Sunday, June 6, 2010

The President Writes, I Answer

by Robert L. Gisel

The email would appear to be from the President. The disclaimer from the Democratic Party and the auto-response from Organizing America would indicate it wasn't and that my response will not return to the President. Expected, but too bad.

Still, I "wrote back". My reply is here, the email to me is below. By blogging it I know someone will hear.

Dear Mr President,

Yes, this is a rough scene in the Gulf. One can only hope it doesn't destroy too many livelihoods.

The Valdez spill in Alaska disrupted lives and the ecology for a long time. The compensation from the Alaska spill never even began to compensate the incomes lost by fishermen and others who fully depended on the natural resources. At best Exxon Mobile, BP's minion, paid dimes on the dollar of actual loss and had the total slashed dramatically by Supreme Court appeal.

The Floyd Lesseigne-s and the Terry Vegas-s and the whole communities of such individuals upended around the Gulf Coast are recipients of a gruesome toll of trusting the drilling rigs to uphold their end of the bargain. Of course anyone had a say in the matter of offshore drilling. Still, this oil spill qualifies as a significant betrayal of trust.

Heads should roll thus. This is far too absurd to consider as a simple "accidents happen". "Some spills are to be expected." Fail-safe technology is so abundantly available to the culpable corporations that this big a flap is no less than criminal or at best criminally negligent. Like manslaughter with an automobile there is a who and a why, neither of which we have heard anything of.

I'm sure an investigation with integrity will find all 3 as you mention; laws never enforced or ignored, lack of oversight including possible special favors or financial irregularities, and laws broken by individuals. You can count on it. Usually this kind of thing is smoothed over by a permissive political/economic culture that dares not make anyone specifically accountable. Cuff 'em Dano!

Asking BP to pay is only a lessor part of this; this will simply marginalize the huge profit figures while we attempt to bring the generality "BP" to responsibility. You might as well shout reparations at the namesake sign on their building. A very trustworthy independent investigation must find out who did this and what they did or failed to do having such gross consequences. Only in this way can we hope for no re-occurrences.

"The blowout diverter failed" doesn't explain anything for me. How come? Was it not designed for those depths? Sloppily mounted so it became jammed or iced in the installation? Made in China for peanuts? Recycled from another mothballed rig? Shortcuts? Was the Mud Engineer on drugs? Could we get some answers to the pertinent questions?

No one has a right to commit such massive destruction to the planet's ecology. Their "help" has become majorly harmful to the general welfare. It is good the response is big, albeit rather late in starting big. Containment is one matter; how about reversal of the damage, how is that to be addressed? Resilience sidesteps stifling effect only as long as one can do something about it.

The greatest good is what furthers the highest survival for the greatest number (meaning people, not barrels). A President who did that without fail would worth his weight in gold.


Robert L. Gisel

The Gulf Coast

Saturday, June 5, 2010 4:23 PM
"Robert L. Gisel"

Robert L. --

Yesterday, I visited Caminada Bay in Grand Isle, Louisiana -- one of the first places to feel the devastation wrought by the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. While I was here, at Camerdelle's Live Bait shop, I met with a group of local residents and small business owners.

Folks like Floyd Lasseigne, a fourth-generation oyster fisherman. This is the time of year when he ordinarily earns a lot of his income. But his oyster bed has likely been destroyed by the spill.

Terry Vegas had a similar story. He quit the 8th grade to become a shrimper with his grandfather. Ever since, he's earned his living during shrimping season -- working long, grueling days so that he could earn enough money to support himself year-round. But today, the waters where he has worked are closed. And every day, as the spill worsens, he loses hope that he will be able to return to the life he built.

Here, this spill has not just damaged livelihoods. It has upended whole communities. And the fury people feel is not just about the money they have lost. It is about the wrenching recognition that this time their lives may never be the same.

These people work hard. They meet their responsibilities. But now because of a manmade catastrophe -- one that is not their fault and beyond their control -- their lives have been thrown into turmoil. It is brutally unfair. And what I told these men and women is that I will stand with the people of the Gulf Coast until they are again made whole.

That is why, from the beginning, we have worked to deploy every tool at our disposal to respond to this crisis. Today, there are more than 20,000 people working around the clock to contain and clean up this spill. I have authorized 17,500 National Guard troops to participate in the response. More than 1,900 vessels are aiding in the containment and cleanup effort. We have convened hundreds of top scientists and engineers from around the world. This is the largest response to an environmental disaster of this kind in the history of our country.

We have also ordered BP to pay economic injury claims, and this week, the federal government sent BP a preliminary bill for $69 million to pay back American taxpayers for some of the costs of the response so far. In addition, after an emergency safety review, we are putting in place aggressive new operating standards for offshore drilling. And I have appointed a bipartisan commission to look into the causes of this spill. If laws are inadequate, they will be changed. If oversight was lacking, it will be strengthened. And if laws were broken, those responsible will be brought to justice.

These are hard times in Louisiana and across the Gulf Coast, an area that has already seen more than its fair share of troubles. The people of this region have met this terrible catastrophe with seemingly boundless strength and character in defense of their way of life. What we owe them is a commitment by our nation to match the resilience they have shown. That is our mission. And it is one we will fulfill.

Thank you,

President Barack Obama

Paid for by Organizing for America, a project of the Democratic National Committee -- 430 South Capitol Street SE, Washington, D.C. 20003. This communication is not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee.