TPM News

There were 409 threats or assaults on Census workers making home visits between May and last Friday, 24 of which were animal attacks and 13 of which involved shots fired, according to data given to TPMmuckraker by the Census Bureau.

The Washington Post had a good story Sunday looking at the hazards of Census work. The paper noted that this year has seen more than double the 181 incidents reported last time around, in 2000.

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It's still early in the campaign, but -- at least for now -- Rep. Charlie Melancon (D-LA) is keeping his thoughts on David Vitter's past sex scandals to himself.

We asked Melancon in an interview this afternoon whether he'd force Vitter to explain his prostitution scandal to voters. Melancon mostly kept his powder dry.

"What you say you are is what you should be," Melancon said. "I think that the people of this state realize that he's not been honest with them. If he's not honest with his family and his friends, what makes anybody think he's gonna be honest with the voters and the people of this state."

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1||June 19, 2010: The annual Mermaid Parade is held on Coney Island in New York City. The parade has been an annual tradition since 1983, and participants typically dress up as sea creatures -- "mythical and real" -- to celebrate the beginning of summer. This year, some took the opportunity to draw attention to Gulf Coast marine life that is endangered because of the BP oil spill.||Newscom/UPI&&

2||Members of CODEPINK were also among the protesters. ||cc:Matthew McDermott&&

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5||Legendary rocker Lou Reed and his wife Laurie Anderson (left) were honored as the parade's King and Queen.||Newscom/WENN&&

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Fearing that even marginal voter preferences for tea party candidates could spell doom in November, Republicans now claim that the dozen or more Florida Tea Party candidates running for statehouse seats are part of some Sunshine State shenanigans.

In the meantime, however, the tea partiers want the U.S. attorney to investigate claims that tea party candidates are being intimidated and threatened. The Democrats, meanwhile, swear they have nothing to do with the Tea Party candidates, even though at least 3 of them were once registered to vote as members of the Democratic Party.

It's an old-fashioned whodunit, fueled, in part, by the mysterious candidacy of Democratic Senate nominee Alvin Greene in South Carolina and the Tea Party of Nevada candidate who tea party activists there say is a faker.

Let's break it down.

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Rep. Charlie Melancon (D-LA), who hopes to unseat Republican David Vitter in the Senate this fall, publicly parted ways with President Obama over the government's response to the oil spill in the Gulf. In an interview this afternoon, Melancon gave Obama's response a middling grade.

"Probably a 'C'," Melancon told TPMDC. "Even though his secretaries engaged, he himself didn't really get engaged immediately. I see him making up for that or trying to make up for that, but it's hard to play catchup when you start off slow."

Melancon isn't just upset about Obama's public response, but about the administration's decision to place a moratorium on deep water drilling.

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Whether or not Erik Prince is fleeing America for the United Arab Emirates, his military contracting company continues to thrive on lucrative government contracts.

The latest: the Obama Administration has awarded Xe, formerly known as Blackwater, with a $120 million contract to provide security for U.S. consulates in Afghanistan. The contract could last as long as 18 months.

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There comes a time in a person's life when you give up on that dream of replacing the decently paying job you lost with another decently paying job. Rand Paul, Republican nominee for Senate from Kentucky, believes that time is now.

In an interview with WVLK-AM in Lexington, Kentucky on Friday, Paul told host Sue Wylie he supported the Republican filibuster last week of more than $100 billion in emergency spending that includes extended jobless benefits. Paul said the bill must be paid before the extension is voted into law -- and if that can't happen, it's time for America's unemployed to face facts and stop holding out for jobs similar to the ones they've lost.

"As bad as it sounds, ultimately we do have to sometimes accept a wage that's less than we had at our previous job in order to get back to work and allow the economy to get started again," he said. "Nobody likes that, but it may be one of the tough love things that has to happen."

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Former Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R-AZ), who is currently challenging Sen. John McCain in the Republican primary on a right-wing platform, had an interesting job for a time in 2007: Appearing as an infomercial pitchman -- for a company telling people that they can get free grant money from the federal government.

In 2007, shortly after Hayworth lost his re-election battle in 2006, Hayworth appeared in a half-hour informercial for the National Grants Conferences, a program set up by a company called Proven Methods Seminars, which advertises itself as running seminars in which people can find out how to get grant money from the federal government -- which the infomercial's on-screen text pitched as being "FREE MONEY" in quotes.

"Well I don't want to shock anybody's sensibilities, but I have to use a four-letter word: Real. This is real," Hayworth said in the infomercial. "The money is out there, the opportunities are out there. And by the way, it's not something where it's the government's money -- it's really your money. You surrendered it in the form of taxation. Now's the time to take advantage of a situation where the government can invest in you. And in turn, you'll have a chance to build a business, or make a better life for yourself -- and in so doing, you'll help improve the country."

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