In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Georgia Rep. Hank Johnson proposed legislation on Thursday aimed at demilitarizing domestic police forces, amid national criticism of heavily armed cops going after protesters in Ferguson, Mo.

"Our main streets should be a place for business, families, and relaxation, not tanks and M16s," the Democratic congressman wrote in a "Dear Colleague" letter to members of Congress. "Unfortunately ... our local police are quickly beginning to resemble paramilitary forces."

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The images coming out of Ferguson, Mo., in the last few days have been harrowing, and one element in particular has shocked those watching the events unfold. American law enforcement decked out in military fatigues, patrolling the streets in armored vehicles that look like they were plucked out of Afghanistan or Iraq.

And the thing is, they very well might have been. The Ferguson and St. Louis County police departments have both received equipment from the U.S. military through what's known as the 1033 program, a federal program that the American Civil Liberties Union says has been a key catalyst to the broader escalation of law enforcement force in the United States.

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It was one of Barack Obama's signature promises during the 2008 campaign: he would fight the notorious influence of special interests by imposing strict rules against lobbyists in the federal government on his watch.

One day after becoming president, he signed his "revolving door ban" in an executive order prohibiting anyone in his administration from working on issues, or in agencies, they might have lobbied in the previous two years.

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As war between Israelis and Palestinians raged in Gaza again in recent weeks, President Barack Obama signed a bill to provide another $225 million to Israel's Iron Dome missile defense system. But what if the U.S. government is pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into a system that isn't nearly as effective as it is claimed to be?

It seems unthinkable by the official record. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest praised the system by saying it has "saved countless Israeli lives." Time magazine wrote in 2012, a year after the system's premiere, that Iron Dome was the "most-effective, most-tested missile shield the world has ever seen."

The federal government has so far given its closest Mideast ally about $700 million to develop the system, the Defense Department told TPM, and the Israeli military says Iron Dome — which fires missiles to take down incoming rockets heading into Israeli population centers — has a success rate of about 85 percent.

But independent research by an MIT professor who specializes in ballistics has called that official figure into question. In fact, according to the analysis by Ted Postol, the Iron Dome system might actually disarm as little as 5 percent of the rockets it attempts to intercept. The number could be higher, depending on a number of variables, but the bottom line argument is that the system is not nearly as successful in stopping rockets being fired into Israel as official sources suggest.

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When President Barack Obama told donors on Monday night to help Democrats because "we're going to have Supreme Court appointments" he may or may not have been talking about his own final years in office.

But he was right that several justices are statistically likely to retire in the coming years. None of them have revealed plans to step down, and if all of them stick around through the end of Obama's term, the 2016 presidential election could lead to a cataclysmic reshaping of the Supreme Court, and with it the country.

As of Election Day in 2016, three of the nine justices will be more than 80 years old. A fourth will be 78.

The average retirement age for a Supreme Court justice is 78.7, according to a 2006 study by the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy.

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The 24 states which refused to expand Medicaid under Obamacare are poised to give up $423.6 billion in federal funds over a decade and keep 6.7 million residents uninsured, according to a new study by the Urban Institute and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

"In the 24 states that have not expanded Medicaid, 6.7 million residents are projected to remain uninsured in 2016 as a result. These states are foregoing $423.6 billion in federal Medicaid funds from 2013 to 2022, which will lessen economic activity and job growth," the authors wrote.

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There were two surprising pieces of news out of Hawaii over the weekend. The first was the decisive defeat of Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie (D). The other was the tiny margin of votes separating incumbent Sen. Brian Schatz and Rep. Colleen Hanabusa in the Hawaii Democratic primary for U.S. Senate, despite the fact that polling for most of the race showed Schatz with a comfortable lead over Hanabusa.

As of early Monday morning eastern time Schatz was leading Hanabusa by a razor thin 1,635 vote lead or 49.3 percent to 48.6 percent, according to The Associated Press's count of the election results. That's a small margin and doesn't totally mean Hanabusa is done. Here are a number of factors that could still decide the Senate primary.

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Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) has been one of the shining stars of the 2010's Republican gubernatorial class. He has scored conservative victories like controversial right-to-work legislation, but he's also tacked toward the center on other issues like Obamacare's Medicaid expansion.

Terri Lynn Land served eight years as Michigan secretary of state, a well-liked political insider with an excellent paper resume for a Senate candidacy. She is one of the key cogs in the GOP's efforts to turn the the upper chamber over this fall.

They sound like natural allies. So where's the love? Snyder's campaign wouldn't discuss their relationship. Land's campaign initially told TPM that the candidates would appear together at an event this Saturday, but then reversed, saying it had been a mistake. It's all a bit inexplicable as Republicans look to score important electoral victories in a state that tends to go blue when the races are statewide.

"Detached." That was the word of choice when Michigan political observers were asked by TPM about the relationship between Land and Snyder.

Their campaign appearances so far can be a little tough to pin down. The Land campaign pointed to a recent appearance in Traverse City, in an apparent reference to the National Cherry Festival last month, though it didn't respond when asked if Land and Snyder had actually appeared at the same place at the same time. The Land campaign also pledged "multiple joint events" in the future despite the Saturday event mix-up.

"Terri Lynn Land and Governor Snyder are committed to moving the state forward," the Land campaign said in a statement. The Snyder campaign declined to comment on the record.

Bill Ballenger, a former GOP state legislator and long-time political analyst at Inside Michigan Politics, contrasted the Land-Snyder relationship with another incumbent GOP governor who helped a fellow Republican snag an open Senate seat 20 years ago.

Then-Gov. John Engler handpicked Spencer Abraham to run alongside him in 1994 for Michigan's Senate seat, and the pair appeared together constantly on the campaign trail. Engler won re-election with a resounding 62 percent of the vote, while Abraham took 52 percent and an improbable spot in the Senate, one he would lose six years later to Debbie Stabenow with an Engler-less ballot.

"Engler did everything he could to help Spencer Abraham. They were the opposite of Snyder and Land," Ballenger said. "She's just not somebody who's going to underscore his strengths. She's not a soul mate. When you had Engler and Abraham, you had two guys who were everything wrapped up into two. In Snyder and Land, you've got a bifurcation. Just a totally different situation."

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