TPM News

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is attending Afghan President Hamid Karzai's inauguration ceremony, landing in the war zone on a surprise visit this morning.

State Department spokesman Ian Kelly announced Clinton will attend the ceremony, scheduled for tomorrow.

Kelly's statement:

Secretary Clinton will travel to Afghanistan to attend President Karzai's November 19 inauguration ceremony, meet with Afghanistan's leadership, international partners and allies, US troops, staff in Provincial Reconstruction Teams, and Embassy staff. This is the Secretary's fourth trip to Afghanistan, first as Secretary of State.

President Obama dismissed critics who don't like his administration's plan to transfer detainees from Guantanamo Bay to the U.S. to stand trial for the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, suggesting if Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is found guilty and executed, they will stop being offended.

Obama did a round of interviews with the network White House correspondents traveling with him in Asia. Some of them are airing tonight, but a few networks have released clips.

NBC's Chuck Todd asked Obama about some Americans offended by the decision to transfer detainees, including Mohammed, from Guantanamo Bay to New York.

"I don't think it will be offensive at all when he's convicted and when the death penalty is applied to him," Obama said.

Todd pressed the president, suggesting he was already deciding how the trial would go.

"What I said was, people will not be offended if that's the outcome. I'm not prejudging it, I'm not going to be in that courtroom. That's the job of the prosecutors, the judge and the jury," Obama said.

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Vice President Joe Biden poked fun at his boss and the media on The Daily Show last night, coming onto the set by bowing to host Jon Stewart.

Biden was in good spirits for the interview, his sixth appearance on the show but the first time a sitting vice president has been on.

The vice president joked about Amtrak and explained the discrepancies with the stimulus money (more on that in a later post), but the closing segment was the most interesting, when Stewart asked, "How much of the majority do the Democrats need to pass something?"

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Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL) has been one of the most prominent critics of a possible plan to transfer Guantanamo Bay detainees to a prison in Thomson, Illinois.

As we wrote yesterday, some conservatives favor it, and the local community sees it as an economic boon. (The Senate defeated a Republican measure to block funding for the detainee transfer today.)

But Kirk, seeking the GOP nomination for the U.S. Senate, said today on Fox News he thinks it should be up to the voters. He said it's a "decision bigger than any one senator" and said the "risk is unnecessary."

The Chicago Sun-Times called it a political move, editorializing today: "Kirk's scare talk might do him wonders with the GOP base, but it won't convince a single terrorist that this nation has a backbone."

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee accused Kirk of being a flip-flopper, since he supported a bill last month on the House floor authorizing Obama to transfer detainees. They also said he's using "Karl Rove style fear mongering."

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Progressive groups representing millions of workers and minorities across the country assembled today to send a message to President Obama and Congress -- it's time to do more to create new jobs. The AFL-CIO, the NAACP and the National Council Of La Raza held a joint event today on what the groups called the "worst crisis in America today" -- unemployment. Leaders of each group called on Washington to put other priorities aside and immediately begin pumping billions into job creation programs the groups say will target the worst-hit in the economic downturn.

Overall unemployment stands at around 10%, according to the most recent numbers. In minority communities, the groups say, that number is far higher reaching as high as 16% for African Americans. The effects of the jobless rate are far-reaching in minority communities, the speakers said -- and could be a sign of things to come for the rest of the nation.

"Black people in this country are the canaries in the economic coal mine," said Benjamin Jealous, president of the NAACP. "In this country, we act like what's happening in one room doesn't affect what's happening in another. But what is happening in the black community is happening everywhere."

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Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI) is ramping up his campaign to use the Fort Hood shootings to paint the Obama administration as soft on terrorism.

At a press conference today, where he was joined by several GOP colleagues, Hoekstra, the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence committee, called for an immediate congressional investigation into the shootings, to determine whether the intelligence community needs enhanced tools to combat terror. Hoekstra and his colleagues also suggested, without citing evidence, that the administration had restricted the use of crucial terror-fighting tools that could have been used to stop the attacks.

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Here's a quick update on the NY-23 special election, in which Democrat Bill Owens defeated Conservative Doug Hoffman, and was sworn into office after Hoffman conceded, only to have Hoffman recently un-concede after late results showed him narrowing Owens' lead from around 5,000 votes to 3,000.

According to the Watertown Daily Times, the most up-to-date totals with partial absentee-ballot counts have Owens still ahead by 2,940 votes, with 5,570 absentees yet to be counted. If this were strictly a two-way race, Hoffman would need to take over 75% of the absentees to win -- and this is not a two-way race, and Hoffman is highly unlikely to get the margin he would need.

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In an interview today with, former Gov. Sarah Palin named some of her reading material and revealed a few other tidbits.

Asked about what she reads, Palin "went right into" mentioning laissez-faire economist Thomas Sowell and National Review editor Jonah Goldberg, author of Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning, writes editor Erick Erickson.

She said she has read some of the foundational stuff, but she sees no need to focus on the old writings. She likes "the modern stuff too." Her preference is policy and application, focusing on writers who are not just following up on foundational conservative ideas, but applying those ideas too.

Palin also explained why she resigned as Alaska's governor.

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On Hardball this evening, Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) mostly held the line on his abortion amendment that he'd drawn earlier today on Fox and Friends.

"It was the pro-life Democrats who really put this bill over the top," Stupak said of the House health care bill that included his amendment, which restricts federal subsidies for abortions.

When pressed by Chris Matthews, Stupak did not quantify how many votes would be lost were the Stupak Amendment to be stripped in conference, saying "I haven't really gone and counted."

Stupak took great pains to define his position as the mainstream stance, saying he agreed with the President's position that any bill not use federal dollars to subsidize abortions and saying that "...we actually had an agreement the Friday night before the vote...unfortunately, extremists took over."

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