TPM News

Six senators, led by Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), are pushing for sweeping changes to the nation's laws governing detainees and the war on terror, including one that would strip Attorney General Eric Holder and the Justice Department as a whole of the power to make decisions about where to try suspected terrorists.

The group of senators, which includes Sens. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Scott Brown (R-MA), Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Joe Lieberman (I-CT), are working with Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee on a bill that would usher in comprehensive detainee policy changes and would, among other things, affirm the military's right to detain, hold and interrogate detains at its discretion without the involvement of the Department of Justice or Holder.

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One hallmark of the protests in Wisconsin has been how, well, benign they've been. Other than a semi-serious discussion about tape residue left by the pro-union activists who filled the state capitol, there have been few arrests and even fewer reports of violence. Following the state Senate GOP's unilateral passage of the bill taking away collective bargaining rights from thousands of state workers, however, things may have taken a turn for the darker.

The AP reports the Wisconsin Dept. Of Justice "is investigating an e-mail threatening the lives" of several Republican lawmakers, including Senate leader Scott Fitzgerald. From the text of the emails first published by WTMJ-AM:

Please put your things in order because you will be killed and your familes [sic] will also be killed due to your actions in the last 8 weeks.

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Not only are Muslims being viewed with a skeptical eye in Congress, but adults nationwide appear to be wary of fellow Americans who are Muslim, according to a new Gallup poll.

The results offer a surprising view of just how suspicious Americans are of not only Islam in general, but of Muslims living within the United States. The poll was released the same day that House hearings on the radicalization of American Muslims, led by Rep. Peter King (R-NY) got off to a highly emotional start.

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Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is upset that the federal government has squelched his right to own a super-toilet, leaving him with less freedom than women, who are still allowed to have abortions. It's an unusual comparison, but it's meant to underline his opposition to the executive branch's involvement in encouraging energy efficiency.

In a Senate hearing, Paul laid in to Kathleen Hogan, deputy assistant energy secretary for efficiency, for imposing restrictions and fines meant to encourage people to use environmentally friendly appliances.

"It's not that I'm against conservation -- I'm all for energy conservation," Paul admitted. "But I wish you would come here to extol me [sic], to cajole, to encourage, to try to convince me that it would be a good idea to conserve energy. But you come instead with fines, threats of jail. ... This is what your energy efficiency standards are."

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If Sarah Palin ultimately decides to enter the 2012 presidential race, she'll have a long, long way to go to reach the White House: A new Bloomberg News poll of American adults finds Palin is now more unpopular than ever.

The poll adds to the clear trend of public opinion surveys showing Palin polarizing the electorate, with more and more Americans developing unfavorable opinions of her. And it shows that, should she run for and win the Republican Party's presidential nomination, she would need to drastically change voters' perceptions of her in order to win the general election.

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Rep. Dan Lungren (R-CA) said that it's unfair to criticize Rep. Peter King's (R-NY) hearings on Muslim radicalization for having a "singular focus," because the hearings are "looking at a specific problem and we're trying to deal with it" -- just like similar panels, he said, that dealt with neo-Nazis, the KKK, and militia groups.

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A bill may have passed the senate, but the standoff continues in Wisconsin, where the state Capitol building in Madison was on lockdown Thursday morning -- preventing the entrance of not only protesters, but also staff, members of the media, and even elected legislators. As the Wisconsin State Journal reports, the building has now opened, with people entering being screened for weapons.

WisPolitics reports that as a result of the earlier capitol closure, the Assembly has delayed its scheduled 11 a.m. CT session to vote on Gov. Scott Walker's bill rolling back public employee union rights. "Capitol Police has advised us to delay the Assembly session until the building can be properly secured," said a statement from Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald (R). "Assembly Republicans still intend to make a vote and pass the Conference Committee on Special Session AB11 today."

The Assembly is set to begin again soon. (Late Update: As of this writing, 1:35 p.m. ET, the Assembly is holding a roll call as it comes to order.)

Earlier, as WisPolitics reported, the lockdown of the Assembly chamber even prevented Democratic members, who were pounding on the doors, from getting in.

That led to this exchange:

Assistant Minority Leader Donna Seidel, D-Wausau, yelled at Rep. Joel Kleefisch that Dems demanded access to the chamber.

Kleefisch turned and responded, "The Democrats in the Senate should have showed up then."

The response prompted more shouts from Dems.


Joel Kleefisch is the husband of Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch.

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Three weeks after he left the state, WisPolitics reports that Dem State Sen. Jim Holperin is returning home--and that he expects other Democrats to head back as well.

Holperin said that a majority of the Democratic caucus met Wednesday and agreed to return to the state after the Assembly voted through the anti-collective-bargaining provision that was passed by the Senate Wednesday night.

He told WisPolitics he still believed leaving the state was the right strategy for to Dems to have pursued.

[Holperin] said in the end, the action achieved the short-term goal of bringing attention to details of the budget repair bill and proving its true intent was ending collective bargaining rights.

But long term, Senate Dems failed to negotiate a compromise that would achieve the savings the guv sought through the higher pension and health care payments while protecting the rights of public employees to negotiate.

"As it turns out, that was a hope not realized and so that's why I say it was kind of a bittersweet return and those bargaining rights were lost where I thought might be a compromise," Holperin said.

At his weekly Capitol briefing with reporters Thursday, House Speaker John Boehner dismissed an entreaty from Senate Democrats to negotiate a spending bill that includes budget cuts and revenue generators from all areas of government.

"To try to muddle the current issue with entitlement programs, tax increases -- that's what the next budget process is for," Boehner said, "and we'll have plenty of opportunities to talk about that."

To recap, the GOP-controlled House and Democratic-controlled Senate have reached an impasse on how to fund the government through the end of the fiscal year in September. Republicans will only agree to spending legislation that includes significant cuts to domestic discretionary spending. In recent days, Senate Democrats have approached with a counter offer: let's find similar overall savings, but culled more broadly -- from defense spending, entitlements, tax subsidies and so on.

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