Some Oily PR For A “Very Modest” Spill

July 1, 2010

Rachel Maddow tells us about BP’s efforts to put a “smiley face” on the worst ecological disaster this country has yet seen.

Update: And I put this in the same category as those ridiculous full page ads in the New York Times telling us how wonderful they supposedly are.

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Monday Mashup Part One (6/21/10)

June 21, 2010

(Once again, no posting tomorrow and probably Wednesday also – TBD for the rest of the week.)

  • 1) Oh noes! Clownhall.com is telling us that gas prices are going up under our Kenyan Muslim pre-zee-dint who won’t show us his Hawaiian birth certificate (here)…

    Motorists heading out for the long July 4th weekend will find that filling up the family car is getting more costly.

    Retail prices for gasoline have climbed over the past week and are headed back toward a national average of $2.80 to $2.90 per gallon with higher prices on the West Coast, said Tom Kloza of the Oil Price Information Service.

    This tells us that, in April 2008, the average price for a gallon of gas was $3.35 under Former President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History (it was about $1.66 a gallon when he took over). And every time Number 43 made noises about attacking Iran or threatening Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, that country’s “president,” the price went up (not saying the puppet for the Mullahs didn’t deserve it then as now, though).

    The price of gas always goes up in the spring and summer (especially now with the crisis in the Gulf of Mexico) and, if we’re lucky, it comes down in the fall and close to winter. It has more to do with the driving habits of the people in this country more than anything else, though as noted above, other “actors” can affect the price also to some degree.

  • 2) Not to be outdone, though, someone named Kevin McCullough at Fix Noise tells us here that Obama should resign over the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe; according to McCullough, Obama was supposedly approached by BP for help on February 13 and the company was rebuffed (this starts off a really umbrage-filled rant by McCullough aimed at Obama – “how can you sleep at night,” did you inform the families of the victims of the rig’s destruction of your negligence when you posed with them for a photo-op, blah blah blah).Well, when you read the Bloomberg story linked to McCullough’s rant, what you find is this…

    On Feb. 13, BP told the (Minerals Management Service) it was trying to seal cracks in the well about 40 miles (64 kilometers) off the Louisiana coast, drilling documents obtained by Bloomberg show. Investigators are still trying to determine whether the fissures played a role in the disaster.

    The company attempted a “cement squeeze,” which involves pumping cement to seal the fissures, according to a well activity report. Over the following week the company made repeated attempts to plug cracks that were draining expensive drilling fluid, known as “mud,” into the surrounding rocks.

    BP used three different substances to plug the holes before succeeding, the documents show.

    “Most of the time you do a squeeze and then let it dry and you’re done,” said John Wang, an assistant professor of petroleum and natural gas engineering at Penn State in University Park, Pennsylvania. “It dries within a few hours.”

    Repeated squeeze attempts are unusual and may indicate rig workers are using the wrong kind of cement, Wang said.

    So how is it Obama’s fault if BP was using the wrong material to try and seal the fissures?

    Continuing…

    BP Chief Executive Officer Tony Hayward and other top executives were ignorant of the difficulties the company’s engineers were grappling with in the well before the explosion, U.S. Representative Henry Waxman, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said today during a hearing in Washington.

    “We could find no evidence that you paid any attention to the tremendous risk BP was taking,” Waxman said as Hayward waited to testify. “There is not a single e-mail or document that you paid the slightest attention to the dangers at this well.”

    BP Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles and exploration chief Andy Inglis “were apparently oblivious to what was happening,” said Waxman, a California Democrat. “BP’s corporate complacency is astonishing.”

    In early March, BP told the minerals agency the company was having trouble maintaining control of surging natural gas, according to e-mails released May 30 by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which is investigating the spill.

    And have to admit that I dismissed at first the story about film director James Cameron offering to help with fixing the mess, until I did more reading and learned about Cameron’s extensive experience filming at the depths similar to that of the leaking pipe; you think his expertise would have come in handy here? And I had a similar reaction to the stuff involving Kevin Costner and his supposed oil/water separation device.

    The Obama Administration is guilty of trusting BP to know what they were doing in this mess, though, as I’ve said before, if they’d taken over earlier, I’d bet McCullough and his pals would have been one of the first to complain that that Number 44 is trying to “nationalize” the oil company the same way he allegedly did to the car companies and the crooks on Wall Street (and the only mention of Obama in the Bloomberg story has to do with the $20 billion fund BP set up for the victims of the oil flood).

  • 3) Finally, to complete this little “threesome” of stories pertaining to “Obama and the oil,” Roger Wicker of Mississippi gave the response to Obama’s Weekly Address on Saturday (here), stating as follows…

    “(Obama) was slow in listening to state and local leaders, slow in getting skimmers to the Gulf, slow in understanding the seriousness of this crisis, and slow in taking ownership and responsibility for the recovery. Many of his actions have actually taken us in the wrong direction.”

