Paul Revere by Cyrus Dallin, North End, Boston

~~~

~~~

RIP Ben Bradlee

RIP Ben Bradlee
One of our nation's best.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

CONGRESSIONAL REPUBLICANS BLOCK BILL THAT SUPPORTS OUR VETERANS

Support our troops?  Only when it helps the GOP in elections.  Apparently.

 



Yes.  We have a deficit.  But shouldn't we help those who sacrificed for us?  Can't we cut spending else where?

From Think Progress:


This is pretty low, even for Republicans,” the Washington Monthly’s Steve Benen said. While Murray pledged to continue to fight for the bill’s passage, Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-NV) spokesperson said “Republicans have their priorities backwards — according to them, it’s OK to give tax breaks to CEOs who send American jobs overseas, but not to help out-of-work Americans and homeless veterans.”

LIFE


Thanks to our very shy, very wonderful 8-armed friend, (O)CT(O)PUS.

Friday, June 25, 2010

THE POWER OF WOMEN'S BREASTS



Yes.  I know.  It's a cheap way of getting traffic to the blog.  But this is a break-from-politics story, and the woman in this story [not in the photo] deserves all the, um, exposure she can get. 

Good for her.  This is a non-violent AND legal way of dealing with an ongoing, extremely annoying problem.  Too bad this country is too puritanical to allow women to show this much courage in dealing with troublesome neighbors.   

And please, to all the women who read this, get those breasts into the clinic for their mammograms--early detection saves lives.

And one never knows when one will need these weapons of mass distraction to bring tranquility and order to the world.

Topless woman uses bare breasts to stop ATV noise feud



June 24, 2010 • 12:18 pm
By Diana Fasanella

A Canadian woman fed up with her neighbors’ 5-year-old grandson driving a loud ATV vehicle up and down her quiet street for hours has decided to deal with the two-year feud by flashing her bare breasts at the child.


Marika De Floria of Seeley’s Bay near Toronto told CNews that because police wouldn’t do anything about the “maddening” ATV noise, she decided to go outside topless every time the kid rides the vehicle on her street.


As soon as she’s spotted naked from the waist up, the boy’s horrified grandparents pull the child inside.

De Floria says it’s the bravest thing she’s ever done. The 56-year-old is not breaking the law, according to police, because it is legal for women to be topless in public in Canada.


De Floria says it’s the bravest thing she’s ever done. The 56-year-old is not breaking the law, according to police, because it in legal for women to be topless in public in Canada.



Neighbors Mike and Nancy Berry claim that there needs to be a “little give and take” among neighbors because “it’s not right to go around topless in front of kids.”

OK, who’s the boob here?
h/t DU

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

PRESIDENT OBAMA ACCEPTS GENERAL MC CHRYSTAL'S RESIGNATION; THE RIGHTWING BLOGSPHERE IS SHOCKED!

I predicted that the sanctimonious right would blame Mr. Obama for General McChrystal's egregious mistake and for his resultant resignation. 

Here's an example from one particular odious blog, "Gateway Pundit" (I won't provide a link, you'll have to google it).

"McCHRYSTAL FIRED FOR TELLING THE TRUTH–



Obama fired General McChrystal for telling the truth and questioning his leadership in the War in Afghanistan. Barack Obama waited months to send in the requested troops.

VP Joe-Bite-Me stood next to the president during his announcement today."

And then this idiotic tidbit at the end of Gateway Pundit's post:

"Of course, just a few years ago the media promoted military criticism of President Bush. But, now it’s unacceptable."

This commenter at Andrew Breitbart's blog is totally unaware that there is no presidential election in the fall: LOL!
"AND WE’LL BE RELIEVING YOU IN NOVEMBER.



POS.

DTOM!"

And finally this one, from a blog called "Maggies' Notebook," that turns the whole affair on its head.  Gen. McChrystal publicly denigrated his Commander in Chief during a time of war, and this rightwing blogger claims Mr. Obama is trying to "humiliate" the general.  I'm not making this up:

"Wednesday, June 23, 2010



Obama Transcript on Resignation and Attempted Humiliation of General Stanley McChrystal"


(There's much more, but you'll have to research it yourselves, since I won't link to those blogs.)


Apparently the person who writes for the Gateway Pundit's blog hasn't a clue about the difference between the media doing their job and criticizing presidential policies and a general (who is under the authority of the president and the commander in chief) contravening his Constitutional duty.

These are the people who want to regain power.  Think about how stupid and uninformed that post is, then multiply it by the millions of people who nod their heads and agree with its boneheadedness.

Those who are defending McChrystal are the same group of TeePeers who gnashed their teeth and wailed about how Mr. Obama was shredding the Constitution.   The fact that General McChrystal violated the Constitution by undercutting and demeaning his Commander in Chief and the civilian control of the military in public seems not to bother their sensitive little minds or their concern over the preservation of our Constitution.

Count these people in with the Joe Bartons of the world who side with big oil against those who were damaged by BP, and now with the contemptuous general who mocked his Commander in Chief during a time of war.

That they don't see nor understand how serious a breach of the Uniform Code of Military Justice this was is again symptomatic of their blind, knee-jerk hatred toward Mr. Obama.

