Thursday, July 31, 2008

Bush: Orchestrates for Big Oil

President George W. Bush spoke from West Virginia on the subject of energy. He wants to expand domestic oil drilling, imploring Congress to pass legislation before their August break. The President may want to listen to drivers on the ground, as oil generals pocket record amounts of people's income. Consider the news this morning:

ExxonMobile netted a record $11.97 billion before a special charge related to the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Exxon is the most profitable company in the WORLD.

Royal Dutch Shell came up just short, at $11.57 billion, also a record and up 33% from a year ago.

Previously, BP pocketed $9.47 billion, while ConocoPhillips put $5.44 billion in their tank. All are record profits.

Did any enterprising reporter ask the President about these record oil company profits, continuing a three year pattern? Nope, Bush sprinted off the stage. My "sniff" detects something malodorous, likely fomented by Dick Cheney. When George W. falls back on his mantra, 9-11, usually something wicked this way comes.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Pete Sessions' Burlesque

Republican Congressman Pete Sessions held a fundraiser in Las Vegas. Never mind, that his congressional district is in Texas, there was campaign money to raise. Eyebrows followed when the Washington Post reported the host of the event, Forty Deuce, a burlesque club. Poles, scantily clad women cavorting to loud music?

When politicians have to defend one form of nipple covering while being offended by another, it’s not their day. Better luck next time, Pete. By the way, did Sessions thank the casino operators and payday lenders for picking up the tab?

Bush Slutz for Fossil Energy

The White House announced the appointment of James A. Slutz to be Assistant Secretary of Energy (Fossil Energy). This is a step up for Mr. Slutz within the Bush Energy Department. His current bio states:

Jim Slutz currently serves as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Oil and Natural Gas in the Office of Fossil Energy of the U.S. Department of Energy. In this position, Mr. Slutz is responsible for administering domestic and international oil and gas programs, including research and development, policy analysis, and natural gas import and export licensing.

Prior to his appointment in June 2002, Mr. Slutz served as the Director, Indiana Division of Oil and Gas, with responsibilities for overseeing oil and natural gas exploration and production, natural gas storage, and leasing of state land for exploration.

Recall the poor administration of federal production contracts, just one of the many Bush giveaways to big oil? It turns out that was the Interior Department, specifically the Minerals Management Service. Jim wasn't involved in that $10 billion, annually repeating profit boost, oopps, I mean error.

As the Bush fossil fuel chief, his last name alone is ironic. Many see the Bush/Cheney team as sluts for big oil. With all the giveaways, the Democrats could well jump on board.

Energy Fictions Drive Hard Push on Congress

George W. Bush gathered his cabinet to pressure Congress to pass legislation expanding oil and gas production. Well, the bill would open up new areas for oil exploration. Actual production increases depend on a multi-year process and some luck. Oil company executives testified before Congress how they're beating the band to find more deposits. Is this true? An AP report casts doubt:

The five biggest international oil companies plowed about 55 percent of the cash they made from their businesses into stock buybacks and dividends last year, up from 30 percent in 2000 and just 1 percent in 1993, according to Rice University's James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy.

The percentage they spend to find new deposits of fossil fuels has remained flat for years, in the mid-single digits.

Why the hard press from Bush to open new areas for exploration? It's disaster capitalism. In a time of crisis, use the opportunity to help large corporations, also known as loyal campaign donors.

Another reason to push hard for 24 hours, Chevron and ExxonMobile announce earnings on Thursday and Friday. To date, British Petroleum and ConocoPhillips recorded yet again record revenues and profits.

British Petroleum's bottom line soared to $9.5 billion, up 27% in just 3 months

ConocoPhillips' net income reached $5.44 billion, 31% higher than their last quarter

If Exxon and Chevron post similar quarterly gains, what happens to the political momentum for the Bush position? It could let the air out of his balloon and make Americans livid at big oil. Chuck the oil fompanies!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Energy Bill Must Pass Before Exxon's Earnings Release!

President Bush joked with his cabinet before tackling serious business. He chided Congress to pass legislation expanding domestic energy exploration, before they adjourn for an August recess. They also need to beat earnings reports from ExxonMobile and Chevron. So run, Mitch McConnell, run!

Dang, he tripped over British Petroleum's second quarter earnings report. It's hard to hurdle a record $9.5 billion, up some $2 billion in just three months time. That followed his past stumble on ConocoPhillips' $5.4 billion bottom line, up 31% from the first quarter. Pick yourself up, Man! President Bush issued an order, pass the bill by Friday or else...

Monday, July 28, 2008

State of Market Forces, Demand Down, Profits Through the Roof!

Americans responded to high gasoline prices by driving 40 billion fewer miles so far in 2008. May saw the largest drop, with people driving nearly 4% less than last year. So what happened to gas prices, given the mantra that demand impacts price? One might expect gasoline prices to fall, maybe by 4% if there is a direct elastic relationship.

Nope, the cost of a gallon of gas soared while consumers parked their SUV's. Gas is up 110% from last year with the spike roaring through May. Since then the price levelled off, hovering around $4 a gallon.

What about profits from big oil? ConocoPhillips might as well put hose stockings over their head in their press release on second quarter earnings. They had record revenues and profits but never mentioned this fact to their shareholders one time! One shouldn't tell the customer that they're being robbed. ExxonMobil and ChevronTexaco share their windfall numbers later this week. Stay tuned and stay parked!

Cheney Didn't Get Message from Pentagon's Gates

Haaretz reported Pentagon Chief Robert Gates omitted Israel from the list of the United States' main allies in the 2008 National Defense Strategy. The National Defense Strategy is an official document that reflects the secretary's directives to the armed forces.

But there is a higher power than the Secretary, also known as the Commander in Chief. Meetings between Israeli & U.S. defense leaders the last month show the Jewish State as America's top defense partner. Mr. Gates' Israeli counterpart returns to Washington this very day, (his last visit was the week of July 14-20.) Haaretz stated:

Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak is to travel to the United States on Monday for talks with senior officials expected to focus on Iran.

A defence ministry spokesman declined to comment on the agenda of the talks, but said Barak planned to meet Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, senior military officials and members of Congress.

A senior adviser to Barak said, "This is a very important visit. Israel cannot tolerate living under an Iranian nuclear threat."

Last week the top Israeli military leader, General Ashkenazi met with Cheney, Joint Chief's Chair Mike Mullen and company. Ashkenazi even brought his head of the Strategic Department in the IDF Planning Branch.

July 7-13 Mossad chief Meir Dagan was in Washington for meetings with key intelligence officials.

June 23-30 U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Michael Mullen segwayed to Israel during his European Tour. That same week, the U.S. Chief of Naval Operations visited the Jewish State.

Public references to Gates' presence in the meetings are few and far between. Only the first visit by Israel's Defense Chief specifically notes meeting with Bob Gates. Dick Cheney and numerous state department officials are the most common host of Israeli military and intelligence representatives. Could a difference in policy be the cause of Gates not claiming America's obvious BFF, Israel? The Pentagon Chief's report states:

"Our closest allies - the U.K., Australia, and Canada. Other long standing alliances NATO, Japan and South Korea foremost among them. We will work to expand and strengthen other relationships, including with India," the document states.

My guess is the Bush/Cheney cabal ordered omitting Israel. To state anything other than "all options are on the table", would reveal important state secrets, documents already stamped closed with Cheney's super secret eye, ear, and nose wax.

If one could remove the seal, would it say, "Operation TIME: Take-out Iran in Middle East"? I think it's time for the Bush/Cheney team of world bleeders to pack their bags and go.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Mass Bush Pardons, Final Rape of the Constitution?

Legal scholars and pundits prognosticate over President George W. Bush issuing mass pardons for members of his administration involved in illegal activity. Why else would one need a pardon?

