In a satellite interview with Rep. Charlie Melancon (D-La.) held shortly before 1 p.m. EDT today, MSNBC's Contessa Brewer criticized Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) for denouncing the president for pushing BP to agree to a $20-billion escrow account for oil spill damages as a "shakedown":
So, there's Joe Barton calling the $20 billion in escrow a shakedown, and as you point out, there are people in your district who have lost their livelihoods! They wonder how they can feed their families!
But yesterday, Brewer's MSNBC colleague Ed Schultz used similar language to voice his giddy approval of President Obama's maneuvering [video embedded at right and available as WMV file here]:
Plenty of prominent media figures were upset with President Obama over his substandard address to the nation last night (full text). While most are distraught, none seem to be doing what should be the essential journalistic task of the day: pointing out all of the factual misstatements the president made.
So, in absence of a serious attempt at fact-checking from the legacy media, let us undertake some of our own.
In all, the president misrepresented the federal government's--and especially his cabinet's--role in creating the conditions that led to the spill, the state of the nation's oil reserves, and his own administration's involvement with BP. Futhermore, his transition from discussing the Gulf spill to advocating "clean energy" legislation was a huge logical leap, and one that necessarily misrepresents the problems the nation faces with regard to energy.
With the federal government - both on Capitol Hill and in the White House - beginning to take investigative and punitive action against BP (NYSE:BP), the future of the company, at least in the United States, is in peril.
On CNBC's June 14 "The Kudlow Report," John Kilduff, a CNBC contributor and the vice president of MF Global was asked by host Larry Kudlow about a potential debarment from eligibility to be awarded government contracts, which have been very lucrative for the embattled oil giant.
"John, this would effectively be debarment," Kudlow said. "This is something we talked about a week ago, and the prevailing attitude was there would not be debarment because that hardly ever happens in American commercial history. Is President Obama having this as a Sword of Damocles over BP?"
Earlier this year, in his "Can we lose health coverage? Yes we can" column, syndicated columnist Deroy Murdock made a point asserted in dozens if not hundreds of columns and reports during the hide-and-seek legistlative process that ultimately led to the passage of what is commonly known as ObamaCare: The President's core promise relating to the statist health care legislation that ultimately became law in March -- namely that "If you like your health care plan, you will be able to keep your health care plan. Period. No one will take it away. No matter what" -- could not and would not be kept.
In that column, Murdock quoted Cato Institute analyst Michael Cannon as follows:
"Obama's definition of 'meaningful' coverage could eliminate the health plans that now cover as many as half of the 159 million Americans with employer-sponsored insurance, plus more than half of the roughly 18 million Americans in the individual market. ... This could compel close to 90 million Americans to switch to more comprehensive health plans with higher premiums, whether they value the added coverage or not."
In a late Friday afternoon blog post followed by a fuller early evening report, David Hogberg and Sean Higgins at Investors Business Daily confirmed that Obama's never-credible core promise is on the brink of being shattered, and that the employer-related calculations by Cato's Cannon were essentially correct (graphically illustrated by IBD at the top right):
Speaking to New York Magazine columnist John Heilemann on MSNBC Friday, anchor Andrea Mitchell wondered if the Gulf oil spill could be a political opportunity for President Obama: "Is there an opportunity now to do something real on energy?"Heilemann proclaimed the disaster was "a triggering action for us to try and get toward a greener future...break our addiction to oil..."
The discussion occurred during the 1PM ET hour on Andrea Mitchell Reports with Mitchell noting how the President was "trying to contain the political damage" from the spill. After she spun the crisis as an "opportunity," Heilemann argued: "I think this is one of these real moments for any president...what better moment is there than this?" Both Mitchell and Heilemann seem to share the philosophy of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel that "You never want a serious crisis to go to waste."
Heilemann actually worried that the White House would not exploit the situation enough: "I think that for the White House to do that and not end up with a piecemeal, some kind of small bill – small ball bill – he's got to go really big and turn this into a crusade." He described the "fear" on the Left that the administration was "going to end up settling for a small solution rather than the big one that really changes, fundamentally, our relationship to energy and the – and our climate."
While appearing before Congress, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke was asked by newly-elected Rep. Charles Djou (R-Hawaii) whether or not the federal government has a plan to tackle the continuing financial crisis. Check out his answer:
When a protectionist law is enacted and nearly a century later it is inhibiting a recovery from major ecological catastrophe, it's probably time to scrap it or at least temporarily waive it.
