Friday, April 30, 2010

"Drill, Baby, Drill", continued

Yesterday I posted an item about the the massive and still growing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, noting that incident this should remind us of one possible drawback to "Drill, Baby, Drill". That post generated a lot of e-mailed responses. Here are two.

First, this sardonic comment from my friend Perry Deess:
This spill was orchestrated by the Democrats as a prelude to introducing energy legislation, just as the Goldman Sachs investigation was a sham to move forward with the socialist regulation of the finance industry.
That analysis sounds right to me ... but, of course, what Sarah Palin and her friends call the "lamestream media" have largely ignored this obvious connection. I expect that Fox News (with help from assorted Republican pundits and bloggers) will break through the cover-up.

Another correspondent approached the matter from a slightly different direction:
Ms. Palin would have been well advised to be more discreet. Instead of proclaiming this exuberantly from the dais at the Republican National Convention, it should have remained a matter between her and her spouse.
Well, that brings up the larger question of who's really getting screwed here.

=> On a somewhat more serious note, several correspondents raised the intriguing question of how the Republicans, who have gone out of their way to brand themselves the party of "Drill, Baby, Drill", are going to manage the public-relations challenge posed by this accident--which appears likely to turn into a significant environmental and economic disaster. (The Obama administration's recent decision to move pre-emptively toward an accommodation with the Republicans on this issue--don't some people ever learn?--also looks a bit less well-advised in retrospect, tactically as well as substantively.)

In a more sensible world, people who have been vociferously demanding that we start drilling everywhere without restraint while dismantling existing safeguards--as opposed to, say, finding ways to use oil more efficiently and developing viable alternative sources of energy--should be feeling a bit embarrassed and discredited right now. In the real world, the more likely result is that the policy agendas won't change much, but the propaganda will have to be adjusted. New slogans and talking-points are no doubt being crafted behind the scenes, and I suspect we'll be hearing the phrase "Drill, Baby, Drill" a little less frequently.

On the other hand, I may be wrong about that last point, since by now it is well established that Sarah Palin's sloganeering is largely unaffected by empirical reality, or by the kinds of embarrassments that affect most politicians. Even when she gets caught telling straightforward, easily checkable lies on matters large and small--the kind that even the normal run political journalists are capable of noticing and reporting--that doesn't prevent her from continuing to repeat them as if nothing had happened, and her fans don't seem to get upset. So we may get a chance to see how fully that applies to the rest of the Republican Party, too.

=> Meanwhile, the oil-spill disaster continues to unfold:
As the vast and growing oil slick spread across the Gulf and approached shore, fishermen in coastal towns feared for their businesses and the White House stepped up its response to the worsening situation.

President Obama ordered a freeze on new offshore drilling leases until a review of the oil rig accident that caused the spill could be concluded, and new safeguards put in place. [....]

For now, residents and workers in towns like Venice, La., are feeling the effects of the oil slick most directly. All fishing and shrimping, the area’s economic mainstay, was halted in Venice on Friday morning as the oil drew near.

The port’s skiffs were all docked. A local seafood company, Sharkco, was selling its last 50 pounds of shrimp, and had already sold out of oysters and fish. [....]

Well aware of the damage done to President Bush by his administration’s slow response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the White House has been moving aggressively in the last two days to respond to the oil leak, with Mr. Obama addressing the issue publicly twice in two days. [....]

On Friday morning, the Air Force sent two -130 planes to Mississippi, where they awaited orders to start spraying chemicals on the spill, The Associated Press reported.

Resources from the United States Navy have been marshaled to supplement an operation that already consisted of more than 1,000 people and scores of vessels and aircraft.

And Attorney General Eric Holder on Friday announced that he was dispatching lawyers from the Justice Department to New Orleans to monitor the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico from the perspective of environmental regulation.

Calling the disaster “a spill of national significance” that could threaten coastline in several states, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced the creation of a second command post in Mobile, Ala., in addition to the one in Louisiana, to manage potential coastal impact in Alabama, Mississippi and Florida. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar ordered an immediate review of the 30 offshore drilling rigs and 47 production platforms operating in the deepwater Gulf, and is sending teams to conduct on-site inspections.

Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana declared a state of emergency and mobilized the Louisiana National Guard to participate in response efforts.

On Friday, he also requested federal assistance for state fishermen, asking the Secretary of Commerce to declare a commercial fisheries failure. [....]

“This spill isn’t going to be fixed in a day, probably even in a year,” said Chuc Nguyen, 35, who immigrated from Vietnam as a child and has fished his entire life. “What else can I do? I don’t know how to read and write. If you tell me to do something other than fishing, I don’t even know what it would be.”
Hoping for the best,
Jeff Weintraub