A Culture of Indifference

This is pretty damning stuff:

Halliburton knew weeks before the fatal explosion of the Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico that the cement mixture they planned to use to seal the bottom of the well was unstable but still went ahead with the job, the presidential commission investigating the accident said on Thursday.

In the first official finding of responsibility for the blowout, which killed 11 workers and led to the largest offshore oil spill in American history, the commission staff determined that Halliburton had conducted three laboratory tests that indicated that the cement mixture did not meet industry standards.

The result of at least one of those tests was given on March 8 to BP, which failed to act upon it, the panel’s lead investigator, Fred H. Bartlit Jr., said in a letter delivered to the commissioners on Thursday.

Another Halliburton cement test, carried out about a week before the blowout of the well on April 20, also found the mixture to be unstable, yet those findings were never sent to BP, Mr. Bartlit found.

IN decades, it will be interesting to look back and see how historians are treating this era, and I would not be surprised if they find that in corporate America, at least, the era was marked by a general indifference to anything other than immediate profits. It is amazing how in virtually every industry, from Enron to underwriters to ratings agencies to the banksters and on, quality control and integrity have been replaced with general indifference for the outcomes. Are those bonds really crap? Fuck it, AAA- someone else’s problem. Will they be able to afford that mortgage? Ah screw it, after I get my commission, someone else’s problem. Does this cement really work? Ehh, fuck it. Just do it and it will be someone else’s problem. it really is amazing when you see the rot across the board in every industry, and something to keep in mind for those of us with companies racing to drill the Marcellus shale for natural gas.






96 replies
  1. 1
    eric says:

    john, i hate to break it to you, but there may be no one left in decades to look back at anything.

  2. 2
    Mr Furious says:

    They’re racing to drill the shit out of the shale here in Michigan, and with the GOP poised to take more power in Lansing, the already weak oversight on drilling, pollution and water quality will be gutted further.

    Poison the water table? Fuck it! We need those jobs! All couple hundred of them…

  3. 3
    sherifffruitfly says:

    And it’ll be fascinating to see how the historians treat the (white) electorate, who merrily put the thieves back into power. All because they don’t like brown people.

  4. 4
    Mr Furious says:

    @eric:
    What’s that about the end of the world?
    I’m going to sign up for ColumbianCupid.com.

    (Don’t know what I’m talking about? Hit “refresh” a few times…)

  5. 5
    Catsy says:

    “Corporation: An ingenious device for obtaining profit without individual responsibility.”

    Ambrose Bierce will continue to be right until corporate executives face personal, individual criminal culpability for laws broken or harm done by an organization under their leadership as a direct result of their leadership.

    Not fair? You’re not the one who made the call on the ground that ruined people’s lives? Tough fucking shit. Maybe the prospect of hard time will make some of you fuckers think twice about gambling with people’s lives in order to maximize profits. Because it’s overwhelmingly clear that financial penalties are no disincentive to bad behavior–they just get factored into the cost of doing business.

    Seriously. I want to see these motherfuckers frog-marched out of their offices.

  6. 6
    General Stuck says:

    We got Halliburton, so there is no need for Death Panels

  7. 7
    kc says:

    It is amazing how in virtually every industry, from Enron to underwriters to ratings agencies to the banksters and on, quality control and integrity have been replaced with general indifference for the outcomes

    This just demonstrates the need for tort reform!

  8. 8
    Mr Furious says:

    @Catsy:

    Seriously. I want to see these motherfuckers frog-marched thrown out of their offices windows.

    There, that’ll be more fun…

  9. 9
    John O says:

    …and I would not be surprised if they find that in corporate America, at least, the era was marked by a general indifference to anything other than immediate profits.

    LOL.

    I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that if “historians” take decades to figure that out, it’s because they’re all working for giant corporations in the meantime.

  10. 10
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @kc: Exactly, it is all the fault of the trial lawyers.

  11. 11
    Moonbatting Average says:

    they just get factored into the cost of doing business

    …and pass that cost on to the consumers. Assholes.

