May 22, 2010

Tiger Woods has another pain in the neck

And, it's called an apparent soon-to-be ex-wife, Elin Nordegren.

Ms. Elin wants a lot, starting with $750 million in a settlement PLUS no signing a confidentiality agreement, which would indicate she's already looking at a book deal or something.

Obviously, a book could make her a few million, but nowhere near $750M. That same book, though, could cost Tiger as much as $50-$100M in lost sponsorship fees. And that might be conservative. So, he's got reason to push money on her to shut her up.

BP tells EPA eff you

Big Polluter claims Corexit is the best dispersant it has for the Deepwater Horizon blowout, tells EPA it's not going to change, and isn't interested in how this is affecting deep-sea dispersal, or anything other than trying to make the surface look a little less oily.

So far, the sound from EPA? Crickets.

Meanwhile, BP's Chief Extortion/Excuses Officer Tony Haywood says next week's "top kill" may well not work! The one tenuous silver lining is that this makes deepwater offshore drilling less and less trustworthy without MASSIVE new regulations.

Meanwhile, the real, slick oil now hitting beaches may be impossible to fully clean up out of Louisiana's entangled wetlands. Prince William Sound in Alaska had bare beaches, not thickets of subtropical flora.

BP still lies, Obama still kowtows

The former clause in the header is obvious, but Obamiacs keep trying to deny the latter.

Nonetheless, it's true, even as The One pushes for tougher fuel economy, including first-ever standards for semis, which deserves a true kudo. But, at the same time, Der Neolibbenfuehrer, with such fuel standards, we won't need to rush after all that deep-sea oil!)

As for BP? You knew it was lying when it claimed its siphon hose was recovering as much oil as it first claimed, and still somewhat claims, was the total leak flow. The lies have gone downhill from there, as has Team Obama's attempt to hold BP in particular, or offshore drilling in general, to account. (Include Interior Secretary Ken Salazar at the top of Team Obama's liars.)

Meanwhile, the human life toll, the wildlife toll, the ecosystem toll, the economy toll? As Bob Herbert notes, BP writes it off on its ledgers — again, as Team Obama continues to cover for it, and for offshore drilling in general.

And, sadly, as Joe Conason notes, this all undermines the myth of the all-powerful "Left." Sure, a few of the Gang Green enviro groups are finally getting stirred up, but, what took so long?

Why Rand Paul is wrong on civil rights

Rand Paul has been, famously or infamously, claiming that in the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the government's regulation or elimination of discrimination in private establishments was unconstitutional. Funny, I have read the Constitution before.

Let's take a look.

The Preamble to the Constitution says it is ordained and established to:
Establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility (and) promote the general Welfare.
Now add to that Article 1, Section 8:
To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.
I consider those forgoing powers to include what's listed in the preamble.

Even libertarians know Rand's wrong, with even more insight than I just offered.

Of course, at heart, Rand, like his old man, is a racist of sorts trying to camouflage it in libertarian language. Congrats, Kentucky GOP voters: You just nominated a borderline racist, if not more than borderline, to carry your party's senate banner.

And, yes, his old man's a racist. "Mainstream libertarianism" (an oxymoron if ever) said so two years ago in its house organ.

May 21, 2010

Fed court has a big fail on detainee rights

How a federal appeals court could rule that U.S. detainees at its Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan have no habeas appeal rights, despite the Supreme Court saying detainees in similar situation at Guantanamo do, I don't know, but the D.C. Court of Appeals made just that claim.

Obama, time to address 'your own'

It's no wonder the Congressional Black Caucus wants Obama to address minority needs more.

Even during the good times, the black-white wealth gap grew, and grew A LOT, in the past 20 years. Even among the middle class, not just the working class or the poor.

Here's how bad it's been:
Measured in 2007 dollars, the disparity in assets increased $75,000 on average, from $20,000 to $95,000 over the 23-year period. At least one in four black households had no assets. ...

This was true even at higher income levels, with middle-income whites seeing their wealth levels increase from $55,000 to $74,000, while high-income African-Americans saw their wealth decrease $7,000 in the same period, to $18,000 in 2007. The study defined middle income as $40,000 to $70,000, in 2007 dollars. In general, wealth produced during this period "accrues primarily to highest income whites."

The authors say this shows higher incomes alone will not lead to increased wealth and security for African Americans, since consumers of color are subjected to "systemic bias that operates in racialized ways" in credit, housing and taxes – dramatically reducing their chances of achieving economic mobility.
Of course, our "first black neoliberal president" hasn't totally caught on to that, perhaps?