I believe Mr. Obama was decisive and correct in his actions today.  I hope he and General Petraeus and everyone responsible for the continuation of the Afghan war do all that is necessary to meet the deadline Mr. Obama set for bringing the troops home.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

GENERAL MC CHRYSTAL FORCES OBAMA INTO A NO-WIN SITUATION

PRESIDENT OBAMA ACCEPTS GENERAL MC CHRYSTAL'S RESIGNATION AND APPOINTS GENERAL PETRAEUS TO REPLACE MC CHRYSTAL.



FROM STARS AND STRIPES:  A General's Contempt:

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama faces two grim choices on Wednesday: Fire Gen. Stanley McChrystal and risk looking like he’s lost control of the war in Afghanistan. Or keep him and risk looking like he’s lost control of his generals.


Even before McChrystal’s very public slap at his boss surfaced on Monday night, the White House was already bristling at the perception that the war in Afghanistan was becoming unwinnable.

The decisive military offensive to clear the strategic town of Marjah has foundered. Another, bigger offensive to drive the Taliban from its home turf in Kandahar has been delayed. U.S. casualties are rising in a war that ranks as America’s longest, surpassing the grim milestone of 1,000 dead earlier this month. Corrupt warlords and Taliban militants are pocketing tens of millions in U.S. aid.

Now Obama must add a new crisis to that daunting list: The commander he handpicked to win the Afghanistan war allowed a reporter for Rolling Stone to embed with him and his closest staff for a month, offering up a series of incendiary and embarrassing comments about the president and his war cabinet.


[skip]
 
Rep. David Obey, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee and a key liberal voice in the House, called McChrystal’s comments “contemptuous of his civilian superiors” and demanded his resignation. CBS News later reported that McChrystal had offered a letter of resignation.


“His comments, and those of his subordinates, dismissing the President, the Vice-President, Gen. (James) Jones, Ambassador (Karl) Eikenberry, and Richard Holbrooke suggests that Gen. McChrystal is locked into an ‘everybody is wrong but me’ approach to the world,” Obey said.

General McChrystal: RESIGN. NOW.


UPDATE FROM HUFFINGTON POST:

GEN. MC CHRYSTAL OFFERS TO RESIGN. 

 General Stanley McChrystal has offered his resignation, an unnamed source has told Time magazine. CNN tweeted a report of the resignation. More details to follow.

As an officer in the armed forces of the United States of America, General McChrystal took an oath to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution.  He has violated that oath for the second time by disrespecting the chain of command and the president as Commander in Chief.  In addition to President Obama, McChrystal denigrated the Secretary of Defense, Vice President Joe Biden, the National Security Advisory, General Jones, and Afghan Ambassador Eichenberry, who was a military officer himself.  All of his superiors were trashed in an "on the record" interview with Rolling Stone Magazine.  General McChrystal's media press aide, Duncan Boothby, knew enough to resign after this egregious insubordination.  McChrystal needs to do the same.  This is the second time McChrystal has been insubordinate to his Commander in Chief. 


Joe Scarborough, former Republican Congressman from Florida and a member of the Military Affairs Committee, stated this morning that McChrystal has, by his actions, endangered the troops under his command by providing aid and comfort to the enemy


Defense Secretary Robert Gates says the top U.S. general in Afghanistan made "a significant mistake" and used poor judgment in remarks to a magazine reporter


 Three members of the Senate Armed Services Committee issued a joint statement saying they had the “highest respect” for McChrystal’s military service but that his comments were disrespectful. “General McChrystal’s comments, as reported in Rolling Stone, are inappropriate and inconsistent with the traditional relationship between Commander-in-Chief and the military,” said Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the committee’s ranking Republican, Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). “The decision concerning General McChrystal’s future is a decision to be made by the President of the United States.”


This behavior by McChrystal is in direct contradiction to the US Constitution.  Just a reminder to those on the Right who will jump on this and defend the indefensible.  McChrystal betrayed his oath of office.

h/t Huffington Post

NOTE: "McChrystal was instrumental in the Pat Tillman cover-up. Shortly after Tillman's death, he wrote a memo recommending against divulging the findings of internal investigations that showed Tillman's death was due to friendly fire. Why? Because, as Rolling Stone printed, those findings would cause "public embarrassment" for Bush. As RS also notes, "Nine days after Tillman's death, McChrystal was promoted to Major General."

Monday, June 21, 2010

"POST-RACIAL" AMERICA; WELL FLORIDA ACTUALLY...

I lived in Florida for 10 years; and from time to time, check the papers.  Here's a story that is depressing and predictable at the same time.  Imagine the police doing this to a blond, blue-eyed kid riding his bike in the neighborhood:

FROM THE GAINSVILLE, FLORIDA, SUN:

GPD police dog released on, bites 10-year-old; inquiry under way
By Cindy Swirko
Staff writer

Gainesville police are reviewing an incident in which an officer responding to a burglary call Wednesday released a police dog on a 10-year-old boy, who was bitten.



Capt. Ed Book said it is routine that K-9 bites be reviewed. He said police later learned the woman who had reported the burglary allegedly has mental health issues.



Bitten was Bryce Bates of the 3300 block of Northwest 21st Drive. Bates said his mother had asked him to get the mail and that he had ridden his bicycle a short distance from his condominium when he saw a police car speeding toward him.

The 10-year-old, who is 5 feet tall and weighs 85 pounds, said he became scared, jumped off his bike and began running for home.



