TPM News

Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) is strongly supporting the right of Muslims to build a community center near Ground Zero in New York, saying that its opponents are guilty of "gutter politics."

He called the opposition "one of the worst things I've ever seen done in politics."

WisPolitics reports:

Asked where he comes down on the proposal to build a mosque and community center near the site of the World Trade Center attacks, Feingold said it's tragic there isn't a proper memorial at the site.

"It's just wrong after all these years that there isn't that kind of memorial," he said.

Feingold said those who are looking to use the issue as a political wedge are guilty of "gutter politics" and "one of the worst things I've ever seen done in politics."

"In the end I believe in freedom of religion," he said. "If somebody owns property and it's within the zoning rules, if they want to build a house of worship that is a fundamental right. And I would make the point I am for freedom on this point, and freedom of religion is fundamental."

Kentucky Democrats waiting to hear their Senate nominee's take on the controversial Cordoba House project in lower Manhattan finally got their answer today -- and it sounds a lot like the response from GOP nominee Rand Paul.

"I think we have to keep the families of the victims of 9/11 foremost in our minds and because of that I would prefer to see it located elsewhere," Conway told the Knox County, KY Times-Tribune. Conway also said the project is "an issue for New York primarily."

Earlier this week, this is what Paul's campaign told me about their man's take on Cordoba House:

"While this is a local matter that should be decided by the people of New York, Dr. Paul does not support a mosque being built two blocks from Ground Zero," Paul spokesperson Gary Howard said. "In Dr. Paul's opinion, the Muslim community would better serve the healing process by making a donation to the memorial fund for the victims of September 11th."

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Conservatives are having fun with Speaker Nancy Pelosi's suggestion that there is some sort of conspiracy uniting the opponents of the proposed Islamic center near Ground Zero, but a closer look at some of the early protests suggests at least some coordination.

Check out the video embedded below, footage from a June protest that you've probably seen many times on television in recent days.

Organizers of the protest boasted 10,000 people and say their energy triggered an increase in coverage. What struck us about the footage were the pre-printed signs condemning what opponents call a "mega mosque." Many had the Web address for Pamela Geller's anti-Muslim group Stop Islamization of America printed right on them.

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MoveOn has hit a bump in the road for its anti-Target ad, which calls for a boycott of the company as a result of its $150,000 donation to a business group running ads for Minnesota Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer. MSNBC, the liberal-branded national cable channel where MoveOn hoped to air the ad, has instead rejected it.

An MSNBC spokeswoman told the Associated Press that the spot violates the channel's policy against ads that directly attack an individual business.

It's not all bad news for MoveOn, though. The group says that local TV stations in the Twin Cities market are running the ad.

As we've documented, Target's involvement with the business group MN Forward, to which they donated $150,000, triggered a political backlash in this liberal state due to Emmer's right-wing social positions. The company said it was supporting the group because of economic issues, but the CEO has since apologized.

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Initial jobless claims came in today at 500,000, which as a 12,000 increase from the previous week's level, and substantially worse than the 475,000 expected by consensus.

What does this mean? Whereas before jobless claims were merely 'stubbornly high', and not declining meaningfully, now they've clearly gotten worse, as shown below in a chart from Waverly Advisors. What this means is that even if things start to get better, and jobless claims improve, it's fair to say they will remain pretty ugly through year's end. Waverly Advisors:

We continue to anticipate overall unemployment levels to remain sticky near current levels into year-end as softening growth expectations weigh on corporate investment decisions. Anecdotal reports of demand for highly skilled labor appears to have a regional skew that may mute any near-term impact on national averages. Meanwhile it is obvious that job loss and creation will be a primary narrative focus for midterm elections. These converging factors suggest continued downward pressure on consumer sentiment for the foreseeable future.

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News Corp's $1 million donation to the Republican Governors Association was one of the largest single donations to any American political party this campaign season.

The company, headed by chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch, owns the Fox News Channel, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post, the Fox Business Network and more than two dozen local television stations.

In a statement, News Corp. said it "believes in the power of free markets, and the RGA's pro-business agenda supports our priorities at this most critical time for our economy."

But it's not the only news company that has delved into financing campaigns.

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Birther extraordinaire Orly Taitz is still trying to have the Supreme Court reverse a $20,000 fine imposed on her by a lower judge, even after the court denied her appeal earlier this week.

Taitz has filed a "motion for reconsideration" with the court, according to documents posted on her web site, claiming that she has new evidence that President Obama is not an American citizen.

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To the Tea Party, a vote for Delaware Senate hopeful Mike Castle (R) is a vote for a Democrat. Literally. Conservatives there are warning fellow tea partiers that if Castle gets elected, he'll pull an Arlen Specter and switch parties when the going gets tough. So they're endorsing his primary rival, Christine O'Donnell, instead.

"We are confident Christine O'Donnell will beat Mike Castle in the upcoming primary," , Delaware Vice President of the Independence Hall Tea Party PAC. "Christine is a strong grassroots favorite. While her opponent has the support of establishment types, Christine has the support of the people."

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Sharron Angle further explained her position on Social Security while speaking to reporters on Wednesday -- and said that she hasn't really changed from her previously stated view that the program should be "transitioned out."

Politico reports:

Addressing reporters after her speech, Angle was asked about her old campaign website, which called for a Social Security system that is "transitioned out." Her website no longer carries that language, a fact she's emphasized in the past, including during the primary, when she said the country needs to "phase Medicare and Social Security out in favor of something privatized."

"It's not really a change - a change in language perhaps, but not a change in direction," she said Wednesday. "The change is just because Harry Reid has so distorted and misinterpreted my words that I've had to explain those words, the words are really the explanation of a policy I've had from the beginning."

She said the policy is to "pay back" senior citizens for the money they've put into the system. Going forward, she would give people the option of leaving that "Social Security-type system and go to something more personalized," she said.

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Rep. John Hall (D-NY) said in a statement yesterday that he opposes building the proposed Cordoba House Muslim community center so close to Ground Zero: "I think honoring those killed on Sept. 11 and showing sensitivity to their families, it would be best if the center were built at a different location."

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