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Eye Opener: Jan. 28, 2009

By Ed O'Keefe

Eye Opener

Happy Wednesday! Eric Holder gets one step closer to the Justice Department today when the Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to vote favorably on his confirmation. The Senate Intelligence Commitee is also scheduled to approve the nomination of Retired Adm. Dennis C. Blair to serve as direction of national intelligence. Blair's written responses to further questions from the panel seems to have secured his confirmation.

Al "In the Loop" Kamen (an Eye mentor) notes that Timothy Geithner won Senate approval with barely enough to stop a filibuster.

"Since the Carter administration, though, most Cabinet secretaries have either been confirmed easily or forced to withdraw, often kicking and screaming, when it became clear that the votes weren't there. President Bush I Pentagon nominee John Tower was the only one rejected outright, 53 to 47," writes Kamen.

Still, Geithner set new limits on lobbyists' influence over the $700 billion bailout program, while appointing a former Goldman Sachs lobbyist as his chief of staff. Hmm...

In other news...

SEC Lacks Cash, Officials Say: Top SEC officials told a Senate panel that they are taking new steps to identify abuses in the financial markets like those allegedly committed by Bernard L. Madoff, but warned that they lack the money and staff for comprehensive oversight.

Interior Ignored Science: Sec. Ken Salazar tells The Post that DOI will review several last-minute decisions made by the Bush administration. "Science should not be shoved under the table in order to deal with special interests that are knocking at the door. My point of view is, nothing is sacrosanct in terms of being reexamined." Salazar told the LA Times that he's "very concerned about a number of the midnight actions that were taken by the Bush administration. We barely have moved in, but we already know enough to know there are many issues we need to revisit."

Weasels vs. AIDS Relief: Columnist Michael Gerson lambasts the Obama administration for dismissing Dr. Mark Dybul, who was initially asked to stay on as the coordinator of the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. "It is difficult to imagine what vision of public service could cause any Obama official to celebrate a victory by sabotaging a good man and a good cause. And it is difficult to conceive what political gain Obama has achieved. This type of captivity to extreme interests is precisely what has discredited Democrats so often in the past. It is a kind of politics with all the 'newness' of a purge, all the 'freshness' of a mugging."

HIV Discrimination in The Federal Workplace: The Post's Federal Diarist Joe Davidson writes today about a 46-year-old former Green Beret who is HIV-positive and is suing the State Department and private security firm Triple Canopy, because he was pushed out of its training program. He was told the company's government contract requires that employees have no contagious illness.

Name That Stimulus!: The Post's Style section is seeking suggestions on what to call President Obama's economic stimulus package. Maybe "Extreme Makeover: Home Mortgage Edition"?

Gates Says Acquisition Reform a Top Pentagon Priority: Goverment Executive notes that the defense secretary "told the Senate Armed Services Committee that acquisition was 'chief among the institutional challenges' at the Pentagon. A risk-averse culture, an unwieldy and litigious acquisition process, excessive and morphing requirements, and budget instability are the primary issues that must be addressed, he said."

By Ed O'Keefe  | January 28, 2009; 8:26 AM ET
Categories:  Eye Opener  
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