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May 28, 2010

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"Katrina was an example of the type of disaster that the federal government is specifically tasked with handling."

It is difficult to get passed the first sentence. All emergency response is local, and then state, and then federal. There are, in general, no plans for FEMA response faster than three days, at that it is a given it sucked at all those levels anyway.

But, however bad the response to Katrina, after months of essentially no effective response on BP, this is just positioning. The comparison is useless, of course, they are both colossal failures.

The comparison is useless, of course, they are both colossal failures.

Of?

"Of?"

Appropriate government response. Seemed to be what the long winded prattle defending the current administration was about, or should we go back and compare the response to the SF eartquake, or the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald?

The people saying it is Obama's Katrina are equally missing the point, it is Obama's failure, standalone, no comparison needed.

FEMA -- Nashville -- Great Job.

Regarding the Gulf -- lots of blame to go around -- Fed heads are rolling -- BP personnel are still intact.

I'd like to know why we didn't get better estimates of the amount oil coming from the wellhead and I'd like to know how the U.S. Coast Guard became captured by the oil industry.

But then I wanted to know how the entire U.S. military was captured by the oil industry in Iraq, too.

How's that clean-up going?

Regarding the Joe McGinnus junk shot and top kill aimed at the out-of-control blow-hole and rhetorical slick from Death Palin, Inc, it's too early to tell.

But at least McGinnus is on site now 24-hours a day and in its face.

We may still have to nuke.

It's obvious that the latter is a catastrophe we'll be cleaning up for decades.

Appropriate government response.

And the appropriate response in Obama's case with respect to the leak itself would have been...?

should we go back and compare the response to the SF eartquake

1989 or 1906?

"Moving in right next door is a bit much..."
Do you:
Disagree with the report that the property owner approached him with an attractive offer,
Feel that he was morally bound to refuse the offer,
Or???

First thing President Obama should have done was send Special Forces in to rescue the surviving oil rig workers at gunpoint who were kidnapped and held incommunicado by Transocean attorneys, at the request of Transocean management and for the benefit of Transocean shareholders.

Second thing he should have done was swallow the remaining saltwater, the plumes of oil, and dispersant in the Gulf of Mexico, and like Poseidon rising, spit it all over the State of Texas, the scum from both political parties who have been bought off, and so that the American people who elected the scum don't miss out, the entire interstate highway system, causing a slippery 2 million car pile-up -- sort of Jack Kerouac meets There Will Be Blood.

Third thing he should have done was stood on the beaches of Louisiana, held hands in a bi-partisan way with Boddy Jindal, and the two of them could have jumped and down and commanded the oil to "Stop" coming ashore. Whichever level of government the oil obeyed would be awarded complete oversight of offshore drilling, cocaine distribution, and illicit sex among consenting adults.

No, first thing he should have done was called BP the day before the rig explosion and let them know it was going to happen.

But, however bad the response to Katrina, after months of essentially no effective response on BP, this is just positioning.

Months?

First, I agree with Marty. Katrina was Katrina, the Gulf oil spill is the Gulf oil spill. Other than geography, there's not much that they have in common, and there's little point in comparing them.

I also agree that the discussion of "Is this Obama's Katrina" is largely posturing, although I doubt it's the particular sort Marty refers to.

If we need to make a comparison, here are some things that stand out to me.

First, Katrina was a natural event. It was weather. Great big weather, but weather.

The Gulf spill, in contrast, is a human fnckup.

In general, we expect people who make great big messes through their own fnckups to clean them up.

Also in general, we consider dealing with catastrophic natural events like hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, floods, etc., to fall broadly in the public arena. Public agencies -- government -- are normally responsible for dealing with the mess.

So, Eric's comment about Katrina being the kind of thing that the feds are specifically tasked with handling is not really off the mark. If you read that as "the feds and only the feds", then maybe so. But if I read him correctly, his point was to contrast Katrina as a natural disaster, and thus meriting a governmental response, with the Gulf spill, which is an industrial accident, and thus normally the responsibility whoever screwed up.

Regarding the federal responsibility specifically, Katrina, which is to say a Cat 5 hurricane hitting NOLA, was specifically gamed out by FEMA in 2001 as part of a national disaster planning effort. It was one of the big three possible calamities: hurricane in NOLA, terror attack in NYC, earthquake in San Fran.

It was then the subject of an extensive disaster planning exercise in 2004, involving FEMA and other federal agencies, as well as state and local agencies.

So, somewhere between all of that and Katrina itself, a lot of people dropped the freaking ball.

