Saturday, May 29, 2010

Glenn Beck smears Obama's 11-year-old daughter

by Simon Maloy

Glenn Beck, who repeatedly and angrily tells his alleged persecutors to "leave the families alone," spent a good chunk of his radio program this morning mocking and attacking the intelligence of President Obama's 11-year-old daughter, Malia.

Obama remarked yesterday during his press conference that Malia asked him of the Gulf oil spill: "Did you plug the hole yet, Daddy?" Beck, taking off on this, mockingly affected Malia's voice, asking "Daddy" why he "hates black people so much." Then Beck attacked Malia's intelligence, saying: "That's the level of their education, that they're coming to -- they're coming to Daddy and saying, 'Daddy, did you plug the hole yet?' "

This routine continued for several minutes, as Beck and his co-hosts touched on a variety of topics and laughed the entire time, all of it at the expense of an 11-year-old girl.

UPDATE: Glenn Beck apologizes:

In discussing how President Obama uses children to shield himself from criticism, I broke my own rule about leaving kids out of political debates. The children of public figures should be left on the sidelines. It was a stupid mistake and I apologize--and as a dad I should have known better.

Transcript below the jump:

BECK: (imitating Malia) Daddy? Daddy? Daddy, did you plug the hole yet? Daddy?

PAT GRAY (co-host): (imitating Obama) No I didn't, honey.

BECK: (imitating Malia) Daddy, I know you're better than [unintelligible]

GRAY: (imitating Obama) Mm-hmm, big country.

BECK: (imitating Malia) And I was wondering if you've plugged that hole yet.

GRAY: (imitating Obama) Honey, not yet.

BECK: (imitating Malia) Why not, daddy? But daddy--

GRAY: (imitating Obama) Not time yet, honey. Hasn't done enough damage.

BECK: (imitating Malia) Daddy?

GRAY: (imitating Obama) Not enough damage yet, honey.

BECK: (imitating Malia) Daddy?

GRAY: (imitating Obama) Yeah?

BECK: (imitating Malia) Why do you hate black people so much?

GRAY: (imitating Obama) I'm part white, honey.

BECK: (imitating Malia) What?

GRAY: (imitating Obama) What?

BECK: (imitating Malia) What'd you say?

GRAY: (imitating Obama) Excuse me?

BECK: (laughing) This is such a ridiculous -- this is such a ridiculous thing that his daughter-- (imitating Malia) Daddy?

GRAY: It's so stupid.

BECK: How old is his daughter? Like, thirteen?

GRAY: Well, one of them's, I think, thirteen, one's eleven, or something.

BECK: "Did you plug the hole yet, daddy?" Is that's their -- that's the level of their education, that they're coming to -- they're coming to daddy and saying 'Daddy, did you plug the hole yet?' " Plug the hole!

GRAY: (imitating Obama) Yes, I was doing some deep-sea diving yesterday, and--

BECK: (imitating Malia) Daddy?

GRAY: (imitating Obama) Yeah, mm-hmm, mm-hmm, I was doing--

BECK: (imitating Malia) Why--

GRAY: (imitating Obama) Yeah, honey, I'm--

BECK (imitating Malia) Why, why, why, why, do you still let the polar bears die? Daddy, why do you still let Sarah Palin destroy the environment? Why are -- Daddy, why don't you just put her in some sort of a camp?

M.C.L comment: Hey Beck this one is for you:

Beck kid: Daddy I was surfing the internet and there's a blogger in Detroit saying you used to be a drunk, cracked out bastard. Is that true?

Glenn Beck: Honey I used to be a alcoholic and I used to do drugs but that's in my past. But I'm not a bastard.

Beck kid: But daddy he also said you look like a retarded Muppet baby..

Glenn Beck: Hey that's mean.

Beck Kid: He also said when you was on drugs you traded special kind of favors for your drugs.. What were those favors daddy?

GlennBeck: I don't want to talk about it...

Beck kid: He said something about reach-arounds for coke...

Glenn Beck: I don't want to talk about that...

Beck Kid: He also said when you go into bars you try to drink the beer that sometimes spill into ash trays.

Glenn Beck: That was a lucky guess on that socialist communist blogger part...

Beck Kid: Daddy what's a right wing ball sucking douchebag of the fourth degree?

Glenn Beck: I.. I..

Beck kid: He also said the kind of people who watch your show are fat, white racist who have no lives of their own..

Beck kid: He also said if you combine the IQ points of your audience it would be 30 points.

Don't get mad Glenn I was only joking...

‘Top kill’ has failed, BP admits

By Raw Story

UPDATE: 'No change' in flow of oil, BP exec says

Oil giant BP admitted on Saturday that its fourth attempt to stop the oil leak at the Deepwater Horizon -- known as "top kill" -- has failed.

"I don't think the amount of oil coming out has changed," BP's chief operating officer, Doug Suttles, told reporters. "Just by watching it, we don't believe it's changed."

According to government estimates, between 18 million and 40 million gallons of oil have poured into the Gulf of Mexico since the rig exploded on April 20, killing 11 workers.

Writing at Business Insider, finance reporter Joe Wiesenthal says BO will likely be "taken off the job" on the oil spill, because of the bad publicity the failed efforts at stopping the leak have given the Obama administration.

Having BP run the show has been a disaster for a couple of reasons. One is that Obama has to defend the company's actions, and two is that BP is HORRIBLE at PR, waiting hours to give updates that everyone is clamoring for. Watch for the military to take over, though using BP's resources and of course BP's dime.


Engineers tried Saturday to plug an oil gush spewing crude into the Gulf of Mexico after US President Barack Obama visited the disaster area and vowed never to abandon those imperiled by it.

As BP pleaded for patience to allow time for its risky and complex "top kill" to work and plug the massive leak, Obama pledged "to continue to do whatever it takes to help Americans whose livelihoods have been upended by the spill."

The US president, clad in hiking boots and with his sleeves rolled up, ordered the number of workers feverishly trying to contain and clean up the spill along the southern US coastline to be tripled.

He toured an oil-slick blighted Louisiana beach, picking up tar balls to examine them, as he outlined his administration's "historic response" to the disaster which has spewed millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

His second trip to the region since an April 20 explosion tore through the Deepwater Horizon rig, 80 kilometers ( 50 miles) off shore, came as experts and residents hold their breath, hoping BP can stop the oil flowing from a fractured pipe.

Government scientists estimate some 12,000 to 19,000 barrels of crude a day have been gushing into the Gulf since the rig sank two days after the blast which killed 11 workers.

"I think the key element here is to exercise patience," said BP's chief operating officer Doug Suttles, adding the operation would last another 24 to 48 hours.

The British energy giant is using robotic submarines to pump heavy drilling fluids down the wellhead, hoping to drown the leak long enough to allow engineers to then seal it with cement.

"We'll have periods where we're pumping. We'll have periods where we're monitoring results of that pumping. We'll have periods where we actually pump in this, what we call junk," Suttles said, seeking to allay concerns over why BP had stopped the pumping several times since it began on Wednesday.

The New York Times said Saturday the operation was marked by "an apparent lack of progress," pointing out that officials said they would continue with the process for another 48 hours before giving up and considering other options, including another containment dome to try to capture the oil.

The disaster has already closed stretches of coastal fishing waters, endangering livelihoods which are also dependent on tourism, and threatening a catastrophe for Louisiana marshes, home to many rare species.

"I'm here to tell you that you're not alone. You will not be abandoned. You will not be left behind," Obama promised to local residents. "We are on your side and we will see this through."

He said 20,000 people had already been deployed to contain and clean up the spill, but that he had ordered Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and US Coast Guard chief Admiral Thad Allen to "triple the manpower in places where oil has hit the shore or is within 24 hours of impact."

Allen, who has been charged with overseeing the government's response, said initial signs suggested BP's "top kill" was succeeding.

"They have been able to push the hydrocarbons down with the mud. The real challenge is to put enough into the well to keep the pressure where they can put a cement plug over the top," he said on ABC's "Good Morning America."

Government data released Thursday would mean between 18.6 million gallons and 29.5 million gallons of oil have poured into the Gulf -- far more than the roughly 11 million gallons of crude spilled in the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster.

Amid the environmental catastrophe, there were also growing fears for the health of cleanup workers exposed to the oil and chemical dispersants.

Four more crewmen aboard ships helping burn off surface oil were evacuated to hospital late Friday after falling ill, a day after the US Coast Guard announced that seven workers were evacuated for medical emergencies.

Obama said 910,000 meters (three million feet) of hard boom had already been deployed in an effort to stop the oil spill reaching wetlands and beaches. But he admitted "there's a limited amount" available.

"We're going to try to get more boom manufactured, but that may take some time," he said.

The commander of a federal research ship who has spent five days out at sea on the edges of the slick said a heavy smell of oil hung over the area.

"It's a strong smell out there," said commander Shepard Smith of the Thomas Jefferson, a 204-foot survey vessel. "It smells like freshly creosoted railroad ties."

BP said Friday the oil spill had cost the firm about 930 million dollars, while the company's market value has also dropped by billions.

-- With AFP

This video is from President Obama's tour of Louisiana beaches affected by BP's oil spill, shot May 28, 2010, as snipped by Mediaite.

Former Argentine president says Bush told him ‘the best way to revitalize the economy is war.’

By Zaid Jilani

Oliver Stone’s new documentary South of the Border, which interviews several left-wing leaders of Latin American countries, has unearthed a startling new allegation from Argentina’s former president Néstor Kirchner. During his interview with Stone, Kirchner said he once discussed global economic problems with former President George W. Bush. The former Argentine president says that when he suggested a new Marshall Plan, referring to the WW II-era European reconstruction plan, Bush “got angry” and suggested that “the Marshall Plan is a crazy idea of the Democrats.” Instead, Kirchner says, Bush suggested that “the best way to revitalize the economy is war”:

KIRCHNER: I said that a solution for the problems right now, I told Bush, is a Marshall Plan. And he got angry. He said the Marshall Plan is a crazy idea of the Democrats. He said the best way to revitalize the economy is war. And that the United States has grown stronger with war.

STONE: War, he said that?

KIRCHNER: He said that. Those were his exact words.

STONE: Is he suggesting that South America go to war?

KIRCHNER: Well, he was talking about the United States: ‘The Democrats had been wrong. All of the economic growth of the United States has been encouraged by wars.’ He said it very clearly.

Watch it:

It is worth noting that despite the prosecution of two major wars, there was very minimal net job growth during Bush’s tenure as president. And of course, he bequeathed an economy that suffered massive job losses in his wake.

Beck Accuses Jewish Social Justice Worker Of Advocating A New Holocaust

By Faiz Shakir In a Washington Post op-ed last month, Simon Greer — the president and CEO of Jewish Funds for Justice, an organization that helps people achieve social and economic security by

investing in healthy neighborhoods — bluntly rebuked Glenn Beck for his war against social justice.

“Mr. Beck, you are a con man and America is not buying it,” Greer wrote. “When churches, synagogues, mosques, and other houses of worship across this country advocate for social justice, advocate for the common good, advocate for America, they, and we, walk in God’s path.”

Yesterday on his radio station, Beck responded the only way he knows how — with hyperbolic, extreme rhetoric referencing Nazi imagery. Beck said that Greer’s advocacy for the common good and social justice “leads to death camps.” “A Jew, of all people, should know that,” Beck added. “This is exactly the kind of talk that led to the death camps in Germany.” (Media Matters has the audio.)

After hearing Beck’s radical rant, Greer responded with this statement yesterday afternoon:

Glenn Beck has a history of recklessly invoking Nazi Germany and the Holocaust in order to advance his political agenda. But never before has Beck accused Jews – including survivors of the Holocaust and their children and grandchildren – of paving the way for fascism. Through his comments, Beck has demonstrated that he has no idea what leads to fascism. Jews and others, who were victims of the Holocaust, do not have the luxury of his ignorance.

Beck’s reflexive hatred for government is rejected by Americans of all backgrounds, who have seen the powerful role government can play in providing us with greater freedom, security, and opportunity. I am proud of the work we do at Jewish Funds for Justice, where our belief that we are all made in the image of the divine compels us to petition private enterprise, charities, and yes, the government, to do their part to ensure our shared divinity.

Just last month, Beck was deploring the use of Nazi comparisons when invoked to describe the anti-immigrant Arizona law. “You’re out of your mind!” Beck said of those drawing such parallels. But as many have noted, throwing out Nazi comparisons is specialty of Beck’s. Mocking Beck’s Nazi obsession, Comedy Central’s Lewis Black commented, “Glenn Beck has Nazi Tourette’s.”

Update American Jewish Committee Executive Director David Harris is now calling on Beck to apologize, saying, "We agree with Simon that Beck unconscionably crossed the line by invoking Nazi and Holocaust imagery to advance his political agenda. Exploiting the most painful and tragic period of the twentieth century diminishes Holocaust victims and survivors, and cheapens the millions of Americans who sacrificed their lives to defend our nation’s cherished values and to defeat Hitler.”

