Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Bad Guys Get Away

I am an artist...It's self-evident that what that word implies is looking for something all the time without ever finding it in full. It is the opposite of saying, "I know all about it. I've already found it." As far as I'm concerned, the word means, "I am looking. I am hunting for it. I am deeply involved."

---Vincent Van Gogh

I scarcely remember counting upon any Happiness---I look not for it if it be not in the present hour---nothing startles me beyond the Moment. The setting sun will always set me to rights---or if a Sparrow come before my Window I take part in its existence and pick about the Gravel.

---John Keats

Hast thou named all the birds without a gun? Loved the woodrose, and left it on its stalk?

---Ralph Waldo Emerson

I guess our political system is based on Britain's history, with both of us taking our model from Rome's experiment in Greek democracy. But toward the end, before the so-called barbarians just walked into town and took over, Rome's system had fallen apart. The senate bickered and accomplished nothing. The executive could speak but had to get into the emperor's pocket for funding. The military was intervening everywhere. The courts sentenced questioners to crucifixion. And the emperors were mad with greed and lust.

My teaching career was spent largely celebrating our republic's ways of doing things politically. And just yesterday, I urged a friend to write her federal congressperson for help with a local post office. I guess I'm still a believer. But those primary results and all the conversation I hear---if anybody even bothers to talk about it---demonstrate America has lost faith dramatically in Washington, DC.

Two articles this morning explain to me how and why this has happened. The first is by Glenn Greenwald, previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator in New York. He is the author of the book "How Would a Patriot Act?," a critique of the Bush administration's use of executive power, released in May 2006. His second book, "A Tragic Legacy", examines the Bush legacy. In one dynamic paragraph he sums up our disillusion~~~

"It makes perfect sense that the country loathes the political establishment. Just look at its rancid fruits over the past decade: a devastating war justified by weapons that did not exist; a financial crisis that our Nation's Genuises failed to detect and which its elites caused with lawless and piggish greed; elections that seem increasingly irrelevant in terms of how the Government functions; grotesquely lavish rewards for the worst culprits juxtaposed with miserable unemployment and serious risks of having basic entitlements (Social Security) cut for ordinary Americans; and a Congress that continues to be owned, right out in the open, by the very interests that have caused so much damage. The political establishment is rotten to its core, and the only thing that's surprising is that the citizenry's contempt isn't even more intense than it is. But precisely because that dynamic so clearly transcends Left/Right or Democratic/GOP dichotomies, little effort is expended to understand or explain it."

I recommend the article as well because he points out the United States free press repeats and repeats "anti-incumbency," but doesn't explain WHY. Is this the time the truth came out? Is that what we want?

On Tuesday reporter Amy Goodman published an article at TruthDig that describes step by step how the "leak" in the Gulf happened. If you didn't happen to see "60 Minutes" last week, have you heard of anyone else covering this?

"The gulf oil eruption (for that is what it is, not a 'spill' and not merely a 'leak,' but the unleashing of a hugely powerful jet of oil and gas under enormous pressure, a mile beneath the ocean surface) is likely to become the worst environmental disaster in United States history.

"Mike Williams, the chief electronics technician of the Transocean oil rig, detailed on '60 Minutes' the negligence of both Transocean and BP in the lead-up to the blowout. Williams said a mistake was made during a pressure test, which damaged a critical safety gasket, or annular. Later, a crew member reported finding chunks of the rubber gasket in the effluent that surfaces during the drilling process. This annular is part of the blowout preventer, which is the device on the ocean floor, atop the well, that is supposed to serve as the fail-safe, to prevent exactly the type of catastrophe that is unfolding now. There also was a known electrical failure on the blowout preventer.

"Williams also detailed an argument aboard the Deepwater Horizon rig between the Transocean manager and the BP manager. Transocean had been hired to drill the hole and to plug it until BP returned to begin oil extraction. The argument involved how best to plug the hole.

"Transocean, Williams recounted, wanted to leave a heavy mudlike substance in the well shaft, to help the concrete plugs (installed by Halliburton) stay in place. BP wanted the substance removed, ostensibly to expedite the later extraction. 'BP won,' Robert Bea, a University of California-Berkeley engineering professor, told '60 Minutes,' and the concrete plugs failed. The damaged blowout preventer failed as well, and the disaster soon followed."

Can anything be done? Will anything be done? Or, as one guy remarked, does BP actually stand for Beyond Prosecution? Is it too late?


Liberality said...

History does repeat itself. Or social institutions are breaking down, that much is plain.

jazzolog said...

I believe what is plain is the Evangelical Christian, of the TeaParty type, has an incorrect worldview. Not only is it incorrect, I think, but it is an evolutionary deadend. It's a threat to our species.

