Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Trying to Hide the Oil

I have been talking about the irresponsible and dangerous use of dispersant by BP for weeks. Not only about the unknown and untested health hazard, but also the fact that BP is using this stuff to hide the spilled oil beneath the surface. BP is so brazen that they bluntly tell us this. (Type "dispersant" into the search box on the right and see for yourself.)

They tell us that they are keeping the oil off of the surface because it is a good thing. They also told us that only 1,000 barrels per day were leaking, then 5,000. Then 13,000. Then they told us they collected more than that in a single day. Actually, BP told us nothing. 4-star puppet Thad Allen proudly told us all of that. After he told us that the flow rate was not "undetermined."

Well, guess what? A BP executive is rumored to be ready to tell Congress that the plan has always been to use the dispersant to hide the oil from sight and minimize the visuals. Using poison as PR. This screen shot was pulled this morning (6/30/10 at 11:10 AM EDT) and looky. Dispersant by the gallon! The white cloudy liquid is pure dispersant being pumped into the gulf at the wellhead.

I have said this before and I am going to say it again. The dispersant being used (Corexit) was never intended for underwater application. It was never meant to be used in these amounts - now approaching 1.5 million gallons. And it has never been tested to see what the long term effects are. This is not the fault of Corexit manufacturer Nalco. This is BP and the government.

At the outset, BP said the intent was to keep the oil off the surface. They made it sound good and the press - always eager to take an easy route - went along with it. Then BP was ordered to cease use of this stuff by EPA. Period. BP and Admiral Allen said no. The stuff was needed to keep the oil off the surface. EPA said limit it to 15,000 gallons per day. 15,000 gallons of poison per day. BP and the admiral said no. More was needed. EPA backed off. The administration backed off and accepted the "keep the oil off the surface" nonsense.

Nonsense? Yes. See, oil tends to rise to the surface in water where it can be seen and collected. It is the "seen" part that BP and the administration were eager to avoid. They desperately wanted to prevent images of huge oil slicks. Undersea application of dispersant seemed a magic answer. No horrible images to explain. Made it easier to sell the bogus 5,000 barrel numbers.

The truth? Well, that dispersed oil is just hidden beneath the Gulf. Where cameras cannot record it. Serious marine scientists were pointing this out almost immediately. The identification of undersea oil plumes was made day after day and denied daily by both BP and the administration. In fact is was not until late last week that anyone from the Obama team admitted there might be oil under the surface. And even then, they sought to minimize the reality.

Well, that undersea oil is starting to come ashore all over the place. Slicks that were not on the surface suddenly appear on beaches. BP's concept of hiding the oil is not working and the administration remains totally unconcerned about the fact that the Gulf is now not only choked with oil at a still undetermined rate daily, but now also features the intentional addition of a known toxin with the sole purpose of hiding the oil.

Someone asked me after my least post on this topic why I keep pointing to Obama on this. Well, it is simple. He ran on an environmentalist platform. Save the environment. Keep it green. And so on. The spill itself, well, that is his administration's fault to an extent for issuing the permit without the environmental review. But the dispersant? All his. His EPA issued an order to BP to stop with the dispersant. They backed down. More than once.

BP and Admiral Allen simply refused to comply with an order. They claimed keeping the oil off the surface was a good thing. They seemed to be trying to tell us that the dispersant would magically make the oil go way. This despite repeated reports of undersea oil. Yet the administration, until last week, denied all of this. NOAA denied the existence of undersea oil despite pictures. EPA denied the toxicity of the dispersant. Everyone denied that the dispersant was a PR stunt. And now a BP exec is poised to tell the truth about this charade.

What does this mean? Well, in simple terms, Obama's EPA allowed the poisoning of the Gulf to save it. And it is not working. The oil will continue to come ashore. The Gulf will continue to be destroyed. Marshes and beached will continue to be ruined.

And the administration and BP can at least say they avoided some really nasty photos. Because to this administration, on this issue, it is all about symbolism and not at all about reality.

Perhaps Congress needs to focus a little here. But wait, the 2 Senators from Louisiana are flush with BP campaign money. And, in a moment of bipartisanship, there is one of each - a corrupt Democrat in Mary Landrieu and an equally corrupt Republican in David Vitter.

For shame on the lot of them. Poisoning the Gulf for PR purposes. Adding insult in the form of dispersant to the injury of the oil itself.

I am offering shirts with this design and will be sending the profits directly to the Plaquemines Parish Fund that is set up to help the folks most hurt by this mess.

I spoke to the good folks at Plaquemines and I have to say that for people living a horror show, they are some of the nicest and most grateful people you would ever want to talk to.

Please help out and get the message out at the same time.

You can order them here:

Monday, June 28, 2010

Supremely Silly

Hearings open today in the Senate Judiciary Committee on the nomination of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court. Of all of the things that the Senate does, this one is at the top of the important list. Not only is it actually in the actual Constitution (a document frequently ignored or misquoted by Senators on both sides) but it is a decision that will affect generations of Americans.

Most Senators take this very seriously. Most try to put aside the partisan nonsense and hold fair hearings. Or they used to anyway. I have noted before that Republicans are far more likely to have dignified proceedings than Democrats. This is simple history.

However, history is not preamble and things change. Sadly, I suspect that Kagan's hearings will be more about November elections and political spitballs than the actual Supreme Court.

Needless to say, the hard conservative branch of the GOP in the Senate is going to vote no on Kagan no matter what. They would vote no on their spouse's nomination if Obama made it. That is their plan and mantra. That voting no on everything regardless of what will somehow lead them to a glorious victory in November.

The hard liberal branch of the Democrats in the Senate will, of course, vote yes. They would vote to approve a rooster for Secretary of Defense if it was an Obama pick. Their mantra and plan - approving everything blindly with zero regard for the consequence will lead to a glorious victory in November.

For the record, these same sides voted the opposite way on most Bush nominations. They just vote reflexively and represent nobody as they do so. For these 2 hardened ideological camps, it is all about the next election and forwarding the packaged agenda.

That leaves a decent number of Senators that still exercise some free will when voting. Not many, but some. It is difficult to enumerate them or even identify them since they prefer to be very quiet and do not race for the cameras.

The hearings themselves will be about November. They will be more of the same stupid ideological tug of war that has effectively stymied progress for years if not decades. For the pathetic collection of soiled egos on the committee, these hearings will be about the president and the sitting court, not Kagan or her qualifications.

Both sides seem to agree that she is qualified. Nobody has come forth with anything that is really a factor that would lead to her not being confirmed. The weeks of research and investigation have turned up little that is even controversial. But that really won't matter when the lights come up in the committee room. It won't really be about Kagan.

The one serious controversy surrounding her is the decision she made as president of Harvard Law School to ban military recruiters over the "Don't ask, don't tell" policy. Was this wrong? Well, as an American I am offended that our military is excluded from recruiting the best and the brightest. However, I also recognize that Harvard has a long tradition of this and rules in place regarding it. Is it a disqualifying factor? Probably not. However, it should raise serious questions about her position regarding the law (don't ask, don't tell is law) versus school policy.

Were this to be the level of disqualification, we would have no justices on the court. Not one of them would survive this process as it now stands. In fact, some of the great jurists to ever serve on the court would fail this nomination/confirmation process.

Two Senators' recent comments on the Kagan nomination stand out as particularly goofy.

Jeff Sessions says: "What Ms. Kagan's nomination says about President Obama will be part of the discussion." Really? Is Obama nominated for the court? Or is this just a way to toss a bunch of flaming spitballs around? Perhaps create some controversy and noise for the November election?

New York's own lawn mower man Chuck Schumer: "In decision after decision… corporations are winning over ordinary citizens. The current conservative bloc is bending the Constitution to suit an ideology." Come on Senator. We're not that stupid. First off, Kagan would not change the make up of the court. Secondly, didn't Schumer vote for most of those justices?

(New Yorkers will get the lawn mower man reference from his last re-election campaign)

Both are as wrong as wrong can be. Neither is looking at this nominee for her ability and qualifications. They see her as a pawn in their endless game. All they see is the next election cycle and the shifting majority. To them, it is all about the game and not at all about the people. Even something as important as a Supreme Court nomination is fodder for the endless partisan hackery. These Senators and their colleagues are unable to rise above their selfish little games and actually serve the people.

The Senate and the rest of the Congress are beholden to those that put them there. Not us. Not the voters. The money people. The lobbyists. The special interests. The 2 failed and corrupt political parties.

It is time to let these clowns in the Senate know that we are tired of these games. Tired of our government being just a kick ball in their school yard rivalry.

Come November, toss the lot of them out. No incumbent should return to office after this last Congress. They have shown themselves to be useless and irresponsible. They are blind ideologues, reading the day's talking points without comprehension. They are corrupt and arrogant.

They need to be fired. To drive home that message, I am offering T-Shirts with this message:

As a capitalist and a free market person, I am selling them for both profit and with the intent of donating to those candidates that are willing to step outside the parties and declare a concern for the Constitution and the people.

You can order them here:

Friday, June 25, 2010

Planning Behind

We are almost a full month into hurricane season and BP's plan for a tropical system in the Gulf is still the same. No contingency plan. No new equipment. In fact, BP and the Coast Guard are stumbling along with the attitude that they will somehow be immunized from any tropical system. As far as I can tell, they expect to have something by mid-July. Maybe.

Anyone that has lived in this part of the country for more than a couple of years can tell you that mid-July is late. Especially in the Gulf. Most of us have already gathered and planned for a storm. I know - the Weather Channel keeps repeating their poll that shows a lot of folks don't have a hurricane plan. Beyond the Weather Channel's propensity for making things up to suit their story and scare people, that poll covers most of the Eastern seaboard and not just the "hurricane coast."

For those of us that live in the actual target area for most storms, May is when planning starts and June is when it is done. One would think the Coast Guard and Thad Allen would know this. It is not as if the National Hurricane Center has not been warning of an active season. And last I looked, the Hurricane Center works for the ever redoubtable NOAA, which works for the same government as Thad Allen.

Of course one is the Interior Department and one is Homeland Security. If there is one thing the oil disaster has shown us it is that the government still has more problems communicating between cabinet departments than we do with most hostile nations.

Well, now there is the threat of a storm entering the Gulf of Mexico early next week. This is not a joking matter. The National Hurricane Center tends towards hesitance to talk about a storm unless there really is one.

And what is BP's plan should the storm show up next week? Well, they plan to leave. Most of the vessels currently working the spill/leak/disaster are not appropriate for the rough seas even a minor storm would bring. So they will have to simply leave and seek safe harbor.

What does this mean? It means that for at least a week - probably 2 weeks or longer, oil would flow into the Gulf unchecked and unobserved. It means that the disaster would simply get worse. It means that with all of the chatter about plans and reviews, not one of these self-proclaimed experts said, "What if a hurricane comes?" In fact, NOAA has been issuing reports trying to somehow minimize a storm's impact. Of course, this is the same NOAA that denied the existence of undersea oil plumes until yesterday.

Let's talk impact. NOAA says oil will not fall in the rain a storm would bring. Really? Does that include dispersant emulsified oil? The report only talks about raw crude oil. The winds and seas of a storm would radically change the state of the emulsified oil. What about just the dispersant? How does that work in a storm. Nobody knows because nobody ever dealt with this much dispersant.

One of the phenomena associated with tropical systems is "churning" or "upwelling." Basically this is what happens when the storm stirs the water, bringing up water from lower depths as it picks up the warmer surface water. Normally this is a good thing. However, that deeper water is now contaminated with untold amounts of oil and dispersant. What happens there? Well, it is fairly obvious. The dispersant laden oil would spread further and faster. Does NOAA have a comment on that? Nope.

How about the "millions of feet" of boom? What happens with that stuff? Again, no plan. No thought. No concept. What happens is the storm picks it up and moves it, along with the oil coating it. Depending on which way the storm goes, the oil soaked boom could end up inland or just become millions of feet of flying debris. Oil soaked toxic debris.

A serious storm will bring a dispersant and oil laden surge. Depending on strength or location, the prediction of an oil slick on Bourbon Street is not that far fetched. The marshes and wetlands that are now oil coated would be damaged beyond repair. The oil kills the grass which has the roots that hold the island together. Take away the roots and the island washes away. Forever.

Thad Allen says he would need 6-7 days to get everyone out of the way of even a minimal storm. And what happens to the oil over that week? Guess. Add another week to that for the getting everything back in place. And the oil? Still leaking out into the Gulf. The dispersant? Still poisoning everything it touches.

The government and BP? Pretending it won't happen. Just like they pretended the spill couldn't happen.

I hope there is no storm. Only the seriously demented - like Jim Cantore and The Weather Channel - hope for a storm. But I have lived here too long to not prepare for one.

The simple fact that there was not a cohesive storm plan in place immediately speaks volumes to the incompetence and poor planning that have become standard in handling this disaster. Perhaps when NOAA is through with their scary "climate change" chatter and FEMA is done with the endless scary hurricane chatter, they can actually do their jobs and put together a plan for a real storm in a real place based on real science.

Yeah, right.

I am offering shirts with this design and will be sending the profits directly to the Plaquemines Parish Fund that is set up to help the folks most hurt by this mess.

I spoke to the good folks at Plaquemines and I have to say that for people living a horror show, they are some of the nicest and most grateful people you would ever want to talk to.

Please help out and get the message out at the same time.

You can order them here:

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Under the Surface....

This just in - NOAA discovers underwater oil plumes partially caused by dispersant linked to BP oil spill.

I did not make that up. NOAA has finally stepped up and admitted the glaringly obvious. There are undersea plumes of oil - despite BPs' continued denials - and they seem to be chemically dispersed droplets. Why the delay in calling these what they are? Well, NOAA administrator Jane Lubchenco was way too busy denying their existence and calling other research "premature."

And where was NOAA and their illustrious leader? She was way too busy yapping about "climate change" to take serious notice that the Gulf of Mexico was rapidly changing into chemically enhanced sludge. Rather than take on her EPA pals and identify the dispersant as a problem, Lubchenco fell back on the tried and true bureaucratic method. She just denied the problem. Well, those days are over. Her own scientists have proven her wrong.

As recently as 3 days ago, this sterling example of a scientist turned bureaucrat was making reference to "collectible concentrations of oil" in her denying of reality. She was repeatedly parroting the BP/Thad Allen mantra that the dispersant was harmless and not an issue. In fact, her agency was busy producing spill maps and forecasts that were far rosier than the reality.

Collectible oil. Now that would be funny were it not so obviously designed to conceal the existence of the plumes that oceanographers have been pointing to for weeks now. It would be an interesting phrase if it was not the end result of BP's (with government endorsement) ongoing use of these dispersants to hide the bulk of the spilled oil from plain sight. Collectible oil would be an interesting phrase if it did not imply non-collectible oil. Oil intentionally diluted and kept sub-surface with dispersants just to prevent a larger visible surface slick.

I have been saying this for weeks and weeks. The dispersants compound and worsen the problem. The use of millions of gallons of what is a very dangerous and caustic chemical is meant to do just one thing - hide the oil. Keep it from the surface. The endless pumping of this stuff into the oil a mile below the surface is meant to minimize the surface slick.

Exactly. A chemical known to be dangerous to humans - let alone aquatic life - is being used in unheard of quantities for PR purposes. And Obama's EPA is OK with this. The only reason to use this much dispersant undersea is to keep the oil from coming up to the surface where it can be seen and collected. The intent from the start was to try to hide the severity of the problem.

Instead, the frivolous use of dispersant has allowed the oil to spread much further than is obvious and do so under the surface where it cannot be easily seen, tracked or collected. The wanton pumping of this stuff into the oil has created a new problem that we will be dealing with for decades. The oil is now spread in near microscopic droplets over a massive area where fish can consume it. Since it is now tiny particles that don't rise to the surface, the oil and dispersant is now able to infiltrate the entire Gulf of Mexico life cycle.

See, oil and water don't normally mix well. Oil tends to want to float. This floating tendency has always given us the ability to track and pick up spilled oil. But the dispersant allows an emulsion of oil, water and dispersant to form. This alters the actual water itself. Now the emulsified oil/dispersant mixture is small enough to ride along with the water wherever it goes. At any depth.

University researchers and marine experts have been saying this for weeks. Environmentalists and fishermen have been saying this. I have been saying it. But, until today, the government has been ignoring it, preferring the "out of sight, out of mind" method of crisis management.

In interviews, Lubchenco seems to be parroting BP Chief Executive Tony Hayward when it comes to the size of the spill - both surface and hidden.

