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Quote of the day – dumb politican edition, part II

Thank you for your service.  Now hush up and go home Sen. McCain:

“Obviously that would be a serious mistake…at least until we find out as much information we have,” McCain said during an appearance on “Imus in the Morning” when asked whether the suspect, 30-year-old Faisal Shahzad, a naturalized American citizen from Pakistan.

“Don’t give this guy this Miranda rights until we find out what it’s all about,” McCain added.

Really?  Is that the way it works now?

You may not like the law, Mr. McCain but that doesn’t mean you can selectively apply it – the SCOTUS has been very clear about doing such things. 

Of course, you have to remember, this is the same guy that was so concerned about campaign financing that he sponsored a law that trashed the 1st Amendment and then claimed he’d rather have clean elections than free speech.

~McQ

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Oil spill – a perfect storm (update)

I’ve been watching this oil spill story develop over the weeks since the April 20th explosion and sinking of the BP oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico.

As an outspoken proponent of drilling for oil – both on-shore and off shore – I’ve watched happen what I had been convinced couldn’t happen.  A deep water platform, with cutting edge technology, blew up and sank.  A deep water well with the latest in blow-out prevention devices failed to function properly and stem the flow of oil from the well.  An  industry that had no contingency plan or equipment available to quickly cap such a leak.  And the result has been an environmental problem that the industry all but claimed couldn’t happen.

All that’s extremely disappointing and causes me great concern.  However, it doesn’t change the fact that oil is still critically important to our energy needs now and in the future, must be a part of any comprehensive energy strategy and must still be sought and recovered.  Period.  End of statement.

That said, the oil industry must seriously address what I’m sure most thought was unimaginable a few short weeks ago.  Obviously blow-out prevention technology isn’t fail safe.  Perhaps redundant systems are needed, or some easier method of manually addressing the failure of “automatic” systems, especially in deep water wells.  This particular well is at around 5000 ft. meaning divers couldn’t be deployed.  Robotic submersibles were unable to close the valves on the blow-out prevention device.  While that’s bad, what perhaps bothered me more was the fact that there was no industry backup plan in case such a situation presented itself.  They’re now fabricating a cap to put on the well and no one knows if that will work.

So this particular catastrophe’s continuance is on BP and the oil industry in general.  It seems they may have believed their own press a little too much and were caught flat footed when the worst case scenario unfolded.  Since BP is on the hook for paying for the clean up of this mess, not to mention losing a billion plus oil rig, I’m sure the lesson will be learned.

That brings me to the reaction by government to the growing disaster. It appears some lessons are never learned.  Slow to realize the size, scope and impact of the disaster don’t even begin to describe its reaction.  Certainly the Coast Guard has been on the problem almost from the beginning.  But, acknowledging the Katrina comparisons being made, that was the case then as well.  That doesn’t excuse the administration’s apparent lackadaisical response.  It doesn’t explain why a 1994 plan for such a disaster wasn’t implemented quickly as it was designed to be (it involves fire booms to burn off the oil – and the oil, light, sweet crude is very amenable to burning).  Had that been done, some experts believe the spill could have been contained soon after the accident.

It doesn’t explain why the EPA has taken almost 2 weeks to get involved or why the EPA’s Ocean Survey Vessel “Bold” has yet to be deployed in support of the effort when it was in Miami, FL the 19th through the 23rd of April (OSV Bold has been deployed in the past to monitor and assist in other oil spills).

The White House is now in full spin mode and the modus operandi is the usual – blame others.   Stipulated – BP is to blame for the leak.  BP should pay for the damage it caused – all of it.  BP is the cause of the problem and they acknowledge it.  Got it.

Now – what has government, which we’re told is always the answer, done to protect our shores and waters from the disaster?  Well, it is appearing that so far the effort hasn’t been particularly well run, successful or timely.

Just as interesting is how little the press is howling about it.

Bottom line, this disaster points to inadequacies on both sides of the problem.  The oil industry needs to get its act together on this problem.  And government has been no better now than it has in the past.  I hold out some hope that the industry will learn from this disaster and do what is necessary to prevent it again.  Given its history, I hold little hope that government will improve its performance.  That said, it should be clear that it is up to industry to clean up its act since government seems inadequate to the job of cleaning up any mess industry makes (government will hold hearings, of course, and spout off about needing more regulation).  What shouldn’t end up being an option though is the abandonment of off-shore drilling.

UPDATE: Nice – the usual blame targets again emerge.  Huge surprise.

~McQ

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Quote of the Day – Dumb politician edition

Why is it some politicians seem driven to speculate out loud about things of which they’re obviously ignorant?

NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg:

“If I had to guess, twenty five cents, this would be exactly that,” Bloomberg said. “Homegrown maybe a mentally deranged person or someone with a political agenda that doesn’t like the health care bill or something. It could be anything.”

As it turns out, his guess wasn’t worth two cents.  And it doesn’t appear to be “anything” – it appears to be the same old thing.

~McQ

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Closing in on the Times Square bomber? (UPDATED)

Via ABC:

Federal authorities are closing in on the man they say is a person of interest in the Times Square car bomb attempt this weekend, who is described as a naturalized American citizen who hails from Pakistan and just returned after spending five months there.

There is growing evidence the bomber did not act alone and had ties to radical elements overseas, with one senior official telling ABC News there are several individuals believed to be connected with the bombing and that at least one of them is a Pakistani-American.

Attorney General Eric Holder said today the investigators had made “substantial progress” in tracking the man who drove a Nissan Pathfinder into New York’s Times Square with a crude bomb that failed to detonate.

UPDATE:

OK, so they really were closing in on someone. According to NBC:

Authorities arrested a suspect in the attempted weekend car bombing in Times Square, NBC News’ justice correspondent Pete Williams reported early Tuesday morning.

A U.S. citizen of Pakistani descent, Shahzad Faisal, was arrested Monday night on Long Island, Williams reported.

Earlier, an official told The Associated Press that the potential suspect recently traveled to Pakistan. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the case was at a sensitive stage.

He seems like a helpful, chap, though, assisting the FBI by apparently leaving an email trail.

The officials said the man was a Connecticut resident who paid cash weeks ago for the SUV parked in Times Square on Saturday and rigged with a crude propane-and-gasoline bomb.

NBC’s Williams reported the man’s name was on an e-mail that was sent to the seller of the car last month, as well as other evidence suggesting he had a role in the attempted bombing.

And while he pulled the VIN plaque off the dashboard, he didn’t go through the trouble of removing the embossed VINs from the engine or axle.

Apparently this rocket scientist–always assuming the FBI has the right guy, and not another Richard Jewel–couldn’t have made himself easier to find if he’d dropped a yellow dye marker, and powered up a rescue strobe and homing beacon.

Interestingly, he appears to have been born and raised in Connecticut, although he is a fellow of Middle Eastern ethnicity.

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So is there a desire to pin the carbombing attempt on domestic terrorism?

That’s kind of the message I’m getting concerning the attempt Saturday to detonate a VBIED near Times Square in NYC.

Now, I’ve watched the video of the alleged suspect.  I’m having a tough time with a description of “furtive” to describe his activities.  Yes, he pulled a sweatshirt off and went with the T-shirt below, but he didn’t seem hurried, or “furtive”.  He could have been hot though.

And I don’t get this:

Mayor Bloomberg said the planned mayhem did not appear to be the work of al Qaeda or any other large terror network.

Really? Why’s that? Because the alleged perpetrator was a balding white guy? The mayor really ought to consider the term “outsourcing” and its implications.

The bomb certainly was crude. Bags of fertilizer, propane tanks, fireworks and gasoline. I know enough about fertilizer bombs to know that leaving it in the bag isn’t the way to make a bomb. However, had the propane gone off, it would have definitely had the potential to create a mass casualty situation.

Add to that the Taliban leader’s claim – in a video made before the attempt on Times Square – that he was responsible (that is to say he “commissioned” the job) and it is hard for me, at this early date to rule out “al Qaeda or any other large terror network”.

But authorities sure do seem intent on trying to do exactly that. Unless they know alot more than they’re saying, it isn’t clear to me at all that you can rule anyone or any organization out.

In fact, even more evidence turned up today suggesting that the Taliban are, in fact, involved in targeting US cities:

Two tapes were sent today to The Long War Journal by a group identifying itself as Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, or the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan. The same group sent a link earlier today to The Long War Journal to a YouTube video of Qari Hussain Mehsud claiming that the Taliban carried out the failed May 1 car bomb attack in New York City’s Times Square.

The two Hakeemullah tapes consist of a videotape of Hakeemullah flanked by two masked fighters, and an audiotape with images of Hakeemullah superimposed over a map of the US with explosions in the background. In both tapes, Hakeemullah claimed that the Taliban have infiltrated the US and that their operatives would launch attacks in American cities.

The videotape was produced on April 4, while the audiotape was produced on April 19, according to Hakeemullah.

While I think it is entirely possible that the man seen leaving the SUV on Saturday is indeed a “middle aged, balding white man”, I also think it is entirely possible that the Taliban claims of responsibility are real.

If so, watch for other attempts in other cities soon. As for the ostriches out there – pretend this isn’t a larger plot by international terrorist organizations at your own peril. Such thinking can blow up in your face fairly quickly – no pun intended.

~McQ

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Dropping two at a mile and a half

For those of you who understand and can appreciate this – two phenomenal sniper shots (from the same guy at the same target) from a British sniper in Afghanistan:

A BRITISH Army sniper has set a new sharpshooting distance record by killing two Taliban machinegunners in Afghanistan from more than 1 miles away.

Craig Harrison, a member of the Household Cavalry, killed the insurgents with consecutive shots — even though they were 3,000ft beyond the most effective range of his rifle.

“The first round hit a machinegunner in the stomach and killed him outright,” said Harrison, a Corporal of Horse. “He went straight down and didn’t move.

“The second insurgent grabbed the weapon and turned as my second shot hit him in the side. He went down, too. They were both dead.”

The shooting — which took place while Harrison’s colleagues came under attack — was at such extreme range that the 8.59mm bullets took almost three seconds to reach their target after leaving the barrel of the rifle at almost three times the speed of sound.

The distance to Harrison’s two targets was measured by a GPS system at 8,120ft, or 1.54 miles. The previous record for a sniper kill is 7,972ft, set by a Canadian soldier who shot dead an Al-Qaeda gunman in March 2002.

Now I don’t care how good a shot you think you are, that’s incredible.  As someone said, with the drop at that distance, those bullets must have almost been at a 45 degree angle.  And I can only assume “Kentucky windage” as his method since these shots are so off the charts.

~McQ

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Observations: The Qando Podcast for 02 May 10

In this podcast, Bruce, Michael, and Dale discuss the economy, Charlie Crist, and the Times Square bombing attempt. Billy Hollis checks in, too.

The direct link to the podcast can be found here.

Observations

The intro and outro music is Vena Cava by 50 Foot Wave, and is available for free download here.

As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don’t forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don’t have iTunes, you can subscribe at Podcast Alley. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here. For podcasts from 2005 to 2009, they can be accessed through the RSS Archive Feed.

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Nashville is flooded, as if you had not already heard that from a dozen sources

This is the worst flood of my lifetime here in Nashville. Several main arteries have been underwater for times varying from an hour to almost twenty-four hours. I-24 southeast of the city had the worst of it yesterday, which this video of a school’s temporary classroom floating down the interstate and imploding shows vividly:

In that video, you can also see a rather large number of cars caught up in the flood. Many were folks just driving through Nashville on the way to somewhere else, probably listening to Lady Gaga and having no idea they were about to be trapped in a flood.

This morning, the west and southwest parts got hit hardest. This video shows Charlotte Pike, which is one of main arteries going west from the city. A large section is underwater and some guys have been on a roof for a couple of hours waiting for rescue.

Last I heard, the death toll was six, but that doesn’t really communicate the large number of businesses and homes that were washed out. There are plenty of videos on YouTube showing those, plus the usual number of videos from guys in pickup trucks demonstrating their foolishness by driving through flooded areas to shoot their video. Of course, YouTube has the successful ones. We don’t get to see the ones in which “Hold my beer – watch this” was preceded by a vehicle caught up in the flood.

I’d put up some of my own pictures, but there’s no particularly photogenic flooding around my neighborhood, and the local officials have requested everyone to stay home if at all possible. The water table got high enough to flood our old coal room to about six inches deep with some artesian pressure, but the only casualty was a 25-year-old water heater I was about to replace anyway. My teenage sons and I cleared the drainholes and bailed water for a while, and it’s drained now. We even had time for a shower apiece from the old heater before the water gave out.

The rain has stopped and things will probably be back to normal soon. Some numbers: We got about twenty inches of rain in less than three days, which is normally about a six month supply for us. That’s on top of a couple of inches last week which did a nice job of saturating the ground in preparation for this deluge.

Next week’s expected outlook: widely scattered insurance claims and flood damage sales.

*** Update 6:00 PM CST ***

If you want to see plenty of pictures and some more video, including a shot of the aftermath of the I-24 flooding, Donald Sensing has a couple of good posts up (found via Instapundit):

Yesterday.

Today.

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BlogTalk Radio – Tonight 8pm (EST)

Call in number: (718) 664-9614

Yes, friends, it is a call-in show, so do call in.

Subject(s):

Economy – what do the most recent quarter’s numbers mean? And why is Larry Summers saying high unemployment may be a perpetual thing?

Charlie Crist – is he the shape of things to come in the November election?

NYC carbomb – even though it malfunctioned the fact that it is claimed by the Taliban is significant. Does it usher in a new era of terrorism?

Oil spill – I question the timing. Seriously, what does it mean in terms of politics and energy?

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