As transparent as crude oil.

As transparent as crude oil.

Aaron Gee

The Federal Government and the Coast Guard have issued new restrictions on press access to the Gulf oil spill and clean up.  Reporters are not allowed within 65 feet of any cleanup vessel, or booms on land or in water.  Failure to obey these directives is a class D Felony, with fines up to $40,000. This comes on the heals of a House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform report that found that the Obama administration had repeatedly provided false information on what assets were being used in the clean up, when officials knew about the leak, and the depth of Federal involvement in the operations. 

President Obama has been remarkably thin skinned and it’s clear from my perspective that Obama is trying desperately to control the negative images that come from the gulf oil disaster.  The Press restrictions are so egregious that even CNN’s Anderson Cooper is upset.  In his broadcast (embedded video) he repeatedly says “we are not the enemy here”, referring to the press. The recent actions by the Coast Guard , in direct contradiction to their earlier statements, have more and more reporters hopping mad. The clear implication of these actions is that Administrations is trying to cover up government incompetence and failure. 

The new restrictions on press access aren’t the only issue, another problem is that the media is still reluctant to place blame for government incompetence at the feet of Obama. Instead of looking to the Obama Administration in light of the new regulations, the media is blaming Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen. It would seem that the press still doesn’t understand what the term “Commander-in-Chief” actually means.  The US Military has always been a favorite press target and the recent criticisms continue the trend.

Sadly, the media still doesn’t “get it”.  They are being played just as eloquently now as they were during the 2008 campaign.  Our “watchdog” press has been fawning over President Obama in spite of his unkept promises, cover ups, and incompetence.  The masters of spin and distraction at the White House know this and are hard at work  on a new story line for the media to swallow.  In the fairy tale version of events Obama will have done nothing wrong but the bad Coast Guard (Military types) and evil BP (Corporate types) will be obstructing the President’s attempt to be transparent and clean up the gulf.  Expect the White House to push this storyline and expect the media to go along despite all evidence to the contrary.  Expect the American people to not be so easily fooled.

The War on Sarah Palin Really is a War on Conservatives

The War on Sarah Palin Really is a War on Conservatives

2010 June 26

It’s getting rather old, but the Left continues to attack one of the most influential conservative women alive today: Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.

When she was invited to speak at Stanislaus university in California last Friday, leftist students immediately went through trash cans, trying to figure out how much Palin was being paid. They organized protests, asked their friends of the mainstream media for help, and altogether did their best to ruin what eventually became the most successful fundraising dinner in the university’s history.

The material recovered by the students, which detailed perks such as first-class airfare for two and deluxe hotel accommodations, prompted California Attorney General Jerry Brown to launch an investigation into the finances of the university’s foundation arm and allegations that the nonprofit violated public disclosure laws.

Would they have done the same thing if Palin was a leftist? Have you ever heard of progressive students protesting against the speaking fees of, say, Al Gore or Hillary Clinton? No, of course you haven’t. That’s because this is not about fairness or money but about Palin’s ideology. She is a conservative, and that’s reason enough for leftist students to ruin her evening and to disgrace the university that invited her.

This non-scandal once again proves that conservatives are engaged in a political war with progressives. Too often conservative pundits and politicians think we should be ‘civilized’. We should not, because our enemies certainly are not either. When you are engaged in a war all that matters is that you win. If this means you have to fight dirty every now and then, so be it. The Left understands this, too many on the Right do not. Let Palin’s treatment at Stanislaus serve as a wake up call for those who still believe that manners matter.

Obama: ‘You’ve got a lot of golf courses here, don’t you?

Obama: ‘You’ve got a lot of golf courses here, don’t you?’

J.C. Arenas

President Obama is visiting Canada for the G8 and G20 meetings. Looks like he has something else on his mind:

When U.S. President Barack Obama stepped off his helicopter in Huntsville on Friday, the first thing he said was, “You’ve got a lot of golf courses here, don’t you?” Industry Minister Tony Clement told the National Post in an exclusive interview.
“I told him, ‘We would really recommend and love it if you could come back here with Michelle and the kids at some point – we think you’d really love it here,'” Minister Clement said on the sidewalk of Huntsville’s Main Street, in his home riding. “I think I’ve planted a seed in the President’s mind.”

Time for Obama to Lead or Leave

Time for Obama to Lead or Leave

That should be the headline of the day.

