TPM News

New York Times standards editor Craig Whitney has now chimed in on the paper's changes to its front-page story on "recidivism" among freed Guantanamo detainees -- and Whitney is joining a colleague who thinks the after-the-fact rewriting of the front-page story's headline and lead was no big deal.

Here's Whitney's rather tortured reasoning for why there was no need to issue a correction, as paraphrased by Michael Calderone of Politico:

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Conservative radio host Eric "Mancow" Muller decided to have himself waterboarded to show it's no big deal.

His response after enduring several seconds of having water poured on his face?

"It is way worse than I thought it would be, and that's no joke." He added: "Had I known that it was that bad I wouldn't have done this ... I don't want to say this: absolutely torture."


And remember: this was in a controlled setting where the victim knew he wasn't going to be harmed.

During a three-day trip to The Balkans and Middle East, Vice President Joe Biden greets Albanian youths on arrival to Pristina International Airport on May 21,2009.


Biden and Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri in Beirut, Lebanon, May 22, 2009.


Biden and EU Commissioner for Security and Defence, Javier Solana meet with members of Tripartite Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Sarajevo, on May 19, 2009.


Biden with Lebanese President Michel Sleiman at the presidential palace of Baabda east of Beirut on May 22, 2009.


Biden with Serbian President Boris Tadic in Belgrade, May 20, 2009.



Ethnic Albanians carry placards and US and Kosovo flags as they prepare to welcome US Vice President Joe Biden in Pristina on May 21, 2009.



Norm Coleman's appeal of his defeat in the Minnesota election trial has not yet been argued before the Minnesota Supreme Court, but the two campaigns are busy litigating yet another point: How much Coleman's campaign will have to reimburse the Franken camp for legal costs under the loser-pays provision of the election law.

As of now, and as determined by the court clerk, Coleman will owe Franken about $94,000 for trial-related fees. Team Franken had asked for $161,000, which was then reduced by the clerk after the Coleman camp objected that some of these costs either didn't qualify or weren't sufficiently itemized.

This hardly begins to cover the millions that have been spent on legal fees, but it's one more thing for Coleman to worry about.

In documents that were filed by the opposing camps over the past two and a half weeks, but only just made available online, the legal teams argued over how much Coleman should have to pay -- and when he should have to pay it. Pending a hearing, which Coleman has ten days to request, that latter question is still up in the air.

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Barack Obama will soon nominate a replacement for retiring Supreme Court Justice David Souter, and the question of the month is whether that confirmation process will be smooth, or rough, or somewhere in between. The answer may depend in large part on who Obama picks, but as a proxy, many have pointed to Democrats ability (or lack thereof) to get Dawn Johnsen confirmed as the head of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel.

A better proxy, though, might be Obama's first federal court nominee. Obama tapped David Hamilton to fill a vacancy on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals and, despite a moderate record on the bench, he's already running into some trouble.

Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans boycotted his first nomination hearing, and Sen. James Inhofe threatened to filibuster his confirmation, and now, after Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) became the panel's ranking member, Republicans are dragging their feet once again.

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Here are the line-ups for the Sunday talk shows this weekend:

• ABC, This Week: Adm. Michael Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

• CBS, Face The Nation: Former Sec. of State Colin Powell; Dr. Alvin Poussaint, psychiatrist, Harvard University.

• CNN, State Of The Union: Former Sec. of Homeland Security Tom Ridge; Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Richard Shelby (R-AL); and Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND).

• Fox News Sunday: Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) and Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE).

• NBC, Meet The Press: Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R-GA).

As we've explained here before, the government didn't just give all that TARP money away to those 579 banks for nothing: it got warrants to buy stock in the banks at certain prices over a ten-year time horizon. And as we informed you last month, no sooner did the banks start making noises about repaying the TARP money did they also begin referring to the cash they were forking over to buy back said warrants as a supposed "early repayment penalty" and angling for a discount on buying them back. JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon brought up the issue with Barack Obama himself, while a little bank in West Virginia called Centra sent its CEO and vice president on the media circuit blasting the "penalty" as usurous and "un-American."

But would the Treasury Department really cave to this spin by giving banks that repaid TARP funds early another subsidy? The answer appears to be "yes," at least on the basis of the deal it cut with Indiana's Old National Bancorp, which bought back an estimated $5.81 million worth of warrants last week for the bargain price of $1.2 million, terms a Bloomberg analysis estimates could shortchange taxpayers to the tune of $10 billion. A source tells TPM Neil Barofksy, the special inspector general assigned to oversee the TARP, plans to "soon" add a special audit into the warrant repurchases to the six separate audits of various eyebrow-raising aspects of the bailout already underway at his office. Only three banks have exited the TARP have bought back their warrants thus far -- with disturbing (though strangely mixed) results.

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While guest-hosting Bill Bennett's radio show today, RNC Chairman Michael Steele complained that President Obama was never thoroughly vetted by the media -- especially on the matter of his ideology and his connections to Jeremiah Wright -- because the media wanted the black candidate to win:

"He was not vetted, because the press fell in love with the black man running for the office," said Steele. "Oh gee, wouldn't it be neat to do that? Gee, wouldn't it make all of our liberal guilt just go away? We can continue to ride around in our limousines and feel so lucky to live in an America with a black president."

At her weekly press briefing today, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi cited the bipartisan creation of a Pecora-like Financial Markets Commission as a signal achievement of the 111th Congress. The Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act--signed into law by the President this week--creates a 10-member panel to investigate the causes of the financial crisis. Crucially, two of those 10 members will be appointed by the Speaker and, this morning, Pelosi suggested she has her eyes on at least one Republican.

No word yet on who that Republican might be.

The restrictions on who can be appointed are actually fairly limited. The bill requires that members must be U.S. citizens with experience in fields like banking, market regulation, taxation, finance, economics, and housing; and further specifies that current members of Congress and and other government employees are automatically disqualified.

That leaves a great number of experts, frauds, and thieves eligible for service. So whether or not Pelosi picks a Republican, now might be a good time to place bets on whether GOP leaders will appoint this guy to be the commission's vice chair.