"I saw the police car, and he was speeding real fast. I thought he was going to hit me, so I jumped off my bike and ran," Bryce said. "I heard the dog barking and looked behind and saw it running after me."



The dog caught Bryce just as he reached his front door, biting the back of his left thigh. Bryce had one puncture wound that tore the flesh and several smaller bite wounds and scratches.





Brice's parents, Ferris Bates and Cheron Hampton-Bates, said they insisted that their son be taken by ambulance to the hospital, where he was treated and released.

The incident began about 3:20 p.m. with a burglary-in-progress call in the 3400 block of Northwest 21st Drive. Cpl. Tim Durst, with his dog Grady, responded and saw a youth on a bicycle in the area.

Police say Durst yelled for the boy to stop. The officer then released Grady, which bit the boy on the leg and caused minor injuries, Book said.

Book said details, including whether Bryce matched any descriptions that might have been given by the woman, will be part of the review.

"We believe that there were some warnings given. He didn't stop," Book said of the incident involving the boy. "We think he probably got off his bicycle and ran, but we don't know if he was running from police or running because he was scared. There is a difference.

"Unfortunately ... it was only well after we had this K-9 incident that we learned that the woman has a mental health condition that causes her to see things or imagine things," Book said.

GPD's manual regarding the use of dogs for apprehension states a K-9 can be released: to prevent the escape of a person whom the officer believes has committed a felony offense; if the subject has outstanding warrants; or if the person is believed to be armed and a serious threat to officers.

The officer must warn the subject to stop, according to the manual, and state that the dog will be released if the subject does not stop.

Bryce will be a fifth-grader at Glen Springs Elementary School. His mother said she saw Bryce running to the door with the dog behind him and initially thought it was a neighborhood dog chasing him.

"It attacked him right in the doorway. I saw the dog just bear down on him and moving and tugging and constantly biting and biting," Hampton-Bates said. "(Bryce) didn't know the officer was telling him to stop. He was screaming my name the whole way here."

Hampton-Bates said the incident "made me question whether (Bryce) is the victim of profiling" because he is a black youth. She added that she spoke with Police Chief Tony Jones and that he assured her the incident will be fully reviewed.

Gainesville lawyer Robert Rush, who has won settlements against GPD in other dog bite cases, questioned whether police had any probable cause against the boy to release the dog.

"If he gets off the bicycle and runs, what probable cause do they have to believe that this child is an imminent threat and danger?" Rush said. "That's a misuse of the dog. It's a complete misuse of the dog."

 
Bryce Bates will remember this for the rest of his life, and he will come to learn that the police set their dogs on him for no other reason than the fact that he is an African-American child.  As I said at the top, I can't imagine the police sicing vicious dogs on a blond, blue-eyed child riding his bike in his neighborhood.
 
If I remember correctly, it was in the state of Florida where a book store had a display of monkey books in its window with a picture of President Obama in the center of the display.
 

Thursday, June 17, 2010

THE MSM's GUT BRAIN AND OTHER ATROCITIES THAT PASS FOR NEWS ANALYSES

I read Neil Postman's "Entertaining Ourselves to Death" years ago and recommend it to anyone seeking to understand the shallow and the absurd that passes for political punditry on cable and network teevee. 

Brian Johnson and Bliss Green write for the blog Postmanisms and have posted a thoughtful and at the same time depressing analysis of how the MSM have shamelessly abandoned any pretense of doing their job of elucidating for the American people the complex issues surrounding the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.  Instead, we've been given front-row seats to a circus of idiots trying to outdo themselves in irrelevancy and inanity, from Chris Matthews of MSNBC whining about having to hear, more than once, that President Obama's Energy Secretary, Dr. Steven Chu, has a Nobel Prize in physics, to the foolish clowns at FOX News repeating GOP talking points, calling BP's $20 billion fund to compensate those who were financially injured by the spill--calling it a "shakedown."

But I'll let these two talented writers explain it in their own words:

The phylogeny of Immediacy, Nowness, Hysteria, and Contingent Finality came together this week in a mere 24-hour news cycle (more like 12 hours of real time) that saw President Obama described first as wishy-washy, bland, and listless, and then as a bully enforcer demanding corporate accountability, which would make him the most relaxed “bully” in history. Doris Kearns Goodwin, a respected popular historian, practices the craft of history in situ, because her expertise fools you into thinking her snap judgments have depth. Newsweek‘s Howard Fineman is upset that the President–like an eighteenth-century poet–didn’t have the “fingertip feel,” because after all the President is only a performer, like a reality-show contestant, and his “appearance” is therefore more significant than talking about what he is doing, is not doing, could be doing, or cannot do (i.e. swim down to the well and sit on it, as some critics seem to want). Chris Matthews is bothered that President Obama mentions Secretary of Energy Dr. Steven Chu’s Nobel Prize cred because, well, Chris, in his official TV role of “feeling” for the “ordinary American” believes that that fictional category of person feels condescended to when someone who might actually know more than they do renders a thoughtful opinion.




