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Saturday Roundup

* It remains unspeakably strange that in the alternate universe known as the U.S. Senate, one of the largest environmental calamities in history has made drilling more imperative to passing energy reform.

* BP appears to have resumed its efforts to plug the damn hole.

* Also in that link: BP officials apologize for failing to tell us all that they'd ceased their plugging efforts. Whoops, slipped our minds, sorry about that!

* And: Still more detail about the vast new plume discovered yesterday. Horrific.

* Interesting point from Dana Milbank: Obama is perhaps taking more than his fair share of the blame for the Gulf spill.

* Relatedly, a good read from Bob Herbert, who says Obama, a student of history, should know by now that his boot should be on BP's neck.

* Billy Nungesser, the parish president who has been all over TV blasting Obama's handling of the spill, shares details of a contentious private exchange with the president and says he came away "impressed."

* The vast majority of the Guantanamo detainees that some officials (Dems included) are terrified of moving to American soil are low-level fighters, according to a new government report.

* And: Charlie Savage notes that a few of those detainees are still being held in spite of the fact that there is no evidence at all of involvement in any specific terror plot.

* Bill Clinton, stumping for Blanche Lincoln, suggests labor is backing Bill Halter because they want to make Lincoln "the poster child for what happens when a Democrat crosses them."

Which may be true, but that's only for the entirely defensible reason that Lincoln is bad on their issues.

* How far to the center/left has Charlie Crist moved since being shoved out of the GOP? Eric Kleefeld counts the ways.

* Kate Pickert pleads for patience in judging Obama's impact on the spill.

* Random question of the day: When is Sarah Palin going to share her thoughts on the Joe Sestak mess? The media could use her help in getting to the bottom of this.

* And Mike Tomasky says the real lesson of the Sestak mess is that if the GOP retakes power in Congress, they'll make the 1990s look like a 21st Century Era of Good Feelings.

No doubt, but it was still better to get the facts out, if only to make this point more obvious.

What else is happening?

By Greg Sargent  |  May 29, 2010; 10:49 AM ET
Categories:  2010 elections , Climate change , House GOPers , Joe Sestak , Senate Dems , Senate Republicans  
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Next: Sunday Roundup


I can appreciate the emotional responses from Billy Nungesser, James Carville and all the others in LA. The memories of the federal response to Katrina certainly, and understandably, are coloring their views.

That said, I am troubled by reports that BP sent hundreds of workers out to the beaches to clean up ahead of Obama's visit yesterday, and retracted them immediately after. That is simpy BS.

BP necessarily has to manage capping the well. But they should not be leading the way in the clean up efforts. That should be coordinated directly by the Fed, with the bill for the costs handed to them to pay.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | May 29, 2010 11:10 AM | Report abuse

Interesting article on Elizabeth Birnbaum's departure from the MMS. Apparently she resigned rather than take a demotion.

"But Birnbaum's abrupt departure, coming just 10 months after she had taken the agency's helm, says more about the Obama administration's inability to improve MMS and the industry it regulates than Birnbaum herself. Facing a historically troubled agency, Salazar and his top deputies focused first on promoting easy-to-achieve changes and offshore wind development rather than conducting a broad agency overhaul."

Posted by: suekzoo1 | May 29, 2010 11:26 AM | Report abuse

From Balloon Juice, here is David Broder and then comments by DougJ:


It took almost a full hour of Barack Obama’s news conference for the professor-president to come down from his lecture platform and show the human reaction to the gulf oil leak accident that people had been looking for.


Politicians know this. A few hours after Obama addressed the media on Thursday, CNN showed a news clip of Rep. Charlie Melancon, a Louisiana legislator who was talking at a hearing about the impact the oily pollution was having on the wetlands of his native state—and had to stop because he was weeping so hard. There was instant empathy.


“When I woke up this morning and I’m shaving, and Malia knocks on my bathroom door and she peeks in her head and she says, ‘Did you plug the hole yet, Daddy?’”


What he says next is so simple and personal that its authenticity cannot be doubted: “I grew up in Hawaii, where the ocean is sacred.” And back to the shared reality: “And when you see birds flying around with oil all over their feathers and turtles dying”—as every viewer now has had to watch—“that doesn’t just speak to the immediate economic consequences of this; this speaks to, you know, how are we caring for this incredible bounty that we have.”


