What Planet Are They From?

I have come across a couple of articles in the past few days that really left me shaking my head. One praises Hugo Chavez as a hero, and the other blasts oil companies for their multi-million dollar gifts to higher education. These people definitely see the world through a very different set of lenses than I do.

Hugo Chavez: Hero of the People

There are extremists on both ends of the political spectrum. For every Ann Coulter on the Right, there is a Wayne Madsen on the Left: Both are just as out of touch as they can possibly be. I have found that I can’t communicate with either sort of extremist, because they are generally entrenched in their views and impervious to any reasoning that challenges them. First up we have Madsen praising Hugo Chavez:

Better Than Bush’s Let-Them-Eat-Cake

Source: The Augusta Chronicle
Publication date: 2007-03-19

By Wayne Madsen

WASHINGTON – Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez and American President Bush could not be further opposites. While Bush, an oil family scion, incoherently blathers on about the problems of highly priced gasoline and heating oil, his oil industry friends rack up obscene profits.

Meanwhile, Chavez, the champion of his country’s poor, delivers on his promises by providing deeply discounted home-heating oil, through Venezuela’s state-owned Citgo, to low-income Americans.

It should be clear to all thinking Americans that Chavez delivers and Bush does not.

Take that, Chavez critics. You aren’t “thinking Americans.”

THE BUSH-CHENEY oil cartel finds it reprehensible that poor people receive a 40 percent discount on their heating oil. For them, it is outrageous that such a program might eat into the grotesque profits of their oil industry pals.

What is monstrous is that Bush and Dick Cheney would sit idly by as America’s poor and elderly freeze to death in their homes because they cannot pay for luxuriously-priced home-heating oil.

Yes, “luxuriously-priced home-heating oil.” The current spot price is $1.67 a gallon, much lower than the apparently even more “luxuriously-priced” items like milk and bottled water. This is the problem with extremism. In his rabid state, Madsen takes complete leave of his senses and makes these preposterous claims.

Words can’t describe the level of cluelessness exhibited here. First, why can Chavez even provide deeply discounted heating oil? Because his country invited oil companies in to do business, they invested billions of dollars developing Venezuela’s oil fields, and now Chavez is saying “I’ll take that.” What Chavez hasn’t figured out yet – or maybe he is starting to as oil production continues to decline in his country – is that regardless of whether your oil industry is being run by private companies, or by the government, it takes major capital expenditures to keep it going.

So, can Chavez under-invest in the industry while diverting money to his pet causes? He can for a while, but you can see the results. Despite having enormous oil reserves, he and his cronies are running Venezuela’s oil industry right into the ground. His generosity to the poor has only been possible because he had a goose that laid golden eggs because they constantly reinvested money back into the business. Once he kills the goose, where is he going to get the money to continue his programs? I guess he could invite the oil companies back in and try to repeat the cycle, but I think they will be a bit more cautious next time around.

Big Oil’s Reprehensible Philanthropy

Next, the FTCR is in the news again. I could probably do a regular column on them. As far as I can tell, their mission statement seems to be “Slam oil companies and issue a press release every time we do.” I honestly can’t see that they serve any function besides self-promotion. They put out one misinformed press release after another, but now they have come up with perhaps the most disturbing Big Oil story ever:

ConocoPhillips Tries To Buy Into “Big Oil U” In Greenwash Campaign

SANTA MONICA, Calif., March 20 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — ConocoPhillips, with a $6 million gift to the University of Oklahoma’s School of Geology and Geophysics, is the latest oil giant seeking to buy respectability by capitalizing on the name of a well-known university, the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR) said today.

Why that’s disgusting! An oil company with Oklahoma roots giving money to an Oklahoma institution of higher learning! Despicable. Of course if the FTCR wasn’t quite so clueless, they might recognize that oil companies have a long history of giving to higher education, and in fact most oil companies have a dedicated budget for philanthropic causes. But I don’t expect the FTCR to know that, nor to mention it if they did, since it doesn’t support their mission statement. It seems that this is all new news to the FTCR, and they felt compelled to spin it as bad news by claiming that Big Oil is suddenly trying to buy respectability.

“Big Oil, an industry that has made billions at the expense of the environment, is trying to clean up its deservedly dirty image by associating with well-known universities,” said John M. Simpson, consumer advocate with FTCR. “Independent academic activities are too important to let them be sold to Big Oil companies that want to greenwash their image.”

Just to show the rank hypocrisy within the FTCR, remember that these are the guys calling for sub-$2.00 gasoline. Let’s see, guys. Will cheap gas make environmental problems better or worse? If they had their way and got what they wanted, we would consume much more gasoline than we currently consume. Would that be good or bad, fellows? Take your time.

If you don’t like oil companies and think they are polluting the environment, then what do you think you are doing when you drive a car or fly on an airplane? Are they doing the polluting, or are you? Don’t be a hypocrite. Make a stand against pollution by giving up your petroleum-based fuels, plastics, paints, medicines, fertilizers, clothing, etc.

“For a paltry $6 million, Conoco gets naming rights to the school and an industry friendly professor to spout their warped view of the world in an academic environment. We call on the regents to reject this deal,” said Simpson.

So, these companies have a “deservedly dirty image” and a “warped view of the world”, they have “made billions at the expense of the environment” and are now “seeking to buy respectability” with their “paltry $6 million.” Gosh, at least these guys aren’t biased in their viewpoints. I wonder how many of them drive cars and fly on airlines?

Stanford University’s Global Climate and Energy Program receives $100 million from ExxonMobil. The oil giant has recently launched an advertising campaign touting its involvement with the university. Movie producer Steve Bing, a Stanford alumnus, was so appalled by the campaign that he canceled a $2 million pledge to the school.

So Stanford netted $98 million dollars after Bing pouted and went home. I think Stanford can live with that deal.

Meanwhile, UC Berkeley is negotiating a $500 million deal with BP to create the Energy Biosciences Institute on campus.

No way! I also heard that when they aren’t destroying the world by funding higher education, they spend their time torturing puppies.

“Big Oil has an image problem,” said Simpson. “We simply cannot allow them to fix it by turning our respected colleges and universities into ‘Big Oil U’.”

Now isn’t this what you really meant? “Big Oil has an image problem. We simply cannot allow them to fix it because our mission is to perpetuate it.”

Perhaps if the FTCR had done their homework, they might have come across this article:

Okla. Univ. Receives $6M Gift From ConocoPhillips

Source:Journal Record – Oklahoma City
Publication date: 2007-03-16

Frank Phillips of Bartlesville and E.W. Marland of Ponca City – two Oklahoma oil industry pioneers – were among the first private donors to the University of Oklahoma.

Phillips and his brother started Phillips Petroleum and Marland founded Marland Oil, which merged with Continental Oil Co. – Conoco – in 1929. Phillips Petroleum and Conoco merged in 2002.

On Thursday, the company now known as ConocoPhillips and based in Houston continued the tradition of providing financial support to OU with a $6 million contribution allocated to the School of Geology and Geophysics.

Total gifts and pledges to OU from ConocoPhillips now total $33 million, said David L. Boren, OU president.

The FTCR press release closes with this whopper:

The nonpartisan, nonprofit Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR) is a leading consumer watchdog group.

Non-partisan? Non-partisan?!! I wonder what definition of non-partisan they are using? When every article that they write about oil companies is riddled with adjectives like “deservedly dirty image” and a “warped view of the world”, they show how much credibility they have by claiming that they are “non-partisan.”

And if that story wasn’t bad enough, this one will really make the FTCR’s blood boil:

ConocoPhillips Contributes $1 Million To Memorial Hermann Life Flight

HOUSTON, Mar. 20, 2007 – ConocoPhillips announced today its contribution of $1 million to Memorial Hermann Life Flight to help with the purchase of six new helicopters that will provide enhanced emergency care to the community.

“Since its inception in 1976, Memorial Hermann’s Life Flight has brought hope to thousands of patients who have required emergency medical care and transportation,” said Phil Frederickson, executive vice president, ConocoPhillips. “By replacing the existing four helicopters and adding two new helicopters, Life Flight will be able to reach many more people who have life-threatening medical conditions.”

