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Wonkbook: Jobs bill fails; BP puts up $20 bill; Legislators own millions in oil and gas stock

bpprotesters.jpg

With unemployment still hovering near 10 percent, the jobs bill being considered in the Senate failed a key vote, and Senate Democrats are paring it back to with passage. Meanwhile, BP executives met with Obama and agreed to a $20 billion escrow fund to pay for the Gulf cleanup, to be run by "pay czar" Kenneth Feinberg. And House and Senate members charged with oil and gas oversight hold millions in personal investments in the oil and gas industries.

May's inflation numbers come out today, and BP's Tony Hayward will testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee's Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee. It's Thursday. Welcome to Wonkbook.

Top Stories

The jobs bill will be pared back by billions after losing a dozen Democrats in a key vote, reports David Rogers: "The spending reductions - estimated near $20 billion - are accompanied by tax changes tailored to the small-business concerns of Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) as well as venture capital and real estate interests with influence in both parties."

BP will provide $20 billion for an independently-run cleanup fund: http://bit.ly/ds2BxT

The fund's head, "pay czar" Kenneth Feinberg, has plenty of experience with funds like this, reports Ed O'Keefe: "Compelled by the 9/11 terrorist attacks, he volunteered to oversee the victims compensation fund established by Congress, embarking on a 33-month effort that included public forums and one-on-one meetings with victims' families. He led a similar effort in 2007, following the Virginia Tech shootings and for the past year has served as the Obama administration's 'Special Master for Compensation' (or 'pay czar'), tasked with capping the salaries of executives at automobile companies and banks earning financial support from the government bailout."

The absence of a mention of a carbon cap in Obama's speech is hurting its Senate prospects: http://politi.co/bDk5Zn

Congressmen and Senators charged with oil and gas oversight hold millions in stock in oil and gas companies, report Paul Kane and Karen Yourish: "Nearly 30 members of the congressional committees overseeing oil and gas companies held personal assets in the industry totaling $9 million to $14.5 million late last year. That included at least $400,000 in the three companies at the heart of the Gulf of Mexico oil-drilling disaster, according to a Washington Post analysis of financial disclosure forms released Wednesday."

Scandinavian pop interlude: Robyn covers Alicia Keys' "Try Sleeping With a Broken Heart".

To come: In energy news, BP's second containment effort is starting up; in economic news, David Broder thinks Obama should stop worrying about BP and start worrying about the deficit; in domestic policy, liberal opposition to the compromised DISCLOSURE Act is growing; and in FinReg, the conference committee has reached a deal on credit rating agencies.

Energy

BP's second oil collection system is up and running, report Susan Daker and Jeffrey Sparshott: "BP PLC put a second containment vessel into operation Wednesday, a long-awaited move that the company says will allow for the increased collection of oil from the Gulf of Mexico spill. The use of the Q4000 ship had been stalled by at least a day, adding to ongoing concerns about BP's ability to contain a growing spill that is causing environmental and economic damage along the U.S. Gulf Coast."

BP's chairman says they "care about the small people": http://bit.ly/amYCQo

Obama's Gulf cleanup plan is short on details, reports Juliet Eilperin: "The White House has not even begun to contemplate questions such as how to restore the 2,300 square miles of wetlands that have vanished over the past century. When asked for details about the new plan, White House spokesman Ben LaBolt said it would include 'a comprehensive assessment of post-spill recovery needs, as well as a plan to provide integrated federal assistance for longer-term restoration and recovery.'"

Scott Brown has ruled out supporting a price on carbon, reports Alexander Bolton: "Climate change legislation appears dead after two setbacks in quick succession - first from the Oval Office and then from Congress. Sen. Scott Brown (Mass.), a crucial Republican swing vote, met with President Barack Obama on Wednesday and told him he would not support a cap-and-trade plan or carbon fee to limit greenhouse gas emissions."

Bibliophile interlude: A blog of bookshelf photos.

Economy

David Broder thinks Obama should stop focusing on the oil spill and start focusing on the deficit: "By dramatizing his belief that the struggle in the gulf has become his main preoccupation, Obama has essentially ignored challenges that may be much more vital to the country -- and to him.…Obama seems focused on the relatively insignificant. With the administration and Congress whipsawed between those calling for more government-financed stimulus and those warning of deficits soaring out of control, the president has weighed in belatedly on the side of more stimulus spending."

As housing falters, the US industrial sector is gaining ground: http://bit.ly/9L4Kca

European leaders ignored US and IMF warnings before this year's crisis, report Howard Schneider and Anthony Faiola: "The U.S. government and the International Monetary Fund warned European officials as early as February that escalating financial problems on their continent had to be addressed quickly to forestall a larger threat to the world economy, but those urgings were discounted, according to participants in the private discussions. By the time European officials acted several months later -- prompted by a near-meltdown in Greece and gathering chaos in other countries -- the price tag for stemming the financial contagion had soared."

The dollar is falling as fears about the global recovery subside: http://bit.ly/a4VPMx

EJ Dionne wishes Democrats would stick up for themselves on economic issues: "They lost it on a stimulus bill that clearly lifted the economy, as Alan Blinder, a former vice chairman of the Federal Reserve, argued persuasively in Wednesday's Wall Street Journal. They are losing it on the health-care bill, a big improvement on the current system enacted through a process that made it look like a tar ball on an Alabama beach. They are losing it on the deficit even though it was Republicans who cut taxes twice while the Bush administration was starting two wars."

Rise of Skynet interlude: Watson, IBM's trivia-answering computer.

Domestic Policy

Liberal groups are uniting in opposition to the NRA-exempting version of the DISCLOSURE Act, reports Dan Eggen: "In a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the Alliance for Justice, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and 43 other groups decried an exemption 'which, given the amendment's language, in reality only applies to one entity, the National Rifle Association.' 'It is inappropriate and inequitable to create a two-tiered system of campaign finance laws and First Amendment protections, one for the most powerful and influential and another for everyone else,' the letter says."

The US has done little before this year to cut health-care spending growth: http://bit.ly/cR5lkc

The Department of Education is delaying its rules on for-profit colleges, reports Tamar Lewin: "While a package of proposed new student-aid regulations was released Tuesday, a department official said no decision had been reached about what debt-to-income ratio would make for-profit programs ineligible for federal aid. 'This is about accountability, and protecting students,”'said Education Secretary Arne Duncan. 'We have many areas of agreement where we can move forward. But some key issues around gainful employment are complicated, and we want to get it right so we will be coming back with that shortly.'"

David Wessel thinks we need to reexamine the role of home ownership in American life: "The U.S. has long seen home ownership as an unquestioned virtue, dating to a 1918 government 'Own Your Own Home' campaign. Herbert Hoover, Franklin Roosevelt, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush all talked as if owning a home was the only way to join the middle class. Not only did it promote social stability-recall Mr. Bush's 'ownership society'-and build well-maintained neighborhoods, home ownership became a hedge against inflation and a way to save for retirement. Until it didn't."

Online publishers are fighting proposed federal privacy rules that could seriously hurt the online ad market: http://politi.co/9e0Ew6

Cleta Mitchell argues the DISCLOSURE Act favors certain types of speech: "In Citizens United, the court held that the First Amendment doesn't permit Congress to treat different corporations differently; that the protections afforded political speech arise from the Constitution, not Congress. Otherwise, it would be tantamount to a congressional power to license the speech of some while denying it to others. The NRA carve-out is a clear example of a congressional speech license."

Congressmen Chris van Hollen and Mike Castle respond that it's about transparency: http://bit.ly/9SeyDC

Still the same ol' G interlude: "Under Pressure", Dr. Dre's first new single in nine years.

FinReg

FinReg conference committee has reached an agreement on rating agency regulation, reports Fawn Johnson: "House and Senate lawmakers have agreed to a liability standard for credit-rating firms, saying that investors can sue them if their views of financial products are deemed 'grossly negligent.' But negotiators on a broad financial-overhaul bill dropped a broader liability standard that the ratings firms had deemed problematic.…The liability standard is a win for credit-rating agencies, which had protested against the Senate's liability provision, fearing that it would increase their chances of being sued. Senate lawmakers agreed to accept the House version."

