TPM News

A White House official tells TPM that the White House believes the incident today on a Northwest Airlines flight in which a passenger reportedly tried to detonate an explosive device was an attempted act of terrorism.

Earlier, Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton made the following announcement about the incident:

The President was notified of the incident this morning between 9:00 and 9:30 Hawaii time by the President's military aide. The President subsequently convened a secure conference call with John Brennan, his Homeland Security and Counter-terrorism Adviser, and Denis McDonough, NSS Chief of Staff. He asked to arrange a subsequent secure call and in that call instructed that all appropriate measures be taken to increase security for air travel. The President is actively monitoring the situation and receiving regular updates. There is currently no change to his schedule.


Late Update: Aides also say that Obama appreciates the actions of the crew and the passengers.

The Department of Homeland Security said in a statement there may be new screening procedures in place this weekend, though the threat level will remain unchanged.

Officials are not disclosing the specific measures.


Almost there! Sens. Max Baucus, Harry Reid and Chris Dodd approach the podium to speak after the Senate voted Christmas Eve morning to pass health care reform. The bill will now be merged with the House bill and must survive another series of votes before making it to the President's desk.

Newscom/Sipa Press




President Obama speaks briefly following the vote. "These are no small reforms," he said, adding that the bill is the biggest social legislation since Social Security, and the biggest health care legislation since Medicare.

Newscom/UPI




The ailing but cheerful Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV) arrives to vote on health care. "This is for my friend, Ted Kennedy. Aye," he said.

Newscom/Roll Call Pix




Rep. John Dingell (D-MI), the House's longest serving member, arrives at Capitol Hill. He said he was there to thank his colleagues for the vote.

Newscom/UPI




A handful of anti-reform protesters stand outside in the pre-dawn cold.

Newscom/Roll Call Pix




Vice President Biden looks on while Obama thanks senators for passing the bill. Biden, in his constitutional capacity as president of the Senate, presided over the vote Thursday morning.

Newscom/Sipa Press




Sens. Dick Durbin, Chuck Schumer, Max Baucus and Harry Reid prepare for their press conference.

Newscom/Sipa Press




Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) relaxes after the vote as he chats with a legislative aide about the upcoming recess.

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Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) chat before the Senate vote.

Newscom/Roll Call Pix

In the first weekly YouTube address since the passage of health care reform in the Senate President Obama didn't address the issue, taking time instead to offer season's greetings to U.S. troops stationed overseas.

First Lady Michelle Obama joined him in the video for the first time and they talked about ways Americans can give back through national service.

"To all our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen--I have no greater honor than serving as your Commander in Chief," Obama said.

The White House also announced that Obama phoned 10 service members in Iraq and Afghanistan - two from each of the five military branches.

Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) took the same tack in the GOP's weekly address, but he found some time for partisanship along with the good wishes for America's fighting men and women.

"[L]et's resolve in the new year to end misguided efforts to create new laws that will cost even more jobs, whether it's the "cap and trade" national energy tax, the government takeover of health care, "card check," or even more tax increases," Hunter said after expressing his "hope we all take time to offer thanks and prayers to the men and women of our Armed Forces."

Watch both addresses after the jump.

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Further details have emerged about the banning of undesirable reporters from the Sarah Palin book tour event in Palin's hometown of Wasilla, after Alaska-based photojournalist and videographer Dennis Zaki found himself on the list.

We reported that Zaki was turned away from Palin's homecoming event in Alaska on Tuesday. Zaki checked in at the media window with a blogger friend, and they were told they had to leave. "They were anxious to get us out the door quickly," blogger Jesse Griffin told TPMmuckraker. The two men didn't fight the decision.

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Who wouldn't want Franni Franken's recipe for butternut squash?

Politicians have long sent out holiday cards fraught with meaning or smacking of reelection desires.

But with technology getting better every year, the offerings have improved to be a bit zanier, and a lot more personal.

From the Franken family's list of Thanksgiving favorites to posed photos, TPMDC collected a random sample of the funniest, wackiest and sweetest political holiday greetings we've seen so far and we're sharing them with you below.

If you've seen some we've missed, let us know and we'll post them this week.

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In a gaggle this afternoon with reporters, White House Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton told reporters that President Obama will continue to work on health care reform during his holiday vacation in Hawaii - and that Nancy-Ann DeParle, the director of the Office of Health Reform, will be pretty busy, too.

"The President was of course closely tracking the vote and as he said, was very pleased with the result," said Burton. "He's been involved throughout this process working with members of the House and the Senate; White House staff has been working with their staffs and you can imagine we're going to continue to work with those folks as we go forward to ensure that we get this historic health care reform done for the American people. "But, as you can imagine, even though it's the holiday season I think things besides sugar plums are going to be dancing in the heads of people like Nancy-Ann."

Burton added shortly afterward: "And so we've got two bills, one in the House, one in the Senate, they're 95 percent similar. We're going to be actively working to iron out the rest of the differences and get a bill passed and signed."

As we reported today, the administration's health care team will have talks with the Congressional leadership as early as next week.

When we began following Orly Taitz's Birther litigation back in September, we never thought we'd end up with her cell phone [on speed dial](http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2009/10/birther_orly_taitz_responds_to_judges_20k_fine_sho.php).

Well, it turned out to be the beginning of a beautiful relationship. But the last year (OK, fine, half year) has been full of bumps and setbacks for the attorney/dentist who is the country's most prominent purveyor of the conspiracy theory that President Obama is not a natural born U.S. citizen.

Here, in chronological order, are some of the low points of Taitz's year:

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It's been quite a year, readers. We began with the inauguration of President Barack Obama, the climax of TPM's two years worth of reporting on the election, and the news hasn't stopped since.

So now, on the eve of a new year -- an election year! -- that promises more and more news, we want to take a look back at our readers' most favorite stories of the year, as measured by page views.

We've seen scandals national and local, sexy and greedy and strange; we've seen outright lies repeated with conviction; we've seen racism and "your mom" jokes. Two of these stories are about Sarah Palin's fibs, two are Senate smackdowns and one is just plain adorable.

Without further ado, our 10 most clicked, looked, read and ogled stories of 2009:

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Rep. Parker Griffith, the Alabama Congressman who switched from the Democrats to the Republicans this week, is now being denounced by none other than a statewide Republican elected official in his home state.

The Huntsville Times reports that State Treasurer Kay Ivey, who is also a candidate for governor, is openly doubting Griffith's sincerity: "Political self-preservation isn't a virtue. In fact, political expediency is an insult to every grassroots activist who commits untold hours in devotion to getting candidates elected."

Griffith is already facing challengers in the Republican primary, and some big-name conservative activists are calling for his defeat. In previous years of his political career, Griffith had declared that he was for "health care for all of the citizens," and he'd also donated to Howard Dean and Harry Reid. So some people aren't taking seriously his protest that the "far-left" Democratic Party wasn't welcoming him.

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With Democratic senators united on the health care bill today, their campaign arm has settled on an attack plan for 2010: Republicans would "repeal" it if they win control.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, aggressively challenging incumbent GOP senators and vying for open seats, will paint the Republicans as only interested in obstructing.

The DSCC blasted releases to local press out saying Republican Senators are standing "in the way" of giving health care to their constituents. Each one is customized, so for example, they say Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) "Stands In The Way Of Providing Health Care To 1.7 Million North Carolinians." "Once this bill is signed into law, will Burr pledge to rollback this landmark health care reform which will have afforded coverage to 1.7 million North Carolinians, brought down costs for families and small businesses, ended appalling insurance practices, and lowered the deficit? That is a precarious political position to be in," the DSCC charges.

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