TPM News

President Obama delivered the following remarks on mine safety today at the White House Rose Garden:

THE PRESIDENT: Good morning, everybody. On April 5th, the United States suffered the worst mine disaster in more than a generation. Twenty-nine lives were lost. Families have been devastated. Communities have been upended. And during this painful time, all of us are mourning with the people of Montcoal and Whitesville and Naoma and the Coal River Valley. The people of West Virginia are in our prayers.

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Arkansas Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, who is challenging incumbent Sen. Blanche Lincoln in the Democratic primary, has a new ad accusing her of undermining Social Security, in a clear bid for the senior citizen vote in the primary.

"Lincoln voted to cut our Social Security benefits, and to raise taxes on Social Security," the announcer says.

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On Tuesday we told you about Jason Levin, a teacher from Oregon whose group, Crash the Tea Party, aims to bring down the tea parties from the inside. Now, as The Oregonian reports, his school district is investigating his actions after hundreds of calls and emails poured in calling for his dismissal.

The district is investigating whether he used work time to create his web site, crashtheteaparty.org. A school spokesman said he won't be disciplined for his political beliefs.

"That's a free speech issue," said the spokesman. "That's his thing, but what we want to make sure is that he has been appropriate in terms of his actions during his ... work time."

The Tea Party Patriots may be behind the flood of calls. The group included the school district's phone number and contact form in an email Tuesday to supporters.

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The "2010 taxpayer revolt" on freedom plaza in DC this morning began on an ironic note. Before the festivities kicked off, the crowd was introduced to about a dozen people in day-glo yellow t shirts bearing the words "tea party census."

"We need to get an accurate count of who was here," an organizer told the crowd, which comfortably filled the plaza. "So please fill out the cards these people will be bringing around."

That's right -- the anti-Census tea party movment is taking names and its conducting own count of Americans on Tax Day. The organizer said that the organizers of the rally need to take names in the crowd to help "build a political movement" in advance of the November elections.

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Democratic Senate candidate Roxanne Conlin -- who is running for Sen. Chuck Grassley's (R-IA) seat -- has reported she's raised $629,615 in the first quarter of 2010. Additionally, Conlin contributed $250,000 from her own pocket, for a total of $879,615.

This gives her just over $1 million in cash at hand.

Conlin faces Bob Krause and former state Sen. Tom Fiegen in the June 8 Democratic primary.

Correction: This post originally gave the incorrect total for outside contributions received by Conlin's campaign. We regret the error.

The National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee has a new tongue-in-cheek Web video marking Tax Day, with a man and woman bemoaning high taxes and spending under President Obama and the Democrats in Congress -- and the coming dominance of our Chinese overlords.

"And haven't you noticed how Barack Obama keeps spending our money," the man and woman say, "which raises the national debt ceiling to the point that Americans may soon bow down to their Chinese overlords? Hahahaha."

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Seems like just about everyone is irritated with Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele these days, but both friends and foes of the embattled party leader think allies of Karl Rove and former Bush-era RNC staffers are fanning the flames to make Steele's problems worse.

Republicans told me in interviews that Rove's team got cozy at the RNC during the eight years of the Bush presidency, and feathers were ruffled when Steele was elected and cleaned house. They admitted Steele has dug himself into a deep hole, but the spate of recent death watch stories on national television and gracing the nation's front pages seemed like a calculated effort to trash the chairman as revenge.

The GOP universe isn't huge -- consultants who worked with the RNC decades ago are bound to pop up again and hop from campaign to campaign. But some people tied to Rove, George W. Bush's right-hand man, were "badly, badly hurt when Michael came in," an RNC member told me in an interview. "It's no surprise he's got a collection of enemies."

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About a week or two. That's how long Republicans have to decide how they ultimately want to play their hand on financial regulatory reform. According to numerous Democratic aides and key senators, the GOP will either have to join forces with Democrats on a bill that hews very much to the White House's demands, or they'll have to do their best to block a bill that enjoys wide popularity. But as much as Democrats want to change the rules that govern Wall Street quickly and smoothly, they also love the politics of moving the bill forward without GOP support and letting Republicans publicly justify their decision to protect hated financial institutions from the regulations they oppose.

"We are ready to go forward. The bill's ready...if I have to go it alone, I'll go it alone.... I'm ready to go to the floor tomorrow if they want." said Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd last night, after a brief meeting with his counterpart, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL).

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Andrew Romanoff, a Democratic challenger to Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO), was caught by the Denver Post altering a banner photo on his web site to include a black woman standing by his side.

The Photoshop job takes a photo of Romanoff speaking with supporters at a kickoff rally last September and adds a photo of one Andrea Mosby, an African-American woman who was also at the rally, to Romanoff's side. The campaign also added several more supporters to fill out the crowd.

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Here's another interesting section of the document filed by federal prosecutors yesterday in the Rod Blagojevich case:

After Barack Obama's election to the presidency, the Illinois governor was considering how to leverage his power to appoint Obama's replacement. Blagojevich seemed to believe that if he picked Valerie Jarrett -- a close Obama adviser who now serves in the White House -- he could get the White House to name him Secretary of Health and Human Services in exchange, prosecutors allege. And, they say, he talked explicitly about such a "trade."

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