No, there is no way that a president could fabricate a story about something a family member told him. It simply is not possible. It can’t be done. When a president mention some silly thing his daughter supposedly said to him, we must take him at his word. It is that simple.

And all that mumbo jumbo about how many gallons of oil, and how the spill might be stopped, and what the damage to the environment might be, it’s all just academic mumbo jumbo. What matters is whether you cry about it and what cute things your children say to you about it.

I’m an Obot, so I’m glad that at least one Villager liked the story Obama told about his daughter. But all of this takes place in a fantasy world, one where Obama might be able to make it all right with his eleven-dimensional executive powers or by pounding his desk and saying “stop the damn oil spill”.

I just don’t see how we can have an effective political system when teardrops and children’s stories matter more than years of mismanagement at the Minerals Management Service."

Posted by: BGinCHI | May 29, 2010 12:00 PM | Report abuse

Sorry for the long Broder/DougJ post, but it's an excellent example of Villager behavior.

And Doug skewers it just right: all this gnashing of teeth about Obama's behavior gets in the way of what journalists, and anyone who cares about governance (and, gosh, the country), ought to be hammering. And that's the right-wing ideological disaster that is deregulation.

Markets don't solve everything. There is no such thing as a free market.

Broder: fail.

Posted by: BGinCHI | May 29, 2010 12:09 PM | Report abuse

@sue - BP and other such drilling outfits clearly are in a unique position as regards working to cap the drill hole. But I presume other agencies, eg Coast Guard, have a lot of experience and tech in clean up.

As I noted in last night's thread, Scahill at The Nation has a piece on BP's control of press access to the Gulf through deployment of Wackenhut (and perhaps other) security corporations...

It's unclear to me how and why BP has been allowed to be so influential in matters above the water's surface. But it really does have the look of corporate police-state control.

Posted by: bernielatham | May 29, 2010 12:11 PM | Report abuse

As a postscript to the entire Sestak embrolio...did anyone else see K.O. last night?

His producers did the research and came up with lot's of precedent for the "job offer".

Hero of the right Saint Ronnie did exactly the same thing with S.I. Hayakawa in the California Senate race back in the 80's.

Does this mean Q.B. believes that we should rename D.C.'s National Airport from Reagan airport back to National? After all wouldn't be fitting to have all of these buildings named after a "felon" LMAO

Speaking of building names...WTF is up with leaving the FBI building the J Edgar Hoover building. I realize Hoover's role in building the FBI but it's also now well documented that Hoover did his best to turn the FBI into our version of the KGB.
Of course Hoover didn't have Cheney on board so he was handicapped by a lack of torture without DICK at his side. However he did have myriad secret files on everybody from Presidents on down. This man was truly despicable and as a taxpayer I resent having any public building named after such a corrupt sleazeball.

Posted by: rukidding7 | May 29, 2010 12:26 PM | Report abuse

@BG - Apology for post unnecessary. The subject Doug J speaks to seems of critical significance to me.

How is it the case that Broder believes he is speaking about something of importance? How is it the case that any of the high-profile news personalities, engaged in similar discourse, believe they are?

The question isn't even whether the President actually lacks an emotional response. It's merely that he might not be (in their so thoughtful estimations) demonstrating felt emotions.

In other words, it is all about whether the President is marketing himself properly, whether he is coming across on television as a well-contrived advertisement for himself.

Perhaps Broder and others of his age are still so amazed at the consequences of the Kennedy/Nixon debate (first televised debate) that they remain stuck in that mindset and that time period. Perhaps because they came to realize at that point how important they themselves are (TV and print news) in crafting the marketing of a Presidential product that their self-aggrandizing attention sticks right there.

Perhaps the myopia of living so long within their circle of privilege and status and court intrigue simply doesn't permit their brains to reach out and think in some other paradigm.

Broder and very many like him have passed their due date. Their shallowness is now a problem. And it is a serious problem for all the rest of us.

Posted by: bernielatham | May 29, 2010 12:41 PM | Report abuse

Good response to Doug's points. This is especially spot on:

"Perhaps the myopia of living so long within their circle of privilege and status and court intrigue simply doesn't permit their brains to reach out and think in some other paradigm."

