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The Washington Times reports that Michael Steele is facing a new threat to his leadership of the Republican National Committee -- a proposed rule being circulated by some RNC members that would impose new restrictions and oversight measures against Steele's ability to spend money:

The Pullen resolution would make it a written rule that contracts of $100,000 or more be open to competitive bidding; that all checks be signed by two RNC officers; that party staff be prohibited from signing on behalf of an officer; and that all contracts be reviewed and approved by the members of the RNC executive committee.

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Make no mistake: When it comes to economics, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) knows her history -- even if that history is from another planet.

On Monday night, our friends at Dump Bachmann reported, Bachmann took to the House floor and paid tribute to the economic policies of Calvin Coolidge and the "Roaring 20s" (the era that ended with a massive monetary contraction and the Great Depression). One particular line really does stand out, though -- saying Franklin Roosevelt turned a recession into a depression through the "Hoot-Smalley" tariffs:



Here's what really happened: When Franklin Roosevelt took office, unemployment was already about 25%. And the tariff referred to here was actually the Smoot-Hawley bill, co-authored by Republicans Sen. Reed Smoot of Utah and Rep. Willis Hawley of Oregon, and signed into law by President Herbert Hoover.

Interestingly, this speech also happened on the same day as when Bachmann connected the 1970s swine flu outbreak to Democrat Jimmy Carter being president, even though it was actually Gerald Ford in office at the time.

Late Update: A shout-out to Liberal in the Land of Conservative for also noticing Bachmann's false attribution of the tariff bill to Roosevelt -- and also to Matt Yglesias for pointing to the metaphysical possibilities.

Jon Stewart had a good segment last night on the convoluted Jane-Harman/AIPAC affair, which brought out both the byzantine nature of the saga, and the ultimate fact that nothing much came of any of the scheming: Harman didn't get the intel job, the AIPAC guys didn't get off, and Haim Saban didn't withhold money from Democrats.

As Stewart put it: "Your government, not at work."

Watch:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
Your Government Not at Work - Jane Harman Scandal
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Economic CrisisFirst 100 Days

You can tell Sen. Arlen Specter's (D-PA) switch from the Republicans to the Democrats is still sinking in for the political world -- in fact, both national parties' Senate campaign committees still list him as a Republican on their pages for the 2010 election.

Here's the DSCC:



And the NRSC:



It's probably safe to say that this one is a likely Democratic pick-up.

A report released Tuesday by the California attorney general details the history of abuse that permeated a small police department near Los Angeles. The report states that the Maywood Police Department was rife with sexual innuendo, racial profiling, and violence against suspects. One account alleges that officers Tasered a handcuffed man and his father while beating another man in the same room. AG Jerry Brown said the state would work to reform the department because "when you have rogue cops, it's just intolerable in a free society." (AP)

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There are two competing interpretations of Arlen Specter's move into the Democratic party. It's not clear why they're competing, because they're not by any means mutually exclusive. In fact, they're deeply connected. But that's how it's playing out: Either Specter became a Democrat because the Republicans moved too far to the right or Specter became a Democrat because he was facing a career ending primary in 2010. Strangely enough, even though Specter himself insists both factors contributed to his decision, very few people seem to have absorbed this.

One of those people is Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), who says the Republican party's hitting the sweet spot. He attributes the non-viability of the Republican party in state's like Pennsylvania to the fact that voters have fled "forced unionization" in the northeast for the safety and comfort of the southern motherland.

Seriously.

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Obama And Biden Host Specter At White House Press Availability President Obama and Vice President Biden publicly welcomed Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) to the Democratic Party at the White House earlier this morning -- fittingly, from the Diplomatic Room. "I think that I can be of assistance to you, Mr. President," said Specter. Obama said: "I don't expect Arlen to be a rubber stamp. In fact, I'd like to think that Arlen's decision reflects recognition that this administration is open to many different ideas and many different points of view."

Obama's Day Ahead: Town Hall In Missouri, News Conference From Washington Following this morning's joint statement with Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA), President Obama departed Andrews Air Force Base at about 8:30 a.m. ET, headed for St. Louis, Missouri. He will arrive in St. Louis at 10:30 a.m. ET, and will hold a town hall at 11:20 a.m. ET at Fox High School in Arnold, Missouri, discussing his first 100 days in office. He will depart from St. Louis at 2 p.m. ET, arriving back at the White House at 4 p.m. ET. At 8 p.m. ET tonight, President Obama will hold a news conference.

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I'm sure everybody's excited to read more about Arlen Specter. I know I can't wait to keep writing about him. But today's news will have a rather significant impact on a number of the seminal stories and meta-stories that define today's Washington, and it behooves us all to take stock.

Specter, as we've noted a number of times today, could well become the Democrats' 60th senator. But before that can happen, though, Democrats will need to get Al Franken seated, and today's move raises the stakes for both sides of that fight. If you thought Norm Coleman and the national Republican party had little incentive to throw in the towel when Franken represented the Democrats' 59th vote, they have considerably less incentive to call it quits now. If, as is widely presumed, the Minnesota Supreme Court decides in June or July to uphold Franken's victory, the pressure from Washington will be on Gov. Tim Pawlenty to do the unseemly thing and refuse to certify the result.

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It's been a day for changing titles. Former Kansas governor was confirmed earlier this evening to be President Obama's Secretary of Health and Human Services. The vote was 65-31. Among the 65 was former Republican Arlen Specter (D-PA). We'll post the Roll Call when it comes down the pipe.

Interestingly, Specter also voted in support of an major piece of anti-fraud legislation earlier today, and, in that roll call, the Senate website still lists him as a Republican. Amateurs.

Anyhow, NARAL/Pro-Choice America has been pushing hard for Sebelius' confirmation, and the group's president, Nancy Keenan, had this to say:

We applaud the Senate's vote to confirm the eminently-qualified Gov. Kathleen Sebelius to serve in this critical position. Anti-choice advocates tried every desperate trick in the book to derail her confirmation, but this vote shows that a majority of senators understand that Americans are tired of the antagonistic politics of the past. As our country faces challenges on a number of fronts, especially on the issue of affordable health care, we look forward to ensuring that women's health and sound science are a priority, rather than the failed political maneuvering that damaged this agency during the previous Bush administration.


Late update: Roll call here. He's still listed as a Republican. Somebody should call the clerk!

We took another quick look at that press release that AIG released in November 2007 about its third quarter earnings -- which is now reportedly being looked at by federal investigators as evidence that the firm may have deliberately misled investors.

And here's one line that jumps out. The release quotes CEO Martin Sullivan saying:

AIGFP reported an operating loss in the quarter due principally to the unrealized market valuation loss related to its super senior credit default swap portfolio. Although GAAP requires that AIG recognize changes in valuation for these derivatives, AIG continues to believe that it is highly unlikely that AIGFP will be required to make any payments with respect to these derivatives. (our itals)

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