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It's been called Obama's Katrina.

It's been called Obama's 9/11.

It's been called both by Peter Daou.

I don't know if all that's true.

It's a catastrophe in the making.  It's already been a terrible man-made natural disaster.  It's like Yellowstone destroyed by forest fires, caused by human neglect and mismanagement.  A natural treasure destroyed.

We don't know how this is going to end.  If we do somehow manage to stop the leak, it's going to be the result of tremendous engineering and a considerable amount of good luck.

But I don't think of Katrina - a natural disaster with a disastrously neglectful response by President Bush.

I don't think of 9/11 - an event caused by terrorists.

What comes to mind for me is Apollo 13.

Apollo 13 was a tremendous accomplishment of human ingenuity - a mission to land a manned spacecraft on the lunar surface.  The very idea still boggles my mind.  But Apollo 13 was a failed mission.  An oxygen leak caused damage to the lunar module and no one knew how to deal with it.  A small engineering failure caused a huge crisis, and no one knew how to respond.

But NASA engineers worked with the astronauts aboard the ship to figure out a way to both stop the leak and help the astronauts to survive.  It meant that the Apollo 13 mission would not be accomplished - no one was going to land on the moon.  Trying to get the spacecraft re-aligned to slingshot around the moon and return home safely would require tremendous skill and a lot of luck.

No one knew if it was going to work.  And there were several minutes of radio silence when no one knew if Apollo 13 was going to get through the re-entry process.

They made it home.

They survived.

They found a solution and they made it home.

I don't know if or when this spill will be stopped.

But I'm praying it happens on Wednesday evening.

There are still plenty of lessons to be learned.  But before the teaching happens, we need to stop the leak.

Originally posted to Benintn on Mon May 24, 2010 at 06:31 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Self proclaimed "true progressives" here... (13+ / 0-)

    have moved on, calling it variously "Obama's Chernobyl" or "Obama's Hiroshima".

    They're so creative.

    At this rate, I figure it'll be about a week before they start calling it "Obama's Auschwitz", or "Obama's Killing Fields".

    Because they're soooooo progressive dontchaknow.

    I'm gonna go eat a steak. And fuck my wife. And pray to GOD - hatemailapalooza, 052210

    by punditician on Mon May 24, 2010 at 06:38:28 PM PDT

    •  Rec'ced because I chuckled... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cotterperson, soothsayer99

      ...but I'm sure you're going to get ripped a new hole for that one.  Good luck.

      "If these Republicans can't stand up to Rush, how can they stand up to the Iranians?" - Redmond Barry

      by xsonogall on Mon May 24, 2010 at 06:43:36 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  This takes the strawman argument ......... (0+ / 0-)

      ..... to a whole new level.  

      Self proclaimed "true progressives" here have moved on, calling it variously "Obama's Chernobyl" or "Obama's Hiroshima".

      Could you provide a link to where a "true progressive" called the BP disaster "Obama's Chernobyl" or "Obama's Hiroshima"?  

      Thanks in advance.  

      They're so creative.

      I hope they succeed better than this drek.  

      At this rate, I figure it'll be about a week before they start calling it "Obama's Auschwitz", or "Obama's Killing Fields".

      Because they're soooooo progressive dontchaknow.

      This is way beyond the garden variety "strawman".  

      This has moved into the "creatively dumbass strawman".  

      And yes, I laughed.  At you, not with you.  

  •  You'd have to make a case... (6+ / 0-)

    that either 1) BP didn't purposefully cut corners in the engineering of the Deepwater Horizon rig, or 2) that NASA knowingly and willingly sent astronauts into space in a faulty craft.

    Anyway, on your note, I referred to it as "America's Chernobyl" the other day. Really, it should be thought of as "BP's Chernobyl." Gotta give credit where credit is due...

