Today's topic by Kris Broughton at Politic365.com:


BP Oil Spill Tests Obama Supporter Patience

Progressive political activists all across the web have begun to argue among themselves about the White House response to the BP oil spill. An emotional crescendo rolled through left-leaning political websites as if it were an electronic wave in the days leading up to the much awaited press conference President Obama conducted in Louisiana last Friday, leaving a frothy lather in its wake.

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Until BP’s CEO says “we will spare no expense to rectify this problem”, he might as well be whistling Dixie.

He won’t say it, of course, because every BP stock analyst in the world is looking for a reason to change their recommendations from “hold” to “sell”.

But he might as well say it, because we will soon be spelling “British Petroleum” with the letters “E-N-R-O-N.”

There are a lot of us who are a little perturbed by the president, even though he is doing all the right things, because for the vast majority of Americans, the visceral triumphs the logical six days a week and twice on Sundays. We are still unaccustomed to a president who can think in multiple dimensions without waving a victory flag every time he makes a decision. We will grow up in time.

There are many of us who are incensed by British Petroleum, even though they are doing all the right things, because for just about every living American, there is nothing we despise more than a guy who throws a rock through a window by accident, and then says “window? what window? I don’t see any window.”

But there is a special place in an oil fire hellhole that should be reserved for our modern media, who have decided to use the British Petroleum oil spill catastrophe as an exercise in browbeating the White House into some sort of submissive posture. Who pout because the president doesn't have enough press conferences to suit them, even though no journalist in modern history has developed the ability to ask a question of our nation's top politician in way that will make him say anything he doesn't want to say, or disclose any facts he doesn't want to disclose that they can't get by simply doing some goddamn research and filing a blizzard of Freedom of Information Act requests.

These are some of the headlines at Real Clear Politics pundit aggregator today:

Black Water Rising - Evan Thomas and Daniel Stone, Newsweek
Once More, With Feeling - Maureen Dowd, New York Times
Obama's Fascinating Job Description - James Taranto, Wall Street Journal
James Carville's Rage - Ruben Navarrette, San Diego Union-Tribune
Tough on Oil: Obama Tries to Assure Public - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


Not one of these organizations has even dared to breathe the obvious – this oil well blowout will cost BP tens of billions of dollars to deal with this from a environmental, regulatory, and legal standpoint. In case you don’t read well, or are prone to gloss over stuff you read that doesn’t suit your own personal narrative, THIS OIl WELL BLOWOUT WILL COST BP TENS OF BILLIONS OF DOLLARS.

Furthermore, aside from the potential, non-deductibility of any punitive damages should they be assessed as a result of any legal proceeding, the costs and expenses incurred are tax deductible. This effect raises the previously indicated range of gross costs which are being discounted to $65 billion-$85 billion. While such a range for the ultimate, pre-tax range of gross pre-tax costs and liabilities associated with the incident is not inconceivable, it represents a level of such costs which we consider to be extremely unlikely.

Notwithstanding both the indemnification clauses contained in the applicable contracts with drilling and oil-service providers as well as BP management statements indicating that all clean-up costs and "legitimate damage claims" will be paid by the company, we believe that a number of lawsuits will nevertheless be filed, primarily by BP, against the various service contractors involved in the Macondo well.

We make no representation regarding the outcome of such litigation although the reported evidence of problems with certain components of the blowout protector (BOP), prior to the incident, does lend a degree of legitimacy to such litigation and to the potential nullification of the applicable indemnification clauses. The likelihood, however, of potentially protracted litigation suggests that a sizeable portion, if not the majority, of any environmental costs and claims are unlikely to be actually paid for least several years from now. Present value considerations, therefore, suggest that the previously referenced $65 billion-$85 billion range of undiscounted, pre-tax, costs is even larger, perhaps by as much as 20%-30%, if timing factors are taken into account.

BP's comparatively strong balance sheet provides the company, in our view, with sufficient financial flexibility to fund up to $20 billion in spill-related expenses and claims without having to either meaningfully curtail the company's capital program or to consider a dividend reduction. Exclusive of any such liabilities, but inclusive of a projected $9.1 billion 2010 base funds flow shortfall, we project a year-end 2010 net-balance-sheet debt ratio of 25%.


BP Bashing Looks Overdone Barron’s

There is nothing like a stock analyst who wants to beat the pack in making a call, but I think this guy’s followers might need to step back for a second before loading up on BP shares. Even though Benchmark predicts $65-$85 billion range of estimated costs, they have already hedged their guesstimate by advancing the idea that their estimates could be off by as much as 20-30%, which puts them in the same ballpark I’m in – a $100 billion dollars.

Except that my number is the low end of what I think will ultimately be the bill for this gruesome national saga.

If the government treats BP the way government contractors treat the government, by billing them at cost plus rates for materials, machinery, manpower, and communications costs, you could easily add another 50 billion dollars to the total.

A $150 billion dollar hit will do more than put a hole in BP’s balance sheet – it will collapse the entire enterprise.

The larger question is, even though BP’s executives aren’t worth saving, is the company and its tens of thousands of employees worth it? BP paychecks feed families all around the world, including many who live in the Gulf Coast area. 99% of the people who work at BP have little or no authority in how many corners the company cuts, or how many safety regulations they ignore.







I will be on the radio this evening at 8:30 pm EST with Sean Yoes, a senior reporter at The Afro American, trying to figure it all out. Yoes is the host of "The WEAA/AFRO First Edition", an hour-long political talk show on Baltimore's NPR affiliate WEAA-FM (88.9 FM), which airs Sunday nights at 8 p.m.

This week we talk about Kwame Kilpatrick and Rand Paul, the two bad boys of politics this week.

Kwame Kilpatrick is the former mayor of Detroit who just went back to jail after violating his probation. The judge threw the book at him after Kilpatrick failed to make restitution payments as scheduled while maintaining a lavish lifestyle.

Rand Paul is the son of presidential hopeful Ron Paul, was a grassroots activist who leaped to prominence recently in an upset win in the Kentucky GOP primary for the senate seat being vacated by Jim Bunning. Paul's statements about the Civil Rights Act of 1964 has him in hot water with the RNC and practically anyone with good sense.

You can click this link and push the "Listen Live" button at the top of the page to hear the show. My segment comes on at 8:30pm.

Find out what Sean Yoes and I think tonight about these two clowns tonight on the show.

As always, it was fun. Check it out tonight if you have a chance.

Today At Big Think: Hanging With Mr. Cooper



Today's topic at my blog "Resurgence" on BigThink.com:


Hanging With Mr. Cooper

I was on Tybee Island earlier this week, sitting in my usual spot on the 17th street crosswalk just after dawn, when a young man carrying an ocean going kayak trudged out of the surf and started making his way across the beach. I said “good morning.” But his reply had an odd amount of exuberance in it for seven a.m., so we went back and forth, trading small talk, until he laid his kayak down along the bench opposite the one I was sitting on and sat down across from me. Little did I know that we would still be there almost half an hour later.

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Big Think is yours. We are what you think.


You know, the way James Carville and Donna Brazile have been acting lately, you would think they are reading my blog. Well, in Mr. Carville’s case, skimming my blog might be more accurate. He is all hot and bothered today about the president’s response to the British Petroleum Oil Spill. “We’re about to die down here” is the quote from Mr. Carville, the one that sounds like something a blogger would write, that will be reverberating all across the cable news universe tonight.

