Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Fireside chat for May 29, 2010 (VIDEO)

Ahead of Memorial Day, the President asks all Americans to join him in remembering and honoring those who have died in service to the country.

TopKill doesn't seem to be working. Why? (VIDEO)

There actually is an answer, as Keith Olbermann's guest, Rick Steiner illustrates...

...and by illustrates, I mean, actually draws on a sheet of posterboard for the interview. C'mon Keith, couldn't you and your staff helped him with some fancy graphics?

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Friday, May 28, 2010

More on the speech...

The key part of the speech, and seeming a make-up for the reservations some had over yesterday's Press Conference.

As I said yesterday, and as I repeated in the meeting that we just left, I ultimately take responsibility for solving this crisis. I’m the President and the buck stops with me. So I give the people of this community and the entire Gulf my word that we’re going to hold ourselves accountable to do whatever it takes for as long as it takes to stop this catastrophe, to defend our natural resources, to repair the damage, and to keep this region on its feet. Justice will be done for those whose lives have been upended by this disaster, for the families of those whose lives have been lost -- that is a solemn pledge that I am making.

I think I can speak for anybody here, and for anybody who has been involved in the response and the cleanup effort, and for most Americans, when I say that I would gladly do whatever it takes to end this disaster today. But I want to also repeat something that I said to the group as a whole while we were meeting. This is a manmade catastrophe that’s still evolving and we face a long-term recovery and restoration effort.

America has never experienced an event like this before. And that means that as we respond to it, not every judgment we make is going to be right the first time out. Sometimes, there are going to be disagreements between experts, or between federal and state and local officials, or among state officials, or between states, about what the most effective measures will be.

Sometimes, there are going to be risks and unintended consequences associated with a particular mitigation strategy that we consider. In other words, there are going to be a lot of judgment calls involved here. There are not going to be silver bullets or a lot of perfect answers for some of the challenges that we face.

Understandably, the feelings of frustration and anger, the sense that any response is inadequate -- we expect that frustration and anger to continue until we actually solve this problem. But in the meantime, we’ve got to make sure that everybody is working in concert, that everybody is moving in the same direction. And I want everybody to know that everybody here -- at every level -- is working night and day to end this crisis. We’re considering every single idea out there, especially from folks who know these communities best.

Admiral Allen announced yesterday, for example, that, after a bunch of back-and-forth between state and federal experts, he is prepared to authorize moving forward with a portion of the idea for a barrier island that may stop some of the oil from coming ashore. We had an extensive conversation about this and -- to see whether additional steps can be taken on this barrier island idea.

And what I told the parish president, what I told the Governor, is that if there is an idea that can be shown to work, then we should move forward on it, and they deserve quick answers. But I also reminded everybody that we’ve got to make sure that whatever we do is actually going to work, particularly because we’re going to have not unlimited resources, at least not right now. For example, there’s a limited amount of boom. We’re going to try to get more boom manufactured. But that may take some time, and that means we’re going to have to make some decisions about how to deploy it effectively.

The bottom line is this: Every decision we make is based on a single criterion -– what’s going to best protect and make whole the people and the ecosystems of the Gulf.

And I want to thank everybody in this region who’s rolled up their sleeves and pitched in to help -– from the National Guard putting their experience to the task, to the local officials and every citizen who loves this area and calls it home, every American who’s traveled to the region to lend a hand. If any American is looking for ways to volunteer and help, then we’ve put links to that information on our website, as well -- that's

And, all these governors -- Bobby Jindal, as well as Charlie Crist and Bob Riley, they want -- and I know Haley Barbour is not here but I think he agrees with this, as well -- one of the powerful ways that you can help the Gulf right now is to visit the communities and the beaches off of the coast. Except for three beaches here in Louisiana, all of the Gulf’s beaches at this moment are open, they are safe and they are clean. And so that's always a good way to help, is to come down and provide support to the communities along the coasts.

To the people of the Gulf Coast: I know that you’ve weathered your fair share of trials and tragedy. I know there have been times where you’ve wondered if you were being asked to face them alone. I am here to tell you that you’re not alone. You will not be abandoned. You will not be left behind. The cameras at some point may leave; the media may get tired of the story; but we will not. We are on your side and we will see this through. We’re going to keep at this every day until the leak has stopped, until this coastline is clean, and your communities are made whole again. That’s my promise to you. And that is a promise on behalf of a nation. It is one that we will keep.

And I will make one last point -- and I said this to every leader who is here: If something is not going right down here, then they need to talk to Thad Allen. And if they’re not getting satisfaction from Thad Allen, then they can talk to me. There’s nobody here who can’t get in touch with me directly if there is an idea, a suggestion, or a logjam that needs to be dealt with.

