Thursday, June 10, 2010

Oil, politics and incompetence.

As a general rule, I try to avoid subjects about which I know little or nothing. While I'm pretty good at looking like an idiot, it's seldom voluntary.

So I probably should avoid saying anything about the oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

But it's frighteningly clear that Barack Obama doesn't know a damn thing about the situation either. Neither does his pet Coast Guard admiral who is "in charge." Same goes for Congress and the trained seals of the news media. Neither, apparently, does British Petroleum.

It's not hard to understand the basics: BP and its contractors managed, through gross incompetence, to foul the Gulf. The flow of crude continues from the broken well after nearly two months.

And what is the government's response? It stages media events, the President goes out for photo opportunities, meets with incompetent bureaucrats and yammers about "kicking ass," and Admiral Allen comes on TV daily to sputter about speeding up BP's payments to people affected by the sea of oil.

Excuse me. There are only two vital issues here: the first is to stop the damn flow of oil. The second, is to use any and all means to clean up the oil already spreading from Louisiana to Florida.

It's that simple.

Granted, drilling for oil more than a mile below the surface of the ocean presents enormous difficulties. It may be more problematic than "rocket science." If a company chooses to do so, they had bloody well better have emergency techniques developed and ready for use.

BP didn't. They created a gooey, stinking Frankenstein's Monster, and they should be doing more to fix the damage. They must pay for the mess they've made, a mess they should not have been allowed to make in the first place.

But the response from our President, a man who, in my view, has proven himself a grossly incompetent leader, totally unqualified for his job, has so far been disgustingly political and completely unacceptable. He is wasting time -- and our money -- on hollow posturing.

We don't need babble about "developing new energy sources," face-saving "investigations" into possible illegal activities on BP's part, Justice Department meddling into BP's business operations and endless meetings that don't provide either actions or solutions.

If we had a real President, he or she would have gotten on the horn to BP executives 50 days ago, and would have sent them the following message: stop the oil flow from the well, and clean up the mess. Now. Said executive would have mobilized all governmental resources instantly, would have accepted all offers of assistance from private individuals and countries that have dealt with similar, if smaller, crises in the past, and would have suspended or streamlined government regulations that slow emergency actions.

Instead, the Chief Executive has thrown hundreds (if not thousands) of desk-bound, politically motivated bodies at the crisis and has made endless, repetitive speeches. Action? He seems not to understand the word.

The time for palaver and political calculations ended when the oil platform exploded.

Numerous methods for both capping the well and soaking up the oil have been put forth over the past 50 days. Wasting time letting government officials and members of Congress discuss them (in front of TV cameras, naturally) is pointless; those that don't increase the possibility of worse damage -- and that includes almost all I've seen -- should have been put into action immediately. Most strike me, a non-expert, as sensible. Even if they don't work as well as their proponents suggest, any improvement would be better than the current disaster.

Once the flow is stopped and the oil is sopped up, the recriminations can begin. At that point, Obama can point fingers, assign blame to everyone but himself and make excuses for his inability to lead to his heart's content. BP can makes excuses and its CEO can tell us how sorry he is. The company's cash can and should be distributed to those demonstrably hurt by the mess.

All those things are important. But they pale in comparison to the immediate issue, which is that oil is flowing, uncontrolled, from the ocean floor. It must be stopped, by any means necessary.

BP and our current government have failed miserably. Until people who put reality ahead of politics, action ahead of image, and humanity ahead of personal advantage are put in charge, we can be sure the BP disaster is only the beginning.

Those responsible should lose their jobs. That includes those in charge at BP and the company contracted to run the platform and the government officials who have mishandled the situation. Sadly, the President bears sufficient responsibility to merit dismissal as well. Gross incompetence is intolerable in a situation where lives and the environment are at stake.

After the damn oil flow is stopped and the mess is cleaned up.


Dorrie said...

as far as I know, they HAVE been tryiyng to do just what you said they should be doing, but the orignal expanse of the problem wasn't recognised until it was almost too late. BP has promised to pay... we must just make sure they do!

That was the same problem with Katrina, which had vor-warning (and Obama or the Democrats were NOT incharge) and the Iceland volcanic eruption. The ramifications ended up worse then expected. You can't ALWAYS blame the politicians! I'm sure the Republicans wouldn't have done any better if they had been in power.

No, I'm not a big Obama fan, and yes he has been pretty weak about things he promised to do, but do you really think ANY of the other want-to-be-in-power people would have done any better? I don't!

And it must be investigated, WHY the darn thing blew up to begin with in order avoid it happening to one of the other rigs!

Fin said...

Dysfunctionality in (in)action.

John0 Juanderlust said...

Apparently regulators rubber stamped various aspects of this well without actually enforcing existing procedures and such. BP was a good contributor to the campaign.

I think even Bush would have responded better. The Katrina situation is not analogous, and much of the problem there falls on the governor of LA and mayor of new Orleans. Bush's power grab was over terror. He overstepped in many ways, but baby steps compared to this gang. Wrong is wrong.

This is treated as political opportunity and a power grab, as is everything in this admin.
It matters not if other politicians would also have been criminally negligent and self serving. Wrong and deceitful is just that, regardless of the suit it wears. Comparing bad to worse does not justify either.