12. March 2015

Expert witnesses dominate penalty phase of BP oil proceedings

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill began on April 20, 2010, and resulted in the discharge of nearly 5 million barrels of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico. Court proceedings are still underway to determine the extent to which BP and other oil companies must take financial responsibility for the damages caused by this disaster. Along with the costs of cleanup and remediation, environmental damage and losses sustained by companies dependent on fishing and tourism have been estimated at close to $4 billion. Currently, BP is facing a maximum $13.7 billion fine in addition to the damages the company has already paid out.


Penalty phase maneuvers


The Justice Department has already presented its case in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana. The proceedings are being presided over by Judge Carl J. Barbier, who has attracted some controversy due to accusations by BP attorneys that Barbier has been biased against their company in determining settlement amounts for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The penalty phase currently underway will decide the amount of the Clean Water Act fines BP must pay to the federal government. BP is arguing that its efforts to clean up the beaches and to provide remedies for wildlife affected by the spill should be taken into consideration when assessing fines associated with Deepwater Horizon.


Expert witnesses to take the stand


BP’s selection of expert witnesses serves as proof that legal proceedings do indeed make strange bedfellows. BP has retained the services of expert witnesses in the fields of marine biology, socioeconomics, naval architecture, and medicine to provide testimony regarding the ongoing effects of the disaster on local populations, economies, and wildlife along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. Through depositions and appearances, these witnesses are expected to provide testimony to counter federal allegations about the health risks and environmental damage caused by the Deepwater Horizon spill.


The importance of expert witnesses


The opinions of the expert witnesses called by BP and by the Justice Department are likely to have a significant impact on the ruling reached by Judge Barbier and the size of the fines assessed to BP and the other companies involved in the disaster. Expert witnesses are a critical resource for attorneys on both sides of the aisle and can deliver credible information in their fields of expertise for jurors to evaluate. Most expert witnesses hold advanced degrees and have impressive credentials in their chosen fields. In the BP case specifically, the testimony provided by these professionals may be the determining factor in the size of the fines imposed by the judge on behalf of the Justice Department.

The full impact of the Deepwater Horizon environmental disaster may not be fully understood for decades. For BP and the other oil companies involved in civil litigation, however, the financial impact will be determined in part by the in-person testimony and depositions provided by expert witnesses.

20. February 2015

Jeb Bush Snags Top GOP Operative

With a rumored run for president looming, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush (R) has snagged a top GOP operative as his communications chief.

Tim Miller, who currently heads America Rising PAC, is known for specializing in opposition research. He will initially serve  as senior adviser to Bush’s Right to Rise PAC.

Miller is a young operative who is very active on social media. His previous endeavors have included the McCain and Huntsman campaigns.

20. February 2015

Suspect in NAACP Bombing Claims to Have Targeted Accountant, Not Group

The suspect in a bombing that took place near the Colorado headquarters of the NAACP says he was targeting his accountant in the same area, not the civil rights group.

Left-wing activists have insisted that the group was targeted in an act of domestic terrorism and have even pointed to the incident as a right-wing counterpart to Islamic terrorism.

The Los Angeles Times, citing police records, says the suspect, Thaddeus Murphy, demonstrated no animosity towards the NAACP in interviews. Murphy admitted to the bombing but says he was threatening his accountant who was withholding information.

Murphy is believed to have placed a pipe bomb near a container of gasoline before igniting both items on January 5th. No one was injured in the attack. Murphy has a criminal history and says he believed his accountant was intentionally targeting and harming him.

Although it was never clear that the NAACP was the target of the attack, the explosion upset black leaders, several of whom speculated that the attack might have been a hate crime.

U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), an influential leader of the civil rights movement, called the attack “deeply troubling” and the Twitter hashtag #NAACPbombing trended nationwide for days after the incident.

Allen said there were at least a half-dozen people in the NAACP offices and the adjacent barbershop on the day of the attack. Simply put, Allen said, people could have been hurt, so the target of Murphy’s pipe bomb should be irrelevant to prosecutors.

“What happened was, you placed an explosive device in an attempt to do harm. Inside of that building was human beings,” Allen said. “I don’t care what your purpose was, you hated somebody.

