Four of the six Republican state senators forced to defend their seats in a historic recall election on Tuesday emerged victorious, keeping the Wisconsin state Senate under GOP control despite a massive union-backed campaign sparked by reforms passed earlier this year. Democrats needed to win at least three of the races to gain a majority.

Two Democrat state Senators will also face voters next week in separate recall elections. But even if they win both races, Democrats will still be in a 17-to-16 minority. Republicans also still control the state Assembly and the Governor’s mansion.

Charges of vote fraud in at least one of the August 9 recall races were initially raised by Democrats. But within hours, the party backed off.

Texas Governor Rick Perry will try to take a share of the spotlight shining on the Ames Straw Poll in Iowa on Saturday and direct it to the East Coast, where the yet-undeclared presidential hopeful will be the star attraction at Republican events in two key early primary states on the same day.

Perry will speak at the RedState Gathering, a national conference of conservative bloggers, in Charleston, South Carolina, before flying on up the coast to appear at a house party on his behalf in Greenland, New Hampshire. He is expected to make clear his intention to run for President, though a formal announcement of his candidacy will take place in Texas, probably some time next week, sources told Politico.

Jon Huntsman, Jr. was barely known outside of Utah and the upper echelons of D.C. politics before his GOP candidacy received a series of big publicity boosts. But still today, Huntsman is relatively obscure — especially among the general public.

Even if he were more well known, however, the additional scrutiny might damage his campaign even more than obscurity. According to political analysts, Huntsman’s policies and record over the years would be tough to overcome in primary elections largely controlled by the GOP’s conservative base.

Setting aside the fact that he served in the Obama administration, Huntsman has a long track record of supporting political viewpoints considered unacceptable to many Tea Party activists and constitutionalists.

Former Congressman Newt Gingrich has never shied away from controversy, so the recent turmoil among his presidential campaign staff, leading to the abrupt departure of a number of his senior aides, was very much in character. At the time, the candidate whom Robert Novak of the Washington Post had once identified as a top presidential contender seemed to be dead in the water. Gingrich, however, has opted to soldier on, and while campaign funding is lagging, the toxic political climate and economic turbulence have made presidential electoral politics more uncertain than at any time in recent memory.

 

Announcing his entry into the 2012 presidential race, Gary Johnson rattled off a list of crises besetting the United States, from “record unemployment” to “loss of our nation’s industrial might.” “Why am I telling you this?” he asked, then answered: “Because America is better than this. And because I can help fix it.”

“I’m a fix-it man.”

 

The White House has informed Governors that they are forbidden from opting out of the Department of Homeland Security’s controversial Secure Communities (SComm) program. The plan mandates the cooperation of federal, state, and local law-enforcement agencies in the identification, arrest, and deportation of criminal aliens. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is the branch of DHS tasked with managing the program.

On Friday, the Department of Homeland Security informed Governors that the SComm program does not require state ratification and that it would operate in those states with or without approval of the state government. Furthermore, state executives were told that any agreements entered into by DHS with states regarding the scope of the particular state’s participation in the identification and tracking scheme were immediately null and of no legal effect.

Most Americans are aware that U.S. forces are involved in missions in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya. Those who pay closer attention to the news may know that American troops are also active in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia. But according to Nick Turse of TomDispatch.com, those six nations comprise only five percent of the total number of countries in which the Department of Defense is conducting operations. “A secret force within the U.S. military,” says Turse, “is undertaking operations in a majority of the world’s countries” — at a rate of 70 such operations per day.

This “secret force” is known as the U.S. Special Operations Command, or SOCOM. “SOCOM carries out the United States’ most specialized and secret missions,” Turse writes. “These include assassinations, counterterrorist raids, long-range reconnaissance, intelligence analysis, foreign troop training, and weapons of mass destruction counter-proliferation operations.”

The Seventh U.S. Court of Appeals ruled August 8 that two American citizens detained and tortured without trial or court hearing by the Bush-era Defense Department may sue former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

U.S. Navy veteran Donald Vance and fellow American Nathan Ertel were employed by the private U.S. government contractor Shield Group Security in 2006 outside the Baghdad green zone and witnessed the sale of U.S government munitions to Iraqi rebel groups for money and alcohol. After becoming FBI informants, the two were detained and tortured by federal officials for 97 days (Donald Vance) and six weeks (Nathan Ertel) at Camp Cropper in Iraq after contacting the FBI about corruption in the now-defunct federal contractor.

Judge David Hamilton wrote in a 2-1 appellate court decision that concluded, "The wrongdoing alleged here violates the most basic terms of the constitutional compact between our government and the citizens of this country." The district court had earlier ruled that the allegations are the kind that “shocks the conscience."

Do you think our elected leaders are crazy? You might be right.
According to the thesis of a new book, nearly every one of the great and powerful leaders of history have at least one trait in common: They were (are) mentally ill.
 
In a purposefully provocative new book entitled First-Rate Madness, Nassir Ghaemi, professor of psychiatry at Tufts University School of Medicine, claims that some of history's most noteworthy and respected leaders demonstrated signs of being mentally disturbed in one way or another.
 
Evidence of mental illness, writes Ghaemi, is not only a common thread running throughout these leaders' personalities, but it is the presence of that trait that distinguishes them in the field of public service.

Republicans and Democrats may be at loggerheads about the debt ceiling and what to cut from the budget, but they agree on one thing: It’s OK to bill the taxpayers for gourmet coffee, pricey pastries, and bottled water.

In 2010, CNSNews.com reports, then-House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and then House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) spent nearly $35,000 at a bakery and coffee supplier to keep their hard-working staff members and colleagues refreshed and ready to go at a moment’s notice.

The conservative news service looked into the disbursement reports of the U.S. House of Representatives to get the data.
 

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