OK, this really puts the nail in the coffin of any claims that those four guys arrested last night in connection with a plot to bomb two New York synagogues were some kind of highly dangerous terror cell.
Calling the men "amateurs every step of the way," the AP reports:
TPMDC's daily update on the biggest legislative initiatives on the Hill:
Climate Change: The marathon mark up of the Waxman-Markey climate change bill continued today, with at least one moment of levity as a speed reader, hired by Energy and Commerce Committee Democrats to motor through Republican delay tactics, was called before the panel to read part of an amendment. Incidentally, if you want to track changes to the bill amendment by amendment, you can do so here. The committee's work may be done as soon as tonight.
Defense Spending: The Senate invoked cloture on the supplemental war-spending bill, now bereft of funds for closing down the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. It's unclear why cloture had to be filed--the final tally was 94-1, the lone dissent being a protest vote by Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI)--but I guess if the GOP didn't insist on cloture, government might get things done quickly, and that would be dispositive of the whole philosophy of conservatism
That GOP effort to get a congressional investigation into Nancy Pelosi's claim that the CIA lied to her about torture? Looks like it didn't get too far.
The Associated Press reports that the House voted by 252-172 to block the measure, which was sponsored by Rep. Rob Bishop of Utah. Two GOPers, Ron Paul of Texas and Walter Jones of North Carolina, joined Democrats in voting against it.
When the California government decided to address his state's budget crisis by slashing pay for home health care workers, and cutting three-quarters of a billion dollars in Medi-Cal healthcare programs for the poor, the White House was furious. So was the SEIU. This is a recession, they reasoned, and those are poor and working class people. Citing the terms of the American Recovery and Reinvestment act, the Obama administration threatened to withhold $6.8 billion in federal stimulus funds unless the California legislature revoked the wage cut.
Obama "went straight for the most direct way to leverage California from the federal government," writes a source with knowledge of deliberations, "it was a big play, no question."
Earlier today, we reported that Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee have taken an extraordinary measure to combat nefarious Republican stall tactics. Faced with the possibility that the GOP minority might require the committee's clerks to read aloud the 900-page Waxman-Markey climate change bill, or many of its 400-plus proposed amendments, the committee's chairman, Henry Waxman (D-CA), hired a speed reader. A quick tongued, acting-clerk, if you will.
His services may ultimately not be necessary, but earlier today, to break the tension between battling factions, the committee's ranking member Joe Barton (R-TX) asked the "speed reader clerk" to read part of one measly little amendment. Watch:
That amendment ultimately went down in flames. The overall bill may have gained a little bit of steam today. But presumably a bunch of Capitol Hill clerks are now worried about job security.
A reader of ours who recently bought a new pistol (Yep -- liberals purchase handguns, too!) sent us this interesting flier from the National Rifle Association, which was included in the box:
(Click image to enlarge.)
Here at TPM, we wondered exactly what the NRA meant by "Prepare For The Storm." Was this some kind of dog whistle -- a hidden extremist message, such as we might see from a white supremacist group like Storm Front?
Mark Potok, director of the South Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Project, informed me that thankfully it's not a Neo-Nazi reference -- but it is batty.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has released this statement on President Obama's speech today:
"The President today reiterated the belief we both share that closing Guantanamo will make America more secure. I share his concern that we must ensure our national security needs and our Constitutional values continue to coexist, and that the rule of law must supersede politics. Senate Democrats look forward to reviewing the details of the Administration's plan when it is released, and to working with the President to keep Americans safe and bring to justice those who seek to do us harm.
"While others may spend all their time defending the mistakes of the past, I am encouraged that our President is focused squarely on the future."
New York Times reporter Elisabeth Bumiller is now casting doubt on the claim in her front page story today, pounced on by the right and quickly picked up on cable, that one in seven detainees released from Guantanamo "returned to terrorism or militant activity."
Appearing on MSNBC today, Bumiller said "there is some debate about whether you should say 'returned' because some of them were perhaps not engaged in terrorism, as we know -- some of them are being held there on vague charges."
Here's the video of her exchange with Andrea Mitchell:
Bumiller's claim is so striking because her A1 story in the print edition of the Times today, which ran under the headline, "1 In 7 Detainees Rejoined Jihad, Pentagon Finds" (emphasis ours), began: