Friday, June 25, 2010


Aravosis: Palin endorses Obama-Hitler comparison
The problem is two-fold:

1. Regardless of whether you believe anyone should be talking about Sarah Palin, the woman is a leader in the Republican party, and could, by a fluke of nature, end up president some day. So it's important to report on her inanities, if only to keep people informed of what a lightweight nut she really is.

2. The media has, to a larger part, accepted that Palin is a nut. Sure, they report on her every move, because they have to, but at the same time they're loathe to examine her comments and hold her responsible for them because, secretly, they know she's a little stupid, and nuts, so they give her a pass on actually discussing the implications of her comments. Had a leader of the Democratic party - an aspiring presidential candidate, no less - compared George Bush to Hitler, it'd be the end of their career. Now we have dingbats like Palin, and even GOP members of Congress, making the comparison with impunity. At some point, the media needs to stop reporting what Republicans say, and start analyzing it for the extremist, and dangerous, rhetoric it actually is.
Republican true colors in BP embrace Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz talks with Rachel Maddow about Republicans' shameless and unabashed embrace of big oil and special interests over America and Americans.

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

John Cole: Another Head for the Right and the Left

Dave Weigel just resigned. He provided fair and accurate coverage for the Washington Post, but because he said something obnoxious on a private email list after Drudge sent hundreds of screaming wingnuts after him and the DC Examiner printed the name and workplace of his girlfriend, he was forced out. Not because of any of his professional work, but because of a couple intemperate remarks on an allegedly private listserv.

Bill Kristol, Jackson Diehl, Marc Thiessen, whose far more offensive comments are printed on the opinion page every week, still have jobs.

I hope they find out who leaked the emails and his/her career is equally damaged. This is a disgrace.

Is there anyway to set up an ActBlue account to donate to Dave until he finds a new job? Or maybe he has a paypal account. Anyone know?

*** Update ***

Maybe he can make a video calling Hillary Clinton a bitch and that will get him his job back.

John Cole: Potty Training By Judith Miller and Sally Quinn

If this doesn’t make you want to throw up in your mouth, I don’t know what will:

“How could we destroy our standards by hiring a guy stupid enough to write about people that way in a public forum?” one of my friends at the Post asked me when we spoke earlier today. “I’m not suggesting that many people on the paper don’t lean left, but there’s leaning left, and then there’s behaving like an idiot.”

I gave my friend the answer he already knew: The sad truth is that the Washington Post, in its general desperation for page views, now hires people who came up in journalism without much adult supervision, and without the proper amount of toilet-training. This little episode today is proof of this. But it is also proof that some people at the Post (where I worked, briefly, 20 years ago) still know the difference between acceptable behavior and unacceptable behavior, and that maybe this episode will lead to the reimposition of some level of standards.

That’s the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg, who single-handedly wrote the absolutely most factless pieces of propaganda in the run-up to the war in Iraq this side of Judy Miller, and to my knowledge has never corrected the record in detail and atoned for his sins.

That’s the same Jeffrey Goldberg who is so incapable of forming constructive arguments that he basically spent the earlier part of the year sputtering that his co-worker Andrew Sullivan is an anti-Israeli propagandist. That is, of course, until the adults at the Atlantic stepped in and told him to knock it off.

And we could go on and on, whether the topic is Chas Freeman, Iran, etc.

If that is the kind of bile and trash that Jeffrey Goldberg thinks makes him a refined and “toilet-trained” writer, then I can only assume that every one of the adults in his blackberry and in his rolodex still shits the bed. The rules still hold true- all sorts of disgusting and bizarre worldviews are acceptable among the “toilet-trained” Beltway elites (Krauthammer, Will, Thiessen, Kristol, and many others still write for the WaPo), but don’t drink out of the finger bowl or use a four letter word or your ass is history.

  • Atrios adds:
    Ezra Klein writes for the Post. He's on the liberalish side of things. But if someone released some private emails in which he said mean things about Supreme Commander Markos, Paul Begala, and Rachel Maddow, no one at the Post would have batted an eye. Probably they would have seen it as evidence that he was a great hire for his willingness to Stand Up To Powerful Liberals.

    Weigel was hired to cover the conservative movement, and he's really the only person who does that well. I don't know much about about his personal politics, though I've generally inferred from knowing him at bit and his time running in Reason circles that he's a liberalish libertarian, which is really just another way of saying he's a libertarian whose concerns aren't usually in lockstep with the glibertarians in the sponsored libertarian movement. But apparently the Post needs its "conservatives" to be conservative hacks, and not hurt Matt Drudge's feefees.
Jed Lewinson (DK): CBS: Jindal holds up deployment of National Guard to fight spill

You know how Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal likes to blame the Federal government for the damage caused by BP's oil spill, arguing that he could have kept all the oil at bay if President Obama had only given him the resources he needed to fight it?

Well, last night CBS News tore Jindal's argument to shreds, pointing out that while President Obama has authorized up to 6,000 National Guard troops to fight the spill, Jindal has only activated 1,053 of them -- leaving more than 80% sitting idle, doing nothing to protect the state.

It's must-see-tv (text version here):

When CBS confronted Jindal about leaving so many guardsmen idle while oil is washing ashore, Jindal -- naturally -- blamed the Federal government, saying that he had requested deployment for the full 6,000, but that his request had been denied because "the Coast Guard and BP had to authorize individual tasks."

It turns out Jindal's response was a lie.

But Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, the national incident commander in charge of the government's response to the spill, said Jindal is just flat wrong.

"There is nothing standing in the governor's way from utilizing more National Guard troops," Allen said.

In fact, the Coast Guard says every request to use the National Guard has been approved, usually within a day. Now Jindal's office acknowledged to CBS News the governor has not specifically asked for more Guard troops to be deployed.

