May 15, 2013
The End of the Obama Illusion
By Thomas Lifson
President Obama is shattering the illusions of his supporters, and eyes are opening, even among his former media allies. As if waking from a slumber, a newly aggressive White House press corps yesterday raked Jay Carney over the coals over various lies and evasions, prompting Megyn Kelley of Fox News to quip, "What’s happened? Who are these reporters who showed up here?"
They are disillusioned and angry liberals who are starting to grasp that they have been lied to, who realize that a skeptical stance is necessary when examining a narrative offered by team Obama on Benghazi or the IRS scandal.
Even worse, the media have discovered that they are themselves targets of government abuse, just like those Tea Partiers the IRS was picking on. The Associated Press, whose newsroom and reporters’ personal phone line records were secretly subpoenaed, is collectively owned by members of the mainstream media. As the largest newsgathering organization in the country, it stands for media freedom itself in their minds. An attack on it is an attack on them.
Right now, there’s a lot of cognitive dissonance going on in the punditocracy: how could a constitutional law professor turn on the free press? Obama’s just not behaving like the good guy they thought him to be. Awkward questions of character are being raised in their minds.
The love they offered Obama all those years has not been reciprocated. John Yoo observed, "[T]his is how you get treated when you are in a politician’s pocket." As with many scorned lovers, they are ripe to reframe their understanding of their ex-amour in a more negative light. The illusion of Obama the godlike light-bringer, the man who could bring us together, has dissolved into an uncomfortable, soon to be angry, memory.
And therein lies serious peril for President Obama. Once it becomes accepted that his narratives are false, a Pandora’s Box opens. To a remarkable degree, the biographical narrative he offered to the media when he suddenly appeared on the national scene, and which they accepted and aggressively defended, was built on illusion. Serious questions about Frank Marshall Davis, Bill Ayers, his authorship of Dreams from my Father, and his academic transcripts once were rudely brushed aside as racism and paranoia.
Two polar opposite ways of seeing Barack Obama emerged in his first presidential campaign. The mainstream view saw an inspiring, brilliant high achiever who could bring us together, while among conservatives, as exemplified over the years at American Thinker, a decidedly more negative interpretation of the biographical facts emerged. Just a few of many possible examples include:
Brilliant academic career
Transcripts remain sealed, affirmative action could have helped him
Community organizer — man of the people, leader of others, cares about the poor
Saul Alinsky follower, ginned up astroturf demonstrations, ruthless
Constitutional law professor at famous university
Lecturer, leftist course, no academic distinction
Just a guy in the neighborhood. You’re a McCarthyite
Started his political career in Bill Ayers’s living room
Dreams proves he’s brilliant
Dreams was written by Bill Ayers
Inspiring community leader
Annenberg Chicago Challenge he headed accomplished nothing
Greatest. Orator. Ever.
Off the teleprompter, not so much.
The problem is that not only is Obama a liar; he is a phony. And bit by bit, the evidence is becoming clearer to more ansd more of the people who were taken in.
This drawing, the so-called Young Lady/Old Lady illusion, illustrates the way reframing can change the way a person perceives something. It is possible to see either a young lady or an old lady in the picture below:
Generations of introductory psychology students have seen, but if you have not and want to see both, this video explains both:
So it is with Obama. Depending what is put in the foreground and what in the background, Barack Obama appears beautiful and stylish, or mean and scary.
The big worry now for Obama has to be what Professor Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit calls a "preference cascade." He explains:
In his book, Private Truths, Public Lies, economist Timur Kuran looked at the way "preference falsification" can distort societies, and then collapse suddenly.
The classic example is in a totalitarian society, where everyone has to pretend to love the Great Leader on pain of death. If the authorities manage it right, 99% of the populace can be ready to revolt — but won’t, because each individual thinks he or she is the only one who feels that way. This works until some event suddenly shocks the system, and people realize that they’re not alone. When that happens, things can go south in a hurry. That’s a "preference cascade."
The United States isn’t a totalitarian society, but media bias has the same sort of effect: By privileging some views and suppressing others, the media give Americans, and itself, a distorted idea of reality. Then, when things crack, it’s a big surprise.
Some on the right are already talking impeachment, which is a big mistake. Others counsel speed. Instead, Obama’s opponents would be wise to focus on discovery of facts, taking all the time necessary to staff up a highly capable select committee or two, issuing subpoenas and using congressional hearings to ferret out the truth of Benghazi and the suppression of conservative groups taking advantage of the Citizens United decision and setting up nonprofit counterparts to Media Matters and other progressive groups.
