ThinkFast: February 16, 2010

Tea Party

Writing on the Tea Party movement, the New York Times observes, “It is a sprawling rebellion, but running through it is a narrative of impending tyranny.” The Tea Party movement will play a central role at the Conservative Political Action Conference that kicks off in Washington, D.C. on Thursday.

About 50 Tea Party leaders will “discuss campaign strategies and conservative principles” with RNC Chairman Michael Steele in Washington today, the first time that “a broad coalition” of the activists will meet with GOP leaders. One of the Tea Party organizers said that they will also set up a meeting with the DNC, although she admitted that they “agree with more of the Republican platform.”

In an interview with the Financial Times, Center for American Progress President and CEO John Podesta asserted that the current state of the U.S. political system “sucks.” Podesta also strongly encouraged the Obama team to use their cabinet officials in a way that the White House is now not doing.

Defending the stimulus on its first anniversary, President Obama “is dispatching his Cabinet across the country” to highlight programs that are putting people back to work under the $787 billion recovery bill. “In all, senior administration officials are scheduled to visit 35 communities before Friday to counter Republican claims the massive deficit-spending program has failed.”

American and Pakistani intelligence forces captured the Taliban’s top military commander, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, several days ago in Karachi, Pakistan. U.S. officials said Baradar — the second in command to Taliban leader Mullah Muhammed Omar — is “the most significant Taliban figure to be detained” since the start of the war in 2001.

Jane Lubchenco, the head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, “struck back at climate skeptics who claim that record snowstorms this winter have undercut evidence of global warming.” “It is important that people recognize that weather is not the same thing as climate,” said Lubchenco on NPR yesterday, adding that snowy weather “is not a contradiction and it is not really unexpected.”

The country’s largest banks have ramped up their spending on lobbying “to fight off some of the stiffest regulatory proposals pending in Congress.” Lobbying expenditures “jumped 12% from 2008 to $29.8 million last year among the eight banks and private equity firms that spent the most to influence legislation.”

“At least four major trade associations are looking to hire” new leaders, positions that will likely be filled by retiring lawmakers. With salaries in excess of $1 million a year, the “revolving door” is “troubling to some government watchdogs.”

More than a dozen Republican lawmakers “supported stimulus-funding requests,” despite voting against the package, according to letters obtained by The Wall Street Journal through the Freedom of Information Act. “Lawmakers routinely send letters in support of federal funding for projects in their constituencies.” See ThinkProgress’s research document on stimulus hypocrisy here.

And finally: If you can’t make it to the White House for a photo op with the President, you can now instead visit the Madame Tussauds wax museum at The Venetian in Las Vegas. In fact, the Obama figure is “the most popular in Las Vegas” and has twice been “removed for maintenance because of manhandling.”

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