TPM News

Yesterday, Defense Secretary Robert Gates poured more cold water on the idea that Don't Ask, Don't Tell will be repealed anytime soon. "If we do it," Gates said, "it's very important that we do it right, and very carefully."

Lest you think Gates just misspoke, though, Elisabeth Bumiller of The New York Times said he resorted to conditional language more than once, adding that "if we do go down that road [it's important] we do it right and in a way that mitigates any downsides.''

Emphasis mine.

Back in January, of course, Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs said, in no uncertain terms, that the Don't Ask, Don't Tell would be repealed. But the administration's been slowly walking that back ever since.

The Michigan-based Council of Islamic Organizations said Thursday that it asked Attorney General Eric Holder to review complaints that the FBI planted Muslims in mosques to spy on Islamic leaders and community members. Congregation members said that the FBI probes extended beyond alleged spying on Islamic leaders who allegedly supported terrorist acts; some community members were told that the FBI could resolve citizenship cases if they spied on their Mosque. An official in another Michigan Muslim organization said that as Holder revamps the Justice Department "it's extremely necessary for him to take a serious look at this issue." (AP)

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WaPo: Banks Seek To Pay Back TARP -- But Are Taking Other Government Money The Washington Post reports that J.P. Morgan and other major banks are seeking to repay TARP money, which CEO Jamie Dimon called a "scarlet letter." On the other hand, the company is seeking to repay TARP money while still benefiting from other federal programs, which have in fact paid out even more money. Says the Post: "Other large banks are attempting the same combination of breakup and embrace."

Obama At The Summit Of The Americas President Obama is in Trinidad today, attending this weekend's Summit of the Americas. The gathering of Western Hemisphere leaders will address such issues as the drug war, global warming, and the economy. And as the Associated Press points out, the biggest job Obama will have will be to just improve relations with America's neighbors, after the tumult of the Bush years.

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Earlier this month Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein gave a speech condemning Wall Street's systemic greed and sloppiness, prompting pundits to wonder if Wall Street was finally starting to "get it." Could Wall Street's preeminent mouthpiece CNBC be starting to "get it" as well?

A unnamed source at the network told this morning's New York Post that NBC Universal chief Jeff Zucker and Jeff Immelt, CEO of parent company GE, had recently convened a dinner with the network's top brass and some of its high-profile reporters to discuss whether the network that launched a thousand search engine queries into the meaning of teabag should start distancing itself from the "grassroots" war it started with the Obama administration two months ago. Indeed, yesterday the network mentioned the T-word by far the fewest times of any of the major cable news networks. The Post source, an anonymous "insider," said dispatches from the dinner had been filtering down to reporters, who were concerned about being "muzzled by GE."

Quoting the Post ...

"It was an intensive, three-hour dinner at 30 Rock which Zucker himself was behind," a source familiar with the powwow told us. "There was a long discussion about whether CNBC has become too conservative and is beating up on Obama too much. There's great concern that CNBC is now the anti-Obama network. The whole meeting was really kind of creepy."

Media bias at CNBC has been a hot topic since CNBC anchor Rick Santelli, a former options trader who reports on the arcana driving interest rates and futures from the pit of the Chicago Board of Trade, touched off the tea party madness when he used one of his live spots in February to deliver an impassioned and incoherent speech predicting the "collectivist" path pursued by the Obama mortgage modification bill would impoverish the country such that Americans, like Cubans, would soon be driving "54 Chevys" (which he added was "maybe the last great car to come out of Detroit.")

Santelli's rant, in turn, fueled a campaign led by The Daily Show host Jon Stewart to hold the network "accountable," a sentiment echoed in an online petition signed by dozens of prominent economists exhorting network execs to Fix CNBC:

Americans need CNBC to do strong, watchdog journalism - asking tough questions to Wall Street, debunking lies, and reporting the truth. Instead, CNBC has done PR for Wall Street. You've been so obsessed with getting "access" to failed CEOs that you willfully passed on misinformation to the public for years, helping to get us into the economic crisis we face today.

So are Zucker and Immelt really coming down on CNBC to lighten up on Obama? Not so, says a CNBC staffer who attended the dinner...

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The jaw dropper of the day has been Texas Governor Rick Perry's announcement--and refusal to disavow--that he may be contemplating secession (or a similar process) for the Lone Star State. But members of the Georgia Senate, the South Dakota House, and both chambers of the Oklahoma legislature must be wondering what all the fuss is about.

On April 1 of this year, the Georgia Senate passed a resolution affirming their belief that the U.S. government is on the verge of nullifying the Constitution--that, for instance if Congress passes any "[f]urther infringements on the right to keep and bear arms," that'll be it, in their eyes, for the olll' U.S. of A:

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Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) just appeared on the Ed Schultz show on MSNBC, and he was asked about Michele Bachmann's allegation that the "Flying Imams" -- the six Muslim men who were removed from a plane at the Minneapolis airport in late November 2006 -- were suspicious characters who had in fact been in town for Ellison's victory party.

(The relevance here is that Ellison is the first Muslim elected to Congress. And the men were in town for a conference held a week and a half after Ellison's election. And they were released after it was found they posed no threat.)

Schultz billed Bachmann's allegation as part of his regular "Psycho Talk" feature, and asked Ellison if it was true. "This is not true," said Ellison. "I think it could even be called 'Psycho Talk.'"

Just before Ellison's appearance, his press secretary Rick Jauert told me that the Congressman had tried to call Bachmann to discuss this. She wasn't available, so he left her a note. "He's just not gonna engage her," said Jauert.

From one of the May 2005 OLC memos by Steven Bradbury:

Nudity. This technique is used to cause psychological discomfort, particularly if a detainee, for cultural or other reasons, is especially modest ... [I]nterrogators can exploit the detainee's fear of being seen naked. In addition, female officers involved in the interrogation process may see the detainees naked; and for purposes of our analysis, we will assume that detainees subjected to nudity as an interrogation technique are aware that they may be seen naked by female.

When Michele Bachmann talks...somebody obviously likes it. It turns out that Bachmann had a very good first-quarter fundraising: She raised about $310,000, and has $224,000 in cash-on-hand.

Now keep in mind that the Upper Midwest has fairly cheap media rates, and the first full quarter after a presidential campaign typically sees low levels of political contributions across the board. Against that backdrop, this is simply marvelous.

At first glance it looks like most of it came from Minnesota, but she also received donations from all across the country: New York, Arizona, Maryland, Texas, Virginia, California, Colorado, New Jersey and elsewhere.

So just remember: Michele Bachmann genuinely speaks for an awful lot of people -- enough to fund her campaigns handsomely, and enough people geographically located in this district to elect her.

(Via Minnesota Independent.)

A few minutes ago, I spoke with Catherine Frazier, spokeswoman for Texas Gov. Rick Perry. Noting that Perry hadn't spoken of imminent secession, I asked her what sort of scenario the governor envisioned when he spoke at the Austin Tea Party, and what the legal ramifications of such a move would be. She sought to assure me that Perry does not want Texas to secede, and directed me to this blog post.

This is interesting that this has really kind of bubbled up, to uh... I refer people back to my statement, and I gotta a charge out of it. I was kinda thinking that, maybe the same people who hadn't been reading the constitution right were reading that article and they got the wrong impression about what I said.

Clearly, I stated that we have a great union. And Texas is part of a great union. I see no reason for that to change. I think that may not be the exact quote, but that is, in essence what I said.

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