Environment

And I thought yesterday was crazy. Brian Beutler has sources telling him that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is close to rounding up 60 votes for an "opt-out" public option, but that the White House is trying to slam on the brakes. The main reason? Republican Senator Olympia Snowe, whose support the White House covets, is against the idea and prefers some sort of trigger. One source tells Beutler:  They're skeptical of opt out and are generally deferential to the Snowe strategy that involves the trigger...

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Biden was asked about Cheney--and his criticism of the Obama administration's Afghanistan policy review--during an interview with the press pool in Prague: Vpotus pushed back against former VP Cheney’s criticisms this week, saying it was “absolutely wrong” to say the Obama administration is dithering on Afghanistan and that the review left behind by the Bush-Cheney White House was “irrelevant.” At one point, he grew dismissive. Asked about Cheney’s criticism, he said: “Who cares what – ” and then stopped himself to find another way to put it.

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Dick Cheney says the Bush administration left the Obama administration with a plan (and a good one) for Afghanistan: The President’s chief of staff claimed that the Bush Administration hadn’t asked any tough questions about Afghanistan, and he complained that the Obama Administration had to start from scratch to put together a strategy.

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President Obama faces an enormous political challenge in figuring out how to respond to General Stanley McChrystal's request for more soldiers in Afghanistan. One the one hand, resisting troop requests from the military during a time of war is difficult for any chief executive--particularly for Democratic presidents.

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Just when our biggest banks thought they were out of the woods and into the money, the official consensus in their favor begins to crack. The Obama administration’s publicly stated view--from the highest level in the White House--remains that the banks cannot or should not be broken up. Their argument is that the big banks can be regulated into permanently low risk behavior. In contrast, in an interview reported in the NYT this morning, Paul Volcker argues that attempts to regulate these banks will fail: “The only viable solution, in the Volcker view, is to break up the giants.

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Last August, when the White House urged the public to share examples of hysterical health care rumors so the administration could help correct them before they spread too widely, Fox News pundit Charles Krauthammer compared it to "Chicago thug politics," Big Brother, and Hugo Chavez. This time around, he again sees the dark hand of Chicago politics: It is one thing for the government, the administration, to attack opponents, institutions, media.

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It's too early to guarantee that health care reform passes. It's not too early to think about what should happen next. What will it take to make the final reform plan work--to make sure that it really provides affordable coverage while realigining the health care system to produce higher quality, less costly care? And what can be done now, as the debate moves onto the House and Senate floors, in order to make success more likely?

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Last Standish

Standish, Michigan It's two p.m. on a workday, and the casino parking lot is completely full. Hundreds of people have come for the $20 gambling coupons offered to those willing to donate blood. Turnout for the drive was "above and beyond" expectations, says Frank Cloutier, a spokesman for the Saginaw Chippewa Indians, who run the 800-slot complex. The nurses are already turning people away two hours before closing, and they will soon run out of blood bags. "We get free money!" one woman tells me, clutching her coupon as her friends nod in agreement.

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TAKE A HIKE

If readers of The New Republic’s website will let their eyes stroll down the right side of the page, they’ll discover a blog called “The Avenue.” It’s not the sexiest title, and it’s not about the latest White House rumors, but it’s one of the best running commentaries on how the federal government, and state and local governments are trying, or failing, to rebuild the economy.  I’d point to a comment by Mark Muro and Sarah Rahman on the occasion of the Nobel Prize for Physics about how the corporate labs where breakthrough research was nurtured have largely been shut down. And how the Obama a

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The uproar over Superfreakonomics has led to a lot of smart posts being written on the pitfalls associated with "geoengineering" as a response to global warming. Now, as I've mentioned before, "geoengineering" is often used as a catch-all term for a wide variety of schemes to artificially reduce the temperature of the earth, but Nate Silver homes in on the two most audacious ideas out there: -- Finding some mechanism to shoot sulfur into the atmosphere -- this is the approach that Levitt and Dubner concentrate on in SuperFreakonomics.

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