TPM News

A speaking contract for Sarah Palin, released by California State University Stanislaus, shows that Palin was paid a $75,000 speaking fee, plus travel expenses, and required bottled water with bendy straws at the podium.

The school's charitable foundation was ordered by a judge to release the contract after the school was sued by a watchdog group for refusing to release it. CSU is a state school and, therefore, a public institution. The judge ruled that the school had violated open records laws.

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The Minnesota Republicans have announced a compromise of sorts with Democratic gubernatorial nominee Mark Dayton, who complained that video trackers were being disruptive and should clearly identify themselves: The GOP's trackers will now wear some snarky anti-Dayton shirts.

Last week, Dayton held a press conference at which he showed a video of GOP trackers standing, he thought, too close to him at a fair. Dayton said that passersby would think that the trackers were with him and blocking the way. "The tactic has changed and it's clearly one of harassing me and trying to provoke me and it's one of intimidating citizens so they can't have a conversation with me," Dayton said at the press conference.

In response, the GOP has unveiled new T-shirts that their trackers will wear -- with slogans such as "I'm with the guy who wants to raise your taxes," and "I'm with one of America's Worst Senators."

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The new Mason-Dixon poll of the Nevada Senate race shows Harry Reid with a one-point advantage, within the margin of error, against his Republican opponent Sharron Angle. Furthermore, Reid's constant attacks against Angle are working -- he is still unpopular, but now her voters don't actually like her, either.

The numbers: Reid 45%, Angle 44%. The survey of likely voters has a ±4% margin of error. In the previous Mason-Dixon poll from two weeks ago, Reid led by 46%-44%. The TPM Poll Average puts Reid ahead by 46.6%-43.7%.

Looking further in the poll, it becomes clear just how disliked both of these candidates have become, to the point where their own supporters wish they could have had different candidates.

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According to the Commerce Department this morning, the country's gross domestic product this spring grew at an anemic 1.6 percent. But that's just the latest in a series of indications that the economy isn't really improving. Forget mosques and immigration and health care reform -- they may split the country and bedevil Democrats politically, but it's the economy that's really to blame for all of it. The good news is, there are steps the government can take to improve the situation. The bad news is they're not gonna. And that's why Democrats are suffering.

"It's very difficult to envisage any significant policy response to current economic problems in the near term," said Mark Zandi, one of the nation's top economists, earlier this week.

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Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum, who lost the Republican primary for governor on Tuesday in a huge upset to, is still refusing to endorse the man who defeated him for the nomination in a very bitter primary, the self-financing former health care executive Rick Scott.

As the Miami Herald reports, McCollum said he called Scott to "congratulate him and wish him well." But he's not making an endorsement as of now. "I still have serious questions about issues of his character, his integrity, his honestly -- things that go back to Columbia/HCA," said McCollum, referring to Scott's business that paid a record $1.7 billion fine after being investigated for Medicare fraud. "As other voters will do, I will judge him throughout this campaign."

Scott campaign spokeswoman Jennifer Baker was not impressed, and referred back to when McCollum lost the 2004 Senate primary, and took two weeks to endorse Mel Martinez: "It is unfortunate for Bill McCollum that he has chosen to be a sore loser just as he was following his defeat to Sen. Martinez in 2004."

The TPM Poll Average has Democratic nominee Alex Sink leading Scott by 38.8%-30.5%, plus 11.0% for independent Bud Chiles.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg continued his defense of the Cordoba House Islamic center near Ground Zero on The Daily Show last night, telling Jon Stewart that "there's nothing new" about the planned project. "The difference is we're in election season," Bloomberg said, "and this whole issue I think will go away after the next election."

He added: "This is plain and simple people trying to stir up things to get publicity, and trying to polarize people so that they can get some votes."

Stewart was glad that the Mayor was defending the Cordoba House, because "I would like to build a synagogue -- reform -- in St. Patrick's cathedral."

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Jon Stewart was curious last night about Glenn Beck's "Restoring Honor" rally on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. this weekend. "We have to restore the Lincoln Memorial's honor?" Stewart asked. "Has he been banging the Statue of Liberty again?"

The rally, or as Stewart called it, Beck's "I Have A Scheme" speech, takes place on the same day and in the same location as Martin Luther King, Jr's "I Have A Dream" speech. But that doesn't mean it's inappropriate, Stewart said, "because Glenn Beck does have a dream. Unfortunately, it's the kind of dream you have when you eat four pepperoni Hot Pockets before bed."

Stewart also noticed that between all of Beck's advice to viewers and instructions for how they should live, he "should just be running his own university." Jon realized that Beck had, in fact, started an online "Beck University," but noticed that it had an eerily similar curriculum to the TV show Tool Academy. "If you come straight from Tool Academy to Beck University can those credits transfer?" Stewart asked.

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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.

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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."

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