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Michele Bachmann's campaign has now announced the dates for their formal kickoff tour next week -- with her making stops in three of the big early primary and caucus states.

Bachmann made the interesting move of announcing her much-expected candidacy during last week's debate -- though of course, her very participation in the debate was itself an act of running for president. However, that act did seem to be a departure from her previous statements that she would announce her decision in Waterloo, Iowa, the town where she was born.

Now, her campaign announced via press release, she will be making it up with a formal kickoff event on Monday at 10 a.m. CT, in Waterloo -- an event that the campaign press couldn't escape if they wanted to.

Then on Tuesday, she will hold a 9 a.m. ET backyard event at a private residence in Raymond, New Hampshire, and then visit Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, with an event at 5:30 p.m. ET. She will then make a full-day swing through South Carolina on Wednesday, with stops in Charleston, Lexington, Greenville, and Rock Hill.

Critics across the ideological spectrum have criticized President Obama for overruling a determination by Attorney General Eric Holder and the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel that continued action in Libya is unlawful. But some of the White House's natural allies in the liberal legal community -- including those close to the administration -- are troubled by a separate, and in some ways more fundamental, part of this story.

In addition to overruling the OLC -- the Justice Department office tasked with establishing the bounds of lawful conduct for the executive branch -- the Obama administration also circumvented the basic process administrations typically follow in assuring its policies are legal.

"Here, if what's being reported is accurate, the White House counsel played the role of OLC, by soliciting the views of different agencies," said Dawn Johnsen, in an interview. "That's the big problem here. You're more likely to end up with bad legal decisions when you deviate from that process."

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Updated with Duffy's response below.

The Democratic Party of Wisconsin has found a new line of attack on the fiscal life of Rep. Sean Duffy's (R-WI), months after jibes over his claim that he was struggling to live on his $174,000/year congressional salary began to burn out.

Democrats are fond of taking on Duffy over money, and after his latest financial disclosure form was released to the press, they think they've found their next soft spot to poke.

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Despite the media firestorm around a much disputed McKinsey report finding that large numbers of employers would drop health care coverage under President Obama's health care reform law, it seems some Republican freshmen are still using it as a talking point.

"We learned last week that approximately 30% of employers anticipate dropping their health care coverage as a result of this [law]," said Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) at a press conference with fellow freshmen Republicans on the Hill today. "So more things are coming to light showing this simply was not a good piece of legislation."

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2011 has been a busy year for labor unions across America. After historic budget battles in Wisconsin and Ohio, governors in more states like Florida and New Jersey have been clamping down on collective bargaining rights and targeting state worker benefits in attempts to cut spending and balance budgets.

Last week, the National Labor Relations Board made headlines when it filed a controversial complaint against Boeing aircraft for moving a plant from Washington to South Carolina. According to the complaint Boeing was violating labor laws by allegedly moving the plant so that the company would not have to deal with frequent strikes in their Seattle location.

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The Fast and Furious scandal at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has reached the Daily Show stage.

On his program last night, Jon Stewart mocked the ATF plan, in which the agency asked gun dealers to allow sales of weapons to individuals they suspected were straw purchasers so they could track where the weapons ended up.

"If this was the plan that they went with, what plan did we reject?" Stewart asked.

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Majority Leader Harry Reid's chief of staff, David Krone, left a highly lucrative gig at Comcast before working for the Senator. As part of his exit from the company, he's collected $1.2 million in additional payment since taking his job with Reid.

The Wall Street Journal focused on Krone's payout as part of a broader look at outside income in Congressional aides, many of whom earn cash as part of deferred payments or pensions for previous high-income jobs. Krone's $1.2 million stem from a severance arrangement in which Comcast purchased his house at above-market value when he left to cover any losses he would have incurred in moving to take a job with the cable giant. When the house was resold by the company at a much lower price, Krone listed the difference as "condo reimbursement" in his financial disclosure forms.

Reid's office says everything is aboveboard and accounted for and that the Senate Ethics Committee had approved the payment. "As difficult as it would be for anybody to divulge their personal finances for all to see and critique," Krone told the WSJ, "I have fully complied with the financial-disclosure requirements."

A Comcast spokesman told the Journal that the company did not know Krone was leaving for a government job when they negotiated the deal, a decision that Reid's office said came well after Krone had already quit. The WSJ cited sources saying the company may have "wanted to make sure that he didn't harbor any ill will after leaving, given his connections." It did not list any instances where Comcast may have benefited from Krone's position.

Ethics rules allow aides to receive payments from the private sector if the cash is only for work they did before jumping to public service. On the Senate side, however, employees cannot work for individual committees if they have deferred payments coming. There are gray areas -- aides can still take top positions with aides who chair the same committees if they stay out of legislative areas related to their source of income.

Update: This story was updated to clarify the timing of Krone's departure from Comcast.

You've noticed them printed on posters in subways, on corners of magazine ads, billboards, store signs, in books, sometimes on business cards, and even these days on tombstones.

Those black-and-white, square-shaped barcodes popping up everywhere are known as QR Codes, and now for the first time ever, the Royal Dutch Mint in the Netherlands has incorporated the Japanese technology into a new commemorative edition of its five and 10 Euro denomination coins.

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Newt Gingrich is responding to the continuing wave of staff resignations from his campaign -- saying it's simply because he's just too different of a politician. Also, he's like Reagan.

Reuters reports:

"Philosophically, I am very different from normal politicians, and normal consultants found that very hard to deal with," Gingrich said in a speech to the Atlanta Press Club.

"We have big ideas. I just think that's part of how you campaign. You talk to the American people about big things."


On the other hand, Gingrich also noted that Ronald Reagan himself encountered some turbulence during the 1980 campaign, when 13 of his aides quit the campaign: "If I had to choose Reaganomics or 13 staffers quitting, I think for the average working American, Reaganomics was a much better deal."

They've made it explicit. Democrats are accusing Republicans of trying to sabotage the recovery -- or at least stall it -- by blocking all short-term measures to boost the economy, even ones they previously supported.

In a Capitol press conference Wednesday, the Senate's top Democrats argued that Republicans don't want to pass measures like a temporary payroll tax holiday for employers because they'll improve President Obama's re-election chances.

"Our Republican colleagues in the House and Senate are driven by putting one man out of work: President Obama," said Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL).

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