Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Is BP allowing the leak to continue to protect profits?

What do former President Bill Clinton and Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Georgia) have in common?

Both Clinton and Gingrey are now on record as suggesting that the navy should take over the operation from BP and blow up the well.

The basic idea seems to be that they could drill one or more shafts parallel to the well shaft and about ten feet away and then fill them with high explosive which when detonated would collapse the actual well shaft inward, sealing itself. These parallel shafts would be only about ten feet deep (in contrast to the 10,000 feet that the relief well is being drilled into the rock as we speak.)

I HOPE the reason this was not done is because whatever Clinton and Gingrey may have said, there are technical problems that make it as daunting or as risky as the methods that have been tried (which is possible, because politicians sometimes have been known to make suggestions about things they really don't understand very well.)

However, a disturbing couple of lines pops up if you read today's article (the one on Clinton endorsing the plan.)

There has been some pressure for BP to simply blow up the well, with critics suggesting the company is forgoing that option out of a desire to get as much oil as possible from the rig.

"If we demolish the well using explosives, the investment's gone," former nuclear submarine officer and a visiting scholar on nuclear policy at Columbia University Christopher Brownfield said in a Fox News interview in May. "They lose hundreds of millions of dollars from the drilling of the well, plus no lawmaker in his right mind would allow BP to drill again in that same spot. So basically, it's an all-or-nothing thing with BP: They either keep the well alive, or they lose their whole investment and all the oil that they could potentially get from that well."

IF that is the reason why this has not been done but in fact explosives could have sealed this well much earlier then we should all be disturbed. Disturbed and outraged. I've assumed that the reason BP hasn't yet stopped the leak is because they tried and failed. But if they could have stopped it and instead failed to do so intentionally purely for the purpose of protecting their 'investment' (at whatever cost to those onshore) then that decision would qualify as a crime and they should be made to pay for it.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Right wing waits until the decision has been made to decide which side they are on.

Before President Obama tipped his hand about whether he would retain or fire General McChrystal over comments he and staff working for him made in a Rolling Stones article, very few pundits or media on the right tipped theirs either. Among those who did, there was no clear consensus, and there were plenty of articles that said Obama should fire McChrystal (such as this editorial by conservative icon William Kristol which not only advises Obama to fire McChrystal, but that he should call on David Petraeus to replace him.) I doubt if Kristol will write a follow up editorial praising Obama for doing exactly the way he suggested though.

It is true that the most offensive remarks disparaging both the commander-in-chief and the Vice President) were made by McChrystal's staff, not McChrystal. But a commander is responsible for the attention to duty and following the law of all those under their command. McChrystal understands that.

At least Kristol was willing to say what he thought. Not so many other pundits on the right, including not only a lot of conservative journalists but the mavens of talk radio. Of course the decision was made before most of them were on the air today, but it was amazing how in unison they suddenly all sounded off immediately after the decision was made. It was as if keeping McChrystal was the obvious choice all along and their stated bewilderment at Obama for firing him was chalked up to everything from ego to a secret desire on Obama's part that America lose in Afghanistan to help foment discontent at home.

Now, you can be sure that if the decision had come down to retain McChrystal, then all of the very same right wing reporters, bloggers and talk show hosts would have said that was a terrible decision and showed that Obama was weak and indecisive. They would have still brought up the charge that Obama had an agenda to not win in Afghanistan, just in that case it would have been 'by making sure the soldiers see him as an ineffective C-in-C.'

If you listened to anyone's monologue bashing this decision then you can imagine how they would have sounded bashing the opposite decision.

Because they had that speech already written as well.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Jan Brewer's phony outrage

The local news is full of Jan Brewer's faux outrage at the Obama administration for daring to challenge the new immigration law, especially the part about Hillary Clinton apparently first spilling the beans during a trip to Ecuador.

This may play well with the Republican base that Brewer is trying to hang onto as she heads into a competitive primary contest but hardly anyone who knows politics is fooled by this. As evidence, just last week Brewer got into a fight with Terry Goddard, who would have to defend the law in his capacity as Attorney General over precisely this matter. So for her to now claim that she is surprised is the height of hypocrisy. Goddard for his part (and keeping in mind that if Brewer survives her primary she would be running against Goddard in the fall) did voluntarily step aside today (giving Brewer what she demanded from him last week) and wisely isn't going to be defending this law.

The immigration bill was certain to be challenged in court from the moment it was signed, not only because it places the state in the position of the Federal Government, but also because one can seriously question the constitutionality of requiring that all citizens (because it is not only non-citizens who will be questioned) carry identification with them in order to avoid possibly being detained as a 'suspected undocumented' immigrant. This seems contrary to the fourth amendment protection against unreasonable searches.

