The cleanup.

Well, it’s good to see that some spills can be contained, and for my money, the Joe Barton blurpage of toxic substances is win-win for Democrats. He said it; it can’t be unsaid; and the craven way he tried to unsay it hours later — that thing I said with great conviction earlier today? I didn’t mean it — only underscores what a mess the GOP’s big tent has become.

I don’t think politics is a zero-sum game. I don’t think heads-I-win has to mean tails-you-lose. I really, truly and stupidly believe that politics should be concerned first and foremost with the good of the country and its people — all of them — and that no party has a monopoly on solutions to its problems.

But people like Barton are part of the problem, this mindless worship of business and corporations at the expense of all common sense or perspective. They represent a huge chunk of the Republican party. It’s time everybody knew what the logical end of their butt-kissing is.

Remember all that stuff about respect for the presidency, especially on foreign soil, that we heard when the Dixie Chicks dared to express an unkind opinion about President Bush back in the day? What’s the calculus when it’s in the halls of Congress, and the opinion is expressed to a foreign-national head of a corporation? Where’s the my-country-right-or-wrong then?

There’s actually a pretty good debate to be held about this, and you can see it laid out in this NYT analysis. For my money, Rahm Emanuel gets it right:

To Mr. Obama, this is all about rebalancing the books after two decades in which multinationals sometimes acted like mini-states beyond government reach, abetted by a faith in markets that, as Mr. Obama put it at Carnegie Mellon University a few weeks ago, “gutted regulations and put industry insiders in charge of industry oversight.” When Representative Joe L. Barton, the Texas Republican, opened hearings Thursday about the gulf oil gusher by accusing Mr. Obama of an unconstitutional “shakedown” of BP to create a “slush fund,” he was giving voice to an alternative narrative, a bubbling certainty in corporate suites that Mr. Obama, whenever faced with crisis that involves private-sector players, reveals himself to be viscerally antibusiness.

The reality, not surprisingly, is more complex.

Mr. Obama clearly sees his presidency as far more than a bully pulpit — he has cast himself as a last line of defense against market excesses that take many different forms. “In the past, corporate America was not only at the table, they owned the table and the chairs around it,” Mr. Obama’s combative chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, said in an interview Thursday. “Obama doesn’t start off confrontational, but he will be confrontational if there is resistance to the notion that there are other equities.”

Well, these — Barton’s people — are the same ones who said the forest fires in Yellowstone National Park in 1988 could have been prevented if we’d just let timber companies come through and log it from time to time.

By the way, I haven’t been to Yellowstone since 1992; how’s it looking these days? We went in 1988 and again the year after, to see the changes. Even a year later, it was fascinating to see the green meadows blooming under the charred remains of lodgepole pine, and four years later, the aspens were well-established. The oddest places were a few acres here and there where there had been a lot of fallen dead trees before the fire; this is where the blaze burned hottest, from forest floor to canopy. It left behind the classic post-fire landscape and we heard a lot of nonsense about “sterilized soil” that would never support growth again in 100 lifetimes, etc. You know what I bet? I bet that wasn’t true.

I know MarkH lives out Jackson Hole way; maybe he can fill us in.

And now it’s Friday morning, and I have to get moving for my 9:30 GPT meeting. This week has been a little thin, content-wise, but as so frequently happens in weeks like this, the comments have been tremendous, especially Wednesday. It only serves to remind me that we’re truly a community here. Let me slaver my thanks, once again.

And now off to the bike. It’s going to be a hot one today. Have a good weekend, all.

Posted at 9:08 am in Current events |

80 responses to “The cleanup.”

  1. brian stouder said on June 18, 2010 at 9:34 am

    Remember when people in certain quarters squawked and screeched, when the president “bowed” to a foreign head of state? How horrible that was? How the new president was demeaning the office?

    Maybe that bought-and-paid-for guy who all but blubbered for BP should simply resign now, and go directly into the lobbying job he no doubt will have at some point anyway, for the petroleum industry.

    Afterall, that sort of Public Display of Affection is much more damaging to the union than, for example, our former member of congress making the beast with two backs with a staffer at the lake.

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  2. coozledad said on June 18, 2010 at 9:48 am

    I forgot to mention something tangentially related to your Bloomsday piece. There’s a bar in Durham next to the one where I used to sling beers called “The James Joyce”. Before that it was a horrific sports bar frequented by North Durham cokeheads and hick prostitutes. One of the last proudly racist enclaves in the downtown area. An acquaintance of mine had a summer job with Orkin, and had to wear the khaki uniform with red epaulettes. He stopped in to drink at the goober bar one afternoon (because he was terrified of the lesbocommunist bar where I worked). Some wiry old guy sitting at the bar started to go off immediately:
    “You got balls walkin’ in here in that uniform, motherfucker. I spent a year fightin’ them sumbitches.”
    My friend lost valuable escape time trying to figure out when the US and Orkin had been at war. I’m still trying to figure out what the uniform resembles: an NVA regular? A Chinese advisor?

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  3. prospero said on June 18, 2010 at 9:51 am

    Barton worked for Knox Oil and Gas, um, I mean Atlantic Richfield, before he sullied the Congressional rolls. He’s received $1.4mil in campaign contributions from the industry since 1989. And if “progressives” keep pouting about what the administration has failed to accomplish by magic instead of organizing and voting for the greater good, this maroon could end up chairman of the committee that’s supposed to keep these avaricious bastards in check.

    I love both language versions of 99 Red Balloons, and she’s one gorgeous woman to this day, but who knew Nena could see the future? The South Koreans seem to have been contaminated by L’il Ill Kim.

    (Actually I like the German better. Sweeter and less sarcastic than the English.)

