Drill, Baby….. Or, Don’t Drill?

Two-thirds of Americans approve of off-shore oil drilling. That wasn’t the case before gasoline hit four dollars a gallon, but like most other capitalist populations used to a relatively easy life, Americans can change their minds like the wind, or more likely the thickness of their wallets.

“Don’t worry,” promised Tony Haywood, the latest big boss of oil giant, BP, “We’ll soon have it under control.”

That was a week ago when the demise of an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico had already produced a slick one mile long and twelve miles wide.

Now, it’s the size of Jamaica and growing – at the rate of 220,000 gallons a day, causing the great American populace to swing sharply against the idea that offshore drilling might be such a good deal, after all.

The Reverend Pat Robertson has defined the catastrophe as a message from God to Sarah Palin: Stop yelling, “Drill, baby, drill!”

Robertson described the oil companies as “a dangerous enemy to our south, controlling a huge pool of oil that could hurt us very badly.”

Oh, no, sorry, on that occasion he was actually referring to Hugo Chavez.

Robertson sees Chavez as an evil alien life-form. Much the way the US Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services views people like me. It’s there on my ‘Green Card’ for all to see: “Permanent Resident ALIEN”.

Now, this irks more than a little. I didn’t arrive from Mars in a shiny, metallic, saucer-like contraption. I came from Britain. I resent being called ‘alien’, and I think it’s time we non-citizens were called what we are: ‘Permanent Resident Immigrants’.

Of course, that would include half of the population of the US, citizen or no, but its a damn sight more accurate than “ALIEN”.

I can accept that most dictionaries allow a meaning, viz: ‘a non-citizen inhabitant of a country’, but that’s just to appease Americans. I’d never heard the term used that way until I arrived in the United States, and believe me, there’s a plethora of non-citizen immigrants in Britain, let me tell you.

Just Google, ‘alien’, and see what comes up. On second thoughts, don’t bother, I can tell you.

Lots of this:

Take note, Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration, my skin isn’t green and I do have testicles.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown must have felt his testicles contract rather sharply this week when informed that Sky News was happily broadcasting to the world his unfortunate comments on a rather irate and dogmatic pensioner from Rochdale in Lancashire. It’s a northern English town renowned for ‘folks what speaks theer minds’.

Mrs Gillian Duffy had a few words to say about all those ‘Eastern European’s coming ‘ere taking our jobs’, and Brown, on returning to his chauffeur-driven limousine, referred to her as a ‘bigoted old woman’, while failing to check his radio microphone was turned off.

It’s likely he was right in his opinion of Mrs Duffy. Had he stuck to his guns and made a sterling, impromptu speech, denouncing her racist comments about the good people from Poland as bigoted and unacceptable, he may well have carried the general election next week with a resounding majority.

As it was, he did what all invertebrate politicians do in such a situation: groveled like the sniffling, toadying, slime-covered garden slug that he is.[1]

Bye bye, Gordon. I can’t say it was nice knowing you – even at a distance.

Far more of a man is Lawrence Wilkerson.

Colonel Lawrence B. Wilkerson was Chief of Staff to Colin Powell when he was Secretary of State, and is chairman of the New America Foundation/U.S.-Cuba 21st Century Policy Initiative. He served in the US military for thirty years and is not a man to be doubted.

My knowledge of the good colonel stems from a link forwarded to Sparrow Chat by Jo, a blogger friend from New Zealand, whose husband found it while perusing feminist sci-fi websites(?) (Don’t ask!)

Wilkerson has submitted sworn testimony to the……

……International Human Rights Clinic at Willamette University College of Law in Oregon and the Federal Public Defender who are suing US officials for the wrongful detention and torture of [Guantanamo detainee] Adel Hassan Hamad…”[2]

The subject of this link really relates to an essay by Lawrence Wilkerson published in the blog, ‘Washington Note’, on March 17th 2010.

In it Wilkerson confirms what most of us already believed – that the Bush administration were already aware many of the detainees captured in Afghanistan were innocent of any wrongdoing, even before they were sent to Guantanamo:

It did not help that poor U.S. policies such as bounty-hunting, a weak understanding of cultural tendencies, and an utter disregard for the fundamentals of jurisprudence prevailed as well (no blame in the latter realm should accrue to combat soldiers as this it not their bailiwick anyway).

The second dimension that is largely unreported is that several in the U.S. leadership became aware of this lack of proper vetting very early on and, thus, of the reality that many of the detainees were innocent of any substantial wrongdoing, had little intelligence value, and should be immediately released.

But to have admitted this reality would have been a black mark on their leadership from virtually day one of the so-called Global War on Terror and these leaders already had black marks enough: the dead in a field in Pennsylvania, in the ashes of the Pentagon, and in the ruins of the World Trade Towers. They were not about to admit to their further errors at Guantanamo Bay. Better to claim that everyone there was a hardcore terrorist, was of enduring intelligence value, and would return to jihad if released. I am very sorry to say that I believe there were uniformed military who aided and abetted these falsehoods, even at the highest levels of our armed forces…”

He writes of the attempts by Powell and Richard Armitage to have this situation reversed:

The third basically unknown dimension is how hard Secretary of State Colin Powell and his deputy Richard Armitage labored to ameliorate the GITMO situation from almost day one.

