- By the time you read this I may be gone, vanished from
my home on Florida's Gulf of Mexico. For the past two weeks I've been barricaded,
along with about 400 other holdouts, on the small barrier island where
I live. We are cut off from the mainland and the FEMA and Homeland Security
forces are surrounding us by land and sea. They're attempting to forcibly
relocate us to a once-abandoned army base in Georgia. About three-quarters
of the town passively already agreed to go, but some of us refused. When
Homeland Security officials announced that those of us who choose to stay
behind would have their property seized and would all be arrested and taken
to a federal prison facility, we felt we had no choice but to take up arms
to defend our homes and families. It's been a tense standoff ever since.
- Meanwhile the air surrounding our town is becoming fouled
with a toxic and lethal potpourri of chemicals, and the ocean waters that
graced our area, once crystal clear and blue, have become still and dark
with glistening touches of contamination, and when it rains, the drops
are large and oily and leave a dangerous slick everywhere. The shores of
our long beach are littered with dead and decaying dolphins, stingrays,
sharks, and smaller fish. Bird carcasses lie everywhere, like oily lumps
of rag. The dry shells of hundreds of ancient sea turtles, some over a
hundred years old, sit on the sand and dunes like misplaced and putrefying
stones. No tourist has set foot in the area for nearly a month, not that
anyone wants to visit any longer. The small aircraft that once flew up
and down the shoreline hauling banners promoting Gieco insurance, Goodyear
tires, and happy hour beer prices now only circle overhead dragging banners
boldly demanding "Surrender Now." Every time I see one I think
of the Wizard of Oz, but there's no yellow brick road here.
- Three days ago, the governor activated National Guard
troops to assist federal forces, and yesterday tanks started rumbling over
pontoon bridges into the town. I don't think we can hold out much longer;
there's no way we can ward off the firepower assembled against us. FEMA
has officially declared that we are "enemy combatants" and "terrorists"
illegally resisting the orders of the U.S. Congress and federal government.
Helicopters circle our town day and night, shining powerful spotlights
into windows and backyards after dark. Media people and reporters have
been banned from trying to enter our town, and after a few journalists
began calling stay-behind townspeople for information, all the phone and
cable lines were cut. Satellite signals were jammed the same day. Yesterday
a band of thugs, cranked up on methamphetamine, rolled into town on motorcycles
thinking the area was ripe for looting, but they quickly found otherwise.
By the time the smoke cleared, all 18 of the marauders lay dead on the
main boulevard. Word from the mainland is that FEMA has contracted with
Blackwater to send in a crack team of former Iraq and Afghan mercenaries
to disarm us and charge us with murder. At the same time, construction
trailers bearing the name of Halliburton are lining up just beyond the
bridges. Rumors are everywhere that the beach towns will be redeveloped,
completely condoized by a firm controlled by former vice president Dick
Cheney, George Bush the Elder, and Bill Clinton.
- Everything written above, of course, is complete fiction.
Complete fiction. At least it is for me and everyone else who lives in
and around my town. To the many deluded friends and acquaintances, who
live far from here, and who have written to me or called over the past
few weeks, the above scenario is believed to be true. Rumors of federally-mandated
evacuations and forced takeovers are everywhere throughout the country.
I tell my friends that the reports they are reacting to are out-of-control,
outlandish rumors, and they hesitate and ask, "Are you alone? Can
you talk freely? We hear you're high on the list for apprehension and removal."
- All of this gives me ample reason to think about the
BP disaster and what it really means for America and its future. Nothing
that I think is good at all. Nothing that crosses my mind gives me any
reason to be encouraged or to feel positive about where anything is going.
I think about how Madison Avenue's and the fashion world's fascination
with putting death-heads and skulls on trendy clothws, and Hollywood's
obsession with apocalyptic landscapes like those seen in the films "The
Road" and "The Book of Eli," are perhaps no coincidences;
that maybe these subtle twists of fate are cosmic precursors of what is
just around the corner. Get ready, America, here's what it's going to look
like, study it closely, stockpile food and water and ammunition, this ain't
no disco, this ain't no fooling around...
