TPM News

The gunshots heard near the site of a proposed mosque near Murfreesboro, Tenn., were probably the result of hunters taking advantage of the start of squirrel hunting season, a spokesman for the Rutherford County Sheriff's Office tells TPM.

Detective Sgt. Dan Goodwin said that no police report was filed after someone reported hearing nine gunshots at the site the day after construction equipment was found torched at the site.

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Joe Miller's lawyers are asking for state troopers to be stationed at Alaska elections offices, charging that there are serious shenanigans afoot involving improper shredding and that Sen. Lisa Murkowski's observers of the ballot-counting brought an illegal iPhone into the room.

Those are just two allegations in a new letter from Miller's attorneys to Lt. Gov. Craig Campbell and state elections officials that detail serious concerns and will make the sustained vote counting all the more interesting.

The Tea Party Express group, which spent more than $500,000 in a last-minute effort to put Miller over the top in a primary to unseat Murkowski, is emailing supporters a copy of the letter with the ominous subject line: "Irregularities Arise in Alaska Vote Count - URGENT!"

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Gallup is reporting that the GOP lead in congressional generic polling is now 10 points -- the largest lead for the party in the storied polling firm's history. The poll asks respondents which party they would prefer to see in control of Congress. Republicans now lead Gallup's generic ballot 51-41.

Gallup attributes the double-digit Republican lead in its latest polling to the massive GOP advantage in voter enthusiasm, a story we've been talking about all year. The newest Gallup numbers show Republicans with a staggering 25% advantage in voter enthusiasm. What does that mean in real terms? "Republicans are now twice as likely as Democrats to be 'very' enthusiastic about voting," the pollster writes.

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Democratic nominee Jack Conway has a new ad in the Kentucky Senate race, touting the support of the state Fraternal Order of Police -- and declaring that he's "darn good" at his job as state Attorney General.

"Jack Conway is the chief law enforcement officer for Kentucky and a darn good one," says Calloway County Sheriff Bill Marcum. Notably, the ad also points to Conway's record in a major drug bust in the state, which nabbed 518 people. As the Conway camp's press release says: "Conway's record stands in stark contrast to that of opponent Rand Paul, who has come under fire for saying illegal drugs aren't a 'real pressing issue' in Kentucky."

'Darn good.' That's a heck of a step down from his previous tagline at the Fancy Farm Picnic in 2009, "I'm one tough son of a bitch." Is this what they call repositioning for the general election?

The TPM Poll Average gives Republican nominee Rand Paul a lead of 45.4%-41.0%.

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The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has a new TV ad against Sean Duffy, the Republican candidate for the seat held by the retiring senior Rep. David Obey (D-WI), hammering him for backing Social Security privatization -- a connection made through his apparent statement of support for the policies of Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI).

"Privatizing would cut the guaranteed benefit, and gamble seniors' retirement on the stock market," the announcer says. "Remember the crash? Families could have lost nearly 40 percent of their retirement benefits -- 40 percent."

The DCCC bases the claim that Duffy supports privatization not on a direct statement of his on the specific subject, but instead on his having stated his support for the budget roadmap offered by Ryan, which was obtained on a tracker video. And in turn, Ryan's blueprint involves Social Security privatization.

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Republican pollster Dick Morris told conservative political activists that newly elected Republicans should shut down the government next year. Morris said the party must elect lawmakers who will stand up and say "No" to President Obama's requests for more government spending and predicted a repeat of how Republicans forced a shutdown under President Clinton after they won control of Congress.

"There's going to be a government shutdown, just like in '95 and '96 but we're going to win it this time and I'll be fightin' on your side," Morris said at the Americans for Prosperity Foundation Conference on Friday in Washington.

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Progressive activists have one more reason to be dissatisfied with the White House. A growing coalition of groups, along with members of Congress and Congressional hopefuls, have called in recent days for Social Security foe Alan Simpson to be fired from the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. Today, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said it's not gonna happen.

"Senator Simpson sent an email that he's now apologized for," Gibbs said at the daily White House press briefing today. "We regret that he sent that email. We don't condone those comments. But Senator Simpson has and will continue to serve on the commission."

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Bundesbank's Thilo Sarrazin is one of the most unabashedly racist people we've encountered.

And yet, despite the many accounts of his irrational prejudice (like in October, when he said that Turks were "conquering Germany in exactly  the same way the Kosovars conquered Kosovo: with a higher birth rate." And that "A  large number of Arabs and Turks in this city (Berlin) ... have no  productive function other than selling fruit and vegetables."), Bundesbank, the German central bank, has allowed Sarrazin to remain on the board.

His remarks have outraged the public before but are now making international news because he just published an book, Deutschland schafft sich ab, or "Germany Is Self-Destructing," about immigrants - particularly Muslim immigrants - causing Germany's decline.

One of the problems - more below - with Bundesbank allowing him to  remain on their board is that he's using his perceived role as an  intelligent "math" man on the board of the German Central Bank to give  his arguments clout.
He believes things like this:

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi allegedly pulled strings to help a major Democratic donor, Fred Baron, get access to an experimental drug after the manufacturer refused to give permission to use the drug to treat his bone marrow cancer. Though it wasn't public at the time, Baron was simultaneously bankrolling the relocation of John Edwards' pregnant mistress, Rielle Hunter.

Fred Baron, known as the "King of Toxic Torts," built a fortune suing on behalf of asbestos victims, and died shortly before Election Day 2008 at age 61. He served as financial chief for John Edwards and it later came out that he'd been funneling money to Hunter. At the time Pelosi intervened, his role in bankrolling Hunter and her daughter with Edwards was unknown.

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Local and federal authorities are investigating a fire at the construction site of an Islamic community center and mosque in Murfreesboro, Tenn., this weekend, as well as reports of gunshots as community members gathered at the site.

The fire, which damaged a large piece of construction equipment, was discovered early Saturday morning. The local sheriff's office, the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Bureau and the FBI are investigating.

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