Saturday, July 05, 2008



Everyone is always talking about what a lifelong failure Bush has always been, messing up just about everything he's ever touched. OK, fair enough, fair enough. But yesterday Jerome at Daily Kos pointed out how Bush was able to team up with Osama bin-Laden-- probably indirectly-- and do something no one believed possible: increase the price of oil sixfold. The Center For American Progress was all over it today and remind us that when Clinton was president a barrel of oil cost $11.

But bin-Laden, bin-Cheney and bin-Bush always knew they could get that price for a barrel of oil way up there. Take a look at this NY Times story from October, 2001:
''If bin Laden takes over and becomes king of Saudi Arabia, he'd turn off the tap,'' said Roger Diwan, a managing director of the Petroleum Finance Company, a consulting firm in Washington. ''He said at one point that he wants oil to be $144 a barrel"-- about six times what it sells for now.

Actually Bush, Cheney and bin-Laden have gone even beyond their wildest dreams. On Friday oil futures (for November delivery closed at $146.13. "Bush’s policies delivered it for [bin-Laden]. The Bush administration’s catastrophic decision to invade Iraq, sink the nation into debt to pay for that war, and consequently, weaken the dollar have all caused oil prices to soar astronomically." When Bush first stole the presidency in 2000, the average price of gasoline in the U.S. was $1.52. In L.A. this week it's close to $5.00. At the same time, every cent of home equity-- the #1 vehicle for savings for Americans-- has been completely wiped out going back to 1991. In other words, whatever the increase in the value of your home during the Clinton years, has disappeared entirely after Bush and his rubber stamp Republicans and Blue Dogs have tampered with sound economic principles and tweaked the system to make it work better for the very rich and much, much worse for the middle class-- even for the upper middle class, whose losses have left them dismayed.

The strapped middle class may not care about losing their rights to privacy to avaricious authoritarians like Bush and McCain-- rubber stamped by craven and bought off congressmen on both sides of the aisle (all the Republicans and most of the Blue Dogs Democrats and some of their fellow travelers, led by Steny Hoyer and Rahm Emanuel)-- but giving up lifestyle advances... McCain will get creamed in November.

Tomorrow's NY Times has a devastating report on the failure of the Bush-Cheney Regime-- failure if you assume the current outcome is different from what they wanted-- American Energy Policy, Asleep at the Spigot.
As gasoline prices climb beyond $4 a gallon, Americans are rethinking what they drive and how and where they live. Entire industries are reeling-- airlines and automakers most prominent among them-- and gas prices have emerged as an important issue in the presidential campaign.

Ninety percent of Americans, meanwhile, expect the pain at the pump to pose a financial hardship in the next six months, according to a recent Associated Press-Yahoo News poll. Stocks now trade inversely to crude prices, and the Dow Jones industrials are in bear-market territory. Old icons have been written off, with Starbucks boasting nearly twice the market value of General Motors, which some on Wall Street say faces the possibility of bankruptcy.

Outside the thriving oil patch, it makes for a bleak economic picture. But it didn’t have to be this way.

Over the last 25 years, opportunities to head off the current crisis were ignored, missed or deliberately blocked, according to analysts, politicians and veterans of the oil and automobile industries. What’s more, for all the surprise at just how high oil prices have climbed, and fears for the future, this is one crisis we were warned about. Ever since the oil shortages of the 1970s, one report after another has cautioned against America’s oil addiction.

Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats have been behind policies that have encouraged oil addiction. In Arianna Huffington's new book, Right Is Wrong, she points out that, regardless of Bush/McCain tongues dripping with honey when it comes to fuel efficiency, both have fought it every step of the way-- and, with their friend Cheney, have been quite successful in killing every single forward-looking proposal serious legislators have come up with in the last 7 years.
Last December, with the price of oil insistently poking the underside of $100 per barrel milestone [ah... the good old days] in the midst of the busiest travel period of the year, George Bush finally signed an energy bill (pointedly entitled the "Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007"), which brought to a close one full term in office and three-quarters of a second term without and energy policy. And even this bill, which, in draft form, had seemed a promising piece of legislation, ended up into being watered down into exactly what we should have expected from the Bush administration: a medicine so diluted that it had lost all its potency.

