until a Democrat got elected, but that happened because Republicans weren't doing what people wanted, and Pete was a part of that."

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