TPM News

MINNEAPOLIS -- There will be no Weiner-style gatecrashing from Andrew Breitbart at the Netroots Nation conference here.

That is, unless Breitbart wants to pony up $355 for a ticket.

With the annual conservative Right Online conference just down the street from Netroots Nation, it was inevitable that some sort of shenanigan would occur in Minneapolis this week. And so it did, early Friday afternoon when Breitbart, camera crew in tow, showed up at Netroots unannounced and uncredentialed.

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Wisconsin Democrats have announced that they are withdrawing a counter-measure that they had launched against the fake "Democratic" candidates that were put forward by the state Republicans in order to force primaries in the upcoming recalls: Their own extra "placeholder" candidates, who were officially being filed in order to make sure all the primaries happened on one day.

This past weekend, the Dems announced that they would not run fake Republicans in order to force GOP primaries, as a labor-backed progressive group had urged, but would instead put in extra Democrats in addition to the official ones. The filing deadline was this past Tuesday, and extra Dems did indeed file in addition to the fake Democrats, but there still remain certain formalities in order to finalize the candidacies -- which the Dems are now declining to do.

Now, the Dems have announced that since fake Democrats had qualified in all six recall races targeting incumbent Republicans, thus ensuring that all the races will have primaries on July 12 and general elections on August 9, they are withdrawing their own superfluous Dems. "The goal of the placeholder candidacies was to create an insurance policy against further Republican attempts to exploit the recall election schedule through dirty tricks and cynical plots," said a press release from state Dem chair Mike Tate.

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An article in Friday's Wall Street Journal has Social Security advocates angry and scratching their heads. It suggests that AARP -- one of the most powerful interest groups in Washington -- has done an about face on the question of cutting retirement benefits for seniors as part of a grand bipartisan bargain on shoring up the programs finances.

The change in posture, agreed to by AARP's board, has already sent shock waves through the Beltway's large and influential entitlement reform community. It's prompted calls from lawmakers and centrist and conservative groups for Congress to seize the initiative and agree to cut benefits. It's mobilized Social Security's strongest advocates against AARP, and it's prompted AARP to initiate a partial walk back -- a statement calling the story "misleading, but reiterating that the group could support Social Security reforms if they don't cause future retirees too much pain.

"It has also been a long held position that any changes would be phased in slowly, over time, and would not affect any current or near term beneficiaries," says AARP CEO A. Barry Rand -- in other words, the group could support some cuts, so long as they only impact people many years away from retirement.

But conversations with insiders suggest the Journal story, while mostly on point, underplays a key part of the story. What AARP decided doesn't necessarily constitute a change in policy, but rather a major strategic decision to announce their acceptance of those cuts now, while the legislative zeitgeist is about "fiscal responsibility", instead of later.

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The fate of a much-anticipated bill legalizing same-sex marriage in New York remains uncertain, with the state Senate having yet to act on the measure as of early Friday afternoon.

No matter the result, a vote will mark the end of months of political positioning by Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) and legislative leaders, who have been working to secure enough support to pass the legislation.

The marriage-equality bill has considerably more momentum on its side than it did in 2009, when it passed the Assembly but fell in the Senate by a vote of 38 to 24.

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World Net Daily editor Joseph Farah plans to file a lawsuit against Esquire magazine next week over a satirical article alleging he was recalling a WND-published book questioning the legitimacy of President Barack Obama's birth certificate.

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In a partial walk-back of a story in Friday's Wall Street Journal, AARP says their position on Social Security hasn't changed -- and suggests that it has always been compatible with benefit cuts.

"Contrary to the misleading characterization in a recent media story, AARP has not changed its position on Social Security," reads a statement from the group's CEO A. Barry Rand. "It has also been a long held position that any changes would be phased in slowly, over time, and would not affect any current or near term beneficiaries."

In other words, benefit cuts of some kind could meet muster with AARP if they weren't too severe. We'll have a more thorough report about this controversy momentarily. Rand's full statement is below the fold.

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