Monday, May 31, 2010

Oil and Hurricanes Don't Mix. BP Oil Disaster Day 42.

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TPJ: Imagine a storm surge from a hurricane carrying this oil INLAND!! There would be oil pumping into the bayous brimming with wildlife and potable water sources for the towns and parishes in Louisiana and/or the rest of the gulf states. This thing just seems to go from bad to worse. I hope the "Drill, baby Drill" crowd is finally getting a clue that oil is an antiquated fuel source and that the faster we get off it, the better it will be for all of us. As well as the fragile, life sustaining environment. They're awfully quiet about this volcano of oil.

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Friday, May 28, 2010

Obama Doesn't Deserve the Level of Blame He's Getting for the BP Oil Disaster.

I'll be the first one to state that President Obama and his administration aren't blameless on this BP oil disaster. For one, he should had said more earlier and not doubled down on offshore drilling. However, I think he's getting too much blame given how much his hands are tied thanks to previous administrations. That's in part because of a decade of lax regulations and policies that create to close a relationship between oil conglomerates and the government who is supposed to be the supervisor:

The president said for a decade or longer “there's been a cozy relationship between the oil companies and the federal agency that permits them to drill,” the Interior Department’s Minerals Management Service. “It seems as if permits were too often issued based on little more than assurances of safety from the oil companies. That cannot and will not happen anymore.”

TPJ: This segways into the MMS government agency, which is in charge of over-seeing what little regulation of the oil industry is left after the Bush-Cheney legacy of letting oil companies basically do whatever the hell they wanted:
(CNN) -- The Minerals Management Service, a division within the Interior Department, was a troubled agency long before the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and the recent revelations of employee misconduct. The president said he’d asked Salazar to “conduct a top-to-bottom reform” of MMS, and he applauded Salazar’s recommendations so far to separate the division of MMS “which permits oil and gas drilling and collects royalties from the part of the agency in charge of inspecting the safety of oil rigs and platforms and enforcing the law. That way, there's no conflict of interest, real or perceived.”
TPJ: Most of the corrupt officials it seems were hold-overs from the Bush administration, which we all know was very close with oil and gas companies. For example, we still don't know what the closed door energy meetings between Cheney and the fossil fuel industry executives was about but it is clear that afterward regulations and restrictions fell by the wayside.

The other issue is that the federal government can't do much more than BP is doing simply because for too long the oil industry has been allowed to basically run the whole show. Up until now past administrations have ceded so much power and control to these industries that we are at their mercy. The government simply doesn't have the technology that BP does to handle these types of situations but I am confident that this will now change under President Obama in the wake of this disaster:

But then should not the government acquire the knowledge and ability to handle future blowouts? Those familiar with the technology of offshore drilling say probably not. What is needed, they say, is a strengthening of the federal safety requirements demanded of the oil companies — new regulations and enhanced oversight of the entire offshore process to avoid such a calamity. President Barack Obama already has ordered such a study, and Congress can be expected to follow suit. Its own investigation already has discovered BP apparently made decisions based on economy rather than safety, and federal regulators were lax in oversight.

Rationally there is little the president could do outside angrily "jawboning" the oil company and the builder of the rig that exploded five weeks ago.
TPJ: So, again, while I think Obama could have shown a stronger sense of outrage and connection with the public on this matter sooner, I also don't think it's fair to say that he's not doing everything he could because as we saw there isn't much that the government can do. And isn't it ironic that everyone says government should stay out of the way of business but when business screws up in a major way everyone wants the government to save the day. However, if the government hasn't been in the business of "saving the day" because of a hands off approach toward the oil industry then how can they be expected to be able to do much more than the offending company? You can't have it both ways America.

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Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Company that Made Toxic Oil Dispersant is Headed by Former BP Official.

Rep. John Hall (D-N.Y.) used some of his time in the House Transportation and Infrastructure hearing Wednesday to grill the head of BP America, Lamar McKay, over the company's choice of an oil dispersant that is rated as more toxic and less effective than several others. Hall noted that the company that makes the dispersant, Nalco Holding, has a former BP executive on its board. He was referring to Rodney F. Chase, a veteran of the British oil giant, who sits on the board of Nalco. Stock prices of Nalco rose on news that it was providing large quantities of the dispersant to be used in the spill.

TPJ: This is a story that most in the media have overlooked in the chaos of stories splitting off from the original oil blow out incident. Is there any question then, why, BP (a British company) chose to use this toxic dispersant that has been banned (ironically) in the UK if there were less toxic dispersants available? It seems clear to me that BP chose to use this Corexit 9500 dispersant because of a cozy connection to the head of the company who makes that product, which probably gained BP a cheaper price.

