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I just spoke with Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL), and he stood by his "Names of the Dead" Web site, which is meant to memorialize the people who have lost their lives because they didn't have health insurance -- and which was promptly flooded with joke names, and criticized by the GOP for allegedly violating campaign finance law.

Grayson said that the site is being done in the spirit of other great memorials that are all around Washington -- to honor the dead who have lost their lives for a lack of insurance, and to make people think about the issue.

"I can't really tell you how I first got the idea for it. But I can tell you there are many memorials that are very moving. They're all around D.C., and everyone who visits D.C. gives some thought to the people we lost," said Grayson. "And I think this is a very fitting way to show these people that we respect them and we miss them. We miss them, and we love them. The people who are gone because they didn't get the health care they needed are just as important as everyone else. And the fact that certain elements of the political spectrum deny their existence only makes it that much more important that we remember them by naming them and honoring them."

"I meant what I said in my floor speech," Grayson also said, explaining: "That the best way to honor them is to make sure that everyone in America has the health care they need, and that the list itself, the need for the list, is a thing of the past."

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If the Florida Senate race wasn't already exciting enough, Democrats are now suggesting the latest candidate to join the fight is part of a bizarre plot to derail Rep. Kendrick Meek (D) run by the GOP (and/or Big Sugar).

Maurice Ferre, a former Miami mayor, has not won an election since 1993 and left his last political office three years later. But on Oct. 7 he decided to enter the Democratic primary for senate, where he faces an uphill climb against a well-funded and nationally-backed Meek, who had all but cleared the Democratic field months before Ferre got in. Ferre hasn't had to reveal fundraising numbers yet, but he's hired an experienced campaign team that suggests he's prepared to give Meek a serious fight. That would throw a monkey wrench into Meek's campaign machinery, which cleared the field of Dems months ago and is now geared up for the general election.

A growing number of conspiracy theorists say that's exactly why Ferre's a candidate.

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Earlier today, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) told me something somewhat unexpected. "I'm looking very much now at this opt out public option," he said, "not opt in but opt out--so you start out with a public option, and if you don't like it you can opt out....that has a sense of freedom."

Why unexpected? Because here's what he told me just last week: "I don't start out favoring that," he said. "You know, opt out is sort of like trigger. It sounds good, it makes people feel good, but the question is, Is it good? And I don't think it really is. If it's the only way you can get the votes, then that's a decision that will have to be made over my head."

That's a pretty notable change, and reflective of the political appeal of the opt-out proposal within the Democratic party. Rockefeller and other senators have come to believe that, in addition to being more likely to get the votes needed to pass in the Senate, it's also a policy fix that will have almost, if not the same, impact as a fully national public option.

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Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) has released a letter he sent today to the Justice Department calling for an investigation into the possible politicization of the U.S. attorney's office in New Jersey in the service of Chris Christie's campaign for governor.

In the letter to Mary Patrice Brown, who runs DOJ's internal ethics unit, Lautenberg, the chair of the Jon Corzine campaign, focuses on ties between Christie, a Republican, and his former top aide Michele Brown, which Lautenberg says raise "serious concerns." We laid out many of those ties here.

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On October 20, President Obama welcomed the entire Alpha Troop, 1st Squadron, 11th Armored Cavalry (known as the Blackhorse Unit) to the White House to honor the unit's service in Vietnam with the presentation of the Presidential Unit Citation. In March 1970, the Alpha Troop received a communication that another unit, Charlie Company, had come upon an underground bunker of North Vietnamese troops and were facing some 400 enemy fighters. The Alpha Troop's captain gave the order to "Saddle up and move out," and the Blackhorse Unit went on to rescue the 100 Charlie Company soldiers. In his remarks, President Obama said that "I cannot imagine a more fitting tribute to these men, who fought in what came to be called The Anonymous Battle. Troopers, you are not anonymous anymore. And with America's overdue recognition also comes responsibility -- our responsibility as citizens and as a nation, to always remain worthy of your service." Here, military uniform hats are checked in the White House before the presentation.

Official White House Photo By Samantha Appleton




Participants walk to the Rose Garden for the presentation.

Official White House Photo By Lawrence Jackson




President Obama makes his remarks before presenting the Blackhorse Unit with the Presidential Unit Citation.

Newscom/Zuma Red West




Members of the Blackhorse Unit stand behind President Barack Obama during the presentation. Eighty-six Alpha Troop veterans attended the ceremony.

Official White House Photo By Lawrence Jackson




President Barack Obama greets members of Alpha Troop.

Official White House Photo By Lawrence Jackson




Medals are displayed on Sgt. Earl W. Fleming's uniform during the ceremony. Fleming is a retired platoon sergeant from the Blackhorse Unit, and served in Vietnam from 1967-70.

Official White House Photo By Lawrence Jackson




Sgt. Fleming, left, and Sgt. Charles Ezell are reunited in the White House Rose Garden after 39 years.

Official White House Photo By Lawrence Jackson




The attendants applaud President Obama at the conclusion of the ceremony.

Official White House Photo By Pete Souza

Liz Cheney appeared on Sean Hannity's TV show last night, and had some very tough things to say about the Obama administration's public feuding with Fox News.

Cheney said that David Axelrod and Rahm Emanuel were sending a "clear warning" against other networks: "It's clear censorship, and it's, in my view, abuse of power from the White House."

As for why the Obama administration has it in for Fox, Cheney said: "They became accustomed to an environment where they just got a lot of adoration, and they don't like to be challenged. And Fox News has sure been, you know, at the top of the list of those asking the hard questions."

She may have a point about a White House being accustomed to an environment of adoration and not being challenged. This would explain why the Bush-Cheney White House liked Fox News so much.

In a bitter internecine feud that is creating serious divisions in the Tea Party movement, David McKalip -- the Florida doctor and health-care reform foe who got in hot water this summer after forwarding a racist picture showing President Obama as a witch doctor -- appears to have sided with a group run by GOP consultants, rather than with his former grassroots allies.

In an email to fellow members of the Tea Party Patriots, sent yesterday and obtained by TPMmuckraker, Texas-based activist Gerald Merits wrote that he has been "approached by a neurosurgeon very active in the movement in Florida asking for me to get involved with the Tea Party Express because the Tea Party Patriots just don't seem to get it."

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