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« A merciful end to that | Main | Caring for the poor »

May 14, 2010


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David Wharton

The regulatory problem was brought to the administration's attention in September 2009, but Obama did nothing. Since inauguration, the Obama administration has approved "at least three huge lease sales, 103 seismic blasting projects and 346 drilling plans" without the required permits.

Gee, I wonder why Obama is only now talking about addressing the situation. It's tempting to think he's doing it because the NYT is breaking a big story about this huge failure of oversight, in the wake of a catastrophic spill, but ... nah. Just a coincidence.

A. Bulluck

"The regulatory problem was brought to the administration's attention in September 2009...."

Let's see...September 2009. Hmm, let me think for a second.... The MLB playoffs were in full swing, but we recently learned that Obama doesn't know shit about baseball as he can't even name a single player on any teams roster - past or present, even his "beloved" Chi Sox. Had he already invited the two jokes from Boston to the White House for "a round of beer?" We know he wasn't working on bringing our troops home as they're still dying by the day in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I'm guessing he was busy making excuses and laying blame at the foot of the previous administration for something or another. This White House is good as the art of deflection. You can go ahead and bet Bush had his hand on the BP disaster in the Gulf, just like Karl Rove and "big weather" seeded the clouds in the South Atlantic to create a hurricane that would kill black people, or make them homeless in Louisiana and Mississippi back in 2005. Shame.

Steve Harrison

"The regulatory problem was brought to the administration's attention in September 2009, but Obama did nothing."

Right. The letter wasn't sent to President Obama, or even Ken Salazar, it was sent to the head of the MMS. But don't let something as paltry as fact get in the way of Obama bashing.

A. Bulluck

Who the hell is Obama to criticize people for "finger-pointing" anyway? That man has more than likely pointed more fingers than anyone alive. EVERYTHING, ALL OUR ILLs, the "CURRENT CRISIS" isn't his fault - nothing is, nothing ever will be. It's the Bush Administration's fault, everything. Um, that's finger pointing.

David Wharton

Darn, Steve, you're right. It was silly and wrong of me to hold Obama responsible for the actions of his own administration. It wasn't his fault because he didn't get the memo!

Nor was it Bush's fault that this practice started under his administration, because I'll bet he didn't get any memos either, and because everyone knows that he was too stupid ever to even write a memo.

Maybe it's Sarah Palin's fault, because she said "Drill Baby Drill!"


With one exception, the previous posts aren't addressing the issue at hand, but simply using Ed's post as fodder for yet another round of Obama bashing.

Even if someone read Obama the riot act about MMS in September 2009, does that mean he shouldn't act now?

And, of couse, the hypocrisy of the right attacking Obama for not acting rapidly enough to regulate big business is manifest. They're the folks who keep telling us to trust the multinational corporations, 'cause they're subject to the same market pressures as those little guys Adam Smith talked about. Nothing can go wrong.

David Wharton

JC what is "the issue at hand"? I took it to be the need for sensible regulation of the oil industry. I pointed out that the Obama administration has been asleep at the switch on this issue and that it has responded only after (1) an environmental crisis and (2) a NYT exposé. This is not "Obama bashing" -- it's actually pretty mild criticism -- and it's directly relevant to Ed's post.

You then responded with straw-man generalizations about "the right" which do not apply to me. Lame.

Andrew Brod

To add to JC's comment, I'm happy to grant that Obama should have done something about MMS previously. It's been a haven for industry-slanted hacks and we're now paying the price. Never mind that Obama was busy rescuing the economy and reforming health care. I agree that he should also have reformed MMS.

But let's also be clear about where this mess started. It may give Bulluck conniptions, but some things really are Bush's fault. And by all objective accounts, his administration's belief that government is bad and oil companies are good led to horribly inept and inadequate regulatory oversight. Mind you, I'm not saying that oil companies are bad. But all industries need sensible regulation--not too much but certainly not too little. Under Bush it was too little. Now, perhaps we'll find the right balance, and the fact that it's happening because of this disaster doesn't make it less necessary.


"Never mind that Obama was busy rescuing the economy and reforming health care."


The World According To Brod--fiction at its best.

David Wharton

AB, I don't think it's accurate to say Bush believed government is bad. There's plenty of evidence that he thought government was good, from NCLB to Medicare Part D to government partnerships with faith-based groups to TARP.

But his Texas background sure did make him too chummy with the oil industry.

It's a little surprising that Obama supporters are reacting so protectively to the revelation that O continued Bush's chummy relationship, including the subordination of sound environmental science to politics. And that last bit used to incite quite a lot of indignation. Pecksniffs.


Not sure what constitutes an "Obama supporter." I voted for him and I find the approval of projects without permits disturbing.


Prior to this when was the last major spill from a platform in the gulf?

David Wharton

I guess that was under Jimmy Carter.


Unfortunately, it takes an unmitigated disaster -- whether it's on Wall Street or the Gulf of Mexico -- to show that when it comes to most regulatory efforts by the government, the foxes are running the hen house.

If you are a small business, you will get hit with fines, civil actions, and harassment from government officials. If you are a multi-billion dollar business then you will receive billions in taxpayer bailouts from the government and a nod, nod, wink, wink when it comes to exploiting our financial or natural resources.

It really doesn't matter who's running the government at the top, because the same bureaucrats are in place during multiple administrations and frequently go to work for these firms after their stints in the public sector. So why would they want to bite the golden hand that feeds them?

Steve Harrison

David, I genuinely try not to be a pecksniff, and I'd like to think I succeed more often than I fail. I can be pretty harsh with Democrats (even Obama) when they take a stance that hurts the environment. And while I'm not (across the board) satisfied with the Obama administration's handling of regulatory affairs, I'm also a realist.

There has been and still is (as Voter stated) a huge problem with the revolving door between Federal agencies and private industry; so much so that you're almost talking about Siamese twins joined at the brain. Those influential relationships run deep, and the MMS is one of the worst examples of such.

But as maligned as it has been, the President's effort to stop that revolving door will hopefully bear fruit in the years to come, and we won't have former MMS directors heading up lobbying firms for offshore drilling interests. Or (God help us) vice-versa. In the meantime, splitting inspectors apart from the money grubbers at MMS should bring about some positive changes.

Ed Cone

Regulatory capture has occurred and endured with both parties in power (e.g., Clinton-era financial dereg).

That's a huge part of the problem, and reflection of the triumph of big money over the public interest.

One could argue -- convincingly, imho -- that the GOP has been the party more inclined and philosophically motivated toward coddling big business, and that gutless, opportunistic Democrats have been followers rather than fighters in the face of this philosophy. Such an argument does not make either party look good.

So, yes, it takes a crisis to wake people up. The question then is how they respond to the reality revealed by the crisis.

I prefer the reaction of the Democrats on financial reform. And despite the blindness of his own administration -- which, after all, was ready to drill baby drill until about five minutes ago -- I welcome the strong words from Obama, and contrast them with those of, say,Haley Barbour, who compares the spill to the sheen of gas left by a ski boat.

greensboro transplant

"It's too bad that government is always the problem"

snarky or just asinine? i'm going with asinine.

greensboro transplant

"Never mind that Obama was busy rescuing the economy and reforming health care."

and again, i'm going with asinine.

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