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Independent's Day: AG Holder Leaning Toward Torture Investigation of Bush Admin

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Obama doesn't want to look back, but Attorney General Eric Holder may probe Bush-era torture anyway.

By Daniel Klaidman

It's the morning after Independence Day, and Eric Holder Jr. is feeling the weight of history. The night before, he'd stood on the roof of the White House alongside the president of the United States, leaning over a railing to watch fireworks burst over the Mall, the monuments to Lincoln and Washington aglow at either end. "I was so struck by the fact that for the first time in history an African-American was presiding over this celebration of what our nation is all about," he says. Now, sitting at his kitchen table in jeans and a gray polo shirt, as his 11-year-old son, Buddy, dashes in and out of the room, Holder is reflecting on his own role. He doesn't dwell on the fact that he's the country's first black attorney general. He is focused instead on the tension that the best of his predecessors have confronted: how does one faithfully serve both the law and the president?

Alone among cabinet officers, attorneys general are partisan appointees expected to rise above partisanship. All struggle to find a happy medium between loyalty and independence. Few succeed. At one extreme looms Alberto Gonzales, who allowed the Justice Department to be run like Tammany Hall. At the other is Janet Reno, whose righteousness and folksy eccentricities marginalized her within the Clinton administration. Lean too far one way and you corrupt the office, too far the other way and you render yourself impotent. Mindful of history, Holder is trying to get the balance right. "You have the responsibility of enforcing the nation's laws, and you have to be seen as neutral, detached, and nonpartisan in that effort," Holder says. "But the reality of being A.G. is that I'm also part of the president's team. I want the president to succeed; I campaigned for him. I share his world view and values."

These are not just the philosophical musings of a new attorney general. Holder, 58, may be on the verge of asserting his independence in a profound way. Four knowledgeable sources tell NEWSWEEK that he is now leaning toward appointing a prosecutor to investigate the Bush administration's brutal interrogation practices, something the president has been reluctant to do. While no final decision has been made, an announcement could come in a matter of weeks, say these sources, who decline to be identified discussing a sensitive law-enforcement matter. Such a decision would roil the country, would likely plunge Washington into a new round of partisan warfare, and could even imperil Obama's domestic priorities, including health care and energy reform. Holder knows all this, and he has been wrestling with the question for months. "I hope that whatever decision I make would not have a negative impact on the president's agenda," he says. "But that can't be a part of my decision." ...(Remainder.)


Rip Van GOP

By Mike Lane


John Ensign: The Clown Show Forges On

By Kevin Drum
Mother Jones

It's hard for a Republican to compete with Mark Sanford and Sarah Palin in the weirdness sweepstakes these days, but Sen. John Ensign is working hard to grab the spotlight back.

Yesterday, I thought that Ensign was doing pretty well on the comic relief front when his pal Sen. Tom Coburn, who has apparently been counseling him about how to handle his messy private life, informed reporters that he would refuse to testify about what he told Ensign. "I was counseling him as a physician and as an ordained deacon," he said. "That is privileged communication that I will never reveal to anybody." Coburn, of course, is an Ob/Gyn.

But then it got better — and less comic. As we all know, Ensign was having an affair with Cindy Hampton, the wife of one of his former aides, and yesterday we learned that Ensign got his parents to pay $96,000 in hush money to the Hamptons. Why $96,000? According to Ensign's lawyer, his mother and father gave $12,000 apiece to Cindy Hampton, her husband, Doug, and two of their children in the form of a single check. Hilzoy piles on:
$96,000 is a lot of money. Interestingly, it is precisely the amount you can give as a gift without having to report it to the IRS, multiplied by eight: one gift of $12,000 from each parent to Ensign's lover, her husband, and two of their children. I wonder what the IRS will make of that? I certainly hope that neither of the parents has made use of their children's money, or done anything else to suggest that this was all one big gift split up to avoid paying gift tax, or (more likely) having to report the gift. It's bad enough asking your parents to cough up $96,000 to cover up your indiscretions; asking them to violate the tax code and risk prison is a whole lot worse.

On the other hand, if the $96,000 was all one big gift, then I don't have to feel so bad for the one Hampton child who mysteriously got no gift at all. (There are three. I believe the oldest is 19.) If the gifts were genuine, it might be hard to explain to that third child why his or her siblings just got $24,000 from Mommy's lover's parents while s/he got nothing at all, not to mention why Mommy's lover's parents suddenly started feeling so generous.
Obviously Sarah Palin is now going to have to do something even more bizarre than last week's lakeside press conference if she wants people to start paying attention to her again. I wonder what she'll dream up?...(Remainder.)


"I'm Not a Quitter"

By John Sherffius
Boulder Daily Camera


The Fox Nation Declares Victory Over Obama

By Mark
News Corpse

From the start, the Fox Nation presented itself as a community intended to reflect “your values, your voice.” In its official Statement of Purpose they claim that…
“The Fox Nation is for those committed to the core principles of tolerance, open debate, civil discourse–and fair and balanced coverage of the news.”
And from the start, that has been a lie. The brazenly partisan web site has never bothered to uphold even a pretense of tolerance, open debate, or civil discourse. A brief venture into the comments posted on their overtly biased news items exposes a population consumed with hostility and a bitter disgust for government and the democratic process they profess to revere.

Displayed on the site’s featured stories today is headline that goes farther than ever to reveal the true role that Fox Nation was created to play. The role, not of a fair and balanced source for news, but of an advocate for a far-right agenda and an opponent of the progressive policies and values for which the American people just voted. The headline reads “FOX Nation Victory! Obama’s Drive for Climate Change Bill Delayed!



Noonan Tells Us What She Really Thinks

By Steve Benen
Washington Monthly

In September, in one of the presidential campaign's more refreshing and unscripted moments, conservative columnist Peggy Noonan chatted with NBC's Chuck Todd about Sarah Palin, when both thought their microphones were off. Palin's addition to the Republican ticket, Noonan said, was "political bullshit."

Ten months later, Noonan's opinion of the resigning Alaska governor seems to have deteriorated further. In her Wall Street Journal column today, Noonan just unloads on Palin, characterizing her, accurately, as everything that's wrong with Republican politics in the 21st century. She even recognizes conservative claims about Palin, only to quickly knock them down.
"The elites hate her." The elites made her. It was the elites of the party, the McCain campaign and the conservative media that picked her and pushed her. The base barely knew who she was. It was the elites, from party operatives to public intellectuals, who advanced her and attacked those who said she lacked heft. She is a complete elite confection. She might as well have been a bonbon.

"She makes the Republican Party look inclusive." She makes the party look stupid, a party of the easily manipulated.

"She shows our ingenuous interest in all classes." She shows your cynicism.

