Joe Barton apologizes for your misconstrusion

By Phil Plait | June 18, 2010 2:33 pm

I know I’ve been picking on Texas a lot lately, but c’mon guys, you keep electing people like this!

joebarton_gusherJoe Barton (R-TX) is the Representative for a landlocked (i.e., non-Gulf shore) district of Texas in the U.S. Congress, and happens to be the biggest recipient in that august body of money from the oil and gas industry ($1.7 million over the past 20 years). I’m sure that had no impact at all on his wanting to make the cringe-worthingly embarrassing apology to BP exec Tony Hayward when Hayward was getting his head handed to him by every other member of Congress yesterday. Barton said the $20 billion restitution fund was a White House "shakedown" and "a tragedy of the first proportion", and then clearly apologized to Hayward for it.

It’s hard to imagine a political low-point in this entire, vast environmental disaster, but I think Barton pretty much nailed it. In the most brain-asplodey way possible.

But wait! There’s less!

Barton, after getting eviscerated online and in the media, decided to apologize again. And for what did he apologize? Basically, he apologized because we — the public and the media — misunderstood what he said.

"I want to be absolutely clear that I think BP is responsible for this accident, should be held responsible and should in every way do everything possible to make good on the consequences that have resulted from this accident," he said. "And if anything I said this morning has been misconstrued to the opposite effect I want to apologize for that misconstrued misconstruction."

[Emphasis mine]

<sarcasm>Certainly, there was no way any rational person could possibly interpret what he said as Barton thinking BP wasn’t responsible for the accident. I’m glad he made that clear. And I’m glad he apologizes for the entire planet having misconstrued what he said.</sarcasm>

Sigh. Nothing makes insincerity more glaringly obvious than when someone says "I’m sorry you misunderstood me."* Politicians, let me help you out here: that’s not an apology. In fact, it’s the exact opposite of an apology.

An apology, see, is when you say you’re sorry for something you did. In a very real way, it’s taking responsibility for that action. When you phrase it like Barton did, it’s actually a shifting of blame, and therefore you are not taking responsibility for that action.

I hope this helps y’all come re-election time. This has been a Public Service Announcement, brought to you by reality.

Tip o’ the top hat to Fark.



*To Barton’s (minuscule) credit, he also said, "I regret the impact that my statement this morning implied that BP should not pay for the consequences of their decisions and actions in this incident." He used the word "implied" — which points back to his own words (had he said "inferred", that would again put the blame on us). However, saying he "regrets the impact" once again points to us, not him. So even here I’m not willing to cut him a whole lot of slack.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Piece of mind, Politics

Comments (122)

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  1. Do you ever wonder if politicians have ANY common sense? I can’t think WHY he thought this was a good move politically. It was a pre-planned comment – not even off the cuff.

    I believe it was Republican Leadership that required him to apologize for his apology. When your own party shuns you, its not a good thing.

  2. Barton sure did unload some weapons-grade WTF at that hearing. How on earth any politician could be THAT far out of touch (not just with the People, but with REALITY itself), is beyond me. Especially in this day and age! Not to mention the wide-ranging media coverage of this disaster, and near universal condemnation of BP’s response to it, as well as the clear documentation of their shoddy practices before and during the crisis, I don’t see how he could be so blatantly oblivious to the issues involved. The man obviously was/is moving away from sanity so fast, he’s red-shifting.

  3. Yep, you’re right. That wasn’t an apology but a shift of blame. My favorite quote by John Burroughs comes to mind:

    A man can fail many times, but he isn’t a failure until he begins to blame somebody else.

  4. cerberus40

    @#1. Non-Believer:

    But Joe Barton was just repeating Republican Party talking points (including the “shakedown” term) since Tony Hayward’s meeting at the White House. He probably thought the apology was due in return for the money the oil industry has given him over the years, but what he was apologizing for isn’t original.

  5. Brian T.

    Won’t someone please think of the poor oil companies? I really hate living in Texas sometimes.

  6. Darth Wader

    Here in Texas we do things big. We just happen to stupid often.

  7. jcm

    Sigh.

    “Politicians, let me help you out here: that’s not an apology. In fact, it’s the exact opposite of an apology.”

    That would a non-apology apology.

  8. http://joebartonwouldliketoapologize.com/
    “Joe Barton would like to apologize to: darth vader, for blowing up the death star (twice!). that thing must have cost a lot of money to build. tell you what, we’ll write you a check for it from the american taxpayer. copacetic? “

  9. Do you ever wonder if politicians have ANY common sense? I can’t think WHY he thought this was a good move politically. It was a pre-planned comment – not even off the cuff.

    These people live in a bubble. If you examine what he said in his apology, it’s almost verbatim what many of the Republican Senators said to Alberto Gonzales during the hearings into the attorney firings. Barton was just taking a page from the standard playbook, but failed to appreciate just how angry the public is with BP. Blame it on the bubble.

    And his non-apology to the apology is really no different from any of the various non-apologies that Bush 43 and other politicians have made. While Barton was justifiably raked over the coals for his apology to BP, I’m afraid that he’s actually going to get away with his non-apology. :-(

  10. Betsy

    The people who elected him don’t read this blog!

  11. Kaptain K

    “I do not want to live in a country where…”

    News flash! Mr. Barton, nobody’s holding a gun to your head!
    Don’t let the door hit you on your way out!

  12. David P.

    Barton’s district is just south of Dallas, so he occasionally appears here on the local news. He is a long time politician who does stunts for votes. The ill-fated Superconducting Super Collider was in his district, providing jobs and money to his constituency. Back in the 1990′s when the SSC project was about to be cancelled, in an weird TV moment, Joe Barton led a prayer circle for the cameras on the evening news, asking God to save the Super Collider. I still think of that stunt every time I see him.

  13. I think he owes the English language an apology while he’s at it.

    He’s got a lot to apologize for, really.

  14. upgrayedd

    hey no worries phil about texas bashings lately. we’re big, so we have a lot of room for fail. not a week goes by without a fml moment from a texas politician or someone on a schoolboard somewhere /headdesk

    by the way, if you wanna see some grade a gerrymandering, take a look at his district. wow.

    ahh the ssc, brings a tear to my eyes. would love to have the black holes in my own back yard rather than over there at the lhc.

  15. Robin S

    Oy! That comment came from further afar than left field. It came from so far out there that SETI likely detected it. In an effort to try and understand what Barton may have been thinking, I watched ever video and read every article I could find on his comments and the $20 billion escrow account to be funded by BP. After all the reading, watching, and critical cogitating, I’m at a loss to find an explanation for that comment other than political machination or buffoonery. Note that a Republican committee–I forget the title–said essentially the same thing as Barton a bit earlier.

    I’ve tried seeing this from a different point of view, but it’s just not working. So, I’ll pose a few questions to BA followers:

    How/why is it such a big deal that AG Holder was in the meeting with Obama and Hayward? To me it would seem wise to have the AG there to be sure anything suggested was legal and above board. I don’t see DoJ’s ongoing investigation into the Deepwater Horizon accident is impaired or impugned by Holder’s presence.

    How can an escrow account managed by an independent party be a “shakedown”, especially when any funds not used go right back to BP?

    How can said account be a shakedown by the US Govt when the US Govt doesn’t and can’t profit from said funds? After all, it’s the individuals and small businesses economically damaged by the spill that are to be compensated from the escrow account. Compensation to the US Govt and other entities for clean up costs is done outside of that escrow account.

    There is no hope for humanity if this guy, Barton, is re-elected. I’ll bet, if you took off his shirt, you’d find a BP tramp stamp on his back.

  16. Ad Hominid

    This is not the first time Barton has come to the attention of the reality-based community:

    GOP Climate Denier Profile: Rep. Joe Barton

    Barton is also a creationist who called young earth crank Calvin Beisner to testify as an expert witness at a hearing entitled, “Preparing for Climate Change: Adaptation Polities and Programs.”

    Barton’s solution to climate change? Find some shade:

    It’s a perfect storm of antiscience corruption: Corporate sycophancy, climate change denial, and creationism rolled into one weasel-eyed package.

  17. Brian

    In fact, it’s the exact opposite of an apology.

    … which is sometimes referred to as a “notpology”.

  18. cgray

    Hilarious. “Brought to you by reality.” You wouldn’t know reality if it walked up and bit you on your worthless liberal ass. Take a look at Europe, idiot, it’s our future. Bankruptcy and riots. It’s going to be hellaciously funny watching you candyass liberals trying to survive in a world where you can no longer steal money from the people who earned it. Root, hog, or die–you “progressives” don’t stand a chance in hell. Ha.

  19. Cmatherly

    Lame Troll is Lame

  20. Lucas

    Phil, where’s the criticism of Obama’s handling of the Oil spill? You cherry pick an idiotic comment from a republican yet ignore the presidents mishandling of an environmental disaster? There’s bias and then theres Phil Plait bias.

    But everythings OK because phil says Obama actually supports the space program! he’ll get us to mars by 2050! By the way, Barton is from my district. I voted for him. He’s one of the biggest supporters of the space program and has said to the audience at a couple of townhalls I’ve attended that he wants to see us on mars by 2025. But he’s a republican :(

  21. Ad Hominid

    18. cgray

    Is that you, Congressman Barton?

  22. John Paradox

    17. Brian Says:
    June 18th, 2010 at 3:52 pm

    In fact, it’s the exact opposite of an apology.

    … which is sometimes referred to as a “notpology”.

    Well, there’s APhelion and PERIhelion, so maybe we could call it a PERIpology?

    J/P=?

    J/PS=?
    Boy, these folks in Texas, I’m so glad I live in Arizo… oops, SB1070 (AKA Papers Please)
    never mind…..

  23. Katharine

    I wonder if Joe Barton has ever set foot in college biology.

  24. Robin S., SETI may have detected his remark. Unfortunately, it failed to register as intelligent so the search goes on…

  25. NewEnglandBob

    Time for this cretin, Barton to resign in disgrace or he should be impeached as a traitor who is against the interest of the American public.

  26. Uh, cgray (19), one of the reasons for the bankruptcies across the world is because of our own economic collapse caused by greed and lack of regulation of the banking industry. So nice try, but bzzzzzt.

