Wall Street Journal -- Obama Decried, Then Used, Some Bush Drilling Policies

We knew that President Obama had decided to lift his moratorium on new offshore drilling in March without first checking to see if the scandal-soaked Minerals Management Service was up to the job.

But writers Neil King and Keith Johnson tell us that the administration argued in court more than a year ago for maintaining the status quo on several points of drilling policy previously decried by the president.

This proves very damaging to the administration’s defense on lax oversight that great efforts had been made to improve regulation by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar but that the task defied the massive efforts.

Native tribes and environmentalists had filed suit during the Bush era to block new offshore wells from being drilled on the grounds that the MMS was a joke. An appeals judge entered a surprise ruling in April of 2009 that would have slapped on a ban at least as tough as the One Obama imposed in the wake of the BP spill.

Arguing the ruling was arbitrary and economically damaging, the Obama team picked up the Bush case and got the ruling overturned.

This is echoed in Timeswoman Leslie Kaufman’s piece about how the Fish and Wildlife Service, also part of the Department of the Interior, signed off on drilling on the grounds that the risk to endangered animals was “low.”

Also troubling is the report from Postie Kimberly Kindy on BP’s claimed oil skimming ability when filing a plan with federal authorities just a month before the Deepwater disaster. In March, federal regulators did not question BP’s claim that it could skim and remove 491,721 barrels a day. The total skimmed since the explosion in April -- 67,143 barrels.

But it’s King and Johnson who give shape to the administration’s thinking by examining the lawsuit and the way Salazar over-promised and under-delivered on the MMS and drilling in general.

“It also relied extensively on environmental impact analyses carried out in April 2007 that the court had found wanting.

The 2007 document said ‘large oil spills associated with [outer continental shelf] activities are low-probability events.’ The ‘most likely size’ of a serious spill, that report concluded, would total 4,600 barrels—a fraction of what the Deepwater Horizon continues to allow into the water every day.

Kieran Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity, which brought the original lawsuit, said their court victory wound up changing little. ‘Salazar, and by extension Obama, have pursued the same offshore program as the Bush administration, even while playing a smoke-and-mirrors game,’ he said.”


Washington Post -- Justice Dept. expected to sue Ariz. on immigration, citing 'preemption' grounds

The wait is finally over. The Obama administration has leaked a précis of its lawsuit against the state of Arizona over Arizona’s illegal immigration crackdown and to writer Jerry Markon, who says the suit may be filed today.

The law, which requires police to ascertain the immigration status of those they detain on other offenses, has yet to go into effect.

The lawsuit, as expected, will be based on “preemption,” arguing that the Constitution gives the federal government primacy on the issue.

I pose a question to the legal scholars among you: has the legal relationship between the states and the feds been so bad since the end of Jim Crow? You have a passel of attorneys general suing over Obamacare. You have gulf governors fighting the Obama drilling ban. And now you have the Justice Department calling out Arizona.

“The filing is expected to include declarations from other U.S. agencies saying that the Arizona law would place a undue burden on their ability to enforce immigration laws nationwide, because Arizona police are expected to refer so many illegal immigrants to federal authorities.”


New York Times -- Tax-Exempt Funds Aid Settlements in West Bank

Today is kiss and make up day for President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. They will have the White House photo-op cancelled when Israeli commandos killed nine blockade runners off the coast of Gaza.

The Times and writers Jim Rutenberg, Mike McIntyre and Ethan Bronner try to turn up the heat on Obama to take a tougher line with Israel over settlements in the disputed West Bank by suggesting not only do the settlements cause conflict in the Israeli-Palestinian but are also associated with evangelical Christians.

It’s an overcooked, over-long piece, but the essence seems to be that Americans who are praying for the second coming are getting tax breaks on donations that help push toward the reestablishment of Israel’s biblical boundaries -- $400 million since 2000.

While the writers excuse their focus on these charities rather than the money that goes to groups sympathetic to Hamas and other dangerous groups by talking about “the centrality of the settlement issue.”

But tax-deductible contributions go to all sorts of politically question things, aside from indirectly funding Hamas terrorists or rogue Israeli settlers.

People give money to environmental groups that fund efforts to put Americans out of work in selected industries. Others give money to charities that push hard to advance social agendas at odds with the views of most Americans. People give money to advance all manner of causes that harm others.

While the Times tries to put the whiff of illegality or create the sense that there is equivalency with donations to Hamas, it falls short.


The Washington Post -- Democratic campaign committees losing big Wall Street donors

Writers T.W. Farnam and Paul Kane explain that a down economy, a lot of demagoguery about the financial industry and Democratic fears about being to closely associated with an industry they use as the villain have caused donations from financial types to the majority party to plummet.

It also reflects a longstanding tradition on Wall Street – bet on the winner. The drive in contributions also reveal that the money guys think the Dems are headed for a bad fall and want to, er, hedge their bets.

“Although the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee have seen just a 16 percent drop in overall donations compared with this stage of the 2008 campaign, party leaders are concerned about the loss of big-dollar donors. The two congressional committees have raised $49.5 million this election cycle from people giving $1,000 or more at a time, compared with $81.3 million at this point in the last election.

Almost half of that decline in large-dollar fundraising can be attributed to New York, according to a Washington Post analysis of records filed with the Federal Election Commission. Donors from that area have given $8.7 million this year, compared with $23.9 million at this point in the 2008 cycle, with most of those contributions coming from big contributors in the financial sector. New York donors had given congressional Democrats almost twice as much money at this stage of the 2006 midterm campaigns, when Republicans ruled both chambers and held the White House.


Washington Post -- Tea party movement's energy, anger make it target for admakers

Liberals and Democrats should be worried that so many in their ranks associate expressions of patriotism with conservatism.

Writer Amy Gardner proves where the needle is by examining a cheesy Fourth of July ad for Dodge (owned by the government) that shows George Washington running off the redcoats in a smokin’ new Charger. In the crassly commercial tradition of President’ Day mattress sales, Dodge is trying to make a buck selling patriotism and manages to do so in a funnier way. Chrysler is also trying to show that though it got bought by the government, it’s not going to be selling tiny little Obamamobiles.

Gardner, though, sees a secret message to Tea Partiers and conservatives… you know by mentioning George Washington and the Revolutionary War.

Gardner may be liberal or not, but she certainly sees old George and the flag as political symbols. And she’s not alone.

“It isn't difficult to see why Chrysler would want to aim an ad at the tea party set. Its demographic -- older, more conservative Americans -- overlaps with a significant segment of Chrysler's traditional customer base. Many of those potential buyers were not pleased that the Detroit automaker received more than $7 billion in federal bailout money last year. Anger about the bailouts is a favorite tea party topic.”

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