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Legal experts reject Fox's allegation that Sestak was "bribed"

By Media Matters Fox News has seized on false allegations that the White House "bribed" Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA) with an administration job in exchange for staying out of a Senate race and claimed it would amount to an "illegal" and possibly "an impeachable offense." In fact, legal experts have rejected the claims that such offers are a bribe or illegal. Fox: Supposed WH "bribe" is "illegal" Napolitano: "It is illegal." On the May 26 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy stated that "it sounds like if somebody in the White House said, hey, Joe, drop out of this race so Arlen Specter just has a cakewalk. If somebody said -- and then we'll give you a job at the White House or in administration, that sounds like a bribe. That's got to be illegal." Fox News contributor Judge Andrew Napolitano replied that "[i]t is illegal." From the program: NAPOLITANO: It is illegal. I mean, if that's the conversation, this is going to -- if Congressman Sestak can be compelled to speak, and I can tell you how that will happen if you want to hear it, it will be his version of what happened versus the other person in the conversation's version. If it was -- are you interested in a job in the administration? End of conversation. Not a crime. If it was a quid pro quo, as you suggested -- are you interested in a high-ranking job in the administration if you leave Arlen Specter alone? That is an attempted bribe. If more than one person was involved on the offering end, it's conspiracy to bribe. It's interference. It's attempted interference with a federal election, and if more than one person was involved on the offering end, it's conspiracy to -- to affect the outcome of an election by an impermissible means. Each one of those carries five years in federal prison. So as Dick Morris said yesterday, how high up the food chain does this go? Would Rahm Emanuel -- I'm just suggesting a hypothetical. I have no idea with whom Congressman Sestak spoke. But if Rahm Emanuel made this offer, would his boss have known about it? Carlson asks Issa whether the offer would be an "impeachable offense," and Issa compares it to "the Nixon-era Watergate situation." Later in the program, co-host Gretchen Carlson hosted Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) to discuss his request for a "special counsel to investigate" the allegations. Issa compared the situation to "Watergate" and said that "there's been an allegation of what could be up to three felonies." Carlson also asked whether the allegations, if true, amounted to "an impeachable offense," and Issa replied, "I think it was Dick Morris who said that, and you know, you can only impeach the president. You can't impeach his staff. So the real question is: Was this a staff decision? Did Rahm Emanuel do this on his own? Until we know who made the offer, we really don't know." On Fox News' Hannity, Morris had claimed that if the allegation was true it would amount to an "impeachable offense." MacCallum, Napolitano suggest the "worst-case scenario" is impeachment. On America's Newsroom, co-host Martha MacCallum said the "situation is stirring up a real hornet's nest of questions about whether the White House may have broken any laws." Her guest, Napolitano, said that "if someone [in the White House] said, if you're interested in the secretary of the Navy and you'd leave Arlen Specter alone, call me -- that is an attempt to bribe, that is an attempt to influence the outcome of a federal election. And if others were involved, it's a conspiracy as well." Later, MacCallum asked Napolitano whether the "worst-case scenario" could be impeachment for Obama if he were involved. Napolitano replied: NAPOLITANO: Well, the Constitution provides three bases for impeachment: high crimes and misdemeanors, treason, and bribery. Now, if -- these are all ifs, Martha -- if the president was involved and if the president dispatched someone who worked for him and if that person was told, offer Sestak whatever you have to to get him out of the race against Arlen Specter, that would form the basis for an impeachable offense. Legal experts dispute claims that a crime was committed Bush ethics lawyer calls claim that a job offer is a bribe "difficult to support." In a post on the Legal Ethics Forum blog, former Bush administration chief ethics lawyer Richard Painter wrote: "The allegation that the job offer was somehow a 'bribe' in return for Sestak not running in the primary is difficult to support." Painter also wrote: The job offer may have been a way of getting Sestak out of Specter's way, but this also is nothing new. Many candidates for top Administration appointments are politically active in the President's political party. Many are candidates or are considering candidacy in primaries. White House political operatives don't like contentious fights in their own party primaries and sometimes suggest jobs in the Administration for persons who otherwise would be contenders. For the White House, this is usually a "win-win" situation, giving the Administration politically savvy appointees in the Executive Branch and fewer contentious primaries for the Legislative Branch. This may not be best for voters who have less choice as a result, and Sestak thus should be commended for saying "no". The job offer, however, is hardly a "bribe" when it is one of two alternatives that are mutually exclusive. Painter: "[D]ifficult to envision applying" bribery statute to Sestak job offer. In a subsequent blog post replying to Issa's call for a special prosecutor to be appointed to investigate possible criminal charges, Painter wrote: "The Administration probably should provide the information needed to clarify what happened, but the bribery statute citied by Congressman Issa is, for reasons explained in my previous post, difficult to envision applying to this situation." CREW executive director: "I don't see the crime." CNS News reported that Melanie Sloan, a former federal prosecutor, commented of the allegations: "I don't see the crime." From the March 24 CNS News article: "People offer members of Congress things all the time," Melanie Sloan, a former federal prosecutor and now the executive director of the liberal government watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), told "I don't think there is any issue. I don't see the crime." [...] If it is true, such a trade would be an indictment of the system, Sloan of CREW said, but not likely illegal. "A quid pro quo has to offer something of value in exchange for something," Sloan said. "If you agree not to run for the Senate and we'll make you secretary of the Navy -- that offers no monetary value. It's just the unseemly side of politics." Sloan: "There is no bribery case here." Talking Points Memo's Zachary Roth reported in a May 25 post that "several experts tell TPMmuckraker this is much ado about nothing" and quoted Sloan saying, "There is no bribery case here. ... No statute has ever been used to prosecute anybody for bribery in circumstances like this." Sloan also said: "It's not at all about whether there was actual criminal wrongdoing. ... It's about how to go after Sestak." Brand: "I don't put much stock in this, and I don't think its gonna go anywhere." Roth also quoted Stan Brand, a "prominent Washington criminal defense lawyer," saying that "people horse trade politically all the time. ... So I don't put much stock in this, and I don't think its gonna go anywhere." Zeidenberg: "Horrible precedent" to treat "horsetrading" "in the criminal context." Roth also quoted Peter Zeidenberg, a former federal prosecutor with the Justice Department's Public Integrity unit, saying "Talk about criminalizing the political process!... It would be horrible precedent if what really truly is political horsetrading were viewed in the criminal context of: is this a corrupt bribe?" Kaufman: "Tell me a White House that didn't do this, back to George Washington." The New York Times reported that Ron Kaufman, who served as President George H.W. Bush's White House political director, "said it would not be surprising for a White House to use political appointments to accomplish a political goal. 'Tell me a White House that didn't do this, back to George Washington,' Mr. Kaufman said." Wash. Post: "[E]thics laws do not seem designed for this circumstance." In a May 25 editorial, The Washington Post stated: "Would it be illegal? Mr. Specter said so, but ethics laws do not seem designed for this circumstance. Ordinarily, bribery takes place in the opposite direction: Government officials aren't usually the ones offering something of value. Other statutes prohibit officials from using their power to interfere in an election, or to, directly or indirectly, promise a job as 'reward for any political activity.' But these have been understood to prevent official coercion, not criminalize horse-trading." The editorial continued: Still, the White House position that everyone should just trust it and go away is unacceptable from any administration; it is especially hypocritical coming from this one. "I'm not going to get further into what the conversations were," Mr. Gibbs said Sunday. "People that have looked into them assure me that they weren't inappropriate in any way." This response would hardly have satisfied those who were upset during the previous administration about the firing of U.S. attorneys. If there was nothing improper, why not all that sunlight Mr. Obama promised? Reagan administration reportedly offered job for candidate to step down Reagan adviser reportedly offered CA senator a job with the administration "if he decided not to seek re-election." A November 25, 1981, Associated Press article (from the Nexis database) reported that President Reagan's political adviser Ed Rollins planned to offer former California Sen. S.I. Hayakawa a job in the administration in exchange for not seeking re-election. From the AP article: Sen. S.I. Hayakawa on Wednesday spurned a Reagan administration suggestion that if he drops out of the crowded Republican Senate primary race in California, President Reagan would find him a job. "I'm not interested," said the 75-year-old Hayakawa. "I do not want to be an ambassador, and I do not want an administration post." [...] In an interview earlier this week, Ed Rollins, who will become the president's chief political adviser in January, said Hayakawa would be offered an administration post if he decided not to seek re-election. No offer has been made directly to Hayakawa, Rollins said. Similarly, Hayakawa said in a statement, "I have not contacted the White House in regard to any administration or ambassadorial post, and they have not been in contact with me." AP: "Ethics attorneys in Washington said such offers are common." A February 19 AP article reported: "Ethics attorneys in Washington said such offers are common. Melanie Sloan, director of the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, described it as 'politics as usual.' " Wash. Post: "This would hardly be the first administration" to offer a job to "clear the field." A May 25 Washington Post editorial critical of the Obama administration's response stated: "At the same time, of course, political considerations play a role in political appointments. This would hardly be the first administration to use appointments to try to clear the field for a favored candidate."

