Friday Talking Points [126] -- We'd Like Our Gulf Back

[ Posted Friday, June 4th, 2010 – 17:04 UTC ]

The mainstream media, led by the intrepid White House press corps, closely followed by the inside-the-Beltway punditocracy, has declared what must happen for the oil to stop flowing into the Gulf of Mexico: President Obama needs to get angry at the oil.

I wish I were kidding, but sadly, I am not. This is the number one topic fluttering around the field of so-called conventional wisdom these days: Obama's not mad enough.

Salon has the full rundown on this, which I find I cannot improve upon:

Here are three questions CBS White House correspondent Chip Reid asked at yesterday's White House press briefing:

"You said earlier that the President is enraged. Is he enraged at BP specifically?"

"Frustration and rage are very different emotions, though. I haven't -- have we really seen rage from the President on this? I think most people would say no."

"Can you describe it? Does he yell and scream? What does he do?"

Important questions! Is the president more frustrated, or mad? Doesn't he know that the oil will stop spilling into the Gulf if he just gets madder??

The article also has a list of links to other prominent "journalists" who have jumped on board the "Obama should get angry" bandwagon, in case you'd like more of the same idiocy. I feel kind of sorry for Chip, as he used to have a shred of integrity, back when he was just a "poll numbers guy" during the 2008 election season. Then he joined the White House press corps, and it's like he's had some sort of lobotomy or something. Maybe it's a prerequisite for the job, or something.


OK, let's have a quick review. Two presidents ago, the press loved to mock Bill Clinton for doing his "I feel your pain" shtick so well. One president ago, the press loved to mock George W. Bush for his cowboy swagger and shoot-from-the-hip attitude. Now that we elected a guy who was famous during his campaign for being "No Drama Obama," the press wants some sort of combination of Bush and Clinton instead. You just can't keep these guys happy, apparently!

Of course, if Obama were to take the media's bait and get really and visibly annoyed, then the press would probably gleefully rush to drag out the tired old stereotype of the "angry black man" -- which Obama has so far masterfully avoided. And if he got angry enough to push aside the laws which clearly state that BP is responsible for cleaning up the mess, and somehow "nationalize" the cleanup, or even put BP into receivership, then Republicans would immediately start screaming that Obama wanted to take over the oil industry, and it was all a secret plot by socialist Democrats to end everyone's freedom. Oh, and that there would be a death panel waiting for you the next time you tried to fill up your car.

Now, please note I'm not defending Obama's actions so far in the Gulf. Obama is notoriously slow to start in general, and a case can certainly be made that he wasn't out in front of the scope of the disaster as fast as he should have been. That argument, in fact, would be a much better use of the press corps' time, but they have gone down a dark alleyway of silliness instead of making that case.

I have to admit, I'm writing this before seeing what Obama had to say about the spill in his visit to the region today. So perhaps Obama got really angry and his righteous wrath caused all the oil underground to reconsider gushing out and decide instead to stay comfortably in the ground. Or, perhaps, Obama got so seriously enraged that he shot laser beams from his eyes which burned up all the oil floating around in the Gulf (wouldn't that make for a great video clip?). Because, as everyone knows (just ask any White House press corps member), if Obama would just for the love of all that's holy yell and scream at the oil, then it would all go away.

Sheesh. It's getting so that I am even welcoming the endless "blown ump call blows perfect game" baseball stories (which have been legion this week), just for a change of subject.


Most Impressive Democrat of the Week

Because Congress wasn't doing much this week (insert your own joke here), no prominent Democrats really shone or dimmed this week in any significant way. Israel boarded some boats, with loss of life, and American politicians emitted various spin (both ways) on the subject, but I can't really see the American/Israeli diplomatic situation changing much as a result, so we were left with some relative unknowns when it came to handing out awards this week.

While Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid saw an impressive rise in his poll numbers this week, this wasn't due to anything Reid actually did. For the first time in a very long time, Reid is actually up in the polls. The Senate Majority Leader, up until now, has been seen as one of the most vulnerable Democratic senators facing an election this year, and Republicans have been drooling over not just gaining his seat, but also of deposing a sitting Majority Leader.

Unfortunately for Republicans, the candidates fighting for the GOP nomination are engaged in a contest of who can exhibit the craziest behavior on the campaign trail. This wackaloonfest, where three candidates are vying to seem more Tea-Party-ish than the next guy or gal, has radically improved Reid's chances of holding on to his seat this November. So much so that Reid is now leading each of them in head-to-head polls. But, like I said, this wasn't due to Harry doing anything particularly impressive this week.

Instead, our Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week this week is Alabama Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks, who won a Democratic primary race for governor this week. Sparks absolutely obliterated (by 30 points) Representative Artur Davis, who was trying to become Alabama's first African-American governor. Davis, however, was running on his opposition to Barack Obama's health plans, and his general independence from the White House.

This didn't go over very well. As one Democratic pollster put it, after the race: "The shocking story is that Democratic voters in Democratic primaries vote for the Democrats. To be frank, that's what is going on here. Democrats are voting for Democrats and you can't become a Democrat-lite and hope to win."

Who'd-a thunk it? Gosh darn it, maybe we should get this message out to a few other folks, what do you say?

For an impressive 30-point victory in the primary, Ron Sparks is this week's Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week. We wish him good luck in his general election campaign.

[It is our policy not to link to candidates' campaign sites, for ethical reasons. But you can congratulate Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks via his official state contact page, to let him know you appreciate his victory. But don't try to call him up this Monday, because the state has a holiday for Jefferson Davis' birthday (you just can't make this stuff up).]


Most Disappointing Democrat of the Week

This one is pretty parochial and obscure, but simply cannot be beat for sheer disappointment (and amusement). From the Associated Press wire report:

A former state senator who was captured on video stuffing bribe money into her sweater and bra pleaded guilty Thursday in a federal corruption case that could send her to prison for up to four years.

Former state Sen. Dianne Wilkerson, a Boston Democrat who was once a rising political star, entered the pleas to eight counts of attempted extortion at a hearing in U.S. District Court just weeks before her trial was set to begin.

Wilkerson was arrested in October 2008 and accused of taking $23,500 in bribes to help get a liquor license for a nightclub and an undercover agent posing as a businessman who wanted to develop state property.

Without further comment (none is really necessary, we feel), we hereby award the Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week to Massachusetts state senator Dianne Wilkerson. Next time, Dianne, at least bring a purse.

Well, it looks like we just couldn't resist commenting, after all. In fact, we're going to let our favorite corrupt politician with a Boston accent -- Mayor "Diamond" Joe Quimby, from The Simpsons -- have the last say (spoken after Quimby accepts a bribe from a gangster):

"Thank you, Fat Tony. However, in the future, I would prefer a nondescript briefcase to the sack with a dollar sign on it."

[Dianne Wilkerson likely doesn't have a publicly-available contact page at this point. Probably just as well.]


Friday Talking Points

Volume 126 (6/4/10)

OK, just as an experiment, I'm going to take the mainstream media's bait. This week, instead of generic suggestions for use by Democrats, I am offering a few specific suggestions for Obama to show some anger.

In other words, if he takes the shiny, shiny media bait, here's what I would like to hear from him (the media will be happy with any "anger" since they've already made Obama's "anger" the key issue, therefore they will be guaranteed to run any angry clip Obama feeds them).

Here are my six suggestions (our final talking point is a bit off subject, just because) for President Obama to have at the ready, in case he wants to get all enraged on Chip Reid any time soon.


   We'd like our Gulf back.

BP's chairman showed the world a few days ago why you should not do live television interviews when you are obviously suffering from sleep depravation. In other words, he showed a little frustration of his own (dare I say "anger"?), when he uttered a line he had to quickly apologize for. This is a prime target for any politician to hit, in other words.