The preference cascade is our friend. Let the Committee Democrats decide which side they want to be on. Already, the signs are that House Democrats are not about to defend the IRS or obstruct the inquiry in any way. Having thrown the CIA under the bus on the Benghazi talking points, the Obama administration has delivered a message to potential witnesses and fall guys: you’re expendable.
Once upon a time, Barack Obama rode as high as a politician can get, at least as the big media portrayed him. It’s a long way down.
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Wed May 15, 2013 12:24 am
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Does Barack Obama have any idea what is going on in the government that he is supposedly running? Scandals are erupting all around him, and he supposedly was not aware that any wrongdoing had taken place in any of those instances. It is almost as if every major government agency has gone rogue and Obama has no idea what the heck they are doing. According to Obama, he often doesn’t learn what those under his authority are up to until he sits down and turns on the news. Should we believe him when he claims ignorance over and over again, or is Obama just trying to protect himself? Whether you are a Republican, a Democrat or an Independent, the revelations that have come out in recent days about the IRS, the seizure of AP phone records and Benghazi should be very alarming to you. Taken together, these scandals paint a picture of a federal government that has become drunk with power, and no matter where you may fall on the political spectrum that is something that nobody should want.
Posted below is a fictional interview that I have created between an anonymous reporter and Barack Obama about the IRS scandal, the seizure of AP phone records, Benghazi and other sensitive topics. Yes, this interview is a bit absurd, but so is the notion that Barack Obama is completely ignorant about so many important things that are going on inside his own government…
REPORTER: “President Obama, the IRS has publicly admitted that they were specifically targeting patriot groups and Tea Party organizations for ‘extra scrutiny’. When did you first learn about this?”
REPORTER: “But how is that possible? We have now learned that the targeting of patriots and Tea Party groups began as early as March 2010. The head of the IRS tax-exempt organizations division was informed about this targeting in June 2011, the chief counsel for the IRS knew about this targeting by August 2011, the deputy commissioner for services and enforcement knew about this targeting by March 2012, and IRS Commissioner Steven T. Miller knew about this targeting by May 2012. Throughout this period of time, the IRS repeatedly lied to Congress when they were specifically asked about the targeting of conservative groups. Are you claiming that nobody from your administration ever had any contact with anyone from the IRS about this?”
REPORTER: That is what the IRS was claiming at first. But now the Washington Post is reporting that “IRS officials at the agency’s Washington headquarters sent queries to conservative groups asking about their donors and other aspects of their operations, while officials in the El Monte and Laguna Niguel offices in California sent similar questionnaires to tea-party-affiliated groups.” That would seem to indicate that this was being coordinated on a nationwide level by someone at the IRS. Would you care to comment on that?
REPORTER: But you were just commenting on it. Don’t you think that the American people deserve the truth about this?
REPORTER: Okay, let’s switch gears. Did you know that the Justice Department was spying on AP reporters just months before the 2012 election? Did you know that two months of cellular, office and home telephone records were secretly obtained without any explanation last April and May?
REPORTER: The Associated Press is now the enemy? Without a free and independent media, what would keep us from descending into tyranny?
REPORTER: But shouldn’t we be alarmed when government agencies target specific groups of people for their political beliefs? Breitbart is reporting that the EPA “has routinely charged conservative and watchdog groups fees that the agency has waived for the mainstream media and ‘green’ groups”. Do you know anything about this?
REPORTER: I understand that these are tougher questions than you normally get from the media. But I think that the American people deserve some answers. For example, would you like to discuss Benghazi?
REPORTER: Very funny Mr. President. What about the Fast and Furious scandal? Would you be willing to talk about that?
REPORTER: Are there any difficult subjects that you would be willing to discuss? I have questions here about the Secret Service prostitution scandal, Solyndra, the new NSA spy center out in Utah, government ammunition stockpiling, the NDAA, drone strikes, Jeremiah Wright, Tony Rezko and Bill Ayers. Would you be willing to answer any of those questions?
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I absolutely believe that that our methods in the Middle East over the last half century have been colossally wrongheaded. That is kind. In our fear that we would lose access to to oil, the substance our economy runs on, we have done some very un-American things. People are dead who should not be. The world is more chaotic (very arguably) because of our tear assing around in the Old World desert,
There was a time when we let the Brits do warring in the Old World desert. We have no place in the Old World. That is especially true since the natural gas revolution of the past 3 years.
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Obamacare Train Wreck? Washington Post: Obama Administration “has gone hat in hand to health industry executives.”
Obamacare looks increasingly like a disaster. It could be Obama’s Iraq War. (Sadly it’s even more expensive.) Senator Baucus, a Democrat, recently said he saw an Obamacare “train wreck coming down.”
Then he announced his retirement.
Obamacare, which was forced through against the will of a majority of Americans according to polling at the time, has the potential to get very ugly indeed. And the law has only gotten more unpopular with time. Things are going so badly that Kathleen Sebelius now has to beg for funds from health industry executives (you know the people who wrote large parts of the law) to get the thing off the ground.
In other words she is playing the crony card, giving industry another chance to show which companies really want to play ball with the government, and of course reap (potential) benefits.
Thing is we may be past that point Ms. Sebelius. And as Baucus saw, you and the administration are running out of track.
(From The Washington Post)
“It sounds like the people she’s going to are people that are being regulated by her agency, I think that is definitely problematic,” said Meredith McGehee, policy director for the Campaign Legal Center. “That’s not a statement about the value of the law, but it’s a statement about using the power of government to compel giving or insinuate that giving is going to be looked at favorably by the government.”
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Karl Rove under-cover assassin of conservatism
The Rogue Helping Obama Steal America
By Judi McLeod
Friday, May 10, 2013
The deadly, almost under-cover assassin of conservatism in America is not the Fundamental Transformation of America-pushing Barack Obama and the Democrats but Karl Rove and his big-money financiers.
Conservatism is the dead man walking in the politics of America today, and there’s no way to revive the corpse as long as Karl Rove is still at the GOP helm.
From the Truth-is-stranger-than-Fiction department: A brilliant May 8 piece in the New York Times by Thomas B. Edsall draws back the curtain on the forces battling for GOP control between the well-heeled establishment and passionately conservative forces, and it’s less than a pretty picture.
It’s the movie of our lifetime depicting what is happening in the underskirts of the body politic in a declining America.
But the May 1 revelation by the Republican National Committee that it had awarded a multimillion-dollar contract for data management and collection services to Liberty Works, a firm run by Richard Boyce, an associate of Rove, could inadvertently lead to the way out of the labyrinth that is steadily undermining the Republican Party faithful, and therefore some day stop disenfranchising millions of conservative voters.
“The extensive involvement of Rove, not only with Liberty Works, but also with all aspects of Republican efforts to build a technologically advanced, integrated voter list, has provoked new charges that Rove is acquiring unprecedented control over the Republican electioneering machine: over the aggregation of tactically valuable data and sharing it; over fund-raising; over candidate selection; over voter mobilization; and finally over issue prioritization,” Edsall writes. (New York Times, May 8, 2013)
“Rove and Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, have angered the right wing of the Republican Party, which views them as focused on marginalizing the Tea Party movement. Centrist Republicans like Rove and Priebus see the hard right as having cost the party five Senate seats over the past two elections. They are determined to put an end to the dominant role of the Tea Party and its supporters in primary contests”.
No one discreetly gloats more about the destruction to true conservatism by the Rove-Priebus mission than the David Axelrod-run Obama Team, who know by experience the power of astro-turfing.
The always-in-campaign-mode Obama Team know more than anyone else that as long as the Rove-Priebus team is in play, there is zero hope for a Republican comeback 2016 and beyond.
The all-passion, shoestring-budget crimped Tea Party groups trying to elect candidates are no match for moneyed Rove ally, Richard Boyce, who is a partner in TPG Capital, a private equity firm based in Forth Worth and San Francisco. A major Republican donor, Boyce, during the 2011-2012 election cycle, contributed $300,000 to Mitt Romney’s ”Super PAC”, Restore Our Future, and another $100,000 to Rove’s Super PAC, American Crossroads.
“According to both his own aides and the R.N.C., Rove does not have a financial stake in Liberty Works”. (Edsall).
Rove’s association with Boyce underlines the vulnerability of the striving Tea Party, in getting the message out that the Republican Party houses both warring factions: establishment candidates—and conservative ones.
For the Tea Party even getting candidates over the finish line means first having to get get past Rove and the establishment.
Among the slings and arrows coming the Tea Party’s way, it is sometimes easy to miss that Rove and his cohorts are as effective in ‘Red-Necking’ Tea Party candidates up for election as “bible thumpers”, “racists” and “wannabe terrorists” as is the always-in-overdrive Obama regime.
In order for David Axelrod et al to turn the tide against the Tea Party they need Karl Rove, and most frustratingly for those who seek to rescue America from fast growing collectivism, they got Karl Rove.
“Rove’s fingerprints are all over the Liberty Works voter list project, which is estimated to cost $20 million,” writes Edsall. “A company created by the R.N.C., Data Trust will exercise control of the list. Mike Duncan, who was the chairman of the R.N.C. at the end of George W. Bush’s second term, will be the trust’s chairman. Duncan is now the chairman of Rove’s super PAC, American Crossroads.
“Throughout the presidency of George W. Bush, liberals and progressives saw Rove as the incarnation of evil. Now many on the conservative right describe him in similar terms.”
