TPM News

With its bevy of tech companies and biotech researchers, San Francisco has become renowned around the world as the epicenter of new ideas, change and innovation.

So when companies come to town wanting to offer San Franciscans new ways of accessing the internet, it might come as a surprise that this isn't the easiest town in which to be a telecommunications provider.

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The vote counter for House Democrats says Republicans shouldn't expect any Democratic votes for raising the debt limit unless they relent on their demand for deep program cuts and their refusal to consider any new tax revenues.

"I think if what the Republicans do is try to hold hostage the creditworthiness of the United States of America so that they can slash programs that are critically important to the American people and to stabilizing and growing the economy...they ought not to expect us to support that," Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) told reporters at his weekly briefing Tuesday.

Hoyer has acknowledged recently, and repeated today, that Republicans need Democratic votes to help the country avoid a default. Scores of House GOP members have pledged to vote against lifting the debt ceiling under all feasible circumstances, and that means preventing a default on the debt will require a bipartisan agreement.

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A new survey of Utah from Public Policy Polling (D) finds a surprising result: That in this deep, deep, deep-red state, Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson could potentially be a competitive -- or even winning -- candidate for U.S. Senate.

Matheson, a Blue Dog Democrat, was tested against incumbent six-term Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch, plus GOP Rep. Jason Chaffetz, who could potentially challenge Hatch for the Republican nomination. The result showed Matheson edging out Hatch by 45%-44%, and leading Chaffetz by 47%-42%.

The poll showed Matheson with a 59% favorable rating, to 28% unfavorable. Two other Democrats were tested -- former state Attorney General Jan Graham, and 2010 Senate nominee and state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control chairman Sam Granato -- and they both trailed Hatch and Chaffetz by martins of about 20 points in all cases.

Of course, it should be noted that the idea of a Democratic senator from Utah does fall into the category of "believe it when you see it." And even then, you'd still have your doubts.

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The leader of the group behind the contentious Marriage Vow in Iowa says he's not really trying to ban pornography -- that's just unrealistic, he says. But he is trying to protect women from porn. And he's trying to keep an eye on Sharia Islam, even though he really doesn't know what that is.

Salon's Justin Elliott interviewed former Iowa gubernatorial candidate Bob Vander Plaats (R), whose Marriage Vow has caused more than a little agita for the two Republican presidential candidates who signed it.

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Texas Governor Rick Perry (R) is organizing a giant prayer-fest to help tackle the nation's problems, but some of its celebrated participants have unusual ideas about exactly what's wrong in America today. For example: mass pagan worship of the demonic Statue of Liberty.

The website for Perry's "The Response" lists Dr. John Benefiel of the Heartland Apostolic Prayer Network prominently on its website as one of the event's endorsers, but Benefiel's vision of America is one that excludes Lady Liberty and her evil, secular, French Freemason agenda. Right Wing Watch recently posted video of a Benefiel sermon in which he condemned the famed Statue of Liberty, one of the nation's most beloved icons and a symbol of hope to incoming immigrants for over a century, as a "demonic idol" and "false goddess" sent to turn Americans away from God.

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The 112th Congress will be the first and last shared by Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) and his son, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY).

Ron Paul tells the Clute, TX The Facts newspaper that he won't be seeking another term in the House next year, choosing instead to focus all his attention on running for the presidency once again.

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Alan Grayson, the liberal firebrand best known for his combative style and otherworldly ability to raise cash, is plotting a return to Congress after being ousted in 2010.

And in case you were worried his defeat at the hands of Rep. Dan Webster (R-FL) has mellowed him out, fret not. In an interview with TPM, Grayson, stood by his famous claim that the Republican health care plan is to "die quickly," among other similar policy prescriptions.

"It's exactly like I said, the Republican health care plan: don't get sick," he said. "The Republican unemployment plan: go find a job. The Republican homelessness plan: move in with your relatives. They have no answers to anything."

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House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa is asking President Barack Obama's top lawyer for documents related to White House fundraising activities which the California Republican thinks may be against the law.

Specifically, Issa is highlighting meetings held at the White House back in March that were organized by the Democratic National Committee. One of the former Bush administration officials who testified at a hearing last month on the Hatch Act -- the law restricting the political activities of federal employees -- said that those meetings appeared to be in violation of the law.

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Burned by the fact that their prescription for reducing the deficit and increasing the national borrowing limit either can't pass in Congress or doesn't cut spending enough to warrant, in their minds, a significant debt ceiling hike, House Republicans returned to the Capitol Tuesday to ratchet up their demands, and shirk responsibility for avoiding default.

"Where's the President's plan?" asked House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) at a press stakeout after a GOP caucus meeting. "When's he going to lay his cards on the table? This debt limit increase is his problem."

This is a massive departure for Boehner and the GOP, who before the debt limit brinksmanship became central to U.S. politics, regularly acknowledged that raising the debt limit was his, and Congress', imperative. Today, he and other caucus leaders answered President Obama's demand that the GOP figure out a way to raise the debt limit through 2012 by offering to toss non-starter Republican wish-list items back into the negotiating mix.

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