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The Morning Plum

* Remarkable. On Meet the Press, NRSC chair John Cornyn refused to say whether it's appropriate that Rand Paul believes the Federal government shouldn't have the power to ban discrimination:

DAVID GREGORY: His view is that private businesses should not be subject to a government mandate even about discrimination. Is that something you agree with or do you think that's beyond the pale of, of mainstream conservative views?

CORNYN: Well, David, what I heard him say is he supports the Civil Rights Act. He clarified his views, and I think that should be the end of it.

Also: No denial that this is, in fact, what Paul believes.

* Seven days later, Richard Blumenthal finally gets around to apologizing:

"At times when I have sought to honor veterans, I have not been as clear or precise as I should have been about my service in the Marine Corps Reserves. I have firmly and clearly expressed regret and taken responsibility for my words. I have made mistakes and I am sorry. I truly regret offending anyone."

* Historical comparison of the day, from Colbert King, on Rand Paul's beliefs:

Paul's opposition to the federal prohibition against racial discrimination by privately owned facilities offering food, lodging, gasoline or entertainment to the public puts him, intellectually, in the same place as Lester Maddox who, on July 3, 1964, armed his white customers with pick handles to use against three black customers who sought service at his Pickrick Cafeteria in Atlanta.

* Conservative elite opinionmakers start breaking with Rand Paul as George Will gives him a bracing history lesson.

* And even the Wall Street Journal editorial page is now trashing Rand's history as all wrong.

* Joe Sestak is again floating the claim that the White House offered him a job to bail on the Senate primary, but still won't say what gig it was.

* Robert Gibbs acknowledges conversations with Sestak, but won't go into detail and insists they were not "inappropriate."

* Peter Daou indicts us all for responding to the Gulf spill with "a big yawn."

* But Digby asks the question: What if no one can fix it?

* Sweating the "Obama's Katrina" meme? Gibbs makes perhaps the most direct White House comparison yet between Katrina and Obama's handling of the spill.

* By the way, it is not remotely surprising that Sarah Palin is criticizing Obama's spill response.

* Michael Schear suggests that Obama may finally be seizing on the spill to get serious about rallying for energy reform.

* Spencer Ackerman deftly skewers claims that Obama is a foreign policy "declinist."

* And a housekeeping note: If you're still having trouble with this blog's RSS feed, please try unsubscribing and resubscribing to this feed.

What else is happening?

By Greg Sargent  |  May 24, 2010; 8:23 AM ET
Categories:  2010 elections , Climate change , Foreign policy and national security , Morning Plum , Senate Dems , Senate Republicans  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Sunday Roundup
Next: Rand Paul: Deport terrorists to Afghanistan


" Also: No denial that this is, in fact, what Paul believes. "

Wrong, Cornyn pointed him to Rand Paul's clarification which said (including his Good Morning America appearance) that due to the unusual, government sponsored discrimination in the south the government needed to step into that situation, on race. His other comments had been on the reach of government generally. Putting that issue into the context of race was all the interviewers who demanded it be framed there, despite the unusual circumstances of racism in the south, which don't equate to other governmental power issues.

Rand Paul's views are being misrepresented across the media, and as one paper after another is being forced to print retractions (the latest I saw was the Chicago Tribune) you might want to be a bit more careful about being a part of this feeding frenzy.

Posted by: sailingaway1 | May 24, 2010 8:43 AM | Report abuse

I suspect Gigot wrote that WSJ editorial as he used the same "seminar" formulation in a televised panel discussion yesterday. No surprise to see these guys (and Will...and there'll be others) trying to differentiate from Paul. Limbaugh has a particularly tricky dance to do given his audience but he'll do it and soon.

It's a delicious dilemma (for us). "Government bad" is the reigning narrative from the right and what Paul has now inadvertently underlined is a classic American example of how government is good. And he's done it on an issue that has deep racial undercurrents which, as Parker noted yesterday, is the very last thing Republicans want right now - cause for the Dem base (particularly blacks) to get energized.