They should set up a hotline for consumers to call in and turn in oil companies every time they commit philanthropy. If they like, I can get them a hundred more stories like these. They can issue a scathing press release in response to each story.

8 thoughts on “What Planet Are They From?”

  1. “ConocoPhillips announced today its contribution of $1 million to Memorial Hermann Life Flight”…isn’t it obvious how nefarious this is? Helicopters use gasoline or jet fuel, which comes from oil: hence, this is an attempt by COP to sell more oil. Even worse, it is a reinforcement of Western medical science, which does violence to the natural order, as opposed to the gentle and holistic practices of traditional healing.

    (It’s easy to write stuff like the above: just put your brain into “reverse” mode)

    There really are people who think that way, and a nontrivial number of them, too

  2. Helicopters use gasoline or jet fuel, which comes from oil: hence, this is an attempt by COP to sell more oil.

    Believe it or not, I almost wrote that into the story. 🙂

    There really are people who think that way, and a nontrivial number of them, too

    Oh, I know. I run across them all the time.

    Cheers, RR

  3. That article really burns me because the heating oil “gift” Chavez is giving out is a thinly veiled propaganda tactic and she is falling for it. Let’s look at what Chavez has delivered for his own people–nothing. Take a look at all the huge weapons purchases he’s made for absolutely useless equipment from Russia. Take a look at all the threats about “reclaiming” territory from his neighbors and his funding for insurgents. His neighbors aren’t very happy with him.

    My advice for Bush, don’t do a damned thing, because this guy is steadily pushing all the other Latin American countries toward us because they realize what a whack-job faux-egalatarian Chavez is.

    As far as all her blathering about obscene profits by the oil companies, I have no qualms with that whatsoever. Oil is a finite resource, and if you don’t like it, start switching to an alternative or start to save gas. They either need to get what they can out of it while it lasts, or start building up cash reserves to invest in something else. We in this country have no right to gripe about this.

  4. I do my best to try and stay objective on things like this, and I agree with you Robert that slamming an oil company for philanthropy isn’t sane.

    But, on the other hand, the problem with defending any large corporation is that all corporations have an obligation to their shareholders to show maximum profit, and in most cases maximum profit in the short term regardless of the long term effects.

    These people claim that “Big Oil” is evil. The same people that are making these claims probably have pensions, mutual funds or direct investments in these corporations and when it comes down to their retirement funds, they want to see maximum return on their investment like all of the other shareholders. If they don’t, their investments will move to a corporation that is showing a profit, whether they actively are managing it or it’s their pension or mutual fund and they are ignorant of where their money is.

    The philanthropy is more about taxes and P.R. than actually doing good, but “Big Oil” or Microsoft aren’t evil.

    I am.

  5. I get physically ill when I hear people praising Hugo Chavez. I hear it frequently on Air America and from Hollywood liberals. He is the biggest threat to freedom in the western hemisphere.

    The next thing you know, enlightened college students will be wearing Che Guevara T-shirts. Oh wait, I see it all the time.

    It’s insanity!

  6. The philanthropy is more about taxes and P.R. than actually doing good, but “Big Oil” or Microsoft aren’t evil.

    Of course. When companies make a large donation, they announce it for the PR effect. My main point is that the FTCR seems to have just stumbled onto this philanthropy, and tried to spin it as an attempt to “redeem” themselves. However, the FTCR missed the fact that if you go back 50 years, you will see a track record of 50 years of philanthropy.

    And of course this isn’t limited to oil companies. I have worked for other companies, and most have a matching gifts program where they will match contributions to the charity of your choice (in addition to the larger corporate charitable contributions).

    Cheers, RR

  7. Chavez is Robin Hood in reverse.

    His oil donation program takes money that the poor citizens of his country could really use.

    This money is then given to people in the United States who have a quality of life far, far, better then the poor in Venezuela. Madsen cheers this on.

    The mind boggles at his ignorance.


  8. I wish those defenders of Chavez and his largesse would familiarize themselves with how Chavez has contributed to oil price gains that have more than offset his “discounts”….The first was unitentional – cutting his country’s producton capacity through underinvestment aand mismanagement – and the rest were very much intentional – threatening to cut off suppies to the U.S. and encouraging his fellow OPEC members to restrain production….

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