Sunday, May 2, 2010

Once again, federal government slow to act in the gulf

When George Bush tripped and fell all over himself in the wake of Hurricane Katrina he was pilloried in the press and public opinion. The federal government was slow to act.

Now, many days after an oil leak, President Obama finally made a trip to region and made a lame statement that they had been on this since "day one."

Not exactly, even his Homeland Security head admitted they had been slow to act. Many experts said a quicker response would have made the spill containable before it moved all over the gulf. The New York Times covers both sides of the issue.

One would think after all the bad experiences that the government would be quicker to respond. Not so much.

Once again, those folks who were all over President Bush for his slow response are defending President Obama for being asleep at the switch. And vice versa. It would be so refreshing if the two extremes in this country would be honest and even-handed, just one time.


Anonymous said...

So you want more government involvement?

That would mean, perhaps, more regulations on off-shore drilling.

This is not similar to Katrina, an event that was forecasted days in advance.

This is the failure of private machinery, abetted by lax regulations on off shore drilling.

What's Obama supposed to do? Put on his Superman outfit, fly 50 miles off shore, then swim nearly a mile down to the bottom of the ocean?

The fact is nobody knows how to solve the problem. Not BP, which operated the rig and broken well. Not the oil drilling industry.

And certainly not the government.

Years of devolution of government regulations regarding the environment have given us this.

"Drill Baby Drill."

Can you hear it?

This is what you get.

Every man-made system fails.

Jim of L-Town said...

There were things that could and should have been done immediately. The Coast Guard was not ramped up and the government did not quickly get out there and determine what BP was doing and what more could be done.

Please read the NY Times article. It's all in there.

And just to be clear, I'm not blaming either President for what were huge tasks.

My point is that the left couldn't wait to blame Bush for a response that was as much a local failure as it was the federal government.

Now they defend a President who spent a night at a Correspondent's dinner laughing it up, probably getting in a game of golf before heading down and making the obligatory, if unnecessary appearance in the Gulf.

Let's wait and find out what happened before we assume that (1) it wasn't sabotage and (2) who is to blame.

I just think it's funny how the left and the right switch roles depending on who is in the White House.

Jim of L-Town said...

I think it was President Obama who recently authorized more off-shore drilling. Of course, now he's changed his mind.

And wasn't Gitmo supposed to be closed by now?

I detest ideologues who only see things through the prism of their politics.

My guy does it, OK. You guy does it, Not OK.

Sorry, just don't like it.

Anonymous said...

Supposed to be out of Iraq in 10 months too. I guess that was just a campaign promise, though. Don't see many (any?) war protesters now.

Anonymous said...

Yes it was Obama who authorized more off-shore drilling. Now that's on hold, thankfully.

But that move was a sop to the GOP, though look what it got him. Nothing.

What could the Coast Guard do? Its not an oil recovery agency. If the experts at BP and the oil industry have no idea, I'm not sure how the Coast Guard, which is not equipped for this, can help.

Even accepting your argument that government could have done more, does that then put an end to this conservative push for less government?

How would less government have responded?

How would the Palin-ites and Tea Party crowd's political theories regarding government helped?

Again, this was not a disaster that was predicted days in advance.

This was not a failure of a government agency, tasked with responding to natural disasters, being filled with incompetent people being unable to respond.

Nobody knows what to do here.

The problem was inherent in off-shore drilling, and the government was culpable when it approved off-shore systems that are risky, and prone to fail in ways that nobody knows how to clean up. But hey, the GOP believes there should be less regulation, because private industry is infallible.

Again, what would you want Obama to do? Can he dive under the water to plug the hole?

Bush's failure was monumental, and it started with the appointment of his friends and buddies to positions of importance.

But, Bush thought government was a joke, so he put jokers in its top jobs.

Jim of L-Town said...

