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The Morning Plum

* Gulf spill front and center: Truly frightening. Let's face it: We have no idea where the Gulf spill story is taking us. The evidence is mounting that it's far worse than we thought.

* And President Obama is set to adopt a more confrontational tone with the companies responsible when he speaks today, Jake Tapper reports.

* But it's still not "Obama's Katrina": A new Associated Press poll finds a plurality approve of his handling of the disaster.

* However: Fifty percent still favor expanded offshore drilling.

* A reality check from Mike Allen: "From a P.R. standpoint, the worst could be yet to come: The oil hasn't started rushing ashore."

* The fingerpointing will intensify over this: The U.S. may have issued drilling permits without taking needed steps to assess potential environmental damage.

* It goes without saying that even an environmental disaster of this magnitude won't change business as usual in the Senate: Lisa Murkowski is now blocking efforts to lift the liability cap on oil companies.

* Charles Krauthammer takes credit for helping to get Eric Holder to agree to modify the process of Mirandizing terror suspects.

And it's true that Holder is letting his critics set the agenda.

* Good read: Alec MacGillis on why Elena Kagan's experience in the Clinton White House, and her resulting appreciation of the realities of governing, may be an asset in a SCOTUS judge.

* Adam Sorensen catches a wonderful quote from Obama, at a fundraiser in New York last night, giving Nancy Pelosi her due, albeit a little colorfully:

"New York is a tough town, but Nancy Pelosi is one tough lady. That's one tough lady. And she's so elegant even as she's ripping your heart out."

I'm telling you, the real story of Pelosi's role in driving the big boys to get health reform done has yet to be told.

* David Kurtz salutes liberal hero Byron Dorgan.

* A vulnerable House Dem from Massachusetts won't say whether she wants Obama to campaign for her.

* And this is just lovely. That shadowy group running $1 million in ads attacking Bill Halter without revealing where any of that cash is coming from now has a vicious mailer hitting Halter in either Hindu or Sanscrit:

sanscrit.JPG

What else is happening?

By Greg Sargent  |  May 14, 2010; 8:24 AM ET
Categories:  Climate change , Financial reform , Morning Plum , Political media , Senate Dems , Senate Republicans  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Happy Hour Roundup
Next: Book: Rahm "begged" Obama for days not to pursue ambitious health reform

Comments

Greg: Thanks for focusing on the Gulf Oil Leak. This truly has the makings of a national disaster. But it won't really hit home until the images show up on television. Apropos of that, BP's strategy has been out-of-sight out-of-mind, refusing to release the video of the geyser, using huge volumes of chemical dispersants, downplaying the magnitude, etc. This AP article raises very troubling questions about where all the oil is that has already leaked into the Gulf:

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jxVZPEia62NMX5dlz3lamD6wPv9gD9FMHP000

I'm glad to hear Obama's stepping up on this. Hurricane season starts in two weeks. My friends from LA say people there are working around-the-clock to set up barriers to keep the oil off-shore but those hand-made efforts can easily be overwhelmed by weather. BP can't be trusted, too much of a conflict of interest. It is time for the Feds to take over.

Posted by: wbgonne | May 14, 2010 8:39 AM | Report abuse

Glad that its finally becoming apparent just how stupid of a move it was for Holder to announce that he was going to try to change Miranda and thus validating the criticisms. Of course I would feel better if that realization meant the White House would quit doing such silly crap but I am losing faith in that notion at this point.

Posted by: sgwhiteinfla | May 14, 2010 8:39 AM | Report abuse

"A vulnerable House Dem from Massachusetts won't say whether she wants Obama to campaign for her."

Tsongas is suffering from Scott Brown PTSD.

Posted by: wbgonne | May 14, 2010 8:46 AM | Report abuse

"From a P.R. standpoint, the worst could be yet to come: The oil hasn't started rushing ashore."

