Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Beck misleads about Kagan's arguments on political books, pamphlets

From Media Matters Glenn Beck falsely suggested that Elena Kagan, in arguing before the Supreme Court that the government could ban "certain political pamphlets," would have banned Thomas Paine's pamphlets. In fact, she was arguing the government's case that pamphlets by corporations and unions could be restricted, not those by individual citizens
From the June 30 edition of Fox News' Glenn Beck: BECK: Finally, this one made my eyes and ears bleed. First time I saw this, I couldn't believe it. Solicitor General of the United States Elena Kagan argued in front of the Supreme Court that the federal government had the constitutional authority to ban certain political pamphlets. Tell that to Thomas Paine. She also strongly implied that some political books, if they were partisan enough, could also be censored. She argues that she really wouldn't have a problem with it because the law really would never be applied anyway. The law Kagan was arguing to uphold wouldn't apply to Paine or any individual Kagan actually argued that the government could restrict corporate pamphlets that advocated for the election or defeat of a candidate. The statute at issue in Citizens United v. FEC -- a case argued before the Supreme Court in September 2009, with Kagan as solicitor general arguing the Obama administration's side -- banned corporations and labor unions from making "a contribution or expenditure in connection with any election at which presidential and vice presidential electors or a Senator or Representative in, or a Delegate or Resident Commissioner to, Congress are to be voted for, or in connection with any primary election or political convention or caucus held to select candidates for any of the foregoing offices." It did not bar individuals from making any contributions or expenditures and, due to regulations passed by the Federal Election Commission in response to a prior Supreme Court ruling that Congress could not constitutionally limit expenditures that did not expressly advocate for the election or defeat of a statute, did not ban corporations from making contributions or expenditures unless, in the words of the regulation, "the communication is susceptible of no reasonable interpretation other than as an appeal to vote for or against a clearly identified Federal candidate." Paine pamphlet did not argue for the election or defeat of a candidate. Thomas Paine's most famous pamphlet, Common Sense, argues in favor of the American Revolution, against the British monarchy, and in favor a new system of government for the newly independent colonies. Kagan didn't endorse banning books Kagan specifically argued that federal law had never banned books and likely could not do so. Beck played a segment of Kagan's argument -- in which she stated that if the government tried to ban books under campaign finance laws, "there would be quite good as-applied challenge" to the law -- to support his claim that Kagan "strongly implied that some political books, if they were partisan enough, could also be censored." Contrary to Beck's claim that Kagan was arguing that she "really wouldn't have a problem with it because the law really would never be applied anyway," Kagan was stating that the corporation attempting to publish the book would have a good constitutional case that the book couldn't be banned. Beck did not play audio from later in Kagan's argument in which she added: "[W]hat we're saying is that there has never been an enforcement action for books. Nobody has ever suggested -- nobody in Congress, nobody in the administrative apparatus has ever suggested that books pose any kind of corruption problem, so I think that there would be a good as-applied challenge with respect to that." Views Kagan argued as SG are not necessarily her own Legal experts say that Kagan's personal legal views can't be inferred from her actions as solicitor general. Pamela Harris, the head of Georgetown University's Supreme Court Institute, has said, "I don't think you can read almost anything" into the personal views of a solicitor general based on her representation of the United States. Lincoln Caplan, an expert on solicitors general, recently told The Washington Post, "It's a mistake to assume that every argument an SG makes on behalf of the government reflects her personal legal philosophy."

Pelosi To Boehner: You're Not Taking My Gavel

Sam Stein

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Cali.) said last Friday that she fully expects to hold on to her gavel even as Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) finishes every campaign-related speech by predicting he will be the next Speaker.

"Of course that's what he says," said Pelosi, in an exclusive interview with the Huffington Post. "Of course he does. But we are very confident we will [remain in power] because we don't take anything for granted. We run every race one race at a time, and I make it really clear to my colleagues that my responsibility is to reelect our incumbents, to win our Democratic open seats and then to go after some of their seats."

In a quick detour into the world of electoral politics, Pelosi predicted with gusto that Democrats will retain control of the House even during the likely tumultuous midterm elections. Part of the reason, she said, is that the slate of House Democrats in close races has already "fought the fight" with respect to health care reform, and has the time and confidence to win over their constituents before the election. The main factor, however, is that the GOP has yet to present itself as a threat.

Asked, for instance, about remarks from Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.) apologizing to BP for the pressure it received from the White House to set up a $20 billion escrow fund, Pelosi offered a tongue-in-cheek lament.

"[Gen. Stanley] McChrystal came right in and took him [off the front page]," she said, in reference to the former commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan who was relieved of his post after making disparaging comments about civilian leadership.

"But it's a gift that keeps on giving because you know what, they're saying that it's a gaffe," she added. "No, it's a clear indication of who they are and that's what you're going to see. We were fighting against the health insurance industry, Republicans said no. We're fighting against Big Oil, the Republicans said no. Democrats are fighting the big banks and financial institutions; Republicans said no. Not one of them voted for the regulatory reform. And on Big Oil, what more did we need than them apologizing? When people are desperate in the Gulf and they're apologizing."

These are, of course, the same broad themes that all Democrats, not just Pelosi, have pitched to voters as Election Day nears -- from the "party of no" label applied to the GOP during the early months of 2009, to the president's speech before a Wisconsin crowd this Wednesday.

But in offering optimism about the upcoming campaign, Pelosi also touched on some specifics. In particular, she took near glee in reflecting on the special election that recently took place for former Rep. Jack Murtha's seat in Pennsylvania.

"They were going to win," Pelosi said, reflecting on how much the GOP trumped its prospects for winning the seat. 'They had a big press conference planned the next day for the burial of the now-dead Democratic Party. And we were looking at them saying: 'You don't even know what you're talking about. We own the ground.'"

"Now, I don't put money into TV unless we own the ground," she added, "because you're just wasting money. And so in that race we had a great candidate and [Mark Critz]... 110,000 door knocks, 89-something thousand phone contacts, a message about jobs and message about repealing the law that allows business and [sic] gives them a tax break for sending jobs overseas. So I was thinking maybe about three points, a clear victory. It was eight and a half points. Eight and a half points! I don't know what they were thinking. But they thought... in other words, we had to go big in the Democratic area and try to control the damage in their area and we kept saying, "Wait until their counties come in."

Coburn Has ‘No Idea’ Whether He Would Have Voted To Confirm Thurgood Marshall

By Alex Seitz-Wald

One of the main lines of attack that Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee have deployed against Elena Kagan’s nomination to the Supreme Court is her clerkship under under Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American justice. They have had no qualms about blasting the civil rights legend, with Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) attacking Kagan’s association “with well-known activist judges who have used their power to redefine the meaning of our Constitution.” On Monday alone, Republicans mentioned Marshall 35 times during the hearing. By comparison, President Obama’s name was uttered only 14 times.

But today, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) went further than merely criticizing Marshall, telling ABC’s Top Line that he has “no idea” whether he would have voted to confirm Marshall, even while knowing his “entire record as a justice”:

KARL: How would you have voted, knowing all that you know — I mean, now you know his entire record as a justice — would you have voted no on a Thurgood Marshall nomination?

COBURN: I have no idea. I don’t know his writings. I think that’s an important part of her history, but not as important the two things that I just mentioned

Watch it:

Coburn joins fellow Judiciary Committee member Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), who said yesterday that it was “hard to say” whether he would have supported Marshall. As Salon’s Steve Kornacki noted, “That’s a rather stunning statement when you consider the dynamics of Marshall’s 1967 confirmation.” Only 11 senators voted against Marshall, and their opposition “had everything to do with race — and, more specifically, with lingering white Southern resentment of the court’s 1954 school desegregation ruling (in which Marshall, as the NAACP’s chief counsel, had played a leading role).” All 11 were White and Southern, and most had signed the “Southern Manifesto,” a pro-segregation document drafted by the late Sen. Strom Thurmond.

Moreover, Republicans can’t seem to provide any evidence to support their claim that Marshall was an “activist” judge. Talking Points Memo asked Coburn, Hatch, and Sessions which of Marshall’s opinions best exemplified his activism — “none of them could name a single case.” As the National Urban League’s Stephanie Jones wrote in today’s Washington Post, “Unlike many of his detractors, past and present, Marshall showed the utmost reverence for the Constitution” by defending equal rights for all Americans.

Commenting on the absurdity of Republicans’ attacks on Marshall, the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank wrote, “With Kagan’s confirmation hearings expected to last most of the week, Republicans may still have time to make cases against Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa and Gandhi.”

