Which major political party is siding with a foreign oil company against the American victims of its criminal negligence?

Here’s the sequence of events, in case you haven’t been following closely:

1. Foreign oil company, violating dozens of laws and cutting hundreds of corners, trashes an irreplaceable national asset, putting the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of Americans at risk.

2. American President demands that the foreign oil company pay restitution for the losses it stupidly and illegally inflicted on innocent Americans.

3. Foreign oil company complies, antes up $20B.

4. Republican politicians denounce “redistribution of wealth” and “Chicago-style shakedown politics,” worry about whether the foreign oil company (which has been paying $10 billion a year in dividends) can really afford the restitution payments, and apologize to the foreign oil company for the President’s temerity in asking them to pay for the damage they caused.

I’m glad I know that GOP is the patriotic party, because if I didn’t know, I might not know. Y’know?

Update More here. The official wingnut talking point seems to be that the independently-administered $20 billion compensation account is a “slush fund” that will go to ACORN.

Steve Benen asks the right questions:

(1) Are the Republicans stupid enough to become the party of BP?

(2)Are the Democrats smart enough to help them?

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

8 thoughts on “Patriotism”

  1. I wish the general public was aware that these Republicans are making absurd, illogical, and purely polemical charges. Bachmann's "redistribution of wealth" could, using her logic, be applied to anything, even purchasing groceries (where "wealth" is handed over to the cashier).

  2. Is BP really any more “foreign” than Exxon, Mobil, etc.? Would they have handled a massive oil spill in the North Sea with any more competence?

  3. Possibly better. There's a long history of foreign corporations being burnt by their US subsidiaries: perhaps because they are reluctant to make a clean sweep of the management. BP North America started out as Sohio, Amoco, and Arco. Of course, the parent is responsible for its subsidiaries. But there may still be geographical variation in operating culture.

    Also, regulation is probably less corrupt in Europe. For instance, the dispersant used by BP in the Gulf is banned in Britain.

  4. Seth asks a good question. I'm not sure a bunch of nativist finger-pointing is going to get us anywhere we want to be. And we certainly shouldn't be doing it now while the oil is gushing.

    I watched a bit of the hearings this morning on CNN, and the only thing we should be talking about now is, what is BP doing to stop the leak? And is there *anyone* else who has a good idea? (People who tinker in garages? Anyone?) But it was just the usual circus, with Hayward saying as little as possible. I sincerely hope that that little CYA command performance is not slowing down something more important that ought to be happening elsewhere. It's possible, since he is the boss after all.

  5. Mark has his lips so firmly planted on Obama's ass that he has a hard time seeing what happened here, so I'll try explaining it slowly. BP commits an act of gross negligence, or perhaps worse, and trashes the Gulf, damaging the Gulf and harming many individuals and businesses. BP, as a result, will face civil liability for those damages. Obama threatens criminal prosecution for the same acts. After threatening prosecution, Obama instructs BP to put $20 billion into an escrow for damages. Importantly, the determination of damages will not be made by agreement between BP and the claimants, or by judicial process, but instead will be made by a man designated by Obama. Though insisting–in my view, correctly–that it would have no liability to oil workers idled by the policy choices of the Obama administration, BP agrees to make a gift to the escrow for those workers, in the amount of $100 million. There's no question, as a legal matter, that BP doesn't believe, and no reasonable court would find, that BP has liability to these workers. The negotiations for the escrow were conducted behind closed doors, with those who had threatened criminal prosecution in the room. It isn't yet clear what role the threat of criminal prosecution played, if any.

    Mark sees this and says, what a country! We have a strongman president, finally. No legal process to slow him down, no need to worry about what other parts of government might do.

    And some of us think, isn't Mark the guy who a few months ago accused a federal prosecutor of soliciting a bribe because, as part of a deferred prosecution agreement, a corporation made a charitable contribution to the prosecutor's alma mater. Yes, yes it is. But that was a federal crime, and this, this is leadership, says our host.

    And then he starts in on patriotism, as he likes to do, using patriotism in the ugliest way possible. In fact, I don't think our host has yet talked about patriotism in other than a partisan way. True patriot, he, if you define it to mean, he hates Republicans. (And many others, don't get him started.)

  6. the dispersant used by BP in the Gulf is banned in Britain

    Sorta kinda, but not quite. It's banned for use on "rocky shores," but not in other situations, such as in the open ocean.

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