* Bush torture defenders dig in: ABC News weighs in with a big story on the latest developments in the torture wars, with former Bush attorney general Michael Mukasey now pushing back on the news of CIA chief Leon Panetta’s letter downplaying the role of torture in killing Bin Laden.
Mukasey’s latest: Maybe it’s true that we heard about Bin Laden’s courier before Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was tortured, but the courier only became significant when KSM talked about him under duress. More on this later.
* It’s all about the Bush legacy: Relatedly, Lawrence O’Donnell last night aired a very good segment on this battle and how it’s all about claiming a piece of Bin Laden’s killing for Bush.
* National Dems pour cash into special House election: With the stakes in the special election for New York’s 26th district intensifying, the outside Dem group House Majority PAC is going up on the air with a hard hitting new ad blasting GOP candidate Jane Corwin over her support for Paul Ryan’s Medicare plan.
“While Corwin’s plan would essentially end Medicare, it increases the debt by giving tax breaks to big oil and millionaires,” the ad says. “Seniors sacrifice — the wealthy gain.”
Both sides are expected to flood the district with volunteers and more money in advance of the election next Tuesday, which is emerging as an early contest for bragging rights as to whose Medicare messaging is gaining traction in advance of 2012.
* Dems gaining ground: Stuart Rothenberg shifts his ranking in NY-26 from “Leans Republican” to “TossUp/Tilt Democratic,” noting that even though the district tilts Republican, Dems — who have made Ryan’s Medicare plan central to the race — hold an enthusiasm edge.
* Republicans attack Democrat over Medicare: Meanwhile, in an intriguing twist, Republicans are now running ads hammering Dem candidate Kathy Hochul for allegedly favoring Medicare cuts, even though Corwin backs Ryan’s plan.
* Tea Partyer may enable Dem upset: Relatedly, here’s an interesting profile of millionaire Jack Davis, the third party candidate who may enable a Dem upset by using opposition to free trade to siphon voters disaffected over the economy from the Republican.
* Will House GOPers catch more heat at home over Medicare? First up is GOP Rep. Andy Harris of Maryland, who faced a roomful of anxious seniors in a “pitched” debate over whether the GOP plan would end Medicare as we know it. Readers: Please let me know what you’re seeing in your districts.
* Paul Ryan for Senate? If you think Ryan’s Medicare plan is front and center in the national political conversation right now, imagine the temperature if he runs for Senate in Wisconsin, which top Republicans are apparently pushing for.
Update: National Journal quotes two sources claiming that Ryan has decided to take a pass on the race.
* Wisconsin to heat up yet again: Relatedly: Politico reports that former governor Tommy Thompson is also set to make the race, which could make it a very competitive contest in a state that’s already the center of national attention amid the continuing labor standoff.
* Ryan plan all about “greed”: Timothy Egan on how exploiting “greed” is the only way Ryan can garner support for his plan to “radically alter the social contract.”
* Senate to vote on Big Oil subsidies: Dems intend to hold a vote today on their plan to end subsidies for oil companies, an effort to put Republicans on record and expose them to criticism that they care less about the deficit than about preserving Big Oil’s tax breaks.
* Can Obama influence 2012 GOP primary? Worth watching: How the President has subtly (and sometimes not so subtly) been using the bully pulpit to try to disqualify the more electable contenders in the eyes of GOP primary voters — and perhaps pick an unelectable opponent.
* And it’s good to see progress on use of word “torture”: Good on the New York Times for deciding to use the word “torture.” As Jason Linkins notes, media outlets that hide behind the eumpemism “enhanced interrogation techniques” are not heroically avoiding “taking sides” in the debate over the semantics of torture, they are siding with the Bush administration.
What else is happening?