Oil inspectors let companies fill in own audits, while one admitted getting high on meth, report says

<sarcasm> Well, we obviously need new laws, since they obviously aren’t enforcing the ones already on the books. </sarcasm>

From RawStory:

The agency in charge of overseeing the United States’ oil reserves was plagued with gross mismanagement that in at least one case allowed the companies being inspected to fill in their own audit reports, an Inspector General’s report will reportedly reveal this week.

Regulators overseeing oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico reportedly allowed oil company officials to fill in their own inspection reports. According to the internal probe being released this week, oil officials sketched out their answers in pencil and turned them over to federal oversight officials, who then traced their answers in pen.

And as if that wasn’t enough, a Louisiana inspector from the Minerals Management Service purportedly admitted to investigators that he’d used crystal methamphetamine, and may have been high on the illegal stimulant during a drilling inspection.

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The Next Bailout: $165B for Unions?

This will probably go through with no problems. After all Obama can’t afford to offend his voter base.

From Fox News:

A Democratic senator is introducing legislation for a bailout of troubled union pension funds.  If passed, the bill could put another $165 billion in liabilities on the shoulders of American taxpayers.

The bill, which would put the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation behind struggling pensions for union workers, is being introduced by Senator Bob Casey, (D-Pa.), who says it will save jobs and help people.

As FOX Business Network’s Gerri Willis reported Monday, these pensions are in bad shape; as of 2006, well before the market dropped and recession began, only 6% of these funds were doing well.

Although right now taxpayers could possibly be on the hook for $165 billion, the liability could essentially be unlimited because these pensions have to be paid out until the workers die.

It’s hard to say at the moment what the chances are that the bill will pass. A hearing is scheduled Thursday, which will give the public a sense of where political leaders sit on the topic, said Willis.

Just last week President Obama said there would be no more bailouts. (That was then, this is a whole new week, with all new rules- pinroot)

Cause for alarm? (Global Warming)

From WattsUpWithThat:

Why do scientists and news stories blame everything on global warming? Fortune and glory.

Guest post By Paul Driessen, Willie Soon, and David R. Legates

We’re often asked, What really causes all these alarms about global warming disasters?

As scientists and policy analysts who’ve studied our ever-changing climate for a combined 65 years and attribute the changes primarily to natural forces, we’ve wondered that ourselves and also asked: Why is warming always framed as bad news? Why does so much “research” claim a warmer planet “may” lead to more diarrhea, acne and childhood insomnia, more juvenile delinquency, war, violent crime and prostitution, death of the Loch Ness Monster – and even more Mongolian cows dying from cold weather?

We’re not making this up. In fact, this is just the tip of the proverbial melting iceberg of climate scare stories chronicled at http://www.numberwatch.co.uk/warmlist.htm.

Clearly, too much money is being spent on one-sided global warming advocacy cloaked as “research,” not enough on natural causes and adaptation. Despite the best of intentions, too much money can corrupt, or at least skew the science.

As they say, follow the money. Remember Indiana Jones’ immortal words: “Fortune and glory.”

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An Updated List of Goldman Sachs Ties to the Obama Government Including Elena Kagan

With Bush, it was mostly big oil. With Obama, it appears to be mostly Goldman Sachs. The faces change, but the corruption doesn’t. Anyway, this article and the previous article by the author (which he links to in this article) are eye-opening and well worth reading.

From FireDogLake:

I. Introduction.

This essay shows the pervasive influence of Goldman Sachs and its units (like the Goldman-Robert Rubin-funded Hamilton Project embedded in the Brookings Institution) in the Obama government. These names are in addition to those compiled on an older such list and published here at FDL. In the future, I will combine the names here and those on the earlier article but I urge readers to look at the earlier list too (links below). Combined, this is the largest and most comprehensive list of such ties yet published.

For readability and clarity, I have NOT included many of the details and links that are found in the earlier article so as to make this one less repetitive and easier to read. So, if you want more documentation, please look at my earlier diary here at Firedoglake called “A List of Goldman Sachs People in the Obama Government: Names Attached To The Giant Squid’s Tentacles” published on April 27, 2010.

