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Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Duck and cover: Barton goes into hiding

Rep. Joe Barton: Turn out the lights, his party is over (AFP)

If you called the Washington office of Texas Republican Rep. Joe Barton Friday, all you got was a recording saying the office was closed.

The Congressman who created a national uproar and embarrassment wasn’t taking calls.

Neither was anyone else on his staff although press secretary Sean Brown said in an email that aides were working that day he would not elaborate.

Republicans and Democrats both consider Barton a pariah after he “apologized” to oil giant BP for what he called a “shakedown” in the company’s meeting with President Obama because BP agreed to fork over $20 billion for Gulf Oil spill victims.

Republican leaders summoned Barton to a “come to Jesus” meeting right after his remarks and he emerged with an apology for his apology to BP.

It wasn’t enough for most and GOP leaders told him to issue another apology.

Republican Rep. Jo Bonner of Alabama called Barton’s apologies “half-hearted,” said his remarks about a “shakedown” were  “stupid and insensitive” and called on the Texas congressman to step down as the ranking member of the Energy and Commerce Committee.

Few expect Barton to survive for his gaffe.

And even fewer feel sorry for him.

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22 thoughts on “Duck and cover: Barton goes into hiding”

    • I think you’re a bit light on specifics again, Danny. According to that citation, there is a $50M cap on liability unless the govt agency responsible for managing the spill can show that “willful” negligence or misconduct caused it. That, of course, has not been shown, nor has it been agreed by BP; thus, a trip to US District Court would be necessary to demonstrate the basis for an “unlimited” award of damages. The actual amount of the damages award would also need to be computed, probably well after the fact, not merely guessed at.

      Point of order: The US govt doesn’t “think”.


  1. I twisted nothing. My main point was about the rule of law – applied to anyone, everyone and all businesses, corporations included. Nobody gets off the hook.

    Your post said corporations are “nothing more than entities created by man to serve man’s needs” and I agree; however, you seem to think there is something magical about them where no humans are actually involved or at the helm… mere bogeymen entities on the prowl to suck up innocent human prey. Businesses, even corporations, function only by the efforts of the people that guide them, work for them, reap their products, etc.

    Another of my points was that society has evolved to create a market system in which very few people are self-sufficient, i.e., corporations have become essentially responsible for providing almost every material thing we use in life, not to mention many of the services we obtain. Which of the corporations that provide you with stuff would you do away with? How do you choose which ones to patronize and which ones not to? It’s not even possible to paint them with the broad “corporate” brush.

    Another point of contention to be understood is the fact that corporations “serve the public good” only by providing goods and services (philanthropy aside), not by being some sort of “societal clearinghouse” operating in the general public interest. (That would be govt, if we’re lucky.) The distinction between private and public corporations really only relates to the person or persons who obtain the profits from such business endeavors, and it is clear that any corporation bereft of, or denied, profits must cease to exist. Only where govt steps in, such as in the case of GM, can such a corporation (or any business model) continue to function, but as in the case of GM, all the stockholders (individuals, pension plans, etc.) who have invested in expectation of profitable returns get stiffed, when the bankruptcy is forced on it, and in the GM case the govt set it up so that taxpayers take the hit on the so-called bailout. We all got screwed. Was it any more fair for those GM stockholders to have their shares made worthless by govt fiat instead of by GM? The problem with your approach is that there are no moral scruples to the system when “society” – even using its govt mechanism – gets to pick the winners and losers, or even decide which types of business entities the people need to have serve them.

    As I said in my first post above, no one – especially I – said anything about escaping responsibility. What I have said is that just because you have some problem – even attributable to corporate malfeasance – there can be no room for mob rule as a replacement for the law. The pledge of allegiance says it best… “with liberty and justice for ALL.”

    • Excellent response, thanks! Essentially, my whole arguement revolves around incidents such as Bhopal and Union Carbide in 1984.
      UC took advantage of doing business in a country with a lack of oversite and when disaster struck they did everything in their power to get out of their responsibility to that society. Today, more than 20 years later there are still legal actions in court seeking remedy.
      It can and will happen again, and if we continue to provide more and more protection to big industry in the name of taxes, employment, and money then we are also asking for the same.
      I hold BP accountable for this huge disaster even at the expense of their future life. It’s a price of doing business, and their downfall will be reason for others to not make the same mistake, and will be a source of growth for those that fill the void.
      In the end, any company that fails because of the economic burden placed on them for their own inappropriate actions will simply be replaced by others, life will go on.
      Reminds me of all the crys associated with communities going under because of base closures across America. Fact is most of those communities are doing better than before.

