Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Duke of Oil

Rahm Emanuel said that it looks like BP CEO Tony Hayward finally got his life back. There are millions of people who live along the Gulf Coast that wish they could say the same. Before Hayward's appearance in front of Congress, no one had said, "I don't remember" that many times since Alberto Gonzalez. It bought him his ticket back to England, however, and the torch was passed to another corporate shill. However, was it necessary for him to go directly to a yacht race? BP gave the job of Face Man, to Bob Dudley, a Mississippi boy. At least he can speak Southern and he did a good job as director of the Liberty Bowl. And Hayward was forgiven and absolved of his sins by Rep. Joe Barton of Texas, who personally apologised for the "shakedown" by the White House that holds BP accountable for the disaster. Simultaneously, the twin conservative calender girls, Palin and Bachmann, came to BP's defense. Bachmann, who needs to be in the witless protection program, claimed the escrow account was "extortion," while the original "Drill Baby Drill" gal said on Fox "News," that BP was being "demonized." All this, while oil continues to gush into the Gulf and BP and their affiliates have been caught in a pattern of deliberate lies.

A book was published in 1958 called "The Ugly American," by Eugene Burdick and William Lederer. It was actually an espionage novel that was made into a movie starring Marlon Brando, and the title referred to the arrogant American diplomats serving in Indochina. But it has since come to represent the loud and obnoxious American tourist abroad, oblivious to the sensitivities and customs of their hosts. Tony Hayward was the flip side of that coin. Every time he made another public statement, the victims of this outrage grew angrier and more frustrated with the state of BP's clean-up effort. All except the region's fish and wildlife, the true victims of this atrocity, who have no voice to express their rage and become collateral damage to the oil industry and their congressional lackeys like Barton. When you add the remarks of Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg, a vocal double for Arnold Schwarzenegger, that BP cares "about the small people," to the grossly inappropriate, "I want my life back," from Haywood, you've got a couple of clueless, wild-and-crazy-guys who just can't quite seem to master that corporate sincerity thing. Even  Hayward saying he was "deeply sorry," only served to remind that BP does everything deeply.

The latest outrage comes from British retirees who are heavily invested in BP. The June 17 headline of London's' Daily Mail read: "Obama Bullies BP Into Fund for Oil Spill Victims, but British Pensioners will Pick Up the Bill." I wonder who could be stoking these anti-Obama passions in Great Britain. Could it be..."SATAN?" No, it's his brother, Rupert Murdoch, who owns the paper. So, allow me to say to the elderly English investors who got their dividends postponed, with all due respect, "Shut the fuck up." This isn't about you. If Exxon or DuPont came over and bespoiled the white cliffs of Dover, your reaction would be much the same. This is about a heartless international conglomerate that has been gouging the earth for over a hundred years and leaving wreckage in their global wake, that happens to be named British Petroleum. Oh, I'm sorry. I forgot they changed the name to Beyond Principles or Bloated Profits, or whatever the hell it is now. A tarball by any other name would smell as foul. The good people of the UK are up in arms with Obama and the Congress over what they perceive to be a growing anti-British sentiment. There's no greater Anglophile than me, but if we wanted to be upset with you, it would have been over Tony Blair's enabling of Dubya to wage war. We eagerly look to your current inquiry into the Iraqi war to produce justice, just as our inquiry into the Gulf disaster should do the same.

The problems with BP are legion; from their cozy relations with government, massive violations and fines, the 2005 explosion at a Texas City, TX refinery that killed fifteen people, and for which BP was charged with criminal environmental violations. The list is easily researched. But let's go back and pick up a golden oldie, all the way from 1953, when the Korean War was in a stalemate, a commie scare had infected Congress, and Ike was on the golf course. The Iranian people had democratically elected a president named Mohammad Mosaddeq, who took a look around at the British owned Anglo-Persian Oil Company, which had been extracting Iranian oil since 1908, and decided to nationalize the oil fields. The CIA, with assistance from their British counterparts, began a smear campaign, calling Mosaddeq a Communist, and organized a military coup that toppled the president and replaced him with Shah Reza Pahlavi, whose U.S. trained secret police, SAVAK, terrorized the populace for the next 25 years. Mosadeqq spent the rest of his life under house arrest. The next year, the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, fresh oil leases in hand, changed their name to British Petroleum. Consequently, in a circular way, BP shares responsibility for the Iranian Revolution.

We're currently getting fishing boats trying to lift oil from the surface of the water when what we really need is a Marshall Plan for the Gulf. Where are all these massive oil skimmers that BP keeps referring to, and now that a homeboy is the spokesman, can he see the ecological tragedy that has been unleashed by his corporate masters? And still, Governor Bobby Jindal and his GOP "free marketeers" protest a moratorium on further drilling until this case can be investigated. The latest conservative talking point is that this disaster is the fault of the effete environmentalists whose limitations on shallow water drilling forced the oil companies to go deeper. They went where no man has gone before because that's where the damn oil is, bubba. The only thing as atrocious as this continuing oil hell has been the Republicans defense of the industry. In order to try and damage Obama, they are willing to put our very habitat at risk for political power. It has been widely reported that Joe Barton would become head of the House Energy and Commerce Committee should the GOP magically regain a legislative majority in the forthcoming election, so it would be wise to remember the words of early American financier Simon Cameron: "An honest politician is one who, when he is bought, will stay bought."

A Haspel hat tip to Bill Day.


Anonymous said...

OOPS you did it again!Great writing and so "on the mark". When are you going to write a book?

Anonymous said...

Excellent article, Randy. Among others, i really liked the "witless protection program".
But it's not just BP -it's the whole goddam oil industry and everything connected to it that's destroying the planet. Shell, in Nigeria, has been destroying a major part of Nigeria for decades, and the Western press pretty well ignores it. Shit, just a buncha Africans bein poisoned... And wasn't it Union Carbide that caused the Bhopal disaster, and what compensation did those folks ever get? Diddly squat, is what.

Obama is totally right -at least the rhetoric is- that the addiction to oil is a threat to the U.S.'s national security.