With House Republicans pursuing a contempt resolution against Attorney General Eric Holder, it's worth a read of House Speaker John Boehner's words from the past.
Democrats have argued that the House Oversight Committee, led by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), hasn't exhausted all of its options to get the documents requested for its investigation of the ATF's botched Fast and Furious operation. They say DOJ has been turning over information that wouldn't affect an ongoing investigation and that Republicans should wait out a report on that matter from the Justice Department Inspector General.
Back in 2008 when Democrats were pursuing a civil contempt lawsuit in the U.S. Attorneys scandal, Boehner (along with Reps. Roy Blunt, Lamar Smith and Chris Cannon) filed a friend of the court brief that made pretty much the same argument.
Democrats, the brief asserted, appeared to want to "generate a rapid confrontation with the White House" and discarded the opportunity to obtain voluntary information. They "declined the benefit of the results of a more exhaustive investigation conducted by the Department's Office of the Inspector General ("OIG") and Office of Professional Responsibility ("OPR")" and "chose instead to pursue premature contempt citations," the brief stated.
The complete facts reveal an investigation that appeared designed to generate a rapid confrontation with the White House, in concert with initial interviews of senior Department of Justice ("Department") officials; discarded at the very outset the opportunity to obtain voluntary information from the White House; declined to pursue information from a number of other witnesses that could have clarified whether information from White House sources was needed; ignored exculpatory evidence pertaining to the White House's role in the dismissals; declined the benefit of the results of a more exhaustive investigation conducted by the Department's Office of the Inspector General ("OIG") and Office of Professional Responsibility ("OPR"); chose instead to pursue premature contempt citations; considered the issue of the subpoenas and contempt after many months of dormancy in the full House under an extraordinary rule precluding both full debate and a direct vote on the contempt resolutions; and culminated with an admission by the Committee chairman on the House floor that the Committee had no evidence against Ms. Miers and Mr. Bolten, and was engaged essentially in a fishing expedition.
As the Huffington Post points out, Issa also opposed the Democrats pursuit of contempt against former White House Counsel Harriet Miers and chief of staff Joshua Bolten and followed Boehner off the floor of the House in boycott of the vote after Boehner said the floor was being abused for "political grandstanding."
As TPM reported, the contempt proceedings probably wouldn't mean much legally for Holder.
Anti-stimulus watchdog Fox News finally finds a public works project it can love -- in Republican dreamboat Chris Christie's state. Watch.[...]
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This post contains spoilers for the May 3 episode of Parks & Recreation.
One of the things I’ve always liked about Pawnee is its slight crackedness, part English small town wacky, part All-American grievance factory. I like that one of Leslie’s stump speech promises can be “to expel the violent gangs of geese in Detwiler Square.” And I like that Pawnee contains a the Newports’ gloriously ludicrous mansion, which in keeping with Bobby’s status as an overgrown child contains both a rich-dude’s game room with a bowling alley, and an elegant crystal bowl fully of gummy bears.
It also contains its very particular villains, in this case, a van rental dude played by Glee’s Mike O’Malley who, having initially agreed to rent Leslie’s campaign his fleet for election day for $900, sells out to the Newports for $10,000. He proves immune to all sorts of inducements, including a promise of free publicity, and Tom’s offer to let him in on his latest business idea: alcoholic frozen Yogurt Platinum (which I would totally eat). He’s even resistant to Ron Swanson’s Code of Manliness. When Ron tells him “Where I come from, a man’s word is sacred,” Van Guy spits back “Okay, what’s your stance on pinky swears, George Washington?”
So it’s up to Donna and her beloved ride to save the day. I always appreciate when she and Jerry get a chance to be heroes, and while Jerry’s expression as he gets hit in the face with a pie for science and FBI Agent Bert Macklin is priceless, this time, it’s Donna’s turn. She’s been along for the ride more than anything else on the campaign, fascinated by Jerry’s love of menial campaign work, but with the same clear line she always has between work and the rest of her life. So it’s nice to see her commit all the way, even on the last day of the campaign, when it matters most. In a Towanda the Avenger move, she crushes Van Guy’s fender, has Tom and Ron act as her witnesses, and informs him “We can settle this right now. I will accept payment in van rentals.”
