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Americans Not Buying the Latest Hit on Pelosi

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

By Jonathan Singer

Considering the extent to which the media has been frothing at the proverbial mouth in recent days over the Republican-driven "controversy" surrounding a briefing Nancy Pelosi received from the CIA in 2002 (see, for example, a piece today in the The Politico by a GOP operative on a potential coup against the Speaker), you might think that the American public is actually buying the story. Turns out, that's not really the case.
Forty-three percent (43%) of voters nationwide say that it's at least somewhat likely that the Central Intelligence Agency misled Nancy Pelosi about the use of waterboarding when interrogating prisoners.

But the latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey also found that 41% say it's not likely the CIA did so.
What's so remarkable about these numbers is not just that more Americans believe Pelosi than believe the GOP talking points about the CIA (though the fact that history appears to be on her side does help in this regard), but rather that these findings come from Rasmussen, which leans noticeably against the Democrats relative to other surveys (per, Rasmussen's estimate of Barack Obama's approval rating is a full 6.6 points lower than the trend estimate of all other national surveys). Moreover, Rasmussen's own polling finds that the CIA's favorable rating is noticeably higher than that of Pelosi, so the fact that the pollster finds the American people to be giving her, rather than the CIA, the benefit of doubt speaks that much more loudly....(Click for remainder.)


Fox & Friends Take Stephen Baldwin's Opinions Seriously? Really?

By Priscilla
News Hounds

Despite the lamentations of the right wing and Fox Nation, President Obama gave his speech and received an honorary degree from the University of Notre Dame. But that doesn’t prevent Fox&Friends to follow up with a shout out to their anti-abortion viewers by way of an interview with anti-abortion Stephen Baldwin who, unlike his more successful brother Alec, is making a career out of being a professional Christian. And there’s nothing that Fox&Friends loves more than a fellow, professional Christian with whom they can agree and thereby, once again, prove their “pro-life” bona fides. Just in case good Christians still support Obama, this morning’s Fox&Friends provided another reason why they should recant.

Stephen Baldwin was animated on this morning’s Fox&Friends. But that’s because he was talking the evils of abortion and Barack Obama. Not surprisingly, the Foxettes did not disagree!!!  Baldwin immediately cited the new poll which shows that a majority of Americans now consider themselves “pro-life.” Naturally, he didn’t get into the details of the survey which show that a majority still support abortion in some circumstances. Once again proving that he thinks he’s teaching kindergarten or is just a simplistic fool, Steve Doocy said “there are more who say abortion BAD than the alternative.” Baldwin, who was kicked out of the American Academy of Dramatics for “personal escapades” said that Notre Dame’s honor to Obama was “strange” and predicted a “negative backlash.” Baldwin, in describing Obama, launched into a chorus of the Bee Gee’s “Jive Talking.” Baldwin said that there is no “common ground” on abortion. Gretchen Carlson did mention that Obama said that there should be a respectful conversation. Baldwin, mockingly, said he respected that; but what about “these lives being taken by abortion.” Being the good pro-lifer that he is, Steve Doocy said “absolutely.” (So much for journalistic objectivity. Does Steve know that not everybody agrees that abortion is murder?) If these clowns were “fair and balanced,” they might have asked if Randall Terry and his goons helped the cause. They might have asked how there can be discussion around medically necessary abortions and the issue of rape and incest. They might have talked about the necessity of comprehensive sex education and the availability of contraceptives – both of which are opposed by those who are “pro-life.” But no, they agreed with someone who thinks that God should take care of third world debt, can’t (despite his Christianity) recite the Ten Commandments, and says that free will is a lie of Satan....(Click for remainder.)


Right-Wing Asshat, Rep. Steve King, and His Anti-Progressive Rant

By Mike Lux
Open Left

In case you missed it, Media Matters posted some great video of Congressman Steve King, the far right Republican from my old home state of Iowa, going ballistic on the House floor after Congressman Keith Ellison's special order on "Why I am a Progressive."