The "zero tolerance" for law breaking President stands to clear the legal liability decks for those who aided him on secret prisons, rough interrogation methods and domestic intelligence gathering. Each of those programs was near and dear to the codpiece of George W. and his Veep, Dick Cheney.

Mass pardons for Bush hard on's? Let's hope the Constitution just laid back and enjoyed it...

Friday, July 25, 2008

"Landmark" Ethics Panel is Pure Congress

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Thursday announced joint appointments to a landmark ethics review board that for the first time will allow private citizens to review allegations against members.

The only landmark in the new House ethics panel is the makeup, “Private citizens” means ex-members of Congress and paid government staffers. The fox once again monitors the hen house in Washington, D.C.

They have the gall to imply an average citizen is monitoring Congressional behavior. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Hill reported:

“…four out of six members of the board for the newly created Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) will be former members of Congress, including former CIA Director Porter Goss (R-Fla.), who will serve as co-chairman.

The other board members include Rep. David Skaggs (D-Colo.), who will serve as chairman of the board, former Rep. Yvonne Brathwaite Burke (D-Calif.), former Rep. Karan English (D-Ariz.), former House Chief Administrative Officer Jay Eagen and Allison Hayward, the former chief of staff to Bradley Smith, a Republican-appointed former chairman of the Federal Election Commission.

Two additional former members will serve as alternate appointees to the board: former federal judge and ex-Rep. Abner Mikva (D-Ill.) and former Rep. Bill Frenzel (R-Minn.).

If anyone believes an "average citizen" is monitoring Congressional ethics, they're sadly mistaken.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Obama's "Audacity of Pandering" Hits America's 51st State

Presidential hopeful Barack Obama's "audacity of pandering" continues, this time internationally. Barrack capitulated to big telecom before his Middle East trip, just in time for AT&T to sponsor the Democratic National Convention.

Having failed as an impartial arbiter for the average American citizen, Obama disappointed people in the Middle Eastern region. To be a leader of the "free world", does one have to oppress its own citizens and write off millions of Middle Eastern people? It makes sense in a "free to impose our will" world.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Partial Truth Out on Pete Peterson

TruthOut ran a piece on Blackstone Group co-founder, Pete Peterson, and his new foundation, aptly named the Peter G. Peterson Foundation. It cited the organization's main purpose, "to cut back spending on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid." Finding the piece unsatisfying, I dug for more.

It turns out Pete had a banner 2007, at least financially. He and his partner, Steven Schwarzman grossed $4.5 billion, between selling a stake of their firm to China and taking part of it public. Uncle Sam's preferred tax status for private equity underwriters (PEU's) enabled the pair to avoid up to $855 million in taxes. How might that money have helped to shore up Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid?

In my research, I found Pete isn't working alone on these critical issues. CQ Politics reported Mr. Peterson is encouraging Blue Dog Democrats to work with their Republican counterparts in the House of Representatives. The article stated:

Watch for the House’s most fiscally conservative Democrats and Republicans to start meeting regularly, in the same room at the same time. The GOP Tuesday Group and the Democratic “Blue Dogs” have long shared the goal of reducing the federal deficit.

The two caucuses met together in the past week along with Pete Peterson, creator and benefactor of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to deficit reduction, and David Walker, who earlier this year left the top position at the Government Accountability Office to run the foundation.

As I finished the piece, another Blue Dog appeared on my television screen, Senator Evan Bayh of Indiana. Evan is sponsored by another PEU, The Carlyle Group. They fell from his #3 lifetime donor to # 7 in the last election cycle, but still ponied up $75,000. MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell, live from Barack Obama's visit to Iraq, tried to get Evan to say something other than "Aw, shucks" in reference to his potential Vice Presidential status.

