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The Futile Boycott of BP

It’s true. Boycotting BP may feel good, but it’s pointless.

Recent events have curious. First, this talk of the company going under seems entirely premature to me. BP’s annual profit for 2009 was 12.5 billion. That was down from 25.5 billion in 2008. This is a trillion dollar company. Why would anyone be talking about bankruptcy this early in the game? This is especially perplexing to me when you consider the fact that Exxon ended up paying a total of 4.3 to 7 billion (I’ve seen figures in this range – can’t get an exact number) dollars in cleanup, fines, remediation, compensation, and other fees. How can anyone be talking about bankruptcy when recent precedent suggests that the total cost to BP won’t equal one years’ profit?

Another fact that most people aren’t aware of, is how big of a piece if the British economy BP represents. It’s the third largest British company. BP is such an integral part of the UK’s economy that it is responsible for one out of every seven pounds paid out in retirement funds. I am positive that President Obama has had daily phone calls with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. BP is simply too big to fail for the UK, which is why we’ll never see our president put them in receivership.

I’m not usually a conspiracy theorist, but I smell an acquisition in the air and I think that the white house it brokering a deal to make it happen. Exxon or Conocophillips would be the two companies most likely to acquire BP.

Another curious fact to that end is that President Obama appointed William Reilly to sit on a commission to investigate how this disaster happened. William Reilly currently sits on the board of directors for Conocophillips. Coincidence?

Maybe, but it smells funny when you put the whole picture together.

We know that Obama can’t actively do anything to help precipitate the demise of BP. He would be seriously jeopardizing our relationship with the UK, whose economy is already in a precarious position.

We know that BP can’t possibly be hanging by a financial thread at this stage of the disaster. To date, they’ve spent pennies of their first quarter earnings on this disaster. They have no real reason to believe that they won’t get the same disaster blue light special that Exxon got for the Valdez and yet, the press is inexplicably painting a picture of a financially crippled company. Are they priming the pump in order to sell the public on the idea that there’s a need for an acquisition?

Is it a coincidence that one of Obama’s appointees to investigate the spill sits on the board of one of the two companies that could acquire BP?

Brokering an deal a la the acquisition of Merrill Lynch by Bank Of America would seem to be the most logical move for Obama. It would help to salvage the British economy while limiting the amount of money that the new entity would have to pay out to cover BP’s liability in this catastrophe. This would satiate the public’s thirst for BP’s blood by “putting them out of business”. But don’t worry about the executives at BP. They will all no doubt, receive high paying board positions with their new “owners”.

Am I crazy or does this seem like the only possible end to this horrific tale?

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Ideological Handcuffs

I’m depressed.

As you guys know, I’m a news junkie. I listen to right wing news, liberal news, conservative talk, liberal talk, you name it, I engage in it. My news addiction had become the bane of my existence.

I’m not depressed because of a giant oil spill in the Gulf Of Mexico. I’m not depressed because a lunatic tried to detonate a bomb in Times Square. I’m not even depressed because our financial system is hanging by a thread. I’m depressed because all of that media that I diligently take in every day is either batshit crazy, or utterly uninformative.

Let’s start with the BP oil disaster. The right wing media has been cooking up a conspiracy theory that the whole situation wasn’t an accident, but that it was sabotage. I’m not going to go into details about the conspiracy theories, because that would be a giant waste of my time and yours. But Media Matters has compiled a good synopsis. The crux of it is basically that the white house orchestrated the spill so that President Obama could renege on his offshore drilling plans.

Really? He created a monumental oil spill that will potentially fuck up three states so that he doesn’t have to risk expanding offshore drilling, which he’s opposed to, because it could fuck up nearby states? Has anybody ever heard anything more stupid? We just lived through eight years of George W Bush, and this is still the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard!