Late last week, I wrote about this special order because it had special resonance with me. Rep. Ellison contacted me to let me know that he had read my new book, The Progressive Revolution: How the Best in America Came to Be cover-to-cover and wanted to use some of my ideas and research for a special order on the House floor as part of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) presentation.  I was honored, and as I wrote about last week, I thought Keith's presentation was dead-on.

I know a lot about history and in my book I detail some of the extreme conservative debates and arguments that have been taking place on the House floor over many years. But now, in the age of video and YouTube, and with great groups like Media Matters keeping a watchful eye on C-SPAN, we're able to view for ourselves what these radical views of American conservative ideals look like. To conservatives like King, today and throughout American history, progressive ideas have always been derided as socialism. It's what conservatives said about ending slavery, child labor laws, food safety, environmental legislation, Social Security, minimum wage, and virtually every other advance in American history....(Click for remainder.)


Ventura Schools Hasselbeck Over Waterboarding on The View

By Sam Stein
The Huffington Post

There is a peculiar aspect to the debate over the use of waterboarding on terrorist detainees. Those who have actually experienced the procedure first hand insist it is ineffective at best and torture at worst. Those who couldn't be more removed from its employment argue that it works in thwarting terrorist attacks.

On Monday's taping of The View, former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura -- who was waterboarded as part of his military training -- repeated the mantra he offered last week, calling waterboarding torture and demanding criminal prosecution for those who authorized it.

"I would prosecute the people who did it," he said. "I would prosecute the people who ordered it. And they would all go to jail."

His opponent in the debate was none other than the conservative Elisabeth Hasselbeck, who insisted that the technique worked in breaking down al Qaeda suspects.

The exchange was good-natured and lively, with Ventura asking some leading rhetorical questions before making a few rather provocative political points.

"If waterboarding is OK, why don't we let our police do it to suspects so they can learn what they know?" he asked. "If waterboarding is OK, why didn't we waterboard [Timothy] McVeigh and Nichols, the Oklahoma City bombers, to find out if there were more people involved? ... We only seem to waterboard Muslims... Have we waterboarded anyone else? Name me someone else who has been waterboarded."...(Click for remainder.)


The American People Must Demand Torture Accountability

By Brian J. Trautman
After Downing Street

Last month (April, 2009), owing to the efforts of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Obama administration, the American public was finally granted access to Bush-era legal memos. The memos contributed to our understanding about the nature and extent of the Bush-era torture program. In fact, we are now learning more about this program on a daily basis. With the addition of the memos to the pool of torture evidence collected thus far, we now know that torture was sanctioned by Department of Justice (DOJ) lawyers (including Jay Bybee, now a federal judge, and John Yoo, now a professor of law in California), authorized by high level Bush officials, and executed by members of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The memos gave legal justification and approval to employ a variety of interrogation techniques on terror suspects, such as long durations of forced nakedness, stress positions, wall standing, exposure to cold, food deprivation, physical assault, sleep deprivation, prolonged shackling, frequent waterboarding, cramped confinement with insects, and threats to family.

President Obama was credited with transparency and commended for releasing the memos. However, while transparency is an important first step toward accountability, additional steps must be taken. The memos, along with other Bush-era torture evidence (including whistleblower and detainee testimony and reports from the International Committee of the Red Cross-ICRC), should be examined as part of an open, formal, and broad criminal investigation process. The American people have a right to know the full extent of the legal and moral misconduct that led to torture crimes being committed in their name. If investigations reveal that the conduct of Bush-era officials violated federal and international law, then prosecutions must follow.

The Obama administration has said that no one is above the law. To support this assertion, an independent prosecutor must be appointed to conduct a thorough top-to-bottom criminal investigation of torture crimes. The need for an independent prosecutor has grown in light of recent allegations that members of Congress may have been aware of and silent about the approval and use of torture as an interrogation method – wrongdoing that could amount to conspiracy to commit torture (perhaps the duty of an independent prosecutor or commission to probe). Notwithstanding these allegations, congressional hearings must take place and a bipartisan select congressional committee with subpoena power should be formed to conduct its own set of investigations into Bush-era torture policies....(Click for remainder.)


