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It’s a national emergency, so an opportunity to watch much of America get hysterical

27 May 2010

Disasters are fun, as we watch America go nuts.  Even simple disasters bring forth a chorus of columnists shouting “be stupid!”  Today’s example:  “If ‘Top Kill’ Fails, Obama Must Take Reins“, Andrew C. Revkin, blog of the New York Times, 24 May 2010 — Excerpt:

In the last few days there’s been a mix of messages from government officials about whether the Obama administration has the authority to take control of the unrelenting seabed oil gusher in the Gulf of Mexico.  But there’s no doubt, at least in the language of relevant federal law; President Obama not only has the authority, but the obligation — however politically risky that might be — to take ownership of efforts to stanch the flow.

And the time is nigh to do so, given that BP has demonstrated, through  delays in the release of information and repeated statements  downplaying the gravity of the situation, that it cannot be trusted to carry out operations with the public interest at the fore.

To my mind, if the “ top kill” procedure being prepared for midweek fails, Obama must step forward far more forcefully and publicly engage an  oil-well SWAT team drawing on the country’s leading lights in hydraulics, deep-ocean engineering and geology, from the Pentagon outward.

SWAT teams!  Pentagon experts!  Dept of Interior bureaucrats taking command and making decisions!  Streams of senior officials from D.C. demanding tours and briefings!  All together now:  w o w!   For analysis we go to the comments at Matthew Yglesias blog, ThinkProgress.

LaFollette Progressive says:

… Unless Obama’s got Aquaman on his speed-dial, there’s not a whole lot he can do about it, and there certainly isn’t anything the National Guard can do about it.

The administration’s cardinal sin was allowing this sort of deepwater drilling project to go forward without any sort of contingency plan for stopping a gusher one mile down, and with only Dick Cheney’s hookers-and-blow-for-permits resource regulators involved in oversight. Now we’re basically screwed.

Obama could make a big show of “doing something about it” with photo ops and press releases, and spend a lot of taxpayer dollars taking over control of the cleanup, but nearly all of this country’s technical expertise with offshore drilling is in the private sector so not much good would come of it. We’re pretty much stuck waiting for the Invisible Hand to clean up the mess.

{.. there is ironclad canonical evidence for Aquaman’s ability to maintain his powers in oil-choked water.  I’m pretty sure he could round up some helpful dolphins and clear this situation up in a matter of hours.  Captain Planet, on the other hand, is well suited to the equally vital task of hunting down the BP board of directors, destroying their secret evil submarine base, and feeding them one by one to a pod of hungry killer whales.}

go vols says:

… WTF would blogger X like the administration to do here? Must Obama personally sacrifice himself to stop the leak like Ed Harris in the Abyss? Seriously, if someone has an idea of what the federal government could do here that it isn’t doing, I’ll be the first one to cast stones. Otherwise, this “do something”/magical government bullshit is getting old.

Posts about the Deepwater Horizon disaster on the FM website

  1. Valuable background information about oil slicks: excerpts from Science, 2 May 2010
  2. Important background information about the oil spill (an example of real journalism), 2 May 2010
  3. Sources of reliable information about the Gulf Oil Spill, 4 May 2010
  4. We know what happened at the Deepwater Horizon rig. Here’s why it happened., 5 May 2010
  5. We’re at a key point in the Gulf Oil spill, while urban legends breed and circulate among the credulous, 7 May 2010
  6. About the invisible oil spill – and the chemicals that made it disappear, 14 May 2010
  7. About the long-term effect of giant oil spills, 17 May 2010

Afterword

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