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Time to turn on the theatre?

Mark Mardell | 13:58 UK time, Thursday, 27 May 2010

oilyslick_getty_226.jpgI am off in a moment to see the president perform in his first full-blown news conference for more than a year.

The headline, of course, will be a six-month extension of a ban on drilling, but more fascinating will be the theatrics.

He has to counter a rising tide of criticism. The attacks come mainly from Washington commentators, politicians and journalists.

It is true one of the most trenchant and damaging assaults was by James Carville, the extraordinary Democratic strategist from Louisiana.

He said FDR - Franklin Delano Roosevelt - would have leapt out of his wheelchair to be on the Gulf in person, directing the operation.

But when I was last down in Louisiana, the anger I heard expressed was aimed at BP, not the president. Still, a poll out today does suggest a majority don't think he has handled this well.

Perhaps it is because Barack Obama doesn't get, or doesn't like, a key part of his job. I watched rather amazed one morning news show yesterday, on a supposedly White House-friendly network, as the two presenters and a reporter worked themselves into a lather about how out of touch the president was on this issue, how badly he had handled the crisis.

Their complaint? The fact the administration doesn't have the equipment to run the operation? The failure to change the law so the federal government can be in charge? Lack of enough oil-soaking booms in the Gulf, perhaps?

No. It was that he was in San Francisco. It sent the wrong signals. They, of course, didn't mention today's news conferences or tomorrow's visit. But he hadn't satisfied their craving for theatre.

It is rather startling that a president who rose to office using the power of image and symbolism and display to such huge effect doesn't often reach for these tools these days.

It's true you campaign in poetry and govern in prose, but Mr Obama could at least try to make his prose an exciting page-turner, not a dry, instructional manual. Perhaps I exaggerate.

We all know he can turn it on, when he wants to, when he can be bothered. But he seems to think that working hard behind the scenes, getting experts together, designing policies, is enough.

For heaven's sake, this isn't Germany. The American media, and perhaps the public, want a president who hugs, weeps and waves his arms, an emoter-in-chief, not a tip-top civil servant.

My advice for the president would come straight from Private Eye.

"Produce small onion."

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  • 1. At 3:33pm on 27 May 2010, publiusdetroit wrote:

    Breaking news. U.S. Coast Guard Commander Thad Allen announced that BP has stopped all gas and oil leaking from the well with the "top kill" application of drilling mud.

    Next will come the concrete cap.

    Now the efforts can be directed to the clean-up of this disaster.

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  • 2. At 3:56pm on 27 May 2010, Andy Post wrote:

    Do you know who I think is most out of touch these days? Political pundits.

    I'm also seriously tired of the Press covering itself. I don't care what journalists think (present company excepted, obviously*). Just get me the story, ok? Stop guessing.


    ___________
    * ...and Fareed Zakaria, too

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  • 3. At 4:05pm on 27 May 2010, HabitualHero wrote:


    I can't stand theatrical politics. Someone who quietly gets on with the job is infinitely preferable to some preening poseur spouting overblown rhetoric for the cameras. Such people always remind me of Big Willy Shakespeare's.....



    " ....a poor player
    That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
    And then is heard no more: it is a tale
    Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
    Signifying nothing."

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  • 4. At 4:06pm on 27 May 2010, Philly-Mom wrote:

    Wait - are we talking about the same hot-shot celebrity who was merely an empty orator? Wasn't he the rookie who would dazzle us with fancy talk and not know how to function within the capitol machine?
    -- Good grief. All this work behind the scenes, making policies... how odd.

    Meh. Press ops are a catch 22. People want to know that solutions are underway, but we don't agree on what the best solutions out to be. The big show is as dangerous as it's useful.

    Cue lights...

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  • 5. At 4:07pm on 27 May 2010, Scott0962 wrote:

    "For heaven's sake, this isn't Germany. The American media, and perhaps the public, want a president who hugs, weeps and waves his arms, an emoter-in-chief, not a tip-top civil servant."

    We do? That's news to this American. I don't know about where you come from Mark but over here in spite of decades of attempted indocrination in touchy-feely, get in touch with your feminine side BS, a man who weeps in public is still widely perceived as less than manly. Hardly the image of leadership Obama would want to project.

    Anger, yes. Impatience, sure. Exasperation, no problem. Hugging? Probably want to stick to opposite sex only--unless the audience is gay or it's accompanied by a manly slap on the back. Waving arms? He might want to practice that so it looks natural on camera. But weeping? His political opposition would have a field day.

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  • 6. At 4:28pm on 27 May 2010, BluesBerry wrote:

    President Obama is going to hold a press conference at 12:45 pm to discuss his administration's response to the oil spill.
    The oil spill is still spreading through the Gulf of Mexico and onto the coastline.
    Obama can show all the anger he can muster, but I doubt if the public will give a hoot. The public is not going to be interested in all the things that the Obama Administration has done over the past month. The public will want to know what is going to be done. Obama shaking his fist and weaping in wailing is simply not among them.
    The Obama Administration has sent its top scientists, like Steven Chu, to BP to supervise the “top kill” plan and recommend alternatives should that fail. The public pressure will come from a growing awareness of one more area of American incest; this among the oil industry, the agency meant to regulate it and the President’s Administration.
    Personally, I don’t think this Press conference will do Obama much good. There’s too much anger, too many unanswered questions.
    My own curiosity is not about what has been done, but
    1. what happened in the first place (potential cover-up) and
    2. what will be done (I’d like to ask Obama why he hasn’t reached out an open hand of friendship to Iran. Iran claims the expertise to solve this horrible problem. Does the American “hatred” for Iran preclude a humbling itself in order to resolve this spill? Is Obama afraid that Iran will stop the spill, will help the clean-up, and he will lose face with an American public that would see Iranians working their buts off to help them? What would happen to further Iran sanctions, or the ones that exist?)

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  • 7. At 4:56pm on 27 May 2010, Michael Paquette wrote:

    Americans have little patience with anything regarding bad news these days. High unemployment(for US standards), a slugish economy and partisan politics to the likes we've haven't seen for decades. As Americans, we're a very angry bunch right now with a cynicism that nothing is good any more. A lousy time for anyone to be a US president.

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  • 8. At 5:14pm on 27 May 2010, cynic555 wrote:

    I don't think the American public want an arms waving President - they just want a competent leader who can properly access situations and take decisive actions.

    Obama's ability to make good speeches carried him through his first yr -- now people are looking for substance and I suspect many question whether he's up to the task.

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  • 9. At 5:20pm on 27 May 2010, Andy wrote:

    If you had watched Anderson Cooper on CNN recently you would have seen:

    - despite 36 days since the explosion there are no significant federal government clean up operations on the coast

    - the Army Corps of Engineers (part of the federal government) stalled Louisiana on a plan to protect the coast until it was too late

    - the federal government had no credible plans in place to handle something like this

    - the federal government was lax in monitoring and regulating offshore platforms

    I think these are the reasons why Americans are angry with the President, because the buck stops with him. While you may be partially right next time I suggest you watch more than one TV channel before drawing conclusions. Hope that helps.

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  • 10. At 5:32pm on 27 May 2010, Protocol417 wrote:

    Personally? I think I'll opt for the tip-top civil servant. Politicians who show more emotion than a bit of impatience or appropriate solemnity usually get creamed here, no matter their gender.

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  • 11. At 5:35pm on 27 May 2010, GH1618 wrote:

    Carville's statement about FDR is ridiculous. FDR did not rush to the scene of disasters pretending to be in charge on the scene. Had Obama done so, his critics would have accused him of grandstanding.

    The President always has communication channels with anyone he needs to talk with. He does not need to be present at the scene. Showing up too early would not serve any purpose.

    Carville is still sore that his candidate lost the Democratic nomination and is taking it out on Obama.