Note too that I have intentionally used the words, “Obama government” rather than “Obama administration” because some of these connections are not technically within his administration. These would include ambassadorial appointments and Supreme Court appointments (like that anticipated for Elena Kagan). This also includes lobbyists like Dick Gephardt who has multiple connections/input to Obama and to Goldman Sachs and the Hamilton Project.

In a similar vein, I use a broader definition than just Goldman Sachs (GS) because GS has funded, along with its ex-leader Robert Rubin, a right-leaning think tank called the Hamilton Project and embedded it within the Brookings Institution. Some of its activities thus also spill over into Brookings Institution projects which doubtlessly was one of the clever reasons Rubin and GS did this, along with providing their essentially neo-con/neo-liberal think tank with camouflage. This has worked beautifully for GS and Rubin as most writers–even critical ones like Matt Taibbi–seem unaware of the important doings of the Hamilton Project. The Hamilton Project has 32 people sitting on its Advisory Council and many have ties to Goldman Sachs, Rubin and the Obama government. Of the first four Directors of the Hamilton Project, three work in the Obama administration. Meanwhile, the most recent Director of the Hamilton Project came from academia and from a position as economic adviser to the Obama administration to Hamilton in the sort of “revolving door” that Washington is famous for.

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After beating up Wall Street ‘fat cats,’ President Obama ready to take their money in NY fund-raiser

This is so typical of a politician; talk trash about someone in order to get votes and political support, then suck up to the people you talked trash about, because they are the real ones who put the politicians  in power.

From NYDailyNews.com:

President Obama has been happy to beat up on Wall Street “fat cats,” but tonight he’ll be even happier to take their money.

The President is slated to headline a superswank, $50,000-per-couple fund-raiser for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee at Manhattan‘s gilded St. Regis hotel on Fifth Ave.

The high-dollar affair will feature fine French food, a bevy of Wall Street titans and 23 Congress members – including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

Not everyone is thrilled that Obama and Pelosi are looking to use New York as a campaign ATM at the same time that they are trying to rein in Wall Street, the city’s biggest job and tax generator by far.

At least one ex-congressional campaign committee giver said he’s decided to boycott the event and will send his money to the GOP instead.

“I’m a New Yorker first,” said the once loyal Dem, who asked to remain anonymous out of fear of inciting the White House. “We are depending on our congresspeople to defend New York, not to just go along with Nancy Pelosi for the ride.”

Kathryn Wylde, president of the business-backed Partnership for New York City, was considerably more welcoming – but still drew a link between Wall Street’s health and its ability to bankroll political campaigns.

“We are really happy he’s coming and hope he brings good news,” said Wylde, adding pointedly, “New York’s future as a place to raise money hangs in the balance!”

Organizers said they expected 185 guests to fill out St. Regis’ main ballroom, where Obama will hold forth beneath a vaulted, cloud-dappled ceiling and gilded chandeliers.

Ticket prices start at $15,000 a head, or $30,000 a couple, which will get you dinner and a picture with the Prez.

Couples that shell out a full $50,000 also get to attend a VIP reception with Obama, who earlier in the day will be chatting up factory workers in Buffalo.

The food, at least, should be five-star: A topnotch lineup of chefs from the French Culinary Institute in SoHo – including Jacques Pepin, Alain Sailhac, Jacques Torres and Andre Soltner – are prepared to do the honors.

The chairman of the event is Rep. Steve Israel (D-L.I.), who earlier this year was persuaded by Obama not to run in a primary against Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.).

“It’s always an honor to chair an event with the President of the United States,” Israel said, “and it’s an even bigger honor to host him in New York.”

Distrust, Discontent, Anger and Partisan Rancor: The People and Their Government

It seems like nearly everybody is unhappy with the current state of affairs.

