Monday, June 07, 2010

Update: Cheney's Chernobyl-- Oil, Oil Everywhere


- by Noah

"I think we have the opportunity to set a new benchmark in industrial safety," Hayward told the Houston Chronicle in a rare interview in 2007. "You earn your reputation through performance."

Last week, I wrote down some of my musings about BP’s Gulf of Mexico gusher. Now, it’s been more than 40 days and 40 nights since the absolute terror for Gulf Coast residents began. It’s been more than 40 days and 40 nights since most everything, living or abstract, in the gulf area, including the economy, started to die. The effects on the nation’s economy as a whole could end up being equally disastrous, as this man-made catastrophe worsens. A damaged wetlands barrier will leave one of America’s most important port cities, possibly the most important, more vulnerable. As I said last week, those responsible for the disaster have created the kind of damage that is the stuff of dreams for people like Osama bin Laden. If what Tony Hayward and his company had done had happened in China or Romania, he would have been slammed against a stone wall and shot by 20 riflemen by now. If Tony were Japanese, he’d have a sense of honor and would be reaching for his personal monogrammed set of Hari-Kari Knives. Instead, we get a guy who gets treated as anything but a criminal by our society. On paper, at least, our system of justice is more sophisticated and civilized, but that’s only on paper.
BP CEO Tony Hayward talks about getting his life back and is such a self-centered dirtbag that the lives of the 11 who lost their lives and will never get them back never crosses his mind, nor do the lives and livelihoods of American citizens that have been destroyed. This is a guy who, while raking in billions, willfully put the safety of his own employees, the local wildlife, some of which was already endangered, the livelihood of the people of the region, their way of life, and the Gulf of Mexico itself in grave danger for want of a $500,000 acoustic safety switch. He had control of a weapon of mass destruction and handled it as if he was a three year old without a care or responsibility in the world. The Atlantic coast, the Atlantic Ocean and even Europe will be at risk once Hayward’s plague gets into the Gulf Stream.

Probably, the only person in America who feels true happiness and relief over the predicament that Tony Hayward has put himself in is Goldman-Sachs head honcho Lloyd Bankfein simply because he is no longer the most hated man in America.  As for Hayward, if he had been upfront from the start, instead of coming across as a pathological liar, there would be no need to dwell on his lack of character, but now he is banning as many cameras as he can; dictating to the mostly complicit media and, by some reports, a compliant FAA, for fear of that the full horror of his decisions would be revealed to the public. Even his use of the dispersant solvent Corexit (banned in his own country) was only for cosmetic purposes: using it because it removed some of the oil from the surface of the water that can be seen by cameras but not what lies below. The fact that his choice of solvent, which the EPA way too politely asked him not to use, made the oil even more toxic than it already was meant nothing to him. Even the name of the solvent itself is a lie. To Hayward, the disaster is still, after all of this time, little but something to be managed by a PR campaign. He is also seeking to have the United States District Court judge in Houston, Lynn N. Hughes, a judge appointed by Ronald Reagan at the suggestion of Daddy Bush (Hughes is also a member of The Council on Foreign Relations), handle all cases that pertain to charges of BP’s negligence, malfeasance and other criminality. It’s the ultimate in judge shopping. It’s extreme jury shopping, too. I mean; think about it: an Oil Town Houston jury; a jury of your peers if there ever was one. Hell, Dubya, Rove, and Texas Gov. Rick Perry would eagerly serve on that one.

Tony Hayward even refuses to allow cleanup workers to wear protective masks because it would look bad for BP if the cameras filmed such a thing. Then, with a straight face, he blames worker sicknesses like severe respiratory ailments and instant dangerously high blood pressure on “food poisoning.” Hayward has made walking on a beach a toxic risk that could affect the rest of a victim’s life. His latest move is to hire a key spokesliar, Anne Womack-Kolto, former spokesliar for Dick Cheney, to do his PR. Like attracts like. You just can’t make up stuff like this! And, what a coincidence! Imagine what this woman knows! That’s why she’s now on the case. There are plenty of things that could come out about Cheney’s doings if the unraveling starts. That gushing oil pipe isn’t the only thing certain people want to put a lid on. Favorable Houston judge, denial of media access, constant lies, this week’s dramatic increase in “campaign contributions” from Halliburton to seven key Senators (more on that later), Cheney’s personal PR flak… It all adds up to image management and self-preservation. To BP, the means to that end is to just tell bigger and bigger lies:
“We’re trying to provide as much data as we can. We’re in the middle of this operation... There’s a tremendous amount of transparency here.”
                                                        -Tony Hayward’s COO, Doug Suttles

