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Congress Is Listening

Congress has apparently remembered that it has oversight responsibilities. They seem to remember when there’s a Democrat in the White House, and forget when it’s a Republican. Since it is become obvious that the executive branch has been following BP’s lead on the Gulf Gusher, it’s good that Congress remembers.

CNN reports that Experts testify on grim ecological fallout from Gulf oil spill

Washington (CNN) — The damaging effects of the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico will be felt all the way to Europe and the Arctic, a top scientist told a congressional panel Friday.

Other scientists and researchers — invited to brief members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee — warned that the thousands of barrels of oil still gushing into the Gulf are contributing to a potential ecological disaster of unknown proportions.

Safina argued that BP was using the dispersants as a public relations tool, so cameras can’t see the extent of the oil slick.

In other news at CNN, after a month, the White House finally decides it should do something, so it create a “blue ribbon committee”: Obama forms bipartisan commission to investigate oil spill

Washington (CNN) — President Obama has issued an executive order establishing a bipartisan commission tasked with investigating how to prevent future oil spills, two sources familiar with the announcement said Friday.

Obama named former Florida Sen. Bob Graham and former Environmental Protection Agency William K. Reilly as commission co-chairs.

Bob Graham is good news. He was the governor of Florida, as well as a Senator, and he isn’t fond of polluters. He is a very intelligent man who is known for his meticulous notes, which he used to great effect when the CIA claimed he had been briefed on the use of torture.


1 Badtux { 05.21.10 at 11:35 pm }

Still…. a commission?! WTF?! A commission is what you do when you don’t want to do anything. The commission spends months meeting, writes up a report with recommendations, and then… ponies! Err, no. Nothing happens. Last commission I can ever remember actually accomplishing anything was… uhm. Help me, here, okay? ;).

2 Bryan { 05.21.10 at 11:55 pm }

Every place I have ever worked, no matter what the organization did, when management wanted to bury something without making it obvious to others that no action was ever going to be taken, a committee/commission was formed.

All of the information that is required has already been given, all you need is an editorial staff to bring it together and publish it is chronological order. Throw in some maps and diagrams in a consistent format by some graphic artists [or just license them from McClatchy, which has had some good ones], include footnotes to the original transcripts, and recommend that BP’s upper management be used to plug the well. A couple of weeks, max.

As you say, the whole purpose is to appear you are doing something, while not actually doing a damn thing.

3 Kryten42 { 05.23.10 at 12:56 am }

Maybe a few quotes from ‘Yes Minister’ & ‘Yes, prime minister’ are appropriate.

“Politician’s logic:
We must do something.
This is something.
Therefore we must do it.”

“In government, many people have the power to stop things happening but almost nobody has the power to make things happen. The system has the engine of a lawn mower and the brakes of a Rolls Royce.”

“Two kinds of government chair correspond with the two kinds of minister: one sort folds up instantly and the other sort goes round and round in circles.”

“If you believe the security of the realm is at risk you don’t hold a security enquiry, you call in the Special Branch. Government security enquiries are only used for killing press stories.”

“Leak enquiries are for setting up, not for conducting.”

“It is only totalitarian governments that suppress facts. In this country we simply take a democratic decision not to publish them.”

“The Prime Minister doesn’t want the truth, he wants something he can tell Parliament.”

“The perfect representative on a government committee is a disabled black Welsh woman trades unionist.”

“A good political speech is not one in which you can prove that the man is telling the truth; it is one where no one else can prove he is lying.”

“Administration is about means, not ends. The only ends in administration are loose ends.”

Yup. And it’s the same everywhere. 🙂

4 Bryan { 05.23.10 at 11:25 am }

“In government, many people have the power to stop things happening but almost nobody has the power to make things happen. The system has the engine of a lawn mower and the brakes of a Rolls Royce.”

Back when I was in civil service I expressed the same idea this way:

As part of the bureaucracy I only have the power to say “no”. Elected officials have reserved the power to say “yes” to themselves, which is how they get campaign contributions. The politicians have specifically designed the system to direct all negative feelings towards the bureaucracy, while they harvest all of the good will.