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Those Bush lawyers who approved torture may not be in the clear just yet.

Newsweek reveals that a report into the integrity of opinions given by Bush DOJ attorneys, approving water-boarding and other harsh interrogation techniques, is sharply critical of several top officials, including John Yoo, the author of the infamous "torture memo".

A draft of the report -- which was authored Marshall Jarrett, the head of the department's Office of Professional Responsbility -- was submitted in the final weeks of the Bush administration. But it looks like Bush's DOJ brass pushed back.

According to Newsweek's sources, former Attorney General Michel Mukasey, and his deputy Mark Filip, "strongly objected to the draft." Apparently, Filip wanted the report to include responses from the three DOJers most heavily criticized -- in addition to Yoo, that was Jay Bybee, another top department lawyer who wrote opinions authorizing harsh tactics, and Steven Bradbury, who ran the department's Office of Legal Counsel.

A spokesman for the Obama DOJ told Newsweek it's reviewing the matter.

It sounds like the report could contain be pretty hard-hitting. Newsweek says it's focusing on "whether the memo's authors deliberately slanted their legal advice to provide the White House with the conclusions it wanted." According to one source, the investigators have obtained, in the magazine's words, "internal e-mails and multiple drafts that allowed OPR to reconstruct how the memos were crafted."

But Yoo et al. may not be in much legal jeopardy. Newsweek adds that, at worst, the report "could be forwarded to state bar associations for possible disciplinary action".

It's also not clear we'll ever get to see the report. Jarrett told the Senate Judiciary committee last year that he'd inform them of his findings, but only that he's "consider" releasing a public version.

If this isn't an issue that deserves a full public airing, it's hard to know what would be.

The lousy economy is now hurting George W. Bush in a pretty direct way: U.S. News reports that fundraising has slowed down for the Bush library, making it difficult to meet the $500 million goal.

The situation is so bad that Bush has had to personally make phone calls to raise money, along with his father and Karl Rove, in order to meet the deadline of a 2013 construction.

Bailout, anyone?

(Via Think Progress)

Looks like Fred Barnes isn't the only high-profile conservative columnist still arguing that climate change doesn't really exist.

Over the weekend, the Washington Post's George Will, got in on the act. And it took us about ten minutes -- longer, it appears, than the Post's editors spent -- to figure out that Will, like Barnes, was essentially making stuff up.

Both of Will's major "data points" fall apart after a moment's scrutiny.

Here's the first:

According to the University of Illinois' Arctic Climate Research Center, global sea ice levels now equal those of 1979.


But within hours of Will's column appearing, the ACRC had posted the following statement on its website:
We do not know where George Will is getting his information, but our data shows that on February 15, 1979, global sea ice area was 16.79 million sq. km and on February 15, 2009, global sea ice area was 15.45 million sq. km. Therefore, global sea ice levels are 1.34 million sq. km less in February 2009 than in February 1979. This decrease in sea ice area is roughly equal to the area of Texas, California, and Oklahoma combined.

It is disturbing that the Washington Post would publish such information without first checking the facts.


So, nevermind then.

As for Will's second claim, he writes:
[A]ccording to the World Meteorological Organization, there has been no recorded global warming for more than a decade.


This one is a little more complicated. But only a little.

Will's claim appears to come from a BBC News article from way back in April 2008, whose first version reported:
Global temperatures will drop slightly this year as a result of the cooling effect of the La Nina current in the Pacific, UN meteorologists have said.

The World Meteorological Organization's secretary-general, Michel Jarraud, told the BBC it was likely that La Nina would continue into the summer.

This would mean global temperatures have not risen since 1998, prompting some to question climate change theory.


It's true that temperatures haven't risen since 1998, because that year was a particularly hot one. But as anyone with a high-school level grasp of statistics understands, you need to look at data over a broad period to get a realistic assessment of what's going on. In fact, the WMO itself made that very point in an "information note" that confirmed that the organization believes global warming is continuing, and pointed out that the last decade has been the warmest on record.

The WMO wrote:
The long-term upward trend of global warming, mostly driven by greenhouse gas emissions, is continuing. Global temperatures in 2008 are expected to be above the long-term average. The decade from 1998 to 2007 has been the warmest on record, and the global average surface temperature has risen by 0.74C since the beginning of the 20th Century. [...] "For detecting climate change you should not look at any particular year, but instead examine the trends over a sufficiently long period of time. The current trend of temperature globally is very much indicative of warming," World Meteorological Organization Secretary-General, Mr Michel Jarraud said in response to media inquiries on current temperature "anomalies".


