Wall Street Broke the Mirror: 7 more years of bad times

One week ago, I highlighted a study by Reinhart & Reinhart on VOXEU that’s getting some play among the macroeconomics crowd. I think it’s especially significant to talk about that study and the Robert J Shiller piece about it on Project Syndicate in light of NBER’s dating the end of the last recession. It doesn’t feel like the recession ended about 15-16 months ago [June, 2009] for the unemployed and most Americans and this recovery is not going to feel like most recoveries we’ve had recently because of the exogenous shocked that caused it. That would be a financial crisis. As I said before, the Reinhart & Reinhart study shows that recessions that follow a financial crisis take about 7 -10 years to work themselves to an end. The last few recessions that we’ve had were caused by tight monetary policy. This basically means that the minute the FED loosened rates, the economy improved.

Additionally, let me add that unemployment is a lagging indicator. This means that you’ll see the trough (bottom) of a recessions as indicated by a composite of indicators including leading indicators before you’ll see any improvement in unemployment. That is given that Okun’s law--the traditional relationship between GDP and unemployment–is even operating on the same terms any more. Because of our incredible propensity to buy imports, and the shifting of incomes from spenders (poor-to-middle class households) to savers (the rich) the expenditures multiplier isn’t what it used to be either. The last thirty years has taken its toll on macroeconomic empirics, but not the theory itself. Yes, we’re still all Keynesians now. The models, the variables and the equations are pretty much the same. What’s changed is the parameters. We don’t see the widespread impact of things that we used to be able to count on because the last thirty years have created a lopsided economy based on imports and oligopolistic markets ruled by megacorporations. It’s sort’ve like we’re building up an immunity to antibiotics because the germs have had the time to change their systemic molecular structures to their advantage.

So, yes, the NBER dated the end of the last recession as officially being June, 2009. Again, it was based on a composite of economic measurements with corresponding trough dates.

Macroeconomic Advisers’ monthly GDP (June)
The Stock-Watson index of monthly GDP (June)
Their index of monthly GDI (July)
An average of their two indexes of monthly GDP and GDI (June)
Real manufacturing and trade sales (June)
Index of Industrial Production (June)
Real personal income less transfers (October)
Aggregate hours of work in the total economy (October)
Payroll survey employment (December)
Household survey employment (December)

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A Question of Economics

Some of the more interesting conversations on the upcoming fall elections are definitely the ones on the U.S. economy. I watched Ron Paul on AC 360 the other night announce the death of Keynesian Theory. I was sent to a Larry Kudlow (ugh) link by economist Mark Thoma today suggesting that Congress was about to turn free-market because of the teabots. Funny how you don’t read or hear economists say any of these things are good ideas. Probably because Paul and Kudlow are not economists, they can afford to obsess on their wet dreams. They are economic philosophers who like the sound of what they think is possible in the same way that all those Che Guevera wanna-bes quote Marx as a realist. It sounds so romantic! Unfortunately, us less glorious economists actually look at the empirical data and find out what it really means.

I really like what Thoma had to say about these libertarian dreamers and the deep anger steeping in their teabags.

When members of the Tea Party realize that Social Security, Medicare, and other social protections have been tossed over the side to lighten the load and increase profit (well, there is the lifeboat in the captain’s quarters paid for with the money saved on social insurance for the crew, but that’s not for the common passengers), and they find themselves subsequently tossed into the bay themselves and left to tread water amidst the bales of tea — when members of the “keep your government hands off my Medicare” crowd then find themselves unable to stay above water — it will be too late (it’s no accident that Kudlow fails to include Medicare and Social Security in his list of evil government programs). Once the foot soldiers behind this movement realize that the carpet has been pulled out from under them, and they look for scapegoats rather than acknowledging their own complicity in the outcome, it will be as much if not more dangerous than the movement itself.

I’m always amazed at how so many Americans like to work against their own best interest just because something sounds so appealing to them. Let’s take the Bush Tax cuts. Any Republican with a tax burden above one red cent screams they are over taxed and believes removing themselves from the obligation of paying for the wars they started, the jails they filled with stupid drug laws, and the subsidizes to corporations will just return everything back to the inner sanctum of 1958. This is even given the incredible tax differentials between now and 1958 where the top tax bracket was huge. They conveniently forget the tax rates under Ike which included a huge, pay for world war 2 mega surtax.

Here’s Bruce Bartlett, who woke up from the Reagan years to smell the reality at Fiscal Times.

