SocraticGadfly: 4/25/10 - 5/2/10

May 01, 2010

The Katrina of oil spills

First, this news about the Gulf of Mexico oil leak leads me to say, we only have 100 years of weather data, so talking about "100-year floods" is bullshit.

Therefore, and along similar lines why do we let oil companies assume they've adequately planned for disasters when they deliberately do not include the possibility of everything going wrong at once?

This is a clusterfuck by BOTH the likes of BP and the likes of the federal government, as the NYT notes.

Indeed, BP even made the official claim that an event like this pretty much could not happen.

At the same time, it's "fun" to see the Louisiana hypocrites, GOP Gov. Bobby Jindal and Sen. David Vitter, suddenly scramble for the federal government to be big and strong.

April 30, 2010

Who pooped the zoo?

Well, in Minneapolis, the Minnesota Zoo shows off the poop to teach the young 'uns some facts about wildlife.

Hopi Indians pass TCB 1710

The Hopi Tribal Council, representing the people that has lived for thousands of years on the Colorado Plateau expanse of northeastern Arizona, in order to preserve the integrity of the Hopi people, has passed Tribal Council Bill 1710.

It reads, in part:

Dear other peoples inhabiting the region that the United States Government calls "Arizona":

For countless ages before you or your ancestors came here, our forefathers, the Hisatsinom wandered this area freely, and in peace and tolerance. We did not demand "proofs" from the occasional stranger that wandered in.

We did not demand "proofs" from the Navajo that now surround us, when they finished their journey here.

We did not demand "proofs" from the Spanish when they came from Mexico. And, we could not ask them to leave, when, by their force, they committed grave crimes against our people.

That said, later, other people with white skins, far more numerous, came. We did our best not to stigmatize them, though we could have done so.

To no avail.

And, their descendants, you the people who now claim to "govern" this land you call Arizona, go even further.

Many of our elderly still are not fluent in English. They do not have driver's licenses, utility bills or credit cards. If they were born before 1924, they were themselves not even given the chance to be considered American citizens at birth. And, when they were, we had to decline, in order to maintain our sovereignty. So, they could be mistaken for Hispanic "illegal aliens."

Therefore, we must respond to SB 1710.

As a sovereign nation under United States Government law, we forbid any officials of the government of the state of Arizona to come on our land.

Leave us alone.

That said, we recognize that we are, ourselves, a fiction created to satisfy certain demands of the United States Government. Real discussion and consensus, about which we cannot inform you further, is done in our kivas and other locations on a village-by-village basis.

We can say that there is true consensus on this bill, though, and that it is not the consensus of the "Hopi Nation" but of the villages of the Hopi people.

To Anglos not knowing the traditions of governance, leadership and consensus within the Hopi people, you are referred here.

More proof Tricky Ricky Perry has eye on DC 2012

Gov. Helmethair says, despite folks in the Lege who like the idea, like would-be bill introducer Debbie Riddle, that Arizona's new immigration law "would not be the right direction for Texas."

We didn't hear a peep from Tricky Ricky 24 hours ago, when Debbie Does Dumb first spoke up. But, now, after possibly sticking a finger in the wind (perhaps after pulling it out of his ass first), Tricky Ricky decides that he needs to oppose this bill.

Oh, as for the claims that Perry hasn't been as tough on immigration as Arizona? Maybe not, but he's been a lot dumber. Who can forget his lame-o DIY at-home border monitors via computer? That netted what, about three illegal aliens?

That said, the Trickster is lucky he doesn't have a Tea Partier opponent, or that the Arizona bill didn't come down the pike 2 months ago, with Debra Medina in the GOP primary. He'd have done enough fence-straddling then to risk self-castration.

Speaking of Medina, Lege "birther" Leo Berman (shouldn't Jews especially be wary of "papers" and related issues?) claims he tightened up support for the Trickster during the primary by steering folks away from Medina in exchange for a tougher line on immigration, and now he's pissed. Burnt Orange Report has the details.

April 29, 2010

Dear Arizona: Here's the illegal immigrant truth

First, let me say that, for various reasons, I want the border properly enforced. But, I don't want that enforcement based on lies and racism.