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  • 12. At 6:00pm on 27 May 2010, mabelwhite wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 13. At 6:21pm on 27 May 2010, U14483105 wrote:

    My sentiments do not lie with other American xenophobes and chauvinists, so take that into consideration before reading the following. The British public is supposed to be smarter, greener, less politically naive and more humane than the American one. I had my doubts, but now they are confirmed: Where is the internal outcry over your oil colossus BP that bestrides the world? What about the fact that your British Petroleum corporation's construction contracts were with Halliburton? Why is an oil spill whose dimensions are larger than your country not resulting in pressures being put upon BP domestically? Where is the British moral courage now? Is this energy titan granted free rein by the British because it represents a vestige of lost empire?

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  • 14. At 6:35pm on 27 May 2010, Fluidly Unsure wrote:

    "For heaven's sake, this isn't Germany. The American media, and perhaps the public, want a president who hugs, weeps and waves his arms, an emoter-in-chief, not a tip-top civil servant."

    Well put Mark.

    @Scott0962
    "We do? That's news to this American. I don't know about where you come from Mark but over here in spite of decades of attempted indocrination in touchy-feely, get in touch with your feminine side BS, a man who weeps in public is still widely perceived as less than manly. Hardly the image of leadership Obama would want to project."

    How about GWB? He wasn't touchy-feely. He showed sincere care and concerned for people. It doesn't take a macho attitude to be manly, and it doesn't take a touchy-feely approach to be caring. Our previous president had the ability Obama seems to be missing.

    http://hillbuzz.org/2009/11/10/thank-you-former-president-george-w-bush-and-former-first-lady-laura-bush/

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  • 15. At 6:48pm on 27 May 2010, Atomic_Mash wrote:

    I can understand the difficulty of trying to stop an oil leak at underwater pressures greater than 1 ton per square inch.

    However, if BP had been serious about stopping the oil, they would've enlisted the services (at BPs expense) of the experts in the field: their competitors - Shell, Exxon Mobil, Chevron, etc. such that each one would be working on plan A, B, C and D simultaneously.

    Instead, BP has tried plan A, and when that failed, it was back to the drawing board for plan B, and so on while millions of gallons gushed out 24 hours a day.

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  • 16. At 7:11pm on 27 May 2010, Graham Jones wrote:

    I love the way you talk about a left leaning network, as if the BBC were neutral!

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  • 17. At 7:13pm on 27 May 2010, Andy Post wrote:

    The problem is that there are a whole bunch of politicians running around like chickens with their heads cut off, making a lot inane suggestions and issuing pointless critiques about something that has nothing at all to do with politics and that they know nothing about.

    This is an engineering issue. The politicians would do well to shut up and get out of the way.

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  • 18. At 7:18pm on 27 May 2010, Andy Post wrote:

    Ref. 13, U14483105:

    "Where is the internal outcry over your oil colossus BP that bestrides the world?"

    Because this is primarily Amoco. They merged with BP a little over 10 years ago. They made a decision after the merger to go with the BP brand. I don't know why, but given the year of the decision, 2001, I could make a fair guess as to the reason.

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  • 19. At 7:23pm on 27 May 2010, PursuitOfLove wrote:

    Mark, very interesting post. And I don't mean that in an entirely good way.


    First off, president Obama is hosting his first full-blown press conference in ten months, not over a year as you had said.

    Now on to your post. You write that "I watched rather amazed one morning news show yesterday, on a supposedly White House-friendly network, as the two presenters and a reporter worked themselves into a lather about how out of touch the president was on this issue, how badly he had handled the crisis."

    24-hour news channels discuss a lot of things to fill the time. I would urge you not to take to heart everything they say during the daylight hours. The stuf to pay attention to on those channels are the prime time shows such as Keith Olberman and Rachel Maddow. Also, I advise you to watch more than one show and/or channel to get a better feel for what the people (if not the journalists and pundants of all political stripes) think of any story/hot button issue.


    "Their complaint? The fact the administration doesn't have the equipment to run the operation? The failure to change the law so the federal government can be in charge? Lack of enough oil-soaking booms in the Gulf, perhaps?"

    All of which (particularly the second one) would have been superbly justifyed reasons to be angry about, and ones that I could not agree more on!! You would think that a mechinism would already have been in place allowing the federal government to take over since this isn't exactly our first time contending with a massive oil spill. But no. The corporations' strangle hold of the government prevented such laws from being enacted.

    "No. It was that he was in San Francisco. It sent the wrong signals."

    Which is why we call it the "beltway bubble."


    "They, of course, didn't mention today's news conferences or tomorrow's visit. But he hadn't satisfied their craving for theatre."

    Perhaps. Though I agree that they crave the wrong things, most reasonable and objective people (both in and out of the beltway) agree that Obama made a pretty big mistake not visiting earlier on when it happened. After all, it's been 5 weeks. It would have sent a nice strong message that he hasn't forgotten New Orleans and that he would do everything within his power to help them stop the oil flow, clean up and recover. I'm not saying he should have been there the day after, but certainly within a week or two of it's occurance. If this were any other city, perhaps him waiting as long as he did to visit could have been forgiven. But this is a city that as felt badly betrayed after hurricane Katrina, of which it has only just begun to recover. And then another devistating disaster happens which the federal government appears uninterested in aiding? I wouldn't be surprised if they begin making secessionist noises along with Bob McDonold from being so neglected.


    "Mr Obama could at least try to make his prose an exciting page-turner, not a dry, instructional manual."

    100% agree! If only you had stopped here. It is true that Americans don't want their presidents to be robots. But this nation is not a flat character; we are a round one. We want more than one quality in leadership. We want a healthy balance between behind-the-scenes, expert gathering and policy designing and the human emotion that we all display from time to time. Too much of one will not be tolerated long here, especially emotion!! You want to show off those skills? You're on the wrong coast.


    "For heaven's sake, this isn't Germany."

    Cue the offended E-mails from Germans in 3. . . 2. . . 1. Though I must admit, I am relieved to see you didn't say Britain!

    "The American media, and perhaps the public, want a president who hugs, weeps and waves his arms, an emoter-in-chief, not a tip-top civil servant."

    As explained above, we want both. Frankly, an incompatant weepy touchy-feely president scares me. Crying over issues does not solve them.

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  • 20. At 7:27pm on 27 May 2010, Elios wrote:

    " I had my doubts, but now they are confirmed: Where is the internal outcry over your oil colossus BP that bestrides the world? "

    U14483105, this argument is farcical. Why should they be? BP is a company run and controlled by individuals from all over the world that just happens to be headquarted in the UK. The British people and Government have no say or control over it, its policies or anything. Just because its named "BP" doesn't mean it is and has to be 100% representative of Britain or as you recolously suggested its long disappeared empire. You aware that at least 40% of its operations are in the United States and Middle East too? Such as Amoco for example. In fact, many oil related accidents lately on US oil are BP related. Almost none in other countries. Seems to me that our government lets BP do whatever they please. So Britain should be held accountable for American policy to let oil companies foreign or domestic to do what they please on American soil? Farcical.

    Whats funny and contradictory about this "logic" is that I bet you'd be outraged and be saying the same things as me if foreigners said the same thing if this were Chevron or Haliburton on the hot seat.

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  • 21. At 7:28pm on 27 May 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    According to the most recent opinion polls "60% of Americans were unhappy with the government's response."



    Despite our Commander-in-Chief voting - "present".

    [As usual]

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  • 22. At 7:28pm on 27 May 2010, rodidog wrote:

    " For heaven's sake, this isn't Germany. The American media, and perhaps the public, want a president who hugs, weeps and waves his arms, an emoter-in-chief, not a tip-top civil servant."

    This administration gets prickly over questions from the press on the oil spill, has various officials contradicting each other, and say's they're in control but not responsible. Meanwhile, nothing is being done to help prevent the shoreline from being smothered in goo. Apparently, he is now taking credit for capping the leak even though it was BP who suggested it and carried it out. Tip-top civil servant indeed.

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  • 23. At 7:38pm on 27 May 2010, Grisha wrote:

    On the drive home last night, listening to the BBC, I heard a woman fulminating explosively about how the Obama Administration "should drop everything, shove BP out of the way, call in the military and GET THE JOB DONE".

    (sigh) ......to a (wo)man with a hammer, every problem is a nail.

