TPM News

Sharron Angle doesn't see what the big deal is with her past statements and long-held ultra-conservative views. In a new interview with CNN -- which the network rightfully touts as "rare" -- Angle suggests that observers of the Senate race in Nevada who want to paint her as "extreme" are ignoring the truth about her.

"I'll be a mainstream Senator," she told CNN. Angle, the Republican nominee, says that the all-but-universally-accepted notion that she's pushing the envelope when it comes to conservative politics in mainstream races this year is nothing but spin.

"As you speak, as we're conversationally speaking, sometimes when you pick out words, they're not the best words you could have used," Angle says in the interview. "When taken out of context, you can make anybody look like they don't know what they're talking about."

Harry Reid, the Democratic nominee in the race, was blunt in his response to that comment. "It's a little hard to take out of context when they say they want to phase out Social Security," Reid told CNN.

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President Obama is commemorating Labor Day today with a speech this afternoon in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He'll also be announcing details on a new $50 billion infrastructure jobs program. Here are his prepared remarks, as released by the White House.

Hello, Milwaukee! Thank you to the Milwaukee Area Labor Council and to all of my brothers and sisters in the AFL-CIO for inviting me to spend this day with you - a day that belongs to the working men and women of America. I want to acknowledge your outstanding national president, a man who knows that a strong economy needs a strong labor movement: Rich Trumka; Dave Newby, president of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO; and our host, your Milwaukee Area Labor Council Secretary-Treasurer, Sheila Cochran, who I hear has a birthday tomorrow. I'm proud to be here with our Secretary of Labor, a daughter of union members, Hilda Solis; and our Secretary of Transportation, Ray LaHood. And let's hear it for the folks at the forefront of every fight for Wisconsin's working men and women - Senator Herb Kohl; Congresswoman Gwen Moore; and your outstanding mayor, Tom Barrett. Your other great senator, Russ Feingold, was here with you earlier, standing with you and your families just like he always has, but he had to head to his hometown of Janesville to participate in their Labor Day parade.

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The Republican who hopes to replace the late Sen. Robert Byrd (D) in West Virginia, wealthy businessman John Raese, is up with a new TV commercial that -- not surprisingly -- tries to tie the Democratic nominee, Gov. Joe Manchin, to the policies of President Obama. What is at least a little surprising about it is that the ad attempts to make its point about how close Obama and Machin are by showing a photo of the two men sharing a moment at Byrd's memorial service in July.

The Byrd family has cried foul, calling the use of the photo in the ad "tasteless and insensitive." Raese's campaign claims it didn't know where image was taken before using it.

"That's a stock photo," Raese campaign manager Jim Dornan told the AP. "We had no idea it was from the memorial service."

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Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander of the Afghanistan War, said today the planned burning of Korans by a Florida church could put American troops in danger.

"It could endanger troops and it could endanger the overall effort," Petraeus told the Wall Street Journal. "It is precisely the kind of action the Taliban uses and could cause significant problems. Not just here, but everywhere in the world we are engaged with the Islamic community."

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According to the Senate Armed Services Committee, Blackwater has created 31 shell companies in order to win military and CIA contracts without revealing its notorious name.

Chairman Carl Levin released a chart of the subsidiaries to the New York Times last week. According to the Times, at least three of the companies have been awarded secret contracts. One official said Blackwater, now called Xe Services, and its subsidiaries have been paid $600 million in classified government deals since 2001.

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Jerry Brown, the Democratic nominee for Governor of California and an almost unbelievably long-term fixture in the state's political scene, has told nervous supporters for weeks now that when the time comes, he'll roll out his full-scale plan to battle Republican nominee/billionaire Meg Whitman. Today, it seems, was the day he was waiting for.

Brown launched his first TV ad of the contest, a feel-good spot that hearkens back to Brown's term as governor in the 1970s and early '80s. Brown has said that even the insider-weary electorate of 2010 will want to return California's top job to someone with (more than a little) experience after ultimate outsider Arnold Schwarzenegger's term at the helm.

Polls have not borne that theory out so far, though. Whitman, running basically alone on TV until now, has steadily built momentum through the summer and is now running neck-and-neck with her Democratic opponent. The TPM Poll Average for the race shows Whitman ahead 44.8-43.8.

But to hear Brown tell it, he's just putting his strategy into play now. And the new TV ad premiering today, his campaign says, is the first step on the road to Brown's triumphant return to the governor's office he left in 1983.

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Hundreds of Afghans demonstrated outside the U.S. Embassy in Kabul today against a Florida church's plan to burn Korans on Sept. 11, shouting "Death to America" and "Long live Islam."

The AP reports that members of parliament and religious leaders spoke at the rally, where protesters called for the death of President Obama and burned Rev. Terry Jones in effigy.

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Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair says that the toughest part of being a progressive-leaning politician these days is dealing with progressives themselves. Ironically, Blair says, activists on the left often assist their right-wing opponents by piling on the pols who lean their way rather than defending them against a conservative onslaught that he says is "vicious" and begins from "the word 'go.'" Blair says the politics of the day can leave ostensibly left-leaning leaders like President Obama "in an isolated position," with right-wing opponents eager to destroy them and the activist left (more often than not) happy to help.

"I love my own politics and progressives and all the rest of it," Blair told ABC's Christiane Amanpour in an unaired portion of his This Week interview from Sunday. "But if we have a weakness as a class, when the right get after us and attack our progressive leaders, instead of defending them we tend to say, 'Yeah, well, really we've got a lot of complaints about them, too.'"

Blair said that the tendency of the left to pile on rather than defend its own leaders can leave their politicians alone to face the right wing attack machine, which Blair says is merciless. "It doesn't matter how well intentioned you think you are," Blair said of the right. "They're going to go for you completely."

"And then the interesting thing is, the progressives say, 'Hey you're not being progressive enough! Why don't you do more for us?'" Blair added. "And so you can end up in quite an isolated position if you're not careful."

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When Sen. John Ensign's housemates on C Street found out about his affair with the wife of an aide, they burst into his room and woke him up to stage an intervention.

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), a fellow C-streeter, had found out about the affair weeks earlier and confronted Ensign, according to the New Yorker, which is out with a long story about Ensign (R-NV), the C-Street House, and the Fellowship.

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As anti-Muslim sentiment appears to be on the rise throughout the country, with high-profile protests against mosque construction and a handful of violent episodes against Muslims, Muslim groups are pushing back.

Last Monday, a group of young Muslim professionals from the D.C. area launched My Faith My Voice, a web site that encourages fellow Muslims to upload their own PSAs explaining that although they are Muslim, they're not terrorists.

"When we see our loyalty as Americans questioned, that's something we take very seriously," the group's lawyer, Hassan Ahmad, told TPM. "The point of the campaign is one of bridge building, reassurance, an invitation to listen to who we actually are ... that Americans of other faiths will lend an ear and listen."

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