Belicove’s Four For Friday

Due to the Beli-Blog being in the midst of updates that will make it more powerful than Superman (literally, being that Superman is not real… sorry to break it to you), Mikal has asked that I, Stu, host today’s Four For Friday, an honor for which I am more than happy to oblige to.

And now, the venerable FFF!

Q1 – Big Oil, Big Spill: The U.S. Supreme Court agreed earlier this week to decide whether Exxon Mobil Corp. should pay $2.5 billion in punitive damages to fishermen and other victims in connection with the huge Exxon Valdez oil spill that ruined more than 1,200 miles of Alaskan coastline in 1989. Exxon’s position on the matter is that a ship’s owner should not be “vicariously” liable for the reckless behavior of a captain, and that punitive damages greater than $25 million are not justified because the spill resulted from an accident. Attorneys for the fishermen and other victims contend that Exxon bore responsibility for the accident because the company knowingly put a drunk in charge of an oil tanker. What do you think? Based on what you just read or know from the longstanding case, should Exxon Mobil be made to pay the $2.5 billion in punitive damages?

Q2 – Racism: Do you think you could be friends with a racist?

Q3 – Criminal Background Checks: Most cities and towns have their fair share of controversy, but Eagle Mountain, Utah, seems to be a magnet for suspicious characters. Back in the late 1990′s, voters learned that a candidate for Mayor had previously been convicted of tax fraud and served time in a minimum-security prison.
In 2003, the town’s Mayor told his police and his wife that he had been forced to drive to California at gunpoint. After learning he lied about the incident, police charged the then Mayor with filing a false report to police. Last year, Eagle Mountain’s Mayor was charged with seven felony counts of misuse of public funds. Now, someone whose Real Estate license was recently pulled by the State of Utah over allegations of Real Estate Fraud is running for Mayor, and a sitting councilwoman was recently charged with a second-degree felony for apparently accepting a $10,000 gift without reporting it to the city. Do you think candidates for public office should be compelled to submit to criminal background checks, with the results of such checks made publicly available; or is a candidate’s previous criminal prosecutions and adjudications no one else’s business?

Q4 – Food: Can you eat something with a texture that is visually unappealing. What about food that smells bad but taste good?

25 thoughts on “Belicove’s Four For Friday

  1. Stu

    Since I’m hosting, I get first response. Woohoo! Here goes…

    1. Big Oil: I suppose that, just as a Captain is responsible for the actions of those under his/her command, Exxon ought to be responsible for the actions of one of their ship’s captains. Especially if they knew he was drunk. However… $2.5 BILLION!? That’s a bit much.

    2. Racism: I am actually friends with racists. They are what I might call closeted racists who don’t even seem to be sure why they are racist (or might even think that they are not). However, a neo-nazi or skinhead? No way. Somebody that exudes that much hate I simply could not be around.

    3. Criminal Background Checks: First, Eagle Mountain is quite a racket, and that’s about all I’ll say about that messed up place. As for background checks on candidates for public office, no I don’t believe that should be a requirement.

    4. Food: Not a problem for me. I’ve eaten stuff that is both visually unappealing and nasty tasting. Most of the time I can get it down without any indication that I think it’s disgusting… up to a point. However, since smell is such an integral part of taste, I don’t think something that smells bad can taste much better.

  2. Greg

    1. Chain of command dictates that Exxon is responsible for the people they put in charge of their ship, and although I tend to hate big oil, I can’t see how they owe 2.5 billion.

    2. Its all about willful versus ingnorant racism. My wife is racist, but she is not actively hateful and when pressed has admitted that she thinks it has more to do with fear of a group of people she’s never had to interact with at any level. Anyone who is willfully or actively hateful is too much of a downer for me to hang around.

    3. At the local level, its tough to find out much about political cantidates, so some limited version of a background check might be valuable to the voters. Though I seriously doubt it could ever be made law, I think cantidates in a place like Eagle Mountain could score major points by doing it voluntarily. At the national level, isn’t that what the media and opposing cantidates are doing for us?

    4. I can handle visually unappealing but there are very few things that smell bad that I can even comtemplate eating without feeling sick.