I hope the forthcoming investigations touch on this connection further because it's clear there is some serious questions of malfeasance involved. Especially given how this Corexit 9500 turns out to be so toxic--we now have two chemical disasters in the Gulf thanks to that substance!! This Gulf Coast oil disaster should tell us why too little regulation (you can thank the Republican Party for that) is flirting with disaster in any industry but especially the dangerous ones like oil and mining.


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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

BP Oil Blow Out Delivers Second Blow to Louisiana Culture.

As some of you know I have had the pleasure to visit Louisiana four times and absorb their unique culture thanks to my parents-in-law who have lived there now for roughly a decade. So, when the deadly Hurricane Katrina churned toward Louisiana we were worried for not only our relatives but the culture that we had come to love. We all know by now the devastation that Hurricane Katrina caused to New Orleans but especially hard hit was the African-American community, which has a culture unique to even the overall black community in America.

It is the delta black community that brought us the beautiful, powerful and emotional gift of the blues and jazz, which heavily influenced the emergence of rock n' roll. One couldn't go a few blocks without hearing it or seeing a dance hall with people boogieing to the blues. But with big bad Katrina that community is decimated--many still haven't moved back and probably won't. It breaks my heart to see such a unique culture face dire times.

When we first visited the Pelican State my father-in-law drove us down to the Mississippi river delta as far as you can go before you run into the Gulf of Mexico. It was cool to see all the different channels of water that emerge at the end point of that great river and cut through green marches that harbor exotic birds, alligators and other animals such as turtles. The French Cajun culture is hard to miss down there with their stilted homes, ubiquitous fishing boat next to the car and the vibrantly colored Cajun style restaurants animating the environs with lively Cajun music. Instead of buildings, down there you see the tops of shrimp boats sticking up above the tall grasses. However, this BP oil volcano has jeopardized that way of life too, which is another one of the most unique (and oldest) cultures in America.

What many don't know (and what I learned from my father-in-law who works in the sugar cane industry down there) is that the wetlands, marches and bayous that protect the state from big storms have been in trouble for decades. The cause of that is a familiar one--the oil industry. They have pumped so much oil and gas from deep below those wetlands that the ground literally is sinking from lack of structure to what little land there was. So, the ground level dips below sea level and salt water rushes in. It kills off the swaths of mangroves, grasses, and one of my favorite trees that is common to Louisiana--the Cyprus tree, with all the eerily beautiful moss that hangs from its branches. Thus, the barrier reefs disappear.

So, even before the BP oil volcano exploded the wetlands and nesting grounds for a diverse group of animals was under dire threat. The brown pelican (the state bird) which is now being heavily affected by this was just lifted from the endangered species list not long before this oil blow out. So, I ask, "How much more can Louisiana take before it's beloved and iconic cultures fade until it becomes just another boring, cooking-cutter American state? This isn't just an emergency of the environment, it's also an emergency for an entire state's way of life that dates back to before it was apart of America!! I hope that Louisiana can bounce back from yet another crippling blow. We can't let Louisiana choke to death. Especially now that we are entering hurricane season. We can't abide an oil tsunami!! Enough is enough. We can't let, "The Pelican State" become, "The Dead Pelican State!!"

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Monday, May 24, 2010

Rand Paul Would Eliminate Department of Education.

By Valerie Strauss, The Washington Post

[Kentucky Republican Senate candidate Rand] Paul has made clear during the campaign that he would, if he could, abolish the Education Department, [and] eliminate all federal funding to education.

TPJ: This would obviously include federal government grants to help young adults attend college. So, basically Paul's position means that only the wealthiest students would be able to afford college without going into major debt at a young age from having to take on crippling student loans.

It's most important role, however, is to step in and help state and local governments' fund education in times of crisis such as now with this Great Recession. That is why Paul's views coinciding with this economic crisis are all the more reckless. If he and others like him had abolished the DoE then this recession would have seen countless schools having to close. That's not the kind of leadership that I think Kentuckians would want.

It is thus my hope that citizens of that wonderful state see that Dr. Rand Paul is to radical to lead them in the federal government. As someone who is so opposed to government as Pauls is, you have to wonder why he wants to be in government in the first place!!


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Sunday, May 23, 2010

Rand Paul Appears to Oppose a Minimum Wage.

[Dr. Rand] Paul was unwilling to say unequivocally that the Federal government has a proper role in setting the minimum wage. The exchange comes at the 7:45 mark of the interview:

STEPHANOPOULOS: Should the Federal government be able to set a minimum wage?

PAUL: It's not a question of whether they can or cannot. I think that's decided. I think the question you have to ask is whether or not when you set the minimum wage it may cause unemployment.

Paul went on to argue that a high minimum wage risks pushing up unemployment among unskilled workers. Paul was asked a straight Yes or No question: Does the Federal government have a valid role setting minimum wage? He declined to answer.

TPJ: He danced around it but clearly he's not in favor of the minimum wage--he's learning how to be a politician and give a non-answer to an obvious question. We're not stupid Dr. Paul, we know how to read between the lines. Just because you don't come right out and say the words, "I think the minimum wage is a bad idea and should be done away with" doesn't mean that's not what comes across in your answer. As to the substance of the issue of the minimum wage itself, the following is in part why reducing the minimum wage is a bad idea:

Removing the minimum wage in an economy is akin to cutting wages all across the economy as Capitalist firms will scramble over each other in their rush to reduce costs. This will take the form of forcing employee wages to their cost (ie their subsistence) while simultaneously increasing the work hours that are allowed per day. However to assume that reducing wages to their cost will reduce unemployment is to assume that the labour market can clear, like any other commodity. That is, the market will reach an equilibrium where supply of labour equals demand.

However this is not the case. The labour market cannot not clear. Reducing wages in the economy means that people will not be able to afford the lifestyle they had until that point. This means that people may decide to start getting a second job, or work more hours, or more family members will start working, from a younger or older age as well. This will increase supply rather than fulfill the current demand. You will get the same or rising unemployment while wages stagnate or drop.

This is because if worker wages drop while commodity prices remain the same, so does their real wage and thus their purchasing power. This means less spending and thus less profits for companies. This would mean a cut in production and further laying off of workers and *loss* of positions. Unemployment would rise. In truth, minimum wages do not cause unemployment in the least. This is something supported by a large number of empirical evidence such as the Reagan period where minimum wage declined while unemployment became chronic.
TPJ: The minimum wage was instituted to help the blue-collar working class earn a living wage who don't have the same protections and opportunities as wealthy and well-connected workers/citizens. In addition it helps protect the less educated from being worked to death for pennies because they don't have the skills or know-how to obtain a better job where they couldn't as easily be taken advantage of. When you live in an environment of generational poverty, which prevents you from going to school to increase your employment options and chances for upward mobility. Thus gaining a diverse skill-set to increase your chances of employment in varying sectors you need a certain level of guaranteed protections in the workplace to prevent you from being taken advantage of by your employer who knows you have no other way to find a job in a different field. The minimum wage is important for the rest of us too in that it is a hedge against civil unrest because as Bob Marley says, "A hungry mob is an angry mob."

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Friday, May 21, 2010

Rand Paul: Champion of BP Against Full Accountability.

The Tea Party favorite, [Rand Paul] in an interview with ABC's "Good Morning America" on Friday morning, accused the Obama administration of being too tough on BP -- the oil company directly responsible for the massive spill in the Gulf. "What I don't like from the president's administration is this sort of 'I'll put my boot heel on the throat of BP.' I think that sounds really un-American in his criticism of business," he said. "I've heard nothing from BP about not paying for the spill. And I think it's part of this sort of blame game society in the sense that it's always got to be someone's fault instead of the fact that sometimes accidents happen."

TPJ: First of all Rand, this BP nightmare in the Gulf of Mexico wasn't an "accident." It was the direct result of blatant negligence and lax regulations, which haven't been changed in two decades. And, yes, BP has stated that they will pay for all of this but that's not the only issue at hand. The other issue is staying on BP to clean up as much of this mess as possible and the only organization with enough power to keep them on top of things is the government. In addition to accountability. You can't cause such a massive How is it un-American to want to hold a company accountable for destroying our environment?

Defending our environment to ensure the healthiest and most enjoyable atmosphere to live in; as well as protecting the livelihoods of those involved in fishing and tourism is very much American. It is standing up for the average, middle-class American who usually has no recourse against giant corporations when they take advantage of them. So, I guess for Mr. Paul companies should be allowed to do whatever they want. After all he has stated clearly with his Civil Rights Act and Americans with Disabilities Act positions that private businesses should be pretty much completely unfettered by government. This defense of BP is more proof. Obviously he has forgotten the history of America in regards to corporations taking advantage of the people, and the environment for record profits.

