TPM News

1||December 5, 2010: Celebrities and politicians gathered over the weekend to celebrate this year's Kennedy Center honorees. Oprah Winfrey, Paul McCartney, country singer Merle Haggard, Broadway composer Jerry Herman and dancer and choreographer Bill T. Jones received the cultural accolade. President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama joined the recipients during the gala held at the Kennedy Center in Washington. A recording of the event is scheduled to air December 28 on CBS.

Here are more photos from the weekend's events.||Gary Fabiano/CNP/Newscom&&

2||Former Beatles bassist Paul McCartney at a reception in the White House's East Room.||Gary Fabiano/CNP/Newscom&&

3||Bill T. Jones (left), Paul McCartney and Oprah Winfrey during a reception in the East Room.||Gary Fabiano/CNP/Newscom&&

4||Broadway composer and lyricist Jerry Herman||Gary Fabiano/CNP/Newscom&&

5||Legendary television host Oprah Winfrey||Gary Fabiano/CNP/Newscom&&

6||Country singer/songwriter Merle Haggard||Gary Fabiano/CNP/Newscom&&

7||Actress Julia Roberts opened the ceremony, describing Oprah's show as a "universal conversation starter."||Gary Fabiano/CNP/Newscom&&

8||Actor Alec Baldwin introduced Paul McCartney's tribute.||Gary Fabiano/SIPA/Newscom&&

9||First Lady Michelle Obama and President Barack Obama at the Kennedy Center in Washington.||Gary Fabiano/CNP/Newscom&&

10||President Obama delivers remarks during a reception in the White House's East Room. From left, Merle Haggard, Jerry Herman, Bill T. Jones, Paul McCartney and Oprah Winfrey.||Gary Fabiano/UPI/Newscom&&

11||December 4: Politicians and family alike arrived on the red carpet for the Artists Dinner at the State Department.

Former U.S. ambassador to Ireland Jean Kennedy Smith (center) with William Kennedy Smith and Victoria Reggie Kennedy.||Ron Sachs/CNP/Newscom&&

12||Rep. Roy Blunt (R-MO) with his wife, Abigail.||WASHINGTON POOL/SIPA/Newscom&&

13||Bob Schieffer, host of CBS' Face the Nation with his wife, Patricia.||WASHINGTON POOL/SIPA/Newscom&&

14||Iconic singer Smokey Robinson, a 2006 Kennedy Center honoree.||WASHINGTON POOL/SIPA/Newscom&&

15||Kenneth Duberstein, who served as former President Ronald Reagan's chief of staff, arrives with his wife, Jacqueline.||Ron Sachs/CNP/Newscom&&

16||Actor John Lithgow||Ron Sachs/CNP/Newscom&&

17||CBS President and CEO Les Moonves with his wife, Julie Chen.||Ron Sachs/CNP/Newscom&&

18||Gwen Stefani, singer for the Grammy-award winning band No Doubt.||Ron Sachs/CNP/Newscom&&

19||Actor Laurence Fishburne and his wife, Gina.||Ron Sachs/CNP/Newscom&&

20||Actress and singer Christine Ebersole and her husband, William Moloney.||Ron Sachs/CNP/Newscom&&

21||Musician Norah Jones and Michael Martin.||Ron Sachs/CNP/Newscom&&

22||Actor John Travolta on Sunday decided to skip dinner and visit the Peking Gourmet Inn, a restaurant made famous by former President George W. Bush.||MeetTheFamous/Mark Wilkins/Newscom&&

23||Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND) with his wife, Lucy Calautti, back at the Artists Dinner at the State Department.||Ron Sachs/CNP/Newscom&&

24||Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) and an unidentified guest.||Ron Sachs/CNP/Newscom&&

25||Tennis legend John McEnroe arriving Sunday for the Kennedy Center Honors.||MeetTheFamous/Mark Wilkins/Newscom&&

26||Legendary singer Diana Ross, a 2007 Kennedy Center honoree, arrives at the Artists Dinner with her son.||Ron Sachs/CNP/Newscom&&

27||Actor Kelsey Grammer and his fiance, Kayte Walsh.||PAPFIRST/Splash News/Newscom&&

28||Former House Speaker and potential 2012 presidential candidate Newt Gingrich and his wife, Callista, arrive at the festivities Sunday.||MIKE THEILER/UPI/Newscom&&

29||Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) and his wife, Alma, on Sunday.||TRIPPLAAR KRISTOFFER/SIPA/Newscom&&

30||U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius and her husband, Gary, arrive at the Artist's Dinner.||WASHINGTON POOL/SIPA/Newscom&&

31||Librarian of Congress James H. Billington and his wife, Marjorie Anne.||WASHINGTON POOL/SIPA/Newscom &&

32||Former U.S. Secretary of Defense William Cohen and his wife, Janet.||WASHINGTON POOL/SIPA/Newscom&&

33||Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Edward Albee||WASHINGTON POOL/SIPA/Newscom&&

34||Michael M. Kaiser, president of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington.||WASHINGTON POOL/SIPA/Newscom&&

35||Bill T. Jones, Paul McCartney and Oprah Winfrey||Ron Sachs/CNP/Newscom&&

The White House and GOP reached an agreement in principle today to extend all the Bush tax cuts for two years, TPM has confirmed.

