Gusher Clean-up Too Slow

I don’t think the Obama Administration has been dragging its feet in plugging up the gusher, but they get a mixed report from me on their handling of the cleanup.

Admittedly, the decision to leave British Petroleum in charge of the leak appears to have been wise. No one else really has any idea how to plug it up, and no one else has the equipment to do it. The clean-up is a separate story.

As Rachel Maddow pointed out recently, there have been no advances in oil well capping and spill clean-up technology in 30 years, and we knew 30 years ago that the technology we had did not work. We were going into this mess with gusher busting tactics that have proven to fail and clean up methodologies that may cause more of a mess than they clean up.

What is the wisdom, for example, of allowing them to use dioxin to disburse the oil? Less oil and more carcinogens does not seem to me to be a good environmental trade off. There are mechanical means of keeping the oil off the land although its easier said than done. There are biological tools for eliminating the oil once it makes landfall. The drawback to the bugs is that they retain the heavy metals and return them to the food chain… like we didn’t already have enough inedible seafood. Still it’s better than dioxin, a toxin, which would not necessarily eliminate oil from the beaches at all.

There has been a lot of coverage of exotic ways to clean up the mess. There is the Kevin Costner machine that can separate oil from seawater. Apparently this is being tested and Costner’s company says they can have more than 20 machines deployed and cleaning more than 2 million gallons of water a day. There is the guy from Florida who says a little straw or hay will clean a lot of oil out of the water. Apparently some hay is being used, but not in great quantities.

The former President of Shell Oil suggested bringing in a fleet of oil tankers to vacuum up the oil from the ocean floor. This guy says it has been done successfully at least once. BP has one of its own tankers on site sucking up oil. Why not more?

I recognize that the government cannot make miracles, but it’s hard to be patient when I see obvious solutions laying around not being used. The tanker solution seems real obvious to me, and BP has a fleet of them on hand on the gulf. If the government is really in charge can’t they order them to strap on a few hoses and start sucking? Can the government rent a few tankers, deploy them and send the bill to BP? (Do other oil companies have an opportunity to scarf up some free oil here? IS BP trying to save all the oil for its own purposes? Does the oil sucked up belong to whom ever does the sucking? Is this an issue?)

And why test Costner’s machines? If they don’t work, can they make the mess any worse? Why doesn’t the government order their deployment?

So much to do, so little time. Someone needs to be thinking fast and thinking outside the box.

Roeder the Tiller Killer

It is ironic, isn’t it, Alanis, that Scott Roeder, the crazy redneck who one year ago this week murdered Dr. George Tiller at a church, likely egged on by the rhyming urges of one Bill Orally, was sentenced to life without parole for 50 years and not to an appointment with a firing squad?

And that he was sentenced on April 1, no less?

Don’t get me wrong. Unlike most “pro-life” goons, I abhor the death penalty. In ALL circumstances. Even for such a misguided monster like Roeder. He got the right sentence. Let him sit in a cell for the rest of his life working his ass off at justifying to himself what he did.

Anyway. I wanted to note the anniversary. It’s horrifying that a guy can be gunned down WHILE USHERING AT HIS OWN CHURCH for conducting a legal medical procedure.

And just so it’s noted that Senate Majority Leader Hairy Reed isn’t altogether useless, he said this today on the Senate floor:

“A community in Kansas still shakes one year after the brazen murder of one of its own. This weekend will mark the first anniversary of Dr. George Tiller’s death. He was gunned down in front of his Wichita church the day before last Memorial Day.

“Dr. Tiller was killed at point-blank range, at his place of worship, in the middle of a Sunday morning, while his wife sang in the church choir just yards away.

“He was murdered by an unrepentant assassin who took a life in the name of protecting life. It was an indefensible crime and an incomprehensible excuse.

“Just as despicable as Dr. Tiller’s death was the fact that his murder wasn’t an isolated incident. It wasn’t even the first time someone tried to kill him. His clinic was bombed in 1985. He was shot twice in 1993. And over the next 16 years, seven clinic workers would be killed before Dr. Tiller would become the eighth. More than 6,000 other acts of violence have been launched at clinics and their workers – bombings, arsons, assaults and other attacks.

