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26.7.10

Jones, ban, berms: politics explain odd Obama policies

As days go by and the Pres. Barack Obama Administration continues to engage in perplexing policy regarding the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, it becomes clearer that it is part of a political strategy where Democrats are going “all in” ideologically speaking at the expense of immediate electoral consequences.

Given the vast negative opinion nationally , and especially in Louisiana, about the moratorium on deepwater oil exploration imposed by Obama, one might think that this would have been abandoned, particularly as the judiciary gave Obama a chance to retreat by striking down the first ban, twice, and additionally given its enormous costs and incredible overreach that its six months not only are far longer than needed to inspect and reapir but also likely actually reduces safety. (Of course, the entire exercise already has been compromised by Obama’s creative license in using expert opinion.) Yet it continues, and stealthily has acquired a near-moratorium on all new drilling including that in shallow water.

In Louisiana, the ban is suppressing the victory chances of Democrat candidates this fall. The last thing Rep. Charlie Melancon, a vocal ban opponent, needs is a reminder to voters the president from his party for no good reason is damaging a significant part of the state’s economy and that he has no influence to stop it. The small chance of Democrats retaining Melancon’s current spot representing the Third District, the epicenter of the labor force for the oil exploration industry, has about evaporated because of the ban. And nationally this cannot help Democrats against the increasingly-likely chance they will lose control of at least one chamber of Congress in national elections.

This joins another odd decision on the surface, the Obama Administration’s refusal to waive the Merchant Marine (Jones) Act of 1920. Even though the spill finally might have been stopped and skimming near the leak has the greatest utility, now the necessity of this action has increased. The law prevents foreign vessels, such as skimmers, from operating out of U.S. ports (instead of in transshipment with a foreign port as a destination). Even if foreign skimmers can find a way around the law by coming and going from the same U.S. port and skimming more than three miles offshore, the fact is at this stage in the crisis oil is hitting shore and skimming within three miles now needs to be done. Still, despite state and local governments complaining about the lack of skimmers available, no waiving has occurred despite at least one request to do so (The Administration asserts publicly the Act does not apply and its has had no requests.)

Why is Obama so dogmatic on this issue, even as it looks to be causing his party and him electorally? Perhaps because, just as Gov. Bobby Jindal has gone all in on a strategy of defending the coastline through the uncertain (but to date, largely successful) tactic of using sand berms (initially resisted by the Administration as it made its actions look even less flattering), Obama has gone all in with these policies consistent with his strategy of liberalism’s advancement he hopes to achieve by the tactic of ramming home radically-liberal policy despite electoral consequences. It’s the line he apparently took on shoving into law against large public opposition health care insurance changes that look to reduce quality at higher cost as a stepping stone to universal government-run health care that permits more consolidation and control of people’s lives under government.

Obama bears little political cost by continuing to put special interests such as environmentalist extremists, who demand significant reduction in, if not total elimination of, offshore oil extraction, and unions and some shippers, who support the Jones Act, ahead of the peoples of the Gulf Coast. Of the involved states, these issues only really affect Louisiana, and Democrats have reconciled themselves to the fact that Melancon’s campaign and retaining his district were longshots to begin with. With the issue reverberating more weakly across the country as a whole, Obama and Democrats gamble that, despite their actions, they will retain control of Congress and then use that in the next couple of years to leverage off the moratorium to reshape energy policy as a whole more to their liking.

As the most leftist presidential administration in history, chock full of true believers, Obama’s crew takes a millennial view on things. They are willing to take a short term hit if they believe it pays off long term for the cause. What to us seems electorally irrational simply may be a case of one step back to get two steps forward.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that Obama is willing, perhaps even eager, to see the GOP take over congress when the bill comes due for all his insanely expensive initiatives of his first two years. How can the next congress possibly escape being blamed for higher taxes or termination of some popular programs, cuts in others, to pay the bill? Social Security and Medicare will have to be hit. Of course it will be the GOP "obstructionists" who deliver the blow.

Anonymous said...

Obama will not listen to the people who clearly spoke for the Rally for Economic Survival or anyone else from Louisiana. He did not and can not win in Louisiana. The reason he persists in his liberal agenda is that he must appease his base and conversely wishes to punish the southern coastal states for not voting for him. Since there is nothing to gain by listening, everything the coastal states do to try to end this moratorium will only be given lip service. The hope has deserted; the change has come, and the only blackness that matters is the oil working its way toward our shores.

