Thursday, June 17, 2010

A Day Of Oily Apologies


While I was putting on my shoes and socks this morning, I watched Ed Lavendara on CNN interview some brainwashed redneck in Kenner, Louisiana. All of the poor guy's information came straight from either Limbaugh or Glenn Beck and he wasn't capable of anything beyond spewing GOP talking points-- which the leering and brainless Lavendara gleefully prompted him on. He enjoyed talking about how "the unions" have prevented a cleanup and how badly Obama has handled it compared to how much better Bush handled Katrina. This, obviously is all from the alternative universe inhabited by Michele Bachmann, Sean Hannity, Sarah Palin, Sharron Angle, Michael Savage, Bill O'Reilly, Steve King, Rand Paul... the whole teabagger sideshow. The poor schnook did manage to say, not having been schooled on this one yet, that he was happy about the $20 billion escrow fund Obama had gotten BP to agree to. Across the dial on liberal bastion, MSNBC, Pat Buchanan was declaring that Joe Barton had just shown immense "political courage" in the House Energy Committee hearings.

By now, most Americans-- other than Fox viewers since that network has censored out Barton's jaw-dropping apology to B.P.-- who had never heard of the conservative Texas Republican congressman before, know a lot about him. A former employee of B.P. subsidiary, ARCO, Barton has taken more in campaign "contributions" than any other House member in Texas... in America... in the history. His haul-- not counting perks (and there have been many)-- is $1,447,880 so far, the only House member to get over a million dollars. But, as the Ranking Member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, he's also their most valuable congressional asset. (I might add that B.P., which has given 70% of it's political contributions to Republicans, has rewarded Barton with a nice $27,350 towards his political career.)

Before the Democrats retook Congress, Barton was the Chairman of Big Oil's most congressionally important committee and there was never a single instance-- not one-- when Barton disagreed with them or stood in the way of their malevolent designs. He personally guaranteed that all regulation aimed at preventing things like the catastrophe in the Gulf would get deep-sixed. He earned his $1,447,880, although Barton is now going to cost American taxpayers as much as $100 billion.

Environmentally-conscious and energy-conscious Democrats had already been talking to the voters about how their approach drastically differs from the Republican approach. On Wednesday Billy Kennedy, the Blue America-endorsed candidate challenging reactionary corporate shill Virginia Foxx in western North Carolina came out swinging with a claim that Foxx shares the blame for the B.P. disaster. He hit all the relevant points that Americans should be assessing around this national catastrophe:
"Last week in her town hall phone-in, Rep. Virginia Foxx said she didn't understand why President Obama didn't immediately send 'big ships' to the Gulf to sop up all the oil."
"The fact is there are 8,100 vessels responding to the Gulf oil disaster. The Congresswoman's understanding of this spill is simplistic, and her suggested solution is naïve."
"Livelihoods are lost, and a national treasure faces devastation. A government panel of scientists has now determined that the well is leaking as much as 2.52 million gallons a day. The oil continues to threaten not only Gulf shores but North Carolina shores and our way of life as well. The clean-up and recovery will take the commitment of generations and billions of dollars."

"As more internal BP documents have become public, it is now crystal clear that BP made risky decisions leading to the April 20 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon and the spilling of tens of millions of gallons of crude oil over the lives and livelihood of Gulf Coast citizens."
"The bottom line is that BP engineers chose a faster, less safe design to save money, and Congress let them get away with it. The cheaper design saved BP $7 million to $10 million.  As a result, we now have 11 lost lives and 35,000 to 60,000 barrels of oil spilling into the Gulf each day all because a corporation cared more about profits than people and because politicians in Washington didn't have the courage to stand up for the people."
"The U.S. has some of the most relaxed regulations in the world on deep-water off-shore drilling. The AP reports that Canada requires energy companies to have plans for relief wells in place before drilling is approved. This is not the case in the U.S. The five largest oil companies raked in $289 billion in profits over the past three years but spent just $60 million on safety research and development, accident prevention and oil spill response planning over the same period."
"Currently, oil companies are only responsible for $75 million in damages resulting from a spill.  Congress must eliminate that cap immediately."
"Campaign finance reports show that the top 16 recipients of oil and gas industry money are Republicans. Incumbent Virginia Foxx has accepted more than $52,000 in contributions from the oil and gas lobby since she went to Washington. She and her Republican cohorts have received $11.6 million since 1990."
"BP must pay any and all damages. This disaster has taken away the ability of thousands of Gulf Coast citizens to make a living, and we must get BP out of the claims process. We must make sure that fishermen, hotel owners, restaurateurs and others have a fast, efficient, and transparent claims process to regain their livelihoods.
"But even in the wake of this national disaster, there is hope and possibility. The American people have stood strong in the face of serious challenges before, and we can do it again."
"It has now become a matter of national security that we explore our options for cleaner energy that will not only protect our environment but that will bring much needed, good-paying jobs to our communities as well."
"If we commit ourselves to a goal of energy independence, we will ensure a better life for our children and for their children as well. We owe them, and ourselves, nothing less.  We have an opportunity at hand.  We have the technology to use clean and renewable energies. We just have to find in ourselves the commitment to make it happen. I have faith we can if we elect leaders in Congress who will stand up to lobbyists and corporations."