Talk about "epistemic closure." Guys and gals like Broder and Noonan are a product of a narrow range of socio-economic life experience. Had they ever worked as a dishwasher or farm laborer, or some form of labor-selling that forces you to see the system from the other side, they would not so naively write what they write.

They would also not have the indecency to lecture other people about the world. They have no shame, and that, as you say, has consequences for the rest of us.

I find it harder and harder each day to see why we should care that newspapers are failing. Most of what they are currently doing is employing privileged idiots. I'd rather read blogs, the Nation, the New Yorker, and so on.

Posted by: BGinCHI | May 29, 2010 1:00 PM | Report abuse

Poor b*stards in Louisiana can't get a break:

Latest Attempt by BP to Plug Oil Leak in Gulf of Mexico Fails

Posted by: wbgonne | May 29, 2010 1:13 PM | Report abuse

How in the world does Frank Rich arrive at the conclusion that the Gulf Oil Disaster undermines the case for government action?

"As long as the stain washes up on shore, the hole in BP’s pipe will serve the right as a gaping hole in the president’s argument for expanded government supervision of, for starters, Big Oil and big banks. It’s not just the gulf that could suffer for decades to come."

It was government INACTION and Conservative homage to the glory of the Free Market that led directly to the Gulf Disaster, and the Wall Street Bankster Cataclysm is more of the same. These catastrophes prove that vigorous government is ESSENTIAL in the modern world. Just the opposite of what Rich contends: Rich must have been hitting the BBQ Budweisers a little early.

Posted by: wbgonne | May 29, 2010 5:34 PM | Report abuse

David Broder prints crap!

Posted by: jzap | May 29, 2010 7:32 PM | Report abuse

@wb - That sentence of Rich's you quote is, for sure, in-artfully worded. The body of the piece (not to mention his earlier columns) don't lead to the apparent conclusion you read.

My understanding of his point is that "failure" will be applied by the right to Obama quite regardless of circumstances. But it has much more power to be effective (even if completely irrational) if this leak goes on much longer and if the destruction is what we expect. If I read him right, it speaks again to EJ's point the other day regarding how American's seem to expect a President to be something near omnipotent.

This has me worried too. People under stress often hit out at the nearest target. And they are much more susceptible to demagogy of Limbaugh/Beck/Palin sort.

Posted by: bernielatham | May 29, 2010 7:48 PM | Report abuse

wbg, I second bernie's take on the Rich piece. I had to read the whole thing twice to be sure I didn't miss something in how he comes to his conclusion. They are seemingly incongruent at first blush.

But I think it's more of a warning shot or wake up call for Obama to pay attention and be diligent in the coming days. The government must be effective in the parts of this they can, namely the clean up efforts in the Gulf and at the shore. If, as I mentioned earlier today, BP is playing games by planting clean up crews prior to a POTUS visit, and yanking them back when he leaves, the Fed needs to call BS and push BP out of the way.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | May 29, 2010 8:25 PM | Report abuse

@sue - Thanks. You said that better than I did.

Posted by: bernielatham | May 29, 2010 9:28 PM | Report abuse

Here's a current Townhall headline...

"Is the Impeachment of Barack Obama Moving Forward?"

The quick answer is, "no". The slower answer is also, "no".

But if one were to ask "Is America at war with itself?" then you could get a "yes".

Posted by: bernielatham | May 29, 2010 9:52 PM | Report abuse

Bernie: "Americans seem to expect a President to be something near omnipotent."

Dubya turned out to be omnimpotent.

Posted by: jzap | May 29, 2010 10:02 PM | Report abuse

jzap: "Dubya turned out to be omnimpotent."

I think you mean "impotent."

Posted by: suekzoo1 | May 29, 2010 10:13 PM | Report abuse

@jzap - Dubya sat, however temporarily, at God's side. That proximity permitted access to His thoughts. I guess that's how it worked.

Here's another tact from the usual suspects...

"Rightwing group seeks to strip climate change from US classrooms
Climate change is a 'liberal' cause, argues Colorado-based petitioner, and requires a 'balancing' counterpoint"

Trace these guys back through membership, associations and funding and you get to Koch Industries. Hardly a surprise.

