TPM News

As TPM reported recently, emails sent and received by Florida Gov. Rick Scott's (R) transition team were accidentally deleted, apparently in violation of state standards. But it wasn't clear when they were deleted, or how.

Now the Miami Herald reports some new details: Scott's transition team knew the emails were missing as early as March. Rackspace, a private company handling the emails, notified the transition team that no records existed from almost all the accounts that had been closed, including Scott's, the Herald reports. Scott has said he only learned within the past couple weeks that the emails couldn't be recovered.

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When Congress returns from recess, House Republicans will begin a continuous assault on a series of health, environmental and labor regulations, which they say are hampering job creation. And they'll twin it with two tax cuts for both large and small businesses. One of those cuts will actually be aimed at preventing a scheduled tax increase -- but it's not the payroll tax cut President Obama has asked Congress to extend.

In a memo to members, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) laid out a list of 10 rules, most of which have yet to be implemented, which they'll seek to prevent week by week. These include regulations that would limit the amount of mercury and other toxins boiler and incinerator operators can burn into the atmosphere; that could make it easier for workers to unionize; and that assure that employer insurance policies exempted from new health care law -- so-called "grandfathered" plans -- meet the law's basic requirements and aren't gamed by employers to reduce workers' existing benefits.

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Women in large hats released white doves and yellow confetti filled the air outside the State Department on Friday, as supporters of an Iranian opposition group that the U.S. officially considers a terrorist organization rallied to get the group off the list designating them as such.

"Ode to Joy" played from massive speakers as former Rep. Patrick Kennedy introduced the leader of the Mujahedin-e Khalq, or MEK, a group that the State Department puts on a list that includes Al-Qaeda and Hamas. He didn't hold back on the rhetorical flourishes.

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Starting in 2009, the current Republican Congressional majority rode into power on a wave of voter frustration voiced through organized protest at town halls. So it's perhaps out of fear that the same thing will happen to their majority in 2012 that Republicans found new and novel ways to stifle the voices of constituents who might criticize them.

All across the country, Republican members of Congress have done their best to duck their critics this August, traditionally the month when town halls can become heated and policy agendas shifted. But with congressional and Republican approval ratings way, way down, it seems the GOP is preoccupied with quieting those who might criticize them over facing the music back home.

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It seems that the Tea Party's governing style, most clearly on display during the debt ceiling fight in Congress, has taken a toll on Americans' view of the movement. Polls have been showing a drop in its approval, and a new AP/GfK poll shows that its unfavorable rating has seen a sharp rise. 46 percent of those surveyed said they have a negative view of the Tea Party movement, versus 28 who say they view it favorably.

The last time the AP conducted a national poll on Americans' favorability of Tea Partiers was in their pre-governing period: throughout 2010 the conservative movement was viewed slightly unfavorably but the splits were close. In June of 2010 it even earned a positive rating, with 33 percent of over 1,000 adults surveyed finding the movement favorable against 30 percent. In the last AP rating, taken Nov. 3-8, 2010, directly after the 2010 election, the split stood at a slim negative rating of 32 percent favorable against 36 unfavorable.

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Rep. Michele Bachmann's (R-MN) presidential campaign says critics are making much ado about nothing when it comes to her viral quote stating last week's East Coast earthquake and hurricane was a message from God to overspending DC politicians.



"Obviously she was saying it in jest," campaign spokesperson Alice Stewart told TPM in a statement.

The quote, made by Bachmann at a Florida campaign rally over the weekend, is making headlines across the Internet and TV.

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It seems not even the annual Labor Day parades are immune from partisan polarization in Wisconsin, in the wake of the political battles over Gov. Scott Walker's anti-public employee union legislation. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports Republican politicians in the Wausau area have been told to stay away from this year's parade.

"Usually they've been in the parade, but it seems like they only want to stand with us one day a year, and the other 364 days they don't really care," said Randy Radtke, president of the Marathon County Central Labor Council, which organizes the parade.

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For someone who began her political career mixing fundamentalist religion and public policy, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) has done a decent job keeping questions about her faith at bay during her presidential campaign.

Until now.

Speaking to a crowd in Florida over the weekend, Bachmann said the historic earthquake and massive hurricane that rocked the East Coast last week was a message that God is upset with the way politicians in Washington have been doing things. The interview with the St. Petersburg Times grabbed the quote:

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When a massive tornado obliterated the town of Joplin, Missouri earlier this year, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) told reporters that if the disaster ultimately required the government to step in and provide aid, it would have to be offset by cutting spending on other federal programs.

"If there is support for a supplemental, it would be accompanied by support for having pay-fors to that supplemental," he said, using the anodyne language of budget policy.

Three months later, when a modest earthquake struck the town of Mineral, Virginia in his own district, and caused minor, but widespread damage along the eastern seaboard, Cantor upheld the standard. Congress, he said, "will find the monies" to help victims, but that "those monies will be offset with appropriate savings or cost-cutting elsewhere."

Now, in the wake of Hurricane Irene -- a much costlier natural disaster -- Cantor may make the same demand, which could touch off a bitter fight on Capitol Hill.

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Updated 5:54 p.m. ET, Aug. 27

As an estimated 65 million people along the Northeast Coast await the landfall of Hurricane Irene, some already evacuating, the region's nuclear power plants are preparing to shut down in the event that conditions grow too dangerous for them to continue operations.

A total of 12 nuclear power stations consisting of 20 distinct nuclear reactors in 9 states are in the direct path of the hurricane, according to Reuters.

The first two plants due to be hit are both owned by North Carolina power company Progress Energy. But the company told Reuters that one of them, the Brunswick Nuclear Power Plant, located near Southport, is likely to continue operating through the storm.

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