Say it ain’t so Joe. Please tell me my eyes have deceived me and that the one congressman who had the spine to speak out about the shakedown of BP did not just apologize for his initial comments. While we’re at it someone tell me that John Boehner and other Republican leaders did not use Chicago style political tactics to force Representative Joe Barton (R TX) to essentially apologize for his initial apology to BP.
This whole episode smacks of the Joe Wilson “You Lie” incident, another example in which a politician, in a moment which rarely happens in politics, spoke the truth only to later recant his all too true charges that the President was lying (a non-rare moment in politics, at least with our current Commander-in-Chief). Then as now brazen men spoke truth to power and later apologized for said truth do to political pressure.
Do not misconstrue my protests as a defense of BP. BP should and will pay for the damages they have caused. What myself, and I suspect if you ask him away from open microphones, Rep. Barton seem to agree on is that the process by which BP was forced to create a twenty billion dollar escrow account was probably beyond the power of the presidency.
The President of the United States of America’s job description is to enforce the laws created in the legislative branch. Strictly speaking he does not have the power to create or eliminate laws. This country was never meant to be ruled by a sole individual passing law by fiat. This is what Rep. Barton was trying to say.
By shaking down BP President Obama essentially nullified a stipulation in the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 which capped the liability for an offshore oil spill at seventy-five million dollars. While this law does seem to provide for too little liability it is not within the president’s power to impose a twenty billion dollar fine without the consent of congress. Make no mistake; President Obama was not the originator of this march toward autocracy he is simply the most recent president to wield the ever-growing powers of the executive branch.
Our 43rd President, George W. Bush was also guilty of expanding executive power far beyond its intended limitations. From a record number of executive orders to the new technique called “signing statements” the pseudo-conservative Bush grew the size of government more than any president since Johnson while simultaneously centralizing more and more power in the executive branch.
One alarming trend that has developed in our executive branch is that every president has outpaced his predecessor’s number of executive orders. Bush, Sr. enacted only two executive orders followed by Clinton’s fourteen after which Bush, Jr. set the current record at a whopping sixty-one over eight years. With twenty-five in just his first year and a half President Obama is currently on pace to double that number if the nation is forced to suffer through a second Obama term. At this rate we are inching closer and closer to what our founders feared most – tyranny- with every successive presidency.
Rep. Barton could have delivered his message in a better way, with more eloquent and clear language but the spirit of his misgivings should not be lost due to his poor presentation. Better an inarticulate honest man than a silver-tongued devil, especially one who reads a teleprompter with an almost other-worldly ability. In no way was Rep. Barton implying that BP should not be liable, he simply wanted to follow the law and the process in place for this disaster.
Another troubling aspect is that the administration has appointed Kenneth Feinberg, AKA the “Pay Czar” to oversee the escrow account. The President told the public that the man in charge of this twenty billion would be a non-partisan appointee. Feinberg, a political apparatchik of Obama’s is a far-cry from fitting that description.
And so another assault on the constitution has taken place and gone unnoticed by the public in general. The evils of potential future autocracy are overshadowed by the twenty-four hour a day coverage of oil soaked pelicans and the sins of BP. One can only wonder which is more important, the health of Louisiana swamplands or the health of our entire nation.