Big Oil's lobbyists-- representing $219,114,206 worth of bribes to politicians, 75% to Republicans and 25% to the Democrats most like Republicans-- were able to remove all the teeth from the bill, all the teeth. (#1 recipient of Big Oil bribes in Congress in 2008: John McCain at $791,777 and rising rapidly-- although that was chump change compared to the millions they have given Bush-- $2,674,225 in 2004 and $1,948,601 in 2000. Few Democrats get that kind of attention from Big Oil but usually the ones who do-- like Mary Landrieu and Dan Boren-- are the ones who vote with Republicans to sell out their constituents in favor of the special interests agenda.) Arianna continued: "Gone was a tax increase on the oil industry, which would have channeled a small part of its windfall cash-gusher into federal coffers, along with a key requirement that utilities generate 15 percent of their power from renewable sources. Brent Blackwelder, president of Friends Of The Earth, blasted the compromise: 'When the Republican leadership and polluter lobby have blocked important legislation, Senate Democrats have been all too willing to move in their direction. The result is that the two most positive provisions of the energy bill-- a clean energy mandate and a tax package reining in handouts for fossil fuels and promoting clean energy-- are being removed.'"

Even a Republican hack like New Mexico Senator Pete Domenici told the NY Times that "We’ve got to fix it or our standard of living will change within a decade. Oil was too damn cheap, it’s too high now and it’s going even higher. I hope I’m wrong, but the problem is, we can’t catch up soon enough."

Bush, Cheney and their Big Oil allies claim the solution is more drilling. It isn't. "[M]any analysts argue that increased drilling alone is no panacea. They note that many of the oil giants don’t drill in areas to which they already have access. Exxon, in particular, has been criticized as spending too much to buy back its own stock and not enough on exploration... [A]dded drilling is unlikely to generate sharply lower prices. A recent study by the federal government’s Energy Information Administration estimated that under the best-case scenario opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge would reduce prices by $1.44 a barrel by 2027. Drilling in broader swaths off the continental United States wouldn’t affect prices until 2030."
On the taxation frontier, President Clinton did manage to get through a small tax increase on gasoline-- 4.3 cents-- in 1993, but with oil prices hovering between $10 and $20 a barrel for most of the 1990s, conservation ended up on the back burner.

Indeed, President Clinton did propose a broader tax on energy consumption in 1993, but it died quickly when Senate Democrats rebelled, much as House Republicans derailed President Bush’s gas tax in 1990. Still, environmentalists like Mr. Becker remain disappointed with Mr. Clinton for not doing more in his first term when oil prices were low and Detroit was enjoying a recovery in profits after the lean years of the early 1990s.

Congressional Republicans made matters worse in 1995, when they attached a rider to a huge appropriations bill forbidding the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration from spending any money to raise fuel standards. That law, in effect until 2001, made any change in CAFE standards impossible, says Representative Edward J. Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat who has pushed for better fuel efficiency.

The Republicans in Congress-- at the behest of the much bribed Tom DeLay-- made matters much worse by encouraging people to buy gas-guzzling SUVs-- offering a $25,000 tax write-off-- while doing nothing at all to encourage people to buy-- or companies to manufacture-- fuel-efficient cars. Chuck Schumer, no enemy of Big Business by any means, tells an interesting story of coercion that cowardly members of Congress fell for: "The auto companies would go to people and say, ‘If you vote for CAFE standards, the auto plant in your district could shut down.’ They got the message."

These members of Congress should get a message from voters-- their employers-- in November. Virtually every Republican in Congress and all the Blue Dog Democrats have put corporate donors' interests ahead of the interests of their constituents and of the Nation. The worst of them, senators like James Inhofe (R-OK), John Cornyn (R-TX), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Ted Stevens (R-AK), Norm Coleman (R-MN), Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Susan Collins (R-ME), Mark Pryor (D-AR), Gordon Smith (R-OR), Elizabeth Dole (R-NC), John Sununu (R-NH) and House members like Scott Garrett (R-NJ), Dan Boren (D-OK), John Culberson (R-TX), Michael McCaul (R-TX), Charlie Melancon (D-LA), Ric Keller (R-FL), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), the Diaz-Balart Brothers (R-FL), Virgil Goode (R-VA), David Dreier (R-CA), Mean Jean Schmidt (R-OH) and John Barrow (D-GA) are targets that would send a clear message to all members of Congress: "Hey numbnuts, you work for us, not the Big Oil companies."

And no one is more vulnerable than Blue Dog John Barrow. He faces progressive state Senator Regina Thomas a week from Tuesday (July 15) in a Georgia primary pitting a Bush rubber stamp and corporate shill against someone who has proven herself to be a real Democrat and a true voice for the voiceless in her dozen years in the Georgia legislature. Barrow is taking money hand over fist from corporate special interests-- and even a far right, anti-worker PAC-- while Regina has spent all her time talking with working families in GA-12 about the issues. She doesn't go asking special interests for money and doesn't play the Insider games. The only money she has to spend has been donated by 1,714 netroots supporters who have given her $42,066-- an average of around $25. It's a message worth sending across partisan lines. Blue Dog Democrats are no less culpable than Republicans and they should all be treated the same-- fired and replaced before they do even more damage.

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At 7:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

People like oil expert Matt Simmons thinks oil is cheap and will have shortages. I will tell you about it @


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