TPM News

Sen. Roland Burris (D-IL) has made it official, announcing that he will not be running for a full term in 2010. In explaining the reasons why, Burris said that the strain of raising money would be too great, and the people of his state should come first.

"Political races have become far too expensive in this country," said Burris. "And in making this decision, I was called to choose between spending my time raising funds or spending my time raising issues for my state. I believe that the business of the people of the state of Illinois should always come first."

Burris reportedly raised only $20,000 last quarter. It should also be noted that polls have consistently shown that he would lose the Democratic primary, and that if nominated he would lose the general election, thanks to the controversies surrounding his appointment to the Senate by the later-impeached Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, released a statement on the inspector generals' report on President Bush's warrantless surveillance program:

This report, mandated by Congress last year, documents what many of us in Congress concluded long ago: President Bush's warrantless surveillance program was illegal from the beginning, and of questionable value. It clearly violated FISA and was based on legal analysis that was 'factually flawed.'

All the recommendations of the report should be promptly followed, and we in Congress will continue to carefully review today's surveillance activities to determine if further changes to FISA are appropriate. The refusal of key Bush Administration officials such as David Addington and John Yoo to cooperate with the IGs' review underscores the need for an independent commission with subpoena power to further review these issues, as I have called for.

As new controversies about the prior Administration's secret intelligence activities and the accuracy and completeness of intelligence briefings to Congress arise, this report offers a stark warning of the risks of executive branch overreach and the power of the executive to shield its activities from scrutiny. At the same time, this report reminds us of the many heroes of the past Administration who questioned these and other secret programs and stood up for the rule of law.

We've already published one timeline on the Ensign saga, but we figured that, what with the new revelations of recent days, it was worth compiling an updated one. So without further ado...

• Nov 2006: Ensign is easily reelected to the U.S. Senate from Nevada.

Read More →

Here are the line-ups for the Sunday talk shows this weekend:

• ABC, This Week: Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-AZ).

• CBS, Face The Nation: Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Ranking Member Jeff Sessions (R-AL).

• CNN, State Of The Union: Sec. of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius; Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI); Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH); Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN); and Sen Kent Conrad (D-ND).

• Fox News Sunday: Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX); House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA).

• NBC, Meet The Press: Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY).

So who exactly did call in that noise complaint against a fundraiser two weeks ago for Democratic House candidate Francine Busby (CA-50) -- the one that, through a bizarre series of events, culminated in a full-scale raid by the San Diego Sheriff's Department? One of the host's neighbors, it turns out, is very eager to clear her own name and say it wasn't her.

I just spoke with with Jeannie Goodsell, a retiree who lives immediately adjacent to the residence (though the lots are very large -- the houses are over 100 yards apart). The caller is believed by attendees to have been the same person who yelled obscenities and anti-gay slurs at the event -- and Goodsell doesn't want any confusion that this didn't happen from her house.

She said there was no noise at all. "We were home. We didn't even know that the party or whatever it was, the fundraiser, happened behind us," Goodsell told me. "We heard the helicopters that night, but every once in a while helicopters do fly over these orchards, so we didn't think anything about it." She only found out what happened from reporters who came by her home to ask her about it.

"What started bothering us is, it showed up in print that people directly west behind them started harassing them and yelling things about gays," said Goodsell. "We're liberal Democrats -- we have a Buddha on our table."

Read More →

Deserved or not, the biggest political thorn in Sonia Sotomayor's side has been one Frank Ricci of New Haven, CT. Ricci is a firefighter who sued the city claiming reverse discrimination in 2003 after officials there discarded the results of a firefighter's promotion test after the test was revealed to have a disparate impact on blacks and Hispanics.

But flash back, if you will, to January 25, 1995, when, according to the Hartford Courant Ricci was singing the opposite tune: "A decorated firefighter has filed a lawsuit against the city, saying he was not hired because he is dyslexic."

The lawsuit, filed recently in federal court, could shed light on the selection process used by the city, which has been beset with criticism over politics and nepotism.

