TPM News

The chart we've dubbed "The Scariest Job Chart Ever" continues to be, well, scary, following today's June Non-Farm Payrolls Report.

As you can see from the low line of the chart, put together by Calculated Risk, we're clearly not enjoying a v-shaped ascent like we've seen during other jobs recoveries. And what's more, if you look just at the dotted line, which is based on private payrolls, it really looks like we've stalled out.

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You might not expect a race between the uber-boring Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum and the uber-rich former hospital exec Rick Scott to be a barn-burner. But the Florida Republican gubernatorial primary -- a race no one really expected to happen in the first place -- is making a strong claim for the title of nastiest primary race of the year.

Here's a quick overview of the past couple weeks. McCollum, trailing in the polls to the self-funded Scott, turned it up to 11 with a mailer that says Scott, who made his millions as the CEO of Columbia HCA, "profited from abortion," thanks to the fact that the procedure was performed at some Columbia-run hospitals. In response, Scott fired off a press release attacking McCollum for supporting Rudy Giuliani in the 2008 presidential race. How does a tie to America's Mayor hurt McCollum in Scott's eyes, you might ask? Like this: Scott says McCollum isn't conservative enough because he "endorsed pro-abortion and pro-homosexual rights candidate" Giuliani.

Like I said, nasty.

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We asked Republican National Committee spokesman Doug Heye for comment on RNC Chairman Michael Steele's remarks that Afghanistan is "a war of Obama's choosing" that the United States had not actively prosecuted and did not want to be in. He sent us an answer -- though it doesn't quite get at the big issues.

For starters, we asked what Steele meant by these statements, and whether he thinks America should not be in Afghanistan at all? And besides, didn't the war begin in 2001 under George W. Bush, in response to the 9/11 attacks? Heye sent us this statement:

The Chairman clearly supports our troops but believes that success of the war effort in Afghanistan requires the ongoing support of the American people.

The responsibility for building and maintaining that strategy falls squarely on the shoulders of the President. Like so many Americans, Chairman Steele wants to hear an explanation from President Obama on what his strategy is for winning the war in Afghanistan. The Petraeus hearings were an opportunity - a missed opportunity - to do that. Instead, all we hear from the President is criticism of his predecessor for doing exactly the same thing.

At the same time, Congress must stop playing politics with the war and provide the funding our troops need to win and come home.

The new Rasmussen poll of the Ohio Senate race gives Republican former Congressman and ex-Bush administration official Rob Portman a narrow lead over Democratic Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher, in the race for the seat of retiring Republican Sen. George Voinovich.

The numbers: Portman 43%, Fisher 39%. The survey of likely voters has a ±4.5% margin of error. In the previous poll from a month ago, the two were tied at 43%-43%.

Two other polls from yesterday, one Public Policy Polling (D) and the other from Quinnipiac, gave Fisher narrow leads -- but in any case, the race is definitely too close to call. The TPM Poll Average gives Fisher an edge of 42.5%-41.4%.

Jon Stewart mocked Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) last night for asking Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan about her previous comments that the confirmation hearings are "vapid and hollow." Doing his best Sessions impression, Stewart said: "And she said of me personally, my ears make my head look like a flesh-toned bowling trophy."

But after watching the hearings, Stewart was able to sum up the questioning about Kagan's background pretty well: "Let's just cut to the chase. You're a Jew! You're a Jew. You're from Jewsylvania. You're favorite candy is JewJewbees. You love to play Jewmanji."

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Stephen Colbert felt bad last night that John Boehner has been taking so much heat for comparing the financial crisis to "killing an ant with a nuclear weapon." Colbert said: "Republicans prefer to kill ants with magnifying glasses. Or as they call it 'sunboarding.'"

Colbert continued that Boehner's also faced "vicious hate speech" from MSNBC host Joe Scarborough, who accused Boehner of being lazy. Scarborough, said Colbert, is "racist against Tangelo-Americans." We've heard it before, he added: "Orange people don't like to work. Orange people just drink all day. Orange people hate Mondays and love lasagna."

"I hope that next week is better for you and your son, Chester Cheetah," Colbert said.

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Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele may be misremembering exactly how and when the Afghanistan war began.

At a Republican Party fundraiser in Connecticut on Thursday, Steele declared that the war in Afghanistan "was a war of Obama's choosing" that America had not "actively prosecuted or wanted to engage in," in a response to an attendee's question about the resignation of Gen. Stanley McChrystal -- which Steele called "very comical."

[TPM SLIDESHOW: Best Boss Ever? Michael Steele & The RNC Interns]

"The McChrystal incident, to me, was very comical. And I think it's a reflection of the frustration that a lot of our military leaders have with this Administration and their prosecution of the war in Afghanistan," said Steele. "Keep in mind again, federal candidates, this was a war of Obama's choosing. This is not something the United States had actively prosecuted or wanted to engage in."

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The House Ethics Committee, in its probe of sexual harassment allegations made against former Rep. Eric Massa (D-NY), has interviewed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Politico reports, likely about how much House leaders knew about the allegations and how they responded.

Politico also reports that the committee will release its report on the investigation soon.

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