Thursday, June 17, 2010

BP CEO Sideshow

I was just watching the live webcast of the testimony of Tony Hayward, Chairman of BP, before a congressional hearing.

Setting all other feelings about the spill aside, what a circus! Mr. Hayward barely got two words of his opening remarks out when some woman in the back row of the chamber stood up with a tar-like substance on her hands and face and started shouting something I couldn't understand but I’m sure will be put in sub-titles in subsequent media coverage.

If you look at the rest of the room as the gang of videographers scramble to get the shot of the woman being handcuffed, you’ll see that there are very few audience members in the room, which begs the question: how did this lady get through security looking like a tar-baby. If she put the substance on her hands and face after entering, what kind of security check lets a lady with a purse full of tar into the room?

I suspect the whole thing was scripted. Congressman Bart Stupak of Michigan was chairing, and after the lady was hauled off by police, he simply said, “Please begin your remarks again. As you know emotions run high on this topic.” His demeanor made it sound like he was saying, “I hope you don’t mind that we asked that lady to go through that Aboriginal war dance, but we’re trying to up our ratings before the noon news break.” Immediately after the five minute opening remarks, Stupak gaveled to adjourn for lunch.

P.T. Barnum would probably suggest making better use of the clowns before breaking for intermission. We’ll see if the sideshow continues after lunch.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Mr. President, Perhaps...
Your Kicking Foot Should Go Full Circle.

For several years, the Emerald Coast of the Panhandle has been our school's Senior Trip destination. Two weeks ago, we were there enjoying the white beaches of Destin, Florida.

No matter the size of the group we take each year, there are always two or three for whom it is the first time they have flown or the first time they have seen the ocean (we let them call the gulf the ocean in this case). It stands to reason that it is also the first time some of the seniors have seen dolphins and pelicans in the wild. (This picture is not from Destin. The oil booms were not yet in place when we were there.)

The day before we flew back to Michigan, one of our young ladies was trying to take a picture of a pelican in flight along the beach. I can't remember if she succeeded or not, but I know it would make her sick to see these pictures.

We live in that area of the gulf for just one week each year, I can only imagine how the people who for generations have lived there are feeling right now. Already their tourism has been decimated, their charter fishing boats docked by either mandate or lack of customers, and now their pelicans (which is the state bird of Louisiana) are being grounded by crude sludge and boxed up in crates for attempted rescue.

How could this happen? Look under any one of the sinks in your house, and you'll see a shut-off valve on both the hot and the cold water supply lines. Those valves are required by building codes for convenience and safety in the event that a leak occurs or a pipe breaks above that valve. If a leak occurs below that valve, there is a main shut-off valve in the basement of your house. If a leak occurs in the supply line to the house, there is an underground shut-off valve somewhere between your home and the street, and your area waterworks engineers know exactly where it is. Millions of homes across this country have at least three shut off valves between the street and the sink.

My point? If "code" requires so many shut-off valves for clean water, how in the world have we allowed an industry to have not one shut off valve in the thousands of giant man-made verticle pipelines capable of spewing millions of gallons per day into one of our treasured resources? Don't get me wrong. I'm not against oil or off-shore drilling any more than I'm against city water running to my house from the supply line near the street. I'm just flabbergasted that companies like BP are allowed to drill and install miles and miles of "plumbing" without a viable shut-off system, and I'm equally flabbergasted that President Obama has been so inept at helping SOLVE the problem BEFORE making enemies and criminals of those he's left in charge to fix it.

This underwater oil gusher is nearly 60 days old. For the first 50 days, our president was in damage control--unfortunately it had nothing to do with the gulf; he was controling the damage to himself. For weeks we heard nothing but blame and litigation and most recently threats for some a** kickin'.

Can you imagine the different treatment this news story would be getting if it had occurred under the previous administration's watch. Listen to this report on British television. The leak is dumping 40,000 barrels (not gallons) per day into the gulf. This may be BP's liability but its OUR PROBLEM. It's not the white cliffs of Dover, England, that are being ruined; it's our own shoreline. How could we as a nation be so ill prepared for this containment and clean-up process? This is a disaster that requires not a politician, not a lawyer, but a true leader. (Thank heavens we are learning this now and not during "World War".)

