Don Williams
Photo by Justin Williams

Don Williams is a prize-winning columnist, blogger, fiction writer, sometime TV commentator, and is the founder and editor emeritus of New Millennium Writings, an annual anthology of stories, essays and poems. His awards include a National Endowment for the Humanities Journalism Fellowship at the University of Michigan, a Golden Presscard Award from Sigma Delta Chi Society of Professional Journalists, a best Commentary Award from SDC, Best Feature Writing from the Associated Press Tennessee Managing Editors, the Malcolm Law Journalism Prize from the Associated Press, Best Non-Deadline Reporting from the United Press International, Best Novel Excerpt from the Knoxville Writers Guild, a Peacemaker Award from the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance, five Writer of the Month Awards from the Scripps Howard Newspaper chain, and many others. In 2011 he was inducted into the East Tennessee Writers Hall of Fame. His 2005 book of journalism, Heroes, Sheroes and Zeroes is under revision for a second printing, and he is at work on a novel and a book of journalism. His columns appear at Opednews.com and have been featured at many other well-known websites. To run his column, gratis, at your website, post this link to a dedicated spot: http://www.mach2.com/williams/. Need a speaker, panelist, tv commentator or teacher for your group or to lead a writing workshop, in your town? Email DonWilliams7@charter.net.


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Don Williams comments

Gushers of Toxic History
(Copyright by Don Williams, All rights reserved   06/18/2010)

In 2003 I wrote, "If George W. Bush had run for president on a platform of making the world uninhabitable for humankind, he could scarcely have done better at starting us down such a path."

His first nail in the, um, platform was to allow Dick Cheney to select himself as vice-president. His second was in elevating Cheney to the status of co-president almost immediately. In his second administration--two wars and a million deaths later--Bush demoted Cheney, but by then it was too late. Cheney had unleashed forces that will haunt the world for decades if not centuries.

Even now oil gushes from a hole in the bottom of the sea, thanks to Bush, Cheney, Halliburton and BP.

Don't get me wrong. Obama is not absolved. He's been worse than disappointing in this crisis. It would've been heartening to see him direct an armada of ships from many nations into the Gulf of Mexico to suck up oil and otherwise contain the damage. It would've been wonderful to see him in boots and protective gear leading armies of volunteers and actual soldiers to scoop oil off beaches and clean feathers of sea-gracing birds. It would've been marvelous to've beheld a panel of actual scientists telling us what was really going on and rapidly assessing options proposed by everyone from actor Kevin Costner to Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal.

Still, make no mistake. The Great Gulf Gusher of 2010—like institutionalized torture, never-ending Middle Eastern war, unprecedented domestic spying, the great economic collapse of 2008, unprecedented media lies and so much else I've documented--was a Bush-Cheney production.

After losing the popular vote in 2000, yet winning the White House by one Republican vote on the Supreme Court, the first order of business for Bush-Cheney was to appoint a special energy task force to write energy policy for the new administration. As author Rodrigue Tremblay ("The New American Empire") and many others have documented, Cheney, former CEO of Halliburton, brought in his old cronies from across the corporate energy spectrum—oil, gas, coal, nuclear, etc., and held meetings—most of them secret--for over 100 days in 2001.

From then on it was "drill baby drill."

In quick succession, Bush-Cheney recommended ways to expedite all sorts of energy development, named Iraq as a competitor to watch, invaded that country—with Halliburton a major actor--cut regulations for all sorts of activities, lopped budgets for clean, alternative energy programs, proposed tax cuts for fossil fuel producers by over $30 billion and proposed opening Alaska's National Wildlife Refuge to drilling.

The Senate rejected this bill, but Bush-Cheney followed up in 2005 by subsidizing the oil companies by some $27 billion.

"Then again, on July 14, 2008, just months before leaving office, President George W. Bush signed an executive order to lift the moratorium on offshore drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico and off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts."

More to the point, "the Interior Department's Minerals Management Service decided on Aug. 30, 2005, that oil companies, rather than the government, were in the best position for determining their operations' environmental impacts. In effect, MMS decided on that date to de facto merge its services with those of the oil companies, even to the point of letting the oil industry fill out MMS's inspection reports," writes Tremblay.

"Oil companies persuaded the Bush-Cheney administration that expensive security measures were not required, even for drilling in deep oceanic waters. For example, MMS decided not to require oil companies to install a remote-control oil blowout preventer on their deep-sea oil drilling rigs, i.e. an acoustic blow off valve that immediately chokes off the flow of oil in an emergency. Even though they are expensive, (they cost $500,000 each), most offshore oil rigs in other countries—in Norway and in Brazil for example, but not in the U.S. or the U.K— have such a switch installed for cutting off the flow of oil in an emergency by closing a valve located on the ocean floor. No such emergency switch was available on April 20, 2010, when BP's 18,000-foot-drilling-deep floating oil rig blew up, a catastrophe that killed eleven workers, injured many others, and which has spewed, so far, as much as 100 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico…."

As I say, Obama is not absolved. Just weeks before this well blew, he proposed opening much more of our off-coastal sea floors to drilling, and he kept far too many Bush-Cheney appointments in place. But let's be clear. This is not his gusher.

It's one more tragic legacy from the most destructive co-presidency in history--Bush-Cheney. These erstwhile gushers of toxic history wreak havoc with our world still.