Diary

Congressman Barton has a Point about BP

Republican congressman Joe Barton of Texas has taken a huge amount of heat for apologizing to BP chief executive Tony Hayward over the government’s actions in extracting from BP a promise to set up a $20 billion fund to cover losses in the Gulf region over the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

 

Barton, an oil industry supporter, said in his opening statement at the House Energy and Commerce Committee on June 17 as Hayward waited to testify:

 

“I’m not speaking for anybody in the House of Representatives but myself, but I’m ashamed of what happened in the White House yesterday (the $20 billion deal). I think it is a tragedy of the first proportion that a private corporation can be subjected to what I would characterize as a shakedown. In this case a $20 billion shakedown.”

 

Later, Barton said to Hayward: “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, is subject to some sort of political pressure that is, again, in my words — amounts to a shakedown, so I apologize.” (end of Barton quote)

 

To the politically-correct media and the perpetually indignant enviro movement, Barton’s words are heresy. But in fact Barton has a point, and good for him for saying it. Only problem is he is speaking in a frantic, irrational world, and taking a stand that is politically unpopular in the frenzy of the moment.

 

The Gulf oil spill has all the makings of over-the-top liberal hysteria – a big corporation, corrupt government regulators, ignored regulations, oily marshes and beaches, and cranky outrage from everyone from fishermen to the enviro kooks. But what is missing?

 

It is a measured response to the crisis. Because this is a once-in-a-generation accident. And the accident has happened. So let’s man up, dry our tears and think rationally.

 

First, Hayward and his buddies at BP are rich corporate executives reigning over one of the biggest companies in the world. They are part of a critical supply link in the world economy. In public relations, however, they sound decidedly cold-hearted like when Hayward said “I want my life back” after the spill.

 

Uh, yeah, Tony. Lots of other people want their lives back too. Like the people of Louisiana.

 

Then Hayward was seen at the yacht races in England as the spill worsened.

 

Good move, idiot.

 

Then when BP chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg said that “I hear comments sometimes that large oil companies are greedy companies or don’t care, but that is not the case with BP. We care about the small people,” the media went nuts about the “small people” comment but without any consideration for the fact that Svanberg, who is Swedish, simply mistranslated his feelings into English. Then again, in a situation like this with a target like BP, the media give no benefit of the doubt.

 

Unfortunately these are statements coming from BP executives who often have appeared like they don’t care much about the crisis. But hey, drilling for oil is different from releasing a new perfume. And their hard-boiled personas are what make them good oil industry execs making decisions in a tough, risky industry, but really bad guests on The Tonight Show.

 

Then again, all language today is being scoured for political heterodoxy. A writer at the Huffington Post even pointed out that congressman Barton has spoken up in defense of the oil industry before, citing this quote from 2004:

 

“Offshore drilling and productions platforms are so technologically advanced that one platform on the surface of the water can handle production from several different wells several miles apart, house a myriad of technologically advances computer systems, enable people to face and conquer the adversities of living in the middle of the ocean, and do so for 24 hours a day, seven days a week, all without losing so much as losing a gum wrapper over the side of the platform. It is truly amazing.” (end of Barton quote)

 

Of course, to the East coast media elite, that’s a really audacious comment that deserves to be exposed for all the world to see. But this statement is simply a routine expression of fact. These new technologies are amazing. And you know what else? The New York Times and the Huffington Post have contributed not a scintilla toward creating them.

 

Such an innocuous comment would strangely be seen as an insult to leftists and environmentalists who produce zero energy, but always have a boot handy to step on the throat of people who really do get their hands dirty producing the world’s petroleum supply.

 

This is not to somehow minimize the Gulf oil spill – it is a catastrophe. And BP should pay all legitimate claims. But not under Obama’s political threat, as if we are living in the Soviet Union, which was Barton’s point. Meanwhile, Obama has appointed a commission to look into the spill that has no oil-industry people on it.

 

If we wish to continue to have a viable energy supply, we need to accept the bad with the good. Unfortunately, this spill is very, very bad and BP has acted stupidly. Then again, Obama and the federal government have acted just as stupidly, often contributing much to the disaster, for instance by keeping foreign oil-skimming ships out because their presence would have displeased American labor unions under the Jones Act.

 

By the way, where is the apology from environmentalists for forcing oil drilling out into deeper and more dangerous waters by restricting drilling everywhere else?

 

Now about congressman Barton’s apology to BP: It is an example of sentiments by one person out of tens of millions of Americans who have reached a boiling point and who see the Obama White House once again acting precipitously and without any real legal authority when it comes to Other People’s Money. Watch where this BP money goes. Obama’s cronies are going to be stealing a chunk of it as they always circle like hogs around a trough when there is money to be handed out.

 

Then look at the Obama economic record. His policies have not only produced zero wealth for the nation, but have destroyed wealth by the trillions. Yet when it comes to transferring wealth from one group that Democrats disdain – like taxpayers or BP – and giving it to other groups and then taking credit for the Big Switcheroo, Obama just glows as if he has really achieved something.

 

This is a pattern with Obama – in the firing of the General Motors chief; in the freezing out of bondholders at Chrysler and the transfer of 55% of the company’s stock to unions; or the shutting down of offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and then expecting BP to pay laid-off workers. His actions indeed look like those of  a supreme leader or a czar, not an elected leader in a Constitutional republic acting under the rule of law.

 

Thus when congressman Barton apologizes to Hayward, he is talking about something much deeper – about an abridgement of freedom and due process that is disturbing to many, many Americans. This is the slippery slope that citizens from Tea Partiers to other Constitutionalists are warning about. So congressman Barton should be commended for standing up for principle over politically-correct politics in these trying times when the tide is running against his way of thinking.

 

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