    And Lucas (21): I’m not happy with Obama’s response to all this, but I’m not yet ready to crucify him either like the media want to (in part to make more stories for themselves). I don’t think capping such a monster leak is all that easy, unlike a lot of armchair speculators. If it were, then I strongly suspect BP would have done it by now. The government is no better than the industry at fixing this.

    And hey, remember when the government getting involved with such things was considered rampant socialism? Yeah, good times.

    Also, the lack of regulation of the oil industry and years of corruption (now, whose Administration was that from, I wonder) is what made this happen in the first. It’ll take a while to fix that atmosphere, I’d wager.

  27. Oh, and by the way Lucas, I don’t care if Barton raises orphaned puppies he hand rescued from people who kicked them. His support of the space program is great (assuming you’re correct), but has nothing to do with the topic at hand. So at best you’re changing the subject.

  28. BJN

    Obviously it’s brain damage from all Barton’s years of breathing the fumes while feeding at the ventral cash orifice of Big Oil.

  29. David D.

    A daffy Republican congressman makes some stupid remark? THIS is the story BA focuses on?

    In the meantime, oil continues to pour into the Gulf. The Gulf Coast will not be the same for a really long time, but Joe Barton is the real problem here. Yeah, that’s right.

    The political circus on the Hill yesterday was disturbing on so many levels. There is NO ONE on either side of the aisle who is showing anything resembling leadership in this disaster (and I thought we had someone smart and different in the WH).

    Instead we get “let’s work over the BP execs” and “there’s an oil leak in the Gulf–hey let’s build some wind power.” What a freakin’ joke.

    Day 60–tick, tock . . .

  30. Michael

    @ cgray

    “Hilarious. ‘Brought to you by reality.’ You wouldn’t know reality if it walked up and bit you on your worthless liberal ass. Take a look at Europe, idiot, it’s our future. Bankruptcy and riots. It’s going to be hellaciously funny watching you candyass liberals trying to survive in a world where you can no longer steal money from the people who earned it. Root, hog, or die–you ‘progressives’ don’t stand a chance in hell. Ha.”

    The liberalization of our country has been a testament to any hope, foresightedness, and respect for human and other life that we may possess. It has brought us the end of legalized slavery, women’s and children’s rights, the right of the “common man,” , etc, etc. Many mistakes have been made along the way, but it’s all in striving for a better world for everyone, not just one in which you’re okay if you have more money or guns. Conservatism fights every movement that strives to equalize all men and women, and does it all in the name of what? Jesus? Homophobia? Gun rights? A “traditional” history that only exists on reruns of Ozzie and Harriet and Gunsmoke? Fear of the boogeyman?

    If the United States had been a liberal government from the start, we never would have had slavery. We never would have had Indian genocide (it’s easy to forget that the US’s treatment of the Cherokee people, who were trying to embrace their American future, is one of its sorriest, most loathsome chapters). Women, people who don’t own property and minorities – you know, those conservatively-defined second-class people? – would have had the right to vote from day one. The EPA, not the DEA, would be the draconian governmental department out to save the people!

    Instead, we’ve had slavery, the rich getting richer, the death of the small business, lax environmental laws, the oppression of women, children, and minorities, war mongering, and on and on.

    Shove your conservatism!

  31. Daffy

    Republicans will still support this guy because that’s what they do: they stick with their own no matter what. In a way, you have to envy such blind loyalty…but you should also be very, very afraid of it. Because no matter what these guys do, they are still Republicans and the party faithful will ALWAYS support them.

  32. I think the chances of a GOP sweep in the midterm elections has been greatly reduced. Barton’s kind words for Tony Hayward will be used in political advertisements across the nation for the time to come.

  33. Old Rockin' Dave

    Phil and his readers can do little about the spill. That is BP’s job, along with whatever experts from government, academia and the oil industry may be appropriate. The President is ultimately forced to rely on the experts – we have had two engineers as Presidents and you may recall how successful they were in the White House.
    Joe Barton is indeed part of the problem. He has been sucking up oil money in staggering quantities and there is certainly a quid pro quo expected. The oil industry has, let’s call it, a spotty record on the environment, global warming and energy conservation.
    What the President did, and what Barton was ass-kissing BP for, was to ensure that the money needed for recovery would be available and its disbursement will not be under BP’s control. That IS doing something that more than resembles leadership. He is also using the situation to push forward on renewable non-polluting energy, which you dismiss as “hey let’s build some wind power.”
    What are YOU doing about it?

  34. NAW

    Well I do agree the congressman made a verbal fool of himself, at least two times. But the main problem (the leak) needs to be fixed. And BP has shown this will not be an easy (or cheep) task. There will be time to find who is to blame for this, or if it was truly a really bad accident that happened at the worst time. So far 11 people have died, a large number of creatures of the gulf are in danger of dying (and my guess have died), people on both sides of the fence are looking at a loss of a lively hood and this is only the beginning. I really hope someone can put their minds together and stop the leak so a larger focus can be put into the cleanup of both the spill and (as a lot of people seem to think) the system that may have caused it.

  35. Paul in Sweden

    What has the EPA been occupying their time with instead of working on this problem from the onset?

    “INTRODUCTION WHEN A MAJOR oil spill occurs in the United States, coordinated teams of local, state, and national personnel are called upon to help contain the spill, clean it up, and ensure that damage to human health and the environment is minimized. Without careful planning and clear organization, efforts to deal with large oil spills could be slow, ineffective, and potentially harmful to response personnel and the environment. In the United States, the system for organizing responses to major oil spills is called the National Response System. This chapter describes the origins of the National Response System and outlines the responsibilities of the teams and individuals who plan for and respond to major oil spills in navigable waters.”
    http://www.epa.gov/oem/docs/oil/edu/oilspill_book/chap7.pdf

  36. I really should learn not to read comments after I’ve had my (short) say. But really, we want to talk about the response?

    I wish I could line up every person (including a few of the commentors here) who is kvetching about us not focusing on “plugging the leak” and slap them. I really do. The well head is a freaking mile below the surface of the ocean. (To understand relative depth, please see this handy illustration.) I’m sure everyone would like to tie off the well head, including the President and the CEO of BP. The fact of the matter is that so far they haven’t been able to, and at this point it is not going to happen until the relief wells are drilled, and we can only hope they manage to thread that needle on the first try.

    My jaw just about hit the floor the first time I heard some of the utterly vacuous things the Republicans are saying about this. As if the well is still spewing oil into the gulf because we’ve all dared to talk about related issues and haven’t been staring at it hard enough. As if fixing the technical problems inherent in deep water drilling is as simple as pointing as an engineer and saying, in a deep and authoritative voice, “Get the well plugged.” Oh, if only someone had told the president about that sooner, we’d all be just fine.

    The fact of the matter is that we’re well and properly boned, by a disaster that may have been prevented if:
    a) The corporate love bunnies in the government hadn’t done their level best to deregulate the oil industry, stuff the MMS full of cronies, and structure that regulatory body so that it wasn’t actually in the best interest of the regulators to, you know, regulate.
    b) We had actually charted a course to decrease our desperate societal need for oil back when people first started talking about it. Which would have been when Nixon was president.

    But no. There is a well head spewing oil into the Gulf of Mexico and there is literally nothing we can do about it, so we might as well do what we can. Which is punish those whose gross negligence made this disaster possible (and by this I mean BP and the MMS) and to do our best to ensure that it never happens again. And making sure that it never happens again? That ultimately means figuring out a way to work our society so that we don’t have to suck down a quarter of the oil produced in the world each year. And we might as well talk about it now, while the disaster unfolding every day adds a sense of urgency to at least some of the politicians, and is perhaps helping a few people understand that we are abusing and wasting a limited natural resource. It’s not like we can do anything else right now.

  37. Mary Kaye

    I’m puzzled by the “don’t distract BP” rhetoric.

    BP is not a person. It’s a huge company that employs tens of thousands of people. Some of them are engineers and are doubtless thinking hard about well capping right now. Some of them are lawyers, publicists, and accountants. What are they supposed to do about the spill? Get a bucket and bail? No, they are supposed to keep on doing their jobs, which includes paying for the damages and cooperating with the investigation.

    Giant multi-national corporations can do more than one thing at a time. Otherwise they could never have become giant multi-national corporations in the first place.

  38. David D.

    @Old Rockin’ Dave
    “Joe Barton is indeed part of the problem. He has been sucking up oil money in staggering quantities and there is certainly a quid pro quo expected.”

    Funny-no one has mentioned that Obama received quite a bit of Sacajaweas from BP. But I guess that’s okay, right?

    I’m glad that the WH did something to ensure that there would be compensation monies available for affected communities. I might suggest that the fund be administered by the states or the local communities rather than the Feds, for obvious reasons.

    And I disagree that this (day 60) is the time to push cap-and-trade or renewable energy or whatever–FIX THE DAMN LEAK FIRST! I am all for getting off of the oil teat, just like any other reasonable person. But there is a time and a place for this debate–and please, we can do a lot better than the Catholic indulgence-like cap and trade (wasn’t BP a big proponent of this scam, too?).

    I don’t expect Obama (or Congress) to personally plug the leak. But would the Jones Act be that hard to waive? How ’bout that Coast Guard, holding up the barges to make sure they had the proper number of life jackets? This is the kind of cr#p that “leadership” is about, not a moratorium on ALL offshore drilling.

    BTW, Old Rockin’ Dave, I’ve recently spent two weekends along the Coast–one in sout Louisiana, one over in Orange Beach, AL, volunteering for clean-up and doing my small part to support the local economies. I live in north Louisiana, but it’s still 5 hours to Grand Isle. Don’t remember seeing you there.

    Your snark is not amusing. So, what are YOU doing about it?

  39. Jesso

    @ #10, Betsy – Well, I didn’t elect him, because I didn’t vote for him, but I’m in his district and I promise you I will be sure that everyone I know hears about this man’s words, especially as elections come up.

    @#38, Rachel- Can we elect you for something? We need some level heads in politics.

  40. jasonB

    “Uh, cgray (19), one of the reasons for the bankruptcies across the world is because of our own economic collapse caused by greed and lack of regulation of the banking industry. So nice try, but bzzzzzt.”

    Oh Phil you card. It couldn’t be that our wonderful politicians have spent to much could it? Frank and Dodd ignored explicit warnings from the Bush administration about the oncoming crisis of Fannie and Freddie. Believe it or not it’s not just Republicans that cause problems.