The staff here at Postmanisms don’t, like the “staff” at TMZ, “hang out” in “cubicles” “casually talking” about stuff they “just happened to see.” Would that our Instant Now media felt any obligation to think before speaking. An analyst’s gutbrain, the educated-person’s version of Beavis and Butt-head mocking videos on MTV, is the only thing TV wants. Let’s face it: serious thought is no fun to watch, and most viewers have been well-trained by the medium to have no patience for extended argument or analysis. At least Roger Ebert always had a longish essay of thoughtful critique behind his thumbs-up/-down. The daily reduction of serious issues (i.e. that a terminal addiction to oil is the only reason the Gulf is going to die) to matters of perception and style (a reflection of the shallowness of the medium itself) turns the entire TV-reported world into the equivalent of TMZ: the world exists only to be paraded in front of us and judged, minute by minute, each judgment final, until the next minute.


Watch this:

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

IS SARAH PALIN REALLY THIS STUPID? ANSWER: SADLY, YES



When asked on the O'Reilly Factor, or whatever the name of that All Spin Zone show is, if the Obama administration is doing all it can to deal with BP's disaster, Palin shot off her mouth and did what she does best:  she answered without knowing the facts and just made stuff up using her usual word salad:


PALIN:
“What the federal government should have done was to accept the assistance of foreign countries, of entrepreneurial Americans… the Dutch and the Norweigians. They are known for dikes and for cleaning up water and for dealing with spills. They offered to help! And yet, no– they too, with the proverbial ‘can’t even get a phone call back.’ That is what the Norweigians are telling us and the Dutch are telling us. And then the entrepreneurial Americans, the company in Maine that has the boom and the absorbents, those companies that are waiting for the Obama administration eight weeks later…”


 
"Meanwhile, back in reality-based reality:





In an interview on the June 15 edition of Fox & Friends, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs stated that “[w]e have talked to several countries” and that “foreign entities are operating within the Gulf that help us respond” to the oil spill. Despite this, both Carlson and Ingraham continued to falsely suggest that foreign aide was being denied.



…In a June 15 press release, the Deepwater Horizon Incident Joint Information Center (JIC) stated that “[c]urrently, 15 foreign-flagged vessels are involved in the largest response to an oil spill in U.S. history.” The JIC further explained, “No Jones Act waivers have been granted because none of these vessels have required such a waiver to conduct their operations in the Gulf of Mexico.” The press release further stated:




To date, the administration has leveraged assets and skills from numerous foreign countries and international organizations as part of this historic, all-hands-on-deck response, including Canada, Germany, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, the United Nations’ International Maritime Organization and the European Union’s Monitoring and Information Centre. In some cases, offers of international assistance have been turned down because the offer didn’t fit the needs of the response.

…On June 10, Fox News reporter Brian Wilson wrote on his blog that “[t]he Coast Guard and the Administration are quick to point out that some foreign technology is being used in the current cleanup effort.” According to Wilson, this technology includes:





■Canada’s offer of 3,000 meters of containment boom


■Three sets of COSEQ sweeping arms from the Dutch


■Mexico’s offer of two skimmers and 4200 meters of boom


■Norway’s offer of 8 skimming systems


Gibbs: “We are using equipment … from countries like Norway, Canada, the Netherlands”; no need “thus far” for “any type of waiver.” In a June 10 press briefing, Gibbs fielded a question on the administration’s position in issuing waivers to the Jones Act. Gibbs stated that “there has not been any problem” with “using equipment” from foreign countries."

 Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo chimes in:

"I tend to think of making fun of Sarah Palin as pretty old hat. I mean, she has to say something pretty silly at this point to make me take notice. But last night she went on O'Reilly to rail on the president for not getting the oil leak at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico stopped. And when pressed on just how he was supposed to do that by all of people Bill O'Reilly, Palin said Obama had really blown it by not reaching out to the Dutch since they proved themselves so good at building dikes and sluices and dams to reclaim land from the sea. Which when you think about it is pretty much the same thing as capping an oil gusher a mile underwater."

Well, at least Sarah's consistent in not knowing what the hell she's talking about.  People actually listen to this woman.  Why?

h/t Pensito Review

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

THE BP OIL SPILL: HOW AMERICA'S PAST PRESIDENTS WOULD HAVE HANDLED IT.


"The only lies we have to fear are BP lies."




"I never gave BP hell. I just told the truth and they think it's hell."




"Beware of the Bush/Cheney-driven Energy Industrial Complex."





"Ask not what we can do for BP; ask what BP can do to clean up the mess they've made of the Gulf."






"BP:  I am the only president you got."





"I won't let you have BP to kick around anymore." 




After tripping over a tar ball, he pardoned BP.




"I swear a gigantic oil gusher tried to land in my boat and attack me!"






"'Drill, Baby, Drill!' isn't the solution to our problem, 'Drill, Baby, Drill!' IS our problem!"





After telling BP they were not one of America's 'thousand points of light,' he vomited all over Tony Hayward.




"BP,  I feel your pain."




"We're doin' everthing we can to address the strategery in the Gulf.  Now watch this drive."

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Oil Spill in the Gulf: A Result of Decades of Conservatives Pushing for Deregulation

Bill Berkowitz over at BuzzFlash has an article up on the consequences of Reagan's and Cheney's deregulation. 

Reagan’s Legacy of Deregulation Goes Haywire in the Gulf

Submitted by BuzzFlash on Fri, 06/11/2010 - 4:38am. Guest Commentary
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH

"The oil spill in the Gulf is the product of decades of conservatives pounding for deregulation, Cheney-era manipulation of federal regulatory agencies, and corporate insatiability.



These days, when watching television news reports – often the extraordinary reporting of MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow – about the environmental/economic catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf which took the lives of 11 workers, I can’t help but think of two seemingly disparate things; the administration of Ronald Reagan, and the 1953 coup in Iran.



I’m thinking about our 40th president because the genesis of corporations drilling for oil where-ever and how-ever without being distracted or deterred by common sense rules and regulations, although part of the economic landscape for decades, picked up steam during the Reagan era.


The 1953 coup in Iran, which overthrew the democratically-elected government of Mohammad Mossadegh, came about because the British government, which owned the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company -- more Anglo than Iranian in both ownership and control – helped engineer the coup. And, one year later, the British government renamed the company, the British Petroleum Company.


During the 1980 presidential campaign, the Heritage Foundation burst onto the national scene with the publication of “Mandate for Leadership,” a comprehensive set of policy recommendations which became the intellectual underpinning for the "Reagan Revolution." Heritage’s blueprint included trickle-down economics, a major emphasis on deregulation, and massive cutbacks in social programs."




Although economists – both those supportive of Reagan’s economic initiatives and those opposed – have for years debated how committed the Reagan Administration was to actually advancing deregulation, one thing is clear; under-funded or de-funded government regulatory agencies, government agencies larded with corporate-friendly officials receiving corporate perks and kickbacks, and such mantras as “unleash the creativity of corporations and all will be well” and “drown the government in a bathtub” have dominated conservative policy initiatives over the past three decades.


In a recent interview, Lawrence Wilkerson, a retired United States Army soldier and former chief of staff to U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and currently an adjunct professor at the College of William & Mary, told the Real News Network that George W. Bush’s Administration, through the offices of vice president Dick Cheney, did all it could “to destroy about a half-century or more's regulatory work with regard to oversight of fisheries, forestry, oil, gas, minerals in general. You name it,” said Wilkerson. “If it was supervised, if it was overseen, if it was regulated by the federal government, Cheney with his marvelous bureaucratic talent moved in and essentially replaced the people who were in the positions that were central to this regulation, this oversight, with people who were either lobbyists for the industry being regulated or executives from that industry.”




And to echo a certain conservative's claim on his blog:  "It's official, it's George Bush's fault!"

True.

But it's also Reagan's and any other politician, Dem. or Rep., who helped to weaken regulations set in place  to avoid this sort of disaster.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

SARAH PALIN TELLS PRESIDENT OBAMA TO CALL HER FOR EXECUTIVE ADVICE, WHEN HER RISK ASSESSMENT PLAN WAS CALLED A FAILURE OF GOVERNANCE


The half-governor of Alaska, by way of her facebook account and tweeting, is telling President Obama that she has the executive experience to deal with the BP oil spill? 

How adorable.

Palin is too stupid to understand that in the age of the internet it is quite easy to discover the facts and find out what a loud-mouthed fraud she is. 

From the Anchorage Daily News:

Governing failed in emergency response
By RICHARD FINEBERG
Published: August 5th, 2009 07:21 PM
Last Modified: August 5th, 2009 07:43 PM


"I promised that we would protect this beautiful environment while safely and ethically developing resources, and we did," former Gov. Sarah Palin proclaimed at her farewell address July 26, citing creation of two new bureaucratic organizations.


Recent developments at the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) tell a different story.


In May 2007 the governor proudly proclaimed she was launching a comprehensive risk assessment of Alaska's oil and gas infrastructure. The Alaska Risk Assessment (ARA), which would cost $5 million and take two to three years to complete, would be "a thorough, independent appraisal" that would "identify facilities and systems that pose the greatest risk of failure, along with measures to reduce risks."


As Sarah Palin leaves office, the risk assessment is in shambles. According to DEC project manager Ira Rosen, the project is temporarily at a "full stop," primarily because the state has been unable to secure the cooperation of the petroleum industry to provide the necessary information. Rosen also confirmed that DEC pulled the contractors off the job after the project plan was resoundingly denounced during the public comment period that ended June 2.


After reviewing the proposed methodology, more than a dozen environmental groups and informed citizens (this writer included) recommended that DEC terminate the project because the risk assessment's original intent had been severely watered down. They felt the proposal would generate meaningless statistical results due to failure to focus on the condition of field facilities, the implementation of management practices and the adequacy of government oversight.


The risk assessment is just one example of a DEC problem that Gov. Palin has ignored. In May of this year, as Alaska's annual ice jams broke with unusual force, then-Gov. Palin visited flood sites and was effusive in her praise of agency response to the spring flooding. But Ed Meggert, the man who ran the field response for DEC's Fairbanks office for more than a decade, begs to differ.


Although Meggert was pleased with his team's field performance, he also had serious problems with the way the agency's home office handled the spring emergency. In Meggert's view, a bloated and dysfunctional bureaucracy failed to provide the field personnel, training and logistical support necessary to deal with the emergency in a timely manner."

What exactly has Palin accomplished since she quit her job as governor of Alaska?  She enriched herself and managed to get hired to speak at real estate and bowling conventions.  Most of the candidates she's backed have failed.  But she's been quite successful at tweeting  and facebooking inane, inaccurate, and dishonest claptrap.

Sue, over at "Helloooo...Mr. President Are You Listening" has a great post up.  Read it here.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

BRITISH PETROLEUM TRIES TO CONTROL ITS SLICK IMAGE


While the Gulf turns into a bubbling caldron of oily toil, trouble, and death, BP is busily buying up Google and Yahoo search words to keep people away from the pesky unpleasant news on the Gulf oil spill disaster.

