Jim Brown's latest column is about the political resurrection of Bobby Jindal, and the Daily Kingfish-- for some reason-- proudly promotes it. I don't know why. Brown's earlier column about oil drilling (which was widely syndicated by Louisiana blogs) helped spread the deeply misleading corporate/right-wing talking point about how oil drilling is nearly free of risk. Louisiana has decided to accept these risks, at enormous cost to its coast, but conservatives have decided to push the misleading talking point that there were no "major" oil spills after Katrina. They've decided to greatly diminish the risks and sacrifices Louisiana has taken in order for it to collect and distribute energy to the rest of the country. This does the "Gret Stet" no service at all, especially when we are trying to protect and restore our coast and oil infrastructure.
For example, this brilliant Baton Rouge Advocate article (H/T Clay), titled "Louisiana often leads oil spill list" reminds us of the daily risks and damage we suffer:
Aging infrastructure and the volume of oil either produced or moved through Louisiana is part of the reason the state saw an average 1,500 reported oil spills a year between 1991 through 2004.
That’s about four reported oil spills a day, most of which go unnoticed by the public.
Between 1991 and 2004, reported oil spills in Louisiana involved between 91,000 gallons and 701,000 gallons a year. In percentages, Louisiana accounted for between 5.8 percent and 53.6 percent of the reported oil spill volume in the United States, according to the U.S. Coast Guard and the Louisiana Oil Spill Coordinator’s Office.
Those are the spills reported in state waters and don’t account for reported spills in federal waters. In Louisiana, federal waters begin three miles from the coast.
During hurricanes Katrina and Rita, numerous large and small oil spills occurred along the coast. A preliminary count from the two storms is 464, but [Karolien Debusschere of the Oil Spill Coordinator's office] cautioned that those report numbers remain under review and could change.
“Again, we had lots of reporting,” she said. “Every time a sheen was seen it was reported.”
Guidry said the spills ranged from tiny to 90,000 barrels.
“It was worse (than expected.) We didn’t expect that kind of surge,” [Roland] Guidry said of Hurricane Katrina. The storm surge moved tanks with tens of thousands of barrels of oil and floated them away, he said.
Anyway, back to Jim Brown's column about Jindal's political resurrection. Brown writes:
According to the national CNS poll, Obama currently leads McCain 48% to 46%. But the poll shows McCain would have the upper hand with Jindal as his running mate. By adding the Louisiana governor to his ticket, McCain beats Obama 44% to 39%. Even if Ohio Governor Ted Strickland is added as the running mate to the Obama ticket, a McCain Jindal team still wins by a two-point margin.
First off, in my opinion, political analysis-by-polls is for amateurs. Political dynamics are more important. Secondly, there was no "national CNS poll", as Brown claims. CNS is a right wing news organization, and they were reporting on seven Survey USA polls of various swing states. In the Ohio poll, Obama currently leads McCain by two points. Also, Brown should be clearer and state that the Survey USA poll shows McCain/Jindal beating Obama/Kaine by 44-39% in Ohio. Last, and most importantly, Brown gets it wrong about McCain/Jindal beating an Obama/Strickland ticket. The CNS article plainly states:
Even if Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland is Obama’s running mate, the Democratic ticket still comes two points short of beating McCain/Bloomberg, ties with McCain/Jindal and only beats McCain/Fiorina by one point.
... Urrgh. I gotta interrupt this silly fact-check of Jim Brown's "column" and go back to the oil thing. It's in the back of my mind and not going away, and I suppose Brown's research and analytical skills speak for themselves. Why he gets such broad, uncritical syndication is beyond me. (Update: For more, read E Pluribus Unum's sustained critique of Brown's piece.)
Anyway, I gotta spout off some more about the oil/Louisiana/Katrina thing.
Musical inspiration: "I kissed an oil shill and I liked it, the taste of her methane-chapped lips..."
