Posts Tagged ‘Senator Mary Landrieu’

BP’s Senator strikes again

October 13, 2010

Just a quick update regarding British Petroleum’s Senator at large Mary Landrieu:

Last week I wrote about her heroic and principled hold on Jacob Lew’s nomination to become director of the Office of Management and Budget.  She, or the lobbyist/industry exec.using her as a conduit, chose very interesting language to, rather unconvincingly, assert that her hold on Lew’s nomination wasn’t just a petty form of oil industry blackmail.  Today the Obama administration lifted the moratorium on deepwater drilling and—surprise!  Senator Landrieu and her oil industry colleagues still aren’t satisfied.   Landrieu’s office/lobbying shop released a statement saying (via TPM):

“Today’s decision is a good start, but it must be accompanied by an action plan to get the entire industry in the Gulf of Mexico back to work.  This means that the administration must continue to accelerate the granting of permits in shallow and deep water, and provide greater certainty about the rules and regulations industry must meet.”

Pretense dropped.  There is no discernible space between Landrieu and the oil industry she is making demands and threats on behalf of within the language employed in that statement.  She even has the nerve to threaten the administration over the harsh “certainty” of the pathetically inadequate regulations that the ever beleaguered, and always under-siege, ‘little guys’ in the oil industry heroically have to adhere to while they make their billions and ravage the earth.

Again, I defy anyone reading that statement to tell me that she isn’t an full-blown industry employee, or, worse, a paid cipher devoted entirely to furthering the industry’s cause at all times, no matter the cost to her constituents and the environment.

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Target Rich Environment Vol. II (Post and Examiner edition)

October 7, 2010

Examining conservative pathologies:

One of my guilty pleasures since moving to D.C. has been reading the Washington Examiner a few times a week.  It’s funnier than the Washington Times because it exudes this sort-of faux intellectual seriousness, Reverend Moon and the Times just can’t aspire to, while spouting the exact same, straight from the playbook, conservative gibberish you hear in every other conservative media outlet.  Yesterday I had to laugh while reading an article titled “GOP Star Chris Christie endorses Bob Ehrlich” which was filled with breathless, fawning quotes about Christie being “a big star” and providing the “type of leadership voters want to see everywhere.”  The smiled faded when I encountered the following passage (emphasis mine):

“Since taking office, Christie has identified more than $2 billion in unspent funds, forced schoolteachers to pay for their health care benefits and slashed state spending by $3 billion without raising taxes.”

The fact that Christie forced teachers to pay for their own health care benefits was actually offered as evidence of his AWESOMENESS in a supposedly serious newspaper in our nations capitol.  I never cease being shocked and saddened by the pathological hatred and contempt conservatives have for teachers.  It’s mind-blowing.  The “heroic” Christie “slashed” $560 million in education funding for New Jersey schools.  Think about that.  Imagine the impact those cuts are having on teachers and schools in places like Camden, Hoboken and Newark.  Christie said he’d free up some of that aid if teachers agreed to a wage freeze and pay for a higher percentage of their benefits out of pocket.  Here is one of the many places the conservative mind goes entirely off the rails and out of the realms of reality: people like Christie and bottom-feeding, dime a dozen, radio hacks such as Neal Boortz actually seem to think that teachers are rich, pampered, overcompensated “terrorists.”  Part of me understands the reasons for this pathological antipathy towards teachers (in as much as I can as someone with a brain/soul).  Conservatives entire world view, ideology and conception of history shrinks and recedes further into fantasy every time a textbook is opened and a lesson is taught.  The shallowness, inadequacies and failures of their philosophy is laid bare as a child progresses through junior high and beyond.  They know this, so they do things like labeling plain-old curriculum based teaching and learning “indoctrination,” because it doesn’t adhere to, or reinforce, the fantasies conservatism depends on.  Modern education can’t nurture conservative fantasies because as Stephen Colbert once famously said: “Reality has a well-known liberal bias.”  Labeling education “indoctrination” hasn’t gained much traction outside of the closed circle of the same-old fevered minds, so they are stepping up their efforts by going straight to the source and writing their own textbooks; objective reality be damned.
The other reason conservatives hate teachers so much is that they are unionized.  Not satisfied with decimating and destroying labor unions in almost every other economic sector, conservatives demonize unions like the National Education Association incessantly.  Starting in 2004 when Secretary of Education Rod Paige actually referred to the NEA as a “terrorist organization” in a speech, this dangerous and despicable slur has been echoed by unoriginal con-men like Boortz who took it a step further declaring teachers unions to be “more dangerous than Al-Qaeda.”
Why because they refuse to let what’s public be privatized?
Look, these teachers could get paid more money annually than Rush Limbaugh, Bill Gates and Tom Brady combined and it still wouldn’t enough in some cases.  Schools are underfunded from the outset and falling part, morale is low, parents expectations are different etc. etc. and there is always a conservative ‘star’ like Christie looking to squeeze blood from a stone and take more and more funding away.   Harold Meyerson said it eloquently in his Washington Post column yesterday, describing the conservative penchant for scapegoating teachers pitch-perfectly:
“Blaming teachers for the dysfunction of inner cities and the decline of American industry lets a lot of other, more culpable, parties off the hook.”
My biggest fear is that one day the idealism and commitment to public service that drives most men and women to become teachers will no longer be strong enough to withstand the low-pay, the demonization, the deteriorating schools, etc.  The conservative con-men and women like Sarah Palin who thrive on un-educated, so-called “low information” voters may then, finally,  be ensured of Rove’ “permanent majority” and Mike Judge’s prophecy of an Idiocracy will be fulfilled.