I tried it myself--keyed in "BP oil spill,"  "oil spill," and "Gulf oil spill," and the first hit is BP's homepage.

Because by going right to the corporation that's responsible for this catastrophe, we'll get unbiased, accurate reporting on the disaster.

Link here:

"In their most tenacious effort to control the ‘spin’ on the worst oil spill disaster in the history, BP has purchased top internet search engine words so they can re-direct people away from real news on the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe.


BP spokesman Toby Odone confirmed to ABC News that the oil giant had in fact bought internet search terms. So now when someone searches the words ‘oil spill’, on the internet, the top link will re-direct them to BP’s official company website.

This would not be the first time that BP has tried to control information to protect the company’s public image.

Shortly after the Deepwater Horizon exploded on April 20, 2010, BP executives quickly underestimated the size of the disastrous oil spill. Some suggest they did it to avoid costly EPA per-gallon spill fines. The less oil spilled, the lower the fines.

A month into the spill, the public learned through independent science, that the spill was in fact a million gallon a day gusher. BP got caught in their own lie when the used a syphon pipe in one of the broken riser pipes and proudly proclaimed that they were capturing 5,000 barrels of oil a day. With the oil obviously still gushing, they had to up their spill rate to explain the reported discrepancy in their earlier estimates.


As the dead bodies of birds, turtles and dolphins began showing up on land, BP used a private security company as their ‘oil spill police’ to try to keep photographers and reporters away from the true death toll from their spill. Tides of black goo lapping a shore lined in corpses did not portray the company image Tony Hayward and his oil rich executives wanted."

To understand how this criminal organization works, take a look at their behavior in past catastrophies:

1993–1995: Hazardous substance dumping


In September 1999, one of BP’s US subsidiaries, BP Exploration Alaska (BPXA), agreed to resolve charges related to the illegal dumping of hazardous wastes on the Alaska North Slope, for $22 million. The settlement included the maximum $500,000 criminal fine, $6.5 million in civil penalties, and BP’s establishment of a $15 million environmental management system at all of BP facilities in the US and Gulf of Mexico that are engaged in oil exploration, drilling or production. The charges stemmed from the 1993 to 1995 dumping of hazardous wastes on Endicott Island, Alaska by BP’s contractor Doyon Drilling. The firm illegally discharged waste oil, paint thinner and other toxic and hazardous substances by injecting them down the outer rim, or annuli, of the oil wells. BPXA failed to report the illegal injections when it learned of the conduct, in violation of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act

2005: Texas City Refinery explosion

In March 2005, BP's Texas City, Texas refinery, one of its largest refineries, exploded causing 15 deaths, injuring 180 people and forcing thousands of nearby residents to remain sheltered in their homes. A large column filled with hydrocarbon overflowed to form a vapour cloud, which ignited. The explosion caused all the casualties and substantial damage to the rest of the plant. The incident came as the culmination of a series of less serious accidents at the refinery, and the engineering problems were not addressed by the management. Maintenance and safety at the plant had been cut as a cost-saving measure, the responsibility ultimately resting with executives in London.

The fall-out from the accident continues to cloud BP's corporate image because of the mismanagement at the plant. There have been several investigations of the disaster, the most recent being that from the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board which "offered a scathing assessment of the company." OSHA found "organizational and safety deficiencies at all levels of the BP Corporation" and said management failures could be traced from Texas to London.

The company pleaded guilty to a felony violation of the Clean Air Act, was fined $50 million, and sentenced to three years probation.

On October 30, 2009, the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) fined BP an additional $87 million — the largest fine in OSHA history — for failing to correct safety hazards revealed in the 2005 explosion. Inspectors found 270 safety violations that had been previously cited but not fixed and 439 new violations. BP is appealing that fine


Prudhoe Bay oil spill

In August 2006, BP shut down oil operations in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, due to corrosion in pipelines leading up to the Alaska Pipeline. The wells were leaking insulating agent called Arctic pack, consisting of crude oil and diesel fuel, between the wells and ice. BP had spilled over one million litres of oil in Alaska's North Slope. This corrosion is caused by sediment collecting in the bottom of the pipe, protecting corrosive bacteria from chemicals sent through the pipeline to fight this bacteria. There are estimates that about 5,000 barrels (790 m3) of oil were released from the pipeline. To date 1,513 barrels (240.5 m3) of liquids, about 5,200 cubic yards (4,000 m3) of soiled snow and 328 cubic yards (251 m3) of soiled gravel have been recovered. After approval from the DOT, only the eastern portion of the field was shut down, resulting in a reduction of 200,000 barrels per day (32,000 m3/d) until work began to bring the eastern field to full production on 2 October 2006.

In May 2007, the company announced another partial field shutdown owing to leaks of water at a separation plant. Their action was interpreted as another example of fallout from a decision to cut maintenance of the pipeline and associated facilities.

On 16 October 2007 Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation officials reported a toxic spill of methanol (methyl alcohol) at the Prudhoe Bay oil field managed by BP PLC. Nearly 2,000 gallons of mostly methanol, mixed with some crude oil and water, spilled onto a frozen tundra pond as well as a gravel pad from a pipeline. Methanol, which is poisonous to plants and animals, is used to clear ice from the insides of the Arctic-based pipelines

2006-2008: Texas City refinery fatalities

From January 2006 to January 2008, three workers were killed at the company's Texas City, Texas refinery in three separate accidents. In July 2006 a worker was crushed between a pipe stack and mechanical lift, in June 2007, a worker was electrocuted, and in January 2008, a worker was killed by a 500-pound piece of metal that came loose under high pressure and hit him.


