Politicians and oil – the slime never stops

Posted in Politics on April 27, 2011 by lylede

Following the money leads to scary, unpleasant truths.

In 2007 ExxonMobil recorded $40.6 billion in profits, the highest amount of money ever brought in by any company. So it is utterly pathetic and obscene that oil companies are receiving “multibillion-dollar tax subsidies” (see Obama reissues call to cut U.S. oil tax breaks, msnbc.com, 4-26-11) from our government.

While Obama “has urged congressional leaders to take steps to repeal oil industry tax breaks,” (see above-referenced article) he’s also taken thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from Big Oil. So it will be interesting to see if Obama follows through on this or simply makes a few more meaningless comments.

According to FactCheck.org in 2008 candidate Obama took in well over $200,000 “from individuals who work for companies in the oil and gas industry and their spouses.” It gets worse. Obama accepted, during his time in the Senate and as a presidential candidate, $77,051 from Big Oil pariah BP. He’s also “the top recipient of BP PAC and individual money over the past 20 years, according to financial disclosure records.” (See Politico’s Obama Biggest Recipient of BP Cash, 5-5-10, and they also cite the highly regarded Center for Responsive Politics in this article.)

Unfortunately I can’t figure out which is worst: claiming to want to help people at the pump when really not doing anything about it or flat-out siding with Big Oil like George W. Bush did.

W (the biggest whore ever for Big Oil), when faced with then-record prices at the pump during his presidency, had to deal with lawmakers who wanted to force oil traders to report every trade they made in an attempt to curb price fixing and other shenanigans that would benefit Big Oil.

W refused to support this and had the gall (actually Karl Rove probably wrote the lines) to say that would be price controls. He was lying through his teeth and forcing commodities traders to report the trades they make doesn’t even come close to price controls. And W neglected to mention that every other trader of every other commodity has to report every trade they make. But not Big Oil.

Follow the money – but only on an empty stomach.


Remember Iraq?

Posted in Iraq, Politics on October 24, 2010 by lylede

Dylan T. Reid, 24, of Springfield, MO, died on October 16 in Amarah, Iraq. He was a Private First Class in the Army’s Fourth Infantry Division. He unfortunately joins 55 other US soldiers who have also died in Iraq this year (see icasualties.org.)

It’s been seven years since two draft dodgers named George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, along with the misguided and grossly incompetent members of the 107th Congress, started the completely unnecessary war in Iraq.

Al-Qaeda, the real enemy previously based in Afghanistan, must have celebrated wildly when they heard Bush was invading Iraq. Al-Qaeda had no presence in Iraq prior to the war. Al-Qaeda also knew if we invaded Iraq a large part of our military would be used there and not against them. And that is exactly what happened. In 2008, Bush’s last year in office, we had 150,000 troops in Iraq. As for Afghanistan, bin Laden’s (remember him?) former sanctuary and the country where he plotted and launched the 9-11 attacks, we had 22,000 soldiers.

Iraq had absolutely nothing to do with 9-11. And for the 29 years Saddam Hussein was in power he never attacked America once. But he was sitting on millions of barrels of oil, which was more important to Bush, Cheney and the US government than capturing or killing the real bastards behind 9-11.

For further evidence of why we should have never invaded Iraq consider what George Tenet, CIA chief during 9-11, told 60 Minutes (see Tenet interview.) He said he was “astonished” that on September 12, 2001 the administration was talking about invading Iraq. He also says he knew Iraq was not involved with 9-11.

So now, seven long years after the completely unnecessary “shock and awe” campaign, a 24-year old kid from Missouri and 55 other US soldiers (along with over 4,400 total) are dead. I wonder if, while Bush and Cheney are most likely reaping the benefits of backroom Big Oil and military-industrial-complex deals regarding Iraq, they’re even remotely aware they are still murdering US soldiers in Iraq.

Drill Baby, Drill

Posted in Uncategorized on May 7, 2010 by lylede

I hope all the morons who enthusiastically chanted “Drill baby, drill!” before a literally (and stomach-churning, pun intended) gushing Sarah Palin at the 2008 Republican National Convention are watching the environmental disaster unfold in the Gulf of Mexico.

According to Amount of Spill Could Escalate, Company Admits – NY Times, 5/4/10, “a senior BP executive conceded Tuesday that the ruptured oil well in the Gulf of Mexico could conceivably spill as much as 60,000 barrels a day of oil, more than 10 times the estimate of the current flow.”