The truth is that there is virtually no evidence in support of the Bush tax cuts as an economic elixir. To the extent that they had any positive effect on growth, it was very, very modest. Their main effect was simply to reduce the government’s revenue, thereby increasing the budget deficit, which all Republicans claim to abhor.

It’s worth remembering where the Bush tax cuts came from in the first place. In 1999, in the midst of one of the biggest economic booms in American history, then Texas Gov. Bush convened a group of Republican economists to draft a tax plan for him. Contrary to Ronald Reagan’s 1981 tax cut, which was a simple across-the-board marginal tax rate reduction, the Bush plan was a hodge-podge of tax gimmicks designed more to win the support of various voting blocs than stimulate growth.

There is nothing more gimmicky than trying to buy votes through tax cuts and if you weren’t convinced by that, be convinced by the fact that one incredibly desperate Democratic Party and President have embraced the tax cut religion for this latest round of ‘stimulus’. No amount of credible analysis says this any of this is a good idea and will achieve the announced results. But still, all you have to do is promise an American citizen one thin dime back in his paycheck and all is right with the empire.

Let me borrow a nice bold sentence from Bartlett, consummate Reagan adviser.

It’s hard even to find Republican
economists who will defend Bush’s policies.

Then, the deal is why are both parties embracing the idea of extending these tax cuts? Because it’s easy to convince voters they are over-taxed despite all evidence to the contrary. I’ve said over and over that the one feature of the Bush tax plan that needs to be removed is the favorite treatment of capital gains. You don’t hear anything about letting this bit sunset from Obama or Summers even with the talk of letting the tax rates return to the Clinton years (which are STILL historically low for that century) for the over $250,000 crowd. But why not the capital gains treatment? Is it because it makes good economic sense?

Bartlett gives you some analysis on that too.

In 2003, the economy’s continued weakness caused the White House to propose another tax cut that was more oriented toward supply-side thinking. The key elements were a reduction in the tax rate on capital gains and dividends to 15 percent. The tax cut on dividends was especially large since they had previously been taxed as ordinary income at rates as high as 39.6 percent; capital gains had previously been taxed at a 20 percent maximum rate.

Subsequent research by Federal Reserve economists has found little, if any, impact on growth from the 2003 tax cut. The main effect was to raise dividend payouts. But companies cut back on share repurchases by a similar amount, suggesting that only the form of payouts changed. (See here, here, and here.) Moreover, according to a study by Steven Bank of the UCLA law school, the fact that the dividend tax cut was temporary was a key motivation for higher dividend payouts; had the dividend tax cut been permanent, as the supply-siders favored, the impact probably would have been much less.

My Scooby sense tell me that all this change will do is shift executive pay from cash to stock options and blow some might fine bubbles in some market some where. You even can’t find a Republican economist that thinks any of this worked well, but why take the word of people in the know when you have such well-informed folks as Ron Paul and Larry Kudlow out telling people what they want to hear; no matter how untrue. But then, I don’t have a huge stock portfolio like Summers, Paul, Kudlow, Obama and the rest so their tax cut crusade won’t change my life one little bit. This doesn’t stop them from inferring to people like me, that it will make the economic red sea part, however.

Let’s see, try this one:

Harvard economist Dale Jorgenson, who is highly respected by supply-siders, put it more succinctly. When asked by The New York Times last year to name some positive aspects of Bush’s economic policies, he replied, “I don’t see any redeeming features, unfortunately.”

The reality on the ground is that Reagan was one of the last great Keynesians as was Bill Clinton. Keynesian theory is about as dead as evolutionary theory. Come to think of it, the same group of deniers that denounce Keynesian also consider Darwin’s theory of evolution to be false because they will it to be so through misunderstanding and blind faith.. Neither could be farther from the truth. The only people that believe any of that are fact deniers who live in the world of faith-based realities. In other words, people that choose what they want to believe.

And we let these people have a voice in our biggest decisions? Stephen Hawking may have made God redundant, but Ron Paul will never kill Keynes. No matter how much he wishes on a star. Remember? It was Milton Friedman who said “We’re all Keynesians now.” Even Republican economists, like Republican scientists, can’t deny facts and empirical evidence. So, with all the facts out there on the Bush tax cuts, why does Obama continue supporting tax cut club cult?


Howard Dean, off message

Politico caught Howard Dean in a moment of candor–instead of spin–at Hofstra University yesterday. Dean has his issues (boy, does he have his issues) but he does seem to have an emotional connection to populist movements in the US. He also understands the basic underlying anger at party establishment that winged its way through the Republican Primaries this summer. While bemoaning Castle’s loss, he seems to have a better understanding of the populist angst motivating many of the grass roots teapartiers than their Astroturfing organizers and donors and the pols who’d like to take advantage of them.

“I actually approve of most of what the tea party is doing… I think it’s great to have individuals reach out to take their own responsibility for their own [future] and lashing out against government that has really forgotten them… but I also believe that there is a fringe of racism in the tea party, which unfortunately for the tea party that is focused on” by the media.

He blamed the “liberal media” for focusing on the “Obama is a Nazi” posters instead of the party’s populist undercurrents but also said “Fox runs these race-baiting programs… aimed at ginning up the racists attitudes that you see.”

Dean, whose forceful, change-Washington appeal propelled him to the front of the pack before his campaign imploded in the Iowa caucuses, lamented the loss of Rep. Mike Castle in the Delaware Republican primary on Tuesday to tea party darling Christine O’Donnell, saying it augurs trouble for other electable GOP moderates like Castle.

“The Delaware election doesn’t show we can elect crazy people — I think that’s a dumb debate — [but] It shows that people are so mad that they don’t care what the facts are,” he added.

There’s been a tendency by the Democratic Party to spin all the Teabots off as angry, bitter racists. I expect they’ll portray O’Donnell as the Republican Party Mascot. She’ll replace the old elephant and probably deflect some of the elitist, sexist, rage against the Palin machine. It’s the same kinds of tactics they used on disgruntled Hillary Voters during the primaries. Make no doubt about it, the racist element is thriving in the Tea Party as well as the religionist right, but how does that completely explain why so many different and varied states are putting through so many questionable candidates?

This seems to be a movement carried not only by the usual Republican wingnuts, but an anger and a strong anti-any-establishment frustration. I said on Wednesday that I believe the idea for the majority of these protest voters is to wipe the entire slate clean and then to sort out the mess later. I think the frustration has gotten to such a high level that they just want to use whatever be-gone-establishment pols concoction they can find. Howard Dean seems to get this too. Maybe it’s because he’s been exiled back to Vermont so he doesn’t have to hang around and be a spin meister all day long. Maybe he gets it because he and the Deaniacs tried to bring something of that to the Democratic Party and were soundly assimilated into the John Kerry/Ted Kennedy we know what’s good for all you little people style that leaves them unable to get elected any where other than a handful of NE states.

I might even go as far to say that the astroturfed Obama and his campaign had the outsider appeal and the look of the same populism. Maybe it’s because I saw Dean go establishment so quickly, that I was less taken in by the less authentic-sounding speeches put into Obama’s mouth. I always thought Dean’s populism was true, just that he never had the backbone to shout once he got to the District.

I do think he nails the underlying bitter knitting going on in so much of the country. Just take a look at the economic demographics released by the census bureau yesterday and you can’t help but be slapped in the face by reality. I was meaning to front page the poverty numbers yesterday but decided to delight in some fun instead. I get some sadistic pleasure these days in jerking the chains of the remaining Obots and they never fail to light up like Christmas trees when I throw them the bait. It beats trapping Louisiana Yard Dogs any day. Besides, gators have a clue about their environment which is why they’ve survived so long. I really don’t think we’ll be able to say the same things about the OFA armies of unicorn riding reality deniers. If you poke a gator with a stick, they bite the stick. Poke an Obot, you get a predictable silly meme. It’s like pulling the string on a Chatty Cathy Doll. Those wacky memes play right into the average Teabot’s angst and the cycle of knee jerk spittle repeats itself. Just wait until November if you thought Delaware was a train wreck. You can’t release the Biden on every state in the union.

But, the bottom line is that you can’t look at the poverty and economic numbers in this country and be clueless as to where all this frustration comes from. You can’t blame the miserable Obama and congressional numbers and the incredible momentum in the other side’s Populist-du-jour–Sarah Palin–and her I’m-mad-as-hell-and-not-going-to-take-it-any-more friends from the nation’s hinterland on racism and bitter knitters. It’s not all about racism or bitterness. It’s about looking at your future straight on and seeing no light at the end of the tunnel. Right now, 1 out of 10 of us are unemployed and 1 out of 7 of us are in poverty. What person in their right mind wants to keep electing people that deliver those kinds of results?