  3. Zirker

    1) The captain was operating as an agent of Exxon mobile and therefore, Exxon is responsible for his actions. I think they should have to pay for ruining the environment. On the other hand, I don’t really want to pay $8 per gallon for gasoline.

    2) No.

    3) I think candidates for public office should have background checks performed and made available to the public. When I apply for a job, many employers run background checks to ensure they know who they are hiring. Running for public office is the same as applying for a job and the citizens are the employer, so they should be able to do the background check and know who they are hiring.

    4) I can eat things that are not visually appealing, but I try to avoid it. I like to enjoy my food and there is so much good stuff out there that there is no reason to eat stuff that looks or smells bad.

  4. Wesly

    1. Oil. Wow. Oil with monies. I think they should pay up, but its hard to determine the damages. Maybe I should say the oil spill gave me cancer, I need some money.

    2.I think African Americans are cooler than Whiteys, and I’m a white guy. Am I racist against my own race? Kill whitey? I’ll refer to They Might Be Giants album Flood, song Your Racist Friend -
    “This is where the party ends
    I can’t stand here listening to you
    And your racist friend
    I know politics bore you
    But I feel like a hypocrite talking to you
    And your racist friend”

    3. Eagle Mountain must suck.. I mean, those politicians suck.. I mean, wait – what was the question?

    4. After being in Mexico for quite awhile and having eating everything from chicken legs to pig balls nothing really phases me anymore.

  5. Steve

    Q1 – Big Oil, Big Spill: I just learned that if you wanted to count to a billion, that it would take you 16 hours a day, 7 days a week for 37 years before you made it to a billion. Just to show you how much a billion is. But, I think both are responsible. Definitely Exxon should have to pay, but that shouldn’t leave the captain unscathed. It may sound harsh, but I would not only propose fines, but also jail time for the captain as he was DUI.

    Q2 – Racism: Depends on who he is racist towards! I’m totally kidding. I think some of my friends already are to a small degree, but an extreme racist, NO.

    Q3 – Criminal Background Checks: When individuals put themselves in the public eye, then they are willfully putting themselve up for public scrutiny. Definitely, public officials should be required to submit criminal background checks, and these should be made available to the public. Heck, if people knew they were voting for a registered sex offender, they probably would vote for someone else.

    Q4 – Food: Never had anything that smells bad but tastes good, but I do have to say that I’ve eaten a lot of things that look bad but taste great. Appearance isn’t everything, but smell is a whole different story.

  6. Ginger

    1. Exxon should pay. As much as I’ve been overpaying for gas, I think they can shell out some of that money to those whose livelihood was affected by the spill.

    2. I don’t think I could be friends with a racist. I’m sure that somewhere in their mind there would be aspects about me they do not like (gender, religion, race…) and that would prevent any real friendship.

    3. You want to serve the public in a public capacity funded by our tax dollars, then darn tootin’ we need background/criminal checks.

    4. Sure. Mind over matter. As long as it is pleasing to the palate, then who cares about smell and texture? Just power through.

  7. jercore

    Q1 – Big Oil, Big Spill: They can and should pay. They made almost $40 billion in PROFIT last year. Not revenues. PROFIT. $2.5B won’t even hurt them, and it was their oil and their tanker. Pay up slackers!

    Q2 – Racism: Lot’s of levels on this one. An aggressive racist, no way. But my grandparents display lots of tendencies of some level of ignorance and what a lot of really sensitive people would call racism. I have friends that do to.

    Q3 – Criminal Background Checks: You bet it’s our business. If you don’t want that kind of scrutiny, don’t run for office. And if you are in office, don’t be a total idiot. And yes, Eagle Mountain is done, take the fork out of that place. They are AWOL out there.

    Q4 – Food: Nope and Nope. The way the food looks and smells are both as important to me as the way it tastes.

  8. Meadow

    Q1. I think they definitely should pay, if they don’t want to worry about big spills like this again, be more careful with who you hire to “drive’ a girnomous tanker full of oil, duh.

    Q2: Racism, yes I am friends with some racists, but not with anyone that is extreme and I don’t plan on it any time soon.

    Q3: I think criminal background checks should be performed for public officials as well as police officers. They have quite a bit of power, maybe fear of people knowing their past will keep them in line ;) .

    Q4: I can’t handle weird textures at all and weird smells do me in every time. I’d never make it on Fear Factor or Survivor.