I've rarely seen a more chicken grammatical hedge than Allen's use of "could be" here. Perhaps "A lightening strike to the forehead could be disorienting." Or "Too many glasses of prune juice before bedtime could be the precursor to a bathroom event frighteningly like something from a science fiction movie"

Posted by: bernielatham | May 14, 2010 8:49 AM | Report abuse

ps...posts are beheaded when a naughty word is detected (two instances noted now).

Posted by: bernielatham | May 14, 2010 8:51 AM | Report abuse

Have a fine day, mates.

Posted by: bernielatham | May 14, 2010 8:53 AM | Report abuse

I'll be curious to see what happens to that 50% number after the oil hits the beaches and the annual pilgrimages to the Redneck Riviera are interrupted.

Posted by: schrodingerscat | May 14, 2010 8:53 AM | Report abuse

"Charles Krauthammer takes credit for helping to get Eric Holder to agree to modify the process of Mirandizing terror suspects. And it's true that Holder is letting his critics set the agenda."

I really don't have a strong opinion as to the politics of this matter but, as a legal issue, there is surely something there. The public safety exception to Miranda allows law enforcement to question a suspect immediately (i.e., pre-Miranda) when there is a risk to public safety. In Quarles (I think that's the case), a gun was missing and the police wanted to know where it was to (purportedly) protect the general public. It's one thing to say that law enforcement can ask direct questions about the location of a dangerous weapon but how that concept applies in terrorism cases is problematic. I think SCOTUS would prove flexible if one of these terrorism/public safety exception cases makes its way there but it is far safer -- and proper, in my view -- for the Administration to work with Congress to enact appropriate legislation. That will undoubtedly raise the chances that such questioning will be approved by the Court. Finally, I haven't seen any proposal regarding expanding the public safety exception, nor have I heard the arguments pro and con, so I don't know whether I would favor or oppose such legislation. But I do think the White House is approaching the problem in the proper manner. Whether it is wise politically, I don't know.

Posted by: wbgonne | May 14, 2010 9:05 AM | Report abuse

Bernie, if yu're still around, what type of naughty word leads to beheading?

wbgonne, I'm def gonna dig into that. The key is to figure out what the heck they have in mind. They're not saying for now.

and sg -- agree, they're not gonna stop caving to these folks. worse to come, I predict.

Posted by: sargegreg | May 14, 2010 9:16 AM | Report abuse

Greg,

I was disappointed to see that you called the language written in the ad attacking Bill Halter "Hindu or Sanskrit" instead of "Hindi or Sanskrit."

Posted by: gsulliva | May 14, 2010 9:18 AM | Report abuse

Geeg: Yes, to be clear, I'm not saying Holder and the Admin aren't pandering re: Miranda, only that I think there is a legitimate legal question presented. As you say, we'll see from the White House proposal -- if there ever is one -- just how seriously the Admin is taking this.

Posted by: wbgonne | May 14, 2010 9:22 AM | Report abuse

And more proof that BP cannot be trusted to deal with Gulf Oil Leak:

"Even as NPR and other news outlets report that the amount of oil spewing into the Gulf of Mexico may be far greater than has been thought, BP Chief Executive Tony Hayward is now on record as saying the ongoing spill from a rig his company was responsible for is "relatively tiny," The Guardian reports."

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2010/05/bp_chief_oil_spill_is_relative.html

Posted by: wbgonne | May 14, 2010 9:25 AM | Report abuse

Tsongas is in trouble if she doean't want Obama around. I can't wait to vote against her.

Posted by: obrier2 | May 14, 2010 9:28 AM | Report abuse

I said earlier this week that the oil gusher reminded me of Apollo 13 in that it needed that same kind of scientific creative thinking. They're sending in the A team.

"U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu signaled his lack of confidence in the industry experts trying to control BP Plc’s leaking oil well by hand-picking a team of scientists with reputations for creative problem solving."

