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June 10, 2010

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Fear and Loathing in Georgetown

Answer: No.

A dramatization:

Reporter: VP Palin, what are you doing about the oil spill?

Palin: What oil spill?

Reporter: The one on the front page of all the newspapers. You do read them, right?

Palin: Uh, yeah. Lemme tell you, in a battle between an oil spill and hockey mom, bet on the hockey mom.

Reporter: So, what is the hockey mom going to do?

Palin: Get all mavericky and cut the red tape.

Fear and Loathing in Georgetown

Oh, and immediately after that interchange, she'd resign.

Mrs. Peperium

From The Evening Standard:

Boris Johnson tells Barack Obama: Stop bashing Britain
Nicholas Cecil, Chief Political Correspondent
10.06.10

Senior Tories today warned Barack Obama to back off as billions of pounds were wiped off BP shares in the row over the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Mayor Boris Johnson demanded an end to “anti-British rhetoric, buck-passing and name-calling” after days of scathing criticism directed at BP by the President and other US politicians.

Former Conservative Party chairman Lord Tebbit branded Mr Obama's conduct “despicable”. And with the dispute threatening to escalate into a diplomatic row, Mr Johnson also appeared to suggest that David Cameron should step in to defend BP.

He spoke as the US onslaught against the firm became a “matter of national concern” — especially given its importance to British pensions, which lost much of their value today as BP shares plunged to a 13-year low.

Asked on BBC Radio 4's Today whether he thought the Prime Minister should intervene, Mr Johnson said: “Well I do think there is something slightly worrying about the anti-British rhetoric that seems to be permeating from America. Yes I suppose that's right.

I would like to see cool heads and a bit of calm reflection about how to deal with this problem rather than endlessly buck-passing and name-calling.

“When you consider the huge exposure of British pension funds to BP and its share price, and the vital importance of BP, then I do think it starts to become a matter of national concern if a great UK company is being continually beaten up on the international airwaves.

“OK, it has presided over a catastrophic accident which it is trying to remedy but ultimately it cannot be faulted because it was an accident that took place. BP, I think is paying a very, very heavy price indeed.”

Downing Street steered clear of criticising Mr Obama's conduct but in an apparent reference to concerns over UK pensions highlighted the “broader impact” of the spill and the need to deal with it swiftly. British business chiefs are alarmed that tough talking by Mr Obama and other US politicians is undermining the battered oil giant

BP's shares fell by 12 per cent at one point today on the London market, after hitting their lowest level since 1997 in New York trading overnight, amid intensifying political attacks in the US. Their price dropped to 345p in early London trading before recovering to 370p — still down five per cent.

The slump means the firm's share price has almost halved since the spill started in mid-April, when a well ruptured and the rig exploded, killing 11 workers.

Mr Cameron is due to speak to Mr Obama at the weekend over the issue. Among the President's criticisms of BP was his suggestion that chief executive Tony Hayward would have been axed if he had been working for him.

BP said its latest effort to capture oil from the leak with a cap was now collecting about 15,000 barrels a day....

Mrs. Peperium

From The NYTimes - May 23, 2010:

"Oil industry experts said they did not take seriously the sporadic threats by the administration that the federal government might have to wrest management of the effort to plug the well from BP. The experts said that the Interior and Energy Departments do not have engineers with more experience in deepwater drilling than those who work for BP and the array of companies that have been brought into the effort to stem the leak.

"“It’s worse than politics,”" said Larry Goldstein, a director of the Energy Policy Research Foundation, which is partly financed by the oil industry." “They have had the authority from Day 1. If they could have handled this situation better, they would have already.”"


And from the Heritage Foundation :

Morning Bell: How the White House is Making Oil Recovery Harder

Posted June 10th, 2010 at 9:36am

Five weeks ago Escambia County officials requested permission from the Mobile Unified Command Center to use a sand skimmer, a device pulled behind a tractor that removes oil and tar from the top three feet of sand, to help clean up Pensacola’s beaches. County officials still haven’t heard anything back. Santa Rosa Island Authority Buck Lee told The Daily Caller why: “Escambia County sends a request to the Mobile, Ala., Unified Command Center. Then, it’s reviewed by BP, the federal government, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Coast Guard. If they don’t like it, they don’t tell us anything.”

Keeping local governments in the dark is just one reason why the frustration of residents in the Gulf is so palpable. State and local governments know their geography, people, economic impacts and needs far better than the federal government does. Contrary to popular belief, the federal government has actually been playing a bigger and bigger role in running natural disaster responses. And as Heritage fellow Matt Mayer has documented, the results have gotten worse, not better.

