Why Obama Should Kick His Own Ass

Monday, June 14th, 2010

Or at least look at the government to share some of the blame for the Gulf oil mess.

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39 Responses to “Why Obama Should Kick His Own Ass”

  1. #1 |  Kristen | 

    Yep, the liability cap is RIDICULOUS. Anyone with 1/50th of a brain could see that woud come back to bite us one day.

  2. #2 |  Kevin3% | 

    Kristen!
    Wait a moment.
    Are you claiming that O isn’t as smart as he thinks he is?

    I mean he is a lawyer and they are the smartest people on the planet….and he is, after all, a Harvard grad too so he is supposed to be especially gifted.

    You cannot mean that.

  3. #3 |  KP | 

    Does anyone else think it’s a little strange that the video criticizes MMS and then…argues for more effective regulation? Not the line I was expecting Reason to take.

  4. #4 |  InMd | 

    Pretty weak logic in my opinion. Blaming the government for the fact that the government’s regulatory authority is regularly hijacked by the powerful interests they seek to regulate seems to misplace culpability to me. It ignores the fact that such legislation is being pushed and written primarily by private entities who seek to benefit from government power, not the other way around. Sure it increases the government’s propensity for incompetence, creates perverse economic incentives, and makes it beholden to private interests but then that’s precisely what said private interests such as the oil industry are paying for. The problem here isn’t “government”, it’s government alignment with powerful big business interests (something I believe all libertarians should oppose). It’s certainly much murkier of an issue and just placing the blame on the government or the Obama administration in particular vastly oversimplifies it.

  5. #5 |  Cynical in CA | 

    As long as government exists, it can be accurately blamed for everything.

    That’s why they make the big bucks.

  6. #6 |  Steve | 

    Government, past and present, batted around by big labor, big business, and big busybodies has much to blame.

    Obama has enough balls to talk tough about BP, but not enough to get anything accomplished:

    http://mjperry.blogspot.com/2010/06/is-protectionism-and-union-power.html

  7. #7 |  JS | 

    Kevin3% “Kristen!
    Wait a moment.
    Are you claiming that O isn’t as smart as he thinks he is?

    I mean he is a lawyer and they are the smartest people on the planet….and he is, after all, a Harvard grad too so he is supposed to be especially gifted.

    You cannot mean that.”

    Yea, plus that would make her a racist.

  8. #8 |  Elliot | 

    JS, good catch. Doubleunplusgood racist!

  9. #9 |  Paul Vail | 

    Obama is doing exactly what anyone that wanted to listen to him in 2008 knew he would do. Anyone that read up on his background or looked at his votes at both the state and federal levels would really not be surprised. I think the most telling thing is that just 2 short years ago Reason magazine (and others) looked the other way because Obama was the hip new guy on the scene and let’s be honest, the libertarian left is a bit wobbly when it comes to core priniples.

  10. #10 |  Sam Wilkinson | 

    Paul,

    Libertarians elected Obama? I had totally forgotten about their swing votes delivering the election. Thanks for the reminder.

  11. #11 |  Kim Scarborough | 

    Any video with a reference to somebody “kicking his own ass” should contain a clip of the last few seconds of “Hasher’s Delerium” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DfOmxAtI00Q)

  12. #12 |  Mike Leatherwood | 

    Drilling is a risky business, no doubt. A majority of the technical problems faced with the BP leak is that it is in very deep water. This deep water site is being tapped because federal & state governments are not allowing near-shore drilling in known areas.
    Blow outs happen, and human error will always exist. Malicious and greedy actions will take place, too. However, a nearshore or onshore leak would have been much easier to contain and stop.

  13. #13 |  PogueMahone | 

    Wait a minute.
    I’m no fan of Obama, but “3 reasons why Obama should kick his own ass.”
    Seriously???
    Reason #1: THE SPILL IS ON FEDERAL PROPERTY – “There is no doubt that the spill and clean-up is chiefly the responsibility of BP, but the federal government has a role to play…”
    So does that mean that anything that happens on federal property is Obama’s fault?
    Reason #2: THE FEDS REGULATE OFFSHORE DRILLING – “The MMS is a failed agency…”
    So did Obama set up this regulatory agency? Was it his idea?
    Reason #3: THE FEDS CAPPED ECONOMIC LIABILITY – “BP’s liability is capped at a measly $75 million, if drilling companies knew that if they weren’t capped they would engage in less risky behavior.”
    Ummm… I call bullshit.
    The cap was in response to the Exxon Valdez. Obviously, “risky behavior” occurred well before the cap. To assume that “risky behavior” wouldn’t occur if there were no cap is a logical fallacy.

