Sunday, May 23, 2010

The President v. the Fulminators

All that keen live video of the oil gushing out has given cable bloviators more time to fill than they have knowledge on the Gulf oil gusher. I caught one segment on CNN in which they interviewed just about anybody who said they had an idea on how to stop the spill. Maybe some idea will turn out good, but this is a lot like journalism as barroom bullshit.

President Obama appointed a bipartisan commission to investigate how such spills can be prevented and if not stopped, then dealt with better. As Climate Progress pointed out, this is already more than Bush was willing to do for the monumental failures of Katrina response. But while people are understandably upset at what's going on, and want somebody to solve it--somebody like our official daddy, the President--it's a bit irresponsible (though hardly unusual) for some cablemouths to be fulminating about presidential lassitude without finding out the facts of the matter.

Chris Matthews has been very vocal about it--I want Harry Truman! he shouts. Send in the Seabees, send aircraft carriers and submarines, plug up the damn oil! What he learned from an expert, though, was chastening--and appropriately scary. He found that the President and the federal government are doing all it is possible for them to do--partly because after decades of privatization, tax cuts to the rich and starving the government of resources--the only institutions with the technology to deal with this are corporations, and other countries. For example, the U.S. literally does not have a submarine capable of functioning at those depths. Oil companies do. And so does Russia, China, Japan and France.

This of course is a classic and not unforeseeable problem of depending on corporations like Halliburton and Blackwater to run your wars, disaster relief and increasingly your country. When they're the problem, you have no solution, and no resources to apply.

Here are some excerpts from this interview in a diary by NedSparks at Kos, with links to the full interview transcript and the White House page on what the government is doing in the Gulf to deal with this unfolding tragedy.

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