Mister Holder Regrets

Slippery slopes are fun!America loves a Redemption story. And Eric Holder was poised to provide one, upon his nomination for attorney general.

The soundbite we’re hearing again from January is the obvious one: “Waterboarding is torture.” But we’re not hearing the backstory of his selection, and what it may bring to bear on his decision whether to enforce the law of the land.

You’ll recall that Holder’s previous claim to fame was signing off on Bubba’s infamous midnight pardon of fugitive billionaire Marc Rich (tax fraud), whose ex-wife coincidentally donated more than $1.65 million to the Clinton library, Hillary’s original Senate campaign, and the Democratic Party. The appeal bypassed conventional Justice procedures.

Oh, and Holder had also asked Rich’s lawyer for help becoming AG if Al Gore was elected. Which sounds odd until you learn that Rich’s lawyer was Jack Quinn, a former White House counsel.

(Odder still: Rich was originally indicted by Rudy Giuliani. And “foreign leaders from Spain, Israel and elsewhere” pitched the pardon to the Clinton White House. But life is short.)

Back in 2001, Holder claimed a precursor of the “I don’t recall” defense, saying he was too rushed with end-of-term finals to pay close attention to the details. But at his January confirmation hearing, he manned up:

I’ve learned from that experience. I think that, as perverse as this might sound, I will be a better attorney general, should I be confirmed, having had the Marc Rich experience. … I take what I did seriously, and I’ve expressed regret for what I did consistently.

All well and good. Eric Holder now has an opportunity to redeem himself and turn Marc Rich into a footnote. But the story’s not complete until we see whether he investigates the war crimes of his predecessors — despite the waffling of his boss — and indicts where the facts merit. You don’t get the happy ending without heroic action.

And while we’re holding folks to their word, let’s also applaud Senator John Cornyn of Texas, who said after Holder’s committee approval, “I am left with remaining doubt about his political independence.” Cornyn, a stalwart defender of the rule of law, said Tuesday about the torture memos, “I don’t believe that we ought to be looking backward and point the finger of blame.”

AG Holder hit from both sides over Bush-era memos [CNN]

“I think it’s a terrible idea,” Cornyn said. “These were novel legal questions during a time of great danger to our country, and I don’t believe that we ought to be looking backward and point the finger of blame. What we ought to do is look forward.”

Novel legal questions? Tell that to the Japanese waterboarders who did 15 years hard labor. Cornyn is a disingenuous shitbag.

I honestly wonder what would happen if the proud defenders of torture were tortured?

Would they last one, two, five or 12 seconds before changing their minds on the subject?

Just for the record, I don’t think I could last much longer either. Maybe 10 seconds tops. But then again, I don’t advocate torture as national policy.

@ManchuCandidate: Oh, I am sure they’d come right away.

@Prommie: I have to be in Cape May on the 23rd. That anywhere near Bistro de Prom?

A co-worker here suggests that I worship the ground that Black Eagle walks on. Not true, really. The difference is that I think he’s much better than what we could have had.

Exhibit A: the toon that ran in the Tribune this morning, imported from (hoo boy) Investor’s Business Daily, linked here. Made my head ‘splode, it did.

Hopey is not Jeebus. There is no disputing that. But Michael Ramirez needs some quality time in a rubber room for that piece of drivel (which of course is not out of character given his portfolio and that of the Ed Board of the IBD).

@chicago bureau: Ugh.

As before noted, Hopey is nothing like as liberal as I would have liked but he’s got a head on his shoulders and, as we’re seeing by his handling of the torture memos, knows what is possible. On the one hand he won’t prosecute, on the other he is making them release the memos and soon more pics. It’s not what it should be but it might be the best we can get without going into a full-scale melt-down of federal government at a time when we need many things. And can anyone seriously envisage a former president or vice-p serving time? Can you really imagine a world in which that is possible? The best we could ever hope for was to get them out of office with reputations destroyed so they can do no more damage.

@Benedick: The Jersey Shore is easily navigated, it is defined by the exit numbers of the Garden State Parkway, which runs down the length of the state.

The Parkway starts in Cape May, at mile “0.” Each exit is numbered by the mile marker nearest. Atlantic City is at mile 38, and I am at mile 63.

So, its 60 miles distant from Cape May, but odds are you will pass within 5 miles of Island Fusion on your way there or back.

Of course I would be pleased and honored to have you stop by.

@Benedick: Isn’t it sad that this place is so broken that we feel we have to choose between fixing a very broken health care system that’s bankrupting our citizens and leaving them sick or dying and honoring the rule of law and justice, not to mention attempting to salvage our worldwide reputation, by prosecuting torturers and those who sactioned it?

@flippin eck: What’s really sad is that we probably will end up doing neither. But maybe we can keep taxes low for the wealthiest 5% of our citizens. Our only hope is that the Repubs take the fast track to destroying each other so we can get a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. Have you seen what they’re doing to Sebelius?

Mistress Cynica: No. What is truly, impossibly sad is that this is as good as the Senate is going to get.

I’m bearish on getting any closer to a solid, Joementum-free, weak-ass-standard-issue-Democrat-free, filibuster-proof majority than we are now. If I had to guess — massive influx of teabaggers and thumpers who really, really should know better by now causes a net +2 for the GOP in 2010. Please remember that this is the Democratic Party we are talking about here — they can screw anything up if they put effort into it.

This viewpoint was reached by me because I am an incurable pessimist.