Dear Anonymous, if you read the NY Times article you will note that there are chemicals that can be dropped on oil to break it up. The government should have been engaged from the moment of the collapse to make sure all that could be done, was being done. That did not happen. I find it humorous that you now question what could Obama do "Dive down, etc." Those who support Bush might say the same thing. "What could Bush do, miraculous stop a Category 5 Earthquake and inspire a mayor and governor to actually make decisions to use school buses to evacuate people days before the hurricane hit.

Again, it cuts both ways. But for those on the left and right it only cuts one way. For you it only cuts to the left.

Obama's Homeland Security chief is a joke. She commented immediately after the failed bombing last Christmas "that everything worked as it should." Really. And no this, asleep at the switch. She is as incompetent as Michael Brown and deserves the same fate.

I'm not a Tea partier so I can't answer you question.

I don't think too many people argue there's not a role in government for protecting our country, I think the argument is that they don't have a right to run our lives and manage everything about it.

That's my thinking anyway.

Government should protect our borders, makes sure we are safe and yes, regulate business practices that threaten our way of life. Oil drilling would be included in that.

Telling me what I have to buy, not so much.

inky said...

This is why offshore drilling is a bad idea.

Jim of L-Town said...

Guess we'll just all have to put away our cars and bicycle everywhere. Hope you are doing that now since that's how you feel, Inky.

Got to have oil. Alaska, maybe?

inky said...

Jim, I usually respect your journalistic chops. But just as offshore drilling is a lazy solution to a complex energy problem, your proposition that we somehow must choose between using automobiles and plundering the environment is intellectually lazy as well.

There is no single solution to the lingering problem that global oil demand is outpacing oil production. No one relishes the notion of telling the Venezuelans or Saudis where to stick it than I do, but the fact of the matter is that much of the known, easy-to-reach oil reserves are outside this country.

Risking ruinous activity in our oceans or Alaska for what amounts to be a few years' worth of oil is shortsighted and stupid.

We need alternative fuels such as cellulosic ethanol, natural gas, clean diesel, electricity and probably technology we haven't invented yet to give us energy security.

Oh, and yes, conservation. It's not just for sissies and the French anymore.

Much has been written about all of these strategies. And since you're quoting the New York Times these days, I'll quote the late William Safire:

You Could Look it Up.

Remember how offshore drilling was supposed to solve all our problems and get us away from $4 gas? Well, the oil company that caused this disaster will fund the cleanup with money gouged from you and me at the pump. It's happening already.

Then there are the 11 husbands, fathers, sons and brothers whose lives were lost, the damage to the Gulf fishing industry, the massive wildlife kill and the environmental havoc.

We owe it to our kids and grandkids to figure this out with real technology solutions, not sloganeering borrowed from the Rush Limbaugh school of forensics.

Jim of L-Town said...

Dear Inky:

When Al Gore starts flying commercial and rides to his events in a Prius and not a large SUV, I'll start getting serious about conservation. Al Gore is the biggest phony on the issue of climate change and alternative energy.

I am not saying we shouldn't be searching for alternative sources of energy, we should.

But it is naive to believe that we will not need oil, and lots of it, for the next 100 years.

No one wants oil spills and no one defends the mess this makes. But a very short time after the Exxon Valdez, nature did a pretty good job - with help from Exxon - of cleaning up the mess there. I know, I've visited. You would not know there had been an accident there.

A lot of people don't know but there is naturally occurring ocean oil leaks that soil our beaches every day. I know, as a youngster in California I stepped in the stuff. Should we sue Mother Nature because she is allowing large amounts of oil to naturally seep from the ocean floor?

The point of my post was to illustrate the hypocrisy of those on the left and the right in how they approach criticism of a President they like, and one they don't. It's laughable.

Inky, be honest, if President Bush had waited 12 days, attended a laugh riot dinner before he attended to a major environmental crisis, do you think you would be so forgiving? We both know the answer to that.

Here's the NY Times (no enemy of Obama and no friend of Bush) on the whole affair.

Mr. Anonymous should take note too. I can only imagine the tone of this editorial if a Republican were at the helm.

