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See! The Right Wing Defeat! Mustache Twirling Democrats!

The Gulf Coast is in enough trouble in my opinion without needing THAT guy’s help in ****ing things up further. Republicans and their media co-conspirators have decided that the vilifying and political sabotaging of the left is so important, that even a disaster this serious will be dealt with as nothing so much as an opportunity to spread conspiracy theories about SWAT team attacks on oil rigs.

In case you were thinking that he was just a fluke, no, the helpful staff at FOXNews jumped on the bandwagon with him.

And if that wasn't enough, guess who also suggested intentional sabotage? Well, do you need a slide rule and a blackboard to figure it out?

No doubt that paranoid psychotic who examines the Rockefeller center for evidence of a hidden communist plot will get in the game soon enough, if he hasn't already.

I watched people like them drive this country into the ditch on multiple occasions and on multiple levels, and now I'm thinking, now that we're halfway out, are they committed to putting us right back in? For them, it seems, the disasters themselves are the political abstracts, while the politics is the important issue at hand, regardless of whatever else is going on.

Perish to think that though the technology might exist to drill safely at those depths, there might not be the corporate culture of safety necessary to make that a wise choice. It doesn't matter whether some abstract company in the clouds can do it safely, the question is, does the industry as it is deserve our trust. BP, in particular, has had a terrible history of recent problems.

Why the talk of eco-terrorists? Naturally, folks like Rush want to make this seem like a deliberate attack (on a wellhead five miles down. With witnesses confirming a blowout occured. I mean, the ecoterrorists like Mother Earth, but I'm not sure the last time she served as their co-conspirator. It gets even juicier, of course, if President Obama ordered the hit. Yet another thing for the paranoid schizophrenics to perseverate over.

Sigh. I know not everybody's crazy, but it seems to me it hardly matters whether people are sane when they get caught up in an organization or movement gone insane, where politics matters more than consequence.

Nearly everyday, I see some sort of conspiracy theory, starring the Democrats. Oh, no, no, Al Gore can't honestly think Global Warming is real, he and tens of thousands of climate scientists must all be in a conspiracy to force global socialism and redistribute our wealth to the third world. No, no, Obama couldn't be a real citizen, he has to be a Kenyan version of a Manchurian candidate, a secret Muslim, A secret black racist.

The election has to be the result of interference from ACORN, an organization so superpowerful that all it took to put it down for good was a doctored videotape alleging that some people gave advice to a hooker and her pimp.

I know, I know, there's always some conspiracy theory to explain why all is not what it seems. I used to be big into them myself, believing that the government was hiding things. But what became apparent to me as I grew up was that the facts were always conveniently just offstage, their inevitable discovery deferred until next time. That started to trigger doubts in me, doubts that eventually lead me to a profound sense of skepticism on such matters. I would not be able to put a name to it, but my recognition that the "argument from ignorance" was a fallacy was the first step I took to becoming a skeptic.

The evidence for Democrats being such villains is always conveniently offstage, always withdrawn by some dark conspiratorial force. The motives are draped in layers upon layers of artifice.

Nobody in the environmental movement wants simply to live in a cleaner world, where hazardous chemical don't poison us, or the land we depend upon, if the Republicans are to be taken at their word. In their view, it doesn't matter that a scientific consensus has developed around man causing global warming, and it being a problem, No, Republicans mainly quibble about possibilities most familiar with the science know were eliminated as potential costs years ago, or pronounce with great certainty that things always change in science, and...

...the next paradigm is around the corner. They are the Gallileos, we the Catholic Church. They are the Einsteins, we are the Old School Physicists. They picture themselves the oppressed geniuses, forced to toil on their obscure theories by repressive mainstream. Of course, what theory they actually have to offer is not something we're entirely clear on. It's Waiting for Godot, philosophy of science edition. No, our groundbreaking theory will not come today. Come back tomorrow, and it will show up.

This is not the argument of skeptics, it's the argument of true believers, folks who, ironically enough accuse Liberals of making global warming into a religion.

That's a sampling of what we're hearing and have been hearing from Republicans these past few years. Whether we're diabolically helping the Terrorists to defeat America, or devilishly cheering on Saddam Hussein, according to the wise folks of the Right, it is common knowledge on the right that we're all just a fifth column, biding our time until we can destroy our own country!

I know, political parties do this to a certain extent, claiming the other side has unsavory interests. But this has gotten to the point where it's difficult to even to talk or compromise with Republicans, where the old adult understanding that off the campaign trail, the adults in the room bargain and make deals, negotiating, rather than forcing their constituents interests.

And that was how things were meant to be, according to the Framers. They didn't create a government with the interests of seeing it mired in gridlock. They created one in the interests of working past the gridlock that permeated the American Government under the Articles of Confederation. At the same time, they did not want a government where their own individual interests would get steamrolled when somebody else was in power. The solution was a deliberative style of government where things could still get done, but checks and balances insured that folks would have a political voice, even if they weren't in power.

And Republicans right now are screwing that up. They're demanding more than what the framers ever intended the minority to have: a veto on everything the majority came through with, without having the White House in their control. They'll argue their own sense of the necessity of their actions, but since when have such factions in politics not argued that necessity? Everybody argues the necessity of doing things their way, whether from their own parochial perspective, or on the more global scale.

The whole point of the design was not to have people take turns trying to tear each other down, while the Republic languished with needs unmet. The point of the design was to force people to come to eventual agreements, or to have the political consensus so broad and clear in the public that the issue should move forward anyways.

I won't go any further into filibuster abuse, but we have to realize that at some point, the vilification of the other side, and certainly this kind of melodramatic, psychotic means of reinforcing the minority's fears and anxieties is not helpful to this country's good fortunes.

Yes, this disaster will be very helpful to those pushing the political cause of environmentalism, as 9/11 was to the cause of counterterrorism, Iraq was to military and diplomatic realists and Katrina to the cause of disaster preparedness. What the Republicans out there need to realize is that they, and those whose interests they favor, can indeed make mistakes and do atrocious things that are legitimately harmful to their reputation, and that sometimes the emotional reaction that people have, while not entirely rational, is only natural.

The question is not whether Drilling in the Gulf at that depth can safely be done. The question is whether BP and these other companies are disciplined and careful enough to do it, without endangering the interests of all those people in the Gulf of Mexico, who rely on its waters to be unpolluted enough to support marshlands, crustaceans, fish, and other wildlife, or who rely on the pristine character of the environment to draw tourists.

The interests must be balanced properly. If we have alternatives, perhaps now we should consider them. If BP and others cannot prove drilling at those depths is safe, then just what profit do the Gulf Coast States get from letting them just get their way?

What folks on the Right need to realize is that their counterparts are no longer letting their interests come second. If the Republicans and those they represent had performed as promised, if fuel prices had remained low after energy deregulation, or if catastrophic accidents hadn't occured, people might have been content to swallow their pride and admit the GOP knew what it was doing. The trouble is, on so many fronts, the GOP put its leadership to the test and failed. That being the case, Republicans no longer have the ability to run on their record, at least not beyond their own base. Everybody else looks and can't help but remember who turned prosperity to ruin, fiscal sanity into drunken sailor abandon, a nation confident in its military power, to one humbled, and still saddled with two uncertain wars.

The only recourse for a party looking to make positive contrasts is to essentially cast Democrats as action and suspense movie villains, to create a cloud of noise about all the hell Democrats want to put the country through. They have to posit the Democrats as the enemy of all that is right and good. Otherwise, all the Republicans are, by contrast, are the party that screwed up as the leaders of the land.

But the thing is, we're not dealing with Magic SWAT teams that can blow up wellheads at a mile down in the Gulf of Mexico. We're dealing, very likely, with a company that through years of lax regulation and enforcement learned it could get away with being negligent with its operations, its equipment, its practices. We're likely dealing with a preventable accident here.

But as long as we are distracted by the political BS, such things will not be taken care of, and the errors will be repeated.

The Republicans need to set aside their need to tear back power from the Democrats, and start winning it back by proving to the American people that they can govern, in a practical sense, just as well or better. Their consistency on political principles or rhetorical efforts will be worthless both to them and the country in the long run, if their short term wins only make things worse for a country already reeling from the consequences of their long term mismanagement of this country.

Posted by Stephen Daugherty at May 4, 2010 8:35 AM
Comment #300086

Here’s some additional technical perspective on the failures of the Deepwater rig.

Here are some choice words that go the point I would make:

While the Deepwater Horizon leaks’ depth is unprecedented, it was not unanticipated. A report by engineering consulting firm URS Corp. in 2002 concluded that “Technologies used in shallow waters are no longer adequate for water depths over 1,000 meters. As a result, the environmental consequences of some of the newer deepwater technologies are not well understood.”

In 2005 petroleum engineering researchers from Texas A&M University suggested that drilling in the “dangerous and unknown” ultra-deep environment required new blowout control measures: “While drilling as a whole may be advancing to keep up with these environments, some parts lag behind. An area that has seen this stagnation and resulting call for change has been blowout control.”

An analysis of incidents in the Gulf of Mexico by the Texas A&M researchers showed that offshore blowouts had continued at “a fairly stable rate” since 1960 despite the use of BOPs. Regulators require inspection of BOPs every 14 days. BP says it inspected the Deepwater Horizon’s 10 days before last month’s blowout.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at May 4, 2010 10:35 AM
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