That was the case during the Robber Baron days in the 1800s when you had giant businesses choking the American worker and holding government hostage to do their bidding. Companies like Standard Oil run by the ruthless John D. Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie's steel monopoly. In addition to J.P. Morgan's bank dominance. Those were the days when the American worker was treated like a serf, without adequate pay, little down time and terrible working conditions. We've returned to those days too much already, so having a Rand Paul in the Senate would seem to only quicken that decline. He's showing once again his reckless naivete.

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Kentucky Republican Senate Candidate Rand Paul is an Enemy to Americans with Disabilities.

Rand Paul is an extremely radical Republican candidate for Senate in the great state of Kentucky. He has recently come under criticism for his disagreement with key provisions of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and 1968. Click here to read my post for commentary upon that issue but this post will be dedicated to his position in regard to the Americans with Disabilities Act, which he opposes:

Paul was asked whether he supports the Americans with Disabilities Act, the landmark 1990 legislation that established a prohibition of discrimination on the basis of disability. Paul said he advocates local governments to decide whether disabled individuals deserve rights. Requiring businesses to provide access to disabled people, Paul argued, isn’t “fair to the business owner.”
PAUL: You know a lot of things on employment ought to be done locally. You know, people finding out right or wrong locally. You know, some of the things, for example we can come up with common sense solutions — like for example if you have a three story building and you have someone apply for a job, you get them a job on the first floor if they’re in a wheelchair as supposed to making the person who owns the business put an elevator in, you know what I mean? So things like that aren’t fair to the business owner.
Handsome B. Wonderful: Being someone who is disabled because of Schizoaffective disorder I find Paul's comments to be inappropriate at best and discriminatory at worst. He has no idea what it's like to be disabled and be discriminated against for not being in the mainstream. Why should the disabled be forced to live a life of less accommodation simply because we were born with a disability or had one befall us from an accident? So, please, if you live in Kentucky do not vote for this man. If you're not a political person or often voter but like what I write or who I am then please, go register and vote against this guy for me. Vote for his opponent. Do it for the rest of the disabled who are too often ignored and pushed aside.

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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Rand Paul and the Civil Rights Act.

Kentucky Republican Senate hopeful, Rand Paul was recently interviewed by the Louisville Courier-Journal about his views of civil rights.

: Would you have voted for the civil rights act of 1964?

PAUL: I like the civil rights act in the sense that it ended discrimination in all public domains and I'm all in favor of that. I don't like the idea of telling private business owners--I abhor racism and think it's a bad business decision to exclude anybody from your restaurant but at the same time I do believe in private ownership. I think there should be absolutely no discrimination in anything that gets public funding and that's most of what the civil rights act was about to my mind. I look at the speeches of Martin Luther King and I get emotional watching them. I liked him because he was a great trans-formative figure but he was a believer. What I don't like about most politicians is there's almost none of them but he was a true believer. And he fought government injustice, and those were governmental rules and laws that forbade riding the bus or sitting in different parts of the bus or drinking from certain water fountains. All of that should have ended and it's a great occurrence that it did.

QUESTION: But under your philosophy it would be o.k. for Dr. King not to be served at the counter at Woolworths.

PAUL: I would not got to that Woolworths, I'd stand up in my community and say it's abhorrent but the hard part; and this is the hard part about believing in freedom. If you believe in the first amendment for example [...] you understand that people can say bad things. It's the same way with other behaviors. If in a free society we'll tolerate boorish people with abhorrent behavior but as civilized people we publicly criticize that, don't belong to those groups or associate with those people.

QUESTION: But it's different with race because, certainly for 100 years, discrimination based on a race was codified by federal law.

Exactly. It was institutionalized. That's why we had to end all the institutional racism and I am in favor completely of that.

James: What Rand Paul is saying is perfectly clear--He's all for the Civil Rights Act as it pertains to public institutions and services but not for private businesses. So, given that the scope of the act includes public and private services, Rand Paul does not support the Civil Rights Act. As with many Libertarian ideas, Rand Paul's vision of self-policing based on an assumed good nature of humanity is naive at best, and creates an environment for discrimination and racism to flourish.

His policy of relying upon the good nature of the community to rise up and boycott a store banning anyone based on the color of their skin doesn't work in an all white town that still clings to old time, racist beliefs. He doesn't know the racial beliefs that dominate all towns and cities in America. He can't assume that racism and discrimination is over as it certainly isn't. Paul's ideology certainly wouldn't have worked in the 1960s. Nor in his home state of Kentucky given the history of Kentucky supporting the Old Southern ways of racism.