Jim of L-Town said...


By the way, My 2009 Chevrolet Tahoe is a Flex Fuel vehicle and I alternate between the Ethanol and gasoline, so I'm way ahead of Gore already.

Jim of L-Town said...

Oh, and one more thing, I believe the cleanest (pollution wise) alternative energy source would be nuclear, but the left doesn't want us to use that either.

Then when you try to put up windmills on Martha's Vineyard to capture the clean power of the wind, the Kennedys complain that it wrecks their elitist views on the Cape.

So what will it be, alternative energy for the masses and for the elite, not so much.

inky said...

So ... because Al Gore may be a jet-setting hypocrite, the rest of us have license to waste resources?

I have to stop at Target on the way home today. I know that every day at Target stores across this country, people will walk out of the store with items they did not pay for. I, however, will pay for my purchases. Why? Because it is the right thing to do, not to mention that shoplifting is a violation of the law.

I do not base my moral compass on the actions of others, and I didn't think you did, either.

Bravo to you for owning a FlexFuel vehicle. Feel free to bask in your superiority over Al Gore -- just don't break your arm while patting yourself on the back. The really inconvenient truth is that today's corn-based ethanol is a not-so-subtle way for car companies to dodge fuel economy rules and is basically a subsidy for the corn states (that pesky socialism thing again). Cellulosic ethanol represents a true alternative because it does not use food as its feedstock, and uses less water in the process.

Hey, I know, you could drive your FlexFuel SUV down to the Gulf coast to tell the fishermen that in a few years, they'll be able to go back to work. I am sure that will make them feel much better.

I'll have to read up on "naturally occuring" ocean leaks. Until then, my initial reaction is that makes it all the more unnecessary to drill in our oceans. We can't control cattle flatulence, either, but that doesn't mean we should send manmade pollutants into the air that can otherwise be controlled.

I do support responsible nuclear energy -- the key word being responsible. There are still lingering issues about oversight and where to store the waste. Because I believe it's hypocritical to ask that waste be stored in somebody else's back yard vs. mine, I'd need assurances that it can be done safely. And I'd need those assurances from a third party based on science, not some power company toadie.

Despite your dig at the Kennedys(What? no Mary Jo Kopechne reference?) wind energy use is growing fast. It's not for everybody everywhere, but it can be part of a bigger energy solution.

Anonymous said...

Hey Jim and Inky -- get a room! You're boring us.

Susan said...

I'm not sure if Ethanol is going to catch on for our vehicle fuel, but the fact that is uses corn certainly has effected the price of grain. The horse feed we used to pay about $8.95 for is now over $15.00, partially due to the Ethanol. I'd like to see us utilize some of what we have in N. & S. Dakota too.

Jim of L-Town said...

Inky, here's a start for you on the naturally occurring oil seepage. Like I said I those of us who lived and grew up in California were used to stepping in it and using strong chemicals to remove it from our feet.

Kevin McKague said...

This is a very interesting discussion. I'd comment, but I pretty much agree with anonymous #1.

Also, I think its odd that so many people think that a former Vice-President of the United States is going to drive in anything other than a large, bullet-proof SUV, and occasionally use a private jet. Would you have a V.P. fly commercial, or take Amtrak?

inky said...

Anonymous 14:14 -- If a vigorous discussion about energy and the environment bores you, I'm sure you can catch a rerun of "Gilligan's Island" on cable.

Jim of L-Town said...

Actually Kevin, I think once you are no longer President you should travel like the rest of us. Apparently the elder Bush drove himself to the hospital to see his wife(with security, of course).

We are not an imperial nation, we can provide protection, but certainly a former President or Vice-President can fly commercial (I'll give them first class) and I'm sure Mr. Gore could have a Prius outfitted with bullet-proof glass.

But if you are going to be the symbol of conservation, you should also live it. Otherwise, don't expect me too.

Even though I try to conserve where I can.

But thanks for chiming in Kevin, you always add to a lively debate.