Obama Slams Boehner: Americans Know The Country Needs More Than An ‘Ant Swatter’ To Recover

By Think Progress In recent weeks, Republicans have been making headlines for their unabashed advocacy on behalf of Wall Street and big business at the expense of American taxpayers. In a recent interview with the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) compared the financial crisis to a poor little ant, and criticized Democrats for “killing” it with a “nuclear weapon” (i.e. financial reform).

Yesterday, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs went after Boehner and called him “completely out of touch with America.” A staffer for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) responded, “An ant, Mr. Boehner? It was the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression — Americans lost 8 million jobs and $17 trillion in retirement savings and net worth.”

Today at a town hall event in Racine, WI, President Obama went directly after Boehner, telling him that most Americans don’t think “the financial crisis was an ant and we just need a little ant swatter to fix this thing”:

The leader of the Republicans in the House said that financial reform was like — I’m quoting it — “using a nuclear weapon to target an ant.” That’s what he said. He compared the financial crisis to an ant. This is the same financial crisis that led to the loss of nearly eight million jobs. The same crisis that cost people their homes, their life savings. He can’t be that out of touch with the struggles of American families, and if he is, he should come here to Racine and ask people what they think. Maybe I’m confused. Do you think that the financial crisis was an ant and we just need a little ant swatter to fix this thing, or do you think that we need to restructure how we regulate the financial system so you aren’t on the hook again and we don’t have this crisis again?

When you ask men and women who’ve been out of work for months at a time, who talk about how they’ve been barely hanging on, they don’t think this financial crisis was something where you just need a few tweaks. They know that it’s what led to the worst recession since the Great Depression. And they expect their leaders in Washington to do whatever it takes to make sure a crisis like this never happens again.

Watch it:

Yesterday, ThinkProgress caught up with Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), who said that he agreed with Boehner’s comparison of the financial crisis to an ant.


As we speak, right now, we’re on the verge of passing the most comprehensive financial reform since the Great Depression — reform that will prevent a crisis like this from happening again. It will protect our economy from the recklessness and irresponsibility of a few on Wall Street. It will protect consumers against the unfair practices of credit card companies and mortgage lenders. It’s a reform that ensures taxpayers never engage in a bailout for Wall Street’s mistakes.

But I have to tell you — you would think this would be a bipartisan issue, don’t you? I mean, you’d think everybody would say, “Alright, what we were doing — that didn’t work. We really have to tighten things up a little bit.” But right now, most of our friends in the other party are planning on voting against this reform.

The leader of the Republicans in the House said that financial reform was like — I’m quoting it — “using a nuclear weapon to target an ant.” That’s what he said. He compared the financial crisis to an ant. This is the same financial crisis that led to the loss of nearly eight million jobs. The same crisis that cost people their homes, their life savings. He can’t be that out of touch with the struggles of American families, and if he is, he should come here to Racine and ask people what they think. Maybe I’m confused. Do you think that the financial crisis was an ant and we just need a little ant swatter to fix this thing, or do you think that we need to restructure how we regulate the financial system so you aren’t on the hook again and we don’t have this crisis again?

When you ask men and women who’ve been out of work for months at a time, who talk about how they’ve been barely hanging on, they don’t think this financial crisis was something where you just need a few tweaks. They know that it’s what led to the worst recession since the Great Depression. And they expect their leaders in Washington to do whatever it takes to make sure a crisis like this never happens again. So there may be those in Washington who want to maintain the status quo. But we want to move America forward.

Update Earlier today, Boehner responded to the criticism he's been receiving:
"They're the ones who are out of touch with what the American people expect of Washington," he said of the administration. "The American people want us to deal with the economy and jobs. And what have they dealt with? They've dealt with health care. They've dealt with cap and trade. And then they've gone overboard with financial regulatory bill. Growing the size of government, taking more from the American people at a time when Americans want them to focus in on the economy.

Boehner said his reference to an ant "was not a judgment of the financial crisis. It was how to fix it. Clearly there were holes in our regulatory process and we could have fixed those holes but that's not what this bill does. This bill goes way beyond all of that and puts the federal government in a huge role in terms of how our whole financial system's going to work in the future. That's what I was talking about."

Why Aren’t Tea Parties Demanding That The Government Hold BP Accountable On Behalf Of Taxpayers?

By Zaid Jilani Tea Party activists’ self-proclaimed mission is to demand lower taxes. TEA, in fact, stands for Taxed Enough Already. As a part of this anti-tax crusade, the Tea Party has vehemently opposed comprehensive health reform, clean energy legislation, and even mandatory garbage collection.

Given that these protesters take their name from the Boston Tea Party, which was organized around protesting an unfair tax benefit given to a massive British corporation, and that British oil giant BP’s oil disaster could end up costing taxpayers billions of dollars, you’d think that Tea Partiers would be demanding that the government hold BP accountable and make the corporation pay the full costs for its bad behavior, so that taxpayers don’t have to foot the bill.

Yet the Tea Partiers haven’t descended on BP’s headquarters or marched on Capitol Hill demanding, for example, that the government lift the $75 million oil spill liability cap on BP so that the damages it pays aren’t severely limited. On the contrary, they’ve attacked President Obama for securing a $20 billion escrow fund from BP to recompense victims of its oil spill and cozied up to politicians who’ve sided with BP. As the Associated Press noted last week, “Tea Party candidates [have stood] by BP to rail against President Obama.” Here are just a few examples of Tea Party organizers and Tea Party-endorsed politicians siding with the foreign oil giant against American taxpayers:

– Republican Study Committee chair Rep. Tom Price (R-GA), who headlined a Tax Day tea party in the nation’s capitol this year, derided the escrow fund as “Chicago-style shakedown politics.” [6/16/10]

– Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX), who has proudly boasted of supporting the “Tea Party movement and the people getting involved,” echoed Price’s language as he apologized to BP CEO Tony Hayword for the White House’s “shakedown” it performed while trying to hold his company accountable. [6/17/10]

– Conservative talk show host and chairman of the Tea Party Express Mark Williams compared Obama’s efforts to secure the escrow fund to those of “mobsters,” and added that where he comes “from, they call it extortion.” [6/21/10]

– The “tea party favorite” in the Oklahoma GOP gubenatorial primary, state senator Randy Brogdon, said that BP’s oil disaster was “a perfect example of why government should never be involved in the private sector,” while blasting efforts to properly regulate the foreign oil giant so that it couldn’t cause more devastation in the future. [6/21/10]

Without tough government action to make sure that BP pays for the own costs of its own disaster and doesn’t drop the tab on taxpayers — as leading right-wing figures like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce president Tom Donohue and House minority leader John Boehner (OH) have suggested — it is likely that the oil company will get off easy, much like Exxon did following its own oil disaster two decades ago.

If Tea Partiers truly want to defend taxpayers from facing undue burdens, it may be time for them to don their signs and demand that BP pay for the entire cost of its own disaster by lifting the oil spill liability cap and ask that the government end billions of dollars in special tax breaks for Big Oil (just as the original tea partiers wanted to end the tax advantages of the British East India Trading Company).

M.C.L Comment: Two reasons why the tea baggers aren't at the doors of BP's headquarters one their corporate masters aren't leading them there and two BP doesn't have a black guy in charge.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

National Review Online joins GOP's attack on Thurgood Marshall

by Adam Shah

Republicans spent a significant portion of the first day of the Elena Kagan hearing attacking Thurgood Marshall, the civil rights icon and the justice for whom Kagan clerked. Not willing to leave it to Republican senators, National Review Online has now joined in the attack.

In a June 29 post on National Review Online's Bench Memos blog, Robert Alt attacked Kagan for calling Justice Marshall's vision of the Court a "thing of glory."

Here's what Alt said in a post titled "What is a Thing of Glory?":

[I]f Kagan has a phrase that has caused her some difficulty, it is her praising as a "thing of glory" Justice Marshall's vision of the Court," which she characterized as demanding a special solicitude for the "despised and disadvantaged." In response to a question from Senator Kyl, Kagan said that what she meant by that phrase was that it was a thing of glory that the Court was open to all parties, particularly those who weren't able to get redress from other branches of government. But that reading is difficult to reconcile with what she actually said in the article, in which she stated: "And however much some recent Justices have sniped at that vision, it remains a thing of glory."

To accept Kagan's statement to Kyl, we would have to believe that justices were sniping about the Court being open to all parties. I don't recall any justice sniping about parties claiming injury getting their day in court. But some justices did recoil from Marshall's activist policies, such as those embodied by his infamous quote that "[y]ou do what you think is right and let the law catch up."

It is Marshall's quote that raises the real question for Kagan -- does she embrace a view of empathy, or solicitude for the despised and disadvantaged, or what have you that says that your policy preferences are more important than the law.