Big whoop.

If you did read my blog, Mr. Carville, you would see that what I have been indulging in these past couple of weeks is selective outrage, outrage that is often tempered with the leavening influence of political and economic and legal reality. Given the fact that I have absolutely no influence over the way our government works, I might be better served by ranting illogically about the superhuman powers of the president, or the magic wand he should have at his disposal to make these kinds of things go away.

But if I were you, Mr. Carville, I would think long and hard between now and the time I went to bed tonight about all of the hours of TV time that I wasted all these years talking about bullshit that doesn’t matter.

Why aren’t you guys doing an expose on K Street every night?

Why isn’t there a film crew next to every doorway on Lobbyists Row, or whatever they call the legalized bribery capital of the country every night?

Why aren’t you detailing for the public how we get into messes like this that are caused by lax or nonexistent regulations every night?

Why don’t you rail each and every night for the rest of your natural born life about the plush offices out of sight of the public where laws are really made?

Why don’t you show us how some of the exchanges go down between the billions of dollars that flow through hands of the K Street pimps who wear suits and ties and the utterly dependant congressmen and senators who count on these strings attached dollars the way a crystal meth addict depends on his dealer every night?

You and your ilk, Mr. Carville, have sat your asses on our TV’s and turned a blind eye to the way YOU KNOW D.C. works for decades. So this oil spill is on your hands too.

Who are the people who gut legislation stipulation by stipulation, until it barely resembles its original form?

Not us out here in the hinterlands.

Who are the people who walk into legislators offices with regulatory clauses that have already been pre-written by a crack team of lawyers whose colleagues will know exactly where the loopholes in it are when their client needs to defend itself against some wrongdoing it knew it was going to do in advance, or as the lawyers put it, “with malice aforethought?”

Lobbyists.

Pimps.

Pinstriped mouthpieces.

People who funnel campaign contributions out the door as if it was Halloween candy, so things like blowout preventers won’t be required, or relief wells won’t be mandated to be drilled at the same time as the main well, or any other redundancies won’t be necessary before drilling is authorized to begin.

It’s these legions of moneymen, Mr. Carville, that have put your home state in this precarious position.

The status quo in this country is so far from the ideals we say we stand for they might as well be on the moon. Corruption rules. Influence peddling is taken for granted. Access is sold by the pound. Legislation is shaped, twisted, bent, or jerryrigged in such a convoluted manner so often we probably wouldn’t know a straightforward law or regulation if it was staring us in the face.

But that's all you people on these TV talk shows stand for - the god damned status quo. The same old same old bullshit. You might as well shut the fuck up and get you a check from BP like everybody else in Louisiana, because they already own your ass. 

If you suggested something outrageous – like say, how about President Obama putting the National Guard around the entire Congress, the Senate, and the White House, with orders to deny any and all lobbyists or lobbyists look a likes, or people who smell like lobbyists, or people who may have been in close proximity to a lobbyist in the past 72 hours out of these chambers of government, I might start listening to you whine.

If you suggested that the NSA intercept all incoming cell phone calls, regular phone calls, text messages, emails, smoke signals and Morse code from lobbyists that try to contact our legislators, I might start listening.

If you suggested that we try this until Christmas, I might be impressed.
And if you really manned up, and in your own inimitable Cajun inflected way, suggested that all of the K Street and the other streets like it where lobbyists lurk be surrounded with a fifty foot high impermeable barrier, and that all of the fetid, oil flecked water recovered from the Gulf be poured inside it for safe keeping, I would take my hat off to you.

Anything less, Mr. Carville, is the same old same old bullshit.

British Petroleum Oil Spill Cartoon Highlights




These cartoonists say more in these panels about the British Petroleum Oil Spill than I could write all week.



Plus my writing mojo is a little off since I haven't written anything in a few days. As funny and as sad as these cartoons are, I know BP is working its ass off to try and stop this. I know our government really isn't equipped to do more than watch as they work.




What gets me and millions upon millions of others hot as fire over this thing is the bullshit BP's PR machine has been trying to push to make it seem like it is a much smaller spill than it really is.





The parts of government that people should really want to see changed are agencies like the Minerals Management Service, but we seem to be stuck on the same old TV friendly controversies like race, or abortion, or religion.  




Whether or not we have a live feed of the leak that is really a live feed or a loop of the same footage over and over is the latest debate, a debate that BP has brought on itself.
When you stonewall about flow rates, or try to scare away the media, or purposefully dissemble on TV day after day the way BP has, you actually increase the hysteria surrounding the whole mess.






There is no equivalent of Paul Revere in the animal kingdom. If there were, he would have been overwhelmed by the task of crying out warnings all along the Gulf Coast.





As far as our own government goes, Mr. Obama seems to have lost his affection for the TV cameras temporarily.


I'd like to say its the lawyer in him that makes him so reticent at a time when an anxious nation needs to see him on the job in oily hipwaders, peering out at the Gulf. Or maybe the pragmatist in him that realizes that his presence on the scene would disrupt some of the containment effort.




The talking points and buzzwords sound nice




until you realize that they are just words if you don't take any action to back them up.




What President Obama needs to think about, in this nation of symbols, is how strong an image it would be to the American people to watch him wrestle with something that mattered once in awhile instead of the political wrestling matches between him and Congress that are mostly staged for our benefit.




[Sometimes I run across original research, original analysis, or hard-to-get information that is exactly the kind of stuff I live for - well thought out, well written, well researched commentary, the kind that your media experts get by the pound but think is too much for you to understand. Mark Sumner is the author of "Gulf Geyser: A Quick Reference Sheet For Reporters", as well as the author of the nonfiction work "The Evolution of Everything" and several novels including "Devil's Tower." He has given me permission to publish his comments here. Enjoy]


Gulf Geyser: A Quick Reference Sheet For Reporters


Look, guys, I'm starting to worry about the environmental impact of this trash pile growing at my side -- the one made from shredded newspapers and crushed radios. It expands every time I hear impossibly silly and ill-prepared comments and questions in a story about the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster in the Gulf. Frankly, I might soon have to start measuring the size of the pile in states. The only way to reduce the flow may be for you to print this out (sorry trees) and keep it by your side when you're dealing with these issues. This will also help sustain the sanity of your audience and reduce our trade imbalance with Japan China whoever makes cheap radios these days.


It is possible to estimate how much oil is being lost into the Gulf.



The idea that it's impossible to make a good estimate of how much oil is pouring into the Gulf is straight up bullshit. Calculating the amount of oil is a simple matter of looking at the size of the openings and rate at which material is being ejected. Regular video footage of the flow sites would allow for highly accurate estimates of the loss. And BP has that video footage. They just aren't sharing enough to make good estmates. Why not? Because they are well aware that the rate of loss is much, much higher than the 5,000 barrels a day number that you keep repeating. The rate of flow was 5,000 BPD, but that was only a couple of days after the accident -- in other words, three weeks ago -- and the flow increased rapidly over the initial week. The current rate is somewhere between 30,000 and 80,000 barrels a day, based on what's been seen at the surface. Which number is more accurate? I'd know if you'd get BP to release those videos instead of meekly accepting "we don't know" as an answer.


If no one will give you an estimate of the loss, they can't give you an estimate of the capture.


