June 30, 2010

The Jones Act, Part 2

I wrote earlier about the Jones Act, wonder why the President hasn't issued a global waiver (as President Bush did during hurricanes) to allow foreign vessels to assist in the Gulf clean up.  A variety of articles friendly to the Administration have said the Jones act is not a problem and can and will be waived when needed.

Alas, the Times-Picayune discovers this is not so.  The Jones Act is preventing and delaying cleanup in the gulf:

In the end, he sold nine of the spill response boats to a Florida company last week, which made them American boats and circumvented the problems with the Jones Act. Vial believes that BP and the federal government have been overwhelmed by the number of people offering assistance and ideas, thus slowing down the whole response.

"To respond to the crisis, whether it's BP or the U.S. government, they may have created too many administrative steps and barriers that are making the whole process much lengthier," he said.

Sens. LeMieux, Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, and John Cornyn, R-Texas, have proposed legislation that would temporarily waive the Jones Act for oil spill response vessels. Although there is a Jones Act waiver process for foreign vessels during an oil spill, the law requires that the Coast Guard make a determination that "an adequate number" of U.S. oil spill response vessels "cannot be engaged to recover oil from an oil spill in or near those waters in a timely manner." And the foreign country offering the boats must agree to allow the United States similar privileges in their country.

As of last week, no Jones Act waivers had been granted. According to the joint information center for the response, six vessels involved in oil containment have applied for Jones Act waivers that are still pending.

As the oil continues to pour into the Gulf of Mexico and bleed onto the Gulf-Coast beaches, where is President Obama?

Where is the President?

And another article, this time by Dick Morris, detailing the bureaucratic vetoes destroying the beaches and wildlife along the Gulf Coast.

The obvious fact is that Obama has no executive experience, nor do any of his top advisers. Without a clear mandate from the top, needed efforts to salvage the situation are repeatedly stymied by well-meaning bureaucrats strictly following the letter of their agency policy and federal law. The result, ironically, of their determined efforts to protect the environment has been the greatest environmental disaster in history.

Where is President Obama, and why isn't he overruling OSHA and the EPA and the Fish and Wildlife Administration and their myopic rules.  He holds his chin high, peering into the distance, but his vision is parochial.

In case of emergency...

Oil Messed Up is a very nice article by the Weekly Standard's Winston Groom.  Here's a bit:

According to the Coast Guard there are 400 skimmer vessels working along the affected coast—which, depending on how its measured, is somewhere between 500 miles (the linear measure) and 5,000 (if you measure every cove and creek). There are said to be 2,000 skimmers available in the United States. Gulf Coast residents are wondering just what the other 1,600 are doing. Apparently many of them are required by government regulation to remain right where they are in case of emergency.

In case of emergency... I wonder if these bureaucrats are watching any nightly news shows. 

As I mentioned before, this is exactly the problem you end up with when you put people in charge who have no executive experience.  They fear being held to account for the downside of making obviously correct decisions.  It wasn't long after the spill started that it was obvious the EPA should waive rules that disallow skimmers from dumping small amounts of oil into the gulf.  It wasn't long after the spill that it was obvious this is a case for all hands (all skimmers) on deck.  It wasn't long after the spill that it was obvious we could use foreign help immediately (rather than having Americans trained while the oil spewed).  But we didn't, and haven't done the obvious out of fear breaking the rules.  Well get a clue... when the house is burning down sometimes you have to throw the baby out the window -- that's not child endangerment, that's rescue.

The Cost of Idealism

The Financial Post's Lawrence Solomon has a nice article about the oil spill:  Avertible Catastrophe.  Here is a little bit:

Why does neither the U.S. government nor U.S. energy companies have on hand the cleanup technology available in Europe? Ironically, the superior European technology runs afoul of U.S. environmental rules. The voracious Dutch vessels, for example, continuously suck up vast quantities of oily water, extract most of the oil and then spit overboard vast quantities of nearly oil-free water. Nearly oil-free isn't good enough for the U.S. regulators, who have a standard of 15 parts per million -- if water isn't at least 99.9985% pure, it may not be returned to the Gulf of Mexico.

When ships in U.S. waters take in oil-contaminated water, they are forced to store it. As U.S. Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen, the official in charge of the clean-up operation, explained in a press briefing on June 11, "We have skimmed, to date, about 18 million gallons of oily water--the oil has to be decanted from that [and] our yield is usually somewhere around 10% or 15% on that." In other words, U.S. ships have mostly been removing water from the Gulf, requiring them to make up to 10 times as many trips to storage facilities where they off-load their oil-water mixture, an approach Koops calls "crazy."

