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Rep. Peter King (R-NY) is quite up in arms about the investigation of CIA interrogation techniques, airing his objections in an interview with the Politico. Indeed, he wonders which side the Obama administration is on:

"It's bulls***. It's disgraceful. You wonder which side they're on," he said of the Attorney General's move, which he described as a "declaration of war against the CIA, and against common sense."

...

"You're talking about threatening to kill a guy, threatening to attack his family, threatening to use an electric drill on him - but never doing it," King said. "You have that on the one hand - and on the other you have the [interrogator's] attempt to prevent thousands of Americans from being killed."

"When Holder was talking about being 'shocked' [before the report's release], I thought they were going to have cutting guys' fingers off or something - or that they actually used the power drill," he said.


King also asked this question: "Why is it OK to waterboard someone, which causes physical pain, but not threaten someone and not cause pain?"

And as we all know, it's okay to waterboard someone, since that has not in any way been the subject of arguments or controversy.

If we're going to have a discussion about torture and the CIA memos -- and it's not at all clear that we are -- it's worth reporting the positions of the interlocutors accurately.

Unfortunately, Politico today fell into a semantic trap set by Dick Cheney in his response to the declassification of the memos, which Cheney himself had sought.

Here's what Cheney said in a statement:

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How much chance does health care reform have in Arkansas if Arkansans trust Rush Limbaugh more than Barack Obama?

The new survey of Arkansas from Public Policy Polling (D) finds the state to be very conservative, very Birtherist, and very much opposed to President Obama on health care -- despite the fact that the state's Democrats are typically dominant and hold all major offices right now.

Only 40% approve of President Obama's job performance, with 56% disapproving -- matching up pretty closely with John McCain's 59%-39% victory here in 2008. In addition, only 45% say Obama was born in the United States, with a strong 31% saying he was not, and 24% unsure. Among Republicans in Arkansas, the Birther question comes up as 23%-49%-28%.

On health care, only 29% support Obama's plan, with 60% against it. In addition, respondents were asked whether Rush Limbaugh or Barack Obama has the better vision for America: Limbaugh 55%, Obama 45%. And keep in mind that this is a state where Dems have both Senate seats and three out of four House members

Statistics like this can have a real impact on politics. From the pollster's analysis: "These numbers, taken together, show why Blanche Lincoln's Senate seat is becoming an enticing target for Republicans in spite of their candidate recruitment issues," said Dean Debnam, President of Public Policy Polling. "There are few states that have an electorate more conservative than Arkansas' and if the GOP can effectively nationalize the race it'll be close."

Creigh Deeds, the Democratic nominee for Governor of Virginia, has a new radio ad using audio of President Obama at a campaign rally for him a few weeks ago, targeted at black radio media markets.

To listen to the ad, click here.

Recent polling has shown that Deeds is having a big problem from Democratic-leaning voters being less motivated and less likely to vote, which is contributing to his deficit against Republican nominee Bob McDonnell. For example, the recent survey from Public Policy Polling (D) had African-Americans making up only 16% of respondents, compared to 20% in the 2008 exit poll, when Barack Obama carried the state.

As such, an appeal to the Democratic base could make some sense, to get some of those voters re-energized. The question for Deeds is whether it will work sufficiently, and if he can successfully mobilize other Democrats and swing voters in time for November.

As hope wanes that Congress will be able to reach a bipartisan health care reform compromise, key figures have slowly trickled forward to endorse, or at least nod at, the idea that Democrats should pass health care reform on their own, and the man leading the push appears to be Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY)

But is he having an impact behind the scenes?

The media began focusing on the issue a week ago after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's spokesman Jim Manley announced that Democrats were committed to passing a bill "by any legislative means necessary." But two weeks before that, Schumer surprised some colleagues by declaring, on a conference call with reporters, that Democrats "will have contingencies in place" in the event that bipartisan negotiations go nowhere.

He was referring to budget reconciliation legislation, which can not be filibustered, and can in theory be used to pass certain health care reforms.

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It's hardly news that Dick Cheney isn't likely to win any prizes for honesty any time soon. But yesterday offered yet another exhibit in the case.

During the debate over torture this spring, Cheney claimed that CIA memos, which he had asked to be declassified, would prove that torture proved effective in obtaining actionable intelligence.

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Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) made an interesting appeal to conservative activists last week on a telephone town hall hosted by the conservative Susan B. Anthony List, the Minnesota Independent reports: To help stop the Democrats' health care bill, through the power of fasting and intercessionary prayer.

