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Jim Hightower
Jim Hightower
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Government Impotence and Corporate Rule

Comment

Many news reports about the Gulf oil catastrophe refer to it as a "spill." Wrong. A spill is a minor "oops" — one accidentally spills milks, for example, and from childhood, we're taught the old aphorism: "Don't cry over spilt milk." What's in the Gulf isn't milk and it wasn't spilt. The explosion of BP's Deepwater Horizon well was the inevitable result of deliberate decisions made by avaricious corporate executives, laissez faire politicians and obsequious regulators.

As the ruinous gulf oil blowout spreads onto land, over wildlife, across the ocean floor and into people's lives, it raises a fundamental question for all of us Americans: Who the hell's in charge here? What we're witnessing is not merely a human and environmental horror, but also an appalling deterioration in our nation's governance. Just as we saw in Wall Street's devastating economic disaster and in Massey Energy's murderous explosion inside its Upper Big Branch coal mine, the nastiness in the gulf is baring an ugly truth that We the People must finally face: We are living under de facto corporate rule that has rendered our government impotent.

Thirty years of laissez-faire, ideological nonsense (pushed upon us with a vengeance in the past decade) has transformed government into a subsidiary of corporate power. Wall Street, Massey, BP and its partners — all were allowed to become their own "regulators" and officially encouraged to put their short-term profit interests over the public interest.

Let's not forget that on April 2, barely two weeks before Deepwater Horizon blew and 11 people perished on the spot, the public's No. 1 official, Barack Obama, trumpeted his support for more deepwater oil drilling, blithely regurgitating Big Oil's big lie: "Oil rigs today generally don't cause spills." He and his advisors had not bothered to check the truth of that — they simply took the industry's word. That's not governing, it's aiding and abetting profiteers, and it's a pathetic performance.

But that was only the start of Washington's oily confession that it has surrendered control to corporate arrogance and avarice.

With an unprecedented volume of crude gushing from the well and the magnitude of the disaster multiplying geometrically by the day, who was in charge of coping with that? Not the White House, not the interior secretary, not the EPA. As we saw when Wall Street's greed exploded our economy, the polluting scoundrels were left in charge!

While BP's dapper CEO issued patently ridiculous statements (such as, "Everything we can see at the moment suggests that the overall environmental impact of this will be very, very modest."), our government blindly went along with BP's false assertion that only some 5,000 barrels a day were pouring from the well, when independent experts were shouting at the White House that the correct volume was up to 19 times that much.

Finally, almost a month after the blowout, Obama ordered a moratorium on drilling new offshore wells and on granting environmental waivers to the oil giants. Bravo, Mr. President! But ... his moratorium was simply ignored. Days after his order, oil companies were handed at least seven more drilling permits and five waivers.

Last week, with 63 percent of the public disapproving of his meek deference to BP, the president of the United States of America was reduced to convening a press conference to insist that he was "engaged" and, behind the scenes, was "monitoring" BP's efforts.

Wow, monitoring! Excuse me, but who's the president here? Obama should personally take charge —-cancel all of his social and political events, convene an emergency response team of the best scientific minds in the world, announce a clear plan of clean-up actions, install all relevant Cabinet officials in a Gulf Coast command center to direct the actions, make daily reports on progress to the public, fire a mess of failed regulators and go to Congress with sweeping legislation to replace America's oil dependency with a crash program of conservation and renewable energy sources.

Oh, he should also wring a few corporate necks. Instead of monitoring these criminals, prosecute them — and put the public back in charge of our government.

To find out more about Jim Hightower, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at www.creators.com.

