Friday, April 28, 2006

Stuck With Bush and Rising Oil Prices Enrages the Country

Before leaving this morning, I was reading a piece called “Stuck With Bush” by Bob Herbert, the second New York Times OP-Ed in as many days lashing out as George W. Bush. I think that at times the piece goes too far, but in general, I thought it struck some very good points.  And one point really struck home to me: that the world is finally waking up to the reality that Bush has created, and realized it’s not Shangri La.

The nation seems, very belatedly, to be catching on to the tragic failures and monumental ineptitude of its president. Mr. Bush's poll numbers are abysmal. Republicans up for re-election are running from him as if he were the bogyman.

Callers to conservative talk radio programs who were once ecstatic about the president and his policies are now deeply disillusioned.

The libertarian Cato Institute is about to release a study titled "Power Surge: The Constitutional Record of George W. Bush." It says, "Unfortunately, far from defending the Constitution, President Bush has repeatedly sought to strip out the limits the document places on federal power." While I disagree with parts of the study, I certainly agree with that particular comment.

In the current issue of Rolling Stone, Sean Wilentz, a distinguished historian and the director of the American Studies program at Princeton University, takes a serious look at the possibility that Mr. Bush may be the worst president in the nation's history.

I have been pointing it out here as well; the Mick Jagger incident in Helsinki is only one of a number of incidents I have reported on. Other bloggers are reporting on more and more cases where the world is speaking out against the actions of George W. Bush and his administration. His cabinet is abandoning him; Republican candidates are distancing themselves from the President, and of course we, the blogging community, speak out.

Yes, the country is waking up to Bush’s mismanagement of this country and its resources, but only because today the more then ever the issues facing the United States are effecting citizens on a personal level, making it impossible to turn a blind eye to the actions of the Bush administration.  

An hour later I’m walking out to my car, and from a neighbor’s window I hear Rush Limbaugh blaring, angry about something Bush has done, the radio obscured every few words by the woman saying things like “the last time”, and “he really screwed us”.  I got to the healthcare office, and the women behind the desk were in chaos as all the front desk workers refused to unwilling to work Monday. Bush was blamed for it all.

I got home, and opened Drudge, only to read about Exxon’s whopping $8 Billion in profits from last quarter, their 5th highest profit total ever. That’s not revenue, folks, that’s the money that Exxon made after expenses. And that was below their estimate!

The company said its average sale price for crude oil in the U.S. during the quarter was $55.99 per barrel compared to $42.70 a year ago. It sold natural gas in the U.S., on average, for $8.31 compared to $6.18 during the same period one year ago.

Earnings from exploration and production of oil and gas rose to $6.4 billion from $5 billion a year ago. Refining profits fell from $1.4 billion to $1.2 billion and profits from its chemical business fell to 949 million from $1.4 billion Revenue grew to $88.98 billion from $82.05 billion a year earlier. Higher crude oil and natural gas prices and improved marketing margins were partly offset by lower chemical margins.

Placed in perspective, Exxon's revenue for the three-month period was still greater than the annual gross domestic product of some major oil producing nations, including the United Arab Emirates ($74.67 billion) and Kuwait ($55.31 billion), according to statistics maintained by the Central Intelligence Agency.

ConocoPhillips also saw huge profits this past quarter, a 13% bump from the year before, allowing them to purchase Burlington Resources for $18 Billion. Revenues jumped to 47.9 Billion for the quarter, up from $8.9 Billion a year earlier. Not bad for a few months, huh?  Any chance they’re firing? Maybe if they hired me I could afford the gas to get to and from work.

Gas prices are through the roof, and it’s hitting you and me right where it counts, in the wallets. Sure, the price of a barrel of crude has increased dramatically, but so has the  selling price of oil, allowing the oil companies to clean up at our expense. And while some Republicans try to ingratiate themselves with the public by suspending the retail sales tax, it takes no genius to realize that real relief must come from the oil companies in the way of lower prices.

Another proposal by Senate Republicans advocates sending $100 rebate checks to millions of taxpayers, and that proposal I like.  But it’s still a stopgap measure, a bit of relief when a long term solution is in order. Prices need to decrease if the average American is going to really see any relief from this crisis. And with the oil companies showing no mercy to American citizens, the government must act on our behalf.

But here is the rub, as our president cares more for the oil companies than he does for our citizens. In 1973, when faced with a similar oil crisis, President Nixon issued the Emergency Petroleum Allocation Act, allowing him to control prices and provide relief to the American people. But George W. Bush has been more than happy allowing his cronies in the oil industry to make money hand over fist at our expense.

Bee County, Texas is planning a boycott of Exxon-Mobil, seemingly the worst offender of the oil companies, and that idea is spreading. But you and I both know that when shortages occur, Exxon-Mobil will make back any losses that they incur now as a result of public outrage over their profits.

So is it a surprise that people are starting to notice of the Bush administration’s mismanagement of the country?  We all feel the pinch of the pump, and then to wake up to news of such gross profits, it’s hard to accept. I mean, our President, who has taken an oath to protect me from dangers, domestic and abroad, is now making a fortune on the back of my labor, and yours. Why shouldn’t you and I be upset?

Let’s go back to the Op-Ed piece by Bob Herbert, “Stuck With Bush”. Herbert says this near the end of the piece:

The sins of the Bush administration are so extensive and so egregious, they could never be adequately addressed in a newspaper column. History will be the final judge. But I've no doubt about the ultimate verdict.

Remember the Clinton budget surplus?

It was the largest in American history. President Bush and his cronies went after it like vultures feasting in a field of carcasses. They didn't invest the surplus. They devoured it.

This echoes sentiment around the country, that this government has taken advantage of its citizens, used us for their own personal profit, and we’re growing pretty sick of it. Of course, Herbert also points out that there’s nothing we can do about it, and perhaps he’s right.  But no question, at the very least, that finally the voice of the people is being heard.  Whether it will be heard by the politicians is the question.

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Posted by Scottage at 2:32 AM / | |