TPM News

Doug Kmiec, a prominent conservative supporter of President Barack Obama who submitted his resignation as the U.S. ambassador to Malta earlier this month, says the State Department improperly clamped down on articles he wrote about his Catholic faith and his admiration for President Ronald Reagan.

The former Justice Department official, one of Obama's most prominent conservative and pro-life supporters, spoke to me on Thursday by phone from the Malta embassy. He said it was the first time he had spoken to a reporter since his resignation letter was accepted out of respect to the request of the State Department that he not comment to the media until the President had a chance to act on his letter.

Read More →

Appearing Thursday night on Fox News with Greta Van Susteren, freshman Rep. Allen West (R-FL) had some remarkably tough things to say about President Obama's recent address on the budget deficit and criticism of the Republican budget.

"I am sick and tired of this class warfare, this Marxist demagogic rhetoric that is coming from the President of the United States of America," said West. "It is not helpful for this country, and it's not gonna move the ball forward as far as rectifying the economic situation in our country. And I am not gonna back away from telling what the truth is."

Read More →

The resignation of scandal-plagued Sen. John Ensign (R-NV), and the expected appointment of current Republican candidate Rep. Dean Heller to the seat, could portend a political mess of a wholly different sort: A special election for Heller's House seat -- and the conundrum for Republicans posed by the potential candidacy of their losing U.S. Senate nominee from 2010, Sharron Angle.

Angle, who lost the 2010 Senate race despite the national Republican wave -- due to controversy over extreme statements about "Second Amendment remedies" to Democratic policies, and her statements in favor of phasing out Social Security and Medicare -- has already been running for the House seat, along with retired Navy Commander Kirk Lippold, who was chief officer of the U.S.S. Cole when it was attacked by al Qaeda in 2000. In addition, Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki and state GOP chair Mark Amodei are reportedly considering the race.

The problem: Under the rules for special elections in Nevada, the parties would select the nominees rather than primary voters doing the job -- and the same party leaders who watched Angle blow the very winnable 2010 Senate race, would be much more likely to pick someone else.

As Roll Call reports:

If the parties are ultimately allowed to choose their nominees, a high-ranking Nevada GOP source said there is "no way" Angle would be tapped to be the party's standard-bearer. But Amodei would likely have the upper hand in that scenario.

Read More →

Statistics wiz Nate Silver analyzed media coverage of possible GOP 2012 candidates and his results paint a dramatic picture of Donald Trump's meteoric rise and Sarah Palin's equally spectacular collapse in the press.

According to Silver's research, Donald Trump has occupied 40% of all coverage of the GOP primaries in blogs, newspapers, television, and radio stations over the last month. His share of the spotlight by far outpaces any other likely contender, only one of whom breaks into double digits -- barely.

That runner-up would be Palin, who has seen her press coverage rapidly decline in recent months along with her credibility as a candidate. Palin occupied only 11% of primary coverage in April, the same percentage as March, when she was eclipsed by Newt Gingrich -- who announced his exploratory committee -- at 19%.That represents a huge drop since November 2010, when Palin dominated the conversation with 51% of all coverage, providing some statistical evidence to the case pundits have made in recent weeks that she no longer holds the same buzz she used to. Apparently it's getting to her staff, who have taken to complaining on Twitter about the lack of coverage.

The bone thrown to abortion opponents in the 2011 budget deal -- which dropped the GOP's plans to defund Planned Parenthood -- was the reinstatement of a federal ban on the D.C. government spending its funds on abortion in the way it would like.

Now the pro-life members who got the ban into the budget law are worrying that the city may not act to enforce the ban, and are calling out Mayor Vincent Gray. The mayor's office tells TPM that they're planning to comply with the wishes of Congress.

It's the latest round in a proxy war over abortion that sees state rights-friendly conservatives repeatedly impose their will on the taxpayers of the nation's capital.

Read More →

Just when you thought the sad saga of Quran-burning Florida pastor Terry Jones couldn't get more absurd...

According to Southfield, Michigan police, Jones' .40-caliber handgun fired accidentally as he was leaving a television studio there on Thursday night. This is presumably the same handgun he said he intended to bring to his planned anti-sharia law protest in Dearborn, Michigan on Friday, though he's said he's come to Dearborn "totally in peace."

Read More →

For the next several weeks, and likely through election season, Washington will continue to be gripped by the debate about how to reduce federal deficits and the national debt. It's a common focus of legislative preening, particularly after economic downturns, and even more particularly when Democrats control the White House.

So it's worth keeping in mind how current and projected deficits and debt stack up to their historic levels, relative to GDP. The answers will surprise you.

The following graph tracks annual deficits as percentages of GDP over the last several decades. Unsurprisingly, what you see is that they spike during economic downturns, with the most severe spike after the United States entered World War II -- a spending effort that provided the economic stimulus the country needed to finally break the back of the Great Depression. National surpluses shrank as the country entered a mild recession at the end of the Clinton administration, got worse after President Bush spearheaded deficit financed tax cuts, wars, and domestic spending, and ballooned just as Obama took office thanks to the double whammy of a sharp decline in revenues, which plunged when the bottom fell out of the economy after the financial crisis, and stimulus spending to salvage the economy.

Read More →

Obama-Hoyer Bond Forms As Pelosi Rejects Budget Deal The Hill reports: "This year's budget battles have forged a loose bond between President Obama and Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) while revealing some distance between the White House and Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). The informal alliance has propelled the minority whip into the spotlight of the spending debate, bolstered his reputation as a centrist dealmaker and even led some Democrats to suggest he should lead the caucus in the looming talks over raising the nation's debt limit."

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama will depart from Los Angeles, California, at 11:55 a.m. ET. He will arrive back at Andrews Air Force Base at 4:15 p.m. ET. He does not currently have any scheduled public events.

Read More →

The Wisconsin Supreme Court race recount is starting to take shape, WisPolitics reports, with the campaigns of incumbent conservative Justice David Prosser and liberal-backed challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg agreeing in court Thursday to a procedure: It will be part-machine recount, and part-hand recount.

Normally, the state would have conducted a machine recount, in which the ballots would be re-run under careful supervision. However, some areas with older machines would require their existing memory cartridges to be erased in order to re-run the ballots -- thus destroying an original record of the count from election night.

Read More →

Embattled Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) is resigning from his seat in the U.S. Senate. In a statement released by his office Thursday evening, Ensign said his last day as a Senator will be May 3.

"It is with tremendous sadness that I officially hand over the Senate seat that I have held for eleven years," Ensign said in the statement. "The turbulence of these last few years is greatly surpassed by the incredible privilege that I feel to have been entrusted to serve the people of Nevada. I can honestly say that being a United States Senator has been the honor of my life."

Ensign had already announced he wouldn't be seeking a third term in 2012, after his current term was marred by scandal involving an affair with the wife of a longtime friend and former staffer. The scandal put Ensign in the sights of the Senate Ethics Committee.

Read More →

LiveWire