Mr. Harris Plutocrat said...

Our deranged professor against wipes his resentful tears and lashes out at the president again.

How exactly does a moratorium "reduce safety"? Sadow doesn't say. You have to be in his fantastic neocon bubble to know. Frankly, after a huge catastrophe at an oil rig off the Louisiana coast, don't you think it would be wise and prudent if we briefly paused similar activity and have the scientists ascertain whether we are doing everything we can to prevent a replication? That is, professor sadow, shouldn't we have science inform policy? Not if it's a democrat president and a neocon ideologue shreveport professor, apparently.

Sadow: it is key to have science informing policy. The policy arming suspending further reckless behavior until the scientists weigh in is exactly the sort of "science informing policy" that you should be teaching in your class. Since you appear to preach the opposite, just what in the hell are you teaching in that class of yours. I'd love to see the syllabus - most likely just ayn rand and a pile of grammar-challenged tea party pamphlets. (that's "science" in jeff's world).

Mr. Harris Plutocrat said...

Also, it's nice to see you still shrieking about the Jones Act. Do you really think that some tiny swedish ship was going to sail into harbor and fight off the oil spill single-handedly? Only a delusional idiot such as yourself could bring yourself to believe in such fantasies. And since when are a few sandberms, tiny in size relative to the vast Louisiana shoreline, and already withering into the ocean, and which won't even be finished until halloween(!) a "largely successful" effort? And since when is "no sand berms" a "radically-liberal policy"? Do you spoon GOP press releases at night?

"environmentalist extremists", "unions", "radicals", all the scary boogiemen you typically muster. And the "most leftist presidential administration in history," you've got to be kidding. By this time, Reagan had made illegal immigrants legal, raised taxes, blocked torture on principle, and his top tier income tax rate was basically the same as Obama's. If you think this administration is the most leftwing in history, you should have your head examined.

"Shoving" health care into law against "large" opposition, in order to "consolidate control" of people to government? Your tinfoil hat may not seem out of place in a community like Shreveport, but trust me, Jeff, you and your type are the laughing stock of the whole world. The whole world, Jeff, loves Obama. The shrieky, whiney, vitriolic hatred of a small, southern, stupid, and violent john birch-types is impressive only in the sense that you have somehow managed to scare yourself with your own monster-drawings.

Anonymous said...

H-Airy writes:
"Sadow: it is key to have science informing policy."

Exactly.
"Eight of the 15 experts consulted by the Interior Department for a report about oil drilling safety on the Outer Continental Shelf that was commissioned by President Barack Obama said they disagreed with the report’s call for a six-month halt on current deepwater offshore drilling operations..the eight experts further said, “A blanket moratorium does not address the specific causes of this tragedy. We do not believe punishing the innocent is the right thing to do.”

“We encourage the Secretary of the Interior to overcome emotion with logic and to define what he means by a ‘blanket moratorium’ in such a way as to be consistent with the body of the report and the interests of the nation.”
http://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/68164

Anonymous said...

Plutocrat is a vile human being.

Anonymous said...

One thing to bear in mind with the Jones Act is that it does also provide some other benefits.

It protects the American workers by requiring American Flagged vessels to employ American crew. It also requires vessels constructed with MARAD subsidized funds to have American crews. Do you think it would be that much better to have foreign crews on our ships? Flag Of Convenience vessels frequently have a hodge podge of different nationalities and I can tell you from experience it can make for interesting times when problems arise.

Also, many are overlooking the benefits afforded to workers over water as a result of the Jones Act. Instead of being unable to sue their employer as is the case with Workers Compensation laws, offshore workers (and anyone working "over water") can sue their employer for negligence and obtain larger settlements than arbitrary awards usually given to those injured in factories or plants.

The Jones Act is receiving a lot of attention because of the actions by the attorney parent of one of the deceased rig workers. However, his case seems one of pure greed. To the unbiased eye his actions appear to resent the worker's spouse and children being the only ones who will receive any recompense once settled. The deceased was 28 years old, had a family and was I would assume living independently. Why would anyone other than his spouse and children be entitled to obtain any benefit?