Yup, that’s right, 60,000 barrels a day. And to see how clueless BP officials are (they even considered a “broad advertising campaign” – I wonder how that could rehabilitate the Gulf?) read the above-referenced article.

And here’s a note to everyone who chanted that idiotic slogan two years ago: THE LAST THING WE NEED TO DO IS DRILL FOR MORE OIL AND THEN BURN IT!

We now have so many options, including solar, wind and hydrokinetics, that we can finally stop using so much oil. The problem though is that Big Oil (along with Big Coal and Big Nuclear) has been bribing politicians with campaign contributions for decades and as a result Washington, DC does the bidding of its financial backers instead of doing something sensible for America and the environment.

92 Degrees – in April!

Posted in Politics on April 8, 2010 by lylede

Yesterday was April 7, 2010. It was sunny and warm and reached 92 degrees here in New York City. That’s right, 92 in the beginning of April!

I hope the air conditioners break in all the cars and homes of every corrupt politician down in Washington, DC who just a few months ago claimed global warming doesn’t exist because the southeast got a lot of snow this past winter.

It’s so sad that they’re so corrupt and do the bidding of their campaign contributors (big oil, big coal, etc.) instead of what is right for the average citizen, America and the world.

And a quick science lesson would also show them how global warming is a bit of a misnomer and can actually cause MORE precipitation and snowfall (granted politicians don’t care about facts – the truth can’t give them campaign contributions!)

Just in case they do want to be enlightened, as the sun warms the planet’s oceans, rivers and lakes the water evaporates. That evaporated water (which you can’t see or feel) rises into the atmosphere and is absorbed by clouds. When the clouds get full they release the evaporated water back down onto earth in the form of precipitation. With our planet warming, and more heat trapped in our atmosphere, more water will evaporate and cause more precipitation.

If only the environment could give some money to the campaign contribution whores in Washington, DC we might see some sensible behavior from our government.

The Wild, Wild West in Washington, DC

Posted in The Gun Problem on March 6, 2010 by lylede

When I was a senior in high school in 1984 my parents took me to Washington, DC to visit some colleges. A university guide was giving us a tour of a campus adjoining a residential neighborhood when she stopped talking about the school and pointed down the street.

“You really don’t want to head that way, especially at night. It can be a little dangerous and that’s a rough part of town.”

I was shocked at what I heard. Here we were, in America’s capital, and a representative from a major college was warning us about the area’s crime.

You’d think our government would want to do everything it could to keep its citizens safe, especially in the country’s capital. Wrong.

Twenty-six years after I heard that shocking comment the grossly misguided conservative Supreme Court has made it easier than ever to carry guns in Washington, DC (see Justices May Extend Gun Owner Rights Nationwide, AP/NY Times, 3-2-10.)

And if you think the capital’s safety has improved since 1984, or that people will be safer with more guns on the street, think again. Washington, DC has consistently had a high crime rate for decades and this problem existed well before my high school visit.

As for more recent problems, two days ago an armed assailant shot two Pentagon officers when the triggerman tried to get into the building without proper credentials. Fortunately neither officer was seriously injured (see 2 Pentagon officers shot near Metro station, AP/msnbc.com, 3-5-10.)

So if “guns don’t kill people, people do” we should make it easier, thanks to the Supreme Court, for people to kill each other?

Legislators Make The Gun Problem Worse

Posted in The Gun Problem on February 26, 2010 by lylede

Here are two scary, pathetic headlines from the same day:

Fearing Obama Agenda, States Push to Loosen Gun Laws, NY Times 2-23-10 and 2 Teens Injured in Colorado Middle School Shooting, The AP/NY Times 2-23-10.

One doesn’t need to read either story to hopefully understand we have a serious gun problem in this country and it’s certainly not because there are some restrictions on weapons ownership.

America leads the world in public shootings and the slaughter that accompanies these acts. Where else are there shootings in schools (middle and high schools, and colleges), work places and various offices with such regularity?

It’s absolutely pathetic, ignorant and irresponsible that it’s legal to buy and sell assault rifles in America. These deadly weapons can be turned into machine guns in a matter of minutes.

And please don’t give the incredibly lame, outdated Second Amendment “right to bear arms” argument. American gun shops are arming the murderous Mexican drug cartels. Is this what our country’s founders meant with the Second Amendment? (For more on this see “The right to bear arms” While Arming Mexican Drug Cartels.)

