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Leadership, the Gulf, and Obama

President Obama addressed the nation on the Gulf crisis. We look at the speech and American priorities with top thinkers.

President Barack Obama after delivering a televised address from the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, June 15, 2010. (AP)

It wasn’t Ronald Reagan in the Oval Office this time, talking about the Challenger disaster. Or Bill Clinton on the economy. Or George W. Bush on 9/11. 

It was President Barack Obama, in the familiar setting, talking about an environmental catastrophe that he put in terms of assault and war. 

On the 57th day of the Gulf oil spill, in the first Oval Office address of his presidency, Obama was speaking to the immediate, enormous challenge in the Gulf, and to the country’s long-term energy future. 

This Hour, On Point: leadership and the nation in the Gulf oil crisis.


Douglas Brinkley, professor of history at Rice University. His books include “The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America” and “The Great Deluge: Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, and the Mississippi Gulf Coast.”

Naomi Klein, bestselling author and columnist for the Guardian and The Nation. She’s author of “No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies” (just reissued for its 10th anniversary) and “The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism.” She has been reporting from the Gulf on how the oil spill is affecting people and the environment.

Julia Reed, author of “The House on First Street: My New Orleans Story” and “Queen of the Turtle Derby and Other Southern Phenomenon.” She was born in Mississippi and lives in New Orleans.


Bystanders greet the President's motorcade in Florida this week. (AP)

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  • roger

    the rhetoric from last night’s speech was fine but hope president obama follows through and hammers bp. these corporate oligarchs will not change without feeling intense $pain that only a tuff-daddy obama can bring. if bp doesn’t like it they can forfeit their drilling leases, pack up and go home. good riddance!

    one question for your panel, how much in coporate US taxes did the culpable trio pay last year?

  • roger

    i’m thinking little to none.

  • cory

    Potentially a very important moment in world history.

    Can people and their representative government tell a business how it is going to be? Will we just fall back into line as we always have and say “yes sir, how high sir?” to private business?

    I’ve always said that people have the ability and the right to shape the future and their society as they wish. It is coming time to choose between governance of, by, and for the people or some sort of worldwide capitalist plutocracy.

    Prediction: Fear will rule the day and we will choose Plutocracy… Again.

  • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

    I remain (by a thread) a supporter of President Obama but I found his speech last night lacking. I don’t expect him to plug the leak but I do expect him to lead and he sounded defensive last night.

    I find it amazing that with unemployment being what it is he doesn’t put people to work cleaning beaches, building sandbar barriers, and doing whatever the people in the Gulf need. In almost every interview with local people in the Gulf shown on TV they talk about no apparent plan, no organization, and frustration with both BP and the Federal Government.

    Watch John Young, chairman, Jefferson Parish Council on last Night’s NewsHour:


    Putting all the blame on BP is a mistake. Remember, it was the Federal Government who okayed BP’s drilling plan. Congress looks like fools lecturing BP, Transocean, and Haliburton execs who are no doubt guilty but hey, it was those very Congress people who sat by and let this happen.

    The entire thing is a mess, from the lack of regulation to the lack of drilling safeguards to the response by both BP and the Federal Government. And to pay for it we will go into even more debt because it will take years for the Feds to squeeze the money out of BP.

    I wanted to feel inspired by Obama’s speech last night but instead I came away depressed.

  • Janet

    “This morning the President announced that the Congress and he will lead by example. He will ruduce his flights on Air Force One by 50 percent. The Congress will give up their black Yukon SUV’s and take the bus. The Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, will give up the Gulfstream V government jet and fly on commercial airlines. Additionally, by declare that the Cape Wind Project will start construction today”.

    Now that is leading by example, which of course did not and will not happen.

  • informed American

    I do not equate President Obama with leadership.

  • Liza

    Does Michael Bromwich need to be confirmed by the Senate before becoming director of the Minerals Management Service? I always get confused between appointments that need confirmation and those that don’t. With the ability of a single senator to put a “secret hold” on any nomination by anonymously threatening a “filibuster”, I think it’s time to bring back the READ filibuster, when people had to stand up, be seen, and actually keep talking!

  • Jim Fowler

    Words and speeches mean nothing. Trust only action. Do as I say, not as I do is the philosophy of the statist.

    In 2005, Exxon Mobil, ConocoPhillips, and Chevron reported corporate gross earnings of $108.2 billion.

    It is important to remember that net income reported on financial statements, is the result of subtracting income-based taxes from corporate gross earnings. Before shareholders receive a return on their investment, the government takes its significant share off the top.

    During 2005, these three companies paid a combined corporate income tax burden of $44.3 billion on their reported gross earnings. In addition to corporate income taxes, the same companies paid or remitted over $114.5 billion in other taxes in 2005, including franchise, payroll, property, severance and excise taxes.

    But remember, corporations do not really pay taxes. They either raise prices, lower dividends, or lower wages to raise the revenue to pay taxes.

  • cory

    On Point Producers (censors),

    If informed American is allowed to repeat the same nonsensical “failed Obama presidency” comment day after day, then I should be able to point out that fact and shower it with ridicule without it being deleted by you.

    Pointing out the silly repetitiveness of a particular posters comments does not violate the standards of brevity, civility, or relevance. It certainly is not an ad hominem attack.

    I will argue that informed American violates the “unduly repetitive” clause that YOU provide above every day. And since I need to read this tripe every day I will assume you are not deleting it.

    I can call a post moronic without calling the poster a moron. Thank You.

  • peter nelson

    Jim Fowler writes:
    In 2005, Exxon Mobil, ConocoPhillips, and Chevron reported corporate gross earnings of $108.2 billion.

    During 2005, these three companies paid a combined corporate income tax burden of $44.3 billion on their reported gross earnings. In addition to corporate income taxes, the same companies paid or remitted over $114.5 billion in other taxes in 2005, including franchise, payroll, property, severance and excise taxes.

    What is your point? That they’re so rich that they must be right/smart/virtuous? Or that they’ve paid so much money to the government that the government should do whatever they say?

    Did you see the hearings yesterday? Five photocopied disaster plans, plus the walruses cut-and-pasted into the Gulf of Mexico from the Exxon Valdez disaster?

    What do YOU think we should do?

  • http://www.onpointradio.org/about-on-point/john-wihbey John Wihbey

    Thanks, Cory, for your participation here. We’re trying to foster a healthy dialogue among the online community members, and it takes a good deal of time and effort to monitor this very wide-open space. We take pride in the fact that we have such an active group of people who take issues and ideas seriously. Yes, we do have to make judgment calls — but that’s what the community wants, and what we feel is appropriate stewardship of public space. We’re not always perfect, but we’re trying our best. I hope you’ll continue to help us generate interesting conversation.
    -John, producer

  • Kevin Carlise

    I believe that Jim Fowler was attempting to respond to the question raised by Roger (first post) about the amount of US taxes paid by three oil industry members. Jim apparently could not find the 2009 taxes paid. Sometimes the writing has no particular point, but is merely relating some facts. Everything is not adversarial in nature. Some of the writers here are wound very tight. Thanks Jim F.

    Obama has a very tough job.

    RASMUSSEN Reports at 9:30AM ET:

    Obama Approval Falls to New Low: 42%
    Obama Approval Index: -20
    Strongly Approve 24%
    Strongly Disapprove 44%
    Total Approval 42%

  • http://www.lit.org/author/fritzwilliam F. William Bracy

    The problem is endemic to the species that we’ve evolved into. That’s the problem. Oil is a naturally occurring substance — a resource of this crusty planet — that will not be going away until Man has drilled his way down through the last mile in search of it. The day that oil ceases to be a staple of human consumption will be the day that oil runs out … the last drop … the day of oil’s disappearance from the earth.

    Alternatives such as Hydrogen stare us in the face. It carries the Atomic Number “1″ and just happens to be the most abundant element in the universe. It’s combustible as well. (So okay, its energy yield isn’t as high as petrol, but it’ll do just fine after the human has exhausted all other sources.)

    To those (or that) which designed this little blue planet for intelligent life to live on, let me apologize for all of mankind and say that I’m sorry. It’s not your fault. Something has gone wrong, but I’m sure it was unforeseeable. You gave us rational thinking but it has turned irrational. You gave us logic but we prefer superstition. You gave us quiet reflection but we prefer chaos. I’m sure none of this could be predicted. It’s our bad. Perhaps you’ll gain from our experience and in the end, be able to improve on your optimization algorithms for future designs.

  • peter nelson

    Liberals want to see a tax on oil to raise its price and encourage alternative energy development. This would reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and so reduce the risk of incidents like the BP spill. Conservatives oppose tax increases.

    I have an alternative that should satisfy both sides. As an investor I know that commodity prices reflect supply risk. When a deep freeze threatens the south orange juice prices rise, for example.

    The US taxpayer has been systematically REDUCING supply risk to oil by propping up unstable, undemocratic countries, who supply much of our oil. This is costing us hundreds of billions of dollars and artificially reducing the price of oil as well as committing our military to bad places.

    The US should simply announce that it is no longer going to follow a policy of propping up those countries. The would result in a tax reduction, (due to our decreased military commitments) which should make the conservatives happy, and since oil prices would rise to reflect supply risk it would encourage conservation and alternative energy development.

  • peter nelson

    I believe that Jim Fowler was attempting to respond to the question raised by Roger (first post) about the amount of US taxes paid by three oil industry members. Jim apparently could not find the 2009 taxes paid. Sometimes the writing has no particular point, but is merely relating some facts.

    It’s a matter of longstanding internet convention that if someone is responding to a prior post in a comment forum, that they quote or reference it in their remarks. (as I’ve done above, and always do) On an active forum multiple other posts may appear between your post and the one you’re responding to, so all context is lost unless you supply it.

  • Brett

    Looks like “statist” is new conservative catch phrase replacing “socialist.”


    To those who think President Obama shouldn’t be discussing energy alternatives during his speech on the Gulf Oil Spill, here’s a point to ponder:

    The amount of oil/gas that has spilled and is fouling the coast lines, estuaries,and beaches is equal to 4 hours of power using fossil fuels for the US.


  • informed American

    On Point Producers:
    Thank you for producing and presenting the best and most informative news/talk show on the radio or the web.

  • JP

    I’m usually quick to defend President Obama on many fronts, and quick to criticize typical mindless Republican blather and hypocrisy…

    That said, President Obama is being advised stupidly on PR and strategy concerning the oil spew, and he himself is not exhibiting much here in the way of smarts.

    I will reiterate a past post:

    “There has never been any real possibility of mitigating the disastrous effects of the spew, short of stopping it right at the mouth of the drill bore.
    We have, as yet, seen only the beginning of the devastation.
    This spew will eventually reach all of Florida’s beaches, perhaps Texas, Mexico, Cuba and innumerable Caribbean islands… then it will start making its way up the eastern seaboard. I wouldn’t be the least surprised if Great Britain ultimately finds its shores soiled as oil within the Gulf stream ultimately reaches acroos the Atlantic.
    In a year or two, we’ll begin to see documentaries on PBS, Discovery, and TLC showing the long-term effects of the spill on wildlife and ecossytems throughout the Atlantic region: from gulf estuaries, marshlands and mangrove swamps to caribbean coral reefs to the ocean depths.
    Some species will likely go extinct, while others will be added to the endangered species list… all attributed to the oil spew.
    We’ll also see documentaries and news hours devoted to the economic devastation the spew will have caused.
    A couple of weeks after the spew began, NBC took a moronically premature poll of the number of Americans still in favor of offshore drilling… that number has changed significantly as we begin to see the scope of this catastrophe.
    Wait a year or two to see the toll this disaster will REALLY take on the public’s perception of offshore drilling.”

    President Obama is obviously being advised to promise absurd miracles regarding the oil spew, and none of them can be kept.
    Undoubtedly he is being advised stupidly to improve Democratic numbers in an election year, but this type of idiotic advice has back-fired on him before… remember “the stimulus should keep unemployment under 10%?” … another ill-advised stupidity.

    On both counts, President Obama should have simply acknowledged the horridness of the situation, and fervently placed blame where it belongs: on past Republican stupidity and Republican policies of deregulation.

    Whoever is advising the President on his PR strategy needs to get the boot, as do his main policy advisors regarding the oil spew.

    I would also like to say again that the berms are an extremely ignorant idea.

    The simple fact is the berms and their construction process will severely damage natural barriers to beach erosion, will interfere with natural tidal processes, and are such a shoddy solution that they will be wiped out by the first significant storm that comes their way.

    In several months, story after story will start coming out about how the berms have done far more harm than good.

    I don’t know why prominent scientists aren’t coming out hard against some of these moronic policies, but they and the media are going to fail us yet again by waiting until it’s too late rather than pre-emptively.

  • peter nelson

    Alternatives such as Hydrogen stare us in the face.

    Hydrogen is not an alternative to oil. Oil is an energy source it its natural form. It represent eons of collected and stored solar energy thanks to all the plants that decomposed to make it. You can take the oil out of the ground and burn it.

    Hydrogen is simply a storage and transportation medium for energy. It’s like a uncharged battery or an empty can of gas. Unlike oil it’s not a source of energy.

    In the last few decades there have been billions and billions of dollars spent worldwide, both by corporations and governments around the world trying to figure out a practical, safe, cost effective way to utilize hydrogen to store and transport energy. They have a very long way to go. Here’s a discussion of current hydrogen pilot projects on Wikipedia:


    I think the jury is still out about whether hydrogen will ever prove to be practical.

  • Janet

    I wish Tom would have a few successful leaders that were faced with serious leadership challenges. People like Jack Welch, Rudy Giuliani, General H. Norman Schwarzkopf all displayed very good leadership in tough situations.

  • Violet Winnagle

    The word “statist” is not a “catch phrase.” The word “statist” is a word, not a phrase.

    Statism is the concentration of all economic controls and planning in the hands of a highly centralized government.

    Socialism is advocating or aiming at collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and control of the distribution of goods.

    The definitions of these words are not the same, despite any dishonest attempt to equate them. It is corrupt and a distortion to claim that a statist is a socialist. Statism is not the same as socialism.

  • http://www.lit.org/author/fritzwilliam F. William Bracy

    Rich conservatives don’t pay taxes to begin with, Mr. Nelson, so it won’t make them any happier than they are now. As for reducing the size of our military by “getting out” of our colonialist ways, this is also one of your false solutions. Nothing could make the conservatives less happy than to abandon nation building around the world, ending our ability to plunder the earth for its riches while kicking the struggling serfs in the gut. This is our Manifest Destiny, Mr. Nelson. I’m sure you’ve heard of it. It’s written on the faces of conservatives everywhere.

    You’re an intelligent person. You know as well as anyone in the “It’s All About Me Generation” that it’s not nice to try to thwart Mother Nature.

  • Rick

    Check out Maureen Dowd’s editorial in today’s New York Times. She faults Obama (yet again) for being too cerebral and “unable to understand things on a visceral level”, apparently because he doesn’t say things like “Evil Empire”, “Axis of Evil”, “Bring it on!” and “Mission Accomplished” enough. Perhaps we’ll fare better in the long run with president who does NOT reflexively resort to such shallow B-movie rhetoric. It’s kind of refreshing to have a President who thinks with his CEREBRAL cortex rather than his adrenal glands!

  • jeffe

    cory ignore the peanut gallery occupants like uninformed American. I know it can sometimes be difficult as the posts are always the same and are more or less copy and pasted from Glenn Becks web site. Or at least they seem to be. I surprised these rubes have not started to blame the World Cup for the demise of American exceptionalism. I kid you not, for some reason soccer (football to most in the world) is now the being criticized b right wing media. http://mediamatters.org/research/201006110040

    Here’s a thought, if Obama is a socialist then does that mean Bush was a fascist.

    I did not like Bush and would never vote for him, even for dog catcher, but he’s no fascist anymore than Obama is a socialist.

    Oh boy, Naomi Klein. Not again, the last time she was on I had to turn it off. She can be pretty obnoxious.

  • jeffe

    The definitions of these words are not the same, despite any dishonest attempt to equate them. It is corrupt and a distortion to claim that a statist is a socialist. Statism is not the same as socialism.

    Thank you Violet Winnagle for clearing that up.

    Obama is neither and I would add that America is a corporatist country. They rule the roost.

  • Edward Burke

    Question and comments:

    1) When does Obama fire Salazar?

    2) As an amateur lexicographer, I have heretofore defined “Talk” as “the movement of tongue and jaw that precedes inaction”. On Day 58–not of “Obama’s Katrina”, not “Obama’s 9/11″ but of “Obama’s Oil Blowout”–I am thinking that gumflapping of that variety can just as well FOLLOW inaction . . . .

    Obama was content to treat this as “just an industrial accident” through almost the entirety of the first two weeks of the disaster; he did not begin to marshal, did not begin to coordinate a wider Federal response until well into the second week, and even then the response was tepid. His Administration has backpedaled and understated the dimensions of the spill for WEEKS now, and he missed his golden opportunity last night to inform the American public and the residents of the Gulf that this disaster will take DECADES to recover from, that HUNDREDS and THOUSANDS of Gulf residents will be losing jobs and livelihoods . . . in no small part due to the ineptitude of Ken Salazar’s “leadership” of the Department of the Interior.

  • peter nelson

    JP says: The simple fact is the berms and their construction process will severely damage natural barriers to beach erosion, will interfere with natural tidal processes, and are such a shoddy solution that they will be wiped out by the first significant storm that comes their way.

    These aren’t “simple facts”. The journal Science has an article about the berms in the June 4 issue, where they expressed considerable skepticism about berms but conceded that no one knows for sure and building a few berms might settle some of the debates.

    In a way, this illustrates the answer to your other question:

    I don’t know why prominent scientists aren’t coming out hard against some of these moronic policies

    People prefer things to be black and white, or as you put it, “simple facts”. Facts are not simple and scientists talk themselves into exhaustion trying to explain the complexities of things to a public whose understanding of science is abysmal. The average American who picked up a copy of the journal Science would think he was reading Martian!

    The most boneheaded thing the conservatives have ever done is their recent attacks on science. Across disciplines – evolutionary biology, astrophysics, neuroscience, geology, quantum physics, climate science, not to mention science education and funding, conservatives have been attacking scientists so much that they feel under siege. The AAAS and other professional organizations have been encouraging their members to speak to the public and not just hide away in their labs, but that’s not what most scientists are trained or inclined to do. Debates with other scientists can proceed on the assumption that both sides are intelligent and have facts and data to support their view. But nothing in a scientists experience prepares him to debate with Sarah Palin or Sean Hannity.

  • Janet

    So never question science or scientists? No matter what they say? never look at who is funding their research?

  • JohnP

    I keep hearing that Obama brought together a group of experts from day one, but I have yet to hear anything that they did other than sit around a table playing poker.

  • JP


    Look again carefully and thoughtfully at each point I made after stating “the simple fact is…”

    Each point is indeed, a simple fact.

    Whether or not one thinks the berms may do some kind of good, temporarily or long-term, may be arguable, but the points I made are, indeed, simple facts.

  • http://www.lit.org/author/fritzwilliam F. William Bracy

    As for Hydrogen not being an energy source, we’ve had this discussion before. You’re not the only person who posts here who has an engineering background, Mr. Nelson. I’ve pointed out to you already that buses in Europe have been Hydrogen powered for almost as long as there have been buses. There are several Chevrolet Malibus running around here on the South Central coast of California with the words, “Hydrogen Powered” burnished into the paint. It’s a beginning, Mr. Nelson. It won’t be to your liking, but it’s coming. Initial designs are rarely the final. Give it some time.

    Remember your intransigence on the subject. You are closer than ever to realizing that you are part of the problem and really have nothing to add to the solution.

  • JohnP

    At one point scientists said the earth was flat. Should we have never questioned their “bad science”.

    Any scientiest will tell you that “Man made global warming” is a theory not a scientific fact!

  • peter nelson

    Statism is the concentration of all economic controls and planning in the hands of a highly centralized government.

    Socialism is advocating or aiming at collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and control of the distribution of goods.

    The definitions of these words are not the same, despite any dishonest attempt to equate them.

    There’s an awful lot of overlap in your definitions. In both cases they are based on the assumption that the state knows best. Who are some political leaders you feel illustrate the practical differences?

  • Ellen Dibble

    Jim Fowler posted: “In 2005, Exxon Mobil, ConocoPhillips, and Chevron reported corporate gross earnings of $108.2 billion… During 2005, these three companies paid a combined corporate income tax burden of $44.3 billion on their reported gross earnings. In addition to corporate income taxes, the same companies paid or remitted over $114.5 billion in other taxes in 2005, including franchise, payroll, property, severance and excise taxes.” So they paid 50 percent more in taxes than they earned? Sorry, I’m going pretty quick in my reading but that seems squishy.
    I refer you to Johan Galtung (Democracy Now! yesterday’s program) and his book “The Fall of the U.S. Empire. He’s the peace studies person. He says we should give up the pipeline across Afghanistan; it isn’t worth it. And we should recognize that not Afghanistan nor even bin Laden is the root of 9/11; it is the intrusion of infidels into Saudi Arabia (Saudi perpetrators, all but a few), and specifically an April 1945 treaty with Saudi Arabia signed by FDR 4/12/45 very shortly before his death, deeply offensive to Saudis. (However, they will grit their teeth and take our money for oil.) We should own up that this was an affront, a mistake.
    I haven’t checked out that treaty exactly, but this old geezer has a vision of the future for the USA, and it does not include being an international bully, by the State Dept. and by the military, all for the sake of oil.

  • JohnP

    Peter Nelson,

    Excelent point and well made!

  • JohnP


    Obama Approval Falls to New Low: 42%
    Obama Approval Index: -20
    Strongly Approve 24%
    Strongly Disapprove 44%
    Total Approval 42%

    Obama has lost touch with the people several months ago when he forced health care on us with no transparency.

    I don’t see how he can regain the trust of the majority of the American people.

  • Ellen Dibble

    It has been pointed out that Jimmy Carter in the Oval Office made the same points about America graduating from oil to renewables. Then the price of oil went down. You have to be awfully naive not to think OPEC and the rest of the industry didn’t engineer the lowering of price.
    And voila — we started buying even LARGER gas-guzzlers, oil being cheap once again.
    It suggests the forces AGAINST shrinking our demand.
    Demand — supply.
    A gas-tax-type approach would have to overcome the reduction of prices the industry would counter with.
    I see how tough it is to organize a response when wind and tide shift oil, surface and from deeper, from this state to that state, from this beach to that.
    I want to see an army of young people organized and deployed. This takes energy.

  • Jim

    We as a nation need to focus our anger and frustration on the company, that to date, cares more about lapping up their precious oil than they do about what they have done and continue to do. They have done nothing to actually stop the flow, only collect it. Their priorities are and will continue to be, profits above all else. We shift our concentration from the actual problem to what the president says. We focus more on how he is handling the situation. It is BP’s mess to clean up. They refuse to. Focus.

  • Ellen Dibble

    The president speaking of capturing 90 percent by the end of June — I had listened to all the news I could, and it seems to me he means that WHAT IS COMING UP will be 90 percent captured by a snaky hose of some sort, AS IT COMES UP. This is not the same as having captured 90 percent of what is already floating around down there.

  • JP

    Republicans and Rasmussen… what a joke!

    Try looking at Republican numbers compared to either the President OR Dems in pretty much EVERY non-partisan poll.

    … that should sober you up a bit.

  • Michael

    listening to your guest are hard on the ears, talk about whinning and no plan. Guess i’m listening to pandora today if these are the only ones.

  • peter nelson

    The simple fact is the berms and their construction process will severely damage natural barriers to beach erosion, will interfere with natural tidal processes, and are such a shoddy solution that they will be wiped out by the first significant storm that comes their way

    Look again carefully and thoughtfully at each point I made after stating “the simple fact is…”

    Each point is indeed, a simple fact.

    No, it’s a simple opinion. As the article in Science pointed out, it is widely believed that those are risks but the article made it clear there is some room for doubt, based on the fact that it hasn’t been tried before. The words used in the article are that scientists are “dubious” and “skeptical”. One scientist (Gregory Stone at LSU) was quoted as saying “we don’t have any idea what the impact might be”. By calling these conclusions “facts” you’re stripping the nuance from a complex issue.

    By way of comparison, the same magazine does articles on climate change all the time and that dubiousness and skepticism is not present because that issue is settled, at least in the scientific community.

  • AJ

    Americans WATCH TOO MUCH TV!!! Americans want President Obama to LOOK a certain way, to LOOK a PARTICULAR kind of angry. He is certainly taking in information about WHAT TO DO as well as WHAT NOT TO DO, in an extremely ACTIVE way.

    He can’t just send out volunteers or deputize people all over the Gulf region BECAUSE without proper safety equipment people exposed to the oil toxins could get sick, short-term or long-term.


    On another topic: “Obama FAIL to take on these interests” one guest said???!!! He is the FIRST president to TAKE ON THESE INTERESTS!

  • Jim

    Obama has not failed. We the people have failed through our apathy, lethargy and mindless consumerism. We fight amongst ourselves over petty political schisms and have let the corporations run amok.

  • Jan Conroy


    Robert Reich wrote today: “Americans can feel robber barons making off with the country, but the president failed to tell it like it is”

    I agree. Reich continued “The top executives of powerful corporations are pursuing profits in ways that menace the nation. We have not seen the likes not since the late nineteenth century when the “robber barons” of finance, oil, and the giant trusts ran roughshod over America. Now, as then, they are using their wealth and influence to buy off legislators and intimidate the regions that depend on them for jobs. Now, as then, they are threatening the safety and security of our people.”

    I worked and voted for Barack Obama. I believed, naively, that getting a Democrat in the White House would make things (after eight years of Bush) better. Now I believe it is not about Republicans or Democrats. It is about corporations vs the rest of us. As Reich wrote, the “robber barons [are] making off with the country.”

  • Ellen Dibble

    Charlie Rose had a great round table last night on the oil spill and the speech. He had an ex-Shell Oil executive who is now with the Organization for Affordable Energy (something like that). I was shocked/shocked when he said we need to be using clean coal and nuclear energy, that sun and wind are tiny by comparison. Well, I’m looking outside and there are photons all over the place. I feel the air. There is moving air all over the place. There are the pressure of waves pushing (energy to be seized). There is geothermal energy that can cool and heat much of new construction.
    The Shell Oil ex is not so helpful. We need an affordable oil organization that has a broader view. And maybe the first step is to take the word “affordable” and reconsider. Make BP pay for the additional tax or cost that is needed to redirect our um energy — resources. Then get BP to sell renewable energy. Their ads say they are moving in that direction. They should be made to move with all their profits not to drill-baby but into batteries etc.