    When was the last time the US military demonstrated expertise in capping rogue well-heads more than a mile below the ocean surface? (A: never happened). Where is the already assembled standby team of experts who could resolve this problem right away...and, with time, GET THE JOB DONE? (A: on BP's consultant list). High decibel commentators like this are the reason representative democracies prevail and populist revolutions fail....it is often better to approach an urgent issue with dispassion and reason, as non-cathartic and painful as that might seem at the time, in order to arrive at a positive outcome. The world has always been complicated, complex, and obstinately resistant to short-term solutions thought up on the spot. Yes, the underlying problem in this case is the too comfortable relationship between industry regulators and operators, but that is an issue better resolved when the house is no longer in flames.

    Just as one saw happen when too-big-to-fail financial institutions were rescued first and re-regulated later, the US president has again demonstrated the power of applied intellect over blind passion. Quite frankly, I don't want my surgeon being "theatrical" in the operating theater.

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  • 24. At 7:46pm on 27 May 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    Mark, the Americans' beef is not about the ONE's visit to SF.

    It's about visiting Getty's at the time of a unprecedented oil spill.

    That's what lowered his ratings.

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  • 25. At 7:47pm on 27 May 2010, Operations wrote:

    From 2000 to 2008 the US did the same thing that the UK did in the 1980s, and turned over all of the defense industry developed Navy deep water equipment to contractors in the oil industry (the UK used Cable and Wireless). This included the underwater search and recovery, and submarine rescue systems.

    The original designers of the equipment retired or scattered to other jobs as the equipment itself was transferred from a analytical design intensive industry to an industry that wasn't big on real science and engineering, and uses the trial and error method of developing capabilities.

    So now the only experts the US Navy can call in are the oil industry experts - the very people who can't fix the problem now.

    Obama didn't have any options here but to wait for BP to fix the problem.

    And unlike Katrina, there were no thousands dead, nor tens of thousands in danger.

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  • 26. At 7:51pm on 27 May 2010, Elios wrote:

    "How about GWB? He wasn't touchy-feely. He showed sincere care and concerned for people. It doesn't take a macho attitude to be manly, and it doesn't take a touchy-feely approach to be caring. Our previous president had the ability Obama seems to be missing."

    You mean like his tepid response to Hurricanes Katrina, Irene, or the massive humanitarian disaster he created called Iraq? I didn't see any "sincere care" for the South Sudanese either.

    As another user earlier said correctly, doing such is dismissed as grandstanding which Bush essentially did. At least Obama is not being phony about it.

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  • 27. At 7:51pm on 27 May 2010, GH1618 wrote:

    Atomic_Mash (#15), it has been reported that Admiral Allen, who is the incident coordinator, has been consulting with other oil companies as well as with BP.

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  • 28. At 7:57pm on 27 May 2010, GH1618 wrote:

    Andy Post (#17) "This is an engineering issue. The politicians would do well to shut up and get out of the way."

    That's the technocrat viewpoint. I'm an engineer and I don't agree with it. The reason we have this problem is that someone made a bad engineering judgment and there was no outside authority to overrule it. The experts caused this mess.

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  • 29. At 8:02pm on 27 May 2010, Scott0962 wrote:

    re. #14. At 6:35pm on 27 May 2010, Fluidly Unsure wrote:
    "For heaven's sake, this isn't Germany. The American media, and perhaps the public, want a president who hugs, weeps and waves his arms, an emoter-in-chief, not a tip-top civil servant."

    Well put Mark.

    @Scott0962
    'We do? That's news to this American. I don't know about where you come from Mark but over here in spite of decades of attempted indocrination in touchy-feely, get in touch with your feminine side BS, a man who weeps in public is still widely perceived as less than manly. Hardly the image of leadership Obama would want to project.'

    "How about GWB? He wasn't touchy-feely. He showed sincere care and concerned for people. It doesn't take a macho attitude to be manly, and it doesn't take a touchy-feely approach to be caring. Our previous president had the ability Obama seems to be missing."


    I think what Bush had that Obama is missing was sincerity. Bush could be infuriating at times but I never got the sense that he didn't sincerely believe what he was saying--even when I thought what he was saying he was full of it.

    When Obama speaks he seems more reserved and the sincerity a little contrived.

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  • 30. At 8:02pm on 27 May 2010, GH1618 wrote:

    PursuitOfLove (#19) "... agree that Obama made a pretty big mistake not visiting earlier on when it happened."

    In fact, President Obama visited the Gulf coast on May 2nd:

    http://www.nola.com/news/gulf-oil-spill/index.ssf/2010/05/transcript_of_president_barack.html

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  • 31. At 8:05pm on 27 May 2010, SaintDominick wrote:

    Considering the fact that the US government does not have the skills or resources to stop the spill, or even the ability to prevent the spill from dispersing, I believe President Obama has handled the crisis well.

    The last thing I want to see is President Obama on a US Coast Guard cutter or a derrick saying mission accomplished!

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  • 32. At 8:23pm on 27 May 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    "Obama didn't have any options here but to wait for BP to fix the problem."


    Not true, to put it mildly.

    US NAVY has had wherewithal (both hardware and manpower-wise)
    to deal with deep-water contingencies for decades.

    [yes, including manned-submersibles]

    It's just that the likes od Obama, Napolitano and Salazar don't know about it.

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  • 33. At 8:26pm on 27 May 2010, McJakome wrote:

    9. At 5:20pm on 27 May 2010, Andy wrote:
    “1…there are no significant federal government clean up operations on the coast
    2… the Army Corps of Engineers (part of the federal government) stalled Louisiana on a plan to protect the coast until it was too late
    3…the federal government had no credible plans in place to handle something like this
    4…the federal government was lax in monitoring and regulating offshore platforms
    5…Americans are angry with the President, because the buck stops with him”

    Which obviously fits well with:
    1. The federal government is too intrusive
    2. The federal government has too many expensive
    socialistic plans
    3. The federal government has too many plans to interfere more in personal and state areas of responsibility
    4. The federal government has too many overpaid, interfering bureaucrats
    5. Real Americans and Tea Partiers are angry with this socialist President because he is trying to interfere with business [like BP] who can do things better than the government.

    Even in the face of calamity, the right wing corporatists can’t stop the divisive, destructive, hateful, everything for the corporations rhetoric.

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  • 34. At 8:26pm on 27 May 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    The ONE is flying to Louisiana on Friday to look presidential and utter "fighting words" in view of his plummeting ratings.

    Here's hoping no Dem spinmeister gets and idea to put in him in a diving suit, just like they put Dukakis in a tank.

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  • 35. At 8:28pm on 27 May 2010, SaintDominick wrote:

    Ref 29, Scott

    "When Obama speaks he seems more reserved and the sincerity a little contrived"

    I agree. I have never seen President Obama show the kind of emotion that so many Americans love to see. He has incredible self control to the point of appearing uncaring, his temperament is cool and he is too pragmatic, but that doesn't mean he doesn't care or is not sincere.

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  • 36. At 8:35pm on 27 May 2010, LucyJ wrote:

    People will be glad when the oil stops (VERY, VERY GLAD), but they will also ask, why didn't they do the Top Kill earlier, when it could have saved the coastline, the environment and people's jobs/livelihood?

    Sadly, I suspect that BP did not want to do Top Kill earlier because perhaps they thought maybe they could still salvage the oil pipes so that in the future they could get more oil from there. (that's why they tried holding tanks first). With Top Kill, they can't get more oil after that, I don't think.

    Also, many people are unhappy that President Obama and BP have only accepted help from Norway and Mexico, and have not accepted help from Holland and other countries, who have tools that could greatly help us. If BP has billions of dollars, why won't they pay for Holland and other countries' help?

    Americans want to see Obama and BP take action, not talk.

    In the press conference, President Obama did not address whether or not current and future oil rigs would have to have that special emergency button tested once monthly, so that we could prevent future oil spills better hopefully. (unless I missed it?)

    All in all, many people are unhappy about a variety of decisions Obama has made, anyway, depending on where in the country you are. In my opinion, this is because President Obama is choosing the wrong battles.

    For example, many Americans, including top commanders of the Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force, as well as the Defense Sec. Gates, have stated that they would like to do the review on the effects of repealing DADT, before actually repealing it. They are simply asking for the chance to study the possible effects, such as if there may be less recruits in the future due to repealing this law.

    Another example is the border debate. Although President Obama has authorized 1200 National Guard soldiers to go the border, many say that is not enough, including some Senators from border states. Just today, I read an article about how Texas is looking for an illegal immigrant from Somalia who has ties to Islamic terrorist groups on the USA watch list and he is believed to be in the States. There is evidence that this man already has smuggled at least hundreds, perhaps thousands of illegal immigrants from East Africa across the Mexican border into USA. These illegal immigrants could be potential terrorists, as this man has ties to Islamic terrorist groups. We don't know. I believe that too much security is better than too little security.

    Also, there are many Americans who wanted health care costs to go down, but do not agree with the mandate, which states that some religious groups, including Christians and Jewish, as well as people of no religion would have to pay for health care, except in cases of financial hardship. Yet other religions such as Amish and Muslims may not have to pay for health care.

    Because of the above, I am going to vote for Repubs. or Tea Partyers in the Nov. election.

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  • 37. At 8:43pm on 27 May 2010, Atomic_Mash wrote:

    Imagine that an "international" oil company called American Petroleum accidentally laid waste to hundreds of miles of European beaches. Anything and everything perceived as American would be judged, convicted and executed in the courts of international public opinion.

    In this Gulf disaster, Americans blame BP, Transocean and their own government - and don't go into wider Anti-British or Anti-European outbursts.

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  • 38. At 8:50pm on 27 May 2010, Fluidly Unsure wrote:

    @Elios:

    Remember Bush and his bullhorn when America's nerves needed to be calmed?

    Remember the Xmas he visited the families of 911 victims? He allowed a 10 minute photo op and sent the press home. Then he spent the rest of the evening with the people talking to them 1x1. He spoke in their native tongue when he could.

    "You mean like his tepid response to Hurricanes Katrina, Irene"
    I'm not going to try to justify his failures. I was only talking about his successes.

    "or the massive humanitarian disaster he created called Iraq?" This is an argument that neither of us would win since we both have strong opinions. Do you have anything new to contribute to the debate. No? Well is there any reason to regurgitate everything that has been said many times over? I didn't think so.

    "I didn't see any 'sincere care' for the South Sudanese either."
    Oh, he didn't respond in a caring manner 100% of the time? Please lop his head off.

    "As another user earlier said correctly, doing such is dismissed as grandstanding which Bush essentially did."

    He did show strong leadership in post-911 when not doing so would only make things worse. If that qualifies as grandstanding by your definition then we need more grandstanding sometimes.

    Katrina, as you correctly pointed out, may have been a different matter. All I know is what the MSM has told me and the fact that many who were at ground-zero are angry with him. I'll step aside until I see enough evidence otherwise.

    "At least Obama is not being phony about it."
    Again, a subjective opinion we disagree on. I don't have any hard evidence to prove that Bush was more sincere than Obama, but then I doubt if you have any to prove that otherwise.

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  • 39. At 8:51pm on 27 May 2010, LucyJ wrote:

    When President Obama was elected, I had all the faith and love in the world for him, as well as much hope.

    But he is a different President than I thought he would be.

    I do not hate or despise him. I still think he is a good person.
    But I do not believe he is a good President, because he is picking the wrong battles. He is picking battles that divide people, instead of bringing us together.

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  • 40. At 9:10pm on 27 May 2010, Kit Green wrote:

    39. At 8:51pm on 27 May 2010, LucyJ wrote:
    ...he is picking the wrong battles. He is picking battles that divide people, instead of bringing us together.
    --------------------------------------

    Battles divide, understanding and reconciliation unite.

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  • 41. At 9:28pm on 27 May 2010, anglomexican wrote:

    My advice to President Obama would be to hire a professional and charismatic press secretary. Robert Gibbs is neither professional nor charismatic.

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  • 42. At 9:29pm on 27 May 2010, No Worries wrote:

    LucyJ: But I do not believe he is a good President, because he is picking the wrong battles. He is picking battles that divide people, instead of bringing us together.

    This is because he is choosing to fight those battles that needed to be fought long ago, but others were too scared to do so. Many issues have been ignored as too risky too attack, so there is a lot of emotional baggage attached.

    GH1618: That's the technocrat viewpoint. I'm an engineer and I don't agree with it. The reason we have this problem is that someone made a bad engineering judgment and there was no outside authority to overrule it.

    Does a gov't official stand over your back making sure you do everything by the book? Have you never made a mistake? Sure, the result of the decision that was made has resulted in a catostrophic consequence. However, there have been thousands of wells drilled in the Gulf without incident. Let's await a full report before jumping to conclusions. At the moment the press are jumping at snippets and exagerating claims. I'm an engineer too, in the oil business for your info, & I've been hearing bits of anecdotal evidence as to what happened come my way. Nothing like enough to make a judgement though. Once a full enquiry is made we'll know what actually happened, and what needs to be put in place to mitigate the risk. Mitigate I say, there are no guarantees in life.

    This country sits on a sea of natural gas, if you want a cleaner alternative we have the technology to extract it (not a technology industry somebody said!!). It will also buy time to research the alternatives that need to come. There are always options if we are really serious about giving up the black stuff....

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  • 43. At 9:38pm on 27 May 2010, Elios wrote:

    Fluidly Unsure, if you are pointing to 9/11, thats laughable. If Gore, or Obama or even Sarah Palin were President, then their responses would've been the same, or who knows stronger. A disaster like that is a given. But his record since then, my point, has been poor as its ludicrous to suggest otherwise.

    But its a nice cop-out of an argument

    "This is an argument that neither of us would win since we both have strong opinions. Do you have anything new to contribute to the debate. No? Well is there any reason to regurgitate everything that has been said many times over? I didn't think so."

    You aren't even sure of my opinions, but yet you assume so. You don't have to be a liberal or conservative, just objectively notice that not once during his time in office, there is not one image of him with any of the people he claimed to be "liberating".

    And of course there is a reason to regurgitate everything. That was my point. That Bush was not some kind of compassionate leader that shed tears whenever disaster loomed. Seems to me that you just rather knee-jerkedly came to his rescue without realizing you've got nothing to stand on and in fact inadvertently concur that most of his supposed "compassion" was indeed grandstand. Thanks for boosting my argument and agreeing with me. Especially when you say: "I don't have any hard evidence to prove that Bush was more sincere than Obama" Anymore pointless responses?

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  • 44. At 9:45pm on 27 May 2010, MagicKirin wrote:

    ref #19
    24-hour news channels discuss a lot of things to fill the time. I would urge you not to take to heart everything they say during the daylight hours. The stuf to pay attention to on those channels are the prime time shows such as Keith Olberman and Rachel Maddow. Also, I advise you to watch more than one show and/or channel to get a better feel for what the people (if not the journalists and pundants of all political stripes) think of any story/hot button issue.

    _________________-

    Obermann and Maddow are political hacks and ate mongers. Brent Bozell has exposed their many lies.

    They would have been at home working for Goebells

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  • 45. At 9:51pm on 27 May 2010, Elios wrote:

    LucyJ can you please notify the board what exactly if anything do your right-wings rants have to do with the present topic?

    And exactly what would you like Obama to do when Republicans like Rand Paul respond with "What I don't like from the president's administration is this sort of, 'I'll put my boot heel on the throat of BP. I think that sounds really un-American in his criticism of business."? I seem to remember the oilmen that once ran the White House were so aggressive in pursuing off-shore drilling. Where is your criticism of them?

    Thats the amazing thing about you lot and the most hypocritical. You don't want Government to intervene, but when they don't, or when it needs to, you beg and scream for its rescue.

    And while you're at it, where is your Sarah "Drill Baby Drill" Palin you plan on voting for? A quick Google check says that she is at Target Center business pep talk (in Minneapolis) along with Brett Favre and Zig Zigler. That's the compassion for the little guy she has: she's hanging out with Football players far, far away from the disaster. I'm sure later she'll have a clever soundbite to bite to blast Obama. But oh wait, Obama is bad, bad, bad!