"I saw BP's chairman on television saying, quote, I'd like my life back, unquote. You know what my reaction was to hearing this? My first thought was that there are eleven people who quite literally would like their lives back, and I bet their families would prefer they had their lives back as well. My second reaction was a broader one, that I think any American could have been thinking -- you'd like your life back, Mister BP Chairman? Well, we'd like our Gulf back. And until we get it back, your life is going to be consumed with how to fix the problem you caused."


   All the PR in the world...

BP's chairman was also in the news, because he's hired lots of folks to help BP (and him personally) clean up their image with the public.

"I heard BP's chairman is spending millions of dollars on an advertising blitz to convince the public that he's really a nice guy and everything. But you know what? All the media damage control in the world isn't going to help him now. Until every drop of oil is removed from the Gulf and from the beaches and marshes, and until everyone affected by this catastrophe is compensated, and every dollar is paid for by BP, all the PR in the world isn't going to change his or his company's image. I'd suggest he spend the money on the cleanup, personally."


   We're all "environmental extremists" now

Republicans have been using this as a club for a very long time, and Democrats have never quite woken up to the fact that the vast majority of America actually enjoys "the environment," and wants the government to protect it.

"Every time Democrats try to strengthen environmental laws, Republicans loudly complain about, quote, environmental extremism, unquote. They want everyone to think that anyone who is for adequate environmental protections is just some tree-hugging idealist who doesn't understand the way the world really works. Well, sometimes the world doesn't work the way it's supposed to. And you end up with an environmental disaster. This is why Democrats want the government to force companies to plan for worst-case scenarios -- because sometimes the worst case happens. I want to ask any Republican politician who has ever uttered the term 'environmental extremist' if they think that the shrimp fisherman, the tourists, and all the Gulf Coast residents who are mad as heck right now are 'environmental extremists' or tree-huggers. I've got news for Republicans -- we're all 'environmental extremists' right now."


   Defining "deregulation"

Yet another core issue Democrats rarely fight back on, and usually just cede to the Republicans. Spell it out, in no uncertain terms.

"This is the end result of a favorite talking point of Republicans -- deregulation. Deregulation means getting rid of regulations. Republicans, for three decades, have championed the cause of deregulation, and keep telling us that if the big, bad government would just get out of the way of private business, then everything will be hunky-dory. What this ignores is that the regulations Republicans love to gut are things like safety laws and contingency planning. So the lesson people need to hear right now is that too much deregulation is indeed a bad thing, because corporations are only truly concerned about their bottom line and their shareholders. Government regulations are put in place to protect the rest of us from corporate cost-cutting, corner-cutting and other forms of greed and risk."


   This is what "small government" means

I seem to be on a roll here with refuting -- as strongly as possible -- the entire Republican political philosophy, so I might as well take on the elephant in the room (so to speak).

"Republicans have been trying, for years, to get government so small that you can 'drown it in a bathtub' -- yes, that's the actual phrase they love to use. The problem with this type of thinking is that when things go bad, there will be nothing left for you to turn to when disaster strikes. Strange how I haven't heard a whole lot of talk about 'small government' from any of the Republican politicians from Gulf states these days. Instead what I hear is 'Help us!' Well, of course we'll help. That's one of the main reasons we have a robust government. And when the next disaster comes, whether it's a hurricane or a volcano erupting, we will be there to help as well. Rather than talking about drowning government in a bathtub, let's see what we can do to clean up all the drowned oil out there."


   Free market failure

OK, this is the last one of these attacks on the fundamental pillars of Republicanism, I promise, and then we'll move on to something a little lighter to end on.

"Republicans have also been telling us for years and years that the free market always does everything better and cheaper than the federal government. Some of these same Republicans are now demanding that government has let them down, even though the laws passed after the Exxon Valdez oil spill clearly spell out that the private company that causes the disaster be the one to clean it up. I guess all that faith in free market solutions to every possible problem doesn't actually work, when put to the test, eh? Maybe we should think about this the next time Republicans invite oil executives to use lobbyists to deregulate everything in sight. A true free-market libertarian would say that the federal government shouldn't even be involved in the cleanup effort, and should just step back and let the wonders of the free market freely work. Well, sometimes that just isn't good enough, which should serve as a lesson to all of us. Putting too much faith in the free market's ability to solve every problem can have disastrous results at times."


