From Theda Skocpol, a tiny bubble of sense in the vast wave of media bullshit:
Let’s have an analysis of what it would take, over months and years, to create government agencies — FDIC, MMS, etc. — capable of actually holding powerful corporations to account in an effective partnership…
In the oil spill case, the evil was done years ago during the unholy Republican-oil industry alliance, and during years of deliberate efforts to gut the morale, expertise, and will to act of regulatory agencies. Let’s face it, why would the best people even want to go into government regulatory work, when all you get is months of delay in congressional confirmations and a constant round of pushes and pulls and public humiliation? We have the federal agencies we seem to want: ineffective ones.
To rebuild, will take at least the following: strong public leadership in agencies as well as the White House; an agency with appointees quickly confirmed by Congress and left in place for years with the right to recruit and back up devoted experts and regulators sharing a strong purpose to serve the public; and oversight but never micro-lobbying by Congress. Congress people willing to tell powerful corporations to lay off, instead of pressing agencies for exceptions to rules on their behalf.
The Obama administration is trying to rebuild and use a federal government that has been ransacked and humiliated and weakened over decades of deliberate mismanagement by private-interest-oriented Republicans and “new” Democrats. It is an uphill battle, and it does not help that the media and commentators are not even helping the public understand the real issues. More anger from President Obama is totally beside the point here.
As for this spill, it will not end for months. There is nothing any government on earth can do when a private corporate giant was allowed to drill beyond the technological means to correct a major disaster — and then that disaster occurs.
The White House should definitely not take direct responsibility for fixing the pipes. It should focus on holding BP accountable and on coordinating the compensation, mitigation, and repairs needed. It should, as Obama is doing, find out what went wrong and demand changes for the future.