Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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June 18, 2010

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

* In the most successful day since the crisis began, containment mechanisms were able to capture 25,290 barrels of oil gushing from the wrecked well in the Gulf yesterday.

* BP CEO Tony Hayward is "being relieved of day-to-day responsibility for managing the Gulf of Mexico oil spill," and the reins will be handed to BP Managing Director. Bob Dudley. I guess this means Hayward can get his "life back"?

* Afghanistan: "Three Americans and a British soldier died in fighting Friday in southern Afghanistan, raising to 34 the number of U.S. troops killed in the war so far this month."

* Faced with opposition from Blue Dogs and the Congressional Black Caucus, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi yesterday pulled the DISCLOSE Act, the campaign-finance bill pending in the chamber. Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Chris Van Hollen said obituaries for the proposal are "very, very premature."

* It took some Senate scrambling, but the Medicare "doc fix" passed today. It was approved without a roll call vote.

* North Korea: "Bowing to reality, the North Korean government has lifted all restrictions on private markets -- a last-resort option for a leadership desperate to prevent its people from starving."

* In Florida, Senate candidate Marco Rubio (R) has an odd sense of "personal responsibility."

* CIA torture review: "Attorney General said Thursday evening that the Justice Department prosecutor conducting a review of torture of detainees by the CIA, which was launched last August, is 'close to the end of the time that he needs and will be making some recommendations to me,' Main Justice reports."

* C Street members off the hook: "The Office of Congressional Ethics has dropped its investigation into whether several Members of Congress received an improper gift in the form of below-market rent at a Capitol Hill townhouse, five of the lawmakers' offices have confirmed."

* I'd feel better about Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) if he stopped saying making claims with no basis in reality.

* An important argument at the American Constitution Society event yesterday: "Republican senators and conservative jurists found themselves on the defensive after Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) blasted 'conservative activism' on federal courts."

* Great speech from AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka on immigration and economic policy.

* There was a problem with the live stream this morning, but the video of the entire Monthly/NAF event is now online.

* The "use income to promote diversity" public policy tactic is not easy.

* Even now, the right is still hung up on ACORN. How sad.

* It's seems more than a little bizarre for a state official to use Twitter to announce an impending execution. I get that it's a versatile application, but c'mon.

Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.

Steve Benen 5:30 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (29)

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Comments

"I'd feel better about Mitch McConnell if ..."

You would?

Why?

What's left after the lies?

Posted by: John Thullen on June 18, 2010 at 5:36 PM | PERMALINK

... containment mechanisms were able to capture 25,290 barrels of oil gushing from the wrecked well in the Gulf yesterday.

Does anyone else remember when we were assured that only about 5-10 thousand barrels a day were coming out of the well? Now they're capturing 29K+ and far more is still spewing into the gulf.

Posted by: thorin-1 on June 18, 2010 at 5:42 PM | PERMALINK

thorin-1, @17:42

I most certainly do remember, though it seems to me that BP's estimate was "5K max", while it was other sources which said it might be as much as 10K. The 25+K captured is still *less than half* of the current estimate of what's being spewed. Better than nothing, certainly...

Posted by: exlibra on June 18, 2010 at 6:00 PM | PERMALINK

Limbaugh's remarks about Obama and ACORN are so far off in fantasy land that someone should report them to his parole officer.

Posted by: T-Rex on June 18, 2010 at 6:06 PM | PERMALINK

In this case, McConnell was more-or-less right and most certainly had a basis in reality for his claim. Arguing a summary judgment motion is generally not the same thing as arguing a case, and arguing a couple of motions 20 years ago isn't anything akin to trial or appellate litigation experience. Most of the time arguing a motion for summary judgment is a formality to avoid malpractice rather than an actual argument. It's the kind of thing you don't care about and that the attorney actually arguing the case assigns to a junior attorney so he doesn't have to bother with it. Making such an argument is experience akin to the timely filing of papers 99+% of the time. It's the kind of experience that all lawyers get at one time or another unless they work really hard to avoid it.

Saying McConnell was wrong here amounts to pedantic nitpicking at best. Kagan clearly had no relevant experience in the courtroom prior to becoming Solicitor General.

Posted by: R. Johnston on June 18, 2010 at 6:17 PM | PERMALINK

The following piece is disturbing but needs consideration. It is similar to the one I linked in the Barton fallout thread, and may explain why leak estimates keep rising: not because the same outflow is being reevaluated, but because it really is increasing.
http://www.businessinsider.com/heres-why-top-kill-and-every-other-top-down-leak-operation-will-fail-2010-6
This author, who wrote that on the Oil Drum, thinks the well hole is ruptured way down and so top-kill was doomed as is any higher-up procedure - and maybe the relief wells can't work either. That may explain why BP is trying to suck up the oil, that may be all they can really do and they found out during the top-kill attempt. So if there's going to be a solution, it may be setting up a way to siphon up most of the oil instead of stopping the leak. If true we need a big international effort to deal with this, more like the Marshall Plan.