Posted by: bernielatham | May 29, 2010 10:26 PM | Report abuse

More (though not much more - it's a crappy little piece) on restricted media access to areas impacted by the spill...

This is one aspect that the administration MUST get sorted out immediately. It isn't just a matter of citizens getting information. The media not only have a job to do. They also have a commonly over-rated sense of how well they carry out that job and therefore how important they are. They'll scream and turn the attack on the administration. Not without some validity, of course.

Posted by: bernielatham | May 29, 2010 10:32 PM | Report abuse

Awkward timing...

"BLAINE, Wash. (AP) -- The Washington state Department of Labor and Industries says the BP Cherry Point petroleum refinery will not appeal a citation issued earlier this month for 13 safety violations.

The violations carry a fine of $69,200."

Seventy thousand. Damn. Penalties like that ought to change their behavior right quickly, don't you think?

Posted by: bernielatham | May 29, 2010 10:37 PM | Report abuse

And to end off the evening, here's a tragic tale of creative video editing that can now never be.

"NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Conservative activist-videographer James O'Keefe said video he shot of conversations with staffers of U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu was deleted when his cell phone was returned after he and three others pleaded guilty to charges in a caper he orchestrated at the Democrat's New Orleans office.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney's office said Saturday that U.S. Magistrate Daniel Knowles III ordered the footage removed. O'Keefe made the claim Friday in a posting on his Twitter social networking site."

Posted by: bernielatham | May 29, 2010 10:44 PM | Report abuse

Imagine the number of smaller government conservatives claiming the Obama Admin. is not doing enough. Had it been up to the Gov. Bobby of old, La. would be one big tar ball for the rest of the millennium. Kind of great being the party of nada; you can whine from either side of the fence.

Posted by: hoser3 | May 29, 2010 11:22 PM | Report abuse

Has BP considered using "the Palin Hat" maneuver?

Posted by: hoser3 | May 29, 2010 11:24 PM | Report abuse

DOes anyone think this will get the legs that the Richard Blumenthal flap got?

"GOP Senate candidate Kirk overstated military award"

Republican U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk, who has highly publicized his position as a Naval Reserve intelligence officer in his bid for the U.S. Senate, has acknowledged he erroneously boasted he was named Intelligence Officer of the Year more than a decade ago.

In a posting on his campaign’s blog, Kirk said he recently reviewed his records and biography and made the change late this week, though he apparently made the changes amid questions from the press.

“I found that an award listed in my official biography was misidentified as ‘Intelligence Officer of the Year,’ Kirk said on the blog posting.

For years, Kirk has said he was named intelligence officer of the year for his role in the U.S. Navy’s actions during the war in Kosovo, known as Operation Allied Force. When he first ran for Congress, he submitted a resume to the Tribune stating among his military decorations that he had earned the honor of intelligence officer of the year.

Commander Danny Hernandez, a Navy spokesman, said Thursday the individual 1999 Naval Reserve Intelligence Officer of the Year was given to another reservist and not to Kirk. He said, however, the intelligence community gives out unit awards at the local and regional levels.

Kirk now says that his unit – not just him – received a different citation from a professional organization called the National Military Intelligence Association. That citation – the Vice Admiral Rufus L. Taylor Award – was given to his unit while it was based in Italy.

More here:

Posted by: suekzoo1 | May 30, 2010 1:15 AM | Report abuse

zbernie: "I think you mean 'impotent.' "

Yeah, but the "omni" version :-)

Posted by: jzap | May 30, 2010 2:49 AM | Report abuse

@sue - was just going to note that one. Good balance metric, isn't it?

Posted by: bernielatham | May 30, 2010 9:40 AM | Report abuse

And again, another bit of evidence on the Matalin "aggrieved females R us" Republican narrative...

"In a widely noted speech this month to the Susan B. Anthony List, an anti-abortion-rights group, Palin invoked the words "feminism" and "feminist" no less than a dozen times. She called for a "pro-woman sisterhood" and addressed the "sisters" in the audience. If it weren't for the regular references to gun rights, you might have thought you were listening to Gloria Steinem.

