Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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July 1, 2010

ENOUGH WITH THE JONES ACT TALKING POINT.... Conservatives hoping to complain about President Obama's response to the BP oil spill disaster tend to have trouble with specifics. The right is certain they want the president to do more, but struggle when asked to elaborate in detail.

In recent weeks, one of the more common complaints has to do with the Jones Act. Liz Cheney, assorted Fox News personalities (Beck, Ingraham, Carlson), Sarah Palin, John McCain, Dick Armey, the Heritage Foundation, and random House Republicans have all said if Obama were serious about the federal response, he would have waived the maritime law.

In keeping with recent trends, the argument has already been debunked, but that hasn't stopped Republicans from repeating it. McClatchy is the latest to try to set the record straight.

That statute, established in 1920, requires that all goods transported between U.S. ports be carried on U.S.-flagged, U.S.-built and U.S.-owned ships crewed by U.S. citizens or permanent residents. Critics say that's needlessly excluded foreign-flagged vessels that could have helped. [...]

Armey and the other Republican critics are wrong. Maritime law experts, government officials and independent researchers say that the claim is false. The Jones Act isn't an impediment at all, they say, and it hasn't blocked anything.

"Totally not true," said Mark Ruge, counsel to the Maritime Cabotage Task Force, a coalition of U.S. shipbuilders, operators and labor unions. "It is simply an urban myth that the Jones Act is the problem."

In a news briefing last week, Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen said he'd received "no requests for Jones Act waivers" from foreign vessels or countries. "If the vessels are operating outside state waters, which is three miles and beyond, they don't require a waiver," he said.

There are currently 24 foreign vessels from nine foreign countries in the Gulf, helping with the response effort. How many needed a waiver to participate? None. How many vessels have been turned away because of the Jones Act? None. In fact, just this week, a dozen more offers of foreign assistance have been accepted. The Jones Act had no bearing on any of this.

But the right just keeps lying, suggesting Obama refuses to waive the law due to union pressure. Michael Sacco, the president of the 80,000-member Seafarers International Union, told McClatchy that claims of organized-labor interference in the cleanup efforts were "ridiculous."

Something to keep in mind the next time we hear the argument, which if recent history is any guide, will be made once again any minute now.

Steve Benen 9:25 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (13)

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What kind of "activist executive" would simply waive a law when he finds it inconvenient?

Oh wait, a Republican would.

Posted by: Tree on July 1, 2010 at 9:28 AM | PERMALINK

Well that was an interesting use of the comments section!
KUDOS for continuing to try to pass on accurate, factual information but you do realize that those who need to know it don't come here and will happily believe whatever spews from the lips of the list you provided...it only has to line up with what they already believe to be TRUE for them!!!

Posted by: Dancer on July 1, 2010 at 9:31 AM | PERMALINK

sorry we had to burn your village to the ground in order to save it.

Posted by: Jamie on July 1, 2010 at 9:32 AM | PERMALINK

Another example of Idiot America doing its best to promote their own interests by ignoring facts. Just say it loud enough and often enough, then get right wing friends to agree, and Idiot America will believe it. Facts and science be damned. Add Liz Cheney to the ever-growing list of right wing female idiots: Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann, Virginia Foxx, Dana Perino, Sue Lowden, and Sharron Angle.

Posted by: Carol A on July 1, 2010 at 9:35 AM | PERMALINK

The Jones Act was excluded in a law by Congress to allow inter-island cruises in Hawaii by foreign cruise lines. It has kept the domestic shipbuilding industry alive, if not well. Ironically, most of the pressure against it is from..you guessed it..Big Oil who view it as an impediment to direct transport of Alaskan crude oil to US refineries by foreign flagged (and built) tankers. I figure underneath all of this irrelevant babble about the Jones Act viz. the Gulf, lies some nefarious desire of Big Oil that would be met if waivers were granted.

Posted by: Mudge on July 1, 2010 at 9:41 AM | PERMALINK

Shorter Republican response to EVERYTHING: "Who ya gonna believe- me, or your lying eyes?

Posted by: DAY on July 1, 2010 at 9:46 AM | PERMALINK

K, I've already done one rant this morning, on the post about extending unemployment benefits. Here comes rant #2 . . . .

The only reason why Republicans and their enablers have been able to play their little game successfully for so long is that 'the rest of us' aren't doing our jobs very well. And here I want to focus specifically on the media.

For at least the last 10 years --- since W was campaigning for the 2000 election, if not before --- lying has been at the heart of GOP strategy. It has to be, because most of the things they want to do are unpopular, and if they ran honest campaigns, they would lose overwhelmingly in most elections.

They get away with this because the media (and to a lesser extent, Democrats) let them get away with it. Reluctant to call a lie a lie, the media insist on stenography, providing sound bites without context. This may have been forgivable when the GOP first started their win-by-lying strategy, because after all, it's a bit unbelievable that a major political party would make lying its core electoral strategy. So the media turns a blind eye here and there, figuring it would be impolite to call the liars liars, and the voters will probably see through it anyway.

Only it hasn't happened like that. All that has happened is that the media has given credibility to stupid and borderline insane people like Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin.

So enough, media! Do your fuckin' job! When a politician lies, call it a lie! Report the facts, and when Sarah Palin gets it wrong, either intentionally or not, say so! An informed electorate is the cornerstone of Democracy!

Posted by: David Bailey on July 1, 2010 at 9:48 AM | PERMALINK

Here's the Republican strategy in a nutshell:
"If you can't dazzle the people with brilliance, baffle them BS!"

David Bailey,
The media can't call them out on lies. They need access to these people and their wonderful parties.
Even Lara Logan, whom I really respect, basically said the same thing about the RS article.

Posted by: c u n d gulag on July 1, 2010 at 9:58 AM | PERMALINK

cund is right, the modern media is fundamentally corrupt. Not entirely, but too much so to serve its traditional purpose as an outside observer of the political scene.

Whether this is due to the agenda of their corporate owners or to the way that the press has become a part of the social stratum of the ruling class they report on is largely irrelevant to the effect it has had on our political discourse.

Posted by: tanstaafl on July 1, 2010 at 10:05 AM | PERMALINK

Republicans--the energizer bunnies of lying.

Posted by: digitusmedius on July 1, 2010 at 10:16 AM | PERMALINK

The old, bourgeois notion of 'truth' -- that a statement comports with reality -- has been consigned to the dustbin of history.

We now deal only with revolutionary truth.

We ask ourselves instead: 'Does this statement promote the objectives of the Party? Does this statement support the Party in its role as Vanguard of the Revolution?'

All correctly oriented cadres know this.

All power to the soviets of preachers and car salesmen!

Posted by: The GOP on July 1, 2010 at 10:22 AM | PERMALINK

I've heard the Jones act BS so many times, I started to believe it. Michael Barone used it in a recent column. Why aren't Dems pointing out that it's a lie? I haven't heard one Dem on TV calling this out.

Posted by: jason on July 1, 2010 at 11:33 AM | PERMALINK

Well, it is a rampantly protectionist law I wouldn't be too unhappy to see disappear. Then again, the unit cost of shipping is so low these days that the marginal efficiency benefits to the economy would probably be minimal, and that's before taking into account the carbon costs of cheaper shipping. So I wouldn't be too unhappy to see it stay either.

Posted by: Ginger Yellow on July 1, 2010 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK



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