I’m checking out on this beautiful Friday afternoon on the Left Coast. Here’s some links to chew over in case you’re interested.

• Despite facing criticism, Afghan President Hamid Karzai says he supports the US war strategy in his country. And according to Canada’s Globe and Mail, he’s about to replace his entire cabinet. That would signal a commitment to rooting out corruption, anyway.

• More Afghanistan news: the Secretary General of NATO says 25 countries will provide up to 7,000 troops; Bob Gates estimates that drawdown could take 2-3 years; and the CIA is amping up the drone campaign in Pakistan to combine with the escalation. I fail to reconcile the latter with the “hearts and minds” argument of counter-insurgency.

• Obstruction manual author Judd Gregg wasn’t always so enamored of the practice – in 2006, he thundered against Democratic obstructionism which was not of the same piece as the GOP’s, saying “Obstruction has become the only thing which the other side of the aisle appears to be able to do, obstruction for the purpose of obstruction for the purpose of obtaining power around here.”

• Here’s Obama in Allentown, PA today, on the nature of the Senate and the filibuster:

THE PRESIDENT: Congress works incredibly hard, and you guys have a great congressional delegation. But I think they’ll testify to the fact that Congress moves, let’s say, deliberately. (Laughter.) It takes time to get things done in Congress, and it’s — the Senate in particular, just because of the way the rules are constructed. These days you need 60 votes for everything because of the filibuster, which it used to be was applied rarely, but now the opposition just evokes it for everything. I mean, you can be — try to pass a bill to rename a post office, and they’ll say, no, we need 60 votes for that and we need two weeks of debate […] You know, sometimes it gives you a headache just thinking about it, but, look, that’s democracy. That’s part of what makes our government stable is, is it’s not easy to get anything done. But it’s also what makes it frustrating when we have emergency situations.

Actually, democracy is majority vote, and there’s a fine line between stability and paralysis.

• India has now joined the other top polluting nations in offering a plan to slow its pace of carbon emissions. This really bodes well for something happening at Copenhagen, which kicks off next week.

• SEIU is jumping into next week’s Massachusetts Senate race by buying radio ads for Martha Coakley, who is leading the field.

• Houston Mayor Bill White has opted to run for Governor of Texas next year instead of the US Senate. The Democratic Governor’s Association called his entry into the race a “game-changer.”

• Arlen Specter got feisty today talking about the public option to Joe Lieberman and Susan Collins. You have got to love primaries.

• The Obama Administration feels vindicated on their ethics policy now that a Congressional Research Service report states that lobbyists have less influence in government.

• Suzy Khimm has a good story about the Mikulski amendment and how politics may have trumped science on this one. I’m not certain, but it’s a good read. You can definitely see the politics in practice with Dan Burton asking fellow Republicans to wear pink in solidarity with breast cancer patients during the health care debate, which is about as cynical as the GOP can get.

• The DoJ continues to defend John Yoo from responsibility in a torture case. I think this has to be viewed in the light of the recent revelations of detainee abuse during the Obama Administration at Bagram. They don’t want to be responsible, either.

• Bethany McClean has an awesome piece on Goldman Sachs in the current Vanity Fair. This is the corporation that launched a thousand awesome muckraking journalism pieces. Meanwhile, Goldman employees are taking their bonuses in stock this year instead of cash. Oh, how they’ve suffered.

• Speaking of Vanity Fair, Jeremy Scahill speculates that the surprising “Erik Prince is a CIA asset” piece could be a case of Prince engaging in “graymail” to avoid prosecution.

• Blue Arkansas catches up with the creator of the Draft Bill Halter Facebook group.

• Another Republican with a zipper problem. Pretty fascinating story.

• A fantastic speech by New York State Senator Diane Savino of Staten Island on marriage equality. Watch every second of it.

• And finally, we got that b-roll.

David Dayen

David Dayen

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