Unfortunately, as Steve Chapman documents in great back-to-back columns, that's what's happening.

First, the law, and SCOTUS rulings, allow cops to take the initiative in making random contacts with people on the street. Well, that would count as a "lawful contact" in the Arizona law, Chapman notes. See the potential for police abuse?

In an earlier column, then, Chapman debunks the myth of the "criminal illegal alien," among other things. He notes the low crime rate in El Paso, for example, or notes illegals are less likely to commit crimes than Native Americans. (Of course, some of that is a different matter entirely.

Criminal Sachs?

So, is Lloyd Blankfein going to tell the U.S. Attorney's Office in Manhattan he was "doing God's business," too? Looks like he has some sort of 'splaining to do.

That said, even though this investigation is playing off the SEC civil probe, there's no slam dunk on charges, let alone a conviction:
(T)he Goldman probe presents a significant challenge for the government. Prosecutors in the Brooklyn office of the U.S. Attorney last year lost a high-profile fraud case against two former Bear Stearns Cos. executives, in the first major criminal case linked to the financial meltdown.
Intent is the big issue, but some of the e-mails the SEC uncovered go in that direction.

The WSJ story notes that the feds are reluctant to pursue criminal cases against financial firms for fear they will implode. But, given post-bailout public opinion, I don't see how the DOJ can not push this case, no matter the implosion risk.

Hey, AZ: Enforce the immigration laws you already have

Effing wingnut hypocrites. Arizona has a tough law - tough with employer fines and sanctions - already on the books, that it doesn't enforce, contra to "bleeding heart old Europe," which also has such laws and enforces them.

Can countries back out of the Euro again?

Paul Krugman wonders if Greece might start considering that, and what it would mean for the Euro.

Carbon storage: Overrated, unlikely

And, that not some environmentalist challenging ExxonMobil, Massey Coal, etc., in touting the worth of carbon capture and storage. It's renowned oilfield economist Michael Economides.

What's the problem? Pressure build-up with storage attempts:
"It is like putting a bicycle pump up against a wall. It would be hard to inject CO2 into a closed system without eventually producing so much pressure that it fractured the rock and allowed the carbon to migrate to other zones and possibly escape to the surface," Economides said.
ExxonMobil and Massey, via the American Petroleum Institute, are already trying to shoot down Economides' paper, and he's already fired back.

Shock me that Obama is thin-skinned

Even with the White House press corps.

I mean, his pledge to transparency was bullshit long before he was elected, but you have to be deliberate and intense on stiffing the press to the point of Obama personally talking with the stenographers even less than Shrub Bush did!

And, no, as that lengthy and in-depth Politico story above makes clear, this isn't just Rahm Emanuel's no-prisoners style as White House chief of staff. Nor is it Robert Gibbs' distance as WH press secretary.

Rather, it's The One himself, from whence the attitude toward the press starts. Sarcastic, snide and sneering.

And, some of other things in the story, like the WH stiffing pool photographers and instead cranking out staff pix and videos?

Hey, Talking Points Memo and Josh Marshall? You dumb-ass suckers. Politico is talking about YOU, the way you fawningly plaster that shit up as slideshows about once a week.

Former Politico staffer Michael Calderone, now at Yahoo, confirms the bare bones of the Politico story, too.

And Steve Clemons weighs in with how some of this relates to highly centralized, somewhat micromanaging leadership by The One himself, sounding more like Jimmy Carter by the day at times.

I'm sure the ranks of "see no evil" Obamiacs will continue to dwindle.

April 28, 2010

Blame BP for Gulf spill

Far from being "Beyond Petroleum," BP was among oil giants who resisted proposed new safety rules from the U.S. Minerals Management Service last year.

Manwhile, the culprit on the current well? Problems with cementing the well casing, and not the first time this has been an issue.

Rules to improve that, being developed jointly by MMS and the American Petroleum Institute, had been in the pipeline, so to speak, for four years.

Meanwhile, with the spill now up to 5,000 barrels a day of leak, unless the previously untried-at-scale method of burning off the oil works, the spill will make landfall, likely here in Tejas, by this weekend.

