Monday, June 28, 2010

In reality a majority are disengaged Americans

We criticize BP’s Hayward for attending a yacht race and Obama for playing golf, while the tragedy of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill continues unabated. We mock President Obama for not getting mad at BP. All of this as if getting mad or showing some emotion will make a difference, or something will be accomplished if only Hayward and Obama spent their days in the Gulf of Mexico. How does being “at least pretending to be more concerned” effective?

I suppose his critics will say that he should not have attended the G8 summit in Toronto, or perhaps they will ridicule his frivolous display with other G8 leaders. Will they say it reveals that Obama really has no concern for the plight of those affected by the oil spill?

Then you have the cries of those who complain that the President should take control, be hands-on, in directing the clean-up efforts in the Gulf, and directly supervise BP. What happen to the cries of government interference in private enterprise? Or the opining of republicans who say, “Let the free market do what it does best, which is to solve problems.” Oh, really!

C’mon, just who is kidding who here!

The accusation that, from the first day of the spill, he personally should have been in communication with BP’s CEO, or that the President put too much trust in BP to tell him just how much oil was leaking, is evidence of a lack of perceptiveness on the part of his accusers. It’s important for a manager, administrator, or the President of the United States to delegate the responsibility for planning, organizing, staffing, and controlling down the chain of command. The President does have responsibility for oversight and putting controls in place in order to assert progress toward objectives The Gulf Oil Spill is not the only situation that lands on his desk. He took the opinion of BP, at the time, because they were the ones responsible and had the tools and expertise to address the tragedy immediately, and the only ones with the tools capable of measuring the amount of oil being gushed into the Gulf.

Such ignorance on the part of Obama’s dissenters is mind-boggling.

The put-down of President Obama that his Tuesday evening speech on the oil spill did not address long-term planning is false. He did. He named Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, a former Mississippi governor, to head a long-term restoration program. In his speech he expressed the need to expedite an energy bill, which is now making its way threw the Senate and is decades overdue. The President said, “For decades, we have known the days of cheap and easily accessible oil were numbered. For decades, we’ve talked and talked about the need to end America’s century-long addiction to fossil fuels. And for decades, we have failed to act with the sense of urgency that this challenge requires. Time and again, the path forward has been blocked -- not only by oil industry lobbyists, but also by a lack of political courage and candor.”

The long-term solution to this crisis lays with how every American conduct their lives. We must conserve and demand a change in direction by government and corporations. Americans must make sacrifices to solve our addiction to oil. That is, and perhaps even more so, our responsibility as much as it is corporate or government.

Oh, and then we have Joe Barton, a republican from Texas, who called the agreement reached between the Obama administration and BP to set aside a $20 billion escrow fund to compensate victims of the oil spill a government shakedown. Representative Barton said to BP’s Hayward that he was, "ashamed that a private company would be subjected to what I would characterize as a shakedown, in this case a $20 billion shakedown." And, not surprisingly, Barton’s remarks have the support of his party.

In regard to criticism of Obama’s response versus Bush’s Katrina is equally ridiculous. My criticism of Bush’s Katrina, and that of many others, was not based on the time it took him to visit New Orleans, but rather the blatant disregard by government and FEMA of the plight of indigent Americans, which in New Orleans so happened to be significantly African Americans.

It is strictly partisan opposition to President Obama’s efforts in the Gulf. It calls into question the sincerity, veracity, and credibility of their mockery, especially in an election year where republicans hope to overturn the majority.

All of this, and yet in the midst of two wars – Afghanistan qualifying as the longest war in United States history— Americans continue to conduct their lives seemingly oblivious to the catastrophe to which they have exposed American men and women of our armed forces.

They will wear ribbons on lapels, display ribbons on their cars, and organize community groups branded with the “support our troops” slogan while disparagingly putting-down anyone who expresses the hopelessness of these wars and the desire to bring troops home. As if sending a soldier candy, toothpaste or razorblades are “supporting our troops.” As if trying to save their lives and bring them home is not supporting them, but sending more to be killed somehow is showing support for them.

Life goes on. Regardless of the tragedy in the Gulf and our two wars, Americans go about their business attending sports games, playing golf, gambling at their favorite casino, beaching, and participating in all forms of entertainment. Americans park themselves on the couch and become enthralled in Oprah, Dr. Phil, Dr. Oz, a reality show, award show, or a soap opera. I wonder how many Americans actually listen to a President Obama speech, but rather turn to “The Biggest Loser” instead, depending on Fox News, Limbaugh, Hannity or Beck, or some other soft news station to inform them. Their interest in this frivolity supersedes all else.

We will go about celebrating the Red, White, and Blue on the Fourth without any thought or expression of concern over the Gulf Oil Spill, or that Americans are fighting wars in Iraq or Afghanistan.

It seems a disproportionate number of Americans pursue self-gratification, and become engrossed in self–aggrandizement. They ignorantly look for immediacy, no matter the complexity of any situation. To the extent they are able to purchase that gas-guzzler, large home, or purchase that toy du jour, or freedom to make it party-time is how they measure their success in life, the extent of their liberty, and measure their happiness. They evaluate others based on their stardom. To them the entertainment and enlightenment of a Beck or Limbaugh is worthy enough to qualify being called an informed American.

Those Americans really don’t have a heartfelt concern for the ecology or the folks of the Gulf, or the Americans fighting our wars, unless it’s a son or daughter they really don’t give a hoot. To the extent there is a discussion and concern seems to be more involved over the dog-and-pony show of politics. They are in essence disengaged.