Saturday, May 29, 2010

Our own worst enemy

By Don Klein

I was hoping with the January 20, 2009 turnover of the government to the Democrats I would never again have to mention the name of George W. Bush or Dick Cheney. No such luck.

For eight years while these two erstwhile war leaders had all Americans concentrating on the acts and threats of a bunch arrogant, suicidal extremists from the center of the Muslim world, Bush and Cheney sold us out to a more effective and deadly enemy. The oil industry.

No bearded, turbaned, wild eyed, Islamic radical bunch, no matter how numerous, will every defeat the United States. But Bush-Cheney’s oil friends, in $900 suits with trophy wives on their arms, are already destroying America. They are the real enemies of this country and need to be treated as the twenty-first century’s version of John Dillinger.

As we watch the wetlands of Louisiana and other Gulf coast states being rapidly swallowed up by unremitting tides of oily goo that is poured into the Gulf of Mexico from a British Petroleum downed offshore oil rig, there is a true sense of doom in the air. BP is unable to cap the break in their mile-deep pipe which blew apart because of alleged mismanagement on the oil company’s part. Now they don’t seem to know a way to stop the eruption it started before the entire coastline is polluted and dead.

The plume from this break could spread over to Florida, around the tip of the state and up the east coast soon. And the sad thing is it could have been prevented if Bush-Cheney did their jobs, if the Mineral Management Services did their job and if the Congress had acted like they cared about the health of the nation over the health of their wallets.

On top of that, the guy who succeeded Bush in the White House a year and a half ago, doesn’t seem to have a clue as to what he should do. Barack Obama’s apparent inaction is a great disappointment. What we need now is a Roosevelt, Theodore or Franklin, or a Harry Truman with guts and stamina to get things done.

Obama’s dismal lackadaisical approach to this disaster brings to mind the Democratic presidential primary campaign of two years back when Hillary Clinton claimed she would be a better president in making urgent 3 am decisions when necessary. It looks like she was right after all.

The gulf waters may lap alongside just a handful of states – Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida -- but the waters are America’s. The spoiled wetlands are in the five states but they belong to America, the fiscal disaster will be most felt in these states, but a good bit of America dies with it. As the attack on the World Trade Center hurt New York directly, it still affected every American. Same is true of the BP oil spill.

The men who were in charge when the drill platform crews were ordered to cut back on safety rules to enhance the profits for BP are responsible. They are criminals and should be locked up. The street thug may harm a person or two before being caught and tried. Tony Hayward, the BP top man, in contrast had injured millions. He should be brought to court in handcuffs and shackles like the master criminal he is.

What should be the charges? Destroying the livelihood of thousands of local workers, putting endless numbers of small businesses out of business, damaging the seafood industry of the entire nation, bribing government inspectors, not to mention the murder of 11 workers who lost their lives on the rig when it blew up because of his firm’s policy. That adds up to criminal negligence in most people’s books.

Hayward and his greedy accomplices in crime are worse than Osama bin Laden and have done greater damage to this country that one hundred al Qaeda agents, can or ever will, do. The sad fact is they will never be brought to justice. That won’t happen because BP money will buy-off anyone in government who tries to exact justice in this case.

In the meantime we will still be distracted into concentrating on watching for the elusive jihadist entering this country and setting off a bomb in a crowded venue when we should be watching our so-called money-hungry "friends" from Britain who run BP and other oil magnates. The irony is that we will be paying more for gasoline eventually to help BP defray the costs of this disaster.

Government inspectors at the MMS were bribed to look the other way while BP violated the law thanks to a cozy relationship established during Bush’s years. The oil company staff wrote safety reports which the inspectors just accepted as fact. They conspired – BP and MMS – to defraud the government and the American people with tragic circumstances.

Most people are nauseous just watching greedy bankers steal money from the people one year, then avaricious oil executives acting dangerously with impunity the next, while the rest of us suffer economically and lose jobs because of their errors. And worst of all, with a deprave former administration relaxing safety rules, and now a stumbling White House and corrupt Congress running the show, none of the wrongdoers will ever get to pay for their crimes.

I have said it many time before and I say it again. Pogo was right. "We have met the enemy and he is us."

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