Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Gulf Coast Pleads for Help

President Obama warned America of damage from the oil spill that began in a fireball on April 20. He said on May 1:

“The oil that is still leaking from the well could seriously damage the economy and the environment of our gulf states and it could extend for a long time.”
The President drove by signs reminiscent of Hurricane Katrina. They include:

1. Delays in recognizing the scope of the disaster and mobilizing equipment
2. The appointment of Thad Allen as disaster coordinator
3. Meeting with Bobby Jindal after flying in on Air Force One
4. The use of "unprecedented" disaster and "nobody expected the levee/blowout preventer to fail."
5. Residents pleading for help with improvised signs.

A federal fund exists to pay oil spill damages. It will disburse up to $1 billion per incident. BP's non-cleanup cost liability is limited to $75 million under federal law passed in 1989 after the Exxon Valdez disaster. It remains to be seen who pays and how much.

Corporations with liability after Hurricane Katrina are still vigorously fighting in court. The Carlyle Group's LifeCare Hospitals lost 25 patients in the aftermath of the storm. Bush charged dead hospitals with self-evacuation, while Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld hoarded his assets.

Rumsfeld's later intransigence during Hurricane Rita angered White House Homeland Security Adviser Frances Townsend to the point of cursing. Fran's Lessons Learned report reads like a whitewash. Who leaves out the hospital with the highest patient death toll? Townsend did. Memorial Medical Center, Tenet Healthcare and LifeCare warrant not one mention in her abysmal investigative tome. (Memorial's political links run to Obama's Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel, DLC Chair when Katrina struck.)

Fran Townsend now advises corporations on government investigations for Baker Botts, James A. Baker, III's law firm. Baker conducted the investigation of BP's Texas City explosion in 2005, which killed 15 people. It's likely the Baker boys are advising BP, thus the widespread use of Bush's Katrina language. It remains to be seen if Frances or Baker Botts are under contract to Uncle Sam on this disaster redux.

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