Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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June 21, 2010

BARBOUR: MORATORIUM WORSE THAN SPILL.... As part of the federal response to the BP oil spill disaster, the administration imposed a six-month moratorium on drilling new deepwater wells. The point, of course, was to prevent another crisis -- Deepwater Horizon had undermined confidence in the industry and its practices. Before companies start new drilling, it's reasonable to make sure the industry's doing it right.

Conservatives, and some regional Democrats, are less than pleased about the six-month pause. Yesterday on "Meet the Press," Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R) went so far as to argue that the moratorium is actually worse than the oil spill and its effects on the region. Seriously.

Host David Gregory specifically asked, "[W]hat's worse, the moratorium or the effects of this spill on the region?" Barbour replied, "Well, the moratorium. The skill -- the spill's a terrible thing, but the moratorium is a, is a terrible thing that's not only bad for the region, it's bad for America."

Look, I realize that the moratorium is causing economic hardship on industry workers, and I hope some of the resources President Obama secured from BP will help. Indeed, what Barbour neglected to mention is that Obama got BP to commit to a $100 million fund to compensate unemployed oil rig workers affected by the closure of other deepwater rigs.

But putting aside these pesky details, if Haley Barbour seriously believes a moratorium on new drilling is worse than the spill itself, he's high on crude fumes. That's just crazy. This spill threatens the future of the region in ways few disasters even could. It's in no way comparable to a six-month break in new drilling.

The thinking behind Barbour's argument is fundamentally silly. As digby noted, "I'm surprised these conservatives haven't used this argument when the food and drug companies when their products are killing people: sure, the e coli may be deadly but we can't stop selling that tainted meat because it costs jobs and drives up prices."

Steve Benen 8:35 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (34)

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Comments

Barbour clearly meant it was worse for the republican party...

Posted by: ChicagoPat on June 21, 2010 at 8:41 AM | PERMALINK

ChicagoPat, you took the words right out of my mouth.

Posted by: sparrow on June 21, 2010 at 8:49 AM | PERMALINK

Consider him a spokesman for big oil and you can understand his comment. Never forget Borbour is a lame duck deeply tied to the oil industry. He cares more about his next gig than about Mississippi.

Posted by: Ron Byers on June 21, 2010 at 8:52 AM | PERMALINK

Digby also noted that only Democrats are fat , reBPublicns are jolly .
It does harken back to the original notice amongst these deeply flawed right wing people , beholden to power , are missing the ability to to recognise shame . The idea of being a teacher explaining hypocrisy to the sort of hypocrite who populate the narrow beam of the right , might bring Gandhi and Upton Sinclair to a barroom . Here , telling jokes about the stubborness of power and its reluctance to tear its beauty from a mirror , admiring the great muscles from cashing see no evil checks .

Posted by: FRP on June 21, 2010 at 8:52 AM | PERMALINK

I think that there is more to the story then this. The economic harm may be much longer then six months. The gigs may move and not return. Also it is a blanket shutdown. The workers at relativity safely operated rigs are not going to be impressed by the wisdom of this shutdown.

Posted by: Ken E. Beck on June 21, 2010 at 8:54 AM | PERMALINK

Of course Barbour's going to answer the question that way when it's posed that way.

The real issue here is why the hell David Gregory thought that was a legitimate framing of the issue.

Posted by: shortstop on June 21, 2010 at 8:54 AM | PERMALINK

@shortstop- For the same reason NBC( ne Universal) broadcast the Today show from Harry Potter Land Friday and passed it off as "NEWS". Follow the money. David Gregory bought and sold . Now a word from our sponsors please stay tuned.

Posted by: johnr on June 21, 2010 at 9:02 AM | PERMALINK

Without more context, it is impossible to be sure but maybe David Gregory thought that was more in the line of a rhetorical question (as in the spill is obviously worse). To judge his motives, it would be helpful to know what was said before and after that clip. No such context is needed to know that Haley Barbour is an idiot.

