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Happy Hour: Oil's Well That Ends Well


You can count me as one of New Orleans' biggest fans.  I've long appreciated the sweaty charm of the Big Easy.  Many is the time I've spent lost weekends in it's dusky embrace, bathed in the spicy musk of creole sensuality and alcohol-fueled enthusiasm.

So, naturally, seeing the area once again be threatened with a devastating disaster is very difficult for me to take.  The only time one should smell petroleum in New Orleans is if you pay good money for the privilege.

Make no mistake, the spill need not have been this bad.  While in the Senate, I was one of the most fervent voices for regulating the oil industry  - but a procession of Republican presidents and congresses disagreed,  result in BP getting approval to drill in the Gulf of Mexico without the required Environmental Impact Assessment study, or commitments to safety and redundant back-up systems in case of accident.  You know, the kind of hands-off approach the Republican Party support in their "Drill, Baby, Drill" zeal.

Not surprisingly, conservatives are now stumbling over themselves to try and gain some level of distance between themselves and their greasy monster, while others are spouting the Orwellian claim that somehow this is the fault of the Democrats and President Obama – going so far as to call this “Obama’s Katrina” as if the two events had anything in common aside from geography.  The absurdity is astonishing.  How Hurricane Katrina in 2005 parallels with the current situation is something even a dozen or so belts of whiskey doesn’t explain.  The Hurricane was a disaster that directly impacted the city and it’s residents, demanding swift federal response in terms of emergency, health, evacuation, and housing support.  The oil spill requires none of these, yet even so Obama and the government are monitoring the situation and have offered support as needed.

The Bush administration's inactivity during Hurricane Katrina showed them to be completely over-matched and unprepared.  Although it was known well before landfall that Katrina would be a devastating storm, there were no preliminary efforts made by the federal government to have some sort of support or emergency response contingency in effect.  When the storm hit and the nation watched a city drown before their eyes Bush did his best impression of Nero, picking and strumming a guitar with a total disregard for the people suffering.   It was only a week after the fact that Bush arrived in New Orleans for a few clumsily staged photos trying to make him seem engaged and concerned.

Yet still the republican wags are blaming Obama for not donning his cape and using his super-powers to stop the leak himself.  It’s almost as if they are calling for the federal government to step in, take over for the company, and handle every aspect of the containment and clean-up – from the cost to the manpower.  These are the same people who yowled like stuck pigs at the idea of the government providing healthcare to those unable to get it for themselves.

But even more amazing is how the right are suddenly using Katrina as a pejorative, after claiming (with a straight face) that Bush did nothing wrong.  How can the perfectly acceptable actions of Bush during the hurricane suddenly be held as some sort of low-water mark for Obama?  Can it be that even republican expectations for Bush were so low that his not visibly pissing his pants and drooling on television was considered successful?

In any case, this disaster has had at least one bright side:  it’s caused  Sarah Palin to go into hiding.

Bottums Up!