The White House Fly And Obama’s Golf Crisis

June 21, 2010


Gerry Ashley


Mr. President, THIS Is What We Expected

June 18, 2010


Odds are that you already knew this from the news or your gut, but here are the things I think most Americans were expecting weeks ago from President Obama…

From James Carville:

These people are crying. They’re begging for something down here. And it just looks like he’s not involved in this! Man, you have got to get down here and take control of this! Put somebody in charge of this and get this thing moving! We’re about to die down here!

The President could have jumped quick and ugly on the Jones Act like Dubya did after Katrina.

And look! GulfCoastBamaFan has, not one, not two, but seven excellent ideas on exactly what to do. Among them:

Order BP to secure vacuuming supertankers, similar to or the same ones as those used by the Saudis in previous spills in another Gulf half a world away. This technology can collect, process and transport millions of gallons of oil per day, and could have made a huge dent in the amount of crude that reaches the shore.

Allow state governors to take whatever measures they deem necessary and appropriate to protect their coasts…

Get the Congress to plug the damned hearings until the leak is stopped…

Suspend enforcement of the Jones Act. The Act was intended to stop “tramp steaming” of foreign vessels between US ports. It was never intended to prevent foreign owned vessels to assist in oil spill recovery ops. Indeed, the ROV’s being used to feed live video to the surface are all foreign owned…

And finally there is everyone’s favorite, General Honore…

Yeah, yeah, yeah… You’ve heard this before, and no doubt started to think about this sort of stuff at least five weeks ago when we finally grasped the scale of the disaster.

But that is precisely the point. If you and I and the folks above could figure this out way back when, then where the hell was Obama and his “New Whiz Kids”?

Alan Speakman

Rough Costs: Gulf Spill vs. Exxon Valdez

June 17, 2010


Well, there are yet more numbers out there describing the Gulf oil “spew.” Now, the experts are mumbling numbers like 60,000 barrels/day of oil loosed upon the wave and shore. A bit of quick math (42 gal/barrel) says that we’re looking at something like 145 million gallons total so far, or 13 times that of the Exxon Valdez.

Of course, there are so many unknowns… We don’t really know how much oil has been lost; we don’t know what nearly a million gallons of dispersants are going to do to the area; we don’t know what happens to such a deep ecosystem given the 5,000′ depth of the blow-out; we don’t know how much crude will reach the shoreline and the wetlands… But even if we simply use the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill as a rough estimate, that was still a $4.5 billion cleanup–but Pricne William Sound is still feeling the effects. Using just that yardstick today ($654/gal), we’re looking at $95 billion, though that may in fact be just a fraction of the final amount.

And truth be told, the cleanup will no doubt reach a point of diminishing returns… For example (and this is just an example), BP might be able to remediate 75% of the damage at a cost of $40 billion, 80% at a cost of $50 billion, 83% at a cost of $75 billion, and 84% at a cost of $150 billion. Put another way, there will come a time when there just isn’t enough ecological bang for the (available) cleanup buck.

Obviously, that begs a nasty question… Just how many bucks does BP have? Try about $80 billion with their oil reserves. Uh oh. But as Reuters reported:

“The company generated cash of $7.7 billion from operating activities in the first quarter. Even after capital investment of $3.8 billion, it had $3.9 billion of free cash and the company says it has arranged significant credit lines…

“The upper end of analysts’ forecasts of total costs is around $30-$35 billion, with potential extra costs for lost fisheries business in years to come.

“Analysts say BP may not be able to cover such costs, and pay its dividend, out of cashflow alone, forcing additional borrowing.

However, the oil giant is believed to be able to do so without bringing its gearing levels above its targeted 20-30 percent range.”

My over-priced $.02 concerning the final cost of the cleanup? I’m guessing at best $50 billion—$100 billion if we’re lucky. (Who knows what it will amount to if the relief wells flop.) As the summer slogs by watch the shenanigans, follow the money, and watch out for PetroChina. Oh goody.

Alan Speakman

Obama’s Response to Oil Spill: Incompetence or Politics?

June 14, 2010

Question: Is President Obama’s Obysmal response to the catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico the result of his inexperience (i.e., incompetence), or is it due to something far more sinister: politics and his devotion to Unions?