Well, if by transparency, you mean “we can see right through you,” then, yes, you are offering a great deal of transparency. Tremendous!
Just as Wall Street got the deregulation they wanted and gave us a major, major recession that severely damaged our economy, Hayward and the rest of his Big Oil ilk got the deregulation they wanted, probably as a direct result of Dick Cheney’s famous oil secret summit in 2001, and gave us a man-made disaster on the order of Chernobyl. Both breakdowns were the direct result of so-called President Bush’s mania for total deregulation and the Repug Party’s desire to let business do whatever it wants, to us. As planned, oil profits soared to record heights under the Bush-Cheney regime. Nothing wrong with profit: until it morphs into insanity on the level of a death wish.

 Years ago, I learned two things while working for a British company which I don’t need to name. One of the things I learned is that the old wives tale that the Brits are the best liars in the world has a ring of truth about it. To them, it’s an art form, delivered with as much cynicism, dismissiveness, and nastiness as they can muster. (As an aside, I have long felt that this fact offers a partial explanation for the Bush Family’s very requited love of the British royals). With their empire, the British ravaged the world. As an example, just look at what became of the once beautiful Indian sub-continent. To the Brits, with their on-going colonial attitudes and obsession with class, everyone else is a wog, or, at best, a servant. My experiences have taught me that, to the Brits, the world exists to feed the whims of arrogant, ill educated, been to the best schools twits. It was an attitude that existed during their years of empire and it’s an attitude that has persisted into modern times. It’s an attitude that even my few British friends over the years have copped to. To the British, everyone else is “the colonies,” especially us. At my long ago employer, that is what the American office and our country was, at all times, referred to, even though the American division kept the company afloat for years. “The colonies;” the world is their playground. It was the same before the Boston Tea Party and it is still the same. If they didn’t learn anything in 1776, they won’t now.
Watching Hayward on morning shows like Fox and Freaks and the execrable Wal-Mart style, lowest common denominator worshiping, Today Show featuring the embarrassing Matt Lauer and whatever the latest doe-eyed Muffy-Bimbi-Bambi-Bimbo mannequin they partner him with has Hayward on so much that I expect an announcement soon that he has joined the regular Today Show lineup. But, the only lineup Hayward should be in is something else entirely. Maybe he can do the summer beach reports. It boggles the mind how our corporate media continues to crap all over itself by having such people as Hayward and BP COO Doug Settles on to spew their cynical bullcrap mountain of lies. The latest estimates of gallons gushed into the sea by BP are between 12 times on the low end and 24 times on the high end over what Hayward has offered in his chats with the morning television idiots who just lap up whatever he serves, offering softball questions in return. We got better, more accurate warhead counts from the Soviets during the Cold War than we get from Tony Hayward. At the very least, if we have to be assaulted with the visages of the Phi Beta Kappas of the corporate criminal class, the network buffoons should have the good sense and the good taste to dress them up in the day-glo orange jumpsuits that they should be wearing for the rest of their lives. These modern day Lex Luthors should also be flanked by a couple of very burly Homeland Security cops. We are witnessing a media run PR rehabilitation campaign for Hayward’s and BP’s image. Next, Hayward’s corporate media brethren will have him on QVC selling Bio-Green Clean. President Obama has informed us that BP has already contracted for $50 Million in “Gee, we’re really swell people ads.” No, you’re not. You never were and you never will be. It never occurs to the Tony Haywards of the world that that $50 Million could be spent for better things right now; just like the $50 BILLION that BP intends to pay out to its shareholders this quarter. Just walk down to the water’s edge Tony, and keep walking all the way to South America. Learn what it is to be a brown pelican that will never fly again. Keep your $1000 shoes and your custom silk socks on. They’ll weigh you down faster. Ah, if only I was in charge! Maybe, I’d let him off easy and have him spend the rest of his days cleaning beaches in the hot summer sun from sunup to sundown, with zero UV protection. At night, he’d have to sleep on the beach, with no tent and no bug repellent. I’d give him two meals a day that would consist of whatever oil soaked fauna and seaweed washed up on the beaches. Then again, maybe he should just do 35 years of community service cleaning the toilets at New York’s Penn Station with his own toothbrush. Oh wait, he’s British, they don’t brush, or floss either.

Does a rogue multinational enemy of the United States get to not only buy off the permit and safety processes, and Congress, but also game the court system too? Clearly, that is the plan. Meanwhile, there is the ongoing media rehabilitation endeavor that not only tries to present Hayward as a man of character but BP, working with “our” government, is limiting what we actually get to see. On Thursday, there were the aforementioned contradictory reports that BP even got the FAA to expand a no fly zone so that media cameras couldn’t get a view of the worst damage. Whether or not the reports are true, it does recall the incidents where  CBS crews and New York Daily News crews got threatened with arrest. It fits the profile. Hayward demonstrates that no one can do arrogance and insensitivity any better than he. He comes by it naturally.  We’ll see if his new PR flak can save the day for him. Hey, look how good people feel about her last client! Meanwhile, we know Hayward and the rest of those who run BP will probably never see the inside of a jail but there may be civil if not any meaningful criminal trials. The media story the last few days has centered around President Obama saying the perps will be brought to justice “if they broke the law.” That’s pretty cagey in a world where the laws have already been written to protect the corporate vermin and put them above the law. We saw that with what happened on Wall Street and we’ll see it again. In fact, as punishment, WE PAID THEM EXTRA! Pardon me if I’m cynical about the kings of cynicism. I can’t help but feel that President Obama is just saying the words so many people want to hear. That is the art of being a politician. “Accountability” is the current meaningless buzzword of the day in Washington, a city where words are only uttered with crossed fingers behind the back in the first place. Obama knows the system. He has played it well. He knows that the laws are written by corporations who pay Congress with “campaign contributions” to rubber-stamp them. The fix is in. The “independent” commission (white wash) with a pre-determined outcome is being assembled. The show must go on! The charade will continue and continue as long as the masses keep buying into it. If, after changing the oil in my car, I go to the beach and dump the old oil into the surf, I will get a hefty fine. If BP gets a fine, it not only can never be enough, there’s probably already a loophole in a law provided by Congress somewhere that says they can write the fine off as a cost of doing business. At that point, we the taxpayers, will be paying BP’s fine while Hayward laughs and pockets a bonus. In case you are wondering about whether or not BP, Halliburton, or Transocean pay taxes into the U.S. Treasury, you needn’t bother. Our government allowed them to move out of our country to avoid taxes. In fact, they gave them the incentive to do so. Halliburton moved their “home office” to Dubai, just as a for instance. Transocean is now located in the seaside land of Switzerland. The yodeling you hear there will not be seagulls, dead or otherwise.
It could certainly be argued that the Obama presidency will be defined by how he deals with the imbalance of power that favors corporate America over its people now more than ever. His biggest problem may be that the marriage between Washington politicians and corporate maggots is so tight that is completely symbiotic and mutually parasitic. The Wall Street crisis taught them nothing. The circles these people travel in are mutually reinforcing a small-minded out of date belief system. Washington is nearly always the last to know what’s going on in America. Its accepted realities are built on assumptions that haven’t been true since the 1950s. When the only people you interact with operate under the same assumptions and worldview, you tend to trust what they say. When your partner tells you something you believe it. I suspect that that is at the root of President Obama’s and the rest of Washington believing Tony Hayward when he told them “not to worry, nothing to see here.” Hayward tried to cover up his malfeasance but there was no hiding something this big under the bed. That may have worked back when he was three and broke a vase or something, but, not in the big real grown up world. Washington enables a culture of “getting away with it”; not this time?
Washington and the corporate world need to divorce, but the money flows both ways in the relationship. They are dependent on each other. It’s codependency. All of that money and glad-handing buys a lot of blinders and good will. The very nature of politics usually precludes integrity. You lie to get votes. Period. Debates shouldn’t be held with the debaters behind podiums. Debates should be held with the debaters sitting in lie-detector chairs. Campaign Finance Reform is an obvious solution but how are we ever going to get it when the vast majority of those who would vote on it are so deeply on the take? Politico is reporting that Halliburton has stepped up its contributions to congressional members who are on the committees that have oversight of Hayward’s gusher, particularly dependable notorious corporate shills like Richard Burr (R-NC) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA).

I always think that we need to view these things with a different perception and not the one that we get from the fairy tales we are constantly fed by faces on the TV machine. Question authority. My perception is that we are not much different than a classic cartoon banana republic. The irony of it all hits its peek when some political lowlife who’s in bed with corporations whines about people that “just want a handout.”