  • Marisa Coutts

    Letters to the Editor | THE INDEPENDENT | June 15, 2010:

    SIR – Before lashing out, Mr Obama would do well to consider the huge economic and fiscal benefits that pioneering companies such as BP have brought, not just to Britain and the United States, but to Western economies in general. Tax revenues flow in to fund his social policies in good times and in bad.

    Craig Heeley
    Badminton, Gloucestershire

    SIR – … … the Amoco (“American Oil Company”) Cadiz disaster in 1978 when 220,000 tons (1.6 million barrels) of oil were deposited on the French coast in one fell swoop.

    The costs of this spill were estimated to be $250 million in damage to fisheries and tourist amenities.

    It took the French 12 years to get any money from the Americans for this. Even then, they only got $120 million.

    John Newbury
    Warminster, Wiltshire

    SIR – Who gave BP licence to drill in the Gulf? Americans. Who taxes BP on the oil it recovers? Americans. Who uses the oil that BP recovers? Americans. Who made the equipment that failed? Americans. Who owns 40 per cent of BP? Americans. Yet somehow it’s all our fault.

    J. B. Cronin
    Chelmsford, Essex

  • one vote only

    In response to Jeffe, of course America is a “corporatist” country. This is what the electorate has asked for since Reagan convinced us that we should get governemtn off the backs of business. So why do we even expect government to be doing anything? It is the market’s job to correct. But of course it can not here.

    Until we realize our premises are faulty, we will not solve the problem

  • Seth

    Why have their been no proposals for a new Conservation Corps? This would do three things at once – help with the cleanup, and show the country that the federal government is doing everything it can (at least help with the image), and help the economy in the gulf region. Why not fund this through BP, but administered through the interior department? People want to see action. Even if this wouldn’t have a massive impact in the cleanup effort it would help the country feel better, and give many Americans a chance to try to help.

  • Matt

    Speaking to Tom Ashbrook,

    Your commentators and topic appears quite shallow. Where’s the content. Your discussing how he looked on TV and the general history of this crisis. Why not dive into the discussion by tackling the hard question. The one proposed by the president. Getting both sides of the isle to propose solutions. Use this opportunity to spur action and ideas and hold people accountable. So I’m not a hypocrite, here’s one. What are our national laboratories doing to solve this crisis?

  • JohnP

    Your guests speaking of all of the locations that they think we should not drill are the cause of the spill. We should allow the companies to drill in more locations on land so they don’t have to go off shore.

  • jeffe

    At one point scientists said the earth was flat. Should we have never questioned their “bad science”.

    Any scientiest will tell you that “Man made global warming” is a theory not a scientific fact!
    Posted by JohnP

    Well John a few things here in your post need to be addressed. First off when people thought the world was flat there were no scientist, not in context to the modern definition of “scientist”.

    Pythagoras in the 6th century BC, apparently on aesthetic grounds, held that all the celestial bodies were spherical.

    It was reported that Pythagoras reasoned from the perpetual round shape of lunar eclipses that the Earth could neither be flat nor cylindrical, but only spherical.

    Hermannus Contractus (1013–1054) was among the earliest Christian scholars to estimate the circumference of Earth with Eratosthenes’ method. Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274), the most important and widely taught theologian of the Middle Ages, believed in a spherical Earth; and he even took for granted his readers also knew the Earth is round

    From: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flat_Earth

    Questioned the “bad science”? Can you elaborate on who would be questioning the bad science in the 13th century, given that the majority of people were illiterate?

    Then we get to Copernicus (19 February 1473 – 24 May 1543) of whom you seem to have little or no knowledge of.


  • Ellen Dibble

    I think the oil companies pay the Democrats more than Republicans in campaign contributions because it takes more money to bring the Democrats over to their side.
    And as to haz-mat equipment necessary before mobilizing clean-up people, well, like the Jones Act and shiplessness, isn’t this the time to buy up the global supply of haz-mat suits? Maybe not in one day, but this is a years-long struggle. By the time the spill gets to Massachusetts, maybe there will be enough protection available, and a strategy for making sure that if some individual is not doing well with the exposure to fumes, then get them right out of there.

  • Peggy Sapphire

    President Obama’s hostage, as are all of we, to the oil corporatocracy, which long ago abandoned their responsibilities to environmental protection in favor of profit protection.
    Obama’s speech last night left me wanting. There’s a life-style/environmental crisis revolution at hand (actually preceded April 20′s/BP travesty)& what we need is a revolutionary call to “environmental arms”.
    We are beseiged by economic faltering, by 2 bankrupting wars and the accompanying loss of lives.
    This is not just about money&cost covering…the permanent damages are the irreconcilable loss of a fragile and irreplacable environment. Obama did not deal with that reality, and seems to want us to think we can “do this”. No we can’t. ‘Pristine’ doesn’t happen twice.

  • JP


    you’re not using your purported vast reservoir of scientific and engineering knowledge here.

    1st point:
    “…the berms and their construction process will severely damage natural barriers to beach erosion…”

    There is simply no way any one with any sense whatever can argue against this point. Heavy machinery dredging millions of tons of sand will tear into grasses and any other flora that are natural barriers to erosion; naturally occurring sand and berm patterns, which act to prevent erosion, will be destroyed in favor of artificial berm patterns… again, this is destroying a “NATURAL” barrier to erosion.

    2nd point:
    “… will interfere with natural tidal processes…”

    This has already been studied and is accepted as fact, depending on how intrusive the artificial berms are. In this case, the berms will be constructed to effectively keep ALL OIL OUT! That goal cannot be accomplished without preventing natural tidal processes, which themselves would move the oil if they were allowed to proceed uninhibited.

    3rd point:
    “…are such a shoddy solution that they will be wiped out by the first significant storm that comes their way…”

    Okay, I’ll admit I should add ONE word here:

    “…are such a shoddy solution that they will ‘LIKELY’ be wiped out by the first significant storm that comes their way…”

    I believe you do have a scientific background equivalent or likely better than mine, Peter, but you are wrong to argue against these points as being “simple facts.”

    I still offer you a way out by suggesting you meant to argue that “whether or not one thinks the berms may do some kind of good, temporarily or long-term, may be arguable.”

    I’ll leave this debate there, respond if you care to.

  • JohnP

    Scientific fact should not be questioned but scientific theory has to be questioned in order to either prove it to be fact or discredit the theory!

    Questioning theory is more scientific than hiding data research is based off of and limiting or shutting down discussions about a theory.

  • peter nelson

    I’ve pointed out to you already that buses in Europe have been Hydrogen powered for almost as long as there have been buses. There are several Chevrolet Malibus running around here on the South Central coast of California with the words, “Hydrogen Powered” burnished into the paint. It’s a beginning, Mr. Nelson.

    The fact that they’ve been around so long is exactly my point. People have been tinkering with hydrogen for decades now and literally billions of dollars have been spent on research and subsidizing pilot programs and I’m not seeing a lot of progress. What would you cite as evidence that some real momentum is building?

    We were tinkering with hydrogen when I was in college in the 1970′s. At the same time people were tinkering with photovoltaics. Now there are many big photovoltaic manufacturers large enough to be listed on major stock exchanges. (so many infact that we’re due for a shakeout) and hundreds of residences and businesses go PV every day. Last week I took a tour of Adobe’s new office building in Waltham MA, and they’re about to turn that all-PV.

    You can say the same thing about wind turbines – they too have graduated from research projects and small-scale demo projects, to large-scale commercial successes.

    In both PV and wind turbines I have lots of options as an investor because there are plenty of large, mature companies in those fields. When will hydrogen reach that point?

  • Ellen Dibble

    The Teddy Roosevelt roaring that we don’t get from Obama — you’ve got to watch a lot of TV to see it. But David Letterman at 12:00 to 1:00 last night had Katie Couric on, and he asked her what kind of car she had. Chrysler van of some sort. Her grown daughter is trying to get her to buy a Prius (actually instead of a second car). Then Letterman truly launched. He has an electric car, sized about the size of a vitamin pill, purchased, he said from Neptune. That is inaccessible. Couric made a gesture of slashing both of her wrists in two swift forceful slashes. And coddled him like a mother with a tyrannical child in fury mode. “Well, have you got that off your chest? Good.”
    But thanks to Letterman. I appreciate your fury.

  • Webb Nichols

    I am saddened by Obama’s apparent narrowness and shallowness of leadership. Great leaders show compassion and generosity and are able to even embrace their enemies in a deep understanding of their illusions and humanity as well.

    Why point fingers and blame BP alone and put them on the defensive when in reality there is plenty of blame to go around even within his own government.

    There are scoundrels all over the world. They exist in the Investment and banking industry. They exist in the Health Care insurance industry. They exist in the tobacco industry. They exist in all aspects of life.

    Great leaders leave space to move forward with equinimity, determination and forgiveness. They do not accept and tolerate bad behavior. But they do not wallow in the past.They marshal human energy in just causes towards a better future.

  • JohnP

    Has anyone ever asked what progressives are progressing towards? I already know what they are progressing away from… the constitution.

  • Jim

    We want action now? Really? After 8 years of being blinded by rampant force feed patriotism and “rah rah” speeches while those in charge deregulated, pillaged, coddled corporations, suddenly we want action now? We stood idle for 8 year.

  • one vote only

    I agree with Matt that the commentary was extremely shallow, and have turned it off.

  • Matt

    John P.

    You’re right about scientific theory, but if you haven’t studied the process first, you’re not questioning theory because you’re not providing reasonable and scientifically valid counterpoints. Instead you’re spouting rhetoric and acting like my 3 year old daughter.

  • Helene Sullas-Huggins

    The folks on the show seem to believe that the only thing the President has to deal with is the oil spill. It is a huge problem, BUT he also has a few other issues on his plate: the economy, the Middle East, Afghanastan, Iraq.
    How much time does he need spend in the the Gulf? I think he should spend his time overseeing that the job is being done to stop the oil, clean-up is happening, more money is getting to people effected by the oil spill.
    And then there is the issue of stopping drilling for 6 months. If another accident occurred, these same people would be screaming about the fact that the President didn’t protect people and the land. I’m pretty confident that the President cannot win for trying.
    Also, does anyone remember that the Republicans set up the situation the Gulf is enduring over the past 8 -10 years with the lack of regulation and screaming, “Drill baby drill.” The Republicans slashed budgets for scientific research. President Bush et. al. devalued science.
    As a country we need to become more aware of our use of oil in ever part of our lives and we need to wean ourselves off of it. It is going to be incredibly painful and difficult, and perhaps, most of all for those in the oil industry. But, if we do bear some pain now, I am afraid that our country will ultimately be destroyed.

  • Dan

    I am shocked to hear that on point would have these “so called” experts on the radio. They don’t have a clue.

    My opinion of Obama is that he is very pragmatic. I agree with his attitude and response. My only problem is that I am bothered by their inability to plug this hole (or possibly the lack of desire?). There may be more to this than the accident alone. Some aspects of this may actually not be anybody’s fault.

    Finally, I am white person that truly believes this rush to abandon Obama is at least a fear of black people if not outright bigotry.

  • http://onanov.com Donald Baxter, Iowa City, IA

    We are paying the price for our sinful squandering of our natural resources, all of them–not just oil. Think of the oil spewing into the Gulf when you drive your car 45 minutes to and from work today; when you spray chemical weed killers and fertilizers on your lawn. We are fouling our Earth EVERY DAY and this spill is just one example.

  • Dan trunk

    One reason they haven’t closed the well is that BP wants to salvage any oil they can from the well. Perfect example of the worst of corporations

  • cam

    The hypocrisy of this discussion is appalling! Just listen to Julia Reed talk about how they want the government to take over. Remember the likes of her ilk shouting down politicians for GM (the one bailout that actually helped out tens of thousands of middle-class workers), the bank bailout (a great gop idea otherwise known as the Great Wealth Transfer)), health INSURANCE reform (we left behind health CARE reform as a result of the right’s worship of the insurance industry), cap and trade (an idea that would regulate another pending disaster) and virtually anything that represents Americans instead of American corporations. Shame on you Republicans and Blue Dogs. Either you care about America or you take care of corporations. What a sham – it will never end with these true patriots, disguised as conservatives, with any power. This disaster and all the disasters that have occurred in Obama’s first 18 months should become the central campaign theme for Democrats but they are too afraid to fight the fight for America.

  • Tim

    We have a foreign company forecast to put billions of dollars into the US Economy. The majority of ownership of BP is foreign. For once we’re on the right side of the flow of money, BP is hiring the unemployed to help clean up. BP is paying business owners to make sure they remain profitable. I bet the US will be collecting taxes on that income and I’m sure the US will make a lot off lawsuits and fees placed on BP.

  • JohnP

    BP will soon be known as Barack Petroleum just like Government Motors (GM)

  • Ellen Dibble

    I wish the president would outline a strategy for getting from here to there (besides taxing us till we sell our gas-guzzlers and so on).
    For instance in 2008 I kept hearing we need electric underground carriers that could take energy to say parking meters where it could be distributed to the cars. Google’s CEO was trying to get that done.
    What happened with that? Unless we all go with local sources, local fields of PV cells, local wind turbines (by the way the source fo the rare metals needed for all these things come from one place in China, but a new resource is opening up in Canada, but anyway), will we be forced to fend for ourselves?
    Or can a new more electric (i.e. powered by sun, wind, whatever) universe be established? We need government to help, zoning board by zoning board. It demands leadership.
    AN AWFUL LOT of Americans are on board right now with getting this done. Don’t waste the moment.

  • peter nelson

    JP, where you’re going wrong on this is using words like “will” in all your points. That makes it seem like there is no doubt.

    If one of the the most prestigious professional science journals in the world, Science avoids using such absolutes and instead uses the qualified words I quoted, then I’ll take their lead on this.

    I agree your post would have been much more satisfactory by adding the word “likely”.

  • Rick

    I think you meant Bush Petroleum.

  • George
  • Bernadette Bostwick

    Earth is a one-time endowment. It is subject to irreversible damage in the major patterns of its functioning, when such things as the BP oil spill happen.

    Earth exists and can survive only in its integral functioning. It cannot survive in fragments any more than any [individual] organism can survive in fragments.

    The human is derivative, Earth is primary. Earth must be the primary concern of every human
    institution, profession, program and activity. In economics, for instance, the first law of economics must be
    the preservation of Earth’s economy. A rising Gross National Product with a declining Gross Earth Product reveals the absurdity of our present economy.

    Mitigation of the present ruinous situation, the recycling of materials, the diminishment of consumption, the healing of damaged ecosystems—all this will be in vain if we do these things to make the present industrial systems acceptable. They must all be done, but for the health of Earth, which by the way is our only home
    6. Progress, to be valid, must include the entire Earth in all its component aspects. To designate human plundering of the planet as progress is an unbearable distortion.

  • David

    What this disaster should be teaching us is that Naomi Klein especially, accountants, bankers and politicians have no idea how to balance risk and reward. What this disaster shows us is that despite the low probability of failure we can’t deal with the consequences. The President’s ban is appropriate.

    Unfortunately the speech did not address the risk and reward issue, probably because it would have gone over the heads of most of the public.

    I also want to point out the ongoing cognitive dissonance of many of the people who live in the Gulf States.

  • Ron Estes

    What we’re seeing here in the aftermath of this catastrophe is major ideological confusion on both sides, which is why the idea of labelling this distaster “Obama’s Katrina” is so problematic. Liberals are in a weird position: they reflexively love Obama and get fired up by his visionary environmental rhetoric, but are consistently disappointed by his centrist policies on just about everything. Pro-corporate conservatives are in a weird position: of course they hate the idea of gov’t regulation and are behind the oil companies 100% (remember ‘drill baby drill’?); the only thing they can do is rattle on about how he needs to ‘plug the hole’ and ‘stop making this political.’ People who live in the Gulf Coast are in a weird position: their fishing industry, wetlands, and tourism will be destroyed, the Gulf is a chemical toilet, yet these are the same folks, by and large, who have consistently voted in pro-corporate politicians for decades. They fervently believe in getting that ‘darn govermint’ off our backs, yet who do they call when there’s an ecological disaster? Drill, baby, drill!

  • JohnP

    Obama has proved himself more willing and comfortable to meet with communist dictators than CEOs…. Coincidence?

  • JohnP

    Polls show there is a mandate to not pass a CAP & Tax bill or any form of carbon tax!

    Not to mention the polling numbers on the Arizona bill to do the feds job of kicking illegals out of our country.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Where I live, overlooking a well-used intercity route, I see a lot of vehicles. Each year I see some little buggies going along, just the size for going a few miles, rechargeable. It’s getting better, not that the rules of the road exactly accommodate any better than for bicycles. I saw a car pulling a run-about vehicle the way you haul a boat the other day, pulled out back. Some can be stashed in trunks.
    This is awfully good. We don’t need the speed and power and protection of a virtual tank if you’re putzing around town. If you don’t drive a 45-minute commute, why own a vehicle that always uses much more energy than needed? Did the president mention this? No. Is Ford mentioning this? I’m not sure.

  • Dawn Thierry

    I am so disappointed with the President on this issue.
    This is the worst environmental disaster in our (maybe even the world history) and we are depending on BP (who as a corporation has their primary duty as profit to their shareholders) to clean up rather than the government who has as their primary duty the people and lands of our nation.
    This was a prime time when all the forces of the nation should have been brought to bear to clean this up—a massive, nation-wide effort.
    Instead, I think all efforts have been made to minimize the knowledge of this. They used the dispersants to push the oil down so you couldn’t see it from above, and they let BP prohibit US citizens from even being on the beaches (our public lands) to document this.
    We need to clean this up now and I am ashamed of our efforts. It is not enough and it is taking way too long.

  • Andrea Wilder

    This is an environmental disaster.
    Who the hell is advising Obama?

    Why doesn’t Obama understand what the United States is about?

    Obama seems deaf and blind to what is happening to the Gulf Coast.


  • Christopher French

    Talk about failure–let’s talk about program failure. Your assembled opiners are not addressing substance, only style. Enough intellectual flatulence and high dudgeon to power an entire fleet of BS delivery vehicles. Signing off in disgust.

  • JP


    Here is a small part of a recent article by Stephen Babcock in the NOLA Defender:

    “Tidal Inlets

    In addition to building a berm in front of the barrier islands, the project calls for closing off or severely constricting tidal inlets and passes in order to block the oily water from entering the marshes that lie landward of the barrier islands. As a result, there will not be adequate openings for tidal passage.

    In the case of small ephemeral cuts in barrier islands that form during storms, infilling poses little harm, as it is speeding up a natural beach healing process. The natural time scale of these small cuts is as short as days or weeks, or up to a few years, depending on storm frequency and intensity. There are many of these along the Louisiana coast in various stages of self repair as waves push the sand near a barrier island onto shore. I will concede that plugging these small cuts would help decrease potential conduits for oil to enter the marsh. However, inlets that have existed on the order of decades persist for an entirely different reason, and to constrict or close these off would be a bad idea.

    Tidal inlets serve one sole purpose. They convey the tide from the Gulf of Mexico to the estuaries which are comprised of inland marshes and bays. Marine life and estuarine health have evolved with this exchange as a necessary process. The volume of water that passes through an inlet during one half of a tidal cycle (high tide to low tide, or vice versa) is referred to as the tidal prism, which is defined quantitatively as the tide range multiplied by the surface area of the estuary. There is a well established relationship where the total cross sectional area of an inlet (depth multiplied by width) is directly proportional to the tidal prism of the estuary that it serves. The larger the tidal prism, the greater the cross sectional area required to accommodate the tide waters. A plan to either block tidal inlets or constrict their flow with a berm, without regard for the necessary amount and type of water passages needed to accommodate the natural tidal prism, is a plan predisposed to failure.
    Furthermore, putting sand in an inlet to ‘fix it’ because ‘there is a lack of sediment’ is an incorrect assumption in regards to restoring a viable coastline. This will fix nothing. As discussed, the occurrence and size of inlets is related to the tidal prism (a function of tidal range and estuarine surface area) not sediment supply. The occurrence and distribution of tidal inlets is governed by forces (the tide) that are more powerful than an engineered berm can handle. Plugging a tidal inlet or building a levee to block its flow is a futile endeavor. Swift tidal currents will cause the berm to erode as sediment placement occurs, and thus extend the project completion timeline. If blocking or constricting tidal flow at any inlets is completed, an imbalance in the tidal prism exchange per the relationships described above would unceasingly work towards equilibrium, resulting in new inlet breaches or increased scouring at tidal existing passages.

    Other consequences of inlet closure are ecological in nature and include: disrupting of salinity gradients within the estuaries; interfering with the transfer of the movement of nutrients back and forth from the estuaries and gulf; and impeding the inshore/offshore migrations of marine life. Instead of plugging these inlets, there are booming techniques and oil collection strategies at inlets that are well documented in the literature, as well as NOAA technical reports and manuals directly related to oil spill response.”

  • Ellen Dibble

    in re clean-up: THIMK AHEAD. If we go out every day picking up tar balls, every day the beach is fresh. If we wait till Friday, and pick up all the tar balls from the week, we have saved human energy (limited, at least skilled, whatever that means). So cleaning 7 beaches once weekly is better than one beach for 7 days. One Times Seven equals seven.
    There is a lot of planning and experience going into this.
    The Administration (Rahm Emmanuel) last night told I think Charlie Rose that in retrospect there should have more redundancies from the git-go. All the pipe-plugging attempts ready ASAP.
    I don’t think there is the organization for redundancies in clean-up, but I’m pretty sure the governors will make sure coordination begins to take place. But the knee-jerk reaction of instant action is not always best.

  • Cornelia Carrier

    I was the environmental writer for The Times-Picayune in the seventies and believe me Louisiana must take most of the blame for the oil industry’s environmental destruction of its coast (before this spill). I covered the state regulatory agencies that were a joke. They could have stopped the Corps of Engineers from granting permits to dredge canals and destroy the wetlands, but I cannot think of one instance where agencies protested. They gave the oil industry every thing it wanted.
    I also think Mr. Brinkley is ignoring the outcry from the port industry if the levees were to be cut and the dredging stopped. After all the shipping in the ports of New Orleans and Baton Rouge is dependent on the Mississippi River channel.
    I was the first one to write about the wetland loss along Louisiana’s coast and that loss and this oil spill breaks my heart. However, spending a fortune to restore these wetlands without a strong bill to address global warming is a waste of time and money. The whole are will be underwater with sea level rise.

  • Rick

    Did I just hear Brinkley suggest Bush had a favorable environmental record?

  • Nina

    One of the most frustrating things about this disaster is that we are all watching things get worse and feeling like we can’t do anything about it. What I would have liked to hear from Obama is a call to arms. There are thousands of people in this country who want to help, surely there is something we can do. We know that boons to soak up the oil can be made from hair and other things. What if he had called on environmental organizations and community organizations from around the country to make boons and ship them to the golf?

  • Mark Eisner

    When will someone start talking truthfully. You guys should do a show about the economic impact of green energy. Oil is by far the cheapest energy source, followed closely by coal. If we switch to “green” energy we will be paying three or four times the current price for a btu. What happens to an economy that where the equivalent of a gallon of gas costs $12 to $15.

  • jeffe

    My apologies to Naomi Klein, she was pretty quite and restrained. She made some good points. As did all of them, but, it still did not offer any real solutions not that anyone can. The real horror if this is this gusher of oil might go on for months or longer. Then what?

    It did reinforce that Obama and his administration are more interested in big business and cutting deals behind closed doors (so much for that transparency) that give the illusion of something being done while things remain the same. It seems to me that the only reason Obama is going after BP is to shift the public’s anger away from him.

    People keep saying Obama is a pragmatist, I hate to say this but we need more than a pragmatic approach right now.

  • peter nelson

    What we’re seeing here in the aftermath of this catastrophe is major ideological confusion on both sides

    I don’t think there’s much ideological “confusion” on the left – just disappointment in many of Obama’s positions. Although I did predict this on this very forum at the time, by reminding people that the US is one of the most conservative countries in the world outside the Islamic theocracies. The conservative parties in most other democracies are to the LEFT of most Americans (for proof look at David Cameron’s public defense of their single-payer health plan in the election last month!)

    It’s the conservatives who are confused. After years of demanding a smaller more limited government they’re now complaining that the government isn’t doing enough to clean up the mess. After years of telling us that the free-market can self regulate they’re complaining that MMS didn’t do enough to regulate here.

    And when we ask how accidents like this SHOULD be prevented in the future we can’t get a straight answer! Conservatives will be the first to tell you that government can’t be trusted to do the job, but they won’t tell us who we SHOULD trust to do the job.

  • http://onanov.com Donald Baxter, Iowa City, IA

    Mark Eisner: when we’re paying $12-$15 for a gallon of gasoline, we’ll be approaching the true price of energy from oil.

  • Ellen Dibble

    The cost of oil. Also the cost to our national reputation for propping up dictators who can keep provider countries in line, the cost of putting up military outposts or even fighting in places where an oil pipeline might be desirable down the line (pun-no!) in case we continue to be oil addicts. The cost of oil has hidden costs.
    The cost of shipping the sunlight from a battery across an electric line to another battery and to me? Well, that depends. It costs a lot to get the infrastructure right. But geo-heat/cooling and sunlight and wind — they are weightless, they are free from Mother Earth. It costs to mobilize that energy, but it isn’t like coal or oil, a commodity, and a dangerous one. And an increasingly rare one.

  • justanother

    Obama never failed to give great speech, but how much are they just rhetoric, how much are they being put to “action”. I didn’t here him talk about any specifics in terms of how to accelerate the sustainable energy. And he needs to drop that empty impressive title of U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, Nobel prize…..etc. It doesn’t matter how many Nobel Prize ones wins, it’s about getting job done fast and furious, stop playing too much politics.

  • peter nelson

    Here is a small part of a recent article by Stephen Babcock in the NOLA Defender:

    Yes, I saw that article, but I have more confidence in the objectivity of AAAS’s flagship journal, than I do in a newspaper whose masthead motto is “Blood Alcohol Content”.

    Just to be clear – I oppose the berms myself. But I’m on a mission to raise the level of policy discourse in public debate. And the first step is to get people comfortable with complexity and nuance. We live in a world of simplistic baby-talk JohnP-style koans when it comes to politics. But the real world is complex and people HATE that! One cultural reason why we seem stuck with just 2 political parties in the US is that Americans can only think in binary – yes/no, black/white, etc. Having multiple national parties would probably make Americans’ heads explode.

