TPM News

On Tuesday, the Senate GOP--with the support of Democrats Ben Nelson (D-NE) and Blanche Lincoln (D-AR)--successfully filibustered the nomination of Craig Becker to serve a term on the National Labor Relations Board. All told, because of snow-related absences, 33 senators were able to block the confirmation of a nominee who had the support of a significant majority of members. That has many in Washington asking: Will President Obama offer Becker a recess appointment? Obama has thus far been reluctant to exploit that tool--but if he does, he can point to the record of his predecessor, President George W. Bush, who recess appointed seven of his nine NLRB nominees.

Some of Bush's NLRB nominees were Senate confirmed, including Peter Hurtgen and Peter Schaumber who each served multiple terms, including one under a recess appointment. But the vast majority were able to circumvent the standard process.

According to records kept by NLRB, the list of Bush's NLRB appointees--including both recess appointments and confirmations--is as follows.

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As Sarah Palin relaunches her image for the next stage of her political career, there's a small set of advisers who are shaping the former governor's policy positions and public persona.

The group, a brain trust of sorts, includes Randy Scheunemann, the lobbyist who advised McCain on foreign policy and was one of the architects of the Iraq War, and Kim Daniels, a little-known conservative attorney who specializes in "rights of conscience" health care issues.

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Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) could be beginning to let his sense of humor show itself again, after a mostly low-key tenure so far in public office. A new fundraising e-mail from the Minnesota senator displays a certain self-awareness on the part of the comedian-turned-politician about the absurdities that usually show up in these sorts of things.

The e-mail seeks to parlay Franken's opposition to the NBC-Comcast merger into some campaign contributions. "And as much as I don't trust Comcast and NBC to be honest brokers on this deal, I am trusting you to help me build support for my positions on issues like this one," Franken writes. "And as usual, by 'support' I mean 'money.'"

The e-mail also includes a graphic with the corporate logos "Comcast + NBC," contained inside a "no" symbol of a circle with a line through it. The caption declares: "Support The Vocal Opposition (ME)!" Check it out after the jump.

(Via the Star-Tribune.)

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Neither the Democratic nor the Republican campaign committees that raked in big bucks from accused Ponzi schemer Allen Stanford, according to the court-appointed receiver in the case, say they plan to return the cash.

The receiver, Dallas lawyer Ralph Janvey told the AP that the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) had received $950,000 from Stanford, and that the National Republican Campaign Committee had gotten $238,500.

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White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs appeared on MSNBC this morning to push back against Republican attacks that the administration is soft on terror because the Christmas Day bomber was read his Miranda rights.

Gibbs argued that the FBI interrogators who questioned Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab are "among the most experience interrogators" in the country.

"We have listened to politicians in Congress describe how they think is best to interrogate somebody who tried to blow up an airplane that landed in Detroit. I think what's better, and what would make the American people feel safer, is if the people who are trained to interrogate, law enforcement professionals, people with decades of counter-terrorism experience are the ones who are doing this," he said.

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Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-FL) will announce his retirement at a press conference this afternoon.

Diaz-Balart has represented his Miami-based district in the House for 18 years. His retirement brings the number of House Republicans who will not seek reelection in 2010 to 18. Most of those 18 serve solidly red districts, but Diaz-Balart's could be competitive.

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL)--brother of Lincoln--serves a neighboring, though less safe district and some reports suggest that Mario might run for Lincoln's seat. That would leave two contestable House seats vacant as the November elections approach.

A Republican source tells TPMDC that state Rep. David Rivera (R-FL), who is currently running for a local state Senate seat, could in turn switch races and run for Mario's House seat, as Mario switches into Lincoln's district.

Additional reporting by Eric Kleefeld

Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-WI) determination to privatize Social Security and dismantle Medicare -- what he calls a "collectivist system" -- comes, at least in part, from his longstanding devotion to the works of Ayn Rand.

Rand developed the objectivist philosophy, which values the self, capitalism and laissez-faire economics. Ryan, the ranking member of the House Budget Committee, reportedly requires staffers and interns to read her opus, Atlas Shrugged, and gives out copies as gifts.

In his keynote address to CPAC last year, Ryan said Obama's policies sound "like something right out of an Ayn Rand novel."

Fearing political suicide, Republican leaders have tried to distance themselves from Ryan's "roadmap" budget proposal, which calls for privatizing Social Security. But Ryan is upfront about it.

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A Massachusetts technology consultant who feared martial law was imminent and was preparing for "Armageddon," according to police, has been charged with stockpiling weapons, and having explosive devices including tear gas and pepper ball canisters.

Gregory Girard of Manchester was arrested Tuesday night after a friend of his wife tipped off the Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms Bureau to Girard's alleged weapons stash, reports the Gloucester Daily Times. ATF then notified local police.

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Say it ain't so, Joe, there ya go again!

Vice President Joe Biden is one step ahead of the curve on Sarah Palin.

"It's sort of like some of the comments made are just so far sorta out there I just don't know where they come from," Biden said on Larry King Live last night. "But, if you met her, she's an engaging person. She has a great personality."

Biden went on: "My sense is that Sarah appeals, Gov. Palin appeals to a group of people who are generally frustrated, feel disenfranchised, are very conservative, not all of them...Tea Party people, but beyond that."

"She has appeal beyond that as well," Biden added, "but I don't know that it represents anything approaching a significant portion of the population."

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A new survey by Public Policy Polling (D) finds that freshman Rep. Tom Perriello (D-VA), who is often cited in the press as one of the most endangered Democrats in the House, is actually not in bad shape at all. Perriello is in a tight race in his swing district, but he is not the goner that conventional wisdom has made him out to be.

Perriello leads Albemarle County Supervisor Ken Boyd by 46%-42%, and he is tied at 44%-44% with state Sen. Robert Hurt, an establishment candidate much derided by the Tea Party movement. Perriello also leads businessman Jim McKelvey by 45%-37%, and he leads former Navy pilot Michael McPadden by 45%-36%. Perriello has a 44%-34% lead over businessman Laurence Verga, a favorite of the Tea Parties.

So what explains the the fact that Perriello still appears to be competitive in a race that many observers have viewed as a top pick-up opportunity for the Republicans? (For now, Perriello doesn't make it into double-digits among self-identified GOP voters in any of these match-ups. But the GOP isn't able to get a huge lead among independents, either.) Or is Perriello running a smarter campaign than people are giving him credit for? It's hard to say, but the new poll has Perriello's net approval rating in slightly negative territory, with 42% approval to 46% disapproval, which makes his current leads and tied results all the more interesting.

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