Segments on Countown and The Rachel Maddow Show last night--guest hosts on both--highlighted significant self-inflicted wounds by the Obama Administration that serve to undermine the narrative of a "deeply progressive" president who only delivers so little because of intransigent GOP opposition in the Senate. On Countdown there was the revelation that EPA staffers had been politically over-ruled in their objections to letting BP use oil dispersents that actually do more harm than good. And The Rachel Maddow Show highlighted news from the Washington Post about a sharp increase in deportation rates under the Obama Administration.
O`DONNELL: Today is day 100 of the crisis in the Gulf of Mexico, and a whistle-blower has come forth from the Environmental Protection Agency, charging the EPA with helping BP to downplay the environmental impact of its supposed cleanup efforts.... EPA senior policy analyst, Hugh Kaufman, is a veteran and legend of the agency, having had a hand in Love Canal and the creation of the Superfund and helped expose the EPA cover-up of air quality at ground zero. Mr. Kaufman, what should we know about the dispersants used in the Gulf that the EPA isn`t telling us?
KAUFMAN: Well, first of all, the dispersants mixed with the oil and the water is extremely toxic. Sweden has done studies on this. Israel has done studies on this. And the only real purpose of using so many dispersants with the oil was to cover up the volume of oil that was released from that well. So, that and lying about how much is coming out was a mechanism to help BP save billions of dollars in fines.
O`DONNELL: Should they have not used dispersants at all?
KAUFMAN: That`s correct. If they did not use dispersants, they would have been able to get most of that oil off of the surface and would not have endangered all of the fish and ecosystem underneath the water that now will be affected for decades on down the line. I was listening to some of the, quote, "experts" who are being paid by BP at universities who are saying that the oil has disappeared. It hasn`t disappeared. It`s throughout thousands of square miles in the Gulf, mixed with dispersants, and because the temperatures down there are so cold, they`re going to be around for decades.
This is not really surprising, since it was reported at the time that the dispersents were banned in Europe because of their toxicity. Put that together with the information we've reported from Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) about how staffers at a number of agencies continue fighting political battles similar to those during the Bush years, and this hardly comes as a surprise. But it's surely a disappointment. No matter what type of spin they try to put on it, the Obama Administration's closeness and deference to BP has clearly visible, and clearly damaging to the President politically--for absolutely no good reason. Now we're getting an even clearer picture of how much it has cost--and that cost will only grow larger and clearer in the years ahead.
The interview continued, on the subject of what went on within the EPA & the administration:
O`DONNELL: Now, were you and others at the EPA making this case within the system, that -- arguing that we shouldn`t be using dispersants there? And what was the response?
KAUFMAN: Well, the working level troops in research, some of the toxicologists who have experience and education, were trying to get management to pay attention to the data that EPA had and has had for decades, but to no avail. There was a political decision made to let BP take the lead as opposed to the government being proactive, as we used to be.
O`DONNELL: Now, when you say a political decision, are you saying that that decision was made by EPA administer, Lisa Jackson, a Barack Obama appointee? Or was it made outside of the EPA?
KAUFMAN: The decision was made outside of the EPA, by political appointees. But I don`t have the vision to see how high up that was made. My vision is limited, because I`m in the middle of the bureaucracy.
Openness? Transparency? Accountability? Reality-based policy-making? What happened to all that good stuff?
Note that none of that is--supposedly at least--inherently liberal or progressive. It's supposed to be just plain Civics 101 and common sense. Yet, here we are with an EPA acting more like Bush was still in office than a Democrat.
Here's Hayes, in one of the best on-air commentaries he's made to date:
The "papers, please" law in Arizona may be at the center of the national immigration debate, but there's another immigration story that you really need to know about. it's being obscured by all the screaming election year hyperbole surrounding this issue, but it's both politically significant and frankly pretty shocking. It's the story about the Obama Administration and deportation. the Obama Administration is deporting substantially more people than the Bush Administration did. they're actually changing immigration enforcement policy so they can kick more people out of the country. As a matter of fact, President Obama is expected to deport 10% more people this year than President Bush deported in 2008.
Now, officially, the Obama deportation policy is focused not on undocumented immigrants who are otherwise law-abiding citizens, but on those who commit crimes while they're here. But the Washington Post reports this week that President Obama has been presented with evidence that thousands of ordinary illegal immigrants continue to be targeted and deported often for minor violations. And an advocate for day laborers tells the Post that the Obama policy has created, quote, "a huge drag net and it's structural. basically, it's anyone they can get their hands on"....
Deportation is the most heavy-handed way of dealing with the immigration problem in this country. It has a massive potential for splitting up families and otherwise inflicting misery on people who don't have any good options in this world. And it's a way of treating the symptoms of illegal immigration rather than the causes. So that's why it's bad policy. But the politics are even worse. Because no amount of deportation short of 100% will satisfy the people the President appears to be pandering to with this policy shift. For one thing, most people vehemently opposed to current immigration levels haven't even noticed he's deporting more people than President Bush, because they don't get their news from the so-called "lame stream media". But even if they're aware of the change, they don't to be in a big hurry to admit it. It does not in any way involve giving the president credit for all that old-fashioned law enforcement. Let me read here from the script. Steve King said of the President, "The President doesn't want to enforce immigration law, because he's vehemently opposed to those laws." It goes on.
Now, here's the thing, not only is he alienating the people who are already -- not only has the President decided to pander to people who are not going to support him anyway, but he's alienating the crucial bloc that won him the 2008 election. It was Latino voter's twinge toward president Obama in 2008 that provided the margin of victory in many swing states. and if you're the White House right now looking at polling data about approval data for the president, you're very scared. just months ago, the president's approval rating among latinos was coming in at 79%. it's now down to 55%. When the midterms come this fall and the Latinos decide to stay home because they're seeing people deported every day, the White House is going to have no one to punish but itself.
Why does Obama to pander to people he can't possibly succeed with? What makes him such a terrible panderer? It's his ideology, stupid! He believes as a matter of faith that if he just panders long and hard enough, eventually "men of goodwill" on the other side will just have to see what a swell guy he is--even though such men do not actually exist. Verily, so strong is his faith that his pandering will single-handedly call them into being! And then they can sit down and make beautiful "grand bargain" music together.
You know he used to smoke pot. So did millions more of us. Used moderately, it's less problematic than alcohol.
But this sort of behavior suggests he sniffed glue, too. And that stuff really messes you up.