On three separate Fox News programs yesterday -- on Neil Cavuto's show, on Sean Hannity, and on Greta Van Susteren -- the hosts specifically referred to the Democrats' decision to go through "reconciliation" sessions to settle on the final form of the health-care legislation as "the nuclear option."
Now just a gol-darned minute. The "nuclear option" always referred to the possibility of permanently changing Senate rules regarding filibusters so that the minority could not use it so readily to frustrate majority-approved legislation -- and it was an invention of Republicans who were considering bringing it against Democrats.
No such steps are being considered here.
Instead, we're seeing the health-care legislation go through the "reconciliation" process, which assures that it will only need 51 votes to pass. This is a long-established Senate procedure, and was indeed used frequently by Republicans when they controlled the Senate from 2001-2006.
Republicans repeatedly used reconciliation to pass former President Bush's agenda. Republicans used the budget reconciliation process to pass Bush's 2001 and 2003 tax cuts as well as the 2005 "Tax Increase Prevention and Reconciliation Act." The Senate also used the procedure to pass a bill containing a provision that would permit oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. (The final version of that bill signed by Bush did not contain the provision on drilling.)
These people never quit when it comes to twisting reality for their agenda, do they?
NBC caught a man outside the NH town hall with a gun strapped to his leg. It appears to be legal as long as it's not concealed in Portsmouth. And get this. He's on private property and if the owner of the property consents then he can carry the cannon on his leg. What's weird about that is the private property is a church. A man of GOD thinks it's swell to let this man carry a loaded weapon on church grounds. What would Jesus think?
Carlos: You're saying a guy has a gun in the open and we already know there are concerns about every president 's safety, but certainly this president...and the guy's just being allowed to stay there, is that right?
Allen: The Chief of Police, I just asked him because I was amazed too, but apparently the law allows this man to be here as long as the gun is not concealed, it is registered to him apparently and he's on private property on a church ground...
Do you think anybody would be allowed to be near President Bush who had a huge gun strapped on his leg? I doubt that, but this is the country the right wing wants us to live in. And if Sen. John Thune had his way, it wouldn't matter what NH law said if the state that this man came from did let you walk around with a gun. Unbelievable.
In an appointment that senior Justice Department officials say demonstrates the Obama administration’s commitment to reversing the Bush administration’s politicization of the Department, a U.S. attorney fired by President Bush was reappointed to his old job on Friday.
Daniel Bogden, who was fired in the fall of 2006 by the Bush administration as the U.S. attorney in Nevada, was offered his old job back by President Obama, and was formally nominated on Friday.
Bogden’s confirmation by the Senate is all but assured: He has spent his entire adult life in government service, and as a former U.S. attorney was confirmed by the Senate previously. He was also thoroughly vetted for his new position by the White House Counsel’s office prior to his most recent nomination, even though he was vetted during his first appointment as U.S. attorney by the Bush administration. Moreover, he has the backing of both his home-state senators: Harry Reid, a Democrat, and John Ensign, a Republican. That Reid is a Senate Majority Leader, and that Reid personally suggested to the President that Bogden get his old job back probably, won’t hurt matters.
Ironically, Bogden’s formal reappointment as U.S. attorney comes exactly one day after former Bush political adviser Karl Rove gave sworn testimony before the House Judiciary Committee regarding the firings of Bogden and eight other U.S. attorneys fired by the Bush administration. A federal grand jury is currently investigating whether Bush administration officials and members of Congress obstructed justice in pressing for one or more of the firings, and also, whether they misled Congress as to why the prosecutors were fired.
Bogden’s firing in the fall of 2006 is referred to by many in the Justice Department as the firing that came about as a result of some sort of Immaculate Conception: For two years, the Justice Department’s two watchdog agencies, its Inspector General and Office of Responsibility, spent 18 months investigating the firings of the nine U.S. attorneys. When it came to Bogden, however, the investigators were not only unable to determine why he was fired, but even who ordered his firing. Every single Justice Department official and Bush administration official interviewed by investigators disclaimed responsibility for his firing. Isn't that typical Bush/Cheney dealings?