Anonymous said...

Jim says:

"But if you are going to be the symbol of conservation, you should also live it. Otherwise, don't expect me too."

That's just an excuse for leading a wasteful life.

If you really felt something was right, you wouldn't wait for somebody else to do it first.

Just admit that you don't care about the environment, stop all of this nonsense, and be honest with us.

Anonymous said...

off-shore drilling are where the biggest oil deposits lay...something about how the pressure of all the ocean water pressing against the ocean floor.

We have a motherlode of oil in colorado, wyoming and alaska and could produce enough oil to make gasoline as cheap as 75 cents a gallon. The left decries Big Oil, but Big Environment strikes me as not so much being concerned with the environment as they are political power.

Obama's lack of understanding of energy would be a hysterical laugh if he weren't president of the United States.

Jim of L-Town said...

Mr/Ms. Anonymous: First, I have consistently said I think it is wise to conserve and to protect the environment.

But what I want is honest science, not phony made up climate numbers (the annual average temps have dropped over the past 15 years - not gone up).

The idea that oil can be replaced as our major source of energy any time soon is a pipe dream. Before we dismantle our way of life based on pseudo science and theories I want real evidence.

I recycle, I drive a Flex Fuel vehicle, but I'm not selling out to phony or unproven theories.

If you want to accuse me of not caring about the environment, please use your real name and show the courage of your convictions.

Otherwise your opinions are worth the status of your known identity. Anonymous.

Sue and Don said...

"Oh, and one more thing, I believe the cleanest (pollution wise) alternative energy source would be nuclear, but the left doesn't want us to use that either.

Then when you try to put up windmills on Martha's Vineyard to capture the clean power of the wind, the Kennedys complain that it wrecks their elitist views on the Cape."

Hi Jim, I'm catching up on your posts and found this whole dialog a great read. Two comments about the above two grafs:

There's a new book out, "Whole Earth Discipline," written by one of the pioneer tree-huggers, who now says nuclear is, in fact, the greenest because of the small amount of waste — compared with other (coal, landfill incinerators, etc.) negative side effects on the environment.

As for the Cape Wind project, my brother lives in Newport, RI and works in Falmouth, MA, and knows the project very well. It wasn't the view that concerned the Kennedy family as much as the deal the company was going to get, charging 28 cents per kilowatt versus 5 cents for coal-powered electricity. That and concentration of turbine, salt water requiring extensive upkeep on towers, plus such tax breaks because it's "offshore." And American Indian tribe cited the area being "sacred tribal burial" waters — although I have a sneaky suspicion that would be moot with the signature on a check.

Anyway, between costs, oversight and NIMBY factors, little is going to change in the next decade, me thinks.

Anonymous said...

Jim said:

"But what I want is honest science, not phony made up climate numbers (the annual average temps have dropped over the past 15 years - not gone up)."

What's your source?

You're just plain wrong.

Here's a graph of global temperature anomalies, courtesy of NOAA, which is NOT a lefty, tree-hugging bunch of hippies.

It's easy to see which way the trend is going.

Here's an excerpt of NOAA's FAQs on climate, regarding average global temperatures:

"Lastly, seven of the eight warmest years on record have occurred since 2001 and the 10 warmest years have all occurred since 1995."

(By the way, I found these in 30 seconds on the Internet. Wish some of our leaders would do the same.)

Please, do not believe the politicians. (Or FOX News).

Scientists know the earth is warming. They know human activity is responsible.

The only real debate among climate scientists right now is: Can our lifestyles change -- not to prevent global warming, it's too late for that -- but to adapt to it?

For some reason, talk of climate change threatens people. I really don't know why.

What I find more frightening is the fact that we are running a giant experiment with our planet. There's no magic technology on the way to solve our problems.

Jim of L-Town said...

Dear Anonymous: I actually don't believe much of anything or anyone on the global climate information. Here's an article out of the BBC that caught my eye:

The fact is, and there are few facts and lots of theories in the global climate debate, is that no one really knows for sure what is happening or why.