I’m not depressed because the right wing is crazy and stupid. Sadly, I’ve come to expect that they will be. I’m depressed because there is a legitimate criticism of Obama that we’ll never hear. Obama never should have consented to expand offshore drilling. We have mountains of evidence to show that it can’t be done with 100% certainty that something won’t go wrong. I’m not opposed to it because it sounds bad. I’m opposed to it because logic and reasoning tell me that when you’re drilling under 16,000 pounds of pressure per square inch, a lot of shit can go wrong. And with that kind of pressure, the tiniest thing that goes wrong, rips the whole pipeline open. The legitimate attack on Obama is that his administration didn’t do enough to impose stronger safety regulations on the oil industry and that, like Bush before him, he let the oil industry largely police themselves. But we’ll never hear that from the opposition because they are wearing ideological handcuffs. They want offshore drilling, regardless of the very real and now, demonstrable downside. This is an ideology that isn’t based in facts therefore, it is an an ideology that is impervious to cogent debate. The right wing, who hated Ted Kennedy never went after him for blocking the building of wind farms in his backyard. THERE was a legitimate criticism of someone they loathed, and yet they never raised it because they don’t want to get off our oil dependency. Ideological handcuffs are preventing them from taking legitimate shots at the opposition.

Let’s move onto the failed attempt to bomb Times Square on Saturday. As usual, the right wing was a bottomless pit of useless, uninformative, and crazy. FOX spent its time trying to prop up the Bush administration by falsely claiming that there were no successful attacks on US soil after 9/11. Brian Kilmeade had his panties in a bunch over the reports that the suspect was (OMG) white! Let me digress for a moment to say to Mr. Kilmeade, “Hey ASSHOLE, I don’t care what color this psychopath is. I just want him caught, and so should you!”. I have to admit that my initial reaction to this stupidity was to hope that the suspect was not only white, but was married to Brian Kilmeade’s cousin. But then I realized that my reaction would make me as guilty and stupid as FOX. I don’t have a racial dog in this race and neither should anyone else. I’m a New Yorker. The only thing I want is to catch this shitbag.

Based on the information that we had at the time, shouldn’t the conversation have been about the rise of domestic terrorism? Or maybe, we could have had a discussion about how people become radicalized. But no, we can’t have that from the right because implying that crazy doesn’t have a minimum melanin requirement would contradict their narrative that brown people are to be feared. It’s not terrorism if the terrorist isn’t Muslim. Guess what? Crazy doesn’t have a color. It’s not born, it’s created. We need to talk about how it’s created and why it’s created.

Now onto financial reform. I’ve realized that the worst sources for any sort of information on economic matters are CNBC, FOX Business, Bloomberg, or any other business channel. None of them will report what actually caused the collapse, or what needs to be done to ensure that it will never be done again. They can’t. Watch the commercials that air on these networks, and you’ll see why they can’t. When a company is spending $50M a month on advertising on your network, are you really free to report them in a negative light? Have you ever wondered why you see commercials on TV for products you can’t buy? Why would Dow Chemical, Lockheed Martin, or Boeing spend money on prime time ad buys when you can’t buy their products? Because they’re buying insurance. The networks they advertise with would never risk losing that giant pile of ad dollars, just to keep you informed.If you’re watching news or commentary on television, you need to pay more attention to the advertisers than you do to the content.

Here’s a great clip of audio from a comedian named Jimmy Dore, talking about NBC’s reporting on the financial reform bill. It’s thirteen minutes long, but well worth the listen:

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I’m depressed because a freaking comedian is more informative than any of the news outlets that are available to me. He makes an excellent point about how network news is completely devoid of anything resembling investigative journalism anymore. They have become stenographers, relaying information from both sides, making sure that they create a false equivalency in the process.

Our media is handcuffed by financial interests.

Ironically, the best source of legitimate criticism for the Obama administration on television comes from Jon Stewart. Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann come in second and third to the comedian.

My favorite source for intelligent, unbiased analysis is The Young Turks. Give them a listen. You can get the first hour of their podcast for free through iTunes. I didn’t love them when I first started listening two years ago, but they’re the first thing I listen to every day now. They aren’t handcuffed in the same way that everyone else out there is.

I’m depressed that comedians are doing a better job of informing Americans than traditional media is. These ideological and financial handcuffs that plague our media is the reason why most Americans have no idea what’s what anymore.

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