“The last doctor killed before Dr. Tiller was a husband and father from Buffalo named Barnett Slepian. He was an OB/GYN who also helped poor women access safe, legal abortions. Because of that, he was murdered in his home. I didn’t know Dr. Selpian, but I knew his niece. She came from Reno, Nevada, and she once worked in my office.

“The tragedy of Dr. Tiller’s death, and of Dr. Slepian’s death – and of every atrocity like it – is independent of the issue of abortion. It’s not about the legality of abortion or funding of abortion. These are emotional debates, and ones on which people of good faith can disagree.

“What so shook that Kansas town was rather an act of terrorism. What reverberated out to our borders and coasts from the center of our country was the violation of our founding principle: that we are a nation of laws, not of men.

“Everyone in America has the right to disagree with its laws. Everyone has the right to dispute and protest its laws. But no American has the right to disobey them.

“Not all of us would choose Dr. Tiller’s profession. Not all of us would seek his services or agree with his philosophy. But it is the responsibility of every American to respect another’s right to practice his profession legally.

“Those who believe in the sanctity of life cannot be selective. We must value every life – not just those with which we agree.”

NARAL has established a Web form where you can go write him a little thank you note. And, I’m sure that somewhere in the process they ask you for some munny. Might not be a bad time to consider a donation, eh? Here ya go.

You Read It Here First

As the Republican Party works itself into a lather over the Obama administration’s offer of a job to Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Penn) in exchange for him not entering the Pennsylvania Senate primary, seasoned political observers, historians, and lawyers are responding with veritable yawns.

American presidential history is littered with quid pro quos, implicit and explicit secret job offers, and backroom deals, so much so that the Sestak offer may be more the norm than the exception to it.

See the full Sam Stein column at The Huffington Post.

She Said 'Bushism'

There for a minute, I thought Helen Thomas told the President of these Untied States not to give her any bullshit. Thank goodness the New York Times liveblogged the press conference.

From Jeff Zeleny: President Obama – perhaps looking to change the subject? – called on Helen Thomas, the longest-serving member of the White House press corps. He hasn’t called on her since his first press conference more than a year ago, but turned to her today, after several questions about the oil spill.

The topic? Afghanistan.

Before he answered, she warned him: “Don’t give us this Bushism” that the terrorists will come to the United States if we don’t fight them in Afghanistan.

The president delivered a standard answer, saying the U.S. military was making progress in its mission, but he acknowledged that major challenges loomed.

Anotherwerds, she got the Bushism she warned him not to give her.

I’m always a bit surprised by progressive folks who bristle at Mr. Obama. He campaigned on an Afghan war. I suspect myself that he did so because, politically, he had to; because the worst thing you can be in this world if you want to win in politics for some reason is a liberal peacenik. The point being, that Obama never said he was going to end our role in war. He said he’d end the stupid one in Iraq, but only to build up the stupid one in Afghanistan. That is what he said he’d do.

Not that Helen Thomas is wrong to accost the President on this. The war is still stupid, and Obama’s boilerplate answer is not helpful. “Fighting them over there so we don’t have to fight them here” sounds just as stupid coming out of his mouth as it did from his predecessor’s. Believe me, UBL has glazed his cave ceiling thousands of times by now regarding our presence in Afghanistan; it is his wet dream come true.

Anyways. Back to point #1: Barack Obama ain’t a liberal, kids. He never was. He’s not ending the war; he’s not sticking his neck out for true universal health care; he’s meandering toward ending DADT. Part of political activism is accepting that party politics may not always move for you as quickly or as effectively as, say, movement politics might. Abbie Hoffman never ran for office. Hell, Abbie formed his own party.

For certain, though, is that we’re better off than we’d have been with a President McWeirdsmile and his vapid sidekick. Then we’d likely be balls deep in Iraq instead of getting out and we’d have marched to Tehran by now.

By the way, my father’s excellent research in sunny Kansas (“Nothing new under the sun”) got a nice mention on an excellent blog that is apparently named after a neatly stocked Scrabble rack. Thanks!

Sestak's Deal With Obama: BFD

One of the more bullshit stories that has come out of the recent election is the “What did Obama offer Sestak?” saga.

The claim is that President Obama offered Rep. Sestak something real important if he would get out of the Pennsylvania senate race and leave the path open to Democrat turned Republican turned Democrat Arlen Specter. So maybe they offered him a Kingdom in South Jersey? That’s what the English kings used to do to Scottish Lairds who rebelled against the Crown. Make them Lords. Give them a title and an estate. Who knows?