And Paul can't move too far in the RNC-desired direction of shutting up and minimizing or violating his own principles as THAT is a central self-identifier of his movement.

Posted by: bernielatham | May 24, 2010 8:53 AM | Report abuse

Re the spill/gusher and Daou/Digby... I bumped into both pieces yesterday.

Nobody want this to have happened nor for it to continue. The industry sure as hell doesn't want it and it seems certain to me that the most qualified engineers for this situation are to be found in the industry itself. It's in the interests of BP and all other petroleum industry entities to push whatever expertise they have to help out.

It's sure as hell not in Obama's interests for it to continue and I don't buy the notion that the WH has failed to reach into the non-petroleum engineering community for help.

I think Digby has it right... we just don't know how to handle this.

Posted by: bernielatham | May 24, 2010 9:04 AM | Report abuse

Hard to believe Bobby Jindal and Rand Paul are in the same party.

This from Americablog this morning:

These Republicans make me laugh. And here I thought all government was evil and all links had to be cut so business can be unleashed from the shackles of government tyranny. And threats of legal action? Isn't that what liberals do? Doesn't that drive up costs? Which is it, Bobby? Is government evil or can it be used as a force for good? Sounds like he's your run of the mill fraud and opportunist:

Louisiana state and local officials continued to hammer BP and the federal agencies responding to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill on Sunday, repeatedly threatening to “take matters into our own hands” if the response fell short.

At a news conference at a marina here, Gov. Bobby Jindal recited a timeline of his requests to BP and the Coast Guard for containment boom, skimmers and other supplies, saying that the resources were still far from adequate weeks later.

Posted by: Andy94 | May 24, 2010 9:08 AM | Report abuse

And re Palin. No surprise she'd voice criticism of Obama on the spill. But I did find myself surprised with the narrative her handlers decided to have her push... that Obama's response and his weakness re BP are a consequence of the Dem party's tight relationship to BP and the petroleum industry. Some 'big lies' are (please, jesus) too big to be workable.

Posted by: bernielatham | May 24, 2010 9:11 AM | Report abuse

I wonder how long this story will stay below the radar? From Americablog:

This is the a very, very big week in the effort to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell. The House of Representatives should vote on repeal language as an amendment to the 2011 Defense authorization bill. Rep. Patrick Murphy is leading the effort in the House. The Senate Armed Services Committee will be marking up its version of that authorization bill and will vote to include the repeal language. Senator Carl Levin, Chairman of Armed Services, and Senator Lieberman, are the key players on the Committee.

Posted by: Andy94 | May 24, 2010 9:12 AM | Report abuse

Must read Krugman...

"Corporate America, however, really, truly hates the current administration. Wall Street, for example, is in “a state of bitter, seething, hysterical fury” toward the president, writes John Heilemann of New York magazine. What’s going on?"

Posted by: bernielatham | May 24, 2010 9:14 AM | Report abuse

Douthat's column this morning is well worth reading. Included is this sentence...

"The problem is that paleoconservatives are self-marginalizing, and self-destructive."

I think that's exactly right. What I think Douthat is a bit deluded about is to assume (if he does) that the Paul types are the only element of the modern coalition who are self-marginalizing and self-destructive.

Posted by: bernielatham | May 24, 2010 9:23 AM | Report abuse

You beat me to the Krugman piece Bernie, but here's another part I found interesting in light of Palin's claims of a connection between Obama and BP. I do think they've relied too heavily on BP to solve the problem and need to move away from that sphere to find experts from other countries with experience in this type of deep water drilling. Apparently there's no one in the entire US that knows how to fix it.

"Look, for example, at the campaign contributions of commercial banks — traditionally Republican-leaning, but only mildly so. So far this year, according to The Washington Post, 63 percent of spending by banks’ corporate PACs has gone to Republicans, up from 53 percent last year. Securities and investment firms, traditionally Democratic-leaning, are now giving more money to Republicans. And oil and gas companies, always Republican-leaning, have gone all out, bestowing 76 percent of their largess on the G.O.P."

Posted by: lmsinca | May 24, 2010 9:23 AM | Report abuse

I like Gibbs response to Palin:

"My suggestion to Sarah Palin would be to get slightly more informed as to what's going on in and around oil drilling in this country," he added.;morenews

Posted by: Andy94 | May 24, 2010 9:27 AM | Report abuse

Ims - There will be good reporting, at some point soon one hopes, on the actions taken by industry and government on stopping the oil flow into the Gulf. My guess is that the corporations like BP have much better communications with and access to engineers in any other nation than does government as these corporations are meta-national.

Posted by: bernielatham | May 24, 2010 9:35 AM | Report abuse

"* Joe Sestak is again floating the claim that the White House offered him a job to bail on the Senate primary, but still won't say what gig it was."


So what? There is no there there in this topic.

It is no secret that The White House made a deal to back Arlen, if he would switch and become a Senator. They needed his vote.

How the hell is offering Sestak a position in the administration much different that persuading Rahm Emanuel to leave congress, to take a position in the White House, or, for that matter, doing the same thing with Republican Senator Judd Gregg. Remember that he actually first accepted the offer.

The White House promised Arlen that if he would help them, they would do all they could to help him, in return.

There was nothing wrong with they offering Sestak an alternative to running against Arlen.

Posted by: Liam-still | May 24, 2010 9:39 AM | Report abuse

Here's a great custom google map of the recent right-wing violence in this country.

Shows where they happened, the severity of the crime, as well as provides links to news stories about the incidents.

Posted by: TheBBQChickenMadness | May 24, 2010 9:39 AM | Report abuse

Morning, Andy. Love that "slightly".

Last week I expressed some empathy for Souder and found I had little company in my softer and girly-side sentiment. The objections raised were valid...these folks have hurt a lot of people in their theocratic and moralistic zeal.

EJ Dionne knew the fellow and voices a much more educated empathy than mine this morning. And then he goes on to address the other side of this equation. It's a really good piece...

Posted by: bernielatham | May 24, 2010 9:40 AM | Report abuse

Unabashed Two Faced Critic Of Obama!!!

Quitter Palin accused President Obama of being in bed with Big Oil.


Posted by: Liam-still | May 24, 2010 9:42 AM | Report abuse

Jeezzzus. AOL is celebrating its silver anniversary. At my age, the distance between AOL and the iPad looks like an afternoon.

Posted by: bernielatham | May 24, 2010 9:43 AM | Report abuse

I predict that Republican Congressman, Mark Souther, will soon join up with Bristol Palin, and charge $30,000.00 per appearance, in a nationwide, Fornicators For Abstinence, tour.

Posted by: Liam-still | May 24, 2010 9:47 AM | Report abuse

Re Guardian piece on Israeli nuke sales pitch to apartheid South Africa (three sizes offered), the Israeli goverment says, "No we didn't"...

Posted by: bernielatham | May 24, 2010 9:50 AM | Report abuse

How Washington is planning to scare off Rand Paul.

They are all going to don David Gregory masks, and watch the little chicken run for cover.

Posted by: Liam-still | May 24, 2010 9:56 AM | Report abuse

One of the CA primaries I've been following is the Winograd/Harman race. Marcy Winograd has covered an awful lot of ground and has a lot of grassroots support. If you're of a mind to get another progressive in the House she's worth a look and a little money. Harman's only at 43% right now so there's a real chance Winograd could pull a Sestak. There's a nice video of the two of them on a panel, Harman was not too please to see Marcy there and has refused to debate her.

"In contrast to Harman, who relies on her wealth, power and name to secure reelection, Winograd is waging an energized grassroots campaign. She travels her district to meet with constituents and engage them in conversation. Her in depth platform, detailed on her website, reveals a preponderance of solutions that address the needs of constituents and the nation as a whole. Through all this, Winograd has taken no corporate donations. Her financial support, though a minuscule fraction of Harman’s, comes from donors in her district and throughout the nation who’ve tired of the incompetence, self-aggrandizement and hubris of those who’ve remained in power – under whose stewardship this nation has declined."

