NYT: It is extraordinary how President Bush has streamlined the Senate confirmation process. As we have seen most recently with the vote to confirm Michael Mukasey as attorney general, about all that is left of “advice and consent” is the “consent” part.
Daily Kos: In their support of Mukasey they (Schumer and Feinstein) have abandoned their role to ADVISE and (not always) CONSENT to a presidential nominee. They have abdicated their principles and capitulated to the anti-constitutional forces that would rend our system of justice in half.
NYT: Democrats offer excuses for their sorry record, starting with their razor-thin majority. But it is often said that any vote in the Senate requires more than 60 votes — enough to overcome a filibuster. So why did Mr. Mukasey get by with only 53 votes? Given the success the Republicans have had in blocking action when the Democrats cannot muster 60 votes, the main culprit appears to be the Democratic leadership, which seems uninterested in or incapable of standing up to Mr. Bush.
Glenn Greenwald: Every time Congressional Democrats failed this year to stop the Bush administration (i.e., every time they “tried”), the excuse they gave was that they “need 60 votes in the Senate” in order to get anything done. Each time Senate Republicans blocked Democratic legislation, the media helpfully explained not that Republicans were obstructing via filibuster, but rather that, in the Senate, there is a general “60-vote requirement” for everything.
The so-called “60-vote requirement” applies only when it is time to do something to limit the Bush administration. It is merely the excuse Senate Democrats use to explain away their chronic failure/unwillingness to limit the President…
NYT: It was not a difficult question. Waterboarding is specifically banned by the Army Field Manual, and it is plainly illegal under the federal Anti-Torture Act, federal assault statutes, the Detainee Treatment Act, the Convention Against Torture and the Geneva Conventions. It is hard to see how any nominee worthy of the position of attorney general could fail to answer “yes.”
The real reason the White House would not permit Mr. Mukasey to answer was the risk to federal officials who carried out Mr. Bush’s orders to abuse and torture prisoners after the 9/11 attacks: the right answer could have exposed them to criminal sanctions.
Obsidian Wings: There is an easy way for Mukasey to get around the fact that he has not been briefed on what the CIA did: just define waterboarding, say whether waterboarding so defined is torture, and add that not having been briefed on what the CIA did, he doesn’t know whether or not what they did meets his definition. That Mukasey has not taken this obvious route suggests that he is not motivated by his own uncertainty, but by the desire to keep people he believes have engaged in torture from being punished for their crimes.
NYT: The rationales that accompanied the vote in favor of Mr. Mukasey were not reassuring. The promise of a law banning waterboarding is no comfort. It is unnecessary, and even if it passes, Mr. Bush seems certain to veto it. In fact, it would play into the administration’s hands by allowing it to argue that torture is not currently illegal.
Andrew Sullivan: Schumer’s promise that the Congress will now pass a law specifically banning verschaerfte Vernehmung, to use the Gestapo’s name for the Bush-Cheney techniques, is insufficient. It presupposes that the torture techniques described are not already illegal, thus retroactively exonerating all those who authorized them. And Mukasey’s private promise to hold up such a law, if passed, presumes that the president would not then veto the bill.
NYT: We are not suggesting the Democrats reject every presidential appointee, or that the president’s preferences not be taken into account. But Democrats have done precious little to avoid the kind of spectacle the world saw last week: the Senate giving the job of attorney general, chief law enforcement officer in the world’s oldest democracy, to a man who does not even have the integrity to take a stand against torture.
Uncommon Sense: The chief law enforcement officer of this land is a man who either cannot or will not state that waterboarding is torture, and who believes the president is above the law.
And again I ask, why did we need a Democratic majority for this? We could have had this with the Republicans in charge.
Here’s some more moonbattery from NYT today:
Frank Rich: The Coup at Home. Here Frank compares the Bush Junta with what’s happening in Pakistan.
Paul Krugman: Innocent Mistakes – Rehash of moonbat talking point about Reagan.