Patterico's Pontifications


Congress Passes Financial Reform

Filed under: Government — DRJ @ 11:57 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

Congress passed financial reform legislation today but very few people know what’s in it:

“Even so, 38 percent of Americans have never heard of the overhaul and 33 percent have heard of it but know almost nothing about the legislation, according to an Ipsos Public Affairs online poll. Another 18 percent said they know “a little bit” about the measure.

The Ipsos poll found 3 percent are very familiar with the legislation, and 8 percent are somewhat familiar.”

Passing legislation Americans don’t understand or know about? That’s par for the 111th Congressional course.



Oakland Police: Don’t Call Us

Filed under: Government — DRJ @ 11:25 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

In an amazing coincidence, Oakland city officials and police union leaders are returning to the bargaining table following a recent police threat to refuse to respond to 44 crimes (including grand theft, burglary, car wrecks, identity theft and vandalism) if the city implemented its plan to reduce the police force by 10%.



Disaster Preparedness, HEB-Style

Filed under: Government — DRJ @ 8:01 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

South Texas HEB grocery stores are finding alternatives to FEMA that help people after hurricanes and similar disasters:

“In a battle of nature versus big business, H-E-B is fighting to win by adding power generation systems that will operate several stores immediately following hurricanes and other storms that knock out power.

The company, which has more than 315 stores in Texas and northern Mexico, began installing the system in its Rockport location Tuesday, H-E-B spokeswoman Shelley Parks said.”

Rockport is on the Gulf Coast and exposed to Gulf hurricanes.



NRC: Obama Can’t Close Yucca Mountain

Filed under: Environment,Government,Obama — DRJ @ 4:26 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

A 3-judge Nuclear Regulatory Commission panel has ruled the Obama Administration can’t unilaterally close the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste depository site:

“Unless Congress directs otherwise, DOE may not single-handedly derail the legislated decision-making process by withdrawing the (Yucca repository) application. DOE’s motion must therefore be denied,” the judges wrote, adding that the DOE had weakened its arguments by “conceding that the application is not flawed nor the (Yucca) site unsafe.”

I doubt this will help Senator Harry Reid’s re-election chances unless the appeal lasts past November.



Tar Balls Wash Ashore in Texas (Updated)

Filed under: Government — DRJ @ 3:09 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

A Texas official says tar balls from the BP oil spill have washed ashore near Galveston.

The Texas oil spill response plan for the Galveston Bay area is here and the master Gulf plan is here (NOTE: Both are .pdf links). As Commissioner Patterson states, Texas officials consistently forecast that any oil in Texas would be in the form of tar balls:

“Any oil reaching Texas shores is expected to be in the form of weathered tar balls, which cannot be prevented by boom deployment and would necessitate aggressive physical removal. Texas’ General Land Office (GLO) has five coastal offices equipped with boats, 4×4 trucks, trailers, ATVs, and skimmers available for response activities. Silt curtains could be deployed to protect washouts.

“The Texas GLO’s Oil Spill Prevention and Response Program is well equipped and well trained,” Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson said. “We know this could have happened off the Texas coast, so we’re ready on any given day for a spill.”

Meanwhile, initial tests of the A Whale skimmer were inconclusive because of rough seas:

“After an initial 48-hour testing period, results remain inconclusive in light of the rough sea state we are encountering,” said Bob Grantham, spokesman for the company. “Over this same period, very few other skimmers have even been deployed. Therefore, working in close coordination with the US Coast Guard, we will be undertaking an additional testing period to make operational and technological adjustments aimed at improving skimming effectiveness given the actual conditions we are encountering in the Gulf.”

Anyone get the feeling this testing period may last until the well is capped? On the other hand, the government has made one firm decision: The Obama Administration will take over control of Gulf oil spill central information website.


UPDATED 7/10/2010: For a change, there’s good news for BP. Lab tests show most of the Texas tar balls weren’t from the BP oil spill after all.


