TPM News

President Obama will ask Congress on Friday for the power to combine several trade and commerce agencies to shrink the size of the federal government, the Washington Post reports. The White House says the plan could eliminate more than 1,000 jobs and save $3 billion over 10 years, according to the Post.

The U.S. is using a “secret channel of communication” to warn Iran that closing the Strait of Hormuz — through which about a fifth of the world’s daily oil trade passes — would be a “red line” that would provoke an American response, the New York Times reports, citing U.S. government officials.

You probably thought you knew Newt Gingrich: he was the man who hated government so much that as Republican House Speaker he even shut it down. He was the thorn in Bill Clinton's side througout the 1990s. He was undeniably a significant figure in modern conservatism.

Well, it turns out you were wrong. Newt Gingrich is in fact a communist, business-hating Maoist. At least, that's what you'd have gathered if you watched cable news today. The GOP establishment was in full meltdown mode over his attacks on Mitt Romney's time at the private equity firm, Bain Capital. They clearly fear it's going to give the Democrats a bipartisan gloss on banging Bain come the general election and they have one priority: shut Newt down. Now.

So grab the popcorn. You've heard of "trial by media"? This is more like "Stalinist show trial by media." Enjoy.

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Updated 6:14 pm ET, Thursday, January 12

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), one of the most prominent and outspoken critics of the House's much-reviled Stop Online Piracy Act and its sister in the Senate, PROTECT IP, made waves around the Web monday by announcing that he will be leading a hearing on Wednesday, January 18 to give "technical experts" and critics of the bills the chance to testify before the House Oversight Committee, of which he is the chairman.

"An open Internet is crucial to American job creation, government operations, and the daily routines of Americans from all walks of life," Issa said in a statement. "The public deserves a full discussion about the consequences of changing the way Americans access information and communicate on the Internet today."

Among those invited to testify at the hearing were a number of high-profile SOPA/PIPA critics in the private sector, including Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian.

"It's now public. I'm headed back to DC to address the U.S. House Oversight & Government Reform Committee about SOPA & PIPA. Wish me luck," Ohanian posted on Google Plus on Monday.

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There's lots of talk in election season about a ratio of dollars-to-votes; how many votes can be won by heavy spending. But particularly in the primaries, in states like New Hampshire and Iowa which are used to meeting and vetting the candidates, there's another metric: time. Some argue that traditional retail campaigning has been replaced by TV ad buys, but shaking hands has to count for something, right?

Jon Huntsman thought so. He skipped Iowa and focused on wooing New Hampshire voters the old-fashioned way. In the last few months, the former ambassador and ex-Utah governor spent more time in the state than any other candidate, holding twice as many events as Ron Paul, and more than twice the number of Mitt Romney.

TPM tallied the campaign events held by each of the candidates from Labor Day 2011 to the New Hampshire primary on January 10, 2012. Clearly, the amount of time spent on the ground did not predict the winner.

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Adam Smith, political editor of the Tampa Bay Times, reports that Newt Gingrich will address the Hispanic Leadership Conference on January 27 in Miami.

Gingrich will join a panel of speakers at the two-day event that includes Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL).

While members of the Republican party and conservative intelligentsia are lining up to rebut Newt Gingrich’s recent attacks against Mitt Romney, a key financier of the former House Speaker is separating himself from those very criticisms.

A source close to Sheldon Adelson, the casino mogul who recently made a $5 million donation to the pro-Gingrich Super PAC, has told the Las Vegas Sun that the self-made billionaire is not affiliated with “King of Bain,” the 28 minute anti-Romney documentary that’s being propped up by Winning Our Future:

“The key to remember here is that he gave a donation to support Newt,” the source said. “What happens from the time when that contribution lands with that PAC to now, he’s not involved with. He’s not been involved in the strategies and the tactics.”