Tuesday, February 26, 2013

February 26


Prosecutors: BP's Deepwater Horizon was 'The Well From Hell'

Fireboats work on Deepwater Horizon fire

The Guardian:

The man in charge of BP's ill-fated Deepwater Horizon rig warned his boss that staff were operating in "chaos, paranoia and insanity" just days before a fatal blowout killed 11 men and caused the worst oil spill in US history, a New Orleans court heard on Monday.

In opening arguments Michael Underhill, the lawyer representing the US Department of Justice, said BP knew it was drilling a "well from hell" but that its managers refused to deviate from a "course of corporate recklessness" that ultimately led to the fatal blowout at the Gulf of Mexico well.

The company was guilty of "willful misconduct," he said. It had calculated it needed $7bn (£4.6bn) to pay shareholders their dividend and put immense pressure on staff to save money and drill faster in order to reach that target, he said. "A safety corner cut a day saved was a $1m saved for BP," said Underhill.

The civil trial began on Monday in courtroom 268 of the US district court in New Orleans after the apparent collapse of settlement talks over the weekend. This case is the first of two and will decide how this tragedy happened and who caused it to happen. A second will determine exactly how much oil was spilled. BP faces a potential fine of $17.6bn. The case will be decided by judge Carl Barbier.

"The tragedy of this case," said Underhill, is that it was caused by failures that "didn't even amount to pocket change." He told of problems that could've been solved with "as little as a 10-secondphone call" or "a 30-second walk down to the tool pusher."

An email showed the jawdropping depth of the negligence of Deepwater Horizon managers.

Underhill said the "extraordinary document … explains why 11 men needlessly lost their lives". On 17 April, [well team leader John] Guy told [operations manager David] Sims that BP's well site leaders "were at wits' end" and there was a "huge level of paranoia that was riding chaos". The well was proving impossible and they were "trying to make sense of all the insanity". "The operation is not going to succeed if we continue in this manner," he warned.

Sims responded that he had to go to dance practice in a few minutes. "I'll be back soon and we can talk. I'm dancing to the Village People," he wrote.

Just amazing. If the result weren't such a tremendous tragedy, this would all be comically absurd.


Texas GOP: We'll Punish You If You Don't Discriminate

Posted on February 25, 2013 at 7:00 pm by JM Ashby

I respect that you can't force everyone to agree with you and that there will always be a certain segment of society that will oppose social progress because it's part of their identity, but punishing others because they choose not to discriminate is a special brand of asinine.

Two Republican Texas lawmakers have filed bills that would cut funding for schools and universities that have policies supporting their LGBT students and staff.

Last fall, the Pflugerville School District announced it would be the first in Texas to offer domestic partner benefits to the same-sex partners of its teachers and staff. State Rep. Drew Springer (R) isn't happy about this, and has filed a bill (HB 1568) to cut 7.5 percent of a district's healthcare funding if it offers such benefits.

During his appearance on Meet the Press yesterday, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal implied that he doesn't believe the Republican party needs to support social equality, such as marriage equality, to win elections (so much for not being the "stupid party"), but I'm not convinced.

I don't believe any form of discrimination will be seen as socially acceptable or electable in the future outside of local elections where small pockets of voters can be pandered to directly. A point that Jon Hunstman articulated quite well in a column published last week.

But it's difficult to get people even to consider your reform ideas if they think, with good reason, you don't like or respect them. Building a winning coalition to tackle the looming fiscal and trust deficits will be impossible if we continue to alienate broad segments of the population. We must be happy warriors who refuse to tolerate those who want Hispanic votes but not Hispanic neighbors. We should applaud states that lead on reforming drug policy. And, consistent with the Republican Party's origins, we must demand equality under the law for all Americans.

The Republican party also needs to adopt reform ideas that aren't rubbish, a point which Huntsman does not concede, but doing so would be for naught if you continue to campaign on conservative identity politics that isolates voters.

Of course if you sidelined the social animosity, the proud stupidity, and failed economic policies, the Republican party wouldn't have much of an identity (or many members) left.


Nice Things And Why We Can't Have Them

Posted on February 25, 2013 at 3:30 pm by JM Ashby

The federal deficit has been reduced during every fiscal year since President Obama took office beginning with fiscal 2010, but you wouldn't know it if you asked the average American.

via Steve Benen

Deficit Poll

A 62% majority believe the deficit is getting bigger, 28% believe the deficit is staying roughly the same, and only 6% believe the deficit is shrinking.

