No One Can Anticipate Anything
Rachel Maddow states the depressingly obvious about the shooting in Arizona:
It is hard for anybody to find the words to express the horror and the anger and the grief that are the only rational responses to massacres like this. But the one thing that events like this are not, in America, now, is inconceivable or unimaginable.
Meaning, of course, that “inconceivable,” “unimaginable” tragedies actually happen all the time, because we can’t – or won’t – stop them. We still have permissive gun laws that make it easy to obtain guns (and extra-large ammo clips) and carry them around everywhere, and we have a conservative movement that revels in its inflammatory language of revolution and murder.
Seemingly unrelated, Bob Graham is busy stating the depressingly obvious too:
With few exceptions, there has been a culture of complacency around safety issues within the oil and gas industry. This can be traced back to the wildcatter — the man who single-handedly brought in the oil wells of the American Southwest. The casualty in this Wild West culture has been safety.
Government regulation has been woefully underfunded, sometimes incompetent and often characterized by a cozy — literally and figuratively — relationship with the industry it is supposed to regulate. This situation has contributed to a pattern of industrial accidents that are among the highest in the world’s oil- and gas-extracting nations.
Multiple failures on the Deepwater Horizon cascaded into the explosion on the rig: At least nine human and mechanical failures, oversights and misinterpretations led to the disaster. This was not an act of nature; it was a completely preventable human tragedy.
Of course, conservatives sought to portray the Deepwater Horizon blowout as a completely random accident out of the blue, rather than the horrific result of fundamental systemic and cultural failures within BP and the US government.
What do these two tragedies have in common, aside from the right’s keen desire to minimize their significance? Not only were they not unpredictable or “unimaginable,” they were inevitable. As I wrote last May:
[T]he disasters we have now aren’t caused by perfect storms of outside forces and godawful presidents, they’re the inevitable consequence of decades of systemic rot in our regulatory structure – rot paid for greedy, reckless corporations and delivered by corrupt, irresponsible politicians.
If Wall Street’s derivatives scam hadn’t blown up in 2008, it would have blown up in 2009, or 2010. If the Upper Big Branch mine hadn’t collapsed, some other safety-last mine would have (and, in fact, did). And if the Deepwater Horizon hadn’t blown up as a result of cutting corners on construction and testing, some other shoddily constructed offshore rig would have. Because the industries responsible pushed as hard as they could for the freedom to make catastrophic mistakes, and got it. The bad apples got themselves put in charge of the orchard.
It wasn’t hard for us Cassandras of the left to predict that Guns + Eliminationism = Death, or that flouting, crippling and rolling back regulations designed to prevent disasters would result in… disasters. Financial meltdowns, tainted food and drugs, deadly accidents, shootings, shootings and more shootings. Like that most famous of ignored warnings, “Bin Laden Determined To Strike In US,” the only part we couldn’t predict exactly was the where and when.
We even predicted that repeatedly betraying the progressive base and passing ineffective (or worse) stimulus, health care and financial reform bills would lead to political disaster for Obama and the Democrats, and we were right about that too. But because listening to us would mean taking on wealthy corporations, fanatical conservative orgs, and the shrieking hydra of the right-wing media, the people who supposedly represent us willfully ignore our warnings – because money and intimidation trump responsible governance every time.
Right now we’re trying to warn everybody that the catfood commission’s plan to “shore up” Social Security is actually intended to cripple it, and even the CIA has joined us in warning that climate change is determined to strike in the US (and everywhere else). Let’s see if anyone wants to listen this time, or if they’d rather be surprised again.