TPM News

What's a phone book, you ask? Before smart phones and high-speed internet access, people had to consult a massive book to look up phone numbers. And according to a recent Rasmussen poll, a plurality of voters think the random people inside it would do a better job than the current Congress.

Forty-three percent of respondents said a group of random people selected from the phone book would do a better job addressing the nation's problems than their current representatives. Thirty-eight percent of respondents disagreed and 19 percent weren't sure.

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The conservative group Judicial Watch held a press conference at CPAC on Thursday to discuss an "Election Integrity Project" that they said will force states to purge their voter registration rolls.

Speaking at the event were Catherine Engelbrecht, the Tea Party leader who started a group called True the Vote and J. Christian Adams, the former Justice Department official who quit over DOJ's handling of the New Black Panther Party case.

"I thank God for Judicial Watch stepping up to the plate because it needs to be done," Engelbrecht said, adding that there are problems with the voting rolls "that you can only imagine in your nightmares." 

Judicial Watch described the program as a "major investigative and legal effort to uphold the integrity of the 2012 elections."

President Obama on Thursday will speak on the government's $26 billion mortgage settlement with five of the country's largest banks. The president will deliver remarks at 12:15 p.m. ET in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.

Republicans in Utah have opened up the next front in a battle against public unions being waged in statehouses throughout the nation.

A bill introduced last week in the Utah legislature would ban government employees from collectively bargaining on any issue except for wages and health benefits. The proposal would bar unions from having a say in things like training, equipment and disciplinary procedures.

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The Komen Foundation seemed to be caught off guard by the strong response to its decision to defund Planned Parenthood. The former executive Karen Handel told Fox News upon her resignation that Planned Parenthood had made the matter "political." Meanwhile, an anonymous Komen source told the Huffington Post they'd been caught off-guard by Planned Parenthood's "incredibly sophisticated" operation.

It should not have come as a shock. Planned Parenthood is no stranger to such controversies. TPM spoke with two former Planned Parenthood presidents about why the women's health group had chosen to fight back, and to fight hard.

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At CPAC, Jim DeMint articulated two desires for the Senate in the 2012 election. He wants to take back the Senate, and he wants to do so with particularly far-right candidates. He is unsatisfied with moderate Republicans because he doesn't want to compromise with Democrats. When we do, he said, we borrow more and spend more. For this purpose, DeMint gave a shoutout to his own Senate Conservative Fund which raises money for very conservative candidates.

The intense media debate over the White House push to require all insurance plans to cover contraception is barely 48 hours old. And already some Democrats are bailing on President Obama.

Just like Republicans, Democrats have mixed opinions on choice in their caucus. And pro-life Democrats like Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) have taken a line on the new rule -- opposition and concern -- in keeping with their views.

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In his opening remarks at CPAC, Jim DeMint framed the conference in terms of the problems conservatives face. First, he mentioned debt: we've never been at a point like this, with our debt this high, he said. "We're in a deep hole." Second, DeMint mentioned the safety net: we're also at a point where half of Americans are getting something from government, and the rest are paying for it.