WSJ: Drilling Process Attracts Scrutiny in Rig Explosion

Gerald Herbert / The Associated Press

Russel Gold & Ben Casselman of The Wall Street Journal:

An oil-drilling procedure called cementing is coming under scrutiny as a possible cause of the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico that has led to one of the biggest oil spills in U.S. history, drilling experts said Thursday.

The process is supposed to prevent oil and natural gas from escaping by filling gaps between the outside of the well pipe and the inside of the hole bored into the ocean floor. Cement, pumped down the well from the drilling rig, is also used to plug wells after they have been abandoned or when drilling has finished but production hasn’t begun.

In the case of the Deepwater Horizon, workers had finished pumping cement to fill the space between the pipe and the sides of the hole and had begun temporarily plugging the well with cement; it isn’t known whether they had completed the plugging process before the blast.

Regulators have previously identified problems in the cementing process as a leading cause of well blowouts, in which oil and natural gas surge out of a well with explosive force. When cement develops cracks or doesn’t set properly, oil and gas can escape, ultimately flowing out of control. The gas is highly combustible and prone to ignite, as it appears to have done aboard the Deepwater Horizon, which was leased by BP PLC, the British oil giant.

Concerns about the cementing process—and about whether rigs have enough safeguards to prevent blowouts—raise questions about whether the industry can safely drill in deep water and whether regulators are up to the task of monitoring them.

The scrutiny on cementing will focus attention on Halliburton Co., the oilfield-services firm that was handling the cementing process on the rig, which burned and sank last week. The disaster, which killed 11, has left a gusher of oil streaming into the Gulf from a mile under the surface.

Federal officials declined to comment on their investigation, and Halliburton didn’t respond to questions from The Wall Street Journal.

There are serious questions to be asked of Halliburton Co. and their unwillingness to talk to a source as reputable as the Wall Street Journal begs the question if indeed they do hold some serious level of responsibility in this recent oil drilling disaster.

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Policies Over Personalities in Partisan Politics

 
 

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Image: SustainAbility.com

 

Al Gore –

“Republicans are the best sellers of the worst products.”

Gore is right about the Republicans, but moreover he made this simple point without the venom we so often see in political right-wing critiques.

Conservative-Republican policy is an awful product, not fit for public consumption.

But they understand how to hard-sell better than they understand how to make good solution-oriented policy and I have long since believed that most Liberal-Democrats have almost none of the much needed ability to sell effective solutions and positive social change in a cogent manner to the public at-large.

I would like to be very clear about this: I am not advocating that the left-wing simply mimic the right-wing. I am advocating shameless theft of their selling-tactics on a both political and news-media levels.

It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.

Negative political ads and partisan attacks are highly effective.

The key element being here is that any liberal or Democrat doing this must stick to the record and focus on the policies over the personalities. The use of public-misinformation should never be looked kindly upon but wherein the source of your reasoning and the portion that is purely opinion being clearly declared as such there is plenty of room.

Rep. Alan Grayson has provided exactly the kind of example this argument requires.

He confined himself to the policy issue at hand and presented his evidence for believing this.

Make no mistake, I am advocating for partisanship.

But if there is such a beast as “ethical partisanship” then this is what I would promote. Full-disclosure partisanship. (What makes you believe that, where did you hear / see this happening?)

Focus on the facts with the Neoconservative-Tea-Baggers. Focus on the facts with the Pro-Cheney Corporatists. Focus on the facts with the Fox News Loyalists.

To some degree there are elements of labeling that cannot be avoided in politics; the wagging of fingers a near must in some cases and nothing less than shameful to stand silent amidst bigoted sentiments toward minorities or faiths disguised as political commentary. It is possible, however, to attempt to stick to the point in the process rather than degenerating into vileness. Which is a far cry from the totalitarian-ideology of the neoconservatives.

We should all strive to make ourselves and our opinions known, but strive to keep our criticisms based on policy and provable facts as opposed to personalities and wild theories.

