Wednesday, June 23

Fox Lies: Obama has Failed to Violate Law & Bring Foreign Help for Gulf

This particular lie, again supporting the narrative that Obama hasn't "done enough" to stop the BP Gulf spill, is rather noxious simply because it's just not true.

CARLSON: Meantime, international help has been offered, but not accepted. A lot of people are asking why. It's called the Jones Act, which prohibits international ships from operating in US ports. Our next guest says it's time to waive the outdated law.


CARLSON: Let's talk about this Jones Act waiver. So basically, what this means is that currently international ships cannot come into US waters, but doesn't this all boil down to a political discussion about unions?

So basically Fox claims that Obama has failed to bring in more help for this Oil Spill because of those damn dirty Unions!  Let's also recall that President Bush also suspended the Davis-Bacon Act after Katrina which protected the wages of workers involved in the cleanup - and we've all seen how such "swift, decisive action" resulted in a completely restored and renewed 5th Ward five years later... Not.

President George Bush has issued a Proclamation suspending the prevailing wage provisions of the Davis-Bacon Act in geographic areas affected by Hurricane Katrina.

The proclamation suspends section 3142 of U.S. Code title 40, which provides for prevailing wage standards for federal government construction contracts. Under the Act, federal construction contracts in excess of $2,000 must pay workers under those contracts the area "prevailing wage" under a wage determination for the various classes of workers.

Under section 3147, the President has authority to suspend the Act during a national emergency. "An unprecedented amount of Federal assistance will be needed to restore the communities that have been ravaged by the hurricane," the Proclamation notes. "Accordingly, I find that the conditions caused by Hurricane Katrina constitute a 'national emergency' within the meaning of section 3147 of title 40, United States Code."
The suspension applies to contracts to be performed in certain counties of Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, and Louisiana parishes; the suspension will remain in place "until otherwise provided."
Yeah, cuz the best way to save the people after Katrina, was the screw the crap out of the people after Katrina and bring in Blackwater/Xe and Halliburton Contractors.

According to Sister Sarah - the Dutch know how to do this because of their experience with Dikes!

Glenn Beck is also on the case and out to say that Obama cares more about the Unions, than the Environment.

Of course the problem with all this is - it just isn't true! Via Media Matters.

National Incident Command: "15 foreign-flagged vessels are involved" in the response.  A June 18 document released by National Incident Commander, Adm. Thad Allen, and a June 15 press release from the Deepwater Horizon Incident Joint Information Center state: "Currently 15 foreign-flagged vessels are involved in the largest response to an oil spill in U.S. history. No Jones Act waivers have been granted because none of these vessels have required such a waiver to conduct their operations as part of the response in the Gulf of Mexico."

Acting Maritime Administrator: "[T]wenty-three percent of the vessels responding to the oil spill are not U.S.-flag," and they are "not in violation of the Jones Act."
 David Matsuda, acting Maritime Administrator, stated in June 17 congressional testimony that "[d]uring the current situation in the Gulf of Mexico, U.S.- flag vessels have been used in every situation where U.S. vessels and crew are available. Seventy-seven percent of the vessels providing oil spill response in the Gulf are U.S.- flagged." He added, "Even though twenty-three percent of the vessels responding to the oil spill are not U.S.-flag, none of these are known to be in violation of any U.S. law or regulation. Vessels that do not call upon points in the United States are not in violation of the Jones Act."

Foreign equipment has also been used. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs stated during the June 15 edition of Fox & Friends that "foreign entities are operating within the Gulf that help us respond" to the oil spill. Gibbs also stated in a June 10 press briefing that "we are using equipment and vessels from countries like Norway, Canada, the Netherlands. There has not been any problem with this. If there is the need for any type of waiver, that would obviously be granted. But this -- we've not had that problem thus far in the Gulf." Fox News reporter Brian Wilson wrote on June 10 that "[t]he Coast Guard and the Administration are quick to point out that some foreign technology is being used in the current cleanup effort," including containment boom and skimmers.

So Foxes big solution to the Oil Spill problem is to Ignore U.S. Laws - just like they think it's just fine that BP and other agencies regularly Ignore U.S. Safety and Environmental Regulations and that what we really need to do is Invite More Foreign Help in to U.S. Waters. Ok, fine - I guess having a few thousand more illegal aliens running around in the Gulf causing potential Shipping Accidents with the thousands of boats that are already there is just fine, long as they aren't headed for Arizona anytime soon.


From the Dkos Comments: Why Doesn't the Obama Administration think they need to waive the Jones Act to allow Foreign Ship to help with a Spill Cleanup? Because they're already exempted from the Jones Act already.
Specifically, 55113 illustrates the exemption of foreign vessels involved in spills and cleanup.


Damn, and with the Cap Blowing OFF today - this will only get worse.

Wherein Foxers Cried: Leave BP Alone!!!

Leave BP Alone!

Media Matters has identified at least 62 recent instances of media conservatives defending BP, 38 of which occurred on the Fox News Channel, Fox Business, the Fox Nation, or the talk shows of Fox News hosts. There were at least 21 criticisms of BP's escrow account as an Obama "shakedown" or "slush fund," 10 attacks on President Obama for supposedly "demonizing" BP, 15 examples of conservatives deriding investigations of the company, 12 claims that environmental regulations are responsible for the spill, and five absurd conspiracy theories about the spill.

And it's not like it's a winning argument for the vast majority of the nation.

According to the latest CNN poll, a huge, huge, huge majority of Americans supports the $20 billion escrow fund that BP agreed to create in order to help pay for the Gulf of Mexico cleanup. 

But that hasn't stopped Fox, oh no sirree.

Tuesday, June 22

MI FullRide Scholarship Contest

I've joined this years Musicians Institute FullRide Scholarship Competition, first place would be complete Tuition Paid for the School plus $10,000.

The first round consists of uploading your audio or video tracks, the second is the voting stage (via friends and/or fans) Starting on August 1st.

My Page to Submit Your Vote Is Here

This is followed by the Judging Round where Top Vote Getters are sorted, and those deemed Best are brought to MI itself for a Live Finals where contestants will be required to demonstrate the skills required to attend MI.

Wish me luck.


Monday, June 21

Yes Damnit, Bush Does Share the Blame for the BP Spill

As shown by Media Matters:(Quoted at Length just to emphasis it wasn't just one single point of failure)
Inspector General reports detail MMS ethics violations during Bush admin.

Inspector General found "a culture where the acceptance of gifts from oil and gas companies were widespread" in Louisiana MMS office under Bush. 
The Department of Interior's Office of Inspector General (OIG) investigated allegations against MMS employees for conduct that "occurred prior to 2007" in the Lake Charles, Louisiana, district, and "found a culture where the acceptance of gifts from oil and gas companies were widespread throughout that office," and that prior to 2007, "receiving gifts such as hunting trips, fishing trips, and meals from oil companies appears to have been a generally accepted practice by MMS inspectors and supervisors in the Gulf of Mexico region." MMS subsequently "provid[ed] additional ethics training to employees."
IG investigation found email porn, illegal drug use at Louisiana MMS office under Bush. The Lake Charles investigation also found that -- in addition to accepting gifts from oil companies-- MMS employees "admitted to using illegal drugs during their employment at MMS," including a clerical worker who said "he had used crystal methamphetamine the night prior to coming to work at MMS," and an inspector who "admitted that he might have been under the influence of the drug at work after using it the day before." Moreover, while reviewing MMS employees' email accounts "from 2005 to 2009," the OIG found "numerous instances of pornography and other inappropriate material on the e-mail accounts of 13 employees, six of whom have resigned."
IG: Bush MMS employee negotiated a job with drilling company while inspecting their platforms. The IG report states that a Lake Charles MMS employee, who now works for the Island Operating Company, an oil and gas production firm, negotiated a job with the company while inspecting IOC platforms.  
Source told OIG that some Bush MMS inspectors allowed oil and gas companies to fill out their own inspection forms. From the May 24 report on the Lake Charles MMS office:
Another confidential source told investigators that some MMS inspectors had allowed oil and gas production company personnel located on the platform to fill out inspection forms. The forms would then be completed or signed by the inspector and turned in for review. According to the source, operating company personnel completed the inspection forms using pencils, and MMS inspectors would write on top of the pencil in ink and turn in the completed form.
We reviewed a total of 556 files to look for any alteration of pencil and ink markings, notations, or signatures. We found a small number with pencil and ink variations; however, we could not discern if any fraudulent alterations were present on these forms.
Inspector General: "Culture of ethical failure" at Colorado MMS office under Bush. The Office of Inspector General also issued a report on September 9, 2008, stating that several investigations uncovered a "culture of ethical failure" at the Lakewood, Colorado, MMS office. The report stated that "between 2002 and 2006, nearly 1/3 of the entire RIK [Royalties In Kind] staff socialized with, and received a wide array of gifts and gratuities from, oil and gas companies with whom RIK was conducting official business." In addition, the investigation found a "culture of substance abuse and promiscuity in the RIK program - both within the program... and in consort with industry. Internally, several staff admitted to illegal drug use as well as illicit sexual encounters." The report further stated:
Our investigation revealed that many RIK employees simply felt that federal government ethics standards and DOI policies were not applicable to them because of their "unique" role in MMS. When interviewed, many RIK employees said they felt that in order to effectively perform their official duties, they needed to interact in social settings with industry representatives to obtain "market intelligence." Some felt their free attendance at industry functions was an absolute necessity given that it was industry's practice to conduct business over lunch, dinner, and golf outings.
One RIK employee opined that because RIK regularly paid a major producer to transport oil, it was perfectly appropriate for him to attend a "treasure hunt" in the desert with all expenses paid by the producer. Another RIK employee went so far as to say that RIK's goal was to be "part of industry."
In September 2009, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced plans to end the royalty-in-kind program, which collected royalties in oil and gas, rather than cash.