Economic Stress Map Outlines Recession's Stories

By Ted Anthony
Associated Press via The Huffington Post

(AP) Through the voices of its people, the map shouts.

From Atlanta, Ga., listen to Marian Chamberlain, 65, jobless, and no longer eligible for unemployment: "I will never be able to retire."

From Shakopee, Minn., listen to Bruce Paul, 56, a vintage car mechanic laid off in January and unemployed for the first time since Richard Nixon was president. Today he and his wife spend their days in the public library to reduce energy costs at home. "You go out and they say, you know, you need a resume. And I say, `A resume? What's that?'"

From Broomfield, Colo., listen to U.S. Marine and construction worker Simon Todt, 27, a combat-arms specialist who returned from three tours in Iraq only to be laid off from his construction job in December. He smiles wanly as he sums up his situation: "There's not a big calling in the civilian world for explosives."

The republic is brimming with Americans like these. And the Associated Press Economic Stress Map helps us find their voices and tell their stories.

For generations, maps have told tales that words and numbers alone cannot. Maps guided us to the New World, helped us navigate from its edges into its interior. Vague, undefined maps showed Lewis & Clark where to go next _ and in turn gave us fresher, more accurate maps that fueled further explorations. Maps outlined the frontier for settlement and showed us where to find the silver, the gold and the coal that made us prosperous. Computer mapping helps businesses expand, prosper and find new customers....(Click for remainder.)


Repubs on Obama's SCOTUS Pick: "Elections Have Consequences; He Won"

By Joe Sudbay

I don't often agree with Republicans. Rarely, in fact. But, today, two of them (not for attribution, of course) actually acknowledged the political reality the GOP is facing in the upcoming Supreme Court nomination battle:
A senior Republican Senate official not connected to Mr. Sessions said, “Everyone up here can see the political pieces on the board.” The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to discuss the situation candidly, added, “No one is talking about the possibility of defeating any nominee, barring something coming out of left field.”

The official said that not only did Democrats have command of the committee and a strong majority in the Senate, but that any nomination would also come at a time when the president’s public standing was high.

A second top Republican Senate aide, also not connected to Mr. Sessions, said, referring to Mr. Obama, “Elections have consequences; he won.”
Now, if only the Senate Democrats could come to the same conclusion, we'd be doing a lot better up there on Capitol Hill....(Click for remainder.)


Obama's Animal Farm: Bigger, Bloodier Wars Equal Peace and Justice

By James Petras
Axis of Logic

The Deltas are psychos…You have to be a certified psychopath to join the Delta Force…”, a US Army colonel from Fort Bragg once told me back in the 1980’s. Now President Obama has elevated the most notorious of the psychopaths, General Stanley McChrystal, to head the US and NATO military command in Afghanistan.

McChrystal’s rise to leadership is marked by his central role in directing special operations teams engaged in extrajudicial assassinations, systematic torture, bombing of civilian communities and search and destroy missions. He is the very embodiment of the brutality and gore that accompanies military-driven empire building. Between September 2003 and August 2008, McChrystal directed the Pentagon’s Joint Special Operations (JSO) Command which operates special teams in overseas assassinations.

The point of the ‘Special Operations’ teams (SOT) is that they do not distinguish between civilian and military oppositions, between activists and their sympathizers and the armed resistance.  The SOT specialize in establishing death squads and recruiting and training paramilitary forces to terrorize communities, neighborhoods and social movements opposing US client regimes. The SOT’s ‘counter-terrorism’ is terrorism in reverse, focusing on socio-political groups between US proxies and the armed resistance. McChrystal’s SOT targeted local and national insurgent leaders in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan through commando raids and air strikes. During the last 5 years of the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld period the SOT were deeply implicated in the torture of political prisoners and suspects.