  • http://winn7411@myfairpoint.net winifred mccarthy

    In my phone call to you a few minutes ago I only wished to say that instead of yet another expansion of federal level bureaucracy if the existing agencies function as they are supposed to the oil crisis with BP would never have happened. Same for the financial crisis. Both of these include collusion of federal agencies with big business when oversight over private sector activities was intended. More bureaucracy layers costs and complexities, confusion and opportunity for more corruption.
    Burlington, Vermont

  • Tom from boston

    Obama’s handling of the oil spill has not been perfect, but what was the alternative? McCain/Palin? I’ll take Obama any day of the week.

  • Marcia Lord

    This is with regards to the comments from Douglas Brinkley in the last 5 minutes of the program about Obama’s efforts at conservation. How unfair! He touts George Bush’s efforts in creating wildlife sanctuaries and compares Obama negatively to G.B.’s accomplishment. The man was in office for 8 years! And he did more damage than fix what ails the country.

    Obama has been in office 1 1/2 years and he’s had to deal with major issues since he hit the ground, a lot of said problems caused by the previous administration. You think conservation projects would be top of his list?! Would the speaker prefer him to dump financial reform or health care so he can match G.B’s conservation legacy. Oh yes, I’m sure the country would give Obama kudos for that. Jobs bill! Nah, I want to spend my time getting a piece of land conserved. Had he done that instead of trying to get (for the moment) other things through the Republican roadblock in Congress, I’m sure you’d be talking about that on “On Point” and no one would have been on the president’s side had he done so. Give the man a break! Priorities, priorities.

    Marcia Lord

  • Barbara Simonetti

    The vigorous US investigative press in all media – radio, TV, newspapers – has been hollowed out by corporate greed in the last 30 years. We just don’t have the reporters we need on the job. PR is substituting for real investigative work. This is one of the main resons why there was so much negative information about BP available but we only heard the PR. There simply are not enough working journalists to do the work needed to support the real information needs of a democratic society. In its absence, we only learn what we need to know after it has resulted in disaster. There are many people working feverishly to find ways to get what we used to get from a free and vigorous press and we need to pay attention and support their efforts.

  • Potter

    Douglas Brinkley was excellent; he made excellent points. As always also Naomi Klein. Brinkley was a little too harsh on Obama, though he deserves strong criticism, comparing him to presidents who have completed their terms of office when Obama has not.

    I cannot fathom the position that drilling must continue because of the loss of jobs.

    Those who live in the area, especially local leaders, have to accept some of the responsibility for not making sure the environment was well protected, allowing BP with it’s record, to drill at all. Where are all those Republicans who scream for state’s rights and a diminished federal government?

  • peter nelson

    Oil is by far the cheapest energy source, followed closely by coal.

    As I explained above, these things are artificially cheap. Oil is cheap partly because the US taxpayer pays hundreds of billions of dollars to reduce supply risk. Take that artifial government interference out of the equation and the cost of oil will go way up.

    Also price you pay for gas and oil does not include the environmental cost. The science on this is crystal clear, regardless of what demagogues on AM talk radio might think. Ocean acidification and global warming are real and they’re already having a huge impact in many places. Last week I returned from Juneau Alaska where isostatic rebound from receding glaciers is pushing tidewater marshes up out of the water and threatening fish breeding that their economy depends on.

  • Julie Rohwein

    For some historical context on the problems at MMS vis-a-vis its capture by the oil & gas industry
    (NYTimes September 2008):


    A few highlights from the article:

    “In three reports delivered to Congress on Wednesday, the department’s inspector general, Earl E. Devaney, found wrongdoing by a dozen current and former employees of the Minerals Management Service, which collects about $10 billion in royalties annually and is one of the government’s largest sources of revenue other than taxes.

    ‘A culture of ethical failure’ pervades the agency, Mr. Devaney wrote in a cover memo.

    The reports portray a dysfunctional organization that has been riddled with conflicts of interest, unprofessional behavior and a free-for-all atmosphere for much of the Bush administration’s watch.”

    “The culture of the organization ‘appeared to be devoid of both the ethical standards and internal controls sufficient to protect the integrity of this vital revenue-producing program,’ one report said.”

    “’When you come to work for the federal government, the American people expect the best of you,’ [director of the Minerals Management Service, Randall Luthi] said, adding, ‘I am not going to leave this post in January without addressing this problem.’ Mr. Luthi, who became the service director in July 2007, said that the agency had requested the investigation after receiving whistle-blower complaints in the spring of 2006, and that it had already made several changes.”

    Apparently Mr. Luthi’s changes were insufficient to size of the problem.

  • JP

    There is nothing to not have confidence about in this portion of Babcock’s article.

    Nothing here is speculation, but rather a synopsis of scientific study about what tidal inlets are and how they work.

    My point in posting it is to point out that the artificial berms MUST attempt to interfere with natural tidal processes in order to accomplish their goal of keeping the oil from entering the inlets.

    The article describes the well-studied processes that I am saying will be put at stake.

  • JohnP


    BP was founding member of ‘cap-and-trade’ lobby…

  • TomK

    “Any scientiest will tell you that “Man made global warming” is a theory not a scientific fact!”

    Hey John, a theory is never a fact. A theory is a model of how the world works, a fact is something that is observed. Apples and oranges. Theories have to be consistent with facts and should be able to predict observations that have not been made yet.

    We can’t be sure of any theory of something so complex as climate, but the best current guess is that human activity is causing warming.

    I was very disappointed in the speech….blah, blah, blah on alternatives, probably nothing will happen, a crisis wasted. So long as it’s up to BP to plug the hole, BP is in charge. BP is by far the most irresponsible oil co. Obama should contract with the more competent oil cos to get a team working for him that can actually do the engineering.

  • JohnP

    So if we have a choice of letting nature do its work and see if any life can live along the coast after being soaked with oil for months if not years or we can build berms and block the tides and hope nature can adapt for a few weeks, it seams like the later is the best bet even though neither is a great option.

  • JohnP


    I am glad you agree with me that theory’s are not facts!

    Who is the smartest man on earth that decided which scientist is wright and has the “best current guess”?

    Are you that man!

    If you group together all of the best guesses in history they have a 50/50 chance of being right. Given those odds should we really spend hundreds of billions of dollars a year to try to fix a problem that might or might not be a problem?

  • peter nelson

    This disaster is a direct result of longstanding conservative policy:

    1. Weaken and underfund regulatory agencies.

    2. Drive away the best and brightest by constantly belittling the concept of government service and denigrating government workers. (these same Republicans always talk about running government more like a business, so what business school do they teach you to increase employee productivity by belittling and denigrating employees?).

    3. Make sure regulatory agencies are only staffed with industry insiders by attacking anyone who is not an insider as having a “lack of experience”.

    … And now when we ask conservatives how to prevent future disasters like this they’ve painted themselves into a corner. They can’t advocate government regulation but that’s anathema to them, but BP provides a good example of what happens when companies are unregulated.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Barbara Simonetti, According to the peace studies founder Johan Galtung (originally from Oslo now of DC), Americans could get unfiltered news, other than the “chosen” position, if we had easier access to Al-Jazeera, now available he says on Channel 275 on Comcast, which offers a cornucopia of perspectives and leaves it to the listener to figure out a point of view. I think I might hunt for Al-Jazeera on line, and from that, I might better judge the credibility of Galtung (Democracy Now! last night).
    We learn to assume we are not getting the full story, and we are not so great at figuring out a point of view for ourselves without all the pushing from the media to be on-board with right or left, and not a whole lot of variation, in reality. Both are bought by the plutocracy.
    Right now Massachusetts citizens should be hammering away at Senator Scott Brown, who I learned last night will have a private audience with the president about the energy bill coming up in the Senate. Count on it, the lobbyists will hammer away at him, not always in line with a future we can believe in.

  • Edward Burke

    My question stands: when will Obama fire Salazar?

    Also, to follow up a point made by one of the callers: if NASA engineers were commandeered to investigate the Toyota accelerator problems a few months back, have any of them been directed by Obama, Inc., to even take one measly look at the enduring problem of stopping the leak? Has the Army Corps of Engineers been so tasked? Have any engineering grads of the US Naval Academy? I haven’t heard any Obama spokespersons or defenders say one way or the other; I distinctly fail to get the impression, however, that all hands are on board, in which case Obama can think about self-application of a drop-kick.

  • justanother

    ****When will someone start talking truthfully. You guys should do a show about the economic impact of green energy. Oil is by far the cheapest energy source, followed closely by coal. If we switch to “green” energy we will be paying three or four times the current price for a btu. What happens to an economy that where the equivalent of a gallon of gas costs $12 to $15.****

    You need to know the reason why certain commodity is cheap, and vise versa, Oil price is not just market driven price, they are given subsidy and regulated in some ways to provide cheap superficial price. If green energies are given the same opportunity and privilege on the same level field, they CAN compete with oil price.

  • JohnP


    Subsidizing something to give it an artificial price does not make it compete with its competitors, removing government subsidies on all energy products would allow the various energy methods to compete.

    Lets be honest, Oil and Coal are far too cheap to allow renewables to compete right now. Renewable energy might be able to compete in 10-20 years.

  • JPS

    Poll: Louisianans think Bush did better on Katrina than Obama on oil mess…

  • Ellen Dibble

    If Obama persuades the people in Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana that he does better with Deepwater than Bush did with Katrina (which might be possible?), then 2012 might surprise us. Those states are McCain states, right? They wouldn’t want to have voted for the wrong guy. They would be looking for the flaws in Obama’s execution, not for its strengths. Count on it.

  • Brett

    This “statist” business was a response of sorts to Jim Fowler’s comment about Obama’s last night’s address, “Words and speeches mean nothing. Trust only action. Do as I say, not as I do is the philosophy of the statist.”

    He, and many conservatives on various forums in the last month or so, I’ve noticed, have used the term “statist” in a similar way that conservatives have batted around the term “socialist.” It is fast becoming another “catchword” (if “catchphrase” upsets you so). At least it’s better than equating “socialism” with “fascism,” so conservatives seem to be making some attempt at speech modification, albeit still misdirected. But thanks anyway for your “angry” and unnecessary pedantic comment.

  • TomK

    “I am glad you agree with me that theory’s are not facts!”

    I agree that they are different things. That doesn’t mean that a theory is “less than” a fact, it is just a different part of science.

    “Who is the smartest man on earth that decided which scientist is wright and has the “best current guess”?

    Are you that man!

    If you group together all of the best guesses in history they have a 50/50 chance of being right. Given those odds should we really spend hundreds of billions of dollars a year to try to fix a problem that might or might not be a problem?”

    I don’t share your attitude about science. You do your best to understand a complex system and make conclusions accordingly. If it was as useless as you say we’d still have medieval technology and “creation science”. The case for man made warming looks strong to me.

    peter nelson is exactly right on regulation. The right has been appointing anti-regulation zealots to head regulatory agencies since 1980. What do you expect from such insane policies? Then when the demoralized agencies mess up, thay claim it proves their belief that gvt is worthless.

    Gvt regulation works just fine when the agency heads believe in the mission.

  • JohnP

    How exactly does the government subsidize Oil?

    The government taxes account for 15-25 times (depending on city and state) every penny of profit the big oil companies get from a gallon of gas.

    This is not a subsidy!

  • William

    The liberals have misdirected the purpose of the federal government for decades. Their desire for the federal government to solve all problems have created a very weak, ineffective, overpaid, faceless bureaucracy. Hopefully a non-partisian commission will identify this as one of the problems that caused this disaster and recommend some serious downsizing with the federal government.

  • jeffe

    Gvt regulation works just fine when the agency heads believe in the mission.
    Posted by TomK,

    Good point.

    Does anyone remember that Bill Clinton appointed James Lee Witt who turned a poorly run government agency into an efficiently and professionally run agency. Of course Bush destroyed all of that work with “heck of a job” Michael Brown.

    This is what is needed. Not cronies or people on the take.

    It’s quite clear that Salazar should be fired.

  • Brett

    After hearing so much repetitive information and analysis of this disaster since it started in the 24/7 news cycles, I have begun to look at a broader picture.

    The minutia of the day in looking at this disaster, which seems to pretty much be the same as the day before, doesn’t quite allow for standing back a bit…anyway, this disaster, the preparedness of BP for such disasters (as well as by other oil companies’ response plans that came to light in yesterday’s senate committee hearing on the disaster), the minimizing of the disaster’s effects on the environment by BP’s CEO, the less than adequate clean-up efforts, etc., all point to a larger issue that has been a huge player in this ongoing Greek tragedy we call progress: hubris.

    This is another Dust Bowl phenomenon, or another Irish potato famine phenomenon…it is an example of how we humans seem to think we can control environmental factors to the point where we are supreme over them. If a problem arises due to our desire to manipulate our earth purely for our own progress without any regard for our impact on our environment, nature invariably will show us how this thinking is short-sighted.

  • informed American

    Unfortunately for Obama, he can’t manipulate an oil slick the same way he can manipulate the left-wing liberal news media.

  • terry davila

    I am sick and tired of listening to people complain about how the federal government isn’t doing enough to help the people of the Gulf coast when many of these same people are of the opinion that the federal government should stay out of people’s business! So make up your minds! I haven’t heard or seen leaders from that area reporting to the American people what steps they’ve taken to help.I’ve heard one unidentified person being interviewed ( an unknown woman)who at least offered “let us fix it and we’ll report back to you what we’ve done”. I’ve heard no solutions being offered by anyone as to how to deal with this problem. The persons participating in the discussion are more concerned with what the president didn’t say and what he hasn’t done. Who cares right now about what he didn’t say!! I understand how important it is to come up with an energy policy, but the urgent issue right now is to stop this oil leak. I say stop the petty bickering and get to work and start contributing solutions if you’re not satisfied with what the president has done thus far!

  • Rachel

    Ug. We are all guilty because we use oil on a daily basis. Stop blaming your politicians. It’s like blaming the drug dealer when you overdose on the coke you bought from them.

  • Carl Franklin

    Obama’s speech was not very good. He is playing catch up. His inexperince is showing. He waited 13 days to visit the Gulf for the first time. He is inept. If he had been a mayor or governor, he may have had the opportunity to develop the ability to deal with disasters and crises. He has little substance or less experience. He is surrounded by Yes men.

    Unless you are prepared to give up your way of life, oil and gas will be with us for decades. If we do not recover these resources, someone else will. We use 20 million bbl. of oil a day. We produce 8 million domestically. We import 12 million bbl.

    Our country should be supporting those energy businesses that are conducting research and developing alternative sources of energy, so that we can begin the transition to other forms of energy. However, until these other forms are widely and readily available, we will be using oil, gas, coal, hydro, geothermal, and nuclear. Wind and solar presently supply 1% of our energy needs.


    Unfortunately for Obama, he can’t manipulate an oil slick the same way he can manipulate the left-wing liberal news media.

    Posted by informed American, on June 16th, 2010 at 12:43 PM

    What are you talking about??? Most “NEWS” organizations are run by CORPORATIONS who take a decidedly Right-leaning stance except for the very few. They have purged any real journalists from their organizations so we the people are left with crap news reporting where boobs and hairspray reigns (and that is just the guys :P). The only people who seem to think the left owns the news are, well, you righties who apparently can’t tell real news from “faux news” anyways.

  • Charotte

    Why has President Obama not suspended the cabotage provisions of the Jones Act in this emergency?

    As I understand it, the United States Coast Guard can not legally accept any offers of help from state-of-the-art skimmer ships that are not built by Americans, owned by Americans, and manned by Americans if they are operating port-to-port in United States coastal waters. The people who build, own, and operate the state-of-the-art ships are largely Norwegian and Dutch (the United States having abandoned truly modern maritime shipping decades ago).

  • TomK

    “The liberals have misdirected the purpose of the federal government for decades. ”

    William, how did you not notice that the right has been calling the shots for decades? We’ve had righty presidents and congresses, reagan, gingrich, gramm, delay, bush, and yes, clinton drank the deregulation kool-aid. we’ve had decades of deregulation, of appointing anti-regulation zealots to be in charge of gvt regulatory agencies, and enough tax cutting so that taxes are at the lowest point since 1950. Don’t listen to that corporate media spin, man! Next thing you’ll tell me that Barney Frank caused the financial crash, even though a minority dem congressman was powerless in the radical right congress.

    The bush financial crash and deepwater horizon have exactly the same origin – the radical deregulation and destruction of once great gvt agencies by the radical right.

  • les Wetmore

    Thank you Rachel. Blame, blame, blame, we are very good at that. But what are you (those that hang in this chatroom daily, arguing about statistics and political veiws) doing in you daily lives to affect a change towards a better world?

  • http://wwwfilipinoboston.blogpsot.com AKILEZ

    I wrote before that BPO should compensate the people that are affected by the Oil Spill even before President Obama mentioned “Compensation” on his last night speech.

    Not only I proposed Compansation but to SUPPORT BP to accumulate their funds in order to HELP the victims of the Oil Spill.

    I know we hate BP but the more we Boycott British Petroluem the more we are hurting the victims of the oil spill disaster.

    This is the only way we can support Our Fellow Americans in Southern States.

  • aletheia33

    BP has hired security forces to keep reporters (and presumably everyone else who is not a BP employee) away from the beaches and from speaking with workers, who themselves have been prohibited from speaking, on pain of losing their temporary spill cleanup jobs. seems like a bit of overkill. recent report on this from WDSU in new orleans:


    this issue has got to be raised with a lot more concern by the media. is this our beloved america–where private, corporation soldiers control where people can go and who they can speak with? why is there not outrage and government action to stop this practice immediately? these beaches are not private property. corporations do not yet control the world–though this activity, and the lack of protest, seems to make it apparent that in a couple of generations if not sooner, they will.

  • William

    TomK – Let’s pick on “agency destroyed by the right”. The Dept. of Education. Now this agency was destroyed by President Bush by giving it too much money. Now President Obama continues the destruction of this “once great agency” by giving even more money. And at the end of the day, the education system in America is not better off now than before the start of the Dept. of Education.

  • JohnP

    Liberals always think throwing money at a problem can fix it. if a little doesn’t work, throw more money at it faster than before and that will surely fix it.

    With that said: isn’t that the Obama plan for preventing the pending US bankruptcy. Spend more money and call it stimulus, wait that got bad reviews last time, so we will call it a jobs bill this time.

  • peter nelson

    Are you seriously proposing that BP can’t come up with the $20-40 billion this is estimated to cost without our help??! Last year their gross profit was $212 billion! They have a book value of $100 billion, so even if we had to break up the company we would have no trouble extracting it! (source: Capital IQ/Yahoo Finance). I don’t think they need any help from us to fund the compensation.

    In another thread you expressed concern for their workers. If BP got broken up the productive parts would instantly be snapped up by other oil companies, so all that would happen to the workers is that they would get a new name tag.

    Are you a BP shareholder or something?

    I’m an XOM (Exxon Mobil) shareholder but I’d be embarrassed to go to bat for them in public like you’re doing. XOM and I have a relationship of convenience – I find all the money I’ve made off them very convenient to spend. But if they ever did something like this I’d be happy to suggest they try plugging the leak with company executives. It was fun to watch Tillerson squirm yesterday when Markey pointed out that XOM’s dog-and-pony-show featured out-of-town walruses . . .

    A walrus walks into a sand bar in Louisiana and the bartender says “We don’t get many walruses down here.”
    The walrus replies, “With this oil I can see why!”

    Sorry. For what we’re paying him I’d like even better squirming, please. Anyway, BP doesn’t need our help; it needs our collective foot on their neck to keep them motivated. Yahoo has a NY Times article on how BP might try to limit their liability http://finance.yahoo.com/news/BPs-Options-to-Limit-nytimes-2590832848.html?x=0&sec=topStories&pos=4&asset=&ccode=

  • Les Wetmore

    Anyone have some ideas for changing their own habbits. I get the political embattlement, but how about something more practical? I started mowing my lawn with a gas free reel mower.

  • peter nelson

    William says: And at the end of the day, the education system in America is not better off now than before the start of the Dept. of Education.

    What is your metric?

    Test scores have risen pretty much across the board since NCLB. Not dramatically and not consistently but standardized test scores are the metric they use.

    I’m not a bog fan of “teaching to the test” but you DO have to have objective metrics – there is no other way to tell if your programs are working or your education dollar is being spent properly.

    What do YOU suggest as a metric?

  • roddy o’sullivan

    IMO…. it seems that Obama left out details as to HOW we can get off the Oil/Coal/Gas teat in a deliberate move to avoid another “malaise speech” moment. With that in mind … his speech was fine and he said somethings that need to be said (over and over again, seemingly, even though they are so obvious anyway).


    PS Any thoughts on the Bloody Sunday inquiry??

  • William

    peter nelson, – We spend the most money in the Western World on education, but we are not in the top ten. The Dept. of Education took in an extra 96 billion dollars last year on top of their budget of 63 billion dollars. Senator Tom Harkin is asking for 23 billion dollars on top of this to support teachers during this recession. Now at some point a reasonable person would assume that we are spending too much.

  • peter nelson

    Our country should be supporting those energy businesses that are conducting research and developing alternative sources of energy, so that we can begin the transition to other forms of energy. However, until these other forms are widely and readily available, we will be using oil, gas, coal, hydro, geothermal, and nuclear.

    But we have to start somewhere. Right now US foreign policy is keeping the price of oil artificially low at huge taxpayer expense by propping up and supplying security assistance to oil exporting countries, many of which are highly unsavory characters. What do you think would happen to the price of oil if we announced tomorrow that henceforth we were cancelling all security arrangements with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states? And that we were accelerating our withdrawal from Iraq?

    I bet oil would skyrocket. And we already know when that happens, as it did in the summer of 2008, that people’s habits change. We NEED higher oil prices to effect a transition to renewable energy. But right now we’re paying TAXES to keep oil cheap!

  • JohnP

    Obama was going to mention the magic ferry dust that he plans to use get us off of our oil addition but Al Gore told him not to let the secret out of the bag until he builds enough supply for everyone.

  • peter nelson

    PS Any thoughts on the Bloody Sunday inquiry??
    Posted by roddy o’sullivan</i<

    This is America, roddy! We like to talk about oil and money! All the stereotypes people have about us across the pond are true! 100% of everything the average American knows about Bloody Sunday they learned from a U2 song!

    My take is that the Saville Iquirey took way too long, but it’ll be hard to duck now, and I can only hope there would be something like it for Kent State here in the US.

  • http://www.filipinoboston.blogspot.com AKILEZ

    Peter Nelson do you think that $100 billion will last for “2 Long Decades” on cleaning up the Oil Spill in the Gulf?

    That is not counting the Money that will be paid for the Victims of the oil spill.

    20 billion dollars is not a lot of money when we are talking about hundreds of thousands of people that stretches from 4 States and IF THIS Oil spill will never be stopped IT WILL SPREAD on the East and West coasts of United States. All Fishermen will be affected and businesses.

    Do the Math? the whole United States is affected with the Oil Spill and 200 billions dollars is not a lot of money.

    Okay Don’t support BP – boycott the oil company let us see what will happen with the clean up and the money to be pay off the victims.

  • jeffe

    I have mentioned this before. The Oil/Gas corporations should be required to have state of the art, up to date ships and technology that can deal with all types of spills from small to the behemoth we now are witnessing in the Gulf of Mexico. We require the nuclear industries to have up to date plans for accidents and yet we do not require the oil/gas corporations to have any planes whatsoever. This is absurd.

    I’m not under any illusion about our need to use oil and gas for energy and to expect us to change over night is foolish. Granted we should have been working on this since the 70′s like a lot of the European countries did, but alas we did not.

  • peter nelson

    peter nelson, – We spend the most money in the Western World on education, but we are not in the top ten. The Dept. of Education took in an extra 96 billion dollars last year on top of their budget of 63 billion dollars. Senator Tom Harkin is asking for 23 billion dollars on top of this to support teachers during this recession. Now at some point a reasonable person would assume that we are spending too much.

    You didn’t answer the question.

    Regardless of how much we spend, we need a metric to know if it’s working. You claimed that things have not improved but you didn’t say what your metric was, and I pointed out that by the metric NCLB chose, it did improve.

    What metric(s) do you suggest? I come from a science and engineering background so believe me, no one wants to see improvements more than I do! I’ve long advocated that school should be year-round and the day should be longer. And even though I have no kids I have long said I’d be happy to pay higher taxes to keep the schools open and staffed for those longer times.

    We should be creating a nation of citizen scholars – this is the best way to counter political demagogues all over the political spectrum as well as religious zealots. But this takes setting and maintaining much higher standards. And it takes METRICS to ensure that the real, objective quantities of money we’re spending produce real, objective results.

  • Kris Johnson

    There are many words in the English language that overlap in part definitionally, but that does not mean that they are synonyms. Only a dishonest and corrupt person would read the plain, usual, customary, and ordinary language that is used to define “statism” and “socialism” and reach the erroneous conclusion that these words are synonyms. The words are different and they mean different things. Check an unabridged dictionary, if you doubt the facts. You are entitled to your opinion. You are not entitled to your own facts.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Charotte at 1:03 on Jones Act. Brian Tapper on NBC Tuesday night said that the Jones Act had been waived, at least as to eight vessels, or eight countries, I forget which, in order to have that advantage.
    This use of foreign built vessels is an affront to the unions, whose lobby created that law.

  • peter nelson

    Peter Nelson do you think that $100 billion will last for “2 Long Decades” on cleaning up the Oil Spill in the Gulf?

    Most of the current best estimates are $20-40 billion, including long term remediation. Those are the serious mainstream estimates and obviously if look out on the web you van find any number you want, but that’s what I’m going by.


    Just remember the Bucket Is Not Full of Oil Yet” when that bucket is filled with Oil it will spread not only to the 2 coastlines of United States but to the Dominican Republic, Haiti,Cuba,Puerto Rico, Mexico and other small islands that have fishing industries and nice white sand beaches.

    Who will pay those countries? Answer BP
    Where will BP get their funds? Answer Selling Petroluem.

    If we STOP buying BP, where will BP get their money for the clean up and to compensate the victims.

    You don’t have to be a genius to get the answers.

    I am not looking at the problems now and I am looking at the problems that will happen in the future.


    Peter Nelson the answer is Macro Economics.


