TPM News

Eleven survivors and family members of victims of the January 2011 shooting in Arizona that nearly killed Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D) are criticizing Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) for what they say was a "dismissive and political response" to Tucson shooting survivor Patricia Maisch's testimony in support of legislation which would close holes in the gun background check system.

In a letter sent to Grassley on Wednesday and obtained by TPM, Retired Colonel Bill Badger, Nancy Bowman, Carol Dorushka, Kenneth Dorushka, Randy Gardner, John Maisch, Patricia Maisch, Angela Robbinson, Faith Salzgeber, Foger Salzgeber and Mavy Stoddard write of their "profound disappointment" with Grassley's "obvious disregard for the gun violence survivors in the room" as well as his "apparent ignorance of the deadly serious issue we came to discuss with you."

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Google's policy counsel gave a compelling argument against the proposed Stop Online Piracy Act in Wednesday's hearing before the House Judiciary Committee, but there were multiple other witnesses who testified in support of the bill's passage, saying it is necessary to protect American intellectual property and American jobs.

Four of six total witnesses argued in favor of the bill, countering the criticisms of those who weren't represented at the hearing, including many Web companies, consumer rights advocates, lawyers and other groups who say SOPA, as it is abbreviated, is ill-advised and would damage the Internet economy.

Maria Pallante, the U.S. Registrar of Copyrights, started things off with a bang, saying in her prepared statement: "It is my view that if Congress does not continue to provide serious responses to online piracy, the U.S. copyright system will ultimately fail."

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At a campaign event in western Iowa, Michele Bachmann spoke about the key foreign policy issues of defending Israel and challenging Iranian influence in the Middle East -- and declared that other countries ought to be afraid of the United States.

"That's the problem today in foreign policy: You want the other nations to fear us," Bachmann said, the Des Moines Register reports. "They don't fear us today. They laugh at us. This is serious. The United States is being mocked at and laughed at. We're the military super power of the world and we're being mocked at and laughed at and being disrespected?"

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Updated 4:55 PM Rick Perry's campaign is up with a new ad titled"Lazy." It goes after President Obama for recent comments he made to CEOs suggesting that US lawmakers have "been a little bit lazy over the last couple of decades" by assuming foreign competitors would have a hard time catching up.

Here's what he said, responding to a question specifically on policy barriers to trade: "We've been a little bit lazy over the last couple of decades. We've kind of taken for granted -- 'Well, people would want to come here' -- and we aren't out there hungry, selling America and trying to attract new businesses into America."

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Mention "flip flops" to anyone in political circles and two things will probably come to mind instantly: Mitt Romney and a mind-blowing ability to be strongly in favor of one position, before getting behind another, as though it has been your firmly-held belief all along. This strategy has been a favorite of politicians since the dinosaurs lined up to vote (sorry, creationists).

Newt Gingrich, however, has elevated the flip-flop to a finely-honed art form. The ability to hold one position, then the opposite; then if anyone questions you, to smack them down in their ignorance that, not only are the two views not mutually exclusive, but they were wrong to even question you and that whatever you did and whatever you said, you retained the moral high ground the entire time.

Benjy Sarlin explains...

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Shortly after catching heat from Democrats, Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) addressed reporters in the Cannon House Office Building to revise and extend controversial Tuesday comments, which threw the Super Committee's prospects into doubt. But he indicated that the two parties are stuck in a standoff -- one they don't really have time for. And Republicans won't budge, he insisted, unless Democrats take agree to far-reaching plan to change Medicare.

"Something has to be at the Congressional Budget Office by Monday," Hensarling said.

Hensarling hinted that his hard line on new taxes might not be so hard ... but only if Democrats are willing to fundamentally overhaul Medicare.

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Because of a "scheduling issue", American viewers won't be seeing a new BBC documentary program focusing on climate change.

The Telegraph reports that the seven-part series, Frozen Planet, will include that seventh climate change episode as an "optional extra" -- not to be seen on the Discovery Channel in the U.S.

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Another sign that the Super Committee's about to implode: Panel Democrats just scolded Republican co-chair Jeb Hensarling for taking his bright lines public on Tuesday, contrary to the spirit of the negotiations, which have been mostly leak-free.

"We've been really working hard not to negotiate in public and not to negotiate through you folks but to talk to each other in good faith and try to work through a compromise," said Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) after a closed door meeting.. "I think when people go public and say what they're willing and not willing to do, it isn't as helpful as sitting at a table and trying to work through these things. "

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