Talk Among Yourselves

I’m not feeling up to writing much, but I want to note this news article in the New York Times

President Obama for the first time will address the nation about the ongoing oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday night and outline his plans to legally force BP executives to create an escrow account reserving billions of dollars to compensate businesses and individuals if the company does not do so on its own, a senior administration official said on Sunday.

This is good, because claims against BP are going to be tied up in court for years and years, and the people whose livelihoods are being ruined don’t have years and years to wait for compensation.

I understand that Republicans are still pushing for continued drilling and are trying to make the lost jobs of the rig workers an issue. But what about the lost jobs of shrimp boat workers, hotel cooks, and most of the state of Florida?

I don’t think “drill, baby, drill” is workin’ for folks around here, but what’s it like where you live?

32 thoughts on “Talk Among Yourselves

  1. “Drill Baby Drill” is pretty much viewed like a stinky side dish we didn’t order.
    The spill is the topic of conversation everywhere I go, and people are getting concerned that we may get oily rain and worse.
    People here in the Orlando area are concerned that tourists may shy away from visiting Disney and the other theme parks, and with the crummy economy, well, I don’t even want to go there. A bunch of locals have just been denied extentions on their unemployment insurance, jobs, particularly in construction are few and far between.
    It seems like we are getting hammered by the Gods, perhaps we are……….
    I think the spill will be stopped within the next 2 months (wishful thinking); we can’t allow this to happen again.

  2. I hang out on a forum – a nasty habit – and the conservatives there have IMO completely misjudged the reaction of the voting public. I hear that the Gulf situation is an argument for drilling in ANWAR – and, as Barbara pointed out, that the ban on exploration is idling oil workers. Enter reality – Salazar said BP has to pay the salaries of any oil workers idled as a result of the spill. The claim is bogus.

    This issue could be the biggest & most obvious difference between Republicans in service to Big Oil – and Democrats in service to the people of the Gulf and the environment in general. If Congress has the sense in the next few months to propose environmental legislation – pointed directly at Big Oil – and let the Republicans fillbister and line up as the lackeys of Big Oil and the outcome in elections in Novemeber will be completely different than they were lining up 2 months ago.

    Voters are frustrated that there is no difference between Democrats and Republicans – sometimes that’s true – but on this issue there could be a split as deep as the Grand Canyon which Democrats could mine in November.

  3. Can’t tell if you’re not feeling well or just down because POTUS is so timid. His timidity has got me in a funk.

    Oil: Well, like most of the country, I do not live anywhere near the Gulf. I like the idea of the gov’t seizing control of BP or at least freezing all their US assets.

    Most of the country doesn’t care that this blowout was the result of Bush/Cheney. Obama has been in office well over a year and he could’ve replaced some folks at MMS. It IS time for Salazar to go. He is a liability.

  4. erinyes,
    The fact that they found valuable minerals there means we’ll be fighting in Afghanistan for generations. If anyone hasn’t read it, I strongly recommend the book, “I Was An Economic Hitman.” It explaing how most of our foreign “adventures” are the result of our trying to secure the rights for US companies to rape the natural resources in countries all around the world.

    As for the oil, I don’t get out much, since I can’t afford it, so I don’t really know what people in my area are saying. My 78 year-old mother is distraught over it. She’s worried about the world her grandchildren are getting.
    Surprisingly, at the part-time polling job I have, the R’s haven’t put anything into their push-polls about Obama and the oil spill. unless it was on a day I didn’t work.

    Feel better, Maha! 🙂

  5. I heard the news this morning about the mineral deposits in Afghanistan, and I felt the same chill of dread. The Afghan people will never get their country back, once the international mining consortia move in. And what a mess will be made.

    Sadly, here in the heartland, almost no one is talking about the Gulf spill. In part, that may be because folks here still cling to the notion of replacing fossil fuels with corn; they’re also not genetically predisposed to mistrust the megacorporations.

    If this had been a hurricane, we would’ve been clicking our tongues in sympathy and discussing the best places to send donations. We know from natural disasters, but manmade ecological frak-ups not so much. There isn’t anyone left who can remember the Dust Bowl (and it didn’t affect Nebraska that much, anyway). We’re just kind of floating along in a golden Mazola-oil bubble. It annoys me.

  6. I can just see our corporations licking their lips. in anticipation. We now have a better reason to stay in Afghanistan – our corporatist mission of what I call, “Manifest Gluttony.”

  7. I live on the Texas coast line, and im just waiting for the same thing thats happened Loisiana to happen to us. Its just a matter of time. What a helluva thing to be waitting on?

  8. Well at least now McChrystal stands a better chance of winning Hearts and Mines in Afghanistan.

  9. Someone over at DailyKos took a trip (a few days ago) to the beach near Panama City, FL, aka the Redneck Riviera, before the oil arrives, to see it pristine and beautiful for the last time. Here’s some pictures. I’ve always loved this part of Florida, aka the Emerald Coast, as its beaches are as white as sugar, and the water is emerald green (hence the name). You really feel like you’re on another planet. Or did, at one time.

  10. I know some who have connections to the oil industry who claim that:

    China, Russia, Cuba, and others are looking at the Gulf of Mexico as more or less 100% International Waters! Their drilling plans are underway.

    Also, China is assisting Cuba to drill in their territorial waters. So I’m curious as to the nature of this leak and how much it might be attributable to the fact that it’s in deep water, using untried technology, reckless behavior, or cutting corner$ by not using all the available safety technology.

    Don’t get me wrong. I think BP should be severely smacked simply because it happened but there are scores of related questions regarding international law and what legal action could ever be taken against a corporate or national entity trashing another nations shores when they have no sales or other type of presence within the wronged nation. There are also many ineffective overreactions that might occur without really helping the situation…even after it’s proven that Sarah Palin can be used to effectively plug the leak but not her own big mouth.

    On the brighter side, is it safe to say that our government now enjoys the support of most Americans in stringently regulating the oil companies that will not regulate themselves and that the soft, palsy-walsy relationship between government regulatory agencies that typified the cronyism of the Bush years is behind us now?

    I hope so.

  11. Moonbat,

    Interesting ad though I’d prefer that serious lawmakers stay out of the bobblehead wars. Unfortunately we have let the political hate talkers control the agenda for too long and featuring them in your campaign ads only furthers their agenda. Also the fact he has a ringing endorsement from Ed Shultz would disqualify him from my support. Shultz is really no different than ElRushbo, not quite as offensive but every bit as ignorant and careless with the facts.

  12. @Pat: So I’m curious as to the nature of this leak and how much it might be attributable to the fact that it’s in deep water, using untried technology, reckless behavior, or cutting corner$ by not using all the available safety technology.

    I’m influenced by the reports that BP had hundreds of safety violations, while the #2 worst offender had something like six. I’m also influenced by reports from survivors saying they delayed invoking containment procedures because they couldn’t track down the one guy who could authorize their use. 

    I’m sure deep / untried factors in, but there appear to have been a lot of reckless corner cutting at work.

  13. Moonbat, Grayson is almost my congressperson; I live in Kissimmee, which is very close to his district. Sadly our congress critter is Posey; republican and very right wing.

    Gulag, I did read “Confessions of an Economic Hit man” about 4 yrs ago; the revelation about Afghanistan’s mineral wealth has been known for some time.
    The entire Hindu Kush and Central Asia is full of minerals, precious metals, and petroleum. The deal is called “the New Great Game”.

  14. I haven’t seen the question asked so I don’t know the answer. Had this blowout happened in shallow water, would it have made a difference if we could get divers to it? Or would it be just as bad – just as out of-control? The question goes to the issue of drilling ANYWHERE in the Gulf.

  15. Doug, I was a full time commercial diver until about 11 yrs ago, to answer your question, I don’t know. It would be easier to access, but as far as getting divers next to a riser spewing oil and gas at that velocity, your guess is as good as mine.
    The velocity would likely pull a diver off the bottom and send him to certain death due to rapid decompression.
    I can say for sure that everything they have done so far would be far easier in up to 250 ft or less.

  16. Not to post on a different subject, but it would be good if POTUS could tie together all these loose ends. Over the last 10 years or so I feel like we have been bombarded with a constant stream of crises and I feel like they are largely responsible for the frayed feeling America has. I wish Obama could talk about this phenomenon. Liberals never seem to define what it means to be liberal or what type of society we want to help others in creating. I don’t feel like I know who we are any more. Ideally, Obama would use this question as a spring board for the future. He could say that we have become too tribal and focused on the individual.

