Friday, May 7, 2010

I see crazy people.

Fringe groups: fearful or funny?
May 6: Rachel Maddow re-caps the story of a member of the right-wing fringe group American Grand Jury who was arrested while attempting to make an armed citizen's arrest in a courthouse. James Cavanaugh, a former ATF Special Agent, joins to explain the difference between the dangerous fringe and the just-plain-ridiculous fringe.

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Joe Sudbay
The Senate is still debating S.3217, Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2010. Expect votes on more amendments today. Yesterday, a GOP amendment to weaken the consumer protection aspects of the bill was defeated 38 - 61. Two GOPers, Collins and Grassley, voted with the Democrats. The amendment was offered by Richard Shelby, the ranking Republican on the Banking Committee. He recently told a gathering of bankers that the best way to kill reform was to elect more GOPers -- and he told them all to give $10,000 to Rep. Roy Blunt who is running for Senate in Missouri. The Republicans are not even subtle about being bought and paid for by the bankers and Wall Street.
C&L: David Obey: I Would Have Retired a Long Time Ago If Not For Meeting With Bush After 9-11

David Obey talked about his reasons for deciding to retire now and he said he would have retired a long time ago had it not been for a meeting with George W. Bush after 9-11 where he found got a taste of how Bush was going to govern; my way or the highway. Even though he and other members of the House had bipartisan agreement on additions to the budget they wanted to make, Bush wasn't interested in listening to any of their suggestions.

He also said he would not have retired now if he did not know that they had a good field of Democrats to take his place. Obey said he also wanted to make sure the health care bill passed and that it looked like the economy was moving back on track before he announced his plans to leave.

Yglesias: Filibuster and Accountability

On its face, the problem with the filibuster is that it’s anti-majoritarian. But taking a broader view, the normative status of majority rules is pretty questionable. The bigger problem is that it undermines democratic accountability. Ezra Klein points out that David Obey smartly mentioned this in his retirement announcement saying “All I do know is that there has to be more to life than explaining the ridiculous, accountability destroying rules of the Senate to confused, angry, and frustrated constituents.”

This is related to the unfashionable-in-elite-circles case for strong party discipline. The point is that accountability is maximized when it’s relatively simple for ordinary people to deploy the means at their disposal (voting, or not) to effectuate their ends (throwing the bastards out, or not). When you combine majoritarian legislative procedures with strong party discipline, then all a voter needs to do is (a) remember which party is in charge, and then (b) decide if he likes what’s going on. But thanks to the filibuster, if you don’t approve of policy outcomes you’re likely to blame the majority party even if the outcomes are actually being determined by a minority.

Thursday, May 6, 2010


Backtrack, baby, backtrack May 5: Rachel Maddow updates the news on the catastrophic oil blow-out in the Gulf and the backtracking by some politicians who were enthusiastic supporters of offshore drilling - even while other politicians emphasize their support for continued drilling.

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mistermix: Bad Company, Bad Regulator

The Minerals Management Service (MMS), which regulates offshore oil rigs, gave BP a big old pass:

A rule change two years ago by the federal agency that regulates offshore oil rigs allowed BP to avoid filing a plan specifically for handling a major spill from an uncontrolled blowout at its Deepwater Horizon project – exactly the kind of disaster now unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico.

If “MMS” rings a bell, perhaps this is why:

In 2008, the Interior Department took disciplinary action against eight MMS employees who accepted lavish gifts, partied and – in some cases – had sex with employees from the energy companies they regulated. An investigation cited a “culture of substance abuse and promiscuity” involving employees in the agency’s Denver office.

MMS workers were given upgraded ethics training.

Maybe this catastrophe will merit a sternly-worded letter, or a serious talking-to.

Also, too, the industry knew about big problems with blowout preventers years ago.

Last week, former Republican congressman and MSNBC host Joe Scarborough impressed me with a strong, sensible take on the new immigration law in Arizona. The "Morning Joe" host made a compelling case that the state law is "unacceptable and it is un-American."

With that in mind, it was another refreshing surprise this morning, when Scarborough rejected the comparisons Republicans and a few too many political reporters are making between Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spill disaster.

"This Katrina analogy is absolutely obscene," he said. "Anybody who draws that analogy is an idiot, and they're obviously lurching for political points against an administration that's given them many political points to take."

That last point is of particular interest. Scarborough isn't saying that conservatives should go easy on President Obama or the administration; he 's arguing that conservative should take on the White House on issues with a foundation in reality. That seems reasonable.

On the same program, by the way, a "Morning Joe" co-host described the Katrina comparison as "dangerous," prompting Scarborough to add that the accusations, from Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) and others, against the administration are "overblown."

I'm fairly confident I haven't agreed this strongly with Joe Scarborough, twice in one week, probably ever. Believe me, no one's more surprised than I am.

Environmental wounds from Valdez still fresh May 5: Rachel Maddow points out how plainly polluted the Prince William Sound remains 21 years after the Exxon Valdez dumped more than 11 million gallons of oil into its water, making clear the dire implications of the oil in the Gulf making landfall.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

"the decaying stench of the Republican corpse"

Sully: The Contemptible "Small Government" Fraud Of The Tea Party

Exhibit A from a WaPo online chat:

Boston, Mass.: Here is my question for the Tea Party. What are your solutions to today's problems? For example, I hear the word socialism used alot and government getting too big. But then what would you cut? Or what would the Tea Party members have done about the financial crisis from 2008? I assume that they would not vote to bailout the banks, but what would they do if the biggest banks in the world go under?

Judson Phillips: First, cut taxes to increase economic growth. That works everytime. Second, let's go through the entire federal budget and eliminate programs that are consumed by waste, fraud or abuse. Start eliminating them.

Seriously? I mean: seriously? We're talking about a debt larger than we've ever contemplated outside of the Second World War and he's talking about eliminating "waste"? And I thought Glenn Reynolds was dishonest ... Of course, we later find out that defense is off the table. But he does mention entitlements, when challenged further:

Judson Phillips: Let's start with entitlement programs. They are the biggest source of out of control spending. Then let's go to congressional pork programs.

Pork is a teensy part of the problem. H does later argue that social security disability checks are the source of the spending problem. Yep: seriously, that's his actual specific recommendation, apart form cutting taxes further. What does he specifically propose for entitlement cuts that come close to the scale of the problem? Nada. Look he's not running for office; he's heading up a protest movement against government spending - and he yet he can't offer any specifics on what he'd cut that would solve the problem. In fact, he barely seems to have thought about the actual fiscal choices before us for a split second.

Taxes? Pure denial of reality:

Washington, D.C.: Judson -- Are you willing to admit that taxes have actually gone down for the vast majority of Americans under President Obama?

Judson Phillips: No

Of course not. And the past has to be airbrushed as well:

Alexandria, Va.: Are you willing to admit that marginal tax rates went up for the majority of Americans during the Reagan administration? Do you know the difference between average and marginal tax rates? Could you answer a simple econ 101 questions regarding the impact of progressive taxation on the labor-leisure choice?

Judson Phillips: No.

If I have contempt for these non-arguments, it is because I retain some smidgen of a belief in honest politics and small government. These people are thoroughgoing frauds - a bunch of right-wing victim-mongers whining about something they have no actual ideas about confronting. They are not something new. They are the decaying stench of the Republican corpse. If they get into power somehow, it will be Weekend At Bernie's for conservatism.

Sully: Epistemic Closure Watch

From the NYT yesterday:

“You cannot really engage in that conversation,” said Phillip Moore, a teacher in this Detroit suburb who has embraced strong opinions on many topics in his life — on politics, education, even religion — but avoids the subject of Israel at gatherings of his Jewish relatives.

“You raise a question about the security forces or the settlements and you are suddenly being compared to a Holocaust denier,” said Mr. Moore, 62. “It’s just not a rational discussion, so I keep quiet.”

I share his pain. But the hysterics are not representative:

In a survey taken after the diplomatic skirmish of March, the American Jewish Committee — the heart of the traditional mainstream — found little change in the level of Jewish support for Mr. Obama’s handling of relations with Israel. The survey found that 55 percent approved of his handling of Israeli relations, compared with 54 percent last year.

Think Progress: Cantor’s GOP re-branding effort ‘suspended’ because of ‘relentless attacks from the left.’
In April 2009, Republican leaders, led by House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA), launched an initiative called the National Council for a New America as a “new effort to revive the image of the Republican Party.” Though Cantor and other Republican leaders promised that the organization would “listen” to the American people, they held only one townhall meeting in a pizza parlor in Arlington, VA before largely going silent. Today, Roll Call reports that the group has officially been put on ice:

Cantor aides explained that the group has been “suspended” one year after its splashy launch in part because of the intense negative attention it received from the Democratic campaign committees and other groups after its introduction.

The NCNA was intended to be a traveling forum of Republican leaders who could engage the public in a broad-ranging discussion of hot-button issues.

Cantor spokesman John Murray said despite 5,000 positive news hits, the “relentless attacks from the left” became overwhelming to the whip office soon after its launch.

“I think now, we are in a suspended state,” Murray said.

Former Cantor deputy chief of staff Rob Collins, who is now president of the American Action Network, claimed to Roll Call that Cantor’s group was hounded out because it “dominated the national media so effectively that liberals in and out of Congress — including [Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington] — attacked it.” In July 2009, CREW filed an ethics complaint against NCNA for allegedly using official House resources for political purposes. “What we wanted was for them to stop because we thought it violated the rules,” CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan told Roll Call. “I’m glad they agreed.”

Collective Insanity

NYT,comments to Fox and White House Tangle on Spill Theory
North Carolina
May 5th, 2010
12:04 am
In the years ahead--will historians look back and determine that there was a specific date when the Republican Party became completely detached from any connection whatsoever with reality--or will they conclude that it was a gradual slide into mass dementia that took place over a period of months or years?

Let's contemplate for a moment what a mammoth leap through the looking glass it would take for Heckuvajob Brownie's scenario to take place.

BP--which has compelling interests in a) minimizing the extent of the damage caused by this spill (and with it, the size of their liability) and b) not letting it become an environmental disaster so significant that offshore drilling is shutdown through the Gulf and possibly even beyond--would have had to conspire with the federal government--and agreed to spend days trying to hide the extent of the leak.

Beginning with the initial reports--FROM BP--that the oil slick surrounding the rig was simply "residual oil" from the rig--and continuing on to the subsequent reports--FROM BP--that consistently underestimated the rate of the oil leak.

Then, BP, faced with a spill that some have begun speculating could very well bankrupt the company, would have had to blithely stood by and NOT asked the federal government to step in.

The truth of the matter is the right wing--which has spent decades claiming that anything the government can do, the private sector can do better AND for less money--would have been screaming bloody murder if the government had intervened sooner.
Sensen No Sen: IOKIYAR: A Case Study
Much has been reported in recent months about the deep distrust rock-ribbed, red-meat conservatives feel for the government, and there have been no better poster children for the Tea Party movement than the states of Arizona and Oklahoma. In the Sooner State, in fact, there are efforts underway to create a militia specifically tasked with resisting what is apparently perceived by some residents as tyranny on the part of the federal government in mandating health care coverage. What to make then, of recently passed laws in these two conservative strongholds that focus on, respectively, immigration and abortion?

In John McCain's home state, the most draconian anti-immigration law in modern history was signed into law last month, and anyone merely suspected of being an illegal immigrant must - not can, must - now be stopped and required to show documentation proving that they are in the country legally. Meanwhile, in Oklahoma, direct intervention by the state into not just birth decisions by pregnant women, but medical testing and the doctor-patient relationship, has been taken to unprecedented heights. New laws there allow doctors to withhold test results showing foetal defects, require women considering abortion to answer intrusive questions (the answers to which are be posted online), mandate a vaginal ultrasound prior to terminating a pregnancy, and dictate that the mother listen to a detailed description of the foetus.

Oklahoma Governor Brad Henry, a moderate Democrat, vetoed two of these bills - the ultrasound and test results provisions - but was immediately overridden by the Oklahoma Legislature on the former. Only the intervention of Judge Noma Gurich, who signed an agreement stopping the law in order to provide time to hold a hearing on complaints about the new requirements, prevented it from going into effect immediately.

So, here we have two deeply red states, out of which has spouted considerable vitriol about government intrusion into the lives of private citizens, effectively legalizing unreasonable searches and doing everything possible to impose what amount to conservative religious beliefs on women. How does one reconcile a belief in individual liberty with support for laws that directly assault personal freedom?

As it happens, the non-partisan Pew Research Center for People and the Press released the results of a study on attitudes among Americans toward government. Compiled using results from decades of surveys, it is very interesting reading, but one point in particular stands out in stark relief:
Trust in government is typically higher among members of the party that controls the White House than among members of the “out” party. However, Republicans’ views of government change more dramatically, depending on which party holds power, than do Democrats’. Republicans are more trusting of government when the GOP holds power than Democrats are when the Democrats are in charge.
In other words, Democrats have a somewhat more favorable view of government when "their guy" is in the White House; Republicans, meanwhile, who espouse a core belief in limited government and personal liberty, demonstrate a veritable swoon of approval when the President is from the GOP. To illustrate the disparity further, consider that Democrats trusted Ronald Reagan every bit as much as they did Bill Clinton, but there isn't a single modern Democratic chief executive whom Republicans accord the trust they shower on their own.

Out in the wilds of the web is a shorthand expression: IOKIYAR - "It's OK If You're A Republican." Previously, this could be dismissed as mere internet snark, but what the new laws in Arizona and Oklahoma demonstrate - and which the Pew Research data supports - is that the GOP only dislikes government as an intrusive institution when someone else is in charge. When they hold the reins of power, Republicans appear more than happy to support state intervention into the lives of others.
The Republican effort to drive GOP moderates from their party has been picking up steam of late. Specter and Scozzafava were purged last year, and Crist was purged last week. Bob Bennett will soon be deemed insufficiently right-wing in Utah, and some more may lose in primaries today.

It prompted Robert Schlesinger to reflect today on the "Republican Purge Movement." Former Bush speechwriter Marc Thiessen, now a Washington Post columnist, thinks Schlesinger has it all wrong.

In the Washington Post today, I explain that far from a "purge movement" aimed at accumulating "RINO pelts," [South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint] is leading a carefully targeted effort to elect a handful of real conservatives who will help him fight for fiscal discipline and conservative values in the Senate.

And sure enough, Theissen's column is all about how DeMint -- arguably the Senate's most right-wing member and Thiessen's former employer -- is ignoring the party establishment and backing some of the most hardcore, rigid, far-right ideologues he can find. The party's base often approves, forcing more mainstream Republican candidates to either try to move sharply to the right, or to get pushed out of the party altogether.

But don't worry, this couldn't possibly be considered a "purge movement." Perish the thought.

As Jon Chait explained, "What, you may ask, is the difference between a purge and an insurgency designed to elect real believers in your side's ideology? Obviously, when your own party is doing it, it's the latter. When the other party does it, it's a purge. Joe Lieberman was purged. Arlen Specter was simply the loser of a targeted effort to elect a handful of real conservatives who will help fight for fiscal discipline and conservative values in the Senate."

Kathleen Parker:

But in their rush to banish all but the purest fiscal conservatives, Tea Partyers risk losing some of their strongest voices and diminishing their power in an arena where relationships matter. Bennett, for example, worked with Democrat Ron Wyden to co-sponsor his health-care proposal.

What non-ideologues may see as cooperation, however, is viewed by true believers as weakness. Any attempt at compromise is viewed as surrendering principle. Under the new order, a Good Conservative wouldn't cross the aisle to perform a Heimlich maneuver.

The long-promised purge is on, in other words, and anyone fantasizing about bipartisanship can choke on that hope.

Conservatives assert right to remain ridiculous May 4: Rachel Maddow is joined by Chris Hayes, Washington editor of The Nation, to discuss the seemingly random but nonetheless impassioned objections by conservatives to Mirandizing terror suspects and their attempts to score political points attacking American justice.

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John Cole: I Guess That Would Render Miranda Moot

Via BTD at TalkLeft, Joe Lieberman has a novel solution to handling accused terrorists:

Joe Lieberman has a creative solution: Take away their citizenship. “If you’ve joined an enemy of the United States in attacking the United States and trying to kill Americans, I think you should sacrifice your rights of citizenship,” Lieberman, an independent from Connecticut, told reporters Tuesday.

Why stop with accused terrorists? Accused pedophiles and rapists are pretty awful people, too. And people who are accused of mistreating animals. And the people who cut me off in traffic. College kids who jaywalk while wearing earphones (at least the ones Darwin doesn’t get). And old people who wait to start filling out their check at Kroger’s until they have the total (PROTIP OLD PEOPLE: IT WILL STILL BE KROGER’S AND YOUR NAME AND THE DATE WILL BE THE SAME WHEN THEY ARE DONE RINGING YOU UP). And people who have BO on the bus or train.

Actually, I might be serious about the people with BO.

If the media does not get over itself and become acquainted with the Constitution rather than getting the vapors about not having internet on Air Force One or whether or not the President insulted someone, we’re probably looking at GOP star chambers deciding who gets to keep their citizenship in 10-15 years.

Think Progress: Right-wing attendees at Heritage event applaud the idea that Obama is a ‘domestic enemy.’

This morning, House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) delivered a national security screed at the Heritage Foundation, a DC-based conservative think tank. Politicizing the recent failed terror attack in NYC, Cantor said, “America is at risk of slipping into the type of false sense of security which prevailed before that September morning.” He attacked Obama for “apolog[izing] on behalf of America” and for being “naïve.” Cantor’s hyperbolic address stirred the passions of the crowd. One attendee at the Heritage event asked Cantor why Obama should not be considered a “domestic enemy”:

QUESTION: My question is – and this is something I personally don’t understand – if it’s a naïve question then I apologize: in light of what Obama has done to leave us vulnerable, to cut defense spending, to make us vulnerable to outside enemies, and to slight our allies, how (pause) – what would he have to do differently to be defined as a domestic enemy? (applause)

CANTOR: Listen, let me respond very forthright to that: you know, no one thinks the President is a domestic enemy. (boos)

After the anonymous attendee asked his question, the crowd applauded and laughed. Cantor even smiled before responding to the question. Because he refused to call Obama a “domestic enemy,” many in the crowd treated Cantor to a smattering of boos. Watch it:

Dennis G.: Mighty White of Him…

Newt Gingrich is a ridiculous political figure, and yet he is continually presented as the “big thinker” of the Republican Party.

Now I know that there are endless numbers of folks that could, on any given day, be pointed to as the most ridiculous political figure in Wingnutopia and Newt does fade to the background from time to time. Still, when he does open his mouth, the most amazing nonsensical utterances spew out. And then this bile gets treated as ‘serious stuff’ in the Village.

Today, Jed over at Dkos caught Newt being Newt. The topic was a handful of Black Republican candidates for various offices in 2010. Why is this happening? Well, let’s let turn to what Newt told the NYTs (emphasis added):

“Things have evolved,” said Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the House, who is heavily involved in recruiting Republican candidates. “I think partly the level of hostility to Obama, Pelosi and Reid makes a lot of people pragmatically more open to a coalition from the standpoint of being a long-term majority party.”

Newt and his pals hate Obama so much that he is willing to suffer the problems that might come from letting a few token African-Americans into his party and the conservative movement. That is might white of him.

I guess I just can’t put the new logo of his Republican Confederate Party away anytime soon.

ConfederateGOP Logo


Facts, Constitution no obstacle to stunts, spin May 5: Rachel Maddow helps sort the confirmably factual aspects of the Faisal Shahzad story and the anonymously single-sourced, utterly unreliable aspects of the story. Law professor Jonathan Turley joins to discuss the Constitutionality of Senator Lieberman's proposal to strip accused terrorists of their American citizenship.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Rep. David Obey (D-Wis.) surprised much of the political world yesterday when he announced that he would not seek re-election this year, prompting a new round of questions about the midterms, momentum, and next year's Congress.

But in understanding why, exactly, Obey decided to step down, it's worth noting a remark from his retirement announcement. (via the Wonkbook)

"Frankly, I do not know what I will do next. All I do know is that there has to be more to life than explaining the ridiculous, accountability destroying rules of the Senate to confused, angry, and frustrated constituents."

Explaining his departure, Obey emphasized, "I am bone tired." Nearing 72, that's understandable. But his comment about struggling to try to explain the Senate to angry voters really is the line that warrants special attention.

It must be awfully difficult to explain to constituents why more doesn't get done in Washington. To be sure, this Congress has achieved a great deal -- arguably far more than it gets credit for, in the midst of crises and scandalous GOP obstructionism -- but much of the public still believes institutional dysfunction stands in the way of additional progress, and that belief is well founded.

But voters in general don't know or care about Senate procedure -- filibusters, cloture votes, and secret holds are obscure minutiae to most -- and haven't the foggiest idea that Republican tactics have made governing needlessly arduous.

Of course, the solution seems to be reforming how the dysfunctional Senate works, not driving good lawmakers out of Congress in frustration.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Still Getting Hotter

Ezra Klein: Why isn't Obama talking about climate change?

I've been thinking a lot about David Roberts's argument that the administration's response to the Deepwater oil spill shows it's not committed to pushing energy legislation this year. "If he was looking for an opportunity to drive home the clean energy message, this was it," Roberts writes. "The Katrina of fossil fuels. Yet all he's done is blandly reaffirm his support for offshore drilling. I haven't heard a word about clean energy alternatives or, God forbid, efficiency, which if pursued seriously could save more oil than offshore rigs could produce, at a net savings rather than a cost, and with the added bonus feature of not occasionally leaking out and destroying entire American ecosystems and industries."

You can see this two ways. The first is that the Deepwater spill is best understood as a national tragedy, and until the crisis phase is over, it would be both political suicide and simply indecent to subsume it into a larger argument about clean energy, oil dependence and climate change.

On the other hand, a five-degree centigrade rise in global temperatures will be an unbelievable global catastrophe. It will dwarf the devastation caused by the spill. And the responsible thing for Obama to do is to explain that: Dependence on fossil fuels ensures oil spills, and it also ensure a warming climate, and we need to understand the Deepwater spill as not just a tragedy, but a predictable outcome, and a harbinger of much worse. That is not politicizing a tragedy. That is being honest about what caused it, and what it means.

That said, this doesn't need to happen on Day 3. The larger argument about the need to wean ourselves off of oil can be made in a week. Allowing time for grieving and emergency response does not mean a call to action can't follow. But if one doesn't follow, then Roberts is right, and it's a sign that the White House doesn't want a discussion over oil dependence this year.

Ezra Klein:

Oil spill makes climate bill less likely: "The oil slick spreading through the Gulf of Mexico will prompt Congress to establish new regulatory, safety and technological requirements that could impede further off-shore oil drilling, the White House's top energy official said Tuesday," writes Jonathan Weisman. "But lawmakers said the catastrophic spill could further dim the White House's hopes for securing legislation aimed at reducing U.S. consumption of oil and other fossil fuels, by making it impossible to forge a compromise that includes expanded undersea drilling." Bright side: Harry Reid is taking the opposite view.
Rayfield (TPM): Chris Matthews To Michael Brown: Your Oil Spill Theories Sound 'Insane' (VIDEO)

Ex-FEMA director Michael Brown went on MSNBC today to defend his claims about the Gulf Coast oil spill, and Chris Matthews let him have it, telling him that Brown's theory that President Obama wanted the oil spill to happen makes him sound "insane."

Brown had appeared on Fox News yesterday accusing Obama of delaying the federal response to the oil spill out of "pure politics," so that he could "pander to the environmentalists" on offshore drillling "and say, 'I'm gonna shut it down because it's too dangerous.'"

In a somewhat rambling appearance on Hardball today, Brown again reiterated this:

We're seeing the Rahm Emanuel rule #1 taking effect, and that is to let no crisis go unused. So this is an opportunity for a President who wants to bankrupt the coal industry, and basically get rid of the oil and gas industry, to shut down offshore drilling.

Matthews called him out on this, asking: "Don't you know that what you're saying, to a third party, not somebody like myself or somebody like yourself listening to you, thinks that you're sounding insane?"

Brown also weirdly implied that the explosion was an act by terrorists who "don't give a rat's butt about ecology," though when asked whether there was any indication of this, he replied, "no, not yet."


Think Progress: Gibbs Chastizes Fox News For Giving A Platform To Michael Brown’s Crazy Oil Spill Conspiracy Theory

Yesterday, Fox News brought on disgraced FEMA director Michael Brown, who oversaw the Bush administration’s bungled response to Hurricane Katrina. “Brownie,” as he was affectionately known to President Bush, became famous for padding his resume to hide his almost nonexistent disaster management experience. Brown told Fox News host Neil Cavuto that the Obama administration wanted the devastating oil spill as an excuse to backtrack on its offshore drilling plan:

BROWN: And so now you’re looking at this oil slick approaching, you know, the Louisiana shore, according to certain — NOAA and other places, if the winds are right, it will go up the East Coast.

This is exactly what they want, because now he can pander to the environmentalists and say, “I’m going to shut it down because it`s too dangerous.” While Mexico and China and everybody else drills in the Gulf. We’re going to get shut down.

In today’s White House press briefing, Fox News correspondent Wendell Goler tried to ask Robert Gibbs about criticisms that this oil spill is Obama’s “Katrina” (spread by pundits like hate radio host Rush Limbaugh). Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace also raised the criticism with Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on Sunday. However, Gibbs said that he wasn’t going to answer Goler because, in light of the network allowing Brown to air his conspiracy theory without any push back, he wasn’t “entirely sure a factual answer that I might give to any one of your questions is going to change the notion that your network put out”:

GOLER: It wasn’t just Fox calling this your Katrina.

GIBBS: No, but Fox had the very special and unique interview with Michael Brown — you opened it and I had to do it — who, for those weren’t let in on the big secret, Mr. Brown — FEMA director Brown under Katrina — intimated on Fox — and it wasn’t, I will editorially say, appear to be pushed back on real hard — that this spill was leaked on purpose in order for us to walk back our environmental and drilling decisions, and that the leak that we did on purpose got out of control and now is too big to contain. So, suffice to say —

GOLER: What is Mr. Brown’s attribution?

GIBBS: I can only wish that the network that you work for asked that prior to interviewing him yesterday.

GOLER: The reporters in here asked that. So I’m asking you —

GIBBS: You should call headquarters, my friend, and ask for somebody who makes the decisions to put people like that — because I’ve got to tell you Wendall, I’m not entirely sure a factual answer that I might give to any one of your questions is going to change the notion that your network put out the former FEMA director to make an accusation that the well had been purposefully set off in order to change an offshore drilling decision.

Watch it:

It’s important to note that Brown wasn’t the only one on Fox spreading these theories. On Fox and Friends yesterday, former Bush press secretary and current Fox News contributor asked whether the oil spill was “deliberate.” Fox Business’ Eric Bolling later similarly asked, “The question is did they let this thing leak?”

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

"ill-designed tests"

Booman: No Time for Friendly Talk

Setting aside how our government would work in an ideal world, the reason that conciliatory language and efforts at bipartisanship are dangerous in our current political climate is that it creates the unwarranted assumption that the other side is offering a viable alternative. In other words, it wouldn't be the end of the world if the other side got to call the shots for two or four years. If we're not happy with how things are going, well...we have this other option...the Republicans.

Now, I know that they say the same things about us, and it sounds pretty damn extreme when they say it. But we have to be clear about something. We can go back nearly eighty years in this country and say that we've been doing things pretty much the same way all that time. Put us in charge and things won't change all that much. Things that have been gained, like ending prohibition, phasing out Jim Crow, creating a social welfare state, participating in the United Nations, legalizing contraception and abortion, expanding workplace rights and environmental protection, extending civil rights to women and gays...these things won't go away. The tax rate may go up or down, but the tax code won't be altered in any fundamental way. The relationship between the federal government and the states won't change.

Put the current crop of Republicans in charge for any sustained period of time, and almost all of those things are at risk. The modern conservative movement doesn't share our assumptions about what America is. They want to go back to the roaring 20's, or even the 1880's. So, it would be nice to say that "my good friend, the honorable Sen. Corker from Tennessee, has been working very hard and has some excellent ideas for how to improve the Wall Street reform bill," and have it actually be true. Such flattery greases the machinery of Congress...normally. But these aren't normal times, and the other side isn't playing by the same rules (or even the same game).

We're like Captain Benjamin L. Willard on the Nung River, and we've crossed into Cambodia. And they're "out there operating without any decent restraint, totally beyond the pale of any acceptable human conduct. And still in the field commanding troops."

Ladies and Gentlemen, it is an election year. And this month marks the beginning of campaign season, with many primaries coming up. I will be writing more about individual races and what's at stake, even if such threads have trouble getting a good conversation going. I hope you participate and get involved.

We have to stand on the side of reason:

Because there's a conflict in every human heart between the rational and the irrational, between good and evil. The good does not always triumph. Sometimes the dark side overcomes what Lincoln called the better angels of our nature. Every man has got a breaking point. You and I have. Walter Kurtz has reached his. And very obviously, he has gone insane.

There's no time for friendly talk.

DougJ: Arizona uber alles

More evidence that the Arizona immigration law is simply a principled conservative policy:

Don Black is a Florida-based white supremacist who is deemed so dangerous he’s banned from the UK for inciting hatred. Arizona State Senate Majority leader Chuck Gray—a proponent of the recent immigration bill—follows him on Twitter.

Also too Bobo has a strange meandering column, which by my lights, is a dipping of the toes into racial supremacist waters.

It’s coming, folks. It won’t be long now until thoughtful, intellectually honest conservatives insist that we have a free-wheeling debate about some form of racial supremacism. Hear me now, believe me later.

Only left-wing ideologues will reject the idea that ill-designed tests prove that certain groups possess less of the ill-defined quantity of intelligence.

Marshall (TPM): Annals of Etymology

Jake Tapper notes that in an interview in Jon Alter's new book The Promise President Obama refers to Tea Partiers as "tea baggers". I actually heard the president use the same phrase once, and was a little surprised myself.

Tapper writes "Tea Party activists loath the term 'tea baggers,' which has emerged in liberal media outlets and elsewhere as a method of mocking the activists and their concerns."

But this isn't true, though a number of conservative pressure groups have tried to claim as much. The phrase "tea bagger" was originally a coinage of the Tea Party folks themselves. Their opponents picked it up from them after they chose it and continued using it after the right-wing activists ditched it in favor of "Tea Partier" since 'tea bagger' can be taken as a reference to a particular sexual practice.

When reports in the early evening said federal authorities believe Saturday's attempted car bomber in Times Square "did not act alone and had ties to radical elements overseas," it came as something of a surprise. After all, we've come to expect at least some degree of sophistication when it comes international terrorist plots.

And Saturday night's car bomb was not sophisticated. The device itself was crude and ineffective. The driver neglected to remove the vehicle identification numbers. The truck included more than 100 pounds of fertilizer that wouldn't explode. Even the propane tanks hadn't been prepared properly.

What's more, the attempted terrorist (or terrorists) left plenty of clues about his identity. A former NYPD bomb squad detective said, "He was trying to cover his tracks, but he left more clues than a guy walking into a bank to rob it without a mask."

Late last night, about 48 hours after the attempted bombing, authorities apprehended Faisal Shahzad as he attempted to flee the country.

Federal agents and police detectives arrested a Connecticut man, a naturalized United States citizen from Pakistan, shortly before midnight Monday for driving a car bomb into Times Square on Saturday evening in what turned out to be an unsuccessful attack, Justice Department officials announced. [...]

Mr. Shahzad was taken into custody at Kennedy Airport as he tried to board a flight to Dubai, U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said in an early morning statement delivered at the Justice Department in Washington. Charges against Mr. Shahzad, who had returned recently from a trip to Pakistan, were not announced, but he was expected to be charged Tuesday in federal court.

The investigation will, of course, continue, given that the suspected terrorist likely had accomplices. Of particular significance are questions about Shahzad's overseas contacts, and yesterday, control of the investigation shifted to the Joint Terrorism Task Force, a multiagency group led by the Justice Department.

This is obviously a story that's still unfolding, and if recent history is any guide, conservatives are going to start complaining incessantly about whether Shahzad has been Mirandized, whether he'll face charges in U.S. courts, and with demands that he be tortured immediately. GOP rhetoric is already tiresome, and it hasn't even started yet.

But before all of that gets started, now seems like a good time to applaud the exceptional work of law-enforcement officials at every level, from the cop on horseback who first smelled gunpowder to the federal agents who put the suspect in handcuffs last night. This was an exceedingly impressive display.


Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) doesn't want Faisal Shahzad, the suspect in the failed car bombing in Times Square, to be Mirandized. Neither does Rep. Pete King (R-N.Y.).

"Did they Mirandize him? I know he's an American citizen but still," King said.

"But still"? What does that mean, exactly?

Keep in mind, King will be the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee next year if Republicans retake the House majority.

Come to think of it, there are a few other things to keep in mind. First, as a practical matter, we know that the Mirandizing suspects does not undermine our national security interests. For decades, this wasn't even a subject open to debate until Republicans decided last year this might be exploited politically to confused scared voters.

Second, on Fox News this morning, both Glenn Beck and Andrew Napolitano supported following the law and Mirandizing Shahzad. Congratulations, John McCain and Pete King, you're now slightly less reasonable than Fox News personalities.

Third, as Matt Yglesias noted, reading a suspect his/her rights isn't just some nicety: "[T]o give [a suspect] the death penalty, or indeed any penalty, you need to put him on trial. Which is to say you need to prove that the guy in custody is actually responsible for the crime. And the whole reason cops mirandize suspects is that if you don't, you risk having your evidence thrown out of court. If you gather all the information before mirandizing, you could be throwing the whole thing into doubt. Which is why professionals give out the warning."

And finally there's this important contextual observation from Adam Serwer: "Yesterday, when the primary suspect in the attempted bombing of Times Square was a middle-aged white guy, Republican leaders were the picture of calm, sober leadership. High-ranking Republicans on committees related to national security like Pete Hoekstra and Peter King urged people not to jump to conclusions, while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell praised New Yorkers for not succumbing to fear.... That was yesterday."

  • John Cole adds:

    “I know he’s and American citizen, but still” really says it all, doesn’t it?

    Half our political leadership wants a banana Republic, and our media is just treating it like it is another opinion. At what point do we start calling these people what they are?

    And I just don’ know what to say about the obviously insane John McCain. You would think that someone who spent half a decade in a cage with no rights whatsoever in the defense of this nation and our laws and legal tradition and way of life, would have the slightest bit of respect for the rule of law. You would, of course, be wrong.

What Captain Josh, Cole, and Steve said ...

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John Cole: I’m Moving to Canada

I can’t take it anymore:

The ferocious oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico is threatening President Barack Obama’s reputation for competence, just as surely as it endangers the Gulf ecosystem.

So White House aides are escalating their efforts to reassure Congress and the public in the face of a slow-motion catastrophe, even though it’s not clear they can bring it under control anytime soon.

“There is no good answer to this,” one senior administration official said. “There is no readily apparent solution besides one that could take three months. ... If it doesn’t show the impotence of the government, it shows the limits of the government.”

Hope and change was Obama’s headline message in 2008, but those atop his campaign have always said that it was Obama’s cool competence — exemplified by his level-headed handling of the financial meltdown during the campaign’s waning days — that sealed the deal with independents and skeptical Democrats. The promise of rational, responsive and efficient government is Obama’s brand, his justification for bigger and bolder federal interventions and, ultimately, his rationale for a second term.

That’s Mike Allen and Glenn Thrush in the Politico, sneering that Obama’s “Hope and Change” 2008 slogan hasn’t plugged the worst oil spill in world history.

Assholes. I don’t think it is fair to the rest of us, but these douchebags in the beltway media deserve to live in a world ruled by Sarah Palin and Bill Kristol.

  • from the comments:


    Hope and change was Obama’s headline message in 2008, but those atop his campaign have always said that it was Obama’s cool competence — exemplified by his level-headed handling of the financial meltdown during the campaign’s waning days — that sealed the deal with independents and skeptical Democrats.

    I totally agree. Never more than today do I wish we’d gone with the “Drill, Baby, Drill” crowd. Their rationality and level-headedness would have capped that leak in the liberal tree-hugger media and kept this oil spill from turning into a massive headache for a proud, All-American capitalist enterprise like British Petroleum.

The lead headline at The New Republic this morning reads, "Is Dick Cheney To Blame for the Oil Spill? Signs Point to Yes." Well, that's an attention grabber.

The piece is from William Galston, hardly a liberal firebrand, and it's worth a look. Of particular interest, it notes that the Deepwater Horizon rig did not have a remote-control acoustic shutoff switch, routinely used by rigs elsewhere. Why the switch wasn't there is what matters.

As the Wall Street Journal, reports, after a spill in 2000, the [Minerals Management Service] issued a safety notice saying that such a back-up device is "an essential component of a deepwater drilling system." The industry pushed back in 2001, citing alleged doubts about the capacity of this type of system to provide a reliable emergency backup. By 2003, government regulators decided that the matter needed more study after commissioning a report that offered another, more honest reason: "acoustic systems are not recommended because they tend to be very costly." I guess that depends on what they're compared to.

The system costs about $500,000 per rig. BP is spending at least $5 million per day battling the spill, the well destroyed by the explosion is valued at $560 million, and estimated damages to fishing, tourism, and the environment already run into the billions.

The Minerals Management Service is the part of the Interior Department responsible for offshore drilling. Towards the end of the Clinton administration, MMS officials wanted rigs to have the acoustic shutoff switches, but by 2003, the agency had changed direction.

What happened in those three years? Well, for one thing, the MMS in the Bush/Cheney era became one of the most corrupt government agencies in American history. The Minerals Management Service proudly embraced an anything-goes atmosphere that led to literally Caligula-like corruption and debauchery -- federal officials traded cocaine and sex for lucrative oil contracts, for example.

For another, Dick Cheney's secretive energy task force concluded that $500,000 for remote shutoff was simply too great a burden, and the former V.P. and his team didn't want to force BP and other oil companies to spend the money.

I realize the White House is generally reluctant to blame the failed previous administration for the messes President Obama has to clean up, but when the oil-soaked shoe fits....
Marshall (TPM): Revenge Of Brownie!

Former FEMA Director Michael "Brownie" Brown is accusing President Obama of intentionally waiting until the Gulf oil spill became truly catastrophic because he wanted an excuse to shut down offshore drilling.

See the video.

Kurtz (TPM): How It Works

TPM Reader MS, with a perceptive take on "Heckuva Job" Brownie's comments and those like his:

Every time you hear a Republican say, "Obama's response to Deepwater was late because ... he hates drilling ... he's in the pocket of Big Green ... he's an Islamic sleeper ... he blew up that oil rig ..." just focus on that first part, "Obama's response was late".

That's what they're really trying to push here, the notion that -- like Bush's response to Katrina -- Obama responded too little, too late to Deepwater. While everyone is focused on the insanity of the claims ("Brownie said WHAT? Are you kidding??"), less noticed is the fact that that first part -- "Obama was late" -- is being taken for granted and stepped past to the next question, why he was late.

The insane is being used as a Trojan horse to bring in the factually incorrect.

My mind is still open to the federal government, including the White House, having been slow or ineffectual in responding to the spill. But while we work to determine those facts, MS's assessment is worth keeping in mind.

Paul Krugman warned us last week, explaining that conservatives would come up with some creative arguments to blame the BP oil spill disaster in the Gulf on President Obama, his allies, or both.

Rush Limbaugh did his part on Thursday, suggesting that explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig may have had something to do with "hardcore environmentalist whackos" and the timing of Senate movement on a cap-and-trade bill.

Fox News, specifically "Fox & Friends," took the crazy ball and ran with it this morning, suggesting that sabotage and politics may have been involved. Based on what, exactly? A combination of blind partisanship, overactive imaginations, and conspicuous unintelligence.

Perino: "[W]as this deliberate?" On the May 3 broadcast of Fox News' Fox & Friends, Fox News contributor Dana Perino said of the spill: "I'm not trying to introduce a conspiracy theory, but was this deliberate? You have to wonder...if there was sabotage involved."

Bolling falsely claimed it was "nine days before" the leak "was even addressed" and asked, "Did they let this thing leak? ... if they're going to try and pull drilling, that may be the way they do it." On the same broadcast of Fox & Friends, Fox Business Network host Eric Bolling said: "The question is ... why the delay in the response? You guys were pointing out, nine days before it was even addressed, 12 days before he made a formal comment. The question is, did they let this thing leak? I mean, BP said maybe a thousand barrels a day, it went to five thousand. Did they let it leak a little bit and say, boy I don't know. The conspiracy theorists would say, 'maybe they'd let it leak for a while, and then they addressed the issue.'" Bolling added: "That would be a humongous accusation and probably the net result would be no different, but if they're going to try and pull drilling, that may be the way they do it."

I'm trying to decide which of the two bizarre media personalities was dumber. Bolling seems to have the edge.

Perino's comments were, to be sure, entertaining. In one breath, she's not "trying to introduce a conspiracy theory," and in the next breath, viewers "have to wonder" if her baseless conspiracy theory is true.

But Bolling enjoys the edge because his "analysis" (I use the word loosely) combines several layers of stupidity. Not only was he carelessly throwing around insane speculation about events he doesn't understand, but Bollling tops it off by asking why there was a "delay in the response," when in Grown-Up Land, there was no delay in the response.

Of course, GOP conspiracy theories, no matter how insane, don't have to make sense; they don't have to withstand scrutiny; they don't even have to be persuasive. They just have to be repeated. In this case, we see pure nonsense start on Limbaugh's show, and then work their way to Fox News. One can only assume other Republican outlets, assuming they cover the oil spill at all, will soon start reporting that "some say" politically-motivated sabotage may have been involved.

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Crazification of America


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C&L: It Would Be Irresponsible Not To Speculate. Was Bomber A Fan Of The Beckster?

You know, I don't want to jump to conclusions here, because that would make me too much like Matt Drudge. But if the car bomber was indeed a white guy in his 40s who didn't know the difference between ammonium nitrate and plain old fertilizer, I'm thinking it's gotta be a Beck Patriot who was trying to water the tree of liberty with... the blood of random Times Square tourists.

I mean, it's just their kind of logic:

Law enforcement officials offered a more detailed description of the makeup of the failed car bomb found in Times Square on Saturday night, and said they were reviewing surveillance footage that showed a white man who appeared to be in his 40s walking away from the area as he looked over his shoulder and removed a layer of clothing.

Raymond W. Kelly, the police commissioner, said the materials found in the Nissan Pathfinder — gasoline, propane, firecrackers and simple alarm clocks — also included eight bags of a granular substance, later determined to be nonexplosive grade of fertilizer, inside a 55-inch-tall metal gun locker.

The bomb, Mr. Kelly said, “would have caused casualties, a significant fireball.” He added, “I don’t think we can label it at this time crude or not.”

Let's see: wrong kind of fertilizer. Shut-off propane tanks. Someone who's not all that bright, or good with details? Someone who apparently modeled his bomb on those of infamous bombmaker Wile E. Coyote?

Ah, maybe I'm wrong. Maybe it's a Limbaugh listener.

Nachum at Free Republic thinks otherwise:

To me, it sounds like a liberal charade to take the heat off Barack and put it on the tea partiers.

Brilliant thinks someone's being framed:

They are going to hang this failed bomb on some fat, white guy who was allegedly seen at a Tea Party rally. The construction of the device was so botched it seems almost like a set up and some sad nutter was talked into driving it to Times Square. I know, you think I wear a tin foil hat to bed, but I really don’t trust our present government.

Yes, the rest of the freepers are insisting the perpetrator must be a white man who's a convert to Islam.

I swear to God, I do not Make. This. Stuff. Up. I don't have to.

mistermix: Lessons From a Misspent Youth

According to the Times, the Times Square bomb was made up of a couple of propane tanks and five-gallon tanks of gas, and some “consumer-grade” M-88’s that fizzled and started the car upholstery on fire, thus alerting bystanders. (CNN also says that there was some “non-explosive fertilizer”.)

A “M-88” is a wanna-be M-80. Because I was a useless little shit as a kid, I’ve lit many M-80s, as well as a huge number of various wanna-bes, all of which were smuggled across the Mexican border in my and my brothers’ pockets. The M-80 has a thick fuse, is hard to light, sparks a lot after it is lit, and it tends to fizzle right at the base where the fuse enters the body of the firecracker. We’d often put the fizzled M-80 in a pool of gasoline in an overturned metal garbage can lid, and light that gas on fire. Even then, it would take a few minutes for the M80 to go off.

The reason that my brothers and I still have our limbs isn’t just dumb luck. The M-80 made a big boom, but it was remarkably weak. The most damage I’ve ever seen one do is to take a little bit off the top of an antpile. The “consumer grade” M-88 (we called them “M-100’s”) have roughly the same amount of explosive as a standard “Black Cat” firecracker.

As for the real explosive in this mix, propane, there’s a reason why we don’t hear about explosions at backyard cookouts—those cylinders are well-engineered. Mythbusters just aired an episode where they attempted to make a propane cylinder explode in a fire. It’s essentially impossible, since propane cylinders have pressure-relief valves, which vent the propane rather than allowing an explosion. Even after disabling this device, which involved some skill with metalworking tools, the Mythbusters crew had to heat the tank for some minutes over an extremely powerful gas burner to get it to explode. I can’t imagine a scenario where a burning car in the middle of Times Square wouldn’t be extinguished before even a properly modified propane cylinder would explode.

So, let’s review the bidding. Apparently, the masterminds behind this device lacked the experience of a ten-year-old boy, since they didn’t know that M-80s tend to fizzle and can’t blow up shit. And they must not get basic cable, otherwise they would have put a hell of a lot more gas in that car to get those tanks to explode quicker. But they are clearly public relations geniuses, because the attention they’re getting is way out of proportion to their bomb-making skills.

Sully: The Times Square Bomb

Chait's view of the attempted car bombing in Times Square:

Rushing to take credit for a bungled attack is fairly pathetic. It's another piece of evidence of al Qaeda's severely degraded capability of launching attacks on American soil, where leaving a smoke-filled car in Manhattan is an operation worth boasting about. The Christmas bombing likewise failed on account of miserably low quality.

Yglesias's question:

I don’t quite get why this is prompting so much less freaking-out than the Christmas underpants bomber did. Both seem on a par to me — amateurish failures that seem to indicate that whichever people might be inclined to kill American civilians don’t have much in the way of capacity. Is the country learning? Maturing? Or is it just that airplane-related incidents have some special grasp on the public imagination?


Those right-wing policymakers in Arizona sure have been busy lately.

The Arizona state Senate on Thursday passed a bill making it illegal for a person to "intentionally or knowingly creating a human-animal hybrid."

The bill, which passed 16 to 12, would prohibit anyone in the state from "creating or attempting to create an in vitro human embryo by any means other than fertilization of a human egg by a human sperm."

This concept rose to national prominence in 2006, when then-President George W. Bush used his State of the Union address to urge Congress to pass legislation curbing what he considered "egregious abuses of medical research." Among the threats in need of a legislative remedy? A ban on "creating human-animal hybrids."

This has generated a fair amount of mockery, and for good reason, but there's a serious angle to this. The kind of effort Arizona is now pushing may have serious consequences for medical researchers. Indeed, when far-right activists talk about banning "human-animal hybrids," they're often trying to make a sweeping ban on stem-cell research, which can involve mouse cells.

What's more, research that may fall under the "human-animal hybrid" umbrella includes some potentially life-saving science. I spoke to a scientist last year who explained, "For example, it is currently unclear just how certain viruses spread in a person. Animal models are the preferred method of studying such things (for obvious reasons) but many pathogens are species restricted, meaning you cannot infect a mouse with them. By generating a mouse that carries genes to make what are effectively human cells (molecularly, and only a specific subset of cells, such as liver cells, or immune cells) these experiments can be done. Legislation banning such research has profound implications for our ability to stay competitive in the world in terms of basic research, not to mention in terms of medical developments."

It's not just Arizona -- Louisiana passed a similar measure last year -- and Republicans in Congress have touted the "Human-Animal Hybrid Prohibition Act," which will likely get a more significant push if there's a GOP majority next year.

C&L: Next up from Arizona: How about Governor Joe Arpaio?

If you think things are getting crazy in Arizona, just wait. They're just getting started.

As Adam Weinstein at Mother Jones reports, Crazy Sheriff Joe Arpaio is getting set to run for Gov. Jan Brewer's seat.

And he's already the runaway favorite for the GOP nomination:

He made arresting Latinos fashionable and, after many run-ins with the feds over such practices, was likely the main inspiration behind Arizona's new immigration code. In short, Brewer felt she had to sign last week's immigration bill, because she felt Arpaio's breath on her neck. She had to appear as tough on brown people as Arpaio does, lest he decide to challenge her in the GOP primary.

So she signed it. And guess what? Arpaio's still going to run against her. Sources in the sheriff's department, which will likely double as his campaign staff (no new thing there), say his paperwork's filed. And on his Twitter account - where you can read about his Washington Post interview today, or his "crime suppression/illegal immigration" operations briefings, or his anger about "out of town critics" - he recently tweeted that his wife wants him to run. And he's already the frontrunner in Arizona Republicans' minds.

So why not run? What does he have to fear? Latino turnout in the Phoenix metro area? Problem solved!

Here, then, is to Arizona: one of the prettiest states in the union, soon to be the first breakaway republic in the new confederacy of Inner America.

According to the Tucson Sentinel, current polling shows him handily beating Brewer:

Although Arpaio, the Maricopa County Sheriff, is not running for governor, he is by far the most popular Republican in the state.

Likely primary voters view him favorably at 70 percent, to only 22 percent with a negative opinion, and he leads Brewer 33-25 as a prospective candidate.

All this news was put in perspective, perhaps, by the neo-Nazis from the National Socialist Movement who showed up today at an Arpaio press event -- he was announcing his handpicked nominee for the county prosecutor's spot -- and told reporters:

"Sheriff Joe is endorsing this candidate, and we feel strongly to support Sheriff Joe and his actions," the man said, "particularly with the illegal immigration situation here in Maricopa County and in our state."

As you can see from the report, Arpaio plans to announce his intentions in the governor's race today.

Both Arpaio and his puppet denied having anything to do with the NSM's presence; Arpaio even hinted that they had been sent out by opponents to try and discredit him politically.

But that doesn't exactly wash, particularly not in Sheriff Joe's case. Because Arpaio has been all too happy to court support from outright neo-Nazis in the past. Check out the video below, from a year ago:

As you can see, Arpaio can't claim ignorance: the men he posed with were displaying neo-Nazi flags and symbols. A little further down the road, he did the same thing with a group of people openly waving a Confederate flag.

Indeed, Stephen Lemons of the Phoenix New Times uncovered a working relationship between Arpaio's office and a clutch of local neo-Nazis.

Meanwhile, if you want to get an idea of the Arpaio approach to governance -- a preview of his governorship, as it were -- all you have to do is look at his record:

-- As Sheriff, his emphasis on immigration has gutted his office's ability to enforce the law, especially when it comes to investigating violent crime.

-- His office has been under steady legal attack (which has proved extremely costly) for rampant racial profiling and assorted civil rights violations, such as the time he forced a legal immigrant to give birth in shackles.

-- If you have the audacity to criticize him at public meetings, his deputies will arrest you.

-- Indeed, all of his critics, both in the press and in public office, have found themselves arrested by Arpaio's deputies -- a practice that has produced an FBI corruption investigation into his practices.

-- The ongoing DOJ investigation into all of these matters finally prompted ICE to strip him of all immigration enforcement powers.

Yep, looks like Arizona Republicans have another winner on their hands. A Governor Arpaio -- who does a mighty fine George Wallace imitation -- will complete the transformation of Arizona into an Old South segregationist state.

Unsurprisingly, here's Limbaugh:

"The carbon tax bill, cap and trade, that was scheduled to be announced on Earth Day," Limbaugh said, arguing that "hardcore environmentalist wackos" were opposed to its allowances for more nuclear power and more offshore drilling.

"What better way to head off more oil drilling, nuclear plants, than by blowing up a rig?" he rhetorically asked. "I'm just, I'm just noting the timing here."

Sargent: Sue Lowden’s Republican Rival Attacks Chickens For Checkups

Sue Lowden’s chickens-for-checkups gaffe is no longer just fodder for Dems and pointy-headed east coast talk show hosts. Her Republican rival is now officially making it an issue in the Nevada GOP Senate primary.

Danny Tarkanian, who runs a real estate business and is challenging Lowden, launched his first direct chickens-for-checkups attack on Lowden today, pointing to it as proof that she doesn’t have what it takes to take on Harry Reid in a general election.

The occasion for this move: Lowden gave an interview to a local TV station on chickens-for-checkups that has only landed her deeper in the manure. In attempting to explain herself, she looked a bit like a chicken who had begun to cross the road only to realize a truck was bearing down on her.

The Tarkanian campaign is circulating video of the interview in an email that says: “Watch this video and ask yourself if Sue Lowden is prepared to run against Harry Reid.” Watch:

In other chicken news, Research 2000 has now done a poll for DailyKos on chickens for checkups, and found that a huge majority of Nevadans, 81%, thinks bartering chickens for health care is not a realistic way to bring down costs. Sixty-one percent of Republicans reject chickens for checkups, too.

In other words, chickens for checkups is sinking in with GOP primary voters. The fact that her primary rival is making it an issue ensures that this saga will continue indefinitely.

GOP split by its own wedge issue April 29: Rachel Maddow contrasts reactions by prominent Republicans to Arizona's new immigration law, including some politicians too afraid of the controversy to take a position.

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It's a shame the month is about to end, because Dennis G.'s CHM series has been fabulous . . .
Dennis G.: Confederate History Month: The Feds decide to help…

ConfederateGOP Logo

It is so like the Federal Government to bigfoot in and spoil the fun of the Republican Confederate Party as they celebrate Confederate History Month. I’m sure they’ll blame this on Obama, but it seems that the National Archives is interjecting themselves into the CHM thing by launching an interactive exhibit called “Discovering the Civil War.”

The WP offers an early review:

The show proceeds thematically rather than chronologically. It raises large questions—What led to the secession of the South? Were there efforts to avoid war?—and then offers documents that should help visitors form answers. Early in the exhibition, viewers confront what might be called the Southern-apologist listening station, where you can both read, and listen to, a document laying out South Carolina’s reasons for secession. After some boilerplate language about the Constitution comes reason No. 1: The right to property, which for South Carolina included the right to human chattel, had been infringed.

There it is, in black and white, and coming at you through a very 1980s hand-held listening device: Slavery is the cause—the essential, primary, undeniable first and sufficient cause for the war. While much of the exhibition aims at nuance and complexity, this should be sufficient to unmask the old masquerade about what the South was fighting for. Efforts to make it seem problematic and complex are all too often part of a nostalgia game, nostalgia for a time when every white Southern man had a God-given right to be a racist, if he so chose.

Looks like the Civil War Sesquicentennial Celebrations will put CHM to shame and provide endless reasons for Republican Confederate Party outrage. Should be fun.

Think Progress: Gingrich’s ‘Drill Here, Drill Now’ campaign continues as oil rig disaster grows.

The Earth Day oil rig disaster that began with an explosion that claimed 11 lives is becoming an ecological catastrophe. The Coast Guard has set some of the West-Virginia-sized oil slick ablaze, even as it grows by thousands of barrels a day. Although this deadly catastrophe calls into question the pro-drilling campaigns by the oil industry and its conservative allies, the propaganda continues. In 2008, Newt Gingrich began American Solutions for Winning the Future (ASWF), the casino-funded 527 that used the slogan “Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less” to promote the false idea that new offshore drilling could lower gas prices. On its website, Gingrich’s ASWF is continuing its petition while reporting on the inevitable consequences of dependence on dirty oil:

Drill Here, Oil Spill

Similarly, other oil-industry front groups — American Petroleum Institute, Energy Tomorrow, Institute for Energy Research, Americans for Prosperity, Heritage Foundation, and the Institute for 21st Century Energy — are still promoting increased drilling and attacking green economy legislation that would reduce our dependence on oil. (HT Wonkette)

Yglesias: Ben Nelson and Berkshire Hathaway

Rachel Slajda flags Ben Nelson’s curious outburst against critics of his apparently Buffet-motivated filibuster of financial regulatory reform:

To be absolutely clear, I did not vote no because of Berkshire Hathaway. Nor did the fact that I and my wife have owned Berkshire stock for 30+ years have anything to do with my vote. It has never been an issue. It isn’t now,” he said in a statement. “I voted no because of concerns about what is in the underlying bill drafted by Senator Dodd.”

He said he did support the exemption Berkshire wanted, as a matter of policy. To force existing contracts to conform to new rules, he said, would be unconstitutional.

So he wanted the same think Berkshire wanted, and he owns shares in Berkshire, and Berkshire is located in his home state, and he filibustered the bill, but he didn’t filibuster the bill because of Berkshire’s concerns. It’s just a big coincidence. Now we’re clear.

Meanwhile, the rule in question is clearly constitutional. In fact, if it were unconstitutional it probably wouldn’t bother Warren Buffet so much. He’s concerned precisely because the law would be enforced and he doesn’t want to comply with it.