Archive for May, 2010

Schlepocracy

Monday, May 31st, 2010

Who else thinks BP should be disqualified to make decisions about how to stop the gusher in the Gulf of Mexico? Here’s a company that has a responsibility to its investors to maximize profits. Doesn’t this create a potential conflict of interests for the BP officials who must deal with the deluge?

If you’ve had a look at pictures of the installation that failed a mile underwater, you see a series of members bolted together, maybe 50 feet tall, topped by a partially crimped pipe that angles off toward the bottom when it ought to be pointing straight up. Suppose there were a method of collapsing the pipe or isolating the assembly that would make the oil in that reservoir permanently inaccessible to BP. Would BP consider that course, even if it had a 90% chance of succeeding? Do you see the potential for conflict here? If independent engineers and scientists were making decisions about how to stop the flow, they might worry less about the value of the oil being lost than someone who actually owns that oil.

This logic could not have escaped Barack Obama and his minions. Their claim that only BP has the resources to shut off the flow is mockery. Even the dumbest of us knows better than to entrust an emergency to the guys who created it.

Or not. We plotted a dangerous course when we set out to make ourselves dumb enough to believe what’s on TV without becoming too dumb to carry out the obligations of citizenship. This event will test whether there’s anything left of American ingenuity.

All indications are that we’re as helpless as lambs and as clueless as the hacks who populate government and the media. The networks and newspapers give us plenty of BP-bashing and similar gossip, but nothing from scientists or engineers or smart people of any kind on how to stop the leak, where the oil has gone so far, how much might come out, where it will go, just what harm it will do, how much it would cost if the spill were stopped now and how much it will cost each day it continues.

The media and government won’t tell us the names of the racketeers that let this happen, and we can expect them to wait till Obama’s popularity falls below 50% a couple of weeks from now before they start talking about his accountability. Depend on the media and government not to call for a temporary halt to expensive military adventures so we can tend to our precious waters.

Do they take us for idiots? No question about that. Are we idiots?
The gusher in the Gulf will tell us one way or another. History could record that the future of humanity was entrusted to fat, stupid, pretty folk who did as people like that usually do.

Thugocracy

Friday, May 28th, 2010

We take it for granted that government service is a perquisite of the politically-connected. So maybe we shouldn’t be surprised to hear that two of our chief executives, the current resident and one of his predecessors, conspired to offer a high-status government post to a potential challenger to one of their political allies. The fact that two presidents were willing to do this doesn’t make the practice any less corrupt.

Here’s the offer that was made to Pennsylvania Congressman Joseph Sestak by Bill Clinton on behalf of Barack Obama: Quit your challenge to incumbent Pub-turned-Crat Senator Arlen Spector, and you can come to work for the President Himself.

 Sestak says he cut Clinton short before the conversation got into details, but the appointment would have been to an unspecified federal advsory committee, a politically prized prestige-enhancer among members of Congress.

This sort of bargain is bad for government. It populates the upper echelons with unprincipled people, and it puts these people under the control of outside agents. It undermines any sense of a team effort among government workers and their bosses, and it demoralizes everyone. It’s unprofessional, it’s become the rule of government–regardless of party–and presidents do it in concert, clandestinely. In this case, two branches of government and two houses of Congress were corrupted.

Does anybody doubt any longer that our esteemed leaders are thugs? Does anybody still believe the national economy or the global ecology can survive long under this corrupt regime?

Oil & Greece

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

The economic disaster in Greece and the ecological disaster in the Gulf of Mexico are both directly attributable to corrupt government, and both will eventually hurt vast numbers of bystanders. Not necessarily innocent bystanders, but certainly not the parties responsible for the corrupt practices that caused the harm.

In Greece, government officials allowed lenders to collude with government borrowers to understate the size of the debts being contracted. With each new advance, bankers, lawyers, and political patrons pocketed a cut of the proceeds, When assets everywhere lost value a couple of years ago, the Greek government got hassled by its creditors, and the truth about the size of the debt eventually slipped out.

As usually happens in cases of insolvency, Greece couldn’t make its payments without more credit. To keep Greece out of bankruptcy–for now–the functioning national economies of Europe–all two of them–had to cough up, and Greek workers had to accept layoffs, pay cuts and tight credit to make the payments. The financiers and corrupt officials who profited from the credit bubble get to keep their spoils.

In the Gulf of Mexico, government officials allowed offshore oil prospectors to conspire with environmental protection enforcers to relax regulation. In exchange, the enforcers and their facilitators got wined, dined and sexed by oil industry prostitutes. So pervasive was the corruption that Barack Obama himself refers to “a culture” in the Minerals Management Service that made it immune to reform, despite the election of a new president and Congress.

So relaxed was the regulation, under Obama as under his predecessor, that companies like British Petroleum were allowed to drill at unprecedented depths without proper safeguards against releases. Of course, there was an accident, and it’s hard to look at the video of it without losing hope for the future of your grandkids. One person got fired, but most of the people who gained from offshore oil get to keep their profits.

Neither event came as a surprise to serious analysts. In Greece (as everywhere else), only idiots and crooks maintained that the inflation of monetary value that supported all that borrowing could go on indefinitely. The crooks and idiots were in charge, however, and the Greek people didn’t hear much about the bubble and what might happen at pop-time.