    "They got the guns, but we got the numbers..."

    by danktle on Mon May 24, 2010 at 06:40:40 PM PDT

  •  Nice analogy (4+ / 0-)

    Unfortunately, even if it stops flowing tomorrow it's still an epic disaster.  

    No happy endings this time.  We all share blame...

    As for those that voted with stars in their eyes in 2008, it was only because they had their lights punched out the previous eight years...

    by nyseer on Mon May 24, 2010 at 06:41:17 PM PDT

  •  Yeah, except (6+ / 0-)

    Obama has had NOTHING to do with this disaster.

    If your so fucking smart, tell us what he should do?  What equipment does the government have that BP doesn't have?  Where are the experts and engineers working for the government in this field?  How many have actual field-experience on this?

    The biggest lesson to be learned, is that unless you prepare for these accidents DECADES in advance, the government will not have the specialized equipment, expertise, and sufficient on-hand capital budget to handle such a task.

    But for some unfathomable reason, it's Obama's fault.  

    •  not Obama's fault (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cotterperson, Got a Grip, AnnieR

      the only real criticism that I can see is that he so publicly stated he wanted offshore drilling right before this happened and even now isn't seriously rethinking that.

      And he should probably be more forthcoming to the American people about what's going on. More news is better.

      •  He stated he wanted research into drilling (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        auapplemac, Blicero, AnnieR

        He was parsing his words very carefully.

        This was a carrot intended to make the right willing to work with him on energy.  It also was intended to make him seem centrist, and willing to give a little to get a little.  But he never explicitly said "drilling", he said research into possible offshore reserves.

        Much more esoteric and strategic.

        •  Esoteric and Strategic??? (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          cotterperson, Shahryar, ThAnswr

          How about just some plain talk that all of us can relate to, and give us some of that hope and change he was talking about?

          We were hoping for LEADERSHIP WE CAN COUNT ON IN A CRISIS, not potential leadership that involves months of waiting for it, especially in this disaster.

          I really want some of your rose-colored glasses.  I would sleep better.

          "Only when the last ocean has been poisoned will we realize we cannot eat petroleum. (modified from a Cree saying)

          by Tyto Alba on Mon May 24, 2010 at 07:13:06 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  We have to come to terms with the possiblity (0+ / 0-)

            there is no fix. Drilling technology far outpaced any ability to correct a situation like this.

            The Pres should address the country explaining that years of lax or non existent oversight and possible construction short cuts were the apparent cause. That there was no requirement for the companies to prepare for this type of accident.

            Tell them their government is reaching out to other countries who have this type of drilling or who have experienced similar accidents. Also collecting information from the best minds in the field.

            It's time for Obama to face the public and reach out to us.

            It's tricky, but needs to be done. Otherwise it seems we're just dithering and pointing fingers the same way the oil execs did at the hearing.

            Progressives will win when the country becomes Progressive.

            by auapplemac on Tue May 25, 2010 at 02:58:31 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  come on Dcoronata (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          cotterperson

          You know I respect you, and we agree on many things political and scientific...  But the Deepwater Horizon was an exploratory drilling project.

          "Exploration" is just one step this side of drilling.  Let's be honest... increasing offshore exploration leases will result in increased risk of environmental damage.

          "The more the Democrats pursue the center... the further to the right the "center" moves." -fellow kossack vacantlook

          by Hopeful Skeptic on Mon May 24, 2010 at 07:13:16 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  I see we still have some here who see Obama ..... (0+ / 0-)

          ....... as the 11-dimensional chessmaster.  

          Very stategic move on Obama's part.  It will cost him Florida.  

    •  Well, for one thing, he's not out in front of it. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      auapplemac, Agathena

      Addressing the nation each day on what is happening, what he plans to do, what steps he is taking to keep this from EVER happening again.

      My observations are that he is busy talking with his advisors, on how he can BEST handle this, asking Rahm, Geithner, Gibbs, etc. for suggestions and then mulling them over until he gets a bi-partisan consensus-like speech.

      He's NOT a leader, he's a follower, and not a follower of the public, but someone who doesn't want to risk alienating the very core group of corporations that the military, his re-election, and perhaps some resemblance of long-term glory.

      But he's definitely NOT a people's person/leader.  I've learned that much so far.

      He's afraid of making mistakes.  That's why, at this point, we don't see him taking charge.

      "Only when the last ocean has been poisoned will we realize we cannot eat petroleum. (modified from a Cree saying)

      by Tyto Alba on Mon May 24, 2010 at 07:10:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  He is not out in front of it but his cabinet is (0+ / 0-)

        I heard Dr. Chu, in charge of Energy, which I would think includes OIL on Rachel Maddow tonight. Referring to a question on the Gulf and stopping the gusher, the said "I only know what I read in the newspapers." and Rachel said, "That makes me very uneasy."

        She questioned him on the permits granted after the moratorium. He said, "I want a moratorium on all new drilling" mumbled something about the bureaucracy, then he said

        I hope that takes place.

        BUT, doesn't he have the authority to make it take place? Why so passive?

        It's beyond me.

        This above all: to thine own self be true...-WS

        by Agathena on Mon May 24, 2010 at 10:35:36 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Excellent. (12+ / 0-)

    I don't share your optimism that the solution will come Wed. evening -- but I do share your optimism that we will find a solution, both to Oilpocalypse and to the larger fossil fuelish crisis that it exemplifies.

    •  I don't share you optimism (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Agathena, ybruti, wabird, RLMiller

      that a solution will be found for either of those things, but I don't think it's Obama's anything.  I think this is a terrible man-made disaster for which we all share the blame, but especially the oil industry in general, BP in particular, and all of those in powerful positions over the decades of political maneuvering for, and cow-towing, to the oil industry.  Obama's part in the decades-long political landscape that ultimately created this mess is small.

      There are many examples of man-made disasters for which there has been no solution found, and their effects rage on.  I think the damage that has already been done will have far greater consequences that the average person yet realizes.  You don't kill off vast marshlands without some nasty consequences, as just an obvious example.  And it will continue, popping up here and there and everywhere to wreak havoc for decades to come, even if they kill that well this second.

      I think we might have finally managed to kill ourselves as a species, we just don't know it yet.  I don't blame Obama for that.  We'll all own it in the end.

      "The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places." Ernest Hemingway

      by Got a Grip on Mon May 24, 2010 at 07:03:11 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Worst case the oil stops flowing in August... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Agathena, RLMiller, Eric Nelson

      when the relief well/s intersect. I'm hoping, however, that the topkill works on Wed. Really, really, hoping...

      As far as climate/energy I think you have to have optimism, otherwise we will fail. If we don't believe we can solve climate/energy, then we won't.

      Optimism is a prerequisite...

      "How poor are they that have not patience! What wound did ever heal but by degrees?"

      by Cure7802 on Mon May 24, 2010 at 09:43:57 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Nice! Plus: Failure is not an option n/t (4+ / 0-)
  •  Pres. Obama hired for intellect not ideology (14+ / 0-)

    Just listened to Energy Sec. Chu on the Rachel Maddow show.  Two weeks ago he recommended using gamma rays to inspect the BOP and guess what?  They got valuable information about the condition of the internal valves of the BOP.  Chu has been pulling all-nighters along with other scientist and engineers to look for solutions and improve on what BP has come up with. Compare that with the "Heck of job Brownie" talent we had with Bush.

    When you win, they don't call you a "celebrity. They call you Mr. President!

    by Teach53 on Mon May 24, 2010 at 06:50:33 PM PDT

  •  Please, Katrina was NOT NOT NOT (10+ / 0-)

    a natural disaster.  Katrina was a Cat 3 when it hit New Orleans.  We were promised, for 40 years, by the Army Corps of Engineers that the levees were designed to withstand a Cat 3.  Katrina didn't destroy my home and my city. What did is an engineering failure -- a MAN-MADE disaster.  Through 40 years of engineering incompetence, the ACOE had constructed I-Walls on top of levees that failed and flooded the City.

    THE FLOODING OF MY CITY WAS NOT A "NATURAL DISASTER."  

    Sorry for the shouting, but this is a really important point.  

    •  Not exactly correct (0+ / 0-)

      You've got a city that is for the most part, at or below sea level, and it is almost surrounded by a lake that is well above it.  I've seen what Cat 3 storms can do to flatlands, now imagine what they'll do to below-sea-level regions.

      It was a natural disaster, made worse by more than a century of terrible planning.

      •  Wrong. Please, please (8+ / 0-)

        read these extensive findings by a federal judge explaining that the ACOE knew, by their own calculations, that the levees wouldn't stand up to a Cat 3 despite (1) the mandate to design levees that would and (2)40 years of telling us they would.

        And many areas that flooded were ABOVE sea level.

        Testimony before Congress demonstrated that this is "the worst engineering failure in American history" according to the ASCE.  

        It was an ENGINEERING FAILURE.  An ENGINEERING FAILURE.  Not a natural disaster.  PLEASE read that link before you make any more comments like you did.  

        (I feel like John Goodman in the first episode of HBO's Treme.)  

        •  Have you read John Barry's (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          tmo, mwk, Eric Nelson

          The Rising Tide:  The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927?  It will make you scream because it lays out the negligent engineering of the ACE since they started dicking around with levees.  I've read it twice and could read it a third time.

          ACE has always been an agency I found inept -- but, I must admit that Mineral Management has managed to exceed them -- not just in ineptness, but utter corruption.

        •  It was not an engineering disaster, it was human (0+ / 0-)

          Hate to break this to you, but there are places where people shouldn't live in high numbers.

          Unless you are willing to spend the tens of billions of dollars (as the Dutch and English are) you shouldn't live below sea level.

          This nation has a glorious history of neglecting local infrastructure, for the sake of saving a few pennies.

          I am fully aware of the failure of hundred year old pumps and generations old insufficiently deep structures; I am also aware of the Poldar system used in the Netherlands.  Do you think our engineers aren't aware of it, or perhaps our politicians couldn't convince the public they needed to spend the money?

          Being cheap isn't an engineering problem.

          •  You obviously didn't read the link (0+ / 0-)

            and you obviously know little about what caused the breach in the I-Wall at the 17th Street Canal.  

            •  You obviously (0+ / 0-)

              don't know me.

              I didn't have to read it, I'd read reports on the subject YEARS ago.  If you don't go deep enough, a supporting levy will collapse due to water seepage.  Essentially, when your supporting earthworks turn to mud, your wall is useless.

              But what would I know about this, I'm only an engineer with 25 years of experience.  What value is my knowledge compared to someone who can link?

              Now kindly go back into your cave, and let people who know how the world really works get to their tasks.

    •  Bush CUT funding for levees. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tmo, ybruti, Eric Nelson

      Bush indeed cut funding for projects specifically designed to strengthen levees. Indeed, local officials had been complaining about that for years.

      http://www.factcheck.org/...

  •  "Tremendous accomplishment of human ingenuity" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wabird

    This is not. Even. Comparable.

    I will definitely say that it was  "Tremendous accomplishment of human greed and its accompanying inevitable ignorance."

    Done.

    "Only when the last ocean has been poisoned will we realize we cannot eat petroleum. (modified from a Cree saying)

    by Tyto Alba on Mon May 24, 2010 at 07:03:38 PM PDT

    •  Or perhaps I should re-phrase it to (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Agathena, wabird

      "Tremendous accomplishment of human greed and its accompanying and inevitable environmental disastrous shortcuts."

      No-one can pay for this.  No-one can repair this damage.  Nature can, in her time.  That time will be a long one.

      Please, BP, with all of your knowledge and promises and shortcuts, can you make me a pelican to replace the one I'm looking at right now, oiled, just a three month old baby learning to fly?  Can you address the heartache thousands of us feel right now, thinking about them, caring about them?

      They are not robots, but prescious beings given to us to teach us the way of nature, by observing and learning from them.  We are ALL inter-related.  We lost them, we lose another part of our own lives, whether we know it or not.  We lose the sea's abundance, that has sustained us through milleniums.  How do we replenish what we destroy?

      This, mother earth bleeding from her heart - her arteries should never have needles stuck into her, to get her blood (and that's what it's basically come to).

      She's bleeding.  We caused it, and apparently there's nothing within our so-called super duper advanced technology that tells us all that we can handle it by further, even more advanced technology.

      Anyone here, please tell me why this is NOT an event that was preventable.

      And please DO tell me what we can do about it.

      If you can't, then don't bother to respond.  Time is short, and we need our best environmental thoughts to take up your space.

      I'm truly in despair, after devoting my whole life to protecting nature.  At this point I feel almost suicidal.

      For those of you who continue to tell us all that everything is going to be OK, that BP, our President, and all the people he chose to be his advisors, are going to take care of this one - good luck.

      Heartbroken, and not apologetic for it.

      Angry, and also not apologetic for it.

      "Only when the last ocean has been poisoned will we realize we cannot eat petroleum. (modified from a Cree saying)

      by Tyto Alba on Mon May 24, 2010 at 08:09:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Remember That Scene... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cotterperson, Tyto Alba

    in the movie just before re-entry when one of the Houston Engineers was going over all of the things that could go wrong?

    Engineer: "This could be the worst disaster in NASA's history."

    Krantz:  "On the contrary, I think this is going to be NASA's finest hour."

    Let's all Hope President Obama can pull of an Apollo 13!

    "Some men see things as they are and ask, 'Why?' I dream of things that never were and ask, 'Why not?"

    by Doctor Who on Mon May 24, 2010 at 07:06:17 PM PDT

    •  Come on. (0+ / 0-)

      The oil's in the water, it's on the beaches and... This will not be anybody's finest moment.

      I take that back, if your goal was to fuck the future with a gigantic dildo made of oil, then this is a bright moment for you.

      For the rest of us, not so much. I'm hoping it's a genuine turning point, that we can indeed 'look back and say that this was the time' that we removed our heads from our rectums and got serious about taking care of the planet.

      Fingers crossed.

  •  OBAMA = FAIL BP = FAIL n/t (0+ / 0-)
  •  The Comparison to Yellowstone is... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ybruti

    Terrible!  

    The fires were not caused by human neglect and mismanagemnt, unless you consider building lodges, roads, campgrounds, picnic areas, sidewalks, etc., and allowing millions of Americans to enjoy one of our greatest natural wonders, human neglect and mismanagement.

    We, humans often feel that we can control nature and supposedly preserve nature in the exact same condition for many years.  Mother Nature, however, always has a different plan and continually changes whether we like it or not.

    What happened in Yellowstone has happened literally thousands of times in the West in the past, most before Europeans arrived.

  •  I'm not sure I would compare (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wabird
    Drilling for oil or stopping leaks to the space program.

    Let's not make this train wreck into a noble visionary excercise, let's be honest and call it a huge oil spill and man-made disaster.

    "Life immitates art, but takes license." - ko

    by koNko on Mon May 24, 2010 at 08:21:33 PM PDT

    •  Aye. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      koNko

      Enough with the Obama's this and that.

      It's a disaster, maybe the worst we've seen? Maybe there have been worse? We won't know for a bit, thanks to BP and it's CIA like secrecy. WTF is up with that? This really isn't the time for PR and spin control.

      Anyhow, I'm in the 'more leadership would be nice from my government' camp, but calling it Obama's whatever isn't going to shame him into doing anything differently.

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