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The Morning Plum

* We are now about to see what full White House engagement on the Gulf spill looks like. That's the unmistakable message from this week's schedule, which kicks off with a two-day trip to the Gulf, followed by an Oval Office address on the catastrophe and then a high-profile meeting with BP execs.

This could be one of the defining weeks of Obama's presidency.

White House advisers, of course, would argue that they've always been fully engaged. But this week promises a display of engagement more conspicuously designed for public consumption -- and more aggressively confrontational with BP -- than anything yet. Administration officials are carefully laying the groundwork for the high profile moments to come with a series of leaks transparently designed to put BP on the defensive.

* After announcing that BP has a deadline for coming up with a better oil-producing strategy, White House advisers are now letting it be known that Obama will crank up pressure on BP to turn over a "substantial" sum to an independent account for spill losses.

* But, also in that link: A person "familiar" with BP's thinking says the company will not turn over a "blank check."

* The pressure on BP is nice, but how about using the Oval Office address to make an expansive case for a climate change bill?

* After all, Obama clearly recognizes the opportunity to tie the Gulf spill to the need for broad action on climate change:

"In the same way that our view of our vulnerabilities and our foreign policy was shaped profoundly by 9/11, I think this disaster is going to shape how we think about the environment and energy for many years to come."

Of course, Obama, with his bully pulpit, has vast sway over how -- and whether -- the spill does reshape our thinking. P.S.: Brace yourself for a host of silly complaints about Obama "comparing" the Gulf spill to 9/11.

* Whatever Obama is saying, it's becoming clearer that one of the worst environmental calamities is not enough to prod the Senate into meaningful action on climate change.

* And Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon is set to deliver a big speech this morning designed to prod colleagues into action.

Merkley, I'm told, will lay out a path to energy independence that includes better fuel efficiency standards and heavy investment in electric vehicle production and non-vehicle transportation infrastructure. More on this later.

* Environmental advocates are mounting a furious push to get the Senate to keep carbon limits in play. What's amazing is that this is necessary in the first place.

* Obama Anger Watch: More bad news for the "Obama is Spock" brigade as the preponderance of polls continues to show that people are concerned more with Obama's policies than with his temperament.

* No matter how much ass Obama kicks this week, Republicans will say Obama should have started kicking ass far sooner.

* But who says bipartisanship is dead? Dems and Republicans in Congress alike agree that Turkey is the new enemy.

What else is happening?

By Greg Sargent  |  June 14, 2010; 8:21 AM ET
Categories:  Climate change , Foreign policy and national security , Morning Plum , Political media , Senate Dems  
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Comments

"The pressure on BP is nice, but how about using the Oval Office address to make an expansive case for a climate change bill?"

Yes, please.

Posted by: bernielatham | June 14, 2010 8:34 AM | Report abuse

"Administration officials are carefully laying the groundwork for the high profile moments to come with a series of leaks transparently designed to put BP on the defensive."

You and they still fundamentally don't get it. The immediate task at hand is to stop and contain the leak, not to kick ass.

Obama's PR problem isn't a lack of perceived anger or ass-kicking vigor. It is lack of engagement and passion. Unless he is lashing out at Republicans, Obama isn't merely "cool," he is flat in his affect, in a way that borders on disturbing. He can't solve this by acting, which is what he has been trying to do and making himself look foolish thereby.

And, no, he isn't Spock. Spock was actually brilliant.

"* No matter how much ass Obama kicks this week, Republicans will say Obama should have started kicking ass far sooner."

Again, no, what was pointed out was simply that Obama's ass-kicking line was patently silly. What has been woefully missing is leadership, and particularly public leadership. Obama tried to defuse this by saying he is talking to experts about whose ass to kick.

Really, that's just a stupid statement. The main priority right now is not ass kicking or shouldn't be. The whole world has known where to look for asses to kick from the start. He gave a lame and stupid excuse for poor leadership.

Posted by: quarterback1 | June 14, 2010 8:45 AM | Report abuse

Morning Slave Sargent:
"* After all, Obama clearly recognizes the opportunity to tie the Gulf spill to the need for broad action on climate change:"

Hey...why stop there?

Why not use the Gulf Oil Spill to push for Gay Marriage, Federally subsidized abortion on demand, Open borders, retreat from Iraq and Afghanistan and anything else that you moonbats dream about?

"Of course, Obama, with his bully pulpit, has vast sway over how -- and whether -- the spill does reshape our thinking. P.S.: Brace yourself for a host of silly complaints about Obama "comparing" the Gulf spill to 9/11."

The Macondo well blow out was an accident. 9/11 was not an accident.

And...ten years from now, you'll be hard-pressed to casually see evidence of the spill.

Ten years after 9/11, there will still be a hole in the New York skyline where the Twin Towers should be...

BTW, Meme-master, it appears that the Alleged Hawaiian favors a liability cap.

He's only demanding a 20 billion eco-slush fund from BeePee, (and they only have a reported 7 billion in cash reserves), which means they would throw 7 billion in the pot, and then declare bankruptcy and walk away from it all.

I know moonbats, by definition, cannot understand this, but you simply cannot just "wish" wealth into existence...even with a law and a Federal government program.

Posted by: Bilgeman | June 14, 2010 8:46 AM | Report abuse

"This could be one of the defining weeks of Obama's presidency."

Greg, really? I hope you're just being sarcastic.

Posted by: Andy94 | June 14, 2010 8:51 AM | Report abuse

"But who says bipartisanship is dead? Dems and Republicans in Congress alike agree that Turkey is the new enemy."

This recent flood of derogations of Turkey arises out of the perceived propaganda needs of Netanyahu's government following the attack on the blockade-running ship. Earlier, Turkey was a good buddy, a friend in need (Iraq), and a reasonable crowd of Muslim types.

What really catches my attention here though is not just the power of the pro-Likud lobby to direct Republicans and Dems but the incessant need to draw some enemy in bright, bold colors. Our national militarism is greatly to blame here (weapons producing nations just love threatening enemies all to heck). But also, the more extremist forms of nationalism also need to have, as a fundamental part of their conception of the world, such threatening enemies. One further aspect here is the facile framework of thinking that is built upon black/white dichotomies...the Universe For Dummies.

And I guess I could add that one characteristic of the present administration which has differed from the last one which I've thought a bit about but not mentioned before has been the avoidance of the regular "wanted poster" announcements of some new key Muslim personage portrayed as the source of evil. First this guy, then that guy, then another guy we hadn't known about yet... on and on dependably.

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

Cap'n Obama:

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-oil-spill-20100614,0,1038309.story

He wants 20b, they only have 7b.

A bargain at twice the price. Throw the money at the schmuck and wash your hands of the mess.

Next stop...the sunny beaches of Brasil!

Let the Feds ride to the rescue, and watch the Macondo well keep spewing until the GoM disappears into the hole.

Something like this has happened before, Lake Peigneur in New Iberia LA vanished when a drill rig hit a salt-mine gallery beneath the lake.

http://www.damninteresting.com/lake-peigneur-the-swirling-vortex-of-doom

Posted by: Bilgeman | June 14, 2010 8:57 AM | Report abuse

"The Macondo well blow out was an accident."

No it wasn't, and you know it. BP did not follow their own or industry standards. While I am sure there was not the intent to blow up the platform, their decisions were wreckless which excludes this incident from being accidental.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | June 14, 2010 8:58 AM | Report abuse

""This could be one of the defining weeks of Obama's presidency."

Greg, really? I hope you're just being sarcastic."

I'll let Greg give you his reasons for this statement, but I agree.

There's a dynamic contest coming to a head with the growing threat of climate change. This spill has made the contest more immediate and more acute. The two sides of the contest are the existing structures of power and wealth which are deeply connected to energy industries but not merely those. The other side of the contest are the people who believe that the travails coming may well be so destructive and disorganizing that we must, for reasons of morality and prudence (understatement), set about quite immediately to arresting the inertia of our existing systems of politics and economy. It is not a silliness to consider that this week is a hinge point.

Posted by: bernielatham | June 14, 2010 9:03 AM | Report abuse

"their decisions were wreckless"

Definitely the darkly humorous malapropism/misspelling of the week.

Posted by: quarterback1 | June 14, 2010 9:11 AM | Report abuse

And what is interesting about suekzoo's position that the disaster is a result of reckless disregard and was not an accident is that . . . it means Obama's moratorium and the whole clamor to stop all off-shore drilling are misplaced.

Bet she didn't think that one through.

Posted by: quarterback1 | June 14, 2010 9:13 AM | Report abuse

"What really catches my attention here though is not just the power of the pro-Likud lobby to direct Republicans and Dems but the incessant need to draw some enemy in bright, bold colors. Our national militarism is greatly to blame here (weapons producing nations just love threatening enemies all to heck). But also, the more extremist forms of nationalism also need to have, as a fundamental part of their conception of the world, such threatening enemies."

What can one even say? We don't have real enemies in fanatical Islam. No, it's our own fault.

This is the "stuck on stupid" foreign policy.

Posted by: quarterback1 | June 14, 2010 9:17 AM | Report abuse

Thanks, Bernie, you put it better than I could. It is potentially a hinge point.

Posted by: sargegreg | June 14, 2010 9:17 AM | Report abuse

slave suezkoo1:
"No it wasn't, and you know it. BP did not follow their own or industry standards. While I am sure there was not the intent to blow up the platform, their decisions were wreckless which excludes this incident from being accidental."

Get your head out of your behind and stop being vindictive. It WAS an accident.

Now it was an accident caused by shocking, and possibly criminal, negligence and recklessnes along with an inexcusable lapse of professionalism and sound engineering practice, but nobody undertakes a deepwater offshore oil well in order to cause an explosion fatal to 11 men and an oil spill that drags the POTUS down to stand around sweating like a pig on the beach at Grand Isle LA.

You yourself admit that this was not their intent.

It was an accident.

Posted by: Bilgeman | June 14, 2010 9:19 AM | Report abuse

"Bet she didn't think that one through."

Bet you don't know what my position is on off-shore drilling, but don't let that stop you from a$$uming.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | June 14, 2010 9:20 AM | Report abuse

@Greg: "you put it better than I could."

Not bloody likely. But I'll let my mother know you said so.

Posted by: bernielatham | June 14, 2010 9:23 AM | Report abuse

@Greg: "you put it better than I could."

Not bloody likely. But I'll let my mother know you said so.

Posted by: bernielatham | June 14, 2010 9:24 AM | Report abuse

Canadian Man-bag:
"There's a dynamic contest coming to a head with the growing threat of climate change. This spill has made the contest more immediate and more acute. The two sides of the contest are the existing structures of power and wealth which are deeply connected to energy industries but not merely those."

Uh-huh.

So your discredited Anthropogenic Global Warming/Climate Change Theory is really no more than a PR campaign for one set of money-grubbing scumbags to break the rice bowl of another set of money-grubbing scumbags.

And you just happen to be aligning yourself with THAT crew of money-grubbing scumbags.

All the save-the-whales nonsense is simply a useful propaganda tool to further your team's monetary interests.

And the Macondo is nothing more than an opportunistic excuse.

Thanks for clarifying that.

Posted by: Bilgeman | June 14, 2010 9:25 AM | Report abuse

I don't see how this can be considered an accident, sorry.

There is already evidence in the record that the BOP was compromised and that was known by BP. It was leaking hydraulic fluid, and pieces of the rubber seals were shredding off that was seen by rig operators and questioned, but ultimately ignored.

The diagnostic tests performed to be sure the cementing operation had taken properly indicated it hadn't, but were ignored.

Sorry, this incident was caused by negligence and failing to heed red flags. Why? It was already late and over-buget.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | June 14, 2010 9:27 AM | Report abuse

Oops...got a weird message in computerese in the space between those two.

Steve Benen notes this typical bit of idiocy and deceit from Bill Kristol this weekend...

"The Weekly Standard editor suggested there was no reason to hold President Obama "personally accountable" for the disaster and spill fallout, but Kristol nevertheless sees this as "a blow" to "Obamaism." He added, "I mean, it's a blow to the notion that the federal government, a notion that he's deeply identified with, is sort of omnipotent."

Read Benen's response... http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/ (The Wrong Lessons Learned)

Posted by: bernielatham | June 14, 2010 9:27 AM | Report abuse

Bernie says:

"What really catches my attention here though is not just the power of the pro-Likud lobby to direct Republicans and Dems ..."

Ahhh...the seemingly timeless Jewish conspiracy.

Posted by: ScottC3 | June 14, 2010 9:33 AM | Report abuse

Funny, Bilgeman, you were singing a different tune just a couple days ago:

suezkoo:
"Note the WSJ letter to the editor from Terry Barr, President of Samson Gas & Oil calling out the red flags that BP ignored. He concludes (but read the whole letter):"

Good Lord, but that's powerful!

The ugly naked truth, laid out as linearly as one could ask for.

These moonbats are barking up the "Liability Cap" tree for a different reason than they are claiming.
BeePee ain't getting out of it's responsibilities for Macondo by invoking OPA'90.

One of the many other dogs that haven;t barked is the communications records and paper trail between Company Man Vidrine and BeePee World HQ.

That evidence should be illuminating.

Posted by: Bilgeman | June 12, 2010 3:22 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: suekzoo1 | June 14, 2010 9:34 AM | Report abuse

Mike Allen's play book on Politico is reporting that Obama will use tomorrow's address to push for Climate change legislation. Also, Obama will be pushing hard in tomorrow's speech for the Kerry/Lieberman's approach to carbon tax.

Perhaps the Obama administratin will not after all letting a crisis go to waste.

Posted by: maritza1 | June 14, 2010 9:35 AM | Report abuse

Bilge:

I read an article the other day arguing that the use of a nuclear explosion might be the solution to collapsing the well and shutting down the oil leak. Apparently the former Soviet Union did it successfully on a few occassions when they had accidents. You being the oil guy here, I was curious if you had any thoughts on this.

Posted by: ScottC3 | June 14, 2010 9:42 AM | Report abuse

ScottC said:"Bernie says:

"What really catches my attention here though is not just the power of the pro-Likud lobby to direct Republicans and Dems ..."

Ahhh...the seemingly timeless Jewish conspiracy."

You are quickly veering into the "not worth responding to" category, Scott. That would be a pity. You've ignored the specification of "Likud" and replaced it with "Jewish". Any one who takes the time to read Ha'aretz (Israel's oldest daily) will find multiple examples of since that event where Israeli Jews themselves voice the same opinion I just wrote.

Posted by: bernielatham | June 14, 2010 9:53 AM | Report abuse

What we need are hope and a vision. I would love to see that visionary we voted in as president attempt to unite us behind this common struggle like with 9/11. The nay sayers will always be there but this is the time for people who choose action over words to join hands and solve this problem...

My prayers are with you Mr. President...

Posted by: soapm | June 14, 2010 9:58 AM | Report abuse

Off topic...

Anyone see this article, this is a real game changer and our way out of the war in Afghanistan... An economy that isn't based on the poppy seed.

http://www1.voanews.com/english/news/asia/Report-Scientists-Discover-Stunning-Mineral-Wealth-in-Afghanistan-96280453.html

Posted by: soapm | June 14, 2010 10:04 AM | Report abuse

suezkoo1:
"Funny, Bilgeman, you were singing a different tune just a couple days ago"

I don't see how that is "singing a different tune", maybe in your mind it is, but you seem to be personalizing this far more than I am, and between the two of us, I;m far more likely to be one blown to smithereens or paddling around in the Gulf 50 miles offshore.

Look, no-one is saying that this was not apparently the result of the most appalling negligence and reckless endangerment, but when you climb on a soap-box and declare that Macondo was not an accident, it's going so absurdly far out on a limb that it makes you appear to be asinine.

And I think that when we have the benefit of hindsight, we will conclude that absurd asininity will have been one of the real impediments to capping the well and cleaning up the spill.

Now you claim that you work in the Patch, so you should darned well know better than to be contributing to the cartoon music of this symphony of stupidity.

Leave that to the Alleged Pedestrian, Liamility, and Chavez's spokestroll, stooge-b-gonne.

