"We are not victims of the world we see, we are victims of the way we see the world!" -Dennis Kucinich
"You must be the change that you wish to see in the world." -Gandhi
Last Lefty Standing
by Brad Tyer
OIL MONEY AND A SMART ENERGY POLICY DON'T MIX
May 26, 2004
By Arianna Huffington
Drivers, start your engines — and empty your wallets! As we gear up for the biggest driving weekend of the year, vacationers all across America are coming face to face with the highest average gas prices in history — up 42 cents a gallon since 2001 — and a bad case of "pump panic," a new malady in which your heart rate instantly matches the price of full-service high-test. Where I live, there are lots of folks palpitating at 325 beats a minute. At the same time car owners are having to consider taking out a second mortgage in order to fill up their tanks, oil companies are raking in record profits. ConocoPhillips, for example, the United States' largest oil refiner, recently reported its largest first quarter profits ever. And Exxon Mobil just posted its highest first quarter refining earnings in 13 years. Coincidentally, these companies and their oil and gas industry brethren have a highly profitable habit of greasing the receptive palms of their friend George Bush — doling out over $3.5 million to his 2000 and 2004 presidential runs.
So for American consumers, payback is a bitch. And over two bucks a gallon at the gas pump. Indeed, since taking office, the Bush administration has turned the White House into a veritable full service fueling station for Big Oil. And we're the ones being forced to pick up the tab. How has Bush responded to Big Oil's call to "fill 'er up"? Let me count the ways:
1.5: the meager miles per gallon Bush has proposed increasing fuel efficiency standards for light trucks and SUVs, which are allowed to average 7 miles per gallon less than regular cars.
33: the number of oil refinery mergers the Bush administration has allowed, while refusing to block a single oily takeover. Who needs all that messy free market competition, anyway?
41: the number of top-level Bush administration officials with ties to the oil industry, including Bush, Dick Cheney, Don Evans, Gale Norton and Condoleezza Rice — the only national security adviser in history to have an oil tanker named after her.
100,000: the amount, in dollars, that buyers of extra large — and extra gas-guzzling — SUVs are able to write off in taxes thanks to a scandalous loophole the president signed into law.
23 billion: the number of dollars in tax incentives, tax credits and tax deductions earmarked for the president's energy industry chums in the Bush-backed energy bill passed by the House and awaiting a vote in the Senate.
Infinite (or does it only seem so?): the number of times the president has resurrected the idea that drilling in Alaska's pristine Arctic National Wildlife Refuge would make us less dependent on foreign oil — even though such drilling would, at best, produce enough oil to meet only six months of America's energy needs. And it would take 10 years to do even that. Add to all this the administration's downright contemptuous and
contemptible attitude toward conservation — the only surefire way to reduce the need for more oil — and it becomes unmistakably clear that when it comes to Bush's energy policy, special-interest money has once again trumped the public interest.
It should be the first lesson in Political Chemistry 101: Oil money and good government don't mix. Not in Saudi Arabia, and not in the United States. Of course, our nation's untreated addiction to oil is costing us more than just at the gas pump — it's putting our very security at risk by leaving us beholden to the whims of any number of oil-rich and terrorist-friendly nations. This continued dependence on foreign oil is why Prince Bandar was more in the loop about plans to invade Iraq than our own secretary of state, why the administration's much touted passion for human rights doesn't extend to oil-rich — and brutal — Kazakhstan, why we're spending close to $100 million in taxpayer money to arm and train troops to defend an Occidental Petroleum pipeline in Colombia, and, at least partly, why young Americans continue to arrive home from Iraq (secretly, of course) in body bags.
It's time for Washington to dole out some tough love to the energy and auto industry lobbies and help set them on the path of reform, starting with increasing fuel efficiency standards for all cars, light trucks and SUVs — the single biggest step we can take to conserve energy. Raising standards from the current 27.5 miles per gallon to 36 mpg would save us roughly 2 million barrels a day — about the same amount we currently import from the Persian Gulf. Washington must also push Detroit to radically increase its production of hybrid cars and SUVs, and lead the way in teaming with corporate America to rapidly accelerate investment in energy efficiency, hydrogen-based
technology, and renewable sources of energy like solar and wind. A great model for this is the new Apollo Project, a $300 billion program proposed by unions and environmental groups to create 3 million new jobs while helping America achieve energy independence over the next 10 years.
And, oh yeah, there's one more number ... 2: the date in November when we must make sure to vote Bush out of office and replace him with someone whose judgment hasn't been polluted by all that oil money spilling into his campaign coffers and then leaking into our energy policy. Don't let the skyrocketing numbers on the gas pump fool you: America isn't confronting a shortage of fuel; it's confronting a shortage of leadership.
Important Campaign Message From Congressman Dennis Kucinich On May 29th
I have just concluded three days of campaigning in Alabama, and all of the mythologies about the deep South and the inability of the Democratic Party to register victories in the deep South ought to be challenged because what I saw and heard was an effort by so many people, Democrats and Independents alike, to demonstrate a connection with the highest vision of this country. The south has been through some of the earliest turmoil in America dealing with the challenges of race, and yet when you see the tremendous strides that have been made, and also the awareness and the consciousness to try to heal the wounds of the institution of slavery and the desire to try to truly unite America, you realize that the south is a very special place. And so I'm grateful to all those who helped put the campaign together there.