Posted by: Neil B on June 18, 2010 at 6:19 PM | PERMALINK

I have posted this link on several occasions. I don't know if anyone is reading it, but since Neil B has suggested a worse scenario than most are willing to acknowledge, this may add another layer of evidence to the growing tragedy that is the Gusher in the Gulf. Gulf News; From Bad to Worse
If this is the case, then it is time that all resources be brought to bear on this event. It is way beyond politics, national security or our petty differences of race, creed, color, domestic partnership, etc. If ever we are to be joined as a family in a common cause, this seems to be it. I think it was the movie, Independence Day, that had the global leaders come together to fight the invading space aliens. Well, we are being invaded by our own inner earth and we must address the possibility of global consequences, now rather than later.

Posted by: st john on June 18, 2010 at 6:52 PM | PERMALINK

C Street members off the hook

Great. Someone remind me what the purpose of the Office of Congressional -- ahem -- "ethics," is? You'd think, with this Congress especially, that they'd be inundated with complaints and cases, but it seems they're more like the Maytag repairman, snoring away...

Posted by: electrolite on June 18, 2010 at 7:06 PM | PERMALINK

Geez....take a look at the comments at "The Hill" link about Franken. There are whole lot of wingnuts out there.

What those folks are saying is down right scary.

Posted by: stlouisguy on June 18, 2010 at 7:20 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe an anti-Barton ad could have someone say, "Joe, you bet your sweet BP Americans don't like your apology to the company that caused our greatest environmental tragedy," but maybe not enough viewers would remember Laugh In.

Posted by: Neil B on June 18, 2010 at 7:36 PM | PERMALINK
* BP CEO Tony Hayward is "being relieved of day-to-day responsibility for managing the Gulf of Mexico oil spill," and the reins will be handed to BP Managing Director. Bob Dudley. I guess this means Hayward can get his "life back"?

Shouldn't the Justice Dept. be holding Lord Tony's passport or his body till the murder investigation is complete.
That would be buch simpler than asking the British to extradite one of their own.

Posted by: cwolf on June 18, 2010 at 7:48 PM | PERMALINK

BP's estimate was "5K max"

That was the Coast Guard and NOAA's estimate, not BP's. It was made very early in the spill on the basis of aerial surveillance, which is not a good way to estimate a leak originating a mile deep.

Posted by: Swift Loris on June 18, 2010 at 8:05 PM | PERMALINK
Pelosi yesterday pulled the DISCLOSE Act, the campaign-finance bill pending in the chamber.

Screw the Disclose Act. How about
"The Corporations Ain't People Act."

Lets see the Rabidpublicans vote against that !

Posted by: cwolf on June 18, 2010 at 8:10 PM | PERMALINK

The following piece is disturbing but needs consideration.

Reposting my comment about this piece from the other thread:

The doomsday-scenario comment at this link turns out to have been lifted from a site called GodlikeProductions.com that advertises itself as "UFOs/Conspiracy Theorists/Lunatric Fringe." At the bottom of the home page there's a lengthy Disclaimer essentially warning readers that they shouldn't take anything they find on the site seriously, that it's for entertainment only.

Knowledgeable commenters on other OilDrum posts discussing this scenario have refuted it pretty thoroughly.

The real situation in the Gulf is bad enough. No need to make it worse with doomsday fantasies.

Posted by: Swift Loris on June 18, 2010 at 8:14 PM | PERMALINK

this may add another layer of evidence to the growing tragedy that is the Gusher in the Gulf

It doesn't. It's a mixture of things we already know posed as if they were sensational revelations, misinformation, and doomsday-mongering.

If that's so, then the well will run until Obama nukes it.

One quick way to evaluate the validity of any scare story about the well: if it suggests that nuking it is a serious possibility, you can cross it off your list.

Posted by: Swift Loris on June 18, 2010 at 8:22 PM | PERMALINK

The 25+K captured is still *less than half* of the current estimate of what's being spewed.

FWIW, according to Thad Allen of the Coast Guard in a briefing today, the current flow is most likely around 35K bpd; 60K bpd is the high end of the most recent expert estimate, and he thinks that's way too high.

Posted by: Swift Loris on June 18, 2010 at 8:25 PM | PERMALINK

SwiftLoris, I guess you mean the Rob Kall piece. The bio he gives says this:

Rob Kall is executive editor, publisher and site architect of OpEdNews.com, Host of the Rob Kall Bottom Up Radio Show (WNJC 1360 AM), President of Futurehealth, Inc, inventor. He is also published regularly on the Huffingtonpost.com

He doesn't sound like a complete weirdo to me. I saw that forum, people post their own comments there. Maybe the "lift" went the other way around? (I couldn't find that one anyway, care to post a direct link? How did you find it?)

As for the Oil Drum piece (not by one of the regulars) I guess we don't even know who that is. But again, that isn't the material someone is going to pluck off a weird forum (again, it would have gone the other way) and TOD staff would have never posted it if no credibility (REM it wasn't just a "comment.")