The Americans, overwhelmed by the catastrophic consequences of the BP spill, finally relented and took the Dutch up on their offer -- but only partly. Because the U.S. didn't want Dutch ships working the Gulf, the U.S. airlifted the Dutch equipment to the Gulf and then retrofitted it to U.S. vessels. And rather than have experienced Dutch crews immediately operate the oil-skimming equipment, to appease labour unions the U.S. postponed the clean-up operation to allow U.S. crews to be trained.

So for more than a month we've been tea spooning oily water ashore to cleanse it because the EPA demands perfection.  This is why executive experience should be part of every presidential resume.  Executives have a daily relationship with trade offs and understand the cost of perfection.

June 29, 2010

A Profile of Governor Mitch Daniels

Mitch Daniels has done right by Indiana.

These days, Daniels' approval rating oscillates between 60 and 70% – which is remarkable given that he is a balding, mild-mannered, unassuming man inclined to travel through the state on a Harley, stop at a diner, and sit down to chat with the patrons.


June 26, 2010

The Black Panther Case

What the status of the Black Panther voter intimidation case?  Here is a very nice synopsis by a lawyer who resigned in protest.

June 25, 2010

Whooping Cough in Indiana

Whooping Cough (pertussis) is on the increase in Indiana.  What the article linked doesn't tell you is that your pertussis booster is included in your Diptheria Tetanus and Pertussis (DTaP) vaccine (your Tetanus shot) that you're supposed to get at least every 10 years.  If you don't remember your last Tetanus shot, you should go get one to protect yourself from not only Tetanus, but Whooping Cough.  I had a nagging cough last year that drug on for more than half a year before my doc finally diagnosed pertussis and gave me a shot... even then it took quite some time before the cough ended. 

Prevention is the always the best cure.

Indiana loses Whirlpool to Mexico

After 54 years in Evansville, the Whirlpool manufacturing plant is headed to Mexico.

June 21, 2010

Carroll wins 4A baseball crown

Congratulations to Fort Wayne's Carroll Chargers for winning the 4A State Baseball tournament on Saturday.

And it was Tom Neuenschwander behind the plate, calling the balls and strikes.

Why not waive the Jones Act?

Why hasn't Obama waived the Jones Act, even to this day, to signal our allies that their ships and help are wanted.

Art Online

Whether you're a collector, an artist, a student studying art or just want a decent image for your desktop, here are the 100 best online sites for art appreciation.  I'd also throw in DailyPainters.com, 1x.com and RedBubble.com.

June 16, 2010

Where are Americans Moving?

This is really cool.  The red lines represent people leaving a county and the black lines show people moving to a county (all data is from 2008)... the darker the line, the more people it represents.  As you can see, people are fleeing (for the most part) Allen county, Indiana.  For the most part, people appear happy to stay where they are in Wells County.  If you click on the link below, you can pick other counties across the country. Some areas are quite black (lots of people moving there) -- like Dallas, Texas and Orlando, Fl.  Other areas are really red (people fleeing) -- like Queens and the Bronx, New York.

Click here to pick any county in the USA.

June 15, 2010

Obama: Americans stay out of Southern Arizona

The movie Escape from New York is a classic I've enjoyed watching many times over the years.  In the movie, America has walled off Manhattan Island, using it as a place to which prisoners and the unwanted can be banished.  The island wasn't like a prison, though, where people pay a price for their crimes and then return to society... it was a place of anarchy, where the only law was the strongest get what they want and from which no one ever escapes.

Little did I ever think that the American government would give up part of our country in real life like the President is giving up on Southern Arizona.  I guess I shouldn't be surprised... this is the type of solution the President wants for Israel as well -- some other country encroaches upon yours with guns and bombs and crime?  Don't fight back... just get out and let them have it.

A Nightmare Well

Internal Documents Uncover BP Negligence

It appears as though BP let accountants overrule engineers -- let's hope the take the opposite view during the cleanup.

June 14, 2010

The Things That Carried Him

A really wonderful read, regarding the road home to Scottsburg, IN for Sergeant Robert Joe Montgomery Jr. who was born in 1977 and killed in Jabour, Iraq in 2007.  Take the time to read it and remember there are similar stories for so many others who have died in the service of our country.

