TPM News

Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele may be misremembering exactly how and when the Afghanistan war began.

At a Republican Party fundraiser in Connecticut on Thursday, Steele declared that the war in Afghanistan "was a war of Obama's choosing" that America had not "actively prosecuted or wanted to engage in," in a response to an attendee's question about the resignation of Gen. Stanley McChrystal -- which Steele called "very comical."

[TPM SLIDESHOW: Best Boss Ever? Michael Steele & The RNC Interns]

"The McChrystal incident, to me, was very comical. And I think it's a reflection of the frustration that a lot of our military leaders have with this Administration and their prosecution of the war in Afghanistan," said Steele. "Keep in mind again, federal candidates, this was a war of Obama's choosing. This is not something the United States had actively prosecuted or wanted to engage in."

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The House Ethics Committee, in its probe of sexual harassment allegations made against former Rep. Eric Massa (D-NY), has interviewed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Politico reports, likely about how much House leaders knew about the allegations and how they responded.

Politico also reports that the committee will release its report on the investigation soon.

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Dems Shaping Battle Plan Against Republicans For November The Washington Post reports: "Architects of President Obama's 2008 victory are braced for potentially sizable Democratic losses in November's midterm elections. But they say voters' unease about a GOP takeover will help their party maintain congressional majorities. 'I think the prospect of a Republican takeover -- while not likely, but plausible -- will be very much part of the dynamic in October, and I think that will help us with turnout and some of this enthusiasm gap,' said David Plouffe, who was Obama's campaign manager two years ago and is helping to oversee Democratic efforts this fall. Still, he put all Democrats on notice, saying: 'We'd better act as a party as if the House and the Senate and every major governor's race is at stake and in danger, because they could be.'"

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama will depart the White House at 9:20 a.m. ET, and will make a 9:35 a.m. ET statement to the press on the economy at Andrews Air Force Base. Obama and Vice President Biden will depart from Andrews Air Force Base at 9:50 a.m. ET, arriving at 10:55 a.m. ET in Charleston, West Virginia. Obama and Biden will deliver remarks at an 11:30 a.m. ET memorial service for the late Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV) at the West Virginia State Capitol. They will depart from Charleston at 1:55 p.m. ET, arriving at 3 p.m. ET at Andrews Air Force Base. Obama will then depart from Andrews Air Force Base at 3:05 p.m. ET, en route to Camp David.

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Last night, Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA)gave the final Wall Street reform bill the thumbs up. In May, Cantwell was one of two Democrats to oppose the Senate-passed bill from the left, and had been mostly silent about the legislation for weeks. But by announcing her intent to vote for the financial reform conference report, Cantwell all but assures the legislation will pass.

"I will vote in support of the conference report because it makes great strides toward our ultimate goal: bringing all standard derivatives onto exchanges and clearinghouses, with aggregate position limits and strong anti-manipulation tools," Cantwell said in an official statement. "...This legislation is not perfect, and I will continue to push for even bolder action - including a return to the Glass-Steagall separation of commercial and investment banking - to reign in Wall Street, put an end to the concept of 'too-big-to-fail.' But this bill makes significant strides toward preventing the kind of financial meltdown that we saw in the fall of 2008."

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When defending her highly criticized immigration law, Gov. Jan Brewer (R) often lists the myriad problems she says undocumented immigrants bring to her state. In an interview on Fox News last week, for example, she claimed: "We cannot afford all this illegal immigration and everything that comes with it, everything from the crime and to the drugs and the kidnappings and the extortion and the beheadings ..."

There's no better way, it seems, to make the case for strict anti-immigration laws than to claim that undocumented immigrants are pouring into the country to decapitate innocent Americans.

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In response to the lawsuit filed by Daily Kos against him this week, Research 2000 president Del Ali is accusing Kos of owing him money "in the six figure category" and of using "Kos bloggers posing as statisticians" to slander R2K.

"Every charge against my company and myself are pure lies, plain and simple and the motives as to why Kos is doing it will be revealed in the legal process and not before that," Ali writes in a lengthy, at times discursive statement to TPMmuckraker, which you can read in full below.

(Kos, by the way, has said he paid for all the polling he received.)

He also delves into the statistical analysis at the heart of the dispute, which Kos says proves R2K's polls are fraudulent. It was written by three so-called "statistics wizards" who contacted Kos after finding what they call extreme anomalies in R2K's poll data.

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The Republican National Committee could be on the verge of seriously altering its 2012 presidential nomination process, the Hotline reports, with a special committee's draft rules introducing such changes as pushing back the key primary and caucus dates and adding in proportional representation.

The special committee's rules preserve the same four early state as last time -- Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada -- but move the contest dates into February instead of January. And for the GOP primaries to be held in March, their contests would require proportional delegate allocation, instead of the proliferation of winner-take-all contests that the Republicans used last time.

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It wasn't quite a supreme grilling, but some of the Judiciary Committee's members were surprisingly tough on Solicitor General Elena Kagan this week. Although at first the Republicans spent their time deriding Thurgood Marshall as a so-called "activist judge," by day three they took up all the hot button social issues they had largely ignored in the first round of questions.

Since Kagan's testimony is complete -- Chairman Pat Leahy told her it was "The last time you'll ever have to be in a public hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee." -- TPM rounded up the toughest questioners. They might just surprise you, since some Democrats gave Kagan as hard a time as their colleagues across the aisle.

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Gov. Charlie Crist (I-FL), who left the Republican Party to run for Senate as an independent, picked up the support of two labor unions on Wednesday, an interesting position to be in for someone who was a Republican until just over two months ago.

The endorsements by the Florida Pipe Trades Council and Corrections USA provide another data point is Crist's apparent effort to overtake Democratic Rep. Kendrick Meek among Dem voters, donors and interest groups. Granted, these are relatively smaller unions compared to Meek's labor haul -- he has the AFL-CIO endorsement, and the state teacher's union gave a dual endorsement for each of them. But it does provide further evidence of Crist's gains.

John Lindstrom, international representative for the Pipe Trades union in Florida and the Carolinas, told TPMDC that Crist's record on key issues for the construction business, such as a recent jobs bill, made him the best way to go. However, he also confirmed to us that the state of the race, with Crist appearing to be the stronger candidate to defeat Republican Marco Rubio, was a factor: "We looked at the entire race, we looked at the dynamics, we talked to our members, we talked to the leaders of different unions, and it was unanimous that Crist was the way to go."

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Portland Police Chief Michael Reese just released a statement on the Al Gore sexual assault allegations saying there were "procedural issues" with the original investigation that merited re-opening the case.

"In reviewing this case, we have determined there were procedural issues with the 2009 investigation that merit re-opening the case," Reese said. "There should have been command level review at the time on the specifics of this case and decisions on whether the investigation should go forward."

Remember, the police declined to pursue an investigation of the 2006 incident after a 2009 interview with the woman who accused Gore of sexual assault, Molly Hagerty. At the time they cited "insufficient evidence." But now Reese appears to be saying that call should have been made at a higher level of the department.

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