Suffocating the Planet

If you spot me, carrying my Chanel handbag, don’t worry. You do not have to duck or run. I am not packing heat. I will not carry a weapon of any caliber of destruction, from the teensy to the massive. Except for a tube of red lipstick.

However, I do want to embrace the spirit of Che—his passion and determination on behalf of the oppressed—for my children’s future, yours, and the grandchildren.

Yet, even as I write, I’m wondering at the wisdom of anyone who is making a decision to bring life into a world populated by people whose pathologies are metastasizing at the speed of virulence.

I was traveling in North Carolina last weekend and saw an exit for Nutbush Bridge. Yeah, I know it’s not named for G.W. (I don’t think) but let’s suppose it is. Which means it’s not a bridge to nowhere, but one to Calamityville. War, deregulation, Big Corporations, and more war, at home and abroad. During the Bush-Cheney deregulation years, companies like BP were allowed to bypass safety measures that would prevent the catastrophe that’s continuing to unfold in the Gulf of Mexico.

When I first read that scientists were reporting plumes of petroleum, I thought of childhood visits to a farm where the most beautiful peacocks strutted their plumes—plumes that fanned out in vibrant, iridescent shades of deep blue and green, with the breathtaking “eye” designs of gold and red. The word “plume” conjures up images of magnificence, nature at its best. Evolution’s artistry.

But the petroleum plumes are not artistry; nor are they natural. What is happening in the water is hideous and deadly—a force that is mounting and smothering marine life, our ecosystems, and the livelihoods of so many people as it slimes onto beaches and begins its assault on the Atlantic coast.

This is immense, an environmental disaster whose impact is not yet known. We can only imagine, and this is exactly what I’m doing. In fact, I visualize the oil, covering not just our beaches and moving its way through our oceans but, continuing to gush until it coats everything in its path.

I am watching a horror movie.

One that never should have been made. One that should not have been allowed. One produced and directed by Big Oil, a component of the Military Industrial Complex (MIC) that owns our government and the mainstream media, while another component of the MIC, the military, is trained to occupy oil-rich countries under the guise of patriotism.

Wars are perpetrated against countries whose resources we covet, killing millions of civilians. Wars are perpetrated against our environment. Wars are perpetrated against our poverty-wage workers who have seen their paychecks shrink and their tax dollars tossed to profligate Banksters. Wars are perpetrated against military families whose troops sacrifice life, limbs, cerebral tissue, and psyches.

All these wars are interrelated.

Meanwhile, Barack Obama is wondering whose ass to kick for BP’s waterboarding our planet with petroleum and toxic dispersants. He could start by kicking his own and, then, by slamming a Berluti-clad foot up the buttocks of unregulated corporate interests.

But he won’t. So, We the People, must.

If we can prevent Big Oil from suffocating Earth, we have a chance. This “if” is huge. Because “if” we can accomplish this, we can, also, end the military oil wars. It is all about OIL. That’s it. But it may be too late—especially since the “spill” continues gushing plumes. And the greedy continue to rape our planet and its slave labor for the benefit of four percent of the people, at the peril of all. Getting away with murder.

Just when I think I’ve wrapped up this article, I see the cover of a magazine, “The Week,” with this question: “Will the Gulf oil spill damage Obama’s presidency?” Given the cataclysmic scope of the hemorrhage, damage to Obama’s presidency should be the LEAST of concerns.

MISSY BEATTIE writes from Baltimore, Maryland. She does not have a crush on Larry David. She has more than a crush on Robert Allen Zimmerman’s friend. Contact her at:





Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in BaltimoreEmail: