TPM News

The Washington Times announced today that its last Sunday edition will be published Dec. 27, and the paper, which does not have a Saturday edition, will shift to a Monday-Friday publication schedule.

The decision comes a few weeks after the newspaper announced it is cutting at least 40 percent of its staff.

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Asked by Newsweek how he feels about the unrelenting stream of barbs from Dick Cheney, Attorney General Eric Holder told the magazine, "There's a part of me that doesn't really believe that he believes what he's saying."

In the new interview, Holder also says he doesn't understand Cheney's criticism, seeming to suggest that the former vice president is more supportive of the Obama Administration's policies than he will admit publicly.

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Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL) is under pressure from conservatives to explain his moderate positions as he moves to the right in hopes of winning them over for his Senate bid.

The shift was captured last week in a debate hosted by the Chicago Tribune editorial board.

The short video below, spliced from the hourlong debate by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, captures contender Patrick Hughes calling Kirk out for voting first for a cap-and-trade bill and then against it.

"How can you have two reasons for doing something?" Hughes asks. "How come your reason changed, congressman, from 'We need to do this' to 'It's in the interest of my district' when neither of them are true."

Kirk's response, "I know my district far better than you."

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Mary Matalin lobbed some rhetorical bombs on CNN yesterday when she repeatedly compared health care reform supporters to "jihadists."

In reference to the Democrats' efforts to expand health care coverage for millions of Americans, Matalin said "they've been on this jihad for 70 years." She surmised that while "two-thirds of the country don't want [reform]...one-third of these jihadists, these health care jihadists, do."

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The American Medical Association today endorsed the Senate health care reform bill.

The organization's president-elect, Cecil Wilson, spoke at a press conference with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and other Senate Democrats.

"After close and careful review, the AMA is pleased to announce its support for passage of the amended health system reform bill," Wilson said.

He said the AMA supports several "key benefits" in the bill, including "improvements in choice and access" and the elimination of denials for pre-existing conditions.

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In the latest example of RNC Chair Michael Steele attempting to tie his party to the Tea Party movement, Steele rhetorically out tea-partied a movement leader, Dick Armey, on a conference call the two shared this morning.

"I'm tired of this congress thumbing their nose and flipping the bird at the people of this country," Steele said during one of his many rants that sounded like it could have come from the podium at at tea party rally. He wielded the angry vehemence and promises to get revenge commonplace among tea partiers during the health care debate to set the stage for the GOP next year. "I intend to have my foot on the throat of the Democrats on this issue [health care reform]," Steele said.

For his part, Armey was the calmer one on the call, though welcomed Steele's passion and told reporters that he has a "clear sense" that Steele "wants to lead the party back to being the the champion" of the values tea partiers hold dear.

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Apparently not all Republicans think the most fruitful use of their time is delaying a final vote on health care reform. Early this afternoon, Republicans filed into a caucus meeting just off the Senate floor to discuss whether it makes sense to require Democrats to run out the clock, as is their right under Senate rules, or to cede back some time so that members can go home early.

Filing in, though, Republicans I spoke with seemed to think it would be best to stick around for the long haul.

Among Republicans, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) has been the most adamant that the minority use all of the tools at its disposal--maximize the number of filibusters, and make sure they last as long as possible--to delay (or forestall) a final vote.

In a brief interview with TPMDC, Coburn said he will make sure the Senate stays in session until the last possible moment. "No, there's no chance," he told me.

Coburn said he would object if Democrats asked for unanimous consent to hold health care votes in more rapid succession.

Complicating factors for members is that they have to hold a vote, before the year is out, on raising the country's debt ceiling. If Republicans refuse to cede back time on health care, that vote will have to happen next week, after a very brief Christmas break. But Coburn says he's going to force the issue.

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Yesterday, in an appearance on CNN's State of the Union, Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) pushed back at critics who say he has enjoyed the spotlight he has received for being one of the longest hold-outs on health care reform. 'I don't think that's accurate at all,' Nelson said, adding that he did not 'create the opportunity to be the 60th vote.'

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December 20, 2009: First dog Bo Obama plays in the snow on the North Lawn of the White House. The mid-Atlantic was hit by a major snow storm over the weekend, dumping more than 16 inches of snow on the nation's capital.

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It looks like the Obama Administration just can't quit the company formerly known as Blackwater.

A Xe official told the Commission on Wartime Contracting Friday that the company has contracts for security as well as for training Afghan police and a "drug interdiction unit." Xe is also in the running for more work in Afghanistan. The comments of Xe Vice President Fred Roitz were first reported by the Virginia Pilot.

It's been a difficult year for Xe, with several former guards facing manslaughter charges over the shootings in Baghdad's Nisour Square that left 17 civilians dead, and company founder Erik Prince declaring he plans to leave the business.

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