Archive for June, 2010

Do We Really Need Police?

What is the point of having police? In an earlier blog, I discussed the nature of our war on drugs and its costs in both human and monetary terms. And then, yesterday, the Supreme Court finally got around to deciding that the second amendment, like the other amendments in the Bill of Rights, has been incorporated by the fourteenth amendment. What this means is that the second amendment operates against state and local governments, just like it does against the federal government. Which got me thinking about some of their other decisions, particularly the one that stated that the police have no duty to protect anyone from crime.

So I started doing a little research into police in general. For example, every year in America, 6,000 killers get away with murder. Even though the overall homicide rate has fallen in the past few years, the percentage of homicides that go unsolved in the United States has risen alarmingly. Even with all the DNA analysis and forensic science, and all that cool gadgetry we see on TV, police fail to make an arrest in more than one-third of all homicides. National clearance rates for murder and manslaughter have fallen from about 90 percent in the 1960s to below 65 percent in recent years.

In many big cities, like Boston and San Francisco, over half of homicides go unsolved. Nearly 185,000 killings went unsolved from 1980 to 2008. In 2008, police solved 35 percent of the homicides in Chicago, 22 percent in New Orleans and 21 percent in Detroit. Experts say that homicides are tougher to solve now because crimes of passion have been replaced by drug- and gang-related killings.

And yet, in the face of all that, the police departments keep asking for more. And they’re not ashamed to admit it.

“If I had a magic wand, I’d ask for more money so I could hire more officers. We just need more of everything,” said one police chief.

And don’t think it’s just murder. Nearly 90,000 women reported they were raped in the United States last year. It is estimated another 75,000 – out of a total of 164,240 – rapes went unreported. Yet there were only about 22,000 rape arrests – that is only a 25 percent arrest rate.

Also in the news recently was the conviction of a high-ranking Chicago police official for torturing suspects.

But there’s more. In addition to not having to protect you, and then not solving the case should you be killed, they use selective enforcement of traffic laws to raise money. Doubt it? In August 2008 Illinois governor, Ron Blagojevich, admitted planning to use traffic enforcement cameras as a “fundraiser.” First year revenue for these cameras in Illinois is expected to reach 40 million dollars. And the cameras are dangerous, according to some studies.

A study of red light cameras in Washington, D.C. by the Washington Post found that these cameras did not reduce injuries or collisions. The number of accidents actually increased. Red light cameras in Portland, OR produced a 140% increase in rear end collisions. Another study by the Virginia Transportation Research Council found that though red light cameras decreased collisions resulting from people running red lights, they significantly increased the number of accidents overall.

I had a conversation with a police chief locally a while back. I asked him what could be done about illegal fireworks, which makes some areas around here sound like a war zone. He looked at me, and with all serious, said, “Not a damn thing.” And yet our local police department has handed out 180 tickets in the last two months to people who park so as to block part of the sidewalk.

So the upshot of it all is this. The police have no duty to protect you, and based on crime statistics, they don’t. If you are the victim of a crime, they probably won’t solve it. They can’t protect you from traffic accidents, and in some places they even make it more likely you’ll be involved in an accident. They can’t even prevent minor nuisances, like fireworks, from disturbing the peace. Yet they are widely hailed as heroes, and they routinely pick the taxpayers pockets for more and more money, using the boogeyman of crime in the streets.

Given the massive amount of revenue-producing traffic enforcement, and the probabilities of traffic accidents caused by enforcement cameras, most of us have more to worry about from the police than from criminals.

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Kagan’s Disproportionate View

I have, so far, withheld comment on the Elena Kagan nomination. We all know by now, or should, that this is another in the long line of dog-and-pony shows that are judicial confirmation hearings. The Senators ask questions that show how little they know about both the constitution and the process of judging, bloviating solely for the TV to try to impress their constituents that they are Solomon-like in their wisdom. The nominees answer without answering, refusing to say what they, and we, already know. That is, how will they vote on the two or three really important questions that make up the bulk of what the public cares about from the Supreme Court.

Kagan is no different. A Clinton apparatchik, now an Obama functionary, we know two things. First, that with an almost filibuster-proof majority, she will be confirmed by the democrats regardless of republican complaints. That is the power that comes with a president whose party holds the senate. That is, of course, unless the republicans are in power. Then we hear the caterwauling from the dems about the need for “mainstream” judicial nominations. Which brings us to the second thing we know.

Kagan is clearly a liberal. We know her positions on almost any issue you care to name. Second Amendment? Against it. First Amendment? Against it. Abortion? For it. Gays in the military? For it. None of this is a surprise; Kagan is not some stealth backwater justice, coming out of nowhere. She is a Harvard educated liberal who has served two liberal presidents. So the fact that she is a liberal is largely irrelevant to my complaints. The country has had liberal justices before and survived. The country has had liberals hiding as conservatives, until they were confirmed, and survived. Even that bastion of liberal thought, Thurgood Marshall, couldn’t destroy the republic single-handedly.

What irks me about Kagan is not her politics, it’s her moral incompetence. Kagan is quoted as having said that “ ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ is a moral injustice of the first order.” There are so many things wrong with that statement it almost boggles the mind.

First of all, “don’t ask, don’t tell” is a courtesy and a kindness, as well as a strategy to avoid refusing entry into the military for homosexuals or discharging the ones already in. We won’t ask if you are queer, and as long as you don’t tell us, we won’t care. It seems to be a reasonable policy to me, since that is largely how I conduct my life. I have never asked anyone with which sex they sleep, and I prefer not to be told. Having once been told, I must then alter my behavior.

Second, calling it a moral injustice does violence to both words. Whether or not to allow openly homosexual people to serve in the military is not a moral question, but a practical one. There are a number of military people who have studied the question, and believe that allowing open homosexuals in the military would endanger unit cohesiveness. I don’t know that to be true, but I do know the answer to that question is a functional one, not a moral one. One would not suggest allowing a quadriplegic to serve in an infantry unit, but no-one would say that decision had a moral component to it. As far as injustice goes, the concept of justice embodies the principle of treating like things alike. It is not unjust to treat homosexuals differently from heterosexuals in all circumstances. There are circumstances where homosexuality can rightly be considered to be a disqualifying condition.

Third, when Kagan says “first order’” she overstates its importance. It may be an important issue, but I would reserve “first order” for the problems that threaten our very existence. Abortion, islam, unchecked war on our southern border, starvation throughout the world, genocide are all fist order issues. Whether you can engage in sodomy, announce it publicly, and expect life to go on as usual, hardly reaches to the level I get exorcised about. Kagan, however, finds no difficulty in equating the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy with the human holocaust that surrounds us daily.

I believe that Kagan is unqualified for the Supreme Court. Not for her politics, but for her incredibly deranged perception of what constitutes serious moral issues. It reflects a paucity of thought that is appalling in someone nominated for the court, as well as a lack of fundamental education in what constitutes morality and how to discern major from minor issues thereof.

It is very obvious, to me at least, that Kagan would be a favorite of the late Roman Hruska.

Steny Hoyer v. Barack Obama

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said Tuesday that tax increases will eventually be necessary to address the nation’s mounting debt. Tax cuts are scheduled to expire at the end of the year, affecting taxpayers at every income level. Obama proposes to permanently extend them for individuals making less than $200,000 a year and families making less than $250,000 — at a cost of about $2.5 trillion over the next decade.

“As the House and Senate debate what to do with the expiring Bush tax cuts in the coming weeks, we need to have a serious discussion about their implications for our fiscal outlook, including whether we can afford to permanently extend them before we have a real plan for long-term deficit reduction,” said Hoyer. In the short term, government spending has been necessary to stimulate the economy, Hoyer said. But in the longer term, Congress will have to rein in spending and raise taxes to tackle the debt, he added.

There are three interesting aspects to this announcement.

First, the implicit admission by the House Majority leader that the debt problem is spiraling out of control. Doubt it? Let’s take a look at Obama’s favorite role model, Europe. Hungary’s Prime Minister on Tuesday proposed an overhaul of the tax system and cuts to the public sector, to reassure jittery markets that it can handle its debt. A new 29-point fiscal plan will introduce a six-year tax for financial institutions. He also suggested the plan would cut public sector wages and eliminate benefits. In England, much the same. Britain launched an emergency package of higher taxation and spending cuts that are aimed at slashing a huge public deficit, amid intense concern about sky-high debt levels in Europe. Finance minister George Osborne announced that he would slap a levy on banks, ramp up taxation on goods and services, freeze public sector pay and slash benefits spending in an attempt to cut the public deficit. We all are aware, aren’t we, of the problems Greece is having.

America’s debt is out of control, and Obama shows no interest in eliminating it. On the contrary, he seems determined to aggravate it. According to John Kyl, Obama refuses to secure our borders unless we assimilate millions of unemployable, illiterate foreigners that will suck up more and more of the dwindling supply of dollars. Santayana was right, but we don’t have to wait for history, we can see the failure of euro-socialism nightly.

The second interesting aspect is the news out of capitol hill that the Senate has killed an attempt to repeal lucrative tax breaks enjoyed by the oil and gas industry. The move by Vermont’s Bernie Sanders would have raised $35 billion over 10 years by limiting the ability of oil companies to write off drilling expenses, eliminating a tax deduction for the capital costs of oil and gas wells and repealing a tax deduction for domestic production of oil and gas. But Sanders was on the losing end of a 61-35 vote. What makes it really interesting is that this was done by a Democrat controlled senate. Who’s in bed with big oil?

Now for the third, and most interesting aspect. Way back in September of 2008, Obama made a “firm pledge” not to raise “any form” of taxes on those making less than $250,000 per year:

“I can make a firm pledge. Under my plan, no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase. Not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes.” After Obama broke his “firm pledge” when he signed into law a steep hike in the federal excise tax on tobacco, White House spokesman Reid H. Cherlin attempts to claim that the Obama pledge only applies to “income or payroll taxes.” During a White House press briefing, when challenged as to how Obama’s tax pledge squares with his tax hike on tobacco, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs replies: “People make a decision to smoke.” Moments later, when asked if Obama’s tax pledge applies “to the health care bill”, Gibbs replies: “The statement didn’t come with caveats.”

So he broke the pledge there. Later, in June of 2009, when challenged on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos as to whether Obama’s tax pledge applies to healthcare reform, White House Advisor David Axelrod replies: “One of the problems we’ve had in this town is that people draw lines in the sand and they stop talking to each other. And you don’t get anything done.” Later in August of 2009, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner refuses to rule out a pledge-breaking tax hike after being given several opportunities to do so: “I think what the country needs to do is understand we’re going to have to do what it takes, we’re going to do what’s necessary.” After all of that, White House Spokesman Robert Gibbs reiterates Obama’s tax pledge:“I am reiterating the President’s clear commitment in the clearest terms possible, that he’s not raising taxes on those who make less than $250,000 a year.”

Fast-forward to May of this yea. At a Manhattan breakfast sponsored by Thomson Reuters, White House Budget Director Peter Orszag threw that pledge out the window. Instead, he described Obama’s “read my lips, no new taxes” pledge as a “stance” and a “preference” that is subject to study by the president’s newly formed bipartisan Commission on Fiscal Responsibility. “The president has been very clear about what he prefers,” Orszag said under questioning. “That was his stance during the campaign, and he still believes that’s the right course forward.”

Now we get to see if he’ll break his pledge a third time when the House tries to raise taxes. And they will try. Whether it’s letting Bush era tax cuts expire, or dreaming up new and more exciting taxes like a VAT, Obama will have to sign off on increases or face an increasingly disillusioned group of congressional democrats. Because after all, only suckers really ever believed Obama’s pledge in the first place.

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Green Energy and Spain’s Bad Results

Barack Obama on Tuesday night expressed once again his admiration for the European model of “green” energy. He pledged incredibly large sums of your money to promote his vision of an energy economy based on renewable resources like solar and wind. A few days ago, I took a look at the French model of a nation heavily invested in nuclear technology with great results. The French made the decision to invest in nuclear for the same reasons Obama wants to go green, including national security.

But what about the other European countries that the anointed one so admires? Let’s take a look at some of them and see what Obama’s models have actually produced. I’ll start with Spain, since that’s the country that’s been in the news the most.

U.S. President Barack Obama’s 2010 budget proposal contains about $20 billion in tax incentives for clean-energy programs. In Spain, where wind turbines provided 11 percent of power demand last year, wind generators earn rates as much as 11 times more for renewable energy compared with burning fossil fuels. The premiums paid for solar, biomass, wave and wind power – – which are charged to consumers in their bills — translated into a $774,000 cost for each Spanish “green job” created since 2000, said Gabriel Calzada, an economics professor at the university and author of a study from King Juan Carlos University in Madrid.

For every new position that depends on energy price supports, at least 2.2 jobs in other industries will disappear, according to the study.

“The loss of jobs could be greater if you account for the amount of lost industry that moves out of the country due to higher energy prices,” he said in an interview. “Spain’s experience (cited by President Obama as a model) reveals with high confidence, by two different methods, that the U.S. should expect a loss of at least 2.2 jobs on average, or about 9 jobs lost for every 4 created, to which we have to add those jobs that non-subsidized investments with the same resources would have created.”

For example, Spain’s Acerinox SA, the nation’s largest stainless-steel producer, blamed domestic energy costs for deciding to expand in South Africa and the U.S., according to the study.

Spain too easy? Let’s look at another of Obama’s favorites, Denmark. Obama has frequently cited Denmark as an example to be followed in the field of wind power generation, stating on several occasions that the Danes satisfy “20 percent of their electricity through wind power.” The truth is, as is almost always the case, a little different. In 2006 scarcely five percent of the nation’s electricity demand was met by wind. And over the past five years, the average is less than 10 percent — despite Denmark having carpeted its land with the machines. Government subsidy of wind producers over the past decade amounts to roughly $376 million per year. The public subsidy in Denmark per wind-related job created is 600,000-900,000 DKK per year ($90,000-$140,000 USD). This subsidy constitutes 175-250 percent of the average pay per worker in the Danish manufacturing industry. Thanks to a combination of expensive base power, taxes and additional charges, Danes pay more for their electricity than anyone in the European Union. Hardly the results Obama wants to publicize.

OK, maybe that’s too easy. Let’s look at a more industrialized nation; one more like America, Germany.

According to one study, “Germany’s experience with renewable energy promotion is often cited as a model to be replicated elsewhere, being based on a combination of far-reaching energy and environmental laws that stretch back nearly two decades.” Researchers add this: “German renewable energy policy … has failed to harness the market incentives needed to ensure a viable and cost-effective introduction of renewable energies into the country’s energy portfolio.” But since there is a lack of market incentives, what about government incentives?

Financial aid to Germany’s solar industry has now reached a level that far exceeds average wages, with per worker subsidies as high as $240,000. In 2008, the price mark-up attributable to the government’s support for “green” electricity was about 2.2 cents per kWh. For perspective, a 2.2 cent per kWh increase here in the US would amount to about a 20% increase in consumer’s electricity bills. Government support for solar energy between 2000 and 2010 is estimated to have a total net cost of $73.2 billion, and $28.1 billion for wind. A similar expenditure in the US would amount to about half a trillion dollars. Green jobs created by government actions disappear as soon as government support is terminated, a lesson the German government and the green companies it supports are beginning to learn. Government aid for wind power is now three times the cost of conventional electricity.

America still keeps a strategic supply of helium for use in blimps. It has maintained this strategic reserve for almost one hundred years. Keeping this reserve is a pointless, but harmless, exercise in backward thinking. Unfortunately, we cannot do this when the subject is oil. We cannot, as a nation, continue to plan our future based on petroleum technology. Obama is right about one thing, we need to explore alternatives to oil. Unfortunately, for us and for him, he looks to the wrong countries for examples.

Barack Obama, Chicago Thuggery Triumphant

Barack Obama just got 17 minutes of television time, and we learned a number of things. First, we learned that I was proved right again, twice. Obama agrees that we can no longer rely on foreign oil imports, a position I had a week ago. Second, he admitted that he, meaning the Federal government, can’t fix the problem, another position I told him about. And I say I told him because I have some information that he reads my blog religiously.

Second, we learned that he is an incorrigible liar. He claimed that he wanted to hear about all ideas to protect the environment, yet it took seven weeks before he approved Bobby Jindall’s plan to build barrier islands. He apparently is more willing to meet with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad than with the governor of Louisiana. He said that the Feds were in charge since day one. Anyone who has followed this issue knows that’s a prevarication. He also told us that Ken Salazar had cleaned up MMS, yet in his speech, he tells us that the head of MMS is being replaced. Then there is his assertion that he directed BP, ab initio, on how to mobilize cleanup logistics. If Obama told me tomorrow was Wednesday, I’d look at a calendar.

Third, we learned that there is no problem that, in Obama’s mind, can’t be solved by more government. During the speech, in addition to the announcement that he is creating two new government entities, was the revelation that he wants more new regulations. Quelle surprise.

We also learned that, mirabile dictu, it was Bush’s fault. According to Obama, MMS represented the trend towards deregulation, which was the nature and cause of the problem. Deregulation is bad, except when it’s his watch that does it. Let us not forget that the Obama mob has been in charge for eighteen months. Just what have they been doing?

Finally, we learned that Chicago style thuggery is alive and well in the White House. There is the 512% increase in tax on the oil companies, intended to fund an oil spill cleanup fund. Then comes the most important part of the whole speech. This part is so important, so staggering in its implications that I’m going to emphasize it by putting it into bold type.

Quoting Obama, “Tomorrow, I am going to inform the head of BP to set aside whatever resources are required to compensate the workers and business owners into an escrow fund to be managed by an independent commission.”

There is no constitutional authority for the anointed one to take such a step. There is no enforcement mechanism for him to insist on such a course. There is nothing in particular to prevent BP from declining to participate in funding such an escrow fund. As a matter of fact, under current law, it appears that BP’s liability may very well be capped at 75 million dollars. It may even be that BP has a fiduciary obligation to its shareholders to avoid such a plan. Imagine, if you will, that you run down your neighbor’s dog. Imagine further, that before the circumstances of the accident are known, Obama came to you and said you were going to be required to pay into an account to compensate your neighbor. If you were to be honest, you’d object to that. The only difference between the scenario I offered and the BP scenario is the scale of money involved.

Obama may be able to strong-arm BP into agreeing to this as a PR issue, but he risks an enormous amount of political capital. Even the NY Times, the bastion of the left-wing news organs, is taking him to task for his incompetence on the oil spill. He doesn’t have that much capital left to squander.

For those of you, and you know who you are, who questioned my comparing the Gulf spill to the Gulf of Tonkin, let me make my analogy a little clearer. The government lied about Tonkin in order to manipulate the US into an ill-advised and terrible war. The government has now engaged in a pattern of lying about the oil spill. Why? Obama told us tonight. He wants to dismantle the fossil fuel industry by seizing assets, adding layers of new regulations, and placing a moratorium on deep-water drilling. He wants to spend untold billions (trillions?) on “clean energy.” Wind, solar, and better windows. Oddly enough, not a mention of nuclear. This is nothing more than a naked power grab.

And for those of you who think the government is above lying to you, do you remember WMD, yellowcake, Watergate, Pearl Harbor, the Maine, and Shay’s rebellion? Government lying isn’t the exception, it’s the rule. And the current crop of thugs have had an awful lot of practice at it.

Thursday, we’ll take a look at just how well that whole “clean, green energy” thing has worked for Spain.

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America’s Need for a Sane and Sensible Energy Policy

The talking heads, including me, have all taken their cracks at the anointed one. Aside from revelations that the administration altered scientific reports to serve a political end, there is little news to report. Although it is interesting to note that Obama campaigned vociferously about the need to allow science to operate independent of political pressure, and yet he is now hoisted by his own petard. It is becoming increasingly difficult to tell where Bush ends and Obama begins.

It has become apparent, at least to me, that there are two real problems demonstrated by the ongoing spill in the gulf drama. The first is the location of the well itself. The environmentalists have railed long and loud against near-shore drilling. Consequently, we have a pipe rupture a mile deep and miles out at sea. It strikes me that had this well been a mile offshore, in three hundred feet of water, the breach would have been contained already. The law of unintended consequences strikes again.

The real problem, though, is the lack of some sort of coherent, long term energy policy in this country. I’m almost ashamed to admit it, but in this category, like baked goods and wine, we lag the French significantly. Half of America’s electricity is coal generated, 18 percent is hydro-electric. The rest is a combination of natural gas, some solar, and less than 2 percent wind. In this, the twenty-first century, there is absolutely no excuse for burning fossil fuels for electric power. There is also no excuse for mortgaging our national security to morons like Hugo Chavez or muslims like the Saudi ruling family. The French figured this out in the seventies.

France derives over 75% of its electricity from nuclear energy, due to a longstanding policy based on energy security. France is the world’s largest net exporter of electricity due to its very low cost of generation, and gains over EUR 3 billion per year from this (about 3.7 billion in US dollars.) Next door is Italy, without any operating nuclear power plants. It is Europe’s largest importer of electricity, most coming ultimately from France. France has been very active in developing nuclear technology. Reactors and fuel products and services are a major export. It is building its first Generation III reactor and planning a second. As a result of these decisions, France now claims a substantial level of energy independence and almost the lowest cost electricity in Europe. It also has an extremely low level of CO2 emissions per capita from electricity generation, since over 90% of its electricity is nuclear or hydro.

France chose the closed fuel cycle at the very beginning of its nuclear program, involving reprocessing used fuel so as to recover uranium and plutonium for re-use and to reduce the volume of high-level wastes for disposal. Recycling allows 30% more energy to be extracted from the original uranium and leads to a great reduction in the amount of wastes to be disposed of. Overall the closed fuel cycle cost is assessed as comparable with that for direct disposal of used fuel, and preserves a resource which may become more valuable in the future.

Used fuel from the French reactors is sent for reprocessing. This has the capacity to reprocess up to 1700 tonnes per year of used fuel, extracting 99.9% of the plutonium and uranium for recycling, leaving 3% of the used fuel material as high-level wastes which are vitrified and stored for later disposal.

Imagine an America free of fossil fuel burning. Imagine, first of all, the national security implications. No wars in the mid-east to protect what has become a “national-interest commodity.” No need to rely on oil imports to run critical infrastructure. The possibility of reducing the size of our military would exist, since there would be less need to project our power to protect energy supplies.

Imagine an America where electricity is cheap enough to make electric cars a reality. Overnight charging, chargers at work, charging stations located as frequently as gas stations are now. Mag-lev trains running inter-city routes. Long distance freight hauling by electric railroads. The possibilities for transportation are almost limitless.

Imagine an America where home heating, cooking, and water heating are done by electricity; where the cost for doing that is less than the cost of using natural gas or oil.

All it would take is a commitment to implement an energy plan based on our real long-term interests. Our interests in a clean environment and a safer world. Wind power can’t supply the volume needed, nor can solar. Hydro can help, but the real answer lies in nuclear power. France has been a working laboratory for 35 years, with nothing but positive results. It is time that we take a lesson from one of our allies, and develop a serious and implementable plan to eliminate our need for oil imports.

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Obama’s Katrina, or More Correctly, Obama’s Gulf of Tonkin

The Obama administration has been spectacularly impotent in regards to the oil spill in the gulf. Fifty days in, and the oil is still spewing forth. It took that seven weeks for the Corps of Engineers to allow Louisiana to build barrier islands to forestall the landing of oil on the beaches of that state. The commander of the COE? Barack Obama.  The Department of Homeland Security waited to declare that the incident was “a spill of national significance,” only after the estimate of the size of the spill was increased to 5,000 barrels a day. It took weeks for Obama to work his way down to visit the affected areas.  It took the president nine days to even address the tragedy and 12 days to allocate federal resources. Only after polls indicated that the American public wanted an emotional response from the president did the anointed one demand information on “whose ass to kick.”

