TPM News

With a new poll suggesting that Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) could potentially lose her 2012 Republican primary to a conservative challenger, does the political environment in Maine mean that she could be in real danger from the right, or that she might have to become an independent or even a Democrat?

Snowe's office has not returned out requests for comment. We spoke to Mark Brewer, an associate political science professor at the University of Maine, for the opinion and perspective of a local expert.

"Certainly the numbers among Republicans are a little surprising. It is certainly the case that the Maine Republican Party has a pretty significant faction within it that is relatively conservative, that has for a decent amount of time now looked at Sen. Snowe somewhat skeptically, I guess -- and that's probably being charitable to a certain degree," said Brewer. "So the fact that there's anger within the Maine GOP at Snowe isn't surprising. The fact that the figure among the Republican primary figure, and the fact that there were 59%-31% in favor of a conservative challenge, that surprised me a little bit."

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With President Obama abroad, First Lady Michelle Obama is stepping in for a few days with a focus on health care.

At an event with women at the White House this afternoon, the first lady joined health care czar Nancy-Ann DeParle. They showcased the stories of women whose families had suffered due to bad insurance and the Medicare "donut hole."

"These stories touch our hearts and they spark in us a fundamental source of unfairness," she said.

Obama said she can't say what the bill "that ultimately will cross my husband's desk will look like," but said it would be true reform.

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Just a few minutes ago, former U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey slammed his successor, Eric Holder, over Holder's decision to bring five terror suspects from Guantanamo Bay to New York to try them as planners of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

"It shows a willingness to disclose how our intelligence process works and offer [the suspects] a platform in our legal system to gather intelligence for themselves," Mukasey said before an audience of conservative lawyers at the national Federalist Society's annual legal convention in Washington.

Holder's plan "creates a cornucopia of intelligence for those still at large and a circus for those being tried," Mukasey said.

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The local Tea Party organization in Danville, Virginia, is taking their opposition to freshman Democratic Rep. Tom Perriello to a whole new level -- announcing that they will burn him in effigy, along with a similar image of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, at a rally called "Fired Up For Freedom."

"At this point we feel we have no representation in Congress," Danville Tea Party chairman Nigel Coleman told the Chatham Star Tribune, with the chief complaint being Perriello's vote for the House health care bill this past weekend.

Perriello's office declined to comment to TPM about this.

Late Update: DCCC chairman Chris Van Hollen has responded in a statement. "These shocking and despicable acts are becoming all too common at extreme right-wing Republican rallies. Hanging Members in effigy or displaying images of Nazi concentration camps on the steps of the Capitol have no place in any debate and Republican Members of Congress must condemn these actions," said Van Hollen. "While there should be a robust debate about reforming America's broken health insurance system, violent expressions are beyond the boundaries of a respectful debate. The American people are counting on Republicans to join Democrats in a constructive debate to help President Obama bring about urgently-needed health insurance reform."

The Washington Times has suspended matching contributions to its employees' 401(k) accounts.

In a memo sent to employees and obtained by TPM, vice president for human resources Sonya Jenkins announced that the contributions would stop today.

"As we continue to assess changes necessary to manage through the industry and economic challenges confronting The Washington Times, we must take immediate steps to reduce costs," Jenkins wrote.

"We regret having to take this action but believe it is the prudent thing to do in light of current economic and industry conditions," she added.

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The probe into the death of Census Bureau worker Bill Sparkman continues -- and authorities may now be considering a whole new theory of the case.

Two law enforcement sources tell the AP that investigators are considering whether Sparkman committed suicide, but intentionally made it look like murder in order to allow his son to make a life insurance claim. Most life insurance policies don't cover suicides, at least within a certain time frame after the policy begins.

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Rep. Steve King (R-IA) is attacking the appointment of Bob Bauer as the new White House Counsel -- saying that it's all a plot to protect ACORN!

In a new press release, King declares:

"Bob Bauer has a public record of defending Barack Obama's relationship with ACORN. Bauer has acted as the agent between Obama and ACORN, and now he will be perfectly positioned to be tasked with erasing the tracks between Obama and ACORN. Bauer's hiring appears to be a tactical maneuver to strategically defend the White House exactly one week after Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell raided ACORN's national headquarters in New Orleans and seized paper records and computer hard drives that may lead to the White House."

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New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg released a statement today in support of the administration's announcement that five suspected Sept. 11 terrorists will be tried in the city. Here's the full text:

I support the Obama Administration's decision to prosecute 9/11 terrorists here in New York. It is fitting that 9/11 suspects face justice near the World Trade Center site where so many New Yorkers were murdered. We have hosted terrorism trials before, including the trial of Omar Abdel-Rahman, the mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. When I spoke to Attorney General Holder earlier today, I told him New York City stands ready to assist the federal court in the administration of justice in any way necessary. I have great confidence that the NYPD, with federal authorities, will handle security expertly. The NYPD is the best police department in the world and it has experience dealing with high-profile terrorism suspects and any logistical issues that may come up during the trials.

The liberal group MoveOn is exploiting an interesting opening to both support health care reform and weaken the Chamber of Commerce.

Citing the American Medical Association's endorsement of House health care legislation, and the Chamber of Commerce's unapologetic opposition to it, MoveOn is calling for the AMA and the Chamber to part ways.

MoveOn is calling on their doctors to sign a petition demanding that the AMA pull out.

"The American Medical Association has been running ads for months supporting President Obama's health care plan," reads a letter from MoveOn to supportive doctors.

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An AmeriCorps official urged a colleague to "destroy" documents relating to the controversial firing of the agency's inspector general, according to emails obtained by a conservative news site. AmeriCorps says the request was made out of concern for the independence of the IG's office, after documents on the firing were mistakenly sent its way. But news of the episode is giving new life to a story the Obama administration had hoped was dead.

Yesterday, CNSNews.com, a conservative news site, published an email exchange it obtained through a FOIA request related to the firing this summer of Gerald Walpin as inspector general for the Corporation for National and Community Service. Walpin, backed by the conservative media, has claimed that he was dismissed for zealously pursuing an Obama ally for financial misconduct, and is now suing AmeriCorps over the firing. The administration has said concerns about Walpin's performance and temperament led to his removal.

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