Even though Leslie’s attempts to apologize to Bobby after insulting his father only to learn that he’s died was ostensibly the A story tonight, I was actually most intrigued by something she said in the open. “If we win,” she said of the campaign bus, “hopefully it will be the home that Ben and I share forever.” Ben’s sacrifice of his job solved the problem of whether the two of them can stay together during her campaign. But now that we’re close to knowing whether Leslie will win or lose, it’ll be interesting to see if they can build a long-term relationship, especially when Ben has to find a job that doesn’t involved the advancement of Leslie’s life goals.
And I also want to know what’s going to happen to April Ludgate-Dwyer when she finds something she’s interested enough to stretch for beyond Andy. We’re still at a point in the show where seeing her be kind to someone is novel, even if being kind means saying things like: “First of all, dark places are awesome. Second, Ann is kind of lame so way to dodge a bullet. And Millicent is Jerry’s daughter. So two bullets. And you’re not alone. You’ve got lots of friends. Somewhere. I assume. You’re going to be just fine.” But at some point, that juxtaposition will cease to be striking. I can’t wait to see how April’s going to grow once she figures out what she’s going to grow into, and I do hope the show makes some strides towards helping her find that soon.
Obesity is a growing health concern in the United States. A projection earlier this year estimated that 75 percent of Americans will be overweight or obese by 2020, higher than any other country surveyed. That, in turn, is expected to grow health care costs considerably.
Now, experts are warning that those kinds of preventable health conditions could make the current generation the first to live shorter lives than their parents. At a conference in Atlanta yesterday, health professionals talked about health problems like obesity, why they are becoming more prevalent, and what needs to be done to encourage Americans to live healthier lives:
Tyler Norris, a senior adviser on Total Health at Kaiser Permanente, cited the life expectancy warning as he spoke to an Atlanta audience about the burden of obesity and diabetes. [...] Of course, it?s partly what Americans eat. Many people consume too many ??cheap, empty calories,?? [Kaiser Permanente health advisor Tyler] Norris told the Connections conference, sponsored by Healthcare Georgia Foundation. Lack of exercise and the increase in sedentary jobs are other major factors contributing to obesity.
Norris presented several ideas to reduce to the problem, including providing more biking and walking routes; promoting breastfeeding; and serving better food in school cafeterias.
In one case, another expert noted, two communities in New Orleans had dramatically different life expectancies, with one at 55 and another at 80. According to Brian Smedley, director of the Health Policy Institute of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, much of the difference can be attributed to things like “food deserts,” or areas with many fast-food restaurants and few nutritious options, and a lack of parks or recreational facilities.
Unfortunately, Republicans in Congress have publicly rejected the idea that prevention programs, which have already started to help communities get healthier using those same actions, are worth funding, despite the fact that many of their constituents have a lot to gain from them.
Last month, the U.S. Secret Service met with right wing gun advocate and National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent after he made what many interpreted to be threatening remarks toward President Obama. “If Barack Obama becomes the president in November again, I will be either be dead or in jail by this time next year,” he said at the NRA’s annual conference in St. Louis.
Nugent endorsed Mitt Romney for president. And while the Secret Service thought Nugent’s remarks warranted a chat, the Romney campaign didn’t directly condemn his remarks. Instead, a campaign spokesperson derided “divisive language” in a general sense, adding that “Mitt Romney believes everyone needs to be civil.” In fact, in an interview with CBS News that aired this morning, Nugent said the Romney campaign “expressed support” and never advised that he tone down his rhetoric:
Q: Have you heard from the Romney campaign after these comments?
NUGENT: I have.
NUGENT: I have to say what I say the way I say it.
Q: Were they unhappy with you for saying that?
NUGENT: No. They expressed support.
Q: Did they say to you, “Listen we appreciate the support, tone it down.”
Watch the interview (video of highlighted transcript begins at 4:04):
The Romney campaign may have offered support for Nugent and his remarks, but it seems the NRA wasn’t too comfortable with them. The powerful gun lobby on its YouTube page took down the video of the interview in which Nugent claimed he’d either be dead or in jail if Obama is reelected.
This morning the U.S. Department of the Interior released new draft regulations on oversight of natural gas drilling on public lands. The rule specifically addresses public disclosure of drilling chemicals, well-construction techniques, and ?flowback? water that returns to the surface after drilling.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar issued a press release today:
“?it is critical that the public have full confidence that the right safety and environmental protections are in place. The proposed rule will modernize our management of well stimulation activities ? including hydraulic fracturing ? to make sure that fracturing operations conducted on public and Indian lands follow common-sense industry best practices.?