Foxx may agree with her buddy Barton that BP is owed an apology and that the escrow fund is a "slush fund, but even Republicans are jumping off that sinking ship. Florida Congressman Adam Putnam might have once backed Barton up too but now he's running for statewide office in Florida-- and this was his immediate response:

He wasn't the only one to sense the extreme mortal danger this puts Republicans in. Oh, don't expect to hear it from the lunatic fringe like Foxx, Rand Paul, Sarah Palin, Tom Price, Haley Barber, Michele Bachmann, Sharron Angle or the kook who wants to put landmines on the New Mexico border, but even a far right extremist like Jeff Miller-- who represents a Florida coastal area that is getting drenched in oil-- demanded that Barton step down from his committee position. "I condemn Mr. Barton’s statement. Mr. Barton’s remarks are out of touch with this tragedy and I feel his comments call into question his judgment and ability to serve in a leadership on the Energy and Commerce Committee. He should step down as ranking member of the Committee.” Other Gulf state Republicans, like Ginny Brown-Waite, Steve Scalise and Michael Burgess were smart enough to distance themselves from Barton's toxic remarks-- although it's much harder to distance themselves from the toxic Republican Party ideology and policies behind those remarks.

Justin Coussoule, who's running a strong campaign for the western Ohio seat currently held by John Boehner, is making sure voters in his district are aware of Boehner's role is this costly mess. Justin:
John Boehner is not only a considerable financial investor in oil stocks, but is also a recipient of hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign largesse from oil companies. He has recently called on taxpayers to fund the multi-billion dollar clean up of the disastrous British Petroleum blow-out and now-- even refuses to lift the liability cap on oil companies who drill in the gulf.

He is tucked so tight into big oils pocket that he cannot even muster genuine anger, sympathy for the victims or call for increased accountability-- because he can apparently find no fault with his oily benefactors who have brought us the worst environmental catastrophe in American history.
Like the BP executives who see the victims of this disaster as merely the small people who should willingly endure the pain and cost of this horrible fiasco, Boehner continues to defend, along with his fellow apologists the Chamber of Commerce, the removal of oversight while the shill ‘drill baby drill’ chants that pass for public policy in his narrow circle are endlessly repeated.

His comments this week clearly show that he is devoid of shame and has lost all touch with the millions of Americans who are fighting to protect everything they have from this man-made calamity in the Gulf.

Harry Reid, reacting to Barton's insane remarks today, which aren't very different in substance from what his own opponent has been spewing, sounded a lot like Justin: “It takes an appalling amount of chutzpah for Congressman Barton to apologize to the BP CEO this morning about Democrats’ efforts to hold BP accountable. Where is his apology for the families of the 11 men who lost their lives and the industries along the Gulf that have been devastated because of this disaster? Where is his sympathy for the ecosystem in the Gulf of Mexico that will be damaged for generations because of BP’s negligence? And shouldn’t he be apologizing to the people of the Gulf Coast for decades of Republican policies that ignored oversight and accountability for the oil industry?
“Republicans should get their priorities straight: are they going to keep protecting and apologizing for Big Oil or will they finally stand up for families and businesses whose lives have been upended by the BP oil spill?”   

New Jersey Rep. Scott Garrett is another of Big Oil's closest allies and we reached Tod Theise, the Democrat opposing his reelection bid. Tod was as angry as Coussoule and Reid: “Offering an apology to BP for simply expecting them to take responsibility for their grossly negligent conduct is an affront to the American people. The Gulf and surrounding regions have been irreparably harmed by BP’s indefensibly careless conduct. The people who depend on the Gulf for their livelihoods have had their prosperity stolen from them. Rep. Barton’s misbegotten apology is just another in a long line of excuses made by politicians for the special interests that buy their loyalty. Working Americans cannot be expected to pick up the tab for what amounts to  an environmental bailout.BP must be held fully responsible for their unconscionable conduct and the carnage they’ve caused."