We need your help so that we can be empowerd as we go through the final campaign to be able to communicate the urgency of the Democratic Party taking a strong stand on getting out of Iraq, a strong stand on ending the PATRIOT Act, a strong stand on fair trade and on universal, single-payer health care. So please, once again, help us in these closing primaries close strongly. Help us get our message out. Help us do everything we can to make sure that when the final totals are in in the last primaries that we're going to be able to demonstrate not only real staying power as part of our effort to change things in the Democratic process, but we're going to be able to demonstrate an emerging awareness and consciousness which is going to transform this nation and the world.
So thank you, once again, for everything you're doing. This is Dennis, wishing each and every one of you an important Memorial day holiday and with a fond rememberance of all of those who have either served our country and have passed on or who are in service of our country today, and all the other ones who are near and dear to our hearts who have
gone on before us.
MoveOn.org Presents Comments & Tidbits On Al Gore's May 26th Speech Regarding Bush's Policy Of Domination
Yesterday, we sponsored a powerful speech by former Vice President Al Gore on the fallout from the war in Iraq. In the speech, Mr. Gore took on the Bush administration, arguing that the "abuse of the prisoners at Abu Ghraib flowed directly from the abuse of the truth that characterized the Administration's march to war and the abuse of the trust that had been placed in President Bush by the American people in the aftermath of September 11th." To sustained applause, he then called for the architects of the Bush foreign policy – Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice, George Tenet, Paul Wolfowitz, and others -- to resign, arguing that "the current team is making things worse with each passing day."
You can read a full transcript of the speech and watch a great five-minute video of the highlights at: http://www.moveonpac.org/gore/
Mr. Gore began the speech by focusing on the policy of domination which pervades the Bush Administration:
"An American policy of dominance is as repugnant to the rest of the world as the ugly dominance of the helpless, naked Iraqi prisoners has been to the American people. Dominance is as dominance does."
"Dominance is not really a strategic policy or political philosophy at all. It is a seductive illusion that tempts the powerful to satiate their hunger for more power still by striking a Faustian bargain. And as always happens -- sooner or later -- to those who shake hands with the devil, they find out too late that what they have given up in the bargain is their soul."
This policy, he explained, is making us less safe as a country:
"The unpleasant truth is that President Bush's utter incompetence has made the world a far more dangerous place and dramatically increased the threat of terrorism against the United States. Just yesterday, the International Institute of Strategic Studies reported that the Iraq conflict " has arguable focused the energies and resources of Al Qaeda and its followers while diluting those of the global counterterrorism coalition." The ISS said that in the wake of the war in Iraq Al Qaeda now has more than 18,000
potential terrorists scattered around the world and the war in Iraq is swelling its ranks."
To sustained applause, he then called for the resignation of the Bush foreign policy team:
"One of the strengths of democracy is the ability of the people to regularly demand changes in leadership and to fire a failing leader and hire a new one with the promise of hopeful change. That is the real solution to America's quagmire in Iraq. But, I am keenly aware that we have seven months and twenty five days remaining in this president's current term of office and that represents a time of dangerous vulnerability for our country because of the demonstrated incompetence and recklessness of the current administration."
"It is therefore essential that even as we focus on the fateful choice, the voters must make this November that we simultaneously search for ways to sharply reduce the extraordinary danger that we face with the current leadership team in place. It is for that reason that I am calling today for Republicans as well as Democrats to join me in asking for the immediate resignations of those immediately below George Bush and Dick Cheney who are most responsible for creating the catastrophe that we are facing in Iraq."
"We desperately need a national security team with at least minimal competence because the current team is making things worse with each passing day. They are endangering the lives of our soldiers, and sharply increasing the danger faced by American citizens everywhere in the world, including here at home. They are enraging hundreds of millions of people and embittering an entire generation of anti-Americans whose rage is already near the boiling point."
"We simply cannot afford to further increase the risk to our country with more blunders by this team. Donald Rumsfeld, as the chief architect of the war plan, should resign today. His deputies Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith and his intelligence chief Stephen Cambone should also resign. The nation is especially at risk every single day that Rumsfeld remains as Secretary of Defense. Condoleezza Rice, who has badly mishandled the coordination of national security policy, should also resign immediately."
And, at the end, he called for us to hold Bush accountable in November:
"I want to speak on behalf of those Americans who feel that President Bush has betrayed our nation's trust, those who are horrified at what has been done in our name, and all those who want the rest of the world to know that we Americans see the abuses that occurred in the prisons of Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantanamo and secret locations as yet undisclosed as completely out of keeping with the character and basic nature of the
American people and at odds with the principles on which America stands."
"I believe we have a duty to hold President Bush accountable -- and I believe we will. As Lincoln said at our time of greatest trial, 'We -- even we here -- hold the power, and bear the responsibility.'"