Black and White Lily wallpaper

Black and White Lily wallpaper

Dana Milbank on Kagan and Senate conservatives, Kagan may get confirmed, but Thurgood Marshall can forget it

As confirmation hearings opened Monday afternoon, Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee took the unusual approach of attacking Kagan because she admired the late justice Thurgood Marshall, for whom she clerked more than two decades ago.

“Justice Marshall’s judicial philosophy,” said Sen. Jon Kyl (Ariz.), the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, “is not what I would consider to be mainstream.” Kyl — the lone member of the panel in shirtsleeves for the big event — was ready for a scrap. Marshall “might be the epitome of a results-oriented judge,” he said.

This would be the same Kyl that keeps leaving his truthiness at home. So we’re to put on our dunce caps and sit in the corner for thinking Justice Scalia, Roberts, Alito and Thomas were put on the court despite their extreme right conservative agenda. One which they make no apologies for pursuing.

It was, to say the least, a curious strategy to go after Marshall, the iconic civil rights lawyer who successfully argued Brown vs. Board of Education. Did Republicans think it would help their cause to criticize the first African American on the Supreme Court, a revered figure who has been celebrated with an airport, a postage stamp and a Broadway show? The guy is a saint — literally. Marshall this spring was added to the Episcopal Church’s list of “Holy Women and Holy Men,” which the Episcopal Diocese of New York says “is akin to being granted sainthood.”

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.

Myths and falsehoods about Elena Kagan’s Supreme Court nomination. Any time a liberal or progressive feels like they are having a bad day in the message wars take solace in the fact when conservatives resort to lies to make their point it means you’re winning.

Rep. Zach Wamp (R-TN) has been smok’n that tea again – Wamp’s Monthly Stimulus Hypocrisy: Stimulus Both A ‘Flawed Notion’ And Creates ‘Good High-End Jobs’

Earlier this year, ThinkProgress released a report detailing how more than 114 lawmakers who voted to kill the Recovery Act — over half the GOP caucus in Congress — later either took credit for stimulus projects or hailed stimulus-related programs as a success. Rep. Zach Wamp (R-TN), who is mentioned in the report for celebrating a stimulus-funded laboratory after voting against the stimulus, has continued to vigorously attack the stimulus as a failure, while hailing Tennessee stimulus projects as a success.

On Friday, Wamp’s office released a statement praising the construction of a new Alstom steam and gas turbine factory in Chattanooga. Wamp said the $300 million dollar factory, “means good high-end manufacturing jobs for our region’s workers.” Wamp did not mention anywhere in the release that Alstom’s new plant was boosted by $63 million in stimulus funds, and that the Recovery Act Wamp opposed contains various clean energy loan guarantees and tax credits for Alstom’s business.

Scott Brown (R-Mass), who graduated summa-cum laude in dumb things conservatives think and say – has stated the stimulus has not created even one job. Wamp and Brown could never campaign together if they’re not going to get their messages lies straight. Republicans are not accurately portrayed as the party of no. They are the party that is hoping the economy will not recover so the electorate will vote them back to power, Republicans are Undercutting National Economic Recovery

Sad farewells to Senator Byrd – Flashback: Sen. Byrd’s Speech on Eve of Iraq War

Another week another right-wing myth about the BP Gulf spill, Gulf Cleanup, Foreign Assistance, and Jones Act Confusion

A 1920 maritime law is not blocking foreign vessels from helping in the Gulf oil spill cleanup, according to the Coast Guard.

We’ve gotten a few questions from readers about the Jones Act of 1920, which according to some lawmakers, conservative commentators and news reports is a maritime law that has blocked foreign vessels from helping in the Gulf oil spill cleanup.

That’s not true. At least, not so far.

According to Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, 15 foreign vessels are already working on cleanup, and so far waivers haven’t been needed. Here’s what he told reporters on Friday:

If the vessels are operating outside state waters, which is three miles and beyond, they don’t require a waiver.  All that we require is an Affirmation of Reciprocity, so if there ever was a spill in those countries and we want to send skimming equipment, that we would be allowed to do that, as well, and that hasn’t become an issue yet, either.

To the extent that there is a waiver required and they come to us, we’re more than happy to support it in making that request to CBP [Customs and Border Protection].  But to date, since they’re operating outside three miles, no Jones Act waiver has been required.

Steps have already been taken to expedite the waiver process should they actually be needed.

It should also be pointed out that many offers of foreign assistance are actually offers to sell supplies, and consideration of domestic inventory goes into the decision to accept them. Here’s the Associated Press:

“These offers are not typically offers of aid,” said Lt. Erik Halvorson, a Coast Guard spokesman. “Normally, they are offers to sell resources to BP or the U.S. government.”

Only Mexico offered the U.S. anything for free. It said it would give the U.S. government some containment boom. BP separately bought 13,780 feet of boom and two skimmers from Mexico in early May, according to the State Department.

Fox has been among the conservative disinformation distributors for the myth about the Jones Act.

Leave it to Andrew Breitbart’s Big Government to be mistakenly honest about the Dave Weigel WaPo scandal – I Like the Dave Weigel Who Insulted Liberal Pundits a Lot Better

It’s hard to respect a “journalist” who repeatedly insulted and mocked leading conservatives he was assigned cover, and even wished death on some of them, to a secretive email list compromised of liberal media figures around the country.  Whatever this says about Weigel’s political orientation, it speaks loudly and clearly to the fact that he was an unprofessional jerk, and that’s putting it kindly.

The Ministry of Truth has decreed that you may bash Democrats in your private correspondence all you like, but you may not bash conservatives. Using personal correspondence to bash liberals is professional and intellectually consistent. Any future journalists out there might want to write down those rules. Dave used a “secretive” e-mail list? You know like the ones conservatives use which one can find by typing Conservative+e-mail list into Google. The oxygen deprived readers at Big Gov ate that post up like a starving kid in a Dickens novel..

Antique Map of Europe 1595

Antique Map of Europe 1595

This is partly the post I would have done yesterday but did not have time. What is most disturbing about President Obama’s poll numbers – which are about where they should be considering the economic legacy left by conservatives and the difficulty in undoing that damage – is that many Democrats see the Obama presidency as half empty rather than half full. For me  the problem in trying to dissuade either is they both have good points. ‘THE LAST TIME ANY PRESIDENT DID THIS MUCH IN OFFICE, BOOZE WAS ILLEGAL’….

Take Rachel Maddow, for instance.

If you missed “The Rachel Maddow Show” on Friday, you missed a similar assessment, considering the Obama presidency in this larger context.

The clip is worth watching in its entirety, but Rachel’s recitation of some of Obama’s greatest hits revealed a pretty impressive list.

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“Even before today’s historic Wall Street reform agreement, President Obama, of course, did what politicians have been trying to do for more than 60 years. He passed health reform, which, for the first time, establishes government responsibility for the health care of American citizens. Consider also the stimulus bill. It didn’t just throw a lasso around our entire economy and yank and yank it back from the brink, it also pumped about $100 billion into the crumbling embarrassment of our national infrastructure and transportation system. It was the largest investment in infrastructure since Ike. For solving our country’s energy problems, something Obama has compared to man walking on the moon, it contained about $60 billion in spending and tax incentives for renewable and clean energy, also a historic investment. It also included an unheralded but giant investment in science and tech, amping up the budgets at NASA, the National Science Foundation, and an experimental energy research agency that was created under President George W. Bush, but never funded until now.

“President Obama also expanded state kids’ health insurance to cover another four million kids. He signed the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act amending the 1964 civil rights act for equal pay for equal work. He signed a nuclear arms deal with Russia that would reduce both countries’ arsenals by a third. He created a new global nonproliferation initiative to keep nuclear materials out of the hands of terrorists. He set forth an international way forward on that radical left-wing proposition of Ronald Reagan, a world without nuclear weapons.

“Then there are the legislative and policy achievements that don’t just build on previously-set precedents, but set new ones. The Hate Crimes Prevention Act, also known as the Matthew Shepard Act. It had languished in Congress for years. The Food and Drug Administration permitted for the first time to regulate tobacco. Better late than never, he dismantled the scandal-plagued Minerals Management Service, broke it into three parts so that the folks who collect money from oil leases aren’t the same ones regulating the industry. And now, it will actually investigate the industry that it was busy schtupping and doing drugs with during the last administration. Obama fired two wartime commanding generals in little over a year.

“He overhauled the astonishing stupidity of the student loan system in which banks were being subsidized to give loans that were guaranteed by the government anyway, a license to print money. That was ended in the savings put toward actual aid to students. He canceled a weapons program that was bloated, unnecessary and totally irrelevant to either of our current wars, the F-22. Why even mention the cancellation of a single weapons system? Because that never happens. Weapons systems never get canceled. The F-22 did, which is itself a miracle.”

Maddow somewhat makes up for that awful, nearly fact free, rant she did on the Gulf spill. Most Democrats probably agree the health care reform bill was not all that we wanted it to be. I think about everyday when I listen to the news and reports about jobless benefits and how Wall St executives are still making bundles of unearned income. That said it is also true that under the circumstances it was probably the best reform we could have gotten. Had reform died, we likely would not have had any reform at all for another 12 to 15 years. And yes the bill was practically written by the health care industry and insurance companies – typical of the kind of triangulation conservative DNCers have been doing since the Bill Clinton years. Though millions of working class Americans and their children caught a rare break. Obama’s Unbelievable Winning Streak

Truth is, Obama has exceeded in 18 months what Clinton and Carter achieved in a combined 12 years.

I know this is supposed to be Barack Obama’s summer of discontent. The oil spill is still gushing; the economy is still floundering; the Afghan war is deteriorating; Americans don’t find him so charming anymore. But have you noticed that when it comes to actual policy, he keeps racking up the wins? This week it was financial-regulatory reform. One can argue about whether the bill the Senate passed will truly change the way Wall Street operates, but off the top of your head, can you name a more significant piece of progressive legislation signed by either of the last two Democratic presidents? Neither can I. And that goes for Obama’s stimulus package and his health-care reform as well. All of which means that, legislatively at least, Obama has exceeded in 18 months what Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter achieved in a combined 12 years. By summer’s end, he’ll also have shepherded two young liberal justices on to the Supreme Court.

Even as Republicans claim political momentum, the country is in the midst of a major shift leftward when it comes to the role of government.

Even on the foreign-policy front, Obama has been meeting with success. He’s gotten Beijing to revalue its currency, which has been a goal of America’s China policy hands for several administrations now.

