It is somehow fitting that, five years after his infamous mishandling of duties as head of FEMA during the Hurricane Katrina aftermath, Michael “Brownie” Brown, of all people, would re-appear to offer up his much sought-after expertise on the horrific BP Deepwater Horizon oil catastrophe – which, of course, is threatening the very same area that Katrina and the failed levees ravaged. Taking to the air with Rove-style talking points, Brown was back in his comfortable role as Republican lapdog, eagerly doing their lapping this time to shill for the beleaguered oil industry.
The same Brownie. Brownie, the face of Bush incompetency, of Bush sociopathy, of Bush cronyism: perfect storm meeting perfect storm in 2005.
But Katrina, or something like, was in many ways a predictable event. As is the BP oil geyser (“spill” is too nice a word) that now threatens our very existence. One doesn’t need a Mayan doomsday calendar to see the march to the brink… just a good old American one:
Deregulation… the selection of 2000… 9/11… wars in Afghanistan and Iraq… the economic collapse of ’08… a string of deadly dominoes began to fall in October 1980 – when Bush 41 managed to make a deal with the Iranian mullahs to hold on to the U.S. hostages till after the November election, assuring the defeat of environmentalist Jimmy Carter and the election of anti tree hugger Ronald Reagan.
But back to what may the final domino.
Now a radio talk show host in Colorado (also fitting), Brown declared that the Obama administration was somehow deliberately letting the BP oil disaster fester to prove that off-shore drilling is a bad thing, lest folks believe their lyin’ eyes… i.e., the thesis being that Obama is cynically taking advantage of a disaster for political gain!
Outrageous, appalling, cynical!
Why, that would be like accusing the Bush administration of making political hay of Katrina by casting blame on “state and local” officials (read: Democrats). Outrageous, appalling, cynical.
And, as it turns out, demonstrably effective: witness Governor Bobby Jindal, Republican.
So in the spirit of not letting any national calamity go to waste, the Republicans and their media mouthpieces have doggedly tried to hang the spill baby spill around the current President’s neck: Obama’s Katrina? read the graphics beneath the Fox “news” propagandists.
But then again, let us not be quick to eye roll. Perhaps calling this event “Obama’s Katrina” is a heartening realization on the part of Fox and the Republicans that the original Katrina was utterly bungled by Bush and Brownie.
No, wait. Damn. Doubtless, there’s videotape showing they thought Bush did a fabulous job in Katrina, a heckuva job if you will… so therefore is the moniker “Obama’s Katrina” actually a compliment? Nah, that’s wrong. Cue the eye rolls.
Anyway, the panicky Republicans, doing the bidding of their panicky oil partners, hastened to get out in front of this – terrified that not only would their “drill baby drill” mantra be used against them, in, say, a million campaign ads, but, more upsetting, that the drill baby drilling would, indeed, be stopped.
And so the event was downplayed in a let’s not throw the baby out with the oily bath water fashion. “Many say we over-reacted after 3 Mile Island,” said William Kristol, ever the ludicrous. “There hasn’t been a new nuclear reactor built since then. We can’t give up just because of one little accident.” That’s like some gung ho Japanese general saying we can’t surrender just because of one little atom bomb. “Hey,” added William. “I’m a drill baby drill guy,” as usual blind to the situation. Global warming denier George Will, in perhaps an attempt to put the accident in perspective, pointed out Massachusetts birds were in more danger of getting entangled in wind turbines along the coast than a little oil sloppage. And Rush Limbaugh, drilling deeper than BP for some spin, declared the spill was no biggee, that the ocean heals itself – don’t get crazed by Gore brainwashed seagull hugging liberal anti oil pro terrorist pussies.
And then there’s Halliburton, joining Brownie on stage once again.
Yes Halliburton was at the bottom of this oil rig accident. Literally. I don’t know the finer details, but evidently their job was to do some cementing a mile down in the ocean and the site where the precious fluid is extracted. And fail-safe measures failed. 11 men died in the explosion. And that is just the beginning of the human harvest. They are certainly not the first unfortunates Halliburton incompetency, corner-cutting, and graft have killed in their storied history. Now they’ve gone big time. Now they may have helped start a brand new string of events leading to the destruction of an entire ecosystem. Some call in Earth.
Halliburton, the self same company once run by Dick Cheney in his evil pre-evil Vice President days, the one doing illegal business with Iraq (yeah, under Hussein) and bribing Nigerian oil officials for contracts, the same Halliburton that benefited from bidless contracts in Iraq and came up short about a bill, electrocuting American servicemen with shoddy plumbing work sub contracted to sub contractors.
Remember the falling dominoes? From 1981 to 1993, Reagan and Bush 41 served 12 longgggg years in the White House, deregulating the oil industry willynilly, busting unions, enacting Reaganomics by whacking taxes on the wealthy, killing the environment with such protectors as Interior Secretary James Watt (remember him?)… but most importantly, appointing members of the Supreme Court who might sound familiar: O’Connor. Rehnquist. Scalia. Kennedy. Thomas. The five of the infamous 5-4 Supreme Court vote of December 2000 that installed underachieving oilman George Bush, instead of environmentalist Al Gore, to the Presidency. And not only Bush strode into the White House, but also former congressman, Defense Secretary and Halliburton honcho Dick Cheney. Oilmen were in the White House. Bad ones.
Cheney in 2001, while ignoring the threat of Al Qaeda, held a Top Secret confab of energy moguls to craft American energy policy. And a lot of that had to do with de-regulating environmental protections… essentially letting the oil explorers, and service companies such as Halliburton, to “self regulate”, and buying congressmen like so many trinkets for their charm bracelet to ensure no principled do-gooders prevail.
Dominoes falling, from 9/11 to Afghanistan to Iraq to warrantless wiretaps, to spill after spill after spill to drill baby drill… right up until April 20, 2010 – the date of the BP disaster, the worst ecological disaster in the history of mankind. And now we have millions of gallons of oil pouring into the Gulf of Mexico, with no end in sight.
It is quite possible that incompetence and oilmen may have sealed our doom- at long last. Even the Mayans must be surprised; they probably figured angry gods loosing lightning bolts.
In a bittersweet bit of justice, or irony, now we see Jindal – the beneficiary of that “state and local” demonization post Katrina – desperately flying around in his helicopter, observing with horror the slick which has grown from the size of Rhode Island to the size of Delaware to the size of Maryland, probably to the size of Texas eventually (again, fitting), creeping like The Blob ever closer to the precious wetlands that defends New Orleans from hurricanes, and harbors precious natural resources. Livelihoods and lives are threatened. Now Jindal is beseeching the U.S. government for help, the help he scoffed at in his famous State of the Union response / coming out party.
And by contrast, Mississippi governor Haley Barbour, another piece of presumed Presidential timber, is using the patented George W. Bush “downplay it” approach: “That oil spill is just a little sheen on the water. Happens all the time! Come to Mississippi and go shopping!” Texas Governor Perry writes it off as “an act of God”, I suppose beating Pat Robertson to the punch, and certainly giving Halliburton and British Petroleum and out. But probably not with guys in congress like Henry Waxman. Or guys in the White House like Barack Obama.
There will come a time when the ecology cannot oblige human malfeasance, when the earth will take no more. This may be that time. The Gulf of Mexico its resident fish human neighbors on shore must battle the effects of a geyser of oil. The latest domino in the string that began in October 1980, Domino Doom, may have fallen.
Never mind the Mayans and 2012. We might not make it that far.
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Reprinted with permission from the Valley Democrats United newsletter, Margie Murray, Editor, where the article first appeared.