After the jump, you can read what Kagan actually said about Marshall in a law review piece in which she praised Marshall's vision that "demanded that the courts show a special solicitude for the despised and disadvantaged."

From Kagan's 1993 piece for the Texas Law Review:

The case I think Justice Marshall cared about most during the Term I clerked for him was Kadrmas v. Dickinson Public Schools." The question in Kadrmas was whether a school district had violated the Equal Protection Cause by imposing a fee for school bus service and then refusing to waive the fee for an indigent child who lived sixteen miles from the nearest school. I remember, in our initial discussion of the case, opining to Justice Marshall that it would be difficult to find in favor of the child, Sarita Kadrmas, under equal protection law. After all, I said, indigency was not a suspect class; education was not a fundamental right; thus, a rational basis test should apply, and the school district had a rational basis for the contested action. Justice Marshall (I must digress here) didn't always call me "Shorty"; when I said or did something particularly foolish, he called me (as, I hasten to add, he called all his clerks in such situations) "Knucklehead." The day I first spoke to him about Kadrmas was definitely a "Knucklehead" day. (As I recall, my handling of Kadrmas earned me that appellation several more times, as Justice Marshall returned to me successive drafts of the dissenting opinion for failing to express -- or for failing to express in a properly pungent tone -- his understanding of the case.) To Justice Marshall, the notion that government would act so as to deprive poor children of an education -- of "an opportunity to improve their status and better their lives" was anathema. And the notion that the Court would allow such action was even more so; to do this would be to abdicate the judiciary's most important responsibility and its most precious function.

For in Justice Marshall's view, constitutional interpretation demanded, above all else, one thing from the courts: it demanded that the courts show a special solicitude for the despised and disadvantaged. It was the role of the courts, in interpreting the Constitution, to protect the people who went unprotected by every other organ of government -- to safeguard the interests of people who had no other champion. The Court existed primarily to fulfill this mission. (Indeed, I think if Justice Marshall had had his way, cases like Kadrmas would have been the only cases the Supreme Court heard. He once came back from conference and told us sadly that the other Justices had rejected his proposal for a new Supreme Court rule. "What was the rule, Judge?" we asked. "When one corporate fat cat sues another corporate fat cat," he replied, "this Court shall have no jurisdiction.") The nine Justices sat, to put the matter baldly, to ensure that Sarita Kadrmas could go to school each morning. At any rate, this was why they sat in Justice Marshall's vision of the Court and Constitution. And however much some recent Justices have sniped at that vision, it remains a thing of glory.

Unemployment Benefits Bill Fails In House, 261-155

Arthur Delaney

Democrats in both chambers of Congress are scrambling to pass legislation to reauthorize expired unemployment benefits for the long-term jobless before a looming July 4 recess. One such measure failed in a 261-155 House vote on Tuesday.

Bill cosponsor Rep. Sander Levin (D-Mich.) said Democrats will return to the measure on Wednesday, when it will face a much lower simple-majority 219-vote threshold. "It will pass," said Levin, who added that he is coordinating with his counterparts in the Senate. (The House bill required a two-thirds majority on Tuesday because it was brought to the floor under a suspension of the rules.)

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has been shuttling back and forth between Democrats and Republicans in the upper chamber in hopes of winning 60 votes for the Senate's own version of a standalone unemployment benefits bill.

"Sen. Reid has had some conversations with Republicans to see what we can do to get UI on the floor and passed," said Reid spokesman Jim Manley. Moderate Republicans have resisted supporting domestic aid bills in recent weeks because of deficit concerns. Only Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) has said she'd be willing to vote for a bill that reauthorizes extended unemployment if doing so adds to the deficit. With Nebraska Democrat Ben Nelson demanding that any spending bill be deficit neutral, Reid apparently needs at least three Republicans, and he might be considering funding offsets to win them over.

[UPDATE 8:30 P.M. Reid and Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) filed for cloture Tuesday evening on a bill to reauthorize extended unemployment benefits through November and also the first-time home-buyer tax credit until October. A spokesman told HuffPost a vote could happen as soon as Wednesday. The measure is not paid for and would add roughly $33 billion to the deficit.]

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told HuffPost on Friday that Democrats have indeed been mulling paying for the benefits. "One of the debates that goes on now -- which I completely resist, but it's one of the debates going on -- is at the end of the day, these people have to have their benefits, and should we begin paying for unemployment benefits?"

The measures under consideration would preserve through November the extended benefits originally put in place by President Obama's stimulus bill at the beginning of 2009, which in some states provided checks for up to 99 weeks -- an unprecedented amount of help for the unemployed. Historically, Congress has always designated extended benefits "emergency spending" during times of high unemployment, and has never allowed extended benefits to lapse when the national unemployment rate stands above 7.2 percent.

Levin said Republicans' resistance to helping the unemployed made them look "callous," and he lamented the fact that the media doesn't put much of a face on the current congressional jobs jam -- despite the more than 1.2 million people out of work for longer than six months who since June 1 have missed checks because of congressional dithering, a number that will reach nearly 1.7 million this Friday.

Levin called complaints about adding to the deficit to pay for benefits "lame."

"The problem that exists -- 20 years ago I took a USA Today reporter out to an employment office and he interviewed the people in line waiting for their checks and it was a wide diversity of people, and it was a front-page story," Levin said. "The problem I have and you have is there's no place you can go to talk to the unemployment. They get their checks through the Internet -- the money's sent to them. So it's hard to put a human face on this, but there are 1.7 million human faces, plus their families, so we're determined to find a way to humanize this."

Republicans and even some Democrats have suggested that the extended benefits aren't worth keeping because they're making people lazy. "The message from a lot of our Republican colleagues is that there are a lot of people who aren't looking for work," said Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.). "That's just not true. In order to qualify for unemployment, you have to demonstrate that you're making a determined effort to look for work."

Sharron Angle Is Against Abortion In Cases Of Rape Or Incest: It Would Interfere With God’s ‘Plan’

By Think Progress In a radio interview with Bill Manders on Jan. 25, Sharron Angle — the GOP candidate and Tea Party darling challenging Harry Reid for Nevada’s U.S. Senate seat — came out firmly against abortion. She even took the extreme position that women should not have control over their reproductive rights in cases of rape or incest, because it would interfere with God’s “plan” for them:

MANDERS: Is there any reason at all for an abortion?

ANGLE: Not in my book.

MANDERS: So, in other words, rape and incest would not be something?

ANGLE: You know, I’m a Christian, and I believe that God has a plan and a purpose for each one of our lives and that he can intercede in all kinds of situations and we need to have a little faith in many things.

Listen here:

Last week, Manders — who is a conservative radio host — told his listeners that in order to beat Reid, Angle has to “slide to the left a little bit, to the middle, so to speak. Not stay way over to the right.” “[T]here are things about Sharron that are annoying to the voters,” he added. Recently, former Republican congresswoman Barbara Vucanovich, the first woman from Nevada to hold federal office, said she may not even vote for Angle. “She’s very rigid and I have a little bit of trouble understanding her positions,” Vucanovich said. “So I’m not out there waving the flag. She’s a very difficult person.”

The far right has embraced Angle’s anti-choice position. She has said that while it won’t be “the most prominent issue in Nevada’s Senate race,” she “will show voters the difference between Reid and me on abortion: He flip-flops on the issues.” She added that more people are identifying as “pro-life” because the issue “has been framed in a more positive way.”

Senate Republicans block measure to provide additional benefits to homeless veterans.

By Ben Armbruster

Today, Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) brought her bill — the Homeless Women Veterans and Homeless Veterans With Children Act — to the Senate floor seeking unanimous consent. Murray said the bill would “expand assistance for homeless women veterans and homeless veterans with children and would increase funding and extend federal grant programs to address the unique challenges faced by these veterans.” However, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) objected on behalf of Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) to this seemingly non-controversial issue:

McCONNELL: Madam president, reserving the right to object and I will have to object on behalf of my colleague Sen. Coburn from Oklahoma. He has concerns about this legislation, particularly as he indicates in a letter that I’ll ask the Senate to appear on the record that it be paid for up front so that the promises that makes the Veterans are in fact kept. So madam president I object.

Watch it:

This is pretty low, even for Republicans,” the Washington Monthly’s Steve Benen said. While Murray pledged to continue to fight for the bill’s passage, Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-NV) spokesperson said “Republicans have their priorities backwards — according to them, it’s OK to give tax breaks to CEOs who send American jobs overseas, but not to help out-of-work Americans and homeless veteran.”