    Since Wicker doesn’t get into specifics about how Obama was supposedly “slow in listening to state and local leaders,” I’m not going to do his work for him by responding. However, on the subject of getting skimmers to the Gulf, this story from June 4th tells us the following…

    MISSISSIPPI — Dozens more private boats were deployed Friday to search for and skim oil, and many more were on standby as their crews awaited hazardous-materials training.

    The new boats bring to 158 the number primarily working the Mississippi coast, according to U.S. Coast Guard officials. There are another 220 in Alabama and 112 in Florida.

    And this story from last Thursday says “A decision is expected shortly on whether as many as 55 additional skimmers can be sent” to the Gulf (the Coast Guard reports that they’re reluctant to send more skimmers since it might risk leaving other waterways vulnerable to oil spills also). Also, this tells us that oil seeped past skimmers in the Pensacola inland waterway; the county deployed booms to protect 17 separate individual inlets from bayous and coves where the seagrass is especially sensitive. But (resident Dorothy) King noted mournfully that “they said a month ago our seas were too rough for the boom.”

    Oh, and for Wicker’s information, this New York Times story tells us that Mississippi governor Haley Barbour said that Obama “did more things right than wrong” on the spill.

    You could go back and forth on whether or not the Obama Administration should temporarily waive the Jones Act, which Repug Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison argues here (apparently, Dubya did that when Katrina hit – as noted here, the Act protects our martime interests, but critics argue that the Act makes the U.S. less competitive in the global shipping industry, but the counter argument is that “U.S.-citizen mariner pool needed for the Department of Defense in times of national emergency or war would simply disappear”). Perhaps waiving it for now would make it easier to put in place skimmers of other countries who have offered to help.

    But I shudder to think what would have happened by now if it had been up to Sarah Palin and John McCain to try and fix this mess (maybe they would have taken this idea seriously, for example).

  • Update 7/9/10: Gee, I wonder if Wicker will ever acknowledge that the Obama administration accepted 68 offers of help from other countries (here)? Do you even need to ask (and I never gave much of a thought to Mark Haines, but he did some good work here).


    Money As Dirty As The Goop In The Gulf

    June 20, 2010

    As I look at the pics of the wildlife covered with sludge, the phrase “you get what you pay for” comes to mind.


    Friday Mashup Part One (6/18/10)

    June 18, 2010

    (Note: There may not be much posting for most of next week, maybe towards Thursday and Friday a bit, and definitely no posting on Tuesday.)

  • 1) I couldn’t get through the week without encountering the latest anti-Obama nonsense from former Laura Bush employee Andrew Malcolm here…

    America’s favorability rating in Egypt has dropped from 27% to 17% — the lowest figure recorded there in five years. In Turkey, a NATO ally, confidence in Obama has fallen from 33% to 23%. Opposition to key aspects of U.S. foreign policy remains pervasive and many Muslim publics continue to view the U.S as a military threat.

    Never mind that, despite the Malcolm headline that “Obama’s ‘hopey, changey’ fading abroad now too” (sic), the “Top of the Ticket” hack tells us that “confidence in Obama remains high in European countries.”

    Citing the same Pew study, the New York Times tells us the following (here)…

    According to a survey of nearly 25,000 people in 22 countries published Thursday by the Pew Research Center, the popularity of the United States has risen most notably over the past year among respondents in Russia and China. Both countries are permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and are essential to American efforts to rein in Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

    Positive attitudes toward Mr. Obama himself remain overwhelmingly strong among America’s West European allies, according to the survey, with 90 percent of Germans, 87 percent of French and 84 percent of Britons expressing confidence in Mr. Obama to do the right thing in world affairs, compared with 65 percent of Americans surveyed.

    Among the more surprising results of the survey was the substantial improvement in Russian attitudes toward the United States. Of those surveyed, 57 percent said they had a favorable view of the United States, an increase of 13 percentage points over the previous year. Among Russians who say their country has an enemy, more than one-third, 35 percent, name the United States as its biggest enemy.

    Oh, and here is another Malcolm moment, guffawing over Chris Dodd quite rightly laying at least partial blame for the Deepwater Horizon disaster at the feet of the husband of Malcolm’s former employer (the rig wasn’t built when Obama occupied the White House, you shill).

  • 2) And not to be outdone, “Z on TV” himself, David Zurawik, pointed out here that the audience for Obama’s Oval Office address to the country about the Gulf disaster “dip(ped)” to 32 million viewers.

    That’s still pretty good when you consider that, as noted here, 37.8 million people watched his swearing-in and inaugural address last year (compared to less than half that for Dubya when he was sworn in in 2005 – what a shame so many people missed out on hearing 43’s pax-Americana flowery fairy tales concocted first and foremost by Bushie acolyte Michael Gerson).