From The Pew Research Center:

Overview

By almost every conceivable measure Americans are less positive and more critical of government these days. A new Pew Research Center survey finds a perfect storm of conditions associated with distrust of government – a dismal economy, an unhappy public, bitter partisan-based backlash, and epic discontent with Congress and elected officials.

Rather than an activist government to deal with the nation’s top problems, the public now wants government reformed and growing numbers want its power curtailed. With the exception of greater regulation of major financial institutions, there is less of an appetite for government solutions to the nation’s problems – including more government control over the economy – than there was when Barack Obama first took office.

The public’s hostility toward government seems likely to be an important election issue favoring the Republicans this fall. However, the Democrats can take some solace in the fact that neither party can be confident that they have the advantage among such a disillusioned electorate. Favorable ratings for both major parties, as well as for Congress, have reached record lows while o pposition to congressional incumbents, already approaching an all-time high, continues to climb.

The Tea Party movement, which has a small but fervent anti-government constituency, could be a wild card in this election. On one hand, its sympathizers are highly energized and inclined to vote Republican this fall. On the other, many Republicans and Republican-leaning independents say the Tea Party represents their point of view better than does the GOP.

These are the principal findings from a series of surveys that provide a detailed picture of the public’s opinions about government. The main survey, conducted March 11-21 among 2,505 adults, was informed by surveys in 1997 and 1998 that explored many of the same questions and issues. While a majority also distrusted the federal government in those surveys, criticism of government had declined from earlier in the decade. And the public’s desire for government services and activism was holding steady.

This is not the case today. Just 22% say they can trust the government in Washington almost always or most of the time, among the lowest measures in half a century. About the same percentage (19%) says they are “basically content” with the federal government, which is largely unchanged from 2006 and 2007, but lower than a decade ago.

Opinions about elected officials are particularly poor. In a follow-up survey in early April, just 25% expressed a favorable opinion of Congress, which was virtually unchanged from March (26%), prior to passage of the health care reform bill. This is the lowest favorable rating for Congress in a quarter century of Pew Research Center surveys. Over the last year, favorable opinions of Congress have declined by half – from 50% to 25%.

While job ratings for the Obama administration are mostly negative, they are much more positive than the ratings for Congress; 40% say the administration does an excellent or good job while just 17% say the same about Congress.

Federal agencies and institutions also are viewed much more positively than is Congress. Nonetheless, favorable ratings have fallen significantly since 1997-1998 for seven of 13 federal agencies included in the survey. The declines have been particularly large for the Department of Education, the FDA, the Social Security Administration, as well as the EPA, NASA and the CDC. In terms of job performance, majorities give positive ratings to just six of 15 agencies or institutions tested, including the military (80% good/excellent) and the Postal Service (70%).

As was the case in the 1997 study of attitudes about government, more people say the bigger problem with government is that it runs its programs inefficiently (50%) than that it has the wrong priorities (38%). But the percentage saying government has the wrong priorities has increased sharply since 1997 – from 29% to 38%.

Perhaps related to this trend, the survey also finds a rise in the percentage saying the federal government has a negative effect on their day-to-day lives. In October 1997, 50% said the federal government had a positive effect on their daily lives, compared with 31% who said its impact was negative. Currently, 38% see the federal government’s personal impact as positive while slightly more (43%) see it as negative.

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Kagan helped shield Saudis from 9/11 lawsuits

From Raw Story:

Elena Kagan, President Barack Obama’s latest nominee to the Supreme Court, helped protect the Saudi royal family from lawsuits that sought to hold al Qaeda financiers responsible in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

The suits were filed by thousands family members and others affected by the Sept. 11 attacks. In court papers, they provided evidence that members of the Saudi royal family had channeled millions to al Qaeda prior to the bombings, often in contravention of direct guidance from the United States.

But Kagan, acting as President Obama’s Solicitor General, argued that the case should not be heard even if evidence proved that the Saudis helped underwrite al Qaeda, because it would interfere with US foreign policy with the oil-rich nation. She posited “that the princes are immune from petitioners’ claims” because of “the potentially significant foreign relations consequences of subjecting another sovereign state to suit.”

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