ThinkFast: February 17, 2009

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"ThinkFast: February 17, 2009"

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Dick Cheney was “furious” up until the end at President Bush’s refusal to pardon Scooter Libby. “He went to the mat and came back and back and back at Bush,” a “Cheney defender” said. “He was still trying the day before Obama was sworn in.”

Today, President Obama will be in Denver, CO to sign into law the $787 billion economic recovery package. Tomorrow he will be going to Phoenix, AZ — a state that had the third-highest rate of foreclosures in January — to “roll out a plan meant to keep struggling families from losing their homes.”

Of Obama’s first 56 senior-level appointees, 68 percent are men. Nearly 70 percent are white, “7 percent are of Asian or Pacific island descent, 16 percent are African American, and 7 percent are Latino.” Of Bush’s first 28 nominees, 79 percent were white “and only 14 percent were women.”

Attorney General Eric Holder “will have to decide whether to approve the findings” of a Justice Department report that sharply criticizes Bush administration lawyers who wrote legal opinions justifying torture. The report, which is in its final stages, is expected to focus on John Yoo, Steven Bradbury, and Jay Bybee.

As the Postal Service is posting nearly $3 billion a year in losses, Postmaster General John Potter received a $135,000 bonus last year to supplement his $263,575 salary. Potter’s total compensation and retirement benefits added up to more than $800,000 in 2008 — more than double the salary for President Obama.

Time publishes its list of the top 25 blogs. Unfortunately, ThinkProgress doesn’t make the list, but many of our favorite blogs do, including: TPM, Huffington Post, Paul Krugman, Crooks & Liars, and Andrew Sullivan.

Americans’ opinion of Congress’s job performance has sharply increased from 19 percent last month to 31 percent in a new Gallup poll. Though “still quite negative on an absolute basis, this is the best rating for Congress in nearly two years.” The rise is a result of increasing satisfaction amongst Democrats and independents. Republicans, however, are now less likely to approve of Congress.

A new U.N. report released today finds that “civilian casualties in Afghanistan rose by 40 percent last year, more than half of them resulting from roadside bomb and suicide attacks by militants, but many ascribed to air strikes and other actions by NATO and American forces battling the resurgent Taliban.” According to the report, the level of civilian casualties is the highest since the U.S.-led invasion in 2001.

The private security company Blackwater is changing its name to Xe. The move is part of an effort to “shake a reputation battered by its work in Iraq.” Last month, the Iraqi government refused to issue a new operating license to Blackwater, following an incident in Sept. 2007 when the company’s contracts “shot and killed 17 Iraqis in a crowded square.”

And finally: Billionaires for Bush, the band of political satirists that “sallied forth in tuxedos and tiaras for street theatrics” to show the coziness between the Bush administration and wealthy interests, doesn’t know what to do now that its inspiration has left office. “Here’s the conundrum,” said group member Andrew Boyd, about President Obama being in office. “Can you point out that the emperor has no clothes when you like the emperor — and his clothes?” Boyd, however, anticipates that the organization will regroup for the future. “Billionaires never die,” he said. “We just refinance.”

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