Reflections In the Eye of the Oil Email Print

While the BP drilling rig a mile beneath the sea in the Gulf of Mexico continues to spew thousands of barrels of oil per day, threatening the ecosystem of the entire region, the damage it is causing does not stop there. Sadly, at a time when all humankind should be coming together to find a solution to this calamitous event, instead there are forces at work attempting to use this disaster to further the already widespread philosophical divide among Americans that began with the Bush/Cheney neocon invasion of 2001 and continues to this day.

This attendant damage, which is becoming more widespread daily across the length and breadth of our country, comes in the form of the preposterous garbage being spewed over the airwaves, through television and radio, with regards to what is fast becoming one of the most catastrophic man-made disasters in history. Consider the following comments made recently on-air:

"The sea ‘eats’ oil.... the sea eats oil ‘alive’... That place up there, nature cleaned it up faster than we ever could...." This from one of the foremost scientific minds of our time, Rush Limbaugh, referring to Prince William Sound in Alaska, site of the tragic Exxon Valdez disaster of March, 1989. Apparently, he was attempting to draw a parallel between that oil spill and the one in the Gulf of Mexico as a way of convincing his audience that it’s really no big deal. Why worry? is the message he’s hoping the gullible will swallow; why, just look at Prince William Sound today, which according to Professor Rush, is "pristine."

Pristine? Not according to the Exxon Valdez Trustee Oil Spill Council, which was formed in the wake of that disaster to oversee restoration of the injured ecosystem in the North Gulf of Alaska, and has been monitoring the region ever since. The most recent results of their extensive testing and research reveals that today, more than twenty years later, oil is in fact still there devastating the environment, in some places nearly as toxic as it was during the first weeks following the accident.

Still, we get this from Professor Rush: "Nature cleaned itself up so damned fast it was sure a laughable thing to watch, people with dish towels and dishwashing detergent wiping oil off of the rocks at Prince William Sound...."

And he doesn’t stop there. He wants to know why today everyone is pointing the finger at BP, Halliburton and Transocean (the world’s largest offshore drilling company), blaming them for the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, when clearly the Sierra Club is responsible for the disaster.

The Sierra Club???

Clearly.

"Let me connect the dots for you," he explains, "The ‘Greeniacs’ have been driving our oil producers off the land, from off shore to ‘way’ off shore, to ‘way, way, way out there’ off shore. From low risk, to high risk, to higher risk, we are forced to drill one mile under the sea, that’s 5000 feet. Obviously, it’s going to be a much more expensive, problematic proposition to get oil from that depth than elsewhere, and that is what has been forced upon everyone here."

Obviously. Clearly. Thank you, Professor Rush, for availing us of your extensive environmental and scientific knowledge and acumen. As a nation, we are grateful. And I’m confident that BP, Halliburton and Transocean are, as well. Your check is in the mail.

By the way, Rush, eleven workers died in that rig explosion. Any words for their families?

Many others on the right are doing the bidding of their master, Big Oil, as well, attempting to downplay the disaster in the gulf or spin it in another direction entirely. On Fox, Brit Hume asked, "Where’s the oil? Except for little chunks of it, you’re not even seeing it on the shore." He went on to say that, "It’s too soon to say if the ‘full parade of horribles’, both environmental and economic will actually come to pass...."

Like in the "pristine" Prince William Sound, where to this day, for example, the Herring industry has not recovered?

Hume also believes that the spill in the Gulf of Mexico has obscured some "critical" facts, one being that offshore oil rig spills have declined from 240 in 1971 to 25 last year, and that most spills come from tanker accidents. And, of course, if we restrict offshore drilling it means we’ll have "more tankers filled with foreign oil steaming toward American shores."

Following that astute line of rationale, I would point out that the dropping of atomic bombs has declined from 2 in 1945 to 0 last year. So, if we dropped even 1 this year, well....

Then, using the best hang-dog look he could muster, Hume looked directly into the camera to solemnly report that President Obama has already suspended his plan for new offshore drilling pending the outcome of the situation in the Gulf of Mexico.

Clearly, Obama’s advisors are falling down on the job. You’d think SOMEone close to him would point out the encouraging statistics about the A-bomb; add some "context" to his decision.

No mention by Hume, though, of those eleven people who died on that rig. Or of the birds, fish and other wildlife dying from those "little chunks of oil;" or the fishermen who no longer have jobs; or the restaurants that have had to close down; or how the lives of thousands of people have been tragically impacted, countless numbers of whom are facing ruin, all because BP, adhering to the Ayn Rand philosophy of Objectivism, which emphasizes individualism and self-interest over everything else, said to hell with safety and took procedural shortcuts for no other reason than to boost profits.

And here our narrative shifts from the tragedy of the Limbaugh brand of punditry and that of self-styled "news analysts" like Hume, to the political arena, where Dr. Rand Paul, winner of the Republican primary for Senate in Kentucky, weighed in on the BP disaster, describing President Obama’s handling of the incident as "Putting his boot heel on the throat of BP," and going on to say that Obama’s actions were "Really un-American."