Wingnut hypocrisy on immigration

OK, so all the wingers in Arizona support the immigration law because, in part, they say the feds aren't doing enough. Now, Sec'y of Homeland Security Napolitano starts talking about DOING MORE, including the use of drones, and already, here on FB, people of the same sentiments as Arizonans are going into UN black helicopters mode.
In case you didn't know, the Border Patrol has used its own drones for YEARS!!!

April 27, 2010

So much for Obama's green jobs

Half the world's solar panels are already made in China, and Tom Friedman notes that's only going to increase.

The hypocrisy of Marlin Perkins, Natl Geo and more

Throwing tame animals into rivers (Perkins) or renting tame animals for "wild" shoots (National Geographic) is "fauxtagraphy," not photography.

Beyond the above offenders, this article details how those "wildlife"-themed Western calendars AREN'T taking pictures of actual wildlife, in many cases. Disgusting.

My respect for Marlin Perkins just dropped several notches. And, this is another reason why old-breed zoo management is, thankfully, dead and gone.

The human brain, v. 2.0, on simulation?

Science fiction? Well, maybe today, but maybe not in a decade or two, if cognitive science can keep up its current rate of advance, with (admittedly crude and imprecise) animal brain simulations on computer.

That, then, of course, lead to questions of ethics and related issues. What if a brain simulation could be used to vastly improve current, crude, brain scanners? And, could do so without a person's cranium being stuck inside an MRI? In other words, what if an anti-theft portal at a business's front door could be ramped up, massively, via RFID-type tech, to scan your mind for commercial reasons?

Arizona's latest sport?

Is it time for the Minuteman Biathlon?

Combine last Friday's signing into law of the stringent new immigration bill with Gov. Brewer signing into law the permitless concealed handgun bill the week before that, and add in Team Obama deferring to local states' laws on guns in national parks, and you get ...

The Minuteman Biathalon!

Minutemen see how many beers they can drink while chasing alleged immigrants through Saguaro National Park while slaloming around saguaros.

Greek bailout hostage to German elections

Chancellor Angela Merkel has to act tough in the North Rhine-Westphalia state election or she could lose her coalition majority in German's upper house. So Athens has to come up with long-term, not one-year, budget cuts before she'll sign on to a bailout package.

Blame Congress for Sachs, and other things

Nothing to argue with in this NYT column; for years, I've excoriated President Clinton and Congressional Dems for their part in killing Glass-Steagall. (It was nice to see the Slickster's belated apology for that earlier this month.)

The other things? Michael Lind notes that bipartisanship led to other deregulatory clusterfucks over the past 30-35 years, most notably airline deregulation.

That said, I'm not as death on airline dereg as him, or I wasn't when I lived in Dallas. It did make travel cheaper for many. Of course, where I am now, in a large town/small city area, it's a bit different.

April 26, 2010

Muslims, South Park, Douthat, BS, PR and Triscuits

Did Comedy Central censor South Park, or did Stone/Parker self-censor for PR? Why does Revolution Muslim hate Triscuits? Where does Ross Douthat get off being an even bigger hypocrite than normal, when Christian belief wound up with state college censorship of a play in Texas and the Dixie Chicks got death threats?

I wasn't originally going to blog about Douthat's inane, even for him, culture-conservative screed, but, have changed my mind.

Let's dive right in, starting with the rhetorical questions after the first two.

Glenn Greenwald rightly notes the steaming mass of hypocrisy, with numerous examples of both Ross Douthat's hypocrisy in previous columns and counter-examples to Douthat's claim that "it's always worse with Muslims."

Beyond that, Revolution Muslim is such a fringe group, especially compared to Douthat's beloved Roman Catholic Church of priest perps and papal protectors that Ross still tries to defend (Greenwald has links) that Douthat has no business talking while he still has the 2x4 in his own eye. Revolution Muslim? It's a tiny fringe outfit headed by a Jewish convert. Oy!

Read teh whole Greenwald column carefully. Because Douthat can be more charming and more coherent than many a nutbar, that's exactly what makes him dangerous.

And, what's Triscuits, what's Triscuits, got to do with it?

According to Revolution Muslim, they're eaten by "Darwinist faggots."

