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Monday, August 02, 2010

Myths and lies guide U.S. policies

We're seeing the culmination of BP's Gulf oil spill PR campaign. In the mainstream press, the event has been characterized as "winding down." Surface oil has become harder to see, or so they report. Also, the media consensus--not entirely supported in fact--is that the oil no longer poses the threat it did. Fishing grounds have been reopened.

The other looming issue is whether the well can be closed. BP has been saying that the wellhead has been secured, but other leaks and seepage in the area raise doubts whether the well--and not just the wellhead--is really sealed. This week a "Top Kill" effort to inject cement and mud from above and below (through the relief well) will occur.

The use of toxic dispersants is the real backstory the media doesn't want you to hear about. The dispersants have created a new problem: airborne oil. The oil is in tiny globules which can be lifted into the rain clouds that form over sea, which then blow inland and deposit the oil, along with whatever chemicals and fumes are associated with the spill.

We'll see, unreported in the mainstream media naturally, reports of acidic, strange-smelling rain, of chemical burns in vegetation, as well as a telltale oil sheen in the rainwater as it flows into gutters. The scope of contamination could move quite far north. Whatever the chemical composition of the rain, it's safe to say it's something people want to avoid.

We've traded one problem, the oil, for a couple more: surface oil for more sub-surface oil PLUS the dispersants. BP's logic for using dispersants has been clear from the beginning: to hide the scale of the disaster by eliminating as much surface oil as possible.

BP has sought to avoid transparency in regard to how much oil it's collected from the leaking well so it'd be keeping with the trend to oversell the well's possible closure, while claiming the amount of oil at the surface--and hence below as well--are dissipating.

The PR perception game limits public admission of realities that contradict BP's "it's over" theme. BP seeks to claim "it's over" as a way to limit its ongoing responsibilities in the matter. The media will simply echo what BP and the Coast Guard say, enshrining the company's PR with government-granted credibility.

Denying victims their legal rights

On the legal front, BP is demanding that those who receive compensation from BP sign away their right to sue. We saw this before in the management of compensation for the families of 9/11 victims. New York attorney Feinberg managed both BP's and Fedgov's system of 9/11 payouts. He's got experience in damage control which is likely why he was chosen.

If BP's $20 billion is handled anything like compensation for 9/11 first responders, we're in trouble. Recently a bill compensating first responders was killed, enraging Congressman Weiner of Brooklyn on the House floor. Weiner rightfully berated Congressman King of New York for his non-support of the bill offering payments for the responders, many of whom have died as a direct result of their intervention into the asbestos-laden smoke of the fallen towers in the first hours after the calamity. See the video at HuffPo.

Not paying the sick responders is truly callous. Fedgov views us "small people" as expendable and our legal rights as dispensable. Our government has become so tolerant of corporate polluters (and their lobbyists) that oversight and punishment are mild, even for as egregious and criminal a spill as the Deepwater Horizon, or Massey Energy's coal mine explosion.

Without the ability to hold BP to account through the Courts, it's unlikely the victims will ever receive their just due. Already Feinberg has told all the fisherman and boaters who've helped lay boom that whatever pay they'd receive would be deducted from any cash awarded them by BP.

Let me get this straight. BP, by its negligence, eliminates an entire way of life for thousands along the Gulf, spews toxins into the Gulf air, destroys vast reaches of key spawning habitat, and the survivors and responders are forced to sign away their right to sue? How convenient for BP. Is it just? No more than it would be for a criminal to control how much restitution he's willing to make, whatever the extent of damages to the victim. This Feinberg-administered fund looks like a pre-emptive maneuver on BP's behalf more than a real effort at restitution although it will likely be framed as one.

US on a path to fascism

It's worth noting that extralegal exceptions and preferential legal treatment are typical of fascist systems through which corporations gain undue control over the legal system. The best examples are probably South American juntas from the 70s, where an elite ruling class cavorts with corporate cronies, and foregoes unpleasant and unprofitable inconveniences like victim rights and pollution controls. Such a system is great for those in power, and certain favored business interests but not so great for the little people.

How similar is our new system from a fascist one? Not that far divorced in my opinion. As long as corporate money controls the elections, and the corporate media keeps the public uninformed, and gullible, the subversion of our democracy, which requires an informed and participating public, will continue. Until the people see it as their responsibility to control their government, they will likely be controlled by it, and face higher taxes, longer wars, more police state tactics, and repression.

