I grew up on the Gulf of Mexico.
My father was C.J. Webster, city manager of Port Lavaca for most of my adolescent life. This enabled our family to live a relatively privledged middle class existence in a two-story home with a backyard that sloped down to the shore. I thought I hated everything at the time, but looking back it seems better than idyllic.
The only thing I remember ever seeing through the haze across the waters was Alcoa, a massive aluminum manufacturing plant.
The Gulf almost killed me once. I got curious about a crab trap bobber near the edge of My canal, only to lean too far out over the water. I plunged in wearing heavy clothes and snagged my jeans on the craggy cement wall. Struggling to come up for air, I began thrashing at my groin trying to unhook the pants, only to be pulled from the waters seconds later by a friend who’d seen my fall.
I forgave the Gulf. The experience did not keep me out of its waters for long. Still, it left a mark on me.
As a boy I was stung by a half-dozen or so jellyfish, each one a memorable lesson in the worst pain I’d yet felt. I even jumped onto a bed of clams with my bare feet. It’s not the cuts that hurt so much, but the salt. Because of my life experience, the Gulf is literally part of me, and my blood will run through it forever.
I suppose in turn, my father left a mark on that city, Port Lavaca. He worked with the council and local officials to beautify public areas and enhance the city’s value as a tourist destination — even though it was, in all honesty, a town of poor immigrants, shrimpers and the business interests that took advantage of them. To accomplish such a lofty goal, he successfully mashed competing ideological interests together for the greater good. Part and parcel with his environmental initiatives was constant beach cleanup, ensuring delicate wetland areas were properly protected and the construction of a lengthy bridge fashioned from recycled plastic, with major funding by corporate interests and private donors eager to get some good PR.
I walked that bridge many times. It trails through the wetland to a giant eco-friendly gazebo that looks out over the Gulf at sunrise.
His initiatives worked wonders for the town back then, though I haven’t returned in years. After his death, I inherited a plaque the council and mayor gave him, bearing a large gold key. The inscription calls my father “the best city manager Port Lavaca ever had.”
… And I literally shake with anger at the thought of every bit of my childhood covered in toxic stew: a very real threat so many communities along the Gulf are currently facing.
Sadly, the lying fucking scoundrels at Fox News are trying to make it seem like potentially destroying all of my father’s work, along with the millions of lives and numerous interlocked economies supported by the Gulf, isn’t really that bad. One Fox anchor even claimed that “natural seepage” was worse than the devastating and still-bleeding wound left in the Gulf sea floor.
Over this, I cannot forgive them.
I try to stay about as fair as possible when “reporting” the particulars on the oil gusher story, but this is one massive ecological disaster that stabs me right in the heart. What’s worse, being a media-type, reports or discussions that horrifyingly distort the scope of the thing have been driving me to near rage.
Example A is a recent Fox News segment featuring Brit Hume, in possibly the most glaring case of detachment from reality I’ve ever seen from this scandalous network. It all starts with the frame — having the phony voice of opposition ask if the spill will ever grow to the size of Exxon-Valdez.
“Let’s see if that happens,” Hume says.
(Here’s a hint: that happened in the first four days after the Deepwater Horizon sank. The well has been continuously outputting one Exxon-Valdez volume of oil every 96 hours since April 22.)
“There’s a good question there today, that is if you’re standing on the Gulf, and that is: ‘Where’s the oil?'” Hume shockingly declared. “It — It’s not on, you’re not even seeing it, except for little chunks of it.”
And in comes Chris Wallace to remind Hume that patches of oil are accumulating at the sea floor. What he doesn’t mention is how big they are: the largest being measured at 10 miles long, three miles wide and 90 meters thick, according to The Guardian.
Hume’s response completely reveals him as either an outright shill for oil interests or someone who has truly bought into BP’s laughably false estimate of 5,000 barrels spewing out per day.
It’s more like 70,000, according to scientific analysis of the footage from the sea floor. BP was very reluctant to release video of the main underwater oil gusher, even lying about it’s mysterious delay. This is why.
Amazingly, Hume went and topped himself yet again, further suggesting to the Fox News panel that the Gulf’s “greatest” source of oil contamination is from “natural seepage”.
Watch (as snipped by Think Progress):
As a proud product of a childhood on, in and around the Gulf, I think I speak for every single man, woman and child whose lives are made content, whose wallets are fattened and families fed by the bounty of our sea when I say, Fuck You, Brit Hume.
I rewrote and redacted that four times. “Fuck you” is as polite as it gets.
And to all those politicians who want to take a measly $10 billion out of BP for this horrible and growing disaster, Fuck You Too. Every single person Responsible for this titanic clusterfuck should be begging for their freedom, not grinning smugly at a Senate committee.
The U.S. government would be very justified to outright seize the assets of Transocean, British Petroleum and Halliburton, then shut down for good every last drilling rig surrounding our shores … But, they won’t.
For eight years Fox News coddled Republicans and their favored business interests, building public support for global socialism by and for the wealthy — and now that they’ve achieved it, these assholes have the audacity to call President Obama a “socialist”?
That’s Example B.
Does Hume have any idea how terrified my people on the Gulf are? There’s massive and growing patches of oil that look like animals’ natural habitat creating sprawling dead zones, gnawing holes in a vital food chain and initiating the deaths of millions of creatures. The thing that gives many of our countrymen life could Die in the coming years if this is allowed to continue for too long.
Some experts are predicting the gusher may last years, dumping toxic sludge by the tens of millions of barrels. Get it straight, Fox News: this is a planetary crisis, not some “spill.”
It’s worse than most other oil spills because many in the past have happened in relatively shallow water, so the oil becomes a surface slick that can be dispersed by the same toxic chemicals BP is dumping into the Gulf. That won’t work here because under pressure from 5,000 feet of salt-heavy water with no light in the frightful cold, oil pools at the bottom like air at the top of an undersea cave. As it is slowly broken up, microbes will consume the small amount of oxygen from the surrounding waters. While the oil is bad enough, its after-effect of sucking the very life force out of these waters as it is slowly reabsorbed over the course of years will push this disaster to an even more immense scale.
“So, what’s badly needed here is some perspective on our energy policies and what really goes on when it comes to oil spillage,” Hume concluded.
To my utter dismay, I agree with the lying sack.
Here’s some perspective: The United Nations warned on Monday that Earth’s oceans could be completely emptied of fish in just 40 years if we as a species cannot take control of our own consumption. This means environmental pollution and overharvesting of resources must end, or we continue pursuing a future not only bleak and apocalyptic, but also completely unimaginable from our present standing in this fairweather and wholly delusional faux-reality.
And if anyone out there is wondering who the hell pays people like Hume to get on the news and spread such horrifying lies, just ask yourself: who benefits from the public’s apathy? Anyone doing anything unscrupulous on the public’s dime, is who.
Well, guess what! Example C: Virtually all of the mainstream press is going along with the 5,000 barrel fantasy, parroting BP’s line that they’ve been able to snag a whole “one fifth” of the jetting oil with their non-solution solution via “tube”.
This is a whopper big as the oil discharge itself and much like the slick, it’s growing every day. BP claims they’re netting about 1,000 barrels every 24 hours. By my own understanding of fourth grade math, that means we’ve managed to siphon roughly one-seventieth of the raging torrent — not one fifth — over less than 48 hours.
They’re basically powerless and trying best they can to delay, before the Reality breaks loose. Naturally, Fox News is along for the ride. You could say that corporate America has now circled the wagons, the whole way thanking their lucky stars for the foresight to accumulate virtually all mainstream media under the sway of just five boards of directors.
This is what it looks like when News Corporation, Viacom, Time Warner, Comcast and Disney stand up for their financiers’ interests in a unified front against reality. They know that if you are able to grasp the scale of this mess, their saltwater sand castle might come crashing down.
When Red Cell, a special thinktank within the CIA, was tasked recently with creating a plan to influence European public opinion on the Afghan war so U.S. allies could up their troop commitment, they offered the most obvious explanation of how this is done: through public apathy.
Red Cell’s report actually went point for point with all the main European objections to the war, suggesting counter-points and a new strategy for “tailoring messaging” to maximize the public’s insulation from reality — but they also warn that soon, apathy might not be enough to allow politicians to ignore voters. Soon, new measures may be required.
And that’s it. That, right there. That is why we’re allowing our capitalism to consume our souls. That is what’s so fucked up about our empire’s approach to governing, a process so stitched with greed from its very inception that the shareholders of the company whose rig blew up and caused this disaster just made $1 billion after executives approved a dividend.
If that doesn’t make you angry enough to fantasize about filling up a hundred water balloons with crude and hurling ’em onto an oil executive’s front lawn, I don’t know what would. If I were one of those privileged few men, I’d start getting very jumpy at the sight of fire on the end of a stick right about now.
As a kid growing up on the Gulf, we used to hate mosquitoes because they were absolutely everywhere. They land on your arm or neck or leg, plunge their insidious little tube into your flesh and draw out that which sustains our life. We’d smack the filthy insects, spray them, pinch the skin around their bite and let them suck until they pop or even capture and torch ’em with a magnifying glass. Culling their numbers was like a passive side-mission in everyday life.
From this perspective, I’m starting to look at mosquitoes and offshore oil rigs in a very similar light, and I’m not alone in this.
Our lot in this world can be changed for the better, but we’ve got to Do Something first. The CIA even admits this, but remains unafraid thanks to the powerful social rails that hold capitalistic incentive and the consumer mindset together in harmony. These are not the tools of organizers among the proletariat, making wholly new measures a necessity for any activist of our day.
It all begins with apathy, the subconscious gusher from which our mental pollution springs.
The only real solution is to Smash it.