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."

Friday, June 18, 2010

"they're mad he's not bailing BP out. "

mistermix: Accountability Makes Us Vaguely Uncomfortable

This morning’s New York Times thumbsucker about Obama’s “arm twisting” of BP is a masterpiece of pussyfooting, takebacks and special pleading for corporations. It’s full of passages like this:

The Wall Street executives who needed the government to prop them up, but still thought their services were worth millions a year, were cast by Mr. Obama as a shameless privileged class. Toyota was described as seeking profits over safety; Wellpoint, the insurance giant, was castigated for seeking to insulate itself from the new health care legislation by taking actions that the law will soon prohibit.

Obviously, Wall Street wasn’t shameless and privileged until Obama called them that. Similarly, the problem with Toyota wasn’t that its cars were killing people, it was his description of how their cars were killing people.

The conclusion of this piece is equally risible. Obama must be very careful about delicate corporate feelings, otherwise we risk the following:

[...][H]e will have to avoid painting with such a broad brush that foreign and domestic investors come to view the United States as a too risky place to do business, a country where big mistakes can lead to vilification and, perhaps, bankruptcy.

In short, our best bet is to act like some third world shithole that bends over backwards to get a little corporate investment, no matter what the cost.

It’s no coincidence that this front-page news analysis piece was written the Times’ chief Washington correspondent, David Sanger. For the DC Press Corpse, the “rule of law” is a quaint notion that went out at the turn of the century.

  • from the comments:


    You forgot this one:

    With that display of raw arm-twisting, Mr. Obama reinvigorated a debate about the renewed reach of government power, or, alternatively, the power of government overreach.

    Obama is a bully! It wasn’t just arm-twisting, it was raw arm-twisting. He’s not just a bully, he’s a mean, cruel, powerful bully too.

Maddow get's it right.

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

Ezra Klein
Ben Nelson, Joe Lieberman, and every Republican in the Senate voted to filibuster the jobs bill, reports Lori Montgomery: "Democrats believed they had secured the votes of at least two Republicans: Sens. Olympia J. Snowe (Maine) and Scott Brown (Mass.). But any deal unraveled during a long day of talks Thursday, leaving Democrats frustrated and perplexed. 'We thought we had enough votes to pass this,' Reid told reporters, adding that Lieberman had been prepared to come on board. He and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) said they would regroup Friday. But aides said the path forward would not become clear until next week at the earliest."
It's an election year, and the economy remains the issue at the top of voters' priority list. It stands to reason that lawmakers would want to take modest steps to improve the economy and prevent job losses.

But reason has been deemed irrelevant in much of the Senate, where sacrificing workers and the unemployed over long-term deficit fears is somehow perceived as wise.

The Senate effectively rejected a slimmed-down package of jobless benefits and state aid late Thursday, rebuffing President Obama's call for urgent action to bolster the economic recovery. [...]

Democratic leaders, who had predicted victory less than 24 hours earlier, vowed not to give up on the measure, but acknowledged that they have no clear path to securing the one or two Republican votes needed to push it to final passage. Though the sprawling package contains a number of must-pass provisions, Republicans have been steadfast in their opposition, insisting that the full cost of the measure be covered by cutting existing government programs.

If the Senate had been allowed to vote on the measure, it would have passed. But Republicans kept up their scandalous habit of filibustering literally every proposal of any significance, leading to a 56 to 40 vote. (Sens. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) and Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) voted with Republicans, who unanimously opposed the bill.) Because the Senate is ridiculous, 40 votes trumps 56.

Note that Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) did not switch his vote for procedural reasons, which means that the economic aid package is, for now, dead.

In real-world terms, this means more than a million unemployed Americans will stop receiving assistance next week, and aid states are counting to prevent massive layoffs won't arrive.

The Senate had a choice: worry about the deficit or worry about higher unemployment. For reasons that defy common sense, the Senate chose the former -- as if the deficit will improve when more Americans are out of work.

The Democratic majority really can't let this stand. As a policy matter, Republicans' neo-Hooverism will cause widespread suffering. As a political matter, it's Dems who'll be blamed when unemployment gets worse. (It's unpleasant to think about, but it may be time for a discussion about whether GOP lawmakers are trying to deliberately sabotage the economy to help their midterm election strategy.)

Ideally, the Democratic leadership would keep bringing this up, every day, shining a light on exactly what Republicans are doing here.

Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Reid are scheduled to meet today to discuss their next steps. Stay tuned.

Booman: Stupid Republicans
The conservative/Tea Party movement has finally found something they actually believe the federal government should do. They should shelter BP and pay some of the costs of Gulf of Mexico disaster.

Giving the opening statement for Republicans at today's BP hearing, Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.), the ranking member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, vigorously defended the company in the wake of Wednesday's compromise on an escrow fund to pay for damages from its broken oil well in the Gulf of Mexico.

"It is a tragedy of the first proportion that a private corporation can be subjected to what I would characterize as a shakedown," said Barton, "in this case a $20 billion shakedown."

Barton, who holds a safe seat in Texas, is saying what the leading edge of tea partyers and conservatives are saying -- no matter whether it's good politics, his first worry about the response to the disaster is that it will empower the federal government. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) said this to me on Tuesday, and Dick Armey said it to me yesterday when I told him about the $20 billion compromise.

They're still upset that Obama rescued the auto industry and, thus, the 'way of life' for the people of the Great Lakes. They hoped to crush the unionized auto workers. They spewed a bunch of nonsense about Obama taking over private industries and they inhaled their own fumes. Now they claim Obama is taking over the oil industry when, in actuality, he is declining to do so. In reality, they're mad he's not bailing BP out.

Yin and Yang

Rachel: Oil independence a myth
Rachel Maddow explains that energy independence is a misnomer because oil drilled in America doesn't stay in American, it goes to the world market with all the rest of the oil in the world.

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

And here is the opposition, Rep. Barton, who doesn't even understand continental drift. :

Thursday, June 17, 2010

What John & Mike Said!

John Cole: This

1000 times this:

I think the frustration that supporters of the president have (at least it is for me) is that his critics give him credit for nothing. NOTHING.

He gets a health care reform bill passed that is sweeping in scope and more than anyone has done in decades. And the left-wing critics say “Not enough.”

He gets a stimulus bill passed that pretty much kept a massive recession from getting worse and all the left-wing critics said was “Not enough.”

He’s on the verge of getting DADT repealed through law as opposed to using a reversible executive order and all the left-wing critics say is “Not enough.”

He gives a speech that talks about peak oil, points out how government corruption played a role and begins to lay out the way forward towards an alternative energy future and all the left-wing critics say is “Not enough” while having orgasms to Rachael Maddow’s satisfying-but-completely unrealistic “Fake President” speech.

Never mind Lily Leadbetter, killing the F-22 (something BUSH couldn’t do), expanding SCHIP, credit card reform, tobacco regulation…but no, it’s not enough. It’s NEVER enough with some people.

There is legit criticism to be made when it comes to President Obama, especially in the civil rights arena. But to hear the WATBs on the left tell it, he hasn’t done a damn thing. And that is simply not true.

And when you point that out, you are hippie-punching or just an O-bot and not a critical thinker. And he managed to do all this without ANY help from the Republicans and minimal help from the Blue Dogs, all while dealing with a childish media (Is he smoking? Does he hate the womyn folks because he won’t shoot hoops with them? Is he angry enough?) and a left-flank that thinks teaming up with Grover Norquist and echoing Republican talking points is moving the fucking Overton Window.

You point out the fact that this is the most successful Democratic Presidency in my lifetime and all you hear is but, but but… He didn’t get single payer!

And now this thread will rapidly become populated with WATB telling me I’m just as in the tank for Obama as I was for Republicans and that I hate the left and that I’m showing my authoritarian Republican roots and, oh, forget it. You know the damned drill. If I were a tough manly man like Keith Olbermann, a fierce and independent thinker who alone has the insight, bravery and knowledge to criticize the President, I’d just pre-emptively shut this blog down because you just know some anonymous commenter is going to say something mean on the internet and break my heart.

All I know is that if Obama doesn’t stop the oil leak with his massive Kenyan penis and then give a rousing FDR/Trumanesque speech delivered using a grade 7.5 language level that gives Chris Matthews a blue-vein hard-on and then personally scrubs every drop of oil from the gulf without hurting BP’s profits and making sure every oil worker has a job, I’m out. I mean, come on. That isn’t asking too much, is it? And why don’t we have gay marriage and a cure for cancer? What a loser! If only he hadn’t turned off his progressive base, all this could happen. Ed Schultz told me so.

And he better wear a flag lapel pin while doing it.

*** Update ***

Here’s what we’re dealing with:

Obama gives a speech on energy, but can’t bring himself to say “climate change.”

Beyond parody.

Heather (C&L): Papantonio: We Wouldn't See $20 Billion in a Case Like This for Decades

Ed Schultz wonders if BP's commitment to "make the small people" whole again will still be there three years from now. Mike Papantonio thinks that it was smart of President Obama to get a $20 billion down payment on the commitment instead of waiting for them to slow walk everyone in the courts.

Papantonio: We wouldn't see $20 billion in a case like this, all you've got to do is look at Exxon, it would be decades before the legal system would be able to render anything close.

...It's unprecedented to have a leader that says we don't trust you and we want your money now. To do this in the legal system is almost impossible. You can't go back and find an example of this kind of leadership yielding this kind of money in any legal setting in America.

Pap had a lot of praise for President Obama's speech and for the actions he's taking now. I don't care about speeches. I care about what action he takes and getting this oil contained and cleaned up. This was definitely a step in the right direction but there's a long way to go.

Tearing the social contract apart

Christopher Hayes:

Aside from the practical consequences of altering the incentive structure, the Exxon case and other statutory caps on liability present a deeper threat to the American moral fabric. Set against the increasingly punitive posture of the state toward its citizens over the past several decades, the arbitrary limits on punishment available to a party like Exxon make a mockery of equal justice under the law. Our criminal justice system is the most punitive of any industrialized democracy. We have 2.3 million people incarcerated, half of them for nonviolent property and drug offenses. At least two dozen states have three-strikes laws, and in some cases citizens can face life imprisonment for minor nonviolent offenses. In 2003 the Supreme Court upheld a fifty-year sentence for a California man caught stealing videotapes.

And things are even harsher for Americans unlucky enough to need succor from the state to survive, a k a poor people. Just one drug-related felony conviction can get you booted from welfare, or from public housing (though if you own a house, the IRS will still allow you your mortgage-interest deduction). Under federal law, a drug bust disqualifies a college student from all federal student aid. As a result, between 2001 and 2006 almost 200,000 students lost access to aid. The greatest Congressional champion of this unforgiving policy was Mark Souder, the Indiana Republican who resigned after revelations of his affair with a staff member. In his farewell speech, he took solace in the possibility of forgiveness.

A punitive society is not the best kind of society: there's a real virtue in forgiveness, in second chances. But for years we've been applying Rand Paul's "accidents happen" principle to those at the top while heaping blame, scorn and draconian punishment on those at the bottom. Punitive damages are capped for corporations, while punitive policies proliferate for citizens. This tears the social contract apart, and the only way to repair it is to apply the same principles of accountability up and down the social hierarchy. We should start with BP.

McCarter (Dkos): It's a crime to be poor in America

Orrin Hatch wants the unemployed to have to pee in a cup in order to receive their benefits. Really:

Hatch introduced an amendment to the tax extenders bill that would require those who are applying for some of the benefits in that bill, including unemployment and welfare benefits, to pass a drug test in exchange for the benefits.

Being unemployed just isn't denigrating enough for Orrin Hatch. You have to be punished it for, put under suspicion. That's the Republican way. What's next? Poor houses?

Actually, it's debtors' prisons. Yves Smith at naked capitalism writes:

On Friday, I put up a short post alerting readers to a PR campaign apparently just getting off the runway to impress the average American of his moral obligation to honor his debts. The rise of strategic defaults (and perhaps even more important, the increasingly positive coverage it is getting in the media and the blogosphere) is generating heartburn among the banking classes.

One of the tidbits we pointed to was a YouTube snippet of Peterson Institute spokesman David Walker speaking fondly of debtors’ prison and the need to "hold people accountable when they do imprudent things." A couple of readers complained that I was being unfair, while others said they’d be happy to see the return of debtors’ prison as long at the executives at the TBTF banks were at the head of the queue.

Be careful what you wish for. Reader bill clued us in that people who fall behind on debt payments are being incarcerated in six states. While this is generally short-term, it is nevertheless a troubling development, since these are all involve private contracts and look to be an abuse of the court system.

Arkansas, Arizona, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota and Washington are the states where we know this is happening. People are being thrown in jail for failing to pay debts as small as $85. Bring down the global economy from your position on Wall Street, you get a bail-out. Miss your cell phone payment, you go to jail. Welcome to 2010, the re-Gilded Age.

Think Progress: Barbour Is Concerned That Escrow Account Will Cut Into BP’s Profits: ‘It Bothers Me’

The Obama administration announced this week that it wants BP to transfer “substantial” funds to an escrow account overseen by an independent third party that will handle claims from individuals and businesses affected by the company’s oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. “We need to make sure that the interests of people in the Gulf are protected,” senior White House adviser David Axelrod said on Sunday. Congressional Democrats have asked BP to create a $20 billion fund.

Sticking with the “Obama is a socialist” meme, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) called the account a “redistribution of wealth fund.” Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R) also thinks it is a bad idea. Although he noted on Fox News last night that BP is “saying that they have the ability to pay and that they will pay,” Barbour expressed concern that BP will lose some profits:

BARBOUR: If BP is the responsible party under the law, they’re to pay for everything. I do worry that this idea of making them make a huge escrow fund is going to make it less likely that they’ll pay for everything. They need their capital to drill wells. They need their capital to produce income. … But this escrow bothers me that it’s going to make them less able to pay us what they owe us. And that concerns me. … [I]t bothers me to talk about causing an escrow to be made, which will — which makes it less likely that they’ll make the income that they need to pay us.

Watch it:

Of course, the whole point of the escrow account is to assure that BP — not the taxpayer — is on the hook for the Gulf oil disaster bill. Despite CEO Tony Hayward’s recent claim that the oil giant has paid every claim, BP has actually paid fewer than half and has been less than transparent about the process.

It’s unclear why Barbour is so worried about BP not having enough funds for the account. The company made $163 billion in profits from 2001 through 2009 and nearly $6 billion in the first quarter of 2010 alone. As the Washington Post noted, in the early days of the spill, BP paid $17.5 million per day while the company made on average $93 million per day in the first quarter.

In fact, throughout the oil spill disaster, Barbour has come to BP’s defense, downplaying its impact, blaming the media for his state’s economic woes, and even encouraging tourists to come to Mississippi’s oil contaminated beaches. “BP has never said no to any requests we have made,” he said. “I’m not going to complain.” Indeed, Barbour probably won’t complain because he owes the oil and gas industry for his rise in politics.

Think Progress: Palin claims that Netherlands and Norway can’t get their calls returned on the oil spill.

To respond to President Obama’s first Oval Office address, Fox News last night turned to former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, whom Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) once said “knows more about energy than probably anyone else in the United States of America.” When asked about how to stop the leaking oil well, Palin said that the United States needs to accept more assistance from foreign governments:

O’REILLY: Do you know how to stop it?

PALIN: Well, then what the federal government should have done was accept the assistance of foreign countries, of entrepreneurial Americans who have had solutions –


PALIN: — that they wanted presented.


PALIN: They can’t even get a phone call returned, Bill. The Dutch. They are known, and the Norwegians. They are known for dikes and for cleaning up water and for dealing with spills. They offered to help and, yet, no, they too, with a proverbial can’t even get a phone call back. That is what the Norwegians are telling us, and the Dutch are telling us, and then the entrepreneurial Americans.

Watch it:

While it is true that many observers have criticized the administration for being too slow to accept some offers of assistance, Palin is simply wrong that no one is returning calls from “the Dutch” and “the Norwegians.” From Monday’s Washington Post:

In late May, the administration accepted Mexico’s offer of two skimmers and 13,779 feet of boom; a Dutch offer of three sets of Koseq sweeping arms, which attach to the sides of ships and gather oil; and eight skimming systems offered by Norway.

Think Progress: GOP congressional candidate: The federal government and BP colluded to spill oil in the Gulf.
Shortly after the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded, disgraced FEMA director Michael Brown went on Fox News and claimed that the Obama administration wanted the devastating oil spill as an excuse to backtrack on its offshore drilling plan. Around the same time, Rush Limbaugh unleashed a conspiracy theory suggesting that someone intentionally blew up the rig in order to “head off more oil drilling.” After widespread mockery and criticism, these types of oil spill truthers have largely gone quiet. Now, however, Bill Randall, who’s competing to be the GOP nominee in a congressional race in North Carolina and identifies with the Tea Party movement, is going even further by saying that the federal government and BP worked together to spill oil:

“Now, I’m not necessarily a conspiracy person, but I don’t think enough investigation has been done on this,” Randall said at a media conference on Tuesday. “Someone needs to be digging into that situation. Personally, and this is purely speculative on my part and not based on any fact, but personally I feel there is a possibility that there was some sort of collusion. I don’t know how or why, but in that situation, if you have someone from a company violating a safety process and the government signing off on it, excuse me, maybe they wanted it to leak.

But then it got beyond what was anticipated, and we had an explosion and loss of life. And, oh man, then we have panic. Is there a cover up going on? I’m not saying there necessarily is. But I think there’s enough facts on the table for people that (they) really need to do some investigative research and find out what went on with that and get a subpoena of records and everything else.”

The spokesman for Randall’s GOP primary opponent mocked his trutherism, saying, “Does Bill Randall also think we didn’t land on the moon?”

There were a fair amount of references to religion in President Obama's Oval Office address last night. He used the word "faith" three times; shared an anecdote about the role of clergy in "The Blessing of Fleet"; and concluded, "This nation has known hard times before and we will surely know them again. What sees us through -- what has always seen us through -- is our strength, our resilience, and our unyielding faith that something better awaits us if we summon the courage to reach for it. Tonight, we pray for that courage. We pray for the people of the Gulf. And we pray that a hand may guide us through the storm towards a brighter day."

Wouldn't you know it; Fox News didn't appreciate the president's religious remarks.

If there's one thing Fox & Friends loves, it's religion. Christianity, to be specific. The Fox News morning show hosts relish and celebrate those who are outspoken in their Christian beliefs and will not hesitate to defend anyone who mentions God in the public square. Except, of course, if that person is President Obama.

Implausible as it may seem, the crew of Fox & Friends this morning -- the same people who fawningly report on pro-God billboards and rally to the cause of book-banning activist Christians -- criticized the president for asking Americans to pray for the nation and for the people of the Gulf during his speech last night.

One of the cast members, co-host Gretchen Carlson, said "some people" heard the president's remarks and concluded the emphasis on faith "was disingenuous from a president who does not go to church on a regular basis."