City, state, and federal.

Lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of things went wrong in Katrina. A lot of people died, thousands and thousands of people fled and many of them will not come back.

I note Marty's rule of thumb about the federal response normally taking three days. It's been almost five years, and NOLA is still FUBAR. The folks who live there and love the city are getting on with their lives, but very large sections of the city are still a freaking mess.

Lots and lots of blame to go around. City, state, and federal. If you live in NOLA, it seems, most of the rest of the world wants to come to your town to get wasted, piss on the walls, puke in the alley, and go home. The rest of the time, you can pound sand.

So, that's Katrina and NOLA. Now can we please let the dead rest in peace.

We'll see how the Gulf spill turns out. I'm not overly impressed with anyone's response. I hope they get their sh*t together in a god-damned hurry.

Regarding Palin and McGinnis, yes it's weird that he moved in next door, and Palin will milk it for everything she can get out of it.

But if I read him correctly, his point was to contrast Katrina as a natural disaster, and thus meriting a governmental response, with the Gulf spill, which is an industrial accident, and thus normally the responsibility whoever screwed up.

I didnt read it that way- I see it as more of a matter of ability. The US government has the practiced ability to provide disaster relief when a large-scale disaster strikes a part of the US: bring in food, water, shelter, medical supplies, communications gear, etc. The US government does not have the practiced ability to stop a 5000ft-deep ruptured oil well.
If the government had the ability to stop the oil and didn't, that would be a huge screw-up. But, contra Marty, I don't see any evidence that the government failed to take effective action. Just that effective action wasn't necessarily available to them in this case.

Katrina, the hurricane, was a natural event. The failure of the levees, not so much. Both the preparation and the response was effed under Bush.

This disaster is purely man-made, and, while certainly the fault of BP and/or their subs, may likely have been prevented with better oversight. I don't mean in the days or weeks or months leading up to this. I mean over years of allowing a risk-taking culture to get more and more out of control. I don't insinuate that electing two oil men to the presidency and vice presidency, TWICE, had anything to do with. I say it outright.

Yes, the response is Obama's baby, but that baby is not one of doing the actual work involved in stopping the oil. It can't be. All the federal government can do is hold BP's feet to the fire and help the people in the areas affected by the contamination. Part of holding BP's feet to the fire includes making them pay for all of it - clean-up and disaster relief, regardless of who provides it; be it BP, the government or anyone either one hires.

This is yet another legacy mess to be cleaned up, along with two wars, a financial crisis, and whatever other governmental dysfunction is still lurking beneath the surface. Obama's not perfect by a long shot, but we're going to be paying for the last administration's total incompetence for some time, and this is just another symptom of that. I thank my fellow American's for electing and reelecting that fncking nitwit. (At least the ones who voted for him, that is. And John Thullen, just for the hell of it.)

Carleton Wu,

Exactly. Thank you. This is an industrial accident. Unfortunately, it's an industrial accident that is causing environmental damage on an unprecedented scale. There should have been contingency plans/ regulations/federal onsite oversight/blah.... to have dealt with what is occurring. Everyone interested in the environment (i.e. most of the people who post here) would have been in favor of either having that highly regulated, highly overseen, supervised, federally responsible regime. Unfortunately, none of the people who regularly post here had anything to do with the history of the oil industry. Obama has done everything he could do, considering that he really didn't have the tools to do much at all. He admitted this himself.

I'm someone who loves New Orleans and Louisiana seafood. My very first stop there, once a year, is to ACME Oyster bar. In April, I went there first thing, and last thing before I left. I'm picturing the people working there (and can't picture in my memory, but think about, the people who caught the fish that became my dinner). I've been in a deep state of despair since I realized what this horror means. But let's get this straight: Obama isn't God. This horror could have been prevented, but not easily, and not recently. Maybe now we can start to take measures that prevent the rest of the oceans from becoming dead zones.

In other words, the "response" has to be us.

" Maybe now we can start to take measures that prevent the rest of the oceans from becoming dead zones."

Opening more of the land to drilling would be a start towards that...

It should be remembered that Katrina didn't just hit NO. It hit the whole coast. Katrina was dealt with fairly well everywhere else, despite everywhere else having the same federal government. So maybe the relevant difference was the local government? Using their emergency response plan for toilet paper didn't exactly help, you know. Local response is the basis on which FEMA builds, after all. They're there to help, not shift the whole load themselves.

So, I think this will only be Obama's Katrina to the extent he catches undeserved hell over it. Which I don't wish... It would be undeserved. ;)

Katrina, the hurricane, was a natural event. The failure of the levees, not so much. Both the preparation and the response was effed under Bush.