Republicans are pushing to let the Treasury overrule state financial regulations, reports Chris Frates: "Some suggest that giving the federal government authority to pre-empt state laws would make it easier for the financial industry to concentrate its lobbying power in Washington, instead of having to work in 50 state capitals. The industry, meanwhile, is urging conferees to use the Senate’s version - saying it would give the federal government only the ability to negotiate international agreements, something states don’t have authority to do."

Business and labor are concerned FinReg could put swaps out of business: http://politi.co/d6Nv4Z

All told, Wall Street has given $112 million to members of the FinReg conference committee, reports Chris Frates: "The 43 lawmakers negotiating the final version of the Wall Street reform bill have collected more than $112 million from the finance, insurance and real estate sectors during the past 20 years. And the financial services sector gave a total of $695 million during the same period, according to a new report by the Center for Responsive Politics, a campaign finance watchdog group. The conference committee members make up just 8 percent of Congress, but their slice of campaign cash accounted for 16 percent of the total amount given to lawmakers by financial services companies, the report said."

Ben Bernanke is happy with the pace of progress on FinReg: http://bit.ly/c3T7f8

Dick Durbin is fighting to keep swipe fee limits in FinReg, reports Silla Brush: "Ever since his seven-page amendment passed on a 64-33 vote, Durbin has pushed back hard on lobbying efforts to weaken the provision or remove it entirely. He has sent letters calling out lobbyists for misrepresenting his legislation. At a hearing last week on antitrust concerns, Durbin took aim at Visa and MasterCard, the payment networks that set fee rates. On Wednesday, Durbin called a hearing of his Senate Appropriations subcommittee on financial services to look into the impact of the fees on the federal government."

A former mortgage lending executive is being criminally charged in a bank's downfall: http://bit.ly/bxCVHS

Closing credits: Wonkbook compiled with the help of Dylan Matthews and Mike Shepard. Photo credit: Haraz N. Ghanbari-AP.

By Ezra Klein  |  June 17, 2010; 6:43 AM ET
Categories:  Wonkbook  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Reconciliation
Next: Research desk responds: Tax rates galore!

Comments

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Posted by: kenmark16 | June 17, 2010 6:59 AM | Report abuse

- I gave Obama heat for many things, so now I give him his due on the $20 billion BP fund. No Republican would have gotten this concession from a corporation. I doubt though we'll get any more money from BP after this.

- Broder has the audacity to suggest Obama is fixated on the oil gusher, though everyone else in the country thinks Obama lacks any sense of urgency. If Broder really wanted a leader who is multi-tasking on various important issues, then it appears Obama is his man. Yet Broder finds nothing but disdain and off-target criticism so proves he is senile or overwhelmed with hatred of Obama.

Posted by: Lomillialor | June 17, 2010 7:23 AM | Report abuse

"Obama's Gulf cleanup plan is short on details, reports Juliet Eilperin: "The White House has not even begun to contemplate questions such as how to restore the 2,300 square miles of wetlands that have vanished over the past century. When asked for details about the new plan, White House spokesman Ben LaBolt said it would include 'a comprehensive assessment of post-spill recovery needs, as well as a plan to provide integrated federal assistance for longer-term restoration and recovery.'"

what would you expect???
we are still in the midst of the catastrophe.
we have no idea what the full extent of the damage will be, and this is unprecedented, in such a sensitive and populated area.
everyone wants details and answers, but i dont think they can be formulated yet.
it is hard to be patient in the midst of this horror, but i dont think it is humanly possible to tell how you are going to fix something that is still in the process of breaking.

Posted by: jkaren | June 17, 2010 7:24 AM | Report abuse

So "Under Pressure" didn't grab me a ton, but it could probably grow on me. It's no "Still D.R.E." or "Bang Bang".

Also, I really hope BP is referring to their continuing support for midget rights groups. Otherwise you'd have to wonder how something so stupid escaped from their mouths.

Posted by: MosBen | June 17, 2010 7:30 AM | Report abuse

EZRA,

PLEASE STOP USING THE WORD SPILL AND START USING "GUSHER" INSTEAD.