The Interior Department should be commended for modernizing rules that were last updated in 1988 ? in particularly for creating new provisions that strengthen the government?s ability to regulate the construction and oversight of wells. However, the rule lacks a handful of basic public right-to-know measures.
It would require natural gas drillers to disclose the chemicals being used after the fracking has taken place, not beforehand. This makes baseline testing of water quality nearly impossible, as local communities will be unable to know what exactly to test for. As Center for American Progress Chairman and Counselor John Podesta put it:
“Disclosure after the fact not only jeopardizes public health but effectively cuts the public out of discussions that affect their communities.”
Additionally, the Interior Department is ?working with? the Groundwater Protection Council to determine whether the actual public listing of chemicals can be done on its FracFocus.org website. The Groundwater Protection Council is comprised of state oil and gas regulators, who often find themselves both promoting drilling and policing it. A recent investigation by Greenwire found that 40% of state oil and gas regulators have financial ties to the industry.
Hydraulic fracturing is a natural gas drilling technique that involves pumping millions of gallons of water, sand, and chemicals underground in order to help stimulate wells. Whether or not chemicals used in the drilling process can contaminate water has been the subject of intense debate. The Environmental Protection Agency recently found at least one instance where hydraulic fracturing was implicated in drinking water contamination. That report was backed up by an independent analysis.
The Interior Department should require companies to disclose the chemicals that they will use before hydraulic fracturing takes place, as well as make the lists available on a public website.
In addition to these standards, long term natural gas development could be made more safe if exemptions from various federal environmental laws are repealed, the National Academy of Sciences conducts a lifecycle study of natural gas? greenhouse gas emissions relative to coal, and EPA?s voluntary Natural Gas Star program for methane is made mandatory.
Jessica Goad is Manager of Research and Outreach for the Public Lands Project at the Center for American Progress.
With the June 12 special election to fill the Arizona House seat left open by the resignation of Rep. Gabby Giffords (D) fast approaching, the Republican nominee Jesse Kelly has just launched a new attack ad against his Democratic opponent Ron Barber. In the ad and a newly revised section of his campaign website, Kelly highlights his commitment to protecting entitlements for America’s seniors — a commitment that stands in stark contrast to the positions he took in his unsuccessful campaign against Giffords back in 2010 and as recently as last month.
In the ad, Kelly makes a widely-debunked claim that ObamaCare will “cut $500 billion from Medicare.” The legislation aims to achieve $500 billion in Medicare savings, which will extend the life of the program and provide better care.
But after his disclaimer, Kelly and his grandfather Hank Allgyer say:
KELLY: I’m committed to protecting Social Security and Medicare for our seniors.”
ALLGYER: Don’t let Ron Barber cut my benefits, Jesse. I’ve earned them.
KELLY: Don’t worry, Grandpa. I won’t.
ALLGYER: I know you’ll protect us.
Watch the video:
On his website, Kelly says he supports “preserving, protecting and strengthening Social Security and Medicare” and does not support “privatizing, eliminating or phasing out these programs in any way.” He advocates actions to prevent Social Security from “going bankrupt” but lays out five principles that would seemingly prevent any real action to do that:
1. Any solution must be bipartisan
2. I will not vote for any solution that privatizes social security
3. I will not vote for any solution that raises taxes
4. I will not vote for any solution that cuts benefits
5. I will not vote for any solution that raises the retirement age
By ruling out changing the amount of money coming in to the Social Security fund (raising taxes) or the amount going out (cutting benefits or changing the retirement age), he seems to take virtually everything off the table. But he hasn’t always had this view.
The Hill noted that as recently as April 18, his website called for partial privatization of Social Security. His earlier view that “Younger workers should have the choice of allocating a portion of their contribution into a personal retirement account in their name,” is has been completely erased from his positions page.
And, the same article notes, in a 2010 debate, Kelly said the nation must take steps to reform, privatize, and phase out entitlements. “You need to fulfill your promises in the near future while phasing out future generations, taking steps to privatize, vouchers, everything,” he said. “It?s not an option of should it be done. It must be done.”
Kelly, a construction manager and Tea Party favorite, infamously hosted an M16 automatic weapons shooting campaign event to help supporters ?get on target? to ?help remove Gabrielle Giffords from office,? just months before a gunman went on a shooting spree at a Giffords community event in Tuscon, leaving six dead and a dozen wounded ? including both Giffords and Barber. Giffords resigned her seat in January to focus on her recovery.
