From NBC's Domenico Montanaro
President Obama re-nominated Fed Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. He still has to go through confirmation and Banking Chairman Chris Dodd, who is one of the most vulnerable Senate Democrats in the country right now, said he is prepared to give Bernanke a tough hearing.
The announcement comes on the same day as the administration released its mid-session budget review, which was delayed last month. The budget forecast showed a show smaller-than-once-thought deficit in 2009 and 2010, but a higher than estimated $9 trillion long-term deficit.
The CIA interrogation probe has stirred the predictable food fight here in Washington, splitting Democrats and Republicans. NBC's Andrea Mitchell obtained a statement from former Vice President Dick Cheney just after midnight. Cheney used the opportunity to again question the president's ability to keep the country safe.
"The documents released Monday clearly demonstrate that the individuals subjected to Enhanced Interrogation Techniques provided the bulk of intelligence we gained about al Qaeda," Cheney said in the statement. "This intelligence saved lives and prevented terrorist attacks. These detainees also, according to the documents, played a role in nearly every capture of al Qaeda members and associates since 2002. The activities of the CIA in carrying out the policies of the Bush Administration were directly responsible for defeating all efforts by al Qaeda to launch further mass casualty attacks against the United States. The people involved deserve our gratitude. They do not deserve to be the targets of political investigations or prosecutions. President Obama's decision to allow the Justice Department to investigate and possibly prosecute CIA personnel, and his decision to remove authority for interrogation from the CIA to the White House, serves as a reminder, if any were needed, of why so many Americans have doubts about this Administration's ability to be responsible for our nation's security."
In South Carolina, there are more ethically questionable flights taken by Gov. Mark Sanford. A Republican state senator found that Sanford had taken business class trips to Europe, which cost the state $14,000 more than economy class.
In New York, Rudy Giuliani is STILL mulling a bid to run for governor. According to The New York Times, he's expected to make a decision in 30 to 60 days. He has a couple of things to weigh here before jumping in: the Times points out his business interests, but above all, this is about politics. According to various polls, he'd have a great shot against David Paterson, but not as much against Andrew Cuomo. Cuomo has so far been coy about whether he'll run. He's said he won't, but his lead in the polls may prove too enticing to stay away. Remember, in 2006, Barack Obama said he wasn't running for president in 2008.
In Massachusetts, state Democrats now appear more open to Ted Kennedy's "plea for a temporary appointment to any US Senate vacancy." The state senate president, who had previously (privately) been opposed to the idea "has given him the green light to round up the necessary votes."
Early analysis of next year's 2010 census shows that Texas will likely be the biggest political winner next year. It will likely gain three or four House seats. Others that will likely gain at least one: Arizona, Nevada, Georgia, Florida and Utah. The Wall Street Journal: "Since the number of seats in the House is capped at 435, the gains in the South and West have to be offset by losses elsewhere. New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts and the recession-battered industrial states of Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania each stand to lose a House seat. So does Louisiana, where the population still hasn't rebounded from Hurricane Katrina in 2005, which displaced so many residents that census takers face a difficult task in tallying them all. A state's votes in the presidential Electoral College depend on the size of its congressional delegation, so the census will likely tilt the balance of power slightly, with reliably Republican 'red states' gaining several votes while Democratic strongholds such as New England lose clout."
And if the President Obama wants to fight the perception that he's moving to socialism, it doesn't help that Fidel Castro is jumping to his defense. In a column on state-run media, Castro said Obama inherited many problems from former President Bush and is being attacked by a racist extreme right wing. And Reuters reports it comes as Bill Richardson is in Cuba.