Posted by: lmsinca | May 24, 2010 9:57 AM | Report abuse

For the environmentalists here, there's a lot more to read in this story. If you happen to be a pelican lover, it's depressing. It took us years and years out here in CA to bring the brown pelican back and now when we swim in the ocean near Oceanside, the pelicans are diving into the waves right in front of us in the evening.

"If we find they're not doing what they're supposed to be doing, we'll push them out of the way appropriately," Salazar said.

The White House said the Justice Department has been gathering information about the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Press secretary Robert Gibbs didn't say whether the department has opened a criminal investigation. He would only tell CBS' "Face the Nation" on Sunday that department representatives have been to the Gulf as part of the response to the BP oil leak.

Salazar and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano were to lead a Senate delegation to the region Monday to fly over affected areas.

BP is getting barges and other equipment ready to prepare for a risky procedure midweek that the company hopes will finally halt the gusher.

But the "top kill" maneuver, which shoots heavy mud and then cement into the blown well, has never been tried at 5,000 feet underwater and BP officials caution they are working on a range of backup plans.

Even if it works, the damage has been done."

Posted by: lmsinca | May 24, 2010 10:10 AM | Report abuse

Think Progress and the WSJ (blink) hit Palin's claim/innuendo...

Posted by: bernielatham | May 24, 2010 10:12 AM | Report abuse

The Moment Sarah Palin Killed my Conservatism:

Hat tip, Sully.

Posted by: akaoddjob | May 24, 2010 10:14 AM | Report abuse

@sailingaway Sorry but your post just doesn't cut it. When are we going to stop shooting the messenger and simply listen to the message. The Republican canard of the "liberal lamestream media" is getting really old, really tiresome, and is ruining actual journalism in this country. Of course Sister Sarah...she of the lamebrain..said Rachel Maddow's interview was "prejudiced" Maddow makes no secret that she is a progressive. She is also very fair in giving anybody a chance to answer a question but not to evade a question. She is no David Gregory.
I watched that interview and the entire 19 minutes was spent trying to get Paul to either confirm or deny that he thought that government had no right to tell private business that they couldn't legally discriminate. He danced, and he bobbed and weaved but finally confessed his true beliefs. Beliefs he had already clearly espoused in previous forums.

This is not complicated although the R's are doing their best to muddy the water.
IMHO Paul is not a racist. The CEO/Pres of the NAACP said the following night on Rachel's show that Paul should not be labeled a racist...however it is CLEAR Ron Paul believes private businesses serving the public should be allowed to discriminate...he clearly doesn't APPROVE of discrimination...but he also doesn't believe it's in the Government's purview to stop it with laws.

The "clarification" claim Cornyn hid behind and that you endorse sailingaway is simply ludicrous. After years and years of FORCEFULLY stating what he believes, then tap dancing for 24 hours before finally bowing to pressure from Jim Demented and others, clarifying is nothing more than political damage control.

I don't blame him for that or suggest that he's the first or last R or D to do it...see Blumenthal...why can't you R's at least be honest like your tea party brethen and say what you mean and mean what you say....that was NO FREAKING CLARIFICATION IT WAS POLITICAL SPIN TO STOP THE BLEEDING!!!

Your post couldn't be more mistaken.

Posted by: rukidding7 | May 24, 2010 10:15 AM | Report abuse

Have a fine day, folks. One last note... nothing to see on the Israel/South Africa revelation over at Weekly Standard or NRO.

Posted by: bernielatham | May 24, 2010 10:20 AM | Report abuse

FYI, on the economy front:

*Economists See Solid U.S. Growth*

The U.S. economy should expand at a solid pace this year and next as consumers increase spending, confident the recession is behind them, a panel of economists said in a survey released Monday.