If this rhetoric seems uncharacteristic of the former governor of Alaska, that's because it is. When running for vice president in 2008, Palin flip-flopped on the feminist question, telling CBS's Katie Couric that she is one, but later telling NBC's Brian Williams, "I'm not going to label myself anything."

Posted by: bernielatham | May 30, 2010 9:43 AM | Report abuse

Top Kill failed. They're moving on to Plan LMrp, cut off bent riser of BOP and cap that. Good luck. It could take 4-5 days of preparation.

"BP said preparations have been made for the possible deployment of the lower marine riser package (LMRP) cap containment system, which would be complex because of the depth of the oil leak.

Deployment would first involve removing the damaged riser from the top of the failed BOP to leave a cleanly-cut pipe at the top of the BOP's LMRP.

The cap, a containment device with a sealing grommet, will be connected to a riser from the Discoverer Enterprise drillship, 5,000 feet above on the surface, and placed over the LMRP with the intention of capturing most of the oil and gas flowing from the well.

Mr Suttles said it should capture "most of the oil" and was expected to last at least four days but "we cannot guarantee success at this time."

Posted by: lmsinca | May 30, 2010 9:45 AM | Report abuse

"In a widely noted speech this month to the Susan B. Anthony List, an anti-abortion-rights group, Palin invoked the words "feminism" and "feminist" no less than a dozen times." now that Sister Sarah is embracing the "f" word, will Limbaugh stop tacking "nazi" onto the end of it? (His infamous "feminazi.") And if he continues to use it, will Sarah become hysterical? Stay tuned.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | May 30, 2010 9:53 AM | Report abuse

I hope other readers are keeping up with Yglesias' trip to China...damned interesting...

Posted by: bernielatham | May 30, 2010 9:58 AM | Report abuse

Oil spill quotes category:

An anonymous technician on the scene said, "The engineers are disappointed, and management is upset. Nothing is good, nothing is good."

Posted by: bernielatham | May 30, 2010 10:08 AM | Report abuse

Re Blumenthal v Kirk and balance metrics...Media Matters is keeping very close track on this...

Posted by: bernielatham | May 30, 2010 10:17 AM | Report abuse

Since BP seems to approve of the word "spill" I will continue to call it a "gusher" or "blowout". I think now is the time for any level of environmental concerned individuals to make their opinions known. I keep thinking for some reason of something I heard Glenn Beck say several months ago, along the lines of "If I want a steak I'll eat a steak dammit" or Bilgey with his two SUV's. It's time to seriously curtail our individual and collective reliance on fossil fuels, peak oil is real and the more risk we take trying to get to what's left, the more likely scenarios such as we're seeing right now will occur.

Posted by: lmsinca | May 30, 2010 10:18 AM | Report abuse

Sarah Palin like REALLY cares about her neighborhood and her family's (especially the kids') safety. Media Matters quotes the WSJ on who was in that house next door previously...

"This was Sean Hannity hyping the McGinniss threat:

Every citizen has the right ot some level of privacy. We’re talking about human decency. We’re talking about morality. As a parent I’m sure yo are concerned, what are these guy’s intentions here?
But as I noted yesterday, who used to live in the house next to Palin? Recovering drug addicts and alcoholics, that's who. But did she ever complain about them intruding her privacy or posing a threat to her children. I suspected she had not.

Today, the WSJ confirms that fact [emphasis added]:

Until 2007, the house operated as a way station for recovering drug addicts. Catherine Taylor, who inherited the house decades ago, said the Palins never complained about the recovering drug addicts and ex-cons who lived next door.
This seems to completely undercut Palin's hateful attack on the 69-year-old McGinniss and her claim that he poses a unique threat to her. "

She's my heroine.

Posted by: bernielatham | May 30, 2010 10:23 AM | Report abuse

Across the California Republican candidate horizon, nothing but corporate insiders...

Posted by: bernielatham | May 30, 2010 10:25 AM | Report abuse

We all likely noted the BP engineers' statements as to the failure of "top kill" because of the amount of pressure exerted by the oil as it pushed up.

"Tens of millions of gallons of oil have leaked into the Gulf of Mexico, but that's only about 1 to 1.5 percent of what sits in the reservoir deep beneath the ocean floor, according to calculations based on government and BP estimates."

This could get really bad. I'm definitely not a 'law and order' sort but the confluence of a whole set of factors has me more than a little anxious re civil order.

Posted by: bernielatham | May 30, 2010 10:34 AM | Report abuse

Sorry, link here...

Posted by: bernielatham | May 30, 2010 10:35 AM | Report abuse

From James Fallows...

"Weakening America: Mitch McConnell Shows How."

And that weakening is in the service of corporate elites hegemony over citizen-representative government.

Posted by: bernielatham | May 30, 2010 10:39 AM | Report abuse

Honest assessment category...

"Vaughn Ward, the Republican congressional candidate from Idaho, has the dubious character trifecta of the Palin brand: bone-headed, defiant and willfully ignorant. When told that Puerto Rico was not a country, he said, “I don’t care what you call it.”"

And, have a fine day all, if possible.

Posted by: bernielatham | May 30, 2010 10:44 AM | Report abuse

Bernie, if they can't stop or at least contain the worst of it between now and when the relief wells are complete, it's going to be really bad. It very well could be THE issue of Obama's presidency. It remains to be seen how that plays out but for the people and eco-system of the Gulf I'd say they're in dire straits.

I don't think he can play this the same way he did HCR and finreg. He needs to be aggressive and committed to a solution. I'd prefer to see him make a concerted push toward a greener economy and ask citizens at both the individual and corporate level what they're willing to give up.

Posted by: lmsinca | May 30, 2010 10:51 AM | Report abuse

Slave Sargent:
"Also in that link: BP officials apologize for failing to tell us all that they'd ceased their plugging efforts. Whoops, slipped our minds, sorry about that!"

You're being SUCH a hysterical little moonbat.

As someone who HAS pumped drilling mud to a rig, let me tell you what is likely involved.

You have an engineer and perhaps a motorman or two starting a diesel engine and engaging a PTO,(power take-off), from that engine to a mud-pump.
(These pumps, Moyno is the manufacturer of the ones I've played with, were developed to pump peanut-butter, and that is roughly the consistency of drilling mud).

They also have to tend the valve manifold, determining which tank the pump is going to take a suction from.

There are literally a million reasons that the mud-pumping would need to be stopped: the diesel needs maintenance, the pump needs maintenance, or the rig has simply run out of mud and is awaiting another OSV to arrive and transfer a fresh batch to the rig's tanks.
Hey...the engineer might need to take a dump. He's a human being too, (usually).

It's altogether likely that there are only 3 or 4 people directly involved with this, that they aren't getting enough sleep, and that they are well aware of how many slobbering mouth-breathing idiots are hyperventilating over what they are trying to do...and that's just in their own company and their customer...BP.

Do them a favor and back the eff off.

Clenching your collective rectums into an airtight condition over every little stop and start on the rig is not helping anyone.

Posted by: Bilgeman | May 30, 2010 10:54 AM | Report abuse

one more...Beinart v Foxman

Posted by: bernielatham | May 30, 2010 11:00 AM | Report abuse

Bernie & Sue: I like your take on Rich better than mine. But it does raise a larger question: Why isn't the Left taking control of this narrative and insisting that lack of government regulation, i.e. the GOP antigovernment movement, is responsible for this disaster. The Left, IMO, spends too much time tackling Right narratives. The best defense is a good offense.

Which brings me to Imsinca: Agree totally re: Obama. He has to be assertive here. Time to stand up for the environment and for government generally.

Finally, anyone else notice the deafening silence from the GOP on the Gulf Oil Disaster?

Posted by: wbgonne | May 30, 2010 11:07 AM | Report abuse

wbg: "Why isn't the Left taking control of this narrative and insisting that lack of government regulation, i.e. the GOP antigovernment movement, is responsible for this disaster."

At least some on the left are still very p.o.'d at Obama for his announcement that he would allow more drilling just a couple of weeks before this incident.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | May 30, 2010 11:22 AM | Report abuse

All, Sunday roundup posted:

....and Bernie, thanks for that Palin link. That should settle this, but it won't...

Posted by: Greg Sargent | May 30, 2010 11:26 AM | Report abuse

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