TPM News

Yesterday, we spent about four hours watching a spotty livestream of the revival meeting history textbook hearing by the State Board of Education down in Austin, Texas.

Those are the standards on which -- it can't be repeated enough -- publishers base their nationwide textbooks, and the ones that currently contain a clause requiring knowledge of Newt Gingrich.

Well, the board met for another four hours after lunch. Not much was said about Gingrich beyond that it was "not easy" to draft the clause, but it's worth checking out some highlight clips we pulled to see first-hand how the partisan and frankly ignorant worldviews of some of the board members influence the standards writing process.

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The lumbering fight over health care reform continues on Capitol Hill, and remains the focus of intense media coverage. But that focus belies a rift emerging on the left between grassroots and establishment Democrats over where the process should go next.

The schism is exemplified by the formation of a new Democracy for America campaign, called America Can't Wait, to pressure Democratic leaders to stop courting Senate centrists and pass health care reform through the filibuster-proof budget reconciliation process. In a letter to DFA members, America Can't Wait founder Howard Dean wrote "At least 218 House and 51 Senate Democrats have said they would vote for the final healthcare bill if it included the choice of a public option rather than vote against the bill and kill reform."

"Senate rules don't allow filibusters of certain bills that affect the budget," Dean went on. "That's right; the healthcare reform plan including the choice of a public option can be passed in a budget bill by a majority vote in the U.S. Senate."

But Senate leaders on the Hill urge caution.

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Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-MN) had a bit of a blooper on his weekly radio show -- when giving out the number to call into his show, he accidentally gave the number of a phone-sex hotline.

The problem here was that he used an 800 area code, when the actual number was 866.

I wouldn't be too quick to laugh at Pawlenty, though, as I've personally made this exact same mistake myself. And for the record, I was trying to call a news company.

Seven former CIA directors have sent a letter to President Obama, urging him to overturn Attorney General Eric Holder's decision to appoint a torture prosecutor.

Holder's decision, they wrote "creates an atmosphere of continuous jeopardy for those whose cases the Department of Justice had previously declined to prosecute." they added that the probe "will seriously damage the willingness of many other intelligence officers to take risks to protect the country."

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Rep. Joe ("You Lie") Wilson's outburst during President Obama's speech last week didn't exactly make him out to be sympathetic to illegal immigrants, to put it mildly. There's also little evidence he ever worked as an immigration lawyer, as he's claimed.

But the South Carolina Republican's hard line on the issue may not be as consistent as you might expect. In fact, on one recent case, it looks like he went downright soft -- and what's even more interesting is the possible reason why.

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In an interview with Jeffrey Brown on PBS, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) referred to the current protests on health care as a "modern-day political rebellion in America," and quoted Thomas Jefferson to say that rebellion is a good thing -- but it should be done in a civil way:

Boehner: And so this conversation that's underway is healthy for our democracy. It was Thomas Jefferson 220 years ago who said, "A little rebellion now and then is good for our democracy."

Brown: Right, but "rebellion" is a charged word, of course, because the rebellion back then was a serious matter.

Boehner: It was. But having Americans engaged in this public debate is healthy. And I would hope that it would continue, but continue in a civil way.


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Orly Taitz must like the abuse.

Sometime between being thoroughly smacked down by a federal judge and threatened with sanctions Wednesday, then denouncing said judge to TPM as a corrupt puppet, then having a formal complaint filed against her by a fellow member of the California bar for her comments, self-appointed Birther leader Taitz filed a motion in the U.S. District Court of the Middle District of Georgia challenging the judge's order tossing her most recent case.

Now, the judge is threatening her with a fine to the tune of $10,000.

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While reporting this afternoon from the floor of the Values Voter Summit, MSNBC reporter Brian Mooar was heckled by several audience members who said he was being rude and disrespectful.

Mooar was giving a live broadcast as Rep. Roy Blunt (R-MO) was speaking to a crowd of about 2,000. A woman in white gets up and yells something at him, which is inaudible.

"Somebody here is not liking what we're talking about," Mooar said as he was about to sign off.

Then, a man came up to him. "You're being rude," he said.

Mooar countered: "We were invited guests."

"Too bad," the audience member said. "You're being rude."

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Several outlets, including ABC News and Fox News, are reporting that Mohammed Zazi, the man whose Colorado home was this week raided by the FBI in connection to a suspected terror plot has admitted ties to al Qaeda, and is negotiating to plead guilty to a terror charge.

That plea would be part of a deal to cooperate with the government. According to a law enforcement official, Zazi received explosives training. Other reports have suggested he was found with plans for building bombs on his recent trip to New York.

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