Barack Obama has just announced that Gen. Stanley McChrystal has been relieved of command in Afghanistan based on an article in Rolling Stone which barely quoted McChrystal, but did include numerous inflammatory remarks by anonymous staffers and third-party commentators.

The Rolling Stone article was a hatchet job to create the impression that McChrystal was doing the criticizing.

But as I demonstrated yesterday, almost no quotes were attributed to McChrystal.

By firing McChrystal based on the Rolling Stone article, Obama has handed over control of the Afghan war to left-wing tabloids which happen to get close enough to a commander that they can weave a sensational story based on almost nothing.

Obama has replaced McChrystal with Gen. David Petraeus, who was lampooned by Obama’s base as General Betray Us when Petraeus was Bush’s chosen military leader.

The McChrystal discharge, even if you believe it was warranted on the merits, reflects a deeper problem of a Commander in Chief who has not earned the respect of the military at a crucial time in the Afghanistan war.

Starting with the delayed decision making process, and then the arbitrary political deadline Obama set last fall for withdrawal from Afghanistan, Obama has sown confusion in the ranks.

It’s time for Obama to lead, or to leave.

——————————————–
Related Posts:
Now They’re Just Starting to Ask Questions About Afghanistan?
Why Isn’t The Troops’ Urgency Fierce Now?
Someone Tell The Dawdler-in-Chief This Is Not A Term Paper

Deepwater Drilling Ban Lifted by New Orleans Federal Judge

Deepwater Drilling Ban Lifted by New Orleans Federal Judge

By Laurel Brubaker Calkins and Margaret Cronin Fisk – Jun 22, 2010
U.S. Deepwater Drilling Ban Lifted

Cranes load and unload ships normally used for offshore drilling operations in the Gulf of Mexico in Port Fourchon, Louisiana. Photographer: Derick E. Hingle/Bloomberg

A New Orleans federal judge lifted the six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling imposed by President Barack Obama following the largest oil spill in U.S. history. Drilling services shares jumped on the news.

Obama temporarily halted all drilling in waters deeper than 500 feet on May 27 to give a presidential commission time to study improvements in the safety of offshore operations. More than a dozen Louisiana offshore service and supply companies sued U.S. regulators to lift the ban. The U.S. said it will appeal the decision.

U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman today granted a preliminary injunction, halting the moratorium. He also “immediately prohibited” the U.S. from enforcing the ban. Government lawyers told Feldman that ban was based on findings in a U.S. report following the sinking of the Deepwater Horizon rig off the Louisiana coast in April.

“The court is unable to divine or fathom a relationship between the findings and the immense scope of the moratorium,” Feldman said in his 22-page decision. “The blanket moratorium, with no parameters, seems to assume that because one rig failed and although no one yet fully knows why, all companies and rigs drilling new wells over 500 feet also universally present an imminent danger.”

Separate Order

“The court cannot substitute its judgment for that of the agency, but the agency must ‘cogently explain why it has exercised its discretion in a given manner,’” Feldman said, citing a previous ruling. “It has not done so.”

Feldman in a separate order today “immediately prohibited” the U.S. from enforcing the drilling moratorium, finding the offshore companies would otherwise incur “irreparable harm.”

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said that “continuing to drill at these depths without knowing what happened does not make any sense.”

Transocean Ltd., which leased the Deepwater Horizon to BP Plc, jumped as much as 3.5 percent in New York trading after the decision was announced. Hornbeck Offshore Services Inc., which brought the suit, surged as much as 11 percent.

The U.S. argued that the moratorium was necessary to assure public safety.

“We need to make sure deepwater drilling is as safe as we thought it was the day before this incident,” Brian Collins, a lawyer for the government, told Feldman in a court hearing June 21. “It is crucial to take the time because to fail to do so would be to gamble with the long-term future of this region.”

Biggest Quantity

BP has two pipes collecting oil and gas from the ocean floor. They collected 25,830 barrels of oil yesterday, the biggest quantity diverted from the Gulf of Mexico since the April 20 spill began, London-based BP said in a statement. BP spokesman David Nicholas declined to comment on the ruling, saying the company was not a party to the case.

Lawyers for the drilling companies told Feldman the moratorium illegally sidesteps a required industry comment period. They also said regulators failed to tell Obama that all active deepwater rigs passed an immediate re-inspection after the Deepwater Horizon exploded and sank, with only two rigs reporting minor violations and the rest getting approval to continue operations.

Henry Dart, special counsel for the Louisiana attorney general, told Feldman that federal regulators failed to consult with state officials about the impact of the drilling ban, allegedly violating U.S. law.

