BLACK TIDE: Florida Panhandle Morning Newspaper Updates

From Panama City, Fort Walton Beach & Destin, Apalachicola & Carrabelle, and Pensacola.

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This post was written by bobsikes on June 18, 2010

OBAMA WATCH: Is it his speech writer? The message? Or both?

President Obama’s recent address to the nation about the Gulf oil spill has been widely criticized by pundits whom normally flack for him.

The Daily Beast’s Tina Brown said it best:

Obama ’s speech was a strong energy bill pitch, necessary and resounding—a good use of the Rahm Emanuel theory that you should never let a crisis go to waste.

But he didn’t do what was needed: convey the sense that the CEO is back from offsite and now deeply, viscerally engaged in the messy process of management. The speech showcased what he has always shown us he is good at—articulating the overarching goal, and ramping up the rhetoric to meet it. But he cited too many names that have already lost our vote. Salazar, you’re doing a helluva job! Obama’s supposedly stellar Secretary of the Interior strikes the rest of us as doing a good impersonation of being all hat and no cattle—the guy who called himself the “sheriff” but put few of the miscreants at MMS under arrest. And Energy Secretary Steven Chu, leading what Obama called “a team of nation’s best scientists and engineers” in combating the spill, even as he ups the estimate of how much is gushing out from the ocean floor: the fishermen of the Gulf probably have views of where he can put his Nobel.

Brown understood the problem on focus: We needed to know about what we were doing about today’s problem and not his legislative agenda. She also pointed what one of Obama’s core problems are and will continue to be:

His reinforcement of a six-month moratorium on deep-sea drilling for safety checks reprised my conviction, that Obama, for all his brilliance, has no real, felt understanding of management structures or of business. Surely it was weirdly trusting of him, when he knew the MMS was corrupt, to start the offshore drilling initiative without those safety guarantees already empirically nailed down. And surely his crack team of sheriffs and admirals and Nobel laureates could now pull some all-nighters and retool the safety measures in a matter of weeks, not months. Senator Mary Landrieu came on Larry King afterwards to point out in her creamy decorous way that the Louisiana oil industry would essentially be dead and buried if it waited that long. But back in the Oval Office, Obama’s conceptual gaze had been turned only on the big picture, the overarching mission, which is the place where he shines.

An academic and intellectual he may be, but a leader he is not. The former is good at expressing themselves, the later in accomplishing goals. Presidents need both and those who don’t need to recognize that he needs help in the area.

The Obama inner circle is filled with hacks and believers. No naysayers among the bunch. Thus the message remains similar in voice, content and focus. His speech writer, Jon Favreau, just turned 29 and has done nothing but work in campaigns during his relatively short professional life. The stump speeches he wrote during the campaign were masterful, but it’s no longer the campaign. And he’ not responsible for content and focus. He just does voice.

There’s been no real demonstrable change in the Obama voice. The extremely talented Favreau’s not been given any new material to work with . He’s Jay Leno’s writer with no current events to use for bits.

That’s ultimately Obama’s fault and his failure to make adjustments serve to justify his detractors. He’ inexperienced. He’s a narcissist. He’s ideologically unyielding. He has no management skills. All those were on display Tuesday night.

We needed the President to do better. Even some of his staunchest defenders know it as well.


This post was written by bobsikes on June 17, 2010

Okaloosa County tells Coast Guard to bite me

Well, not exactly.

But it’s clear that the county is no longer going to wait for the Coast Guard to wade through their own bureaucracy when it comes to making preperations to deal with the oil spill.

Money quote from County Commissioner Wayne Harris:

We’ve played the game. We’re done playing the game,” he said.


But don’t you kind of feel for those Coast Guard officers who are having to meet with local officials and are unable to do anything except talk the company line?

Perhaps the commissioners took Bobby Jindal’s lead and realized that they had to take action.

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This post was written by bobsikes on June 15, 2010

BLACK TIDE: The EPA dempnstrates incompetence, the Obama administration feckless

The EPA instructs BP to switch dispersants, when none are available. The Obama administration was asked to let the Army Corps of Engineers to create another sand barrier, but sits on it’s hands.

Can’t blame this on George Bush.

Quick, Ax! See if Mike Brown is available. Send talking points to media.

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This post was written by bobsikes on May 22, 2010

BLACK TIDE: Louisiana fishing industry response plan

The fishing industry in Louisiana is poised to act to protect and manitain it’s viability.

The collapse of the state’s fishing will have global consequences.

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This post was written by bobsikes on May 22, 2010

BLACK TIDE: Optimism on the Gulf Coast

My hometown paper, the Northwest Florida Daily News, has an editorial that takes a rare look at some of the hopeful signs in clean-up efforts:

One month after the oil rig Deepwater Horizon erupted in flames, unleashing a so-far-unstoppable gusher of crude a mile down in the Gulf of Mexico, there is reason for cautious optimism here in Northwest Florida. Our sandy shore and emerald waters remain unspoiled by oil. There is a chance — perhaps a better chance as each day goes by — that the worst won’t happen

To be fair, the NWFDN is focused on the local coastline. If the spill gets into the loop, it can theaten the Keys and other loactions. Still, alot of good people are working around the clock to fight this tragedy. It’s not good for Louisiana, a state that can hardly take much more. The damage to that particular ecosystem may prove to be incalculable in long-term harm.

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This post was written by bobsikes on May 21, 2010

BLACK TIDE: Like most issue that involve science, we just don’t know

A hopeful word came form the Gulf of Mexico yesterday when it was revealed that BP engineers have been able to ciphon some of the leak through a mile long tube. Oil had been leaking unchecked for three weeks.

