TPM News

The White House has been pretty clear for weeks now that they want Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) to sail smoothly to re-election in 2010. But now, apparently, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is getting in on the act.

Word out of Washington, D.C., is that the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and the political wiseguys from the Obama administration plan on "visiting with" Pennsylvania Democrat Rep. Joe Sestak.

Their objective is clear: Get him off the stage and out of a primary race against incumbent (and now Democrat) Sen. Arlen Specter.
Sestak seems to have scaled back his attacks on Specter in the last week or two, and he suggested he approves of Specter's efforts to reach a compromise on the Employee Free Choice Act with the bill's sponsor Sen. Tom Harkin (R-IA). But he's also said he'd likely get into the race unless Specter came into line with the Democrats on a whole host of issues. Does this change his calculus?

It's strange to think that a guy who served as Speaker of the House for a mere four years, ending his stint more than a decade ago, has now been able to command such a loyal following in the DC media types that he is making regular national TV appearances and is often mentioned as a potential presidential candidate. But that's what Newt Gingrich -- whose name was last on a ballot in 1998, when he won re-election to his House seat from Georgia and then soon after resigned as both Speaker and a member of Congress -- has managed to pull off.

Just look at his Speaker Gingrich Web hub for his views on the issues -- its full heading is "The Office of Speaker Newt Gingrich," a decade after he left an office he held for four years. He's also become an expert adviser with House Minority Whip Eric Cantor's National Council for a New America, which is widely seen as a GOP rebranding effort.

Some recent Newt pronouncements include:

• Calling on the current Speaker Nancy Pelosi to resign, after she said the CIA lied to her about torture: "She's made America less secure by sending a signal to the men and women defending our country that they can't count on their leaders to defend them."

• Declaring that President Obama is endangering Israel: "There's almost an eagerness to take on the Israeli government to make a point with the Arab world."

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Reports last week suggested that the Newburgh four -- the men arrested Wednesday for plotting to bomb two New York synagogues -- perhaps weren't the swiftest ships in her majesty's fleet. But over the weekend, people close to the four came forward to describe how the government informant at the center of the case against them -- the man known to the suspects as Maqsood -- aggressively courted the men before luring them into an imagined jihad.

Here's what the New York Daily News, Post, and Times reported about how "Maqsood" (identified as a Pakistani immigrant named Shahed Hussain) won the men's loyalty:

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After Barack Obama wrapped up his big security and civil liberties speech last week, Sen. Russell Feingold (D-WI) issued a strong statement of support for the President in which he drew a stark contrast between the new administration and the previous one.

But Feingold was either holding fire, or the words he'd just heard hadn't settled in immediately. Because by the end of the week, a reservation had emerged. In a gentle, but resolute, letter to Obama dated Friday, May 22, Feingold says a key aspect of Obama's outlined detention policy is likely unconstitutional.

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Obama: North Korea "Recklessly Challenging The International Community" President Obama released a statement at about 2 a.m. ET, on North Korea's claimed nuclear test. "By acting in blatant defiance of the United Nations Security Council, North Korea is directly and recklessly challenging the international community," Obama said. "North Korea's behavior increases tensions and undermines stability in Northeast Asia. Such provocations will only serve to deepen North Korea's isolation. It will not find international acceptance unless it abandons its pursuit of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery."

Obama's Day Ahead: Memorial Day Observance President Obama is having breakfast with Gold Star Families this morning, at 9 a.m. ET in the State Dining Room. At 11 a.m. ET, he will participate in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. He will speak at 11:15 a.m. ET, from the Memorial Amphitheater.

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Mullen: Gitmo Needs To Be Closed Appearing on ABC's This Week, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Michael Mullen reaffirmed his belief that the prison at Guantanamo Bay should be closed. "The concern I've had about Guantanamo in these wars is it has been a symbol, and one which has been a recruiting symbol for those extremists and jihadists who would fight us. So and I think that centers -- you know, that's the heart of the concern for Guantanamo's continued existence, in which I spoke to a few years ago, the need to close it."

Obama's Day: Camp David President Obama has been spending the weekend at Camp David, and is scheduled to arrive back at the White House tonight at 10 p.m. ET. He does not have any public events scheduled. Vice President Biden is in Wilmington, Delaware, and also does not have any scheduled public events.

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Obama Thanks Troops In Memorial Day Weekend Address In this weekend's Presidential YouTube address, President Obama recognized the troops on Memorial Day weekend -- and said that the public hasn't always fully support them, but he will change that:

"That is why I will send our servicemen and women into harm's way only when it is necessary, and ensure that they have the training and equipment they need when they enter the theater of war," said Obama. "That is why we are building a 21st century Department of Veterans Affairs with the largest single-year funding increase in three decades. It's a commitment that will help us provide our veterans with the support and benefits they have earned, and expand quality health care to a half million more veterans."

GOP Address: Barrasso Support "Red, White And Blue Jobs" For Energy In this weekend's Republican YouTube, address Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) also thanked the troops on Memorial Day weekend -- and then proceeded to attack the Democrats on energy issues:

"Democrats have focused solely on what they call green jobs," said Barrasso. "Those are jobs from alternative energy. I support green jobs, but why discriminate? American energy means American jobs, which is why I support red, white, and blue jobs."

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New York Times standards editor Craig Whitney has now chimed in on the paper's changes to its front-page story on "recidivism" among freed Guantanamo detainees -- and Whitney is joining a colleague who thinks the after-the-fact rewriting of the front-page story's headline and lead was no big deal.

Here's Whitney's rather tortured reasoning for why there was no need to issue a correction, as paraphrased by Michael Calderone of Politico:

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Conservative radio host Eric "Mancow" Muller decided to have himself waterboarded to show it's no big deal.

His response after enduring several seconds of having water poured on his face?

"It is way worse than I thought it would be, and that's no joke." He added: "Had I known that it was that bad I wouldn't have done this ... I don't want to say this: absolutely torture."


And remember: this was in a controlled setting where the victim knew he wasn't going to be harmed.

During a three-day trip to The Balkans and Middle East, Vice President Joe Biden greets Albanian youths on arrival to Pristina International Airport on May 21,2009.


Biden and Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri in Beirut, Lebanon, May 22, 2009.


Biden and EU Commissioner for Security and Defence, Javier Solana meet with members of Tripartite Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Sarajevo, on May 19, 2009.


Biden with Lebanese President Michel Sleiman at the presidential palace of Baabda east of Beirut on May 22, 2009.


Biden with Serbian President Boris Tadic in Belgrade, May 20, 2009.



Ethnic Albanians carry placards and US and Kosovo flags as they prepare to welcome US Vice President Joe Biden in Pristina on May 21, 2009.