In the same interviews where you're reporting that there's no estimate of how much oil is being lost, you're willing to report that BP is capturing "50%" or even "up to 90%" of the oil with the 4" soda straw they jabbed into the pipe. Um, no. No, they're not. BP is capturing (if we accept their numbers) around 1,000 barrels a day. That's only 20% of what was being lost three weeks ago, and it's 3% (or less) of what's been flowing out for the last two weeks. But the more important part of this is why in holy hell would you accept this number from a company that just told you they couldn't make an estimate of the loss? Look, I just poured this bag of M & Ms on the floor. How many? I don't know. I'm not even going to look, but I think this one I just picked up is half of them -- though I won't let you check me. Don't be that stupid, it's the number one cause of radio smashage.


We don't get 30% of our oil from the Gulf. 


Gulf oil accounted for about one and a half million BPD last year. That's deep water, shallow water, old wells and those just brought on line. Sounds like a lot, huh? But the US consumed twenty million BPD. Gulf oil was less than 10% of our oil supply. Yes, it's around a 1/3 of our domestic oil supply, but our domestic number has been shrinking since 1970, and that's including pretty well the whole period of Gulf exploration. The idea that more drilling in the Gulf will have an impact on our oil imports is, what's that word again... yeah, bullshit. Please stop passively sitting there when someone tells you that expanded offshore drilling is needed to secure our oil supply, because it's simply not true. Our oil supply can't be secured because the majority comes from overseas, and it will stay that way as long as we need oil.


Shutting down deep water drilling, or even all offshore drilling, will have no immediate effect on the price of oil.

Not only is Gulf oil production only 10% of US consumption, that's production not drilling. It can take years for an area to go from exploration to producing wells. The impact of shutting down drilling on price of gas at the pump... hmm, let's see. Oil is $72 a barrel. Three weeks ago, when a blanket suspension of new drilling was announced oil was selling for over $80 a barrel. Looks like stopping drilling in the Gulf saved us $8 a barrel! No. The relationship between current drilling and the price of oil is neglible. Anyone telling you what oil would cost without offshore drilling is bullshitting you. Why not call them on it for once?
Not drilling in the Gulf would not result in $14 a gallon gasoline.
This is a Mitch McConnell special, one which so many programs seem happy to repeat without comment. The truth is (as we just saw) the immediate effect of decreased drilling on oil prices is unpredictable. The oil market has way, way, way too many variables for anyone to reach into their hat and predict the long term effects of any action. And for someone to give you an actual number, like $14 a gallon for gas, means that they have pulled this number completely out of their ass. Say, why not call them on it? For once.


Oil does not make electricity.

Oil is used for transportation. It doesn't compete with coal, or with wind, or with nuclear power. All those new windmills off the coast of MA are peachy, but they won't save one gallon of gas. If all the oil wells dried up today, it wouldn't affect the ability to run our iPads, or to air condition our homes into the subarctic, or listen to you blather. Oil is not electricity. Get it? I don't care if the person trying to add a rosy "we're building windmills!" into a conversation about oil is the president of BP or President Obama, the two things are unrelated. This disaster is not a reason we need to reevaluate our need for nuclear power, because nuclear power doesn't compete with oil. Coal, wind, solar, nukes = electricity. Oil = transportation. Get it? There's nothing at all wrong with adding more wind and solar to the mix, they just don't do a damn thing to decrease the need for oil. What would decrease that oil demand? More public transit, fewer long haul trucks and more trains, smaller cars that use less gas, and (finally) cars that get their go from electricity. When we have a significant number of the later on the roads, maybe oil and those other sources will actually overlap. Until then, stop talking about other sources of energy like they have anything to do with oil. Please. Special bonus nugget: the reason we don't make electricity from oil? Because oil is more expensive than coal or natural gas. This is also the reason that Iran wants nuclear plants. Asking Iran why they won't just burn their valuable export commodity to keep the lights on is like asking South Africa why it doesn't just build streets out of diamonds.


Your job is to find out these things.


You're not supposed to have on one person from the American Petroleum Institute and one guy who just wrote the "Why Green Energy Sucks Handbook" and repeat what they say. Your job is to learn the facts of the situation and relay them to the public. Adding someone from the American Wetlands Lovers Council to your conversation is not a substitute for doing some research. Believe it or not, there are facts. You're supposed to let your readers / listeners / viewers know the truth, not just smile and look back and forth like the referee at a ping pong tourney. Feel free to extend this tip to other situations.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mark Sumner is the author of 32 novels, including one called "Devil's Tower" (and for the record, the book title and the screen name are from fond memories of visits to the national monument of that name. They do not show an inclination toward the "dark side."). He's a past winner of Writers of the Future, and has been nominated for both the Nebula and World Fantasy Awards.






Today's topic at my blog "Resurgence" on BigThink.com:


Tybee Island Water Gun Parade Quenches The Spirit

By the time you read this, I will be laying out my arsenal for the world’s biggest water gun fight. A few years ago, I happened to be on Tybee Island during what is officially known as the Beach Bum Parade, an annual affair that is essentially a parade masquerading as a water gun fight. It began in 1987 and has become an annual affair that signals the beginning of the tourist season for this small island off the coast of Georgia.

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BigThink.com is a global forum connecting people and ideas.

You can access hundreds of hours of direct, unfiltered interviews with today's leading thinkers, movers and shakers, and, best of all, respond in kind. You can respond to the interviewee, respond to a responder or throw your own question or idea into the ring.

Big Think is yours. We are what you think.


Mr. President, you are my man. As my mother used to say, you are my “Ace Boon Coon” among active politicians, a phrase it took me years to understand meant “number one negro”. Which means, if we are boys and all, at least metaphorically speaking, then I am obligated, under the rules of the “Ace Boon Coon Handbook”, to jump in your ass whenever you start fucking up.

Cause right now, brotherman, you are starting to fuck this whole British Petroleum Oil Spill thing up. I know, if you or one of your flacks, or one of the many millions of your fans happen upon this blog, the first thing you would do, naturally, is recoil at such a direct attack on your response to the most fucked up situation of the year, bar none, that you are going to have to deal with between now and Christmas.

I did that on purpose, Mr. President.

Because the one thing I’ve learned from living around too many lawyers is the way an attorney almost instinctually moves to downplay whatever the situation is, as if by diminishing a negative event’s stature said attorney gains a benefit from the perception that he or she is in control of the situation, or are equipped to minimize its effects. By holding the British Petroleum Oil Spill at arm’s length, it may give you a better view of the legal and political ramifications, Mr. President, but this abstract arm’s length business practically erases the stench of the whole mess, the foul stench and the fetid, oily water that this catastrophe is even as I write this leaving behind all along the Gulf coastline, soon to be joined by the Atlantic coastline.

Believe it or not, Counselor in Chief, there are facts in this case. Some are known, but most are unknown. But we aren’t playing semantic games here, the kind of gentlemanly combat that allows to legal adversaries to shake hands afterwards, or even get a beer together.

We are talking about a problem that could make Agent Orange look like a bad dream. We are talking about a disaster that could make you wish this was only as bad as the Katrina public relations hell George Bush went through.

Fuck British Petroluem. As a matter of fact, double fuck British Petroleum and the ships they rode in on.

It’s when I see stuff like this excerpt below, Mr. President, that I begin to get sick to my stomach – you know, the way your boys do when they find out that you don’t really have their back the way you said you did.

