Saturday, June 19, 2010

Your Saturday Outrage

Tim F. has a Polite Suggestion

Maybe people in DC falsely believe that the whole world hates stimulus spending because the only calls that legislators get are from teabaggers.


John Cole: Red State or CBS News?

So who would finish a story about Obama visiting Ohio to talk about the economy with this paragraph:

The trip Columbus probably cost taxpayers between $500,000 and $1 million.

Air Force One alone bills out at $100,000 per hour, and the round trip is nearly two hours. Adding to the cost are military aircraft to carry limos and secret service vehicles, Marine One on standby, Secret Service, local police and other factors.

Mark Knoller, CBS news journamamalist.

Apparently Obama should remain sequestered at the White House to save taxpayer money. Which makes sense, if you are complete moron or Mark Knoller. Which might be redundant.

On June 17, Senator Al Franken addressed the 2010 ACS National Convention at the Convention's opening night gala dinner. Sen. Franken spoke on the current state of the judiciary and judicial nominations, and the changing landscape of the courts. A transcript of Sen. Franken's speech is available here.

  • John Cole says:
    Note to absolute morons- this is how you move the Overton window. Full-throated attacks on conservative nonsense from the left.


As astounding as Rep. Joe Barton's (R-Texas) groveling public apology to BP was yesterday, there's a much larger, more relevant truth to keep in mind: President Obama is getting tough with BP, and the Republican Party wishes he wouldn't.

For weeks, much of the criticism of the White House was centered around the idea that the administration wasn't pushing BP hard enough. But on Wednesday, the president went into a meeting with the company's executives, told them how it was going to be, and BP quickly agreed. The result: a $20 billion pot of money that will bring much-needed help to workers, businesses, and families who've been victimized by a devastating oil spill. This was no small task for Obama, and Americans have every right to be pleased. (One poll this week found 82% of the public supports the creation of the escrow fund.)

And yet, Republicans seem to be outraged. We talked yesterday about GOP officials and candidates sticking up for BP, and today, ThinkProgress put together this compilation video of Republican media figures doing the same thing. It's all quite breathtaking, and the result of a strategy the party really hasn't thought through.

Indeed, the rhetoric is almost comical. Fox News' Brian Kilmeade suggested this morning that Obama is being "too tough" on BP. Talk of a "shakedown" is ubiquitous in conservative media circles. Some Republican media personalities have described the president's securing of funds for the Gulf Coast as "illegal" and "unconstitutional." Even after party leaders said Barton was "wrong," leading party voices, including Rush Limbaugh, continue to insist he was right.

Now, it's possible that Republicans in Congress and in the media are simply offering a knee-jerk response -- Obama secured funding for spill victims, so the funding must be bad -- but there seems to be more to this. Republicans on the Hill and in the media just want BP to be treated with kid gloves. A foreign oil giant is responsible for the worst environmental catastrophe in American history, and the GOP would prefer that Obama go easy on the company. In Rand Paul's words, for the president to even criticize BP is "un-American."

It would be better, Republicans are arguing, if aid to help spill victims didn't exist, and if the president didn't take the lead in getting resources for the region.

Every day, it seems to get a little easier for Democrats to characterize Republicans as "The Party of BP."


If you followed politics in the mid- to late-'90s, you may recall the tragedy of the House Committee On Oversight and Government Reform. Led by its ridiculous chairman, Rep. Dan Burton (R) of Indiana, the panel launched pointless investigations into every wild-eyed Clinton-related accusation unhinged activists could manufacture.

In one instance, Burton held hearings -- for 10 days -- on the Clintons' Christmas card list. In another, Burton fired a bullet into a "head-like object" -- reportedly a melon -- in his backyard to test his conspiracy theories about Vince Foster. Over the last six years of Bill Clinton's presidency, Burton's committee unilaterally issued 1,052 subpoenas -- that's not a typo -- to investigate baseless allegations of misconduct. That translates to an average of a politically-inspired subpoena every other day for six consecutive years, including weekends, holidays, and congressional recesses.

Burton, of course, wasn't just some talk-radio shock-jock or publicity-hungry activist; he was the chairman of a congressional committee with oversight authority over the White House. And he wielded that gavel as if he were a fringe blogger with a chip on his shoulder.

And if Republicans retake the House majority after the midterms, Darrell Issa will make Dan Burton look like a meek, submissive toady.

Rep. Darrell Issa, the conservative firebrand whose specialty is lobbing corruption allegations at the Obama White House, is making plans to hire dozens of subpoena-wielding investigators if Republicans win the House this fall.

The California Republican's daily denunciations draw cheers from partisans and bookings from cable TV producers. He even bought his own earphone for live shots. But his bombastic style and attention-seeking investigations draw eye rolls from other quarters. Now, he's making clear he won't be so easy to shrug off if he becomes chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in 2011.

Issa has told Republican leadership that if he becomes chairman, he wants to roughly double his staff from 40 to between 70 and 80. And he is not subtle about what that means for President Barack Obama.

Issa, who even some Republicans perceive as an embarrassing clown, has specifically promised to leave "corporate America" alone, so he can attack the White House relentlessly.

Of course, the more Issa takes on a high-profile role, the more scrutiny he's likely to receive. Given Issa's background, that's probably not a good thing -- the guy was, after all, an alleged car thief who lied about his military background. It's a record Democrats are likely to make note of if Issa starts throwing stones in his glass house.

It's funny what turns up sometimes in financial disclosure materials. The Wall Street Journal had this gem yesterday:

WSJ's Heard on the Street reported this nugget Thursday that caught Washington Wire's eye:

Putting his money where his mouth is? Eric Cantor, the Republican Whip in the House of Representatives, bought up to $15,000 in shares of ProShares Trust Ultrashort 20+ Year Treasury ETF last December, according to his 2009 financial disclosure statement. The exchange-traded fund takes a short position in long-dated government bonds. In effect, it is a bet against U.S. government bonds -- and perhaps on inflation in the future.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about this is the way in which it confirms the worst suspicions about Cantor's understanding of current events -- this guy is betting on inflation? The economic phenomenon that's effectively non-existent given our current economic conditions? Inflation that the Fed isn't going to begin worrying about for the rest of the year?

The Washington Independent's Annie Lowrey added: "...Cantor is not a very canny investor. The fund is down 31 percent this year."

It appears Cantor's investment decisions are about as wise his legislative decisions. Indeed, if Cantor wanted to give his portfolio a boost, he could do as the White House would like and endorse policies that would stimulate the economy. Americans would be better off, and Cantor's investments would be worth more money.

But, as Matt Yglesias explained, "either Cantor doesn't understand his economic self-interest properly, or else he's more committed to his principled opposition to sound macroeconomic stabilization than he is to the performance of his portfolio."

My bet is on the former. Cantor doesn't seem to understand much.

Kleefeld (TPM): Bachmann Opponent's New Ad Blasts Her For 'Standing Up For BP' (VIDEO)

Minnesota state Sen. Tarryl Clark, the Democratic candidate to go up against Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann, is looking to get an ad on the air going after Bachmann for having bashed the the BP escrow fund as "extortion" by the Obama administration.

The ad is not yet up on TV, but the Clark campaign is conducting a fundraising drive among supporters to get it on the air.

"It's BP's fault. And they should pay. But Michelle Bachmann calls making BP pay for the clean up 'extortion,'" the announcer says. "And said 'If I was the head of BP, I would let the signal get out there - 'We're not going to be chumps.'"

"If Bachmann lets BP off the hook, guess who's paying? Us," the announcer says. "Michele Bachmann: standing up for BP. Not us."

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