TPM News

Obama Seeks Additional Study On Afghanistan Situation The Washington Post reports that President Obama has asked for a province-by-province analysis of the situation in Afghanistan, on the performance of local leaders and the different needs for additional help. Said a U.S. official who request anonymity: "How do you separate those who have taken up arms because they oppose the presence of foreigners in their area, because they're getting paid to fight us because we're there, from those who want to restore a Taliban government? How many of the people who we're fighting actually share al-Qaeda's ideology?"

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama last night visited the remains of fallen Americans, returning home from Afghanistan. Today, Obama will deliver remarks at 11:50 a.m. ET, on the administration's plans to help small businesses. He will meet at 1:45 p.m. ET with Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore. He will meet at 2:40 p.m. ET with Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT). At 3:15 p.m. ET, he will sign the Girl Scouts USA Centennial Commemorative Coin Act. He will meet at 3:45 p.m. ET with senior advisers. and at 5:05 p.m. ET with representatives of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Congressional Black Caucus, Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus.

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President Obama before dawn this morning paid tribute to the 18 U.S. military personnel killed in Afghanistan Monday, making a surprise trip to Dover Air Force Base as their bodies returned home to the United States.

The solemn visit - Obama's first such experience since taking office and lifting the ban on photographing the war dead - comes as he's wrestling with a decision to send up to 40,000 more troops to Afghanistan.

(See slideshow here.)

The White House pool was summoned just before midnight to witness the moment. TPMDC has the details.

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Today, everyone's officially on the same page. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and his leadership team, and the White House all stand behind the Senate health care bill, which, as we learned this week, includes a public option. But the days leading up to Reid's big Monday announcement were perhaps more trying for leading Democrats than has been publicly acknowledged, or than today's picture of calm would lead you to believe.

Much of the hoopla surrounding Reid's decision centers around a tense Thursday night meeting between President Obama and Senate health care principals--including Reid and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY)--at the White House. But according to sources briefed on White House-Senate health care negotiations, things began boiling over earlier in the week, when a key question was, Who's going to take the blame when the public option doesn't make it in to the base health care bill?

According to a source briefed on White House-Senate health care negotiations, the public option's saving grace was its political popularity with the Democratic base. The source described the back and forth between Senate health care principals and the White House as a "sort of stare down where the two sides were saying, 'you be the face of pulling it out.' Reid wants Obama to do it to give cover to his caucus, Obama wants Reid to do it so he's not the bad guy on the public option, and can still walk away with a win with reform, with bipartisanship, and with a card for everybody running for re-election."

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It's been two days since Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid introduced a health care bill with a public option that will allow states to opt-out.

As TPMDC wrote earlier, we still don't know the mechanism for how the states would get out (or in, if that were to happen) of the public option, but we took stock of some of the candidates for governor in Tuesday's races.

Our question: Would your state opt out of a public option?

The basic tally:

In New Jersey, Gov. Jon Corzine (D) would not. Challenger Chris Christie (R) would.

In Virginia, Bob McDonnell (R) would opt out and Creigh Deeds (D) is leaning toward opting out.

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A top Democrat on the House Intelligence committee says Republicans who criticized Nancy Pelosi's claim that the CIA lied to her now owe the Speaker an apology.

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), who has been helping lead a committee probe into the CIA's process for briefing lawmakers, asserted yesterday that the agency had misled or outright lied to Congress five times since 2001. One of those cases, Schakowsky confirmed, concerned the 2002 torture briefing at which, Pelosi has claimed, she was lied to about waterboarding. Republicans, led by Minority Leader John Boehner, had savaged her for that charge.

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Somebody appears to be pulling a dirty trick in NY-23 -- with an ad "praising" moderate Republican Dede Scozzafava for all of her liberal positions that would drive GOP voters away from her and over to the Conservative Party's Doug Hoffman.

The Politico reports that an ad is now running from a new group called "Common Sense in America," praising Scozzafava's support of the stimulus bill, labor unions, and marriage equality for gays. Upon close examination, the group's head is Arkansas businessman Jackson Stephens, a board member of the right-wing Club For Growth and a donor to Hoffman. The ad could serve two purposes -- to keep conservatives away from Scozzafava, and to split liberal voters between the Republican Scozzafava and Democratic candidate Bill Owens.

The group said of their ad: "The purpose of this ad, produced independent of any other organization, is to give voters undisputed facts about candidate Dede Scozzafava's positions. Ms. Scozzafava is clearly and indisputably on record supporting the Obama stimulus, card check, and gay marriage. These positions would make her an ideal candidate for progressive voters in New York's 23rd congressional district."

By suing the Yes Men over a prank, the Chamber of Commerce certainly isn't doing anything to change its reputation as a greedy and humorless bunch of suits that puts corporations ahead of the little guy. But could the joke be on the Yes Men by the time this is over?

A quick recap: Last week, the Yes Men, a group of political pranksters working with the activist group Avaaz, set up a mock website that looked like the Chamber's, and held a mock press conference where they announced that the Chamber was shifting its opposition to serious efforts to address global warming. The stunt fooled Reuters and other outlets, who reported the position change, before issuing corrections. In response, the Chamber first tried to have the mock site taken down, then sued the Yes Men for trademark infringement, charging that the prank was "nothing less than commercial identity theft masquerading as social activism."

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Chris Collins, the Republican county executive of Erie County, New York, appears to have seriously damaged his profile for any statewide race -- with a joking comparison of the state Jewish Democratic state Assembly Speaker to Hitler, and saying that he might be Anti-Christ.

The Buffalo News reports that Collins, who is exploring a run for governor, made some interesting comments about Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver at the county Republican dinner this past weekend:

Collins has already apologized for what he called "a poor joke," delivered during a speech at the county Republican Party's annual fundraiser in the Adam's Mark Hotel.

That's when the county executive referred to French seer Nostradamus' prediction that the world would experience three Antichrists in conjunction with the Apocalypse, whose origin is the New Testament's Book of Revelation.

Collins then said it's generally accepted that the first was Napoleon, the second Hitler, and that he was "pretty sure" the third is Silver, an orthodox Jew from Manhattan.

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With just a few days left in the Virginia governor's race, the candidates are making their closing arguments.

TPMDC just posted the new ad from Creigh Deeds (D), who portrays himself as substantive and also is looking for a boost from Obama voters.

Bob McDonnell (R) may be thinking about Obama too, since his new ad is all about "hope."

"Our family shares the concerns and hopes for the future that you do," he says. Watch after the jump.

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