Monday, August 31, 2009


A particularly unenlightening slate of Sunday talk shows yesterday
[Marc Ambinder] On This Week, Liz Cheney insisted that waterboarding wasn't torture. On Fox, Dick Cheney said he didn't know whether he'd speak to a prosecutor who asked for an interview with him. He said that even in cases where the EITs went beyond what the Justice Department had authorized, he was OK with it. Cheney also acknowledged that he pushed for military action against Iran during the latter years of the Bush administration. He also said that the CIA was directed not to report about the recently canceled Al Q targeting program until it was operational, but he didn't say whether he had given the order. . . [read on]

[NB] What Cheney’s comment on interrogators exceeding the DOJ rules reveals is that he and Addington never believed those rules were actually necessary at all: the President could order whatever actions he deemed necessary, period. All the efforts of Yoo, Bradbury, and Bybee were to provide (as they did) post-facto legal covering to make prosecutions for torture more difficult. But even where interrogators ignored the rules, Cheney still doesn’t think they’re liable.

Another thing: Cheney seems to believe that the Attorney General is just another hack installed to carry out the President’s wishes, not an independent advocate for the rule of law. Case in point: Attorney General Alberto Gonzales]

Emptywheel’s analysis:

Lots more:
[Cheney] “I guess the other thing that offends the hell out of me, frankly. . .”
[John Amato] Hey, Dick, torturing people offends the hell out of me but I'm not a sociopath. He must be worried that if a whistleblower surfaces, he could be facing a real legal problem. I'm also sick and tired of hearing that he kept us safe for eight years AFTER the attacks. . . .
[Digby] I feel so much more informed having watched the Stephanopoulos round table with Liz Cheney, who was referred to as a "Republican Strategist." . . . [read on]
[Atrios] President McCain Is Always On My Teevee
[Steve Benen] For those keeping score at home, this is McCain's 12th Sunday morning appearance since President Obama's inauguration in January. That's 32 Sundays, for an average of a McCain appearance every 2.6 weeks. . . . [read on]

A deceptive and immoral “debate” over torture:

(A bit of) credit where it’s due
"I think these interrogations, once publicized, helped al Qaeda recruit. I got that from an al Qaeda operative in a prison camp in Iraq... I think that the ability of us to work with our allies was harmed. And I believe that information, according go the FBI and others, could have been gained through other members," said McCain.

Distorting the health care issue (again)


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Sunday, August 30, 2009


Dick Cheney today (on Fox News, of course) will say that it’s okay with him if interrogators exceeded the legal bounds for torture


The Wa Po wants a panel to study whether torture works
[Scarecrow] Yes, that's exactly what's been missing, a public forum for Dick Cheney . . .

It doesn’t matter if it “works”

Mike Enzi (R-WY) supposed member of the bipartisan health care group, makes it official – he isn’t going to support any bill at all

We’ll start hearing it more and more now: the Dems should settle for health care reform lite, tweak the system and bit, and admit defeat,-Dumber-Politics

Simple questions
[Kevin Drum] Let's recap: the United States spends about twice as much on healthcare as any other developed nation in the world and in return receives just about the worst care. Can someone remind me again why there's even a debate about whether we should put up with this?
[Jacob Weisberg] Why are Republicans trying to kill America's old people? . . . [read on]

The LA Times gets spun

A headline we don’t see often enough
RNC Uses New Scare Tactic on Reform

This tricky poll question isn’t from Fox, but from Rasmussen, a supposedly “serious” polling company
Suppose that Democrats agreed on a health care reform bill that is opposed by all Republicans in Congress. Should the Democrats pass that bill or should they change the bill to win support from a reasonable number of Republicans?

“The hate is everywhere”

Christian mercy
PASTOR STEVEN ANDERSON, FAITHFUL WORD BAPTIST CHURCH: Tonight, I want to preach this sermon. And you have probably never heard a sermon like this before. Actually, you probably have if you have been coming to church here for a while. But you know what? Here is my sermon, why I hate Barack Obama. That's my sermon tonight, because Barack Obama is coming to town tomorrow morning. . . .

And I'm going to tell you something. I hate Barack Obama. You say, well, you just mean you don't like what he stands for. No, I hate the person. Oh, you mean you just don't like his policies. No, I hate him. . . .

You are going to tell me that I'm supposed to pray for the socialist devil, murderer, infanticide who wants to see young children and he wants to see babies killed through abortion and partial-birth . . .

No. I am not going to pray for his good. I am going to pray that he dies and goes to hell.

Sunday talk show line-ups
• ABC, This Week: Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Sen. John Kerry (D-MA); Liz Cheney, E.J. Dionne, Sam Donaldson, Gwen Ifill, George Will.

• CBS, Face The Nation: Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA).

• CNN, State Of The Union: Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT); James Carville and Mary Matalin.

• NBC, Meet The Press: Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), Bob Shrum, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, Doris Kearns Goodwin.

Bonus item: How “conservative girls” should act

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I don't get anything personally out of this project, except the satisfaction of doing it (I don't run ads, etc). The credit really all goes to the people whose material I copy and redistribute. But if I do have a "mission," it is to get this information into the hands of as many people as I can.***

Saturday, August 29, 2009


Don’t tell me you’re surprised by this: Republicans in the “bipartisan” health care group now say they might not support any bill at all
[Steve Benen] If I didn't know better, I might think Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) -- ostensibly the leading GOP negotiators on health care reform -- doesn't really want a bill. . . . [read on]
[McJoan] It's not Max's deal anymore. Chuck Grassley took it over months ago by being implacably opposed to any kind of comprehensive, real reform, but by holding out the possibility that there was some magic bullet out there that would bring him over. Enough months of playing that game, and enough support from Obama to keep that process going, and Grassley took over.

