TPM News

Harold Koh will face the Senate Foreign Relations Committee this afternoon, and, barring any unusual shenanigans, his nomination to be State Department Legal Adviser will move closer to the floor. But today's hearing presents us with an opportunity to take the temperature of rank and file Republicans, who have decided to make an issue of Koh because, they say, Koh is a "radical transnationalist" who, through undue deference to international institutions and treaty obligations, will subvert and destroy the U.S. legal system.

Of course, this argument has little if any purchase among liberals, moderates, and academics. Two prominent conservatives--Ted Olson (who served as OLC-Chief under Ronald Reagan and Solicitor General under George Bush) and Ken Starr (the independent counsel who pursued Bill Clinton with unusual vehemence)--have even come forward to call it nonsense.

Read More →

A federal judge sentenced former Orange County sheriff Michael Carona to five and a half years in prison for attempting to obstruct a grand jury investigation. Carona was convicted in January for asking an assistant Sheriff to lie to a grand jury investigating Carona for using his office to attract cash and gifts for his wife and mistress. In a half-hour lecture during the sentencing, Judge Andrew Guilford told Corona that "lying will not be tolerated in this courtroom, especially by the county's highest-ranking law enforcement officer." Carona was once named "America's Sheriff" by CNN's Larry King for spearheading the investigation into the murder of a five year old girl. (LA Times)

Read More →

Congressional Dems Reach Budget Agreement House and Senate Democratic negotiators agreed Monday night to a budget outline for 2010, including the parliamentary ability to pass health care legislation without the threat of a Republican filibuster. The $3.5 trillion plan also includes funds for clean energy and other domestic programs, and a tax increase for individuals making more than $200,000 or couples making more than $250,000 per year.

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama will meet with FBI Director Robert Mueller and other senior officials at FBI Headquarters, at 10:45 a.m. ET. He will then deliver remarks to FBI employees at 11:10 a.m. ET. At 2 p.m. ET, Obama will meet with the Congressional Progressive Caucus. At 3:05 p.m. ET, he will present the National Teacher of the Year Award in the Rose Garden. At 4:30 p.m. ET, he will meet with Defense Sec. Robert Gates, and at 7:30 p.m. ET he and the First Lady will attend a reception for Cabinet secretaries in the Blue Room.

Read More →

Congressional Dems Reach Budget Agreement House and Senate Democratic negotiators agreed Monday night to a budget outline for 2010, including the parliamentary ability to pass health care legislation without the threat of a Republican filibuster. The $3.5 plan also includes funds for clean energy and other domestic programs, and a tax increase for individuals making more than $200,000 or couples making more than $250,000 per year.

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama will meet with FBI Director Robert Mueller and other senior officials at FBI Headquarters, at 10:45 a.m. ET. He will then deliver remarks to FBI employees at 11:10 a.m. ET. At 2 p.m. ET, Obama will meet with the Congressional Progressive Caucus. At 3:05 p.m. ET, he will present the National Teacher of the Year Award in the Rose Garden. At 4:30 p.m. ET, he will meet with Defense Sec. Robert Gates, and at 7:30 p.m. ET he and the First Lady will attend a reception for Cabinet secretaries in the Blue Room.

Read More →

We noted earlier that MoveOn.org is raising money to fund an ad campaign targeting conservative House Democrats who might stand athwart the Waxman-Markey climate change bill, still in its infancy.

Well they may want to ramp things up a bit. The bill was scheduled to be marked up this week, but Waxman just delayed further action until next week, citing "productive discussions between members". According to the Wall Street Journal, "[t]he delay indicates that the House Democratic leadership is having difficulty rounding up votes to move the bill forward, amid disagreements over which industries and regions of the country should bear the burden for cutting greenhouse-gas emissions."

Democrats from industrial and coal-dependent states have expressed concerns that the climate bill would sharply raise energy costs and hurt the economy in their states.


If you thought the stimulus was a slog, and think health reform will be harder still, just wait for the climate change wars.

As Treasury Secretary, Tim Geithner's public image has generally seemed "not quite ready for prime time." But his PR acumen as president of the New York Fed was in large part credited for landing him the job -- and now we know why. Geithner made one-on-one coffee dates, luncheons, tennis games, dinners and conference calls with reporters a major part of his job at the New York Fed, from the looks of the official schedule posted this morning by the New York Times. In addition to regular press briefings, backgrounders and whatever Geithner slipped in on his own time, Geithner scheduled one-on-one time for more than 68 journalists from 2007 to 2008, including twelve from the New York Times, ten from the Wall Street Journal and eight from the Financial Times. His favorite journalist by far appears to be Krishna Guha, an editorial page writer at the Financial Times, to whom he granted 12 interviews.

The Journal's Jon Hilsenrath and David Wessel, the FT's Gillian Tett and Chrystia Freedland and House of Cards author William Cohan also make a lot of appearances on Geithner's schedule, in addition to professional pundits Fareed Zakariah and Tom Friedman. What's particularly striking about Geithner's media schedule is how willing he seemed to be to speak individually with multiple reporters from the same media outlet: some days he would speak separately with three different FT journalists. As the Times has pointed out, Geithner wasn't necessarily satisfied with his press; the schedule shows three meetings with a publicist who represents Citigroup, and a few others with New York PR patriarch Howard Rubenstein.

