TPM News

Sen. Al Franken's (D-MN) wife Franni has been taking an active role in his Senate office and in Minnesota politics, the Star-Tribune reports in a new profile of her -- and could be making some very unlikely friends along the way:

Franni Franken has also begun to explore the political side as well as the policy and will co-host a fundraiser this month for Tarryl Clark, a state senator seeking the DFL endorsement in a race to unseat Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann.

But when Franken found herself this summer sitting on an airplane next to Bachmann, the two bonded unexpectedly over a love of good deals and spent the plane ride swapping local bargain spots.

The 13 servicemen and women killed last week at Fort Hood, Texas, were honored today with a memorial service at the base.

President Obama addressed the crowd, telling the friends and family of those killed, "Your loved ones endure through the life of our nation."

"Their memory will be honored in the places they lived and by the people they touched," he said. "Their life's work is our security, and the freedom that we too often take for granted. Every evening that the sun sets on a tranquil town; every dawn that a flag is unfurled; every moment that an American enjoys life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness - that is their legacy."

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Yesterday, the conservative author of the new book Muslim Mafia, the foreword of which was penned by Rep. Sue Myrick (R-NC), explicitly called for a "professional and legal backlash against the Muslim community and their leaders" in response to the Fort Hood shootings.

So last night, we called Myrick's office to see if she had a response to Dave Gaubatz's remarks, given that his book, with her foreword, was released just last month. Since then, Myrick and three other House Republicans have cited the book as the source of their calls for a probe of Muslim intern "spies" in Congress.

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After an hour-long lunch with the Senate Democratic caucus, former President Bill Clinton found himself surrounded by dozens of reporters, and summarized his message as one of the urgency of action. "The worst thing to do is nothing," Clinton said of the party's health care reform push. "We can do so much better."

As they emerged from the lunch one by one, a number of senators echoed this rendering.

"His message was very simply it is so important that this be done, that there are so many people, I think 30 percent of the population he said at one point or another, don't have any health care coverage," Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) told TPMDC, "and so the ability to fix the problem is really upon us."

"He made clear that this is a once in a lifetime opportunity," she added, noting that Clinton did not directly address the politically divisive policy aspects of reform--abortion, the public option--in his presentation.

To members who are facing tough re-election races next year (such as fellow Arkansas native Blanche Lincoln) Clinton's message was equally simple: "You're going to do it, and then people are going to begin to see that none of the bad things that people are talking about will come to pass, essentially," Feinstein said.

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Former President Bill Clinton had a message for the Democratic caucus after he met this afternoon with Senate Democrats about health care.

TPMDC's Brian Beutler reports that Clinton shared his message to the caucus with reporters after the meeting: "The worst thing to do is nothing...We can do so much better."

President Obama will address the memorial service at Fort Hood, Texas, this afternoon. Here are his full remarks, as prepared for delivery and released by the White House:

We come together filled with sorrow for the thirteen Americans that we have lost; with gratitude for the lives that they led; and with a determination to honor them through the work we carry on.

This is a time of war. And yet these Americans did not die on a foreign field of battle. They were killed here, on American soil, in the heart of this great American community. It is this fact that makes the tragedy even more painful and even more incomprehensible.

For those families who have lost a loved one, no words can fill the void that has been left. We knew these men and women as soldiers and caregivers. You knew them as mothers and fathers; sons and daughters; sisters and brothers.

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Last week, during a Rules Committee meeting on the health care bill, Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) angered a lot of people when he implied it's OK to charge women more for health insurance, comparing them to smokers. Now, his Democratic challenger is trying to cash in on the outrage.

First, what happened: At the meeting, Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) had been railing against gender discrimination in insurance pricing when Sessions interjected, "But that's not against the law."

"No, but we would make it against the law," Pallone responded. "Why do you have a problem with that? Why should a woman pay more than a man?"

"Well, we're all different," Sessions said. "Why should a smoker pay more?"

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The Sunday firings of executives at the Washington Times and the possible exit of its top editor are apparently being driven more than previously known by last month's transfer of power of the Unification Church and associated business empire from Rev. Sun Myung Moon to his children.

A newsroom source familiar with church politics tells TPM that the root of the shakeup at the Washington Times is a feud between Hyung-jin Moon, 30, and Hyun-jin Moon, 40, also known as Preston, both U.S.-educated sons of church Father Rev. Sun Myung Moon. The church announced in early October -- in an exclusive given, notably, to the Associated Press not the Washington Times -- that day-to-day operations were being handed over to Preston, Hyung-jin, and a third son.

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A leading Tea Party activist is launching a political action committee to back candidates who run on a limited-government platform -- perhaps the most serious effort yet to to channel the Tea Partiers' grassroots energy toward electoral politics.

Eric Odom, a conservative online organizer who played a key role in sparking the original Tea Party movement this spring, is unveiling Liberty First PAC. The goal, said Odom in an interview with TPMmuckraker, is to raise $1 million to defeat incumbents who supported health-care reform -- which he called "very dangerous to the fabric of this country" -- and to elect a new crop of lawmakers committed to small-government principles in 2010.

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Rep. Tom Perriello (D-VA), a freshman Democrat from a swing district who voted for the health care bill, is already seeing heated demonstrations back home.

Perriello's Danville office was the site of a protest organized by Americans For Prosperity, along with a counter-demonstration by health care bill supporters. The Danville News reports that the AFPers seriously outnumbered the pro-Perriello crowd: A margin of about 70 on one side, to five or six on the other.

Here's a video from the local ABC affiliate:

Late Update: The pro-Perriello demonstrators, the Virginia Organizing Project, maintain that there were in fact about 80 people on their own side, not the mere five or six that the local paper says. Here's a YouTube video, recorded by VOP volunteer Sho Dianat:

Late Late Update: It has come to our attention that this second video is from a set of demonstrations at Perriello's Charlottesville office, not the Danville office as we'd initially believed. We regret the error.