For one thing, it is only new drilling that has been stopped. It would be months, or more likely years, before any of those wells started producing. So the 1/4 of our domestic production that Barbour is worried about isn't going to be affected for a long time, if ever.

The only way it would have any meaningful long term impact is if the drilling companies choose to permanently relocate a significant fraction of the rigs. And while I can't say that won't happen, neither Barbour nor the other critics of the moratorium have provide any credible reason to believe it will.

Posted by: tanstaafl on June 21, 2010 at 9:14 AM | PERMALINK

It looks like Gregory set Barbour up to make a fool of himself, but he feeds a lot of softball questions and probably thought that was what he was doing this time. Barbour is too out of touch to realize he has to change his tune, and Gregory is not as sharp as Barbour.

Posted by: John Emerson on June 21, 2010 at 9:22 AM | PERMALINK

Shortstop, exactly! If someone were to wake from a coma today and hear the question they would assume that the oil spill and the drilling moratorium were two utterly separate issues, and not that one was the reason for the other.

By their logic you could just as easily say that, "because the FDA has so many regulations limiting the parts per million of crude oil that can be present in seafood, the government is killing the Gulf's fishing industry!"

All this begs the important question: why are so many Republicans continually waking up from comas?

Posted by: chrenson on June 21, 2010 at 9:23 AM | PERMALINK

tanstaafl: I think the "context" makes Gregory come off even worse. But judge for yourself.

Posted by: shortstop on June 21, 2010 at 9:29 AM | PERMALINK

The absurdity of the MORATORIUM WORSE THAN SPILL meme needs to be addressed on 2 crucial points.

First, the disaster which is occurring in the Gulf of Mexico is not the result of a "spill". It is the result of the Deep Water Horizon Blow Out. This is an industrial disaster.

Second, accidents happen and while another Blow Out is probably not likely, there is ZERO capacity for the drilling industry in the Gulf to respond to another accident (let alone disaster) while attempting to control the after effects of the Deep Water Horizon Blow Out.

A moratorium shall indeed have undesirable economic effects, but standing down to take an assessment of the situation and (hopefully!!) assuring we are better prepared than we were 3 months ago to prevent such a catastrophe from ever happening again is more than reasonable - it is required.

Beyond the usual stupidity of industry bought politicians, we need to question the journalists who seem to either not have the intelligence, training, nor common sense of the blogosphere writers like digby, and continue to allow this meme to go forward without serious questioning.

Posted by: MikeBoyScout on June 21, 2010 at 9:30 AM | PERMALINK

Its pure economics. What will have the biggest economic impact? Pit the econimic value of tourism/fishing compared to oil, and I bet oil wins handily. And the economic impact is not just limited to unemployment. Its related to the loss of busineses indirectly effected by the embargo (that is what they will be calling it next). A huge swath of the local economy is hooked into that food chain. This is a local political issue that cuts against the natural grain of the arguments on both sides.

Posted by: Scott F. on June 21, 2010 at 9:35 AM | PERMALINK

Beyond the usual stupidity of industry bought politicians, we need to question the journalists who seem to either not have the intelligence, training, nor common sense of the blogosphere writers like digby, and continue to allow this meme to go forward without serious questioning.

Thank you.

Pissing me off even more, Gregory let Barbour's "we can't let other countries drill without joining in because then we'll rely on imported oil" bullshit stand, likely because Gregory still has no fucking idea that oil is sold on the global market.

Posted by: shortstop on June 21, 2010 at 9:35 AM | PERMALINK

Barbour, speaking at 9 AM, on 9/11:

"Hail, yes, it's a tragerdy that Tower Number One was hit by them turrists."

"But there ain't no need to 'vacuate Tower Number Two! They's thousands of people up there, and they'll miss a day's work, iff'n they's told to 'vacuate!