  12. 12
    Dreggas says:

    reminds me of the days of the robber barons and the general way in which business ran before the great depression…

  13. 13

    OT but where did they get that photo of my dog Cueball for that dog treat ad on the left? I demand royalties!

    Just kidding, Cueball never sits still for that long unless a hoomin is eating something and he thinks that something might just fall off the plate.

    http://img.photobucket.com/alb.....005004.jpg

  14. 14
    Zifnab says:

    it really is amazing when you see the rot across the board in every industry, and something to keep in mind for those of us with companies racing to drill the Marcellus shale for natural gas.

    This is my single most personally-compelling argument against nuclear energy. I’m not suggesting that a well-regulated and properly administered business couldn’t run a nuke plant just fine. I’m suggesting that such a business would be purely hypothetical, but the resulting Chernobyl would not be.

    I do wonder if this is how the Soviets felt, circa 1992 or so.

  15. 15
    Michael says:

    1. Halliburton will have a decent time of a defense against BPs claims against it on the basis of the initial fail.

    2. BP will just use some Citizens United money to pay a think tank to spread the lie that Obama directly caused the explosion, therefore justifying a subsidy.

    3. Chuck Todd will give the claim legs, calling it “Obamagate” with a sneer, and will look like he just cut a nasty, greasy fart on camera.

  16. 16
    Calouste says:

    @Catsy:

    Ambrose Bierce will continue to be right until corporate executives face personal, individual criminal culpability for laws broken or harm done by an organization under their leadership as a direct result of their leadership.

    And not just fines, pokey. Even if you fine these people to bankruptcy, they have enough connections to come back so that it doesn’t really hurt them.

    And of course, we could always outsource the sentencing to China.

  17. 17
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    Somehow the old anti-communist joke from Dubcek-era Czechoslovakia about how “under capitalism man exploits man, but under communism it is the other way around” doesn’t seem so funny any more, now that the powers that be on our side of the world seem to be taking their management cues about how to run the place from the Brezhnev-era Soviet Union.

  18. 18
    Catsy says:

    @Mr Furious:

    There, that’ll be more fun…

    More emotionally satisfying, perhaps, but speaking in terms of actions that are actually constructive and within the realm of possibility: consider the deterrent effect of seeing, night after night on the news, police serving arrest warrants on some of the most egregious bad actors in the corporate world, seeing them frog-marched in handcuffs past throngs of reporters. Consider how eager the others might be to clean up their act if the consequences of their deliberate negligence in the service of profits were humiliating trials and hard time rather than a few points off of their quarterly earnings–a cost that they just pass onto the very consumers they’re fucking.

  19. 19
    MikeJ says:

    @Catsy: Ambrose Bierce was insufficiently snarky with that definition. That was pretty much the legal definition.

  20. 20
    dollared says:

    You’re totally right, John. But what makes you think historians will report honestly on this period?

    Perhaps it will be European historians, but probably not US ones. The problem with corruption is that while it is hard to fight, and hard to stop, it is much, much, much harder to eliminate once it is in place. And we let the rot occur.

    I liked Bubba, but that’s one of the two things I will never forgive him for – he is the one that allowed corporate corruption, particularly executive pay and securities fraud during the DotCom days, to run free.

    In the 1980s, if your stock price went down for whatever reason, you’d get the SEC on you and the plaintiffs securities class action bar would get to pore over your kids’ private school receipts and you’d settle and swear to be more honest the next time.

    From 1997 on, it was “fuck it – if those doctors and dentists can’t figure out that nobody’s going to buy 50 lb bags of pet food via mail order, that’s their problem.”

    And from then on, every honest investment banker and CEO was unemployed – somebody else would make bigger promises and run more imaginative scams, and replace them.

    Bad money drives out the good. But how do you get good money back?

  21. 21
    demkat620 says:

    John don’t worry. Everything will be so much better after Tuesday when the grown ups will be back in charge.

    My over/under on the number of incoming GOP reps who mention Impeachment in their Victory speeches is 9.

    This whole messy era will be over soon and the Corporations will once again be safe from the sourge of Accountability.

  22. 22
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Catsy:I don’t think it would actually take that many prosecutions to have a salutary effect. Just a few who get real, hard time prison sentences and have to cough up their wealth as proceeds of the illegal act and things would clear up quickly.

