TPM News

The Obama Justice Department has decided that part of the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional and will not defend the 1996 law forbidding the government from recognizing same-sex marriage in federal court.

"After careful consideration, including a review of my recommendation, the President has concluded that given a number of factors, including a documented history of discrimination, classifications based on sexual orientation should be subject to a more heightened standard of scrutiny," Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement.

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Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's office has confirmed that it fell for a prank call from a liberal blogger who was apparently posing as David Koch. A blogger at posted audio of a call he claimed was with Walker earlier on Wednesday. At time of writing, appears to be down.

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This week, a Mother Jones editor named Adam Weinstein got into a Twitter tête à tête with an Indiana lawyer who called on riot police in Madison to use "live ammunition" to clear protesters out of the state Capitol.

It turned out that lawyer, Jeff Cox, is a deputy attorney general in the state. And -- perhaps unsurprisingly -- he's left a long online trail of controversial statements and diktats.

"[A]gainst thugs physically threatening legally-elected state legislators & governor?" he tweeted back at Weinstein. "You're damn right I advocate deadly force."

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While most of the attention over the last few weeks has been on the parts of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's budget bill that would strip most state workers of their collective bargaining rights, some have started to sound the alarm about another provision in the bill, one allowing the state to sell the power plants it owns.

A blogger at Daily Kos calls it "The Koch Brothers' End Game in Wisconsin." A blogger at, who appears to have been the first to call attention to the provision, calls it "a highlight reel of all of the high-flying slam dunks of neo-Gilded Age corporatism: privatization, no-bid contracts, deregulation, and naked cronyism." The local NBC affiliate in Milwaukee says the "budget bill could payoff big for one of Governor Walker's biggest campaign contributors."

So is there really a hidden bonanza for the Koch brothers and other energy companies tucked into this bill? People with knowledge of Wisconsin's energy issues contacted by TPM say not so much.

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The controversial "right to work" bill the Indiana House Democratic caucus wanted killed when it fled the state on Tuesday is dead. But the self-imposed Democratic exile lives on.

After Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) urged the Republican majority in the House to drop the bill that led Democrats to pack up and leave the state, Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma (R) obliged, saying Tuesday night that the bill -- which died thanks to the lack of a quorum prompted by the Democratic absence -- would not be placed back on the legislative agenda.

But that hasn't brought the Democrats back to Indiana. Thanks to the rules of the Indiana Legislature, Democrats say they can kill a slew of other bills they don't like just by staying away. And it sounds like they intend to do just that.

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The honeymoon is over for President Obama, as a Gallup poll released this morning shows that his approval rating fell in all 50 states over his second year in office when compared to the first one. Yet a closer look at the results reveals that Obama isn't really in such a dire position as that statistic alone makes it seem.

Yes, Obama's average approval rating was lower in every state last year than it was the year before. But that mainly reflects his approval rating having leveled off after the post-inaugural highs he enjoyed at the start of 2009.

At the time of his inauguration, Obama boasted a sparkling 66% approval rating nationwide, according to Gallup. Almost without exception, Gallup has found presidential approval ratings dipping after an inauguration, as presidents moved from campaigning to governing. Soon after his inauguration, Ronald Reagan's approval shot up to nearly 70%; at the end of year two, it was hovering around 40%.

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