I'm sure Kentucky's black population, which is 8% would have a lot of disagreement with Paul's position. He's completely disregarding the votes of the black community in his state by stating such views. If we honestly believe that all men are created equal then we owe it to ourselves to give everyone the same opportunities. Allowing businesses to only sell to white people is not in keeping with that sacred belief. He is asking to overturn 50 years of settled law by the supreme court and revert our society back to the days of the 1960s. In addition to over-looking the Civil Rights Act of 1968, which mandates no discrimination in private housing. Where does he stand on that act? Probably against that one too because it again requires a business treat people equally--what a horrible thing to do!! (sarcasm).

But why stop at the 1960s? Why not go back to the 1860s? Given his extreme assertion of states rights someone should ask him if he believes states have the right to secede. For example, what if a state argues that it has the right to secede because they agree with Paul in that their state should have to require businesses to serve minorities? You might say it's a ridiculous question because it would never happen but if Paul had his way that possibility would be more likely to happen than now given the scope of the Civil Right's Act. Do we really want to flirt with that line?

Paul tries to connect having to allow racist comments in a society due to the first amendment with allowing outright discriminatory actions. The difference is the action. If a racist who in the past used racist comments then turns to actively inflicting their racist beliefs upon citizens then we have a problem. What Paul is supporting is allowing racist beliefs to be put into action against our fellow citizens. If Paul had his way, restaurants would still be allowed to segregate lunch counters and private universities banning interracial dating. These are issues that I don't think most Americans we would want to return to.

The other issue I have with Paul's dissection of the Civil Rights Act is that I don't think that this ban is as big an issue for most businesses as maybe Rand Paul believes. I doubt many business owners think their business is being ruined or whatever from having to serve and sell to minority races. Businesses have been supporting this law for decades and I just don't see why separating public discrimination from private discrimination is necessary. It certainly isn't a reason to get rid of, or redo the Civil Rights Act. One thing is certainly clear, Rand Paul's beliefs and ideology is too radical for Kentucky. It is definitely so for the U.S. Senate where the complicated nature of issues dealt with require a mind less naive and simplistic as that of Rand Paul. Kentucky, please don't soil your great state by electing such a radical.

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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Amount of Oil Leaking in Gulf of Mexico Still Unknown. Oil Slick Headed for Florida.

Following the rig explosion on April 20 BP said about 1,000 barrels of oil a day were leaking into the Gulf of Mexico, an estimate the Coast Guard later raised to 5,000 barrels a day. Now, on day 25, there's speculation that the gusher could be as much as five times as big. Oceanographer Ian MacDonald, from Florida State University, told the New York Times that he his analysis showed that the daily spillage could "easily be four or five times" the government's estimate -- or 25,000 barrels.

James: And yet, BP is claiming that they are collecting 40% of the gushing oil via that tube they inserted into the leaking pipe. How can they claim that if they don't know how much oil is leaking? We shouldn't be trusting these guys any further than we can throw them--into the oil slick that is.

The Obama administration is actively trying to dismiss media reports that vast plumes of oil lurk beneath the surface of the Gulf of Mexico, unmeasured and uncharted. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, whose job it is to assess and track the damage being caused by the BP oil spill that began four weeks ago, is only monitoring what's visible -- the slick on the Gulf's surface -- and currently does not have a single research vessel taking measurements below.

James: That is outrageous. I've been wondering why we haven't heard more from the government about what's really going on down there. It's appalling that we don't have a vessel down there and are simply relying upon reports and video from the company who caused the disaster in the first place!! Given that they skirted what little regulations there were in place to keep explosions like this from happening, I don't see any reason to believe what they're telling us. Don't we have some Navy equipment that we can use to monitor things at the leak site? BP has all these remote mini-subs down there, so don't we have those and if so, why aren't they down there??? The government should be leading the effort to stop this leak and clean the ocean as much is possible.

