Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Fuck You BP!

i saw this ad on msnbc today and i was left dumbstruck when it was revealed who sponsored it:

REALLY? this is how bp is spending their money? on bullshit PR campaigns about how great the gulf coast is now, and how everything is wonderful and back to normal? FUCK YOU! these sons-of-bitches are responsible for one of the worst environmental disasters in recent memory and now they expect us to believe everything is hunky-dory and back to business as usual?

"come spend your money (and continue to burn oil while you do it)...and don't forget to thank bp for all they've done to make the world a better place for you and your children". when you fuck up the environment, destroying wildlife and people's livelihoods, don't come back to shit in people's mouths and call it a sundae.

all your fucking money won't buy you forgiveness, no matter how you wrap it up. you, along with all the other oil and gas companies have done enough harm to this planet and quite frankly, we have had enough of it. NO MORE! Fuck you BP, Fuck you very much!

the corporatocracy has the audacity to call those who try and stop the destruction of our natural world by blocking bulldozers or sitting in trees to prevent them from being cut down, "ecoterrorists". but when oil and gas companies are polluting our land, air and water, and causing the deaths of both people and wildlife, who are the real ecoterrorists here?

from democracy now headlines, thu, jan. 26, 2012:

Whistleblower: BP Sought to Alter Cleanup Data

A former employee is accusing the oil giant BP of firing him for refusing to alter data about the cleanup of the 2010 Gulf Coast oil spill. In a lawsuit filed in Louisiana, August Walter says he was subjected to "a malicious campaign" after voicing concerns that BP was defying the cleanup requirement mandated by government officials. Walter says a BP executive informed him of "people watching him" to ensure he would not interfere with BP’s plans. According to Walter, BP officials hid data from the U.S. Coast Guard to avoid having to clean up certain areas. Walter was fired from BP last month. He is seeking compensation under the Louisiana Environmental Whistleblower Statute.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Dr. Cornel West Speaks at Occupy Seattle 11-16-2011

cornel west gives his critical examination of free market fundamentalism, aggressive militarism and escalating authoritarianism in american society today, and how the occupy movements around the country and the world are offering hope against plutocratic control, through the great democratic tradition of civil disobedience, where "the condition of truth is to allow suffering to speak".

(thank you to OccupyTVSEA for uploading this wonderful video to youtube)

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Keystone XL Pipeline and Other Injustices of the Corporatocracy

the decision as to whether the keystone xl pipeline will be constructed was to be delayed until early 2013, until after the american election. but the republicans in their infinite shadiness and greed, and the democrats in their infinite spinelessness, have passed a bill linking a two month extension of the payroll tax cut to an expedited decision on the pipeline by late february 2012.

this pipeline would carry dirty bitumen from alberta to texas to be refined there. it would greatly expand tar sands production in northern alberta, meaning increasing destruction of an already devastated wild nature in canada's boreal forest. it would mean pumping more co2, methane, and other greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere, and more toxins into the athabasca river, poisoning those who live downstream. already the people of ft mackay and ft chipewyan have elevated levels of cancer and other illnesses because of tar sands operations.

the proponents of the pipeline, industry and the alberta and canadian governments, have two very untenable arguments in support of it. the first is claiming it will offer energy security. this is total backward thinking, because if half the money used for oil and gas exploration and extraction were used for advancing wind and solar technology for example, we could be well on our way to much safer and cleaner energy security within a few decades, if not just a few years even. and this is far more sustainable than a few decades worth, at most, of dirty, expensive bottom of the barrel, tar sands bitumen, that the new conservative premier of alberta, alison redford is so fond of. meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

the second argument used to justify the pipeline's construction is touting all the economic benefits it will bring. ah yes, the famous jobs ploy. so despite all the environmental damage that is already occurring because of the tar sands (air pollution, leaking tailings ponds, deforestation, killing of wildlife) which would increase and worsen with the new pipeline, not to mention the very real possibility of pipeline spills, this is all somehow acceptable to them because there's money and jobs involved?

funny how even though something is causing a lot of harm to people, wildlife and the environment, government and industry will always praise it so long as there is a vast amount of money to be made. but when you consider that practically all that money is funneled to the top, you realize pretty quickly that they're main concern is not for the welfare of the average laborer, or even his safety for that matter. hell, they're even trying to take away the people's right to collectively bargain. the only thing these corporate executives and their government puppets really give a damn about, is how the workers can fill their already overstuffed pockets with even more cash. this jobs argument then becomes nothing more than the deceptive blatherings of dishonest and greedy scoundrels.