"Now she can prepare herself for higher office by studying up, reading in, boning up on the issues." Mrs. Palin's supporters have been ordering her to spend the next two years reflecting and pondering. But she is a ponder-free zone. She can memorize the names of the presidents of Pakistan, but she is not going to be able to know how to think about Pakistan. Why do her supporters not see this? Maybe they think "not thoughtful" is a working-class trope!

"The media did her in." Her lack of any appropriate modesty did her in.
Noonan, methodically and thoroughly, simply takes Palin apart, detailing the governor's inability to be thoughtful, unwillingness to learn what others think, reluctance to explain or even understand her own policy positions, and tendency to say things that are "scattered, illogical, manipulative and self-referential to the point of self-reverence."...(Remainder.)


Obama Hatred

By Jacob Heilbrunn
TPM Cafe

Every once in awhile--heck, make that at least once a week--Charles Krauthammer writes something about President Obama that sets a new record for outlandish commentary. The former speechwriter for Walter Mondale turned neocon has become convulsed, more than almost any other columnist, by Obama hatred. Today's Washington Post column announces that Obama, in seeking better ties with Russia, is, in essence, destroying American national security for decades to come. Obama, Krauthammer alleges, is on the verge of selling out ballistic missile defense.

But Krauthammer's argument rests on a number of unpersuasive assumptions. For one thing, he states that "we can reliably shoot down an intercontinental ballistic missile," while Russia cannot. Actually, we can't. The tests have been iffy at best and there's no sound reason to believe that America can "reliably" shoot down an incoming missile, as nice as that might be. Krauthammer also alleges that Mikhail Gorbachev tried to "swindle" Ronald Reagan out of a missile defense system during negotiations at Reykjavik in 1986.

He did? The man who unilaterally dismantled the Soviet empire was nothing more than a swindler? In reality, Gorbachev was proposing a deal--elimination of nuclear weapons in exchange for an American commitment to confine itself to laboratory testing of missile defense for a decade, which is basically what happened anyway, even though Reagan refused the deal. But there was nothing underhanded about the negotiations. A swindle implies deceit.

Krauthammer's real objective is to undermine any incipient detente in U.S.-Russia relations. According to him, Obama's pathetic eagerness for negotiations (as opposed to confrontation) about arms reductions forms the "perfect distraction from the major issue between the two countries: Vladimir Putin's unapologetic and relentless drive to restore Moscow's hegemony over the sovereign states that used to be Soviet satrapies." Well. Putin is intent on carving out a sphere of influence over Georgia, but that does not amount to a "relentless drive" to restore the entire Soviet empire. Anyway, Obama made it clear that he's not acceding to Putin's desire to bully Georgia....(Remainder.)


Justice Ginsberg on Judicial Diversity

By TChris
Talk Left

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, asked whether criticisms of Judge Sonia Sotomayor's intelligence and attitude are gender-based, gave this spot-on answer:
I can’t say that it was just that she was a woman. There are some people in Congress who would criticize severely anyone President Obama nominated. They’ll seize on any handle. One is that she’s a woman, another is that she made the remark about Latina women. [In 2001 Sotomayor said: “I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.”] And I thought it was ridiculous for them to make a big deal out of that. Think of how many times you’ve said something that you didn’t get out quite right, and you would edit your statement if you could. I’m sure she meant no more than what I mean when I say: Yes, women bring a different life experience to the table. All of our differences make the conference better. That I’m a woman, that’s part of it, that I’m Jewish, that’s part of it, that I grew up in Brooklyn, N.Y., and I went to summer camp in the Adirondacks, all these things are part of me.
The importance of judicial diversity is exactly the point conservatives refuse to acknowledge when they contend that only conservative judges (who not coincidentally are overwhelmingly white males) "follow the law." [more ...]

Republicans contend that conservative judges follow the law while liberal activist judges make the law. As TalkLeft posts have often discussed, that argument is absurd. Interpreting ambiguous laws and applying statutes and constitutional provisions to new fact situations is a judicial responsibility. Each time an appellate court addresses a legal question that has not been squarely answered by binding precedent or legislation, it is "making law."...(Remainder.)


The GOP's Young Hatermonger

Audra Shay, accused of endorsing racism on Facebook, is favored to become the head of the Young Republicans tomorrow. John Avlon uncovers new details about her disturbing online comments.

By John Avlon
The Daily Beast

Thirty-eight-year-old Audra Shay’s campaign to become the next chairman of the Young Republicans went from obscure to infamous over the past week, after The Daily Beast revealed details of posts of her Facebook account. Specifically, a thread where one of her friends posts that ““Obama Bin Lauden [sic] is the new terrorist… Muslim is on there side [sic]… need to take this country back from all of these mad coons… and illegals,” and Shay responds eight minutes later with: “You tell em Eric! lol.”

Following those revelations, several Young Republican colleagues urged Shay to remove herself from tomorrow’s election at the group’s convention in Indianapolis—a request Shay, the favorite going in to the vote, has pointedly refused. Instead, she said that she was responding to an earlier post from her friend, and labeled criticism against her “political attacks” which “proves that my opponents will stoop to the lowest levels to steal this election from the jaws of victory.”

Now, The Daily Beast has obtained more troubling details about her online musings—despite clear attempts by Shay to scrub her social-networking pages clean. Specifically:

* In October 2008, in the wake of news that an effigy of Sarah Palin was being hung outside an affluent Hollywood home as an offensive Halloween decoration, Shay replied, returning to the “LOL” style that she employed after the “coons” comment: “What no ‘Obama in a noose? Come on now, its just freedome [sic] of speech, no one in Atlanta would take that wrong! Lol.”...(Remainder.)


Hannity and Bachmann Telling More Lies About ACORN and Barney Frank

By Heather
Crooks and Liars

Another day, another hit piece on ACORN from Fox News. This time from Sean Hannity and Michelle Bachmann. Andy Birkey at the Minnesota Independent has the breakdown on this segment:
Rep. Michele Bachmann continued her campaign against Rep. Barney Frank and the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) on Fox News’ Hannity on Wednesday. Despite Bachmann’s claims on the show, a new bill introduced by Frank will not funnel money to ACORN and ACORN is not “under indictment” in 12 states for “voter fraud.”

Frank recently introduced a bill to “use amounts made available under the Troubled Assets Relief Program of the Secretary of the Treasury for relief for homeowners and neighborhoods.” Described as a neighborhood stabilization program, the funds would go to help depressed communities hit hard by the foreclosure crisis.

But Bachmann sees an evil scheme to give money to ACORN.

“Now Barney Frank thinks that [TARP funds] should go out to his friends in ACORN,” she told Sean Hannity. “He is serious about this, about funneling this little bit of money back out to ACORN.”

