TPM News

In addition to containing the much-hyped racial comments made by Harry Reid, "Game Change," the new book by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann about the 2008 presidential campaign, suggests that the McCain campaign's vetting of Sarah Palin was rushed and haphazard. Speaking on The Today Show this morning, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) deflected questions about the vetting of Palin, saying he won't spend time looking back on the campaign.

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The Rothenberg Political Report today changed Sen. Harry Reid's (D-NV) seat from "toss-up" to "leans takeover."

"New polling confirms that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D) is mired near 40% in general election ballot tests against all potential opponents, even those voters know nothing about," Rothenberg states.

Polls for the past several months show Reid hovering between 40 and 43 percent against Republican opponents such as Sue Lowden, former chairman of the Nevada Republican Party; Sharron Angle, a former state assemblyman; and Danny Tarkanian, a realtor and perennial candidate for state office.

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Amid a busy news week, the indictment Wednesday of a pair of former Blackwater contractors for the alleged murder of two Afghan civilians hasn't gotten much attention. But the case has the potential to become a big problem for the U.S. war in Afghanistan, and for Blackwater's future business [prospects](http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2009/12/blackwater_already_on_the_ground_in_afghanistan_gu.php) in that country.

The particulars of what happened last May 5 -- including whether the contractors had been drinking and whether they were acting in self-defense -- are in dispute, but everyone agrees the shooting occurred after a traffic accident in Kabul.

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Defeated last week in the state legislature, gay marriage supporters in New Jersey have vowed to renew their bid to legalize marriage via the judicial system.

Garden State Equality, the group at the head of the New Jersey fight, and Lambda Legal, a national gay-rights legal organization, are planning to take their case to the New Jersey Supreme Court.

Lambda Legal spokesman Leslie Gabel-Brett said the group expects to "be able to file legal action in a matter of weeks."

Although Gabel-Brett wouldn't get into legal specifics, the group will likely try to prove that the legislature, in passing a civil unions law in 2006, did not fulfill an order from the New Jersey Supreme Court to grant same-sex couples equal rights.

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Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA), who wants Sen. Arlen Specter's (D-PA) Senate seat, is needling his opponent over his role in preventing the confirmation of one of President Obama's top Justice Department nominees.

In a letter to Specter, Sestak lays the fact that Johnsen's nomination stagnated and expired at his rival's feet. "Senator Specter, President Obama is giving you a second chance to support his nominee to lead the Office of Legal Counsel," Specter writes.

After you joined your Republican colleagues in successfully blocking Professor Dawn Johnsen from receiving a fair up-or-down vote last year, the President has decided to resubmit her nomination this year.

With Democrat Senator Ben Nelson opposed to Johnsen, but Republican Senator Richard Lugar strongly in favor, that means that all it takes is your vote to put a principled, qualified progressive in this key position.


Sestak goes on to allege that Specter might not want Johnsen--known for being a strong critic of Bush administration policies--to have the power to pull back the veil on a number of government scandals.

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Two former Bush EPA officials -- now industry lobbyists -- helped Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) write a measure aimed at blocking the agency from limiting global warming emissions.

Jeffrey Holmstead and Roger Martella, Jr. helped the Alaska senator write an amendment that she intended to offer last fall, which would have prevented the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating carbon dioxide as a pollutant under the Clean Air Act, the Washington Post reported yesterday. Holmstead, an assistant administrator for air and radiation a EPA during the Bush years, is now a lobbyist at Bracewell & Guiliani, where his clients include Southern Company and Duke Energy. Martella, who was the Bush EPA's general counsel, now lobbbies at Sidley Austin, representing timber industry interests, among others.

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In an RNC fund-raising email sent out today, chairman Michael Steele claims that Senate Democrats passed health care reform "in the dark of night on Christmas Eve."

But that's another fib from the embattled chairman. Health care reform passed the Senate by a vote of 60 to 39 at about 7:15 on Christmas Eve morning.

To be fair, sunrise that day wasn't until about 10 minutes later. But that's certainly not the "dark of night."

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