Frank Ricci charges in the lawsuit that the city violated the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities.

Ricci, a Wallingford native who now lives in Maryland, was one of 795 candidates who were interviewed for 40 openings. Ricci told interviewers that he has a learning disability, the lawsuit says.

Fire commissioners have said that although Ricci was qualified, many others also were qualified because they passed the Civil Service examination.

Two years later, that case was resolved. "In a confidential settlement, struck two years later, Mr. Ricci withdrew his lawsuit in exchange for a job with the fire department and $11,143 in attorney's fees."

If you were Frank Ricci, you might say something like, "Frank Ricci got a job and somebody who wasn't dyslexic didn't." Remember, this is the same Frank Ricci who took his reverse discrimination suit all the way to the Supreme Court, where lower court rulings against him--including one by Sotomayor's Second Circuit--were overturned.

Ricci will testify against Sotomayor before the Senate Judiciary Committee next week--this despite the fact that his views on jurisprudence seem to begin and end with the proposition that legal protections against discrimination are great when they work in his favor, and unconscionable when they don't.

The Club For Growth appears to be becoming a little reluctant about getting involved in the Florida Senate Republican primary, the Tampa Bay Tribune reports, in the wake of moderate Gov. Charlie Crist's $4.3 million haul for the last quarter, compared to his more conservative opponent Marco Rubio's mere $340,000.

"We have to look at his race versus all the others we're interested in, and there are going to be a lot of competitive races," said Club executive director David Keating. He further explained: "We look for the most bang for the contribution buck - a race we think can be competitive."

Keating said that more important than Crist's fundraising figures is the amount that Rubio himself can bring in, and whether he can raise enough to get his message out -- which Keating estimated to be in the $4-5 million range.

So all Rubio needs to do is raise a few million on top of his $340,000, and he should be set.

White House/Pete Souza

The Obamas celebrate the Fourth of July.

Newscom/UPI Photo

An Independence Day picnic for military families on the South Lawn.

White House/Pete Souza

The president and first lady greet military families on July 4.

White House/Pete Souza

The Foo Fighters perform at the White House on July 4.

White House/Pete Souza

White House/Pete Souza

Obama dances with Sasha on the way to the White House luau.

Newscom/Chip Somodevilla

On the way to the luau.


Obama looks on as a child tries to dunk White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs.

White House/Pete Souza

White House/Pete Souza

The president with a Hawaiian paddle given to him by chef Allen Wong.

White House/Pete Souza

The White House staff picnic.

White House/Pete Souza

Obama and his chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, at the picnic after learning that the House passed energy legislation on June 26.

White House/Pete Souza

At a Rose Garden interview with journalists.

White House/Pete Souza

White House/Pete Souza

The president and vice president meet Syracuse University's championship men's lacrosse team.

White House/Pete Souza

Obama and Biden jog to a barbecue.


Obama grills with celebrity chef Bobby Flay.

White House/Pete Souza

White House/Pete Souza

Charlie Brandts, White House beekeeper, collecting the season's first honey harvest.

White House/Lawrence Jackson

Barack, Michelle and Malia Obama set off for Moscow.


Sasha Obama


The first lady and her daughters visit the Colosseum in Rome during the G8 summit.


We're probably not going out on a limb by saying that Doug Hampton's entire televised interview about John Ensign's affair with Hampton's wife Cindy, and the fallout from it, had to have been pretty embarrassing for the Nevada senator, if he's even been able to bring himself to watch it.

But one particular narrative that Hampton lays out really brings out what seems like the utter pathetic-ness of a man who Republicans once talked about as presidential material -- as well as the strangely paternalistic culture of the religious organization with which he's affiliated. And it jibes with yesterday's news that Ensign went to his parents to pay off the Hamptons, painting a picture of a man who, despite being 51 years old and a powerful US senator, still seems strangely weak-willed and dependent on those around him.

Read More →