Quick Takes

By Dan Froomkin
11:37 AM ET, 03/12/2009

Charlie Savage writes in the New York Times: "President Obama on Wednesday issued his first signing statement, reserving a right to bypass dozens of provisions in a $410 billion government spending bill even as he signed it into law. In the statement — directions to executive-branch officials about how to carry out the legislation — Mr. Obama instructed them to view most of the disputed provisions as merely advisory and nonbinding, saying they were unconstitutional intrusions on his own powers...David M. Golove, a law professor at New York University who specializes in executive powers, said the prerogatives invoked by Mr. Obama were relatively uncontroversial." (Obama on Monday vowed to restore signing statements to their uncontroversial, pre-Bush role.)

Remember Elkhart, Indiana? Where Obama traveled early last month to call attention to the plight of average Americans? The Associated Press reports: "Roughly 1,600 familes picked up food and other items sent by a charity to economically distressed Elkhart, Ind., which has an unemployment rate of 18.3 percent.... About 300 volunteers handed out the supply packages as hundreds of cars waited in a line wrapped around a shopping mall parking lot and onto surrounding roads."

Washingtonpost.com's Mary Ann Akers interviews Jay Carney, who "just three months after leaving Time magazine" is "already an entrenched partisan trumpeting the message of Vice President Joe Biden."

Kimberly Kindy writes in The Washington Post: "The Bush administration's decision to halt production of an experimental power plant that would capture and store carbon dioxide emissions underground may have set back 'clean coal' technology in the United States by as much as a decade, according to a congressional report released at a hearing yesterday."

Matt Kelley writes in USA Today: "The federal official policing how the $700 billion financial rescue package is spent told Congress on Wednesday that he is investigating whether political pressure affected the distribution of the money. Neil Barofsky, the rescue package watchdog, said he will report his findings on 'what impact, if any, that lobbyists or other outside influences have had' on the Treasury Department's spending of the money."

AFP reports: "The Iraqi journalist who shot to fame for hurling his shoes at former US president George W. Bush was jailed for three years on Thursday, stirring outrage from his family and supporters."

Here's former Karl Rove deputy talking to Australian radio host Eleanor Hall today about the Valerie Plame scandal: "It was a damaging episode and there is no question and it is distracting. And you know one of the things that I think is unfortunate for all political systems is we have this explosion of different media outlets where people can get information. There's increased pressure to create controversy. And I think in this case a good old scandal in Washington and especially if it reaches into the White House, nothing was better." Hall: "You really think the Bush administration got a raw deal from the media? I mean a lot of people would have said Fox News was the president's publicity arm." Jackson: "Well you know with all respect, Fox News versus 'The New York Times', 'The Washington Post', the ABC, CBS, NBC, the blogosphere - it's kind of a mismatched battle."

Cristina Corbin reports for Fox News on the whereabouts of former Bushies. Former vice president Dick Cheney, she writes, has in recent days "held 'small luncheons' to 'invite people to talk about current events -- both on the economic front and on national security issues,' [a source close to Cheney] said. 'He follows what's happening very closely.'"

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