Slowed! to the Highest Bidder

Hilarity ensues as the Trump ministration launches a trial balloon for building a nationwide 5G network:

it was an unpleasant surprise to many when a draft proposal urging heavy federal involvement in the next generation of fast mobile networks emerged from the White House of Donald Trump — who won the presidency after promising massive cuts to regulations.

”We’re not Venezuela,” Representative Greg Walden, an Oregon Republican and the chairman of the House Commerce Committee, said at a policy gathering in Washington. “Government taking it over, controlling it, is probably — clearly — not the way to go.”

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai, a Republican chosen by Trump, was even more blunt: “I oppose any proposal for the federal government to build and operate a nationwide 5G network”

The proposal is rooted in concerns about China and cybersecurity, according to two administration officials familiar with the plans who were granted anonymity to discuss them. Unresolved questions include the extent of taxpayer funding, and whether a fifth generation, or 5G, network would be owned by the government, one of the officials said.

If the federal government directly participates in building a wireless network intended for commercial use, it would be a departure from the decades-long tradition of auctioning licenses to telecommunications companies to build their own networks. Phone service has been on a deregulatory path for decades, including legislation in 1996 that President Bill Clinton said “promotes competition as the key to opening new markets and new opportunities.”

Very observant of Representative Walden, but so many (and varied) plans are afoot and this is where they play the V card? So frightened are we of the massive, self-created Beowulf of ‘government-run _____’ that we are willing to abide any and all inferior services because THE MARKET! One might say it is cunning to introduce the security threat into this discussion until you remember who’s in charge and that you have every reason to be suspect even of unscheduled emptying of waste baskets. But the rending of garments about how great our competitive monopolies are at doing everything and the temerity to threaten them with a network built and own by Guhvuhmint is indeed tender and endearing.

Engineering Catastrophe

I don’t know – you pick whether it’s a noun or verb. The effects are horrible either way:

Tar-MatMillions of gallons of oil flooded the Gulf of Mexico every day — for 87 days. The biggest accidental oil spill ever. Five years later the effects of the Deepwater Horizon blowout still endure

A new study confirms a massive undersea oil mat near the unlucky oil well — Macondo 252 — that blew on April 20th, 2010. Considering this tar mat is the size of Rhode Island, the Gulf is clearly still feeling the af

fects of the catastrophe five years on. Gulf sea turtles stranding more frequently, dolphins killed, observed oil slicks hundreds of kilometers in length after the well was “capped” — a depressing list of unknown length.

Will it ever be possible to safely drill oil wells 35,000 feet into the seafloor through 4,000 feet of water from a unanchored floating 32,000 ton oil rig? You’ve got to hand it to the oil companies, the engineering is ambitious. But given the demonstrated risks to our greater resources, will it ever make sense?

Rhode Island. A tar mat the size of Rhode Island. Should there be drilling of more wells, as described above? Is further evidence needed? If you were attempt, for whatever reasons, to remain unemotional about this and look only at the evidence and reach a decision – including evidence of how you arrived at work this morning – what would the decision be? Asking for a friend.

What Goes On ( and on)

The BP settlement reminds me of one of my favorite found lines:

The companies admitted no wrongdoing.

It doesn’t appear to be part of this deal:

BP Plc will pay a $4 billion penalty and plead guilty to felony misconduct in the Deepwater Horizon disaster that caused the worst offshore oil spill in the country’s history, the company said on Thursday.

The company will also pay $525 million to settle securities claims with U.S. regulators. In aggregate BP said it will pay $4.5 billion over six years for the various resolutions.

BP’s penalties for the April, 2010, explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico in which 11 workers died, and subsequent leak from the Macondo oil well, will far exceed the previous record for largest criminal penalty in U.S. history.

As Atrios said, it’s the largest criminal penalty in the history of the U.S., but it’s not the death penalty.

What’s the Question?


Oh, yes: Why are BP’s profits down?