Commenters at the conservative Web site Free Republic continue to expose Rove as the Big Enemy of conservatism that he is, and Edsall gives them a shout-out in his Time’s piece.
The theory that the left-right paradigm is dead in America has never had it so good and without significant change is destined to take its toll on the next election.
In surviving the Fundamental Transformation of America, which is costing Americans freedoms and individual rights on a now daily basis, America is at the crossroads.
Incredibly, in a political world where conservatism is being strangled by the party that masquerades as the Party of Conservatives, Karl Rove is being given legitimacy by Fox News—who made it to Number One in Cable Television as the Conservative television network.
That Fox News continues to give Rove legitimacy after election night, November 6, 2012 is mind boggling, when proof exists showing how Rove argued with his home network about whether Obama won Ohio.
Described by Huffpost, “Fox News had what can only be described as an insane argument with itself over whether or not President Obama had won Ohio, and the presidency”.
This was the embarrassing scene millions of Fox viewers were subjected to here courtesy of Rove on last election night.
“The network seemed quite confident in its projections at first, but suddenly, pundit Karl Rove—who, as leader of a huge conservative Super PAC has something of an interest in the outcome of the race—began to pour cold water on the call.
“Fox News’ Chris Wallace then said that Gov. Mitt Romney’s campaign is contesting the network’s decision to call President Obama’s re-election.
“‘Well I have great respect for our decision desk, and I can see that they’re very happy in Chicago, but I have to tell you that the Romney camp has real doubts by the call that has been made by us and by other networks. They do not believe that Ohio in in the Obama camp. I just got an email from a top Romney person. I asked, ‘Do you agree with our call?‘ He said ‘Not Really. It’s less than 20 percent of the vote still out in GOP areas.’”
”Rove said it was “premature” and “early” to make any real decisions.
“So, maybe not so fast, folks!” Wallace said. There was a pained silence.
“Uh, thank you!” Bret Baier said. “That’s awkward,” Megyn Kelly added.
“Baier then said that he would get someone from the network’s election desk to explain why it had made the call. Kelly walked across the office, cameras trailing her, to speak with the number-crunchers.
“The number-crunchers calmly repudiated Rove.
“We’re actually quite comfortable with the call in Ohio, one of them said. Another said he was “99.9 percent” certain that the president had been re-elected.
“There just aren’t enough Republican votes left for Mitt Romney to get there,” a fellow desk member added.
“Rove continued to contest the call. “They know the science!” Kelly responded, exasperatedly. It turned out that nobody was on Rove’s side.
“They’re not listening to Karl,” Kelly said with some finality, as she went to a break.
“The world reacted with stammering befuddlement.”
Rove, who embarrassed Fox News personalities who knew better, and who should have been fired, is still to this day a regular Fox political analyst.
But the truth is while he only embarrassed Fox colleagues and viewers, he is destroying the only faint hope Americans have of taking America back: The Tea Party who must get past Karl Rove before they can take on Obama.
Meanwhile Thomas B. Edsall’s article In Data We Trust should be the political Bible of the Conservative Tea Party—the only real conservatives in the Karl Rove Republican Party.
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Fri May 10, 2013 11:48 am
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At Ohio St. Obama showed that he does not understand the nature of this country, “Individual ambition” is the problem?
For a supposed Constitutional scholar Mr. Obama seems to lack a basic understanding of why we have the Constitution.
It is probably more likely that he actually does understand it but doesn’t like the nature of the document which fundamentally limits the power of the government over the people.
That’s why we have it. A group of colonists decided that they could think for themselves, that individuals who lacked noble birthright were capable, indeed could do a better job of running things than the established aristocracy. So they threw off the shackles of a king and enshrined the rights of the citizen to pursue his or her own ends in dignity.
What the Constitution absolutely did not provide for was a vision of a centralized government which seeks to achieve “great” ends at the expense of the individual. The kings of Europe had done that for a 1000 years. Wars were waged in the name of the greatness of the home country and were always paid for with the blood of the unlanded peasantry. Our founders specifically sought to limit the grandiose vision of the government. Individual ambition, the pursuit of happiness was and as far as I am concerned, is the very point of America.
But our president, the president of the United States, doesn’t believe this. ”Individual ambition” is the problem. This idea is in direct conflict with the very core of what America is. And again, this guy in the President.
(From The Wall Street Journal)
Mr. Obama’s vision. “The Founders left us the keys to a system of self-government,” he went on, “the tool to do big and important things together that we could not possibly do alone.” And what “big and important things” cannot be done except through government? On the president’s list are railroads, the electrical grid, highways, education, health care, charity and more. One imagines a historical vision reaching as far back as the New Deal. Americans “chose to do these things together,” he added, “because we know this country cannot accomplish great things if we pursue nothing greater than our own individual ambition.”
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How did Barack Obama become Monsanto’s man in Washington?
How did Barack Obama become Monsanto’s man in Washington?
By Jon Rappoport
April 29, 2013
And when are anti-GMO activist groups going to stop saying they’re “shocked and disappointed” by the president?
Shocked and disappointed is polite-speak and politically correct reaction. It’s baloney.
Don’t you get it? Obama has never been on your side. He never deserved your trust.
Disappointment implies he was your buddy and then unaccountably walked away.
The man is a politician. He’s a liar. Different pols have different styles of lying. Some pretend they’re your friend before they screw you over and leave you in the dust.
I’ve previously published Obama’s track record as Monsanto’s number-one political supporter in America.
Meet Monsanto’s prime lobbyist, Barack Obama:
After his victory in the 2008 election, Obama filled key posts with Monsanto people, in federal agencies that wield tremendous force in food issues, the USDA and the FDA:
At the USDA, as the director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Roger Beachy, former director of the Monsanto Danforth Center.
As deputy commissioner of the FDA, the new food-safety-issues czar, the infamous Michael Taylor, former vice-president for public policy for Monsanto. Taylor had been instrumental in getting approval for Monsanto’s genetically engineered bovine growth hormone.
As commissioner of the USDA, Iowa governor, Tom Vilsack. Vilsack had set up a national group, the Governors’ Biotechnology Partnership, and had been given a Governor of the Year Award by the Biotechnology Industry Organization, whose members include Monsanto.
As the new Agriculture Trade Representative, who would push GMOs for export, Islam Siddiqui, a former Monsanto lobbyist.
As the new counsel for the USDA, Ramona Romero, who had been corporate counsel for another biotech giant, DuPont.
As the new head of the USAID, Rajiv Shah, who had previously worked in key positions for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a major funder of GMO agriculture research.
We should also remember that Obama’s secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, once worked for the Rose law firm. That firm was counsel to Monsanto.
Obama nominated Elena Kagan to the US Supreme Court. Kagan, as federal solicitor general, had previously argued for Monsanto in the Monsanto v. Geertson seed case before the Supreme Court.
The deck was stacked. Obama hadn’t simply made honest mistakes. Obama hadn’t just failed to exercise proper oversight in selecting appointees. He was staking out territory on behalf of Monsanto and other GMO corporate giants.
And now let us look at what key Obama appointees have wrought for their true bosses. Let’s see what GMO crops have walked through the open door of the Obama presidency.
Monsanto GMO alfalfa.
Monsanto GMO sugar beets.
Monsanto GMO Bt soybean.
Coming soon: Monsanto’s GMO sweet corn.
Syngenta GMO corn for ethanol.
Syngenta GMO stacked corn.
Pioneer GMO soybean.
Syngenta GMO Bt cotton.
Bayer GMO cotton.
ATryn, an anti-clotting agent from the milk of transgenic goats.
A GMO papaya strain.
And soon, genetically engineered salmon and apples.
This is an extraordinary parade.
Obama was, all along, a stealth operative on behalf of Monsanto, biotech, GMOs, and corporate control of the future of agriculture.
He didn’t make that many key political appointments and allow that many new GMO crops to enter the food chain through a lack of oversight.
Nor is it coincidental that two of the Obama’s biggest supporters, Bill Gates and George Soros, purchased 900,000 and 500,000 shares of Monsanto, respectively, in 2010.
Records don’t show Monsanto or other biotech giants pouring a landslide of (visible) campaign cash down on Obama, relative to other large donors.
Goldman Sachs was Obama’s number-one $$ donor, and Goldman touts GM-crop commodity contracts, for both buys and sells; but Goldman has its fingers in every significant money pot from Nome to Tierra Del Fuego.
The “Obama riddle” is as plain as the nose on the face of Globalism. Monsanto’s agenda, to monopolize the world’s food supply, is essential to the Globalist blueprint. That blueprint ultimately aims for redistribution of food to the world from a point of Central Planning
As president, Obama has a sworn obligation to Globalism. His oath isn’t to protect the Constitution. Are you kidding?
Every recent president has had an overriding loyalty to Globalism.
Obama’s signing of the Monsanto Protection Act, making that corporation senior in power to the US court system, wasn’t an accident. It was taken in keen awareness of his duty to his Globalist betters.
You won’t, of course, see this disclosed on the evening news.
Here is a president who, like Bush, has no plans for a better world. Obama’s notion of “better” is tied up in the Globalist agenda:
An elite-run bureaucracy, promoting equality and justice, reduces all populations to a lowest common denominator, squashing freedom and prosperity.
Obama’s supporters will never learn the truth, because they’re blinded by the light, which they project on to the persona of the president.
Obama is aware of the con, since he triggered it, and he leverages it.
He’s all nudge-and-wink. “Yes, we’ll help you and you and you. Of course we will.”
He might help you if you make a declaration of dependence. Sacrifice yourself on an altar of despair and then you might earn the right to be fed.
Obama, while on the campaign trail in 2008, was promising transparency in government, was claiming that every person has the right to know what’s in his food (GMO labeling). But clearly, that was all cover and fluff. He was lying through his teeth and he knew it. He’d been vetted for the presidency, and he knew the job entailed joining Monsanto and the larger Globalist agenda as a front man.
He hasn’t changed over the past four years. He’s been a covert agent since the beginning.
Imposter. Charlatan. These words fit Obama. He’s pretended, like Clinton, to care, but he doesn’t. He doesn’t care that GMO food is taking over the country and the world. He wants it to happen. He’s always wanted it to happen.
The sitting president of the United States, Monsanto, DuPont, and Dow, among others, are prepared to do whatever is necessary to make GMO food dominate America.
They intend, through Monsanto-gene drift among millions of plants in ag fields, through increased planting of GMO crops, and through introduction of still more GMO crops, to wrap up the USA in genetically engineered food.
Obama is on board. He’s always been on board.
He is the GMO president.
If tomorrow, the Globalist Rockefellers of this world decided that all food grown in the US should be injected with Prozac, Obama would find a way to help.
Stop making excuses for the man. He’s not a victim of evil forces surrounding his presidency. He signed up for this trip with eyes wide open.
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Mon Apr 29, 2013 12:24 pm
View full post on opinions.caduceusx.com
April 27, 2013
The Deepwater Horizon Trial: A Headache for Obama?
By Bruce Thompson
Just over three years after the explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon, Halliburton has finally decided to face the music and increase its reserves for payment of civil damages by $1 billion.
Things did not go well for them in the seven weeks of testimony just concluded in federal court in New Orleans. They were caught hiding samples of the exact cement mixture that failed, which they had been ordered by the court to preserve. They had to admit that the cement formulation used "had a low probability of success."
With Halliburton now more amenable to seeking a settlement and willing to provide cold hard cash, the prospects go way up for a settlement before the decision of the court is announced in a few months. BP’s expert witnesses also scored some major points against the federal government and Transocean. So the inclination by most of the parties to sweep this unfortunate episode down the memory hole has presumably gotten much stronger.
Here is a summary of the strategic situation for those who might have been inclined to fight on. There are only three defendants left: BP, Transocean, and Halliburton.
After withstanding three years of accusations, BP has now put forth some impressive expert witnesses for the defense. The defense always goes last, and BP saved their best for last. BP had been forthright early on that it bore much of the responsibility and very prominently created a $20-billion compensation fund way back in 2010. BP’s people also put forth the Bly Report detailing their understanding of the causes of the blowout. Before the trial began, BP pled guilty to 14 criminal charges and the payment of a $4-billion fine, the "largest criminal payment in U.S. history." It seems that BP got the message early: oil spills are unacceptable.
Transocean was more reluctant to accept any of the blame, especially in light of the indemnity clause in their contract with BP to serve as the latter’s drilling contractor. But Transocean also eventually fessed up with a detailed report of their perspective on the causes of the blowout. They pled guilty to a single count of violating the Clean Water Act and agreed to pay the second-largest fine ever, $400 million, and accept 5 years on probation. "The company also said it had paid more than $140 million in salaries and benefits, medical benefits and legal settlements since the accident." While it is not apparent to those not in the know, those sympathetic widows and orphans you saw on TV got multi-million-dollar settlements, paid for by Transocean.
Until this week, Halliburton has been the last holdout among the defendants. Now that Halliburton’s people are actively looking for a settlement, the question becomes whether the plaintiffs are ready to make a final deal.
The primary plaintiff is the Department of Justice (DoJ). And judging by their bluster, one might be inclined to think they would battle for every dime in fines. But their position for the second phase of the trial is weak. Until now, the DoJ has been on offense. The second phase of the trial will deal with the subsea intervention and spill containment effort. That was run by the National Incident Command under Admiral Thad Allen, with input from the Scientific Advisory team under Steven Chu and the Flow Rate Technical Group under Marcia McNutt (with clear links all the way to the White House). Remember President Obama holding forth at a press conference about how he had, based on the advice of his daughter Malia, ordered everyone to plug the damn hole while he thought about the issue night and day?
