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Don’t Drink The Water, Part III: Put On Your Caps, Everybody

Henry Fountain and Liz Robbins in NYT:

Oil stopped gushing into the Gulf of Mexico for the first time in nearly three months, as BP began testing the containment cap atop its stricken well, a critical step toward sealing the well permanently.

“I am very excited that there’s no oil in the Gulf of Mexico,” Kent Wells, a senior vice president for BP said in a teleconference on Thursday, “but we just started the test and I don’t want to create a false sense of excitement.”

Oil stopped flowing at 2:25 p.m. local time, Mr. Wells announced, when engineers closed the choke line, the final seal of the well. Engineers and scientists will now examine the results of the pressure tests every six hours to determine the pressure levels. Read the updated article on the cap.

Steve Benen:

Watching the live feed, it’s clear the oil that was gushing into the Gulf of Mexico has, at least for now, stopped entirely. To put it mildly, it’s a welcome sight.

The new containment mechanism has been delayed a bit in recent days, but officials shut the various valves today as part of a long-awaited “integrity test,” and so far, so good. The “pressure test” will continue over the next 48 hours.

So, are we in the clear? Crisis over? Not yet. The seismic tests will tell us whether to the cap should stay on.

Bradford Plumer at The New Republic:

Still, the Macondo site won’t be fully and permanently plugged until BP finishes drilling a relief well. Kate Sheppard has a great piece today about some of the challenges involved there, including this useful warning: “A relief well drilled to quell last year’s Montara blowout off the coast of Australia took five tries before it succeeded—with an average of one week between them.” Now, BP claims it can bottle up the well once and for all by July 29, though do note that just happens to be the date of BP’s second-quarter shareholder meeting.

And this doesn’t mean the oil-spill disaster is over. There’s a lot of crude bobbing along in the Gulf right now: Scientists estimate that between 92 million and 182 million gallons have gushed out into the ocean since the Deepwater Horizon platform first blew up back in April. BP is still using dispersants to break up the oil and send it down to the sea floor, even though no one quite knows how the chemicals might affect marine life in the area. And note that oil’s still washing ashore, and Bobby Jindal’s artificial “barrier islands,” which were supposed to protect Louisiana, are now crumbling.

Patrik Jonsson at The Christian Science Monitor:

Six weeks ago, Robert Bea, an engineering professor at the University of California, Berkeley, received a late-night call from an apologetic “mystery plumber.” The caller said he had a sketch for how to solve the problem at the bottom of the Gulf. It was a design for a containment cap that would fit snugly over the top of the failed blowout preventer at the heart of the Gulf oil spill.

Professor Bea, a former Shell executive and well-regarded researcher, thought the idea looked good and sent the sketches directly to the US Coast Guard and to a clearinghouse set up to glean ideas from outside sources for how to cap the stubborn Macondo well.

When Bea saw the design of the containment cap lowered onto the well last week, he marveled at its similarity to the sketches from the late-night caller, whose humble refusal to give his name at the time nearly brought Bea to tears.

“The idea was using the top flange on the blowout preventer as an attachment point and then employing an internal seal against that flange surface,” says Bea. “You can kind of see how a plumber thinks this way. That’s how they have to plumb homes for sewage.”

BP has received 300,000 ideas from around the world for how to cap the well after decades-old methods failed. Everyone from amateur inventors to engineers, Hollywood stars to hucksters, have swamped the unified command with ideas.

BP executive Doug Suttles says the new containment cap design came from weeks of trial and error. “We’ve been adding and trying new things constantly,” Mr. Suttles said last week.

The design was originally intended to increase BP’s ability to siphon oil from the well to containment ships on the surface. But in the past two weeks, it became clear to the company that the design, if it passed certain well integrity tests, could also be used to stop the flow altogether. If successful, the containment structure will be a turning point in the Gulf oil spill drama.

BP spokesman Mark Salt says, “There’s no way of finding out at the moment” whether Bea’s forwarded suggestion from the self-described “lowly plumber” made it into the design. “There’s also a good chance that this was already being designed by the time this [tip] came in.”

On the other hand, Mr. Salt adds, “I’m sure we’ve used bits and pieces of suggestions [from the outside] and have picked things out that could be used going forward.”


The psychological impact of our inability to cap this damned hole in the bottom of the sea has been huge, and perhaps the hidden and unverifiable source of more economic damage than the actual spill. It was depressing and contributed to a wider sense that things are seemingly spinning out of control. The work is not done, but imagine the relief of those engineers, workers and executives — the unloved heroes — who have been struggling to deal with this problem for almost three months. I hope they get a few cold beers tonight, and maybe a nice steak.

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Two Sugars And Some Infiltrators In Your Tea

Joseph Abrams at Fox News:

A seemingly grassroots organization that’s mounted an online campaign to counter the tea party movement is actually the front end of an elaborate scheme that funnels funds — including sizable labor union contributions — through the offices of a prominent Democratic party lawyer.

A Web site popped up in January dedicated to preventing the tea party’s “radical” and “dangerous” ideas from “gaining legislative traction,” targeting GOP candidates in Illinois for the firing squad.

“This movement is a fad,” proclaims TheTeaPartyIsOver.org, which was established by the American Public Policy Center (APPC), a D.C.-based campaign shop that few people have ever heard of.

But a close look reveals the APPC’s place in a complex network of money flowing from the mountainous coffers of the country’s biggest labor unions into political slush funds for Democratic activists.

Here’s how it works: What appears like a local groundswell is in fact the creation of two men — Craig Varoga and George Rakis, Democratic Party strategists who have set up a number of so-called 527 groups, the non-profit election organizations that hammer on contentious issues (think Swift Boats, for example).

Varoga and Rakis keep a central mailing address in Washington, pulling in soft money contributions from unions and other well-padded sources to engage in what amounts to a legal laundering system. The money — tens of millions of dollars — gets circulated around to different states by the 527s, which pay for TV ads, Internet campaigns and lobbyist salaries, all while keeping the hands of the unions clean — for the most part.

The system helps hide the true sources of funding, giving the appearance of locally bred opposition in states from Oklahoma to New Jersey, or in the case of the Tea Party Web site, in Illinois.

And this whitewash is entirely legal, say election law experts, who told FoxNews.com that this arrangement more or less the norm in Washington.

Ed Morrissey:

Yes, this is entirely legal.  In fact, it’s more the norm in the post-McCain-Feingold era, as the money continues to flow but gets buried more deeply than ever.  This is why I entitled my original post “Another good reason to transparency rather than McCain-Feingold for reform.”  Since unions and corporations could not pay for political advertising until Citizens United v FEC struck down those restrictions, they simply started sinking money into front groups they could control to do it for them.  McCain-Feingold did nothing  but create an industry of money laundering which brought opacity rather than transparency to politics.

Be sure to read through the entire report.  Democratic Party and union activists apparently intend to use this website to hunt down Tea Party backers and political candidates who appeal to the grassroots.  Of course, now that unions can operate in the open, they may choose to hammer these candidates more directly than with an obscure website whose impact will be seen as iffy at best, at least as compared to open opposition from unions.  It’s good to know the players involved in this effort, as they will certainly be working at many levels to blunt the impact of the Tea Party on the midterm elections.

Michelle Malkin:

The one-year anniversary of the nationwide April 15 Tax Day Tea Party counterinsurgency is fast approaching — and publicity-seeking malefactors of all stripes want in on the spotlight.

Over the last week, conservative activists online have thoroughly exposed the loser behind an Internet call to “Crash the Tea Party.” His name is Jason Levin. To follow his trail, check Free Republic here, Canada Free Press here, and Velvet Hammer here. After failing to cover his tracks, Levin is now basking in the glow of attention on his tpartycrasher Twitter page and on his personal Twitter page (where he brags that he has hit the big time and “gone viral:”)

He’s infected alright — with an acute case of Wannabefamousitis.

Conservative blogs and talk radio have spread the word about possible shenanigans promoted by Levin, including this:

“We will act on behalf of the Tea Party in ways which exaggerate their least appealing qualities (misspelled protest signs, wild claims in TV interviews, etc.) to further distance them from mainstream America and damage the public’s opinion of them. We will also use the inside information that we have gained in order to disrupt and derail their plans.”

Levin registered his site under a phony name on April 3, 2010. He’s just the latest in a long line of left-wing leeches and anarchist clowns trying to discredit Tea Party activism and mask their roles as agents provocateur.

Lance Fairchok:

The site is “Paid for and approved by American Public Policy Committee,” an organization funded by the very same unions that have Obama and his Chicago cabal in their hip pockets. Open Secrets.Org reveals that the American Public Policy Committee is a Union political front group funded by other Union groups, the Patriot Majority and the Patriot Majority West. Just look at who funded the Patriot Majority in 2008:
American Federation of St/Cnty/Munic Employees (AFSCME)     $5,800,000
Service Employees International Union (SEIU)                                $770,000
Change to Win                                                                                     $500,000
Patriot Majority West                                                                        $300,000
Communications Workers of America                                               $300,000
Teamsters Union                                                                                 $250,000
Patriot Majority Midwest                                                                  $161,000
United Food & Commercial Workers Union                                     $125,000
Bauman Foundation                                                                            $25,000
American Affordable Health Care                                                     $11,874
Oklahoma Freedom Fund                                                                   $10,469
Pennsylvania AFL-CIO                                                                      $6,500
Bluegrass Freedom Fund                                                                   $5,000
Public Security Now                                                                             $920
American Public Policy Cmte                                                               $861
The Patriot Majority is a “527” that receives its funding from political organizations, unions, foundations, individuals, think-tanks and advocacy groups in a convoluted and incestuous network that funnels many millions of dollars into leftist causes, some of it taxpayers dollars appropriated by democrats in congress and laundered through a rats-warren of organizations, all while presenting the façade of community and citizen’s action.
Needless to say they groups are overwhelmingly invested in Obama’s socialist agenda.  In this funding shell game front groups and union conglomerates funnel money into each other and allied groups.  For example, Change-to-Win is an umbrella organization for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT), Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA), the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the United Farm Workers of America (UFW), and United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW).  Effectively the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) can contribute to the American Public Policy Committee through the Patriot Majority and groups like the “The Tea Party Is Over” site multiple times.
“The Tea Party Is Over” site is one of many sites funded in this fashion. Like everything else the Democratic Party does, it is a deception designed to influence and shape the public psyche in an information war most Americans do not realize is even going on.  When you turn over the funding rock, the same ugly bugs crawl out.  Few citizens turned over those rocks before; the MSM certainly did not help us.  Which is why the left is so concerned about the Tea party movement, the old deceptions are not working.
David Weigel post from back in February, when he was still at The Washington Indpendent:

WorldNetDaily, doing some sleuthing, finds that the group shares office space with Democratic attorney Joseph Sandler.

Eric at Classical Values:

So I think it’s clear that Big Unions are out to stop the Tea Party Movement, and will do just about anything.

Almost reminds me of the way Hoffa used to work with Nixon.



Glenn Reynolds links (without comment) to this site, which purports to organize people to “crash Tea Party” demonstrations by posing as genuine demonstrators with signs and such that “exaggerate their least appealing qualities.” It seems to me that there are at least four possible explanations for this site:

  • It is genuine, insofar as it is as it describes itself: An anti-Tea Party black op.
  • It is a pro-Tea Party propaganda device to confuse the media’s narrative regarding the “least appealing qualities” of the movement, or its hangers-on (“Hey, Mr. New York Times, how do you know that dude with the racist sign wasn’t a liberal in disguise”?).
  • It is an anti-Tea Party device to collect the names and email addresses of people eager to do dirty deeds for the left.
  • It is a pro-Tea Party device to collect the names and email addresses of people eager to do dirty deeds for the left, so that they can be referred to the media or law enforcement, as the case may be.
  • Are there other explanations? Which is the most probable? Which is the least?

    UPDATE: David Weigel

    Evan McMorris-Santoro at TPM

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    More Things Happen In The World Than Kanye West’s Mouth


    Bill Roggio at The Weekly Standard:

    Yesterday’s bold raid in Somalia by U.S. Navy SEALs that kiled senior al Qaeda leader Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan was a big victory for those seeking justice in two of East Africa’s most deadly terror attacks. SEALs swooped in on helicopters near the southern town of Barawe, shot up Nabhan’s car, dismounted from the helos to recover Nabhan’s body, and quickly left the scene. This happened in territory controlled by Shabaab, the al Qaeda surrogate in Somalia. Nabhan was also a senior leader in Shabaab who has been a major player in trying to get the two groups to merge.

    Nabhan has been one of the most sought after al Qaeda operatives in Africa. He is wanted for involvement in the 1998 suicide attacks against US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. The attack in Nairobi, Kenya, resulted in 212 killed and more than 4,000 wounded. The attack in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, resulted in 11 killed and 85 wounded. Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, al Qaeda’s operations chief in East Africa; and Abu Taha al Sudani, the leader of al Qaeda’s network in East Africa, were also behind the attacks. Sudani was killed during the fighting to oust the Islamic Courts in early 2007.

    Nabhan is also wanted by the FBI for questioning in connection with the 2002 attacks in Mombasa, Kenya, against a hotel and an airliner. In near-simultaneous attacks, Nabhan targeted a hotel frequented by Israelis and an Israeli-chartered airplane. Suicide bombers rammed a truck into the lobby of a hotel popular with Israeli tourists; 13 were killed and 80 wounded. At the same time as the hotel attack, al Qaeda launched two Strela surface-to-air missiles at an Arkia Airlines jet. The missiles missed their targets.

    Steve Benen

    David Kopel


    While there was not much enthusiasm from commenters here for giving credit to President Obama after the pirate standoff ended, since there was some question about whether the White House specifically authorized force in April or simply permitted the ROEs to stay in place (after some delay), the signing of an EO in this case leaves little doubt. So, props to President Obama for approving the whacking of this terrorist.