We know what Obama promised Specter if he would switch parties and solidify the Democratic majority in the Senate. Be certain the President promised undying loyalty and support in the senatorial campaign. That probably did include some effort to get Sestak, a freshman Congressman, but not a dumb one, to stand down. Whatever Obama offered it was enough to convince Specter that the President was serious. Maybe Secretary of the Navy? Maybe a cabinet post?

Who cares? It is in the scope of Presidential powers to make appointments as he will (advise and consent aside). Sestak is a highly qualified public servant, 31years in the Navy, a retired admiral. He would be good at most stuff the President could appoint him to. Nothing wroing with trying.

If they are trying to make the case that it is big news that a politician gets offered a sweet deal to go away and leave the field to someone else, that’s nuts. The Kings of Engliand have done it and American Presidents have done it and there ain’t nothing wrong with that. Politicians have been manipulating each other with pork chops since the beginning of time. What would be new about this?

'Obama's Katrina' My Ass

Am starting to hear even from liberal commentators that the Oil Geyser is starting to feel like “Obama’s Katrina.” Hogwash.

Yes. It’s bad. It’s so bad it’s making Bobby Jindal look good. Remember. THIS is Bobby Jindal:

Of course, it would behoove us to remember that Jindal is a card-carrying member of the “drill baby drill” party. Sorry, Bobby, you don’t get points now, not when you were probably among the crazed throng in the Twin Cities a few summers ago. Your party was the asshole who decided to make offshore drilling a political issue, despite the fact that the tech simply hasn’t gotten far along enough to be safe (can it ever?). You asked for it, buddy, and you got it. Enjoy your fucked seafood industry. Douche.

But no, kids, this is NOT “Obama’s Katrina.” That is an impossibility. Comparing this thing to Katrina is as sensible as comparing Kent State to the Holocaust—and I do not make this reference lightly.

Just look at the sheer numbers. Conservative estimates put the death toll as a result of Katrina at ONE THOUSAND, EIGHT HUNDRED THIRTY-SIX people. Direct death toll as a result of the Deepwater Horizon ‘splosion? 11.

But the numbers don’t precisely explain why this is no way no how even close to being “Obama’s Katrina.” Katrina was a unique monster. It warned America that the George Dubya Boosh administration was quite comfortable not acting while thousands of our fellow citizens were stranded on their own rooftops and were drowning in their own attics. It was a dramatic exposition of the argument we’d been making for years here at the KIAV: That the administration was an incompetent fuckup that cared more about power than it did about the safety and welfare of the American people.

This is not to say that there isn’t some criticism to be leveled at the federal response to this disaster. But the feds’ limp-wristed response to this is largely due to the fact that we have too long tolerated life in a goose-stepping, global corporatocracy. Do you grasp that Uncle Sam has tried to send independed observers to the Gulf but was REBUFFED by a foreign corporation, the very same foreign corporation that CAUSED this shit?

Doesn’t that piss you off? Doesn’t it make you yearn for a more muscular federal government, one that doesn’t take shit from nobody? It sure does me.

Still. Anyone who says this is “Obama’s Katrina” doesn’t understand what the hell Katrina was.

But Dick Blumenthal Is

An avid Howard Stern fan such as myself cannot help but think of one of Stern’s classic bits these days: Stern’s Vietnam stories.

Stern, born in 1954, was just a bit on the young side to have served; he’d have been 19 in 1973. Still, Stern would regale his audience with his war stories.

Am embedding a YouTube clip below. I should warn that some of the language might offend. Duh.

Yet another example of Connecticut Democratic Senate Candidate Dick Blumenthal’s strange lies regarding his own military service has emerged. Here’s what he reportedly said at a Veteran’s Day parade in 2008:

“I wore the uniform in Vietnam and many came back . . . to all kinds of disrespect. Whatever we think of war, we owe the men and women of the armed forces our unconditional support.”

Not only is Blumenthal claiming to have been in country. He’s also claiming that a hippie spit on him when he returned.

You’ve almost got to wonder if he’s just kidding around like our good friend Howard. He really should listen and crib some of the material.

Blumenthal is insane. There is no other explanation. He is crazy. No sane person stands up in front of a crowd and claims credit for a tour of duty in Vietnam unless he’s actually waded in a rice paddy. I don’t care that it means that the Democrats abdicate a Senate seat; he really should be pulled from the race. HE IS A CRAZY PERSON. The end.

