The power of the presidency

The Nation
by Laura Flanders


President Obama’s announcement that BP would set aside $20 billion in a fund for victims of the Gulf spill is a welcome relief to communities where businesses and homes have been destroyed. The total amount needed to compensate, however, is being estimated at closer to $60 billion. Obama swears the 20 is not a cap — I guess we’ll see. More to the point: since the president had no legal basis to demand the set aside, on what basis did he extract those billions? It’s called the power of the president. It just goes to show what you can do when you’ve got the top job...

BP doesn’t deserve a liability cap

Cato Institute
by Richard Epstein


Our national frustration continues to rise with each new drop of BP oil that leaks into the Gulf of Mexico. Everyone knows we can’t legislate away environmental risks without consigning ourselves to the Stone Age. What’s needed going forward is a comprehensive legal strategy that addresses the risks though a combination of regulation before the fact and tort liability (and criminal sanctions where appropriate) afterwards. Tort remedies are essential to protect people (and their property) who do not have contractual relations with defendants from harms such as air and water pollution. The legal system should never allow self-interested parties to keep for themselves all the gains from dangerous activities that unilaterally impose losses on others — which is why the most devout defender of laissez-faire must insist, not just concede, that tough medicine is needed in these cases. The fundamental question here is one of technique: What mix of before and after sanctions will do the job at the lowest cost?

Liberal despair and the cult of the presidency

The New Republic
by Jonathan Chait


Few people follow the arcana of Congressional debate. They attribute all political outcomes to the president, and thus when the outcome is unsatisfactory, the reason must be a failure of presidential willpower. … Rachel Maddow offered a perfect example of the phenomenon the other night. She delivered her fantasy version of the speech President Obama should have given...

Barack Obama’s square box

The American Spectator
by Daniel Oliver


When John F. Kennedy Jr.’s plane crashed into Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, in July 1999 some observers said he had gotten himself into a “square box,” meaning that he had run into the limits of his experience and his imagination. Barack Obama is in a square box, and observers are now beginning to talk about his inevitable crash...

Executive privilege

by Philip Giraldi

Even if the long war finally ends some day, there will be no revival of the liberties enshrined in the United States constitution and the protections afforded by the rule of law. This will be the most enduring legacy of George W. Bush and Barack Obama. It hasn’t mattered which party has been in power, the objective of both has been to establish an all powerful executive that can operate without any constitutional restraints. Since 2001, the creation of just such a central authority, fueled by an exaggerated fear of terrorism, has led to the dismantling of many of the freedoms that Americans enjoyed for over two hundred years...

Informant: Thomas L. Knapp


Let's Not Write Our Future in Oil

Obama, BP and the Gulf Oil Disaster

Max Ajl, Truthout: "The most pathetic images I have seen in the aftermath of the explosion of the Deepwater Horizons deep-oil drilling rig were of pelicans drenched in oil, with brown glistening gunk matting down their plumage. When pelicans become covered in oil, they can't properly regulate their body temperature. In Louisiana summer, they overheat and die."

Waxman: Tony Hayward Acting Like He Has Nothing to Do With BP

Deb Weinstein, Truthout: "Unflappable before lawmakers choking back their anger, BP's Chief Executive Officer Tony Hayward responded to questions from the members of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce with the equivalent of rank, name and serial number."

Corruption and Collapse

Francis Shor, Truthout: "Since the explosion of the British Petroleum Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, 2010, we have been treated to a case study in both the endemic corporate corruption of US politics and the inherent environmental catastrophes of the fossil fuel economy. The spread of toxicity, whether from oil, chemical dispersants, or corporate lobbyists and their willing handmaidens in Washington, DC, is so evident that even President Obama has been forced to ramp up his rhetoric about 'cozy relationships' and conflicts of interest."

How Halliburton Is Profiting From the Gulf Oil Spill

Matt Rocheleau, The Christian Science Monitor: "Shortly before the Deepwater Horizon blowout, Halliburton bought an oil spill prevention firm. The oil-services industry is consolidating, which is not necessarily good news for quality, experts say. Eleven days prior to the April 20 Deepwater Horizon blowout, Halliburton Co., the contractor in charge of cementing the rig's well, agreed to purchase a little-known company."

Weeping and Anger Over a Lost Shrimping Season, Perhaps a Way of Life

Elizabeth Grossman, SolveClimate: "'This is the one thing that could destroy our culture and I don't want to see it happen,' says Grand Isle, Louisiana resident Karen Hopkins wiping at tears she's clearly fighting. She's talking about this year's lost shrimp season, and the fear that it won't be the last."


The Crash Is Underway

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