I don't see a point in having a government at all if we can't even protect the people from corporate disasters like this, nor stop them once they occur!! Government is supposed to protect us from disasters, not cause them as seems in part likely given that the agencies within government charged with preventing such catastrophes failed miserably. In some cases they flat out didn't do their job. They failed to heed the warnings of sorely needed regulation during the deregulation happy Bush administration, and unfortunately the Obama administration hadn't changed anything since taking office. Irregardless Obama doesn't look very good in having ok-ed new offshore drilling. Meanwhile, BP, seemingly undeterred by the Coast Guard is trying to keep reporters from filming the effects of this oil on the beaches:

Watch CBS News Videos Online
James: Excuse me? BP is telling free citizens of these United States that they can't go and visit these beaches to assess damage? BP doesn't own those beaches--WE DO GODDAMN IT!! That is PUBLIC LAND and we have a right to know what BP/Transocean/Halliburton has done to our wonderful beaches and wetlands. If I was the Louisiana government I'd be down at the beaches telling BP to (excuse my language) "FUCK OFF." So, what's with the Coast Guard officials on the boat saying basically that they don't have any say in preventing BP from pushing reporters and civilians around? Again, what is the point of government regulation and authority if they buckle to the demands of BP?!! Especially after the trust they blew up along with that offshore rig!!

Meanwhile, as you can see from the picture at the top of this post the oil slick is heading into the Gulf Loop Current, which means it will take the oil through the Florida Straights. Thus, soaking the delicate and unique coral reefs located there, which is even more tragic when you consider all the medical advances that are being made thanks to help from sea life in that area. Just a year of so ago they found a bacteria living in the straights/reefs that shows promise in curing cancer!!

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Thursday, May 13, 2010

VIDEO: Oil Gushing into Gulf of Mexico.

TPJ: This is the video of the oil not spilling but gushing into the Gulf of Oil, er. I mean Mexico. This is what we're up against. Using the word spill makes it sound likes like, "Oops, I spilled some milk." No, this is a major gusher.

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Monday, May 10, 2010

BP Oil Disaster Solution: Plug Hole with Golf Balls, Old Tires and other Junk.

McClatchy Newspapers

BILOXI, Mississippi -- If you can't turn it off, try clogging it: Golf balls and shredded tires may be the latest solution to stop a leak spewing crude into the Gulf, a top Coast Guard official said Sunday morning. "The next tactic is going to be something they call a junk shot," U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Thad Allen said on Face the Nation.

TPJ: However, "experts" are saying that there could be problems with this method. REALLY??? What could possibly go wrong from with the tried and true, "Wing-It method" which sounds like it was hatched while a bunch of redneck guys sat around, drank beer and got drunk? What's next? Duct tape? These "scientists" and "engineers" at BP must have received their degrees from the University of Cutting Corners."

From what I've heard, these oil company executives clearly have no clue what to do at those depths. Thanks to years of packing the courts with ringers, these companies haven't had to deal with regulations requiring they be able to get out of those depths as safely and easily as they get into them.

And wouldn't this, "plug" (if it even works) cause pressure to build up until at some later date it blows again??? It sure sounds like it, and I have no faith whatsoever that BP knows what to do to fix this nightmare.

Then you've got Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal who famously trashed government spending/intervention after the Great Bush Recession. This is the same guy who now wants that very same government intervention to pay to clean this all up. Of course the government should help but you can't say the government can't do anything right, and then expect them to come in and fix everything when there's a mess you can't deal with. This just underlines what the adults in the political room have known for awhile--there are some problems that are just too big for one company, state or region to recover from, and that is where government comes into play.

Expecting to live without government intervention is like thinking you don't need the guard dog to protect you while you sleep in the jungle. Therefore, I expect Jindal, and all the other right-wing critics of government to thank the government after this is all over, but I'm not holding my breath in anticipation.

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Friday, May 07, 2010

Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Still Affecting Alaska Communities.

(Green Man's commentary follows the news article below):

From Dan Simon and Augie Martin, CNN

Cordova, Alaska (CNN)
-- For third-generation fisherman John Platt, the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill is a financial and psychological nightmare that won't end. Three years after the 11 million-gallon spill in Prince William Sound blackened 1,500 miles of Alaska coastline, the herring on which he and other Cordova fishermen heavily relied disappeared from the area. Platt and some others stuck around, fishing for salmon and hoping things would improve. The herring never returned to Cordova. Platt's income plummeted, severely straining his marriage and psyche. He dipped into his sons' college funds to support his family.

"I wasted 20 years of my life," he said. Platt and other people in the Alaskan village of about 2,500 people say they still are suffering economically and emotionally 21 years after the oil disaster. The herring loss alone has cost the region about $400 million over the past 21 years, according to R.J. Kopchak, a former fisherman who is now developmental director at Cordova's Prince William Sound Science Center. The average fisherman suffered a 30 percent loss in income after the spill, but those who specialized in just herring lost everything, Kopchak said.

