Saturday, July 31, 2010

Time Marches On, Unfortunately

As July turns into August, I have the sense that time indeed is passing and another year is slipping through our fingers. Time really does seem to go by faster as you get older, you'd think it would be the opposite. Midsummer's Night is coming soon, I think it's August 3rd or 4th, and it is starting to get dark a tiny bit early than a couple weeks ago.

Some other things have happened recently as the summer drags on. This is day 104 of the Gulf oil spill and there is much relief that the underground well is not uncontrollably spewing millions of gallons of crude oil. They say the well may be permanently "killed" in a week or so. Does that mean the crisis is over? BP would like to think it is, but there are still 90 days worth of oil meandering around the gulf and it really isn't going anywhere. What, if anything, they can do about oil in the middle levels of the ocean no one knows. There are reliable reports that BP is doing or thinking about doing some unsavory things:

First of all they are pulling back on the fishing boats and other commercial water craft they have employed in the cleanup, like it's winding down or something.

Second, they are quietly getting the local hydrologists and environmental experts under contract for them to do "environmental assessments," with the sneaky caveat that any findings they come up with are the property of BP and cannot be released directly to the general public. The first thing you do in any state of war or catastrophe is control the information. When you control the information you control public opinion, and that in turn will allow you to do anything you want.

The third thing is that BP is thinking about taking a $10 billion tax write-off for the oil spill. And amazingly, under our tax code, it is perfectly legal to do that. Only in America can you cause the greatest environmental disaster in history and get to write it off on your taxes. If they are even a tiny bit smart, they will realize it would be the greatest public relations disaster in history if they went through with that. But something tells me BP is quite comfortable that they will be able to do so, despite their homey and faux-sincere ads about how terribly anxious they are to clean up their mess they created and they will be around until the bitter end. Or until the tax write-off runs out.

In other news of grotesque corporate mendacity, some 17 big-name banks who accepted government bail-out money also used $1.6 billion of said money to reward their top executives with huge bonuses, as the U.S. economy nearly imploded. Now Kenneth Feinberg, the so-called "compensation czar," whose job it is to oversee how executives are paid at banks who accepted the government's financial lifeline, has stated he can't do anything about that. The only thing he can do is "shame" the banks into giving the money back, he said, at which point the banks showed him their collective middle-finger and Feinberg crumpled like wet cardboard, saying that he thinks the banks have been "shamed enough already." Oh, not nearly enough, you mealy-mouthed asshole. They still need $1.6 billion worth of shaming.

The primary election season has officially started here as the early-voting ballots arrived in the mail. I read through the voter's guide a few days ago and there is almost no one I'm interested in voting for. They are all slightly different versions of the same pinheaded idiots that crop up every damned election cycle, each promising to change everything and work hard to make the lives of the "little people" better, but that never ever happens. As usual, choosing someone to vote for comes down to a depressing toss-up as to which candidate is the least offensive and will cause the least damage. And that is a hell of a messed-up way to choose your government.

The local candidates for Congress are really ugly and appalling people, loudly trumpeting the fact they are "conservative Republicans." The infamous SB 1070, the Arizona law cracking down on illegal immigration was gutted by a federal judge hours before it went into effect, pleasing absolutely no one - friend or foe - and already it is being slung back and forth between candidates, with one candidate condemning the other for opposing it. There is such an undercurrent of racism and hatred in this state, it's really becoming obnoxious and toxic. It's so hard to understand how this country has become so polarized, and more importantly, is there any cure for it? Sadly, I can only see it getting worse and worse until finally something awful and terrible is going to happen to us all.

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