That much is absolutely clear today as Grassley takes it upon himself to declare there won't be a deal in September. . . .
[Ezra Klein] The more plausible argument is that Grassley fears his fellow Republican senators. I'm hearing that Grassley is getting reamed out in meetings with his colleagues. The yelling is loud enough that staffers in adjacent offices have heard snippets. But the real threat isn't the yelling of his colleagues. It's their capacity to deny Grassley his next job. Ruth Marcus hints at this in her column on Chuck Grassley today, but it's worth explaining in a bit more detail. . . [read on]

The abject failure of our press – after months of this, most people don’t even know what the “public option” is

What part of public OPTION don’t they understand?

What part of PUBLIC option don’t they understand?

Is a public option still possible?

The Pearlstein Plan
[Steven Pearlstein] The simple lesson from this story -- and certainly the one Kennedy himself drew -- is that when it comes to historic breakthroughs in social policy, make the best deal you can get, leaving it to subsequent generations to perfect. That's what happened with Medicare and Medicaid, and there is no reason to think it wouldn't happen again with universal coverage and reform of the health insurance market.

Although you'd hardly know it from all the shouting of recent weeks, there is a deal to be had here if only Democrats would be willing to take it. This is not a deal, mind you, designed to win the support of Republican leaders in Congress -- at this point they're determined to derail any health reform plan. Rather, it is the deal necessary to win broad support from an American public wary of federal deficits, anxious about losing the health care it already has and fearful of radical change.

So what would this deal look like? Something like this . . . [read on]


The new question in DC: What Would Teddy Do?

The GOP, with a strong assist from the beltway media (and a bit of help from the Obama admin too), is rapidly propagating the idea that if Ted Kennedy was running the health care show, he’d have given the Republicans everything they wanted to get a bill passed – because he was a COMPROMISER, a STATESMAN, a PRAGMATIST
[Eli] Either the Republicans and the media have gone insane, or I have. . . .


Here’s what Kennedy really wanted for health care reform -- and he would have fought like hell for it


The Party of Death
STEELE: Well, no. Look. No one’s trying to scare people with soundbites. I have not done that, and I don’t know any leaders in the House and the Senate that have done that. . . .

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said on his radio show Thursday that politicizing the death of Sen. Ted Kennedy "defies good taste." Apparently, he meant that to apply only to Democrats who are pushing for passage of healthcare reform, because he then went on to say this, as reported by Huffington Post's Sam Stein:

"[I]t was President Obama himself who suggested that seniors who don't have as long to live might want to just consider taking a pain pill instead of getting an expensive operation to cure them," said Huckabee. "Yet when Sen. Kennedy was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer at 77, did he give up on life and go home to take pain pills and die? Of course not. . .”
McCain Throws in With Sarah Palin: Agrees That VHA Pamphlet is "Kind of a Death Panel"

Concern trolls

The insurance companies behind the push-back on health care

More on the push-poll from the RNC suggesting that Republican voters would be denied medical care by the Obama admin because of their political views

Af/Pak: not looking good

Big headline, huh? My guess is you’ll never hear about this
Is TARP Profitable?
The huge government bailout could have cost taxpayers $700 billion. Now it looks like it might break even.

The Troubled Asset Repurchase Program, the controversial $700 billion package passed in the heat of last fall's presidential election campaign, wasn't presented as a bailout of a failed system. Rather, then-Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and his allies touted it as an opportunity for the taxpayer to profit by making investments in name-brand companies. Indeed, during the Great Panic of 2008, American taxpayers reluctantly made a series of very expensive investments in blue-chip companies—Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the insurer AIG, General Motors. Since these bailouts were designed to halt failure rather than stimulate growth, the return on most of these efforts has been largely intangible.

And yet. As we approach the one-year anniversary of the Panic of 2008, it's clear that the actual cost of the TARP will be a fraction of the original $700 billion estimate and that taxpayers are even turning a profit from the central component of the package. . . .

[Timothy Noah] Those two reports the CIA released this week, saying they were the documents Cheney requested last April? The ones Cheney said would show that "enhanced interrogation" (his euphemism for torture) saved American lives?

They were the wrong documents! Or, rather, one of them was. . . .

Amateur Hour
Former Gov. Sarah Palin's political action committee gave excessive contributions to two well-known Republicans and also is facing demands from the federal government for more detailed financial information on a number of fronts. . . .

"I think you can say it was sloppiness on my part and my attorney's part," Crawford said, referring to the contributions. "We fouled up there. But it's been fixed."

Onward, Christian soldiers!
CNN has picked up our story from yesterday on Steven Anderson, the Arizona pastor who prayed for Barack Obama's death the day before one of his parishioners, who attended the sermon, brought an AR-15 rifle to an Obama event.

And they've advanced the story a bit: CNN analyst Mike Brooks reports that the Secret Service has interviewed Anderson, who told TPMmuckraker yesterday: "To be honest with you, I have prayed for Obama to die. I'm not the only one, I'm just the only one with the spine to say it." . . .

Bonus item: Glenn Beck thinks that armed white men at Obama events are merely expressing their First and Second amendment rights. But armed black men? Ooooooh . . . scary!

Glenn Beck is sick of being a “victim”

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I don't get anything personally out of this project, except the satisfaction of doing it (I don't run ads, etc). The credit really all goes to the people whose material I copy and redistribute. But if I do have a "mission," it is to get this information into the hands of as many people as I can.***

Friday, August 28, 2009


Michael Steele. Dumb
Michael Steele says Medicare needs to be protected but favors some cuts to maximize its efficiencies [listen!]

It started when Steele endorsed increased government regulation of the private insurance market.

INSKEEP: Wait, wait -- you would trust the government to look into that?

STEELE: No, I'm talking about the private -- I'm talking about citizens. I'm talking about -- (CROSSTALK)

INSKEEP: Who is it you -- you said it is something that should be looked into. Who is it that you think should look into that?

STEELE: Well, who regulates the insurance markets?

INSKEEP: That would be the government, I believe.

STEELE: Well, and so what. Now wait a minute. Hold up. You're doing a wonderful little dance here and you're trying to be cute. But the reality of this is very simple. I'm not saying the government doesn't have a role to play. I've never said that. The government does have a role to play; it has a very limited role to play.

INSKEEP: Mr. Chairman, I respect that you think I'm doing a dance here. I just want you to know that as a citizen, I'm a little confused by the positions you take . . . . [read on]

Karl Rove. Liar
[Rove on “death books”] There's an interesting page in here. Page 99 lists a series of disease groups that people could reach out to as resources. But when it comes to advanced directives -- what to do at your end of your life to give guidance to your physician and your family -- it lists one group, Compassionate -- Compassionate Choices. And it gives their phone number and their log site. What they don't tell you, however, is that that really is the name of . . . the Hemlock Society that is referenced there. This is a group that believes in assisted suicide.

Media Matters documents the following. There is no page 99 in the present booklet. It does not mention either Compassionate Choices or the Hemlock Society. An older version of the booklet used to. That version dates to 2007.

In other words, to the Bush era. So the Bush administration was the one telling veterans to just hurry up and die. . . .

Glenn Beck. Psycho,2933,543822,00.html

ED SCHULTZ RADIO SHOW: Folks, these people are psycho. That's what they are. Sometimes I think they want Obama to get shot. I do. I really think that there are conservative broadcasters in this country who would love to see Obama taken out.

FRANK RICH, NEW YORK TIMES COLUMNIST: I'm just old enough, I was a kid, I remember I woke up in 1963 to the horrible events in Dallas. Even as a kid, I happened to be growing up in Washington, D.C., it was palatable to me all this hate talk about Kennedy and this sort of crazy fear.... But there were a lot of threats. There was a lot of stuff going on that in tone resembles this. . . .

CONTESSA BREWER, MSNBC: "A man at a pro-health care reform rally just outside, wore a semiautomatic assault rifle on his shoulder and a pistol on his hip.... The Associated Press reports about a dozen people in all at that event were visible carrying firearms.... There are questions about whether this has racial overtones. I mean, here you have a man of color in the presidency and white people showing up with guns strapped to their waists.


[Beck] Is it reasonable to ask the question — based on these clips — do they think that a good portion of the American people are the enemy? . . . .

Yeah, what hate-monger would suggest that Beck’s proud, patriotic viewers might be capable of violence?
[August 4] Glenn Beck pleads with his audience not to resort to violence: 'Just one lunatic like Timothy McVeigh could ruin everything' . . .

Rush Limbaugh. Penis-obsessed
[Gabriel Winant] If you had to whip up a too-good-to-be-true story for the right-wing pundit class to freak out over, what elements would you include? There would have to be, of course, an element of command-and-control socialist-fascist invasion and regulation of the most private parts of our lives, in the name of some spurious "common good." But that alone is a little pedestrian nowadays, so you'd want to add a nice dollop of male sexual neurosis to really kick it up a notch. Then add just a hint of racial fear and beat to a froth. . . .
[June 2006] Rush Limbaugh could see a deal with prosecutors in a long-running prescription fraud case collapse after authorities found a bottle of Viagra in his bag at Palm Beach International Airport. The prescription was not in his name. . . .

Beck and Limbaugh together. Goody
Right-Wing Fearfest: Beck says 'free speech is under attack,' then Limbaugh tells him Obama brings 'totalitarianism'

Rush Limbaugh. Kennedy-hater
Limbaugh: Kennedy's opposition to Bork, Thomas was "the beginning of the dawn of the age of the current hate"


Now they’re afraid of Kennedy’s funeral
Conservative blogger Instapundit suggests that Kennedy's death will provoke "a Wellstone memorial on steroids” . . .


The latest paranoid GOP attack on sanity
The RNC sent out a fundraising mailer recently. Couched as a survey, it contained one question that reads, "It has been suggested that the government could use voter registration to determine a person's political affiliation, prompting fears that GOP voters might be discriminated against for medical treatment in a Democrat-imposed health care rationing system. Does this possibly concern you?" . . . [read on]
[RNC] Although the question was inartfully worded, Americans have reason to be concerned . . . [read on]


GOP insurrectionists
[Rachel Slajda] At a town hall Wednesday night, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) told constituents, "We're almost reaching a revolution in this country."

The reason? "People are not buying these concepts that are completely foreign to America."

Inhofe also said he doesn't need to know what's in a health care reform bill to vote against it.

"I don't have to read it, or know what's in it. I'm going to oppose it anyways," he said at the event in Chickasha, Okla.

The senator was in good company, with most of the audience agreeing with him and expressing their disdain for big government and Democrats. One man said, "No more compromise. We're losing our country."

Inhofe isn't the first to predict a revolution. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) told a town hall on Tuesday, "We're seeing the beginning of a peaceful -- and I emphasize peaceful -- revolt in America."

In March, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) called for citizens to be "armed and dangerous" against an energy tax and that "having a revolution every now and then is a good thing."

And in May, former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney said Republicans need to "once again lead the American Revolution."

