TPM News

Disgraced former lobbyist Jack Abramoff, mere months after serving his debt to society for bribing Congressmen and related shenanigans, is making mad dough these days in his new job.

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It's not every day that a magazine article takes down a four-star general.

The country woke this morning to the news of a profile of Gen. Stanley McChrystal in Rolling Stone with quote after quote of the general and his aides dissing top Obama Administration officials, as well as the president himself. After a day-long media freak-out, McChrystal is set to meet with the president at the White House tomorrow with Robert Gibbs having pointedly left the door open to the general losing his job. All this comes at a time when the Afghan war is not going particularly well.

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Almost exactly one year after he "hiked the Appalachian Trail" with his Argentine lover, South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford was out of the office on Monday -- and his lieutenant governor says he didn't know where his boss was. Sound familiar?

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Spirit Airlines -- they of the multi-year labor dispute and the charge for carry-on bags -- would like to encourage you to buy tickets to Cancun, Puerto Rico, Atlantic City or Fort Lauderdale with a timely new ad campaign called Best Protection. The tag line? "Check out the oil on our beaches." And you thought Haley Barbour's tourism promotion campaign was offensive.

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Former Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R-AZ), whose Senate campaign in the Republican primary against Sen. John McCain has come under scrutiny due to his 2007 appearance in a questionable infomercial for "free money" from government grants, is standing by his involvement in the ad -- and saying "buyer beware."

In a live video webcast last night, Hayworth discussed the matter. "It is similar in many ways to my days in broadcasting, when we would have advertising clients, who would pay for a live endorsement," said Hayworth, in a clip that has been distributed by the McCain campaign. "I always say about any product or service, one of the staples I learned growing up is caveat emptor, 'buyer beware.' I think that is a given in any commercial endeavor - I would certainly hope in this one. But yeah, I'm a broadcaster, and yeah, I appeared in this, and yes, it was a job. And that's that."

That would be a fun slogan for a Senate campaign: "Buyer Beware."

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Proven Methods Seminars, the company behind the infomercial that J.D. Hayworth appeared in in 2007, touting "free money" in federal grants, was the target of a consumer fraud complaint in Vermont in 2006 -- before Hayworth signed on as a pitchman.

According to a consumer fraud complaint filed by the state of Vermont in January 2006, advertisements for the company's "National Grants Conferences" seminars claimed that people could get "free money" from the government, in the form of grants and loans that they would not have to repay. Once there, consumers were then sold a packet of information materials -- for $999.

The company reached a settlement with Vermont in December 2006, which required the payment of $65,000 to the state, and giving consumers the opportunity to recover funds adding up to more than $300,000. Again, note that this was in 2006 -- before Hayworth taped the infomercial in 2007.

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Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA), the highest-ranking military officer to serve in Congress, said this morning the now-infamous Rolling Stone article about General Stanley McChrystal violates military code, but he refused this afternoon to get on board with a call from Rep. David Obey (D-WI) that McChrystal resign.

"We are taught in the military that if you don't agree with what your commander, or you have certain comments about your commander with regard to what you think, you say that behind closed doors. Once you open up that door and go outside, it is a political official who is over you. It is civilian control and so he made a mistake," Sestak told a Philadelphia Fox affiliate this morning. When asked by host of the show, Sestak said that McChrystal's participation in the article violated military code. But he also praised McChrystal, calling him an "excellent commander," and said that from what he knows of the scandal it doesn't seem to rise to the level of dismissing the general.

"It's not yet, I think, on the extreme to where you take it to the next step," Sestak said. "Does he need to be corrected? Absolutely."

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Most Republicans have been doing backflips to distance themselves from Joe Barton, who apologized to BP last week for the $20 billion escrow fund set up to make BP pay for Gulf Coast oil spill damages.

But Barton reportedly still has at least one friend left: Florida Republican Cliff Stearns is having a fundraiser next week, and according to the Miami Herald, Barton is his "special guest."

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Democrats are in hot pursuit of Russ Feingold's vote for Wall Street reform. But in a statement sent my way this afternoon, Feingold says he's told the White House and key congressional leaders that he's still a no unless the bill gets significantly stronger.

"During debate on the financial regulatory reform bill, I made it clear that I would only support a strong bill that can prevent another financial crisis," Feingold's statement reads. "Neither the House bill nor the Senate bill pass that test."

I have spoken to Senate leaders, the Obama administration, and members of the conference committee and made my concerns well known. I opposed deregulating Wall Street and eliminating the protections of the Glass-Steagall Act, a position which put me at odds with many in Washington who supported the very policies that contributed to the financial crisis, and who now support these bills that simply don't get the job done. Without including stronger reforms, we're simply whistling past the graveyard.

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