Under Bush, MMS relaxed oversight of drilling, ignored safety warnings, downplayed oil spill concerns

Bush MMS adopted regulation stating drillers are "in the best position to determine the environmental effects of its proposed activity." The Washington Post reported on May 25 that the actions taken by MMS, "are shaped in part by a 2005 regulation it adopted that assumes oil and gas companies can best evaluate the environmental effects of their operations." The article stated that "[t]he rule governing which information the MMS should receive and review before signing off on drilling plans states: 'The lessee or operator is in the best position to determine the environmental effects of its proposed activity based on whether the operation is routine or non-routine.' " Rolling Stone magazine reported that these "new rules pre-qualified deep-sea drillers" to receive ... an exemption from environmental review," even though such exemptions were "originally intended to prevent minor projects, like outhouses on hiking trails, from being tied up in red tape."

In April 2008, Bush MMS loosened rules requiring blowout plan. The Associated Press reported on May 5 that a "rule change two years ago by the federal agency that regulates offshore oil rigs allowed BP to avoid filing a plan specifically for handling a major spill from an uncontrolled blowout at its Deepwater Horizon project." AP further reported: "The MMS rule change, made in April 2008, says that Gulf rig operators are required to file a blowout scenario only if one of five conditions applies. For example, an operator must provide a blowout scenario when it proposes to install a 'surface facility' in water deeper than 1,312 feet. While Deepwater Horizon was operating almost 5,000 feet below the surface, [BP spokesman William] Salvin said the project did not meet the definition of a surface facility. The MMS official agreed."

And just to cap it off, this all started at the very beginning of the Bush Administration when in May of 2001 an executive order was issued short-cutting the MMS permits approval process to just 30 days. Via the New York Times

The 2000s....ushered in an era of aggressive, government-backed offshore oil production. In May 2001, Bush, acting on recommendations from the oil industry, signed an executive order that required federal agencies to expedite permits for energy projects and paved the way for greater domestic oil exploration. 

Yes, you could argue that the Obama administration had their finger on the switch at the time of the DW Horizon disaster and they too share some of the blame - but you have to recognize that the MMS had been specifically disabled from properly doing their job - by the Bush Administration, and what we really need to blame Obama for is not FIXING THAT FAILURE FAST ENOUGH to prevent this disaster from occurring.

No matter how many times Republican Pundit argue that anyone who says Bush shares some of the blame for just "scapegoating" or that mentioning these facts are somehow "ridiculous and offensive" as Dana Perino has done, let's just go one step further and remind them that when they were in power they tried to blame 9-11  on Bill Clinton, and further claimed that No Terrorist Attacks Occurred Under George Bush.

The facts do not deflect all blame from President Obama - not hardly. But this reflexive need to protect and deflect blame from irresponsible corporations like BP, Enron, KBR, Goldman Sachs and Blackwater, and to burnish the tarnished legacy of George W. Bush in denial of all facts and reality is practically pathological. 


GOP Memo: Beware of Bloggers with Cellphone Cameras

The NRSC (National Republican Senate Committee) has released a memo warning their candidates not to get into "Physical Confrontations" with Bloggers with Cameras.

Dylan has a bad habit of trying to put words in people's mouths, but I do agree with Cenk that so rarely do anyone in the media actually ask a real and serious question of anyone - while we have the kind of answers like those from Sharon Angle (R-AZ) - who now will only talk to Fox News or Conservative Radio - after she get's asked questions about positions statements on her own website regarding Social Security and "Second Amendment Remedies" by a Local CBS News Reporter.

Or Rand Paul (R-KY) when he gets asked on MSNBC to clarify his position about the Sanctity of Private Ownership (in relation to Civil Rights, or Liability) that he'd already been asked by a local newspaper.

And of course none of will ever forget Former Senator George Allen's infamous- Maccaca Moment.

Either way, the Citizen Media has the guys running scared - and with good reason.