  • 3) That actually is a nice transition to this, which is the WaPo columnist’s piece today on Indiana governor Mitch Daniels, who seems to be trying to interject some sanity into his party (good luck with that one)…

    If there were a WMD attack, death would come to straights and gays, pro-life and pro-choice,” (Daniels) told (Gerson). “If the country goes broke, it would ruin the American dream for everyone. We are in this together. Whatever our honest disagreements on other questions, might we set them aside long enough to do some very difficult things without which we will be a different, lesser country?”

    Now before we get all misty-eyed over Daniels, thinking he might be emerging from “the dark side,” let it be known that, were he to occupy An Oval Office as the commander-in-chief, he would bring back the awful “Mexico City Policy,” which banned the use of federal funds for family-planning groups that offered abortions abroad (which, let it be known, reduced the overall funding provided to particular NGOs, closing off their access to USAID-supplied condoms and other forms of contraception, as Wikipedia tells us here).

    Gerson also tells us the following…

    I was a colleague of Daniels when he was director of the Office of Management and Budget. It was his job to say “no” to splendid policy proposals, which he did with good-humored enthusiasm. Raining on parades was both a profession and a hobby.

    Well, Mitchy didn’t do such a hot job of “raining” on the Iraq war “parade” when it mattered; as noted here…

    In 2002, Daniels helped discredit a report by Assistant to the President on Economic Policy Lawrence B. Lindsey estimating the cost of the Iraq War at between $100-$200 billion. Daniels called this estimate “very, very high” and stated that the costs would be between $50-$60 billion.[9] As of 2007, the cost of the invasion and occupation of Iraq has exceeded $400 billion, and the Congressional Budget Office in August 2007 estimated that appropriations would eventually reach $1 trillion or more.[10]

    Oh, and one more thing about Daniels – no more lame apologies for supposed “baby boomer” wrongdoing, as he inflicted upon us here, OK?


  • A “Berm Notice” From “TRMS”

    June 17, 2010

    You want to hear about “junk science” for real? This is what Rachel Maddow said last night about constructing berms to fight the oil in the Gulf.

    Update: Oh, and by the way, the next time I read some wingnuttia about Obama’s supposed overseas “apology tour” to Iran and al Qaeda or whatever, I’ll just recall this, which is an example of Repugs apologizing to their true “base” for real (h/t Atrios).


    “Love And Kisses” From BP

    June 11, 2010

    Somehow I don’t think ’60s pop star Skeeter Davis had anything like the Gulf disaster in mind when she sang this song.

    Oh, how I’d like to see Tony Hayward stuck head first into a relief well (here and here are reasons).

    Update 6/12/10: And maybe I shouldn’t give Chicago fans credit since their team just beat us in the NHL finals, but kudos to them for protesting the “BP Crosstown Cup” here.


    Thursday Mashup Part One (6/10/10)

    June 10, 2010

  • 1) I haven’t said anything to this point about the retirement of Helen Thomas from the White House press corps because I think there are more important matters out there for us to learn about. Yes, it was wrong for her to say that Israel should get the hell out of Palestine and go back to Germany and Poland, or whatever, but she did apologize right away after she spoke. However, since she is not a conservative and has a history of speaking out against Israel, our corporate media demanded swift retribution.

    What made me turn my attention to this matter was this recent column from Cal Thomas (hardly a relation), in particular the following…

    Helen Thomas’ real sin — in addition to the obvious — is that she exposed Washington journalists as having strong personal opinions about the subjects they cover.

    And with that in mind, I give you the following from C. Thomas about a certain former first lady and Democratic presidential candidate (here)…

    In his July 10 nationally syndicated column, Cal Thomas discussed a July 7 New York Times article that reported that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) “said she believed in the resurrection of Jesus, though she described herself as less sure of the doctrine that being a Christian is the only way to salvation.” Thomas asserted: “This is a politician speaking, not a person who believes in the central tenets of Christianity.”

    Talk about your “strong personal opinions”…

    And besides, the whole dustup over Helen Thomas is the tempest in the proverbial teapot when you consider the following from here, namely that…

    On May 31st Israeli commandos killed at least nine unarmed volunteers attempting to take humanitarian supplies to Gaza.

    According to eyewitness reports and forensic evidence, many of these aid volunteers were shot at close range, including a 19-year-old American citizen killed by four bullets to the head and one to the chest fired from 18 inches away.

    Israel immediately imprisoned eyewitnesses and hundreds of other aid participants, confiscated their cameras, laptops, and other possessions, and prevented them from speaking to the press for days. Among the incarcerated were decorated U.S. veterans and an 80-year-old former ambassador who had been deputy director of Reagan’s Cabinet Task Force on Terrorism.

    When they finally emerged and were able to tell their stories, many described horrific scenes of Israeli commandos shooting people in the head, of those tending the injured being shot in the stomach, of people bleeding to death while flotilla participants waved white flags and pled for help.

    They also described being beaten brutally by Israeli forces, again and again – including those on ships that, in the U.S. media’s judgment, experienced “no violence.” A 64-year-old piano tuner from California, Paul Larudee, described hundreds of Israeli commandos boarding his ship. When he refused to cooperate with them, soldiers then beat him numerous times both on board the ship and after he was imprisoned on land.

    And given all of this, the only thing a pompous windbag like Cal Thomas can find to complain about is a moment of frustration (carried to excess, I’ll admit) by a member of the profession to which he allegedly belongs as well.

  • 2) Also, this tells us that John C. Metzler, Jr., superintendent of Arlington National Cemetery, has been fired along with his deputy, Thurman Higginbotham, by Army Secretary John McHugh (as Fix Noise tells us, Higginbotham had reportedly illegally hacked into the computer files of a former Arlington employee).

    The matter truly at issue here, however, has to do with at least one service member’s remains buried on top of another at Arlington, as noted here by Salon from last November…

    The top official at Arlington National Cemetery claims he was unaware of the most recently reported burial error at the cemetery, possibly, he says, because he was away at the time it occurred. Cemetery employee records, however, show Superintendent John Metzler present and working at Arlington when the cemetery discovered this most recently disclosed burial foul-up…

    Arlington officials also continue to struggle to locate key paperwork that must be completed when remains are moved. The paperwork would confirm that Air Force Master Sgt. Marion Grabe’s remains were moved and explain the circumstances surrounding that decision. The Army, which oversees Arlington, has been unable to locate any such documents.

    The still-missing burial paperwork adds to the mounting evidence suggesting that top Arlington officials may have disregarded cemetery rules in this case. The explanation from Metzler, meanwhile, raises serious questions about the conduct of top cemetery officials with respect to repeated burial mix-ups at Arlington. Cemetery officials have already established a pattern of incomplete, inconsistent or contradictory responses when asked by Salon to account for misplaced or misidentified remains at the cemetery.

    …over the course of many months, as Salon has investigated problems at Arlington, statements from cemetery officials have been wildly inconsistent and contradictory about this and other burial mix-ups. Some of the statements, most issued via cemetery or Army spokesmen, have appeared in previous Salon articles, but this full pattern has not been assembled until now.

    Among Salon’s earliest queries on the subject was this one, sent in writing to cemetery spokeswoman Kaitlin Horst last July 10: “Is (Deputy Superintendent Thurman) Higginbotham or (Superintendent John) Metzler aware of any information that suggests that in some cases, the person identified on a headstone may not, in fact, be the person buried underneath that headstone?” Salon asked. “For example, has the cemetery ever begun digging a grave, only to find that there is already someone there, though the grave is unmarked?”

    Horst responded via telephone some days later. “The answer to that is no,” she said. “To the best of our knowledge, we are not aware of any situation like that.”

    Ten days after submitting that question, Salon obtained proof that in 2003, the cemetery went to bury a service member in a grave only to find unmarked remains in that spot. The response from the cemetery was to cover up the unknown remains with dirt and grass and walk away. Cemetery officials then kept that secret for six years until Salon brought the case to the cemetery’s attention.

    There are no words that I can add that would truly communicate what an affront all of this is to the dignity of our men and women in the armed services. And I don’t mean to allege purposeful negligence here so much as I’m alleging managerial incompetence.

    Let’s just say that the terminations of Metzler (an appointee of Poppy Bush, for the record) and Higginbotham were both long overdue.

  • Update 6/11/10: Hat tip to Atrios for this (shame indeed)…

  • 3) Finally, I give you The Orange One, who said the following from here about the Congressional hearings into the devastation in the Gulf…

    “This is Congress at its best,” said (House Minority Leader John) Boehner at the beginning of a rant on the scores of House and Senate hearings on the oil spill.

    “Why don’t we get the oil stopped, figure out what the hell went wrong, and then have the hearings and get the damn law fixed,” Boehner said at his weekly press conference.

    Yep, as noted here, Boehner and his pals know a lot about trying to mess up congressional hearings, as they did last March 25th on the occasion of the energy bill sponsored by Dem Rep. Edward Markey of Massachusetts; a whole parade of global warming denialists held court while Congress continued (and continues) to struggle with passing legislation aimed at reversing the effects of climate change, which hastens the warming of the planet and the consequent spreading of sickness and disease among the very young, very old, and everyone else.

    Oh, and did you also know that, according to this, Boehner thinks that taxpayers should foot the bill for the BP cleanup in the Gulf?

    Maybe Boehner won’t think hearings into the Deepwater Horizon explosion and wreck and the subsequent cleanup are such a joke if gooey tar balls from oil and dispersant start washing up onto the shores of the Ohio River.


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