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Comments

8 Comments | Post Comment
You write, " He and his advisors had not bothered to check the truth of that — they simply took the industry's word. That's not governing, it's aiding and abetting profiteers, and it's a pathetic performance.", and "With an unprecedented volume of crude gushing from the well and the magnitude of the disaster multiplying geometrically by the day, who was in charge of coping with that? Not the White House, not the interior secretary, not the EPA."%%%%%%%% So, instead of supporting THESE criminals, prosecute them.
Comment: #1
Posted by: David Henricks
Wed Jun 2, 2010 1:38 AM
Leaving recriminations aside, there is still a breathtaking lack of leadership coming from the White House. As a Democrat, I expect that from Republicans, but to see the poster child of my own party melting down like a blob of Jello on a hot day is a devastating thing. Within the first week of the onset of this disaster he should have called for the CEO's of the world's major oil companies to come to the Gulf and bring their top experts. He should have created a situation room for them to meet to try to come up with solution, with no expense being to great to throw at this. After all, the bill can be sent to BP. Instead he leaves this all largely up to BP without considering how much they are in denial about the magnitude of this. This catastrophe in fact threatens the very existence of BP and it's hard for them to get that in their position. So they've been thinking of small-time solutions in line with their small- time, denial-based perception of what is going on here. Only a leader can call for the directed worldwide response necessary to address this, and he has failed miserably. It's fine to write lofty articles for law journals and make well-crafted campaign speeches, but thinking clearly in an emergency, cutting through the denial, and finding solutions is what is needed to pass the test of true leadership. And no, threatening to throw the bums in jail isn't going to stop the gusher. The recriminations and threats to prosecute are for later after this ongoing disaster is brought under control.
Comment: #2
Posted by: Masako
Thu Jun 3, 2010 5:33 PM
I don't understand the President's lack of leadership either. One almost starts to want to listen to conspiracy theories in order to understand. With nothing aggressive coming from the White House you'd begin to wonder just who's pulling the strings.
As for BP, or any oil company, going out of business, I would think that they'd just take their oil to China and sell it there.
Comment: #3
Posted by: Gil Munk
Sat Jun 5, 2010 9:43 AM
It is easy to understand Obama's lack of leadership. He is Step and Fetch It for the corporations who have taken over our government and our lives. He is now Bend Over Obama for the corporations. Obama is no different from George Bush. At least with Bush we knew we were getting the village idiot. Obama fooled us, he lied to us, we believed him, he broke our hearts and shattered our hopes. Obama is as bad as Bush, maybe worse. Obama disgusts me even more than Bush because Obama knows he is a disgrace and he has no shame, Bush was too dumb to know.
Where do we go from here? Obama is helpless as president. As helpless as we are. When Obama said no more permits to drill and he was ignored and seven were issued within days, that tells you that Obama is just a sham, it is alll theatre with him, playing to the crowd and the crowd is getting mighty damn mad at his BS.
If the country were united, we could get better government. But a poor educational system along with mind numbing television, and fundamentalist blind religion with their manipulators, are greatly responsible for citizens too ignorant to know what is in their own best interests. They dress up like Revolutionary War soldiers and prance around with guns in their fat, lazy hands thinking it is a tea party. Morons, all of them, misled by opportunistic parasitic politicians such as Sarah Palin. The boook "What's The Matter With Kansas," explains these bozos who vote and believe against their own best interests. They don't have a clue, and when the majority of citizens are clueless, ignorant sheep, the current situation is what we get.
I live in the Gulf Coast and I see my world and the world of millions of other Americans being destroyed by British Petroleum. I think we are getting close to a revolution in this country, but I think Americans will stand in a circle and fire at each other. And why not, "We have met the enemy and the enemy is us."
Comment: #4
Posted by: Jesse Duvall
Wed Jun 9, 2010 1:41 PM
Yes your assessment is spot on. I predict we're in for some serious Obama Fatigue (which is long overdue) with a critical mass of people thinking to themselves “We voted for Barack, but we got Barry !” and wondering if Obama's true calling wasn't in fact to be an Inspiring High School Principal in some medium sized Midwestern city (those awesome Public Speaking chops of his !) and most emphatically NOT President of the United States and World Leader in a time of grave national and global crisis.

Sad to say Obama has proven himself to be little more The Scolding Doormat !!

