Quick Takes

By Dan Froomkin
12:54 PM ET, 06/16/2009

Laura Meckler writes in the Wall Street Journal: "A prominent gay-rights organization, long supportive of President Barack Obama, sent him a scathing letter Monday to protest the administration's recent legal backing of the Defense of Marriage Act. The frustration, expressed in an emotional letter by the president of the Human Rights Campaign, also stems from Mr. Obama's reluctance to move on other issues on its agenda, such as allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military."

David Cho, Brady Dennis and Karl Vick write in The Washington Post: "The Obama administration has turned back pleas for emergency aid from one of the biggest remaining threats to the economy -- the state of California.... After a series of meetings, Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner, top White House economists Lawrence Summers and Christina Romer, and other senior officials have decided that California could hold on a little longer and should get its budget in order rather than rely on a federal bailout.... [F]ederal officials are worried that a bailout of California would set off a cascade of demands from other states."

In the Los Angeles Times, Jim Puzzanghera has more details on Obama's imminent announcement of "the most significant new regulation of the financial industry since the Great Depression, including a new watchdog agency to look out for consumers' interests."

Suzanne Goldenberg writes in the Guardian: "The Obama administration is poised for its most forceful confrontation with the American public on the sweeping and life-altering consequences of a failure to act on global warming with the release today of a long-awaited scientific report on climate change. The report, produced by more than 30 scientists at 13 government agencies dealing with climate change, provides the most detailed picture to date of the worst case scenarios of rising sea levels and extreme weather events: floods in lower Manhattan; a quadrupling of heat waves deaths in Chicago; withering on the vineyards of California; the disappearance of wildflowers from the slopes of the Rockies; and the extinction of Alaska's wild polar bears in the next 75 years. Today's release is part of a carefully crafted strategy by the White House to help build public support for Obama's agenda and boost the prospects of a climate change bill now making its way through Congress."

Bill Dedman writes for msnbc.com: "The Obama administration is fighting to block access to names of visitors to the White House, taking up the Bush administration argument that a president doesn't have to reveal who comes calling to influence policy decisions. Despite President Barack Obama's pledge to introduce a new era of transparency to Washington, and despite two rulings by a federal judge that the records are public, the Secret Service has denied msnbc.com's request for the names of all White House visitors from Jan. 20 to the present. It also denied a narrower request by the nonpartisan watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, which sought logs of visits by executives of coal companies.... Groups that advocate open government have argued that it's vital to know the names of White House visitors, who may have an outsized influence on policy matters."

Steven Aftergood blogs for Secrecy News: "President Obama has still not appointed anyone to the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board... The PIAB has broad responsibility for conducting internal executive branch oversight of intelligence, and it is specifically charged with alerting the President to intelligence activities that may be unlawful or contrary to executive order or presidential directive."

Drudge Report has a fiery letter from Republican National Committee Chief of Staff Ken McKay to ABC News complaining that a prime-time special to be broadcast from the White House next week -- titled "Questions for the President: Prescription for America" -- will "exclude opposing voices" and "become a glorified infomercial to promote the Democrat [sic] agenda." But according to ABC's original press release, Obama "will answer questions from an audience made up of Americans selected by ABC News who have divergent opinions in this historic debate." ABCNews.com will also "invite viewers to join the discussion and share their questions about health care reform" and "will also be working with Digg.com to select popular questions voted on by online users."

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