TPM News

President Obama thinks Republicans will engage in a full battle over his Supreme Court nominee regardless of the person's ideological leanings, and in some ways "that realization is liberating for the president" to choose whomever he pleases, an administration official told TPMDC.

In comments that are at odds with the conventional wisdom about what Obama needs to do to make sure the Senate confirms his nominee to replace John Paul Stevens, a White House official involved in the confirmation process tells TPMDC that the President isn't taking a cautious approach to selecting a nominee. Despite having one less Democrat in the Senate than when Sonia Sotomayor was confirmed last year, the administration isn't limiting itself to reviewing only centrist candidates for the court vacancy, the official said.

"It doesn't matter who he chooses, there is going to be a big 'ol fight over it. So he doesn't have to get sidetracked by those sorts of concerns," the official told me. The GOP has attempted to obstruct "anything of consequence" put forth by the Obama administration since he took office, the official said. "The president is making this decision with a pretty clear view that whoever he chooses is going to provoke a strong reaction on the right," the official added.

The White House seems confident that because Democrats allowed votes on President George W. Bush's nominees, the 41 Senate Republicans won't stand in the way with the highly unusual judicial filibuster this year. After all, nine GOPers voted in favor of Sotomayor last summer in a relatively smooth fight for the president's first Supreme Court nominee. But this is a different year. Obama isn't just down one Democrat in the Senate, he's facing a frustrated electorate, a polarized nation and looming midterm elections that have Democrats from both chambers on the ropes.

Read More →

Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), one of the lead negotiators on financial reform, said this morning that claims that the financial reform bill are tough on Wall Street is "laughable."

"What regulation does is help the big guys and hurt the small guys," Corker said on Morning Joe. "This derivatives piece, it doesn't hurt Wall Street. You've gotta be kidding me."

"The fact is that it's the end users, it's those guys out there in Iowa, in Kansas, and it's our community bankers across the country that we need to be concerned about with this regulation," he said. "When this bill passes, the only thing that's gonna happen is the large firms that exist are gonna get larger."

Read More →

Democrats probably didn't expect to find themselves in this position: On the cusp of moving a big Wall Street reform bill to the Senate floor, with Republicans, as if immune from political pressure, banding together to block them. But they knew it could happen. Some even would have preferred this, relishing the optics of allowing the GOP to side with big, unpopular financial institutions.

So surely Democrats and their allies in key pressure groups have rehearsed a bold, unified response, in the event that the GOP follows through on their threat to block debate. Ads are in the can, talking points are drafted, and everyone's been prepped to argue before the world that the Republicans have allied themselves with the firms that wrecked the economy. Right?

Read More →

Appearing on the G. Gordon Liddy radio show today, the attorney for Lt. Col. Terrence Lakin, the Birther Army doctor who is said to be facing a court martial for refusing orders, suggested that if his client is court-martialled, he will use discovery to try to further the Birther crusade.

One week ago, the military announced that Lakin is under investigation after he refused to report for a second tour in Afghanistan. Lakin believes that President Obama may not be a natural-born citizen, and therefore that military orders are invalid.

Today, Lakin appeared on Liddy's show with his attorney, identified as Paul Jensen.

Read More →

Congress will not consider legislation to give the District of Columbia voting rights this year because the bill was clogged with "issues" such as gun ownership, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer announced this morning.

It's a breakdown of an issue critical to DC's 600,000 citizens in a Democratic-controlled Congress that seemed close to passing a compromise measure. A floor vote had been scheduled for this week.

"The price was too high," Hoyer said in his weekly briefing with reporters.

Read More →

An army of lobbyists and financial professionals is swarming into Washington D.C. this week to push against financial reform.

As The New Republic reports, "some two dozen executives from large corporations will be descending on Capitol Hill today to make the case against over-regulating derivatives." That push is being organized in part by the Chamber of Commerce. And The New York Times reports today that "more than 1,500 lobbyists, executives, bankers and others have made their way to the Senate committee that on Wednesday will take up legislation to rein in derivatives, the complex securities at the heart of the financial crisis, the billion-dollar bank bailouts and the fraud case filed last week against Goldman Sachs."

Read More →

As Gov. Charlie Crist appears to inch toward dropping out of the Florida GOP Senate primary to run as an independent, Marco Rubio's list of endorsers is growing by leaps and bounds. Here's the full list of Florida and national pols standing with Rubio now.

Read More →

Gov. Charlie Crist (R-FL) told the National Review that he will not drop out of the Florida Senate race, declaring: "damn right. I'm staying in this race."

Crist said that he would never run as a Democrat, but is "still undecided" about whether to continue running in the Republican primary -- in which he is trailing badly in the polls -- or to run as an independent. "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead," said Crist.

Read More →

Rep. Joe Sestak launched his first salvo in the Pennsylvania Democratic Senate primary air war this morning. In a 60-second spot running statewide, Sestak touts his bio as a Navy officer and his credentials as a Democrat.

Sestak has been struggling to catch up to Sen. Arlen Specter (D) in public polling, and the ad suggests Sestak's campaign thinks that's partially because Pennsylvania voters don't know him well enough in advance of the May 18 primary. Heavy on bio, the spot doesn't mention Specter -- or the myriad of negative attacks Sestak has leveled at him since the campaign got started.

The TPM Poll Average for the Sestak-Specter primary shows Specter in the lead by a margin of 45.0-29.8.

Read More →

The corporate lawyer who acted as the Justice Department's inside man at AIG is reportedly set to take the number two spot at DOJ.

James Cole, an attorney with Bryan Cave, was placed as a government monitor inside AIG -- reporting back to DOJ and SEC -- as part of a 2004 deferred prosecution agreement after AIG had been charged with helping a client, PNC Bank, avoid taxes. AIG also paid an $80 million fine as part of that deal.

Read More →