TPM News

One of the federal prosecutors who was involved with the prosecution of the late Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens -- which the Justice Department dismissed due to allegations of prosecutorial misconduct -- has taken his own life.

News of Nicholas Marsh's death, first reported by NPR on Monday, came ahead of a forthcoming report by a special prosecutor appointed by a judge that looks into those misconduct allegations.

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In a hearing today, the lawyer for Wisconsin District Attorney Kenneth Kratz said that the DA will step down from his post before October 8, when there is another hearing scheduled to begin removal proceedings.

Kratz's announcement follows allegations by at least five women who say he behaved inappropriately as a county DA, and Kratz's own admission that he sent one domestic abuse victim sexually suggestive texts while he was handling her case.

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On Friday night, Anderson Cooper took on Renee Ellmers, a Republican House candidate in North Carolina who has now based her campaign on opposing the so-called "Ground Zero Mosque," the Muslim community center project all the way up north in New York City. And the interview sure was a sight to behold.

Ellmers is running against incumbent Democrat Bob Etheridge. Her ad declared: "After the Muslims conquered Jerusalem, and Cordoba, and Constantinople, they built victory mosques. And now, they want to build a mosque by Ground Zero. Where does Bob Etheridge stand? He won't say, won't speak out, won't take a stand." Ellmers herself then cut in: "The terrorists haven't won. And we should tell them in plain English, no, there will never be a mosque at Ground Zero."

For one thing, Cooper asked Ellmers about how her ad uses the terms "Muslim" and "terrorists" interchangeably. Ellmers actually tried to wiggle out of that: "Well, to be honest, I think that you could make that assumption, but, you know, that's -- that's not giving me the benefit of the doubt."

Cooper replied: "I mean, that's -- your words are very carefully selected."

"The words are carefully selected, but that is certainly not what I'm intending to say. I am not intending to say that all Muslims are terrorists," Ellmers replied. "Basically, what I am saying, sir, is that there were terrorists who attacked us. They were Islamic jihadists. And, as a result of that, we have seen the devastation on 9/11."

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Anti-abortion activist Randall Terry is upping the ante on his as-yet widely unknown campaign against Islam by creating a video instructing Tea Party leaders how to pull their own Koran-tearing stunts and garner media attention.

"To my fellow Tea Party activists, listen to me: you're about to see instructions on how to get into real battles, not just in front of our computers, not just blogging, but to go to the public square like Samuel Adams and like other great patriots did," Terry says in the video.

The video is part of Terry's campaign for anti-Islam activists to rip passages of the Koran printed on posters at the potential location of the Cordoba House Islamic Center in New York, in Washington D.C. and in other cities on Oct. 6 and 7.

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Rick Lazio announced that he is dropping out of the race for New York governor today, ending speculation that he might run on the Conservative Party line.

Lazio, who will reportedly be nominated for a judgeship in the Bronx tonight, said he is dropping out in a press conference today. In his remarks, he called his victorious primary opponent Carl Paladino "flawed," City Hall News reports.

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We should know as early as today (or possibly tomorrow) whether House Democrats will do as many predict and kick the fight over middle-class tax cuts past the midterm elections in November.

Many signs point to yes -- the Senate already punted, a number of House Democrats want at least a temporary extension of tax cuts for wealthy Americans, and all of that is reflected in a split within Democratic leadership over what the party should do.

That split was reflected this weekend when, within minutes of each other, two members of the Dems' leadership team -- DCCC chair Chris Van Hollen and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer -- gave opposing answers to a simple question: will Democrats hold this vote before the election.

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Gov. Joe Manchin (D-WV), the Democratic nominee in the hotly-contested special Senate election for the seat once held by the late Dem Sen. Robert Byrd, has now taken a serious move that distances himself from the national Democrats in this Republican-trending state, Real Clear Politics reports -- calling for a partial repeal of the health care reform law.

"I believe in health care reform. I don't believe in the way this bill was passed," Manchin said Sunday afternoon. "Why they overreached, I don't know."

Pressed on his support for repeal, Manchin clarified that he favored "repealing the things that are bad in that bill." He ticked off a list of reforms in the law that he supports and asserted there is broad agreement in both parties for many of them. "Can't you keep that as a good base?" he said, adding, "It's a great bill." He emphasized that he's not calling for wholesale repeal and just wants to roll back parts of it but said, "You do need to."

It's interesting to note that nearly all of the Republican ads against Manchin have focused on attacking him as being too closely tied to President Obama, with health care mentioned as a key issue. But now he's sending a message that no, he's not tied to Obama on health care.

Carl Paladino, the ultra-conservative New York businessman who rode the Tea Party to victory in the Republican gubernatorial primary this month, has a daughter with a woman who is not his wife. But even though such indiscretions have cost other New York Republicans their seats (see Vito Fossella), Paladino has remained unscathed. He has even, according to some polls, come within striking distance of Democratic candidate and attorney general Andrew Cuomo.

That may be because Paladino has been open about his daughter, who is now 10, throughout his candidacy. She joined his other children and his wife at his campaign kick-off in April, for example, and has attended other events. She is, as the New York Times put it in today's profile of Paladino, "fully incorporated into his family." Paladino supports her financially and, according to the New York Post, he accompanied the girl, Sarah, and her mother -- with his wife's permission -- on a trip to Italy last year that included a visit to the Vatican.

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Does Rep. Mike Castle (R-DE), who lost the GOP primary for Senate in a stunning upset two weeks ago to Christine O'Donnell, have a chance if he gets back into the general election as a write-in candidate? According to a new Rasmussen poll, the answer is no. Furthermore, it seems that he would more likely siphon votes away from Democrat Chris Coons, rather than hinder O'Donnell.

The numbers: Coons 49%, O'Donnell 40%, and Castle 5%. The survey of likely voters has a ±4.5% margin of error. In the previous Rasmussen poll from two weeks ago, just after O'Donnell won the primary, Coons led O'Donnell by 53%-42%.

From the pollster's analysis: "Rasmussen Reports did ask Castle supporters who they would vote for in a two-person race and virtually all said either Coons or not sure."

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