Financial reform, if we get it at all, is likely to be a replay of health-care reform. There is still hope for stronger derivatives reform and a new Glass-Steagall Act ( which would separate large financial investment firms and banks), but it is a dim hope at best – Feingold a No on FinReg

Senator Feingold was one of eight senators to oppose the repeal of Glass-Steagall in 1999. Senator Feingold also opposed the Wall Street bail-out in 2008. During consideration of the financial regulatory reform bill, Feingold cosponsored a number of key amendments to ensure that banks are no longer too big to fail, and that depression-era reforms to create a firewall between Wall Street and Main Street are restored, among other critical issues.  None of these amendments were included in the final bill, which is why it failed Feingold’s test for real reform.  Amendments Feingold cosponsored included:

* Cantwell-McCain-Feingold amendment to restore the Glass-Steagall firewall between Wall Street and Main Street
* Senator Dorgan’s “too big to fail” amendment, which requires that no financial entity be permitted to become so large that its failure threatens the financial stability of the U.S.
* Brown-Kaufman amendment proposing strict limits on the size of financial institutions
* Dorgan amendment to ban so-called naked credit default swaps, speculative bets that played a role in the economic crisis
* Merkley-Levin amendment to prohibit any bank with government insured deposits from engaging in high-risk finance, like investing in hedge funds or private equity funds

That means Democrats’ next best option will be to win the vote of Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), who did not vote for the original version either.

Feingold seems determined not to compromise to get the strongest possible bill. Opposing health care reform is turning out however slowly to have been a losing proposition for Republicans as the benefits kick in and people start to understand how much it helps the average American, it is becoming increasingly popular. Opposition played well with the tea nuts who could distort what the bill actually did into conspiracy laden scheme to get grand ma before a death panel some death panel scheme. Finance reform is not playing that way. Conservatives opposed look like just what they are – opposing new play fair rules that would help investors and consumers. Democrats could well call conservatives like Scott Brown’s (R-Mass) bluff and push for the strongest legislation possible. In what looks like a another nod to the glass half empty Democrats Obama had secretly agreed to Brown’s loophole for banks –  Obama Administration Sided With Scott Brown On Wall Street Bill Loophole . Which makes no sense in terms of the politics or policy. Republicans and a few ConservoDems are holding the economy hostage for a few lobbyist and special interests for wrecking protection for Main Street America. It’s almost as though the White House does not want to be bothered with negotiating. Andrew Leonard tries to see the bright side – The Dodd-Frank bank reform bill: A deeply flawed success – In a world where incremental progress is all but impossible to achieve, this is what a triumph looks like

Before getting into the details, it’s probably safe to say that one’s position on the bill’s worth largely depends on one’s starting point. If you are a progressive who believes that the only real solution to Wall Street’s disproportionate ability to screw up the economy is to break up the big banks, then you will be disappointed, and scathing in your criticism. If you are a conservative who, despite the evidence of the last few years, still believes that regulation, ipso facto, is bad, bad, bad, you will also be critical. Every single Republican from the House and the Senate serving on the conference committee voted against the final deal.

The good news,

* There is a reasonably independent consumer financial protection agency. Yes, it was shamefully gutted by a carveout insulating auto dealers from oversight, but it is still an improvement on what existed before. Put consumer advocate crusader Elizabeth Warren in charge, and watch the financial industry quail!
* The ability of credit card companies to gouge merchants with “swipe fees” every time a customer used a debit card is significantly restricted. This was a surprise — few people predicted that the bank reform bill would take a swing at this long festering problem.
* There are new limitations on the amount of proprietary trading banks can do on their own behalf — the so-called Volcker rule.
* There is increased federal oversight of derivatives regulation, and the big banks face new prohibitions on some forms of derivatives trading.

Once again there are some vote issues in the age of compromise. If the stronger version of Finreg only needed a solid majority of 55 votes in the Senate, Obama would be signing the bill now. America is at the mercy of a 60 vote majority. Very fundamental legislation, that protects the country against another great recession and more bail-outs is utterly opposed by conservatives and President Obama seems more interested in getting some kind of finreg passed than a good finreg bill. In this environment Obama and Democrats can keep racking up legislative victories, but the legacy of this administration and this Congress will be a little more hollow because that legislation did not go far enough. This is the time for Obama to put away the easy-going urge to compromise and go straight to the public. He made a special address to the nation to explain the Gulf spill and its implications. Finreg is important enough, with the consequences of a weak bill to be felt for generations, that he should be taking an emergency response approach to reigning in the worse excesses of a financial sector that still has the country by the throat. Really, are Democrats and this White House going to run in 2012 on, as nice as it is, a new consumer protection agency whose enforcement will be somewhat dependent on the personnel that staff it – ala Bush’s Securities Exchange Commission.

The Truth Warpers – Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), Florida Gubernatorial Candidate Rick Scott and Sarah Palin

Lying in Washington: how it’s done

This is a little bit of inside baseball, but it’s instructive about the modus operandi of the collection of sociopaths now calling itself the Congressional Republican Party.

Four days ago, Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona got himself some ink and electrons (517 stories that Google News knows about) by making an explosive charge: not only was President Obama deliberately neglecting border security in order to hold that issue “hostage” to comprehensive immigration reform, but that Obama had said so himself in a meeting with Kyl.

“The problem is, he said, if we secure the border, then you all won’t have any reason to support comprehensive immigration reform,” Kyl said, as the crowd in the room gasped loudly. “In other words, they’re holding it hostage.”

Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) had to be telling the truth because Laura Ingraham, Brian Kilmeade, Steve Doocy, Lou Dobbs, the splendorous Charles Krauthammer and other strangers to actual truth, assured America, without a hint of irony that Kyl could not tell a lie – Right-wing media vouch for Kyl’s honesty despite his history of false claims. Now Kyl is backing off his claim. The same claim about Obama and immigration conservatives assured everyone was fact, Sen. Jon Kyl ‘taken a bit out of context’ … by Jon Kyl

And today, Kyl is backing down:

Kyl tells us that the comments were “taken a bit out of context,” and that the “they” he was referring to was the Left, “the president’s base,” and not the administration.

Basically what we have is Jon Kyl claiming that Jon Kyl’s words were taken out of context by Jon Kyl.

