TPM News

A Maryland political operative behind misleading election day robocalls has a long and colorful history of political tricks so dirty that even in Baltimore political consultants "don't want to even breathe the same air as him." But a lawyer representing Julius Henson (who has admitted he was responsible for robocalls telling mostly Democratic voters not to bother going to the polls on Election Day) is arguing that his client's right to free speech protects such tactics.

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Starting Saturday, two of the new health care law's most significant reforms take effect -- or at least begin to take effect.

The first will dramatically clamp down on insurance industry waste, abuse, and excesses. Starting on New Year's Day, insurance companies will have to spend at least 80 percent of the revenues they receive from premiums on actual health care. Not on salaries or overhead.

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Pam Geller, everyone's favorite bikini-clad Islamophobe, is celebrating the power her demagoguery has to grab headlines upon the news that the debate over the "Ground Zero Mosque" was the most followed issue this year.

The debate, Geller says, "changed the course of human events."

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The Justice Department asked a federal judge this week to suspend an appeal of the Log Cabin Republicans' federal lawsuit against "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," which was recently repealed by Congress.

Justice Department attorneys argued that the court should "suspend the briefing schedule and hold the case in abeyance to allow that process to continue to completion."

A federal judge had ruled in September that DADT was unconstitutional and issued an injunction banning enforcement of the law, a ruling DOJ appealed.

President Obama signed the repeal into law earlier this month, and has said he expects repeal to be implemented in a matter of months, not years.

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As Frustration Grows, Airports Consider Ditching TSA The Washington Post reports: "Some of the nation's biggest airports are responding to recent public outrage over security screening by weighing whether they should hire private firms such as Covenant to replace the Transportation Security Administration. Sixteen airports, including San Francisco and Kansas City International Airport, have made the switch since 2002. One Orlando airport has approved the change but needs to select a contractor, and several others are seriously considering it."

Obama Craves Familiarity On Hawaiian Vacation The Associated Press reports: "There are those who crave adventure and spontaneity during their vacations. Then, there's President Barack Obama. More than a week into his Hawaiian holiday, Obama is proving to be a creature of habit, seeking refuge in the comfort and consistency of a familiar routine."

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TPM is pleased to announce the winners of the Fourth Annual Golden Duke Awards! The Golden Dukes are given in recognition of great accomplishments in politics including acts of venal corruption, outstanding self-inflicted losses of dignity, crimes against the republic, bribery, exposed hypocrisy and generally malevolent governance. And The Crazy, of course.

Our judges -- Rick Hertzberg, Susie Bright , Sara Benincasa, Alex Pareene and TPM alum Andrew Golis -- waded their way through all 40 finalists in 8 categories, and came up with their winners.

And, for the first time, so did TPM readers. Those results are also included.

So, without further adieu, the winners:

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Sara Benincasa is an award-winning comedian, writer and radio talk show host. Her outspoken, sexually-charged comedy has won praise from the Chicago Tribune, CNN, The Guardian, and The New York Times, and has earned her an ECNY (Emerging Comedian of New York) Award and a Webby nomination. She also knows what's what about politics and scandal, because she'd have to: she's a comedian.

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