The gun laws are such a joke in this country Islamic terrorists wanted to set up a training camp in Oregon – that’s right, Oregon! – and “Prosecutors in the (Oussama) Kassir case portrayed him as a follower of militant clerics who wanted to take advantage of more relaxed gun laws to arrange training in the United States for European recruits to Islamic militancy.” (emphasis added) See Oussama Kassir convicted of trying to start terror camp; 5 convicted in Miami for Sears Tower plot, AP/NY Daily News, 5-12-09.

And if they ever do succeed in building a training camp here in the “relaxed gun laws” land and produce killers and terror, maybe, just maybe, the politicians who take millions of campaign contribution dollars annually from the gun lobby and its tool, the NRA, will wake up and do something for the good of the country, as opposed to acting simply for the good of their own bottom line.


A mere two days after the above-mentioned headlines appeared, along came this one:

Detective killed, officer critical in Calif. Shooting, msnbc.com, 2-25-10

As for one of the above-mentioned articles (Fearing Obama Agenda, States Push to Loosen Gun Laws, NY Times 2-23-10) the ignorant, corrupt lawmakers in Virginia obviously didn’t learn anything after the April 16, 2007 Virginia Tech Massacre when a student there, Seung-Hui Cho, shot and killed 32 people with two high-powered, semi-automatic handguns before killing himself.

The Virginia General Assembly “approved a bill last week that allows people to carry concealed weapons in bars and restaurants that serve alcohol, and the House of Delegates voted to repeal a 17-year-old ban on buying more than one handgun a month.”

So when a drunken idiot in a bar pulls out two handguns he bought that morning and starts blasting away will the lawmakers simply shrug and say “guns don’t kill people, people do”?

And for a great argument against the above, moronic pro-gun statement see:

Myth: Guns don’t kill people, people do.

Fact: Both guns and people kill; guns make it easier.

Alaska Melts While Its Senator Collects Energy Company Money

Posted in Politics on January 20, 2010 by lylede

It’s no great secret the state of Alaska is shrinking due to global warming. Large swaths of coastline and tundra are disappearing. The ocean keeps encroaching and entire communities watch as their way of life also slips away.

You’d think Alaskan Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski would want to do something about it. Actually she is – if you work for an energy company.

According to Ms. Murkowski’s Mischief, NY Times Editorial, 1-19-10 she wants to “block for one year any effort by the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide. This would prevent the administration from finalizing its new and much-needed standards for cars and light trucks and prevent it from regulating greenhouse gases from stationary sources.”

The editorial also notes she’s considering a “ ‘resolution of disapproval’ that would ask the Senate to overturn the E.P.A.’s recent ‘endangerment finding’ that carbon dioxide and other global warming gases threaten human health and the environment. This finding flowed from a 2007 Supreme Court decision and is an essential precondition to any regulation governing greenhouse gases. Rescinding the finding would repudiate years of work by America’s scientists and public health experts.”

If you look at whom Senator Murkowski’s top five campaign contributors are during the past five years you’ll see she’s disregarding the health and safety of her state to simply please her financial backers (and it sure would have been nice if the NY Times pointed this out.)

According to The Center for Responsive Politics Opensecrets.org she’s awash in money from energy and energy-related companies. Just click on the link above and check it out (and it’s shocking to see Exxon Mobil coming in at number five!)

It is imperative we get public and corporate money out of politics to save what’s left of our democracy (for more on this see Ban Political Advertising To Restore Our Democracy.) Senator Murkowski is par for the course and stuffed inside the pockets of her campaign contributors along with every other politician. And I don’t think you’ll find the words “campaign contribution” in our Constitution.

The NY Times editorial closes by noting how Democrats want to add some energy-related measures to the approved cap-and-trade plan to try and garner more support for the bill.

Senator Murkowski is ready with a plan of her own to try and derail it. “Knowing that the bill is not ripe, Ms. Murkowski may bring it up for a vote anyway as an amendment to the debt bill. Why? To shoot it down. The tactic would give us a “barometric reading” of where the Senate stands on cap-and-trade, one Murkowski staffer said recently. What it really gives us is a reading on how little the senator — or for that matter, her party — has to offer.”

And I can hear the pens in the hands of the energy company executives scrawling across their checkbooks as they pay off more politicians – while Alaska melts.

