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The president thunders that BP has 48 hours to improve its oil capture Kabuki.

Okay. Or what, Mr. President?

Another stern letter? A glare at a press conference?

Here's an idea: arrest.

The very next time one BP employee tells the EPA where to apply its dispersant regs, or tells the Coast Guard who's allowed to witness onshore operations, or refuses to allow independent scientists to analyze the flow from the oil hell. . .

Bust 'em.

Just one will be required, though the lesson would be most effective if the perp were a comfortably suited and air-conditioned upper management type. I wouldn't want to see a guy who actually gets on the boots and Tyvek have to pay for the sins of the company.

But allowing these instances of arrogance and contempt to pile up is weakening not only the command structure of the Coast Guard but the administration as a whole. BP is teaching the world by example that governments, even the supposedly most powerful government on the planet, are nothing more than sidekicks, bumbling comic relief characters.

While this may, in fact, be true, it's a dangerous truth to have known. BP's casual disregard for the requests--and orders--of the government is a blatant assault on the sovereignty of the United States and, by extension, of all nations.

This "spill" is a crucial moment in the relationship between corporations, which exist solely for the economic benefit of their owners, and governments, which, it is to be hoped, still have some obligations to attend to the welfare of all their citizens. It is a crucial test of sovereign authority and, thus far, it is a test our government is failing.

Yes, yes. I know that Joe or Jane manager is going to be out of the tank in less than an hour, and that charges will likely never be made to stick.

But if any moment ever called for a very public frogmarch, this is that moment.

Book 'em, Baracko.


UPDATE: Okay, there are a lot of commenters saying that the government can't simply arrest someone for, say, refusing to stop using dispersants. Somebody please give a clear answer: Who is the controlling authority on this site? Whose word is law?

Originally posted to Crashing Vor on Sun Jun 13, 2010 at 06:42 AM PDT.

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