TPM News

Ohio's senior senator praised state Democrats in Wisconsin on Friday for taking a firm stand against legislation to roll back public worker rights. And he said he expects to see similar opposition from Dems in his own state to legislation making its way through the Ohio legislature that mirrors the controversial Wisconsin bill.

"I think they're going to fight back, and I think they're figuring right now what to do," Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) told me during an interview in his Capitol Hill office.

Brown, a progressive, and committed supporter of organized labor, said that the only way for Democrats to beat back Republican plans to end collective bargaining for public sector workers is by maximizing their leverage.

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Wisconsin state Sen. Julie Lassa, one of the Democrats who fled the state in order to block the three-fifths quorum for Republican Gov. Scott Walker's budget and its anti-public union proposals, said on MSNBC Friday that public employees are willing to make sacrifices -- but that Walker isn't willing to negotiate with them.

Lassa was recently an unsuccessful Democratic nominee for the House during the Republican wave of 2010. She ran for the seat vacated by longtime Democratic Rep. David Obey that was won by Republican Sean Duffy. Lassa remained a member of the state Senate, however, as her seat was not up for election -- and she is now a fugitive from politics, along with 13 other Dem state senators.

During a phone interview, MSNBC's Contessa Brewer asked Lassa for her opinion of concerns that some people have, that benefit agreements for public employees were "crushing" state and local budgets. "Should there be -- maybe this is not the way to do it -- but should there be a reformation when it comes to the way that unions approach, especially public workers' jobs?"

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Earlier Friday, Wisconsin Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca (D) directed some sharp words at Republicans from the floor of the Assembly's chamber, at a moment when he wasn't even supposed to be speaking. Democratic members of the Assembly are in the Capitol even as their 14 counterparts in the Senate are still sticking to the walkout they initiated Thursday.

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House Republicans are on the cusp of passing legislation that would slash federal spending dramatically over the next six months, and they've larded it up with extraneous riders, which would undermine many of President Obama's accomplishments.

That sounds terrible, but on the bright side it gave Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) a chance to unload on the GOP's "orgy of self-congratulation."

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TPM recently reported that DARPA, the Department of Defense's agency that develops new technologies for future military use, has been laying the ground work to send humans five light-years into space to visit the stars. "How can they top themselves after announcing that?" you might be wondering.

Two words: "Cyber Camouflage." How about another two words? "Robotic Hummingbirds." These are just two of the hundreds of projects DARPA has included in their 2012 unclassified budget request. Barack Obama's 2012 budget proposal requests $2.9 billion in funding for DARPA, including $270 million in sensor technology, $61 million to machine intelligence, and $107 million for "Classified DARPA Programs."

Here's quick run-down of some of DARPA's proposals:

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Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker may be engaged in a high-stakes political battle with Democrats and state workers, but he's playing with fire by clashing with the Green Bay Packers, warn two Democratic members of the state's delegation in the U.S. House.

In a match-up between Walker and the Packers, Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI), a popular former county prosecutor in the state, says his money is on his Superbowl champions.

"I wouldn't want to be going up against the Packers right now," he said.

"Yeah, I like those odds," remarked Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI).

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The teachers unions in Wisconsin are continuing to revolt against the anti-public union provisions of Republican Gov. Scott Walker's budget proposal, with more and more schools closing down from teachers calling in sick en masse.

In the capital city of Madison, where the "sick-out" began on Wednesday, the school closings have continued into its third day, the local CBS affiliate reports.

And among the many other districts with closures throughout the state, now another big shoe has dropped. The Milwaukee Public Schools, the largest district in the state, has closed its schools Friday.

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