How to Read the Washington Post

Sunday, the Washington Post published “Obama allies’ interests collide over Keystone pipeline,” which on its face is a news story.  It’s also a guide to life in our nation’s capital.

The gist of the story is that when it comes to the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, the White House is pinched.  On one side are environmentalists, whose support helped Barack Obama win the presidency in 2008 but are sure the pipeline will be a blow to efforts to stop runaway global warming.  Bill McKibben arranged for several hundreds of people to be arrested in front of the White House, an embarrassment to the liberal posers inside.

Lining up on the other team are several corporations, unions and the friendly nation of Canada, all of whom stand to make money from the sale of Alberta’s tar sands-derived oil into the US market.  The operative word in that last sentence – in case you missed it – is money, the currency of Washington.

Each side has its list of reasons why the pipeline should/should not be built, all of which are worth mockery/discussion, but when one reads the WaPo, one wants to keep an eye on the politics.

The politics are typical for DC.  For example, it turns out that Paul Elliott, chief lobbyist for would-be pipeline builder TransCanada, was a ranking staffer on Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and when Friends of the Earth FOIAed emails between him and State Department aides, the aides were cheerleading for TransCanada.

Not to worry, State had arranged for an environmental review of the pipeline by an outside third party – which happens to be a major TransCanada contractor.  This review found “no significant environmental impact” from the pipeline (except contamination of the largest freshwater aquifer in North America and the heat death of human civilization, but not until after the corporations have been paid, so it’s OK).

In her defense, Secretary of State Clinton told the Post the whole thing had been “delegated to a deputy.”  Well done, Madam Secretary.  Ranks right up there with George H. W. Bush’s weak “I was out of the loop” on Iran-Contra and Al Gore’s “I was in the bathroom,” when illegal campaign fundraising was discussed.

So the greens have truth and justice on their side.  BFD.  The corporations have money, pots of it and an election is coming up.  (“Nice little administration ya got here, Barry.  Be a shame if somethin’ happened to it.”)

Chief of Staff Bill Daley weighed in, saying the White House would stay out of the final decision unless another agency objected to the State Department’s final determination. (“State’s gonna cook the books on this environmental thing and the rest o’ youse is gonna keep yer mouths shut.  Got that?  I’m lookin’ at you, EPA.”)  Thuggish behavior, originating at the Chamber of Commerce, rolls downhill.

“Both publicly and privately, however,” the Post reads, “Obama administration officials have told environmentalists they are better off with the president in office than without him.”  Having completed its downhill roll, the thuggish behavior now lands on the environmental community with a splat.

The problem with liberal Democrats is the gap between what they say they are: defenders of justice and equality – and what they really are: servants of the corporate state.

Bottom line?  One of two things and probably both.  One: Bill McKibben and friends have scared the pants off the above-mentioned posers in the White House, so the posers allow unusually blunt quotes to be printed in the WaPo, hoping to scare him off or at least scare him into silence.  Two: in the end, the environmentalists will lose and the corporations will win.

Six months ago, I would have found this depressing, but I think I’m beginning to see the revolution at the end of the tunnel.

© Mark Floegel, 2011

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