    The oil volume released before shut-in can be calculated by
    using Equation 1.2.
    Vpre-shut =
    Eq. 1.2
    Q – Pipeline flow rate [stb/d]
    t – Time before shut-in [min]
    1.3.3 Pipeline volume
    The pipeline volume can be calculated by using Equation 1.3.
    Alternatively Table 1.1 can be used. Table 1.1 is meant to be
    used when a calculator is not available.
    Length 3.14
    InternalDiameter of pipe
    Volume of pipe
    2 pipe
    pipe L
    ID 2
    Eq. 1.3
    Vpipe – volume of pipeline [ft3]
    IDpipe – internal diameter of pipeline [in]
    Lpipe – pipeline length [ft]

  • Alex

    Obama should learn a thing or two from Putin. Unleash the IRS, the EPA, the DOJ, and everybody else on them.

  • peter nelson

    We require the nuclear industries to have up to date plans for accidents

    Where do you get that idea? I live in the Boston area and was around during the comment period for Seabrook. The requirements for PSNH are very limited and certain areas, like parts of Newburyport, are listed as “no evacuation possible”. Furthermore Price Anderson places sharp, and absurd, upper limits on nuclear plant operator liability in the case of an accident.

    In principle I have no objection to nuclear power and would happily support it, but for

    1. The liability limits of Price Anderson and related legislation that limits the rights of homeowners near plants from buying nuke-accident insurance on their HO-2.

    2. The lack of a waste depository.

  • larry lester

    If you punish BP too much, there will be nothing left to compensate anyone. Bankruptcy should not be made a possibility for BP as a result of hammering the company. Liquidation of BP assets is not a solution for anyone except BP. Be practical, my dems and libs. Try to see beyond your ideological haze.

  • peter nelson

    Obama should learn a thing or two from Putin. Unleash the IRS, the EPA, the DOJ, and everybody else on them.

    It sounds to me like that’s exactly what he’s doing, and good on him.

    AKILEZ still hasn’t explained why he’s so sympathetic to BP. I still think he either works for them or owns a lot of BP stock

  • peter nelson

    Bankruptcy should not be made a possibility for BP as a result of hammering the company. Liquidation of BP assets is not a solution for anyone except BP

    I can’t parse this to get your meaning. Could you please elaborate?

  • William

    I would think this report would be a good report on our education system.


    I lived in Singapore, Japan and Hong Kong during the last 30 years. I compare what I saw there teaching English and interacting with those students and their school system to what I see here. Some of the most successful students come from Asia. That is my metric.

    If you listen to the obama during the election he said the education system in the USA is broken. NCLB had failed despite billions of dollars and being drafted by the late Senator Kennedy. The NEA hates NCLB.

    During the last 3 years my wife and I went to the 3 local high schools in our area and talked to about 200 current and former students. Additionally, we talked to about 50 teachers working there and at a few private schools. We evaluated these 3 schools as failures and moved to a different county. None of these schools lacked funding but it was a combination of lack luster teachers, substandard testing, and poorly motivated students.

    I pay a great deal of property taxes and income taxes. I don’t see the Dept. of Education as a successful agency and should be abolished. Education should be a local/state issue and the federal government should leave it at that. We can’t keep throwing money at education and hope that something sticks.

  • Ellen Dibble

    The oil industry is very important to Louisiana, and I have seen documentaries (FrontLine? Sixty Minutes?) over the years showing communities where everyone was sick from the effects of industries — refineries??), but anyway the southern states have so many employees in the industry that they are between a rock and a hard place. Clean environment hasn’t been their theme song. I refer back to a post at 11:00 AM by Cornelia Carrier who points this out. If you want to blame, don’t forget the states themselves. Oil has been gold for them:

    She wrote in part: “I was the environmental writer for The Times-Picayune in the seventies and believe me Louisiana must take most of the blame for the oil industry’s environmental destruction of its coast (before this spill). I covered the state regulatory agencies that were a joke. They could have stopped the Corps of Engineers from granting permits to dredge canals and destroy the wetlands, but I cannot think of one instance where agencies protested. They gave the oil industry every thing it wanted.
    “I also think Mr. Brinkley is ignoring the outcry from the port industry if the levees were to be cut and the dredging stopped. After all the shipping in the ports of New Orleans and Baton Rouge is dependent on the Mississippi River channel.
    “I was the first one to write about the wetland loss along Louisiana’s coast and that loss and this oil spill breaks my heart. However, spending a fortune to restore these wetlands without a strong bill to address global warming is a waste of time and money. The whole are will be underwater with sea level rise.”

    Actually that’s all of it. She thinks it’s enough to say it once. I’m not so sure.


    I don’t have to explain myself Again and Again like a broken LP record.

    You read my Findings and reasons Why I am supporting BP.

    I know BP is reading all our comments.

    Broaden your mind don’t be so narrow minded about the problems. Look at the destruction it is only DAY 57 OF The Oil Spill and thousands of businesses are already affected or should I say destroyed.

    Again if you don’t support BP and BOYCOTT their products like Castol Engine Oil. you destroyed the future of American workers who are working for BP, the many many victims of the oil spill.


    Open your BRAIN and be

  • peter nelson

    I lived in Singapore, Japan and Hong Kong during the last 30 years. I compare what I saw there teaching English and interacting with those students and their school system to what I see here. Some of the most successful students come from Asia. That is my metric.

    That’s not a metric, it’s a subjective, personal impression!!

    Please get serious. Dollars and cents are objective, measurable quantities, and we have no right to go to taxpayers and demand dollars and cents to educate their children unless we are willing to commit to objective, measurable results.

    Especially if we go and ask for 10% more money, taxpayers have every right to demand 10% better results. So we need to way(s) to measure how well educated kids are when they graduate or advance grades.

    I agree Asian students are better but I don’t think it’s the schools; I think it’s the culture. Fortune Magazine ran an article on American-Asian students where they compared how much time they spent at the mall or watching TV or doing homework compared to white students. It was pretty lopsided.

  • peter nelson

    Again if you don’t support BP and BOYCOTT their products like Castol Engine Oil. you destroyed the future of American workers who are working for BP,

    As I explained, productive American BP workers have nothing to worry about – they’ll be snapped up by competitors, because overall US oil consumption won’t change so all that work will still need to get done.

    And thanks for the tip on Castrol – I didn’t know they were BP – I’ll put them on my boycott list.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Akilez, are you saying BP is “too big to fail”? If they sink, the pension funds of millions will sink, and many of those with jobs in and secondary to BP will lose those jobs?
    This is the argument for not letting the car companies go bust. This is the argument for not letting the banks go bust. Status quo. Don’t budge it. Our way of life is going down the tubes, but are we going to adjust ourselves so this doesn’t happen? No. We’ll let Pearl Harbor take place without mobilizing to answer the call. Right now the call is to get the corporatocracy with their quarterly bottom line off our backs. We don’t pay them taxes, but we lose our fine planet and livable climate to them and their interests.
    We lose jobs all the time anyway. We gain jobs all the time anyway. A new economy can also generate jobs, profits, and taxes paid by one and all.
    And BP can adjust so as to provide clean energy. They can start using their profits to build big trunk lines for carrying energy. They can start using their profits for turbines. Would you rather have Cape Wind or whatever it’s called, the acres of windmills off Cape Cod? Or would you rather have drilling rigs out on the horizon. I would rather have the windmills, thank you very much. And human beings build those also. There should be a Jones Act that requires that they be built here in the US — by anyone with the resources to get us started. Or is that an uncivil idea?

  • peter nelson

    I know BP is reading all our comments.

    Oh dream on! Do you think anybody actually reads this drivel? I don’t think anybody reads this stuff except for the regulars here: you, me, jeffe, Ellen, JP, etc, plus a handful of other people who pop in and out randomly.

  • http://wwwfilipinoboston.blogspot.com AKILEZ

    Ellen Dibble I like you because you are so smart and have a great Emotional Intelligence you just answer your own emotional questions. Thank you

    Peter Nelson as I said it is your choice but I hope your boycott will last for 2 to 3 decades and tell the American workers for BP and the victims of the oil spill.

    Good night and Good Luck!!!

  • William

    Peter Nelson – We are getting off topic, but what is the average American perception of the education system in America? Good? Bad? I would say bad. Perceptions matter, my experience with education systems in Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong matter. How many educators have been overseas and worked with successful education systems? Few at best…it’s all about the money. We have been told for decades that “give us more money and Johnny will go to Harvard”. It’s not happening.

    On Topic – Leadership – President Obama, like all liberals, does not want to downsize or rightsize the Federal Government agencies. They feel, wrongly, that the answer to problems is always bigger government, more regulations, higher taxes. This mindset did not prevent 9-11, Bernie Madoff, and the housing mess.

    If President Obama wanted to show some true leadership he should make the tough call and rightsize the government. Look at IBM for guidance. Thirty years ago they started to rightsize their company which ment for the first time, layoffs, and they are a stronger company today.

    It’s time to realize bigger government is not working. MMS is just another government agency that failed. They are in lockstep with the SEC, Fannie Mae, Medicare, Dept. of Education. Too big.

  • Michael

    “AKILEZ still hasn’t explained why he’s so sympathetic to BP. I still think he either works for them or owns a lot of BP stock”

    She stated in last weeks friday’s post,that her 403b in fidelity holds a great share in BP.

    Your answer to your question about Akilez relationship to BP is money. Instead of trying to change,divert, or move funds away from BP or Fidelity for that matter if there not doing so already she wishs for us Tax Payers to pay for BP. Must be that emotional intelligences or self interest.

  • peter nelson

    It’s time to realize bigger government is not working. MMS is just another government agency that failed.

    Obviously, but you seem to like trading in vague handwaving, like dodging my question about educational metrics, and here you talk about “rightsizing” as the solution to regulatory failures. So what exactly would a “rightsized” scheme to prevent problems like the BP spill (blowout prevention and remediation) look like?

    For God’s sake this time please to to be specific.

  • peter nelson

    She stated in last weeks friday’s post,that her 403b in fidelity holds a great share in BP.

    Your answer to your question about Akilez relationship to BP is money. Instead of trying to change,divert, or move funds away from BP or Fidelity for that matter if there not doing so already she wishs for us Tax Payers to pay for BP.

    Thanks – I didn’t even know AKILEZ was a “she”.

    The stock market is not for the faint-of-heart. I’m in the stock market all day (that’s often what I do between posts here), and I often trade oil and gas companies. But I would never ever develop an emotional attachment to a company, or for that matter, own so much stock in one company that a huge blunder like this would have a big affect on my portfolio. Despite what the Supremes said, I don’t think of corporations as people. Their value to me is based on how much money I can suck out of them. Period.

  • JohnP

    We have had the Department of Energy for 32 years now. Did you know it was set up to eliminate the US dependence on foreign oil.

    How has it done?

    What have we gotten for this huge investment?

    The DOE Budget this year is $44 billion.

    Should we continue to fund the DOE considering its accomplishments?

  • peter nelson

    All we get from Obama is platitudes and blame-shifting. This is leadership? This guy is a complete and utter joke, on us. While oil spilled he’s been on vacation and doing fundraisers for incumbent dolts. We all know Hillary was ready on day one. This guy’s learning on the job and he’s a slow learner.

    What do you think he should do?

    Anyway, today BP emerged from the meeting with Obama agreeing not only to the $20bn escrow, but also to suspend their quarterly dividend! I’ll give Obama some credit for that.

  • Brett

    Ellen Dibble, from 3:09p,

    Yeah, when large corporations move in to economically challenged areas where there has been poor community planning and short-sighted growth goals, or where a community has already been dependent on only one or two industries (and those industries have dried up or are drying up), the proposition becomes a kind of economic blackmail. The corporations begin to monopolize the communities economically.

    As with the picture I was painting in a forum from another program (I think it was on “gray divorce”), I see large, corporate strangleholds on certain southern areas; I’m sure it happens in rural areas all over the country, particularly in areas where some untapped natural resources exist. My experience is that the citizenry in those areas sell themselves out and become angry mobs toward those who suggest better long-term vision, whether it be politicians, environmentalists, or more progressive citizenry.

    As far as Louisiana, I am much more sympathetic and empathetic toward fisherman, restaurant owners, hotel and motel owners, charter boat captains, etc., then I am displaced oil-rig workers during the six-month moratorium on off-shore drilling. I think the drilling moratorium is prudent, particularly after hearing about the disaster “response plans” during the hearings yesterday that all of the oil companies have in place. If, in the interim period, a complete evaluation and revamping of such plans and better oversight can be implemented then the moratorium will be worth it. Of course, if this doesn’t happen (and I have no reason to believe there will be any substantive changes in procedures and protocols in off-shore drilling), then the moratorium will prove to be little more than a political stunt.

    What I don’t hear from politicians who sound the foul bull horn over lost jobs during the moratorium are very pointed questions with a lot of specificity about what will be done during this moratorium to improve measures that ensure safe operation of off-shore rigs. If I were a politician in areas affected by the moratorium I’d be asking some pretty tough questions, and I’d want some very direct and well-planned answers beyond platitudes. Even Julia Reed on today’s program kept beating the drum about how wrong the moratorium is. This seems more like political pandering than a problem-solving mode to me. Politicians, as well as writers such as Julia Reed, could really plant the seeds to hold a lot of feet to the fire over this moratorium, but I don’t see that. I see a lot of political wrangling, populism and short-sighted demands.

    I feel through this disaster, through adversity, could be the incipience of great change…I see too little desire, though, to relinquish power and money from large corporations (and too little courage from politicians), and I see too many communities where the citizens don’t give a rat’s ass about the environmental and economic impact of corporate America.

  • Ellen Dibble

    I don’t know about Fidelity, but I have funds with TIAA-CREF and Northwest Mutual, and I specify socially responsible, burn up inside because what I mean by that isn’t what they mean by it, and then I forget about it. I know that I have to have money invested because we are always getting fleeced by corporations, and some of that fleece is in their profits. Insurance companies’ profits? I want my share. I NEED my share. Bank corporation profits? I want my share. I NEED my share or how am I going to pay the interest on my loans. And when those big institutions are sort of under the gun for lobbying their way into being sort of dysfunctional for the Common Weal, then I trust the investors with those establishments where my monies are. They have to decide whether to divest from BP or whether to short them (betting on BP stock falling or something like that). They have to decide all these things. And I figure I’ll weigh in here and leave it to the fund managers to “do their thing” and let the chips fall where they may.
    Who do I think reads this? Apparently some of the staff at WBUR, see Mr. Wihbey’s post above. However, I try to write as if anyone had access to it (which anyone does). It’s good practice. Maybe someday it’ll matter that I have sort of organized my point of view, and sort of know how it splashes up against that of others.

  • Rachel

    Well Les – I have reduced the amount of resources I use. I take a train to work which is less pressure on the environment than driving. I walk – which isn’t fun during the winter in Chicago, but I’m thin as a result so there is a payoff. I’m a vegetarian and have been for 18 years. I carry a reusable shopping bag. I recycle. My car is 12 years old with less than 85,000 miles on it. I have no intention of procreating. So I try to do my part. Am I perfect – hell no! I’m using resources just like everyone else, but I’m not sitting on my arse pointing fingers at the government – which last time I checked is made up of elected officials.

    BP delivers cheap oil to the USA and we gobble it up like a bunch of ravenous addicts. Humans in America uses way more resources than humans anywhere else in the world. So take a good long look in the mirror. We don’t want to pay $8 a gallon for gas etc…and we either can’t or haven’t found an alternative. Catastrophes are going to happen as long as we are depending on cheap dirty energy.

  • William

    peter nelson – You seem hung up on the process of the evaluating the education system according to some beaucratic domain or classroom theory. The results of many studies show our education system is failing when compared to most Western countries.
    Rightsizing the government? Identify what is a federal responsiblity and what is a state or local responsibility.
    MMS? – Start by putting an engineer in charge of this agency and not a lawyer.
    What was the most recent risk assessment done on the procedure(s) that led to the blowout. An engineer from USC suggested it was a failure to follow established proceedures.

    The Deepwater Royalty Relief Act (DWRRA), signed into law by President Clinton in 1995, was intended to encourage natural gas and oil development in the Gulf of Mexico in waters at least 200 meters (656 feet) deep by offering royalty relief on qualifying natural gas and oil lease sales. Would it had been smarter to encourage drilling in ANWAR vice the Gulf of Mexico?

  • TomK

    William, I don’t care about the department of education. I think it’s just another bureaucracy, but why are we talking about it? Looking for a diversion? Deepwater is a failure of the MMS, which is staffed by bush-cheney types who believe the best policy is to get out of the way and let the corporations do whatever they want. Deepwater is no different from the economic crash. We had years of the idiot Greenspan at Fed who believed financial corporations would “self regulate” (a 10 yr old knows that’s wrong!!), and Cox at SEC who also believed the best regulation was to get out of the way. We had the congress abolishing glass-stegall and mandating that derivatives would be unregulated. During Katrina, “Brownie”, the head of FEMA, was the unqualified former college roommate of a GoP activist. In the gulf and in the economy, we got what the right asked for

    Do you realize that the right has mostly been in charge for 1980-2008? From the “contract with America” of the extreme Gingrich congress to Bush raising limits on leverage by investment banks, it’s been nothing but cut taxes and deregulate. Taxes are near historic lows and regulations have been shredded. If you don’t like the current system, don’t whine about liberals. We didn’t have real power till 2008. It’s your mess.

  • Scott T.

    Great guests! What a treat to hear Naomi Klein and Doug Brinkley on the same show. Bravo! Other NPR programs simply gather insipid reporters parroting the corporate or establishment point of view.

    I too was disappointed in the President’s speech. Jimmy Carter’s energy speech remains unsurpassed for its bravery and foresight. If Obama is unwilling to call for a carbon tax now, with the carnage of the Gulf before him, and the budget bleeding red, then when? Without that, there IS no energy policy.

  • http://www.lit.org/author/fritzwilliam F.William Bracy

    JohnP & his ill-informed friends have been kicking this around:

    I am glad you agree with me that theory’s (sic) are not facts!

    I’ve read this several times now, and I simply cannot let it go unanswered.

    Learn something about the Scientific Method before you blow off. In the Scientific Method, there are THREE PEER REVIEW stages through which empirical evidence must pass on its way to becoming LAW. The first is the PROPOSITION stage. The second is the HYPOTHESIS stage. The third is the THEORY stage. Once someone says, “I POSIT” that (such and such) is the way (this or that) works, the process toward becoming LAW is a long and careful one.

    Have you ever heard of the PYTHAGOREAN THEOREM? It’s only about 1,200 years old now, I’m guessing, and would you suppose that there are people out there who DOUBT it’s a LAW?

    “Well is it a law or isn’t it,” you ask. Of course it’s a law! And just to nail home the point, theory is not junk science — theory is excellent science. A theory has passed two stages of peer review and stands at the threshold of becoming a law.

    Poor Pythagoras. All this time without reaching his dream and having his genius validated by the world. Oh well, maybe in another thousand years or so.

    Do you think it could be a conspiracy?

  • peter nelson

    peter nelson – You seem hung up on the process of the evaluating the education system according to some beaucratic domain or classroom theory.

    Where did I say that? All I said is that dollars and cents are objective numbers so we need equally objective numbers to evaluate whether we get our money’s worth. If you spend 10% more money how do know whether you get 10% better performance?

    MMS? – Start by putting an engineer in charge of this agency and not a lawyer.

    Do you have any background at all in business? Do realize how many successful Fortune 500 companies are being run by people who do NOT have domain-specific backgrounds? Do you understand the role of the top executive in a company or government agency?

    The job of the executive is not to make the technical decisions; it’s to make the management decisions. MMS did not fail because the previous head had no technical background; it failed because a lack of proper management resulted in corruption and people not doing their jobs.

    And anyway, if you are referring to Bromwich, his job is just to oversee the reorg and agency cleanup, which he has good experience with. According to Oil and Gas Journal (June 16) . . .

    Michael R. Bromwich, who currently leads the internal investigations, compliance, and monitoring practice at the Fried Frank law firm in Washington and New York, will oversee MMS’s reorganization to eliminate conflicts among the agency’s different missions and ensure there is no conflict of interest, real or perceived, in its oil and gas industry oversight.

    “For a decade or more, the cozy relationship between the oil companies and the federal agency overseeing them was allowed to go unchecked,” the president said on June 15 as he announced the appointment hours before delivering his first televised address from the Oval Office. “That allowed drilling permits to be issued in exchange not for safety plans, but assurances of safety from oil companies. That cannot and will not happen any more.”

  • Rachel

    Well Jimmy Carter was a leader – not a politician. And he also didn’t get re-elected because us Americans decided it was better to follow Regan’s idea of becoming huge consumers – although I was too young to vote in that election – it is still our fault. We don’t want to sacrifice and when our politicians ask us to we vote them out of office.

  • William

    TomK – Looking back is always easy so President Clinton should not have signed the repeal of Glass–Steagall. To his credit Senator John McCain tried to get it back in 2009. Paul Volcker said to bring back parts of it, then later in 2010 said not too.

    The larger question is why Goldman-Sachs seems to be getting away with billions. They are also scheduled to be the trading desk for any “carbon trading” scam if enacted by the government.

    President Bush was too liberal with spending and made a huge mistake by taking 5 million lower income people off the tax rolls. He did manage to increase money coming into the government with cuts in capital gains. Which was the same economic policy that JFK used back in the early 1960′s.

    President Obama does not appoint liberal activists? Who was Van Jones? Did ACORN receive money for “neighborhood stabilization activities.” A recent Supreme Court Justice did not make some remark about latino women being wiser than whites? Is there some dirt on this “Safe Schools Czar” Kevin Jennings?

  • peter nelson

    TomK says Deepwater is no different from the economic crash.

    Exactly. I wish the liberals would do a better job getting this message across. Our regulatory agencies were staffed with people who fundamentally don’t believe in regulation! I wish I could just blame the GOP for this, but this revolving door between industry and government was/is true with Clinton and Obama, too (Geitner, for example, or Larry Summer’s relationship with Citigroup).

    We have plenty of examples both from earlier in our own history and other countries that regulation works fine when it’s staffed by people who are dedicated to the mission of protecting the public and resourced appropriately.

    All the conservatives here who keep complaining that government regulation CAN’T POSSIBLY work keep ducking the question of what the alternative is.

  • William

    Peter Nelson – The idea of anyone can manage any company has pretty much been put to bed with the demise of the American car companies. For generations, GM was led by anyone but people with a background in engineering. They were all “numbers guys”. Most likely goes back to McNamare and his “whiz kids” at Ford. Did that produce good cars or bad cars?
    Did McNamare do a bang up job at DoD during the Vietnam War?
    The long term managers are the best. Especially if they have a background in the area that the company is involved with.
    Why did Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Gordon E. Moore do so well with their companies? They had a passion for their companies and were well qualified. This lawyer trying to manage MMS? Do you think he will stick around for a few years or just fire some people and move on?

  • William

    Peter Nelson – Who was held accountable in government for 9-11?

  • Marc

    I didn’t vote for Obama (or McCain). Thought Obama was too inexperienced, among other problems. However, I was inclined to give him a pass on the Gulf even though I think he’s been a failure in most other areas. I don’t expect the federal government to be nimble enough to deal with situations like this. I gave a pass to Bush too for Katrina for the same reasons though I believe Bush was generally incompetent. However, this has gotten so big, so visible and gone on for so long that I’m now thinking Obama is a poor leader. I contrast him with Giuliani, John Kennedy, or Romney. I have confidence that they knew what to do in an emergency (though having met Giuliani, his arrogance is beyond belief) Obama’s just never had the experience in emergencies and the presidency shouldn’t be a training ground. I don’t think he knows how to make decisions when there is so much competing advice. And he may not be bright enough to do so.

  • David

    I loved Obama, but I now have rhetoric fatigue. Talk is cheap. This guy turns out to be soft and small.

  • peter nelson

    The idea of anyone can manage any company has pretty much been put to bed with the demise of the American car companies

    Great data. 3 companies out of 500.

    Anyway, since you sound like a conservative how would you rate Ronald Reagan WRT how his past experience prepared him for being governor of California or President of the US?

    This lawyer trying to manage MMS? Do you think he will stick around for a few years or just fire some people and move on?

    His job is to oversee the cleanup of MMS so I don’t expect him to stick around. Who (specifically – name names) do you think they should pick to clean the agency up?

    Who was held accountable in government for 9-11?

    Nobody. What’s your point? Who do you think should be held accountable, and what process do you suggest to hold them accountable?

  • Mar

    What a wonderful panel! Thank you so much, On Point.

    I have so many problems with Obama’s speech that I could not begin to dissect them. I’m so emotionally spent at this point. Like millions my stress level has been off the charts for weeks. The absence of a passionate resolve or satisfying reaction tells me more than enough about how little Obama gets it. And I agree: his failure to consistently address and make mention of wildlife or ecology alarms me greatly. Was none of this important enough to include in last night’s “big speech?” I don’t know one animal/earth lover who can bear this feeling of helplessness. So for the one man who CAN control much of the overall rescue and response, for him to choose to bypass or push aside this distress and heartbreak…Huuuge disconnect there. Unforgivable one. I don’t require tear, but I do require heart. And not just for people.

  • David

    So far your guest have given us nothing but opinions. I would like to know how they would do better?

  • thomas brody

    Turned on today’s show for just a few minutes. It was when a man called up and said NASA should be contacted to cap the BP oil leak. I can’t remember exactly what was said, but someone said Obama is not exercising his full power as the head of the free world. I was so moved by the sense of outrage & I give Tom Ashbrook tremendous credit for promoting that kind of dialogue. Alas, I don’t believe Obama was listening. Is there any way to make sure the president hears that segment of the show? Thanks.

