Holes

May 21, 2010 at 5:24 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

A month has passed since BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil-rig blast in the Gulf of Mexico. My how time flies!

At this point, rational people (that excludes Rush Limbaugh & company) have started to ask themselves whether this mess may become the biggest man-made environmental disaster. Well, if BP and its wholly-owned subsidiary, the Obama Administration, keep things on the present course then the answer looks to be a resounding “Yes!”

BP had said the two holes in the ocean floor are spewing 5,000 barrels of crude per day into Gulf waters. Earlier today, the oil giant announced the latest fix it tried, which involved using a siphon tube to capture the gusher, is catching 5,000 barrels a day. Problem solved! Whew, we’re glad that’s over… what’s that you say? BP now says 5,000 barrels a day is just a fraction of the amount of oil that was leaking?! Independent scientists told Congress yesterday that BP’s hole is likely spewing 100,000 gallons of oil per day. Uh oh!

And speaking of holes… when fat-cats from the 3 companies (BP, Transocean, & Halliburton) directly involved in creating this catastrophe appeared before the U.S. Senate, they promptly and passionately helped clarify the situation by blaming one-another for the problem. Were any of us actually surprised at their cowardice? I am sure the Senators could appreciate & respect the blameshifting tactic since they themselves use it so well. It relies on obscuring who is specifically responsible for a disaster by making it look like everyone is responsible, because then no one is responsible. That same game-plan was used to explain the lack of response by the intelligence community and military to stop the September 11th attacks. They all failed so no one failed.

Yes, worthless Senators & environment-raping industry executives are all cut from the same cloth. They probably met for cocktails after the show, once they were safely out of the light of public scrutiny. Had I been a spectator in the Senate chamber during those ridiculous hearings, I can imagine myself reacting much like the downtrodden creatures at the end of George Orwell’s book “Animal Farm,” as they “looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.”

And speaking of another hole… just where is our brave Commander-in-Chief during all this? By now even W, Godawful as he was, would have hopped into Airforce One and flown-over the disaster area.

Tragic, endless wars; largesse for big-business while the common folk foot the bill; and now, dawdling while destruction overwhelms a large part of the nation. The Deephole Horizon finally completes Barack Obama’s metamorphosis from agent of change to dark-skinned George Bush clone.

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Another Word for Freedom

May 8, 2010 at 6:19 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Last Friday’s beautiful spring weather caused me such giddy delight that I took a foolhardy risk and I mowed the lawn. The resulting severe bout of allergies put me almost completely out-of-action for most of this past week. I have been laid-low with snot-clogged head, nose, and chest and eyes watering like faucets. I teetered on the edge of severe illness from sinus & respiratory infections. But, at last, regular dosing with anti-histamines, nasal sprays, herbal teas, and other concoctions along with repeated positive self-affirmations re-enforcing good health have done the trick. I am well.

Hallelujah, I am saved! That is, saved from another run-in like the one I had this past winter, when my allergies brought on bronchitis, laryngitis, and near-pneumonia. I found myself in the unfortunate position of being forced to partake of this country’s “health-care system,” which is a draconian mess worthy of feature in a Charles Dickens’ novel.

How sad that our time has no equivalent to novelist Charles Dickens, who managed to so-effectively skewer the selfish cruelty of the dimbulb middle-class & aristocracy of Victorian-era Britain. While thoroughly entertaining his readers, Dickens was able to show how the British Empire was carried on the backs of the impoverished and mistreated masses and how unworthy the ruling class was of holding power. The popularity of his writings helped turn the tide against barbaric practices such as child-labor. Today’s updated Reaganite version of the Victorian-era begs to be savaged by a skilled lampoonist. Thank goodness we have Jon Stewart!

And I see that, while I have been down for the count, the greedy collection of nitwits that we Americans allow to rule our affairs continues to do their utmost to destroy civilization and the biosphere. The residual exhaustion of fighting illness all week leaves me in no mood to put-up with their shenanigans.

BP has blown a massive hole in the ocean floor which now spews unimaginable amounts of crude into the Gulf of Mexico. Ocean currents will carry the deadly goo around to the U.S. east coast and many other places on our globe. As usual, there are scandalous rumblings of slackened regulations in exchange for lined pockets. Here in America, we have become so used to this sort of graft that it barely brings our collective mind out of its coma long enough to become outraged. I wonder how much more environmental abuse can be absorbed before our ecosystem fails once and for all.

But hold on there! All is well. BP has stepped up to the plate and says they will bear the financial responsibility for the disaster. That is awfully nice of them, although I am surprised that there would even be a question about that. Quite frankly though, it looks to me like this clean-up is probably going to take a good bit more than even their latest quarterly profit of $6 billion will cover. If so, I say the U.S. government should confiscate all the assets of the company to use toward fixing this problem. And yes, they are a foreign company (BP = British Petroleum) but so what?

On Thursday the stock market plummeted frighteningly due to some sort of computerized trading problem. By now, anyone who does not realize that our entire financial system is one big, rigged casino would have to be completely brain-dead or Republican. Having lost my ass(ets) in the 2008 economic train-wreck, I have no stocks. As the old song says: “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.” So I am tempted to say… actually I think I will say: let the stockmarket go completely off the cliff. Maybe then all the high-rollers that attach such importance to it will all jump out of skyscraper windows. Then we can start working on fixing the real economy.

While I was recuperating, I watched the 2007 movie, Zodiak, about the infamous serial-killer of perhaps 37 victims in the 1960’s-1970’s. Zodiak was never caught. And he was no shirker, he put time into his work. He was not satisfied to merely commit murders over a large area of California & Nevada, he also created & mailed complex coded messages to police and newspapers, he staged a phone-in tv news program with renowned attorney Melvin Belli, and he even sewed himself an elaborate scary costume to wear.

