TPM News

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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Quick, look at this while you still have power. Google has whipped up a Hurricane Irene tracker in Google Maps.

The tracker contains several additional, customizable layers of useful data aside from the path of the hurricane itself, including weather radar, cloud imagery, evacuation routes from the Highway Safety Improvement Program, storm surge probabilities, among others.

The app came from the furious fingers of Google's Crisis Response Team, a part of Google's charity, Google.org. The Crisis Response team has created web tools for victims, loved ones and emergency respondents going back to Cyclone Nagris in 2008.

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The FBI has secretly arrested a now 17-year-old boy who allegedly conspired in a terrorism plot with Colleen "Jihad Jane" LaRose two years ago, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

Family members told the newspaper that the boy, who had been headed to John Hopkins University on a full scholarship this fall, was questioned by the FBI without a parent or lawyer present at least eight times.

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While the East Coast braces itself for the ravages of Hurricane Irene this weekend, a tempest of another kind will be building in Texas.

Texas Gov. Ricky Perry is attending a Christian "call to action" retreat for top donors at the Texas Hill Country ranch of one of his biggest patrons and political supporters, prominent San Antonio doctor and hospital-bed magnate James Leininger.

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Republican Presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich's decision to make a run for the nomination has cost some Americans their jobs.

The Center for Public Integrity's Peter H. Stone breaks the news that the political group American Solutions for Winning the Future is a thing of the past. The 527 group, which raised $52 million in the four years since Gingrich founded it, closed its K Street offices and laid off its final six employees early last month.

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To complete a week of good news for Tex. Gov. Rick Perry, in which polls found him leading nationally and in Iowa for the GOP presidential nod little over a week after he began campaigning, a new poll released on Friday now shows him ahead of the pack in South Carolina, with another lead outside the margin of error.

Perry captures 31 percent of the GOP primary voters surveyed, with former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney in second with 20 percent, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) at 14, businessman Herman Cain at 9, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich at 5, Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) at 4, with former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum and former Gov. Jon Huntsman both at 2.

The Texas governor is the most favorably viewed candidate in the race, with 61 percent viewing him that way against 17. Some of the candidates actually have underwater favorability ratings within the GOP electorate, including Gingrich, Paul, Santorum, and especially Jon Huntsman, who registers only a 9 percent favorability rating against a whopping 44 percent with an unfavorable view.

Gallup also revealed new information on Friday that showed Perry is really catching on with Tea Party supporters nationally, data which is reflected in the new South Carolina poll. Perry gets 37 percent of Tea Party supporters, double the next closest candidate, Bachmann.

The poll was conducted and sponsored by Magellan Strategies, and uses 637 automated interviews with likely South Carolina GOP primary voters. It was conducted from August 22nd -23rd and has a sampling error of 3.88 percent.

Friday saw the release of the official documents in the investigation of the alleged physical altercation at the Wisconsin Supreme Court -- in which liberal Justice Ann Walsh Bradley accused conservative Justice David Prosser of grabbing her neck in a chokehold during an argument. A special prosecutor announced Thursday that no charges would be filed.

The event occurred on June 13, during an argument over the court's decision to uphold Gov. Scott Walker's anti-public employee union legislation, with Prosser in the court's 4-3 conservative majority and Bradley in the liberal minority, along with Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson. Prosser wanted to release the court's decision quickly, at the urging of the state legislature, but Abrahamson disagreed. Prosser and Abrahamson argued over the matter at Bradley's office, with Prosser just outside the door, and Bradley and Abrahamson inside the office itself. Prosser has maintained that Bradley "charged" at him, and he then put up his own hands as a reflex action, briefly making contact with her neck.

Even skimming the papers, which have been posted online by the Wisconsin State Journal, they reveal a detailed portrait of a court that is deeply dysfunctional, breaking down into personal factions along partisan lines.

During the court's initial meeting with Capitol Police Chief Charles Tubbs, conservative Justice Patience Roggensack told Bradley that she did not condone Prosser's actions during the altercation, but also said "Ann you do realize you goad him." Also, in their later separate interviews with law enforcement, Prosser and his fellow conservative Justices Annette Ziegler and Michael Gableman all described Abrahamson and Bradley as having a "mother/daughter" relationship.

On the other side, Bradley has had growing concerns about her safety and Abrahamson's. Bad relationships have been building up on the court over a long period of time, most notably in a February 2010 incident in which Prosser told Abrahamson "you are a bitch," and also added: "There will be a war against you and it will not be a ground war."

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