"Dispatched to Houston by President Barack Obama to deal with the crisis, Chu said Wednesday that five “extraordinarily intelligent” scientists from around the country will help BP and industry experts think of back-up plans to cut off oil from the well, leaking 5,000 feet (1,500 meters) below sea-level."

"Members of the Chu team are credited with accomplishments including designing the first hydrogen bomb, inventing techniques for mining on Mars and finding a way to precisely position biomedical needles."

Posted by: lmsinca | May 14, 2010 9:44 AM | Report abuse

Off to NM today and changing planes in Phoenix, LOL. Have a good weekend all!!!!!!!

Posted by: lmsinca | May 14, 2010 9:46 AM | Report abuse

gsulliva, give Greg a break. So he missed the difference between Hindi and Hindu. Sometimes people get them mixed up. I do, and I've even studied Indian history. Nothing for you to be disappointed or self-righteous about.

Posted by: SDJeff | May 14, 2010 9:50 AM | Report abuse

It's been a week minus a day since I called this oil leak a game changer. The effects to the ocean life so far are estimated to not be catastrophic as the area in which the Mississippi unloads into the gulf, and where the rig is located, is a dead zone due to runoff of fertilizers and others chemicals from the Mississippi river. The chemical dispersants that sent the oil to the bottom of the ocean has prevented mass amounts from devastating the shore so far.

The devastating effects of this have yet to be realized imho. A major shift in winds will most certainly coat the LA, MA and AL coasts with oil that will remain there noticeably for a decade or more.

Maybe this will finally be the big wake up call to no longer allow oil companies to cut corners. Personally, I think MMS employees who allowed oil companies to cut corners in the 2003 decision by not requiring the acoustic controlled shut off valves and other waivers granted to circumvent environmental law requirements should be held accountable.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | May 14, 2010 9:51 AM | Report abuse

And, that Lisa Murkowski thing should be in big bold letters.

Everyone on the coast of LA, MS, ALA and FL needs to know that an out of state Republican Senator stands between them surviving financially or the oil companies covering the losses with a quarters earnings in profits.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | May 14, 2010 9:53 AM | Report abuse

Regarding support for offshore drilling....I supported it previously if done safely. Obviously this spill demonstrates how unsafe it can be. But I really think we need to understand exactly why this happened and how and if it can be prevented in the future. If it's determined that this kind of spill can't definitively be prevented, then I wouldn't support it anymore. If it's a simple fix, then I might.

So just because people say they still support it, doesn't mean they will in the future.

Posted by: SDJeff | May 14, 2010 9:57 AM | Report abuse

absolutely mike, democrats need to scream loud and clear that, as Bob Cesca pointed out, republicans are BAILING OUT BP.

Posted by: SDJeff | May 14, 2010 9:59 AM | Report abuse

I'll ask again: where are Kal Penn and co. in getting the WH to distance itself from Lincoln's odious anti-Indian ads. And in Asian-Pacific Heritage Month, no less!

Posted by: joeff | May 14, 2010 10:19 AM | Report abuse

"I'm telling you, the real story of Pelosi's role in driving the big boys to get health reform done has yet to be told."

Trying to figure out if Greg is praising her or blaming her...

Posted by: sbj3 | May 14, 2010 10:36 AM | Report abuse

I live in a well maintained condo building, but we still have a number of potential safety issues to address in order to get our Certificate of Occupancy renewed by the fire inspector. Last night, in talking to a couple of neighbors about it, one who's in the financial services industry said that there had never been a change in her industry except as a response to something disastrous. She said the same thing was true about the requirements we were dealing with for the C of O, that they'd been enacted in response to fires in which people had died or were badly injured.

My point here is that prevention measures seems always to be linked to calamities. If we're going to even consider doing things with such possibly huge impacts as deep sea oil drilling, this has to change. People have to game out the risks in advance and have layers of redundancy built in as safety measures. This needs to be part of what we do in the whole energy industry. It's about time we started using our science and creativity upfront. And it goes without saying that we can't let industry just run the show on this. It's an understatement to say that they have a record of cutting corners for profits.

Posted by: AllButCertain | May 14, 2010 10:55 AM | Report abuse

SlaveDJeff:
"Regarding support for offshore drilling....I supported it previously if done safely. Obviously this spill demonstrates how unsafe it can be."

Over 1500 wells have been drilled in the GoM since 2006, and this one bad result is supposed to shut everything down everywhere?

You think this is reasonable?

"But I really think we need to understand exactly why this happened and how and if it can be prevented in the future. If it's determined that this kind of spill can't definitively be prevented, then I wouldn't support it anymore."

What kind of guarantees would suffice for you?

Seriously?

Nobody will ever be able to guarantee you that there will never be another accident like this. This may not have even been anyone's fault, and may I remind you that the tool-pusher on the rig who most likely could have testified to what happenned and how likely disappeared in a ball of fire.

IF there were corners cut, then here's how you "prevent" another drilling accident:

Seize some of BP's other wells under eminent domain and auction 'em off to safe operators under a trusteeship until the costs are repaid.

IF corners were cut with connivance of EPA, USCG, or MMS, then let's see who "gundecked the log books" so to speak, and haul them up on criminal charges, and make them liable for damages also.

The moonbat sweat-lodge is perfectly happy to criminalize Justice department lawyers for their legal opinions on treatment of terrorists, so I don't see why potentially crooked bureaucrats in OTHER departments should not also get the chance to dunk their reproductive organs in the boiling oily water.

Posted by: Bilgeman | May 14, 2010 10:56 AM | Report abuse

“Fifty percent still favor expanded offshore drilling.”

How much do want to bet that the 50% who still say they support drilling ain’t that passionate about it? However, we haven’t even begun to understand the magnitude of this disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. As the true ecological and economic impact sets in, support for drilling is going to plummet. BP’s legacy will be with us for decades.

As for the “Miranda light” nonsense, Miranda foes have not yet explained WHY it is a good idea to not read suspects Miranda rights. Setting aside the unconstitutionality of measure for a moment, what possibly advantage is afforded law enforcement by not reading Miranda rights? The reading of Miranda rights is only informational, it is NOT a point of genesis for those rights. Not reading Miranda rights will NOT deny any of those rights, so why all of the political Kabuki surrounding this issue?

As for the anti-Halter mailer, all that is needed now is tight shot of a white hand crumpling a pink slip. This is Lincoln’s responsibility. If she does not forcefully denounce this anonymous group and call them out as the cowards that they are, then she is trying to profit from their shamefully bigoted tactics.

Posted by: Gasman1 | May 14, 2010 11:14 AM | Report abuse

All, liberals were right about Rahm...

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/plum-line/2010/05/book_rahm_spent_week_aggressiv.html

Posted by: Greg Sargent | May 14, 2010 11:21 AM | Report abuse

About the Hindi ad (I am an Indian graduate student from Bangalore living in the US)
It is in Hindi (not Sanskrit).... but here is the really funny thing. It is just a string of words. They must have used Google translate or something, rather than an actual person who knows Hindi.

It has replaced Halter with "Lagaam", the Hindi word for a horse's halter/bridle, not recognizing the proper noun!

So it reads as "You Bill bridle gratitude Bangalore, for sending employment to India" .... :D

To quibble further, Bangaloreans don't actually speak Hindi, the local language is Kannada, the scenes in that advertisement were from Delhi, the actors had strong American accents, and the whole thing is generally ridiculous.

Posted by: Janhavi | May 14, 2010 11:51 AM | Report abuse

Thanks Janhavi!

Wow, perfect. These morons can't even slander someone properly....

Posted by: BGinCHI | May 14, 2010 12:26 PM | Report abuse

@bm: Over 1500 wells have been drilled in the GoM since 2006, and this one bad result is supposed to shut everything down everywhere?

Until we can figure out how to stop this kind of catastrophe, the answer is yes.

Continuing to drill without knowing how to prevent this kind of disaster is like walking through a mine field. As long as you don't step on one you are fine, but when you do the consequences are dire.

This "bad result" may kill off the breeding grounds for 70% of the commercial fish in the atlantic, not to mention the endangered species that depend on the wetlands or the animals that spawn there.

There is still evidence and environmental degredation from the Ixtox 1 140 million gallon spill in 1979 in the gulf.

With only 2% of world oil reserves in the US, drilling here mostly makes money for the oil companies who pay very little in royalties and therefore make big money and does little to get us off foreign oil.


Posted by: srw3 | May 14, 2010 12:45 PM | Report abuse

@bm:Seize some of BP's other wells under eminent domain and auction 'em off to safe operators under a trusteeship until the costs are repaid.

IF corners were cut with connivance of EPA, USCG, or MMS, then let's see who "gundecked the log books" so to speak, and haul them up on criminal charges, and make them liable for damages also.

The moonbat sweat-lodge is perfectly happy to criminalize Justice department lawyers for their legal opinions on treatment of terrorists, so I don't see why potentially crooked bureaucrats in OTHER departments should not also get the chance to dunk their reproductive organs in the boiling oily water.

Expropriating property--how socialist of you!

Hey I actually agree that heads should roll at MMS and the Bush administration appointees who fostered the "lets not regulate" the industry should not be left out of the investigation.

BTW: "treatment of terrorists" should be treatment of ALLEGED terrorists, since:
1. Many of the detainees were released without charges by the bush administration
2. People that were cleared of terrorism were also tortured...see Maher Arar, who was cleared of charges that led to his detention, after being tortured by third parties using extrodinary rendition

Posted by: srw3 | May 14, 2010 12:57 PM | Report abuse

.
.
.
As direct derivative of the latest BP idea (but much better) in my oil spill article's update, I propose a NEW, SAFER, CHEAPER, FASTER IDEA that could close the hole and stop the oil spill IN A MATTER OF HOURS!
.
It uses a balloon with a strong metal core to be inserted in the riser, then inflated with compressed air or a mix of water and concrete:
.
Or, adopt my (just added) THIRD (and simplest!) IDEA that uses a giant and heavy 200+ tons cube of concrete to "squeeze" the riser and stop the oil leak in a few minutes!!!
.
http://www.ghostnasa.com/posts2/070oilspillsolution.html
.
.

Posted by: www999 | May 15, 2010 1:04 PM | Report abuse

As this environmental disaster of epic proportions drags on – with the dire consequences yet to be fully determined and realized – the U.S. government needs to take a more urgent and heavy-handed approach to the clean up. And not publicly designate a company already being accused by many as grossly negligent and incompetent as the primary organization responsible for saving the environment.

Sure, some of this is posturing and our government is letting BP know it has a lot of liability in the matter.

But this oil spill has already spun way too far out of control, and it’s starting to seem like nobody knows what to do or how to stop it.

http://philiptortora.blogspot.com/2010/05/shouldnt-us-government-have-more.html

Posted by: PhilipTortora | May 16, 2010 6:59 PM | Report abuse

Re: Gulf spill front and center

Teams of lawyers from across the country have descended on the Gulf Coast to file potential class action lawsuits to recover damages suffered by the lead plaintiff(s) and absent class members as a result of the BP oil spill.

However, class action lawsuits may not be in the best interests of some victims of the BP oil spill. For a better understanding of this issue, visit:

http://donovanlawgroup.wordpress.com/2010/05/09/bp-oil-spill-of-april-2010-why-class-action-lawsuits-may-not-be-in-the-best-interests-of-potential-plaintiffs/

Posted by: brianjdonovan | May 17, 2010 9:33 AM | Report abuse

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