    And yea maybe you should take our man-child president to task on this. He turned down international help very early on; from nations that had alot of experience in dealing with oil spills. But hey he did offer to raise taxes.

  41. NAW

    Well I guess you have to slap me. As I posted. I agree this is not going to be an easy or cheep task to do. And I really think BP has been trying their hardest to fix the problem. And as I also posted the problem(s) that seems to have caused this needs to be fixed. But who is really to blame here? That will be the main issue on digging through that part of this issue.

    Though the note of at least bringing down the amount of oil usage does need to be put into affect. But the main problem there is most of the US is just too lazy to do so, and we (and yes I count myself into the we here) are really quick to make exceptions. And sadly is not going to be a quick fix because of that.

    (I really like rereading a post before I post it, this was draft 4 the other 3 made me sound more of a jerk than this one did.)

  42. jerry

    It is painfully difficult to comprehend the realities of the rest of the world when your vision is obstructed by a fatty hemoroid.

  43. Leigh

    A bit of humor (that you will likely have already seen, but just in case):

    http://joebartonwouldliketoapologize.com/

  44. @NAW – the whole “most of the US is just too lazy” thing is WHY we need to be pushing this now, while there’s at least some sense of urgency. If we sit down and shut up now (because our priority needs to be plugging the well), and then of course will be told to sit down and shut up later (because our priority needs to be the cleanup) then by the time we’re “allowed” to talk it’ll be pretty much back to business as usual.

    I also do tend to think that we can manage to do more than one thing at a time. We can work on a new energy policy while pushing for a more effective cleanup. We can have hearings on who the heck is responsible for this while trying to figure out if there’s a solution we haven’t tried to plugging the well. We can chew gum and walk.

  45. Astrofiend

    19. cgray Says:
    June 18th, 2010 at 4:07 pm

    Oooh – I bet that scenario makes you feel all funny downstairs, doesn’t it cgray?! I bet you’re praying hard for it right now; one hand in the air, the other clutching your Bible to your breast: “Dear Lord – the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the GOP. We know thou art a vengeful God – smite those candyass liberals and socialists everywhere as proof of your divine ordination of neocon supremacy! Bring down brimstone on Europe – that modern day Gomorrah! I just petition you that I may watch and witness this great act, for I find it so arousing that I must post about it on blogs everywhere, but I’m finding that the responses just aren’t quite getting me there anymore…”

  46. @ David D.
    While we certainly do need to fix the leak, and that is most certainly a priority, it is not unworthy to use this time (which is sadly so abundant) to review how we got here and how we can avoid it in the future.

    It is short term thinking that led to the mess, and if we learn anything from this – I hope it is that short term thinking always implodes. Economically, and physically.

    But politicians are short term thinkers due to the nature of our system. What we have here is an opportunity to take advantage of their current short term goal of getting re-elected and rally support for a change in direction on energy.

    It would not be practical to ignore it. However disgusting it is to take advantage of tragedy, it does work.

  47. Procyan

    BP is too big to fail. Shell out now to avoid really big pain later.

    I was in NY on the first Earthday in 1970. Everyone agreed then that we were going to recycle, develop sustainable energy and that the hash passing around was really primo.

    FF to 2010: Special Interests drive policy nowhere while crackpots profer Perpetual Motion Machines.

    Barton’s self serving “value system” is no different from yours or mine. It always comes down to the buttered side of the bread. Result: Human civilization is pushing Earths reset button. O! The Humanity.

  48. Astrofiend

    49. Procyan Says:
    June 18th, 2010 at 8:47 pm
    ” was in NY on the first Earthday in 1970. Everyone agreed then that we were going to recycle, develop sustainable energy and that the hash passing around was really primo.

    FF to 2010: Special Interests drive policy nowhere while crackpots profer Perpetual Motion Machines. ”

    But how’s the hash these days?

  49. turt1es

    “The political circus on the Hill yesterday was disturbing on so many levels. There is NO ONE on either side of the aisle who is showing anything resembling leadership in this disaster (and I thought we had someone smart and different in the WH).

    Instead we get “let’s work over the BP execs” and “there’s an oil leak in the Gulf–hey let’s build some wind power.” What a freakin’ joke.”

    [And other comments about Obama and the oil spill]

    What more should he do? Really? What more?

    This will suck no matter what. There is no way to stop it. The damage is done. We have neither the economic resources nor required technology to stop this oil from washing ashore. The best we can do is attempt to mitigate the results. Those pointing fingers at Obama are either doing so from political bias or emotional response.

    Yes, I wish he were superman too, but he’s not. He’s not even in the industry. And neither is our government. That’s not our business. And it shouldn’t be. Those with the resources and experience to do any good are those who are responsible for the mess. The best the government can do is try to help organize, and ensure responsible parties do their part mitigating the economic losses.

  50. NAW

    You do know I was agreeing with you. Rather poorly, but I was.

    But what is the “fix”. I just don’t see this as a quick fix type of deal. This mess is a couple of hundred years in the making, it will take a while to clean up the structure of the many industries connected to it.

    (this one was only draft 3, and that counts fixing my spelling mistakes draft.)

  51. @NAW if you were agreeing with me, then why would I want to put you in the slapping line? XD

  52. The really horrible stuff – I mean apart from the whole Gulf of Mexico turning into a tar pit – is going to go down when the first hurricane of the season blows through the gulf, sucking up all that toxic goop and dropping it down again all over the Southeast.

    If I were into agriculture in the region, I’d be a bit concerned.

  53. G Williams

    “but c’mon guys, you keep electing people like this!”

    Nobody is electing people like this, well, I guess some number of people must actually be voting for people like this, but the majority is not really involved, at least not directly, in electing individuals such as Mr. Barton.

    There are multiple separate, but related phenomena that allowed this man to take off, and I would like to discuss them now:

    Firstly, and I’ve noted this before, on this blog and elsewhere, Texas has a problem, a deeply conservative and very religious problem.
    That problem is called Waco.
    If you take a collection of stories about how crazy Texas conservatives are, you’ll find that a far greater percentage of those stories than would be predicted by considering population statistics, take place in or around Waco, and/or are principally orchestrated by individuals from Waco.
    The people of Waco and It’s surrounding suburbs are relatively small fraction of Texas residents, however on an individual basis, they are pound for pound crazier than any other state in the deep south.
    Now, there was a time where Texas could hold it’s own in deep south craziness, no doubt about that, but in the last thirty years or so, Texas has been disproportionately been represented int he public eye by Waco and it’s residents, which has made it seem as though Texas is still deep in the reconstruction era dark-ages, when in reality, the state is progressing quite rapidly, and ethnically is likely to become the first white-minority state in the union (if it isn’t already).
    The Waco Effect alone is enough to explain this particular bit of craziness, if you’ll look, you’ll see that Mr. Barton himself is a Waco native, and his congressional district even borders crazy-central.

    But that’s not all!

    You see, Texans, for the most part, are traditionally apathetic when it comes to voting on elected officials. For one thing, the state constitution (going back to when ti was a national constitution) grants elected officials very little power, the governor himself has little power other than to appoint a small number of officials (who have even less power than most elected officials in Texas), veto bills (which can’t themselves actually effect much) and call special sessions of the state legislature (the only powers of which are passing constitutionally ineffective laws, and creating legislative districts).
    Outside of a few small areas, major laws must actually be written into the state constitution as an amendment, which requires a /popular/ vote.
    So, we have elected officials that don’t really matter, which drives down voter turnouts (who wants to vote for a guy who’s only real power is calling a special session of an organization that’s only power is arguing over how to divide the districts that vote on who is elected to itself?)
    At the same time, every media outlet, pundit and blogger in the country is telling everyone how backwards and conservative we are, and how only deeply conservative republicans can win elections in Texas (which BTW, wasn’t even true until fairly recently, for most of Texas history, even when we /were/ a conservative hell-hole, the government was mixed conservatives and liberals).

    So, you wanna guess what happens when you tell an apathetic voting population that it’s pretty much guaranteed a certain party will win?
    NO ONE VOTES!
    Imagine that!
    So, no liberal believes that a liberal could ever win in Texas, so guess who votes? The Crazy Conservatives! And you know who they vote for? Idiots like the honorable representative Joe Barton!

    The truth is in the pudding, just take a gander at Texas demographics and voter turnout figures, if something doesn’t strike you as odd about the one vice the other…

  54. RM

    BA: “Uh, cgray (19), one of the reasons for the bankruptcies across the world is because of our own economic collapse caused by greed and lack of regulation of the banking industry. So nice try, but bzzzzzt.”

    How come 100 years of regulation didn’t stop Bernie Madoff from running a Ponzi scheme and stealing billions?

    Some recent history:

    1. The Federal Reserve cuts interest rates to near zero (to avoid letting the market naturally correct from the Internet bubble).

    2. With interest rates artificially depressed, people take out 2nd and 3rd mortgages to buy TVs, pools, decks, home additions, Ferrari’s, you name it.

    3. Freddie and Fannie (under the guise of liberal goodness) loan money to millions of people who can’t afford homes.

    4. Banks loan money to millions of people and DON’T care whether or not they can pay it back because the government is backing the loan.

    5. Housing bubble blows up. Housing bubble collapses.

    6. Federal reserve, instead of raising interest rates to encouraging people to save. cuts interest rates again, to stave off yet another market correction. More incentive to go into debt. Let’s start the cycle all over again.

    7. We now blow up a new government (stimulus) bubble.

    8. After years of over-spending and doling out lavish government pensions, states are now bankrupt. Social Security is at the same point today where Bernie Madoff had to turn himself in. We’ve just added health care to the government stockpile of debt. And let’s not forget, we owe trillions to China, Saudi Arabia, and Japan that we can never possibly pay back.

    9. All the politicians and bad astronomers who never saw this coming blame a lack of regulation.

  55. ND

    Did this idiot not know there were cameras in the room? W! T! F! ???
    The Daily Show made sure to show footage of him reading a newspaper at this hearing!

    Poor BP. Poor rich corporations that don’t give a kaka about little people.

  56. Pi-needles

    @51. turt1es :

    There is no way to stop it. The damage is done.