@Prommie: Meet-up at Café Prom, May 23rd-ish? Jr. likes the pictures he’s seen of the boat, if you can promise no Finger of God tornadoes.

@blogenfreude: “Novel legal questions”? WTF?! Did Yoo & Bybee’s version of Westlaw not include the Nuremberg Trials?

Reading these torture memos is like reading Dr. Mengele’s journals – stunning in their banality.

@SanFranLefty: Westlaw? Ha. You slay me sister. There is no wi-fi up their asses.

DEVELOPING [YAWN]: Minnesoda Supreme Court argument on Coleman/Cornyn/Entire Freaking Republican Establishment v Franken for June 1. Which means that the written opinion will not be issued for another week or two after that. Which means that a cert petition might not get ruled on until October. Christ.

More DEVELOPING [YAWN]: Keef to Hannity — $1k for every second of your waterboarding experience.

I only saw this in passing yesterday, flipping habitually through the dial like any other good red-blooded American male teevee watcher. I was a bit nonplussed, to be honest. Good calling of bluff? Self-promotional cheese? Holier-than-thouism? Or would all of the questioning of whether this was a good thing to pay for melt into WE MAY GET TO WATERBOARD HANNITY GOOD GOD LET’S DO IT NOW!

You can have KO, frankly. It was the first time I watched in a month or so — haven’t missed much, really.

@chicago bureau: You can have KO, frankly. I’ve been tuning in because of some of the guests he’s been interviewing, but find both Rachel and Keef to be far too smirky and self-serving since the election. Problem is that there really is no other televised news on at that hour (I watch the 10 pm ET repeat), and Andy Cooper is far less entertaining.

*gets late-breaking news feed in earpiece*
What’s that, you say there are other television options? Or that I could turn it off entirely and either read, talk or go to bed? Hmm…

@chicago bureau: I wouldn’t bother to watch Keef at 7 or 8, but on the Left Coast the 5-7 Keef-Rachel tag team makes for nice dinner noise.

Then again, truth be told, I wouldn’t watch either if I didn’t have a daily responsbility to make sure I’m not missing something incredibly obvious.

And while I’m there: Could David Shuster please go away?

@Nabisco: Daily schedule:


Granted, Sandy Eggo has one of the few surviving all-jazz stations in the country. But these days they also stream online.

@Nabisco: Okay, one more…

I want Keef to be smirky — he’s a news entertainer, and I enjoy the shtick. It’s only when Shuster tries it that I feel like abusing small furry creatures.

And Rachel — maybe she’s better at it or toned it down, or I’ve just grown used to it, but it doesn’t bother me like it did initially. And usually I’m napping before Kent Jones disturbs my chi.

@nojo: Oh yeah, Shuster is terrible. The wife groans when we tune in and he’s guesting. At least Keef can mostly get away with the mafia pinstripes and the pink tie.

Don’t get me started on Kent Jones. They’ve even amped up his intro, but beyond that Rachel has tacked on that silly “cocktail moment” thing, and last night they tried to do comedy for godsakes. Having that guy talk about the new Yankees stadium is like, well, me asking you to talk about the Three Stooges. Not happening, amarite?

I know that Rachel gets great guests and has good interviewing skills, but I guess it’s because we don’t tune in until the end – the Kent Jones part – that I’ve grown weary of the whole thing.

So I just called my WA reps (Rep. McDermott, Sens. Murray & Cantwell) to ask them to investigate and support the prosecution of the torturers.

I also asked their staffs if they could add something like “Crimes Committed by the United States” to the drop down boxes on the online contact forms on their websites. It’d sure make my life easier. (And it’d fit in nicely between “Consumer Protection Issues” and “Defense and Military.”)

I also left a message for Attorney General Holder at (202) 353-1555 asking him to stop obstructing justice and follow US and International Law.

I called President Obama at (202) 456-1111 and left the same message. Hope it helps.

@Benedick: And can anyone seriously envisage a former president or vice-p serving time?

Well, there are plenty of other former nation-leaders currently serving time for war crimes and such. I seem to recall a recent prosecution of someone from Liberiastan by this here United States. But then, they’re furr’ners. So I guess, NO.

@Original Andrew: Hope it helps.

I am certain it will. Politicians live to do the will of their constituents.

@chicago bureau: I’m with you bra.

@Nabisco: I like Kent Jones because he was Rachel’s sidekick on her radio show until Air America made her downsize him for budgetary reasons, so I guess him being on her tv show is like a fuck you to the boss clowns at the radio gig. They used to do a “pet story” at the end of the show that wasn’t necessarily about pets, just something strange to go out on.

I’m just kind of chillin on the tv news, especially now that I’m working more at home in the evenings. I am reading more, mixing in the bbc, nyt, HuffPo, TPM, all that shit, plus the danger room national security blog, io9, local papers, indianz.com and local politics . I do most of my evening reading online on the treadmill at home.

Going to help clean irrigation ditches with the homies tomorrow, then get in a little fishing on the way back to Santa Fe on the Rio Grande. I hear the spring caddis hatch is on. Awesome, awesome, awesome fishing it you hit it right. I was out one day when it looked like it was snowing out of the water. Even when it’s not totally on, the feesh are still active. Gotta get a new license. With all the various tags and shit (federal lands, small game, turkey) it can really add up.

Sully and I have Cole Porter on our minds. Our Noël Coward torture revue is currently in out-of-town tryouts.

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