Revolutionizing Awareness

helping humanity, make choices, more so through awareness, than ignorance

Posts Tagged ‘New Orleans’

“Stage Two” of the BP Gulf of Mexico Environmental Disaster New Drilling Permits amid 28,000 Unmonitored Abandoned Wells

Posted by Admin on October 28, 2011

http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=27279

by Rady Ananda

Global Research, October 25, 2011
24,486 permanent and 3,593 temporarily abandoned wells in the Gulf of Mexico [Image]
Since BP’s catastrophic Macondo Blowout in the Gulf of Mexico last year, the Obama Administration has granted nearly 300 new drilling permits [1] and shirked plans to plug 3,600 of more than 28,000 abandoned wells, which pose significant threats to the severely damaged sea. Among those granted new permits for drilling in the Gulf, on Friday Obama granted BP permission to explore for oil in the Gulf, allowing it to bid on new leases that will be sold at auction in December.

Reports Dow Jones: “The upcoming lease sale, scheduled for Dec. 14 in New Orleans, involves leases in the western Gulf of Mexico. The leases cover about 21 million acres, in water depths of up to 11,000 feet. It will be the first lease auction since the Deepwater Horizon spill.” [2]

Massachusetts Rep. Ed Markey objected to BP’s participation in the upcoming lease sale, pointing out that: “Comprehensive safety legislation hasn’t passed Congress, and BP hasn’t paid the fines they owe for their spill, yet BP is being given back the keys to drill in the Gulf.”

Environmental watchdog, Oceana, added its objection to the new permits, saying that none of the new rules implemented since April 2010 would have prevented the BP disaster. “Our analysis shows that while the new rules may increase safety to some degree, they likely would not have prevented the last major oil spill, and similarly do not adequately protect against future ones.” [3]

Detailing the failure of the Dept. of Interior’s safety management systems, Oceana summarizes:

  • Regulation exemptions (“departures”) are often granted, including one that arguably led to the BP blowout;
  • Economic incentives make violating rules lucrative because penalties are ridiculously small;
  • Blowout preventers continue to have critical deficiencies; and
  • Oversight and inspection levels are paltry relative to the scale of drilling operation.

Nor have any drilling permits been denied [4] since the BP catastrophe on April 20, 2010, which still spews oil today [5].

28,079 Abandoned Wells in Gulf of Mexico

In an explosive report at Sky Truth, John Amos reveals from government data that “there are currently 24,486 known permanently abandoned wells in the Gulf of Mexico, and 3,593 ‘temporarily’ abandoned wells, as of October 2011.” [6]

Over a year ago, the Dept. of Interior promised to plug the “temporarily abandoned” (TA) wells, and dismantle another 650 production platforms no longer in use. [7] At an estimated decommissioning cost of $1-3 billion [8], none of this work has been started, though Feds have approved 912 permanent abandonment plans and 214 temporary abandonment plans submitted since its September 2010 rule. [9]

Leaking abandoned wells pose a significant environmental and economic threat. TA wells are those temporarily sealed so that future drilling can be re-started. Both TA wells and “permanently abandoned” (PA) wells endure no inspections.

Over 600 of those abandoned wells belong to BP, reported the Associated Press last year. “Experts say abandoned wells can repressurize, much like a dormant volcano can awaken. And years of exposure to sea water and underground pressure can cause cementing and piping to corrode and weaken.” [10]

The AP added that some of the permanently abandoned wells date back to the 1940s.  And Amos advises that some of the “temporarily abandoned” wells date back to the 1950s.

A three-month EcoHearth investigation revealed that a minimum of 2.5 million abandoned wells in the US and 20-30 million worldwide receive no follow up inspections to ensure they are not leaking. Worse:

“There is no known technology for securely sealing these tens of millions of abandoned wells. Many—likely hundreds of thousands—are already hemorrhaging oil, brine and greenhouse gases into the environment. Habitats are being fundamentally altered. Aquifers are being destroyed. Some of these abandoned wells are explosive, capable of building-leveling, toxin-spreading detonations. And thanks to primitive capping technologies, virtually all are leaking now—or will be.” [11]

Sealed with cement, adds EcoHearth, “Each abandoned well is an environmental disaster waiting to happen. The triggers include accidents, earthquakes, natural erosion, re-pressurization (either spontaneous or precipitated by fracking) and, simply, time.”

