An ugly surprise from big oil

The corporatists in Congress barked at Obama that he must approve that Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to the Gulf Coast. Because the Exxons and Chevrons need a way to get all that Canadian tar sands oil to their Texas refineries. That’ll increase the supply of gasoline and lower the price at the pump. It’s Economics 101, Bucko.

Really? Well, consider this complicating fact: rather than shipping an abundance of gasoline to our gas stations, Big Oil has quietly been siphoning oceans of fuel from their U.S. refineries and shipping it to Asia, Europe, and Latin America. Last year, for the first time ever, fuel became the top export of the United States – the big refineries shipped 117 million gallons of gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel per day out of our country. Suddenly, fuel exports are bigger in dollar value than the foreign sales of American aircraft, agriculture, or any other product.

Commuters, truckers, farmers, airlines, and others who’re dependent on those fuels have been soaked in the past year by gasoline pump prices that have averaged $3.52 a gallon – a record high. This price shock has given Big Oil’s political puppets an excuse to yap ceaselessly about the urgent need to “build that pipeline.” The environment be damned, is their cry, full speed ahead to increase supply.

These ranters don’t mention (shhhh) the giant refiners’ control and manipulation of our gasoline supply for their own fun and profit. While the refiners refuse to reveal how much they profit from exporting fuel, the more they send overseas, the less there is at home, allowing them to jack up our prices. No surprise then that the Big Five gasoline makers enjoyed record profits in 2011.

Rather than ripping apart our environment to serve these finaglers, America urgently needs a full conversion to alternative fuels.

“High Gas Prices Mean Record Profits for Big Oil,”, April, 24, 2011.


America’s class divide

What planet does presidential wannabe Rick Santorum live on? When it comes to grasping the situation of America’s hard-hit workaday majority, this sweater-vested, ultra-right-winger is further out than Pluto.

In a recent debate, Santorum assailed a tax plan proposed by front-runner Mitt Romney. It wasn’t the plan’s details that caused Rick to stamp his tiny feet, but Romney’s expressed intent to help the “middle class.” Tut-tut, chided the ideologically-pure Santorum, Republicans mustn’t use such language, for it creates an impression of class warfare. After all, he lectured, “There are no classes in America. We don’t put people in classes.”

Sure, Rick – forget today’s jobless economy, a national epidemic of union busting and wage knockdowns, absurd tax giveaways to the superrich, the ongoing Wall Street bailout, inexcusable corporate subsides, rising poverty, the slashing of anti-poverty programs, and a decade of falling incomes for the vast majority, while the elite one-percent makes off with triple-digit increases in their wealth – there’s no class war happening. Just close your eyes, hum a happy tune... and live on Pluto.

Meanwhile, in the same week that Santorum spoke, the Pew Research Center released a new survey showing how far removed he is from regular people’s experiences and concerns. Two-thirds of Americans see “strong conflicts” between the rich and poor in our country, a stark division between those few who have wealth, power, and security and the vast majority who don’t. The few do not have the same objectives as the many, and the survey found that this class separation – yes, class – is the number one source of social tension in America today.

Interestingly for the far-out Santorum, not only do 73% of Democrats and 68% of independents agree, but so do 55 percent of Republicans.


Memo to Supremes: Got ethics?

Good grief – how can someone so smart be so stupid? So clueless? So wrong?

John Roberts is not just any someone. He’s Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, the judicial body of last resort with god-like power to impose “justice” and alter the rules that the rest of us are expected to obey. But what rules of ethical conduct must these nine justices obey?

The answer is: None. While there are written codes of conduct for every other judge in America, the Supremes have majestically exempted themselves from any such enforceable ethical burden. This is now causing a public stink for the Court, since three of the exalted jurists have recently been exposed for participation in nakedly political events to advance the fortunes of right-wing corporate interests for whom they’ve been ruling. This political partisanship is expressly prohibited by the code of conduct that governs other federal judges, so why should these nine public officials be exempt?

Because, explained Chief Justice Roberts, all nine of us are “jurists of exceptional integrity and experience.” He added that they do “consult” the code, ducking the obvious difference that he and his eight privileged colleagues can ignore the code with impunity. “At the end of the day,” sniffed the imperious Roberts, “no compilation of ethical rules can guarantee integrity.” Wow, Chief, how sage is that? Since written rules can’t “guarantee” your integrity, why have them for lower courts, for any public office holder, or even for common citizens?

Roberts proves that you can’t cover stupidity with a law degree and a black robe. A coalition of citizen organizations is demanding that the Court stop toying with the integrity of the judicial system and at least follow the code of conduct for other judges. To join the push, contact