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I served in the US Navy from 2002-08; four of those years were as a Nuclear Propulsion Operator aboard an aircraft carrier. I engage in political activism in various Democratic circles when I am able to. I have a cat, and I am an uncle.

All opinions that I express are my own and do not reflect the views of any organization that I represent.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

BP: BEYOND PATHETIC


Mr. Hayward, you can have your life back once the Gulf Coast returns to its life before the events of April 20, 2010.
In the meantime (at 11:15 of the clip): “What Jon Stewart says!”
We are at the two month anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon explosion and subsequent oil spill. Every method has been tried to plug this leak: top hat, the kill shot, bottom kill, and now cut-and-cap. So far the previous efforts to stop the spill have failed. There was even the discussion of a nuclear option. No, this is not the euphemism referring to a last resort option, but actually detonating a nuclear warhead underwater to stop the oil flow. 

Not only am I abhorrently against this idea of using a nuclear warhead to stop the leak because it falls into the category of using nuclear power for destructive means but now you are turning an environmental disaster into something I cannot even find the words to describe. I have a few words in mind, but they are VERY inflammatory. And guess what? You still have to clean up the mess. Cleaning up oil is one thing, but oil with radioactive elements is a whole other nightmare that I cannot imagine. Also, I am certain that it does violate some nuclear weapons treaties. And once again, you still have to clean it up. 
Whoever came up with THAT idiotic idea should have been smacked on the head and placed on a permanent list where they are instantly discredited because of such stupidity and/or association with stupidity. Removal from this list? There is no way to get off the list. (Ex: the guy who came up with New Coke, the people behind “Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire”, doctors who tell parents not to immunize their kids, Sarah Palin, Lonesome Rhodes Beck… actually anyone that works for Fox News and their affiliates)
POLITICS
The people who warned us and shouted against the supposed federal government takeover of the health care industry are now demanding the federal government to do something.
Wait? I thought you people were against the government intervening in private business matters. After all, this is BP’s spill. They should take of it. Private industry is great at doing those things.
Rep. Michele Bachmann (Insane R MN-6), who at this time last year claimed that the Census was an evil government plot and spoke at various “Kill the Bill” rallies, recently criticized the federal government’s lack of involvement in dealing with the disaster.
During the spring 2010 semester, there was an article in the school paper by the UNT College Republicans Chair that echoed those same arguments about too much money being spent on the Census and it being intrusive. Here was my response. I tried to calmly explain to this tool individual that the Census is supported by the Constitution and I even cited court cases that ruled that the questions they ask are not an infringement on our rights. And if you scroll down, you can find his response. I would have responded back, but having a discussion with him as Barney Frank once said, “would have been like arguing with the dining room table.” (I am probably paraphrasing.)
Here is what the Village Idiot Congresswoman from Minnesota had to say about the oil spill:
Then there were comparisons that this was going to be “Obama’s Katrina.” First of all this oil spill came completely out of nowhere and when it did happen the government did anticipate the worst (60-150K barrels/day). However, BP downplayed it claiming that the leak rate was only 1000 barrels of oil per day. Then it was 5000 barrels per day. Now it is somewhere between 20-40K barrels/day (and I suspect that the higher number in that figure is the really low end of a larger number that is probably closer to the government’s original prediction.)
Hurricane Katrina, in terms of the toll on human life, was avoidable. It is expected that from June 1 to November 1 a hurricane will make landfall somewhere along the US Southeastern Atlantic and Gulf coasts. The National Weather Service issues a warning of where a hurricane may make landfall and how intense it is going to be (I watched The Weather Channel as a kid growing up. I know this stuff). There was ample time and warning to get people to higher ground. However, there was clearly no evacuation plan for New Orleans most vulnerable citizens. We have all seen the tragic scenes of people at the New Orleans Convention Center and Superdome screaming and pleading for help. There were the helicopter shots of people on the rooftops of houses in the flooded Lower Ninth Ward begging for someone to come get them. A response did arrive… THREE DAYS LATER.
The US Coast Guard was on the scene from Day 1 of the spill to conduct a rescue operation of the eleven men that were killed in the explosion and help with the potential clean up. BP told the government they would take care of it and that it was a tiny spill. Clearly, they didn’t. The oil spill has also exposed a much larger issue of how involved the government is with the oil companies. Specifically how the Mineral Management Services was in bed (literally) with Big Oil and stories of drug usage from 2007 (snorting crystal meth off a toaster oven?) began to see the light of day in Part 1 and Part 2 of this story.
With Katrina there is also the issue of levees. They were only built to withstand a Category 3 Hurricane and if the storm surge missed the city of New Orleans. In hurricanes, most of the damage is not done by the wind or the rain, but the storm surge (Galveston Hurricane 1900). Katrina was a Category 5 and the storm surge hit the city, obviously a worst case scenario that came to life. That falls into the short-sightedness we have as a country which I will talk about next. A good example of that short-sightedness is our US Highway system. If you live in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and you have ever driven Loop 820 before, take a look at this video. That 6 mile stretch of freeway from 35W (Exit 16AB) to Airport Freeway (Exit 22B) outlived its usefulness FIFTEEN years ago.
What can the government do? They can either do nothing which during the Congressional campaign in October, you see attack ads that say the government did nothing. Or, they take over the spill cleanup operations, but then in same time period you hear the Republicans and the cancers of Beck, O’Reilly, Limbaugh (Quote from Law & Order: SVU, Episode: Anchor) claiming that the government took over the oil industry. Oh, BP would have cleaned it up. There goes the government, infringing on our freedom.
Right… the freedom to screw up the planet?
Sigh: Damned if you do; damned if you don’t!
To quote a relative: “In the end we all want big government.”
THE WHITE HOUSE
No time for calmness Mr. President. We do not need Barack Obama anymore.
It’s time to get angry.
Mad.
We need…