Repost: Loyal Opposition No More

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For many years I have felt that for all our disagreements between liberal and conservative individuals in the U.S., there was a shared position by both sides.
A loyal opposition to the opposition, if you will.
For the time being, as since the election of Democratic President Barack Obama, I believe the majority of the conservatives of America have thrown down this national system of civil loyalty in politics in place of a pure obstructionist agenda.
The Party of “No!” is not conservative, nor liberal, it is pure nihilism in place of understanding.
I have not heard any amount of logical rebuttal to an Obama Policy or policy proposal, except in very rare cases.
I find I cannot listen to the standard bearers of GOP right-wing radio these days. Like most people I have my “hang-ups.”
Dismissive attitudes, a complete lack of humility and screaming people down end up on my list.
Every time I have been listening to conservative talk radio, or GOP responses, since the election of Barack Obama I am disgusted by the complete lack of integrity and grace in politics. Every word a smear, every point a spin.
Reducing everything down to simply “look at who is doing the name-calling” is not the issue. Though it is important thing to avoid name-calling as much as possible.
Not sticking to the facts about our democratic representatives and our recent national historical facts is unpatriotic.
I wish it were not so, and no group can claim to innocent of some form of vitriol in these times. But if something I say amounts to “name-calling” then I’m afraid it must be so. But understand I don’t say such things in a state of glee as we see from others screaming rational people down.
I find it offensive that in a matter of weeks all our politics have reduced to childishness and fear-mongering about the government.
Instead of having an actual political dialogue they insist on presenting “vague-facts” along with connect-the-dots logic, which is simply dirty pool politics.

Should Cheney Be Investigated?

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“I agree with the president. We should move forward.”

— Sen. John McCain – Meet The Press – July 13th 2009

I disagree with both Senator McCain and President Obama in regards to complete investigations into any violations of US Law during the previous administration.

In a country of laws and values there must be consequences for violating those standards set forth by this nation. If we will not so much as investigate any illegalities that may, or may not, have been committed by former Vice-President Richard Cheney while in office then we as a nation stand for nothing but protecting the powerful at the cost to the whole.

It is clear to me that Republicans want to avoid the pursuit of justice. If there was no illegal actions done, then I would think Cheney and those who support him would enjoy having their day in court to exonerate the claims that violations of the law took place. The investigations would serve as a chance to rebuff the claim that all their actions were within the bounds of the law during their terms.

The fact that these individuals are so vehemently opposed to any investigations seems to denote that they in fact may believe that something might arise from said investigations.

I believe, in justice for all. There is no position in our society that is beyond reproach of the law. If the Bush White House, or any person in the government services, broke the standards of law they should be punished for this violation.

To state otherwise, is to stand against justice.

Exception to Torture

18 US Code 2340 — Exception to Torture

“Torture means an act of a person acting under color of law to inflict severe physical and mental pain other than pain and suffering to lawful sanctions upon another person under lawful physical custody or control.”

This statute combined with the Justice Department memos seeking to define ‘enhanced interrogation’ as legal sanction are the method by which the Bush administration violated the US Constitution through the approval of cruel and unusual punishment on military detainees as part of lawful sanctions.

Many who use the word ‘torture’ on both sides of the argument fail to recognize this statute in it’s existence. I do not. Those who committed acts of torture as defined by US Legal Code should face prosecution for their acts no matter if they belong to an agency of US origin or not. The Nuremberg Defense is invalid. If your commanding officer orders you to commit torture you are bound by law to resign rather than accept the orders.

The US Supreme Court has rejected the argument that holding military detainees indefinitely is constitutional, stating that habeas corpus (the right to speedy trial) must be granted to terrorism suspects.

The United States Constitution applies as to persons and not exclusively to citizens nor exclusively within our borders. Wherever America goes, the Constitution follows.

Ours was the nation that defined specifically waterboarding as torture to be banned by the Geneva Convention, we proposed that their were to be no exceptions under the law for this method of interrogation to be lawful sanction. This nation once stood against the tactics of the communists who oppress freedom of opinion with fear and propaganda. When politically expedient such a review of history is rejected for the failed logic of ’enhanced interrogation’ being successful and vital to national security. All available credible information on the matter says otherwise and the FBI has warned of a ’blow-back factor’ from using such tactics from the beginning.

Not only do tactics like waterboarding endanger national security but they degrade our ability to conduct ourselves as a credible nation to other nations whom engage in human rights violations and nuclear proliferation. We have no weight in our stance while we allow illegalities to go unpunished within our own government and our own military.

Now somehow in these dark days we have a portion of the country who believe in using the very tactics of the communists that we rallied against so many years ago in a new battle where following this ideology will undoubtedly lead to yet another terrorist attack on the homeland and further the goals of global terrorism abroad. I contend if we listen to the perspective of former Vice-President Richard Cheney on the matter that we will provoke the national security situation to an irreparable state.

 

Panetta versus Cheney

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CIA Director Leon Panetta is quoted as saying in regards to the recent Cheney media appearances:

“It’s almost, a little bit, gallows politics. When you read behind it, it’s almost as if he’s wishing this country would be attacked again, in order to make his point. I think that’s dangerous politics.”

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Former Vice-President Dick Cheney has responded by saying he hopes Panetta was misquoted in claiming his wish for an attack.

Panetta is absolutely right. The shameful, hawkish media-tour to promote torture policy and degrade the Obama presidency should be met with even more harsh words than these of Panetta’s. But they will do for the time being.

Judge Andrew Napolitano & Alan Colmes