Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Oil By Any Other Name

This weekend brought reports that "tarballs" had shown up on Texas beaches. Tarballs. In other words, oil from the BP spill reached all the way to Texas. But the government and the media won't call it oil.

They use softer words: sheen, mousse, tarballs, patches, residue. All instead of the ominous and accurate "oil slick." Why would they do that? Well, the media generally takes its cues from the government and in this case, the government takes it cues from BP.

Look at the Texas case. As soon as reports of oil in Galveston had been made, the National Incident Commander, retired Coast Guard Commander Thad Allen, had his people issue a statement that the oil could not possible have reached Texas beaches via actual water currents. They claimed that it had to have been carried there by boats. Sure. Right. Boats picked up the oil and moved it to Texas. Not the Gulf currents. Not the still unmeasured oil gushing into the Gulf. Boats.

What does that statement tell us? It tells us that Thad Allen still takes his daily instructions from BP.

See, the last thing BP wants is another state to deal with. They (and Thad Allen) don't want the mess to get worse. The government is committed to putting a happy face on it. So not only won't they call it oil, but they also come up with these tortured theories to deny that the oil is spreading quickly and - thanks to the government's inability to stop the dispersant - invisibly underwater.

So they cal it all kinds of names. In Pensacola, the slick just offshore is called a "sheen." Really? In Alabama, it is called "patches of residue." Really? Off the Mississippi coast, it is called "mousse," and "emulsified oil." Seriously?

All of those are softer terms, dreamed up by some PR staff. It is more of the linguistic torment we face daily as our government continues to try to deceive us. The same government/Congress that calls pork barrel spending "an investment."

All of this is born and nurtured in the depths of the entrenched bureaucracy. The same bureaucracy that has existed for multiple administrations. The same folks that can't seem to process a simple claim in a timely manner and require a pile of forms just to get the form needed.

Want more examples of how the bureaucracy has made the oil spill worse than it needed to be?

Right off the top, there is that new oil collecting ship, the "A Whale," in the Gulf. It is a retrofitted tanker designed to collect upwards of 250,000 barrels of oil off the water per day. But it is not collecting anything. Seems that, even though it is fully tested and certified, Coast Guard and EPA are requiring more testing. Testing that requires smooth seas. And smooth seas have not been seen on over a week. So the ship sites relatively idle while petty bureaucrats generate paperwork and otherwise waste time and resources.


Three weeks ago, several oil collecting barges that had been Coast Guard approved were pulled out of service by the Coast Guard so that they could count life vests. You read that right. Oil was not collected so some pathetic bureaucrat could check a box on a from. And when then Admiral Allen was asked, he said he was looking into it.

Looking into it? As I recall, Allen was an admiral. He had the power to put those barges back on the water. Did he? Nope. He deferred to the bureaucracy. As he did with the barrier island project and the oil vacuums and every other item that has come along. It all goes to the bureaucracy. And the bureaucracy has zero interest in moving quickly or efficiently.

Why don't we yet have an accurate measure of the oil flow? Allen has asked BP to put measuring devices down there. Asked - not ordered. Obama formed a group of scientists to estimate the flow rate and they are begging for these instruments to be in place. BP cannot or will not put them there. And Allen says we cannot just do it ourselves. Apparently, in his and Obama's minds, "Commander," actually means requester.

Obviously BP does not want an accurate measure. They will have to pay a fine based on that number. Thus the endless delay of collecting any oil except by BP and their leaky system. And the bureaucracy loves delay.

NOAA spent weeks denying the existence of underwater oil. In fact, it was only a week ago that they admitted it. Why? Because the scientists that kept finding it were not approved to do that research. Then they set the insane standard of "collectible oil." Huh? Is that like collectible mercury? Just how much is collectible? Enough to kill fish or enough to fill a barrel? Well, the bureaucracy at NOAA was not interested in an actual standard.

EPA still has not enforced any standard on dispersant. Even though they ordered it stopped and then limited. Now they say the dispersant dissolves in water. Well, duh! That is on the manufacturer's data sheet. The same data sheet that says this stuff is poison. EPA is testing. Translation - the EPA bureaucrats are avoiding the matter, but spending a lot of time and money doing so.

Volunteers for beach clean up are being turned away by the bureaucrats because they are not certified. Apparently it is OK for them to live with the oil and breathe the fumes without any certifications, but they cannot clean their own beaches without government approval. OSHA bureaucrats are demanding masks and suits for clean up workers, but no such protection for residents who live with it all day every day.

Similarly volunteers for animal rescue are turned away. Again, the bureaucracy wins over expediency. And again, the National Incident Commander defers to the paperwork.

I thought Obama put Allen there to cut through the red tape. Seems not. And why should he? Obama consistently defers to the bureaucracy. Procedure over substance. Perhaps that should be the slogan of this administration. It seems that every single action needed is submitted to the bureaucracy. If you ask me, this president doesn't seem to understand that he can eliminate all of that with a phone call. And he obviously has not given Thad Allen any real authority. Just a cool title and a paycheck. Oh, and of course a bureaucracy of his own.

The endless creaton of newer, softer words for "oil slick," is just another function of Thad Allen and Obama's bureaucracy. An attempt to lessen the need to act quickly and the severity of the problem. It is the application of politically correct linguistics to a disaster that will affect generations. And it is wrong.

This administration should be ashamed of itself. Setting aside all of the other problems and issues, the Gulf Oil Disaster is the measure by which they will be judged. It is this president's major crisis and this president's major failure.

When the final chapters of this disaster are written, the report should be entitled, "Red Tape You Can Believe In."

I am offering shirts with this design and will be sending the profits directly to the Plaquemines Parish Fund that is set up to help the folks most hurt by this mess.

I spoke to the good folks at Plaquemines and I have to say that for people living a horror show, they are some of the nicest and most grateful people you would ever want to talk to.

Please help out and get the message out at the same time.

You can order them here:

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