[Pardon the general lack of links, pictures etc. in Gusher posts. Will add those later!]
Ten weeks in, and still more questions than answers. The situation in the Gulf remains a jurisdictional nightmare, and the many overlapping, intersecting, contradicting layers of authority in place have had the collective effect of impairing the entire relief effort. No one seems willing to take control over what may already be the most spectacular screw-up in all of human history. Oil washes up onto beaches at this very moment, while thousands of people all over the region are still trying to find ways to actually contribute to the effort. They should consider joining the FBI!
A cynic would argue that what we’re seeing now in the Gulf is a preview of what we’ll be facing as civil society deteriorates even further. With first-responders being fired or taking pay cuts nationally, a political leadership that is strategically incompetent at best, and actively malicious at worst, and a citizenry that lost faith in our leaders’ ability to handle crises five years ago, we are sitting ducks for what-have-you. It’s just a matter of time before the people who protected us from criminals (other than BP) are having to protect themselves from each other—and that’s when it’s really on.
Last week, Americans all over celebrated Independence Day, the day our founders formally threw off the yoke of British imperialism and began to pursue their own new vision of a free (and, gradually, freer) society. But now, 234 years after those men and women risked death, and in many cases embraced it, a disturbing new reality is dawning on all us nominal patriots: the British are still very much in charge. To see our President, our Congress, our governors and every single local law-enforcement agency in the Gulf region actively carrying water for BP as it continues to lie, cheat and steal, while concealing evidence of their own mass-murder of American citizens forces the growing recognition that we have, collectively, failed our founders.
Not only are today’s Americans a disgrace to our ancestors, but also to our kids; in fact, the laziness, stupidity and outright corruption that defines the society that we’ve become now constitutes a direct threat to the long-term survival of the human race itself. More and more observers from around the world are asking the same question posed in this column a month ago: Given that the American People are clearly unable or unwilling to defend their own interests, vis a vis the oil spill, how long will the dozen other nations that also have coastline touching the Gulf just sit back and allow their own interests to be jeopardized by us? A line has been drawn in the sand, and it’s made of oil.
Literally: More than one activist group has uncovered evidence that BP’s cleanup crews have been dumping fresh sand onto oil slicks; trenches dug into these beaches look like a cross-section of a Pop Tart, with oil instead of fruity goodness. Other groups have accused BP of reckless disregard (remember that term) for the wildlife being killed by their greed. Some people are seriously suggesting we allow oil-soaked birds to just die, because it’s cheaper, and we’ve all heard the stories of sea turtles caught up offshore in plumes of oil, being burned to death; at least one whale has been dispatched in similar fashion. One brave, righteous fella even went up in his helicopter, risking arrest, to shoot heart-breaking footage of some three dozen dolphins suffocating slowly in the oil. We’re unlikely to hear much more of this stuff.
Like the men aboard the Deepwater Horizon, who warned BP about their cost-cutting measures and died because of them, whistleblowers in the cleanup process are being blocked from getting and telling the critical stories. Under guise of “protection”, unauthorized personnel are banned from areas near the oil slick. By “unauthorized”, I mean reporters, environmental groups and anyone else who didn’t sign off on BP’s gag order. Even as more reports come in of cleanup workers getting sick from all the toxic, unvetted chemicals being forced into their system, the truth remains elusive because BP controls their access to medical care, and rule #1 for anyone who takes a dime from them, as payment for work or via settlement, is “Shut Your Mouth”. And every single agency of government seems compelled to enforce these ridiculous rules.
From the initial explosion on, the priority of relevant authorities has not been capping the leak, blocking oil from the shoreline or saving the affected wildlife—it has been minimizing BP’s financial and legal liability, by any means necessary. This may be the first case in history of killers running their own investigation, and we can see clearly why that is such a terrible idea!
firstname.lastname@example.org; July 5, 2010