ThinkFast: May 18, 2009


President Obama will meet today with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. The two leaders will be bringing “divergent policies on how to approach the Middle East conflict,” with Netanyahu “worried by U.S. overtures to Iran and Syria and under pressure to support a Palestinian state.”

New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd “has admitted to using a paragraph virtually word-for-word” from TPM’s Josh Marshall without attribution. Dowd claims she got the idea from “talking to a friend…but, clearly, my friend must have read josh marshall without mentioning that to me.” The Times has issued a correction to Dowd’s column.

Yesterday, Republican leaders “backed Dick Cheney’s attacks on President Barack Obama.” House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) said of Cheney’s recent media blitz, “It doesn’t hurt us, it helps us,” while RNC Chairman Michael Steele remarked, “There was no wincing here.”

According to a recent Gallup poll, “up to 29 percent of Americans would consider traveling abroad for medical procedures” such as heart bypass surgery or hip or knee replacement, “even though all are routinely done in the United States.” When the question asserted that “the quality was the same and the costs significantly cheaper,” the percentage open to traveling increased by 12 percentage points.

“President Barack Obama’s push for a climate-change law this year has set off a lobbying boom on Capitol Hill, where companies are registering to weigh in at a rate of about one every business day.” So far this year, 82 firms, trade groups and companies have signed up to lobby on climate change, which is four times as many as are registered to lobby on the Employee Free Choice Act.

A growing number of coal users, like Alcoa Inc, “one of the world’s biggest aluminum smelters,” have come to acknowledge that “with the right tweaks,” President Obama’s plan to address climate change “would not only help the environment but boost their profits.” Climate legislation “will assist in restoring growth and provide the means for America to be the global leader in low-carbon technology,” Alcoa’s global issues director said last month.

With the 2010 Congressional redistricting approaching, Former Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA) appeared to suggest to Roll Call that Republicans in Congress engaged in gerrymandering during the last round of redistricting. Referring to Democrats, Davis remarked, “They were sleeping last time. They slept through this stuff. I think they’ve gone to school on what we did.”

Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Chairman Sheila Bair predicted some bank chief executives will be replaced in the next several months as lenders subjected to financial stress tests review their management ranks. Asked whether some bank CEOs will be fired, Bair answered, “We’re requesting it as part of the capital plan and yes.”

“In every major case since he became the nation’s seventeenth Chief Justice, [John] Roberts has sided with the prosecution over the defendant, the state over the condemned, the executive branch over the legislative, and the corporate defendant over the individual plaintiff, ” writes The New Yorker’s Jeffrey Toobin. “Roberts has served the interests, and reflected the values, of the contemporary Republican Party.”

And finally: Former Alaska senator Ted Stevens was back on the “Washington party circuit” last week, at a book party for Pennsylvania radio host Michael Smerconish. When asked about how progress on his memoirs is going, Stevens replied, “It’s a hell of task.” However, Stevens may be open to working with a ghostwriter, telling the Washington Post, “Well, I don’t know that I’m writing it.”

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