TPM News

With Christmas just around the corner, leave it up to those jolly little elves on the curvy couch to remind us all that this is actually a very dangerous time of year.

The Friends were filled with holiday cheer this morning as they reminded us all that the government will make things worse next year. And the best thing you can do this Christmas? Buy insurance!

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The recall signatures have not yet been filed against Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) -- but he is already running a heavy TV advertising campaign, fighting out the election that is yet to be officially triggered.

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports:

At the outset of Wisconsin's historic recall fight, GOP Gov. Scott Walker and his allies are outspending the other side on television by a margin of roughly 4-to-1, an advantage he's expected to maintain in the weeks ahead.

The governor has already aired more than $1 million in broadcast ads since he hit the airwaves in mid-November, according to the ad-tracking firm Kantar Media CMAG.

When you include cable ads and time bought for spots that haven't aired yet, Walker's TV spending easily exceeds $2 million, according to two political sources tracking media buys.

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The Des Moines Register reports:

Michele Bachmann, in one of her last campaign stops before the Christmas break, blasted the extension of the payroll tax cut.

“This is a reason why I’m running for president, because D.C. is obviously broken. They’re not listening to the people here in Iowa. People in Iowa have said to me, ‘Why in the world would the politicians take money out of the Social Security trust fund, just when it needs it more than ever?’”

Asked if her House Republican colleagues “caved” by agreeing to a payroll tax extension, Bachmann said she’s been warning them for a year not to go down this road. She said taking $111 billion out of the Social Security trust will only add to the national debt. “It was a mistake a year ago, and it’s a mistake today,” she said.

Ron Paul's campaign tells TPM that the presidential candidate did not write a signed direct mail piece in 1993 aimed at attracting subscribers to his newsletter by warning of a "coming race war" and a "federal-homosexual cover-up on AIDS."

"Dr. Paul did not write that mail piece and disavows its content," spokesman Jesse Benton said in an e-mail.

Earlier, Paul's Iowa chair Drew Ivers told Reuters, who first posted the direct mail piece online, that Paul took responsibility for content bearing his signature even if he likely does not "embrace" some of the letter's more extreme views. But Benton said that Ivers was not in a position to comment.

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Michele Bachmann on Friday announced a series of television, radio and web ads that will run in Iowa ahead of the Jan. 3 caucuses. The ads feature testimonials from voters at Bachmann’s various appearances across the state of Iowa. Watch the ads:

This fall, Bob Vander Plaats had discussions with campaigns about getting money to promote his endorsement, and Santorum, who received the endorsement, had been approached about the issue. It’s not clear if anything illegal happened, but a progressive non-profit called Progress Iowa is circulating a petition to the FEC to investigate the matter.

Updated at 10:57 AM First it was the racist newsletters. Now it's the direct mail advertising them. In a signed appeal to potential subscribers in 1993, Ron Paul urged people to read his publications in order to prepare for a "race war," military rule, and a conspiracy to use a new $100 bill to track Americans.

The eight-page mailer obtained by Reuters via Jamie Kirchick, who unearthed Paul's newsletter archives in 2008, is mostly focused on a rambling conspiracy theory about changes to the dollar. But Paul tries to bolster his credibility on the issue by noting that his newsletters have also "laid bare the the coming race war in our big cities" as well as the "federal-homosexual coverup on AIDS," adding that "my training as a physician helps me see through this one." He also condemns the "demonic fraternity" Skull and Bones, a Yale secret society that "includes George Bush and leftist Senator John Kerry, Congress's Mr. New Money," and "the Israeli lobby that plays Congress like a cheap harmonica."

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The end of the payroll tax cut standoff couldn't have been more different from the heat of it: quick, noiseless, drama free.

Without a single objection, the House and Senate passed a two-month extension of the payroll tax cut -- a bill that very closely mirrored the compromise House Republicans had roundly rejected just one week ago. There wasn't even a recorded vote.

It would be a huge mistake, though, to treat Friday's smooth sailing as a harbinger of the payroll tax fight to come.

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