No be alarmed. The Rock Obama much like Barack Obama. Only angier, more impulsive.
Katie, hold calls. (Smashes phone violently)
You, BP. Why Gulf Coast mess?
SPEAK.
Tony Hayward: Uh…. Uh… (stammering) Blow out preventer…. Explosion... Leak rate very, very small… Ocean huge so no impact… (still stammering)
Hmmm…. Is interesting.
Me no like BP.
YOU NOW OUT WINDOW! (Picks up Tony Hayward)
Rham Emanuel: Don’t worry. It’s only the first floor.
(Rock Obama tosses Tony Hayward out the window!)
(Note: HORRIBLE, HORRIBLE impersonations)
Yesterday, President Obama gave two speeches: a well known televised address from the Oval Office and the other a speech to service members at NAS Pensacola, Pensacola, FL. I think he made a very key point about this oil spill in his Pensacola speech. (Entire Pensacola speech)
This oil spill is an attack on our country, and the way of life of the residents along the Gulf Coast. I think he made that point in the Oval Office address as well.
About the Oval Office address, I felt that the President made the point that the government is on top of it as they have been since the spill happened two months ago. With anything that takes place in government, there is probably a lot of stuff that is taking place behind the scenes that the news does not report. It is not like a policy is formulated in one day. Again, I cite the health care bill or better yet the process to overturn DADT. From the time of the most recent first House hearing on the topic to the vote on the floor of the House of Representatives it took almost two years.
Here is what stands out to me in the address. I think the timing was off. It would have been better to address this issue sooner (I agree with a friend about this). The speech about what is going on and how we are going to tackle this should have been given sooner. Last night’s speech should have been a how we are going to move forward. I would have used it as a great opportunity to reveal an actual AGGRESSIVE energy policy as stated in the upcoming Facebook posting. It might not have been popular, but most importantly it would have been the right thing to do. Sometimes the right thing is not the most popular thing to do.
I am going to borrow something from a Facebook posting from one of my political connections:
President Obama’s speech last night showed me that America elected another safe politician and not a visionary. President Obama is unwilling take a tough situation and change the direction of our nation. He is a pragmatist that needs consensus.
That is admirable but the current political environment, the 24/7/365 era of campaigning and 24/7 cycle of sensationalized news is proof that, that method is that is very unrealistic to accomplish any goal. We need him to be honest enough to say or do the tough things. His speech was nothing more than just kicking the preverbal can down the road.

I wish he had said:
• We need to stop using industrial age methods of producing energy and come into the 21st century and here is my plan to do it..
• We will face opposition from wealthy oil corporations and other companies who have interest in maintaining the status quo.
• Yes, the switch will cost more FOR EVERYONE but we are willing to make an investment for the sake of our children and grand children.
• Yes, one of the reasons why we invade foreign countries is to acquire their resources and protect our geopolitical interest. However, if you want to stop unnecessary wars of choice investing in green tech is one of the ways to do it.

Why won't people in his position say the truth? They are scared... The political pundits and the folks in Washington really think the American people are scared of change. As if 2008 or any other moment in American history did not dispel that myth. The problem is that Washington is full of poll tested, talking point ridden, focus group tested, big money-owned slick cowards.

Thank god, my grandparents and their grandparents did not fear innovation. They saw innovation and change as part of the American experience. The current generation of politicians is disappointing. I hope that when young people my age and younger receive the ability to participate in public service we will disregard the fear of these people and actually provide the public a service.

“Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth.” John F. Kennedy
Also, I feel that President Obama should give up the idea of bipartisanship. Offer it, but don’t pursue it. We all know what the Republican Party’s response is going to be: NO, followed by some illogical reasoning that the government is infringing on our freedoms.
Once again, what is this freedom they are advocating? Create a Gulf Coast that is uninhabitable to not only the wildlife but to the people that live there? The freedom to pursue an energy policy that revolves around a resource that is damaging to our planet and its technology is stuck in the early 20th century? The freedom to pursue resource wars? The freedom to be left behind in the rapidly emerging energy generation market?
They say: “We want to take our country BACK.”
Brothers and sisters: “I want to take our county FORWARD!”
Since the person closed out their posting with a JFK quote, I posted that what we needed was a “Moon Speech” for our energy policy. Much like Sputnik jumpstarted the US into forming NASA, President Kennedy raised the stakes by saying in his Joint Session of Congress speech on May 25, 1961 that “this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth."