There is no reason to believe this new version of the story has any more truthiness than the first version. More here – KYL STARTS WALKING BACK BOGUS CLAIM….

Medicare Fraud’s Rick Scott Leading in Florida Gov. Race

Gov. Rick Scott?

The healthcare industry has been good To Rick Scott.

The former head of Columbia /HCA, Rick Scott hopes to become the next governor of Florida.

Scott is leading Attorney General Bill McCollum in a poll released today, by a margin of 44 to 31 percent.

The Quinnipiac University poll also finds that Scott leads Democrat, Alex Sink, the state’s Chief Financial Officer.

Who is Rick Scott?

For one thing he is a millionaire (some say billionaire) thanks to his health care companies. He has never held public office and is hoping to cash in on his record as a businessman.

But that’s the problem too.

In his television ads, Scott, 57, addresses the controversial past of Columbia/HCA. When he was chief executive, the hospital chain committed among the largest Medicare and Medicaid fraud in history and paid $1.7 billion in fines after Scott left.

Scott  was also involved in a statewide chain of walk-in clinics, Solantic where he had an official discrimination policy – white folks with no accents preferred. Scott is the preferred choice of the tea smokers. they are voting for him because apparently corruption and racism are facets of what they consider good government. Such behavior, conservatives believe, should be rewarded with high office. Conservatives esteem these traits to such a degree they are willing to over look billions in corruption, but also that Scott has profited from stimulus – Recovery Act – money, Do As I Say Now, Not As I Did: Rick Scott Benefited From Stimulus He Slams. Amazing how much the concepts of honor and integrity of the tea nuts lines up so well with the honor and integrity of plain old conservatives.

I recently mentioned Thomas Sowell’s gutter mouth piece comparing the voluntary escrow account President Obama asked BP to set up for the Gulf Coast to the rise of Nazism. With the benefit of having time to reflect on that remarkable piece of hacktacular journalism Sarah Palin finds she approves –  Sarah Palin Endorses Op-Ed Comparing Obama To Hitler, Suggesting BP Escrow Fund Could Lead To Nazi-Like Dictatorship

On Friday, Sarah Palin took to Twitter to direct her followers to read a recent op-ed from conservative columnist Thomas Sowell that compares President Obama to Hitler and warns that establishing a BP escrow fund could lead to further embrace of Nazi-like dictatorial powers.

“GOP: Don’t let the lamestream media suck you into “they’re defending BP over Gulf spill victims” bs,” Palin wrote. “This is about the rule of law vs. an unconstitutional power grab. Read Thomas Sowell’s article.”

Let’s not be suckered into believing BP’s rig explosion will end up costing the Gulf Coast billions in business revenue? Let’s not be suckered into believing the spill is completely BP’s fault – BP’s Partner in Gulf Well Anadarko Petroleum says “BP’s behavior and actions likely represent gross negligence or willful misconduct.” Once again the United States of America owes Palin a debt of gratitude for allowing us a glimpse of her knowledge and razor-sharp insights into the Constitution, morality, history and matters of national urgency.

Gears of a Clock wallpaper

Gears of a Clock wallpaper

‘Team America’ Makes Things Worse

Do you know how you can tell that Stanley McChrystal is an honorable man? Because within hours of learning about the Rolling Stone piece that ultimately sealed his fate as commander in Afghanistan, he took responsibility for what he and his aides were quoted as saying and apologized. He didn’t equivocate. He didn’t blame reporter Michael Hastings. He didn’t throw his staff under the bus. And he didn’t downplay what he had done. His first instinct was the instinct of an honorable man. That’s how you can tell, when everything is stripped away, who McChrystal is at his core.

The people around him, who jokingly refer to themselves as “Team America,” need to follow their commander’s intent. Because here they go, days after the final reckoning, to Washington Post reporters to anonymously slime Hastings as unscrupulous. It’s pathetic how flimsy their case is: I was a factchecker for two publications, and no factchecker is obliged to inform a source about the slant of a piece.

People should remember what General McChrystal did after the Rolling Stone story broke. It is incredibly rare in public life for people to screw-up, admit it and apologize. McChrystal went even further in admitting he compromised the mission. We have a sex criminal named David Vitter(R-LA) still in office – though he did fire his sex criminal aid. South Carolina Governor Sanford who billed tax payers for part of the costs to rendezvous with his mistress. Republicans who deny all responsibility for trashing the economy – even complaining about being blamed. The best thing Team America could do is let it go. They’re spoiling the memory of a class act and besides, they’re wrong on the merits – Weak, Unnamed sources in the Pentagon are going after Rolling Stone.

This is bullshit. Journalism is not a game of Red Light/Green Light. There doesn’t have to be “evidence” that the comments were made on the record because it doesn’t work that way. If someone requests something to be off the record and the reporter uses it, that’s a violation, but the subject doesn’t have to say something’s on the record for it to be used. I would say that goes double for embedded journalists.

I would also point out to the “officials” in the Pentagon that Army policy on this issue is explicit. As the Army Public Affairs Handbook puts it (pdf link):

Before beginning the interview, collect your thoughts, remind yourself of the ground rules, and remember there is no such thing as “off the record.” (Bold in the original.)

The handbook also has a message for the staffers who couldn’t keep their mouths in check.

Set the ground rules with the reporter. Tell him you can talk about what your unit does, and its mission, minus details that compromise OPSEC. Remind him not to ask you to speculate about the future or answer questions outside your area of responsibility. (Stay in your lane).

