TPM News

Looking for a quick and easy way to impress people without actually doing any work? Take a lesson from Jim Greer.

Near the end of a profile of the former Florida GOP chair and Charlie Crist buddy -- who recently stepped down amid a spending scandal, and now is the subject of a criminal investigation for a contract awarded to himself and his executive director -- the Orlando Sentinel reports:

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Senate Democrats' financial reform point man predicted today that Republicans will not stand by their pledge to block debate on a major financial regulatory reform bill.

"I don't really believe Republican members want to be with their leaders when they're talking about filibustering a bill that would allow us to address [Wall Street reform]," said Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd at a press conference this morning. "So I'm going to work on the assumption that the glass is half full, that when we bring this bill up later this week that we'll have the votes across the board...to allow us to debate this legislation, consider amendments, and move forward."

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Note to President Obama's future Supreme Court nominee: get ready for questions about whether it's legal to mandate health insurance coverage. Conservatives geared up for a fight on the confirmation of Obama's choice to replace retiring Justice John Paul Stevens are increasingly saying they want to make health care the big issue.

There is agitation on the far-right to push these state lawsuits challenging health care reform as the next litmus test for a nominee, especially given the looming midterm elections that are likely to be fought over the sweeping health care overhaul Democrats passed this spring.

"This is the new blood for this public policy battle," Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, told me in a recent interview.

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What a mess...

The accusations are flying thick and fast between ex-congressman Eric Massa and his former chief of staff. Last Friday the aide, Joe Racalto, accused Massa of sexually harassing him. For his part, Massa has said that Racalto tricked other aides into approving a $40,000 payment to Racalto from Massa's campaign funds -- a charge Racalto has denied.

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The leader of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, a group that advocates for the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, wrote a letter to President Obama today urging him to include repeal in his defense budget recommendations.

SLDN's executive director, Aubrey Sarvis, wrote that he's "very disturbed" by reports that the White House is asking lawmakers to delay a vote on repeal until after the mid-term elections.

Sarvis explained to the The Advocate that House and Senate staffers have told him that Department of Defense representatives have asked them to delay the vote. The DOD, he said, doesn't want a vote until a review of the policy is completed by the Pentagon. The review is due in December.

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Gun rights groups are gathering in Washington today to call for increased access to firearms, and the right to pack heat everywhere. But before they make their stand, gun rights advocates have work out an internal struggle playing itself out around the city.

Two groups of pro-gun activists are gathering in Washington -- one armed and (according to right wing groups, dangerous), and one unarmed. Both want it to be easier for Americans to carry guns around wherever they go.

But neither, it seems, want anything to do with each other.

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Ken Cuccinelli has made his latest play to curry favor with the GOP's far-right wing, and to turn himself into a power player in conservative circles.

The hard-charging Virginia attorney general addressed religious conservatives Thursday night at an event sponsored by Jerry Falwell's Liberty University -- whose roster of speakers included a self-proclaimed "Christocrat", as well as an evangelist who has claimed she can cure AIDS and other diseases through prayer.

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In news buried by the Goldman fraud charges, the Inspector General for the SEC issued a blistering 159-page report Friday concluding that the agency's Fort Worth office knew that Texas businessman Allen Stanford was operating a Ponzi scheme in 1997 -- but didn't make a serious effort to pursue the matter for eight years, until 2005.

Stanford, a flamboyant Texas billionaire, is currently in jail facing charges of operating a $7 billion Ponzi scheme.

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