TPM News

If you saw Avatar, Sherlock Holmes or Up in the Air this weekend, you also may have heard a little bit about Richard Singer, a small business owner in Bay City, Michigan who says he fell victim to a bogus lawsuit.

It seems like a friendly, well-produced public service announcement detailing the "Faces of Lawsuit Abuse" with a focus on small business. But it's a bit strange to see a commercial with a political message in between traditional pre-movie programming of Coca-Cola ads and spots pushing new television shows.

"America needs more jobs, not more lawsuits," is the tag line after Singer tells his story.

The four-minute video is airing in the pre-trailer commercial reel in movie theaters in Washington, D.C., Albany, Denver, Orlando and Tampa Bay, Florida and in Baton Rouge. It's part of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Institute for Legal Reform, which spent $4.2 million from June through September.

The Chamber is a major player, spending nearly $39 million lobbying Congress and government agencies in the third quarter of this year alone. Representing corporations both large and small, the Chamber has a goal of making it harder for people to sue their clients.

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Faced with a credible news report that they agreed to a request from Allen Stanford to ask Hugo Chavez to file criminal charges against a Venezuelan banker, most politicians would likely want to respond. Either to deny the story, or at least to offer some generic and uncontroversial sentiment like "Congressman X believes Allen Stanford should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law." After all, that's not exactly the kind of story most pols want to leave just hanging out there.

Not Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY), though. Over 60 hours after McClatchy reported that Meeks agreed to that request during a 2006 phone call with Stanford, the New York congressman remains mum. His office didn't respond to McClatchy, and his press secretary hasn't returned two voice-mails and email from TPMmuckraker.

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Rep. Steve King (R-IA) is predicting that Sarah Palin will run for president in 2012. And he thinks she can win the Iowa Republican caucuses.

"I think we'll see her in Iowa," said King, in an appearance on Iowa Public Television. "There are a good number of people who could win the Iowa caucuses and I would put her in the top five or so who would be in a good position to do so."

King also revisited comments he made this past July, when he was puzzled by Palin's resignation as Governor of Alaska. "I thought she had made a career decision that would be hard to bounce back from," King now says. "It looks like she's bounced back from it and gone from there."

King made it clear that he is not endorsing anybody yet -- but he also hinted that he could end up endorsing early in the race. King cited his experience when he endorsed Fred Thompson in the final weeks of the 2008 Iowa caucuses, only to see Thompson lose badly. "I learned from it," said King. "I think that I should have made an endorsement earlier in the presidential race."

Last night, former Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge said that he disagreed with the decision to try the Flight 253 suspect criminally, and that "he's not a citizen of this country."

He's a terrorist, and I don't think he deserves the full range of protections of our criminal justice system embodied in the Constitution of the United States.

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The Republican Party is using Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to attack House Democrats in the wake of her much-derided comment that "the system worked" in response to the near-bombing of Flight 253.

(Napolitano was speaking of the response to the attack after the fact, but her detractors are understandably more focused on the intelligence failures before the event.)

The NRCC has put out a new press release against swing-seat Democrats on the Homeland Security and Government Oversight committees, calling on them to demand that Napolitano testify to Congress: "Will (member name) finally demand answers from Secretary Napolitano, or will (he/she) continue to silently endorse her alarming statement that 'the system worked' in the face of building evidence that the administration is unable to confront serious threats against the American people?"

Interestingly, one of the Dems on the receiving end of this press release is Rep. Chris Carney (PA) -- who was being courted by the GOP last week to switch parties, and even got a phone call from Sen. John McCain. Carney then put out a statement turning down the offer, but also thanking the GOP and declaring "their outreach a sure sign that I have worked in a truly bipartisan manner." Now they're attacking him in a press release. It looks like that courtship was over as quickly as it began.

The full press release is available after the jump.

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The group of Republican state attorneys general [waging](http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2009/12/law_prof_gop_state_ags_objection_to_health_bill_is.php) a public campaign against the Nebraska Medicaid provision in the Senate health bill appear to be scrambling to come up with a valid constitutional argument, already discarding one obscure objection and coming up with two new arguments -- which legal experts say are still flimsy.

When the effort was first announced last week, the Republican AGs  stuck to vague language about the (undisputed) unfairness of the "Cornhusker Kickback." Now, they've begun to do more research, or perhaps get more advice, and the result has been no less than three successive arguments against the measure.

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Sen. Joe Lieberman, Sen. John McCain and Sen. Lindsey Graham wrote a letter to President Obama today asking he halt any transfer of the six Yemeni detainees being held in Guantanamo Bay.

The trio of senators, who often see eye-to-eye on national security issues, said the transfer of the detainees would be "highly unwise and ill-considered."

Lieberman (I-CT) McCain (R-AZ) and Graham (R-SC) asked that until the United States is sure the detainees "will not return to the battlefield," all transfers to Yemen should cease.

A senior administration official tells TPMDC that Obama's Guantanamo review specifically identifies each detainee.

The task force evaluates detainees and the threat they pose, to determine whether they should be prosecuted, detained, or transferred, the official said.

The administration has worked with the government of Yemen to make sure all appropriate security measures are taken when the detainees are transferred, and Obama "will not release any detainee who would endanger the American people," the official said.

The official said Gitmo has been used by Al Qaeda as a rallying cry and recruiting tool, and the administration maintains that closing it is a national security imperative.

Excerpts from the Lieberman/McCain/Graham letter after the jump, and read it in full here.

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Democrats say Rep. Pete Hoekstra went too far using the failed terror attempt on flight 253 to raise money for his campaign for governor.

As we reported earlier, Hoekstra (R-MI) fundraised off the Christmas Day incident and joined other Republicans who are calling the Obama White House weak.

DNC Spokesman Hari Sevugan sharply criticized Hoekstra:

"It was shameful that Republicans like Mr. Hoekstra would attempt to play politics with our national security at all, but raising money off it is beyond the pale," Sevugan said.

"Republicans are playing politics with issues of national security and terrorism, and that they would use this incident as an opportunity to fan partisan flames and raise money for political campaigns tells you all you need to know about how far the Republican party has fallen and how out of step with the American people they have become," he added.

"The American people simply will not tolerate the likes of Mr. Hoekstra and the Republican Party playing politics with the serious issues of national security and terrorism - especially after the mess they left this country in both domestically and on national security after eight years of failed leadership."

TPMLivewire