TPM News

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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I just spoke with Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), who had a bit of a fractured take on the current state of the public option. He took issue with the President Obama's aloof approach to the public option, and at the same time echoed one of the administration's most controversial lines.

"They're a little difficult to fathom sometimes, to keep up with what they're doing," Rockefeller said. "They're in these meetings, all of these meetings, that I don't get to go to so I can't tell you exactly what they're saying."

But he also said something that seems a bit at odds with his consistent, emphatic support for the measure, which he has described as a necessary element of reform. "You know, the public option--which I think in the end is going to prevail--is not actually the biggest thing in the entire bill," Rockefeller told me. "I hate to hear myself say that, but it's true."

Earlier today, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY)--another ardent public option enthusiast--said much the same thing after an event heralding a plan to strip the health insurance industry of its anti-trust exemption.

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In an interview with NBC's Savannah Guthrie, President Obama said his administration may have a new strategy for the war in Afghanistan before the runoff election -- but he still may not announce it until after the results are determined.

"I think it is entirely possible that we have a strategy formulated before a runoff is determined. We may not announce it," he said.

"It is important to make sure that we understand the landscape and the partner we're gonna be dealing with," he said, because the strategy depends on civilian efforts and weeding out corruption, as well as military forces.

Part of his strategy decision includes whether to send more troops. The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, has requested 40,000 more troops.

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Sen. David Vitter's office has finally offered a comment on the Louisiana justice of the peace who refuses to marry biracial couples.

Though other statewide officials including the governor and his fellow senator called for Keith Bardwell's resignation, Vitter (R-LA) was silent.

But today a Vitter spokesman told the Washington Post the senator's sentiment on the issue.

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Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) has set up a new Web site, Names of the Dead, to memorialize Americans who died because they had no health insurance:

Every year, more than 44,000 Americans die simply because have no health insurance.

I have created this project in their memory. I hope that honoring them will help us end this senseless loss of American lives. If you have lost a loved one, please share the story of that loved one with us. Help us ensure that their legacy is a more just America, where every life that can be saved will be saved.


Grayson announced this new Web site on the House floor:

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The new survey of Maine by Public Policy Polling (D) finds that Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe is overwhelmingly popular with the state's Democrats, in the wake of her vote for the Senate Finance Committee's health care bill -- and not too well liked among Republicans.

A whopping 70% of Maine Democrats approve of Snowe's job performance, with only 17% disapproving. Republicans, by contrast, are tied at 45%-45%. Independents approve of Snowe by 51%-33%, yielding an overall top-line approval of 56%-31%.

"With less than half of Republicans approving of Olympia Snowe now it's going to be interesting to see if she's challenged from the right come 2012," said PPP president Dean Debnam, in the polling memo. "Is she going to be pushed into a corner the way Arlen Specter was where her only prospect for political survival is a party switch? It's certainly something political observers across the country will be watching."

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In an interview broadcast on Bloomberg TV this afternoon, Peter Cook asked Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi about the public option.

"Do you have a bill right now that would generate the support of 218 members of Congress that includes a robust public option, something tied to Medicare reimbursement?"

Pelosi:

We have had, I've said for months, we will have a public option in our legislation. We have the votes to do that and we always have. The question now is what form will it take.

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At a small archiving business in Maryland today, President Obama announced that small banks will have access to TARP money if they increase lending to small businesses.

"I continue to believe that the success of our small businesses will be a foundation upon which our future prosperity is built," he said. "So we will continue to do whatever we can to help these businesses grow and thrive. "

Obama said he's asking Congress to increase how much money entrepreneurs can borrow through the Small Business Administration.

He also said that Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and SBA Administrator Karen Mills will hold a conference "in the coming weeks" with lawmakers, lenders, small business owners and regulators "to determine what additional steps we can take to get credit flowing to small businesses."

Read his full remarks, as prepared for delivery, after the jump.

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