    Sadly we are NOT at the “damage done” stage just yet. :-(

    The damage is still “doing” and is getting worse by the gallon-load every day the pipe keeps leaking oil. Every day the currents and plumes spread it further. The crisis is on-going and continuing to worsen. When the pipe stops flowing, when the oil stops getting away and starts being caught and contained and gathered up and limited in its impact. Then & only then can we say “damage done” rather than “damaging still in progress.” :-(

    @39. Mary Kaye Says:

    I’m puzzled by the “don’t distract BP” rhetoric. BP is not a person. It’s a huge company that employs tens of thousands of people. Some of them are engineers and are doubtless thinking hard about well capping right now. Some of them are lawyers, publicists, and accountants. What are they supposed to do about the spill? Get a bucket and bail?

    Hey if that’s all they *can* do then why the blazes not?

    Seeing the BP CEO’s and PR staffers and lawyers physically on the beaches, cleaning up tarballs, vacuuming sludge and washing off the oiled birds, experiencing the results of their spill first hand, at least some of the time* would be a durn good idea methinks.

    As for Barton’s moronic comment I put it down to his personal frustration at the knowledge that his patron and puppet-master BP are not going to be able to afford to pay him quite so much anymore.

    —————–

    * Okay they’ve got other jobs and other responsibilities (eg. families) too – but I’m sure they could spend at least a few hours volunteering on the beaches or the skimmer boats and doing whatever they can, however little that might be.

    In fact if I was a friend of Tony Heyward that’s exactly what I’d be telling him to do:

    “Go out there and flippin’ HELP! Somehow! Get your staff and everyone who can be spared and at least *look* like you seriously care about getting this all fixed and appreciating its seriousness – and dude no more whining about “wanting your life back already” or weak excuses either! Man up! Tell ‘em all – and mean it – that you are sorry, that you’re doing everything you possibly can and that you just messed up and will have to learn from the mistakes you made. That’s what ppl need to be hearing from you right now. ”

    Of course, he may already *be* doing this already to some extent. But, if so, I haven’t seen or heard about it. :-(

  57. ND

    “How come 100 years of regulation didn’t stop Bernie Madoff from running a Ponzi scheme and stealing billions?”

    Have you been under a rock? The regulators were not enforcing the laws! They did not keep a close watch on Bernie! The regulators dropped the ball. A system is only as good as those running it (that’s assuming the system that’s set up is a reasonable one).

    Also, was there a gun to the heads of the lenders? Did they have to give out so many bad loans? Aren’t there currently lenders that are doing just fine because they were careful who they lend to? A whole scheme was set up to make money off of passing around bad mortgages. Some lenders actively threw caution to the wind.

  58. QuietDesperation

    Do you ever wonder if politicians have ANY common sense?

    Will people ever wake up and realize that, yes, the politicians actually do, but they are a pack of sociopaths who don’t care? These people constantly pander to one group or another. It’s all performance art. Their re-election campaigns effectively start one second after the polls close in the previous election.

    Every time you feel the need to ask “How could this possibly happen” realize that it happened for either [1] a reason you are not seeing (hidden variable) or [2] utter lack of caring.

    Trust me. Keep this in mind and the seeming chaos of the political world will, over time, begin to make sense. A sick and amoral type of sense, but it all happens for reasons. Even the unholy mess here in California can be mapped out clearly and precisely. It’s just good old corruption, egos and greed. There’s no shadowy conspiracies. It’s all pretty much out in the open, but people are either too jaded to care or their brains are so fermented in ideology they take that nonsense seriously.

  59. Justin See

    Phil,

    “And hey, remember when the government getting involved with such things was considered rampant socialism? Yeah, good times.”

    To me, small government means the government should stay out of competing with things the private industry can handle, staying out of my day to day life, and then focusing 100% on creating laws that benefit society, enforcing those laws, and providing services that the private sector can’t; national defense being the most obvious service. Responding to a major hurricane or responding to a huge oil spill would be things that fall under “private sector can’t handle this.” This is actually a perfect example of it. BP and the other oil companies should work on plugging the leak and cleaning up and the government should enforce any laws that were broken, protect citizens from getting hosed on damages, and provide assistance if they can in coordinating the cleanup. I do think the trust fund is a little odd though. BP could have sat back and waited for a lawsuit and would have been protected by the $75M spill cap, but they, and the rest of the oil execs, were completely in favor of ignoring the cap for this situation and re-examining the cap all together for future spills. So, this wasn’t a settlement. It doesn’t indemnify them from any future lawsuits. I really don’t know what it is.

    “Also, the lack of regulation of the oil industry” I would highly recommend watching the Congressional hearing with the Execs from the oil industry on CSPAN.org. It was pretty informative. For instance, the Norwegians, English, and US all have similar safety standards. The oil companies take what they deem to be best practices from all 3 of them and try to create an even higher standard for safety. I’m sure people will roll their eyes at that, but, really, a tragic oil spill is about the only thing that can hurt oil companies profits. Why wouldn’t they try to implement the highest standards? Moreover, something that I haven’t seen reported that came out in the hearing is that the MMS reviewed and approved the plans for the well. This actually bared a great deal of resemblance to the Bear Stearns/Lehman/Bernie Madoff hearings. There were some issues with Deregulation, but the biggest problem was that the people at the SEC weren’t anywhere near as smart as the people on Wall Street. They had all the information they needed to know that things were going to blow up, they just weren’t smart enough/well staffed enough to deal with it. I wonder if the same thing didn’t happen with this well.

    Despite the MMS approving the plans for the well construction, the other execs said they would have never built the well that way. This will probably sound silly, but maybe the answer here, and on Wall street, is that the Oil companies should create a system where their engineers all approve and inspect each others designs and operations. I think that makes more sense then just staffing up a regulator that will never attract the kind of talent that works in the industry.

    Oh yeah, thanks for talking about the Gulf Coast, Republicans, and steering clear of bashing Bobby Jindal. I think he has come away from this situation looking by far the most competent of any politician.

  60. QuarterTilThree

    Republicans will still support this guy because that’s what they do:

    Actually, they pulled the guy aside and spanked him pretty quickly.

    they stick with their own no matter what. In a way, you have to envy such blind loyalty

    You might at least try to dimly perceive objective reality before accusing anyone else of blindness.

  61. QuietDesperation

    Actually, I’m starting to entertain the Russian “nuke the well” solution. :-)

    Or my previous “Have Chuck Norris punch it” gambit.

  62. Turboblocke

    “…Hayward was getting his head handed to him by every other member of Congress yesterday. ”

    What exactly was the purpose of that whole event? From a non-US perspective it looked like an abuse of power. Presumably there are going to be some legal consequences to this spill… so why an hours long public interrogation of the CEO of the defendant who was not allowed legal representation? Surely anything he says is going to be used in evidence against BP later.

    It seems to me that it was an opportunity for grandstanding by politicians and also an attempt to trap Hayward into making incriminating statements. So rather than having his head handed to him, Hayward actually seemed to be doing a good job of not compromising BP’s legal position.

  63. Jeffintexas

    Phil,
    Texas politics are screwed up it’s beyond belief. When I moved here from Indiana I called myself a conservative and Republican. Now I’m a Texas Democrat. The Right down here represents a cowboy lunatic fringe. It’s really ashame. There are a lot of talented people in Texas. They just don’t seem to end up getting elected. The state has an 18 billion dollar shortfall facing the next legislature. And nobody in the legislature has a clue as to how to address the problem. They are just sitting on their butts waiting for the debt to magically disappear. Perhaps a modest state income tax might help (but it will never happen). Ya gotta find the money somewhere? But nobody is proposing any solutions. This is where the Tea party types come in. Let’s cut taxes and spending? But how are you going to repair roads, maintain public education etc. Public services don’t just happen. Somebody has got to pay for them.
    Jeff

  64. turt1es

    “Sadly we are NOT at the “damage done” stage just yet. :-(

    I meant the damage is as good as done. The oil is in the water. We’re screwed.

  65. pj

    I think what Barton was really saying was BP must pay but not before all the lawyers get their cut. It’s the American way after all.

    The escrow fund cuts out all the slimy greedy ambulance chasing middlemen.

  66. Mark

    Ahhh, the supporters of their various political ideologies continue the combat while the ideological leadership continues to laugh up their sleeves. Republicans want to destroy our civil liberties and bankrupt us with war in the name of protecting our “national security” while Democrats want to destroy our civil liberties and bankrupt us with unlimited entitlements in the name of “fairness and equality.”

    Either way, we’re bankrupt.

    HINT: BP (and the entire petroleum industry) knows something Phil and many of the posters seem to ignore: It doesn’t matter which political party is in charge — as long as you pay them both off.

    And Phil, I’m amazed that you, having been so close to the Amazing Randi — a man who devoted his life to disproving ESP — can devine that Mr. Barton’s apology is insincere, especially at such a distance.

    Has it ever occurred to you that Mr. Barton feels BP is responsible for the spill, while at the same time thinks forcing BP to pay $20 billion to the US government is wrong?

    I think it would be lunacy to trust BP to manage its own relief fund, but it wouldn’t be my LAST choice. That I would reserve for the US Federal government, given its track record with budgets ($13 trillion in the hole and counting). One can nibble a lot of unnoticed corners from $20 billion; does anyone here really believe all of it will go to disaster relief efforts if the US Federal government administers the fund?

    (And puh-lease; spare me the ‘It’s Bush’s fault!’ comments regarding the US Federal debt. Bush started the ball rolling, but President Obama’s contributions to it make the prior adminstration’s efforts appear, pardon the put, Bush league.)

    And while I certainly don’t believe the US Federal government has any special expertise in plugging blown out deep-water oil wells, leaving BP in charge of the whole mess is like putting an intoxicated man in the driver’s seat of the ambulance driving the victims of the accident he just caused to the hospital.

  67. HvP

    Until recently it was believed that dinosaurs went extinct due to a comet impact. Recent evidence now shows that they died out as a result of a mutation that turned large numbers of their population into what we would call politicians.

    This largely aggressive and opportunistic population led to unsustainable strife and mistrust among groups. Entire herds were wiped out as evidenced by the Ginkgo-Party extinction and Amber-Party extinction events.