I believe the answer to this question will prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that Obama is either the most inept President the United States has ever had… or the most vile and corrupt.  Let’s look at some facts:

  • The oil spill is the worst ecological disaster this country has ever experienced
  • It’s getting worse every day regardless of what progress BP reports
  • The Obama administration’s response has been far slower in coming than the Bush administration’s response to Katrina… and far less focused or coordinated
  • A 1993 oil spill of 800 million gallons in the Persian Gulf (approximately 70 times the size of the Exxon Valdez, by comparison) was cleaned up using technology available through Saudi Aramco.  That technology has been offered to those in charge of cleaning up the Gulf of Mexico spill by former Saudi Aramco engineer Nick Pozzi. But, accoding to Pozzi, no one at the White House is listening
  • When asked what foreign countries had offered assistance to the US in lending technology and boats to assist with the cleanup, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley refused to answer, saying only

“As a policy matter, we’re not going to identify those offers of assistance until we are able to see, you know, what we need, assess the ongoing situation. And as we accept those offers of assistance, we will inform you.”

  • According to the Associated Press, only after reporters pointed out that the Bush administration identified foreign offers of assistance after the Katrina disaster, the State Department begrudgingly identified the governments of Canada, Croatia, France, Germany, Ireland, Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Republic of Korea, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United Nations of all offering assistance in the cleanup. (UPDATE: It seems that the administration is now backtracking and reaching out to other nations for assistance. Too little, too late?)
  • We do, however, know that the White House refused an almost-immediate offer of help from the Dutch government (skimming booms and help with dredging sand barriers) within three days of the initial explosion:

“According to Geert Visser, Consul General for the Netherlands in Houston “The embassy got a nice letter from the administration that said, ‘Thanks, but no thanks.'”

What, then, could the real reason be that the federal government’s response has been so little and is taking so long? And why have the above offers for assistance from foreign lands been rejected thus far? Herein lies the arrogance or the incompetence of the Obama administration and the President himself.

Meet “The Jones Act
Wikipedia describes The Jones Act (aka section 27 of The Merchant Marine Act of 1920), as requiring:

…that all goods transported by water between U.S. ports be carried in U.S.-flag ships, constructed in the United States, owned by U.S. citizens, and crewed by U.S. citizens and U.S. permanent residents. The purpose of the law is to support the U.S. merchant marine industry, but agricultural interests generally oppose it because, they contend, it raises the cost of shipping their goods, making them less competitive with foreign sources.

After Hurricane Katrina, President Bush didn’t wait to be asked; he knew that reaction time was crucial in the aftermath of the hurricane. He immediately waived the Jones Act in order to get assistance from any country that had the ability to offer it. And for that humanitarian gesture, he was roundly criticized by the unions and their mouthpieces – including one Barack Hussein Obama who later openly criticized him on the White House web site.

The obvious question, then, is of course, “Why hasn’t President Obama waived the Jones act in order to accept assistance from the 13 countries (plus the United Nations) who have all offered to help?”

Obama continues to claim this oil spill is his top priority. Then why hasn’t he accepted the offer of assistance from Belgium firm DEME who has the equipment that, according to spokesman Hubert Fiers, can contain and resolve the spill far faster than the technology in the U.S.? Says Fiers:

“The U.S. authorities (are) estimating that they need nine months to get the job done. We can do that in four months. And if we work together, there may be perhaps one month off.”

Yet none of the assistance can legally be done unless Obama does what President George W. Bush did after Katrina:  Waive The Jones Act.

So we’re down to a very simple question: Why is Obama refusing or failing to do so? Their are only two possible answers as I see it:

  1. President Obama is telling the truth that resolving the oil spill is his toppriority… but he’s the most inept President this country has ever had and is unable to see the beginnings of solutions staring him in the face, OR
  2. He is a puppet to Union officials who have warned him NOT to allow foreign countries take away work from union workers, regardless of the resulting impact.

I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusion. I think you know what mine is. The overriding issue, however, is “Can The Gulf Coast Survive Either Answer?” Indeed, can the country survive either President?

Doug Powers wrote an excellent piece as guest blogger for Michelle Malkin yesterday, likening Obama’s commitment to the Gulf Spill to Leslie Neilson’s character (Lt. Frank Drebin) in “The Naked Gun.” It’s a must read.

Gerry Ashley

How Does a Rig “Miss” 16 Inspections?