On Saturday, the New York Times brought the world’s attention to the discovery by a team of researchers on the the vessel Pelican that there are large underwater plumes of oil emanating from the Deepwater Horizon spill. Remarkably, the response of the government to the attention focused on this discovery has been to tell the researchers to stop granting interviews with the press. At the same time, the blog on which the researchers had been providing updates has also fallen silent since Saturday.

Pensacola television station WEAR filed a report (video at the link) on the oil plume and broke the news about the scientists being muzzled by the government:
Over the weekend, a research crew from the University of Southern Mississippi found evidence that there are 3 to 5 plumes… About 5 miles wide, 10 miles long and 3 hundred feet in depth.

But after giving that information to the press, the lead researcher now says he has been asked by the federal government… Which funds his research… To quit giving interviews until further testing is done.


WEAR-TV Pensacola

Is this true?

That was a rhetorical question, in case you didn’t notice the sarcasm. Given the first class handholding British Petroleum has gotten from your people, there is no other way I or anyone else could possibly interpret this. Has it come to this? Have petty political considerations for whorish congressman and senators who can barely stuff the campaign contributions into their pockets become so important that us Joe Blow citizens are nothing more than the muck that collects around deep sea drill bits?

I know, Mr. President, that you hate people who howl at you about your actions but neglect to proffer any alternative solutions. I didn't have time to whip up one of those voluminous research reports chock full of statistics and formulas, a report that references noted experts in the field, but today I am in luck - there is no way to get the kind of information Your Geekiness requires in order to change your game plan on this thing unless you send somebody or something down to the bottom of the Gulf to gather the facts.

So find the American version of Jacques Cousteau. It shouldn’t take more than three to five days to assemble a team, a deep sea submersible like the Alvin, and the equipment for him. Drop them all into the depths, with cameras, and lights, and measuring tools, and have at it. You need to "executive order" or "national security" this thing yesterday, Mr. President, and get us some fucking hard facts about this thing before it kills us.

Before it kills us and poisons your presidency.

Because when British Petroleum leaves the scene of the crime against humanity, its tail temporarily between its legs, leaving in its wake 50 or 60 law firms who will grow rich on their billings, a bankruptcy or two, and a convenient name change to something less conspicuous, less slimy, it will just be you and the American public, a public that will be waiting to lay the blame and their anxieties and their frustrations all on you…

…because you let British Petroleum waltz away with their corporate dignity intact.

Double fuck British Petroleum and the ships they sailed in on.

Despite the death threats, BP Chief Executive Tony Hayward says he's sleeping well these days. He looks it: fresh, almost relaxed in his makeshift corner office at BP's emergency response center in Houston. He insists the company has been "extraordinarily successful" in its response to the spill, which so far has dumped more than 100,000 barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico since Apr. 20, threatening tourism and fishing from Florida to Texas. By mid-May 13,000 workers and 500 vessels were trying to contain the giant leak. Leaning back in his chair, Hayward compares the operation to D-day. He quotes Winston Churchill: "When in hell, keep going."

Not that he has a choice. Before the first failed effort to cap the petro geyser BP ( BP - news - people ) faced an ocean of problems. A group of 200 plaintiffs' attorneys met in New Orleans on May 6 to join forces in suing the company. Senator Barbara Boxer (D--Calif.) called for a permanent drilling ban off the West Coast. BP's shares took a deep dive, dropping $25 billion, despite $6 billion in first-quarter earnings, double the results of a year ago.

Hayward gropes for an upside. "Deepwater drilling will be transformed by this event," he says. "If we can win the hearts and minds of the communities that are impacted, then we have the potential to enhance our reputation rather than have it damaged."

After The Spill: Big Oil Plots Its Comeback

Can you believe this guy Tony Hayward? "If we can win the hearts and minds of the communities that are impacted?" Although, to his credit, the public does have a short memory – as soon as the next allegation about Michael Jackson or Heath Ledger or Tiger Woods arises, that’s all she wrote for the oil spill, especially since its been hogging all the TV time for the last month.

What are you going to do, Mr. President? As an added bonus, get this - demonizing a foreign oil company right about now might be worth a 5 percentage point jump in your approval ratings, measurements that don't really mean diddly to anyone but a press corps too lazy to wander around the hinterlands to see what people are really thinking...

...and your Democratic allies in Congress and the Senate who are trying to get re-elected in the fall. Show British Petroleum who's the boss and man handle them into giving up the bulk of the high resolution videos they collect around the clock of the spill and your approval numbers are likely to top 60 percent.

And if you were to send an independent team with their own measuring devices down to the leak itself to see exactly what the rate of flow is at the leak and sample exactly what is coming out of the leak...

...I guarantee some of the more skeptical Americans across the country will finally begin to forget that you are black.





There is a liar’s convention on my TV every night.

It is hosted by the networks, every last one of them, from stone faced Brian Williams to the weasel-like Wolf Blitzer. Even Shep Sheppard, as dogged as he is in his determination to differentiate himself from the rest of the gang at FOX News, has succumbed to the pressure of maintaining the status quo. The main stars of this liar’s extravaganza are “anyone from BP who has their mouth open on camera.” The supporting cast includes several departments of the federal government, with a special daily cameo by the White House.

The president, to his credit, has shown some outrage, although in that controlled manner that suggests he can switch it off in an instant if he needs to attend a signing ceremony or a fund raising gala. But in the end, he too is complicit in this farce that we call our national response to the British Petroleum Oil Spill. I have committed to writing the phrase “British Petroleum Oil Spill” at least ten times in this post, mostly because if you search the term “British Petroleum Oil Spill”, ten percent of the articles want to know if the company can “bounce back” from this.

“Bounce back?” Can you believe that? As if this is nothing more than a minor leak that can easily be contained, controlled, sopped up, or skimmed off, the recovered oil and seawater mix ready to be processed and refined just in time for you to buy it at the highest price of the summer when you are on your way to grandma’s AGAIN because the beach is still closed.

But back to this liar’s convention.

Is Sarah Palin’s dumb ass now teaching the media remedial geometry? Has the entire collective known as the mainstream media been reduced to same role Palin plays, parroting the talking points of BP so much that they don’t even pretend to ask real questions anymore?

You mean to tell me that BP, who refuses to measure the rate of flow coming out of a 21 inch pipe pouring oil into the ocean due to tremendous pressure, gets to stand their lying asses up in front of TV cameras and state WITHOUT ANY PUSHBACK FROM THE PRESS that they are now “recovering 20% of the oil pouring out of the ruptured 21 inch pipe.” Based on what? Did they just pick a number that might sound like “progress” on TV?

If you don’t know how much oil is pouring into the gulf from the British Petroleum Oil Spill – call this “X” – then how do you know that you are capturing 20% of X? The only thing you know is that you are capturing Y% of X.

Back to Follow Up Questions 101 and high school geometry. If you have a 21 inch pipe, the circumference of this pipe is 65 inches, and the area of the pipe – the big empty space in the middle the oil is flowing through – is a whopping 345 inches.

This is a big ass pipe.

If you have a 4 inch pipe, the circumference of this pipe is 12.6 inches, and the area of the pipe – the big empty space in the middle the oil is flowing through – is a pedestrian 33.5 inches.

Maybe my own math skills are deficient, but without doubling the rate of flow in the 4 inch pipe – a rate that even now is a deliberately stonewalled unknown – there is no way a pipe with a volume that is 10% of the size of the ruptured pipe is carrying anything close to 20% of whatever “X” is to the surface.

High school chemistry and physics teachers, help me out on this one. Oil company engineers who know what the inside diameters of these two pipes are likely to be - let me know how much difference those dimensions would make.

So why are the people responsible for the British Petroleum Oil Spill given a free pass by the media? Why hasn’t Barack Obama showed me some "Change I Can Believe In" and ordered BP to step aside so we can measure these all important conditions like “rate of flow” and “psi” at the scene, 5,000 feet underneath the surface of OUR COASTLINE, especially since we are going to spend billions just to deploy the Coast Guard and the government and military personnel on land to help with this clean up? The ultimate irony? Government departments, even as you read this, are probably paying BP for at least a portion of the gas they need to operate their vehicles and boats and heavy equipment.






If you come here regularly, you might be aware of the program that some of my blogroll buddies put together last night to talk about blacks and the Republican Party. My man Rippa of The Intersection of Madness and Reality and my man Max Reddick of soulbrother v.2, along with their buddy "The Janitor" from Urban Politico hosted the gabfest.

Since I seem to be on C.P. time on Sundays, I was late calling in, and got connected about 30 seconds before they went on the air. Which was okay, because the other radio show I am on regularly normally connects me to the host with about 30-45 seconds until airtime.

Claudio Simpkins of the Hip Hop Republican was there. His blog partner, Lenny McAllister, who might be the more famous of the twosome, didn't make it, but Claudio sounded like a veteran who could hold his own. Joshua Lazards of the Uppity Negro Network was there. I think he was younger than most of us, just out of college, but brimming with ideas. There was another Kriss, of the double "s" variety, from The Insanity Report who was there, who injected the initial burst of emotional fervor somewhere along the way that kicked things into high gear.

If you click here, it is the featured episode: The Black Vote: Taken for granted, ignored or necessary. If you've got 90 minutes to kill, check it out by clicking "PLAY". If you're short on time, click "DOWNLOAD", and you can fast forward through it.

You never know what to expect with these things. Blog Talk Radio shows can often be little more than vanity productions, where the host is literally looking for things to say on the air. F.T.S.R has always been a riot from their first show. Last night, all the guests seemed to be genuinely interested in trying to develop a dialogue, and everybody seemed to come with their "A" game. It was black men talking about politics with a passion normally reserved for talking about bball or booty chasing, and for 95% of the show, we were without the profane histrionics we can often descend to, histrionics that I myself usually enjoy dishing out as much as the next guy. Even though I had moaned and groaned about the length of the show when I first got the email, the time passed quickly

So quickly in fact, that it pushed right up until time for Treme - the real reason I had to interject "oh no!" when one of the hosts commented that he wished the show "could go on another hour."

It hit me a few minutes after we wrapped up that this was the kind of dialogue people wished they could see on TV, instead of the bullshit "Black In America" specials. For the most part the discussion was pretty thoughtful, the guests all seemed to be well versed in what they were talking about, and yet none of us were political experts.

These guys have put together a show on a shoestring budget, if that much, that even in its raw state was better than half the pablum on the political talk show circuit that gets shown every night.

Until we meet again, guys.


The RIPPA and Max Reddick are the hosts of Freedom Through Speech Radio. RIPPA is on my blog roll with The Intersection Of Madness And Reality. Max Reddick's is on my blogroll with soulbrother v.2.

Their F.T.S.R. shows are usually a riot, and this week, the Brown Man himself will be their guest. Tonight's main topic is "The Black Vote: Taken For Granted, Ignored, Or Necessary?" 

The F.T.S.R promo:
The black vote is important because it represents the behavior of a group of people whose voting power had been denied. However, the black vote is unique because African American voting behavior is intrinsically rooted in the people's history. Since the Reconstruction, the general behavior of blacks is to vote in block, either for one party or the other. Until Roosevelt came into the presidency and began the New Deal, blacks were committed to the Republican party.

So what happened? Looking back at the 2008 presidential elections, where blacks voted overwhelmingly Democrat, the question still remains: Just what went wrong or has changed? 

Tonight we'll break it down with a robust panel of guests representative of Democrats, Republican, and Independents. Most notably to present the case for the Republican party, will be Lenny McAllister, the Hip Hop Republican. Central to our discussion is the question: Which party today, best represents the interest of black America? Tonight, our guests will all make their best case for the parties with whom they identify. Do join us, feel free to share your opinions, and you be the judge, on Freedom Thru Speech Radio at 8pm EST/7pm CST.


I guess I'm one of the Independents.  I've never met the Hip Hop Republican before, so this should be interesting, although something tells me he is nowhere near as entertaining as the Hip Hop Republican Number One, RNC chairman Michael Steele.


This program is uncensored - maybe its the "no rules, all exceptions" motto - so be forewarned, but the two times I've listened to it, I heard less profanity than you get on the Bill Maher Show.



Freedom Through Speech


Freedom through Speech Radio (F.T.S.R) is a bi-weekly program dedicated to allowing anyone and everyone to have a voice through contributing to the discussion surrounding various timely and pertinent issues. Hosted by writer Michele Grant (OneChele), noted blogger Patrick Phillips (RiPPa), and academic and community activist Max Reddick, you can always expect lively conversation that entertains even as it enlightens.


CLICK HERE AT 8PM E.S.T. TO LISTEN




Today's topic by Kris Broughton at Politic365.com:


Black Women Speak Out about SCOTUS Appointment

The announcement of Elena Kagan could not really be called a surprise, since the White House went out of its way to all but announce her as their pick over the last week. The Obama Administration dropped hints by the dozens to their favored reporters, who dutifully shared their information with the rest of us. I had come to accept it as a done deal, even though I had been a little perturbed at the way the D.C. pundits only mentioned three or four names from the president’s short list, as if the rest of the names on it, like Georgia’s own Leah Ward Sears, were invisible.

It wasn’t until I called a friend of mine, an African American lawyer here in Atlanta who had been a diehard Hillary supporter and then a reluctant Barack Obama supporter after he became the Democratic nominee, that I realized that others felt the same way. “First he puts a Hispanic woman on the court. Fine. He’s paying back the Hispanics for their support,” she said. “Then he puts a white woman on the court. Okay – he’s paying them back for coming over to his side after Hillary lost. I see that.

But why do I have to be last? Why do black women always have to be last? I don’t think he cares.”


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Politic365.com provides the next level of digital engagement for America’s burgeoning minority communities.

Politic365 uses modern technology to express and support the voices of minority populations in a way not often seen in today’s political media landscape. Politic365 covers political issues related to the economy, healthcare, technology, energy as well as a variety of social and cultural issues from the perspective of minority communities.




I sat down for a minute after dinner last night in the den. S. was watching Anderson Cooper on CNN as he talked about the Gulf oil spill. Cooper regurgitated the same introductory narrative he has probably said every night for the past three weeks about the spill, then went to a split screen interview with Congressman Ed Markey, where they proceeded to talk about how outraged they both were at BP.

They pay Anderson Cooper millions to tell me shit I can read in a day old copy of USA TODAY?

"They've got politicians on TV talking about an oil spill? What the hell do they know? Why can't they find some experts to talk to? They should have some new ones on every night - the kind of guys who have actually worked on rigs."

S. didn't say anything, probably because she'd already figured by the way I had been breathing right before I spoke up that some tirade was coming.

"Why can't these people put any good information on here?" I was yelling now. "Why are they wasting our time with this pablum? What they need to do is talk about why all that damn boom they've been stringing along the coastline won't work."

