Sandy Hook

Sandy Hook

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Jones Act: Republican Mythology and Hypocricy

If Republicans and the right-wing were the patriots they claim to be, they would get on board and support efforts to clean up and save the Gulf Coast region after the worst environmental disaster in our country's history. They would put their petty lies and self-serving politics aside and ask, "What can we do?"

One thing Fox News could do is to report things as they are and not as they imagine them to be. They could support the president and all the people working night and day cleaning up and trying desperately to keep the oil from spreading. They could provide food and water. They wouldn't even have to raise money because Rupert Murdoch is a veritable fountain of dough.

Since they're all good back slapping Christians - at least that's what they tell us - the right should quit talking the talk and start walking the walk.

Sounds simple enough but these are ugly times. It's not like the Depression when neighbors and communities came together to help each other. It's not like World War II when Democrats and Republicans lined up behind the president to volunteer not only for the armed services but to roll bandages and dance with the men.

But we don’t have that now. Instead we have the politics of divide and conquer, of destruction and disloyalty.

NOTE: The Jones Act, passed in 1920, requires “that commerce between U.S. ports on the inland and intracoastal (sic) waterways be reserved for vessels" that are U.S. built, owned, manned and registered under U.S. law.

A few weeks ago, the Heritage Foundation posted an article accusing the Obama administration of not accepting offers of help from foreign nations. They further criticized the government for not waiving the Jones Act.

Of course they criticized the MSM for not covering the story. And it didn't - probably for the same reason I didn't pursue it: the only place you could find mention of it was on right-wing blogs. I may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer but I recognize a red flag when I see it.

On the same day that the article appeared on the Internet, June 10, "Heritage Foundation fellow Joseph Carafano set the tone on Fox News, noting that foreign ships are being sidelined because 'this is a big thing for unions. The unions see it as…protecting jobs. They hate when the Jones Act gets waived, and they pound on politicians when they do that.'"

Obama’s critics insist he should follow the lead of his predecessor. "In the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the Bush administration didn't hesitate to waive the law completely in an emergency," John Fund wrote in the Wall Street Journal.

. . . It is true that Bush issued a Jones Act waiver post-Katrina. But he did so not to help relief efforts, but rather as a gift to the oil industry. The waiver allowed firms to use unregulated foreign vessels to ship oil and gas from local refineries that were damaged in the hurricane.

At the same time he waived the Jones Act, Bush suspended anti-pollution laws for gasoline.

Flash forward to the Gulf Oil Spill: On June 15, Adm. Thad Allen, the Coast Guard's point man on the disaster, issued a press release noting that there are already 15 foreign-flagged ships working the spill—the act only applies to ships operating within three miles of shore, and there's plenty of work to be done outside that boundary.

. . . Shipping companies that rely on foreign vessels have long hoped to amend the act so that they can compete domestically without paying US taxes or complying with domestic labor, environmental, or safety regulations. (Many of these, such as the Virginia-based Liberian International Ship and Corporate Registry, are American companies.) Firms that would prefer to save money by using foreign-registered ships have also griped about the Jones Act.

There's one big reason the Jones Act, this union-friendly protectionist measure, has managed to survive a frontal assault by big corporations: national security. The act's requirements that domestic vessels be owned, registered, and built in America—and largely operated by US crews—ensures that there are sufficient working shipyards and skilled labor to supply the military's needs.
Had Obama waived the Jones Act, the same group of malcontents would have "accused him of sacrificing national security for the environment and a chance to export jobs to his European socialist friends."

If the right-wing were truly made up of patriotic Americans, this is what they would be thinking about and doing something about - not criticizing and obstructing.


  1. Good coverage on this issue, tnlib. I've read all over the rightwing blogsphere people repeating this Jones Act canard, and it sounded fake to me as well. I didn't take the time to find out the facts, so I'm glad to read them here.

    It won't stop the Obama haters. They never let facts get in the way of their contempt for him.

  2. Another reason why there are so few foreign clean-up vessels aiding in this effort: There are numerous oils spills around the world right now ... not just the one we hear about daily ... and all foreign assets are strained to capacity. Furthermore, all available oil tankers are leased ... too busy earning money for their operators. Contactual obligations prevent these operators from releasing them for clean-up, and the lease backlog is 6 years long!

    The right wing ideological war against government and against Obama is fever pitch and virtually bordering on treason!

  3. If I remember correctly, Bush also suspended the Jones Act to bring in cheap labor to help with the clean up - much to the dismay of the unions who were prepared to do the job themselves.

  4. At this point I don't think anything will stop the haters. Their all or nothing attitude can only destroy the country.

    I've done some editing since you left your comments (thank you). Added a brief video.

  5. I think if Obama could walk on water,the right would accuse him of being an elitist, to good to swim.
    I just don't think we as a country will ever mend this rip..