That little bit of money? “This would be an additional $1.5 billion for ACORN,” she said. “And don’t forget, in over 12 states so far this year ACORN has been indicted for voter fraud.”

The bill itself never mentions ACORN. In fact, it specifically spells out who gets the money:
the Secretary of the Treasury shall transfer $1,500,000,000 to the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and such Secretary shall use such amounts for assistance to States and units of general local government for the redevelopment of abandoned and foreclosed homes.


Sarah the Quitter

By J.D. Crowe
The Mobile Register


Jane Hampsher Eviscerates Jillian Bandes Over Health Care on MSNBC

By Heather
Crooks and Liars

Jane Hamsher takes on Townhall wingnut Jillian Bandes on MSNBC over health care reform. The argument got personal when Jane talked about what she's had to put up with as a sixteen year cancer survivor.
Hamsher: Seventy six percent of the American public want a public plan, and as a sixteen year cancer survivor myself, I really find it offensive that people try and drag others into this and say that somehow our system that we have right now represents the fifty million people who are uninsured, or that it does anything..

Bandes: Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa...

Hamsher:...superior for people like me, for people like me who've had to be at the mercy of bureaucrats....

Bandes: I'm sorry I'm not a cancer survivor, but that doesn't mean I can't criticize the public plan.

Hamsher:...and insurance companies that won't pay your bills. Yeah, well I suppose you are, but you don't know what you're talking about.


Hamsher: The people in this country who have to go and face bureaucrats who will not pay their bills and have to face financial ruin in order to get themselves treated, is criminal. Basic health care access should be a basic human right in America. We spend two trillion dollars on the banks last year....

Bandes: Should food be a basic human right?

Hamsher:....and now we're talking about that we cannot... Do you have any, do you have any pride whatsoever? Do you have any shame when you go out there and you say this kind of stuff, and when you interrupt people when they're trying to talk about their own personal experience?
Obviously Jane, she doesn't or she wouldn't be shilling for the insurance companies.

Jane's got more over at Firedoglake's Campaign Silo: Health Care: It’s Time To Get Mad and as Think Progress noted, for most of the world, food is considered a basic human right....(Original.)


Rep. Dennis Kucinish Annihilates Right-Wing Lie Merchant Dr. David Gratzer Over Health Care


America Honors Leaders

By Kate Davison
Associated Press via Yahoo! News

In this picture provided by the environmental group Greenpeace, Greenpeace climbers rappel down the face of Mount Rushmore National Memorial in Keystone, S.D. on Wednesday, July 8, 2009 to unfurl a banner that challenges President Obama to show leadership on global warming. Obama is at the G8 meeting in Italy to discuss the global warming crisis with other world leaders. A federal prosecutor says a dozen people were taken into custody on Wednesday after the incident.


Sex Scandals, Moral Hypocrisy and the Far Right Agenda in Central America: C Street Band

By Nikolas Kozloff

As the Republican Party implodes the public is becoming aware of a secretive Christian society known as the Family or the Fellowship. The group was founded in 1935 in opposition to FDR's New Deal and its adherents subscribe to a far right Christian fundamentalist and free market ideology. A minister named Abraham Vereide founded the Family after having a vision in which God visited him in the person of the head of the United States Steel Corporation (no, I’m not making this up). The Family has a connection to house on C Street in Washington, D.C., known simply as C Street. Officially registered as a church, the building serves as a meeting place and residence for conservative politicians.

Few members of the fellowship talk about the group’s mission. The organization organizes the annual National Prayer Breakfast which is attended by the president, members of Congress, and diplomats from around the world. Earlier this year Obama presented his Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships at the event. According to Jeff Sharlet who wrote a book about the group the Family’s philosophy is based on “a sort of trickle-down fundamentalism,” which believes that the wealthy and powerful, if they “can get their hearts right with God ... will dispense blessings to those underneath them.” True believers in market orthodoxy, Family members think that God's will operates directly through Adam Smith's “invisible hand.”

The Family’s current leader Doug Coe is secretive but enjoys considerable political influence as a spiritual adviser. When South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, himself a visitor and a kind of honorary alumni at C Street, compared his political difficulties involving his affair with an Argentine woman to those of biblical King David the South Carolina politician was falling back on a central figure in Family theology. You could “almost hear Doug Coe’s voice” coming out of Sanford, Sharlet remarks.

C Street’s stately red brick, $1.1 million building is subsidized by secretive religious organizations and is located a mere stone’s throw away from the Capitol. Lawmakers who live there include Reps. Zach Wamp, R-Tenn.; Bart Stupak, D-Mich.; Jim DeMint, R-S.C.; Mike Doyle, D-Pa.; and Sens. John Ensign, R-Nev., Tom Coburn, R-Oklahoma, and Sam Brownback, R-Kan. The lawmakers, all Christians, live in private rooms upstairs and pay an incredibly low rent --- a paltry $600 --- to live at C Street....(Remainder.)


Gay Couple Cuffed, Cited After Kiss Near LDS Temple: Pathetic Mormon Homophobes at it Again

By Lindsay Whitehurst
The Salt Lake Tribune

A gay couple says they were detained by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints security guards after one man kissed another on the cheek Thursday on Main Street Plaza.

"They targeted us," said Matt Aune, 28. "We weren't doing anything inappropriate or illegal, or anything most people would consider inappropriate for any other couple."

Aune and his partner, Derek Jones, 25, were cited by Salt Lake City police for trespassing on the plaza, located at 50 East North Temple, according to Sgt. Robin Snyder.

In a written statement, church spokeswoman Kim Farah denied the two were singled out for being gay.

"Two individuals came on church property and were politely asked to stop engaging in inappropriate behavior -- just as any other couple would have been," she said. She declined to comment on what is considered inappropriate behavior, and on the rules governing the plaza.

Though Salt Lake City sold the property to the church in the late 1990s, it remains a popular pedestrian thoroughfare, and a site where couples often pose affectionately for photos.

The Salt Lake Police Department on Friday denied a Salt Lake Tribune request for a full police report on the incident, citing Utah laws giving them five business days to respond to records requests.

Snyder refused to name the reason security guards gave for alerting police, saying it is "irrelevant."

"If a person is asked to leave private property
for whatever reason and refuses to do so, that is technically trespassing," she said....(Remainder.)


Texas Restaurant Doesn't Want Any of "That Faggot Stuff"

I really hope that the ACLU and these guys are going to sue the holy fucking bejesus out of this place. These homophobic bastards need to be taught a lesson.

By Andrew Kreighbaum and Darren Meritz
El Paso Times

EL PASO -- Two gay men kissed at a Chico's Tacos restaurant, prompting guards to eject them and a police officer to endorse their ouster.

Civil-rights lawyers say the security staff was out of line. Police, though, contend that a business such as a restaurant can refuse service to anybody, any time.