this is all very typical of the canadian government's approach however. whether it's destroying the environment and first nation's livelihoods with the tar sands, or expanding an asbestos mine in quebec to export 200,000 tons of the carcinogenic chrysotile (95% of which is shipped to asia and other mostly poor countries), or clubbing baby seals to sell to the european union, which has recently banned seal products from canada, the canadian government fights tooth and nail to keep these destructive, harmful and downright barbaric practices up and running because all of them have proven to be profitable, and that's all that seems to matter to them. shameful and despicable!

as much as these folks like to praise any industry that is extremely lucrative, there is one area where the lauding is still there, but not quite so overt. that being, the business of crime. let me explain.

there is a new $569-million mega-jail being built in the edmonton region which will house over 2,000 inmates and will cover an area larger than 26 football fields (cfl size football fields i suppose). it's expected to employ over 800 people when it's completed. and with all the construction and other jobs that go along with a project of this magnitude, that's a lot of employment to be had. looks like these criminals who are making this project "necessary" are real job creators. let's applaud them for that.

(audience rises, cheers and applauds)

i guess crime does pay. look at how many people make a living off of it: jailers, judges, police, lawyers, ems workers, and all the other satellite jobs connected with those: office workers, secretaries and so on. would spokespeople from the government and the prison industrial complex like to go on the corporate controlled media and be so bold as to say that crime is a good thing and virtuous because of all the employment it produces? i seriously doubt that.

but why not? could it be because of the harm that we associate with crime? well what about the harm associated with the oil and gas industry? from toxic oil spills to flammable water, from cancer causing emissions to climate change, people are getting sick and dying from this noxious industry. but for some reason, these companies and their bribed government officials, who both stand to make huge profits from contaminating our environment, are always extolling its most blessed merits for the sake of jobs, jobs, jobs and all that yummy money it will bring in. you can just see the dollar signs sparkling in their eyes. as texas governor, and republican presidential nominee, rick perry might say..."gold is good!". yea, but at what cost?

i think the frances mcdormand character, margie, from near the end of the movie fargo, sums it up best when she rebukes one of the two men responsible for the kidnapping and murder of jerry lundegaard's wife, by saying "there's more to life than a little money, you know. don'tcha know that?" well quite frankly, i don't think they do know that. yes, jobs are important, so we can feed, clothe, house, transport and enjoy ourselves. but if our jobs are based upon the destruction of our natural world, and people and wildlife getting sick and dying, then we are one sociopathic lot. just as sociopathic as our friend from fargo, who axed his partner to death and shoved the body into a woodchipper for refusing to give him half the money for the tan sierra. literally, we are mentally ill if we believe that our jobs are more important than our environment and people's lives.

it would be utterly ridiculous to suggest that we don't try to reduce crime by addressing the conditions that often encourage such behavior, because of the large number of people who will financially benefit from crime continuing. but that seems to be precisely what we are doing. we spend billions of dollars on "fighting crime", but we do absurdly little to try and understand and eliminate its root causes, where poverty and the grossly unjust distribution of wealth, lack of education, drug and alcohol abuse, and violence in the home play no small roles.

punishing criminals is big business, and big business means big profits, and big profits mean bigwigs like to keep things the way they are. so sure, let's fight crime...but let's not delve too deeply into why people engage in criminal acts in the first place, we may just discover how to stop it, and that's bad for our current way of doing business.

if the business of this country is business, and nothing more than pandering to the corporate elites whose only purpose is maximizing their own bottom line, then genuine democratic principles, which have at their very core civil disobedient struggle, and noncompliance with illegitimate forces trying to command people's lives, will be annihilated by these mendacious oligarchs even as they profess to be upholding them in the interest of public safety and national security. they will then use all the available tools of physical and psychological control that the state has at its disposal, to forcibly silence any dissenting voices expressing fresh new ideas running counter to the prevailing doctrines of this inequitable system, and the powerless citizenry will be bludgeoned into submissive obedience.