  6. It is a no win situation for the current administration. They are going to be blasted no matter what they do. To me the U.S. is not a unified country anymore... there seems to be nothing that can pull us together. The Republican and Tea parties seem to be fueled by hatred. Perhaps it is so with us Democrats as well; however, I would prefer to hope that come election time we will come out of the woodwork and vote for some sort of normalcy & morality. I seem to be at the age where the fight has gone out of me; I just cringe at what I hear & read... but by god I still have a vote!

  7. Tim - that's so distressing but I don't know how we'll ever survive this attack on out basic freedoms either. A sick group of people.

  8. Lizzy: Thoughtful comment. Like you, I hope and think the voting booths will tell the story, which they will of course, unless the machines are fixed. Reliable polls are showing that fewer and fewer people view the Tea Party favorably, Palin's polls have certainly taken a dive and over 50% of voting Republicans disapprove with what their party is doing in Congress.

    The thing that is working in favor of these Republicans, centrists of both parties and Democrats is that the more desparate the right-wing becomes the more they overstretch. If you were a politically conservative fisherman in LA, would you vote for Jindal after the crap he's been pulling?

    Read this account of how Gulf coast govs are not deploying the National Guard.;videoMetaInfo

    Found at Annette's:

  9. I agree with the gentleman in the video...I am not surprised at anything any more. Everything started unraveling in 2000. We are on a downward spiral that gathers speed with every day...and I mostly attribute it to the Republican Party who is in collusion with Corporate America. They simply have no integrity, honor or principles beyond the God Almighty buck.

  10. If Obama stuck his finger into the GOP gusher and plugged it up, the right would complain about the big-government takeover. If the finger was on his left hand they would call it socialist. If on his right hand, they would call it Nazi. The would also accuse him of polluting the Gulf with his Kenyan dirt.

  11. "If the right-wing were truly made up of patriotic Americans, this is what they would be thinking about and doing something about - not criticizing and obstructing."

    Truer words were never spoken. There is nothing patriotic about right-wing Americans.

  12. Perhaps it is so with us Democrats as well

    IIRC, Congressional Democrats voted many times with the Bush administration on many issues.

    The Congressional Republicans, during the Obama administration? Very few to none. And mostly none.

    Remember, guys, how the Republicans glommed onto Clinton when he was president and tried and succeeded to impeach him?

    I've been reading that the GOP hopes to take back the House and that the execrable Darrell "sob-My Brother Made Me Do It--sob" Issa will begine the process of issuing subpoenas against the Obama administration. That's what I read.

    We are no longer the United States of America, we are the Divided States of America.

    DSA! DSA! DSA!

    The responsibility for this awful situation lies mostly with the GOP and people like Newt Gingrich, Glenn Beck, and Sarah Palin. The worst, of course, is the Hindenberg of Gasbags, Limbaugh.

  13. Great post!
    The people no longer come together to help America, they come together to help their political party.
    That's a loss for America, especially when one party does whatever to gain political points and power, and could care less about our land and people.
    That's the selfish, win at all costs politics of Newt and the conservative bunch that came into power in the 1990's. It all started with Reagan who declared our own government, our worst enemy.
    Don't try to improve it (our government) just destroy it. Starve it of the money needed to operate. Put it so far in debt, it cannot recover. Then they can go back home to their guns and their God, and everything will be just perfect.

  14. jad - (hope you don't mind me calling you that but my dyslexic brain can't wrap itself around jadedj): There are so many things that don't have the aroma of integrity - the Supreme Court, elections such as in SC, BP, etc., etc. - all wrapped up and paid for with big money. The Republicans are whores and the corporations are their johns.

    TC: I snorted so hard at that one I cried. I'm going to have to keep it forever.

    JC: I just wonder if we are the only ones who can see this in the crowd who loves to misquote the Constitution.

    Shaw: Your last graph is right on but I would also add the MSM. No wonder Obama has such contempt for them. They deserve nothing but contempt from every halfway intelligent individual.

    DSA! DSA! DSA! Sad but true.

    Tom: "Don't try to improve it (our government) just destroy it." And that's exactly what's happening. "But we're not racist." Yeah, right.

  15. I've got nothing to add Leslie. Wish I had something entertaining to say but what's left to say about the right? They've been lying their asses of since Nixon's day. A righty who's a stand up guy like Gerald Ford is all but ignored by them. It's like these kooks are ashamed of honesty and wanting to make America a better place for anyone but the wealthy and powerful.

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  17. I'm with Truth101, I don't have anything to add. I'm not surprised one damned bit by any of it anymore.

  18. I can't add another thing either but surely enjoyed the comments and a great post Leslie!

  19. Truth and Bee: How depressed we're sounding. How discouraged. Not only is this conspiracy about the Jones Act bad enough - an effin lie no matter how you slice it - but here comes that worm Jindal and other Gulf coast govs who are hurting their own citizens in their depraved dash to destroy Obama.

    Tell me if I'm wrong but I can't remember a single Republican president who was treated so disrespectfully and cruelly - and at the expense of the country and the people - by the Democrats.

  20. WE were tough on Bush but Bush brought that on himself. The lying scumbag righties have been on Obama since they first heard of him for no other reason than he's not a rightie.

    These jokers would vote for Hitler if he said he was a republican.

  21. Truth - I don't think it's just because he's not a rightie. I think it's because he's not a white rightie or a white anything else.

  22. I am so deeply disappointed in my fellow Americans these days. We DO sound depressed on the left. Hell, I AM depressed. Is this who we really are, a nation that goes down squabbling, scratching and fighting each other?

    From an Imperialist's viewpoint, America is ripe to be overtaken and colonized. From an Historian's viewpoint, we peaked in 1940 and have been in an uneven death spiral ever since, never able to recover from our own imperialistic yearnings and our racism. From an Economist's viewpoint, we represent yet another failed theory. From a Global Market Trader's viewpoint, we've been devalued to near junk-bond status. From a Sociologist's viewpoint, our national character has been fatally eroded. I can't seem to find a viewpoint that doesn't shame or depress me.

    And, yet, our President trudges on, just doing the next right thing. It's his viewpoint I struggle to maintain.

  23. Nance, I sense the discouragement all across the board. I feel it too but I'm going to do my best to keep trudging. Nothing comes easy and if we let go. those yahoos will win and that would be the true disaster.

  24. The right wing is scum. Selfish, hypocritical, and (most of all) stupid, useless scum. I have no problem with saying that, because it happens to be the truth.

    Some day, after this country breaks up, a lot of those scumbags will find themselves facing little things they all love so much now-things like indefinite detention and summary punishment. Quite a few of us are going to remember who it was that drove us to the breaking point, and it is human nature to seek retribution.

  25. Excellent post, tnlib. On the national security matter, I will add that in a time when terrorists would dearly like to hit this country again, the availability of unregulated foreign vessels operating within the three-mile limit routinely would be made to order.

  26. Well, JR, I sincerely hope it's not going to come to that.

    SW: I hadn't even thought of that but you certainly have a valid point. Gives me the willies just to think about it.

  27. Thanks for a factual look at the significance of the Jones Act.

    You are absolutely right in your conclusion that no matter what Obama does, the right-wing will find reason to criticize and even blame him.

    I have copied your 26 comments to Word to read (cannot see names with blue links on my black background) as I am very interested in your readers’ thoughts.

    It struck me as I began to read the first few comments that many liberals and progressives check out what’s going on on conservative blogs. Do you think conservatives bother to read what we are saying on our blogs? In a pig’s eye.

    Trying to educate the right-wing to FACTS is like leading the horse to water: you can’t make him drink.

  28. It is hard to be a right-winger and be concerned with facts at the same time.

  29. B.J. wrote, "Trying to educate the right-wing to FACTS is like leading the horse to water: you can’t make him drink."

    True, but that's not the half of it. When caught in unfamiliar territory that way they often become disoriented and act more cranky and resentful than usual. :)

  30. Liberian tankers sail under what is called a flag of convenience and are notoriously unsafe. One-third of the world's tankers have either the flag of Liberia or Panama, another flag of convenience register.

    The toxin of the right has infected the progressive blogosphere and punditry as well. You would think these people welcomed a Congress with Mitch McConnell and John Boner in charge; they might as well be campaign flacks for Mitt Romney.

    One "liberal" blogger I read actually complained that Obama negotiated the escrow fund instead of taking the money (how, he didn't explain) and griped that 30,000 people working on cleanup was nothing to brag about when a million were needed. He didn't explain where the million would come from; how they would be recruited and transported; the logistics of supplying places to eat, sleep, move bowels, and buy toilet paper; or how their safety and security would be guaranteed. He remained blissfully ignorant of the 2-3 million extra bodies required to accomplish all of this.

    I expect the nonsense from the right. But do progressives have to shoot themselves in the head?

  31. Glad you liked it, Leslie. Sad that it's true.

  32. BJ - I rarely read conservative blogs - only when friends send me links. ;-) I have had conversations with some on other blogs and it's like beating your head against the wall.

    JC: Absolutely. They never bother to check facts. If they do, it's just another rightie source.

    SW: Just like our cats.

    K: Not all tankers are that decrepit. My uncle was a merchant seaman all his life for Lykes Bros. - one of the largest and most subsidized shipping companies in the U.S. Maybe foreign vessels are rusty and leaky but U.S. ships are in pretty good condition. Some of them even carry a few passengers.

    The Liberian or Panamanian flags really don't mean a hell of a lot. " (Many of these, such as the Virginia-based Liberian International Ship and Corporate Registry, are American companies.) "

    TC: Yes, it is sad, but a sense of humor is our best weapon.