In this Ezra Klein piece about David Weigel he also speaks to the modern age of communication and assuming things about privacy. On Journolist, and Dave Weigel

But over the years, Journolist grew, and as it grew, its relative exclusivity became more infamous, and its conversations became porous. The leaks never bothered me, though. What I didn’t expect was that a member of the list, or someone given access by a member of the list, would trawl through the archives to assemble a dossier of quotes from one particular member and then release them to an interested media outlet to embarrass him. But that’s what happened to David Weigel. Private e-mails were twisted into a public story.

In a column about Stanley McChrystal today, David Brooks talks about the union of electronic text, unheralded transparency, 24/7 media and a culture that has not yet settled on new rules for what is, and isn’t, private, and what is, and isn’t, newsworthy. “The exposure ethos, with its relentless emphasis on destroying privacy and exposing impurities, has chased good people from public life, undermined public faith in institutions and elevated the trivial over the important,” he writes.

There’s a lot of faux-intimacy on the Web. Readers like that intimacy, or at least some of them do. But it’s dangerous. A newspaper column is public, and writers treat it as such. So too is a blog. But Twitter? It’s public, but it feels, somehow, looser, safer. Facebook is less public than Twitter, and feels even more intimate. A private e-mail list is not public, but it is electronically archived text, and it is protected only by a password field and the good will of the members. It’s easy to talk as if it’s private without considering the possibility, unlikely as it is, that it will one day become public, and that some ambitious gossip reporters will dig through it for an exposure story. And because that possibility doesn’t feel fully real, people still talk like it’s private and then get burned if it goes public.

Weigel got a bad deal, but considering that he was at WaPo and was a conservative willing to tell the truth conservatives, he had to know that the granite counter-top watchers would be out to get him. Insult Sludge Drudge? What was he thinking. Toilet Training and Jeffrey Goldberg

Dave Weigel is leaving The Washington Post over private e-mails mocking conservative figures. I find it really extraordinary that a news organization would let such a talented reporter go not because of any kind of professional misconduct but because someone leaked private correspondence in a deliberate effort to make Weigel look bad. If no one in The Washington Post newsroom has ever made a contemptuous joke about Joe Biden or Hillary Clinton, I’ll eat my laptop with mambo sauce. On second thought, never mind — calling Hillary Clinton a bitch as part of The Washington Post’s journalistic product is not grounds for firing at The Washington Post.

Of all the reactions to Weigel leaving the Post, I found Jeffrey Goldberg’s to be the most revealing:

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

This is an extraordinary statement from someone who touted a nonexistent link between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda.

Weigel’s departure has given the Right the opportunity to drag out the flea ridden canard the WaPo is a hot bed of liberalism. This is the same WaPo where torture aficionado Marc Thiessen writes. He does not just do rabidly partisan, Thiessen’s lies are printed with regularity and are unchecked by any editor concerned about the paper’s veracity. Bill Kristol also camps out at WaPo. Where Bill  continues the discombobulation of reality that he had perpetuated at the NYT, The Weakly Standard and Fox News.

McChrystal and The Tragedy of Outsized Egos

The history of Gen. Stanley McChrystal and the current administration will be spun and rewritten by the usual suspects regardless the facts. McChrystal’s departure and the interview that lead up to it seem to be more about personalities – well the General’s personality rather than politics. There were some public missteps McChrystal last year – Media Pushes ‘Rift’ Between McChrystal and Obama, General’s Remarks Took on Controversial Life After NY Times Pieces, Cable News Coverage By Spencer Ackerman 10/5/09. Who said what has a way of becoming amplified and distorted simply by reporting it and since the media loves an easy and combative narrative, that spin, intentional or not gets a lot of play. This was all around the time McChrystal was submitting what was supposed to be a confidential report on Afghanistan and what he thought was required to wrap up what he thought would be a successful conclusion of an effort that started during the Bush administration in 2001. Despite all the alleged tension between McChrystal and the White House he was upbeat about the decisions the Obama White House had made, McChrystal: ‘A New Clarity of Mission’ in Afghanistan, Gen. McChrystal Rallies the Troops in Response to Obama’s Military Strategy

Gen. Stanley McChrystal today welcomed President Obama’s announcement that he would send more troops to Afghanistan.

The U.S. commander also told reporters that Afghan President Hamid Karzai supported the decision. “The president was very upbeat, very resolute this morning,” he said.

In a confident but sometimes sobering address to his commanders around the country this morning, McChrystal said he believes that the war in Afghanistan is at a turning point.

Paraphrasing Winston Churchill, he said, “I don’t think we’re at the end, or the beginning of the end. We’re at the end of the beginning.” He asked for a moment of silence for the war’s dead and injured.

He then gave his commanders a rousing pep-talk, saying the president’s speech had given them a “new clarity of mission…providing their Afghan partners with the time, space and capability to defend their country.”

“Success is defined by the people. In counter-insurgency, it’s about what people think at the end of the day…there will be more long nights, more long days, more memorial services…but also more Afghans with a chance.”

Speaking off-camera later to reporters, McChrystal said, “The challenges are significant. There’s no way to get around that. Sometimes it looks almost insurmountable, but it isn’t.”

McChrystal indicated that while he supported the timeline he was keen to stress that it was far from absolute. “It’s not an 18 months and everybody leaves. The president has expressed on numerous occasions a long-term strategic partnership with Afghanistan and that includes all manners of assistance. So the concept is as ANSF [Afghan National Security Forces] capacity rises, the requirement for coalition military forces goes down.”

Talking about the troop numbers he seemed happy with the 30,000 the president has agreed to. “I think it is sufficient & it’s exactly what we need.” However, he quietly chided NATO countries: “I’m hoping all the coalition partners will look and see what they can do to expand their capabilities.”