But instead a nearly century old provision known as the Jones Act of 1920 is wielding the wrath of unintended consequences. According to the Heritage Foundation, this protectionist measure was put in place to defend the American maritime industry, but is endangering far more jobs than it is protecting.
"The Jones Act, which is supposedly about protecting jobs, is actually killing jobs," Heritage co-authors James Dean and Claude Berube wrote in a June 8 The Foundry post. "The jobs of fishermen, people working in tourism and others who live along the Gulf Coast and earn a living there are being severely impacted. There are also additional private sector jobs which are NOT being created in the United States since the Jones Act effectively prices U.S. based companies out of the ability to be competitive on the competitive global market. As we strive to develop new technologies for a cleaner environment at sea, the Jones Act continues to hobble our own capabilities, sometimes with devastating results."
“Sooner or later, we’ll blame this on George W. Bush,” George Will presciently predicted on Sunday’s Week during the roundtable’s look as how President Barack Obama is handling the gulf oil leak. Seconds later, the Huffington Post’s Arianna Huffington didn’t let Will down, declaring “the truth is, that right now we have precisely the regulatory system that the Bush-Cheney administration wanted. Full of loopholes, full of cronies and lobbyists filling the very agencies they're supposed to be overseeing the industry.” Then this exchange:
GEORGE WILL: So, it's Bush's fault? Just clear this up.
ARIANNA HUFFINGTON: It is absolutely a thousand percent Bush-Cheney's fault.
Huffington proceeded to hit the Obama administration for not having “really done enough fast enough to change” Bush’s policies so “we are seeing the complete success of the kind of regulatory system that Bush-Cheney wanted.” Prompting Liz Cheney to marvel, “I don't know what planet you live on,” Huffington also charged that “right here we have the poster child of Bush-Cheney crony capitalism, Halliburton, involved in this.”
CNN tried to downplay poll results it released on Wednesday which indicated continuing opposition to ObamaCare, while emphasizing how the poll also found "growing support" for the President's call for increased federal regulation of the financial institutions. The network and its partners at Opinion Research also took two weeks to publish the results of only two questions from the poll.
On Wednesday's Rick's List, CNN's Drew Griffin pressed former Clinton administration official Robert Reich on his call for a federal takeover of BP and its efforts against the Gulf oil leak. Griffin first questioned Reich if his proposal was serious, and later stated that the Democrat's idea "sounds not only highly illegal...but seems to me to smack of something that we might see in Venezuela" [audio clips available here].
The CNN personality, who was filling in for anchor Rick Sanchez, brought on the current University of California, Berkeley professor to discuss his proposal, which he first made in a May 31 column (as noted by Jeff Poor at MRC's Business and Media Institute). After summarizing Reich's position, that it was "time for the government to seize control of BP and take over the company's oil spill recovery efforts in the Gulf," Griffin bluntly asked the former labor secretary, "I've got to tell you, I have always considered you a very serious person, but this doesn't sound serious to me at all. Are you serious about this, or was this some kind of a joke to get things going?"
On CBS's Sunday Morning show, correspondent Jim Axelrod filed a report touting the movement in America to make it the law of the land that some employers must provide paid vacation to their employees, even giving controversial Democratic Congressman Alan Grayson - known for making vicious attacks against conservatives – a chance to plug his proposal to make paid vacation, which the Florida Democrat called a "right," legally mandated:
Alan Grayson is adamant that vacation is a right. In fact, he wants to make it a law. ... Grayson wants to guarantee at least one week of paid vacation for every worker at a company with 100 or more employees. He says it will lead to greater productivity from well rested and healthier workers.
Touted as the show’s "cover story" by host Charles Osgood, the segment was teased:
On Sunday’s syndicated Chris Matthews Show, Time magazine columnist Joe Klein joined the ranks of left-leaning media figures like Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann in blaming the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico on the Bush administration. As the panel discussed President Obama’s handling of the disaster, Klein opined that "this is more Bush’s second Katrina than Obama’s first," and, after agreement from host Matthews, Klein continued: "Yes, because it was the Bush regulations, it was Dick Cheney’s deregulation, and lording over the Minerals Management [Service]-"
Later in the show, as the group discussed whether President Obama would recover from his current sagging approval numbers, Klein asserted that Obama is lucky because Republicans "look worse" on the oil spill than do Democrats: "He is incredibly lucky in his opposition. I mean, you know, the oil spill is a great example. The Republicans look worse on that than the Democrats do. I think that, because there are no really coherent Republican leaders now, he’ll come back."