We talk about a dependence on oil but to break that, Washington will first have to break up the family. Let’s see some handcuffs, leg irons and orange jumpsuits! Meanwhile, what we do get from BP and their defenders is the equivalent of the proverbial teenage street criminal being hauled out of the subway saying “I didn’t do nothin’ man.” I would be pleasantly shocked if Washington ever “got to the bottom” of all of this. That would be the stuff of real fairy tales. Just what were the roles of Bush & Cheney? We never did get to see Cheney’s famous secret meeting notes from his Big Oil Confab and Pool Party? Nope. A suspect “supreme” Court judge named Scalia made sure of that; another Bush Crime Family appointee just like the one Hayward wants in Houston. Obama’s words are just words. As a politician, he almost has to say what he has said in order to try to cool off the public anger, but until Hayward, Suttles, and some of the other perps serve 20 years of hard time with no chance of parole, they are just meaningless words. If any of these perps thought there really was a chance that they might really face justice someday, they would have already left the country for Uruguay or some other country that we don’t have an extradition agreement with. Tony Hayward, the BP board and their enablers in our government, past and present, should be considered flight risks and be taken into custody and held without bail. “Not gonna happen,” as Daddy Bush would say. William Snape, a law professor at my alma mater, American University speaking in reference to environmental laws such as the Clean Water Act says:
“I’d say the odds are greater than 50/50 that someone will get jail time or a probationary sentence.”

There you go; probation. Big damn deal! So ****** what! “The court hereby sentences you (insert designated scapegoat/minor player) to 2 years of probation which you can serve at your office or tropical vacation resort of your choice.” Remember when the Watergate perps got sentenced to Tennis Camp?  I’ll never forget the photo of Nixon plumber Egil “Bud” Krough arriving for his blistering punishment with tennis racquet in hand. Nixon didn’t go to jail where he belonged so don’t expect Tony Hayward to. Nixon, in fact, got a pension and several Senators and media hacks said things like “No one wants to see a President go to jail.” Really? Do you need any more evidence as to how out of touch they are in Washington?  

 President Obama has sent Attorney General Eric Holder to the Gulf area. The FBI is “on the case,” but, unless there has been some unseen “change we can believe in”, we can expect that, right this very minute, Obama’s Commission is in some back room in D.C., pouring over the names of the meth heads and the johns in the Minerals Management Service or, maybe at the Department of the Interior, looking for some “designated jailbirds.” These blue ribbon commissioners are always assigned a predetermined outcome. The scope of the investigation is limited by a set of rules when it comes to what they can look for and how far afield they can go in their search for “the truth.” The best example of this may be when LBJ told the Warren Commission that America must believe that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. Another example would be when the bogus 9/11 Commission permitted Bush and Cheney not only to testify without being under oath but to testify together so they could keep their stories straight. It was a case of “Please testify, pretty please come testify, and by the way, feel free to lie to your cold dark hearts’ content.” I said last week that Interior Secretary will be getting the Medal Of Freedom soon. It’s the proverbial gold watch of our time. He’ll get a nice thank you for his service too! Service to whom and for what end?
Yes, our legal system is more sophisticated than China’s. That doesn’t mean our system dispenses the kind of justice that Tony Hayward and others should be getting. The justice that Tony Hayward will get is not the same as what someone who is not a corporate or political asswipe would get. It’s part of that Two Americas thing. The laws are written by the worst of our society to protect the worst of our society, from us. The 30 years of rampant deregulation laws written by corporations and willingly passed by a Congress whose pockets get stuffed with cash on a near daily basis made sure of that. “Exemptions” magically appeared for at least 18 other oil rigs permits in the Gulf that are the same as the ones BP got for the Deepwater Horizon. If one such permit gave us the current tragedy, what will the next 18 lead us to? It’s all a sick design that amounts to being a permission slip or a get out of jail free card. In Washington, they know that there’s a sucker born every second. Make that 2, no 5! Obama can summon the maximum DC facetiousness and mouth the words about “if they broke the law, they will be brought to justice” and naïve people will buy it but he knows there are plenty of loopholes in the laws. He is a lawyer after all, or is it before all?

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At 7:49 AM, Anonymous me said...

"Obama can summon the maximum DC facetiousness and mouth the words about “if they broke the law, they will be brought to justice”"

That's pretty much what he said about Bush's myriad crimes. And Obama did nothing - less than nothing - about them.

I'm getting to hate that guy. What a goddamned phony he turned out to be.

At 8:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Posted this here once before, and thought the subject matter deserved a reprise.

The Gulf

"The water was fouled at once,
but they drank it none the less,
a mess of mud and blood"
- Thucydides

Oil on the water
blood on the sands
cruel and unusual
big business plans
eleven souls dying
then countless more
fellow live beings
damn big business whores
crude in their veins
greedy slick hearts
their making a killing
rips us apart
big oil at the table
pounds on its chest
keeps us addicted
kills all the rest
what becomes of our world
what becomes of our pride
what becomes of our lives
when death comes with the tide

Larry Piltz
Austin, TX
(from Back Bay,
Biloxi, MS)


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