    Look… like I stated, I’m no fan of Obama – and there is plenty to be unhappy with Obama – but these “3 reasons” that Obama should kick his own ass are unfounded.

    Cheers.

  14. #14 |  EH | 

    Not to mention that point #3 is effectively moot at this point.

    Point #2 seems to be effectively addressed by the fact that MMS and Dept Interior do not have much role at all in dealing with the crisis. It’s Dept Energy people who are in the meetings these days. In Chu vs. Salazar, these days I think Salazar is probably more busy with firing people.

    Point #1? Uhhh, OK. Pretty standard off-the-deep-end bad-gov’t rhetoric.

    How long ago was this video made? Seems very much of the first wave of PR from BP when they were looking to shunt responsibility wherever they could. “Not our fault, gov’t is broken!”

    Seriously, what is the point of this video at all? Why would anybody take the time and effort to make it? Who benefits from its existence? Certainly not the Gulf Coast.

  15. #15 |  Leon Wolfeson | 

    Actually, no, he should kick his own ass because he’s unnecessarily attacking BP and causing a major issue for UK pensions (BP hold about 15% of UK pension funds), which IS going to cause a massive diplomatic split sooner or later. If the current UK ConDem government had any balls, it would already have done so, actually.

  16. #16 |  Paul Vail | 

    I like when comments start out “I’m not fan of Obama”! And then rattle off team Obama talking points. There was huge talk by all 4 candidates about executive expierience in 2008, and none had much, but professor Obama had the least, and it shows.

  17. #17 |  Paul Vail | 

    This UK pension stuff is bull shit. I may not like Obama, but BP did screw up on a scale never before seen, and investments are not suppose to be risk free. Guess what happens when you screw up, you go broke. There is no way BP can make everyone whole as their stupid commercials claim they will. They will be forced into bankruptcy and retirees in England will be selling pencils on the street and eating cat food.

  18. #18 |  SJE | 

    The real pickle I see for Obama is how to simulataneously argue for Federal oversight while acknowleging that the Feds don’t know sh*t about how to operate an oil rig.

  19. #19 |  Leon Wolfeson | 

    Paul – Yes, BT screwed up. However, that’s no call for your president to go on TV and talk about it as another 9/11, wiping another 9% off the company’s stock price.

    BP is in no danger of “going broke” unless the US government heap penalty on penalty on BP in a direct attempt to do so. Which would be, and I use this term advisedly, an act of economic warfare.

    Also, I wish on you precisely what you just wished onto others.

  20. #20 |  Kevin | 

    #13

    >”So did Obama set up this regulatory agency? Was it his idea?”

    The POTUS is only responsible for agencies he/she sets up? Shouldn’t the executive branch, lead by the POTUS, operate all of it’s agencies properly? Perhaps if the POTUS did not spend so much time ‘fixing’ health care, ‘fixing’ global warming, and talking to fisherman to see whose ass at BP he needs to kick, he’d have time to get a handle on all of the federal agencies and make sure they are working properly, regardless of the state they were in when he took office.

    >”So does that mean that anything that happens on federal property is Obama’s fault?”

    No, it means that anything that happens on federal property that receives an anemic response from the federal government is, in part, Obama’s fault.

  21. #21 |  shecky | 

    I’ve become a minor fan of Obama. So, yeah, Gillespie came up with some pretty weak shit here. Is he really calling for a larger role for the government? Because that seems the most obvious solutions to his rant. Maybe Nick really is the closeted liberal those nutty posters on Hit & Run sometimes call him out to be.

  22. #22 |  Kevin | 

    I meant to add, the liability cap comes from the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 and it’s one thing Pres. Obama has little control over, except he can over-reach the boundaries of his office as most presidents do, and demand that congress change it. Details on the cap here: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/politics/jan-june10/oillaw_06-04.html

    (That same act contains language requiring the president to take action to contain and clean spills.)

