TPM News

In the latest development in Wisconsin, after the passage of Republican Gov. Scott Walker's new law curtailing public employee unions, state Democrats claim that they have reached 45% of their goal for petition signatures to recall eight Republican state Senators, Greg Sargent reports.

In the wake of last week's action by the state GOP leaders to pass the bill, Democrats have pledged to quickly recall the Republican members of the state Senate who are eligible, under the state law requiring at least one year of a term to be have been completed, and then to go after Walker next year.

A recall requires collecting signatures equal to at least 25 percent of the total votes in the previous gubernatorial election within the given district -- a high bar. But Democrats claim they're already almost halfway to their goal, which involves both that 25% number plus an unspecified cushion against bad signatures, after only about two weeks of circulating petitions.

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Reacting to a recent statements from conservative Republicans, who say they will oppose all stop-gap efforts to avoid government shutdowns, the Democrats' point man on messaging and policy says Tea Party-backed Republicans would rather trigger a crisis than compromise on domestic discretionary spending cuts.

In a statement sent my way, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is now urging House Speaker John Boehner to dismiss the conservatives in his party, and forge a compromise with moderate Republicans and Democrats on a long-term spending package.

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by John Sullivan, Special to ProPublica

As engineers in Japan struggle to bring quake-damaged reactors under control, attention is turning to U.S. nuclear plants and their ability to withstand natural disasters.

Rep. Ed Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat who has spent years pushing the Nuclear Regulatory Commission toward stricter enforcement of its safety rules, has called for a reassessment. Several U.S. reactors lie on or near fault lines, and Markey wants to beef up standards for new and existing plants.

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As they've watched him take on the collective bargaining rights of union workers in Ohio, voters in the state have given Gov. John Kasich's (R) first months in office the lowest rating of any Buckeye State governor in a long time.

A bit of background: Kasich won a squeaker of a race over incumbent Gov. Ted Strickland (D) back in November. The final result was 49% to 47%. Kasich pulled off the win thanks to the support of independents, which Strickland had won with 69% support in 2006. Last November, independents broke for Kaisich 52%-39%.

Now, it seems many of these supporters are less than thrilled. A new poll of Ohio adults from the University of Cincinnati finds just 40% of respondents approving of the job Kasich has done since January when he was sworn in. Forty-seven percent say they disapprove.

Among independents the split is even worse for Kasich.

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The Democratic National Committee is responding to online reports that DNC chairman Tim Kaine said he would run for Senate in Virginia, where he was previously governor and where Dem Sen. Jim Webb is retiring -- saying instead that it is "already widely known" that Kaine is "increasingly likely" to make the race.

Earlier on Monday, Larry Sabato tweeted that Kaine had told a class at the University of Richmond, where he teaches a class on law and leadership, that he would run for Senate.

"In response to a student's question, Governor Kaine told his law school class today what is already widely known which is that he is increasingly likely to run," said DNC communications director Brad Woodhouse, in a statement.

"However, no final decision will be made or announced until the governor has had a final round of consultations with folks about how he can best serve the President, the people and the causes he cares about; he is assured that the Democratic Party will be in good hands should he choose to make the race and leave the DNC; he has the support that would be necessary to mount a successful campaign and he completes commitments for travel and fundraising he has made to the Party and the President through at least the end of the month."

Faced with a situation they don't really know anything about (i.e. nuclear meltdowns) all the cable nets are doing a pretty good job of packing their lineups with nuclear physicists, engineers and others who know how to explain it. This stands in stark contrast to how they handle other situations they don't really know anything about, such as turmoil in the arab world, and so on.

Barring an unexpected turn of events, Congress will avoid a government shutdown again this week, by passing stopgap legislation to keep the government funded for another three weeks. But patience is wearing thin across Washington -- in the Republican and Democratic conferences on the Hill, and at the White House, where officials are frustrated about having to run the government on piecemeal, inefficient budgets.

The House will vote Tuesday on yet another "continuing resolution," which cuts several billion more in spending from the government's current operating budget. It will likely pass both the House and the Senate, but it's not clear they'll be able to pass another, if they don't bridge the budget impasse by early April.

"We may not be able to fully resolve this and meet next week's deadline for the continuing resolution, which means that there may be potentially one more short-term extension," President Obama said at a Friday press conference. "[W]e can't keep on running the government based on two-week extensions."

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Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), a stalwart of the House's progressive wing and the self-proclaimed Dean of the Congressional Black Caucus, told reporters Monday that President Obama should be thanking his lucky stars the Republicans can't seem to rustle up someone credible to take him on.

Pointing to the numerous ways Obama has disappointed his wing of the Democratic party since taking office, Conyers suggested Obama might have a hard time of it in 2012 if the Republicans came up with someone suitable.

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After reviewing widely circulated claims that James O'Keefe misled viewers in his sting operation on NPR, a spokeswoman for the news organization condemned the "inappropriately edited" video yesterday. Nonetheless, NPR maintains that the executive caught on tape, Ron Schiller, still behaved inappropriately.

In an interview with NPR's own media reporter David Folkenflik, NPR spokeswoman Dana Davis Rehm said that O'Keefe's Project Veritas "inappropriately edited the videos with an intent to discredit" the news organization. But she said that Schiller still made "egregious statements."

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CNBC host Larry Kudlow apologized Friday for a startling remark made after the devastating earthquake in Japan.

"The human toll here looks to be much worse than the economic toll, and we can be grateful for that," Kudlow said.

Kudlow tweeted his apology later on Friday:

I did not mean to say human toll in Japan less important than economic toll. Talking about markets. I flubbed the line. Sincere apology.

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