That view is---and one of you correct me if I'm wrong---God gave humans the Earth to dominate and control. The fallen angel of evil, the serpent Devil himself has infiltrated the Garden and it is our job to stomp him out. Nature has fallen with Satan and must be ruled with the most iron of hands. Semper Fi!

The United States of America is the Kingdom of God on Earth, and it is here we make our stand against the evil world. Each of us true Americans has the God-given right to carve out, through hard work and righteous living, a piece of ground that is our own. The US Constitution guarantees me the right to form a militia with shotguns to defend my property...even against our own government if the Antichrist has managed to infiltrate. God gave us the Earth as the resource to use for profit and victory in this battle for Salvation.

If I am correct in this assessment, it is up to Christians to clean our own house before the other religions of the world have to do it. Or before the earth becomes uninhabitable for the human lifeform.

Martha Borders said...

Bill Maher Describes Rand Paul: It's As If Sarah Palin Made It Through Med School.

jazzolog said...

Since Bob Sheak retired from Ohio University's sociology/anthropology department(s), he prefers reference to him to be as a private citizen who reads books. He dismisses listings of him, even at OU sites, as an emeritus (associate) professor. Far be it from me to clear up confusions among anthropological sociologists. Anyway, he replied to this post as follows:

Hey Richard,

Here's my immediate response to your excellent post this morning.

My impression is that we are living through the first decades of decline, environmentally, economically, politically, and culturally. In everyway. There is so much that is wrong and so little that is right. Some are determined to see what is or could be right and devote efforts to calling attention to what is wrong. Some do a lot more. But hope is not the most abundant attitude across our besmirched country. The problems are so big, so interconnected, power is so concentrated and committed to profit and share values for investors, and the responses are so "moderate" from the White House and Congress. Obama seems constrained and willing to operate largely within the narrow limits reflected in the powerful institutional interests around him.

I pulled the book by Riki Ott off my shelf, Not One Drop: Betrayal and Courage in the Wake of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill. There's also a DVD that tells the epic story: Black Wave: The Legacy of the Exxon Valdez. It is certainly a testament to the courage and endurance of Ott and other residents in the affected area. But, in the end, they lose. I don't know what the end result of the BP spill will be, but right now it appears that the environmental devastation is catastrophic. It's disheartening that Obama is unwilling to take deep-water drilling off the table. Perhaps it's because the energy situation is so formidable that truly effective alternatives boggle his mind.

On the back cover of the book, Not One Drop, the editor write: "Shocking, factual, and inspiring, Not One Drop traces the twenty-year trail of Cordova, Alaska, residents as they cope with the largest oil spill and one of the longest-running court cases in U.S. history - and, ultimately, the failure of Exxon to come through on its promise to compensate them adequately for their losses and clean up their environment after the Exxon Valdez oil spill.

"Not One Drop is a moving human tale. A fisherwoman and scientist, Riki Ott, chronicles the struggles and resilence of the Cordova people as they overcome despair and find hope. Her activist heart leads her into the center of the battle for her community, and ultimately to a quest to protect other communities in America from similar harm.

"Ott portrays a clash of human rights and corporate power that leaves every American vulnerable, unless we can reinvigorate our democracy and reform a legal system that currently holds corporations above citizens."

My reading of events of recent years is that if anything has changed since the Exxon Valdez spiil, it is that the oil corporations have become more powerful than they were back in 1989. The current oil spill in the Gulf may come to exceed the spill of the Exxon Valdez. Whether it does or not, the corporations involved will "live" on. You can bet on that.

Riki Ott was interviewed by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now, March 24, 2009.

jazzolog said...

Maybe The Bad Guys Won't Get Away This Time

t r u t h o u t | Criminal Investigations of Massey Energy Go Forward as Citizen Pressure Builds for
"Just over a month ago, I wrote urging criminal prosecution of Massey Energy executives for the deaths of coal miners at the Upper Big Branch Mine. Since then, more evidence of criminal wrongdoing has been shown and federal prosecutors and the FBI are investigating the corporation and its executives...."

Black Water Rising
"The final moments aboard the Deepwater Horizon rig before the explosion and fire, the impact on the Gulf ecosystem, BP's record for safety violations... this is a good one." Evan Thomas and Daniel Stone, Newsweek

Liberality said...

I agree with you that humans hold themselves as apart and different from the natural world. It is a huge mistake. But not every human culture behaved like this. Native cultures lived within their ecosystem in harmony for the most part. Our current system thinks of these cultures as savage and unsophisticated but we know who the true savages are.

Now, we were born into this system and brought up to believe in its rightness. We can see now how wrong those assumptions are and we must do anything and everything we can to change that corrupt and self-serving system or else there is no real future for life on this planet.