Following Up and Following Down: May 2015

The month of May is in the rear view mirror, so WC will make his usual half-hearted effort to follow up on earlier stories, nod at stories that weren’t covered and – let’s be honest here – sneer at some of the stories the Big Media have chosen to follow.

Taking the last first, there’s the seriously misnamed “reality television” show, “Nineteen and Counting,” starring the Duggar clan. The oldest Duggar boy admitted to serial sexual abuse of other children and siblings. Presidential wannabee Mike Huckabee says it was just a youthful peccadillo. Actually, Governor Huckabee, it’s a serious felony. WC wishes a psychologist would research and publish the link between the kind of exhibitionism that makes someone sign up for “reality TV” and the kind of perverted, grifting, criminal behavior that seems to turn up when these hypocrites get their fifteen minutes of fame. And before you ask, WC has never, ever watched a “reality TV” show.

The Black Rhino is a critically endangered species, with a world population of only about 5,000 animals. Well, there’s one less. The Dallas Safari Club auctioned a Black Rhino hunt to raise money for conservation efforts. The Dallas Safari Club said it hoped to raise between $225,000 and $1 million. Some zillionaire’s kid spent a couple hundred thousand whacking an endangered species so he could have a trophy mount in his house. We’re going to save the Black Rhino by killing the Black Rhino. George Orwell would understand.

DuPont killed four of its employees back in November 2014 when highly toxic methyl mercaptan gas escaped. The fumes were so bad that local firefighters had to abandon a search and rescue attempt because their respirators were insufficient to protect them. The La Porte, Texas plant had a long history of safety violations. OSHA imposed a fine of $99,000, or about 0.00003% of DuPont’s $34.7 billion 2014 revenues. That’ll learn ’em. WC assumes DuPont paid the wrist slap fine out of petty cash. So long as it’s cheaper to pay the fines than to fix the safety violations, big business will follow the economics and another 4,500 workers will die each year.

Speaking of negligent multinational corporations, the National Transportation Board finally issued its report on the grounding of the Kulluk at the end of 2012. No surprises:

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the grounding of the mobile offshore drilling unit Kulluk was Shell’s inadequate assessment of the risk for its planned tow of the Kulluk, resulting in implementation of a tow plan insufficient to mitigate that risk.

The NTSB notes that Norway and Canada, both of whom have considerable experience working in subarctic waters, the countries actively oversee towing operations, instead of reacting after disaster strikes like the U.S. Coast Guard. Think the U.S. will impose similar requirements on Shell in the newest Keystone Kops Kaper? Nah.

Former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R, Illinois) has been indicted for currency violations and lying to the FBI. The indictment very strongly implies extortion out of a prior “relationship” between former high school teacher Hastert and a student. With a $3.5 million price tag for silence, whatever the misconduct was it had to have been serious. But he’s a Republican, he’s a politician and he’s from Illinois. QED.

The remaining partner at the Pebble Limited Partnership continues to litigate. On Tuesday Northern Dynasty argued that the EPA was biased because it listened to comments from everyone, not just Pebble. While losing an earlier appeal in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.1 Northern Dynasty’s investors must really, really like paying gobs of money to lawyers.

The majority caucus of the Alaska Legislature has a very strange understanding of “compromise.” To our friends in Juneau Anchorage, it doesn’t involve dialog with the other folks. Just a take-it-or-leave-it ultimatum to the minority whose votes they need. Let’s do a thought experiment: what would happen if the minority caucus announced a “compromise” that was exactly what the minority wanted and that the majority caucus could take it or leave it, what do you think would happen? Do you think Rep. Mike Chenault’s head would explode?

Finally, a blog called Jezebel recently called Wickersham’s Conscience “a popular local political blog.” WC hotly denies both charges.

  1. In an unpublished, memorandum decision, no less. The 9th Circuit’s way of telling Pebble to stop bring stupid appeals.