June 5th, 2010

that's what she said

Lies, Damned Lies and Sarah Palin

(NOTE: I almost didn't write this entry, since my ambit here is the sustained mockery of the pundit class and not any specific position-driven tilting at politicians. But since Sarah Palin has held political office only slightly more than I have, and since, if she can be said to have any occupation at all, it is currently the same indefinable and unnecessary one* as people like Jonah Goldberg and Michelle Malkin, I decided she was fair game. This career change, by the way, only serves to shore up my theory that punditry is the favored profession for people who are otherwise incapable of holding down a job, as a glimpse at La Palin's work history will confirm.)

Like most bored housewives who don't have much going on upstairs, Sarah Palin spends most of her time dicking around on Facebook. Now, La Palin has done a lot of deeply offensive things in her life, starting with being born and culminating with having such contempt for the United States that she allowed herself to be put in a position where she might have some say in leading it. But rarely has she reached the depths of offense that she achieves in this Facebook chicken-scratch (let's give her the benefit of the doubt and pretend she actually wrote it, rather than get mad at whatever soulless staffer did the actual work) in which she blames environmentalists for the Gulf oil spill.

The Driller Killer's tirade is full of more KOFF KOFF BULLSHIT KOFF KOFF moments than anything since Liberal Fascism was released. Let's take a gander (leaving the goose until the end, as all those Playboy cartoons in the '60s taught us):

Look, here’s the deal: when you lock up our land, you outsource jobs and opportunity away from America and into foreign countries that are making us beholden to them.

In this case, the foreign country would presumably be Britain, as in "British Petroleum". BP, of course, is a multinational -- indeed, a supermajor -- with as much American money invested as foreign money, and its ownership of Deepwater Horizon is not total; the facility was also operated by TransOcean (a company founded in the U.S. and now based in Switzerland) and Halliburton, an American company some of you may have heard of before. All of them, of course, owe their true allegiance to the United States of Capital.

Some of these countries don’t like America.

Surely she's not talking about Britain! Why, England and the U.S. have a "special relationship", one so special it would preclude both of them from service in the American armed forces! This isn't the first time La Palin has inexplicably gone to this particular 'foreign oil companies are evil' when referring to British Petroleum: last month, she tweeted that the spill should teach us a valuable lesson about trusting those greasy foreigners when it comes to letting them do their filthy business inside our pristine borders. This selective xenophobia would be hilarious enough on its own, but let's remember that would-be First Dude Todd Palin was an employee of BP for nearly twenty years, up until 2007 -- which means that the Palin clan was literally raised on British Petroleum's money. The G.O.P. long ago banned its membership from experiencing shame, though, and as Roy Edroso recently explained, Republicans now teach that the notion of hypocrisy is for suckers and rubes, so we can assume that no moral conflict will trouble her sleep.

Some of these countries don’t care for planet earth like we do – as evidenced by our stricter environmental standards.

For those who missed that clever sleight of hand, La Palin has just (a) criticized foreign countries for having more lax environmental standards than we do (b) as evidenced by our strict environmental regulations, which (c) she spends this entire article arguing are harmful and bad. You could also throw in a (d) if you cared to point out that the country she's talking about is England, which follows the E.U. on most environmental regulations and thus has much stricter environmental standards than we do. Amazing.

With your nonsensical efforts to lock up safer drilling areas, all you’re doing is outsourcing energy development, which makes us more controlled by foreign countries, less safe, and less prosperous on a dirtier planet.

Yes, if we only left this sort of thing to good old American companies, operating closer to the shoreline, this would never happen. Especially in Alaska.

Extreme deep water drilling is not the preferred choice to meet our country’s energy needs, but your protests and lawsuits and lies about onshore and shallow water drilling have locked up safer areas. It’s catching up with you.

Some of the worst oil spills in U.S. history (the Lakeview Gusher, the Greenpoint leak, and the Ashland spill) have been on shore. Shallow water drilling has an even worse record, both locally and globally; there's been the Santa Barbara spill in '69, this year's ExxonMobil spill in Nigeria, last year's Montara spill in Australia, the Ixtoc I spill in Mexico, the Lake Charles Citgo refinery spill, and the Nova disaster in Iran, among others. And that's just drilling or refinery disasters, and doesn't count the dozens of tanker spills (the Mega Borg, the African Queen, the Argo Merchant, the Corinthos, the Hawaiian Patriot, etc., etc. So what's catching up to who now?

Radical environmentalists: you are damaging the planet with your efforts to lock up safer drilling areas. There’s nothing clean and green about your misguided, nonsensical radicalism, and Americans are on to you as we question your true motives.