  9. captain-kid

    1 – I think they should be responsible. I’ll admit that it’s been so long ago that I don’t remember all the details of the case, but oil is a very profitable business. One of the risks inherent in that business is a spill. If you want the profits, you have to assume responsibility for the risks as well. You can’t have the best of both worlds. If your tanker spills, you’re responsible for the damages. Period. Doesn’t matter if it was your driver’s fault or an act of God. However, when the employee that you hired and that you manage screws up, you’re even more responsible.

    2 – I’m pretty sure I am friends with a racist–possibly more than one. Doesn’t mean I support their racism or sympathize with their racist views. Love the sinner, hate the sin. Of course, the people I’m thinking of are pretty mild in their racism. I don’t think I could ever be friends with someone who was openly antagonistic or extremely vocal. Example: I couldn’t be friends with a KKK members

    3 – You forgot one. I was living in Eagle Mountain, during the last mayoral elections. A few months after the elections, it was revealed that the winning candidate had lied about several of his qualifications. Most glaring was that he claimed to have a his MPA degree from BYU, but it turns out that he never even graduated. Oops. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to have background checks for candidates for public office. Most employers perform background checks on potential employees. Since public officials are essentially employees of the public, why should we be able to have access to the same info that other employers do?

    4 – Yes and yes. I don’t always enjoy it, but I can eat just about anything.

  10. captain-kid

    I don’t know why, but I’ve always tried to answer the questions before reading everyone else’s answers, but I think I’m going to stop as it makes for redundant reading for comment readers. I could have easily just ditto-ed other peoples comments here. Seems like so far this is a pretty non-polarizing FFF. And Wes, I was humming TMBG while writing my response. Rock on!

  11. Marjorie

    Q1 – I think they should be accountable – they employed him knowing he was not fully functional when performing a job. It would be like the city employing a bus driver they knew to drink on the job and then saying it wasn’t their fault when he took out a sidewalk full of people.

    Q2 – If they are seriously racist, no way. I don’t think they’d accept me, anyhow, due to my religion. Moderate I can ignore. But probably couldn’t be extremely close friends.

    Q3 – Candidates for public office should by all means be subject to background checks. They are responsible for dictating where our money goes, they should be held accountable for their pasts as well as their actions.

    Q4 – It would really depend on what it was and my mood. If it really grossed me out, no way.

  12. Emily

    1. I think the oil company should be charged with not only ruining the livelihood of some people but also with their destruction of natural habitats. Oil companies should be forced to shed billions of dollars in profits to support wildlife refugees. Note I said “profits.” A certain percentage of their annual profits should be donated to help animals and plants that suffer from human interaction–with strict trustworthy government officials deciding on how high the price of oil can be raised. Eventually, oil will not be as profitable a business as it is now, which will lead to more hybrid or cars that run on poo (they have them in Europe now, though not widespread), which will lead to more cuddly animals not being dead.

    Colbert & Cox: Saving the cuddly things of the world (and doritos)

    2. Thanks to my wonderful husband Greg, now the world knows that I am slightly racist. I know its horrible, but I accept some stereotypes of different peoples. Most of it is due to my lack of interaction with some groups of people, as Greg said. I am trying to break my way of thinking, so please don’t hate me. As for me being friends with racists, I definitely could be, but that would kind of defeat the point of trying to change.

    3. Candidates for public office should definitely have background checks publicized.

    4. I don’t think I’ve ever had the option to eat anything super weird or something that smelled bad, so I don’t know whether I’d eat it or not.

  13. Steve L.

    Exxon: I think they should be held responsible for who they put behind the wheel. Yes $2.5 billion is a lot to us. Exxon reported $10.3 in PROFIT for Q2 2007, but apparently they don’t think that’s a lot at all. When questioned about their record profits, they say it’s just barely enough to keep going. Using their standard, $2.5 billion is a fair and small penalty.

    Racist Friend: I have worked with an ex-con white supremacist. We were not friends, but there was still a good part of the guy deep down. I believe anyone can turn around, but I couldn’t consider an overt racist a real friend.

    Bend over: I think if a community is hiring a person to serve in a position where public safety is at stake, background checks are important and necessary.

