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    • The Wages Of Embarassing Elites Are Death
      Everyone remember the Panama papers? A leak of bank records showing that the ultra-rich are hiding massive wealth, tax-free and often breaking the law to do so? A rather weak set of laws designed to allow tax avoidance by rich people, at that. Found out the other day that the reporter who broke the Panama Papers story was killed by a car bomb. Coincidence, n […]
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Memorial Day News

Good Morning, Conflucians. Today is Memorial Day. This holiday began informally as Decoration Day, a day to honor the Civil War dead by decorating their graves. The day was widely celebrated for the first time in 1868.

…after World War I, observances also began to honor those who had died in all of America’s wars. In 1971, Congress declared Memorial Day a national holiday to be celebrated the last Monday in May. (Veterans Day, a day set aside to honor all veterans, living and dead, is celebrated each year on November 11.)

Today, Memorial Day is celebrated at Arlington National Cemetery with a ceremony in which a small American flag is placed on each grave. Also, it is customary for the president or vice-president to give a speech honoring the contributions of the dead and lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. About 5,000 people attend the ceremony annually.

As everyone has heard by now, President Obama will not attend the events at Arlington Cemetery, but will laying a wreath in Abraham Lincoln Cemetery in Ellwood, IL, taking a break from his vacation in Chicago.

There has been some criticism of Obama for skipping the ceremony in DC, but lots of progs are defending him too. The Week quoted Erik Erikson of Red State as the best example of critical opinions on this issue. Here’s a sample of what Erikson had to say:

By suggesting this President, in the midst of a war, should probably be going to Arlington National Cemetery for Memorial Day instead of taking his second vacation in a month, conservatives are somehow suggesting he use dead soldiers as political props.

After eight years of the left demanding publicity of flag draped coffins returning to Deleware [sic] from overseas to use as political props against George W. Bush, it is more than a little humorous to have the left now accuse the right of doing the same. It also ignores a fundamental point leftists too busy calling our soldiers “war criminals” and our dead soldiers “political props” miss — going to Arlington National Cemetery to lay a wreath at the tomb of the unknowns has nothing to do with using dead soldiers as political props and everything to do with a Commander in Chief who seems to not like the military showing some basic respect to the men and women, alive and dead, who have actually kept us free.

Even I find that a little over the top, but I don’t really see how soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan have “kept us free” either.

On the defense-of-Obama side, David Corn writes about The Right Wing’s Memorial Day Attack on Obama:

There’s a hole in the bottom of the ocean. Unemployment is still near 10 percent. There are two wars underway. And what are conservative pundits fretting about? That this year President Obama won’t be laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day.

OK, but why did Obama have to go on vacation? I do find that a bit troubling with all the problems we have–particularly the oil spill, which he should really appoint someone to handle if he isn’t going to do it.

Fox News has a critique of Corn’s attitude: A Tale of Two Americas On Memorial Day 2010 and CBS News points out that Obama isn’t the first President to skip the ceremony at Arlington Cemetery.

Olivia Hampton at the Guardian UK points out that we have been in Afghanistan for nine years now, Obama has dramatically escalated that war, and yet and we aren’t even close to achieving our supposed goals.

The war’s intended objective was to rid the United States of extremist threats from far away lands, but domestic extremism of all hues is now on the rise, the Taliban has regrouped, Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar have eluded capture and Afghanistan once again is ablaze.

For all the soldiers who now lie dead on this Memorial Day, America’s pride is again wounded and an arrogant war has failed to bear the promised fruits of democracy to that rugged, mountainous terrain called Afghanistan.

In other News, the BP oil spill continues apace, and Maureen Dowd is tentatively turning on The One. She’s even calling him Barry! She’s mostly worried about Obama’s inappropriate affect rather than the people who are suffering from his inaction, but that’s Modo. It’s always about appearances for her. Here’s a sample:

F.D.R. achieved greatness not by means of imposing his temperament and intellect on the world but by reacting to what the world threw at him.

For five weeks, it looked as though Obama considered the gushing that became the worst oil spill in U.S. history a distraction, like a fire alarm going off in the middle of a law seminar he was teaching. He’ll deal with it, but he’s annoyed because it’s not on his syllabus.

James Carville is much more worried about the reality on the ground: BP Gulf Oil Spill: ‘This is Literally a War We’re In’

Last week, Carville called President Obama’s response to what is poised to become the country’s biggest environmental disaster on record “lackadaisical.”

