JACQUELINE MARCUS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
The Weiner controversy consumed the media right when Newsweek cover story, "Weather Panic," hit the magazine racks. This alarming report describes the crisis we're all facing: Extreme climate change conditions at "biblical proportions". As this article screams for our attention - reminding us of the extreme droughts, extinction of thousands of species, rising oceans and hot temperatures, horrific floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes and worse - what's getting all the media focus instead? Weiner's underpants.
I think about the campaign promises candidate Barack Obama made to his supporters and how he miserably failed to address the global warming crisis. How much money does it take to force President Obama to do the right thing regarding climate change policies? If we're talking about influence, enthusiastic Democratic voters outbid the oil industry by millions of dollars via online contributions. You would think that Obama would do what we asked him to do - what we paid him to do - wouldn't you?
During the 2008 Presidential campaign, the Washington Post reported that "Barack Obama raised half a billion dollars online in his 21-month campaign for the White House, dramatically ushering in a new digital era in presidential fundraising."
In an exclusive interview with The Washington Post, members of the vaunted Triple O, Obama's online operation, broke down the numbers: 3 million donors made a total of 6.5 million donations online adding up to more than $500 million. Of those 6.5 million donations, 6 million were in increments of $100 or less. The average online donation was $80, and the average Obama donor gave more than once."
And yet, Obama not only failed to come through on his campaign promises, he appallingly did the very opposite of what he promised to do. For starters, you'd think that the BP Gulf oil spill and Japan's ongoing nuclear meltdowns would have a dramatic impact on Obama's conscience. Quite the contrary, he lifted the Gulf and Atlantic offshore drilling moratoriums and gave speeches about the wonders of nuclear power during the worst nuclear meltdown crisis in history. It is particularly shocking to Obama's voters who contributed to his campaign. Congressional members also turned their backs on their supporters as well, which explains the low turn out at the 2010 election:
In Newsweek's June 6th cover story, "Weather Panic," Sharon Begley writes: "The Bush administration was a disaster, but the Obama administration has accomplished next to nothing either, in part because a significant part of the Democratic Party is inclined to balk on this issue as well," says economist Jeffrey Sachs, head of the Earth Institute at Columbia University.
In June 2008, candidate Obama gave a speech in Florida and around the country, promising that he'd keep in place the offshore drilling moratorium on the Atlantic and Alaskan coasts:
"That's how we can protect our coastline and still make the investments that will reduce our dependence on foreign oil and bring down gas prices for good...Such drilling would have long-term consequences for our coastlines, but no short-term benefits...Now believe me, if I thought there was any evidence at all that drilling could save people money who are struggling to fill up their gas tanks by this summer, or this year, or even the next few years, I would consider it. But it won't."
And of course, we all remember his speeches on shifting to green renewable energy, where he recognized the 'race with time,' and the 'urgency of now,' in relation to the climate-change crisis. This stance is what earned him massive contributions for his campaign from the majority of voters who desperately wanted a President who would reverse George W. Bush's global warming policies. President Obama knows exactly why he was elected: We voted "NO" to polluting energies and a double "NO" to the oil wars in the Middle East.
When it was clear that Obama was going to be elected, the oil executives stepped in and paid $880,000 dollars to Obama - and, voila! That's all it took. He broke his word regarding the hard fought moratorium that protected the Atlantic coastlines. The $880,000 dollars from Big Oil is chunk change to an industry that earns $136 billion in pure profits for the year. The oil execs must have laughed at how easily and cheaply Obama could be bought.
But shouldn't our investment of half a billion dollars, far exceeding Big Oil's $880,000, be the deciding factor if money and not morals determines the outcome in U.S. politics?
The industry had two major goals for 2009: 1) Kill meaningful climate-change legislation and 2) lift the moratorium for offshore drilling and leases.
Obama and congressional members came through for Big Oil with flying colors.
On March 31st, 2010, in George W. Bush fashion, Obama gave a speech at Andrews Air Force Base praising offshore oil drilling. The Obama team knew he couldn't face his Democratic base without protest, so like Bush, they brought him to a military base where he announced that "oil rigs today generally don't cause spills...they're technologically advanced... Even during Katrina, the spills didn't come from the oil rigs, they came from the refineries onshore..."
That is a big fat ugly lie, as Antonia Juhasz, author of Black Tide, observed. "Katrina destroyed 167 offshore platforms and more than 450 pipelines that erupted and released at least 7 million gallons of oil and other pollutants into the water," wrote Juhasz.
Like a Greek tragedy of the gods cursing a traitorous king's lies and broken promises to his people, twenty days later the Deepwater Horizon exploded.
There's a running joke that candidate Obama could beat President Obama in the 2012 election. The sad fact is that no one would break as many campaign promises on a range of important decisions, from war to energy policies, that urgently needed to be changed, unless that person lacked character and held no convictions.
Obama believes that the word "compromise" is the magic wand for not making the right moral and ethical decisions. But even so, there were no significant compromises made - the oil companies got everything they wanted and then some.
The test of character came during the BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill, the worst catastrophic oil spill in history. Following this disaster, Obama allowed BP executives to call the shots, after it was clearly determined that this was no accident. BP, Mineral Management Service, Halliburton, and other oil company associates had grossly ignored safety regulations and procedures. BP, incidentally, contributed $75,000 dollars to the Obama campaign - again, loose change for Big Oil and nowhere near the half billion from our contributions to Obama.
When a disaster of this proportion threatens life at all levels, that's when you need a leader with strong convictions. President Obama was not only missing in action from the get-go, he apparently agreed with BP executives to keep the Macondo well operative for future use. "The hole has been sealed," wrote Antonia Juhasz, "but no one has told BP, nor any other company for that matter, that it is prohibited from drilling there. In fact, BP has officially left open the possibility of going back into the reservoir."
Perhaps that explains why Obama disregarded former President Bill Clinton's proposal that the leak could be sealed from the start by sending the Navy Seal experts down to blow up the well with the right proportion of explosives. Clinton dismissed the ridiculous rumor of nuking it. If the Navy Seal had buried it, BP's Macondo well would be killed for good. The Gulf of Mexico might have been saved from three months of millions of barrels of gushing oil and toxic dispersants. It's possible that the Gulf's sea-life, marshes, beaches, tourism and fishing industry would be alive and well today had President Obama made that decision. But he didn't.
If that's true, instead of saving the Gulf, Obama saved BP's Macondo well for future drilling.
That's quite a bargain for a $75,000 dollar contribution. As for the $20 billion set aside for Gulf victims, BP is keeping a tight grip on it. One year later, only $3 billion has been handed out.
As reported in Newsweek, "Worldwide, the litany of weather's extremes has reached biblical proportions. The 2010 heat wave in Russia killed an estimated 15,000 people. Floods in Australia and Pakistan killed 2,000 and left large swaths of each country under water. A months-long drought in China has devastated millions of acres of farmland. And the temperature keeps rising: 2010 was the hottest year on earth since weather records began..."
But of course none of that is important - not at least compared to Weiner's underpants, which deserves more media attention than the fact that "12,000 years of stable climate is gone-forever."
Sources: Washington Post, Antonia Juhasz's BLACK TIDE: The Devastating Impact of the Gulf Oil Spill; Newsweek; "Are You Ready For More Disasters"; Sharon Begley, 06/2011