According to her, "It is a big Gulf out there." Yeah, a big Gulf. A big dying Gulf.

I am offering shirts with this design and will be sending the profits directly to the Plaquemines Parish Fund that is set up to help the folks most hurt by this mess.

I spoke to the good folks at Plaquemines and I have to say that for people living a horror show, they are some of the nicest and most grateful people you would ever want to talk to.

Please help out and get the message out at the same time.

You can order them here:

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

This is Obama's Moment

As I type this, the president is sitting down with General McChrystal to discuss the general's recent comments as revealed in a Rolling Stone article. There has been a lot of pundit talk about what should happen. Amazingly, most of Congress has kept quiet on this, awaiting today's meeting.

One point that is lost in all of the noise and dust is somewhat buried in the article. That is the frustration of the front line troops with the existing rules of engagement. More on that below.

By now, everyone is aware of the general's comments and those of his staff. They were uncomplimentary to the president and his staff, otherwise known as the Civilian Command. Now, like Obama or not, he is the Commander in Chief. We only have one at a time, and he is it. This is not an optional acceptance for the military. Their oath is to the Constitution.

Reports are that McChrystal will offer his resignation. Obama should accept it and demand the resignation of his staff as well. As Commander in Chief he has little choice. This is not a new situation for a president. Ask Patton or MacArthur. Outstanding commanders who both violated the rules.

McChrystal's comments - which he does not deny - are a direct violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Here are the sections he and his staff violated:

"Any commissioned officer who uses contemptuous words against the President, the Vice President, Congress, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of a military department, the Secretary of Transportation, or the Governor or legislature of any State, Territory, Commonwealth, or possession in which he is on duty or present shall be punished as a court-martial may direct. "

"Any commissioned officer, cadet, or midshipman who is convicted of conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman shall be punished as a court-martial may direct."

"All disorders and neglects to the prejudice of good order and discipline in the armed forces, all conduct of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces, and crimes and offenses not capital, of which persons subject to this chapter may be guilty, shall be taken cognizance of by a general, special or summary court-martial, according to the nature and degree of the offense, and shall be punished at the discretion of that court."

These are not flexible rules like traffic laws. They exist for a purpose. And the US Military is well aware of that. McChrystal not only proffered these comments, but allowed an environment among his staff to exist that emboldened them to violate these rules. The general knows this. This is not about politics or points. This is about the military and the chain of command.

Buried in the Rolling Stone article is the real problem in Afghanistan. The real reason we have been there for this long. The real reason we cannot progress beyond a point. They complain about having to fight with one arm behind their backs. They are right.

The front line troops are frustrated by the existing rules of engagement and that I blame on both the prior and current administrations and the Congress for falling for the "civilian casualty/collateral damage" lie that the UN and their buddies have cooked up. Only the US and Israel get slapped for that and for the last 8 years, the military has been constrained by it. Obviously it is wrong to just shoot up a village, but it is not wrong to bomb an enemy stronghold. Especially when we know this enemy uses civilians, schools and churches as shields.

We know that this enemy has no qualms about killing hundreds of innocent civilians just because they can. We know that they hide in and among the civilian population. Our troops know this, yet they are asked to not fight this enemy to win. They are asked to worry about PR value.

Well, war is ugly. Nasty, sad, messy and ugly. It is supposed to be that way. We seem to have fallen prey to the world view that war is some kind of surgical procedure. We have allowed the UN and the rest to tell us how best to conduct ourselves. The same UN that refuses to denounce terrorists. The same UN that condemns Israel for defending itself and never condemns the killing of Israeli civilians by Palestinian terrorists.

We should stop listening to these sideline barking cowards. They are not in this fight. It was not their cities that came under attack and it was not their civilians that perished by the thousands. If we are going to fight this war, then fight it to win.

When McChrystal offers his resignation, Obama should accept it. Reluctantly and with sadness, but he should accept it. Military discipline and tradition demand no less. Then Obama should change the rules and allow our troops to fight to win.

This is indeed Obama's command moment. I hope he does the right thing for the military and our troops and not the popular or easy thing.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

It's the Dispersant, Stupid!

I happen to be working pretty late tonight, and as always, I have one of the video feeds from the floor of the Gulf open on my other computer. I looked over and saw this image. For the record, this is a screen capture from the Skandi Rov2 feed taken at 2:33 AM Eastern time. The label applied to this feed by BP is "Dispersant Ops." The white liquid is the dispersant.

Apparently, while still unable to stop the leak, the folks at BP have come up with a way to increase the amount of dispersant being intentionally pumped into the Gulf. The orange ring that is pumping the dispersant out is something new. At least, I have never seen it. Up until now, the dispersant has been coming through single hoses. This is a growing secondary problem that I firmly believe will soon be a huge problem.

We hear about unintended consequences all the time. Be it related to war or development or hastily passed laws, it is a phrase being used more often daily. Well the dispersant is going to prove to be the unintended consequence of this mess. What makes it all the worse is that this stuff was not supposed to be used at all.

In the interests of actual transparency, I am not an engineer, chemist or scientist. But I can read and think.

Let me first say that this is in no way directed at Nalco, the manufacturer of Corexit. They make a product designed for surface use. Corexit is basically a surfactant, sort of like dishwashing liquid. It breaks the surface tension of the oil and allows it to be washed away. It does not disappear it anymore than dishwashing liquid disappears the food from your pans. It just allows it to wash off and into the drain.

The problems with the dispersant use are numerous. First and foremost, the overall effect on the environment is unknown since this product is not intended for underwater use and not in these quantities. Latest estimates run around 64,000 gallons per day. To my knowledge, there has never been any level of testing of this much Corexit being used.

Next up is BP's brazenly stated reason for using the stuff this way. They say they are keeping the oil off the surface. That is their sole reasoning. Before I get into this, let me add that this reasoning is endorsed by Admiral Allen, and therefore okey-dokey with the environmental president. The problem with keeping it off the surface like this is two-fold.

First off, the oil that does reach the surface could be picked up at sea if we had the equipment (a different issue altogether). Oil that is broken up and remains below the surface never goes away. It is dispersed over a much larger area throughout the water column and across more of the Gulf. And, since it is now laden with Corexit, it poses an almost unresolvable problem. It cannot be collected or even gathered.

The other problem is that since the Corexit breaks the oil up from large visible patches into tiny little pieces, this makes it a lot easier for it to enter the food chain. Smaller fish can consume it as they swim, which transfers it it up the food chain to larger fish and eventually the dinner plate. And, the smaller oil particles will do more damage to the plankton and the reefs since they remain underwater. As an added attraction, the oil is safely kept away from the sun, which at least could evaporate the worst of the volatile chemicals in the oil.

As to the Corexit, well, that is a problem all by itself. Look at what the manufacturer provides in public information. This is taken from their product data sheets:

Eye and skin irritant. Repeated or excessive exposure to butoxyethanol may cause injury to red blood cells (hemolysis), kidney or the liver. Harmful by inhalation, in contact with skin and if swallowed. Do not get in eyes, on skin, on clothing. Do not take internally. Use with adequate ventilation. Wear suitable protective clothing. Keep container tightly closed. Flush affected area with water. Keep away from heat. Keep away from sources of ignition - No smoking.
May evolve oxides of carbon (COx) under fire conditions.

EYE CONTACT : Can cause moderate irritation.
SKIN CONTACT : Can cause moderate irritation. Harmful if absorbed through skin.
INGESTION : May be harmful if swallowed. May cause liver and kidney effects and/or damage. There may be irritation to the gastro-intestinal tract.
INHALATION : Harmful by inhalation. Repeated or prolonged exposure may irritate the respiratory tract.
Acute : Excessive exposure may cause central nervous system effects, nausea, vomiting, anesthetic or narcotic effects.
Chronic : Repeated or excessive exposure to butoxyethanol may cause injury to red blood cells (hemolysis), kidney or the
AGGRAVATION OF EXISTING CONDITIONS : Skin contact may aggravate an existing dermatitis condition.
HUMAN HEALTH HAZARDS - CHRONIC : Contains ethylene glycol monobutyl ether (butoxyethanol). Prolonged and/or repeated exposure through inhalation or extensive skin contact with EGBE may result in damage to the blood and kidneys.

This is not a harmless chemical. In fact, Obama's EPA initially ordered BP to cease the use of Corexit and use a less harmful chemical. Well, BP and Admiral Allen were having none of that. The first limit was supposed to be 15,000 gallons per day. Based on that, I estimated a total of around 2.5 million gallons of this stuff used until the relief wells are complete. Much like the oil estimates, that is now up to between 8 and 10 million gallons.

There is no way this does not have a long term effect. It is a lot of dangerous chemical pumped into the Gulf along with the oil. Except the oil is an accident. The dispersant is intentional. And the government is allowing it. Perhaps instead of using his speech the other night to call for "clean energy," President Obama should have called for a stop to this intentional extra poisoning of the Gulf. We already have oil in there. We should not be adding more stuff if we don't have to.

One of these days, a scientist is going to let us know how harmful this stuff is. If the oil spill is Obama's Katrina, then the dispersant is the levees failing.

I am offering shirts with this design and will be sending the profits directly to the Plaquemines Parish Fund that is set up to help the folks most hurt by this mess.

I spoke to the good folks at Plaquemines and I have to say that for people living a horror show, they are some of the nicest and most grateful people you would ever want to talk to.

Please help out and get the message out at the same time.

You can order them here:

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

And the Game Continues....

I am sitting here listening in on the Congressional hearing featuring BP chief executive Tony Hayward. This hearing promises to be one for the books. Documents have come forth in recent days revealing BP's decisions to vary from general oil industry practices to save time and money. Some of those decisions undoubtedly led to the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon, the deaths of 11 men and the ongoing spill. I am not qualified to draw a firm conclusion on this, but I can read.

Before I continue, I do want to comment on BP chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg's unfortunate translation error yesterday. He noted that BP cared about the "small people." I knew what he meant when he said it. He did not mean small as an insult. The man barely speaks English. And a quick look at a Swedish-English translation would tell anyone that cared to look that "small people" and the media's preferred "little people" translate exactly the same in Swedish. There is plenty to be angry at BP about, but this is a media generated tempest in a teapot. If we are the gracious people we claim to be, we let this pass as what it is - an error in translation, just like the instructions that come with imported stuff.

That said, the opening statements by the committee reveal that Congress remains incapable of setting aside partisan nonsense in the face of a national emergency. Here we have a growing disaster that threatens the lives and livelyhoods of an entire region and promises economic consequences for the entire nation. That is not at question. It is a sad fact. The Gulf Coast is being slowly killed by the relentlessly encroaching oil and dispersants.

This is one of those times that we the people hope and pray that our elected leaders can set aside the politics as usual, the daily game of spitball and act as one in the best interests of the nation. It is a time when we need to look long and hard not just at BP and their actions, but at the government's amazing failure to effectively enforce the regulations that exist and the government's staggering failure to respond aggressively and rapidly to the spill.

It is not a partisan matter. It is an American matter. The oil and dispersant know nothing of party affiliation or the next election. The good people along the Gulf coast who are bearing the brunt of this are from all parties. Listen carefully to the folks in the Gulf region. They are not making partisan complaints. They are angry at BP and angry at the government for failing to do their job.

So this morning on Capitol Hill we were treated to the ugly partisanship and opportunism that dominates Congress. To them , this is just another phase of their power game.

Yesterday, the administration and BP agreed to an open ended fund to cover the victims. The fund will initially have $20 billion of BP's money in it. It is to be administered by Ken Feinberg, who did an admirable job managing the 9/11 compensation fund. Feinberg has proven himself to be fair and even handed in these matters. This is a good thing and one of the first real signs of progress from an administration that has been very slow to action.

One would think that Congress would embrace this progress in a bipartisan fashion. Not going to happen. Almost immediately, Republicans were looking for ways to spin this for the election. Perhaps none was so obvious as Joe Barton from Texas. In his opening statement this morning, he apologized to BP and called the fund a "shakedown" and a "slush fund." Even other Republicans were somewhat taken aback. It is worthy of note at this point that Barton gets a lot of campaign dollars from the oil industry. Sadly, Barton is not alone in his blind partisanship. Yesterday, Michele Bachmann from Minnesota suggested the administration was taking over the oil industry and that this fund was a problem.

Are they kidding? People in the Gulf region are getting wiped out. BP's claims process has been slow, bureaucratic, dishonest and in a lot of cases simply bad. This fund has the hope of getting the money into the hands of the people most affected more quickly and more fairly. Yet some Republicans seem incapable of setting aside their mindless quest for power in the interests of the folks that they pretend to represent.

Democrats should not take comfort here. The number of Democrats, starting with President Obama, that are using this disaster to forward their political agenda is just as bad if not worse. Waxman sees an opportunity to beat up an industry he openly despises and to end the drilling he has always wanted to stop. Obama has been beyond slow and beyond political. As I noted yesterday, Obama took the opportunity of this spill to attempt to forward his stalled energy agenda. Democrats all over capitol Hill are trying to somehow blame Bush and the GOP for a disaster that is 100 percent the responsibility of the Obama administration. the well was licensed by Obama's administration. MMS was not cleaned up at all as was promised. And the response has been laconic at best.

For shame on the lot of them. People are losing generations old family businesses to this oil. The impact of the dispersant remains unknown. The rate of oil pouring into the Gulf changes so often that it is now not believed by anyone. Yet, the entire elected government continues to play the game. Congress continues to remain blindly partisan. Gone is the hope that these charlatans in Congress could set aside the same old part bickering for the good of the people. The only people that benefit here is Congress.

As today's hearing goes on and Hayward continues to answer questions, it is important that we listen. More importantly is that Chairman Stupak call the administration to task in the same forum for their failures. While the well and the explosion are BP's doing, the lack of oversight and the poorly coordinated response is Obama's doing. Someone needs to call Thad Allen to the carpet to explain his endless failure to serve the people he swore an oath to. His job was to get things moving and clear the bureaucratic morass. He has not done so and needs to held as accountable for his failure as Tony Hayward.

If the committee stops here and does not further investigate the response (or failure to respond) then they become part of the problem. This is not a time for the party spitball game, and unless those clowns on the Hill set it aside, then they need to be replaced. If Congress cannot lay off the partisan game in the face of a massive disaster, then they serve no useful purpose.

The good people of the Gulf coast deserve better. It is up to all of us to see that they get it.

I am offering shirts with this design and will be sending the profits directly to the Plaquemines Parish Fund that is set up to help the folks most hurt by this mess.

I spoke to the good folks at Plaquemines and I have to say that for people living a horror show, they are some of the nicest and most grateful people you would ever want to talk to.

Please help out and get the message out at the same time.

You can order them here:

What He Said

Like most Americans, I watched the president's speech last night. Unlike many, I clicked the TV off before the pundits and spinners could get revved up. I wanted to be able to evaluate his words without the questionable help of pundits from any side of the issue. Needless to say, the pundits are still blabbing on.

As I type this, Obama is sitting down with the executives from BP. It is about time. One of the more admirable elements of his speech last night was his determination to hold BP accountable for the mess they made. Something he did not do to Wall Street or the auto industry.

Back to the speech itself. The first part was spot on. He described the problem and laid out a plan to deal with not only the leaking oil but also the Gulf coast cleanup and the needs of the people who have been put out of work because of the mess. I was also fairly impressed that he took the hit for the continuing scandals at MMS.

This is a large part of the Obama problem. He rehired the exact same MMS crew that had been caught in scandal before he took office, just like the pre-failed economic team. For some reason, this president hired the same people that were always there and then expects a different result. Not going to happen.

It was the second part of the speech that was problematic for me. Once Obama got into the moratorium on deep water drilling and his energy legislation, he lost me. While I know we need to deal with those things, the issue at hand is the oil gushing into the Gulf, cleaning up the mess and finding a way to keep the good folks down there in their homes and businesses.

This is not about opportunistic exercises in policy making, no matter what the ever redoubtable Rahm says. This is not about advancing a stalled energy agenda. This is about a national emergency. A disaster of unimaginable size and scope and how the president and his staff are going to deal with it. It is about expediting the inspections and reviews of the existing oil projects in the Gulf to keep those folks working.

One of the things lost in this entire thing is that the only platform that has leaked is the BP one. The evidence available thus far says that BP intentionally took shortcuts that were dangerous and led to the explosion, the deaths of 11 workers and the mess we now see every day on our coastline. No other oil company has these issues and they should not be penalizes for the actions of one of them.