By that definition, any murder is a hate crime. Which is true but not exactly what leftists want to hear. I’m also fascinated by the idea that the target of the bombing should be irrelevant to prosecutors. It’s a position that makes zero sense if you’re seeking hate crime charges. And it should really be relevant to any investigation, hate crime or not.

20. February 2015

BREAKING: Russia Downgraded to Junk Status by Moody’s

Russia’s sovereign debt has been downgraded to Junk status by credit ratings agency Moody’s. Outlook is negative.

In a statement announcing the downgrade, Moody’s cites the Ukraine crisis, falling oil prices, and a likely recession in 2015.

20. February 2015

Doomed: Plurality of Democrats Say Obama Should Ignore Disagreeable Court Rulings


It’s long been a comfort of American governance that regardless of our extended political disputes and knock-out-drag-out fights, court rulings would invariably be observed. We may not like the ruling, but simply ignoring it would be too dangerous a precedent to accept. If you’re willing to ignore the courts, willing to ignore the rule of law, what’s really left?

But here we are. With a plurality of Barack Obama’s own party saying he should simply ignore the courts, ignore the rule of law, if it’s disagreeable to his agenda. The omnipotence and good intentions of The One take precedent over all other considerations. And an even scarier margin is openly willing to toss the Constitution under the bus to make political governance more “efficient”.

But perhaps more unsettling to supporters of constitutional checks and balances is the finding that 43% of Democrats believe the president should have the right to ignore the courts. Only 35% of voters in President Obama’s party disagree, compared to 81% of Republicans and 67% of voters not affiliated with either major party…

[W]hile 72% of GOP voters and 63% of unaffiliateds believe it is more important to preserve our constitutional system of checks and balances than for the federal government to operate efficiently, Democrats are evenly divided…

What’s really scary is that, as Allahpundit notes, Obama’s own defense of his executive overreach isn’t much more sophisticated. Executive amnesty? Waiving elements of federal health care reform law? Justifiable because, hey, Republicans are mounting opposition. Scream “gridlock” and “obstructionism” and BAM! legal justification for unprecedented unilateral executive actions.

20. February 2015

Emails: DNC Chair Offered to Change Position on Marijuana to Silence Critic

Florida journalist Marc Caputo has uncovered emails from DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, in which the top Democrat offers to change her position on medical marijuana in order to silence a critic.

Wasserman Schultz opposed a state initiative that would have legalized medical marijuana. With her eyes on Senator Marco Rubio’s (R-FL) seat in 2016, the Congresswoman sought to neutralize the issue.

Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s office offered to change her position on medical marijuana if a major Florida donor recanted his withering criticism of her, according to emails obtained by POLITICO.

The proposal to Orlando trial lawyer John Morgan was straightforward: retract critical statements he made to a reporter in return for Wasserman Schultz publicly backing his cannabis initiative that she had trashed just months earlier. Morgan declined the offer with a sharp email reply sent to a go-between, who described the congresswoman as being in a “tizzy.”

“No,” Morgan responded. “She is a bully. I beat bullies up for a living.”

Morgan isn’t just a lawyer. He’s an activist donor. He’s also the guy who hired Charlie Crist after the Republican-turned-Independent-turned-Democrat saw his political career go up in smoke. He carries both financial and political influence.

If Wasserman Schultz really is seeking Rubio’s Senate seat next year, she’ll need the support of top Florida Democratic donors — the very people angry with her over his position on marijuana. Hence the emails to Morgan.

How did Politico get the emails? Her gambit backfired. Morgan himself forwarded the emails to the media. She’s lucky he didn’t do more. Her actions border on criminal. At the very least, it was an incredibly stupid and short-sighted moved.

20. February 2015

Oops! ObamaCare Website Sends Out 800,000 Bad Tax Forms

Hey, remember how we were assured that early bumps in the road aside everything is now functioning great with the ObamaCare enrollment process? You silly conservatives judged too quickly! Don’t you look like…fools.


The Obama administration says it sent about 800,000 HealthCare.gov customers the wrong tax information, and officials are asking those consumers to delay filing their 2014 taxes. …

The errors mean that nearly 1 million people may have to wait longer to get their tax refunds this year.

Reportedly, 50,000 of those affected have already filed their taxes. So that should be fun, and costly, for them. Ultimately, one-fifth of all tax forms sent out by the government were false.

Meanwhile, to avoid another trainwreck, the Obama Administration has unilaterally decided to extend the enrollment period. Because deadlines are only as solid as the temporary political needs of the Obama Administration.