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  4. prospero said on June 18, 2010 at 10:09 am

    Oh, and Barton’s crowning legislative achievement? That would be the Energy Policy Act (2005), codifying the dubious proposition that all of America’s energy policy problems could be resolved by taxpayer funding of flat-out, no-strings subsides and tax cuts for the GD oil companies.

    His history seems to indicate quid pro quo representation of oil concerns, for cash, to the detriment of his constituents. Ya know, graft. He’s a crook.

    Rand Paul wants literacy testing at the polls. Here’s a suggestion, quick and dirty:

    Poll Watcher: Would you vote for Joe Barton?

    Teabagger: Hell yeah.

    Poll Watcher: No ballot for you. Come back one year.

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  5. Sue said on June 18, 2010 at 10:17 am

    I love how the politicians are shocked, shocked that this happened. At least Joe B is honest about his love for corporations over citizens and his wish to make them happy in any way he can. Every time one of these guys speaks, they should preface it with a short summary of their own voting record on whatever subject they are outraged about. I include Dems in this because it’s been hard to watch them caving to the Republicans on regulations all these years, whether in the minority or majority.
    I know there’s a website out there that tracks politician’s votes, but I can’t remember what it’s called. It’s not one of those organizations that tracks only one issue and then gives an A-F vote, it’s some group that actually compiles all votes and creates a track record of individual politicians. Anyone know?

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  6. Deborah said on June 18, 2010 at 10:34 am

    This is unbelievable: BP’s 55 US oil refineries have received 760 citations for “egregiously willful” safety violations. In that same time frame (2007-2010) the other 53 refineries in the US collectively have only received 1.

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  7. alex said on June 18, 2010 at 10:44 am

    I read in the NYT this AM that Barton’s screed actually came from talking points drafted by the GOP’s conservative caucus. Barton probably isn’t bright enough to have thought it up by himself.

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  8. mark said on June 18, 2010 at 11:07 am

    BP should have been criticized for participating in the escrow arrangement rather than apologized to for being subject to the proposal.

    To this conservative what is alarming about the deal is the unprecedented substitution of an extra-judicial, executive branch run compensation plan for dealing with what are essentially property damage claims against a private entity. We have a judiciary and hundreds of years of common law and statutory law developments and refinements to handle such claims.

    There may be reasons as to why this situation is unique, and justifies a dual track approach run by the White House. To my knowledge, those reasons have not been articulated or subjected to scrutiny or debate. From what little has been disclosed of this deal, it seems that one group of potential claimants, workers idled by the administration’s decision to halt off-shore drilling, have already been given a preference of sorts, through a 100 million set-aside.

    Within our judicial system, there are pretty well-developed rules that are generally widely known. What rules will be applied within the executive run system remains a bit of a mystery. If shrimp boat owners were a larger or more powerful constituency, could they get an early set-aside for their anticipated damages?

    The executive branch has no greater expertise in these matters and operates with less transparency than the judicial branch. Separation of powers seems to suggest that we should let the courts deal with these issues.

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  9. Julie Robinson said on June 18, 2010 at 11:16 am

    I’m stealing this line from a nephew: “the oil sticks to all of us”.

    I am personally indicted every time I turn up the heat in the winter or turn down the AC on a steaming day like today. I am personally indicted every time I drive my van to buy more crap that I don’t really need, or food in plastic that has been transported 2000 miles. I am personally indicted every time I feel entitled to this lifestyle of cheap energy, cheap food and cheap clothing simply because I was born in the US.

    Without major lifestyle changes we are all indicted, and no amount of righteousness at the right wing can change that. I stand first in line in the dock.

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  10. nancy said on June 18, 2010 at 11:17 am

    Now, that’s a fair point, Mark. I think Obama was sending a message as much as anything, and perhaps insuring that, should BP try to escape liability through bankruptcy or, yes, the courts, that there would be at least some dough for the mess they left behind.

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  11. brian stouder said on June 18, 2010 at 11:28 am

    Julie, agreed. I would only say that it is the literal apologists (to the oil company) that make me mad. The crowd that “wants Obama to fail” – no matter what the subject of the moment is, up to and including the catastrophe in the Gulf, is who angers me – whether or not that sounds like “righteousness”. (I view it more like telling the lunatic in the next bunk to shut the hell up, as we both mark time; rather than righteousness)

    And Mark – I think courts are for when there is a dispute to adjudicate; but BP and the executive branch of the US government made an agreement.

    If BP wanted to avail itself of all the best legal minds, in a protracted series of civil suits, defending and upholding every single favorable consideration that exists (or can be argued exists) under the law, God knows they could have done (and still can do) that.

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  12. 4dbirds said on June 18, 2010 at 11:33 am


    Alicublog mentions this very thing.

    “Any of these aggrieved parties might have said no to the President’s plans, and accepted the consequences. They chose not to, almost certainly because they didn’t want to take their chances with other authorities.”

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  13. mark said on June 18, 2010 at 11:37 am

    nancy- yes, your suggestions may reflect the motivation for the plan.

    brian- if my actions (negligence) damage you in some way, you have rights against me that courts will enforce. I can’t change your rights by calling up Mitch Daniels and reaching an agreement as to how we think your claims against me ought to be adjudicated, or by agreeing that others should have preferred status over your claims.

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  14. 4dbirds said on June 18, 2010 at 11:43 am

    I know nothing of oil, how it found, how it’s harvested etc but this accident has prompted me to do some reading. Now this was on the web so I’m still quite ignorant of it all, but even if a little bit of what I’ve read is correct, I am scared.

    If I have any of it right, this isn’t some hole with gushing oil but more of garden hose in the sea floor with a long split. There is no way to cap it. It can’t be fixed. I think the plan is to drill other well to relieve pressure and this will take a lot of time.

    Has anybody said what the worst case scenario is? My daughter told me her worry is this is the beginning of the end for us.

