SocraticGadfly: 5/23/10 - 5/30/10

May 29, 2010

A-stan airstrikes killing mainly civilians

So, instead of reviewing one particular drone strike for killing 23 Afghan civilians, Gen. McChrystal, why don't you and Obama review the whole program? As well as conventional bombing by manned planed?

BP keeps on lying and failing

The lying? The company had concerns about the Deepwater Horizon well nearly a year ago. But, that's not what officials indicated to Congress. Next question: Will Congress put BP's asshats under oath next time they speak? If not, then Congress is part of the problem, right?

It's getting so bad that, per a great AP enterprise story, BP won't even give a straight answer about why it lied in the past about things such as the rate of gushing.

The failing? BP's "junk shot" (how about shooting in Tony Hayward's "junk"?) doesn't seem to be working. Don't hold your breath on the "top kill," either:
The technician working on the project said Saturday pumping had again been halted and a review of the data so far was under way. “Right now, I would not be optimistic,” the technician (said).
Glenn Greenwald, with whom I agree on a lot of things, is only half right on this issue. It's true that there's not a whole lot Team Obama can do right now, post-blowout. But, so far, he's failed to devote any of his columns/blogs to how bad a choice Kenny Boy Salazar was to head Interior, just how little work Salazar did to truly clean house, not just at Minerals Management Service but across Interior, and more. He's also failed to look at how much or how little of an environmentalist Obama might really be, beyond the "green jobs" angle, which he really hasn't done much for anyway.

Glenn, this is the DOI, and the Administration, that was so willing to trust such a blatant liar as BP when it first signed off on expanding offshore drilling. What's so hard to get about why Team Obama has been a #fail precisely because it was a pre-blowout #fail? So, there's nothing much it can do now; defending Team Obama on that grounds is like defending it for not being able to shut a barn door after all the horses escaped, when many people knew that was a good possibility before the horses escaped.

C'mon, Glenn, you can do better.

Obama wants to widen the war AGAIN!

The U.S. has a secret (well, not any more!) plan to attack the Pakistani Taliban. Unilaterally!

That's worse than Bush. It's bat-shit crazy! And, it doesn't ask why some Pakistanis might be tempted to make a terrorist attack on us, like —


Talk about a self-fulfilling prophecy, or self-fulfilling stupidity, or whatever.

May 28, 2010


That's a scary thought. But, some investors and oil analysts are saying that BP may lose so much market value over Deepwater Horizon that either ExxonMobil or Royal Dutch Shell considers making a play for it.


That's a scary thought. But, some investors and oil analysts are saying that BP may lose so much market value over Deepwater Horizon that either ExxonMobil or Royal Dutch Shell considers making a play for it.

Atlantic signs of global warming

More global warming, more hurricanes this year?

Everybody's talking about NOAA's prediction of about 18 Atlantic named storms this year, with at least eight of them hurricanes. But, lost in the news, perhaps, is the why:
In April the average temperature in the tropical North Atlantic was 1.38 Celsius degrees above average, or about 2.5 Fahrenheit degrees, by far the largest anomaly ever recorded.

That is significant, said Fred Schmude, a forecaster with the Houston-based private weather company ImpactWeather, because scientists have tracked these waters for 62 years.

In those 744 months, the recorded value has exceeded the long-term average by 1 or more Celsius degrees just five times. Three of those five times have occurred in February, March and April of this year.

“Not only are we breaking records, but we are shattering them,” Schmude said.
So much for Faux News' now-disproven global cooling claims during this winter's big East Coast snowstorms.

Yes, part of this is cyclical. But, the highs are hitting new high spots. That's not just a cycle.

May 27, 2010

MMS head - is she the "ceremonial" firing over Deepwater Horizon?

Just-departed Minerals Management Service director Elizabeth Birnbaum - resigned on her own or fired? I say fired; that's what some Congressional Democrats seem to think.

I say fired, but, allowed to look like she resigned. The One and Kenny Boy Salazar probably talked personally on this, despite WH denials of knowledge.

And, made to look like the fall gal:
Birnbaum was appointed last July by Salazar after serving as staff director for the Committee on House Administration, the panel that manages legislative branch agencies. Before that, she was vice president for government affairs and general counsel for American Rivers, where she directed advocacy programs for the nation's top river conservation organization until 2007, according to her biography page on the MMS website.

She previously worked at the Interior Department from 2000 to 2001 as associate solicitor for mineral resources, supervising a staff of attorneys that provided legal advice and developed regulations for the MMS, according to her bio page.

Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, said Birnbaum's departure "does not address the root problem."

"She has only been the public face of MMS for 11 months and the most serious allegations occurred prior to her tenure," he said in a written statement. "This might on the surface be a good start but must not be the end game."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said at a news conference Thursday that "there has to be a systematic change there. More than just personnel."
Indeed. Unless she was given an express directive from above, i.e. from Kenny Boy, she had no reason to start that work, as in making a real overhaul of MMS.

So, she had a decent enviro background. Not too bad, right? She had a late-Clinton Era MMS bit of a ride. So, she knew something about MMS operations, right? Certainly on the legal said.