Bogden’s appointment to his old job by Obama appears to a historical first: He will be the first U.S. attorney to be appointed and fired by the same President, only to be appointed U.S. attorney again by another President. How strange it all is and I believe as time goes by we'll see a lot more of these "irregularities" pop up, don't you think?
WASHINGTON – A House panel has subpoenaed documents that lawmakers say could shed new light on Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's role in Bank of America's acquisition of Merrill Lynch.
The subpoena comes ahead of a hearing next week in which Bernanke is scheduled to testify.
Lawmakers have accused Bernanke and President Bush's treasury secretary, Hank Paulson, of pressuring Bank of America Corp. Chief Executive Kenneth Lewis into the deal and urging him to keep quiet about Merrill's financial problems.
Not divulging that information would have violated Lewis' fiduciary duty to the bank's shareholders.
Lawmakers also have questioned whether Lewis threatened not to go through with the merger in order to squeeze money from the government.
The Republicans are so devoid of leadership that they couldn't even offer up a sitting elected member of their party to go on Meet the Press, so they chose disgraced ex-House Leader Newt Gingrich to debate Sen. Dick Durbin on issues of what they consider national security.
David Gregory should look at his ratings one of these days. Gingrich is a washed up gasbag that FOX News has been using for years to smear the Democratic Party. I know he's a good smear merchant; he's quite the professional, but why is he on MTP in the middle of this discussion? Where is an active member of the GOP? I guess Limbaugh was too busy to come on today and represent like a good homey.
Gingrich immediately smears the military by saying that Durbin can always find a single troop member from the 550K that served in Iraq that would agree with your point of view.
REP. GINGRICH: Let me say, first of all, there were over 550,000 troops who served in Iraq. I'm sure you can find one to agree with you.
Does Gingrich believe that 550K troops were interrogating prisoners? Maj. Alexander is uniquely qualified to speak on such matters since, but Newt effortlessly smears him and then uses 9/11 to fudge the facts. After 9/11, we invaded Iraq which created thousands of more terrorists. There is no debate about this and the horrors at Gitmo and Abu-Ghraib fueled the fire and Gingrich knows it too.
Gregory had to ask Durbin for proof that Gitmo and Abu-Ghraib created more terrorists than ever before. Where has he been these last eight years? Curious that he didn't ask Cheney for proof for his assertions. Durbin has to reiterate the same point twice.
The Glenn Beck show tried to sandbag Barney Frank with one of their roving reporters or producers or whatever they are, but they messed with the wrong guy. ACORN is Beck's villain of the hour and Biff Jenkins asked Frank if he'd hold hearings on ACORN because the right hates them. He got an answer he didn't expect.
Frank: As you know, the Bush administration, every year of the eight years of the Bush administration gave them well over a million dollars for housing counseling, and nobody has shown me any sign that any of that federal money was misspent. You know, I think people are being somewhat unfair to President Bush and his secretaries of HUD who consistently funded ACORN for, as I said, for a total of about 14 million dollars during the Bush years. If someone has evidence that the money that President Bush made available was misspent -- that's what I have jurisdiction over, I don't have jurisdiction over election activities by another ACORN organization -- but if anyone has any evidence, and no one has sent it to me yet, that the Bush administration ignored the misspending of that $14 million, I'll look into it.
Biff: Yes, sir, but would you hold hearings or an investigation ...?
Frank: I think you're being very unfair to President Bush.
OK, his name is not Biff, it's Griff. Frank used this against Michelle Bachmann and when you hit them with facts like this, they really have no response other than to ignore what Barney Frank said and continue with their smears.
I wonder why Beck never asked Republicans to investigate the missing $9 billion in Iraq? I guess Beck still feels like a fool after being exposed as a liar by the ladies of The View.