who would not agree that our society would be much better off without everyone having to worry about, and collectively spend billions on, protecting our property or ourselves from the victims of a society that allows all the wealth to accumulate for those near the top, while the rest feed upon the scrapheap? all those who formerly found employment taking advantage of this kind of system will just have to put up with a crime free world and find other ways to make a living. perhaps we can spend more time growing our own healthy food and being satisfied with having less in this new harmonious world where crime has been eradicated.

and our approach to crime is the same as our approach to health care. here again, billions are spent on fighting sickness and disease, but yet we remain incredibly inept and largely ignorant about how to cure these things. how little we know of probably one of the most important factors in reducing health problems...proper nutrition. we eat shit and then wonder why we feel like shit.

imagine if we put all our efforts into real prevention of crime and into real prevention of illness, by educating ourselves and trying to acquire the wisdom and compassion to understand the socioeconomic issues and lifestyle choices contributing to them; by targeting the causes and not the effects. but then that would mean less people to imprison, so less people employed in the field of punishment; it would mean less people getting sick, so less people employed in the pharmaceutical industry; it would mean a disruption and complete overhaul of our present unjust and immoral private property based system which values consumerism, profit and distractive entertainment over sharing, charity and critical examination, so less control for the plutocratic dictators who are currently in command.

if an individual is kept in the dark and unaware of the machinations driving the corporatocracy toward more profit and more power, he will abide, merrily dazed, in mute servility to them, even as they strip the last can of who hash from his scrawny fingers in the name of god and country, and he will patriotically rise and sing along as they do it. but when one is bombarded by a media, culture, and society that is nothing more than an advertisement for commerce, and a salute to empire and might based largely on narrow-minded bigotry and unwarranted fear, what do you expect?

as ridiculous as it would be to suggest that we should not get to the root causes of crime and sickness and attempt to eliminate them all together, because of jobs and economic advantage, it is just as ludicrous to propose that we don't try to prevent the ecological devastation being wreaked by the oil and gas industry, and all the health problems they cause, because of the employment these companies provide.

everyone would be far better off living in a world where the air is cleaner, and the water is uncontaminated, and the land is allowed to remain in its pristine natural state, flourishing with all the plants and animals that call it home. and surely there will be jobs available as we use our brains to come up with greener alternatives in our efforts to live more sustainably with our natural world.

reducing crime, pollution, and harnessing cleaner energy sources, will not be easy. but rarely, nothing worthwhile ever is. we're not demanding a perfect world, just a better one. one where we don't have to rely upon the suffering of another in order to make a buck.

sooner or later we are all going to have to come to the realization that our business as usual attitudes are causing far too much misery and injustice on our planet to allow us to continue on such a misguided and perilous course. crime and pollution are not beneficial things. despite all the money that can be made by allowing them to persist, we are going to need to find ways to reduce them with the eventual goal of trying to eliminate them. we really don't have a choice here, unless of course we like living in fear that someone will steal or damage our stuff, or try to hurt or kill us, or we enjoy breathing poisoned air and consuming contaminated food and water. we will make the world a kinder, cleaner and more ethical place for all, but we are running out of time. so we better, in the words of jean luc picard, "make it so".

(cue closing credits theme for star trek the next generation)

Friday, November 11, 2011

We Are Exploited, We Exploit

the exploiter doesn't care about the interests and feelings of those who he takes advantage of. to him, they are unworthy of his consideration. he is in a position of power. how he has achieved this power is immaterial. what is important is that he is unwilling to relinquish it, and has the means and the money to maintain it.

to him, those who he uses are his inferiors, and are more often than not vilified and ridiculed by him. which then of course makes their troubles easier to ignore, and perhaps in his eyes, even somehow...deserved.

even if the oppressed have adequate food, shelter and entertainment to keep them preoccupied, they must still live in the shadow of their master who has control over their well-being. one false move, and punishment will be swift and doled out at his discretion.

it may perhaps be easier and simpler to live our lives following orders and doing what we're told, all the while accepting our situation as normal and immutable. responsibility then falls upon those who give the commands, our hands being clean should any problems arise. "i was just doing my job", is the familiar refrain of the obedient lackey when the finger of blame is pointed in his direction.

but we have a deep seated revulsion to having our freedom stripped away and being forced to subjugate ourselves to another, in a way that goes far beyond our human roots, extending well back into our evolutionary past.