      • Yes, those instances of criminal malfeasance, whether BP, Exxon Valdez, Union Carbide, even Enron, Madoff, etc., deserve to be prosecuted to the full extent under the law so that all the details are brought into the open for review and appropriate reparation.

        If only such were the case in terms of countries (e.g., China) that institutionalize such human and envirinmental destruction, apparently without regard.

        My hope is that BP learns – changes its ways – and thrives – so that those who have been damaged reap their just compensation.

      • “Reminds me of all the crys associated with communities going under because of base closures across America. Fact is most of those communities are doing better than before.”

        Tell that to my neighbors up the road in Rome, NY, once the home of Griffiss Air force Base. They would laugh you out of the state.

        The reasons many large corporations leave the U.S. is to escape the regulatory burdens of doing business here. And yes, the courst system is just as screwed up as the rest of this government when it allows these things to drag on for decades..

        • … and maybe your friend is the only one laughing? Oh, and this info is from 1999. Of course today things may be different, but that’s what happens over time; change.

          Griffiss Air Force Base, Rome, NY (BRAC 93; closed Sep 95) – More than 1,175 new jobs have been created at the former Griffiss Air Force Base since 1995 — an employment base that is both diverse and expanding. A Defense Finance and Accounting Service center has 393 employees. Orion Bus Industries leases space to modify buses to comply with environmental emissions regulations. Orion and the General Electric Capital Test Equipment Management Service Company together employ 122 people. Baker Electromotive, a manufacturer of electric and alternative fuel vehicles, will soon lease 50,000 square feet of space and create 100 new jobs. Located in Oneida County, the base is home to the renowned Rome Laboratories and the New York State Technology Enterprise Corporation, which finances and invests in technology transfer within the region. The county has acquired half of the site, approximately 1,500 acres, via an Economic Development Conveyance and plans to consolidate and expand its airport operations at the former air facility. Griffiss will play host to Woodstock 1999, a music extravaganza expected to bring more than 250,000 visitors to upstate New York in July.

  2. Yo, Mo… lets set up a hypothetical.

    You own a business to support yourself and your family. It’s a private corporation or LLC set up in corporate form. You provide goods and services to the public using that financial / administrative business structure. I buy your goods (things), have you deliver them to me and install them in my home. When the bill comes due I tell you to pound sand because you’re supposed to be in business to serve society and what I’ve gotten from you is my just due.

    What would you say to that? Who’d be the crazy one?

    • Don’t try and twist this to make yourself come out smelling like roses. You know as well as I do that your little hypothetical is not what was discussed in the previous post for which I relied.

      In your hypothetical, not paying for services rendered is against the law, fair treatment I believe you like to call it.

      If however, while providing that service (or goods) that you desire, I happen to have a leak in one of my large storage vats and happen to paint the local community green, then I should most surely be liable for those damages.

      If later on, that green goo that I leaked from my vats begins to kill people, and render the environment destroyed and unuseable, then maybe it would be necessary for the government to step in and represent the peoples interests. This is especially true if I’m operating my business in a country not of my own and there is the potential for me to try and “skip” out with less immediate remedy than I should otherwise provide.

      I personally don’t see the “political grandstanding” in expecting a business to be accountable for the results of its actions or to the immediate society that it is a part of.

    • Citing your reference, the oil trust fund is a govt entity that appears to have little relationship to the current oil spill financial agreement between the big O and BP. According to the citation, the trust fund has a payout cap of $1B per incident, so how does the $20B BP is paying fit in?

  3. Gary & Patrick you are so right. Corporations have every right to destroy our environment and not be held accountable. We should pay to make BP whole after what they have done. After all that is what us taxpayers exist for, to bail out the corporate persons. Unlike living people corporations do have feelings and should not be insulted.

    Patrick is right. Let the courts take their rightful place. After all SCOTUS has proved itself to be pro corporate persons so we can all be sure they will do the biding of the corporations.

