TPM News

Mitt Romney has an op-ed in Tuesday’s Detroit News. Romney begins by explaining how he was born and raised in Michigan before pivoting to the auto bailouts which, he explains, “all the defects in President Obama’s management of the American economy are evident in what he did.”

Pro-Romney super PAC Restore Our Future has bought almost $500,000 in air time in Michigan for February 14-20. By next week, that will bring the total ROF spent there to $700,000. In addition to Michigan, ROF is sinking money into West Virginia, Ohio, and Arizona. The super PAC is already buying time in Oklahoma, Tennessee, Mississippi and Georgia. They appear ready to blanket just about every upcoming primary state with ads at once.

A new survey from Quinnipiac University shows that despite voting down an anti-union measure in November aimed at curtailing the rights of public workers to collectively bargin, Ohio voters are ready for a "Right-To-Work" law, which would stop workers from having to join a union as a condition of employment. A majority of Ohio voters, 54 percent, said they'd support such a law, while 40 percent did not.

"Given the assumption that the SB 5 referendum was a demonstration of union strength in Ohio, the 54 - 40 percent support for making Ohio a 'right-to-work' state does make one take notice," said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute in a release. "In the SB 5 referendum independent voters, who are generally the key to Ohio elections, voted with the pro-union folks to repeal the law many viewed as an effort to handicap unions. The data indicates that many of those same independents who stood up for unions this past November on SB 5 are standing up to unions by backing 'right-to-work' legislation."

In addition, chief SB 5 supporter Gov. John Kasich's (R-OH) approval ratings have improved slightly, as less Ohioans diapprove of his job perfomance. Here's the TPM Poll Average since he was sworn in.

Apple on Monday announced it had requested third-party audits of the working conditions at the foreign factories where its most popular products, from the iPhone to the iPad, are assembled.

The audits, which are being conducted by "socially responsible" business trade group the Fair Labor Association (FLA), began on Monday and will run through "later this Spring," according to Apple. Audits will involve inspectors visiting production facilities, reviewing documents, speaking with workers one-on-one and through anonymous forms, and giving them business cards to allow them to follow up later, in case working conditions deterioriate or punitive action is taken against workers who speak up.

The results of the first inspections -- of two Chinese factories owned by Taiwanese manufacturing company Foxconn, where the bulk of Apple's mobile devices are assembled -- will be posted in "early March" on FLA's website. By the time the investigations are completed, FLA will have looked at facilities accounting for 90 percent of Apple's production.

"We believe that workers everywhere have the right to a safe and fair work environment, which is why we've asked the FLA to independently assess the performance of our largest suppliers," said Apple CEO Tim Cook, in a statement posted on Apple's website.

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Mitt Romney gave an insight in to what his general election message will be if he makes it, by branding himself as conservative so many times he had to branch out and identify as "severely conservative".

If today's cable news is any indicator, he has a winning strategy on his hands, as chattering heads across the spectrum expressed alarm and confusion over his choice of words.

Also, when people had stopped chuckling, President Obama snuck in a budget proposal for 2013. And guess what - Republicans hated it and couldn't wait to tear in to it. But who saw that coming?

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After a few hours of thought, Democrats have decided the GOP's blink on the payroll tax cut is an unvarnished good, not some devious trick.

Republicans have all but agreed to renew the payroll tax cut through the end of the year without paying for it -- a huge tactical swing for them. But they're still insisting that the other expiring measures -- extended unemployment insurance (UI), and Medicare physician reimbursements (the "doc fix") -- are somehow offset with cuts elsewhere.

Having taken the most politically important, and most costly item off the table, are Republicans in the driver's seat in negotiations over extending the other two items? Not necessarily.

A senior Senate Dem aide explains how Democrats might well proceed from here.

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The GOP's accession to reality on the payroll tax cut is being cast as a key victory for Democrats and President Obama. Republicans caved, the payroll tax will almost certainly be renewed, and the economy won't take a tough hit just as the recovery's beginning to accelerate.

But it also reveals a flaw -- a potentially huge flaw -- in the conservative movement's generational strategy to roll back the federal safety net.

These might sound like two wildly disparate issues, but they're actually variations on a years-long theme. And the outcome of the payroll tax debacle bodes poorly for the GOP on the rest of their long-run goals.

Here's why.

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The social news website Reddit announced a swift policy change on Sunday night, implementing a new rule: "No suggestive or sexual content featuring minors."

While the rule itself would seem to be one that even the most libertine Internet user could support, it came with a fundamental change in Reddit's burgeoning number of user-created subsections, called "Subreddits."

Reddit is a content sharing website where users can post links to websites and/or plain text, and carry on discussions with other users below the original posts. Users are encouraged to vote on a post based on its quality, using up or down arrows. The website surfaces the most popular posts at the top of its front page. But the website also contains many distinct "Subreddits," other pages where users can post content centered around various different topics.

As Reddit's administrators wrote in a post on the website: "As of today, we have banned all subreddits that focus on sexualization of children."

Each subreddit is generally organized around a specific topic, and users can subscribe to see all the updates from a particular subreddit.

Aside from that, each subreddit acts very similarly to the parent website, allowing users to anonymously post text and links to content from around the Web. The user who creates a particular subreddit is automatically made the top moderator of that subreddit, and can remove content and ban users. Reddit's administrators communicate with moderators via private messages on the websites.

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It took 20 words for the Obama administration to give up on its proposal to renovate an Illinois prison to render it capable of holding terrorism detainees from Guantanamo Bay.

"The proposed Administrative USP Thomson, IL project was removed as funding was not provided in the FY 2011 Enacted Appropriation," the administration said in their 2013 budget proposal for building and facilities expenses from DOJ's Bureau of Prisons.

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Federal investigators have reportedly been handing down subpoenas in the case of a Nevada political operative who allegedly made illegal campaign contributions to politicians like Sen. Harry Reid, and who is also embroiled in a heated legal battle with former business partners that involves accusations about everything from murder threats to jewel thefts.

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