That House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has badly bungled the imbroglio over what she knew and when about the Bush administration's regime of detainee torture is hard to dispute. Seemingly snatching PR defeat from the jaws of victory, Pelosi should have instead simply called the Republicans' bluff and insisted on investigations of torture architects, perpetrators and "accomplices" alike, letting the bipartisan chips fall where they may. But by savaging Pelosi for her statement that the CIA "misled" Congress, Bush's Republican water carriers are again exhibiting selective amnesia. After all, just two years ago it was the same raging right which insisted the CIA was an "anti-Bush cabal" behind a "bureaucratic coup d’état" seeking to "undermine" the President.
To be sure, the outing of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame in retaliation for her husband's revelations regarding President Bush's bogus claims that Iraq sought uranium in Niger prompted right-wing calls of betrayal by the agency. In March 2007, California Republican Darrell Issa accused Plame of perjury, insisting "She has not been genuine in her testimony before Congress." For his part, former Fox News host John Gibson argued that ending the classified career of CIA agent deeply involved in critical nuclear proliferation work and compromising her global network was essential because "this was about an anti-Bush cabal at the CIA" that needed to be "rooted out."
"I'm the guy who said a long, long time ago that whoever outed Valerie Plame should get a medal. And if it was Karl Rove, I'd pin it on him myself."
Among Speaker Pelosi's interlocutors now is former Intelligence Committee chairman, Republican Pete Hoekstra (R-MI). But as ThinkProgress detailed, years before he claimed Pelosi was "blaming the CIA," Hoekstra blasted "an intelligence community that covers up what it does and then lies to Congress." And when it came to the 2007 NIE which asserted Tehran halted its nuclear program in 2003, Hoekstra insisted the agency was holding back:
Similarly, in 2007, Hoekstra described a closed-door briefing by representatives from the intelligence community (including CIA) on the National Intelligence Estimate of Iran's nuclear capability, saying that the members "didn't find [the briefers] forthcoming."
For his part, Newt Gingrich, who claimed that Nancy Pelosi had "disqualified herself" from the same Speaker's position he once held, took to the op-ed pages to make his case for her to "step down" and to the airwaves to defend Hoekstra. But while Gingrich today redefined what the meaning of "is" is by claiming Hoekstra "did not say the CIA routinely lies," back in December 2007 he accused the CIA of precisely that over the Iran NIE:
"[The NIE] is so professionally unworthy, so intellectually indefensible and so fundamentally misleading that it is damaging to our national security.
[The NIE appears to be a deliberate attempt to undermine the policies of President Bush by members of his own government by suggesting that Iran no longer poses a serious threat to U.S. national security because we apparently have credible reports that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003."
"The National Intelligence Estimate on Iran can only be understood as a bureaucratic coup d’état, deliberately designed to undermine the policies of the United States, on behalf of some weird goal." (Applause)
Bill O'Reilly unleashed one of his patented vicious attacks last night on the ACLU, blaming them for fighting to have photos of detainees being abused by American soldiers released to the public:
O'Reilly: Now, last night we told you that the New York Times and other committed-left media want the pictures out so they can blame them on President Bush and the Republican Party. It is a pure political play. But the ACLU is a different story. That vile organization believes the USA is a bad place, desperately in need of an overhaul. The ACLU sympathizes with the New York Times but takes the situation much farther.
I believe the ACLU is the most dangerous anti-American organization in the country. And if clear-thinking Americans do not confront this group, and their members, and their support system in the media, people will die.
Gee, this all has a familiar ring to it. Back when the ACLU was the only organization to take up the legal cause of the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, the jingoistic Bill O'Reillys of the day similarly attacked them for ostensibly hating America and siding with the enemy.
This was the graffiti painted on Linus Pauling's garage door in San Francisco after he hired a Japanese gardener after the internment camps closed. Pauling's wife was an ACLU activist who had been vocal in opposing their forced evacuation and internment, while Pauling himself had been a "center right" Republican up until the jingoes attacked him and his wife in 1945. It included death threats.
