Saturday, June 05, 2010


And as for Robert Gibbs:
""The president, as the leader of the party, has an interest in ensuring supporters don't run against each other in contested primaries."
Notice the missing "legitimate" in front of "interest." I'd love to this tested in the courts, just so we know if there's anybody left who believes in democracy.

Friday, June 04, 2010

We might be running out of places where the winds blows all the time!I'm shocked. Shocked!

Next we be told we don't have enough spots where the sun shines all the time for solar cells!

The CEO of BP tells the company's side of the story.
Americans and others from around the world rightly are asking many questions. How could this happen? How damaging is the spill to the environment? Why have efforts to stop the flow of oil and gas into the Gulf so far failed?

And they are asking questions that have broader implications. Has the industry and the regulatory system governing it been taking unacceptable risks in our work on the geological and technological frontiers? Can we as a society explore for oil and gas in safer and more reliable ways?

The industry and the government did not anticipate this type of accident—one in which all the "failsafe" mechanisms failed.
It's obvious that no one anticipated this blowout. The question is why not?

President Obama has taken to blaming BP as if it's a criminal outfit, but that ignores the failures of the "responsible" government agencies he commands to enforce the laws. There have been rumors that BP's blowout preventer, essentially a hydraulic valve on the well head which is supposed to shut off the well flow when the pressure reaches levels that are unsafe, but I doubt that if this is true, it was approved by the company. One of the biggest dangers to any human enterprise is maintaining attention during "routine" operations. Distraction and complacence cause deaths and disasters in activities from driving to operating nuclear power plants.

At this point, I'm not sure whom to be angry with. Mr. Hayward's Op-Ed seems to be frank and presents reasonable conclusions, although the proof is in the performance.

One thing I'm sure about is that it doesn't help the economy of the Gulf States to order a halt to all offshore drilling. It makes no sense and hands radical environmentalists who don't care about our economy or the price of energy.

It also doesn't make any sense for people who have no expertise in drilling oil wells to call those who are doing their best to stop this leak "morons." James Cameron may know a lot of smart people, but so does BP, and I'll bet theirs are more circumspect than to shoot off their mouths without knowing all the details.

One thing is pretty certain. These companies are not going to stop trying to recover oil at deeper levels, because it's there and we need it. However, they're going to have to figure out what went wrong here and develop better technology for operations at these depths.

Obama has not been acting like a leader at all through this. As Doug Schoen tells Greta Van Susteren on tonight's show, he needs to rally the country and unify us in supporting the people of the Gulf Coast. So far, his actions have wavered from ignoring the problem, to claiming he is in charge, to blaming and threatening criminal action, and always it has all been about him. He has tried to show concern and sympathy, but it isn't in him. He's basically a blank wall emotionally. While he's not a false emoter like Bill Clinton, he doesn't seem to have the human feelings he was so famous for inspiring during his campaign. His biggest problem is that he's not a manager and won't be in the foreseeable future.

There he goes again! Obama seeks to distract us from the crisis at hand.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

How Washington Just Worsened the Gulf Oil Spill. Announcing criminal investigations, unlike the approach of the NTSB in airplane crashes, puts the industry on defense, rather than enlisting its support and best efforts to solve the immediate problem and prevent future ones.

I think we have an answer for why so many of Obama's appointees have proven incompetent. "White House political team stumbles, bumbles" proclaims Politico. And David Broder writes unpersuasively that Obama hasn't reached his Jimmy Carter moment yet, because the BP spill hasn't spawned a nightly news report.

All this has reminded me of the element of Greek tragedy called "hubris." He has tried to be like that Olympian, FDR, and it is being shown not to be up to the task. He assumed that the passage of Health Care Reform would make him beloved, but it has backfired. His encouragement of unprecedented and untargeted spending has made him look reckless and arrogant. His style of rhetoric has ceased to be inspirational and become thin-skinned and lecturing, and his public perception has turned to one of a cold, uncaring President who claims to be focused on the BP Spill but spends most of his time greeting sports champions, golfing and traveling. That may be unfair, but it only underscores the contrast between what he claims and how he actually performs. The comparisons to Jimmy Carter continue to mount, with ominous implications for the Democrats.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

The rush to judge Israel.

This oil spill is not the end of the world. As I've said before here, nature does a lot to clean up these spills.

I remember reading about a mine near my home which used to produce ozokerite, a naturally occurring form of paraffin, which has a relatively high melting point, which was used as a plastic for such things as telephone mouthpieces, before chemists discovered the varieties of plastics which could be made from coal tar and petroleum. Ozokertite is still widely used, but it is produced by refineries as a distillate of petroleum and is no longer mined. The reason for mentioning this is that in its natural state ozokerite came from pools of oil which bubbled up to the surface where they evaporated leaving this black mineral behind. It looks like coal, but it floats in water and can be melted with a match flame, at least sufficiently to show that it isn't coal.