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  15. brian stouder said on June 18, 2010 at 11:44 am

    And as far as that goes, 4dbirds, BP might well be comtemplating the meaning of the term “Pyrrhic victory” – if they engaged in a protracted spill of unfavorable ink (or electrons) for the next two decades

    edit: Mark – agreed. As I understand it, if an affected party – say a gulf coast shrimper – makes a claim and is unhappy with the response, she can appeal it to a judicial panel within this government/BP agreement; or she can simply file her own suit.

    If you show me that affected parties are actually precluded from that option, then I’ll agree with you that this is not right

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  16. coozledad said on June 18, 2010 at 11:55 am

    Trying to figure out why there are all these calls for transparency when taxpayers need a little of the money back that the Bush administration shovelled into Halliburton’s gaping maw, and the gloriously transparent court reserved the right of opacity for Cheney’s Energy Task Force. We still don’t know whether there was a fisting party between Bush and Kenny Boy Lay or if they went full metal Republican and hauled out the shower curtain and astroglide. Sounds particularly hollow, coming from their quarter.
    It’s another muddy the waters approach to stave off justice. Shitfucks.

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  17. Dexter said on June 18, 2010 at 12:00 pm

    coozledad, The Orkin uniform and the NVA uniform are not even close. I infuriated a close friend when I wore a souvenir tee shirt my brother brought back from a bicycling tour in Vietnam, because the shirt had a star on it.
    He was a Navy vet who had done time near Lebanon in 1958, never went to Vietnam, but he surely hated anything about Vietnam. I wore the shirt again, just not around him any more.

    If “Boner” hadn’t muzzled that cretin Barton, I wonder just how far Barton would have gone with this “amnesty for BP” gimmick in the afternoon rounds. Of course this cements Barton’s re-election, just like the verbal outburst during the SOTU popularized Joe Wilson.

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  18. Dorothy said on June 18, 2010 at 12:01 pm

    My gut feeling for several weeks now has been that this oil spill is going to ruin all oceanic life and activity forever. It’s like the beginning of the end of the planet. I have to turn my eyes away every time a news show puts up pictures of the gush, because otherwise I’d get physically ill each time I watched it.

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  19. Vince said on June 18, 2010 at 12:09 pm

    Nance, I’ll jump in on the ‘sterile soil’ claim. You have already found the perfect word for it: nonsense. Whether it’s Yellowstone and its scorching but very temporary fires or Mount St. Helens and its even more scalding pyroclastic flows and very permanent leveling of the landscape, soils still hold life.

    I hiked in Yellowstone and took hundreds of photos there just a few years ago. Life abounds. Sure there are thousands of dead trees; ‘snags’ in fact are good habitat for birds. W whole host of new flowers, shrubs and trees are growing up among them. No one planted them. Seeds deep below pushed up or blew in on the winds or hitched a ride in a bird’s well digested meal. But they grow just fine in that soil. But it’s actually more natural. We have suppressed fires in the west for so long we’ve forgotten that burning was nature’s own mechanism for restoring landscapes.

    Mount St. Helens has a similar story. Life has returned from what looked like zero, but really wasn’t. It just hid for a while. Lupine emerged on the pumice plain, salamanders actually hiked 4 kilometers overland to return to ponds and even the lifeless, bacteria-filled Spirit Lake cleaned itself into a pristine alpine pool. I’m reluctant to plug my own work here as that’s not my purpose in replying. But if you’d like to see what Yellowstone looked like in 2005 I have pictures here:

    And if you’re interested in Mount St. Helens absolutely amazing recovery, we have a visually stunning account here at Oregon Public Broadcasting:

    To quote the esteemed scientist, Jeff Goldblum, “Life finds a way.”

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  20. moe99 said on June 18, 2010 at 12:10 pm

    Hey mark, that worked out well for Exxon Valdez–how many decades were those injured by the tanker run aground in the courts trying to receive compensation?

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  21. coozledad said on June 18, 2010 at 12:11 pm

    Dexter:I have a feeling this guy was one of the “Vietnam vets” we had so many of in the postal service. Peripheral noncoms who wanted to act butch. There were a few actual combat vets. I never found out they saw heavy combat until I read their obits.

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  22. nancy said on June 18, 2010 at 12:13 pm

    Vince: Thanks. I’ll be wandering through your photography for a while.

    Meanwhile, not to lower the tone, but I think I have just found the stupidest thing ever written. It bears the unmistakable prose style of an intern, and is? (drumroll) the stunning news? (louder drumroll) that Michelle Obama sometimes wears a dress more than once.

    It sets up a straw woman: While some might feel that the first lady should be more carefully tending to her reputation for being superfashionable (and thus not repeating outfits), others see her choice to re-wear her clothes as unequivocally a good thing.

    And then bravely knocks it down! Gooooo, Politico! Keep those gals busy!

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  23. Carol said on June 18, 2010 at 12:30 pm

    I live not far from Yellowstone. After the fires they realized that fire was a necessary, healthy occurrence in the forest. Certain pine trees, for example, only reseed themselves when the cones burst under high heat. Fighting fires had only served to allow the understory to grow to the point that when fires did strike they burned much hotter and more extensively than was true when they were left to burn themselves out. In the latter scenario trees were often left alive and the forest floor was made more habitable for wildlife.
    A fascinating book about the firestorm that occurred in Montana and Idaho 100 years ago this summer, destroying towns and killing several people, is Tim Eagen’s “The Big Burn.” What happened was exacerbated by the Forest Service’s policy of trying to put out all fires.
    And, that vote-checking site?

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  24. Julie Robinson said on June 18, 2010 at 12:36 pm

    We have officially entered the silly season. No, wait, discussing Michelle’s dresses is more pleasant than thinking about the oil spill. Like Dorothy, I can only take so much before I’m dragged down mentally and physically. But like her I fear we have screwed the pooch this time.