When you splash milk on the kitchen floor it is a spill.

When you slosh oil out of a tank, it is a spill.

When multiple 10,000s of crude oil GUSH endlessly from a well, it is a GUSHER, not s spill.

Any writer who repeatedly uses the word spill to describe what's going on is either beholding to oil advertisement revenues or needs to go back to "writing 101" to be reminded that words have specific meanings and should be used appropriately.

If a Nascar pit crewman were to make the same mistake you are making, he would use a pair of vice grips to remove lugnuts instead of an air wrench.

Knock, knock, anybody home? Hello, Earth to Ezra. Do you understand the words coming out of my mouth?

Posted by: Lomillialor | June 17, 2010 7:33 AM | Report abuse

1. cap-and-dividend?
2. what type of energy bill could get through by reconciliation? didn't you blog this at some point in the past few months? i'll google it now.
3. put focus back on HEALTHCARE (ELDERCARE)

Posted by: jackjudge4000yahoocom | June 17, 2010 8:24 AM | Report abuse

Congressmen and Senators charged with HEALTH CARE oversight hold millions in stock in HEALTH CARE companies! Why is that O.K.?

Posted by: obrier2 | June 17, 2010 8:53 AM | Report abuse

"The U.S. has long seen home ownership as an unquestioned virtue"

I think home ownership is a virtue. Too bad 90% of homes are actually owned by the banks holding the mortgages and never the people who are living in them.

Currently, people simply rent their homes through an abstruse practice of deciding which bank will initially own the home and rent it to them, until they move again and another bank rents them a house through this think called a "mortgage". It's really rent-to-own, and most people never actually stay in one place long enough to own the property.

Home ownership of the kind that demonstrates a fiscal discipline to stay in one place and pay it off is a virtue. It provides security in bad times (because, aside from maintenance, insurance and taxes, your home doesn't represent a huge costs and, unless used as collateral for additional spending, you are unlikely to lose your home). It does provide collateral for business loans (although this mitigates the inherent security of a truly "owned" home). It also liberates cash in the monthly budget for other things, such as remodeling, car purchases, vacations, etc.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | June 17, 2010 9:08 AM | Report abuse

@Lom: Ezra has referred to it as a "catastrophic spill". And oil spill describes what it is accurately, even if there is an emotional minimization to some by using the word "spill" rather than "explosive death-gusher of doom".

I doubt Ezra is a shill for big oil.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | June 17, 2010 9:16 AM | Report abuse

The section at the end of Obama's speech that referred to prayer has drawn a lot of criticism from pundits, so I thought this anecdote from one of Andrew Sullivan's readers along the Louisiana Coast provides an interesting alternative response:

"For whatever it's worth, I'm a native of and currently live in Louisiana, about 20 miles outside of New Orleans. My dad is a Cajun river rat in the truest sense, born and raised in Southeastern Louisiana. His father's native language is Cajun French -- literally, he had to learn English as a boy. My dad has never fished commercially, but it defines his out-of-work, weekend persona -- it dominates his spare time. He often talks about a dream life living in a shack somewhere out in the marsh, fishing all day. He's a product of the cultural fabric of southeastern Louisiana.

My dad comes home from work these days depressed about the oil spill. He thinks about it all damn day, and, like many here, he has no shortage of outrage at everyone involved in this mess.

When Obama pivoted to his remarks about "The Blessing of the Fleet," my dad started crying.

He's not someone who is going to give you a nuanced opinion about politics or policy -- in fact, he's relatively apolitical -- but he knows what he knows.

Maureen Dowd can talk all she wants about these amorphous, nebulous standards like a "Clint Eastwood moment" or whatever, and Anderson Cooper is free to think he knows the people here better than anyone because he's been here for a few weeks, but Obama connected with my dad last night -- of that I can be sure. And trust me, my dad isn't exactly a pushover."