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen issued a statement today in response to Obama’s announcement suggesting that NATO members would meet these responsibilities: “As the U.S. increases its commitment, I am confident that the other allies, as well as our partners in the mission, will also make a substantial increase in their contribution.”

The General got everything he needed, in his own words, than things do not go as planned. McChrystal is known for two things – being extremely smart and having a huge ego. Not bad things necessarily, in a heart surgeon or a General. In McChrystal’s case it might have been exasperating to have had a large say in the new strategy for Afghanistan, be the mission commander and have most of what he requested, than fight to what appears not to be a loss or a win, but a stalemate. Egos like McChrystal’s do not turn inward and ask hard questions of self – in this case it turned outward, letting loose in Rolling Stone. U.S. Troop levels in Afghanistan ( not including NATO forces) by 2003 were 5,200. By 2008 they had reached 23,700. These numbers are Boot on the Ground – not support personnel. By the end of 2009 there were 50,700. Including support, but not civilian contractors there are currently 94,000 U.S. forces in Afghanistan. More personnel than are currently in Iraq. Seeing the words in print and realizing the implications McChrystal admitted ” I’ve “Compromised  the Mission”. The Night Beat: Obama Borrows the Military Back

First, though a lot of officers who hitched their careers to McChrystal are indeed quite angry, no one has resigned, the CIA’s station chief remains in place (though he’s quite close to McChrystal) and McRaven isn’t going anywhere. Second, it is meaningful and endearing that so many people are loyal to McChrystal. They revere the man. Third, such behavior, while in one context explicable, is precisely an argument in favor of President Obama’s decision to remove McChrystal. The war is about more than one man. No deviations from the mission are acceptable. There is politics in war, and there are now numerous ways to complain; there is no question that after eight years doing God knows what in service to the country, frustrations had built up. But for those who talked to Rolling Stone, no matter how well-intentioned they were, no matter what they’ve done, their decision to open up to the magazine suggests that they had not learned, or had forgotten, the cardinal rule: your power is a trust that has been established by civilian politicians accountable to voters, and it is maintained by these politicians.

There is a frat house quality about the whole affair. The leaders of the frat house developed an attitude in which they could not possibly be wrong, though all the evidence around them suggested otherwise. These are the type of guys that are smart enough to do both great work and to create the rationales that deflect blame from themselves.

Even more about McChrystal: now it can be told. The story about him voting for Obama is not contrived. He is a political liberal. He is a social liberal. He banned Fox News from the television sets in his headquarters. Yes, really. This puts to rest another false rumor: that McChrystal deliberately precipitated his firing because he wants to run for President.

The verdict is not in on whether McChrystal was an angel, but he was and still is a brilliant soldier and only human. This was not his first mistake, but as he himself acknowledged maybe his worse in terms of putting people and egos ahead of the mission. The link to Ambinder at the Atlantic is worth reading in full. Explained among other things, is why McChrystal is called The Pope.

As Barton Un-unapologizes, Texas Voters Take Notice

As the saga of Rep. Joe Barton’s (R-Texas) apology to BP took yet another strange turn today, a new poll shows the voters he represents think he was wrong — and that the entire episode has negatively affected their opinion of him.

Public Policy Polling released the results of a poll this morning that showed just 18 percent believed Barton was right to apologize fow what he believed was a “$20 billion shakedown” of the company; 65 percent thought BP did not deserve the apology.

[  ]…Republicans hoped that would be the end of the story, but it was not to be so. Hours after apologizing to his colleagues, Barton’s Twitter account retweeted an American Prospect story titled “Joe Barton was right.” A media firestorm erupted, with Politico’s Ben Smith referring to the tweet as an “unapology.” The tweet has since been deleted and an aide has claimed responsibility for posting it, claiming he had retweeted the item without thinking.

The apology flap appears to have had a negative effect on Barton’s popularity in the state. The PPP poll shows more people view him negatively than view him positively…

If Barton wants to be a lobbyist for the oil industry he is free to do so, but he should resign and stop living off tax payers while pretending to be an honorable representative of the people.

Conservative media defend BP against “shakedowns,” “show trials,” and environmentalists at least 62 times

Media Matters has identified at least 62 recent instances of media conservatives defending BP, 38 of which occurred on the Fox News Channel, Fox Business, the Fox Nation, or the talk shows of Fox News hosts. There were at least 21 criticisms of BP’s escrow account as an Obama “shakedown” or “slush fund,” 10 attacks on President Obama for supposedly “demonizing” BP, 15 examples of conservatives deriding investigations of the company, 12 claims that environmental regulations are responsible for the spill, and five absurd conspiracy theories about the spill.

Conservatives seldom take responsibility for anything – the Iraq fiasco, wrecking the economy – now they refuse to let corporations take responsibility for their actions. If America is in the mood for the ultimate in Daddy politics by all means vote Republican; they’re the dads that will let you get away with anything.

One Water Drop wallpaper

One Water Drop wallpaper

Giant sand berms are the Right’s newest yellow buses. Louisiana Governor Jindal, Michelle Malkin and the right-wing echo chamber have suddenly become engineering wizards ( an expertise probably equaled by their knowledge of those WMD in Iraq), in addition to their sudden and miraculous concern for the environment. The Obama administration has gone along and humored them by granting an emergency request for six sand berms to be built in front of Louisiana’s barrier islands. The whole science of whether such islands will be an effective oil containment technique has been tossed out the window so the mindless mob can get their way. Under Pressure to Block Oil, A Rush To Dubious Projects – These highlights are part of a longer column by a coastal ecologist.

*In response to the widening disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, government officials have approved a plan to intercept the oil by building a 45-mile sand berm. But scientists fear the project is a costly boondoggle that will inflict further environmental damage and do little to keep oil off the coast.