And when the federal government isn’t sapping the initiative and expertise of local governments, it has been preventing foreign governments from helping. Just three days after the Deepwater Horizon explosion, the Dutch government offered to provide ships outfitted with oil-skimming booms and proposed a plan for building sand barriers to protect sensitive marshlands. *LA Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) supported the idea, but the Obama administration refused the help.* *All told, thirteen countries have offered to help us clean up the Gulf, and the Obama administration has turned them all down.*

According to one Dutch newspaper, European firms could complete the oil spill clean up by themselves in just four months, and three months if they work with the United States, which is much faster than the estimated nine months it would take the Obama administration to go it alone. The major stumbling block is a protectionist piece of legislation called the Jones Act which requires that all goods transported by water between U.S. ports be carried in U.S.-flag ships, constructed in the United States, owned by U.S. citizens, and crewed by U.S. citizens. *But in an emergency this law can be temporarily waived as DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff did after Katrina.* Each day our European allies are prevented from helping us speed up the clean up is another day that Gulf fishing and tourism jobs die.

And then there are the energy jobs that the Obama administration is killing with its over-expansive ban on offshore energy development. Experts–who were consulted by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar before he issued his May 27 report recommending a six-month moratorium on all ongoing drilling in waters deeper than 500 feet–now tell The New Orleans Times-Picayune that they only supported a six-month ban on new drilling in waters deeper than 1,000 feet. A letter from the experts protesting the use of their names to support a ban they actually oppose reads: “A blanket moratorium is not the answer. It will not measurably reduce risk further and it will have a lasting impact on the nation’s economy which may be greater than that of the oil spill. We do not believe punishing the innocent is the right thing to do.”

And just how many innocent jobs is Obama’s oil ban killing? An earlier Times-Picayune report estimated the moratorium could cost Louisiana $2.97 billion in revenue and 7,590 jobs directly related to the oil industry. President Obama still has the power to save many of the jobs. He could reverse his decision and lift the ban. But political considerations make that impossible. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the President was the largest single recipient of campaign contributions from BP and its employees over the past twenty years. Therefore, the President has to put distance between himself and BP, which may be why President Obama has not spoken with BP CEO Tony Hayward one single time since the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded in April. The problem is, vilifying BP’s corporate leadership does nothing to stop the spill or quicken the cleanup.

After the Obama administration refused help from the Netherlands, Geert Visser, the consul general for the Netherlands in Houston, told Loren Steffy: “Let’s forget about politics; let’s get it done.” It’s sound advice, Mr. President. Let’s free local governments to clean up their shores, waive protectionist laws that keep out foreign help, and let the oil workers who can safely do so get back to work. Let’s get it done.


Mrs. Peperium

From David Warren:

We are inept


My sermon today will be on "incompetence." Perhaps I should begin by confessing, that when I typed the word at the top of my laptop screen, it came out "incmopetence." (There are reasons I never became a concert pianist.)

It is a little-known fact, or else a well-known fact little acknowledged, that apart from earthquakes, volcanoes, tornadoes, meteor showers, and other disturbing acts of nature, human malice is not at the root of all human suffering. Much of it is caused by human incompetence, or as the incompetent like to call it, "bad luck."

That BP blowout in the Gulf of Mexico, for instance. Everything we learn about it adds to an impression of general ineptitude, beginning on the drilling platform that burned and sank, and working back in multiple directions through company management, and regulatory authorities that signed off on every move.

Newspaper columnists are obliged to flag current events; and this example will do as well as any other. For while I have no expertise in deep-sea drilling myself -- never once tried it -- the people I've met who have at least some, assure me that what happened aboard Deepwater Horizon was not exactly unprecedented.

They remember, for instance, the Alpha Piper blowout in the North Sea, a generation ago. In that case, the magnificently incompetent act was a design oversight: locating the control room next to the gas compression unit, without a blast wall between. This meant that all the men who could give emergency evacuation orders would be killed in the first moment of the crisis. But marks were also awarded to the crews of two connected platforms, who, in the absence of orders to desist, continued pumping gas and oil into Alpha Piper when they could see it was on fire.

In the case of Deepwater Horizon, we learn that the rig was functioning under a trainee manager, and from other details that, practically speaking, no one was in charge.

One's propensity to make jokes is somewhat deflected by the thought of all the men who were killed, in both cases. For both directly and indirectly, individually and "systemically," human stupidity is among the leading proximate causes of human mortality.

Politicians try to pass laws against it; to create rules and regulations so complex and cumbersome that (as we saw in the BP disaster) an easily-corrupted "judgement call" bureaucracy must grant exemptions from them, in order for anything to function at all. When disaster strikes, they add more rules and regulations.

But more profoundly, the rules and regulations -- once they pass a point of irreducible complexity -- create a mindset in which those who should be thinking about safety are instead focused on rules and regulations. To those who see danger, the glib answer comes, citing all the safety standards that have been diligently observed.

