TPM News

In a statement to TPMmuckraker, Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO) elaborates on his position that the Bush Administration made a mistake in not classifying shoebomber Richard Reid as an "enemy combatant" -- and that President Obama is now repeating that mistake in handling Umar Abdulmutallab.

But Bond, the top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, does not explain why he did not speak out against Bush's handling of Reid at the time.

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The state of Minnesota could be on the verge of losing a House seat after 2010 -- and interestingly enough, it's been a while since we heard Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) talk about refusing to participate in the Census.

Last year, Bachmann repeatedly said she would defy the Census by not completely filling out the information on the forms, but would instead only give the number of people in her household. She said that Census data was used to conduct the 1940's Japanese-American internment, and warned that the government was seeking to gather information about people's mental health. But as far as we can tell, her last anti-Census public statement was in August.

The largest newspaper in Minnesota, the Star-Tribune, is calling on the state's citizens to vigorously participate in the Census. The key issue here is that according to current population estimates, Minnesota is right on the cusp of losing one of its eight seats in Congress, and will be in a close competition with Missouri, Texas and California for that district. The Strib points out that "Minnesota traditionally has had one big advantage -- the cooperation of its civic-minded citizens."

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With time running out, New Jersey state legislators continue to bat a gay marriage bill between the assembly and senate.

The last time TPM checked in with the Garden State, a Senate committee had passed the bill. But its sponsors, Sens. Ray Lesniak and Loretta Weinberg, requested that the full Senate delay its vote until an Assembly committee could also hold a hearing, presumably over concerns that the bill did not yet have the votes for passage.

That hearing was reportedly scheduled for today. But Assembly Speaker Joseph J. Roberts announced on New Year's Eve that he would not hold the hearing. Instead, he said the full Assembly will vote on the bill -- but only after the Senate passes it.

The problem for gay marriage supporters is that both houses must pass the bill before Jan. 19, the day Gov.-elect Chris Christie takes office. And legislature only has two voting sessions before that date -- this Thursday and the following Monday. (Christie has vowed to veto such a bill, while current Gov. Jon Corzine has promised to sign it.)

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We told you earlier today about Yolanda Suarez, the Florida lawyer who forged ties with members of Congress and ran interference with journalists on behalf of Allen Stanford. But it's also worth paying attention to another Florida lawyer and key Stanford ally, who appears to have played an equally crucial role in allowing the Texas banker -- who was charged in June with orchestrating a multi-billion dollar Ponzi scheme -- to stay a step ahead of the government for so long.

As Stanford's lawyer of choice, Carlos Loumiet helped set up the unusual regulatory arrangement that allowed the Stanford Financial Group (SFG) to move hundreds of millions of dollars from Florida to Antigua with little scrutiny. Soon afterwards, he served on a Stanford-funded task-force to rewrite Antigua's banking laws -- an effort that U.S. regulators have said left major loopholes and hindered efforts to crack down on fraud. And the court-appointed receiver seeking to unravel Stanford's far-flung financial empire has demanded that the two law firms that have employed Loumiet -- who hasn't been charged with any wrongdoing -- hand over records of their work on behalf of Stanford.

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The Secret Service is investigating after an effigy of President Obama was spotted hanging Saturday from a building in Plains, Ga., the hometown of former President Jimmy Carter.

The effigy, a black doll with a sign that reportedly identified it as Obama, was hanged by a rope in front of a large red, white and blue sign that reads, "Plains, Georgia. Home of Jimmy Carter, Our 39th President." The sign, painted above a storefront, is a prominent landmark on the town's Main Street.

The manager of the store below the sign wouldn't comment to a local TV station.

Republican contenders scrambling to win the nomination to challenge Rep. Tom Perriello in Virginia's fifth Congressional district are sparring over taxes and one candidate is trying to get back in antitax crusader Grover Norquist's good graces.

State Sen. Robert Hurt (R-VA) recently signed Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform pledge to oppose any tax increases if elected, and huddled with the group in Washington to say he regretted voting for a $1.4 billion tax increase in 2004 under then-Gov. Mark Warner (D).

Hurt has been criticized as too moderate for the nomination, though he's considered the favorite among a field of lesser known challengers. One conservative blogger hailed the transformation as coming back from the "dark side," then mocked Hurt as thinking his constituents are gullible.

Norquist told CQ Politics that Hurt "basically made the case that this was not a vote he was comfortable with and that it wouldn't happen again."

That's a far cry from Norquist's sentiment in 2004, when he plastered Hurt's face on the poster below as one of the state's "least wanted" for being a tax-increasing Republican.

He vowed then to back a primary challenge against Hurt, then a state delegate, but Hurt was later elected to state senate with little trouble.

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Last week, we told you about the tea party movement's next national target -- American businesses believed to be supporting the "socialist agenda" of Democratic politicians. On Jan. 20, the tea partiers plan to boycott these corporations during their "National Day of Strike."

The plan is controversial among some conservatives, who worry the tea partiers might alienate their natural allies. However, the strike's organizer, Allen Hardage, told TPMDC that these critics are missing the central point of the plan.

"Here we are exposing the agenda of some of the most widely known companies in America and letting the consumer decide," he said. "If a corporation decides to jump into politics to the tune of millions of dollars, then they need to expect that they will alienate some of their customers."

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Democratic aides in both the House and Senate have confirmed to TPMDC that the House of Representatives will likely take up the Senate's health care bill, amend it, and send it back to the Senate for final passage--a process known informally as "ping-pong"--with the hope of avoiding the procedural hurdles that the more standard conference committee process presents.

Confirming a report that first appeared in The New Republic, aides say the process would mimic the conference committee in a number of ways, while at the same time closing out Republicans and streamlining final passage.

They also provided further details.

"Most conferences, everything's decided by the time you get to the table," one aide said.

In this case, instead of creating a final conference report that both chambers would pass, principals in both chambers would agree upon a package of changes to the Senate bill that passed on Christmas eve. The House would then vote to amend the Senate bill to reflect those agreed-upon changes, pass the legislation, and send it back over to the Senate for--they hope--a final vote.

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