    Relating it specifically to the oil spill, we need to ask ourselves if we are going to drive and consume these petroleum based products forever. It could well be argued that driving to and from work on a daily basis is not a responsible activity. The environmental cost is too high; not only does the carbon monoxide (on the arrogate) negatively affect the world’s environment, but this oil isn’t supposed to be pumped out of that ground and we can all see the consequences of pumping it.

    Regardless of the details POTUS talks about tomorrow, I sure hope that its more than the boilerplate messages that a typical POTUS speech has evolved into. I think the USA has become insecure in the rapidly changing world and we need to seriously think about who we are. It appears to me that the Republicans like Glenn bonkers boy Beck have seen this and are distorting what America is on a daily and hourly basis.

  17. Doug,

    The 1979 disaster off the coast of Mexico in the Gulf was in water less than 200′ deep. It took nine months to cap it.

  18. Chief, I keep wondering why we haven’t heard about BP bringing the Pemex guys in to consult. Maybe they have and we haven’t heard. Seems to me that they would have good advice to offer.

  19. Me too, Crazy! It would be nice if Obama laid out a new course.
    Of course, that was tried by Carter, who, 30 years ago told us about reliance on fossil fuels., and need to wean ourselves off of them.
    Well, the smart folks harumphed, “That’ll take 30 years!” Ah, where we might be now, but for the smart folks…
    Not so smart, were the smart folks, eh?

  20. Crazy, I liked your comment too, still thinking about it. Here’s some (half-baked) thoughts.

    Social or political movements are like waves of energy in the ocean, or like the blooming of a flower. They burst onto the scene, have their maximal effect, and gradually peter out and die. In political movements, the petering out involves a loss of focus, a multiplicity or disspation of energies.

    New Deal Liberalism reached its apogee in the 1960s, having achieved most of its aims. It began to diversify, into a multiplicity of threads, things that weren’t part of the New Deal: environmentalism, feminism, gay rights, etc etc. This devolved into single issue groups that lost sight of their common roots, and thus became easy to pick off. It is normal that success breeds diversification (or individuation), which is IMO, seeds the rise of conservativism.

    Conservativism reached its maximum influence in recent years, as the disasters of the Bush years affected large numbers in the country. Conservativism has matured (or devolved) into many competing flavors – neocons, corporate cons, social cons, libertarians, racists, Tea Party types, etc. There is no one definition that everyone agrees on. In the beginning, most conservatives hewed to the gospel of St Ronnie, and Goldwater before him.

    There’s kind of a yin yang that always goes on: when one movement is at its height, the seeds of its opposition are taking root. When Liberalism was at its maximum influence, Goldwater articulates the conservative credo in The Conscience of a Conservative. When the far right was at their peak, the blogosphere appears, along with a few leftish TV shows (Jon Stewart, Olbermann, Rachel, others). The excess focus on the individual engendered by conservativism leads ultimately to disasters that cause people to ideally band together (or kill each other). And so the cycle repeats.

    There is also, I’d argue a generational thing that goes on. I draw from The Fourth Turning, a book I’ve mentioned a number of times on this blog. The book takes this thinking of cycles, and identifies a generational progression that parallels the four seasons. Each fourth turning (a winter) is a major crisis, that causes subsequent generations (which can be thought of as spring, summer, autumn) to act in certain predictable ways. The last major crisis (winter) we had in the US was the Great Depression and World War 2. Using the four season model, this roughly unfolded as the Baby Boomers as summer (a time of maximal expansion, liberalism at its apogee), Gen X as autumn (conservativism, and a constriction of choices, a reaction), and the present time, the Millenials as another winter.

    Tying all this together, with the questions you were asking – autumn, and the conservative reaction to (the summer of) liberalism is the time when liberalism loses its way, and its identity. Winter is a time of chaos, and a destruction of the old order. We haven’t fully hit bottom here, as Team Obama is still desperately trying to keep things running, as before. There isn’t yet the widespread realization and understanding that the old order must go. The people who would articulate and lead the way into this new order have yet to appear on the national stage.

    More to the point, the reason why Obama doesn’t talk about these things is that he is part of the system itself, and a real GenX pragmatic type, to boot. He is incapable of doing the major reforms that are required – the people he chose for his team clearly show that. His team looks backwards – trying to sustain the old order – and not forwards – which would mean sweeping it away.

    In the meantime, liberals are still finding their voice. We’ve made a lot of gains in this regard in recent years, but there isn’t the huge groundswell yet, there isn’t the coherently articulated philosophy accepted by large numbers of people, out there on the front page or on the TV. Right wing frames still dominate, even though their philosophy has plainly failed, and it is hugely Obama’s fault that he hasn’t used his position to thoroughly denounce this massive failure. FDR, at every turn, blamed the “economic royalists” for what had happened, and people knew very clearly what caused the Depression. So deeply corrupted is our system, that Obama is incapable of this.

    And so, despite tweaks and appearances, the country’s structural problems continue to metastasize, eventually leading to a moment of truth, a true crisis point, in the future, where the old order will finally be seen by large numbers of people as obsolete, and a new order will need to appear.

  21. Very good response moonbat. At least I’m doing my part, if only someone would pay me to change the world

  22. One question moonbat: Do you think the ahistorical attitude of the media these days will somehow hamper the systematic process of change? Last week on “Alternative Radio” I heard Bill McKibben talk about how last spring his organization loosely sponsored events around the world focusing on the big number of 350 (parts per million) – in Asia and Africa thousands of people turned up for these events – but the media largely ignored it in the US. I hope your right but I’m just so darn cynical and negative that I can’t accept good news anymore.

  23. Crazy, I don’t enough about media history to say if the MSM attitude these days is ahistorical, but it’s obviously hampering change (I’m not telling you anything you don’t know). Those who control the stories a country tells itself, control the country. In the 70s, the right figured this out, and began the long process of building the infrastructure to do this. In the 80s, we saw its fruits: Rush Limbaugh, Fox News, and the whole sorry lot.

    Change can be easy, or it can be hard, and the vested interests in this country – who control the media – are making it much harder than it needs to be. They have no interest in rocking the boat, and are doing everything they can to preserve their advantages. Money can afford to think in long timeframes, decades even, and over this time, money has taken more and more control away from the people of this country.

    Think about the really pathological cases: Goebel’s propaganda machine in Germany, or Pravda/TASS in the USSR – we’re not quite there yet, but the sheer amount of lies and distortion (or plain disinterest as your example illustrates), is an enormous headwind blocking any change in the US. In the really pathological cases, change was so solidly blocked, that 1) Nazi Germany had to be destroyed in order to bring it to reality, 2) change in the USSR had to wait for things to get so bad, and for an internal reformer (Gorbachev) to somehow get to the top of the national power pyramid and begin the process of glasnost, which ultimately destroyed the USSR.

    What’s interesting to me about this, is the willingness of the public here to be duped. I once read a remark by Nikita Kruschev’s daughter (who was living in the US) – she said one difference between the US and the Soviet Union, is that EVERYONE in the USSR knew the media/government was lying, but in the USA, large numbers of people do not. People from overseas often remarked at how naive and trusting we Americans are of our government and media.

    In the USSR, state coercion/oppression was very obvious, not subtle at all. Here it’s much different – we’re not used to this in the US. We’re used to living in a rich country, with a tradition of democratic process – and so the propaganda here tries to reinforce this story about ourselves (despite how things have changed), and anyone who questions the story is deemed UnAmerican. It’s a lot like living in “The Matrix” – and I believe the creators of that movie were trying to depict these very ideas. The thought police/method of control here is your right wing, or even just average uninformed neighbor, it’s usually not someone from a formal government agency. It’s a soft fascism, in other words.

    If you’re interested in this sort of thing, I recommend Survival +, by Charles Hugh Smith. He used to have a free download version at his blog, you might look for it (here’s a link to his blog.) I haven’t read all of Surival +, but he talks a great deal about how the vested interests have created what he calls “a simulacrum” of reality (not unlike The Matrix), in order to preserve their advantages. IOW, we have something that looks like a Democracy, but really isn’t. His writings are a bit complex, and I think they could be boiled down to simpler language (which is why I’m not through it yet), but it’s worth looking at.

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