From what we already know, this appears to be exactly what happened aboard Deepwater Horizon, and will not be rectified by the U.S. government's latest, very political decision, to use means both fair and foul to prosecute British Petroleum, and punish the rest of the oil industry for its mistakes.

Let me mention in passing that President Barack Obama was in no way responsible for the catastrophe, and that there is nothing he can do about it. He is being held to blame for "inaction," as wrongly as his predecessor was held to blame over Hurricane Katrina, by media and public unable to cope with the proposition that, "Stuff happens."

In a sense, Obama is hoist on his own petard. The man who blames Bush for everything now finds there are some things presidents cannot do. More deeply, the opposition party that persuades the public government can solve all their problems, discovers once in power there are problems their government cannot solve.

Alas, it will take more time than they have to learn the next lesson: that governments which try to solve the insoluble, more or less invariably, make each problem worse.

I like to dwell on the wisdom of our ancestors. It took us millennia to emerge from the primitive notion that a malignant agency must lie behind every unfortunate experience. Indeed, the Catholic Church spent centuries fighting folk pagan beliefs in things like evil fairies, and the whole notion the Devil can compel any person to act against his will -- only to watch an explosion of witch-hunting and related popular hysterias at the time of the Reformation.

In so many ways, the trend of post-Christian society today is back to pagan superstitions: to the belief that malice lies behind every misfortune, and to the related idea that various, essentially pagan charms can be used to ward off that to which all flesh is heir. The belief that, for instance, laws can be passed, that change the entire order of nature, is among the most irrational of these.

Sheer human stupidity is the cause of any number of human catastrophes -- including the stupidity of superstition itself. We need to re-embrace this concept; to hug the native incompetence within ourselves, and begin forgiving it in others.

Mrs. Peperium

From The Guardian today:

"The political and financial pressure on BP escalated sharply yesterday as the US government demanded compensation for thousands of oil industry workers laid off as a result of a freeze on drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. The demand sent the company's shares plummeting on Wall Street amid worries over long-term survival prospects.

"In an unexpected addition to BP's already huge liabilities from America's worst ever oil spill, the White House said it would press the company to pay the salaries of staff laid off as a result of a six-month moratorium imposed by the Obama administration on exploration activity in the Gulf. The freeze means a halt to work on 33 existing oil rigs, affecting thousands of jobs."

.......

President Obama imposes a six-month moratorium on all ongoing drilling in waters deeper than 500 feet. Then he demands BP pay the salaries -which would be in the millions of dollars-- of all the laid-off workers - workers of companies other than BP. Obama shuts down oil drilling then tells BP they are responsible.

Why, in his mind, should they be responsible? To offset the political cost of his moratorium.

The numbers of workers affected number in the 1000s and would show up on the unemployment figures for 6 months. If BP pays their salaries - they aren't on the unemployment charts, especially during the upcoming November elections.

By the way, did Obama shut down all the coal mines in April after that explosion that killed how many?

Fear and Loathing in Georgetown

Mrs. P:

Let's say I grant Obama in an incompetent buffon. Nothing you've offered explains why Sarah Palin isn't a bigger one, which she is and I wish conservatives would all realize.

Mrs. Peperium

I'm undecided as to whether Obama is an incompetent buffoon. Jerk? Most definitely. Comical? Even more so. But incompetent buffoon? Not so sure. Especially with the oil disaster and even his Daddy-did-you-plug-the-hole-yet Algore like moment. (Algore always used his family to his advantage -- think his son's illness, his sister's cancer, his father's salve leg irons and most of all "The Kiss") My thoughts run more along the line he understood from Day 1 the political reality --he was in no way responsible for this disaster. And that if it was managed correctly by his Administration, he could rally the support he needs for the passing of Cap and Trade. Problem is, he hasn't managed it correctly to achieve his goal and now public opinion is seeing him as part of the problem. So he's looking for ass to kick and making ridiculous demands upon BP. Off-shore oil drilling has to be one of the most heavily regulated industries in America and he's more than hinting BP is criminally negligible, before we know exactly what happened. Then there's the moratorium and demands for BP to pay all the laid off workers - that's not incompetence or buffoonery - more like some cosmic cocktail of arrogance, preening and self-defense.

I think a VP Sarah Palin, who had actual prior executive experience in dealing with oil companies , would have approached this disaster in an entirely different way. First thing -- no moratorium on all deep water drilling is probably a safe bet. But more than that, I think she would have gotten out there Day 1 preparing the country to the reality that this is going to be a huge disaster -- a disaster the Federal Gov has a clearly defined role in and she would have gone down there for the photo opt much sooner as well as gotten with the local governments to see what the Feds needed to do for them.

