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What I would have liked to have heard President Obama say about the oil spill

Obama, Oval OfficeMy initial assessment of Barack Obama’s address from the Oval Office was judged by many of my liberal-progressive friends to be too harsh. Not having heard the whole speech, I was willing to admit that there might have been points I had missed that might modify my initial reaction. I especially wanted to read the ending of the speech. My nausea had caused me to switch off before its conclusion. I regret to say that a more careful review of the transcript of the speech has caused me to change little in my initial evaluation.

First of all, his response was too slow by at least two weeks -too slow a response- as usual. This is becoming his trademark.

I would like to have heard President Obama issue an apology for his share in the conditions that lead up to the disaster. Granted Bush’s corruption and the whole deregulation mood of the Congress set these wheels in motion. Cosmetic changes in the Dept. of Interior were not what we elected Obama for.  He should have at least asked for the resignation of Ken Salazar. It wouldn’t have gone far toward convincing me of his good intentions, but it would have made for good PR with the gullible public. I get really tired of guys like Reagan and Obama saying they take responsibility and then prove by their subsequent actions that their Mea is not so Culpa. 

The other day I watched the members of the Congress hurtle well deserved insults at the head of CEO Tony Hayward. That is not the whole story. There should have been at least a small portion of the insults reserved for most of the committee members who presided over a spirit of deregulation that went a long way to parenting the irresponsible acts BP is accused of.

President Obama should have taken a que from Robert Reich who suggested BP be put in receivership.  Based upon their history of serial criminality and chronic lying about this spill, we should never allow them to be in charge of anything larger than a kitchen spill.

President Obama should have announced the cessation of all oil drilling operations in the Gulf until new regulations and revised inspection and enforcement procedures have been approved and are met. Personally, I would have announced the end of all oil drilling in US coastal waters forever. Let’s be realistic: our president is the prisoner of Big Oil, Dirty Coal and the deadly Nuclear Lobby.

President Obama should have used the address to demand BP immediately authorize the issuing of hazmat suits and masks for cleanup workers and reinstate workers fired for showing up with such protective gear at their own expense.

“Many shrimp-boat owners have now been hired by BP to work on the cleanup. One local fisherman, John Wunstell Jr., was rushed to the hospital with respiratory problems that he attributed to the noxious environment.

He and others claim BP has prohibited the use of masks, and he has filed a request for an injunction to force BP to provide masks and other protective gear to cleanup workers. The response of BP’s Hayward? “I’m sure they were genuinely ill, but whether it was anything to do with dispersants and oil, whether it was food poisoning or some other reason for them being ill …” [see here]

The omission of this important note makes me smell a rat here.  Is he playing nice with his friends at BP by not calling them on yet another matter for which they will not be prosecuted?  I will make a prediction here.  No one at BP will ever face criminal prosecution for this greatest of all crimes against nature and the people of the Gulf Coast. Fines, sure, but no criminal indictments.  I’m sure many, many captains of industry are nervously watching how President Obama treats his friends at BP.  Tony Hayward stands about as much chance of ever facing a judge as does George W. Bush.

President Obama should not make promises and give assurances for conditions of which he is ignorant and over which he has no control.  For me, he lost what little credibility he had by promising to seal the leak in the upcoming weeks.  There is no realistic basis to expect the end of this eruption at any time in the foreseeable future.  And capturing 90 percent of the oil is ludicrous.  I’m sure he was just parroting another BP bogus estimate, which is as reliable as all their other statements and estimates.  Let’s just stop calling these “estimates” and start calling them for what they are—lies.

President Obama should have announced the establishment of a consortium of other oil companies, scientists and military who will take charge of the attempts to access the damage and find solutions to the spill and the eruption. BP will never admit their helplessness in the face of this disaster until the oil slick hits the beaches of Cannes.

President Obama should have given the public a real assessment of the situation and its impact without all the inspirational platitudes. I know all this religious bullshit is pretty much required standard operating crap with politicians in this country. I just get a little tired of all this religious pandering. He couldn’t get away with it in any civilized European country.
President Obama should have announced a massive, coordinated effort to prevent the spill from reaching the shores of threatened local communities. In countless interviews, I get the impression that all the local people feel abandoned.  They feel they are on their own.  President Obama is again too little, too late with this.

President Obama should not have advocated for the controversial construction of barrier islands to keep oil out of sensitive areas.  Reputable scientists are at odds with many local politicians over this issue.  In advocating for their construction, President Obama is caving to political pressure over science.  This makes him look like a hack.

If we build these berms, one tropical storm that either crosses the berm or even sends large waves towards the berm from offshore could do tremendous damage to the structure before it's even completed.  It might not make it through hurricane season.  They are immediately susceptible to erosion.  It's a question whether this first portion of the [70 kilometers] will still be there when they get to the end." Coastal geologist Rob Young of Western Carolina University

President Obama’s announcement of the $20B escarole fund to compensate victims of the spill was laudable.  I still have the sneaking suspicion that this is part of a set up to allow the top brass in BP to avoid criminal prosecution including criminal negligence and manslaughter.  Quid pro quo.  Hey, it worked for the Bush&Co prosecutions for high war crimes and misdemeanors.  Only I have trouble seeing the QPQ when it comes to letting Bush avoid prison.

President Obama’s speech left me with an overall skepticism even with regard to points I might otherwise applaud.  Recent reports of President Obama’s hostility to legitimate war crimes whistle blowers over at the Pentagon cause me to believe he will be equally hostile to whistle blowers (past, present and future) in the energy sector—especially as it relates to the regulators’ corruption and collusion with those industries. Those tasked with protecting us from serial criminals like BP and Massey should be prosecuted for their crimes, not the whistle blowers.

Finally I have a permanent distrust of guys like President Obama who know they can tell people anything and be instantly believed.  Looking at his past record, I will have to see a lot more good works before I trust anything he says.
In conclusion, I have never felt quite so alone in my assessment of a president since the bad old days of Jack Kennedy.  I will not go into an analysis of Kennedy’s shortcomings as a president.  Many speculate as to what would have been the final evaluation of his achievements had he survived that tragic day in Dallas.  These days, even the most progressive of my friends tell me that I should wait with my judgment of President Obama.  They tell me he deserves my support.  I am sorry, but I refuse to give my support to a man who has betrayed so much of the trust the voters place on him.

Worse of all, his record on reversing the Bush policies have been virtually nonexistent.  Hardly a day passes that I do not have to further lower my assessment of the man.  It is ironic that one of the lesser offenses of his administration is the one that will most likely bring him down—the destruction of the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem and its economy.  It is only one of the most visible of his failed responsibilities.  No one sees the victims of his murder in foreign lands, the families decimated by his drones, the justice denied by the victims (past and present) of torture, and the continuing abominations of Guantanamo, the wars in Iraq (it is not over) Afghanistan and Pakistan. On his record of lies, failed promises and violence in his criminal war policy alone, history will judge Barack Obama a worse criminal than Tony Hayward—by far. How any rational person can continue to support such a man boggles my mind.

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