I do note some apparent errors even there, such as the claim "no disk-like objects deep in the well" but others said there was mention of them in plans etc. But that's for real debate, not silly blow offs. I think the idea of damage extending further down the well hole should be considered since the consequences would be so bad - but like you, I'm no expert and wouldn't know.

Posted by: Neil B on June 18, 2010 at 8:51 PM | PERMALINK

So if Hayward gets fired, can he apply to the Escrow Fund for his lost salary?

Also, the early estimates were rough, and BP almost certainly lowballed them (because if they were able to disperse them with dispersants and were getting fined per barrel, who could say what the fine should be), but nonetheless there are plenty of reasons for the discharge to change over time, as the well could easily erode larger, or might even collapse and block itself up a bit. But it's reasonably certain that the spill will not be improved by making it radioactive.

Posted by: N.Wells on June 18, 2010 at 8:52 PM | PERMALINK

stlouisguy: Yeah, I've wondered in the past about the comments on The Hill, which I would only read when there is a link from here or Americablog or somewhere. The Hill site seems nonpartisan, and all about what you would think. But the comments are like from a bunch of moronic reactionary dittohead Palinistas. Anyone know what's going on there?

Posted by: emjayay on June 18, 2010 at 8:53 PM | PERMALINK

Swift Loris, maybe you mean this thread:
http://www.godlikeproductions.com/forum1/message1104776/pg1
which is indeed a quote from the OpEdNews article, which itself was quoting some "source" inside BP; so what. I don't know how credible that is but it seems reasonable the TOD piece must be taken seriously.

Posted by: Neil B on June 18, 2010 at 8:56 PM | PERMALINK

The revolution is not being broadcast

Funding doubled for bicycling, walking projects

The Obama administration more than doubled transportation spending on bicycling and walking last year as it seeks to coax Americans out of their cars, according to a Federal Highway Administration report released Wednesday.
Spending on biking and walking projects rose from less than $600 million in 2008 to $1.2 billion in 2009. Twenty years ago, the federal government was spending only $6 million a year on such projects.
The new focus on biking and walking represents a turnaround from the administration of President George W. Bush. Mary Peters, transportation secretary under Bush, dismissed biking paths and trails as projects that "really are not transportation," saying they had no place in federal transportation policy.
In March, Obama's transportation secretary, Ray LaHood, announced a policy "sea change" that gives biking and walking projects the same importance as automobiles in transportation planning and the selection of projects for federal money.
Posted by: koreyel on June 18, 2010 at 9:18 PM | PERMALINK

I was just at the WH website where I typed
"fucking BP oil volcano" into their Search.
The sad results?
"Your search yielded no results"

They simply don't have the right attitude about this disaster.

Posted by: cwolf on June 18, 2010 at 9:45 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks koreyel for posting that. So many think Obama isn't even trying, and that just helps BPublicans get ahead.
(I think "BPublicans" might work better than the "ReBPublicans" I've been pushing.)

Posted by: Neil B on June 18, 2010 at 9:47 PM | PERMALINK

Well, I get a little obsessed with fine-tuning satirical names etc. (very "anal" they say ...) but perhaps a good way to pronounce it is, "Bee-Pee-blicans" and maybe spelled BPblicans or BPeeblicans (since they piss on the pee-ons like such corporations do) but at this point my paraterminological OCD is getting the better of me.

Posted by: Neil B. on June 18, 2010 at 9:57 PM | PERMALINK

(Franken) What those folks are saying is down right scary. - stlouisguy @19:20

And groundless. Just a bunch of anti liberal spew. None of it is on-topic but gives a sense that all the noise is just that.

Posted by: Kevin (not the famous one) on June 18, 2010 at 10:44 PM | PERMALINK

@Neil B--I responded to you, but clearing up the confusion made it so long that it's being held for approval. Hope it gets posted eventually.

Posted by: Swift Loris on June 18, 2010 at 11:33 PM | PERMALINK

Koreyel, good reminder that not everybody has to move by automobile. Cities were designed way before cars were!

A few days ago someone linked to three wheel "business bikes" for city transportation. They are manufactured all over the planet, mostly by one and two person enterprises.

In 1955 I spent a year in Tokyo, and remember the 2 wheel bicycles delivering noontime noodle boxes piled ten high on the back. And the three wheel motorcycles with a pick-up truck body.

In Europe there are bike lanes where cyclists can-and do-ride ten abreast during rush hour.

Not for everybody, but it can be the Urban Solution. Here in the 'burbs, I am hauling a few hundred pounds of pottery 25 miles this morning, and I don't own a horse. . .

Posted by: DAY on June 19, 2010 at 6:21 AM | PERMALINK

Swift Loris, anyone - just send me email. It's neil_delver -at- y a h o o dot c o m. I want to correspond with some people here anyway. Few will look this late, but you might.

Posted by: Neil B on June 19, 2010 at 10:39 AM | PERMALINK
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