It’s showtime: Gettin’ down and gettin’ mo’ with Gitmo

The news hits just keep on coming here in Washington.

On the same day President Obama was flexing his newfound automotive muscle at the White House by putting the pedal to the metal on new mileage rules, across town, his former Senate colleagues were slamming on the brakes by striking $80 million out of a war-spending bill designed to fund the Going Out of Business sale at Guantánamo Bay.

With Republicans successfully turning up the heat on the politically sensitive question of just where the Gitmo prisoners might go next, Senate Democrats were forced to deny Obama the shutdown money until they hear more details about his transfer plan. The president has a national security speech planned Thursday, so the precious next-step specifics on the facility he promised he would shutter by January 2010 could be tantalizingly close.

Dancing with
the presidents

“Dancing With the Stars” has nothing on new American presidents when they get to that part in the performance where they’re forced to tap-dance their way back to the center of the stage after straying too far into the cheering section. Cross-referencing military tribunals and torture photographs, many on the right hope the president completes the center-stage tap-dance trifecta by reversing himself altogether on, or at least changing his timeframe for, closing Gitmo.

Impeachments ‘R’ Us

Speaking of Gitmo, isn’t it about time for some cash-strapped governor (not being up for reelection anytime soon helps) to step up and graciously offer to take all the Gitmo prisoners for the low, low bargain-basement price of — say — 10 billion American dollars?

Consider the economic boon for the state whose prescient, insightful governor steps up and goes where few dare tread. Think about it. Construction contracts. Security jobs. Hotels overflowing with ACLU lawyers wanting in on the legal action …

Jihad World?

And while we’re on the subject of the $96 billion war-spending bill still being debated in the Senate: With that train not yet having left the station, it isn’t too late for some counterintuitive, enterprising backbench House member to not only own the news media for a couple of weeks, but also a garner a lifetime of thanks from Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who would love the distraction.

I am talking, of course, about writing in an eleventh-hour Gitmo prisoner earmark for his or her congressional district. Hear me out — the possibilities are endless. A university-based public policy program on the politics of torture? Torture World Theme Park? And my personal favorite: a well-situated, enterprise-zoned Torture Hall of Fame.

Since this all relates directly to national defense, I am sure Appropriations Defense subcommittee Chairman John Murtha (D-Pa.) would be happy to lend his expertise at the last minute to any member who takes the bai — er — feels inspired to serve his or her constituents in this unique and creative way.

An earmark by
any other name

Just remember — like all those successful post-Sept. 11 earmarks that got green lights because they had that magic “first responder” in their titles — don’t forget to include the 2009 equivalent: shovel-ready. It’s not the Toledo Torture Hall of Fame — it’s the Shovel-Ready Toledo Torture Hall of Fame. Got it? Very important. Sorta makes you wonder if there is a shovel-ready shovel factory earmark out there somewhere.

Transcending dental

Since there has been so much going on around here lately, I wanted to make sure you didn’t miss some important legislation the House passed last week — H.R. 204 — Congratulating the American Dental Association (ADA) for its 150th year of working to improve the public’s oral health and promoting dentistry. Fair enough. I must have missed the news that the nation’s dentists had started working for free. Isn’t congratulating the ADA for promoting dentistry a little like honoring Las Vegas for promoting gambling? I mean, after all, most dentists I know have pretty nice houses and boats and all the rest. How about a resolution congratulating the ADA for providing free dental work to families of anyone who has lost his or her job through no fault of his/her own? Now that would be a resolution worth a 424-0 vote.

And finally …

Mills on the Hill can’t let this special day go by without at least mentioning it. I know it seems like months and months, but today is the official one-week anniversary of Nancy vs. the CIA. I know, I know. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) wants us all to move on to more serious stuff and stop obsessing about this little matter of the third-highest-ranking official in American government accusing the nation’s top intelligence agency of lying to her. But sometimes I just get weak-minded, I guess.

In any case, Madam Speaker on Thursday will hold her first news conference since CIA Director Leon Panetta called her out for saying his agency lied to her about the use of enhanced interrogation techniques (EITs to you and me). It’s a very complicated matter, but don’t worry about it. I understand there will soon be a whole museum dedicated to the flap somewhere up near Johnstown, Pa.

You can reach Jim Mills at