Drive By Blogger is looking for someone with "with lots of experience in giving blow jobs" and who doesn't "mind the taste of gasoline in their mouth". This seems very suspicious to me, but still, I'd like to offer D-BB some time-saving guidance.
Since so many GOP politicians have suddenly become so intimately familiar with misleading oil industry talking points now that $4 gas is here, perhaps D-BB should target these folks (and their girlfriends and boyfriends) as qualified candidates for the... job.
Isn't it amazing how conservatives have appropriated the tragedy of Katrina over the years? Initially, when President Bush was reading Michael Gerson's speeches to the nation, and saying that we have a "duty to confront" poverty (rooted in racial discrimination) with "bold action", conservatives became very uncomfortable. They were shocked when the President said that the Gulf Coast recovery would
measure our unity as a people.... As we clear away the debris of a hurricane, let us also clear away the legacy of inequality. Let us deliver new hope to communities that were suffering before the storm. As we rebuild homes and businesses, we will renew our promise as a land of equality and decency. And one day, Americans will look back at the response to Hurricane Katrina and say that our country grew not only in prosperity, but in character and justice.
This sort of talk did not go over well in some quarters of the GOP. It sounded too much like LBJ. Conservatives either criticized Bush's words or ignored them, and decided the proper response to Katrina would be to finally get serious about... wait for it... reining in the most spendthrift Congress in human history. All of a sudden, after Katrina, "wasteful government spending and earmarks" became top priorities for conservatives (who had been effectively silent on the issue for the previous five years). It was very cute. They thought they could pay for the recovery by forcing their Congressional representatives to cut pork.
Government levees burst, thousands died, a city drowned... and conservatives united together to battle the evils of pork barrel spending (during a trillion dollar war of choice, no less). Or, more accurately, I should say that they united around the comforting rubric of fiscal discipline, which always seems most handy when Republican politicians are in electoral peril (or out of office). When the GOP is in power they don't really reduce spending or cut government, they mostly (in Thomas Frank's words) "redirect the proceeds of the welfare state into the pockets of their own kind – the favored lobby firms, the well-connected contractors".
I suppose the President, Congress and others could've insisted upon a national commitment to improved levee and flood control infrastructure after Katrina. They could've united around the restoration of America's Energy Coast... but those sorts of far-flung fantasies were regarded as crazy talk after Katrina. Too expensive.
So now, a couple years later, Katrina has been resurrected by conservatives as a way for them to unite around... wait for it... misleading arguments about oil drilling expansion. Again, those "duties" that President Bush once spoke about-- e.g., confronting poverty and inequality with bold action-- have long been forgotten. Now, all we hear is "Katrina and Rita showed that drilling is safe-- let's do more of it!" And by trivializing the environmental damage Louisiana's coast suffered after the storms, these oil advocates actually make it more difficult for Louisiana to argue for federal funds for coastal restoration. If the rest of the country thinks that new technology has made drilling safe or risk free, won't they be more skeptical when we inform them that oil and gas infrastructure accelerated coastal loss in Louisiana by ONE THOUSAND YEARS? And if we don't address coastal restoration in the next ten years, costs will truly become prohibitive, and Southern Louisiana will quite literally wash away. But, on the bright side, I guess ten years from now the oil from the proposed new coastal drilling will be getting to market, so maybe while former South Louisianans are eating chinese crawfish in a Baton Rouge Applebee's, we can cheer about how gas is 2 cents cheaper than it would've been had we not drilled. We'll say: "Hurray for those far-sighted conservatives back in the summer of aught eight! Too bad there's no coastal wetlands and No Orleans. The weak category 3 levee protection we installed after the Katrina/Rita disaster just wasn't enough protection. Whodathunkit?"
Sorry. Couldn't help it. A latent rant took over.
Do me a favor, if you're still awake. Take a look at this YRHT post from May 15th, and compare it to portions of this Think Progress post from June 19th. Am I ahead of the curve, or what?