Arrogance Beyond Galling

Posted in Politics on January 20, 2010 by lylede

To get an idea of just how arrogant today’s titans of Wall Street are read Bankers Without a Clue, NY Times Op-Ed, 1-15-10.

The writer, Paul Krugman, points out two moments that “stood out” during the first day of testimony on Wednesday when investment banking big shots were questioned before the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission.

“One was when Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase declared that a financial crisis is something that “happens every five to seven years. We shouldn’t be surprised.” In short, stuff happens, and that’s just part of life.”

Regarding this pathetic statement Krugman notes: “But the truth is that the United States managed to avoid major financial crises for half a century after the Pecora hearings were held (in the wake of the Great Depression) and Congress enacted major banking reforms. It was only after we forgot those lessons, and dismantled effective regulation, that our financial system went back to being dangerously unstable.”

And here’s the second gem: “Still, Mr. Dimon’s cluelessness paled beside that of Goldman Sachs’s Lloyd Blankfein, who compared the financial crisis to a hurricane nobody could have predicted. Phil Angelides, the commission’s chairman, was not amused: The financial crisis, he declared, wasn’t an act of God; it resulted from “acts of men and women.”

Was Mr. Blankfein just inarticulate? No. He used the same metaphor in his prepared testimony in which he urged Congress not to push too hard for financial reform: “We should resist a response … that is solely designed around protecting us from the 100-year storm.” So this giant financial crisis was just a rare accident, a freak of nature, and we shouldn’t overreact.”

Krugman then points out how starting in the late 1970s deregulation and the greed is good ethos started to doom our economy. “There were ever-greater rewards — bonuses beyond the dreams of avarice — for bankers who could generate big short-term profits. And the way to raise those profits was to pile up ever more debt, both by pushing loans on the public and by taking on ever-higher leverage within the financial industry.”

I urge you to read Bankers Without a Clue. Just do it on an empty stomach.

The Environment and War on Terror: Eight Long, Lost Years

Posted in Politics on January 13, 2010 by lylede

I get more nauseous as I learn more information about the heinous Bush era. According to No More ‘Candy Store,’ NY Times 1-11-10, an editorial about energy development and protecting public land, “In the Bush years, it was all about the drilling. The administration aggressively leased out millions of acres of public land and issued more than 50,000 drilling permits, in many cases risking wildlife habitat and ignoring legally mandated environmental reviews.”

Please note that pathetically high number: 50,000.

We’ve known for decades we need to get off of oil and stop burning fossil fuels. Yet we let two whores for the oil industry named Bush and Cheney run the country for eight years and do absolutely nothing about advancing clean energy sources. On the contrary they set us back at least 50,000 times, and more.

It’s impossible to separate Bush and Cheney from big oil. Remember Cheney’s infamous closed-door, secret Energy Task Force meetings? The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) points out how “the records reveal that industry lobbyists not only played a pivotal role in developing the administration’s national energy strategy, they wrote much of it themselves. The administration sought the advice of polluting corporations early and often and then incorporated their recommendations into its policy, sometimes verbatim.” 

Click here to see some of the task force documents (courtesy of the NRDC.) This one shows how an executive with the American Petroleum Institute (API) suggested wording “for a presidential order giving special consideration to oil companies. In May 2001, President Bush indeed issued an executive order much like API’s proposal.”

If you don’t trust the NRDC read Smog and Mirrors: The Cheney Energy Task Force and Higher Prices at the Pump – A Report by Congressman George Miller, Co-Chair, Democratic Policy Committee, April 26, 2004. This is truly stomach-churning stuff.

The NY Times’ No More ‘Candy Store’ also sadly notes: “The bureau, (Interior Secretary Ken Salazar) declared bluntly, would no longer be a “candy store” for an oil and gas industry that (mixing his metaphors) had been allowed to act like “kings of the world” during the Bush years.”

Lovely. What could be worse? A politician glowing in adoration before a huge crowd chanting “drill baby, drill?” Oh wait, that actually happened at the last Republican National Convention!

As for the War on Terror we lost seven years in the aftermath of 9-11 while Bush and Cheney were busy profiting off of Iraqi oil and military-industrial-complex contracts instead of hunting down and killing the bastards who attacked us.

It’s absolutely criminal we haven’t captured or killed Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahri and former Taliban leader Mullah Omar.

And to pay for the unnecessary invasion of Iraq Bush and our idiotic government bankrupted America by borrowing trillions of dollars from China.