This is a very big deal. It exposes the fact that Jindal has been playing politics with the spill from day one. He's argued that the federal government has denied him the resources he needs to fight the spill, but even though he's had thousands of National Guardsmen at his disposal, he's only used a tiny fraction of them, allowing more than 80% of the resources at his disposal to go unused.

In light of Jindal's massive under utilization of National Guard resources, it's clear that his attacks on the Obama administration were motivated first and foremost by politics. More than anything else, Jindal wanted to take the heat off the oil industry and put it on the government.

Well, Bobby, mission accomplished. Too bad you didn't give a damn about stopping the oil.

Yin and Yang

Man, but this is a great contrast ad:

Think Progress: Van Susteren: ‘I Would Never Make The Mistake Of Debating Military Policy And Strategy’ With McCain

This week on Fox News, host Greta Van Susteren challenged Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) argument that Iraq should serve as a model for how the U.S. should stabilize Afghanistan. “But in Iraq, they at least had some form of government, you know, that was not so remotely dissimilar from our own,” Van Susteren asserted. “Afghanistan is a tribal area, where they have different tribes and different families. It’s a different — can we do that?” But McCain wouldn’t back down, suggesting that Afghanistan might be easier to pacify because violence was worse in Iraq at the height of the war there than it currently is in Afghanistan.

Last night talking with Newt Gingrich, Van Susteren scolded herself for disagreeing with McCain:

VAN SUSTEREN: Senator McCain said that I was wrong. And far be it for me to disagree with military policy and strategy with someone like Senator McCain, so I backed off. But they seem to have very different histories to me. [...]

Well, with Senator McCain’s distinguished military career and history, you know, the other option, too, is that my question was inartfully posed and that I didn’t make myself clear because I — you know, I don’t — I would never make the mistake of debating military policy and strategy with Senator McCain.

Watch it:

Van Susteren shouldn’t be so hard on herself. Although McCain appears to view an Iraq-like “surge” as a solution to every military problem, it is not entirely analogous to the current situation in Afghanistan. Indeed, as one administration official said when the White House was debating its new strategy, “We spent a lot of time discussing the fact that the only thing Iraq and Afghanistan have in common is a lot of sand.” And as the New York Times noted:

The Iraq surge worked in large part because there was powerful support in Anbar Province from the so-called Awakening. [...] But a series of intelligence reports supplied to Mr. Obama since September found no evidence in Afghanistan of anything on the scale of the Iraqi Awakening movement. What’s more, in Afghanistan the extremists, the Taliban, are natives.

Military commanders, experts, and even other conservatives have noted the “considerable” differences between pre-surge Iraq and Afghanistan today. Even Gingrich told Van Susteren last night, “Afghanistan must be probably 20 times more complex than Iraq.” “Using the Iraq strategy, may be one that may not be exactly applicable,” Charles Krauthammer said yesterday.

Given how wrong McCain has been on matters of foreign policy and national security in recent years, Van Susteren should have more faith in her ability to challenge him — and any other other lawmaker — on his views.

It wasn't easy, it wasn't quick, and it wasn't pretty, but seemingly-endless negotiations have produced a sweeping Wall Street reform package ready to be approved by both chambers.

Nearly two years after the American financial system teetered on the verge of collapse, Congressional negotiators reached agreement early Friday morning to reconcile competing versions of the biggest overhaul of financial regulations since the Great Depression.

A 20-hour marathon by members of a House-Senate conference committee to complete work on toughened financial regulations culminated at 5:39 a.m. Friday in agreements on the two most contentious parts of the financial regulatory overhaul and a host of other provisions. Along party lines, the House conferees voted 20 to 11 to approve the bill; the Senate conferees voted 7 to 5 to approve.

Members of the conference committee approved proposals to restrict trading by banks for their own benefit and requiring banks and their parent companies to segregate much of their derivatives activities into a separately capitalized subsidiary.

The timing is especially helpful for President Obama, who leaves today for Canada for a G20 meeting, and who wanted to be able to tell global leaders that the United States is poised to complete its work on financial regulatory reform. Now, he'll be able to do just that, and Obama spoke briefly to the press this morning to herald the legislative breakthrough, most notably the new consumer protection agency, and calling the larger package the "toughest" industry regulations in generations.

The NYT's report is worth reading in full, to get a sense of the changes that were made through the negotiations, most notably to the Volcker Rule. Note that while intense industry lobbying influenced the process, and produced "some specific exceptions to new regulations," by and large "the bill's financial regulations not only remained strong but in some cases gained strength."

The House and Senate are expected to bring the conference committee bill to the floor next week. Senate Republicans will very likely launch a filibuster -- they have no shame -- but leaders are confident the legislation will pass.

And in the larger context, this will add to an impressive list of historic accomplishments spanning President Obama's first 18 months in office, a list that will now include Wall Street reform, health care reform, student loan reform, economic recovery, Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, expanded civil rights protections, expanded stem-cell research, new regulation of the credit card industry, new regulation of the tobacco industry, a national service bill, and the most sweeping land-protection act in 15 years, among other things.

Taegan Goddard noted this morning, "Not since FDR has a president done so much to transform the country." That's not a hyperbolic observation in the slightest.

Marshall: Rubio's Crock-Flop

Earlier in the Florida Senate campaign, Marco Rubio pledged his support for full repeal of Health Care Reform. Now he's hedging on that, saying he thinks we should keep the ban on denial for preexisting conditions and allows kids to stay on their parents' plans until they turn 26.

In political terms, that's enough to count as your classic flip-flop. You can see the video here.

But there's a deeper substantive point, which is actually worse, but will likely get less play.