Putting aside for a moment the vulgarity of the president, let’s see if we can’t find an ass or two for him.

How about Adm. Thad W. Allen, the commandant of the Coast Guard?  Admiral Allen said that he agreed the situation was catastrophic and could continue to unfold for up to three months, but he said he remained satisfied with his team’s response, saying that even if it had initially known that the leak was 5,000 barrels a day, the response would have been the same. The administration’s response, you remember, has been to let BP handle it.

How about the administration officials who issued the drilling permit to BP? The administration officials who gave the platform operators an exception to the requirement for some safety devices? The same administrators who operated a revolving door between oil companies and the government, allowing people, money, and jobs to rotate between the two, even in the face of Obama’s pledge of an ethical and transparent government that wouldn’t employ lobbyists to regulate the industries they lobbied for?

Since we’re discussing ethics in the Obama administration, how about Rahm Emmanuel?  PR firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner “helped BP plan and evaluate its successful re-branding campaign, focusing the company’s branding on energy solutions, including the development of solar and other renewable energy sources.” The firm’s Stanley Greenberg is married to Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Ct.  Last year, it was reported that White house Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel had been living in the couple’s Capitol Hill townhouse, resulting in a lot of questions about whether or not this arrangement violated congressional ethical guidelines. Further, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee paid Greenberg’s firm some $500,000 in 2006 and 2008 while Emanuel was living with Greenberg, and Emanuel was even in charge of the DCCC during the 2006 election cycle.  We all know Obama was the biggest recipient of BP’s campaign cash in Washington, but it seems BP’s ties to the White House run even deeper.

How deep? Among its many lobbying and public relations efforts, BP is working with the Brunswick Group to craft its public response to the spill. Brunswick employs political and congressional veterans including Hilary Rosen, a former Democratic congressional aide; Anthony Coley and David Sutphen, former aides to the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass. BP’s Washington lobbyists include Tony Podesta, a prolific Democratic fundraiser and brother to John Podesta, who headed Obama’s transition team. Tony Podesta appears at least seven times in visitor logs released by the Obama White House.  The White House confirmed that BP lobbyists have been to the White House complex. Other BP lobbyists include Jim Turner, a former House Democrat from Texas now with the Arnold & Porter firm and Michael Berman, a former Democratic Senate aide and party adviser.

BP has also had several Washington insiders on a company advisory council, including former Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle and former Clinton White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta. The company also counts current and former employees on at least three federal advisory panels, including, ironically, the National Petroleum Council.

How about kicking his own ass? It has been revealed that the US Department of the Interior intentionally misrepresented the results of a recent survey of the spill by federal scientists in an attempt to minimize the scope of the disaster.

Last week the Interior Department released a statement to the press with a new estimate placing the amount of oil leaking into the Gulf at 12,000 to 19,000 barrels per day. The numbers came from a survey conducted by the National Incident Command’s Flow Rate Technical Group, a team consisting of government scientists and representatives from universities across the US. The White House stood by the new estimates and BP executive Robert Dudley appeared on national television to promote them.

In reality, the scientists conducting the survey reported this estimate only reflected the “lower bounds” of their findings, meaning that the numbers represented the very least possible amount of oil flowing into the Gulf. The National Incident Command scientists had not yet arrived at an estimate for the “upper bounds” when the Interior Department released its statement and the scientists say the upper estimate could be “significantly larger.” The Interior press release declared the estimate of 12,000 to 19,000 barrels represented “the lower and upper boundaries” of the study, meaning no more than 19,000 barrels of oil were spilling into the Gulf each day. Eugene Chiang, a professor of astrophysics at the University of California, Berkeley, found the size of the spill could be as large as 100,000 barrels per day.

Is it really any wonder that Obama hasn’t been tougher on BP, or more proactive on the cleanup efforts? In spite of his campaign proclamations to the contrary, the ethics of this administration leave a lot to be desired.

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