The Hightower Report

Marooned on BP Island; and Dems Cave on Disclosure

Marooned on BP Island

Okay, people, nature needs us to focus. All of us who love polar bears, whales, seabirds, and other wildlife should put our minds together to send an urgent telepathic message to the animals in the Beaufort Sea north of Alaska. Our message is blunt: Flee! Flee as fast as you can! Flee, because BP is coming!

While our attention has been riveted on BP's disastrous blowout in the Gulf, the British oil giant has been quietly and quickly drilling another risky well three miles off of Alaska's north coast. Dubbed "Liberty," this project requires a technique called "extended reach," which is even more prone to explosions than the Gulf process. First, BP is drilling down two miles under the Beaufort Sea, then going sideways for up to eight miles to tap into one of our national oil reserves.

But wait – didn't President Obama impose a moratorium on such offshore drilling? Yes ... but: When Liberty was planned in the Bush years, it was magically declared by his devil-may-care regulators to be an "onshore project." How can that be? Because the rig sits on a tiny artificial island that BP built, so – voilà! – it's "onshore" even though it's three miles offshore.

Also, just as in the Gulf, industry-cozy regulators let BP write its own environmental impact statements for Liberty. And – guess what? – BP's 2007 statement said BP would cause no environmental problems. A-OK, said the winking regulators as they rubber-stamped the project. And what about a disaster response plan, just in case, you know, something bad does happen? Not to worry, BP assured everyone, because the likelihood of a blowout is very remote.

So here we go again. To learn more about BP's Liberty escapade and to learn what you can do besides warning the sea animals to flee, call the Center for Biological Diversity at 520/623-5252 or visit www.biologicaldiversity.org.

Dems Cave on Disclosure

Should bank robbery be legal as long as the robbers wear name tags?

Such an absurd concept is at the core of the proposal by Democratic congressional leaders to "restrain" the ability of corporations to steal America's elections. Corporate giants – from Wall Street to Walmart – were unleashed to pull off such robberies by the Supreme Court in an absurd January decree that corporations are "persons" with free-speech rights and therefore are entitled to spend unlimited sums of money from their massive corporate treasuries to run their own campaigns to defeat or elect anyone they want.

This is the nuclear bomb of politics, empowering corporations to drop megatons of money on candidates, literally letting this narrow special interest group buy our government.

Democrats promised quick action to stop this armed robbery of the people's democratic authority. But – flexing milquetoast rather than muscle – the Dems proposed nothing but a disclosure bill. It meekly accepts the "right" of corporations to steal people's political power – as long as the barrage of corporate campaign ads comes with name tags, revealing who's doing the stealing.

Yet so-called leaders of the party are now even backing off on disclosure, watering down their own milquetoast. First came the National Rifle Association, shooting a hole in the bill to let them escape the disclosure requirement. Of course, other entities – from the AARP to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce – want the same exemption, so it's fast becoming a nondisclosure bill ... and a joke.

Backers say that these exemptions are the "only way" to win enough votes to pass the bill. What wimps! There is another way – Democrats should get out of Washington, where corporate money already rules; go to the people; and rally grassroots America to ram meaningful reform down the throats of these thieves.

For more information on Jim Hightower's work – and to subscribe to his award-winning monthly newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown – visit www.jimhightower.com. You can hear his radio commentaries on KOOP Radio, 91.7FM, weekdays at 10:58am and 12:58pm.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

BP, DISCLOSE Act, Center for Biological Diversity, Beaufort Sea, oil spill, Supreme Court, free speech

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