BP/Transocean Boom Fail

May 26, 2010 at 9:53 am | Posted in environment, Reality Bites | Leave a comment
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(Fishgrease) Boom is not meant to contain or catch oil. Boom is meant to divert oil. Boom must always be at an angle to the prevailing wind-wave action or surface current. Boom, at this angle, must always be layered in a fucking overlapped sort-of way with another string of boom. Boom must always divert oil to a catch basin or other container, from where it can be REMOVED FROM THE FUCKING AREA. Looks kinda involved, doesn’t it? It is. But if fucking proper fucking booming is done properly, you can remove most, by far most of the oil from a shoreline and you can do it day after day, week after week, month after month. You can prevent most, by far most of the shoreline from ever being touched by more than a few transient molecules of oil. Done fucking properly, a week after the oil stops coming ashore, no one, man nor beast, can ever tell there has been oil anywhere near that shoreline.

Seagulls and other birds fly past the oil booms near Venice, Louisiana. Eric Gay / AP

There’s not enough boom and what boom there is is not being placed in a manner that will prevent oil from going on shore, all saving BP and Transocean the expense of crews to remove oil which should theoretically be diverted by properly placed booms.

And of course none of this addresses the issue that “chemical dispersants that cleanup crews are using to break up and scatter the surface slicks cause the oil drops to sink deeper into the water column,” as we saw in video posted yesterday.

Burying the oil a little deeper means that surface slicks won’t float toward shorelines as readily. However, mixing these chemicals into water has long been a controversial process, as they have proved toxic to some marine organisms.


BP executives should be in jail.

May 26, 2010 at 1:31 am | Posted in environment, Reality Bites | 1 Comment
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“Tax the rich — they can afford it.”

May 26, 2010 at 1:11 am | Posted in politics straight up | Leave a comment
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Now, this is a platform I can get behind. Well, except maybe the American cheese. The rest of it, I’m with The Big Man.

“1916 seems like only yesterday!” — Senator John “Jam” McCain

May 25, 2010 at 3:19 pm | Posted in civil rights, Historical, politics straight up | Leave a comment
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(The Hill) Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) lamented Tuesday on what he said were efforts to “jam” through a repeal of the military’s “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

I guess when you’re as old as John “Jam” McCain, 94 years is not a significant length of time.

Rand Paul: Obama has his “boot heel on the throat of BP”

May 21, 2010 at 10:13 am | Posted in environment, journalism, Reality Bites | Leave a comment
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Rand Paul wants to know where his honeymoon period is. He seems to be under the mistaken impression that he has already won the Kentucky senate seat. The first seven minutes of Stephanopolous’ interview of Rand Paul covers his views on civil property rights, after which we learn that Rand Paul believes the federal government has a right to regulate, but enforcement is apparently a step too far.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Watch this video to see how the jack-booted government thugs are digging their heels into BP’s throat. Katie Couric, apparently chastened by Palin’s criticism, politely ignores that the United States Coast Guard is acting as private security for BP to stop journalists from documenting oil from BP’s “accident” on a public beach in South Pass, Louisiana:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

(HuffPo) This is not the first report of such an incident. There have been other reports of camera and video equipment being confiscated or banned. In fact, Lauren Valle, a Greenpeace Volunteer, who was turned away by BP contractors when taking members of the media to the affected areas along the coast stated, “they’re trying very hard for people not to see it. We’re here to bear witness.”

A PSA for doing it right

May 17, 2010 at 12:05 pm | Posted in politics straight up, Reality Bites | Leave a comment
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You may remember, back in April, the teabaggers and the grossly misnamed organization FreedomWorks discovered their love for political correctness and forced Geico to fire Lance Baxter for having had the temerity to leave them an insulting voicemail that included his name and phone number. Baxter has put together a PSA so that others can avoid the same fate. Watch and learn:

Another day, another dollar

May 16, 2010 at 2:07 pm | Posted in environment | Leave a comment
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Net fishing on the Gulf of Mexico. Pass Christian, Mississippi. 1937 July. Dorothea Lange, photographer. (Library of Congress)

Why this surprises anyone is beyond me.

