TPM News

Talis Colberg, who was plucked from the obscurity of a small-town Alaska law practice by Sarah Palin to become the state's Attorney General, has resigned, reports the Anchorage Daily News.

Colberg, who had been a GOP assemblyman and Palin backer, was criticized during the Trooper-Gate scandal last fall for often appearing to represent the interests of his patron, the governor, rather than the Alaskan people. Although he himself had led an internal investigation designed to help Palin get out in front of Trooper-Gate, Colberg ultimately dismissed calls to recuse himself from any involvement in the matter. He then helped Palin stifle the probe into the matter by trying to block subpoenas, issued by the legislature, to state officials.

It's unclear as yet what prompted Colberg's move. He said in a statement:

I determined that it was in the best interest of the state of Alaska to move on and pursue other opportunities.

Something tells us there's more to this story...

We wondered last week what would become of the growing House GOP frustration over the White House's plans to direct oversight of the 2010 Census, rather than leave the process to Commerce Secretary nominee -- and Census skeptic -- Judd Gregg.

House Republicans, no matter how ready they are to cry foul over the politicization of the Census, need at least one Senate GOPer to raise the issue during Gregg's coming confirmation hearing. And it looks like they've found that senator.

Read More →

So Miguel Tejada, the shortstop for the Houston Astros, has been charged with lying to Congressional investigators about the use of steroids in baseball.

That news put us in mind of someone two other people who are suspected of lying to Congress, but so far, unlike Tejada, have escaped legal jeopardy. We refer, of course, to Alberto Gonzales and Bradley Schlozman.

A report released last July by the Justice Department's inspector general indicated that Gonzales may have lied to Congress about politicization at the department. And there have also been credible suggestions, including from Senate Judiciary chair Pat Leahy, that Gonzales perjured himself during his testimony on the US Attorneys firings scandal. A special prosecutor, Nora Dannehy, has been appointed to look into whether crimes were committed in connection with the firings, and the issue of Gonzales' possible perjury appears to be at the center of her probe. But as yet, Gonzales hasn't been charged (though he's certainly not in the clear).

As for Schlozman, a former top DOJ voting-rights official, another report by the department's IG, this one released last month, found that Schlozman lied to a Senate committee about his own role in politicizing hiring at the department. But the US Attorney's office for the District of Columbia declined to bring charges against Schlozman (a decision that Attorney General Eric Holder has said he will review.)

Meanwhile, Tejada is set to go before a DC judge tomorrow. And Roger Clemens is also under investigation for lying to Congress about steroids.

And consider this: Tejada isn't accused of lying about this own possible steroid use. Rather, prosecutors say he lied when he told Congressional investigators, during an interview in a Baltimore hotel room, that he didn't know about any other players using steroids. Gonzales and Schlozman, by contrast, are suspected of lying to conceal their own involvement in politicizing DOJ.

It's hard not to conclude that if federal investigators went after former DOJ officials as hard as they went after ball players, the world would be a better place.

One thing worth thinking about in the Senate's compromise bill is that one Senator is really putting his neck out here: Arlen Specter, who may be leaving himself wide open to a challenge in the Republican primary.

Unlike his fellow pro-stimulus Republicans Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, Specter is up for re-election in 2010. And there exists an active element in the party that is always eager to push him out the door, even if it meant endangering the GOP's hold on the seat -- in fact, Specter just barely survived a conservative primary challenge 51%-49% in 2004, when the Club For Growth threw its weight behind then-Congressman Pat Toomey.

I spoke today with Nachama Soloveichik, the Club's communications director, and she confirmed that they're hearing a lot of anger over the compromise. "Grassroots Republicans are infuriated. They're fed up. They've had it," Soloveichik said, even going so far as to add that for many, "this is the ultimate act of treason."

Read More →

Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) may be a freshman member of the Banking Committee, but his fellow GOPers trust his instincts when it comes to financial issues, particularly after the auto bailout debate. And Corker's not always the dyed-in-the-wool conservative that he resembles 23 out of 24 hours each day.

