TPM News

Curiouser and curiouser.

That might as well be the theme animating Herman Cain's campaign today. Hours after a perplexing Web video surfaced of Cain chief-of-staff Mark Block touting his boss's unifier credentials while smoking a cigarette, a pro-Cain super PAC has released its own strange wed video -- this one seeking to tread the line between Rick Perry and Mitt Romney.

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Keith Olbermann often has tough words for Fox News, but not often like this.

During Countdown's "Worst Persons" segment on Monday, Olbermann harangued the weekend crew of Fox and Friends.

"Yes, they're the 'B Team' to the weekday dingbats, so they're astoundingly bad," Olbermann said.

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The 12 members of the deficit Super Committee have been so tight lipped about their negotiations, that most of the clues about their progress come from Congressional colleagues -- most of whom are also in the dark about specifics.

At his weekly Capitol briefing Tuesday, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) had a hard time pegging the panel's chances for reaching an agreement to achieve trillions of dollars in deficit reduction. But he insisted that if the panel failed to achieve significant savings, Congress will have to keep chipping away.

"People ask me, 'Are you optimistic?' I say, 'Look, I'm not optimistic -- I'm hopeful,'" Hoyer said. "I hope, because I think it's absolutely essential that we do so, that we succeed. Producing a product that is a big deal, not a small deal -- if we do a small deal, we'll have to revisit that."

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CNN reports that President Obama will announce efforts to help students who are crippled by student debt:

One of the proposals would push up the start date for more favorable terms on a special loan repayment program based on income, sources tell CNNMoney. Another measure would encourage graduates with two or more different kinds of federal loans to consolidate them.

Obama is expected to unveil the proposals during a Denver speech Wednesday.

The coveted new gadget of the moment isn't a tablet, a new smartphone or anything of the sort. In fact, it's none other than a programmable home thermostat.

At least, that's the hope of the much-hyped Learning Thermostat unveiled Monday by Nest Labs, a new company founded by Tony Fadell, former senior VP of the iPod division at Apple, and the man credited with being the lead designer of the device and its corresponding iTunes service.

As Nest CEO Fadell wrote in a blog post announcing his new venture:

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Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s campaign Communications Director Ray Sullivan sends along the following statement on former Mass Gov. Mitt Romney’s failure to endorse conservative efforts to keep SB 5, Ohio’s new anti-union law.

“Mitt Romney’s finger-in-the-wind politics continued today when he refused to support right-to-work reforms signed by Ohio Governor John Kasich – reforms Romney supported in June. Americans are tired of politicians who change their beliefs to match public opinion polls. Mitt Romney has a long record of doing this on issues like government-mandated health care and the Obama stimulus. Mitt Romney needs to realize that when you try to stand on both sides of an issue, you stand for nothing.”

U.S. law enforcement demands for Google users' personal information surged in the past six months by 29 percent over the previous six months according to new data released Tuesday by Google, the only online company to release such statistics.

"We believe that providing this level of detail highlights the need to modernize laws like the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which regulates government access to user information and was written 25 years ago--long before the average person had ever heard of email," wrote Dorothy Chou, a senior policy analyst at Google in a Tuesday blog post. "Yet at the end of the day, the information that we're disclosing offers only a limited snapshot. We hope others join us in the effort to provide more transparency, so we'll be better able to see the bigger picture of how regulatory environments affect the entire web."

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