Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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June 21, 2010

WE'RE ALREADY GETTING FOREIGN ASSISTANCE.... There's a peculiar claim that continues to circulate on the right about the federal response to the BP oil spill, and I'm not even sure why conservatives are bothering with it. The argument isn't only wrong, it's pointless.

On "Fox News Sunday" yesterday, Liz Cheney sought to prove that President Obama isn't doing everything possible to address the disaster in the Gulf.

"[The president] doesn't say that he'll allow foreign carriers to come in, [he] doesn't then move to do anything possible, [and he] won't grant a waiver for the Jones Act."

Former half-term Gov. Sarah Palin (R) said something similar last week, complaining that the administration "should have ... accepted the assistance of foreign countries." Glenn Beck told his minions last week that the president "needs to explain why we haven't -- why we turned down all the international help. They offered it within a couple of days. We said no."

There are three key angles to this. The first is that Cheney, Palin, Beck, and others who keep repeating the argument are simply, demonstrably wrong. Foreign governments have offered assistance, and the Obama administration has accepted it -- this includes skimmers and boom from Mexico, three sets of Koseq sweeping arms from the Dutch, eight Norwegian skimming systems, and 3,000 meters of containment boom from Canada.

Why not accept even more international help? Because, as the president has already explained, some of the offered assistance is redundant and unnecessary.

The second point to keep in mind is that the White House hasn't granted a waiver for the Jones Act because there's been no need to. There have been "15 foreign-flagged vessels" involved in the response. How many needed a waiver to participate? None. How many vessels have been turned away because of the Jones Act? None.

For that matter, the White House has said it would gladly start issuing waivers if the circumstances warranted it. Cheney is just popping off without getting her facts straight (again).

And third, aside from the simple facts of the matter, I'm not even sure why the angry right is taking this talking point seriously. What's the message here? That President Obama is opposed to international cooperation? Isn't that Republicans' job?

I get the sense conservatives are so desperate to attack the White House over the BP spill that it's clouded their judgment, leading to nonsensical talking points like this one.

Steve Benen 8:00 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (38)

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The claim is being pushed by Cheney, Palin and Fox News because it resonates in the Gulf States. I just came back from a week in Fox land (Florida) and heard the Jones Act story over and over again from frightened residents who don't understand why the gusher hasn't been capped and the oil hasn't been captured. They want to blame Obama and the Jones Act story helps them place that blame.

Posted by: Ron Byers on June 21, 2010 at 8:06 AM | PERMALINK

Whether it's nonsense is immaterial. They spread BS, and the ignorant and unknowing members of FOX Nation take it as gospel.
Thanks to the efforts if 'FOX and Fiends (sic),' we grow demonstrably stupider and more ignorant every day.
I'm sure that this is exactly as the founders intended...

Posted by: c u n d gulag on June 21, 2010 at 8:15 AM | PERMALINK

" Cheney, Palin, Beck, and others who keep repeating the argument are simply, demonstrably wrong."

Funny; I've heard these claims many times, in many places. But I have yet to hear it refuted- by the press, by the administration. So there MUST be some truth to these lies, right?

-Even false alarms are responded to by the fire trucks. . .

Posted by: DAY on June 21, 2010 at 8:19 AM | PERMALINK

The need to feed the fires of perception warming the hearts of the right wingy media while cooling the reception of the fact based community is a hungry , hungry beast .
It was little startling to see this chenie lass blasting off a couple of weeks ago about some peculiar and stretchy imaginary hurt . As was remarked here often enough , what exactly is her experience ? From my eyes was the plain evidence that this highly sought prognosticator was charmingly youthful . That charm was a bit tested however by the difficulty she had making a cogent point , rather than her talking points . I am afraid I had more than my fill of this fulminating youngster about two weeks ago when I inadvertently selected to view a Sunday morning video of her . Sorry Sweetie !

Posted by: FRP on June 21, 2010 at 8:21 AM | PERMALINK

The first rule in right-wing epistemology is attack. You don't know anything except that the other side is absolutely wrong about absolutely everything. None of this should surprise us since their political strategy is played out like a basketball game where the refs are surprisingly sensitive to input from the bleachers. We keep thinking these people must be alert to their own partisanship. Well, yes and no. Once you predicate your own involvement on blatant manichaenism, right and wrong transcend right and wrong. You're right regardless. The other side, always wrong.

Posted by: walt on June 21, 2010 at 8:21 AM | PERMALINK

Any claim that continues to circulate on the right is pretty much guaranteed to be demonstrably wrong. Claims like these are the very building blocks of the Culture of Corruption. And they are the corrosive manna that falls from the authoritarian heavens unto willfully ignorant followers who refuse to feed themselves on anything else.

Posted by: chrenson on June 21, 2010 at 8:22 AM | PERMALINK

Interesting how RepuGs use the Jones Act as a football. When, the former US Rep from the 3rd District of Washington, Jolene Unsoeld tried to amend the portion of the Jones Act to allow foreign cruise ships to operate out of Seattle, instead of docking in Vancouver, BC, she was denounced by her successor, Linda Smith, an early version of the Tea Party movement. Forced out of office by voting for the Brady Bill, her bill was tossed into the dust bin. The RepuGs bring up the Jones Act at their convenience.

Posted by: berttheclock on June 21, 2010 at 8:22 AM | PERMALINK

"-Even false alarms are responded to by the fire trucks. . ."

So you swing at every pitch they throw? They can throw them faster then Obama can swing. He's got other things to do than respond to Liz Cheney.

Posted by: Jose Padilla on June 21, 2010 at 8:24 AM | PERMALINK

I get the sense conservatives are so desperate to attack the White House over the BP spill that it's clouded their judgment . . .

Really? Seems to me their judgment here is just as sound as it ever was.

Posted by: David Bailey on June 21, 2010 at 8:24 AM | PERMALINK

Yes, as previously commented it really doesn't matter how truthful or accurate statements are in our illustrious media (and NOT just FAUX) because either the people anchoring these programs are so inept, biased, or ignorant of the very facts that are being misrepresented or they prefer to leave those comments hanging there over and over...and these are the people who are supposed to be "informing the electorate"...how often to you hear one of them challenge or allow the guest with the TRUTH to set the record straight? "We'll have to leave it there...." Blitzer and company

Posted by: Dancer on June 21, 2010 at 8:24 AM | PERMALINK

But , but ...
If walt is right ...
These people are involved (pick 'em - in love with , engaged primarliy with) in Fantasy !

Posted by: FRP on June 21, 2010 at 8:26 AM | PERMALINK

Actually Sarah Palin mangled (typical) a claim promoted by MSNBC. That claim is that there are ships with skimming equipment that go offered and yet are still un-utilized.

Chris Matthews challenged Carol Browner on this the night of the President's speech last week and it was obvious she knew nothing about the matter, which itself is concerning given her position in the White House (though she's not in the direct operational reporting line of authority on this matter). So if these queries by MSNBC are uninformed and in fact we have deployed these vessels or else we can't for good reason* the White House has failed miserably in communicating such.

While I believe the quality of effort by the Feds has been as good as we can expect given current capabilities when it comes to capping the spill and insuring costs are covered by responsible parties, it appears to me they are failing at insuring an optimal response to containing the spill.

* E.g., lack of room to maneuver was a possible reason though that hadn't gone explored when it was first raised on MSNBC soon after it became evident this spill was big and containing it would be a minimum difficult and complex.

Posted by: Michael Heath on June 21, 2010 at 8:29 AM | PERMALINK

By the end of the day, the wingnuts are going to blame the French soccer team mutiny on Obama...

They didn't used to be mutinous surrender monkeys until the ni... ni... guy took over!

Posted by: efgoldman on June 21, 2010 at 8:31 AM | PERMALINK

Michael Heath, I agree. When Sarah Palin is better at getting a message out than the White House is, we are in deep doo-doo.

Posted by: chrenson on June 21, 2010 at 8:34 AM | PERMALINK

Has anybody done research on the source of the Jones Act story? I would like to know if it originated from somebody other than a talking bobblehead like Steve Doosey.

Posted by: Ron Byers on June 21, 2010 at 8:43 AM | PERMALINK

Wow...I'm shocked.

Shocked that Liz Cheney knows what the hell the Jones Act is.

Posted by: Stetson Kennedy on June 21, 2010 at 8:45 AM | PERMALINK


"wrong...pointless...Liz Cheney"

Posted by: martin on June 21, 2010 at 8:53 AM | PERMALINK

The Right has been using the strategy since the build up to the war in Iraq: if you say a lie enough, eventually people will begin to believe it.

Posted by: valerie griffith on June 21, 2010 at 8:54 AM | PERMALINK

Anyone who thinks that containment was a practical option needs to consider the size of the spill and the difficulties of operating at sea in all kinds of weather.

If you read some of the timelines that have been printed of the spill response, you will see in less than 2 weeks and well before any of the oil made landfall, there were 180,000 feet (about 34 miles) of booms deployed and 300,000 more feet staged nearby or in the process of being deployed. About that time, high winds drove most of the vessel working on spill response off the water and rendered the booms ineffective.

Since then the slick has grown to almost 4,000 square miles and threatens hundreds of miles of coastline. Containment and cleanup can certainly help reduce the impact, but expecting them to completely prevent oil from reaching the shore under those conditions is ridiculous.

Posted by: tanstaafl on June 21, 2010 at 8:58 AM | PERMALINK

@ tanstaafl Please don't confuse us with facts and reality . We still want Obama in a Superman suit to take care of everything!

Posted by: john r on June 21, 2010 at 9:05 AM | PERMALINK

If anything Steve Benen understated one of the lies of the Repugs, the Jones Act has absolutely no bearing on actions taken to clean up in the gulf. The Act was a protectionist act that prevents foreign flagged ships from carrying freight between US ports - that's it. You'd have to have a very loose definition of commerce for this to apply to carrying recovery equipment from one US port to another.

Posted by: KenZ on June 21, 2010 at 9:06 AM | PERMALINK

@Ron Byers

I have following this story from the start. I believe the origin was Joseph Carafano of the Heritage Foundation, then Brian Wilson at Fox news then Fox and Friends which was rebutted at Media Matters.

Posted by: Ken E. Beck on June 21, 2010 at 9:22 AM | PERMALINK

"bobble head like Steve Doosey"

Why, sir, I'll have you know I, recently, learned from Steve D that China "is a really big country who needs a whole bunch of stuff". Try learning about that in the Liberal Media.

Posted by: berttheclock on June 21, 2010 at 9:22 AM | PERMALINK

Steve, you mean well and do a good job setting up facts and arguments, but please drop the innocence act about the other side. Their "judgment" is not what's clouded - it's their "ethics" that are clouded, as in doing anything to bring down the other side - no matter how dishonest or divisive.

Posted by: Neil B on June 21, 2010 at 9:56 AM | PERMALINK

You can find these claims, cleaned up so that the union-bashing is removed, on Democratic boards every dayon Democratic boards every day

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on June 21, 2010 at 10:24 AM | PERMALINK

The point is that they must "prove" that Obama is not doing everything he can do. To make it equivalent, no worse, than Katrina they must prove:
a) the response was slower than Bush, b)the incompetence was greater than Bush, c) the indifference to suffering was greater than Bush. Hence the "robot" complaints about Obama not being emotional enough, the obsession about how often and when he is playing golf, the number of visits to the coast, and him "turning down" help. Almost identical to the criticisms of Bush, except then the criticisms were true.

Posted by: Vicki on June 21, 2010 at 10:30 AM | PERMALINK

Has Any one asked L. Cheney how much she enjoys the money saved when Haliburton does such sloppy work that military and civilians die as a result?

Posted by: MLJohnston on June 21, 2010 at 10:37 AM | PERMALINK

@DAY -- Can't tell if you're kidding or not, but for the record, the 24/7 nonsense that is Cheney, Palin, et al. has been refuted by the administration. Not only in press briefings, but also on the WH's dedicated blog on the oil spill, and the Joint Command Center website (both of which can be accessed through whitehouse.gov).

For instance, this item is listed on the White House Blog, blog post dated June 19:

The Ongoing Administration-Wide Response to the Deepwater BP Oil Spill: June 17 and June 18, 2010:

To date, the administration has leveraged assets and skills from numerous foreign countries and international organizations as part of this historic, all-hands-on-deck response, including Canada, Germany, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, the United Nations’ International Maritime Organization and the European Union's Monitoring and Information Centre.

Posted by: June on June 21, 2010 at 10:49 AM | PERMALINK

DAY: There's a simple reason why the mainstream media won't push back on this -- they'd have to do a little homework. Maybe even pick up a phone or use Google. It's so much more fun to talk about personalities, and to speculate whether Obama is revealing an elitist mind set than to check what he's actually doing.

Posted by: T-Rex on June 21, 2010 at 11:02 AM | PERMALINK

"Cheney is just popping off without getting her facts straight"

This new HOW ?

Posted by: Joe Friday on June 21, 2010 at 11:26 AM | PERMALINK

It sounds like the echo chamber is trying to point out Obama's 'failure to respond' as loudly as possible so they can continue the 'Obama's Katrina' narrative that they are so unwilling to put down. If only that pesky reality would follow suit...

Posted by: Malovich on June 21, 2010 at 11:30 AM | PERMALINK

Steve, they're not using "nonsensical talking points."

They're lying. Just like they do every day, about everything.

Posted by: Screamin' Demon on June 21, 2010 at 11:59 AM | PERMALINK

Am I incorrect in remembering that the Bush administration refused foreign aid in response to Katrina?

Posted by: karen marie on June 21, 2010 at 12:08 PM | PERMALINK

How insane is it that Liz Cheney is criticizing the administration when her father is implicated in this mess with his ties to Big Oil and Halliburton. These Rs have no shame. None.

Posted by: Hmmmm on June 21, 2010 at 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

adding to my post above: How insane is it that Liz Cheney is criticizing the administration when her own father is implicated in this mess with his ties to Big Oil and Halliburton, and as VP, gave away the store (the riches of the country and its citizens) to those corporations. The man belongs in prison.

Posted by: Hmmmm on June 21, 2010 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

All their talking points are nonsensical. I really wonder about their sanity. More than the politicians who go around out-right lying on a very regular basis, I worry about the people who vote for them. It seems there is no level of unethical, immoral or dishonest behavior that the rightwing will reject. As long as you are 'one of them' you can say and do anything at all and they will line up behind you. Remarkable behavior.

Posted by: LauraNo on June 21, 2010 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

Well, first all of my names is "james" not "joseph" so you kind of have to scratch your head about "fact" checkers who don't even check to see if they have checked to see if they have a person's name right. Which also tells you none of these people actually watched the interview on Fox to see exactly what I said.

Posted by: James Carafano on June 21, 2010 at 5:05 PM | PERMALINK

News today is, what Sarah Palin said about Obama; what Beck said; and what Hannity said.
Even if you do not watch Murdoch's republican-controlled stations, fear not-the other networks will report this slash in minute detail.
But Dan Quayle's son stole some of the limelight recently, when he called Obama "the worst president..."
That quickly became the top story of the month.
Slam the prez and you get world wide coverage by the top networks-NBC.,CBS., and ABC.
Running for Congress? Insult the prez.
Television news is the worst it has ever been-nothing but a clutter of cackling, gibberish, rude and insulting slobs.
I'm sitting by the phone, waiting for Murdoch's performing clowns, or, any of the other networks to call for a quote.

Posted by: Jack on August 23, 2010 at 9:44 AM | PERMALINK



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