Thursday, May 6, 2010


Backtrack, baby, backtrack May 5: Rachel Maddow updates the news on the catastrophic oil blow-out in the Gulf and the backtracking by some politicians who were enthusiastic supporters of offshore drilling - even while other politicians emphasize their support for continued drilling.

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mistermix: Bad Company, Bad Regulator

The Minerals Management Service (MMS), which regulates offshore oil rigs, gave BP a big old pass:

A rule change two years ago by the federal agency that regulates offshore oil rigs allowed BP to avoid filing a plan specifically for handling a major spill from an uncontrolled blowout at its Deepwater Horizon project – exactly the kind of disaster now unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico.

If “MMS” rings a bell, perhaps this is why:

In 2008, the Interior Department took disciplinary action against eight MMS employees who accepted lavish gifts, partied and – in some cases – had sex with employees from the energy companies they regulated. An investigation cited a “culture of substance abuse and promiscuity” involving employees in the agency’s Denver office.

MMS workers were given upgraded ethics training.

Maybe this catastrophe will merit a sternly-worded letter, or a serious talking-to.

Also, too, the industry knew about big problems with blowout preventers years ago.

Last week, former Republican congressman and MSNBC host Joe Scarborough impressed me with a strong, sensible take on the new immigration law in Arizona. The "Morning Joe" host made a compelling case that the state law is "unacceptable and it is un-American."

With that in mind, it was another refreshing surprise this morning, when Scarborough rejected the comparisons Republicans and a few too many political reporters are making between Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spill disaster.

"This Katrina analogy is absolutely obscene," he said. "Anybody who draws that analogy is an idiot, and they're obviously lurching for political points against an administration that's given them many political points to take."

That last point is of particular interest. Scarborough isn't saying that conservatives should go easy on President Obama or the administration; he 's arguing that conservative should take on the White House on issues with a foundation in reality. That seems reasonable.

On the same program, by the way, a "Morning Joe" co-host described the Katrina comparison as "dangerous," prompting Scarborough to add that the accusations, from Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) and others, against the administration are "overblown."

I'm fairly confident I haven't agreed this strongly with Joe Scarborough, twice in one week, probably ever. Believe me, no one's more surprised than I am.

Environmental wounds from Valdez still fresh May 5: Rachel Maddow points out how plainly polluted the Prince William Sound remains 21 years after the Exxon Valdez dumped more than 11 million gallons of oil into its water, making clear the dire implications of the oil in the Gulf making landfall.

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