TPM News

Ken Cuccinelli, Virginia's ambitious and deeply conservative attorney general, has launched two new fronts in his right-wing crusade: one absurd, the other deeply troubling.

Absurdity first: Cuccinelli recently handed out to his staff lapel pins with a redesigned version of the state seal, which shows the Roman goddess Virtus, or virtue, the Virginian-Pilot reported over the weekend. In the usual version of the seal, Virtus's left breast is exposed. In Cuccinelli's version, it's covered up.

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Nine members of the Hutaree militia group accused of plotting against the government can be released until their trial.

The nine members of the Christian militia group were indicted in March on multiple charges involving an alleged plot to attack police, including seditious conspiracy and attempted use of weapons of mass destruction.

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The latest entrant in the Florida Senate race is an eccentric billionaire who counts Mike Tyson and madam Heidi Fleiss as close friends and made his fortune betting against the real estate market before the crash.

The business and personal life of Jeff Greene is providing an embarrassment of riches for oppo researchers working for Greene's competition in the Democratic primary, Rep. Kendrick Meek (D-FL).

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Jim Traficant, a former Democratic Congressman who was released from prison last year, filed the paperwork this morning to run from Ohio's 17th district as an independent.

Traficant held the seat for nine terms before his expulsion from the House. But after filing, he told the Youngstown Vindicator that he may also file in the 6th district. The Ohio secretary of state's office is now reviewing elections law to see if that's legal.

"You never know with me. I might run in West Virginia," Traficant said.

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The American people have found the floor in the recession, and are starting to feel things are looking up in the economy. That's the message from several recent polls of the economy taken in the past several weeks.

The public is still pretty down on things overall, but the important thing -- for Democrats facing reelection especially -- is that they've stopped feeling that things are getting worse. A growing number are even saying things are getting better.

The big question now is whether this boost will sustained over time, and whether the Democrats will be able to make it their own.

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Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), who was among those arrested over the weekend at the immigration protests in front of the White House, debated Arizona's immigration law yesterday with Arizona Senate candidate J.D. Hayworth (R).

Though Hayworth argued that the law is not racist, and "we call things racism just to get attention," Gutierrez was emphatic: "The law is discriminatory."

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BP has been offering $5000 payments to residents of coastal Alabama areas, in exchange for essentially giving up their right to sue the oil giant over its deadly Gulf Coast spill, according to the state's attorney general.

AG Troy King last night urged BP to stop the effort, and told Alabamians to be wary. "People need to proceed with caution and understand the ramifications before signing something like that," King said, according to the Alabama press.

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Warren Buffett is continuing his rather full-throated defense of Goldman Sachs, saying in a Good Morning America interview broadcast this morning that CEO Lloyd Blankfein shouldn't step down -- and that Goldman has done nothing wrong.

The SEC has filed a civil lawsuit against Goldman Sachs over a shoddy mortgage product that Goldman allegedly knew was shoddy, and a Senate subcommittee hearing that put many of the firm's top executives on the spot last week has brought the firm under even more fire.

But Buffett -- whose company invested $5 billion in Goldman during the height of the financial crisis -- is standing by Blankfein's company.

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President Obama is nearing the final stages of review for selecting a Supreme Court nominee, summoning candidates for in-person meetings, pulling more documentation and focusing on a handful of prospects for the vacancy. Congressional and White House sources told me they think it's possible there will be a nominee by the end of this week, but certainly in the coming two weeks.

For weeks the White House stressed the process was "very early" in, but aides said today that "it's moved along quite a bit in the last week." Obama's short-ish list of nine candidates (detailed here) hasn't expanded, but "he's not at a place where he's crossed people off the list," an administration official told me today.

"We're well into this. We're getting there," the official said.

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