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This post was reported by Nick Pinto, and written by Nick Pinto and Zachary Roth

A North Carolina health insurer is facing a major backlash in the wake of its campaign to enlist customers in the fight against health-care reform.

The state's Insurance Commissioner has begun an inquiry into a mailer sent recently by Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina -- and first revealed last month by TPMmuckraker -- that urged customers to lobby Senator Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) to vote against the public option. As we reported Tuesday, the state's Attorney General has opened his own probe of a barrage of follow-up robo-calls generated by the insurer. And state lawmakers continue to express their own and their constituents' outrage at the effort, with one legislator telling TPMmuckraker that some recipients of the mailer sent it back to BCBS attached to a brick.

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The Obama family's first White House Thanksgiving was resplendent with pie.

They hosted about 50 guests, including family, friends and staff, the White House said.

The White House told the pool reporter on holiday duty that Obama's favorite Thanksgiving dishes are turkey and pumpkin pie. However, last year he told reporters his favorite dish was sweet potato pie.

Republicans used to make fun of all the times Obama would say on the campaign trail that he loves pie. In one example, he goes on and on about the pie:



Yesterday's menu after the jump.

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President Obama spoke with members of the armed services on Thanksgiving, a few days before he will be announcing an increase of more than 30,000 troops to Afghanistan.

The White House said Obama made 10 calls to troops.

He called two service members in each of the five military branches "to wish them a Happy Thanksgiving and to let them know how much Michelle and he are truly thankful for their service and sacrifice on behalf of the nation," the White House told a pool reporter on holiday duty.

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As Josh reported yesterday, Doug Hoffman is preparing a second run at the NY-23 congressional seat next year.

On his website yesterday, Hoffman laid out his reasons for deciding take on Rep. Bill Owens (D) so soon after he conceded to the freshman Representative for the second time. In short, Hoffman suggests again that the Nov. 3 special election was rigged in Owens' favor -- and then immediately apologizes to elections officials for offending them with the claim.

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White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs issued this statement on Thanksgiving:

"The United States is deeply concerned about reports of additional charges facing Kian Tajbakhsh, an Iranian-American scholar who has been detained in Iran without access to an independent lawyer since July 9, 2009. The charges against Mr. Tajbakhsh are baseless, and his original sentence on October 20 was an outrage. The Iranian government cannot earn the respect of the international community when it violates universal rights, and continues to imprison innocent people. We call on the Islamic Republic of Iran to release Mr. Tajbakhsh, and to respect the human rights of those within its borders.

Three years after Dems rode Nancy Pelosi's promise to "drain the swamp" to a congressional majority, a potentially big scandal has been simmering that threatens to cause problems for the party going into the 2010 midterms.

It's a story involving what was one of D.C.'s biggest lobbying firms (until it was raided by the Feds and closed up shop), several powerful Democratic appropriators, and the defense industry. And it appears to be considerably more serious that the allegations of financial misconduct that have dogged Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) -- allegations that have gotten the lion's share of press coverage focusing on ethical transgressions.

A federal criminal investigation has touched two House Dems, and another three, along with two Republicans, are under scrutiny by a pair of congressional ethics panels in matters related to the defunct lobbying firm, PMA Group.

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With Thanksgiving recess now upon us, it seems an appropriate time to revisit the hysterical Republican whoppers and talking points about the Democratic party agenda that have dominated this Congress. Herewith a top-five list:

Number Five: Paul Ryan Draws Line On Graph

Back in the Spring, when Democrats were putting together the federal budget, House Budget Committee ranking member Paul Ryan (R-WI) released a much-mocked Republican alternative, which would have basically canceled the stimulus and instituted a spending freeze of sorts. The ideas in the Republican alternative budget were roundly rebuked by experts, but Ryan wasn't deterred. Instead of accepting defeat, he unveiled some graphs suggesting that, under Republican budgets, spending would be restrained, while under Democratic budgets, it would blow through the roof.



Except his numbers weren't based on any analysis at all. Instead, Ryan used CBO numbers through 2018 and then drew an upward-sloping line on the graph completely at random. It didn't take long for Republicans to catch on and begin claiming that Democratic policies would make government spending half of GDP before the end of the century.

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There's a lot to be grateful for this year: We have a president who, whatever his short-comings, at least speaks in full sentences. We avoided another Great Depression. And we've always got Michael Steele to entertain us.

But here at TPM, we wanted to give thanks for something we really couldn't do without: the flood of reader tips -- inside information, documents, or even just news stories that have flown under the radar -- that help lead to so many of our biggest news breaks.

So here, in chronological order, are our Top Ten Reader Tips for the last year...

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Hell hath no fury like a conservative scorned. Or over-taxed. Or "under-freedomed" or whatever.

From the August town hall meetings to Michele Bachmann's very own Tea Party a couple of weeks ago, here's a look back at the special moments that have defined this year's right-wing protest meme.

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Here at TPM, we definitely have an eye for the weird -- and speaking for myself, I particularly enjoy the crazy stuff that right-wingers often say.

The American right often uses the rhetoric of a persecuted minority, even when they're actually in power. So having a Democrat in the White House, let alone a progressive black Democrat from Chicago named Barack Hussein Obama, has driven them to whole new heights (or lows, depending on how you count it) of rhetoric.

So let's take a look at some real stars of our current political rhetorical wars. The list is mostly Republican -- and you betchya that it was an obvious choice for the top spot -- plus one Democratic "Congressman With Guts" who gives the opposition a taste of their own medicine. We've got politicians, talk show hosts, and people who seem to be both at the same time. So sit back, and enjoy the crazy.

I'm certainly thankful to them -- for making my job a lot more interesting. If they weren't around, what would there be for me to write about?

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