Friday, July 24, 2009

Thoughts While Shaving...(Thanks Herb Caen)

French President Nicholas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown

accused oil speculators of driving up the cost of a barrel of oil. U.S. officials are thinking

of changing the rules so you can't bid on a future barrel of oil unless you are actually

intending to take delivery (no hedge funds or other speculators would be able to play).

I have already argued that oil speculation was responsible for as much as 20% of the

current cost of a barrel of oil and maybe more. I made this argument at least five years

ago. However, they need to go further. The United States and the European Union need

to attack the "vertical integration" of the oil industry. Oil companies own the product

from the moment it leaves the ground until it's pumped into your car. We need new laws

breaking off pieces of this stricture. The easiest way would be prohibiting oil companies

from owning gas stations, and allow gas station owners to buy from anyone they wish.

The competition would force the price of gas to be more realistic to the real cost of a barrel

of oil. If speculation was curbed and vertical integration broken up, the price would drop

by as much as 30% and would not go wildly up and down due to natural disasters or

political disasters.

A government report based on FBI interrogations of Saddam Hussein concluded

that Saddam lied about Weapons of Mass Destruction and fought international inspectors,

not because he was hiding something (Bush/Cheney), but rather because he was afraid of

Iran and did not want them to know that he had no such weapons (Lion of the Left, 2003).

Anyone who cared to research it would have known that after the first Gulf War, weapons

inspectors destroyed or eliminated all his stocks of weapons. They wrote reports detailing

everything they destroyed. Scott Ritter catalogued all that had been destroyed; and with

economic sanctions in place, Saddam couldn't restock. This is why both Rice and Powell

decided in early 2002 that Saddam wasn't on their radar and proved no serious threat.

If I knew this, as many others did, how did the media let Bush/Cheney get away with their

fear mongering? (Think New York Times and Judith Miller...who by the way, is reporting

for Fox News now...journalistic integrity for $200 anyone?)

The politically regressive but influential political publication, the "Hotline" is

trumpeting President Obama's "fall from grace"..."end of the honeymoon"...and "wheels

coming off the train" (OK, you get the idea) event of his favorability rating dropping from

the low 60's to 56 to 58 percent. To them this shows that he is toast, the GOP is on the rise,

healthcare and energy reform are dead, and a consumer agency to regulate Wall Street is

a non-starter. It has been pointed out that all great progressive accomplishments (Medicare,

Social Security, Voting Rights Act, Marshall Plan) passed on very close votes after a lot

of noise and struggle. President Clinton's tax increase on the rich, which ushered in eight

years of unprecedented economic growth, passed without a single Republican vote, and

with Al Gore breaking the tie. If pressure continues on Democrats to oppose any GOP

filibuster (in other words, bring these issues to the floor for an up or down vote); healthcare

reform, energy policy, re-regulation of the financial industry, and the improvement in

the quality of life in this country will pass. The key is to pressure Democrats to stop any

filibuster, and then let them vote any way they wish to on the individual bills. Everyone of

Obama's initiatives will pass if the filibuster is eliminated. What will you do to make this


Sarah Palin was elected mayor, but quit to move to a state commissioner job,

which she quit to run for governor of Alaska, which she has now quit to run for president.

So the key question no one has asked here yet should be who her vice presidential pick

would be, don't you think?

Three things California could do to make the state easier to govern:

1. Re-do Proposition 13 so that commercial property is no longer covered, raising billions

of dollars in re-assessments.

2. Eliminate the 2/3 vote requirement to pass a budget.

3. Change the initiative process by prohibiting paid signature gathering and increasing

the number of signatures needed to qualify an initiative.

The first raises much needed revenue and is still true to the spirit of Proposition 13,

which was intended to protect homeowners. The second prevents obstructionism by a

political minority (in this case, the Republicans), similar to what the Republicans do with

the filibuster in the Senate. The third would prevent people or groups from "buying" their

way onto the ballot, and returning the initiative process to it's grassroots origins.

Does anyone remember California when Jerry Brown was governor? He wouldn't

live in the Governor's mansion, tried to prohibit people from driving cars, fought Prop 13,

instituted airborne pesticide spraying of California cities, and appointed some of the worst

department heads in state history. As Chair of the California Democratic Party, he was a

political disaster, and Bill Press was considered a considerable improvement; and would

anyone in Oakland vote for him again as Mayor? Yet he is the front runner to be governor

again: Who'd a thunk it?

Seventy-two percent of Americans say they are in favor of a government option

in healthcare coverage to compete against private health insurers. How can this be even

a question in the Democrat's minds if they wish to have continued political success?

The Regressive Corporate Media (RCM) has been beating Obama about the face

and head for not being tough enough about the dictatorship in Iran. He should encourage

democracy, support the protesters, attack the Iranian government, and refuse to talk to

them in any way. At the same time, Hannity/Limbaugh, et. al. castigated him for supporting

"leftist" Honduran President Manuel Zelaya, and demanding he be re-instated because he

is the democratically elected leader of the country; and Obama is opposed to military coups

whether he agrees with the person deposed or not. (The RCM doesn't like Zelaya because

he is a buddy of Hugo Chavez.) What do you think? I welcome your comments and rebuttals.

Please send them to

1 comment:

  1. Maybe if the oil monopoly was broken up, gas stations would pump a customer's gas again and wash windows and check the oil and tire pressure particularly for ladies. :-)

    Your California ideas sound good too. Taking that 2/3rds vote back down to a majority vote might actually get us an on-time budget. It is obviously not working and has to be changed.

    I would add legalizing marijuana and grading it and getting it out of the black market. Isn't pot California's biggest crop? Seems I heard that somewhere. Getting the pot growers out of our national parks with their illegal pot farms would make the parks a safer place to be where a hiker would not accidentally hike into an armed encampment of pot mafia thugs.

    As an aside, I personally would throw the hunters out of our national parks too because it is creepy and dangerous to drive down the roads of any park system where Larry, Darrel and Darrel are sitting in their truck with shot guns at the ready all facing the road where little momma and her tiny tots are driving by for a day at the park.

    Throwing the cattle out of our park lands would give the oaks a chance to grow too. Have you hike through a park where cattle feed. Those suckers are like goats. They eat everything and nothing has a chance to grow. But these are more econological/social changes than ways to make money - except the pot thing.

    I have not lost hope in Obama but all those Goldman Sacks guys he put in are part of the problem not part of the solution. The looting will just continue until the looters are taken out of control.