Today plenty of people are rightfully angry over the Wall Street bailouts but it will truly be a miracle if our Iraq war debt to China is paid off in 50 years.

We were also recently rattled by the Christmas Day airliner-bombing attempt and if America is attacked again during the next three years many people will blame President Obama. Just keep in mind 2002 through 2008 were years won by al-Qaeda as they regrouped and recruited while Bush and Cheney were busy doling out Iraq war contracts to friends like Halliburton and Blackwater.

Ben Bernanke – Bubble Buster?

Posted in Politics on January 7, 2010 by lylede

I’m not too encouraged by statements from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke when it comes to fixing our economy and ensuring speculative bubbles don’t wreak havoc like they recently did.

In Fed Missed This Bubble. Will it See a New One? NY Times, 1-5-10, Bernanke is quoted from 2005, when he was a Bush administration official, as saying a housing bubble was “a pretty unlikely possibility.” Two years later, after becoming the Fed chairman, the Times article notes he said that Fed officials “do not expect significant spillovers from the subprime market to the rest of the economy.”

And this guy is running the Federal Reserve?

The Times piece points out how houses had become overvalued. Of course they did. With the sensible Glass-Steagall law no longer on the books investment banks were allowed to treat mortgages like any other security. Wall Street bet on these new mortgage-backed securities big-time, with disastrous results.

In some areas, according to the Times article, “buyers were spending twice as much on their monthly mortgage payment as they would have spent renting a similar house, without even considering the down payment.”

Plenty of people, including journalists, government officials and economists, knew about this problem. Yet the government did nothing, until it was too late. And to get a better understanding of how speculative bubbles are created, and who benefits from them, see Inside The Great American Bubble Machine by Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone, 7-2-09.

In Bernanke warns about creating new bubbles, msnbc.com, 1-4-10, “Bernanke said the lesson learned from the crisis isn’t that regulation is ineffective but that regulation “must be better and smarter.”

Note to Washington, DC: put Glass-Steagall back on the books! Passed in the wake of the Great Depression this Act forced banks to separate their commercial and consumer activities.

For an excellent account of why this law was needed see The Value of ‘Other People’s Money’ NY Times 2-6-09. This Op-Ed piece, written by Melvin I. Urofsky, a professor at Virginia Commonwealth University and the author of Louis D. Brandeis: A Life, notes how Progressive-era reformer and Supreme Court Judge Brandeis “described a dangerous combination of avarice, lack of accountability and poor oversight in (his book) ‘Other People’s Money, and How the Bankers Use It,’ one of the best-known exposés of the Progressive era.”

The book was published in 1914. Professor Urofsky writes that Brandeis “believed that it was one thing for an individual to put up capital in risky ventures, playing to win but prepared for failure. But he saw the bankers of his time dodging failure by manipulating the marketplace at the expense of smaller entrepreneurs and consumers.”

Sound familiar? According to some great radio reporting from NPR (go to This American Life and listen to The Giant Pool of Money) stockbrokers were calling up mortgage brokers and saying, “do you have any more fixed rate?” meaning do you have any more fixed rate mortgages we can buy from you. The mortgage brokers, who were getting a second commission on this sale to Wall Street, were happy to oblige.

The lending banks certainly didn’t care about this transaction because they no longer held on to the loan for the duration of its term. They held on to it for a few months before it was sold to Wall Street.

None of this was allowed during the 66 years Glass-Steagall was on the books. And America certainly didn’t become a socialist country because of this law. On the contrary, we thrived.

Regarding regulation and going back to the lessons of 1914 Professor Urofsky points out “For Brandeis, regulation was not supposed to be a restraint on innovation or the entrepreneurial spirit, but rather a check on unbridled greed. He believed in a free market, but one in which the government enforced rules of fair competition so that the most talented could succeed. Clear rules would help ensure that business was conducted fairly and openly.”

We certainly need clear, strong rules if we’re going to fix our economy. As for Glass-Steagall’s fate, Wall Street didn’t like it so the financial industry spent $350 million on a bribery (oops, I mean “lobbying”) campaign to get it repealed (for more on this see How $350 Million Destroyed Our Economy, cosmicpoaching.com, 2-23-09.)

Congress tossed out Glass-Steagall in 1999. If our legislators had any guts and want to do something for the good of the country, as opposed to for only their campaign contributors, a new Glass-Steagall should be enacted immediately.