  23. 23
    Zifnab says:

    @Catsy:

    Not fair? You’re not the one who made the call on the ground that ruined people’s lives? Tough fucking shit. Maybe the prospect of hard time will make some of you fuckers think twice about gambling with people’s lives in order to maximize profits.

    I always thought it was funny how a guy in the get away car for an armed robbery could be charged with first degree murder if his associate shot someone. But a CEO can’t be touched if his entire business plan involved poisoning, lotting, or butchering a community of people.

    I’d say it’s a damn shame, but I can’t help notice all the shit going down in the Gulf just happens to be striking the borders of the states that elect all the wackiest Republicans.

  24. 24
    General Stuck says:

    I was reading the transcript of the NM 2 cong. district debate between bone head Steve Pearce, uber wingnut, and only slighty less bone head Harry Teague. Pearce was like one those emergency beacon drones on teevee movies. Deeregulation, Deeregulation etc…../ He is so openly and thoroughly paid for shill for the energy industry, it is an insult to claim he is some kind of representative of the people. His only other issue is kill the gray wolves in the Gila, cause one might eat a wingnut baby, and cause the number one predator is feeling threatened and insecure. That would be our local GOP hominids.

  25. 25
    Joseph Nobles says:

    Here’s a May 12, 2010 hearing with the chief executives of BP America, Transocean, and the Halliburton subsidiary that did the cementing. The BP and Transocean guys are stony, but the Halliburton guy is nervous as hell. The day I saw this, I said to myself that it was going to come back to the cementing in the end. Sigh.

  26. 26
    WyldPirate says:

    JC sez:

    IN decades, it will be interesting to look back and see how historians are treating this era, and I would not be surprised if they find that in corporate America, at least, the era was marked by a general indifference to anything other than immediate profits.

    And this is different from any other era of capitalism in what way?

  27. 27
    Mark S. says:

    OT Pedophile Claims One Night Stand With O’Donnell

    Seriously, did we raise a generation of snowflake twenty-something men who are terrified of pubic hair?

  28. 28
    Anonymous At Work says:

    For the determination in Texas of “He just needed killin'”, do former Texans count, or only current ones?

  29. 29
    Loneoak says:

    @WyldPirate:

    I think we can make some useful distinctions between the short term attitudes of corporations today that make their money entirely in financial tomfoolery and the previous iterations of moral callousness that at least worked the long game.

  30. 30
    chrismealy says:

    Look, if the market was there for drilling platforms that didn’t explode or banks that were competent the market would have provided them. Which is exactly why getting hung up on what the market does is such a huge fucking mistake.

  31. 31
    gene108 says:

    something to keep in mind for those of us with companies racing to drill the Marcellus shale for natural gas.

    John, how can you not be excited about the prospect of being able to light your tap water on fire? {/sarcasm}

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v.....re=related

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TEtgvwllNpg

  32. 32
    General Stuck says:

    @Mark S.:

    I could have stood not to have read that.

  33. 33
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Mark S.: That was a truly unnecessary story. The gentleman involved was clearly no gentleman.

  34. 34
    MeDrewNotYou says:

    OT, but a big thank you to John for his choice in substitute bloggers. You have great taste. ABL is a riot and I love Tom’s style. I don’t think I’m alone in thinking it would be wonderful if they could post to BJ once in a while even when you’re back full time.

  35. 35
    celticdragonchick says:

    IN decades, it will be interesting to look back and see how historians are treating this era, and I would not be surprised if they find that in corporate America, at least, the era was marked by a general indifference to anything other than immediate profits. It is amazing how in virtually every industry, from Enron to underwriters to ratings agencies to the banksters and on, quality control and integrity have been replaced with general indifference for the outcomes. Are those bonds really crap? Fuck it, AAA- someone else’s problem. Will they be able to afford that mortgage? Ah screw it, after I get my commission, someone else’s problem. Does this cement really work? Ehh, fuck it. Just do it and it will be someone else’s problem. it really is amazing when you see the rot across the board in every industry, and something to keep in mind for those of us with companies racing to drill the Marcellus shale for natural gas.