Trial and error.

Observe, predict, establish an hypothesis, experiment, asses data.

While some leftward leaning scientists have been saying that the Scientific Method is archaic and should include things such as “cultural differences” and “creativity,” it’s principles are at work in the Gulf. The first evidence actually has come from incorrect hypotheses.

When the rig first blew up and oild oozed into the Gulf at an alarming rate, it was predicted that the slick would hit northern gulf coast beaches within days. Three weeks later …thankfully….it’s still not here. No “consensus” amongst the experts.

But no worries, the Scientific Method allows for hypotheses that aren’t supported by results. Here’s something from yesterday’s AP story:

“A researcher told The Associated Press on Sunday that computer models show the oil may have already seeped into a powerful water stream known as the loop current, which could propel it into the Atlantic Ocean. A boat is being sent next week to collect samples and learn more.

William Hogarth, dean of the University of South Florida’s College of Marine Science, said one model shows oil has already entered the current, while a second shows the oil is 3 miles from it — still dangerously close. The models are based on weather, ocean current and spill data from the U.S. Navy and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, among other sources.

Hogarth said it’s still too early to know what specific amounts of oil will make it to Florida, or what damage it might do to the sensitive Keys or beaches on Florida’s Atlantic coast. He said claims by BP that the oil would be less damaging to the Keys after traveling over hundreds of miles from the spill site were not mollifying.

“This can’t be passed off as ’it’s not going to be a problem.”’ Hogarth said. “This is a very sensitive area. We are concerned with what happens in the Florida Keys.”

Of course we are concerned, but within the reporting is real science at work. Two “models” indicate seperate results “may” occur.

In other words, two seperate hypotheses have generated two seperate results. The scientists did not convey certainty in explaining results. Responsible one’s never do.

No scientific consensus again.

This is a real teachable moment in the manner in which science is reported and how the public absorbs it. The headline will advance the fact that the slick will get into the loop current when the fact of the matter is that scientist just don’t know yet.

Kind of like every other issue in science.

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This post was written by bobsikes on May 17, 2010

BLACK TIDE: Don’t panic and don’t grandstand

My blogging neighbor Royce White penned a useful look at the history of our energy policy and effectively put it in perspective with recent events. White’s message: Don’t panic. Here’s a bit:

“Drill here, drill now. With the recent Gulf oil spill, we should not make the equivalent mistake of stopping the development of our own oil resources just as Carter and the Eco-Warriors stopped Nuclear power. We cannot allow this setback keep us from exploiting our own hydrocarbon resources on land and off shore. We learn from our mistakes, we incorporate the lessons learned and then we press forward. That is The American Way. To do otherwise is to continue to link the economic wellbeing of our country and our sons and daughters lives to protecting the indefensible; Middle Eastern and South American oil despots. We still need oil for the next 50-100 years. Let’s keep the cash in America.

In summary, Republicans, Conservatives and Independents need to make this an issue in 2010 and 2012. Do NOT vote for a politician that does not support a concrete, well thought out energy plan for America.”

White’s entire piece is an important read as it also relates national security issues. If anyone wants to claim pragmatism regarding energy policy, our nation’s security has to be part of the solution.

Moving on a bit to the present, and to the action of today’s politicians.

I’ve grown disillusioned with Marco Rubio, a considerable move away from being a string supporter. His blind support of SB6, his way too strong ties to Jeb Bush and his recent criticism of Arizona’s illegal immigrant bill left me with the feeling he was far too turn measured and not as thougtful as I had hoped. And I’ve been sympathetic to Charlie Crist, his veto of SB6 was the correct thing to do and his detractors were far too indignant for my taste. Crist has had to lead and make decisions such as to take the stimulus money for his economically trouble state. He couldn’t stay on his ultra conservative high horse, stand on ceremony and make shrill calls to turn down the money. Unlike Rubio, he had to make decisions. Not just talk about them.

It’s true that Crist’s necessary high profile leadership regarding the Gulf oil spill will benefit him politically. But his recent call for a special session is grandstanding and not leadership. While Larry Cretul – a shrill detractor of all things Charlie Crist – is the wrong person to criticize Crist, recent events call for opposite of the raw political theatre that this special session will produce.

Oil still leaks from the hulk and we are not entirely sure what happened. Scientist disagree on what will happen next and at best anything any of them say is meerly a hypothesis. We don’t need bloviating politicians right now, but we need our leaders to stay out of the way of the professionals trying to deal with this disaster.

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This post was written by bobsikes on May 12, 2010

BLACK TIDE: Tuesday Morning Updates

BP handing out clean-up contracts.

Walton Couty to use hay, despite what everyone says.

Submarine releases chemical dispersant into spill.

Louisiana wetlands gets 1 ton sandbags to help in defense.

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This post was written by bobsikes on May 11, 2010

BLACK TIDE: Morning Updates

Okaloosa and Walton counties don’t have as many booms available, and have declared a state of emergemcy.

Alabama has a reprive until tomorrow. The booms are out to protect inland waterways and estuaries

Mississippi’s ecologically critical barrier islands are surrounded by booms as the islands are already suffering the effects.

Check out the Times-Picayunes Tweet feed

UPDATE: Govenor Crist will tour the entire area today. Let’s hope the knives of politics don’t slash away at Crist. He’s doing his job and not looking for a photo op.

The first oil containment box is almost completed.

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This post was written by bobsikes on May 4, 2010