Yeah, just a JOKE
[Twin Falls, ID Time-News] Rex Rammell, a long-shot gubernatorial candidate seeking the Republican nomination, criticized Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter on Wednesday for not making good on a promise to buy the first wolf tag. Tags for hunting the gray wolf went on sale Monday.

Rammell's remarks on Otter came in an interview Wednesday after the Times-News asked about comments Rammell made Tuesday night at a local Republican party event.

After an audience member shouted a question about "Obama tags" during a discussion on wolves, Rammell responded, "The Obama tags? We'd buy some of those." . . .

Well, THAT trial balloon didn’t stay up long
Romney Won't Run For Senate

Sarah Palin needs a personal organizer
"Organizers of an Anchorage event that has been billing Sarah Palin for weeks as a star speaker were left scrambling Wednesday after learning that the former governor won't be there for tonight's event and claims to have never been asked," the Anchorage Daily News reports.

"It would be at least the fourth time in recent months that an anticipated Palin speech has fallen through after Palin and her camp disputed they had ever confirmed it. That includes the brouhaha over whether she'd speak at the annual congressional Republican fundraising dinner in Washington, D.C., this summer."


This is exactly right – but a little late in the game
[Christopher Swann] Americans, as they contemplate change, have suffered a weakness of nerve. The main reason is that nearly two thirds of Americans are apparently happy with their healthcare coverage, for all its deficiencies. Repeated reassurances from President Obama that those who like the existing set-up will not be forced to change, have had little effect.

A change of tactics may be in order. The administration must do a better job of underlining the glaring defects of the existing system. . . .

Where do the Senate Dems stand on health care? A list

More CIA documents to come
The deluge continues. . . .

Memos Suggest Legal Cherry-Picking in Justifying Torture

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I don't get anything personally out of this project, except the satisfaction of doing it (I don't run ads, etc). The credit really all goes to the people whose material I copy and redistribute. But if I do have a "mission," it is to get this information into the hands of as many people as I can.***

Thursday, August 27, 2009


Bush adviser calls out Cheney’s b.s.
Former Bush homeland security adviser Frances Townsend contradicted claims by former Vice President Dick Cheney that a CIA report proved that torture of terrorism suspects worked . . .


Oh, one little detail about AG Eric Holder’s torture investigation – he had to do it. Bush/Cheney apologists have trouble with the concept of rule of law
[Marc Ambinder] Actually, what happened was simple. The attorney general was presented with incontrovertible evidence that crimes had occurred. And importantly, because of a decision made by the Obama administration, all that evidence was public. Think of a police brutality case where an officer is captured, on camera, beating the tar out of a suspect for ten minutes. Holder had no choice. . . .

The NYT manages to find the crucial angle that reveals the truth about the entire CIA torture regime – how smooth-running and well-organized it was (WTF??)

Smart move
Byrd wants healthcare bill to honor Kennedy
Dingell: Name The Health Care Bill After Kennedy, Too

Our guy
By the time Congress returns from its recess and takes another whack at the health insurance mess, Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., will have started revealing the deceit that protects health business profiteers. . . .

I know the news from here has been pretty depressing in recent days. If that bothers you, don’t read this piece on health care reform prospects
[Hunter] It seems absolutely assured that there is no American problem or catastrophe that will not be dealt with by our government by lavish, staggering public giveaways to the very corporations most directly responsible for the problem. . . .

Perhaps you wondered what Mike Enzi (R-WY), hard right-winger, was doing in the midst of “bipartisan” discussions over health care. Here’s what he was doing
[Digby] Here's Mike Enzi basically telling the Democratic members of the Gang of Six that he's acting in bad faith . . .

"It's not where I get them to compromise, it's what I get them to leave out," Enzi said Monday, according to the Billings Gazette.
Enzi: If I Hadn't Been Involved, You Would Already Have National Health Care


They are not our legislative partners, get it? They - are - our - enemies
[Steven Pearlstein] Steele's op-ed was the latest salvo in his party's campaign to defeat President Obama's health-care reform effort at all costs and build public support for a Republican alternative that remains, to this day, a closely held secret. . . . [read on!]

Lies, lies, lies:

Yesterday, Mark Kleiman said the Dems should do a better job of publicizing the horrors of the current health insurance system for ordinary Americans. Huffington Post gets to work

The NYT redefines “mainstream”
Few people hold a more uncomfortable place at the health care debate’s intersection between nuanced policy and cable-ready political rhetoric than President Obama’s special health care adviser, Dr. Ezekiel J. Emanuel.

Largely quoting his past writings out of context this summer, Betsy McCaughey, a former lieutenant governor of New York, labeled Dr. Emanuel a “deadly doctor” who believes health care should be “reserved for the nondisabled” — a false assertion that Representative Michele Bachmann, Republican of Minnesota, repeated on the House floor.

Former Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska has asserted that Dr. Emanuel’s “Orwellian” approach to health care would “refuse to allocate medical resources to the elderly, the infirm and the disabled who have less economic potential,” accusations similarly made by the political provocateur Lyndon H. LaRouche Jr. . . .

Glenn Beck goes berserk

Palin (hearts) Beck


The kind of people they are
GOP Congresswoman: Party Looking For "Great White Hope"

Trashing Teddy
Right-Wingers Trash Ted Kennedy While His Body is Still Warm


Hmmm . . .?
Peter Roff looks at the possibility Mitt Romney could seek the late Sen. Ted Kennedy's seat in a special election. . . .

The pressure builds
Lieutenant governor calls for Sanford's resignation

Bonus item: Good news?
Barack Obama on brink of deal for Middle East peace talks

***If you enjoy PBD and support what we are doing, you can help by forwarding a copy of this issue to your friends (using the envelope link below) or by sending them a copy of its URL (

I don't get anything personally out of this project, except the satisfaction of doing it (I don't run ads, etc). The credit really all goes to the people whose material I copy and redistribute. But if I do have a "mission," it is to get this information into the hands of as many people as I can.***

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Dick Cheney thinks you’re stupid
“The documents released Monday clearly demonstrate that the individuals subjected to Enhanced Interrogation Techniques provided the bulk of intelligence we gained about al Qaeda. This intelligence saved lives and prevented terrorist attacks. . .”

[NB: Anyone can see the logical gaps in this slippery claim, and that it does NOTHING to justify the necessity of torture . . . read on]
[Keith Drum] Likewise, the "enhanced interrogation techniques" were used on the prisoners who were the most valuable in the first place. They would have provided the bulk of the intelligence no matter what we'd done. . . . [read on]
[Marc Ambinder] But there's no mention of how enhanced interrogations aided or hurt the collection of reliable information. . . .
[Spencer Ackerman] Last night former Vice President Dick Cheney elided the distinction between valuable intelligence that came from detainees and valuable intelligence that came from enhanced interrogation techniques. He did so for a simple reason: he said publicly, for months, that he was “a strong proponent of our enhanced interrogation program” because it was “legal, essential, justified, successful, and the right thing to do,” but the documents that he insisted would vindicate that position do no such thing. . . . [read on]

He also thinks the media are stupid – and he’s right. Look how they got suckered
[Politico] Cheney maintains that records released this week show that waterboarding and other harsh interrogation techniques "provided the bulk of intelligence we gained about Al Qaeda" after the Sept. 11 attacks.
[CNN] Former Vice President Dick Cheney says documents released Monday support his view that harsh interrogation techniques used on terrorism suspects prevented attacks and yielded crucial information about al Qaeda.

[NB: NO!!! That's not what he said. And in fact, the documents show the opposite.]
Cheney’s Claims That Torture Worked? Huge News. Torture Docs Don’t Prove This? Not So Important.
Big Surprise: Torture Memos Belie Cheney's Claims

[Atrios] CNN has decided the right question is:

How far is too far to prevent an attack?

Cheney thinks that we should be GRATEFUL to these interrogators
"The people involved deserve our gratitude," Cheney said. "They do not deserve to be the targets of political investigations or prosecutions."
[Peter King, R-NY] "It’s bullshit. It’s disgraceful. You wonder which side they’re on. [It's' a] declaration of war against the CIA, and against common sense. . . .

Grateful, huh? What was redacted from the CIA report was apparently EVEN WORSE – detainee deaths, near-deaths, and mysterious disappearances
The CIA and the Obama Administration continue to keep secret some of the most shocking allegations involving the spy agency's interrogation program: three deaths and several other detainees whose whereabouts could not be determined . . .


I like this headline
Dick Cheney: new doubts about President Obama
Former Vice President Dick Cheney said in a statement Tuesday that the Obama administration's decision to name a prosecutor to look into Bush-era interrogations of suspected terrorists should foster "doubts about this administration’s ability to be responsible for our nation’s security.” . . .

[NB: These are EXACTLY the same old doubts he’s been trying to raise against Obama since the election]
Madeleine Albright: Cheney's Statements Are 'Pathetic'

We learn more about the DOJ documents that justified torture, thanks to the indefatigable Marcy Wheeler
“This resulted in the production of an undated and unsigned document entitled, "Legal Principles Applicable to CIA Detention and Interrogation of Captured Al-Qa'ida Personnel.27 According to OGC, this analysis was fully coordinated with and drafted in substantial part by OLC. In addition to reaffirming the previous conclusions regarding the torture statute, the analysis concludes that the federal War Crimes statute, 18 U.S.C. 2441, does not apply to Al-Qa'ida "Because members of that-group are not entitled to prisoner of war status. The analysis adds that "the [Torture] Convention permits the use of [cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment] in exigent circumstances, such as a national emergency or war." It also states that the interrogation of Al-Qa'ida members does not violate the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments because those provisions do not apply extraterritorially, nor does it violate the Eighth Amendment because it only applies to persons upon whom criminal sanctions have been imposed. Finally, the analysis states that a wide range of EITs and other techniques would not constitute conduct of the type that would be prohibited by the Fifth, Eighth, or Fourteenth Amendments even were they to be applicable . . .”

[Marcy Wheeler] But what does it say that such a key document was not even signed, dated, or officially released by OLC? What does it say that we have to just take OGC's word that it was written with the cooperation of OLC?

And what does it say that we have yet to see this document?
[Spencer Ackerman] Again, we don’t know when the memo was written — by design, as it’s undated and unsigned, a gigantic blinking red light. . . .

“We Will Provide, at a Later Date, an Opinion That Explains the Basis for this Conclusion” . . . [read on]
[Marcy Wheeler] As I noted in an update to my post asking for the unsigned, undated document authorizing the expansion of the torture program from one applying just to Abu Zubaydah to one that could be exported around the world, I have found the document. Or rather the documents--they appear to have been revised over time. Here are three that were included in last night's document dump. . . .

The three are worth reading in sequence to see how the CIA's gross rationalizations of patently illegal behavior evolved over time. . . .
Was John Yoo Free-Lancing. . . ?