  23. #23 |  Nick | 

    Does anyone else think it’s a little strange that the video criticizes MMS and then… argues for more effective regulation?

    People who want free markets aren’t against regulation. They are against regulation by an entity (the state) that has been granted a monopoly on regulation and can force people to subscribe to their services.

    I wasn’t paying close enough attention to the video to recall if he said he wanted more effective state regulation but, if he did, then I agree with your comment.

    Blaming the government for the fact that the government’s regulatory authority is regularly hijacked by the powerful interests they seek to regulate seems to misplace culpability to me. It ignores the fact that such legislation is being pushed and written primarily by private entities who seek to benefit from government power, not the other way around.

    That is how state regulatory power has always been used and to think it will ever be used differently is naive. As long as the state maintains a monopoly on regulation and dispute resolution, there is no way to prevent it.

    So does that mean that anything that happens on federal property is Obama’s fault?

    I think everyone here knows the point the video was making. If the video had used “federal government” in place of “Obama”, would your only criticism be point 3?

    The cap was in response to the Exxon Valdez. Obviously, “risky behavior” occurred well before the cap. To assume that “risky behavior” wouldn’t occur if there were no cap is a logical fallacy.

    First, he didn’t assume that “risky behavior” wouldn’t occur if there were no cap. He said (you quoted him) “if drilling companies knew that if they weren’t capped they would engage in less risky behavior”.

    Second, in 1989, federal law protected Exxon more than it currently protects BP. Before the Oil Protection Act and the $75 million cap, only people who had been physically touched by the oil could collect damages. Everyone else was banned by federal law. So, yes, Exxon was insulated from the risk they were taking.

    Read about it in The Legal Differences Between the Exxon Valdez and the BP Oil Spills.

  24. #24 |  Kristen | 

    Maybe not Obama’s fault, but quite obviously and glaringly his responsibility. Maybe Harry Truman should have left his “The Buck Stops Here” sign in the oval office.

  25. #25 |  Stephen | 

    Anything that happens between now and the time the relief wells get done is just for show.

    Watch this:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GHmhxpQEGPo

    It happened in 1979 at a much shallower depth. They tried all the same stuff. Nothing worked until the relief wells got done.

    Lets hope the relief wells work as well this time. But it will still be at least August before they are done.

  26. #26 |  Paul Vail | 

    Leon @19 – BP is running commericals in America promising to make everyone whole (they can’t). They have all ready spent 1.5 B on the cleanup efforts, and they only have about 5B cash on hand. BP’s stock price is going down because the company is sinking. The only thing Obama could do is urge some kind of screwy legislation to let BP off the hook, and he has realized he does not have the political capital to do so. He is taking the only path he can and that is blame BP. It is very European of you Leon to want to invest without risk, but in the real world sometimes bad things happen to good people. Maybe you boys can take a page out of our playbook and scoop up BP like we did GM, which will prove a long-term mistake for both countries. I was just teasing about retirees having to eat cat food, I’ve seen my income cut by 40% in the last 2 years so I’ll probably be eating cat food soon myself.

  27. #27 |  Leon Wolfeson | 

    Paul – They have insurance. Yes, BP’s stock was going to sink. The prediction was a third. Instead, the US president is agressively attacking them, and it’s down by half.

    This is not about “investing without risk”, and you’re being very government-interventionist (if you want to trade insults, and given I’m a classic liberal), when left to the markets BP would of already have stabilised. They do have insurance, which will cover a good segment of the damage, and even the worst-case cleanup estimates have now been passed by their lsses

    Governments blaming BP is, pure and simple, a big government response to a disaster in a risky sector of the economy. Playing the blame game hurts people for zero return. Gogo chearleaders like you! RISK HAPPENS, it’s accepted to hold oil prices down (and why nuclear power isn’t more widespread in the first place, because people refuse to accept a tiny fraction of the risk accepted as normal working practices in other sectors).

    (And no, many WILL end up eating catfood if the US government deliberately drives BP into insolvency. Deliberate, big-government action)

  28. #28 |  PogueMahone | 

    I like when comments start out “I’m not fan of Obama”! And then rattle off team Obama talking points.