*Given the enormity of this environmental disaster, it is understandable that there is tremendous political and societal pressure to stop the flow and clean up the mess. However, in their rush to react to growing public pressure and do something, federal and state officials are waiving scientific review of emergency measures and embracing dubious solutions.

*While mitigating the environmental damage of this spill is critical, it must be done in a way that wisely utilizes the resources at hand, effectively deals with the problem (e.g., keeping oil out of wetlands), and doesn’t do more harm than good. But the emergency projects currently being proposed by various entities and permitted by the Corps of Engineers — including a plan to build a seawall in front of Dauphin Island, Alabama — have not had sufficient review and design to guarantee that any of the above goals will be met. Indeed, since the Louisiana berm will not be continuous, there is a strong likelihood that oil will flow in through the gaps, then possibly become trapped in wetlands.

*I have yet to speak to a scientist who thinks the project will be effective. The Corps of Engineers gave agencies, such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), less than a day to submit comments on the proposal after it was presented to the agencies during a teleconference on May 17.

Could anyone guess what  lame conservative columnist Thomas Sowell is referring to judging by the title of his latest bit of journalistic hackery – Is U.S. Now On Slippery Slope To Tyranny?. No, not our Kenyan Muslim President with no birth certificate is not shredding the first five amendments in the Bill of Rights.

When Adolf Hitler was building up the Nazi movement in the 1920s, leading up to his taking power in the 1930s, he deliberately sought to activate people who did not normally pay much attention to politics.

[  ]…In our times, American democracy is being dismantled, piece by piece, before our very eyes by the current administration in Washington, and few people seem to be concerned about it.

[  ]…Just where in the Constitution of the United States does it say that a president has the authority to extract vast sums of money from a private enterprise and distribute it as he sees fit to whomever he deems worthy of compensation? Nowhere.

And yet that is precisely what is happening with a $20 billion fund to be provided by BP to compensate people harmed by their oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

What oil company decided to voluntarily set up an escrow fund to compensate the people during the Nazi’s reign. I suppose Sowell’s gross equivalence between the Nazi’s and Obama’s nudge to BP’s purely voluntary action is what passes for journalistic and intellectual integrity in Wingnuttia. Surely the escrow fund is a giant step down the slippery slope to Nazism. Since they keep repeating the same debunked crap over and over the point is not to advance the truth but to create yet another purely manufactured narrative. In A Tale of Two Disasters Paul Rubin at WSJ pulls out the Gulf spill is Obama’s Katrina nonsense. Maybe the Right doesn’t have enough imagination to think of some new bulls*it to shove down the public’s throat. A Republican led Senate committee found Bush screwed up on Katrina. Contrary to Rubin’s selective memory and lazy research. The parallels between Katrina are thin at best. As are all the other absurd parallels the right-media has drawn.

Maybe if the tea nuts get their way and somehow manage to make recall elections of federal representatives standard fare on the political menu it might not be such a bad thing for liberals. For instance we could impeach Sen. Jon Kyl’s (R-AZ) for gross misconduct – Right-wing media push Kyl’s flatly denied claim that Obama said he won’t “secure the border”

Right-wing blogs have seized on Sen. Jon Kyl’s (R-AZ) claim that President Obama is refusing to “secure the border” in order to force the GOP to support comprehensive immigration reform — a claim the White House has since flatly denied. Indeed, the Obama administration has already taken numerous steps to boost border security but argues that “truly securing the border will require a comprehensive solution,” which is a view shared by immigration experts as well as several Republicans.

[  ]….Obama administration has taken measures to increase border security, immigration enforcement

LA Times: Obama admin. “has outdone its predecessor on border enforcement spending and on deportations.” The Los Angeles Times reported on June 16 that Obama “agree[d] to dispatch 1,200 National Guard troops to the border and to seek an extra $500 million for border enforcement. That came after 18 months in which the Obama administration has outdone its predecessor on border enforcement spending and deportations of illegal immigrants, all in an effort to build support for a comprehensive immigration plan.”

Obama admin. has increased the number of Border Patrol agents. PolitiFact has noted that Obama has been “increasing the number of border patrol officers.” The Arizona Republic reported on May 26 that “[t]he Border Patrol today has more than 20,000 agents nationwide, more than 16,000 of whom are assigned to the U.S.-Mexican border”

The way right-wing conservative blogs are supposed to work is one reads them. Sees the real unvarnished truth to which they are privy – they just do, no supporting evidence required – and the reader converts to being a bed wetting conservative. After at least ten years of reading them I remain  assured they will only continue to live up the low standards for accuracy and honor  for which they have become infamous.

According to conservative Andy McCarthy – an “intellectual” from the National Review, President Obama is playing right into al-Qaeda’s trap by killing too many terrorists – Is McCarthy Secretly A Genius?

Jonathan Bernstein looks at Andy McCarthy’s bizarre conspiracy theory that the president is only attacking al-Qaeda to serve the larger cause of Islamic world domination, and senses brilliance:

This isn’t stupid; it’s genius. McCarthy’s plan is foolproof; it covers not only a lucky shot that hits bin Laden, but a complete victory over al-Qaeda. All part of Barack Obama’s treasonous treachery. Notice, by the way, that it’s only a “vibrant debate in Islamist circles.” Nice touch; if by some chance Obama curtails the drone strikes, or is in any way defeated by bin Laden, then that will presumably prove that the “vibrant debate” was decided in favor of al-Qaeda, and Obama acted accordingly.