There is a lot of chatter about not forcing BP to put the money in an escrow account. This is silly. BP has shown that it is not willing to honor its promises to the people in the Gulf region. Day after day, we hear stories about what BP has not done. 40 percent of claims remain unpaid and many are locked in a bureaucratic morass that rivals Washington.

I have even heard some say that BP is being unfairly demonized. Seriously? The same folks that are willing to condemn entire religions are unwilling to condemn the obvious culprit? Sounds like politics as usual to me. BP made this mess and BP has the responsibility to clean it up and pay for what they did - in money. Period.

But with all of that, the president missed the mark last night. Not by much, but he missed it. What was missing? Well, how about telling us that he has just sent this or that to the Gulf. How about activating FEMA? While he did describe actions being taken, he did get into the what will happen on the short term or what he can do now.

He also missed the mark by simply passing along BP's schedule of events for capping the well. No mention of outside review or the fact that BP has been late on every schedule thus far. They are obviously not to be believed.

But the real error was in using this time to press his stalled energy agenda. It was his introduction of politics into a disaster. This is not to say that Republicans are exactly innocent of playing politics with this. They are not. But they are also not currently in the White House, and, at the end of the day, it is the occupant of the Oval office that bears this responsibility.

Mr. President, drop the clean energy thing for now. Drop the legislative nonsense. Congress isn't going to do anything for you. Never have, never will. This ball is in your court. And only you, the President of the United States, has the power and authority to deal with it. So, as you promised on January 20, deal with it. Serve the people. They don't care about clean energy right now. What they want are clean marshes and beaches. Cut the red tape the way only a president can. No panels, commissions or agency heads. Exercise the amazing power and authority that comes with that office. You wanted the job, you got the job, now do the job.

The buck may stop at the Oval Office, but the real action begins there.

I am offering shirts with this design and will be sending the profits directly to the Plaquemines Parish Fund that is set up to help the folks most hurt by this mess.

I spoke to the good folks at Plaquemines and I have to say that for people living a horror show, they are some of the nicest and most grateful people you would ever want to talk to.

Please help out and get the message out at the same time.

You can order them here:

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Awaiting the President

As I type this, the president is wrapping his most recent trip to the despoiled Gulf and preparing for his first Oval Office speech. I am sure that somewhere between Air Force One and the White House, speech writers, spinmeisters and political advisers are going over every word and inflection of tonight's speech. Nuances are being nuanced. Synonyms are being examined. Inflections are being inflected.

This is wrong.

I sincerely hope that Obama does not go the typical and predictable route of a carefully crafted speech designed to satisfy all while irritating none. This is not a situation that calls for a rally type speech or a sermon from the desk. No, this calls for the kind of leadership America looks for in a time of crisis.

Over the years, presidents have had to face awful disasters. And they have had to explain them to the American people and describe the presidential actions being taken. More than ever, in these moments, all of America wants to hear a strong and proactive leader. We want our president to take charge.

Perhaps the best example of that in recent history is former President Bush's declaration from the rubble of Ground Zero. Bush knew that he did not have the magic answer. He knew that the culprits were still out there somewhere. In fact he knew that he did not know exactly who did it or where they were. But he knew one thing.

George Bush knew that the American people wanted their president to take the lead and declare what we all felt - we were going to get the people that did this to us. And he went out without a written speech, without teleprompters and he gave us just that. A rallying point.

Obama has that chance tonight. He has an opportunity to do what presidents have done in times of crisis - take charge. Show the true power of the office.

It is always nice to be diplomatic and thoughtful. It matters when trying to pass complex legislation or soothe allies. This is not that time.

Our Gulf coast is being deluged with tides of oil and dispersant. The people responsible are known. The time for pleasant chats and working relationships has ended. But only Obama can say this with authority. Only the President of the United States can declare that the time for talk has ended. That the time for allowing BP to call the shots is done. That we are going to finally commit our resources.

But not with a nuanced speech or pretty words. The use of Oval Office speeches has always been sparing. They denote a seriousness that is unequaled in American life. The image of a president behind the desk addressing America has a power to it that is almost immeasurable.

It takes plain solid talk. This is not about England or Canada. This is not about the stupid partisan nonsense being served up even now by Congress and the pundocracy. This is about millions of Americans who are paying for BP's malfeasance and what our government is going to do about it.

If I could offer one tip to the president as he finalizes this speech it is this: Remember the signs you saw yesterday in the Gulf region. Remember that the same people that despise FEMA are now begging for you to send them in. Take that as a symbol of just how bad the mess is in the region. They want FEMA back.

And, just this once, forget the fancy words, overpaid advisers and political angling. Just get up there and say it plain and simple. And strong.

Like the rest of America, I await his words. They better be good.

I am offering shirts with this design and will be sending the profits directly to the Plaquemines Parish Fund that is set up to help the folks most hurt by this mess.

I spoke to the good folks at Plaquemines and I have to say that for people living a horror show, they are some of the nicest and most grateful people you would ever want to talk to.

Please help out and get the message out at the same time.

You can order them here:

Friday, June 11, 2010

Let the Game Resume

Congress is back from their week long one day holiday and they have wasted no time in adding the Gulf Oil Spill to their list of things to be used to win elections and look pretty.

Right off the top, Nancy Pelosi in her role as Speaker said that BP should not pay the quarterly dividend to their stockholders. Really? Unless she owns BP stock (disclosure - I do not) or is an officer of BP or the SEC, she really has no business even commenting on it. To be accurate and fair, Obama made much the same remarks. That is equally inappropriate.

The dividend is between BP and their stockholders. It is based on earnings last quarter and represents part of the de facto contract between stockholder and company. Whether to pay it is the sole jurisdiction of the BP board. Obama and the false queen Nancy can gripe about it and even condemn the payment, but to suggest it not be paid at all is just out of line.

I am sure that Obama and Pelosi are adapting what they think is a good line against BP. After all, the British Petroleum Corporation is rapidly filling the role of villain these days. BP is the easy target for politicians and fairly so most of the time these days.

I understand and have been fairly clear that BP is a company that has lied, misled, obstructed and otherwise been less than good regarding the oil spill. In fact, it is fairly accurate to say they have been intentionally dishonest. But the dividend is a matter separate from the spill and from the concerted effort by BP executives to lie and mislead.

In fact, BP recently issued a statement saying they had no idea why their stock price has declined so sharply. Really? No idea why? So the open ended liability in the Gulf has nothing to do with it? the prospect of reduced profits or even a loss for the next several quarters not a factor? Seriously? As stupid and obvious a lie as this is, it is between BP and those that still hold their stock.

But for Obama and Pelosi to once again attempt to affect the investors and corporations at the shareholder level only points out their antipathy towards a truly free market. For them to suggest that BP not pay a dividend that shareholders are entitled to is a pretty solid form of proof that these 2 and their minions have zero respect for the marketplace. The decline in BP stock is how the market functions. Punishing the shareholders because the executives lie is just wrong.

And BP execs lie. A lot.

Hayward, Suttles and the rest lie almost automatically every time they speak. That said, they work for the board and the stockholders. Their dishonesty and lack of transparency is an issue that needs to be addressed. One that is best addressed in open, televised Congressional hearings.

In the past, I have been fairly critical of hearings designed for PR sake. And a lot of hearings are just that - huge expensive campaign appearances. However, in some of those hearings, useful and interesting information happens. Usually by accident, but it happens.

Yesterday, Minority Leader John Boehner stepped to the press podium to decry the hearings regarding the oil spill. In fact he pretty much labeled them pointless with a comment about plug the damn leak. Setting aside the fact that Congress is actually not the branch of government that is supposed to do that, this sounds more like the traditional partisan garbage.

Why would Boehner object to the hearings? As I said, I am not a huge fan of endless Congressional inquisitions, but sometimes they have a place and purpose. Perhaps Boehner forgot that in his haste to slap some Democrats around. Perhaps he forgot that his oath of office is to the Constitution and not the party.

Why are hearings needed now? Well, to put it bluntly, BP is doing everything it can to avoid any information getting out. They have dropped a cone of silence on the oil spill and have made a concerted effort to exclude the press and the public from what is going on. The administration has not been exactly transparent either. From estimates of the amount of oil flowing into the Gulf to the wildlife cleanup effort, the press and the public have been excluded as much as possible.

Congressional hearings can help cause transparency. Witnesses and materials can be subpoenaed. Testimony is under oath and questions are asked that must be answered. Since it is obvious that there is no voluntary information flow, then Congress has to get it.