Mom's touch is worth something

It can help prevent adult inflammatory-related illnesses. And, not all of those are "physical"; major depression may, in part, have an inflammatory cause.

Guess what? Birds don't like organics!

At least not organic birdseed. The mass-market stuff is higher in protein; that appears to be the key.

And, of course, for a wild bird, that's a definite nutrition advantage; and, it can be for people, too, depending on how we modify non-organic crops.

End the military academies?

Well, it costs four times as much for an academy to produce an officer as it does ROTC, and only 20 percent of our officers come from a service academy.

A professor at Annapolis notes all this in arguing, not to close the USNA, et al, but to reform them and toughen them up.

Frankly, I wonder if the answer isn't just having the academies serve as 1-year finishing schools, at most, for ROTC grads, combined with some war-college ty pe advanceed training.

May 20, 2010

BP oil in NC?

Y ep, if enough oil from the Deepwater Horizon gets into the Loop Current, then gets driven in the right way by hurricanes, it could make it all the way to Cape Hatteras, N.C.

Here's the latest skinny:
This year's hurricane season, June 1 to Nov. 30, is expected to be above average with 15 tropical storms of which eight could be hurricanes, according to experts at Colorado State University, the nation's oldest hurricane forecasting team.

Jeff Masters, chief meteorologist at forecaster Weather Underground, says the oil spill adds "an exclamation mark" to the "sense of foreboding" he has over the hurricane season. Storms tend to break up and dilute large spills, but they also spread them over a greater area, he says. ...

The federal Climate Prediction Center will issue its hurricane outlook May 27. Masters and AccuWeather.com's Joe Bastardi say record high sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic and cooling in the Pacific Ocean resemble conditions in 2004, 2005 and 2008, when multiple storms battered the USA.
But, you say, surely this is a real, real worst-case scenario.

Ahh, but isn't that what BP said about the possibility of a deep-sea blowout as bad as this, as an excuse for not acting?

And, given the Obama Administration's somewhat laggard, somewhat defensive response so far, will that be the attitude it takes?

Yes, Obama, you WERE slow on the Gulf response

Makes you wonder just why you hand-picked some scientists to troubleshoot the Deepwater Horizon blowout ... was it because a great many scientists find multiple reasons to fault your administration? Including saying you're performing CYA not just for yourself but for BP?

Slow response with NOAA resources, refusal to bush BP for plume video and other information? Yep, you were slow and are obstructionist.

May 19, 2010

This is not your momma's immigrant nation

An excellent article here about why baby boomers, especially the older ones, may be less tolerant of immigration than their children.

Boomers, due to changes in immigration law, especially in 1924, grew up in a low-immigrant America. But, then, LBJ liberalized immigration, especially non-European immigration, in 1965. Today? The percentage of immigrants in our society is about the same as it was a century ago. But, more than double what it was 45 years ago.

That said, the percentage of illegal immigration is higher today. At the same time, there were plenty of ship stowaways who came her illegally a century ago.

Dear Matt Ridley: Stick to Ev Psych

I'm not William Kunstler, but I'm not so blindly optimistic as Ridley about future human social development. Ridley thinks past performance is a guarantee of future results, without considering resource usage.

is the Dodd fix in on gutting financial reform? Maybe ...

It certainly looks like it, as Sen. Jesus Chris Dodd offers a gut the fish amendment on the financial regulatory reform bill that would put Sen. Blanche Lincoln's Ag Committee amendment on derivatives on ice.

But, Lincoln's Democratic primary going to a runoff may put Dodd's amendment on ice. Stay tuned?

May 18, 2010

BP closes 20 percent of Fed Gulf waters

Well, the federal government is who made the decision to close to fishing 20 percent of its own waters in the Gulf of Mexico, but we know who caused that decision, of course.

Brietbart's nuttery detailed

The New Yorker has a long profile on Brietbart. Here's some of his choicer nuttery.
He seems a familiar bicoastal type until he starts explaining his conviction that President Barack Obama’s election was the culmination of a plot, set in place in the nineteen-thirties by émigré members of the Frankfurt School, to take over Hollywood, the media, the academy, and the government, with the aim of imposing socialism.

Yep, this is a 70-year-old plot!

Breitbart also described the congressmen’s walk through the crowd, “in and of itself,” as an “act of racism meant to create a contrast between the Tea Party crowd and themselves.”
That's right, nobody using racial epithets (which B. still denies) is a racist. Black Congressmen are racist.

As for B's actual claim?
Two days later, an A.P. story revealed that the much viewed video of the congressmen passing through the crowd had, in fact, been shot at least an hour after the slurs were allegedly uttered.