Sunday, June 20

Why the Lakers (and their Fans) Suck the Goat Azz!

All you have to do is watch this video - THIS is how Laker Fans react when everything goes their way! Whattabuncha of spoiled little punks.

I could understand when people rioted after the Rodney King verdicts, ridiculous self-destructive temper tantrum that that was - it made some sense as a cathartic release of pent up tension. But this is SENSELESS, and pathetic. Just a pack of thugs doing what they do worst - thuggery.

Also the stupidity of filming yourself committing felony vandalism and arson, truly stellar thinking there...


Prop 8 and Mormon Hate

The Young Turk's talks to "8: The Mormon Proposition" producer.

Brooks Equates $20B Restitution Fund w/ War Crimes of Cheney

Wherein New York Times Columnist David Brooks backs up Joe Barton on the "Shakedown" thing.

Brooks: We're a nation of laws, we have laws to protect the unpopular even those who do bad things. We have a set of laws. What President Obama did when he very publicly and very brutally strong-armed BP was that he went around these laws. Well, just imagine if Dick Cheney did it to somebody he didn't like?

I'm not worried about what'll happen with the money, I'm worried about the erosion of the rule of law, the President using the vast powers of the government to strong-arm a company -not matter how unpopular, no matter how badly they may have behaved.

So let me get this perfectly straight, the idea here is that Obama circumvented the rule of law by getting BP to pay for the damage that they caused without first taking them to court? They struck, essentially a "gentlemen's agreement" - the same thing that might happen outside of a courtroom in order to defer or end litigation to accomplish the same goal, which is Restore the people of the Gulf.

Shields nails it (Obama Derangement Syndrome):

Shields: What does Barton do, he takes BP and identifies them with the Republican Party. He puts a Republican face on BP. It's almost an inclination to Blame America First, these people are so consumed with attacking President Obama, they're going to take the side of BP!?

The main objection, and you can see it here in this clip with Bill O'Reilly Grilling Michele Bachman, is that they Obama used the threat of prosecution in order to "extort" money from BP. The thing is this is what just about every prosecutor in the country does when they arrange for a plea bargain for a lesser charge when the accused agrees to admit their guilt and make reasonable restitution.

Even Bill O'Reilly gets it:

O'Reilly: I want Obama to strong-arm these guys, it's one of the best things he's done in this whole thing!

Amen to that.

But when comparing to the Bush Administration, there is not a "Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda" to this - because the Bush Administration actually did the exact same thing with various corporations nearly 100 times.

"Last month, prosecutors and the company reached an unusual deferred prosecution agreement, under which Bristol-Myers has two years to clean up its act and prove it can operate lawfully. If it stays clean, it won't face criminal charges. Also under the terms of the agreement, Bristol-Myers made a $300 million payment to a shareholder-restitution fund and Mr. Dolan (CEO of Bristol-Myers) gave up the chairman's post to Mr. Robinson."


...will (not)criminally prosecute Chevron Corporation and its subsidiaries
(collectively, "CHEVRON") for any crimes related to its purchases of Iraqi oil under the United Nations Oil-for-Food Program from in or about mid-2000 up to and including in or about March 2003, that involved the payment by third parties of secret illegal surcharges to the former Government of Iraq, including asset forth in Exhibit A. which is incorporated by reference herein.
It is the intent of the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern
District of New York to seek the transfer of $20,000,000 of these funds to the Development Fund of Iraq (sanctioned on May 21, 2003, by United Nations Security Council Resolution 1483) to be used as restitution to the people of Iraq asthe intended beneficiaries of the proceeds of the sale of all Iraqi oil made pursuant to the United Nations 011-for-Food Program.

Contrast all of this with Dick Cheney, because there is no "IF" when it comes to his involvement in Circumventing the Rule of Law against people who may - MAY - have done bad things....

Dick Cheney, with his surrogates Liz Cheney and Marc Theissen who continue to this day to argue that it's inappropriate to apply the Rules of War including the Geneva Conventions to Foreign Enemy combatants, who continue to this day to argue that Waterboarding isn't Torture - even though America has prosecuted people for it for over 100 years, going all the way back to the Spanish-American War.

Comparing Obama getting BP to pay for the cleanup of the Gulf and people who've been impacted by the spill is NOTHING compared to the Presidential Overreach and gross bumrushing of the Rule of Law that the Bush Administration - especially Dick (Halliburton) Cheney - perpetrated.

Whether it was illegal rendition, illegal wiretaps, kidnapping, torture, creating an assassination squad - practically nothing stopped Dick Cheney from completely "Circumventing the Rule Of Law" on a regular basis.