   Rand Paul's bum Rush

Speaking of the free market, and those who worship it, Kentucky Republican Senate candidate Rand Paul apparently hasn't learned a basic lesson about the free enterprise system he is supposed to be championing: you have to pay for stuff.

Even songs. And you have to get the artist's permission to use the song in a political campaign. The Canadian rock band Rush is suing Paul to get him to cease and desist using their work at his rallies. This seems to be a perennial problem with Republicans -- not paying or asking permission for songs they like. It's almost as if someone needed to sit them down and explain the free market or something.

News reports noted that the song in question (or at least one of them) is Rush's "The Spirit Of Radio," which was written about music and radio. But nobody so far has pointed out the thick, thick irony of the actual lyrics to this song, so I thought I'd close on this note. Someone should really play the song for Rand, and point out to him the parts about honesty and integrity. And that "almost free" is not "free."

Emotional feedback on timeless wavelength
Bearing a gift beyond price, almost free

All this machinery making modern music
Can still be open hearted
Not so coldly charted
It's really just a question of your honesty, yeah
Your honesty

One likes to believe in the freedom of music
But glittering prizes and endless compromises
Shatter the illusion of integrity


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Cross-posted at: Democratic Underground

Cross-posted at: The Huffington Post


-- Chris Weigant


20 Comments on “Friday Talking Points [126] -- We'd Like Our Gulf Back”

  1. [1] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Liz -

    It didn't really fit into the article, but I bet you'll like these photos.



  2. [2] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Hey, Chris!

    Those photos put a smile on my face.

    I missed those - you know, I don't go to the Biden Big News page at the HP anymore as I find it all completely unbearable, by and large. What I don't read can't raise my blood pressure.

    So, thanks for the heads up here. I guess it didn't rise to the level of being worthy of a MIDOTW award ... or even honourable mention? :)

  3. [3] 
    Michale wrote:

    Well, slap my face and call me stoopid..

    I really can't find anything in your commentary to argue with..

    I did notice you mentioned the Israel Blockade issue. I'll refrain from jumping on that one little blurb since I have been keeping busy with that issue on other forums. Suffice it to say that the entire incident was fully justified and utterly legal under international law.

    So, kudos, CW.. An entire commentary and I can't find a darn thing to argue with...

    Geee, I hope this isn't the start of a trend... :D


  4. [4] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Liz -

    Cutest Photo Op Of The Week?

    Michale -

    Dang, I must be slipping or something...

    You even liked the Rush song?


    As you can tell, I didn't really want to address the Israel issue at all here, and tried to be as non-committal as possible.


  5. [5] 
    Michale wrote:

    You even liked the Rush song?

    I love RUSH!! :D

    As you can tell, I didn't really want to address the Israel issue at all here, and tried to be as non-committal as possible.

    Yea, I noticed that. Probably just as well.. :D


  6. [6] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    I think including a photo of the week of some sort in the FTP column is a great idea - you know, an 'optic' to go along with the talking points! I'm just thinking out loud ...


    I love RUSH, too! :)

    Chris and Michale,

    Any subject that has anything to do with Israel is always going to be a tough one to broach. But, I can't think of a better place than right here for a frank and candid discussion on such a contentious issue as that.

    But, unless we want to deal with countless nuisance comments - which can be worth their weight in fun, actually - it would probably be best not to write about it on a Monday, Wednesday, or Friday ... if you know what I mean and I'm sure that you do!

  7. [7] 
    Michale wrote:


    But, I can't think of a better place than right here for a frank and candid discussion on such a contentious issue as that.

