Thursday, May 27, 2010

You Can't Have It Both Ways

At the blog Be John Galt (no, thanks), Ayn Rand disciple bc3b claims that BP had been contemplating the top kill maneuver as early as May 9, but didn't attempt it until now because President Obama was playing golf.  No, I am not making this up.  (bc3b also confuses the top kill maneuver with the junk shot manuever, but that's another matter.  Here's some help for you, bc3b, if you're interested.)

Andrew Corsello does a fine job of stating what I think about Ayn Rand.  My negative feelings about her have been more intense lately, since we can blame what Corsello calls Ayn Rand Assholes, or ARA's, for the last few years of economic trauma:
Thanks to them, the Rand Experience is no longer limited to those who have read the books. It's metastasized. You, me, all of us, we're living it. Because it's the ARA Army of antigovernment-antiregulation puritans who have spent the past three decades gleefully pulling the cooling rods out of the American economy. For a while, it got very big and very hot. Then it popped. And now the rest of us have to spend the next decade scaling the slippery slopes of the huge suppurative crater that was left behind.  
Anyway, some pack of adolescent Rand disciples is trying to find a way to criticize Obama for the screw-ups of BP, and this is the shit they come up with.  Hey, bc3b, why don't you take the advice of your hero and check your premises?

Given the intimate relationship between the previous administration and oil companies, perhaps bc3b might be forgiven for thinking that Obama is an oil company executive.  But he's not, so you can't have that particular premise, bc3b.

Ayn Rand called her "philosophy" objectivism.  Academic philosophers have virtually no respect for Rand or objectivism.  Now, I'm wondering why bc3b, who I assume is an objectivist, would blame Obama, a public official, for the oil spill in the Gulf, when objectivists believe that government regulation of the private sector is wrong.  To assume that Obama is responsible for this mess is to believe that government ought to regulate and control business.  I have no problem with that premise, but you can't have that one, bc3b, because you are a stinking objectivist.

So why would bc3b and Republicans in general want to hold Obama responsible for BP's mess?  Because they all believe that the private sector can do no wrong, and that government is responsible for everything that ails us.  Remember the health care reform debate?  Republicans like Rep. Mike Pence warned against a "government takeover" of health care:
Folks know a government-run option would result in tens of millions losing insurance they have with their employer now and millions of Americans losing their jobs, and the idea now that piling on top of all that big government takeover of health care are going to be tax increases on businesses and employees is just astonishing. . . . Republicans are coming together around conservative values. We need the American people to ride to the rescue. We can stop this government takeover of health care, and we request demand this Congress take action that will get this economy moving again.
Months later, Pence is changing his tune. "The American people deserve to know why the administration was slow to respond, why necessary equipment was not immediately on hand in the area and why the president did not fully deploy Cabinet-level federal officials" to the Gulf Coast until April 30, Pence recently said.

Pence wants government out of the health care business, but he wants government all over the oil business.  Why?  Republicans can be counted on to defend the interests of big business every time, and the little guy can go fuck off and die (literally).  So Pence and the rest of the Republicans did everything they could to kill health care reform, since they saw it as antithetical to the interests of the health care corporations and their profits.  Now they're defending BP by trying to blame their royal screw-up on President Obama, since bad PR for BP is antithetical to the interests of oil companies and their profits.

And let there be no doubt: this catastrophe in the Gulf is BP's fault.  According to the Associated Press, "Dozens of witness statements obtained by The Associated Press show a combination of equipment failure and a deference to the chain of command impeded the system that should have stopped the gusher before it became an environmental disaster."  And that's not Obama's fault.

In addition, President Obama's response to this catastrophe cannot be compared to President Bush's response to Hurricane Katrina, no matter what Republicans looking for a political advantage say.  According to the Associated Press,
The Gulf region, ravaged five years earlier by Hurricane Katrina, was on the verge of a second ecological disaster. Would there be a repeat of the bureaucratic bungling that marked President George W. Bush's response to the hurricane?

While the Obama administration has faced second-guessing about the speed and effectiveness of some of its actions, a narrative pieced together by The Associated Press, based on documents, interviews and public statements, shows little resemblance to Katrina in either the characterization of the threat or the federal government's response.
Lemme guess, Republican, the reporting of the Associated Press suffers from liberal bias, right?

And if you stop and think about it, the differences between Katrina and BP are stark.  Government is responsible for responding to natural disasters like Katrina, and government was responsible for the construction and maintenance of the levees protecting New Orleans from Lake Pontchartrain.  BP is responsible for the man-made disaster in the Gulf that BP itself caused, and BP is also responsible for cleaning up its own mess.

Some Republicans and adolescent objectivist bloggers might want to blame the catastrophe on lax government regulation.  Consider the following lead paragraphs of an Associated Press story:
At a 2005 workshop, a senior official in the U.S. government's Minerals Management Service raised concerns about ultra-deepwater drilling and included the bullet point, "Few or no regulations or standards." Within two years, Jim Grant left his post as chief of staff of the government's Gulf of Mexico region to take a job with BP PLC – one of the companies his former agency regulated in its oversight of offshore drilling.

Grant's change is one example of the revolving door between the Interior Department's MMS and the oil industry, which increasingly has the attention of Congress, the Obama administration and watchdog groups after the disastrous BP oil spill at an ultra-deepwater rig in the Gulf of Mexico.

Just this week, a government report said drilling regulators have been so close to the industry they've been accepting gifts from oil and gas companies and even negotiating to go work for them.
For someone like me, this is disturbing.  But haven't Republicans and ARA's wanted to deregulate the private sector and get government off the backs of corporations so that they could make more money?  Sorry, assholes: you can't on the one hand insist on deregulation, and then fault Obama for regulatory failure.

Republicans like former FEMA "director" Michael Brown have even gone so far as to claim that the spill was a conspiracy on the part of Obama to provide an excuse to reestablish the ban on offshore oil drilling.  Sorry, Brownie, but that just reeks of desperation and stupidity.

So, what have we learned?

John Galt can go fuck himself.  

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It is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence. ---W.K. Clifford

Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blind-folded fear. ---Thomas Jefferson