Remember how Gary Trudeau would create an icon for the various President's in his Doonesbury strip. He chose “waffles” for Clinton and a Roman gladiator outfit for Bush ‘43. Interestingly he has spared Obama so far…..but a Scolding Doormat is sounding more and more apt !!

Also of course the note of the indignant and irate High School Principal should be included somehow in any icon …..“There is FAR TOO MUCH LITTERING in the gymnasium during the Friday night dances and I will have NO CHOISE but to consider a curtailment of these activities”…. “Must I remind students ONCE AGAIN that the use of the new orange door giving on to the track and field parking lot IS FOR THE USE TEACHING STAFF ONLY !! ”

From the get-go Mr. Obama has seemed to be in WAY over his head !! Yes he inherited a Mess on several fronts but- yes also- he is only making the Mess worse…..what makes him tick I wonder ??…… He seems as clueless as President as he was savvy as a candidate. His political instincts now seem non-existent and he is on track for leaving the White House - amazingly enough- even more hated than George Bush !! Wannabee Knights-in-Shining-Armour and PR Whiz Kids take note.
Comment: #5
Posted by: John Hepworth
Wed Jun 9, 2010 6:15 PM
GULF TRAGEDY MANDATE
The Gulf of Mexico tragedy underscores the crucial need to force meaningful regulations, which the industry has impeded, along with efforts to reduce our dangerous fossil fuel dependency, through decades of lobbying, misinformation, & fabricated science.
Sadly, it requires severe calamities, such as this and 9/11, to force regulations that were obviously needed beforehand. What may be history's worst artificial environmental disaster, could have been averted had they been required to drill relief wells simultaneously with offshore production wells.
This tragedy provides our president with the opportunity to detooth the energy cartel, and force vital measures for fossil fuel reduction as well as for drilling safety.
If he defaults, history will treat him harshly.
Robert
San Rafael ,CA
Comment: #6
Posted by: Robert Settgast
Wed Jun 9, 2010 7:58 PM
GULF TRAGEDY MANDATE
The Gulf of Mexico tragedy underscores the crucial need to force meaningful regulations, which the industry has impeded, along with efforts to reduce our dangerous fossil fuel dependency, through decades of lobbying, misinformation, & fabricated science.

Sadly, it requires severe calamities, such as this and 9/11, to force regulations that were obviously needed beforehand. What may be history's worst artificial environmental disaster, could have been averted had they been required to drill relief wells simultaneously with offshore production wells.

This tragedy provides our president with the opportunity to detooth the energy cartel, and force vital measures for fossil fuel reduction as well as for drilling safety.
If he defaults, history will treat him harshly.

Robert Settgast
San Rafael
415-492-1747,

Comment: #7
Posted by: Robert Settgast
Wed Jun 9, 2010 7:59 PM
When Corporations are chartered it is understood that they are required to demonstrate social responsibility (CSR). BP, which has a history of repeated criminal felonious offenses and with this Gulf oil spill appears to have committed multiple criminal violations of the Clean Water Act as well as possible RICO violations, including criminal neglect, subterfuge, collusion, public lying about the volume of oil that has been discharged from the deep sea well and predatory recklessness which has resulted in the negligent and reckless homicide of many people, the loss of livelihood for hundreds of thousands of people and the desecration of the environment.



Thomas Jefferson and our Founding Fathers established that Corporations must demonstrate that they serve the public interest in order to maintain their Charter. BP apparently has blatantly failed to live up to its corporate responsibility to be a good citizen and has, in fact, created devastation through its criminal behavior;



Congress and the President must continue pursue with high priority the Justice Dept.'s criminal investigation into BP's felonious behavior, including for manslaughter and/or murder, the economic collapse of the region, untold pain and suffering of the region's residents and the environmental degradation that may permanently destroy that region and if found guilty of criminal misconduct to call on the State of Delaware to rescind BPs Corporate Charter and seize its assets


Perhaps then other Corporate wrong-doers will think twice before committing crimes against the people of this country and our environment.
Comment: #8
Posted by: Carole Lutness
Mon Jun 21, 2010 1:25 PM
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