Look at these demographics and weep. There is already very little future for the young in this country. While the elderly got richer, the younger were more likely to depend on their parents or the government for just basic sustenance.

Age is also a factor. Households led by someone 65 or older actually saw their median income rise 5.8 percent to $31,354. That was largely because of Social Security payments. But households maintained by someone aged 15 to 24 saw their income drop 4.4 percent, and those led by someone 35 to 44 fell 2.6 percent.

One of the most striking statistics released Thursday was the number of people aged 25 to 34 who are living with their parents. That number rose 8.4 percent, to 5.5 million from 5.1 million, in the last two years. We knew that recent college graduates were moving back in with their parents, but the fact that even older adults are doing so because they can’t make it on their own is a sign of the difficult economic times.

Had those people not been living with their parents, their poverty rate, officially reported as 8.5 percent, would have been 42.8 percent.

Catch these race-based statistics too. It seems like we’re doing a much better jobs of integrating the nation’s immigrants into our economy than some of our own citizens. That has to lead to simmering resentment among urban communities.

Race continues to play a huge factor in poverty and income inequality. Median per capita income for non-Hispanic whites was $30,941, down 0.8 percent from a year earlier. Among blacks, median per capita income was two-thirds less, at $18,135.

When looking at household income, the widest racial gap is between black and Asian households. Black-led households make less than half the median income that Asian households do.

Yet the bottom line is the bottom line:

Still, at 14.3 percent, up from 13.2 percent in 2008, it represented 43.6 million people, the highest number of people in poverty since the Census Bureau began publishing estimates in 1959.

More people are being disenfranchised in this country, so the anger and bitterness and blowback in elections make perfect sense. What else can they do? Exactly what does it get to make your elected officials realize that they live in a completely different world than most of us.

Severe poverty takes its toll on people and their societies.

That means that over 19 million people in the USA live in households with income less than half the poverty line (severe poverty implies income significantly less than $ 11,000 yr for a family of four).

How does it make people in these desperate situations feel when most elected officials keep telling every one that policies they pass are successful and why don’t you appreciate it? Here’s a good example, from Angry Bear.

It is basically universally agreed that welfare reform was a great success (as argued for example by Barack Obama in “The Audacity of Hope”). I think this conclusion is based on two gross and obvious errors.

First the matter was considered to have been decided by 2000. Only specialists reconsidered the analysis of welfare reform with any data not collected during the amazing boom of the late 90s.

Second a huge amount of attention is focused on the poverty rate and almost no one ever looks at the severe poverty rate. It is as if people think that it doesn’t matter how poor one is once one is under the poverty line. This is more extreme than not caring about income distribution.

But it is accepted as a fact that welfare reform worked like a charm. Evidence which isn’t less than 10 years old and the fact that $11,000 < $21,000 are ignored.

It’s almost as if most people had no clue what it is like to be poor so that they don’t even know that the poor are much poorer than they used to be.

Everything is put out there to make failures sound like moderate success. Problem is, when you’re living reality, it just sounds like one more lie.

Dean went a bit rogue yesterday. Palin goes rogue all the time. Funny thing is that these rogue states are more in line with reality than what any talking head spins on Limbaugh’s OCD, Beck’s mania or Rick’s Lost. Yes, yes, yes, there’s some real crazies that now have a solid shot at some really big jobs. But, what do you expect when you sell Hope and Change then deliver more of the same coupled with a lot more worse stuff. You think you’re not going to generate some blowback?

Desperate times create desperate people.

So, it looks like we may have a Tea Party Caucus in Congress. In the end, I doubt they’ll be able to fight the beast any more than Howard Dean could but then we shall see, won’t we?


The Blossom falls off the Rove

The once great “architect”of Republican victory–Karl Rove– finds himself on the outs as the party falls all over itself to understand and lay claim to the tea party movement Astroturf. Has the blossom fallen off the turd or has he actually awakened to the smell of his own chickenshit coming back to roost?

With the battle won by the ultra-right in Delaware, the national conservative pundits who backed Christine O’Donnell in last night’s GOP Senate primary have turned on a man who is presumably one of their own: Karl “The Architect” Rove. After Rove bemoaned O’Donnell’s nomination as the end of the GOP’s chances to take back the Senate in a heated interview with Sean Hannity last night, pundits and tea partiers have slammed him as a traitor and even called for Fox News to suspend him as an on-air analyst.