Matty's angst: DRIC bridge gets House approval

ByCurt Guyette That thunderous, angst-filled groan you might have heard yesterday was coming from Grosse Pointe billionaire and Ambassador Bridge owner Manuel “Matty” Moroun, who saw likely competition from a new, publicly owned span take a big step closer to reality when the Michigan House voted to move forward with what’s known as the Detroit River International Crossing. And that loud clanging that filled the air? That would have been the Moroun machine moving into high gear in preparation for what will certainly be an all-out effort to get the DRIC — a cooperative effort between Michigan, the U.S. Federal Highway Administration, Transport Canada and the Ontario Ministry of Transportation — killed in the Michigan Senate. If the House vote is any indication, approval of the DRIC by the GOP-controlled Senate is anything but certain. House approval came on a narrow 56-51 vote, without a single Republican voting in favor of a plan that supporters say will create about 10,000

construction jobs. Even Canada’s offer of a $550 million loan to help cash-strapped Michigan cover its costs wasn’t enough to convince the House’s GOP members that the project is worthwhile. What supporters have working in their favor is this: Along with labor unions, the DRIC bridge planned for the Delray area also has the backing of the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce, automakers and high-powered Republicans like Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson and former Gov. John Engler. So, the prospect of jobs and widespread support vs. the deep-pocketed lobbying of Matty the mogul. The stage is set for an intense battle. One leader in that fight, state Rep. Rashida Tlaib, has been a persistent thorn in Moroun’s side. So much that he’s widely believed to be the one behind a failed attempt last year to launch a recall of Tlaib. Along with being a force in helping to get the DRIC measure passed by the House, the Democrat from southwest Detroit also led the way in getting a companion bill passed yesterday that requires the Michigan Department of Transportation to assist “host communities” in obtaining a community benefits agreement with state or private entities involved in construction of an international border crossing. In other words, along with the traffic, Tlaib is working to make sure that Delary will reap some direct good if the DRIC is built.

Charlie Crist flip-flops to support ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ repeal.

By Alex Seitz-Wald When Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (I) announced that he would leave the Republican party to run for the Senate as an independent, he indicated that he would be more free to support “ideas that I believe are good ideas for the people,” instead of just following “one club’s decision.” Indeed, after long supporting “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” Crist has announced that he is now in favor of the new comprise legislation, which would repeal the policy but allow the Pentagon to complete its study before the repeal is implemented. In a statement, Crist said the compromise will ensure that the new policy is “what is best for our military“:

“Ultimately, as in all military matters I defer to the Pentagon and to the Generals and what the Senate is doing today is giving them the ultimate authority to do what is best for our military. So, I would be inclined to support the Senate’s action on this.

Crist has maintained a traditionally conservative record on LGBT issues, though there is some evidence to suggest he may adopt a more progressive stance now that he has been liberated from the Republican Party. He has said he is “fine” with civil unions, and in 2007, he asked the GOP to stop spending money promoting “a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in Florida” in 2007.

M.C.L Comment: See what happens when you stop pandering to the nuts on the right..

Fox News Anchors: ‘We Can’t Trust BP’

By Brad Johnson

Five weeks into the worst environmental catastrophe in the history of the United States, even the right-wing Fox networks are turning on BP, the foreign oil behemoth responsible for the hundred-million-gallon oil gusher now fouling the shores of Louisiana. On Monday, Fox News anchor Shepard Smith challenged top White House adviser David Axelrod why the administration continues to trust BP, whose CEO Tony Hayward bet the disaster will have a “very very modest” impact on the Gulf of Mexico, claimed BP had “contained” the spill, and complained that Americans are too litigious:

And this is the chief executive of the company that’s in charge of cleaning up this disaster now? Who calls us litigious? Who makes comments about the comparative volume of oil and then says the environmental impact is very minimal? And this is the guy we as Americans are supposed to entrust with the largest ecological disaster in American history? Tony Hayward?

On Wednesday, Fox Business Network anchor Liz Claman interviewed John Williams, executive director of the Southern Shrimper Alliance, whose industry is threatened with extinction by the millions of gallons of dispersed oil contaminating the Gulf Coast. Claman noted that “we can’t trust BP”:

I think one thing we do know is that we can’t trust BP with information at this point. They were the ones, absolutely, you’re correct, who said, “Oh, don’t worry, the oil will not reach the beaches.” Oh, come on!

Watch a compilation:

This righteous anger at big oil is a remarkable turnaround for the networks that lied about the oil spills caused by Hurricane Katrina, deny the threat of oil pollution to the planet, and shilled for offshore drilling during the “Drill, Baby, Drill” summer of 2008.

Update Various media outlets are reporting that BP’s “top kill” procedure has apparently halted the flow of oil and gas from the well.

Report: More than 113 Census workers threatened and attacked this month.

By Matt Corley

Last week, a routine visit by a U.S. Census worker in Yuba City, California ended in violence when “police officers shot and killed a woman they said had first threatened the worker with a gun, then later confronted officers with a shotgun.” The Washington Post’s Ed O’Keefe reports today that the threat against a Census worker was not an isolated incident. In fact, the Census Bureau says that “more than 113 census takers have been the victims of assaults or attacks this month”:

In response to inquiries by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), Census Director Robert Groves said the bureau’s temporary workers knocking on doors to collect information have faced 29 threats involving a gun, four robberies and three instances of being held against their will or carjacked. Seven workers died in car accidents and one was killed while off duty.

The Census Bureau hired about 635,000 people to follow up with people who did not return questionnaires by the end of April. The process is more than half completed, and is scheduled to continue into July.

