In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Yesterday, the website Consortium News published an article by Charlotte Dennett pouring some cold water on the hope many liberals have that Congress will form a truth and reconciliation commission to investigate Bush-era torture and other instances of wrongdoing. Dennett reported that, at a meeting with Sen. Patrick Leahy, the Judiciary committee chairman had said the idea was dead in the water. "[I]t's not going to happen," Leahy reportedly said.

Today, Leahy released a statement addressing that article: "In contrast to reports circulating on the Internet, Leahy said he is continuing to explore the proposal."

"I am not interested in a panel comprised of partisans intent on advancing partisan conclusions," Leahy said. "I regret that Senate Republicans have approached this matter to date as partisans. That was not my intent or focus. Indeed, it will take bipartisan support in order to move this forward. I continue to talk about this prospect with others in Congress, and with outside groups and experts. I continue to call on Republicans to recognize that this is not about partisan politics. It is about being honest with ourselves as a country. We need to move forward together."


That leaves open the questions of Senate math--will any Republicans support the formation of such a commission?--and whether the committee will exercise any of its other options. As Daphne Eviatar wrote in the Washington Independent "Leahy and the Senate Judiciary Committee could still initiate a comprehensive inquiry into the role of the Justice Department in potentially illegal conduct under the Bush administration.... There's no need for a truth commission to get the investigative ball rolling."

I'll follow up with Dennett and will let you know what I find.

Republicans won't be changing their story on the cost of climate change legislation anytime soon. I just spoke with Michael Steel, spokesman for John Boehner, about the letter the House Minority Leader received from M.I.T. scientist John Reilly. By way of background, Reilly wrote to Boehner yesterday and gently informed him that he and other Republicans had "misrepresented in recent press releases" an M.I.T. study, which estimated that a cap and trade program would likely cost the average family $340 per year. The GOP is claiming, based on the same study, that the legislation would cost the average family $3,128 per year.

"We stand by our analysis," said Steel.

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A quick update on McCain's budget. His office hasn't sent out any related materials yet, and haven't released a statement, but a quick perusal of its terms over at Thomas reveals a few interesting details.

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The Hill reports that DSCC chairman Bob Menendez is fully standing behind Chris Dodd and predicts he'll be re-elected, despite the poll this morning showing Dodd behind Republican candidate Rob Simmons in a landslide:

Q: "Does the DSCC still support Chris whole-heartedly in light of these new numbers, and do they surprise you?"

Menendez: "Are you serious? Chris Dodd is going to be re-elected. He's a great senator."

Q: "So the DSCC still supports him all the way?"

Menendez: "Absolutely."

Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV), the Appropriation Committee chairman, has sent a letter to his colleagues articulating his opposition to using the budget reconciliation process to pass health care or climate change legislation.

"I oppose using the budget reconciliation process to pass health care reform and climate change legislation.... As one of the authors of the reconciliation process, I can tell you that the ironclad parliamentary procedures it authorizes were never intended for this purpose."

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Michele Bachmann did an interview posted yesterday at the right-wing blog Atlas Shrugs, where she talked about the danger of a global currency and other Obama economic policies. And she made this bold declaration: "And so we need to once again decide, do we want to be free, or do we want to be slaves? We have to make that decision. And I know I've made my choice, you've made your choice. And we have to act in concert if we want to make sure that we can hold on to what we have."

On the plus side, there was a point in the interview where Bachmann continued hearkening back to the American Revolution -- as she did during her fiery interview with Sean Hannity last week, when she said America was reaching the point of "orderly revolution" against Obama's Marxism -- but this time she was abundantly clear that she meant people needed to organize against Obama in elections:

The best thing that we can do, I believe, is to inform the American people what's at risk and what's at stake, and a better way forward. And if we can convince them -- because all we have right now is we can do that -- then perhaps we can turn this around in 2010, and at least stop the progress President Obama has made, continue to inform the American people, and make sure that his first term is his last term. And then we have to be extremely bold, if we are fortunate enough to win the presidency in 2012.


(Via Dump Bachmann.)

It's hard to tell if Eric Cantor's testing a new message, or if this is the new Republican line on the Democrats and the state of affairs in the country, but Politico reports that, at the Christian Science Monitor breakfast this morning, the House GOP whip, said Democrats are "overreacting, as they often will, to crisis."

But back to this morning. Cantor told participants that "Doing too much has huge, huge pitfalls," better, in other words, to err on the side of doing too little.

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Arlen Specter isn't waiting for Pat Toomey, the former GOP Congressman who nearly defeated him in the 2004 primary, to officially enter the race this time -- he's already going on the air with an attack ad.

The ad blasts Toomey as a credit-default swap trader who favored less oversight of Wall St. and putting Social Security in the stock market, and now wants a "bonus" in the form of a U.S. Senate seat:



Toomey has said he's "very likely" to run, but hasn't officially launched his campaign. That said, he's been speaking to conservative activists -- even appearing with Joe The Plumber against the Employee Free Choice Act -- and a candidacy really appears to be a foregone conclusion. So Specter isn't waiting.

The DSCC is moving out a new publicity push in the never-ending Minnesota Senate race, with a new Web petition: "It's time to give it up, Norm."



(Click image to enlarge.)

The DSCC has also sent out an e-mail promoting the petition to its supporter list, authored by Paul Begala:

But Norm Coleman didn't like that result, so he took it to court. And now when even his own lawyers are predicting he'll lose, Coleman's threatening to keep appealing to more and more courts.

How many more recounts does Norm Coleman want? How many more delays? How much longer will the Republican Party hold Minnesota's Senate seat hostage?

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