(NYT) Scientists are finding enormous oil plumes in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico, including one as large as 10 miles long, 3 miles wide and 300 feet thick in spots. The discovery is fresh evidence that the leak from the broken undersea well could be substantially worse than estimates that the government and BP have given.

UPDATE: BP is using a cheaper, more toxic and less effective dispersant supplied by a company to which it has “close ties.”

Pop & Politics

May 15, 2010 at 6:05 pm | Posted in Historical | Leave a comment
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(Wikipedia) [British Prime Minister Harold] Wilson exhibited his populist touch in 1965 when he had The Beatles honoured with the award of MBE (such awards are officially bestowed by The Queen but are nominated by the Prime Minister of the day). The award was popular with young people and contributed to a sense that the Prime Minister was “in touch” with the younger generation. There were some protests by conservatives and elderly members of the military who were earlier recipients of the award, but such protesters were in the minority. Critics claimed that Wilson acted to solicit votes for the next general election (which took place less than a year later), but defenders noted that, since the minimum voting age at that time was 21, this was hardly likely to impact many of the Beatles’ fans who at that time were predominantly teenagers. It did however cement Wilson’s image as a modernistic leader and linked him to the burgeoning pride in the ‘New Britain’ typified by the Beatles. The Beatles mentioned Wilson rather negatively, naming both him and his opponent Edward Heath in George Harrison’s song “Taxman”, the opener to 1966’s Revolver—recorded and released after the MBEs.

One year later, in 1967, Wilson had a different interaction with a musical ensemble. He sued the pop group The Move for libel after the band’s manager Tony Secunda published a promotional postcard for the single “Flowers In The Rain”, featuring a caricature depicting Wilson in bed with his female assistant, Marcia Williams (later Baroness Falkender). Wild gossip had hinted at an improper relationship, though these rumours were never substantiated. Wilson won the case, and all royalties from the song (composed by Move leader Roy Wood) were assigned in perpetuity to a charity of Wilson’s choosing.

Was this scandal part of a plot to discredit Wilson and possibly overthrow the British government by coup?

(MirrorUK) Former arms minister Lord Chalfont agrees that a coup would have involved “very senior people.” To bolster their sordid case for ousting a democratically-elected government, MI6 invented a Russian lover for Wilson, and passed a “compromising” photograph of the pair in Moscow to MI5 – who fed it straight to the media. It was also claimed that Wilson had taken bribes, and supplied classified information to Soviet “moles”. A Soviet defector fingered the Prime Minister as a KGB agent, and claimed there was a Communist cell in Downing Street.

None of these preposterous stories were true, but they were also handed on to the CIA, whose leading operative James Jesus Angleton used them to discredit the Labour leader within the American administration. Wilson was thus suspected of playing into the hands of Communism when he began withdrawing British troops from Suez, even though it was in the nation’s best economic interests.

The conspirators reached a lunatic height in 1967, when the Queen’s uncle, Lord Louis Mountbatten, was sounded out as the possible leader of a military coup.

(Cross posted at From Laurel Street)

Know Your Former American Ambassadors to the Soviet Union and their relatives: George Kennan & George F. Kennan

May 15, 2010 at 6:02 pm | Posted in Historical | Leave a comment
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A Siberian posting sledge on a cold morning, with George Kennan standing at the right Between 1885 and 1886. (Library of Congress)

George Kennan was an American explorer noted for his travels in the Kamchatka and Caucasus regions of Russia and cousin twice removed to George F. Kennan. A diplomat and historian, George Kennan the elder was the author of Tent Life in Siberia. It’s an amazing story. In 1865 it took seven weeks to sail from San Francisco to Kamchatka.