    We will be mocked as idiots.

    We will deserve it.

  36. 36
    morzer says:

    @dollared:

    Remove the bad money from circulation, and establish a new, legal, sound currency.

  37. 37
    freelancer says:

    @morzer:

    that sounds like a slippery slope to new legal sound-based derivatives

  38. 38
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @morzer: See new guest blogger Tom Levenson’s book, Newton and the Counterfeiter, for explanation and examples. Hell, read it anyway.

  39. 39
    WyldPirate says:

    @Loneoak:

    What would they be, Loneoak? That the old-school corps gave you something durable for your money while fucking up the planet and their workers, while the newkidz simply shuffle paper and commit fraud?

    Both are still pretty evil in my book….

    And yeah, i know I’m generalizing/lumping and slinging paint with too broad a brush.

  40. 40
    Politically Lost says:

    Wondering what historians will write about this era in the future shows a certain amount of optimism that escapes me at this particular moment in time. Other than waiting for a massive Gulf of Mexico fart to blow the planet out of orbit, I’m thinking that the term “future historians” will be meaningless to those that inhabit the future.

    I base this meaningless speculation on my initial reaction to this post. No one will care about history in the future because they’ll be so busy trying to survive what we’ve done to the place. Whether its through environmental degradation or whether Idiocracy actually comes to pass the future looks dim from my dank office right now.

    Pass the bong and bottle, maybe I’ll feel better with a hangover in the morning.

  41. 41
    Ash Can says:

    @Mark S.: That’s just one of those stories that has no redeeming qualities whatsoever.

  42. 42
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @freelancer: You could bundle them and call them, I don’t know, chords or something.

  43. 43
    Napoleon says:

    In line with the theme of this post, today I go to the first day of a two day continuing legal seminar focused totally on real estate and in the “recent decisions” portion of the seminar at one point they are talking about foreclosures here in Ohio, and within the last month or so, they said, a judge in a very rural portion of the state basically did this, where the law says the court in a foreclosure has to do a, b, c, d, e, f and g the court did a, b, and c, and told the bank they did not need to do d or e and they automatically got f with g being waived. Even the bank’s attorney opposed it. But it didn’t matter, the judge simply decided the bank could ignore the law.

  44. 44
    Joseph Nobles says:

    You know, human beings have always been this way, both the Halliburton crap and the Gawker asshole. The ancient Romans are damned lucky they didn’t invent a global communication network with all the joys of Facebook and Twitter. With only the odd Suetonius and Pliny writing stuff down, they maintained a measure of respectability.

  45. 45
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Joseph Nobles: Suetonius managed to get a lot of dirt into a few short pages though. Imagine what he could have done with Twitter.

  46. 46
    Martin says:

    I’m looking at this from a different angle. I’ve done okay with my investments and am looking to diversify out of one – Apple. And I can’t find any other companies I’m comfortable investing in because they all fucking suck. Apple plays the long game. They started designing the iPad 6 years ago. It turned into the iPhone 3+ years ago because the technology caught up with the smaller form factor first. But they didn’t give up on the idea and eventually everything fell into place. 6 years before they had a product they were comfortable shipping. Who does that any more? I mean, automakers take 5 years to get a vehicle from concept to in the showroom, but that’s because it takes 5 years, not because it takes 2 and they’re using the other 3 to perfect it.

    The economy goes south and rather than cut jobs, they’ve added almost 20,000 of them in the last 2 years because when everyone else is contracting, that’s the perfect time to expand.

    They’re still subject to all the same failing of corporations. I don’t bestow any ‘goodness’ on them, but from an investment standpoint, the fact that they have a long view is very, very appealing. The fact that nobody else seems to is, well, troubling to say the least. It’s not just the banks and Haliburton – it really is everyone out there aiming for the quick buck, even if it fucks them over in the longer term. The executives get their bonuses and golden parachutes and what the fuck do they care if they were only there for a year? They made enough in that year to retire, and odds are they’ll still get someone like HP stupid enough to hire them for a 2nd shot at fucking up a company. Not only does the economy get fucked, and the workers, and consumers, and the environment, but so do long-term investors, pension funds, and so on.

    Every day I more strongly believe that they need to implement a transaction tax on equities just to slow this shit down before it destroys us all.

  47. 47
    Michael says:

    @Napoleon:

    In line with the theme of this post, today I go to the first day of a two day continuing legal seminar focused totally on real estate and in the “recent decisions” portion of the seminar at one point they are talking about foreclosures here in Ohio, and within the last month or so, they said, a judge in a very rural portion of the state basically did this, where the law says the court in a foreclosure has to do a, b, c, d, e, f and g the court did a, b, and c, and told the bank they did not need to do d or e and they automatically got f with g being waived. Even the bank’s attorney opposed it. But it didn’t matter, the judge simply decided the bank could ignore the law.

    Conservative Judiciary, bitchez. See how great it was to get rid of all those libruls on the bench and replace them with conservative judges?

    Laziness and intellectual sloth are the hallmarks of conservative legal theory. Good part is that nobody gets a free house.

    Of course, if they did it the right way, nobody would get a free house either, but that would take work and thought and stuff….

  48. 48
    Comrade Luke says:

    wtf is up with this gawker thing? I’ve been googling all over and can’t find it. apparently I’m not reading the correct professional left blogs…

    Sorry, originally posted in wrong thread.

  49. 49
    HyperIon says:

    @Joseph Nobles wrote:

    You know, human beings have always been this way, both the Halliburton crap and the Gawker asshole.

    I agree. It’s just that now the assholery of these humans can greatly affect my life whereas jerks in the time of Pliny had to be Caesar to have an effect on lots of (innocent) folks. So again it’s about the complexity of the world we live in.

    We’re all connected now…to every asshole out there. This is not a good thing IMO. I don’t care how cheap the electronics are.

  50. 50
    beltane says:

    @Joseph Nobles: Judging by the liveliness of their funerary inscriptions, I’d say Roman FB pages would have been highly entertaining. Sometimes, though, when I am in a very dark mood, I wonder if Pliny, Cicero, Seneca and the rest were really just the David Broders and Tom Friedmans of their day.

  51. 51
    El Cid says:

    “This is pretty damning stuff”

    Or, non-damming stuff, as the case may be.

  52. 52
    Maody says:

    Monsanto creates many monsters, this is just one of their options for its problem – superweeds.

    Just one of my corporate pet peeve targets and ruinous beyond imagination, not to mention GMO’s. Suckitude and no lawsuit will cure the damage.

  53. 53
    Maude says:

    I want to see what they say about the mud and was there a displacement of seawater gone wrong and if so, did that lessen the pressure of the mud and allow the oil/gas to come up the well?

    They can drill bad cement and do it again. The cement is done after the mud.

  54. 54
    Robert Sneddon says:

    One of the experienced drilling hands on the Oil Drum explained oilwell cementing to us noobs several times during the ongoing discussions about capping the Macondo well blowout.

    He said there is no magic cement job that always works. The only way to be sure the well is sealed is to pump the cement, wait for it to cure and then test it by overpressuring it and seeing if it leaks. The nitrogen-loaded cement job that failed in the Macondo well had actually passed the final set of tests after failing previous tests. He explained he had worked on rigs where solid tested production cement jobs suddenly went bad for no perceptible reason and he and his team had to deal with the consequences of runaway gas and oil flows in the risers.

    Nitrogen-loaded cement mixes are used widely in the oil drilling industry today. It may be the culprit in the Macondo blowout but it’s not necessarily the single reason the rig blew up and eleven workers were killed.

  55. 55
    trollhattan says:

    BP kills people, serially, and it’s the price of doing business. Massey Energy kills people and it’s the price of doing business. China kills miners by the hundreds each year, and it’s the price of growing their economy.

    Where are the consequences, beyond the ultimate price paid by the families? Being mildly embarrassed in front of Congress (at least that part of Congress not apologizing for the effrontery)?

  56. 56
    Michael says:

    Actually, I had a thought – conservatives never build anything.

    They use them up. Whether its a finance system fixed after the Great Depression, New Deal inspired infrastructure, a workforce educated through New Deal schools and theories, conservatives chew ’em up and leave rubble in their wake.

    Why fix anything? The market will sort out the scrap heap.

  57. 57
    Comrade Luke says:

    Never mind, found it (re: Gawker)

  58. 58
    Dennis SGMM says:

    @WyldPirate:

    …That the old-school corps gave you something durable for your money while fucking up the planet and their workers, while the newkidz simply shuffle paper and commit fraud?

    You’re not giving modern corporations enough credit. Through the wonders of globalization and multinationals, a corporation can now fuck up the planet, fuck up and fuck over its workers, shuffle paper and commit fraud while providing you with goods that last about as long as it takes to get them out of the packaging.

  59. 59
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @HyperIon:

    It’s just that now the assholery of these humans can greatly affect my life whereas jerks in the time of Pliny had to be Caesar to have an effect on lots of (innocent) folks.

    Nah, the local landowner could make life rough. The wealthy merchant down the street could deny you credit. The lot of most people has typically been that the assholery of others can affect them.

  60. 60
    salacious crumb says:

    in the words of Dear Leader Dick Cheney, so?

  61. 61
    azlib says:

    It would be easy to tighten up the safety standards. Just require the members of the Board of Directors and the officers of the corporation spend at least a week a year on an offshore oil rig. I will guarantee the safety standards will dramatically improve.

  62. 62
    HyperIon says:

    @trollhattan wrore: China kills miners by the hundreds each year, and it’s the price of growing their economy.

    I think it’s more like thousands actually.
    Of course, the Chinese government isn’t necessarily keeping an accurate count.

    But it’s lots more than anywhere else, I do believe.

  63. 63
    Barb (formerly gex) says:

    I went to a non-traditional adult college program at Augsburg College in MN. So many adults just going to get business degrees.

    So what are they interested in? Math, science, biology? Health services, space exploration, food production? Any output or goal that adds to humankind?

    Nope. Just want to do bidness and make straight cash homey. Nothing else is of interest.

    Me, I went for a Computer Science degree. Came away with an actual skill, but those damn MBAs decided to outsource the work I trained for. The best part of that was every last MBA student I had in my classes was about as bright and interesting as you’d expect people who want a degree in money.

  64. 64
    Maude says:

    @Robert Sneddon:
    Thank you so much. you did a far better job of expaining it.

  65. 65
    morzer says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Umm.. I am advocating doing exactly what Newton was hired to do – and did extremely well, by all accounts. Who is this Tom Levenson of whom you speak?

  66. 66
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @morzer: I should also have addressed my comment to dollared @ 20. I was attempting to back up your point with a book citation and stuff. As far as your other question goes, he appears to be some dude with a cat.

  67. 67
    morzer says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Another goddamn ailurophile messing with our freedoms? Let me tell you, sir, the American people do not need ailurophiles telling us how to run our lives. You know who else was an ailurophile, don’t you?

  68. 68
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @morzer: Ernst Stavro Blofeld?

  69. 69
    Zuzu's Petals says:

    @Robert Sneddon:

    Good points. Always interested to see what the professionals at TOD have to say.

    I’d guess Halliburton may have some liability if they knew objectively beforehand that the cement would not hold…but then again there were those tests. Not sure if it would be Transocean, BP, or Halliburton who would be liable if tests were misread.

    BP may be liable for decision to pump seawater instead of mud (seems like a geeze, what were they thinking? decision).

    Transocean may be liable if they failed to perform or read tests correctly, and for failing to maintain BOP in working order (if that was their responsibility).

    Sure is enough blame to go around.

  70. 70
    tkogrumpy says:

    There is nothing new about the current lack of corporate ethics.What is new is that today there is no longer that core of enlightened companies to act as a counter weight to the prevailing greed and indifference. I worked for one of those companies in the sixties. they don’t exist any more, because ethics is not competitive. It also helps not to be a public company.

  71. 71
    change says:

    The dirty little secret is that the BP “disaster” wasn’t that much of a disaster at all.

    Mother Nature broke down the oil and took care of it. Fisherman are out fishing again, people are enjoying the beach and the wetlands.

    The Earth is, ironically, more resilient than environmentalists give it credit for…

  72. 72
    Bullsmith says:

    Where are the handcuffs? The point where a little justice would go a long way is passing rapidly. Soon even a lot of justice won’t make a a dent in the problem.

  73. 73
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @change: If I fully recovered from pneumonia, I was never sick?

  74. 74
    change says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Yes you were sick, but you should probably be pissed at your doctor if he misdiagnosed your pneumonia as terminal lung cancer.

  75. 75
    Triassic Sands says:

    IN decades, it will be interesting to look back and see how historians are treating this era,

    Sometimes I get the feeling that “in decades” historians will be painting the ceilings of caves with the likenesses of bison and antelope rather than ruminating on how effed-up the US was in 2010.

  76. 76
    jonas says:

    All I can say is that the law firms representing Halliburton, BP and Transocean are all nearly wetting themselves with joy at the thought of the fees that are going to be forthcoming from this little revelation. Man, is it a good time to be a lawyer in America or what?

  77. 77
    jonas says:

    @change: Oh good grief. “The Earth” will of course be fine. The species living on it, on the other hand, will have to adapt to changes, like oil spills, global warming, ecological degradation, etc. And by adapt, I mean “die off” and be replaced some organism that can survive living in petroleum or whatever other garbage we’ve left steeping in the oceans.

    Earth abides.

    Human civilization? Not so much.

  78. 78
    Midnight Marauder says:

    Better trolls, please.

    +5

  79. 79

    It’s almost as if massively increasing oil drilling, letting an oil-friendly hack like Ken Salazar head the MMS, and trusting Halliburton and BP to do the right thing were all easily foreseeable mistakes.

  80. 80
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    I’m wondering. Was Halliburton ever, in any iteration of its corporate history, a halfway decent company with even a soupçon of ethical corporate responsibility? Did Dick “dick” Cheney preside over its descent into evilhood, or was it the pre-existing evility of the company that appealed to him in the first place? Which came first, evilitude or evildoernessdom?

  81. 81
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @jonas:

    Man, is it a good time to be a lawyer in America or what?

    For a few lawyers, sure. Overall, not so much.

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  83. 83
    Annamal says:

    @Zifnab

    The interesting thing about Chernobyl is that financial incentives played just as much of a part in its failure as the communist system. As I understand it the substandard materials were the result of people wanting to collect completion bonuses…

    I’m in the same boat you are, yes nuclear power might be useful but if it’s going to taint half the country because some manager needs that little bit extra in his/her paycheck and skips a safety step then it’s a no-go.

    This is why you can’t have nice things…

  84. 84
    change says:

    @Oscar Leroy:

    From your link:

    UPDATE: COAST GUARD SAYS WHAT LOOKS LIKE OIL IS ALGAE

    Oh no! Algae! Whatever shall we do?

  85. 85
    Zuzu's Petals says:

    @jonas:

    Well except that it isn’t really a traditional tort environment, because under the drilling contract, BP must hold harmless and indemnify Transocean and Halliburton, even in the case of gross negligence:

    EXCEPT TO THE EXTENT ANY SUCH OBLIGATION IS SPECIFICALLY LIMITED TO CERTAIN CAUSES ELSEWHERE IN THIS CONTRACT, THE PARTIES INTEND AND AGREE THAT THE PHRASE “SHALL PROTECT, RELEASE, DEFEND, INDEMNIFY AND HOLD HARMLESS” MEANS THAT THE INDEMNIFYING PARTY SHALL PROTECT, RELEASE, DEFEND, INDEMNIFY, AND HOLD HARMLESS THE INDEMNIFIED PARTY OR PARTIES FROM AND AGAINST ANY AND ALL CLAIMS, DEMANDS, CAUSES OF ACTION, DAMAGES, COSTS, EXPENSES (INCLUDING REASONABLE ATTORNEYS FEES), JUDGMENTS AND AWARDS OF ANY KIND OR CHARACTER, WITHOUT LIMIT AND WITHOUT REGARD TO THE CAUSE OR CAUSES THEREOF, INCLUDING PREEXISTING CONDITIONS, WHETHER SUCH CONDITIONS BE PATENT OR LATENT, THE UNSEAWORTHINESS OF ANY VESSEL OR VESSELS (INCLUDING THE DRILLING UNIT), BREACH OF REPRESENTATION OR WARRANTY, EXPRESSED OR IMPLIED, BREACH OF CONTRACT, STRICT LIABILITY, TORT, OR THE NEGLIGENCE OF ANY PERSON OR PERSONS, INCLUDING THAT OF THE INDEMNIFIED PARTY, WHETHER SUCH NEGLIGENCE BE SOLE, JOINT OR CONCURRENT, ACTIVE, PASSIVE OR GROSS OR ANY OTHER THEORY OF LEGAL LIABILITY AND WITHOUT REGARD TO WHETHER THE CLAIM AGAINST THE INDEMNITEE IS THE RESULT OF AN INDEMNIFICATION AGREEMENT WITH A THIRD PARTY.

    So it’ll be interesting to see what BP argues.

  86. 86

    hahahaha. naive john:

    “IN decades, it will be interesting to look back…”

    you really think we’re gonna be here in decades? lol.

  87. 87

    @change:

    Oh, that’s good. I guess all the dead animals will come back to life, and the fishermen and tourism workers who were ruined will be saved now.

  88. 88
    change says:

    @Oscar Leroy:

    They’re having a record fishing season in the Gulf.

  89. 89
    Turgid Jacobian says:

    I’d it even possible to contract a contract that cannot be breached? Seems logically impossible somehow.

  90. 90
    trollhattan says:

    @change:

    Not to get all sciency here, but a major fraction of the discharged oil remains, subsurface. Anybody who “thinks” it’s all gone and that there will be no further impacts is eligible for the Nobel Prize in Dipshittery.

  91. 91
    Felonious Wench says:

    “For the determination in Texas of “He just needed killin’”, do former Texans count, or only current ones?”

    For the “Needed Killing” determination, the subject of said killing need only have stepped one foot in the state during their lifetime. Or to have consumed Tex Mex food outside of the Homeland, which means most Americans are fair game during asshole hunting season.

    We’re taking requests now.

  92. 92
    goatchowder says:

    In decades? How about hundreds of years?

    Best case: this era is viewed like the late 1800’s and early 1900’s– the Robber Baron era of corruption and sleaze and theft on a massive scale.

    Worst case: Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. The Chinese and Indians and Germans read about our extinct country and culture in their textbooks for a few weeks in 10th grade. End of story.

  93. 93
    R-Jud says:

    @Barb (formerly gex):

    So what are they interested in? Math, science, biology? Health services, space exploration, food production? Any output or goal that adds to humankind? Nope. Just want to do bidness and make straight cash homey. Nothing else is of interest.

    Yep. Business degrees are the single most popular bachelor degree program, and the second-most popular master’s (after education). Our universities have become mostly job-training facilities. They should really be about conducting research and performing cultural preservation, IMO.

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    Zach says:

    BP’s stock is flat the last two days, so judging by the infinite wisdom of the market, this news doesn’t much impact the liability picture. I guess it could impact criminal negligence or something if it ever comes to that.

  95. 95
    crack says:

    Corporations are one of the worst creations ever. They are either amoral (completely lacking morals) or subject only to the morals of the market (if you consider capitalism a moral structure).

    In the US the most powerful people, in a legal sense, are corporations. That is the most powerful people are amoral or only moral in the sense that they do whatever can get them the most money.

  96. 96
    Matthew says:

    So the theory is that this is a bug and not a feature? Capitalism in the main involves putting out the shoddiest product you can get away with. The ideal capitalist transaction is also the ideal con. There are lots of mitigating factors, but they all go away when the dollar amounts get big enough.

    Incidentally, the modern Republican party exists mainly to obscure this — to conflate the idea of capitalism and morality and turn what is at best a necessary evil into a transcendental good.

    As for an appropriate punishment, I realize this is a bit hyperbolic but I like decimation.

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