I think its time for the President's kicking foot to go full circle and find his own rear end.

In the meantime, it would be good for us to remember that we are allies with Britain. The U.S. will play the Brits in the World Cup Soccer match today. I have a feeling this British Petroleum mess will add some tension to that match. But I also sense that Obama has not liked the Brits for some time. Did you know that one of the first acts Obama performed upon moving into the White House was sending a bust of Winston Churchill back to England ? (It had been a gift from Tony Blair to our country.) I hope that the spirit of this old WWII song, will remind us of a far more desperate time when the Yanks and Brits banded together. The U.S. and English relationship continues to serve a much greater purpose. This is a time for team work not a reenactment of the Revolutionary War.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Dents in the Carpet (Revisited)

In the days following Obama's election, I began a series of posts called "Dents in the Carpet."

Below, in brown text, are key thoughts from that initial post:

The Power of Status Quo
and Importance of Burden of Proof

On occasion it’s helpful to know a dead language, and most of us know a little Latin whether we think so or not. We all use the term status quo, which basically means “the way things are,” but it‘s often used negatively by advocates of change to mean “the way things have been for too long.”

I’ll begin with a simple example. How often do you rearrange the furniture in your most static room? [Static is a form of the word status and, in this usage, means the room that changes the least in your house, not the room with the most static electricity.] If you consider why you set that room up the way it is in the first place, you may find the reasons remain compelling through time. If you try to change things around, you may end up putting things right back where they were. (which is easy to do because of the dents in the carpet).

This is not always true, sometimes you can rearrange things in a room, step back, and really like it. [And you put ice chips in the carpet dents to help them bounce back overnight.]

The difference between men and women when it comes to rearranging furniture, is that (typically) men can live with the status quo of any room. They set up a TV room, for instance, and it can stay that way for all eternity....

Before getting off the couch to move it, men are far more likely to challenge the idea, because they understand that, while change is not wrong, the burden of proof rests firmly on those who which to change the status quo. Not only do women sometimes forget CHANGE bears the burden of proof, they seem to forget the fundamental rules of furniture inertia: the heavier the piece, the more indelible the dents, the less often it should be moved. Or as the Romans said in Latin, Quieta non movere, meaning "Do not move settled things."

In other words, it is safe to assume that there is a reason for the status quo and CHANGE has the burden of proof that it will indeed be better, if implemented, than the way things are. Some changes are good and long overdue, but this merely eases the burden of proof; it does not eliminate it.

This topic is far more important that this furniture example suggests. It becomes strategic in matters of law, morality, and politics....

Those were my thoughts a year and a half ago, and they still hold true today.

The only thing that has changed is that we now have more than 500 days of watching the Obama Moving Company attempting to rearrange the nations furniture--and in fact, they are trying to remove the carpet itself so we can't see the dents and forget how things once were for America. Not only is the carpet rolled up and sitting out on the curb, the curtains and upholstery are being replaced. In short, anything that represents the fabric of our lives seems to be fair game for being undone before Obama's era is brought to an end.

But a funny thing happened under the rolls of carpet and all the other things Obama hastily took to the curb. Under that pile of America as we know it, the grass began to feel the pressure, the grass began to feel like it was being robbed of sunshine, the green life in its cells began to fade to a pale yellow, and the grass roots said, "Wait a minute! This carpet and all the dents that remind us how things were before Obama took over don't belong out at the curb. It's still good carpet. We like the way things were before he tried to force his view of this world on the rest of us."

And to all the liberal Democrats surprise, the grass roots became so strong under those rolls of discarded Americana carpet that they pushed it up and let the winds unroll it for all to see, and passers by began to say, "Hey, I remember that carpet. I remember those dents. I remember how things used to be." And the people, beginning with the strength of those grass roots, began to rally together to put things back the way they were.

Here is an column from the Wall Street Journal, that articulates the beginning of the end of the Obama regime. I think it will help people understand why the Obama bell does not ring true. At first, millions of people liked the sound of his bell ringing and ringing throughout his meteoric rise to fame and the White House, but now folks from both sides of the aisle are seeing that the ring is hollow.

The Alien in the White House
The distance between the president and the people is beginning to be revealed.


The deepening notes of disenchantment with Barack Obama now issuing from commentators across the political spectrum were predictable. So, too, were the charges from some of the president's earliest enthusiasts about his failure to reflect a powerful sense of urgency about the oil spill.

There should have been nothing puzzling about his response to anyone who has paid even modest critical attention to Mr. Obama's pronouncements. For it was clear from the first that this president—single-minded, ever-visible, confident in his program for a reformed America saved from darkness by his arrival—was wanting in certain qualities citizens have until now taken for granted in their presidents. Namely, a tone and presence that said: This is the Americans' leader, a man of them, for them, the nation's voice and champion.

Those qualities to be expected in a president were never about rhetoric....They were a matter of identification with the nation and to all that binds its people together in pride and allegiance. These are feelings held deep in American hearts, unvoiced mostly, but unmistakably there and not only on the Fourth of July.

A great part of America now understands that this president's sense of identification lies elsewhere, and is in profound ways unlike theirs. He is hard put to sound convincingly like the leader of the nation, because he is, at heart and by instinct, the voice mainly of his ideological class. He is the alien in the White House, a matter having nothing to do with delusions about his birthplace cherished by the demented fringe.

One of his first reforms was to rid the White House of the bust of Winston Churchill—a gift from Tony Blair—by packing it back off to 10 Downing Street. A cloudlet of mystery has surrounded the subject ever since, but the central fact stands clear. The new administration had apparently found no place in our national house of many rooms for the British leader who lives on so vividly in the American mind. Churchill, face of our shared wartime struggle, dauntless rallier of his nation who continues, so remarkably, to speak to ours. For a president to whom such associations are alien, ridding the White House of Churchill would, of course, have raised no second thoughts.

Read the full column here, and you'll see why I say that the grass roots are rising up to reinstall the best of America as we once knew it. The carpet will return to the rooms, the dents will be studied, and the many hasty changes will be reversed. Who knows, maybe we'll even ask our friends in England if the bust of Winston Churchill can be returned.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Summary of Obama's Response
to Oil Disaster after 50 days...

"I said it before; I'll say it again: 'The buck stops with me...' where this oil stops is beyond me." T.K.

Evidently his idea of leadership and problem solving is knowing who to blame. This statement was said on the very same day he said to the high school students of Kalamazoo Central "Don't make excuses," but that speech just put one of the listeners to sleep.

Byron York's Tuesday article claims that the...

"Spill Reveals Obama's lack of executive experience"

"...perhaps candidates in future presidential races will think twice before arguing that running their campaign counts as executive experience.

"A few days before Obama won the White House, Bill Clinton joined him for a late-night rally in Kissimmee, Fla. Clinton, who became president after 12 years as a governor, told the crowd not to worry about Obama's lack of executive background. Given the brilliance of Obama's campaign, Clinton said -- and here the former president uncharacteristically mangled his words a bit -- a President Obama would be 'the chief executor of good intentions as president.'

"Chief executor of good intentions? Perhaps that's what Obama is now. But with oil gushing into the Gulf, that's just not good enough."

Saturday, June 5, 2010

The Wicked Witch of the White House
has overstayed her time in the Press Corps.
It's time to send Helen Thomas home.

This clip is from a blog called Yid with Lid, and that blogger's post begins with these words:

"Helen Thomas is as fair and open minded as she is good looking. The most Senior of White-House Correspondents has given up being a real reporter and instead spends her time spewing venom toward America's war on Terror and/or anything Israel does...."

Regardless of one's views on Isreal or their current conflict with Hamas, let's start with simple steps in the right direction. Like for instance: Hearst Newspapers needs to retire this 90-year-old Lebanese loose canon, Helen Thomas. Most of America is far more tired of seeing her at press conferences than she is of seeing Jews in their homeland of Israel.

UPDATE Friday, June 4, 2010: Helen Thomas issued the following statement today: “I deeply regret my comments I made last week regarding the Israelis and the Palestinians. They do not reflect my heart-felt belief that peace will come to the Middle East only when all parties recognize the need for mutual respect and tolerance. May that day come soon.”

It is clear that she was speaking from her heart the first time (May 27, 2010) and from a boot in the butt the second time.

