Jon Stewart Wants No Part of Obama’s Kill List

Drones, Kill List, Leaks, Whistleblowers

There are many things about the Obama kill list story that gall Jon Stewart: that the list exists, the altered definitions of words that allow for fewer civilians to be reported killed, the leaking of the story, the notion that the whole thing makes Obama look good. On tonight’s Daily Show, he went through all of them.

[the Daily Show]

Rep. Alan Grayson Lists The Amount of People Dead Because of Lack of Health Insurance; Republics Try To Cut His Microphone

The Republic Party

Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) is taking the extraordinary step of reading off the number of people he calculates will die as a result of lacking health insurance — in each district represented by a GOP member of Congress who opposes health care reform.

His approach: Name the district, then name of the Republican, then enumerate the number of people who will die without health insurance based on a Harvard analysis — suggesting that the members were responsible for the body count.

Health Care Industry Operates Shadow Congress of Lobbyists

Healthcare Reform, Lobbyists

Sunlight Foundation

NA-AU684_BLAGO1_D_20081214163713

The Washington Post reports today that the health care industry, in its attempt to influence the debate over health care reform, has hired at least 350 former government staffers and former members of Congress to lobby on the issue. With the many connections these former government workers have, particularly former members of Congress or congressional chiefs of staff, they will have near saturation coverage of the 535 current members of Congress. They also are operating with seemingly bottomless funding. The industry is currently spending $1.4 million a week on lobbying. Perhaps, the most unparrelled lobbying campaign ever.

Now the Post story has a few caveats that indicate that this lobbying campaign is probably larger than their reporting shows. For one:

The analysis identified more than 350 former government aides, each representing an average of four firms or trade groups. That tally does not include lobbyists who did not report their earlier government experience, such as PhRMA President W.J. “Billy” Tauzin, a former Republican congressman from Louisiana. Federal law does not require providing such detail.

Lobbying disclosure reports contain a field for listing prior government work, but this field is often left empty by lobbyists with government experience. If someone like Billy Tauzin, who is the poster boy for everything wrong with the revolving door, does not list his previous work as a leading lawmaker, what hope do we have for the many lesser former government workers to list their previous government work. I’d assume that the number of former government employees working in this campaign far exceeds 350.

One other aspect of the story highlights something which we’ve discussed here, lobbying contacts. The real problem with the revolving door is the unusual amount of access that former government officials, particularly members of Congress, have to current government officials. And that includes the ability to meet, call, or email with staffers or lawmakers to push their client’s agenda. Of course, Congress does not require any disclosure of lobbying contacts, thus obscuring the role that these 350+ lobbyists are having in the process of crafting a health care reform bill that will affect everyone in the country.

If you want to see other reporting on the network of former government staffers turned health care lobbyists, we’ve been looking at the Senate Finance Committee — “the central broker in the [health care] debate,” according to the Post — and the connections each lawmaker has with health care lobbyists. You can see our visualization of Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus’ connections or our visualization of all Senate Finance Committee Democrats and their connections. I’ll be posting about the Senate Finance Committee Republicans this week.

Waterboarding Used 266 Times on 2 Suspects

CIA, Rendition, Torture

THE NEW YORK TIMES

April 20, 2009

CHICKENHAWK GRAHAMC.I.A. interrogators used waterboarding, the near-drowning technique that top Obama administration officials have described as illegal torture, 266 times on two key prisoners from Al Qaeda, far more than had been previously reported.

The C.I.A. officers used waterboarding at least 83 times in August 2002 against Abu Zubaydah, according to a 2005 Justice Department legal memorandum. Abu Zubaydah has been described as a Qaeda operative.

A former C.I.A. officer, John Kiriakou, told ABC News and other news media organizations in 2007 that Abu Zubaydah had undergone waterboarding for only 35 seconds before agreeing to tell everything he knew.

The 2005 memo also says that the C.I.A. used waterboarding 183 times in March 2003 against Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the self-described planner of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The New York Times reported in 2007 that Mr. Mohammed had been barraged more than 100 times with harsh interrogation methods, causing C.I.A. officers to worry that they might have crossed legal limits and to halt his questioning. But the precise number and the exact nature of the interrogation method was not previously known.