Below is a transcript of relevant portions of the Sunday, May 30, syndicated Chris Matthews Show:
“Eight years of the Bush-Cheney administration removing regulations” has made it so “now the oil industry is too big to regulate,” former Time magazine Deputy Washington Bureau Chief Margaret Carlson fretted on Friday's Political Capital show on Bloomberg TV.
Defending Barack Obama against the notion the gulf oil disaster is “Obama’s Katrina,” Carlson, a columnist for Bloomberg News, argued on the weekly Friday night program hosted by Al Hunt:
The government is prepared for natural disasters, as in Katrina, if government is willing to act - which it wasn't in Katrina. Corporate disasters are another matter. The government doesn't have the equipment or the expertise. They can only oversee it.
And by the way, you know in a natural disaster government has an agency. We don't have an agency. What we had was eight years of the Bush-Cheney administration removing regulations. Now the oil industry is too big to regulate.
On Monday’s Tonight Show on NBC, Meet the Press host David Gregory appeared as a guest, and, while Gregory seemed to initially defend Tea Party activists against suggestions by Jay Leno that the movement has had a double standard in its treatment of President Bush and President Obama, Gregory also questioned the ability of its members to take part in "governing" as he asked: "How do you have a movement predicated on not governing and then seek to govern?"
Gregory also seemed to agree when Leno asserted that deregulation policies, which he alleged that Tea Party activists endorse, have led to the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico:
JAY LENO: Well, to me, BP is a perfect example. BP seems to have done this on their own. They don't pay attention. They essentially make their own rules because they pay off everybody. That's what the Tea Party wants. That's unregulated and look what happened.
DAVID GREGORY: Right, but in this case, right, you have a breakdown of regulations that led to getting contracts and their technology breaking down. But, right, I mean at some point, the government is the only entity that can clean up after a huge mess...
Below is a transcript of relevant portions of the Monday, May 24, Tonight Show on NBC:
With the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) taking another tumble of 376 points on May 20, some investors are pointing to problems in Europe for the sell-off. However, there may be problems at home as well.
"Well, a couple of things," Santelli said. Well, first of all, if you look at the high-grades, they widened out with the high-yields widened out more today at levels today that are wider than the day of the flash crash. That's ‘a.' And ‘b,' you know Maria, we have a 1.2511 on the Euro. This is so much more than just focusing on the Euro."
"Although the Gulf spill has lowered the percentage of Americans who support offshore oil drilling, a new Pew Forum poll finds a stunning 54 percent still support it," an incredulous Erbe wrote, adding, "So it will take more than a major, irreversible environmental disaster to persuade gas glugging Americans to trade in their pickups for hybrids. I see."
To Erbe, it can't possibly be that average Americans are more even-keeled than their hot-headed, grandstanding congressmen who would capitalize on a disaster for crass political gain. No, it's that oil-addicted American idiots across the fruited plain just aren't following the example of their betters on the Hill:
Eight former Federal Elections Commissioners today blasted proponents of a Senate bill that would "blunt" the Citizens United v. FEC Supreme Court decision, which allowed unions and corporations to spend freely on political advertisements.
Writing in the Wall Street Journal, the Commissioners called the bill "unnecessary, partially duplicative of existing law, and severely burdensome to the right to engage in political speech and advocacy." They also accused Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY, and Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md. -- sponsors of the Senate and House legislation, respectively -- of "partisan motives" designed to satiate the Democratic Party's labor union backers.
While some prominent news organizations, including the Washington Post, have raised serious concerns about the legislation, other ostensibly (or at least presumably) pro-free speech news outlets are either silent or, in the case of the New York Times, simply parrot Democratic talking points and give critics of the bill a mention, though not a voice, and make sure to dub them "the business lobby."
If you asked people what the two key events in the 20th century were, most would likely point to World Wars I and II because they transformed civilization. However, can something like the debate over climate change be as equally transformative?
"[I] think that evil people like me, people who are not afraid of taking the argument ad hominem occasionally and being a bit sort of naughty - I think we have a part to play in this war," Delingpole said. "And I use that word ‘war' quite deliberately because I think what we are fighting now is a war as important in its way as the wars of violence that our fathers and our grandfather fought in the first World War, the second World War, because ultimately what we're fighting for is exactly the same thing. What we are fighting for is liberty."
