Political dates to remember over the next six weeks… Economy grew at 2.5% pace in 3rd Q… War games between North and South Korea… Obama and Biden go down to Kokomo (IN) and speak there at 1:35 pm ET… Joe Miller files lawsuit in state court to challenge the results in Alaska’s Senate race… Republicans now at +62 in House races… And Happy Thanksgiving; our morning dispatch will return on Monday, Nov. 29.
*** Dates to remember: With the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays approaching, with the real fights in the lame-duck Congress still to come, and with the 2012 presidential race not yet underway, here's a list of the political dates to remember over the next six weeks:
Nov. 23 (today): Sarah Palin’s book, “America by Heart,” is out; she kicks off her book tour tonight in Phoenix. Then over the next several days, she heads to Tulsa, OK (11/26); Norfolk, NE and Des Moines, IA (11/27); Andover, KS and Dallas (11/28); Houston and New Orleans (11/29); Baton Rouge, LA and Little Rock, AR (11/30); Brentwood, TN and Lexington, KY (12/1); Spirit Lake, IA and Carmel, IN (12/2); and Cincinnati, OH and Columbia, SC (12/3).
Nov. 29 (Monday): Illinois Sen.-elect Mark Kirk is sworn in; the Senate considers the Food Safety act; the Minnesota gubernatorial recount begins; and Alaska hopes to certify the results from its Senate race.
Nov. 30 (Tuesday): President Obama meets with bipartisan congressional leaders at the White House to try and get a deal done on START and the Bush tax cuts; the military’s report on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is released; and unemployment benefits will expire if Congress doesn’t act.
Dec. 1 (Wednesday): The deadline for Obama’s debt-reduction commission to offer its final recommendations.
Dec. 3 (Friday): The Labor Department releases its jobs report for November.
Dec. 7: Most Minnesota counties hope to complete their recounts
Dec. 8-10: The Minnesota canvassing board meets to deal with any potential recount issues.
Dec. 14: Minnesota hopes to certify its gubernatorial winner.
Jan. 1: The Bush tax cuts expire.
Jan. 3: The 112th Congress convenes, with the GOP controlling the House and John Boehner as its new speaker.
*** Steady as she goes: According to the AP, the U.S. economy grew at 2.5% pace in the 3rd quarter, up from the 2% estimate last month. “More brisk spending by American consumers, especially on autos and other big-ticket goods, and stronger sales of U.S. exports to foreign customers were the main reasons for the upgrade.”
*** War games: Just in case you didn’t think there was enough going on in the world… “North Korea on Tuesday fired dozens of artillery rounds onto a populated South Korean island, killing two and injuring 19 others,” the Los Angeles Times reports. “The Seoul government later called North Korea's artillery attack a ‘clear military provocation’ and warned that the secretive regime would face ‘stern retaliation’ should it launch further attacks.” Late last night, the White House said it strongly condemned the attack and called on North Korea “to halt its belligerent action and to fully abide by the terms of the Armistice Agreement.”
*** There's a place called Kokomo, that's where you wanna go to get away from it all… : President Obama and Vice President today travel to Kokomo, IN, in their latest “White House to Main Street Tour.” At 1:20 pm ET, the two will visit a Chrysler transmission plant. And then 15 minutes later, they’ll deliver remarks to workers there. Per the White House, Kokomo is a city benefiting from both the stimulus (in revitalizing its downtown) and the auto bailout (saving thousands of jobs). Obama last visited Kokomo in April 2008.
*** Don’t stop … believin’: Yesterday in Alaska, Joe Miller filed a lawsuit in state court challenging the election results in Alaska’s Senate contest. The Anchorage Daily News writes, “Miller's 21-page lawsuit in Fairbanks Superior Court mostly mimics his earlier claims in federal court: that election officials improperly counted too many write-in votes for the apparent winner, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, and failed to count legitimate votes for him. But he added two new allegations. He said that in unnamed precincts, voters may have been allowed to take ballots even if they didn't have identification or weren't personally known to election officials… And he said that ‘in several precincts,’ handwriting samples indicate that the same person or a small group of people wrote in names on multiple ballots.”
*** The uncalled House races -- GOP +62: Republicans are now +62 in net House gains -- and could get to +63 -- as incumbent Rep. Solomon Ortiz (D) conceded to Blake Farenthold (R) in TX-27, a 71% Hispanic district. Farenthold, a Tea Party favorite, is also a self-described local talk radio “sidekick,” per the AP. According to the exit polls, Texas had the highest percentage of people who said the supported the Tea Party (48%) of any of the states polled. There remain four uncalled races: CA-11, CA-20, NY-1, and NY-25. Republicans lead in NY-25.
*** Programming note: MSNBC's "Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell" interviews GOP Rep. Greg Walden tonight.
*** Happy Thanksgiving: Today is our final morning First Read dispatch of the week. We'll return on Monday, Nov. 29, but we’ll update the blog as news warrants. Have a happy and safe Thanksgiving holiday.
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