ObamaCare’s enrollment process is still broken, it’s already screwing with people’s taxes, deadlines are still being shifted like lines in sand, and Obama’s still claiming success because people are signing up in compliance with federal law. And it’s only February.

19. February 2015

Obama Refuses to Support Egypt’s Attacks on ISIS

Strange behavior for a president who now spends his time accusing Republicans of supporting Islamic terrorists by noting they’re, um, Islamic.

Once again rhetoric is more important than actual results.

The Obama administration was given multiple chances Wednesday to endorse a longtime ally’s airstrikes on America’s biggest enemy at the moment, the so-called Islamic State. Over and over again, Obama’s aides declined to back Egypt’s military operation against ISIS. It’s another sign of the growing strain between the United States and Egypt, once one of its closest friends in the Middle East.

This shouldn’t be a complete surprise; Cairo, after all, didn’t tell Washington about its strikes on the ISIS hotbed of Derna, Libya. Still, Wednesday’s disconnect was jarring. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest passed on a reporter’s question about an endorsement of Egypt’s growing campaign against ISIS. So did State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki.

“We are neither condemning nor condoning” the Egyptian strikes, is all one U.S. official would tell The Daily Beast.

Really? We’re neither condemning nor condoning a longtime ally’s offensive against brutal, murderous terrorists who behead and burn alive their prisoners? We’re maintaining an ambiguous position? What, we don’t want to be too clear as to whose side we’re on here?

19. February 2015

Former Democratic Governor, Eyeing Senate Seat, Suddenly Quits Anti-Gun Group

Former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland, a Democrat, has been eyeing a 2016 run for the US Senate seat currently occupied by Senator Rob Portman, a Republican. When it recently came to light that Strickland was president of an anti-gun lobbying group, the wannabe-Senator suddenly quit.

Last week, amidst news that former Governor Ted Strickland (D) is considering a run for U.S. Senate against Senator Rob Portman (R), Buckeye Firearms Association published my article informing voters of Strickland’s involvement over the past year as President of the Center for American Progress Action Fund, an anti-gun rights lobbying group in Washington D.C.

After providing many examples of CAP’s anti-gun activities, I concluded that former Governor Ted Strickland, despite the good he did for gun owners when he lived in Ohio, has completely and totally lost his way in Washington D.C.

The article drew quick attention. Less than two hours after the article was published, the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) sent the article to its “Rapid Response” email list. From there, news of the article was quickly picked up by media – first by the Cleveland Plain Dealer and then from the Associated Press.

The Cincinnati Enquirer is now reporting that Strickland suddenly quit his position at CAP last week, even as he continues to “test the waters” for a U.S. Senate campaign with an initial fundraising pitch to donors.

Ohio is a state strongly supportive of gun rights, and Strickland once had a record that reflected strong support for the Second Amendment. Unfortunately, as soon as he no longer had to regularly answer to voters, the former governor began pushing an anti-gun agenda. Ohio voters should keep that in mind when Strickland asks them to send him to Washington in 2016. Do they want an anti-gun activist representing them in the United States Senate? Let’s hope not.

19. February 2015

Woefully Incompetent State Department Spokeswoman to Become Woefully Incompetent White House Spokeswoman

The latest entry in the continuing saga of the least competent members of the Obama Administration receiving the best promotions.

The State Department arguably suffers the most public relations disasters and has to issue the most, um, “clarifications” of any cabinet agency at present. Solution? Let’s promote the State Department’s communications genius to lead the communications team over at the Oval Office. Brilliant. What could go wrong.

She replaces veteran Democratic media strategist Jennifer Palmieri, who is leaving the White House to join Hillary Rodham Clinton’s likely presidential campaign. She will step into her new role April 1.

Psaki will be returning to the White House where she helped craft Obama’s message during the president’s first term. She has been part of Obama’s team since 2007, when she was traveling press secretary during his first presidential campaign.

The move allows Obama to replace a senior aide with a familiar face who is already steeped in issues confronting the White House.

Psaki’s taken her talents from mindless shilling for Obama during his 2007 campaign to mindlessly shilling for Obama at the State Department to mindlessly shilling for Obama in the Oval Office. Big question: Will she mindlessly shill for Candidate Hillary? Or is she now devoted to The One?