Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:
Letter of Intent
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Silvestre Reyes thinks Congress needs to do more when it comes to CIA interrogations. The Washington Times reports the Texas Democrat sent a letter to CIA employees that says: "One important lesson to me from the CIA's interrogation operations involves congressional oversight. I'm going to examine closely ways in which we can change the law to make our oversight of CIA more meaningful."
The letter undercuts remarks by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that there is little Congress can do about harsh interrogations. Michigan Republican Congressman Pete Hoekstra says "members of Congress knew all about these programs, and here fellow CIA employees are getting thrown under the bus... I think it is unprecedented for the CIA to receive a letter like this from a chairman."
Blown out of Proportion?
There is a growing sentiment that the swine flu may actually be less dangerous than the average seasonal flu. A University of Wisconsin molecular virologist, Dr. Christopher Olsen, who studies swine flu tells London's Daily Mail: "Let's not lose track of the fact that the normal seasonal influenza is a huge public health problem that kills tens of thousands of people in the U.S. alone and hundreds of thousands around the world."
On average, 36,000 Americans die each year because of the flu. Across the globe that figure can be as high as a half million.
Meanwhile, some are trying to capitalize on the outbreak. The Hill newspaper reports the group, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, has applied for a permit to set up a real-life hog farm on Capitol Hill complete with manure, urine, and fans to blow the stench around. The group wants to illustrate how it says the swine flu problem started in the first place and urge people to go vegetarian.
Kentucky Republican Senator Jim Bunning appears headed for retirement. The Politico newspaper reports that Bunning has told Kentucky Republican Secretary of State Trey Grayson to get ready to run.
We've reported in the past that Republicans are trying to oust Bunning because of concerns about his ability to win re-election. One senior congressional official who spoke on condition of anonymity says: "He told Trey to do this. Why else would he tell his main rival to prepare for a run?"
But Bunning spokesman Mike Reynard denies that's the case: "Senator Bunning has every intention of running."
And the wife of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi says her husband's selection of a Miss Italy contestant, two actresses, and a reality TV star to run for seats in the European Parliament is "shamelessly trashy."
Veronica Berlusconi has previously lamented her husband's eye for younger women. She now tells an Italian news agency: "What's happening today behind a front of bodily curves and female beauty is grave."
She also called the all-female cast, "entertainment for the emperor." And that's from his current wife.
— FOX News Channel's Zachary Kenworthy contributed to this report.
Bret Baier is the Chief Political Anchor of Fox News Channel, and the Anchor & Executive Editor of "Special Report with Bret Baier.” His book, "Three Days in January: Dwight Eisenhower’s Final Mission," published by William Morrow, will be released on January 10, 2017.