10 May 2010

Rabbi Arthur Waskow : Whores in Washington; Blowout in the Gulf

"Whore of Babylon." Pen and watercolour over pencil. By William Blake (1809) / British Museum.

Blow jobs in DC;
Blowout in the Gulf

By Rabbi Arthur Waskow / The Rag Blog / May 10, 2010

You think that subject line above is just a trick to catch your attention? No, I mean it. Big Oil's provision of whores in Washington to give blow jobs to U.S. officials helped produce the oil well blowout in the Gulf.

The Gulf oil blowout is only on the surface a technological failure. Much deeper and more to the point, it is a political failure.

Or if you represent Big Oil, it was a political triumph -- until the blowout.

(What happened in the Gulf was not a "spill." A "spill" happens when a finite amount of oil is spilled from a ship. The blowout is more like a geyser, a gusher, a volcano. The oil comes from the enormous undersea reservoir of oil. The oil well pokes a hole into the earth's covering of that oil reservoir -- and unless there is a way to cap the blowout, the oil pours and pours and pours.)

In many of the world's off-shore oil wells, there is a remote-controlled "acoustic switch," a shut-off device that is the last resort when the technology malfunctions and a blowout nears. Some countries mandate the acoustic device, and many companies insert them even when they are not required. But the U.S. does not mandate them, and BP did not insert one.

When I say "the U.S.," in this case I mean a division of the Interior Department called the Minerals Management Service. What do we know about it?

This: On September 10, 2008, Charlie Savage of The New York Times reported that,
In three reports delivered to Congress on Wednesday, the department’s inspector general, Earl E. Devaney, found wrongdoing by a dozen current and former employees of the Minerals Management Service, which collects about $10 billion in royalties annually and is one of the government’s largest sources of revenue other than taxes.

'A culture of ethical failure' pervades the agency, Mr. Devaney wrote in a cover memo. ...

Two other reports focus on ‘a culture of substance abuse and promiscuity’ in the service’s royalty-in-kind program. That part of the agency collects about $4 billion a year in oil and gas rather than cash royalties...

The investigation also concluded that several of the [Minerals Management Service] officials 'frequently consumed alcohol at industry functions, had used cocaine and marijuana, and had sexual relationships with oil and gas company representatives.'
In blunter words, Big Oil provided whores to MMS officials who were supposed to be regulating Big Oil.

So MMS prostituted itself in return. And as a result, 11 oil rig workers were killed and the Gulf Coast of the United States faces an ecological and economic catastrophe.

Now that's whoring on a grand scale, far beyond anything the Bible condemns. (Except maybe when it talks about the Whore of Babylon, an empire not so different from the American Empire. Now it's not Emperor Nebuchadnezzar but "private" corporations, recently declared by the Supreme Court to be equal to human beings in their right to free speech by way of making unlimited election campaign contributions, who are the culprits, with the legal "government" turned into johns, tricks, for the Corporate whores. Or maybe it's really the government that has made itself the Whore of Babylon, selling itself to Big Oil? )

The acoustic switch costs half a million dollars, according to the Wall Street Journal. It costs less than that to buy enough whores to keep the MMS happy. Here's the political balance book: Invest a hundred thousand bucks or so to buy whores for the agencies that oversee you, make billions in profit from the absence of oversight, use the billions to invest in election campaigns if some clueless sheriff starts complaining about your whorehouse. A sweet deal, all around.

I forgot to add: Even in the last few weeks, since the Gulf oil blow-out, the MMS has been exempting new oil well applicants from doing environmental impact statements.

Even the Gulf disaster is small potatoes compared to the global disaster Big Oil is cooking up for us, colluding with Big Coal to see how much they need offer to buy the government.

As for a Climate Healing Act from Congress: Senator Graham is whining that the oil blowout is ruining the chances to pass a bill. Why? Because now the Big Payoff to Big Oil, permission to do off-shore drilling, is in danger. Those permits were to pay for Big Oil's tolerating a Climate Act full of other sweet goodies for itself. And without the permits, Big Oil will go home sulking, not ready to pay the house of whores called the Senate enough to buy their votes any more.

There is only one answer to this disgusting, lethal -- literally lethal -- mess. That is public power, enough citizens angry about the poisoning of our planet to blow Big Oil and Big Coal right out of the water.

A democratic blowout. Small "d."

A movement now as powerful as the civil rights movement was 45 years ago, when it forced Lyndon Johnson to bring Congress the Voting Rights Act.

That movement got laws passed, but it didn't start there. It started with nonviolent direct action, civil disobedience. Sit-ins. Marches. Freedom Rides. Freedom Schools. Mass mobilizations.

Who is ready now?

Let me know.

Shalom, Arthur

[Rabbi Arthur Waskow, director, The Shalom Center; co-author, The Tent of Abraham; author of Godwrestling: Round 2, Down-to-Earth Judaism, Torah of the Earth, and a dozen other books on Jewish thought and practice, as well as books on U.S. public policy. The Shalom Center voices a new prophetic agenda in Jewish, multireligious, and American life. To receive the weekly on-line Shalom Report, click here.]

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