    I am all for a frank and lively debate on the subject. And I agree with you that this definitely would be the PERFECT place to have such discussions.

    One of the things I love about CW is that it's actually challenging to debate the really tough subjects. With minor exceptions, everyone stays on topic and the discussions are really a lot of fun.

    My recent wanderings to find rational debate in other forums on this subject was somewhat disappointing. It seems that, in other forums "rational debate" consists of, "GO TO HELL!!" and "FUCK YOU, YOU NAZI!!" and other assorted arguments that will never be known for their cognizance or maturity. :D

    So, bring it on, I say! :D


  8. [8] 
    Michale wrote:

    On another note...

    Remember how, in the height of CrapCare debate, I cautioned everyone regarding the fallout from passing CrapCare??

    Here is a perfect example:

    Many things that are very important, a LOT more important than CrapCare, are simply NOT getting done because of CrapCare.

    Immigration reform and border security? Shirley, you jest.

    Road programs, school programs, teacher retention programs that would have meant millions of jobs?? Too bad, so sad...

    Bonus payments to seniors. DOA

    Extensions of jobless benefits. Ain't gonna happen.

    Subsidies for health insurance premiums. Hasta la vista, baby.

    And on and on and on..

    All because Obama and the Democrats ignored the will of the people.

    What is it about the law of unintended consequences??

    Oh that's right. They always come back to bite ya on the arse... :D


  9. [9] 
    nypoet22 wrote:


    I agree that most discussion on israel tends to be done in language that leaves little room for mutual understanding. When every other phrase consists of "terrorist thugs" or "apartheid land-grab," objectivity isn't just out the window, it's on the opposite side of the universe.

    In general, i find that one of the biggest obstacles in the way of progress on israel is the incendiary language. I'm convinced that if people were forced to describe persons and events with a scientific lens rather than a political one, the situation would improve a lot. at the moment, if you read the narrative on both sides, it's like the two stories come from parallel worlds where everyone has beards. they live in their insular universes where "everybody knows" one thing or another, and the other side must be either deluded or disingenuous.

    it's like the old woman - young woman illusion, where you can look at the same page and see two completely different pictures. except most people can apparently only see one.

  10. [10] 
    Michale wrote:


    it's like the old woman - young woman illusion, where you can look at the same page and see two completely different pictures. except most people can apparently only see one.

    I guess that makes me special.. I can see both. :D

    While your analysis of the situation is more or less accurate, I think your position is a little unfair to the arguments themselves. Mind you, that's just my opinion.

    In this situation, there ARE absolutes that cannot be ignored simply because they are politically inconvenient to the situation.


  11. [11] 
    Michale wrote:

    On a totally unrelated issue...

    I just read an article that mentions White House chief speechwriter Jon Favreau...

    That is not THE Jon Favreau, is it???


  12. [12] 
    Michale wrote:

    Disregard last...

    I guess a GOOGLE would have answered the question a lot faster...

    Who woulda thunk that there were TWO "Jon Favreau"s in the world... :^/


  13. [13] 
    Kevin wrote:

    Hi Chris.

    I don't know if I'm the only one having this "problem", but lately whenever I check your site to see if there are new comments; the number displayed on your site doesn't match the actual comments shown... eg. the site says 10 when only 8 come up. This is mildly annoying as I like to keep track of fresh comments on each thread. Is it just the small-ghosttown service I get here, or are other readers having the same quirk?

  14. [14] 
    Michale wrote:

    Is it just the small-ghosttown service I get here, or are other readers having the same quirk?

    Forgive me for butting in, as I know this wasn't addressed to me...

    But it is not your service provider.. I see it as well.

    I am assuming that it's remnant gremlins left over from CW's additions to the site..

    I agree it's mildly annoying as I, like you, like to keep on top of new comments as well. No big shock there, eh? :D

    Anyways, just wanted to let ya know that you are not alone..