    You like that do you? I guess I”m apart of a shitty “team Obama” that before rattling off team Obama talking points, states “I’m not a fan of Obama.”
    You’re going to suggest that I’m shilling for Obama!? Really??? Me? Here, at Balko’s site??? Good luck with that.
    One doesn’t have to be apart of any team to have issues with Gillespie’s message, for his message misses his mark.
    It is, dare I say, Palinesque to throw blame to Obama, which is the theme Gillespie grasps onto. I believe that there is much to say about the federal government’s role in this catastrophe. But nevertheless, this is not a catastrophe of Obama’s making.
    Also, there are conspicuous connotations in Gillespie’s message that seem to underplay industry’s role in this disaster and shift responsibility mainly on government – the “BP is to blame, sure, but what do you expect when government let the fox in the hen house.” A message that surely will not fly.
    This message seems to be somewhat contradictory for a libertarian. And this silliness suggesting that if the $75m cap were not in place, BP would have not cut corners and followed protocol when capping the well is a huge stretch. Gillespie’s message is not an accurate critique on the failures of government, but more an instructional video on Yoga.

    I like Gillespie. A lot. But any blame for failing to address these issues with regard to the federal government’s role in oil drilling could be rightly placed if Obama were to ignore these problems after the fact. It would have been nice if Obama were to be Merlin wielding Excalibur cutting to ribbons all of the failed regulations that could have prevented this disaster – if it indeed could have been prevented. After all, BP simply cut corners in procedure that caused this disaster. And I’m not sure any amount of swordplay could have prevented that.
    But we have to pick our battles. And Reason magazine would do well to be more reasonable in their critiques if they’re going to sway anyone not already seated at the libertarian round table.

    Cheers.

  29. #29 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    Pogue,

    Reason #1: THE SPILL IS ON FEDERAL PROPERTY – “There is no doubt that the spill and clean-up is chiefly the responsibility of BP, but the federal government has a role to play…”
    So does that mean that anything that happens on federal property is Obama’s fault?

    No. The premise is not that anything that happens on Federal property is Obama’s fault. However; the buck does stop with the President.

    The premise (IMHO) is that with great grabbing of land rights comes great responsibility. The US government takes massive amounts of land and leases it out to generate massive amounts of money (some of which is actually above the table). That means you have to man-up and take some responsibility when someone you let in your house for the party took a shit in your washer.

    Reason #2: THE FEDS REGULATE OFFSHORE DRILLING – “The MMS is a failed agency…”
    So did Obama set up this regulatory agency? Was it his idea?

    No. This is 2-for-2 that your argument hinges on defeating a false premise.

    I gathered that Nick is stating that the regulatory agency failed in its charter and this isn’t the only thing it failed at. To whom does the agency report? Eventually, the President has some responsibilities and ensuring that billion dollar agencies do what they are supposed to do is one of them (at least). Who made the agency or who thought it into existence is a meaningless intellectual path to go down. Instead, the President needs to go tell Brownie he’s doing a swell job. Oops! Wrong President. You can understand that they all start to sound alike after awhile.

    Reason #3: THE FEDS CAPPED ECONOMIC LIABILITY – “BP’s liability is capped at a measly $75 million, if drilling companies knew that if they weren’t capped they would engage in less risky behavior.”
    Ummm… I call bullshit.

    The cap was in response to the Exxon Valdez. Obviously, “risky behavior” occurred well before the cap. To assume that “risky behavior” wouldn’t occur if there were no cap is a logical fallacy.

    I am not sure why you believe this to be a logical fallacy. Could you perhaps detail your critique? Risk taking increases when a safety net is in place. Risk taking decreases if you stand to lose everything if you fail.

    Look… like I stated, I’m no fan of Obama – and there is plenty to be unhappy with Obama – but these “3 reasons” that Obama should kick his own ass are unfounded.

    I don’t disagree with you…in that I don’t blame Obama for this spill. However; I believe “never let a good crisis go to waste” will be enacted to grab more power, increase ineffective regulation, villify business, justify the steady and noble hand of government nannies, and promote blah blah blah.

    Instead, I’d like to see Obama hold people in business and government accountable. But, make sure you include those government people just this once.