and so sooner or later we rise up, either alone or in groups, against our oppressor, be it an unjust man made system or an individual abuser. eventually our boiling point is reached and we demand an end to their tyranny. we are willing to take whatever measures are necessary and accept whatever consequences may come our way, in order to extricate ourselves from their cruel unrelenting domination.

but how many of the abused are also the abuser? how many of the exploited are also the exploiters? we complain bitterly when we are treated unfairly and without respect, but we needn't look any further than our own mirrors to see how we are responsible for causing similar distress to others. where if it were perpetrated against us, we would most assuredly denounce it as unacceptable and an affront to our liberty.

when we discover that our actions have been detrimental to someone else, we usually take the appropriate steps to change our behavior and cease, or at least lessen, the harm we are causing. failing to do so would place us squarely into the realm of the unempathetic, or the sociopathic. what would make us think that we deserve to have our grievances addressed if we cannot, or will not, consider the sorrows of another?

often the excuse we use for why we continue to exploit another is the same as the one used against us. "they are not worthy; their interests must be subordinated to mine because i am more important". why are our feelings more important than theirs? why should our suffering be perceived as somehow more significant?

if we all have the capacity to suffer, both physically and emotionally, and we view it as something misery-inducing and repugnant when it happens to us, how can we in good conscience continue a lifestyle where our actions inflict a similar sort of torment upon another?

here we are, demanding our rights with one fist, while pounding into submission the rights of someone else with the other. we must stop thinking in a hierarchical, vertical fashion where one's position on the ladder is of greater importance than another, and start thinking in horizontal terms of all being united in our ability to feel joy and grief, in our capacity to experience pleasure and pain, and in our lives where our individualities may grow and develop to their fullest potential through careful attention and thoughtful learning, or be allowed to wither and die through reckless ignorance and unmindful neglect.

when we say we demand equality, what do we mean? we mean that as living, feeling beings capable of experiencing a good life or a bad life (that is to say, a life where things can fair well for us, or a life where things can fair poorly for us), to deny a good life for someone else so that we may have one, is grossly unjust. and not only unjust, but flagrantly immoral as well.

the exploiter takes away a good life from the one he exploits. he has chosen to suppress any feelings of empathy regarding the well-being of the one he enslaves, in order to maintain his oppressor status and all the advantages that go along with it. we would most certainly not want to find ourselves on the receiving end of his despotic whims. and we would be just as reprehensible as any tyrant we are struggling to defeat, should we find ourselves holding on to our current lifestyles and luxuries knowing that doing so, denies a good life for another.

so who are we responsible for enslaving? whose rights to exist free of our oppression do we violate? the cultural evolution of humanity is at a point now where we believe, at least in theory if not in practice, that to treat another human being as a slave is to commit a grievous injustice upon him. for some reason however, we still choose to accept the idea that being held in economic servitude as "wage slaves" is somehow permissible because it bolsters our system of production, distribution and consumption.

but there are yet others who we rarely even think about when it comes to our conduct toward them, namely those nonhuman animals who share the planet with us. for as we feast upon the scorched flesh of our murdered animal kin, to satisfy not our need for necessary nourishment, but rather our own petty, gluttonous pleasures of the palate; or as we engage in tortuous experiments upon their sentient bodies, without consent or any restitution for the untold agonies we impose to serve our purposes; or as we confine them for our amusement, as they idly lie or pace back and forth imprisoned in zoos before our gawping eyes; or as we chase and harass them in barbaric exhibitions of shameful entertainment, we exploit them for no other reason than that we falsely believe our interests are of a superior kind to theirs.

we are blindly following without critical examination that most contemptible of tenets which states, "might makes right". a world where people choose to ignore and bury their empathy for the suffering of another, and only obey their selfish desires for personal acquisition and egoistic fulfillment, pitting each against all in a ruthless competition to see who can consume and usurp the most, is a world without peace, a world without caring, and indeed a world...without love.

if we want to stop the choking hands of oppression asphyxiating our freedom and aspire to create a more just and benevolent world, we do so not by emulating our pitiless persecutor, but by opening our hearts and minds to more fully recognize the suffering of another, and imagine what it is like to be in their situation. it is through sympathy, compassionate wisdom, and long experience, that we gain a sense of fairness and justice. and it is through loving kindness and empathetic understanding that our notions of liberty and equality will mature and bloom.