Here’s one of the funnier apologies:
Think Progress has the exclusive story on the shameless actions of this Big Oil front group:
The true story of the BP disaster is how private contractors, not the government, are handling the response. Of the 25,000 people responding to the greatest environmental catastrophe in the history of the nation, 21,000 are under contract to the foreign oil giant BP. This private army includes workers shipped in from California making $10 an hour to clean the beaches, ex-military public relations experts, and submarine robotics companies. There are no contractors working directly for the government. The Center for American Progress — like many other outside observers — recommends that the government take over operational control from BP, to resolve conflicts of interest between the foreign corporation’s shareholders and public health and safety.
BP has been notoriously secretive about the network of companies working to run practically every aspect of the Deepwater Horizon response, including claims processing, hazardous material cleanup, boom deployment, scientific monitoring, and call centers. BP has ignored the state of Louisiana’s request on May 7 for a list of contractors and subcontractors.
On June 3, the Wonk Room called the Unified Command number and talked with USCG officer Rachel Polish, who told me that BP would have to answer my questions. Later that day, a BP subcontractor contacted this reporter, but would only identify himself as “Les.” On June 4, the Wonk Room asked National Incident Commander Thad Allen in the daily briefing for a list of contractors, which he promised to address. USCG officer J. R. Hoeft followed up by email to say he would start working on it.
On Saturday, June 12, the Washington Post published a story on some of the contractors working on the clean up, noting that “BP has major contracts with two national companies to clean up any major spill at Deepwater Horizon: the nonprofit group Marine Spill Response Corp., based in Herndon, and National Response Corp., a wholly owned subsidiary of Seacor Holdings, based in Fort Lauderdale.” These organizations were established as joint ventures of the oil industry to follow the rules of the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, passed in response to the Exxon Valdez incident.
On Wednesday June 16, Hoeft emailed the Wonk Room with a list of fourteen companies “that direct about 68 percent of the total contractors working the spill” — with only the company names. Follow-up calls with the Unified Command, including a contentious discussion with BP spokesman Toby Odone, did not provide more information. The Wonk Room has been unable to determine the identity of one of the contractors on the list, named only “ILES.”
Below is an overview of the other thirteen top contractors identified by Unified Command as working for BP on the disaster, as well as other major contractors now governing the Gulf Coast region: Read more
After winning the GOP nomination for the California U.S. Senate race last week, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina has been quick to tout her chief executive credentials in her race against Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA). While claiming to fight for “millions of Californians [that] are struggling without a job,” Fiorina has mounted a fierce defense of her record off-shoring American jobs and has glossed over her rocky tenure at Hewlett Packard.
Portfolio named Fiorina one of the 20 worst CEO’s of all time, saying she was “busy pontificating on the lecture circuit and posing for magazine covers while her company floundered.” And Fiorina’s even gone as far as saying that “of course” she would still cut 10,000 jobs, like she did in 2003, if she were the HP CEO today.
Moreover, the former HP CEO has made a concerted effort to criticize the stimulus package, asserting the economic recovery act “has done nothing” for unemployment in California. In Sacramento on Wednesday, Fiorina reiterated her misguided rhetoric at a press conference held at Rex Moore Electrical Contractors & Engineers, a Sacramento electrical company:
“If you’re a business owner and there are stimulus dollars that might help your customers buy more of your product or might help you, of course you’re going to accept the stimulus dollars,” Fiorina said. “But that is not an argument that the stimulus package has worked because the stimulus package clearly, factually, manifestly has failed because people are losing their jobs for every single dollar that’s out there.”
Interestingly, both Rex Moore and the window-making plant Fiorina’s campaign visited yesterday both benefited from stimulus funds — the first receiving $447,000 subcontract through the program and the latter advertising that customers could receive energy tax credits. The New York Times also reported that there is another California business benefiting from the Recovery act: Fiorina’s former company, Hewlett-Packard. The Times called this “the kind of benefit to private industry that Fiorina says has been missing from the stimulus program. ”
As The Wonk Room’s Pat Garofalo has pointed out, the Senatorial candidate’s “only real solution to anything is to cut taxes. But that doesn’t do much good for those who are already out of work and have no taxable income, and it doesn’t spur demand that will give businesses more customers and thus a reason to expand.”
Additionally, while Fiorina argues “people are losing their jobs” because of the stimulus, she clearly fails to recognize the stimulus’ positive impact in California. Although the Golden State is undeniably still struggling economically, the more than 70,000 jobs created as a result of the stimulus are difficult to ignore. Furthermore, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the Recovery act has already saved or created 2.8 million jobs — an estimated 3.7 million by September.
Yesterday, the Senate failed for a second time to advance its tax extenders bill, which extends unemployment benefits for laid off workers as well as various tax credits. The vote was 56-40 (four shy of the required sixty), with opponents from both parties once again citing the cost of the package as their overriding concern. “It’s still not paid for, fully paid for, is it?” said Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE). “Then nothing’s changed.” “Americans are frustrated with the amount of spending and borrowing that we’re doing around here,” said Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).
At the same time that they’re blocking the extenders bill, of course, faux-deficit hawks in the Senate are trying to reduce the tax bill for the heirs of the richest multimillionaires in the country by cutting the estate tax. Sen. George LeMieux (R-FL), who voted against the extenders bill, supports a plan put forth by Sens. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) and Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) that would use tens of billions of dollars in spending offsets to cut taxes for the richest 0.2 percent of estates in the country. Yesterday, Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) slammed LeMieux for his misplaced sense of priorities:
STABENOW: Would you agree that then we should, rather than decreasing the estate tax for less than one half percent of the public, that maybe we should make sure that any dollars there should go back into somebody who doesn’t have a job and maybe help create a partnership with a business to create a job? Would you say that’s a better priority than what’s going to be coming up here not too long on the floor, to try to help folks that already make millions of dollars a year?
LEMIEUX: Respectfully, I think the estate tax issue is a different issue, but I’ll address it…
STABENOW: I don’t think it’s a different issue!
Stabenow’s exactly right that this isn’t a different issue. The notion that the Senate would find $80 billion in spending offsets and then use it to do anything other than job creation is simply maddening.
Deficit hysteria is preventing much needed job creation measures from going forward, but as AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka told me, “we do not have a short-term deficit crisis, we have a short-term jobs crisis in this country. And anyone that doesn’t believe that has either, I think, been reading too much fiction or they have their head in the sand.”
And it’s not like doing more to spur job creation would put lawmakers on the wrong side of public opinion (despite what McConnell seems to believe). According to the latest Gallup poll, 60 percent of Americans approve of additional government spending to create jobs and stimulate the economy. Not that mass approval is always a good reason to do things, but lawmakers who think there will be a vast public blowback to increased job creation efforts might want to think again.
The streets are paved with diamonds:
— Elena Kagan’s family sound like pretty typical Jews from Manhattan, i.e. very normal for me, but will it play in Peoria?
— The call that derived our boys of the winning goal in the Slovenia game looked ridiculous to me, but I’m biased and don’t know anything about soccer so I’m glad to see that British newspapers saw it the same way I did.
— Kobe Bryant and reputation dynamics.
— Sharon Angle says she wants a revolution.
— This makes sense to me but even if highlighting climate change when talking about energy doesn’t make sense, surely Obama has an obligation (to the truth, if nothing else) to consistently mention it.
Heading to my hometown for an old friend’s wedding. Here’s TMBG “New York City”.
While Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) has been mostly lampooned for apologizing to BP for the White House’s alleged “shakedown” of the company to create a $20 billion escrow fund, some conservatives have been willing to defend the congressman.
Today, Kentucky Republican Senate nominee Rand Paul — the tea party darling who has himself faced criticism for defending BP — offered his sympathies to Barton, saying he knows “what it is like to be piled on.” While Paul stopped short of endorsing Barton’s point of view, he suggested that the criticism of Barton was “over the top,” and said that Barton “should be given the chance to explain himself”:
“I don’t know about that,” Paul said, when asked about Barton’s statement during an appearance on WVLK-AM radio on Friday. “I don’t want to pile on him. … I know what that feels like. What I will say is I have never liked the tone of the president when he said things or his administration says things like he is going to put the boot on the throat of BP.” [...]
“I’m not really in a position to know about what they should do to [Barton] personally. I do know what it is like to be piled on,” he said. “I do know that people sometimes can go over the top and I think he should be given the chance to explain himself.“
Paul joins a host of conservative pundits who have come to Barton’s defense, praising his “courage” and “legitimate point[s].” Meanwhile, the right-wing media’s fearless leader, radio host Rush Limbaugh, threw his weight behind Barton yesterday as well. As the Washington Post’s Dave Weigel noted, “Discussing Barton’s comments, Limbaugh repeatedly called the fund a ‘shakedown,’ [and] worried that it was a plot by Obama to ‘redistribute that money to ACORN.’” Limbaugh said the “shakedown” showed the Obama “regime” was behaving like “a branch of organized crime”:
LIMBAUGH: Joe Barton apologized to BP executives on behalf of himself, the American people, for the shakedown. … The United States government may as well be a branch of organized crime the way that it is being conducted and the way it’s doing business, and the way it’s looking out for itself and no one else. … Organized crime. It’s the closest thing I can think to analogize what’s happening here. And even these guys that are being shaken down, they’re paying protection money, and it isn’t enough. It isn’t enough.
Though Barton eventually apologized for his apology, Paul and a large swath of the right’s punditry appear set on defending Barton’s outrageous position. Responding to callers who challenged him for “defending BP,” Limbaugh explained that he was “trying to defend the US Constitution, the American way of life, American exceptionalism, [and] what it was that made this country great.” Many Gulf residents would likely disagree that apologizing to the company that ruined their economy and ecology made this country great.
Annie Lowrey observes that Eric Cantor doesn’t seem to be a very canny investor, having bought shares of ProShares Trust Ultrashort 20+ Year Treasury ETF last December, since which time they’ve declined 31 percent. The WSJ explains that the position “is a bet against U.S. government bonds — and perhaps on inflation in the future.”
I’d never really thought about this before, but pondering the subject sort of makes me wonder why we don’t force members of congress to put their money in blind trusts or some other vehicle. After all, Cantor actually has it in his power to non-trivially impact the performance of this investment. Now needless to say, it’s clear that he hasn’t used his powers this way. Clear and also sort of too bad. Given his investment positions, Cantor should be joining me in calling for more short-term fiscal stimulus and urging the Federal Reserve to act more aggressively to raise the price level. But either Cantor doesn’t understand his economic self-interest properly, or else he’s more committed to his principled opposition to sound macroeconomic stabilization than he is to the performance of his portfolio. One doesn’t normally urge members of congress to be more greedy and venal, but int his case it might do a lot of good.
Back in April, Cleveland Indians coach Sandy Alomar Jr. stated “[c]ertainly I am against profiling any race and having sterotypes, but at the same time my feeling is what does baseball have to do with politics? Let the politicians stay in politics and the baseball players play baseball.” Apparently, the immigration issue has a bigger impact on the Cleveland Indians than Alomar thought. The Associated Press reported today that, in light of its training in Goodyear, AZ, the Cleveland Indians are taking “extra precautions”:
The Cleveland Indians have taken extra precautions to be sure their young Latin players aren’t caught unaware and unprepared.
“We held a seminar under the direction of our cultural development director, Lino Diaz,” said Ross Atkins, the Indians’ player development director. “We brought in a local police officer to explain the situation and issued each player an ID card so they don’t have to rely on carrying around their visas and paperwork with them.”
The article explains that SB-1070 requires police officers, while carrying out their responsibility to enforce the laws, to verify an individual’s immigration status if they have “reasonable suspicion” that the person is illegally present in the U.S. Since the law provides no criteria for “reasonable suspicion,” the Associated Press points out that “a young Latin player who speaks no English might fit that description.” Given the fact that a large number of Latin Americans playing on major and minor baseball leagues, baseball managers want to avoid running into any problems.
Shortly following the passage of SB-1070, the Major League Baseball players’ union issued a statement condemning the law.
House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) has often expressed concern for how Obama administration policies are supposedly a “grave danger to America’s prosperity.” Now, the Wall Street Journal finds that Cantor actually invests in an exchange-traded fund that “takes a short position in long-dated government bonds” — effectively betting against the U.S. Treasury bonds that the government uses to fund its operations:
[Cantor], the Republican whip in the House of Representatives, bought up to $15,000 in shares of ProShares Trust Ultrashort 20+ Year Treasury ETF last December, according to his 2009 financial disclosure statement. The exchange-traded fund takes a short position in long-dated government bonds. In effect, it is a bet against U.S. government bonds — and perhaps on inflation in the future.
If Cantor truly cares about “America’s prosperity,” one would have to wonder why he is literally betting against its financial future. The Washington Independent’s Annie Lowrey adds that “Cantor is not a very canny investor. The fund is down 31 percent this year.”