Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Frogmen, Dammit! Send In The Frogmen.

The Obama administration and British Petroleum have been stumbling around in the dark, clueless as to what to do with the Gulf leak. And the amazing thing was the solution was right at hand. Last Thursday on Hardball, Chris Matthews explained that the solution was simple. Send in the frogmen.

MATTHEWS: Well, that‘s what I‘m asking about. Is the problem getting a submarine to get—can we use our fleet of submarines to go down there and get men, frogmen, down there with torches and begin to close up that—that hole in that pipe? What is the problem, getting there? Is it the transportation to the bottom of the sea, a mile down, or is it the technology of closing that hole?

You see. It's so simple. Just get our Navy boys down there a mile below the surface with some wrenches, and blow torches and maybe some chewing gum and bungee cords and stop that damn leak.

On the Friday edition of Hardball Matthews went a bit further saying that if Captain Nemo could do it why can't we.

MATTHEWS: He says—he stands by and hectors them, but they‘re the ones responsible for fixing—I don‘t know why all the submarines in our fleet aren‘t down there. It would seem to me that Captain Nemo back in the 19th century in fiction would have been able to get down there and fix it with soldering irons and blow torches and filling up that pipe, or with cement or gravel or whatever it takes to put on top of that, just start dumping it there with our big tankers. I don‘t know why we‘re not doing it. We‘re counting on one company, a British company, to solve a problem that‘s been created in our back yard, and I don‘t quite get it.

Matthews statements demonstrate clearly the idiocy of conflating fantasy with reality and having strongly held opinions in a fact free mind. Furthermore they are evidence of the very arrogance that got us into this mess in the first place.

There are no easy fixes to an oil leak one mile beneath the surface of the ocean. If there were, it would have been implemented. But the sad truth is that the oil companies deluded themselves into thinking they could drill safely at those depths, with a faith in their technological prowess that has now been demonstrated to be a crumbling edifice of self deceit and hubris. Not to be outdone, the federal government, suffering through decades of a deregulatory environment, bought in to the concept that drilling was safe and well within our technological abilities.

But what would be comical if it were not so pathetic is the incessant blabbing we hear from pundits in the media screaming at the tops of their lungs "why isn't Obama doing more." Top among these was David Gergen who regurgitated a five-point plan this morning as if it was passed to him on some stone tablets. Well the simple fact is that all five points involve steps that the Obama administration has already taken ,as pointed out by citizen K.. There is no magic potion, there is no silver bullet.

The United States government, including its military, is not in the oil drilling business. It does not have the capacity using its own machinery and personnel to fix this leak. We can debate whether it should have had that capacity and whether funds should be spent to develop that capacity in the future, but as of today it simply doesn't exist. The government has equipment that can be helpful in dealing with this type of catastrophe but that is all. For now, we must rely on the oil companies to stop the leaks. And as far as the cleanup and mitigation of the spill, no effort should be spared but we should have no illusions. Only a small fraction of that oil will ever be contained or removed. The damage will be profound and will only be lessened by Mother Nature and the passing of time.

But go ahead Chris, keep dreaming of Captain Nemo and frogmen. But I have one suggestion. It might be best to keep those thoughts to yourself. in the words of Abraham Lincoln,

Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.


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