Yes, "some people." Gretchen Carlson didn't say she believed such nonsense -- heaven forbid -- only that "some people" drew that conclusion. And who might those people be? Well, Carlson didn't say. (For the record, I spent some time today looking for someone, anyone, who publicly raised this concern in any form of media, before Fox & Friends aired this morning. I couldn't find a soul.)

I don't expect much from Fox & Friends, but even by this show's low standards, this was a rather pathetic display.

For the record, Ronaldus Magnus hardly ever attended religious services during his two terms, and George W. Bush's attendance was sporadic, at best. When Gretchen Carlson questions the sincerity of the religious rhetoric they used in office, I'll gladly praise her objectivity and consistency. Until then, I'll conclude she's a sorry excuse for a television personality.

  • from the comments:

    Having tried to lynch him for the church that he went to, they now try to attack him for being too religious??? Sheesh. YCOBTRIYAR (You Can Only Be Truly Religious If You're A Republican).

    Posted by: N.Wells
Bellantoni (TPM): GOP Shields Angle And Paul To Avoid Making Them Face Of '10

It's no accident or coincidence that Republicans in Washington are trying to shield Senate candidates Rand Paul and Sharron Angle from the national, and even local, press.

Remember the GOP establishment didn't want these far-right, insurgent candidates in the first place, and now Republicans fear that in the year of the tea party, Paul and Angle could become the face of the party for the midterm elections. That could present an image to voters that screams radical more than it does electable.

Each time Paul or Angle stray from party talking points by promoting Social Security privatization, abolishing the Department of Education or backtracking on the Civil Rights Act, more moderate Republican candidates have to field questions about whether they agree on those issues. And every day that the Republicans are having to defend themselves against those questions is a day they lose, rather than focusing it on the economy, Obama, and the Democrats' agenda.

The Democrats are happy to try and link the rest of the Republican field with Paul and Angle, whose positions are far more extreme than, say, GOPer Rob Portman in Ohio or Mike Castle in Delaware.

According to Think Progress, Paul (R-KY) has taken to demanding reporters submit questions in writing. He's keeping to Fox News and other friendly media outlets. Asked about Medicare reimbursement rates at a local event recently, Paul told a reporter to submit the questions "and we'll look at them." He said his goal was to campaign around Kentucky. The baffled reporter rebutted: "So you're not going to answer any questions in person?" (Watch the video here.)

Then there is Angle (R-NV), who campaigned on wanting to "phase Medicare and Social Security out," far from a mainstream Republican message.

NRSC Chairman John Cornyn told reporters last night that Angle wouldn't be ready to face the national press until she is "staffed up and prepared," and she's been huddling with Washington leaders this week to give her insurgent campaign an establishment makeover.

"I just think it's going to take a few weeks ... but you know it's really up to her," Cornyn (R-TX) told Brian when asked about Angle dodging reporters at the Capitol.

RNC Chairman Michael Steele tweeted this morning he'd had a "great meeting" with Angle in D.C., saying she's the woman who will help the Republicans "fire" Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) in November. She also wooed conservative press at the National Review by talking about home schooling.

The Democrats are using Paul and Angle's less mainstream views to rile up their own base, and to attempt to paint the Republicans as divided.

Case in point: DSCC Chairman Bob Menendez (D-NJ) last week told reporters his view of the trend with Republican candidates: "I think you'll see increasingly these candidates avoiding the national press because as they are exposed to the national press they will increasingly face the scrutiny that comes with that. And their out-of-the-mainstream positions are not going to sell very well, so the less people know about it the better off they'll be."

The Democrats also highlighted Republican senators seemingly uncomfortable with Angle after meeting her yesterday on Capitol Hill, sending out several news stories driving home the point.

Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) told The Hill yesterday he is "not planning on getting involved" in the Angle v. Reid matchup this fall, despite it being a marquee race if the Republicans want to win back the Senate.

Sen. John Thune (R-SD) told Politico that Angle's Social Security privatization push is not going to be part of the GOP's platform. "I'm not sure how she's going to develop her policy positions with regard to entitlement programs at this point," he said. "She's going to have to come out and define what it is she's for, what she's against - including probably some of her statements that she's made in the past and ... how she's them applying in the current economy."

Republicans would prefer to keep the message anti-Obama, anti-spending, anti-health care, and Democrats plan to hold candidates' feet to the fire over Angle's Social Security comments or her idea to eliminate the Department of Education.

Democrats, meanwhile, may just try to make the fall election about former President George W. Bush. The GOP says that's a tired strategy, but several candidates seeking office across the country hail from the Bush administration or the pre-2006 Republican Congress.

Team Reid this morning went live with a Web video mocking Angle for avoiding reporters. Watch:

Late Update: Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey weighs in, saying Paul was a "rookie" for going on non-Fox shows.

GOP candidates cower in right-wing media thicket
Chris Hayes, Washington editor for The Nation talks with Rachel Maddow about the new Republican strategy of avoiding having to answer any difficult questions by appearing exclusively on right wing media outlets.

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

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A Lack of Fairy Dust

Obama's problem is that he can't make the oil spill better. so what exactly can he say that satisfies? He lacks the fairy dust to sprinkle on the wellhead to cap it and magically clean up the Gulf. Lacking fairy dust, or a magical wish pony, there is nothing that can be done that will make the situation suddenly better.

Think Progress: Exxon CEO: As an industry, ‘we are not well equipped’ to handle oil disasters.

ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson told Congress we must do everything possible to prevent offshore drilling disasters, because once they occur, there is not any way to stop the damage. By admitting the unavoidable risk of catastrophe, Tillerson exploded the myths — promoted by the oil industry and right-wing supporters — that offshore drilling is “environmentally safe,” and that the industry can handle these disasters when they occur. Tillerson made the shocking admission that the industry is “not well equipped to prevent any and all damage” under questioning from Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI), the chair of the oversight subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, during a hearing that featured top executives from the five largest private oil companies:

There will be impacts as we are seeing. We have never represented anything different than that. That’s why the emphasis is always on preventing these things from occurring because when they happen we are not well equipped to deal with them. And that’s just a fact of the enormity of what we’re dealing with.