  15. [15] 
    Kevin wrote:

    Thanks for the quick response, Michale. I'm glad to hear it's not just me. I hope to hear soon that things are looking up for you, environment-wise :D

  16. [16] 
    Michale wrote:

    Glad to hep out. :D

    As far as the spill, time will tell... Nothing can ever get as bad as worst case...

    "I don't believe in the 'no-win' scenario."
    -Admiral James T Kirk, STAR TREK II The Wrath Of Kahn


  17. [17] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Kevin (and all comment bug-hunters) -

    The comments number mismatch is a known bug that was introduced when I redid the code that handles comments. What happens is this: on the main page, it counts all "comments" even though this includes trackbacks and pingbacks. Those last two are when another blog links to this one, and sends my blog a notification that they've linked to me -- they're not actually comments, but they (for some reason) get counted as such by the WordPress software.

    On the single-article page, only comments are counted, and trackbacks/pingbacks are excluded. I tried to use the exact same code to get rid of the problem on the main page, but for some reason it turned all the comment numbers to zero. So I left it as it was, with the bug still there.

    Usually, pingbacks and trackbacks happen pretty soon after the article is posted, so checking the comments number on the main page, even with the bug, is usually still a pretty good way to see if new comments have been posted, for whatever that's worth.

    The comments are undergoing minor revisions right now, and the site layout is also going to change a little in the coming week. So let me know if any other problems develop, and I'll try to take another crack at the main page numbers bug.

    For instance, I changed the text for "Logged in as:" but I'm not sure I'm happy with the way it looks right now.

    One bug I've noticed, that may just be a bug in my browser, is something I've been meaning to ask if anyone else has seen, and it seems like a good time to do so. Sometimes when I load the single-article page (where you are reading this comment right now, for instamce), the "Comments" text entry box and/or the "Submit Comment" button are cut off, and the footer area kind of overwrites it, so you can't actually post a comment.

    Anyone else seen this? Reloading the page usually works to clear it up, but not always. Let me know if anyone's seen this sort of thing. And thanks, as always, for the Quality Assurance help!



  18. [18] 
    Michale wrote:

    One bug I've noticed, that may just be a bug in my browser, is something I've been meaning to ask if anyone else has seen, and it seems like a good time to do so. Sometimes when I load the single-article page (where you are reading this comment right now, for instamce), the "Comments" text entry box and/or the "Submit Comment" button are cut off, and the footer area kind of overwrites it, so you can't actually post a comment.

    Anyone else seen this? Reloading the page usually works to clear it up, but not always. Let me know if anyone's seen this sort of thing. And thanks, as always, for the Quality Assurance help!

    Looks fine here...

    What browser do you use? What's the size of your Font/Text??

    Try holding your CTRL Key and roll your mouse forward and back. This will change the size of your font.

    Hope this helps.


  19. [19] 
    Michale wrote:


    Try holding your CTRL Key and roll your mouse forward and back. This will change the size of your font.

    That should read, "Try holding your CTRL Key and roll your mouse WHEEL, forward and back. This will change the size of your font."

    My bust..

    The article also has a list of links to other prominent "journalists" who have jumped on board the "Obama should get angry" bandwagon, in case you'd like more of the same idiocy.

    Jeeze Louise...

    The press sure knows how to manipulate this president..

    I wonder if the press wrote that Obama would govern better if he jumped off a cliff, if we would read the next day that Obama is sizing up cliffs to jump off of.. :^/

    Don't get me wrong. I think that Obama SHOULD show some anger... some zeal.... hell, even a pulse!

    But he should do it because he knows is the right thing to do, not because the press cajoles him into doing it...

    What's worse "idiocy"??

    The press always harping on minuscule things??

    Or Obama following the directions of the press??

    I mean, seriously.. First we have the Left-Wing media briefing our DHS head and AG on the content of State Laws..

    Now we have the President taking his cue from Main Stream Media.

    Can this country survive more than two more years of this??


  20. [20] 
    Michale wrote:

    Oh crappers.... :(

    CW, I would give my arm for a PREVIEW function.. :D


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