Sarah's learned her lesson well here. Just as her idol, Ronald Reagan, took his own horrendous misdeeds in the Iran-Contra scandal and blamed them on the press for reporting them ("there is bitter bile in my throat...the whole thing boils down to a great irresponsibility on the part of the press"), she's managed to convince herself that the people at fault for spilling poison into the Gulf aren't the companies who actually did it, or the politicians who let them get away with it, but the environmental activists who didn't want them doing it in the first place.

Your hypocrisy is showing. You’re not preventing environmental hazards; you’re outsourcing them and making drilling more dangerous.

The argument here, of course, is that faced with tight regulation of onshore and shallow-water drilling, companies -- especially evil foreign ones -- have no choice but to drill offshore, where the risk is higher. But this is nonsense on several levels. First, any massive oil spill is dangerous, whether it occurs on land, in fresh water, or in shallow or deep sea water. The types of damage which occur are different, but all are catastrophic. Second, the Gulf spill wasn't caused by risky drilling; it wasn't caused by the inherently dangerous nature of deep-sea exploration. It was caused by gross negligence on the part of British Petroleum, which ignored safety problems and cut corners on the Deepwater Horizon rig, and consistently lied about it afterward, both before and during the spill. It was exacerbated by their dismal record of compliance with safety and other regulations, and by toothless non-enforcement of same by the Bush administration.

Simply put, this was a matter of pure greed, yet another example of a company maximizing its profits by minimizing its social responsibility in an atmosphere of deregulatory mania, of the sort we saw over and over again from 2000 to 2008. To believe that BP, or its American equivalent, would behave any differently if only they were allowed to drill in ANWR or any other protected areas, you'd have to be some delusional Alaska political hack deep in the pockets of the oil lobby. Or Sarah Palin.

*: Call it "pundit" if you like, or "editorialist", or "opinion-monger". I prefer "cringing apologist for power". Or "death clown".
i got all the money

Darkie picks the cotton, white man gets the money

Once upon a time, it was a matter of faith (and no little importance) amongst Objectivists and their bratty little brothers, the Libertarians, that Western Civilization was demonstrably superior to all other races and cultures. Euro-American white males built more bridges, invented more doodads, penned more operas, etc., etc.; therefore, it was obviously true that they were better than other people, and if they occasionally erred on the side of exploiting or slaughtering their dusky inferiors, well, you could just chalk that up to the White Man's Burden.

Presented in 'evidence' of this non-falsifiable hypothesis were 'questions' like, if Western Civ isn't superior, then where are all the black scientists? Where are all the Muslim poets? Where are all the Hispanic inventors? Counter-questions like "Who decides what activities make a civilization superior?", "How can you objectively claim that one type of art is superior to another?", or "What about this or that black scientist, Muslim poet or Hispanic inventor?" were met with the usual rigorous retorts, like "Sez you", "They don't count", or "YOU shut up." And because the primary thing that Objectivists and Libertarians value over everything else -- the thing that they seem to believe is the ultimate justifier, the unanswerable argument-settler -- is money, eventually someone would chime in by saying that the way you can tell that Westerners (that is, white people) are superior is because if they aren't, where are all the black billionaires?

This argument picked up a lot of steam at the dawn of the internet age, because racists and free-market crazies took to the World Wide Web like flies to shit. It even held traction when there were an increasing number of black millionaires (because it doesn't count if you make your money playing ball or rapping), and even held on when the very success of the internet turned out to be increasingly the work of Indians, Koreans and other undesirables (because, I guess, their customers were white, or something). Eventually, it fell out of favor when it became clear that flagrant racism wasn't the best way to get people to join your fun club, and it eventually got relegated to disreputable corners of the internet like Yahoo! Answers (where you can Google "why are there no great female _______" and find a million such screeds, unless what goes in the blank is 'Madonnas' or 'whores'), Usenet, and the occasional attempt to slide it into a place where decent people hang out, in the guise of a tirade against multiculturalism (examples here, here and here). Or, you could just go Reason.com and do a site search for "political correctness".

Still, just because it's no longer socially acceptable to say something doesn't mean people stop believing it. Just as the election of of Barack Obama and its concomitant promise of a 'post-racial America' has led to a new renaissance of gross public racism, I'm sure that there are still large chunks of the radical right who still secretly mutter some variant of "If they're so smart, why aren't they rich?". (A question, curiously, that they never seem to ask themselves.) I have to wonder: the image of Mexicans as welfare-cheating, freeloading, law-flouting bums heats to the boiling point, at the same time a Mexican becomes the richest man on Earth. (And a half-Arabic Mexican, at that! The horror!) Haiti is held up as an example of the dependency, neediness and incompetence of blacks, at the same time that Gatwick Airport is sold for a billion dollars to a company headed by a black man. (And a black African, at that! The shame!) China is condemned as a nation of gangsters, thugs, and retrograde, backwards-looking despots, at the same time that the Chinese continue to buy up the debt without which our country could not economically survive. Are the Objectivists refining their argument, or just looking for a new set of exceptions?