A.M. 7-28-08: Big Oil Agitprop, Hamptons Gloom, Release the Hounds


Running down the dailies:

Post: “That ’70s Woe in Rerun:
Gov Warning of Worst Economy in Decades”

Tell us something we don’t know.

Frederic U. Dicker‘s “exclusive” is that Gov. David Paterson is going to make “an unprecedented special address” to New Yorkers about it.

It’s not unprecedented for Paterson to make a special speech about New Yorkers getting fucked. He did the same thing earlier this year about Eliot Spitzer.

Daily News: “Father of 3 shot dead — ‘asked the wrong girl to dance’ “

Crime hed/lede of the morning. Courtesy of Edgar Sandoval, Xana O’Neill, and Simone Weichselbaum (and their editors), to wit and to the point:

Joscelyn Francis just wanted a dance. Instead, the father of three caught a bullet.

An angry gunman shot Francis, 27, execution-style early Sunday morning as the doting dad left a barbecue in Jamaica, Queens, cops said.

Francis’ fatal mistake: He asked “the wrong girl to dance,” said a police source.

Times: ‘Fuel Subsidies Overseas Take a Toll on U.S.’

Shameless propaganda for oil companies. The word “profit” doesn’t even make an appearance, despite the fact that only four months ago Congress publicly grilled oil execs for their exorbitant profit-taking.

The paper’s Keith Bradsher writes this morning:

JAKARTA, Indonesia — To understand why fuel prices in the United States have soared over the last year, it helps to talk to the captain of a battered wooden freighter here. … He pays just $2.30 a gallon for diesel, the same price Indonesian motorists pay for regular gasoline. …

From Mexico to India to China, governments fearful of inflation and street protests are heavily subsidizing energy prices, particularly for diesel fuel. But the subsidies — estimated at $40 billion this year in China alone — are also removing much of the incentive to conserve fuel.

The oil company BP, known for thorough statistical analysis of energy markets, estimates that countries with subsidies accounted for 96 percent of the world’s increase in oil use last year — growth that has helped drive prices to record levels.

In most countries that do not subsidize fuel, high prices have caused oil demand to stagnate or fall, as economic theory says they should. But in countries with subsidies, demand is still rising steeply, threatening to outstrip the growth in global supplies.

President Bush warned about the effects of subsidies on July 15. …

Yes, the oil-patch president, the one who failed in the oil bidness despite subsidies from Daddy Bush’s rich pals, is telling America about poor, poor Big Oil.

In any case, the Times story is relative hogwash — which will not, unfortunately, power your vehicle.

You’re much better off (in knowledge, not money) reading this morning’s overseas/oil story in the Washington Post, “China’s Cars, Accelerating A Global Demand for Fuel,” wherein Ariana Eunjung Cha notes:

Car ownership in China is exploding, and it’s not only cars but also sport-utility vehicles, pickup trucks and other gas-guzzling rides. Elsewhere in the world, the popularity of these vehicles has tumbled as the cost of oil has soared. But in China, the number of SUVs sold rose 43 percent in May compared with the previous year, and full-size sedans were up 15 percent. Indeed, China’s demand for gas is much of the reason for the dramatic run-up in global oil prices.

She doesn’t mention the word “profit” either, but the WashPost story at least points fingers at Chinese consumers and their SUVs instead of some hapless Indonesian and his battered wooden freighter. Typical of a Times story to blame the poor, no matter how many poor kids the paper sends to summer camp.

No one remembers, of course, the time when government regulation of U.S. oil production — a rational idea never considered these days — was actually pushed by a White House. Read this history lesson from the U.K. site Spartacus Educational:

When Franklin D. Roosevelt gained power he attempted to push a bill through Congress that would give his Secretary of the Interior, Harold Ickes, the authority to regulate domestic oil production. However, Sam Rayburn, a politician from Texas, as chairman of the House Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce, was able to kill the bill. …

As Robert Bryce pointed out in his book, Cronies: Oil, the Bushes, and the Rise of Texas, America’s Superstate: “Numerous studies showed that the oilmen were getting a tax break that was unprecedented in American business. While other businessmen had to pay taxes on their income regardless of what they sold, the oilmen got special treatment.”

He was referring to the former oil-depletion allowance, but the oil bidness still reaps the benefits of absurd, destructive tax breaks. When Congress roasted the oil execs last April, CNN’s Steve Hargeaves pointed out:

With oil trading at over $100 a barrel and Americans forking out over $3 a gallon for gas, the oil industry has come under fire for its record profits over the last few years. Exxon Mobil made $40 billion in 2007 alone, and the other big companies have all posted record profits in the billions.



Mediocre hed (for the Post), but Selim Algar‘s lede does a good job of mongering fear:

The Hamptons are becoming a no-fun zone. Seemingly innocent and simple requests to hang balloons outside a storefront and another to give out free snow cones were shot down by East Hampton officials, leading to whispers of martial law on the picturesque downtown.


Classic Post toastie — investigative gossip — by Jeane MacIntosh and Kati Cornell:

A well-connected New York Catholic fervently vouched for Raffaello Follieri, the alleged church con artist and ex-Anne Hathaway beau, to a worried flock of diocesan investors after Follieri was first fingered in a $1.3 million scam last year, the Post has learned.

Calling Follieri “a good Catholic boy,” Nicholas Mastronardi, a respected philanthropist and Wall Street money whiz, “assured” investors and religious leaders that Follieri’s legal woes were “blown out of proportion,” according to sources.

At the time, Mastronardi was chief financial officer of Follieri Capital and defended the alleged fraudster amid embezzlement charges filed against him in a suit by supermarket magnate Ron Burkle.

It is hard to believe that the Post didn’t at least use this piece to take a shot at Hillary and Bill Clinton — Burkle is perhaps their prime sugar daddy. (See my February 2008 item “Gelt Trip” for details.)

But the story does have a great kicker:

Motioning to a big, barking dog behind a fence, Mastronardi asked a reporter to leave, noting, “If you don’t get out of here, I’ll let that dog out on you.”

In the journo game, you haven’t made your bones as a reporter until you’ve been threatened by a politician or a mogul’s dogs or had a sheriff pin you against a wall like a butterfly.

Times: “Democracy Institute Gives Donors Access to McCain”

Timesman Mike McIntire‘s story is promoted this way: “The International Republican Institute is in many ways at odds with John McCain‘s political outsider image.” His lede:

As Senator John McCain waited to speak at the annual awards dinner of the International Republican Institute, a democracy-building group he has led for 15 years, lobbyists and business executives dominated the stage at a Washington hotel ballroom.

Sorry, Mike, I wrote about McCain’s links to this GOP agitprop arm in April — when he called Bush “a president who dares to work for the best” — and about the IRI’s links to the Wolfie/World Bank scandal before that.

Bush does dare to work for the best and richest oil execs. McIntire’s story, however, does dare to insert some good detail.

But this continuing canard about McCain as a “political outsider.” Jesus, he’s anything but.