So we’re in this together. And it’s going to be a difficult time, and obviously the folks down here are going to be feeling the brunt of it, but we’re going to make sure that we’re doing everything we can to get this solved as quickly as possible.

And I want to again think everybody here for the extraordinary work that they’re putting in. You shouldn’t underestimate how hard these folks are working, day in, day out, on behalf of their constituencies.

So thank you very much. Thank you, everybody.

What do you want to bet that the President's statement to "come down and provide support to the communities along the coasts" gets compared to Bush's go shopping comment made after 9/11?

Memo to Randi...

Since I've been bringing her up this week, there's this:

What’s more, we’ve stationed doctors and scientists across the five Gulf States to look out for people’s health and then to monitor any ill effects felt by cleanup workers and local residents. And we’ve begun setting up a system to track these efforts -- excuse me, to track these effects -- and ensure folks get the care that they need. And we’ve told BP that we expect them to pay for that, too.

President Obama at the U.S. Coast Guard Station in Grande Isle, Louisiana (VIDEO)

The video from MSNBC is terrible. Not because of internet issues, but because of lighting. Yes, that big glob in your screen is the President of the United States. The audio is perfect, but the video...

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The text of the remarks can be found here. The good stuff begins at about 8:24 on the video.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The President's Press Conference of May 27, 2010 (VIDEO)

This was a good press conference. I thought the questions were tough and fair. I'd give the President a B- or C+ for his presentation. (I'm sorry, I know the man is saying trust us, we're doing everything in our power, acknowledging that there are and will be screw ups...but as long as the oil is coming onshore, you're always going to wonder...which the President acknowledged too.)

Let me take a moment to crack on Randi Rhodes, who spent a good chunk of his air time today complaining that the President didn't address the issue of mobile health clinics for workers who are getting sick. Apparently, a Congressman wrote him him a letter detailing the request. Still he didn't speak of it.

Let me get this straight Randi, you're complaining that the President didn't answer a question he wasn't asked.


The only wastes of time in the whole preceding was Helen Thomas' question about Afghanistan toward the middle, and Major Garrett's (Fox Noise) sub-question about Joe Sestak toward the end. Since I just got finished reading a passage in The Promise about the President's war with Fox Noise, I had to wonder if shutting them out wasn't the best policy.

But Helen Thomas demanding to know, with a note of rage in her voice, why we were in Afghanistan, to me, bordered on pathetic. (Part of it was the nature of her question, most of it was time and place.)

P.S. Greg Sargent of the Washington Post wrote on his blog that he hoped that the Press Corps would ask him about pushing on the Energy Bill currently stalled in the Senate because Lindsay Graham is throwing a hissy-fit.

I wrote Greg and bet him five bucks that the question would be asked...

Turns out...I think I owe Greg Sargent five bucks. Because while the President answered the questions, several times in fact, about the Energy one in the Press Corps asked the question to begin with.

President Obama's interview with Marv Alpert (VIDEO)

Worry not. I'm still trolling for the complete Oil Spill Press Conference Video. (I can't believe it was this least for those of us on the Left Coast.)

In the meantime, Obama on the NBA, Lebron and the ability to take a hard foul with the Secret Service around...

By the way, he didn't completely advocate for LeBron going to the Bulls, as some have suggested. It was Marv who was advocating the President to advocate for Chicago. He said if LeBron finds a coach he respects, and a stable situation in Cleveland (I'm hoping that the Cavs get Byron Scott), he should stay in Cleveland.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Lines of attack...

The overwhelming feeling I’m getting listening to the radio, specifically Randi Rhodes, is that she wants the Government to do something. Whatever the hell that means. I find this terribly ironic because just before the Rand Paul thing exploded, she had a African-American caller (not me) on the air, saying that we [Black folk] couldn’t get with the Teabaggers because of the the racism. So, figuring that at least part of the Teabagger anger was legitimate and that Government is broken Randi answered back, “what’s your plan”.

I’m afraid I’m left with the same question for the Gulf Oil Spill. What’s your plan? And an answer of “just do something” isn’t constructive, helpful, or intelligent at this point.

In the matter of the Gulf Oil Spill, there are two lines of attack, for now. One is stopping the oil volcano. Two is gathering information (and making it public) about how we got in this mess. Once the oil volcano is stopped, we can get on with a third track, which is clean-up. Once the information is gathered, we can start a fourth track, which is lawsuits and/or Criminal/Congressional investigations.