Mr. President, WHY should we take on these challenges?

FINALLY… BP
What more can I say about them?
Here is something to think about.
We all know where BP is headquartered: London. So… where was the company that built the oil rig, Transocean, headquartered at? Switzerland. Yes, the land locked country of Switzerland. Originally they were headquartered in the Cayman Islands. The thing those two countries have in common: VERY favorable tax laws for corporations.
Now, in order to have an oil rig it has to fly the flag of a nation, similar to any ship that sails one of the Seven Seas. Guess which flag the Deepwater Horizon was flying? The nation of a tiny little chain of islands in the Pacific Ocean called The Marshall Islands. So how many inspectors from The Marshall Islands showed up to check out this oil rig? Actually, I am more of a visual person, so watch this clip instead.
“You want to hear about conflict of interest? I own a cigarette company and a company that sells nicotine patches. I own a baseball team and I bet against them, and I love America, but for tax purposes, I'm a citizen of the Dutch Antilles.” - Duke Phillips, explaining to Jay Sherman about his conflict of interests (The Critic)
Don’t miss the point made in those clips. The number one goal of a company is to maximize profits and if that requires the company to relocate so be it. So the next time you hear a company wave the US flag, look at where they are REALLY doing it from.
I think what gets me angry that BP DID NOT plan for this. This is a sign of a company failing to protect their investment. They did invest in how to harness and gather the energy, but they did not invest in how to clean up a worst case scenario spill. For goodness sakes, BP was top five in profits last year that was in the BILLIONS! Clearly they could have invested that money into cleanup technology which would have been beneficial to their company.
I guess someone did not speak up or think about how much money the company would lose in bad PR with pictures like this.
If I had money in BP, I would be calling for the resignations of the corporate leadership. On top of that, by their logic, everyone should drop their car insurance because why should we have car insurance in the first place. It is only there in case you will have a wreck and the chances that someone will have a wreck are slim to none. Dropping your insurance will save you money.
(DISCLAIMER: The author of this blog does not advocate dropping your automobile insurance coverage until you have consulted with your state’s automobile laws and statutes. It should also be noted that the author has had one car accident, specifically on June 30, 2004 at the intersection of WA-3 and Kitsap Mall Blvd NW in Silverdale, WA)
This is not the first time there was an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Direct from archives is coverage of the Ixtoc I Spill in 1979.
Does any of this sound familiar?
Also, take a look at the how the oil booms are located. Does it make any sense to lay the booms parallel to the coast? Here is how the booms should be placed.
And of course there was this scene when Congress called in representatives from BP, Transocean, and Evil Incarnate Halliburton. (SERIOUSLY? Those people are involved in this too? That should have been a hint that this was not going to end well.) Pretty much they are all pointed fingers at each other and said “It’s not my fault. It’s his fault.”
 
"Responsibility is a unique concept. It can only reside and inhere in a single individual. You may share it with others, but your portion is not diminished. You may delegate it, but it is still with you. You may disclaim it, but you cannot divest yourself of it. Even if you do not recognize it or admit its presence, you cannot escape it. If responsibility is rightfully yours, no evasion or ignorance or passing the blame can pass the burden to someone else. Unless you can point your finger at the man responsible when something goes wrong, then you have never had anyone really responsible." -Admiral Hyman G. Rickover, USN, Director of Naval Reactors/NAVSEA-08 (1949-1982)
So you are telling me that all these people with their MBAs know nothing about responsibility? Well… of course responsibility gets cut because having it is clearly not cost effective as we have seen with Goldman Sachs, Worldcom, Enron, etc.
CONCLUSION
If I was an attorney in the justice department, I would be pursuing a case against BP not only in monetary matters, but also criminal charges. Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (2010) ruled that corporations are afforded the same constitutional protections as people. By that logic, corporations should be held to same laws that people are held to. If I was to get behind the wheel of my car while drunk and kill someone, I would be charged with a crime (driving under the influence, vehicular manslaughter, reckless endangerment). I would be bringing up BP on eleven counts of negligent homicide and reckless endangerment at a minimum. I am certain there are others.
I would use every method available to bleed that company dry.
I would not be surprised if Frontline is working on a documentary about the oil spill and it airs in September, if not sooner. Already we are hearing reports that workers on the oil rig before the explosion and subsequent spill expressed concerns about their safety and the practices exhibited by their leadership. Not only that, but BP has engaged in an information war trying to keep Google from showing images of the spill.
Nice try, but this is the internet. That information will get out through other channels.
I close this with one of my favorite Lynyrd Skynyrd songs: All I Can Do Is Write About It. The song was written as an observation about the growing industrialization of the South, when is it going to stop, and what will we have lost because of it.
This song was released on 1976’s Gimmie Back My Bullets. The original version is good, but I feel the acoustic version sets the tone.
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