TPM News

In the days after Hurricane Katrina, an order reportedly came down through the New Orleans Police Department for officers to shoot looters.

According to a joint investigation by ProPublica, the New Orleans Times-Picayune and PBS Frontline*, some officers report being told they could shoot looters in order to "take back the city."

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New Louisiana polling data to be released later today shows David Vitter maintaining a double digit lead over his likely rival, Rep. Charlie Melancon, and benefiting from the fact that the electorate there remains largely in the dark about his scandals.

Public Policy Polling surveyed 403 likely voters from August 21-22 and found that, in a two way race, 41 percent now say they'd vote for Melancon, 51 would choose Vitter, and 8 percent remain undecided. The latest TPM PollTracker average gives Vitter a nearly 13 point margin over Melancon. In June, PPP found Vitter ahead 46-37. As of now there are multiple third party candidates in the race. The winner must receive a plurality of the votes.

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In the last weeks before the 2008 elections, an organization called the Clarion Fund spent some $16 million to reprint and distribute 28 million copies of their 2005 film about radical Islam and terrorist groups. "Obsession" was inserted into newspapers -- and packaged with scary photos of scarf-clad men -- in swing states.

That move, funded by a single anonymous donor, may still be echoing in 2010's protests about the Cordoba House and other mosques around the country.

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A lawyer representing controversial Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio met with lawyers at the Justice Department on Tuesday to discuss the government's request for documents as part of their inquiry into whether Arpaio's immigration enforcement is discriminatory.

In early August, DOJ sent a letter to Arpaio's attorneys which established a deadline for his office to voluntarily turn over documents. The letter said the Justice Department would sue if Arpaio did not cooperate.

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The third-ranking Republican in the House agrees with Minority Leader John Boehner that President Obama's economic team should resign. "I join Republican Leader John Boehner in calling for the resignations of Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Director of the White House National Economic Council Larry Summers," reads a statement from Republican Conference Chair Mike Pence.

This isn't surprising in and of itself. It's an all-win, headline-grabbing move for the Republicans, particularly knowing, as they did, that the White House would tell them to buzz off. It's age-old politics for the opposition party -- Republican or Democrat -- to call for executive branch resignations, and on that level, this is nothing new.

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Political prognosticators were surprised to wake up this morning and see Joe Miller holding a narrow lead of less than 3,000 votes over Sen. Lisa Murkowski in Alaska's Republican primary.

Unofficial returns as of this morning -- with 84.2 percent of precincts reporting -- showed Miller leading with 45,188 votes to Murkowski's 42,633 votes. That's Miller 51.5%-Murkowski 48.6%. What's more, the votes outstanding are from rural areas and 8,400 so-far-unreturned absentee ballots, so the final result won't be known for at least a week and might be undetermined until Sept. 8.

Whichever Republican wins, conventional wisdom takes a hit. As we reported, broad consensus both in Washington and Alaska was that Murkowski would win by a wide margin. If the senator pulls it off, it will be very close. There were few public polls, and they all showed Murkowski in the lead.

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Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), the Republican Party's nominee for president in 2008, has won his nomination for another term in the Senate by a landslide, against the right-wing challenge from former Rep. J.D. Hayworth.

With 11% of precincts reporting, McCain leads by 59%-30%, and has been projected as the winner by the Associated Press.

As we noted this morning, McCain was heavily favored to win going into today. To his credit, McCain recognized early on that there was a restive environment among the GOP base, shifted to the right, and refocused himself to not lose that crowd to the anti-illegal immigration champion Hayworth -- and he also outspent Hayworth by a ratio of about 10-1.

In addition, Hayworth's efforts to harness the anti-government spending Tea Party vote were heavily damaged by the fact that he appeared three years ago in an infomercial for a company offering shady seminars on how to receive "free money" from the government. Hayworth's initial handling of the story, amazingly, was to quote the Latin proverb caveat emptor ("buyer beware"). He then apologized for the infomercial, but the damage was done in his efforts to present himself as an anti-government spending Tea Partier.

McCain is heavily favored to win re-election against Democratic former Tucson Councilman Rodney Glassman. The TPM Poll Average for that matchup shows McCain leading 52.3-29.3.

Full coverage of the race here.

Only in America: $50 million dollars of his personal fortune later, Rick Scott is the Republican gubernatorial nominee in Florida, the AP projects. Though Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum spoke moments ago and did not concede, with 90% of precincts reporting, Scott leads McCollum 47-43, and the AP and CNN have called the race.

This is how he did it. Starting as virtually a complete unknown, Scott blitzed Florida with TV ads ripping McCollum as an establishment sell-out. McCollum, caught off-guard and underfunded, tried desperately to battle back from the onslaught, emptying his campaign coffers and calling in public support from establishment leaders.

The mainstream Republican party had a reason to fear Scott. He carries with him the baggage of the $1.7 billion in federal fines leveled against his company, Columbia HCA, for Medicare fraud. Plus he's extremely conservative, which could be a tough sell in a general election fight.

But in the end, all the establishment's horses and all of its men couldn't put McCollum together again. His campaign -- never all that exciting in the best of circumstances -- simply couldn't raise the support needed to push McCollum past Scott's big money and conservative message.

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Just when everyone thought he was out, Rep. Kendrick Meek pulled himself back in. After a brutal and expensive surprise primary challenge from billionaire investor Jeff Greene, the AP is reporting that Meek has won the prize he thought he had in his grasp months ago: the Democratic nomination for Senate in Florida.

With 38% of precincts reporting, Meek is leading Greene 55-32. Also-ran former Miami Mayor Maurice Ferre has 6% of the vote. Meek is now set to take the stage in a general election fight where, essentially, two men are vying for the Democratic vote -- Meek and Gov. Charlie Crist, who has run hard for Democratic support since abandoning the GOP primary against Marco Rubio.

Before we turn our attention to uphill climb Meek now faces against Crist and Rubio, we should take a moment to note the uphill climb he just completed. Meek was all but written off after Greene's barrage of negative advertising left the relatively unknown Meek down in the polls. But Meek battled back, taking on Greene with tough rhetoric in debates and pulling in help from powerful friends like President Clinton and President Obama. He ran negative ads of his own and likely was overjoyed as media attention quickly deflated the regular-guy image the flamboyant Greene tried to create for himself. Just as he did early in the primary cycle -- when his fundraising prowess cleared the field early -- Meek has shown that he is ready and willing to fight for the nomination.

Unfortunately for him, Meek just got what he's been wishing for.

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New York Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Lazio has been focusing a lot of his campaign's attention on opposing the proposed Cordoba House Islamic center near Ground Zero, and today on Hardball, Chris Matthews took him to task for playing politics with the controversy. Matthews asked Lazio how he responds to those who say the focus "has a lot to do with the fact that you're down 30 points in what looks to be your upcoming general election fight with Andrew Cuomo for governor."

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