Monday, June 14, 2010

Like Oil And Water

It seems that the on-going flood of oil from the Gulf floor (again, this is not a spill; this is an on-going leak) has awakened some people to the thought that, hey, the federal government might actually have a role in doing stuff. Except, of course, in this case, what might that be?

Beyond its advisory role with with the states via the Army Corps of Engineers (Louisiana sand berms) and the Coast Guard (dealing both with BP and various states on setting up booms), what is it, exactly, these folks want the federal government to do? Nationalize BP, which is, you know, short for British Petroleum? Use capital it does not possess and expertise it does not have to take over capping the leak? While I still think BP's performance has been horrible, and their plans for mitigating any potential disaster amounts to nothing more than tinker-toys and duct tape, getting mad at the feds, especially the person and office of the President, makes no sense.

I heard a story on NPR this morning concerning what is happening on a barrier island off Pensecola, FL. Residents and even the county commissioner were mad as hell and weren't going to take it anymore. Except, of course, the anger, while certainly understandable, makes no sense. The county commissioner stated that the estimates he was given by the federal government were wrong. Last time I checked, those estimates were actually supplied to the feds by BP. So . . . how is this the President's fault? The oil isn't from a leak caused by the federal government; BP has been neither transparent nor honest from the get-go about the amount of oil leaking out of the sea floor, or its efforts to stop the leak, and there are indications that its successful efforts to put a cap on part of the leak have actually created a situation where more oil is spilling out rather than less.

Again, I have to ask all those people who are demanding the President, or the federal government, "DO SOMETHING!!!" to spell out, exactly, what that might be. Today he visited, for the fourth time, the Gulf Coast. Tomorrow night, he is giving an address to the nation. Those agencies that have relevant expertise as well as legal jurisdiction have been involved from the get-go. Beyond that, the issue isn't federal inaction. The issue is BP's lack of any serious fallback in case of just such a disaster as continues a mile below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico.

Pres. Obama is not someone given to symbolic gestures, photo-ops, or soundbites. While certainly deeply distressed over the situation - he is asked about it every single day, several times, and repeats over and over again that he and his Administration are, quite literally, doing everything they can within the limits of the law - my guess is he is even more frustrated by the fact that a whole lot of people (the press, some parts of the public) are turning to him and saying, in effect, "Make it better." He can't make it better, and it isn't his responsibility to make it better. Even if he were to have the justice department pursue legal action against BP, at this juncture that would be counter-productive.

So, if anyone out there thinks Obama should be "doing more", I am open to suggestions, in particular from those people who, up until a few weeks ago, thought the President was on the verge of marching them to concentration camps because he is a budding dictator, and who also believed that the secret pact between communists and environmentalists was poised to destroy our economy only now, they weep crocodile tears over the environmental disaster going on in the Gulf. Please, I am really curious.

As the crickets chirp, I won't hold my breath.

Virtual Tin Cup

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