Another thing to consider is this point from an article on how dispersants work:
The good news, if there is any, is that crude oil in itself is largely biodegradable. It is made of dinosaurs, [Not really, but it was made from once living things.] after all, and naturally occurring bacteria and other underwater microorganisms will feed on crude oil and break it down. The trouble (beyond the devastating effects of 11 million gallons) is that oil’s cohesive properties—the same qualities that make oil-coated measuring cups a pain to wash—mean a vast oil slick like the one currently blanketing the Gulf presents very little molecular surface area to the bacteria that would take it down.
What is needed is surfactants and one of those is lecithin, which is used in the food industry to create suspensions like mayonnaise. I don't know if lecithin works on crude oil or is available in the amounts that would be necessary, but chemical dispersants, such as detergents, can do much the same thing, which is why they're used to clean oil-soaked birds and other critters, but even without these, the natural action of waves, currents and tides breaks up oil slicks and eventually, they get broken down by naturally occurring bacteria.

Nevertheless, it's going to be bad for some time, but it isn't hopeless. I just read an article about the ten biggest oil spills in history and the Exxon Valdez wasn't even mentioned.

I'm not ignoring the horror of this thing, but I do think that we need some perspective. We also need better technology before we allow any more wells this deep in the ocean. And we ought to be using the oil shale and coal we have beneath our lands, and quit being lead around by environmental activists with junk science. Keep working toward other sources of energy, but don't cripple the economy, because if we do that, the alternatives will never materialize. You'll notice in all the stories about "green" energy, there are never cost comparisons in terms we can understand, such as "this is equivalent to $X per gallon of gasoline."

How government regulations increase overfishing.
[Protestor:] Whenever anything immoral is done, there usually is profit behind it. . . .

[Christopher Costello, Professor of Natural Resource Economics at U.C. Santa Barbara:] The more control the government retains for these resources, the less well they're managed.
Costello concedes that the oceans are being overfished, but he makes the point that government regulations have only led to methods of fishing faster to catch more fish during the shorter seasons mandated by regulators. He favors an approach that guarantees each licensed fisherman a share of the total allowed catch, rather than using a time-based limit. He's basically talking about a cartel approach, but it's pretty clear that this is one case where a totally free market could lead to the tragedy of the commons.

All that's green may be blue sky.

I don't listen to the radio anymore. I guess I'm too old, or I just hate most of the current pop. But music has always been important to me and I keep hearing music in commercials that I really like.

I'm not alone. I discovered, where I discovered:

We Are the People by Empire of the Sun

Half Acre by Hem

Under the Milky Way Tonight by Sia

Major Tom (Coming Home) by Shiny Toy Guns (Lincoln)

Falling in love at a Coffee Shop by Landon Pigg

Li'l King Kong by Simple Kid (Saturn, sigh)

New Soul by Yael Nim (iTunes)

Pink Moon by Nick Drake

It's All Right Here by Renee Stahl (, who really reminds me a lot of one of my favorite singer/songwriters Karla Bonoff. I just wish she hadn't made this song exclusive to iTunes, since I subscribe to Rhapsody, where I'll purchase the rest of her songs because I can copy them to CD and play in my car.

There's also a cover of A Space Oddity ("Ground control to Major Tom . . .") by Cat Power from a Lincoln ad, although it apparently wasn't an entire track and hasn't been released for purchase.

There are more, but I didn't realize how many there were until I started checking. Now I'm surfing Adtunes to find new music. And YouTube is a place to hear the music before you buy, as is Rhapsody. A lot of the tracks I'm discovering have been around for decades (We can be Heroes by David Bowie), but I wasn't into that kind of music when it was popular. Now that we can buy music by the track, the world has opened up like when Dorothy stepped out of the house into Oz in the movie.

Update: I've also discovered, which has rankings of fastest spreading tracks. How would I ever have heard Uprising by Muse, otherwise.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

First, it was I'm in charge here! I'm responsible, and I DO care.

Then, it was I'm on the scene. I'm up to date on everything and we're doing all we can.

Today it was BP was criminally negligent and we're going to nail 'em.

He's obviously trying out different approaches to see if anything works, but there's never really been anything Obama could do about it. The whole problem is BP's to solve, and at this point, it won't matter much if they do shut it off. The horses are out of the barn. The plume is in the Gulf.

David Brooks acknowledges as much:
The failure of the top-kill technique in the Gulf of Mexico represents an interesting turning point on the Obama presidency. It symbolizes the end of the period of lightning advance and the beginning of the period of nasty stasis.. . .

Everybody is comparing the oil spill to Hurricane Katrina, but the real parallel could be the Iranian hostage crisis. In the late 1970s, the hostage crisis became a symbol of America’s inability to take decisive action in the face of pervasive problems. In the same way, the uncontrolled oil plume could become the objective correlative of the country’s inability to govern itself.

The plume taps into a series of deep anxieties. First, it taps into the anxiety that the people running our major institutions are just not that competent. Second, it feeds into the anxiety that there has been an unhappy marriage between corporations and government officials, which has had the effect of corrupting both. Most important, the plume exposes the country’s core confusion about the role of government.
There it is again--another comparison to the Carter administration and another comment on Obama's incompetence, both true and telling. The real point is that nobody can deliver on all the promises politicians make, particularly progressive politicians.