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  25. beb said on June 18, 2010 at 12:42 pm

    The worst case scenario is that the rock surrounding the drill casing cracks and allows oil to boil up through it without any blow-out preventer valve slowing it down. The BOP apparently partially closed so we’re not getting the full blast, small comfort though that it. The worst case, therefor is maybe 600,000 barrels a day instead of 60,000.

    In the news this past month was that the Indian courts had finally come to a decision about the Bhopal toxic gas leak. And also, I think, I heard that the courts had recently cut the damages Exxon faced over the Exxon Veldez spill somewhat drastically. There have been too many examples where companies have dragged out cases in the courts to avoid paying the liability that they owe. The idea of setting up an escrow account by the responsible party following a major disaster seems like a good idea, one that should be institutionalized.

    Besides shouldn’t a conservative be aghast that a corporation should fill bankruptcy to avoud paying liability claims. I mean, isn’t that like an immoral dodge of one’s responsibility?

    Dorothy @18. Take comfort that Life endure. No matter how bad things are on the gulf now it will get better. Of course it just may not be human life that endures….

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  26. Rana said on June 18, 2010 at 12:43 pm

    I tend to figure that the “Obama is anti-business” rhetoric is aimed at keeping the goalposts close to the right end of the field; if a corporate-funded, capitalism-friendly centrist is “anti-business” then anything to the left of that must surely be a whacked out, loony, red-eyed-ravin’ commie. It keeps us from thinking about what options might lie in that direction, because the center has already been defined as the “extreme left.”

    Julie – you’re right that we’re all implicated… but as much as I am for personal responsibility and accountability, to be honest we are all playing in a rigged game and opting out is only possible for a handful of survivalists and neo-hippie off-the-gridders. I tend to think that doing things like consuming less, bringing one’s bags to the store, buying fluorescent light bulbs, etc. should be thought of less in terms of solving the problem and more in terms of shifting cultural standards about what “sacrifice” and “quality of life” mean.

    One thing that Obama once did that rather impressed me was express impatience with the notion that an individual’s choice of light bulb was the key to solving complex, global problems like climate change. Too often, I think, individuals are encouraged to feel guilty and self-depriving, while the larger systems that magnify those individual choices (and, indeed, limit them) go unexamined and unchanged. If we want people to drive less, for example, it’s not enough to scold people for driving. We need to make it possible for the average individual, not the die-hard greenie, to behave responsibly without thinking too hard about it. If Joe Six-Pack is recycling his beer cans and thinking nothing of it, that’s a lot more useful than Treehugger Jane refusing to use toilet paper in her composting potty in the wilds of rural Vermont.

    (Sorry… insert quarter, get lecture.)

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  27. Sue said on June 18, 2010 at 12:44 pm

    mark, point taken, except I think given BP’s history of stonewalling, filing appeals and basically waiting out the bank accounts of plaintiffs (Texas City 2005 and 2007 for two well known examples), both sides of this business know exactly what they’re doing. The Administration can only request this fund (escrow or slush, depending on your opinion) as a step toward covering the gazillions that this is going to cost, and BP can agree and get some PR points or refuse and see what hits the fan next. Both sides were pretty aware of ‘what next’ options.
    BP’s lawyers wouldn’t have agreed to this if they thought they could get a better deal elsewhere, and they are probably aware that they have gone so far over the line that even their friends in congress can’t help them. And bet on it, BP is even now working on ways to get around this.
    Business as usual, just rerouted.

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  28. MichaelG said on June 18, 2010 at 12:53 pm

    Excellent, Rana. A voice of reason. A perfect example of the iodicy: Pols around here are exhorting people to save gas and use their cars less while at the same time cutting bus schedules, trimming routes and laying off bus drivers.

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  29. Dexter said on June 18, 2010 at 1:01 pm

    Dorothy, I feel your pain. I got a pang of hopeless, inconsolable demoralization come over me when Tony Hayward , CEO, said there currently were no efforts being made to stop the oil flow into the Gulf of Mexico. It’s been going on for decades off-Africa, though, and the world still spins. The Gulf of Mexico will …hell, who knows? Recover or die? Nobody knows, but it sure is dying right now, as the oil gushes forth with more fervor each day.

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  30. LAMary said on June 18, 2010 at 1:09 pm

    I know I sound like some old codger when I say this, but when I was a kid, back in the fifties and early sixties, milk came in bottles we returned and we took the bus all the time except when we walked. We put our newspapers out on the curb for the boyscouts to pick up. Food came in a lot less packaging. When you bought produce you weighed and put it in a paper bag. Everyone who gardened composted. I didn’t know many people who had air conditioning in their home.
    Certainly there were lots of things that were a lot less energy efficient and/or toxic, but we behaved like it was stupid to waste things. It still is. Individually we made an effort to not waste electricity or water or food.

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  31. 4dbirds said on June 18, 2010 at 1:16 pm

    Don’t forget the freight trains LA Mary. Now these huge trucks drive all over America, burning gas, tearing up roads and making traffic awful for all of us.

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  32. Mark P. said on June 18, 2010 at 1:17 pm

    Mark, there really is no point. “Extrajudicial” arrangements are made between parties all the time. For example, mandatory arbitration clauses in all kinds of service agreements, with no recourse to the courts if the weaker party (the consumer) feels that the process was unfair. As pointed out above, BP could have rejected the agreement and continued paying out whatever they wanted, leaving the injured parties to try to sue. They chose otherwise.

    Besides that, here is part of a Wall Street Journal article:

    “BP’s decision to establish a $20 billion fund for oil-damage claims could help the company blunt protracted legal battles and earn a measure of goodwill with U.S. prosecutors, according to legal experts.”

    According to the article, appeals from the decision of the administrator can be made to a three-judge panel. If you want more information from a source that conservatives usually trust, check the WSJ online.

