TPM News

Tom DeLay's lawyers began his defense yesterday by helping prove the prosecution's case.

DeLay, the former Republican House majority leader, is standing trial in Texas on allegations that he orchestrated a money swap. In 2002, his Texas PAC gave $190,000 in corporate money to the RNC, which then turned around and gave a total of $190,000 to seven Texas state house candidates picked by DeLay's PAC. Under Texas law, corporate money cannot be used to fund state campaigns.

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Half of Americans now oppose the war in Afghanistan, according to a newly released Quinnipiac poll.

The survey finds 50% of respondents indicating the U.S. should "not be involved in Afghanistan," versus 44% who believe America is "doing the right thing by fighting the war." This is the first time Quinnipiac has found more respondents in opposition to the war than in support of it. A September 9 survey found 49% supporting American involvement, with 41% in opposition. Back in January, the pollster saw 59% supporting the war, while only 35% opposed it.

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House Democrats are exploiting an embarrassing moment for the GOP earlier this week to highlight the hypocrisy of Republicans' relentless opposition to health care reform.

Four members -- Joe Crowley (NY), Linda Sanchez (CA), Donna Edwards (MD), and Tim Ryan (OH) -- are rounding up signatures for a letter to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Speaker-to-be John Boehner, encouraging them to press their members to refuse their federal health benefits based on the same principles underlying their opposition to health care reform.

"It is amazing that your members would complain about not having health care coverage for a few weeks, even after campaigning to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which will help provide coverage to millions of Americans who find themselves without health insurance for months or even years," the letter reads. "It begs the question: how many members of the Republican conference will be forgoing the employer-subsidized FEHBP coverage and experiencing what so many Americans find themselves forced to face? If your conference wants to deny millions of Americans affordable health care, your members should walk that walk."

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Normally Ann Coulter is up for debating anyone and is usually ready to either make an intentionally headline-grabbing statement like calling the TSA's airport screening measures "Hitler's last revenge" or throwing out genuinely funny one-liners like this from yesterday's O'Reilly Factor appearance, "you have the choice of either being fondled by a complete stranger, go to your left . . . or if you want to appear nude on live video go to your right."

That's why Coulter's humorless appearance here with Sean Hannity is so odd.

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The House ethics committee will likely decide today how Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) should be punished for committing 11 ethics violations. They could recommend a range of sanctions, from giving him a stern talking to all the way to kicking him out.

No one expects Rangel, a 40-year congressman who was just re-elected with 80 percent of the vote, to be expelled. He will, more likely, face reprimand or censure.

In order to give a little bit of context to whatever punishment is recommended for Rangel, we thought we'd show you how different congress members had earned each of the three main types of sanction: expulsion, censure and reprimand.

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Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio has gone Hollywood. The Maricopa County Sheriff announced Wednesday that he was teaming up with action movie stars -- including Lou Ferrigno of "Hulk" fame and actor Steven Seagal -- to aid in his anti-illegal immigration crusade.

Ferrigno and Seagal, both real life deputies in other parts of the county, were among the 56 individuals who were sworn in as illegal immigration fighters on Wednesday.

Arpaio's office said the "national known celebrity crime fighters" would join the 60th posse created in the County since Arpaio took office in 1993. All in all, there are nearly 3000 participants in the posses, Arpaio said.

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A new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released Wednesday shows increasing support for gays and lesbians serving openly in the military.

The survey finds that 50% of Americans support allowing gays to serve openly in the military, up from 40% a decade ago. Thirty-eight percent of respondents favor gays serving under the current "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" guidelines, and only 10% don't want to allow gays in the military at all.

Democratic pollster Peter D. Hart and Republican Bill McInturff conducted the poll.

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The low profile trial of the first Guantanamo Bay detainee in civilian court ended late Wednesday with the jury finding the accused terrorist guilty on just one count, a result sure to fuel criticism of the Obama administration's handling of terrorism cases.

Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani stood charged by the Justice Department of conspiring to kill Americans in the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa.

After seven days of deliberations, a jury found Ghailani guilty of just one count of conspiracy, acquitting him of multiple other counts including murder and murder conspiracy, said the Associated Press.

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For hours Wednesday morning and afternoon, while House Republicans went through an almost perfunctory exercise of electing the next Speaker of the House, Democrats vented steam over the results of the November 2nd election. Dozens rebelled against the existing leadership team. Others simply were too shell-shocked to give Nancy Pelosi a vote of confidence so soon after their party lost over 60 seats.

When all was said and done, the leadership team will be the same as last last year's. Pelosi won her race against Blue Dog Heath Shuler (NC) -- a mostly symbolic opponent -- handily, and everybody else took one step down behind her. Steny Hoyer (MD) will become the minority whip. Jim Clyburn (SC) will settle into a new, and ill-defined role as assistant minority leader, and John Larson (CT) and Xavier Becerra (CA) will retain their roles as conference chair and vice-chair.

Getting there was a saga Democrats are eagerly working to put behind them.

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