Posted by: Bilgeman | June 14, 2010 10:07 AM | Report abuse

All, check this out: Senate Dems demanding BP create $20 billion escrow fund:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/plum-line/2010/06/senate_dems_to_bp_20_million_e.html

Posted by: Greg Sargent | June 14, 2010 10:11 AM | Report abuse

Scott:
"I read an article the other day arguing that the use of a nuclear explosion might be the solution to collapsing the well and shutting down the oil leak. Apparently the former Soviet Union did it successfully on a few occassions when they had accidents. You being the oil guy here, I was curious if you had any thoughts on this."

My thoughts?

I think that it should be against the law to get THAT stoned.

Look, Jindal wasn't allowed to pile up sea-bed berms...mounds of dirt...for the sake of an environmental impact study/statement/voodoo ceremony, but someone wants to set off a sub-surface nuke 50 miles off the Louisiana coast?

Like...these speakers go to "11", y'see.

This is so ridiculously bad an idea that the whoever proposed it should be vigorously flogged.

The floor of the GoM is littered with pipelines and OTHER oil wells...that no-one has tested or engineered for a seismic shock, (mainly because no-one has ever proposed nuking the bedrock under the Gulf).

We MIGHT close Macondo..and blow out every other well within a 100 mile radius. Shock propagate much more efficiently in rock than in water or air.

And, there's the outside chance that instead of closing the well, the blast would open even MORE fissures down to the pay zone.

Good grief!

Posted by: Bilgeman | June 14, 2010 10:15 AM | Report abuse

@soapm: "Anyone see this article?"

Yes, and Josh Marshall at TPM has a thoughtful take on it.

Posted by: bernielatham | June 14, 2010 10:31 AM | Report abuse

Give Chuck Norris a snorkel and some Mighty Putty. Done.

Posted by: quarterback1 | June 14, 2010 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Bilge:

"I think that it should be against the law to get THAT stoned."

Alrighty then!

Posted by: ScottC3 | June 14, 2010 10:44 AM | Report abuse

Bernie:

"You've ignored the specification of "Likud"..."

I understand. (Wink, wink).

"You are quickly veering into the "not worth responding to" category, Scott."

I think you made that determination when I called you out on your loathsome and ugly comments about Rubin, and you refused to respond.

Posted by: ScottC3 | June 14, 2010 10:57 AM | Report abuse

@scottc3: Why is it that Israeli citizens and groups who take a far more pro-Palestinian line are not accused of "anti-Jewish conspiracy", but the same or even lesser criticisms from the a US observer brings the ultra-zionist fringe to denounce the observers of reanimating the "everybody hates the Jews" meme to shout down those often very legitimate criticisms. Can you say double standard...?

Posted by: srw3 | June 14, 2010 11:13 AM | Report abuse

Regardless of what is causing the global climate change, the USA still has to convert to clean energy, and has to wean itself from depending on imported oil.

All the energy change steps that are being called for, to offset the effects of global warming, would still need to be taken, even if global warming was not being accelerated by humans.

We have to make the energy conversation,anyway, and only Far Right Wing Luddites, and big polluters, are standing in the way of getting the job done.

Posted by: Liam-still | June 14, 2010 11:36 AM | Report abuse

srw:

"Why is it that Israeli citizens and groups who take a far more pro-Palestinian line..."

My comments were not prompted in the least by any "pro-Palestinian line". They were prompted by the notion that our government is being "directed" by some nefarious outside group.

Posted by: ScottC3 | June 14, 2010 11:41 AM | Report abuse

@scottsc3:They were prompted by the notion that our government is being "directed" by some nefarious outside group.

The point still remains.

"What really catches my attention here though is not just the power of the pro-Likud lobby to direct Republicans and Dems"

Are you challenging the veracity of this statement? Either it is the case that dems and repubs are more responsive to the Likud factions in the Israeli government than they are to the very large, 2 state, land for peace, minority in Israel, or it isn't. I haven't heard very many (if any) mainstream repubs or dems even acknowledge that there is a wide diversity of opinion in Israel on Palestinian rights and solutions to the occupation. Whether or not they are "directed" by Likud, they certainly stick to the Likud line on the occupied territories and simultaneously avoid any criticism from most American Jewish organizations for being "anti-Israel" even though they only support 1 faction (and not a majority or they wouldn't need the ultra-orthodox parties to build a majority coalition) of Israeli polity. Is it outside direction or internal self-censorship? The result is the same. And at no point did the poster make any statements that the Likud "influence" over congress critters was "nefarious".