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  33. coozledad said on June 18, 2010 at 1:21 pm

    LA Mary: But then Reagan came along and all that stuff was for suckers. The tax credits for purchasing solar panels disappeared. Reagan fatuously removed the ones Carter had installed on the roof of the White House. If the federal government purchased solar panels, even outright, for individual homes and arrays for small municipalities, you’d starve the oil companies to death, reverse unemployment, and restore the United States to its position as a manufacturing country, as opposed to being a sexual tourism site for foreign based multinationals.
    But solar technology, no matter how well it currently works, will always be ten years away.

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  34. moe99 said on June 18, 2010 at 1:42 pm

    “…The oil emanating from the seafloor contains about 40 percent methane, compared with about 5 percent found in typical oil deposits, said John Kessler, a Texas A&M University oceanographer who is studying the impact of methane from the spill.

    That means huge quantities of methane have entered the Gulf, scientists say, potentially suffocating marine life and creating “dead zones” where oxygen is so depleted that nothing lives…”

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  35. nancy said on June 18, 2010 at 1:42 pm

    John Scalzi is making sense:

    The Republican leadership is righteously pissed off at Barton at the moment, but the question not answered is: Is it pissed off because he said something that does not reflect the Republican point of view on the escrow account, or is it pissed off because Barton, the House GOP point man on energy, was stupid enough to say it out loud at a congressional hearing? The phrases “shakedown” and “slush fund” as regards the escrow account didn’t come out of nowhere — other Republicans and right wing media were already using the terms before Barton made an ass of himself with them. The major difference is that when Michelle Bachmann and Sean Hannity punt the terms about, they’re part of the GOP “socialist grandmother killer” strategy of dinging the Democrats over the long term, and the Republican leadership doesn’t have to engage with it directly and can distance itself from it if need be while still benefiting from getting the meme out there.

    But when Barton, poster boy for the House GOP energy policy, used them, there was nowhere for the GOP leadership to hide.

    More. Read.

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  36. brian stouder said on June 18, 2010 at 1:59 pm

    the article the proprietress points to is really, really good; not righteous, but instead simply true (and more than a little entertaining, with its funny metaphors)

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  37. LAMary said on June 18, 2010 at 2:28 pm

    cooz, even before Reagan the idea of disposability being a great thing was marketed. In the summer we bought soda by the case and when you drank a soda you put the bottle back in the case. On Saturday you brought the case of empties back and bought a new case of soda. Then came soda in cans. I still remember hearing the jingle on the radio,”soft drinks chill fast, and they’re lighter weight…saves you space when you refrigerate…packable, stackable, never bring ’em backable cans…”

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  38. brian stouder said on June 18, 2010 at 2:49 pm

    Mary – when I worked at a supermarket (in itself, another dated concept) many years ago, one of the jobs was “bottleroom” – where you sorted the returnable pop bottles back into their proper wooden shells (each of which held three 8-packs of 16 ounce bottles*). The room was dank and smelly, and if the store had any mice (a seasonal thing), they lived in there. Looking back, I wonder how much water pollution resulted from all the washing those bottles must have required. Also – in addition to the occasional dropped bottle out in the pop aisle that would break and make a sticky mess, there would be, once in a great while, one very large cataclysmic cola crash. I recall one in particular, when one of the regular route drivers was on vacation, and the guy who stacked the full Coke shells back in the stockroom did a piss-poor job. At some point, one of the stock boys pulled away a shell of pop from a neighboring stack, and – it happened! A domino-effect collapse occurred, and when it was over, soda pop of all sorts was all over the back room. Not for nothing, it’s worth noting that glass chunks and pieces had flown everywhere; a genuinely dangerous situation. And indeed, when you first approach a mound of intact and broken bottles, the first challenge was deciding where to begin – without making matters worse!

    Anyway – thanks for the trip down memory lane

    *btw – it always seemed incorrect to me that Coca-Cola was Big #1 in the soda pop world (circa 1977); in our store, in southeast Fort Wayne, Pepsi absolutely ruled. I recall that Pepsi had 10-facings (40 bottles wide) of Pepsi, while Coke had 2 (8 bottles wide).

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  39. Linda said on June 18, 2010 at 2:50 pm

    Nancy–some of the fallout is coming already. Freepers are livid with the Republican Party for holding Barton upside down by his heels over the lion’s cage, and are threatening all sorts of things–a REAL conservative party, sitting out the elections, etc. They believe that somehow, that’ll show them.

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  40. Jolene said on June 18, 2010 at 2:59 pm

    I’ve been wishing for more and better technical reporting. For instance, what procedures are being used to estimate the flow rate? What are the difficulties that have led to the ever-increasing, but still uncertain, numbers we hear? There’s been some info on this, but not much that I’ve seen.

    Also, I keep hearing all these “why aren’t they?” rants, as in “why aren’t they consulting with other companies?” Other things “they” should be doing: getting help from other countries, bringing in supertankers to suck up the oil, giving more control to governors and mayors. Many of these things have been done, but the reporting has been below-the-fold. Seems like both BP and the administration would have an interest in drawing more attention to those stories and that news orgs would like to have an at least somewhat new story to tell.

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  41. mark said on June 18, 2010 at 3:22 pm

    moe- I don’t know the answer to your question. I assume you do. How many people were caught up for decades? I did a lot of litigation. Never had a case that went on for decades. Many went on for years.

    We could choose speed over things like due process. Or maybe we can get both if we get rid of the judiciary and let the executive branch settle all disputes. Do you think that will be true even if the Dick Cheneys of the world are back in power instead of the Obama types?

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  42. Deborah said on June 18, 2010 at 3:25 pm

    Moe, what is your new gravatar? I can’t quite figure it out at that scale.

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  43. brian stouder said on June 18, 2010 at 3:26 pm

    We could choose speed over things like due process.

