TPM News

In an interview with ABC News this morning, House Minority Leader John Boehner condemned a Florida pastor planning a September 11 Koran burning ceremony, calling the ritual "unwise." But he also stopped short of imploring him to cancel the event -- and compared the book-burning to the creation of an Islamic cultural center.

"To Pastor Jones and those who want to build the [so-called Ground Zero] Mosque," Boehner said (drawing an equivalence between Koran burning and the Cordoba House Project in lower Manhattan) "Just because you have a right to do something in America, does not mean it's the right thing to do. We're a nation of religious freedom -- we're also a nation of tolerance. I think in the name of tolerance, people ought to really think about the kind of actions they're taking."

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President Obama will announce in a speech in Ohio today that he's unwilling to budge on the Bush tax cuts: the cuts on the highest brackets must expire, no matter what congressional Republicans (and even some Democrats) are saying. This will mark the first election season battle between Obama and House Republican leader John Boehner -- who hopes to become Speaker next Congress, and who today proposed a minimum of a two-year extension of all current tax rates.

"Why wouldn't we work together to make clear that all current tax rates will be extended for the next two years," Boehner said on ABC this morning.

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You know the stories, by now: The violent attack on a cab driver, the arson in Tennessee, the sometimes unbelievable vitriol associated with a Manhattan Islamic community center. The plans by a radical pastor to burn the holy book of another religion, plans that have been condemned even by his compatriots on the fringe of American thought.

But why? And why now?

"It's been percolating," John Esposito, the director of the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown, told TPM. As Esposito tells it, America has had a problem with anti-Muslim prejudice since before Sept. 11, 2001. But it was contained, in a way, and even after 9/11 "things were pretty stabilized." The uptick began in 2004, and now it's rising to the surface.

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BP today released the report of its own investigation into what caused the Deepwater Horizon to explode and leak millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

We're still digging through the 193-page report, which you can find here, along with the appendices and executive summary. But according to BP's quick-summary press release, the company found that everyone involved had a hand in the disaster.

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Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour said today that he opposes a Florida church's plan to burn copies of the Koran on Sept. 11, and said he accepts "totally" that President Obama is a Christian.

"I do not think well of the idea of burning anybody's Koran, Bible, Book of Mormon or anything else," Barbour told reporters at a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor.

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An ex-CIA official named Albert who ran a drill near the head of a terrorism suspect and threatened him with a gun during an interrogation is back on the government payroll as a contractor, and had even trained other CIA operatives, the Associated Press reports.

A review by the CIA inspector general said that the 60-year-old man named Albert, whose last name is being withheld at the request of the government, used unauthorized interrogation techniques against Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, a USS Cole bombing plotter, at a secret CIA prison in Poland in late 2002 and early 2003.

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Stephen Colbert was ready last night for the campaign season to kick into high gear now that Labor Day has passed. It's "time to put away the white pants," he said, "and dust off the white politicians."

Like Christine O'Donnell, a Republican primary candidate in Delaware, who has some rather old-fashioned views on sex. O'Donnell lost to Joe Biden in 2008, which Colbert said "[proves] once again that nothing makes you want to 'do it' less than debating Joe Biden."

He then showed an encore presentation of his "award flavored" interview with Rep. Mike Castle (R-DE), who refused to make cockfighting the official sport of his state. "I am going to cockblock Delaware," Castle said.

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President Obama is in the process of rolling out a job creation package comprised overwhelmingly of the sorts of tax cuts Republicans normally love, paired with a modest plan to create a government-run infrastructure investment bank to help fund transportation projects across the country. But judging from the GOP response, you'd think the specifics of the proposal were reversed: big on spending, small on tax cuts. In other words, so comfortable have Republicans become with opposing Democratic proposals, that they're gearing up for a fight against the policies their most powerful supporters love.

"As the American people, facing near double-digit unemployment, mark Labor Day by asking, where are the jobs, the White House has chosen to double-down on more of the same failed 'stimulus' spending," House Minority Leader John Boehner said in a Monday statement. He was speaking in that instance about the infrastructure bank, but his statement on Tuesday about the tax cuts wasn't much more encouraging.

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Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) and his likely Republican opponent, businessman Ron Johnson, each have some new ads out that explore different sides of the same theme. Feingold's ad presents the Senator as a constant outsider who has irritated the special interests in Washington -- while Johnson's ad casts Feingold as a career politician with 18 years of experience.

The Feingold ad shows him meeting for lunches with various constituents back home in Wisconsin, compared to nobody wanting to sit with him in Washington. "Russ Feingold's work to provide our soldiers with the support and health care they deserve has earned him the approval of Wisconsin veterans," the announcer says. "Russ's fight to protect local jobs from being shipped overseas and create jobs here has earned him the respect of Wisconsin families and small businesses.

"And his stand against wasteful spending and automatic pay raises for members of Congress -- has earned him a lot of lonely lunches in Washington."

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Jon Stewart showed the infamous clip of Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer's (R) trainwreck of a debate last night, and was not impressed: "What happened? Did a Mexican drug cartel sneak across the border and kidnap your tongue?"

But then he figured it out: "Oh wait, I know what happened. Her brain fart lasted the exact amount of time it takes the guy from 'Quantum Leap' to realize he's in a new body."

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