SocraticGadfly: 5/30/10 - 6/6/10

June 04, 2010

Team Obama knew about BP video all along

Even clearer evidence of Team Obama and it's treating Deepwater Horizon as a PR issue first? Long before the Administration finally "forced" BP to release its underwater video of the oil spew, the government knew all about it.

Let that sink in.

So, should AG Holder criminally investigate Coast Guard Adms. Mary Landry or Thad Allen? Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano? Interior Secretary Kenny Boy Salazar? (Yes to that last one, on other grounds.

Team Obama joins BP in lying?

One day after a shallow water drilling application was OKed, the administration appears to have a moratorium on further such drilling, while fibbing about there being a moratorium:
Meanwhile, the Minerals Management Service stopped issuing permits for new oil and gas drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, even as an administration official denied a formal freeze on drilling in shallow water.

"There is no moratorium on shallow water drilling," said Kendra Barkoff, a spokeswoman for Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. "Shallow-water drilling may continue as long as oil and gas operations satisfy the environmental and safety requirements Secretary Salazar outlined in his report to the president and have exploration plans that meet those requirements."

Barkoff's comments appeared to contradict an e-mail sent out earlier in the day by a top official in the Gulf Coast office of the Minerals Management Service, the federal agency that oversees offshore drilling.

Michael J. Saucier, regional supervisor of field operations for the MMS Gulf of Mexico region, told a company seeking a permit that "until further notice" no new drilling is being allowed in the Gulf, no matter the water depth. A copy of the e-mail was obtained by The Associated Press.
Obama appears to be trying to still run this like a PR operation. And, it's one where clearly not everybody in his administration is on the same page.

Even clearer evidence of Team Obama and PR? Long before the Administration finally "forced" BP to release its underwater video of the oil spew, the government knew all about it.

Let that sink in.

So, should AG Holder criminally investigate Coast Guard Adm. Mary Landry? Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano? Interior Secretary Kenny Boy Salazar? (Yes to that last one, on other grounds.

That said, that's another reflection that we are now a nation of 310 million people. It's not just government bureaucracies; it's not just bureaucracies in general; it's a country that's this size is going to be "lumbering" in more and more ways, or at least potentially so.

Jan Brewer has a sun-baked Arizona crime rhetoric

Will Obama say "enough" to Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer's overheated rhetoric on illegal aliens and crime? The border is safer than much of urban America, overall:
The top four big cities in America with the lowest rates of violent crime are all in border states: San Diego, Phoenix, El Paso and Austin, according to a new FBI report. And an in-house Customs and Border Protection report shows that Border Patrol agents face far less danger than street cops in most U.S. cities.
That said, Austin isn't a border city. Anyway, Tucson's violent crime rate is not much higher than that of Phoenix? And, stereotypes of violent crime leaking from Nuevo Laredo to Laredo aside, it's "OK," too. All of those cities are much safer than Dallas, for example.

Is Obama playing immigration politics with Arizona?

It sure looks that way.

He's trying to get SCOTUS to overturn the state's theoretically powerful, but almost never enforced, law that lets the state yank business licenses of companies that knowingly employ illegal immigrants.

That despite the fact it relies on an express Congressional 'loophole' from 1986 and was upheld by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

That all said, somebody should ask immigration law fearmonger Kris Kobach, who authored SB1710 for the Arizona Lege, why the state isn't enforcing it.

June 02, 2010

Steve Rattner: Obama bailout czar and financial leper

This is the guy Steve Benen at Washington Monthly gives so much credence to, when the guy is clearly self-serving.

And, "civilly offensive," to pun away on his pre-GM bailout chicanery.

He refuses to accept a civil sanction barring him from securities trading for three years. The fact that he faces such sanction makes you wonder how much he's condoned "good GM's" smoke-and-mirrors effort in paying off the government.
Mr. Rattner’s former firm, Quadrangle Group, paid $12 million in fines to settle with state and federal officials in April, but Mr. Rattner was left out of that agreement because he would not accept the S.E.C.’s proposal that he be barred from working on Wall Street, people briefed on the case said. ...

Quadrangle has rebuked Mr. Rattner’s conduct in unusually harsh terms, calling it “inappropriate, wrong and unethical.”
And, he also has a book coming out about his alleged "savior" efforts.

Steven Rattner, "civil criminal."

And, Steve "Party Line" Benen at Washington Monthly, willingly gullible putz on Rattner.

If AG Eric Holder wants to start new criminal investigations, I can suggest one, I think.

BP: 50 percent is really 10 percent, right?

BP's latest attempt to shut off the Deepwater Horizon gush has not the greatest chance of success:
After several failed attempts to divert or block the well, BP's latest attempt involves cutting the broken riser pipe, making it spew as much as 20 percent more oil into the water for days while engineers try to position a cap over the opening.

Eric Smith, an associate director of the Tulane Energy Institute, said the strategy had about a 50 to 70 percent chance to succeed. He likened it to trying to place a tiny cap on a fire hydrant.
So, if it doesn't work, the 20 percent increase in the gush will be permanent? Adding yet more plumes to the already existing ones BP claims don't exist.

Ultimately, we have to look at BP's claim it can shut off the Deepwater Horizon gush with relief wells, by August. Is that believable? It took 10 months to shut off the huge 1979 Mexican well blowout. Yes, technology has advanced in 31 years, but that was a shallow-water well.

So, instead of two months, should we say four? Six? Or like Mexico 1979, 10 months? And, 10 months of a gush increased by 20 percent?

So, Obama wants a criminal probe of BP?

First, will this vaunted probe lead into Minerals Management Service as well as BP? If so, will it lead not just to career staff, but anybody appointed after Obama and Kenny Boy Salazar took over?

Answer: Not likely. DOJ will have a tough time proving criminality on BP's part. MMS won't get a look at, lest post-Obama MMS actions come on the radar.

Second, will Obama ask the Securities and Exchange Commission to get involved as well as Justice?

Answer: Not likely. That would mean that this was something serious, not just grandstanding.

Let's start with BP's claim it can shut off the Deepwater Horizon gush with relief wells, by August. Is that believable? It took 10 months to shut off the huge 1979 Mexican well blowout. Yes, technology has advanced in 31 years, but that was a shallow-water well.

A lie, if not under oath, is not criminal in the legal sense, but you know it is. So, is this another lie by BP to prop up its ever-fading stock value?

Seriously, if everybody knew it would take, say, 6 months not 2 for BP to fix this, and knowing this is affecting the U.S., not Mexico, unlike 1979, with attendant lawsuits, etc., where would you price BP's stock at? Ten bucks? Right in the heart of ExxonMobil or Shell takeover territory? Or by CNOOC or another Chinese oil company? Of course, if the suits and claims get thick enough, that could actually lessen BP's desirability as a takeover target.

In light of this, I think Robert Reich is right: We need to freeze BP's assets, at the least.

Third: That all said, a criminal probe is not the same as an incompetency probe. From President Obama through Rep. Ed Markey, the incompetence of Democratic elected officials in believing BP in specific and Big Oil in general also needs to be probed but probably won't be.

Answer: Of course not.

June 01, 2010

Israel is in the wrong, in a complex situation

First, Israel's worries about ending the Gaza blockade and thereby allowing missiles into Gaza is at least somewhat realistic.

Second, don't forget the blockade also involved the agreement of Egypt (which has temporarily reopened its land border).

That said, the attack was in international waters, therefore is arguably an act of war.

But, yes, Israel will probably get away with it. To riff on Pat Buchanan, not only American Jews, but the Amen corner (or should we now call that the Palin corner?) is already gearing up. The Team Obama is certainly not the A-Team on this; don't forget Zionist apologist aka Obama Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and his butt-kissing of American rabbis last month.

The bottom line on this issue DOES go back to Bush. We were al for democracy n the Middle East, until a free election put Hamas in power.

'Race to the Top' is missing something?

And that is, if the current "top" is not just better U.S. schools, but is comparing ours to those of other Western democracies, then why aren't we actually trying to learn from them?

Do schools need reforming? Yes, I would agree. I would agree that Race to the Top is stimulating some good ideas.

But, maybe we do need to look elsewhere, too.

Why aren't we studying what we can learn from Europe, Japan and South Korea? Like longer school years, in exchange for more spending on public schools? (We may be the world's No. 1in education spending, but that's driven in part by our huge lead in collegiate and graduate school budgets. On K-12 spending, we barely crack the Top 20.)

That said, the states who pulled out of Race to the Top due to "local control" concerns are part of the problem, not the solution.

May 31, 2010

LinkedIn, a potential big #fail?

Is LinkedIn in danger of becoming the latest good idea on the Internet to get hit by the Internet's biggest failings? While it may be good for extending personal networking, the job board sites are a different matter. They say "no spamming, for jobs only," but ... is a work at home offer for $800/month or more a real job? Is blogging for the Examiner, Suite 101, etc., a real job? Will LinkedIn crack down?

The answer is probably not. And, more people will get frustrated over its job boards.

Do we need to talk about "Big Salt"?

Maybe, like Big Tobacco, Big Pharma, Big Ag, Big Oil and a few others, we do. With Cargill telling people last November to even sprinkle salt on ice cream and cookies, we do.

All the tactics appear drawn from Big Tobacco, the master of such obfuscation. Denial. Delay. Blaming the public and more.

Read the whole story, as well as reading all your food labels, of course.

Peggy Noonan is a major leaguer

A .333 batting average is major-league level, including for Peggy Noonan, who calls Deepwater Horizon President Obama's third political crisis.

Wrong; it's his first. (You might wish it was his third, but, even in the Bizzaro world of the WSJ op-ed section, wishing don't make it so.)

Health care reform was a political win for Obama, of course, contrary to you, Nooners. That said, Obama almost made it become a crisis, including the Scott Brown win in Massachusetts. (If Coakley won, we might STILL be in a House-Senate conference room or something, no closer to health care reform of any sort, so Brown's win might have even been a blessing in disguise for The One.)

Illegal immigration? Not a crisis yet, at least. It may be a boon, if it locks in Hispanics in New Mexico, Colorado and Nevada. Given that those last two states will likely each pick up an electoral vote, that's a bit better, even.

So, big fail, Nooners.

That said, depending on how a climate bill, and other regulatory issues, play out, Obama may transform Deepwater Horizon out of crisis for him.

Or he may not.

May 30, 2010

Why the financial reform bill isn't reform -- Obama?

First, it is reform only by "the soft bigotry of low expectations." In reality, it ain't close.

Problem No. 1, of course is that President Obama has never seriously weighed in on either house's version of this bill, other than to talk about regulations he sees as too prohibitive.

Considering what everybody except dyed-in-the wool Obamiacs will admit, that Wall Street tilted strongly Democratic in 2008 presidential election giving, and was a primary reason Obama, after a sufficient feint to the clueless/naive John McCain, was able to opt out of public campaign financing.

One wonders if he's not pushed for a stronger bill for exactly that reason, for 2012?

Actually, I don't wonder. I'm pretty sure.

Anyway, for a more humorous, yet still serious look, at all that's wrong with the "reform," go here.

FB privacy lies refuted

Gen Y is actually MORE careful with social media privacy than the general population:

BP, open-heart surgery, Ed Markey

Considering Big Polluter did shortcuts on drilling Deepwater Horizon, do we really trust them to do "open-heart surgery" on their own cheating failure?

That's a big negatory there. Especially since Blossoming Plumes can't guarantee even this will contain all the oil.

And Ed Markey trusted BP before?
>>There is particular acrimony that BP's initial estimate of the leak at 5,000 barrels of oil a day dramatically understated the scale of the flow, which is now put at 12,000 to 19,000 barrels a day. Ed Markey, the Democratic chairman of a Congressional energy committee investigating the disaster, said BP was "either lying or they were incompetent".<< Gee, Ed, it took you now to believe BP might be lying? While you're at learning the truth, can you give us a tougher carbon-control bill than you did earlier this year? Meanwhile, a nutbar like David Vitter draws the wrong analogies after the blowout.

No, the Deepwater Horizon is not like a plane crash in general. Rather, it's like the Polish government's disastrous plane crash, where you learn the lessons of not flying a 40-year-old plane model, not letting passengers in the cockpit and other things.

Technology doesn't always win

That's especially true with the BP/Deepwater Horizon oil gush, but not just there. In fact, I even have a blog tag, "Salvific technologism," for posts on this issue.

The belief, by political alignment, is strongest among libertarians. It may be a bit stronger among the GOP mainstream than the Democratic one, but I'm not sure about that, even.

Greens distrust a lot of tech advances, some rightfully so, many others not. Some of the distrust is due to exposing ungrounded beliefs in the salvific power of technology, others for other reasons, less realistic.

Hard core paleoconservatives? Not sure about them.

Meanwhile, speaking of misgrounded beliefs, and why I don't think there's much difference on this issue between the mainstream of the two main political parties, even Carol Browner, Obama's environmental advisor and not a slouch in the green world, can't explain why the administration didn't assume a worse "worse case scenario than it actually did.

If we get one benefit, besides a carbon bill, out of this mess, maybe it will be the loss of such facile beliefs.

BP blow WORSE than Katrina for Obama?

That's the take of Frank Rich, who may well be right. It's similar to a theme I've sounded, that the Obama Administration has had a theme of technocratic neoliberal government competence, and it's all blown to hell over Deepwater Horizon.

Rich is also the first mainstream liberal media commentator to say what's up with no press conferences for nearly a year.

Meanwhile, how bad is the mix of oil and Corexit? This bad.