Oil Madness: Remember the Cheney-Oil Industry Cabal?

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Oil barons are inappropriately lining their coffers with mountains of dollars from American citizens by generating oligopolistic cartel conditions on the price of refined oil and gasoline. Yesterday, Exxon posted a first-quarter profit of $8.4 billion and is on track to outpace the most profitable year in its history.
Dems and other outraged Americans should beat on the oil and gas industry and immediately suspend all tax giveaways that we have arranged for an industry that is sucking away a greater share of the meager resources of America’s struggling middle class and less well off families.
The combination of Katrina damage in the Gulf and the increased drumbeat for a hot strike against Iran have given oil firms the camouflage they need to drive prices higher in an implicitly organized cartel. The government — even with competent investigations — will be unable to do much in this environment.
But no one seems to be going back and pounding on Dick Cheney again to demand once more — Supreme Court decision or not — that he disclose what America’s energy firms sought from him, what they advised him, what was bartered between his office and the energy firms in secret meetings when assembling a “national energy policy.”
If there is blame to be assigned for today’s situation, it rests with Cheney and the utter failure of the Bush energy policy that was crafted cooperatively with a secret oil and energy industry cabal — whose proceedings of key meetings Cheney will not disclose.
Why are Dems not resurrecting this Cheney/Oil Industry controversy?
I will be writing more on this as I don’t think that “cheap gas” should be the goal of Dems and oppose a race to the bottom with the President on figuring out all the tax suspensions and rebates that would generate only minor offsets for American consumers against the obscene profits of ravenous oil CEOs.
Even at current prices, gas in this country is cheap compared to virtually any other place in the world. The problem is that the rise in prices is lining the pockets of price-gougers rather than going into serious R&D and the establishment of credible alternatives. Our goal should not be cheap gas — it should be a Manhattan Projet of a new and different energy future.
It’s hard for Americans to hear about this sort of serious energy plan when they see their household funds seriously diminished by rapidly rising gas prices — but that makes the Bush administration’s energy sector performance doubly failed. But Dems need to go to this battle not only with criticism but with a BETTER PLAN in hand.
The only way to compel Americans to give Dems a chance at the helm again is for Bush’s opposition to embarrass the failures of leadership, vision and good policy — and to then put a better plan on the table. Right now, Dems are criticizing but not offering the key piece of how to get America’s energy and environmental future on track.
Incumbent oil firms are addicted to the narcotic of irresponsibly high profits while Bush and his team, as well as much of the country, are addicted to the narcotic of highly subsidized gas — which a massive defense budget and tens of thousands of lives are being deployed to secure.
America needs oil access, but it must move now to diminish that dependence and do so in a way that moves us into a more environmentally sound position.
However, the oil industry is in the way of progress — and in these conditions, they are behaving like war-profiteers, benefiting inappropriately when American men and women are dying in Iraq and perhaps next in Iran in part to preserve America’s stakes in strategic oil assets.
Senators and Congressmen calling hearings and launching investigations shouldn’t just have weak, unfocused sessions trying to find evidence of cartel coordination behind rising gas prices, they should focus on the war, on Katrina, and on the oil industry’s cynical use of these events to force Americans to sacrifice more from their pocketbooks.
It’s the war, oil profits, Vice President Cheney, and that secret meeting he had with oil industry leaders. . .
— Steve Clemons

Comments

48 comments on “Oil Madness: Remember the Cheney-Oil Industry Cabal?

  1. söve says:

    I know Israel very well. There is far more criticism of Israeli policies in Israel itself than there is in the US. Similarly, there is greater accommodation of Hamas among many in Israel than in the US. Many more Israelis are acutely aware of the adverse and negative impact of Israeli policies on Palestinian people than Americans are. Many Israeli Jews are vocal in their criticism of official Israeli policies. Its only in the USA that such people are called anti Semites even though these Israeli Jews do not remember a family history outside Judaism. Many Israeli Jews also acknowledge that Arabs are Semites too – a fact totally lost in the US knowledge base. Many Israeli Jews distinguish beween Judaism and Zionism. I am not convinced that the collective US psyche is mature enough to acknowledge that distinction, let alone debate it.

    Reply

  2. hydrocodone says:

    Nice blog, best design. Thanks!