  30. #30 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    Pogue,
    Here’s an example that concerns me:

    if drilling companies knew that if they weren’t capped they would engage in less risky behavior.”

    To assume that “risky behavior” wouldn’t occur if there were no cap is a logical fallacy

    You went from “less risky behavior” to “risky behavior wouldn’t occur”. That doesn’t work in an argument. “Less risky behavior”, not “no risky behavior”.

    Please explain.

  31. #31 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    They have insurance. Yes, BP’s stock was going to sink. The prediction was a third. Instead, the US president is agressively attacking them, and it’s down by half.

    BP is a huge “buy” right now. They are a massive statist corporation. That idiot CEO is going to soon be asked to go fishing with Fredo.

  32. #32 |  EH | 

    Paul – They have insurance.

    Oh I give that about one minute’s worth of survival before it’s rescinded for negligence. You think BP is getting blamed now, just wait until the bonuses at Lloyd’s get breathed on.

  33. #33 |  RGD | 

    I’m surprised you posted this, Radley. For something from “Reason”, the connective tissue of the reasoning was pretty weak here.

  34. #34 |  Leon Wolfeson | 

    EH – Bonuses? Oh, understandable confusion. But Lloyds of London is *not* a company. It is an insurance marketplace. More, it is not public in any sense and has over two thousand backers. It is *designed* so that policy’s are not rescinded (except for fraud in the application).

    It’s why, despite Bermudan reinsurance companies competition, it’s still big.

  35. #35 |  Ray | 

    Boyd’s already taken pogue’s illogical points apart so I’ll restrain myself to the basics.

    Libertarian thought, generally speaking, does not wish to do away with all regulation. But it needs to be done effectively. Will it ever be perfect? No. But the 75mm cap is the kind of oligarchic corruption that Obama and the Left was elected to do away with.

    Not that anyone here expected that to happen, but that gets back to Nick’s point in the video.

    The government has done a ham-fisted job of doing what even most rational libertarians would agree is a legitimate govt function. But the private sector will take 100% of the blame in the media giving the politicians on both sides of the aisle fuel for expanding the government even more, and driving the rigs even farther into deeper water to drill.

    And whoever it is that doesn’t understand that limiting liability increases risk taking just doesn’t get much. Don’t know if that’s even worth explaining since they’re probably not going to understand it anyway.

  36. #36 |  Judas Peckerwood | 

    Jesus, can’t libertarians come up with a more effective spokesperson than Nick Fucking Gillespie? He’s still the same smug, insufferable proto-hipster douche that he was back at Rutgers in the 1980’s.

    That’s right, Nick, some of us remember those days well, including your barber and haberdasher, apparently.

  37. #37 |  Dave Krueger | 

    I’m having trouble following this. As I understand it, BP’s liability for economic damages (those not related to cleanup and direct physical damage from the oil) are capped at $75 million. But, today all I’m hearing on the news is how the government is going to force BP to establish a $20 billion fund which will be dispensed by someone else to cover economic damages. According to the interview on NPR this morning, Obama not only has the power to force BP to cover economic damages in excess of the cap, it has the power to do it before these cases even go court.

    I have two questions:

    1. Is that true?
    2. If so, what good are liability caps and courts of they are so easily sidestepped?

  38. #38 |  akvusn eh | 

    Nice, but you know the M.O. of your government is to pile new better turds on top of the old smelly turds – never to clean out & bury the old ones. (Office of Repealer?) So, there will be shiny new turds added to the Federal Lease process, the MMS, and liability law. And, I’m sure you see that your government intends to shake down BP for a slush fund managed by an “independent” varmint of some sort. The Aristocracy doesn’t even take the trouble to polish up the new turds into laws anymore.

    Don’t get me wrong; I’m still for necktie parties for the senior leadership at BP (not the poor schmucks that had to decide to hold up, at a million bucks a day, or go ahead, after which they would have had no proof that anything would have gone wrong) but the top leadership that created the culture.

  39. #39 |  Leon Wolfeson | 

    Dave – Even if he CAN, if he DOES then what happens is companies stop investing in anything which smells even remotely risky. Oh sorry, was that your economic growth projections falling past the window out there?

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