WAS being the operative word, because here we are. Welcome.
I don't usually read the paper, but sometimes do glance at headlines - especially when I'm not at home. You can get a lot about a place through the cadence and structure of a hometown newspaper headline. In this case, I am in New Orleans, the paper is the Times Picayune, and some of the headlines juxtapose one another perfectly. Above the fold on the front page:
Pelican to take hiatus from car tags
(subheading) Bicentenial logo drives out 'Paradise'
Frustration mounting over BP Delays, lack of progress
(sub headng) There is really no excuse for not having constant activity
(picture) Pelican eggs and feather in a nest covered with oil.
...and then just below the fold:
ANCIENT LAW MAY GIVE TRANSOCEAN AN EDGE
There is a great sadness here that is palpable. I know a very smart sociologist who did her thesis on Carnival in Brazil. She proposed that Carnival specifically, and maybe nutty state-sanctioned displays of crazed mayhem generally, function as a kind of release valve for a culture under pressure.
At a play (Go Ye Therefore) put on by some very talented artists I know, I bummed a cigarette from a gentleman and woman who is a decision maker for a fancy theater awards foundation type of thingy here. I'm not good at remembering that kind of information. What I do remember is that she sees a shit-ton of theater, and she said that the first year after Katrina all the plays were either Comedies or about the storm. I'm starting to understand the connection in my own heart between mayhem and healing. When the punches keep on rolling in, the injuries become chronic: even though pain killers do not themselves heal, they can distract you just enough that healing might have a fighting chance.
In addition to being incredibly poetic, TRANSOCEAN is the corporation that is filing lawsuit in Texas to limit it's liability for the 'vessel' that was the Deepwater Horizon. It's not unusual that a corporation would want to limit its own liability: that's a no-brainer. But there is something much more sinister afoot here that I believe more people should be aware of. In this case, the corporation that TRANSOCEAN is seeking to limit it's liability from is BP, and in this case, BP and TRANSOCEAN are teaming up to cover both of their asse(t)s by carefully choosing the court they want this lawsuit (and suits to follow) to get played in, and that court is the state of Texas: hometown advantage for TRANSOCEAN whose headquarters are in Houston.
There are many states and countries and corporations (people and pelicans are irrelevant) that are going to feel the effects of so many gallons of crude converted dinosaur fat being released into an system like the gulf. In these early phases of this disaster, and because of the currents in the gulf, Texas is not a corporate entity that will feel the visceral effects of being coated in crude oil. In addition, Texas is a state that has gotten very rich in it's extraction of that same crude. The system of justice in this country is supposed to be blind, but the implications of this are obvious; and we all know that justice is rarely, if ever, blind.
All of this clandestine arrangement between legal entities and the law belies the real issue: in this case that neither people nor pelicans are getting a voice in these early strategic maneuverings that are having tangible effects on their respective abilities to even exist. It belies another point which is that to confine this issue to any corporate/state boundary line is foolish. This old oily beast has been unleashed from it's earthly grave into the ocean, and the ocean has no boundaries as the very word TRANSOCEAN would suggest.
I am not aware that there is anything that any of us can do about this, unless you live in the state of Texas. Even then it's dubious: we all know that a phone call to your elected representative means a little less in the state of Texas than elsewhere. As we ponder this, the brown pelican is becoming extinct: literally and figuratively as it's representation on Louisiana license plates takes a 'hiatus'. I might suggest that the image of the pelican might be replaced by the image of a bald head: somewhat fitting that the one tangible thing we actually can all do to help in this effort (donate our hair) would make us all look like we just came from the camps...
This is my best shot at being a citizen journalist.