He then cited what he calls our "Blame-game society:" "It’s always got to be somebody’s fault, instead of the fact that sometimes ‘accidents’ happen."

Again, no mention of the eleven who died when that rig exploded; omitted, perhaps, by accident.

So, let’s have a warm round of applause for Dr. Rand Paul, new darling and champion of the Tea Baggers (named after Ayn Rand herself), who recently on the Rachel Maddow show on MSNBC did a political dance around the question of whether he supported the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and refused to answer even when Maddow put it to him directly and asked for a simple yes or no. Instead, Paul countered with an inane apple-and-oranges like analogy of whether an individual should have the right to carry a gun in a private establishment, for instance a restaurant, where, apparently, he believes it is the right of the owner/proprietor to refuse service to minorities– or to anyone, if he so chooses– for no other reason than he doesn’t like the cut of their jib (Hey you! Yeah, YOU! the hippie with the long hair, OUT of my restaurant, NOW!).

Seriously? Are we in some kind of time warp here? Is this as far as we’ve come as a society?

Back in the Senate, meanwhile, Senator Robert Menendez (Democrat-New Jersey), for the second time attempted to get legislation passed that would raise the liability cap on oil spills, from the current $75 million, up to $10 billion. Harry Reid went on record to say that even $10 billion was "inadequate."

Reid’s point quickly became moot, however, when Republican Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma blocked the effort, saying it would make drilling "too expensive" for smaller companies.

Inhofe was not was the first to rush in to protect "independent" oil companies, however. A week earlier, Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska blocked the legislation when it was first introduced.

Whew, I’m relieved! I was beginning to worry that the champions of Big Oil had abandoned them in their hour of need, that they’d be left without a single voice in Congress to advocate for them against this ridiculous accountability and "Stewardship of the planet" nonsense.

As if.

Your checks are in the mail, Senators.

The overlaying tragedy of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, beyond of course the fact that the devastation to the people of the region, the environment and the ecosystem of the area will be felt for generations to come, is that it has produced this ripple effect of tragedy upon tragedy upon tragedy, until, in the end, calling it "tragic," in every sense of the word, is simply not enough.

I say that because, beyond the obvious implications of what the disaster itself means to our planet, rather than bringing out the best of the best to solve the immediate problem, cap the leak and do what has to be done to essentially save ourselves and our planet, the vultures have come home to roost.

Rush Limbaugh has the temerity to address a disaster that holds potentially dire consequences for us all by putting forth the proposition that the explosion on the oil rig was sabotage; or that this is what the Obama Administration wanted, giving them an excuse to stop drilling; or that it may even have been the doing of environmentalists, the "Greeniacs," attempting to thwart any further offshore drilling. And the next day around the water cooler, the Professor Rush Dittoheads are repeating it and spreading the word as if it’s the gospel.

And therein, the tragedy of the situation becomes even more tragic. Sad to say, there are those to whom application of the term "gullible," falls far short of the intended mark. I’m referring to the simple-minded gherkins who listen to someone like Limbaugh– who has laughably (tragically?) been called the "Intellectual leader of the GOP–" and hang on every word he says; the ones who actually believe the drivel he spouts and buy into it.

This goes far beyond mere gullibility.

It’s tragic. On any number of levels.

They listen to Limbaugh, Beck, Hume– the list goes on and on. And they just don’t get it. They do not get that these people they’re listening to are being paid Big Money by the likes of Big Oil to pollute the airwaves with garbage in order to manipulate the malleable minds of the ignorant into believing whatever they want them to believe, which gives them license to do as they please.

Prince William Sound today is pristine. Where’s the oil? The sea eats oil alive.

It’s the way Big Oil and BP and Halliburton buy the support and leverage they need to make as much money as they possibly can, at the expensive of everyone else.

Ayn Rand would be proud.

But are these people– the hard core Dittoheads and the wannabes– ever going to wake up to the truth? That of all the pipelines in the world, the only one that is truly protected is the one that runs directly from the coffers of Big Oil into the pockets and bank accounts of the Pauls, Palins, Inhofes, Limbaughs, O’Reillys and all the rest who wrap themselves in the American flag, call themselves "patriots," then retire to their respective counting houses at the end of the day, there to bask in the glow of their thirty pieces of corporate silver.

It’s precisely that kind of patriotism to which English author Samuel Johnson was referring, when in 1775 he proclaimed it to be "The last refuge of a scoundrel."

I ask that you draw your own conclusions.

I wish, too, that someone would point out to Ron and Rand Paul that while "Atlas Shrugged" and "The Fountainhead" are good books, they are, in fact, works of fiction. Applying that philosophy to real life? I submit we need look no further than the Gulf of Mexico right now to see how well that works. Trying to find a Hank Reardon or Dagny Taggart in real life would be taking up the mantle of Diogenes or Sisyphus. Which will it be, the lantern or the rock? You pays your money and you takes your choice.

Eleven people died on that oil rig. In an accident that could and should have been prevented.

If I ever hear "Drill, baby, drill," again, from anyone, I won’t have to see it to know they’re wearing an "S" on their chest. (Hint: It’s a six letter word that has nothing to do with Superman).


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