In exchange, the GOP has agreed to the Kyl-Lincoln estate tax compromise: raising the estate tax on estates larger than $5 million to 35 percent for two years and continuing to exempt smaller estates. The GOP has also agreed to a temporary stimulative payroll tax cut: instead of extending the making-work-pay tax credit in the stimulus bill, they've reportedly tentatively agreed to a one-year, two percent reduction in the payroll tax. Lastly, the Republicans have agreed to a extend unemployment benefits retroactively from December through the end of 2011 -- 13 months altogether.

These details were first reported by the Daily Caller.

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Alaska Republican Senate nominee Joe Miller appeared today on Fox News with Neil Cavuto, and brushed off concern that his legal maneuvering to try to stop the apparent victory of incumbent GOP Senator and write-in candidate Lisa Murkowski would damage the state, by depriving it of a second Senator. Furthermore, he seemed to say that Alaska having a full complement of senators would only further the "fiscal destruction of the nation" if the other senator is Murkowski.

Cavuto asked about comments today from Alaska's Democratic Sen. Mark Begich, who called upon Miller to concede and not hold up the certification of Murkowski's win: "I'm sorry, but are you concerned, as Sen. Begich pointed out, that whatever your reasons -- and they might be perfectly justified -- Alaska stands a pretty good likelihood now of having just one senator for a while, when some of the biggest issues of our time are being debated."

"Yeah, and I guess the question becomes, is that one extra vote gonna be used to continue to grow government, continue the largesse, to continue earmarks -- to basically continue the fiscal destruction of the nation?" Miller responded. "And frankly, I don't think we need that.

"But you know, getting more to the point, I don't think anybody's actually proven there's gonna be adverse impact. Hopefully, this process can be resolved quickly, and before, you know, the January swearing-in date."

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by Marian Wang, ProPublica

After a Baltimore hospital barred a cardiologist for allegedly performing unnecessary implants of heart stents, the company that manufactures the stents hired him to consult and market the devices, according to internal e-mails and memos released today in a Senate Finance Committee report.

Abbott Laboratories manufactured the stents that Dr. Mark Midei used frequently before St. Joseph Medical Center revoked his hospital privileges in May 2009. The hospital decided to bar the head of its cardiology department after an expert panel reviewed patient records and concluded that 585 of his patients may have undergone unnecessary heart procedures to implant the stents, which are used to open blocked arteries in the heart. (Midei disputes this, and has sued the hospital for causing irreparable damage to his career.)

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Looks like a tax cut compromise will be announced imminently. From there, the House and Senate will have to sort out a few procedural issues. For instance: does the House or Senate act first? If the Senate makes the first move, it will have to be careful not to repeat this embarrassing blunder.

I suspect that you'll see Nancy Pelosi, John Boehner, Harry Reid, and Mitch McConnell usher the cuts through Congress without too much trouble, with the help of a strange coalition: a sizable majority of Republicans, and a large minority (or small majority) of Democrats. But the package will still likely need 60 votes, so we'll have to keep our eyes on defectors.

News has emerged that the health of Elizabeth Edwards, the estranged wife of former U.S. Senator and presidential candidate John Edwards (D-NC), has taken a turn for the worse. A statement issued by her family indicates that she is no longer receiving treatment for her metastatic breast cancer, and is resting at home with her family and friends.

People magazine reports:

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Questions about entrapment have dogged counter-terrorism cases for some time, most recently in the case of the Oregon man charged with trying to blow up a Christmas-tree lighting ceremony. Now, from The Washington Post, comes the story of Craig Monteilh, a self-proclaimed FBI informant who was so aggressive in his quest to find potential terrorists at a California mosque that the community got a restraining order against him.

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Sorry, Tea Party Nation: Sarah Palin will not be replacing Michael Steele at the helm of the Republican National Committee. This morning, Tea Party Nation leader Judson Phillips called on Palin to take the reins at the RNC, for fear that it may fall into "establishment" hands after the 168 voting members of the committee convene to choose a chair in January.

This afternoon, Palin gave ABC News her answer to Phillips' request: not interested.

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Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK) is now wading into the intramural Republican battle in Alaska, calling upon GOP Senate nominee Joe Miller to concede the race against incumbent GOP Senator and write-in candidate Lisa Murkowski.

As the Anchorage Daily News reports:

Begich, though, said it's time for Miller "to put Alaska interests ahead of personal ambition and allow the State of Alaska to certify Lisa Murkowski as the winner."

"Failure to certify the election could prevent Senator Murkowski from being sworn into office in early January when other new senators officially take office," Begich said.


"Without both senators, Alaska's interests will be at risk on critical issues from energy development to job creation and reducing the national debt in a way that's fair to Alaskans," he said.

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On his radio show today, Glenn Beck was lamenting the fact that no media outlets (Fox News included!) were covering the growing scourge of Communists and Socialists preaching a violent overthrow here in America. He even proposed that 0.5% of Americans may be violent radicals. Of course, that figure isn't something you're likely to hear about since it was handily overshadowed by another stat the host used: Beck guessed that 10% of Muslims are terrorists. You hear that sound? That's 100% of The View hosts angrily leaving the room. Yeah, even Hasselbeck.

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