TPM News

Over the weekend, the New York Times reported that Justice Department lawyers agreed in 2005 that harsh interrogation techniques were legal. The impact of the story -- which was based largely on email messages written at the time by James Comey, then a high-ranking Justice Department official -- has been, it seems, to bolster the Dick Cheney position in the ongoing torture debate in Washington.

But the Times also, to its credit, released Comey's emails in full, allowing us all to make our own judgments about what they show. And after a close look at the emails, it seems clear that the paper could have used them to write a very different story -- with a very different effect on the public debate.

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Two new polls in tomorrow's Democratic primary for Governor of Virginia confirm that state Sen. Creigh Deeds now has the big momentum, charging way ahead of the previous frontrunner, former DNC chairman (and a colorful political figure if there ever was one) Terry McAuliffe.

From Public Policy Polling (D): Deeds 40%, McAuliffe 26%, and former state Del. Brian Moran 24%, with a ±3% margin of error. Last week, the numbers had been Deeds 27%, McAuliffe 24%, Moran 22%, with a ±4.1% margin of error.

And from SurveyUSA: Deeds 42%, McAuliffe 30%, Moran 21%, with a ±4.3% margin of error. Last week, the numbers had been McAuliffe 35%, Deeds 29%, Moran 26%, with a ±4.4% margin of error.

McAuliffe has led in this race for quite a while, thanks to a superior fundraising and advertising effort. Next up in the money race was Moran...and Deeds was the third man in the race. But then Moran began to attack McAuliffe, thus sullying McAuliffe but not actually benefitting himself. Deeds was the true beneficiary -- and right on time, too, with a run of positive ads and big newspaper endorsement in the home stretch.

There's no shortage of Republicans loudly proclaiming that the GOP has to get up to speed using Internet technology, particularly on blogs and the ubiquitous micro-blogging service, Twitter. This isn't necessarily the easiest thing for a party whose officeholders (and voter base) are geared heavily towards the upper age ranges -- just look at Norm Coleman's advice for the GOP to compete on the "ethernet."

But there's one 75-year old U.S. Senator whose aggressive Twittering shows that sometimes the solution can have as many complications as the problem. Fifth-term Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) not only uses his handy Blackberry to Twitter almost non-stop messages, but he's even learned to do so in a whole other language -- the online vernacular of a texting thirteen-year old.

Check out this morning's message:

My carbon footprint is abt 25per cent of Al Gore. I'm greener than Al Gore. Is that enuf?

There is something endearing about the fact that Grassley, a septuagenarian U.S. Senator and truly an elder statesman of Iowa politics, so baldly puts his whims and thoughts out there for the public at large. Quite frankly, if a staffer had done this in a Senator's name, he or she would risk getting fired. But no, the Senator himself does it.

Check out some of Grassley's greatest hits, after the jump.

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Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), who had been publicly mulling a 2010 Senate campaign for the seat formerly held by President Obama -- and currently held by Roland Burris -- has put out this YouTube, announcing that she will not be making the race, after all:

Schakowsky said that her polling and travels around the state convinced her that she could have won -- but the pressures of raising enough money would have distracted her from her work in progress on issues like health care. "I feel confident that I could raise the $10 million dollars needed for a primary race -- and the $16 million plus needed for a general election campaign," she said, "but to do it I would have to become a telemarketer five to six hours each day."

State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias is currently running in the Democratic primary, and businessman Chris Kennedy -- a son of Robert Kennedy -- is expected to get in soon. Roland Burris has not announced whether he will run.

Obama To Speed Up Stimulus Spending President Obama is set to announce today that the administration is ramping up stimulus spending this summer, with a targeted goal of saving or creating more than 600,000 jobs. "We have a long way to go on our road to recovery but we are going the right way," Obama will say, according to prepared remarks.

Obama's Day Ahead: Meeting With The Cabinet President Obama will be meeting with his Cabinet at 11:45 a.m. ET, after the morning's routine briefings with advisers. The big subject of the Cabinet meeting will be implementation of the Recovery Act, after reports over the weekend that Obama was going to ask his administration for specific goals to ramp up stimulus spending.

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Hillary: Obama Has Passed "3 a.m." Test Appearing on ABC's This Week, Sec. of State Hillary Clinton was asked whether President Obama has passed the "3 a.m." test that she raised in her famous campaign ad against him in the 2008 primaries. "Absolutely," said Clinton. "And, you know, the president in his public actions and demeanor, and certainly in private with me and with the national security team, has been strong, thoughtful, decisive, I think he is doing a terrific job. And it's an honor to serve with him."

Hillary: I Initially Rejected Sec. of State Offer Also during her This Week interview, Hillary Clinton said she'd initially turned down the offer from President Obama to be Secretary of State, thinking it was "absurd" and wanting to go back to serving New York in the Senate. "But he was quite persistent and very persuasive. And, you know, ultimately, it came down to my feeling that, number one, when your president asks you to do something for your country, you really need a good reason not to do it," said Clinton. "Number two, if I had won and I had asked him to please help me serve our country, I would have hoped he would say yes."

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Obama YouTube: Health Care Must Be Fixed In his weekly Presidential YouTube Address, President Obama discussed his proposals for health care -- and the urgency to get a new reform bill passed:

"Simply put, the status quo is broken. We cannot continue this way," said Obama. "If we do nothing, everyone's health care will be put in jeopardy. Within a decade, we'll spend one dollar out of every five we earn on health care - and we'll keep getting less for our money. That's why fixing what's wrong with our health care system is no longer a luxury we hope to achieve - it's a necessity we cannot postpone any longer."

Sessions Decries "Empathy Standard" For Judges In this weekend's Republican YouTube, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), the lead Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, discussed the pending nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court -- and warned against an "empathy standard" in law:

"I hope that the American people will engage in this nomination process and follow it closely. They should learn about the issues, and listen to both sides of the argument. And, at the end of the day, ask: 'If I must one day go to court, what kind of judge do I want to hear my case?" said Sessions. "'Do I want a judge that allows his or her social, political, or religious views to impact the outcome? Or, do I want a judge that objectively applies the law to the facts, and fairly rules on the merits?' That is the central question around which this entire nomination process will revolve."

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Over the last week, MSNBC has led the cable-news charge in covering the George Tiller murder -- and the questions it's raised about how implicated the wider anti-abortion movement is in the violence. Rachel Maddow, Keith Olbermann, and Chris Matthews have all covered the story -- Maddow with particular distinction. But until today, one MSNBC show has been conspicuous for its reluctance to touch this major story. That would be Morning Joe, hosted by Joe Scarborough.

This morning, Scarborough publicly addressed the story, for what appears to be the first time. But what he talked about was his own past ties to an anti-abortion killer. And his comments -- which seemed designed largely to minimize those ties -- appear to conflict with other reported facts about the incident.

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