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Black Agenda Report

Yes, Obama Is 'Engaged' – in a Colossal Crime

Glen Ford

In a rational polity, the great abomination to Earth and Man in the Gulf would spell the end of the Obama presidency. We are witnessing cataclysm on a geological scale, an event with the potential to alter planetary destiny, precipitated not by the three hundred million year arc of wayward comets or the incremental slide of continent-molding tectonic plates, but by the routine exercise of corporate power in the United States.

The man in charge of the government that both permitted and abetted the heinous corporate crime ("Drill, baby, drill!") should, by all rights, be in terminal disgrace. Instead, much of Obama's "base" behaves as if the First Black President is an innocent party -- a victim of circumstances -- rather than a facilitator of the corporate enterprise that has spawned the Mother of all Pollutions. But then, Teflon is a petrochemical product.

Any meaningful discussion of the oceanic version of Chernobyl would challenge a political system in which huge corporations are empowered to seek profits with absolutely no regard for the consequences to Earth or Man. Viewed from that angle -- the only sane perspective -- questions of whether Obama is fully or only partially "engaged" are ludicrously ill-framed. Engaged in what, in subduing and caging the corporate animals that are defecating in humanity's only nest? Clearly not: BP is the operative government in the Gulf, with the Coast Guard as its muscle. BP is also the surgeon in charge of mending the Earth's wound and preventing the spread of septicemia in its life-sustaining fluids - the equivalent of Jack The Ripper tending to his own victims. Under such circumstances, the more Obama assures us he is "engaged," the greater his confessed complicity in the crime.

For purposes of assigning culpability, Obama was fully engaged in setting the stage for the atrocity from the moment of his campaign reversal on off-shore drilling in August, 2008 -- after he had the nomination locked up. "My interest is in making sure we've got the kind of comprehensive energy policy that can bring down gas prices," said candidate Obama. "If, in order to get that passed, we have to compromise in terms of a careful, well-thought-out drilling strategy that was carefully circumscribed to avoid significant environmental damage -- I don't want to be so rigid that we can't get something done." So Obama bent over like a contortionist to pleasure the oil barons.

The full scope of Obama's "compromise" was announced almost two years later, on March 31. The White House gave Big Oil virtually everything it wanted that was politically possible, with no protections for the public or Mother Earth in the form of a "well-thought-out drilling strategy that was carefully circumscribed to avoid significant environmental damage."


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"The federal government is fully engaged and I am fully engaged," said Obama, last week. OK, we'll accept that he has been engaged in furthering the oil industry's plans to drill at depths at which current technology makes mistakes irreparable -- as the damage from the current ecological holocaust is already irreparable.

Obama has been engaged in killing the planet, in concert with his corporate co-conspirators. He did nothing more than cosmetic changes at the federal Minerals Management Service, which Obama finally admitted, at last week's press conference, "had been plagued by corruption for years" and had a "scandalously close relationship" with Big Oil.

The unbroken chain of "corruption" at the agency in both Bush and Obama administrations is one small expression of the continuity of actual rule of the country by sometimes feuding cousins in Big Oil and Wall Street and the Military Industrial Complex -- the permanent government. Obama is "engaged" as their servant, like his predecessors in the Oval Office.

The corporate cousins have raised the stakes of the game. It's either them or Earth itself. When history passes its verdict on the current era, she will not assign much import to the advent of the First Black President of the United States. Rather, history will mark 2010 as the year a servile political operative in the White House exposed the seabed to deep defilement by the oil colossus, from which the world never fully recovered.

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BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at

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