The Kelly website makes no mention of whether the nation has always been at war with Eastasia, but Kelly apparently does not think Arizona voters can remember all the way back to April 2012.
I probably shouldn't have enjoyed this as much as I did, but damn if I didn't laugh out loud at Anderson Cooper's mild-mannered smackdown of Rush Limbaugh's odd citing of Anderson Cooper and his ratings on CNN. I don't listen to Rush, so I don't know if discussing the ratings of the cable news channels or gossip columns are a regular part of his show or if he just needed to needle Cooper a little bit for some perceived slight.
Frankly, the subtext of Rush's comments ("Cooper's always at the gym or that bar") made it a little creepy. We know what he's implying about Anderson Cooper, although really, does a man who takes a jumbo bottle of Viagra on a fraudulent prescription on a Dominican Republic "golf holiday" really want to go there? But Anderson Cooper, classy to the end, reminds Rush that there's nothing wrong with trying to keep physically fit.
I will grant the following point, though, and I agree that this is some fantastically juicy gossip. So listen close. Stop the presses. I do go to the gym. I?m concerned about heart disease. I?ve raised money to fight heart disease. My dad died of it. And, yeah, I try to take care of myself. Mr. Limbaugh, I can only hope that you are taking care of yourself as well. You might try the gym from time to time.
Ooh...I don't care how placid the delivery, that one left a mark. I'm sure that Rush will have another volley soon.
- Things that matter in the presidential campaign, and things that don't, by DemFromCT
- In Arizona, governing by conspiracy theory, by Hunter
- Mitt Romney is a businessman like the Hamburglar is a cowboy, by David Waldman
- History shows renewable energy subsidies are exactly what's needed to get us out of fossil-fuel bind, by Meteor Blades
- Redistricting Roundup: Republicans win, by not losing, by David Jarman
- Occupy and the Constitution, by Armando
- Dumbing democracy down: Leadership is not a drinking game, by Laurence Lewis
- When your pharmacist is allowed to tell you "no," by Denise Oliver Velez
- Falling down on the economic treadmill, by brooklynbadboy
- All politics is personal, especially in North Carolina, by Scott Wooledge
- The insanity of the Wall Street ethos, by Dante Atkins
Kennedy, [AP CEO Tom] Curley said, "did everything just right." Curley rejected the notion that the AP had a duty to obey the order to hold the story once it was clear the embargo was for political reasons, rather than to protect the troops.
"Once the war is over, you can't hold back information like that. The world needed to know," he said in an interview.
...four students wounded that day asked U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate digitally enhanced audio evidence they believe proves an officer ordered the guardsmen to fire on the unarmed students.
A command to fire has never been proven and guardsmen said they fired in self-defense. Criminal charges were brought against eight guardsmen, but a judge dismissed the case. Wounded students and families of those slain later received a total of $675,000 after civil lawsuits.
According to Alexander Historical Auctions president Bill Panagopulos, the shorter document reveals, among other things, that der Führer farted constantly as a result of his vegetarian diet, and was the recipient of regular bull semen injections aimed at rejuvenating his flagging libido.Caught one day by Eva Braun while he was having one of the secret injections, Hitler said: "Oh, mein Liebchen, don't have a cow."
Programs promoting diversity, mentorships and affinity groups may or may not be good, but they are not how women get ahead. "Over deliver," Mr. Welch advised. "Performance is it!"
On Saturday night, the full moon will be closer to Earth than at any other time this year, an occurrence that's been labeled a supermoon.
During this week's perigee, the moon will be 221,801 miles (356,955 kilometers) from our planet, and that close approach will happen within minutes of the official full moon phase, which occurs at 11:35 p.m. ET. [...]
The moon's proximity won't have any major effects on our planet, according to astronomers, who hope to dispel fears that the looming lunar orb causes natural disasters.
"While we know that during new and full moons the tides are greatest?and if it's in concert with a storm surge it might produce unusual flooding?there is no scientific evidence that earthquakes and other natural disasters are connected," Gyuk said.
We had hundreds of people calling their representatives yesterday to ask if they would sign the letter to President Obama, telling him to issue an executive order preventing federal contractors from discriminating against employees based on sexual[...]
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