Hurricane Ike “appears to have destroyed a number of oil production platforms and damaged some of the pipelines in the Gulf of Mexico, federal officials said Sunday.” Lars Herbst, regional director for the Minerals Management Service, said at least 10 production platforms have been destroyed by the storm, and possibly many more. Herbst said, “It’s too early to say if [the impact of Ike is] close to Katrina- and Rita-type damage.” In his advocacy for more offshore oil drilling, John McCain has falsely claimed Hurricanes Katrina and Rita did not “cause significant spillage” and that the platforms “very successfully” survived the impact of the storms. In fact, as the Wonk Room’s Brad Johnson has demonstrated, those hurricanes caused hundreds of oil spills resulting in significant environmental damage.
Looks like nobody wants to buy Lehman Brothers so they’re looking at liquidation. Bank of America, which I guess has money, was once considered a likely candidate to buy Lehman, but now it looks like they’re going to buy Merrill Lynch (which was likely to go down after Lehman) instead.
Can someone remind me what it is that all these financial wizards were getting paid so much money to do? Is there some reason you need to pay top dollar to find someone capable of managing an institution into the ground.
Today, the Washington Post’s Angler series explores Vice President Cheney’s heavy hand in Bush’s domestic surveillance program. Documents giving “strategic direction to the nation’s largest spy agency” were held not in the White House but in Cheney’s office. Cheney’s lawyer David Addington, who wrote the documents, kept White House Chief of Staff Andy Card in the dark:
It is unlikely that the history of U.S. intelligence includes another operation conceived and supervised by the office of the vice president. White House Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr. had “no idea,” he said, that the presidential orders were held in a vice presidential safe. An authoritative source said the staff secretariat, which kept a comprehensive inventory of presidential papers, classified and unclassified, possessed no record of these.
In an interview, Card said the Executive Office of the President, a formal term that encompassed Bush’s staff but not Cheney’s, followed strict procedures for handling and securing presidential papers. “If there were exceptions to that, I’m not aware of them,” he said. “If these documents weren’t stored the right way or put in the right places or maintained by the right people, I’m not aware of it.”
Asked why Addington would write presidential directives, Card said, “David Addington is a very competent lawyer.”
One of the issues on which John McCain has allegedly broken with George W. Bush is the latter’s handling of Hurricane Katrina. Basically, things started when Bush appointed a bunch of incompetent people and McCain raised no objections to this. Then the hurricane hit, while Bush and McCain were hanging out together at a birthday party in Arizona. Then there was all this tragic loss and life and destruction of property. Then people got very upset. Then McCain criticized Bush. And then when congress tried to investigate what happened, he voted against it. But then, later, when trying to claim independence from Bush he lied and said he had supported ever investigation.
So the difference is clear. Meanwhile, Jo Becker, Peter S. Goodman, and Michael Powell report on Sarah Palin’s approach to governance:
So when there was a vacancy at the top of the State Division of Agriculture, she appointed a high school classmate, Franci Havemeister, to the $95,000-a-year directorship. A former real estate agent, Ms. Havemeister cited her childhood love of cows as a qualification for running the roughly $2 million agency.
Ms. Havemeister was one of at least five schoolmates Ms. Palin hired, often at salaries far exceeding their private sector wages.
Needless to say, this is where Michael Browns come from. Not only the cronyism of Palin’s approach to running the state of Alaska, but the nonchalance with which John McCain chooses his subordinates. Is arguably a maverick? Check. Social conservatives like her? Check. Let’s roll. Nevermind questions about her suitability for office or ability to contribute constructively to an organization. And of course what you see once you’re staffing the executive branch is that you can’t actually fill thousands of jobs with your own cronies. Friends of friends who you don’t even know anything about. Unless, that is, you’re careful and make sure to staff the top ranks of your administration with people of integrity who you’re confident will make responsible hiring decisions.
When a skunk calls you smelly, you must really stink.
Here is the master of political disaster dissing his disciple’s ads on FoxNews today (transcript here):
Don’t worry, forces of darkness. Rove has not suddenly been replaced by his less-evil twin. At the end of the clip, for instance, he says:
Most people, though presumably not most people who read this blog, aren’t interested in politics. They’re not interested in politics because they find political concerns to be remote from their lives. To me, though, it’s interesting to really understand how false that is, and how policy shifts about even very dull issues actually tend to have far-reaching consequences.
Consider airline deregulation. This was a complicated and multifaceted process, but the basic thrust of it was to increase the quantity of competition between airlines and to make it easier to compete on the basis of price. The result has, as intended, been a steep structural decline in the cost of air travel. But that, in turn, has had an interesting side consequence. Previously, airlines barred from competing on the basis of price engaged in fairly vigorous competition on the basis of service quality. So while products generally get better over time, the quality of air travel has deteriorated rapidly as a low-cost, low-quality equilibrium has proven to be consistently more profitable. It seems that that tradeoff has been good for tourists and people traveling to visit family because, evidently, that’s what consumers would prefer. But it’s been a disaster for business travelers since cheaper flights are worthless if you’re not paying for them, and crappy service is crappy.
Michelle Higgins’ New York Times article on the declining fortunes of the flight attendant ought to be understood as another consequence of this shift. In a world where firms are barred from competing based on price, they’ll compete based on quality. And firms competing based on quality need to be fairly generous to their employees — high-quality service requires a first-rate workforce which requires attractive compensation and working conditions. But as shift to price competition and everything looks different — priority number one is to cut costs as low as possible, and you don’t really care if that leads to high turnover or you not being able to hire the best people.
It had to happen:
Back to watching football.
“The issue of economics is not something I’ve understood as well as I should,” McCain said. “I’ve got Greenspan’s book.”
Unfortunately, he doesn’t seem to have read it all that closely:
Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said the country can’t afford $3.3 trillion of tax cuts proposed by Republican presidential nominee John McCain without corresponding spending reductions.
Greenspan, a lifelong Republican and longtime friend of McCain, said today on Bloomberg Television’s “Political Capital With Al Hunt that “I’m not in favor of financing tax cuts with borrowed money.”
Needless to say, given that we’re already running a substantial budget deficit, there’s no realistic way to add enormous new tax cuts without borrowing money to cover the cost.
This week on “The View,” Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) claimed that Sarah Palin had never requested earmarks as governor. Today on ABC’s “This Week,” campaign spokeswoman Carly Fiorina repeated the lie, claiming Palin did not request earmarks for Alaska:
FIORINA: Sarah Palin as governor stood up and said, I know earmarks are corrupting. We must ask for less of them–
STEPHANOPOLOUS: But she still requested them.
FIORINA: As governor she did not. [...]
MCCASKILL: Sarah Palin has been an earmark queen in Alaska. That’s the facts.
Stephanopolous corrected Fiorina when she falsely claimed that Palin had “rejected the money for the Bridge to Nowhere.” Watch it:
As ThinkProgress has documented, Palin has aggressively pursued earmark funding for her state as governor, requesting nearly $750 million in federal funds, “by far the largest per-capita request in the nation.” Just last March, Palin wrote an op-ed in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, explaining that her “role at the federal level is simply to submit the most well-conceived earmark requests we can.”
Fiorina’s assertion that it is a “fact” that Palin “rejected the money for the Bridge to Nowhere” is wrong. Once Congress removed the designation for the bridge from the earmark, Palin took the money and redirected it to other projects.
As Keith Ashdown, chief investigator for the watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense, pointed out, Palin’s constant claim to have said “thanks but no thanks” to the bridge earmark is simply a lie: “To say ‘thanks but no thanks’ would imply that they didn’t take the money. And they got every dime of it.”
On Meet The Press today, Tom Brokaw pressed Rudy Giuliani on John McCain’s ludicrous assertion that Sarah Palin is the foremost energy expert in the country:
NBC MAINE: What experience does she have in the field of national security?
MCCAIN: Energy. She knows more about energy than probably anyone else in the United States of America.
BROKAW: More about energy than probably anyone else in the United States of America? More about solar, more about wind, more about geothermal than the MIT scientists who are working on this initiative? Boone Pickens? Al Gore? Do you think she knows more than any of those people do?
GIULIANI: I think John was referring to elected officials. He would not be referring to Boone Pickens and certainly wouldn’t be referring to nuclear scientists and people like that. I think he was talking about politicians and probably, in particular, the people involved in the race.
How Rudy got the idea that we should construe “anyone else in the United States of America” as secretly meaning “anyone else currently nominated by a major political party for President or Vice President” is a bit beyond me. But while McCain may not know much about honesty, and Rudy may not know much about logic, Palin also doesn’t know much about energy policy. Indeed, she doesn’t even understand energy production in Alaska. Watch in amazement as she argues that her state provides 20 percent of America’s energy:
As Matt Corley observes the correct answer is 3.5 percent. Basically, if you double Palin’s estimate and then double it again you’re . . . still wrong. Also if you assume that by “energy” Palin in fact just meant “oil” then she’s . . . still wrong since Alaska in fact produces about 14 percent of America’s oil.
She’s someone who knows how to turn the sky-high revenues generated by being an oil producing region at a time of high oil prices into political popularity, but not someone who knows anything about energy policy or even, it seems, oil markets.