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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 6/3/10

The "spill" . . . We've none but our friends to blame

Message Ed Tubbs
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If the folks in Texas decide to rewrite history and to create their own fictionalized versions of science, while they may have no moral right to do that, I suppose they do have the legal right to do just about whatever they darn well choose in that regard. But that's not what's going to happen here.
If you try hard enough, from as far back as the 1787 Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, you can force-trace the hands-off enabling philosophy that has produced today's Gulf coast calamity; a calamity that will in all likelihood be an intrusively dominant ecological and economic fact of Americanlife well past the moment whenthere ever was an America has faded. I'm not going to try that hard.
High on the mantra of "free labor, free land, free men", on July 6, 1854, a group of men met in Jackson, Michigan, to form a political party that was a visceralreaction to the Democrats, the party of both Jackson's common man orientation and a reaction strongly against slavery. The name of this new party was to bethe Republican Party.
Two of the three legs, "free labor" and "free men" were actually hazy reflections, each one a reflection of the other. "Free labor" was aimed at the growing threat of northern industrial labor to organize. "Free men," while also a moral cannon shot at the slavery in the South, it was also intended as a shot across the bow of the least political suggestion the government had even the most distant right to intrude into the affairs of private business.
Fairness here dictates the observation that in the mid-19th century no one could, or had any reason to, suppose that human industrial activity was not derived from a biblically ordained, God-given right to plunder America's seemingly boundless natural resources. It is morally and intellectually wrong for us today to indictthe inclination of folks, much before John Muir's wake-up call, to see this nation's natural bounty as one to be exploited for its greatest economic potential.
Consider that prior to, as well as for several decadesbeyond the Civil War, western Michigan was the overflowing hardwood resource that found its way into rifle stock, into wagon wheels, into fine furniture, and so much more. The forests that were clear-cur razed to those purposes have never recovered. As with the bison that roamed our western plains beyond the horizon and the imagination, all had been put there by a God that intended they be used, and when they were gone . . .. Well, that too must have been part of God's plan.
Sin and crime, to be sin or crime, must first have sinful or criminal intent, and there is no record the exploitation had either a sinful or criminal component. Thus, we work a wrong today when we try to attach some untoward motivation to the Republican slogan. As they saw it, they were doing God's work. Or, at least that's how even those who clearly were not so honorably disposed could justify their behaviors and their ambitions.
The very first indication of Republican cynical perceptions,how government could be exploited for personal enrichment was the transcontinental railroad. The first imagined possibilities occurred in the 1830's, with the introduction of the steam powered locomotive.
But it was the Big Four (Collis Huntington, Leland Stanford, Charles Crocker, and Mark Hopkins) who envisioned the accretion of riches to themselves beyond their collective imagination in engineer Theodore Judah's and miner Daniel Strong's idea of a route through the Sierra. The Pacific Railroad Acts of 1862 and 1864, while the country was locked in the Civil War, proposed to support the construction with 30-year government bonds andthe awarding of alternating sections of federally owned land along the route. (A section of land is one-mile square; 640 acres.) Let no one fall under the merest illusion: as incredible as the engineering feat was, it wasn't one the Big Four looked upon with the slightest patriotic affection. All they had demanded of the government was to "give us the money and the land and pretty much stay the heck out of the way, and we'll build you a railroad."
It was wealth, and it was power. And for decades, for as long as each lived, the Big Four, as the most powerful men in the US, wielded it ruthlessly. Unnerved eastern newspaper editorial cartoons depicted them as "the Octopus."
The hiatus of Theodore Roosevelt was only that: a hiatus from Republican dicta. And a hiatus the Republican establishment loathed to the core of their souls. Indeed, when McKinley, the chosen stooge of the industrialists, died, Mark Hanna erupted, "Now look, that damned cowboy is president of the United States!"
TR's trust-busting energies were matched, but not out-matched, by the Republican business titans of the day, all of whom hated the cowboy with a political and personal virulence that went unequaled until the 1994 GOP return to congressional power in 1995 loosed the most heated venom at Clinton.
However the rhetoric might not have always vitriol suffuse, the GOP's dedication to Chamber of Commerce interests have been dominant in every Republican administration since World War II.
On behalf of British (British Petroleum) and American oil interests, Eisenhower's Operation Ajax overthrew the democratically elected prime minister of Iran, Mossadegh, and installed Shah Reza Pahlavi.
The very next year, at the behest of United Fruit Company, Ike approved Operation PSSuccess to overthrow Guatemala's democratically elected government of Jacobo Arbenz, and install the dictator, Col. Carlos Castillo Armas. Immediately upon taking control, Armas rounded up hundreds (some estimates place the number into the thousands) of Guatemalans and had them shot.
The Republican Party and powerful corporate interests and festering corruption and the blood of innocents; nothing changes for the GOP.
