TPM News

Last night, Stephen Colbert was surprised to hear about accused Muslim cabbie slasher Michael Enright's background, especially when he went through recent editions of the New York Post. Enright "wasn't even in this one titled 'If You're Mad About Islam You Should Pull Over A Muslim Cab Driver And Stab Him,'" Colbert said.

He continued that people like Enright are "sully[ing] Muslim bashing for the rest of us law abiding bigots," like the drunk man who was arrested for urinating on a prayer rug in a New York mosque, or as Colbert called it, "criminal tres-pissing."

This act, Colbert said, elicited strong reactions from "Imam Mohammed Nadir Al-Dude," more commonly known as the character "The Dude" in The Big Lebowski.

Read More →

The plaintiffs in the case that brought embryonic stem cell research to a screeching halt believe that allowing the practice financially harms their own research using non-embryonic stem cells, which they also claim is a better alternative. Backed by pro-life and religious groups, the key plaintiffs in the ongoing lawsuit, Dr. Theresa Deisher and Dr. James Sherley, have convinced a judge to place an injunction on federally-funded embryonic stem cell research, putting more restrictions on funding than there were during the Bush administration.

But neither scientist is strictly in it for the money. For instance, in a 2008 Blog Talk Radio interview (available here) Deisher linked the long-range lifesaving potential of stem cell research as being similar to a "nebulous promise" of constructing Martian housing.

"I don't know that in 30 years we won't be able to build apartments in Mars, but right now we have a need for housing here now and that's what the money should go for," Deisher said. "It's the same in the stem cell area. Right now we have safe effective and affordable adult stem cell therapies. That's where our money should go."

Read More →

Michael Enright, the 21-year-old student filmmaker accused of slashing a cab driver because he is Muslim, has been transferred from jail to the psychiatric ward at Bellevue Hospital.

The AP reports that Enright was transferred from Rikers Island last night. He is being held without bond pending a court appearance Monday morning in Manhattan.

Read More →

Political Ads Surpass 2006 Levels As Attacks Mount The Associated Press reports: "Across the country, political ad spending is up and attack ads lead the way. Those who take the high road do so at their peril. As of Thursday, candidates for state and federal office had spent $395 million on ads for the November elections, compared with $286 million at this point in the 2006 midterms. More than half the ads have been negative. Political parties and outside groups have been more negative, going on the attack in nearly 80 percent of their ads while spending $150 million, $41 million ahead of the 2006 pace."

Report: Netanyahu Proposes Bi-Weekly Meetings With Abbas Reuters reports: "Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has proposed meetings with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas every two weeks to improve the prospects of Middle East peace talks, a diplomatic source said on Friday. Netanyahu, set to travel to Washington next week for direct talks, intends 'to handle the negotiations personally,' the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity. Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said of Netanyahu's plan: 'It is premature to talk about this now.'"

Read More →

So why is it that Republican candidate Meg Whitman, the former eBay CEO, has been catching up with or even surpassing Democrat Jerry Brown in the California gubernatorial race? The answer is actually quite simple: As of this juncture, Whitman is campaigning full time -- and spending a whole lot of money -- and Brown isn't.

Brown, the current state attorney general who previously served as governor from 1975-1983 and ran for president three times, began this race as a clear frontrunner. But along the way, Whitman's heavy self-financing of the race has clearly helped her to catch up.

The TPM Poll Average right now shows Brown with a narrow edge of only 44.4%-44.2%, with Whitman closing fast. In terms of individual data points, a SurveyUSA poll from two weeks ago gives Whitman an edge of 44%-43%, while a Rasmussen poll from Thursday gives her an even wider berth of 51%-43%. Previous polls from July and June had given Brown the lead or put Whitman ahead only narrowly, thus resulting in Brown's continued lead in the average -- but even that is quickly slipping away.

Read More →

In another turn on our emotion roller coaster, Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner has ruled on ex-con ex-Rep. Jim Traficant's appeal to get on the ballot for his old House seat. And she's giving him one more chance to try.

As you may recall, Traficant, who was released from prison last fall, made a push to get on the ballot but fell short of the signatures needed. He appealed, saying that the elections board both overestimated how many signatures he needed and threw out some valid signatures.

Read More →

Has David Vitter been pressuring newspapers in Louisiana to take it easy on Brent Furer, a former aide who attacked his girlfriend with a knife, but got to keep his job for two years anyhow?

According to two editors in Louisiana, the answer is yes.

"Senator Vitter's attorney sent us a letter taking issue with the way we worded one particular sentence...about Mr. Furer's difficulty," says Carl Redman, executive editor of The Advocate.

Read More →

Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) has his first ad for the general election campaign -- and it's a direct attack ad against his Republican opponent, Ken Buck.

In the ad, the announcer shows video of various right-wing statements that Buck has made, such as when he said of Social Security, "I don't know whether it is constitutional or not. It is certainly a horrible policy." Buck is also shown stating his position on abortion: "I am pro-life and I'll answer the next question, I don't believe in the exception of rape or incest."

"Ken Buck asked the right question," the announcer says, cutting to video of Buck asking defiantly at a rally: "I'm an extremist? I'm an extremist?"

Read More →

Republican Senate hopeful Pat Toomey appeared to be trying a little revisionist history this week when he claimed he never called for privatizing Social Security.

Toomey made the statement at the end of his appearance at the Pennsylvania Press Club Monday, only to see a wave of critics calling him out. That included the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which dug up a 2003 headline from Toomey's hometown newspaper, The Morning Call, which read: "Toomey: Privatize Social Security."

The former Club for Growth president said he does favor allowing younger workers to deposit savings into private accounts, a position he has held since his first congressional term in 1999. He recently touted it in his book, "The Road to Prosperity," which is now selling for $3.03 on Amazon.

The key to understanding this semantic subterfuge is, well, semantics. The word Toomey uses is "personalized" Social Security accounts.

The increasing volume on Social Security was escalated Wednesday, when former Senat0r Alan Simpson the GOP co-chair of President Obama's deficit commission, was force to apologize for sending an e-mail to a female activist for seniors in which he described Social Security as "a milk cow with 310 million tits."

The flap has prompted an outcry amongst groups like AARP, which are calling for Simpson to resign or for the president to fire him from the commission post.

Democrats have been charged with trying to gin up anxiety about the future of Social Security benefits, like when President Obama recently said some GOP leaders are "pushing to make privatizing Social Security a key part of their legislative agenda if they win a majority in Congress this fall.

The president called such privatization "an ill-conceived idea that would add trillions of dollars to our budget deficit while tying your benefits to the whims of Wall Street traders and the ups and downs of the stock market."

The issue resurfaced in time for election year political football after Congressman Paul Ryan, the top Republican on the House Budget Committee, offered a proposal that would allow younger people to put Social Security money into personal accounts.

This pretty much mirrors the proposal pushed unsuccessfully by former President George W. Bush--which was supported by Toomey.

The original version of the story appears here: is a non-partisan, political news Web site, providing insider reporting and commentary on Pennsylvania's big 2010 elections.

A state investigator said today that Gov. David Paterson (D-NY) mislead investigators under oath about paying for tickets to Game One of the World Series -- something that could warrant criminal perjury charges against the governor.

Judith Kaye, a retired judge appointed by the state attorney general, said in her report that Paterson lied to the state ethics commission when he said he had intended to pay for the tickets for his son and his son's friend before the game.

Read More →