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Dealing with the Oil Spill the Liberal Way

June 28, 2010

Personally I am absolutely astonished that President Obama, the consummate leftist that he is, is allowing his public standing to be denigrated by not taking decisive action to solve the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico the way liberals deal with all issues presented to them. And by that I mean that I am amazed that he has not simply issued a piece of paper with his signature on it proclaiming the spill cleaned up and the crisis over. You know, just like liberals do with almost everything else.

Health insurance rates and coverage a problem? Nope! Just sign a law, unconstitutional as it may be, to fix it. Well, not really fix it, but at least proclaim it fixed and hope everyone believes it. The economy faltering after years of bad policies that encouraged banks to make bad loans to bad candidates or have their businesses threatened? That's OK, just get a piece of paper promising billions of dollars for nebulous and ill defined things to create a few thousand very temporary jobs and deem the whole thing fixed.

But just because President Obama has not acted in the preferred method that liberals chose whenever a crisis, real or concocted, arises it does not mean that he hasn’t dipped into the liberal bag of tricks with regards to the Gulf oil spill. After weeks of diddling, claiming that he and his administration were large and in charge, blaming BP for everything despite claiming that it was he and his administration that was in charge and finding every excuse in the world to get in the way of private companies and even foreign countries who had offered to help clean up the mess, and even standing in the way of State governments trying desperately to deal with the problem, President Obama finally decided to put his boot down.

He summoned BP to the White House and told them how things were going to be. This included getting BP to set up a $20 billion dollar fund to help sort out claims and costs of the clean up. Boy, that President of ours sure is swell, huh? Now he is touting how he, and he alone, was able to make BP responsible financially for this mess. However, did you know that President Obama is not as all-powerful as he wants you to believe?

The truth is that BP was already liable for the spill under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990. Under this act, passed before President Obama ever entered national office, BP was already liable fully for the containment and cleanup costs. Even so President Obama now wants America to believe that only by his grace is BP being held accountable.

BP should bear the cost of this disaster just in case any of you are thinking that I am going to defend that company and suggest that they should not be paying hand over fist the costs of the remediation and all legitimate claims of harm. But let us also remember that it was President Obama who refused to waive the Jones Act which prohibited foreign countries who offered help with advanced oil recovery technologies from sending vessels equipped to help the situation too. Then there is the fiasco over the fact that despite a 1994 plan requiring the government to use fire booms to contain and then burn the spill not a single such boom was in place to be used. This was all pre-approved but not done making everything worse. And then on top of that it took more than two weeks for approval to be granted for Louisiana to pile sand on the beaches to act as a barrier against the oil washing ashore. Two weeks! Why? Because bureaucrats needed to study the plan? My gosh, only a person with his head firmly up his posterior orifice would be doing so much to prevent further damage. Oh and let us not forget the Coast Guard mysteriously deciding that they had to inspect the skimmer barges and pull them out of service causing Governor Jindal to blow a gasket and get the story widely known that even more obstruction was occurring.

Meanwhile President Obama and his sycophants crow about how he is handling the situation and holding BP accountable. Yeah, the Great and Powerful Obama has spoken! His will be done! Even though the Oil Pollution Act, while it spells out BP’s liability, also directs the President to be helpful and not hinder efforts which this administration has clearly done. The law states:

“The President shall, in accordance with the National Contingency Plan and any appropriate Area Contingency Plan, ensure effective and immediate removal of a discharge, and mitigation or prevention of a substantial threat of a discharge, of oil or a hazardous substance ...”

But far from “ensuring effective and immediate removal of a discharge,” President Obama is getting the executive branch in the way. And when he is not getting in the way he is busy not doing pre-approved actions.

Now we are in a muddled mess because of this. BP is liable but the federal government has not been as helpful as it should have been, and is required to be by law, thus exacerbating the situation and causing damages to mount. President Obama summons the oil company to his left hand and coerces them into setting up a fund and exceeds his role as the Chief Executive of the federal government and acts like a Judge while assuming a role of the Judicial Branch by declaring BP’s liability to pay claims and how it shall be done.

We have actual courts for this and yes, while I realize that taking BP to court to recover damages is time consuming there is a reason for the process. That reason is so that by using the courts the awards are not arbitrary and based on claims that have not been vetted for their veracity. When mandates are made outside of the legal process invariably fraud and abuse skyrocket and money gets awarded where it should not be and for harms not real or at best exaggerated. Meanwhile that leaves less money to pay real claims. As individual citizens we certainly would not stand for our local Mayor deciding that we were liable for large sums of money to another resident of the same town simply because the claim that he was owed it from us was made, would we? Heck no, and we should not tolerate it from our President either.

The courts are there to make people whole from suffering when their rights are being trampled by the actions of others. Circumventing that process violates a great deal of precepts of justice and puts America closer to a Latin American Banana Republic than a Constitutional one.

Meanwhile the oil still spills and States in the path of the slick fret about what is to come. My prediction as to what will be coming? More diddling, more finger pointing and more covering up for that diddling from the highest places within our government. We seem more worried about dragging BP up on a cross than letting them figure out how to plug the hole which continues to spew. We seem a lot more interested in obstructing efforts to clean the spill by any bureaucratic means possible. And we certainly don’t seem all that interested in getting to the bottom of how BP apparently received some very questionable waivers for activities under President Obama’s watch.

There will always be oil spills as long as we use oil. Some of them will be horrendous. And those companies responsible must pay to make those affected whole. But our government must not hinder efforts to contain the damage, make that damage worse and cost those companies more because of their own malfeasance. Because once they do they bear too much responsibility for additional costs and damages. And let's face it. We, the tax payers, cannot afford any more needless expenses.

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Copyright ©2010 J.J. Jackson

J.J. Jackson is a libertarian conservative author from Pittsburgh, PA who has been writing and promoting individual liberty since 1993 and is President of Land of the Free Studios, Inc. He is the Pittsburgh Conservative Examiner for Examiner.com.  He is also the owner of The Right Things - Conservative T-shirts & Gifts. His weekly commentary along with exclusives not available anywhere else can be found at Liberty Reborn.