TPM News

Democratic Senate candidate Joe Manchin has an amazing set of new Web videos in the West Virginia Senate race -- possibly the best Web-based campaign spots of the whole cycle. Remember that fun moment when Republican nominee John Raese said that the country needs "1,000 laser systems put in the sky, and we need it right now," and said it would only cost $20 billion? Well, now Manchin's campaign is connecting that to Raese's other positions -- and also to the Death Star and those white-armored storm troopers.

"We need 1,000 laser systems put int he sky, and we need it right now," Raese is shown saying in the video clip.

Then in comes that John Williams Darth Vader theme music, images of people in storm trooper costumes on parade, and laser beams from the sky wiping out a public school, clean drinking water and a Social Security card. The final image: John Raese's head on a storm trooper body, with laser beams raining down upon Earth in the background.

"John Raese's ideas aren't just crazy -- they're downright dangerous," the announcer says.

And there are more, too.

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In a new web video just out from the Kentucky Democratic Party, the stomping of a activist by a county coordinator for Republican Rand Paul's Senate campaign is turned into a metaphor (in no particular order) for ending federal breast cancer research, the elimination of mine safety laws, an end to the 1964 Civil Rights Act and a $2,000 boost in the Medicare deductible, among other things.

"Rand Paul: Stomping on you," the video reads. "Stomping on Kentucky."

It seems Democrats have decided to politicize the allegedly criminal assault of activist Lauren Valle.

Paul has, of course, made it fairly easy for Democrats to turn the jarring video of Valle's head getting stomped by Tim Profitt outside a Lexington debate Monday into their closing argument in the Senate race. Paul was slow to condemn the attack -- though he "dissociated" himself from Profitt soon after the event -- and has decided to keep the nearly $2,000 Profitt donated to his campaign.

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Michelle Malkin told Sean Hannity last night that the New York Times and National Public Radio are doing anything they can to "downplay and pooh-pooh" reports of voter fraud around the country.

Malkin was referring to a New York Times story this week that pointed out that while "many states have voter registration records riddled with names of dead people, out-of-date addresses and other erroneous information, there is little evidence that such errors lead to fraudulent votes, many experts note." NPR reported that experts think concerns about fraudulent votes are overblown, but that "the issue has become a political flash point, especially in tight elections."

"Also, not a shock, Sean, is the fact that the whitewashers at the New York Times and government subsidized National Public Radio are doing everything they can to downplay and pooh-pooh any of these reports that are cropping up all across the country," Malkin said. "They'd like to bury their heads in the sand."

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The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has ended an investigation into Google's collection of data from unsecured Wi-Fi networks, accepting the company's explanation that it didn't mean to snoop.

Privacy advocates had a minor freakout last summer when Google admitted that some of its Street View vehicles, which drive around cities taking pictures for the Google Maps Street View feature, were collecting data about Wi-Fi access points in hopes of improving the accuracy of the service. In the process, Google claims it "inadvertently" picked up some data traveling over unsecured Wi-Fi networks.

In a letter sent to Google yesterday (PDF here), the FTC said that it was concerned that Google's internal processes lacked the kind of safeguards that would let it compromise privacy in this way. But the FTC accepted that Google is taking steps to remedy the situation, including appointing a director of privacy and adding privacy training for certain employees.

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Jon Runyan, the former pro football player and now Republican candidate for the House against freshman Rep. John Adler (D-NJ), had a fun exchange at a debate Tuesday night. He says members of Congress should read all the bills they pass; he wants to fully repeal the health care reform bill; and, it turns out, he hasn't read the health care bill.

Adler shot this at his Republican opponent: "Respectfully Jon, I'm not sure you've ever read one bill in Congress ever, not one."

"Well I'm not in Congress," Runyan responded.

Runyan went on to explain further: "I've read several bills. If you're gonna pass a piece of legislation, you should be able to walk out on the street and hand it to the first person you see. They should be able to read and understand that."

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The owner of the bank used by American Crossroads also owns a nursing home that has been charged -- by Kentucky Attorney General and Senate candidate Jack Conway -- with failure to report the sexual abuse of one of its patients.

The Karl Rove-backed super PAC American Crossroads, as the Washington Post noted today, uses a small Kentucky bank for its financial dealings. Forcht Bank, based in Lexington, Ky., is owned by Terry Forcht, who also owns several other businesses, including a chain of nursing homes.

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