Monday, December 22, 2014

CROUCH: The mad men who would drown us all

By STANLEY CROUCH, King Features Syndicated Columnist | 5/28/2014

American heroes — inventors and industrialists — are both creators and destroyers, sometimes at the same time.

The bad news is not only that the Alaskan ice caps are melting; it is our advances in oil drilling — fracking, they call it. Advances need scrutiny, but the irresponsible obsession with profits is not countered with safety measures; they do not care, do not prevent the railroad cars transporting crude oil from blowing up and burning down small towns and sizable parts of places like Los Angeles.

American heroes — inventors and industrialists — are both creators and destroyers, sometimes at the same time.

The bad news is not only that the Alaskan ice caps are melting; it is our advances in oil drilling — fracking, they call it. Advances need scrutiny, but the irresponsible obsession with profits is not countered with safety measures; they do not care, do not prevent the railroad cars transporting crude oil from blowing up and burning down small towns and sizable parts of places like Los Angeles.

This is American industry at its worst, on the inside lane clocking disaster after disaster. Crude oil burning is as American a smell as the popcorn rising from cardboard boxes in darkened movie theaters. We have had many warnings, from when Exxon wrecked Alaska to the near-destruction of the Gulf by BP.

When President Obama took office, he declassified satellite pictures kept secret by President George W. Bush that graphically showed the retreat of the summer Arctic sea ice.

Scientists shout that the world’s shoreline cities will be new Atlantises by the next century as the ice melts and the tides rise.

Instead of cheap tears and impotent anger, we might wake up from our cotton-candy decadence and trivial science-fiction pursuits.

Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Donald Trump and Ann Coulter are unbothered as they mouth talking points provided by the fossil-fuel industrialists who will make all they can, no matter what it costs the land and the people.

Those cheerleaders for the so-called American Spring — who banged their drums on behalf of nut-ball redneck rancher Cliven Bundy and his supporters armed with rifles and sidearms who pointed them at federal officials and raved about taking “their” country back — are at best struck dumb when rapacious predators hunt actual, honest Americans. Theirs is deluded anger defined by shabbily disguised bigotry.

That is why residents of North Carolina brought their own percussion, beating on pots and pans to register their anger over the disgusting, toxic coal-ash sludge that Duke Energy let leak unto the Dan River — 70 miles of it mixed in the drinking water.

Gov. Pat McCrory, who worked for Duke for 28 years, let it off with a slap-of-the-wrist penalty and a proposed “solution” that would take the company off the hook for removing its 33 unlined dumps, at 14 sites across the state, that are contaminating the groundwater.

Duke and its former employee, the governor, apparently did the math: It’s too expensive to clean up the ash and store it safely. Spoiling the drinking water is the better investment for their bottom line.

To the talking heads carrying water for these unscrupulous profit-seekers, the principle is to never submit to government regulation. Madness is what such dingbat thinking should be correctly called.

The enablers who cheered Ted Cruz’s government shutdown in exchange for the sofa change of the far-right industrialists in charge can’t even stand up for their fellow citizens’ right to drink water that’s not poisoned.

Scientists this month found the intact, 12,000-year-old skeleton, teeth and all, of one of the truly first Americans — a teenage girl who fell into a deep pit that perhaps she hadn’t seen yawning before her.

Perhaps we should look up, and keep in mind the serious troubles to come if we keep stepping across the wrong line.

Stanley Crouch is a syndicated columnist. Email him at crouch.stanley@gmail.com

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