The GOP thinks you’re stupid
Debunking the Health Care lies . . .
The GOP's 40-Year Effort to "Pull the Plug" on Medicare
IWF: Women Will "Die of Breast Cancer" if You "Surrender" to Obama's Plan
GOP trying to scare seniors to death about reform
Bachmann praised Sarah Palin for raising the alarm about "death panels" that would deny any health care to the elderly and mentally disabled. "Thank God that Sarah Palin said that," said Bachmann. "These are true." Bachmann also warned against the government forcing doctors to perform abortions, and urged callers to oppose it with all their energies -- and their prayers.

"That's really where this battle will be won -- on our knees in prayer and fasting," said Bachmann. "Remember: faith without works is dead. So we're asking you to do all of it: pray, fast, believe, trust the Lord, but also act."
McCain attends loony far-right health care forum


Michael Steele thinks you’re VERY stupid
[David Kurtz] Michael Steele is on Fox now going on about how Medicare is a wreck, completely bankrupt, and an example of how the government has already proven it can't run a health care program.

Except didn't the "health care bill of rights" that the GOP unveiled yesterday declare preserving Medicare and protecting it against any cuts an inviolable right?

Shorter Steele: Medicare is a disaster! Long live Medicare!

Steele: VA Is Encouraging Vets To Commit Suicide
[SM] A question for Mr. Steele. Three months ago I had routine surgery for a hernia and was asked three times in the week leading up to it if I was interested in creating a living will. Was Columbia hospital corporation trying to talk me into committing suicide?!

Warning: this Keith O piece on United Health Group will make you furious

Mark Kleiman makes a smart point: if health care reform was a GOP initiative, we would be DELUGED with stories about the horrors of the current insurance system, heart-tugging human accounts of heartless bureaucracy, mistreatment, and fear. The current system would be made INTOLERABLE. Where are these stories from the Dems?

A new GOP line is “oh, if Ted Kennedy were here we’d be working together a lot more cooperatively.” Uh-huh. Well, his bill, the “HELP” bill, is there on the table. Do something with it
[Noam Schrieber] If Kennedy were to pass away in the next few months, the Senate math on any health care vote would almost certainly get easier . . . [read on]

BREAKING NEWS: Ted Kennedy passes away

The Hope Still Lives . . .
At the Democratic convention . . .

The GOP’s inflammatory rhetoric – it’s working
Comparing Obama to ‘Hitler,’ Grassley constituent says he’d ‘take a gun to Washington’ if crowd supported him.

More on the Glenn Beck boycott
Why Hasn't the Glenn Beck Boycott Hurt Fox News?

I guess Rush thinks he can say ANYTHING – and so far he’s been proven right

These days it’s important to take pleasure where you can find it – now there’s serious talk about impeachment for Mark Sanford
Two Republicans Urge Sanford to Quit . . .

Bonus item: Obama’s pet peeves

***If you enjoy PBD and support what we are doing, you can help by forwarding a copy of this issue to your friends (using the envelope link below) or by sending them a copy of its URL (

I don't get anything personally out of this project, except the satisfaction of doing it (I don't run ads, etc). The credit really all goes to the people whose material I copy and redistribute. But if I do have a "mission," it is to get this information into the hands of as many people as I can.***

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


The CIA Inspector General’s heavily redacted report documents torture outrages that exceed even the friendly boundaries Yoo and Bybee offered interrogators


CIA abuse report doesn't live up to the hype
The 2004 report, by CIA Inspector General John Helgerson, contains ten recommendations for action on the part of the agency. But all ten are redacted. So we still don't know what the CIA's internal watchdog urged be done about torture -- including whether it recommended prosecutions. . . .

Helgerson has issued a statement expressing disappointment that his recommendations were redacted.

Key revelations:
CIA Withheld Medical Information From the Justice Department to Obtain Torture Approvals
[Spencer Ackerman] The CIA has already copped to destroying videotapes in 2005 that detail brutal interrogations. All in all, as the American Civil Liberties Union forced the CIA to identify 92 destroyed tapes. . . . But the just-released CIA inspector general’s report on torture reveals more extensive prima facie destruction of evidence. . . .
But If We Let Them Go, They’ll Tell People How They Were Tortured

Attorney General Eric Holder’s investigation
AG Holder Appoints CIA Abuse Investigator
Attorney General’s Probe Of CIA Torture Will Be “Narrow,” Only Focused On Torturers
The results of the investigation are likely to prove unsatisfactory to just about every side in this contentious debate, as the attorney general himself said today. . . .


We need to look higher up
Eric Holder announces investigation based on Abu Ghraib model
CIA Inspector General Report Implicates DOJ Lawyers Again
CIA Report Suggests Broad Probe of Interrogation Policy Needed

[Glenn Greenwald] I want to write separately about the release today of the 2004 CIA's Inspector General Report, both because it's extraordinary in its own right and because it underscores how unjust it would be to prosecute only low-level interrogators rather than the high-level officials who implemented the torture regime. Initially, it should be emphasized that yet again, it is not the Congress or the establishment media which is uncovering these abuses and forcing disclosure of government misconduct. Rather, it is the ACLU (with which I consult) that, along with other human rights organizations, has had to fill the void left by those failed institutions . . . [read on!]
[Eugene Robinson] History's demands can seem inconvenient, unfair or unreasonable. But they can't be ignored. The Obama administration has a legal and moral duty to determine whether crimes were committed in the Bush-era detention and interrogation of "war on terror" prisoners -- and, if so, to prosecute those responsible. . . . [read on]

Joe Lieberman: accountability and acknowledging the truth are bad for American security

Another release: the two documents that Dick Cheney commissioned, which he says show how successful torture was


Cheney’s Cherry-Pick
CIA Documents Provide Little Cover for Cheney Claims

What the CIA Inspector General says:
The 2004 CIA I.G. report’s chapter on effectiveness, meanwhile, was reported to conclude that “it is difficult to determine conclusively whether interrogations provided information critical to interdicting specific imminent attacks.”
“On the other hand, Khalid Shaykh Muhammad, an accomplished resistor, provided only a few intelligence reports prior to the use of the waterboard, and analysis of that information revealed that much of it was outdated, inaccurate, or incomplete.”