Two top California House candidates also issued statements this morning. Bill Hedrick's and Beth Krom's opponents are extremely pro-Oil and anti-environment, anti-green energy fanatics. Bill pointed out that "Ken Calvert has been a dutiful servant of Big Oil for years. Regardless of the cost to constituents, he’s done their bidding. And he has worked to keep Big Oil’s stranglehold on American consumers by blocking possible energy innovation beyond carbon-based fuels and promoting expanded drilling. In 2006 Calvert voted against keeping a moratorium on drilling offshore in environmentally sensitive areas-- many in California. In 2007 he voted against investing in biofuel development. In 2008 he opposed tax credits for renewable electricity. Worse still, last year he re-introduced his MORE Act-- a bill to lift drilling restrictions on the Pacific coast to allow drilling up to the beach-- then on March 31 of this year, Calvert criticized President Obama for not including California in the proposed expansion of offshore drilling. On April 20, the Deepwater horizon exploded killing eleven workers, triggering the worst environmental disaster to his the US in our history."
Beth Krom is facing the same kind of kook in John Campbell. "To have Rep Joe Barton, Ranking Member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, apologize to BP for the administrations demand that they set up a $20 Billion escrow fund to compensate those who have and will continue to suffer massive impacts from the largest offshore oil spill in history is an outrage. Barton opposes regulation, advocates off-shore drilling and supports nuclear energy. That’s just the kind of guy you want chairing a committee on energy... if you’re BP!”

The GOP front group, Heritage Foundation, funded primarily from Big Oil and similar kinds of abusive and predatory corporations, is calling reactions to Barton like the ones above a public lynching. Conservatives' feelings were hurt by the White House's reaction to the Republican talking points Barton exploded with this morning:

“What is shameful is that Joe Barton seems to have more concern for big corporations that caused this disaster than the fishermen, small business owners and communities whose lives have been devastated by the destruction. Congressman Barton may think that a fund to compensate these Americans is a ‘tragedy’, but most Americans know that the real tragedy is what the men and women of the Gulf Coast are going through right now. Members from both parties should repudiate his comments.”

BP CEO Tony Hayward is stalling, waffling, dodging, weaving and stonewalling in front of the House committee. It's a first step towards inevitable prosecution. Here's a GOP propagandist and egregious corporate propagandist, Neil Cavuto, on the Republican television station, interviewing Congresswoman Diana DeGette of Colorado:

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At 3:49 PM, Anonymous me said...

Predictably, Barton is getting support from a few corners.

It's the same old tap dance. They don't really expect the govt to apologize to BP. They are doing this only so that whatever outrageous giveaway they eventually do hand over will seem mild in comparison.

This serves the same purpose as Glenn Beck does on Fox - makes the rest of those rotten bastards sound reasonable in comparison.

At 8:06 PM, Blogger KenInNY said...

Maybe it's just my usual giddy optimism, but anytime these thugs are indiscreet enough to say what they really think, they set themselves up for some real hurtin' in the real (or at least less-unreal) world. Barton's GOP playmates understand that his "apology to BP" silliness has the potential to make them the Official Party of the Gulf Oil Catrastrophe. (And for those who are keeping score, the Official Party of the Bailed-Out Banksters and the Extorting-and Befouling Oilfolk.

Now if we could get the righties who think the same thing to get THEIR view on the record, we could see how close it's possible to get to cruficying the whole loony lot of 'em.


At 8:09 PM, Blogger KenInNY said...

No sooner did I "publish" the above comment than I flipped on THE DAILY SHOW in progress and found Jon Stewart tearing Barton to shreds.



At 8:27 PM, Blogger Statistikhengst said...

Actually, it is part of a larger program of attack the GOP has been using since the primary season 2008: GOPers from Firewall districts, state districts, or states have said just unbelievable things and then "retracted", but the seed of doubt has then been sucessfully planted. King from IA is an excellent example. It started with the "Boy" comment in May 2008 and has not stopped since then.

The GOP is literally imploding before our very eyes.

At 8:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the reason Boehner can't muster any emotion for the victims of this mess in the Gulf is because the guy is incapable of mustering emotions, period. He has no personal convictions, which is usually a key piece in having an emotional reaction to anything.

It's time for somebody to fire John Boehner-- and the only somebody that can do that is his opponent, Justin Coussoule.

At 6:19 AM, Anonymous me said...

"have said just unbelievable things and then 'retracted', but the seed of doubt has then been sucessfully planted."

Exactly my point. Statements and actions that would have seemed outrageous before, are rendered almost reasonable in comparison. And when they are subsequently repeated again and again, what used to be unacceptable becomes common wisdom.

This has scenario has played out many many times. Clearly it is no accident.

"The GOP is literally imploding before our very eyes."

I wish. But I don't see it. They still have the money and the media, and the power of propaganda has not diminished. The GOP is still strongly supported by a good 40% of the population, and another 20% sees them as acceptable.

Remember Nixon's resignation? Remember the predictions of the demise of the GOP back then? But Ford (God damn him to hell) pardoned Nixon, and as a result we got Reagan just six years later, and we've been going downhill fast ever since.

That is the reason I am so infuriated and disgusted with Obama's inaction regarding Bushco's many, many crimes. I believe he's setting us up for the final fall.


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