To assume that this is genius rather than idiocy, you have to assume that McCarthy is proposing this scenario as political strategy and not as, you know, non-fiction. But since McCarthy is the kind of guy who believes Obama might be an Indonesian citizen and draws parallels between Obama and Iranian President Mahmoud Amadinejad because sometimes Obama doesn’t wear a tie (cough), and thinks William Ayers wrote Obama’s autobiography, the more plausible explanation is that he’s a conspiracy theorist laboring to keep pace with the hamster wheel of his own logic.

— Adam Serwer

The actual full quote from McCarthy,

“These days, the vibrant debate in Islamist circles — the circles Obama has courted assiduously — is over whether al-Qaeda has outlived its usefulness, at least when it comes to attacking our homeland. Many Islamist thinkers believe the Islamist movement is making such progress marching through our institutions (and Europe’s) that terrorist attacks at this point are a tactical blunder. They cause a blowback effect that retards the progress of what Robert Spencer aptly calls the “stealth jihad.” “

There is no other way to interpret it. By killing terrorists, McCarthy and his komrade Marc Theissen deeply feel President Obama, Gen. James Jones, Gen. Stanley McChrystal and Defense Secretary Gates are aiding Isalmic jihad. Conservatism’s finest minds at work.

Right-wing Watch and The Joe Barton Chronicles

Right Wing News is currently running this defense of Joe Barton (R-TX), Dems to Run on Joe Barton Campaign Platform

Rep. Joe Barton says what everyone knows is true and his own party threatens to kick him out of his committee seat. We expected cynical political opportunism from Democrats, but not from Republican leaders.

Where are we as a society when the truth is treated as a something that can’t be uttered in public?

Barton, the Texas Republican, apologized to BP CEO Tony Hayward, now relieved of his duties, during Thursday’s House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing for what he characterized as a “shakedown” by the White House in forcing the company to create a $20 billion victims’ compensation fund.

He also declared that he was “ashamed” of the White House’s tactics, and called it “a tragedy of the first proportion that a private corporation can be subjected to what I would characterize as a shakedown.”

“I do not want to live in a country where any time a citizen or a corporation does something that is legitimately wrong is subject to some sort of political pressure that is — again, in my words, amounts to a shakedown,” he said.

Naturally, the Democrats went hard after Barton. And the media were happy to aid the cause. And just as naturally, other comments by Barton have not received as much attention. Without having watched the hearing or read the transcript, how many people know that Barton said:

“There is no question … that BP made decisions that objective people think compromise safety. There is no question that BP is liable for the damages.”

Or that he told Hayward “we want to hold (BP) responsible, do what we can to make the liable parties pay for the damages.”

Just as every lawmaker should, Barton simply wants the government to follow our due process system …

Did anyone else get a little teary eyed at the fate of poor Barton and the holy truth about how The One (President Mighty Obama) has given BP and by some weird triangulation, the entire business community, history’s biggest bitch slap. Joe Conason addressed the absurd notion of a BP “shakedown” a few days ago, Ripping the populist mask off GOPBP

As a GOP representative from Houston, Barton should be expected to act like an oil industry rent-boy. That is his essential identity and purpose in life, and that is why he apologized to BP chairman Tony Hayward for the “shakedown” perpetrated against the company by President Obama. But there was no shakedown nor was there, as some conservatives have suggested, any violation of the corporation’s constitutional rights. The president has no power to prevent BP from defending claims in court, nor can he prevent the Justice Department from indicting BP executives on criminal charges if sufficient evidence exists to do so. The establishment of the escrow fund was entirely voluntary, and indeed many observers believe that the decision to create it was motivated as much by self-interest and public relations as by compassion or guilt.

Due process is not in issue since the fund was set up by BP. That the president’s use of the bully pulpit may have had some measure of influence on BP’s decision should be applauded unless you care more about BP than the residents of the Gulf coast. While the Department of Justice is still not as independent from political pressure as it should be ( at least it is not being used as a political hammer of the Republican party) , the DOJ is empowered and obligated to prosecute criminal negligence. To some observers like myself it does look as though BP and it’s associates acted with criminal neglect in it’s responsibilities to run a safe drilling rig. It also happens that BP’s partner in the Horizon project thinks the same thing. There is also enough evidence to let a couple hundred lawsuits against BP proceed , including ones brought by the families of those killed and the shrimping industry. Right Wing News, what a great name for a place to get stuff that reads like propaganda from Soviet era Pravda.

The right cannot seem to get it’s story straight about the escrow account. Lies are easy, the thinking goes among the kool kids, after all that whole WMD thing worked so well many people still believe it, Rep. Franks Now Says Obama Dishonestly Taking Credit for BP Escrow Fund

Earlier in the week, the Republican Study Committee (the caucus of House conservatives) issued a press release calling BP’s decision to open a $20 billion escrow account to compensate Gulf residents hurt by the BP spill a “Chicago-style political shakedown.”  Rep. Tom Price (R-GA), chairman of RSC, commented, “in an administration that appears not to respect fundamental American principles, it is important to note that there is no legal authority for the President to compel a private company to set up or contribute to an escrow account.”

Now, Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ), another member of the RSC, is attacking President Obama from a different angle.  In a press release, Franks does not accuse the White House of a “shakedown,” but rather blasts the president for his supposed dishonesty in taking credit for the creation of the escrow account.

“However, the real story here is that BP had already made the decision to set aside $20 billion to compensate those harmed by this tragic disaster several days prior to the President’s speech. The true outrage is that this was never the President’s idea at all, and he should be ashamed for pretending it was for political purposes.”

Which is it?  Did the president forcefully shakedown BP or is he dishonestly taking credit for something BP had already committed to?  It can’t be both.