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So what exactly is the deal with Sen. Jim DeMint's (R-SC) trip to Honduras -- which is being done in an effort to support the recent military coup, contrary to current U.S. foreign policy -- and the failed effort by Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) to stop it?

Frederick Jones, communications director for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a Kerry spokesman, explained the distinction to us: Kerry was not blocking DeMint from going to Honduras -- any American can legally travel there -- but the issue was over government funding and plane travel for an official fact-finding mission. "Clearly, as an American citizen, Sen. DeMint is free to travel to Honduras commercially."

Kerry, as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, blocked DeMint's funding because DeMint has been holding up key nominations for foreign policy officials in Latin America -- thus obstructing the committee's business and the U.S. government overall in working on the region. In response, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) stepped in and obtained the funding for DeMint from another source, which has not yet been identified.

Calls to the DeMint and McConnell offices were not returned. Jones' statement, firing back at DeMint for blocking the nominations, is available after the jump.

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If Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid does not ultimately decide to include a public option in Senate health care legislation before he brings a bill to the floor, it could have important consequences for the fate of the public option.

As I've noted before, the public option would then have to be added to the bill by amendment, or, failing that, in a contentious conference committee with the House of Representatives.

Neither option is particularly straightforward: The latter route would ask Democratic conservatives whether they'd support a filibuster to kill a health care bill with a public option--brave, but dangerous. The former will be a daunting climb.

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Some in the far-flung reaches of the right wing have been chattering that President Obama's memoir, Dreams From My Father, was really written by radical activist Bill Ayers.

At a recent book festival, National Journal (sub. req.) put the question to Ayers himself.

"Here's what I'm going to say. This is my quote. Be sure to write it down: 'Yes, I wrote Dreams From My Father. I ghostwrote the whole thing. I met with the president three or four times, and then I wrote the entire book.'" He released National Journal's arm, and beamed in Marxist triumph. "And now I would like the royalties."


Much of the conspiracy theory chatter comes from conservative writerJack Cashill, who also claims Ayers got Obama into Harvard -- even though the two didn't meet until after Obama arrived in Chicago. Christopher Andersen, who recently released a book about the First Couple's marriage, also claims Ayers helped Obama extensively with the memoir.

Even by the standards of Texas's enthusiasm for state-sanctioned killing, this is pretty shocking...

A Texas scientific panel has been looking into possible missteps in a criminal investigation of a 1991 arson case which led to the execution of Cameron Todd Willingham. A recent New Yorker story about the case laid out compelling evidence that Willingham may well have been wrongly put to death.

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Rush Limbaugh is definitely not happy with former McCain campaign manager Steve Schmidt, who said that a Palin campaign for president would be "catastrophic."

Limbaugh, who has been a long-time Palin fan, gave this comment to Greg Sargent:

I think it's time for the McCain crowd to acknowledge they are losers and pack it in. They've done enough damage to the Republican Party. Move aside and let a brighter, more principled, and more competent generation of people clean up the mess they helped create.

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) may believe health care reform will be President Obama's Waterloo. But the coup in Honduras may become DeMint's Little Bighorn.

DeMint announced earlier this week that he planned to visit the Central American nation to offer support to the illegitimate government of Roberto Micheletti, who was installed into power after the military overthrew President Manuel Zelaya on orders of the Honduran Supreme Court.

But the Obama administration, which has been unsupportive of the coup, and has begun to revoke the visas of the coup's wealthy supporters, ain't havin' none of that. Last night, the White House, with an assist from Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry deep-sixed DeMint's plans.

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That famous infighting of the core McCain campaign versus Sarah Palin is still continuing, with former McCain campaign manager Steve Schmidt openly saying at the Atlantic's "First Draft of History" symposium that it would be "catastrophic" if Palin were to win the Republican nomination in 2012.

Schmidt said: "I think that she has talents, but you know, my honest view is that she would not be a winning candidate for the Republican Party in 2012, and in fact, were she to be the nominee, we could have a catastrophic election result."

It's sure been a long journey for Schmidt, as far as his attitudes on Palin are concerned. The Los Angeles Times reported in October 2008 that Schmidt himself pushed McCain into picking her. After Karl Rove said the pick was a campaign decision, and not a governing decision, Schmidt fired back: "Karl's wrong. She's an exceptional governor, a reform governor in Alaska."

But with the campaign long over -- and Palin's performance regarded as disastrous by everyone except her core fan-base -- Schmidt is sure singing a different tune.



Late Update: The transcription of Schmidt has been corrected slightly, based on the video.

The White House released a statement from the President commending the Senate Finance Committee for its hearing on health care reform:

"Thanks to the unyielding commitment of Senator Baucus and members of the Senate Finance Committee, we have reached another milestone in our effort to pass health insurance reform. Over the past two weeks, the Committee has engaged in long hours of thoughtful deliberation and vigorous debate. They have considered hundreds of amendments, and incorporated many of the best ideas from both parties. And they have shown a spirit of civility, a seriousness of purpose, and a willingness to compromise that embodies our democratic process at its very best.

"The Finance Committee's work is the culmination of tireless efforts over the better part of this year by the five committees and many members of Congress involved in health reform - holding numerous hearings and bi-partisan meetings; reaching out to stakeholders across the spectrum; and striving to find common ground. As a result of this work, we are now closer than ever before to finally passing reform that will offer security to those who have coverage and affordable insurance to those who don't. We have a long way to go, but I am confident that as we move forward, we will continue to engage with each other as productively as the members of the Finance Committee, and will get reform passed this year."

Obama Meets With McChrystal President Obama met today with Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the head of American and NATO troops in Afghanistan. McChrystal flew to Copenhagen from London, and the two met for 25 minutes on Air Force One.

Obama's Day: Campaigning For The Olympics President Obama arrived in Copenhagen at 2:10 a.m. ET (8:10 a.m. local time). He delivered remarks at the Chicago 2016 presentation at 2:50 a.m. ET, and he and other Chicago 2016 panel members participated in a 3:40 a.m. ET question and answer session with IOC members. Obama and the First Lad attended an informal IOC reception at 4 a.m. ET, and they were greeted at 4:45 a.m. ET by Queen Margrethe II and Prince Consort Henrik. Obama met at 5:20 a.m. ET with Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen. They departed from Copenhagen at 6:55 a.m. ET, and are scheduled to arrive back at the White House at 3:30 p.m. ET. Obama will deliver brief remarks at 4 p.m. ET.

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