No, Rand Paul Is Not Insane

Am just listening to Stephanie Miller read an e-mail that indicates in many creative ways that newly-minted Kentucky senatorial candidate Rand Paul is insane, following his interview on The Rachel Maddow Show last evening. That’s the scary thing, though. He’s not insane.

The interview was just aggravating. Paul knows he can’t come out and say that he thinks that private businesses ought to have the right to refuse service. So he goes all Fred Astaire on our dear Rachel. And, although listening to it causes the average American to present with a splitting headache, he is exceptional at it.

Let me say this. I believe Rand Paul when he says he abhors discrimination. I don’t think he’s a racist. If only. What Rand is, is clearly a product of the extreme Bizarro-Utopian Anarchist thinking that has gripped this country (and for which he may be named for).

Rand Paul is so blinded by his belief that ownership is morality that he can’t fathom that sometimes, the federal government has to be able to tell people and institutions, including privately owned businesses, where to step the hell off. And he’s so clouded up with “objectivism” that he can’t see the difference between denying service to People of Grander Melanin and denying service to people who are packing heat, and to top it off he somehow thinks that’s a great way to argue with Known Liberal Rachel Anne Maddow.

No, I don’t think Rand Paul is insane, not in the conventional sense. I just think he’s taken the suppository*.

*“…the jagged, horrid, rusty, poisonous suppository that is used to corrupt Republigoats, that travels from their ass through their entire bloodstream, leaving behind shards of poison and bad ideas, and ending up in the brain, where it severs the corpus collosum and implants the text of ‘Atlas Shrugged,’ poop, and the hallucination that Ann Coulter is hot.”

Rand Paul's Nonsense

Watching Rand Paul try to wiggle out from his statements about opposition to The Civil rights Act of 1964 was like watching a weasel trying to find an escape route from a chicken pen. For a man who says he is not a politician, it was a study in political obfuscation. (Kudos to Rachel for putting him on the spot.)

What Paul believes is that the government has no right to instruct private business to not discriminate on the basis of race, creed, color or national origin. What this means is that he believes the progress we have made in desegregation of public accommodations like restaurants and bars and department stores would never have happened, and may be turned back . It also means that private employers would not be required to hire blacks and Hispanics and women, and landlords could exclude any minorities.

Paul says that he is adamantly opposed to discrimination, but he thinks that the rights of property owners are more important. The diversions Rand used to avoid this basic fact were many and curious.

Paul claimed, for example that Boston was integrated in 1840 by the great work of Williiam Lloyd Garrison, and by implication similar efforts would have eventually integrated the South. Nice idea, except that Boston was the most segregated city in the North until recent years, and it’s school busing riots were as violent as those in Birmingham.

Then he tried to shift the discussion to freedom of speech… as in “should we prohibit crazy racists from saying what they think?”  Of course, no one has ever suggested that racists do not have a right to say their piece, regardless of how outrageous it is. In fact most liberals go to the wall to defend the rights of nut jobs like Fred Phelps and the American Nazi Party. The ACLU (of which I am a card carrying member) has always come to the defense of these whackos. (My personal view is that the solution to Fred Phelps is a gang of liberals armed with ball bats).  Moreover, freedom of speech has nothing to do with ensuring a just and integrated society i.e. restricting your diner to whites only is not “speech.”

Then Paul moved on to the Second Amendment, as in “if you can force people to serve blacks, shouldn’t you force them to serve armed nut jobs?” (Curiously I just had lunch in a rural Kansas saloon that had a sign on the door: “NO GUNS ALLOWED.”) This is, of course, a ridiculous comparison. While the government has a compelling interest in promoting a just society through integration, it has no compelling interest in promoting shoot outs at the OK Saloon.

Rand Paul’s twisted logic is typical of the nonsense that we often hear from the Pee Party, all gas and no facts. It is marked primarily by an inability to read history, to understand context, to get the finer points of reality. Paul is an idealist and in some ways I admire that, but you can’t run a government based on idealism. It takes a thorough appreciation of the gray areas, a willingness to craft policies that address the best solution, not the ideal system. The Constitution itself, about which Paul claims (incorrectly) to be an expert, was a compromise. It would never have been ratified if it had been left to idealists.