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by Robert Scheer
What’s with the president’s war analogy on the oil spill? It’s as if some alien force, “The Invasion of the Slippery Sludge,” suddenly attacked us. “Abroad, our brave men and women in uniform are taking the fight to al-Qaida,” President Barack Obama said Tuesday in his White House speech, “and tonight, I’ve returned from a trip to the Gulf Coast to speak with you about the battle we’re waging against an oil spill that is assaulting our shores and our citizens.”
What nonsense. The oil was minding its own business until some multinational corporations, enabled by a dysfunctional government regulatory regime, decided to wage war on the ecological balance of the oceans by employing technology that they were not prepared to control. Cleaning up the oil spill mess we made by raping the environment to satiate our consumer gluttony is not a glorious battle against evil but rather obligatory penance for the profound error of our ways.
You wound Mother Nature by punching a hole deep in her pristine ocean where you have no business going and when she bleeds uncontrollably you dare blame her for the assault? This from a president who shortly before this disaster had given the oil companies permission to pillage in the deep seas at will. At least now he admits to having been extremely naive in his belief that they knew what they were doing:
by John R. MacArthur
As the BP oil spill continues to flood the Gulf of Mexico, I find myself asking if such an environmental catastrophe might constitute the sort of “creative destruction” that right-wing market fundamentalists love to cite when they defend “free markets” and capitalism.
Creative destruction is the term coined in 1942 by the brilliant Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter to describe certain not-so-benign effects of the market system, and the right wing has clung to the concept ever since. In the right’s oversimplified version of Schumpeter’s idea, capitalists function as something akin to artists who must not be restrained by governments lest they lose their creative verve and nerve. Of course, such unregulated enthusiasm will from time to time lead to the destruction of old-fashioned, cherished ways of life and work. But these trades and practices were headed for the ash heap anyway, and from this “industrial mutation,” as Schumpeter put it, will arise, well . . . something wonderful.
So far, however, I can’t seem to find the good, creative or otherwise, in the tide of petroleum now well on its way to suffocating the Gulf and its surrounding coastline. While waiting for the good news, I have to content myself with trying to understand the bad.
For one thing, none of what has happened over the past month — the absurd obfuscations by BP and the federal government, the lack of a plan to address the disaster, the so-far toothless denunciations of “big oil” — should surprise anyone. The corruption of the bureaucrats assigned to “regulate” oil drilling on public lands is an old story dating back to the Teapot Dome scandal, in the early 1920s, when Albert Fall, Warren Harding’s secretary of the interior, took bribes from oilmen in exchange for granting them leases without competitive bidding. As Brian Urstadt explained last year in Harper’s Magazine, the descendants of Fall at the Interior Department’s Minerals Management Service were, as Annie Oakley sang in “Annie Get Your Gun,” just “doing what comes naturally.”
by by Dan Froomkin
When it comes to mitigating the effects of the oil spill, President Obama, like his administration's federal response, has focused on the country's coastlines.
Meanwhile government agencies have repeatedly underestimated the amount of oil spewing into the Gulf of Mexico. (The newest estimate, released Tuesday afternoon, is 35,000 to 60,000 barrels a day, some seven to 12 times the original estimate, and even so, "the upper number is less certain," according to Energy Secretary Steven Chu.)
The administration only recently -- grudgingly -- acknowledged that much of the oil continues to lurk under the surface, potentially with catastrophic consequences in the months, years and decades to come.
As a result, some marine scientists worry that Obama is basing his conclusions on what's visible, and doesn't really get, even now, just how bad things really are in the Gulf.
Heightening that concern is Obama's new conviction, first expressed Monday afternoon after touring a staging facility in Alabama, that "in the end, I am confident that we're going to be able to leave the Gulf Coast in better shape than it was before."
by Avril Moore
In the post-conscription era, parents have subtler enemies to fight.
IT'S been nearly 40 years since five Melbourne women - Jean McLean, Joan Coxsedge, Irene Miller, Chris Cathie and Jo McLaine Ross - were sent to Fairlea prison for 14 days for their activities in the Save Our Sons (SOS) movement.
In the 1960s and early '70s, SOS successfully campaigned against conscription and Australia's involvement in the Vietnam War. Times are different now; we no longer have such barbaric laws, our boys simply ''volunteer''.
Last week, the front pages of most Australian newspapers displayed heartbreaking images of two young men - Jacob Moerland, 21, and Darren Smith, 25 - who died in Afghanistan from an exploding roadside bomb.
I wonder how I would react in the event that either of my two sons, the same ages as the two dead soldiers, decided to ''join up''?
by Ralph Nader
The termination of Helen Thomas' 62-year long career as a pioneering, no-nonsense newswoman was swift and intriguingly merciless.
The event leading to her termination began when she was sitting on a White House bench under oppressive summer heat. The 89-year-old hero of honest journalism and women's rights, the scourge of dissembling presidents and White House press secretaries, answered a passing visitor's question about Israel with a snappish comment worded in a way she didn't mean; she promptly apologized in writing. Recorded without permission on a hand video, the brief exchange, that included a defense of dispossessed Palestinians, went internet viral on Friday, June 4.
By Monday, Helen Thomas was considered finished, even though she embodied a steadfast belief, in the praiseworthy words of Washington Post columnist, Dana Milbank, "that anybody standing on that podium [in the White House] should be regarded with skepticism."
Over the weekend, her lecture agent dropped her. Her column syndicator, the Hearst company, pressed her to quit "effective immediately," and, it was believed that the White House Correspondents Association, of which she was the first female president, was about to take away her coveted front row seat in the White House press room.