Read More →

In our last post on the Jane-Harman/AIPAC story, we noted growing evidence that Bush administration officials worked aggressively to prevent Congress from learning about Harman's wiretapped conversation with that suspected Israeli agent. But Ron Kampeas of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency had an (unfortunately titled) post late last week that took things in a very different, but equally interesting, direction.

Kampeas conducts a close reading of a New York Times report on the affair from last week to make a strong case that it was Porter Goss, then the CIA director, who took the initiative in going after Harman after hearing her on the wiretap, by trying to have authorized a separate wiretap of the lawmaker herself.

Read More →

A new Gallup poll finds that a narrow majority of Americans favor investigations of interrogation methods -- though it's not a resounding mandate, relative to other issues.

The question as asked is: "Would you favor or oppose a government investigation into the use of harsh interrogation techniques of terrorism suspects?" The result is 51% in favor to 42% against. From the pollster's analysis:

While a slim majority favors an investigation, on a relative basis the percentage is quite low because Americans are generally quite supportive of government probes into potential misconduct by public officials. In recent years, for example, Americans were far more likely to favor investigations into the firing of eight U.S. attorneys (72%), government databases of telephone numbers dialed by Americans (62%), oil company profits (82%), and the government's response to Hurricane Katrina (70%).

Read More →

We haven't been following Kathleen's Sebelius' confirmation fight as closely as we have those of some other Obama nominees because, initially, she seemed like a shoe-in. The Senate Finance Committee advanced her nomination to head the Department of Health and Human Services by a wide margin just last week. But in the wake of some complaints from anti-abortion groups--including about her April 23 decision to veto the latest in a series of efforts by the Kansas legislature to limit late term abortions--she'll now be subjected to a cloture vote (or, if you don't speak Congress-ese, a filibuster).

Her initially-non-controversial nomination will likely come to a vote tomorrow, though, and she'll likely clear the 60 vote hurdle with the help of Maine Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, and possibly others.

But, of course, there's another female Obama nominee who's running into some trouble.

Read More →

On Sunday, April 26th, the US government declared a public health emergency after confirming 20 cases of swine flu in the country. American officials stressed that the cases here were all mild, with only one person hospitalized. Here, Dr. Richard Besser, Acting Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), center, participates in a press briefing at the White House with Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, left, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, center left, and John Brennan, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security, right.

Newscom/Sipa

The World Health Organization confirmed 40 cases of swine flu in the United States by 11:15 am Monday, April 27, a jump of 20 from that morning. Here, Napolitano speaks at a press briefing.

Newscom/PTS

In Mexico, where the outbreak began, swine flu is believed to have killed 103 people as of this writing-- 22 of the deaths of have been confirmed as swine flu, and 81 are suspected cases.

Newscom/Sipa

1,614 people are sick in Mexico with swine flu symptoms.

Newscom/PTS

In Mexico, soldiers have handed out 6 million face masks to help stop the spread of the virus.

Newscom/PTS

From the CDC: "Probably the most well known [past example] is an outbreak of swine flu among soldiers in Fort Dix, New Jersey in 1976. The virus caused disease with x-ray evidence of pneumonia in at least 4 soldiers and 1 death; all of these patients had previously been healthy."

Newscom/Sipa

A man buys masks at a pharmacy in Mexico City.

Newscom/PTS

Journalists set up outside the St. Francis Preparatory School in Queens, New York on Sunday, April 26. The CDC confirmed that eight students at the school have been infected with swine flu.

Newscom/PTS

Father Bill Sweetney, principal of St. Francis Preparatory School, addresses the media outside the school on Sunday, April 26. Cleaning crews spent Sunday scrubbing down St. Francis, which will be closed for days. Schools have also closed in Texas, California, South Carolina and Ohio.

Newscom/PTS

European Commissioner for Health, Androulla Vassiliou of Cyprus, adressed the media at the EU General Affairs and External Relations Council meeting in Luxembourg on Monday, April 27. Vassiliou has urged Europeans to postpone nonessential travel to U.S. and Mexico. Germany's largest tour operator suspends all charter flights to Mexico City.

Newscom/PTS

Airports screen travelers from Mexico and United States. China, Russia, Taiwan and Bolivia to quarantine anyone with symptoms. Pictured here: the Narita International Airport in Tokyo.

Newscom/Kyodo

Prime Minister Taro Aso addresses a Cabinet swine flu crisis meeting in Tokyo on Monday, April 27.

Newscom/Kyodo

Officials at the Japanese Ministry of Health and Labor field telephone calls from people seeking advice and information the swine flu.

Newscom/Kyodo

Staff members wear masks in their work at Hong Kong International Airport in on Monday, April 27.

Newscom/PTS

This swine flu involves a new type of strain - SIV-H1N1 - the origins of which so far remain unknown. Journalist David Kirby says that "one theory is that Asian and European strains traveled to Mexico in migratory birds or in people, then combined with North American strains in Mexican pig factory farms before jumping over to farm workers."

Newscom/Zuma

TPMLivewire