- The BP spill or leak, or whatever you want to call it,
is a true disaster on a number of levels, many not easily seen or realized
by most Americans. Of course, BP is to blame. Does that surprise anyone?
That a corporation that has served as the United Fruit of the Middle East
for decades now would put profit way above safety and environmental concern
should surprise nobody. That a company that served as a corporate pimp
for assassinations in Iraq and elsewhere would get itself into such a foul
fix is not the least surprising. That a company that continues to supply
the Pentagon, two American wars and nearly every American military base
in the world with fuel and oil would not really be held to task should
surprise nobody. That a company that has secretly served as a major supplier
of information and corporate intelligence to the CIA and Pentagon for decades
now should not receive a slap on the wrist should surprise nobody. That
BP has not yet actually set aside any money whatsoever for reparations
and damages, or anything else, should surprise nobody. But BP's past and
current actions mean little to the true disaster that has taken shape in
the Gulf. There are other things to be seriously considered.
- First and foremost is that the disaster represents a
dismal failure of leadership in America. One can't help but see the paralysis,
fear and frustration on the faces of Obama's expert advisors and elite
czars. Carol Browner has become a ghost of her former self, already haunted
by her looming legacy as the environmentalist who failed to prevent a national
disaster. Ken Salazar can't seem to lose his silly trademark cowboy hat,
but nobody mistakes him for not being the Cadillac cowhand he really is.
Janet Napolitano can't seem to get much of anything right, but have no
fear America, she's working on it, and hey, everybody makes mistakes now
and then, don't they. Vice President Joe Biden couldn't even get his feigned
passions in the right order for his one visit and pre-packaged speech to
the Gulf, before he flew off for a weekend round of golf, and then on to
that other disaster, Iraq. Press aides privately said the fouled air near
the spill was bad for the VP's hair implants. Then there is the president
himself who can't seem to hit his right stride with anything he does or
says about the BP disaster. His Oval Office talk to the country was forgettable
before it was even over, leaving many listeners secretly wishing he had
used parts of Jimmy Carter's infamous 'Malaise' talk. Oddly, the once-King
of Hope and Change offers neither in a time of crisis. His leadership skills
seem to have evaporated at a most inopportune time. Incredibly, Obama does
not seem to see or grasp that government incompetence, red tape, and needless
bureaucracy and regulations are severely hampering any attempts to slow
the leak or to clean up the terrible harm it is spewing. This was once
America, the country that could rise to any occasion, face any adversity,
fight off any enemy; the country that was known for innovation, technological
wonders and advancements, but now that nation can't gather the wherewithal
to plug a major leak. Go figure.
- People who live around the Gulf are in a mixed sate of
mind so far, but the hallmarks of that state can be safely listed as confused,
angry, disgusted, mistrustful, hateful, and afraid. Please notice that
I didn't list hopeful or optimistic. Nobody I know feels those ways. If
anything, the BP disaster has pushed those undecided about the ineptitude
of government over to the side of those who think the two words are synonymous.
- In terms of the big picture, the BP disaster marks the
beginning of the real decline of America as an empire and a world power.
Make no mistake that people in many parts of the world today openly mock
our nation for its near-complete inability to truly rally as a people and
to show a true spirit of nationalism in the face of adversity. It's summer,
and countless numbers of high school and college students are jobless,
not to mention millions of jobless workers, yet nobody considers hiring
any of these people for disaster clean up. We are told that the BP disaster
is a national problem and a national emergency, if not an international
one, yet there is no real sense of urgency anywhere, except perhaps for
the pressing problem of immigration in Arizona. It's too bad fish and water
mammals and sea birds don't vote. If they did, this disaster would have
been behind us weeks ago.