TPM News

Following up on Sen. Carl Levin's (D-MI) dismantling of Goldman Sachs at this morning's Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations hearing, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) slammed the investment bank in her opening statement.

Saying that Goldman hides behind complicated jargon to mask financial moves and products that aren't quite above board, McCaskill offered some definitions.

"Let me just explain in very simple terms what synthetic CDOs are," she said. "They are instruments that are created so that people can bet on them."

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You don't have to go back in time too far to remember when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid ran the Senate in a way that drove progressive Democrats into fits of apoplexy: timidly, and unwilling to use the body's rules for political advantage. Suddenly, with health care reform behind him, and bleak political prospects for both himself and his party staring him in the face, Reid has decided that it's finally time to charge hard.

After quarterbacking health care reform through its tricky final moments in the Senate, Reid put the GOP on the spot yesterday, forcing them to filibuster a broadly popular Wall Street reform bill, and promises to do so over and over again. He's calling out deception, and turning his attention to issues--immigration--that marginalize his opponents, and cleave the Republican party in two.

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Gov. Charlie Crist (R-FL), who is trailing in the polls for his Republican primary for Senate, has announced that he will decide on Thursday whether he will bolt the GOP and run as an independent.

This is one day earlier than when Crist would legally have to make his decision, at the Friday filing deadline on Friday. From the Associated Press report: "Asked what's changed that's making him consider an independent run, Crist quietly responded that he didn't know."

If Crist doesn't know why he might be considering an independent run, here are some quick clues. The TPM Poll Average for the Republican primary gives Marco Rubio a lead of 59.1%-27.9% over Crist, the opposite of where things were a year ago. Meanwhile, the poll average for a three-way general election only gives Rubio a narrow lead with 33.8% of the vote, followed by an independent Crist at 27.8%, and Democratic Rep. Kendrick Meek with 22.5%.

Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) just finished up his opening statement at this morning's Senate Permanent Subcomittee on Investigations -- and it was quite a show.

Levin ripped Goldman Sachs -- charging that the investment bank has consistently misrepresented its role in the financial crisis, and misrepresented its profit motives to customers.

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When Stephen Colbert goes to the hospital, he makes sure to "always wear clean underwear, and carry plenty of farm animals," which he demonstrated last night using a chicken, rabbit, parakeet, and duck.

Riffing off of Nevada Senate candidate Sue Lowden's (R) advice to "barter with your doctor" to save money on health care, Colbert added that he also keeps a dead trout on hand just in case his doctor doesn't eat meat.

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The Republicans finally have a candidate to run against Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY).

Jay Townsend, a GOP political strategist, is scheduled to announce this Saturday that he will run against Schumer.

Interestingly, Townsend sells a DVD seminar entitled "So You Want To Run For Public Office?" The first DVD, "Things You Must Know and Do Before You Run," sells for $99. Let's see how well this political campaign teacher does in the actual practice. He has his work cut out for him, though -- the TPM Poll Average currently gives Schumer an approval rating of 54.3%-37.3%.

Late Update: This post originally identified Townsend as a Fox News commentator. A Fox News representative tells us that Townsend is not in fact a Fox News commentator, nor he is employed by the network.

Fabrice Tourre, the Goldman executive (now on leave) named in the SEC's civil suit against the investment bank, will tell a Senate subcommittee today that a mortgage-related security at the heart of the suit "was not designed to fail."

In prepared testimony, Tourre says: "I deny--categorically--the SEC's allegation. And I will defend myself in court against this false claim."

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The Democratic National Committee is taking an early shot at one of the top potential Republican presidential candidates, with a new Web video attacking Mitt Romney as "Wall Street's best friend" in the current debate over financial reform.

The video depicts various instances of Romney blasting President Obama for blaming "Wall Street, or Goldman Sachs, or bankers, or wealthy people" for the economy's woes. Also included is an old photo, apparently from the 1980s, of a very Gordon Gekko-esque Romney surrounded by other businessmen waving cash around, with some of them (but not Romney) holding the money between their teeth.

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The incredibly controversial immigration bill signed into law in Arizona last week turns out to be just the latest in a string of super-conservative bills passed by the state legislature this year. From punishing welfare recipients for getting cable to making the state the official sponsor of birther conspiracies, Arizona lawmakers have turned their desert paradise into a bright-red beacon of conservatism and a fantasy island of right-wing dream legislation.

This begs the question: what happened to Arizona? Wasn't it, briefly, an unlikely swing state trending purple in 2008? Wasn't it the place where even John McCain's name on the presidential ballot couldn't stem the rising tide of Democratic registrations?

We set out to find out where all that hopey changey stuff went in Arizona, and what's behind its dramatic tilt to the right.

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The House Ethics Committee, typically one of the least communicative institutions in Congress, has released a three-page statement defending its investigation that found no wrongdoing in the case of now defunct lobbying firm PMA Group, which was allegedly involved in exchanging campaign contributions for defense earmarks.

"[D]isclosing specific investigative steps taken in the PMA matter could compromise any ongoing criminal investigations; harm the ability of the Committee to investigate any additional allegations of wrongdoing in this or related matters; discourage those who might bring credible allegations to the Committee in the future from doing so; and chill the voluntary cooperation of those called before the Committee in various investigations," said Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and Jo Bonner (R-AL), chair and ranking member of the ethics panel.

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