(CNN) - Liberal and conservative bloggers descend on Pittsburgh for the annual conference. CNN Political Editor Mark Preston tells us who, what, when, where and why.
Listen: CNN Political Editor Mark Preston on Netroots Nation.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – A Democratic congresswoman being criticized for chatting on her cell phone during a health care town hall meeting defended her actions Thursday and suggested that the video of the event may have been doctored.
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, told CNN she had dialed into a Congressional hotline to get more details about a question that was being asked by a constituent at the town hall in Houston on Tuesday. House Democratic aides have set up a health care war room located in Majority Leader Steny Hoyer's, D-Maryland, office that is designed to help lawmakers answer questions about the legislation.
"It appears on the video - maybe it's a doctored video - but how I explain it is this: First of all, I take calls from my constituents, but that was not a call that I took," Jackson-Lee said. "I dialed the hotline number to get a better answer."
"It was not disrespectful because I was seeking information for the very town hall I was in," she said. "No offense was intended."
But Jackson Lee would not elaborate when pressed on whether she believes the YouTube video of her talking on the cell phone had been manipulated.
"I know nothing about the video and I'm not going to comment on it," she said. "All I'm going to say to you is, 'I enjoyed speaking to that young mother.'"
(CNN) – A South Carolina Democrat told CNN on Thursday that Republican legislators have assured him there are enough votes to start a bipartisan push for impeachment against Gov. Mark Sanford when the legislative session begins in January.
Rep. Boyd Brown said ranking members of the House Judiciary Committee told him Wednesday that several Republicans on the committee are prepared to team up with Democrats to begin the impeachment process if Sanford doesn’t resign or agree to a full-scale investigation into his travel expenses before the end of the year.
At least one Republican on the Judiciary Committee contacted by CNN Thursday - Rep. Greg Delleney - said he would sign on to an impeachment effort.
The Republican chairman of the committee, Rep. Jim Harrison, said he has not yet had the chance to talk to committee members about where they stand on the matter. But he said the impeachment drumbeat could easily get louder.
“If things are going to continue to dribble out every week with new allegations of misuse of state property, it may reach the point of impeachment pretty quickly,” Harrison said.
Sanford’s travel has come under increased scrutiny since he disappeared from the country to visit his mistress in June.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – More than $57 million has been spent on television commercials in 2009 by organizations seeking to influence the health care debate, a new analysis for CNN shows.
Evan Tracey, president of Campaign Media Analysis Group, said groups that support President Obama's approach to health care reform have dedicated nearly $24 million to run TV ads, while those who oppose it have shelled out an additional $9.6 million.
Organizations that endorse the idea of health care reform, but do not take a political side in the debate, committed $19 million to air TV commercials. And nearly $5 million has been spent by groups that might have a stake in health care reform, but do not support or oppose it.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – David Axelrod, a senior adviser to President Obama, is aiming to debunk online "myths" about the president's health care plan with a viral e-mail of his own.
"Unfortunately, some of the old tactics we know so well are back - even the viral e-mails that fly unchecked and under the radar, spreading all sorts of lies and distortions," Axelrod wrote in the e-mail, which was sent out Thursday. He added, "Right now, someone you know probably has a question about reform that could be answered by what's below. So what are you waiting for? Forward this e-mail."
Calling it "probably one of the longest e-mails I've ever sent," Axelrod split his message up into three topics: "8 ways reform provides security and stability to those with or without coverage," "8 common myths about reform," and "8 reasons we need health insurance reform now."
He tackled a number of contentious issues, among them the rumor that the health care plan would impose euthanasia for senior citizens a "malicious myth." Axelrod also said the new plan would "forbid many forms of rationing" and argued it would help lower health care costs in the long run.
Axelrod encouraged readers to go to an official Web site - whitehouse.gov/realitycheck - which he said would "knock down the rumors and lies that are floating around the Internet."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - A huge spike in the number of people wanting to e-mail their members of Congress about health-care reform has overloaded a key feature on the House of Representatives home page, the House technical office said Thursday.
The "Write your Representative" feature on the Web site, which tells people how to send an e-mail to their congressperson, has been unable to handle the massive increase in traffic, the office said.
An e-mail alert from the technical office went out to all House staff members notifying them of the problem.
"The House domain http://www.house.gov is currently experiencing an increased volume of visitors to Member(s') public Web sites," it said. "Web forms on http://www.house.gov may be slow to process and content may be slow or unresponsive due to the heavy load."
Jeff Ventura, spokesman for the chief administrative officer for the House, told CNN the health-care debate caused a sudden influx of e-mail, resulting in "a degradation of the system."
After the debate on the economic stimulus bill caused the House server to crash earlier this year, he said, engineers installed "load balancing" hardware to handle increased volume.
"Clearly we did not scale up enough," he observed. "We have to look at the capacity of that feature and figure out why we're hitting a ceiling."
Engineers hope to set up new features to keep the problem from recurring, Ventura added.
The statement: Questions about whether those in the United States illegally would be covered by the health-care bill now before the House of Representatives have been a staple of the raucous public meetings some members of Congress have been hosting during their August break. At least two people raised the issue at a forum held by Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Maryland, on Wednesday, and Cardin's insistence that "Illegal aliens will not be in this bill - period - the end" was met with a round of jeers.
(Get the facts and the verdict after the jump)
In the midst of perhaps the most contentious national debate since the Vietnam War, President Obama has nominated a paid consultant for Burger King to be the nation's top doctor.
Can you spell tone-deaf?
Dr. Regina Benjamin has been paid 10-thousand dollars since last year to serve on a scientific advisory board for the company that brings us the Whopper and the B-K Triple Stacker.
According to the Washington Times, Burger King says the doctor was on the company's nutritional advisory panel... which is meant to "promote balanced diets and active lifestyle choices."
The Department of Health and Human Services says Benjamin was advocating for food that was lower in salt and recommending that nutritional information appear on packaging. They add that she will resign from Burger King once she's confirmed by the Senate as surgeon general and will "continue to promote healthy eating and exercise." You want fries with that?
But, many aren't buying it and see a conflict of interest. After all, Burger King is still a fast food joint. And, in a nation where one-third of adults are obese, fast food restaurants aren't helping any.
Since her nomination, Dr. Benjamin has won support from both sides of the aisle, particularly for running a health clinic for the poor after Hurricane Katrina – but there's also been criticism. As we reported in the Cafferty File last month, some believe that the president's selection of an overweight candidate for the nation's top doctor sent the wrong message. Now we find out she works for Burger King.
To read more and contribute to the Cafferty File discussion, click here.
The statement: From David Morris of Portland, Maine: "I'd like to know if under Obama's insurance reform plan, if students like me who turn 25 and can't be on their parents' insurance anymore while they're full-time students will be covered."
(Get the facts and the verdict after the jump)