Home > Uncategorized > Obama’s Katrina, or More Correctly, Obama’s Gulf of Tonkin

Obama’s Katrina, or More Correctly, Obama’s Gulf of Tonkin

The Obama administration has been spectacularly impotent in regards to the oil spill in the gulf. Fifty days in, and the oil is still spewing forth. It took that seven weeks for the Corps of Engineers to allow Louisiana to build barrier islands to forestall the landing of oil on the beaches of that state. The commander of the COE? Barack Obama.  The Department of Homeland Security waited to declare that the incident was “a spill of national significance,” only after the estimate of the size of the spill was increased to 5,000 barrels a day. It took weeks for Obama to work his way down to visit the affected areas.  It took the president nine days to even address the tragedy and 12 days to allocate federal resources. Only after polls indicated that the American public wanted an emotional response from the president did the anointed one demand information on “whose ass to kick.”

Putting aside for a moment the vulgarity of the president, let’s see if we can’t find an ass or two for him.

How about Adm. Thad W. Allen, the commandant of the Coast Guard?  Admiral Allen said that he agreed the situation was catastrophic and could continue to unfold for up to three months, but he said he remained satisfied with his team’s response, saying that even if it had initially known that the leak was 5,000 barrels a day, the response would have been the same. The administration’s response, you remember, has been to let BP handle it.

How about the administration officials who issued the drilling permit to BP? The administration officials who gave the platform operators an exception to the requirement for some safety devices? The same administrators who operated a revolving door between oil companies and the government, allowing people, money, and jobs to rotate between the two, even in the face of Obama’s pledge of an ethical and transparent government that wouldn’t employ lobbyists to regulate the industries they lobbied for?

Since we’re discussing ethics in the Obama administration, how about Rahm Emmanuel?  PR firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner “helped BP plan and evaluate its successful re-branding campaign, focusing the company’s branding on energy solutions, including the development of solar and other renewable energy sources.” The firm’s Stanley Greenberg is married to Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Ct.  Last year, it was reported that White house Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel had been living in the couple’s Capitol Hill townhouse, resulting in a lot of questions about whether or not this arrangement violated congressional ethical guidelines. Further, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee paid Greenberg’s firm some $500,000 in 2006 and 2008 while Emanuel was living with Greenberg, and Emanuel was even in charge of the DCCC during the 2006 election cycle.  We all know Obama was the biggest recipient of BP’s campaign cash in Washington, but it seems BP’s ties to the White House run even deeper.

How deep? Among its many lobbying and public relations efforts, BP is working with the Brunswick Group to craft its public response to the spill. Brunswick employs political and congressional veterans including Hilary Rosen, a former Democratic congressional aide; Anthony Coley and David Sutphen, former aides to the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass. BP’s Washington lobbyists include Tony Podesta, a prolific Democratic fundraiser and brother to John Podesta, who headed Obama’s transition team. Tony Podesta appears at least seven times in visitor logs released by the Obama White House.  The White House confirmed that BP lobbyists have been to the White House complex. Other BP lobbyists include Jim Turner, a former House Democrat from Texas now with the Arnold & Porter firm and Michael Berman, a former Democratic Senate aide and party adviser.

BP has also had several Washington insiders on a company advisory council, including former Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle and former Clinton White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta. The company also counts current and former employees on at least three federal advisory panels, including, ironically, the National Petroleum Council.

How about kicking his own ass? It has been revealed that the US Department of the Interior intentionally misrepresented the results of a recent survey of the spill by federal scientists in an attempt to minimize the scope of the disaster.

Last week the Interior Department released a statement to the press with a new estimate placing the amount of oil leaking into the Gulf at 12,000 to 19,000 barrels per day. The numbers came from a survey conducted by the National Incident Command’s Flow Rate Technical Group, a team consisting of government scientists and representatives from universities across the US. The White House stood by the new estimates and BP executive Robert Dudley appeared on national television to promote them.

In reality, the scientists conducting the survey reported this estimate only reflected the “lower bounds” of their findings, meaning that the numbers represented the very least possible amount of oil flowing into the Gulf. The National Incident Command scientists had not yet arrived at an estimate for the “upper bounds” when the Interior Department released its statement and the scientists say the upper estimate could be “significantly larger.” The Interior press release declared the estimate of 12,000 to 19,000 barrels represented “the lower and upper boundaries” of the study, meaning no more than 19,000 barrels of oil were spilling into the Gulf each day. Eugene Chiang, a professor of astrophysics at the University of California, Berkeley, found the size of the spill could be as large as 100,000 barrels per day.

Is it really any wonder that Obama hasn’t been tougher on BP, or more proactive on the cleanup efforts? In spite of his campaign proclamations to the contrary, the ethics of this administration leave a lot to be desired.

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