Now they pulled onto the I-65, this great long string of mourners and their memories. They were surprised to see every overpass — U. S. 31, Commiskey Pike, the 250 to Uniontown, 600 South — lined with flags and signs welcoming Joey home. Volunteer fire departments, dressed in full uniform, stood at attention in front of their shining trucks. Farmers drove across their fields of baby corn and soy to reach the shoulder and stood in the beds of their old pickup trucks. As reports of the procession spread — traffic helicopters joined in, flying overhead — and long-haul truckers shared the news over their radios, they pulled over and climbed out of their rigs, and cars filled with families did, too, all of them standing and saluting from across the grassy median, the northbound lanes stopped nearly as completely as the southbound.

Read the whole thing at the link above.

The Kessler Syndrome

The more dependent upon satellites we become (think GPS, think weather, think communications) the more our satellites are threatened by space junkhttp://www.wired.com/magazine/2010/05/ff_space_junk/...

[In 1978, Donald] Kessler painted a nightmare scenario: Spent satellites and other space trash would accumulate until crashes became inevitable. Colliding objects would shatter into countless equally dangerous fragments, setting off a chain reaction of additional crashes. "The result would be an exponential increase in the number of objects with time," he wrote, "creating a belt of debris around the Earth."

Fascinating article.

June 9, 2010

Top to Bottom

A remarkable graphic at the link. It shows the highest and deepest points on earth and all in between, the highest cities, the oil spill, the deepest ocean trenches. 

Top to Bottom / Land and Sea

Scott Woodward drafted by the A's

Congratulations to former Norwell baseball standout Scott Woodward, drafted in the 15th round by the Oakland A's:

Round 15, Scott Woodward, 3B, Coastal Carolina University: Woodward is a left-handed-hitting third baseman who has major speed. He stole 54 bases in 61 attempts over 62 games this season, batting .330 with five home runs and 35 RBIs. He walked 47 times, raising his on-base percentage to .500, while striking out 48 times in 2010.

Nice stats!

Newlyweds crossed paths as children

Some newlyweds were looking through their childhood pictures and discovered a picture of the wife as a little girl at Disney World and her new husband can be seen in a stroller going by in the background.... the husband's family lived in Canada and the wife's family lived in Florida.... amazingly, they were a few feet apart as children and later met at work and fell in love.

Pretty cool!

June 3, 2010

Obama's Global Test

Turkey, long a friend and stable ally in the Middle East, is turning to the dark side... will Obama stand with Israel?  Will he lay down the law to Turkey?

It is insipid of the media to continue to refer to Turkey as one of Israel's last allies in the Middle East. An ally does not publicly rebuke fellow heads of state. An ally does not run TV programs on state television that depict Israeli soldiers as baby-killers. And an ally certainly does not do its best to facilitate the running of a legitimate embargo, over the repeated requests of its ally not to do so.

The flotilla was a deliberate set up. Turkey knowingly put Israel into an untenable position. Like other Islamist leaders, Erdogan knowingly put his citizens' lives at risk to strengthen his position domestically, and his image internationally.

Past decisions of our government with respect to military sales to Turkey and going to haunt us before this is over.

June 2, 2010

Junior fades back

Ken Griffey Junior fades back, hits the dirt of the warning track, and enters the books with other past greats of the game.

I happened to watch the movie, "61," the other day, about the year Roger Maris hit 61 home runs... and I wondered about those steroid-fueled few who have erased Maris' record (and made it meaningless).  Griffey played the game honestly:  he put up numbers in his youth and faded through the years due to age and injury.   Junior was perhaps the last, great player of a game that seems to be fading away year-by-year just as old players do.

A Gun for Grandpa

An 80-year-old vet is on the hot seat for protecting his family in Chicago.

The vet obtained the gun in violation of the city's handgun ban after a prior incident in which the couple was robbed at gunpoint by three armed intruders. So when Anthony Nelson — a parolee with a record of drug and gun arrests — tried breaking into their East Garfield Park home, they were ready.

Nelson fired twice at the as-yet-unnamed homeowner, who walks with a cane but retained enough of his military marksmanship to drop the intruder with a single gunshot to the chest. Yet in some quarters, instead of being hailed as a hero, it's the homeowner who's being considered a threat and the armed predator a victim of gun violence.

Chicago needs a political makeover.