  • Ellen Dibble

    I think Obama is smart enough to know he needs smart and experienced advisors, ones who know “where the bodies are buried,” and how to dig them up, so to speak. How does a president manage to bring on board such a team, when government service pays a pittance compared to the corporate higher echelons? How can a person hold their head up if they are making government wages when they could multiply their income by working in the private corporate world?
    I ask you. It is because of the revolving door. Once you have connections with the Seats of Power in Washington, you become a more valuable commodity in the private corporate world. Your resume looks a whole lot juicier. You could be expected to have your phone calls answered in this commission or that senatorial office — by someone significant.
    Oh, is that a form of corruption? Not exactly. But it does mean that certain interests, certain lobbies, have a big advantage, and not necessarily because of special aptitude or breadth and depth of experience. They have “connections.” If you know what I mean.
    A solution to this revolving door situation, and the incredibly influential situation of monied interests in Washington, would be a world in which CEO’s are not paid multiples of what their own regulator is being paid. They can play the regulator for a patsy this way, despise him/her or manipulate him/her. If the regulator used to actually BE the CEO of the regulated entity, you have a different situation. No despicable patsy now. But someone whose interests are heavily influenced from within that group.
    I can’t see the government workers and regulators getting a whole lot more pay anytime soon. So the solution would have to be the CEO’s getting less in the way of emoluments.
    Someone smarter than I am will have to solve that. Government as the handmaiden of the plutocrats. Plutocrats playing for quarterly profits on behalf of stockholders (pensioners). I think it’s the stockholders who can cure this. Somebody has to. One must declare that we won’t have profits if that money is contributing to polluting and roasting the planet. There are other ways of making profits. Just as we said to South Africa: We are divesting; we don’t want profits from apartheid. Just as we decided not to make profits from slavery. It wasn’t a decision that brought us together. It caused a Civil War and huge loss of life. But in the end, we “decided” to forgo the profits from having slave labor. We won the right to “clean” labor. Put it like that. We might have to fight again for the right to clean energy. We don’t have the photos of darkies in chains, because the damage in this case is projected down the road. It is deniable. So.

  • Cody

    the president can indeed tell bp what to do – bp can either oblige or choose not to of course, but he does have that power – after all, he’s the head of one of the most powerful nations in the world.

    in fact he should exercise this option more often.

    in the event he chooses to indulge in this right, we have congress and the judicial branch to keep him in line.

  • Ellen Dibble

    thomas brody, anyone can go to the White House web site and click Contact Us. Send a link to this show, or cite it, tell them why they should care. You’ll reach a whole floor of young kids who run the Administration web goings-on, not the Administration or the President. But there’s no law against telling them. Feel free. Sometimes I think David Axelrod should listen up — today for instance; it seems to me he might be one filter of things to Obama; however insular they may be, a lot depends on their being able to “read” opinion and sift through advice of the voting populace, and polls have their limitations.

  • peter nelson

    David says: I loved Obama, but I now have rhetoric fatigue. Talk is cheap. This guy turns out to be soft and small.

    Just out of curiosity, what SHOULD he do?

  • Todd

    “Our regulatory agencies were staffed with people who fundamentally don’t believe in regulation! I wish I could just blame the GOP for this, but this revolving door between industry and government was/is true with Clinton and Obama, too”
    Posted by peter nelson

    So true! The problem is NOT, per se, a lack of regulation; rather, it is too much of the WRONG kind of regulation. When Congress and government administrators allow the REGULATIONS to be written largely by those subject to being REGULATED (a la corporate lobbyists), then regulation becomes little more than a tool for corporations to create loopholes to avoid accountability. It’s like giving Al Capone free-rein to write the criminal code.

    Absolutely, this is a direct result of the “revolving door” between industry and government. Ironically, I’m sure somewhere out there is a lobbyist who helped write whatever toothless regulation that’s on the books that’s supposed to regulate this revolving door so these conflicts of interest don’t happen! And the wheel goes ’round and ’round…

  • peter nelson

    It was when a man called up and said NASA should be contacted to cap the BP oil leak.

    NASA? What does aeronautics and space have to do with this? Are you sure he didn’t say Nassau (like in the Bahamas where they have lots of dive sites and boats) 8-)

    Is this what it’s come to? Obama’s supposed to get on the phone and start cold-calling random high IQ creative people? “Hello? Mr Jobs? I’m sorry to bother you in the middle of your iPhone 4 product release – uh yes, I’ll have one of my staff order one … uh, listen, this is Barak Obama, President of the United States . . . uh no they won’t let me have an iPad yet … they took away my Blackberry … uh yes it would be a great teleprompter for speeches .. . listen I wanted to ask you if you could help us with a little problem … uh, no, I didn’t realize there was an app for campaign contributions … no, you see our problem is in the Gulf of Mexico . . . . . “

  • Todd

    “in the event he chooses to indulge in this right, we have congress and the judicial branch to keep him in line.”
    Posted by Cody

    I agree, in theory. But, in practice, the Legislative and Judicial branches of government haven’t had the cojones to properly exercise their powers of checks and balances against the Executive for so long that they’ve forgotten what they are. Besides, in a political environment where the mantra is “Party before country,” the only thing that these political puppets are “checking and balancing” are their toes on the party line.

  • david

    Never let a good crisis go to waste,,,
    Mr. Obama used the Oval Office as a platform to blame once again, quess who, for the oil spill and tried hard to create a patriotic tone that failed.
    Nearly 60 days into this mess and he finally meets face to face with BP.
    His meeting produced what was already agreed on by BP in their TV ads, “we are responsible and we we pay!”
    20 Billion in aide set aside to help, overseen by a independent group, Obama’s pay Czar. Hope this does not become a slush fund!!
    The speech, political in meaning, used this disaster to push his Energy bill and Cap and Tax.
    Forty years ago I did a term paper in College on Alternative Energy Sources. The same stuff was being suggested then as now. The results the same, the cost of clean energy remains far more expensive than fossil fuels. A baby must learn to crawl before it can walk.
    Feasible alternative energy is still down the road.
    Who will benefit the most from Obama’s energy bill, the people, the government, maybe someone else????
    Solve this disaster first, not an agenda!!

  • Margaret Lamb

    Worth a look:

    Subject: Fw: Henning Kemner video: no crude coming out of “spill” – THIS IS WHAT THEY DON’T WANT US TO SEE

    Just got this from a friend. A lot of people have wondered why the half hearted attempts to either salvage or contain the crude oil in the gulf? Why no effort to use microbe technology to mitigate the damage? Is it because there is very little crude oil to be found in this disaster? Is it because crude oil IS NOT THE PROBLEM? I have been troubled by the fact that there is a lot of white (steam?) yellow (Sulphur?) and red (iron ore?) in the plumes coming up from the sea floor. Maybe Mr. Kemner is right. There is very little oil because these malicious fools have pierced the magma level of the earth and created a volcano. That would also account for the high concentration of toxic gases such as hydrogen sulphide. Other evidence to support this conclusion is found in the high pressure at the well head. Typically an artesian well would show about 1000 to 1500 psi. But according to numerous experts and as confirmed by Reverend Lindsey Williams this well head pressure is at least 20,000 psi and may be as high as 70,000 psi.

    If Mr. Kemner is correct we can expect famine worldwide. This is not just an American/British problem. This is a global catastrophe…..

    Subject: Henning Kemner video: no crude coming out of “spill” – THIS IS WHAT THEY DON’T WANT US TO SEE
    Date: Tue, 15 Jun 2010 03:59:28 -0700 (PDT)



  • william

    Peter Nelson – It would take some research, but I would have to think INTC/AAPL/MSFT have created more wealth, jobs, than most companies in the Fortune 500.

    IRT R.Reagan – I’m not a history buff on him and I think he was the type of leader the founding fathers would want to lead the nation. He did not have the experience that FDR had, but he did not make as many mistakes as FDR did either.

    MMS Managment – I would outsource it to Schlumberger and have them report to the Dept. of Interior. Give Schlumberger the authority to hire/fire as needed.

    9-11 – I would have directed the AG to see if the directors of the NSA, CIA and FBI violated any federal laws by not preventing the 9-11 attack. At the very least I would have fired them and a lot of their career staff.

    I assume you are a progressive. So do you think obama and his staff have adopted the JFK “management by crisis” style of leadership?

  • Ellen Dibble

    Margaret, haven’t there been volcanos under the oceans before? Earthquakes and volcanos?
    Why on earth would they be talking about relief wells — two of them, to build in redundancy — if that… Well, Henning Kemner said it would spout until it is spent, and I guess if it has more outlets, it will spew through more outlets.
    Hasn’t anyone done a test on the contents of this spill? The dispersant used presumably would work on crude oil but not sulfur (yellow) or ferrous compounds (red) or whatever the white is.
    I’ve been thinking if we all sent our hair down south as recommended to help absorb the oil, then no one would be able to do DNA testing for any crime along the beaches for a long, long time. All our DNA would be everywhere. But now I’m thinking of the DNA of this plume. I have thought of it as a volcano from the beginning, as a bleeding of the earth, reminding us of its mortality. Better to leave the oil where it is. I don’t know if Kemner is an oil man. He says in Denmark they do natural gas, not crude oil. He sets out fears, not certainties.
    But I do believe there have surely been non-made-made volcanoes in the ocean. So.

  • informed American

    When are you liberals going to admit that the “Community Organizer” has absolutely no idea what he is doing? The rest of the world can see it.

  • Michael

    Whats funny is we got these Con/Rep criticizing obama for not meeting with the head of BP, yet tomorrow will be criticizing obama for meeting with the head of BP.

    These folks preach government is bad and can’t do anything and ask for others to vote for them. Logic dictates that they have to do a bad job in office otherwise people wouldn’t believe them when they say regulations and oversight are bad.

    Imagine someone applying for a private sector CEO or high level jobs stating i belive your company can’t do anything right and once in i will prove it and make sure it fails so i can outsources certain parts of your company to my buddies business. Yet you hear this logic all the time with Con/Rep.

    “Can’t get out of 2 wars cause it wouldn’t be supporting the troops” “oh hell no I’m not paying for those wars” “don’t raise my taxes”

    Or the
    “We need to cut our budget” how? tax cuts there pay for themselves. (We all saw how that turned out with Reagan,Bush Sr, and Bush)

    ” Fed Taxes are to high” Than when you prove to them it’s simply not true they cry more “taxes are to high”

    40% don’t pay taxes, simply not true since we pay taxes on about everything, and taxes are taken out of our checks each week that we have no entitlement to get back, nor if you got back all the taxes you paid, that you still got back less due to interest since it would be considered a interest free loan to the government.


    “No regulations or very little cause the market will always fix itself”

    Than they cry about how a company got to big and needs to get bailed out.

    “So what if theirs a open door policy between regulators and the companies they’re supposed to watch”

    Than when it turns out a company F@ up and we have a oil spill that can’t be contain they cry about WHY or WHY is the government not Helping” If obama took over BP on day one they be calling him a socialist,tyrant and blah blah blah and if those methods didn’t work if obama took over it be the same crap that government doesn’t work and BP would have done better. So obama took the smarter path and they still whine.

    Bottom-line folks, you gut a regulator, you gut regulations, you appoint people who do not believe in following regulations sooner or later something is going to hit the fan, By electing people who state the government should fail your electing someone whose goal(if they wish to keep there ideology going) is to make government fail you.

    Also don’t forget some of this same people pushing for war with Iran would probably go manic if you raised taxes to pay for it.

  • http://www.elsie.brandeis.edu Seth Fraden

    The worst spill in the Gulf was the Ixtoc I spill in 1979-1980 in which 140 million gallons of oil entered the Gulf. By all accounts the area recovered significantly in 2-3 years. Is there any reason to expect a difference with this spill, which is estimated to be a similar amount? Perhaps Tom would to do a show on the aftermath of Ixtoc I? I hope he will focus on the marine biology of recovery, but also touch on the political and economic aspects, as well as what lessons from Ixtoc I apply to this spill.

    Read this article on Ixtoc I. The facts make sense and give credibility to the conclusions reached by the author; the press and the President are overplaying this crisis.


  • Barbara

    Is any consideration for costs of cleaning oil from bird wildlife and marine life, and costs for continuing recovery maintenance for these creatures be included in the escrow fund BP is providing? If more photo coverage was given showing the devastating effects on these creatures and how many have suffered or died horribly, I believe a larger public outcry would be made. I have seen little on this aspect of the crisis and have to go searching to get an idea of what is going on regarding the impact on marine and bird life.

  • peter nelson

    There is very little oil because these malicious fools have pierced the magma level of the earth and created a volcano

    OMG, this means we’ve angered the Mole People!!! The only way to appease them now is to make an offering to their High Priest Elinu (played by Alan Napier, who many people don’t realize was Neville Chamberlain’s cousin) I suggest Tony Hayward.

  • don wallace

    Gorelick to Head BP Congressional Team

    The dems and libs are deeply involved with BP. Don’t let the posters on this site fool you into thinking otherwise.

  • peter nelson

    The worst spill in the Gulf was the Ixtoc I spill in 1979-1980 in which 140 million gallons of oil entered the Gulf. By all accounts the area recovered significantly in 2-3 years. Is there any reason to expect a difference with this spill, which is estimated to be a similar amount?

    Some estimates say that the BP spill has already surpassed Ixtoc (Ixtoc was 480,000 tons – estimates for the BP spill so far range from 400,000-720,000 tons.

    But the other thing you have to take into account is how environmentally sensitive the coastal environment is, and also the commercial value of the businesses and properties affected along the southern US coast from LA-FL (and maybe including TX, and islands in the Caribbean).

    It would be great if the damage was less than people think and everything recovered quickly but not far from here we have a counterexample. In 2003 the oil barge Bouchard sprung a leak and discharged 100,000 gallons of #6 oil into Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts and today many of the shellfish beds have STILL not recovered.

  • Christine

    One day later, same old thing. The moratorium does not apply to several deep water rigs, including the 2nd largest in the world, the BP Atlantis. Salazar and the MMS are running the same show behind the scenes.

  • peter nelson

    I would outsource it to Schlumberger and have them report to the Dept. of Interior. Give Schlumberger the authority to hire/fire as needed.

    Brilliant. One oil company caused the problem so we give another company in the oil industry (Schlumberger is a major oil and gas services company) oversight. No conflict of interest there! Keep in mind that Schlumberger directly competes with Halliburton, which is one of the companies being investigated. No conflict of interest there, either.

    I own stock in a lot of oil and gas companies – at one time or another I’ve owned HAL and SLB – and I think very few people would judge your idea even vaguely sane.

  • peter nelson

    One day later, same old thing. The moratorium does not apply to several deep water rigs, including the 2nd largest in the world, the BP Atlantis. Salazar and the MMS are running the same show behind the scenes.

    The moratorium only applies to NEW drilling – the BP Atlantis is an operational rig.

    Given how many conservatives here have been squealing like stuck pigs about the 6 month moratorium on new drilling, can you IMAGINE the outcry we’d have if they shut down ALL offshore oil operations?

    That said, BP Atlantis has a lot in common with Deepwater Horizon, starting with the BP part.

  • peter nelson

    Margaret, haven’t there been volcanos under the oceans before? Earthquakes and volcanos?

    If there’s no oil because it’s really an undersea volcano then what is all that stuff washing ashore? Lava?

    Good grief.

  • Chris

    “Rich conservatives don’t pay taxes to begin with, ”

    The “wealthy” pay most of the taxes in this country, whether liberal or conservative. Please don’t distort the truth.

  • jeffe

    SIR – Who gave BP licence to drill in the Gulf? Americans. Who taxes BP on the oil it recovers? Americans. Who uses the oil that BP recovers? Americans. Who made the equipment that failed? Americans. Who owns 40 per cent of BP? Americans. Yet somehow it’s all our fault.

    J. B. Cronin
    Chelmsford, Essex

    This alleged letter from GB shows me how ignorant people can be. BP, like all the oil corporations sells the oil on the open market. How this person thinks they are being blamed for it is also a sign of how much this person has been misinformed. That such a large percentage of British pensioners are invested in one company is also a problem. One has to ask why? Then they go on to mention that 40% of BP is owned by Americans.
    It seems to me that there are plenty of pension funds invested in BP in this country who have lost money and will also not get any dividends.

    I’m blaming BP not the British Public.

    Margaret Lamb wrote: “There is very little oil because these malicious fools have pierced the magma level of the earth and created a volcano”

    I saw that movie when I was a kid, “Crack In The World”.

    If there is very little oil what’s that oil like substance washing up on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico?

  • William

    Peter Nelson – “Brilliant. One oil company caused the problem so we give another company in the oil industry (Schlumberger is a major oil and gas services company) oversight.”

    So there is no “conflict of interest by having one lawyer replace another lawyer?”. President Obama said he did not want to do business as usual in DC. You have to be willing to change the “status quo” in DC. If he would outsource one Federal agency he would send a clear message to rhe rest of the Federal government “Get your act together or I’ll replace you too”.

  • Clarissa Barton

    The ignorance of the Ixtoc I incident in 1979-80 by the dems and libs is to be expected. They operate by crisis. Chaos is the partner of the liberal agenda.

  • peter nelson

    “Rich conservatives don’t pay taxes to begin with, ”

    The “wealthy” pay most of the taxes in this country, whether liberal or conservative. Please don’t distort the truth.

    In a report by Alexander Bolton, published in The Hill on Sept. 10, 2009, Warren Buffet, in a lunchtime talk last year with Democratic leaders “told lawmakers that because of the cuts to the capital gains tax passed under former President George W. Bush, he pays taxes at a lower rate than some of his company’s employees.

    It is an argument the investor has made before. Buffett said he paid a 16.5 percent tax rate on all his income because the tax rate on investment dividends and long-term capital gains is only 15 percent.”

  • peter nelosn

    You failed to defend your position on the Dept of Education. You failed to defend the idea that a private company could do a better job with MMS than the repeated failure of government workers.

    I didn’t take a position on the Dept of Education! All I said was that “by their metric their plan worked”. That’s just a statement of fact, not an endorsement of them or the metrics they used. You never went to college, did you?

    You failed to defend the idea that a private company could do a better job with MMS than the repeated failure of government workers

    Why should I defend that position? It’s YOUR position, not mine. My role is to point out why you’re wrong, which is that it’s a conflict of interest for SLB to be in that role. But you don’t know what a conflict of interest is. I’ve been an investor in oil and gas service companies for decades, I think I know a little bit more about them than you do.

    I don’t have any problem with the government contracting work out to a private company but it can’t be one with an inherent conflict of interest.

  • William

    Peter Nelson – You assumed that any company working in the oil/gas field has to not be considered due to a POSSIBLE conflict of interest. I assumed than any lawyer cannot lead MMS due to a lack of experience in gas/oil. Like President Obama said, “We cannot continue to do business as usual in the Federal Government”. In this crisis it would also mean outsource the entire agency to one of the best possible companies and let them run with it.

  • Chris

    15% of Mr. Buffet’s income is a huge amount. He is only one man. Please don’t distort the truth.

  • TomK

    William, again, you said “The liberals have misdirected the purpose of the federal government for decades.” I’m sorry, but liberals have not been in charge for decades. Starting with Reagan, the right has been calling the shots. It seems America really bought the idea that cutting taxes and deregulating was the only way to go. Even Clinton was a deregulator, and I don’t think Obama is that liberal. Obama is sort of like Mitt Romney, a moderate republican. He only looks liberal because the GoP has gone so crazy on the rightmost fringe. Look, no national health care, more perpetual war, called for more offshore drilling, doesn’t want to break up the big banks, not a single pro-labor act I can think of. Some liberal.

    Your argument might make sense in LBJ’s time, but blaming liberals after an extended period of liberal powerlessness is bizarre. You DO remember reagan, gingrich, gramm, frist, delay, greenspan, hastert, bush etc etc, right? Aren’t they the ones who have held power? You got your tax cuts and deregulation. How’s it working out for you?

  • William

    TomK – The “New Deal” expanded the role of the Federal government and it has not worked out too well. FDR was consumed with social programs and ignored defense which is one of the most important responsibilities of the Feds. We got slammed at Pearl Harbor with obsolete ships and planes being sunk or shot out of the sky.

    Many USA companies like IBM, EMC, GM, Applied Materials, etc..found themselves too big from time to time and downsize or rightsize. Why should the Federal government not be downsized?

    President Reagan did identify the problem with government but even he could not get rid of the Department of Education or Energy. Thirty years later and both of these agencies have done very little to improve our way of life compared to the amount of money they have spent. He did end the Cold War and provided President Clinton with a good peace dividend.

    President Obama is a true liberal equal to FDR. He demonstrated that last year when he took part of GM and gave it to the UAW. He made no bones about his liberal ideas with the statement “return the nation’s wealth to its rightful owners”.

    The Liberals owned Congress until 1994. Then from 1994-2006 the right had the power but spent like liberals. Pelosi took over in 2006 but spending did no slow down. President Bush’s “non-veto” of any spending bills was a boom for the left and right but accomplished very little. Every government program had its funding increased by 25 percent. It was a financial nightmare for the taxpayers.

    I do agree that President Bush should not have taken more people off the tax rolls. I think the number was 5 million people. This raised the percentage of about 45 percent of Americans not paying any Federal Income Tax. Additionally, that drug program for all seniors was another bad idea. President Bush was more liberal in his spending than most conservatives expected.

    The idea that more regulations and higher taxes are going to make my life better escapes me. We are now faced with a situation of too many people working in government and we cannot afford them all. Just recently Senator Harkin proposed another 23 billion dollar program to prevent teachers from being laid off. This is on top of the 96 billion dollars that the Dept. Of Education received last year.

    The Federal Government cannot try and solve everyone’s problems or control everything. They should get back to a smaller and more efficient size. I was surprised to hear that there were 11 different intelligence agencies but none of them prevented 9-11 from happening. President Obama and President Bush both found out how slow the federal agencies can respond in a crisis like Katrina or BP.

  • brett

    I have to say, I hear no refreshing ideas, just more of 1) history gets re-written wherein perspective (based purely on ideology) becomes fact. 2) The mantra of “because government can not solve all problems all of the time it can not solve any problems any of the time; so, therefore, privatization is the answer to all problems” gets repeated and rehashed.

  • misa

    so sad. americans have to be the dumbest people on earth, seriously.

    look folks – it’s pretty much over for that part of the world. things have been destroyed for decades and decades to come. let it all sink in. it ain’t comin back in your lifetime. that area (of the ocean) will be a dead zone and it’s our fault. make no mistake.

    it’s a shame. we americans just don’t get it. i really didn’t think (or want to believe) we were this stupid. but we are.

    btw, don’t be pissed off if you consume meat multiple times a day and drive a gas guzzler and do other petroleum seeking activities.

  • jeffe

    The “New Deal” expanded the role of the Federal government and it has not worked out too well. FDR was consumed with social programs and ignored defense which is one of the most important responsibilities of the Feds. We got slammed at Pearl Harbor with obsolete ships and planes being sunk or shot out of the sky.

    I am sorry but this comment is a complete distortion and a gross over simplification of the history. This kind of political based irresponsible dribble does you a disservice. Do you know why? Because how can anyone take a person seriously who is to lazy to google Pearl Harbor and at least have some idea of the events that lead up to Pearl Harbor. But no, you post false information hoping that the majority of people will not notice.

    The US had been aware of Japan’s military build up since the 20′s and this was heightened in the 30′s after they invaded Manchuria. The year before Pear Harbor the Japanese invaded Indochina and tensions grew between the two countries. We stopped selling oil to the Japanese along with steel, and host of other goods they depended on for their economy.

    FDR moved the Pacific Fleet to Hawaii and ordered a military buildup in the Philippines in the hope of discouraging Japanese aggression in the Far East and it was widely believed that the Japanese would invade the Philippines first.

    You are completly wrong about the US navy, we had a very large and capable naval force. If you had any real knowledge of the Pearl Harbor attack you would know that in military terms it was a failure as it did not destroy the fleet. All of the navy’s carrier task force was out at sea and this was a huge mistake made by the Japanese.
    As the battle of Midway a year latter showed. The Japan was over confident and really thought the war would be over in less than a year. They were wrong as you are in your twisted view of history.



  • jeffe

    Sorry for the typos:

    Because how can anyone take a person seriously who is too lazy to google “the attack on Pearl Harbor” and at least have some idea of the events that lead up to Pearl Harbor.

    That Japan was over confident and really thought the war would be over in less than a year. They were wrong as you are in your twisted view of history.

    Rewriting history to serve a political ideology is a dangerous path to take.

    Regarding Pearl Harbor, there are some who think that FDR pushed the Japanese into war know that Hitler wold declare war and thus allowing the US to freely help Great Britain in it’s war with Germany. The period after WW1 leading up to WW2 was an interesting and complex period, through in the Great Depression and the dust bowl and the mid 20th century is anything but black and white.

  • Greg Sutter

    There is leadership and then there is Obama. Sometimes the eggheads and the pointy heads are inappropriate for the issues and problems at hand.

    Rudy Giuliani on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe”:

    “Boy, you guys really give this guy a break that is beyond…They’d have been working on impeachment of Bush by now. If Bush were the president and handled it this way, there’d be like a movement to throw him out of office.” “Just try to be fair.”

    Mika Brzezinski asks Giuliani “What would you do?”

    “I know exactly what I would have done. The first thing I would have done is to bring in outside experts who knew as much or more about this than BP because I wouldn’t trust just BP to run it for me. I wouldn’t want my fate, the fate of my people, the fate of the southern part of this country in the hands of BP. I would have gone and I’d have called up the people you’re talking about, the people I talked about the other night. Are there people that are better than BP, I would have asked. The answer is “yes.” Are there people that are far better than BP? Yes. Is BP good at this? No. Then give me the people that are the best. After all, I’m the President of the United States or the Mayor of New York City. You can get anything you want. Give me the people that are the best. I want them here– He hasn’t called any of these people. Not a single one. Go ask them. He has not talked to them, he doesn’t like them, he doesn’t trust them. He’s gone to academics because that’s what he trusts.”

    Government does some things very well. It does other things very poorly. Those who believe that government does all things well all the time is very wrong.

  • Richard C

    I was very disappointed with this edition of “On Point.” I’ve been listening to “On Point” for several years now. I think this is only the second occasion I’ve switched off before the end because my stomach just couldn’t tolerate the ranting and raving by the guests. The callers, yes — I’m used to that. In fact I suspect that, with rare exceptions, the screener selects callers based on the likelihood that the person will rant and rave rather than inform. Ultimately this edition reminded me of the couple times I tried listening to Rush Limbaugh’s program. Except for the direction of the guests’ and callers’ spin it was indistinguishable.

  • William

    jeffe – Where is the “comment is a complete distortion and a gross over simplification of the history.”

    Let me try again. FDR spent money on social programs at the expense of national defense. That is a fact. One of the most important responsibilities of the feds is national defense. FDR greatly expanded the role of government into “New Deal” programs which were not the responsibility of federal government. If you want to argue that go ahead.

    Fact: Our nation’s armed forces were not ready for WW-II. Our ships, planes, ground forces were weak and had obsolete equipment. What money that was available during the 1930′s was being spent on New Deal programs and not the Armed Forces. The fleet at Pearl Harbor was obsolete and it was still centered around Battleships vice carriers.

