TPM News

The White House's fiscal commission has become a target for progressive activists in large part because a number of reports and public statements indicate that the panel will recommend benefit cuts to Social Security. Most of the backlash has come from critics calling on the commission's co-chair, Republican Alan Simpson, to resign over controversial public statements he's made about the popular program.

But the commissioners are also grappling with another sensitive entitlement program: Medicare. For a number of reasons, the commission is farther from consensus on Medicare than it is on Social Security: Medicare is a more unwieldy program; the commissioners differ wildly on how to prevent its soaring costs from bankrupting the government; and members have already had a working group meeting dedicated to Social Security in isolation. But the ideological conservatism of the Republicans on the commission -- and, indeed, of the commission as a whole -- combined with Democratic fatigue over health care reform mean that the center of gravity of discussions is tilted to the right.

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The Dove World Outreach Center, the church in Florida whose pastor is planning to burn a pile of Korans this Saturday, trains new ministers in its "Academy" program, which requires students to work in the church's used furniture store unpaid and have no contact with their family.

A "rulebook" for the academy, as well as news reports and the church's own web site, paint a picture of a church that teaches followers total obedience. It's also a church that has expressed solidarity with the Westboro Baptist Church, with pastor Terry Jones and other members wearing "Islam is of the devil" T-shirts at a Westboro protest.

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It appears that the star of Rep. Michele Bachmann's (R-MN) ads, the character known as "Jim the Election Guy" who tells viewers that her Democratic opponent Tarryl Clark loves taxes, has now been identified. And the recent accusation in a Clark ad is correct: He doesn't live in the district -- and his name isn't Jim.

MinnPost reports that "Jim" is in fact a commercial actor named Beau Peregino, who originally hails from Maryland and now lives in California. Peregino did not return their requests for comment, but a former theater professor of his confirmed his identity from the ads, and his publicity photo matches the appearance of "Jim the Election Guy."

Clark responded to the ads with her own new spot, featuring Bachmann constituents who introduce themselves as actually being named Jim. "Not a fake Jim like this guy," says one of the actual Jims, followed by another: "His name's not even Jim!"

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Stephen Colbert had Vice President Joe Biden on his show last night, and asked him the question everyone wants to know: "How does it feel to be the second most important man in America? Do you ever get jealous of me?"

Biden said that he does: "Particularly your hair."

Colbert also mentioned that the Obama Administration gets criticized by conservatives for not giving George W. Bush enough credit. So he asked Biden if he had anything to say to the former president.

Biden said: "Mr. President, thank you. You've honored these guys, you've honored these women, you've honored these troops. And I've known you your entire eight years as president, I've never known a time when you didn't care about -- we've disagreed on policy. You deserve a lot of credit, Mr. President."

Colbert then turned to the camera: "Mr. President, I've never disagreed with you on policy."

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The man who lost his Senate seat in a primary says the race to succeed him will be a brutal one.
Senator Arlen Specter this week weighed in on the contest between Democrat Joe Sestak and Republican Pat Toomey, in some of his first public comments about the race since his loss to Sestak in the May primary.

"It's going to be a dogfight," Specter told The Tribune-Review. "I wouldn't call it a horse race, I'd call it a dogfight."

Sestak and Toomey were set to continue that fight Thursday. Toomey was scheduled to campaign in State College with former Gov. Tom Ridge, while Sestak will be joined in Philadelphia by retiring Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND).

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Fewer Americans have a positive view toward Islam today than in the wake of 9/11. According to the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll of national views on the Cordoba House project in Lower Manhattan and the planet's second-largest religion, just 37% of Americans have a favorable opinion of the Islamic faith. That's "the fewest in ABC/Post polls dating to October 2001 (albeit by just 2 points)," according to the release.

In an ABC/Post poll released Oct. 9, 2001 -- less than a month after the attacks on New York and Washington -- 47% of Americans said they had favorable attitude toward Islam. Today, as we near the ninth anniversary of those attacks, that number is lower by ten points. In those years, the percentage of Americans viewing Islam positively dropped in ABC/Post polling, hovering at around 40% before dropping to it's lowest point in today's poll, which comes after a summer of open vitriol toward Islam by many prominent conservative leaders. The last time this few Americans told pollsters that they had a favorable view toward Islam came when American forces were still hunting down Saddam Hussein in Iraq -- back in September, 2003.

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Jon Stewart was very troubled last night by Terry Jones, the Florida pastor who is planning to burn copies of the Koran on September 11. "I'm seeing a pattern now of extremism in Christianity that a lot of Americans are finding very troubling," he said.

But Daily Show correspondent John Oliver defended Christians: "That radical hate-spewing extremist does not reflect the views of the vast majority of moderate, peaceful Christians. In fact, this man is fucking crazy. He no more represents Christians than Dr. Laura represents the United Negro College Fund."

But Stewart still had questions: "Where's the money coming from for these extremists? Who's funding these radical Christian clerics?"

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Emanuel's Expected Departure From White House Likely To Be Just The First The Washington Post reports: "The expected departure of Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel to run for mayor of Chicago is likely to mark the beginning of a wider White House shake-up, officials said Wednesday, one aimed at helping the administration regain its footing in the aftermath of anticipated Democratic losses in the midterm elections and positioning President Obama for a tough 2012 reelection fight. Such a reorganization is not unusual at this point in a presidency and particularly in a White House such as Obama's, which has been running full out for two years - grappling with two wars, a financial crisis and an ambitious policy agenda. Many of its key players have begun to let it be known that they are burned out and looking for an exit or a new role."

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama and Vice President Biden will receive the presidential daily briefing at 10 a.m. ET, and Obama will meet at 10:30 a.m. ET with senior advisers. Obama will meet at 1:30 p.m. ET with Secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner.

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