I went on to explain to S. what I'd learned the night before from a blogger at one of my favorite political sites, where Mr. Fishgrease, because that's what this 55 year old oil and gas production and exploration veteran calls himself on the web, explained in great detail what goes on at "booming school", where the industry trains its workers on the correct way to use boom during an ocean oil spill.

And as I thought about it this morning, I figured I might do the same for you, and post some excerpts from his diary to counterbalance some of the bullshit you are being forced to watch on cable news networks.

WARNING - if you are allergic to intense and repeated profanity, stop here. Personally, I felt right at home reading this intriguing narrative, probably because it sounded almost exactly like the behind-the-scenes language used by mortgage brokers and stock brokers.

Not only is Oil Spill Booming a large industry in the USA, teaching Oil Spill Booming is a large industry in the USA. Most of BP's production and pipeline employees in the USA have attended at least one booming school. Many have attended two or three. Most oil and gas production employees in the USA have attended booming school. Some of us have attended really good, really extensive, week or two-week booming schools. BP's production employees have attended the best booming schools. I know this. I've seen them there.

BP's drilling folks have mostly not attended booming school. They're sometimes sent to booming school, but they fuck off in the bar and their bosses sign off on that being okay. Because for Drilling Hands, booming is for pussies. This is a generalization. Not all drilling hands think that, but most of them do and I guarantee BP's drilling executives think that booming is for pussies -- and that's if they think about booming at all or even know what it is. That's not so shocking. In the major oil companies, there are likely a few drilling executives that don't even know what drilling is. I'm not kidding. There's good BP drilling people who would, in private, back me up on that.

After this bracing introduction, Mr. Fishgrease goes into the lingo used in the field. If you don't do anything else, or you are tired of reading this, just click on the link to see his diagram. It will show you in black and white (actually, in orange and blue) why you should feel the urge to strangle every TV network executive in the country for showing you the obligatory shot of a lone string of boom strung just off a Gulf coastline every night without explaining what you are seeing.

Then Mr. Fishgrease gets to the heart of the matter.

Boom is not meant to contain or catch oil. Boom is meant to divert oil. Boom must always be at an angle to the prevailing wind-wave action or surface current. Boom, at this angle, must always be layered in a fucking overlapped sort-of way with another string of boom. Boom must always divert oil to a catch basin or other container, from where it can be REMOVED FROM THE FUCKING AREA.

Looks kinda involved, doesn't it? It is. But if fucking proper fucking booming is done properly, you can remove most, by far most of the oil from a shoreline and you can do it day after day, week after week, month after month. You can prevent most, by far most of the shoreline from ever being touched by more than a few transient molecules of oil. Done fucking properly, a week after the oil stops coming ashore, no one, man nor beast, can ever tell there has been oil anywhere near that shoreline.

Where Mr. Fishgrease really becomes my hero is when he explains WHY the boom being laid along the Gulf is being done wrong, but nobody from the Obama Administration to the Coast Guard or the news media will say anything.

Governors, Senators, Presidents and most of all the Piece-Of-Shit-C*nt Media don't know what fucking proper fucking booming LOOKS LIKE! So you can just lay a single line of neon-glo-orange boom out parallel to the shore, for miles, with anchor points every quarter-mile to where a good part of it washes up onto the shore like a huge, dead, orange nightcrawler... and they won't know the difference! Where it manages to stay off the bank, a little two-foot chop you would let your kids frolic in will send all the oil either over or under it! ALL THE OIL! ON THE SHORE! IN THE REEDS! ON THE BEACH! IN THE NESTS! OIL! So what! It's not gonna make CNN send a single correspondent to booming school, is it?

If you've read this, and clicked on the links, you could probably skip the news tonight, because Anderson Cooper or Campbell Brown or Larry King or the chuckleheads over at FOX News or Keith Olbermann and the rest of the gang at MSNBC won't be talking about this. At all.

Although in fairness, Mr. Fishgrease's article WAS mentioned on the Rachel Maddow website yesterday, although whether it was by a staffer or a reader I don't know.

Not that Mr. Fishgrease is looking for any limelight. Because even though he has been open and honest with us about what is going on with the oil spill boom fiasco, I would imagine that another big oil company has probably got all of his retirement money in its hands. Even those these things are all probably true, it was his closing lines that endeared this anonymous stranger to me the most.

All media contacts, please consult actual booming experts. There are about a hundred. If you can't find one in time for your show tonight, you're a fucking bad journalist. Now, finding one that's not afraid of BP? That might be a challenge, but you're fucking up to it.

All I can say is, "thank you Mr. Fishgrease, for showing me why I love these internets so much."

And to Anderson Cooper, and the rest of the network teleprompter readers out there - QUIT WASTING MY TIME BRINGING FUCKING POLITICIANS ON YOUR SHOWS WHO DON'T KNOW JACK FUCKING SHIT ABOUT OIL SPILLS!!!



Today's topic at TheGrio.com:


The real battle for Supreme Court diversity is in the trenches

"In our own era, race and gender have defined so much of our politics," said Jeffrey Toobin, author of the The Nine, an in-depth study of the Supreme Court's history, as he opined about diversity in an article in The New Yorker last year. Toobin described the nation's current obsession with race and gender diversity as yet another manifestation of an age old practice that began with a concern for regional diversity and evolved into a call for religious diversity.

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TheGrio.com is the first video-centric news community site devoted to providing African Americans with stories and perspectives that appeal to them but are underrepresented in existing national news outlets.

TheGrio.com features aggregated and original video packages, news articles, and blogs on topics from breaking news, politics, health, business, and entertainment, which concern its niche audience.is a global forum connecting people and ideas.

TheGrio.com is brought to you through the cooperation of NBC News and the production team that brought you the documentary film, Meeting David Wilson.



Today's topic at my blog "Resurgence" on BigThink.com:


Donna Brazile Tells The Truth And Shames The Devil

There are rare moments when I read a story in the news and feel like I am reading my own writing. It happened again yesterday when I read a piece in the Washington Post by Donna Brazile shaming the devil of modern-day political punditry, in which she told the kind of truths that handily skewer her own profession.

"It's time to abolish punditry."


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BigThink.com is a global forum connecting people and ideas.

You can access hundreds of hours of direct, unfiltered interviews with today's leading thinkers, movers and shakers, and, best of all, respond in kind. You can respond to the interviewee, respond to a responder or throw your own question or idea into the ring.

Big Think is yours. We are what you think.

What A Real Republican Sounds Like

I guess today's theme must be "truth telling", since I have a piece up at Big Think that revolves around the same topic. I know I rail against Republican chicanery on a regular basis, and may seem to show them no mercy, but the truth is, I'm an Independent today, I've never been registered as a Democrat, and in fact, cast my first vote at eighteen as a member of the GOP.

Outside of the frenzied buffoonery that we have come to see as the image of Michael Steele, chairman of the struggling Republican National Committee, and the "take me back to Dixie" atmosphere that Governor Haley Barbour and Governor Bob McConnell are trying their damnedest to bring back, there actually exist creatures that I have always called "real Republicans."

They are the kind of people who aren't Republicans because everybody on their block is one, or everyone they want to emulate is one, or because they feel that the connotation of the GOP as a party of rich, powerful white men will somehow rub off of them in a way that endows them with the same riches, or the same power, but because they actually have decided that the kind of platform issues the party supports mostly matches the lives they lead.

If they are a black Republican, I would add "who is not an opportunist or a contrarian" to this description.

I've been getting to know my man Coby Dillard, and he just might be the genuine article, especially since he has emerged from the mouth of the lion with more questions than answers.

I’m torn between identifying as a Republican, Libertarian, or remaining independent. I have-and continue to-work with Republican and conservative-leaning causes and candidates. However, I do not follow in blind allegiance; where conservatives/Republicans have erred, I will say so publicly.


Coby Dillard

He doesn't know that I'm spotlighting him today, so I hope he's okay with this, but ever since I read a post on his blog last week I've been wondering why the leadership of our political organizations of all stripes have to distort reality so much to exist.

Even a kindergartner understands the difference between reality and make-believe. So how come our political parties act as if it is political suicide to admit what the public already knows to be true? In particular, I've been exasperated with the convoluted narrative that Michael Steele has had to try to deliver with a straight face regarding the GOP and its efforts to attract African American supporters, an effort that has been beaten back by establishment oriented black Republicans who don't feel that Steele is dogmatic enough in his approach.

“Michael Steele is a RINO (Republican In Name Only) — he’s dividing the party and hurting recruitment efforts,” said Rev. Peterson. “Since January I have called for the GOP to fire Steele because he cannot be trusted to lead the party to victory.

Owning Our History (So We Don’t Repeat It)

So I thought Dillard's candid admissions on his blog were refreshing.

"Is Steele right? Of course he is…and though I would’ve said that this time last year, there were several things that happened on McDonnell’s campaign that proved it. And he’s right for reasons that some black conservatives (many in my demographic, but some older as well) know all too well: we don’t carry our message to the black community, and when we try, it doesn’t relate to the issues and realities they face daily."

"We’ve got to learn to live with what we’ve done as a party. I’ve never been one to run from the history of the GOP as I’ve learned more about it; that includes the good as well as the bad. For any Republican to contend that our failure to resonate within the black community solely stems from blacks only being in favor of “big government’ shows, at best, a lack of knowledge of our history…and at worst, continues the same disrespect that’s still a raw wound on black voters (and that myself and too many others are working too hard to definitively heal)."


Owning Our History (So We Don’t Repeat It)


What they GOP needs to put in its political support calculator is the fact that there is a growing contingent of African Americans out here who are "wobbly" Democrats, or only still Democrats because they would be ashamed to admit to their friends and relatives that they are now Republicans, the kind of black people who can actually write four figure checks for campaigns and have a great influence on those around them - put that in your political calculator and see if it will pay off more than pandering to fear does. Because every one of these votes the GOP could pick up are votes the Dems would lose.

They are waiting for the party to stand behind thoughtful, reasonable guys who sound like Coby Dillard instead of Michael Steele. Old school guys like Frederick Douglass who could stand inside of the party and publicly support it and publicly castigate it at the same time. 

A little honesty never hurt anybody.


He Hath Awaken'd From The Dream Of Life


This is a hometown post today.

I haven’t really been in the mood to rant about politics or oil spills or media malfeasance the past couple of days.

My dad gave me a call earlier this week to tell me that our longtime neighbor died suddenly. I don’t know if it is your own mortality that plays into the picture as you get older, or the idea that all the deaths of people you know begin to accumulate in your memory banks, each one making the next a little more poignant, a little more distressing, but it seems that way.

Dr. Harold Powell, or “Dr. P.” to me, or “Harold” to his contemporaries, was a pretty private person, so although I lived two houses away, I didn’t really know much about him until I got older. He was a speech pathologist. More than that, as I have discovered on Google this afternoon, he was the cornerstone of the graduate program in the speech pathology department at South Carolina State University, a department that didn’t exist until 1957.

On a day when you have the president of the United States, a pretty good speaker himself, delivering the commencement address at Hampton University, another HBCU, it seems fitting to spotlight a man who probably deserved many more accolades than he received over his long career serving African American students like my cousin, who was one of his students, as well as one of my college classmates, who found himself in that very same department after his graduation from our alma mater, or my many other high school classmates who have gone on to become speech pathologists.

For a small, tightly knit neighborhood like the one my parents live in, where practically all of the residents are well past the age of retirement, and have lived in the same houses for decades, this is real loss.

In a town where people routinely build storage sheds for their lawn tools and gardening supplies, Dr. P. constructed a very well built storage house for his books and papers – his own personal library of sorts. I won’t be at his funeral tomorrow, but I will be thinking of him, hoping that he has made it to his own personal library in the hereafter.

Peace, peace! he is not dead, he doth not sleep,
He hath awaken'd from the dream of life;


From Adonais: An Elegy on the Death of John Keats by Percy Shelley



Is Obama "Trash Talking" His Political Opponents These Days Or Is This A Politically Calculated Image Makeover?

During the White House correspondents dinner Obama attacked the Arizona immigration law hard and Rep. Mike Pence and Sen. Lemar Alexander really seemed to take offense. During the tail end of the health care debate he totally dismissed John McCain during a meeting. Obama has also put down Sarah Palin on numerous occasions.

Is this harder, less conciliatory public tone a reflection of who Barack Obama really is? Or is it the product of a carefully calibrated adjustment in the president's demeanor engineered by David Plouffe, the "take no prisoners" presidential campaign advisor who recently returned to Obama's side?

I will be on the radio this evening at 8:30 pm EST with Sean Yoes, a senior reporter at The Afro American, trying to figure it all out. Yoes is the host of "The WEAA/AFRO First Edition", an hour-long political talk show on Baltimore's NPR affiliate WEAA-FM (88.9 FM), which airs Sunday nights at 8 p.m.

You can click this link and push the "Listen Live" button at the top of the page to hear the show. My segment comes on at 8:30pm.

Find out what Sean Yoes and I think tonight on the show.

As always, it was fun. Check it out tonight if you have a chance.



Today's topic at my blog "Resurgence" on BigThink.com:


Tea Party Racism Is Liability White America Can't Afford

It looks like the mainstream media has finally decided to quit ignoring the rancid stench of race based hatred that fuels a lot of the anger behind the Tea Party movement. I guess the media thinks now that they deserve a pat on the back for taking an entire year to conclude what the blogosphere picked up on instantly—that the idea of a black man as the leader of the most powerful nation on earth has caused a vocal subset of white America to lose their minds.

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BigThink.com is a global forum connecting people and ideas.

You can access hundreds of hours of direct, unfiltered interviews with today's leading thinkers, movers and shakers, and, best of all, respond in kind. You can respond to the interviewee, respond to a responder or throw your own question or idea into the ring.

Big Think is yours. We are what you think.


My buddy called me yesterday on his way home, which kind of put me in a bad mood immediately, since he sees this commute as time to kill, while I see time as an ever-ticking clock that is always threatening to close in on a deadline I have somewhere.

So I wasn't really paying attention when he first started talking, because I was gathering some quotes for a piece I was supposed to be submitting somewhere in a couple of hours. Maybe its the writer in me, or maybe its the fact that when I am thinking, which is most of the time, I am usually juggling ten or fifteen ideas about something important to the way we live in my mind, a state of intense pleasure to me that gets me testy as hell when it is interrupted by a comment about the weather, or some other totally meaningless minutia of life, minutia that my buddy insisted on talking about.

