Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Season Finale: Who really has our backs...and who REALLY doesn't?

In this episode:

Back to companion pets: We are it for them!
Final thoughts on BP Oil Spill: Who really has our backs...And who doesn't??

Transcript of this episode of The Web-DVM:

Hello ladies and gentlemen, and welcome back to The WebDVM. I am your host, veterinarian, Dr. Roger Welton. As you well know, I have geared a great deal of attention toward the tragedy, incompetency, wildlife, and political fallout of the BP oil spill that still has yet to be stopped, let alone cleaned. Based on e-mails and web chatter, I have been both exalted and criticized for having reported so exclusively on the BP oil spill in recent episodes, especially for dealing with the politics of this serious problem.

I will defend against my detractors by reminding everyone that the scope of this show is animals, and this event is very much about animals, and the very embodiment of how we continue to sacrifice our precious wildlife and natural treasures in the name of a dirty and corrupt energy source that stands poised to destroy nations and eventually the earth as we know it. However, since this will be my final You Tube broadcast before a much needed summer recess, I will get back to the topic of companion pets before closing with some final thoughts on the BP spill.

One day last week, I came home after a long day of work. I had performed 8 surgeries, then proceeded to work through an afternoon and evening of a full book of office visits. The day had started at 8AM and ended at 8:30PM. I made it home just in the nick of time to read my 2 year old son a bedtime story, give him a kiss, and put him to bed. After putting my boy to bed, it had just occurred to me that my yellow lab Bernie, pictured here, had been following me relentlessly in hindsight from the moment I got home. Yet, this was the first I noticed him. In all my business and preoccupations, it took me 30 minutes to even notice my dog, even when he had wanted nothing more than my acknowledgement from the moment I got home. And of course, I felt very badly.

For it occurred to me that, while I have my wife, child, my clinic, my blog, You Tube and radio shows, occasional golf on the weekend, and coaching youth league lacrosse, for my eternally devoted yellow lab, I am it. Of course, he enjoys my son, messing around with the other animals, and certainly enjoys his meals, but what he lives for, what makes him happiest in life, is me.

At that moment, I got down and rolled on the floor with Bernie, took him out back to let him run around, and gave him a treat. I told him that I was sorry for not noticing him, for letting my busy life cause me to overlook his presence, and that I will endeavour to do better.

That was actually not the first time that had happened and it probably won’t be the last, but this time was a wake up call that we as pet owners, owe it to our pets that give us so much unconditional and focused love, to make the effort to not leave them unnoticed, as they struggle to get our attention. We need to always remember that while we have family, career, and everything else that fills our lives, all our pets have, is us.

For my final thoughts about the BP oil spill, this past week was the biggest eye-opener I have gotten about the oil industry, the calls for more drilling rather than investment in alternative energy despite all we have lost and will continue to lose, and who chooses to protect BP and the oil industry to the detriment of the average citizen.

In congressional hearings designed to call out BP’s negligence and get to the bottom of whether their actions go deeper than apathy and incompetence and crossed the line into criminal behavior, republican congressman Joe Barton of Texas started his questioning by apologizing to BP CEO Tony Hayward for being pressured by the Obama administration to pledge $20 billion to an escrow fund to pay out claims and damages incurred by the millions of Gulf residents that are economically destroyed by this crisis and will be for years to come. He actually expressed shame and genuine sadness for BP being pressured by the administration to pay up damages in a timely fashion to avoid needless suffering in the wake of their deeds.

Other republicans quickly distanced themselves from Barton's comments, however, the damage was done, and truth brought out with full disclosure for all to see - the republican party exists to protect BP and other giant corporate entities like them, even when they have done the citizens of our country great harm through their own negligence, even when that big corporation is a foreign one!

Republicans are trying to play this off as some sort of gaffe made by a sole member who does not reflect their views, but that is far from the truth. Before Barton made his comments, radio host Rush Limbaugh, the defacto spokesperson for the republican party, called this escrow fund a shakedown enacted by the President upon BP, and denounced it fully. Republican representative and full fledged right wing loon, Michelle Bachman, warned BP not to be played like "chumps" by this administration and not get "fleeced" into an escrow fund that will just perpetuate unemployment. Are you kidding me?? This crackpot actually thinks that those who have lost their businesses and livelihoods that were tied directly to the Gulf, do not have legitimate claims against the company that perpetrated their misery, that getting legitimate claim payouts for their losses will perpetuate their laziness and unemployment, you know, because that is just the kind of people they are.

And of course, there is bimbo made Tea Party pin-up girl, Sarah Palin, who recently Tweeted to her followers not to buy the criticism that republicans side with BP, that their denouncement of the President pressuring BP to provide this escrow account goes against our constitution. Well I would bet that this bird brain has never actually read the constitution that she cites in defense of anything she disagrees with, as it says nothing, anywhere, that a corporation must not be held accountable when by its negligence it destroys the environment, wildlife, and ruins careers and livelihoods. And even if hypothetically the Constitution did state this, which it does not, I do not think such protection would extend to a foreign corporation!

