Capitol Hillbillies

Holder says waterboarding is torture

Attorney General-nominee Eric Holder Jr. forcefully broke from the Bush administration’s counterterrorism policies Thursday, declaring that waterboarding is torture and pledging to prosecute some Guantanamo Bay detainees in U.S. courts.

It was the latest signal that President-elect Barack Obama will chart a new course in combatting terrorism. As recently as last week, Vice President Dick Cheney defended waterboarding, a harsh interrogation tactic that simulates drowning, saying it provided valuable intelligence.

Roland Burris sworn in as new Senator

Roland Burris took his place as Barack Obama’s successor in the Senate on Thursday, ending a standoff that embarrassed the president-elect and fellow Democrats who initially resisted the appointment by impeached Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

"I do," Burris said with a grin as Vice President Dick Cheney administered the oath of office to the former Illinois attorney general who takes Obama’s place as the Senate’s only black member.

Hillary Clinton’s confirmation: ‘No problema’

With no daylight showing between congressional Democrats and the next administration’s foreign policy team, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is expected to be swiftly endorsed by a Senate panel as President-elect Barack Obama’s new secretary of state.

Indications from both parties this week were that Clinton would win a near-unanimous vote Thursday in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Clinton navigates confirmation hearing minefield

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton smoothly took on policy questions, from the acute to the arcane, in a gentle job interview to be the nation’s top diplomat, but could not dispel tougher questions about whether her husband’s charity work poses an ethical conflict.

Her confirmation as secretary of state is not in doubt, and she could be on the job as soon as President-elect Barack Obama’s first full day in office. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee planned to vote on the selection Thursday.

Reid screwed the pooch on Burris seating

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was eager to hit the ground running in 2009. Then, with the cameras rolling, he planted his first step firmly on an upturned rake.

Thwack.

We can only hope that the Lesson of Roland Burris left a lasting impression on the Senate leader. But so far, all that we have seen is that the Democratic leader has much to learn about leading his newer, stronger majority in a new age that is driven not by the old muscle politics, but by the power of streaming video politics.

Senate leaders agree to seat Burris

Reversing course, Senate Democrats grudgingly accepted embattled Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s hand-selected Senate appointee, Roland Burris, as they sought to break an impasse over President-elect Barack Obama’s former seat.

The new Illinois senator is expected to be sworn into office later this week.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois made the announcement in a joint statement Monday, saying Burris "is now the senator-designate from Illinois and, as such, will be accorded all the rights and privileges of a senator-elect."

Clinton appears set for easy confirmation

From the disappointment of a failed White House bid, Hillary Rodham Clinton is on the threshold of the world’s stage as chief diplomat for the Democrat who defeated her.

Clinton appeared set to sail smoothly through a Senate confirmation hearing Tuesday, despite concerns among some lawmakers that the global fundraising of her husband, former President Bill Clinton, could pose ethical conflicts for her as President-elect Barack Obama’s secretary of state.

Republicans return to familiar territory

Out of power, Republicans appear to be retreating to familiar old ground. They’re becoming deficit hawks again.

GOP lawmakers didn’t seem to mind enjoying the fruits of government largesse for the past eight years while one of their own was in the White House. Now they’re struggling to regain footing at a time of economic rout, a record $1.2 trillion budget deficit and an incoming Democratic president claiming a mandate for change.

Mr. Burris ready to return to Washington

Roland Burris, buoyed by a favorable court ruling, may return to the U.S. Senate next week and demand to be sworn in to fill the seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama, a Burris adviser said on Saturday.

"Roland is considering going back to the Senate and his advisers are urging him to do so — unless this is suddenly resolved by Monday," the adviser said on condition of anonymity.

On Friday, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled as valid embattled Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s appointment of fellow Democrat Burris to the Senate seat.