Bureau officials said the overall pattern and types of incidents are similar to the 2000 census, but cautioned this year’s figures are already much higher than ten years ago and include a mix of news accounts and formal reports to the bureau’s safety office.

As ThinkProgress has noted, for months, conservatives have spread unfounded fears and rumors about the Census, and some have even endorsed intimidating Census workers. In April, CNN contributor and RedState editor Erick Erickson threatened on his radio show to “pull out my wife’s shotgun” if a Census worker approached his home for the American Community Survey.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

With O'Keefe's plea, when will Breitbart apologize to New Orleans law enforcement?

by Eric Boehlert

The long-expected news came today that Andrew Breitbart's protégé, and fake pimp, James O'Keefe plead guilty for his role in the Keystone Kop adventure from last January when he and his right-wing friends dressed up as telephone repair men and entered the New Orleans offices of Sen. Mary Landrieu. Not a good idea.

Today, O'Keefe and pals plead guilty to entering property belonging to the United States under false pretenses.

As I said, that was never in doubt, in part because O'Keefe and company quickly admitted to the scheme. But that didn't stop Breitbart from concocting all sorts of loopy talking points and half-baked defenses for O'Keefe, who was being paid by Breitbart at the time of his New Orleans arrest. (Yes, Breitbart was paying O'Keefe a salary, but Breitbart claims he had no idea what his employee was doing at the time.)

One of the more comical claims that Breitbart made during his desperate attempts at spin control last winter was to attack New Orleans law enforcement. as well as the Dept. of Justice and even Attorney General Eric Holder, and claim there were all in a wide-ranging conspiracy to frame O'Keefe. (Because he's just that important!)

Behold the incoherence:

And yes, there was this:

Of course, the U.S. Attorney's office for the Eastern District in Louisiana denied the absurd charge.

But now that O'Keefe has admitted his guilt, isn't it time for to apologize? After all, if O'Keefe really had been framed, why would he plead guilty? His guilty plea basically demolishes Breitbart's crazy cover-up talk from last winter.

And Andrew, you really ought to stop bashing law enforcement. That's not a very conservative value!

M.C.L Comment: I still wonder who's funding Andrew Breitbart? I haven't heard of this douchebag until the whole ACORN story broke late last year.. From what I've seen and heard of Andrew Breitbart dude is nothing more than a loud mouth douche who can only spout out right wing talking points and trying to be a Billy Badass in front of other Bilyl Badass wannabes.. So I doubt he can run and well organized right wing attack machine. Much like David Horowitz I believe Andrew Breitbart is getting his money and support from a right wing sugar daddy.

K Street Lobbyists Hope To Make John Boehner The Next Speaker: He’s ‘A Good Investment’

By Lee Fang Minority Leader Rep. John Boehner’s (R-OH) ability to corral his caucus into opposing reform is paying off dividends in his bid to become the next Speaker of the House. Roll Call reports this morning that lobbyists view Boehner as a “good investment,” and that Boehner has assembled a “kitchen cabinet” of lobbyists to organize his fundraising operation. According to the article, Boehner has leaned on these lobbyists to pressure their clients to increase their contributions to vulnerable Republican lawmakers. Already, Boehner’s outreach has helped his own campaign war chest swell to $3.2 million, while his leadership PAC had brought in $1.9 million by the end of March.

Boehner promised that if he becomes the next Speaker, he will create a more “open” and “transparent” Congress. But Boehner’s courtship of K Street undermines that claim, especially considering the fact he has consistently prioritized the interests of lobbyists over the public over the past year:

– In July of 2009, Boehner interrupted House proceedings so Republican lawmakers could attend his annual “Boehner Beach Party” fundraiser with corporate lobbyists. [Politico]

– In December of 2009, Boehner convened a meeting with 100 corporate lobbyists to plot strategy to defeat Wall Street reform. [Roll Call]

– In January of 2010, Boehner mobilized the House Republican retreat. In an interview with ThinkProgress, Boehner said he didn’t know if any corporate lobbyists would be there. However, ThinkProgress traveled to the retreat, and found lobbyists from Microsoft, Goldman Sachs, and the health insurance industry not only in attendance, but helping fund the event. [ThinkProgress]

– In March of 2010, Boehner addressed the American Bankers Association, telling corporate lobbyists to fight financial reform. “Don’t let those little punk staffers take advantage of you,” Boehner implored the bank lobbyists, encouraging them to stand up to Capitol Hill staffers. [MarketWatch]

Boehner has been known for his cozy relationship with K Street lobbyists ever since he handed out campaign contribution checks from tobacco lobbyists on the House floor in the mid-90s. When Republicans controlled Congress, Boehner and Rep. Roy Blunt (R-MO) were the point men for former Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) in communicating with corporate lobbyists. And in 2006, he was caught living in a house owned by a lobbyist who had sought legislative favors from him.

Boehner’s track record suggests he is indeed a good investment for corporate lobbyists. But his promise of more transparency and open government fall flat given his relationship with influence peddlers.

GOP won’t allow ideas to raise taxes on new site, but Hitler references and anti-Hispanic rhetoric are ok.

By Ben Armbruster House Republicans launched a new website (America Speaking Out) yesterday to “listen” to Americans’ policy ideas in order to craft a new Party agenda. However, the site is not an open forum for just any idea. Project leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said the GOP will stick to its “principles” — meaning they won’t incorporate any idea they don’t already agree with. Moreover, the new site comes with some caveats. “Someone who wants to come on and make the suggestion on how to raise taxes, for example,” said Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL). “They are welcome to do that, [but] that’s not something that we are going to take up.” Also discouraged? “Suggestions on amnesty or a path to legalization for illegal immigrants and anything pro-choice.” However, it appears that references to Hitler are just fine. In addition to mentions of Hitler, the Washington Post’s Dana Millbank reports some other rather odd and offensive suggestions the GOP has allowed on America Speaking Out:

End Child Labor Laws,” suggests one helpful participant. “We coddle children too much. They need to spend their youth in the factories.”

“How about if Congress actually do thier job and VET or Usurper in Chief, Obama is NOT a Natural Born Citizen in any way,” recommends another. “That fake so called birth certificate is useless.” [...]

“Don’t let the illegals run out of Arizona and hide. … I think that we should do something to identify them in case they try to come back over. Like maybe tattoo a big scarlet ‘I’ on their chests — for ‘illegal’!!!” (Filed under “job creation.”) [...]

“I oppose the Hispanicization of America,” said one. “These are not patriotic people.” Another contributor had parody in mind (we hope): “English is are official langauge. Anybody who ain’t speak it the RIGHT way should kicked out.”

The Wonk Room’s Andrea Nill observes some other friendly suggestions on the website, such as: “Why support illegal immigration to bring this country down to the level of Mexcico [sic]? Whe [sic] to the Hispanics just go home?”