In other words, in the midst of a major national debate over America's finances, 90% of Americans are wrong about the one basic detail that probably matters most in the conversation, while only 6% — 6%! — are correct.

There's a simple explanation for this — the traditional media has utterly failed at their job of informing the public. Because while they're complaining about being unable to accompany the president during his golf game with Tiger Woods, they're engaging in lazy journalism by accepting talking points at face value.

To do otherwise would just be liberal media bias, right? Maintaining access is a higher priority than being curious.

The View From Nowhere, which says we should let viewers decide what the truth is rather than report the truth, is poisonous to the electorate.


Lacking Self-Awareness, John McCain Accuses Someone of Being Unqualified

Posted on February 25, 2013 at 2:00 pm by JM Ashby

Two weeks ago Senator John McCain said he would not join the filibuster of Chuck Hagel's confirmation as Secretary of Defense, but on the following day he broke his pledge and joined the Republican party's filibuster anyway.

Fast forward to yesterday, and McCain predicted that Hagel would be confirmed, but signaled that he may not vote for him because he believes Hagel is unqualified.

(Reuters) – Republican Senator John McCain on Sunday said his former colleague Chuck Hagel was not qualified to be U.S. defense secretary but the Senate would likely vote on his nomination rather than hold it up with procedural hurdles. [...]

"I do not believe that Chuck Hagel, who is a friend of mine, is qualified to be secretary of defense," McCain of Arizona said on CNN's "State of the Union" show.

John McCain have have chosen to selectively black out his memory of selecting Sarah Palin as his vice presidential running mate in 2008, but we haven't. And until McCain apologizes for Palin, any attempt to accuse someone else of being unqualified should be met with mockery.


Courtesy of Alternet:

A new analysis of 56 mass shootings across America since 2009 finds women and family members are the most frequent victims, and that the shooter almost always acquired his guns legally, in cases where the gunsource is known. 

"In at least 32 of the cases (57 percent), the shooter killed a current or former spouse or intimate partner or other family member, and at least eight of those shooters had a prior domestic violence charge," the Mayors Against Illegal Guns report on mass shootings said, suggesting that the problem of gun violence is far more related to violence against women in homes than rampages in public settings such as schools and theaters. 

The study also found that in the cases where the source of the guns was known, almost all were acquired legally: only two examples were given of mass killings with a stolen or illegal gun. That finding runs counter to the gun lobby's oft-cited rhetoric that only criminals abuse guns. 

"We had sufficient evidence to judge whether the shooter was a prohibited gun possessor in 42 of the 56 incidents," the report said, referring to laws barring ex-felons, mentally ill people, drug addicts and other categories of people from owning guns. "Of those 42 incidents, 15 (36 percent) involved a prohibited possessor and 27 (64 percent) did not."

You know personally I already knew this to be true but it is good to see it backed up with data.

Now the only question is can we get it out to the public at large, and help to change the debate that has for too long been shaped by theNRA and other 2nd Amendment fetishists?


Courtesy of Raw Story:

 A 4-year-old boy in Houston died early Sunday morning after finding his father's handgun and shooting himself in the stomach. 


Most Mass Shootings Target Women and Families; Study Finds Men With Legal Guns Are to Blame




What wingnuts find so utterly galling is that -- not only are the Obamas back in the White House for another four years -- they're immensely popular people. Which is why, much to wingers like Monica's chagrin, they tend to be invited to "national events."

But beyond the obvious correlation between "millions of Americans really liking you" and "getting invited to stuff" is the precedent for appearing at the Oscars set by Ronald Reagan in 1981 and Laura Bush in 2002.

But, you know, IOKIYAR.


Build a Better Vocabulary! - A man in Colorado, FRANKLIN GLENN SAIN, was arrested after threatening "to Giffords both of your asses with guns" to some lawmakers. (TPM)


Snowballs in Hell - Republican Rep. WALTER JONES of North Carolina said Saturday that former Vice President DICK CHENEY would likely end up in hell because of his role in the Iraq war:

"I have no malice towards Lamar, I have respect for him," Jones remarked. "But that again is the problem. Congress will not hold anyone to blame. Lyndon Johnson's probably rotting in hell right now because of the Vietnam War, and he probably needs to move over for Dick Cheney."

And I thought I'd see snowballs in Hell before a Republican would denounce BLAM-BLAM. (Raw Story)


The Obama administration and Democrats are sitting awfully pretty this week. This is the week that Republicans will explode, no matter what happens. Pass the popcorn.


Indiana GOP Scales Back Ultrasound Bill To Include Just One Transvaginal Probe

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