Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Twisting in the Oil

So, over a month later, the ruptured well in the Gulf continues to spew oil at an unknown rate, slicks are washing onshore in Louisiana, BP turns out to be less honest than your average politician (which is quite the accomplishment), partisan sniping has increased to open assault and the administration looks to be passing the buck in every direction.

In other words, business as usual.

Republicans have taken to using this disaster for political gain by pointing out (validly - more on this below) the failure of the administration to act quickly and decisively. Democrats have taken to using this as an excuse to forward their agenda of no drilling for oil. Both sides now point at each other. Neither side points towards an actual solution or idea. Just using the misery and suffering of an entire coastline for political games.

Here in Florida, candidates from both sides are criticizing Charlie Crist for not doing enough or not doing it fast enough. Oddly, this is incorrect. Charlie got $25 million from BP for tourism when the other states only got $15 million. He has put the National Guard on alert status and ordered them to gear up for a rapid response if any oil approaches Florida.

Candidates from both sides whined that the the BP money did not arrive soon enough - even as it was being wired into the state's accounts. That having proved ineffective, they criticized the actual ads as if any governor ever writes them. The phrase "not doing enough" is commonly pointed at Charlie, but he has done everything possible to prepare. And that is all anyone can do.

In Florida, both parties are far more interested in seeing that Charlie fails at everything just so they can maintain their iron grip on Florida politics and continue to ignore the people. They are more afraid of a fair election based on facts then they are of the oil or hurricanes. And they have proven it by the endless blaming and finger pointing. Neither of the party candidates for governor (both currently in high ranking elective office) has any new or useful ideas. They just have criticisms.

Both parties know one thing for sure - it is safer to do nothing and criticize the other side than to take action and risk being criticized. And in Florida the parties run everything. Solidly. Without any challenge until now.

At the federal level, the volume is even louder and less productive. Congress is now fully engaged in a partisan spitball contest looking to blame someone other than themselves. Republicans point to slow response, little regulation, no enforcement and so on. They are right on some of that stuff, but also guilty of the same thing themselves.

Democrats point to the drilling itself and seek to end offshore drilling with zero regard to the economic havoc that would cause. They also are desperately trying to make this Bush's fault, which is just plain dumb.

And the pundocracy? Well use your imagination. Everything from Palin questioning oil company campaign contributions to the kids at MSNBC avoiding reporting the obvious failure of government to protect the people. Both are hypocritical and totally off base, but they get to be. They have chosen to sit on the sidelines and snark away. And that is why I tend to ignore the pundocracy. They are as the lilies of the field. They toil not, nor do they weep.

Normally, I try to be balanced here. Criticize both parties. But in this case, I have to say, the real heaping mass of criticism and blame goes straight to Obama. It is impossible to find a way to balance that against the Republicans sniping from the sidelines.

One of the major valid criticisms of the Obama administration has been their predilection towards blaming most stuff on the prior administration with the phrase, "We inherited....." For the first thirty days in office, this works, but after that it is just an excuse. Whether it is the economy, wars or any other issue, after a month the previous administration is no longer a good crutch to fall back on.

The Gulf oil mess is one where they have no such excuse.

This entire mess happened on Obama's watch. All off it. And thus far, the response has been tepid, inconsistent and, frankly, poor.

Right off the top, will someone please send Janet Napolitano to a quiet office with no microphones. Her inability to manage this mess is glaring and frightening. Just this week, she pledged that, "...we will not rest until the leak is plugged and all of the oil is cleaned up." Well, that sounds like a forever proposition since nobody will even talk about how much oil there is to clean up. She also told us that BP is taking the lead on this since it is their problem. Wrong. It is BP's fault, but their mess is now everyone's problem.

And why is Homeland Security in the lead here anyway? She is already out of her league with terrorism. Who put her in charge?

The Coast guard admiral on scene told us the situation was in hand. Let's see - an unknown amount of oil in a slick measured in the thousands of square miles, hundreds of feet deep. How is that in anyone's hand? They don't even know the scope of the problem, yet they declare it to be "in hand." Seriously, we are not that stupid.

The cabinet department that should be in charge - Interior led by Ken Salazar - is relegated to a secondary role. Which is odd, since the scandal plagued MMS works for Salazar. Or at least they use his offices. They appear to actually work for the oil companies, based on new reports that they took gift cards, travel and such. Not to mention using government computers to view porn instead of using government computers to view minerals and mining.

Salazar tells us that, "We are keeping our boot on BP's throat." What exactly does that mean? He should be worried about his own employees at MMS who apparently have no boots or throats. Needless to say, the administration is hasty to bring up the earlier MMS scandal during the Bush administration. Well that is just pure nonsense. They had an opportunity to flush the lot of them at MMS and bring in new folks. They did not.

Just like Obama's pre-failed economic team, they stayed with the pre-failed MMS team. No new procedures. No new rules. No new anything. Same old story.

In the meantime, BP has been allowed to try multiple methods to contain the leak rather than being ordered to stop the leak totally. Why would BP try containment first? Well, to keep the well producing of course. Look at the first 3 attempts. All of them resulted in oil coming to the surface for processing and sale. None of those actually plugged the leak. And the administration let that go on.

In fact, over the first 30 days, the administration's major accomplishment has been to get us a live video feed of the leak itself. Big whoop. They got it on TV. All PR, no real substance.

And there is the problem with this administration on this issue - all PR. It is all about the press opportunities. All about the spin. Looking good for the cameras.

Well, to the Gulf coast, it is all about the oil and the destruction. About the end of the fishing industry and the damage to tourism.

To the people, it is about government tending itself first and the people last. We can't vote for president for another 2 years, but come November, we can send a message by simply turning out every single incumbent. All of them. The only way we get a government that listens and cares is to get a totally new one.

In that vein, I am offering T-Shirts with this message.

As a capitalist and a free market person, I am selling them for both profit and with the intent of donating to those candidates that are willing to step outside the parties and declare a concern for the Constitution and the people.

You can order them here:

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