Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Consider all those Deepwater Horizon reports safely buried before they're even written


PLUS: "Big Dick" Cheney gets his heart fixed.
Now what about his brain? (See below)

"'It's disappointing,' said 84-year-old Walt Parker, chairman of the Alaska Oil Spill Commission, which made dozens of recommendations for preventing a recurrence. 'It's almost as though we had never written the report.'"
-- from "Lessons from Exxon Valdez spill have gone unheeded" by Joe Stephens, in today's Washington Post

by Ken

Howie has been doing his usual diligent job covering the Gulf oil disaster and its terrible but predictable roots in the insatiable greed of the energy industry and the collaboration of its government "regulators," so that I don't think I've had occasion to write about it since my May 30 post, "Déjà vu all over again: Who could have foreseen the Deepwater Horizon disaster?" -- prompted by an article that appeared in that day's New York Times, "Documents Show Early Worries About Safety of Rig." The article had set me to thinking back to another of those totally unexpected and inexplicable disasters, the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger, which turned out to be not only predictable but predicted, something we might never have learned if Nobel physicist Richard Feynman hadn't overcome his skepticism about the seriousness of the commission appointed to "investigate" the disaster and accepted a place on it, and proceeded to undermine the commission whitewashers by seeking out the right people and asking them the right questions.

Back then I wrote:
I learned something from that experience which other people already knew but which we all need to learn, one way or another. Anytime one of these "inexplicable" events occurs, surpassing the limits of human understanding, just wait for it. The odds are overwhelming that soon enough we'll learn that not only can it be understood, it was understood, and was probably a subject of deadly concern among the initiated.

The odds are also extremely good that a small, beleaguered band of fact-based whiners was pitted against a larger, or at any rate more powerful, group of deniers. Usually it will turn out that the deniers were looking at a balance sheet, seeing precious dollars flying out the window to assuage the concerns of the comparatively lowly whiners, who might not even know how to read a balance sheet.

In the end, of course, the balance sheet on the Challenger didn't look all that great even to the all-important and all-powerful Money People. Just as the balance sheet on the Deepwater Horizon mess isn't going to look so good, unless you happen to be looking at the balance sheet of one of the companies that is, er, cleaning up on the disaster. (Never forget that article of faith to the Corporate Right: Disasters are just financial windfalls that haven't been cashed in yet.)

Thank goodness we've now got our own commission to investigate the Deepwater Horizon disaster. I bet its report is going to be a shocker, whose findings will reverberate throughout the energy industry and government regulation thereof. Ha ha ha! Is that hilarious, or what? On the contrary, I expect that even as we speak a place is being found for that eventual report on a shelf in a dingy, out-of-the-way basement right next to the report on the Exxon Valdez oil-spill disaster.

In today's Washington Post, reporter Joe Stephens has a piece with the shocking headline "Lessons from Exxon Valdez spill have gone unheeded." Here's a bit of what he has to report:
[T]he full story of the Exxon Valdez wreck. . . offers striking parallels to today's events in the Gulf of Mexico -- including a central role played by a consortium led by British Petroleum, now known as BP.

A commission that investigated the Alaska spill found that oil companies cut corners to maximize profits. Systems intended to prevent disaster failed, and no backups were in place. Regulators were too close to the oil industry and approved woefully inadequate accident response and cleanup plans.

History is repeating, say officials who investigated the Valdez, because the lessons of two decades ago remain unheeded.

"It's disappointing," said 84-year-old Walt Parker, chairman of the Alaska Oil Spill Commission, which made dozens of recommendations for preventing a recurrence. "It's almost as though we had never written the report."

Marine experts predict that the many panels investigating the Deepwater Horizon blowout -- including a presidential commission that began work this week in New Orleans -- will produce reports with numerous findings that could have been cut and pasted from the 20-year-old report written by Parker's commission or another body that examined the Valdez accident. They also fear those findings may have no more impact than the Valdez conclusions have.

For more details, check out Stephens's report, though I can't think why you would want to bother. Surely we can consider all those reports for all practical purposes already safely buried and forgotten before they've even been written. We already have a pretty good idea how this latest disaster came about -- whose stupefying as well as literally death-defying money-saving "shortcuts" led to the disaster, and which government agencies, backed by which pro-business political factions, enabled them.

Already, however, even though the water-carrying energy-industry shills of the Right don't like being caught too flagrantly licking their masters' boots, the stooges are hard at work sanitizing the history of this disaster so as to grease its passage down the legendary and indispensable Right-Wing Memory Hole. By the time those reports reporter Stephens mentions start tumbling out, even if by chance any of their authors take their job seriously, the public is apt to remember mostly how BP organized its great 2010 "All You Can Carry" free crude-oil giveaway.


"The Scarecrow reveals that he lacks a brain and desires above all else to have one. . . . "
"[The Tin Man's] desire for a heart notably contrasts with the Scarecrow's desire for brains, reflecting a common debate between the relative importance of the mind and the emotions. . . . "
"The Cowardly Lion joins [Dorothy] so that he can ask The Wizard for courage, being ashamed that, in his cultural role as the King of the Beasts, he is not indeed brave. . . . "

-- Wikipedia
News Alert: Former vice president Cheney says he had heart surgery last week
04:35 PM EDT Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Former vice president Dick Cheney said in a statement Wednesday that he underwent surgery last week after he "began to experience increasing congestive heart failure," the Reuters news service reported. Doctors implanted a new heart pump in Cheney, 69, who has a long history of heart problems.

For more information, visit

As for courage, that seems hopelessly out of the question. Note that unmitigated gall, which the former vice president unquestionably has, not only isn't the same thing as courage but is a pathetic substitute for it. In the wimpiest of war-wimp fashion, this deep geopolitical thinker who believes in invading any country that won't give him a blowjob made damn sure he never got near a battlefield when he had his chance to walk the walk. It hardly came as a surprise that he demonstrates his manliness by "hunting" small birds furnished for the occasion while sitting drunk in a vehicle (clearly having imbibed more than just the spirit of the Second Amendment), shooting . . . well, shooting wherever the hell his weapon happens to point.

Whatta guy!

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At 6:17 PM, Blogger Jimmy the Saint said...

Someone pointed me to this classic from The Onion. It's almost three years old.

At 6:42 PM, Anonymous DrDick said...

How can you fix something which does not exist?

At 6:44 PM, Blogger KenInNY said...

LOL, guys!

For those who haven't looked yet at Jimmy's Onion link, it's:

New Heart Device Allows Cheney To Experience Love

I love it!


At 10:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A surgeon quoted on TPM said he may have months or maybe a couple years left. His heart can't function well enough on its own any longer, so he had a certain type of assist device/pump inserted. The surgeon said it's a very rough road ahead once this is done and that he wouldn't wish it on his worst enemy. This suffering is what brings Cheney as close as he'll get to feeling truly human. If having grandkids couldn't do it, maybe this will. Either way, he will have spent a lifetime making bad situations worse and harming others. I won't miss him, but I can't be sadistic here and do wish him ease of denouement.

At 4:16 AM, Anonymous Bil said...

Thanks JTS and Keni for pointing that one out!

At 8:06 AM, Blogger Suzan said...

Our guy it would seem.

Wonder how many of the brain-dead Rethugs would vote for him again?

I'm guessing all.


Whatta guy!


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