TPM News

Less than two months before the firings of three Washington Times executives and the departure of its top editor, a sermon by Unification Church leader Rev. Sun Myung Moon referred to "important decisions" having been made about the paper, according to notes taken at the time. Rev. Moon's remarks raise new questions about the role of church politics in the tumult at the Times.

Sources have told TPM that a feud within the church -- which pits Preston Moon, chair of Times parent company News World Communications, against his father and a younger brother designated as Rev. Moon's primary heir -- was behind the firings of the Times executives over the weekend. One of the execs has denied the rift was related to his firing.

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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has been trading options and numbers with the CBO for weeks now, and they're reportedly nearly done. A final analysis on a complete package could be available as early as tomorrow. If that happens, it will be yet another big day for Senate Democrats as they struggle to reach consensus over landmark health care reform legislation.

Once it's unveiled, and the bill meets daylight, it will be crunch time for conservative Democrats--most notably Ben Nelson, Mary Landrieu, and Blanche Lincoln--who have been withholding their commitment to supply the bill much-needed procedural votes until they've had a chance to see it and hear from CBO.

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The Republican efforts to find a candidate against the fiery liberal Democrat Alan Grayson continue -- with a focus on finding someone else besides the current de facto frontrunner, 28-year old real estate developer Armando Gutierrez. So what exactly is their problem with him?

Gutierrez, who comes from a politically well-connected family in the Miami Cuban community, has picked up some decent endorsements so far, including Rep. Tom Rooney (R-FL), several state legislators, and George P. Bush, the son of former Gov. Jeb Bush. However, other candidates could still get in -- state Rep. Kurt Kelly says he might get in if nobody better opts for it, and Orange County Mayor Rich Crotty, who previously shied away from the race, now says he's staying out "for now."

A Republican source told us that local GOPers aren't accepting Gutierrez, due to youth and inexperience, and the fact that he is seen as having moved into the Orlando district from Miami to buy the nomination. "A lot of people think you need an adult to contrast with Alan Grayson's childish behavior," the source said. "So let's be honest, Armando Gutierrez is 28 years old, and doesn't have much of a résumé in terms of creating jobs or influencing public policy or anything like that."

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Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell (R) steered clear of President Obama's visit to his state today. Obama stopped off at Elemendorf Air Force Base near Anchorage on his way to his tour of Asia that starts tomorrow.

Obama was greeted at the base by hundreds of cheering airmen as well as Alaska's Lt. Gov., Craig Cambell (R), and the state's junior U.S. Senator, Mark Begich (D). But Parnell said he was too busy to make an appearance.

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It's official: The Washington Times has announced the resignation of Executive Editor John Solomon -- effective six days ago.

Here's the one-line statement that Don Meyer, a spokesman for the Washington Times and a partner at Rubin Meyer Communications, emailed TPM moments ago.

Effective November 6, 2009, John Solomon has resigned his position as the Executive Editor of The Washington Times.

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President Obama today departed for his eighth foreign trip since taking office. He's making a brief stop in Alaska to speak with troops and arrives in Tokyo at 2 a.m. eastern time.

Obama will have a full day there before going to Singapore Saturday for the annual Asia-Pacific Cooperation Forum known as APEC.

Sunday after APEC he'll head to Shanghai, China. After a full day of events there he will travel to Beijing. Obama will hold a press conference in Beijing and stay through Wednesday. Then he travels to Seoul, South Korea. He departs late Thursday to return to Washington.

According to unofficial White House statistician Mark Knoller, Obama has been to more countries in his first year than any predecessor. This latest brings his total to 8 foreign trips and 20 countries.

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On Your World with Neil Cavuto, Texas GOP Gov. Rick Perry declared that he and most Americans believe that the Obama administration and Congress are taking the nation down the "road towards socialism, and most of us don't want to go down that road." Perry cited government bailouts of the financial and automobile industries, as well as their not-yet-completed "takeovers" of the health care and energy industries as the reasons for his claim.

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The Tea Party movement is being ripped apart by bitter internal rancor, highlighted by a lawsuit against a former leader, vituperative name-calling, and charges of financial mismanagement and corruption.

As we told you this morning, board members for the Tea Party Patriots (TPP) this week filed suit against Amy Kremer, a former TPP leader who fell out with the group over her involvement with a rival Tea Party faction, the Tea Party Express. And on Tuesday, a judge granted a preliminary injunction, ordering Kremer to return control of the TPP websites to the board, and to stop representing herself as a TPP spokeswoman.

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Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL), a candidate for President Obama's former Senate seat in 2010, says he is not moving to the right in order to secure the GOP nomination -- but the Chicago Tribune sees some inconsistencies:

"I am a social moderate, fiscal conservative. But this is a big race, and we are building a broad coalition, and it will be, for a Republican candidacy, a center-right coalition," said Kirk, a five-term North Shore congressman who is seeking a promotion to the Senate next year. "But for me, I haven't changed my views."

Last week, a day after appearing noncommittal about getting Palin's support during a Chicago visit next week, Kirk wrote a memo seeking to get the conservative ex-governor to say something nice about him in the Senate race.

Another fun example would be when Kirk changed his position on the climate-change bill in the middle of his speech to a Republican audience -- and the crowd liked it.

On the same day that the Business Roundtable had some kind (some not-so-kind) words for health care reform, a business umbrella group, which includes major players, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, the National Retail Federation, and the National Federation of Independent Businesses, has launched a major ad campaign opposing current health care legislation in Congress.

The ads come days after the House passed major health care legislation and as the Senate prepares to take up its own bill.

The first ad, which will air on national cable and in key health care swing states (Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Virginia) warns about the reform proposals in general terms, and encourages people to call Congress in opposition to them.

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