TPM News

A new Democracy Corps (D) poll of Missouri finds Democratic Sec. of State Robin Carnahan as the immediate frontrunner to win the seat of retiring Republican Sen. Kit Bond in 2010, with solid leads right now over both of her potential GOP opponents.

Carnahan leads Rep. Roy Blunt by a margin of 53%-44%. Against former state Treasurer Sarah Steelman, who ran unsuccessfully in the Republican primary for governor in 2008, Carnahan leads 54%-42%. The margin of error is ±3.5%.

The pollster's analysis that Steelman could actually be the stronger Republican, with more room to grow after respondents were given both positive and negative statements about all the candidates: "The consummate political insider, Blunt is weighed down by his long history of voting the Republican Party line, his numerous votes to give himself pay raises while opposing a minimum wage increase, and his leading support for the TARP bailout."

A new Rasmussen poll tests the reactions of likely voters to former Vice President Dick Cheney's recent public activism against the Obama Administration -- with Obama currently the winner on the issues.

The poll asked: "Former Vice President Dick Cheney has been speaking out lately on a number of topics. Now that he has left office, how important are Dick Cheney's opinions?" Only 39% say his views are very or somewhat important, to 57% who say his views are not very or not at all important.

And finally: "Cheney says America is less safe because of changes President Obama has made in national security. Do you agree or disagree with Cheney's statement that America is now less safe?" Here's it's only 38% agreeing, to 51% disagreeing.

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) is bringing aboard an almost entirely new staff to back up the minority members on the Judiciary Committee. Among the senior aides is one Brian Benczkowski. Does that name ring a bell?

If it does, you're probably a long time reader of Talking Points Memo, and we salute you. Benczkowski was Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General under Michael Mukasey, and a key figure working behind the scenes to cover up corruption in the Bush Justice Department.

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Nancy Pelosi has accused the CIA of lying to Congress about torture.

In a press conference given amid questions on what she knew and when about the Bush administration's torture program, Pelosi said that she was explicitly told in her September 2002 briefing that waterboarding was not used. We've since learned that Abu Zubaydah had been waterboarded 83 times by then.

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Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, is apparently not agreeing with Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX), head of the National Republican Congressional Committee, who said in the New York Times on Monday that the Obama Administration was deliberately increasing unemployment and lowering stock prices, "intended to inflict damage and hardship on the free enterprise system, if not to kill it."

The Dallas Morning News asked Cornyn whether he agreed that Obama wants higher unemployment and other economic problems. "Absolutely not," said Cornyn.

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  • A new cache of Treasury emails released by Judicial Watch reveals, inter alia, that Hank Paulson's chief-of-staff was a guy named Jim Wilkinson who was nt only clueless -- and this is, mind you, an entire month after the Lehman bailout -- as to the names of the nation's nine biggest financial institutions, he was clueless enough to put it in writing. But not so clueless that he didn't understand that the administration's decision to flow them a few hundred bil was a hit with the Dow Futures, bro! This guy makes Neel Kashkari look pretty awesome.

  • Also in the docs: Paulson used his "Texas Fed" strongman tactics with all nine big banks, couldn't get ahold of McCain to brief him; JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon arrived 45 minutes early. [Judicial Watch]

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  • Former Rep. Pat Toomey's (R-PA) campaign has just announced the endorsement of a prominent GOP Congressman from Pennsylvania, Rep. Charlie Dent, a sign that Toomey's effort might just be picking up more steam now that former Gov. Tom Ridge declared that he wouldn't be running for the GOP nod.

    Dent represents Toomey's old House seat, but is generally viewed as a relatively more moderate, establishment personality. For example, he voted against federal intervention in the Schiavo case, and he endorsed the socially-liberal Rudy Giuliani for president in 2007.

    The first big step for Toomey was declaring his candidacy at all, which then had the very-much unforeseen consequence of triggering Sen. Arlen Specter's party switch. The GOP establishment then began looking for another candidate, such as Ridge, but Toomey appears to be gaining momentum now.

    In the new Washington Post profile of Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA), this amusing nugget is given about how he's still getting used to his new partisan identity:

    Specter himself occasionally struggles to stay in character as a Democrat, flubbing his lines. When he wants to say "my party," he catches himself to make sure he's referring to the correct party.

    "I've been on a lot of issues which are right in line with the Democratic Party," he said to some reporters who cornered him in the union hall. "A woman's right to choose. Had a split with my own party -- with the Republican Party -- on embryonic stem cell research ... Had a split with my party, with the Republican Party -- on the nuclear test ban treaty."

    A quick tip for Sen. Specter: Just remember that you're for Al Franken in the Minnesota Senate race. All else follows from there.

    Obama Jokes About ASU Honorary Degree Flap When delivering the commencement address last night at Arizona State University, President Obama joked about the university's decision to not grant him an honorary degree. "I learned to never again pick another team over the Sun Devils in my NCAA bracket," said Obama. "And your university President and Board of Regents will soon learn all about being audited by the IRS."

    Obama's Day Ahead President Obama will hold a town hall at 12 p.m. ET, at Rancho Rio High School in New Mexico, where he will discuss proposed credit card reforms and consumer protections. He will depart from Kirkland Air Force Base at 2:15 p.m. ET, and is scheduled to arrive back at the White House at 5:50 p.m. ET.

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    Huge surprise: the SEC is mobilizing to sue sue former Countrywide Financial CEO Angelo Mozilo for insider trading.

    Perhaps no one made so much money so directly perpetrating the abuses responsible for the most painful consequences of the economic collapse as Mozilo, whose massive mortgage giant encouraged sales reps to sell homeowners on the biggest and most abusive loans possible, fueling a meteoric rise in housing prices that sustained Countrywide's profit margins for much of the last decade -- until 2007, when the market finally broke down and Countrywide tried to change tactics, raising its lending standards with an internal memo encouraging employees to "Do the right thing."

    That memo was instantly parodied by Countrywide employees, who posted and circulated an alternate version that ended:

    P.S. My naked orange body is rolling around in piles of hundreds of millions of dollars from the stock I've dumped.
    The first of innumerable shareholder lawsuits alleging insider trading was filed shortly thereafter.

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