TPM News

If Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) faces a primary challenger in the Pennsylvania Senate race next year, it's likely to be from Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA). Sestak was considering a run before Specter switched parties, but that development undoubtedly turned his game plan on its head. Now, winning the Democratic nomination will be much harder than it would otherwise have been, but he has a much more compelling raison d'être. Now, if he runs, he'll be fighting a man who he says is an unreliable steward of Pennsylvania's interests, and a weak choice for Democratic voters who want a real Democratic senator.

Sestak told me that he'll be inclined to primary Specter if he doesn't prove a reliable Democratic vote on all major Democratic issues. But how reliable is Sestak?

Pretty reliable on the whole. According to the Washington Post votes database, Sestak has voted with his party 97.8 percent of the time.

But he has bucked his party on a number of key votes, particularly on national security issues.

Read More →

RNC chairman Michael Steele guest-hosted on Bill Bennett's radio show today, and had an interesting take on President Obama's call for a Supreme Court Justice with a sense of "empathy," which has been criticized throughout the right:



"Crazy nonsense, empathetic," said Steele. "I'll give you empathy. Empathize right on your behind. Craziness."

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

• ABC, This Week: Gen. David Petraeus, Commander of CENTCOM; Sen. John McCain (R-AZ).

• CBS, Face The Nation: Former Vice President Dick Cheney.

• CNN, State Of The Union: Gen. David Petraeus, Commander of CENTCOM.

• Fox News Sunday: Gen. David Petraeus, Commander of CENTCOM; former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA).

• NBC, Meet The Press: Hamid Karzai, President of Afghanistan; Asif Ali Zardari, President of Pakistan.

Greg Sargent has noted that the cover letter sent by CIA director Leon Panetta to accompany the release of the documents on torture briefings, in which Panetta cautions that the descriptions of the briefings may be inaccurate.

And now Nancy Pelosi is pointing out the same thing.

In a blog post on the Speaker's site, she reiterates that the September 2002 briefing was the only one she received on enhanced interrogation techniques, then writes:

As reported in the press, a cover letter from CIA Director Panetta accompanying the briefings memo released this week concedes that the descriptions provided by the CIA may not be accurate.

Do the expanding pension scandals have a Chicago connection?

The pay-to-play probes currently scrutinizing controllers of public pursestrings from New York to New Mexico to Alabama have so many parallels to the sweeping Illinois investigation that turned Gov. Rod Blagojevich into a reality show candidate, we're kind of surprised they haven't overlapped more. For one, they both revolve around questionable public pension fund investments and "swaps" contracts. In Illinois, the probe began with questions about millions of dollars in consulting and "finder's" fees collected by Republican lobbyist Bob Kjellander for directing a $500 million teacher pension fund investment to a Carlyle Group hedge fund and convincing another state pension fund to bet on an interest rate swap that generated big fees for Bear Stearns. Some of those fees, according to last month's indictment of Blagojevich, wound up in Blago's own bank account.

But back in 2004, when CDR Financial Products, one of the main consulting firms being under investigation in the scheme, tried to set up shop in Chicago, it got nowhere.

Read More →

The hot story of the morning is the release of CIA documents appearing to show that Nancy Pelosi was briefed on "enhanced interrogation techniques" in September 2002. Things have already descended into a he-said she-said debate -- literally -- over exactly what Pelosi was told, and whether the new information contradicts what she'd said in the past. But let's set that aside for a second, because according to the documents, it was another Democratic lawmaker who received the first briefing whose summary in the newly released document specifically mentions waterboarding -- the technique that has been at the center of the controversy, especially for Pelosi lately.

Read More →

A new Gallup analysis of party identification, compiled from their national polling over the last five months, paints an astonishing picture of how party ID spreads across every age group from 18 to 85 -- and a very tough demographic picture for the Republican Party:



Democrats outpace the GOP across every age group, but the gap varies from one cohort to another, with the greatest differences among the Baby Boomers and Generation Y. The GOP nearly achieves parity among Generation X (ages 30-44), people in their late 60s, and the 85-year old group.

The pollster's analysis goes through several theories, noting that younger voters often tend to be more liberal. But one interesting hypothesis is floated, noting the extent of these differences and where they occur: That these groups are heavily influenced by the eras when they came of political age, -- the Baby Boomers in the 60s, Generation X in the Reagan/Bush Sr. years, etc. And it should be noted that Generation Y came of age during the George W. Bush years, and have now entered the Obama period.

  • Pelosi spokesman on her being briefed in 2002 on CIA interrogation tactics: "The briefers described these techniques, said they were legal, but said that waterboarding had not been used." But CIA documents "appear to conflict" with that line. [WSJ

    Read More →

Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA)--two time survivor of Hodgkins disease--is no stranger to cancer, cancer awareness, and cancer research funding. But he's using his hard earned credibility as a national spokesperson on the issue to fight the disease in a roundabout way.

He's touting--and raising money from--a website called specterforthecure.com, which he describes as "a bold new initiative to reform our government's medical research efforts, cut red tape and unstrangle the hope for accelerated cures."



But the money he's raising isn't funding research grants, or advocacy, or treatment for patients who can't afford it. It's funding the Senate re-election campaign of one Arlen Specter.

Read More →

TPMLivewire