Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Last Call

If this video of Dr. Michio Kaku telling Matt Lauer just how completely fubared we are out in the Gulf of Mexico doesn't scare the crap out of you, nothing will.

"You would have to win the lottery to get on the first try an exact, an exact meeting at the bottom of the well in order to pump cement to shut it off," Kaku told NBC's Matt Lauer Wednesday.

If the attempt fails, the drill will be reversed, the hole will be filled with cement and they will try again.

"You have to do this over and over again until you get it just right," Kaku said. "It takes many tries. So August is optimistic."

"So this could be spewing oil for months. Could it last for a year?" asked Lauer.

"It could last for years, plural. Okay? If everything fails and all these different kinds of relief wells don't work, it could be spewing stuff into the Gulf until we have dead zones, entire dead zones in the Gulf. For years," Kaku said.

Shut them all down.  Now.

Putting All Your Chips In With A Two-Seven Off Suit

For you non Texas Hold-Em fanatics out there, that title means literally betting everything you have on the worst hand possible.  For you political junkies, you'll recognize the metaphor's meaning as AmSpec's Peter Ferarra boldly predicts that President Obama will be forced to resign Nixon-style well before November 2012.

What follows would be the sharpest, most prescient satire of right-wing talking points about Obama I've read in some time if it wasn't for the fact that Ferarra is dead serious:  worst-case scenarios for the oil disaster lasting years, Joe Sestak's job offer becoming an impeachable offense, the economy plunging into a full-blown depression, gas prices spiking about $4 a gallon, and on top of that Iran nuking Israel.

You know, if all that happened on any President's watch:  Chuck Norris, Neo from the Matrix, Jesus Christ...yeah, they'd have to resign too.

But Ferarra going all in that this is guaranteed to happen?  Priceless.  Future Stupidity files ahoy!

Zandar's Thought Of The Day

What Atrios said.
The smart thing for BP to do is funnel all its cash out the door in the form of executive bonuses and stock dividends.
No cash on hand, gosh we can't afford to pay for the cleanup, or the liabilities, or the punitive damages...

Israel Goes Cold Turkey, Part 3

Nothing good will come of this.  Greg Sargent:
With another aid ship currently steaming towards Gaza, the Post reported this morning that the White House is privately pressuring Israel to avoid a repeat of the raid that left nine civilians dead and provoked an international outcry that has profoundly complicated ongoing diplomatic efforts.

At today's press gaggle with reporters, White House spokesman Bill Burton confirmed the White House's private entreaties to Israel, and seemed to suggest that Israel has all but committed to avoiding a repeat performance:
BURTON: It's important to the President and to our country that we don't see the same kind of events unfold like they did the last time. So we are talking to our partners and are hopeful that we won't see a repeat.
QUESTION: Does he feel confident then that they're on the same page, that there's a shared sentiment that something like this shouldn't happen again?
BURTON: He feels confident that we're having productive conversations with them.
Umm, aren't we way past "asking" Israel to not do this again?  This seems like a recipe for utter disaster.  Israel's word not to do this again isn't exactly ironclad.  Granted, it's not like America is a any paragon of virtue here considering what we're doing in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.  But there's no way Israel isn't going to intercept any and every ship bound for Gaza at this point.

In other words, the odds of this disaster happening again within the next 72 hours is distressingly high if not bordering on absolute.

Shooting Spree In England

A taxi driver is believe to be the suspect behind a dozen shooting deaths in a shooting spree in County Cumbria, England today.
At least 12 people have been killed and many more injured after a gunman -- believed to be a local taxi driver -- went on a shooting spree through three small towns in the English county of Cumbria on Wednesday.

After a large scale search, Cumbria police found the body of the suspected gunman, 52-year-old Derrick Bird, in a wooded area of Boot, a village in the Lake District, a popular tourist area.

Police named Bird as a suspect soon after the first shooting mid-morning on Wednesday in the Irish Sea port town of Whitehaven.

"Our focus is now on the movements of Mr. Bird this morning," authorities said. "Our thoughts are with the families in these tragic times. We are asking for any witnesses to come forward and help us with our investigation into the events of this morning."

In his first parliamentary question time since becoming British prime minister, David Cameron said the government would do whatever it could to help the communities affected.

"When lives and communities are suddenly shattered in this way, our thoughts should be with all those caught up in these tragic events, especially the families and friends of those killed or injured," he said.
Pretty tragic event.  See, we're not the only country where folks go on shooting sprees.  That's terribly unfortunate, too.

Specifically Not Feelin' Randy, Part 7

Remember that 25-point lead Rand Paul had just after the Kentucky Senate primary?  Yeah, he doesn't have that anymore.
The new Rasmussen poll of Kentucky finds Republican nominee Rand Paul continuing to lead Democrat Jack Conway in the state's big Senate race -- but also suggests that the controversy surrounding Paul's statements against the Civil Rights Act of 1964 could potentially hurt him.

The numbers: Paul 49%, Conway 41%. The survey of likely voters has a ±4.5%. In a poll taken the day after the May 18 primary, which Paul won in a landslide, He had a much bigger lead over Conway of 59%-34%. The poll also says that 73% of voters have followed the news about Paul's comments somewhat closely or very closely. Forty-five percent say Paul's comments will be somewhat or very important to how they vote, with 47% saying it will be not very important or not all important to how they vote.
Make no mistake, Paul's still up by more than enough to win.  But clearly the more Kentucky voters get to know Rand Paul, the less they like about him.  And it's a long road to November.  Just two weeks ago, Paul was up by 25.  Now he's up by only 8, and more importantly, this is the first time I've seen Paul under the 50% line in a Rasmussen poll.  He's lost two-thirds of his lead in just a couple of disastrous weeks.

On the other hand, that leaves Paul plenty of time to recover if Conway doesn't play his cards right.  We'll see.

Getting Out Obama's Oil Stains

Nate Silver crunches the poll numbers for Obama and the Democrats and finds out that the President is starting to pay a price for the Deepwater Horizon disaster.
Although the trend is not very robust -- it may just be statistical noise -- the notion of some modest downward pressure on Obama's numbers rings true to me. On the one hand, this is a real event, a really horrible event, that real people are noticing -- and not the sort of ginned-up faux scandal that can dominate Washington's coverage during slow periods in the political cycle. Although it's dangerous to relate from personal experience, a lot of people in my social circle have certainly been thinking about the disaster in the Gulf, including what they perceive to be a lackluster response from the White House.

On the other hand, it's not exactly clear what the critique is. The most widespread criticism of Obama is simply that he's expanding government too much, too fast (in other words, that he's too liberal). In the case of the oil spill, however, the prevailing sentiment seems to be that Obama was not quick enough to get the government involved, and was too deferential to BP. I don't mean to oversimplify this -- I recognize that there's a perfectly coherent intellectual position which holds, for instance, that deficits are a huge problem, but also that the White House needed to intervene more forcefully in the Gulf. Nevertheless, the criticisms have been somewhat orthogonal to the usual ones that the Administration receives.

There are, of course, other strands of criticism too -- like Maureen Dowd's refrain that Obama is too aloof and dispassionate, and the argument (mostly from liberals) that contrary to perceptions, the White House is in fact too slack with major corporations. Those adhere into a more coherent anti-Obama narrative when it comes to the Gulf disaster. On the other hand, they are probably not things that people on Main Street are talking or thinking much about.

Mostly I simply think that the disaster is reinforcing people's frustration -- an emotion that has become very widespread within the country, and which crosses most demographic and political boundaries. If that remains the prevailing mood of the country in November, the risks to the incumbent President and his incumbent party are mostly to the downside.
Quite frankly, the longer this goes on, the more damage Obama takes.  Should the absolute worst case scenario go into effect, that is the relief wells fail and oil is still gushing out on Election Day and wrecking the coast from Brownsville, Texas to Bar Harbor, Maine, the Democrats are pretty much through.  Fair or unfair, the public will throw them out on their asses this fall and hand the country right back over to the GOP.

Better hope one of these Wile E. Coyote plans works and damn fast.