For better or worse, we're stuck with the oil plume until nature heals itself, and it will. Meanwhile, BP will suffer for the defalcations of its officers and employees. The Dems will suffer for running Washington like a frat house. Technology will improve, but it will never be perfect. Meanwhile, people like me feel like corks bobbing on the ocean and realize that there is no replacement for God. I hope we realize that, because if not, if we don't turn to him and stop doing the things that estrange us from him, there is nothing else and no shelter from the storm. We know good from evil. It's up to us.

Monday, May 31, 2010

The AP frets that ideological purity tests will increase gridlock in Washington.
People say they don't like partisan gridlock in Washington. But they're voting in ways almost certain to increase it, by punishing politicians who cooperate with the opposing party and rewarding ideological purity that pushes both sides to the fringes.
Oh, no! Not GRIDLOCK! My guess is that the AP would regard any return to balance between the parties in Congress as gridlock.

When it comes to raising taxes and spending, gridlock is exactly what the majority wants. And the Democrats will have no one but themselves to blame. We've seen plenty of how big government functions when there's nothing to check its powers.

Boy, is Joe Klein a schmo or what?Blaming this oil spill crisis on the Bush administration is not selling, and isn't going to help Obama at all. Instead, it makes the left look evasive and pathetic. Democrats have had control of Congress since 2006. They're always talking about exercising oversight over the bureaucracy. Where were they?

The fact is that the bureaucracy is more or less permanent. Only the people at the top ever change, which is one of the reasons why big government is a mistake. The founders knew that from experience, which is one of the reasons they created a limited federal government and reserved all non-numerated powers to the states and the people.

Michael Barone analyzes the comparisons of Obama's handling of the BP oil spill with George Bush's management of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
On Obama's behalf, it can be said that plugging underwater oil wells is not a government responsibility and that the extent of the disaster became clear much more slowly than was the case with Katrina.

All that said, Obama's press conference -- his first in the White House in 309 days -- did not make him look any more in command of things than the photos of Bush's flyover visit to New Orleans. The candidate who told us his electoral victory would be seen as "the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal" is now the president who seems helpless to prevent the oil slick from spreading.
Both of them were let down by the bureaucrats. Katrina had been foreseen and yet the canal wall that failed and flooded the city hadn't been strengthened. Oil spills are one of the major reasons for enacting regulations and requiring permits governing the petroleum industry. If it's true that BP was cutting corners and buying influence to circumvent those laws, it will have squandered far more than it could ever have saved. The company may not survive this.

If you can't trust federal bureaucrats and you can't trust big business, who can you trust? The cure for bad business practices is failure. The cure for bad government is to throw the bums out. That's no solace to the people of the Gulf Coast who are seeing their livelihoods ruined, but we should get over the idea that any politician or party can really protect us from the vicissitudes of life. Progressives keep assuring us of the ability of the elite to plan everything and eliminate all hardship. First, as this spill shows, they can't keep that promise, and second, even if they could, it would cost us our freedom and most of our property, the very things that has made America the world leader that it is.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Coverage of the Phoenix protest that you won't see in the mainstream media. So much for the left's desire for civility.

Ann Althouse responds to a Maureen Dowd column:
Was it his [Obama's] ability? Or were we the ones that had the ability — the ability to see him as able when he was up there on the campaign platform mouthing abstractions? He's still up there — on what Maureen Dowd calls "a balcony" — but now all the concrete problems of the world are his responsibility. He hasn't changed. He hasn't stopped doing something he was able to do before. But we have reached the end of our capacity to idealize him. We don't like him up there, looking down, where things are going so wrong. We are withholding our trust. But rightly so! This ability to trust is not a very impressive ability. Let's be critical. Being critical, we have no reason to talk about whether the President is adequately soothing us.
This made me ponder why I trusted George W. Bush, and still trust his sincerity, though not his judgment; and why I've never trusted Obama, just as I never trusted Clinton. Maybe it was that they were promising more than anybody could deliver. Bush promised "compassionate conservatism" and to bring a more civil tone to Washington. Obama promised to remake America. His campaign theme, Hope and Change, was too vague. The government has never given me hope for anything, except for fighting terrorism, which is now waning. And what kind of change? I doubt that anybody who voted for him expected high unemployment, a sluggish economy and ineptitude during crises. I thought he was inexperienced and had a naive and foolish attitude toward foreign policy.

But it wasn't Obama alone that we trusted. We elected huge majorities of Democrats to Congress. Combine that with The One in the White House, and we got to see how the country is governed without Republicans. I think that for all the sins of Republicans in the past, they'd still be better than this. In a way I agree with those who argue that Obama's being blamed unfairly for the BP spill. He didn't cause it, and the failure of government to fix it as soon as it happened is an institutional failure. What upsets me, and apparently George Will, is that government has made so many promises it couldn't keep, and that, because of the amounts of spending tied up in entitlement programs, the only savings it has been able to make come from legitimate governmental functions, like national defense and enforcing existing laws.

Bill Maher, racist.

He rants that Obama is "not acting like a 'real black president.'"