    Steve Hynd:

    Given a far smaller footprint of US and allied troops in Afghanistan, say around 20,000, there’s no obvious reason that spings to my mind why this raid couldn’t be duplicated in Afghanistan as part of a Rory Stewart style counter-terrorism effort there.

    Spencer Ackerman:

    It’s a poor idea to set strategy based on one specific example, but. Special Forces troops appear to have pulled off a raid in Somalia that killed the asshole who tried to down that Israeli passenger jet in 2002 and now serves (well, until yesterday) as a link between al-Shabab and al-Qaeda in the Pakistani tribal areas. The attack occurred by helicopter and was based from a “small Naval vessel,” according to the Post‘s Karen DeYoung. Now that is how you do offshore-based counterterrorism. Steve Hynd argues that, with sufficient adjustments, this could be a model for counterterrorism in the tribal areas. (Obviously, for instance, we’re talking about a landlocked area, etc.)  And: maybe. Let’s let the smoke clear and then examine the exportable and the specific aspects of the attack.

    Tom Maguire

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    Filed under Africa, Global Hot Spots, GWOT

    Puttin’ On My Top Hat, Tyin’ Up My White Ties, Brushin’ Off My Tails

    Blogosphere on fire over the Obamas’ date night in NYC.

    Flopping Aces:

    It’s bad enough that the taxpayers were left with a bill for hundreds of thousands of dollars for staff, security, military and police time. It’s also the fact that all these people had to give up their Saturday night with their families to spend it so the Obamas could cause massive traffic jams all over New York inconveniencing thousands more.

    Legal Insurrection

    Ed Morrissey:

    But the real foolishness was the Gulfstream and helicopters for the media.  Are we to believe that the national news media has no reporters in New York City?  The BIg Apple isn’t exactly the Badlands of the Dakotas, or the remote peaks of the Rockies, in terms of media saturation.  It looks like Obama wanted to make this a media event and didn’t mind using three planeloads of taxpayer money to stage it.


    As a fan of the “imperial presidency,” this is one conservative blogger who does not have a problem with our president living the high life. I remember the Carter presidency, what with its hair shirts cardigan sweaters, beige limousines, and all-around oppressive gloom, and I want none of that. Obama is doing it right, as far as I’m concerned, and I have no problem with us paying for it, either. Given the things that politicians spend money on, this does not seem particularly wasteful and it is admirably free of long-term engineer-our-society consequences.

    But, I am very much with Rob. If you believe, and President Obama says he does, that the production of greenhouse gases will lead to global catastrophe and therefore that we have a fierce moral urgancy to give up our energy-intensive ways, flying three planes to New York to take in a show is nothing less than outrageous. Imagine the entirely different pro-Gaia message if the Obamas had taken over a few cars on an Accela Express and ridden it up to Penn Station Biden-style?

    Jazz Shaw at Moderate Voice:

    To be fair here, our first observation should go out to our Republican and conservative friends who were supporters of President Bush for the last eight years. If you didn’t complain – and do so loudly and often – about President Bush shattering all previous records for presidential vacation time in the midst of two wars that he began and various other crises, you should know how you look if you complain now. All those trips to Crawford and other destinations were on the public dime, involving Air Force One, staffers, supporting crew, etc. And they cost a fortune. If you take to the streets in manufactured outrage over this evening out, you are hypocrites, and there’s really no other way to put it.

    Now, for the rest of our friends, if you were critical of President Bush for his vacationing ways, will you really just shrug your shoulders and say this is “no big deal” since it’s Obama going out on the town? The trip still involved three Gulfstream Jets, a large staff and press corps following, blocking off traffic for hours across several blocks in Manhattan on a Saturday afternoon and evening and a total taxpayer bill which the White House couldn’t even estimate for us. And it took place not only in the midst of two hot wars, but on the eve of GM likely going bankrupt and a rising unemployment rate where millions of Americans are wondering if they’ll be able to afford all their groceries next month. Could the optics of this Broadway fiasco possibly be any worse?

    James Joyner:

    I don’t, however, blame the Obamas for this but rather the culture of security we’ve built around the presidency, especially, but to other high offices as well. Since we can’t expect — and shouldn’t desire — for our leaders to live in seclusion for the entire tenure of their offices, we really need to figure out a way to let them get out and about without inordinate inconvenience to the rest of us.   There’s got to be a way to simultaneously provide them with reasonable security and not shut down the town around them.

    Tom Maguire

    Steve Benen


    And it wasn’t even a musical! What the Tommy Tune is up with that?… “Midnight, Not a sound from the pavement, Has the moon lost her memory?….” sob…sniff….oh, Grizabella, you are so very wise in the ways of the world….

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