Another example of how Obamiacs aren't real liberals

Glenn Greenwald guts Matt Yglesias like a $2 bluegill over Matty's Obamiac-type claim that Obama is infringing civil liberties because that's what the public wants.

May 17, 2010

Too big not to consolidate

As a warming to neoliberals and technocratic conservatives alike, Ross Douthat has an excellent column on the downside of meritocracy in today's business-government complex.

May 16, 2010

BP oil gush headed to Florida!

Oops, looks like at least part of the Deepwater Horizon's creeping destruction is headed to the Florida Keys.

Meanwhile, BP claims its siphon tube has had limited success. Translation into plain English? It ain't worth jack. It did admit to the tube later becoming dislodged, which means it surely isn't working now.

Then there's the continuing BP "spin," like this:
“This is all part of reinventing technology,” said Tom Mueller, a BP spokesman, on Saturday. “It’s not what I’d call a problem — it’s what I’d call learning, reconfiguring, doing it again.”

Yep, no problems here, folks ... just a learning exercise in deep-sea engineering!

Israel boots Chomsky, Emanuel kisses its butt

Details will be forthcoming, I hope, but, Israel would not let the uber-dangerous NOam Chomsky infiltrate Israel, apparently because he was due to speak to Palestinians on the West Bank.

Meanwhile, in ironic, or disgusting timing, President Barack Obama's Chief of Staff, Cheney equivalent and increasing all-around jackass or something, Rahm Emanauel basically asked a group of rabbis to please forgive the Obama Administration for even considering growing a pair of gonads over the last year.

Beyond Rahm's legacy-seeking, this is also clearly mid-term election politics. And it stinks of high hypocrisy, as well as Emanuel unwarrantedly meddling in foreign policy.

Pope: Those priests don't work for ME!

Yep, that's the Vatican's latest defense in the sex abuse scandal. In essence, it's claiming that abusive priests and bishops are independent contractors, therefore the Holy Mother of WTF Church isn't responsible for their actions. Along with that, it's telling the court system that this is all ultimately based on religious issues going back to apostolic times, and therefore the legal system needs to just take the pope's claims on ... err ... faith!

Of course, given the hugely hierarchical nature of Catholicism, this is a whopper of a lie. Bishops control parish and non-parish assignments for priests. Archbishops control bishops. And, who names the archbishops?

Old Benedicktus XVI, aka Herr Ratzinger of Hitler Youth fame. (The man surely knows a thing or two about authoritarianism, chains of command, unswerving devotion to higher authorities, etc.)

Oh, Ratzy? U.S. courts have waded into this issue in the past, too, you schmuck. I can't remember the name of it, but one case involved altar donations to a parish, donated by laypeople. The parish priest wanted to do something different, and a court ruled the laypeople had no say in the matter. I'm sure there's other issues involving a bishop telling a priest what to do that have gone to court at some time in the past.

That's on top of the claim that a 1962 decree of Catholic canon law allegedly did NOT forbid bishops from reporting suspicions of child sexual abuse to the authorities.

And, this whopper undercuts Herr Ratzinger's claims that the church needs to be penitent.

Well, the church perhaps. The church's money and property? Well, another story. No, no, no penitence needed to go as far as St. Peter's. Or the Vatican's holdings in Italian utilities, etc.

Beyond that, Il Papa is infallible, right? So, HE doesn't need to be penitent. Just those low-down, perverted independent contractors that he never hired nor supervised, right?

Media Matters fail on Kagan

Media Matters for America, in a Saturday morning action alert or whatever, claimed all conservatives are ramped up against Kagan. It's a cheap fundraising ploy, or something to that effect, I'm sure. Bottom line is that it's not true. A number of conservative individuals and groups have already cautiously, to more than cautiously, praised her.

BP dispersants threaten seafloor life

Oxygen waters on the seafloor around the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe have already fallen by 30 percent and will fall more.

This is bad. Really bad. How bad?
"It could take years, possibly decades, for the system to recover from an infusion of this quantity of oil and gas," (University of Georgia professor Samantha) Joye said. "We've never seen anything like this before. It's impossible to fathom the impact."
Meanwhile, there are oil and gas plumes from just below the surface to 4,000 feet deep.
Researchers Vernon Asper and Arne Dierks said in Web posts that the plumes were "perhaps due to the deep injection of dispersants which BP has stated that they are conducting."
In other words, the dispersants may be contributing to the oil-caused deoxygenation.

