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For the veterans and active duty soldiers whose service spanned World War II to Afghanistan who gathered at the Vice President's house with family and supporters in today, it was the deaths of 13 soldiers far from any battlefield took center stage.

The Nov. 5 shootings at Ft. Hood dominated the speeches at the luncheon, hosted by the Vice President and his wife. The audience included veterans, active duty servicemembers, their families and volunteers from the Veteran's Administration. Former Gen. Eric Shinseki, now the secretary of the VA, said the Ft. Hood shootings had directly touched the agency he heads. He spoke to the slayings as did Vice President Biden and his wife, Jill when it was their turn to speak. Before they ate, the crowd bowed their heads in a moment of silence for Ft. Hood.

Shinseki said the focus was more than just veterans honoring their fallen active duty brothers and sisters.

"Among the fallen and wounded at Ft. Hood are three VA employees whose national guard unit had been activated," he told the crowd.

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Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) told The Advocate today that language repealing the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy will likely be included in next year's defense authorization bill.

"'Don't ask, don't tell' was always going to be part of the military authorization," he said.

If the repeal makes it through Congress, it will go into effect Oct. 1, 2010. Frank also said that discharges under the policy could be stopped, potentially, by executive order before the law becomes effective.

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Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-MN), a potential presidential candidate, will soon be visiting the major primary state of New Hampshire, the Union Leader reports.

Pawlenty will be the keynote speaker at a December 16 fundraiser for the New Hampshire GOP's state Senate campaign PAC. Tickets will be $50, an amount that was set in order to be affordable and "to attract people from all across the state," said local GOP strategist Michael Dennehy, who is advising the PAC.

Dennehy said that Pawlenty "would be a good, new fresh face for Republicans in New Hampshire to meet and to help raise money for the Republican cause."

Hyun-jin Preston Moon, the son of Unification Church leader Rev. Sun Myung Moon who controls the Washington Times, acted without his father's blessing in firing the top leadership of the newspaper over the weekend, a Unificationist and former Times staffer who is in contact with high church officials tells TPM.

Preston's reasons for carrying out the shakeup are not clear to the source, but "one thing that is clear is that he acted alone. This is not something the Reverend Moon wanted, ever."

A newsroom source told us yesterday that Preston fired the executives, all members of the church, when they sided with his father in a feud over the doling out of Rev. Moon's religio-business empire in ways not to the liking of Preston.

Now, more details about the ongoing conflict -- which may put the future of the newspaper at risk -- are coming to light.

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Two top Bush administration officials whose reputations for strategic acumen were badly damaged by the disasters of the Bush years may be about to market their expertise to private-sector clients.

In September, the RiceHadley Group LLC was registered as a business in California, under a San Francisco address. According to a source, the venture is to be a "strategic consulting" firm, headed by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and former National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley, and will be launched imminently.

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Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) sits on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which voted way back in July to advance health care legislation to the House floor. At the time, the legislation stipulated that no federal funds authorized by the bill would be used to pay for abortions, except in cases of incest, risk to the life of the mother, and rape. And at the time, that was good enough.

But even back then, Stupak was trying to strengthen the language in the bill restricting the availability of abortion services under the House health care plan.

A day before the bill passed out of committee, Stupak co-sponsored, and voted for an amendment written by Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA)--distinct from the now notorious "Stupak amendment"--that would have limited the government's ability to include abortions in benefits plans to cases of incest, life of the mother, and forcible rape.

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Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is usually thought of as a loyal Republican in Washington -- but he has now been censured by a county Republican organization back home, for working too much with the Democrats.

The Charleston County GOP has censured Graham, citing his work with Democrats on a climate change bill as the final straw, and saying that he he has weakened the Republican brand.

County party chairwoman Lin Bennett says a similar resolution will introduced at the state GOP convention next year.

Graham need not have any immediate worries about a primary challenge. He was just re-elected last year, and won't on the ballot again until 2014.

Late Update: Greg Sargent has the full text of the censure resolution. It's fun reading, including its line about how "U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham - in the name of bipartisanship - continues to weaken the Republican brand and tarnish the ideals of freedom, rule of law, and fiscal conservatism."

The poor Washington Times. Several executives get fired, their top editor is MIA, security is beefed up, the family that owns the church that owns the paper is a mess, staffers fear for the safety of their jobs, confusion reigns and the very survival of the paper is in question.

Well, TPM has obtained a few staff e-mails sent by recently-fired publisher Tom McDevitt over the last couple years that help shed a little light on the paper's ambition -- and descent.

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Some new details on this week's turmoil at the Washington Times: A longtime staffer confirms that executive editor John Solomon is nowhere to be seen -- and that the very mention of his name brings managing editor David Jones to tears.

"No one has heard from Solomon and no one knows if he's coming back," the Times staffer tells TPM. "We ask David Jones about his status and he literally tears up."

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