    What was the old saying? Something about “justice delayed…”?

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  44. coozledad said on June 18, 2010 at 3:42 pm

    We could choose speed and due process. Difficult when Obama’s judicial appointments are being held up by by a bunch of screeching little inbreds who look like they could have modeled for a Dr. Seuss drawing.
    Once again, it’s strange to be lectured on due process by the “habeus is for pussies” squad.
    You Republicans are nothing but projection. It was hard to escape your squeals of approval when Cheney and Addington were wiping their dicks with the constitution. And the Cheneys might come back, but they’ll have to use the fucking courts again, won’t they?

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  45. Linda said on June 18, 2010 at 3:49 pm


    Here’s what they mean by decades of litigation:

    In the wake of the Alaska spill, Congress passed the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, which puts a $75 million limit on economic damages an oil company can pay as a penalty. Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch, the only remaining member of the Utah delegation from that time, voted in favor of the cap.

    “Individuals hurt by the Gulf spill, such as fisherman, processing plants, small-business and resort owners, can expect to see 20 to 30 years of litigation before they’ll get any money back — and in the end, they’ll get only a small amount of damages,” predicted Brian O’Neill, an attorney with the firm Faegre & Benson, who represented numerous Alaskans after the Exxon disaster.

    Bowen is evidence of that prediction. He was among 33,000 plaintiffs awarded $5 billion in punitive damages in 1994.

    Exxon appealed the jury’s verdict, and over the years, various appellate courts cut that amount in half. Exxon then appealed the award to the U.S. Supreme Court, and in June 2008, the justices slashed the punitive damages from $2.5 billion to $507.5 million.

    Last June, still another federal ruling ordered Exxon to pay an additional $480 million in interest on the corporation’s delayed punitive damage award — more than 20 years after the spill.

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  46. mark said on June 18, 2010 at 4:18 pm


    While I don’t know all the thinking that went into the 1990 damages cap, I think the cap is a bad idea and horribly low even if some cap might be appropriate. BP carries higher insurance limits than 75 million against the possible damage caused by a tanker truck cruising on the highway. Before Obama announced his BP deal there was much talk of trying to repeal or change the law. That talk appears to have died down. Perhaps that is only coincidence.

    I’m sure BP thought the proposal was in its best interest; I’m not concerned about BP. I’m concerned about what BP gets in return that may be contrary to the interests of the claimants- like no effort to change the liability cap, a justice department defense of the cap against a constitutional challenge, or administration support of efforts to apply the cap against claims by states or municipalities.

    A lengthy appeal of a then landmark punitive damage award doesn’t prove that the courts are incapable of handling economic loss claims in a reasonably timely fashion. From what I have read of the BP plan, punitive damages won’t be available at all, so that can’t be the interest which the plan seeks to serve.

    I’m not even necessarily opposed to the proposal- i think it should be discussed and understood not hammered out behind closed White House doors.

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  47. Julie Robinson said on June 18, 2010 at 4:22 pm

    Completely off-topic, can anyone recommend a place to start reading Anne Lamott? A friend and I were just talking about her books and it turned out both of us were looking for a recommendation.

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  48. coozledad said on June 18, 2010 at 4:25 pm

    Behold the power of raw cognitive dissonance!

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  49. crinoidgirl said on June 18, 2010 at 4:26 pm

    Jolene – As far as technical reporting, the Wall Street Journal is doing a bang up job. I lucked into a subscription a while ago. As a technical writer, I can tell you that they have the best graphics and writing on what’s going on down there. And since they’re a major news source now (Rupert is turning it into a national news source, not just about business news), they get documents slipped to them that most people don’t see. As long as I don’t read the editorials, I’m happy.

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  50. LAMary said on June 18, 2010 at 4:35 pm

    Julie, you could try Bird by Bird.

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  51. Rana said on June 18, 2010 at 4:43 pm

    Bird by Bird is indeed very good. It’s one of my favorite books on writing overall.

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  52. crinoidgirl said on June 18, 2010 at 4:51 pm

    Julie, it depends on what you want to read. Every book has a different subject. I found Traveling Mercies the most accessible.

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  53. Deborah said on June 18, 2010 at 5:00 pm

    The Anne Lamott book about the birth of her son was a good one, Operating Instructions I think is the name. But I agree with Rana and LA MAry the best one is Bird by Bird. I’ve read her novels and am not as impressed. She used to write for so some of her essays may be available through them still.

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  54. Kim said on June 18, 2010 at 5:01 pm

    To venture ever further off topic, I offer this for all fans of The Wire. As my colleague who shared said, “the Internets is a magical place.”

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  55. crinoidgirl said on June 18, 2010 at 5:16 pm

    Amen on AL’s novels, Deborah.

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  56. crinoidgirl said on June 18, 2010 at 5:51 pm

    Hitler finds out about the BP oil spill:

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  57. crinoidgirl said on June 18, 2010 at 6:11 pm

    And now for something completely different, tornado scientists are pissed of at the amateurs (rightly so):

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  58. brian stouder said on June 18, 2010 at 6:31 pm

    Another digression into the land of the baggers of tea.

    I don’t know how to take this story about the darling of the Rubes in Florida

    Three sentences that capture the oddness. The lead:

    Republican U.S. Senate candidate Marco Rubio and another Miami politician are facing foreclosure on a Tallahassee home they co-own for failing to make mortgage payments since January, Leon County court records show.

    a detail:

    Rubio spokesman Alex Burgos said Rubio and Rivera stopped making payments during a dispute with the bank over terms of the mortgage.

    and a background sentence:

    The Internal Revenue Service investigated spending by Rubio and more than two dozen other party leaders under former state chairman Jim Greer, who faces criminal charges for his own freewheeling spending of dollars on himself.