Far Right Christian Group Warns That ‘Gay Blood’ Will Destroy Our Military If DADT Is Repealed

By Alex Seitz-Wald

The right has been girding for a fight to defend the military’s discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) policy after the White House and some members of Congress reached an agreement this week that will likely repeal it. House Republicans are “preparing to mount a vigorous defense” of the policy, Sen. John McCain is threatening a filibuster, and right-wing Christian groups are pressuring conservative lawmakers to toe the party line.

Today, right-wing hate-monger Cliff Kincaid’s group America’s Survival launched a repulsive fear campaign against repeal, warning that “disease-tainted gay blood threatens our troops.” The group’s abhorrent video — and the 60 page report that accompanies it — present ludicrous stereotypes of gay men and women, going so far as to claim that “open and active homosexuals into the U.S. military could very well result in the spreading of deadly HIV-tainted blood throughout the ranks”:

Of course, all would-be soldiers undergo mandatory HIV screening and are not allowed to serve if they are found to be positive. Kincaid mentions this, but as Joe.My.God noted, the press release “cites the singular example of an HIV-positive soldier infecting a 17 year-old male he met in a chat room. Because if it happened ONCE out of all those millions of soldiers…”

Kincaid goes on to warn that repealing DADT will lead to “transgendered individuals who want to dress up as members of the opposite sex and would cry ‘discrimination’ if they are not allowed to do so.” Ignoring the fact that service members of both genders often wear identical uniforms, Kincaid’s only example of this allegedly real threat is a fictional character from the TV show MASH.

TPM notes that, in a separate bit of right-wing hate mongering, the Family Research Council is warning that repealing DADT “will turn the U.S. military into a terrifying free-rape zone” where straight service members “will be fellated in their sleep against their will” and commanders are powerless to resist.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

FLASHBACK: When the NY Times ignored gaping holes in candidate Bush's war record

by Eric Boehlert

One of the striking talking points that came out of The New York Times in the wake of its controversial article last week about whether Connecticut Democrat Richard Blumenthal had, over the years, exaggerated his military service during the Vietnam War era, was the insistence from the Times that the story was a deeply important one and one that needed to be covered. The Times, faced with stiff criticism for its handling of the Blumenthal story, seemed to suggest it had a moral obligation, not to mention a newsroom duty, to look closely at the military service rhetoric from a New England politician running in a statewide election.

A Times flack even appeared to lecture Blumenthal about how he needed to be straight with Nutmeg State voters.

But I'm having a tough time buying the Times' sudden devotion to the topic, considering that during the 2000 presidential campaign, the same Times staff went out of its way not to report on the web of detailed allegations that Republican George Bush had failed to fulfill his military obligation while defending Texas air space as an Air National Guard pilot and that the presidential candidate had routinely lied about that fact. For that story, the Times team shrugged. But it's decided this spring to go all-in over Blumenthal? Seems strange.

Now, I realize that it's been an entire decade since the 2000 campaign played out and that most people don't recall what the coverage was like -- and specifically have virtually no memory of how Bush's Air National Guard story was covered. But I'm not overstating things when I say the Times' stubborn failure to cover the controversy really did mark one of the true cases of journalistic malpractice of that crucial campaign season.

The full scope of Bush's lack of Guard service was revealed on May 23, 2000, when The Boston Globe's Walter Robinson reported a Page One piece detailing all the holes in Bush's military service: "1-Year Gap in Bush's Guard Duty; No Record of Airman at Drills in 1972-73."

After combing through 160 pages of military documents and interviewing Bush's former commanders, Robinson reported how Bush's flying career came to an abrupt and unexplained end in the spring of 1972 when Bush asked to be transferred so that he could work on a family friend's Senate campaign in Alabama. But Bush's Alabama commander, Lt. Col. William Turnipseed, told the Globe that Bush never showed up for duty. (A trained pilot, Bush asked to be reassigned to an Alabama base that had no airplanes.) In 2000, a group of veterans offered a $3,500 reward for anyone who could confirm Bush's Alabama service -- and nobody from Bush's unit stepped forward.

What did the Times do with the Globe's startling A1 campaign scoop, suggesting Bush may have gone AWOL during his mandatory Guard service? The Times ignored it, with a passion. (And yes, this was the same Times news team that spent the 2000 campaign routinely casting aspersions on Al Gore's character and trustworthiness.)

Consider this: The Times' Frank Bruni tailed Bush obsessively on the campaign trail that year, filing more than 200 dispatches. But he never once referenced in print the Globe allegations. (Just try to imagine the Times' reaction if, during the 2000 campaign, the same Boston Globe had reported on Page One that Gore's discharge papers from Vietnam showed he rigged his wartime duty and orchestrated an early exit by simply refusing to report for duty during the final two years of his commitment.)

During 2000, the Guard story never landed on Page One of the agenda-setting New York Times. In fact, the Guard story barely even made it inside the daily, while key facets were boycotted. Here's how many times in 2000 the Times, supposedly busy scouring the backgrounds of the candidates, reported the fact that Bush was grounded by his Guard superiors in 1972 for failing a mandatory physical: zero.

Just more than a week after The Boston Globe had raised serious questions about Bush's Guard service, the Times ran a May 31, 2000, story headlined "Bush Questions Gore's Fitness for Commander in Chief." The article noted that some were "questioning the nature of Mr. Bush's military service in the Vietnam War," but did not provide any further detail about the substance of the criticism. Instead, the Times simply reported that "Mr. Bush did not serve overseas but instead served in Houston in the Texas Air National Guard." The article made no mention whatsoever of the thorny allegations swirling about Bush's lack of military service.

On July 11, 2000, the Times' Nicholas Kristof wrote a biographical feature on Bush's life during the Vietnam War: " Close to Home; Bush's Choice in War: Devoid of Passion or Anxiety." The feature omitted any reference to questions about Bush's absenteeism, getting grounded, failing to take a physical, and walking away from the Guard for months at a time.

Kristof actually spent most of 2000 carefully -- even aggressively -- avoiding the issue of Bush's Guard service, which wasn't easy since, during that campaign season, Kristof wrote nearly 50,000 words on Bush, the equivalent of a 170-page book. Kristof functioned as the Times' in-house Bush biographer, and yet Kristof failed to report completely on the uncomfortable Guard issue, even after The Boston Globe pointed out all the holes in Bush's record.

But Kristof was hardly alone at the Times. It was a determined team effort to play dumb.

In late July, the Times got around to addressing Bush's wartime experience with an article headlined "Governor Bush's Journey; After Yale, Bush Ambled Amiably Into His Future." Certainly a piece focusing on Bush's post-Yale years in the late '60s and early '70s would center its attention on the troubling allegations raised by The Boston Globe, right? Wrong. It wasn't until 2,500 words into the article that the thorny issue was detailed. In total, the Times article dedicated about 300 words to the entire controversy, giving readers the sketchiest outlines of Bush's perplexing missing year from the Texas Air National Guard. And that fleeting, buried reference represented the bulk of the Times' coverage for most the entire campaign.

