TPM News

Something has clearly happened to the Wisconsin Supreme Court. With many contentious 4-3 rulings, and a conservative majority and liberal minority that openly castigate each other in their opinions -- and now an alleged physical altercation among two justices -- how has the top of Wisconsin's judicial branch become so politically divided as to possibly lead to physical confrontation?

TPM reached out to several former clerks at the court to get a sense of things on the inside. One former clerk who was willing to speak with us, who had served with one of the liberal justices, said that when the judges would discuss their decisions in a closed-door conference room, loud arguments -- including shouting by Prosser -- could be heard from outside the door. With that said, the source said that matters have escalated over the past decade, as the line-up of the court has changed through the addition of strongly conservative members in contested elections.

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It almost goes without saying that if the United States doesn't raise its debt limit and, thus, fails to make an interest payment on the world's supposedly safest investment -- its own Treasuries -- then the value of that investment will plummet.

Standard & Poors made it official Wednesday by declaring that any Treasury maturing on August 4, that the government fails to honor, will be given a D-rating.

As , the country's biggest credit ratings agencies, including S&P will downgrade the country's triple-A credit rating if it defaults, even briefly, on any of its obligations. S&P in particular told TPM that the U.S. rating would drop to "Selective Default."

This revelation,
reported by Reuters, created a bit of confusion, and led some to conclude that the credit rating for the entire country would be given a big fat "D."

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Your average meeting of the Federal Election Commission is lucky to attract one reporter - usually Ken Doyle, the senior editor of the trade publication BNA's Money & Politics Report. "I've been there many times when he and I were the only people in the audience," campaign finance lawyer Brett Kappel told TPM.

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Presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann (R-MN) is pushing back against charges of hypocrisy over Medicaid payments her husband collected for his therapy practice.

Bachmann's husband, Marcus, runs a Christian counseling agency that has come under scrutiny in the past for its strong religious ties. The Los Angeles Times noted this week that it had received about $30,000 in public funds since 2007, partly federal, to help prepare staff to properly deal with mentally ill patients. On Tuesday, NBC revealed an additional $137,000 in Medicaid payments since 2005, which they said contradicted Rep. Bachmann's claim that her husband only received a training grant that went to employees.

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Boeing Co. raked in millions of dollars from the U.S. Army by marking up spare helicopter parts as much as 177,000 percent, according to a Defense inspector general report first obtained by the Project on Government Oversight.

Boeing, a major defense contractor, overcharged the Army on 18 different parts and collected $23 million dollars instead of the $10 million it should have received in fiscal year 2010. One part, a straight pin that usually valued at $0.04, was sold to the Army for an astronomical $74.01 per unit. A plain stud used on Apache helicopters fetched $3,369.48, even though it usually retails for $190.00 a piece - a 1,673 percent markup.

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