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Updated: 2 hours 29 min ago

Coburn not putting hold on presidential records bill.

Fri, 2007-09-21 09:34

Yesterday, ThinkProgress noted that Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) was suspected of putting a secret hold on a bill that would restore public access to Presidential records that President Bush had sealed indefinitely with an executive order. In the comments of the ThinkProgress post, however, someone on Coburn’s staff wrote in to say that the Oklahoman is not the senator putting the hold on the bill:

The office of Sen. Tom Coburn would like to state for the record that he is not holding this bill related to presidential records. It is true that he placed a hold on the bill following its passage through the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee in June, but has since worked out his minor concern with the office of Sen. Joseph Lieberman at which time he lifted his hold.

Did Conservative Reporter Conspire With Bush On Question Bashing Democrats?

Fri, 2007-09-21 08:28

At the end of yesterday’s press conference, a reporter asked President Bush what was his “reaction” to’s Gen. Petraeus ad in the New York Times. The question — the last of the briefing — gave Bush an opportunity to express his disappointment in the “leaders of the Democrat party“:

I thought the ad was disgusting. I felt like the ad was an attack not only on General Petraeus, but on the U.S. military. And I was disappointed that not more leaders in the Democrat Party spoke out strongly against that kind of ad. And that leads me to come to this conclusion: that most Democrats are afraid of irritating a left-wing group like — or more afraid of irritating them than they are of irritating the United States military. That was a sorry deal. It’s one thing to attack me; it’s another thing to attack somebody like General Petraeus.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the question came from Washington Examiner reporter Bill Sammon, who is also a frequent Fox News guest and formerly a Washington Times reporter. Washington Post reporter Dana Milbank notes that Bush was in “need of a pick-me-up” after a series of tough questions on the economy, Iraq, and SCHIP. Therefore, he “looked toward the back of the room” and personally chose Sammon, aka “Big Stretch.”

Sammon has written four books on Bush, enjoying a close relationship and unprecedented access. His bio for speaking engagements brags:

Six-foot-seven inch Bill Sammon–nicknamed “Superstretch” by President Bush–enjoys more access to the commander-in-chief than any other journalist. Sammon has spent hours with Bush in the Oval Office, aboard Air Force One–even in the President’s sprawling Texas ranch. As Senior White House Correspondent for the Washington Examiner, Bill Sammon travels with Bush wherever he goes and was with him on September 11, when his presidency was utterly transformed by the terrorist attacks.

Sammon’s friendly softball paid off for the Bush administration. This morning, NBC’s Today Show covered Bush’s comments condemning MoveOn and Democrats, as did last night’s NBC Nightly News and ABC World News. The AP reported on Bush’s remarks, noting that he “criticized Democrats for not immediately condemning the ad, which he called ‘disgusting.’”

UPDATE: Last night on MSNBC, Keith Olbermann called out Bush for picking Sammon as the last question, so that there was “no chance at a follow-up” to point out that Bush was the one who actually “interjected General Petraeus into the political dialogue of this nation in the first place.”

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Breaking: Levin-Reed amendment fails.

Fri, 2007-09-21 07:23

Today, the Senate voted 47-47 on an amendment sponsored by Sens. Carl Levin (D-MI) and Jack Reed (D-RI) that “would require a withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq to begin in 90 days and end in nine months.”

When the Senate previously voted on the bill in July, the vote was 52-47.

UPDATE: Roll call vote HERE. Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME), Chris Dodd (D-CT), Ben Nelson (D-NE) all voted “yea” in July, but voted “nay” yesterday. Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Dick Durbin (D-IL), and Bernie Sanders (I-CT) all voted “yea” in July, but did not vote yesterday. Sen. Bob Bennett (R-UT), Trent Lott (R-MS), and Pete Domenici (R-NM) also didn’t vote yesterday, but voted “nay” in July. Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD) yesterday voted “yea.”

UPDATE:Dodd explains his switch in a press release, which states that “he will only support legislation on Iraq that contains a firm and enforceable timetable for redeploying U.S. troops as well as an enforceable cut off of funds for future combat operations in Iraq.”

Fired U.S. attorney honored by home state.

Fri, 2007-09-21 07:18

On December 7, 2006, the Justice Department asked John McKay to resign as the U.S. Attorney for Washington state. Now, nearly a year after he was fired, McKay is being honored for his contributions to the legal community. Last night, “he accepted the Washington State Bar Association’s Courageous Award with a subtle nod and a small smile. Outgoing state bar association President Ellen Dial handed McKay the award, saying he served with dignity and honor ‘in the face of controversy.’”