I would rather take the President's word on the constitutionality of his monumental achievement of this escrow fund to help the people of the Gulf, since he is a Harvard Law graduate and former professor of constitutional law; whereas Palin took 6 years to get her undergraduate degree, failed as a journalist, and has as her only real accomplishment being governor of a state with a population smaller than the county I live in which, as it turns out, she quit on half way through her first term.
Folks, with all of the horrible destruction that this oil spill has wreaked, it is hard to find any solace, but I have. I am so grateful that this event, which was a ticking time bomb waiting to happen with the oil industry free to act with impunity and failed to police themselves, happened under the current President. For let me tell you what happens under republican leadership. During the Exxon Valdez oil spill the entire region in that area of Alaska was crippled economically. 37,000 residents in the area filed legitimate claims from loss of fishing and tourism dollars. Under George HW Bush, the ultimate payout was only a fraction of the claims, adding up to $3.5 billion. Worse yet, the administration enabled Exxon to exploit the court system by tying up the claim payouts in litigation for 10-20 years, while victims lost their businesses, homes, and drove many even to suicide because they lost everything. 8000 of 37,000 claimants, died before receiving their lost revenue claim money. The clean-up was never really fully finished, with oil still pooled at the bottom of Prince William Sound, no life having returned even 22 years later, and salmon and herring industry still non-existent. And this was under an intelligent and by most accounts, moderate republican President.

In contrast, President Obama pressured this corrupt and negligent oil giant to pay the people it has directly harmed, to make amends for what they did to them, not 10 or 20 years from now when businesses will have already been lost and homes foreclosed on, but now. Knowing full well with no real assurance of when BP will stop this gusher if even ever, and that the cost to Gulf citizens will likely be more, the President even pressured BP to announce that $20 billion is not a cap, and they will be on the hook for more if more damage than this is done.

Joe Barton, Rush Limbaugh, and Sarah Palin are hardly alone in their party for siding with BP over the citizens of our country. Congressman Tom Price called it a Chicago style shakedown well before Barton did. Other republican politicians that have voice their opposition to BP being pressured to set aside this escrow fund include: House minority whip Eric Cantor, Congressman Mike Pence, and Congressman Paul Ryan.

Barton, Limbaugh, Palin, and the rest of the republican party's defense of BP is the ultimate proof that republican politicians of today are little more than corporate lapdogs. They are not here for you and me. If they had their way, they would drill every last inch of our shores and lands, drown us all in oil, rather than press for new and clean energy sources, because that is what the reason for their existence, big, gluttonous, abusive corporations, want them to do, even if said corporations are foreign ones. This incident proved without question that big business rules the day for republicans, and that they care nothing for the well being of the individual citizens of the USA. I caution you not to forget this at the polls in this Novembers mid-term elections.

That concludes my first season of The Web-DVM. Thank you for watching, commenting, and making my first season a resounding success. After a 2 month summer recess, I will be returning with new episodes the first week of September, 2010. In the mean time, you can still catch my live call-in show Wednesday nights at 9PM EST. For more on the call-in show and how you can listen or watch live, as well as call in with a question or comment, visit my blog at webdvm.blogspot.com.

Missed this week's live show? Catch it here:

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Dr. Roger Welton is the President and chief veterinarian at Maybeck Animal Hospital in West Melbourne Florida, as well as CEO of the veterinary advice and health management website Web-DVM.net.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Gulf Oil Spill, the GOOD, the BAD, and the ULGY. . .

Transcript from personal comment from this episode of The Web-DVM:

Hello everyone, welcome back to The WebDVM, and thank you for joining me. The BP Oil Spill tragedy continues with no real end in sight. The title of today's program is Oil Spill, the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. Since I like to end my show on a positive note, and since unfortunately there is so much more bad and ugly than good in this debacle, I will start with ugly, move on to bad, and end with good.

The UGLY begins with ugly politics. The newly anointed far right faction of the Republican Party, known as the Tea Party, or my favorite term for them, Tea Baggers, is reacting to disaster by proclaiming the need for, ready for this? Less corporate regulation. Let's start with the pin up girl for the Tea Party movement, Sarah Palin.

On her Facebook page, Palin blamed the BP Oil disaster on environmentalists. Sarah said that the poor oil companies are forced to unsafely drill so deep, because the "greenies" got their way in banning drilling in shallower waters. If this so called energy authority were any more ignorant or stupid, she would be dead.
Known in Alaska for her abysmal environmental policy as Governor, a policy dubbed by environmental groups as slash, burn, kill, and drill and earning her the name, the "Killa from Wasilla," Sarah is, as always, dead wrong. Believe me, folks, if the oil companies really wanted to drill in shallower waters, they would be. They have enough politicians in their pocket, and a nation full of oil addicted gluttons to drill wherever they wanted. The reason they are not drilling shallower, Sarah, you moron, is because shallower reserves in the Gulf are tapped out. Both the oil companies and the government have mutually agreed that shallower water drilling would yield such small quantities of oil at this point, that it does not justify the expense nor the risk. The bottom line is that oil companies do not drill in shallower waters, because they know full well that ship has sailed long ago.