The surface oil from the spill had largely disappeared within three years of the spill, according to studies conducted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Office of Response and Restoration. But oil residue still can be found on the shore. "It is a lingering problem, as they say, with no easy solution," Kopchak said.

Money from Exxon hasn't made the fishermen's problems disappear. Besides the $2.5 billion that Exxon is estimated to have paid for the cleanup, it reportedly paid $300 million soon after the disaster to 11,000 fishermen, fish processors and others affected. In 1994, a federal jury ordered Exxon to pay $5 billion in punitive damages, but appeals reduced that award to $507.5 million. Last year, a federal court ordered Exxon to also pay $470 million in interest on the punitive damages. Platt says he has received about $600,000 from Exxon. But most of it was used to clear liens on his fishing permits and boats, he said.

TPJ: This makes me think about all this talk about "cleaning up" these oil spills. We need to be careful when talking about "cleaning this up" because it will never be fully cleaned up, and after the cameras and journalists go away the people who live there can't as easily leave. Their whole lives are there in that region (families, friends, churches, schooling, etc) and their way of life, (whether it be fishing or farming) is all they know how to do.

It's good, honest work but even their strong traditions can't over-come a disaster like this. They're stuck in this oily nightmare for decades at least. Perhaps what's worse though is that the oil guys will have to go back to doing that dangerous and dirty job again because that's what they are trained in. Yet B.P. will recover and be back to making billions every time their CEO takes a breath that they'll be fine. They won't be the one's to feel the brunt of this disaster that they caused.

In a related note, as you know I adore animals and seeing all these sea turtles, birds and fish sick or dying because of this disaster makes me wonder if we can nail these oil bastards with animal cruelty laws. I bet we could. We should be hitting them with every charge we can think of but even then it wouldn't make up for this nightmare. The tooth paste (or oil in this instance) can't be put back into the tube.

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Wednesday, May 05, 2010

BP Liability Cap Should be Raised to $10 Billion.

WASHINGTON - As calmer weather in the Gulf gave crews a chance to help buffer the Gulf Coast from the massive oil leak still offshore, the White House and Democratic lawmakers on Tuesday moved to change a law that caps BP's liability for economic damages at $75 million. The goal: Raise that cap to $10 billion.

TPJ: (WARNING: Cuss words ahead. Watch for falling "F bombs"). They damn well better be paying every cent on this environmental and economic disaster because they hardly pay any taxes to the U.S. government. They were incorporated first in the Cayman Islands and now in Switzerland, which are both known to be tax havens for companies who want to evade paying taxes. These businesses want to take advantage of our economy and our environment but when they fuck up they want the government to do all the clean up.

You'll hear people bitch and moan that making them pay that much will hurt the U.S. oil industry--bullshit. These companies make a billion dollars quicker than it takes a person on lunch break to shit. And what about the jobs of the hard-working but not billionaire shrimp, fish and oyster guys and gals? Who's going to worry about their jobs?

Why should we defend a multi-billion dollar multi-national oil conglomerate at the expense of the average, blue-collar worker? These rich fucks in the oil industry will make back this clean-up money by the time Christmas rolls around. Irrespective of that, most of these fisher people, tourist companies and others who rely upon a clean environment for work will be ruined--perhaps for life.

Meanwhile, "An impromptu recovery fleet rushed to an uninhabited US island chain in the Gulf of Mexico as the leading edge of a giant oil slick reached its shores. The islands form the easternmost point of Louisiana and are part of the Breton National Wildlife Refuge -- the second oldest refuge in the United States and home to countless endangered brown pelican, least tern and piping plover shorebirds."

At what point is enough, enough? We love to vacation to pristine Florida but what if their cobalt blue waters were pitch black? What if instead of sand getting in your shoes and swimsuit it was jelly-like oil globules? How far do we want to destroy our environment in the name of "progress?" It worries me that by the time the majority of the country and world figure that out--it will be too late. They're going to learn real quick though that our impact upon nature hurts us too when their fish at their favorite posh restaurant costs double and takes like petroleum.

It seems like many of these "progress at all costs" people would be fine with no marine life in the oceans to marvel at and enjoy. That they wouldn't mind oil rigs jutting out from the top of half-dome in Yosemite National Park. That they'd be fine with Mount Rushmore being blown-up to look for coal. I know you think that Jesus is going to come just in the nick of time to save everything but (if you're right, and Jesus does return) how do you think he'll react to our having dumped garbage in his garden? Don't you think he'd be just a little pissed off that we turn his greatest creation into a toxic cesspool of death?