Analysts at banks including UBS, Bank of America and JPMorgan Cazenove now predict BP could unlock as much as $100 billion for investors, either by splitting its upstream exploration and production division from its refining and marketing arm, or selling off its entire US business.

BP’s shares are still trading 28% lower than they were at the time of the Macondo spill in April, despite oil prices soaring to $127 a barrel this year. Shell is up 13% over the same period.

A breakup? Is the writing on the wall that difficult to parse? Investors – I resent that term – may indeed only feel the company has only lost its way. But they are fooling themselves in their larger capacity as citizens grappling with how an oil giant deals with the future of transportation. What happens at those board meetings anyway? Do they really sit and listen to climate change deniers spout off? Really? Electric cars as the connection from the past to what’s next continue to dog the energy dinosaurs [sorry]. It’s powering those which is where the money is and will be, until people can figure how to live closer to work. What happened to Beyond Petroleum? Was it only an excellent marketing strategy?

Cranking Up The Wurlitzer

Does a noise machine run on renewable energy?

Chairman Henry A. Waxman and Subcommittee Chairman Bart Stupak today released information from BP regarding its spending on corporate advertising and marketing following the April 20, 2010, explosion at the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig.

At the suggestion of Representative Kathy Castor, on August 16, 2010, the Chairmen sent a letter to BP requesting details on the company’s spending on corporate advertising and marketing relating to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and relief, recovery, and restoration efforts in the Gulf of Mexico.

Today the Chairmen sent a letter to Representative Castor, summarizing BP’s response and acknowledging her leadership on this issue.  According to BP, the company spent over $93 million on advertising between April 2010 and the end of July 2010—more than three times the amount the company spent on advertising during the same period in 2009.

This really can’t count toward their expenditures for repair and recovery in the Gulf… can… it? Yikes. Within the single bottom line format, that question is self-answering and probably tax-deductible. I guess there is no difference between advertising and dispersants, between messaging and (lowering the)oil booms, between, well you get the picture. Let’s just re-inforce the frame.

via TPM.

God Hates Texas

As a young Dallas Cowboys fan in the seventies, I thought maybe s/he was just indifferent. But now Governor Rick Perry has confirmed the worst.

Later in his response, Perry said he feared a “knee-jerk reaction” to the oil spill, and said the oil spill could be just another “act of God that cannot be prevented“:

“We don’t know what the event that has allowed for this massive oil to be released,” Perry said alongside several other governors on a panel Monday. “And until we know that, I hope we don’t see a knee-jerk reaction across this country that says we’re going to shut down drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, because the cost to this country will be staggering.” Perry questioned whether the spill was “just an act of God that occurred” and said that any “politically driven” decisions could put the U.S. in further economic peril. “From time to time there are going to be things that occur that are acts of God that cannot be prevented,” Perry said.

We’re still in the early-middle of the post-beginning period of trying not to understand what has happened as God corporations have assumed their rights as a supra-governmental entities. There are still many more contortions along the lines of Joe Barton to go (actually, we won’t even believe Newt’s next turn in nuanced Randianism) some of which won’t even make re-written history books. They’ve spent decades training us, after all, selecting the best people for the most important but also the most minor offices, and with all of that time and investment spent cultivating the reality of benevolent selfishism, we’re not going to just be able to turn on a dime – like a dynamically positioned drilling rig, for instance – and just blame them for something they actually did.

I mean, come on.

When the Bug Hits

The late, great Vic Chesnutt once described during a show how [chairman of Eastern Airlines] Frank Lorenzo had destroyed Vic’s dad’s life. Combined with the little of Obama’s address I’ve heard, I was reminded of Vic’s dad and how our institutional failures get neatly organized into smaller issues for which singular persons are to blame – where we are left to ask ourselves how we can fix situation X, when it was caused by something altogether different.

No, the BP oil volcano in the Gulf of Mexico is not your fault, despite what many pundits will tell you. Back in the 1960s when the environmental movement got going, major US corporations responsible for much of the nation’s pollution decided to fight it by paying for television advertising that urged individuals not to litter, thus implying that pollution is produced by anarchic individuals rather than by organized businesses. It was a crock then and it is a crock now.