If there is one overriding imperative at the Obama White House, it is to never get caught bearing direct responsibility for anything unpopular. And an oil spill that the administration itself has estimated at 5 million barrels is indeed very, very unpopular. The president’s reputation for "leading from behind" has become firmly established as the conventional wisdom. Forcing the defendants to go to trial in the intervention and containment stage would put the onus squarely on the White House. As such, it is exactly the kind of news that you will not find in the media. How many stories have you seen about Phase One of this trial? It is not as if there was nothing newsworthy.
Here are a few bullet points about the news that’s not fit to print in the New York Times.
The blowout preventer was capable of successfully shutting in the well — and would have done so, if not for the maintenance failures of Transocean in allowing an old, out-of-date battery to go dead in one control pod and having two relays mis-wired in the other. The relays were wired in opposite polarity rather than working together. A simple analogy would be to consider the effect on a flashlight if you installed one battery right-side-up and the other upside-down, rather than both being right-side-up. It won’t work. When the explosions cut off the electrical and hydraulic connections to the blowout preventer, its automatic "deadman" function should have closed the blind shear ram without human intervention and sealed in the well. If not for these two maintenance deficiencies, there would have been no spill at all from the wellhead.
A BP expert witness, Andrew Mitchell, made the point that master of the Deepwater Horizon saw drilling mud raining down on the deck of his ship several minutes before the explosions. On his bridge was a control panel for the Emergency Disconnect System with a prominent "big red button." Had he recognized that his ship was in deadly peril and pushed the button before the explosion, the signal would have traveled down those electrical connections to the blowout preventer to separate the riser (and consequently the ship) from the wellhead, and the automatic Autoshear function would have activated the blind shear ram and shut in the well. How should he have known that the situation was already out of control? Because the operation they were just finishing was intended to "displace the riser" with seawater. According to the plan, the top of the drilling mud in the well should have been at a depth of 8,367 feet, and the oil and gas should have been below the bottom of the shoe track at over 18,000 feet. In actuality, there was mud spewing out the top of the well, and the oil and gas were already above the blowout preventer at a depth of 5,000 feet. The mud was more than 8,000 feet higher than where it was supposed to be, and the oil and gas was over 13,000 feet above where they were supposed to be. Transocean was in charge of well control, and their men in the drill shack were unreactive until it was much too late. They paid for their inattention with their lives.
The blind shear ram (BSR) was capable of cutting the drill pipe centered within it until the traveling block failed about 25 minutes after the first explosion due to the extreme heat of the fire. When this support holding up the drill pipe failed, the pipe had been firmly clamped in place by the pipe ram below the blind shear ram. The pipe ram took the weight of the drill string above it acting downward under the force of gravity. Less than a second later, the traveling block impacted the top end of the drill pipe with a massive hammer blow. Any carpenter who has ever bent a nail understands what happened then: the drill pipe bent against the inside of the cavity within the blowout preventer. The pipe was way off-center, and the blind shear ram could no longer make a clean cut. When this function was finally activated by an intervention with a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV), mere hours before the rig sank on April 22, 2010, the BSR made a ragged cut and stopped short of the fully closed position. That caused it to leak until July 15, 2010. (See the full details here.)
There is plenty of blame to go around. Will the DoJ risk putting the government’s reputation on the line by persisting, or will they settle? If they do not choose to push this down the memory hole very soon, they will be facing the first criminal trials against BP employees Kurt Mix and David Rainey over the dispute about the size of the spill. BP has consistently argued that the government overestimated to flow. The DoJ tried to discredit these BP employees by bringing charges against them. Now Kurt Mix’s trial is due to start June 10, 2013. So the DoJ has only about seven weeks to make this go away before the tables get turned around. The spectacle of a BP employee being tried under criminal charges would be a media circus perfect for the 24/7 news cycle — except Mix’s attorney is loaded for bear!
The AP reports:
Mix’s lawyers also want copies of transcripts for the grand jury proceedings that produced a new indictment against their client on March 20. The new indictment added allegations that Mix deleted about 40 voicemails from a supervisor and roughly 15 voicemails from a BP contractor.
Stroz Friedberg LLC inspected Mix’s phone for the Justice Department but could recover only a handful of 346 voicemails that callers left between April 20, 2010 — the date of BP’s deadly Deepwater Horizon rig explosion — and Aug. 20, 2011.
Stroz Friedberg’s report demonstrates the farcical nature of the newly-minted allegation that Kurt Mix ‘corruptly’ deleted voicemails from his iPhone," Mix’s lawyers wrote. "Stroz Friedberg’s findings not only reveal a complete absence of evidence for the new voicemail-related allegations, but also illuminate the distinct possibility that the original and superseding indictments against Mix were the products of a structurally defective grand jury proceeding."