McChrystal was a special favorite of Rumsfeld and Cheney because he was in charge of the ‘direct action’ forces of the ‘Special Missions Units.  ‘Direct Action’ operative are the death-squads and torturers and their only engagement with the local population is to terrorize, and not to propagandize. They engage in ‘propaganda of the dead’, assassinating local leaders to ‘teach’ the locals to obey and submit to the occupation. Obama’s appointment of McChrystal as head reflects a grave new military escalation of his Afghanistan war in the face of the advance of the resistance throughout the country....(Click for remainder.)


Are Some Top Republicans Conceding Obama's Second Term?

By Senate Guru

Any list of potential 2012 Republican Presidential candidates can be broken down into the die-hard wingnuts & wingnut-wannabes (Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee, Mark Sanford, Mitt Romney) and the relatively ("relatively" being, well, a relative term) moderate Republicans (Charlie Crist, Jon Huntsman, Tim Pawlenty).

The wingnuts are going full-wingnut, especially since the tea parties.  But a funny thing happened to the relative moderates on the list.  Maybe it's the right-wing purification the GOP has lately undergone, but it looks like the relative moderates are conceding that President Obama will win a second term, and are instead focused on preparing for 2016.  (Perhaps, seeing the Republican Party's unabated hard drift further to the right in the wake of Election Day '08, the relative moderates have also given up on someone who is not a wingnut winning the GOP Presidential nomination in 2012, which also effectively cedes a second term to President Obama.)  Just look at the events of the last week.

Charlie Crist, who had voiced emphatic support for President Obama's economic stimulus bill, opted to run for Senate out of Florida in 2010 rather than re-election to the Governor's office.  In addition to allowing Crist to eject himself from the budget ditch into which he has driven Florida's state economy, this allows Crist to build his national portfolio.  And, oh, by the way, should Crist win the Senate seat, his term would expire in 2016.

Jon Huntsman Jr., who governed conservative Utah but voiced support for not-so-right-wing-friendly policies like same-sex civil unions, has seen his name included more frequently in these discussions of potential Republican Presidental candidates.  Just a few days ago, though, he went from potential Obama opponent to Obama employee effectively as he accepted President Obama's nomination to serve as Ambassador to China.  After establishing his domestic executive resume as Governor of Utah, Huntsman can now shore up his international affairs bona fides in one of the most critically important roles in our nation's diplomatic corps.  As it's unlikely that Huntsman would serve in the Obama Administration for a short period of time and then turn around and run against him in 2012, it seems more likely that he is setting himself up for 2016, seeing President Obama as "too popular to fail" in 2012....(Click for remainder.)


Olbermann WTF!?!: RNC's Michal Steele and Gay Marriage


The Daily Cheney Show

By R.J. Matson
The New York Observer


Senate Confirms Wolin as Treasury Dept Deputy

By Jeremy Pelofsky and Timothy Ahmann

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Senate on Monday confirmed Neal Wolin to be deputy Treasury secretary, giving the department a senior official as it tries to help guide the country out of a deep recession and fix the banking system.

Wolin, who was approved by the Senate by unanimous consent, was general counsel for the Treasury from 1999 to 2001.

Just prior to his nomination by President Barack Obama, he served as White House deputy counsel for economic policy and previously served as chief operating officer of The Hartford Financial Services Group Inc's property and casualty operations.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner initially had battled the global financial crisis with a small circle of advisers and few confirmed appointees in top posts, but has been gradually filling out the department's ranks.

"These things always take longer than you expect," Geithner said earlier on Monday. "If you look at the arc of confirmations in this administration, we're ahead of the curve in some areas, we're slightly behind in other areas, but even below that level we've got some great talented people."...(Click for original.)