    The only species that survived were the lawyers who had learned to happily live off of the rotting flesh of the dead. Having finally stripped the corpses of every last morsel of flesh, the lawyers turned on each other.

  68. dcurt

    “one of the reasons for the bankruptcies across the world is because of our own economic collapse caused by greed and lack of regulation of the banking industry. So nice try, but bzzzzzt.”

    It’s this kind of thinking that has created the economic problems we have. You’ve given a free pass to the number one offender…our gov’t. They did this. And for years people have been predicting this exact thing would happen…I remember people predicting it in the late 80′s. And now we have billions in ARRA—aka Democrat slush fund…and people like you that think the solution is for the gov’t to have more power over the private sector.

    “Also, the lack of regulation of the oil industry and years of corruption (now, whose Administration was that from, I wonder) is what made this happen in the first. It’ll take a while to fix that atmosphere, I’d wager.”

    Or maybe we can ask why it is that drilling needs to happen that far out…when there’s plenty of drillable oil on dry land just sitting there.

  69. Daffy

    #62. I was talking about the voters. Thank you for proving my point.

  70. dcurt

    BTW, nice CNBC article. I especially like how they left out the money Obama has received from BP.

  71. Gary Ansorge

    In 68 posts I’ve seen virtually no constructive suggestions for dealing with this problem, either from an enforcement perspective or an engineering one.

    Yes, we SHOULD be transiting from oil to alternative energy sources and we are,,,but restructuring an energy infrastructure that took 120 years to build in the first place is likely to take,,,maybe another 120 years. Especially since such competing tech is still a lot more expensive than oil.

    Solar Power Sats have been my favorite primary energy producer. Unfortunately, it won’t replace oil for transport unless we’re able to make much more powerful energy storage systems and that just takes time and money.

    Face it; oil will remain the principle driver of our civilization for the indefinite future(meaning an ordinary human lifetime). I expect BP, Shell, Exxon, etc will do everything in their power to prevent such a massive failure from occurring again. At the very least, it’s bad PR. At the worst it’s environmental disaster. In between there is a great impact on the bottom line. Expect oil prices to rise as those “costs” get factored into the bottom line. That’s business, which is also why they weren’t as prepared for this as they could have been. Make oil too pricey and competing tech will steal your customers.

    Well, at least oil companies have had a chance to find out what won’t work in these circumstances. That’s SOME progress. Next time this happens(and you know it will) they’ll be better positioned to recover from it.

    Now, where did I put the designs for that nuclear rocket thruster??? Hey, I want to be prepared to leave when the planet is burning from the worst oil spill ever(like when a volcano goes off under a Saudi sized oil dome).

    GAry 7

  72. dragonet2

    Barton is merely cowering at the feet of his owners, the oil companies, licking their boots so they don’t whip him for appearing to give comfort to the ‘eeebul conservationists and people who think the oil companies should be punished.’

    They give him lots of money to stay in office. He has to pay his owners. Not his constituents.

  73. JimG

    Oh, Barton’s not really stupid at all. Of course, his comment was stupid – to us. But he wasn’t talking to us. He doesn’t give a happy crap about what the rest of the world thinks, because: 1. We don’t give him money, and 2. We don’t vote in his district.

    The people who keep electing Joe Barton either agree with him out of ignorance, or will vote for him anyway based on agreement with his other positions. He doesn’t have to worry about his comment’s affect on them. Thus he said it solely to let BP and other oil companies know that he’ll keep sucking up to them no matter what they do – and they’ll keep paying him off.

    That’s all it’s really about. The rest of the planet can burn down, fall over and sink into the Gulf for all he cares, so long as his job is safe and the petrodollars keep flowing in.

  74. Plutonian

    @73. Gary Ansorge :

    At the very least, it’s bad PR. At the worst it’s environmental disaster.

    Both. An enviro disaster is never exactly good PR is it? :roll:

    Congressman Barton has supported space exploration and supported the Texas Supercollider – even if it was via an ineffectual politico-religious stunt.

    So well done Dr Phil Plait, you’ve attacked a pro-science, pro-NASA Republican & someone basically on your side thus an ally, and & shown what a totally biased & blinded Democrat zealot you are. Something to remember when (not *if*) the Republicans eventually take office again – probably in 2012 with Sarah Palin becoming President! :-P

    @ 17. Ad Hominid :

    What *exactly* do you think is wrong or factually inaccurate with what Congressman Barton said there in that clip you posted?

    Sounds to me like he’s making some quite valid points about past climate and adaptation there and even *if* AGW is right Congressman Barton is making very good sense.

    If you read the latest issue of New Scientist you may have read that a recent BBC poll (Feb. 2010) found that even in Eurabian England, faith in human caused Global Warming is down to just 26%. Face it, like it or not, the Alarmist side has lost this argument & the climate skeptics have won as far as the most people in the general public and certainly most politicians and thus law-makers are concerned.

    Which means that even *IF* Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming is real then nothing is going to be done about it for many years if ever. That’s now just plain fact.

    So *if* you believe in it, then you have to admit that by your logic it *will* eventually be happening – or at least we’ll find out about it if it does *when* it finally does without butchering our economies on the alter of the green ideology beforehand.

    If CAGW is true then adaptation is our sole option and Congressman Barton is correct.

    If CAGW is false – as enough evidence certainly says strongly enough to convince the public and politicians – then Congressman Barton is certainly right too.

    So either way Barton is correct and wins and you are incorrect and lose & there’s just no getting around that.

    As for the storm in a teacup over Barton’s BP oil spill remarks, he’s probably got a point about being misconstrued and taken out of context – it wouldn’t be the first time.

    Plus its not like BP intended this spill to happen or foresaw it. Its hurting them, they’re not happy about it & they’re doing what they can. Obama’s rants and vague talky sideshows are doing nothing of any value at all.

    Nor is it the case that we have any alternative yet energy-wise . The spill has happened , it was an accident, its being cleared up and we can’t do anything else. That’s all there is to it.

    We need the oil to run our economy and there’s no getting around that axiom either.

    If it comes down to having an economy or having a few more seabirds and shrimp then we’ll *always* choose having an economy over the wildlife. Anyone saying otherwise is deluded and unrealistic and destined for failure if they try to get their way on it. After all the sound and fury – that’s it.

  75. Ken (a different Ken)

    #40 David: First, the Jones Act applies only within territorial waters, that is within 3 miles of the coast. Deepwater Horizon was over 40 miles from the coast. Plus, according to Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen, nobody has in fact approached him about a waiver (yes, there is a process for obtaining specific waivers of the Act, a blanket waiver is not necessarily required). Note that the Katrina effort inherently involved port operations, so waiving the Act was appropriate.

    #70 dcurt: Drilling is done that far offshore because that’s where the oil is! Something like 10% of the proven global reserves, and about 30% US reserves are deepwater fields. High oil prices made it cost-effective to start drilling there. (Source WikInvest website, search for “Deepwater Oil Exploration”).

  76. David D.

    @Ken (a different Ken)

    Yes, the Jones Act only applies within territorial waters (3 mi. limit, IIRC). However, it could reasonably be applied in the case of oil skimmers needed NEAR THE COASTLINE.

    “according to Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen, nobody has in fact approached him about a waiver . . .” Since the Coast Guard is part of Dept of Homeland Security, the waiver request should come from the Secretary of Homeland Security–oh wait, that’s the highly competent Janet Napolitano. Well, that explains a lot . . .

    Actually she could waive it on her own initiative or at the written suggestion of any other government agency if it was deemed in the interest of national security. I assume you would agree that there is some compelling national interest here.

    But let’s even say that there isn’t any “security” reason to waive the Act. Even as a purely symbolic gesture, it would do wonders for Obama’s dismal public perception of how his Administration is handling this catastrophe. Maybe it’s a small gesture, but every little bit helps.

    In the Katrina/Rita waivers it was the President who ultimately made the decision. What’s the problem here?

    As I understand it, we were offered help by several foreign countries at the outset. For some reason, this aid was declined. Think we’ll have any Congressional hearings on that decision?

  77. Ad Hominid

    76. Plutonian

    First, you pompous jackass, don’t demand an *exact* factual defense from me when you can cite only an opinion poll and your own opinions, that is, “it seems to me.”
    Public opinion is not immutable and how Barton’s statements might *seem* to you is no substitute for fact.

    Why *exactly* Mr. Condescension, does it “seem” that way to you, anyway?

    If you were not an obtuse condescending charlatan and snake oil salesman, or even if you are those things and still have *normal* reading comprehension, you would *know* that my problem is Barton’s suggestion that adaptation is the ONLY possible response to climate change.
    My point, obvious to all but *you,* was that he denies any anthropogenic factors at all and suggests that adaptation to climate change is the only possible response.

    As I said in the original post, my assertion was only that he is a denialist. The video segment is compelling evidence for that. How is that not obvious?

    Now, take your aggressive sales persona back to the car lot where it belongs.

  78. Barton was just blindly repeating the party line, figuring his party would cover for him, since they are in unanimous lockstep with everything anti-WH. He made an error in judgement this time.
    Waco=Wacko

  79. dcurt

    Pompous, charlatan, snake-oil are words better used to describe the thinking that a scam like carbon-trading will have any effect on global temperatures.

  80. don gisselbeck

    BP is proof yet again that the primary characteristic of capitalism is “cut corners and costs until there is a catastrophe”.

  81. Old Geezer

    @ 76. Plutonian

    It wasn’t that long ago that the vast majority of people thought the world was flat. THAT DID NOT MAKE IT SO.

    It wasn’t that long ago that the vast majority of people thought the earth was the center of our galaxy. THAT DID NOT MAKE IT SO.

    It wasn’t that long ago that the vast majority of people thought that Black Plague was caused by bad air. THAT DID NOT MAKE IT SO.

    So I guess you would rather sit with the majority of people.

    I keep going back to the question, if AGW is false and all we get from cleaning up our act is a better Earth, what’s wrong with that?

    I grew up in Los Angeles. When I was small child, we could see the San Gabriel Mountains from 40 miles away. Air pollution from auto emissions became so bad that we couldn’t see those same mountains from less than a mile away. Then, auto emissions began to be regulated. People like you kept shouting that nobody would buy cars with all of those fancy smog devices, the auto industry would be bankrupted by the mere idea of cleaner cars and nothing would help the smog problem. Ooops. The air is cleaner. We all drive more and more cars and the auto industry bankruptcies seem to have taken 40 years to happen.

