Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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May 3, 2010

MONDAY'S MINI-REPORT.... Today's edition of quick hits:

* Ugh: "Officials from the Obama administration and oil giant BP say it might take up to three months to seal off a leaking oil well 5,000 feet below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico that has created a massive environmental crisis that could affect much of the Gulf Coast."

* BP claims it's making some progress on stemming oil leaks. Of course, BP has claimed a lot of things.

* The administration has set up a website devoted exclusively to the BP Oil Spill.

* Times Square probe: "The police and F.B.I. investigators have interviewed the owner of the 1993 Nissan Pathfinder found loaded with explosives and rigged to blow up in Times Square, and do not consider that person to be a suspect in the case, the police said on Monday."

* Not acting alone? "The failed car bombing in Times Square increasingly appears to have been coordinated by more than one person in a plot with international links, Obama administration officials said Tuesday."

* U.N.: "Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and the United Nations' top leadership used a high-level nuclear conference Monday to publicly scold Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for his country's defiance of U.N. resolutions, while the United States and its European allies staged a walkout to protest Tehran's nuclear stance."

* Progress on rescuing Greece, but questions remain.

* Rep. Gene Taylor (D) of Mississippi doesn't seem to understand oil spills.

* Pakistan: "Army helicopter gunships pounded insurgent hideouts in northwest Pakistan on Sunday, killing at least 22 militants, a government official said."

* Good: "The FBI has launched a criminal investigation of the Massey Energy Co. mine where earlier this month an explosion killed 29 West Virginia miners, according to the Associated Press."

* I was mistaken; Alan Greenspan can look worse.

* Moving in the wrong direction on net neutrality.

* Don't expect Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to quit anytime soon.

* South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford (R) will not face criminal charges.

* It seems pretty likely that, in a few more decades, Asia will have some of the finest universities in the world.

* I'm still not crazy about charter schools.

* There's some good gay rights provisions in the Senate Dems' immigration reform blueprint.

* A sad development, about doors I've walked through more than a few times: "The Supreme Court is permanently closing its massive, bronze front doors to the public, citing security risks."

Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.

Steve Benen 5:30 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (20)

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While the public will not be able to enter through the front doors of the Supreme Court, they will still be used as an exit.

Posted by: Old School on May 3, 2010 at 5:40 PM | PERMALINK

As that NYT article made clear, there's a wide variety in the quality and success of charter schools. Hopefully, we'll see more like the Williamsburg school's model and less like the Cleveland one.

Posted by: TR on May 3, 2010 at 5:46 PM | PERMALINK

the United States and its European allies staged a walkout to protest Tehran's nuclear stance.

While the Russians and the Chinese stayed.

Posted by: Joe Friday on May 3, 2010 at 5:54 PM | PERMALINK
Steve: "I'm still not crazy about charter schools."

Same here. But that said, there's no getting around the fact that when the policy is implemented properly and managed correctly, charter schools, magnet schools and intrascholastic academies can actually enhance public education by addressing specific community needs, in lieu of the traditional one-size-fits-all McSchool approach.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on May 3, 2010 at 5:58 PM | PERMALINK

"The Supreme Court is permanently closing its massive, bronze front doors to the public,[...] -- Steve Benen

Who cares? The people that SCOTUS listens to enter through the back door.

Posted by: exlibra on May 3, 2010 at 6:03 PM | PERMALINK

Supreme Court Doors: Chalk up one more for the terrorists.

Posted by: Hankstone on May 3, 2010 at 6:13 PM | PERMALINK

I can't claim to know much about conditions 5,000' below the sea's surface, but I do know the surface.

Seems to me, if you deployed 1,000's of boats all laying/spinning absorbent booms, circling clockwise around the spill, constricting it in diameter while surface winds take charge coupled with currents, this spill can be choked off to a certain extent.

Imagine a ship actually manufacturing absorbent booms, circling the oil 24/7. That is the type of response needed at the surface.

Underwater. Now that's a very different beast.

Maybe we should sink subs and pipe off of them?

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on May 3, 2010 at 6:15 PM | PERMALINK

"The Supreme Court is permanently closing its massive, bronze front doors to the public, citing security risks."


Posted by: kc on May 3, 2010 at 6:28 PM | PERMALINK

I'd like to see the amounts of lobbying $s from Big Oil/BP and to whom and when paid. As far as I am concerned, this money is no more than bribery. I'm not sure the exact definition of bribery, but I think is has something to do with paying for a specific outcome facilitated by the recipient of the bribe. How does lobby money differ from this scenario? BP funnels millions thru their lobbyists to congresspeople, and congresspeople manipulate legislation to favor their contributors, BP et al. But, if I pay off a cop to not give me a ticket or to quash it before a court hearing, isn't that considered a bribe? Tell me the difference, please.

Congress was bribed to water down regulations on the oil companies, just to name a few.

Posted by: st john on May 3, 2010 at 6:32 PM | PERMALINK

"[Steve] was mistaken; Alan Greenspan can look worse.

Brrr! So we Americans are too stupid to understand, but he did?

Is the argument that if the Fed doesn't let people know it's a housing bubble the bubble will keep inflating, so it is okay?

Posted by: Lance on May 3, 2010 at 6:51 PM | PERMALINK

1,000's of boats all laying/spinning absorbent booms, circling clockwise around the spill ...

210,000 gallons or 5,000 barrels of oil/day.

Every day.

For two months.

At least.

Posted by: joel hanes on May 3, 2010 at 7:11 PM | PERMALINK

Gene Taylor spent 13 years in the Coast Guard. He has seen oil in the Gulf plenty of times. Maybe the people who predicted that the oil spill would have destroyed the coastal areas of four states by today are the ones who don't know what they are talking about.
On satellite images it is smaller today than it was last week because the seas and sun are breaking it down just as Taylor described.

Posted by: brian martin on May 3, 2010 at 7:21 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, Steve, charter schools are not living up to expectations, despite being given every advantage. They are not only doing a worse job than traditional public schools, they are siphoning money away from traditional schools in the process, making it harder for good schools to get better.

But charter schools should be doing better if only because parental involvement is a strong indicator of student success, and the fact that parents went to the trouble to enroll their children in charters indicates these schools are getting the cream of the crop.

The newest effort to boost charters by Arne Duncan is to reward states that expand them and punish those that don't, even though there's ample evidence they aren't as good as traditional schools. Thanks for providing the link to the NYT article.

Posted by: DevilDog on May 3, 2010 at 8:36 PM | PERMALINK

On September 12 2001, the bronze doors of the Arkansas State Capitol were closed to the public, due to security concerns; aside from special occasions, they remain barred. The doors were designed by Cass Gilbert (the building's second architect) and fabricated by the Tiffany Studios of New York. Since autumn 1910 they had served as the formal public entrance to the neoclassical building. Even before their closure, most visitors preferred to enter the Capitol via the ground-level portal but even now, a few hardy souls walk up the stone steps from time to time, and are disappointed that the "Tiffany doors" won't open for them.

Posted by: docdave on May 3, 2010 at 11:04 PM | PERMALINK

Granted, BP has stated they will pay all "legitimate" claims. When does the money begin to flow from BP into the pockets of people who are, right now, being affected by the gusher? I think the Government, since it seems to be in charge of the operation, should begin immediately collecting the 100s of millions of dollars/day that the clean-up and remediation is costing. Don't allow them to earn one cent of interest on their cash. I can see they will probably force a long term process of proving legitimacy to the funds they have promised. We know how much the costs of the military and other municipal resources are per day, so let them be paid, now.

Any thoughts?

Posted by: st john on May 4, 2010 at 12:28 AM | PERMALINK

RE: st john

My thoughts are:

HOW LONG CAN THIS GO ON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: joe on May 4, 2010 at 3:24 AM | PERMALINK

The charter school article did a good job explaining that most charter schools don't outperform comparable public schools -- despite the advantages they get that public schools don't (basically far fewer regulations and restrictions to follow).

However, this article doesn't mention that most charter schools have a pretty high attrition rate -- they lose students every year at a high rate. As in, they send back to the public schools the kids whose behavior doesn't fit in. So, while they may not "cream" the best students on the way into the school (via lotteries) they can and do certainly do so after kids are already in.

The higher the number of charters in an area, the more likely that over time all the difficult children, the least motivated, the most likely to act out, those with parents who can't or won't meet the demands of charters will be concentrated in public schools. As that happens, charters will become more popular -- even if the education they provide isn't better.

Posted by: Jen on May 4, 2010 at 6:16 AM | PERMALINK

So I guess the Times Square terrorist was not a teabagger.

Posted by: Tully on May 4, 2010 at 7:33 AM | PERMALINK

Tully, we have little idea about the would-be NYTS bomber but someone saw a white middle aged man walking from the vehicle - that's a "profiling" clue, right?
Also, re Republicans conning voters with a fake marijuana reform petition:

Posted by: neil bee on May 4, 2010 at 7:52 AM | PERMALINK

then-Chairman Alan Greenspan argued that dissent should be kept secret so that the Fed wouldn't lose control of the debate to people less well-informed than themselves.

"We run the risk, by laying out the pros and cons of a particular argument, of inducing people to join in on the debate, and in this regard it is possible to lose control of a process that only we fully understand," Greenspan said,

Is he so unfamiliar with the concept of "self-fulfilling prophecy"?

My estimation of Mr. Greenspan just took a major hit to the broadside. Men as smart as I thought he was aren't that arrogant.

Posted by: toowearyforoutrage on May 4, 2010 at 3:03 PM | PERMALINK
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