In all, five men were ordered to leave the restaurant. They say they were forced out by homophobic guards.

"It was a simple kiss on the lips," said Carlos Diaz de Leon, a gay man who was part of the group.

He called police at 12:30 a.m. June 29 because he said the guards and restaurant had discriminated against the group after two of his friends kissed in public.

The five men, all gay, were placing their order at the Chico's Tacos restaurant on Montwood when the men kissed. All five sat down, but the two guards at the restaurant told them to leave.

De Leon quoted one of the guards as saying he didn't allow "that faggot stuff" in the restaurant.

De Leon said they refused to leave and called police for help. He said an officer arrived about an hour later in response to calls from his group and the guards.

As they waited for police, the guards directed other anti-gay slurs at them, he said.

Already angry at the guards, de Leon and his group became angrier at the two police officers who arrived.

"I went up to the police officer to tell him what was going on, and he didn't want to hear my side," de Leon said. "He wanted to hear the security guard's side first."...(Remainder.)


The Right-Wing Prescription for Economic Recovery: Lionize the Rich and Demonize the Poor

Wing-nut commentary about the crisis blames the victims. As if things weren't already bad enough.

By Dylan Headley

As if the fact of the world financial meltdown – which, one is told, is the worst since the Great Depression -- isn’t dreary enough, the steady stream of right-wing commentary about the crisis makes matters worse in the salt-in-the-wound sense that it, typically, blames the victims, lionizes the villains, attempts to deflect blame from the criminals and proffers that the greed that totally poisoned the system in the first place is in fact the answer to all our problems.

Take, for instance, Ross Douthat, a young conservative pundit whose white, privileged, Harvard-educated, East Coast Money pedigree makes him uniquely qualified to lecture the lower classes on how to behave. He advises the mopey, repressed, upper-middle "creative" class to swing, baby. But he tells the irresponsible rabble of the lower orders, on the other hand, to chill:
Our meritocrats [sic] could stand to leaven their careerism with a little more romantic excess. (Though such excess is more appropriate in the young, it should be emphasized, than in middle-aged essayists and parents.) But most Americans, particularly those of modest means, would benefit from greater caution and stability in their romantic entanglements.
For their own good, of course. Satisfying Douthat's own priggish sense of morality has nothing to do with it. Nothing. Neither does the right-wing, lizard-brained, shorthand of promiscuous poor people = more poor babies = more welfare = higher taxes have anything to do with it.

Actually, this may truly not have anything to do with it for Douthat, whose foremost pleasure in life seems to be scolding people about sex, but it does have something to do with it for the right-wingers who, when they say "liberty" and "freedom" actually mean "the right to economic sociopathy."...(Remainder.)


Obama Puts Evangelical in Charge of National Institute of Health -- Will His Religion Get in the Way of Science?

Francis Collins has defended practices derided by the God squad. But a man committed to reconciling faith and science brings back bad Bush memories.

By LIliana Segura

This week, news broke that President Barack Obama plans to nominate geneticist Dr. Francis Collins to head the National Institutes of Health, the premier federal medical research facility in Bethesda, Md., just outside Washington.

Collins's claim to fame is having led the Human Genome Project, the ambitious scientific endeavor that achieved a landmark goal: unlocking the DNA code of humanity.

In 2000, Collins stood alongside President Bill Clinton in the East Room of the White House as he announced this epic breakthrough. "Today, we are learning the language in which God created life," Clinton declared, lending the event a touch of religious gravitas. "We are gaining ever more awe for the complexity, the beauty and the wonder of God's most divine and sacred gift."

If Clinton's religious pronouncement raised eyebrows at the time, it was Collins who would attract lasting controversy for his own religious beliefs. In an article published Thursday, the New York Times described his "very public embrace of religion" as one potential barrier standing in the way of his confirmation. Indeed, writing about that momentous day at the White House a few years later, Collins recalled Clinton's words and made a surprising admission:

"Was I, a rigorously trained scientist, taken aback at such a blatantly religious reference by the leader of the free world at a moment such as this? Was I tempted to scowl or look at the floor in embarrassment? No, not at all. In fact, I had worked closely with the president's speechwriter in the frantic days just prior to this announcement and had strongly endorsed the inclusion of this paragraph. When it came time for me to add a few words of my own, I echoed this sentiment: 'It's a happy day for the world. It is humbling for me, and awe-inspiring, to realize that we have caught the first glimpses of our own instruction book, previously known only to God.' "...(Remainder.)


Rep. Dennis Kucinich: People Love Insurance Companies! Right?

This world would most certainly be a much different place, for the better you right-wing morons, if we had more people like Dennis Kucinich in charge.


David Brooks: A GOP Senator Put 'His Hand On My Inner Thigh' for a 'Whole' Dinner Party

By Matt Corley
Think Progress

Earlier this week, New York Times columnist David Brooks wrote about how “the dignity code” has been “completely obliterated” in Washington, DC. Discussing the concept on MSNBC today, Brooks recalled how he “sat next to a Republican senator once at dinner and he had his hand on my inner thigh the whole time”:
BROOKS: You know, all three of us spend a lot of time covering politicians and I don’t know about you guys, but in my view, they’re all emotional freaks of one sort or another. They’re guaranteed to invade your personal space, touch you. I sat next to a Republican senator once at dinner and he had his hand on my inner thigh the whole time. I was like, ehh, get me out of here.


BROOKS: I can only imagine what happens to you guys.

O’DONNELL: Sorry, who was that?

BROOKS: I’m not telling you, I’m not telling you.

Brooks said that he has “spoken to a lot of young women who are Senate staffers and they’ll have these middle age guys who are sort of in the middle of a mid-life crisis. Emotionally needy, they don’t know how to do it and sort of like these St. Bernards drooling everywhere.” Watch it:



President Obama Weekly Address: Recovery and the Jobs of the Future


Rush Limbaugh: Big, Fat, Nazi Lardass


Good Morning America: Video Clears Up Obama G8 Photo


Ex-Senator Graham: Cheney, CIA Lied to Congress About Domestic Spying

By Jason Leopold
The Public Record

The history of the CIA is replete with examples of agency officials obscuring key details when telling members of Congress about controversial programs. In the 1980s, CIA Director William Casey was famous for mumbling over such points and gruffly reacting when asked to repeat himself.

Other times, the CIA's official briefing records have clashed with the contemporaneous notes of congressional participants. For instance, former Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Bob Graham, D-Florida, says an intelligence document, which claimed he was briefed about the Bush administration's domestic surveillance program on two dates in 2001 and 2002, was contradicted by his own schedule, which showed that no such briefings took place.

Graham also said that during briefings he did attend, he was never told that the Bush administration planned to spy on American citizens.