Senator McCain, given your record of service to your country both as military hero and for many years a legislator bound by principle, not strict party ideology or blind loyalty, I can forgive you for your recent shift to the far right to pander to the far right Tea Bagger loons. I can forgive you for the negative tone of your Presidential campaign. I can even forgive you for claiming recently that you never really considered yourself a "maverick." However, I can never, ever, ever, ever, ever forgive you for making this bimbo relevant.

Tea Party favorite, Kentucky GOP senatorial candidate, Rand Paul, was quoted on Fox News calling the President "un-American" for criticizing BP and putting his boot-heel on BP's neck in the midst of this crisis. If that was not enough, he was back on Fox Noise this week, once again defending BP, stating that Americans need to accept the fact that sometimes bad things just happen, and that it is absurd to need a "villain" in this mess.

Well, Mr. Paul, I will venture to say that you defending BP is what is un-America, because they are CLEARLY villian in this incident. They were glaringly unprepared for such an event, quoting CEO Tony Hayward, they clearly did not have the right "tools in the tool box" to deal with this crisis. Their 2009 Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill preparedness plan had listed as their wildlife preservation expert, Peter Lutz, Professor at Texas A&M University, a man truly qualified for this post, but with the small problem that he has been dead since 2005! Listed as sensitive biological resources, the plan lists walruses, sea otters, sea lions, and seals, none of which actually live in the Gulf. The names and phone numbers of several Texas A&M marine life specialists are wrong, as are numbers for marine mammal stranding network offices in Louisiana and Florida. BP's safety regulation record in the past decade is known to be among the worst in the industry. And all this negligence and lack of preparedness has now led to this mass defecation of oil on our precious shores, with no success in stopping it to date, nor worthy effort to clean it. Lastly, BP continues to drag their feet and bury people in paperwork for claims submitted for massive amounts of lost fishing and tourism revenue to people who rely on the Gulf for their livelihoods. While they nickel and dime those who have lost their livelihoods as the result of their actions, BP just paid out $10 billion in share holder dividends, while spending $50 million in ads to try to salvage their image. So much are they dragging their feet in paying out claims, that Admiral Thad Allen of the Coastguard, the President's point man in this crisis, has submitted a strong letter to BP demanding more transparency in their claims process. BP is not villain, Rand Paul, they are evil incarnate, and you sir, are an idiot!

For those of you that still feel you wish to take this guy seriously, he also opposes the section of the civil rights act that prohibits discrimination in private establishments. That's right folks, Senate candidate Rand Paul not only wants us to forgive BP while deregulating their industry even more, he wants to bring back our right to discriminate based on race, color, or creed!

Lastly, Sharron Angle, the Tea Party GOP senatorial nominee for Nevada's Senate seat, reacts to this crisis by calling for, you guessed it, less corporate regulation. From her view, government needs to get out of the way to pave the way for corporate progress, even if that progress also creates a culture of greed and self interest that trumps the public good and environmental protection. Apparently, Ms. Angle is not satisfied with just one BP, she would like to have a whole bunch more that operate with impunity and no regard for anyone or anything but their profits. Incidentally, Sharron Angle is so against government intervention in our lives, that she is in favor of re-illegalizing alcohol. I just don't get these Tea Baggers who are all for small government when it favors big business, but all for government being all up in our business socially, even intruding on our right to have a beer!

On to the BAD. BP is collecting 15,000 barrels of oil per day with their latest attempt to stop the leak. Unfortunately, it is now estimated that 40,000 barrels or more have been spewing from the well, making the current efforts still not collecting more than 60% of the gushing oil. But BP seemed to make a nice gesture to donate the proceeds of the sale of all collected oil to the restoration of ruined wildlife sanctuaries, marshlands, and rehabilitation of injured wildlife. Sound nice, right? Well, its BP we're talking about, so not quite. You see, BP's current collection systems are overwhelmed with the amount of oil being collected. Once again, BP is unprepared. Their solution to the problem? Burning off the excess oil that they cannot handle. Burning the oil and polluting the air, but also burning away a large portion of that oil they slated to fund wildlife restoration. And their answer as to why BP has not brought in larger tankers to collect the oil? The Gulf is already too crowded with boats and ships. Really, that was their answer.

Okay, finally the GOOD. Kevin Costner testified before congress about the ability of a machine that his company developed to clean oil polluted water to 99% purity. He brought in experts to design such a machine in the wake of the Exxon Valdez spill, having been appalled at the lack of technological progress that has been made on oil spill clean up, technological progress that has not significantly improved even since the Valdez. In response, BP bought 25 machines, a number that is capable to cleaning 6 million gallons of water per day. Up to this point, Costner maintains that the oil industry had met his company's invention with dismissal and no interest. Hopefully the attention this congressional hearing has brought to these machines will make their use more commonplace for this and future spills.

That is our show for this Sunday, June 13, 2010. Please join us again next week.

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