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Al Franken is moving further to present his victory in the Minnesota Senate race as a settled matter, with his campaign announcing that he has hired Drew Littman, a former staffer for Barbara Boxer, to be his chief of staff in Washington.

"I'm honored and excited to join Senator-elect Franken in Washington," Littman said in the press release. "Over my long career, I have had the privilege to work with many elected officials and organizations who believed in the same vision Al Franken will work towards as a Senator. I know that Al Franken is ready to serve and that he will work hard on behalf of Minnesota's working families. And I can't wait to help him get started."

Franken's office announced another hire last week, for the position of state director.

Full press release after the jump.

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As I noted below, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) thinks the Republican party will be fine as long as it embraces "mainstream" Americans like Pat Toomey, who stick to their laurels and don't push conservative voters on to a trail of tears to the South. Perhaps Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) will turn to that advice for when, as chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, he addresses the question, which he raised yesterday, of how to turn the GOP into a national party once more. Or perhaps he'll pay more attention to Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME), who wrote penned for the New York Times a counterpoint of sorts to Jim DeMint's bizarre interpretation of Arlen Specter's move into the Democratic party.

"Republicans [have] turned a blind eye to the iceberg under the surface," she wrote, "failing to undertake the re-evaluation of our inclusiveness as a party that could have forestalled many of the losses we have suffered."

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Jane Harman has hired Lanny Davis as a "media adviser" to help her deal with the fallout from the AIPAC story, reports Laura Rozen at Foreign Policy.

Hiring Davis suggests Harman -- who embarked on a media blitz last week, without perfect success, in response to the affair -- isn't so worried about the perception that she's too close to the Israel lobby. Davis -- who was special counsel to President Clinton during the Lewinsky saga, and an indefatigable spinner for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign -- has long been a supporter of AIPAC, and serves as an adviser and spokesman for the Israel Project, a hawkish, pro-Israel group. He also, for good measure, appears regularly on Fox News.

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The Washington Times reports that Michael Steele is facing a new threat to his leadership of the Republican National Committee -- a proposed rule being circulated by some RNC members that would impose new restrictions and oversight measures against Steele's ability to spend money:

The Pullen resolution would make it a written rule that contracts of $100,000 or more be open to competitive bidding; that all checks be signed by two RNC officers; that party staff be prohibited from signing on behalf of an officer; and that all contracts be reviewed and approved by the members of the RNC executive committee.

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Make no mistake: When it comes to economics, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) knows her history -- even if that history is from another planet.

On Monday night, our friends at Dump Bachmann reported, Bachmann took to the House floor and paid tribute to the economic policies of Calvin Coolidge and the "Roaring 20s" (the era that ended with a massive monetary contraction and the Great Depression). One particular line really does stand out, though -- saying Franklin Roosevelt turned a recession into a depression through the "Hoot-Smalley" tariffs:

Here's what really happened: When Franklin Roosevelt took office, unemployment was already about 25%. And the tariff referred to here was actually the Smoot-Hawley bill, co-authored by Republicans Sen. Reed Smoot of Utah and Rep. Willis Hawley of Oregon, and signed into law by President Herbert Hoover.

Interestingly, this speech also happened on the same day as when Bachmann connected the 1970s swine flu outbreak to Democrat Jimmy Carter being president, even though it was actually Gerald Ford in office at the time.

Late Update: A shout-out to Liberal in the Land of Conservative for also noticing Bachmann's false attribution of the tariff bill to Roosevelt -- and also to Matt Yglesias for pointing to the metaphysical possibilities.

Jon Stewart had a good segment last night on the convoluted Jane-Harman/AIPAC affair, which brought out both the byzantine nature of the saga, and the ultimate fact that nothing much came of any of the scheming: Harman didn't get the intel job, the AIPAC guys didn't get off, and Haim Saban didn't withhold money from Democrats.

As Stewart put it: "Your government, not at work."


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You can tell Sen. Arlen Specter's (D-PA) switch from the Republicans to the Democrats is still sinking in for the political world -- in fact, both national parties' Senate campaign committees still list him as a Republican on their pages for the 2010 election.

Here's the DSCC:

And the NRSC:

It's probably safe to say that this one is a likely Democratic pick-up.

A report released Tuesday by the California attorney general details the history of abuse that permeated a small police department near Los Angeles. The report states that the Maywood Police Department was rife with sexual innuendo, racial profiling, and violence against suspects. One account alleges that officers Tasered a handcuffed man and his father while beating another man in the same room. AG Jerry Brown said the state would work to reform the department because "when you have rogue cops, it's just intolerable in a free society." (AP)

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There are two competing interpretations of Arlen Specter's move into the Democratic party. It's not clear why they're competing, because they're not by any means mutually exclusive. In fact, they're deeply connected. But that's how it's playing out: Either Specter became a Democrat because the Republicans moved too far to the right or Specter became a Democrat because he was facing a career ending primary in 2010. Strangely enough, even though Specter himself insists both factors contributed to his decision, very few people seem to have absorbed this.

One of those people is Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), who says the Republican party's hitting the sweet spot. He attributes the non-viability of the Republican party in state's like Pennsylvania to the fact that voters have fled "forced unionization" in the northeast for the safety and comfort of the southern motherland.


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Obama And Biden Host Specter At White House Press Availability President Obama and Vice President Biden publicly welcomed Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) to the Democratic Party at the White House earlier this morning -- fittingly, from the Diplomatic Room. "I think that I can be of assistance to you, Mr. President," said Specter. Obama said: "I don't expect Arlen to be a rubber stamp. In fact, I'd like to think that Arlen's decision reflects recognition that this administration is open to many different ideas and many different points of view."

Obama's Day Ahead: Town Hall In Missouri, News Conference From Washington Following this morning's joint statement with Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA), President Obama departed Andrews Air Force Base at about 8:30 a.m. ET, headed for St. Louis, Missouri. He will arrive in St. Louis at 10:30 a.m. ET, and will hold a town hall at 11:20 a.m. ET at Fox High School in Arnold, Missouri, discussing his first 100 days in office. He will depart from St. Louis at 2 p.m. ET, arriving back at the White House at 4 p.m. ET. At 8 p.m. ET tonight, President Obama will hold a news conference.

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