    Food: I can eat stuff that smells bad and tastes good – a la limburger cheese. The texture and appearance can make me gag more than the smell.

  14. Roy

    Exxon: I think that most court fines are a little extravegant. Exxon should be liable to a degree but 2.5 billion is a lot. Although, I don’t think that I am educated with the case enough to know what is involved.

    Racist: I think that I have quite a few friends that are racist but they don’t admiit it. In fact some times I think that my wife is somewhat racist. I still love her.

    Eagle Mountain: I think background checks should be made available.

    Food: I could eat something that isn’t visibly appealing. If it smells bad or tastes bad, I would rather not eat it.

  15. Ryan Roberts

    q1: yes they should pay. as steve and jer have made clear 2.5 billion isn’t as much to exxon as it is to anyone else. HOWEVER, they shouldn’t have to pay a lot just because they make a lot. They should have to pay what they damages were really worth, be that $25 Mill or $5 Bill.
    q2: no
    q3: yes they should. i think the most important qualifier for any public official is integrity (unfortunately we keep electing officials without much I’m afraid 2008 will be the same). background checks can help determine that.
    q4: can do

  16. Bryce

    Q1: Well I think it is the ethical thing to do regardless, and from what I can see, they’ve got the money to do it.

    Q2: I think I already am…

    Q3: Most definitely. How else can we seek to ensure that they live up to the creed that they should be held to.

    Q4: Texture yes, smell, no.

  17. Life With Buck

    Q1: I think Exxon should definitely pay and I suspect that’s how most people feel. Maybe it’s their Karma coming back on them.

    Q2: In this day and age it’s still quite possible to have grandparents etc. who are racist. And there’s not much you can do to change a 90-year-old racist. But should it be tolerated in anyone? No. You might not be able to change them but you don’t have to sit quietly while they get all racist up in your grill.

    Q3: Yes. By submitting to a background check that will assuredly be made public, many jerks won’t waste the public’s time by running in the first place.

    Q4: Smell is relative. Some people think the smell of liver and onions is nauseating, while I happen to love liver and onions. I hate the smell of 7-UP because it reminds me of the time I had to drink some weird citris-flavored medicine. Everyone’s food history raises its ugly head when it comes to smell and texture.

  18. ebakly

    Q1- If I am running around the street with a wheelbarrow full of oil and accidentally loose control on the wheel borrow and it hits the side of the side walk launching oil into my neighbor’s yard, on his house, trees, dog, car, and kids playing. I can rest assured it wouldn’t matter if I was drunk or not. I would owe big, to take care of the damages. I also would feel pretty bad. For some reason I don’t think Exxon feels bad, about anything. Raping us on fuel is pretty huge. I say nuke em all and give me the car that runs on electricity or water.

    Q2- If they can go to Mexico and hang with some of my other friends there and come out alive, then I am totally down.

    Q3- Public official…public knowledge. If you are representing and making decisions for our town or country I would like to know that your characteristics meet my wants in a leader. I feel like we are voting on actors that portray the best character right now. I want to know are they the kind who will stand up for what they believe to be is right or they going to always take the easy road? We need an electoral that has earned their money and their position, not stolen and stepped on necks to do it.
    I think we should really put a true home security act in place for the public. If our country wants transparency then lets give us transparency. If you run for public official we have the right to have your computer’s turned over to separate group of elected officials untouched by a presidential authority and they are allowed to interview you and your family, scrap computer traffic, look up criminal records and monitor phone calls for the last 5 years. If they find information that expresses the official’s public character, nothing that infringes on the national security or injures their families individual credibility, then they expose it to the community. A public official needs to have strength of character and I have yet to see an official that has a backbone enough to deal with the serious issues we have. We need someone who may have some past of imperfections but is willing to stand in front of all of us and explain why and how there better because of it.

    Q4 – Food: Can you eat something with a texture that is visually unappealing. What about food that smells bad but taste good?
    Smell is hard to get by. I would have a hard time eating a sandwich in an outhouse.

  19. Ruth Ann

    A1) Yes they should pay. You spill it, you fix it at whatever cost. Why is it so hard for people to take accountability for their actions. It is a problem that the world has.