And, I think, previous administrations & Congresses. The levees of NO were apparently known to be a risk for decades, and no one from either party stepped up to fix it.
I remember the night of Katrina, sometime around midnight the storm was downgraded to a cat 3, and I went to sleep thinking "this is great, we've really dodged a bullet", only to wake up and find that the levees weren't even able to handle the weakened storm. That failure, and the regulatory failures that led to the current crisis, are IMO on their entire US governmental apparatus.

As an Alaska resident who despises S-Pa, I have to agree with Drum that McGinniss is in fact creepy.

The failure of the levees, not so much. Both the preparation and the response was effed under Bush.

So maybe the relevant difference was the local government?

The relevant difference is the failure of the lakeside levees. That, and the fact that the city is largely below the water level. It's a bowl.

As others have noted, blame for the crappiness of the levees can also be spread pretty widely.

None of which excludes the fact that FEMA under Bush was a sandbox for unqualified incompetent hacks. It was a fat government gig for his buddies.

Historically that's not been particularly uncommon, however under Clinton it was actually pretty good.

And seriously, if FEMA has no role in dealing with natural disasters of the scale of Katrina, then shut it down. Turn out the f**king lights and send them all home.

And when the next big freaking calamity hits, you're on your own. Depending on what state, county, or town you live in, that will either be kinda sucky, or you'll be back to the stone age.

Good luck.

Why is anybody quoting S@r@h P@lin? "Don't feed the troll" has been an established principle for a decade now. She is a nothing. An unelected nobody. Every line you write on her pushes her evil circus caravan up the Google.

But, however bad the response to Katrina, after months of essentially no effective response on BP, this is just positioning.

Marty: What do you mean "months"?

And what would an effective response been? Specifics if you got em.

Do you: Disagree with the report that the property owner approached him with an attractive offer, Feel that he was morally bound to refuse the offer, Or???

Morally bound? No, but that doesn't mean this wasn't very poor judgment. The fact that the prop owner was trying to get back at the Palins should have also been a big red flag - McGinnis should not have allowed himself to be used in such a manner. And the fact that him moving in next door would be a form of payback is itself instructive.

All emergency response is local, and then state, and then federal. There are, in general, no plans for FEMA response faster than three days, at that it is a given it sucked at all those levels anyway.

That's why you have to pre-position equipment near the danger zone - as Clinton's FEMA did prior to a worrisome hurricane in Florida. Very well handled crisis.

Simply put, FEMA runs better when people with knowledge and expertise are put in charge.

See, also, Nashville as Thullen pointed out.

This should not be a controversial notion.

Opening more of the land to drilling would be a start towards that...

Yeah, because that never has any environmental costs.

Aw c'mon, Phil, where's the fun in an environmental disaster if you can't somehow make it the fault of the tree-huggers?

The uneasiness and dissatisfaction with the Obama administration's response to the disaster among liberals, left-wingers, and Democrats has too often been mischaracterized as a desire for the federal government to take charge of the actual effort to stop the oil and gas spewing from the leak site(s). That's not what most of us want, and it's not what making us cringe (or seethe, depending on temperament).

David Waldman [aka Kagro X] had an excellent corrective to that mischaracterization in a front-page post at Daily Kos that went under-noticed due to being put up on Friday evening of a holiday weekend. It remains true and deserves wider distribution. An excerpt:

What’s killing the White House image here is the notion that BP is able to use its money, power and influence in Louisiana to walk all over ordinary Americans and the government in dealing with a disaster of their own creation. That’s what stings the most. And there’s a real opportunity for the White House to grab the reins here and stake out territory where it really can assert leadership, and that’s in putting an end to this feudal-style nonsense that’s going on down there. Transparency in this situation has no enemies worth noting, and the reported extent of corporate usurpation of governmental powers is a shocking embarrassment. President Obama doesn’t need to come up with some magic trick for stopping the leak himself. He needs to put an end to the perception that the ridiculous shenanigans that appear to be surrounding the disaster are in any way acceptable or will be allowed to continue.

"

Opening more of the land to drilling would be a start towards that...

Yeah, because that never has any environmental costs."

Because it's easier to plug a hole when it's not under a mile of water?

I suppose that depends on how easy it is to plug a hole, period. I'm sure you have cites at hand to records of such land-based incidents, how long it took to stop them, and what the environmental and economic results were. I'll wait over here for them and just let me know when zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz . . . . .

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