    Hmmmm. So, the teabagger rubes believe that the mortgage crisis was caused by banks being forced to give loans to people who couldn’t pay them back, except for people like Rubio who shared a home with another man, because, uhhh, errr, uhhhh, when you disagree with a bank, you should stop paying them! THAT’ll get their attention! It’s the free market at work! Just call up your wealthy friends, and they’ll get your accounts squared up somehow, because money comes from never-never land, or something, right?

    Or not.

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  59. moe99 said on June 18, 2010 at 8:41 pm

    The new gravatar is a color print my son did in his printmaking class. It’s the Ice Palace festival in Beijing last winter. Gravatar cut out the sides. Thanks for asking.

    And Mark I don’t subscribe to the notion that corporations are deserving of all the constitutional protections that actual US citizens enjoy. Particularly this one. YMMV of course.

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  60. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on June 18, 2010 at 9:42 pm

    I vote with crinoidgirl on “Traveling Mercies” as a good entry point — “Bird by Bird” & “Operating Instructions” are excellent, but a little more focused and pointed, might not meet a general interest for a hesitant reader. But if you don’t enjoy “Traveling Mercies,” you’re not likely to want to read anything else by her.

    The same wd go for “Pigs in Heaven” by Barbara Kingsolver — not necessarily her very best, but if you like that, you’ll ultimately read everything else she’s done. If you start with “Poisonwood Bible” or “Animal, Mineral” and don’t like ’em, you might miss a great deal else you would have appreciated.

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  61. Little Bird said on June 18, 2010 at 10:46 pm

    Throwing my two cents in here, while I like Bird by Bird, Operating Instructions had me laughing so hard I was crying. It’s one of the funniest books I’ve ever read.

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  62. Dexter said on June 18, 2010 at 11:14 pm

    We had a Pepsi bottling plant two blocks from my house until it was shut down. The stores had the taste-tests, but I always picked the Coke out as the best tasting. Fort Wayne had a Seven-Up bottling plant in the late 1950s, early 1960s, too.

    I started a firestorm on the open thread on the Treme blog “Back of Town”. I stated that it was ridiculous how the product placement people had everyone drinking Bud , and then for two weeks everybody drank MGD (Miller) in the bars of Treme.
    Ray posted that they never accepted any product placement money…but I don’t know if he works on the show , participates in Second Lines, or what exactly.
    He said Blacks drink Bud , period, while others say people drink Abita, Heineken, and Bud. Abita is a Louisiana beer.
    But I don’t know…HBO always used product placement in the Sopranos, pimping Nissan SUVs, Barney’s underwear, even shit like Froot Loops…imagine…a mafia don eating fucking froot loops! So, I was sure Treme was utilizing product placement (even Creighton’s last smoke was clearly ID’d as a Marlboro Red.)
    I guess I will defer to the locals, however…until someone posts something proving me wrong. Just because Black people DO drink mostly Bud, what’s wrong in taking a couple million semolians from Anheuser-Busch anyway?
    I heard that Lady Gaga’s newest video is riddled with many products; this is how these people get dough to make these 2 millions dollar videos…the record companies don’t pony up that kind of jack anymore.

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  63. prospero said on June 18, 2010 at 11:28 pm

    My goodness, you’re an interesting bunch of folks. Smarter than normal. In general. Much nicer. Iggy, I like that that a lot, but that is not as good as MC5, not even close. And no way is either as good as SRC. I think you had to live there. Angel Song. Sustain, positively brilliant. Corporations aren’t people unless you actually think Justice Birdshot is actually a person. What original intent says IBM is actually a person. These people that claim original intent, they’re making shit up as they go along and they think IBM is more a citizen than I am because they have more cash. That’s original intent Justice Scalia? In what universe? Because they have more cash?

    If you’re a teabagger, with a conscience, shouldn’t you find the judge heinous? But shit. They don’t. They want to impose some idiot will over the Constitution. There’s nothing to do with their whack ideology that actually has anything to do with the Constitution. They want to impose looney toons.

    These whackos have nothing to do with the Constitution. Shit, that’s a canard.

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  64. alex said on June 18, 2010 at 11:54 pm

    Just came home to a big vinyl wading pool in my driveway. Not sure if God flung it there or if some juveniles are getting their jollies the same way my generation did stealing gnomes and porch monkeys and fat-lady-bending-over butts and decorating other folkses’ yards with them. There was a helluva storm while out to dinner tonight, trees bending down to the ground and festival tents taking off like spaceships, but even so this thing is remarkable. It’s big and heavy and appears to have simply dropped from the sky because there’s no path of destruction through any of the flower beds surrounding it.

    Think I’ll make it a gray water holding pen until somebody drives by and claims it.

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  65. Dexter said on June 19, 2010 at 2:05 am

    Antoine Batiste on his ‘bone…

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  66. prospero said on June 19, 2010 at 2:53 am

    And morons in Korea think balloons mean war.

    Here I stand. Sitting pretty. In dust that was once a city. Ninety nine luftballooons go by.

    What is wrong with people? We can spend $2trillion on some rocket defense that could’t work in a billion years and will cost $2rillion

    Reagan had alzhhimers, you idiots. He had no idea what he was talking about, anf middion defenxe is insane.
    So you knole, put that money toward job creation. You morons.

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  67. prospero said on June 19, 2010 at 5:36 am

    Nancy, I’nm surprised you don’t find Nena sort of inspiring. One woman cottage industry. Wrote one undeniably great song. One brilliant hit wonder.

    When it cut’s into upbeat, it’s great guitar and great synth. It’s just superb, and you have this ridiculously gorgeous woman in a varsity jacket singing about how the end of the world was an idiotic error by some pro-war madman. And she doesn’t blame the asshole. Just a dumb mistake. And she’s sad, Andd she knows it’s the end of the world, but she thinks about the red balloons.