In a September 4 article on the campaign debate over military readiness, the Times referenced the fact that "Mr. Bush trained as a fighter pilot in the Texas National Guard during the Vietnam War." The Times politely omitted any mention of Bush's Guard controversy.

Twenty days later, the Times reported, "An array of veterans, including senior officers who served under Mr. Clinton and Mr. Gore, last week endorsed Mr. Bush, who served as a fighter pilot in the Texas National Guard during the Vietnam War and was, for the record, a lieutenant." Again, the article politely omitted any mention of Bush's Guard controversy.

It wasn't until the eve of the election that the Times set aside an entire news article to examine some of the crucial questions raised by the Globe. The Times' conclusion in November 2000? See for yourself [emphasis added]:

Two Democratic senators today called on Gov. George W. Bush to release his full military record to resolve doubts raised by a newspaper about whether he reported for required drills when he was in the Air National Guard in 1972 and 1973.

But a review of records by The New York Times indicated that some of those concerns may be unfounded. Documents reviewed by The Times showed that Mr. Bush served in at least 9 of the 17 months in question.

That's right, half a year after the Globe published its scoop, the Times finally addressed the issue, announcing in the second paragraph that some questions about Bush's Guard service were "unfounded." ("The Times got spun," was how the Globe's Walter Robinson later described the Times' Guard reporting.)

Indeed, by the time Election Day rolled around, the Times had failed to report that in 1972, the Texas Air National Guard grounded Bush for failing to take a required physical exam and that neither Bush nor his aides could point to a single person who saw Bush -- the hard-to-miss son of a congressman and U.S. ambassador -- perform his active duty requirements during the final 18 months of his service. (It would be 45 months after the first Boston Globe report -- February 2004 -- before the Times finally spelled out to readers with any kind of specificity the facts regarding Bush's skipped physical exam.)

Bottom line: In 2000, candidate Bush's military record during the Vietnam War was very much in doubt, as was Bush's repeated explanation as to why, after receiving $1 million worth of taxpayer-funded flight instruction, he had essentially vanished from the Guard and failed to fly, show up for monthly drills, or even take a mandatory physical. Yet back in 2000,The New York Times didn't seem to care much about that military-record story. And the Times newsroom seemed to make a decision not to cover the controversy -- a controversy that, given the historically close nature of the 2000 race, could have tipped the balance of the vote.

So, yes, given that stark background, it's tough to make sense of the Times' recent dedication to pursuing the Blumenthal story.

Report: Stabenow one of several members of Congress to receive death threats

By TODD SPANGLER WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan was one of several members of Congress who received death threats last year, according to a report released today by Politico.The Washington, D.C.-based publication reviewed FBI documents related to the threats which were released under a Freedom of Information Act request. In the meantime, the U.S. Senate’s sergeant at arms, Terrance Gainer, told Politico threats against members of Congress were up 300% in the first few months of 2010, as the health care reform legislation was passed.

In the case of Stabenow, a Democrat, Politico said the records showed a man left voice mail messages for her at several of her Michigan offices in February 2009.

“We’re gonna (expletive) get you,” the man said in one message, the publication reported. “We’re gonna get you with a lot of (expletive) bolt action. Like we did RFK; like we did MLK. We know who you are. We’ll get you.”

According to the records, FBI agents traced the calls back to a 54-year-old Texas man who once had many handguns, shotguns and rifles. He told law enforcement agents that he was “really, really drunk” when he made the calls and was just “venting” over concerns of government overreach.

Gov. Bob McDonnell Brings The NRA Into Virginia Elementary School Classrooms

By Amanda Terkel The right-wing Virginia government led by Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) has steadily been pushing the National Rifle Association’s (NRA) agenda, recently passing a law allowing “concealed carry permit holders to bring loaded guns” into bars. Now, McDonnell is bringing the NRA into elementary school classrooms to tell children to be careful around this proliferation of guns.

Earlier this year, the Virginia legislature passed a bill allowing public schools to “offer gun-safety education to students in kindergarten through fifth grade.” Included in the legislation was a provision directing these gun safety programs to use materials from the National Crime Prevention Center as well as the NRA:

The curriculum guidelines shall incorporate, among other principles of firearm safety, accident prevention and the rules upon which the Eddie Eagle Gunsafe Program offered by the National Rifle Association or the program of the National Crime Prevention Center is based.

There is no National Crime Prevention Center. However, there is a National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC) — the group behind McGruff the Crime Dog. But when McDonnell signed the legislation, he didn’t insert the NCPC’s name. Instead he offered this change:

Strike or the program of the National Crime Prevention Center.

With this simple move, McDonnell ensured that the NRA has a monopoly on elementary school classrooms. A McDonnell spokesperson “said that rather than fixing the name, the governor deleted it because the council doesn’t have a current stand-alone gun-safety program.” Lori Hass, a board member for the Virginia Center for Public Safety, a nonprofit committed to reducing gun violence, said McDonnell was “playing a game of semantics to force a lobby and their interests into the curriculum, into what they would offer local school boards.”

The NRA’s Eddie Eagle Safety Program has been around since 1988, and gives children this advice if they come upon a gun: “STOP! Don’t Touch. Leave the Area. Tell an Adult.” However, this program has been heavily criticized for being “insufficient.” As Paul Helmke, the president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, writes:

In fact, a study published in 2004 by the American Academy of Pediatrics found that children could memorize Eddie’s simple advice about avoiding guns, but that advice went unheeded when children were put in real-life scenarios and asked to role-play a response. Indeed, not a single child out of 11 in the Eddie Eagle program study “used the skills in a real-life situation.” The authors noted, “Studies have found that when children find guns, they often play with them,” and concluded: “Existing programs are insufficient for teaching gun-safety skills to children.”

Another study published in the late 1990s by the Violence Policy Center (VPC) noted that Eddie Eagle was like “Joe Camel with feathers,” pointing out that: “The primary goal of the National Rifle Association’s Eddie Eagle program is not to safeguard children, but to protect the interests of the NRA and the firearms industry by making guns more acceptable to children and youth... The hoped-for result is new customers for the industry and new members for the NRA.”

ThinkProgress recently attended the annual NRA convention, where we found that NRA members often disapproved of the extreme agenda pushed by the organization’s leadership, including the campaign to bring guns into bars and allow people on the terrorist watch list to have firearms.

Update A 2008 news report by WOAI NBC-4 in San Antonio, TX found that after a group of children went through the Eddie Eagle Gun Safety program, they nevertheless shortly thereafter picked up toy guns and played with them; one boy even "walked up to another child and pointed it at the child's face."

Big corporations work to kill unemployment benefits extension because it closes their tax loopholes.

