TPM News

Self-proclaimed housing historian Newt Gingrich had two contracts with mortgage company Freddie Mac and was paid between $1.6 million and $1.8 million in consulting fees, two sources familiar with the agreements have told Bloomberg.

Mitchell Delk, Freddie Mac's chief lobbyist, was Gingrich's key contact. But Delk told Bloomberg that Gingrich -- who was paid a monthly retainer of $25,000 to $30,000 between May 1999 until 2002 -- "did not do any lobbying" and was instead provided counsel on public policy issues.

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It's hard to see how the Super Committee can possibly reach a consensus by this time next week after Republican co-chair Jeb Hensarling's appearance on CNBC Tuesday night. The short version is that he left the ball in Democrats court, and hinted that if the committee fails, Congress will spend the next year or so trying to change the terms of an automatic penalty to make sure that hundreds of billions of cuts to defense programs never take effect.

Hensarling claimed that if the committee recommended even a dollar of new net tax revenue -- the kind of revenue Dems are demanding -- it would constitute a step in the wrong direction. He said a GOP plan put forward by Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) -- one which Republicans claim would raise revenues by nearly $300 billion over 10 years, but would also make the Bush tax cuts permanent -- is as far as Republicans are willing to go on revenues. But that's an offer Democrats flatly rejected as unserious. And unless one of the parties breaks cleanly with its publicly stated position, the committee will either fall well short of reducing the deficit by $1.2 trillion over 10 years as required by law, or will fail altogether.

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Apple on Tuesday moved to fill a critical vacancy left in the wake of the death of Steve Jobs.

The company announced it had appointed Arthur "Art" D. Levinson, chairman of biotech company Genentech and a longtime Apple board member, to the position of chairman, last occupied by Jobs.

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Protestors with Occupy D.C. just took over the D.C. headquarters of Brookfield Properties, which owns Zuccotti Park (location of the Occupy Wall Street protests). TPM was there and took this video.

Arguing against an amendment designed to narrow the scope of America's cyber security laws that was recently accepted by the Senate, the Justice Department's deputy chief of computer crime on Tuesday told lawmakers that his agency should be given the power to prosecute Web users who violate online "terms of service" or "terms of use" agreements.

In a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee's subcommittee on crime, terrorism and homeland security, Richard Downing, the Justice Department's deputy chief of computer crime, testified in part that "customers who intentionally exceed those [terms of service] limitations and obtain access to the business's proprietary information and the information of other customers" should be eligible for prosecution under U.S. cyber law, according to his prepared statement.

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Aside from the epic fail moments like Rick Perry forgetting his own policies, the best moments of the GOP debates so far have almost undoubtedly been the introductions.

Grandiose, otiose and verbose, you could be forgiven for thinking they're teasing some epic Hollywood movie, rather than a handful of middle-aged people bickering on stage. Here's TPM's tribute to this underappreciated part of campaign kitsch: the Ultimate Debate Intro Mash-up.

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About a week ago, Republicans on the Super Committee offered Democrats a plan they themselves claimed would raise new tax revenues. Setting aside specifics, Democrats treated it as a crack in the dam -- the first indication the GOP's alliance with anti-tax activists was starting to crumble.

Democrats ultimately rejected it. But so too did Grover Norquist, which suggests it really did violate his pledge (which most Republicans have taken) never to raise effective tax rates. Fast forward to Monday, Norquist told The Hill, "I've talked to the House leadership and the Senate leadership. They're not going to be passing any tax increases.... If Republicans raise taxes now, they don't win the Senate, and if Republicans raise taxes now they might not keep the House."

Logically, this means one of four things:

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At a campaign stop in Iowa, Rick Santorum questioned whether President Obama "wants to be President of the United States or president of the international community" -- and also declared that America must back up Israel in an inevitable military strike against Iran.

The Des Moines Register reports that at an event in Anamosa (one county over from Cedar Rapids), Santorum discussed last week's report by the International Atomic Energy Agency, saying that there is a "credible case" that Iran is trying to develop a nuclear device.

"They have the capability of doing it. They just haven't done it yet. This is a very dangerous thing," Santorum said, explaining that this was more dangerous than nuclear weapons in other countries, because Iran is a "radical Islamist theocracy."

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There are ways to deal with protesters gracefully at a campaign event, and then there's kicking a Navy veteran out of your rally because she's wearing a t-shirt you don't like.

Melissa Harmon tells TPM she was given the latter treatment by Mitt Romney staffers at an event in Columbia, SC Tuesday. Harmon, who was discharged honorably from the Navy under Don't Ask, Don't Tell before the policy changed, showed up at the rally to protest Romney's suggestion that VA benefits should be at least partially privatized.

Harmon, like a lot of veterans, is worried about the idea. But she said the Romney campaign thought her form of protest -- a handwritten T-shirt -- was too hot to handle and so she was kicked out of the Columbia event. There's video to back up her story, but it's somewhat vague.

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Newt Gingrich's combative performances over the course of at least umpteen GOP debates have finally put him at the top of the field. However, amnesia seems to have set in among the Republican electorate, since it wasn't that long ago that everyone had written him off completely. Evan McMorris-Santoro dusts off the skeletons that are still dangling in that very open closet.

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