What I ask about creatures like Zodiac, or the heads of companies like BP, or any of the other assorted monsters who ruin life on this planet for the rest of us, is: why? Why can you not put your time, talent, and energy into things that will make the world better for us? And for some mysterious reason, the past few decades have brought us more and more and more intelligent people who choose to put their energies into things that harm the rest of us. I do not understand it, but to them it is fun.

Take Karl Rove, for instance. His activities during this past decade were among those that finally convinced me that some people are just evil. But let us, for a few minutes imagine if a brilliant mind like Karl Rove concentrated on some project like getting food to hungry children, instead of just being a complete, destructive prick?

Let us continue to ask why many of our best minds have gone bad and imagine them turning to good. Then, perhaps, we will reshape reality to manifest a better world.

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See How the Mighty Have Fallen!

May 4, 2010 at 5:33 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

by Reverend Hothoneywater

The oil rig environmental catastrophe taking place in the gulf coast is a national disgrace. Add it to the list. Along with the coal miners recently killed by cave-ins. Also, tack on the soldiers dying for control of Middle East oil to the list. And then remind yourself that it doesn’t have to be this way. The United States could be doing a lot more to wean itself off these dirty and irreplaceable forms of energy.

Germany, for example, has set itself a goal of obtaining 50% of its energy needs from renewable sources such as solar and geothermal by 2050.  I wouldn’t bet against them; they’ve just finished building a huge offshore wind farm as one of the steps along the path and, thanks to cash incentives to citizens for installing solar panels, cloudy Germany is the world’s #1 producer of solar electricity.  And do you remember all that blather during the campaign when candidate Obama pledged to create green jobs? Well, Germany already has over a quarter million jobs in the renewable energy sector and realistically expects many more in the near future. Japan is determined not to be left behind, so they’ve put many incentives in place to drive the their clean energy industries, including putting solar cells on all their public schools by the year 2020. Even Spain has positioned itself as one of the leading nations in solar energy technology.

And yet here in America, if you watch the tv news you’ll often see representatives of our business & politics sit there and pooh-pooh the practicality of these renewable energy sources. The technology is unproven, unprofitable, and can’t possibly supply enough power to meet our American demands. They portray green energy as a myth believed in by either science fiction buffs or the pitifully gullible. Meanwhile, our only real choice is to drill baby drill.

The “no we can’t” crowd finds it in their best interest to keep us enslaved to Big Oil, at least until they find a way to control the Sun. But what America finds impossible –  other nations are doing.

Take trains, for instance. And I wish I could. Back in the early 1970’s my mother took me on one of the last runs of a train that went from Dayton, Ohio to Richmond, Indiana about 50 miles away. She wanted me to see what it was like before the trains were all gone. Although trains are one of the most efficient ways to move people or freight, America gave up on them a long time ago. For many decades, the majority of America’s transportation funding has gone into building highways for ever increasing automobile traffic. Back in 1964, Japan started running its “bullet trains” at speeds of 130 mph and has been improving them ever since. China runs trains at 220 mph. Imagine sitting back comfortably and reading a book or taking a nap while you are carried to your destination at 220 miles an hour! Most every developed nation, and a number of the less-developed, has high speed rail service. The U.S. of A. has a grand total of 1 high-speed (150mph) rail line and most the time it operates at an average speed of 63 mph. And I’d say that 63 mph is about double the speed of any American train I’ve ever seen. But at least we’re starting to make some effort in this area, as the 2009 economic stimulus included a relative pittance of funding for “projects that support the development of intercity high speed rail service.”

President Truman first proposed American universal government health care in 1945, calling it “a definite public responsibility.” By 1964, President Johnson got Medicare passed so the government would provide for the medical needs of our senior citizens (and it worked so well that even Tea Baggers love this socialist program). Finally this year, President Obama squeezed through a bill that promised to sort of bring us closer to almost making sure most law-abiding Americans maybe have health insurance even if that still means they may not necessarily receive health care. I won’t go into a detailed description about how civilized nations have managed set-up workable universal health care systems. But here is an excellent documentary from PBS Frontline called, “Sick Around the World.” Watch it and weep for the American people.

I can almost hear some of you saying, “Well then, Parson, maybe we just don’t have the money for all those fine things they have in countries like France or Cuba. And that’s because we spend so darn much of our money helping the poor, and the workers, and the families here in the Homeland. And on top of that, we give away so much darn money to other countries.”  Sorry to deflate your hot-air balloon,  friend, but the facts show the U.S. is actually one of the stingiest nations with its own people and foreigners.

No, we’re not falling behind because we share so generously with the downtrodden. In fact, the cause of America’s slide is exactly the opposite. Much like the kingdom of Israel in the Old Testament Book of Amos, fabulous prosperity for the ruling class has not been tempered with compassion and justice for the poor. God sent the prophet, Amos, to call-out Israel’s rulers about the way they selfishly trampled on the less-fortunate. Then he warned them that their behavior would bring about the near total destruction of their powerful nation at the hands of their enemies. By the way – they didn’t listen.

I would certainly never claim to be a prophet, but I can tell you this:  The United States has enjoyed more than 60 years as the wealthiest nation in the history of the world. Unparalleled riches and power came our way. And it’s our national responsibility to use those riches wisely. Call it God or call it karma, but allowing millions of people to be exploited for the enrichment of a tiny greedy minority is a path to destruction of a powerful nation. Even a nation that has 5,113 nuclear warheads in its arsenal.

But as I said earlier in this essay:  “It doesn’t have to be like this.”

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