Here in the USA, even in the corrupt Minerals Management Service there were voices that warned against the manifest risk of offshore drilling at extreme depths. The oil industry didn’t allow them to be heard, and neither did the Obama adminstration. As for our media, they routinely censor news critical of major advertisers like BP. The risk to humanity of deepwater drilling was suppressed accordingly. Still is.

Assuming that the gusher in the gulf hasn’t done enough damage already to cause mass extinctions, including us, what should people be doing? Greeks took to the streets for a few days and went home. Americans, who blend cowardice with conservatism in a way that keeps them home at all costs, prefer to fret over stuff they can’t do anything about, like discontented Arabs and other people’s wombs. Governments don’t pay attention to protesters anyway, except to gas them and beat them every so often.

As a last resort, Americans might try to organize locally and by state, as if there were an election coming. Oh, yeah, there is an election coming. I haven’t heard a candidate talk about Greece or Oil and what to do about them. That’s because political candidates don’t know what to do. We take this for granted, knowing, as we do, that the strategy of Pubs and Crats is to select people who have no firm convictions and no fixed notions of any kind. People who can be molded. They know only what they need to know, and they don’t know how to deal with big bad debt or big bad pollution.

Stuffing politicians into the hole in the bottom of the sea won’t help, but it’s probably not too late to recruit candidates who can unseat the current office-holders–all of them–and bring rogue government and its racketeering officials and naive facilitators to justice. Pubs and Crats won’t do it, so it’s up to the people to find new leaders who will.

I’ve bet heavily on people to take up this challenge by making myself a candidate. If the voters of Connecticut have the guts to elect me as their attorney general, I’ve pledged to cause heartburn to some people in the federal government who deserve it. I know that running for office is a dirty job, but somebody has to do it. You should do it, too, or find someone who will.

Gusher in the Gulf Has Officials Dancing

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

I caught parts of Joseph Lieberman’s senate committee hearing on the oil gusher in the Gulf of Mexico. His witnesses were cabinet secretary Janet Napolitano and an emergency response officer from the Coast Guard. Napolitano offered no apology on behalf of the government for the calamity. Neither did Lieberman or his Republican counterpart, Susan Collins.

Lieberman, who referred repeatedly to the “Minerals and Mining Service,” doesn’t even know the name of the agency he’s supposed to be overseeing. It’s as if these people had deliberately turned their backs on the most dangerous enterprise in human history. Was this because they couldn’t bear to face the patent risk of catastrophe, or was it just that they’d sold out to rich folks? Today, they say they’re ready to do something, now that it’s too late.

In some cultures public officers would have resigned already and maybe made a discreet exit from this life. Here they survive somehow and prosper. Lieberman, who scans the distant eastern horizon endlessly for signs of danger, had his contemplations interrupted by this very local event. Now that the gusher has their attention, will Lieberman or Collins or Barack Obama grasp the manifest madness of for-profit offshore oil recovery?

Don’t hold your breath. We know that when people organize to make money, they’ll do just about anything to make the greatest possible amount of it. If they’re rich enough and powerful enough, they can and will risk all humanity for the right sum. That’s what the oil industry has done, with the connivance of the federal government. Oh, well.

So Lieberman and his witnesses perform an elaborate dance. He may now be prepared to question the agency whose name he does not know, but government dares not make a move that will disrupt the flow of oil, even if continuing the flow means the end of mankind. BP and the oil industry have Lieberman and the rest of us by the short hairs, just as too-big-to-fail bankers do. If they stop what they’re doing, the consumer economy, as we know it, skids to a halt. Some of us worry that that’s going to happen anyway, and so it seems we might be better off to know when and by what means than to wait for the capitulation.

If only there could be an interrogation of some kind, but that tactic is reserved for brown-skinned plotters, not white guys in suits. Lieberman could have had his committee use a lawyer who knows something about oil spills to ask the questions instead of grandstanding and getting nothing of value. We waited for somebody to ask what sort of government it is that would allow this to happen. If there is an activity in which the federal government should be fully immersed, it’s offshore drilling. Where was the notoriously corrupt agency that “regulates” offshore drilling? Napolitano’s not saying. Lieberman’s not saying.

Another question we might like to hear asked is what will happen to all that oil. ‘Crats don’t know. ‘Pubs don’t know. And they don’t want to know either. Lieberman’s committee unanimously facilitated the oil industry and its agents in government, including the president himself, in a joint effort to minimize the seriousness of the situation in the Gulf of Mexico.

You may have noticed that the media censored news of this event for weeks. Like the government, they took BP at its word. They could have dropped a video camera into the water or demanded precise estimates of the discharge from the government, but they didn’t. Instead, they interviewed tearful shrimpers. They didn’t suggest (and still don’t) that the government act unilaterally. They didn’t fault lax enforcement. They didn’t resurrect the scandals of a couple of years ago, when big oil was found to have corrupted the Minerals Management Service. They didn’t seem to want to take on a big, powerful company and frequent advertiser.

You can, like Lieberman, choose to be afraid of what probably won’t happen, like being killed by an Iranian, or what probably will: a catastrophe caused by corruption. The gusher in the Gulf is such an event, the worst ever, and it’s a direct result of the corruption of federal officials by the oil industry. Not just a few government officials. All of them. The states should band together, to the extent legally permissible, to foreclose the federal government. Take it into receivership. Two-thirds can call a constitutional convention to take away the powers of the reckless, greedy despots and courtesans who poisoned our waters and ruined our children’s future.