2007: Propane price manipulation

Four BP energy traders in Houston were charged with manipulating prices of propane in October 2007. As part of the settlement of the case, BP paid the US government a $303 million fine, the largest commodity market settlement ever in the US. The settlement included a $125 million civil fine to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, $100 million to the Justice Department, $53.3 million to a restitution fund for purchasers of the propane BP sold, and $25 million to a US Postal Service consumer fraud education fund.


2008: Oil price manipulation

In May 2010, the Supreme Court of Arbitration of the Russian Federation agreed in support of the country’s antimonopoly service’s decision to a 1.1 billion Ruble fine ($35.2 million) against TNK/BP, a 50/50 joint venture, for abusing antitrust legislation and setting artificially high oil products prices in 2008, TNK and BP declined comment.


2009: North Sea helicopter accident

On April 1 2009, a Bond Offshore Helicopters Eurocopter AS332 Super Puma ferrying workers from BP's platform in the Miller oilfield in the North Sea off Scotland crashed in good weather killing all 16 on board.

SOURCE

Document Says Oil Chiefs Met With Cheney Task Force

By Dana Milbank and Justin Blum
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, November 16, 2005

"A White House document shows that executives from big oil companies met with Vice President Cheney's energy task force in 2001 -- something long suspected by environmentalists but denied as recently as last week by industry officials testifying before Congress.


The document, obtained this week by The Washington Post, shows that officials from Exxon Mobil Corp., Conoco (before its merger with Phillips), Shell Oil Co. and BP America Inc. met in the White House complex with the Cheney aides who were developing a national energy policy, parts of which became law and parts of which are still being debated."

Chevron was not named in the White House document, but the Government Accountability Office has found that Chevron was one of several companies that "gave detailed energy policy recommendations" to the task force. In addition, Cheney had a separate meeting with John Browne, BP's chief executive, according to a person familiar with the task force's work; that meeting is not noted in the document.


The task force's activities attracted complaints from environmentalists, who said they were shut out of the task force discussions while corporate interests were present. The meetings were held in secret and the White House refused to release a list of participants. The task force was made up primarily of Cabinet-level officials. Judicial Watch and the Sierra Club unsuccessfully sued to obtain the records.

CHENEY'S KATRINA:

Former Vice President Dick Cheney’s National Energy Policy Task Force concluded in May 2001 that “advanced, more energy efficient drilling and production methods: reduce emissions; practically eliminate spills from offshore platforms; and enhance worker safety, lower risk of blowouts, and provide better protection of groundwater resources.” At that time, with two oilmen in the White House and two more Texans leading an emboldened Republican majority in the House of Representatives, Big Oil had an unprecedented opportunity to set U.S. energy policy.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

SHOULD THE GOVERNMENT BE INVOLVED IN THE OIL SPILL?

Marc Perkel of Marc Perkel Rantz asks the question and has this to say:

"It’s interesting to see Republicans and Tea Baggers changing their tune when they want the government to bail them out after the capitalists have failed. After all, isn’t the oil spill “Free Enterprise”? They didn’t like the government bailing out the banks, but they want the government to bail out the oil companies and help clean up the spill? I thought they believed that wasn’t the government’s role. They shouldn’t interfere with the “free market system”.


Now the conservatives want the government to “take over”. They want government run beach protection? Are they asking for socialized government run environmental protection? Isn’t this just more “government regulation”. Just another “big government takeover”? Why do we care about the environment? That’s what those liberal progressive tree hugging global warming socialist hippies want. Now the conservatives are calling out to the “federal bureaucracy” for a “bailout”. What about British Petroleum’s God given right to make a profit?


When things are good it’s easy for Tea Baggers to run their mouth. But when the disasters come and we have to deal with reality all of a sudden they change their tune and come crying to Uncle Sam wanting the liberals to clean up their mistakes. I think the news media is giving these people intellectual welfare to even listen to them anymore."

A very fine rant, Mr. Perkel.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

US-MEXICO BORDER STATES AMONG THE SAFEST IN US FBI STUDY SAYS

(Click on chart to make it larger.)



It's one of the safest parts of America, and it's getting safer.


It's the U.S.-Mexico border, and even as politicians say more federal troops are needed to fight rising violence, government data obtained by The Associated Press show it actually isn't so dangerous after all.

The top four big cities in America with the lowest rates of violent crime are all in border states: San Diego, Phoenix, El Paso and Austin, according to a new FBI report. And an in-house Customs and Border Protection report shows that Border Patrol agents face far less danger than street cops in most U.S. cities.

 The Customs and Border Protection study, obtained with a Freedom of Information Act request, shows 3 percent of Border Patrol agents and officers were assaulted last year, mostly when assailants threw rocks at them. That compares with 11 percent of police officers and sheriff's deputies assaulted during the same period, usually with guns or knives.


In addition, violent attacks against agents declined in 2009 along most of the border for the first time in seven years. So far this year assaults are slightly up, but data is incomplete.

"The border is safer now than it's ever been," said U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman Lloyd Easterling.

