Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Wednesday Mashup (5/4/11)

  • To begin, I give you the following “Foto Funny” from Enjoy.

  • Next, leave it to former Bushie Marc Thiessen to use the occasion of bin Laden’s killing to tell President Obama to apologize to those CIA officers who were allegedly persecuted by our chief executive (here)…
    In normal times, the officials who uncovered the intelligence that led us to Osama bin Laden would get a medal. In the Obama administration, they have been given subpoenas.

    On his second day in office, Obama shut down the CIA’s high-value interrogation program. His Justice Department then reopened criminal investigations into the conduct of CIA interrogators — inquiries that had been closed years before by career prosecutors who concluded that there were no crimes to prosecute. In a speech at the National Archives, Obama eviscerated the men and women of the CIA, accusing them of “torture” and declaring that their work “did not advance our war and counterterrorism efforts — they undermined them.”
    And in a somewhat shocking development, Thiessen actually links to a news story posted at HuffPo concerning the quite-correct decision by Obama to shut down the “high value” interrogation program. However, I’ll leave it up to you, dear reader, to find where Obama is calling out those in our intelligence services who participated in the program (which is a violation of the Geneva Convention, let’s not forget, a violation for which prosecution is mandated, though the Obama Administration has been loath to go that route, despite Thiessen’s bloviation to the contrary).

    This is typical for Thiessen, though, who also said here that "America is in greater danger" than it had been during the Bush administration because of President Obama's anti-terrorism policies (which makes Thiessen look particularly silly now). And as noted here, his claims that torture made us safer under Dubya are, as usual, wrong.

    Also, to invalidate Thiessen’s original argument, here and here are proof that the information that was used to hunt bin Laden was obtained through legal means, not “enhanced” methods.

  • Update 5/6/11: I should have noted earlier that Obama isn't going to prosecute anyone involved in waterboarding, as noted here (tells you what a rank propagandist Thiessen is that he didn't point that out).

  • Further, The Daily Tucker is in an uproar over the nomination of Jack McConnell to the U.S. District Court in Rhode Island (here)…
    The U.S. Chamber of Commerce announced its opposition to McConnell’s nomination in May 2010, marking the first time the Chamber has ever publicly denounced a district court nominee. The Chamber points out concern with McConnell’s history as a trial lawyer. His private practice law firm represented the State of Rhode Island on two major cases, one against tobacco companies and another against lead paint companies, and benefited largely from both.
    Oh yes, how awful for a law firm to actually benefit from a trial (seeing as how lawyers, you know, actually generate billable hours).
    Rhode Island and many other states won their lawsuits against tobacco companies, but McConnell’s law firm procured millions of dollars from the Rhode Island lawsuit instead of passing it onto states and taxpayers.
    I’m sure all judgments were awarded under the appropriate supervision of the presiding judge…give me a break!
    Rhode Island lost the lawsuit against lead paint companies.
    Yes…the verdict McConnell won was overturned by the state supreme court (that and a lot more is noted here).
    But, before the end of the lawsuit, one paint company, DuPont, settled with McConnell’s law firm. It’s unclear the amount McConnell’s firm received in the settlement, but DuPont made a donation to a Massachusetts hospital for the law firm in an amount McConnell had previously agreed to make himself.
    My gosh, can you imagine the financial reward McConnell no doubt reaped from forcing DuPont to donate to a hospital?? Appoint a special prosecutor immediately (and keep an eye out for the black helicopters!).

    And of course, McConnell is also supposedly to blame for helping to draft and negotiate a $264 billion, 46-state settlement in the states' lawsuit against the tobacco industry, as noted here. From 1997 until 2000, McConnell investigated the case, filed the complaint and conducted discovery and motion in the case while representing many states, including the State of New York, through its attorneys general.

    In response, I give you the following (from…
    In a joint written statement, Rhode Island Sens. Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse, both Democrats, said "it is not a surprise" the Chamber would oppose McConnell "as part of their agenda."

    "The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has been outspoken in opposing consumer protection, campaign finance reform, the minimum wage, action on climate change, and holding polluters accountable," stated the senators. "And it is also no surprise that Rhode Islanders of all backgrounds don't agree with these outlandish claims because they know Jack McConnell to be highly qualified in every respect."
    On top of that, I give you the following from Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy…
    Jack McConnell has the strong support of his home state Senators, bipartisan support from those in his home state, and his nomination has been reported favorably by a bipartisan majority of the Judiciary Committee multiple times. This nomination is one of many that have been stranded on the Senate’s Executive Calendar for many months – stalled by Republican objection to proceeding to debate and vote.


    When I came to the Senate, the President of the United States was Gerald Ford, whose statue we just unveiled in the Rotunda. We did not filibuster any of his Federal district court nominees. We did not filibuster any of President Jimmy Carter's district court nominees. We did not filibuster any of President George H. W. Bush's district court nominees.

    We did not filibuster on the floor any of President Clinton's or any of President George W. Bush's nominees. Somehow the rules have changed for President Obama.