Posted by: Patrick_M | June 17, 2010 9:17 AM | Report abuse

patrick-m

thank you for sharing that.

i feel very upset that journalists and commentators are finding fault with the president obama is emotionally relating to this crisis.
there is a lot to find fault with at this moment, but prayer is not one of them.
my closest friends are of all faiths...many are just deeply spiritual people. but we are all praying right now.
at this moment, neither money, votes in congress, legislation or technology is able to fix this problem.
perhaps others like it, and the next crisis....but as of this moment, it does not seem like much can be done.
and that is when people of faith and spiritual nature, turn to prayer.
president obama was saying that the future is uncertain, but there will be one. we may not know what it will look like, but we will have courage when we arrive there.
what is wrong with saying that???????
it is the absolute truth.
everytime i hear the president assaulted for his humility and deep uncertainty at this moment, i becomes more and more upset.
maybe people want him running around, and screaming that we need to "do something..." like james carville and bobby jindal. but president obama sees exactly where we are right now, and he was treating the american people like grown-ups in that speech.
but like three year olds....some want simple answers.
well, sometimes, there are no perfect plans and simple answers...and those who are grown-up, already understand that, and appreciated the sanity and sanctity of his words.

Posted by: jkaren | June 17, 2010 10:00 AM | Report abuse

and at least the tea party people should be happy.

president obama is looking for faith based solutions.
and at this exact moment, that may be what we have.

Posted by: jkaren | June 17, 2010 10:04 AM | Report abuse

and as for maureen dowd,
president obama's entire time in the campaign, and as president, has been one, long "clint eastwood" moment.


maybe some people just dont recognize the face of true grit and courage, in real life....

Posted by: jkaren | June 17, 2010 10:10 AM | Report abuse

The forever classy former half-term governor Sarah Palin has managed to arrange a photo op with Lady Margaret Thatcher on an upcoming trip to the UK (a photo sure to send a thrill up Kevin_Willis' leg). Ms. Thatcher, who will be 80 years old this year, suffers from dementia. As described by Thatcher's daughter almost two years ago: "On bad days, she could hardly remember the beginning of a sentence by the time she got to the end." This photo op with "The Iron Lady" was arranged before making any appointments to see any UK government officials currently in office.

British journaliist Claire Berlinski touches on the differences between the energy and intellect of these two politicians:

"If Palin hopes to style herself as the second coming she has a few things to learn. She might wish to study Thatcher's disciplined command of arguments, facts and statistics, for instance. By the time Thatcher was elected, she'd enjoyed a 20-year parliamentary career. Her clearly expressed views – clearly expressed, I stress – about every crisis, problem and debate of concern to Britain were a matter of public record. Palin has neither said nor written a line so far that would allow anyone reasonably to conclude that her opinions about economic and foreign policy are as cogent and informed as Thatcher's. No one (not me, anyway) can argue with her conservative instincts, but to compare her ability to express them with Thatcher's would be ludicrous.

This ability allowed Thatcher to dominate in unscripted interviews. When interrogated by hostile journalists she left them speechless and stuttering. She regularly ate Neil Kinnock for lunch during prime minister's questions. Her eidetic command of inflation statistics verged on the weird, suggesting the obsessive aspect of men who routinely memorise train schedules."


http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2010/jun/15/sarah-palin-meets-margaret-thatcher

Posted by: Patrick_M | June 17, 2010 10:17 AM | Report abuse

jkaren,

Jon Stewart pointed out last night that a Fox News commentator (Gretchen Carlson) had crticized Obama on Monday for not going to chuch on Sunday to seek "divine intervention" for the leak, and yet the same person then criticized Obama the morning after the speech for turning to the topic of prayer at the conclusion of the speech.

I suspect that the speech worked a lot better for the citizenry than it did for the talking heads.

Posted by: Patrick_M | June 17, 2010 10:25 AM | Report abuse

Correction to my Palin-Thatcher comment:

I believe Lady Thatcher turns 85 years old (not 80) later this year.

Posted by: Patrick_M | June 17, 2010 10:30 AM | Report abuse

@Patrick_M: "a photo sure to send a thrill up Kevin_Willis' leg"

It was more of an electric tingle. Punctuated by a long sigh of deep pleasure.

Otherwise, yes. As I may have noted before, my deep affection for Sarah Palin does not translate into a belief that she'd be a great candidate, or actually win an election.