Update June 5, 2010: In the twenty-four hours after posting this call to sing "Ding Dong the Witch is Dead," the controversy has rightfully mounted. Like me, Former Press Secretary Ari Fleisher has called for Hearst to fire her. Let's face it; if she had said such a remark against African-Americans or Hispanics, the witch would be melting into the floor, but as we know there are two groups to which "hate speech" does not apply: Jews and Bible-believing Christians.

Charles Krauthammer's recent column summarizes the need for Israel's blockade and what's really behind the anti-Israel remarks of Helen Thomas and the rest of the Muslim-sympathizing world.

Why does it matter? Time will tell, but there is reason to believe that this "news" is old news and that the real scoop was written long ago.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Hungry Even For Hair-Brained Ideas...

Just Keep the Oil Off Our Shores!
A couple weeks ago, I mentioned that some farmers had a good idea of using tons of straw to sop up the spilled oil in the gulf. The advantage of that unusual idea was that the truckloads of messy straw could then theoretically be used as fuel. A few days after posting that clip, I was getting a haircut at Sports Clips and noticed a sign on the wall telling us that our hair on the floor was being sent to the gulf to help soak up the spill. Lots of hair salons and pet stores in the area are doing this. Here’s how the idea supposedly works.

Unfortunately (or perhaps wisely), the idea was rejected by BP.

Don’t get me wrong, BP may have many good reasons for not wanting to put tons of human hair stuffed into used panty hose into an already messed-up gulf. One reason that comes immediately to mind is that what do you do with the heavy, oily, stretchy hair-balls once you manage to pull them from the water? Unlike the straw idea, we certainly can’t burn these gloppy, gross string beans. Have you ever smelled burning hair. Yuk! This may very well be a matter of good intentions run amuck. It may be a hair-brained idea.

A new problem has resulted: After four weeks of good intentions, there are now warehouses all along the gulf stuffed full of these giant nylon-hair sausages.

Meanwhile, a west Michigan company just announced yesterday that it landed a bid to make 2,000 miles of standard “oil spill boom,” the yellow floating type we see on TV. The company hired 50 new employees in 24 hours and may need to hire 20 more. Two questions remain: will the standard “boom” work better than the miles of donated “hair sausages” that will not be used? And why in the world is a company just now getting the bid to make 2,000 miles of boom? Why did this not happen a month ago? Regardless of when or whether ever BP will stop this leak, one thing we have known for nearly 50 days is that we have a spill to contain.

Why wait a month to order the needed supplies? That is the part of this situation that, in my opinion, falls squarely at Obama’s feet. I wouldn't put it as bluntly as Dick Morris did, but I do think this will be Obama's "Katrina." If not, the media owes former President Bush a huge explanation for why they were harder on him during a much more complicated crisis (involving hundreds of thousands of evacuated victims) than they have yet been on Obama during this gulf spill disaster.
This is a time for "We the People"
Not "Me the President"

Here’s what CNN reports that director Spike Lee said about his man Obama:

In the weeks since an oil rig exploded and later sank into the Gulf of Mexico, President Obama has dealt with the tragedy with his signature cool, calm and collected approach. But with the oil still gushing in what is now the worst spill in U.S. history and the environmental devastation coming ashore, the president is becoming a target of the anger that was originally directed only at BP.

"One time, go off!" director Spike Lee urged on CNN's "AC 360°." "If there's any one time to go off, this is it, because this is a disaster."

Lee's sentiment echoes the frustration of people who want to see Obama get loud, take charge and inspire them like he did during his presidential run.

Recalling then-candidate Obama's ability to rouse crowds into chants of "Yes, we can," presidential historian Douglas Brinkley said, "There was a feeling he was going to be one of these presidents that moved us with words the way John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan did in recent decades."

Instead, Obama has presented himself as the unflappable president, with the engineer-like approach of Jimmy Carter and the legislative astuteness of Lyndon Johnson, Brinkley said.”

Spike, if Obama "goes off," he will simply look like a spoiled child and not a man in charge. Here’s why: Reagan spoke from his heart with core values shared by his fellow American’s. Obama is “Joe Cool.” Remember this skit about how cool he is? Reagan, on the other hand, reminded millions that our country is about “We the People” while Obama campainged as “Me the President” and failed to deliver.

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