    Your choice of an economy over a few more shrimp means you think it is good for the economy to import our seafood. It means you don’t have a clue about the fishing and shrimping industries that have supported a vibrant economy along the Gulf Coast. It means you probably have no clue about what might happen along all of the coasts and inland waterways when climate change gets even worse. Don’t bother to buy a new raincoat to protect your Rolex from getting wet. You’re gonna need a kayak. (Unless the refugees from the coast have stripped it off your arm already and traded it for food.)

    Base upon where your head is, I’m amazed you can see the other comments or type your own drivel.

  82. Old Rockin' Dave

    David D., you replied to me that Obama also received oil money. That is as may be, but no one has received more than Barton, and Obama is not kissing up to BP. I guess we have to give Barton some credit: once bought, he stays bought.
    Then you say,”I might suggest that the fund be administered by the states or the local communities rather than the Feds, for obvious reasons.” I think that appointing Ken Feinberg as special master, as Obama did, is a better idea. To apportion the money to local governments beforehand is to ensure that some localities get less, and some more, than they truly need. It also opens up the possibility, even the likelihood, of politics influencing the payouts.
    “And I disagree that this (day 60) is the time to push cap-and-trade or renewable energy or whatever–FIX THE DAMN LEAK FIRST!” Why isn’t this the time? The gusher-fixing experts are handling the gusher-fixing. That leaves most of the rest of us sitting on our hands and waiting for Lindsay Lohan to forget her panties again, or some such distracting nonsense. While the issue is fresh and before the spinmeisters can distort our perceptions is the time to get support for meaningful change. Cap-and-trade is actually a good partial solution to our energy addiction, precisely because big businesses can be brought to support it. If they have to be dragged kicking and screaming at each and every step, nothing will get done.
    “How ’bout that Coast Guard, holding up the barges to make sure they had the proper number of life jackets?” I thought maritime safety was the Coast Guard’s job. If a barge went down and there weren’t enough lifejackets or lifeboats, what would you have said then? Too many lives have been lost in this incident already.
    “Your snark is not amusing. So, what are YOU doing about it?” You probably know that the people who shout the loudest about what others should be doing are usually the ones who do the least. I am glad that you are an exception but you’ll get no apology because I was not the one pontificating. I have not done much for the situation. Not having a job or a lot of money and having major health problems kind of cramps your style in cases like this.

  83. Barton is just more proof that Republicans will do and say anything in their opposition to Obama.

  84. MaDeR

    Good grief. Nice retardicon you all have here.

    Let me say something. I am from middle-sized nation in center of Europe (no, not this nation where BP spawned). I sit – so to speak – on sideline, watch it all from some distance (both physical and intelelctual) and I do not know what to do: laugh or cry.

    And this is only about your (as in “American”, I dont talking about anyone personally here) wonderful Rethuglican Party straight from Middle Ages – don’t get me started about other topics touched here, like our certain favorite crackpot denialist over here…

  85. Kyle S

    @David D (#78)

    Why would they need to waive the Jones act when it doesn’t apply here?

    US Code, Chapter 551, Section 55113:

    46 USC Sec. 55113 01/05/2009

    -EXPCITE-
    TITLE 46 – SHIPPING
    Subtitle V – Merchant Marine
    Part D – Promotional Programs
    CHAPTER 551 – COASTWISE TRADE

    -HEAD-
    Sec. 55113. Use of foreign documented oil spill response vessels

    -STATUTE-
    Notwithstanding any other provision of law, an oil spill response
    vessel documented under the laws of a foreign country may operate
    in waters of the United States on an emergency and temporary basis,
    for the purpose of recovering, transporting, and unloading in a
    United States port oil discharged as a result of an oil spill in or
    near those waters, if -
    (1) an adequate number and type of oil spill response vessels
    documented under the laws of the United States cannot be engaged
    to recover oil from an oil spill in or near those waters in a
    timely manner, as determined by the Federal On-Scene Coordinator
    for a discharge or threat of a discharge of oil; and
    (2) the foreign country has by its laws accorded to vessels of
    the United States the same privileges accorded to vessels of the
    foreign country under this section.

    -SOURCE-
    (Pub. L. 109-304, Sec. 8(c), Oct. 6, 2006, 120 Stat. 1638.)

    .

  86. David D.

    @Old Rockin’ Dave–

    . . . no one has received more than Barton . . .Are you sure?
    During his time in the Senate and while running for president, Obama received a total of $77,051 from the oil giant and is the top recipient of BP PAC and individual money over the past 20 years, according to financial disclosure records. from Politico.com

    The Center for Responsive Politics said, since 1989, Barton has received $27,350 from BP, the third highest amount of all House members. from cbs11tv.com

    Again, the implication here is that BP somehow owns Barton. Do they own Obama, too?

    To apportion the money to local governments beforehand . . . opens up the possibility, even the likelihood, of politics influencing the payouts.
    First, I never said anything about divvying up the money beforehand. Secondly, if the Feds administer the money, politics WON’T influence the payouts? Yeah, that sounds about right. I was actually thinking that state and local leaders are going to be much more familiar with the local situations and the communities involved than Mr. Feinberg will be, no matter how well-intentioned his actions are.

    I think the primary problems are 1) fixing the leak and 2) repairing the damage. Throwing in a debate about green energy or renewable resources AT THIS TIME suggests to a lot of people that there is less of an emphasis on 1 and 2. The White House has a significant political perception problem here. And the Coast Guard lifejacket snafu? Couldn’t there have been someone on the spot to resolve that issue immediately? That’s called redtape; that’s what “leadership” is supposed to help cut through.

  87. David D.

    @Kyle S

    Why would they need to waive the Jones act when it doesn’t apply here?

    Oh, I don’t know. Maybe because of these two big ifs:

    (1) an adequate number and type of oil spill response vessels
    documented under the laws of the United States cannot be engaged
    to recover oil from an oil spill in or near those waters in a
    timely manner, as determined by the Federal On-Scene Coordinator
    for a discharge or threat of a discharge of oil; and
    (2) the foreign country has by its laws accorded to vessels of
    the United States the same privileges accorded to vessels of the
    foreign country under this section.

    BOTH of these conditions must be met for foreign vessels to participate in cleanup and recovery.

    NONE of these conditions exist if the Act is suspended.

    Again, every little bit helps.

  88. Taz

    During his time in the Senate and while running for president, Obama received a total of $77,051 from the oil giant and is the top recipient of BP PAC and individual money over the past 20 years, according to financial disclosure records.

    According to this CNN story, the $77K Obama received came entirely from BP employees, not from the company itself or a PAC.

  89. David D.

    from FactCheck.org:

    “It’s true that Obama doesn’t take money directly from oil companies, but then, no presidential, House or Senate candidate does. They can’t: Corporations have been prohibited from contributing directly to federal candidates since the Tillman Act became law in 1907.

    Obama has, however, accepted more than $213,000 in contributions from individuals who work for, or whose spouses work for, companies in the oil and gas industry, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.”

  90. Taz

    But I’m sure that Barton’s $23K represents the sum total of what he gets for being a staunch advocate of the oil industry. Funny though, if I had to pick which of the two men is more likely to end up with a lucrative job lobbying for the oil industry after politics, it would certainly be Barton. Strange how that works.

  91. MartinM

    If you read the latest issue of New Scientist you may have read that a recent BBC poll (Feb. 2010) found that even in Eurabian England, faith in human caused Global Warming is down to just 26%. Face it, like it or not, the Alarmist side has lost this argument & the climate skeptics have won as far as the most people in the general public and certainly most politicians and thus law-makers are concerned.

    Which means that even *IF* Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming is real then nothing is going to be done about it for many years if ever. That’s now just plain fact.

    So *if* you believe in it, then you have to admit that by your logic it *will* eventually be happening – or at least we’ll find out about it if it does *when* it finally does without butchering our economies on the alter of the green ideology beforehand.

    No, no, no, you’re doing it all wrong. You’re supposed to tell a pack of lies to discourage people from doing anything about climate change, then seamlessly switch to insisting that it’s too late to do anything about it without copping to being the reason it’s too late to do anything about it. You can’t just telegraph the switch like that; people are bound to catch on.

  92. Time magazine has a list of Barton quotes that would be very amusing if it weren’t for the fact that he’s a lawmaker.

    He claims wind power will slow down the wind and increase global warming – apparently due to earth losing it’s air cooling because windmills are stealing it all.

    Read it here:

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/time/20100620/us_time/08599199796300#mwpphu-container

  93. Gary Ansorge

    91. David D.

    “$213,000 in contributions from individuals who work for, or whose spouses work for, companies in the oil and gas industry,”

    Big fraking deal. I used to work for the largest oil company on earth, the Saudi Arabian American oil company(aka, ARAMCO) and I contributed several hundred dollars to Obamas campaign. Does that mean he received money from ARAMCO?

    That’s about the biggest stretch I’ve ever seen, implying that since someone works for a particular company they must of necessity be shills for that company.

    What appalls me is that he didn’t receive more from the individuals working for those companies. Obama received nearly a half billion dollars from individuals toward his presidential campaign. Most of those people were working for SOMEBODY. Does that mean, by your criteria, that those companies are to blame for Obama being president or that Obama is beholden to those corporations because they employed people who exercised their individual rights to vote however they please?

    I take great pride in having successfully put a person in the white house that actually has a functional brain. It’s such a refreshing change and it’s the first time in the 40 some years I’ve been voting that the individual I considered the most competent actually made it.

    Congratulations America. You’re finally catching up to me.

    Gary 7

  94. Tim G

    Hey! This is the same dufuss who “stumped” Nobel Laureate Steven Chu.

  95. QuietDesperation

    It wasn’t that long ago that the vast majority of people thought the world was flat. THAT DID NOT MAKE IT SO.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myth_of_the_Flat_Earth

    It wasn’t that long ago that the vast majority of people thought the earth was the center of our galaxy. THAT DID NOT MAKE IT SO.

    The early Herschel drawings put the Solar System near the center, but subsequent attempts began to move it further away each time. Shapley got close in the 1920s. Depends on one’s definiton of “not that long ago.” The “vast majority” of people didn’t know what a galaxy was during those years. Many people *still* don’t.