"I suspect that the speech worked a lot better for the citizenry than it did for the talking heads."

I listened to most of it, and what I heard did not strike me as any more objectionable than anything any other president has speechified about in times of crisis. Also, what I heard after the speech, in terms of analysis, struck me as a lot more objectionable than anything in Obama's speech.

I am more prone to be sympathetic to Obama and his efforts, after listening to a bunch of talking heads jockey for who can be loudest and most clever and acid in their criticism.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | June 17, 2010 10:35 AM | Report abuse

"As I may have noted before, my deep affection for Sarah Palin does not translate into a belief that she'd be a great candidate, or actually win an election."

Yes, you have noted that before, more than once. But you have also compared the two, describing Ms. Palin as some sort of "backwoods Maggie Thatcher."

I don't think the two women could be any more different, and I think the pre-dementia Margaret Thatcher would be deeply alarmed by the emergence of a feather-weight phony like Palin as the chief spokesperson for the American conservative movement.

Thatcher's political philosophy was 180 degrees away from mine, but I have always had immense respect for Thatcher's devotion to public service, her discipline, and her amazing intellect. She was truly one of the most formidable and impressive political leaders of the 20th Century. Lady Thatcher was as deep as Ms. Palin is shallow.

For that reason I find it sad and offensive that Palin is intruding upon Ms. Thatcher's privacy at this time, to gin up her image and celebrity status yet another notch. I wonder if Sarah will work little Trig into this photo op too.

Posted by: Patrick_M | June 17, 2010 12:05 PM | Report abuse

This President and the American People have received NO HELP from this DO NOTHING Congress. Legislation is put forth to help unemployed Americans and they vote it down. ANYTHING to do with helping PEOPLE is a waste of time and money but, oh yeah, bail out the banks, suck up to Big Oil (in whose pocket most of them are) and all systems are "Go"! You have the regressive Republicans speechifying in Congress about "disrespecting" those responsible for the worst man-made catastrophe in the history of the World, but, Heaven fore-fend, we MUST NOT hold them accountable! ??? Governor Barbour wants them to CONTINUE their murderous occupation and pollution of the Gulf, to WHAT end? They have ALL gone through the Looking Glass and are controlled by the Mad Hatters and "tea party" nut jobs who have them terrified of losing their precious seats. Trust me, it is NOT the "tea party" dolts they should be worrying about come November 2010, it is US, as in in U.S.(Unbelievably Sick) of self-interested Politicians.

Posted by: billnbillieskid | June 17, 2010 12:54 PM | Report abuse

kevin and Ezra

When an out of control oil well is gushing the equivalent of an exxon valdez every few days, that is NOT a catastrophic spill. It is a catastrophic gusher. It is an oil volcano. It is an oil eruption. But it is not a spill, not matter which adverb you put in front of it.

Please get it right from now on, because after all, you use the word spill quite often with no adverb at all. Thus the word has to stand on its own without adverbs.

But I am happy to have gotten Kevin to finally defend Ezra on something.

Posted by: Lomillialor | June 17, 2010 3:20 PM | Report abuse

@Patrick: "Yes, you have noted that before, more than once. But you have also compared the two, describing Ms. Palin as some sort of 'backwoods Maggie Thatcher.'"

And I think that's fair. The operative term being "backwoods".

"Thatcher's political philosophy was 180 degrees away from mine, but I have always had immense respect for Thatcher's devotion to public service, her discipline, and her amazing intellect. She was truly one of the most formidable and impressive political leaders of the 20th Century. Lady Thatcher was as deep as Ms. Palin is shallow."

While there is some truth to that, I've found such praise for right-wingers only comes when they are well-retired, or passed on. And even then, there are plenty of critics that make Thatcher to out to be either a robotic fascist or a sock puppet for the wealthy.

However, I'm glad you appreciate some of Thatcher's many positives. I understand your position on Palin. I just don't agree.

If I was Palin, and could work in a chance to meet Margaret Thatcher, I'd do it in a heartbeat. If could have met Ronald Reagan (or, for that matter, Walt Disney or J. R. R. Tolkien, I'd definitely have done that, too).