Rubio's position is something like saying on the fancy dinner out, I'm in favor of the food, but not the check. I mean, who isn't? As any policy person or health care economist will tell you, you can't ban denial for pre-existing conditions without getting coverage up towards near-universal if not quite universal terms. You can bash the health care insurers all you want. And they certainly deserve bashing. But the truth is that if you do one and not the other you get a classic adverse selection problem. Healthy people won't get coverage until they become chronically ill. Then they'll sign up. And there's no way their premiums can cover their care. Yes, that's a crude, outline explanation of the problem. But broadly speaking, that's the reality. The economics don't work, no matter how much the insurers take out in profits or waste on inefficiencies.

So basically Rubio's new open-mindedness on Health Care isn't just a flip-flop, which is a political matter, it's a crock which really matters a lot. Because there's no free lunch.

DougJ: Access kills


The most interesting part of my job is that I get to observe powerful people at close quarters. Most people in government, I find, are there because they sincerely want to do good.

This encapsulates everything that is wrong with the modern punditocracy: getting off on access to powerful people and assuming that these powerful people aren’t crooks and charlatans.

By virtue of writing for this blog, I have gotten a few (though not many) high-level pundit-types to return my emails. And it’s amazing how much they buy into the “if you met so-and-so, you’d see he’s really a good guy even if he compares Obama to Hitler every week on the Sunday shows”. For example, I was once told that I couldn’t appreciate what a decent, serious person Newt Gingrich is since I’d never toured inner-city schools with him.

I’ve never seen this kind of naivete from any group of people other than national pundits.

Marshall: Hayworth Throws in the Towel

1. I'm proud of it. 2. Who cares? 3. It's not my fault. 4. I'm sorry.

The four stages of politician grieving, J.D. Hayworth edition. He's now apologized for his 'free money from the government' informercial.

"flipping off millions"

John Cole: It’s A Debate Who Is to Blame!

Your liberal media:

Legislation to extend unemployment subsidies for hundreds of thousands of Americans who have exhausted their jobless benefits teetered on the edge of collapse on Thursday, as Senate Democrats and Republicans traded bitter accusations about who was to blame for an eight-week impasse.

Senate Republicans and a lone Democrat, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, joined forces to filibuster the bill in a procedural vote on Thursday. Visibly frustrated, the majority leader, Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, said he would move on to other business next week because he saw little chance of winning over any Republican votes.

The vote was 57 to 41, with the Democrats falling three short of the 60 votes needed to advance the measure.

Yes. They are busy trading accusations. Who are we to judge or state why the bill failed!

Way to go, New York Times.

For casual news consumers hoping to know what happened with the Senate's tax-extenders/jobs bill yesterday afternoon, perusing the headlines won't necessarily help.

The NYT's headline read, "Congress Fails to Pass an Extension of Jobless Aid." That's true, but incomplete. The lead paragraph told readers, "Senate Democrats and Republicans traded bitter accusations about who was to blame for an eight-week impasse," which doesn't actually convey who was responsible.

The WaPo headline read, "Senate again rejects expanded spending package," which also only tells part of the story. Worse, the lead paragraph doesn't mention the party responsible for rejecting the bill at all.

The LAT gets it right: "Senate GOP blocks jobless aid extension."

Senate Republicans on Thursday once again blocked legislation to reinstate long-term unemployment benefits for people who have exhausted their aid, prolonging a stalemate that has left more than a million people without federal help.

With the Senate apparently paralyzed by partisan gridlock, the fate of the aid, as well as tax breaks for businesses and $16 billion in aid for cash-strapped states, remains unclear.... Republican lawmakers -- joined by Democrat Ben Nelson of Nebraska -- maintained a unified front to sustain a filibuster of the $110-billion bill. The vote was 57 to 41; the majority was three short of the 60 needed to cut off debate and bring the bill to a final vote. [...]

"If there were ever evidence that this is the party of no, this is it," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who added that several governors would be arriving in Washington next week to make the case for the bill to help states, businesses and those who have been out of work more than six months. [...]

It was the third time in two weeks that Democrats failed to circumvent unified GOP opposition, despite making a series of changes to accommodate complaints about deficit spending.

Here's the roll call. Note that Lieberman rejoined the majority; Nelson joined a unanimous Republican caucus; and Sens. Byrd (D-W.Va.) and Murkowski (R-Alaska) did not vote, and could not have shifted the outcome.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who helped add $5 trillion to the national debt during the Bush/Cheney years, said Republicans had to kill the economic legislation because the extended unemployment benefits, at a cost of about $30 billion, were deficit financed -- despite the fact that extended unemployment benefits are routinely deficit financed.

There's no real doubt, or even debate, about the consequences of failure here -- millions of jobless Americans will lose already-meager benefits, which will mean less spending and a weaker economy. Hundreds of thousands of jobs will be lost. Businesses that were counting on tax breaks won't get them.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs issued a statement late yesterday, noting, "By blocking an up or down vote on this legislation, Republicans in the Senate obstructed a common-sense package that would save jobs, extend tax cuts for businesses and provide relief for American families who have suffered through the worst economic downfall since the Great Depression, even after Democrats offered multiple compromises to gain Republican support for the bill."

As for the next step, the bill, for now, is dead. If voters in Maine -- a state that will be particularly hard hit by Republicans' decision -- start making some phone calls to their senators, the bill may be brought back.

With Senate Republicans having killed an important jobs bill yesterday afternoon, it seems like a good time to take a quick stroll down memory lane -- to about four months ago.

The Senate was getting ready to approve a jobs bill that extended unemployment benefits to jobless Americans. It would have increased the deficit a little, but under the circumstances, that was considered routine and uncontroversial.

Sen. Jim Bunning, the Kentucky Republican who has occasionally seemed mentally unstable, took a bold, lonely, ridiculous stand -- there could be no jobs bill if it increased the deficit. Bunning launched what was, in effect, a one-man filibuster, which came to be known as the "Bunning Blockade."

The right-wing Kentuckian soon became the subject of widespread ridicule, and a symbol of all that is wrong with the modern-day Senate. It didn't help when Bunning flipped off a journalist who dared to ask the senator to explain his position, nor when Bunning told one of his colleagues, imploring him to be reasonable, "Tough sh*t."

After about a week, Bunning ended his little tantrum, the bill advanced, benefits to the jobless were extended, and thousands of furloughed workers Bunning had sent home without pay were able to get back to work.

But let's pause to appreciate what's become evident since -- Bunning's absurd behavior has spread like a cancer, to the point that every single member of the Senate Republican conference, and one confused conservative Democrat, is taking the exact same position he took in late February and early March.

We've gone from one erratic senator flipping off a reporter to an entire party caucus flipping off millions of Americans. We've gone from a seemingly unstable lawmaker telling a colleague, "Tough sh*t" to the entire Republican conference telling the whole country, "Tough sh*t."

In the late winter, Jim Bunning was something of a laughing stock. In the early summer, we have an entire Party of Bunnings.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Conservative Media Follies

John Cole (BJ): Meanwhile, At alt.fantasy.wargamer.redstate

A real gem:

While the narrative might veer toward suggesting this is MacArthur-esque, the MacArthur here (the pompous, overconfident, know-it-all that won’t listen to his closest advisors) is Commander-In-Chief Barack “I have no clue what I’m doing but I’ll be damned if I’ll allow myself to be criticized by underlings” Obama…

That’s just flat-out word salad.

Meanwhile, Jeff Emanuel, last seen creating his own reality in the Somali pirate situation, offers this up:

In Obama’s skin-deep understanding of policy, 30k troops + Petraeus = Automatic Victory in Unwinnable War Or, “Barack Obama wants to be George W. Bush so badly he can hardly stand it”

That’s the title. It goes downhill from there.

We have to be approaching the wingnut event horizon, because now they’re just sputtering and throwing words around and I can’t even make enough sense of the gibberish to mock it. I’m also reasonably sure they both just forgot to make a Hitler reference. This time.

Aravosis (AB): FOX News' tipping point

From Eric Boehlert:

So the stimulus bill was evil and un-American. Bailing out GM and Chrysler was evil and un-American. Passing health care reform, of course, was evil and un-America.

But securing $20 billion from BP to pay for the cleanup and to compensate working Americans for the damage done to their livelihoods. That was evil and un-American?

According to Fox News it was.

And with that audacious claim, I'm wondering if Fox News isn't pressing up very closely to its tipping point; to the moment where Fox News reveals how certifiably insane it is by rushing to BP's defense, and just how distant its programming is from the American mainstream.

I don't mean it's the tipping point in terms of there being some sort of collective realization within Fox News that its signature form of partisan Obama hatred has jumped about 19 different sets of tracks and its incessant campaign of smears and lies makes a mockery out of the news business, as well as does real damage to democracy. (I'm pretty sure everyone at Fox News already knows that.)

I'm referring instead to a collective realization among people outside Fox News and the GOP Noise Machine that there's something fundamentally wrong with a so-called news organization siding with BP after what the oil giant has done to the Gulf of Mexico and the reckless, cavalier way it has ruined the livelihoods of countless of residents.

That there's something just plain wrong and illogical in being so robotically ant-Obama that the Fox News team would consciously side with today's version of Public Enemy No. 1 and insist, with complete conviction, that it's the president of the United States who's to blame for the big oil disaster, and it's the president of the United States who should be attacked, smeared, and ridiculed for getting BP to set aside $20 billion in damages.
Anne Laurie (BJ): The Atlantic Has Found Its Perfect Idiot

Remember a couple weeks back, when I linked to Ken Layne’s Wonkette post about The Atlantic’s search for “29 journalists and an idiot”? You know, the ad looking for “individuals made for – naturally wired for – original insight, original frames for comment on the large, national issues. Economist rigor; Tom Friedman insight.?

Well, Marc Ambinder, who really should know better, is thrilled to announce that they’ve hired Karl Rove’s second-favorite fluffer, Ron Fournier:

“Ron will be the first editor responsible for all of the editorial product of the National Journal publications including the National Journal magazine,, CongressDaily, The Hotline, the Almanac of American Politics and Global Security Newswire.

Though we met only three years ago, Ron’s name has been whispered to me since my first days in Washington journalism. With genuine admiration, some of our most-talented colleagues have talked about Ron as among that small handful of the finest political reporters and editors in generations of Washington reporting. His particular gifts, unceasing focus on breaking news and original political analysis, are the first-among-equal disciplines we need to advance within our publications…”

I’ve tried to believe that Mr. Ambinder is merely practicing an unusually dry form of tongue-firmly-in-cheek-fu, but reading him suck up to someone who took such pride in sucking up to the Turdblossom is one tonguebath too far.

From Media Matters’ 2008 column, “The AP has a Ron Fournier problem”:

... [W]hile investigators for the House Oversight Committee were looking into the 2004 death of Cpl. Pat Tillman, the former NFL player whose story was promoted by the White House before it was revealed that he had been killed by friendly fire, they discovered that top political aide Karl Rove had exchanged emails with the Associated Press’ Ron Fournier on the day the news of Tillman’s death broke.

In one email, Rove asked, “How does our country continue to produce men and women like this?” Fournier responded: “The Lord creates men and women like this all over the world. But only the great and free countries allow them to flourish. Keep up the fight.”

That sign-off, which seemed to indicate an allegiance between the two men, raised hackles all over the Internet. That kind of correspondence (“Keep up the fight”) between a reporter and a partisan White House aide during a campaign year lands way outside the boundaries of acceptable newsroom practices…

Fournier was declaring sides. That was the implication of Fournier’s note: “Karl, you might think the media are liberal, but you can trust me. And give me access and return my emails. Because I’m on your side.”