In an interview with ABC's "Nightline" on Dec. 15, 2005 - after the New York Times disclosed the existence of the warrantless wiretapping program - Graham said he attended meetings in Vice President Dick Cheney's office and discussed surveillance activities, but added that neither Cheney nor then-National Security Agency Director Michael Hayden spoke about a plan to spy on Americans. (CIA Director George Tenet also took part in the meeting.)

"The issue was whether we could intercept foreign communications when they transited through U.S. communication sites," Graham said. "The assumption was that if we did that, we would do it pursuant to the law, the law that regulates the surveillance of national security issues. ...

"There was no suggestion that we were going to begin eavesdropping on United States citizens without following the full law. There was no reference made to the fact that we were going to use that as the subterfuge to begin unwarranted, illegal - and I think unconstitutional - eavesdropping on American citizens."...(Remainder.)


Congress Urged to Probe Claims 'Racial Extremists' Infiltrating the Military

By The Public Record

A prominent civil rights organization called on Congress Friday to investigate growing evidence that racial extremists are infiltrating the US military in order to ensure that the armed forces are not inadvertently training future domestic terrorists.

In a letter to committee chairmen with oversight over homeland security and the armed services, the Southern Poverty Law Center said it recently found dozens of personal profiles on a neo-Nazi website where individuals listed "military" as their occupation - the latest evidence of extremist infiltration gathered by the SPLC. It also cites FBI and Department of Homeland Security reports supporting the SPLC's concerns.

"Evidence continues to mount that current Pentagon policies are inadequate to prevent racial extremists from joining and serving in the armed forces," SPLC founder Morris Dees wrote. He added, "Because the presence of extremists in the armed forces is a serious threat to the safety of the American public, we believe Congressional action is warranted."

The letter was sent to the chairmen of the House and Senate committees on Homeland Security and Armed Services. The SPLC has raised its concerns with Pentagon officials since publishing a report in 2006, but no apparent action has been taken.

In recent months, SPLC investigators found approximately 40 personal profiles that listed "military" as an occupation on the Internet forum New Saxon, which is operated by the neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement. One individual, who claims to be serving in Afghanistan, lists as his favorite book "The Turner Diaries," which was written by neo-Nazi leader William Pierce. The book served as a blueprint for the Oklahoma City bombing by Gulf War veteran Timothy McVeigh. Another individual said he was about to be deployed overseas and was looking forward to "killing all the bloody sand niggers." Still another spoke of his hatred for undocumented immigrants.

The SPLC has been involved with this issue for more than two decades. In 1986, the SPLC presented evidence to Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger that Marines were participating in Ku Klux Klan paramilitary activities and urged him to prohibit all military personnel from being members of, or participating in, the activities of white supremacist groups. Although Weinberger issued a directive addressing extremist activity, it ultimately proved inadequate....(Remainder.)


Time for a Second Revolution?

Via Truthdig

Hold on to your latte, there are some seriously pissed-off white Americans out there who are not happy with the way things are going—and they’re armed. Truthdig’s Chris Hedges leads this tour of “Americana: The 2nd Revolutionary War.”


Obama Arrives in Ghana

By Scott Stearns
VOA News

Ghanaian dancers and drummers welcomed Mr. Obama and his family to Accra's international airport where they were met by President John Atta Mills.

After a brief meeting Friday evening, the two presidents are to be joined for breakfast Saturday by former Ghanaian leaders John Kufuor and Jerry Rawlings. President Mills was elected earlier this year following a closely-contested vote in which President Kufuor's party peacefully gave up power.

It was Ghana's fifth successive civilian election since 1992 - a democratic track record that President Obama says is one of the reasons he is making Ghana his first stop in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Mr. Obama says he wants to highlight the achievements of stable countries that are governed well, where leadership is accountable to the people and institutions are stronger than any one person.

Ghana's capital is strung with American and Ghanaian flags. Billboards of the two leaders and of President and Mrs. Obama line the road from the airport. More than 10,000 police are on duty to maintain security during the one-day trip.

There had been high expectations for President Obama addressing thousands of Ghanaians at the nation's Independence Square. But the start of the rainy season has moved that speech indoors to a conference center....(Remainder.)

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In Ohio, Biden Defends Stimulus Package

Vice President Fires Back at GOP and Critics

By Peter Slevin
The Washington Post

CINCINNATI, July 9 -- In a campaign-style speech designed to seize the initiative from Republican critics and reassure voters that the White House has a plan to rescue the lagging economy, Vice President Biden forcefully defended the administration's economic recovery package on Thursday and asked for patience.

Biden said money from the $787 billion stimulus bill is flowing and will flow faster, directly saving public service jobs. He urged Americans to recognize the severity of the administration's inherited problems and promised, "You're going to see more pace on the ball."

"Remember, we're only 140 days into this deal. It's supposed to take 18 months," Biden said during his appearance in a pivotal electoral battleground state where unemployment has reached 10.8 percent and support for President Obama's handling of the economy has fallen below 50 percent in some polls.

Referring to the Republicans who have upped their attacks on the stimulus package in hopes of turning next year's midterm elections into a referendum on Democratic economic policy, Biden asked: "Would they do nothing?"...(Remainder.)


Monsanto's Man Taylor Returns to FDA in Food-Czar Role

By Tom Philpott

In a Tuesday afternoon press release, the FDA announced that Michael Taylor, a former Monsanto executive, had joined the agency as “senior advisor to the commissioner.” If the title is vague, the portfolio (pasted from the press release) is substantial—a kind of food czar of the Food and Drug Administration:
• Assess current food program challenges and opportunities
• Identify capacity needs and regulatory priorities
• Develop plans for allocating fiscal year 2010 resources
• Develop the FDA’s budget request for fiscal year 2011
• Plan implementation of new food safety legislation
Taylor’s new position isn’t his first in government. He’s a veteran apparatchik who has made an art of the role-swapping dance between the food industry and the agencies that regulate it. (The FDA’s press release highlights his government service while delicately omitting his Monsanto daliances.) In her 2002 book Food Politics, the nutritionist and food-industry critic Marion Nestle describes him like this (quote courtesy of La Vida Locavore):
Mr. Taylor is a lawyer who began his revolving door adventures as counsel to FDA. He then moved to King & Spalding, a private-sector law firm representing Monsanto, a leading agricultural biotechnology company. In 1991 he returned to the FDA as Deputy Commissioner for Policy, where he was part of the team that issued the agency’s decidedly industry-friendly policy on food biotechnology and that approved the use of Monsanto’s genetically engineered growth hormone in dairy cows. His questionable role in these decisions led to an investigation by the federal General Accounting Office, which eventually exonerated him of all conflict-of-interest charges. In 1994, Mr. Taylor moved to USDA to become administrator of its Food Safety and Inspection Service ... After another stint in private legal practice with King & Spalding, Mr. Taylor again joined Monsanto as Vice President for Public Policy in 1998.
“Vice president for public policy” means, of course, chief lobbyist. Monsanto had hired him to keep his former colleagues at USDA and FDA, as well as Congress folk, up to date on the wonders of patent-protected seed biotechnology....(Remainder.)