In one five-minute interview, it seems, Rove went from keeper of the conservative cause to the next Jane Hamsher in the eyes of those who are ostensibly his allies.

Has Karl gone rogue? For a man whose campaign tactics have wavered some where between Donald Segretti, Lee Atwater, and Rudolph Hess, he’s looking a lot more like a sheep dog than an attack dog today.

Let’s explore some of the right wing blogs to see how they’re playing the party schism apparent in yesterday’s primary results. From Hot Air:

Rove came across as an effete sore loser instead of the supposedly brilliant and grounded GOP strategists that he’s supposed to be. Expect more Washington Republicans to start sounding like Tea Party-bashing libs as their entrenched incumbent friends go down.

and Red State:

But I wanted to add a brief note about the views of Karl Rove, who blasted away at Christine O’Donnell before the votes were even all counted. It’s an instructive moment about how the old guard is failing to adapt to this new environment.

It’s been a rough cycle for Rove. He’s provided behind-the-scenes consulting, and in some cases public backing, for a number of losing candidates — Tiarht in Kansas, Castle in Delaware, Kay Bailey Hutchison in Texas — and he’s seemed out of his depth on radio and television appearances. Rove’s disappointingly bland memoir, released earlier this year, depicts a builder who was successful more because of his ability to identify the priority of grassroots targeting than any grand political strategy. Perhaps Rove was always better at understanding how to target and motivate people from the top down, rather than understanding why they would choose to motivate themselves from the ground up.

and some interesting advice from Gateway Pundit.

Obviously, Castle’s liberal voting record did not upset Rove as much as O’Donnell’s character flaws.

Please Karl, before you do any more damage… Just take your ball and go home already.

So much for that big tent they’ve always tried to sell as part of the party’s tolerant profile. These people turn ugly really fast, Karl. I suggest you delist your number.

Usually, I’d break open a bottle of champagne when Republican infighting turns very public and very ugly. However, before I join the liberal blog boyz who think this is going to be good news for the Democrats, I’d like to point out a few things to consider.

We’re not talking about a great populist grass roots movement here that will benefit all of us. These people want creationism taught in school. These women suggest the victims of rape turn lemons into lemonade by embracing unplanned pregnancies. These people are intolerant of Muslims, Mexicans, and the GLBT community. I’ve seen them take over the Republican party in the middle of the country and they’re a mean, nasty bunch who believe that god’s on their side and that means anything can be justified.

Watching them taking over the last few states in the country that were still sending Rockefeller Republicans to congress is not good news for any of us. The palpable anger in these people is not something to be celebrated and because they are your neighbors and look so damned normal, you’d be surprised what they can get away with.

I understand that a number of frustrated independents and people whose lives now suck because of the last ten years ushered in by the likes of Rove and Axelrod are grabbing straws. These are not the straws to grab, folks. Historically, fascism has always worn a populist face. I’m still reminded of the great Elia Kazan movie starring wonderful Patricia Neal and the iconic Andy Griffith, A Face in the Crowd. (Oddly enough, it was even on TV late last night.) Hitler and Franco rode in on a wave of populism and patriotism and we know how all of that ended. Angry, desperate people do angry desperate things and there’s always a pretty face and a strong voice willing to lead them. The difference is that the masters of spin didn’t choose these puppets and therefore, are afraid they can’t control them.

The challenge is to focus the frustration into discourse and appeal for policy that really makes a difference in peoples’ lives. FDR came in at a time when both fascist and Marxist/Leninist groups were gaining a foothold in the country. Both can threaten a democratic republic like ours. Through his leadership, our democracy and our economy survived. What’s going on now to the folks in Washington? This is what happens when you listen to the donor class more than you listen to your voters. Have we now lost the ability to return the discourse to reason? Does this represent a fundamental change in character from the American gift of optimism to an age of relentless anger?

So, is the left really leading the return from rhetoric today? (Okay, I know you’re laughing.) Let’s examine the tone of discourse at Esquire Magazine that is obviously catering to Oborg. Read this interesting display given the events of 2 years ago. Let me bold some oddly familiar things.

O’Donnell is a creature of an age in which politics have no meaning beyond performance art. She is the Creature From The Green Room, with no apparent public career beyond being available whenever some teenage booker from the cable shows needed someone to say something reliably stupid. She is one of those people who’d show up at CNN with a waterbowl in her teeth if someone there blew a dog whistle.

Her resume is so thin as to be opaque, and a lot of it seems to be a lie. She seems to be something of a deadbeat, and “U.S. Senator” seems to be her idea of an entry-level position. This morning, she stands one step away from the job.

She is what politics produces when you divorce politics from government. She is what you get when you sell to the country that nothing government can do will help, and that the government is an alien thing, and that politics is nothing more than the active public display of impotent grievance.

She is what politics produces when you turn them into a game show and the coverage of them over to a generation of high-technology racetrack touts. She is what you get when political journalism reduces politics to numbers on a scoreboard, divorcing them from the real world consequences of what are increasingly seen as cute little eccentric decisions

No dear, this is what you get when you try to put a populist face on politicians with pretty faces and continue the K Street business of the District; freaking blowback. This is what happens when people tire of being played.

And what about the Washington Republicans? Well, there’s Jim DeMint who needs no further training as a public menace or wacko.

GOP Sen. Jim DeMint said his party is on track to become stronger ideologically with O’Donnell’s win over Castle.

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), who endorsed Tea Party favorite Christine O’Donnell in Delaware’s Republican Senate primary, said he’s content with the GOP staying in the minority if the party doesn’t stand for any principles.

DeMint’s party argued before O’Donnell’s victory that she could not win a general election in Delwarare, and polls suggest Democrat candidate Chris Coons will defeat O’Donnell in November.

But DeMint, the leader of the Senate Conservatives Fund, said the GOP was on track to being a stronger party ideologically with her victory.

“I don’t want the majority back if we don’t believe anything,” DeMint said on Fox News. “So I think if we want the numbers, if we want the majority, then we’re going to have to stand on some principles that the American people believe in.”

Mitt Romney–who is already taking measurements to replace that new oval office rug–is already smelling the glove and embracing the “Republican” nominees.

Well, if all else fails, blame it on PUMAs. Afterall, O’Donnell has a vagina.

So, maybe I believe that Karl Rove could’ve had an epiphany last night that this is what you get when you make Faustian bargains with devils to get your candidate in office. You can’t put the demons back into the Pandora’s box once you give them access to your party’s platform, a few offices, and the media as the electoral whips of your party.

We see this all the time with both political parties. Their establishment speaks what they want us to hear. To Democratic women: you’re uterus is safe with us. To the GLBT community who votes Democrat: We will back your civil rights issues and repeal DADT and DOMA! To the community of Immigrants and minorities: We will protect your civil liberties! To workers and unions: We’ll make sure that no one takes advantage of you! Then, they undercut those things under the stated purpose of compromise with themselves and each other and move forward to the next thing that pleases their donors.

I think this is the same thing. Establishment Republicans didn’t understand the bargain when they promised to make abortion illegal, homosexuality illegal, immigration legal and rare, remove affirmative action laws, support prayers in school and pass laws that support theocratic myth as science. They thought as long as it was an issue in Kansas, they could keep every one penned up in a manageable area. They never expected this to happen in Delaware and New Hampshire. But it has. This is what happens when you mislabel liberalism and conservatism. This is where saying and doing anything to get votes eventually leads. Every one gets angry and no one believes you any more. Now we get Progressives and Tea Partiers and who knows with what they actually identify.

This is what happens when you ignore your voters after you’ve made grandiose promises to them year after year after year. I don’t think it behooves Democrats to find any joy in this at all. It’s probably going to be their turn in November.

Or, as the great English poet, John Donne wrote: “Do not ask for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee.”


Obama Adminstration hides the Science

I’ve made a promise and vow here to keep everyone apprised of the Gulf Gusher situation (the relief well is still not done) and the ongoing obfuscation of what the scientists say in the region, the press here says, and what gets put out to the country. Two nationally known, mainstream advocacy groups are calling shenanigans today. This is on top of an earlier report by Nature.com this last week that reports that ongoing marine research vessels–from two separate public universities–are finding oil EVERY where in the gulf; including a new plume and a slime highway. Of course you know the meme heard round the world is that the oil has magically disappeared. Well, according to the scientists on the ground, that’s a truth bender too. Here’s two NEW ones.

We’re not seeing a respect for truth or science in the mainstream media and it appears to be part of a disinformation campaign coming from the White House. This worries me tremendously.

A law suit is being filed by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) charging the Obama administration with a cover up of the scientific assessments of the BP Oil Gusher. They assert that NOAA has been actively passing disinformation and suppressing scientific data under pressure from the White House.