The Cheney Doctrine

By Will Durst
The Huffington Post

I'm sick of torture. And the fact that we're one of the countries way up there on the J.D. Powers annual "torture reliability" list makes me unwell as well. As does talking AROUND torture. What this country needs is an up front national referendum on whether we should or shouldn't be torturing people. Oh wait. That's right, we did have one.. Last November 4th.

These aren't your normal ordinary everyday forms of torture we're talking about either: like 12th in line at a understaffed Starbucks or shuffling through life a Golden State Warriors fan or being forced to watch NBC's prime time lineup against your will, I'm referring to real, state sponsored, "talk or we do something crazy" Jack Bauer on steroids kind of stuff.

The big difference being, Keifer Sutherland's rascally television torturer gets most of his best results simply by raising his voice. "Are you going to talk?" "Never." Compelling him to move in real close and yell in the dastardly scoundrel's face: "ARE YOU GOING TO TALK NOW?" "Okay. Okay. I'll talk. Just lower your voice. The kids are trying to sleep."

Now we got Nancy Pelosi and the CIA exchanging torture lying charges. Don't you hate it when lovers' spats go public? The Republicans are gleefully sliding into the House Speaker cleats up because she has little of the President's Teflon coating. To many Americans she's that great aunt who smiles too much at Thanksgiving and always uses your full name when scolding you for poor quality table manners. "William, only cows chew with their mouths open."

Even Dick Cheney has gotten into the act with a recent talk show offensive defending his administration's torture policies. And as far as everybody in the nation who sees his face being mightily offended, he's been successful. This is not a partisan thing. A National Journal poll of Republican insiders shows 57% of them think he's hurting the party. So pretty much everybody agrees, Dick Cheney speaking on torture is redundant....(Click for remainder.)



By Ed Stein


Blackwater Operating in Afghanistan on Subcontract with Raytheon

After deadly shooting in Kabul, a new Blackwater subsidiary is revealed. The company is also accused of using AK47s seized from Afghan insurgents.

By Jeremy Scahill
Rebel Reports

For those of you who have been following the intricacies of the various ongoing Blackwater/Xe scandals (hard to keep up with indeed), the situation unfolding in Kabul is certainly on your radar. In short, four Blackwater/Xe operatives working for Paravant LLC, a subsidiary of Blackwater/Xe are alleged to have fired on a civilian car they say they saw as a threat, killing at least one Afghan civilian. According to The Wall Street Journal’s August Cole, “At least some of the men, who were former military personnel, had been allegedly drinking alcohol that evening, according to a person familiar with the incident. Off-duty contractors aren’t supposed to carry weapons or drink alcohol.”

The US military said the incident took place in Kabul on May 5. “While stopped for the vehicle accident, the contractors were approached by a vehicle in a manner the contractors felt threatening,” according to the military. At last one Afghan was killed and three others were wounded.

Now, there are many layers to this story, not the least of which is yet another allegation of Blackwater-affiliated personnel drinking and killing in a foreign war zone. (A drunken Blackwater operative was alleged to have killed a bodyguard to an Iraqi vice president on Christmas Eve 2006 inside Baghdad’s Green Zone).

What’s more, this represents the first public mention of the Blackwater/Xe subsidiary Paravant, but also the fact that its work was apparently buried in a subcontract with Raytheon, which in turn has a large US Army training contract in Afghanistan. “Raytheon’s use of Paravant is for a program called Warfighter Focus, a sweeping U.S. Army training effort valued at more than $11 billion over a 10-year period,” reports The Wall Street Journal....(Click for remainder.)


Schultz Highlights "Attacks on Nancy Pelosi's Looks" That "Media Matters Compiled"

By Media Matters


Dan Brown's America

By Ross Douthat
The New York Times

The movie treatment of his novel, “Angels and Demons,” is cleaning up at the box office this week. The sequel to “The DaVinci Code,” due out in November, might bouy the publishing industry through the recession. And if you want to understand the state of American religion, you need to understand why so many people love Dan Brown.