Would the Gulf look any way different today if VP Sarah Palin was on the job? Don't know if that can ever be figured out. But the public perception of the federal government's role in this disaster may be very different than the current one.

And in politics, it's all about perception. Obama knows this better than anyone. He was elected on perceptions.

Old Dominion Tory

Answer: Yes. And she'd look good doing it.

Old Dominion Tory

What Obama is enduring right now is that moment when the air of omnipotence and omniscience that Presidents always hope to have about them is revealed to have two edges.
It's all hearts and flowers when times are good. I well remember Democrats claiming that Bill Clinton "gave" us the economic boom of the 1990s. Just like that, out of the goodness of his heart. No nod to the creativity, drive, and energy of American businessmen and workers: it was all Bill's doing.
Truly, what has been fostered in so many ways is a cult of government. We are encouraged to think that the federal government can and should do just about anything, any time, anywhere. State governments, for example, look to Washington to bail them out various messes (post-Katrina Louisiana) and underwrite their fiscal foolishness. Here, in my corner of the world, some people have written to our Congressman about a brouhaha at our local library. If anything good happens, the denizens of Potomac Village hasten to take at least some of the credit.
For Obama, the expectations were heightened because he was pumped up by the news media. He was cool, competent, unflappable, just plain wonderful.
Now, there is a grave problem, and many people are demanding not just action, but action beyond the capability of any one person or group of people or organizations. They are demanding that the reality meets the expectations.
Doubtless, many in the White House and the Administration are frustrated by this response. Rightly, they think that the expectations evident in the call to action are unreasonable.
Alas, I can have only a limited amount of sympathy for them, for, indeed, these people had no small part in creating the chimera that the federal government is omniscient and omnipotent and that the President is the same.
Put another way: live by the sword, die by the sword.

Mrs. Peperium

Very well said ODT. Did you catch this one? It goes back to the notion of how comical O really is -- From Wash. Ex.:

"After spending two years on the campaign trail and more than another year as President talking about “green jobs,” the Obama team has decided to take a significant step forward. They’re now asking for imput from the general public in order to figure out what they hell they’ve meant for the past three years:

"Buried deep inside a federal newsletter on March 16 was something called a “notice of solicitation of comments” from the Bureau of Labor Statistics at the Department of Labor.

“BLS is responsible for developing and implementing the collection of new data on green jobs,” said the note in the Federal Register, which is widely read by government bureaucrats and almost never seen by the general public. But the notice said there is “no widely accepted standard definition of ‘green jobs.’” To help find that definition, the Labor Department asked that readers send in suggestions.

"The notice came only after the department scoured studies from government, academia, and business in search of a definition. “The common thread through the studies and discussions is that green jobs are jobs related to preserving or restoring the environment,” the notice said. Duh! Beyond that, a precise definition has eluded Labor Department officials.

"Before he left the administration, Van Jones ran an entire office dedicated to “green jobs.” Didn’t anyone think to define that term before creating the office of Special Advisor for Green Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation? After three years of blathering about how these “green jobs” would create a vast expansion of the American economy, now we find out that no one in the White House can actually identify what a “green job” is?

"That’s not going to help reverse the image of incompetence Barack Obama is manufacturing for himself at the White House these days.

[THIS NEXT BIT IS I THINK THE REAL TRUTH, AS TO DEFINE GREEN JOBS PLACES LIMITS ON THEM. LIMITS THAT MIGHT BE TOO LIMITING IN TERMS OF FUTURE POWER GRABS.- MRS. P]

"Of course, it may not be just incompetence at work here. It appears that no one can define a “green job,” *or wants to define it*. That’s a pretty good indication that the term itself is meaningless and has no use at all in policymaking.

"When alternative energy sources succeed in efficiently producing energy in mass quantities at a price point that competes with other energy sources, the industry will create plenty of jobs, and no one will care whether they’re green, purple, polka-dotted, or striped. Right now, the best definition of a “green job” is one that taxpayers have to sink tons of green into creating with little return of green for their trouble."

Mrs. Peperium

OOPS! That came from Hotair not the Wash. Ex. as the profanity suggests. Byron York over at WaEx has more.

The WaEx also has the news that O's idea to force BP to pay the salaries for all the 1000's of laid off workers requires congressional approval....

The Dems in congress must have be so delighted to learn this....

Old Dominion Tory

Evidence is strong that political decisions made in anger--even the transparently fake, contrived anger that the President is trying to project (to great detriment of the dignity of the office)--usually end up in extremely bad legislation.

coach purses

Health is the best treasure (which) a man can possess. Money can do many things, but it cannot buy happiness. However, so long as man has good health, he can enjoy the pleasures of human life.

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