    This is troubling as chairman of the Judiciary Committee, but also troubling to the Federal judiciary nationwide.

    So I did a little research. Looking back over the last six decades, I found only three district court nominations—three in over 60 years—on which cloture was even filed. For two of those, the cloture petitions were withdrawn after procedural issues were resolved. For a single one, the Senate voted on cloture and it was invoked. All three of those nominations were confirmed. I trust that the nomination of Jack McConnell will also be confirmed.

    From the start of President Obama’s term, Republican Senators have applied a heightened and unfair standard to President Obama’s district court nominees. Senate Republicans have chosen to depart dramatically from the long tradition of deference on district court nominees to the home state Senators who know the needs of their states best. Instead, an unprecedented number of President Obama’s highly-qualified district court nominees have been targeted for opposition and obstruction.

    That approach is a serious break from the Senate’s practice of advice and consent. Since 1945, the Judiciary Committee has reported more than 2100 district court nominees to the Senate. Out of these 2100 nominees, only five have been reported by party-line votes. Only five total in the last 65 years. Four of these five party-line votes have been against President Obama’s highly-qualified district court nominees. Indeed, only 19 of those 2100 district court nominees were reported by any kind of split roll call vote at all, and five of those, more than a quarter, have been President Obama’s nominees, including Mr. McConnell.
    Is the McConnell case one where a “high roller” of a particular political party is being rewarded for past services rendered? Sure it is (welcome to Politics 101).

    But this time, it is supposedly different because the prerogative of a Democratic president (and an African American one at that!) is in question (and to provide some appropriate context on why this matters, I give you this; I don’t usually cite or defer to Hangin’ Judge JR, but I do when it comes to the question of the danger posed by judicial vacancies).

  • Finally, it seems that Mikey the Beloved found time to speak before the Newtown Business & Professional Association here (of course, nobody asked Mikey why he didn’t hold a town hall meeting during his recent congressional break to defend his atrocious vote for “Ryan Care,” or hold him to account for his “tele”-town hall, a tactic he once wrongly criticized Patrick Murphy for when the latter served in Congress…such “tele”-town halls, or something like it, are held by businesses all the time).

    There’s a lot of typically ripe stuff here from Mikey The Shill, but I’ll concentrate on the following in particular…
    Answering a question on energy independence, Fitzpatrick said he favors an all-in strategy that includes nuclear, oil, wind and solar.

    “We need nuclear. We haven’t’ built a nuclear plant in 10 years. We haven’t built a new refinery in 30 years. We should support companies like Gamesa, but we have to do it equally. You cannot say you’re a winner and you’re a loser.

    “I think Bush was wrong and I believe Obama is wrong on energy,” he said. “Bush loved the oil industry. Five years later, President Obama is in the White House. He denigrates the oil industry and all the tax rates are for wind and solar. And I’m as green as the next guy, but there’s no way to power this country on wind and solar.

    “We need an all-in strategy,” he said.
    Oh yes, President Obama denigrates the oil industry; that’s why domestic oil production increased last year was at its highest level since 2003 (and I’m going to keep linking to this as long as Repugs keep lying about it).

    But on the issue of Mikey supposedly being “as green as the next guy,” I give you this, telling us that he flip-flopped on drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (that remains a bad idea that would yield precious little “black crude,” not enough to make a difference at the pump, while risking truly catastrophic environmental damage) and voted against investing in cleaner energy.

    Fitzpatrick voted to fundamentally rewrite our national mining policy by ending a decade-long congressional ban on the sale of public lands to mining companies. These lands, which are currently used for recreation, wildlife, fisheries or regional drinking water, could now be sold without public input or environmental review, and Americans who now enjoy them could see them privatized and closed. The lands could even be used for real estate development or other purposes (Roll Call #601).

    Fitzpatrick voted against requiring federal agencies to identify the environmental impacts of their programs on minority and low-income populations and to develop policies for implementing their programs in a nondiscriminatory manner (Roll Call #130).

    Fitzpatrick voted to cut discretionary spending on the environment and natural resources by $2.85 billion, more than 9 percent below the previous year's levels. By 2010, funding levels for these programs would be 21 percent below the level needed to maintain current activities. Among the hardest hit are the Land and Water Conservation Fund, as well as programs to invest in clean water infrastructure, protect oceans and coasts, and conserve agricultural lands. The resolution also allowed the Arctic Refuge to be opened up for drilling through a fast track budget reconciliation bill (Roll Call #88).

    Fitzpatrick voted to waive any federal or state law in building roads, walls, fences and other barriers along U.S. borders. In addition to jeopardizing a wide array of protected federal lands, the waiver provision would deny citizens the right to appeal (Roll Call #29).
    And by the way, check out in the story where Mikey says that people are paying attention to “entitlement reform,” I suppose, “for the first time in a long time”…what a snotty bastard (to say nothing of wrong).

    In response, I have only this to ask:

    Where are the jobs, congressman??!!

  • Update 5/5/11: And speaking of Mikey, he voted for this atrocity from Chris Smith also.

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