ThinkFast: September 21, 2007

Fri, 2007-09-21 06:06

Republicans reacted angrily yesterday” to Bush’s pledge to veto increased funding for children’s health insurance. “I’m disappointed by the president’s comments,” said Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA). “I’m very, very disappointed,” echoed Sen. Gordon Smith (R-OR).

89.6 million: The number of Americans under the age of 65 who “had no health insurance for some or all of 2006 and 2007, according to a study released Thursday by Families USA, an advocacy group for the uninsured. The number is “almost double the number of uninsured reported by the Census Bureau for 2006.”

In a protest march in Jena, LA, yesterday that “filled streets, spilled onto sidewalks and stretched for miles,” more than 10,000 demonstrators rallied to protest the treatment of six black teenagers arrested in the beating of a white schoolmate last year. Support the Jena 6 here.

The appointment of Donald Rumsfeld as a “distinguished visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution is drawing fierce protests from faculty members and students at Stanford University.” “Some 2,100 professors, staff members, students and alumni have signed” a petition protesting his appointment.

Rep. Peter King (R-NY), who recently said “there are too many mosques” in America, continues to advise former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Giuliani “chuckled” at the suggestion of dumping King. “I’ve known Pete for 41 years, so I’m not about to do that,” he said. (more…)

FBI secretly recorded Sen. Stevens’s calls.

Thu, 2007-09-20 19:50

The FBI secretly taped telephone calls between Alaska oil contractor Bill Allen and Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) as part of a “public corruption sting.” The new revelation suggests that “the Justice Department was eyeing Stevens long before June, when the Republican senator first publicly acknowledged he was under scrutiny.”

Former DeLay CoS’s payroll records subpoenaed.

Thu, 2007-09-20 19:33

A federal grand jury in Washington D.C. has issued a subpoena for the House payroll records of Ed Buckham, former chief of staff to ex-House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX). The subpoena “is the first formal notification that Buckham is the focus of a federal corruption probe by the Justice Department.” Buckham is not the first ex-DeLay staffer to receive a subpoena recently:

In recent months, a number of ex-DeLay staffers have been subpoenaed - or voluntarily came in for questioning - by the Justice Dept. to discuss the day-to-day operations of DeLay’s office, including the role Buckham played once he left DeLay’s staff, according to several sources familiar with the investigation.

Kansas cemetery ‘full’ because of Iraq war.

Thu, 2007-09-20 19:00

A Kansas military cemetery “has run out of space after the burial of another casualty of the Iraq war.” “We are full,” said a spokeswoman for the Fort Riley U.S. Army post. “Fort Riley can bury bodies on top of other bodies if family members want to share a plot,” said the spokesperson.

Bachmann rebuffs Bush’s advances.

Thu, 2007-09-20 17:45

At the 2007 State of the Union address, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) infamously gripped onto President Bush’s shoulder until he gave her “a kiss and an embrace.” Yesterday, Bachmann boasted to a MN radio station that at the scene of the recent bridge collapse, Bush tried to “embrace” and “kiss” her once again:

The President and I enjoy a great relationship. When he and I were back visiting the collapsed bridge, he reached over because he wanted to give me a kiss when we were down at the site, and I had pulled back and he said, “What? You don’t want to embrace?” And I said, “The people of Minnesota love you Mr. President, but I think one kiss was enough.”

Audio at Wonkette.

Harman: Conservatives Falsely Hyped Terror Threat Against U.S. Capitol To Pass FISA Expansion

Thu, 2007-09-20 16:00

On August 2, Roll Call issued a breaking news report, warning of a suspected terror threat against the U.S. Capitol:

Capitol Police officials have stepped up the department’s security presence on Capitol Hill in response to intelligence indicating the increased possibility of an al-Qaida terrorist attack on Congress sometime between now and Sept. 11.

Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS) ratcheted up the rhetoric, “ominously” advising that “Congress needed to pass changes to terrorist surveillance laws before leaving for the August recess and warned that otherwise ‘the disaster could be on our doorstep.’”

Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA), speaking at a FISA event yesterday organized by the Center for American Progress Action Fund, stated that the terror claims were “part of a well-orchestrated campaign” by the administration to politicize the FISA debate. She referred to the efforts as part of the “Rovian strategy of using terrorism as a wedge political issue.” Harman asserted that the intelligence agencies “knew” the terror claims propagated by conservative lawmakers were false:

That specific intelligence claim, it turned out, was bogus; the intelligence agencies knew that –apparently had communicated to Congress or to relevant people that it was bogus, the source was unreliable. But that communication wasn’t in any published form until the day that the Senate passed the amendments to FISA.

Watch it:

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It’s still unclear exactly how much the vote was influenced by these events, but at a minimum it demonstrates that the politicization of terror and safety has sunk to a new low on the decency scale.