When we say we want Obama to do something, I want to know how does it fit into the two-to-four tracks I’ve outlined? The Navy may be well equipped to get down to the source of the leak, but do they have the equipment or expertise to fix it? (I don't know, I'm asking). People keep saying they do (Randi) but it seems like they're pulling that out of their asses. Remember, fixing isn’t just a matter of plugging the leak, it’s making sure that all that pressure doesn’t escape elsewhere and make the problem ten times worse.

I think the EPA should force BP from using their toxic dispersant. I think the Energy Department should put a stop to all the new Oil Drilling that seems to be going ahead anyway. I don't think its helpful that Secretary Chu is getting all his information from the damn New York Times, and not his own department. I think Scientists who are affiliated with the Government on their own organizations (as long as they’re not associated with BP) should be allowed free access to the site and come up with an independent estimate of the amount of oil spilled and damage done. While I think James Carville’s rant this morning at its heart came from the right place, I’m not 100% sure that the President being down there will help. In fact, Presidents can often get in the way of recovery efforts.

But past that, I’m left with questions. What about the Exxon Valdez law that is currently guiding Governmental efforts? The Media has been terrible at explaining what’s in it. I don’t know what the Government can and can’t do in this matter, and it doesn’t help that too many of my fellow Liberals are stuck in the belief that the Executive is just as unitary as it ever was under Bush, or worse that it should be.

If the Government were to take over the cleanup effort, would that absolve BP of all claims up to $75 Million (I've asked before). How does the $4000 a barrel fine work?Do we have to prove fraud in order to enact it? The Justice Department said that Congress can impose a retroactive liability cap. What else can the Justice Department do?

Another thing that’s really, really, really annoying me. A biiiiiiig meme for my fellow lefties during the Health Care Debate was that the White House wasn't doing enough (again, whatever that was) during the whole thing. Well, that’s been proven to be bullshit. So when I hear or read people asking what the President is doing, my bet is plenty. We just can’t see it. The bubble is bad, but it’s not that bad.

The difference between Obama and Dubya is that we trust Obama to do the right thing, for the right reasons. We hopefully can acknowledge a screw up (which I think this is), but we have to know he's not liking this, and not just for political reasons.

Bad Boys, whatchu gonna do? (VIDEO)

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Pushback, and Vaporizaton... (VIDEO)

It's not great surprise that folks are starting to complain about the Gulf Oil Spill caused by British Peteroleum's, Transoceans and Haliburton's recklessness. It's been a month. Eleven people are dead, and nothing much seems to have been done to fix the calamity that might wind up destroying the Gulf of Mexico.

The fact that those same voices are starting to complain about the President's lack of action is a little surprising, but at the same time justified. Backing that idea is the notion that a competent administration should rush in and kick BP the hell out of there, and there are signs that may actually happen if BP doesn't get its act together. The fact that the President hasn't done this already is generating ire from even his most devoted followers (or should I say Hillary's).

Can't say I blame them. At the same time, I can't say I blame the President either, even though my preference is that he get off his duff and kick BP out of the Gulf, and present them with a bill for services rendered.

But is that even possible?

One problem is might be the language that exists from the Oil Cleanup Bill that was signed into law after Exxon Valdez.

Would kicking BP out, after they've gone public with the notion that they'll clean it all up on their dime, absolve them of all responsibility?

Would the Obama administration be limited in that bill for services rendered I described, in that it could only be $75 Million dollars? (the current cap on exposure to BP -- short of fraud, which I think you can prove. At least I hope Robert Kennedy does.)

Can you imagine having the President rush to the rescue of a toxic spill cleanup, to actually get it done in a timely manner, only to have his Republican opponents, who'll say anything at this point, mutter that the cleanup should have been the responsibility of the Private Industry that caused it, and that any Government intervention is nothing more than a bailout for Big Oil?

At the same time, I hate to say this...I'm a little glad it's happening this way.

No, I don't want to see oily birds, dead fishes, and Gulf Fishermen with their lives ruined, but I want to see the ineptness of Corporate America exposed. And make no mistake, what you're watching is Corporate incompetence writ large.

We are now recieving hard, visual (and if you're close enough to the Gulf, olfactory) evidence of the total and complete epicfail of the idea that Business can solve everything, and do it better than the Government. That notion is dead. It's been dead since Lehman Brothers collapse, but you're seeing it live and in action.

Last week, 60 Minutes did an interview with a survivor of the Deepwater Horizon explosion, and it's the best, and most detailed account of what happened before and after. (Did I hear right that the eleven men who died, weren't so much as burned alive, but vaporized?)

It's a double segment, so it's a little long, but it's worth it, trust me.

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