Joe Barton Retracts Apology: Being A Republican Congressman In The Pocket Of The Oil Industry Means Never Having To Stick To Having Said You’re Sorry

We know that the primary function of the Republican Party is to protect the interests of the ultra-wealthy and they know this, but they are not supposed to be blatant in demonstrating this. Joe Barton forgot this when he defended BP against what he called a “shakedown” by the Obama administration.

Barton apologized to BP for this “shakedown” to pay those who were harmed by the negligence of BP. This led to negative responses even even one Republican who realized that in such matters they should not really say what they are thinking. David Plouffe didn’t waste any time using this in a fund raising letter from Organizing for America:

When BP CEO Tony Hayward testified before Congress this morning, many expected to hear him apologize for the disaster his company has caused. Instead, GOP Congressman Joe Barton was the one saying he was sorry — to BP.

In his opening statement, Barton, the top Republican on the committee overseeing the oil spill and its aftermath, delivered a personal apology to the oil giant. He said the $20 billion fund that President Obama directed BP to establish to provide relief to the victims of the oil disaster was a “tragedy in the first proportion.”

Other Republicans are echoing his call. Sen. John Cornyn said he “shares” Barton’s concern. Rep. Michele Bachmann said that BP shouldn’t agree to be “fleeced.” Rush Limbaugh called it a “bailout.” The Republican Study Committee, with its 114 members in the House, called it a “shakedown.”

Let’s be clear. This fund is a major victory for the people of the Gulf. It’s a key step toward making them whole again. BP has a responsibility to those whose lives and livelihoods have been devastated by the disaster. And BP oil executives don’t deserve an apology — the people of the Gulf do.

Stand with us to show that the American people support holding BP accountable — and we won’t apologize for doing so.

Barton wound up retracting his apology today. I guess being a Republican Congressman in the pocket of the oil industry means never having to stick to having said you’re sorry. (Joe Barton meet Erich Segal.)

A Republican Operative Explains How The Right Wing Manipulates The Tea Parties

The tea party movements have been characterized by angry people who are ignorant of the issues and are being misled by operatives from the far right. Playboy has interviewed one of the right wing operatives who has explained how he manipulates their followers by appealing to the Reptilian portions of the brain as opposed to their logic centers. We’ve seen his type of work before:

Did you get an automated call from the sister of a 9/11 victim asking you to reelect President Bush in 2004? That was me. Did you get a piece of mail with the phrase supports abortion on demand as a means of birth control? That may have been me too.

The people the source deals with “may not read much, but they all know their Ayn Rand.” He described the “black arts” techniques used to manipulate them:

A good piece of mail gets its message across in 10 seconds. Television gives you 30 seconds, maybe. We’re playing to the reptilian brain rather than the logic centers, so we look for key words and images to leverage the intense rage and anxiety of white working-class conservatives. In other words, I talk to the same part of your brain that causes road rage.

In other words, this is a continuation of the usual right wing misinformation campaign. New York Magazine noted the similarity and questions if Democrats will be prepared to counter it:

Think Swift Boating, or the James O’Keefe ACORN project. It sounds dark the way this person describes it (“black arts” never sound particularly appetizing, unless they are practiced by Robert Pattinson), but it’s really nothing new. The question is whether Barack Obama, as head of the Democratic Party, is going to retain his frustrating coolness in the fall as these tactics are being used against liberal candidates across the country in an effort to take away the Democratic majority in Congress. No matter how rational he can be, is reason any good when it’s up against road rage?

New Blog Features & Social Media Integration

I’ve been experimenting with a few new blog features which readers might be interested in. One is the addition of tags to posts. Categories have been used since the start and will link to posts of any age but there is a limited number of categories. I’m using a wider variety of tags but for now they are limited to recent and a handful of older posts. The feature will become of greater value as more posts are tagged but for now they provide another way to find hot topics such as BP Oil Spill. There is also a tag cloud on the right margin which lists tags in use with larger fonts for more commonly used tags.

I’ve also activated Gravatars, which are Globally Recognized Avatar pictures which can be used on any participating blog. This will allow you to have a picture attached to your comments here and at any other blogs which use Gravatars. You can set up a Gravatar at this site.

A new mobile theme has been set up for those accessing the blog on mobile web browsers which will make it easier to read posts and add comments. (At present there’s one minor issue with the format. The “share or print” icons following all the posts are listed at one per line. It is only a minor inconvenience if I can’t find a fix for this. At least on my Droid it only takes a second to flip the screen past all of them to get to the comments section.)

I’m also restoring some of the Twitter integration including the Topsy widget. For those wanting to retweet a post here, the Twitter icon in the long row of social icons will use the full file name in the tweet while the icon from Topsy below it will substitute a short file name.

Most of the discussion of posts has been on Facebook the last few months. I’ve partially fixed some of the recent problems with sharing blog posts. Unfortunately it has gone back to the older problem in which it picks up text from a recent comment rather than the linked text. One work around is to cut the desired text from the post, click on the text in Facebook, and replace it with the selected text. Alternatively you can share a link already on Facebook or Networked Blogs and avoid this problem.