The flow rate of the leaking oil is an example of the lack of honesty and transparency. For weeks we have been told either 5,000 barrels by the government and BP or the more recent 12,000 to 19,000 barrels. Jut a couple of days ago, Obama's "point man," Thad Allen proudly told the press that BP had collected 15,000 barres via the cap. 15,000? That is more than BP or Allen ever admitted to. Anyone that has a television knows that the cap is still allowing a gusher of oil into the Gulf.

When asked, Allen did a little tap dance claiming he wasn't a number person and deferring to the scientists charges with figuring the flow rate out. But the scientists are methodically denied access to any useful information while Thad Allen simply forward BP's lies. Congress can - without long legal battles - simply subpoena the people and information. They can ask why the huge discrepancy.

Congress can enact a relief bill. And fix the laws that are in place that allowed BP to operate with such impunity. First they need to ask what the situation is. Hear what the problems are.

But John Boehner thinks that would be a waste of time. Why? Is he hiding something? Probably not. More likely he is afraid that Congres will act in a bipartisan manner, thereby hurting John Boehner's plans for the upcoming election. See, for him, it is not about the oil spill or the truth. It is about his pathetic little power game.

Same for Obama and Pelosi. All about the game and the people be damned. And that is the problem. The people of the Gulf coast are currently being damned by the oil. And our self proclaimed leaders will only do what makes them look good or forwards their agendas. I think onc the leak is plugged, we should consider new leadership. perhaps some that can actually see beyond their own reflection.

I am offering shirts with this design and will be sending the profits directly to the Plaquemines Parish Fund that is set up to help the folks most hurt by this mess.

I spoke to the good folks at Plaquemines and I have to say that for people living a horror show, they are some of the nicest and most grateful people you would ever want to talk to.

Please help out and get the message out at the same time.

You can order them here:

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Primarily Primaries

Yesterday, several states held primaries leading up to the November election. As has been the case recently, many of these were won by seemingly new faces. Most of the primaries being bandied about today were on the Republican side.

One thing to realize about primaries in mid-term elections is that they tend to have fairly low turnout. This is not to take away from those that won yesterday, but a little perspective never hurts.

One thing was clearly obvious from yesterday's results - those that did turn out for the Republican races are more conservative and want a more conservative government. That is not necessarily a bad thing in and of itself.

What makes it a bad thing is that now both parties - the same tired old failed parties that have always lied to us - are somehow claiming that this scattering of primaries and small sampling of voters gives them victories. Both parties are actively lying to us right this minute about yesterday's results.

The Republicans are heralding "America's obvious shift to the right." Nonsense. What shifted to the right are those voters that came out. Not all of America. Not every American voter. They are proudly pointing to those races where even their chosen candidate lost and declaring victory.

Democrats are also trumpeting yesterday's results. They point to the GOP's sharp shift to the right. And again, they massively generalize and marginalize the actual voter in this. They point to the same primaries and call that somehow victorious for them. Their heavily flawed theory is that the perceived shift rightward will benefit them come November since they see America as more Centrist. Donkey-poo if you ask me.

The Tea Party folks point to the few where their candidate won and declare victory. They are the closest to the truth, but not quite there either. Again, those results represent only a small slice to the American electorate and are not indicative of anything other than the feelings of that small slice.

What really happened? Well, folks in those states got sick and tired of the lies and false promises that both parties have been issuing for decades. They finally grew weary of being used as pawns in the Democrat/Republican power game. After all this time, the voters in those states made a choice to try to elect someone who is not part of the extremely inbred 2 party culture.

Inbred? Yes. Heavily inbred. The problem we have now in our political/government structure is that the 2 parties have dominated for so long that they are basically one and the same. Elected officials and party leaders pick candidates that mirror themselves. No divergent views are tolerated. Those that try to voice a different opinion are effectively culled from the herd by these same self serving corrupt leaders.

Republicans are desperate to claim the Tea party as their own, even though it is not. They are happily willing to toss all other Republicans overboard for any winning strategy. Any at all. To them it is not abut ideology or policy. It is only about winning. The same GOP that has been opposed to Medicare is suddenly a constant defender of Medicare. The same GOP that pushed the bailouts from day one now says they are bad.

Democrats are equally dangerous and dishonest. These are the people that cannot utter the word "terrorist." They decry attacks on the US, but refuse to call them what they are. The same Democrats that have claimed to support Israel suddenly cannot wait to blame them for the terror that Israel sees daily. Their kowtowing to political correctness in words leads to inactions that endanger us all. The same Democrats that once advocated for the poor and the working person now leads the bucket brigade in pouring our tax dollars on the largest banks and companies.

Both parties are badly broken and inherently dishonest. Both regard governance as a game to be played for points. Neither cares about anyone except themselves. And neither deserves to govern.

To drive home that message, I am offering T-Shirts with this message:

As a capitalist and a free market person, I am selling them for both profit and with the intent of donating to those candidates that are willing to step outside the parties and declare a concern for the Constitution and the people.

You can order them here:

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A sign?

I was shopping for birthday cards and such today and noticed something that seemed more than a little odd. I generally shop for cards about once a month at various stores. Having a large family means sending a lot of cards. I enjoy sending the cards out and enjoy shopping for them. I know that when that card gets there someone I care about will have a smile.

So there I was looking for birthday and anniversary cards and that is when it hit me. I was looking for the perfect anniversary card for my sister and was having trouble finding one that fit. There seemed to be so few to choose from. In fact, there were very few and most were just old cliches. How many "leaving the seat up" jokes can fit into one store? Too many.

There were, however, a literal flood of wedding cards. Funny wedding cards, insulting wedding cards, serious wedding cards and so on. But there were only about 15 choices for anniversaries. Those were all not even close to good.

Is this a sign of the times? Lots of weddings and not so many anniversaries? Do they not count anymore? What's the deal?

Maybe it is just me, but it seems that celebrating getting married is a big deal, while celebrating staying married is apparently not. Perhaps our elected officials' inability to remain monogamous is part of it, or at least representative of it.

In keeping with the overall theme of this blog, the tendency towards cheating is apparently the only thing politicians are truly bi-partisan about. Both Republicans and Democrats appear to equally have straying eyes and hands. So it is not a liberal-conservative thing. And it is not a party thing. It seems to be an "I don't want to grow up" thing.

All I can figure out is that the baby boomers are reaching the ephemeral mid-life crisis stage. It used to be that when a man reached that point, he got himself a sports car and a sad little hairpiece. Women used to kind of skip right over it and go directly to gracefully aging. Not so much anymore.

Now it seems that both men and women in ever increasing numbers are reaching the whole goofy mid-life crisis thing and going more than a little off the rails. Perhaps that explains the dearth of anniversary cards. After all, if a couple is still together it would force them to acknowledge their age. And heaven knows, we wouldn't want that.

An entire generation seems dedicated to never really growing up. And that means they clutch desperately to the things of youth, including partying and messing around. This does not come without a price. The price is they will wake up one morning and realize they are no longer kids. At that point, I want to be the one selling those sad little hairpieces.

To be fair, there are literally millions of happy couples out there. Sadly, there are not a lot of great anniversary cards for them. I guess they know how good they have it and don't need to be told, but I bet they appreciate it when someone remembers.

So I ask again - is this a sign or just an accident of inventory?

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Dispersant Question

One of the great unanswered and unaddressed issues arising as a result of BP's blunder in the Gulf is the overall effect - long and short term - of the dispersants being pumped into the oil leak undersea. As of this weekend, over 1 million gallons of Corexit have been dumped into the Gulf of Mexico. The main reason, as stated by BP and Admiral Allen is to keep the oil from coming to the surface.

That statement alone should raise flags. Keep it from the surface? As in where we can't see it or measure it? As in hiding it? Note that nobody says the dispersant makes the oil just go away. The clue to what is going on is right there is the word "dispersant."

The stuff is designed to disperse oil. Spread it out. make it smaller. And in doping so, keep it underwater and far more subject to the existing currents than the surface oil. It just spreads it out over a larger area. Loosely put, the overt underwater overuse of these chemicals is for cosmetic purposes and serves no actual productive purpose.

Based on the data sheets available from Corexit manufacturer Nalco, this stuff is meant to used on the surface to dispel slicks or to remove oil from beaches and boats. None of the manufacturer data has any indication of underwater injection and certainly none at depths 5,000 feet. Yet, BP is using this stuff like it was as harmless as water.