True that if you are driving a vehicle you need a drivers license with you but that is only while you are driving. If you are not driving a vehicle (such as if you are walking down the street, standing on the corner or only a passenger in a vehicle) there is no current requirement for I.D. but the Arizona law in fact if not in letter does now require I.D. (certainly for anyone-- read that Hispanics or people who may be mistaken for Hispanics such as American Indians-- who may be 'suspected' of being an undocumented immigrant.)

Brewer knew very well that this law would certainly be challenged in court, and virtually certainly by the Justice Department, so her expressions of shock are purely contrived. As to the matter of Secretary Clinton first disclosing this in Ecuador, it may have been a slip of the tongue, or it may have been intentional. Either way, official notification will follow when the Justice Department is ready to file their suit. Likely as not they are carefully wording their official court briefs in order to comply with all necessary legal requirements, whereas the Secretary of State, as she is not the one who will be filing the suit, is under no obligation to wait for them to file the official suit.

If she wanted to avoid a lawsuit there was an easy way to do that-- veto the law last month. But Governor Brewer made it clear which side she is on. Fine, but then don't turn around and claim to be shocked and surprised when the inevitable consequences roll around.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Prescott mural blow-up just the latest in string of racist embarrassments for Arizona

A month ago Arizona and the nation were in a furor about SB 1070, the new immigration bill which is written in a way that pretty much forces the police to question anyone Hispanic because of section 2, paragraph H which gives any local bigot the right to sue them in a court of law if they are not enforcing the law to the satisfaction of said local bigot.

So is our image getting better in the past month? Well, no.

The latest controversy involves a mural that was painted by a group of local artists known as the 'mural mice' under the direction of artist R.E. Wall at a school in Prescott. The kids in the mural were based on actual photos of kids in the school, and depicted two white kids, a black kid and the largest picture, in the center of the mural was of an Hispanic youngster. After the mural was completed, school principal Jeff Lane apparently caved to local pressure exerted by a local talk show host and city council President Steve Blair and ordered Wall to whiten the skin tone of the both the African-American kid and the Hispanic kid in the middle of the mural.

Subsequently it came out that even as the artists were painting the mural they were peppered with racial insults including the 'n' word and 's' word from passing motorists. Welcome to Arizona, 2010.

What's worse is that these stories are now coming out of Arizona with depressing regularity. There has been a new one every week it seems, courtesy mainly of our elected leaders, who apparently have figured out that by turning two thirds of the population against the other third they have a way to win an election.

Not long after signing the immigration bill, Governor Brewer also signed a bill abolishing ethnic studies programs in Arizona (that was originally written to kill Hispanic studies programs in Tucson but it will also impact the Native American studies programs at some of our northern Arizona colleges.)

Not to be outdone, School Superintendent Tom Horne (who is running for A.G.) ordered that state schools either fire or reassign any English teacher who has a foreign accent. There is no count yet on how many teachers have lost their jobs because of Horne's new rule, though in order to be teaching in an Arizona public school they already must prove they are legally authorized to work so there is no way that Horne's pronouncement can be couched as having anything to do with undocumented workers. It's that he's picking on even legal immigrants, plain and simple.

Not long after that there was the murder of Juan Daniel Varela, an hispanic man from Phoenix whose white neighbor came over to his house and shouted racial insults in Varela's face until Varela had had enough and allegedly tried to kick the man. The neighbor, Gary Thomas Kelley, was waiting for that moment and pulled out a 44 magnum and shot the unarmed Varela to death at close range. Kelley is claiming he fired in 'self-defense.'

On top of all of this, as I wrote exactly one month ago, Sheriff Arpaio is openly consorting and on a first name basis with neo-nazis. Well, what can you say about Joe? He says it's an 'honor' to be compared to the KKK and still gets re-elected. So what if he is on a first name basis with blackshirts who openly threaten Mexicans, Jews and other people and give Hitler salutes at rallies? In the words of M.C. Hammer, I think Arpaio believes that he's so electorally invincible that he can do anything and anyone who doesn't like it 'can't touch this.'

Are we TRYING to win the 'most bigoted state in the nation' award? It sure does feel like it.

UPDATE: 1) After taking heat on this the school board rehired the artist back to restore the mural to its original state, and 2) the Republican corporations commissioners have gotten into the act. Commissioner Steve Pierce suggested that because of boycotts, Arizona cut off the flow of electricity to California (apparently unaware that California legally already owns that part of the electricity they are paying for, and also that we get most of our natural gas from CA) and then commissioner Barry Wong said he plans to prevent the provision of utilities to undocumented aliens. Never mind that this would require landlords to not only turn away some of their most reliable customers, but would impose a great deal of extra paperwork on landlords; I guess the GOP is only for 'small, non-intrusive government' when it comes to things THEY want
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