It isn’t just that he knows how to keep the pages turning. That’s what it takes to sell a million novels. But if you want to sell a 100 million, you need to preach as well as entertain — to present a fiction that can be read as fact, and that promises to unlock the secrets of history, the universe and God along the way.

Brown is explicit about this mission. He isn’t a serious novelist, but he’s a deadly serious writer: His thrilling plots, he’s said, are there to make the books’ didacticism go down easy, so that readers don’t realize till the end “how much they are learning along the way.” He’s working in the same genre as Harlan Coben and James Patterson, but his real competitors are ideologues like Ayn Rand, and spiritual gurus like Eckhart Tolle and Deepak Chopra. He’s writing thrillers, but he’s selling a theology.

Brown’s message has been called anti-Catholic, but that’s only part of the story. True, his depiction of the Roman Church’s past constitutes a greatest hits of anti-Catholicism, with slurs invented by 19th-century Protestants jostling for space alongside libels fabricated by 20th-century Wiccans. (If he targeted Judaism or Islam this way, one suspects that no publisher would touch him.)...(Click for remainder.)


Class Dismissed: How Obama Outmaneuvered His Critics at Notre Dame

By E.J. Dionne, Jr.
The New Republic

WASHINGTON -- Facing down protesters who didn't want him there, President Obama fought back at Notre Dame not with harsh words but with the most devastating weapons in his political arsenal: a call for "open hearts," "open minds," "fair-minded words," and a search for "common ground."

There were many messages sent from South Bend on Sunday. Obama's opponents seek to reignite the culture wars. He doesn't. They would reduce religious faith to a narrow set of issues. He refused to join them. They often see theological arguments as leading to certainty. He opted for humility.

He did all this without skirting the abortion question and without flinching from the "controversy surrounding my visit here." The thunderous and repeated applause that greeted Obama and the Rev. John I. Jenkins, Notre Dame's president who took enormous grief for asking him to appear, stood as a rebuke to those who said the president should not have been invited.

For his part, Obama gave what may have been both the most radical and the most conservative speech of his presidency. Acknowledging the Catholic Church's role in supporting his early community organizing work, the president drew on the resources of Catholic social thought. It combines opposition to abortion with a sharp critique of economic injustice, and thus doesn't squeeze into the round holes of contemporary ideology.

"Too many of us view life only through the lens of immediate self-interest and crass materialism," Obama declared. "The strong too often dominate the weak, and too many of those with wealth and with power find all manner of justification for their own privilege in the face of poverty and injustice."...(Click for remainder.)


Obama's FDA Pick Wins Senate Clearance

By Lisa Richwine and Gary Hill

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Senate voted on Monday to confirm Dr. Margaret Hamburg to run the Food and Drug Administration, the agency that oversees a vast array of products from foods to prescription drugs and medical devices.

Hamburg has pledged to restore confidence in the FDA after accusations that officials placed politics ahead of science during the George W. Bush administration and were slow to respond to food contamination and drug safety problems.

The FDA regulates prescription and over-the-counter drugs, vaccines, medical devices, most foods and other products that account for about one-quarter of the U.S. economy.

Criticism of the FDA escalated after the 2004 recall of Merck & Co Inc's arthritis medicine Vioxx, a drug taken by millions that was linked to an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes.

Hamburg is a Harvard-trained doctor and former New York City health commissioner known for her work in bioterrorism preparations and other public health issues....(Click for remainder.)


Brazil, China Team Up Against the Dollar

By Stephen C. Webster

The Raw Story

Brazil and China are teaming up to initiate the decline of America's currency as the world's reserve standard.

From The Financial Times:
Brazil and China will work towards using their own currencies in trade transactions rather than the US dollar, according to Brazil’s central bank and aides to Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Brazil’s president.

The move follows recent Chinese challenges to the status of the dollar as the world’s leading international currency.