You did not demand that BP consistently cut safety corners more than any other petroleum company, thus resulting in the Deepwater Horizon calamity, which could end up costing the economy of the Gulf of Mexico literally hundreds of billions of dollars this year.

How much the Gulf oil catastrophe is not your fault can more clearly be seen if we consider the ways in which a BP refinery in Indiana is threatening the Great Lakes with excess pollution.

The BP refinery received permission from the Indiana legislature to increase its ammonia and silt (infested with toxic heavy metals) output into the Lakes. The increased pollution was part of an expansion of the refinery to allow it to process Canadian tar sands. In addition, BP has illegally spewed extra benzene into the lakes (benzene is a known cause of leukemia) and has also repeatedly broken the law with regard to air pollution standards.

You did not ask BP to dump extra benzene illegally into Lake Michigan (the lakes are connected). You did not agitate in Indianapolis to permit the refinery to expand to handle tar sand, which is all by itself an ecological catastrophe. You did not demand that more ammonia and toxic metals be dumped into the lakes. None of these crimes against nature was your individual responsibility.

Rather, the Indiana legislature passed these laws because of ‘legislative capture.’ That phenomenon occurs when an industry that is supposed to be regulated by a legislature instead pays so much for political campaigns that it captures the members and proves able to write the legislation affecting its interests. Legislative capture explains almost everything that is wrong with America today, from the wars to the difficulty in expanding health care, and from inaction on climate change to the high price of prescription drugs.

Legislative capture is not your fault.

That’s the time to scratch it.

Live from Hopedale

Best op-ed in the Times this week is again by Bob Herbert.

The risks unleashed by the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig are profound — the latest to be set in motion by the scandalous, rapacious greed of the oil industry and its powerful allies and enablers in government. America is selling its soul for oil.

Uh-huh. The double-bite of the green metaphor just gets more twisted and foul.

Ask Anybody

Or everybody. Last week, BP started asking for suggestions on ways to clean up the oil in the Gulf. Innocentive, indeed.

Challenge Overview
Recently, an explosion on an offshore oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico caused both loss of life and a sizable and ongoing oil spill. We are asking Solvers worldwide to respond quickly with ideas and approaches to react to this very serious environmental threat.

This is an Emergency Situation Challenge and will be quite different than any other Challenge we have run on the InnoCentive website. No one has requested us to do this and InnoCentive is not getting paid to run this Challenge. We are doing it because we believe our Solver base can and will help and we will do everything we can to get solutions into the hands of the appropriate responders. This is an experiment and we believe our Solvers will answer this call for help. We believe trying to mitigate this international disaster is the right thing to do.

  • Your submission will identify and describe a solution that can help prevent further damage caused by the explosion and ongoing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. You are required to give InnoCentive and any emergency respondents a free, perpetual, and non-exclusive license to use any information submitted for this Challenge specifically to be used for this oil spill crisis. You will still retain ownership of any idea submitted.

Look for many new exciting Emergency Situation Challenge(tm) branded products on store shelves soon. Toothpaste. barbecue sauce, charcoal…


Captain Obvious here with a report from the bridge: A connection has been spotted between this

In an example of Republican obstructionism rendered beautiful by its simplicity, the GOP yesterday killed a House bill that would increase funding for scientific research and math and science education by forcing Democrats to vote in favor of federal employees viewing pornography.

Rep. Ralph Hall (R-TX), the ranking member of the House science committee, introduced amotion to recommit, a last-ditch effort to change a bill by sending it back to the committee with mandatory instructions.

In this case, Republicans included a provision that would bar the federal government from paying the salaries of employees who’ve been disciplined for viewing pornography at work.

and this.

Size of Oil Spill Underestimated, Scientists Say

Can we not just stop for a second and look at the long-tail of this form of stupid that seems to be on sale everywhere? Sweet baby in the manger, the short tail should even scare the crap out of us.

There is nothing to fear except but unless you can’t see the obvious.