    Pearl Harbor – I did not say that FDR knew about the Japanese plans to attack us at Pearl Harbor.

    It was a gamble by the Japanese to deliver a knock out blow to the Americans and hope they will ask for a peace treaty. It was a lack of a true understanding of the determination of the American people and our industrial capabilities by the leadership in Japan. With the exception of Admiral Yamamoto who felt it might not be a good idea.

    Battle of Midway – What happened to Torpedo Squadron 8 (VT-8) which was completely annihilated because their planes TBD Devastator were obsolete. I blame FDR for the loss of these brave sailors. They never should have been flying those slow death traps. It came out in 1935 and should have been replaced by 1940.

    Also, FDR moved the fleet to Pearl Harbor over the objections of his Admirals who felt the fleet was better protected in Long Beach and San Diego. Bad call on FDR’s part.

    One of the key problems after WW-I was the large pacifist movements in Briton, France and the USA. The left convinced people that a war would never happen again so there were ridiculous treaties on the size of naval ships. Which Japan and German ignored.

    Once again my point is FDR took his “eye off the ball” with his desire to enact foolish “New Deal” programs and should have concentrated more money on national defense.

  • gregory chakalian

    This has been my favorite show. I have listened to this program for several months now in addition to Fresh Air and the Diane Rehm show to name a few others i download and workout to at the gym. I really thought that the guests had informative, critical and yet fair comments regarding our presidents handling of this national calamity. I support President Obama but feel that he could be doing a much better job when it comes to his relationship to big corporations. Coupled with the unprecedented censorship being displayed by the administration, I worry that there will be a strong swing back to a heavy handed administration. One that thinks after acting. I do not blame President Obama, as much as I blame the American public for allowing this type of goverment representation to exist.
    thank you

  • jeffe

    Fact: Our nation’s armed forces were not ready for WW-II. Our ships, planes, ground forces were weak and had obsolete equipment. What money that was available during the 1930’s was being spent on New Deal programs and not the Armed Forces. The fleet at Pearl Harbor was obsolete and it was still centered around Battleships vice carriers. Interesting, how do explain that FDR was ready and willing to take on nazi Germany by 39-40 and was not able to get congress, who you seem to forget has the power to fund the military, not the President, that it was congress who pushed back due to the isolationism of the time.

    If I remember correctly it was the Republican party that was against the US getting into a “European war”. They were mostly isolationist.

    One of the key problems after WW-I was the large pacifist movements in Briton, France and the USA. The left convinced people that a war would never happen again so there were ridiculous treaties on the size of naval ships. Which Japan and German ignored.

    You have got to be kidding. Germany was a dictatorship by 33, Japan was a Imperial power by the 20′s. You left out Italy which had invaded Ethiopia in 36 and by 39 was allied with Germany. Briton, France and the USA were, are democracies, what’s your point here. That if the USA should have become a military dictatorship? Nice try blaming the left for the isolationist policies of the era. In 1932 it was Hoover pressed for an international agreement on arms limitation. It was Hoovers administration, a Republican one as I seem to recall that advocated for isolationism and embraced it.


    You comments about spending are absurd given the economic situation. FDR and his advisers saw that if they did nothing they risked enormous civil unrest and a possible slide down towards fascism. The New Deal put a lot of people to work, which helped to prepared the infrastructure for the coming war. The Civilian Conservation Corps which was controversial at the time, took 3 million young men off the streets and gave them jobs, discipline and a sense of belonging. Here’s another interesting aspect of the Corps, they also prepared these young men for the military as they had to follow orders, work in teams and solve problems as teams. The New Deal got the Brooklyn Navy Yard producing building and refurbishing ships which in turn gave my grandfather a good paying job. Which was a lot better than the what he was doing before, selling apples on street corners.


    Your thesis against the New Deal is straight out of the CATO institute play book. They have interesting revisionist take on history which fails to show how anything else would have worked better.

    I’m not saying the New Deal was perfect, far from it. However doing nothing as Hoover advocated doing, was not working.

    As far as blaming FDR for the deaths of a squadron of torpedo planes, well that’s not only a cheap shot it’s wrong. Congress, I repeat CONGRESS is the body of the government that holds the purse strings in regards of the military. The president can only request and twist arms to get his agenda passed by them. FDR is a convenient scapegoat for the revisionist of history on the right, but your comments are again very misguided.

  • TomK

    William, again, you had your tax cuts and deregulation from 1980-2006. This is a righty mess.

    You go back to the new deal to find those darn “liberals” who you think caused our problems, but I’m astonished by your conclusions. Coming out of WW2 the USA had an explosion of middle class, broad prosperity that was the wonder of the world! Single-earner middle and working class families were sending kids to college (no student loan debt, either). When GDP went up, the median wage went up. The system worked!

    The prosperity of the middle class coincided with a period of high taxes (over 90% rate at the top) and strong gvt regulation. Since tax cutting and deregulation started in 1980, the median wage has gone flat despite increasing GDP and inequality has skyrocketed. The top 1% now gets more of the income than any time since the 1920s.

    It’s obvious that reaganomics, tax cuts and deregulation, are killing the middle class.

  • William

    TomK – We were one of few nations that was not economically destroyed after WW-II. We produced a huge number of goods for the rest of the world to buy and our domestic demand was also huge. Our companies had very little foreign competition and few if any imports. The unions demanded and received huge increases in their wages etc.. Companies said no problem..just raise the price of goods and consumers will pay. Until the crash of 1973 when the good times started to grind to a stop.

    How large was the government in the 1950′s compared to now? Did we have the Dept of Education,Energy,EPA,OSHA?? Did we have WIC, Foodstamps, Head Start, Pell Grants, Earned Income Credit, Medicare? SCHIP, Section 8 to name a few. Were we paying 300 billion dollars to farmers? Were we paying for children’s medical insurance for people making 80k per year like we do now with SCHIP? Did we have NAFTA? Why did JFK cut taxes?

    The wages of the middle class have not kept up with the top 1 percent. What is the answer? Raise taxes on the top 1 percent? But the top 1 percent pays the largest share of federal income tax. 45 percent of Americans don’t pay any federal income tax. AShould we not lower that 45 percent to less than 1 percent?

    Did IBM downsize in the 1980′s? Layoffs for the first time in their history? Are they a better company now? Yes. Why can’t the federal government downsize?

    Recently the auto industry received a 47 page regulation from the federal government telling them the specs for the roofs on cars. Don’t you think that might be a bit of over reach? 47 pages?

    There are a serious of lectures by Milton Friedman on youtube. While I don’t agree with everything he said, he did have some good ideas about economics.

  • William

    jeffe – History is very interesting don’t you think? We are all topic for this board but before they kick us off we can debate it.

    You are way off. Talk about the time from 1932 to 1941. Who was in charge? Who had a majority in Congress? FDR. He wanted a New Deal and that did not include a modern military. He had to deal with the isolation group and the pacificsts too but he had plenty of good will because he was so loved by the average American.

    France fell in 6 weeks because they were so left. They were willing to live under the Nazi’s. Just like the left during the 1960′s. “Better Red than Dead”.

    You know FDR once remarked he did not understand why Americans did not riot in the streets during the 1930′s. They accepted their fate and got on with their lives as best they could. One of those people was my grandfather who often remarked that it was tough but you had to not give up. He worked in Cleveland at steel factory. A legal immigrant from Ireland.

    If the New Deal economic policies worked then why was unemployment so high? Did it ever go down much under FDR before 1942? The idea that a “centrally planned
    economy worked? Why did the government go to court to prevent a butcher from selling chickens at less than the authorized price? {Schecter Poultry Corp. v The United States (1933). Do you know during the depression the government had farmers killed off cows to try and raise prices while people were in soup lines starving? This is the “New Deal” that was so successful?

    Why the New Deal failed? Because FDR, like Obama did not like business. Investors in the 1930′s were not willing to put out their money knowing FDR was in office. We did not recover until 1942 when millions of men went off to war and we actually started producing again.

    Congress did not give FDR what he asked for? Who was the majority? Democrates? Did FDR ask in 1938 for a huge increase in military spending because he felt we would eventually go to war with Japan?

    Cheap shot at FDR. Darn right. Those sailors died at Pearl Harbor because he ignored the advice of his Admirals. Those men died in the Battan Death March because he had them out there ill prepared for war. How can you look at the face of a father or mother whose son drowned in the tomb of the Uss Arizona or died on that Death March and say “We gave them the best of everything”. No way. He blew it. His legacy is so over rated it’s a disgrace. That clown locked up 110,000 Japanese Americans and did not lose a bit of sleep over it. He thought Stalin “Old Joe” was just fine. His buddy Algier Hiss was a spy and got nailed when the Vernoa Files were released.

    I got back to my orignal thoughts. FDR took his eye off the ball and thought Socialism and a centrally planned economy would save the day! He knew the Japanese and Germans were rearming and did not put the money into the military. He ignored the basic responsibility of the Federal government and greatly expanded its role into areas that it had no responsiblity. We are still paying the price for this “Big Brother knows Best” failed idea of a government.

  • jeffe

    William you have quite the list there. The 1950′s was also the time of Jim Crow laws in the South and in a lot of places in the North you could not enter if you were Black, Jewish or Latino. If I remember correctly the EPA came to being under Nixon’s presidency. Again you blame FDR for acts of congress. FDR’s win did also sweep in a lot of Democrat’s but the Republican’s were in power for most of the 20′s and 30′s and they were in charge when the Depression hit. So they were voted out. Congress deals with all things pertaining to the spending on the military. The president is the commander and chief and he does not handle the purse strings.

    Anyway Hoover did try some of the programs FDR took over namely relief programs that kind of looked like the WPA programs. He did so to little and to late.

    Like I said it was under Hoover that military spending was cut, and surprise surprise under FDR it became huge.
    Of course there was WW2. The thing is FDR needed to spend on building up the economy of the nation as there was nothing else. Most of the capital in this country dried up. The government was the last resort, period.
    If you think private industry would have gotten the US out of the Depression I would say the evidence does not seem to support it. As all the recent layoffs seem to support this. Do you actually think that a private corporation would have built the Hoover damn without huge incentives from the federal government? It was projects like this that put a lot of people back to work. That was the point. 25% of the population was out of work and almost half the banks failed and closed in this country. Show me one idea from that period that would have worked better. I don’t see anything other than the idea of just letting things happen in a natural progression. FDR and his wife Elenore (one of the most amazing woman in American history) along with some very talented people in his administration were very aware of the issues of the day. They were not sure is anything would work, but they knew doing nothing was not an option. That’s the point. Doing nothing is not an option.

  • jeffe

    FDR a socialist? That’s rich, it was his wife who had most of those ideas which were social democratic and not socialist if we want to get technical. Elenore Roosevelt was a visionary and she had something a lot people in politics do not have, empathy for those who were less well off than she was. Not pity, empathy.

    You want socialism look toward Stalin USSR of that period.
    There was a difference.

  • william

    Jeffe, I remember when Reagan come into office and the media was in a panic for him to do something..anything…he just let the recession run it’s course..the Fed took on inflation and we recovered.

    FDR military buildup? Not much. I remember seeing pictures of U.S. Army troops in the early 1940 playing with jeeps dressed up to look like tanks. If FDR wanted to create jobs he should have forgot any of those New Deal programs after the Japanese shot up the USS Panay in 1937.

    Was FDR trying to end the depression or remake America to a different type of economy and social order. I think he wanted to push towards a centrally planned economy not unlike the USSR. At that time many well educated people wrongly believed that the USSR’s economy and social order was the wave of the future..so much better than our system.

    Was FDR one of those “true believers?” I would think so if you look at people he had on his economic team and his failure to speed up the recovery.

    You mentioned there was a lack of private funds, which was driven by fear of FDR. His idea of very high taxes and a centrally planned economy would have scared away Bill Gates. Additionally, there was that misguided belief that capitalism was a failure and the Communists, Socialists had a better idea. It is logical to conclude that private investment would and did dry up.

    The Hoover Dam was first proposed back in the early 1920′s I think and seems strange now that it took so long for the government to fund it. The project to greatly increase the amount of power for the West was a great idea. It sat on the back burner until President Hoover pushed for it. Which makes sense because he lived in CA. It was shameful of FDR to change the name and not honor President Hoover.

    Would private companies in the 1930′s under FDR attempt that type of project? No way. FDR would have taken it over like he took over the private power projects with the TVA system.

    Prior to the crash many American companies were profitable. Cars were selling, high tech in the form of radio stations were growing, early tv was being developed, aviation industry was growing, more people were being uplifted economically than being left behind.

    Did the American government respond quickly? Hoover made a mistake by raising taxes but he did try to get companies not to layoff people or cut wages. He was no dummy (spoke fluent Chinese) and was an experienced administrator. Perhaps his advisor Mellon was too strict with the cash.

    But expanding the role of government with vast social spending vice spending on more projects like the Hoover Dam was an overreach. Or more like not letting a crisis go to waste to change America socially. Which extended the depression until 1942.

    Was it a good idea for FDR to set the price of gold everyday from his office during the Great Depression? That was an example of a economically clueless President? Then to force everyone to give up their gold? Was he out of control? Yes. Which he demonstrated again with his attempt to take over the Supreme Court. Even his own party turned against him on that. But it also indicates a President that was drunk with power.

    Just think if FDR would have said;

    “I’ll make sure nobody goes hungry, but I’m going to join hands with the private industry to encourage investment. I will lower taxes on business and individuals to spur risk takers to come forward and create wealth. I don’t not lay claim to another mans property, wealth or freedom. We will provide funding when projects are sound and will provide a return to the taxpayers for decades to come. (Hoover Dam)

    All great leaders are challenged and come to the fork in the road. FDR went left and “The Forgotten Man” suffered. If he would have gone right we would have recovered much sooner.

    And that does bring up an interesting point. President Obama took part of GM and gave it to the UAW. This was not legal and cut out the shareholders. Now he just took 20 billion dollars from the shareholders of BP and cut the dividend from the shareholders of BP. The idea is to speed up the compensation to the victims. Which might make people feel good, but in the long term is that a good idea? and was it legal? Does it send a clear message to the private companies to stay clear of the USA? Will investors start to pull their money out of the stock/bond market and stick it into a shoebox? President Obama is ensuring that the terrorists that attacked us are given full access to our legal system, but not the shareholders of GM or BP? What sense does that make?

    What if President Obama decides to take establish a wealth tax and take 10 percent of a certain company(s) money or the “rich” to pay down the debt? A good cause, but legal?

    FDR’s wife? A person ahead of her time and she cared more about the blacks in America that he did.

    Was he a Socialist? Certainly acted like one and his ideas of a economic ideas of central planning failed and expanding the role of government has proven to not work. It might ‘feel good” but results indicate failure.

    There is no other country that has proven itself to uplift more people than ours. The more the goverment gets involved with our lives and economy the worse off we will and have become. There is not way we can continue to borrow money and enjoy the freedoms we take for granted.

  • Ellen Dibble

    If by “size of government” you mean the cost of government, then you look at Defense, interest on Debt, and Medicare/Social Security — plus sundry other things. Defense spending we traditionally value in that we want other nations buying their bombers and tanks and so on from us, their high-tech submarine gear and so on. We want a military Establishment, war or no war, it seems to me. But the Size of Government, talking about Medicare, is related to the size of the population, specifically the aging population. The word “third rail” pops into my mind. The “elephant in the room.”
    Balancing the budget (shrinking government, i.e., the national debt, i.e., my taxes) means touching that rail, straightening it out. Neither Republicans nor Democrats want to do that.
    Jeffe, I read with great interest your short version of history, specifically countering a lot of specifics. But besides all that — and wasn’t Eleanor Roosevelt our first ambassador to the United Nations? She was for cooperation, teamwork, among nations and within nations, however you call that. Social awareness? Diplomacy?
    Besides all that, as the world shrinks, it becomes possible to accomplish more cooperatively than we knew how to do previously. We are more linked. And there are more of us (Census please?), and we are more diverse. The tent is larger, not smaller.
    But it seems to me parts of government have shrunk, at all levels. I could start right locally. Everything is on the chopping block every year.
    So it seems to me we are confronted with the failures of capitalism in the last decade or so, failure of capitalism trying to run government. Quarterly profits as the guidepost for all things does not work. Has not worked.
    And if BP pays more to Obama’s campaign than to McCain’s, I’d say they (BP) figure Obama needs more arm-twisting than McCain needs in order to seem to them sufficiently obliging to their wishes, which does not make me happy, however.

  • jeffe

    Actually Reagen was forced to raise taxes as was his successor George H. Bush I seem to recall.

    He Reagen also had his crisis, the Marine base in Lebanon and the Contra scandal.

    You can blame FDR for everything including the recent oil rig disaster if you want, he’s that type of figure.
    For some he was a great president for others he was a socialist. I suppose in the years after the Civil War Lincoln had the same effect on people. I for one think both men were right in their convictions and that they did amazing jobs as presidents during two of the most trying times of this countries history. Lesser men would not have prevailed.

  • jeffe

    William this show was not about FDR but we seemed to have resurrected his ghost and legacy. I suppose family comes into it. My family, poor emigrants from Eastern Europe who came the New York, was more or less saved by the New Deal and the WPA. Of course the war came and some of them went off to fight at Anzio and in the forest of Belgium. Some stayed home and built ships.
    My father went to City college of New York and with the GI bill and made a better life fore himself and his family. Right or wrong FDR believed in the people of this country and I think he truly wanted to make this country a better place than it was when he first took office. You don’t have to believe in his political ideas but I shudder to think what a lesser man would have done in such circumstances. Ponder that if you will, what a lesser man bent on political ambition and tied to corporate greed would have done. A man such as Prescott Sheldon Bush.

    I read your comments and they sound like almost like verbatim criticisms of FDR from that period by the right. Bottom line is the people overwhelmingly voted FDR to 3 terms to my knowledge the only president to serve that many terms. Of course after FDR congress changed the law regarding presidential term limits. However he still won three terms and remains a very popular president. He was the right man for times as some would say.

  • William

    I used the example of FDR and his choice of “butter over guns” as a poor leader. A true leader will make a better long term decision than a short term “feel good” or “this will get me elected or re-elected”. Which as become the political norm now. Forget about long term just do what makes the voter “feel good” and especially “feel good about me”.

    FDR made some nice speeches, gave people hope, but at the end of the day, he tried to remake America to what he felt was a better system. The “flavor of the day” back then was Socialism or Communism. Which looking back now, to me, seems so dumb. Stalin, USSR, Communism,? all one big lie. FDR ignored the success of the USA economic system. Millions of people fled Europe because of it’s failed economic system, lack of freedom.

    FDR should not have run for that 4th term. He was not a well man and during a time of war, that was a very selfish decision or example of poor leadership. The press pretty much gave FDR a free pass. They never took a picture of him in his wheelchair or commented on is poor health. Being a criple does not eliminate a person from public service, but hiding it indicates a person has a character flaw. He got a free pass on his cheating on his wife too. Would the American people had voted for him that 3rd or 4th term knowing that? Which to some people might seem ok, but the press did the same thing for JFK. His health was poor and his constant cheating on his wife was disgusting.

    But to this day both FDR and JFK are portrayed as superb leaders and have this almost “god like myth” about them.

    My grandfather did not do well under the new deal. He felt the boot of failed government ideas growing up in Ireland and that was a big reason he came here. He did not want anyone telling him how to live. His small business painting homes was crushed when he was told how much he had to pay his workers. His job in the steel mill was brutal. My uncles went off to war in WW-II and returned, never speaking of it. They moved on with their lives but often said make your own way in life and never depend on the government.

    I think the idea of coporate greed is bad and government “always knows best” is foolish. Certainly in the private sector there is always going to be an over the top boss. But is some faceless government boss in Washington with virtue in mind going to make the right decision. Is Medicare solvent? What does it lose each year to fraud? 60 billion? That is not an example of “greed” at the highest levels?

  • Ellen Dibble

    William, I don’t think anyone, Democrat or Republican, is advocating “depending on the government.” It’s not good for you; it’s not good for the government. Example, where I live in New England a church decided there should be a shelter in the region (November to April) that accepted people at night even though they might have had alcohol. Such people are not allowed in the other programs — government regs. Okay. So they found a church basement. But they were not allowed to let the people sleep there, just stay there, and then sleep on a park bench the following day. I thought the regs might have meant actually no beds, and I thought to myself, I never sleep on a bed, just a mat. But the church people said that they had mats, and the mats had been confiscated by the officials. In other words — I don’t know. I don’t think any government funding was involved, just regulations. But if you can provide for your own needs, then everyone is better off. On the other hand, when government isn’t doing its backstopping properly, then you have the underground economy, gang membership rather than union membership, and an environment that is inhospital to normal business and welfare. Consider Mexico.
    About FDR’s polio. Once upon a time, people who were disabled, unless their family had lots of money, were pretty much shunned. If you had cancer or TB (both of which I’ve had), the family kept it a deep dark secret; sort of the way a woman with an out-of-wedlock pregnancy was sent out-of-state and everybody was told she was traveling in Europe. That sort of thing. Tolerance was not a big part of American life. Not only were black people scorned and shunned; also homosexuals. Also you name it, the Irish, the Italians, the Poles. Actually, I wasn’t exposed to that ethnic kind of intolerance. Where I grew up it was no longer a factor. But it was a turning point for the USA when we elected Kennedy, a Catholic. Catholics were considered outsiders, newcomers, an ethnic minority — at least in the East. Hispanics were very rare, and of course Latin America is mostly Catholic.
    So anyway, if you didn’t want to crash head-on into America’s deeply ingrained bigotry, a politician kept his disabilities out of the spotlight. Such tolerance was not a lesson we were ready to learn at that time.
    Plenty of people struggled during the Depression, in spite of FDR’s policies. The question is whether there was a better approach than his, which was not an out-of-the-bottle canned nanny-state. From everything I’ve heard, he fought every step of the way with the Supreme Court, with all sides. And on top of that he seemed cheery and optimistic. I guess because of his disability he knew very well the importance of keeping a sociable and hopeful face to present to the people he was trying to lead. Dyed-in-the-wool Republicans voted for him. They made an exception for the man. As to his marriage, the relationships of both him and Eleanor have to be viewed in the context of the situation, the era. In this country it is possible to have close opposite-sex friends, not intimate but important friends. I’m not sure if it was possible in the 1930s. In the insularity and isolation of the presidency, we tell our presidents “get a dog,” which FDR did. Eleanor was out all over the country being the eyes and ears (and feet) of the president. I can imagine the pair had to be imaginative to keep it together.

  • Brett

    Goebbels would have loved to have you as a protege! ;-) For one thing, you are taking much of what you are saying about that period directly following the stock market crash of 1929 out of context. Also, the Depression got a foothold before FDR’s first term. And, in any economic downturn, especially in a depression the magnitude of the “great” one, the very last thing to recover–and the slowest thing to recover–will be employment. Any economist will tell you that.

    Your cherry picking of certain moments to “illustrate” how we had inadequate weaponry and military equipment in general in WWII is a distortion. We won the war, after all, by building superior equipment and out manufacturing the Germans and Japanese.

    You also have tried to paint this picture that the average American voted for FDR because they were embracing socialism and communism (I know, you never said that verbatim but you sure were making it seem like socialism and communism were like the new miracle to be embraced by everyone), which is absurd.

    You make it sound as if the press gave FDR some kind of pass on his disability and philandering because of spreading liberalism or propagandism; when, in fact, the press operated differently than they do now about what was and was not appropriate for reporting. If FDR had been Republican, they would have given him the same pass.

    I would also like to say that before Social Security was implemented, many elderly folks lived in abject poverty. The main problem with Social Security over the years has been that its coffers have been pilfered for other projects (i.e., it is the mismanagement of it and not the inherent idea or structure of it that is the problem).

    I am astounded, I have to say, at the scope of your perspectives and how much your take on history, education, economic theories, etc., seems flawed. 1) You start with your ideology, belief, then present how history has transpired and how economic systems work and how people respond to their environment to fit your belief system. 2) In all of the comments of yours I’ve noticed no more substantiation of your ideas than anecdotal evidence, e.g., your view on education is based on your talking to teachers and administrators in regard to your own children; your view on America just after the stock market crash is based on your uncles’ inability to make a go of things in post WWII America, and so on. In terms of “bad science” you’ve employed two principles of such: 1) using preconceived notions and only including “data” which support those notions while discarding any data not in support of those notions. 2) Relying heavily on anecdotal evidence.

    You are also engaging in a typical straw man tactic in your condemnation of liberalism: either reduce the opposing viewpoint to its lowest common denominator ideas so as to make the opposing view seem absurd, or present the opposing viewpoint in absolute terms because anything that is absolute, e.g., “government always knows best” and “government can solve all problems all of the time,” etc., is not sound and is easily dismantled in a debate (simply present one example where government failed, and you’ve beaten that viewpoint).

    Government played a role in where we are now economically, to some extent, but corporate greed and our “free enterprise” system itself has, as well. I would also argue that much of what is happening today with people having too much personal debt, housing booms and busts, large corporations having too much of a stranglehold on the political process, started post-WWII after FDR died.

    Prior to the baby boom era, the proposition of buying a house was one that involved usually 50% down and paying off the rest in ten years or less. After WWII, we began to see 10% (or less) down and 30-year mortgages. This fed a burgeoning housing industry. Filling those houses up with goods fed our manufacturing industry. A strong military manufacturing structure led to a post-war consumer goods manufacturing structure. As you said on one of your comments, we had no competition for the manufacture of our goods. All of these things came together to give us our strength and status as a super power. It is those very things that have led to our downfall. It was not encroaching liberalism, military weakness, government mollycoddling, or any other of your one-dimensional theories, just like it was not simply corporate greed running amok. It was a whole host of factors that came together giving us the appearance we had a perfect system in capitalism.

    Where you and I might find some common ground could be in that government sould be run more efficiently. I don’t mean cutting social programs or deregulation of industry, as conservatives want to cite to make government smaller, I mean actual efficiency; the social programs we currently have need to be run more effectively, regulatory oversight of corporations needs more teeth and less political influence from lobbyists.

    And, as a country (and perhaps it is a phenomenon of being human, I can’t say), we have mythologized FDR; we have mythologized Reagan, too, and many other historical figures. We have mythologized historical events, as well. These versions of history and historical figures are for those who don’t wish to delve further into people and events in history. They are also for those who wish to see the world in either black and white terms or who wish to believe that truth has one interpretation.

  • William

    Brett – Why would someone who I don’t know accuse me of being in the same category as Goebbels? Did your parents teach you to say such things like that?

    Just because I don’t think FDR was such a great President? What is wrong with that? Are we not allowed to explore the idea that perhaps, just perhaps, FDR economic and social ideas were not that great or successful?

    It’s a dangerous path you lead when you try to shut down another person’s opinion. After all, it was people like me that questioned the reason for “Japanese-American Concentration Camps” (FDR), “Why are we in Vietnam? , and why is my 5 year old daughter in love with silly bands?

    I tend to belive what Dr. Thomas Sowell said about the FDR ideas for recovery. A simple means to judge its success was the unemployment level. It did not go down much until 1942. Which was about 9 years after he took office. That is a bit more than a “lag”.

    I would have to research you opinion that senior citizens lived in poverty prior to Social Security. I tend to them most seniors lived with their families. Which was a much better idea than depending on your buddy down the street to provide for your mother and fathers retirement. The way the current economy is going it looks like we are going back to staying home with our parents alot longer.

    There is room for debate that some, but not everyone would need some assistance in their “golden years”. We are now faced with a financial disaster. Looking back you would have to admit that giving the government vast sums of money was not exactly the smartest thing to do. Because the government, is actually some elected person who will figure out how to spend that money in a way different from its intended purpose.

    We won the war, but we were not ready for war. That is exactly what I said. Was the expanded role of government distracting it from the role of national defense? Certainly, those sailors that drowned at Pearl Harbor or the Army guys that died on the Battan Death March might have wondered the same thing. We still had men on horses, torpedoes that did not work, old S class submarines in the Philippines. Our officer corps was filled with very qualified men that had not been promoted in years.

    You bring up a good point about my opinion of education and how I selected my childrens school. I take it you would have gone by the published ratings for the different schools and that would have been acceptable. I looked at that but came away wondering “Why are so many rated “A”.? That does not seem possible. What better way to find out how good a school is by asking students, teachers, looking around, asking questions. You would be a fool to go by information the local school board or state published.

    You rely on data provided by the government. Which has a self-interest in making itself look successful and always good.

    Free Pass for FDR/JFK – The press gave him a free pass because they liked him. FDR could have done a lot of good for the disabled Americans by allowing himself to have his picture taken in a wheel chair. Why did he pass on that? Most Americans would not have thought bad of him.

    Did that indicate a lack of leadership or character flaw on FDR’s part? Was he that vain? Who knows, different time, but his wife seemed to have a bit more guts than he did. She was not afaid to step out there on social issues.

    Did you know my uncle? I never said he failed after WW-II. He did very well for himself. He worked for the railroad system for 30 years, had a business on the side remodeling homes. He just did not belive a person should depend on the government. What is wrong with that?

    You under state the role the government played in the real estate disaster. Freddy/Fani Mae were major players in this disaster. The idea of “everyone should own a home” was pushed by President Bush. Was that a good idea for government? The idea that minorities should own a home without being able to afford one was a government idea. Very low interest rates was a government idea. Sure, Bush wanted to stimulate the economy after 9-11 and real estate was a easy way to do it. But government screw up and FRE/FNM were knee deep in that mess. FRE/FNM might have seemed like a good idea years ago, but it became too corrupt and failed. Now the taxpayer is stuck paying the bill.

    Sure, Wall Street jumped on a chance to make money. Remember those Wall Street guys are there to make money. I think NYC gets half of it’s taxes from 40,000 people. A majority of which work on Wall Street. They loved those greedy guys.

    Where was the FED and SEC?

    You can’t do away with any social programs? They are all successful? Just one? Why is it that the private sector can do away with “what that does not work”, but the government can’t? Remember the government does not generate much wealth. They have to take it from someone or some company to fund itself. So, a reasonable man might ask “Who is better suited to spend this money?”.

    Failure of government – Just Medicare fraud alone indicates a failed system. 60 billion dollars a year per CBS News. Is that an isolated agency or just an indication of the entire government? Who is being held accountable? Which Medicare director(s) have been fired?

    This morning I was reading how some Indian Casino received 54 million dollars from the taxpayers, via Chris Dodd, out of the stimulus fund. That is a isolated incident or typical of government?

    Sure I attack liberalism. What is wrong with that? You attack Conservatism, go ahead I don’t care. I think you knock yourself down calling me a Nazi.

  • jeffe

    Brett the other thing is that FDR and his successor Harry Truman saw the need to give the vets something to grow on after the war. The GI bill and the housing boom that followed WW2 were a direct result of the Veterans march on Washington otherwise known as the “Bonus Army”. They did not want millions of unemployed vets on the streets sitting around idle. The GI bill enable millions to go to school and the advent of modeler housing developed by William Levitt and others offered inexpensive housing which in turn gave us the baby boom. In retrospect these housing schemes and towns were a bad idea as the encouraged car ownership as well and it was the beginning of the deterioration of the the inner cities.

  • william

    Ellen Dibble – I think what those people did in N.O. and after shows us how bad some people depend on the gov. In some areas, like N.O. the poor have been raised on welfare, gov. assistance, public housing etc…and it has been a disaster. From all indications they just sat there waiting for some government official to tell them what to do or save them. It is a clear indication how bad some people have grown to depend on the gov.

    Yes, during FDR’s period people that were disabled were shunned and especially those with polio. My point it would have shown true leadership on FDR’s part to have his picture taken in the wheelchair to try and help the image of disabled people He did not do that.

    Sure there is bigotry in America. Just like in Europe, Japan, China etc..etc..in every race, white,black,asian etc.etc…for thousands of years…that is how it is and will always be there. FDR displayed that when he locked up those 110,000 Japanese Americans.

    I think FDR’s wife would have left him if it had not been for the war. He really disgraced himself fooling around on her.

    What makes me disappointed about our political history is the lack of honest discussion of people like FDR, JFK, Nixon. We always hear FDR was great, but put 110k, Japanese Americans into concentration camps (now they call them relocation camps, more pc), JFK was a saint (cheated on his wife like a rabbit), Nixon was a crook (established the EPA, OSHA, boosted drug treatment programs, signed the clean water/air act).

    It goes back and forth…

  • Brett

    No, William, I don’t think you are a Nazi, just a propagandist. Please, I’m sure a bit of a joke in bad taste (about how much spin you’ll put on history to further your ideological views) isn’t going to hurt you so much…bringing up my parents? I’ll take the moral outrage approach you’ve feigned and say my 82 year old mother is currently dying of cancer and my 83 year old father had yet another heart attack a couple of weeks ago and is not doing so well either, so how dare you besmirch my dying parents!

    You were doing a lot more than saying FDR was not such a great president!

    Unemployment in the Depression: Simple means, indeed! To base economic recovery soley on employment rates is exceedingly simple means! Besides, I never minimized the problems with unemployment in and after the Depression by calling them a “lag.” That’s the straw man tactics I mentioned in my comment.

    The lucky senior citizens lived with relatives before Social Security! Also to compare the financial situation seniors had then with what seniors have now is looking at the comparison with a skewed view.

    Also, did your uncle realize that the railroads do get government subsidies?

    The press gave FDR/JFK a free pass because they liked him? The liberal-biased, lamestream media, you mean? ;-) Also, as Ellen Dibble said, being disabled was stigmatizing back then. At best, people were pitied. Do you even know anyone who lived then? I have worked my entire life practically with changing views of people with disabilities and I am 55 years old. Even the statue of FDR that was put up in Washington, D.C., near where I live, which was dedicated in 1997, had controversy about his disability. The designers did not show him in a wheelchair (merely sitting in a chair with his legs cloaked) they felt it would show weakness. The difference between 1997 and 1932 is that by 1997 people with disabilities had a political voice. There was opposition to the statue; the sculpture engaged in a kind of appeasement and later put casters on the statue’s chair, but this was not enough and another statue was erected near the original by the NOD showing FDR in a wheelchair. The important element in this story is that the original was not taken down and replaced, but another to placate was added! In 1997!!

    You seem to want the “absolutist on the other side” approach to debate I mentioned in my earlier comment. It’s a shame, because I’ll bet we could find agreement on some areas. I don’t mind finding common ground in some areas with conservatives. Rather than find that common ground I mentioned in my last comment, you continued on with your approach. I find that most conservatives don’t want to find common ground with liberals.

    Let me ask you (and this doesn’t mean I feel we can’t do without ANY social programs, so don’t get any ideas). Sincerely, which social programs should we scratch? You mention Medicare? Medicaid? Social Security? I feel Medicare and Social Security should be based on need and not an automatic entitlement of turning a certain age. Do you think Medicaid should be scratched because there is fraud in some cases? I have worked in human services most of my adult life. Medicaid serves a lot of people with legitimate disabilities; I also can say that bureaucrats are often inefficient and waste money. Again, I am offering a chance here for you to stop spinning and feigning moral outrage and re-writing history, for a chance to show some real opinions about what specifically could be trimmed from government.

  • Brett

    That was a pretty good thumbnail sketch of how, when and where the baby boom started; if there is a place and time, it was definitely in Levittown. The G.I. Bill helped grow the economy and make us a super power; as you point out, this gave rise to in some respects to poorly planned, inexpensive communities like Levittown. I subscribe to the idea of missteps in both government and private industry took place, and that these factors in addition to other social ones made the US at once great and weakened it over time.

    This is looking at it in hindsight, which is always going to be twenty-twenty. It is also unfair in many respects to judge history based on hindsight, and takes events out of their historical place. Nevertheless, we can’t look to the past now to know how to move forward; the old paradigms will not sustain us.

  • William


    You have not become another Walter Duranty, but you are close. I don’t think the NYTimes has ever apologized for the articles that guy wrote.

    Every President is graded by the unemployment rate.

    I don’t remember which rail road my uncle worked for, but I can see the gov. passing out taxpayer money for some misguided reason. I remember that disaster with Penn Central. But now, most railroads are very profitable.

    We had a greater sense of family before Social Security. Did this social security contribute to making our families weaker? Perhaps. Families in Asia still have their parents living with them. I think Americans should reconsider the idea of shipping their parents off to the “home” or asking gov. to cover their responsiblity.

    Remember gov. has a bad habit of making problems larger or a crisis when they actually are not. I’m not sold on the idea that Social Security was soley done to help old people. It seems more like a power grab, control and get the money idea.

    I find it difficult to understand how liberals love the expanded role of government. Liberalism seems to love the idea of “the thought is what counts” rather than the results. Many people, me included, think the black community has been destroyed by liberalism. I think even the black community would have to admit after all these years of various welfare programs are you better off? Just look at the black community in NO. That was a democratic control city, Parish, State for decades. Those people were raised to believe “government will save you”, Then wham. the Chocolate Mayor left to drown. Did not even bother to leave the keys in the yellow buses that were left behind. Also, could any conservative get away with something like that “It’s a Chocolate City” remark? I think not.

    Common ground – I think it is difficult for a conservative to compromise their values for the sake of “getting along”.

    Remember what President Obama said at that meeting with the minority party “I won”. How is that for common ground?

    Bush let Ted Kennedy write the NCLB Act but it was and still is called a failure. Not Ted Kennedy’s failure, George Bush.

    During the heat of the Iraq War Senator Reid makes the famous statement “The War is Lost”. No concern for the troops fighting for their lives. Just a political cheap shot at Bush. Dick Durban compared our troops to Nazi’s. Can you imagine anyone letting that go by during WW-II.? Heck Abe Linclon had some Congressman tossed in jail for much less.

    Which social programs to kill? The largest ones have to be looked at first and rightsized.

    Medicare – Quit paying for cab rides, electric scooters, toe nail clippings, raise the deductable on on routine office visits. It should go to a “blood and bandages” type of medical care. Say kick in at 10,000 dollars. If anyone can’t afford it, please provide a financial statement from you and your family showing why. Cruel? no. It would keep everyone honest.

    Stop the fraud – 60 billion dollars a year? Difficult but not impossible. Turn the billing over to a private company and offer an incentive to get it down to fraud to less than 1 billion per year. Try that for a while and see what happens.

    The drug plan needs to be greatly reduced. It makes no sense to pay for Bill Gates drugs. I think a more accurate number of truely needy seniors was about 5 million.

    Medicaid – Much more difficult. We have created a sense of entitlement that is difficult to break. First any military age person gets a choice, Join up or we cut you off. Man or woman. 18-37. Everyone else, why are they here? No job, no skills? set up some sort of loan program to lend them money to attend trade school or community college to upgrade skills or get a skill. Loan, not a grant, etc..you pay it back. Everyone else, just run a tab and let them know it. You have to pay and if it takes you 100 years so be it. Nothing in life is free. It’s part of the learning process that for some people like in N.O. they never learned at home.

    Social Security – Allow people to invest 5 percent as they desire. Singapore has this type of system and it works well enough for them. Downsize the disabled crowd that claim drug addiction, alcohol addiction, being fat etc..to qualify for SSI. They did kick off legal immigrants off SSI a few years ago.

    Bring back All Savers Certificates – This was a President Reagan idea back in the early 1980′s that went away in 1984. You did not have to pay taxes on interest earned up 10,000 per year. Great idea.

    Gov Departments – Move every government agency out of the DC/VA/MD area. Just leave the Agency Head. If it gets bombed who cares if some political hack gets it. This is a national security and economic issue. Place them around the country into economically depressed areas. Federal workers make a very good salary and this would give these areas a economic boost.

    I would get rid of the Dept. Of Education. No loss. Downsize Depts of Energy, Agriculture and put into Dept. of Commerce. Get rid of Dept. of Labor.

    Ever hear of this group?

    MIDWEST ACADEMY (MA) and it’s founder Heather Booth ?

    I wonder how many people ever read about Walter Duranty in high school or college. Not many I would think. A bit of a black eye on the “Old Grey Lady”.

    Nice of you to let me voice my opinion. You liberals are a decent lot at times. Of course, just so we conservatives agree with the establish norms, or as that recently appointed Judge said “established law”. Amazing she got away with that bit of misguided legal speak.

  • Ellen Dibble

    William, FDR might have demonstrated leadership by being openly disabled. However, that would have been a huge distraction under the circumstances. When in his term of office could he stop and have a big discussion with the American people about intolerance? It seems to me that his manliness told him there were more important things on his agenda: getting America on its feet again. As a nation we had become sort of lame. And he tried as hard for Americans as he for himself to get mobile again. I see that as a kind of secret power that he had: He knew about being cut down suddenly; and sort of bragging about that would ruin the fact that his perspective, his lameness, gave the understanding and the emotional momentum to what he did for his people.
    As for his philandering, what makes you think Eleanor didn’t do that as well? His behavior in some ways liberated her to find meaningful and close relationships that she might not otherwise.
    As to Social Security, when you have a lot of people uprooted, blown like dust across the dust bowl, here and there, anybody who could bring their aging parents along was in a special position. Our society is, if anything, more mobile now than then. What I hear about restructuring Social Security focuses on a few big changes in life span and so on. Right now, if you earn above something like $150,000 a year, you don’t owe any further 15.3% on that income. What about when you retire, do you get more Social Security the more you have been earning? One would think that if you earn $10,000 every year, you might not at age 65 have deep resources of your own, and whatever percent Social Security provides, every penny is crucial. On the other hand, if you’ve been paying $22,000 a year to Social Security, being on the upper end, you are probably also able to buy a house and set aside retirement monies, so the fact Social Security pays you royally for all that inputting is not so crucial. And by the way, back in the 1930s, before antibiotics, people didn’t live to late 70s that often. And another point, people have jobs that they can do deep into those retirement years. If you were chopping wood for a living, you might slow down about 60. If you were a software writer, you might speed up.
    Next, about those New Orleans types. I agree, there are swaths of our cities where the expectation is you drop out of school to have babies and start to collect government benefits. Someone sells drugs. You meet a friend of the father of the babies who is in jail — both are in jail. When one gets out, that’s what you do. Continue as before.
    The housing bubble is a special case. I heard in local news Friday that most towns in our state have ordinances against multifamily housing. A builder can’t say, oh, people might like to live with eight or nine other units, having the lawn mowed for them, all that, while they tend to their modern-day type employment; they might like to live skinny while investing in their little startup or setting aside a nest-egg for a some-day house. No, this is not allowed. I was astonished to hear the lip-service on the air. Because the usual thing is if you want to move to town, you have to have a realtor ($$$), a lawyer for the closing ($$$), and a banker who collects a certain percentage for a very long time ($$$). Homeownership works great for a certain segment of our society. If you don’t want to own a home, you have to live in “affordable” housing, where essentially the rent is a tax, because it is a percent of what you make, and the whole deal is a tax break for the developer. And the renters are not paying ratable town taxes. As local citizens, their role is different. It is politically incorrect to say so, but you will find those citizens showing up at public meetings asking for many things, but without the kind of say-so that homeowners have (or renters if they would be willing to check what the buildings they live in do pay the town each year). They have no clout. The lack of viable tax-paying multiunit housing creates a second-class citizenry. There are the moochers and there are those who are so successful that it is actually a little suspect. FDR did not do that. My generation did that starting about 1974. Help me fight it. We need everyone pitching in.
    But the construction industry, the housing industry, is going to be hard to persuade to back down and persuade the towns to all change their bylaws and allow “regular” apartments again. They (construction industry and so on) have had a wild free ride for a long time.
    So those in public housing can’t exactly be blamed for taking a bit of a free ride themselves.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Brett, I think I read about the FDR statue you’re referring to — in the local paper. A local sculptor, Leonard Baskin, was working on an FDR mural or something like that for the mall in DC, and there was some controversy. Baskin was the type of person who would use his art to basically say the time has come to acknowledge this president was in a wheelchair. Everyone knows now; why hide it.
    Maybe he was not the only sculptor taking that position.
    William, the schools do mythologize Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, etc., etc. I think it’s the best they can do, given the Texas textbook standardization and given that teachers are passing along things that we all eventually realize are not anywhere near as cut-and-dried as originally taught. But we do end up with a shared foundation. When we start to figure out it’s all full of holes, do we feel cheated? A little. Santa Claus for age 2. For age 10: Roosevelt the successor to Hubert Heaver (oh, puke) as Herbert Hoover was called in my town or as I learned from the aforementioned sculptor’s family, as I recall.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Medical costs will be tough to control with the amount of lobbying money washing around DC. Consider someone old and infirm. Every day they are hooked up to all that monitoring equipment the costs are astronomical. What does this mean? The companies who provide that equipment stay in clover. The hospital that paid a lot for that equipment makes enough money to pay for it, to pay the nurses, to keep the beds open. Lots of money is distributed all over the place. It comes from insurance. If you’re old and have insurance, you will probably stay alive until that insurance runs out, unless someone strenuously intervenes.
    You are like a cash cow. You lie there and every day you are alive, you are draining the system of resources. Whether it’s state run or capitalist, the share of the GNP that goes to medicine grows the more we let it, so to speak.
    Your children and your doctors are unlikely to be unified about pulling the plug, but you yourself might just wish to be drugged enough for the pain so your body does what failing bodies naturally do.
    With every passing year we can use ever more costly medicine to fight that natural tendency to eventually fall apart and expire, but we have to remember to honor mortality.

  • Ellen Dibble

    The tax-free savings can still be achieved through putting money into a Roth IRA. You pay taxes up front on what you invest, but interest accrues tax-free, so — that’s an easy answer for that.

  • Brett

    I suppose the main problem I have with your perspective is how you view history by looking at it thorough today’s lens; one could argue you are intentionally shifting perspectives, from how historical figures were viewed in their own time and how we can examine them now, for ideological purposes. Which, as I’ve mentioned, is unfair and takes events out of context.

    People don’t view JFK as a saint, nor do they think FDR was perfect, nor does any person who lived in both Nixon’s time and now think he was wholly a corrupt and poor president. Also, you cite the EPA and OSHA as plusses for Nixon in one breath and in another bemoan those agencies’ existence?!? Or say he signed the Environmental Protection Act and say government has befouled our existence, without some middle ground; you can’t play both sides of that angle.

    All I’m really saying from my perspective is that there should be a balance between government and private enterprise. Where that demarcation line is, is where the devils’ details lay and where the debate should be.

    It is like your statement, “You would be a fool to go by information the local school board or state published.” And then in another comment say schools should be managed by local governments. With respect to schools, what is your solution? Privatization? Home schooling? Should our school systems be the product of local economies and governments only? Not at all? Should school systems be the product of some kind of economic and ideological Darwinism only with winners and losers? I don’t like NCLB, and I don’t think peter was advocating for that approach, he was simply saying that some measures of how a school is performing should attempt more than the anecdotal. I have to say, I can’t glean anything from your points except liberalism is bad, government is bad, and history shows us how bad both have been.

    Do you really think that if FDR had used his position as president to champion the rights of people with disabilities it would have been the right time? My experiences (and they are considerable) in that realm tell me the stigmas attached to people with disabilities have still not been removed to anyone’s satisfaction who knows what that really means. Budgets for human service programs have been slashed every year since 1980.

    The private sector usually provides grandstanding gestures to programs for people with disabilities. In my parent’s neighborhood, there is a new park that just opened up, and it is for the expressed purposes of serving children with disabilities; it was provided by a local, private, benevolent benefactor including a huge dedication ceremony and lots of pats on the back for how wonderful the donating organization has been. The park has a large 12-foot-high chain-link fence around it and is locked. If a parent who has a child with a disability and wants to use the park, he/she has to contact the agency and get a volunteer to coordinate with him/her to meet him/her and child at the park to have it unlocked. The benefactors claim they don’t want their donation to be used by everyone…so much for removing stigmas! When you took your child to the park, did you have to go through such hoops to have a spontaneous moment in a park with them? Without the Americans with Disabilities Act, would community access be as far along as it is?

    This is where we are now, and you think FDR could have prevailed back in the 1940′s? Aren’t you really trying to use liberal ideas against liberalism in this way? “He was not a god, he was just a human, so, therefore liberalism is bad” seems to be the message behind a lot of your arguments, not only against FDR but against most of the historical events you mention. In most communities with which I am familiar human service programs have been slashed 20%-30% just in the last year. Most private sector initiatives alone focus on the charitable aspects of helping people with disabilities, which in and of itself is stigmatizing.

    I have worked very closely with school systems in different counties, and I can say there are two main factors which determine good school systems from bad school systems: 1) forward thinking local governments 2) forward thinking parents who have money. Like Medicaid in human service programs, in school systems the Feds are merely an entity that has to be satisfied for funding-stream reasons. Take away Medicaid and you have human service programs left to local churches, community groups such Kiwanis and rotary clubs and benevolent benefactors. I think those organizations have a role, but I also don’t think they can provide needed services on their own. Likewise, if Federal government funding is left out of school systems altogether, then local schools are left to the limitations of local economies.

    One more thing; your statement: “Every President is graded by the unemployment rate.” And wrongfully so, “presidents [governments] can’t create jobs” is the mantra I hear from conservatives when they are championing the private sector, yet you wish to use the argument that they can to bash whichever liberal president of your choosing. This is typical of the doublespeak conservatism so prevalent today. The problem of creating jobs is a complex ensemble of factors that come together in concert with both private and public entities working together.

    Unfortunately, your solutions are little more than an amalgam of cowboy stereotyping, cliches and bootstrap individualism. I can almost agree with you at points, then you hip-shoot some perspective that, while having some truth, distorts. Your broadbrush of New Orleans residents is bigotry. You also seem to emphasize Medicaid going to lazy poor people, as if that is mostly what happens to Medicaid funding (by your “solutions” it is clear you haven’t been involved in any Medicaid programs on an administrative level). I think that the Medicare Subscription Drug Plan should never have been passed (particularly as there was no spending cut to pay for it) into law or that Medicare part B and part C should not even exist, by the way. Your idea for Social Security is privatization, something that was popular among conservatives a while ago; imagine if that had happened, especially considering how people lost their investments in this recent economic downturn? You have such a laundry list of “concerns” about government, governmental agencies, etc., it is difficult to address them, each one is complex. Your solutions are simplistic.

  • Ellen Dibble

    At the point when Republicans were touting the idea of steering a percentage of everybody’s Social Security into the stock market, I became very cynical about Republican Party maneuverings. This seems such a bald-faced maneuver to get the increasingly senior babyboomer generation — and everybody knows the older people are the ones who actually vote — to have more of a vested interest in the stock market.
    I mean, MORE of the seniors would have an interest, however meagre, in Wall Street. In the banks, in the welfare of corporate America.
    This would be a great thing, the lobbyists would think, because the AARP contingent would start to vote their pocketbooks, their savings accounts, which at that point being their Social Security accounts. Glory be. Even the impecunious would be waving the flag at rallies for Goldman Sachs and BP.
    Old people are easy to persuade, you know.

  • jeffe

    William I would not worry about Medicare. They keep lower the pay for doctors and in 5 years it will be almost impossible to find any doctor that will take Medicare.
    I just had this conversation with a doctor today in my drawing class,(he paints to relieve stress) and he told me that most of the doctors he knows have closed their Medicare list. He’s an older gent at 61 and he told me that all the doctors he knows that are between 55 and 65 are retiring early or thinking about it because health care is such a mess. The Obama bill will make it worse not better. The only answer was single payer with tort reform. Law suites are not the issue here, it’s the malpractice insurance that’s the killer. This is what my doctor friend had to say on the subject. He also thinks the pharmaceutical corporations are completely out of control. He would not discuss the insurance corporations much except to say that make doctors lives pretty awful.

    Moving back into the leadership aspect of this show, my opinion is that Obama has sold out big time. Both the good doctor and I agreed on that front. Obama is a bright man, a smart politician but he’s no FDR or Harry Truman for that matter. The entire system is so dysfunctional now I don’t think anything will ever get fixed. Wait and see, health care is going to collapse in the country in the next 5 to 10 years.

  • jeffe

    William, both the French and the British had pretty strong military’s before WW2 and yet they both folded to both the Japanese and the Germans pretty quickly. France fell in a matter of weeks to the Germans, remember Dunkirk. Most of South East Asia, which were British, French and Dutch colonies at the time fell to the Japanese in short order as well. Your arguments and placing blame on FDR for such events as the Bataan march are absurd and seem to be based not on any rational interpretation of history but political rhetoric.

    War is pretty messy and completly unpredictable.
    We bombed Vietnam and Cambodia and large areas of Laos back into the stone age to little effect except killing hundreds of thousands of people and destroying their land and forest. We had the most modern and well equipped military in the world at that time (still do now and we can’t control Afghanistan) and yet we lost the Vietnam war. How do you explain that?

  • William

    Ellen Dibble – The beauty of the All Savers Certificates as that I could spend the money now or save it. It was a bad idea to eliminate them.

  • William

    Brett – All history is based on “now vs then”. We can look at the past more objectively because we have more information on how the decisions were made and their intended purpose vs actual results.

    A lot of people view JFK as a Saint and especially the media. Remember when Chris Mathews came out with that silly phrase “Obama is the last Kennedy”. Sure Mathews is a poster child for liberalism run amuck, but come on…can’t we leave JFK in his grave?

    I used Nixon as an example of the media bias. How many American do you think know he started the EPA/OSHA? Few few, but they all know about Watergate. Also, ask the business community about OSHA and EPA regulations. They over reach and drive business overseas. They don’t try to seek a common ground. It’s their way or the highway. Not that we don’t need regulations but we need common sense regulations.

    Certainly there needs to be common ground between business and government. But the government does not create wealth, jobs. That is the private sector responsibility and if you kill it off or make it too expensive or too many regulations they will seek the path or least resistance and move to China, Mexico etc…

    You and Peter have not justified the purpose of the Dept of Education. They have taken too much money out of the system and have become “king makers” (i.e. Obama’s Race to the Top billion dollar giveaway). NCLB another 500 billion dollars spent and that was not enough. What is wrong with letting the local town, city state run their schools? It makes not sense to think some federal agency is going to make it better. Does that mean the federal government cannot help them out with funding? No…does it mean more accountable system? Yes.

    Yes, You would be a fool to trust the people running the local school system to choose a school. Why? They have outsourced their responisiblity to the federal government. They receive “guidelines” on how to teach, what to teach, diversity, who needs free lunch, breakfast, size of the bathrooms, how many bathroom, etc..etc..etc…from the federal government. Because I found out first hand when I “peeled off a layer of the onion”. How can 3 high schools all be rated “class A”? Their asnwer was “According to Federal Guidelines these schools are all rated A. Which one is the best? Like any question you have to ask “What is the end result? What are the consumers receiving? Ask the students, teachers, and parents of kids in those schools, working in those school, who graduated. Any school system can and will bend the numbers. How is this happening with the Dept. Of Education being in charge? Justify that…all those billions of dollars… Did the local school board become corrupted due to some federal regulations? Did they outsource their responsibility and accountability to the feds?

    Homeschool? I don’t do it, but they are not doing so bad. Charter Schools? – I’m not too keen on that idea.

    I offered my idea before. Eliminate the Dept. of Education and return control back to the local/city/state. If they fail, don’t blame the feds. It’s your problem, you deal with it. Which means, get those darn parents off their rear ends, turn off the tv, and make sure the kid does his homework. That is 75 percent of the problem.

    What is your solution?

    I can’t see where you justified the liberal idea of big government. Why? What is the purpose? Are all Americans dummies and only big government can run our lives for us?

    Yes, FDR should have used his position to help disabled people. Especially after his 3rd reelection. “Not the right time”. How many times have we heard that phrase? It’s never the right time.

    Why is it that up until the mid 1970′s schools were pretty well managed, funded, no major complaints except in minority communities? What went wrong? I always hear “we need more money”, Where is all that money going? Last time I check the USA spends more on schools than any other nation. Where is the money?

    Did I say the Americans with Disabilities Act was a bad idea? I said FDR should have shown some good leadership and let himself be photographed in a wheelchair. What’s wrong with that guy?

    Why do you think human services lost funding? Because the economy is down. Where does government get it’s funding? The private sector. Do you actually think every government program is exempt from an recession? Why?

    Liberals bashed Bush for 8 years over unemployement rate of 4.5 percent. It was the worse economy in 50 years. Who has a great effect on employment? The federal government. You can’t stand back and let Obama say “Let me spend 780 billion dollars and I’ll create 4 million jobs”. “Shovel Ready”….yada..yada…

    “Your broadbrush of New Orleans residents is bigotry.”

    That’s a false cheap shot and you know it. I did not invent the phrase “Chocolate City”. The media used those people as whipping boys on the President Bush. It was way out of line. Fact – NO has been a liberal democratic city for decades and it’s a mess. You can’t blame any conservative for what that city had turned into. You can’t blame me for a disfunctional mayor that could not even help his own people get onto a bus that sat in a parking lot. Those are all facts.

    You don’t like my solutions? Where are yours? Continue business as usual? You have no answer for the 60 billion dollars a year lost to fraud in Medicare.

    I offered solutions for poor on Medicare you did not. I want them to succeed and enjoy life. It’s sad to see so many people having to use Medicaid. It is usually due to a lack of education or skils. I recommended loaning them the money to go back to school. Tell those that could and should go into the military. A lot of people need a push in life. Many people have said their time in the military really helped them out. What is wrong with that?

    You want them to stay there? Don’t you care about the poor? The solution is what? Just keep them there like drug addicts..keep them happy? keep the federal administrators that run those programs employed? What sense does that make?

    “Your idea for Social Security is privatization” Where did I say that?

    I said let people invest 5 percent of their Social Security payments as they desire. What is wrong with that? Look at the chance you missed by not putting money into Google, GE, Coke, Microsoft, Intel, Apple,. How can you justify not letting a person invest 5 percent of their Social Security payment? Your answer is a typical liberal response “Oh..people don’t know how to do that..let government do it for you”. And the end result is “…1-2 percent return? ..it is an insane way to treat people.

    You have no answers or solutions to failed government programs. You have been convinced that gov. is the only answer. Just raise taxes and everything will work itself out.

    You know President Obama likes to use the word complex alot in his speeches. He is a big believer in the process..he likes the process..not solutions..just the process.

  • Brett

    great word, that impecunious!

  • Brett

    “Why do you think human services lost funding? Because the economy is down. Where does government get it’s funding? The private sector. Do you actually think every government program is exempt from an recession? Why?” -William

    Human service programs getting their funding streams from Federal, State and local governments have had their budgets cut every year since 1980. I know first hand, I’ve worked in the human service field since the mid-1970′s. Why didn’t their budgets increase during times when the economy was booming?

    ” Also, ask the business community about OSHA and EPA regulations. They over reach and drive business overseas.” -William

    I am very familiar with how OSHA and EPA interact with the business community. It is a joke; they are what I would call negligent in holding business’ feet to the fire when it comes to safety and environmental concerns. Go into any manufacturing/ energy plant during an OSHA inspection or EPA investigation. They go out of their way to look the other way. Any business person telling you otherwise is either an egregious violator or is making it up.

    “I said let people invest 5 percent of their Social Security payments as they desire. What is wrong with that? Look at the chance you missed by not putting money into Google, GE, Coke, Microsoft, Intel, Apple.” -William

    That would be great if people could go into the future, determine which stocks did well, then go back in time and invest! I would say allow a person all of his/her social security money under those circumstances! ;-) As Ellen points out, what a great way to get more people on the side of Wall Street! Why make lobbyists’ jobs any more difficult than they need to be, right? Wouldn’t private investing with social security money be “privatization”? Or are you to be accused of wanting that only if you use the term specifically?

    “It’s sad to see so many people having to use Medicaid. It is usually due to a lack of education or skills.” -William

    No, William, it’s usually due to a physical or mental disability, e.g., schizophrenia, quadriplegia, mental retardation (now known as intellectual disability), autism, cerebral palsy, etc. William, I was a human service county case manager for people receiving Medicaid for nearly thirty years. Your idea of the typical Medicaid recipient is MOSTLY way off. While some could be considered in the category of ignorant and lazy, mostly this is wrongful stereotyping.

    “FDR should have shown some good leadership and let himself be photographed in a wheelchair. What’s wrong with that guy?” -William

    That’s a bit like saying Lincoln should have shown more leadership and done more to give African-Americans civil rights.

    “You have been convinced that gov. is the only answer.” -Wlliam

    Nice straw man finish!

  • William

    jeffe – The French had a very good army going into WW-II. Their tanks were considered the best available. They tried to fight the war like in WW-I, but the tactics had changed. Also, I think there was a lack of will to win. They lost so many young men in WW-I that they had no stomach to fight and gave up.

    Vietnam – Endless debate. JFK had the right idea with more advisors, but his support for the coup on Diem might not have been the best decision. I think General Abrams had the right idea of “clear and hold” vice “clear and leave”. We did destroy alot of the Viet Cong during Tet. The South did a good job for itself during the 72 Easter Offensive, but required massive air support from us. I was in the Navy in 1981 when we were stationed off Vietnam to pick up boat people. A few of these refugees that we talked too told us some real horror stories how the Communists rounded up anyone from the previous government. A lot of people were shot out right and thousands of others sent off to concentration camps. It was much the same in Cambodia and Laos. The intelligence reports about Laos showed they loved to just tie someone up to a tree and let them starve to death.

    It is disgusting to see people wearing Che T-shits or little Communist symbols sometimes these days. If they only knew how bad that system was.

    Afghanistan – It is like Vietnam II. We are still training their army after 8 years? Very corrupt local government, too many Americans, too much American money…just like in Vietnam. Time to pull out and let the locals sort it out.

  • William

    Brett – Why didn’t their budgets increase during times when the economy was booming?

    Spending in the wrong areas? I know President Bush did not veto any spending plans. President Obama has not vetoed any spending plans.

    Are you suggesting there is no limit to spending for social programs? There has to be a limit. I would think we might have too many social programs and too many people chasing too few dollars.

    Social Security – I said and I’ll say it again. Let people invest “THEIR” money, 5 percent, how they choose to invest it. You fall back on evil Wall Street nonsense. Ok…the liberals are in charge, do away with Wall Street. No more stocks, bonds, nothing. The Federal government will give out loans, grants, determine winners and losers. Here is your chance. Go for it!

    You are in the front lines of Medicaid. I’ll defer to your wisdom. I’m on the sidelines watching the cost go up. Almost every state said they cannot keep up with the costs. I think the total number of people getting it is around 50 million. Does that sound correct? Close? Not all those people are disabled.

    You have to get people off it. How are you going to do that? I offered by plan, once again where is yours?

    “That’s a bit like saying Lincoln should have shown more leadership and done more to give African-Americans civil rights.”

    Not a good choice..how about “It would have been like JFK pushing for the Civil Rights Act when he was a Senator or during his first day in office”.

    Once again, give me some solutions. We can only borrow so much money from Japan and China. The printing press might run out of ink soon.

  • jeffe

    Brett you’re wasting your time here. This guy is against government. I here this from Republicans and Libertarians all the time except when they get into power it’s more of the same.

    I will say this though, I’m not against Medicaid or Medicare but they are both failing due to who they pay doctors and the amount of paperwork required. Doctors cannot afford it anymore. They just lowered the hourly pay for Medicare patients visits. This means doctors lose money on every Medicare patient. Doctors are not going to except these patients and more and more of them will end up in hospitals for routine visits.

    The system is broken and congress and the president have not done enough to fix it. Granted it’s a huge mess and very complex system and in some ways may be beyond hope. If the question of leadership is the issue, I think Obama has failed the nation when it comes to health care.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Where I live there has always been a government commission that could block an insurance company request to increase premiums, but only this spring did that government entity exercise their power. With all the restrictions that Obama says are in the new bill, it seems to me the states can and will exercise actual control (not the kind of control and regulation that the Minerals Management board exercised, or the SEC, but real control). Then the insurers will decide this is not such a profitable business after all. And they won’t want to be in this business. And we’ll be back to single payer, government-supervised, which according to your student, the doctor, was the best idea to begin with.
    Just let the insurance industry hand it back to us, thanks but no thanks. It was nice when we could cherry-pick and skim, but not anymore.

  • jim sorenson

    Nine weeks in, and the Feds are continuing to frustrate the efforts of the local and state governemtns to protect their coasts. It is a good thing that Obamacare will not have the same red-tape problems.

    The well keeps leaking. Pray that BP does not go bankrupt.

    Obama was slow in realizing the seriousness of the oil leak, slow in deploying skimmers and other oil remediation efforts, slow in listening to local officials. No decisive force from the federal government. Keep worshipping at the altar of the large intrusive federal government. The marshalling of massive force has not been done. Obama wants the chaos. He is more interested in using the disaster as a political lever for his cap and trade bill. Politicizing a disaster is outrageous and shameful.

  • jeffe

    I sometimes agree with Libertarians and Republicans who say big government is the problem. Were I differ is not in wanting to dismantle it but wanting it to work well and be efficient. Maybe I’m hoping for to much and I am naive in thinking this way. However government worked pretty well in WW2 despite the inefficiencies it did get things done and the allies prevailed. If you look at how fast the auto industries switched from cars to tanks and so on it is amazing. Now here we are, with one of the largest oil spill disasters in the history of our country and the reaction from the all parts of government from federal on down to local is an unmitigated mess. It’s amazing and Obama and Washington are really showing the rest of the country how isolated they really are. That it’s all about them and not about the reality on the ground.

  • Ellen Dibble

    I think it was ABC this morning that showed a map of the Gulf, showing most of the spill still off the coast. And I still keep hearing that there should be barges nose-to-tail coming together across our southern coast, from all over the globe, and the kind of tankers that can scoop up the oil and take it to shore to the refineries. Oh, there is the problem that for some reason the United States has not built supertankers, so there is the Jones Act. But then I hear that has been waived. Not everybody concurs whether or not. Someone here posted that help from something like 11 countries had been turned down. Then I heard that a certain few countries, their help has been accepted. Now, on Sunday, I hear some official saying that no help whatsoever has been turned down.
    I suppose it depends who you ask. BP might have turned down help while the Coast Guard accepts it. someone suggests the Navy should take command and control.
    Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana puts on the record that we as a nation should be planning independence from fossil fuels, understanding we aren’t there yet. Wow. She also said that it had been learned in Katrina not to depend on insurance companies for monetary rescue. Too much stalling, litigating, paperwork. Everyone agreed that letting the Exxon Valdez method proceed, where the whole process took 20 years, and in the end the payout was $15,000 apiece — that shouldn’t be allowed this time.
    I still don’t know if there are fumes making people sick across the coast. And I don’t know if the real onslaught is a week off the coast and blockable, which from the map shown seems possible. All tankers should be heading there, to stand behind a cortege of barges, whatever sort of barge will do. Hopefully someone is planning that way. Design the barricade and build it. I can’t believe we aren’t sufficiently organized to do that.

  • Brett

    Trying to argue a point with you is very much like dealing with quicksilver.

    I point out that Federal, State and local governments’ funding for human services have been cut consistently. Your “anecdotal” response: “Because the economy is down.” Then I point out that funding in those areas has been consistently cut since 1980 (meaning funding has been cut irrespective of how the economy is fairing). Rather than recognize that your hypothesis is wrong, you offer an ad hominem response: “Are you suggesting there is no limit to spending for social programs? There has to be a limit.”

    Clearly you have no working knowledge of human service programs or how their funding works. Most programs I’m talking about, e.g., mental health programs, substance abuse programs, geriatric care, brain injury, mental retardation, physical therapy, occupational therapy and rehabilitation, etc., get a very small slice of Federal money (usually 9%-11%, or even less); and depending on the type of program it is and how it functions in a community (whether or not it is state run, for example) it gets either a small slice from the state (or in the state-run facilities, a larger slice). The rest of the funding comes from local government. In agencies that are private-non-profit, they also get some private donations.

    Most of those agencies–make that all of those agencies–receive Medicaid dollars in some way or another, even most of the few for-profit agencies out there (and there are a few, albeit very few). Medicaid is state managed, with the particular state supplying at least 50% of the money for Medicaid (if the program is well managed and passes certain inspections that are fairly stringent).

    The fastest growing part of Medicaid is funding for nursing home care. Also, poverty alone does not in and of itself qualify a person for Medicaid coverage. With the aging boomers (a friend who has Parkinson’s and another who suffers from vascular dementia come to mind), Medicaid is playing an increasing role.

    State Medicaid officials perform regular inspections at all facilities receiving Medicaid funding to determine if all proper paper work is in order (data collection, program plans including goals and objectives, mission statements, monthly, quarterly, semi-annual and annual reports, individual service plans, assessment tools, and so on). They also inspect the premises for fire safety inspections performed by the local fire marshall, evacuations in emergency plans, cleanliness, accessibility, food safety, nutritious meal planning, etc. If all of these areas pass muster, the facilities are issued an operational license for one year. Additionally, inspections on aforementioned paper work are conducted throughout the year, sometimes as surprise inspections. If inspections do not pass, fines are levied, and a period of time for the agency to comply with regulations is determined. Then, another inspection is performed after that period expires. If the agency is in compliance, no further action is taken; if there is not compliance, more fines and a very real threat that funding will be denied. The agency can choose to not accept funding, but most depend on those dollars to operate.

    Medicaid funded facilities operate this way. (Notice I say facilities, not patients, clients, consumers, participants, individual recipients, etc.) Facilities figure the number of hours they serve patients and types of services billable to Medicaid. I find most government-run agencies are well run. Private, non-profit agencies operate similarly but also take fees from the patient (paid for out of the patient’s SSI, SSDI, SSA monthly checks), and those agencies usually get less money from Medicaid for their facilities and services. These agencies mostly are run well, but because they might receive less Medicaid funding, they also are not held to as high a standard of regulatory compliance. Private, for-profit agencies generally get no Medicaid funding for their facilities, but do get money from government entities indirectly through patient fees, who in turn pay for services using their aforementioned monthly checks. These programs are the worst! (Unless they are really high-end elite programs for the very wealthy). They use staff who are under trained, cut corners on facility safety and accessibility, scrimp on meals and therapeutic activities, in addition to not utilizing clinical support for consulting and program planning (those elements cut into profits, you see).

    Private, for-profit agencies are generally not subject to the stringent inspections and regulatory compliance as state run and private, non-profit agencies. They don’t even have to have a license (many don’t even apply because it means inviting scrutiny). I find that those agencies over medicate their patients (to keep them docile), lie to family members about care, progress, and problems involving their loved ones (patients), cover up incidents, and generally operate like any business looking only at a bottom line (not unlike BP). The private, for-profit agencies waste more of your and my tax dollars by providing substandard service with little or no accountability. They also take all of the patients monthly income, and then some, for services; it’s a travesty in many cases. Think of it like when a person receiving a government check goes to the store and buys junk food with their money, neither the food manufacturer nor the store have to be inspected by Medicaid’s inspectors or held accountable by any government agency providing the check to the patient.

    Like you, I want accountability in government; I also want accountability in the corporate world. I believe the corporate world will only be accountable if they are held to a tough regulatory standard imposed by government (and this will only work if the government agency responsible is efficient, responsive, and not corrupt), I also agree that there is often a problem with government in that…among many factors, one is: who oversees them and holds them accountable? There are watch-dog organizations, sure, and I have been involved in some of them over the years; but, within the realm of human services, many people don’t care about people with disabilities, or the poor, or battered women, or drug addicts, etc. To someone unfamiliar with human services, for a watch-dog group to generate negative publicity toward an agency over, let’s, say, program plans that don’t address a need for more clinical support, or annual reports that seem wrongly rubber stamped by Medicaid, etc., it falls on deaf ears. Unless there is very observable, widespread abuse and neglect, watch-dog groups’ concerns look like liberal, neurotic fastidiousness to the general public–the public doesn’t relate such concerns to government waste, or negligence, or inefficiency, etc., The general public also sees watch-dog groups as only being advocates for more funding, even if that is not a thrust of the group.

    I would love to see fraud in Medicare and Medicaid addressed, who wouldn’t? I would also like to see those agencies enforce their regulations using more teeth, who wouldn’t? I would love to see bureaucrats become more efficient, more effectual, more innovative, etc., who wouldn’t? I also think the private sector plays a very crucial adjunct role in addressing social concerns, who doesn’t?

    Medicare (the part that is responsible for the elderly) should be based on need and not an automatic entitlement of age 65. The Prescription drug plan (Part D) should be dropped, except for those in true need, and a spending cut in another area should be made in order to pay for it. The “Cadillac” components of Medicare (Part C) should be cut or the premiums for Part C should be raised.

    Medicaid is more difficult because different states have different levels of wealth, but I think that reimbursements for doctors accepting Medicaid should be raised to make it more feasible for the doctors to accept Medicaid insurance from patients. I also think there should be regulatory standards determining a minimum number of how many facilities and doctors accept Medicaid in each state. Access is a problem with Medicaid.

    Social Security should also be based on need (purely for survivors, the disabled and for seniors truly in need), and the part that is automatic for people over 62 should be examined very closely. My generation and the generation after me are paying for older people, and paying them often more than they have contributed. I know so many well-off elderly people who get a government check each month, when they truly are not in need.

    I’ll admit, I don’t have a lot of answers; I don’t know the best way to rein in excessive spending, fraud and waste in social programs. I do know that making people on Medicaid join the armed services, or making them go to college or trade school without any reasonable ideas about how that would be managed/monitored is a bad idea, or at the least a half-baked idea.

  • William

    Brett – Dealing with you is like dealing with someone who as been a bureaucrat his entire life and used to accepting failure.

    Yes, I don’t work in your industry. I just read the budget reports and see that Bush increased spending in every government agency by 25 percent. Obama has not cut spending. If your sector is not getting funding it is a mystery.

    You gave a good background on the medicaid sector.

    I offered solutions for moving people off Medicaid. You toss them aside as a bad idea/half-baked. So your solution is to do nothing. You are an insider for a great number of years. You have no clue how to attempt a fix? 50 million people using Medicaid and not one idea how to help them get off it and pay for their own medical insurance? Nothing…

    You wish the government would address the fraud? address a 60 billion dollar per year loss? Not solve it? Just address it? People in government consider that “the cost of doing business”?

    The idea of just the needy receiving Social Security but everyone pays into it would never work.

    My solution: Everyone that works must pay some Federal Income tax. The 45 percent that don’t pay any Federal Income tax should be reduced to less than 1 percent. Shared rewards equals shared responsiblity.

    I just finished reading a boot “Crash Course” by Paul Ingrassia. It is about the demise of the US auto industry. Just replace GM with the government. The unions can be the government workers and the economic forces stay the same. GM eventually went under because they did not want to solve problems. Just push them off. The UAW did not care, like alot of government worker, Congress, do not care, (60 billion dollar loss per year) just so they got theirs. The economic forces eventually caught up to them, just like they will catch up to the government and the people that run it.

  • Brett

    “The idea of just the needy receiving Social Security but everyone pays into it would never work.” -William

    Ah! You left out the part where people receiving Social Security have always received far more than they’ve paid into the system, so we currently and have always had a system where everyone pays into it but many of those who are not truly needy receive far more in benefits than they have paid. Besides, Social Security would be solvent if it had never been pilfered by the government for other projects.

    The solution for Medicaid will be different in my state than yours, maybe if you ceased ranting and paid attention to how Medicaid is state funded you could see that the Feds only match dollars but do not control the inner workings of how the program is handled state to state. If you look you’ll find that Red states perform far worse than Blue ones…hmmm?

    I have never worked with people on Medicaid who weren’t disabled, or for whom Medicaid was more than temporary (poor people looking to get back up). Do you propose sending quadriplegics into the military service? How about the profoundly mentally retarded to college? How about the poor learning how to clean latrines at an Army barracks instead of being trained for a real job in a community program? This will save Medicaid? The military is a very wasteful entity, and they spend much more money on each individual than any program I’ve ever worked for. How about your idea of a loan for people to go to college who are on Medicaid? Would it be an interest-free loan? And, if it is not (or even if it is)…let’s see, forcing people to take out loans…hmmm? Gee, gosh, I don’t know about that, William.

    I worked one job where I helped get people trained into competitive employment, paying taxes and less dependent on the government. We had an 87% success rate. In fact most of my focus has been to get people to be functioning members of society in some way.

    You are trying to back door the “welfare queen” idea and it doesn’t work with me.

    My solution in my life has been to actively work within “the system” to change things on the ground level. What have you done besides armchair ranting and reading books that pander to your ideology?

  • Ric

    I find callers and certain experts calling for “helping” the people who are losing or have lost their jobs quite ridiculous. They’re the same people who cry “socialism” at us in the blue states when we talk about Social Security, healthcare for all, and other social and economic safety nets.

    So what’s good for the goose… The Federal gov should not be propping up false economies when the deregulated “market” has spoken–and it HAS spoken through Republican deregulation that these Gulf disasters are a necessary trade-off to “drill, baby, drill”.

    This is blatant socialism. Let the Gulf economy fail; the “market” will provide. Let. Them. Fail.

  • http://onpointradio.org chas

    I need to step out of the box a bit. It APPEARS that BP and many others have finally come up with a solution on the current well failure. Given that I think if the technology used to contain this spill is kept in place on the Gulf, there is no reason to stop drilling in the Gulf. Continuing the research for alternate NRG sources is still imperative for the long term should be a very high priority for all including the Oil industry whose real business is selling energy which currently is Oil.

Aug 27, 2014
Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, shakes hands with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, right, as Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, center, looks at them, prior to their talks after after posing for a photo in Minsk, Belarus, Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014. (AP)

Vladimir Putin and Ukraine’s leader meet. We’ll look at Russia and the high voltage chess game over Ukraine. Plus, we look at potential US military strikes in Syria and Iraq.

Aug 27, 2014
The cast of the new ABC comedy, "Black-ish." (Courtesy ABC)

This week the Emmys celebrate the best in television. We’ll look at what’s ahead for the Fall TV season.

Aug 26, 2014
Matthew Triska, 13, center, helps Alex Fester, 10, to build code using an iPad at a youth workshop at the Apple store on Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013, in Stanford, Calif.  (AP)

Educational apps are all over these days. How are they working for the education of our children? Plus: why our kids need more sleep.

Aug 26, 2014
Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, right, speaks with Ady Barkan of the Center for Popular Democracy as she arrives for a dinner during the Jackson Hole Economic Policy Symposium at the Jackson Lake Lodge in Grand Teton National Park near Jackson, Wyo. Thursday, Aug. 21, 2014.  (AP)

Multi-millionaire Nick Hanauer says he and his fellow super-rich are killing the goose–the American middle class — that lays the golden eggs.

On Point Blog
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Poutine Whoppers? Why Burger King Is Bailing Out For Canada
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Why Facebook And Twitter Had Different Priorities This Week
Friday, Aug 22, 2014

There’s no hidden agenda to the difference between most people’s Facebook and Twitter feeds this week. Just a hidden type of emotional content and case use. Digiday’s John McDermott explains.

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Friday, Aug 22, 2014

On mixed media messaging, Spotify serendipity and a view of Earth from the International Space Station.

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