Heck, Egypt used to be lush green gardens 5,000 years ago and before there was ever an industrial revolution the temperatures warmed, the rain stopped and the deserts took over. Man caused, I don't think so.

In an earth 4 billion years old, one that has gone through tremendous weather cycles, no responsible scientist could argue, one way of the other, the direction of future temperatures based on a 100-year study of climate, which is not even a blink of an eye in the long history of earth.

Everyone, me included, is just guessing.

Jim of L-Town said...

Polar ice caps on Mars shrink? Man caused there?

Anonymous said...


As a reporter, I think you should practice some of your institutional skepticism and do a little digging.

The BBC story you referred to, by Paul Hudson, is complete crap. He is a "weather presenter" for the BBC.

By the way, here's what Hudson said in 2007.

"Our climate's changing - and it's changing fast. Carbon emissions from transport, business and our homes are making things a lot, lot worse.

"In other word's, we're all responsible," says Paul.

Now, Hudson has turned into a denier. Why? Hmmmm. It drives clicks to his blog.

Hudson's premise in the story you provided, that temperatures declined in 11 years, is incorrect.

He picks as his starting point the warmest year. He picks as his ending point a cooler year. He had to pick an 11-year period to do that. Why 11 years? Oh, that's why.

In between, oh, never mind.

Here's the actual chart of global temperatures as recorded by real scientists. You'll notice he doesn't reference it.

You'll notice variations from year to year. But the long-term trend is easy to see.

It's like I reported on the Flint Journal's circulation by choosing a Monday, when sales are low and news is slow. And then choosing a day when the Journal reported on a major scandal that resulted in lots of newsstand sales.

Is circulation up? Yes, by that measure. But that ignores all of the little data points in between, and across years.

Secondly, the sources in Hudson's story aren't climatologists. One's a weatherman, sort of. Again, no degree in climatology. He hasn't published any of his own research, either.

That's like asking a vet if you experience heart pains. Yes, they both deal with biology, but it's not the same thing.

Hudson's story was one of the most clicked on stories on the BBC site. It's intentionally misleading, fueling exactly what a lot of people want to hear, to, basically, sell newspapers (or clicks.)

One of the challenges in reporting on the subject of climate change is that newspapers always seek out the most inflammatory positions, pro and con. Newspapers like to get "both sides." But does that really tell the truth?

What about the middle? The middle is a wide scientific consensus that man is responsible for climate change.

Anonymous said...

Re. Mars polar ice caps.

Read the story you provided:

One cap is shrinking. One is growing.

Not sure what that has to do with the discussion on climate change on Earth.

Next time the Flint Journal writes a story on the Flint mayor, it should interject a fact or two about the mayor of Moscow. What? But they're both municipal mayors. Same thing right?

I await your peer reviewed, scientific research on climate change on Earth.

Jim of L-Town said...

I'm not going to belabor this argument much longer. Theories are theories and consensus of theories are still theories.

One can not make a judgment of the earth's future - cooling or heating - based on 100 years of observations. The earth's history is simply too long for that.

If you could go back thousands of years, it could be possible to find a similar 100 year climate swing similar to the one we have just experience and it would have nothing to do with man's influence.

The end result for me is that the climate change/global warming folks have a political agenda. I'm not buying it. Especially when its lead guru does not practice what he preaches.

Call me small-minded, call me whatever (do it with your real name though) but I'm happily going to fill up my gas guzzling Chevrolet Tahoe and drag my 33-foot trailer all over the country while getting 11 miles to the gallon.

I worked all my life for the privilege of doing that and I'm not going to be deterred because some agenda driven scientists phony up some e-mails and data to confirm their flimsy findings.

I'm done. One man's crap is another man's science, it has been that way since learned men had the consensus that the world was flat.

Thanks for the debate.

Anonymous said...

Whew! I just got done watching a marathon of "Gilligan's Island" on TV Land. Did I miss anything?