It is not. Here is what Nalco says about the stuff:

Eye and skin irritant. Repeated or excessive exposure to butoxyethanol may cause injury to red blood cells (hemolysis), kidney or the liver. Harmful by inhalation, in contact with skin and if swallowed. Do not get in eyes, on skin, on clothing. Do not take internally. Use with adequate ventilation. Wear suitable protective clothing. Keep container tightly closed. Flush affected area with water. Keep away from heat. Keep away from sources of ignition - No smoking.
May evolve oxides of carbon (COx) under fire conditions.

EYE CONTACT : Can cause moderate irritation.
SKIN CONTACT : Can cause moderate irritation. Harmful if absorbed through skin.
INGESTION : May be harmful if swallowed. May cause liver and kidney effects and/or damage. There may be irritation to the gastro-intestinal tract.
INHALATION : Harmful by inhalation. Repeated or prolonged exposure may irritate the respiratory tract.
Acute : Excessive exposure may cause central nervous system effects, nausea, vomiting, anesthetic or narcotic effects.
Chronic : Repeated or excessive exposure to butoxyethanol may cause injury to red blood cells (hemolysis), kidney or the
AGGRAVATION OF EXISTING CONDITIONS : Skin contact may aggravate an existing dermatitis condition.
HUMAN HEALTH HAZARDS - CHRONIC : Contains ethylene glycol monobutyl ether (butoxyethanol). Prolonged and/or repeated exposure through inhalation or extensive skin contact with EGBE may result in damage to the blood and kidneys.

Note the repeated "Human Health Hazards." If this stuff was anywhere near a school, people would go to prison. Well, it is near schools. Schools of fish. Fish that will find their way into our food supply. And nobody has ever studied that.

By injecting it at the leaking wellhead, BP has created an unknown hazard. We already know all too well the hazards of crude oil. But Corexit? No studies. No data. No scientific examination of long term effects of long term usage. And it will be long term.

Wjen you look at the images of the leaking well on the floor of the Gulf, those white streams mixed in with the oil are Corexit. In fact, 2 of the cameras monitor "Dispersant Ops." And they go non-stop.

Despite an initial order from the apparently toothless Obama EPA to cease use, BP keeps pumping the stuff. And EPA backed off, allowing no more than 15,000 gallons per day. If we start on June 1 and assume use until August 31, that is 92 days at 15,000 gallons per day or another 1.4 million gallons of this stuff. Add that to the already pumped in million or so gallons and you have the makings of a secondary environmental catastrophe.

I live in Southeast Florida. Down here, so-called environmental science types have been tinkering with the ecosystem since I was a kid. They introduce one insect to get rid of another insect, and lo and behold, the new insect becomes a new unexpected problem. Every time these folks try to use an introduced species to fix something, they "break" something else.

And that is exactly what BP is doing with all of this dispersant. Introducing a toxic chemical in an attempt to neutralize a toxic chemical. They believe that keeping the oil off of the surface is a solution and it is not. The only way to really get rid of the oil is to allow it to rise to the surface and then remove it. Keeping it below the surface, mixed with Corexit, makes it impossible to track, evaluate and remove. By keeping it below the surface, the millions of feet of boom are almost silly.

As it now stands, BP continues to deny and underwater plumes of oil, even though they have been detected and tracked repeatedly. Worse is the fact that by dispersing the oil with Corexit undersea, the affected area increases with no detection until it is too late. We are very good at identifying and tracking surface oil slicks. We know how to deal with them (setting aside the endless failure to do so promptly in the Gulf).

I do want to make it very clear that I am not pointing at the engineers and scientists working night and day to stop this leak. Those folks have been at it for 7 weeks without a rest. They are doing literally everything they can. I respect their efforts.

It is the senior executives at BP that are lying about this stuff and their reasons for using it and senior administration officials that keep quietly looking the other way. When was the last time EPA backed down immediately on anything? It is not as if there is adequate science here.

I have to wonder why EPA backed off so quickly on Corexit. There are other approved products that are not nearly as toxic. And I wonder why nobody has yet to call BP out for their blatant effort to keep the spilled oil invisible and therefore unmeasurable. It is only a matter of time until we find out the effects of this stuff. Sadly, it appears that we are all test subjects in this large scale study.

There are already reports of people getting sick with some of the above symptoms in Louisiana. BP contends it is food poisoning. Well, food poisoning doesn't cause respiratory distress. Corexit does. None of the workers down there have respiratory protection, as recommended by Nalco. Many do not have the appropriate gloves and clothing. Yet, the chemical continues to be used and dismissed as somehow not a problem.

While I am not a scientist or engineer, I can do basic math. And that math tells me that BP is using Corexit in a non-recommended manner and massive quantities to attempt to conceal the sheer size of this spill. That same math also tells me that the EPA and the rest of the self-proclaimed "green" administration is not as interested in the environment as they are in minimizing the awful visuals that oil spills bring.

At this point, the continued use of Corexit in these quantities calls to mind the phrase, "Burning down the village to save it."

I am offering shirts with the design at the top of the post and will be sending the profits directly to the Plaquemines Parish Fund that is set up to help the folks most hurt by this mess.

I spoke to the good folks at Plaquemines to make sure they had a fund set up and how to send the money. I have to say that for people living a horror show, they are some of the nicest and most grateful people you would ever want to talk to.

Please help out and get the message out at the same time.

You can order them here:

Friday, June 4, 2010

Time to Help

I have been writing about how little is being done to help the Gulf Coast with the spill. And then it occurred to me that all I have been doing is writing about it. Well, that is about to change.

I am offering shirts with this design and will be sending the profits directly to the Plaquemines Parish Fund that is set up to help the folks most hurt by this mess.

I spoke to the good folks at Plaquemines this morning to make sure they had a fund set up and how to send the money. I have to say that for people living a horror show, they are some of the nicest and most grateful people you would ever want to talk to.

Please help out and get the message out at the same time.

You can order them here:

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Partisan Petro Politics

Like most of America, I am looking at the mess in the Gulf of Mexico with a mixture of horror and anger. Horror at the ecological and human disaster that gets worse with every passing day. Anger at an administration that is so bound up in symbolism that they seem incapable of definitive action.

Until today, horror seriously outweighed anger. Until today when I read that the president in a speech at a university basically put the blame on Republicans for not adequately regulating the oil industry. While he stopped just short of blaming them for the actual spill, he might as well have gone the full distance. This is simply pathetic.

Is there a ring of truth there? I don't know. What I do know is that the permit for that well was granted in 2009 under the Obama administration. Yes, it was the dysfunctional MMS that granted the permit, but Obama had a chance to fix known problems at MMS and did not. In fact he did nothing about MMS until after the oil started gushing out.

This from a president who seems incapable of taking executive command of a national disaster that threatens to wipe out multiple industries. This from an administration that cannot even keep its own word. As an example of that, 2 weeks ago, EPA ordered BP to stop using the dispersants. They told them to get a less harmful chemical. BP said no and the EPA backed off. Lots of determination there.

To be fair, Republican Eric Cantor issued a statement decrying the partisan politics even though he has been one of the main mudslingers in Congress. While he is right that this is not a place for partisanship. I am hard pressed to find anything Cantor has ever done that is not blatantly partisan and geared towards the next election.

That said, Cantor is not president. Obama is. And this happened on his watch. Blaming Republicans is no more productive than blaming evil mole people from the center of the earth (an old Superman episode plot for those who are wondering.) And while he trots around the country passing the blame, his administration continues to fail at the clean up.

Today's news tells us that BP is closer to limiting the flow of oil into the Gulf with a top hat of some kind. This is actually attempt 7, since the diamond blade saw failed. Hopefully by tonight, there will be some relief on the amount of new oil flowing.

However, the mess is already made and this administration shows no signs of rallying to the disaster. They are very good at pointing fingers and passing blame, but not so much at the actual action. The repeated and false claim that they have been on this from day one is belied by a simple look at the marsh lands in Louisiana. They are dead and dying because BP was allowed to take the lead and BP still has the lead.

Back to the president's claim that the GOP weakened regulation and let everyone run wild. Maybe so. But that does nobody any good right now. Nor do the investigations by the Attorney General. What is needed now is tangible action. No more words. No more speeches. No more blame games.

In the same way that he hired the previously failed economic team and then blames the previous administration, he hired the previously failed MMS and then tries to pass the blame along. It simply does not work that way.

Obama needs to remember that he is President of the United States. Not a squabbling little Senator. Not a candidate. The actual president. With all of the power and authority that comes with the job. He needs to remember that he has vast authority and use it. No commissions, panels or study groups. He needs to remember that he has the authority right now to take any and all actions needed to mitigate the damage to the Gulf Coast.

From my perspective, anyone that politicizes this mess until it is cleaned up is wrong and not deserving of the public trust. This goes for both sides. But it is Obama in charge. Or at least that is what he tells us. I am still waiting to see that happen. The good people who live and work on the Gulf coast are praying for it. I can only hope that this president and his overtly politicized administration set aside the partisan blame game and get down to the work they were hired for.

Until they do, I have to label this effort a failure unseen in our history and one that is likely to become the historical mark for bad management and a poor presidency. The ball rests firmly in the president's court right now. I hope that he can pick it up and get some real work done.

Mr. President, with all due respect, these are real people suffering a real tragedy. They are looking to you for leadership and not getting it. You have a chance to be what you promised to be. But I have not seen that yet. Please prove me wrong.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

So Where's the Action?

Here I sit, 43 days into the spill, watching oil gush into the Gulf while BP is on attempt 6 or 7 to "plug the damn hole." Not one of them has worked. This time, they are cutting the damaged pipe off and will attempt some kind of cap. I sincerely hope this one works, but I am skeptical. Oil is just off the Pensacola coast line and already ashore in Alabama as well as the mess in Louisiana.

Last week, Obama journeyed to the Gulf to meet with the folks there. Much positive sounding stuff emerged. That was last week. I am still waiting to see all the action promised by the president. Thus far, that "action" has consisted of a slew of press conferences and trips to the Gulf by almost every member of the administration. Except one.

Last week I noted the absence of the FEMA director on the oil spill. It is FEMA's job to handle this kind of stuff. Nobody in the media has pointed this out yet, which is kind of disturbing. This should be highly visible and emblematic of the lack of real action being taken.

Guess where FEMA Director Craig Fugate was Tuesday? Go ahead. I'll wait.

If you said anywhere even remotely near the Gulf of Mexico, you are wrong. Fugate spent his day at The Weather Channel playing scary hurricane man with Jim Cantore.

Yep. The very person appointed by Obama to manage emergencies is the one person Obama has not ordered to the Gulf. After all of his talk and speeches and promises, he has not sent his emergency manager to mange the emergency. Huh?

He sent Attorney General Holder to symbolically investigate any crimes. Holder doesn't investigate. He sends federal agents to do that. Pointless symbolism. And a waste of everyone's time and energy. There will be plenty of time to investigate criminal and civil liability.

The first priority has to be taking real action on the emergency. Not talk. Not cabinet level visits. Real action. Real remediation of the problem. And that is what FEMA is supposed to do. And when something is this big, the director is supposed to be personally involved.

We have had the increasingly incompetent Napolitano down there. She's Fugate's boss. Why wasn't he there with her? She is from a state with neither water nor oil, yet there she was. And no FEMA director.

Cabinet members don't actually do any of the stuff their departments are charged with. Holder doesn't actively prosecute. Napolitano doesn't actually secure anything and so on. But the director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency is supposed to actively manage emergencies.

Last week, I made the point that the feds are very bad at this kind of stuff. And, historically, they are. This however, sets a new mark for bad emergency management. At least Michael Brown was in New Orleans dealing with Katrina. I still say Brown got a bum rap on Katrina, but that is a different debate.

Fugate is in Atlanta talking about possible storms while the Gulf is quickly becoming sludge central. Hard for that to be a bum rap. How can anyone justify not having the emergency manager on site?

What makes this really sad is that Craig Fugate is the emergency manager that saw Florida through 9 major storms in 14 months without a hitch. This is the guy that pretty much wrote the modern book on emergency management. So who told him to stay away and go do fluff with Cantore?

Obama promised us action. Well, let's see some action we can actually see. No speeches or commissions or panels or symbolic visits. Send the emergency manger to mange the emergency. One does not need to have graduated Harvard to figure that out.

Summertime and the Dodging is Easy

While almost all of America took one day off from work to remember our fallen heroes, the folks in Congress took a full week. While most of us hurried Friday to make sure that we would be caught up before our holiday weekend, Congress just walked away from a pile of unfinished business. And while most of us stayed home and had our vacation in the backyard to save a little money, Congress took off for pretty much everywhere and mostly on our dime.

They are supposed to be back on June 7. I don't know which is better anymore. Them being away on vacation and therefore not making things worse with their amazingly lazy and self serving vacations that leave important business undone or them being at work, messing things up even more with their endless game playing.

For the record, one of the only things they do in a totally bipartisan way is to adjourn for these vacations. In effect the only thing those 531 clowns agree on is their desire to avoid work.

Let's look at what they left undone:

Financial Reform. This was urgent and needed immediately according to the leadership of both parties in both houses. It currently is in that limbo state where the House passed version A and the Senate version B. And there it sits. Waiting for the ever unimpressive Barney Frank to appoint the House half of the conference committee. Apparently this is so urgent, Frank had to wait until after the week long Monday holiday to even consider appointees. No mention of this urgency in the quiet adjournment on Friday.

Iraq and Afghanistan War Funding. Left nowhere while the Congress took off on their vacation. Our men and women in uniform will just have to wait while Pelosi and Boehner and Reid and McConnell get their tans in order. Note that not one Republican had a peep about this. Nor any Democrats. Nor anyone in the Executive branch. Hmmm. Fund the troops or get away for some vacation time? Obviously Congress has their priorities in order - themselves first and everyone else second. Forget that these troops are in harm's way protecting us. Forget their needs. Congress has campaigns to finance.

Extending Unemployment Benefits. This is a difficult and fairly controversial measure and one that needs immediate attention with so many out of work. I am not saying that they should extend the benefits. Actually, I am not really sure if they should be extended again, but I am saying that they should debate and take action. It must be really easy to ignore those that have no income while cashing a bloated Congressional paycheck. For the record, the current benefits will expire tomorrow, 6/2, while the Congress is happily sleeping in and ordering room service on our dime.

The Gulf Oil Spill. After multiple hearings and speeches, condemnations and demands, the Senate passed a weak relief bill, tossed it to the House and left town so fast all you saw was a trail of lobbyists in their wake. The House, much like a Miami Dolphin wide receiver chose to not even bother to catch this ball and took off in hot pursuit of campaign contributions. Oh sure, a lot of members of Congress will pass through Louisiana during their vacation for the mandatory photo opportunity and press release. But there will be no real action taken. Wonder why Gulf Coast residents feel ignored? Well, here is the answer. The largest oil spill in US history with the possibility of massive economic and environmental implications and Congress reacts by taking a vacation. No time to deal with the issues coming out of this one, including the amazing mismanagement of the drilling and the crisis by the administration. There are lobbyist sponsored events to get to.

Ben Nelson of Nebraska lamented to the Miami Herald that, "They think all we do here is play games." There is that word again. Games. And that is exactly what they do. Play a huge game with our futures and our well being. The game has now extended to our troops who are bravely fighting for freedom along with every other facet of our nation's business.

To the troops this is no game. It is real life and death every day. To the unemployed families, this is no game. It is a matter of food and shelter. For those on the Gulf Coast, this is no game. It is real and getting worse by the hour. For Wall Street, the regulation bill is no game. It will determine how they shape their businesses (employing literally millions and affecting all of us) going forward.

Lest the administration take solace in Congress' epic low 13 percent approval rating, take note that not one peep from Obama and company about this. Not one call for immediate action on any of these items. Not a single gripe that Congress has again gone walkabout. I heard nothing demanding that out troops get their funding. Nothing demanding that the Gulf Coast get some economic relief. In fact, what we heard was mostly nothing.

If Congress really wants time off, I suggest we give them all permanent vacation starting November 2. Vote them all out. They work for us and their performance is beyond unsatisfactory. In a real job, these clowns would have been fired long ago. We have the power in November to do just that. Reward them appropriately for their poor job performance and send them home once and for all.

To drive home that message, I am offering T-Shirts with this message:

As a capitalist and a free market person, I am selling them for both profit and with the intent of donating to those candidates that are willing to step outside the parties and declare a concern for the Constitution and the people.

You can order them here: