Sunday, June 13, 2010

Learning as we go...

On Tuesday night, President Barack Obama will speak to the American people about the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico – nearly two months after BP’s Deepwater Horizon blew-up unleashing the worst ecological disaster in U.S. history.

According to the NY Times, “President Obama will use his first Oval Office speech Tuesday night to outline a plan to legally compel BP to create an escrow account to compensate businesses and individuals for their losses from the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, administration officials said on Sunday.

Here comes the speech - nearly two months later...

“President Barack Obama's upcoming schedule makes clear he is almost entirely focused on the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, but the president is forging ahead with a full legislative agenda,” according to a report by The Hill. “Aides to the president say Obama is able to "chew gum and walk at the same time," but the spill has clearly become the top issue at the White House as Obama will spend two days in the Gulf this week before addressing the nation on Tuesday and meeting with BP officials on Wednesday. To be sure, the president has given a few talks to the people and the press, but this will be the first speech of this magnitude – nearly two months after the disaster began.”

Deepwater Horizon - nearly two months ago...

During the nearly two months since the catastrophe ensued, we’ve learned a great deal about what has and hasn’t been done – mostly what hasn’t:

As essayist David Warren points out, “We learned a simple thing this week: that the BP clean-up effort in the Gulf of Mexico is hampered by the Jones Act. This is a piece of 1920s protectionist legislation, that requires all vessels working in U.S. waters to be American-built, and American-crewed. So while, for instance, the U.S. Coast Guard can accept such help as three kilometres of containment boom from Canada, they can’t accept, and therefore don’t ask for, the assistance of high-tech European vessels specifically designed for the task in hand. This is amusing, in a way: a memorable illustration of … the sort of stuff I keep going on about. Which is to say, the law of unintended consequences, which pertains with especial virulence to all acts of government regulation.”

  • We know that administration officials got tough with BP, “[ripping] ripped up BP's plans for increasing the amount of oil being captured from the leaking well, saying they were insufficient. The company was given a 48-hour deadline, due to expire last night, to come up with plans that would capture more of the oil, which is still leaking at a rate of 30,000 barrels a day.” (Just so you know, the deadline came and went…)
  • We learned that all of this is really someone else’s fault.
  • We found out that “according to the Center for Responsive Politics and financial disclosures, over the last twenty years of oil-giant BP’s political action committee, the largest recipient has been President Obama.”
  • We’ve learned that when it comes to the opinions of celebrities, media and assorted hacks, the overriding tack is, “Hear no evil, speak no evil…”
  • We know Interior Secretary Ken Salazar falsified a report by experts in order to have a moratorium on offshore drilling put in place.

The tragedy continues to unfold...

Closing quote: "Even though I'm president of the United States, my power is not limitless. So I can't dive down there and plug the hole. I can't suck it up with a straw." -- President Obama, quoted by the Washington Post, on the BP oil spill in the Gulf.

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