That's why BP's "backup" plan to use dispersants in deepwater for the first time, without testing, is so criminal.
The decision (to allow this) by the Environmental Protection Agency angered state officials and fishermen, who complained that regulators ignored their concerns about the effects on the environment and fish.

"The EPA is conducting a giant experiment with our most productive fisheries by approving the use of these powerful chemicals on a massive, unprecedented scale," John Williams, executive director of the Southern Shrimp Alliance, said in a news release.
BP. Blatantly Polluting.

15 ExxonValdezes — Why BP is working to hide the spill truth

It looks like BP's Gulf oil spill may be gushing out as much oil every four days as the Exxon Valdez spilled off the coast of Alaska.

Well, I guess if your credibility is just this side, or just the other side, of Exxon's, and is built on publish relations shinola apparent lying, you've got good temptations to continue more of the same, as now seems clear.

The level of apparent cover-up? Pretty bad.
Two weeks ago, the government put out a round estimate of the size of the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico: 5,000 barrels a day. Repeated endlessly in news reports, it has become conventional wisdom.

But scientists and environmental groups are raising sharp questions about that estimate, declaring that the leak must be far larger. They also criticize BP for refusing to use well-known scientific techniques that would give a more precise figure.

The criticism escalated on Thursday, a day after the release of a video that showed a huge black plume of oil gushing from the broken well at a seemingly high rate. BP has repeatedly claimed that measuring the plume would be impossible.
Richard Camilli and Andy Bowen, of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, were originally asked by BP to conduct flow rate measurements of undersea vents then BP changed its mind. And it won't say why.

Probably, though, because it's trying to hide this ... the same reason it won't let independent researchers see its underwater video:
BP later acknowledged to Congress that the worst case, if the leak accelerated, would be 60,000 barrels a day, a flow rate that would dump a plume the size of the Exxon Valdez spill into the gulf every four days. BP’s chief executive, Tony Hayward, has estimated that the reservoir tapped by the out-of-control well holds at least 50 million barrels of oil.
OK, BP says it could be two months before it gets the "bleeding" stopped. That is 15 consecutive four-day ExxonValdez spill equivalents, if the worst predictions are true.

The Guardian has further independent commentary on the likely size of the spill.

That said, is it fair to call the Obama Administration "slow" on this?

Hell, yes. Given BP's past safety record, from Prudhoe Bay to Houston, over the past decade, notably under the leadership of current CEO Tony Hayward, it should have been skeptical of BP's claims about the size of the problem from the moment it happened.

And, given BushCo-era shenanigans, it should have been reforming the Minerals Management Service before the blowout. Obama himself could have included that as part of his offshore drilling proposal.

It's been helping oil drillers deliberately avoid getting environmental impact permits from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
“You simply are not allowed to conclude that the drilling will have an impact,” said one scientist who has worked for the minerals agency for more than a decade. “If you find the risks of a spill are high or you conclude that a certain species will be affected, your report gets disappeared in a desk drawer and they find another scientist to redo it or they rewrite it for you.”
AND ... Our Beloved Neoliberal Leader Obama's proposed reform of the Minerals Management Service apparently won't touch this NOAA work-around.

(That's despite his promise today to get tough with the oil and gas drilling industry, claiming it was time to move beyond finger pointing. The "cozy relationship" he mentioned? Isn't that, too, part and parcel of neoliberalism?)

So, Obamiacs, quit defending him on environmental issues, or his response to this tragic, but quite avoidable, catastrophe.

Meanwhile, speaking of environmental issues, weather forecasters expect an above-average year for Atlantic hurricanes.

What might a few big storms do to that oil?

Update, May 15: Meanwhile, another government entity, the EPA, readily signed off on BP's never-before done, never-before tested, use of deep sea dispersents.

Oxygen waters on the seafloor around the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe have already fallen by 30 percent and will fall more.

Meanwhile, there are oil and gas plumes from just below the surface to 4,000 feet deep.
Researchers Vernon Asper and Arne Dierks said in Web posts that the plumes were "perhaps due to the deep injection of dispersants which BP has stated that they are conducting."
In other words, the dispersants may be contributing to the oil-caused deoxygenation.

That's why BP's "backup" plan to use dispersants in deepwater for the first time, without testing, is so criminal.
The decision (to allow this) by the Environmental Protection Agency angered state officials and fishermen, who complained that regulators ignored their concerns about the effects on the environment and fish.

"The EPA is conducting a giant experiment with our most productive fisheries by approving the use of these powerful chemicals on a massive, unprecedented scale," John Williams, executive director of the Southern Shrimp Alliance, said in a news release.
BP. Blatantly Polluting. And, the technocratic neoliberalocity is cooperating.