Friday, June 18, 2010

Oh, it just gets better and better.

So, even the Republican leadership felt that Rep. Joe Barton went a little overboard yesterday and forced him (by threatening to take away a powerful position he holds) to apologize. Which he did - sort of. He apologized for using the term "shakedown".

Why is this man so intent on defending the indefensible? Well, aside from the $27,500 BP has paid him over the years, he's gotten enough from other oil companies to total out at about $1.5 million.

And - and - he owns a gas well - which has already earned over $100,000 from his investment. At a hearing in January (2010) of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Barton said he was "a small, small partner in a natural gas well in Johnson County in the Barnett Shale that is probably my 4-year-old son's college education." Uh, huh. In an interview, he also said, "I'm trying to provide a little bit of financial security for my family and do it honestly, ethically and openly". Okay . He purchased his interest from longtime friend and Texas businessman Walter G. Mize.

Mize had been a longtime cattleman, when he suddenly bought out Lothian Oil (based in Texas) which at that time had assumed all debt for United Heritage Corporation. Mize immediately became the CEO and Chairman of the board for UHC - which owns land in Texas and New Mexico which had an  aprox. 275 million barrels of oil underneath it --- and lots and lots of Natural Gas.

For his part, Rep. Barton acknowledges paying somewhere between $15,000 and $50,000 for his interest in the wells. All this just happened to occur in 2007 (Mize died in 2008) when  the price of natural gas skyrocketed from about $7 to nearly $11 per thousand cubic foot.  Gee, that's the same time frame that BP (out of its Texas offices) manipulated the price of natural gas, for which they paid a $303 million + fine.

Ah, sweet mysteries of life.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


For almost two weeks now, I've been trying to start writing the follow up to my investigations into StandardOil/BP/Gulf/Exxon/Chevron&etc. history and politics, and how they affect the Gulf  Oil Spill. I did, after all, promise to write my conclusions as to just what the hell might be really going on - but every time I try, something else crops up that I wanted to check into. And sometimes there have been moments so ludicrous that if this weren't such a serious situation, I'd laugh my ass off. Actually, because this is such a serious situation I have laughed my ass off. And just when you think nothing can ever top the latest moment of sheer stupidity. someone does it!

Start, for instance, with BP's Chief Executive Officer Tony Hayward's quote, "There's no one who wants this thing over more than I do, I'd like my life back." or "The Gulf of Mexico is a very big ocean. The amount of volume of oil and dispersant we are putting into it is tiny in relation to the total water volume."

Or this from BP Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg:
"And we care about the small people. I hear comments sometimes that large oil companies are greedy companies or don't care. But that is not the case in BP. We care about the small people." (Best blog comment  - I'll bet the Lollipop Guild was pleased to hear that.)

But the best (so far) happened today at the Congressional hearings with BP execs.
Rep. Joe Barton ( R - Texas) who used to be the chair of  the Energy and Commerce Committee, apologized to BP and Tony Hayward saying, "I am ashamed of what happened in the White House yesterday, that a private corporation would be subject to what I would characterize as a shake down,"
and this topper, "I apologize…I do not want to live in a country where any time a citizen or a corporation does something that is legitimately wrong it is subject to political pressure that amounts to a shake down."

I'm not making this up, you know. Here's the whole sorry thing - the  good stuff starts about 1 min and 40 seconds in...

Now, if you are wondering why he made such idiotic statements, you  might note that over the years, BP has donated $27,350 to his campaigns. Which is  kind of paltry considering they donated $44,899 to John McCain, or George W Bush's $47,388. Their top contribution? $77,051 to Barak Obama. Which may help explain why the Prez took so damn long to do anything.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


When I lived in New York City, today (June 16th) was a good day to go to the Symphony Space at what? 95th? and Broadway. Any number of people there, some of them famous, would read from James Joyce's "Ulysses". All day and late into the night.

Other folks used to read sections all night on WBAI it would end around 2 o'clock in the morning with Molly's soliloquy - at 8 sentences long it comprises the last chapter of the book and has exactly two punctuation marks it's about 90 pages long and "...I was a Flower of the mountain yes when I put the rose in my hair like the Andalusian girls used or shall I wear a red yes and how he kissed me under the Moorish wall and I thought well as well him as another and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes. "

It's not at really that special of a day today, it's kind of an ordinary, regular day.

It's a good day to go for a long walk through and around your own town.

It's a good day to stop at the local pub for a gorgonzola cheese sandwich and a glass of wine.

And it's a good day to howl the eternal yes.

(above left - young James Joyce)
(above center - Davy Byrnes, a moral pub)
(below - Stephen Colbert as Leo at Symphony Space)