TPM News

It's no secret that Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT) isn't the most popular guy in the Senate, or that his rather conservative positions on national security have left many people suspicious of his motives when it comes to national security legislation. So it should have come as no surprise when CNET chief political correspondent Declan McCullagh wrote that Lieberman intended to give the President the power of an "Internet kill switch" in the event of a national emergency -- and sparked an uproar.

But, surprising it was -- especially to Lieberman and his staff on the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs. They argued that, in fact, the bill limited the powers already invested in the President to shut down telecommunications providers. Leslie Phillips, the communications director for the committee, said, "The very purpose of this legislation is to replace the sledgehammer of the 1934 Communications Act with a scalpel." So, who is right?

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May was a good month for both party committees charged with sending Senators to Washington. New fundraising numbers from the NRSC released this morning show the group raised $3.6 million last month. The GOP group has $18.1 million on hand, and spent just over $2.5 million last month.

That puts the Republicans ahead of the Democrats when it comes to the money in their bank account, but well behind them when it comes to raising more. According to numbers reported elsewhere today, the DSCC raised $5 million in May and has $17.6 million in cash heading into the summer.

"Republicans were quick to tout their cash position after Democrats had nearly a 2-to-1 financial advantage last fall," CQ reports.

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In a move that has Washington scratching its head a bit, former SEIU President Andy Stern has joined the board of SIGA Technologies--a company that specializes in developing drugs to combat biological warfare pathogens.

"Andy is a strong leader and a great addition to our Board of Directors. His insight, experience, and leadership, particularly his understanding of how our federal government works, will complement the skill sets of our existing board members," reads a statement from Dr. Eric Rose, SIGA's Chief Executive Officer.

I've reached out to Stern for comment on this. An unexpected step to say the least.

There's one thing both Democrats running in tomorrow's North Carolina Democratic Senate primary runoff can agree on: turnout is going to be very, very low. But even if most North Carolinians don't care much about the runoff, you probably should.

Democrats didn't exactly pour out back on May 4, the first time former State Senator Cal Cunningham and Secretary of State Elaine Mashall met in the primary. And even fewer of them are expected to head out in the summer heat to cast a ballot this time around. So it might be easy to write-off tomorrow's runoff election (after all, most North Carolinians have.) But the candidate who wins tomorrow faces Sen. Richard Burr (R) -- a relatively unpopular incumbent in a seat known for changing occupants regularly. National Democrats have long said the North Carolina Senate race could be one of this fall's surprises. That alone makes the primary worth watching.

But beyond that, the Democratic battle is another setting for the progressive vs. establishment fight that has defined primaries on both sides all year -- but with a twist.

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Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY) did not report on his personal financial disclosures over $50,000 in loans from a New York businessman that he used to pay for a large home in the Jamaica section of Queens, the Daily News reports.

Meeks, who has been on TPMmuckraker's radar recently because of a federal probe into his Hurricane Katrina charity, told the News that the loans, for $40,000 in 2007, and $15,000 in 2008, were not reported because of an "oversight."

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Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) is against gay marriage, at least in part, because of the "ick factor."

"I do believe that God created male and female and intended for marriage to be the relationship of the two opposite sexes," Huckabee said in a recent New Yorker profile. "Male and female are biologically compatible to have a relationship. We can get into the ick factor, but the fact is two men in a relationship, two women in a relationship, biologically, that doesn't work the same."

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Former Gov. Bob Ehrlich (R-MD) cut the microphones of callers to his talk radio show this weekend after they questioned his stance on oil drilling. Ehrlich is in an electoral rematch with Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) to win back the governor's mansion and, after Democrats tried and failed to force his radio show off the air, they settled on a different approach.

They bought commercial air time on "The Kendel and Bob Ehrlich Show" on WBAL radio to run an attack ad using Ehrlich's own "Drill, baby, drill" words against him. The ad and a series of callers criticizing Ehrlich's time in office began "getting under Ehrlich's skin," according to a Baltimore Sun reporter.

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You know Rep. Michele Bachmann has crossed a line when Bill O'Reilly grills her, and even says: "You're dodging my question."

That's what happened on O'Reilly's Fox News show Friday when Bachmann (R-MN) came on to talk about BP's $20 billion Gulf spill fund, which she had previously called "a "redistribution-of-wealth fund." She'd also said that BP "shouldn't have to be fleeced" for the fund, which will be used to pay damage claims resulting from the spill.

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Nevada Republican Senate nominee Sharron Angle has a new Web video, asking for money to fight back against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's attack campaign, which the announcer calls "a slap in the face to all Americans."

The announcer reviews the various problems facing the country -- bailouts, the national debt, a potentially nuclear Iran, the BP oil spill -- and blasts Reid for spending time attacking Angle. The ad is quite interesting with its use of music and overall tone, in contrasting the menacing Reid against all that is good and wholesome about America.

"America deserves better," the announcer says. "If you care more about sound ideas than negative sound bites, if you think it's time to end the bailouts, end the power of the special interests, and above all, take back the America we love, then please visit and contribute today -- and do it, before Harry Reid attacks again."

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President Obama would be willing to veto the defense authorization bill -- even if it includes a repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell -- if it also includes money for planes the military doesn't want, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Sunday.

Gates, during an interview on Fox News Sunday, said he thinks the president would veto the bill if it includes money for the the C-17 cargo plane or an alternative engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, which the military doesn't want.

"As I told the Senate Appropriations Committee, the defense subcommittee, this week, it would be a very serious mistake to believe that the president would not veto a bill that has the C-17 or the alternative engine in it just because it had other provisions that the president and the administration want," Gates said. Asked if he thought the president would veto the bill even if it meant vetoing DADT repeal, Gates said, "I think so."

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