President Obama Meets the Pope

(Pope Benedict XVI greets President Barack Obama at the Vatican, Friday, July 10, 2009.
Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

(President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama are escorted by Swiss Guards and Vatican
ushers at the Vatican, Friday, July 10, 2009. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

(President Barack Obama and Pope Benedict XVI enter the Pope's study at the Vatican,
Friday, July 10, 2009. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

(President Barack Obama and Pope Benedict XVI meet in the Pope's study at the Vatican,
Friday, July 10, 2009. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

(President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama meet with Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican,
Friday, July 10, 2009. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)


Bush's Secret NSA Spying May Have Tainted Prosecutions, Report Warns

By Ryan Singel

Threat Level @

The Justice Department needs to investigate whether the secretiveness of Bush’s warrantless wiretapping program tainted terrorism prosecutions by hiding exculpatory evidence from defendants, an oversight report from five inspectors general warned Friday.

The report (.pdf), mandated by Congress, also warned that President’ Bush’s post-9/11 extrajudicial intelligence programs involved unprecedented collection of communications, and that the government needs to be careful about storing and using that data.

Senator Russ Feingold, Wisconsin Democrat who sits on the Intelligence committee, said the report showed the programs were “outrageous” and called for more declassification.

“This report leaves no doubt that the warrantless wiretapping program was blatantly illegal and an unconstitutional assertion of executive power,” Feingold said. “I once again call on the Obama administration and its Justice Department to withdraw the flawed legal memoranda that justified the program and that remain in effect today.”

The government has only admitted to eavesdropping on calls and e-mails where one end was overseas and one person was suspected to be a terrorist. It has never officially confirmed that it sucked in the telephone records of millions of Americans or eavesdropped wholesale on the internet, despite repeated media reports and confirmations from Congress members. But the report makes clear that there were more intelligence programs that the so-called “Terrorist Surveillance Program” that the administration acknowledged after the New York Times revealed in December 2005.

Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) said the report shed some light on the hidden legal machinations of the Bush administration’s secret spying programs, but that a nonpartisan commission was needed to really find out what happened....(Remainder.)


Recent Attacks on Immigrants Tell Us Who We Are

By Yolanda Chávez Leyva
The Progressive

We need to speak out against the ugliness that is fueling anti-immigrant violence and taking lives.

The most recent example of how far some anti-immigrant people have gone is the home invasion-murder of Raul Flores and his 9-year old daughter, Brisenia, in Arizona on May 30.

Two of the three people charged with the murders have connections with an anti-immigrant group.

Shawna Forde actually founded the Minutemen American Defense (MAD) after being ousted by the more well-known Minutemen Civil Defense Corps. Her organization’s website issued a statement that said, “Shawna acted totally on her own personal agenda and has caused a lot of pain, embarrassment, and humiliation to the total Minuteman movement and fellow members of MAD.”

The continuing anti-immigrant rhetoric, fueled by politicians, vigilantes, and political pundits, has created an atmosphere where killing immigrants is acceptable.

Take, for example, the death of 25-year-old Luis Ramirez in Shenandoah, Pa., last July. Ramirez, an undocumented worker from Mexico and father of two, was brutally beaten by white teenagers, eventually dying from a kick to the head. At least one of the teenagers had used a racial epithet against Ramirez. Nevertheless, a jury refused to convict the teenagers of murder, bringing in a conviction only on the charge of simple assault.

Last year, another group of teenagers murdered Ecuadoran immigrant Marcelo Lucero in Patchogue, N.Y. The teens reportedly said that they were looking to “beat up some Mexicans.”...(Remainder.)


Obama's Subtle Palin Jibe: "Africa is a Continent, Not a Country"

By Stephen Webster
The Raw Story

Speaking in Italy today, President Obama appeared to make a subtle jibe at none other than retiring Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.

See if you catch it, right at the beginning:

Yes, you will recall the Alaska governor who bragged about being able to see Russia from her home state, turned out to be pretty uninformed on even the most basic details of the world, it appears.

According to Fox News' Carl Cameron, Palin thought Africa was a country -- not a continent -- and didn't know which countries were party to the North American Free Trade Agreement. (That would be the US, Mexico and Canada.)

Of course, Palin came back later in a cushy sit-down with Fox host Greta van Susteren and denied the whole thing, then blamed bloggers for her misfortune.

Also interesting to note about that link above: She told Greta that God would show her the path to the White House ... And this was after she and McCain had lost the election....(Original.)


GOP NJ Assembly Candidate: "If You Want to Act Like Niggers, Go Back to Paulsboro"

By Wally Edge

Republican State Assembly candidate Lee Lucas told neighbors "if you want to act like niggers, go back to Paulsboro," according to a 2006 Greenwich Township police report detailing a neighbor dispute.

"Yeah, I said that," a police officer says Lucas told him.  "It's my freedom of speech. I can say what I want while I'm on my property."

Newly-elected Gloucester County GOP Chairman Bill Fey and Assembly Majority Leader Alex DeCroce (R-Parsippany) have called on Lucas to drop out of the race amidst other allegations of racially insensitive remarks.  Don't expect Lucas to leave the race anytime soon.

Sources say that Lucas was not invited to attend an event in Gloucester County on Monday that will feature GOP gubernatorial candidate Christopher Christie and Republican National Chairman Michael Steele.  Steele, who is African American, will likely be asked if he supports Lucas, the winner of the June 2 Republican primary.

Police were called when Lucas was shouting at three neighbors he accused of cutting down a tree at his Gibbstown home.

"He came at me like a crazy man, stating something to the following ‘get the hell off my fence. I'm trying to provoke you. Get over here and hit me," neighbor Kyle Still told police.  Still and another neighbor, Mark Salvatore, said they cut down branches from a tree at their homes that had been damaged in a storm.  One of the branches may have feel on Lucas' property....(Remainder.)


Vast Majority of Scientists say Bush Admin Suppressed Research Findings

By John Byrne
The Raw Story

A new Pew Research Poll released Thursday found that a vast majority of scientists -- some 77 percent -- say that claims the Bush Administration suppressed research reports that didn't align with Administration's point of view are true.

The survey polled more than 2,500 scientists in collaboration with the American Association for the Advancement of Science."Most scientists had heard at least a little about claims that government scientists were not allowed to report research findings that conflicted with the Bush administration’s point of view," Pew wrote. "And the vast majority (77%) says that these claims are true. By contrast, these claims barely registered with the public – more than half heard nothing at all about this issue. Only about a quarter of the public (28%) said they thought the claims were true."