Today he said Obama was doing “better,” but said it’s clear BP has lost control of the situation.

“I do know, for too long, they were taking BP’s word for everything which turned out to be wrong at every junction,” Carville said. “It’s all turned out on the wrong side.”

He said Obama needs to tell Americans exactly what is happening with relief efforts and why the gulf region is so important to the country’s economy and environment.

“I think the president has to address the nation,” Carville said. “His legacy depends on what happens with the oil in the Gulf of Mexico.”

Personally, I think if Obama “addressed the nation,” he would still sound like a boring, pedantic, detached lecturer in a 101 class he has taught many times.

Meanwhile, MSNBC reports BP, government warn oil may leak until August and people in the Gulf are getting very discouraged, as we know from Dakinikat’s frequent updates.

“I was just sitting here thinking our way of life is over. It’s the end, the apocalypse,” said fisherman Tom Young of Plaquemines Parish on the coast. “And no one outside of these few parishes really cares. They say they do, but they don’t do nothing but talk. Where’s the action? Where’s the person who says these are real people, real people with families and they are hurting?”

“There are people who are getting desperate, and there are more getting anxious as we get further into the shrimping season and there is less chance they will recover,” said the Rev. Theodore Turner, 57, at Mount Olive Baptist Church in Boothville, near where oil first washed ashore. Fishermen make up about a third of his congregation.

The disaster, in its 42nd day Monday, is already the largest oil spill in U.S. history and officials are calling it the country’s biggest environmental catastrophe.

And yet our lackadasical, inert, vacationing President still hasn’t declared it a national emergency. Why not, for heaven’s sake?

But at least one administration representative claims that the government is “prepared for the worst.” Apparently the latest BP “solution” to the leak may cause an increase in the oil flooding out of the ocean floor.

“The worst is that we have oil leaking until August, until these relief wells are dug,” said Browner. “And we will be prepared for the worst.”

The worse I’ve heard is that the relief wells might not work and the oil could flow until all the oil comes out–maybe years. But the administration is prepared to deal with “the worst,” like when they predicted unemployment wouldn’t go above 8 percent.

From the MSNBC article:

As David Rensink, incoming president of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, told me several weeks ago, these wells are not often used and are especially difficult to drill at such a depth. Basically, BP hopes to drill down to intersect the leaking well in order to inject cement and plug it. But the leaking well is only 7 inches in diameter. Experts compare it to a nurse trying to locate your vein to to draw blood—except the vein is a mile below water and then another three and a half miles under the seabed, and the operation has to be carried out with remotely operated robotic devices.

There are also concerns that trying to tap the well could make the situation worse. In its application for the permit to drill the relief wells, BP warned that an additional blowout could cause 240,000 barrels of oil a day to spew into the Gulf.

If that fails? The Gulf well could continue spewing oil for years.

So I guess the administration isn’t really prepared for the worst. They’re just lying liars as usual.

From the NYT:

independent scientists and government officials say another disaster is playing out in slow motion — and out of public view — in the mysterious depths between the gusher and the coast, a world inhabited by sperm whales, gigantic jellyfish and diminutive plankton.

More than a month after the BP PLC spill began, the disaster’s dimensions have come into sharper focus with government estimates that more than 18 million gallons of oil — and possibly 40 million gallons — has already poured from the leaking well, eclipsing the 11 million gallons released during the Exxon Valdez spill.

”Every fish and invertebrate contacting the oil is probably dying. I have no doubt about that,” said Prosanta Chakrabarty, a Louisiana State University fish biologist….[Unseen events below the ocean’s surface] can ripple across the food chain. Every night the denizens of the deep make forays to shallower depths to eat — and be eaten by — other fish, according to marine scientists who describe it as the largest migration on earth.

In turn, several species closest to the surface — including red snapper, shrimp and menhaden — help drive the Gulf Coast fishing industry. Others such as marlin, cobia and yellowfin tuna sit atop the food chain and are chased by the Gulf’s charter fishing fleet.

Many of those species are now in their annual spawning seasons. Eggs exposed to oil would quickly perish. Those that survived to hatch could starve if the plankton at the base of the food chain suffer. Larger fish are more resilient, but not immune to the toxic effects of oil.

And so the disaster continues as Dear Leader relaxes in the Chicago White House. Will he ever act?

Yes, I’m still focusing mainly on the oil spill news. But please post cheerful links in the comments if you have them. And have a nice Memorial Day everyone!

