TPM News

Right-wing extremists who question the legitimacy of Barack Obama's presidency tried to take on local law enforcement recently -- and they seem to have come out on the losing end.

First, a Tennessee man was arrested after walking into his local county courthouse to try to effect a citizen's arrest of a grand jury foreman who had refused to investigate President Obama's legitimacy to serve -- an encounter partially caught on video. That enraged one Georgia-based member of the far-right OathKeepers group. Responding to a call from an extremist leader, he drove to Tennessee with an AK-47 in a bid to get his comrade released -- only to wind up getting arrested himself.

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Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), who has taken a firm stance against any legislation that creates or gives incentives for new oil drilling programs off of the Florida coast, thinks he'll get his way. Nelson has been in regular conversation with Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), the principal author of a soon-to-be-unveiled climate and energy bill, and he believes, based on those discussions, that Kerry is moving in his direction.

Today, Kerry, who has been tight-lipped in recent days about the fragile state of his flagship legislation, acknowledged to reporters this morning that he sympathizes with Nelson and other senators who oppose new drilling, calling their concerns "very legitimate."

"He knows my position," Nelson said of Kerry, standing outside the Senate chamber this morning. "There's just not going to be any oil drilling off of Florida."

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The controversial "audit the Fed" amendment that would force the Federal Reserve to open up its books has two more c-sponsors.

Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Mark Begich (D-AK) have signed on to support the amendment to the financial reform bill now pending in the Senate. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) became a co-sponsor on Tuesday.

Introduced and championed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), the "audit the Fed" measure has supporters on both sides of the aisle. However, the White House, the Fed and the financial industry staunchly oppose the measure. Sanders is trying to round up the 60 votes it need to overcome a likely filibuster. President Obama will likely be under intense pressure to veto the entire financial reform bill if "audit the fed" survives.

Reporting by Brian Beutler

Former President George H.W. Bush and his wife Barbara Bush hosted a fundraiser Tuesday for Ben Quayle, the son of Bush's vice president and a candidate for Congress from Arizona.

Quayle is running to replace retiring Rep. John Shadegg (R-AZ). Although he has less political experience than some of his opponents, he's raised the most money, bringing in $550,000 as of March 31.

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On Fox News last night, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) slammed law enforcement's handling of the failed Times Square car bombing, saying it was "stupid" to read suspect Faisal Shahzad his Miranda rights and that it was "pretty doggone abysmal" that he was able to board an international flight before being taken into custody.

"They Mirandized him, which I always find stupid on the part of our people," Hatch said.

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Despite the public backlash against Arizona's new immigration reform law, which requires police to check the immigration status of anyone they suspect could be in the country illegally, conservative lawmakers across the country are trying to duplicate the law in their own states. The latest example is happening in Minnesota, where GOP state Rep. Steve Drazkowski is getting ready to introduce a similar measure.

The interesting thing here is that Drazkowski and other proponents of the Arizona immigration bill say they're merely enforcing federal statutes within their borders. But Drazkowski himself is also a co-author of a proposal to have Minnesota nullify federal laws.

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Marco Rubio is now clarifying his earlier criticism of the Arizona anti-illegal immigration law, which aims to have Arizona enforce immigration law by having police question people who they believe could be in the country illegally. Rubio, who came under some fire from the right for badmouthing the new law, now says he would support the newly-amended version.

The major change to the law is that police would only check a person's immigration status if stopping them for potentially breaking another law. This was done in order to avoid accusations that the law invited racial profiling.

In an interview with Human Events, Rubio said: "Well, I congratulate them on doing that. As I've learned in my time in the state legislature, often important legislation is always a work in progress. They were quick to recognize some potential pitfalls. And it didn't surprise me that they did because, as I said in my statement, I never believed that their intent was anything other than public safety."

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The financial costs of the massive Gulf Coast oil spill are just beginning to become a political issue, with Democrats in Washington reluctant to divvy out any more taxpayer funds in an election year, especially for states whose governors have been among the most vocal over the past year in blasting federal spending.

In Louisiana, Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) has been a vocal critic of federal spending under President Obama, but as the state closest to the undersea leak, he already has requested various forms of federal disaster assistance. He's also anticipating the possibility that British Petroleum either won't, or won't have to under the law, foot the the full cost of all the damages associated with the spill.

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) took a swipe at Jindal when I asked during a brief interview this week if Congress was considering any funding to add to what BP will do. "Well you know, here we go. You know, the governor of Louisiana says the federal government should stay out of the state's business," Menendez told me Tuesday night. Jindal's office said they would respond but haven't yet gotten back to me. We'll update if they do.

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Americans are much less interested in supporting off-shore drilling in the wake of the calamitous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. That's according to a new poll from Rasmussen, which shows support for drilling has dropped by 14% since late March. The number of Americans who say they're concerned about the environmental impact of offshore drilling jumped 20% in the same period.

A majority of Americans, 58%, still support adding more oil wells to the nation's coastal waters. But that's down from 72% less than Ramussen's March poll. Less than half in that poll, 49%, said the were "at least somewhat concerned about environmental problems caused by drilling. In the new poll, 69% say they're concerned about the environmental impact of drilling.

The Rasmussen poll was conducted among 1000 likely voters on May 4-5. The margin of error is 3%.

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