    Reply

  3. vanizar says:

    DEAREST ONE.
    Permit me to inform you of my desire of going into business relationship with you. I got your name and contact from the Ivoirian chamber of commerce and industry.I prayed over it and selected your name among other names due to its esteeming nature and the recommendations given to me as a reputable and trust worthy person that I can do usiness with and by the recommendation ,I must not hesitate to confide in you for this simple and sincere transaction.
    I am Vanizar Bany.,19years old and the only daughter of my late parents Mr.and Mrs.bany. My father was a highly reputable busnness magnet-(a cocoa merchant)who operated in the capital of Ivory coast during his days.
    It is sad to say that he passed away mysteriously in France during one of his business trips abroad year 12th.Febuary 2001.Though his sudden death was linked or rather suspected to have been masterminded by an uncle of his who travelled with him at that time.But God knows the truth!
    My mother died when I was just 4 years old,and since then my father took me so special. Before his death on Febuary 12 2001 he called the secretary who accompanied him to the hospital and told him that he has the sum of Ten million,seven hundred thousand United State Dollars.(USD$10.700,000) left in fixed deposit account in one of the leading security company in Africa.
    He further told him that he deposited the money in his name,and finally issued a written instruction to his lawyer whom he said is in possession of all the necessary but legal documents to this fund and the security company.I am just 19 years old and a university undergraduate and really don’t know what to do.Now I want an account overseas where I can transfer this nds. This is because I have suffered a lot of set backs as a result of incessant political crisis here in Ivory coast.The death of my father actually brought sorrow to my life.Sir,I am in a sincere desire of your humble assistance in this regards.Your suggestions and ideas will be highly regarded.Now permit me to ask these few questions:-
    1. Can you honestly help me as your daughter?
    2. Can I completely trust you?
    3. What percentage of the total amount in question will be good for you after the money is in your account?
    Please,Consider this and get back to me as soon as possible.
    Thank you so much.
    My sincere regards,
    Vanizar Bany

    Reply

  4. vanizar says:

    DEAREST ONE.
    Permit me to inform you of my desire of going into business relationship with you. I got your name and contact from the Ivoirian chamber of commerce and industry.I prayed over it and selected your name among other names due to its esteeming nature and the recommendations given to me as a reputable and trust worthy person that I can do usiness with and by the recommendation ,I must not hesitate to confide in you for this simple and sincere transaction.
    I am Vanizar Bany.,19years old and the only daughter of my late parents Mr.and Mrs.bany. My father was a highly reputable busnness magnet-(a cocoa merchant)who operated in the capital of Ivory coast during his days.
    It is sad to say that he passed away mysteriously in France during one of his business trips abroad year 12th.Febuary 2001.Though his sudden death was linked or rather suspected to have been masterminded by an uncle of his who travelled with him at that time.But God knows the truth!
    My mother died when I was just 4 years old,and since then my father took me so special. Before his death on Febuary 12 2001 he called the secretary who accompanied him to the hospital and told him that he has the sum of Ten million,seven hundred thousand United State Dollars.(USD$10.700,000) left in fixed deposit account in one of the leading security company in Africa.
    He further told him that he deposited the money in his name,and finally issued a written instruction to his lawyer whom he said is in possession of all the necessary but legal documents to this fund and the security company.I am just 19 years old and a university undergraduate and really don’t know what to do.Now I want an account overseas where I can transfer this nds. This is because I have suffered a lot of set backs as a result of incessant political crisis here in Ivory coast.The death of my father actually brought sorrow to my life.Sir,I am in a sincere desire of your humble assistance in this regards.Your suggestions and ideas will be highly regarded.Now permit me to ask these few questions:-
    1. Can you honestly help me as your daughter?
    2. Can I completely trust you?
    3. What percentage of the total amount in question will be good for you after the money is in your account?
    Please,Consider this and get back to me as soon as possible.
    Thank you so much.
    My sincere regards,
    Vanizar Bany

    Reply

  5. Donald L. Meaker says:

    It is important to note that the oil companies get 9 cents a gallon profit, compared to the government that gets from 40 to 90 cents a gallon.
    If you want lower gas prices, first, stop collecting the gas tax. Second, stop requireing different formulations, so refineries can compete with each other. Third, get rid of the ethanol, which is more expensive, hard to add (must be added after the pipeline) and has less energy per gallon. Fourth, build more US refineries, so existing refineries can be shut down periodically for maintenance without pinching supply. Fifth, a government policy to sell oil from the reserves when the price is high, and buy oil from the reserves when the price is low, with a flat spot inbetween.
    Some price stability will permit expansion of oil production from higher cost sources, where instability puts high cost producers at risk of bankruptcy if their sale price goes down below their lifting cost.

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  6. elementary teacher says:

    Vet, it is my profession, I am a barrio teacher — and I love it. I hope that I am not intellectually handicapped, nor untrustworthy. Eight of my third graders were on walk-out today. But the rest came. We said a little prayer for the kids marching and we asked God to help those present to do well on their state tests. I still firmly oppose the contract, but I also value the comments my opinion elicited in this forum. As Leibniz said, “I’d walk ten miles to talk to my worst enemy if I could learn something.”

    Reply

  7. Bika says:

    Check Point Software Technologies was subjected to more scrutiny than Dubai Ports World, the state-owned Arab company that was initially cleared to take over operations at the six major U.S. ports with no security investigation. That inquiry was initiated only after the American public outcry about turning over port security to a country that has been cited for ties to terrorism. Sources familiar with the Israeli investigation said cybersecurity officials at the departments of Defense, Justice and Homeland Security all raised serious concerns about the purchase before the port controversy erupted. Elementary Teacher (not a profession) was all over this before it broke. For the record, I think Porkie Pig is involved in the manufacturing deal, but the reversal of the ports deal is an example of what a vocal public, armed with researched facts, can still do.

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  8. Vet says:

    I wonder if that means name calling like ‘intellectually handicapped’? Or perhaps the use of sophistries like your bad guys are worse that my bad guys, so I’m right?
    The point was an objection to a speicific military defense contract which involves the manufacture of equipment used by American soldiers and paid for by American tax dollars. It did not concern humanitarian contributions made by private citizens.
    There is evidence that the proposed manufacturer’s trustworthiness in this specific domain of concern may be at issue and yes, it is the business of concerned citizens to check.

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  9. jhm says:

    The kicker is that ExxonMobil announced earlier this quarter, that it would not put its growing profitas into increased dividend payments.

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  10. sona says:

    What the US, EU or Canada do re Hamas is no logical, not even non sequitur, defence to justify their actions nor is it ethical to ignore the impact of these decisions on the Palestinian people, many of who are children.
    Dubai may enslave camel jockeys smuggled illegally from poorer countries. US employs slave labour to this day from across its southern borders. None are ethical practices. To respond to an argument against one wrongdoing by holding up others does not make any of those wrongs right. More importantly, this devalues discourse itself.
    The world has never, does not and will not think in one given format. Bullies may win the day using strong arm tactics for their particular world view but they do not convince.
    This applied to Nazism, South African apartheid and apply today to policies pursued by US and Israel among others.
    I know Israel very well. There is far more criticism of Israeli policies in Israel itself than there is in the US. Similarly, there is greater accommodation of Hamas among many in Israel than in the US. Many more Israelis are acutely aware of the adverse and negative impact of Israeli policies on Palestinian people than Americans are. Many Israeli Jews are vocal in their criticism of official Israeli policies. Its only in the USA that such people are called anti Semites even though these Israeli Jews do not remember a family history outside Judaism. Many Israeli Jews also acknowledge that Arabs are Semites too – a fact totally lost in the US knowledge base. Many Israeli Jews distinguish beween Judaism and Zionism. I am not convinced that the collective US psyche is mature enough to acknowledge that distinction, let alone debate it.
    Name calling or resort to totally illogical arguments never settled the legitimacy of an issue nor resolved it.

    Reply

  11. bika says:

    No, don’t call ghost busters, call the History department. The mean US Congress, and the awful American public opinion, wouldn’t let Dubai take over the US ports. Why, Dubai never said a mean word about Israel before those mean congressmen criticized the peaceful emirate of Dubai! And did those mean Zionists have the right to point out the slavery of camel jockeys in progressive, peaceful Dubai?

    Reply

  12. Jimmy says:

    Figured you’d heard of the Apollo Project by now, but no one’s mentioned it-
    http://www.apolloalliance.org/
    named after the original, for energy independence and jobs. It’s plans like these whichh ARE the things which will get the Dems elected, if they only knew or cared or worked in this sensible direction.
    Iff some team doesn’t rally the sensible blogs, websites, pundits, grassroots orgs to just kick the Democrats asses enough to read the “What’s teh matter with Kansas?” book and Kos’ book, and make em actually REBUT or RESPOND to the substance we’re talking about here, then we deserve the horrible fate we’re getting. They’re not changing, waking up to the reality fast enough, so we gotta help them. If they keep hiring the same batch of losing ass republican in disguise consultants again, and don’t go after THE HALF OF THE POPULACE WHICH DOESN”T EVEN BOTHER TO VOTE for a change in addition to the few percent swing voters- then goddess help us while we watch friggin Hillary run and lose (because even if she won it would suck, what a huge disappointment that would be- yuk)
    i feel better now, better go spend $45 filling my 15 gallon tank and drive to work making $11/hr doing my meaningless job rather than fixing the colossal mess industry’s made of the world. vote these bastards OUT means having the Dems run good people and WINNING by making SENSE people want to hear for a change. rant complete- thank you for playing.