As far back as 1994, the Government Accountability Office advised that there was no effective strategy in place to inspect abandoned wells, nor were bonds sufficient to cover the cost of abandonment. Lease abandonment costs estimated at “$4.4 billion in current dollars … were covered by only $68 million in bonds.” [12]

The GAO concluded that “leaks can occur… causing serious damage to the environment and marine life,” adding that “MMS has not encouraged the development of nonexplosive structure removal technologies that would eliminate or minimize environmental damage.”

Not only cement, but seals, valves and gaskets can deteriorate over time. A 2000 report by C-FER Technologies to the Dept. of Interior identified several  different points where well leaks can occur, as this image (p. 26) reveals.  [13]

To date, no regulations prescribe a maximum time wells may remain inactive before being permanently abandoned. “The most common failure mechanisms (corrosion, deterioration, and malfunction) cause mainly small leaks [up to 49 barrels, or 2,058 gallons]. Corrosion is historically known to cause 85% to 90% of small leaks.”

Depending on various factors, C-FER concludes that “Shut-In” wells reach an environmental risk threshhold in six months, TA wells in about 10-12 years, and PA wells in 25 years.  Some of these abandoned wells are 63 years old.

The AP noted that none of the 1994 GAO recommendations have been implemented. Abandoned wells remain uninspected and pose a threat which the government continues to ignore.

Agency Reorganization

Not only was nothing was done with the 1994 GAO recommendations to protect the environment from abandoned wells, its 2003 reorganization recommendations [14] were likewise ignored.  In a June 2011 report on agency reorganization in the aftermath of the Gulf oil spill, the GAO reports that “as of December 2010,” the DOI “had not implemented many recommendations we made to address numerous weaknesses and challenges.” [15]

The Minerals Management Service (MMS) was renamed the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) last May after MMS drew heavy fire for malfeasance, including allowing exemptions to safety rules it granted to BP. An Office of Inspector General investigation revealed that MMS employees accepted gifts from the oil and gas industry, including sex, drugs and trips, and falsified inspection reports. [16]

Reorganization proceeded.  Effective October 1, 2011, the Dept. of the Interior split BOEMRE into three new federal agencies: the Office of Natural Resources Revenue to collect mineral leasing fees, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) “to carry out the offshore energy management and safety and environmental oversight missions.” The DOI admits:

“The Deepwater Horizon blowout and resulting oil spill shed light on weaknesses in the federal offshore energy regulatory system, including the overly broad mandate and inherently conflicted missions of MMS which was charged with resource management, safety and environmental protection, and revenue collection.” [17]

BOEM essentially manages the development of offshore drilling, while BSEE oversees environmental protection, with some eco-protection overlap between the two agencies. [18]

Early this month, BSEE Director Michael Bromwich spoke at the Global Offshore Safety Summit Conference in Stavanger, Norway, sponsored by the International Regulators Forum. He announced a new position, Chief Environmental Officer of the BOEM:

“This person will be empowered, at the national level, to make decisions and final recommendations when leasing and environmental program heads cannot reach agreement. This individual will also be a major participant in setting the scientific agenda for the United States’ oceans.” [19]

Bromwich failed to mention anything about the abandoned wells under his purview. Out of sight, out of mind.

Cost of the Macondo Blowout

Today, the GAO published its final report of a three-part series on the Gulf oil disaster. [20]  Focused on federal financial exposure to oil spill claims, the accountants nevertheless point out that, as of May 2011, BP paid $700 million toward those spill claims out of its $20 billion Trust established to cover that deadly accident. BP and Oxford Economics estimate the total cost for eco-cleanup and compensatory economic damages will run to the “tens of billions of dollars.” [21]

On the taxpayer side, the GAO estimates the federal government’s costs will exceed the billion dollar incident cap set by the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (as amended). As of May 2011, agency costs reached past $626 million.

The Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund’s income is generated from an oil barrel tax that is set to expire in 2017, notes GAO.

With today’s District Court decision in Louisiana, BP also faces punitive damages on “thousands of thousands of thousands of claims.” U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier denied BP’s appeal that might have killed several hundred thousand claims, among them that clean up workers have still not been fully paid by BP. [22]

Notes

[1] U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, “Status of Gulf of Mexico Well Permits,” n.d. http://www.bsee.gov/Regulations-and-Guidance/Permits/Status-of-Gulf-of-Mexico-Well-Permits.aspx

[2] Tennille Tracy, “US Govt Approves First BP Deepwater Exploration Plan in US Gulf Under New Rules,” Dow Jones News Wire, 24 Oct. 2011. Reproduced athttp://www.firstenercastfinancial.com/news/story/45441-us-govt-approves-first-bp-deepwater-exploration-plan-us-gulf-under-new-rules

[3] Michael Craig and Jacqueline Savitz, “False Sense of Safety: Safety Measures Will Not Make Offshore Drilling Safe,” Oceana, 20 Oct. 2011http://na.oceana.org/sites/default/files/reports/OffshoreSafetyReport_Oceana_10-18-11.pdf

Also see Oceana’s online appendix showing an analysis of each new safety measure’s effect on safety.http://na.oceana.org/sites/default/files/OnlineAppendix_SafetyReport_Oceana_10-19-11.pdf

[4] U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, “Application for Permit to Drill (APD) Approval Process and Definitions,” n.d.http://www.bsee.gov/uploadedFiles/APD_Facts_and_Definitions_BSEE.pdf

[5] See, e.g.: David Edwards, “New evidence of a massive oil slick near Deepwater Horizon site,” Raw Story, 1 Sept. 2011.http://www.rawstory.com/rawreplay/2011/09/new-evidence-of-a-massive-oil-slick-near-deepwater-horizon-site/

Frank Whalen, “Oil Still Gushing from Bp Well in Gulf,” American Free Press, 2 Sept. 2011. http://americanfreepress.net/?p=341

Dahr Jamail, “Environmental Disaster in the Gulf of Mexico: The Escalation of BP’s Liability,” Global Research, 5 Oct. 2011. 
http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=26947

Luis R. Miranda, “Gulf of Mexico Sea Floor Unstable, Fractured, Spilling Hydrocarbons,” The Real Agenda, 10 Oct. 2011. http://real-agenda.com/2011/10/10/gulf-of-mexico-sea-floor-unstable-fractured-spilling-hydrocarbons/

[6] John Amos, “Over 28,000 Abandoned Wells in the Gulf of Mexico,” 18 Oct. 2011. http://blog.skytruth.org/2011/10/abandoned-wells-in-gulf-of-mexico.html

[7] U.S. Dept. of the Interior, “Interior Department Issues ‘Idle Iron’ Guidance,” 15 Sept. 2010. http://www.doi.gov/news/pressreleases/Interior-Department-Issues-Idle-Iron-Guidance.cfm

[8] Siobhan Hughes, “Plugs Ordered on Idle Wells: Move to Permanently Seal Sites in Gulf Could Cost Billions but Create New Work,” Wall Street Journal, 16 Sept. 2010.http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703743504575493782591743858.html

[9] U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, “Idle Iron Update,” n.d. (pp. 9-16) https://www.noia.org/website/download.asp?id=47290

[10] Jeff Donn and Mitch Weiss, “Gulf of Mexico hides 27,000 abandoned wells,” Associated Press, 7 July 2010. http://www.dallasnews.com/news/state/headlines/20100707-Gulf-of-Mexico-hides-27-000-1068.ece

[11] Steven Kotler, “Planet Sludge: Millions of Abandoned, Leaking Oil Wells and Natural-Gas Wells Destined to Foul Our Future,” EcoHearth, 17 Aug. 2011.http://ecohearth.com/eco-zine/green-issues/1609-abandoned-leaking-oil-wells-natural-gas-well-leaks-disaster.html 

[12] U.S. Government Accounting Office, “Offshore Oil and Gas Resources: Interior Can Improve its Management of Lease Abandonment,” (GAO/RCED-94-82) May 1994.http://archive.gao.gov/t2pbat3/151878.pdf

[13] J.R. Nichols and S.N. Kariyawasam, “Risk Assessment of Temporarily Abandoned or Shut-in Wells,” C-FER Technologies, Oct. 2000.http://www.boemre.gov/tarprojects/329/329AA.pdf

[14] U.S. Government Accounting Office, “Results-Oriented Cultures: Implementation Steps to Assist Mergers and Organizational Transformations,” (GAO-03-669) 2 July 2003. http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-03-669

[15] U.S. Government Accountability Office, “Oil and Gas: Interior’s Restructuring Challenges in the Aftermath of the Gulf Oil Spill,” (GAO-11-734T) 2 June 2011.http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d11734t.pdf

[16] U.S. Dept. of the Interior, Office of Inspector General, “Investigative Report – Island Operating Company, et al.,” 31 March 2010.http://www.govexec.com/pdfs/052510ts1.pdf

[17] U.S. Dept. of the Interior, “Interior Department Completes Reorganization of the Former MMS,” 30 Sept. 2011. http://www.doi.gov/news/pressreleases/Interior-Department-Completes-Reorganization-of-the-Former-MMS.cfm#

[18] U.S. Dept. of the Interior, untitled document distinguishing the areas of responsibility between the BOEM and the BSEE. n.d.http://www.bsee.gov/uploadedFiles/A%20to%20Z%20Guide%20web%20version%281%29.pdf

[19] U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, “BSEE Director Delivers Remarks at the International Regulators Forum 2011 Global Offshore Safety Summit Conference,” 4 Oct. 2011. http://www.boemre.gov/ooc/press/2011/press1004.htm

[20] U.S. Government Accountability Office, “Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill: Actions Needed to Reduce Evolving but Uncertain Federal Financial Risks,” (GAO-12-86), 24 Oct. 2011. http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d1286.pdf

[21] U.S. Government Accountability Office, “Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill: Preliminary Assessment of Federal Financial Risks and Cost Reimbursement and Notification Policies and Procedures,” 9 Nov. 2010. http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d1190r.pdf

[22] Sabrina Canfield, “Judge Denies BP Appeal That Might Have Killed Thousands of Claims, Courthouse News Service,” 24 Oct. 2011.http://www.courthousenews.com/2011/10/24/40864.htm

Food Freedom: http://foodfreedom.wordpress.com/
COTO Report: http://coto2.wordpress.com/
Follow Me: http://twitter.com/geobear
DONATE: http://foodfreedom.wordpress.com/donate/
.

Rady Ananda is a frequent contributor to Global Research.  Global Research Articles by Rady Ananda

 

Advertisements

Posted in Global Research, Pollution | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on “Stage Two” of the BP Gulf of Mexico Environmental Disaster New Drilling Permits amid 28,000 Unmonitored Abandoned Wells

Scientist: Baby dolphin deaths unprecedented

Posted by Admin on February 24, 2011

Wendy Hatchett

AP – Institute for Marine Mammal Studies veterinary technician Wendy Hatchett lifts a dead bottlenose dolphin

NEW ORLEANS – A scientist says the deaths of about two dozen baby bottlenose dolphins is unprecedented in 30 years of studying dolphin deaths in the Gulf of Mexico.

Moby Solangi says the Institute of Marine Mammal Studies in Gulfport, Miss., has no record of previous mass deaths in which the majority were infants.

The recent deaths occurred in birthing areas off Mississippi and Alabama. Six bodies intact enough for dissection were a mix of stillborn, premature and full-term calves that died shortly after birth.

Solangi says possible causes include cold winter and disease. He said scientists are investigating whether there was a link to the BP oil spill. But he says only one dolphin species — and no other kind of animal — appears to be dying in unusual numbers.

Posted in Pollution | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Scientist: Baby dolphin deaths unprecedented

The Horror of Bush and the Problem for the Rest of Us

Posted by Admin on November 28, 2010

 

Bush Laden

Bush Laden

Friday 26 November 2010

by: Richard Lichtman, t r u t h o u t | Op-ed

I have long been an avid reader of the writings of William Rivers Pitt, whose strong moral voice and incisive intellect have never been more necessary than in this time of horrendous political and cultural corruption. And I have no doubt that his assessment of Bush and his reign of destruction will resonate strongly with many readers of his account. Everything Pitt notes seems to me to be true: Bush’s class-derived economic policy and its ensuing national chaos; the instigation of a completely contrived war that has already led to the death of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and the displacement of millions more; the Alfred E. Newmanesque vapidity that marked his original disavowal of national danger and the consequent politicization of fear as an instrument of social policy – the modern, centralized, secular version of the Puritan Jememiad; the overt dishonesty that thrived in the petri dish of contaminating theories of expediently constructed truths; a complete disavowal of the notion of constitutional democracy; the willful, racist abandonment of New Orleans‘ Black population during and after Katrina; the totalitarian inflation of the role of president – and so on into the dark night of disintegration and despair.

What then is there to write about when it has all been said? But something is missing from Mr. Pitt’s essay that is as significant as the consequence of the Bush administration‘s policy. It is the very fact that he became president, that he was voted into office in a purported “democracy,” that so many millions chose to support his candidacy. I do not deny that the election of 2000 was pilfered and that it involved the allied corruption of the Supreme Court, or that significant acts of manipulation occurred in 2004. Hitler also came to power with the aid of terror and overt violence, but it cannot be denied that a plurality of Germans supported him. The actual total of voters who supported Bush in his two elections may never be exactly known, and, in 2000, certainly did not constitute a plurality. The terrible fact remains that he received the enormous support he did not once, but, even more incredibly, twice, and in the context of the devastating war he waged without justification.

The question that has not been asked seriously enough is how this catastrophe could have occurred. After the condemnation of Bush has been certified and recorded, one would have expected an attempt at explanation. What is the nature of the populace that permitted this “small fraction of a man” to prevail? What is the social-psychological disposition of the American people that has furthered the nightmare of willfully chosen subordination? What is the history of America as it stretches back into the recesses of early Puritanism? Consider this passage from Sacvan Bercovitch‘s The American Jeremiad:

Only in the United States has nationalism carried with it the Christian meaning of the sacred. Only America, of all national designations, has assumed the combined force of eschatology and chauvinism. Many societies have defended the status quo by reference to religious values … But only the American Way, of all modern ideologies, has managed to circumvent the paradoxes inherent in these approaches. Of all symbols of identity, only America has united nationality and universality, civic and spiritual selfhood, secular and redemptive history, the country’s past and paradise to be, in a single synthetic ideal. [1]

 

Is there not something of this Puritan view in contemporary American culture and politics, particularly on the right wing of the political spectrum? And have there not, over the generations since that time, been other sediments that have encrusted the nature of the American self and sunk deeper and deeper into its identity? Is it not the case, therefore, that to understand ourselves as a people in our unity and across the complexity of views that mark us as a nation, across all our diversity and contradiction, we need to excavate the layers of political personhood that have led us to the point at which we now find ourselves?

Of course this is a formidable task, but it is made even more difficult by two factors:

First, the social systems that have followed each other in time are sufficiently different from each other so as to act as transformations of the selfhood that has been bequeathed them. In other words, the early Puritan tendency cannot be traced straight through without recognizing the manner in which succeeding epochs of American social and industrial history altered its nature, saving something of its punitive grandiosity, but acquiring new aspects of corporate subordination, fierce individual competitiveness and unmoored anxiety. I am not proposing that old and misleading cliche that to know ourselves we must know what our past has been; rather, I propose that the past is continually present, continually growing within what we recognize as our current identities.