    I take great pride in having successfully put a person in the white house that actually has a functional brain.

    Really? I voted for him and I can’t imagine now WTF I was thinking.

    The Chorus: *psst* McCain/Palin

    Oh yeah… :( He has a functional brain, but, well, will he start actually using it soon? I’m sorry, but some lip service toward the sciences and us non-believers is slim pickings. I have no Party affiliation, so I’m asking honestly. Just not real impressed so far.

  96. Mark Schaffer

    Tim G wrote:
    “Hey! This is the same dufuss who “stumped” Nobel Laureate Steven Chu.”
    I think Tim was being sarcastic but, just to be sure, Dr. Chu was at a loss how to respond to this complete idiot. We all run into such people daily, some of whom have been granted power and ask ourselves what do we say to them to show how idiotic they are. Then we realize they won’t understand and just shake our heads and hope some of the public knows what complete idiots they are.

  97. Old Rockin' Dave

    David D., Here’s what Wikipedia had on Barton and oil money: “During his political career, the industries that have been Barton’s largest contributors were oil and gas ($1.4 million donated)…”
    “He is ranked first among members of the House of Representatives for the most contributions received from the oil and gas industry, and number five among all members of Congress.”
    And Sourcewatch: “In the 2007-2008 period of the 110th Congress, Joe Barton has accepted $196,040 from oil companies and $135,549 of those dollars were from industry political action committees. In addition to that, he has accepted $834,386 from oil companies between 2000 and 2007. Also, he has accepted $121,050 from the coal industry, and $119,800 of those dollars were from industry PACS. ” (A number of large energy companies are in both oil and coal.)
    “Joe Barton has voted for Big Oil Companies 100% of the time based on important oil-related bills.”
    To be fair, this article on Salon.com does suggest he has another motive:.
    As for apportioning the money, how else can you put it in the hands of local government unless you tell each entity how much they get to give out? If otherwise, someone above them still has to decide case by case which local applicant gets what. By appointing a special master, one who handled the difficult circumstances of the 9/11 funds quite well, you take the politics out of it. Local governing officials certainly know the local situation better, which can include knowing who votes which way and who can be counted on for a campaign contribution or even a kickback. No one can pretend Louisiana and other Gulf Coast states are exemplars of good government (and I say that coming from Nassau County, New York, which produced Al D’Amato and the Margiotta machine – I’m not saying we’re better).
    As for timing, we have been discussing ending our dependence on foreign oil and shrinking our use of fossil fuels for about forty years now and have made little progress beyond Energy Star and compact fluorescents. We didn’t do it after the oil shocks of the Seventies. We didn’t do it when gas hit four dollars a gallon. We didn’t do it when acid rain was decimating our forests. We didn’t do it during the Iran-Iraq War or either or the Gulf Wars. We talk about it for a while, and then it’s right back to the latest celebrity scandal. So, as Maimonides asked, “If not now, then when?”

  98. Old Rockin' Dave

    The link to the Salon.com article that I put in my last comment appears to have fallen into the Bad Astronomy Triangle.
    Maybe this time: http://www.salon.com/news/louisiana_oil_spill/index.html?story=/news/feature/2010/06/18/barton_apology_big_business

  99. Gary Ansorge

    97. QuietDesperation

    “Really? I voted for him and I can’t imagine now WTF I was thinking.”

    I suppose you had a moment of enlightenment. Too bad they seldom last for long.

    When considering the success of any individual elected to the white house, one should also consider the constraints under which they’re working. Bush had a Republican machine working their butts off to ensure the successful passage of their dogma. Easy enough, since they’re mostly an homogenous group of people. Obama has to contend with the Democratic parties’ non-homogenous membership,ie, everyone has a different agenda and are often contentious toward one another. He should have been able to just write a decent health bill and his majority party could then have just pushed it through. Unfortunately, Democrats seem much more oriented toward getting along with everybody, so they tried to form a consensus. Too bad the people they were trying to shake hands with carried razor blades hidden between their fingers.

    I seriously doubt anyone who sits upon THAT throne could accomplish any more then Obama has, thus far. But at least he tries, which is a hell of a lot more than George did.

    My Son once pointed out that the only way he would ever accept election to the highest office in the land is if he was elected total dictator. Then he could do what needed to be done w/o having to kiss anyones gluteus maximus.

    I’ve seen and lived under one of the most effective monarchys in the last two centuries. Saudi king Abdullah is one of the most progressive and thoughtful leaders that country has ever had. Unfortunately, when he dies, he may be replaced by a schmuck and we’ve already seen what happens to a country when that occurs(hint; Flaming Bush).

    I detested Bush and all his minions. I still think he and every member of his cabinet should have been brought up on charges for lying about Iraqs WMDs but you know that will never happen.

    If Obama can’t change the course of this nation toward a progressive, thoughtful, science educated and compassionate land then I doubt anyone can. Bummer! It had such great potential,,,

    Gary 7

  100. David D.

    @Gary–

    Jeez–you didn’t just drink the Kool-Aid, you mainlined it! :)

  101. Alareth

    How about this bit of information? Barton’s #1 contributor is Andarko Petrolium, who holds 25% ownership in the well.

    http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/2010/06/top-donor-to-barton-is-partner-of-bp-on.html

  102. QuietDesperation

    I suppose you had a moment of enlightenment.

    Who, me? Nah! :-)

    Seriously, I admit my vote was more anti-McCain/Palin than anything.

    If Obama can’t change the course of this nation toward a progressive, thoughtful, science educated and compassionate land then I doubt anyone can.

    Well, I never bought into the idea that we could begin a march toward paradise if the got *just* the right man or woman into office. To be blunt, I’ve always found that sort of thinking to be extremely naive and a gateway drug/philosophy to blinkered sycophant-land.

    @Gary–Jeez–you didn’t just drink the Kool-Aid, you mainlined it!

    Oh, leave him be. Gary’s alright. I feel his pain even if I have some disagreements with his view of the presidency.

  103. Old Rockin' Dave

    “Saudi king Abdullah is one of the most progressive and thoughtful leaders that country has ever had. ”
    I’m reassured. Now I know that the religious police who beat people with six-foot staves and send little girls back into burning buildings to die because they forgot their head scarves are operating under an enlightened ruler. The next guy might drag them back into the Dark Ages.

  104. Gary Ansorge

    105. Old Rockin’ Dave

    You probably don’t remember King Faisal(king from 1964 until 1975). The man had more degrees from western universities than you and I together will likely ever see. It was he who basically initiated the oil cartel, which, like a union, empowered the oil producing nations to receive a more fair amount of money for their limited resource. Before Faisal, ARAMCO paid the king 50 cents for every barrel of oil they pumped. After Faisal, the Saudis payed ARAMCO 50 cents and they kept the remainder. This increase in income(which at that time would have been almost 3 dollars/barrel) fueled the ensuing cultural explosion amongst the Saudis. They went from 13th century life style to the 20th in a period of about a decade. I’m surprised they’re not all future shocked psychotics by now.

    In the 13 years I lived in Saudi Arabia, I never once saw or heard of anyone being beaten, except for the Saudi customs agent who touched an American woman’s breast while searching her for contraband at the airport. First she beat on him. Then his supervisor beat on him. Then the military repeated that and dragged the agent off to jail. That actually sounds more civilized to me than what happens here in the States, under similar circumstances.

    You have to understand what Mo was trying to do when he gave Islam to the Arabs. They were all a bunch of warring tribes, with different customs, gods and ideas of proper behavior. Mo tried to give them a unifying ideology. It’s the REMNANTS of those tribal customs that is still causing all that grief you mentioned, including female circumcision.

    You really can’t blame an ideal for the failings of the people it attempts to serve, since they’re just doing the same things that worked for grandpa. We have the exact same problem here in the good old USA, it’s just not QUITE as brutal(then I recall black experiences in the ’60s and shiver).

    EVERY Saudi I knew was polite, generous and they usually had a great sense of humor. My nick name over there was “That crazy American”, uttered not with contempt but rather affectionate humor.

    Before you knock a people, you really should try to know the facts about them, rather than what some clueless knucklehead on the boob tube says.

    Gary 7

  105. Gary Ansorge

    105. Old Rockin’ Dave

    You probably don’t remember King Faisal(king from 1964 until 1975). The man had more degrees from western universities than you and I together will likely ever see. It was he who basically initiated the oil cartel, which, like a union, empowered the oil producing nations to receive a more fair amount of money for their limited resource. Before Faisal, ARAMCO paid the king 50 cents for every barrel of oil they pumped. After Faisal, the Saudis payed ARAMCO 50 cents and they kept the remainder. This increase in income(which at that time would have been almost 3 dollars/barrel) fueled the ensuing cultural explosion amongst the Saudis. They went from 13th century life style to the 20th in a period of about a decade. I’m surprised they’re not all future shocked psychotics by now.

    In the 13 years I lived in Saudi Arabia, I never once saw or heard of anyone being beaten, except for the Saudi customs agent who touched an American woman’s breast while searching her for contraband at the airport. First she beat on him. Then his supervisor beat on him. Then the military repeated that and dragged the agent off to jail. That actually sounds more civilized to me than what happens here in the States, under similar circumstances.

    You have to understand what Mo was trying to do when he gave Islam to the Arabs. They were all a bunch of warring tribes, with different customs, gods and ideas of proper behavior. Mo tried to give them a unifying ideology. It’s the REMNANTS of those tribal customs that is still causing all that grief you mentioned, including female circumcision.

    You really can’t blame an ideal for the failings of the people it attempts to serve, since they’re just doing the same things that worked for grandpa. We have the exact same problem here in the good old USA, it’s just not QUITE as brutal(then I recall black experiences in the ’60s and shiver).

    EVERY Saudi I knew was polite, generous and they usually had a great sense of humor. My nick name over there was “That crazy American”, uttered not with contempt but rather affectionate humor.

    The religious police in Arabia are a whole different animal than the secular police. They’re what you get in a religious oligarchy, which is trying to sustain their special privilege against the tides of change.

    Before you knock a people, you really should try to know the facts about them, rather than what some clueless knucklehead on the boob tube says.

