TPM News

The group of Republican attorneys general threatening a constitutional challenge of the so-called "Cornhusker Kickback" in the Senate health bill yesterday wrote a letter to Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi outlining their complaints. 13 AGs, several of whom are running for governor, signed the letter.

The letter has sparked a new round of media coverage, with little analysis of the constitutional arguments being cited. Under the provision in question, all of Nebraska's expanded Medicaid costs would be covered by the federal government, with other states splitting the cost.

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President Obama will learn preliminary results from the review he ordered of the leadup to the attempt terror attack on the Christmas Day Flight 253.

Sources tell TPMDC that Obama, on vacation in Hawaii, will receive a basic readout before the full review is completed. The probe will reportedly show that U.S. government intelligence agencies failed to share key information, a similar criticism in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

It is unlikely the information will be shared with the press and the public.

The Associated Press reported that White House homeland security and counterterrorism adviser John Brennan was planning to send Obama the first summary of the review. The final report also will include recommendations for how to prevent future missteps.

Administration officials believe the review will show a link between Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab and al Qaeda.

Late Update: Brennan also was granted a waiver to participate in the review. More on that here.

Have the Republican political attacks on President Obama over the Flight 253 attempted bombing been working? So far the answer is no, from the polls that have come out since then -- if anything, Obama's approval rating may have gone up slightly.

In the Gallup daily tracking poll released on December 24, before the attack, Obama's approval rating was 51%, with 42% disapproval. In the daily Rasmussen daily tracking poll, conducted during that same baseline period of December 21-23, Obama was at 44%-56% (Rasmussen consistently has Obama's approval lower, and disapproval higher, than other outlets).

In the polls released yesterday, which were both conducted entirely after the attempted bombing, Gallup has Obama at 53%-41%, and Rasmussen has him at 47%-52%. Today's Rasmussen poll is 46%-53%. Although the two polls are in different positions, the movement is roughly the same, with a very slight increase in Obama's approval compared to the week before.

While this movement is obviously too small to suggest there's been a definite improvement for Obama, and there certainly hasn't been any sort of rally-around-the-flag effect, we can definitely rule out any sort of political backlash that Republicans have been trying to create.

In the past week, Democrats and Democratic strategists have tried to publicly box in Republicans on the question of whether they will do the bidding of their right wing base, and try to repeal health care reform if voters send them back to power. But in a sign that Democrats think they've hit a sweet spot, they've begun using the threat of "repealism" as a fundraising tool.

"[T]he GOP is so desperate to stop our progress, before that [health care] vote Republican Senator Tom Coburn literally called on supporters to pray for some Democratic Senator not to be able to make it to the Capitol for the vote," reads an email from Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), sent to a large list in the middle of last week. "And already, Newt Gingrich proclaimed, 'When we get a majority, we're repealing the whole thing.'"

"We can't let them do this," the letter goes on. "We need to not only keep the gains we've made, but expand them."

Kendrick Meek in Florida, Paul Hodes in New Hampshire, and Lee Fisher in Ohio all stood with us in 2004, and they are fighting for us now. They all supported a strong public option in the health care fight, and all stand up for real clean energy reform.

And they're all running in seats currently held by Republicans. Just imagine the change that will bring to the Senate, replacing three Republicans with three great progressives.

Apparently the drive is proving successful.

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Democrats Could Take Power Away From Super-Delegates The Democratic Change Commission, a group convened to re-examine the Democratic Party's nominating process, is proposing that super-delegates be stripped of their power over the presidential nomination, by requiring them to vote with the electoral majorities in their states -- effectively converting them into winner-take-all pledged delegates. "We need to show deference to what the party members in our state have done," said Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), a co-chair of the commission.

Obama To Receive Preliminary Report On Flight 253 President Obama will receive a preliminary report today on the Flight 253 attempted bombing, with recommendations on how to avoid a repeat of an incident in which an individual with suspected terrorist ties was able to board a plane.

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House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn compared health care reform to the struggle to pass the Civil Rights Act, telling a Democratic colleague that people forget the compromises needed decades ago for the legislation to break a filibuster.

In comments at the start of a conference call, Sen. Claire McCaskill made a crack that the political climate has gotten tougher since Fox News became more powerful and said that's one reason why there is opposition to the health care plan.

"The 30-second soundbyte is what's got all this up in the air," agreed Clyburn (D-SC). "Every big social change you go through this. It will take six to eight years before this all settles down."

Their remarks were captured as a Wednesday afternoon conference call about the Democratic National Committee's proposed changes to the presidential 2012 nominating calendar began. The call was open to the press and the public.

Read More →, the Washington Times Web project that was billed as an ambitious "multiplatform" venture to allow "the Joe the Plumbers of the world to speak up to major thinkers, like Newt Gingrich," has gone silent.

Brian Faughnan, editor of the site, tells us the Times has officially canceled the project.

The site, rolled out in September, is no longer loading. Its Facebook page stopped updating the morning of Dec 23, as did the site's Twitter feed ("House Blue Dog: We'll Cave on Health Care, Too #tcot #right").

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Federal agents went to the homes of two bloggers Tuesday to issue subpoenas in an effort to find out who leaked them a memo on the Transportation Security Administration's enhanced security procedures in the wake of the failed Christmas Day terror attack. The agents looked through the computer, Blackberry, and iPhone of one of the bloggers, and told him they'd sit outside his house until he gave them the information they wanted, he says.

On Sunday, Chris Elliott, a well-regarded travel journalist who writes for National Geographic, MSNBC, and the Washington Post, published on his blog a TSA security directive, issued in the hours after the failed bombing incident. The directive, which went to airline, airport, and government personnel, outlined enhanced screening procedures, including performing a "thorough pat-down of all passengers at boarding gate prior to boarding, concentrating on upper legs and torso."

Around the same time, Steven Frischling, who writes a blog for KLM Dutch Royal airlines, posted the same directive.

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