Second, there is the paradoxical fact that we know more about how to approach this history as we have acquired perspectives and comprehensions that previous generations lacked. We know more about political economy, particularly the contribution made available by Marxist theory as it attunes our awareness to the facts of class structure, accumulation, domination of the media and the structures of the political system that are themselves heavily influenced by the underlying systems of corporate power. On the side of “subjectivity,” we have learned a great deal regarding the nature of mental development and its pathologies, so that we can no longer merely read the surface of our society while discarding everything we have learned from psychoanalytic theory and its variations. We have abandoned theological explanations, although there remain sizable constituencies who continue to cling to these remnants of the ancient codes that view society in terms of the hierarchical power of wealth, ethnic identity and gender emanating from transcendent spiritual forces and whose political identity represents much less a “party” – since they lack any entry into the contemporary world – than a terrified embrace of each other and a disdainful rejection of the major tenets of the Enlightenment.

The paradox that I alluded to derives from the fact that, as we know more, we also have more work to do if we are to make full use of our knowledge. If we wish to understand why those on the right abhor science, are terrified by the growing equality of women and ethnic minorities, genuflect to power and cruelty, worship tradition, detest distinction and diversity and glorify “the people” while acting to destroy the protection of individual rights, we will have to bring together these theoretical systems of political economy and psychology. This is not to say that efforts of this sort have been completely lacking, only that they are relatively scarce in proportion to the danger that threatens us. It also seems that very few works even purport to possess the same power as the writings of the Frankfurt School that brought together in one opus the considerations of economics, politics, culture, media, history and psychology that are all so relevant to our current situation. This has become an age of specialization in which most intellectuals know one subject well to the detriment of their understanding of – or even interest in – cognate concerns.

How did this happen? The easy answer is that we know so much more now and, consequently, cannot expect any individual to master the entire relevant corpus needed to reach a comprehensive truth. But this answer is shortsighted and inverted. It is not that the part is easier to understand than the whole; it is difficult or impossible to understand individual subjects when they are isolated from their larger contexts. How would we attempt to understand the rise of Nazism in Germany in the 1930s by concentrating solely on economics, for example? Even if it were the case that the chaos of capitalism in the post- World War I period was enough to explain the ensuing breakdown of traditional order, how would this consideration explain the rise of Hitler? Without knowing a good deal of previous German history, culture, religion, family structure, psychological tendencies, and their reciprocal influences, we would remain at a considerable loss. The idea that the part is easier to understand than the whole is a misconception of our age, a symptom of a tendency toward atomization that has infected modern understanding.

The imperative need to understand the range of relevant disciplines is as true in attempting to understand the current situation in the United States as it was in relation to Nazi Germany. At this moment, current movements to the “right” are explained on the basis of economic chaos – the loss of jobs and homes and the ensuing anxiety they produce. There is no denying that the particular assault on the lives of so many during the current recession is some important part of the explanation for the current passivity and idiocy of our political reality. However, this occasion itself needs to be explained, and we are consequently forced back to prior historical occurrences that have led to massive public apathy: such circumstances as the wrenching decline of the labor movement, the rise of manipulative mass media, the increasing tendency toward fragmented labor, the autonomy of technology, the disintegration of the traditional family and the buying and selling of current political mythology by capitalist elites and their oxymoronically labeled “think tanks.”

It is also true that devoid of any coherent “left” movement, individuals who regard themselves as socialists, progressives, Marxists or other dissenters from the main currents of American life tend to speak from the purview of their own individual life experiences. We lack any coherent, multifaceted, institutionalized organizations in which individuals of different skills and sensibilities can come together to share views, debate the various issues of our time and publish works of value to the larger community. Lacking such an organized stream of reflection fed by many diverse and complementary orders of intelligence, it is no wonder that simple explanations have come to suffice.

