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).


    Karl Rove “Goes There” On Katrina And The BP Spill

    May 27, 2010

    roveAs noted here…

    Today in the Wall Street Journal, Karl Rove pens an op-ed titled: “Yes, the Gulf Spill is Obama’s Katrina.” He predictably places blame on Obama for a “lethargic,” “slow,” and “unacceptable” response to the BP oil spill. But the real significance of the op-ed is not what Rove has to say about Obama; rather, it’s that Rove is implicitly acknowledging that Bush screwed up the response to Katrina. Rove is essentially trying to make the case that Obama mismanaged a disaster almost as terribly as he and Bush did.

    This is breaking news because, for years, despite all the evidence to the contrary, Rove has defended his administration’s disastrous response to Hurricane Katrina.

    And “Bush’s Brain” began his at-least-once-a-month-Obama-bashing screed today as follows…

    As President Obama prepares to return to the Gulf Coast Friday, he is receiving increasing criticism for his handling of the oil spill. For good reason: Since the Deepwater Horizon rig blew up on April 20, a lethargic Team Obama has delayed or blown off key decisions requested by state and local governments and left British Petroleum in charge of developing a plan to cap the massive leak.

    The “delayed or blown off key decisions” is a typical Repug smear, of course. And I think it’s more than a little perverse that the people who now criticize Obama for letting BP take the lead on this before the company finally owed up to the fact that they didn’t know what they were doing would probably be the first to complain that Number 44 is staging some kind of a “big gumint” takeover of the oil biz if the situation weren’t so catastrophic.

    And as far as the part about “state and local governments,” I think the following should be kept in mind from here (concerning Louisiana’s governor “Kenneth The Page”)…

    For their part, White House officials are puzzled by Jindal’s increasing criticism of their efforts. The governor and his staff have been in nearly constant contact with Obama’s team since the first days of the spill, and those interactions have been cordial and businesslike, with little of the sharp rhetoric of his most recent public statements, administration officials maintain.

    “Everything he’s asked for, he’s gotten, except for the sand idea, which has some real possible problems,” said one official familiar with the situation.

    On Monday, Jindal met with administration officials, emerging to tell reporters he was frustrated with federal efforts to place containment booms around endangered coastal wetlands before the brown tide of oil seeps into fragile marshland.

    Jindal said the administration had deployed 815,569 feet of hard containment boom, but claimed the Coast Guard and the Department of Homeland Security have yet to act on a request for 5 million additional feet of hard boom that he made on May 2, less than two weeks after the spill started.

    “It is clear that the resources needed to protect our coast are not here,” he said. “Boom, skimmers, vacuums and jack-up barges are all in short supply. Every day oil sits and waits for clean up, more of our marsh dies.”

    Allen, who is coordinating the federal response, told reporters Monday that he will consider the request once the demands of a multistate “contingency plan” for the spill are met.

    Democratic critics aren’t the only ones put off by Jindal. Some Republicans favor the more laidback approach of Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, a former Republican National Committee chairman, who has stood up for the oil industry and suggested that liberal environmentalists are exploiting the catastrophe to curtail deep sea drilling.

    “Haley has actually taken the smarter approach, from a national perspective,” said a GOP operative close to both politicians. “Haley doesn’t have oil on his beaches. … But he has taken the long view, that this shouldn’t kill an important source of energy. Bobby has been a little frantic, running around, much more concerned about how he’ll look on tonight’s TV news.”

    “Liberal environmentalists trying to curtail deep sea drilling” – I’ll laugh over that absurdity if any species of ocean life ends up living in the Gulf after this tragedy is over, assuming it ever is.

    As Think Progress tells us above, though, the real takeaway here is Turd Blossom’s admission that he and his boss screwed up on Katrina after years of typical denials.

    Though, as recently as last March, he said the following (here, to sell his book of course)…

    Rove insisted, as the White House did at the time, that it wasn’t clear how desperate the situation was. He blamed local and state officials in Louisiana for the failure to communicate and said the federal government lacked “real-time information” on what was going on in New Orleans. Critics have said all he had to do was turn on the television to see how desperate the situation was.

    “The media did not have real-time information. The media led people to believe there were snipers,” Rove said, which kept rescuers out of some neighborhoods. “You didn’t know about the suffering at the convention center until the government did. But the government should have known about it earlier. That’s one of the big reforms to come out of Katrina.”

    So it was the fault of the media and “local and state officials” during Katrina. Who of course are utterly blameless now, as opposed to Obama (and I thought this was interesting on the supposed “snipers” in New Orleans after Katrina hit; also, here is a pretty comprehensive post on all the ways that the prior ruling cabal of which Rove was a charter member did all it could to exacerbate Katrina’s impact).

    If any heads are going to roll on Team Obama, I would say that Ken Salazar’s should be on the proverbial chopping block, though the first person to go has done so, as noted here (not sure what Elizabeth Birnbaum or any other human being could have done to undo the mess of the Minerals Management Service in less than a year, but there you are).

    Rove has always been one of the all-time greats, I hate to admit, when it comes to peddling just enough dookey in a public forum that seems believable to the easily led but repellant enough to not quite enough people to do anything about it. However, there are limits to all human faculties, particularly the sense of smell, and on this occasion, he has vigorously cleared that threshold.

    Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go buy a case of Glade so I can fumigate my workspace.


    What Led Up To “Spill, Baby, Spill”

    May 2, 2010

    Hat tip to Down With Tyranny! for the Mark Fiore clip – more here…


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