One can't help but be a bit stunned at the audacity of an organization built by Morton Halperin and George Soros lecturing others on "astroturfing." But that same audacity -- not the good Barack Obama kind -- is taken to extremes when that same organization alleges a corporate conspiracy where there simply is none.
Think Progress's Lee Fang was practically giddy that he had uncovered the next vast right-wing conspiracy, proclaiming that a powerpoint "obtained" by the website "reveals how the telecom industry is orchestrating the latest campaign against Net Neutrality" via layers of astroturfing "front groups."
In reality, the powerpoint was the creation not of the giant telecoms that quite openly oppose Net Neutrality, but rather of six students in a contest at a "think tank MBA" program held by the Atlas Economic Research Foundation. The whole project cost under $200. And far from being "secret," as Fang claimed, the powerpoint was posted online, as was the audio of the students' presentation to the contest's judges. Some astroturf!
In an interview with Senator John Kerry on Wednesday's CBS Early Show on the Gulf Coast oil spill, co-host Maggie Rodriguez hit from the left on new energy legislation proposed by the Massachusetts Democrat: "correct me if I'm wrong, your legislation calls for expanding offshore drilling at a time when polls show most Americans no longer support it. Why do you believe it's necessary to do that?"
A CBS News poll flashed on screen showing that only 46% Americans now support offshore oil drilling in the wake of the spill, as opposed to 62% supporting it in 2008. Kerry responded by pointing out that his bill would "actually restrict the current plan of the President" to expand offshore drilling. Rodriguez pressed further: "Are you saying it does not call for expanded offshore drilling?" Kerry reiterated: "I'm saying that it restricts the current law and it restricts the President's current plan."
Kerry began the interview by touting his desire to restrict oil production: "we have to really take the steps that we've been talking about for 30 years, for too long now, to move away from our energy dependence on fossil fuels, and particularly on imported fuel....The importance is now to move to the new economy." Apparently anything short of an all out ban on offshore drilling was not enough for Rodriguez.
Later in the segment, spurred by Rodriguez, Kerry proclaimed: "we're not going to stop drilling all of a sudden....it isn't going to disappear until we put our bill in place."
If a conservative or Republican uttered the nonsense to be revealed shortly, we'd justifiably never hear the end of it on the late-night comedy shows and elsewhere. As it is, former car czar Steve Rattner's "creative" term for fibbing has and probably will continue to get little coverage outside of Detroit.
Rattner's risible rendition of reality spewed forth before he spoke at a Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago-Detroit District conference. Here are excerpts from the coverage by the Detroit News's Robert Snell (HT Laura Ingraham), with help from David "I think Toyota bragged about avoiding safety recalls, so they did" Shepardson (bolds are mine):
General Motors Co. Chairman and Chief Executive Ed Whitacre may have stretched the truth in a commercial saying the automaker had repaid its federal obligations, former autos czar Steve Rattner said today.
GM "may have slightly elasticized the reality of things," Rattner told reporters ahead of a speech today.
The man who predicted the bursting of the housing bubble as well as 2008's economic collapse says that what happened in the markets around the world today is just the next stage in the financial crisis.
"The first stage was this massive re-leveraging of the private sector that led to the financial crisis and which has responded now with a massive re-leveraging of public sectors with budget deficits of the order of 10 percent," Nouriel Roubini aka Dr. Doom told CNBC's Maria Bartiromo.
"So I think that the markets are realizing that we have socialized a lot of the private losses with unsustainable fiscal deficits."
He believes the bond markets in parts of Europe seriously began realizing the depth of the problem today cautioning, "And soon enough they're going to wake up in the United States" (video follows with partial transcript and commentary):
"Everyone is entitled to his opinion, but not his own facts," Daniel Patrick Moynihan is credited as having once said. MSNBC's Chris Matthews would do well to heed the counsel of the late liberal New York senator.
The "Hardball" host yesterday smeared former Bush FEMA Director Michael Brown as having this kooky notion that President Obama approved of offshore drilling in March only because he knew the BP oil rig disaster would happen.
But as the video embedded at right shows, this is Matthews's own warped misunderstanding of Brown's argument about how the Obama administration is poised to take advantage of a disaster for political ends. [MP3 audio available here; WMV video for download here]
Matthews is certainly entitled to disagree with Brown's assessment about the Obama administration's motives behind its slow response to the BP oil spill, but not to lie to viewers about Brown's argument.