The 46 economists surveyed in the National Association for Business Economics report between April 27 and May 7 predicted U.S. gross domestic product would expand by 3.2% in 2010 and 2011.


"Although risks involving Europe have recently escalated, the outlook in this country has improved in most respects," said NABE President Lynn Reaser, chief economist at Point Loma Nazarene University.

"Growth prospects are stronger, unemployment and inflation are lower, and worries relating to consumer retrenchment and domestic financial headwinds have diminished," she said.

Stung by the worst recession since the 1930s, Americans were thriftier in 2009. But consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of U.S. GDP, drove the economy's growth in the first quarter of 2010. That should help compensate for fading support from the government later this year.


The economy in April added jobs at the fastest pace in four years, with strong employment gains in the private sector.

Personal spending and income data for April, due for release on Friday, are expected to show that the turnaround in employment is starting to support incomes, according to analysts surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | May 24, 2010 10:42 AM | Report abuse

All, check out these foreign policy views from Rand Paul:

Posted by: Greg Sargent | May 24, 2010 11:03 AM | Report abuse

About the obsession with the Blumenthal story, I would refer you to Bob Somerby at the Daily Howler.

This is just another example of the sort of "journalism" that is responsible for the reign of King George W.
Knock off the liberal Democrats with pseudo scandals (see, Whitewater, filed under "another nonsense scandal created by the NYT) and wind up with a right-wing World Wrestling Federation sponsored Governor of Connecticut. Please, take a breath and actually understand the incredibly weak basis on which this story is built.

Posted by: rosieO | May 24, 2010 11:14 AM | Report abuse

Rand Paul is actually just voicing the Republican party's economic philosophy. The Republicans think that to compete on the world market we have to end government oversight over corporations. Their economic philosophy (pushed by corporate lobbyists) is that the only way we can compete with China is to become China.

Posted by: Beeliever | May 24, 2010 11:14 AM | Report abuse

Souder represented the part of Indiana that I grew up in. Fortunately for me, I had fled the state 9 years prior to his election. I still viewed him as a scourge upon the land of my youth and a blight upon our nation.

Souder is a holier-than-thou sanctimonious prig whose pronouncements on morality are always dripping with contempt for those whom he deemed spiritually inferior. His vision of Christianity is a punitive vindictive cult that is inextricably bound by God to the GOP. In his simplistic dualism, if you weren’t for the forces of God - i.e., Mark Souder and the GOP - then you were in league with Satan. Liberalism was synonymous with evil, therefore, liberals couldn’t really be considered Christians. For we all know that God is a registered Republican AND a member of the NRA.

Souder’s pious religious conviction forbade dancing, but apparently not violating Commandments 7 & 10, his “solemn” marital vows before God and man, and the trust of his wife and children. Horizontal naked foxtrots are apparently OK.

Let’s not forget that Souder was part of the much vaunted GOP Congressional infestation of 1994. I seem to recall that Newt’s Contract On America included a solemn pledge of term limits. Souder served 15 years in DC. Yeah, he’s a real standup guy whose word is his bond.

In his resignation speech, he still was trying to blame the toxic DC atmosphere, his political opponents, and still maintained that if he were inclined to fight, that he would be exonerated in court. I am surprised that he didn’t pull a Jimmy Swaggart and tearfully admit, “the Devil MADE me do it!”

I genuinely hope that he can salvage what is left of his marriage. I do not wish him personal ill. However, in my book, the real damage that Souder did occurred long before he decided to become an adulterer.

Souder is a mortal with feet of clay. Big surprise. He is responsible for his own mess. Maybe if he had spent less time arrogantly chiding the rest of us, he might have noticed the log in his own eye. Pardon me if I am not sympathetic for him in the least.

Good riddance, I say.

Posted by: Gasman1 | May 24, 2010 11:28 AM | Report abuse

Hell hath no fury like a David Gregory scorned.

Posted by: JPRS | May 24, 2010 11:30 AM | Report abuse

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