Kyl Denies That The Roberts Supreme Court Is On The Side Of ‘Big Business’: It’s A ‘Fradulent Claim’

William Tomasko Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, appeared on Hugh Hewitt’s radio show yesterday to discuss Elena Kagan’s Supreme Court nomination. Kyl complained that during the hearing, Democrats attempted to paint the Supreme Court led by Chief Justice John Roberts as “coming down on the side of big business“: HH: With Chief Justice Roberts, was any review of those documents held by a — for example, the senior minority member of the Judiciary Committee? JK: No. No, not to my knowledge, no. HH: How did the first day go? JK: Pretty much as expected. Republicans raised appropriate questions. It was respectful. She noted that all of her meetings with Senators have been courteous. Democrats primarily not only applauded her for having a wonderful background and being a great person, but also took the opportunity to slam what they call the Roberts Court and its activism in coming down on the side of big business repeatedly at the expense of the little guy. All a fraudulent claim, but that’s what they’re arguing. Of course, the Senate Democrats’ arguments were far from “fraudulent.” The Roberts court has been one of the most pro-corporate in history. A recent study from the Constitutional Accountability Center documented how the court “has a decidedly probusiness tilt.” Demonstrating this bent, the court last week strengthened corporations’ power to force their customers and employees into biased, privatized courts whenever a dispute arises between them. And, the court’s far-right voting bloc famously upended precedent to defend corporations’ supposed right to spend unlimited sums on elections in Citizens United. Today, in a piece on Roberts’ dramatic impact on the court, the New York Times said that decision “showed great solicitude to the interests of corporations.”

Friday, June 25, 2010

Funny Friday:Charlie Murphy's True Hollywood Stories - Rick James

House Democrats Mulling Standalone Jobs Bill After Senate Failure


WASHINGTON — The demise of Democrats' jobs-agenda legislation means that unemployment benefits will phase out for more than 200,000 people a week. Governors who had counted on fresh federal aid will now have to consider more budget cuts, tax increases and layoffs of state workers.

Democratic officials said the House may try to revive the long-stalled jobless aid bill next week as a stand-alone bill shorn of controversial tax and spending provisions that prompted Senate Republicans to filibuster it on Thursday.

But the Senate may not have enough time to clear the measure for President Barack Obama's desk before leaving Washington for the Fourth of July recess. The impasse has meant that more than 1.2 million people have lost unemployment benefits averaging $300 a week.

The aides required anonymity to speak freely about internal party strategy.

Stymied by Republicans, Democrats are at a loss as they struggle to help pump up the economy in the run-up to congressional elections this fall.

Senate Democrats cut billions from the bill in an attempt to attract enough Republican votes to overcome a filibuster. But the 57-41 vote Thursday fell three votes short of the 60 required to crack a GOP filibuster.

"Democrats have given Republicans every chance to say 'yes' to this bill and support economic recovery for our middle class," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. "But they made a choice to say 'no' yet again."

President Barack Obama will keep pressing Congress to pass the bill, his spokesman said. But Democrats haven't shown they can come up with the votes.

That's leading Democrats to consider breaking the jobless aid measure from the catchall bill and try to pass it as a stand-alone $33 billion measure next week before leaving Washington for a weeklong Independence Day recess. Key Senate Republicans, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine, are pressing the idea.

But a Reid spokesman said the majority leader is committed to passing a Wall Street reform bill next week and predicted Republicans would block any move to do a stand-alone jobless aid bill after that measure passes.

The stand-alone approach proved to be the way forward for a measure to temporarily spare doctors from a 21 percent cut in Medicare payments, which Obama signed Friday.

The Medicare funding had been a part of the larger bill to provide extended unemployment benefits for laid-off workers and provide states with billions of dollars to avert layoffs. When it became clear Senate Republicans would block the larger bill, Democrats begrudgingly voted for the smaller Medicare fix.

"It is clear that Senate Republicans have no intention of passing any jobs legislation, whether it is tied to physician payments or not," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

Congressional Democrats began the year with an aggressive agenda of passing a series of bills designed to create jobs. One has become law, offering tax breaks to companies that hire unemployed workers. Others stalled as lawmakers, after hearing from angry voters, became wary of adding to the national debt, which stands at $13 trillion.

"The debt is out of control," said Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass.

Republicans said the bill would have expanded government, not boosted the economy.

"The only thing Republicans have opposed in this debate are job-killing taxes and adding to the national debt," said Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. "What we're not willing to do is use worthwhile programs as an excuse to burden our children and our grandchildren with an even bigger national debt than we've already got."

The rejected bill would have provided $16 billion in new aid to states, preserving the jobs of thousands of state and local government workers and providing what White House officials called an insurance policy against a double-dip recession. It also included dozens of tax breaks sought by business lobbyists and tax increases on domestically produced oil and on investment fund managers.

Sen. Max Baucus, the bill's chief author, said Friday that Democrats may wait a week or two before attempting again to push the bill through.

"There 's a lot of people not getting their unemployment checks. There's going to be consequences of that," he said, adding that could put additional pressure on Republicans to support the bill.

Baucus said "we'll wait and work on other legislation in the interim. ... There were some bitter partisan feelings when we left. Maybe a little cooling off will help."

The legislation had been sharply pared back after weeks of negotiations with GOP moderates Snowe and Collins, but they were not persuaded to support the measure. The latest draft would have added $33 billion to the deficit.

The Medicare bill signed by Obama delays cuts in payments to doctors until the end of November – after congressional elections – when lawmakers hope the political climate is better for passing a more permanent, and expensive, solution.

There was some urgency to approve the funding because Medicare announced last week it would begin processing claims it had already received for June at the lower rate. Lawmakers said some doctors have already stopped seeing new Medicare patients because of the cuts.

The bill increases payments to providers by 2.2 percent. The legislation, which costs about $6.5 billion, is paid for with a series of health care and pension changes that both Democrats and Republicans agreed to.

The Medicare cuts were required under a 1990s budget-cutting law that Congress has routinely waived. The latest extension expired May 31 after concerns about adding to the budget deficit held up the larger bill that also included unemployment benefits.

Obama praised Congress for passing the measure, while urging lawmakers to work on a more permanent solution.

M.C.L Comment: When I hear people like A.B. Stoddard talk as if there is a massive surge for the Republicans I gotta ask her based on what? Going back when Barack Obama was president elect Obama, the Republicans told the American public what they plans were and it's saying no to everything.

And the Republicans show how petty they are for example look at Pay as you go Republicans were for it but once President Obama signed on for it, the Republicans turned around and went against it. What the Republicans are doing is very well should be the final nail for them, they slow walking things up in hopes things get worst between now and election eve night.

The Republicans are willingly let this country go into the seventh level of hell to help them win elections and for that people should vote more of them out.

Palin encourages followers to read column warning that the BP escrow fund could lead to a Nazi-like dictatorship.

By Alex Seitz-Wald

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) lashed out at White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel on Twitter earlier this week, telling him “u lie” for saying that many Republicans agree with Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) that the White House shook down BP to create a $20 billion escrow fund to help Gulf families. Of course, Barton’s sentiment is not unique among conservatives, as Palin herself proved today. Taking to Twitter once again, Palin urged, “GOP: Don’t let the lamestream media suck you into ‘they’re defending BP over Gulf spill victims’ bs…” She followed up by urging her followers to “read Thomas Sowell’s article,” which compares President Obama to Hitler:


If followers click on the link they will see that Sowell, under the headline, “Is U.S. Now On Slippery Slope To Tyranny?” argues that the escrow fund is just like the Enabling Act, which “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.” On Tuesday, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) endorsed Sowell’s ludicrous Hitler-Obama comparison on House floor, calling the columnist “brilliant,” before quoting several lines from the piece. “It’s difficult to overstate how absurd all of this is,” Political Correction noted.

M.C.L comment: I said this yesterday when right wingers want to attack the president they go to the fields and find a couple of black "conservatives" that's willingly to do the dirty work for them. And the conservatives will go see here's a BLACK guy saying something negative against your BLACK guy. If you got a right wing friend(why would you?) or a right wing relative expect to see a Uncle Thomas Sowell article in your email box or Facebook wall in the upcoming weeks.

Beck, A Self-Proclaimed Heir To Civil Rights Movement, Promotes Quotes By Anti-Civil Rights Ezra Taft Benson

By Matt Corley

On his radio and TV show, Glenn Beck regularly pays tribute to the civil rights movement, claiming that one of his goals is to “reclaim the civil rights movement” and that his followers are “the inheritors and the protectors of the civil rights movement.” He’s drawing heavy criticism from top civil rights leaders now, who say that he is “hijacking the imagery and symbolism” of Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech by planning a rally at the Lincoln Memorial on the speech’s anniversary.