June 12, 2010

All the recent news reports are chattering excitedly about the Deepwater Horizon rig’s having missed 16 inspections since January of 2005. Source after source gives pretty much the following info in the lead paragraphs:

“Newly released government inspection reports show BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig was only inspected six times in 2008 even though government regulations say drilling rigs should be inspected every month. In total, the rig missed 16 inspections since January 2005, according to the documents.”

I have a few questions, however.

First, where are these “newly released” reports? Not a single news article or blog post has linked to these reports–they all simply parrot the main CBS News article, up to and including the screaming headline, “ZOMG!! RIG MISSED 16 INSPECTIONS BEFORE EXPLOSION!!1!”. (Among the other damning items mentioned in the piece is the fact that the last person to inspect the Deepwater Horizon was a trainee who was sent to inspect the rig by himself. Clearly this was also BP’s fault.)

But here’s my real question: how does a rig like that “miss” an inspection? Was it out to lunch the day the inspectors showed up? Did it call in sick to work that day? It seems to me that the responsibility for scheduling inspections and then, you know, actually doing the inspections, falls under the responsibility of the MMS. If, for example, bad weather prevented an inspection from being done, shouldn’t the inspector and his team be the ones to re-schedule?

From January 2005 through April 2010, 16 inspections were reportedly missed. On a hypothetical monthly inspections schedule, that’s about a 25% miss rate. I don’t know if that’s good or bad in the oil industry, or for that matter, if it’s even par for the course for the MMS.

BP and TransOcean are taking a lot of kicks these days, and deservedly so. This, however, is not a blow they deserve. CBS should be putting the blame for missed inspections squarely on the shoulders of the MMS and the Obama administration. But since part of the mainstream media’s agenda is to cover Obama’s ass (rather than kicking it), you won’t see it reported that way.

Oh, and that “newly released” document? Here’s the PDF of the Inspection Report, and by my count, 17 inspections were missed, not 16.

CBS can’t even count. But what did you expect?


UPDATE: Sorry, the link above to the Inspection Report goes to a general download page. Here’s the actual PDF report. It can also be found using the link above, and selecting the very last item: “Unredacted copies of all reports from Minerals Management Service (MMS) inspections that took place on facilities located in Mississippi Canyon Block 252 since January 1, 2009.

A Little Butt-Kicking Humor

June 11, 2010


The problem with trying to sound tough when you’re not perceived as a tough guy is that you’re apt to get mocked mercilessly for it–in this case, with good cause.

Better perhaps to laugh than to cry.


UPDATE: James Lileks nails it with exquisite perfection, as is his wont:

My nine-year-old daughter looked at the front page of the paper, and her eyes grew wide:

      The president said “ass”?

She swallowed the A-word, because it is, after all, the A-word. I nodded; he said that. She was silent for a while, digesting the information. Presidents, after all, are part of the great Pantheon of Authority, standing over the school principal, teachers, the pastor, police, and perhaps the mailman. To consider them using bad words reordered everything. Unless …

“He didn’t mean donkey,” she said, this being the only possible explanation. I shook my head. It will now be difficult to tell her not to use that word…

Read it all, because it’s Lileks and therefore well worth your time.

AP Reporter Enthusiastic But Not Too Bright

June 9, 2010


Well, this is a new one for me. Apparently a reporter from the Associated Press decided he wanted to see the Gulf oil slick in a new way, so he, er, dived right in. Literally.

I jump off the boat into the thickest patch of red oil I’ve ever seen. I open my eyes and realize my mask is already smeared. I can’t see anything and we’re just five seconds into the dive…

The oil is so thick and sticky, almost like a cake batter. It does not wipe off. You have to scrape it off, in layers until you finally get close to the skin. Then you pour on some Dawn dishwashing soap and scrub. I think to myself: No fish, no bird, no turtle would ever be able to clean this off of themselves. If any animal, any were to end up in this same puddle there is almost no way they could escape.

It’s actually a very interesting narrative, but there’s a very good reason none of his colleagues would dive without wearing Hazmat suits.

I’m all for getting to the heart of a story, but I think this is taking it way too far. Especially if you’re somewhat of a klutz, as this reporter apparently is; turns out after getting out of the water, scrubbing for half an hour to get clean, he fell back in and was slimed again. 

I sure hope he’s had all his shots.