Anonymous said...

Enjoy your trip.

Should you journey west, check out all of the dead forests in the Rockies.

A beetle that used to be kept in check by longer, colder winters is killing the trees. It's progress is delineated by altitude levels.

I'd provide a citation to a scientific abstract, but you'd just dismiss it as "crap."

Here's a quote:

"Although episodic mortality occurs in the absence of climate change, studies compiled here suggest that at least some of the world's forested ecosystems already may be responding to climate change and raise concern that forests may become increasingly vulnerable to higher background tree mortality rates and die-off in response to future warming and drought, even in environments that are not normally considered water-limited. This further suggests risks to ecosystem services, including the loss of sequestered forest carbon and associated atmospheric feedbacks."

And as for your reference to Al Gore. He's not a leader of anything. He's a retired politician.

Perhaps you were thinking of Bill McKibben, of

McKibben, by the way, believes we can't save the Earth for our grandchildren.

We're already in our grandchildren's shoes.

Jim of L-Town said...

One more try Mr./Ms. Anonymous (why are you afraid of using your name, I don't bite?)

There is climate change, there has always been climate change cycles, I am not doubting that there is climate change. What you and others do not have solid evidence, because 100 years is a wink in the history of the earth, is that MAN is causing it.

So, if warmer winters (and you'd have a hard time proving that one to anyone living in Michigan the past couple years) is letting some beatle survive, blame Mother Nature.

For me, I think it is all part of the grand plan and man is simply too insignificant a creature to mess up the grand plan.

An Iceland volcano has created more havoc in a couple months that man has in our lifetime. Unless of course you are blaming man for that too.

Anonymous said...

Graph 1, regarding being anonymous: We live a blog world, Jim, and I'm following your rules.

If you can site anonymous people to write about the goings-on in the Booth newspapers, I can comment anonymously.

Graph 2: I could beat the horse once again, but every time I cite scientific studies that you don't like you dismiss them as crap. That's not an argument.

Graphs 3 and 4: Here is the real crux of the debate. Your belief in God's plan for us. But let's examine that belief. Isn't it really a defense of consumption based on self interest?

If you really felt there was a grand plan, you wouldn't visit a doctor and take advantage of the very science that you're so dismissive of.

In its most fullest expression, some people express a defense of self-interest motivated consumption by saying, the world is wicked, I am saved because I am born again, therefore the real life is the next life.

Although I am Jewish and enjoy the rituals and connection to a community, and enjoy the comfort of believing that there is a greater spiritual being, I also have to live in the real world.

Is man insignificant? In some ways yes, but in others no. We have rid the Earth of certain species. We have altered the coastline. We have rendered unusable vast stretches of water. We can permanently affect the landscape. There are billions of us.

Graph 5: speculation and a straw man.

Jim of L-Town said...

Dear Anonymous:

The reason I question your anonymity is the subject we are talking about does not threaten your well being at work. Folks who post here from Booth face punishment or dismissal for posting with their real names. You're arguing about climate change, not nearly the same thing.

Please stop reading past what I have said. I have consistently said that conservation is a good thing. Developing alternative energy is a good thing. I believe in recycyling, motherhood and apple pie.

What I don't believe in is that man is changing the climate to any significant or dangerous degree. God endowed us with reason and skill, he meant for us to use his creation to its fullest. He also wants us to be good stewards.

All of those things I believe. None of that convinces me that we are not supposed to burn fossil fuels, even while we search for new energy sources.

The power of nature (witness volcanos, tornados and tsunamis) far surpass our ability to destroy anything.

When there is a few thousand years of scientific evidence then people will be able to make judgements about the effects of man on nature.

Until then, conserve, yes, but I'm not believing that man is in control of anything.

Pardon his language but the following George Carlin (not hardly a conservative voice) you tube explains my point of view on the environment. He speaks for me, except for the foul language.

Jim of L-Town said...

Here's the link ,sorry: