Monday, May 24, 2010

A Tim Russert of our own

Lewis Lapham on Tim Russert:
To an important personage Russert asked one or two faintly impertinent questions
the reply was of no interest to him, not worth his notice or further comment. He had
sprinkled his trademark salt, his work was done. The important personage was free to choose from a menu offering three forms of response—silence, spin, rancid lie. If silence, Russert moved on to another topic; if spin, he nodded wisely; if rancid lie, he swallowed it.

Embedding has been disabled on these two videos (alternate links) of Norman Robinson interviewing the heads of Richards Disposal and Metro Disposal, but he didn't ask any of the follow up questions that I would have asked.

Now read Bob Somerby
Yep, Russert can really be a bulldog when handed a story his cohort approves of. He pummeled Biden with six straight questions about Kerry’s deeply troubling vote. But when Miller attacked Kerry’s vote—two times—the bulldog crawled under his desk and died. According to Russert, his job on Meet the Press is to “learn everything you can about the guests and their positions and then take the other side on the air” (page 308). But somehow, Russert forgot “to take the other side” when Miller slammed Kerry’s troubling vote. Voters are hearing this “position” from every steeple. But Russert forgot to challenge it.
Tim hammered Biden with six straight questions on one single topic. With Miller, the bulldog wandered around, trying to find an old steak.

I didn't count, but on this clip (again, not embeddable), it sure seems like even more than six questions on one single topic. Norman Robinson asks absolutely no follow up questions of either Alvin Richards or Jimmie Woods, but several of James Perry. Tim Russert would be proud. I suppose we can at least infer that Helena Moreno was well-liked by her former colleagues at WDSU.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Glad I won't have to worry about sitting in the shade

I was overjoyed this morning to see a crew trimming the branches of an oak tree next to Bayou St.John in the vicinity of Toulouse St. I assume they trimmed all the oaks along that small stretch, and that's a good thing. If you were thinking of skipping Bayou Boogaloo for fear that you might get stuck sitting in the cool shade on a comfortably sunny day, don't worry, the city's taken the proper steps to ensure that doesn't happen.

As a matter of fact, when our new mayor reorders the city's priorities, I hope he understands the great importance of protecting us from the menace of a return to pre-Katrina shade levels. I don't care what any bleeding heart, liberal tree-lovers say.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Why is the Obama administration going along with the information blackout?

Yves Smith
Now let us get to part 2: why is Team Obama enabling this nonsense? I come up with two possibilities:

1. Team Obama believes the BP BS

2. Obama does not want to look impotent. Revealing that the leak is really bad and not having a quick solution is an Obama PR disaster. Obama has to work through BP unless he can implement an action plan using only government resources or by working with another oil company with deep ocean expertise. Given the lead times for government contracting, this would take quite a while.

If the leak is as serious as I fear, this is environmental equivalent of the Iran hostage crisis. Team Obama recognizes this, and therefore wants to create the impression as long as possible that everything that could possibly be done is being done. Note that the Administration is behaving with BP exactly as it did vis as vis the banksters in early 2009: believing that the problem is too complex and scary for them to assert control, casting its lot in with the people who caused the problem in the first place (while calling them bad names often enough to create plausible deniability). And enabling BP’s coverup of how bad the leak means, as Obama did with the financial services industry, of having to support, or at least not undermine too much, its PR efforts.

I'll try to exlain why I haven't been blogging about the disaster tonight,not that Iexpect anyone to care much.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Teeming swamp life

Unfortunately, I was in City Park, and not out in the swamps, when I saw a scene that kinda, sorta looked like this video today

Well, there were only three alligators and they weren't behaving quite that aggressively. I also didn't hear any music that had me looking for Mohicans or mad British actors, for that matter. I've seen alligators in that part of the park before, the lagoon between the arboretum and the (closed) East and West golf courses, but never more than one,and usually they don't do very much. Seeing three active alligators in the middle of the city struck me as unusual.

On second thought, they were acting more like the alligators in these two videos, but I hate the talking in both of them, especially the professional narration in the first. So, it might have been a mating pair and a lonely guy trying to butt in. Still, it was a pretty cool sight.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Been too busy to keep up

Has anyone done the obvious "Thanks Houston" post?

Let's see, we've got:
BP and contractors Transocean and Halliburton were expected to give conflicting accounts of responsibility for causing the blast, testimony prepared for the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and the Senate Environment Committee show.

That's Transocean:
Transocean might not have a great record when it comes to safety engineering, but it has shown real expertise in the area of financial engineering.

Transocean has opposed new Interior Department safety regulations that would have applied to its rig by mandating safety audits once every three years, instead of whenever the oil companies felt like it, the Huffington Post reported. But it has treated its shareholders extremely well, pumping out billions of dollars in dividends and making use of aggressive techniques to finance a big merger.

Here are some highlights:

* The company, spun off from Sonat in 1994, was based in Houston but maintained its official headquarters in the Cayman Islands, where the tax rate is zero. It moved its headquarters to Zug, Switerland, in 2008.

And Halliburton, let's not forget Houston's Cameron International:
Even with the problems with cement seals and the weakening of the mud barrier, the blowout preventer, or BOP, a contraption built by Cameron International, still could have blocked the oil gusher. Unfortunately, those devices, too, have had documented troubles.

The above might be a tad unfair, but they do seem to like the "market good/ government regulation bad" Tea Party bumper sticker in Texas.

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