Steve Benen

GOP Lawmakers Accuse Holder of Being a Terrorist Sympathizer

ENOUGH TO MAKE AN ATTORNEY GENERAL LAUGH.... Attorney General Eric Holder talked to the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday, primarily about the decision to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his alleged co-conspirators in federal court. It didn't go especially well -- Republicans on the panel didn't seem persuaded -- but Dahlia Lithwick highlighted the most troubling aspect of the Q&A.

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National Review Writers Reach Glenn Beck Levels of Absurdity

THE BLURRED LINES.... If you missed it, the National Review's Michael Ledeen had a rather remarkable item the other day, which speaks to a larger truth.

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Time for Biden to Twist Some Arms on Health Reform

CALLING ON BIDEN.... In theory, one of the advantages of having a president move from the Senate to the White House is his/her ability to leverage a legislative career to advance his/her agenda. That doesn't work quite the same way with President Obama -- he came from the Senate, but he wasn't actually of the Senate. Members include his former colleagues, but Obama doesn't necessarily have long-standing bonds that he can use to his advantage now.

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McCain Campaign Inadvertently Stirs Nerd Army


When the McCain campaign unveiled its now-infamous Spears/Hilton ad, the NYT's editorial board, like every other sensible political observer, criticized it. Michael Goldfarb, McCain's official in-house blogger, responded by comparing the Times' editors to "the average Daily Kos diarist sitting at home in his mother's basement and ranting into the ether between games of Dungeons & Dragons."

This week, after questions arose about the veracity of a McCain anecdote from his days as a prisoner of war, Goldfarb went back to the well.
It may be typical of the pro-Obama Dungeons & Dragons crowd to disparage a fellow countryman's memory of war from the comfort of mom's basement, but most Americans have the humility and gratitude to respect and learn from the memories of men who suffered on behalf of others.

After the first insulting comment, Goldfarb backed away, while sticking to the vernacular: "If my comments caused any harm or hurt to the hard working Americans who play Dungeons & Dragons, I apologize. This campaign is committed to increasing the strength, constitution, dexterity, intelligence, wisdom, and charisma scores of every American."

This led my friend Adam Serwer to raise an excellent point:

Why are Corporate Media Giving Fat Paychecks to Former Bush Aides?


I’m not surprised Dan Bartlett is going to one of the networks; I’m surprised Dan Bartlett didn’t go to one of the networks sooner. (via TP)
Former Counselor to President Bush, Dan Bartlett, has joined CBS News as a political analyst. Bartlett will provide on-air analysis on a variety of political issues, “including at the Democratic and Republican National Conventions and beyond,” according to the press release.
Said CBS News & Sports president Sean McManus, “We’re very pleased to have Dan Bartlett join our team. We now go into the final stages of this fascinating political season with two analysts — Dan and Joe [Trippi] — who have had unique and extensive hands-on experience in major political campaigns and government.”
This is the latest part of a strange phenomenon of rewarding the Bush gang with high-profile opportunities at major media outlets. The Bush White House has been, for lack of a better word, a disaster for the country. From a journalistic perspective, these guys have been a nightmare — embracing almost comical levels of secrecy, propaganda, and media manipulation.


And yet, the moment presidential aides leave the West Wing, media outlets jump at the chance to put them on the payroll:

More McCain Plagiarism?


In December, when most of the leading presidential candidates were releasing holiday-themed ads, John McCain -- who's "reluctant" to talk about his service during Vietnam -- was able to combine two messages in a single campaign commercial: "One night, after being mistreated as a POW, a guard loosened the ropes binding me, easing my pain. On Christmas, that same guard approached me, and without saying a word, he drew a cross in the sand. We stood wordlessly looking at the cross, remembering the true light of Christmas."

It's a story McCain has not only put in his ads, but has also repeated for several years, including over the weekend, at the forum at Rick Warren's Saddleback Church.

Yesterday, however, questions arose about its veracity:

Corporate Media Get Another Injection of Conservative Commentators

CNN continues to add to its team of political commentators, and announced five new members of the team yesterday. Atrios posted the press release, which touted the network adding "five more top political reporters and commentators to its deep bench of political contributors and analysts."

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Group Headed by James Dobson Asks Christians to Pray for Rain at Obama Speech

As reported here over the weekend, James Dobson's Focus on the Family employs Stuart Shepard to make short, "clever" religious-right videos for the evangelical powerhouse. Shepard creates these videos regularly, and most of them are entirely forgettable.

Last week, however, Focus unveiled a new video, asking politically-conservative Christians to pray for rain on Aug. 28, in order to disrupt Barack Obama's speech at the Democratic National Convention.

Shepard called for "abundant rain, torrential rain ... flood-advisory rain." He adds, "I'm talking about umbrella-ain't-gonna-help-you rain ... swamp-the-intersections rain." Explaining why he wants everyone to pray for rain, Shepard explains, without a hint of humor, "I'm still pro-life, and I'm still in favor or marriage being between one man and one woman. And I would like the next president who will select justices for the next Supreme Court to agree."

In other words, Obama disagrees with the religious right on culture-war issues, so Focus on the Family wants God to smite Obama with rain. Got it.

Republican Lawmaker Wants Environmentalists to Know Jesus Has Already Saved the Planet

For a few months, I've been corresponding with a friend and regular reader, "Zeitgeist," who insists that Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) is, without a doubt, the single craziest member of the House of Representatives. I usually respond by pointing to Rep. Michele Bachmann, the infamous Minnesota Republican.

Given recent events, King is really going to have to pick up his game -- because Bachmann keeps getting further and further out there.

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McCain is Losing Veterans

A couple of months ago, Time magazine posed the question: "Does McCain Have a Vets Problem?" The question hardly fits into the existing media narrative -- John McCain is a decorated veteran of the Vietnam War. He shouldn't, the argument goes, have any trouble winning over the support of other veterans.

But the narrative is incomplete, to put it mildly. Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America gave McCain a grade of D for his record of voting against veterans (Obama got a B+), while the Disabled Veterans of America gave McCain a 20% vote rating. The Vietnam Veterans of America compiled a list of key votes, and found McCain voted against the group's position 15 times and with the group eight times. (Obama, in contrast, voted with the VVA 12 times, and against it only once.)

With that in mind, when McCain went to Las Vegas over the weekend to speak to the Disabled American Veterans, perhaps it shouldn't have been too big a surprise that the presumptive Republican nominee received lukewarm support:

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