That said, that one's a "could be good, could be bad," scenario. Remember, it was the Slicker's (pun intended?) administration that started "loosening up" MMS, and well before Georgie Porgie's 2000 "election." It was 1997-98 when this started, at the same time Slick Willie started really entering his neolib blooming, as shown by most all his financial brains pushing for the Glass-Steagall dismantling, etc.

So, Birmbaum may have been Kenny Boy Salazar's choice precisely because she wasn't a boat-rocker.

That said, Obama's comments on Deepwater Horizon sure sounds like Bush on Katrina.

Is Deepwater Horizon Obama's Katrina?

Far be it from me to give too much credence to Faux News. But, it's not that far from it.

So, in that mind, if this is Obama's Katrina, then here's five questions for him to answer at his presser.

As to Question No. 5? Nope, nobody's getting fired, because that removes a "buffer" for him.

May 26, 2010

Obama, NBA, prognostication?

President Obama had better hope his NBA prognostications about the Lakers are better than BP ones. Among other things, Dear Leader, the Tinseltown Team has to GET TO the NBA Finals before it can win it.

John Yoo smokes crack — for Obama, or what?

The legal thugmeister behind the worst of BushCo's anti-civil liberties actions has written a howler of a NYT op-ed. In it, he claims that President Barack Obama's Supreme Court nominee, Elena Kagan, wants to cut back on executive power.

Yes, you read that right.

The whole thing is classic Yoo. Among the whoppers?

The claim that Congress cannot retake any degree of control of a federal agency from the president.
In her law review article, Kagan also lauded Supreme Court holdings that Congress can prohibit presidents from firing subordinate officers, which effectively prevents the president from giving orders. This would place the executive agencies under the political thumb of the legislative branch. “I acknowledge that Congress generally may grant discretion to agency officials alone,” Ms. Kagan wrote, and “the president must respect the limits of this delegation.”

Under this approach, Congress could free the Justice Department, the Defense Department and any other agency created by Congress from presidential control. To be fair, Ms. Kagan thinks this would be a bad idea. ...

This is simply wrong. Article II of the Constitution vests in the president alone “the executive power” of the United States. As Justice Antonin Scalia wrote in his dissent from the court’s 1988 decision upholding the constitutionality of the Office of the Independent Counsel, “this does not mean some of the executive power, but all of the executive power.” (His argument was proved prescient in 1999 when Congress let the law authorizing the independent counsel lapse.)

From the time of George Washington, presidents have understood Article II to grant them the authority to hire and fire all subordinate officers of the United States, and hence command their activities, even though the Constitution mentions only the power to appoint, not to remove.
Yoo conflates several different issues of federal agency action here. On the officers' issue, SCOTUS eventually ruled the 1867 Tenure in Office act unconstitutional, and he knows that.

On oversight issues, though, Congress has, and always has, the power to oversee executive agencies, or even the president. Thomas Jefferson, even, dropped his claims to executive privilege when confronted by Congressional demands for papers.

But, that's just one sample. Read the whole thing.

Why doesn't Obama fire Kenny Boy Salazar?

Short answer: He needs a scapegoat.

Coming from an oil-and-gas state, and knowing MMS problems with former Interior Secretary Gale Norton, like him, being from Colorado, it's clear that Salazar knew a housecleaning was needed.

But now, we have a report by MMS's acting inspector general, that she deliberately sped up and made public:
The report began as a routine investigation, the acting inspector general, Mary Kendall, said in a cover letter to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, whose department includes the agency.

"Unfortunately, given the events of April 20 of this year, this report had become anything but routine, and I feel compelled to release it now," she wrote.
Meanwhile, Kenny Boy pretends to be amazed:
Salazar called the latest report "deeply disturbing" and said it highlights the need for changes he has proposed, including a plan to abolish the minerals agency and replace it with three new entities.
The report "is further evidence of the cozy relationship between some elements of MMS and the oil and gas industry," Salazar said Tuesday. "I appreciate and fully support the inspector general's strong work to root out the bad apples in MMS.
Now, did he have a heads-up? Is Kendall speeding release to CYA for him? Anything and everything is possible.

Meanwhile, the Department of Justice is investigating BP, in what may become a criminal investigation.

How will Kenny Boy handle this? If MMS people are deposed, and it's clear that MMS had the same-old, same-old attitude after Jan. 20, 2009, and after his swearing in?

May 25, 2010

The easy way to measure the Deepwater Horitzon blowout?

Measure the methane part of the gush. I'll bet BP knows this one, too, and won't fess up.

Why does North Dakota get bigoted?

Bigoted against people who want to express their freethinking on personalized license plates? I smell, and hope for, a big fat lawsuit here. (Now, if somebody in Texas would just do this, if they haven't already.)

Obama expands undeclared war

Only now, as a September directive comes to light, it's with real humans from Special OPs, and not Predator drones.

And, real humans can be seized, held for ransom, or stuffed in shitholes that will make Bagram look like a Holiday Inn. And, because Obama himself has insisted on expanding Bush's violations of the Genevas, he'll have no room to complain if that does happen.

Obama is now sweating BP bullets

And, short of impounding BP bank assets, realizing his administration is currently up an oil gusher without a paddle.

Of course, this is part of how Minerals Management Service is so effed up.

But, the information about MMS's nefariousness about BushCo made numerous headlines. Why Obama assumed it was really regulating offshore drilling, I don't know.

This, as I have said before, ultimately becomes an issue ofhis competency and management. And, so far, that's a fairly big fail.

Hey, neolib Obama-hugger Josh Marshall ... remember when you called me a "#fail" by e-mail response to my criticism of you saying Obama was on top of this 3 weeks ago?

Well, he's a #fail and so are you! Sadly for the Louisiana coast.

May 24, 2010

Obama-Salazar lies for BP continue

First, it's clear, and becoming clearer by the day, that Interior Secretary Ken Salazar flat-out lied in talking about how the Administration had put the kibosh on new offshore oil drilling after Deepwater Horizon:
“We’re also closing the loophole that has allowed some oil companies to bypass some critical environmental reviews,” he added in reference to the environmental waivers.

But records indicated that regulators continued granting the environmental waivers and permits for types of work like that occurring on the Deepwater Horizon.

In testifying before Congress on May 18, Mr. Salazar and officials from his agency said they recognized the problems with the waivers and they intended to try to rein them in. But Mr. Salazar also said that he was limited by a statutory requirement that he said obligated his agency to process drilling requests within 30 days after they have been submitted.

“That is what has driven a number of the categorical exclusions that have been given over time in the gulf,” he said.

But critics remained unsatisfied.

Shown the data indicating that waivers and permits were still being granted, Senator Benjamin L. Cardin, Democrat of Maryland, said he was “deeply troubled.”
I copy such a long chunk to wonder exactly how Salazar phrased himself in Congressional testimony. That said, I don't think he was sworn in, so he couldn't have perjured himself anyway.

Beyond that, it's not just the waivers, but the projects for which they're being granted:
In the days since President Obama announced a moratorium on permits for drilling new offshore oil wells and a halt to a controversial type of environmental waiver that was given to the Deepwater Horizon rig, at least seven new permits for various types of drilling and five environmental waivers have been granted, according to records.

At least six of the drilling projects that have been given waivers in the past four weeks are for waters that are deeper ... than Deepwater Horizon.
And, while Salazar blames Congress for requiring that drilling permits be approved in 30 days, he didn't mention this:
There is also a 60-day statute of limitations on contesting the waivers, which reduces the chances that they will be reversed if problems are found with the projects or the Obama administration’s review finds fault in the exemption process.

Meanwhile, Team Obama continues to talk tough on BP while actually doing little. Don't expect that to change from the thin-skinned (even more than BushCo, I think) Team Obama.

Meanwhile, if you want to know why Team Obama is so thin-skinned, here's a look at the latest on Grand Isle, La.

Mark Twain's autobiography coming out!

He requested his 5,000 pages of notes be held for a century after his death, and we are now at that point.

If you're familiar with his take on not just organized religion, but metaphysics/belief in his later life, especially as expressed in "The Mysterious Stranger," this could be VERY readable, not to count talk about a "slut" in his life, for whom he once bought an electric vibrator and with whom he had a relationship of five years after his wife died before a falling out.

May 23, 2010

A century of BP 'fun' for Louisiana

Yep, the undersea/seafloor oil from BP's Deepwater Horizon blowout could linger, (and perhaps occasionally wash up on beaches?) ... for the next 100 years.

So, yes, Firedog Lake is right on why we SHOULD be mad at Team Obama, including the rotting fish head on this issue.

The one thing missing from the jeremiad is a call to immediately freeze all BP assets in the US, rather than just threatening to do so at some future date.

Too bad the Obamiacs who populate places like Talking Points Memo don't read, or listen to, stuff like this.

Ann Althouse defends Texas SBOE, history distortions

Under the guise of claiming a Washington Post story on the new State Board of Education standards are bad history itself made quotational errors, libertarian-dabbler ditz Ann Althouse defends the SBOE.

Well, I didn't go through all her critique, but she has two OBVIOUS problems herself:
1. On the issue of 1960s Southern Democrats and civil rights. LBJ was a Southern/Texas Democratic president who pushed for civil rights. A leading defender of civil rights on SCOTUS was Southern Democrat Hugo Black. And there were others. It's not just that this issue makes today's Dems mad, it's that it's designed to do so, via obfuscation. (And, Ann, I think you know that, but, I'm not totally sure. How does someone like you get to your status? The idea that America is meritocratic is refuted.)

2. The correctness of Venona transcripts in no way vindicates McCarthy or McCarthyist tactics. That's such an illogical "fail," even for you ...
That said, another poster nailed her in an even bigger error. The WaPost story WAS directly quoting ... from the original March meeting of the SBOE, and make that clear enough that Ann just drove past it.

And, beyond that, her stance, especially on the civil rights issue has brought all sorts of Southern "Lost Cause" supporters out of the woodwork, denying slavery was the ultimate and primary cause of the Civil War. Now, Althouse doesn't support Rand Paul's reasoning, but neither does she appear to call out these posters.