It wasn't until he casually asked my opinion about the speed with which law enforcement had apprehended the Times Square bomb scare suspect that became fully engaged in the conversation. In fact, I became more than fully engaged - it was a ten minute rant, a verbal beatdown of everybody from Campbell Brown to Anderson Cooper, from Fox News to Rush Limbaugh, from Wall Street to the White House that probably had my buddy wishing he had called somebody else instead.

But he hung in there long enough to understand why most of the time the enemy isn't the left or the right or the center or even the wacko fringe elements of our political universe here in America, but the brain dead and insufferable media who do a woeful job of shaping the political conversation.

I watched Anderson Cooper interview the mayor of Nashville last night, after apologizing for CNN and the rest of the media who seemed to be totally hypnotized by the British Petroleum oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, to the exclusion of practically all other newsworthy items. Which would have been fine if they didn't waste half of their airtime getting "reactions" from idiots, or politicians who pontificated forthrightly about a situation their non-engineering, non-oceanic expert asses knew absolutely nothing about.

Or if they had quit regurgitating British Petroleum press releases and did some god damn research on their own, research which would have confirmed the suspicions any high school physics student would have about the absurd estimate that pegged the rate of leakage at "5,000 barrels a day."

Maybe the journalism schools need to shut down, or at least rethink what they allow to be called "journalism", so we have a better handle on what is news, and what is fluff and PR.

Journalists - when your interview subjects start telling bald faced lies on camera, or begin to dissemble so badly they might as well be telling bald faced lies, the kind of untruths your pre-interview research can refute unequivocally, pull the plug on them and throw up a PowerPoint instead that gives us the salient facts and their sources, so we can verify them.

Talking point TV, CNN, is why you are going to have your anchors all trading around one shirt and tie between them soon, and going on air without makeup, in order to make payroll. Talking point TV, Fox News, is why Rupert Murdoch will be rolling up to the Goldman Sachs offices to get his company one of those sweet financing deals that Greece got so Glen Beck can hawk "subprime television derivatives" during all those stretches of empty commercial breaks he's got.

Heroin dealers treat their customers better than TV news shows treat their viewers.

I told my buddy, after I had calmed down a little, and he finally was willing to acknowledge that contrary to the media slant, our law enforcement agencies had done the job we asked them to do, providing enough layers of deterrence and surveillance to catch the suspect in record time, that what we have right now in our country is akin to kindergartners telling us what is going on.

But back to this drug dealer analogy - I am hooked on facts like a crack head is addicted to crack. I would make time for a rat-a-tat tat machine gun style delivery of a lead topic and three sentences, no emotional nuances required, the announcer taking a breath during commercial breaks.

I would like to see some Powerpoint style info flashing up with each topic, with five to seven bullet points to augment the three lines the announcer is reading, and two or three sources listed below them so I could dig deeper if I wanted.

And put the pathos and the dead baby pictures on another channel, for those who need to get a good cry in before dinner.

Do you think people who buy crack or heroin or cocaine choose their dealer because of his or her talking points? Because of a favorable "reaction" from someone who doesn't even do drugs? Or because the drug dealer swears "this is the real deal?"

Nope.

They choose the dealer who gets them the best dope out there. The dope has been cut the least. The dope that packs the biggest punch.

So cable news networks, quit screwing around and start sling the best facts out there. Start giving the facts up to us raw and uncut, instead of the Similac smelling shit you are peddling now.








Obama Caught In The Middle Of Fed Audit Fight


Maybe I need to have a Ph.D in economics in order to understand just why the Federal Reserve Bank should not be subject to a complete and thorough audit.

There is some real nail biting going on in Washington D.C. right now about the effort in the Senate to include language in the financial reform legislation they are debating that will require the critical parts of the Fed not currently audited to be examined, with the information to be released after six months.

My president has been on a roll lately, one I think he and his administration well deserve for the planning and politicking that they have engaged in over the last eighteen months behind the push for healthcare reform. But President Obama is about to come to one of those moments in his tenure, if he vetoes any bill requiring a complete Fed audit, that is going to make all Americans, including some of his staunchest supporters, remember why they hate politicians so much.

It is the kind of thing that would almost – I said ALMOST – make me want to be a Tea Bagger myself…

…except for the fact that you have heard not one word about this from them about this.

All of a sudden, they are concerned about those within their ranks who may be racist, as if one of the most momentous events in the history of American politics isn’t brewing before their very eyes. Finally, these misguided souls have a chance to take a break from the non-productive tirades of Malkin/Beck/Hannity, put their shoulders to the grindstone for a few weeks, and actually win one for the people by lending a hand to the effort to open up all of the Fed’s books. But just as I thought, whenever it comes to something other than hating their black president, they lose focus.

The flood in Nashville will have nothing on the tsunami of lobbyist cash that is hitting D.C. as we speak. Wall Street has absolutely no interest in the average citizen being able to see what real affirmative action looks like. They have absolutely no interest in the average citizen being able to see the connection between worthless assets being purchased at above market rates and the fat bonuses that can be generated when you have jerry-rigged balance sheets anchored by the proceeds from these very same sham sales.

Because despite all the attention and fervor that was placed on Goldman Sachs and their alleged lawbreaking, we are overlooking the kingpin of the whole operation- the Fed. Lambasting Goldman Sachs in front of TV cameras for a couple of days is the equivalent of rousting the small time drug dealers who sell their wares on the street. Until you are willing to go after the kingpin, there will always be small-time dealers on the street, slinging fake securities the way drug dealers sling watered down dope.

The president can’t go for any audit, not if he wants to be re-elected. Sad – this is really sad, but true. But what if we held Obama as a political hostage and made the White House sweat as the entire country mobilized to support a full and complete audit of the Fed? I mean, it really wouldn’t be that much different than the type of political ploy that the Obama administration thought it was using when it proposed opening up offshore drilling.

And it might make him more amenable to a compromise that would let us see the ALL the books after a five year blackout period – the six months being proposed is too short, and the declassified information guidelines are too long - which would mean that the release of the information wouldn’t harm any president’s re-election bid because it is longer than a four year term, and it wouldn’t roil markets too much because of the age of the information when it is disclosed. A five year blackout period also means there is absolutely no danger of affecting monetary policy, or ratcheting up the politics inherent in the Fed's day-to-day management than there already is.

What it would do, though, is keep the Fed chairman’s feet to the fire, and make Wall Street more mindful of its actions, because the disclosures would be recent enough to be used as evidence in lawsuits against investment banks who handed out unearned bonuses, the kind of lawsuits that would have multi-billion dollar damage claims if they were filed.

Big banks, small banks – it doesn’t matter what size they are if they can rely on the implicit support of the Fed, who uses the full faith and credit of America as collateral whenever it feels like it to back the gargantuan loans it makes to the financial sector. I mean, if the Fed were backed by Bermuda, or the Cayman Islands, where a lot of these banks claim they operate many of their subsidiaries, do you think it would have the same clout?

Where else in America can you destroy so much of your public company and still get paid the big bucks? Or demand “retention bonuses” because we need the same expertise you used to screw the business up more than ever?

The bigger moral issue for the average American is not whether the Fed will have the power to prevent a run on banks, or keep enough liquidity in the markets so that our 401(k) statements don’t scare us to death when we open them, but WHY the same guys at the top who screwed things up get to take home billions in profits and bonuses when we all know damn well they are the ones who were on duty when their banks erased every dollar of equity from their balance sheets?

And for those who worship at the altar of bipartisanship, this is it - the only time you are going to see both major political parties working together in the near future.



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