    Ladies and Gentlemen the non-thinking masses of America.

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  • 46. At 9:56pm on 27 May 2010, Andy Post wrote:

    Ref. 28, GH1618:

    "I'm an engineer..."

    Me, too.

    "The reason we have this problem is that someone made a bad engineering judgment and there was no outside authority to overrule it. The experts caused this mess."

    I agree.

    They pushed their technology too far without realizing it. Yes, they caused this mess, but they are the experts. No one knows this technology any better than they do and very few know it as well. The closer you get to the limits of a technology, the fewer people there are in a position to judge what is and what isn't a good idea. It's not like constructing buildings or bridges.

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  • 47. At 10:02pm on 27 May 2010, GH1618 wrote:

    No Worries (#42) "Does a gov't official stand over your back making sure you do everything by the book?"

    No, but in my profession there are situations where mission-critical systems require more extensive oversight.

    "Let's await a full report before jumping to conclusions."

    I'm for that, and I have made that point myself.

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  • 48. At 10:15pm on 27 May 2010, GH1618 wrote:

    Andy Post (#46), I agree with you there.

    I expect that when this incident is fully analyzed and understood, there will be more regulations governing deep-water drilling directed at minimizing the chance of a similar accident happening again, and (we hope) higher regard for following procedures regardless of cost and inconvenience.

    What I have read of this incident reminds me of the Challenger disaster.

    As for bridges, don't forget the Minneapolis I-35W bridge, to name only the most recent failure.

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  • 49. At 10:31pm on 27 May 2010, MarcelloM wrote:

    "The American media, and perhaps the public, want a president who hugs, weeps and waves his arms, an emoter-in-chief, not a tip-top civil servant."

    What nonsense! The President saw this oil slick coming a month ago and Louisiana is still waiting for *permits* to build sand barriers! Is this your idea of a "tip-top civil servant", Mr. Mardell?

    It's the President's job to protect our coastline. He has the authority, the mandate and the resources to do so. The President has failed. And we're furious.

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  • 50. At 10:44pm on 27 May 2010, ninetofivegrind wrote:

    16. Graham Jones:

    "I love the way you talk about a left leaning network, as if the BBC were neutral!"

    Well said Graham, the BBC is far from objective which is par for the course for the vast majority news networks. But the difference between BBC and the other global news organisations is that the BBC is funded by a levy on the British public.

    So the British public are made to pay for the BBC (and this levy is ruthlessly enforced) to further the BBC's own objectives and political agenda.

    Fantastic system if you are the BBC.

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  • 51. At 10:48pm on 27 May 2010, Andy Post wrote:

    Rats.

    HOUSTON -- BP had to halt its ambitious effort to plug its stricken oil well in the Gulf of Mexico on Thursday afternoon when engineers saw that too much of the drilling fluid they were injecting into the well was escaping along with the leaking crude oil. -- New York Times

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  • 52. At 10:54pm on 27 May 2010, Andy Post wrote:

    Ref. 48, GH1618:

    "What I have read of this incident reminds me of the Challenger disaster."

    Yep, but in super slow-mo. This is agonizing.

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  • 53. At 10:58pm on 27 May 2010, ninetofivegrind wrote:

    44. MagicKirin:

    "Obermann and Maddow are political hacks and ate mongers. Brent Bozell has exposed their many lies.

    They would have been at home working for Goebells"

    MK, if we're listing political hacks and hate mongers, I'd say Mr Glenn Beck should be added?

    BTW, what makes you think Goebells (sic) a far, far right (fascist) would hire a couple of lefty journalists?

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  • 54. At 10:58pm on 27 May 2010, Maria Ashot wrote:

    Greetings, Mr Mardell. Missed you, and the company, something dreadful, but good news abounds amidst the bad...

    Can't say I share your enthusiasm for James Carville, but then I am no fan of Mrs Carville, either, so that's an even score.

    The trouble with glib critics is that President Obama's -- or anyone's -- personal presence at the site of the tragic catastrophe would accomplish absolutely nothing.

    Neither would the presence of a resurrected FDR, or even of the closest living American equivalent -- Edmund G. Brown (thankfully able-bodied) or let's propose as suitable alternates the equally charismatic Bob Kerrey of Nebraska or how about RFK Jr, with Robert Redford and the NRDC in full mobilisation thrown in for good measure.

    At the risk of being accused of sundry esoteric crimes, I would go so far as to say no Heavenly Authority nor even Hades himself could make one jot of difference by simply "showing up and taking charge" (as Mr Carville suggests).

    The damage has been done. If not this blowout, owned by BP, then another, owned by a BP colleague or ally or competitor. If not in the Gulf of Mexico, then in some other sensitive zone.

    There simply are no zones left on earth that are not sensitive. And there is precious little petroleum left to be extracted that is simply lying around waiting to be scooped up from some preverbial tureen with your Grandmama's ladle.

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  • 55. At 10:58pm on 27 May 2010, Andy Post wrote:

    Ref. 49, MarcelloM:

    "He has the authority, the mandate and the resources to do so."

    Authority and mandate? Yes. Resoures? No, and it's starting to look frighteningly like nobody does, and that includes BP and the rest of the oil industry.

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  • 56. At 11:02pm on 27 May 2010, GH1618 wrote:

    Here's the scoop on the sand barriers mentioned in post #49:

    http://www.nola.com/news/gulf-oil-spill/index.ssf/2010/05/coast_guard_approves_building.html

    Looks to me like an orderly, responsible process. I don't want knee-jerk responses to proposals from the incident commander (Adm. Allen).

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  • 57. At 11:25pm on 27 May 2010, GH1618 wrote:

    "But the difference between BBC and the other global news organisations is that the BBC is funded by a levy on the British public." (from post #50)

    The Voice of America is funded by US federal taxes.

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  • 58. At 11:36pm on 27 May 2010, ib42 wrote:

    This comment has been referred for further consideration. Explain

  • 59. At 11:48pm on 27 May 2010, Maria Ashot wrote:

    I thought President Obama acquitted himself with distinction in one of the toughest propositions ever to have to be addressed by a head of state or government of our time: what to say to the constituents (employers) when there is a disaster that simply will not "blow over" -- a disaster that everyone believed to be unthinkable, but which of course, in retrospect, ought to have been foreseen -- and had been indeed warned against by any number of the Eco-Sanity camp (myself included).

    To be fair [Full Disclosure: There was a time when I repeatedly sought employment with BP, obviously to no avail], Blaming British Petroleum simply isn't.

    Blaming the industry in its exceedingly unwholesome intercourse with the Bushes -- under the Bushes, to be more precise -- is, however.

    Marine source extraction of subterranean deposits is particularly fraught. There is the Living Mantle of the Sea to be considered, for one thing: and yes, that is exactly what it is, and the technical name for it.

    Each time we attempt (often with success) to extract petroleum from beneath the waves, we do irreparable harm to the planet. That translates as: Harm That Shall Never Be Repaired Within Our Lifetimes, or the foreseeable future of human civilisation.

    Make enough attempts and sooner or later there will be a catastrophe of inestimable scale. It happened this May. In this place. In this way.

    One of the many critical & invaluable comments made by President Obama in his conference today was the comment about the slow progress made by reform-minded Americans even when acting with the best intentions. Upon this admission I would most particularly like to add the full weight of all the emphasis I can muster.

    Americans have been unforgivably slow about all kinds of things, most particularly those that relate to cleaning up the environment, or acting on proven intelligence. Even the best Americans, perhaps excepting a hundred or so of the uppermost echelons, are slower than molasses to act. And obviously, time has been of the essence now for... um... about 30 years. Fully 16 of those years were wasted years, hopelessly wasted, while many American activists (myself included) kept hoping and praying: Any Day Now. Any Day Now.

    Well, Any Day Now was beaten to the punch by April 20 and the Deepwater Horizon catastrophic blowout.