Rather than see our democracy as a fait accompli in our country we need to see it as a work in progress. Mary Parker Follett explains:
"Democracy is not a goal, it is a path; it is not attainment, but a process ... When we grasp this and begin to live democracy, then only shall we have democracy."

The presumption that we've attained democracy that we don't need to question authority is a highly dangerous proposition. Jefferson admonished us to stay "eternally vigilant" as the price of democracy; Franklin said we'd have "a republic if we can keep it." No one wants to imagine American democracy as broken down and in need of repair yet I've warned of this, particularly since 9-11 and the rise of the National Security State, a bureacracy inherently incompatible with American democracy (our form of government may be alien or lost history to many Americans.)

Maybe we've never had as pure a form of representative democracy as we think. There have periods in the American past where a Gilded Age of robber barons and industrialists set policies. Yet a big difference between then and now is global competitiveness. Carnegie and J.P. Morgan came from the Industrial Age, where American industry dominated. Producing real things meant real exports, and a rising standard of living for all tiers of Americans, except perhaps the rural poor. It's the Chinese who are now industrializing and grow their middle class.

In contrast, the American economy of our time suffers from too much debt, and foreign competition. Now free trade has been sold to the public as a good thing since the days of the neoliberal Clinton, but it hasn't been fair. Labor rights and environmental protections have been so weakened in nations thought to be reliable trading partners like Columbia, where labor organizers were murdered on the shop floor of a Coca Cola distributing plant.

Meanwhile, here in the US, Coca Cola is treated as a venerable, benevolent icon, so revered it's even got its own CNBC special. No one mentions the effect of Coca Cola's rabid theft of ground water in India, a problem so severe it's led farmers to commit suicide as their crops failed for lack of water.

Unfairness is at the center of our trade policy because those in power look the other way. Presuming that corruption exists here in America is a healthy exercise. Dissent has been curtailed despite its valuable role in keeping the powerful in check, and encouraging the media to be more aggressive. Common sense dissipates in the face of militarism, patriotism, and hysteria.

Mass media, pied piper to the willfully ignorant

The media has played a big role in the failure of our democracy. Myths that emerge out of the media echo chamber fall on unquestioning ears. People hear what they want to hear.

We now know how hard it has been for our government to turn off the hate and propaganda. We're being lied to on a daily basis. The American people may have their suspicions about why we're fighting, and the chances of success, but they're reticent to share them openly, lest they be considered unpatriotic. Real qualified thought--facts, the truth--have been sacrificed so people don't have to question their faith in our government and the wars it wages.

The Wikileaks reports provide plenty of reasons to explain why our government lies all the time. Crystal clear it is that the way we're conducting ourselves makes extracting ourselves from Afghanistan nearly impossible. Few people seem willing to accept that our policies have intentionally led us into a quagmire. Then again, who wakes up and likes to question all their assumptions? Most people want life as simple as possible and Americans, judging from their lack of knowledge about geography and world events, can't possibly decide what's the best course of action to take. They've been fed the lie that we can win, that victory is inevitable against the enemy. All the while the real enemy--those that participated in and enabled 9/11--lies in our midst, claiming to know how best to respond to the event.

We can't distinguish between the Taliban and alQaeda because we've been told to believe the two are the same while in fact al Qaeda is a construct of the Western intelligence agencies, a leftover of Charlie WIlson's War. The Taliban are simply fundamentalists who want to be left alone. Now they may be into some evil crap but that's no reason alone to enter into permanent war with them.

The truth has had a hard time gathering enough supporters to lead to any meaningful change in policies, whether in trade, financial regulation, or land wars in Asia. On that last one, didn't we learn our lesson in Vietnam? Americans want to believe that we can win; I smirk at the idea of trying to destroy the Taliban. Why? We simply can't. And there's the troubling inconsistency that twice the Taliban offered Osama bin Laden to the CIA. Both times the US failed to act. Negligence? Perhaps...or an agenda to keep the boogeyman alive. The periodically released tapes said to be the work of bin Laden are little more than feeble efforts to keep Americans scared, where they can be more easily manipulated by our leadership, and less likely to question the official explanation for 9/11, the ultimate rationale for fighting open-ended land wars in Asia without clear exit goals.