The younger Kennan was United States Ambassador to the Soviet Union during the Eisenhower administration (May 14, 1952 to September 19, 1952) and Ambassador to Yugoslavia during the Kennedy administration (May 16, 1961 to July 28, 1963). In 1956 he became a permanent member of the faculty of the School of Historical Studies at the Institute for Advanced Study.

Kardashof was one of three political exiles living in the Buriat village of Selenginsk whom Kennan visited in October, 1885. Kardashof had served his penal term at the Kara gold mines and Kennan hoped Kardashof and his fellow exiles could provide him with information about the Kara mines. (Library of Congress)

It was during the younger Kennan’s ambassadorship to the Soviet Union that a surreptitious listening device was discovered to have been implanted in a two-foot wooden replica of the Great Seal of the United States given as a gift to Ambassador Averell Harriman in 1945.

Shortly after the younger Kennan’s death at age 101, David K. Lorio, Lecturer of Political Science at Texas State University-San Marco presented a paper at the Annual Southwest Political Science Association Conference on 24 March 2005 titled American Pessimist: George F. Kennan as Realist

Like so many other philosophers of international relations, Kennan grapples with the roles realism and idealism play in foreign policy. Realism, or realpolitik, as defined by Henry Kissinger is a foreign policy based on the calculations of power and national self-interest (Kissinger 1994, 137). The amorality and naked self-interest of Machiavellian thought represents the most extreme form of realism (Walling 2004). Foreign policy idealism, on the other hand, is based on natural rights and universal justice. A broader morality, beyond self-interest, prevails in idealism. Kant’s belief in perpetual peace and Woodrow Wilson’s trust in a community of power, rather than a balance of power, are examples of idealism (Walling 2004).

George Kennan, c1905. (Library of Congress)

As a conservative, pragmatist, and pessimist, Kennan is closely associated with realism. Kennan has an affinity for the more sophisticated European view of international relations: therefore more sympathetic to the darker, less sentimental view of human nature found in 19th Century European world politics than in the sunnier, optimistic Wilsonian policies of 20th and 21st Century America.

Kennan believes American foreign policy should be based on self-interest. His definition of self-interest
more closely resembles the narrower view of pre-First World War European statesman or even the American Founders rather than the broader 20th century view of his own countrymen. In 1948 he writes that one of the fundamental objectives of foreign policy should be:

to protect the security of the nation, by which is meant the continued ability of this country to pursue the development of its internal life without serious interference, or threat of interference from foreign
powers… (Gellman 1984)

Prison in Irkutsk, eastern Siberia. c1885 (Library of Congress)

He is contemptuous of Wilsonian idealism.  America’s propensity to make the establishment of democracy a foreign policy goal is neither realistic nor desirable.  The United State’s foreign policies should be centered on American interests; not Kantian ideals for world peace.  He  addresses the role of morality in foreign policy and again emphasizes self interest:

When we talk about the application of moral standards to foreign policy, therefore, we are not talking about compliance with some clear and generally accepted international code of behavior.   If the policies and actions of the U.S. government are to be made to conform to moral standards, those standards are going to have to be America’s own, founded on traditional American principles of justice and propriety.  When others fail to conform to those principles, and when their failure to conform has an adverse effect on American interests, as distinct from political tastes, we have every right to complain and, if necessary, to take retaliatory actions.  What we  cannot do is assume our moral standards are theirs as well, and to appeal to those standards as the source of our grievances. (Kennan 1996, 272)

The Library of Congress photo archives has a lot of wonderful and interesting photographs in the George Kennan collection.

Dumb & Dumber

May 15, 2010 at 2:52 pm | Posted in politics straight up, Reality Bites | Leave a comment
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I’m sensing a theme today …

Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann and Orly Taitz, 14 May 2010.

Sadly, Bachmann and Taitz are no longer Facebook friends, because you know how mean Liberals can be.

But that doesn’t mean they can’t come together to help raise money for “Constitutional Candidate and local Tea Party favorite For Orange County Sheriff” Bill Hunt!

Thanks, Obama Conspiracy Theories!

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