    No question in my mind that BP will get the well capped, just as the Chernobyl sarcophagus did eventually -- mostly -- succeed.

    But unless we all -- not just swift-as-molasses Americans, All of Us! -- get our acts together the way we weren't able to at the COP15 conference and actually issue a genuine ultimatum to the oil-pushers around the world, and really and truly come to view each new well brought on-line (especially in offshore ventures) as a genuinely high-risk, dangerous undertaking that is to be kept to a minimum, rather than gleefully replicated ad nauseam with minimal reflection, we are doomed to have more and more of these kinds of tragedies as the known oil fields -- or the 'new' ones, whether in the Arctic or in Brazilian waters or off the Falklands -- increasingly push us towards attempting increasingly more and more challenging extractions.

    Time ran out a long time ago. In the interest of allowing our newest generation, that of baby Thorvald and all his coevals, to still have a place to live on this planet, 30 years from now, I beseech all & sundry to do whatever they are personally able to do (up to and including reducing your own personal use of petrol) to compel an industry driven half-mad by its ancestral culture (or rather, lack thereof) to deliver us, finally, from evil -- evil (in this case) in the form of inefficient, unnecessary petrol-guzzling engines that might long ago been replaced with infinitely less environmentally threatening varieties.

    Really & truly: perhaps Americans will finally wake up to the consequences of their own obsession with monstrous cars that pollute wildly as they ferry dissipated teens to & from the local malls, the school, their friends' hangouts?

    Really & truly: perhaps Europeans, and other intelligent life forms, will finally once and for all stop accepting Americans' lame excuses for not having a policy -- or, as Obama admitted today, for not having institutions suitable to the occasion, in those cases when a policy actually does exist -- finally stop believing the spin, and start acting firmly & in concert, rather than politely coughing into their handkerchiefs at the latest set of approved talking points (carefully marinated half-truths buried under masses of unhealthy sauce)?

    As for me, I am very much looking forward to leaving this dreadful situation once & for all, and to seeing or reading all of you again from my preferred familiar perch in the UK. Cheers in the meantime! Here's to Thorvald's health, and the planet's, and yours -- and mine -- if it is not, perhaps, too late...

    Well, Obama is still in the White House, so maybe just enough time remains.








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  • 60. At 11:53pm on 27 May 2010, Maria Ashot wrote:

    PS: Mr Mardell:

    Quite as per usual, you have me in stitches. Kudos!

    And kudos, again & again, BBC. Hah! Be seeing you soon, if only out of the mind's eye, so to speak.

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  • 61. At 00:01am on 28 May 2010, Andy Post wrote:

    Ref. 56, GH:

    "Looks to me like an orderly, responsible process. I don't want knee-jerk responses to proposals from the incident commander (Adm. Allen)."

    Thanks for the link.

    I agree. I'm not sure dredging up the gulf in front of the wetlands all along the coastline is a no brainer. That in itself could do some pretty substantial environmental damage. It might be the lesser of two evils, but I'd like to know more about it.

    I have to hand it to Governor Jindal. He could be grandstanding on this to boost his presidential aspirations, but instead he seems to be focused on his job.

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  • 62. At 00:17am on 28 May 2010, Stevero wrote:

    The swing of opinion is as of the tides: Obama or BP. Let's be clear on one thing: BP leased the rig. The US licensed it Fit For Use.

    You hire a car: Do you check the tyres before driving away?
    Maybe.
    Maybe, therefore, BP is "Guilty"
    Maybe, the car was unsafe before the accident?
    Maybe, therefore, the USA is "Guilty"
    Maybe there is too much oil exploration in the Gulf of Mexico.
    Maybe too many licenses are issued to ensure proper control.

    Which "regime" issued such permits?
    Not Obama's.
    Not B.P.

    Why don't we all concentrate on the causes here, (leave the consequences for another argument) The causes are self evident: Greed.
    Be that of previous administrations or those of BP, let's apply the full power of the law of us all & imprison those responsible;
    from heads of state down.
    We need to send the message to all:
    Take the money if you will: but fail us & we will punish you.
    The people & planet have suffered long enough for the greed of a few.
    No more is this mere rhetoric.



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  • 63. At 00:17am on 28 May 2010, Elios wrote:

    "42. At 9:29pm on 27 May 2010, No Worries wrote:
    LucyJ: But I do not believe he is a good President, because he is picking the wrong battles. He is picking battles that divide people, instead of bringing us together."

    What a bunch of self-delusional nonsense! The problem today is that he's been facing an incredible level of hostility from the opposition from the moment he announced his intention to run for President. And it ranges from hating his political and personal beliefs, to unabashed racism especially from those who still dispute his citizenship and religion, to some sense of "revenge" for liberals doing the same thing to Bush when he was President. All people have done was to pick battles with him from the getgo. At least unlike Bush who in his arrogance completely shut out the Democrats, he meets with the Republicans to discuss compromise.

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  • 64. At 00:39am on 28 May 2010, ninetofivegrind wrote:

    #57 GH1618
    "But the difference between BBC and the other global news organisations is that the BBC is funded by a levy on the British public." (from post #50)

    The Voice of America is funded by US federal taxes.
    _______________________________________________________

    To clarify "levy" - if you own a TV in the UK, you must pay a TV licence that goes direct to the BBC. My point is that to watch TV in the UK, you must pay the BBC (not sure how that would go down in the US?) and the BBC is not an objective news organisation.

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  • 65. At 02:51am on 28 May 2010, wolfvorkian wrote:

    Here's hoping no Dem spinmeister gets and idea to put in him in a diving suit, just like they put Dukakis in a tank.

    You must have loved it when the little cheerleader pranced on the aircraft carrier. eh?

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  • 66. At 05:15am on 28 May 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    Re #36 " Although President Obama has authorized 1200 National Guard soldiers to go the border, many say that is not enough, including some Senators from border states. Just today, I read an article about how Texas is looking for an illegal immigrant from Somalia who has ties to Islamic terrorist groups on the USA watch list and he is believed to be in the States."




    Sen. McCain, who knows the region quite well for obvious reasons, has demanded long time ago that at least 6,000 extra guards are sent to unprotected southern border states.


    I guess now the ONE will complain that those states' threatened citizens form posses.

    [Rather than calling labor lawyers]

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  • 67. At 05:19am on 28 May 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    "I'm an engineer..."

    Me, too.

    "The reason we have this problem is that someone made a bad engineering judgment and there was no outside authority to overrule it. The experts caused this mess."

    I agree. "





    Not true. American engineers and the platform workers objected to BPs choices.

    Which were dictated by purely financial considerations.

    [BP chose a cheaper, although more dangerous option]

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  • 68. At 05:24am on 28 May 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    Re "The Voice of America is funded by US federal taxes."



    Indeed, but VOA does not broadcast in the U.S., and does not pretend to be a non-governmental organization.

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  • 69. At 08:24am on 28 May 2010, Dakota_Erik wrote:

    Here's my impression; Gulf coast residents are out there literally risking asphyxiation from cleaning up the crude oil while our President has time for golf, fiesta's, parties, and other off task adventures. June 2nd, he's hosting Paul McCartney's special concert to give him the Gershwin award. Back in April, he went golfing instead of attending Kaczynskis' funeral. Our modern day Nero is fiddling while we deal with economic ruin, joblessness, ecological disasters, and terrorists striking NYC.

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  • 70. At 11:12am on 28 May 2010, shiveringofforgottenenemies wrote:

    Tip-top civil servant????! You have GOT to be joking! Obama is a knee-jerk politician and he has just done the KNEE-JERK thing. He has STOPPED vital oil exploration and ordered PRIVATE drilling rigs to stop drilling..an INCREDIBLE intrusion by the federal government on the private sector! He is ruling by fiat!

    What else has he done? He is whimpering that the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT needs massive amounts of cleanup-fixup equipment but DON'T WORRY FOLKS, it will all be paid for by the oil companies. AS IF! It will be passed on to the consumer at the pump, it's not coming out of the oil companies' bloated profits!

