Sunday, June 20, 2010

Why Does This Blog Call The GOP "Dumbos"? Meet Congressman Joe Barton (R-TX)

Dumbo Joe Barton (R-TX)

Meet Joe Baron: Joseph Linus "Joe" Barton (born September 15, 1949) is a Republican politician, representing Texas's 6th congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives since 1985. The district includes Arlington, part of Fort Worth and several rural areas south of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. Barton attended Texas A&M University in College Station on a Gifford-Hill Opportunity Award scholarship and received a B.S. in industrial engineering in 1972. An M.Sc. in industrial administration from Purdue University followed in 1973.. Following college Barton entered private industry until 1981 when he became a White House Fellow and served under Secretary of Energy James B. Edwards. Later, he began consulting for Atlantic Richfield Oil and Gas Co. before being elected to Congress in 1984.

On Thursday, June 17, 2010, during a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing with the BP CEO Tony Hayward, Dumbo Barton called the $20 billion claims fund BP earlier agreed to establish to pay for damages a "$20 billion shakedown" by the Obama administration. And, then Dumbo Barton said: "I'm ashamed of what happened in the White House," and 'I apologize' for it."

If Dumbo Barton had been alive during WWII, he probably would have apologized to Adolf Hitler. Today, the AP ran a story (prompted, no doubt, by a press release from Barton's office) that focused on the critical issue of the day: a national playoff system for major college football! The Gulf is being destroyed and Dumbo Barton wants to talk football in an eerie 40-year-old replay of The Trickster's late night visit to the Lincoln Memorial to talk with some of the antiwar protesters about college football. That dog didn't hunt in 1969 and it won't hunt in 2010. If this is (fair & balanced) stupid is as stupid does, so be it.

PS: Dumbo Barton has received $100,470 in campaign donations from oil and gas interests since the beginning of 2009, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The same group reported that since 1990, political action committees of the oil and gas industry and people who worked for it have given more than $1.4 million to Barton's campaigns, the most of any House member during that period.

PPS: Use the hyperlinks below to hip-hop through today's Twin Quinella in this blog.

[Vannevar Bush Hyperlink — Bracketed NumbersDirectory]
[1] Hand-Puppet Joe Barton In Today's Ben Sargent 'Toon
[2] John Kelso (Austin's Faux Redneck) On Barton's "Apology"
[3] Today's Austin Fishwrap Editorial On Joe (Dumbo) Barton
[4} Damage Control: Joe Barton's BCS Diversion

[x Austin Fishwrap]
[1]Back To Directory
"Joe Barton — Big Oil's Hand-Puppet"
By Ben Sargent

[Ben Sargent was the editorial cartoonist for the Austin American-Statesman from 1974 to 2009; Sargent's cartoon still appear on an irregular basis. His cartoons are also distributed nationally by Universal Press Syndicate. Sargent was born in Amarillo, Texas, into a newspaper family. He learned the printing trade from age twelve and started working for the local daily as a proof runner at fourteen. He attended Amarillo College and received a Bachelor of Journalism degree from the University of Texas at Austin in 1970. Sargent won the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning in 1982. He has also received awards from Women in Communications, Inc., Common Cause of Texas, and Cox Newspapers. He is the author of Texas Statehouse Blues (1980) and Big Brother Blues (1984).]
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You Should Be Sorry For Saying You're Sorry, If You're Not Really Sorry
By John Kelso

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Could we knock off all the phony apologizing in this country?

Sorry to bring this up. But, these days, saying you're sorry in U.S. politics doesn't mean much — except that if you don't say you're sorry, you'll lose your seat.

Sure, some regular-folk apologies are genuine, like when you're pulling your pants on to climb out the back window before your girlfriend's 280-pound biker old man comes through the door. Now that's sorry.

But let's face it: Saying "I apologize" on CNN in a prearranged statement is a white-collar version of crying uncle.

The newest member of the Apology Hall of Fame Museum and Gift Shop is U.S. Representative Joe Barton, R-Ennis, who on Thursday out-Helen Thomased Helen Thomas. She's the mouthy old lady columnist and reporter who apologized and retired after saying the Jews should "get the hell out of Palestine" and go back to Germany.

Barton apologized twice in the same day, then did an update of the second apology. So, in essence, he apologized three times in one day.

That's loadin' 'em up. That's a triple lutz in the Apology Olympics.

Also, Barton apologized for apologizing. He should get a brass statue for that.

Barton began stepping in it when he apologized to BP Chief Executive Tony Hayward, while Hayward was being chopped and diced by Congress. BP is the big oil company responsible for those 30-weight pelicans in the Gulf of Mexico. BP's new corporate motto: Spill Baby, Spill.

In his apology, Barton called the $20 billion relief fund pushed through by President Barack Obama for victims of the disaster a "shakedown" of BP. That's not a shakedown. Tony Soprano with a baseball bat — that's a shakedown.

"I apologize," Barton said to Hayward. "I do not want to live in a country where any time a citizen or a corporation does something that is legitimately wrong is subject to some sort of political pressure that is — again, in my words, amounts to a shakedown."

Yeah, you hate it when a wealthy company has to pony up for doing something "legitimately wrong." Oh, did I mention that, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, Barton has gotten $1.4 million since 1990 in campaign funds from the oil and gas industry? This is why when Hayward drives up, Barton says, "Check under that hood for you, mister?"

Anyway, Barton's mouth had so runneth over that it set off Republicans on Capitol Hill . GOP big shots made Barton apologize for his BP apology, or lose his power position on the House Energy and Commerce Committee,

"If anything I said this morning has been misconstrued, in opposite effect, I want to apologize for that misconstruction," Barton said.

Apparently, GOP leaders were afraid that apology might be, you know, equally miscontructioned. So, Barton came up with a clarification of the second apology. "I apologize for using the term ‘shakedown'... " he began.

Yeah, right. He apologized because he'd be the one who'd get shook down, if he didn't apologize. So let's can the phony apologies, OK?

[Downeaster (Maine-native) John Kelso has worked for the Austin (Texas) American-Statesman as a humor columnist since 1977. Before coming to Austin, Kelso worked at several newspapers: The Manchester (NH) Union-Leader; The Boonville (MO) Daily News; The Palm Beach (FL) Post, and the Racine (WI) Journal Times. Kelso has been a general assignment reporter, a copy editor, a sports editor, and an outdoor writer. As a pretend-redneck, Kelso is all gimme cap and no double-wide. His redneck-shtik appears thrice weekly: Sundays, Tuesdays, and Fridays in the Austin Fishwrap.]
[3]Back To Directory
Our Expert On Spewing And Siphoning
By The Austin Fishwrap Editorial Board

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You've got to be a pretty compassionate guy to feel sorry these days for BP pretty compassionate or a longtime beneficiary of dependable campaign cash from the oil and gas industry.

We're not sure if he is in the former category, but we do know that U.S. Representative Joe Barton, R-TX, is in the latter. And it's difficult to forget that when you try to figure out why he apologized (a move he later retracted) to BP CEO Tom Hayward during a Thursday hearing on the Gulf oil spill.

"I'm speaking totally for myself," Barton told Hayward, "I'm not speaking for the Republican Party... but I'm ashamed of what happened in the White House (Wednesday)."

What happened was that BP, under due pressure from President Barack Obama, agreed to set aside $20 billion to cover damage caused by the oil spewing from BP's blown-out well in the Gulf of Mexico. Obama was right to push for the commitment, and BP was right to agree to it.

But Barton called it a "tragedy of the first proportion that a private corporation can be subjected to what I would characterize as a shakedown, a $20 billion shakedown."

Later, Barton said it is "very un-American to have the president of the United States demand $20 billion and have a company agree without being able to exercise all its rights under our system of laws and precedents." Barton is correct about rights and laws and precedents. But until we see evidence that BP did not willingly agree to the deal, we're going to assume company lawyers were aware of those rights and laws and precedents, and BP, nevertheless, opted to agree to cough up the cash.

BP should be commended for doing so. Barton should be castigated for insinuating the move was anything other than voluntary.

"Congressman Barton may think that a fund to compensate these Americans is a ‘tragedy,' but most Americans know that the real tragedy is what the men and women of the Gulf Coast are going through right now," said White House spokesman Robert Gibbs. "Members from both parties should repudiate his comments."

And they did. Vice President Joe Biden slammed Barton's comments as "outrageous."

"There is an entire way of life in jeopardy" along the Gulf Coast, Biden said. "There's no shakedown."

From Barton's side of the aisle, there was this repudiation from House GOP Leader John Boehner of Ohio: "BP agreed to fund the cost of this cleanup from the beginning, and I'm glad they're being held accountable."

Hours after his original comment, Barton was in damage control mode, issuing a statement noting "BP should bear the full financial responsibility for the accident on their lease in the Gulf of Mexico."

At the hearing, Barton said, "If anything I have said this morning has been misconstrued to an opposite effect, I want to apologize for that misconstruction."

Oh, we think it was pretty clear. And, despite the damage control — and Barton's after-the-fact apology for using the term "shakedown" and retraction of his apology to BP — you've got to wonder how much they pay a guy to say that kind of stuff in the first place.

In Barton's case, the answer is $100,470 since Jan. 1, 2009. That's the amount he's received in political contributions from oil and gas interests. And that's second highest on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the panel where Barton issued his apology to Hayward.

U.S. Representative Roy Blount, R-MO, is the only committee member who got more money from that industry over that period, $133,100.

Since 1989, Barton has received $1.45 million from the oil and gas industry, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, which says that makes Barton the industry's top beneficiary in the House over that time.

It's unfortunate what you can hear when you put an industry's money where a congressman's mouth is.

[Austin Fishwrap Editorial Board: Michael Vivio — Publisher, Edward Burns — CFO, Editor — Fred Zipp, Managing Editor — Debbie Hiott, Editorial Page Editor — Arnold Garcia, Jr., Editorial Writers — Alberta Phillips and Ken Herman]

Copyright © 2010 The Austin American-Statesman
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U.S. Representative Barton Still Hopes For BCS' Downfall
By The AP

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One of the most powerful advocates of a college football playoff system believes the Big 12's brush with death might eventually help doom the BCS.

It's not going to happen right away, said Texas Representative Joe Barton. But the promise of renewed television riches that persuaded the Big 12's major football members to reject overtures from the Pac-10 has shone the spotlight on the huge financial jackpot awaiting a playoff.

"The reason the Big 12 stayed together is the commissioner was able to put together a deal that enabled Texas and Texas A&M to go from about $8 million-$12 million a year to around $20 million a year" apiece, the Republican said. "I don't really have a dog in the hunt as to how the conferences ought to be aligned. But I do think this moves us toward a playoff because we now know where the money is."

After Colorado announced it was going to the Pac-10 and Nebraska agreed to become the Big Ten's 12th member, the Pac-10 made a bid for all Big 12 South schools except Baylor. As Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott flew from campus to campus in Texas and Oklahoma making his pitch, the Big 12 teetered on the brink.

Momentum seemed to be building toward a handful of 16-team mega-conferences.

As the drama unfolded over several rumor-filled days, BCS haters took heart that a historic, tectonic shift in the collegiate landscape would naturally result in a championship tournament among four or five super leagues. But the Big 12 elected not to disband, and only two other schools switched leagues, Boise State (to the Mountain West) and Utah (to the Pac-10.)

"I think what happened with the Big 12 staying together maybe postpones the creation of a playoff system," said Barton, who has introduced anti-BCS legislation in Congress. "But it doesn't eliminate it."

BCS executive director Bill Hancock said he wasn't worried.

"The fact is, the consensus of all of the schools in the 11 conferences support the BCS," Hancock said. "There are some who have said they would rather do something else. But it's a small percentage because the presidents of those schools know the BCS works. It does match the top two teams in a bowl game and it does preserve the importance of the regular season. And it does preserve the bowl system that so many people enjoy."

Another sign of the long-range health of the BCS is its new four-year, $495 million contract with ESPN. But Barton isn't buying it.

"All those contracts have a kickout clause. They could go to a playoff and modify the contract," he said. Ω

[The Associated Press is a U.S. news agency. The AP is a cooperative owned by its contributing newspapers, radio and television stations in the United States, which both contribute stories to the AP and use material written by its staff journalists. Many newspapers and broadcasters outside the United States are AP subscribers, paying a fee to use AP material without being contributing members of the cooperative.]

Copyright © 2010 The Associated Press

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