    Reply

  13. bob h says:

    While it is most certainly not Mission Accomplished in Iraq, it sure is in the oil company corporate boardrooms.

    Reply

  14. elementary teacher says:

    The European Union and the U.S. have frozen foreign aid to the Palestinian Authority on the grounds that Hamas refuses to recognize Israel, renounce violence or abide by previously signed peace agreements.

    Reply

  15. Carroll says:

    And …er…I have probably contributed to Hamas also, at least indirectly, because I have donated money to a Palestine medical fund for children and one for re-planting Olive trees…both recommened to me by business friend who had visited the area…
    And I am not even Muslim or black or a minority or a victim…..I am one of those WASP Southerners…so who you gonna call to complain…..ghost busters?

    Reply

  16. Carroll says:

    elementary teacher
    We also give military contracts to Israel …should we rescend theirs too?
    So far as anyone knows Dubai has never attacked or threatened the USA.
    And Dubai’s attitude toward Israel is actually none of our business and nothing we should consider in our dealings. I think most Americans would agree that Israel needs to learn to do business the old fashioned way, negotiating, and quit depending on US strongarming other countries for their economic survival.
    As long as we put trade sanctions on countries in the ME that don’t suit us, other countries have the right to put their own trade sanctions on countries they also consider rouge states.
    I am more in favor of starting to protect American industry, but if we are going to keep farming out our needs to foreign enities anyway, then I am all for opening up and bringing in more Arab partners as a way toward better relations and cooperation.

    Reply

  17. Measure for Measure says:

    “Oil barons are inappropriately lining their coffers with mountains of dollars from American citizens by generating oligopolistic cartel conditions on the price of refined oil and gasoline.”
    The hell? We have expanding demand from China et al in addition to considerable supply disruptions.
    Less supply:
    From today’s NYT:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/04/29/business/29traders.html?pagewanted=2
    According to Cambridge Energy Research Associates, an energy consulting firm owned by IHS, Iraq is 900,000 barrels a day below its prewar output; Nigeria has shut 530,000 barrels a day; Venezuela is still 400,000 barrels below its prestrike production; and the Gulf of Mexico remains down by 330,000 barrels a day. In all, this amounts to more than two million barrels of disrupted oil, Cambridge Energy estimates.
    And more 3rd world demand:
    http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/business/AP-Car-Crazy-in-Asia.html
    Annual vehicle production in India has increased by 20 percent each year since 2000, while China’s has grown eight-fold in 10 years to 2.6 million, and it is poised to become the world’s largest car producer by 2015, according to the Washington, D.C.-based Worldwatch Institute, an environmental and economic think tank.
    Hey, I’m all for ending subsidies to oil companies and strengthening CAFE standards. But to think that oil output can nosedive in Iraq without resulting in higher petrol prices is fantasy.

    Reply

  18. Bika says:

    Elementary teacher, thanks for your research. You called the reversal of portgate, before it became headlines. I’m not sure the current turbine contract will follow suit, but teach on — and write what you like.

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  19. sona says:

    My ame is SONA, not Sonia, and it rhymes with Mona.
    Recognition of Israel is no benchmark for corporate activity.
    Define terrorism. Mandela was a terrorist to Kissinger et al. I consider GW Bush to be a terrorist.
    Check this two part series out:
    http://www.atimes.com/atimes/others/howtolose.html

    Reply

  20. Vet says:

    Elementary Teacher, it is another incarnation of the port deal. They contibute to Hamas terror and will not renounce the boycott of Israel. Research on.

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  21. elementary teacher says:

    The Dubai company contributed TO Hamas, Sonia. Last week.
    Research.

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  22. Hedley Lamarr says:

    I thought the so-called hedge funds have a lot to do with the rising prices; hedge funds that Greenspan could have cautioned against, but sadly failed to do. Another strike against the man.

    Reply

  23. alison/seattle says:

    Durbin and Schumer are on MTP and abc this week tomorrow. I wish Steve and my fellow commenters could give them a little tutorial before they go on. If they would make a good case, it could give us some mojo for next week. Got their numbers, Steve, oh wise one ?

    Reply

  24. Nali says:

    I’m a little disappointed that Steve is succumbing to the partisan kool-aid on this one.
    This is why big oil-company profits don’t change gas prices much: imagine dividing big oil’s increase in profits by the HUGE number of gallons of gas that Americans buy every day. The increase in profits wouldn’t equal the increases in gas prices. So higher gas prices have to come from some other source: which is the high price of crude.
    Its really important to put down the kool-aid here, and go beyond trying to score points for democrats in the next election. What happens after the Dems win, but can’t magically make prices go down? Voters will turn on us.
    Yes, we ARE addicted to oil, and yes, we need a Manhattan project to reduce our consumption of it. STOP SPRAWL for one thing.

    Reply

  25. sona says:

    Last time I checked Hamas is not based in Dubai. How in heaven’s name are oil producers/sellers going to spend their fiat greenbacks if we don’t let them?
    The Arabs are as homogenous as the ‘whites’. The saving grace of the racial stereotyping implicit in “elementary teacher’s” comment lies in the word ‘alleged’.
    That comment, nonetheless, does not give me the necessary confidence to trust the education of young children to such intellectually handicapped individuals.
    It makes me angry. It frustrates me too.
    And no, I am not of Arabic ancestry.

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  26. elementary teacher says:

    Speaking of duplicity, this is to register my strong objection to the President’s approval on Friday, April 28, 2006, of a deal for a Dubai-owned company to take control of some U.S. plants that manufacture parts for the United States military. The President has asked us to spend billions of dollars on the “war on terror” and it is duplicitous and insulting for him to allow any military government contracts to be granted to Arabic companies/alleged supporters of Hamas terror. I urge the immediate stoppage of this contract.

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  27. bob h says:

    The oil companies’ rapacity threatens the majority status of their bought-and-paid-for agents in the Congress. You would imagine that they would scale back the rapacity a bit to help preserve the Republican Congress.

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  28. sona says:

    There is an underlying assumption that the purpose of public policy is to serve national strategic interests. Realpolitic, however, translates national strategic interest into winning the next round of elections and the exploitation of gullibilities in the electorate characterised by a disconnect between self interest and addiction to slogans. Thus ‘lower taxes’ becomes a sales pitch but not the questions ‘for who?’, ‘why?’’, ‘how?’ and ‘what if not?’.
    Absolute profits and profit margins of oil companies have increased exponentially in recent times. The latter is a direct consequence of the reduction in costs for oil companies accruing from lower tax liabilities. US policy makers sold ‘lower taxes’ as a virtuous winning strategy. The electorate failed to question how does it serve the collective self interest when there were no benchmarks to evaluate progress in, nor any commitment to, achieving the necessary consequential inverse linkage between production costs on the one hand and investment, employment, incomes, consumption and standard of living on the other.
    Crude oil production has increased in the last year by 3%. Price of oil is determined in futures markets where prices are determined not merely by existing but also by anticipated demand and supply conditions. Call this price gouging or whatever else, nevertheless, the market dynamics that determine the point at which demand and supply intersect to arrive at a ‘price’ have always been the level that the market will bear without killing the golden goose.
    Do Democrats really need to propose an alternative policy agenda? What would be the policy goals? Policies are essentially strategies to achieve goals. Without clear identification of evaluative benchmarks to measure progress towards goals, policies are mere manipulative slogans. The overarching political goal is to win elections. Party political consultants advise on optimum risk averse vote winning strategies relying on saleable slogans and passive/negative election campaigns for opposition parties. To articulate an alternative agenda is to enunciate a vision that is the antonym of a risk averse opposition campaign strategy that exudes the self confidence to coalesce the undeniable public disaffection on a number of seemingly disparate and discrete issues.

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  29. Dirk says:

    There may be many ways to influence the price of oil via the responsible usage of the commodity, but the key, main reason that the price is skyrocketing is the fact that war drums are being beaten over IRAN.
    That would potentially cut all of Iran’s oil off the market and if they successfully cut off the Straits of Hormuz, a substantial percentage of the world’s oil supply (Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, some of S. Arabia’s, Iraq).