    Closing offshore drilling advances Obama's lousy Green Energy agenda...to drive oil prices sky high and mandate forms of energy so ridiculous that they require government subsidies! He has had his talking heads declare that CLIMATE CHANGE is a national security issue! China polluting, India polluting, Russia polluting, volcanoes in iceland erupting forest fires burning and he is pushing that political machination!

    Where is this "tip-top civil servant"???? Obama is building the size of federal government. Agencies that were created to facilitate drilling for oil..which is GOOD for America are now going to grow into monster agencies whose mission is to DRIVE oil prices up...push the CARBON TAX...his "affordable health insurance" is daily being revealed as less and less affordable. He is expanding the war in Afghanistan...we will be supporting that ROTTEN government for decades. So where is this tip-top civil servant, Mark?

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  • 71. At 12:16pm on 28 May 2010, ann arbor wrote:

    I have had little respect for James Carville since he tried to spin Monica Lewinsky as a "stalker".

    This time, however, he volunteered his time to help mitigate the damage of this oil event. He was armed with the promises of the administration and cited the emptiness of the promises. Perhaps over dramatic in his reference to FDR. He was not sneering this time, he was sincere.

    Elios, your postings are stereotypical, demeaning, and not very informed. You clearly have not followed the personal actions of GW. GW was not compelled to make a theater of everything he does. Perhaps you could take a moment as see GW's personal actions regarding the Fort Hood massacre as, but one, of his gestures.

    I knew we were in for trouble with the Anointed ONE and his post election "Office of the President Elect" stunts. These stunts were televised events of a farce in a fictitious job.

    I am curious how he will spin his way out of a felony with Sestak and the Senatorial candidate in Colorado. (two counts)

    Do you suppose Obama will get a Nobel prize in Science and Conservation to go along with the Peace prize? He did about as much to earn it.

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  • 72. At 3:03pm on 28 May 2010, Interestedforeigner wrote:

    50. At 10:44pm on 27 May 2010, ninetofivegrind wrote:

    16. Graham Jones:

    "I love the way you talk about a left leaning network, as if the BBC were neutral!"

    "Well said Graham, the BBC is far from objective which is par for the course for the vast majority news networks. But the difference between BBC and the other global news organisations is that the BBC is funded by a levy on the British public."

    "So the British public are made to pay for the BBC (and this levy is ruthlessly enforced) to further the BBC's own objectives and political agenda."

    "Fantastic system if you are the BBC."

    ____________

    Ok.

    So Deustsche Welle, Radio Netherlands, Radio France International, Australian Broadcasting, and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation/Societe Radio Canada don't receive public funding ?

    I suppose your statement is literally correct: British taxpayers don't pay for those other well known "global news organisations".

    ------------

    If you travel frequently in the United States you will be familiar with the problem of trying to learn what is going on in the news. There is virtually no "hard" news broadcast on American TV. There is, however, wall-to-wall information on car crashes, fires, and the latest angst of pretty young airhead celebrities.

    By far the best of the American news services is The Newshour with Jim Lehrer on PBS, or BBC America which is also carried on PBS. The problem there is that PBS is underfunded and nobody watches it anyhow because it never seems to be carried on the cable services at any time of day when people would normally watch it. 80 channels of TV at every hotel, and you can't get The Newshour at either 6 p.m. or 10 p.m.

    ------------


    Think of the reason why most of us came here for news in the first place (other than the ones who are paid to monitor this service).

    We're here because the BBC provides the highest quality general news service in the world. This is where you find hard news, because you can't find it on the US commercial networks. It is usually fairly well presented. You may find it biased. Overall, the BBC is as objective as any other news service, and more than most.

    ------------

    There are serious problems for a democracy when there is no reliable mass market news service.


    In America, for example, there simply is no credible or consistent presentation of any political viewpoint on the left of center in the political spectrum.

    This is how we can have posters here suggest that President Obama (who by international standards would be smack dab in the middle of the political spectrum, if not slightly to the right of center on many issues) can be decried as a "Socialist". They clearly have no idea.

    There is, however, one network that has taken it as its duty to broadcast news only from a viewpoint somewhere to the right of Ghengis Khan. It has been aided and abetted in this by a court ruling that US networks are no longer required to present balanced points of views on major public affairs issues.


    ------------

    The objective of commercial networks is not to provide insightful public affairs programming, and especially not to present unpopular viewpoints that its viewers may dislike, or that may make its viewers uncomfortable.

    The objective of commercial networks is to make money.
    By and large that they present either candy floss news or voyeurism.

    They do not present anything that will offend major advertisers, unless they absolutely cannot avoid it.

    They try to avoid offending significant market segments - so they rarely present news that will offend, e.g., various church groups, or various public pressure groups.

    Consequently, the news becomes skewed in two ways.

    First there is the editorial bias of the network, which is hard to avoid in even the most balanced news organizations (of which the BBC is one).

    Second, and much worse, the news is distorted by the systematic self-censorship of news stories that would offend either advertisers or viewers. This is the news that we never see or hear.

    We hear complaints that both parties in Congress are in hock to their corporate sponsors. Well, what do you expect under those conditions?

    ------------

    Roughly 240 years ago, that well known arch Socialist, Adam Smith, remarked that "never do men of business meet but their conversation quickly turns to a conspiracy against the public interest."

    That delightfully sharp insight, redolent of wry Scottish Presbyterianism, is precisely why a democracy should not rely exclusively upon commercial news services.


    ------------


    It is essential in a democracy to have a wide range of viewpoints presented in the public marketplace for ideas. It is good that there are commercial news services.

    But America needs, very badly, to have a national public news service whose only corporate role is to present the news.

    It needs to be a news service that is not beholden to advertisers for its funding.

    It needs to be editorially independent of the political parties.

    It needs to be a news service of comparable size, scope and funding to the commercial news services of NBC, CBS and ABC.

    It needs to be a public news service that is required, by its Charter, to present balanced coverage.

    This is the role performed by the BBC in the UK (and around the world), by ABC in Australia, and by the CBC/SRC in Canada. It is a critical requirement in a democracy.

    ------------

    There are all sorts of people, predominantly on the right, who object to the use of public money to fund a national broadcaster.

    But the very same people will turn around and be all in favour of the public expense involved in beaming VOA (or the BBC World Service in any of umpteen languages) into countries that lack a free press.

    Heaven forbid that we should spend a penny of tax money so that our own voters should be so privileged.

    So many ironies.

    ------------

    In Canada governments of both stripes - Liberals and Conservatives - dislike the CBC and complain bitterly that it is biased against them. So they keep cutting CBC funding.

    What is its crime?

    Well, it has the really annoying habit of broadcasting news that the government doesn't like, and presenting viewpoints that are at odds with the government line.

    And because the CBC covers those stories, the commercial broadcasters usually feel obliged to cover them, too, even when they would rather bury them.

    Lots of us think that's a good thing.

    The US does not have a national public broadcaster to keep the commercial news services honest. It badly needs one.

    ------------

    Whether you care for the BBC's editorial viewpoint or not, it is one of the bulwarks of democracy in the UK.

    Next to campaign finance reform and redistricting reform, there is no single institution that the US needs more badly for the protection of its democratic institutions than an independent public broadcaster.

    It would be a bargain at almost any price.


    Whatever UK taxpayers pay to support the BBC, it would be a bargain at 10 times the price.

    What price do you put on democracy?

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  • 73. At 6:02pm on 28 May 2010, 1Kosh wrote:

    [quote]"Obama didn't have any options here but to wait for BP to fix the problem."


    Not true, to put it mildly.

    US NAVY has had wherewithal (both hardware and manpower-wise)
    to deal with deep-water contingencies for decades.

    [yes, including manned-submersibles]

    It's just that the likes od Obama, Napolitano and Salazar don't know about it.[/quote]

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Crush depth for a Trident sub is half a mile, the well head is just under a mile.

    There are some unmanned subs that can operate at that depth, and I know of one manned sub, but that's about it. The US Government can't fix the leak.

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  • 74. At 6:04pm on 28 May 2010, LucyJ wrote:

    Elios,
    First off, I am merely stating that the unhappiness toward President Obama is only mounting due to more reasons than one. I feel that although this blog is directed at the BP oil spill, it is also directed at President Obama and how he is doing his job. Besides, isn't this a free country? What's wrong with being an independent person?

