TPM News

John Michael Farren, who served as deputy counsel to President George W. Bush, has been charged with strangulation and attempted murder after allegedly choking his wife and beating her with a flashlight.

Police said Farren attacked his wife at their New Canaan home Wednesday night. According to police, she passed out during the attack but regained consciousness and fled with their children to the house of a neighbor, who called 911. There, police found her bleeding from her head, face and body.

She is reportedly at Norwalk Hospital in stable condition with a broken jaw, a broken nose and other injuries.

John Farren's lawyer said it's "a tragic situation."

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House Progressive Caucus Co-Chair Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) has a number of issues with President Obama. But chief among them seems to be that, though they've stayed silent on a whole host of health care issues, they've thrown their weight behind a controversial tax in the Senate bill--one that Grijalva says violates Obama's solemn campaign pledge not to raise taxes on the middle class.

I asked Grijalva whether the White House's support for the Senate health care bill's excise tax on so-called "Cadillac" insurance policies is compatible with his promise on the campaign.

"No, it's not," Grijalva said.

Grijalva noted that, though the tax applies to very expensive insurance policies, many of the people who benefit from those policies are squarely in the middle class, adding that insurance companies will shift the burden to people who have less generous plans.

It sets up a situation, Grijalva said, where the middle class is subsidizing poor people. "You're building a class conflict that doesn't need to happen," he said.

Given Obama's campaign stance, it also creates political problems, including for rank-and-file Democrats.

"We've got to go back every two years," Grijalva told me. "We've got to explain this bill now and at election time."

Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), a leading House progressive says if the White House can throw its weight behind a controversial tax in the Senate health care bill, it can stand up for some of the House's priorities, too.

In an interview with TPMDC moments after a conference call with over 175 members of the House Democratic caucus, Grijalva said he was encouraged by what he heard from members--strong support for the House bill--but the President needs to get involved if their concerns will be met.

"The president is having his listening sessions, right?" Grijalva asked rhetorically. "After all we've been through at some point the administration can not be neutral players in this process."

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The New York Fed pressured AIG in late 2008 to withhold from the public details about its massive and controversial payments to counter-parties, according to emails obtained by Bloomberg News. At the time, Timothy Geithner, now the Treasury Secretary, was New York Fed chair.

The federal government was heavily criticized last year for what some lawmakers have called a "backdoor bailout" of several large banks. It spent $182 billion all told to bail out AIG, but directed that the troubled insurance giant use those funds to pay back its counter-parties -- including Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, DeutscheBank, and other major banks -- with whom it had engaged in credit default swaps.

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A new Rasmussen poll of Colorado suggests that if Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar had run for governor -- he has just decided against it -- the former Colorado Senator and state attorney general may well have lost, and might not even have been the strongest possible Democratic candidate.

Salazar and Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper were both tested in the poll, which was conducted yesterday, against Republican former Rep. Scott McInnis. Salazar trailed McInnis by 47%-41%, while Hickenlooper is also behind by a narrower 45%-42%.

That said, the pollster's analysis argues that Democratic chances of holding this governor's mansion have actually improved since the retirement announcement by incumbent Dem Gov. Bill Ritter, noting that Ritter trailed McInnis by an eight-point margin last month.

Later today President Obama is scheduled to talk about the latest details from the security review of the failed Flight 253 attack.

National Security Adviser James Jones is [predicting](http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2010-01-06-terror_N.htm) that Americans will feel "a certain shock" by the results of the review.

But in the meantime, as Josh [noted](http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/2010/01/piecing_it_together.php) on the Editors Blog, we thought it would be worthwhile to compile what has been publicly reported about what U.S. government agencies knew about Abdulmutallab, including the supposed "warning signs" that were missed.

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From the White House:

The Vice President is at home today in Wilmington, Delaware where he has gathered with family to spend time with his mother, who has taken seriously ill in recent days.

Who ever said there are no second acts in American life never met some of the Republicans who played roles in the U.S. attorney firings.

Three figures from the Bush Justice Department scandal of 2006 are back in the limelight, running for office under the GOP banner in 2010.

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The new Rasmussen poll of Connecticut, conducted last night in the wake of Democratic Sen. Chris Dodd's retirement announcement, confirms that Democratic state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal is now the heavy favorite to keep the seat for the party.

Blumenthal leads former Rep. Rob Simmons by 56%-33%; Blumenthal leads former World Wrestling Entertainment CEO Linda McMahon by 58%-34%; and Blumenthal leads financial analyst Peter Schiff by 60%-24%. These results are fairly similar to yesterday's numbers from Public Policy Polling (D), which was conducted just before the news of Dodd's retirement and Blumenthal's entry into the race.

Dodd had been performing badly in previous Rasmussen polls. From the pollster's analysis: "With a single announcement, Chris Dodd transformed the Senate race in Connecticut from one that leaned in the GOP direction to a fairly safe bet for the Democratic Party."

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar will not run for Colorado governor, the Denver Post reports. Instead, he will endorse Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper.

"John Hickenlooper is a uniter. He transcends political and geographic divides to bring people together to develop solutions. If he decides to run, he will make an excellent Governor for the State of Colorado," Salazar said in a statement.

Sources had told TPMDC that Salazar was "seriously considering" such a run, and the White House had reportedly told him they wouldn't oppose a run.

Today, sources confirmed that national Democrats were talking to Salazar about a run. A Democratic source with knowledge of the process said they "didn't know" what was behind Salazar's choice not to run. Asked if Hickenlooper was the best "Plan B" for national Democrats hoping to hold the governor's mansion in Colorado, the source said Democrats "love" Hickenlooper and called him "Plan A2."

Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter announced earlier this week that he would retire rather than run for re-election.

Additional reporting by Evan McMorris-Santoro

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