TPM News

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick will name his choice for Ted Kennedy's Senate seat this morning at 11 a.m. in Boston.

Speculation over the past 24 hours has pinned former DNC chairman Paul Kirk as the likely appointee. Two of Kennedy's sons and his widow reportedly told Patrick that their preference is Kirk, who serves as chairman of the board of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and is a close family friend.

Anonymous Senate Democrats told the New York Times they expect Patrick to choose Kirk. CNN sources also said Patrick has chosen Kirk.

A Democratic appointment would give the party 60 votes in the Senate, a filibuster-proof majority.

The legislation allowing the governor to appoint an interim senator passed the state Senate and House this week. But, unless Patrick declares an emergency, it will be 90 days before the measure can take effect. Democrats failed yesterday to get a two-thirds vote in favor of bypassing the delay.

The special election for the seat is scheduled for Jan. 19.

Yesterday, Politico and ProPublica published a story suggesting Rep. Mike Ross (D-AR) sold his family pharmacy in Prescott, Arkansas, to a big drug store chain for above market value.

In response, Ross, who is the lead Blue Dog Dem working on the health care bill, has responded only partially to the story's substance, without denying the key issue, and has repeatedly attacked ProPublica as illegitimate and "leftist."

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Speaking to a conservative radio show, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) said socialists are pushing gay marriage because they have "to plow through marriage in order to get to their goal" of undermining the "foundations of individual rights and liberties."

"Not only is it a radical social idea, it is a purely socialist concept in the final analysis," King said, according to The Hill.

If there's a push for a socialist society where the foundations of individual rights and liberties are undermined and everybody is thrown together living collectively off one pot of resources earned by everyone, this is one of the goals they have to go to, same sex marriage, because it has to plow through marriage in order to get to their goal. They want public affirmation, they want access to public funds and resources.

King condemned his state's legalization of same-sex marriage and said he was worried the United States might repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, which allows states to refuse to recognize same sex marriages or civil unions performed in other states.

New Jersey politics sure does have its comedic ups and downs.

Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine (D-NJ) was hit by the Star-Ledger's report over the weekend that he has a stake in a hedge fund, which may have a corporate connection to a casino -- thus creating a conflict with a law that forbids state officials from owning a stake in casinos. His Republican opponent, Chris Christie, was quick to pounce on it, calling it a "real possibility of law breaking" and a "colossal error in judgment."

But now the Star-Ledger has taken a look at Christie's finances -- and it turns out that when he was U.S. Attorney, he owned stock in a company that his office was investigating. "The way my investments work, I had no authority to order either the buying or the selling of any particular stock in that fund," Christie said. "I was not making the decision to buy or the decision to sell."

Appearing on Glenn Beck today, former United Nations ambassador John Bolton said President Obama's address to the UN General Assembly today was "the most radical anti-Israel speech I can recall any President making."

Obama emphasized his opposition to Israeli settlements and called for a contiguous Palestinian state, which Bolton called "very close" to, as Beck said, "selling out Israel."

"We've put Israel on a chopping block," Bolton said.

At one point, Beck claimed Obama is anti-Semitic and tried to get Bolton to do the same.

"Do you think it's possible to sit in a church with someone who's as anti-Semitic as Jeremiah Wright and not come away with an anti-Semitic view?" he asked, referring to Obama's former pastor.

Bolton declined to go quite so far.

"At a minimum, he was asleep for 20 years," he said. "Or we need an explanation.

Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi - who John McCain once called an 'interesting man' in a tweet - addressed the General Assembly of the UN today following President Obama's speech. Given that he talked for a full 96 minutes, it's hard to pick out the best parts - but we'll do our best.

#10: The UN is useless because it's failed to stop "65 wars" since its founding.

"The charter states in the preamble that we shall not resort to military force unless there is a common interest," Qaddafi said, "but after that what happened? Sixty-five wars broke out after the UN was established. It was not in the interest of all nations."

#9: I love the preamble, but I hate the UN Charter!

The preamble says "that all nations are equal whether they are small nations or whether they are big," Qaddafi noted as he waved around a small copy of it. But the fact that a member of the five-nation Security Council can veto a resolution is "against the charter." The African Union, which Qaddafi currently chairs, ought to have a seat on the Security Council, he said.

#8: The UN Security Council = Terrorism

The apparent tyranny of the Security Council's veto power was likened to terrorism: "We do not accept it and we do not acknowledge it...this is terrorism! We cannot allow the nations of the Security Council to rule ... this is terrorism in itself." He went on to compare this veto to Julius Caesar. We can't say it better than the writers at New York Magazine: "We scanned his face to see the irony of this, an unelected despot who has for 40 years ruled a nation that freely hands out weapons to terrorists at will, and we found no trace of it."

Read more, including his love letter to Obama, his comparison of the Taliban to the Vatican, and his musings on who killed JFK, after the jump.

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The Massachusetts legislature today gave final passage to the law providing for a temporary appointment to Ted Kennedy's Senate seat -- but without the two-thirds margins for the legislature to formally declare it an emergency statute.

The vote was 95-59 in the House, and 24-16 in the Senate. What this means is Patrick will have to declare it an emergency, in order for the law to take effect immediately -- as opposed to 90 days from now. As we found out yesterday, this could leave the state Dems vulnerable to a court challenge under the state's constitution.

That said, the local media does seem to be treating this as a done deal, so we'll see what happens.

The current media buzz is that Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick will appoint Kennedy family friend Paul Kirk, though Patrick's office has officially said that no decision has been made.

Our favorite ex-con ex-Congressman Jim Traficant (D-OH) appeared on Hardball tonight just to make everyone's day a little brighter with a graphic description of what he'd do if he successfully ran for office.

"I want to get the IRS," Traficant said. "Kick them in the crotch real good." He said he'd also work to repeal the 16th Amendment, which gives Congress the power to collect income tax.

Traficant, who recently finished a seven-year prison term on corruption charges, hasn't decided whether or not to run for public office again. "You never know, I may," he said, because he's none to pleased with Congress these days.

Mixing his metaphors in a way rarely seen, Traficant called lawmakers a bunch of "little lemmings" following each other over a cliff -- and prostitutes on top of it. He recalled a time he said, on the House floor, that his fellow members were hookers: "They jumped up like 100 wounded TV evangelists."

Video after the jump.

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Republican former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie has a new ad in the New Jersey gubernatorial race, firing back at an ad by Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine that accused Christie of wanting to allow insurance companies to drop mammogram coverage for women. The ad was based on Christie's support of cheaper, mandate-free health insurance policies.

In the new ad, Christie talks about his own family experience, how his mother battled breast cancer that was detected early through a mammogram. "So the idea that somebody who was able to keep their mother for an extra twenty years would ever deny another woman in this state the opportunity to get a mammogram is just so deceitful," Christie says. "It is awful for the Governor to desperately hold onto power by scaring people."

A post at the website Open Left by Mike Lux tells a troubling story for progressives.

"Some senior White House staffers are now beginning to try to sell this trigger to progressive groups as the compromise version of a public option, saying the White House doesn't want to have a floor fight in the Senate, and that they can always fix it in conference committee," Lux writes.

That way they can pick up Snowe, satisfy that desperate urge for being officially bipartisan (even though Snowe can't bring a single other Republican with her), and not have to worry about procedural hassles in the Senate.

Lux is a former staffer for President Bill Clinton, and worked for the Obama transition team--not necessarily the first person you'd imagine warning of "an ugly fight within the Democratic Party, further erosion of Obama's standing with his base, the specter of more primary fights."

Off the record interviews and emails with reform leaders resulted in no denials, and two confirmations that Lux's account is correct.

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