    Second, I am not even right wing. I have been a proud Democrat my whole life up until the last several months, because I thought Obama and the Dems were different than what they are. Now I know what they are and I do not agree with them. I have decided to be an Independent from now on, although you could probably call me a moderate or conservative Ind. It seems that many politicians sway toward corporations, except for some Independents.

    Third, I do not agree with drilling more oil, especially close to our shores. I am in support of renewable energy sources, especially geothermal and electric cars above all. I am a huge fan of Al Gore. I taped all the Live Earth concert and still have it.

    By the way, I absolutely love Brett Farve. I even have one of his rookie cards. He is one of the best Quarterbacks that has ever lived. If I was Palin, I would be clamoring to hang out with him, too.

    My stance is that cutting the deficit is more important than having open gays in the military, giving amnesty to illegals, ect. Priorities.

    It did throw me off guard that President Obama supported repealing the DADT. Obama said during the campaign he was a Christian. The Bible states that it is wrong for two men or two women to be together sexually. Although President Obama is a Christian and I am a Christian, too, we have different values of what a Christian is. My belief is in the Bible's values. No, I am not perfect. I do make humanly mistakes.

    I am confused as to why President Obama has so far not offered us a plan to cut our deficit? I know it will not be easy and no one wants to hear about cuts, but it is worth it to address this now rather than later.

    I feel the same way about the state of Illinois. Our Dem. reps (in control) are so far not offering Illinoisans a plan besides borrowing more money, which seems to be the direction they want to take. This would mean that it would carry the problem over to next year and only add more money, including interest, to Illinois' deficit. Right now, our schools, even U of I, our most prestigious university, our prisons, our hospitals, our social services are all owed money by the state. The state wants to borrow money for us to retain these. I would love to see our reps pass a bill cutting off all funds to illegal immigrants, because I do not understand why they are funding illegal immigrants when they can't fund legal Illinoisans, but it is all about political correctness anymore. So the best thing we can do is vote the Dems out, in order to decrease our state and federal deficits.

    The oil quandry is only one of many.


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  • 75. At 6:07pm on 28 May 2010, LucyJ wrote:

    I do not like to complain, regardless of what some likely think on this blog and I can understand that. In all honesty, I like to think of happy things and try to be positive. But sometimes you have to be truthful and do the right thing, even when it is hard. I never thought Obama would be so divisive with such a polarizing agenda.
    Clearly, I was wrong.

    By the way, I voted for Kerry over Bush.

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  • 76. At 6:08pm on 28 May 2010, Sir Lagerlout wrote:

    Mark, the best US presidents have had many different styles, but they all had one thing in common; whether they were charismatic or low-key, rash or thoughtful, they all could act decisively during a crisis to do what was best for the country. It's a crucial ability that strong leaders are born with, not something they learn with experience. Obama has many impressive qualities but he has just shown everyone (except those 25% of voters who will fawn over him no matter what he does) that he can't lead during a crisis. A captain has to steer the ship out of the storm, not hide down in his cabin and blame the wind. Nothing he does after this will keep him in the white house for a second term.

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  • 77. At 11:13pm on 28 May 2010, Elios wrote:

    At 6:08pm on 28 May 2010, Sir Lagerlout wrote:"Obama has many impressive qualities but he has just shown everyone (except those 25% of voters who will fawn over him no matter what he does) that he can't lead during a crisis. A captain has to steer the ship out of the storm, not hide down in his cabin and blame the wind. Nothing he does after this will keep him in the white house for a second term."

    What is with you people is spewing your nonsensical personal biases as THE matter-of-fact for ALL Americans? His approval ratings is in the 50-55% range which was roughly the same as Clinton's around his second year

    This leads into exactly my point earlier as in you had it in for him from the getgo without giving him any sort of chance. Akin to children

    Another thing that kills me is I hardly see anyone placing any blame or responsibility on the 100% the culprit behind this disaster: BP and its American Subsidiaries. They lied to the government and the public that they would be 100% able to do this and handle any problems that stem from any accidents such as this. We should be calling for boycotting BP and pushing them out of the country. Instead we're blaming Obama. Unbelievable.

    The thing I don't get about Americans, you cry and whine for government to stay out and away until something bad happens when you need them, they you cry and whine from government to come in and save the day. How inconsistent and unbelievable.

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  • 78. At 11:43pm on 28 May 2010, Elios wrote:


    Not sure why you once again went so far off topic explaining your personal opinions and background instead of sticking to the topic at hand
    again. Again, you proved my point right when you said: " I never thought Obama would be so divisive with such a polarizing agenda." That proves my point right there.

    "By the way, I absolutely love Brett Farve. I even have one of his rookie cards. He is one of the best Quarterbacks that has ever lived. If I was Palin, I would be clamoring to hang out with him, too."

    You don't seem to be a very bright person, no offense, but seriously. A major disaster like this, and you'd rather hang out with your favorite football star instead of talking to the people that voted and support you facing an unprecedented disaster? Really?

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  • 79. At 06:30am on 29 May 2010, LucyJ wrote:

    It takes more strength, courage and empathy to be the better person in a situation such as when someone says not nice things about another person on the web or in person. It is much easier and weaker to say not nice things back. This would show that someone else's negativity is effective, when it should be discarded in the same manner it appeared in.

    I do not take offense at your comments because this would mean that I believed them and I do not. I forgive you.

    The oil spill brings tears to my eyes. I've been down to New Orleans many times, as well as the Gulf states. The ocean means everything.
    Yes, they can survive on other food or change their lifestyle. But it would mean giving up what they love, not only for them, but also for their children's future. But this strong love is also determination and it is what will see them through the darkest days.



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  • 80. At 07:48am on 29 May 2010, Sir Lagerlout wrote:

    RE: "...you had it in for [Obama] from the getgo without giving him any sort of chance. Akin to children..." and some remarks by the same poster about Americans who want a hands-off president and but whine for him to intervene when there is a crisis.

    Ummm... if US voters were against Obama from the start, how did he win in a landslide? Many of your replies have far worse insults than your condescending those-cretins-across-the-pond-in-the-colonies remark calling us: "akin to children". If you respectfully disagree with people, they might listen to your point of view. Regardless, if you learn more about the roles of the Executive branch you'll understand why a hands-off approach in normal times and active intervention during crises were built into our system from the beginning (and evolved over time, become policy and so on). But it's plain that you don't even understand the basics.

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  • 81. At 11:54am on 29 May 2010, powermeerkat wrote:

    It seems 60% of American voters do NOT approve of The ONE's performance on the job.

    And it's still a long way till November.

    Let alone - November 2012. ;)

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  • 82. At 11:48pm on 30 May 2010, ninetofivegrind wrote:

    72. Interestedforeigner #

    Refer my post # 64

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  • 83. At 01:17am on 31 May 2010, Interestedforeigner wrote:

    82. Not sure what your point is.

    The BBC does not have to be objective to serve the desired purpose, although it helps.

    Whatever you pay is a bargain for the role the BBC plays in safeguarding democracy merely by existing. The US does not have a national public broadcaster on a par with the major commercial networks, and political discourse has been skewed because of that absence.

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  • 84. At 03:47am on 31 May 2010, ninetofivegrind wrote:

    83. , Interestedforeiger,

    I could care less what you have or have not in the US by way of objective coverage.

    If you live in the UK, (which you don't I'm guessing) you would know that the BBC favors a certain political party and has a political agenda. Now I have no problem with a private network favoring a political party, but when it is a public broadcaster funded by a levy on all British people who own a TV, said broadcaster should have no leanings towards any political party or political agenda.





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  • 85. At 12:26pm on 31 May 2010, sean56z wrote:

    Barack Obama should pay close attention to Israel. They are enforcing their blockade of Gaza. He must reduce funding the zionist state. The Taliban and al Qada might relent. If so, a peace agreement could be reached in Afghanistan. The umbrella group is probably looking for a way out.

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