The Fournier revelation came as no surprise to anyone who has read his recent campaign work, which has routinely been caustic and dismissive of Democratic contenders. In two “Analysis” pieces and a column, Fournier questioned whether John Edwards was a “phony,” announced the Clintons suffered from “utter self-absorption,” and claimed that Barack Obama was “bordering on arrogance.” That’s the right of a pundit. But at the same time, Fournier avoided raising any doubts about Sen. John McCain, and in fact rushed to his aid in print during the senator’s time of campaign need…

Just in case this isn’t perfectly obvious, just in case people might be wondering if it’s common for objective political reporters to email partisan operatives off the record and behind the scenes, urging them to “keep up the fight,” the answer is a resounding no. Because it violates the basic journalistic guideline of maintaining neutrality. Especially at the AP, that kind of correspondence should be considered breathtakingly inappropriate.

Read the whole Media Matters article, and remember: “Economist rigor; Tom Friedman insight.” Republican Ratfvcking, no extra charge.

But I’ll bet Fournier is a master at pairing exquisite canapes with just the right vintage, which is all that the Media Village Idiots really care about, after all.

Think Progress: Rep. Louie Gohmert Cites Sowell’s Comparison Of Obama To Hitler On House Floor, Calls Him ‘Brilliant’

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) drew a comparison between President Obama and Hitler in a speech on the House floor last night that quoted a recent op-ed by conservative columnist Thomas Sowell. In his op-ed, Sowell argued that Obama’s call for BP to set up an escrow account to help oil spill victims in the Gulf was a sign that “American democracy is being dismantled, piece by piece, before our very eyes.”

Gohmert praised Sowell as a “brilliant man” and used his words to warn that there are “useful idiots” who want President Obama to be a dictator:

There’s a brilliant man named Thomas Sowell. And, um, I didn’t vote for Barack Obama in 2008, but I sure would have voted for Thomas Sowell. This man, well, his article says quite a lot. His editorial, um, says here — and it’s just been posted this week — but it says, “When Adolph Hitler was building up the Nazi movement in the 1920’s” — and I’m quoting from Thomas Sowell in his editorial:

‘leading up to his taking power in the 1930s, he deliberately sought to activate people who did not normally pay much attention to politics. Such people were a valuable addition to his political base, since they were particularly susceptible to Hitler’s rhetoric and had far less basis for questioning his assumptions or his conclusions. ‘Useful idiots’ was the term supposedly coined by V.I. Lenin to describe similarly unthinking supporters of his dictatorship in the Soviet Union.’

And this isn’t in the article — this is my comment — but we do have useful idiots today, who are heard to say, ‘Wow, what we really need is for the president to be a dictator for a little while.’ They know not what they say.

Gohmert then read another section of Sowell’s editorial that claimed that Obama’s push for the BP escrow fund violated the Constitution. “Just where in the Constitution of the United States does it say that a president has the authority to extract vast sums of money from a private enterprise and distribute it as he sees fit to whomever he deems worthy of compensation?” read Gohmert. “Nowhere.” Watch it:

This is not the first time Gohmert has made radical, sensational claims. For instance, in 2009, he said that Democrats want another terrorist attack in order to pass a jobs bill. It’s also not new for someone on the right to equate the Obama administration with Hitler’s Germany. (HT: Political Correction)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Just Like Hitler

DougJ: Reichstag oil spill

The very serious Thomas Sowell:

At about the same time, during the worldwide Great Depression, the German Reichstag passed a law “for the relief of the German people.”

That law gave Hitler dictatorial powers that were used for things going far beyond the relief of the German people — indeed, powers that ultimately brought a rain of destruction down on the German people and on others.

If the agreement with BP was an isolated event, perhaps we might hope that it would not be a precedent. But there is nothing isolated about it.

But don’t forget, someone compared Bush to Hitler in the comments of Daily Kos diary in 2005.

  • Matthew Yglesias adds:

    In addition, I note that yesterday noted fascism scholar and moron Jonah Goldberg observed that there’s a slippery slope from infrastructure projects to Auschwitz:

    Jay — Just because you brought up the term. A lot of people don’t know this, but it’s hardly like the Nazis invented the term. It dates back to the 19th century, but was popularized in Germany by the Weimar Republic, which took to inscribing the phrase on many large public-works projects, not just at Auschwitz — which of course was built by the Nazis, who continued the practice. The Orwellian undertones to the phrase are real, and the associations with the Holocaust are horrific, but Arbeit Macht Frei was a popular “progressive” slogan on the road to serfdom.

    Note that absent the final sentence this might merely be an asinine offhand observation, but the invocation of the road to serfdom makes it both offensive and absurd.

    As an aside, while the Moscow-directed Communist Party of Germany played a role in facilitating Hitler’s rise to power via relentless attacks on the Social Democrats, the main “progressive” German party, then and now, was the Social Democrats who tirelessly and effectively opposed Hitler. Eventually the non-Nazi center-right parties decided that they preferred Hitler to the SPD and turned the reigns over to him once he achieved a large minority of the vote.

mistermix: The Issue is Closed

Joe Barton keeps his job as Ranking Member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. John Boehner:

Following a closed-door meeting with GOP lawmakers, the top-ranking House Republican told reporters that “Mr. Barton apologized to the members for his poor choice of words, he retracted his statement last week and apologized and the issue is closed.”

I don’t know if this is as stupid as it seems, but it sure seems mighty dumb. I guess Boehner figured that canning Barton wouldn’t have stopped the inevitable ads anyway.

Rep. Joe Barton (R) has done a fair amount of apologizing lately. It started with a public apology to BP, which was soon followed by an apology for the apology. The right-wing Texan privately began apologizing to Gulf Coast Republicans, and apologized to his caucus this morning for all the trouble he caused.

And with that last apology, the House Republican leadership decided to let Barton off the hook, treating the whole fiasco as oil under the bridge.

But some of us cynical types can't help but wonder if maybe Barton isn't quite sincere about his regrets. Dave Weigel noted this morning that Barton has apparently reversed course on his half-hearted repentance.

Hours after getting a respite from House Republicans, Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.) has cheekily responded to criticism over his "apology to BP" by tweeting a link to an American Spectator article titled, "Joe Barton was right."

The article by Peter Hannaford is a robust defense of what Barton said, knocking the Obama administration for "Alinsky" tactics and hatred of business.

Let me try to put this in a way Barton will understand. When a lawmaker is sincerely sorry about an ostensible mistake, and believes he was wrong, he doesn't turn around hours later to boast publicly that he was right. It's the kind of move that suggests his apology was made for the sake of political expedience.

Interestingly, Barton's office scrambled to remove the tweet -- it has, of course, been captured with screen-grabs -- and the right-wing American Spectator piece is either currently unavailable or has also been removed. It reinforces the notion that Barton probably realizes he's screwed up -- again.

And in the larger context, by one measure, it appears Joe Barton has now unapologized for apologizing for his apology.

Remember, this guy is the leading House Republican on matters related to energy and climate policy. Seriously.

Update: Greg Sargent put it this way: "It's a head-spinner: Barton apologizes to BP. Then he apologizes for his apology. Then he unapologizes and says he was right all along. And now he's trying to expunge any sign that he unapologized. Maybe Barton should just stop talking. Plug his damn hole already."

Yglesias: Lessons from the Decline of Cap and Trade

Mark Kleiman observes that once upon a time market-simulating pollution-control regulations like emissions fees or cap and trade were the official policy doctrine of the conservative movement, put forward as superior to centralized regulation. He says “was sympathetic to that critique, and frustrated about the environmental movement’s unwillingness to see reason.” But of course now that environmentalists want such pollution controls, conservatives hate them. He draws an inference that I think is correct:

Remember this the next time a conservative explains how we ought to voucherize public education. The minute that happens, the conservatives will come back and decide that we need to means-test the vouchers. That done, they’ll attack the remaining program as “welfare.”

That’s exactly right if you ask me. Another major example I can think of is the Earned Income Tax Credit, once touted as the conservative alternative to welfare and/or restoring the real value of the minimum wage, but now supported almost exclusively by liberals while conservatives castigate the poor for not paying taxes. Section 8 housing vouchers, put forward as an alternative to public housing and then repeatedly cut by GOP congresses is another one. Of course this kind of consideration doesn’t invalidate any given idea—I think auctioned, tradable emissions permits actually are the best way to regulate most sources of pollution and that housing vouchers are superior to old-school public housing. But this kind of continual pulling away of the football by the conservative movement makes it quite difficult for us to reach stable consensus around decent policies.

Think Progress: OK GOP Gov. Candidate: BP’s Spill Proves Government Should ‘Never Be Involved In The Private Sector’
Rep. Joe Barton’s (R-TX) apology to embattled BP CEO Tony Hayward for the government’s efforts to ensure compensation for Gulf coast residents last week highlighted two competing visions of government. The first is the progressive vision, that says government should aggressively champion the public interest, holding massive corporations accountable. The second, Barton’s, is the reflexive conservative embrace of big corporations.

GOP state senator Randy Brogdon (OK), who is the “tea party favorite” in his race for the Republican nomination for governor in his state, indicated that he fully and absolutely endorses the second vision. Instead of placing blame on BP for the massive environmental and economic disaster that it has caused in the Gulf of Mexico, Brogdon claimed that government is “the problem” and that the spill is a “perfect example of why government should never be involved in the private sector”:

In Oklahoma, where oil and natural gas drive the state’s economy, tea party favorite Randy Brogdon, a Republican candidate for governor, said federal involvement in the BP disaster is only making the situation worse.

“This is a perfect example of why government should never be involved in the private sector,” said Brogdon, a state senator campaigning on limited federal government. “Government is not the solution. It’s the problem. The more government tries to get in and regulate the free market, the worse things become.”

Of course, BP’s oil disaster may have resulted from too little — not too much — government involvement. Although the exact cause of the disaster is still unknown, there is a growing mountain of evidence that suggests BP’s own corporate negligence, combined with Bush-era regulators turning a blind eye to safety violations, are what created the environment that led to the oil spill.

It would be interesting to know exactly what Brogdon means by saying the oil disaster proves that the government should “never” be involved in the private sector. Does Brodgon believe, for example, that BP’s malfeasance should end government regulation of child labor, the minimum wage, food and drug safety, and airline travel?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

What John said ... and said ....

Cole was in rare form today.
John Cole: And Then You Have This
Shorter Jackson Diehl: I find the whole concept of civilian control of the military to be baffling. Also, has Truman apologized to McArthur yet?
John Cole: We Should All Be So Lucky To Be So Unknown

Ed Morrissey, pivoting off of Jackson Diehl, offers this up:

Another part is that Obama failed to sanction those who went to the media to fight out the dispute. Neither Biden nor Gates got a dressing-down like McChrystal will get, even though both owe some loyalty to the man in the Oval Office. Biden would have remained a daffy, gaffe-prone backbencher in the Senate had it not been for Obama’s inexplicable decision to choose Biden as a running mate.

When Biden was “inexplicably” selected (if Biden’s pick was inexplicable, how would you describe Palin?), he had been in the Senate for four decades, had chaired the Judiciary and Foreign Relations committees, and had a legislative record that was quite accomplished, along with the fact that Obama and Biden had become quite close on the campaign trail and in the Senate together.

I’m reasonably sure Ed has no idea what the terms back-bencher or inexplicable mean. Some might even say that Biden was actually a pretty big fucking deal as far as US politicians go.

This is what I seriously don’t get about current movement conservatism- they are simply operating in their own made-up fictional universe in which history and the English language mean different things to them than to anyone outside the cult.

John Cole: Good Thing His Ruling Went This Way

Otherwise he’d be an activist judge:

A New Orleans federal judge lifted the six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling imposed by President Barack Obama following the largest oil spill in U.S. history. Shares of drilling services companies jumped on the news.

Obama temporarily halted all drilling in waters deeper than 500 feet on May 27 to give a presidential commission time to study improvements in the safety of offshore operations. More than a dozen Louisiana offshore service and supply companies sued U.S. regulators to lift the ban.

U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman today granted a preliminary injunction, halting the moratorium. Government lawyers told Feldman that ban was based on findings in a U.S. report following the sinking of the Deepwater Horizon rig off the Louisiana coast in April.

“The court is unable to divine or fathom a relationship between the findings and the immense scope of the moratorium,” Feldman said in his 22-page decision. “The blanket moratorium, with no parameters, seems to assume that because one rig failed and although no one yet fully knows why, all companies and rigs drilling new wells over 500 feet also universally present an imminent danger.”

I love that last paragraph, which appears to be legalese for “Drill, baby, drill!” Let’s re-write it so it accurately reflects the current state of affairs:

“The blanket moratorium, with no parameters, assumes that because all the parties involved have demonstrated they not only don’t know what caused or these disasters or how to prevent these disasters, they don’t know how to stop them, so it is in the interest of everyone involved that we recognize that all companies and rigs drilling new wells over 500 feet universally present an imminent danger.”

Because that is the real situation. I have no idea how it can be considered illegal for our regulatory regime to ban behavior that could lead to catastrophes until those being regulated can assure us the activity is safe. Stating the government must prove that each individual well is unsafe before banning it turns the whole concept of regulation on its head.

*** Update ***

Isn’t this precisely the situation in which recusals are required:

The federal judge who overturned Barack Obama’s offshore drilling moratorium appears to own stock in numerous companies involved in the offshore oil industry—including Transocean, which leased the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig to BP prior to its April 20 explosion in the Gulf of Mexico—according to 2008 financial disclosure reports.

U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman issued a preliminary injunction today barring the enforcement of Barack Obama’s proposed six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling, arguing that the ban is too broad.

However, Michael Moore is fat, so we aren’t really an oligarchy.

*** Update #2 ***

From the comments:

imagine if this logic were applied to the war on drugs…you can’t declare a drug addictive, because people have gotten addicted. you have to show that everyone who uses the drug in question, becomes addicted….


John Cole: Ayn Rand They Ain’t

So Orlando is naming a road after President Obama, and this has the folks at Reason so mad that they are… calling the mayor fat:

Buddy Dyer, the city’s porcine mayor (who should definitely not be confused with Budd Dwyer), decided that millions should be spent on the Obama Parkway so that Orlando can keep families intact…

Stay classy, Reason.

What Rachel said.

Rachel: "I know they are Al Qaeda, right, but is it ok to point out that they are ridiculous?" "Like the reject pile at talk radio tryouts."
In Afghanistan, many goals, many strategies
Rachel Maddow talks with counterinsurgency expert David KilCullen about the challenges in achieving the dual goals in Afghanistan of defeating al Qaida and the Taliban in stabilizing Afghanistan and withdrawing from that country.

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

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Sunday Insanity

mistermix: Not That Hard

Here’s a high-school kid putting the DC Press Corpse to shame. Substantial questions about important issues, good preparation and persistence are all that it takes. (via)

DougJ: Party like it’s 1998

Since this hasn’t happened yet, it may be too early to declare that no one could have predicted (warning: Politico link):

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.


In other words, Issa wants to be to the Obama administration what Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.) was to the Clinton administration — a subpoena machine in search of White House scandals.


With little policy work to get done, Republicans would focus on fighting and investigating Obama.

If Republicans gain control of the House, there is no question they will attempt to impeach Obama, for SestakGate, for iPodGate, for Henry Louis GatesGate. I don’t think there’s any question that much of the liberal media will support impeachment too. I am pretty confident that the public will not support it.

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DougJ: I wonder why this is happening

Remember, folks, Glenn Beck, Rush, and the rest are just entertainers:

Among the more troubling were incidents that arose from residents’ seething resentment that anyone from the government would seek their personal information.

Some people pointedly mentioned President Obama.

While conducting follow-ups in an upscale Seattle neighborhood, Grover Ellis said he came across a woman who considered him an agent of Obama, not the U.S. government.

“The idea of the census just enraged her,” said Ellis, 64, stressing that the overwhelming majority of people he met were welcoming and responsive. “The way she saw the census, she was required to help Obama. And she wasn’t going to do anything to help out Obama.”


In a rural part of California’s Nevada County northeast of Sacramento, two census workers told authorities that a man ordered them off his land. He mentioned his submachine gun, then followed them down the drive with a crossbow in hand. No charges were brought against the resident, the sheriff’s department said.

This is all going to get a lot worse, of course. When terrible things happen it will probably be the work of liberal plants.

  • from the comments on the same story at Washington Monthly:
  • Personal Failure
    • My mother was a census taker in 2000. She loved it (seriously, listening to my mom giggle about interviewing prostitutes and drug dealers was a little weird), but after hearing what Bachmann and Beck were saying about the census, she was too scared to do it again this time.

    Think about that: my mom giggled about spending time with criminals, but was terrified of Beck's listeners.

Think Progress: Fleming, who ‘applaud[ed]’ doctor for posting sign refusing Obama patients, reaffirms position.

In April, a right-wing urologist in Florida who put up a sign stating, “if you voted for Obama … seek urologic care elsewhere.” At the time, Rep. John Fleming (R-LA), a leading conservative in the Republican doctors caucus, told a town hall audience that he “applaud[s]” what the Florida doctor “said and did.” Fleming had suggested that the doctor has a “First Amendment” right to deny care based on political affiliation — a right that appears nowhere in the Constitution. On Thursday, ThinkProgress caught up with Fleming at an event hosted by the GOP Healthcare Solutions caucus on Capitol Hill. Fleming explained that he stands by his comments and still supports the doctor’s right to put up the anti-Obama patients sign, but as a physician, he would not do the same. He also said the doctor was not truly denying patients, despite the clear message of the sign:

TP: What about the doctor who posted a sign that would deny Obama voters, patients into his office, you applauded him. Do you still think that is a good idea, and would you recommend doctors in your district to do that?

FLEMING: That’s not an accurate characterization of what I said. I said I applaud the right that he has to post a sign and it says that those who supported Obamacare need not come for service. Truth of the matter is, he never said that he would refuse care to him. He clearly said he was not even asking them. He just simply was making a political statement, that’s a First Amendment right. I also stated that I myself as a physician would not have done that. But I would support the right of any American in their First Amendment right to political speech.

Watch it:

The Florida doctor has faced wide condemnation for his sign, and Fleming was widely criticized after ThinkProgress reported on his remarks. MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann exclaimed on his show, “Really? He‘s got a first amendment right to see patients based on how they voted? Is that the same first amendment right to doctors in the south used to invoke and to refuse treatment of black people or keep them out of hospitals?” Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL), the congressman who represents the district of the Florida doctor discriminating against Obama voters, said, “Maybe he thinks the Hippocratic Oath says, ‘Do no good.’ If this is the face of the right-wing in America, it’s the face of cruelty.”

Booman: Who's Afraid of Haley Barbour?

Yeah, I'm sure Haley Barbour would make a whale of a presidential candidate. His delusional and pro-drilling rhetoric since the spill started in the Gulf have enabled him to "help shift his political image from that of an insider party boss to an out-front crisis manager — and possible presidential candidate in 2012." How's this gonna sound on the trail?

VAN SUSTEREN: Governor, I have a little audio problems, I must confess. But let me ask you about tomorrow's meeting with the president with the BP officials. What is it that you want to hear him ask and discuss tomorrow?

BARBOUR: Well, look, BP is responsible to pay for everything. 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 so that they can pay that income to our citizens in Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, Louisiana, and to pay for all the damages done. BP needs to pay, is supposed to pay, must pay every penny. 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.

How is it going to make it less likely that BP will pay for everything if they put $20 billion up front at $5 billion per year? If $5 billion per year is going to bankrupt them, then they're not paying everything back anyway.

And then there is this:

He has also made a smattering of offense-bringing remarks over the years. Most recently, he defended Gov. Robert F. McDonnell’s omission of slavery from his Confederate History Month proclamation in Virginia, saying the uproar was “just a nit” and “something that doesn’t matter for diddly.”

If that's not a winner with the youth vote, maybe this will win them over.

Mr. Barbour has been generally muted in his criticism of BP and was among the first Republicans to object to the Obama administration’s insistence on a $20 billion BP escrow account to settle damage claims. He has also warned against efforts by the left to turn the spill into a regulatory cause célèbre.

“A bunch of liberal elites were hoping this would be the Three Mile Island of offshore drilling,” Mr. Barbour recently told the Mississippi Manufacturers Association.

I live in Pennsylvania. Three Mile Island was a molehill compared to the Gulf spill, and everyone knows it.

But very serious people tell me that Haley Barbour, former tobacco lobbyist, is going to be a great threat in 2012.

The traditional model was never especially controversial, and there was no real reason to question it. Politicians who wanted to garner public support would engage political reporters in the hopes of reaching voters and getting their message out, and would generally complain if the press ignored them.

The traditional model is quickly being replaced, and for the first time, we're finding multiple statewide candidates -- Kentucky's Rand Paul and Nevada's Sharron Angle, for the example -- who simply ignore reporters' questions and blow off interview opportunities. The fear, of course, is that reporters might ask them to explain their extreme policy positions. The politicians can try, but that only serves to remind voters of the inherent radicalism.

Eric Boehlert had a great item the other day explaining that a certain former half-term governor helped establish the new playbook, and some of the nuttier candidates are following it closely.

I've been writing about Palin's press boycott for months now, simply because we've never seen anything like this. We've never seen a high-profile politician categorically refuse to engage with serious, independent journalists. And we've certainly never seen a politician stiff the press and then have the press lay down in response. We've never seen the press so willingly get steam-rolled before. But with Palin and her news media boycott, that's exactly what's happened: Palin refuses to acknowledge their existence (except to ridicule it) and in return they fawn over her.

So why is anybody surprised that controversial senatorial candidates such as Angle and Paul, after having recently stepped in on the campaign trail, are now duplicating Palin's strategy and declining to talk to legitimate, non-partisan reporters? That's right, we now have two major party candidates running for state-wide office who pretty much won't answer questions from reporters.

This is beyond unprecedented. It's Bizarro World.

Quite right. Palin, Paul, and Angle will talk to outlets that agree in advance to help -- Fox News, Human Events, right-wing talk radio shows -- and blow off everyone else. It's simply a matter of cowardice, since it's easier to hide from journalists and avoid public scrutiny than it is to explain extreme positions that make the politicians appear ridiculous.

If political reporters at major outlets disapprove, as one might assume, news organizations are going to have to start adapting to the new model. As a practical matter, cowardly politicians like Palin know that outlets will run stories about her Facebook postings, for example, usually without scrutiny. It's a scam -- she doesn't have to endure questions she can't answer, but she can still get her message out by manipulating news organizations that treat Twitter messages and blog missives as qualitatively the same thing as interview quotes. For reporters, the goal should be to characterize the "silent treatment" from right-wing candidates as genuinely scandalous, not something media professionals will accomodate or encourage.

Unless the media resists these tactics more assertively, it's only a matter of time before Republican candidates boycott professional journalists in even larger numbers. It an incentive structure that's awful for the press, and considerably worse for democracy.