Below the page break you'll find a transcript excerpt:
Hosting a debate segment this morning between Republican strategist Alex Conant and Democratic strategist Mo Elleithee that examined the political dimensions of the aftermath of the Gulf oil spill, MSNBC's Tamron Hall played soundbites from two politicians with rather divergent views on offshore drilling.
The first was liberal Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-Calif.) opposing expanding offshore drilling to California, the second was conservative Rep. Gene Taylor (D-Miss.), who gave a rather dopey comment where he downplayed the devastation of the oil spill by comparing its appearance to "chocolate milk."
After playing those clips back-to-back, Hall asked for Conant's reaction, mistakenly referring to Taylor as a Republican.
We at NewsBusters quickly tweeted Hall about her error and she promptly issued an on-air correction, albeit mistakenly tagging Taylor as a "Michigan Democrat" [MP3 audio available here]:
A $787-billion stimulus. Liabilities of $356 billion for the TARP bailout on the federal government's balance sheet. And that's in addition to other unfunded liabilities from federal entitlements like ObamaCare, Medicare, and Social Security.
But that doesn't mean the U.S. is heading down the path toward socialism because they were one-time expenditures, according to CNBC senior economics reporter Steve Liesman.
On CNBC's "Squawk Box" April 29, as jobless claims for the week was being released on the floor of the CME Group in Chicago, co-host Joe Kernen asked for Liesman's opinion.
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize that so-called payday loans probably aren't the most reasonable option when it comes to short-term borrowing. But according to MSNBC's Rachel Maddow, it takes the federal government to let you know.
On her April 28 program, Maddow charged that these lenders engage in unscrupulous practices, despite offering a service that their clientele is willing to buy.
"Last week we did our best to explain payday lenders - who they are and who they are, who they - what they do and who they are, excuse me," Maddow said. "Payday lenders are basically loan sharks with nice store fronts. They specialize in turning what look like short-term loans into ongoing obligations that rollover every two weeks, piling up fees until they're ultimately collecting 400 percent annual interest."
On Wednesday's CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith lamented Republican opposition to the Democrats' financial reform legislation: "The Senate is expected to vote for a third time on financial reform.Republicans blocked the previous two attempts. President Obama says he can't understand why, and plans to make his case once again later today."
In the report that followed, White House correspondent Chip Reid described the Democratic strategy against Republicans:
Of course, both parties have accepted millions of dollars in political contributions from Wall Street over the years. But now Democrats are doing everything in their power to portray Republicans as the party of Wall Street. It's an argument the President believes is especially effective here in the heartland. President Obama was back where it all started, Iowa, this time denouncing Senate Republicans for blocking debate on financial reform.
A headline on screen read: "Presidential Push; Obama Takes on GOP on Financial Reform."
Shortly before 11 a.m. this morning, a sympathetic Monica Novotny interviewed anti-obesity activist Meme Roth about a new law in Santa Clara County, California, banning the distribution of free toys in kids meals at fast food restaurants.
That's right, the food police have a warrant out for Ronald McDonald.
But rather than include a voice of dissent to challenge Roth on the government-expanding, free enterprise-attacking nature of the law, Novotny tried to tinker around the edges, wondering if it might be better to encourage restaurants to put free toys in healthier kids meal options. [full interview embedded at right, click here for MP3 audio]
Roth dismissed that notion as a "bribe" to get kids to adopt healthier eating habits, although she also absurdly argued that:
Hitting from the left in an interview with Republican Senator John McCain on Tuesday's CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith worried about the ability of financial reform legislation to expand government control over Wall Street: "How are you going to dis – how does any of this dismantle these giant financial institutions?"
On April 22, ABC Good Morning America co-host George Stephanopoulos asked Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner a similar question: "Why shouldn't those big banks be broken up?"
At the top of Tuesday's Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez put the GOP on the defensive: "Democrats continue to push for Wall Street reform. But are Republicans on board?" Smith later introduced the segment by portraying Democrats as fighting for reform: "Democrats refuse to give up on reforming Wall Street. Yesterday Republicans put the brakes on, but another vote could happen today."
In a report that followed, correspondent Nancy Cordes declared: "Senate Republicans voted last night against moving forward with debate on the massive financial reform bill. That drew angry recriminations from Democrats." A clip was played of Democratic Virginia Senator Mark Warner slamming Republican opposition: "I never got the memo that said our job wasn't actually to get stuff done."