Lobbyist/Oil Industry exec. or Senator?

Senator of British Petroleum, Mary Landrieu wrote a letter to the Washington Post yesterday in which she attempted to defend her hold on Jacob Lew’s nomination to be director of the Office of Management and Budget.  The language is interesting to say the least.  I can’t tell if it was written directly by one of her BP colleagues, only to have her name stamped on it at the last minute, or if she can no longer publicly maintain the fictional notion that she works for the people of Louisiana.   Let’s take a closer look at the language and tone (emphasis mine):

“Since the day an unprecedented moratorium shut down deep-water oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico for every company except the one that was drilling relief wells after causing the April oil spill, I have tried in vain to show the Obama administration how its handling of this situation completely missed the mark. In the parlance of the industry, the administration’s policy struck a dry hole.”

Senator, you know what else is “unprecedented?”  The scale and scope of BP’s negligence in the destruction of the Gulf Coast.  You can actually sense the mask slip while reading the “In the parlance of the industry…” sentence.  I’m sure if Landrieu actually wrote this she had to hit the backspace key a few times to fix the initial draft where she’d no doubt instinctually written: “In the parlance of our industry.”

She, or the lobbyist, continues:

“My hold on Jacob Lew’s nomination to be director of the Office of Management and Budget comes as a last resort, after months of meetings, hearings and testimony from citizens and experts failed to move the administration from a misguided course. Instead of curtailing “big oil,” administration policy has crippled independents and smaller operators.”

You gotta love the paternalistic tone of the oil companies seeping directly through Senator Landrieu in the use of the phrase “misguided course” to describe Administration policy.  It is corporate speak extraordinaire.  Also note the dismissive use of quotes around the phrase “big oil” like it’s some radical, out-of bounds, Marxist epithet.  Then comes the predictable chorus of how it’s the poor small “operators” who are being hurt.  There is nothing like the spectacle of monolithic multinational companies speaking through corrupt Senators and hiding abjectly behind the concept that they are acting nobly in the interests of the little guy.

Cue the strings for Landrieu’s grand finale:

“When we met some weeks ago, Mr. Lew gave no indication that he understood how devastating the moratorium’s effect is on the Gulf Coast economy or how a prolonged blockage of new offshore oil production can affect the national economy. As the president’s top economic adviser, the budget director has the power and responsibility to overturn a detrimental economic policy. Mr. Lew simply repeated the administration’s policy stance and refused to consider the economic hardships it is causing. That is not good enough for me or the people I represent.”

It can, almost, go without comment and/or explication.   You cannot tell me a lobbyist or BP employee didn’t write this letter/press release.

