TPM News

While we're on the subject of climate change today ... Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-MA) just announced that Al Gore will be testifying before his panel next Wednesday on the need for carbon emissions regulation.

"America must act decisively in order for the nations of the world to reach agreement on a climate change treaty at the December 2009 meeting of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Copenhagen, Denmark. The timeline is short for us to respond to the threat of climate change, and this hearing will examine what America must do to lead the world in crafting a truly global solution," Kerry said in a statement on the hearing.

President Obama moments ago signed an executive order closing the Guantanamo detention facility within a year.

The move makes good on a key Obama campaign promise.

Obama also signed two other orders, reviewing military trials of terror suspects, and banning the harshest interrogation methods.

After signing, Obama said:

The message we are sending around the world is that the US intends to prosecute the ongoing struggle against violence and terrorism and we are going to do so vigilantly, we are going to do so effectively, and we are going to do so in a manner that is consistent with our values and our ideals ... We intend to win this fight, and we intend to win it on our terms.

Here's the video:

The order to close Guantanamo can be found here.

The order to review detention policies can be found here.

The order revising interrogation policies can be found here.

And the order for a review of al Marri's detention can be found here.

In the race for the RNC chair, it's becoming difficult to figure out which candidate is the most problematic in terms of party outreach to minority voters and adjusting to the political realities or our times.

The Politico reports that South Carolina GOP chairman Katon Dawson has publicly traced his political coming of age to the civil rights movement -- that is, opposition to 1960's busing policies. "Government reached into my life and grabbed me and shook me at the age of 15," Dawson told a University of South Carolina audience in 2003.

The star of this particular show has been Chip Saltsman, who sent out a CD to committee members containing a song called "Barack the Magic Negro." But some more attention is also being paid to Dawson, who has faced scrutiny for his membership in an all-white country club -- which he only resigned shortly before starting his current campaign. And now there's this, too.

Now that Caroline Kennedy is out of the running to be appointed for the senate seat vacated by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, it's worth asking a few questions. First, is more just eye-rolling: How could the appointment of four vacant senate seats become such a mess. First, there was the Blagojevich scandal to replace President Obama's seat followed by the mini-scandal over whether to seat Roland Burris. In Delaware, the appointment of Joe Biden's long time top aide was an obvious attempt to keep the seat warm for his son, Beau. And in New York, it's become an unholy mess. Only Bill Ritter in Colorado seemed to have come through this thing unscathed with his appointment of Michael Bennet.

My guess is that if Caroline had remained Greta Garbo, she might have gotten the job. Traditionally, Senate appointments were given to clean, respectable types who got the job in part by not showing any political aspiration to keep it and seemed to take the seat only with reluctance and out of duty. Thus you wound up with Nicholas Brady in New Jersey. Had Kennedy not said anything, I think there's a decent chance she could have gotten the seat. Instead, her mini-candidacy became a nectar for swarms of political consultants, Bloomberg allies, and others who wanted a piece of the action. I don't mean to suggest that she's a victim in all of this. She chose this odd path and has now suffered the biggest defeat of a Kennedy since Kathleen Kennedy Townsend lost her bid to be Maryland's governor. She allowed the handlers in and they made a mess of it. Sometimes, silence is golden.

It seems like ancient history now, but there was a time when Democrats were focused on Pentagon procurement, not just the scandal of $600 toilet seats and blunderbuss calls to cut the defense budget but a serious debate about the weapons systems we really need and how to avoid paying too much for them. Sen. Gary Hart was a leading advocate of this new thinking on defense and so was James Fallows whose book, National Defense, was the Bible of the movement.

My starting home in journalism, The Washington Monthly, long ran articles on topics of why the Air Force placed too small a priority on the small, but effective A-10 Warthog aircraft which is great at busting enemy tanks and was in love with vastly overpriced stealth bombers. Can President Barack Obama put an end to a procurement system that's only gotten worse over the years?

Read More →

Norm Coleman has signed on as a consultant with the Republican Jewish Coalition, a surprising development from somebody who has insisted he won his election and will be seated when the Minnesota legal battles are over:

RJC Executive Director Matt Brooks said, "We are thrilled and honored to have Norm Coleman join us at the RJC at this critical time. We look forward to having the benefit of his experience and wise counsel to help the RJC plot its future course. We are confident that in a few months Senator Coleman will return to his seat in the Senate, but until that time, we are eager for him to travel across the country on our behalf and to be an important voice within the organization."

During his visit to Capitol Hill yesterday, Coleman continued to project optimism even as he was busy cleaning out his desk. "We have got a good shot at this and so I proceed with that in mind," said Coleman. "But logistically you have to move out of the office."

