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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 5/30/10

I Can't Wait For Barack Obama To Become President

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Message David Michael Green
Watching the latest tragedy unfold in the Gulf this last month, all I can say is: I can't wait for Barack Obama to become president.

This Bush guy is such a disaster, literally and figuratively. It just seems that the destruction of America he presides over is all but endless. As if one Gulf Coast disaster left to rot in the sun wasn't enough for this president, now comes a second. What did those folks in New Orleans ever do to him? Heck, what did Americans ever do to him?

I just can't wait any longer for the new administration to take office. They are absolutely guaranteed to handle things so much differently than the Cheney Bots in the White House who seem intent on wrecking the whole world, with their charity beginning at home.

Look at this oil spill disaster, for example.

To start with, Barack Obama would never pick a guy like Ken Salazar for the crucial environmental position of Secretary of the Interior. Of course Bush would, though. Salazar has been deeply tied to mining and ranching industries his entire career just the kind of corporate hack Cheney would insist on for the position. In fact, Salazar was even a big supporter of his predecessor, the corrupt industry shill, Gale Norton. After all the work environmentalists put into getting Obama elected, there's no way he'd choose someone like Salazar for this position, a guy so lame that mining association lobbyists welcomed the appointment when Bush made it. What does that tell you? Of course, Salazar has turned out just as you'd expect to be the "Heckuva Job, Kenny" of the oil spill. This will never happen once Obama gets in and puts a real environmentalist atop the Interior Department.

Nor would Obama ever adopt the "Drill, baby, drill" mentality that Bush did earlier this year, when he opened up vast expanses of the Atlantic coastline, the eastern Gulf of Mexico and the north coast of Alaska to oil and natural gas drilling much of it for the first time, ending a longstanding moratorium on oil exploration along 167 million acres off the East Coast, from Delaware all the way down to Florida. This travesty by the Bush administration which delighted oil companies and right-wing drilling advocates but angered environmentalists and appalled residents of those states would never happen under an Obama administration. Unlike Bush, not only will Obama cease the expansion of drilling in these sensitive areas, he'll surely cut it back. And not a moment to soon! Who knows where the next destructive spill will be.

We also wouldn't be in this mess if federal regulators were doing their job, instead of being emasculated by regressive Bush administration deregulatory policies that turn industry loose to do whatever it wants. Regulators knew that backup systems were required to control the blowout preventers that failed in the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe, and they even told rig operators that in 2009. But they never did anything about, relying instead on promises from the offshore drilling corporations that they were on top of it. Wait "til Obama gets into office, man! He'll clean up that nonsense in a hurry. Regulators will actually regulate, and regulatees be whipped into shape, and forced to comply with the government-enforced public interest, just like they should be.

I'll tell ya another thing. When Obama is president, you won't see reckless companies like BP getting permission from the industry whores in the Minerals Management Service to drill wells without obtaining the permits that they are required by law to first receive from other government agencies. This is exactly what happened with Deepwater Horizon. And since January 2009 alone, permission to go forward for at least three huge lease sales, 103 seismic blasting projects and 346 drilling plans has been granted by MMS without getting the environmental protection permits required from other federal agencies, like the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), to protect endangered species, among other things. MMS staff scientists are also regularly pressured and overruled by management whenever they raise concerns about the environmental impacts of drilling projects. No way will these sort of destructive sell-outs ever happen once Barack Obama is in the White House.

It's bad enough that the United States government under George W. Bush has been so culpable in so many ways for the wreckage that has come from the BP spill in the Gulf, but even worse is how they are helping BP to lie about its magnitude. First the administration said that the spill was pumping 1000 barrels of oil a day into the Gulf. Then they increased that number to 5000 barrels. What we have now learned is that the real figure must be several times larger than that. Worse, we know that the administration is allowing BP to use a measuring technique specifically not recommended for this sort of spill, and has actually turned away a private team of scientists who were standing by ready to deploy the proper measurement equipment. Ian MacDonald, a Florida State University oceanographer who is expert in measuring oil flows, believes the amount must "easily be four or five times" what the administration is saying. Indeed, he and others have analyzed video imagery and estimated that the breach is spilling on the order of 70,000 barrels of oil every day. He notes that, "The government has a responsibility to get good numbers. If it's beyond their technical capability, the whole world is ready to help them."

But, of course, the Bush people absolutely don't want help to accurately measure the disaster their corporate patrons have created. In fact, because of their ties to industry, they want to make sure it isn't properly measured. The situation is actually worse that, however. MacDonald and others believe that BP is actively trying to "hide the body" in this crime, and that the administration is assisting them in doing that by not collecting sufficient deep water samples to map out the damage, and by torpedoing those few gathered by scientists on their own. Over a month after the spill began there are still no deep water test results released by the government and no pressure from the administration for BP to collect this data. Worse, when independent oceanographers collected one sample that confirmed their theory about deep water spills creating huge underwater plumes of oil in the ocean, NOAA immediately criticized the results of the study, even though they had previously pointed to their partial funding of the effort as an example of the government's attempts to stay on top of measuring the impact of the spill.

Just as they did with the whole Iraq WMD scare, the congenital liars in the Bush administration can't seem to help themselves. They love the corporate class so much even foreign corporations that they are willing to put big money interests ahead of the American public who is their real constituency, and help protect those corporations with official lies. Won't it be great when Obama gets in and puts the hammer down on this sort of disgusting treason in the White House?

Another sickening aspect of this tragedy is the cover-up which is already underway. As they did with 9/11 and Iraq, the Bush administration has again appointed a Potemkin Panel to investigate this crisis. But, guess what? Its six-member Board of Inquiry is made up of half Coast Guard staffers and half MMS clowns. It obviously is going to be completely unable by design to tell the truth about what has happened here, especially where the key government agencies nominally in charge are concerned. This is a total white-wash. You can bet that a guy like Obama would never countenance such behavior if he were president today.

Bush is also playing deceitful games with policy on this issue, trying make the public think that he's environmentally friendly, even while he is taking excellent care of his buddies in the oil industry. After the blow-out, the president announced a moratorium on permits for drilling new offshore wells, and promised to stop giving environmental waivers for offshore drilling projects. But guess what? While we weren't looking this last month, the administration issued seven new permits and handed out five environmental waivers for just the sort of projects like Deepwater Horizon that were supposed to be banned now because of their potential to replicate the current destruction we're witnessing. In fact, many of these projects involve wells nearly twice as deep in the ocean the one currently spewing oil, and are therefore even more potentially dangerous.

The president himself said, "It seems as if permits were too often issued based on little more than assurances of safety from the oil companies. That cannot and will not happen anymore." But it has. Seven times. The president also said, "We're also closing the loophole that has allowed some oil companies to bypass some critical environmental reviews." But he hasn't. Five times. Bush's Interior Secretary, Ken Salazar, explicitly testified that "there is no deep-water well in the OCS [outer continental shelf] that has been spudded that means started after April 20". But, in fact, Newfield Exploration Company confirmed that it was issued a permit on May 11 to drill, and has been doing so. And they're not alone.

Meanwhile, back in the Gulf, the Bush administration seems completely intent on letting its oil industry buddies do whatever they want, no matter the damage. There are substantial concerns about the health and environmental impact of Corexit (just the name freaks me out), the oil dispersant being used in world-record amounts (over 700,000 gallons so far) to deal with the spill. According to Representative Edward Markey, Chairman of the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, "We know almost nothing about the potential harm from the long-term use of any of these chemicals on the marine environment in the Gulf of Mexico, and even less about their potential to enter the food chain and ultimately harm humans". Great.

So the Bush administration pretended to order BP to scale back the use of Corexit, and pretended to give them a deadline by which to do so. But BP just told the government where they could stick their deadline, and kept on deploying the toxic chemicals. I doubt they'd dare to try that if a real environmentalist who put the interests of the public ahead of oil company profits someone like Barack Obama was in the Oval Office. You can bet the house on that.

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David Michael Green is a professor of political science at Hofstra University in New York.  He is delighted to receive readers' reactions to his articles (dmg@regressiveantidote.net), but regrets that time constraints do not always allow him to respond. His website is (more...)
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