    It’s pretty difficult to imagine a more perfect song. In the German particularly. The English is somewhat more sarcastic, and not quite as sweet and just beautiful.

    And then South Koreans,in their monumental whackness, are sure L’il Jung Ill is screwing with them. Christ, they’re as nuts as he is. He might be fucking around.

    Ain’t gonna work. And these morons want to spend about $2 trillion on this star-wars stupidity
    And the Republican deficit warriors want to spend this idiotic wasted cash. Mske the assholes actually filibuster.

    It’s gotten to this. Mske the aholes actually fiiibuster. Call their asses. Make their obstructionist asses actually vote.

    Let’s get something done. This threatened crap is fucking nuts. The threat of of whackjob Senaators standing in the way of democracy is bullshit. If a majority of senators says something is supposed to happen, it’s suppossed to hspprn. Thid 60 business is Republican horseshit.

    Make these morons actuza run aa filibuster. There is no way they can survive this, because they lie their asses off as a matter of course.

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  68. coozledad said on June 19, 2010 at 6:23 am

    Payack’s just another fraud. CNN will do it with anybody.

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  69. ROgirl said on June 19, 2010 at 7:39 am

    The Detroit School Board President, whose lack of writing skills became public several months ago, has resigned following a complaint by a superintendent that he masturbated during a meeting (apparently not the first time he engaged in such behavior). Now he wants to rescind the resignation.

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  70. Pam said on June 19, 2010 at 8:48 am

    I was trying to explain to Joey recently that in my day, big business was considered by its very nature to be anti-people and that one must always be vigilant where the military-industrial complex was concerned. But in the last 30 years or so, that idea got turned upside down. I personally think it’s because so many boomers found employment with those same companies and came to depend upon them for their big houses, cars, boats, entertainment centers, et al.

    Here’s my personal conspiracy theory about the Barton blurtage. The Obama administration brokered a $20B deal with BP — setting aside major funds for the people in the Gulf to ensure their livelihoods and proceed with the clean up. So before we could as a nation chat about that victory, the Republicans arranged to have a stooge blab the outrageous accusation that Obama had staged a shake down. At this time, are we talking as a nation about the $20B victory and the fact that the taxpayers don’t have to pay the bill for a change and kudos to the Obama administration? No, we are totally distracted by this nonsense of a shakedown. The Republicans would go to any extreme to distract the public from the real issue. So they threw Barton under the bus! Karl Rove (Karl with a K, who is really Joseph Goebbels reincarnated) taught them well how to twist words to their own ends. I saw Bill O’Reilly’s nasty face on TV last night and had to change the channel before I hurled. What a piece he is!

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  71. Julie Robinson said on June 19, 2010 at 8:57 am

    OMG, Rogirl. I’m wordless.

    I do like Kingsolver, though occasionally she’s a bit too earnest. Thanks to all for the LaMott suggestions, I’ll put one on reserve and pass them along to my friend.

    Last night’s big rainy windstorm (or was it a big windy rainstorm?) tore our shed door off. Not a huge loss as it was scheduled for replacement anyway, but what a storm. The morning paper reports a man killed by a tree the wind blew over. Yikes.

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  72. crinoidgirl said on June 19, 2010 at 11:55 am

    OK, now I think I’ve seen everything – “Utah Attorney General Announces Execution on Twitter”

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  73. moe99 said on June 19, 2010 at 2:28 pm

    There’s a new GOP meme about the BP fund:

    Yesterday, though, the Republican message seemed to shift a bit, at least in some corners. What was initially deemed an outrageous presidential abuse turned into a GOP idea that Obama shouldn’t take credit for.

    Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), for example, issued a statement yesterday implicitly arguing that there couldn’t have been a shakedown, since BP intended to put $20 billion into the escrow fund before the White House meeting. “The true outrage,” Franks said, “is that this was never the President’s idea at all.”

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  74. coozledad said on June 19, 2010 at 2:54 pm

    Moe: They’re running off the damned rails.It’s almost like someone’s been cutting their ecstasy with animal tranquilizers. Zombie worshiper Peggles Noonan says “Obama should get Bush in his corner.”
    They are so not over the codpiece.

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  75. moe99 said on June 20, 2010 at 12:23 pm

    high today 64. showers predicted.

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  76. Dexter said on June 20, 2010 at 5:12 pm

    JulieRobinson: We met our kid in Findlay, Ohio today for brunch and on the way back we saw one small area that had really been ripped all to hell by the tornadoes and high winds of Friday night. This was south of Defiance a few miles. Trees had been uprooted and I saw a barn that had its door twisted and splintered.

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  77. Julie Robinson said on June 20, 2010 at 5:27 pm

    This morning at church we heard that a 200 year old oak tree at the cemetery had been uprooted by the storm. (I’m not sure how we know it’s 200 years old.)

    If your Dad is still in your life, give him a call/visit/hug. Today I’m really missing the ability to do that.

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  78. Deborah said on June 20, 2010 at 6:38 pm

    Julie, I know what you mean, my Dad died when he was 80 in 1991. I miss him and regret all the things I never spoke about with him.

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  79. Dexter said on June 20, 2010 at 7:17 pm

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  80. Dexter said on June 21, 2010 at 1:58 am

    I am trying to change my avatar…let’s see…there it is.

    Treme finished nicely; I loved seeing Big Chief Albert’s new suit. The prequel was done well, a flashback in Ladonna’s eyes as the graveside services for Daymo were conducted. The Ferris Bueller type “last day” for Davis and Janette ended with a nice surprise for Davis. Scumbag Sonny? Headed straight for a miserable hell on earth. No sympathy at all for Cray’s depression-driven suicide.

    After “The Pacific” and “Treme”, it’s gonna take a bunch of will power to try to get into “Hung” next Sunday, and “True Blood” was all over the place last night.

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