TPM News

The Washington Post reports today that, during 2005, Dick Cheney sat in on several of those CIA torture briefings, in an effort to persuade wavering lawmakers to keep backing the torture program.

The news doesn't really come as a shock -- indeed, some close observers had already guessed that the then-veep was involved in the briefings. But it does add to the picture of Cheney embarking during the middle years of the Bush administration on a focused, stealthy campaign to make sure the US didn't give up what he saw as its right to torture.

Read More →

The GOP seems to be consolidating around a message of contrition for calling Sonia Sotomayor a racist, recognizing just how politically self-defeating it's been -- even if the retractions aren't exactly genuine.

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) spoke to CNN's Dana Bash, who asked him about the alleged walk-back by Newt Gingrich:



"I'm very glad he backed off. I think that's unusual, that commentators do that, and I think it was very good that he did," said Sessions. "I think that will help - help us. I think that will help us have a real good discussion about the serious issues that the nation faces and that the court faces. And there's some disagreements about that."

The thing is, as I've pointed out, Gingrich is very clearly not backing off, if one simply reads his new post beyond the first few paragraphs. Instead, he's talking out of both sides of his mouth by saying he shouldn't have called Sotomayor a racist -- and then haranguing her for making decisions based on race, and repeating this refrain: "You Read, You Decide."

In April, my colleague Zack Roth described Pat Buchanan as Washington's "crazy political uncle"--the guy who the establishment indulges, and even enjoys, despite a oeuvre that runs the gamut from aspersions on "New York Jewish money" to a rousing defense of the South Carolinian wise men who raised a confederate flag over the state capitol.

In order to get away with it though, his enablers have to overlook much of the work he does in the extremely right wing magazine Human Events. That's where "crazy Uncle Pat" often turns nasty.

"In her world," Buchanan wrote yesterday of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, "equal justice takes a back seat to tribal justice."

Read More →

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that an interesting name has popped up among the people being speculated about as Republican candidates for governor of Minnesota, now that incumbent Republican Tim Pawlenty isn't running again: Former U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman -- the man who is still litigating his defeat against Al Franken in the photo-finish 2008 Senate race.

David Strom, a senior fellow at the state's conservative Minnesota Free Market Institute think tank, seemed to take the idea seriously and said that running for governor could be an "attractive prospect" for Coleman. If Norm Coleman had not come out ahead on the first [vote tally] ... I think the political fallout would have been quite significant," said Strom -- but since Coleman had at some point been seen as the likely winner, he could potentially be able to salvage the situation.

If this sounds absurd, consider just how many phases this man has had in his political life. In college, he was a left-wing campus radical. He went on to become a liberal Democratic politician -- then became a Republican, and lost the 1998 gubernatorial race to a pro-wrestler. He came back in 2002, by getting elected to the Senate over Walter Mondale after the death of Paul Wellstone. And if his lawsuit against the Senate election results proves nothing else, it shows just how persistent he has always been.

Read More →

The group Keystone Progress will have it's eye on Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA). Today, the online progressive network launched Specter Scorecard, with two key purposes. One is forward looking: "We'll keep you informed about key upcoming votes where Sen. Specter's vote will be vital to the success of the progressive position. We'll give you accurate information about the issue and we'll provide you with the opportunity to take action to help persuade Arlen to do the right thing."

And the other, a bit retrospective "We'll let you know how Sen. Specter has voted on important progressive issues since he made the switch. We'll display his 'progressive batting average' and keep it updated when he takes votes on those issues." Right now, based on his vote for the confirmation of Kathleen Sebelius and his vote against the 2010 budget, Specter's batting .500.

"We decided to create this page because on almost every issue we are working on at the federal level, Senator Specter was a key vote," said Michael Morrill, the Executive Director of Keystone Progress. "We thought it would be fun and informative to put all of the issues in one place."

In a sign that the Republican Party's right wing could now be attempting to walk back the over-the-top rhetoric that has been used against Sonia Sotomayor, Newt Gingrich has put up a new post on his Web site saying he shouldn't have called her a racist -- and then proceeds to go into detail about how she's a racist!

"The word 'racist' should not have been applied to Judge Sotomayor as a person," Gingrich says, "even if her words themselves are unacceptable (a fact which both President Obama and his Press Secretary, Robert Gibbs, have since admitted)."

Then he goes into all sorts of details about the "wise Latina" comment, the intricacies of the New Haven firefighters case, and other objections he has to Sotomayor. At each juncture, he borrows a line from Fox News: "You Read, You Decide."

Read More →

Obama Visiting Muslim World; Bin Laden Puts Out New Message Against Him President Obama has arrived in Saudi Arabia for a multi-nation tour in the Arab world, most notably including a speech addressed to all Muslims tomorrow in Egypt. And just in time for Obama's arrival, Osama bin Laden has released a new recording, saying Obama was following in the steps of George W. Bush, and planting the seeds for "revenge and hatred."

Obama's Day: Saudi Arabia President Obama arrived this morning in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. At 8:10 a.m. ET, he attended a welcome reception with King Abdullah at the King's farm. At 9:20 a.m. ET, he will hold a bilateral meeting with King Abdullah.

Read More →

Did George W. Bush really summon his African-American secretary of state for a lesson on junior-high-level racial politics?

So reports Newsweek's Richard Wolffe in his new book on Obama, Renegade: The Making Of A President.

Bush found himself perplexed by the flap over Joe Biden describing Obama as "articulate and bright and clean" in January 2007. So, naturally, the president turned to the top U.S. diplomat, the trusted Condi Rice, to explain what the heck this was all about.

Here's the tidbit from the first chapter of Wolffe's book:

Read More →

President Obama disembarks Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base.

White House

Senior advisors Valerie Jarrett and David Axelrod read the Quarterly Report of the American Recovery and Investment Act of 2009 in the Oval Office.

White House

President Obama watches his daughter Sasha play soccer.

White House

President Obama at the Arizona State University commencement ceremony on May 13.

White House



White House



White House

President Obama talks with Dr. Michael Crow, president of Arizona State University, before giving the school's commencement address on May 13.

White House

President Obama chest-bumps a new graduate at the U.S. Naval Academy commencement ceremony on May 22.

White House

Personal aide Reggie Love fist-bumps a White House staffer.

White House



White House

President Obama exchanges a handshake with New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson.

White House

President Obama and Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) outside the Oval Office.

White House

President Obama and senior advisors talk in the Rose Garden.
White House

President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

White House



White House



White House

Press secretary Robert Gibbs and senior advisor David Axelrod outside the Oval Office.

White House

The Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers fill care packages for distribution by the USO with President Obama and Senator Arlen Specter (D-PA).

White House

Katie Johnson, President Obama's personal secretary, collects documents in the Oval Office.

White House

President Barack Obama, receptionist Darienne Page, and Vice President Joe Biden outside the Oval Office.

White House

President Obama with press secretary Robert Gibbs.

White House

President Obama with Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY).

White House



White House

President Obama walks with members of the Democratic House leadership.

White House

President Obama with Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Oval Office.

White House

A Guantanamo detainee has died in what the military are calling an "apparent suicide" -- and civil liberties groups are calling for action.

Guards found 31-year-old Muhammad Ahmad Abdallah Salih, known as Al-Hanashi, unresponsive and not breathing in his cell Monday night, U.S. military officials announced, according to the AP.

Read More →

TPMLivewire