Indeed, the BBC soon changed the third paragraph of its report to read:
But this year's temperatures would still be way above the average - and we would soon exceed the record year of 1998 because of global warming induced by greenhouse gases.


That changed prompted climate change deniers to see a nefarious conspiracy to hide the truth. But given that additional information from the WMO, it's pretty clear that the revised version better reflects reality.

Will, of course, doesn't appear to have been interested in any of this. He saw (perhaps via Rush Limbaugh?) a report that appeared to confirm what he believes ... and straight into the Washington Post it went. Neither did Will's editors at the Post seem to care enough about not misinforming their readers to take ten minutes to delve into any of this.

An assistant for Will said the columnist might be able to return TPMmuckraker's call about the column this afternoon. Fred Hiatt, the Post's editorial page editor told TPMmuckraker he'd try to respond to questions about the editing process later today. We'll update this post if we hear back.

Thanks to reader C.P. for the catch.

With the stimulus bill set to be signed tomorrow, a new Rasmussen poll looks at what the public expects the impact to be: It's really up in the air.

A 38% plurality believe the bill will help the economy, 29% think it will hurt, and 24% expect it to have little impact. Among Democrats, 66% expect it to help, while 49% of Republicans expect it to hurt. The help-hurt number among independents is in the red, at 27%-34%.

So what to make of this? It appears the Republican attacks against the bill haven't spread beyond their base of self-identified Republicans and GOP-leaning independents -- but at the same time, the Democratic spin for the bill hasn't expanded past their own base, either. And in the middle are a whole lot of people who either don't know what to expect, or expect nothing at all.

If the bill works, expect the Democrats to win a huge political advantage. But if it fails -- or simply doesn't succeed enough -- the GOP could have their opening.

Illinois Republicans are seeking an investigation into whether Sen. Roland Burris (D-IL) committed perjury after he admitted in a sworn affidavit, released over the weekend, to having been asked by associates of former governor Rod Blagojevich to make campaign contributions to the governor. That contradicts what Burris told an Illinois state House of Representatives impeachment panel. (Washington Post)

Texas billionaire Allen Stanford's company cancelled some plans to finance two deals this weekend in light of recent reports that the company is being investigated by federal authorities, raising further doubts about the company's legitimacy. Stanford is known for his flamboyant lifestyle and his significant contributions to influential members of both political parties. (Reuters)

Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-CA) has reaped a profit of more than $200,000 from political contributions by charging interest on money she loaned her own campaign, according to an analysis by Bloomberg. The congresswoman initially loaned herself $150,000 in 1998, and has since repaid herself from campaign contributions. Because the loan was given an unusual 18 percent interest rate, campaign funds have paid a staggering $221,780 in interest while only reducing the principal by $64,727. The interest charges were the subject of a 1998 complaint by her primary opponent but were allowed by the FEC. (Bloomberg)

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Here's an interesting item to think about in the debate over executive-compensation limits. A British politician is now calling for bonuses at bailed-out banks to be limited to £2,000, the amount typically received by low-level bank tellers.

At current exchange rates this is equal to $2,854.30 -- less than 1% of the cap that Claire McCaskill has advocated over here, and for which she's been either praised or reviled as a populist lefty.

The British pol who is calling for this: David Cameron, leader of the Conservative Party.

Hillary Warns North Korea -- And Slams Bush During her overseas trip to Asia, Hillary Clinton simultaneously warned North Korea about their nuclear program -- and blasted the Bush Administration for creating the conditions that have helped it get this far. "There is no debate that, once the Agreed Framework was torn up, the North Koreans began to reprocess plutonium with a vengeance because all bets were off," said Clinton. "The result is they now have nuclear weapons, which they did not have before."

Obama Going Back To Washington Today President Obama is heading back to Washington today, after having spent the weekend in Chicago. He is scheduled to leave O'Hare at 11 a.m. ET, and to arrive back at the White House at 12:45 p.m. ET.

Biden Meeting With Fire Fighters Union Head Vice President Biden is in Washington today, where he'll be meeting with Harold Schaitberger, president of the International Association of Fire Fighters.