Mr Lula da Silva, who is visiting Beijing this week, and Hu Jintao, China’s president, first discussed the idea of replacing the dollar with the renminbi and the real as trade currencies when they met at the G20 summit in London last month.
People's Bank of China Governor Zhou Xiaochuan said ahead of the 2009 G-20 summit that he wants to replace the dollar, installed as the reserve currency after World War II, with a different standard run by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Both Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner have said they would not allow the dollar to be stripped of the premier status as suggested by Beijing....(Click for remainder.)


The Perfect, the Good, the Planet

By Paul Krugman
The New York Times

In a way, it was easy to take stands during the Bush years: the Bushies and their allies in Congress were so determined to move the nation in the wrong direction that one could, with a clear conscience, oppose all the administration’s initiatives.

Now, however, a somewhat uneasy coalition of progressives and centrists rules Washington, and staking out a position has become much trickier. Policy tends to move things in a desirable direction, yet to fall short of what you’d hoped to see. And the question becomes how many compromises, how much watering down, one is willing to accept.

There will be a lot of soul-searching later this year for advocates of health care reform. (For me the make-or-break issue is whether the legislation includes a public plan.) But right now it’s the environmental community that has to decide how much it’s willing to bend.

If we’re going to get real action on climate change any time soon, it will be via some version of legislation proposed by Representatives Henry Waxman and Edward Markey. Their bill would limit greenhouse gases by requiring polluters to receive or buy emission permits, with the number of available permits — the “cap” in “cap and trade” — gradually falling over time.

It goes without saying that the usual suspects on the right have denounced Waxman-Markey: global warming isn’t real, emission limits will destroy the economy, yada yada. But the bill also faces opposition from some environmentalists, who are balking at the compromises the sponsors made to gain political support....(Click for remainder.)


Republicans Plan to Offer Hundred of Amendments to Slow Climate Bill

By Kate Sheppard

The House Energy and Commerce Committee kicked off debate of the Waxman-Markey climate bill on Monday, beginning what will likely be a grueling week of work to get the bill through the key panel before Memorial Day.

“I think members ought to be prepared to work late every single night,” Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) said after opening statements wrapped up Monday afternoon.

Waxman and co-author Ed Markey (D-Mass.) released the latest draft of the bill (PDF) late Monday afternoon. Committee members offered opening statements on Monday, and the process of offering amendments is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. ET on Tuesday.

The new draft weighs in at 946 pages, which has prompted some griping from Republicans that they haven’t had sufficient time to review it. There was some fear (especially on the part of reporters who have to cover this stuff, ahem) that Republicans would force a reading of the legislation’s full text before the committee proceeded to debate. While the minority waived that option, they have pledged to offer hundreds of amendments this week....(Click for remainder.)


Wall Street Banker Gets Shake-Up Post at Treasury

By Henny Sender
The Financial Times

Jim Millstein, a banker with investment group Lazard, joined the US Treasury on Monday in a newly created position of senior restructuring officer.

Mr Millstein said, in a memo sent to friends, that his role would be to assist Tim Geithner, US Treasury secretary, in “working out” some of the government’s existing investments in banks and other financial institutions while structuring new investments to stabilise the financial system.

At Lazard Mr Millstein specialised in helping troubled companies restructure businesses and balance sheets. Among the thorniest challenges facing the Treasury will be deciding when to exit investments without jeopardising fragile financial stability.

Mr Millstein is also responsible for ideas on how to maximise returns to taxpayers. Many government support programmes have already created constituencies that will be loath to abandon that support.

Mr Millstein will be joining the Treasury as the government arguably plays a more intrusive role in financial matters than ever before. Regulators are physically sitting at the banks to an unprecedented degree, monitoring decisions involving everything from asset sales to executive pay.

He will also wade into the debate over repayment of funds provided through the troubled asset relief programme (Tarp). Many have argued that Wall Street firms ought to have the right to repay when they wish, while others said the withdrawal of strong financial groups from the plan would focus potentially destabilising attention on the weak....(Click for remainder.)



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