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Right Likes To Mix Oil With Their Tea

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The massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico threatens to damage the environment, the livelihoods of local commercial fishermen and others, as well as affect the region's residents for months, if not years, into the future. But the response from the Right to the disaster so far also threatens for the long-term any credibility that the so-called tea party movement claims in representing such bedrock conservative principles of limited government, controlled federal spending, or strong national security.

If they truly cared about these core notions of what conservatism at least used to be about, the tea party activists would have been already been plenty angry about the relationship between big oil companies like BP and the federal government. And the disaster now unfolding off the coast of Louisiana only would have increased their outrage.

That the tea partyers seem so unconcerned — and in the case of Kentucky Senate candidate Rand Paul, outright hostile, who went as far as calling President Obama "un-American" for holding BP's feet to the fire — indicates either a profound ignorance of the situation, or more likely, just further unmasks the truth that conservatives today are motivated by unfettered corporatism, not the supposedly high-minded ideals to which they pay lip service.

Were a supposedly limited role for the federal government and spending restraint truly motivations for conservatives, they would be trying to pass legislation to make sure BP pays to clean up its own mess. Instead, it's the conservatives who are blocking such a bill in the Senate, leaving the American taxpayers to pick up the check.

Make no mistake, BP ain't hurting. As the fourth-largest corporation on the planet, BP reported $5.5 billion in profit — not revenue, but take-home profit — in the last three months.

It doesn't need a bailout, but by obstructing legislation to hold the company accountable for paying for its cleanup, the conservatives are offering BP just that.

In so doing, conservatives are talking out of both sides of their mouths. On the one hand, they wail about deficits and debts, but when push comes to shove, it is the right who needlessly adds to the nation's red ink.

BP's bosses aren't even the only Big Oil executives to be reaching into our wallets to take our money. All five of the largest oil companies are reporting huge profits, but they each are taking $20 billion in taxpayer-funded subsidies over the next five years.  Are conservatives outraged over this federal corporate welfare, which even George W. Bush has described as an unnecessary for oil production? Nope, quite the opposite: they are complicit in it. When President Obama proposed eliminating these wasteful tax giveaways — which truly represent an unwarranted federal hand in the private sector — it was a top conservative who howled.

Sen. John Cornyn is the Texas conservative who heads up his party's campaign to elect more Republican senators. He pounds Democrats on the one hand for deficit spending, but the moment someone tried to pull his oil buddies' hands out of your back pockets, Cornyn screamed bloody murder.

Where were the tea party folks during all this? Nowhere that I could see. Apparently, it's easier for the tea-party crowd to talk the limited government talk than it is to walk the walk.

Meanwhile, many conservatives and tea partyers are also busy betraying American national security. By shilling for Big Oil, they are helping to prop up a number of regimes and groups known to be unfriendly toward the United States. Specifically, it's known that each $1 increase in the price of oil provides an additional $1.5 billion to Iran annually. In this way, conservatives who side with Big Oil are giving direct aid and comfort to Iranian strongman Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Fortunately, conservatives can turn this around and start helping, not hurting, their fellow Americans.  One way that they can do this is by supporting the Senate's new American Power Act. The American Power Act aims to contain greenhouse gas emissions, while simultaneously reducing U.S. dependence on foreign oil.

Even if you're one who thinks global climate change is bunk, you should still support the American Power Act. Many serious conservatives for years have recognized that the things they need to do to ensure strong U.S. energy security and national security are the exact same things others want to do to mitigate climate change. This includes such things as government mandates on automakers to manufacture increasingly fuel-efficient vehicles. That means everyone needs to be doing all of the same things in energy policy, even while they may disagree on why they are doing them.

The choice conservative activists face today is as big as the Gulf oil spill itself. They can either live up to what their ideals demand of them, or they can just keep spouting the same empty, angry platitudes in the defense of corporate greed.

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About Scott Nance

  • John Wilson

    Looks like the Tea Party folk had a conflict between supporting Gulf Small Businessmen and BP big corporation and chose the ones that pay their bills: BP and friends.

  • pat

    This oil spill in the Gulf has been handled all wrong by the U.S., once again showing how mismanagement spreads like the oil spill once the break/leak is created.

    The U.S. is not immune from all harms; the BP oil spill proves it. That the U.S. continues to rely upon BP to clean up the mess it made is preposterous. The problem is that of the U.S., not BP.

    It’s like asking a murderer to bury the body. It’s illogical.

    The U.S. government and the Southern states need to be in control of this fiasco, and may end up in the oil business by the reclamation of the resources they are now still so freely permitting to BP despite the harms. BP has lost the privilege of doing business in the Gulf due to their lying about how safely the drilling could be done. They are not trustworthy obviously, and the U.S. needs to take control of its own resources within its international boundaries.

  • Suzan

    Thank you, Handyguy, for a moment of clarity. I quote: “If BP or the government knew how to stop the oil flow, they would have done it by now.” All this rhetoric in the media about who should take over is ridiculous. Sadly, no one knows what to do.

  • John Wilson

    IMO the rightists defend oil companies because they think that it is Good For America, but it is not. 60% of oil companies are owned by foreigners, not Americans. Being traded on stock markets the ownership fluctuates according to individual shareholders ideas of what is a good investment (for them) so it is unrelated to jingoism.

    Also, 75% of all oil drilled anywhere goes to foreign countries because oil is fungible and markets determine distribution. So only 25% of oil from the gulf goes to the US.

    Thus, it is not in the interests of the USA to take chances to promote oil drilling in the gulf, especially when so many unique American Gulfwater businesses are put at risk.

    To defend gulf oil drilling interests on a nationalistic basis, a pro-American basis, one would have to support tougher negotiations on US oil lease deals, such as being sure to include the escalator clause when pumping begins (which was conveniently overlooked during the Bush administration), since the MMS is second only to the IRS in payments to the US Treasury. Also, any decent US businessman, looking at oil company failures, would require spill insurance backed up by a Bond, to pay for damage to other businesses.

  • Rand Paul and Sarah Palin may not be official Tea Party spokespersons, but they both have enthusiastic fans among the Teabag Faithful — and they have provided completely contradictory statements on the spill.

    Ms. Palin, of “Drill Baby Drill” fame/infamy, now accuses the Obama administration of dragging its feet on a response to BP because it is in bed with Big Oil due to campaign contributions. This is pretty funny, as are most of Ms. P’s pronouncements other than the ones she intends as jokes.

    Dr. Paul has of course, suggested that the president is using his feet in a different manner, not dragging them but putting his “boot heel” [you know, as in Fascist] on the neck of poor, poor BP. Will this foolishness lose for him the votes of the people he hadn’t already lost in fumbling around his philosophical dissertations on the 1964 Civil Rights Act?

    If BP or the government knew how to stop the oil flow, they would have done it by now. But both BP and the government will face a PR disaster when pics of oil-soaked birds, fish and beaches start to increase.

    As for how the left feels, Baronius, I think it’s a combination of realizing there’s little the president can do immediately, while wishing he would do more anyway. I rather liked his “ridiculous spectacle of finger pointing” statement, but that only goes so far.

  • Ruvy

    Comments 2 & 3,

    I would suspect that Ron Paul hasn’t been bought off. And, personally, I’m grateful that he is only the Congressman from the 16th CD in Texas. I would not want to see him in office. So, that makes him a fellow of little consequence, in my opinion. So, Doug, we agree…. Nobody of consequence in American politics has not been bought off. Between “very hard to find” and “nobody” is a very small difference.

    Sorry, Irene. I did read Congressman Paul’s own stuff and he hates this country.

  • Baronius

    Scott, do you have a feeling if most of the left shares your interpretation of events?

  • Arch Conservative

    Ron Paul.

    Well I guess the point of whether he’s of any consequence can be argued but to my eyes he does not appear to have been bought off. Agreew ith him or not you know when you ask the guy a question he’s going to give you an answer based on whet he actually believes and not based on what his handlers told him to say that morning after they read the latest public opinion poll.

    What say you Doug and Ruvy.

  • Doug Hunter

    “There are those who have been bought off, and those who haven’t.”

    I disagree Ruvy. Who of any consequence in American politics has not been bought off?

  • Ruvy

    There is no “left” and there is no “right” in American politics. There are those who have been bought off, and those who haven’t. When you hold the ruler that way, it’s very hard to find the politician who hasn’t been bought off.

  • jrobinson

    The only reason BP had to drill in 5,000 feet of water is because our green movement won’t let them work on land or in the shallows; in which case, this would’ve been capped in 24 hrs, not 30 days. Since you’re a leftist, I understand the hatred of corporations, but you’re in a much of an ideological pickle – because the left doesn’t want to recognize their part in the disaster, and doesn’t want to let go of “Mommy Government” and their Progressive Binkie. Government screwed this up just as much if not more than private industry.