And leave it up to America to allow the clean up of toxic chemicals in the ocean by using yet another chemical!!!! "Oil-dispersing chemicals used to clean the vast BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico carry their own environmental risks, making a toxic soup that could endanger marine creatures even as it keeps the slick from reaching the vulnerable coast, wildlife watchdogs say." It seems we won't stop until we've killed every last living thing on this planet--what a legacy.

I can just imagine the alien species that will discover our remains millions of years from now. They would most likely look at us as deserving of being "phased out." This whole thing makes me so mad I might just spit nails. If I didn't fear the law so much I'd trespass onto the property of these BP executives and dump a bunch of oil into their swimming pools and ask how they'd like their children having to swim in that shit. Then when they'd recoil in horror I'd say--"Well, how do you think the animals like being awash in that liquid death? Of course I'd never do something like that but it sure feels good to think about it. What assholes humans can be.

PHOTO CREDIT: Oily beach at Gulfport, Mississippi by Ben Gruber/Reuters

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Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Michael, "Heck of a Job Brownie" Criticizes Obama on BP Oil Disaster.

So, "Heck of a job Brownie" (of Hurricane Katrina infamy) is saying Obama wasn't quick enough to respond to the oil disaster in some cynical attempt to reverse course on his offshore drilling decision to bolster his support amongst us liberals. As well as some wild accusation that Obama is "exploiting" this oil disaster to attack the coal industry!!!! Brownie, you're insanity is doing a heck of a job!! Well, for one, he is still planning on going ahead with offshore drilling and is putting a momentary moratorium on it. He's not announced that he's totally going to reverse course--much to my chagrin.

What's more, Hurricane Katrina was known to hit DAYS in advance, was known to be massive, and for 3 days straight television channels pumped the desperate plight of the citizens of the Gulf Coast onto television screens hours. Yet Brownie and Bush were asleep at the switch. I guess Bush was right when he said he didn't pay much attention to the news. This oil rig explosion on the other hand was a total surprise to everyone but BP. When the rig blew up the people at BP played down the issue and said only a small amount of oil was leaking.

BP didn't tell anyone the extent of the damage initially, so of course the feds didn't react at zero hour. They went in with the Coast Guard as soon as the extent was made evident. I'm not sure what Brownie is even suggesting Obama could have done better? If Obama had somehow known the extent of the initial damage by having a spy or god knows what on that rig, and flown out there and took over the operation personally then people would have labeled him again as "taking over business." He's damned if he does and damned if he doesn't, so to speak.

Mike Brown criticizing anyone on disaster response would be laughable if it weren't so shameless. He's trying to use the horror of this epic oil explosion to clear his name. You're a petty and bitter man Mr. Brown and it's beneath Obama to even respond to your whines. But I'm happy to put you in your place. Trying thinking about someone else for a change you sniveling burnt light bulb.

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Monday, May 03, 2010

Latino Republicans Consider Leaving Party over Arizona Law.


Adam Bustos, a third-generation Mexican-American, has voted Republican since Ronald Reagan ran for president. But he has been reconsidering his party affiliation since Arizona State Gov. Jan Brewer signed the nation's toughest immigration law last month.

"I've been thinking I might leave the party," said Mr. Bustos, a 58-year-old Arizona native. "A lot of my Latino Republican friends have been talking about it after this law."

TPJ: I don't agree with everything the Democratic Party does but I often find myself in agreement with them and am proud that they have been the party of minorities for decades now. Democratic President Lyndon Johnson knew that signing the civil right's act in the 1960s would cede the South to the Republican Party for at least a generation but he went ahead with it because it was the right thing to do. As well as the American thing to do. We have been a multi-ethnic country from the beginning and so for the Republicans to now draw the line at Latinos is not only insulting its not in keeping with our welcoming tradition.

The other thing I like about the Democrats is that they fight for people that are often over-looked by our modern society. They are also the party between the two main parties that supports comprehensive immigration reform. So, I can understand why many Latino Republicans are rethinking their party affiliation given this new racial profiling law in Arizona. I have seen much anti-Latino feelings amongst the Republicans for years now and have seen the contempt rise and grow into racism. So, I want to welcome any Latinos out there who feel disenfranchised by the Republican Party to come to the Democratic Party were we not only welcome diversity but celebrate it!! We welcome you with open arms as fellow Americans and together--Si Se puede!!

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