TPM News

Pat Robertson, a Christian televangelist, speaking today about the devastating earthquake in Haiti, said Haitians had collectively "sworn a pact to the devil," which brought on the country's extreme poverty and the earthquake.

"Something happened a long time ago in Haiti, and people might not want to talk about it. They were under the heel of the French ... and they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, 'We will serve you if you will get us free from the French.' True story. So the devil said, 'OK, it's a deal.'"

"Ever since, they have been cursed by one thing after another," Robertson said, referring to the country's poverty.

Robertson was speaking on the Christian Broadcast Network during a drive by the network, which he founded, to raise money for disaster relief.

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In the latest effort to drum up the Democratic base in the Massachusetts special Senate election, the campaign of Democratic nominee Martha Coakley has sent out a fundraising e-mail from Ted Kennedy's widow Vicki Kennedy, who writes about the importance of keeping this seat in Democratic hands.

"The importance of having a voice and a vote that you can count on in Washington has never been more evident than during this ongoing health care debate. And we're going to need every vote again," Vicki Kennedy writes.

"Ted fought for national health care reform for 40 years. He believed that every American deserved their chance at the American dream, but that as long as an illness or preexisting condition could bankrupt an American family, that great goal could never become a reality. We need Martha Coakley to continue our shared fight for national health reform, to reduce costs for businesses and families and increase coverage in Massachusetts and throughout this country. This race will be very close and we need you to get us to victory."

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Republican candidate Scott Brown has a new radio ad in the Massachusetts special Senate election, featuring his two daughters Ayla and Arianna Brown, blasting Democratic candidate Martha Coakley for attacking their dad.

This ad would appear to be a response to Coakley's ad attacking Brown for favoring legislation to allow hospitals to deny emergency contraception to rape victims. Brown himself has already done a TV ad saying Coakley is making false attacks, though he didn't specifically refute anything -- and neither does this new radio spot.

"When he made his decision to run for the United States Senate, we knew it would be a learning experience for our family. We were excited about the family and what our dad could accomplish for the state," said Ayla. "But what we've witnessed and learned from Martha Coakley and her political machine goes against everything we were taught growing up. Martha Coakley and her supporters are saying hurtful and dishonest things about our dad. Their attacks are out of line."

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The frontrunner for the Republican nomination in Virginia's fifth congressional district is shoring up his conservative credentials - criticizing tax increases and making sure his Web site includes no mention of his vote for the biggest tax hike the state has ever had.

During the legislative session this month State Sen. Robert Hurt will be carrying legislation for the state's new Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell and Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and his bills are likely to earn plaudits from conservatives.

As his six opponents attack him for voting to raise nearly $1.4 billion in taxes during the 2004 legislative session under then-Gov. Mark Warner (D), Hurt's new Web site portrays the candidate as a champion of tax cuts.

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The banking crisis that nearly triggered the collapse of the U.S. financial sector in 2008 and continues to cause after-shocks around the world was a routine occurrence, the head of one of the investment banks that helped cause it suggested today.

Here's what Jamie Dimon, CEO of bailout beneficiary JPMorgan Chase, said during testimony before the Washington commission that's probing the causes of the crisis:

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New polling released yesterday and today by Public Policy Polling (D) provides some solid, empirical evidence that a vote against the health care bill may be the better bet for swing-seat Democrats. Or at least, that seems to be the message for freshman Rep. Larry Kissell (D-NC), who voted against the bill.

The new polls show that Kissell easily leads several potential Republican opponents, by margins of 14-18 points. He also leads a potential Democratic primary challenger, 2002 nominee Chris Kouri, by 49%-15%. But a close look at the polls shows just how people think he voted on the bill -- and how this could be affecting their decisions about him.

It turns out that a 44% plurality of the likely general election electorate falsely believe that Kissell voted for the bill, with only 29% giving the correct answer that he voted against it, and 28% are unsure. (This might come as a huge shock, but voters can often make their decisions based on false beliefs and information.) I asked PPP for some customized cross-tabs -- which reveal that among people who think he voted for it the race is very close, with a landslide lead among the folks who think he voted against it.

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The politics of health care reform could get even more complicated for Democrats if a bill isn't passed by the end of January, when the Congressional Budget Office releases new long-term U.S. economic projections. If those new projections are more pessimistic than the current projections, which were used to help calculate the cost of health care reform, then the new numbers could increase the expected cost of the bill and wreak havoc on the carefully stitched together compromise that has Democratic budget hawks, especially in the Senate, reluctantly supporting reform.

The good news for Democrats is that the CBO's official cost estimate of the final health care bill will be based on the same assumptions CBO has used all along. The bad news? In the past, when CBO has predicted dramatic changes to the economic forecast, members of Congress have asked analysts to provide unofficial numbers based on the new numbers. And therein lies an opportunity for Republicans eager to drive a wedge between progressives and their more economically conservative brethren in the Democratic Party.

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Harold Ford Jr., a former Democratic Congressman from Tennessee, is considering challenging Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) for her seat. But the Manhattan newcomer may not be ready to face New York voters. In an interview with the New York Times, an edited transcript of which was published today, he gave some questionable answers.

Q. What are her [Gillibrand's] challenges?

A. There are some differences that I have with the senator on a few fronts -- as it relates to the city and as it relates to the state, and to national issues. One, I am a firm believer on the economy and national security.


He went on to say he would be more "aggressive" about job creation than Gillibrand and wants to pass "a huge tax cut bill for business people."

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January 12, 2010: A powerful 7.0 magnitude earthquake hits the Caribbean island nation of Haiti, devastating the capitol of Port-au-Prince. It was the strongest earthquake to hit the country in more than 200 years.

Be advised: Some of these images are graphic and disturbing.

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January 12, 2010: A fire task force in Los Angeles County prepares to deploy relief aid to Haiti.

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January 13, 2010: French aid workers prepare to leave for Haiti.

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January 13, 2010: A Japanese Red Cross official prepares to leave Narita, Japan for Haiti.

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January 13, 2010: Members of a Chinese rescue team prepare to board a plane for Port-au-Prince.

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January 13, 2010: Volunteers search for victims among the debris in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

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January 13, 2010: Survivors stay in a make-shift camp in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

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