Posted by: srw3 | June 14, 2010 12:18 PM | Report abuse

srw:

"Are you challenging the veracity of this statement?"

No. I presume that Bernie knows best what does and does not really catch his attention. What I do challenge, however, is the notion that either the R's or the D's are being "directed" by Jews in general or any particular faction of Jews.

"And at no point did the poster make any statements that the Likud "influence" over congress critters was "nefarious"."

You've put the word influence in quotation marks, but the word he used was "direct". And I am sure you actually believe that Bernie finds the notion of our government being "directed" by a lobby whose raison d' etre is the promotion of a a foreign political party to be perfectly benign. Are you interested in buying a bridge from England, too?

Posted by: ScottC3 | June 14, 2010 1:01 PM | Report abuse

I thought our government was being directed by ACORN and Jeremiah Wright.

Posted by: cmccauley60 | June 14, 2010 1:14 PM | Report abuse

@sc3:[I challenge]... the notion that either the R's or the D's are being "directed" by Jews in general or any particular faction of Jews.

Again, it is the results that matter. Whether congresscritters are "directed" by the Pro-Likud lobby or they self censor and don't mention other points of view out of deference to the pro-Likud lobby (to avoid the "anti-semitic, anti-Jew label) the results are the same, a totally 1 sided view of the Palestinian crisis and policy solutions that only benefit Israel and not the Palestinians (like supporting the capricious blockade, regardless of the human toll or the transparent and illegal collective punishment it exacts which Shumer referred to in his speech to the Orthodox Union and various Israeli officials also espouse.)

Posted by: srw3 | June 14, 2010 1:17 PM | Report abuse

@sc3:[I challenge]... the notion that either the R's or the D's are being "directed" by Jews in general or any particular faction of Jews.

Again, it is the results that matter. Whether congresscritters are "directed" by the Pro-Likud lobby or they self censor and don't mention other points of view out of deference to the pro-Likud lobby (to avoid the "anti-semitic, anti-Jew label) the results are the same, a totally 1 sided view of the Palestinian crisis and policy solutions that only benefit Israel and not the Palestinians (like supporting the capricious blockade, regardless of the human toll or the transparent and illegal collective punishment it exacts which Shumer referred to in his speech to the Orthodox Union and various Israeli officials also espouse.)

Posted by: srw3 | June 14, 2010 1:19 PM | Report abuse

The Gulf Catastrophe could have been avoided if the US were growing algae. Algae is renewable, does not affect the food channel and consumes CO2. No explosions, no fires, no deaths and no environmental problems. What's wrong with that???

Algae has been researched in US universities for over 35 years. It's time to move it out of the lab and go into commercial-scale production. Algaepreneurs are starting to build commercial-scale plants throughout the US using all off-the-shelf existing technologies. More algae production plants are coming online. Algae is one solution to get the US off of foreign oil and create new jobs right here in the US. The algae industry is being built today by Americans who all want to get off foreign oil.

Posted by: fatalgae | June 14, 2010 2:42 PM | Report abuse

srw:

"Again, it is the results that matter."

Matter to what? It is one thing to argue that a person has the wrong politics on a given issue. It is quite another to argue that the person is taking orders from foreign interests. The first questions their judgment which is standard politics. The latter questions both their sincerity and their fidelity to their nation and oath of office, which is something else entirely. That difference matters to me, even if not to you.

Posted by: ScottC3 | June 14, 2010 3:04 PM | Report abuse

@SC3: Self censorship in criticizing Israel and supporting the pro-likud line for fear of retaliation from pro Likud groups has the same effect as those groups "directing" congresscritters to espouse a pro likud line...

Posted by: srw3 | June 14, 2010 4:22 PM | Report abuse

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