It happened so quietly that few media outlets noticed. But Republicans are already rolling out their strategy to delay -- and perhaps even stave off -- congressional action to combat climate change.

The Journal's blog relays the basic fact: an anonymous senator has placed one of those pesky "holds" used prerogatives to slow down action on the nomination of Lisa Jackson, the president's pick to head the EPA, as well as the nomination of Nancy Sutley, future head of the Council on Environmental Quality.

Jackson told the Senate environment committee last week that she would quickly re-examine California's request, backed by more than a dozen other states, to strictly regulate auto emissions. But this isn't really about Jackson or Sutley ...

Read More →

President Obama issued an executive order yesterday limiting the ability of former presidents to keep certain records private. Under the order, former presidents, former vice presidents, and relatives of former presidents will have less control over the release of their records. The president and the National Archives will have ultimate control over release decisions. (Associated Press)

Another executive order drafted by President Obama, expected to be issued today, would close the Guantanamo Bay facility within a year. He is also expected to ban abusive interrogation practices and order a review of detention policies for captured militants. (Reuters)

A former employee of Florida's Department of Children and Families pleaded guilty to one charge of producing child pornography after he was caught taking nude photos of two teenage boys, one of whom was identified as a foster child of the agency. The crime carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years. (Associated Press)

Read More →

Hillary Clinton's grand arrival at the State Department this morning, greeted by a cheering crowd of employees, had a single constant message: The era of the Bush foreign policy really is over.

"There are three legs to the stool of American foreign policy: defense, diplomacy and development," Hillary said. "And we are responsible for two of the three legs. And we will make clear as we go forward that diplomacy and development are essential tools in achieving the long-term objectives of the United States."

And above all, Hillary promised openness and debate:

"This is going to be a challenging time, and it will require 21st-century tools and solutions to meet our problems and seize our opportunities. I'm gonna be asking a lot of you, I want you to think outside the proverbial box. I want you to give me the best advice you can, I want you to understand there is nothing that I welcome more than a good debate, and the kind of dialogue that will make us better."

Barack Obama and Joe Biden will also be visiting later today. Their reception should probably be at least as celebratory as this one, if not more so.

It's Official: Caroline Ends Senate Bid Caroline Kennedy released a short statement declaring that she was ending her bid to be appointed to Hillary Clinton's former Senate seat: "I informed Governor Paterson today that for personal reasons I am withdrawing my name from consideration for the United States Senate."

Obama's Schedule For Today Here are President Obama's morning events: A closed-door meeting with economic advisers at 9:40-9:55 a.m. ET; a 10:00-10:15 a.m. ET closed meeting with senior staff; a 10:30-11:35 a.m. ET meeting with retired military officers, with pooled press. Then in the afternoon: A closed meeting with Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, National Security Adviser James Jones and Deputy National Security Adviser Tom Donilon, from 1:50-2:30 p.m. ET; and then he and Hillary will speak to State Department employees, from 2:40-3:00 p.m., with pooled press.

Today: Obama Expected To Order Gitmo Closure The New York Times reports that President Obama is expected to issue his executive orders today to close the CIA's network of secret prisons and to shut down the Guantanamo Bay prison camp. The orders will require an immediate review of the 245 detainees at Gitmo, though the whole process of closing the camp will take place over a year's time.

Former Gitmo Prisoner: The Prison Will Still Hurt America A former Guantanamo inmate told CNN that the legacy of Gitmo will continue to damage the United States even if President Obama successfully shuts it down. "Guantanamo Bay is the most notorious prison on earth," said Moazzam Begg, a British citizen who was captured in Afghanistan and later freed in 2005, without ever having been prosecuted.

Obama Staffers Discover Primitive White House The Washington Post reports that the new White House staffers, who were used to a campaign driven by technology, are now discovering a White House setup with old technology and legal prohibitions on the use of Facebook, outside e-mail accounts, instant messaging and other modes of communications. "It is kind of like going from an Xbox to an Atari," said spokesman Bill Burton.

Obama Stimulus Could Be Boon For K Street The Hill reports that lobbying firms are cautiously optimistic that business will pick up from corporate America, even in the difficult economy, due to the impact of President Obama's stimulus proposals. "Big decisions are going to be made, and corporate America is aware of it," said Smith Davis, a partner at lobbying firm Akin Gump.

LAT: "Hope" Poster Apparently Swiped From Photo The Lose Angeles Times reports that the iconic "Hope" poster of Obama appears to have been copied from an Associated Press photo of Obama from 2006. Perhaps worse, the possibility exists that at the moment the photo was taken, Obama was listening to a very grisly speech about the genocide in Darfur.