Raw Story has more.

— Dave de Give

This post was submitted through our Blog Fellows program. Make your own contribution — and get paid for it — by clicking here.

McConnell again says public FISA debate will kill Americans.

Thu, 2007-09-20 15:00

In an interview with the El Paso Times last month, Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell claimed that “Americans are going to die” because of the “public” debate on warrantless wiretapping. During his testimony today before the House Intelligence Committee, McConnell reiterated his morbid claim in an exchange with Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA):

ESHOO: After the act passed, you claimed that because of the congressional and public debate over changes to FISA, quote, Some Americans are going to die.

MCCONNELL: Yes, ma’am, that’s right.

ESHOO: Do you really believe that because we have a public debate in the Congress of the United States about surveillance, about the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, that Americans are going to die?

MCCONNELL: Yes, ma’am, I do.

ESHOO: And did Americans…

MCCONNELL: They will.

ESHOO: … die because of our debate?

MCCONNELL: They will, and the reason is…

ESHOO: I think you need to explain that, not just to us, obviously. The cameras are up. That’s a heavy statement.

MCCONNELL: The intelligence business is conducted in secret. It’s conducted in secret for a reason.

‘A small price?’

Thu, 2007-09-20 14:47

Americans United for Change launched this ad today, criticizing Rep. John Boehner’s (R-OH) recent remarks that the U.S. troop casualties would be a “small price to pay” to stay in Iraq over the long-term. Watch the ad:

In a recent interview with Fox News, Boehner “dissembled so ostentatiously about his initial comments that even Fox News couldn’t help but call him on it.”

Reid-Feingold withdrawal legislation fails.

Thu, 2007-09-20 14:33

Today, the Reid-Feingold legislation, which would have cut off funds for combat in Iraq by June 2008, was rejected 28-70, “32 short of the 60 needed to cut off a GOP filibuster.” In May, the Reid-Feingold legislation failed by a 29-67 vote.

San Diego mayor reverses position, supports gay marriage.

Thu, 2007-09-20 14:15

After two weeks of deadlock, the City Council of San Diego yesterday voted 5-3 to pass a resolution supporting marriage equality for gays and lesbians. San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders, a Republican, initially indicated that he would veto the measure, but in an emotional about face, Sanders announced today that he would “take a stand on behalf of equality and social justice” by supporting the measure. In his press conference announcing his decision, Sanders acknowledged publicly for the first time that his daughter, Lisa, is a lesbian.

(HT: Down With Tyranny!)

Senators Who Forced Debate On MoveOn Ad Earlier Complained Of ‘Wasting Time On Empty Resolutions’

Thu, 2007-09-20 13:27

Today, the Senate voted 72-25 to approve Sen. John Cornyn’s (R-TX) bill criticizing’s Gen. David Petraeus ad in the New York Times. The “sense of the Senate” resolution “strongly” condemns the “personal attacks on the honor and integrity of General Petraeus.”

Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA) has now called for an investigation into “possible elections violations by the New York Times for selling an advertisement to the liberal group at a reduced rate.”

Neither Cornyn’s resolution nor Davis’s investigation have any bearing on the course in Iraq. The senators who today voted for Cornyn’s bill have previously chastised the Senate for engaging in “a colossal waste of time” on “empty” and “meaningless resolutions.” Some examples:

On Iraq debates/resolutions:

“Mr. President, we have nearly finished this little exhibition, which was staged, I assume, for the benefit of a briefly amused press corps and in deference to political activists opposed to the war.” [Sen. John McCain, 7/18/07]

“We have just seen a procedure in the last 24 hours that was a colossal waste of time.” [Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA), 7/18/07]

“I want an open and honest debate, and not political posturing. I was sent here to take action, not waste time on non-binding and empty resolutions.” [Sen. Craig Thomas (R-WY), 2/23/07]

On the Gonzales vote of no confidence:

“[W]e ended up…spending our time on a meaningless resolution giving the president advice about who the attorney general ought to be.” [Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), 6/12/07]

“This is a very disappointing spectacle here today.” [Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS), 6/12/07]

On general partisanship:

“They’ve wasted the first seven months by being excessively partisan and creating unnecessary, in my view, disputes with a pretty robust minority of 49.” [Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), 7/25/07]

“The way that they have proceeded, I am not sure that you can count on anything getting done, even those things that look like a fairly certain bet.” [Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ), 7/25/07]

Evidently, it’s not a partisan waste of time to condemn an advocacy group for a New York Times ad.

Pentagon delays security handover in Iraq.

Thu, 2007-09-20 12:39

For the second time this year, “the target date for putting Iraqi authorities in charge of security in all 18 provinces has slipped yet again, to at least next July.” The delay highlights “the difficulties in developing Iraqi police forces and the slow pace of economic and political progress.”

