Here, for those of you who may not have figured it out yet, is why I cannot take the wingtards (who form the rump Republican Party remains in Congress) seriously.

We all remember “Electrode Al” Gonzales, don’t we? At his confirmation hearing, was there even one ‘tard Senator who was the least bit interested in his signoffs on Chimpy’s desire to torture detainees? Did anyone even ask about his previous stint in Texas, where he oversaw the creation of a concentration camp/torture chamber gulag for juvenile detainees? And later on, how many of these same ‘tards were interested at all in his Stalin-like purging of the Justice Department to get rid of politically unreliable attorneys?

Electrode Al should never have even reached the Justice Department, and once he was there, he should surely have been brought to heel. This guy has done some pretty nasty things, no? But the ‘tards weren’t the least bit interested in bringing this dangerous criminal to heel.

NOW, however, they are worried to death over what Eric Holder did as a somewhat uninformed Deputy Attorney General to help Marc Rich get a pardon? Give me a frigging BREAK here! The hypocrisy is so thick it’s choking me.

Pledging to run an independent Justice Department free of political taint, Eric H. Holder Jr. said on Thursday that he believes unequivocally that “waterboarding” is torture, and that it must not be practiced by the United States regardless of the circumstances.

The question of waterboarding was the first issue to be raised at the Senate Judiciary Committee’s confirmation hearings of Mr. Holder for attorney general. As expected, he also came under close questioning over his role as deputy attorney general in the pardoning of Marc Rich, a billionaire who had fled the country rather than face federal tax evasion charges, at the end of President Bill Clinton’s second term.

Addressing the subject of torture at the military prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, Mr. Holder told Senator Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, the committee chairman, “Waterboarding is torture.” It was so defined under the Spanish Inquisition and when used by the Japanese in World War II, he said, and it remains so today.

President-elect Barack Obama has vowed to close the prison, a goal Mr. Holder said he shared. “There are possibly many other people who are not going to be able to be tried but who nevertheless are dangerous to this country,” he said. “We’re going to have to try to figure out what to do with them.”

Asked whether a president might have the power to immunize people against criminal charges if they employ waterboarding, which creates a drowning-like sensation, to obtain intelligence to use against terrorists, Mr. Holder answered unambiguously: “Mr. Chairman, no one is above the law.”

It was clear that the answer was just what Mr. Leahy wanted to hear. The senator has been a harsh critic of the Bush administration, which has defended such harsh interrogation techniques as sometimes essential, and he has expressed public annoyance over the seeming reluctance of Attorney General Michael Mukasey and his predecessor, Alberto R. Gonzales, to renounce waterboarding.

Mr. Holder conceded that President Bush and his top aides had to make difficult decisions. “It is an easy thing for somebody to look back in hindsight and be critical,” he said. “Having said that, the president-elect and I are both disturbed by what we have seen and what we have heard.”

Mr. Holder encountered a bumpy reception over his bungled role in the pardoning of Mr. Rich. He called the controversy “the most intense, most searing experience I’ve ever had as a lawyer,” but one that would make him a better attorney general.

“I made mistakes,” he told the committee, which will vote on his nomination. “I’ve accepted the responsibility for those mistakes.”

But Mr. Holder maintained that the entire episode, in which he said he was not the “careful, thoughtful lawyer” he typically is, will make him an even stronger Justice Department head “as perverse as this might sound.”

Mr. Holder promised to be an attorney general for all Americans if his nomination is confirmed by the full Senate. “The Department of Justice first and foremost represents the people of the United States – not any one president, not any one party,” he said.

“The Justice Department must also defend the civil rights of every American,” Mr. Holder said. “Improper political hiring has undermined this important mission. That must change.” Critics of the Bush Administration have often charged that the department became partisan and politicized under Mr. Gonzales.

Mr. Holder came under the sharpest questioning from the ranking Republican on the committee, Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, over his role in the case of Mr. Rich. “Given the background of this man,” Mr. Specter said, “it’s a little hard for me to see how you came to the conclusion you did.”

It is a little hard for ME to figure out why Specter is so worried about this, when at one time he had a real chance to curb Electrode Al on several occasions, and did not do so. I don’t have any trouble at all believing that Holder probably made a rush to judgment based on a partial rendering of the facts of the case. I’ve done the same thing in my life, and so have you, and we, like Holder, learned from our mistakes and did better the next time we had to make a decision. I am far more concerned about Holder’s opinions on the Constitution of the United States, and I am quite comfortable with his answers on THESE questions.

It is a pity that Arlen Specter isn’t as interested in the Constitution as he is in a little political posturing. But we aren’t surprised; when it comes time to pick party or country, we know what direction Specter always goes.

Republican'ts! A Whole Lotta NOTHING

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