    Gary 7

  106. One word sums up the hypocrisy of the US political establishments attitude towards BP. That word is Bhopal. Union Carbide/Dow were never hauled in front of Congress. Over 25 years on the site is still contaminated and the people uncompensated

  107. Messier Tidy Upper

    @ 106 & 107 Gary Ansorge :

    Did you see any public executions there? My understanding is that they hold those every Friday in the Saudi kingdom and that woman there aren’t allowed to drive or go outside without male company and burkas among other harsh extreme Dark Ages religious laws. True or not?

    I’ve never been to Saudi Arabia and perhaps I’m mistaken – please do correct me if I am – but *my* impression of that country gained from reading widely and in the media is that it is exceedingly fundamentalist nasty place and that the Wahhabi (spelling?) version of Islam is pretty close to the brutality and ninth century barbarity of the Taliban form of Islam. I gather they get away with a lot of human rights abuses and general dodginess (eg. secretly funding & supporting terrorism, spreading radical Islam & anti-Semitism) as our major regional allies and oil source.

    I don’t think I’m alone in this view either. Obviously you’ve got another perspective on it from personal experience and were tretaed well there being a welcomed guest with local friends but I think most Westerners regard the Saudi’s with, shall we say, some suspicion. Well justified suspicion? I’d say probably, based again, on what I’ve read and heard. But what do you think?

    ***

    Meanwhile, another figure regarded in a very negative light decides to watch his yacht sail as the oil spill his company caused continues to be a nightmare and the tarballs keep washing up onto the beaches of the Gulf of Mexico. Tony Heyward *facepalm*. :-(

  108. Fast

    Phil, just stick to astronomy and stay away from politics. There’s plenty that could be said for the disaster that is the Democrat party. Barton is an easy target for his stupid remark. He could have stated it far better, but it’s not the president’s job to try to force the hand of a company. Also, Obama tried to take credit for something that was already agreed to in advance.

    I seriously doubt the voters are going to pay much attention to this gaffe. It’s either going to be a very good year for the GOP, or a completely kick ass year. Take your pick. Voters care more about the economy and jobs.

  109. When it comes to political inanity, it’s hard these days to decide which is the champ — South Carolina or Texas. But Texas will always do it bigger.

  110. MartinM

    Arizona’s doing pretty well on that front too these days.

  111. Gary Ansorge

    109. Messier Tidy Upper

    Friday is the Saudi version of our Sunday. Church day. Which is another way of saying social reinforcement day. Understand, there are TWO social control mechanisms in play here, the secular (the royal family, regular police and military) and the religious(which has their own cultural enforcement police). On Friday, they enforce public punishment of criminals, such as thieves(typical punishment is lashes for first, second and third offenses. After the forth such offense, the right hand is severed), rapists, (who are executed by beheading) and murder(also executed by beheading). They also behead drug smugglers. Selling booze is punishable by imprisonment for a couple of years.(I knew two Brits and One American so affected).
    That may seem brutal to Americans but many Europeans consider our capital punishment just as barbaric.

    As far as their women being in Purda(which is what the wearing of the Burka and being escorted by a male family member is about and that derives from their three centuries of occupation by the Ottoman empire. It was the only way to protect their women from rape by those soldiers.) That became hardened into custom, so though they no longer have to protect women in this way, they’re attached to this custom. As far as women not driving, first off, they’ve only had cars available to the general population for about 50 years, so they’re still coming to grips with THAT innovation. There is great discussion in the Kingdom about women driving. Several of the female Royals have openly flouted that rule in Jeddah. Within the American compounds, such as Dhahran, western women do drive cars.

    There is nothing in Islam that forbids women driving. It’s tribal custom that is driving that bias and they’re trying to get over that.

    Gary 7

  112. QuietDesperation

    That may seem brutal to Americans but many Europeans consider our capital punishment just as barbaric.

    Yeah, well, even the Utah firing squad is nothing compared to some of the porn I’ve seen out of Germany and nations further east. :-P

  113. Messier Tidy Upper

    @113. Gary Ansorge :

    On Friday, they enforce public punishment of criminals, such as thieves (typical punishment is lashes for first, second and third offenses. After the forth such offense, the right hand is severed), rapists, (who are executed by beheading) and murder(also executed by beheading). They also behead drug smugglers. Selling booze is punishable by imprisonment for a couple of years. (I knew two Brits and One American so affected).

    With the executions and punitive amputations carried out in public as proscribed by the sort of extreme Sharia (spelling?) Muslim law that has brought us so many horror stories elsewhere around the Earth (eg. Taliban Afghanistan, Tribal Pakistan, etc ..) right?

    Plus don’t they also have nasty little religio-cultural customs like honour killings & Female Genital Mutilation too?

    You didn’t answer whether you’d seen any such executions in person either I noted. I believe in the death penalty (for the very worst of all crimes & when there is no doubt of guilt whatsoever) myself but the way the Arabians do them in public and the medieval nature of them is .. quite disturbing or so I gather. :-(

    There is nothing in Islam that forbids women driving. It’s tribal custom that is driving that bias and they’re trying to get over that.

    How hard are they trying though *really* do you think?

    The Saudi kingdom of Arabia – along with many other similar Muslim nations – has had money and exposure to modern global civilisation for a while and they don’t seem too keen to join the modern world from what I’ve heard & read.

    Thanks for your reply, but I’m afraid I’m not overly convinced about Saudi benevolence, trustworthiness and “goodness.”

    I don’t believe cultures are all equal – NOT when some cultures are so repressive, sexist, violent and cruel – as un-Politically Correct as that may be to say.

    Cultures need to *earn* respect and be worth respecting far as I’m concerned.

  114. stompsfrogs

    @ RM (#56),

    Where did you get that recent history? “Freddie and Fannie (under the guise of liberal goodness) loan money to millions of people who can’t afford homes.”

    Ever heard of “mortgage-backed securities?” Because that’s what caused the financial problems we’ve been having… Hedge funds bought all the cheap (risky, sub-prime) parts (a.k.a. “tiers,” I believe) of mortgage-backed securities, and more respectable banks like Bear Stearns bought the expensive tiers. Securities are sliced up like cakes, you only have to buy the layer you want to buy. If you like strawberries but not bananas, you have that option. By buying up all the crappy layers (“toxic assets”), hedge funds encouraged the formation of more securities. The crappy layers used to be hard to sell, but all of a sudden hedge funds like “Magnetar” (google those guys – holy cow you won’t believe what they did) started buying all the crappy layers….Why? You might ask. Because they’re hedge funds… they make “hedges.” You or I might call them “bets.” But betting is illegal… “hedging” is legal, so they “hedge.” Basically, they own (hypothetically) $1,000 worth of toxic assets that are piled into a security. Bear Stearns owns $100,000 of primo assets that are part of the same security. They paid a lot for their assets, Mooney’s said they were “Grade A.” Magnetar’s assets are also “Grade A,” just for rubbing elbows with Bear’s assets. But Magnetar knows better… They place a hedge. Like taking out insurance, in case the security should fail. You can hedge the WHOLE security, even if you only own a piece of it. So Magnetar takes out $101,000 insurance on their $1,000 investment…. Who wants this security to fail, more than Magnetar? Anybody? Bueller? They stand to make like a gazillion percent profit. By heavily investing in the sub-prime slices of mortgage backed securities, hedge funds created #1 the housing market bubble and #2 the subsequent financial collapse.

    I, for one, think they should regulate this hedging nonsense out of existence.

    Kind of ironic that they’re named after a dying star, huh? Invisible to the naked eye, making powerful waves in the financial industry… Not with malevolence, Magnetar exploited a loophole to do good by its customers… But they sure were sneaky lil’ bastards.

    “liberal goodness” my ass. The recession was caused by straight-up greed, son, don’t drink that Kool-Aid Fox News wants to feed ya.

  115. stompsfrogs

    @ dave from manchester England (#108)

    “Union Carbide/Dow were never hauled in front of Congress.”

    They’re still in business. They’re called “Praxair,” they changed their name after that whole PR snafu where they killed all those people. http://www.praxair.com/ And I’m forced to do business with them, because their proprietary coatings are used on Sikorsky helicopters, and Sikorsky will accept no substitute.

    And I’m not happy about it. I wish we’d no-quote jobs that required us to do business with Praxair.

  116. Good thing Obama never took a dime of BP’s money. Mostly because when it tallies in the millions, you round off decimal points.

  117. Old Rockin' Dave

    Right, good old enlightened Saudi Arabia, where every law that looks oppressive to us is just a “tribal custom.”
    I am a Jew. By Saudi law, I cannot set foot in their kingdom, and if I were to be given special dispensation to enter (accompanying a foreign dignitary, special job skills, US military and the like) I could not wear any of my religious jewelry, even hidden under my clothing, or bring in a prayer book for my own use. During Desert Storm, the Saudis demanded that the US military send no Jews or women soldiers; they had to give in on that, one reason why bin Laden hates the royal family. Female soldiers were forbidden to drive. Any woman who tries to drive (wow, foreign women can drive ALL THE WAY around their walled compounds) gets arrested. She can ride in a car, but only one driven by a male relative, or accompanied by one. Not too long ago, the Jewish blood libel was promoted in the official Saudi press, and it was never officially retracted. Way to enter the 20th Century, guys.
    What has been said by me and others is only a small part of the brutal, evil, nasty things they have done and are still doing. Those little girls I mentioned are still dead, horribly burned to death. The mutaween, the religious police, delayed the firemen from going in because there might be physical contact between the girls and the male rescuers if they carried them out. One official from the religious ministry was sacked because the school lacked proper fire safety (Do you wonder if the boys’ schools did too?). In spite of the fact that in any civlized country, and I use that word advisedly, that this would be criminal homicide, no one was so much as lashed.
    As for the turnaround in oil revenues, sure they have shopping malls and air conditioning. They still have large regions of crushing poverty and serious unemployment. Unless, that is, if you are one of thousands of fat-assed princes who get make-work jobs and take vacations in Europe where they can drink and hire whores.
    Sorry, they have a long way to go before they can be called civlized or enlightened.

  118. Sili

    He used the word “implied” — which points back to his own words (had he said “inferred”, that would again put the blame on us

    Sorry, but no. “Imply” and “infer” are synonyms by now (and there has in fact never been a clearcut distinction in common parlance.)

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