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In alleged retaliation for Republican stonewalling, President Barack Obama will bypass the Senate and make recess appointments to 15 high-level administration jobs. For context, George W. Bush made more than 170 such appointments; Bill Clinton made nearly 140.

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Could the current climate in Washington, D.C., be discouraging lobbyists from practicing their persuasive trade in and around the White House? Or does the downsizing of their ranks have more to do with the economy than the political zeitgeist on Capitol Hill?

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The bad rap that "faith-based initiatives" got during the last administration hasn't kept the new management at the White House from treating its Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships seriously. It has fleshed out the lineup of advisers to a total of 25 with two new recruits.

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Here are the five most-read stories of the last seven days, including Chris Hedges on America's moral meltdown and Robert Scheer on the economic incompetents who find easy employment in the Obama administration. Full list after the jump.

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Obama speaks disdainfully of "ideology," but there comes a time when first principles need to be articulated. Conservatives have entered this fight with guns blazing while progressives have hidden behind a Maginot Line armed only with the word pragmatism.

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While conservatives cry socialism, the president is trying to steer a moderate course. Moderation, however, may be the wrong recipe. There is something deeply disturbing about the drip, drip, drip of billions into the banking system with no apparent impact.

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President Bush's memo fetish is well documented, but the Obama administration has just made public a series of memos that said the executive had extraordinary powers far beyond those traditionally considered legal. According to the crack legal minds of the Bush administration, the president could overrule the other branches of government.

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