Posted by: DAY on June 21, 2010 at 9:37 AM | PERMALINK

And as I heard on the radio, they're using the meme "We don't stop plane flights just because there's a crash." Well, it's an incredibly stupid analogy for various reasons. First, halting new drilling is not like "stopping flights" of existing planes! It's like stopping the building of new planes of a type that exploded and wiped out a whole city!

If a plane crash could wipe out e.g. a whole city and we knew it was because of something about jet engines that 1. could be caused by negligence and 2. was very possible to be repeated, we sure would stop building *new jets* until we got that sorted out! Another way to put it: it's even more like stopping production of a type of jet that blew up in the factory before even taking off, while letting completed jets of the same model go ahead and fly.

tyrannogenius

Posted by: Neil B on June 21, 2010 at 9:53 AM | PERMALINK

@Scott F. on June 21, 2010 at 9:35 AM,

Not so sure what pure economics would be, but if one wants to evaluate the value of a moratorium on the short, mid and long term impacts on the oil industry in the Gulf, we can do that.

The assumption that a Blow Out is unlikely and containable on deep water rigs is no longer valid. In fact, the probability of a Blow Out is unknown. The assumptions for the cost of Blow Out liability have also been proven invalid. Therefore, to continue on the path the industry is on now would see dramatic increases in the cost of insurance.

The only economic argument against a moratorium on deep sea drilling if for those who could benefit in the shortest term - payday today.

Posted by: MikeBoyScout on June 21, 2010 at 9:58 AM | PERMALINK

Is it crazy to suggest that, since BP is paying for seafood workers' loss of business they should be paying for oil workers furloughed by the moratorium as well? I realize that the moratorium is government-imposed. But, wouldn't this at least underscore the fact that the moratorium is there for a reason?

Posted by: chrenson on June 21, 2010 at 10:08 AM | PERMALINK

@chrenson on June 21, 2010 at 10:08 AM,

At the prodding/insistence of the administration, BP has committed $100 mil as part of the escrow fund to compensate for the moratorium.

Posted by: MikeBoyScout on June 21, 2010 at 10:16 AM | PERMALINK

Aside from all else, I was wondering when Barbour was going to pull the political version of "Who me? No! -- I'm not with him."

Barbour had been looking way too reasonable and cooperative with the president to remain in good standing amongst the good-ole-boy-tea-party crowd.

Posted by: June on June 21, 2010 at 10:25 AM | PERMALINK

The idea that the treatment (moratorium) is worse than the disease (spills) seems to have gotten off the ground on NPR's Weekend Edition Saturday:

"Some Experts Call Oil Drilling Moratorium Misguided"
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=127942449

Posted by: wasg on June 21, 2010 at 10:26 AM | PERMALINK

First of all, it needs to be pointed out that the moratorium effects 33 deep-water drilling rigs. Several of these are not even close to drilling yet, but have leases for the areas they planned to drill in. In the meantime, drilling in water under 500 feet is still being allowed, and there are about 3000 oil rigs currently in production phase in the Gulf. Neither are affected by the moratorium.

Secondly, the $100 million to offset lost wages for those oil workers affected by the moratorium is an ADDITIONAL amount, on top of the $20 billion escrow fund. It is not considered a "part of" the escrow fund which is only to be used to compensate those businesses affected by the spill itself.

Posted by: winddancer on June 21, 2010 at 10:47 AM | PERMALINK

"The assumption that a Blow Out is unlikely and containable on deep water rigs is no longer valid."
Posted by: MikeBoyScout

I suspect Barbour's thinking goes something like this: Blow Out only happened because BP took foolish risks. No other oil company would now take similar foolish risks so fair to assume Blow Out impossible.

MIkeBoyScout, I'm risk averse so I'd rather have you in charge of the world.