62 Responses

  1. The necessity for a vacation is troubling. His 3 and a half hours he spent in LA Friday were touted by the press as “interrupting his vacation” – as a big deal.
    Arlington figures prominently on several page ones – a sign that not just the RW is stunned by the symbolic shun. My tabloids

  2. Happy Memorial Day all. What strikes me about the O skipping out on Arlington thing is that it’s just another example of how tone deaf and unfeeling he is. Just like the oil spill, even if it were for sheer political purposes (with his numbers sinking all the time), you’d think he would at least make a show of caring–but he just doesn’t. He doesn’t have it in him. It’s very strange to watch, especially after Bill who feels everything. Obama lacks basic empathy, and the truth is–he cares more about himself and what he wants to do. Again, he wanted to job, and now he doesn’t want to be bothered with the inconvenient tasks it requires. Maybe if they give him a free ride in the ‘copter he could be seduced to show up.

    • Yes, I have to wonder why his advisors aren’t warning him that this could be the end of his presidency. Maybe they are warning him and he isn’t listening.

      • well he has had this job for over a year, it’s time to move on. I have a feeling he liked being President elect better than being president.

        • Bingo! He already affixed his name and the seal on his basketball, his plane, his underwear I am sure. What else is there to this?
          W wanted to go to Crawford and never return – and we know how much these two are alike.

        • Maybe he should appoint himself to the Supreme Court and we could try to find someone who has a heart and soul instead of a hard drive and motherboard.

          • the man has a major superiority complex and I can not figure out where it comes from.

      • I’m reading some commentators who feel this situation isn’t Obama’s Katrina, but instead, is his Iranian Hostage situation, which made Carter look unable to cope.

        May be some truth in that, the longer it goes on.

        I just found that interesting, thought I’d share.

        • Mary, I was thinking that as well. It’s like the American hostages situation in Iran during the Carter years, because BP, a foreign company , is telling the TPOTUS what will and will not be . Carter couldn’t do anything about it when Americans were in a hostile sovereign nation. Obama won’t do anything about it when the problem is 40 miles off our shore….the US Iranian hostages were eventually freed when those behind Regan bought their freedom. They were released at 12:05 on his presidential inaugural day . Maybe Jeb will pay BP to cap the gusher on 12:05 on his inaugural day?

          • Who knows why BP seems to be doing it their way – taking their time?

            I caught this link on another site. I don’t know if “the reason for letting the oil flow” (i.e., the profitability from the use of the dispersant) is “accurate.”

            But, the relationships to NALCO – the maker of “Corexit” – only adds fuel to the fire that, once again, the corporatists still benefit from the spill, while the people lose everything.

            In 2003, the Blackstone Group, Apollo Management L. P. and Goldman Sachs Capital Partners bought NALCO.

            The original link to the story above is below (I followed the links and the conflict of interests are too big to fail):


          • The Iranian Hostage Crisis analogy has occurred to me as well.

            BTW, the Reaganoids were never held accountable for cutting a deal with the Iranians to keep the hostages until after the election in order to ensure Reagan’s victory, or for sending weapons to Iran as part of the deal. As usual, the rich and powerful and their minions need not fear being held accountable.

          • Wasn’t the weapons deal for the Hezbollah hostages during Reagan’s second term different from the deal for Iran hostages under Carter.

        • CNN is already counting the days, e.g., “It has been X number of days since the explosion of Deepwater Horizon…”

          That is reminiscent of the hostage crisis response.

          • I wish I could stop obsessing on the Oil Spill.

            In memory of those that died for us, we need to stop those that are killing us and our planet – for pure profit.

    • It rained on Obama’s parade!


      But he’s willing to “stick around for 15 minutes” to see if the rain lets up so they can continue with the Chicago ceremony. Big of him……

  3. Looking at that CBS history of skipping Memorial Day – seems they were affording the luxury to do that in their lame duck terms.
    It’s not big in my book, but I kinda see how it can be with many, especially with 2 wars still going.

  4. Memorial Day is not a political protest day either for or against a war. It is to honor the millions of men and women who have fought and died serving the nation in its armed forces. It takes a couple of hours more in the air for him to attend the services at Arlington National. It is not just conservative pundits who care. The country cares. He apparently doesn’t. For a President who has a sizable portion of the polulation who question his patriotism, this is a senseless decision.

    • but he is rebellious, no stupid middle and low class ordinary people are going to tell him, the superior “intellectual” what to do.

  5. I just returned from placing a flag on my father’s grave for Memorial Day. For my father’s generation, the idea of military service was a given and he always proudly spoke of his time as a naval helicopter pilot, working on aircraft carriers in the Pacific during WWII. He often regaled me in stories and his time in the Navy not only helped to shape him, but in other ways defined him.

    Remembering our military personnel today.

    • my father was a Navy MP in the Philippines. He was there towards the end of WWII. He was on a ship heading in to action in the Pacific when the war ended.

      • My father enlisted in the Navy right after graduating from high school in 1957. IIRC, he served a three-year hitch, most of it on the aircraft carrier Ticonderoga, as a radar operator.

  6. Thank you, Bb, for taking time out of your holiday to keep us political junkies informed.
    Much appreciated!

  7. I believe that Obama is avoiding Arlington intentionally. It is not an oversight. And it has nothing to do with being “busy” or “lazy.”

    The man has a serious problem with the country he is running. And he wishes to scold us at every turn for participating in it. That includes the dead buried at Arlington.

  8. The husband, as in mine, says this skip out on Arlington is part of this not expecting anything from your government agenda they have. We, the people, are not to expect anything from them . It could also be Obama ‘s quest to wreak the Left as well…excuse me ,the perceived Left. He ain’t Left and he’s not an intellectual. imo, he’s as much an intellectual, or even a President , as a TV news reader is a reporter. Not really, but they play on on TV.

    • Well said. Obama can read a teleprompter. That’s the extent of his talent…and his interest in America and Americans.

      • If he really could read a teleprompter he’d do it without the head jerks to – the – left – and – back – to – the – right.

  9. Not one word on the Confluence or Corrente about Israel’s abominable behavior in the seas off Gaza. There is some truth coming out on D.U. and Kos, but the moderators there will (I have no doubt) soon put censorship into effect.

    The difference between you people and Moulitsas is…what?

    We all know how beloved Hillary will react. Will you dare to criticize her inevitable whitewash of Israel’s actions? I doubt it.

    Yes, I know that you will censor this comment. By all means: Prove my point.

    At least my conscience is clear. I always spoke boldly, and consequences be damned. Most others in blogworld are damnable cowards.

    • Fuck off, Joe – you have your own blog, go post whatever you want to say there.

      • BTW – the last time we blogged about the I/P conflict we caught hell for defending YOU from accusations of anti-semitism.

    • Um, wow. Your timing is almost as impressive as your narcissism, there Giuseppe.

    • Then start blogging again if you see a hole in the reporting or start offering links here. I doubt you would be censored.

      But just to whine and throw accusations that a Memorial Day Thread isn’t jumping on the I/P story basically breaks your own blogging rules. 😉

    • Damn. Did we forget to check the assignment board again?

    • There IS no truth on DU or KOS, Joseph.

      Just 11 dimensional spin to make sure nothing ever makes Obama look bad.

      Didn’t read any more of your post after your assumption about DU and “truth.”

      Sorry if that hurts your feelings.

  10. Peter Maar’s an idiot for saying that Obama’s critics don’t understand he’s going to the National Cemetary in Chicago instead. That’s fine, but the point is people who’ve lost loved ones who feel like they need or want to see the President were going to assume he’d be at Arlington and make their plans accordingly. It’s nice for people in Chicago who get an unexpected bonus, but not so nice for people all across the country who traveled there with that intent. And the fact that he’s in superb company with Dubya, Cheney, Bush, and Reagan is swell, but….

    • Peter Maar’s an idiot for saying that Obama’s critics don’t understand he’s going to the National Cemetery in Chicago instead…

      Exactly. He’s not the supposed President of Chicago..even though he seems to think otherwise.

    • I know. When did patriot become a bad word, loving your country become an embarrassing notion, and contempt become more cool than dissent. Never a question with Hillary.

  11. One last thing.

    Anyone, does anyone know what area this picture, taken from a commercial airline, could be capturing?

    Is this what the dispersant was breaking up? I found this “BP protest: fb site following a link on the dispersant story.

    Why didn’t the media show us this – or did I miss it somewhere?

    I am also conflicted about “protesting BP”. The Gulf Region is going to need every dime that they take out of the Gulf – since the oil may be the only thing left of “value”.

    • I am also conflicted about “protesting BP”. The Gulf Region is going to need every dime that they take out of the Gulf – since the oil may be the only thing left of “value”.

      Well see the folks who live there and who will not see any vaule or a dime from the oil that will be the only thing of vaule left, are protesting the destuction of thier lives.

      • I hear you on that. I wish we had a government that we could rely on to seize BP’s assets and give them to the people, instead of to the BP’s controlling our government.

        I am in protest of BP’s actions, channeling my actions is what is in question for me.

  12. I couldn’t believe (msnbc) Nora O’Donnell’s interview this morning. She had Simon Denyer, Washington Bureau Chief on, and inquired about all the critiicism Obama has been taking over the spill. He says the people of Louisiana don’t even know what to! Great point she said. Meanwhile the people of Louisiana are protesting and their is a big uprisings going on.

    Any other president would have declared this a national disaster. O Bows Out, just like he did at the Lincoln National Cemetery.

  13. IIRC, Obummer said at one point that he would be content to be a one-term president.

    Maybe he actually means that, and so truly doesn’t care if this makes him look bad?

    Or is he actually that tone-deaf politically? If yes, that makes it all the more certain that his election was the result of Corporate Media bias in his favor, primary chicanery, and a lucky-for-him economic downturn right before the general election. Since he was and is Wall Street’s man, that last may not have been luck. 😡

  14. Speaking of Iran, William Pfaff wrote in his 1993 book The Wrath Of Nations:

    “Three centuries of foreign interference had by the 1960s produced a condition of something like political paranoia among Iranians, who were convinced that they had lost all control over their own destinies.” (pp. 128-9, Touchstone paperback edition)

    (1993, Simon and Schuster) (Touchstone is an S&S imprint.)

    I find myself feeling that way about my country now. However, in the USA, the dominators are mostly not foreigners, but our own predatory, irresponsible misruling class.

  15. Horrors! If Rs and Ds are marginalized, “special interests” might prevail. I can’t wait.

    SACRAMENTO, Calif. — In another blow to the political status quo, Californians will vote June 8 on a ballot initiative that would scrap the primary system for state and congressional elections. Instead, voters could cast ballots for any candidate regardless of party affiliation, with the top two vote-getters advancing to the general election.

    The result could be two candidates from the same party or two well-funded candidates. Proposition 14 is patterned after a slightly different top-two system in Washington state that has been in place since 2008.

    Proponents of Proposition 14, such as Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado, argue that the change would benefit moderates who often stumble in primaries where party activists have an oversized say in the outcome.

    Understandably, the political parties oppose the idea, fearing a loss in clout. That’s created an odd alliance in which Republicans and Democrats have joined to try to defeat the measure.

    The two parties argue that if their organizations are marginalized, special interests will fill the void.


    • Thanks. This is interesting. Should be good for third party candidates who can also appeal to a broader base in the general.

    • CA already voted for open primaries and they took it away.

      Wonder how long this version will last?

    • Granted the parties don’t care about fairness, but then again, conservatives have always loved non-partisan elections because in the absense of party affiliation, voters tend to vote on name recognition, providing a huge advantage to the richest candidates. Take away the party labels and add in some carefully crafted generic sounding slogans, and you get busy people tricked into voting for people they’d never in a million years and more Obamas. It’s like open primaries, once you take away the rights of Dems and Greens etc, to select their own candidates, you get Repubs who don’t even have to go to the trouble of registering as Dems for a Day deliberately manipulating the process to try and select candidates they can beat.

      • “California Republicans will shift to caucus system if open primary initiative passes”


        Sigh…..one thing I did enjoy about CA is that we didn’t have the caucus system. From afar, it always looked like a huge clusterfu*k….even without 2008.


        • lets the repubs have the caucus system. in texas at the state convetion i my resolution passes . whe ever wins the primary get all if texas dels all 222 of them and we be rid if that crazy texas 2step .

        • Uh oh. That’s not good. We have the top-two primary here in WA state, but we also have caucuses. The caucuses always get gamed, and the voting is not democratic. But the ’08 caucuses were so bad I doubt I’ll go again. Unless HRC is running.

        • Which is so ironic, considering both parties are always trying to kneecap primary candidates because they’re supposedly not going to do as well in the general as someone else. You’d think opening up the primary would do that work for them, they should be happy. 😉 Idk, it just seems like all of these proposals sound good in theory but The parties and their cronies can always find angles and loopholes and agendas and unforseen consequences to exploit so they maybe end up making the problems worse.

  16. “It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived.”
    – General George S. Patton, Jr

    • Yes, Memorial Day remembers our men and women. Patton is not someone I admire.

  17. May 31, 2008 – PUMAs Never Forget!!

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