Strikingly, perhaps as a result of the perceived Bush Administration stance, very few scientists identified as Republicans. Just six percent of those polled said they identified as Republicans, with 32 percent self-identifying as independent and 55 percent saying they consider themselves Democrats.

Only nine percent of scientists identified as conservative.



A $30,000 an Hour Attorney? Palin Report Overstates Inquiries' Costs

By Sean Cockerham
Anchorage Daily News

 There's some double counting and other problems with a spreadsheet outlining $1.9 million in state costs for ethics complaints, public records requests and lawsuits directed at Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

The administrative director in the governor's office, Linda Perez, conceded that some costs were counted twice and said "the total cost is overstated by $26,849." She said she missed that the Department of Law's updated numbers included costs that were already counted.

"It was my error . . . mea culpa," said Perez, who has worked for governors of both parties since the 1980s.

Perez said she's going to ask the Department of Law about some other puzzling parts of the spreadsheet, including a line item that says 0.3 attorney hours added up to $10,063 in costs.

That would add up to an attorney billing of over $30,000 an hour, and Perez said the flat billing rate the state uses for its attorneys is $121.98 an hour. Perez said she would check and see what costs beyond the staff time went into that calculation of over $10,000 in costs.

There are also discrepancies between two pages provided by the administration detailing attorney hours on ethics complaints. For example, one sheet lists 119.4 attorney hours adding up to $14,564.41 for work on an ethics complaint, but the other page says it was 13.3 attorney hours adding up to almost the same amount, $14,565, for work on that same "Troopergate" related complaint....(Remainder.)


The Stimulus Trap

By Paul Krugman
The New York Times

As soon as the Obama administration-in-waiting announced its stimulus plan — this was before Inauguration Day — some of us worried that the plan would prove inadequate. And we also worried that it might be hard, as a political matter, to come back for another round.

Unfortunately, those worries have proved justified. The bad employment report for June made it clear that the stimulus was, indeed, too small. But it also damaged the credibility of the administration’s economic stewardship. There’s now a real risk that President Obama will find himself caught in a political-economic trap.

I’ll talk about that trap, and how he can escape it, in a moment. First, however, let me step back and ask how concerned citizens should be reacting to the disappointing economic news. Should we be patient and give the Obama plan time to work? Should we call for bigger, bolder actions? Or should we declare the plan a failure and demand that the administration call the whole thing off?

Before you answer, consider what happens in normal times.

When there’s an ordinary, garden-variety recession, the job of fighting that recession is assigned to the Federal Reserve. The Fed responds by cutting interest rates in an incremental fashion. Reducing rates a bit at a time, it keeps cutting until the economy turns around. At times it pauses to assess the effects of its work; if the economy is still weak, the cutting resumes....(Remainder.)

Read more... to Put an End to Freeloading Readers!

By Glynnis MacNicol

The time has come. Maybe. For months now rumors have been circulating that the financially strapped New York Times was considering charging for content in some form or other. At one point they were even floating some fairly creative solutions. It’s a topic that’s been much discussed in media circles particularly as the economy took a heavy and fast toll on the media world. For a while there it felt like it was the only topic being discussed — I certainly chattered about it a lot at FishbowlNY (my guess was usually that it would happen before the year was out). Now it looks like they may be ready to make it a reality. Per Bloomberg:
New York Times Co. said in a survey of print subscribers that it’s considering a $5 monthly fee for access to its namesake newspaper’s Web site.

In the survey, Times Co. also asked whether subscribers would be willing to pay a discounted fee of $2.50 a month for Web access. The Web site,, is currently free. Catherine Mathis, a spokeswoman for New York-based Times Co., confirmed the survey in an e-mail.
What is arguably most amazing about this decision is that it took so long! All the news that’s fit to print for free online seemed reasonable back when it was merely a digital version of the print edition, with infrequent updates. However, the premise has become increasingly ridiculous now that the has become so many people’s direct source (I just polled the office space here and not one person had a paper edition, which costs $2.00 at the newsstand each day)....(Remainder.)


Obama Pondering Big-Ag Man for Key USDA Meat-Safety Role

By Tom Philpott

I normally don’t write about rumors or inside information. I aspire to be like the late journalist I.F. Stone, who scorned the dubious allure of insider “access” and kept his nose in government documents, where useful information leaks out. Today—as in its own time—Stone’s work makes much more worthwhile reading than that of his contemporaries who chummed up to insiders.

But I just got hold of a rumor that’s so weird, and from such a credible source, that I can’t resist writing about it. I am given to understand that Dennis Wolff, the Pennsylvania secretary of agriculture, is being “seriously considered” for the post of under secretary of food safety at USDA. Wolff’s name has appeared on short lists for a variety of USDA posts since the transistion. According to my source, the Obama administration is determined to “find a place for him” within the USDA. Precisely why is unclear—and certainly isn’t explained by his resume, as I’ll show below.

Oversight of meat production falls under the USDA’s authority (all other food items are handled by the FDA). Thus, the holder of this undersecretary position is responsible for overseeing the safety of the U.S. meat supply—which has given rise to a steady stream major public-health disasters in recent years.

Dennis Wolff would be an odd choice for this job—especially in an administration that promises change, or for that matter, experienced professionals in key roles. A look at Wolff’s official bio reveals no discernible experience as a food-safety regulator. (Many states run offices that inspect meat plants; Pennsylvania is not among them. All meatpacking in Pennsylvania is overseen by the USDA, not Wolff’s ag department.)

Before becoming his state’s ag secretary, Wolff operated “Pen-Col Farms, a 600-acre dairy cattle operation specializing in purebred Holstein genetics,” his bio tells us. As a large-scale livestock farmer, he hails from the very industry he would be overseeing in the USDA role for which he’s being considered. (In dairy, the USDA regulates livestock on the farm; the FDA takes over when milk arrives at the processing plant.)...(Remainder.)


Ban on Tobacco Urged in Military

By Gregg Zoroya
USA Today

WASHINGTON — Pentagon health experts are urging Defense Secretary Robert Gates to ban the use of tobacco by troops and end its sale on military property, a change that could dramatically alter a culture intertwined with smoking.

Jack Smith, head of the Pentagon's office of clinical and program policy, says he will recommend that Gates adopt proposals by a federal study that cites rising tobacco use and higher costs for the Pentagon and Department of Veterans Affairs as reasons for the ban.

The study by the Institute of Medicine, requested by the VA and Pentagon, calls for a phased-in ban over a period of years, perhaps up to 20. "We'll certainly be taking that recommendation forward," Smith says.