    A2) Everyone is brought up differently. My grandmother and her whole family come from Alabama and she didn’t say nice things about the colored. Personally I still loved and her and respected her feelings although I did not agree with it. I would say that everyone is racist to some extent about some group of people, and we are all still friends. But some times people could keep their opinions to themselves.

    A3) No one is perfect, and if one has gone through a conversion of some sort, then who are we to judge them for it. People can change.

    A4) I am not picky as some, but if it smells bad or looks disgusting, then I am not going to force myself to eat it when there are so many other options out there.

  20. shoelacediaries

    Q1 – Pay the peeps Exxon! Being told to or not, Exxon should step up to the plate and pay. That is the responsibility they voluntarily took when they started that business. Success comes with responsibilities, and so does mistakes. I don’t care if it was an accident.

    Q2 – I believe that you have to respect people for their differences. If someone doesn’t have respect for other people for something they couldn’t or can’t control, then I don’t have respect for them.

    Q3 – I have a friend that has served time in the big house…a lot of time. He has been out for about 5 years or so, and I consider him one of the best people I know. Sure he screwed up in the past, but I do not believe the whole, once a criminal always a criminal thing. There are a lot of people that continue to screw up after being labeled a criminal, and that gives a bad wrap for everyone else.

    Q4 – Nope, has to look, smell and taste to the likings of old Jake A. Sabey. I like the smell of coconut, but can’t stand the texture, so it is a no go for me.

  21. jerry c.

    1. Exxon should pay. While I am not a fan of limitless liability, but Exxon knew.

    Also, if my contractors do something in my steed, I am liable for it. That’ the way it works.

    2. Ultimately, I could not.

    3. I think for PUBLIC service, BG checks should be made public and required. HOWEVER, the public needs to learn forgiveness for innocuous indiscretions. . Who in their past is blameless and spotless?

    4.if it tastes good I’ll eat it

  22. Joba

    Q1 – I don’t know enough about the case to say, but $2.5 billion seems a little steep. I suppose it shouldn’t matter in the judgment, but I’d like to know where the money is going and how it would be used. I think Exxon should be accountable for paying for the cleanup and any costs associated with reviving that coastline and reimburse businesses for any commercial losses due to the accident, but that should be the end of it. Fix what you broke.

    Q2 – I could have a racist friend. I grew up on the South Side of Chicago in the 1960′s and 1970′s, and our entire neighborhood was very racist. It is a complicated issue and racism is very difficult to overcome. I think the people to fear most are not the racists but those who claim and often sincerely believe they are not racist, but really are. I pre-judge people all the time based on appearance. I don’t understand why I do it. I think it is something biological, something to do with survival skills that we really don’t understand. It’s certainly not logical. We need to get honest about it. That’s the only hope we have of overcoming prejudice.

    Q3 – Criminal Background Checks: Unfortunately, yes, I think in the current climate, people should be subjected to criminal background checks for certain positions. You have to keep the foxes out of the hen houses.

    Q4 – Another question about prejudice? I would probably try just about anything, but sometimes the mere idea of eating something can turn me off. Tongue, for example. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it, smelled it, or tasted it, but if someone offered me tongue, I wouldn’t eat it. That’d be like French kissing my food. Would I be tasting my food or would it be tasting me? Bleah.

  23. Gil L

    1. Despite the fact that it may be an accident, I think Exxon is liable. Even if they did not knowingly put a ‘drunk’ behind the controls of the Valdez– their company is liable for the damage their ship and cargo caused.

    2. Just like the show, Avenue Q– I believe everyone is a little bit racist. I may not like how a friend sees the world but that’s why people can debate and discuss maters.

    3. I think criminal background checks are appropriate for people who want to go into public service. If they want to serve the community voters have a right to know who they are selecting.

    4. I was raised to put down a lot of funky smelling/looking stuff. I’m still down to eat whatevers put in front of me… until I taste it…

  24. Pingback: How to Win Lunch from Your More Popular Friends « Rantings of Stu

  25. Sue Johnson

    3. Absolutely yes on the criminal background checks for public office candidates, and also on the accessibility of the results to the public. Just out of curiosity, does anyone know whether a variety of religious backgrounds have been represented in the public offices of Eagle Mountain? If it is not so, then I am amazed at the behavior of the people who may be representative of one particular religion.


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