TPM News

The wait is over: Kendrick Meek just fired his first return volley of the Democratic primary -- a race that until now had been dominated by billionaire investor Jeff Greene's millions in television ad spending. Befitting the nature of the increasingly nasty Democratic fight, Meek's first spot is an attack ad, smacking Greene hard for making money betting on the downturn in the housing market.

Meek's ad hits the airwaves just as signs have begun to show that Greene's multimillion-dollar ad campaign -- which has targeted Meek with negative attacks as well as sought to build Greene's own name ID -- has struggled to knock Meek out of the primary fight, despite Meek's lack of advertising and extremely low name ID.

The Meek campaign has touted a PPP (D) poll released last week that showed, despite Greene's spending (he even ran an ad in the Washington, DC media market attacking Meek for a time), that Meek still has a slim lead despite having not spent a dime on TV advertising so far. What's more, the poll shows Greene with a negative approval rating among Florida's voters, who he's been free to bombard with ads for months.

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Even as the administration began sounding a more positive note on the potential of Elizabeth Warren earning President Obama's nod for the newly-created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, she's emerged as the clear progressive favorite for the post.

Obama's team has recently seemed to warm to the idea that Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd splashed cold water on last week, with Press Secretary Robert Gibbs saying this afternoon that she's "terrific."

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On his radio show today, Glenn Beck defended repeatedly trashing the Tides Foundation over the last year -- saying that he is just trying to "turn the light of day" onto the organization -- even after it was allegedly among the planned targets of an anti-government gunman in California.

Beck's focus on the Tides Foundation has been scrutinized in recent days, after it was reported as being among the targets of Byron Williams, the California gunman charged after a shootout with authorities on an Oakland, California highway. Williams allegedly planned to target Tides and the ACLU.

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In the coming days, Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) has a choice to make. He can listen to his Democratic colleagues and cut a deal, or he can face a full trial before a House panel over several allegations of misconduct.

It's extremely rare for congressional ethics proceedings to reach this stage. Members more commonly acknowledge some wrongdoing, or resign, well before they're forced to defend themselves before an official body. But the gravity of the Rangel allegations, combined with his intransigence to this point, leave him poised, potentially, to be the first House member to be tried, and even expelled, by his own colleagues since James Traficant, in 2002.

"We're kind of astonished it's gone this far," says Peter Flaherty, President of the National Legal and Policy Center, whose work led to one investigation of Rangel and other members of the Congressional Black Caucus. "We always believed the allegations against Rangel were serious, but we never thought the Ethics Committee would do anything."

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On September 11, members of the Dove World Outreach Center -- a Gainesville, Florida church -- plan to burn copies of the Koran to commemorate the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. The protest is just the latest in a series of provocative actions from the self-described "New Testament Church," which seems as interested in getting attention as it is in sharing the Word with the world. Unfortunately, their plan seems to have worked -- and local investigators began probing the church's tax-exempt status last year after reports that Dove World Outreach Center is essentially a scam.

The church, which was founded in 1986, has long been controversial in Gainesville. The Koran-burning protest is just the latest in a string of high-profile "protests on other issues, such as homosexuality, same-sex marriage, and abortion," Religion News Service reports. But it seems clear that taking on Muslims is the one of the church's central goals. The church's leader, Dr. Terry Jones -- who before heading up the Dove World Outreach Center ran a sister church in Cologne, Germany -- has published a book entitled "Islam is of the Devil" and last year posted a large sign outside his church that offered passing commuters the same message. Last year, members sent their kids to public schools wearing "Islam Is Of The Devil" t-shirts (the students were sent home, creating more headlines.) The church's website features a number of videos where Jones takes on Islam as...well, you can probably guess.

But as the Gainesville Sun reported last year, there is one thing Jones likes doing more than burning books -- and that's making money. Sun reporter Megan Rolland delved into the church's numerous for-profit business interests and found a church that local officials say may be violating its tax-exempt status.

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Former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich's corruption trial moved on to closing arguments today, and a storage facility which has been holding a bunch of Blago's stuff is moving on too. According to The Chicago Tribune, Boyer-Rosene Moving & Storage is planning to auction off several crates worth of Blagojevich's belongings, because the former governor has fallen a year behind on his payments.

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Here's another fun blooper from Minnesota state Rep. Tom Emmer, the presumptive Republican nominee for governor.

Late last week, Emmer called for a state G.I. bill. "I don't know if you remember, a few years ago the governor had proposed [a Minnesota G.I. bill]," Emmer told an audience of veterans. "And I think that's something we should certainly be looking at and it's unfortunate we haven't done something like that already."

Unfortunately, as the Star Tribune reports, that proposal from 2007 did pass. And not only that, but it was passed as part of a larger higher-education appropriations bill -- which Emmer voted against. Emmer's spokesman attributed the error to "bad staff work," and also explained that Emmer voted against the appropriations bill because it underfunded the G.I. bill programs and overfunded other programs.

Former Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO) just announced his bid for governor on a third party ticket today, and he's already facing pushback from the state Republican head, Dick Wadhams. And by pushback, we mean screaming match.

On Peter Boyles KHOW radio show, Tancredo and Wadhams got into a shouting match over Tancredo's decision to run, with Wadhams arguing that Tancredo is "ensuring" that the Democratic candidate, Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, will win.

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At a press conference this morning, Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) told reporters that the House ethics committee looked into "more alleged violations" than have been reported in the press.

"They finally have investigated and guess what, they have some more alleged violations so they're going to report this to the full committee," he said, reports Politico's Maggie Haberman.

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Rep. Zach Wamp (R-TN), who is running in a three-way Republican primary for governor of Tennessee, is now clarifying some earlier remarks and insisting that he does not favor seceding from the Union -- though he does think that governors need to put up a strong front and assert their 10th Amendment rights against the federal government.

"When I'm governor of Tennessee, of course we will not secede from the union," said Wamp. "But we will also not have a governor who will cave in to Barack Obama."

"We're going to be a proud partner as a member of the United Sates of America," Wamp added. "But there needs to be a conflict between the states and the federal government."

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