Malkin: Sally Field Is The Type Of Mom Who ‘Buys Her Teenager Beer And Condoms On Prom Night’

Thu, 2007-09-20 11:41

Since actress Sally Field won an Emmy and spoke out against the Iraq war in her acceptance speech, the right wing has been on the attack. In addition to Fox censoring her speech, conservatives continue to criticize Field for speaking out.

Taking the slander to a very personal level, right-wing blogger Michelle Malkin attacked Field’s parenting skills with a column in the National Review entitled “Sally Field Does Not Speak For Me.” In it, she writes:

Sally Field is the mom who looks the other way when the brat on the elementary-school slide pushes your son to the ground or throws dirt in your daughter’s face.

She’s the mom who holds her tongue at the mall when thugs spew profanities and make crude gestures in front of her brood.

She’s the mom who tells her child never to point out when a teacher gets her facts wrong.

She’s the mom who buys her teenager beer, condoms, and a hotel room on prom night, because she’d rather give in than assert her parental authority and do battle.

Fox and Friends hosted Malkin this morning to promote her hate-filled column. On the show, Malkin — a mother herself — posited her theory of parenting: “motherhood should bring a ferocity, and dare I say, make us more violent.”

Watch it:

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Fox was overjoyed to have Malkin on the air. Co-host Gretchen Carlson said Malkin’s “best line in the article” was about the condoms and beer. Malkin responded, “as a Mom, I know, I’ve dealt with moms like [Fields], who look the other way.”

After a few more exchanges of laughter and contempt, co-host Steve Doocy closed the segment stating, “Hollywood probably thinks you are dangerous and offensive.” So do many others.

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Bush: Condi is smarter, but ‘look at who’s the president.’

Thu, 2007-09-20 11:08

At his press briefing today, President Bush poked fun of Condoleezza Rice, his Secretary of State, pointing out that while she may have a PhD, she’s still not President of the United States. Instead, Bush, who was a “C student,” is:

I remind people that, like when I’m with, Condi, I say she’s the Ph.D. and I’m the C student and just look at who’s the president and who’s the adviser.

Watch it:

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When Bush spoke to Yale University in 2001, he told the graduating students, “And to you ‘C’ students, you too can be president of the United States.”

GOP Senator Puts Secret Hold On Bill Restoring Public Access To Presidential Records

Thu, 2007-09-20 10:19

In Nov. 2001, President Bush signed an executive order that historians called “unprecedented” and “would turn the 1978 Presidential Records Act on its head by allowing such materials to be kept secret ‘in perpetuity.’”

In March, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), along with Reps. Russell Platts (R-PA), Lacy Clay (D-MO), and Dan Burton (R-IN) introduced a bill that would “nullify” Bush’s 2001 order “and restore public access to presidential records.” The bill passed the House with a 333-93 vote and the Senate Government Affairs Committee agreed in June to move its version to the floor for a vote, but the bill was stalled when an anonymous Republican senator put a hold on it:

A fight over White House secrecy has taken a new twist, with Senate officials confirming Wednesday that a Republican senator is secretly blocking a bill that would reverse President Bush’s 2001 executive order allowing ex-presidents to seal their records indefinitely. […]

Suspicion for the hold initially focused on three senators — Ted Stevens of Alaska, Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, and George Voinovich of Ohio — who objected in committee to a provision giving ex-presidents 40 days to review document requests. That was changed to 90 days to address their concerns.

Aides to Sens. Stevens and Voinovich said Wednesday that their bosses are not blocking the bill. Coburn aides didn’t respond to inquiries.

If Coburn is the Senator blocking the bill from coming to a vote, it wouldn’t be the only bill that he is currently blocking. Last month, Coburn placed a hold on a suicide prevention bill for military veterans that was introduced by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA).

You can contact Coburn’s office here or call it at 202-224-5754.

UPDATE: In the comments, someone from Coburn’s staff says that he is not the Senator putting a hold on the bill:

The office of Sen. Tom Coburn would like to state for the record that he is not holding this bill related to presidential records. It is true that he placed a hold on the bill following its passage through the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee in June, but has since worked out his minor concern with the office of Sen. Joseph Lieberman at which time he lifted his hold.

Rumsfeld speech nixed after ‘too many people objected.’

Thu, 2007-09-20 09:46

Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was supposed to speak to the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce in Kansas on Dec. 4. But today the Wichita Eagle reports that his appearance was quietly canceled last month after “too many people objected.”

The Chamber, which is traditionally conservative, is now expecting to hear from former White House Press Secretary Tony Snow, who recently joined the speaker’s circuit.