When Kenny Boy Lay of Enron infamy put the entire state of California on black- and brown-out "Burn-baby-burn" cycles, I fumed with Bush's refusal to care, let alone do anything to help a state at risk.
I was in full rage the first moment I heard Bush and the fulminating Right claim Saddam Hussein was in league with bin Laden. As if, tell me when --in all human history -- it occurred that a bloody tyrant, such as Hussein was, invited a bloody schemer like 911 bin Laden into his territory!
Not by a full stretch are 100 percent of the Golden State's present financial woes traceable to the Enron-Bush let-private-enterprise-do-whatever-the-hell-it-wants depredations, but they most assuredly directly contributed billions to its now multi-billion dollar distress.
Although the straws had been piling, the one that broke the state's back came in 2007, at the slithering hands of the financial markets, the bankers, Wall Street.
Since the 2007 meltdown that continues its Sherman-like march through neighborhoods and cities, leaving little unscorched and millions displaced, financially ruined, all on the alter of the same Reaganesque "get the government off the backs of American business," "government isn't the solution, government is the problem," within just the past two months the world has seen the ugly products of the conservative's laize faire business and government regulation-free mentality: Not yet two months back, Massey Energy's Upper Big Branch, West Virginia coal mine exploded, killing 29 miners. Now, a mere 36 days afterward, after what some have understandably called the negligent homicide of 29 human beings by a profits ubber alles US coal mine operator, not just us or the US, but the entire world is confronting the mother-of-all ecological and economic disasters, British Petroleum's Deepwater Horizon oil well blowout in the Gulf. And, oh! by the way, let us not forget that 11 rig workers perished in this one.
With a lower jaw dropped fully open,I'm in near tears wondering: "What's it gonna take? Just how high is the price in human life, in human misery, in ecological devastation and utter ruin going to have to be before we, as a society, as a nation get it: that private, profit driven industry, untethered from oversight and regulation will always be ruinous? Are we that incorrigibly stupid?" As I ponder this imponderable, my mind pulls up the sight of Casablanca's Captain Renault's rather less than sincere cry, "I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!" in Humphry Bogart's nightclub, as the croupier hands the policeman his winnings.
Every poll points to substantial Republican gains in this fall's election. The Democrats are hardly an army of guards, guarding the public's wealth and ecology. Their hands are also stained from the green they've collected. But compared to the GOP whose overarching philosophy is a corruption . . .. Imagine that the teacher tells the class she'll be in conference with the principal, in the principal's office, down the hall, out of sight or sound of her classroom, while the test is going on; and you're "shocked" cheating might take place? Or, when the police chief makes a public announcement that the entire force will be training in another town for the day; and you're "shocked" that some motorists might not stop at a stop-sign or signal light?
Not just a few, but every man-made, life-altering-and-ending economic and ecological disaster since World War II is the natural consequence of the Republican/conservative philosophy -- regardless which party or poltician was actually in office, it was the hands-off-business conservative philosophy -- that made its first public appearance in 1854, in Jackson, Michigan. And the tragedies were, 100 percent, prior enabled by the voters who put those whose hands are most dirty into office!Thus it is that if you know someone
who has lost his or her job as a result of the meltdown,
who has lost his or her home or life savings as a result of the meltdown,
who has a son or daughter, or a mom or dad who cannot get a job, as a result of the meltdown,
who has died or been severely injured in the UBB coal mine, or who is on the Gulf or Atlantic coast who is in deep sorrow and fear over the calamity . . .
And, if you know someone who
listens to conservative, shock-talk radio or watches Fox News for their information,
identifies him- or herself as a conservative and espouses conservative opinions,
thinks Sarah Palin is "neat,"
thinks Tea Partiers offer a genuine, constructive alternative,
votes Republican, conservative, or with Tea Party notions . . .
That is the person to blame for the ills you and yours and the Gulf are suffering (and will suffer for an eon!). Absent their support of the conservative tenets that have culminated in these wholly avoidable disasters it is probable none would have occurred. And every time you encounter someone who tries to express Ronald Reagan's suggestion that "government is the problem," that everything needs to be turned over to the "free market," that "government can't do anything right" (The Tennessee Valley Authority, World War II, the Interstate highway system, the race to the moon. . . All government projects that worked pretty well, since the most current matter is all about a "well."), and every time you let the remarks go unanswered, unresponded to . . . in some unidentifiable way, you are also part of what caused and will next time be the genisis of the disaster.
No matter how I try, I can't get the screams, "Drill here, drill now, drill baby, drill" from my mind.Those and the calls for that small government that so very many conservatives today are pleading with, demanding save their butts.
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An "Old Army Vet" and liberal, qua liberal, with a passion for open inquiry in a neverending quest for truth unpoisoned by religious superstitions. Per Voltaire: "He who can lead you to believe an absurdity can lead you to commit an atrocity."
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