TPM News

In an interview with the Politico, former Vice President Dick Cheney attacked President Obama over Afghanistan -- and also insisted that the Bush administration is not responsible for the situation in that country:

But Cheney rejected any suggestion that Obama had to decide on a new strategy for Afghanistan because the one employed by the previous administration failed.

Cheney was asked if he thinks the Bush administration bears any responsibility for the disintegration of Afghanistan because of the attention and resources that were diverted to Iraq. "I basically don't," he replied without elaborating.

As Spencer Ackerman points out, Cheney's statement comes right on the heels of a Senate report saying that the United States missed an opportunity to capture Osama bin Laden in December 2001, in Tora Bora. And even without that relevant piece of news, the fact remains that the Bush Administration handed off the Afghanistan situation to Obama in the eighth year of the conflict.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart is back from vacation, and the host isn't pleased with what the News Fairy left for him: Michaele and Tareq Salahi. Jon Stewart takes a look at the crashers' dinner photos and focuses on the real outrage -- "[Michaele]'s feeling up the Vice President! I can only assume the Secret Service are somewhere between her hand and his nipples." Watch the video below:

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Yesterday, I posted this letter, signed by a dozen moderate and conservative Democrats, which raises concerns about the national debt. Many in the party are now demanding that the government get serious about entitlement cuts, and they say they're dead serious.

But at least two of the signatories to the letter--Sens. Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Evan Bayh (D-IN)--haven't been shining examples of fiscal probity this Congress. This spring, when Congress was hashing out its budget, both senators voted for an amendment, sponsored by Sens. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) and Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), that would have slashed the estate tax for multimillionaires.

According to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, the measure would've blown a $250 billion hole in the budget. Keep that number in mind for one moment. Because the letter warned, "Deficits and debt matter for everyone. In 2008, the American taxpayer paid more than $250 billion to our creditors in interest payments alone." [Emphasis in the original.] Oh cruel irony.

To be fair, the Lincoln-Kyl amendment's price tag would've been spread out over 10 years. But still: How does one square a vote to diminish the estate tax with fiscal discipline? I'll ask today.

A month after he returned to Florida from a brief trip to Morocco, prominent attorney Scott Rothstein was arrested by federal authorities this morning, accused of running a $1 billion investment fraud, the Miami Herald reports.

Rothstein, who has reportedly cooperated with authorities in recent weeks, is expected to plead guilty to a RICO conspiracy charge, according to the Herald.

Investors have accused Rothstein of promising them big returns on phony legal settlements he sold out of a side business at his Fort Lauderdale firm, Rothstein, Rosenfeldt, and Adler. Over the past seven years, he has had a meteoric rise through the South Florida business and political elite, doling out millions in campaign and philanthropic donations along the way.

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President Obama tonight will announce he is sending between 30,000 and 35,000 more troops to Afghanistan, offering his rationale for the surge in a speech to West Point Military Academy.

As TPMDC has reported, Obama has been phoning world leaders

White House officials tell TPMDC Obama also spoke for one hour via video teleconference with Afghan President Hamid Karzai this morning. ABC News reported that Obama's message to Karzai is there will be no more "blank check" for Afghanistan.

Obama and Vice President Joe Biden will meet with Defense Secretary Robert Gates in the Oval Office this afternoon.

But critical as the president faces pressure on his decision, right before leaving for West Point, Obama will brief more than 30 members of Congressional leadership and the chairmen and ranking members of relevant committees.

Lawmakers are among the most frequent leakers of information coming from the White House, so it's a safe bet to host them at the last minute.

Among the invited members are Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA), along with Democratic critics including Rep. David Obey (D-WI).

The list of invited Congressional leaders, per the White House, after the jump.

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The Fox affiliate in Washington, D.C., reports that Michaele and Tareq Salahi, the couple being investigated for crashing the White House state dinner without an invitation, also crashed the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation gala in September.

A spokesman for the foundation said the couple was escorted out of the gala -- where President Obama spoke -- after a guest complained they were sitting at their table. Officials checked the guest list and found the Salahis weren't on it.

"Upon confirming that they did not belong, we escorted them out," said the spokesman, Lance Jones.

Jones said Bravo, which is filming the reality show "Real Housewives of Washington," requested access to the gala but was denied. The Salahis are filming for the show.

The couple showed up anyway with cameras, and were turned away at the door.

WTTG, the Fox affiliate, cited "sources" who claimed the two snuck in through a busboy entrance.

Michaele Salahi has posted photos from the gala on her Facebook page, showing her posing with Sen. Roland Burris (D-IL), Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) and others.

Gibbs: Afghanistan Buildup Will Be Accelerated, Will Have Exit Strategy With President Obama set to officially announce his Afghanistan policy today, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told MSNBC that Obama will lay out an exit strategy because "we can't be there forever." Gibbs also said the surge will be accelerated: "They're going to get in sooner, quite frankly, than the original assessment asked them to get in."

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama held a videoconference this morning with Afghan President Hamid Karzai. Obama and Vice President Biden will receive the economic daily briefing at 9 a.m. ET. Obama will meet at 1:05 p.m. ET with Nobel Laureates and their families. He will meet with senior advisers at 2:25 p.m. ET. Obama and Biden will meet with Secretary of Defense Robert Gates at 3 p.m. ET, and with members of the Congressional leadership at 4 p.m. ET. Obama will depart the White House at 5:30 p.m. ET, arriving in West Point, New York, at 6:55 p.m. Et. He will deliver remarks at the United States Military Academy at West Point at 8 p.m. ET, on Afghanistan policy. He will sign the academy's guest book at 9 p.m. ET. He will depart at 9:40 p.m. ET, arriving back at the White House at 10:50 p.m. ET.

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Sen. Evan Bayh, one of the moderate Democrats whose health care vote is in question, said the Congressional Budget Office analysis he requested "alleviates a major concern."

Bayh (D-IN), said in a statement:

"My primary focus has been making health insurance better and more affordable for average Americans. This report alleviates a major concern that has been raised--that insurance costs will go up across the board as a result of this legislation.

"This study indicates that for most Americans, the bill will have a modestly positive impact on their premium costs. For the remainder, more will see their costs go down than up. Hopefully, we can continue to focus the Senate debate on additional ways to make health insurance even more affordable for all Americans."

Michaele and Tareq Salahi, the now-famous couple who attended the White House state dinner without an invitation, appeared on the Today show this morning and claimed they had been legitimately been invited to the dinner.

"We're greatly saddened by all the circumstances ... portraying my wife and I as party crashers. I can tell you we did not party-crash the White House," Tareq Salahi said.

Video after the jump.

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