By Pat Garofalo This week, the House of Representatives is working on a package extending several popular tax breaks as well as important social safety net provisions like

unemployment benefits and health insurance subsidies for laid-off workers. The bill costs about $200 billion, but is partially offset by a few tax changes, including the closing of a loophole that allow corporations to claim U.S. tax credits on profits earned overseas. These unjustified tax breaks have been on the radar of Congress’ tax writers for the last few years, but so far they’ve remained in the tax code due to pressure from big corporations. This time, even though the bill also extends some of their favored provisions, like the Research and Development tax credit, the Big Business lobby is fighting to preserve its ability to exploit tax loopholes, at the expense of the benefits extension:

International Business Machines Corp. and trade groups for major U.S. companies are pressing Congress to defeat a jobs bill containing billions of dollars in taxes on their global operations…In a letter to lawmakers yesterday, Armonk, New York-based IBM, the world’s biggest computer-services provider, told lawmakers it “strongly opposes” the legislation and would rather do without the research credit than face new taxes on overseas profits.

The Chamber of Commerce has, of course, weighed in on behalf of the corporations, claiming that the legislation is a “job killer.” Closing the loopholes in question would raise about $14.5 billion over ten years, or about $1.5 billion per year from the entire multinational corporation community. According to the National Employment Law Project, 1.2 million Americans who are currently eligible for extend will lose them in June if Congress doesn’t act. The Wonk Room has more.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Palin and Wallace compare Rand Paul's controversial Civil Rights comments to what "the press did" to Palin

M.C.L comment: Has Sarah Palin ever explain how what do you read is a gotcha question?

No, GOP, you can't have the car keys back Barack Obama seems to be finally realizing that the GOP needs to be confronted, not coddled

By Gene Lyons

One minor mystery of the Obama administration is whether the president has actually believed that the nation's most intractable problems could be solved by the wonder-working power of bipartisanship and the emollient balm of his personality. He wouldn't be the first politician whose ego convinced him he could sweet-talk his bitterest opponents.

Many Democrats think that the White House's ultimately futile quest for Republican healthcare votes only gave GOP imagineers more time to frighten gullible voters with falsehoods about "death panels" and such, weakening public support.

Until quite recently, it's been much the same with jobs and the economy. Despite unanimous Republican opposition to the administration's $787 billion stimulus bill and universal predictions of doom, the White House has often acted as if the party's reasonable leadership would eventually return to the politics of negotiation and compromise.

Instead, we've seen the GOP increasingly dominated by its irrational Chicken Little wing, seeing grim portents and predicting doom. Continuing their party's decades-long War on Arithmetic, Republicans act as if the highest form of patriotism is to demand tax cuts even as a USA Today analysis documents that "Americans paid their lowest level of taxes last year since Harry Truman's presidency ... Federal, state and local taxes -- including income, property, sales and other taxes -- consumed 9.2 percent of all personal income in 2009, the lowest rate since 1950, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reports."

The historic average has been 12 percent.

Along with the recession, the main reason was the Obama stimulus bill, which included one of the largest tax cuts for wage-earners in U.S. history, totaling $282 billion. Republicans opposed it anyway. Almost everybody got a substantial tax break, even if Tea Party patriots don't realize it.

Meanwhile, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the U.S. economy generated 290,000 jobs in April, the strongest month in four years. That brings new jobs created in 2010 to 573,000.

And how did GOP savants respond to the good news? Citing the unemployment rate, House Minority Leader John Boehner called it "disappointing news ... Washington Democrats have no coherent agenda to create jobs, and no interest in doing anything but continue to spend money we don't have on 'stimulus' programs that don't work."

Don't work? The National Journal's Ronald Brownstein puts things in perspective: "If the economy produces jobs over the next eight months at the same pace as it did over the past four months, the nation will have created more jobs in 2010 alone than it did over the entire eight years of George W. Bush's presidency." It's a fact. Should current growth persist, the U.S. economy will gain roughly 1.7 million jobs this year. From 2001 through 2008, the Bush economy generated about 1 million.

Of course, with 15.3 million Americans out of work, we're far from being out of the woods. Indeed, the nation's quickening economy has actually led to a slight uptick in the unemployment rate, as thousands who'd given up seeking work rejoined the labor market. But we can definitely see a path to greater prosperity.

Meanwhile, Republicans keep baying at the moon. On a recent "Fox News Sunday," former House Speaker Newt Gingrich gravely announced that "The [Obama] secular-socialist machine represents as great a threat to America as Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union once did."

Even host Chris Wallace was taken aback, asking, "Mr. Speaker, respectfully, isn't that wildly over the top?" Gingrich didn't think so.

A sane political movement would keep a prating coxcomb like Gingrich off television. Whether Newt actually believes this rubbish, or is merely following the Tea Party fife and drum corps around the bend, strikes me as of little interest. Politically, it's pointless to reason with crazy people -- make-believe or real.

Speaking recently in Buffalo, President Obama signaled that maybe he gets it. "When I took office," he said, "we were losing 750,000 jobs a month ... I had just inherited a $1.3 trillion deficit from the previous administration, so the last thing I wanted to do was to spend money on a recovery package, or help the American auto industry keep its doors open, or prevent the collapse of Wall Street banks whose irresponsibility had helped cause this crisis. But what I knew was if I didn't act boldly and I didn't act quickly ... we could have risked an even greater disaster."

Then, at a Manhattan fundraiser, Obama came up with the perfect metaphor. He said that Republicans had made a calculated decision to oppose all White House initiatives, and to hope for the worst. "So after they drove the car into the ditch, made it as difficult as possible for us to pull it back, now they want the keys back. No! You can't drive! We don't want to have to go back into the ditch! We just got the car out!"

Give 'em hell, Barack. Over and over until they get the message.

WSJ answers Palin: GOP received ‘far more’ campaign cash from oil and gas companies than Democrats did.

By Ben Armbruster Weeks after BP oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, Politico reported that during the last 20 years, the company and its employees gave more money to President Obama than any other federal political candidate. Yesterday on Fox News Sunday yesterday, Sarah Palin tried to make it into a wider narrative. “I don’t know why the question isn’t asked by the mainstream media and by others if there’s any connection with the contributions made to President Obama and his administration and the support by the oil companies to the administration,” she said. Palin wondered if there is “any connection there to President Obama taking so doggone long to…grasp the complexity and the potential tragedy that we are seeing here in the Gulf of Mexico.” Mainstream media outlet the Wall Street Journal did ask and it appears the answer doesn’t give cover to Palin’s charges:

According to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, Republicans receive far more campaign money from the oil and gas industry than do Democrats.

So far in 2010, the oil and gas industries have contributed $12.8 million to all candidates, with 71% of that money going to Republicans. During the 2008 election cycle, 77% of the industry’s $35.6 million in contributions went to Republicans, and in the 2008 presidential contest, Republican candidate Sen. John McCain received more than twice as much money from the oil and gas industries as Obama: McCain collected $2.4 million; Obama, $898,000.

Moreover, as Time’s Michael Scherer noted, the Politico article on BP’s donations “fails to provide the context readers need” considering Obama ran for president, and the numbers aren’t adjusted for “campaign inflation.” Even right-wing blogger Ed Morrissey warned the GOP not to “overplay their hand on this issue.”

Update Media Matters notes that Obama did not take any money from BP's PAC during his run for president. All of his donations came from BP employees.