Given Palin's drive to market herself constantly, the photo-op makes sense. Cynical, perhaps, but I don't doubt for a minute Palin would love to meet Margaret Thatcher.

Still, I doubt Thatcher is being sand-bagged, or that her people are so incompetent that they'd allow anybody to exploit Maggie unduly.

@Lom: "But I am happy to have gotten Kevin to finally defend Ezra on something."

Speaking of getting things right, I think you might have confused me with someone else. I've "defended" Ezra several times. I love the blog. I have a great deal of respect for Mr. Klein. I think the people who accuse him of being a shill, or call him names, or rag him about his youth, etc (someone named "Mary" comes to mind) are incorrect, and I say so.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | June 17, 2010 3:44 PM | Report abuse

"Given Palin's drive to market herself constantly, the photo-op makes sense. Cynical, perhaps, but I don't doubt for a minute Palin would love to meet Margaret Thatcher."

If Katie Couric had asked Palin to describe what she admired about Margaret Thatcher, Palin would have replied with a blank stare, because she would not have been able to place the name.

"While there is some truth to that, I've found such praise for right-wingers only comes when they are well-retired, or passed on. And even then, there are plenty of critics that make Thatcher to out to be either a robotic fascist or a sock puppet for the wealthy."

Well, you may find that to be the case, but don't lump me in to that crowd in your head. During the Reagan administration, I constantly admired how much more articulate and sharp-witted Thatcher was in comparison to our own President. Maggie (in her prime) has always been on the short list of people with whom I would love to have a dinner conversation (as intimidating as she might be ... I am sure she would have mopped the floor with me in any political discussion). And I also think American political discourse today would greatly benefit from having political leaders on both sides of the aisle with even half the same caliber of intellect, character, and devotion to public service as Mrs. Thatcher had.

"And I think that's fair. The operative term being "backwoods"."

Yes, Palin is "backwoods," and Palin pays lip service to a few broad conservative principles. But what philosophical, intellectual, and character traits she actually has in common with Lady Thatcher (which make Palin the "backwoods Thatcher" in your eyes) you still have not shared with us.

"Still, I doubt Thatcher is being sand-bagged, or that her people are so incompetent that they'd allow anybody to exploit Maggie unduly."

An 85 year old with dementia is not "unduly" having her dignity exploited by being used for a Palin photo op, eh? We shall agree to disagree on that one, Kevin.

"If could have met Ronald Reagan (or, for that matter, Walt Disney or J. R. R. Tolkien, I'd definitely have done that, too)."

Yes, but I am willing to bet that you would not have aimed to get a publicity photo taken of yourself with Reagan while he was a recluse suffering from Alzheimer's. Palin? Not so much.

Enjoy whatever "tingle" the eventual photo may provide to you, Kevin. For me, the shamelessness of this newest Palin episode just makes me cringe.

Posted by: Patrick_M | June 17, 2010 4:56 PM | Report abuse

Congressmen and Senators charged with oil and gas oversight hold millions in stock in oil and gas companies, report Paul Kane and Karen Yourish: "Nearly 30 members of the congressional committees overseeing oil and gas companies held personal assets in the industry totaling $9 million to $14.5 million late last year. That included at least $400,000 in the three companies at the heart of the Gulf of Mexico oil-drilling disaster, according to a Washington Post analysis of financial disclosure forms released Wednesday."

Please tell me that these MOC are breaking some ethics rules of Congress.... please?

Posted by: terryh1 | June 17, 2010 10:31 PM | Report abuse

Congressmen and Senators charged with oil and gas oversight hold millions in stock in oil and gas companies, report Paul Kane and Karen Yourish: "Nearly 30 members of the congressional committees overseeing oil and gas companies held personal assets in the industry totaling $9 million to $14.5 million late last year. That included at least $400,000 in the three companies at the heart of the Gulf of Mexico oil-drilling disaster, according to a Washington Post analysis of financial disclosure forms released Wednesday."

Please tell me that these MOC are breaking some ethics rules of Congress.... please?

Posted by: terryh1 | June 17, 2010 10:31 PM | Report abuse

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