The economic explanation of inaction and despair by an appeal to the immediate effects of the current economic crisis seems relevant, until one asks why it is still not enough to produce resistance. Certainly, some part of the answer must be that in a capitalist society with limited experience in organized opposition and even less capacity to remember the resistance that has occurred, we tend to be thrown back upon the circuits of capitalism itself, whereby individuals move in and out of compliance and resentment depending on their experience of the business cycle. Certainly no persistent opposition to capitalism can be founded on the basis of its own determinations. For this reason alone, economic factors cannot provide the motivational foundation of a living, critical perspective, and we must turn to larger currents of social existence to explain our own responses – or lack of them – to what we know to be an ongoing catastrophe.

Understanding ourselves is a complex project, and as we are made up of such aspects of our existence as our history, culture, psychology, economic activity and social life, we are obligated to learn of their nature and influence if we wish to be their agents rather than the mere recipients of their influence. It is certainly necessary and proper to condemn Bush, but it is far from sufficient. Why have we tolerated, accepted and even chosen this egregious monstrosity with so few manifestations of overt opposition? Relevant answers to this question throw light not only on the meaning of Bush’s presidency but also on the relation of the “left” to Obama and his failures, in which, once again, we are so deeply implicated.

How many politically thoughtful friends do you know who were deceived by the promises made by the president during his political campaign – by the empty rhetoric, by the financial support of banking and insurance interests? How many progressives succumbed to the thrill of an apparently progressive candidate ready-made – one they could support, but did not have to labor to know and accept at a level more trenchant than a promise of hope and change. And how many took the opportunity to permit Obama to stand in the realm of their fantasy of American history as the reconciliation of Black and White interests and the resolution of racist antagonisms, the promise of effortless transcendence and the consequent proof of American virtue, and, of course, by implication, of their own – our own. And yet, at this moment, Black impoverishment remains at least twice that of Whites and is not on a course of improvement, for race cannot be separated from the economy and from the long, sordid history of American social injustice and projected fantasies of evil, those parts of ourselves we cannot tolerate and prefer to locate in the lives of others. It is time to pursue these larger truths, for we are constituted out of them and cannot transcend their dehumanizing limits without this most serious struggle.

I hope it is clear that I do not possess the answers to the questions that lie behind my reflections. What I know is that these questions regarding compliance with corruption are difficult and will require the collective efforts of many of us acting in concert. The exercise of this effort will in turn require the capacity to endure in the face of such rot as Bush embodied.

One of Weber’s most trenchant essays ends this way:

It would be nice if matters turned out in such a way that Shakespeare’s Sonnet should hold true:

Our love was new, and then but in the spring,
When I was wont to greet it with my lays;
As Philomel in summer’s font doth sing,
And stops her pipe in growth of riper days.

But such is not the case … Politics is a strong and slow boring of hard boards. It takes both passion and perspective… Only he has the calling
for politics who is sure that he shall not crumble when the world from his point of view is too stupid or too base for what he wants to offer … . [2]

 

We have never known this “new spring,” and yet we shall assuredly meet with what will seem to us endless stupidity and inhumanity. In the embrace of a collective life, we may approach some sense of the ripeness we have not known politically. Our task is to persist in the “boring of hard boards” until they give way to a more hospitable home for our “passion and perspective.”

 

1. Sacvan Bercovitch;   The American Jeremiad;  The University of Wisconsin Press, Madison Wisconsin, 1978, p. 176.

2. H. H. Gerth and C. Wright Mills, editors, From Max Weber;  A Galaxy Book, New York, 1958, p. 128.

Creative Commons License
This work by Truthout is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.

Support Truthout’s work with a $10/month tax-deductible donation today!

Richard Lichtman is a philosopher who specializes in the relationship between the social and psychological dimensions of human life. His approach is broadly interdisciplinary: he has taught in departments of philosophy (University of California, Berkeley), humanities (San Francisco State University), sociology (University of California, Santa Cruz) and psychology (The Wright Institute, California School of Professional Psychology, etc.) and has been a faculty member of the Council on Educational Development (CED) program at the University of California, Los Angeles. His books also indicate the range of his interests: Essays in Critical Social Theory covers a broad range of topics in economic, social, and political theory, while The Production of Desire is a detailed analysis of the works of Marx and Freud.

    Posted in Truthout Articles | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on The Horror of Bush and the Problem for the Rest of Us