This was taken from a letter from them to me dated today informing supporters of the suit.

According to the White House, one of the major Obama campaign pledges was to “restore scientific integrity in government decision making.” So far, that promise has not been working out so well.

The muddled federal response to the massive BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico illustrated a disturbing absence of scientific transparency and candor in agency decision-making. For example, the decision to apply oil dispersants deep underwater, despite the fact that these chemicals were designed for surface application, was called a “giant experiment.” But experiments need a baseline and, in this instance, the EPA lacked basic data on oil droplet size, information it needed to measure how effective the dispersant would be at breaking up the oil slicks. The long-term consequences of this seat-of-the-pants approval are not known.

Similarly, the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) refusal to release of scientific observations about the size and nature of underwater oil plumes is disquieting – as in the controversial “Oil Budget” which estimates that 75% of the BP spill has dissipated or been removed but NOAA has yet to publish the scientific methodology, let alone the actual studies, behind this conclusion.

Today, PEER filed a lawsuit charging the Obama administration with illegally hiding the memos and e-mails behind official scientific assessments of the size of the massive BP Gulf spill. The National Incident Command’s Flow Rate Technical Group was charged with developing an independent estimate of the amount of oil flowing from BP’s leaking oil well. Marcia McNutt, a top Interior Department official, chaired the Technical Group. McNutt issued a public statement that the “Best Estimate” range of flow rates was between 12,000 to 19,000 barrels per day (bpd) but she -

  • Omitted the fact that these were minimum estimates (deleting phrases such as “at least” and “range of lower bounds”) and did not mention completed estimates that were much higher. Significantly, the Technical Group was supposed to look at worst-case, catastrophic scenarios;
  • Withheld the actual technical report and instead released only a summary that she wrote; and
  • Directed that none of the Technical Group documents was subject to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and that group members should not disclose any materials.

Ultimately, the oil leak rate has been measured in the new well cap system to be 55,000 bpd, a daily flow rate that diminished over time, starting at about 62,000 bpd. These numbers were much higher than the previously released figures – a disparity that has not been explained.

Interior has not released the McNutt e-mails and the suppressed scientific studies – hence the suit. These materials will produce Exhibit A in the case that science is still being manipulated under the current administration.

Brown Pelicans Waiting For Clean Up

So, that’s the first one. The second one comes from National Wildlife Federation which is hardly the bastion of ecoterrorists. This has to do with the reporting of wildlife killed by the gusher. This is posted by Miles Grant on the NWF’s website and again, I was alerted to it by their newsletters and action memo today. The liar this time is the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

For the first time, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) has just released a catalog of bird species impacted by the Gulf oil disaster. The information is being released in the wake of a National Wildlife Federation Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request seeking the data.

Laughing gulls, brown pelicans & northern gannets are the species with the highest totals of dead birds. You can see today’s report (PDF) and see future updates at the FWS Deepwater Horizon Response.

It’s unclear at this point why the FWS report lists only 4,676 birds, while the latest Deepwater Horizon Response Consolidated Fish & Wildlife Report lists 8,009 birds.

FWS only released the data a little over an hour ago, so NWF scientists haven’t had time to conduct an in-depth review of the data yet. However, I just spoke with Dr. Doug Inkley, NWF’s senior scientist, who told me his first impression was that with dozens of species listed, it’s clear that a wide diversity of shorebirds were impacted by the Gulf oil disaster.

Is this an ongoing suppression of scientific data during a tough campaign season by an administration that doesn’t want to be associated with an ongoing under-response to a national/international catastrophe? Or are we seeing underreporting and science twisting to protect BP and its donations to political recipients? Is this just more of the old okey doke?

The public has a right to know that all levels of government, this government was, has been, and continues to be asleep at the wheel during the worst environmental disaster in the U.S. history. One that probably rivals Chernobyl if we could only see the science.

I suggest writing your lousy congress critterz and telling them we want to see the science and not the spin NOW!

Some time this week I will have a piece up for you that shows you just how badly the reparations are going down here per the local media from the $20 million dollar relief fund. This is an ongoing tragedy also.

Meanwhile, the right wing news service CNS reports that the White House Science Czar wants to use the free market to de-develop the United States. Let’s just give the real loons more anti-science ammunition, please!!! The STUPID, it HURTS!!!

UPDATE: It looks like CBS news has picked up on the PEER story.

More on the Slime Highway research which also contains graphic description of dead marine life here at Pensacola TV station WKRG.