9/11 response based on myths and lies

9/11 really did open the floodgates to Hell. The desire to exact revenge has missed the fundamental point, which was who really did 9/11, and why? As I've said in the past, I don't accept the Official Explanation, if for no other reason than the duration of the fires under the WTC buildings. I guess whatever my reasons for skepticism, they've in no way been weakened over the years. And like other 9/11 truthers, I feel increasingly isolated from the official narrative which has us continuing to occupy Afghanistan for their presumed connection to al Qaeda, despite the fact none of the hijackers were Afghans, nor were the plans designed there (in Hamburg) nor did they train there for the attacks (here instead.)

I could provide citations for all the reasons I disbelieve in the O.E., but before any case is made, it's vital to see how 9/11 has shaped American foreign policy.

The desired outcome has been to engage the US in long-term military actions against Israel's enemies, designed according to a 1996 plan called Clean Break.

Whatever your belief on 9/11, who did, or why, it's clear the US has been sucked into a war based on a weak justification, cherry-picked by intelligence contractors to fit the policy (to invade). So should we now be so surprised that our cause is lame, and progress so elusive? I mean if we'd found the real hijackers and bombers, wouldn't we--the mightiest country on the face of the planet--have been able to prosecute someone more significant that Osama's limo driver?

I mean I guess I'm not the only one who feels that the failure to try the terrorists who allegedly attacked us means that perhaps they didn't really do it? I mean all that torture did was to force the apprehended to talk, like the Gestapo. Now of course there are a plethora of excuses given why we haven't prosecuted the terrorists, but none of these explain how the premise for the 9/11 reaction--that acting alone, al Qaeda did it--could be wrong, set up to convince Americans of something that isn't true.

In the eyes of the elites governing this country, 9-11 is over--perhaps not too different from the way the BP spill is over, or the financial crisis is over. Just how stupid are the American people? I guess those in power are counting on the ignorance of the population, or its blind fury, or its ignorance, or its willingness to believe unquestioningly what our leaders say.

I'm not as easily swayed by the popularity of our response to 9/11. The reason for my disbelief is the wholly inadequate explanation given the nation for the attacks. Far too much about them is simply assumed, taken for granted for no other reason than that our government and the media tell us so. And the other red flag should be how the War Party has taken over and killed our budget. I can't believe that so much money directed into such unproductive uses happened spontaneously post-9/11. The goal of filling the coffers of the Military Industrial Complex is simply too large a potential motive to take off the table.

We need to understand that our occupation can't end without addressing 9/11. As long as we don't know who was really behind the attacks, our reaction will be misguided and inherently ineffectual. Meanwhile the main beneficiaries of our 9/11 response are the corporations serving the military (and receiving 40% of the Pentagon's now-$1 trillion budget), and Israel. We the American people pay the price or, to be more accurate, leave the debt to generation unborn. Responsibility just isn't guiding what we do anymore; we're simply adrift. So when our anti-teror policies seem incapable of stopping terrorists, and those involved in 9/11 aren't brought to justice, the situation will only worsen.

We've become our own worst enemy by blithely assuming everything the media and Fedgov tells us are the truth. We can't break this passivity, it would seem; it'll probably take some form of collapse--likely economic--to force Americans out of their slumber. Many are afraid-of this there can be no doubt. Yet very few are willing to consider that their future quality of life is being undermined by endless occupations overseas, and the conversion of the Treasury into a dispensary of corporate aid. I mean who wants to wake up and assume that our nation could be so foolish and gullible? The far easier course is to believe that the Afghan war is just, and that Americans fighting there are on the side of the good guys, despite easily obtained facts that would indicate the opposite.

Everyone seems so preoccupied with trying to survive that few bother to care. The conflicts and crises that seem to be emerging more and more often perhaps aren't simple coincidences: the fact is we're not doing what's right, and having problems "winning" over there. Now if we knew who'd really participated in 9/11, the American people might turn elsewhere, and look for answers to unanswered questions rather than assuming that our response is adequate and just.

