TPM News

Via The Atlantic, we have January's cover of Golf Digest, which features Tiger Woods coaching President Obama on his golf game.

The cover story: "10 Tips Obama Can Take From Tiger."

It's timely, if nothing else: Woods is trying to manage a frenetic rumor mill after he crashed his SUV last week and his wife apparently smashed its windows with (what else) a golf club, and Obama is about to announce an Afghanistan war strategy that will send 30,000 more American troops into battle by next summer. Not to mention health care reform, climate change, the economy ...

See the full cover after the jump.

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Charges released this afternoon against Scott Rothstein, who was arrested earlier today, provide new details on how his alleged Ponzi scheme worked. He plead not guilty this morning.

The five-count criminal information seeks forfeiture of $1.2 billion, including bank accounts and no less than 24 luxury cars. The full 34-page document, released by the U.S. Attorney for southern Florida, can be read below (see page 23 for the car list).

"Scott Rothstein appeared to be a charismatic, reputable attorney one could trust to invest one's money and make a sizeable profit," said Miami FBI agent John Gillies, in a statement today. "We now know it was all smoke and mirrors."

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Last month, we told you about Newsweek's plan to team up with an oil-industry lobby group to host a panel discussion on global warming.

Several observers -- including Greenpeace, and a prominent professor of journalism ethics, expressed concern about the plan, in which Newsweek appeared to be giving a platform, for a price, to a key opponent of action on global warming. The panel will feature Jack Gerard, CEO of the American Petroleum Institute, one of Newsweek's major advertisers. A spokesman for the magazine defended the arrangement as appropriate.

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If it seemed like the congressional row over abortion coverage in health care reform had ebbed, it was probably just an artifact of Thanksgiving recess. Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) is charging ahead, and plans to introduce an amendment to the Senate health care bill in the spirit, if not the precise letter, of the controversial Stupak amendment.

"It's as identical to Stupak as it can be," Nelson told CongressDaily.

Senate experts will be unsurprised to hear that it will likely have the support of Pennsylvania Democrat Bob Casey.

"I think it's likely to be one of the amendments we'll vote on," Casey said.

But it's unlikely that such an amendment can pass without 60 votes, and without the support of more than a trivial number of Democrats, it's hard to see how it can reach that threshold. Particularly if Maine Sens. Olympia Snowe and/or Susan Collins vote against it.

Last night, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid met with White House officials and associates, including former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle and former Senator Ken Salazar. That's an interesting duo. Daschle has worked for high-powered lobbying firms over the years, and Salazar, though a former senator, hasn't really been distinguished by his health care expertise or influence. But he is currently the Secretary of the Interior.

At a press conference today, I asked Reid what role the two men are playing in the negotiations.

"I've served with a lot of Senators," Reid said. "There are none who have more quality than those two men. And as you know, Senator Daschle was the lead person in the Senate for getting the Clinton health care bill through. He is an expert in health care. Senator Salazar is an expert at getting along with people."

So there you have it...

Senior administration officials are briefing the press about President Obama's speech tonight detailing the 30,000 more troops he'll be sending to Afghanistan.

They say he will outline a "new window of opportunity" and a "new approach" to the region.

But another talking point emerged, with language we've heard before.

An official told reporters that tonight at West Point Military Academy Obama will announce he will "surge American forces" to reverse the momentum of the Taliban and with the main goal of training Afghan forces.

The official repeated a bit later that "this surge, if you will, will be for a defined period of time" and said it again later in the call.

More coverage here.

With President Obama addressing the nation tonight about a new escalation in Afghanistan, a perennially underexamined topic is once again receiving short shrift: the huge force of contractors, which as of June outnumbered the size of the U.S. troop presence itself, is likely to swell.

The Administration seemingly hasn't addressed the issue, and the word "contractor" doesn't appear much in media coverage -- for example, in the Times and Post stories on the escalation today.

But David Berteau, a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, tells TPM that as Obama increases troop levels to at least 100,000, "there will definitely be an increase in the number of contractors."

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The Florida Highway Patrol announced that Tiger Woods will receive a citation for careless driving that caused his car wreck in a press conference just now. They will not pursue criminal charges.

The patrol's spokeswomen said that Woods is at fault for the incident and could be fined up to $164 for the single vehicle crash. Addressing some of the rumors surrounding the star golfer's crash, the patrol also said there have been no claims of domestic violence involved and the case is closed.

Woods dropped out of the 2009 Chevron World Challenge yesterday due to injuries sustained from the accident.

Jon Stewart has already cornered the market on lampooning CNBC for the chronic lack of skepticism that characterized its coverage of the financial world during the boom years.

But the network's failure wasn't just a case of cheer-leading for Wall Street banks that made bad bets on the housing market. Both before and after last fall's financial crisis, CNBC has lavished fawning coverage on several high-flying financiers who later, say prosecutors, turned out to be little more than frauds. And this past week offered the latest example.

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