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."

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Jumping feet first onto the newest the-government-will-kill-you bandwagon is RNC chairman Michael Steele, who said on Fox today that a Veterans Affairs manual is "encouraging them [veterans] to commit suicide."

"I mean, this is crazy coming from the government, and this is exactly what concerns people and puts them in fear of what the government control of health care will look like," Steele said.

Steele was talking about what's been called the "death book," a VA pamphlet on setting up advance directives such as living wills. Starting with an op-ed last Tuesday written by George W. Bush's "faith czar," Jim Towey, conservative media has been swarming over claims that the pamphlet encourages disabled veterans to evaluate whether they're a "burden" to their families, in effect telling them to commit suicide.



"Just look at the situation with our veterans, when you have a manual out there telling our veterans stuff like, 'are you really of value to your community,' you know, encouraging them to commit suicide," Steele said today.

The pamphlet, of course, does nothing of the sort.

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Tuesday morning, President Obama nominated Ben Bernanke for second term as chairman of the Federal Reserve. Here is a transcript of their comments, as released by the White House:

THE PRESIDENT: Good morning, everybody. I apologize for interrupting the relaxing that I told all of you to do, but I have an important announcement to make concerning the Federal Reserve.

The man next to me, Ben Bernanke, has led the Fed through one of the worst financial crises that this nation and the world has ever faced. As an expert on the causes of the Great Depression, I'm sure Ben never imagined that he would be part of a team responsible for preventing another. But because of his background, his temperament, his courage, and his creativity, that's exactly what he has helped to achieve. And that is why I am re-appointing him to another term as Chairman of the Federal Reserve.

Ben approached a financial system on the verge of collapse with calm and wisdom; with bold action and out-of-the-box thinking that has helped put the brakes on our economic freefall. Almost none of the decisions that he or any of us made have been easy. The actions we've taken to stabilize our financial system, to repair our credit markets, restructure our auto industry, and pass a recovery package have all been steps of necessity, not choice. They've faced plenty of critics, some of whom argued that we should stay the course or do nothing at all. But taken together, this "bold, persistent experimentation" has brought our economy back from the brink. They're steps that are working. Our recovery plan has put tax cuts in people's pockets, extended health care and unemployment insurance to those who have borne the brunt of this recession, and is continuing to save and create jobs that otherwise would have been lost. Our auto industry is showing signs of life. Business investment is showing signs of stabilizing. Our housing market and credit markets have been saved from collapse.

Of course, as I've said before, we are a long way away from completely healthy financial systems and a full economic recovery. And I will not let up until those Americans who are looking for jobs can find them; until qualified businesses, large and small, who need capital to grow can find loans at a rate they can afford; and until all responsible mortgage-holders can stay in their homes. That's why we need Ben Bernanke to continue the work he's doing, and that's why I've said that we cannot go back to an economy based on overleveraged banks, inflated profits, and maxed-out credit cards.

For even as we've taken steps to rescue our financial system and our economy, we must now work to rebuild a new foundation for growth and prosperity. We have to build an economy that works for every American, and one that leads the world in innovation, in investments, and in experts -- exports.

Part of that foundation has to be a financial regulatory system that ensures we never face a crisis like this again. We've already seen how lax enforcement and weak regulation can lead to enormous wealth for a few and enormous pain for everybody else. And that's why even though there is some resistance on Wall Street from those who would prefer to keep things the way they are, we will pass the reforms necessary to protect consumers, investors, and the entire financial system. And we will continue to maintain a strong and independent Federal Reserve.

We will also keep working towards the reform of a health insurance system whose costs and discriminatory practices are bankrupting our families, our businesses, and our government. We will continue to build a clean energy economy that creates the jobs and industries of the future within our borders. And we will give our children and our workers the skills and training they need to compete for these jobs in the 21st century.

Much like the decisions we've made so far, the steps we take to build this new foundation will not be easy. Change never is. As Ben and I both know, it comes with debate and disagreement and resistance from those who prefer the status quo. And that's all right, because that's how democracy is supposed to work. But no matter how difficult change is, we will pursue it relentlessly because it is absolutely necessary to lift this country up and create an economy that leads to good jobs, broad growth, and a future our children can count on. That's what we're here to do, and that's what we will continue to do in the months ahead. So I want to congratulate Ben on the work that he's done so far, wish him continued success in the hard work that he has before him. Thank you so much, Ben.

CHAIRMAN BERNANKE: Thank you, Mr. President. I'd like to express my gratitude to President Obama for the confidence he's shown in me with this nomination, and for his unwavering support for a strong and independent Federal Reserve.

It has been a particular privilege for me to serve with the extraordinary colleagues throughout the Federal Reserve System. They have demonstrated remarkable resourcefulness, dedication, and stamina under trying conditions. Through the long nights and weekends and the time away from their families, they have never lost sight of the critical importance of the work of the Fed for the economic well-being of all Americans. I am deeply grateful for their efforts.

I especially want to thank my own family -- my wife Anna and our children, Joel and Alyssa. Without their support and sacrifice, I could not undertake this task.

The Federal Reserve, like other economic policymakers, has been challenged by the unprecedented events of the past few years. We have been bold or deliberate as circumstances demanded, but our objective remains constant: to restore a more stable financial and economic environment in which opportunity can again flourish and in which Americans' hard work and creativity can receive their proper rewards.

Mr. President, I commit today to you and to the American people that, if confirmed by the Senate, I will work to the utmost of my abilities -- with my colleagues at the Federal Reserve and alongside the Congress and the administration -- to help provide a solid foundation for growth and prosperity in an environment of price stability.

Thank you, sir.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Great job.

CHAIRMAN BERNANKE: Thank you.

The White House Office of Management and Budget released a fact sheet about today's budget projections: • The Mid-Session Review updates the Administration's economic forecast and budget projections. These new forecasts are based on new data that reflect how severe the economic downturn was in the late fall of 2008 and first half of this year. Our economic assumptions are in line with other major forecasters that put out reports over the past few months, and our budget projections are in line with the March projections from the Congressional Budget Office. • These new numbers show how important it was to rescue the economy with aggressive action and invest in ways to get the economy moving again. In fact, our efforts to stabilize the financial sector have meant that we do not need a placeholder for further financial stabilization efforts or make more FDIC payments to protect depositors at failed banks - which are the primary reason why the size of this year's deficit has fallen by almost $262 billion or about 1.7 percent of GDP. o The 2009 deficit is now projected to be $1.58 trillion--or 11.2 percent of GDP - down from $1.841 trillion or 12.9 percent of GDP. • The out-year deficit numbers are larger than forecast in the February budget, primarily due to changes in economic assumptions. In line with the current consensus among professional forecasters, the Administration's economic projections show that we have inherited a deeper recession than understood in February. o For example, in January 2009, data at the time suggested that the economy in the third quarter of 2008 had declined by 0.5 percent. Revised data now suggest it actually had declined by 2.7 percent. o Also, certain spending programs, such as unemployment insurance and food stamps, automatically increase and revenues automatically decline as a result of a deeper-than-expected recession. Although this helps to ameliorate the economic downturn by stimulating demand, it also leads to higher medium-term deficits. Over the next 10 years, these "automatic stabilizers" and technical adjustments are projected to add $2 trillion to the deficits, relative to our last projection based on February's economic assumptions. o In addition, the failure of past administrations to follow PAYGO rules has had a direct effect on our fiscal situation. If we had abided by this approach during the previous Administration, the projected 10-year deficit would be $5 trillion smaller. In other words, more than half of the projected deficits over the next 10 years are directly attributable to the previous Administration's failure to follow the pay-as-you-go principle. o This brings the total 10-year deficit from 2010 to 2019 to $9.051 trillion--in line with CBO's June projection. The out-year deficits hover in the range of 4 percent of GDP, which is higher than desirable. It is worth noting, however, that by 2019, the difference between non- interest spending and revenue, which is also known as the "primary deficit," is only 0.6 percent of GDP. Interest payments, which almost entirely represent the cost of the debt accumulated by past administrations and the need to run short-run deficits to help the economy recover from the worst downturn since the Great Depression, are 3.4 percent of GDP by 2019. • Our revised economic forecast continues to project that the recession will end in the second half of 2009. This is the consensus of private forecasters as well: 94 percent of those forecasters surveyed in the July Blue Chip Projection believe the recession will end at the end of the year. While this is encouraging news, the President will not be pleased until we start creating more jobs than we're losing, get Americans back to work, and build a new foundation for long-term economic growth. • The Administration is very concerned about these out-year deficits. Getting the long-term deficit trajectory under control is a top priority of the Administration. We are in the midst of the policy process surrounding the FY 2011 budget, and that process will include proposals to put the nation on a fiscally sustainable path.

TPMLivewire