Posted by: Johnny Canuck on June 21, 2010 at 10:49 AM | PERMALINK

I'm with shortstop @ 8:54 - what the fuck kind of softball gimme question was that, anyway? Republican bloodsuckers don't even have to think any more - the Librul media does all the heavy lifting for them. Once upon a time, you had to prepare for an interview on teevee; brushing up on current events and policies, checking with your party to avoid tumbling into a pit that might affect more than just you. Nowadays all you have to do is leave a wakeup call with the front desk for long enough to give you time to shower and dress. Your friendly interviewer will have already turned all the mines to pure chocolate for you.

Posted by: Mark on June 21, 2010 at 11:58 AM | PERMALINK

MikeBoyScout, thanks for the update! Maybe I'm not crazy.

Maybe.

Posted by: chrenson on June 21, 2010 at 12:05 PM | PERMALINK

I live in Louisiana and can assure you that Katrina was less distructive than Obama. Stopping the drilling is as dumb as it gets. Oil is a major portion of our economy that is not going away. You can go on about "green jobs" but that is an LSD pipe dream. Without our oil production, the US will suffer. Oh, and those that comment on how the Rep. party is benefitting, they certainly are, south Louisiana is predominantly Democrat and they are not happy.

Posted by: David on June 21, 2010 at 12:20 PM | PERMALINK
Look, I realize that the moratorium is causing economic hardship on industry workers,...

Then let them get morally decent jobs making windmills or pastries instead of participating in devils work in the Oilfields.

So for today's FU moment just let me say:

Fuck oilworker's jobs, I just want my Gulf back.

Posted by: cwolf on June 21, 2010 at 12:34 PM | PERMALINK

David: the moratorium affects new drilling, the existing ones can continue. And you know damn well that Republicans think workers are chaff to be blown out of the way with any change in economic winds. The BPublicans only pretend to care if the government is the source of that wind.

And like cwolf said, does life has to suck for the rest of us so you can get that specific job? There is no intrinsic guarantee that any particular industry will keep going at a certain rate, or that it will grow - but at least in a "liberal democracy" with a safety net, it won't be a disaster if you are jobless. Tell Republicans to quit voting against jobless bills.

Posted by: Neil B on June 21, 2010 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

So suddenly being unemployed is a problem?
Cuz I could have sworn that just last week unemployed people were refusing to take lesser jobs and living lazy on the dole.
Thy must all be the wrong kind of unemployed people, eh?

Posted by: thebewilderness on June 21, 2010 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK

Those inbred crackers deserve this fool

Posted by: Ted666 on June 21, 2010 at 1:32 PM | PERMALINK

me at 9:35: because Gregory still has no fucking idea that oil is sold on the global market.

David at 12:20: Without our oil production, the US will suffer

It's 1:11 CDT, and oil is still sold on the global market.

Posted by: shortstop on June 21, 2010 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

...south Louisiana is predominantly Democrat...

Huh?
Seems more like Southern Louisiana is predominantly abandoned because of Katrina.
It's missing ~ a quarter-million people scattered around the US
in a kind of Katrina victims Diaspora, condemned to
*wander from one FEMA camp to another in an endless search to
"Get their Lives Back".
(*dramatic license)

Posted by: cwolf on June 21, 2010 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

In case anyone comes in late, and I saw not rebuttal of "Also it is a blanket shutdown" from Ken E Beck - Uh no, it's just a moratorium on new drilling. That doesn't shut down anything, existing wells continue to operate and AFAIK even in-progress drilling continues for the most part, true?

Posted by: Neil B on June 21, 2010 at 3:58 PM | PERMALINK

What I don't understand is how any of Barbour's deranged rantings could be viewed by his constituents or neighbors. I have family in Alabama and they're SICK about the spill, so watching someone like Barbour downplaying it and acting like it's not that big of deal seems like a really stupid way to go. I know it's their standard MO (blame Obama for everything and anything) but they've seem to have lost perspective on what people actually might think of them when they say such stupid things. Not to mention that anyone who has a financial claim to make about spill-related damage has to be screaming at the TV whenever Barbour speaks.

These folks need a nickname-- disaster deniers?

Posted by: zoe kentucky on June 22, 2010 at 8:09 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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