Oily Birds and Other Atrocities

oil spillDRILL, BABY, DRILL!!!
DRILL…. umm… never mind.

Looking back now at the video footage of the Republicans chanting that stupid mantra at countless political gatherings in the last two years, they sure do look silly in hindsight, don’t they? But then again, they always look silly in hindsight. If you don’t believe me, have a look at an archival tape of their 2004 convention sometime. You know! The one where they cheerfully nominated George W. Bush for a second term? They really are a scream!

How ever will they justify continued off-shore drilling in light of what is now happening in the Gulf of Mexico? In just a few short days we’ve gone from a tragedy to a disaster to a full blown catastrophe. It will be more than interesting to see the depths to which the right wing will now stoop in order to trivialize this hideous event. Rush Limbaugh is already floating the idea out to his half-witted “Dittoheads” that this was sabotage on the part of the “eco-nazis”; that some unnamed environmental organization plotted this disaster in order to further their evil socialist agenda. It will be interesting to see how many people will be stupid enough to swallow that nonsense whole. I’ll say this for old Rush: He makes my life so interesting. I’m gonna miss the old bastard when he’s thrown off the air. I really am.

Once again, We Dah Peepil have been forced to confront ugly reality head on. Once again we are confronted by a reality so horrific, we ignore its implications at our own peril. And once again it appears that many of us will continue to turn a blind eye toward the obvious: Our dependence on oil – foreign and domestic – will prove to be our undoing if we don’t get to work immediately and try to develop alternative sources of fuel. What the hell is it with our abhorrence of common sense? What we have here is black comedy at its strangest. Someone remarked this morning of the gulf, “It smells like a gas station now.” Fill ‘er up? Forty years ago, the Cayahuga, the river which makes its way through Cleveland, Ohio, became so polluted it caught fire. Could this happen in the Gulf of Mexico? Stay tuned.

Seriously, sometimes I get the feeling that I’m living in a world whose scenario was scripted by Paddy Chayefsky. It is the weirdest of times, isn’t it?

Scores of thousands of gallons of oil per day (figures vary) are being pumped into the gulf – a horrendous amount any way you slice it or dice it – and, thus far, no one has been able to say with any certainty when – or even if – they will be able to stop it. This morning it was mentioned of MSNBC that a quarter of the seafood we eat in this country comes from the gulf. This is not particularly good news for a guy like me who has become addicted to sushi in recent years. I can’t even imagine how this will affect the people who make their livings by fishing those waters. And now they want to drill in the Atlantic? Surely they jest!

It was Barack Obama, in order to appease the jerks who comprise the lunatic fringe of American politics, who put the idea of drilling the Atlantic on the table to begin with. Some are saying that this puts him in a sticky situation politically. Nonsense. It was clear to one and all the motivation behind his offer from the beginning. All he needs to do now is reverse course and explain to the far right that, under the circumstances, drilling for oil in the Atlantic ocean would be a touchingly stupid idea. The American people won’t fault him for this and will stand behind him, I think. America’s ecology is more important than political expediency. Who would argue with that notion, you may ask? You’d be surprised. Count on the arguments to come pouring fourth any minute now – and watch the Republicans wander further away into aimless unreality. This is going to get really funny.

Just two months ago, while attempting to justify drilling in the Atlantic, they were trying to sell us on the idea that an environmental disaster like the one that is now being played out in the Gulf of Mexico was out of the question. All of the state-of-the-art precautionary safety standards would be implemented. Not to worry, they assured us! What, me worry? Well, look on the bright side of things. At least it wasn’t an accident in a nuclear power plant somewhere. For over four decades they have been telling us that something like that could never happen either – Three Mile Island notwithstanding.

Here comes the sun
Here comes the sun
It’s alright!

-George Harrison

We have a choice to make. It’s either going to be the environmental security of the planet earth or the private profit of the very few – it’s not going to be both. This really is a no-brainer if you just think about it for a minute. Many years ago I remember seeing this funny cartoon by the great Jules Feiffer that was printed in a college sociology text of mine. It depicted some bloated energy executive seated behind a desk. Said he:

“You want oil? We own the wells. You want coal? We own the mines. You want solar energy? We own the….[LONG, AWKWARD PAUSE]….Solar energy is not feasible.”

Oh really? It is feasible. It was proven scientifically feasible before I was even born (I’ll be 52 in August). As I write these words some guy is planning a flight around the world in a plane powered by the sun. Don’t try to tell me that solar energy is not feasible! It is not only feasible, it’s essential for the planet’s survival that we get to work yesterday on wiring ourselves to the sun, so to speak. Don’t listen to Rush Limbaugh and FOX Noise when they try to convince you that it can’t be done. It can be done and it will. What other choice do we have? Any takers?

What is now transpiring in the Gulf of Mexico will get much worse before it gets any better, sorry to say. Incredibly some experts predicting that this could go on for weeks, if not months. The American people have yet to wake up to the ramifications of what is really occurring off Louisiana’s coast . When the final chapter is written on this idiotic chapter in our history, it will end up making Exxon/Valdez looking like a cup of spilled tea. This is the “Gone With The Wind” of environmental calamities. Drill baby drill indeed.

Will the president do the smart thing here? That really was a rhetorical question on my part – of course he will. He will catch a lot of hell from the GOP for canceling the plan to tap the Atlantic for fossil fuels, but in the end the political heat won’t amount to a flickering candle in Antarctica. If the electorate doesn’t yet understand the consequences of the disaster in the gulf, they will soon enough. This dreadful situation will only get worse by the day. By this time next week, they’ll understand. Oh, brother, will they understand!

Will our Republican representatives be stupid enough to continue fighting for the right of oil companies to plunder the Atlantic? Again, that was a rhetorical question – of course they will. Their history absolutely dictates that they will. Is there anyone out there who still believes that the “party of Lincoln” is going to make any significant gains in the November midterms? I’d love to make a little wager with you.

Tom Degan


  1. Pam says

    Check out Amy Goodman’s report yesterday on Democracy Now! in which she says that Halliburton had some part in the construction of that oil rig.

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