Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity

Wonkbook: Judge strikes drilling moratorium; Hoyer proposes deficit deal; energy meeting delayedff

mcchrystalcarpet.jpg

A federal judge ruled that that the Interior Department could not impose a moratorium on deep-water drilling, surprising the White House and throwing off their response. Meanwhile, the McChrystal hubbub (and other factors) caused them to cancel a hotly-anticipated meeting with a few dozen senators where they were expected to make their preferences on energy legislation clear. Or at least clearer.

In a speech to Third Way, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer got specific on an aggressive set of measures to fight the deficit. He called for spending cuts and tax increases, and asked Republicans to endorse a similarly balanced approach. Speaking of which, Americans don't think the stimulus worked...but they want more of it? Oh, and keep an eye out for the Business Roundtable to release its "CEO Economic Outlook" today, and the Commerce Department to give up the numbers on May housing sales.

I hope everyone enjoyed the New Pornographers show last night. Welcome to Wonkbook.

Top Stories

A judge has issued an injunction lifting the moratorium on deep-water drilling, reports Steven Mufson: "U.S. District Judge Martin L.C. Feldman said in issuing his injunction that the Interior Department had failed to show that the oil spill triggered by the Deepwater Horizon rig blowout in April meant that there was imminent danger on all deep-water drilling rigs in the gulf. By contrast, he said, the 'blanket, generic, indeed punitive, moratorium"'has clearly harmed the industry and region."

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer got specific on deficit reduction in a speech to Third Way: “On the spending side, we could and should consider a higher retirement age, or one pegged to lifespan; more progressive Social Security and Medicare benefits; and a stronger safety net for the Americans who need it most. We also need the in-depth scrutiny of defense spending that Secretary Gates has demanded...Raising revenue is part of the deficit solution, too. When President Clinton did so in 1993, he faced predictions of disaster-but he helped to unleash historic prosperity and budget surpluses for our country, and he did it without raising spending. So I’m glad that President Obama has made clear that everything, revenues included, should be on the commission’s table."

The White House delayed a meeting with Senators on energy, report Carol Lee and Darren Samuelsohn: "A White House official said the meeting was canceled for 'scheduling reasons' and has been rescheduled for early next week.…Democrats had been looking forward to the meeting with Obama as a key signal of what he's interested in accomplishing as the weeks tick away before the election."

Americans don't think the stimulus worked, yet want more, writes Daniel Indiviglio: "According to a new poll from Pew, they overwhelmingly believe that the fiscal stimulus spending didn't work. Yet, it remains the most popular method for government intervention in the economy going forward to create more jobs."

Maryland folk rock interlude: Wye Oak play "Warning".

Still to come: Senate Democrats are beginning to question Obama's pledge to hold tax rates on everyone making less than $250,000; the Business Roundtable is ending its cozy relationship with the administration; and have you heard about the worst-case scenario for the Gulf ocean floor?

Economy/FinReg

Democratic legislators reject the White House's rejection of tax increases on those making less than $250,000 a year, reports Alexander Bolton: "'You could go lower, too - why not $200,000?' said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.). 'With the debt and deficit we have, you can’t make promises to people. This is a very serious situation.' Sen. Byron Dorgan (N.D.), chairman of the Senate Democratic Policy Committee, concurred, saying, 'I don’t think there’s any magic in the number, whether it’s $250,000, $200,000 or $225,000.'"

After two months of growth, housing sales are falling again, reports Dina ElBoghdady: "The National Association of Realtors reported Tuesday that sales of existing single-family homes, townhouses, condominiums and cooperatives fell 2.2 percent, to a seasonally adjusted rate of 5.66 million units, in May from April, snapping hopes of a robust housing recovery anytime soon. Analysts surveyed by Bloomberg had expected an increase of 6 percent."

The decline is blamed on delays in mortgage applications, and uncertainty over a federal flood insurance policy: http://nyti.ms/dpi0ci

Verizon chief executive Ivan Seidenberg accused the White House of creating a "hostile environment" for investment and job growth, report Elizabeth Williamson and Darrell Hughes: "Mr. Seidenberg's comments are particularly notable because he heads the Business Roundtable, a group encompassing the chief executives of the nation's largest listed companies whose members have enjoyed frequent access to the president and his top aides.…Where the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the other big business group in the capital, has been openly confrontational with the administration, the Roundtable has until now been reluctant to criticize its policies in public."

Negotiations on the jobs bill focus on limiting aid to state Medicaid programs: http://bit.ly/c4dd7y

Tim Geithner and Larry Summers outline their agenda for the G-20 summit: "Countries must put in place credible plans to stabilize debt-to-GDP levels and set a pace of consolidation that reinforces the momentum of growth. We must demonstrate a commitment to reducing long-term deficits, but not at the price of short-term growth. Without growth now, deficits will rise further and undermine future growth."

Peter Orszag made health care cost control sexy. Christopher Beam wants his successor to do the same for deficit reduction: http://bit.ly/bYajJb

David Leonhardt notes that Ben Bernanke's caution about spurring further growth carries its own risks: "In effect, Mr. Bernanke and his colleagues have decided to accept an all-but-certain downside - high unemployment, for years to come - rather than risk an even worse situation - a market panic, a spike in long-term interest rates and yet higher unemployment. As the last few years have shown, market sentiment can change unexpectedly and sharply. Still, you have to wonder if the Fed is paying enough attention to the risks of its own approach. They do exist. The recent data on jobless claims, consumer spending and home sales have been weak."

Canadian power pop video interlude: The New Pornographers' "Use It".

Energy

The BP leak may have sparked leaks on the ocean floor, reports Joel Achenbach: "The most disturbing of the worst-case scenarios, one that is unsubstantiated but is driving much of the blog discussion, is that the Deepwater Horizon well has been so badly damaged that it has spawned multiple leaks from the seafloor, making containment impossible and a long-term solution much more complicated. Video from a robotic submersible, which is making the rounds online, shows something puffing from the seafloor. Some think it's oil. Or maybe -- look again -- it's just the silt blowing in response to the forward motion of the submersible."

The House will vote on a bill giving the committee investigating the oil spill subpoena power: http://nyti.ms/cV3UBh

The White House is endorsing a bill providing $6 billion to electric car development, reports Josh Mitchell: "The proposals include more spending for research and development of car-battery technology, aid to utilities and homeowners to build recharging outlets, and consumer tax credits to offset the higher costs of battery-electric vehicles. A bill drafted by Sens. Byron Dorgan (D., N.D.), Lamar Alexander (R., Tenn.) and Jeff Alan Merkley (D., Ore.) calls for the additional spending, and includes a provision that would establish up to 15 'development' communities to receive funds for infrastructure and other programs for plug-ins."

Documents show BP's frantic reaction to the initial rig explosion: http://nyti.ms/a4ArjZ

Mark Schmitt explains a plan to avoid regulatory failures like that in the BP spill: "After reviewing the disgraceful recent history of the Minerals Management Service, and the well-recognized phenomenon of 'regulatory capture' -- where government agencies become pawns of the industries they are supposed to regulate -- [Sheldon Whitehouse] suggested that the attorney general be given the authority to take temporary control of any government agency that has lost sight of its mission. The attorney general would be able to hire and fire, rescind or replace existing contracts, set up a plan to make sure the agency was no longer subject to 'undue corporate influence,' and then would step back."

Wake up feeling like Scottie: A Star Trek/Ke$ha mashup.

Domestic Policy

Obama is chastising health insurers for using health care reform as an excuse to raise premiums, reports Janet Adamy: "The president met with 13 insurance industry executives, including officials from Aetna Inc., WellPoint Inc., Humana Inc. and several BlueCross BlueShield plans, as well as seven state insurance commissioners. In remarks afterwards, the president said he told the attendees he understood insurers weren't the only ones responsible for sharply rising premiums. But he said insurers should justify rate increases and shouldn't use the law to drive up rates in an 'unreasonable' way, citing a proposed 39% rate increase by WellPoint's California subsidiary that was rejected."

The DISCLOSE Act could lose Mike Castle, its only Republican cosponsor, due to the NRA deal: http://bit.ly/bSYHim

The National Labor Relations Board is finally fully staffed, reports Martin Vaughan: "Brian Hayes, a top staffer on labor issues for Senate Republicans, and Mark Pearce, a veteran lawyer representing unions in employment law disputes, were confirmed to the board. Mr. Pearce has already been sworn in to the NLRB, having been appointed by Mr. Obama earlier this year in a maneuver to bypass the Senate confirmation process. With Mr. Hayes's confirmation the NLRB's five-member board will be fully staffed."

Obama wants to add 1,000 Border Patrol officers and use unmanned drones on the US-Mexico border: http://nyti.ms/ai8QrG

Eight former Solicitors General of both parties are endorsing Elena Kagan, reports Abby Phillips: "Former Solicitors General Paul Clement from the last Bush administration and Seth Waxman from the Clinton administration told reporters on a conference call Tuesday that Kagan’s experience as solicitor general gives her a working knowledge of the Supreme Court, especially important since she’s never been a judge."

Howard Kurtz argues that coverage of regulatory failures do not correct them: "Yes, the Enron and other accounting scandals of the early 2000s led to legislation, but even after the great banking collapse and the charges against Goldman Sachs, Congress is still debating legislative fixes. A series of mine collapses doesn't seem to have changed much. The Toyota accelerator deaths don't seem to have changed much. Candidates continued to run against Washington. Who, after all, trusts government anymore?"

Recipe interlude: Of course you want some summer pasta a la caprese.

Closing credits: Wonkbook compiled with the help of Dylan Matthews and Mike Shepard. Photo credit: Kevin Lamarque-Reuters.

By Ezra Klein  |  June 23, 2010; 6:28 AM ET
Categories:  Wonkbook  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Reconciliation
Next: Health-care reform getting more, not less, popular

Comments

Are you unemployed and worried? It is time to plan, With the new Health Care Plan, Government is going to insure additional 33 Million people. Survey says that there is going to be huge demand for Medical Assistants, Medical Billing, Medical Coding, Pharmacy Assistant & Pharmacy Technician across the nation at least a million. We can help you get a training during weekends and evenings and get a degree in few months. The course is easy, contact for free consultation at http://bit.ly/ah5mlu make use of this opportunity

Posted by: lisasusan23 | June 23, 2010 7:06 AM | Report abuse

No doubt the moratorium issue will be appealed/repealed all the way to the Supreme Court, where the Bush-oilmen court will finally repeal it and thereby completely neuter the US gvmt's ability to effect any and all kind of safety standards on oil rigs operating in or near US waters.

The US has become a third world, lawless country controlled by foreign and corporate interests for economic whoredom. Our step and continued decline is once again assured.

Posted by: Lomillialor | June 23, 2010 7:38 AM | Report abuse

Regarding Afghanistan, it is time we admit there is nothing more we can do there.

It is time to get out.

The Taliban was created, and is still protected by the Pakistani intel services to destabilize Afghanistan for its own self-interests.

I don't always agree with Friedman, but his column today is spot-on. We do not even have the backing of the Afghan people, only the tepid support of a corrupt and unpopular Afghan gvmt.

The correct strategy is to withdraw from Afghanistan and warn Pakistan that if any terror group within Afghanistan ever attacks the USA again, the USA will this time invade Pakistan and invite India to occupy it.

Posted by: Lomillialor | June 23, 2010 7:44 AM | Report abuse

its amazing to me that the administration thinks it can bully private industry and then say "I wonder why unemployment is still high?"

as far as him preliminarily bullying insurers AGAIN word is that increases this ocming year are right around 8% on average so that's sadly at or below medical inflation. To that end MLR's nationally SHOULD end these political stunts but they won't.


"the president said he told the attendees he understood insurers weren't the only ones responsible for sharply rising premiums"

Please let me know when he intends to meet with the AMA, Pharma and the AHA?

Oh yeah, NEVER.

Posted by: visionbrkr | June 23, 2010 7:46 AM | Report abuse

"its amazing to me that the administration thinks it can bully private industry and then say "I wonder why unemployment is still high?""

Another gem.

You seriously believe unemployment is high because gvmt bullies private industry?

Am I living in some bizzaro world where up is down, left is right, and common sense has flown the coup?

Posted by: Lomillialor | June 23, 2010 8:21 AM | Report abuse

So now we learn that Judge Feldman owns shares in TransOcean and other drilling companies. Ahh, yes. The comfort one takes in the KKKonservative rule of law and free market philosophy. Why, it's what makes AmeriKKKa great.
Thank you Judge Bernie.

Posted by: bgreen2224 | June 23, 2010 8:39 AM | Report abuse

"A federal judge ruled that that the Interior Department could not impose a moratorium on deep-water drilling"

Doesn't that sort of constitute judicial activism? I mean, I tend to agree with the argument made, and the thinking of the decision, but it's still sorta the judiciary usurping rights not granted it. However, I suppose what's good for the goose is good for the gander.

@visionbreaker: "its amazing to me that the administration thinks it can bully private industry and then say 'I wonder why unemployment is still high?'"

Are you saying micromangement of industry is why employment is still high, or that it simply has no positive effect--the latter of which I would agree with. In America. Now, in Europe, where in many cases it's practically impossible to fire someone once you hire them and many other productivity-kiling and employment-destroying regulations are in place, then that makes sense. Even under this administration, we have avoided institutionalizing the unemployment (especially youth unemployment) and general economic malaise of the European union. So far.

I do happen to believe that getting rid of the minimum wage (for, say, workers under the age of 25) would be a good idea. Because flexibility in the cost of labor would help kickstart employment (which allows for on-the-job training, the development of resumé, etc).

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | June 23, 2010 8:43 AM | Report abuse

"Regarding Afghanistan, it is time we admit there is nothing more we can do there. It is time to get out."

As long as we keep a base of operations there so we can effectively take out Taliban and Al Qaeda operatives with drones. The Obama administration has been, to my mind, extremely effective at taking out high value Al Qaeda operatives. I think we're still doing yeoman's work on that level, and the Obama administration has, if anything, improved on the efficacy of these targeted kills.

In other ways, I can understand that argument that the Obama administration is "soft on terror". But, on the ground, where the dots get connected, we seem dedicated to blowing up those dots.

But I'm not sure we're going to make Afghanistan safe for Democracy. I'd like that, but I don't know that that's going to happen. But we can still--with perhaps less manpower--kill terrorists. And it's a good place to do it.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | June 23, 2010 8:49 AM | Report abuse

This judge's ruling is of a piece with Congress's mandating that MMS process all applications in 30 days.

There really is no point in having an administration or regulations. If objective evidence - a failed blowout preventer coupled with all the major oil companies having bogus, cookie cutter 'response plans' is not enough to warrant a pause in high-risk deepwater environments.

This is insane. Coporate action trumps even the most basic common-sense environmental protection.

Posted by: RalfW | June 23, 2010 8:52 AM | Report abuse

"The US has become a third world, lawless country controlled by foreign and corporate interests for economic whoredom. Our step and continued decline is once again assured."

it certainly begins to feel that some force in this country has lost its compass.
to have this moratorium overturned by a judge, when we see the photographs of the pelicans covered with oil.
how can he be a judge?
what sanctity of life does this man uphold???

and to hear barton's apology to british petroleum, after we see the beyond heartbreaking devastation.

and to hear that hayward is released from his responsibilities, and goes to party. how is it, that he is not isolating himself, in despair over what has happened?
japanese leaders would have taken their own lives for such infamy,in past times. to have brought danger and disgrace to the people they worked for.

and now, mcchrystal, talking in the most insubordinate and unhinged way, in the midst of the war in afghanistan.
all of those years in war zones, heat and suffering must have caused him to lose his reasoning and he must be having some sort of breakdown. but he seemed repeatedly to be speaking with very bad and premeditated contempt and intent.
when he knew better, over a long period of time.
where was his judgement? in such a high position, with so many people depending on him to conduct himself through proper channels?

well, the world goes on.
and doctors and nurses have spent this past night, sleepless and helping suffering people. and teachers are going to work, and mothers and fathers took care of sleepless children last night, and soldiers are still waking up in afghanistan.....and people are cleaning the oil off of pelicans.
and people in their everyday lives are being brave and strong and helpful and patient, in difficult struggles and circumstances.
and i think we have an amazing president, who is trying so hard to thread a crooked and rusted needle, each day.
may we all find the inner strength to keep working toward the good, and helping wherever we can.
:-)
what more can we do?

Posted by: jkaren | June 23, 2010 8:54 AM | Report abuse

@kw:I do happen to believe that getting rid of the minimum wage (for, say, workers under the age of 25) would be a good idea. Because flexibility in the cost of labor would help kickstart employment (which allows for on-the-job training, the development of resumé, etc).

I don't see that this would do anything. Is $8-$10 really too much to pay workers? All this does is encourage employers like Walmart, McDs, etc. to keep kids on until 25, then start a new group of under min wage teens. Doesn't this just make employers more money and price unskilled workers over 25 out of a job? Despite, the "common sense" reasoning that paying workers less increases employment, there is no evidence that a min wage suppresses employment, especially for the very low min wage we pay in the US.

Posted by: srw3 | June 23, 2010 9:04 AM | Report abuse

Lom,

you can certainly be as condascending as you like but no I dont think that its high because they bully private industry but I believe its not getting better anytime soon because of that. Did you BOTHER to view the link about Verizon's CEO?

Verizon chief executive Ivan Seidenberg accused the White House of creating a "hostile environment" for investment and job growth.

Is there something about THAT you don't understand?

Posted by: visionbrkr | June 23, 2010 9:20 AM | Report abuse

The US has become a third world, lawless country controlled by foreign and corporate interests for economic whoredom. Our step and continued decline is once again assured.

Posted by: Lomillialor | June 23, 2010 7:38 AM | Report abuse


ANOTHER GEM!

Oh wait do you mean a "lawless country" like THIS:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/7770189.stm


Yes you're absolutely right. We should aspire to this.

Posted by: visionbrkr | June 23, 2010 9:26 AM | Report abuse

Slightly Off topic, Has anyone noticed how a lot of people in the media refer to the President as Mr. Obama? It's really starting to bug me. I mean every other president in my lifetime ( I'm in my twenties) Has always been "President Bush" or "President Clinton" even when they were being criticized. It just seems disrespectful.

Posted by: PizzaAvenger | June 23, 2010 9:27 AM | Report abuse

"Has anyone noticed how a lot of people in the media refer to the President as Mr. Obama"

Other than conservative punditry and talking heads, no. Every journalist I've heard refer to President Obama or, much less frequently, Barack Obama.

@srw3: "I don't see that this would do anything. Is $8-$10 really too much to pay workers?"

If you're in a low margin business and you're the person looking to hire, then it could be. Especially if you need low or no-skill labor.

"All this does is encourage employers like Walmart, McDs, etc. to keep kids on until 25, then start a new group of under min wage teens."

And this is bad because . . . ?

At 25, you either need to be moving into management at McDs or Wal-Mart, or moving on to another career entirely. Plus, in most cases, those companies will be paying more than minimum wage for those folks, anyway, because of the market value of medium-skilled labor. Also, if they fire them just to hire some sub-minimum wage folks, they'll get hit with increases in their contribution to unemployment insurance, and may leave themselves open to a lawsuit. Or, you could exclude organizations with more than a billion dollars in sales annually, given the goal is really to make it more affordable for small to medium sized business to hire.

"Doesn't this just make employers more money and price unskilled workers over 25 out of a job?"

If you have no skills over the age of 25, especially if you've been employed, something is wrong. But, no--it doesn't price them out of a job if there is a demand for a job to be done. Even "unskilled" jobs can be done better with experience. Or, if we're worried about it, we could just get rid of the minimum wage entirely.

"there is no evidence that a min wage suppresses employment, especially for the very low min wage we pay in the US."

I think it's a minor factor, and only a real factor when unemployment is high. When unemployment is low, then the labor market is tight, and any jobs being offered below a certain level simply wouldn't have any takers. And anyone taking those jobs would just work at them briefly, until such time as they secured a higher paying job.

When unemployment is high, the labor market may have a small group of people willing to work for sub-minimum wage, and potential employers able to pay sub-minimum wage. Those jobs don't exist with the minimum wage, so the minimum wage suppresses employment in that limited circumstance.

Also, the minimum wage can negatively impact youth employment, which does provided some real world experience for the young.

http://tinyurl.com/ycwqndl


Posted by: Kevin_Willis | June 23, 2010 9:51 AM | Report abuse

Kevin

I have a better idea, instead of using a drone base.

Simply kill all Afghan males with some kind of bio weapon.

You don't seem to understand that as we kill off high value targets, they are simply replaced with someone else, and that they have an endless supply of volunteers.

My earlier stated strategy is superior to yours, i.e., just get out now and wave a big stick at Pakistan (the real source of our problems there).

Posted by: Lomillialor | June 23, 2010 9:56 AM | Report abuse

@KW: If it only affects a small minority of businesses and people, why do it? Why is it OK to in effect subsidize employers by allowing them to cut the wages of some (young) workers?

"Congress began raising the minimum wage from $5.15 an hour in July 2007, and there are now 691,000 fewer teens working."

Cause and effect? I don't think so. Wouldn't the biggest recession since 1930 have more to do with this than a $2 difference in the lowest paid workers? The solution for teen unemployment is a better economy, not exploiting the youngest workers with an even crappier starting job. A lower minimum wage means that 2 people doing the same job will get different wages based solely on age. Can you say age discrimination? Why would employers hire full time employees over 25, when they can get lower paid young people to do the same work for less. This just penalizes unskilled workers over 25.

Posted by: srw3 | June 23, 2010 10:01 AM | Report abuse

I'm not much interested in what verizon's CEO says. What he said is absurd.

Posted by: Lomillialor | June 23, 2010 10:02 AM | Report abuse

Clinton raised the minimum wage and 33 million new jobs followed.

It is hotly debated whether minimum wage increases or decreases employment. There are studies for each POV.

It can be reasonably stated that minimum wage at WORST causes slightly negative employment factors, but can sometimes be positive when it helps reduce poverty. Also, minimum wage effects are typically drawfed by other economic variables.

Clinton's job increases and Bush's job losses weren't caused by minimum wage issues, but instead by other economic variables.