Report: Obama To Form Auto Task Force, Drop "Car Czar" Plan President Obama will reportedly appoint a special task force, co-chaired by Tim Geithner and Larry Summers, to oversee the restructuring of the auto industry, replacing the prior proposal to appoint a single "car czar." This comes as General Motors and Chrysler face a deadline tomorrow to submit a business plan for how they can become viable again after receiving $13.4 billion in aid from the Bush Administration.

Burris: "I Responded To All Questions" At a press conference yesterday, Senator Roland Burris (D-IL) responded to his critics over his failure to disclose during the Blagojevich impeachment hearings that Blago's brother had asked him for political contributions this past November -- though Burris says he didn't actually donate. "I responded to all questions that were asked of me by the impeachment committee in the time allotted," said Burris. "At no time did I ever make any inconsistent statements."

Cornyn: Coleman Knows How Important Keeping The Seat Is To Us Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), the chairman of the NRSC, told the Politico that Norm Coleman will keep contesting the MInnesota Senate race "however long it takes" -- and it's important to the GOP. "I encourage him to see it through the end," Cornyn said. "He feels like he owes it to the voters of Minnesota and his colleagues here. He realizes how important retaining that seat is to us."

Stimulus Includes Money For Health Care Effectiveness Study The New York Times reports that the stimulus bill now includes a key piece of health-care reform: $1.1 billion, and a 15-member advisory council to the president, to compare the costs and benefits of different treatments for the same illness. Rep. Peter Stark (D-CA) said the new research "will save money and lives," while Rep. Charles Boustany (R-LA) was less than enthusiastic, warning that "federal bureaucrats will misuse this research to ration care, to deny life-saving treatments to seniors and disabled people."

Ken Starr Predicts Trouble For Obama's SCOTUS Nominees Speaking on Friday to a group of attorneys in Boston, Ken Starr hinted at some more partisan rancor to come when Barack Obama appoints a Supreme Court Justice. Starr gave this line about Obama, which is sure to be repeated by any Republicans who might filibuster a nominee: "He is the first president of the United States ever in our history to have participated in a Senate filibuster of a judicial nominee. Never before has that happened."

Obama: I'm An Optimist -- But Not A Sap In an interview with National Journal, President Obama said he is open to reaching across the aisle, but policy results matter. "My bottom line is not how pretty the process was," he said. "My bottom line was: Am I getting help to people who need it?" He also added: "I am an eternal optimist [but] that doesn't mean I'm a sap."

Obama Heading To U. of Chicago Campus President Obama and Vice President Biden do not have any scheduled public events for today. However, Obama is visiting the University of Chicago campus today, where he formerly taught as a part-time law professor.

Obama To Sign Stimulus On Tuesday, Discuss Foreclosures Wednesday President Obama will sign the stimulus bill on Tuesday, in a special trip to Denver -- the city where he formally accepted the Democratic nomination. Then on Wednesday he will head to Phoenix, Arizona -- John McCain's home state -- to put forward a plan to fight home foreclosures.

Axelrod: Obama To Take Action On Stem Cells David Axelrod said on Fox News Sunday that President Obama will soon take action on stem-cell research, and is considering an order to formally lift the ban on federal funding that was put in place by George W. Bush.

Burris: Blagojevich's Brother Asked Me For Contribution Last November Senator Roland Burris (D-IL) has now admitted that Rod Blagojevich's brother asked him for campaign contributions last fall, which Burris says he declined to do. Burris didn't disclose this when asked by the state impeachment committee to name any contact he'd had with Blago's people about the Senate seat.

Cantor: I Get Advice From Gingrich In a new profile in the New York Times, Eric Cantor said he has regularly sought out the advice of a previous House Republican Whip who faced similar circumstances as he did, and then put his party in the majority: Newt Gingrich. Said Cantor: "I talk to Newt on a regular basis because he was in the position that we are in: in the extreme minority."

McCain: Stimulus Bill A 'Bad Beginning' For Obama Appearing on CNN today, John McCain lambasted President Obama's performance in passing the stimulus bill. "It was a bad beginning because it wasn't what we promised the American people, what President Obama promised the American people - that we would sit down together," said McCain, adding that "almost all of our proposals went down on a party-line vote."

GOP Senator Graham: 'The Country's Screwed' Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) expressed his dissatisfaction today with the legislative process that led to the stimulus bill. Appearing on This Week, Graham had this to say about Democrats dominating the process: "If I may say, if this is going to be bipartisanship, the country's screwed."

Smart take from Ron Brownstein on where we stand now after the stimulus has passed. I think it's the right take.

