TPM News

On Friday, a young mother posted a story to her blog claiming that, while going through security at an airport in Atlanta, government agents took her baby out of her sight for several minutes. The story, as they say, went viral.

"Panic set in. My hands began to shake. My body was sweating. My breath was short and my heart was racing. They had taken my child and not told me. Jackson was out of my eye sight. I could not see my son," wrote the woman, Nic.

Hours later, the Transportation Security Administration's blog posted a video that shows the woman going through security, with her child either in her arms or directly next to her at all times.

The TSA's immediate response, on Twitter and on its blog, squashed an internet meme that had been catching like wildfire -- a meme that had the potential to do serious public relations damage to the agency.

Here's how it happened:

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TPM asked White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs during his briefing today about the Republicans who claim the Council on American Islamic Relations planted Muslim spies on Capitol Hill.

When we asked if President Obama was aware of the Republican charges, which have not moved an inch since they first announced the claims last week, Gibbs demurred.

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Vice President Biden campaigned today with Gov. Jon Corzine (D-NJ), with a clear message of hitching Corzine to the Obama administration and the national Democratic brand -- and tying Republican nominee Chris Christie to the unpopular Bush Republicans.

Biden said that the Obama administration relied on Corzine's advice while crafting the stimulus package. "I literally picked up the phone and called Jon Corzine and said 'Jon, what do you think we should do?'" said Biden. "The reason we called Jon is because we knew he knew about the economy, about world markets, about how we needed to respond."

Biden ridiculed Christie for saying he would turn down some stimulus money. "Where do these guys live?,'' Biden said of Christie. "They are talking about lowering property taxes while turning away stimulus money.''

Also at the event, Rep. Rush Holt attacked Christie, a former U.S. Attorney, as a Bush appointee: "He wants to continue their ideas. He wants to work with people who are no longer there, and thank goodness."

Last we checked, Rep. Steve Buyer (R-IN) was maintaining that he had nothing more than a casual connection to the Frontier Foundation, which has collected lots of money from industry groups seeking to curry favor with Buyer, spent a lot on travel, meals, and salary, but given out nothing for its stated purpose of helping students get through college.

Now, after several media outlets questioned the legitimacy of the setup, Buyer is pushing back and he has a totally new story: the foundation is his, after all, and his selfless efforts to help poor Indiana children are now the focus of "vicious and ugly" attacks.

Oh yeah, and even though everything is on the up-and-up, Buyer has decided to review the foundation's activities and potentially change how it operates.

But wait, there's more!

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The U.S. Chamber of Commerce wants a criminal investigation into the hoax perpetrated this morning by activists, who sent out a fake press release from the Chamber falsely announcing that the group had shifted its opposition to serious efforts to tackle global warming.

A Chamber spokesman put out the following (real) statement this afternoon:

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Blue Dog Rep. Jim Marshall (D-GA) appeared on Fox this afternoon, and compared the current health care system -- including Medicare and Medicaid -- to the Soviet Union.

"We've got this sort of central payment system, which is a fundamental problem. It's health insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, making the payments, and we've got consumers and doctors pretty divorced from the costs associated with the decisions that are being made," said Marshall. "As a result, we've had an explosion in cost. I think we've got to see a fundamental change in the system that we've got right now for payment. If we don't do that, we'll continue to have opportunities to fix waste, fraud and abuse, because systems that are centrally planned and controlled -- like the Soviet system -- are just full of those kinds of issues."

Marshall has previously made this comparison, saying back in September: "Beginning in World War II, American health care gradually migrated to an inefficient, Soviet-style system of central control and planning provided by health insurance companies, Medicare and Medicaid."

On a conference call with reporters moments ago, Senate Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus said that the public option is still alive, adding, in a familiar refrain, that the question for Democrats now is what kind of public option can get 60 votes.

The goal, Baucus said, was to include something in the bill that keeps premiums down and keeps insurance companies honest. "We just need to find ways to help reach that goal, in addition to the provisions in the bill," Baucus said.

Baucus cited several permutations of public option proposals under discussion, including what he described as "Medicare light [the robust public option], even playing field [proposed by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), there's co-ops--that's private, not public--there's opt in, opt out," Baucus said.

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As we near the critical two-week benchmark before elections in New Jersey, Virginia and New York, the White House is going all-in to help Democratic candidates. President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden are raising money and stumping for hopefuls across the country - in some cases looking beyond the narrow focus of next month's election to the 2010 midterms.

Last week Obama raised more than $3 million for the Democratic party in San Francisco, and Biden helped raise money for Missouri senate candidate Robin Carnahan (D) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV).

But in the race to the finish, and with Republicans eager to make a loss in Virginia or New Jersey seem like a major national trend for the president, it's a high-profile week for both Obama and Biden.

Obama has eight political events scheduled over the next week. Before he leaves for the Czech Republic tomorrow, Biden has a long day of double political duty.

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