Watching Evan schmooze, my stomach turned. The Bayh family made millions from flipping WellPoint stock options the last few years. Susan Bayh serves on the board of the huge health insurer, sharing the table with President Bush's Uncle Bucky and ex-White House economic czar Al Hubbard. Yes, that's the same Al Hubbard who recently accused the American people of ordering medical caviar.

The fix is in folks. Businesses want to give you responsibility for your health care coverage. In a deja vu of 1980's retirement benefits (which produced IRA's and 401k's), the average citizen will soon fund their health care coverage. It will look like Al Hubbard's caviar, costing a fortune and barely covering the smallest portion of the plate.

Guess who Pete Peterson wants to design this new health care system? American CEO's! Of course, their executive compensation package will include prime coverage while everyone else's deteriorates? Just think, they can get a huge multi-million dollar bonus for dropping health care coverage for their employees.

"Let them eat cake." Just like the PEU boys' preferred tax rates, they get the benefits, you get the pain. Recall, someone had to pass legislation and then choose not to change it. A used condom is coming if people don't wake up. Pete's yearnings aren't for the post World War periods, they're for the Guilded Age.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Two Weeks to Choose: Cooperation or Confrontation?

To whom did the Bush administration offer a choice of cooperation or confrontation, with an expected two week answer? Was it:

a. Congress
b. Methodist Ministers opposed to the Bush Library at SMU
c. Physicians who accept Medicare and face a 10% fee reduction
d. Banks at risk of failure due to nonperforming loans and asset write downs
e. Karl Rove in regard to his Congressional subpoena
f. Iran in regard to its nuclear enrichment program

The correct answer is f, Iran. George Bush likes drawing lines in the sand and daring his enemies to step over them. When they do, our Commander in Chief becomes engorged with rage, sending in the enforcers, in this case the U.S. military or that of our 51st state, Israel. Either country's military might can penetrate Iran's air defenses.

Two weeks warning, Iran. Then George W. takes his Waragra.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Presidential Campaigns Get High from Bundlers

"Hey Barry, who's your source for the juice, and I don't mean OJ? I'm getting low and need a new stash, preferably with some glucosamine cutter. It's hell getting old."

Both Barack Obama and John McCain continue to rake in the cash, the political heroin needed to make a successful Presidential run. And who might their dealers be? Who is packaging numerous $2,300 donations into a hit big enough to send the campaign machine's gears racing? Those folks are known as bundlers. Our two red and blue political junkies are slow on the uptake in revealing their dealers.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Bush Signs Retroactive Immunity

President George W. Bush signed a bill providing immunity several years after potential lawbreaking behavior. The Senate decided to give likely miscreants a free pass for actions considered understandable in light of world events. Of course, the President's benefactors were corporations, not individual citizens.

What happened to his "zero tolerance" for those who violate our social contract? That applies to people in drastic need of food, water, and shoes after a deadly hurricane, but not to telecommunications companies spying on the American people.

Harry Reid placed a bad bill up for consideration, Barack Obama joined numerous Democrats in voting "yes" on telecom immunity. It's a sad day indeed, when Congress and the White House give a free pass long after the fact. The American people deserve answers, but are hung out to dry once again.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Grim Reapers Pursue Osama bin Laden

Two harvesters of death have al Qaeda leader, Osama bin Laden, squarely in their sights. The Grim Reaper awaits nearby as the terrorist leader suffers from terminal kidney disease, at least the CIA believes such according to Sify News. The other death dealing hunter, President George W. Bush, has an intense push to capture bin Laden before his term ends in January 2009.

Ex-White House Homeland Security Advisers, Frances Townsend, implied finding Osama was top priority in a Fox News piece. The Indian newspaper article had more wise words from Fran.

“I've read all the same conflicting reports that people have talked to you about. I never found one set of reporting more persuasive than another.”

At least Fran is as open and transparent as ever. The question remains which reaper will find bin Laden first.

5-1-11:  The U.S. military killed Osama bin Laden and took custody of his body.  The raid took place in Pakistan