I'll make this prediction: for as long as the United States fails to address what really happened on 9/11, we'll have an ongoing state of decline. The obvious signs are economic, which in turn come from the specter of higher taxes to pay for wars without end, and a growing surveillance society that needs enemies both internal and external to justify the bloated bureaucracy. The decline is more than materialistic: I think we're suffering from a corruption of the moral fabric that unites our country. I don't think we'll have a civil war, but there exists the possibility that we could have a breakdown in our energy grid, power shortage, or some major environmental catastrophe which so overwhelms Fedgov that Americans realize they really are on their own. Or, instead of some big bang it's possible that the US could rumble forward purely on its own momentum, even as our infrastructure decays, taxes rise, public services decline, and more and more become poor and dependent on government handouts.

In a situation where the need for change is paramount, pretending nothing's wrong is far worse than absorbing the shocks necessary to illustrate that change is necessary. Now as long as we're ignoring our recent past, and content to continue our wars without end, it's likely that policymakers will abuse our blind trust and cause even more problems for the little people. Some victims may come to realize that their situation is not the product of random incidents but rather than inevitable and much deserved recompense for abandoning reason and the facts in favor of hate and militarism.


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  • At 12:50 AM, Blogger jbpeebles said…

    The National Incident Command has come out with a dubious opinion that only 25% of the oil spilled in the Gulf remains.

    Reactions to the report were skeptical. According to one scientist cited in an article by Tom Eley for wsws.org:
    "'There's some science here, but mostly it's spin, and it breaks my heart to see them do it,' commented University of South Florida oceanographer Ian McDonald. 'This is an unfortunate report. I'm afraid this continues a track record of doubtful information distributed through NOAA.'"

    The quote below comes from an DemocracyNow/Amy Goodman interview of Jerry Cope, as posted in OpEdNews.com:

    Cope is the author of a recent Huffington Post article that, according to Goodman, "instead of celebrating the allegedly vanishing oil, we should be concerned about the disappearance of marine life in the Gulf. He describes the Gulf as a 'kill zone' and looks into where the marine animals have gone, given that BP has reported a relatively low number of dead animals from the spill."

    Here's Cope's comment on Corexit:
    "And as far as the effects of the Corexit, the EPA came out with these wonderful reports yesterday how it's no more toxic than the oil. But I didn't read in any of those reports just how toxic the oil was. BP, in their training classes for hazmat, all of the crews that worked on the spill, part of that training, which was a four-hour program, is they told them, in no uncertain terms, if you had any cuts to your skin, abrasion, open wounds, and it was exposed to the crude oil in the water, on the beaches, any form whatsoever, you could pretty much guarantee yourself that you would get cancer in your lifetime. That was part of the training class. So, the oil is most definitely toxic. The Corexit is very toxic. In my opinion, it's terrible. It evaporates and puts all of this up into the atmosphere. There's a lot of sick people along the coast."

  • At 3:04 PM, Blogger jbpeebles said…

    Mike Rivero from whatreallyhappened.com cites the following source concerning Corexit, as reported on 5 June 2010:

    "what most people don’t know is that the active ingredient of the toxic chemical dispersant, which is up to 60% by volume, being sprayed by BP to fight the Gulf oil spill is a neurotoxin pesticide that is acutely toxic to both human and aquatic life, causes cancer, causes damage to internal organs such as the liver and kidneys simply by absorbing it through the skin and may cause reproductive side effects.

    In fact the neurotoxin pesticide that is lethal to 50% of life in concentrations as little as 2.6 parts per million has been banned for use in the UK since 1998 because it failed the UK “Rocky shore test” which assures that the dispersant does not cause a “significant deleterious ecological change” – or to put that in layman’s terms it can kill off the entire food chain.

    Corexit has also earned the highest EPA warning label for toxicity which means the effects of the toxic chemicals to the eye are corrosive resulting in irreversible destruction of ocular tissue and other tissue with corneal involvement along with an burning that can persist for more than 21 days and effects to human skin are corrosive resulting in tissue destruction into the dermis and/or scarring.

    Corexit was widely used after the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill and according to a literature review performed by the group the Alaska Community Action on Toxics was later linked with widespread long lasting health impacts in people including respiratory, nervous system, liver, kidney and blood disorders.

    The “Human Health Hazards” are said to be “Chronic” for Corexit EC9527A according to the EPA."

    end citation

    Just how bad is the dispersant? Well, if were to use Fegov's confidence as a reverse indicator, we'd be wise to assume the worst.


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