Posted by: Lomillialor | June 23, 2010 10:19 AM | Report abuse

@jkaren: "it certainly begins to feel that some force in this country has lost its compass.
to have this moratorium overturned by a judge, when we see the photographs of the pelicans covered with oil.
how can he be a judge?
what sanctity of life does this man uphold???"

You see, in this country we have things called laws, as well as this novel idea called checks and balances to prevent any branch of government from abusing their power. The president did not have legal authority to impose this moratorium, and if you actually read the legal opinion you'd see that the administration lied about the circumstances surrounding the moratorium and the opinions on their energy experts.

I know you may want things decided with emotion and think that alluding to oily pelicans is somehow relevant, but here in the real world we use the law to decide situations like this.

Posted by: ab_13 | June 23, 2010 10:29 AM | Report abuse

@ab_13: uh, well if there's an outbreak of e. coli contamination in hamburger around the country, wouldn't you agree that it would be good for the government to require a recall of that hamburger?

Opposing the moratorium on ocean oil drilling in the wake of the disaster is like wanting to keep all air traffic in the air right after 9/11.

Wait till that big underwater plume gets caught up in the gulf stream- you'll have a dead zone from FL to ME.

Posted by: Lonepine | June 23, 2010 11:03 AM | Report abuse

I'm not much interested in what verizon's CEO says. What he said is absurd.

Posted by: Lomillialor | June 23, 2010 10:02 AM | Report abuse


why do I listen to you? He employs I'd guess over 100k employees and is head of the business roundtable that employs millions.

How many people do YOU hire?

Oh forget it. I'm going back to arguing with my brick wall. that'll be easier and more productive.

Posted by: visionbrkr | June 23, 2010 11:05 AM | Report abuse

@Lonepine: "uh, well if there's an outbreak of e. coli contamination in hamburger around the country, wouldn't you agree that it would be good for the government to require a recall of that hamburger?"

If they have the legal authority to do so. And if they did not lie about the recommendations of experts when issuing their order.

Read the judge's opinion and tell me again how it was OK for them to do this:
http://online.wsj.com/public/resources/documents/drilling0622.pdf

----"Opposing the moratorium on ocean oil drilling in the wake of the disaster is like wanting to keep all air traffic in the air right after 9/11."

Of course it is! Because one drilling catastrophe means there's probably 100's more just about to happen! Anyone who disagrees is evil! Isn't hyperbole fun?

Posted by: ab_13 | June 23, 2010 11:14 AM | Report abuse

vision

Ken Lay hired a bunch of people too. And I'm supposed to subjugate my own mind to his way of thinking just because he is a CEO?

You make the mistake to assume CEO's are more special or wiser than anyone else. They often become who they are because of familial connections more than their own smarts. Also, CEO's have one agenda: profit for their shareholders. His agenda does not coincide with mine, nor I suspect yours, or the public at large

Obama quite possibly saved us from a depression, and significant economic issues are afoot and have been for years, so to suggest we should listen to some nitwit silver-spooned, agenda-driven CEO is quite silly, especially when many other people whom I respect more are saying corporate and executive greed are a large part of the current malaise.

Posted by: Lomillialor | June 23, 2010 1:03 PM | Report abuse

"I know you may want things decided with emotion and think that alluding to oily pelicans is somehow relevant, but here in the real world we use the law to decide situations like this."

Reality Check for ab_13,

Unless you (or anyone else on this thread) is a lawyer with expertise in the case law on the issues in the case, and unless you have read all the documents and heard all the testimony, you are not any more qualified to determine from reading the judge's opinion whether or not it is the best interpretation of the law.

Given that it is unlikely that any commentator on this thread has the legal expertise and the access to the arguments and evidence in the case to offer an informed legal opinion, certain questions are reasonable. Such questions would include:

Why would a judge who owns shares in oil companies, a rig operator like Trans Ocean, and other Deepwater Horizon participant entities like Haliburton not recuse himself from hearing this case?

Given the scope of the disaster, and given the fact that the undersea oil deposits are a public property that the executive branch issues leases and permits to exploit, how can the judicial branch fairly conclude that it is so very "arbitrary and capricious" for the Department of the Interior to impose a temporary moratorium on deep water drilling activity so that the government may reassess reasonable safety standards?

A devastating accident has occurred, the owners of the rig have no means to stop the ongoing damage, and clearly the existing safety mechanisms are inadequate. If you think (based on reading the judge's opinion without having heard the evdence that was presented) that the government is acting in an arbitrary and capricious manner by shutting down the other wells ~temporarily~ in order to determine how the activity can be conducted with a higher degree of safety, I would caution you not to bet the farm that the decision will withstand an appeal in a more impartial forum.

Posted by: Patrick_M | June 23, 2010 1:51 PM | Report abuse

well said patrick.

And what comes next? Judges telling the NTSB they can't ground certain kinds of airplanes for suspected safety issues because it is hurting the airline business?

Posted by: Lomillialor | June 23, 2010 2:00 PM | Report abuse

@Patrick_M: "you are not any more qualified to determine from reading the judge's opinion whether or not it is the best interpretation of the law."

And neither are you qualified, yet you seem to be willing to make a judgment on it. Do you dispute the facts that he included in his opinion, namely that the administration misrepresented the recommendations of the National Academy of Engineers? Or that they arbitrarily changed the definition of deepwater to 500 feet after all of the facts presented about drilling risks were in reference to drilling at the 1000 foot level? An excerpt from the judge's opinion:

-----"Much to the government's discomfort and this Court's uneasiness, the Summary also states that "the recommendations contained in this report have been peer-reviewed by seven experts identified by the National Academy of Engineering." As the plaintiffs, and the experts themselves, pointedly observe, this statement was misleading. The experts charge it was a "misrepresentation." It was factually incorrect. Although the experts agreed with the safety recommendations contained in the body of the main Report, five of the National Academy experts and three of the other experts have publicly stated that they "do not agree with the six month blanket moratorium" on floating drilling. They envisioned a more limited kind of moratorium, but a blanket moratorium was added after their final review, they complain, and was never agreed to by them. A factor that might cause some apprehension about the probity of the process that led to the Report."
-------

I never suggested there are not additional questions to ask about what we should do in this case. But my entire point was that we have laws, and the way to decide this is to use the legal system, so jkaren's "what about the oily pelicans!!" comment was ludicrous. It will still be ludicrous even if Judge Feldmann's decision is overturned on appeal, because the reason behind that would be "This is a better interpretation of the law," not "oily pelicans make me sad".

Posted by: ab_13 | June 23, 2010 2:18 PM | Report abuse

"And neither are you qualified, yet you seem to be willing to make a judgment on it."

No, I freely admit that I am every bit as unqualified as you are. And rather than express any opinion that the ruling is legally sound (based only upon reading the judge's self-justifying opinion), I simply raise questions (as a concerned citizen) about the judge's conflicts of interest, and the inherent right of the government that issues drilling permits to temporarily suspend such permits for the sake of public safety after 11 men are killed and an entire region's ecology is disastrously impaired, at great cost to the nation.

You have already concluded that the ruling is legally correct; I believe that the correctness of that ruling is yet to be determined by higher courts, and that reasonable questions exist about the lower court's partiality and reasoning.

The "oily pelicans" observation by jkaren speaks to the fact that many lay observers think there is a very strong case to be made that the temporary moratorium is anything but "arbitrary and capricious," one heavily invested judge's opinion to the contrary notwithstanding.

Posted by: Patrick_M | June 23, 2010 3:12 PM | Report abuse

@Patrick_M:-----The "oily pelicans" observation by jkaren speaks to the fact that many lay observers think there is a very strong case to be made that the temporary moratorium is anything but "arbitrary and capricious,"

The opinion of the layperson is irrelevant. We don't shut down entire industries based on the opinions of laypeople, nor do we shut down entire industries due to silly heartstring-tugging about oily pelicans.

-----
"No, I freely admit that I am every bit as unqualified as you are. And rather than express any opinion that the ruling is legally sound (based only upon reading the judge's self-justifying opinion), I simply raise questions (as a concerned citizen) "
-----

Please. This "I'm just asking questions" bit is disingenuous. You are clearly implying that you don't think the opinion is legally sound. You are practically dismissing the entire ruling out of hand. The supposed "conflict of interest" is about 10K in stock, and you still have not answered the question about the facts the judge gave in his opinion, instead falling back on this silly "neither of us are legal experts" BS. Do you dispute the fact that the administration misrepresented the opinion of the engineers? Do you dispute the fact that they arbitrarily changed the definition of deepwater?

-----
"You have already concluded that the ruling is legally correct"
-----

No I haven't.

Posted by: ab_13 | June 23, 2010 3:44 PM | Report abuse

"The opinion of the layperson is irrelevant. We don't shut down entire industries based on the opinions of laypeople, nor do we shut down entire industries due to silly heartstring-tugging about oily pelicans."

I agree. The courts decide, and so your opinion is every bit as irrelevant as jkaren's (or mine) in determining what will happen once the appeals process is exhausted.

Again, what you refer to as "silly heartstring pulling" is (as you know) a shorthand reference to an environmental disaster of epic proportions. If the industry is shut down, it will be because of concerns about ensuring that we do not repeat that disaster.

"Please. This "I'm just asking questions" bit is disingenuous. You are clearly implying that you don't think the opinion is legally sound. You are practically dismissing the entire ruling out of hand. The supposed "conflict of interest" is about 10K in stock, and you still have not answered the question about the facts the judge gave in his opinion, instead falling back on this silly "neither of us are legal experts" BS. Do you dispute the fact that the administration misrepresented the opinion of the engineers? Do you dispute the fact that they arbitrarily changed the definition of deepwater?"

My questions are simply questions, and I have nothing even remotely resembling a dismisal of the ruling. If to you, owning a ten thousand dollar interest in companies that will be impacted by the outcome of your decision is not grounds for self-recusal, let us know the correct dollar amount where an investment creates an appearance of conflict. In my opinion, if only for the appearance of fairness, cases of this gravity should be heard by persons that are entirely disinterested.

(to be continued...)

Posted by: Patrick_M | June 23, 2010 4:23 PM | Report abuse

(Part two of two):

You are right that I did not bother to reply to the rationale cited by the judge. Why? because I understand that in every legal opinion a judge will naturally take advantage of the freedom to cherry pick the evidence and arguments that best supports his or her opinion, and to omit argument and evidence that others might feel is equally or more weighty on the other side of the argument. This is why the Supreme Court publishes dissenting opinions, and why the reasoning in a dissent often turns out to be the more historically durable legal argument.

I certainly don't know whether the ruling will stand, but in the days running up to the hearing I have heard legal experts say that the government acted within its authority when it imposed the moratorium. As a layperson and a concerned citizen, I am puzzled by the possibility that my government could not legally temporarily suspend an activity after a disaster of this magnitude, especially given that the sea bed in the Gulf consists of public lands and resources over which the government has a duty of stewardship.

And I don't presume that when an opinion written by a lower court judge appears to be well-reasoned on its face that I have gained any significant insight into the ultimate future disposition of the case.

Posted by: Patrick_M | June 23, 2010 4:24 PM | Report abuse

-----
I agree. The courts decide, and so your opinion is every bit as irrelevant as jkaren's (or mine) in determining what will happen once the appeals process is exhausted.
-----

No, my opinion is relevant because my opinion is that the legal process typically works, and that these decisions are rightfully made based on interpreting the law, not using emotion. jkaren's opinion is that oily pelicans have something to do with it, which is a silly and immature view of the situation.

-----"what you refer to as "silly heartstring pulling" is (as you know) a shorthand reference to an environmental disaster of epic proportions. If the industry is shut down, it will be because of concerns about ensuring that we do not repeat that disaster."
-----

And that is a shortsighted and irresponsible view. There is a bad human tendency to overreact to the rare catastrophe. Terrorist attack? Stomp all over civil rights. Environmental disaster? Shut down an entire industry. Not only is that shortsighted, but it is blind to the reality that accidents are going to happen, and so you saying "ensuring we do not repeat that disaster" is terribly naive. No amount of regulations or oversight are going to prevent accidents from happening.

------
My questions are simply questions, and I have nothing even remotely resembling a dismissal of the ruling.
------

That's bull, because you go on to say:

"in every legal opinion a judge will naturally take advantage of the freedom to cherry pick the evidence and arguments that best supports his or her opinion, and to omit argument and evidence that others might feel is equally or more weighty on the other side of the argument."

So yes, you are implying that the judgment is invalid, and suggesting that Judge Feldman has behaved unprofessionally and is writing incomplete and misleading legal opinions. You won't come right out and say it explicitly but you're dancing around it and making all kinds of implications. It is a fact that the Obama administration misrepresented the positions of the engineers, and your only rebuttal of that is "it is possible that other facts exist that would mitigate this". That's equivocating BS.

-----"And I don't presume that when an opinion written by a lower court judge appears to be well-reasoned on its face that I have gained any significant insight into the ultimate future disposition of the case."
------

And neither have I. I've never speculated on whether another court will overrule this decision. But that is irrelevant. I am focusing on the facts that we have: the administration lied, and Judge Feldman ruled against them. You are relying completely on conjecture: maybe there are some other facts we don't know, and maybe another court will disagree with Feldman.

Posted by: ab_13 | June 23, 2010 6:14 PM | Report abuse

"...the reality that accidents are going to happen, and so you saying "ensuring we do not repeat that disaster" is terribly naive. No amount of regulations or oversight are going to prevent accidents from happening."

I agree that all technology can fail. I assume you agree that risk of failure can be reduced. The government argues that it has the right and the responsibilty to temporarily curtail an activity after a disaster in order to understand the nature of the event and how to minimize risks in the future. I agree that taking away civil rights is an over-reaction to a terrorist attack. However, I think the fortifying the cockpit doors on commercial jets was a prudent reaction to the 9-11 attacks, and I think there is a perfectly reasonable case ro be made that a temporary halt to offshore drilling is logical, if only to ensure that oil companies develop adequate response plans to address the worse case scenarios.

If your argument is that the judge's opinion is legally correct merely because "accidents happen," that would be equally as silly as saying the opinion is incorrect because there are pelicans covered in oil.

"So yes, you are implying that the judgment is invalid, and suggesting that Judge Feldman has behaved unprofessionally and is writing incomplete and misleading legal opinions."

No. I came right and said that I think it is best for cases to be heard by judges who have no financial interest in the companies that are impacted by the decision. Crazy talk, I know. I did not say that Judge Feldman wrote an incomplete or misleading opinion, I said that ALL judicial opinions will lean on the best evidence that supports the outcome and lean away from the evidence that does not. And I said that I don't know if the opinion is legally sound or not, because I did not hear all the argument and evidence, and I am not expert in the applicable case law.

"But that is irrelevant. I am focusing on the facts that we have: the administration lied, and Judge Feldman ruled against them. You are relying completely on conjecture: maybe there are some other facts we don't know, and maybe another court will disagree with Feldman."

We have some other facts too. We have the fact of a gazillion gallons of oil in the Gulf, no ability by BP stop the leak, numerous false filings about safety and effective disaster response, and we know that the blowout prevention technology used by BP was beyond lame. So yes, I think a higher court judge may possibly weigh all of the relevant facts and come to a different conclusion about the moratorium. Maybe that will happen or maybe not, but I do know that lower court opinions (no matter how compelling they might appear to anyone who did not hear all the evidence and argument) are not necessarily good law, and such opinions are not infrequently overturned in the normal course of judicial review.

Posted by: Patrick_M | June 23, 2010 7:04 PM | Report abuse

vision

Ken Lay hired a bunch of people too. And I'm supposed to subjugate my own mind to his way of thinking just because he is a CEO?

You make the mistake to assume CEO's are more special or wiser than anyone else. They often become who they are because of familial connections more than their own smarts. Also, CEO's have one agenda: profit for their shareholders. His agenda does not coincide with mine, nor I suspect yours, or the public at large

Obama quite possibly saved us from a depression, and significant economic issues are afoot and have been for years, so to suggest we should listen to some nitwit silver-spooned, agenda-driven CEO is quite silly, especially when many other people whom I respect more are saying corporate and executive greed are a large part of the current malaise.

Posted by: Lomillialor | June 23, 2010 1:03 PM | Report abuse


Are you LI? Let me TRY again to make this CLEARER to you. Verizon HIRES a lot of employees on a regular basis. He works with other ceo's that do the same. He said the government's current path is negatively affecting job growth. I don't care if he goes and paints himself purple and waltzes down Pennsylvania Avenue what he does and says DOES affect his employers as do the employers he works with. you can pontificate all you like but facts are facts.

You don't have to care at all about ken Lay but when he says he won't hire people because of this government AND THEN PEOPLE AREN"T GETTING HIRED. then its having an impact. Now one company has a small impact. The chamber of commerce as a whole has a much bigger one. The fact that you can't see that 1+1=2 is your own fault and no one else's.

Posted by: visionbrkr | June 23, 2010 10:24 PM | Report abuse

I don't think or even care if ceo's are more special. That doesn't matter and deviates from the facts that if CEO's fear the over-reach of government and they SAY it impacts their hiring and then they DON'T HIRE then guess what. IT DOES HAVE AN IMPACT!

Posted by: visionbrkr | June 23, 2010 10:26 PM | Report abuse

i also agree that Obama pulled us from a depression and deserves kudos for that and I've given him that. that doesn't mean I can't also fault him for KEEPING us dragging along more than we need to be.

Posted by: visionbrkr | June 23, 2010 10:27 PM | Report abuse

visionbrkr,

In my experience, no matter what rhetoric any CEO or other businessman may float in connection with the national political climate of the day from a business perspective, hiring is always the direct consequence of demand for the goods and/or services of a business beginning to exceed the ability of the workforce to meet the demand.

Verizon's CEO might believe that Obama is the business Anti-Christ, over-reaching everywhere, but if Verizon gets enough new subscribers, they will not hesitate to hire more employees. Alternatively, the most corporatist President imaginable might be seated in the Oval Office, and Verizon would not hire one more human being until demand was greater than the existing capacity to service the customers.

Job growth at Verizon will not be the result of their CEO's opinions about Obama's policies and job growth, it will instead be about how well Obama's economic stratgy actually works to restore demand in the private sector, and how successfully Verizon is able to market its own goods and services.

Posted by: Patrick_M | June 23, 2010 10:49 PM | Report abuse

-----"I think there is a perfectly reasonable case ro be made that a temporary halt to offshore drilling is logical, if only to ensure that oil companies develop adequate response plans to address the worse case scenarios."
-----

Well the engineers that the Obama administration enlisted to help them assess the situation disagreed. They agreed that some additional safety measures were necessary, but did not support a blanket moratorium. The administration then proceeded to lie about the opinions of those engineers in issuing the moratorium. You've been going on about how none of us are experts, well these guys are, and they all disagreed with the administration, so the administration lied about it. For all of your "we're not experts" rhetoric, not once have you addressed the fact that the actual experts disagreed with you and Obama.

-----
If your argument is that the judge's opinion is legally correct merely because "accidents happen," that would be equally as silly as saying the opinion is incorrect because there are pelicans covered in oil.
-----

I didn't say it was legally correct because accidents happen. I said that overreacting to disasters is a common human error. The judges opinion was based on what he viewed as an overstepping of legal bounds as well as misrepresentation of the facts of the case. You have continually refused to address this misrepresentation, which I think speaks volumes about the quality of your argument.

-----
I did not say that Judge Feldman wrote an incomplete or misleading opinion
-----

Bullshit you didn't. You said: "in every legal opinion a judge will naturally take advantage of the freedom to cherry pick the evidence and arguments that best supports his or her opinion." You clearly implied that Feldman was cherry-picking evidence and omitting other evidence to the contrary. Your dodging and weaving and equivocal language doesn't change that fact.


-----
We have some other facts too. We have the fact of a gazillion gallons of oil in the Gulf, no ability by BP stop the leak, numerous false filings about safety and effective disaster response, and we know that the blowout prevention technology used by BP was beyond lame
-----

None of which has anything to do with shutting down all other drilling. BP behaved shamefully, no one denies that. But that does not justify the Obama administration lying to force through a moratorium. If the case for a moratorium was so strong they would not need to lie about the opinions of the engineers.

Posted by: ab13 | June 23, 2010 11:05 PM | Report abuse

"You've been going on about how none of us are experts, well these guys are, and they all disagreed with the administration, so the administration lied about it. For all of your "we're not experts" rhetoric, not once have you addressed the fact that the actual experts disagreed with you and Obama."

If it somehow makes you feel better, I freely agree that the plaintiffs scored a point with that single piece of evidence. But since (like you) I did not read the briefs, hear the arguments, or consider the evidence, and since (like you) I don't know the governing statutes or case law, I will admit (unlike you) that I have no way to say whether the point scored by the plaintiffs should be controlling, or signficant, or minor, or unimportant. And (on the subject of things left unaddressed) I am still waiting for you to advise how much dollar value of stock in oil companies and rig operators a judge may hold before there is any appearance of a conflict problem.

"Bullshit you didn't. You said: "in every legal opinion a judge will naturally take advantage of the freedom to cherry pick the evidence and arguments that best supports his or her opinion." You clearly implied that Feldman was cherry-picking evidence and omitting other evidence to the contrary. Your dodging and weaving and equivocal language doesn't change that fact."

Please pay attention, and curb the profanity. I said that cherrypicking facts and argument to support the result takes place in EVERY opinion. There is nothing wrong with that. Great opinions, terrible opinions, mediocre opinions -- all will refer to the most persuasive argument and evidence that supports the ruling, and all will de-emphasize or omit argument and evidence that points the other way. The judge in this case was probably entirely sincere in his interpretation of the law. And he may be right. But that is not knowable by reading the opinion alone, and the case has really only just begun in the courts.

"None of which has anything to do with shutting down all other drilling. BP behaved shamefully, no one denies that."

That's correct and BP is among the lessees of the remaining deepwater wells. All of the other wells have an equally inadequate and misleading disaster response plan on file. And all of the other deepwater wells use safety technology that is (at best) only marginally better than what was used at Deepwater Horizon.

I totally get that you see no reason why the government might want to "hit the pause button" to look at ways to improve safety standards, and that you are therefore pleased by the judge's ruling . For many of us a temporary moratorium while a review of safety requirements is completed seems like a reasonable trade-off. Whether the courts will ultimately agree that there is legal authority to impose the moratorium is a different and still very open question.

Posted by: Patrick_M | June 23, 2010 11:42 PM | Report abuse

"If some drilling equipment parts are flawed, is it rational to say all are? Are all airplanes a danger because one was? All oil tankers like Exxon Valdez? All trains? All mines? That sort of thinking seems heavy-handed, and rather overbearing,” (Judge Feldman wrote).


Hmmm.

I will venture that one need not be a lawyer in this area of the law, or to have closely considered all the argument and evidence, in order to spot the fallacious statements in this key passage in the opinion.

1. The explosion and ensuing disaster was not merely the result of flawed drilling equipment parts. Such a statement insults the intelligence of any informed reader.

2. If the government's position was that "all" drilling equipment parts are flawed, the government would have imposed a ban, not a temporary moratorium. A moratorium, by its very nature, implies an assumption that the activity may indeed be safely conducted and that (if so) the activity will resume after prudent improvements in risk mitigation.

3. One flaw in a particular model of aircraft frequently leads to a worldwide inspection of the entire fleet before the planes are allowed back in the air.

4. There was nothing wrong with the Exxon Valdez tanker, the problem that caused that spill was the drunken pilot crashing the tanker (which also led to industry-wide changes in procedure).

If the judge displays such difficulty with facts, linear thinking, logic, and common sense, it is hard to muster ab13's enthusiastic confidence that the legal reasoning supporting the result is especially sound.

Meanwhile, families still mourn the loss of the men who died on the rig, the Deepwater Horizon oil gush continues unabated, formerly pristine white sand beaches (in a state like Florida that would not allow offshore drillng) are being fouled, wetlands and coastal estuaries are being ruined, entire coastal industries are being destroyed, entire species are under threat, and the besieged iconic brown pelicans mentioned by jkaren confront an ever-more oily & hostile environment.

"Arbitrary and capricious" to temporarily suspend the other very similar deepwater operations in order to upgrade safety measures? We'll see if the higher courts agree ... again, I would not bet the farm that this will prove to be the best and final interpretation of existing law on the subject.

Posted by: Patrick_M | June 24, 2010 1:33 AM | Report abuse

Almost forgot...

Judge Feldman:

"all mines...?"

Good lord.

A mine collapse endangers the miners who choose to work in the mine. Mine accidents do not threaten the entire ecosystem or the way of life of the population of the region.

And even mentioning the mining industry, given its own lamentable and (until now) incomparable history of extreme willful open disregard for safety of its employees, does not reassure that the deciding judge was deeply concerned about balancing the public interest against maximum and uninterrupted corporate profit.

Posted by: Patrick_M | June 24, 2010 1:56 AM | Report abuse

patrick,

you're right in the aspect that if consumer demand is there that no matter the political climate employers will invest in employees to grow their businesses. The problem is that the demand is not there and hasn't been for a long time and word is that it won't be there for several years (note interest rates keeping low for the next several years). WHen that happens an administration can be pro-business and take the initiative and lead or they can not. What is this administration doing? If businesses dont' see the demand and they had a pro-business leader in the White House then they would see the benefit (IMO) of investing for the long term. Their words mean a lot (no matter what Lom rants and raves about).

Posted by: visionbrkr | June 24, 2010 9:10 AM | Report abuse

While the rest of your comment (and most everything you've said in this entire thread) is one of the most ridiculous examples of disingenuous equivocation I've ever seen (all of this, "Hey I'm just asking questions" nonsense), I do need to call you out on this BS (I abbreviated that since your virgin ears seemed so troubled by naughty words):

"ab13's enthusiastic confidence that the legal reasoning supporting the result is especially sound."

It is laughably ironic that this is the way you characterize my opinion. All I've ever suggested is that there are some pretty clear and thus far undisputed factual problems with the case made by the administration, and this is a case of interpreting and applying the law, not one of emotion, which is why jkaren's pelican comment was childish. Did I show "enthusiastic confidence"? Did I say the reasoning was "especially sound"? Of course not. I said the judge the gave his interpretation of the law and pointed out some troubling facts about the moratorium as it was being applied. Then you came along to question the judge's credibility and integrity, and tiptoe right up to the line of saying his legal opinion was wrong, without having the backbone to actually stand strongly behind any of your implications.

-----
"Meanwhile, families still mourn the loss of the men who died on the rig, the Deepwater Horizon oil gush continues unabated, formerly pristine white sand beaches (in a state like Florida that would not allow offshore drillng) are being fouled, wetlands and coastal estuaries are being ruined, entire coastal industries are being destroyed, entire species are under threat, and the besieged iconic brown pelicans mentioned by jkaren confront an ever-more oily & hostile environment."
-----

And hey, more completely meaningless emotional appeals. Yes, a disaster happened, and many people and the environment suffered. It's a terribel tragedy, no doubt. Should we stop all deepwater drilling because of that? The experts whose opinions the Obama administration seemed to value so highly don't think so. Maybe they are wrong, but the administration sure seemed to think their opinions on the matter were pretty important. But Patrick_M on the internet, he's got sad stories about dirty sand and oily pelicans, why should we listen to the people who actually understand this industry? The pelicans are oily I tell you!

Posted by: ab_13 | June 24, 2010 10:32 AM | Report abuse

"Yes, a disaster happened, and many people and the environment suffered. It's a terribel [sic] tragedy, no doubt. ... But Patrick_M on the internet, he's got sad stories about dirty sand and oily pelicans, why should we listen to the people who actually understand this industry? The pelicans are oily I tell you!"


ab13, first you acknowledge that the consequences of a calamity at a deepwater well are a "terribel [sic] tragedy" and then you mock me for having outlined the "completely meaningless emotional appeals" of the resulting death and destruction. Guess what? The scale of the disaster, and the complete inability of BP (or any other oil company) to respond, is the most pertinent and primary fact to be considered when looking at the question of whether or not a temporary moratorium on deepwater drilling is arbitrary and capricious. The facts of the disaster may not alone be determinative of the legality of the moratorium, but they are clearly at least as pertinent to the case as your cited flaw in one element of the government's case regarding independent expert opinion.

I note again your avoidance of the question about what dollar amount of investment in affected corporations creates a concern about the appearance of impartiality. Nor have you chosen to address the obvious flaws in the judge's stated reasoning that I laid out (Exxon Valdez, mines, airplanes, etc.).

"Then you came along to question the judge's credibility and integrity, and tiptoe right up to the line of saying his legal opinion was wrong, without having the backbone to actually stand strongly behind any of your implications."

I did not (ever) question the judge's credibility and integrity, I pointed out that the ~appearance of fairness~ is better served when a judge is not personally invested in companies that are impacted by the outcome of his or her ruling. Do you disagree? I can only assume that you do, because you continue to avoid speaking to that issue. I have the "backbone" to question the common sense flaws in reasoning that I have mentioned, but (unlike you) I also have the intellectual honesty not to presume one way or the other whether the legal reasoning in the opinion is sound and likely to withstand the appeal, since (like you) I am not familiar with all of the argument and evidence or the prevailing law, nor (like you) do I have the legal expertise to weigh that all of that evidence and apply the existing law.

Posted by: Patrick_M | June 24, 2010 12:19 PM | Report abuse

"If businesses dont' see the demand and they had a pro-business leader in the White House then they would see the benefit (IMO) of investing for the long term. Their words mean a lot (no matter what Lom rants and raves about)."

visionbrkr,

Again, when the demand is there, businesses will expand and hire, and that will happen regardless of whether or not any CEO happens to hold the personal political belief that the POTUS is sufficiently "pro-business."

A CEO will always wish that any President would be more "pro-business," (just like an environmentalist will always fault the government for not being more "pro-environment") but that expression of self interest is not what drives capital investment, expansion, and job creation.

The words truly are meaningless, what matters is the actual condition of the economy (whether demand is growing), and the ability of the CEO and his or her management team to successfully sieze upon whatever opportunities exist in the economic environment of the times to successfully grow their business.

Posted by: Patrick_M | June 24, 2010 12:57 PM | Report abuse

Patrick,

Yes but in times of economic turmoil business leaders would prefer the country's leadership not be so anti-business. I guess its a question of which came first the chicken or the egg. One drives the other. If leadership is not doing anything to help private business growth then businesses (I've spoken to a lot of small business leaders) will NOT stick their neck out unless its more of a sure thing.

So IMO President Obama did a lot to help save us from Depression but his leanings for example towards pro-labor that are simply a function of him being a Democrat are a part of what is going to keep us in the recession longer.

Sure its better than the worst case scenario of full blown Depression but its not as good as it could be. Same thing can be said of healthcare. PPACA is better than the status quo but that's only because the status quo was so horrible. Its still not where it should be or where I'd want it to be.

Posted by: visionbrkr | June 24, 2010 1:54 PM | Report abuse

"So IMO President Obama did a lot to help save us from Depression but his leanings for example towards pro-labor that are simply a function of him being a Democrat are a part of what is going to keep us in the recession longer."

Really? Other than a recess appointment to the NLRB, what exactly has Obama done for organized labor? Recollect that the White House recently scathingly criticized labor for supporting an opponent to Blanche Lincoln, who is no friend of labor. Precisely how does White House policy on labor prolong the recession (which is technically over, as we are now experiencing modest but sustained growth in GDP)?

Rhetoric is rhetoric and nothing more, businesses will hire based upon business conditions, and business leaders will always grumble that government imposes too many restraints. The modest stimulus and jobs packages passed by the Congress included tax breaks for businesses and were designed to halt the decrease in demand that was taking place as the GDP was shrinking during the recession. This is not an anti-business administration, all the predictable corporate rhetoric aside.

Posted by: Patrick_M | June 24, 2010 2:28 PM | Report abuse

-----
ab13, first you acknowledge that the consequences of a calamity at a deepwater well are a "terribel [sic] tragedy" and then you mock me for having outlined the "completely meaningless emotional appeals" of the resulting death and destruction.
-----

That you cannot see the difference there is pretty revealing. Yes, it was a terrible tragedy (your insistence on pointing out typos speaks volumes as well). No one denies that. People died, there is horrible environmental damage, etc etc. But in deciding whether or not to stop all drilling we should be level-headed and use the legal system, not point out "OMG there are oily pelicans, how could this judge possibly stop the moratorium when pelicans have been hurt!" Like I said, we as humans tend to overreact to rare catastrophes, and continual focus on the emotional part of a catastrophe as rationale for action is a pretty good sign one may be overreacting. Just like in my example before, we overreacted to a terrorist attack to severely infringe on civil liberties, and the exact same arguments you and jkaren are making could have been used to justify that. "We need a moratorium on drilling because pelicans are oily" is not much different than "We need intrusive surveillance on American citizens because people died in a terrorist attack".

-----
The facts of the disaster may not alone be determinative of the legality of the moratorium, but they are clearly at least as pertinent to the case as your cited flaw in one element of the government's case regarding independent expert opinion.
-----

No, the details of the spill are not nearly as pertinent to this case. The gov't was attempting to undertake a legal action against the industry based on falsehoods. Telling the truth about material facts in court is more pertinent than detailing the damage from a different case. To go back to the same terror analogy, if the gov't tried to expand their abilities to spy on Americans and lied about the facts surrounding the case, that would be far more pertinent than saying "3000 people died on 9/11".

I also enjoy your euphemistic description of a blatant falsehood as a "flaw in one element of the government's case".


-----
I did not (ever) question the judge's credibility and integrity
-----

Yes you did. You implied that he was cherry-picking facts and that him owning some amount of stock in an oil company (out of over 140 different investments he disclosed) made him unfit to hear this case.

As for your silly demand, $138,854.43 in stock would be too much. Hmm, on second thought, better make that 135,854.43. Give or take a few cents.

-----
I also have the intellectual honesty not to presume one way or the other whether the legal reasoning in the opinion is sound
-----

Sure. You just ask questions. You don't presume or imply anything. Just asking questions.

Posted by: ab_13 | June 24, 2010 2:47 PM | Report abuse

"We need a moratorium on drilling because pelicans are oily" is not much different than "We need intrusive surveillance on American citizens because people died in a terrorist attack."

Actually, it is completely different. Saying that we should temporarily suspend deep water drilling activity in order to develop more effective disaster response plans and safety precautions is the equivalent of fortifying the cockpit doors after 9-11. It is a common sense way of reducing the risk of an accident that produces disastrous consequences. If the brake pedal in your car one day goes to the floor and the car does not decelerate, I suspect you would take it to a mechanic for a safety inspection before continuing to drive around town, and that nobody would then describe you of being "arbitrary and capricious" for having taken a break in your driving habits in order to avoid a potential accident.

Again, I undersatnd that you think continuing all deepwater drilling without interruption is better than shutting it down temporarily in order to mitigate risk. You, me, or the judge may hold such a personal opinion, but that does not mean that the government lacks the legal authority to make that call, or that the government's decision to make that call is "arbitrary and capricious," or that the judge's expressed line of reasoning with those analogies (mines, planes, the Exxon Valdez) makes sense. Those questions will be argued in a higher court.

(to be continued...)

Posted by: Patrick_M | June 24, 2010 5:32 PM | Report abuse

(...continuing)

"You implied that he was cherry-picking facts and that him owning some amount of stock in an oil company (out of over 140 different investments he disclosed) made him unfit to hear this case."

For the last time, no. I said that EVERY written opinion is written to justify the result ~that is exactly the purpose of the opinion~ and so virtually all opinions appear sound on their face, though many turn out to not actually be supported by a preponderous of all of the evidence at hand, which is why we have a system of judicial review. A person can't tell whether a case was rightly or wrongly decided merely by reading the opinion.

Again you put words in my mouth. I did not say that the judge was "unfit" to hear the case, I said that that the process would have appeared more neutral and fair had the case been heard by a judge with zero financial interest in any of the litigants. The investments are newsworthy precisely because they diminish the appearance of impartiality, and for that reason I am surprised that the judge did not not hand off the case to someone else.

"Just asking questions."

I have expressed my own opinions and I have also raised questions, and you can't seem to grasp the difference. Let me try and spell it out one last time:

In my opinion, the moratorium is prudent, given the disaster and everything that has come to light about the lack of effective response strategies and poor safety practices, so in my own personal opinion the moratorium is a good thing.

I don't know if the government has legal authority to impose the moratorium.

I don't if the judge's ruling is sound, or that it will be upheld, although (in my opinion) it appears to contain certain fallacious reasoning, which I have discussed. I do know that merely reading an opinion will not tell a person whether that opinion is the correct interpretation of the law. I also expressed the view, which is broadly accepted, that the appearance of impartiality is best served when a judge holds zero personal financial interest in the outcome of the proceedings, which unfortunately was not the case here.

Posted by: Patrick_M | June 24, 2010 5:34 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company