Despicable: the GOP is now saying not only that Obama and the Dems want to kill your granny and grandpa, and your little kids with Down Syndrome – they want to kill US vets too


The GOP fought Medicare tooth and nail when it was first proposed, and they have often tried to cut the program. But now, guess what?
[ABC] In the start of a weeklong push on Medicare, Republicans are going on the offensive and taking on the Democrats' health care plan with a new "seniors' bill of rights," which calls for the president to not cut Medicare benefits in his health care . . .
[Steve Benen] A.L. wrote nine words this morning that literally made me laugh: "GOP now promising to protect seniors' Medicare from Dems."

As silly as that sounds, this is the point we've reached. In the 1960s, Republicans opposed the creation of Medicare. In the 1990s, Republicans shut down the federal government because a Democratic president wouldn't tolerate proposed GOP cuts to Medicare. In 2008, the Republican presidential ticket ran on a platform of cutting Medicare.

And in 2009, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele has the chutzpah to write a Washington Post op-ed, accusing Democrats of trying to undermine Medicare. . . .
Steele Today: "Don't Cut Medicare!" Steele in 2006: "Cut Medicare!"


The Dems (finally) realize that they’re going to have to pass health care reform with little or no GOP support
Senate Democrats are considering several options to move healthcare without Republican support and will make a decision on that process shortly after they return to Washington, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Sunday. . . .
Democrats Looking at Alternatives to Bipartisan Bill
Hope for Bipartisan Deal Lingers, but Reconciliation Talk Increases

Wow – real journalism: who’s benefiting from the health care fight
[LAT] Lashed by liberals and threatened with more government regulation, the insurance industry nevertheless rallied its lobbying and grass-roots resources so successfully in the early stages of the healthcare overhaul deliberations that it is poised to reap a financial windfall. . . [read on]


The state of political discourse today: it’s become okay to admit that you lied and distorted your opponent’s views because it’s basically their fault for letting you do it

The kind of people they are
One speaker said he could trace his ancestors back to the Mayflower and said “they did not arrive holding their hands out for help.”

“I am a proud right wing terrorist,” he declared to cheers. . .

“Amen, God bless you,” Herger [R-CA] said with a broad smile. “There is a great American.”

How the military shapes friendly press coverage

Michael Steele again – not making many friends within the GOP

Tim Russert was no prize, but look at how the venerable “Meet the Press” has declined under David Gregory

33 companies now want nothing to do with Glenn Beck

Wow – how do you make Glenn Beck look good by comparison?
RUSH LIMBAUGH: Obama "wants us to have the same health care and plan that he had in Kenya" and "wants to be the black FDR

Bonus item: Looks like God will be very busy next year deciding who he wants to run for President
“Talk-show host Sean Hannity, a vocal opponent of Barack Obama's policies, said today he would not rule out a bid for the presidency in 2012.

Egged on by radio colleague Bill Cunningham, Hannity said he would consider entering the front lines of the political fray if God directs him.”

***If you enjoy PBD and support what we are doing, you can help by forwarding a copy of this issue to your friends (using the envelope link below) or by sending them a copy of its URL (

I don't get anything personally out of this project, except the satisfaction of doing it (I don't run ads, etc). The credit really all goes to the people whose material I copy and redistribute. But if I do have a "mission," it is to get this information into the hands of as many people as I can.***

Monday, August 24, 2009


The Sunday talk shows are a kind of Rorschach revealing the mind of the Village. Given the usual rightward-leaning lineups, this compilation of comments shouldn’t surprise
McCain Defends Palin, Also Says: "I Don't Think They Were, Quote, 'Death Panels'"
Appearing on This Week, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) defended his former running mate Sarah Palin on her claim that President Obama's health care plan would create "death panels," though he did admit her wording was off. "Look, I don't think they were, quote, 'death panels,' don't get me wrong," said McCain. "I don't think - but on the best treatment procedures part of the bill, it does open it up to decisions being made as far - that should be left - those choices left to the patient and the individual."

Grassley: End-of-Life Provision "Just Scares The Devil Out of People"
Appearing on Face The Nation, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) explained that he used the phrase "pull the plug on grandma" while trying to assuage fears that people have about the health care bill: "It won't do that, but I wanted to explain why my constituents are concerned about it, and I also want to say that there is an $8 billion cost with that issue, and if you're trying to save money and you put an $8 billion of doctors giving you some advice at the end of life, doctors are going to take advantage of earning that $8 billion and constituents see that as an opportunity to save some money. It just scares the devil out of people."

Schumer: We Can Get Public Option With 60 Democratic Votes
Appearing on Meet The Press, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said that President Obama has not backed away from a public option: "And at the end of the day, we will have one. We will have one. Because I believe, even if every Republican says that they will not be for a public option, we can find a level playing field, modify--level playing field type public option where both insurance companies and this option compete, and we will get 60 Democratic votes for it."

Hatch: Ted Kennedy Would Have Worked With Me On Health Care
Also on Meet The Press, Sen. Orrin Hatch was asked what the impact of Sen. Ted Kennedy's (D-MA) absence has been on the health care negotiations. "Well, Senator Kennedy would--first thing he would have done would, would have been call me and say, 'Let's work this out,'" Hatch responded. "And we would have worked it out so that the best of both worlds would, would work."
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) on This Week: "No person in that institution is indispensable, but Ted Kennedy comes as close to being indispensable as any individual I've ever known in the Senate, because he had a unique way of sitting down with the parties at a table and making the right concessions, which really are the essence of successful negotiations. So it's huge that he's absent, not only because of my personal affection for him, but because I think that health care reform might be in a very different place today."
Sen. John McCain believes that President Barack Obama must drop his support for a public insurance option before Republicans will consider supporting reform. "I believe that one of the fundamentals for any agreement would be that the president abandon the government option," McCain told ABC's George Stephanopoulos.
Earlier this month, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) came under fire for telling Iowans that they were right to “fear” that the federal government would “pull the plug on grandma” . . .

Today on CBS’s Face the Nation, Grassley struggled to explain why he made that statement. Clearly uncomfortable with the question, Grassley stumbled over his words and even blamed President Obama for his word choice. He said that even though he knew the House bill “doesn’t intend to” kill senior citizens, he felt that he had a responsibility to nevertheless play to those fears
Last week, Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY), the most conservative member of the so-called bipartisan “Gang of Six” working on the Senate Finance Committee’s health care bill, stated that he preferred that Congress deal with reform incrementally. “I think the only way it will happen is we need to break it down into smaller parts than we have now and put it through one at a time,” he said.

Today on CNN, Sen. Joe Lieberman (CT), an Independent who caucuses with the Democrats, embraced Enzi’s idea. “Great changes in our country often have come in steps. The Civil Rights movement occurred, changes occurred in steps,” he argued. Lieberman added that Congress should address the nearly 50 million uninsured at some point down the road
[Matt Yglesias] Since Lieberman is a United States Senator with vast power over the lives of hundreds of millions of Americans it might have been nice for him to familiarize himself to some extent with the legislation he’s talking about. The bills I’ve seen all phase-in in the future precisely in order to meet the goals of deficit neutrality without involving a mid-recession tax increase. Meanwhile, it seems extremely likely that the economy has already returned to growth. But evidently Lieberman’s been too busy talking to TV bookers to learn about the pending legislation.

Marc Ambinder’s Sunday summary (note that it includes two Republicans and two Dem sellouts):

Here’s who ISN’T included in these summaries
Paul Krugman on “This Week”: “The Argument Against the Public Option is Sheer Nonsense”

Oh, really?
U.S. Senator Max Baucus has finally broken his silence regarding his personal position on including a public option in health care reform legislation. Last Monday night (8/17), in an unprecedented conference call to Montana Democratic central committee chairs, the powerful leader of the Senate Finance Committee told his strongest supporters that he supported a public option.

While discussing the obstacles to getting a public option through the Senate, he assured his forty listeners, "I want a public option too!" . . .

Fox, of course, gets a whole category of its own
Fox News continues to falsely claim Dems considering "changing the rules" to pass health care reform
[Steve Benen] Yes, if senators follow Senate rules, they're now changing Senate rules. . . . [read on]
On Fox News Sunday, Chris Wallace repeatedly cropped quotes from a Veterans Health Administration (VHA) document to falsely suggest that the Obama administration is pressuring veterans to end their lives prematurely . . .
Fox furthers 'death panel' hysteria with 'death book' claim

[Kevin Drum] BTW, I just did a Nexis search, and as near as I can tell the pamphlet in question wasn't mentioned a single time between 2006 and last month. In other words, until it became a political football this week, not one single person thought this issue was important to enough to mention even in passing in any news outlet whatsoever. The reason, of course, is that before now no one actually thought this was outrageous. Because it isn't.
But Towey could benefit financially if the Veteran's Administration drops the current material "Your life, Your choices" used for end-of-life consultations. Towey sells his own materials that compete with documentation currently in use.

Wallace pointed out Towey's financial stake. "You have written an end-of-life document yourself called "Five Wishes," which is widely used around the country. In the course of this controversy the last couple of days, V.A. officials are suggesting you want the government to buy and use your book," said Wallace.

"They can if they want. Millions of Americans do. But that's not what this is about," answered Towey.
It prompted VetVoice's Richard Smith to write, "After reading this, it's apparent that Jim Towey is nothing more than a Sarah Palin wannabe. Except not as smart. Here is my suggestion to Mr. Towey: When Veterans want advice on their care from someone who has never served in the military, nor received care from the Veterans' Health Administration, we'll call you."

The beltway consensus: the left is to blame for the failure of health care reform

A modest proposal
Why Sunday Talk Shows Should Be Banned . . .

“Playing with fire”
"Nobody has been hurt so far. "We can all hope that nobody will be," Frum said. "But firearms and politics never mix well. They mix especially badly with a third ingredient: the increasingly angry tone of incitement being heard from right-of-center broadcasters . . .”

The Paranoid Style in American Politics Revisited

Several reports might be released today, including the CIA torture report – here’s what we’ll be talking about tomorrow

Blackwater (now Xe) helps the CIA build killer drones – and screws it up (but they still have the contract)

Bush gang spinmeister: Tom Ridge is a wuss

Keeping an eye on Afghanistan

The GOP purge of conservative-but-not-conservative-enough members continues

Yes, the popularity of the Dems has declined – but so has the popularity of Republicans

***If you enjoy PBD and support what we are doing, you can help by forwarding a copy of this issue to your friends (using the envelope link below) or by sending them a copy of its URL (

I don't get anything personally out of this project, except the satisfaction of doing it (I don't run ads, etc). The credit really all goes to the people whose material I copy and redistribute. But if I do have a "mission," it is to get this information into the hands of as many people as I can.***