Thursday, May 27, 2010

Oily News That's Fit to Print: Wednesday Update, Thursday Preview

President Obama will hold a press conference Thursday. He'll announce new oil drilling policies, reportedly including suspension of all drilling in the Alaskan Arctic. But what he has to say about the Gulf will be the most important. If he masters this press conference, he goes to Louisiana on Friday clearly in charge.

In the Gulf, BP is conducting its Big Kill experiment to plug the damn hole, though they say they won't know if it's at all successful for 24 hours or more. Rachel Maddow did report that BP was encouraged because what was coming up from the well was the "mud" they were piping into it, not oil. I'm not sure why this was encouraging, since the mud was on top of the oil and so would naturally be what came up at first, but what do I know?

Rachel also had a real stunner--NBC news footage that showed step by step the uncanny resemblance of this catastrophe to a similiar one in the Gulf in 1979, right down to the same company involved, and especially the same techniques used to to stop it--all of which failed, and the leak went on for months. It wasn't so close to shore, however, and it was in June--not mating season in the marshes, but closer to hurricane season. Plus it was a well 200 feet down, not more than 5,000.

Back to President Obama. The criticism continued today, getting screechier, to the point that a couple of commentators were criticizing Obama for talking about how this disaster suggests the U.S. needs to turn more decisively to clean energy--this was too bloodless for them, not germane to the Gulf. Maybe, except that what they were criticizing was a soundbite, taken out of a speech in which he did talk about the Gulf situation as a tragedy. (Interesting however that making this connection to the energy bill was lauded in the blogosphere.)

Though I think the President needs to take command on this issue, and I hope and expect him to explain just what's been going on, we also have to concede that he has other problems to deal with. It did look for a day that a new Korean war might erupt, and that danger hasn't entirely passed. Immigration, gays in the military, etc. are all heating up in Congress, but the most important and under-covered issue is the Jobs Bill, which includes crucial extensions of unemployment benefits. It's the closest we'll get to a "second stimulus" at a critical moment in economic recovery.

Another under-covered story--and I'm surprised that the Rabid Right media hasn't jumped on this one--is the beheading of the White House Court Jester for inappropriate jokes about the national debt.

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