TPM News

RNC Chair Michael Steele and Ex-Dem Rep. and potential NY-Sen candidate Harold Ford Jr. will share the stage Thursday evening at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock to "discuss America's future direction."

The event, dubbed "Left, Right, and Forward: On the Future of America" will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday night. According to the school, "the discussion by the two African-American political combatants kicks off UALR's annual Black History Month program."

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Carly Fiorina, the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard who is running for Senate from California, released a web video today claiming her Republican primary opponent, former Rep. Tom Campbell, is a "fiscal conservative in name only."

In other words, a wolf in sheep's clothing.

The video begins with a pastoral scene of sheep grazing and the pleasant voice of a female narrator describing fiscal conservatives as people "we admire."

Then, one of the sheep -- the Campbell sheep -- rises on a pedestal. The sky turns dark. Lightning strikes. The music becomes ominous. Campbell Sheep falls, tumbling from the pedestal as a deep male voice says, "But one way to fall."

The video then bashes Campbell on deficits, budgets, tax increases and the like. But it returns to the sheep pasture for the climax. Just watch extra closely at the 2:26 mark. And then at 2:38. There are no words:

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It's hard to blame people for tuning out the periodic reports of bailed out financial firms still paying huge bonuses to their staff. After all, there's only so much outrage a person can summon over the long haul.

But here's one that's worth a fresh round: AIG, the bailed-out insurance behemoth whose lavish "retention payments" triggered the first round of fury last year, plans more payments this month, worth $100 million, reports the Washington Post. And this week, the employees scheduled to cash in are from the firm's financial products division. That's the unit whose dodgy credit default swaps triggered the billion dollar losses that led to the financial crisis, and subsequent bailout, in the first place.

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House Republican leaders are calling on their supporters to send money after last week's extraordinary Q&A session with President Obama. Their recollection of the meeting, as described in the fundraising letters? We stuck it to Obama, so give us some money.

In a fundraising email sent out to the NRCC list today, House Minority Leader John Boehner argued the GOP came out on top in the session "[Obama] finally acknowledged that we'd been offering solutions -- Democrats just haven't listened," Boehner wrote. "You see, we're not just fighting to put the brakes on their jobs-killing agenda - we're showing what a new Republican-led Congress would do differently."

Reports today indicate that Boehner's not the only Republican to see the Q&A as a fundraising opportunity. Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) -- the man whose take on the budget Obama called "factually inaccurate" during the session -- said his performance at the Q&A merits some campaign donations, too.

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Sen.-elect Scott Brown (R-MA) sent a letter today to the Massachusetts governor and secretary of state, demanding the election be certified right away so he can be sworn in to the U.S. Senate tomorrow afternoon.

In the letter, Brown's lawyers say he wants the election certified no later than 11 a.m. tomorrow so Brown can be sworn in tomorrow afternoon.

"While Senator-elect Brown had tentatively planned to be sworn into office on February 11, he has been advised that there are a number of votes scheduled prior to that date," the letter reads. "For that reason, he wants certification to occur immediately."

A spokeswoman for Gov. Deval Patrick's office said the office is aware of the letter but could not immediately comment. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's office declined to comment.

Brown said last week he expected to be sworn in Feb. 11 and was comfortable with that date.

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Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL), the newly-nominated Republican candidate for President Obama's former Senate seat in Illinois, is out with a new internal poll claiming that he already has a strong lead over the Democratic nominee, state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias.

The numbers: Kirk 47%, Giannoulias 35%. The poll was conducted February 1 and 2, before the primary. Independent polling has generally shown Giannoulias ahead of Kirk.

As David Freddosso points out: "This poll is an outlier, and it's Kirk's poll, so take it with a grain of salt. But it should put a fresh scare into the White House."

In a letter to Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Attorney General Eric Holder is continuing the push back against GOP attacks on the Obama Administration's decision to handle Umar Abdulmutallab in American courts.

"Since the September 11, 2001 attacks, the practice of the U.S. government, followed by prior and current Administrations without a single exception, has been to arrest and detain under federal criminal law all terrorist suspects who are apprehended inside the United States," Holder writes (emphasis in original).

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The Obama administration is pushing back against criticism of the way it's handled Christmas bombing suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab -- but that doesn't seem to be stopping Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) from continuing her own critique.

It started on Saturday, when Collins said in a video message that the Obama administration had failed in its handling of the Christmas Day bombing incident and subsequent interrogation of Abdulmutallab.

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