Mix’s attorneys accuse prosecutors of drafting the new indictment to imply "something nefarious" about the alleged voicemail deletions.
"The superseding indictment not only fails to mention that AT&T — and not Kurt Mix — might have been responsible for as many as 253 of the 346 voicemail deletions, but it also misleadingly suggests through use of the passive voice ("were deleted") that Kurt Mix was the culprit behind those deletions," they wrote.
So Obama faces a major dilemma: keep trying to collect big fines to fund the ravenous government maw, or announce a settlement late on a Friday afternoon and hope no one notices. The date of that Obama press conference, May 27, 2010, is not coincidentally exactly the same date on which Kurt Mix was busy trying to "plug the damn hole." It is the same day that the offshore drilling moratorium was written during the wee hours of the morning, while BP tried to stop the flow of oil until ordered to stop by Steven Chu. Does Obama really want the drilling moratorium back on the prime-time network news? He’ll get it, if he persists in trying to prosecute Kurt Mix.
There seems to be a lot of news that does not fit the administration/media template! But you can keep reading all about it here on The American Thinker.
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Sat Apr 27, 2013 2:18 pm
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April 25, 2013
Oh-oh! The Tsarnaev narrative looks worse and worse for Obama
The Obama administration and liberal policies look awfully bad in the face of the facts emerging about the Tsarnaev family’s insertion into the United States.
The Boston Herald yesterday broke the story of the family having received welfare, after inquiries with the state government:
On Tuesday, Massachusetts Health and Human Services spokesperson Alec Loftus confirmed to the Boston Herald that deceased Boston bombing ‘Suspect 1′ Tamerlan Tsarnaev received welfare benefits from the state until 2012:
State officials confirmed last night that Tsarnaev, slain in a raging gun battle with police last Friday, was receiving benefits along with his wife, Katherine Russell Tsarnaev, and their 3-year-old daughter. The state’s Executive Office of Health and Human Services said those benefits ended in 2012 when the couple stopped meeting income eligibility limits.
This is mighty inconvenient for the Food Stamp President who has overseen a vast increase in the number of people receiving government aid while subtracting millions from the workforce.
Even more inconvenient is the level of incompetence in responding to two notifications to two separate security organizations that Tamerlan Tsarnaev was worth keeping an eye on, and his ability to travel to a hotbed of terrorism. The fact that the administration prematurely announced that there were no larger connections, as more and more evidence mounts that their bomb was too sophisticated to pull off of the web, that Tamerlan received training overseas, that the brothers attended a mosque with radical ties, and that they somehow obtained financing for this activity while also receiving money from the taxpayers, suggests that our national security is in the hands of the Keystone Kops.
You can tell they are worried because Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick yesterday clamped down on further release of information on the Tsarnaevs’ helping themselves to money other people had to pay taxes for. Patrick is a long term friend and ally of Obama. Chris Cassidy, Laurel J. Sweet, Dave Wedge, Erin Smith and Richard Weir of the Boston Herald report:
The Patrick administration clamped down the lid yesterday on Herald requests for details of Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s government benefits, citing the dead terror mastermind’s right to privacy.
Across the board, state agencies flatly refused to provide information about the taxpayer-funded lifestyle for the 26-year-old man and his brother and accused accomplice Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19.
On EBT card status or spending, state welfare spokesman Alec Loftus would only say Tamerlan Tsarnaev, his wife and 3-year-old daughter received benefits that ended in 2012. He declined further comment.
On unemployment compensation, labor department spokesman Kevin Franck refused to say… (snip)
On Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s college aid, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth spokesman Robert Connolly said, "It is our position – and I believe the accepted position in higher education – that student records including academic records and financial records (including financial aid) cannot under federal law be released without a student’s consent."
On cellphones, the Federal Communications Commission would not say whether either brother had a government-paid cellphone, also citing privacy laws.
On housing, Cambridge officials and the family’s landlord ducked questions on whether the brothers were ever on Section 8 assistance.
When you consider the amount of aid this clan could have collected, it could come to more than many families have to spend after taxes. Many immigrant communities, not just Russians, have help available for members to maximize their receipt of benefits, and it would not be surprising if the Tsarnaevs were relatively sophisticated in their abilities to milk the taxpayers for all they are worth.
Politically most inconvenient for Obama is that immigration was supposed to be the great wedge issue upon which to fracture the Republicans, add 11 million Democrats to the voter rolls, and solidify progressive control of America forever. Now we have an example of the dire consequences of letting just anyone at all into the country and being as compassionate toward them (as the liberals see it) as we were to the Tsarnaev clan.
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Thu Apr 25, 2013 1:59 pm
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