Watch it:

The only fail-safe way to prevent oil drilling disasters, in fact, is to stop drilling for oil — in other words, “The only winning move is not to play.” This is yet another reason this nation needs an energy policy that puts a cap on oil pollution and ends our toxic addiction.

mistermix: The Speech

I have to agree with James Fallows that, overall, Obama’s Oval Office address was a wasted opportunity to leverage an event (the spill) that could be used to justify changing the status quo.

That said, the status quo has a powerful protector: Congress, specifically the Senate. We just saw the worst financial meltdown since the Great Depression and all we’re getting is ever more watered down legislation. Sticking it to the banks is a political no-brainer in an election year, yet it isn’t happening.

Similarly, setting aside climate change, the politics of lessening our dependence on foreign oil and creating our own high-tech energy industry are also no-brainers. We don’t need to defend global warming to justify our need to get off the oil teat via energy reform legislation. Yet we get this strange passage in Obama’s speech:

[...] Last year, the House of Representatives acted on these principles by passing a strong and comprehensive energy and climate bill –- a bill that finally makes clean energy the profitable kind of energy for America’s businesses.

Now, there are costs associated with this transition. And there are some who believe that we can’t afford those costs right now. I say we can’t afford not to change how we produce and use energy -– because the long-term costs to our economy, our national security, and our environment are far greater.

So I’m happy to look at other ideas and approaches from either party -– as long they seriously tackle our addiction to fossil fuels.[...]

There’s not even a call for the Senate to take up the legislation. The bitter political reality is that Obama doesn’t have enough confidence in the Senate’s ability to pass anything to even suggest that they try. That’s why he’s specific on the small things the Executive Branch can do (restitution and MMS reform), and mushy on the big changes needed to keep us from drilling at 20,000 feet or propping up despots on the other side of the earth.

  • from the comments:


    What Obama should have said:

    Even though large tracts of the Gulf Coast and many old and famous fisheries have fallen into the grip of the oily sludge and all the odious hydrocarbons of crude oil, we shall not flag or fail.
    We shall go on to the end, we shall fight to protect the Louisiana Bayou,
    we shall fight on the ocean drilling platforms,
    we shall fight on the beaches,
    we shall fight to prevent the oil from landing on our shores,
    we shall fight for the wetlands,
    we shall never surrender.

    Linda Featheringill

    Ah dear.

    I thought it was good speech. Not an enjoyable one, but a good one.

    Obama didn’t promise anything? Perhaps because he isn’t sure how much he can deliver.

    He didn’t say that everything will be all right? Perhaps because it won’t.

    He didn’t threaten to go drop bombs on some other nation? Perhaps because that wouldn’t do any good.

    The main problem with the speech was its honesty. We have a big problem. It is going to get worse before it gets better. It is going to cost a BUNDLE.

    Reality sucks.

Kurtz (TPM): No Easy Way Out

When President Obama declared from the Oval Office that the Deepwater Horizon blowout "is the worst environmental disaster America has ever faced," he was giving this crisis historic stature and perhaps also missing the point (watch it here).

The Gulf is not a pristine environment. If your only exposure to the Gulf has been on the beaches of Florida, you might convince yourself that the Gulf is a deep blue aquatic wilderness. But as you travel west, the beaches give way to the marshes of the Mississippi delta, which are crisscrossed by oil and gas pipelines, manmade canals, and flood control levees. Further west, in Texas, the beaches reemerge, but shipping canals, giant refineries, and petrochemical factories persist. Over the horizon, in the Gulf itself, thousands of oil and gas wells pump night and day.

I grew up on the Louisiana coast. I've fished in the deep waters of the Gulf for red snapper and in its shallow bays for speckled trout. I've gone crabbing in its marshes. I've been through fierce hurricanes, and I've seen it as smooth and unruffled as a sheltered pond. My kids dipped their toes in the ocean for the first time there.

The Deepwater Horizon disaster is as organic a product of human processes in the Gulf as Hurricane Katrina was a product of natural processes. Shipping, flood control, and natural resource extraction have taken a nearly century-long toll on the coast. The Gulf has been abused, exploited, fouled and taken for granted for so long and with such consistency that the shock and horror over this one incident becomes in its own way a salve for our consciences.

Into this complicated landscape wades President Obama, the national political establishment, and the political press, little better equipped to understand it now than they were when Katrina hit. The President said that the spill wasn't like the other disasters we face, it's more like an "epidemic." He was closer to the truth when he referred to "our addiction to fossil fuels." The spill is more like the ruination an alcoholic leaves in his wake. You can clean up the mess, try to prevent it from happening again, and hope for the best. But as long as he's still drinking, disaster looms.

Lewis (Dkos): Oil and Gas Investor's Executive of the Year

Ryan Grim notes that legal responsibility for the Gulf oil disaster falls on four corporations: BP, Transocean, MOEX Offshore and Anadarko Corporation. They were asked to testify before the Senate today. The CEOs of two of them said they have scheduling conflicts.

Anadarko CEO James T. Hackett, however, does have time this week to be in Houston to accept Oil and Gas Investor's Executive of the Year award, handed out Tuesday.

"Last year this leading Houston-based company generated a 68 percent return to shareholders, while cutting costs and spending during the downturn," reads the announcement of Hackett's award. Cost cutting may have led to significant shareholder returns, but it also is believed to have contributed to the fatal explosion and blowout of the well.

And that pretty well sums up the industry. The man who runs one of the companies that helped cause the worst environmental disaster in American history is being rewarded by his industry. As its Executive of the Year. For the very same cost-cutting that likely caused the disaster. They are what they are.

DougJ: Having it both ways

The latest trend in Village philosophizing seems to be “hey, I’m not one of those shallow types that thinks Obama needs to pound the podium, but let me offer my own superficial, content-free analysis of things”. This David Ignatius piece is an instant classic along those lines:

Given all the idiotic advice President Obama has gotten about what to do about the BP oil spill, I thought his Oval Office address Tuesday night had it about right. Call to arms. Three-point plan. End our energy addiction. God bless America.

I don’t know what it means to look “presidential,” but I thought it helped that Obama looked pretty stressed and serious tonight.


I liked him better Tuesday night than I have in a while—tired, beat-up politically, but not playing to the crowd with easy put-downs of BP CEO Tony Hayward or profit-mongering Big Oil. There’s a glimmer of real leadership there, but not yet the bright beam.

Leadership is about looking stressed but serious, beat-up but not resorting to easy put downs. If George W. Bush had just looked more stressed but serious, Iraq would have gone just fine. And God forbid anyone saying anything mean about Tony.

What on earth could be purpose of these kinds of analyses? Why do people write them?

Jay Ackroyd: Partners
Deep in what only can be called the ideology of Washington, DC is the idea that the government's role with respect to large corporations is as a partner. Regulatory agencies do not demand compliance with the law. Rather they work with their business partners in some kind of mutual interest. Glenzilla:
MR. GREGORY: But this is a straightforward question. If you are in partnership with somebody -- and make no mistake, the government is in partnership with BP to get this problem solved -- does the, does the president of the United States trust the man on the other end who is leading this operation?

MR. AXELROD: Our, our mission here is to hold them accountable in, in every appropriate way, and that is what we're going to do. I, I'm not -- I don't consider them a, a, a partner, I don't consider them -- they're not social friends, they're not -- I'm not looking to make judgments about their soul. I just want to make sure that they do what they're required to do.
While Axelrod is pushing back against this idea here, much of our difficulties to date stem directly from the idea that the way to fix problems is to partner up with industry--the NSA with the telcos, HHS with the insurance and drug companies, MMS with the oil companies, Treasury and the banksters--to deliver "private sector" solutions. Of course, they say "free market," but this kind of thing is pretty much the opposite of a free market, and is, just by the way, a distance away from anyone would generally mean by "liberal" or "progressive." Large profit-making entities do not have the public interest at heart; they (at best) care about their shareholders' dividends. The notion that the relationship between them and the government should be accommodating, rather than adversarial is quite a radical shift away from the views of FDR or LBJ.

But this notion runs deep. It is so strong in Dancin' Dave that it is like a fish's awareness of water. He seems to be literally unable to understand what Axelrod means by accountability.
DougJ: First boyfriend

Daniel Gross on Obama’s speech:

President Obama’s Oval Office speech about the Gulf oil spill was almost enough to make you miss President George W. Bush. Maybe not the actual presidency of George W. Bush, but at least the platonic ideal of the presidency of George W. Bush—the MBA president, the chief executive as CEO.

A few weeks ago Atrios wrote:

There was something truly weird about the relationship between the DC press and the Bush administration that I never could quite understand. It’s like he was their president somehow, the one they grew up with before he regenerated into that weird guy with the funny name. And they keep rooting for his return. I don’t think the press is especially hostile to Obama, though they inevitably run with whatever right wing talking point comes through the puke funnel that day, but Bush…he was the one, their first boyfriend or something.

At the time, I thought he and others were overdoing it about the media love for Dubya. But missing the “the Platonic ideal” of the “MBA president”, dear FSM, it is a schoolgirl crush.

Sargent: New meme: Spill proves Obama isn't manly enough

So here's where we're headed next. The subtext of some of the criticism in the wake of last night's speech is subtle, but unmistakable: Obama's inability to halt the spill calls his manhood into question.

Here, for instance, is The Post's Michael Gerson:

The setting of the Oval Office creates an expectation of decisive executive action. It recalls memories of President Dwight Eisenhower dispatching federal troops to Little Rock or President John F. Kennedy announcing the naval "quarantine" of Cuba. This speech will not be confused with those precedents. Obama urges others to take action, kibitzes with corporate executives, shifts some government personnel and signals the start of a review process. A crisis is met with a study. The action verbs in this speech have somehow gone missing. It is all rather limp and weak.

Gerson, of course, worked for a president who swaggered decisively off the stage of history with some of the limpest approval ratings ever.

And here's Maureen Dowd, cattily mocking Obama because he recently acknowledged to Gulf residents that there are limits to his own power, which Dowd characterizes as so much whining:

"Even though I'm president of the United States, my power is not limitless," Obama, who has forced himself to ingest a load of gulf crab cakes, shrimp and crawfish tails, whinged to Grand Isle, La., residents on Friday. "So I can't dive down there and plug the hole. I can't suck it up with a straw."

See, Obama had to force himself to eat a plate of food in order to prove his heartiness. Get it?

Dowd's obsession with Obama's appetite (recall that she mocked him during the campaign for making a meal out of Nicorette) is unsettling enough on its own. But her characterization of this incident is instructive in another way.

If you watch video of the episode, you can clearly see that Obama is acknowledging the limits of his own power in a regretful way. He's apologizing to Gulf residents by candidly admitting that the situation is out of his control. But Dowd is subtly distorting the episode in order to suggest he's whining about how unfair it all is -- in order to suggest that he's a wuss. Sound familar?

The notion that the public sees macho swagger as "strength" and instinctively prefers it to a more cerebral, restrained and calm approach to leadership is pure fiction. Bush's swagger did nothing to rescue him from historic unpopularity. The McCain campaign not-so-subtly cast the 2008 race as a macho war hero versus a puffed up dandy (see Celebrity, TV ad), and we all know how that turned out.

Polls have shown again and again that majorities regards Obama as a "strong" leader, and I'm willing to bet Gerson and Dowd a pair of Plum Line lava lamps that the next three major national polls will all show the same.

Those polls will say this despite the fact that majorities also disappprove of his handling of the spill. That's because the public -- for very good reason -- is taking issue with the substance of his response, not the theatrics of it.

Regardless, you haven't heard the last of this line, I'm telllin' ya.
  • from the comments:

    Haven't heard the last of it? So-called "progressives" on liberal blogs have been pushing this meme for MONTHS.

    "Obama doesn't have the balls."
    "Obama is weak."
    "Obama is in bed with BP."
    "Obama bent over for BP/Tony Hayward."

    Let's not pretend this is some wingnut media meme that Republicans are pushing. This has been pushed by the extremes on the right and the left for months. The PUMAs are pissed and this is payback.

    Posted by: queenofbabble

DemfromCT (Dkos): Your Abbreviated Pundit Round-up

Wednesday oil spill edition.

NY Times:

Fifty-six days, millions of gallons of oil and countless hours of cable television second-guessing later, President Obama finally addressed the nation from the Oval Office on Tuesday night to declare war.

His enemies were oil industry lobbyists and corrupt regulators, foreign energy suppliers and conservative policy makers, and a stubborn gushing well at the bottom of the sea. And ultimately, he was fighting his own powerlessness, as a president castigated for failing to stop the nation’s worst-ever oil spill tried to turn disaster into opportunity.

Maureen Dowd:

Once more on Tuesday night, we were back to back-against-the-wall time. The president went for his fourth-quarter, Michael Jordan, down-to-the-wire, thrill shot in the Oval Office, his first such dramatic address to a nation sick about the slick.

You know the president is drowning — in oil this time — when he uses the Oval Office. And do words really matter when the picture of oil gushing out of the well continues to fill the screen?

Susan Page:

For President Obama, the Oval Office address Tuesday night was about more than the oil spill.

His ability to project more command, competency and compassion in response to the crisis in the Gulf of Mexico— and the eventual success of the administration's actions — will have repercussions for his ability to do anything else, from pushing legislation on energy and jobs to holding down Democratic losses in the midterm elections.

EJ Dionne:

The two philosophical points he made will, I suspect, be heard again and again this campaign year. When he criticized the mess at the Minerals Management Service, he said this: "Over the last decade, this agency has become emblematic of a failed philosophy that views all regulation with hostility -- a philosophy that says corporations should be allowed to play by their own rules and police themselves. At this agency, industry insiders were put in charge of industry oversight. Oil companies showered regulators with gifts and favors, and were essentially allowed to conduct their own safety inspections and write their own regulations."

This is an argument that needs to be pressed with some consistency. Democratic capitalism works because of the "democratic" part -- the use of government to achieve things capitalism can’t achieve on its own. There are some values the market doesn’t take into account and some valuable goods -- the environment in the gulf, for example -- that the market doesn’t price correctly, if at all.

Katrina vanden Heuvel:

Yet what's happening on the left isn't the equivalent of the anti-incumbent anger on the right. Most progressives support Obama and want his agenda to succeed. And although Pelosi may have been bushwacked by a disability-rights group last week, she was celebrated by most of the conference attendees for her ability to forge a majority for hard votes.

At the same time, progressives have come to a realization. What we see, some 500 days into the Obama administration, is a president obstructed by a partisan Republican opposition, powerful entrenched corporate interests, and a minority of corrupt or conservative Democrats. The thinking is that if progressives organize independently and forge smart coalitions, building a mass movement for reform with a moral compass that can transcend left-right divisions, we may be able to push Obama beyond the limits of his own politics, overcome the timid incrementalism of the establishment Democratic Party and counter the forces of money and power that are true obstacles to change. As Arianna Huffington has said, "Hope is not enough. . . . We need a 'Hope 2.0' that depends not on what President Obama or other politicians say or do but on what we as progressives do."

Local opinion (Colorado):

It seems like everyone has their own idea about what should be done to fix the oil spill, and everyone has an opinion about how it's being handled so far.

Most people KJCT News 8 spoke with say they think the president is handling the situation about as best as he can. But almost everyone says the address should have happened much sooner.

Local opinion (Florida):

"We should have been fighting this thing 10 fold 3 months ago. The National Guard should have been called out months ago. The things that aren't working the booms should have been changed. The technology, he says he has called on all these scientists, good I'm glad, but it doesn't seem like there is a lot of teamwork," one man said.

Local opinion (Louisiana):

We went through Katrina. That was fine. We rebuilt," he said. "Now this -- this is not natural and it was done by BP."

Cepriano said he was unhappy with the government response, regardless of the president's tougher tone.

"Nothing's organized. None whatsoever ... they've got this really messed up," he said.

Obama delivered the speech after a tour of the Gulf Coast. An AP-GfK opinion polled showed 48 percent of Americans disapprove of his handling of the crisis, up 15 percentage points from a month ago. The spill is into its eight week.

Yglesias: Obama Punts on Climate

The most important thing to keep in mind about the sort of “major” presidential speech we saw last night is that they don’t matter. At all. They don’t move votes in Congress. They don’t move public opinion. The bully pulpit method of governance doesn’t work. And that’s about the best I can say about Obama’s speech—even if it had been much better, it wouldn’t have done much good.

But as long as someone speaks in public, he’s inviting you to analyze his words. And on that score, the evaluation just can’t be very good. I understand that the Senate isn’t going to pass a comprehensive climate/energy plan that puts a price on carbon. I get that. Nevertheless, the right thing to do is to pass such a bill. A discussion of energy policy should say so. A discussion of energy policy should mention climate change. There’s more to be said about the benefits of energy reform than its role in averting climate catastrophe. And there’s more to improved energy policy than carbon pricing. But climate change is really important. And putting a price on carbon is really key to getting a handle on it. If you’re talking about these issues, you should say that stuff. And Obama didn’t.

Yesterday, the EPA completed its analysis of the American Power Act and found that it’s a highly affordable way to reduce emissions from greenhouse gasses. That would have been worth mentioning. If you’re not going to talk about this stuff, then why talk? There’s nothing wrong with settling for less than you wanted, but it’s downright weird to not even discuss what really needs to be done.

In September 2008, just eight weeks before presidential election, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) boasted that former half-term Gov. Sarah Palin (R) "knows more about energy [policy] than probably anyone else in the United States of America." He was, for the record, entirely serious.

Of course, now that energy policy is up front and center, and the nation struggles with an environmental catastrophe, it's a good thing we can utilize Palin's expertise.

Last night on Fox News, Bill O'Reilly asked Palin if she knows how to stop the oil gushing into the Gulf. Instead of answering, she said, "Well, what the federal government should have done was accept the assistance of foreign countries, of entrepreneurial Americans who have had solutions they wanted presented.... The Dutch, they are known, and the Norwegian, they are known for dikes, for cleaning up water, and dealing with spills. They offered to help. And yet, no, they too, with the proverbial, can't even get a phone call back."

I'd swear she's getting dumber.

For the record, the government did accept the assistance of foreign countries, including skimmers and boom from Mexico, three sets of Koseq sweeping arms from the Dutch, and eight Norwegian skimming systems.

Palin is whining that the administration didn't do what the administration has already done.

Palin added that that "we haven't heard" that stopping the leak is the president's "top priority." Palin must not have been listening.

Where would be without this visionary who knows more about energy policy than probably anyone else in the United States of America?

Kleefeld (TPM): Bachmann Blasts 'Redistribution Of Wealth' Escrow Fund, Says BP Shouldn't Be 'Chumps'

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) is emerging as a fierce critic of the Obama administration's proposed escrow fund to handle damage claims against BP.

The Minnesota Independent reports that Bachmann spoke Tuesday to the Heritage Foundation, and badmouthed the idea. "The president just called for creating a fund that would be administered by outsiders, which would be more of a redistribution-of-wealth fund," said Bachmann. "And now it appears like we'll be looking at one more gateway for more government control, more money to government."

Also, David Weigel reports that Bachmann also said: "They have to lift the liability cap. But if I was the head of BP, I would let the signal get out there -- 'We're not going to be chumps, and we're not going to be fleeced.' And they shouldn't be. They shouldn't have to be fleeced and make chumps to have to pay for perpetual unemployment and all the rest -- they've got to be legitimate claims."

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

I see crazy people

DougJ :It can’t happen here

Bruce Bartlett brings up an interesting nightmare scenario for a Republican-controlled Congress:

To be sure, the debt limit has always been raised in time to prevent a default, although Treasury sometimes had to push the limits of the law to move money around to pay the government’s bills. However, I believe the game has changed because Republicans have become extremely bold in using the filibuster to make it extraordinarily difficult to pass any major legislation without at least 60 votes in the Senate.

Furthermore, a growing number of conservatives have suggested that default on the debt wouldn’t be such a bad thing. It is often said that default would lead to an instantaneous balanced budget because no one would lend to the U.S. government ever again. Therefore, spending would have to be cut to the level of current revenues.

Writing in Forbes last month, the Cato Institute’s John Tamny was enthusiastic about the prospects of default. Said Tamny, “It’s time we learn to love the idea of a U.S. default . . . For Americans to worry about a debt default is like the parent of a heroin addict fearing that his dealers will cease feeding the addiction.”

I don’t think that it’s likely that a Republican Congress would actually force a default, but they could certainly use the threat of forcing one to get their way on other matters. Serious economic minds like Charles Lane and Robert Samuelson would likely cheer them on as they held the country hostage.

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

digby: Pat Robertson Gives Marital Advice
Ladies, just so you know, if your man is stepping out it's because you're a bitch and you're just not attractive enough.

TERRY MEEUWSEN (co-host): Pat, this is from Anne who says, "My husband has always been a flirt and loves to talk with other women he finds attractive. He says he would never cheat on me but his actions are starting to get to me. What should I do?

PAT ROBERTSON: Anne, first thing is you need to make yourself as attractive as possible and don't hassle him about it. And why is he doing this? Well, he's doing it because he wants affirmation that he is still a man, that he is attractive -- and he gets an affirmation of himself. That means he's got an inferiority complex that's coming out. And he's not gonna cheat on you. He's just playing.

But you need to not drive him away or start hassling and hounding on him, but make yourself as beautiful as you can, as fun as you can, and say "let's go out here, let's go there, let's go to the other thing." And be sure to give him blow jobs on command.
Ok I made up the last thing --- but it's certainly implied.

I think what shocked me most about this is that Pat Robertson is still alive.
If only Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) were a White House correspondent, he might be forced to resign over ugly rhetoric like this.

During an appearance on G. Gordon Liddy's radio show this morning to discuss Arizona's immigration law, King suggested President Barack Obama was a racist and "favors the black person" while carrying out his presidential duties.

King also said that he was "offended" by both Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder.

"When you look at this administration, I'm offended by Eric Holder and the president also, their posture. It looks like Eric Holder said that white people in America are cowards when it comes to race," said King. "And I don't know what the basis of that is but I'm not a coward when it comes to that and I'm happy to talk about these things and I think we should."

King added: "But the president has demonstrated that he has a default mechanism in him that breaks down the side of race -- on the side that favors the black person."

As a factual matter, King's race-baiting is just absurd. Looking over the president's staff, cabinet, appointments, and policies, there's simply nothing to suggest Obama discriminates against those who aren't black. King's odious attacks are the result of paranoia. (If the right-wing Iowan is really looking for political players motivated in part by race, he may want to talk to his Tea Party pals.)

It's also worth noting that King misquoted Holder in order to criticize him.

But of particular interest here is the way in which King was projecting during his tirade. Adam Serwer explained, "This is of course, the same Steve King who has defended the Confederate flag, advocated for racial profiling, referred to the Congressional Black and Hispanic Caucuses as 'separatist groups,' and said that people in the Middle East would be 'dancing in the streets' if Obama was elected because of his middle name. He was also the only -- repeat -- only congressman to vote against recognizing the contributions of slaves in building the U.S. Capitol, where King now spends his time spewing this kind of nonsense."

Someone here has "a default mechanism in him that breaks down the side of race," but I'll give you a hint: it's not the president.

Booman: The Western Iowa Strategy
What is it with than name 'Steve King' and horror shows? Of course, it's the political Steve that I'm concerned with here. He's trying to develop what we might call the 'Western Iowa Strategy.'

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) leveled a somewhat startling charge against President Barack Obama on Monday, saying the president instinctively "favors the black person."

King made the comments during an appearance on the G. Gordon Liddy radio show.

"When you look at this administration, I'm offended by Eric Holder and the president, also, their posture," King said, as captured by Media Matters.

That must refer to their shuck n jive posture.

"It looks like Eric Holder said that white people in America are cowards when it comes to race. And I don't know what the basis of that is, but I'm not a coward when it comes to that, and I'm happy to talk about these things and I think we should. But the president has demonstrated that he has a default mechanism in him that breaks down the side of race — on the side that favors the black person."

It's true that Rep. King is not a coward when it comes to race. He's totally upfront about how much black people in power 'offend' him. And he did it on G. Gordon Liddy's radio program. You probably know Liddy from his involvement in the Watergate break-in. You probably don't know that he worshipped Hitler as a child and chose his wife because of her teutonic characteristics.

When he listened to Hitler on the radio, it "made me feel a strength inside I had never known before," he explains. "Hitler's sheer animal confidence and power of will [entranced me]. He sent an electric current through my body."

My father is from Iowa. It's not a place known for heated racial politics. Most Iowans I've met are painfully polite and well-mannered. I don't understand why Steve King has a constituency for this kind of gutter politics. But this is a concerted effort to convince ordinary white voters that the president and members of his administration are biased against them and are always looking to side with black people. Most of the time, these kind of messages are a bit more subtle. Rep. King is explicit. I know his district is very religious and culturally conservative, but I don't think this is how they want their congressman to behave.

And, I thought about it. I can't point my finger to anything the president has done that would merit the criticism. It's pure fantasyland.

  • from the comments: Re: The Western Iowa Strategy (none / 0)
    It's not what the President has done, it's what he is. He embodies the "people not like us" narrative. It's not that Steve King's supporters are racists (in their own minds), rather that they can be made to fear that the "other" side are. Painfully polite manners and painfully paranoid politics are not mutually exclusive characteristics.

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