TPM News

Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) defended Nevada's legal prostitution industry on Wednesday -- putting him at odds with Sen. Harry Reid's (D-NV) call this week to end the brothel business.

"You know, that's a county by county issue and I think and it should be left to the counties," Ensign told local station after a town hall meeting.

On Tuesday, Reid delivered a speech to the Nevada legislature in which he declared "the time has come for us to outlaw prostitution." Many state lawmakers defended the current brothel system after and it's unclear whether Reid's position has enough support to move forward. Governor Brian Sandoval (R) has said the issue should be left to the counties as well.

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Steve Israel promised to take on Congressional Republicans over their push to tighten abortion laws. Now, the DCCC chair is making good on that pledge.

With the 2012 elections well over a year away, Democrats are already up with paid advertising aimed at five Republican members of Congress they hope to defeat in 2012. The program is part of a larger targeted web, radio and email ad program taking on 19 Republicans Democrats say are vulnerable next year.

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Life was more fun for Republicans when they could vote "no" on job-creating bills like the stimulus, then go to ribbon-cutting ceremonies for stimulus projects in their districts.

Now that they're voting "yes" on bills that will slash, delay or eliminate those projects, life's pretty rough.

Check out, for instance, this interview with freshman Rep. Bobby Schilling (R-IL), who's tied in knots over his recent vote to kill a transportation project in his district. Specifically, he voted for the House spending legislation, which would eliminate a $230 million federal grant to build an Amtrak line from Chicago to Iowa City, if it goes into effect.

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No matter how sensible the protesters in Wisconsin seem, Stephen Colbert is sure that they're downright evil. And if they won't live up to the stereotype of the thuggish union member, he's going to do it for them -- even if it means killing an adorable puppy.

"We know that government workers are greedy goons because we keep saying that they are," Colbert said. "But because they keep refusing to live up to our stereotypes, we must do it for them."

"Then the American people will despise us, by which I mean them," he added.

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While the Wisconsin legislative fight over union rights has devolved into a rhetorical Cold War, the similar struggle between Democrats and Republicans in the Indiana state House is positively cordial by comparison.

Though Republicans, led by Gov. Mitch Daniels, are firm in their insistence there will be no negotiation with the group of AWOL House Democrats currently cooling their heels in Urbana, IL, a member of the Republican House leadership tells TPM there will be no hard feelings if and when the Democrats finally return.

"None," Rep. Eric Turner, assistant GOP leader in the House told TPM Thursday morning. "Certainly, at times, members of the opposite party are our opponents, but they're not our enemies."

"We're legislators, we're colleagues, we're respectful of one another," he added. "We can have a difference of opinion on a piece of legislation and work on another piece of legislation together."

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Jon Stewart was in a forgiving mood when Donald Rumsfeld stopped by The Daliy Show last night.

Before asking any questions, Stewart said he knew how hard it must be for the former defense secretary to vocalize an apology for the Iraq war. So, to make things easy, Stewart said that he accepted the apology he just knew Rumsfeld wanted to make.

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Qaddafi just called into Libyan TV to give a relatively short statement.

He is NOT backing down and insists the protesters are all teenagers who are taking drugs handed out by Al Qaeda. He says the protesters are small in number.

Qaddafi again threatened to cut off oil supplies: "When the oil flow has been stopped, how are the people going to sustain a living. Will Bin Laden provide for them?"

However, Qaddafi tried to talk down his own authority. He called himself a symbolic leader like the Queen of England, who is there only to provide "parental advice."
He offered small concessions: "You can put anyone who is suspected of corruption on trial. It is your call." Also: "Maybe there can be a revision of  salaries or other income." "We are urging people to form committees." He even talked about giving people interest-free loans.

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MADISON, WI -- The debate is moving forward in Wisconsin on Republican Gov. Scott Walker's budget proposal and its controversial provisions weakening the power of public employee unions -- or at least, it's moving forward in the state Assembly. The state Senate remains effectively shut down.

As the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports, the Republican and Democratic leaders in the Assembly have reached a deal to limit debate on the many amendments that Democrats had been offering to the bill -- which have been voted down on party-line margins -- narrowing the list down to just 38 more, with ten minutes of debate for each.

At that rate, the Assembly could come to a vote later on Thursday.

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