Now, can O'Reilly produce a single shred of evidence -- any document, statement, speech, photo, whatever -- that the ACLU "believes America is a bad place, desperately in need of an overhaul"? No. He's talking out of his rear quarters, as usual.
Mostly, O'Reilly wants us all to forget that clear and irrevocable object lesson of this controversy: Torture makes us less safe.
What's clearly never occurred to O'Reilly is the reality that what he's looking at is one of the very pragmatic and practical reasons American forces have historically eschewed torture: Indulging it not only gives our enemies a rationale to employ it on our own soldiers when captured, but in fact motivates them to capture our soldiers solely for the purpose of retaliatory torture.
The Arabic media is ablaze with the news that Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, the emir of an Afghan training camp — whose claim that Saddam Hussein had been involved in training al-Qaeda operatives in the use of chemical and biological weapons was used to justify the invasion of Iraq — has died in a Libyan jail. So far, however, the only English language report is on the Algerian website Ennahar Online, which reported that the Libyan newspaper Oea stated that al-Libi (aka Ali Abdul Hamid al-Fakheri) “was found dead of suicide in his cell,” and noted that the newspaper had reported the story “without specifying the date or method of suicide.”
In Egypt, he came up with the false allegation about connections between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein that was used by President Bush in a speech in Cincinnati on October 7, 2002, just days before Congress voted on a resolution authorizing the President to go to war against Iraq, in which, referring to the supposed threat posed by Saddam Hussein’s regime, Bush said, “We’ve learned that Iraq has trained al-Qaeda members in bomb making and poisons and deadly gases.”
Four months later, on February 5, 2003, Secretary of State Colin Powell made the same claim in his notorious speech to the UN Security Council, in an attempt to drum up support for the invasion. “I can trace the story of a senior terrorist operative telling how Iraq provided training in these [chemical and biological] weapons to Al Qaeda,” Powell said, adding, “Fortunately, this operative is now detained, and he has told his story.” As a Newsweek report in 2007 explained, Powell did not identify al-Libi by name, but CIA officials — and a Senate Intelligence Committee report — later confirmed that he was referring to al-Libi.
Al-Libi recanted his story in February 2004, when he was returned to the CIA’s custody, and explained, as Newsweek described it, that he told his debriefers that “he initially told his interrogators that he ‘knew nothing’ about ties between Baghdad and Osama bin Laden and he ‘had difficulty even coming up with a story’ about a relationship between the two.” The Newsweek report explained that “his answers displeased his interrogators — who then apparently subjected him to the mock burial. As al-Libi recounted, he was stuffed into a box less than 20 inches high. When the box was opened 17 hours later, al-Libi said he was given one final opportunity to ‘tell the truth.’ He was knocked to the floor and ‘punched for 15 minutes.’ It was only then that, al-Libi said, he made up the story about Iraqi weapons training.”
This is what happens when torture is used: False information is given to stop the madness and suffering.
The Bush administration based a crucial prewar assertion about ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda on detailed statements made by a prisoner while in Egyptian custody who later said he had fabricated them to escape harsh treatment, according to current and former government officials.
The officials said the captive, Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, provided his most specific and elaborate accounts about ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda only after he was secretly handed over to Egypt by the United States in January 2002, in a process known as rendition.
The new disclosure provides the first public evidence that bad intelligence on Iraq may have resulted partly from the administration's heavy reliance on third countries to carry out interrogations of Qaeda members and others detained as part of American counterterrorism efforts. The Bush administration used Mr. Libi's accounts as the basis for its prewar claims, now discredited, that ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda included training in explosives and chemical weapons...read on
But Cheney wants to release memos when he's not in power and had the authority to do so to prove that torture is wonderful. The power to torture can not be handled by men and women. It corrupts and is immoral and nothing justifies it as a policy for America. And as the al-Libi example points out---it can help take a country to war.