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A heavy-hitting conservative public relations firm that flacked for Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and boasts an impressive array of right-wing clients is now helping Gerald Walpin, who was fired this summer by President Obama as the inspector general for AmeriCorps.

Creative Response Concepts Public Relations (CRC) is representing Walpin, a secretary who answered the phone at the company confirmed to TPMmuckraker today.

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Don't call Hi Caliber a Republican rapper.

He prefers conservative hip hop artist, and has lent his rhyme to the tea party movement.

Cal, who wouldn't give his full name because he says he's been threatened by "liberals," starred in a FreedomWorks-produced video called "Patriotic People."

He rhymes: "Politicians need the truth, it will set you free, and I hope you paid attention to the march on D.C. ...Liberalism is like a cancerous tumor, just look at Harry Reid, Pelosi and Chuck Schumer."

TPMDC caught up with Cal, 34, a resident of the Jersey Shore.

"I am not a fan of Bush, and I'm not a rank and file Republican. I'm a conservative," he said.

Cal said he meets Democrats and Libertarians at the tea parties, and said it's unfair for liberals to call the group racist or redneck.

"I support the tea party movement because I feel they are the only people in the America who are not following lock-step, rank-and-file one of the political parties," he said.

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The absentee ballot count is nearly completed in the NY-23 special election, with the new Democratic Rep. Bill Owens on track to gain votes in the process.

With only 813 ballots left to be counted, the Watertown Daily Times has Owens ahead by 3,398 votes over Conservative Party nominee Doug Hoffman, with an Owens lead of 253 votes within the absentees themselves.

The early absentee figures had given a mistaken impression of Hoffman gaining, because they had come mainly from counties that Hoffman carried on election day. The remaining ballots are more than not from pro-Owens counties, so he could potentially expand his lead a little bit further.

Owens was sworn in two weeks ago, after Hoffman had conceded the election. The correction of routine clerical errors, however, narrowed Owens' margin from 5,000 votes to about 3,000, leading Hoffman to take back his concession. Wednesday night, Hoffman charged that the election was stolen: "ACORN, the unions and Democratic Party were scared, and that's why they tampered with the ballots of voters in NY-23."

A billboard on a car lot in Wheat Ridge, Colo., is displaying a somewhat cryptic message: "President Or Jihad?"

The billboard, which shows a cartoon President Obama in a turban, also says, "PROVE IT! Wake up America! Remember Ft. Hood!"

The message replaces one that read, "Where's the birth certificate?," which was supported by radio host Peter Boyle and right-wing site World Net Daily. The owner of the lot, Phil Wolf, donated the space.

Reached by TPM, Wolf Interstate Leasing & Sales general manager Wayne Means said the billboard is "self explanatory."

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November 18: Sarah Palin greets a fan at a Barnes & Noble in Grand Rapids, Mich. Palinkicked off her book tour for "Going Rogue: An American Life" and will continue onto Iowa, Indiana, Florida, South Dakota and other spots around the country, sticking mostly to the landlocked states.

Newscom/Rashaun Rucker/Detroit Free Press

Paul McCartney, Grace Kelly, and...Sarah Palin? The Barnes & Noble in Grand Rapids displays recent releases.

Newscom/UPI/John Angelillo

Fans line up for the book-signing.

Newscom/Robin Buckson/ Detroit News / PSG

Flying off the shelves.

Newscom/Robin Buckson/ Detroit News / PSG

Nukes, moose and the Liberty Bell: Joe Forrester hands out Palin Power bumper stickers outside the Barnes & Noble in Grand Rapids.

Newscom/Robin Buckson/ Detroit News / PSG

The author herself! Palin greets fans.

Newscom/Robin Buckson/ Detroit News / PSG

Palin speaks briefly to fans and the media outside Barnes & Noble.

Newscom/Robin Buckson/ Detroit News / PSG

The "Going Rogue" tour bus.

Newscom/UPI/Brian Kersey

November 19: Next stop, Noblesville, Ind.! Here, Palin signs books in a Borders in Noblesville Town Center.

Newscom/Charlie Nye/ Indianapolis Star / PSG

Lining up.

Newscom/Sam Riche/ Indianapolis Star / PSG

Newscom/Charlie Nye/ Indianapolis Star / PSG

The Tea Party Patriots just issued an urgent plea to followers across the country in advance of tomorrow's procedural vote on a health care reform package in the Senate. The group is calling on Tea Partiers across the country to "Converge on the Capitol" tomorrow at 1 p.m. for yet another protest rally opposing reform.

"It's not too late to kill the bill," the Tea Party Patriots "National Coordinator Team" wrote in an email sent to supporters this afternoon.

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Several conservative Democrats have signaled they will vote with the party to bring the health care bill to the Senate floor for debate, but Sen. Mary Landrieu is still on the fence.

TPMDC's Brian Beutler is on the scene at the Department of Health and Human Services, where Landrieu (D-LA) joined an Adoption Day event. "I haven't made a final decision, because I literally have been...reading the bill, and that's going to continue 'til about 6 or 7 tonight, and then after I have all the information in front of me I'm gonna make a final decision."

Landrieu said she had been leaning against voting "yes" on the motion to proceed until a meeting with Majority Leader Harry Reid yesterday, which tilted her into "neutral" territory.

She said she will likely release a statement regarding her final decision in the morning.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-MN) made an interesting move in a series of unilaterally-imposed budget cuts, the Star-Tribune reports, by suspending a tax-refund program that partially reimbursed small political donations -- and, it turns out, was benefitting the state Republicans much more than the Democrats.

The program gave taxpayers a $50 refund if they made a political donation of at least that amount. State records show that donors to Republicans were claiming $2.9 million in these refunds, compared to only $1.1 million in refunds claimed by Democratic donors.

Give Pawlenty some points for consistency. It appears that he isn't just against public financing of campaigns when it helps the Democrats. He's against it when it helps Republicans, too.

This morning on NPR's Morning Edition, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi blasted Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

The president of Afghanistan has proven to be an unworthy partner. We cannot fund a mission where we don't have a reliable partner and where whatever civilian investments we want to make, which are so necessary, will be diverted for a corrupt purpose.

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It's Friday, November 20, 2009, a.k.a. Day Five of Palin-Palooza 2009.

Sarah Palin's week-long book release media blitz continued last night as she went on Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor for the very first time to discuss "Going Rogue" (the book), going rogue (the lifestyle choice / McCain campaign and media accusation), and several other roguish things.

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