For example, Ambassador Pierre Prosper, the U.S. envoy for war crimes issues, was under a barrage of questions and directions almost daily from Powell or Armitage to repatriate every detainee who could be repatriated.

This was quite a few of them, including Uighurs from China and, incredulously, citizens of the United Kingdom (“incredulously” because few doubted the capacity of the UK to detain and manage terrorists). Standing resolutely in Ambassador Prosper’s path was Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld who would have none of it. Rumsfeld was staunchly backed by the Vice President of the United States, Richard Cheney. Moreover, the fact that among the detainees was a 13 year-old boy and a man over 90, did not seem to faze either man, initially at least……”

Cheney and Rumsfeld used the excuse of ‘intelligence gathering’ to hold innocent men captive in Guantanamo, but according to Wilkerson, no useful intelligence was ever extracted from these detainees:

it has never come to my attention in any persuasive way–from classified information or otherwise–that any intelligence of significance was gained from any of the detainees at Guantanamo Bay other than from the handful of undisputed ring leaders and their companions, clearly no more than a dozen or two of the detainees, and even their alleged contribution of hard, actionable intelligence is intensely disputed in the relevant communities such as intelligence and law enforcement.

This is perhaps the most astounding truth of all, carefully masked by men such as Donald Rumsfeld and Richard Cheney in their loud rhetoric–continuing even now in the case of Cheney–about future attacks thwarted, resurgent terrorists, the indisputable need for torture and harsh interrogation and for secret prisons and places such as GITMO…”[3]

Given the evidence Wilkerson and other similar men of his caliber are prepared to offer in a court of law, the question has to be addressed: why are Cheney, Rumsfeld, Bush, and other guilty parties, still walking the streets as free men?

While it’s unfair to lay the blame for this with MSNBC’s ‘Countdown’ and ‘The Rachel Maddow Show’, the sheer volume of publicity generated for the Republican Party, and in particular its wacky right-wing tea-bagging nuts, by these two back-to-back prime-time viewing events is staggering.

Have Olbermann and Maddow never heard the old adage: there’s no such thing as bad publicity?

Huge swathes of their nightly offering are given over to the antics of right-wing Republican politicians and the small army of cranks who support them. As TV hosts supposedly pushing a left of center agenda, they could make more effort to offer the viewer some insight into the achievements of the present administration, and the work some Democrat politicians are doing in the public interest.

But, no, instead we’re subjected to a barrage of far-right Republican propaganda cleverly concealed as leftist, satirical, comment. And don’t expect any change from this network; it’s blue on the surface, but redder than the fires of hell when you dig down to its murky, managerial, depths.

Meanwhile, the ‘Gulf Oil Slick’ as it’s been termed, begins to hit Louisiana’s beaches. Corporate promises are once more proven worthless. BP’s boss hasn’t ‘got it under control’ and it isn’t likely to be for at least another three months, according to the latest forecasts.

Wildlife habitats around the Gulf coast will be devastated. The population of Louisiana, still recovering from Hurricane Katrina, will suffer yet again.

Despite the huge financial cost of eventually cleaning up the mess, the oil company will still manage to return a profit, by simply raising the price of gasoline once more, and causing two-thirds of the American people to yet again take up the cry, “Drill, baby, drill!”

Sometimes, I truly wish I was an alien.

[1] “Gordon Brown ‘mortified’ by his ‘bigoted woman’ slur” BBC, April 28th 2010

[2] “What They Knew About Their Torture Victims”Ambling Along the Aqueduct, April 21st 2010

{3] “Some Truths About Guantanamo Bay” Washington Note, March 17th 2010

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2 Replies to “Drill, Baby….. Or, Don’t Drill?”

  1. I agree with you re the use of the word “alien” here in the US. It’s offensive. “Bring me your huddled masses” indeed. “Don’t bring me any more of those damned aliens” would be more appropriate.

    I felt a wee bit sorry for Gordon Brown. I wish he hadn’t apologised. Apologies are silly in situations like this. Still, it’s the fashion – Tiger Woods, David Letterman, et al did it – they’re all at it, it must be catching!

    Dreadful situation re the oil spill. Such things have been happening fairly regularly over the years, but we still insist on ignoring the very clear message.

  2. Gas prices here aren’t even bad compared to much of the world. Not even close. Still, in many parts of the US, it is hard to blame people who rely on their cars (although if they drive gas-guzzling SUVs or trucks for non-work related activities, I had little sympathy for their gas-complaining woes). Our public transportation infastructure in much of the US is completely broken and useless. Even in some major cities, the public trans is downright despicable, especially when compared to the rest of the modern world.

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