Never Saw Such A Disgrace

Because there hasn't been enough Looney Tunes music playing in the background over BP's Operation I Thought You Had The Blueprints, now the saw blade engineers are using to cut the riser pipe is stuck.
Beleaguered BP hit another snag Wednesday morning in its attempt to cap the undersea gusher responsible for the worst oil spill in U.S. history.

The blade of a diamond wire cutter being used to slice off the damaged riser pipe got stuck -- much like a saw on a tree limb -- and stalled the "cut and cap" operation, said U.S. Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, the federal government's point man on the Gulf oil spill.

Allen, however, said he did not see it as a huge problem and expected the maneuver to continue.

BP's goal is to free the saw -- described as a giant deli slicer -- and put in a new blade if needed to finish the second cut later Wednesday, Allen said at a news conference.

The operation involves remote-controlled robots used to sever the damaged riser pipe. Engineers then plan to place a custom fit cap over the well stub.

Allen said how snugly that cap fits and stops oil from gushing depends on how smoothly the riser pipe is cut.
"It's a question of how much precision we can bring to it," he said.
Nice to see our best and brightest are on the job, eh?

At this point, the federal government would be doing BP a huge favor by taking over the company, as it is I don't want my taxpayer dollars used to any operation this completely incompetent. Let the stock price drop until ExxonMobil or Royal Dutch Shell can buy them out, then let them worry about dealing with what's left of the company.

Concrete Evidence Of Stupidity

John Cole notes this classic overreaction by David Frum to the proscribed materials in the Gaza blockade:
I’m speechless:
On Monday, Israeli ships stopped a flotilla carrying materials that could be used for war, including cement that Israel maintained could be used to build bunkers, to Hamas-ruled Gaza. The crew of one boat resisted violently, triggering a firefight in which nine people were killed, most of them Turkish nationals.
Cement! It is far worse than I thought! You all were probably worried about countries or terrorist groups getting nukes, but apparently there are nefarious uses for cement! That stuff is all over the place- I look outside and I see it everywhere. My porch is itself a Quran away from waging an insurgency on my pansies. Should I call homeland security?

That’s reasonable conservative David Frum, author of the axis of evil phrase, who apparently is dumb enough to write stuff like this for CNN, but not quite wingnutty enough to get a gig at the Washington Post.
You know what?  By that logic, Israel should blockade food and water because they might be used by terrorists.  In fact, I think it's the duty of the American taxpayer to supply Israel with a massive dome to put over Gaza in order to suck out all the oxygen and provide oxygen tanks only to those Palestinians who can prove beyond any doubt that they are not Hamas quadruple agents.

It's the only way to protect Israel's vital national security interests, by assuming that every Palestinian is a Jew-hating suicide bomber and making sure they can't use the Grey Shari'a Demon, Concrete to protect themselves from Israel's holy right to collective punishment.

You know what else is banned in Gaza?  Newspapers and fishing line.  Lord knows what the Islamist bastards could do with knowledge and fish.

Silent Theater

Lost in the shuffle of yesterday's news, the Supreme Court all but gutted your "right to remain silent" when arrested with a 5-4 decision stating that you must actively tell law enforcement officials you want to remain silent.
In a 5-4 decision, the court ruled that if a suspect has been read and understands his or her Miranda rights, police can interrogate him or her indefinitely, unless the suspect tells them outright that he or she is not talking to them.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor, writing a dissent, said the decision "turns Miranda upside down," referring to the procedure that requires police to inform suspects of their rights. At the University of Michigan Law School, criminal law expert Eve Brensike Primus said it "shifts the balance of power in the interrogation room."

Police, though, said they believe the court got it right: Macomb County Sheriff Mark Hackel said law enforcement should be able to keep questioning a suspect who neither talks nor claims outright his or her right to remain silent. If the suspect wants to end the interview, he or she can say so. 
So understand now if you say nothing to the cops when you're arrested, they will keep interrogating you until you tell them you're not talking.  The right itself to remain silent is no longer assumed to be the baseline, but something the suspect now has to invoke

And the police state is given a little more power.


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