The moratorium is “devastating” and “detrimental” (to BP’s bottom line).   A “prolonged blockage” will effect the “national economy.”  Can you sense the vague threat and overt fear-mongering in that sentence?   Finally, this policy just isn’t “good enough” for the Oil execs. “I represent.”

The truth at last.


Revolving Door: From the Halls of Congress to BP and back again…

June 3, 2010

Sam Stein has an excellent piece up on Huffington Post today called “BP’s Lobbying Clout: 27 Former Hill and White House Staffers Working for Oil Giant.” Not much explication needed there. But Stein writes the following:

The revolving door between the oil giant and elected office is spinning fast — so much so that good government officials are hard-pressed to name a comparable organization with that much institutional clout on tap.

“It is a lot,” said David Donnelly National Campaigns Director at Public Campaign Action Fund. “You don’t often find more than two dozen.”

It blows my mind that “two dozen” revolving door lobbyists on a single issue is apparently not even enough to raise eyebrows anymore. Stein’s piece rehashes the brutal, sickening truth that BP had spent over $3.8 million on lobbying through the first quarter of 2010 alone. As I’ve noted before, that money could have bought a lot of acoustic switches. Not to mention diligent Research & Development devoted to contingencies and procedures that might/should/could prevent disastrous deep-water spills from destroying the Gulf Coast should they occur. But why buy that?

When you can buy this:

The cash was spread around seven prominent lobby shops within the D.C. area (including BP’s own internal operation), who in turn employed 39 lobbyists to help the company push its legislative interests. That nearly 70 percent of those hired guns have experience in elected office doesn’t surprise good government officials because those are after all the most sought-after hires on K Street.

Lobbying is apparently the only aspect of BP’s operation that functions with any sort of precision or care. Lobbying is the reason the aforementioned acoustic switches aren’t mandatory. What interested me most, but surprised me least, in Stein’s piece, was that Senator Mary Landrieu has 3 former aides and staffers currently lobbying for BP.

Landrieu is known mostly for being “the top recipient of BP-related campaign cash” during the 2008 election cycle according to Open Secrets. Her shameless shilling for BP was noted by the Washington Independent who in article titled “Some Gulf Lawmakers with Oil Industry Ties Downplay Spill in Their Own Backyard” characterized it thusly (emphasis mine):

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) took to the chamber floor to say that she didn’t want “to minimize” the severity of the disaster. Then she spent the next 20 minutes doing just that.

The slick, Landrieu said, contains “only 3 percent” thick emulsified crude that exists as “a very thin layer” — only as thick as “a couple of strands of hair.” The 5,000 barrels spilling out each day, she noted, represent “less than one-fourth of 1 percent” of the nation’s daily consumption. Relative to that requirement “the industry spill rate is quite low,” she argued.

“It is more risky to import our oil in tankers than it is to drill for it offshore, even considering this disaster that we’re dealing with today,” Landrieu said. “Retreat is not an option. … We must continue to drill.”

You just have to love the Churchillian flourish at the end. We will never surrender to clean, sensible sources of energy!!! I’m sure Senator Landrieu’s boss Tony Hayward appreciates her efforts to get his “life back” to normal. Of course, you’ll notice that Landrieu was also spewing the company line about “5,000 barrels” a day gushing into the Gulf that even then, in early May when she uttered it, was widely disputed and disregarded by scientists and observers as far too low an estimate. More accurate and realistic estimates, since confirmed, indicate that the spill was gushing around 20,000 barrels of oil a day into the Gulf.

Landrieu describes herself as “an unabashed proponent of the industry” yet wants everyone to rest assured that the abnormally large campaign contributions she receives “have absolutely no impact on her policy agenda.” She felt compelled enough to dramatically announce to the Starbucks Morning Show, recounted via Politico, that she was “not a hand maiden to the oil industry” shortly before declaring “The last thing we need to do is shut this oil and gas industry down.” This isn’t quite as insulting to the intelligence as some of Senator Ben Nelson’s recent forays into “Black is actually White” non-reality; but it’s getting there.

At least her former staffers, Hewitt Strange, Jason Schendle and Courtney Johnson cut to the chase and work officially for BP without all the dishonesty and melodramatic nonsense.