Which is why I sought out his response to this morning's financial rescue speech by Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner. Corker took pains to explain that he hopes to work productively with Geithner, whom he voted to confirm despite a lingering tax flap, before using the same word that Robert Reich did: vague.

Read More →

Yesterday, we told you about how Fred Barnes has learned that global warming isn't man made -- but won't tell us where he got this startling information.

But luckily, it looks like Dave Roberts of the environmental news site Grist knows the answer. Roberts writes:

Barnes gets his information on climate change the same place everyone in the right-wing media world gets it: from Marc Morano, the in-house blogger/agitator for Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.).

Apparently, Morano is the point man for the fringe movement of global warming deniers.
Morano's entire job is to aggregate every misleading factoid, every attack on climate science or scientists, every crank skeptical statement from anyone in the world and send it all out periodically in email blasts that get echoed throughout the right-wing blog world and eventually find their way into places like Fox News and the Weekly Standard. From there they go, via columnists like George Will and Charles Krauthammer, into mainstream outlets like Newsweek and the Washington Post.

That's where Barnes gets it. That's where Glenn Beck gets it, and Lou Dobbs, and Will, and Krauthammer, and all the rest of them.

We've written about Morano -- a former producer for the Rush Limbaugh show -- before. In November 2006, he attended a UN conference on global warming on Inhofe's behalf, prompting the senator to label the confab a "brain-washing session."

Thank God we've found Barnes' source! With any luck, Morano will be able to pass his findings on to policy-makers in time to make sure they don't do anything to address global warming, since it turns out to be all a big mistake. That was close though!

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy's (D-VT) call yesterday for an independent "truth and reconciliation commission" to investigate the abuses committed under the Bush administration is meeting with strong support from at least two of his panel's Democratic members.

Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) just released a statement hailing Leahy's "leadership" on the issue and stressing the need for accountability: "We cannot simply sweep these assaults on the rule of law under the rug." Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) was the first to weigh in with support for the idea yesterday.

But one key question remains unanswered: Will senators follow the lead of their House colleagues and actually offer a bill to set up an independent investigative panel to shed sunlight on the misdeeds of the Bush years, from interrogations to warrantless wiretapping?

As Whitehouse told me today, the answer may be no -- but here's why.

Read More →

The Senate has now passed the stimulus plan on a 61-37 vote, with all the Democrats and three Republicans -- Arlen Specter, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins -- joining together to pass a package weighing in at $838 billion.

This is not the end of the line, though. Next up, the bill goes to the House-Senate conference committee, where liberals will likely try to restore some of the larger spending increases that were trimmed back in the compromise Senate version, such as education, and to address the Senate package's relatively greater reliance on tax cuts over spending.

Then after that's over, the final version will come up for a whole new round of debate and voting in both chambers. That said, it seems like a safe bet that the stimulus will pass in some form, and that it will happen pretty soon.

The Minnesota election court has now taken some kind of meaningful action, handing down a ruling on a summary judgment motion that will now allow the counting of some -- but not all -- of a group of Franken-voters who filed a motion to have their rejected ballots counted. The ruling gives us some hints as to where things will go from here -- and it's not good news for Norm Coleman.

Out of over 60 voters who filed this motion, the court is ordering just 24 ballots to be counted at this time. The opinion lays out a pretty stringent standard for letting previously-rejected ballots in: It has to be demonstrated that the voter either fully complied with the relevant laws and procedures, and thus the rejection was wholly a clerical error, or that any actual non-compliance was credibly the fault of the election official.

An example of this second category would be if a voter pro-actively asked whether they were registered to vote, were told yes and provided an absentee ballot for a registered voter, but it turned out they really needed to re-register. This is a tough standard to meet, and will mean that the number of people who qualify for it will be a fairly limited number.

Read More →