The Cromnibus, the $1.1 trillion behemoth that will soon become the law of the land, funding the bloated Federal government easily through to next Columbus Day, is, according to its authors, the very definition of svelte, completely devoid of extraneous spending, and an unprecedented example of fiscal restraint on the part of lawmakers...at last according to lawmakers. But check out a few key elements of the bill that weren't scrapped, even if they were of dubious necessity.
The Spectacle Blog
I have been skeptical about the Senate Democrats aims and objectives in releasing its report on alleged CIA torture in the War on Terror.
But as former Democratic Senator and 9/11 Commissioner Bob Kerrey noted in his op-ed in U.S.A. Today, Senate Democrats did not interview any of the operatives allegedly involved in this misconduct to get their side of the story nor did they provide any recommendations. That should raise red flags. Absent that information, this report isn't worth the paper on which its printed.
After much hemming, hawing and belt-tightening, Congress finally unveiled their "pared-down" yearly budget, this year lovingly titled the "CRomnibus" because it is the product of the unholy union between a continuing resolution (CR) and an omnibus spending bill. The reason for the cute nickname is simple: the omnibus spending bill will keep the government funded through next September, when we have this same fight all over again. The continuing resolution will keep the Department of Homeland Security funded only until March, in the hopes that the Republicans can somehow pass an immigration bill that will keep Obama from declaring that everyone, including, but not limited to, various animals and inanimate objects, can obtain legal work permits.
While the two parties did spend much of last week cutting out unnecessary spending and negotiating the details of the bill in order to avoid a shutdown, the very best, lowest number they could come up with to keep the government rolling on is $1.1 trillion, because everything is terrible and we've lost all sense of reality.
Former Nebraska Democrat Governor and Senator Bob Kerrey blasted his former Democrat colleagues in the Senate over yesterday's release of the CIA torture report in an op-ed for USA Today: For many years, Kerrey sat on the Senate Select Intelligence Committee and was also a member of the 9/11 Commission. So his criticisms cannot be easily dismissed:
I do not need to read the report to know that the Democratic staff alone wrote it. The Republicans checked out early when they determined that their counterparts started out with the premise that the CIA was guilty and then worked to prove it.
When Congress created the intelligence committees in the 1970's, the purpose was for people's representatives to stand above the fray and render balanced judgments about this most sensitive aspect of national security. This committee departed from that high road and slipped into the same partisan mode that marks most of what happens on Capitol Hill these days.
The Senate Report on Torture, released yesterday, is going to divide conservatives. Some will tell us that the report and its release were motivated by partisan politics—as if there’s something that isn’t so motivated in this town. Some will tell us that the “enhanced interrogation” techniques employed by the CIA didn’t amount to torture—even though we executed as war criminals Japanese soldiers who did the same thing to our soldiers after World War II. Some will say the interrogations gave us information about the enemy that we wouldn’t have otherwise gotten, and if this energized the Islamic enemy, too bad for them. Some will tell us that things just got out of hand, that maybe we should have had better protocols, but so what? So we killed one prisoner? Too bad, the CIA doesn’t play patty cake.
I can see all that, believe me. But I have just one question. Can you think of a conservative who has done more harm to conservatism than John Yoo and his colleagues in the Bush Department of Justice who greenlighted waterboarding? I mean, since Joe McCarthy?
The Jon Lester sweepstakes are over. The 30-year old southpaw signed a six-year, $155 million deal with the Chicago Cubs earlier this morning.
In his 9-year big league career, Lester is 116-67 with a 3.58 ERA and has 1,457 strikeouts. He spent the bulk of his career with the Boston Red Sox where he was named to three AL All-Star Teams and won two World Series rings. In 2014, Lester went 16-11 with a 2.46 ERA. The Red Sox dealt Lester to the Oakland A's at the trade deadline where he went 6-4 with the A's and had a 7-4 lead in the eighth inning of the AL Wild Card game against the Kansas City Royals before the Royals embarked upon an improbable comeback.
It's been a busy day for both the White Sox and the Cubs at the MLB Winter Meetings in San Diego.
The Chicago White Sox began by signing free agent closer David Robertson to a four-year, $46 million contract. In 2014, Robertson replaced Mariano Rivera as the closer of the New York Yankees saving 39 games. Robertson fanned 96 batters in only 64 1/3 innings pitched. However, rookie Dellin Bettances was even more impressive. If Robertson stayed in New York, he would be constantly looking over his shoulder. Robertson has a much longer leash on Chicago's South Side. As for the Yankees, Bettances becomes the new closer with newly signed free agent Andrew Miller, who split 2014 between the Red Sox and Orioles, becoming the eighth inning set up man.
In recent weeks there have been multiple, random attacks (particularly stabbings) in Israel.
This phenomenon has now followed Israelis to the United States. Yesterday, an Israeli student was stabbed at the Chabad-Lubavitch Center in Brooklyn. Fortunately, Levi Rosenblatt is expected to survive his injuries. Rosenblatt was stabbed by a mentally ill man named Calvin Peters who screamed, "I want to kill the Jews."
A standoff ensued between NYPD and Peters. Authorities repeatedly demanded that Peters drop his knife. Eventually, he complied only to pick up a knife and lunge at the officers. Peters was then shot and killed by Officer Roberto Pagan.
The NYPD has justifiably taken a lot of heat over last summer's death of Eric Garner. However, more often than not, the NYPD gets it right and this was certainly one of those instances.
Emily makes the case that the release of the so-called CIA Torture Report by Senate Democrats could be good for our soul. She writes, "As a nation, some soul-searching could do us some good."
Yet somehow I doubt soul-searching is what Senate Democrats intended with the release of the report. Indeed, Emily questions the timing of its release noting it could serve "to distract from other administration shortcomings or to serve as a parting shot by Sen. Dianne Feinstein."
I would go further than that. The release of the report gives a black eye to the CIA and, by extension, to the Bush Administration and the incoming Republican majority in the Senate. There is something very wrong when Democrats would rather weaken Republicans than weaken al Qaeda. It also says to the world, "See, we're no better than the terrorists." And what good will come of it? Does anyone honestly think this report will do anything to restore our values?
The Senate Intelligence Committee released a report this morning detailing the CIA's detention and interrogation of suspects during the War on Terror, from the beginning until 2009. The report, compiled by staff members working for the Democratic members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, is over 6,000 pages long and provides a graphic accounting of CIA torture and imprisonment, and goes into detail about how the CIA continued its global operations outside of Congressional and Bush Administration oversight.
The report details how the CIA treated detainees in its custody, suggests that the practice known as "waterboarding" was far more widespread than previously believed, and notes that while the CIA routinely justified its tactics as necessary to save lives and prevent acts of terrorism, the "Enhanced Interrogation Techniques" it practiced did not provide as much information as they initially claimed.