Jobs in Danger

“Even after the catastrophic events of Sept. 11, the government only shut down the airlines for three days,” Louisiana said in court papers seeking to lift the ban.

Lawyers for the state and oilfield companies told Feldman that the ban could cost as many as 20,000 jobs if the moratorium lasted 18 months.

“The defendants trivialize such losses by characterizing them as merely a small percentage of the drilling rigs affected, but it does not follow that this will somehow reduce the convincing harm suffered,” Feldman said. He said the economic impacts of the ban would “clearly ripple throughout the economy of this region.”

Feldman granted the injunction after finding it likely the oilfield companies will succeed in proving “the agency’s decision was arbitrary and capricious,” which violates federal law governing policy decisions.

‘Immeasurable’ Effect

“An invalid agency decision to suspend drilling of wells in depths over 500 feet simply cannot justify the immeasurable effect on the plaintiffs, the local economy, the Gulf region, and the critical present-day aspect of the availability of domestic energy in the country,” Feldman said.

“Today’s ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Martin Feldman is an important step in returning thousands of oil service workers to their jobs,” Royal Dutch Shell Plc spokesman Bill Tanner said in an e-mailed statement.

“Shell remains confident in its expertise and procedures to safely drill and complete deepwater wells.” Shell’s safety standards often exceed regulatory requirements and include including a rigorous training program for well engineers, Tanner said.

Kjersti Torgersen, a spokeswoman for Statoil ASA in Houston, did not immediately respond to a telephone call seeking comment. Todd M. Hornbeck, CEO of Hornbeck Offshore, didn’t immediately return a call for comment.

Little Change

Realistically, not a lot has changed, said Jud Bailey, an analyst at Jefferies & Co. in Houston.

“It’s a small victory for the industry, but clearly the administration has dug in its heels and is going to try to keep this moratorium, come hell or high water,” Bailey said today in a telephone interview. “Investors, as it relates to the drillers, are for the most part staying away. There’s too much uncertainty, too much headline risk.”

Bailey said he doesn’t think many operators would run out and immediately try to resume operations. “You run the risk of this getting overturned by the appellate court,” he said.

The case is Hornbeck Offshore Services LLC v. Salazar, 2:10-cv-01663, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana (New Orleans).

Obama spill panel big on policy, not engineering

Obama spill panel big on policy, not engineering

By SETH BORENSTEIN, AP Science Writer Seth Borenstein, Ap Science Writer Sun Jun 20, 12:02 am ET

WASHINGTON – The panel appointed by President Barack Obama to investigate the Gulf of Mexico oil spill is short on technical expertise but long on talking publicly about “America’s addiction to oil.” One member has blogged about it regularly.

Only one of the seven commissioners, the dean of Harvard’s engineering and applied sciences school, has a prominent engineering background — but it’s in optics and physics. Another is an environmental scientist with expertise in coastal areas and the after-effects of oil spills. Both are praised by other scientists.

The five other commissioners are experts in policy and management.

The White House said the commission will focus on the government’s “too cozy” relationship with the oil industry. A presidential spokesman said panel members will “consult the best minds and subject matter experts” as they do their work.

The commission has yet to meet, yet some panel members had made their views known.

Environmental activist Frances Beinecke on May 27 blogged: “We can blame BP for the disaster and we should. We can blame lack of adequate government oversight for the disaster and we should. But in the end, we also must place the blame where it originated: America’s addiction to oil.” And on June 3, May 27, May 22, May 18, May 4, she called for bans on drilling offshore and the Arctic.

“Even as questions persist, there is one thing I know for certain: the Gulf oil spill isn’t just an accident. It’s the result of a failed energy policy,” Beinecke wrote on May 20.

Two other commissioners also have gone public to urge bans on drilling.

Co-chairman Bob Graham, a Democrat who was Florida governor and later a senator, led efforts to prevent drilling off his state’s coast. Commissioner Donald Boesch of the University of Maryland wrote in a Washington Post blog that the federal government had planned to allow oil drilling off the Virginia coast and “that probably will and should be delayed.”

Boesch, who has made scientific assessments of oil spills’ effects on the ecosystem, said usually oil spills are small. But he added, “The impacts of the oil and gas extraction industry (both coastal and offshore) on Gulf Coast wetlands represent an environmental catastrophe of massive and underappreciated proportions.”

An expert not on the commission, Granger Morgan, head of the engineering and public policy department at Carnegie Mellon University and an Obama campaign contributor, said the panel should have included more technical expertise and “folks who aren’t sort of already staked out” on oil issues.

Jerry Taylor of the libertarian Cato Institute described the investigation as “an exercise in political theater where the findings are preordained by the people put on the commission.”

When the White House announced the commission, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and others made compared it with the one that investigated the 1986 Challenger accident. This one, however, doesn’t have as many technical experts.

The 13-member board that looked into the first shuttle accident had seven engineering and aviation experts and three other scientists. The 2003 board that looked into the Columbia shuttle disaster also had more than half of the panel with expertise in engineering and aviation.

Iraj Ersahaghi, who heads the petroleum engineering program the University of Southern California, reviewed the names of oil spill commissioners and asked, “What do they know about petroleum?”

Ersahaghi said the panel needed to include someone like Bob Bea, a prominent petroleum engineering professor at the University of California, Berkeley, who’s an expert in offshore drilling and the management causes of manmade disasters.

Bea, who’s conducting his own investigation into the spill, told The Associated Press that his 66-member expert group will serve as a consultant to the commission, at the request of the panel’s co-chairman, William K. Reilly, Environmental Protection Agency chief under President George H.W. Bush.

Adm. Hal Gehman, who oversaw the Columbia accident panel, said his advice to future commissions is to include subject matter experts. His own expertise was management and policy but said his engineering-oriented colleagues were critical to sorting through official testimony.

“Don’t believe the first story; it’s always more complicated than they (the people testifying) would like you to believe,” Gehman said. “Complex accidents have complex causes.”

The oil spill commission will not be at a loss for technical help, White House spokesman Ben LaBolt said.

For one, he said the panel will draw on a technical analysis that the National Association of Engineering is performing. Also, members will “consult the best minds and subject matter experts in the Gulf, in the private sector, in think tanks and in the federal government as they conduct their research.”

That makes sense, said John Marburger, who was science adviser to President George W. Bush.

“It’s not really a technical commission,” Marburger said. “It’s a commission that’s more oriented to understanding the regulatory and organizational framework, which clearly has a major bearing on the incident.”

___

Online:

Executive order creating the commission: http://tinyurl.com/spillpanel

White House announcement on commissioners: http://tinyurl.com/25g39t4

Frances Beinecke’s blog archive: http://tinyurl.com/3p86vx

Rahmbo criticizes BP’s Hayward for yachting while Obama golfs

Rahmbo criticizes BP’s Hayward for yachting while Obama golfs

Rick Moran

Talk about tone deaf…

White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel laid into BP’s CEO Tony Hayward for going yachting with his son instead of paying attention every minute of the day to the oil spill.

Meanwhile, our president took in a 5 hour round of golf with his vice president. Last Saturday, it was a 4 hour tour of the links.

President Barack Obama hit the golf course Saturday with Vice President Joe Biden.The White House pool report noted that Obama left at about 1 p.m. for the course at Andrews Air Force base, and his golfing parters included White House Trip Director Marvin Nicholson and David Katz, the energy efficiency campaign manager at the Department of Energy.

Obama left the course shortly before 6 p.m.

Nicholson and Katz, along with Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, joined Obama for four hours of golf last weekend. The Republican National Committee released an ad soon afterward taking aim at Obama’s golfing during the ongoing BP oil spill crisis in the Gulf of Mexico.

The temperatures in the Washington, D.C., area Saturday were similar to last weekend, in the low 90s and humid.

Obama attended the Washington Nationals game Friday night wearing a cap for his hometown Chicago White Sox. Sources told the pool reporter that Obama sang “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” and left in the ninth inning, before the White Sox edged out the Nationals 2-1 in the 11th.

Someone should call this bully’s bluff. If he spent half as much time concentrating on containing the damage caused by the spill rather than figuring out ways to make people try and forget that no  on is in charge out in the Gulf and that his administration’s towering incompetence is turning a disaster into a catastrophe, the people of the Gulf coast would be better served.

Instead, we have this incredible spectacle of the chief of staff coming down on a guy who hasn’t seen his son in almost two months and wants to spend a few hours with him while the man responsible for containing the spill relaxes on the golf course as a couple of million gallons of oil are washing up on America’s shores. If things were going well out there, it might be excused. But it’s obvious to anyone that the containment effort is such a clusterfark that the president should be working overtime trying to fix what most observers are calling a “chaotic” situation.

If we’re not supposed to begrudge Obama his playtime, why should we do so for Hayward?

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