Many on the left seem truly despairing after this week, feeling that Obama got rolled by the right on the stimulus and the Judd Gregg withdrawal, that Washington media is arrayed against them and that things are generally lousy. I think that's unduly pessimistic. I'm persuaded by the economists who say that a bigger stimulus would have been better and I think the cuts imposed by the centrist gang were more nonsensical than not. Still...This is a $14 trillion economy and the differnece between a stimulus package in the $700 billion range and the $800 billion range is not going to be the determining factor in the fate of the republic. The fact is that Obama remains incredibly popular and he just passed as mammoth a rescue package as we've seen in generations. There are many reasons for despair at the moment but the events of this week, it seems to me anyway, are not really deserving of them.

I think Obama's efforts at bipartisanship on the stimulus and in his cabinet appointments will work to his advantage in the long run. He's not a sucker. The president knows that there will be occasions when he can pick up Republican votes and it wills erve him well.

I'm not sure I buy my colleague Josh's assessment about Washington being arrayed against Obama. Obviously there are institutional impediments to change of any kind, whether it's Reagan's or Obama's. Ours isn't a system designed for dramatic shifts in power. But the White House was pleased with the way business lobbies supported the stimulus. K Street, far from being Tom DeLay's pet, was more in the Democratic camp than not. It won't always be so but to see the culture of lobbying as being irreversably and irrevocably opposed to Democratic or progressive goals is the stuff of lampoon and caricature. Does an on-one-hand-on-the-other media continue to turn out some lame copy about who's at fault when the parties split? Sure, but so what? The important thing is not the atmosphere but the results.

I don't underestimate what lies ahead but I'm pretty amazed by how despairing the tone on the left has been in the wake of what was a very significant passage of legislation.

Obama Celebrates Stimulus Passage In New Web Address In his newest YouTube address, President Obama praises the passage of the economic stimulus bill, while also telling the public that this is only the start of a long road to economic reform and recovery:



Obama did take a bit of a shot at his Republican critics: "Now, some fear we won't be able to effectively implement a plan of this size and scope, and I understand their skepticism. Washington hasn't set a very good example in recent years. And with so much on the line, it's time to begin doing things differently."

No Obama Or Biden Events This Weekend President Obama is spending the weekend with his family in Chicago, while Vice President Biden will be in New York City and Wilmington, Delaware. They do not have any scheduled public events today or tomorrow.

Coleman Campaign: We're Still In It -- And It'll Take A Long Time The Coleman campaign says yesterday's court ruling -- which forbade the counting of various categories of rejected absentee ballots -- has only reduced them to a pool of 3,500 remaining envelopes out of their original set of 4,800. Coleman attorney/spokesman Ben Ginsberg also said the court's imposition of strict requirements for newly-admitted ballots could lengthen the trial: "There may be fewer ballots to look at, but proving them up may take longer."

NYT: Obama Finds Out Bipartisanship Isn't So Easy The New York Times reports that the Obama Administration has discovered in the stimulus debates just how difficult it will be to craft bipartisan legislation with the Republican opposition. David Axelrod said the White House has "learned some lessons from this," but is happy with the result, while former Clinton White House chief of staff John Podesta predicted that Republican support was "wishful thinking" that won't be coming to pass: "If you're going to do this at the moment of greatest need, at the height of his popularity, what sort of thing would get you to change?"

House GOP: We Are Not The Party Of 'No' House Republicans are denying the assertion that they are simply a party opposed to the Democrats' agenda -- instead, they are offering better ideas that aren't being adopted. "I said on the opening day that we wouldn't be the party of 'no' and we haven't been," John Boehner told reporters yesterday. He later added: "If they are not willing to take any of our ideas to work with us in any way - you can't blame us, they are the majority."

Poll: Public Approves Direct Negotiations With Iran A new Gallup poll shows large public support for direct diplomacy with Iran: 56% for it, to 38% against it -- and with even 48% of Republicans supporting it. This is not to say that Americans view Iran favorably, with only 12% favorable and 80% unfavorable, but it does show a large majority in favor of Obama's position of direct engagement with adversaries.

Obama Web Strategist Advising Australian Labor Party Former Obama Web guru Ben Self, founder of Blue State Digital, is following in the footsteps of other American political advisers who break through in a big way. Self is now consulting for an ideologically-aligned party in another county, the Australian Labor Party. (Note that whenever he will be working in Australian politics, Self won't be doing anything to advance liberal policies.)

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