Tuesday, 22 June 2010

DEEP-SIXING THE OIL MORATORIUM

Ken Berwitz

U. S. District Judge Martin Feldman has lifted the moratorium on offshore drilling, which was imposed by President Obama after the oil rig disaster.

Here is his reasoning:

The court is unable to divine or fathom a relationship between the findings and the immense scope of the moratorium.   The blanket moratorium, with no parameters, seems to assume that because one rig failed and although no one yet fully knows why, all companies and rigs drilling new wells over 500 feet also universally present an imminent danger.

Does Judge Feldman have a point?  You bet he does.

Maybe it would be a good idea for President Obama to spend a little less time finger-pointing and a little more time insisting that experts in the field come up with regulations that allow necessary oil exploration under much safer circumstances. 

And maybe it would be a good idea for Mr. Obama to have those same experts devise some kind of plan if another emergency of this nature were to arise since, clearly, his administation had no such plan when the oil rig disaster occurred.

Not to impede the President's lifestyle, but could he take time off from his busy schedule of golfing, attending baseball games, hosting music nights and shooting hoops to get some of this done?  I realize it is only our energy needs and our shoreline, but still.......


KEITH OLBERMANN: A MAN OF PRINCIPLE (OR SOMETHING)

Ken Berwitz

Less than a week ago, after years of blogging at www.dailykos.com, keith olbermann left in a huff (not a huffington post, just a huff).  Why?  Because a couple of people beat up on him for critiquing Barack Obama's speech. 

It seems olbermann's wiwoo sensibiwities were damaged.

Now there's a man of principle! 

Except for one thing:  he's already back.

He's back.  Already.

Here is the first part of what olbermann wrote at dailykos today (you can read it all by clicking here):

So, uh, this looks like a nice site

by Keith Olbermann

Tue Jun 22, 2010 at 09:31:51 AM PDT

OK, I'm back.

I've always liked to invent backstories behind cliches and one of my oldest ones is the idea that the first guy who said "You can't see the forest for the trees" was actually running through a forest when he ran head first into a tree and didn't enjoy the experience. You do tend to swear at the trees, and, if you hit your head hard enough, you might even swear off that particular forest for awhile.

Needless to say, the overwhelming number of comments to my last diary divided into agreement with support, disagreement with support, or anger/frustration/namecalling - still with support. I did not write what I wrote to provoke a reaction but if I had, that would have been the spectrum I would have hoped for.

It occurs to me, in the full flower of the pomposity that always strikes me at midday, that this might be somewhat metaphorical for progressives and other centrists, particularly relative to criticism of the Administration. I was reminded of this last night when somebody asked me why I wasn't pounding the President more on Afghanistan, and I linked him the Comment I did last year saying Obama should declare victory and go home.

"Sure," the guy replied, "you've been critical of that, once, but you seem to go lightly on them." And I said, you're right...other than this stuff about the BP disaster, and the Public Option, and the political strategy on Health Care Reform, and Afghanistan, and not prosecuting torture, and the Kagan nomination, and maybe six dozen complaints about process or tone.

I mention this because the last diary was misinterpreted by 99% of the old media and 99.5% of the new media. I didn't 'quit Daily Kos because I got criticized for criticizing POTUS.' I wrote what I wrote because there was a body of us here which assumed any criticism of this administration had to originate in a nefarious and wholly nugatory plan to destroy it. There certainly are such nefarious and wholly nugatory plans, active, this very minute: The most prominent is called the Republican Party (GOBP).

I stopped at the point where olbermann gave us his standard routine of sneering out that it wasn't him, it was the rest of the world - and then going into his standard-issue denunciation Republicans, whom he appears to think are responsible for everything that is wrong with country today, yesterday and back to the revolutionary war,-- along with the bubonic plague and the placement of apple trees in the garden of eden.  But if you want to read the rest, take a few Tums and click here.

Six days.  Six days!  Less than one week and he folds like a cheap umbrella in a windstorm.

Now that's principle for you.   Or something that uses a few of its letters.


DEMOCRAT UNDERGROUND'S 'COMMENTS' GUIDELINES

Ken Berwitz

As you know (or can see by scrolling down just a bit)  I provide an equal number of links to left wing and right wing web sites.  That is because I assume we all have access to supposedly middle-of-the road news venues so, by adding in the left-and-right links,  readers have access to all sides of the story.  

But not everyone is as happy with this kind of all-sides-are welcome approach as I am.

To illustrate, take one of my left wing links:   Democratic Underground.  Some of its readers have decided that Barack Obama is so incompetent (usually because he isn't far enough left for them) that he deserves to be spanked in the "comments" section.  You'd think that would be fine, wouldn't you?  It says "comments", not "tributes".  I know that, for this site, I don't care which side a reader is on when he/she comments, I've never censored even one of them.

But DU has a bit of a different view about people who criticize Mr. Obama.  In that connection, it has issued a tiny little list of do's and don'ts, which I thought you might be interested in seeing.  So here they are, straight from the DU site:

LIST OF RULE VIOLATIONS

{ } Personal Attack - When discussing individual DU members, the following are considered personal attacks:
        - Personal attacks, name-calling, or other insults.
        - Telling someone to "shut up," "screw you," "go away," "fuck off," or the like.
        - Calling someone a liar, or calling a post a lie.
        - Calling someone a conservative, disruptor, or similar.
        - Calling someone a bigot.
        - Belittling someone for being new or having a low post count.
        - Negatively "calling out" someone who is not participating in the discussion.

{ } Broad-brush or Extreme Group Attack - When discussing groups of DU members, the following are considered broad-brush group attacks:
        - Broad-brush attack - intended to paint all people belonging to a particular group in a negative light. (The word "all" can be explicitly stated or implied.)
        - Name-calling - Referring to any group of DU members by names intended to paint them in a negative light.
        - Suggesting that any group of DU members are conservatives, disruptors, or similar.
        - Belittling people who are new or have a low post count.
        - Suggesting that any group of DU members are not Democrats, liberals, or progressives.
        - Suggesting that a particular point of view is required in order to be a Democrat, liberal, or progressive.
        - Note: As a general guideline, if it is possible to identify specific individuals who are being attacked, then it is against the rules. But if the attack is against a vaguely defined group of "some but not all" people, then it might be permitted.

{ } Insensitive - Includes bigotry, hate, ridicule, stereotyping, or insensitivity based on:
        - Race or ethnicity.
        - Gender (women or men).
        - Sexual Orientation.
        - Religion or lack of religion (Christians, Jews, Muslims, Atheists, Agnostics, etc.).
        - Geographic region or place of origin.
        - Disability (mental or physical).
        - Weight or other physical characteristics.
        - Use of insensitive terminology ("cocksucker," "cunt," "bitch," "whore," "retard," etc.).

{ } Inflammatory, inappropriate, or over-the-top
        - Any post which is, in the consensus of the moderators, too rhetorically hot, too divisive, too extreme, or too inflammatory.
        - Advocating violent overthrow of the government, or harm toward high-ranking officials.
        - Broad-brush smears toward law enforcement or military service members.
        - Advocating the defeat of the US military, attack against the US, or other overtly anti-American sentiment.
        - Sexually explicit content.
        - Graphic violence, gore, pain, or human suffering (except with a legitimate political purpose, and with a clear warning in the subject line).
        - Asking for medical advice.
        - "Gravedancing" or "gravemourning" when someone is banned.
        - Signature line/avatar image violates DU rules, is controversial, or is likely to cause discussions to go off-topic.

{ } Inappropriate attacks against Democrats
        - Insults against prominent Democrats, such as "Fuck Obama."
        - Name-calling against prominent Democrats. Calling Barack Obama "Barry" or some other name.
        - Repeating Republican partisan attacks against Democrats.
        - Broadly suggesting that there is no difference between Barack Obama and George W. Bush, or that there is no difference between Democrats and Republicans. (Arguing that specific policies are the same would be permitted.)
        - Suggesting that President Obama has perpetrated a "con job" or "fraud," or similarly over-the-top assertions of bad faith.
        - Advocating voting against Democrats, or in favor of third-party or GOP candidates.
        - Broad-brush smears against Democrats generally. Broad expressions of contempt toward Democrats generally.

{ } Harassment or threats
        - Any type of threat against another member of this community, either explicit or implied.
        - Any action intended to harm another person -- physically, mentally, emotionally, or otherwise.
        - A sustained or organized effort to demean, belittle, bully, or ostracize another person.
        - Digging up or posting personal information about any private individual, on DU or elsewhere.
        - Stalking someone across discussion threads or forums.

{ } Rule enforcement issues
        - Publicly complaining about rule enforcement.
        - Publicly accusing the moderators/administrators of bias.
        - Publicly "calling-out" the moderators/administrators over specific enforcement action.
        - Continuing an argument from a locked thread or from a thread you have been blocked out of.

{ } Spamming
        - Posting the same message repeatedly.
        - Personal fundraising, for-profit advertising, or selling products or services (except in the DU Marketplace forum, or if given explicit permission from the DU administrators).
        - Posting entirely in capital letters.

{ } Off-topic/Wrong forum
        - Any discussion thread or post that is off-topic for the forum or group in which it is posted.
        - Non-news items posted in the Latest Breaking News forum.
        - Highly speculative "conspiracy theory" topics outside the September 11 forum.
        - Discussion of the Arab/Israeli conflict outside the Israel/Palestine forum.
        - Discussion of purely religious topics outside the Religion/Theology forum.
        - "Rallying the troops" in a forum or group to disrupt elsewhere on the website.

{ } Inappropriate source
        - Websites with a focus on disrupting Democratic Underground and/or smearing DU members.
        - Websites with bigoted content (Holocaust skepticism, Jewish conspiracies, and the like).
        - Note: Linking to right-wing websites is usually permitted, provided the intent is to expose their agenda rather than agree with it.

{ } Copyright violations
        - Excerpt exceeds 4 paragraphs, or does not have a link to the source.

{ } Other (Please explain)

I don't know about you, but about half way through I started to get the feeling that anything other than "I love Barack Obama, he is my God" would be a problem. 

Therefore, despite the innate brilliance of this tiny little list, and after due consideration, I have decided not to follow suit.   You have my assurance that, within the bounds of legality, I continue to believe a comments section is for comments, whether or not I agree with them. 

Say whatever you want.


GENERAL MCCHRYSTAL: SHOULD HE BE RELIEVED OF HIS COMMAND?

Ken Berwitz

Was General Stanley McChrstal insubordinate?  Is his position hoplelessly compromised?   Should he be relieved of his command?

Read this excerpt of an article by Gordon Lubold at politico.com and decide for yourself:

The top commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, has been summoned to the White House to explain biting and unflattering remarks he made to a freelance writer about President Barack Obama and others in the Obama administration.

 

The face-to-face comes as pundits are already calling for McChrystal to resign for insubordination.

 

McChrystal has been instructed to fly from Kabul to Washington today to attend Obamas regular monthly security team meeting tomorrow at the White House.

 

An administration official says McChrystal was asked to attend in person rather than by secure video teleconference, where he will have to explain to the Pentagon and the commander in chief his quotes about his colleagues in the piece.

 

Both Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have spoken with McChrystal. Capt. John Kirby, a spokesman for Mullen, said the chairman spoke to General McChrystal last night and expressed his deep disappointment with the article and with the comments expressed therein.

 

McChrystal and his top aides appeared to let their guard down during a series of interviews and visits with Michael Hastings, a freelance writer for the magazine Rolling Stone.

 

The article, titled The Runaway General, appears in the magazine later this week. It contains a number of jabs by McChrystal and his staff aimed not only at the President but at Vice President Biden, special envoy Richard Holbrooke, Karl Eikenberry, the ambassador to Afghanistan, and others.

 

McChrystal described his first meeting with Obama as disappointing and said that Obama was unprepared for the meeting.

 

National Security Advisor Jim Jones is described by a McChrystal aide as a clown stuck in 1985.

 

Others aides joked about Bidens last name as sounding like Bite me since Biden opposed the surge.

 

McChrystal issued an immediate apology for the profile, advance copies of which were sent to news organizations last night.

 

It was a mistake reflecting poor judgment and should never have happened, McChrystal said. Throughout my career, I have lived by the principles of personal honor and professional integrity. What is reflected in this article falls far short of that standard. I have enormous respect and admiration for President Obama and his national security team, and for the civilian leaders and troops fighting this war and I remain committed to ensuring its successful outcome.

Regretfully, if these quotes are accurate, the answer, in my opinion, is yes to all three questions.  You cannot have a military general openly second-guessing his commander in chief that way. 

I respect General McChrystal greatly.  But his continuation as Commanding General in Afghanistan is untenable.  He has to be relieved.

But, having said that, let me point out that there is one other question which must be asked - for the sake of our country and, especially, its military personnel in Afghanistan.

Was General McChrystal right?

I hope against hope that our wonderful "neutral" media will make this question a part of the story.  A big part.

Zeke ... ... ... .... McChrystal has an impossible task ... ... This is the 4th time in 150 yrs that a major world power has attempted to subdue Afghanistan .. ... the other 3 (Britain twice in the mid 1800s, Russia in the 1980's) ended in defeat of the 'modern' armies. .... .... ... Right now, the US does not have any effective allies ... ... the country is 50% larger than Iraq in area and about a thousand times more difficult in terrain -- steep mountains, caves. ... ... There is no effective Afghan Army, Police or Air Force (the US is buying Soviet Hind helicopters, which a few Afghans were trained on, in the 1980's, under Russian control). ... ... .... The Taliwackers are as strong as ever. ... ... OilBama takes MONTHS to approve minimal troop increases, equipment is lacking, a fixed timetable for withdrawal (how about benches, for the Taliban to rest on, until the US withdrawal?) ... ... Karzai is corrupt to the core, and the populace knows it (Karzai's brother is the top drug lord) .... ... .... .... .... McChrystal is touted as the most experienced in fighting asymetrical wars -- and THAT is the guy they want to get rid of ? ? ... Petraeus fainted during congressional testimony .... (I don't buy the 'dehydration' story - they guy may not be well). .. ... ... .... .... ... ... My solution : send all the bureaucrats, czars, commissars and community organizers to Afghanistan .... the Taliban won't be able to climb over them all. .... .... .... .... In short: Obama is doing TERRIBLE in 1) the Economic Recession ... 2) Gulf Oil Disaster ... 3) Afghanistan .... 4) Foreign Relations, in general ... ... and fumbling, majorly, in ... 5) Health Care .... 6) Energy / Global Warming / Greenology .... 7) Illegal Immigration .... 8) Bloated Bureaucracy ..... ...... etc, etc (06/22/10)


JC: GETTING THE ADVERTISING SUPPORT IT DESERVES

Ken Berwitz

No need for me to write this one.  The press release from CARB (Citizens Against Religious Bigotry) says it all:

Unanimous: Comedy Central's "JC" Has No Advertiser Support

June 22, 2010 16:23 ET

 

Alexandria, VA Citizens Against Religious Bigotry (CARB) today announced victory in convincing advertisers not to sponsor the anti-Christian JC comedy that Comedy Central announced was in development.

Members of the coalition wrote to more than 300 corporations that had sponsored Comedy Central programming in the past.  The letters explained the nature of the program and stated how offensive the JC project would be, not only to the 83 percent of Americans who identify themselves as Christians, but also to many non-Christians including those who signed the petition. Coalition members then followed up with phone calls to the advertisers, speaking directly with representatives from most of the corporations that received the original letter.

Not one single sponsor indicated their intention to buy advertising time on the JC program if the program ever made it to Comedy Centrals air.


Due to the success, the outreach effort has been suspended effective the close of business this past Friday, June 18th.

After an intense period of writing and then calling hundreds of sponsors, the results are clear.  In fact the verdict is unanimous:  There is no advertiser support for anti-Christian bigotry such as that embraced in Comedy Centrals JC project.  The sponsors understand what the programming department at Comedy Central does not: Religious bigotry is bad business, said L. Brent Bozell III, president of the Media Research Center and the founder of CARB.

With literally zero advertiser support for this program, the only reason Comedy Central would put it on their broadcast schedule is in an effort to offend Christianity and Christians.  There is no valid business reason for airing JC. 


In light of this demonstration of overwhelming success, the Coalitions advertiser outreach will stand down.  In the event that any advertiser changes its mind, that advertiser and its executives will be publicly called to account for supporting anti-Christian bigotry, concluded Bozell.


Tim Winter, president of the Parents Television Council, offered this comment: 

We are pleased by the magnitude of favorable responses from the advertising community regarding the JC project.  Advertisers have become more aware of the inseparable connection between their corporate brand and the entertainment content they make possible by virtue of their sponsorship dollars.  This demonstrates an exciting trend, and with fruit like this we look forward to increasing the PTCs investment in its advertiser accountability program.


Citizens Against Religious Bigotry (CARB) is a new coalition created in response to JC, the animated television series in development by Viacoms Comedy Central that is being created as a situation comedy about God and his son, Jesus Christ. More than 20 member organizations and individuals comprise the coalition and include top Jewish, Christian and non-religious leaders such as the Family Research Council, Michael Medved, Catholic League, American Alliance of Jews and Christians, Parents Television Council and Media Research Center.

Two points to be made here:

1) It would not surprise me at all if Comedy Central found some way of airing "JC" anyway.....

2) .....but Comedy Central would not put on a similar show about Allah if it got enough advertising to make everyone there rich.  This kind of programming is only reserved for religions whose adherents don't scare the pants off of them.

In other words, they are both cowardly and bigoted.  Helluva combination.


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