Beck denies the claim and says he plans to “salute Dr. King and the civil rights movement” at the rally. But Beck seriously hurt his civil rights credibility on his Fox News show yesterday when he used a quote from a 1966 speech by former Eisenhower Secretary of Agriculture Ezra Taft Benson to justify his claims that communists are infesting America:

BENSON: “You Americans are so gullible. No, you won’t accept communism outright; but we’ll keep feeding you small doses of socialism until you’ll finally wake up and find that you already have communism. We won’t have to fight you; we’ll so weaken your economy, until you fall like overripe fruit into our hands.”

BECK: Are we here? We were warned that the communists were not going to go away. They were just getting started. Ezra Taft Benson knew that serious threat. He saw it first hand. He knew communists were in the government. He knew they were in the government.

Beck then went on to favorably cite disgraced Sen. Joseph McCarthy and his claim to have in his “possession the names of 57 communists who are in the State Department.” Watch it:

Who is Ezra Taft Benson? He’s a former Mormon Church apostle who, according to his AP obituary, was “closely identified with the John Birch Society” and “once told a reporter he could not see how a person could be both a liberal and a good Mormon.” He also once called the civil rights movement “a communist program for revolution in America.” [Associated Press, 5/31/1994] Benson also authored a pamphlet titled “Civil Rights — Tool of Communist Deception” and reportedly referred to Martin Luther King Jr. as the “Communist leader of the so-called civil rights movement.”

This isn’t the first time Beck has invoked this Benson quote about communism. Beck biographer Alexander Zaitchick writes:

On the morning of October 31, 2008, Beck played for his radio audience a scratchy recording from the 1960s. He set up the clip by identifying the voice on the tape belonging to Dwight Eisenhower’s secretary of agriculture, Ezra Taft Benson. While serving in that position, Beck explained, Benson had met with Nikita Khruschchev during one of the Soviet premier’s visits to the United States. In that meeting, Benson claimed to have gained valuable insight into the global communist conspiracy. Three days before the election, Beck was eager to share Benson’s insight with his audience. “Listen carefully,” said Beck. The voice on the tape began to speak:

I have talked face-to-face with the godless communist leaders, though I still feel it was a mistake to welcome this atheistic murderer as a state visitor. As we talked face-to-face, [Khruschchev] said to me, “You Americans are so gullible. No, you won’t accept communism outright. But we’ll keep feeding you small doses of socialism until you wake up and find you already have communism. We don’t have to fight you. We’ll so weaken your economy until you fall like overripe fruit into our hands.”

Beck stopped the tape there and asked, “Is that where we’re headed?” He quickly answered his own question. “I contend we’re already there, gang.” In fact, Beck had proof that we were already there. He then played an audio clip of a giddy African American woman who had just left a Barack Obama campaign speech.

“It was the most memorable time of my life,” she says. “It was a touching moment. I won’t have to worry about gas or mortgage. If I help him, he’s gonna help me.

In these words, Beck heard the fulfillment of Khruschchev’s threat, as relayed by the grandfatherly seer, Ezra Taft Benson. “I never thought this day would happen,” said Beck, as if extraterrestrials had just landed a spaceship in Central Park.

Beck’s decision to feature Benson on his show was a revealing one. As Beck knew quite well, Benson was not just a member of Eisenhower’s cabinet. He was a notoriously illiberal Mormon Church president who helped pioneer Mormonism’s apocalyptic hard-right strain, which Beck latched on to and appropriated following his conversion. Had Beck allowed the tape of Benson’s lecture to continue, it is possible that listeners would have heard Benson ask, “When are we going to wake up? What do you know about the dangerous civil rights agitation in Mississippi?” Or they might have heard the sound of Benson’s voice railing against “traitors within the church” who criticized the mixing of religion and extreme right-wing politics.

In an interview with the blog Scholars and Rogues, Zaitchik noted that “Benson actually wrote the forward to a Mormon-authored book of race hate called Black Hammer: A Study of Black Power, Red Influence, and White Alternatives, which had on its cover the bloody, severed head of an African-American.”

Update From a November 8, 1985 New York Times article, via Nexis:
In a speech in Logan, Utah in 1963, he said civil rights campaigns in Mississippi were ''fomented almost entirely by Communists.'' Legislation then proposed to protect the liberties of black people, he said, was ''about 10 percent civil rights and 90 percent a further extension of socialistic Federal controls.'' No long after that he was sent to supervise missions in Europe. In 1965, on returning to Salt Lake City, Mr. Benson spoke at a church conference. ''When are we going to wake up?'' he asked. ''What do you know about the dangerous civil rights agitation in Mississippi? Do you fear the destruction of all vestiges of state government?''

REPORT: Judge Who Ruled Against Moratorium Owned Stock In Exxon, Transocean, Other Drilling Companies

By Faiz Shakir ThinkProgress reported on Tuesday that Judge Martin Feldman, the U.S. District Court Judge who declared illegal the Obama administration’s blanket, 6-month moratorium on deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, had income in 2008 from a host of energy stocks. ThinkProgress has now obtained Feldman’s latest financial disclosure report — for calendar year 2009. The disclosure, which was filed just earlier this month, reveals that Feldman may still own Transocean stock. The report also indicates that Feldman owns a new stock that was not listed in his 2008 report: Exxon.

Here are some of Feldman’s energy holdings:

Exxon Ocean Energy Provident Energy Trust Peabody Energy Corp Atlas Energy Resources EV Energy Partners Basic Energy Services Petrohawk Energy Corp Boardwalk Pipeline Partnership Valero Energy Corp Crosstex Energy Noble Corp (a leading offshore drilling company)

View the full disclosure report here. Judge Feldman’s energy-investment income suggests a bias in favor of sustaining the fossil fuel energy industry. Recall that the question that Feldman was asked to rule on was whether Obama’s drilling moratorium inflicts an undue harm to the public interest.

Feldman ruled that the suspension of deepwater drilling “simply cannot justify the immeasurable effect on the plaintiffs, the local economy, the Gulf region, and the critical present-day aspect of the availability of domestic energy in this country.” The energy companies who filed suit against the administration arguing the importance of oil drilling for the economy probably didn’t have to do much to convince Feldman.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Fox News is BP oil spill misinformation clearinghouse Myths and falsehoods on the Gulf oil spill

From Media Matters

Fox News' staunch defense of BP

Media Matters has identified numerous instances of media conservatives defending BP on Fox News Channel, Fox Business, the Fox Nation, or the radio shows of Fox News hosts. For example:

  • BP was victim of a "shakedown." On at least 10 occasions, Fox figures criticized BP's escrow account as an Obama "shakedown" or "slush fund." For example, on the June 21 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom, contributor Andrea Tantaros stated that BP had been the victim of a "political shakedown" and a "stickup" to force the company to fund the $20 billion "slush fund."
  • Investigations of BP are McCarthyist "witch trials." Fox figures criticized congressional and criminal investigations into BP on at least nine occasions. For example, Glenn Beck compared the congressional BP hearings to the McCarthy hearings, the Salem witch trials, and the Romans feeding Christians to lions.
  • Obama administration has "demonized" BP. On at least nine instances, Fox figures attacked Obama for "demonizing" BP. For example, appearing on Hannity, Fox Business host Stuart Varney stated: "The administration's response can be summed up as follows: Demonize BP, seize its assets, raise taxes on energy, and therefore raise prices, pile on regulation, appoint a commission, all to gloss over the failure to deal promptly with the oil spill. And then give us pipe dreams about a green future."
  • Conspiracy theories about the oil spill. Media Matters identified at least four instances in which conspiracy theories about the oil spill were raised on Fox's networks. For example, on the May 27 edition of Fox Business' Happy Hour, host Eric Bolling asked guest Alan Colmes, "Are you sure they didn't let [the oil spill] leak so he could renege on his promise to allow some offshore drilling?"

Myth: Obama waited weeks before responding to the oil spill

CLAIM: Obama "waited 50 days, 55 days to really begin" responding to Gulf oil spill. On the June 17 edition of Fox & Friends, Rudy Giuliani said of the federal government's response to the oil spill: "The government has played a big role in letting us down here as well. And who the heck is -- you know, criticizing President Obama, President Obama's response? I mean, the president waited 50 days, 55 days to really begin a resp- -- he told us in his speech that the federal government was in charge from the very beginning."

REALITY: Timeline of events indicates Obama administration responded almost immediately to the spill. The Coast Guard began responding to the spill hours after the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded at 10 p.m. on April 20. Obama was briefed on the incident and dispatched officials to the region the next day.

Gov. Barbour: "The federal government's done more right than wrong" on BP cleanup. On the June 20 edition of NBC's Meet the Press, asked for his "assessment of how well coordinated the federal, state, and local officials are," former RNC chairman and Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour said that while "nothing's satisfactory until the well's shut" he thinks "the federal government's done more right than wrong," and "appointing Ken Feinberg, who's got a great reputation that's well deserved, is good for BP and good for the government."

Myth: Moratorium is not needed because oil companies are equipped to handle spills

CLAIM: No need for moratorium to "ensure ... safety," Obama should "undo the harm that he's already done" and lift it. On the June 12 edition of Fox & Friends Saturday, anchor Alisyn Camerota asked Palin: "[T]he administration has called for a moratorium on deep-sea drilling until that safety can be ensured. Given all of the problems that we now know, how BP overlooked safety measures, do you support a moratorium until we can ensure the safety?" Palin replied, "No, but we do need to ramp up the oversight" of offshore drilling." Likewise, on the June 15 edition of Fox News' Special Report, Weekly Standard editor Fred Barnes urged Obama to "undo the harm that he's already done and lift the moratorium on the existing drilling that was going on in the Gulf."

REALITY: All five major oil companies reportedly share similar spill response plans written by same company, and admit aspects of their plans are an "embarrassment." According to The Washington Post, "the same tiny Texas subcontractor" authored the Gulf spill response plans for BP, ConocoPhillips, Chevron, Shell Oil, and Exxon Mobil. Additionally, execs for both Exxon Mobil and Conoco Phillips called an error in both plans embarrassing.

FACT: All five companies reportedly rely on the same companies to draft their response plans and provide containment equipment. According to a June 16 Washington Post report, "the same tiny Texas subcontractor" authored the Gulf spill response plans for BP, ConocoPhillips, Chevron, Shell Oil, and Exxon Mobil:

The spill response plans for all five companies were written by the same firm, the Response Group. Although it has operations in at least seven cities nationwide, the Houston-based firm's Web site says the company has about 35 employees. (One current assignment: calling 50,000 people who have visited BP offices and getting their e-mail addresses and emergency contact information.)

Additionally, the Post reported that Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) stated that oil companies all rely on one company, Marine Spill Response, to provide containment equipment.

FACT: Three spill plans reportedly listed the phone number of a deceased marine science expert. According the same Post report, three of the five major oil companies operating in the Gulf "listed the phone number for the same University of Miami marine science expert, Peter Lutz, who died in 2005" in their spill response plans.

FACT: Exxon Mobil CEO: "We are not well-equipped to handle" major oil spills. In testimony before the House Energy and Environment Subcommittee on June 15, ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson stated repeatedly that his company is "not well-equipped to handle" major oil spills.

FACT: Responding to criticism of having a dead expert's info in his company's oil spill response, Tillerson admitted "we need expertise." When Markey questioned Tillerson on the Exxon Mobil plan's inclusion of contact information for a "technical support person" who had been dead for four years, Tillerson acknowledged that it was an "embarrassment" and stated that "we admit that we need expertise." He further stated that just because "Dr. Lutz died in 2005 does not mean his work and the importance of his work died with him."

FACT: ConocoPhillips CEO: "Obviously it is embarrassing" that Lutz's contact information is in the report. At the same hearing, ConocoPhillips CEO, James Mulva, said of the response plan's obvious flaws: "Obviously it is embarrassing." He further acknowledged that "the plans need to be updated more frequently."

Myth: BP was only drilling "out there" because environmentalists and the federal government "made them" do it

CLAIM: BP's deepwater drilling due to environmentalists, federal government "pushed us out there." Several Fox News figures, including Sarah Palin, Charles Krauthammer, Steve Doocy, Sean Hannity, and Bill O'Reilly, have claimed that, as Hannity put it, BP "should have been in ANWR and shallower waters, and environmentalists pushed us out there." Similarly, Fox News contributors Andrew Napolitano and Bill Kristol, and Fox guest and editor-in-chief Mike Flynn have blamed the federal government for, in Flynn's words, "ma[king] them drill in water that deep."

REALITY: Deep-water regions feature vast oil reserves that make such drilling potentially lucrative. According to the U.S. Department of the Interior's Minerals Management Service, the "best source of new domestic energy resources lies in the deep water." The deepwater region of the Gulf has also been identified as "probably the most promising area in United States-controlled territory."

FACT: MMS said "remarkable increase" in deep-water drilling due in part to "finding of reservoirs with high production wells." According to the MMS: "The deepwater portion of Gulf of Mexico has shown a remarkable increase in oil and gas exploration, development and production. In part this is due to the development of new technologies reducing operational costs and risks, as well as the finding of reservoirs with high production wells."

FACT: Bush MMS reported that the "best source of new domestic energy resources lies in the deep water Gulf of Mexico." In a 2004 report -- titled Deep Water: Where the Energy Is -- the MMS stated that "our best source of new domestic energy resources lies in the deep water Gulf of Mexico and other frontier areas." MMS reported that due to "declining production" in "near-shore, shallow waters" in the Gulf of Mexico, "energy companies have focused their attention on oil and gas resources in water depths of 1,000 feet and beyond." MMS estimated that "the deep water regions of the Gulf of Mexico may contain 56 billion barrels of oil equivalent, or enough to meet U.S. demand for 7-1/2 years at current rates."

FACT: Bush MMS reported deepwater drilling is "America's Offshore Energy Future," "significant proved reserves" discovered in recent years. In a 2008 report titled "Deepwater Gulf of Mexico 2008: America's Offshore Energy Future, MMS reported:

The deepwater GOM has contributed major additions to the total reserves in the GOM. Figure 40 shows the proved reserves added each year by water-depth category. Additions from the shallow waters of the GOM declined in recent years but, beginning in 1975, the deepwater area started contributing significant new reserves. Between 1975 and 1983, the majority of these additions were from discoveries in slightly more than 1,000 ft (305 m) of water. It was not until 1985 that major additions came from water depths greater than 1,500 ft (457 m). From 1998 to 2001, significant proved reserves were added in the 5,000- to 7,499-ft (1,524- to 2,286-m) water depth range. The year 2002 saw the first substantial addition from water depths greater than 7,500 ft (2,286 m).

FACT: NY Times reported BP discovery of "giant oil field" in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico indicated area was "probably the most promising area in United States-controlled territory." A September 2, 2009, New York Times article reported that "BP announced on Wednesday the discovery of what it characterized as a giant oil field several miles under the Gulf of Mexico," which the Times stated "was another indication that the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico are probably the most promising area in United States-controlled territory to bolster domestic oil production." The Times further credited BP's deep-water rigs with having "stabilized domestic production after almost two decades of yearly decline."

Myth: Obama, unlike Bush, "was off on vacation" during crisis

CLAIM: Obama "was off on vacation twice" during oil spill, but Bush did not go on vacation "in the middle of a crisis." On the June 17 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe, Giuliani asserted that he didn't think the spill was Obama's "job number one" because Obama was "off on vacation twice" during the cleanup. Giuliani contrasted Obama's vacations with President Bush's and Giuliani's own purported refusal to take vacations during times of crisis. Giuliani made similar arguments on the June 17 edition of Fox & Friends.

REALITY: Bush vacationed during the aftermath of Katrina; Giuliani reportedly spent more time at Yankees games than at WTC after 9-11. Despite Giuliani's suggestion, Bush reportedly made at least three trips to Camp David in the two months after Katrina, and Giuliani himself reportedly spent "roughly twice as long" at, or flying to, Yankees games than at ground zero between September 17, 2001, and December 16, 2001. The Obamas visited Asheville, North Carolina, the weekend of April 23. During that trip, Obama eulogized the 29 workers killed in the West Virginia mine explosion and "met with the workers' families privately before the ceremony," according to CNN. During Memorial Day weekend, Obama traveled to Chicago and was scheduled to deliver his Memorial Day address at the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery. Due to a thunderstorm, he spoke at Andrews Air Force Base instead.

FACT: Bush vacationed during aftermath of Katrina. In the two months after Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast on August 29, 2005, Bush reportedly made at least three separate weekend trips to the presidential retreat at Camp David. Bush visited the Camp David retreat in September 2005 and again during two weekends in October 2005. Three months after the hurricane, news outlets reported that hundreds of thousands of people were "still at loose ends in provisional housing -- many in isolated trailer parks"; "thousands of people were "still unaccounted for"; and "[m]ore than 80 percent of New Orleans's population has not been able to return home."

FACT: Giuliani reportedly spent more time at Yankees games than at ground zero following 9-11. In an August 18, 2007, article, Alex Koppelman examined Giuliani's schedule in the 90 days following the attacks and found: "By our count, Giuliani spent about 58 hours at Yankees games or flying to them in the 40 days between Sept. 25 and Nov. 4, roughly twice as long as he spent at ground zero in the 90 days between Sept. 17 and Dec. 16."

Myth: "Ridiculous" and "offensive" to blame Bush for spill

CLAIM: "Outrageous" to blame Bush for MMS mismanagement leading to oil spill. Fox News figures, including Dana Perino, Dick Morris and Mike Huckabee, have claimed that it is "ridiculous" and "offensive," as Perino put it, to say that the Bush administration's regulatory failures led to the oil spill.

REALITY: Under Bush, MMS relaxed oversight of drilling, ignored safety warnings, downplayed oil spill concerns. The Department of Interior's Office of Inspector General (OIG) "found a culture where the acceptance of gifts from oil and gas companies were widespread" in Bush's MMS. In addition, under Bush, MMS loosened rules requiring a blowout plan, dismissed the risk of a massive oil spill in a BP assessment, and failed to report a warning about a vital piece of blowout preventer. Moreover, Bush promoted and sought to expand offshore drilling.

FACT: Bush MMS adopted regulations stating drillers are "in the best position to determine the environmental effects of its proposed activity." The Washington Post reported on May 25 that the actions taken by MMS "are shaped in part by a 2005 regulation it adopted that assumes oil and gas companies can best evaluate the environmental effects of their operations." The article stated that "[t]he rule governing which information the MMS should receive and review before signing off on drilling plans states: 'The lessee or operator is in the best position to determine the environmental effects of its proposed activity based on whether the operation is routine or non-routine.'" Rolling Stone magazine reported that these "new rules pre-qualified deep-sea drillers" to receive an "exemption from environmental review," even though such exemptions were "originally intended to prevent minor projects, like outhouses on hiking trails, from being tied up in red tape."

FACT: In April 2008, Bush MMS loosened rules requiring blowout plan. The Associated Press reported on May 5 that a "rule change two years ago by the federal agency that regulates offshore oil rigs allowed BP to avoid filing a plan specifically for handling a major spill from an uncontrolled blowout at its Deepwater Horizon project." AP further reported: "The MMS rule change, made in April 2008, says that Gulf rig operators are required to file a blowout scenario only if one of five conditions applies. For example, an operator must provide a blowout scenario when it proposes to install a 'surface facility' in water deeper than 1,312 feet. While Deepwater Horizon was operating almost 5,000 feet below the surface, [BP spokesman William] Salvin said the project did not meet the definition of a surface facility. The MMS official agreed."

FACT: Bush MMS 2007 environmental impact assessment for BP lease dismissed risk of massive oil spill. The Post reported on May 5: "While the MMS assessed the environmental impact of drilling in the central and western Gulf of Mexico on three occasions in 2007 -- including a specific evaluation of BP's Lease 206 at Deepwater Horizon -- in each case it played down the prospect of a major blowout." The Post stated that "In one assessment, the agency estimated that 'a large oil spill' from a platform would not exceed a total of 1,500 barrels and that a 'deepwater spill,' occurring 'offshore of the inner Continental shelf,' would not reach the coast. In another assessment, it defined the most likely large spill as totaling 4,600 barrels and forecast that it would largely dissipate within 10 days and would be unlikely to make landfall." According to the Times-Picayune, these assessments "paved the way for BP to assert that its plans for drilling in Lease Sale 206 posed no real dangers."

FACT: Bush MMS failed to respond to 2004 warning about vital piece of blowout preventer. The Wall Street Journal reported on May 3 that "[f]ederal regulators learned in a 2004 study that a vital piece of oil-drilling safety equipment may not function in deep-water seas but did nothing to bolster industry requirements. The equipment, called shear rams, is supposed to seal off out-of-control oil and gas wells by pinching the pipe closed and cutting it." The Journal further reported that "[e]xperts theorize the rams may have failed to work as expected in the Deepwater Horizon disaster."

FACT: Bush MMS ignored warnings about faulty cementing in wells. AP reported on May 24 that numerous MMS reports identified a "poor cement job" as the cause of many offshore accidents, including incidents that took place in 2005 and 2007, "[y]et federal regulators give drillers a free hand in this crucial safety step." AP noted that rig owner Transocean and "independent experts" have pointed to "faulty cement work" as a possible cause of the blowout, and that new rules "in the works long before the Deepwater Horizon" took effect June 3, which "take a conservative watch-and-wait approach and demand only routines already carried out around the industry: a management program with monitoring and diagnostic testing."

FACT: WSJ reported that in 2003, Bush MMS decided not to require last-resort shut-off device. ABC News reported on April 30 that in 2000, MMS "issued a safety alert that called added layers of backup 'an essential component of a deepwater drilling system'." However, according to the Journal, "The industry argued against" mandating a remote-control shut-off switch that serves as "last-resort protection against underwater spills," and "[b]y 2003, U.S. regulators decided remote-controlled safeguards needed more study. A report commissioned by the Minerals Management Service said 'acoustic systems are not recommended because they tend to be very costly'." The Journal noted that the Deepwater Horizon rig did not have a remote-control device, which is required "in two major oil-producing countries, Norway and Brazil," and that "[i]ndustry consultants and petroleum engineers said that an acoustic remote-control may have been able to stop the well, but too much is still unknown about the accident to say that with certainty."

NPR similarly reported that Michael Saucier, MMS regional director in New Orleans, said at a hearing, "I think it was around 2001, there were some draft rules concerning secondary control systems for BOP stacks, and those rules were then sent up to headquarters to continue through the process." The NPR report goes on to state, "But what came back from headquarters were not rules, he said, just notices that 'highly encouraged' companies to use the backup systems. 'There is no enforcement on it,' he said."

FACT: Bush MMS reportedly suppressed scientists' concerns about environmental impact of spills in Alaska. A June 6 Denver Post article reported that an MMS office in Alaska rejected a 2006 analysis conducted by a biologist, which stated that a large oil spill could significantly harm fish populations. The analysis, which would have "required MMS to conduct a more detailed environmental impact statement before auctioning leases in the Beaufort Sea," was rewritten after a supervisor told the biologist that his analysis would cause a "delay in sale 202. That would, as you can imagine, not go over well with HQ and others." The Denver Post further reported, "[c]oncerns raised by another MMS biologist, James Wilder, that the impact on polar bears was not adequately addressed in Shell's Alaska exploration plan, also were rebuffed, according to e-mails."

Myth: Obama is the "single largest recipient of BP cash"

CLAIM: "Largest single donation" "from BP" has gone to Obama. After Palin suggested a connection between "contributions made to President Obama and his administration and the support by the oil companies to the administration," Doocy said that "when it comes down to the single largest recipient of BP cash, [Palin is] absolutely right ... it was Barack Obama."

FACT: Obama presidential campaign took no money from BP's PAC. Obama received $71,051 in contributions from BP employees during his presidential campaign, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Obama's presidential campaign received no funds from BP's PAC or from the company itself. A CRP spokesman confirmed that "the $71,051 that Obama received during the 2008 election cycle was entirely from BP employees." The spokesman also stated that "Obama did not accept contributions from political action committees, so none of this money is from BP's PAC."

FACT: Donations from BP's PAC and its employees represent 0.01 percent of Obama's total presidential fundraising. Obama raised more than $744 million for his presidential campaign. The $71,051 he received from BP's employees accounts for less than .01 percent of Obama's total presidential campaign contributions.

Scherer: "People who run for President raise much more money, and received much more money from BP interests -- and just about every other interest." In a May 5 Swampland post, Time's Michael Scherer cited CRP's data and noted that "[i]t is true that ... Obama received slightly more money from BP's PAC and employees since 1990 than anyone else." Scherer went on to explain:

But there is a major a reason for that, which the story fails to mention: People who run for President raise much more money, and received much more money from BP interests -- and just about every other interest. The fourth highest recipient of BP money in the same time period is George W. Bush. The fifth highest recipient is John McCain. In the 2000 and 2004 cycles, Bush got the most money, albeit less than Obama received in 2008. But then one could adjust these numbers for campaign inflation: campaigns overall raised much less money in the 2000 and 2004 cycles than the record-smashing 2008 cycle.

FACT: Obama took only $1,000 of PAC money from BP during his 2004 Senate campaign. Obama received $1,000 from BP's PAC during his 2004 Senate campaign. Twenty-one Senate candidates received more from BP's PAC during that election cycle alone.

Myth: Obama admin turned down foreign assistance in dealing with oil cleanup

CLAIM: Obama's refusal to waive Jones Act has prevented international assistance. Fox News' Dick Morris, Bill O'Reilly and Oliver North have similarly asserted that Obama's purported refusal to waive the Jones Act has prevented the United States from accepting aid from foreign ships.

REALITY: International assistance is part of Gulf spill response. In an interview on the June 15 edition of Fox & Friends, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs stated that "foreign entities are operating within the Gulf that help us respond" to the oil spill. Further, in a June 15 press release, the Deepwater Horizon Incident Joint Information Center stated, "Currently, 15 foreign-flagged vessels are involved in the largest response to an oil spill in U.S. history." The Center further explained, "No Jones Act waivers have been granted because none of these vessels have required such a waiver to conduct their operations in the Gulf of Mexico." The administration has further stated that they would waive the Jones Act if waivers were requested, but that "there are no pending requests for foreign vessels to come into the Gulf."

Myth: Obama admin defied Constitution because it "told" BP to create escrow account

CLAIM: Obama's actions on escrow fund were "not constitutional." On the June 18 edition of Fox & Friends, talking about Rep. Joe Barton's (R-TX) criticism of the $20 billion escrow account, co-host Brian Kilmeade said: "You know, [Barton's] upset that they set up this -- that they told BP, 'I need $20 billion into this fund.' ... He felt as though that was out of the administration's realm. They shouldn't be allowed to do that. That's not constitutional, and they shouldn't go ahead -- go forward with that."

REALITY: BP volunteered to establish account after "negotiation session" with White House in which "[b]oth sides got what they wanted." BP agreed on its own to establish the account as a "voluntary gesture" after negotiations with the White House in which both sides reportedly got what they wanted. Additionally, Dan Farber, director of Berkeley Law's environmental law program, wrote that "the answer isn't very clear" but that the Oil Pollution Act "does require BP to establish a process for 'the payment or settlement of claims for interim, short-term damages' that might encompass an escrow and independent decision-makers."

FACT: Wash. Post: "Both sides got what they wanted out of the encounter." The Post reported that in the meeting between the White House and BP, "[b]oth sides got what they wanted out of the encounter," noting that "BP, though poorer on paper in the short run, got some much-needed clarity on its long-term liability, plus an explicit statement from Obama that the administration doesn't want to see BP driven into bankruptcy."

FACT: BP announced $100 million to support unemployed oil industry workers as a "voluntary gesture." The Post also reported on June 17 that Obama asked BP "for a voluntary contribution to a foundation that will support unemployed oil industry employees" and that "BP agreed, offering $100 million." The Post quoted BP adviser Jamie Gorelick as saying, "We made clear that we do not think this is a liability for the company. The president said he's concerned about those workers. He asked if there was something we could do as a voluntary gesture."

FACT: Expert said law "does require BP to establish a process for 'the payment or settlement of claims for interim, short-term damages,' " which could include escrow account. In his June 15 post on the blog Legal Planet titled, "Can Obama Require BP to Form an Escrow Fund?" Farber wrote that "the answer isn't very clear" but that the Oil Pollution Act "does require BP to establish a process for 'the payment or settlement of claims for interim, short-term damages' that might encompass an escrow and independent decision-makers." Indeed, Section 1005 of the Oil Pollution Act states:


(a) GENERAL RULE. -- The responsible party or the responsible party's guarantor is liable to a claimant for interest on the amount paid in satisfaction of a claim under this Act for the period described in subsection (b). The responsible party shall establish a procedure for the payment or settlement of claims for interim, short-term damages. Payment or settlement of a claim for interim, short-term damages representing less than the full amount of damages to which the claimant ultimately may be entitled shall not preclude recovery by the claimant for damages not reflected in the paid or settled partial claim.

Myth: Obama admin unreasonably delayed purchase of Maine company's oil boom

CLAIM: "Red tape puts hold on company's boom making." On June 10, Fox & Friends ran a story criticizing the administration for possibly being "in the dark about" Packgen, a Maine company who's oil containment boom had yet to be approved by BP for use in the Gulf. During the segment, on-screen text read: "Red tape puts hold on company's boom making."

REALITY: Packgen had not previously manufactured boom, reportedly failed "initial quality control test." The Maine company had reportedly not produced boom before and their boom reportedly "differs from other designs being used." BP ordered a trial run of the product before committing to purchase it. The boom later reportedly failed "an initial quality control test."

FACT: Packgen reportedly began manufacturing boom after spill. The Lewiston, Maine, Sun Journal reported on May 19 that Packgen, a Maine company that "makes composite packaging used to contain environmental and hazardous waste," hoped to "capitalize on the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico by churning out a much-sought-after oil containment tool known as a boom." The article quoted Packgen's president as saying they were "still pitching (to buyers)" and reported that BP had "sent up a company auditor to check out" the company.

FACT: WCSH6 reported that BP "ordered a trial run" of the product, which "differs from other designs being used." Maine news station WCSH6 reported on June 3 that BP "has ordered a trial run of the product but there is no word of when or if the design will be approved." The article also reported: "It differs from other designs being used because, according to company officials, it creates a tighter seal between pieces preventing oil from leaking past the barrier."

FACT: Boom reportedly failed "an initial quality test." On June 11, ABC News' Jake Tapper tweeted that according to the Coast Guard, the "boom manufactured by Packgen did not pass an initial quality control test." On June 16, Tapper reported that an engineering professor who was hired by Packgen to inspect the boom stated his belief that " 'it certainly will work' in coastal areas in coastal areas, though he 'wouldn't deploy it deepwater'."

Myth: Obama unnecessarily delayed berm plan

CLAIM: Obama did not "respond immediately" to spill because he did not approve the berm plan "right away" On the June 9 edition of Fox & Friends, Perino responded to the statement that "[Obama's] officials responded immediately" to the spill by claiming, "I think Governor [Bobby] Jindal would disagree with the berms that weren't built right away."

REALITY: Army Corps of Engineers studied plan as required by law and expressed concerns over proposal. AP reported on May 24 that "the Corps said it is working as quickly as possible on the emergency permit request -- but still has to follow various steps required by federal law."

FACT: Army Corps reportedly raised concerns that barriers "could instead funnel oil into more unprotected areas and into neighboring Mississippi." AP reported on May 26 that the Army Corps released documents that day that "signaled support for parts of the state plan, including berms that would be built onto existing barrier islands," but stated that parts of the plan "could inadvertently alter tides and end up driving oil east -- into Mississippi Sound, the Biloxi Marshes and Lake Borgne."

FACT: Army Corps approved portions of the plan "after careful consideration of the available information." On May 27, the Army Corps of Engineers announced that they approved portions of the plan to create sand berms between barrier islands off the coast of Louisiana. The White House approved additional portions of Lousiana's berm plan on June 2.

FACT: Adm. Allen reportedly continued to express concerns about proposal but said "the prudent thing ... was to start a pilot project and keep asking questions." On May 28, AP reported that Adm. Thad Allen "approved portions of Louisiana's $350 million plan to ring its coastline with a wall of sand meant to keep out the Gulf of Mexico oil spill." The article noted that the Army Corps had objected to portions of the plan due to concerns about oil being diverted to Mississippi and that Allen also "said some sections of the berm system would not have kept out oil," as well as potentially "interfer[ing] with cleanup."

Myth: Coast Guard docked oil-collecting barges for no good reason

CLAIM: Shutting down oil-collecting barges was an "amazing screw-up." On the June 18 edition of his Fox News show, O'Reilly asserted that there had been an "insane," "amazing screw-up in the Gulf cleanup," because the Coast Guard sent several oil-collecting barges back to shore due to questions about safety measures (including life vests and fire extinguishers) on the ships.

REALITY: The ships reportedly did lack the required equipment, and there were also concerns about their stability. The Daily Caller's Jonathan Strong reported on June 18:

Sixteen crude-sucking barges are back in the Gulf of Mexico working to clean up oil, but the Coast Guard is defending its decision to ground the vessels because it couldn't verify whether there were fire extinguishers and life vests on board.

"The Coast Guard is not going to compromise safety ... that's our No. 1 priority," Coast Guard spokesman Robert Brassel told The Daily Caller.


Brassel said the barges are now "back in operating order."

On Thursday night, the Incident Commander in Houma, Roger Laferriere, decided with the captain of the port in New Orleans to inspect the barges when they realized the ships did not have a certificate of inspection to demonstrate safety equipment on board. Thursday morning, the ships were inspected and grounded because they did not have the proper fire-fighting and life-saving equipment. There were also concerns about the stability of the barges. During the day Thursday, the problems were fixed, and the barges are back out on the water today.

A June 17 statement from the Deepwater Horizon Incident Joint Information Center stated that the "vacuum barges were temporarily removed from service after safety concerns occurred including stability and the lack of lifesaving and firefighting equipment." A June 19 statement said that "the owner/operator of the barges asked the Coast Guard to inspect the vessels, some under construction, to ensure they were safe" and that "The Coast Guard inspectors made recommendations to the owner/operator regarding lifesaving and firefighting equipment, vessel stability and egress issues, leaving the decision to continue construction and operations with the owner/operator."