    On behalf of corporate persons everywhere, thank god for SCOTUS, and Patrick and Garry. Corporations should not, will not, and can not be held accountable for what they do, after all it has been said that it is un-American to do so.

    • What a bogus argument. Not one word was said about escaping responsibility. Their issue is – a govt of laws or of men?

      Snide positions such as your show themselves for what they are.

      • Take a look at how the Exxon Valdez played out in the courts. Real people got screwed. Corporate persons like Exxon and BP live indefinitely. Exxon has been fighting real people for 20 years, continuously getting their payout to the little folks reduced. Many of the original plaintiffs involved are now dead. There’s some justice for you.

        It amazes me how some people show such concern for non living corporate persons, and so little for real people.

        • You miss the point. There are principles involved that must be respected or we fail to have rule of law. Damage to people, environment, or even corporations must not be tolerated, unless you are ready to have true survival of only the biggest and baddest. Any failure of the system to assure fair treatment of all concerned is to be decried, but, to wallow in the “corporations vs little folks” mentality is nothing more than political grandstanding.

          Look around yourself… which of the things that you have came from other than corporations?

          • I think it is you that misses the point! Corporations are nothing more than entities created by man to serve man’s needs. They are nothing more than an extension of a man’s desire to produce a product or provide a service.
            You seem to think that we serve them because what, they provide us with a benefit, with money, with a job? Damage to corporations must not be tolerated, at what cost?
            This country is in the crapper as it is because we provided too much “fair treatment” to corporations and their selfish underhanded deeds, all in the name of money.
            The moment a business or corporation losses sight of the fact that it is only here to serve society and that society is not here to serve them, then that business becomes a danger and must be contained.
            For you to equate the rule of law for people and the environment, with corporations is foolishness, and to somehow suggest that just because we have “things” that we should bend over backwards to protect business is crazy.

          • It always amazes me that two people can look at the world and see two completely different views.

            Seriously you think that the corporations have our best interests in mind? Seriously? By law they only have one thing in mind and that is to make money for themselves and their shareholders.

            And you are talking about fair treatment for all concerned? ROTFLMAO. How can it be fair for people vs corporations when a person can maybe spend a thousands on lawyers, while corporations can spend millions, and fight people in courts for decades.

            In general I have no problem with corporations making an honest buck, but as they grow larger and larger the “honest” part seems to fade away.

            As far as looking around and seeing all the things that come from corporations? Those things are completely meaningless if we, can no longer breath the air, drink the water, or have a functioning ecosystem. Humans have existed for several hundred thousand years with out corporations. I will guarantee we will not survive that same amount of time with them.

            Also to all here, please provide some proof that BP was “shaken down” by the government. The only “proof” I’ve seen is in the form of a comment made by a Texas Representative that has received almost $1.5 million dollars from the oil and gas industry. As far as I can see Mr. Barton is just looking out for his true constituents, and those constituents aint the good folks of Texas.

  4. Barton was right: It is and was a shake-down. Social Activsts over the past 30 years have used this technique to get what they want to impose as a means of social justice. Businesses, municipalities, school boards, states and private citizens have been intemidated by such shake-down practices in the past. Suits are brought, courts are afraid to act and mediators are brought in. Mediators (mostly from the academic world) have found a lucrative side profession in being appointed as court appointed mediators. Doubt me? Look at the various police departments around the country that have had to opperate under mediation plans: the school boards, the cities, the business or business associations. Even the United Appeal or United Ways in the country have been invaded by these intimidators. H.O.M.E. (Housing Opportunites Made Equal) is nothing more than an organization to bully landlords (private citizens) and cities. They have little to do with equal opportunity in housing. When they accuse you of housing descrimination, they have the power to fine you. (no courts or appeals involved). Federal, state and city EO boards and commisions are undermined by these interlopers of ill-gotten gain that we have unwittingly funded and given power to. It is time to stop all shake-down scheems and let democracy and the courts take their rightful place.

  5. So one member of Congress sees what Obama for what he is, a shakedown artist, and has the b**ls to tell it like it is. Unlike the rest of those jellyfish who’ve caught the disease known as political correctness.

    If they’d have asked me to appologize I’d have told them to put it where the sun don’t shine and grow a pair.

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