A tobacco ban would confront a military culture, the report says, in which "the image of the battle-weary soldier in fatigues and helmet, fighting for his country, has frequently included his lit cigarette."

Also, the report said, troops worn out by repeated deployments often rely on cigarettes as a "stress reliever." The study found that tobacco use in the military increased after the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan began....(Remainder.)


Cantor & Other Cons Say Obama Promised Stimulus Would Keep Unemployment Rates Below 8%

By PolitiFact
St. Petersburg Times

With unemployment rates continuing to rise nearly five months after the economic stimulus plan was passed, House Republican Whip Eric Cantor said the Obama-backed plan is a bust.

"Clearly the stimulus or so-called stimulus plan that spent almost $800 billion dollars has not worked," Cantor said in a PBS interview on July 8, 2009. "We were promised, the president said we would keep unemployment under 8.5 percent. We're now over 9.5 percent, on our way to 10 percent."

The claim that the Obama administration "promised" the stimulus would keep the unemployment rate below 8 percent is a popular talking point among Republican critics of the stimulus.

We've heard it from House Republican Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, Reps. Darrell Issa, R-Ca., and Lynn Westmoreland, R-Ga., as well as conservative talk show host Sean Hannity, to name a few. They all called it a "promise."

They are referring to a Jan. 9, 2009, report called "The Job Impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan" from Christina Romer, chairwoman of the president's Council of Economic Advisers, and Jared Bernstein, the vice president's top economic adviser.

Their report projected that the stimulus plan proposed by Obama would create between three and four million jobs by the end of 2010. The report also includes a graphic predicting unemployment rates with and without the stimulus. Without the stimulus (the baseline), unemployment was projected to hit about 8.5 percent in 2009 and then continue rising to a peak of about 9 percent in 2010. With the stimulus, they predicted the unemployment rate would peak at just under 8 percent in 2009.

But in June, the unemployment rate was 9.5 percent.

In the past week, the administration has acknowledged its projections were wrong....(Remainder.)


The Retarded Baby Jesus & Fucktard O'Reilly "Forget" to Mention that the CIA Misled Congress

By Media Matters

In May, Fox News hosts Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity and their guests sharply criticized House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for alleging that in 2002, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) gave her false information about enhanced interrogation techniques, often suggesting it was ridiculous to claim the agency would ever deliberately mislead Congress. However, neither host has yet noted reports that in a closed-door meeting with members of the House Intelligence Committee, CIA director Leon Panetta disclosed that the CIA withheld information from Congress for years during the Bush administration.

In a July 10 article, The Washington Post reported:
Four months after he was sworn in, CIA Director Leon E. Panetta learned of an intelligence program that had been hidden from Congress since 2001, a revelation that prompted him to immediately cancel the initiative and schedule a pair of closed-door meetings on Capitol Hill.

The next day, June 24, Panetta informed the House and Senate intelligence committees of the program and the action he had taken, according to Democratic and Republican members of the panels.

The incident has reignited a long-running dispute between congressional Democrats and the CIA, with some calling it part of a broader pattern of the agency withholding information from Congress.
The Post reported the reaction of Democrats:
"The full committee was stunned," said Rep. Anna G. Eshoo (Calif.).

Rep. Silvestre Reyes (Tex.), chairman of the House intelligence committee, called Panetta "a stand-up guy."

Eshoo said the intelligence panels should investigate how and why the program was concealed from Congress. Rep. Rush D. Holt (N.J.) suggested "a major commission" or other entity to conduct a much broader investigation of intelligence practices. "A lot of people are trying to turn this into an inside-the-Beltway political matter," Holt said, emphasizing that the dispute goes to the heart of the intelligence committees' oversight function.


The Oxy-Moron Claims the Climate Bill Wasn't Written When it Came Up for a Vote

By PolitiFact
St. Petersburg Times

In Washington, it's not unusual for lawmakers to get as heated about the arcane rules of Congress as they do about the substance of a bill.

Such was the case with a plan to slow climate change passed by the House of Representatives on June 26, 2009. Republican lawmakers not only opposed cap-and-trade because they fear it will be too expensive, but they were angry that they'd had only a few hours to vet 300 pages of last minute changes to the already massive legislation. With such a quick turn around, "pages of text were being passed around the speaker's desk by clerks," wrote Florida Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite on her party's blog. "Who knows what we voted on? Members of Congress sure didn't."
Then came this lament from Rush Limbaugh: On the day the House voted on the climate change bill, "there was not even a copy of the bill in the well of the House, which is standard. It wasn't even written," he said during his June 29 radio show.
Limbaugh is right on at least one point: It is standard for the reading clerk -- you've probably seen them on C-SPAN reciting the text of a bill -- to have a copy of the legislation at their desk. So, we found it hard to believe that there was not one complete copy of the cap-and-trade plan in the chamber the day the House passed the bill.
But before we can solve the Case of the Missing Bill, we'll need a brief lesson in congressional procedure.
Before the House debates a bill, it goes to the chamber's Rules Committee, a group controlled by the majority party that has the important role of deciding which amendments can come up for a vote and how long debate will last. Frequently, the Rules Committee will also adopt last-minute changes to the bill, which can range from minor technical tweaks to big compromises. All those decisions are compiled in one long document -- which is called, simply, a rule -- and brought to the House floor where it becomes the chamber's first order of business before they can get to the meat of the legislation. If the rule is adopted, lawmakers have officially agreed to make all those changes to the original version of the bill. The House then takes up the bill itself....(Remainder.)


NewsBusters' Babboon Highlights Off-the-Record Events for Reporters, Totally Ignoring Bush Did it Too

By Media Matters

NewsBusters' Tim Graham repeats a Gawker post claiming that, in Graham's words, "the White House press elite partied down with President Obama on ahem, Independence Day" in an off-the-record event that featured a performance by the Foo Fighters. Graham went on to tut-tut: "Even if you weren't a fan of Obama (or a fan of picnics, or the Foo Fighters), an ambitious reporter might take the tickets just to get some off-the-record schmoozing in with people they'd like to line up as sources. It would be nice to know which ones who daily pledge to uphold the 'people's right to know' attended and accepted the pledges of secrecy."

What Graham didn't mention is that President Bush did the very same thing. A 2006 New York Times article noted that "Mr. Bush holds an annual off-the-record barbecue with reporters during his summer vacation at his ranch in Crawford, Tex."

We searched the archives of NewsBusters and its parent organization, the Media Research Center, and couldn't find any mention of Bush's reporter barbecues, let alone evidence that Graham was similarly outraged by the "off-the-record schmoozing" going on there.

(Not that there was all that much of it going on at the Obama event: As Politico's Michael Calderone points out, most of the "White House press elite" weren't there because they were on their way to Moscow to cover Obama's trip to Russia, and the president himself left early.)...(Original.)



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