TPM News

A mysterious corporate donor to a Super PAC supporting Mitt Romney has already drawn the full attention of campaign finance watchdogs, who suspect the barely-existent firm, W Spann LLC, was created to conceal the origins of a giant $1 million contribution. Now Romney's political opponents are taking notice as well.

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New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie just picked up an unlikely ally for a prominent Republican politician these days: the Council on American-Islamic Relation, better known as CAIR.

The group's Garden State branch sent a shout-out to Christie after a video made the rounds showing the governor defending one of his nominees for the state bench against allegation that his Muslim faith meant he'd bring sharia into the legal system.

"Governor Christie's praise highlights the commitment of American Muslims to building a better society," CAIR-NJ Executive Director James Yee said in a statement. "We hope the governor's comments will help stem the rising tide of Islamophobia in our society and help unify our nation."

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Michele Bachmann has joined the ranks of Republicans attacking President Obama for celebrating his birthday on Thursday, which coincided with the 512-point mega-drop in the Dow Jones stock index. And as Bachmann said, she would not "celebrate" the news as she accused Obama of doing -- she would have canceled the barbecue.

"The birthday present he got was huge drop of 512 points in the market and not only that, what was the president's response? He threw a barbecue last night at the White House to celebrate," Bachmann told an Iowa crowd, the Des Moines Register reports.

She added: "One thing I will guarantee you, President Bachmann will be canceling barbecues if we see the market go down and if we see the jobs report going down."

But wait a second: Wouldn't that sort of abrupt reduction in consumer spending result in layoffs of catering employees? That's not the kind of bold move that the ratings agencies are looking for.

An ABC News report suggests U.S. officials are prepping for the credit rating agency S&P to downgrade the country's AAA bond rating to either AA or AA+. This would be a slight reduction stemming from the Congressional circus over the debt limit fight.

According to the initial report, S&P sees the GOP's intransigence on taxes as a reason to suspect the country will not be likely to reduce deficits in the years ahead, and Republicans are already trying to get out from under the blame.

"Dear Mr. Obama, while you blame the GOP for the downgrade, your party controlled all of Washington for two years & extended the Bush cuts," tweeted Red State founder Erick Erickson.

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By Nikki Gordon-Bloomfield

In the past year, we've put the 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid through an extensive set of test-drives, resulting in our first drive report, winter test-drive, financial analysis and even a family vacation.

With so many miles behind the wheel, our editorial team has already shared our five things we love about Toyota's first plug-in hybrid.

But now it's time to share the things we're not so fond of - its limited EV range: the way the charger heats up the cabin; the lack of charge timer; lost luggage space; and lackluster performance.

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A fight is brewing on the right, between anti-tax zealots and big military types over who takes the next hit in the continuing fight over deficits. The prospect excites progressives, who see a rare opportunity to force the GOP to slaughter one of their sacred cows, and rip the party apart in the process.

But the left is poised for a similar internal battle.

The tensions on both sides of the aisle were set in motion by the debt deal, which created a powerful, bipartisan deficit committee tasked with finding over $1 trillion in savings over the next 10 years. If it gridlocks, though, it will trigger automatic spending cuts, including about half a billion dollars from defense.

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The House Ethics Committee has cleared Rep. Greg Meeks (D-NY) of charges that he took out an inappropriate loan he received from a businessman but is still investigating whether he disclosed it properly.

Likewise, the panel exonerated Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-OH) of any wrongdoing in accepting $500,000 in legal services from the Turkish American Legal Defense Fund, a Turkish-American interest group, even though they found them to be improper gifts under House rules and are demanding she repay the attorneys. The committee also decided against pursuing an investigation into Rep. Luis Guiterrez' July 26 arrest during a immigration protest in front of the White House. Guiterrez paid a $100 fine for failing to obey a lawful order of a policeman.

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The US government, in between hours spent squabbling over the price of a cheese sandwich, has ordered a bunch of refurbished M88A2 HERCULES ARVs, also known as tanks that tow other tanks -- and other big stuff too.
Based on the previous-generation M60 Patton tank, the M88 HERCULES (Heavy Equipment Recovery Combat Utility Life Evacuation System) is a tracked armored recovery vehicle with the power and equipment to pull any U.S. armed forces vehicle out of trouble -- and that includes the 70-ton M1 Abrams battle tank. It even carries a hoist and boom with a 35-ton capacity, for engine swaps in the field. The upgraded M88A2 went into production in 1994.

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FOX Nation drew some howls of derision for referring to President Obama's birthday bash as a "Hip Hop BBQ" on its website, complete with a picture of Jay-Z, Chris Rock, and Charles Barkley for emphasis. To commemorate the occasion, TPM started #HipHopBBQActs to suggest some grill-themed performers and Twitter users quickly generated thousands of ideas. Here are some of the best.

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