TPM News

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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National Democrats have a new ad in the Wisconsin state Senate recalls, on the same day that voters are headed to polls for some very peculiar primaries.

Tuesday's primaries will see the official Democratic challengers facing fake Democratic primary opponents -- that is, Republican activists planted by the state GOP, in an effort to stir up trouble and delay the general elections (a delay that Republicans are already taking advantage of, with an expedited redistricting push). The polls will close at 8 p.m. CT.

The new ad from the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee features a woman with small children, who attacks state Sen. Randy Hopper. "I guess I'm like every Mom. I want to make sure that my kids get a really good education -- and in this economy, it's more important than ever," the woman says. "So I can't understand how Senator Hopper thinks it's okay to cut nearly $800 million from our schools.

"Politicians like Randy Hopper always say there's no money - but he found a way to give tax breaks to big corporations, and rich folks like himself. Randy Hopper may be in touch with the politicians in Madison, but he's really out of touch with the folks back home."

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A Democratic source passes along a memo listing cuts to Medicare and Medicaid that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) proposed at a contentious White House debt limit meeting on Monday.

The cuts themselves were first identified by a bipartisan working group of legislators led by Vice President Joe Biden as cuts that could garner bipartisan support -- contingent on the assumption that Republicans agree to put new tax revenue of some kind on the table.

President Obama reportedly rejected this proposal on the grounds that the GOP has refused anything other than revenue-neutral deficit reduction. A Cantor spokesman was not immediately available for comment.

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Are you gay and wish you weren't? In Minnesota, there's a Bachmann who can help you out with that.

Two gay former patients of Marcus Bachmann's Lake Elmo, MN counseling center are talking to the press about the so-called homosexual "reparative therapy" Bachmann offers at his clinic. Bachmann -- husband of surging presidential contender Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) -- has long denied he peddles the universally-rejected theory that prayer and Bible study can turn a gay person straight. But now there's video that shows reparative therapy was on offer at the clinic just weeks ago.

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The second-highest ranking Democrat in the Senate, and one of eight members of Congress working with President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden to craft a high-stakes deal to raise the national borrowing limit, painted a gloomy picture of the current state of negotiations.

In a brief interview in the Senate press gallery shortly after he returned from a tense and unproductive White House meeting with Republicans on Monday, a visibly frustrated Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) explained why a deal to raise the debt ceiling remains so far off.

"It was frank and candid -- that's what they say when people are on edge," Durbin said. "So we have a long way to go."

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