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#ConfirmLoretta2The Charlotte Observer is the latest large media outlet to speak out against the absurd and offensive blockade Attorney General nominee and North Carolina native Loretta Lynch by GOP senators.

The Observer rightfully terms the blockade — which is even opposed by notorious left-wingers like Orrin Hatch, Lindsay Graham and Rudolph Giuliani — a “ridiculous” exercise in toxic politics and political hostage taking.

As this morning’s editorial notes:

“Critics say she’s too much like Holder and the man who’s trying to hire her, Barack Obama, on major issues such as voting rights and immigration. It’s a ridiculous objection. What boss picks an employee to fight his or her goals?

What’s really holding her up is the kind of hyper-partisan D.C. food fight that’s destroying our country.”

Meanwhile, Burr and Tillis are their usual helpful selves:

“Lynch can’t even turn to her two home-state senators for help. A delegation of her N.C. supporters came away disappointed Tuesday after meetings with Richard Burr and Thom Tillis.

Burr has said he can’t support her because she seems too friendly to federal lawsuits like the one pending against North Carolina’s tough new voting requirements. Too much like Holder, Tillis has said, adding that he’d be shocked if her views on key issues differed from the president’s.”

Happily, the saving grace in all this is that Holder remains on the job. As Talking Points Memo reported yesterday:

News

Loretta LynchThe U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote this morning on the nomination of North Carolina native Loretta Lynch to serve as the nation’s next Attorney General.

If approved by the Committee, her nomination will move to the full Senate for a final vote, and if confirmed there Lynch will become the first African-American woman to serve in that role.

The daughter of a black Baptist minister and a school librarian who once picked cotton in the eastern part of North Carolina, Lynch made her way from Durham to Brooklyn, where she has twice led the U.S. Attorney’s Office there.

Colleagues and adversaries alike have called her a tough, fair, and independent lawyer and a leader of one of the most active and effective U.S. Attorney’s Offices in the nation.

New York Police Commissioner William Bratton called her “a remarkable prosecutor with a clear sense of justice without fear or favor.

Former NYC Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly praised Lynch as a person who “upholds the highest ethical standard” and “would serve our country well” as the attorney general.

And former FBI director Louis Freeh wrote in a letter to Judiciary Committee leadership that he couldn’t think of “a more qualified nominee” and was “happy to give Ms. Lynch my highest personal and professional recommendation.”

Lynch also garnered the respect of several senators serving on the 20-member Committee, before whom she appeared for questioning in late January.

Eleven of those senators are Republican — including newly-minted North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis – and nine are Democrats.

With a supporting vote, Tillis could help make Lynch the first North Carolinian to lead the Justice Department.

But he has not publicly announced his support, and his office did not respond to a phone call seeking comment.

Others on both sides of the aisle have expressed their support, though.

Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein called Lynch’s performance at her confirmation hearing one of the best she’d witnessed.

“I see the combination of steel and velvet,” Feinstein said.

And Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch said he was impressed by Lynch and plans to support her.

Despite that support, an effort is apparently underway among Republicans in the Senate to derail her nomination, according to this report in the News & Observer.

Fifty-one Republican senators have signed a letter urging Judiciary Committee members to oppose her nomination, saying they suspected that Lynch would likely continue the policies of Eric Holder, whom she’d succeed as Attorney General.

Holder made few friends among Republicans in the Senate, and during her confirmation hearing, Lynch found herself being pushed to distance herself from that.

“If confirmed as attorney general, I would be myself,” she said in response to questioning.

“I would be Loretta Lynch.”

 

Commentary

Thom TillisWell, this is off to a good start. Senator-elect Thom Tillis is already staking  out a less-than-courageous profile in his new job by essentially parroting the absurd remarks of his new colleague Richard Burr on the CIA torture report and attempting to make it a partisan issue — even though people of both major parties clearly bear responsibility for the atrocities.

Tillis gets a small measure of credit for admitting the torture — what he calls “those practices” — was wrong, but then he makes the illogical assertion that releasing the information will hurt American “credibility.”

Uh, excuse us Senator-elect. but here’s what will enhance American credibility going forward: telling the truth and not torturing people. As this morning’s editorial in the Wilmington Star News correctly notes:

“We pride ourselves on our sense of morality, justice and humanity, and should feel shame that the inhumane tactics described in the report were sanctioned on our behalf.

Moreover, they didn’t work. The report, which was gleaned from more than 6 million pages of information, found that in most cases subjecting enemy combatants to brutality produced no useful information.

That is hardly a revelation. Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona, who spent 51/2 years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, has repeatedly denounced torture and other harsh tactics as cruel and ineffective. His observations have been backed up by experienced military interrogators who said that many captives will make up stories or offer bad information just to stop the physical or mental pain….

We cannot profess to be of superior moral fiber if we embrace the same disregard for human life and dignity that compels us to label terrorists as evil.”

Unlike Richard Burr, North Carolina’s new senator has six years to worry about re-election. You’d think he could take a break from partisan demagoguery for at least the first few months of his time in D.C.

Commentary

Richard Burr 2It’s nothing new for Senator Richard Burr to express embarrassing views or to engage in inexplicable political behavior, but the senator’s comments yesterday on the horrific findings in the new report on the CIA’s un-American torture program hit a new low.

As you can read for yourself here and here, the torture report details a long, disturbing (and ineffective!) list of disgraceful actions taken in the name of the American people. Raleigh’s News & Observer rightfully described the actions of the CIA and its contractors in this morning’s lead editorial as “brutal and illegal.”

Sadly, however, Burr, the soon-to-be chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, opted to turn the findings into partisan political fodder by describing them as “a blatant smear on the Bush administration,” and unnecessary because  the information was “already known by the vast majority of Americans.”

You got that? People acting in our name did this:

“CIA officers also threatened at least three detainees with harm to their families—to include threats to harm the children of a detainee, threats to sexually abuse the mother of a detainee, and a threat to “cut [a detainee’s] mother’s throat.”

and this:

“(1) the attention grasp, (2) walling, (3) facial hold, (4) facial slap, (5) cramped confinement, (6) wall standing, (7) stress positions, (8) sleep deprivation, (9) waterboard, (10) use of diapers, (11) use of insects, and (12) mock burial.”

but according to Richard Burr, it’s no biggie and shining the light of day on such horrific information is “political.”

One shudders to imagine what kind of behavior Burr would be outraged by. It’s a sad state of affairs that a man with such an off-kilter moral compass now stands near the top of the American foreign policy establishment.

Commentary

Loretta BiggsLoretta Copeland Biggs, President Obama’s nominee for U.S. District Judge in North Carolina’s Middle District, has not yet been approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee. Biggs appeared before the Committee on November 13 for her scheduled hearing and is now waiting on approval by the Committee. If she is approved by the Committee, Biggs’s nomination will then be forwarded to the Senate floor where it will be considered and voted on by the full Senate.  This entire process must occur within the next few weeks in order for Biggs to be confirmed before the Senate’s lame-duck session ends. Nominees who aren’t confirmed this month will have to do it all over again next year, starting with being renominated.

Currently, it seems to be taking approximately a month between when hearings are held and when the Committee approves a candidate. Unfortunately, there is no exact timeline for how long this may take because there are many permitted ways to stall and obstruct the process. At the Committee’s last hearing, for instance, Charles Grassley, Republican Senator from Iowa, unnecessarily decided to delay approval of nine judicial nominees for a week. This in turn delayed scheduling a vote on the Senate floor and will delay the eventual vote itself (which generally seems to occur two to three months later).

These delay tactics do seem to be a ploy to avoid confirming President Obama’s nominees. Read More