Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Barack Obama apparently doesn't know it . . .

. . . but he is in fact president of the United States. photographs of dead and dying oil-soaked animals are at last appearing widely in the corporate media, but for weeks now reporters have been blocked from fouled areas of coastline by police who claimed to be taking their orders from BP and the Coast Guard. I understand that Coast Guard officials have denied issuing such orders, but it is implausible that local police would have taken orders from BP if someone -- whether the Coast Guard or Bobby Jindal -- hadn't told them to, and the federal government didn't do anything about it.

"I'd like my life back."

Now we learn that the federal government in fact had the video which BP withheld from the public, showing the true magnitude of the gusher, for 20 days before it was finally released, during which time BP persevered in the lie that the flow rate was only 5,000 bbl/day. As the Center for Public Integrity tells us in the above-linked post, "U.S. Coast Guard incident logs show that within hours of an explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon, officials were warning of a massive spill and attempting to repair malfunctioning equipment — events missing from the White House's official timeline." And more on this from ABC. Also, from WaPo, "Last week, [reporter] Jackson was also unable to book a flight over Grand Isle from a charter plane company in Belle Chasse, La., because the owner could not obtain permission from BP's command center to enter restricted airspace. BP, the Federal Aviation Administration and the Coast Guard were refusing access to planes carrying media . . . " Apparently they have now changed this policy, but the bottom line is, BP was in control of Gulf air space for more than a month, with the collusion of two entirely separate federal agencies.

I obviously don't think that Obama should have taken personal responsibility for sealing the well -- only BP can do that -- but he should have taken command of the scene and made sure that the people learned the truth, and that reporters and stakeholders had access to the affected wetlands.

While the truth about the destruction of the Mississippi delta is finally coming out, I must say I was very disappointed in Rachel Maddow last night. She spent almost her entire program complaining that the oil companies hadn't invested enough in cleanup technology. The essential issue here is not that we haven't invented magical ways of cleaning up undersea well blowouts -- it's that we should not be drilling for oil a mile under the sea in the first place. As Andrew Revkin points out, the entire reservoir into which the Deepwater Horizon drilled is estimated to contain the amount of petroleum the United States consumes in 5 days. Instead of spending billions of dollars and risking catastrophe for 5 days worth of oil, cleanup technology or no, we have to stop using it.

That's not the lesson Bobby Jindal has learned, however. He's furious at Obama for declaring a moratorium on offshore drilling and he wants to get back to it yesterday.

He's probably insane, but on the other hand, it's easy to see why any politician in Louisiana would be likely to take this position. Americans are hurting, badly, from the worst job market since the Great Depression. "According to the BLS, there are a record 6.763 million workers who have been unemployed for more than 26 weeks (and still want a job). This is a record 4.38% of the civilian workforce. (note: records started in 1948). It does appear the increases are slowing ... " "President" Obama doesn't appear to have noticed this either.

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