The release of the numbers is likely to become part of the debate about the morality and efficacy of interrogation methods that the Justice Department under the Bush administration declared legal even though the United States had historically treated them as torture.

President Obama plans to visit C.I.A. headquarters Monday and make public remarks to employees, as well as meet privately with officials, an agency spokesman said Sunday night. It will be his first visit to the agency, whose use of harsh interrogation methods he often condemned during the presidential campaign and whose secret prisons he ordered closed on the second full day of his presidency.

C.I.A. officials had opposed the release of the interrogation memo, dated May 30, 2005, which was one of four secret legal memos on interrogation that Mr. Obama ordered to be released last Thursday.

Mr. Obama said C.I.A. officers who had used waterboarding and other harsh interrogation methods with the approval of the Justice Department would not be prosecuted. He has repeatedly suggested that he opposes Congressional proposals for a “truth commission” to examine Bush administration counterterrorism programs, including interrogation and warrantless eavesdropping.

The Senate Intelligence Committee has begun a yearlong, closed-door investigation of the C.I.A. interrogation program, in part to assess claims of Bush administration officials that brutal treatment, including slamming prisoners into walls, shackling them in standing positions for days and confining them in small boxes, was necessary to get information.

The fact that waterboarding was repeated so many times may raise questions about its effectiveness, as well as about assertions by Bush administration officials that their methods were used under strict guidelines.

A footnote to another 2005 Justice Department memo released Thursday said waterboarding was used both more frequently and with a greater volume of water than the C.I.A. rules permitted.

The new information on the number of waterboarding episodes came out over the weekend when a number of bloggers, including Marcy Wheeler of the blog emptywheel, discovered it in the May 30, 2005, memo.

The sentences in the memo containing that information appear to have been redacted from some copies but are visible in others. Initial news reports about the memos in The New York Times and other publications did not include the numbers.

Michael V. Hayden, director of the C.I.A. for the last two years of the Bush administration, would not comment when asked on the program “Fox News Sunday” if Mr. Mohammed had been waterboarded 183 times. He said he believed that that information was still classified.

A C.I.A. spokesman, reached Sunday night, also would not comment on the new information.

Mr. Hayden said he had opposed the release of the memos, even though President Obama has said the techniques will never be used again, because they would tell Al Qaeda “the outer limits that any American would ever go in terms of interrogating an Al Qaeda terrorist.”

He also disputed an article in The New York Times on Saturday that said Abu Zubaydah had revealed nothing new after being waterboarded, saying that he believed that after unspecified “techniques” were used, Abu Zubaydah revealed information that led to the capture of another terrorist suspect, Ramzi Binalshibh.

The Times article, based on information from former intelligence officers who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Abu Zubaydah had revealed a great deal of information before harsh methods were used and after his captors stripped him of clothes, kept him in a cold cell and kept him awake at night. The article said interrogators at the secret prison in Thailand believed he had given up all the information he had, but officials at headquarters ordered them to use waterboarding.

He revealed no new information after being waterboarded, the article said, a conclusion that appears to be supported by a footnote to a 2005 Justice Department memo saying the use of the harshest methods appeared to have been “unnecessary” in his case.

Jane Hamsher Calls Bullshit On Rahm Emmanuel's 'This Week' Appearance

Jay Bybee, John Yoo, Rahm Emanuel, Steven Bradbury, Torture, Waterboarding

JANE HAMSHER Gets it done; as usual…

Because someone has to

OXDOWN GAZETTE/ FIREDOGLAKE

Rahm on This Week:

STEPHANOPOLOUS:  The President has ruled out prosecutions of CIA officials who believed they were following the law.  Does he believe the officials who devised the policies should be immune from prosecution?

RAHM:  Yeah, what he believes is, look, as you saw in that statement he wrote.  And I think, just take a step back.  That he came up with this, and he worked on this for four weeks.  Wrote that statement Wednesday night, after he made his decision, and dictated what he wanted to see and then Thursday morning I saw him in the office, he was still editing it.  He believes that people in good faith were operating with the guidance they were provided.   They shouldn’t be prosecuted.

STEPHANOPOLOUS:   But what bout those who devised the policies?

RAHM:  But those who devised the policies –he believes that they were — should not be prosecuted either.  And it’s not the place that we go — as he said in that letter, and I really recommend that people look at that full statement.  Not the letter, the statement. In that second paragraph:  This is not a time for retribution.  It’s a time for reflection.  It is not a time to use our energy and our time in looking back, and in a sense of anger and retribution.  We have a lot to do to protect America.  What people need to know, this practice and technique, we don’t useany more.  He banned it.

Is that truly what the administration thinks?  That people who want to see those who illegally led the country down the road of torture held to account are simply “looking back” in “anger” and “retribution”?  Fifty percent of the country favor such investigations, including 69% of Democrats and a majority of independents.  Is Rahm saying that President Obama believes they’re nothing more than an angry, vindictive mob, and that nobody could possibly have a rational basis for believing that our laws should be enforced?

Manfred  Nowak, the United Nations top torture investigator, says that treaties entered into by the United States require criminal investigations:

The United States, like all other states that are part of the U.N. convention against torture, is committed to conducting criminal investigations of torture and to bringing all persons against whom there is sound evidence to court.

How does Rahm rationalize the President’s stated goal to “restore our moral standing” in the world with thumbing our noses at the international agreements we’ve entered into?  Is there an “except when we don’t feel like it” clause?

The United States has 5% of the world’s population, but nearly 25% of its prisoners.  There is something terribly inconsistent about a Senior Administration official like Rahm Emanuel insisting that an elite few should not be subject to our laws, and that people who take issue with this have no higher motive than counterproductive rage.

Sign the petition telling Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate torture here.

Live From The District of Columbia! It's The Nancy and Rahm Show

Barack Obama, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Rahm Emmanuel, U.S. Congress, U.S. Senate

POLITICO (DRUDGE LIGHT)

In a recent conversation with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Rahm Emanuel offered some advice on a Democratic House leadership race. Pelosi’s response, according to several Democratic sources: It is “an internal House Democratic Caucus matter, and we’ll handle it.”

Democratic insiders say there’s no animosity between Pelosi and Emanuel, who’s leaving his post as chairman of the House Democratic Caucus to become the next White House chief of staff.

But the speaker is laying down the law nonetheless.

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In talks with Emanuel and others, sources say, Pelosi has “set parameters” for what she wants from Barack Obama and his White House staff — no surprises, and no backdoor efforts to go around her and other Democratic leaders by cutting deals with moderate New Democrats or conservative Blue Dogs.

Specifically, Pelosi has told Emanuel that she wants to know when representatives of the incoming administration have any contact with her rank-and-file Democrats — and why, sources say.

During the Bush years, the White House set policy, and Republicans on Capitol Hill were expected to follow it. Former Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) occasionally lashed out at former White House chief of staff Andy Card or other senior administration aides when he felt they had gone too far. But in general, Republican lawmakers followed Bush’s lead on every major legislative battle, from Iraq to tax and spending bills to anti-terror policies. With the exception of immigration reform, the House fight over the $700 billion Wall Street bailout package and last week’s meltdown over a bailout for the Big Three automakers, Bush got what he wanted from Congress, especially within his own party.

Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) are signaling that they won’t tolerate a repeat with a Democrat in the White House and Democratic majorities in the House and the Senate.

Pelosi “is not going to allow Obama to triangulate her,” said a Democratic source close to the leadership. “It’s not going to happen to her.”

Pelosi’s mantra, in a way, is “no surprises.” The speaker wants to be told when Reid is communicating with the Blue Dogs or other factions with her caucus, and she expects the same from Obama when he arrives in the Oval Office, said Democratic sources.

“We certainly are in frequent communication with the [Obama] transition team,” said Brendan Daly, Pelosi’s communications director. Daly noted that Pelosi and Emanuel have long-standing ties — she appointed him to head up the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee at the start of 2005 — and added that Emanuel often speaks directly with John Lawrence, Pelosi’s chief of staff.

Daly said Pelosi will work closely with Obama and Reid to craft an economic stimulus package early next year, as well as other economic recovery legislation.

“She and President-elect Obama have the same goals,” Daly added. “It’s a matter of working together to get things done.”

Pelosi herself said the same about Obama in an interview with Bloomberg’s Al Hunt last week, stating that “our priorities are the same about creating good-paying jobs.”

But it won’t always be that easy. Capitol Hill veterans predict that, no matter how much goodwill there is at the start of a new administration, there are always battles over policy and legislative priorities between the White House and Congress.

“There is tension. There is going to be tension,” said a Democratic veteran of Capitol Hill. “This is not Hastert. She wants to know what they are up to.”

The Emanuel-Pelosi relationship is a complex one that defies easy explanation. Emanuel was a rising star inside the Democratic Caucus — with many members convinced he would be speaker one day — until Obama tapped him for the West Wing job. In large part, Emanuel owed his rise to Pelosi, who put him in charge of the DCCC, where he helped lead the Democrats back to the House majority after 12 years out of power.

From the DCCC, Emanuel moved up to the chairmanship of the caucus. But both he and Pelosi had stocked the DCCC with their own loyalists after the 2006 election, and they both tried to influence campaign strategy as subtly as possible through these surrogates. At the same time, Emanuel was often jockeying with other members on major legislation, including immigration reform and the Wall Street bailout, but rarely without the speaker’s blessing.

Pelosi sometimes resisted Emanuel’s desire to always be on the attack, but she did respect his insight and his willingness to work hard to achieve legislative and political goals. She refused to back Emanuel when he made noises about running for majority whip, the post now held by Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.). But when Obama approached him about the chief of staff job, Emanuel consulted Pelosi first.

Yet the two will find themselves on different ends of Pennsylvania Avenue next year, and that will change the nature of their current relationship profoundly.

“Look, they have different goals now,” said an aide to one top Democrat. “Her job is to protect her members; his job is protect Obama. Those can’t always be the same thing.”

This source added: “I think they will do what they can to work together, but these are two strong-willed people who are used to getting their way. There’s bound to be some areas of disagreement. We’ll just have to see how they handle it.”

The Nationalization of the Auto Industry?

Auto Industry, Big Three, Congress, Nationalization, Senate
International Herald Tribune
Taking risks with bailout for U.S. automakers
Tuesday, December 9, 2008

WASHINGTON: When President-elect Barack Obama talked on Sunday about realigning the American automobile industry he was quick to offer a caution, lest he sound more like the incoming leader of France, or perhaps Japan.

“We don’t want government to run companies,” Obama told Tom Brokaw on “Meet the Press.” “Generally, government historically hasn’t done that very well.”

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But what Obama went on to describe was a long-term government bailout that would be conditioned on government oversight. It could mean that the government would mandate, or at least heavily influence, what kind of cars companies make, what mileage and environmental standards they must meet and what large investments they are permitted to make — to recreate an industry that Obama said “actually works, that actually functions.”

It all sounds perilously close to a word that no one in Obama’s camp wants to be caught uttering: nationalization.

Not since Harry Truman seized America’s steel mills in 1952 rather than allow a strike to imperil the conduct of the Korean War has Washington toyed with nationalization, or its functional equivalent, on this kind of scale. Obama may be thinking what Truman told his staff: “The president has the power to keep the country from going to hell.” (The Supreme Court thought differently and forced Truman to relinquish control.)

The fact that there is so little protest in the air now — certainly less than Truman heard — reflects the desperation of the moment. But it is a strategy fraught with risks.

The first, of course, is the one the president-elect himself highlighted. Government’s record as a corporate manager is miserable, which is why the world has been on a three-decade-long privatization kick, turning national railroads, national airlines and national defense industries into private companies.

The second risk is that if the effort fails, and the American car companies collapse or are auctioned off in pieces to foreign competitors, taxpayers may lose the billions about to be spent.

And the third risk — one barely discussed so far — is that in trying to save the nation’s carmakers, the United States is violating at least the spirit of what it has preached around the world for two decades. The United States has demanded that nations treat American companies on their soil the same way they treat their home-grown industries, a concept called “national treatment.”

Yet so far, there is no talk of offering aid to Toyota, Honda, BMW or the other foreign automakers that have built factories on American soil, employed American workers and managed to make a profit doing so.

“If Japan was doing this, we’d be threatening billions of dollars in retaliation,” said Jeffrey Garten, a professor at the Yale School of Management, who as under secretary of commerce in the 1990s was one of many government officials who tried in vain to get Detroit prepared for a world of international competition. “In fact, when they did something a lot more subtle, we threatened exactly that,” referring to calls for import restrictions.

Garten said he was stunned by the scope of the intervention that Washington was now considering. “I don’t know that we’ve seen anything like this since the government told the automakers what kind of tanks to make during World War II,” he said. “And that was just for the duration of the war — this could be for much, much longer.”

It is hard to measure just what kind of chances Obama may be taking with this plan, in part because so many parts of it are still in motion.

In the short term, Democrats are floating the idea of linking $15 billion in immediate loans to the designation of a “car czar” who, in doling out the money, could require or veto big transactions or investments — essentially a one-man board of directors. The White House indicates that President George W. Bush, who has spent his entire presidency proclaiming that the government’s role is to create an environment that spurs free enterprise and minimizes government regulation, would very likely sign the rescue plan.

The first $15 billion and the car czar who oversees it, however, are only the beginning. “After that, we’re in uncharted water,” said Malcolm Salter, a professor emeritus at Harvard Business School who has studied the auto industry for two decades and, until a few years ago, was an adviser to General Motors and Ford. “Think about this: Who in the federal government would have the tremendous insight needed to fix this industry?”

Depending on how the longer-term revamping of the industry proceeds, Washington could become a major shareholder in the Big Three, it could provide loans, or, in one course that Obama seemed to hint at on Sunday, it could organize what amounts to a “structured bankruptcy.” In that case, the government would convene the creditors, the unions, the shareholders and the company’s management, and apportion a share of the hit to each of them. If that “consensus building” sounds a lot like the role of the Japanese Ministry of International Trade and Industry in the 1970s and the 1980s, well, it is.

To promote the Japanese car industry on the way up, the trade ministry nudged companies toward consolidation, and even tried to mandate which parts of the market each could go into. (Soichiro Honda, the founder of the company, rebelled when bureaucrats told him he was supposed to limit himself to making motorcycles.) By the 1980s, Congress was denouncing this as “industrial policy,” and arguing that it put American makers at a competitive disadvantage — and polluted free enterprise.

Now, it is Congress doing exactly that, but this time as emergency surgery. Other nations will doubtless complain, or begin doing the same for their own companies. “We’re at this moment in history, in which the Chinese are touting that their system is better than ours” with their mix of capitalism and state control, said Garten, who has long experience in Asia. “And our response, it looks like, is to begin replicating what they’ve been doing.”

Lobbyists Jonesing U.S. Treasury For Helping Of Sweet Bailout Pie

Barack Obama, community banks, Congress, Henry Paulson Jr, Lobbyists, Treasury Department, U.S. Treasury

International Herald Tribune

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IHT DOT COM

DEELICIOUS!!

Lobbyists swarm the U.S. Treasury for a helping of bailout pie

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

WASHINGTON: When the U.S. government said it would spend $700 billion to rescue the American financial industry, it seemed to be an ocean of money. But after one of the biggest lobbying free-for-alls in memory, it suddenly looks like a dwindling pool.

Many new supplicants are lining up for an infusion of capital as billions of dollars are channeled to other beneficiaries like the American International Group, and possibly soon American Express.

Of the initial $350 billion that Congress freed up, out of the $700 billion in bailout money contained in the law that passed last month, the Treasury Department has committed all but $60 billion. The shrinking pie — and the growing uncertainty over who qualifies — has thrown Washington’s legal and lobbying establishment into a mad scramble.

The Treasury Department is under siege by an army of hired guns for banks, savings and loan associations and insurers — as well as for improbable candidates like a Hispanic business group representing plumbing and home-heating specialists. That last group wants the Treasury to hire its members as contractors to take care of houses that the government may end up owning through buying distressed mortgages.

The lobbying frenzy worries many traditional bankers — the original targets of the rescue program — who fear that it could blur, or even undermine, the government’s effort to stabilize the financial system after its worst crisis since the 1930s.

Among the most rattled are community bankers.

“By the time they get to the community banks, there may not be enough money left,” said Edward Yingling, the president of the American Bankers Association. “The marketplace is looking at this so rapidly that those who have the money first may have some advantage.”

Adding to the frenzy is the possibility that the next Congress and White House could change the rules further. President-elect Barack Obama has added his voice by proposing that the struggling automakers get U.S. government aid, which could mean giving them access to the fund — something the Treasury secretary, Henry Paulson Jr., has resisted.

Despite the line outside its door, the Treasury is not worried about running out of money, according to a senior official. It has no plans to ask lawmakers to free the second $350 billion of the rescue package during the special session of Congress that could begin next week.

That could limit the pot of money available, at least until the next Congress is sworn in next January. Meanwhile, the list of candidates for a piece of the bailout keeps growing.

On Monday, the Treasury announced it would inject an additional $40 billion into AIG, amid signs that the government’s original bailout plan was putting too much strain on the company. American Express won approval Monday to transform itself into a bank holding company, making the giant marketer of credit cards eligible for an infusion.

Then there is the National Marine Manufacturers Association, which is asking whether boat financing companies might be eligible for aid to ensure that dealers have access to credit to stock their showrooms with boats — costs have gone up as the credit markets have calcified. Using much the same rationale, the National Automobile Dealers Association is pleading that car dealers get consideration, too.

“Unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of good news for them individually,” said Jeb Mason, who as the Treasury’s liaison to the business community is the first port-of-call for lobbyists. “The government shouldn’t be in the business of picking winners and losers among industries.”

Mason, 32, a lanky Texan in black cowboy boots who once worked in the White House for Karl Rove, shook his head over the dozens of phone calls and e-mail messages he gets every week. “I was telling a friend, ‘this must have been how the Politburo felt,’ ” he said.

The congressional bailout law gave the Treasury broad authority to decide how to spend the $700 billion. Under the terms of the $250 billion capital purchase program announced last month, cash infusions are available to “qualifying U.S. banks, savings associations, and certain bank and savings and loan holding companies, engaged only in financial activities.”

That definition has grown to include private banks and insurers like Allstate and MetLife, which own savings and loans. It may also encompass industrial lenders like GE Capital and GMAC, the financing arm of General Motors, provided they win approval to reclassify themselves as a bank or savings and loan holding company.

The Treasury set a deadline of Friday for institutions to apply for capital investments, which has meant a grueling few weeks for already overworked officials like Mason.

“Jeb is like the customer service agent at Verizon when the power lines go down,” said Robert Nichols, president of the Financial Services Forum, a trade group for big institutions like Citigroup, Fidelity and Allstate Insurance, some of which have received U.S. government money.

The influential independent and community bankers group, which represents smaller institutions, won an extension of the deadline for privately held banks while the Treasury considers a way for them to participate in its program as well.

The Treasury, several industry executives said, wants to avoid too strict a definition of eligible institutions, in case the Obama administration decides it wants to tweak the requirements for an investment, or even overhaul the rescue program.

Several lobbyists said the Treasury’s model contract acknowledges the possibility that Congress could impose new requirements on recipients of the money, and some Democratic lawmakers have talked about further restricting executive compensation, shareholder dividends or other uses of the money as part of the deal.

“We are like a tenant signing a lease contract with the landlord where the landlord can come back and change the terms after the fact, and in fact we are going to have a new landlord in a couple of weeks,” said Yingling of the bankers association.

The first wave of lobbying came in early October when Paulson announced the plan to buy troubled mortgage-related assets from banks. The Treasury said it would hire several outside firms to handle the purchases, and would dispense with U.S. contracting rules.

Law and lobbying firms that specialize in government contracting fired off dispatches to clients and potential clients explaining opportunities in the new program. Capitalizing on the surge of interest, several large firms, including Patton Boggs; Akin Gump; P & L Gates; Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson; and Alston & Bird, have set up financial rescue shops.

Alston & Bird, for example, highlights its two biggest stars — former Senator Bob Dole and former Senator Tom Daschle. Dole “knows Hank Paulson very well” and has been “very helpful” with the financial rescue groups, said David Brown, an Alston & Bird partner involved in its effort.

“And of course, Senator Daschle is national co-chair of the Obama campaign,” Brown added, noting that because Daschle is not a registered lobbyist, his involvement is limited to “high level advisory and strategic advice.”

Ambac Financial Group, in the relatively obscure bond insurance business, never needed lobbyists before, said Diane Adams, a managing director. But its clients persuaded the company to hire two Washington veterans — Edward Kutler and John O’Rourke — who helped arrange a recent meeting with Phillip Swagel, an assistant Treasury secretary. “We haven’t really asked for much in the past,” Adams said.

Initially, the banks reacted coolly to the prospect of the government taking direct stakes in them. They worried about restrictions on executive pay, and whether there would be a stigma attached. In conference calls with industry groups, Mason helped explain the Treasury proposal — a job he and his colleagues did well, judging by the change of heart among banks.

“The biggest surprise was how quickly it went from ‘I don’t need this,’ to ‘How do I get in?’ ” said Michele Davis, the head of public affairs at the Treasury, who is Mason’s boss.

Underscoring the many ways companies can take part in the rescue fund, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and other Hispanic business groups met with Paulson to push for minority contracts in asset management, legal, accounting, mortgage services and maintenance jobs, like plumbing and masonry.

“They are going to need a lot of folks in minority communities that are able to service their own communities,” said David Ferreira, head of government relations for the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

As the automakers have pushed for U.S. government help, the trade groups for car dealerships and even boat dealerships are pressing their own cases. They argue that showrooms are feeling a squeeze between higher borrowing costs to finance their inventory and slowing consumer sales to move it out the door.

“We have been encouraged by reports that Secretary Paulson is looking to broaden the program,” said Mathew Dunn, head of government relations for the National Marine Manufacturers Association.

On Friday, the automobile dealers sent Paulson a letter urging him to keep them in mind.

“A well-capitalized, financially sound dealer network is essential to the success of every automobile manufacturer,” wrote Annette Sykora, a car dealer in Slaton, Texas, and the chairwoman of the National Automobile Dealers Association. “Any government intervention should include provisions to preserve the viability of dealers.”

Some , Mason said, had called him even though they did not have any clients looking to get into the program or worried about its restrictions. They were merely seeking intelligence on which industries would be deemed eligible for assistance. He suspects they were representing hedge funds that wanted to trade on that information.

Netroots and Chris Dodd Stop Bill To Grant Immunity To Telecoms Who Spied On U.S. Citizens

Stories

From the indispensable Nicole Belle at Crooks And Liars Dot Com

condi-hands.jpg

Chris Dodd Thanks You For Your Support

Chris Dodd thanks the netroots for their support and congratulates his colleagues for their help in the fight against retroactive immunity.

“Today we have scored a victory for American civil liberties and sent a message to President Bush that we will not tolerate his abuse of power and veil of secrecy. The President should not be above the rule of law, nor should the telecom companies who supported his quest to spy on American citizens. I want to thank the thousands of Americans throughout the country that stood with me to get this done for our country.”

The progressive blogs, who played a huge role in lobbying the Senate to support Dodd’s leadership against retroactive immunity, are joining in the celebration now that the FISA bill has been pulled until next year.

In an email, Athenae of First Draft writes, “Seriously, that was some awesome with awesome sauce and a side of pure, crispy win.”

Crooks & Liars has video of Dodd’s closing remarks this evening.

Jason Rosenbaum at The Seminal writes, “This victory means Dodd’s filibuster has weight. It also makes it much more likely that he will win round two as he continues to stand up for the Constitution and against telecom immunity.”

Sam Stein at the Huffington Post sets the early narrative – one which I think accurately describes how events evolved over the course of the last few days – in an article titled “Dodd’s Filibuster Threat Persuades Reid.”[..]

Also, thanks to everyone at FireDogLake for all the help driving activism today.

You can keep giving Chris Dodd the props he’s due at ChrisDodd.com