Jumping to Conclusions – Again (Shirley Sherrod, BP, and the Lockerbie Bomber)

July 26, 2010

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Last week The Crunchy Conservative had an article about Shirley Sherrod (the woman at the USDA who was dismissed after a tape of her speech before the NAACP was released.  This tape apparently exposed her as a racist (anti-white as she is African-American) and using her position within the government to penalize a white farmer.  The NAACP and the White House condemned her, but have since apologized for not knowing the whole story.  I commented on that article that we (average people not in the US government) will probably never know the whole story.  I have listed to the entire tape (at least what is reported as the entire tape) and I still find very little to be sympathetic to her about.  Having been a former civil servant, I am appalled that what her customer looked like had any bearing on her fulfilling her duties.  (I must admit that I completely agree with responding to verbal attacks with reduced service).  Civil servants are basically the store clerks of the government.  Most have no authority and have to put up with a lot of abuse.

So, should she have been fired?  I have no idea.  But now we have a new flash news story, where the instant media is demanding action.  Apparently, the British head of British Petroleum (BP, the guys with the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico) is alleged to have been part of the negotiations to release the Lockerbie bomber.  For this, the press is demanding that he be fired.  I find this as bizarre as the firing of a USDA official.  If he was involved in the discussion, why not a public outcry when it happened?  Why wait until now when some in the government and many in the media want to punish BP for the oil rig accident?  (Editor’s note – Peter Rabbit wrote an article condemning the release last year – but indeed, the BP connection was not mentioned).

So what do we, as average people, know?  First we know that Tony Hayward is the CEO of BP and was in BP upper management at the time the Lockerbie bomber was released.  Second, we know (?) that BP was given drilling privileges off the cost of Libya after the release.  Third we know that BP officials (maybe Hayward) testified before the Scottish parliament for the release.  From this, he needs to be fired.  And the firing need to happen right now, with no trial or questions asked.

I truly fear that our society has no attention span, and no ability to discern logical cause and effect.  We are an instant gratification society.  We want the fastest internet -getting the news storey up first is more important than getting it right – and even the fastest food.  We complain about being fat, so we need instant weight reduction (no long term commitment or high effort), and we still eat fast food.  Perhaps we are just spoiled.  We expect and get fresh food all year long, we get 120 stations and TiVO so that we can watch anything we want instead of waiting for a show we want to watch.

In the end, let’s go back to the source of this rant.  Should these people be fired?  I don’t know.  Is it any of our business?  I say emphatically, NO!

Obama’s Inaction On the BP Oil Spill

June 17, 2010

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1 Comment

For someone who likes to speak as much as he does, one would think that a tragedy such as this could define his Presidency and he would jump at the opportunity. However, it took 58 days for Obama to meet with BP. It took 9 days after the incident for Obama to say a word. He didn’t give a hoot until his poll ratings started to suffer and the people in the Gulf started asking questions. And without his teleprompter, he’s been heard saying he is going “kick someone’s ass” and “make BP pay”. Obama please, you’re no Tony Soprano.

I recall when Katrina hit; there was outcry that “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.”

Well, how about this. Barack Obama doesn’t care about white fisherman. The BP CEO just needs to stop talking to the media all together. His “little people” comment was quite unnecessary. And they wonder why our ancestors left their country.

People were outraged that Bush didn’t do enough. I’m pretty sure if he could have talked to the CEO of hurricanes, it wouldn’t have taken him 58 days to do it. Even James Carville has had enough…and he’s a Democratic strategist!

We are witnessing the demise of both the gulf coast and Obama’s presidency. What this crisis demands, what this country needs is LEADERSHIP. The time for action was last month—or two months ago.

Obama is just as qualified to stop this oil gusher as he is to be president of the United States. The job of President of the United States really shouldn’t have been left to someone who needed “on the job training”.

November cannot come soon enough. And I think a bumper sticker I saw last week was accurately correct. It read “Obama = Carter 2.0”. Maybe we can hope for a one termer come 2012.

Weekend Wrap

June 13, 2010

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A quick note to the readers – you may begin seeing less content on the weekends.  Health-related issues and other life priorities have caused several writers to be unable to write on a regular basis.  The end result is that I have been writing up to 5 articles per week.  This can be a bit of a drain, and it is probably not viable long term, considering other projects underway and competing life priorities.  In the future, the weekend articles will be a bit less rigorous.  Most weekends are going to have a weekly recap on one of the days – a series of short blurbs about the news of the week.  The other day will feature a question of the week.  I’ll ask a question, give my answer, and solicit responses from readers.  On occasion, I’ll run a fiction story in place of one of these articles.  It might sound a bit counter-intuitive, but many times I can write a fiction piece faster than a non-fiction article of comparable length.

So, without further ado, comments on the news of the week:

Joran van der Sloot, the prime suspect in the disappearance and presumed murder of US teenager Natalee Holloway in Aruba in 2005, confessed to the beating death of 21 year old Stephany Flores in Peru.  Flores’ body was found in a hotel room in Peru with indications that she had been beaten to death.  If police had been able to find more evidence to tie him to Holloway’s appearance, Flores would still be alive today.  After van der Sloot’s arrest, it was revealed that the FBI had been investigating him for an plot to extort money from Natalee Holloway’s mother.  Van der Sloot claimed to have information about the location of Natalee’s body.  My hope is that the Peruvian justice system will mete out a swift and severe punishment.

I recently stumbled across an email from March of 2009 suggesting that Ford might be a good stock to buy.  The gist of my argument was that Ford’s domestic competitors were in dire straits, and that Ford would be able to swoop in and steal market share, especially from folks who are adamant about buying American.  On the day the email was sent, Ford stock closed at $2.76 per share.  At the close of the day on Wednesday, the share price was at $11.28 – more than 4 times the March 2009 level.  It’s pretty rare that I give stock tips (particularly since I’m a big fan of diversified portfolios), but I’m a bit disappointed that I didn’t take my own advice.

Another stock that might be a good buy right now?  BP.  In the last couple of months, the share price has been sliced in half.  Yes, the cleanup will be costly and the lawsuits will be numerous.  However, bear in mind that this is a company with $100 in equity (not assets, but actual equity).  Even after shelling out a hefty amount of money related to the cleanup, BP should emerge on solid financial footing.  Even a post-tax cost of $30 billion (containment, cleanup, and compensation to affected parties) would leave them with net assets of $70 billion – and most independent projection are pegging the cost at less than half this amount.  The stock currently has a PE ratio of 6 – and they pay substantial dividends.  Of course, this ignores all ethical and environmental concerns – obviously, you may choose to ignore BP stock for this reason.  I’m not defending BP – I’m just suggesting that from a pure financial sense, the investment might make sense.  Note: I am not a financial advisor.  This tip is provided for entertainment value only.  Invest at your own risk – I am not liable to losses that may result from investments in BP stock.

Stephen Strasburg lived up to the hype on Tuesday night, striking out fourteen batters and allowing just four hits against the Pittsburgh Pirates.  Strasburg and two relievers combined to strike out 17 Pirates.  On the flip side, Pirates pitchers recorded just a single strikeout in the game.  Strasburg faces off againt the Indians at noon today.

Ubaldo Jimenez struggled a bit with command of his pitches during rainy weather on Friday night, allowing 5 hits, 5 walks, and 3 runs through 6 innings.  It was good enough to allow Jimenez to notch his 12th win of the season.  Jimenez typically pitches into the 7th inning, but this game was called because of rain after six innings.  Ubaldo is 12-1 through his first 13 starts, with a 1.16 ERA.

Iowa State’s Lisa Koll (the best athlete you’ve never heard of?) won the 10,000 meters and 5,000 meters at the NCAA track meet.  Koll became the fifth fourth woman to ever achieve this historic double.  She conserved her energy in the 10K on Wednesday night, and it paid off in the 5K, as she ran away from the field – winning by 30 seconds (an enormous margin) in the 11th fastest time by a collegiate woman.  Koll will be signing with a shoe company soon, and will be setting her sights on the 2012 Olympics.