Redefining NASA

Filed under: Government,Obama — DRJ @ 7:44 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

There was a time when the mission of NASA — the National Aeronautics and Space Administration — was “to pioneer the future in space exploration, scientific discovery and aeronautics research.” Not anymore:

“In the video below, Charles Bolden, head of NASA, tells Al Jazeera that the “foremost” task President Obama has given him is “to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with predominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science, math, and engineering.” Thus, NASA’s primary mission is no longer to enhance American science and engineering or to explore space, but to boost the self-esteem of “predominantly Muslim nations.”

Exploring space didn’t even make the top three things Obama wants Bolden to accomplish. The other two are “re-inspire children to want to get into science and math” and “expand our international relationships.”

Imagine the possibilities when little things like agency mission statements no longer apply.



Narco-Sub Found in Ecuador

Filed under: Government — DRJ @ 6:31 pm

[Guest by DRJ]

Ecuadorian authorities have captured the first verified narco-sub:

“Long the stuff of drug-trafficking legend, federal authorities announced Saturday that they have seized the first known and fully operational submarine built by drug traffickers to smuggle tons of cocaine from South America toward the United States.”

Authorities wonder how many more subs like this are out there, and whether Customs officials should add a submarine hunting mission. Looks like that’s an affirmative.


Additions to Last Night’s Funding Bill

Filed under: Government — DRJ @ 12:39 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

The War Funding bill that passed the House last night had several additions such as the “Deemed as Passed” budget provision, FEMA funds for disaster assistance, and money to settle pending lawsuits with African-American farmers and Indians. It sounds like the funding for the Indian settlement wasn’t in question as much as funding for their lawyers. Was this a bonanza for some trial lawyers?

Meanwhile, in his Weekly Address, President Obama says the GOP is playing the “same old Washington games.” The Democrats have perfected the game.



America’s ‘Deem as Passed’ Budget (Updated)

Filed under: Government — DRJ @ 9:31 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

The House has deemed as passed a $1.12 Trillion budget:

“Last night, as part of a procedural vote on the emergency war supplemental bill, House Democrats attached a document that “deemed as passed” a non-existent $1.12 trillion budget. The execution of the “deeming” document allows Democrats to start spending money for Fiscal Year 2011 without the pesky constraints of a budget.

The procedural vote passed 215-210 with no Republicans voting in favor and 38 Democrats crossing the aisle to vote against deeming the faux budget resolution passed.

Never before — since the creation of the Congressional budget process — has the House failed to pass a budget, failed to propose a budget then deemed the non-existent budget as passed as a means to avoid a direct, recorded vote on a budget, but still allow Congress to spend taxpayer money.”

Rep. Paul Ryan’s response is at the link. He’s much calmer than I would have been so it’s fortunate he’s the one speaking for the GOP.

H/T Dustin.


UPDATE — More from The Hill:

“House Democrats passed a budget document Thursday that sets discretionary spending at levels below those proposed by President Barack Obama but doesn’t address how Congress should cut deficits.

The “budget enforcement resolution” Democrats are substituting for a traditional budget resolution sets discretionary spending for 2011 at $1.12 trillion, about $7 billion less than Obama’s proposal and $3 billion less than a Senate Democratic plan. It also sets a goal of cutting deficits to the point where revenues equal all spending except for interest payments on the debt.

But unlike traditional budget resolutions, this year’s version doesn’t detail how Congress should reach that goal, leaving those tough decisions to Obama’s bipartisan fiscal commission.”

Article I of the United States Constitution sets forth the powers of Congress, and Section 9 Clause 7 provides that “No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law.” Can a bipartisan fiscal commission created by the Executive exercise power for Congress? Further, as Steven Den Beste raises in the comments, who has standing to object?

Anderson Cooper to the Government: “We Are Not the Enemy”

Filed under: Government,Obama — DRJ @ 8:20 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Anderson Cooper responds to the Obama Administration’s blanket rule that levies criminal sanctions against anyone, including the media, who fails to stay 65 feet away from booms or response vessels in the Gulf:

ANDERSON COOPER: “So keeping prying eyes out of marshes, away from booms, off the beaches is now government policy. *** If we can’t show what’s happening, warts and all, no one will see what’s happening and that makes it very easy to hide failure and hide incompetence.”


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