The PR issue? P.Z. Myers, aka Pharyungula, who after chastising South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone for tearing down, not building up (a bit of irony, or more, there!) then wonders whether the duo didn't self-censor again, after their original self-censorship, then blame it on Comedy Central, for PR value.

April 25, 2010

The president as comfortor-in-chief

As Barack Obama has wrapped up preaching sweet nothings of consolation to the families of the 29 West Virginia coal miners killed earlier this month, let me say that I just don't "get" the idea of president as comforter pastor/counselor-in-chief. I didn't get it with Reagan, though it irked me less then. I didn't get it Clinton (don't recall Poppy Bush even doing it), didn't get it with W. and don't get it with Obama.

First, let me say this isn't a party/political philosophy thing. I don't "get it" with Republicans or Democrats.

Second, it's not an atheism thing. I didn't "get it" even while I was still in religious transition, or, to the degree I thought about it, before I was too far down that road.

It's simply that I didn't elect a president (though I've not voted for the eventual occupant of the White House since 1992) to be pastor/counselor-in-chief. Nor am I comfortable with the majority of the American public thinking that should be part of his (or her) job description.

Yes, I know, presidents and prime ministers do it elsewhere, too. Unfortunately, like McDonald's, that's one of America's lesser exports, as I assume that's how the custom has taken root elsewhere.

That said, I commented above about Obama preaching sweet nothings of consolation in West Virginia. And, it's true. Until just before the Big Sandy disaster, his administration was letting mountaintop-removal coal mining continue; it had not gotten noticeably tougher with Massey than BushCo; and, contra worries about miners and mine owners alike, Team Obama had not pushed a serious climate change bill that would cause major changes to King Coal.

But, from the specific back to the general.

Other than Bush becoming Hitlerian, and treating 9/11 and al Qaeda like the Reichstag fire and Marinus van der Lubbe, other "comforters in chief," as comforters, have neither said nor done much to address the problems leading to the tragedy.

Clinton neither fully admitted that Janet Reno and even more, the ATF, mucked up Waco. At the same time, he never did get honest with the general public about just how serious an issue the militias problem was, a bill we're paying today with Tea Partier overlap.

Bush? Beyond holding the country's hand for the impending "War on Terror," he did little actual comforting of 9/11 victims' families, nor did he try to.

Obama has a chance to do more. Like push for real jobs retraining for people like West Virginia coal miners. To push for adequate funding and staffing of a variety of federal regulatory agencies. And more.

All while pushing for real climate change legislation, for a cleaner, and often safer, fuel than coal can be.

Will he?

Probably not.

That's not the neoliberal answer.

Lib Dems continue to creep upward in UK

Between that and Tory leader David Cameron now refusing to rule out electoral reform as part of the price of coalition, I'd set the odds of a hung parliament in Great Britain after the May 8 election at 50-50.

Why does even Sonoma County, Calif. hate gays?

If anti-gay rights actions and government attitudes like this can happen even in a theoretically liberal bastion, it shows that gay relationship rights simply are not safe, fully safe, anywhere in this country that doesn't have gay marriage.

Now, what if this couple hadn't wanted to be married? Nonetheless, if California had gay marriage, I think Sonoma County officials would have had a lawyer hit them over the head — a county lawyer — from the start, telling them that gay long-term live-togethers had the same rights as straights.

Catholics attack NY Times

And, its public editor responds. It's clear some of the attacks, from Faux and National Review, are political "chumming" and represent a new low in moral sickness driving faux outrage.

Others? When bishops attack, one is led to wonder ... a BIG cui bono? What are they hiding under their cassocks and surplices?

Tom Friedman tops himself again!

Just when I thought, less than a week ago, Thomas "My Head is Flat" Friedman couldn't get any dumber, he has, with a truly stupid column suggesting the Tea Partiers go green, even to talking about the Green Tea Party.

From there, he goes into his energy independence shtick, swallows Lindsey Graham hook, line and sinker on his faux indignation over immigration and more.

Further words fail me; read his stupidity for yourself. In fact, I consider it so dumb, I decided to invent a new blog tag, "moronity alert," paralleling my "hypocrisy alert" and "irony alert" tags, for someone who, theoretically at least, is smart enough to know better.