He said one factor is that with fewer jobs available amid the U.S. recession, illegal immigration has dropped. And responding to security concerns after 9-11, the Border Patrol has doubled the number of agents in the region since

[skip]
 
In Arizona, a stringent new immigration law takes effect next month, requiring police to question suspects' immigration status if officers believe they're in the country illegally. Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer said in a televised interview last weekend: "We are out here on the battlefield getting the impact of all this illegal immigration, and all the crime that comes with it."
 
[skip]
 
But FBI crime reports for 2009 says violent crime in Arizona declined. And violent crimes in southwest border counties are among the lowest in the nation per capita – they've dropped by more than 30 percent in the last two decades. Of America's 25 largest cities, San Diego – with one out of four residents an immigrant – has the lowest number of violent crimes per capita.



Opponents of increased border security are frustrated by descriptions of a wave of violence when the statistics show the region to be relatively safe."

h/t HuffPost
 

Report from The Arizona Republic
NOGALES, Ariz. - Assistant Police Chief Roy Bermudez shakes his head and smiles when he hears politicians and pundits declaring that Mexican cartel violence is overrunning his Arizona border town.


"We have not, thank God, witnessed any spillover violence from Mexico," Bermudez says emphatically. "You can look at the crime stats. I think Nogales, Arizona, is one of the safest places to live in all of America."

FBI Uniform Crime Reports and statistics provided by police agencies, in fact, show that the crime rates in Nogales, Douglas, Yuma and other Arizona border towns have remained essentially flat for the past decade, even as drug-related violence has spiraled out of control on the other side of the international line. Statewide, rates of violent crime also are down.



"Politicians, mainly, if not exclusively Republican, have made speeches about crime along the Arizona border. But Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, from Pima County, says: "This is a media-created event. I hear politicians on TV saying the border has gotten worse. Well, the fact of the matter is that the border has never been more secure." In Cochise County the "crime rate has been 'flat for at least 10 years, the sheriff added."

**************************************


"The Republic reports: "While the nation's illegal-immigrant population doubled from 1994 to 2004, according to federal records, the violent-crime rate declined 35 percent." If illegal immigrantion causes crime then shouldn't crime rates rise with more immigration,not fall? In Arizona the violent-crime rate "dropped from 512 incidents per 100,000 residents in 2005 to 447 incidents in 2008, the most recent year for which data is available."

This decrease in crime in "crime-ridden" Arizona—if you believe the hype about immigrants—continues to show up in the most recent statistics as well. The Wall Street Journal reports, "Arizona's major cities all registered declines" in crime and:
In Phoenix, police spokesman Trent Crump said, "Despite all the hype, in every single reportable crime category, we're significantly down." Mr. Crump said Phoenix's most recent data for 2010 indicated still lower crime. For the first quarter of 2010, violent crime was down 17% overall in the city, while homicides were down 38% and robberies 27%, compared with the same period in 2009."

SOURCE

These facts and data belie what Governer Brewer and the non-Latino population in Arizona have put forward in their arguments in favor of Arizona's newest "Show Me Your Papers" law.

Also--Gov. Brewer is not shy about exaggerating and even making up her own version of history.  She was caught lying about her father and World War II.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

GOP OBSTRUCTIONISM AND THE DAMAGE IT DOES TO THIS COUNTRY





President Obama has been in office for a little over 16 months; and as of last week, there are about 240 administration nominees waiting for a vote in the senate.  

Last Thursday Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) tried to move a bloc of these appointees--all of whom had been vetted and given approval by the relevant committee.

Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell (R-KY) refused.

More than sixteen months into office, and the Republicans continue to obstruct this president, while at the same time they expect him and his administration to solve the Job-like crises and disasters hitting this country since before Mr. Obama took office.

From Washington Monthly:

"McConnell didn't have a good reason, except to say his feelings were hurt when the White House gave a recess appointment to Craig Becker to serve on the National Labor Relations Board earlier this year. Last week was McConnell's way of saying he holds a grudge -- and doesn't much care if the federal government has the personnel in place to function as it's supposed to.


With that in mind, don't be too surprised if President Obama, left with little choice, makes some recess appointments during Congress' Memorial Day recess.

"The president is naturally frustrated at another work period ending with a record-breaking number of nominations bottled on the floor, and he will consider next steps over the course of the coming days," a White House aide said. [...]

Congressional aides have suggested Obama may use this week to circumvent the Senate confirmation process and clear at least some of the more than 100 names lingering on the executive calendar. Obama has used his recess appointment powers just once, clearing 15 names in March.

It's not just scandalous Republican obstructionism that's the problem here, though that's clearly part of it. There's also the matter of limited Senate floor time left this year, and the fact that, with GOP filibusters on practically everything and everyone, it takes 30 hours for the chamber to vote on one nominee, even if he or she will end up being confirmed easily.


The government has important government offices that need qualified officials. The country need not suffer because Republicans have broken the Senate."

Americans need to remember this as they demand that President Obama solve one crisis after another without the help or support of the opposing party or the ability to put in place people who have the ability to do the job of moving this country forward and solve its very challenging problems. 

The GOP is not just the party of NO!, it's the party of OBSTRUCTION!,  and SCREW THE AMERICAN PEOPLE!

And we the people are the ones who pay the price for their destructively childish antics.
James Fallows of the Atlantic has more on this story.