Sunday, February 26, 2012

Last Call

Nearly two years after the Deepwater Horizon spill vomited millions of gallons of crude into the Gulf of Mexico, oil giant BP and rig operator TransOcean are still pointing fingers at each other in court as the blame game begins in earnest.

BP Plc (BP) officials overseeing the Macondo well that spewed millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico ignored questions about whether safety tests done hours before a fatal blast on the drilling rig were flawed, lawyers for Transocean Ltd. (RIG) said in a court filing.

Donald Vidrine, the senior BP manager on the Deepwater Horizon rig on April 20, 2010, talked with an engineer about unsatisfactory well tests less than an hour before an explosion killed 11 workers on the rig and sent oil pouring into the waters off Louisiana, Transocean’s attorneys said in a filing tied to a trial set for tomorrow with billions of dollars at stake. Transocean owned the rig and was drilling in a well owned by BP and other partners.

While Mark Hafle, a Houston-based BP drilling engineer, warned Vidrine in a phone call that stability tests on the well might be flawed, “neither man stopped work” at the facility, Transocean officials said in the Feb. 24 filing. The BP officials allowed crews to continue displacing drilling fluid in the well with seawater, company lawyers said in the filing. Once the fluid was removed, the lighter seawater couldn’t stop natural gas from leaking into the well, leading to the explosion, the filing said.

The filing came three days before BP, Transocean, the U.S. government and plaintiffs suing over the oil spill are scheduled to begin a trial in New Orleans to apportion blame for the disaster and determine exposure to punitive damages. 

Next week's trial is going to be a pretty big deal, and I'm certainly going to be paying plenty of attention to it, as should you.

Especially the "apportion of blame and punitive damages" part.

Another Milepost On The Road To Oblivion

So, Rick Santorum said this today:

I don’t believe in an America where the separation between church and state is absolute. The idea that the church can have no influence or no involvement in the operation of the state is absolutely antithetical to the objectives and visions of our country.

To which my response is:

Seriously.  Use of the First Amendment to justify the elimination of church and state in a man who could end up President is the most wildly disturbing and idiotic thing I've heard in a very long time.  He then takes JFK's 1960 speech on the subject, stood by his declaration that the idea of separation of church and state makes Santorum "want to throw up" and then rewrites history.

“Kennedy for the first time articulated the vision saying, ‘No, faith is not allowed in the public square. I will keep it separate.’ Go on and read the speech. ‘I will have nothing to do with faith. I won’t consult with people of faith.’ It was an absolutist doctrine that was abhorrent at the time of 1960.”

This is hogwash.  Yes, some Catholics thought the President had given too much ground to the secular in that speech, but by and large it was a necessary and thoughtful speech, made by a man with deep theological convictions as to why those two powers must remain separate.  Coming from a NY Catholic family myself, Kennedy's speech has special meaning and his words remain even more true today:

I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute – where no Catholic prelate would tell the President (should he be Catholic) how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote – where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference – and where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the President who might appoint him or the people who might elect him…. I believe in a President whose views on religion are his own private affair, neither imposed upon him by the nation or imposed by the nation upon him as a condition to holding that office….
Whatever issues may come before me as President, if I should be elected – on birth control, divorce, censorship, gambling, or any other subject – I will make my decision in accordance with these views, in accordance with what my conscience tells me to be in the national interest, and without regard to outside religious pressure or dictate. And no power or threat of punishment could cause me to decide otherwise.

By the way, here's Kennedy giving that speech in 1960 in Houston:

And no, Rick Santorum is certainly no Kennedy.

This Is Why We Need Education, Folks

Like I pointed out over at Angry Black Lady's site, Rick Santorum thinks Obama is a "snob" for wanting college available to anyone who wants it.

But here's a great example of why education could be helpful:

REDFIELD, Iowa (AP) — A rural Redfield man is being treated for two gunshot wounds after an attempt to shoot a raccoon caught in a live trap backfired.
The Iowa Department of Natural Resources says 68-year-old Larry Godwin was using a 22-caliber handgun to shoot the caged raccoon at around 11 a.m. Saturday when the bullet ricocheted off the cage and struck him in the lower abdomen on the right side. He dropped the gun and it fired again, shooting him again in about the same spot.
I mean hell, that's just so crazy it had to be shared on a site dedicated to fighting Teh Stoopid. Could you have passed by a headline that read: Man Shot Twice as he Tries to Shoot Caged Raccoon?

Church Stupidity

It looks like the Pope didn't give up stupidity for lent.

Speaking at the end of a three-day Vatican conference on diagnosing and treating infertility, Benedict also reiterated church teaching that marriage is the only permissible place to conceive children. Matrimony "constitutes the only 'place' worthy of the call to existence of a new human being," he said.

The pope pressed the church ban against artificial procreation, saying infertile couples should refrain from any method to try to conceive other than sex between husband and wife.

He told the science and fertility experts in his audience to resist "the fascination of the technology of artificial fertility. Benedict cautioned the experts against "easy income, or even worse, the arrogance of taking the place of the Creator," an attitude he indicated underlies the field of artificial procreation.

Why do they care so much? Why does he feel the need to tell millions of people how they should handle their private lives? The church has always hated knowledge, which is a major red flag for intelligent people. There is nothing wrong with science. The idea that science and God cannot coexist comes from the church itself.

Then we have the case of William Rowe, who was fired for not reading the prayers verbatim.  So let me make sure I'm following.  The church sends the message that it's what you do in this life, not what you believe.  Belief without action to support it is not enough.  Yet they fire a man for not reading something word for word, but if he had raped a little boy he would just be moved and protected.  Does that about cover it?

The Message Pitch

For all the readers out there who like to complain that Barack Obama is a tool of the wealthy, congratulations!  The American Future Fund is spending $4 million in SuperPAC ads in nine swing states this month to push that exact message to help the Republicans.

The AFF offensive highlights Obama’s claim – in a 2009 interview – that he didn’t “run for office to be helping out a bunch of fat cat bankers.” The conservative group points out in its new ad that the Obama administration has included a lineup of veterans of the financial services industry, including White House chiefs of staff Rahm Emanuel, Bill Daley and Jack Lew.

“His White House is full of Wall Street executives,” the spot says. “Now, Obama’s flush with cash, returning to Wall Street for more glitzy fundraisers … Obama won’t admit to supporting Wall Street, but Wall Street sure supports President Obama.”

The AFF television ads will run on cable in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia. That’s real money going onto the airwaves in real states from a group that spent heavily in the 2010 midterms, but which has yet to fully ramp up for the 2012 general election.

Gosh, I wonder who the targets of those ads are?  After all, Nader voters cost Obama/Biden Missouri in 2008.  The Republican SuperPACs may not know who their candidate is yet, but they damn sure know who they're running against in November.  They're willing to spend big money to demoralize Obama voters already: $4 million in February, more than eight months before the election, to convince voters in swing states that Obama has failed them.

And again, these were the same SuperPAC folks that spent almost ten million in 2010 to defeat Democrats.  They're getting a head start here in 2012, and they're using an awfully familiar message to push, too.

It's the same ones we see the Useful Idiots pushing for the last two years.  Now the stakes are much higher, and the Republicans are using it to attack the Democrats.  And why wouldn't they?  It worked well for them in 2010.

If they are willing to spend $4 million in February to push this manic progressive nonsense, how much will they be willing to spend in months closer to the election?  Think about that while you're deciding which party is beholden to the 1%.
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