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  30. John Wilson says:

    If we were REALLY concerned about gas rices
    OR the ‘war on an abstract nound’
    We could have oil indepoendance like we did once.
    You guys prob’ly don’t remember
    gas-rationing. The “A” stamps for private use,
    “B” for business “C” stands for commercial vehicles.
    The PRICE of gas didn’t go up 🙂 —
    and we didn’t feel compelled to bring domocracy to the middle east…

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  31. Chris Brown says:

    If every dumb assed North American driving an SUV, mega-pickup, or other low mileage vehicle would switch to an efficient vehicle the price of gas would drop, the air would be cleaner, and traffic congestion would be reduced.
    But no, the dumb ass North Americans wold rather spend their tax dollars conquering the Middle East than being responsible stewards of the earth.
    It’s would be really funny how stupid about half of those in the USA are; if they weren’t capable of destroying the world, that is.

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  32. EasyE says:

    The “Energy Task Force” docs will reveal the true motives of Gulf Wars I and II, Iran conflict, etc., etc. Don’t expect in our lifetime.

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  33. ChatRobot says:

    That picture of Cheney at the top of this post says it all.
    —————–
    Padfiles.net: http://www.padfiles.net
    Chatrobot.net: http://www.chatrobot.net
    —————–

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  34. twc says:

    I was thinking this the other day. NOW is the time for people whose voices can get heard (Democratic congresspeople, Al Gore, Howard Dean, etc.) to start hammering away at Cheney, demanding that he release all information about his “energy task force” meetings in which our nation’s recent energy policy was apparently formulated.

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  35. Carroll says:

    I think mlaw230 asked the right question:
    “The question is why have profits MARGINS for the big oil companies increased rather than decreased or remained stagnant?
    I don’t have the oil companies financial statements for the past 15 years but I have observed that when oil was cheaper, profits were lower and when oil is more expensive profits are higher. So..what does that tell us?
    Exxon put out a report last year that “peak oil” was only 5 years away. It drew a lot of attention because no one could believe that Exxon would publically admit we were that close to the end.
    So who is putting money into R&D for alternatives? Obviously the oil companies aren’t diverting any profit into R&D.
    And I would argue that the consumers the high prices are affecting aren’t ‘addicted’ to oil unless you want to call driving to work an addiction or the trucking industry that supplies the nation an addiction. But I am all for slapping a square foot enegy surcharge on the current 4,000 sq ft mega mansion rage for a family of four. And a whopping tax on private use gas guzzlers vehicles, private planes and boats over 26′.
    Some South American countries are going full tilt toward oil independence and the USA is doing what exactly?…offering $100 bucks to all citizens while charging it to their collective credit card at the same time?
    BushCo/Congress/Corp/Mafia USA,L.P…..until we break up this limited partnership we aren’t going to have any solutions to anything.

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  36. leveymg says:

    Steve –
    Windfall profit taxes should not fall directly on the companies, as these are far too easy to pass on to the consumer, and may also be deducted from revenues collectable by state and municipal governments.
    If the Democrats want to get creative and aggressive, they should instead be shouting in unison for windfall taxes on oil industry shareholders. A surcharge on capital gains would be much more difficult to transfer or charge-off. It would also send a message directly to Wall Street that future recurrence of predatory pricing and profit taking should be avoided.
    While Dems are at it, they might also adopt this approach to corporations that off-shore jobs and operations. No group is more effective at policing corporations than the investors. Give them a personal stake in reinvesting in America.
    – Mark

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  37. Marica says:

    Each day brings with it some new abuse of power. Just what will it take for people to realize we are becoming members of a rogue state and victims that same state.
    Government fonctions like a coalition of grifters doing what they do best.
    Congress is becoming more and more a totally bankrupt institution abandoning even the pretense of representing their constituents.
    We are devoured by lobbies and corrupt corporations.
    This is just today’s example of our Soprano family at work. They are drawn to money like bears to honey and I wonder if there is enough energy left to reverse the situation.

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  38. Carol says:

    Maybe Jimmy Carter is having the last grim laugh here.

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  39. Alan Lewis says:

    Steve:
    You, and most of the folks who read you regularly, have likely already gotten there, but it deserves a plug so I’m giving it – please read Thomas Friedman’s piece in the NYT today. Right on point.
    –Alan.

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  40. btree says:

    The Seattle Times adds a neat headline to Dana Milbank’s sketch:
    Lawmakers talk gas, drive away in SUVs
    Indeed.
    The caption reads:
    House Speaker Dennis Hastert of Ill., center, gets out of a Hydrogen Alternative Fueled automobile, left, as he prepares to board his SUV, which uses gasoline, after holding a new conference at a local gas station in Washington, Thursday, April 27, 2006 to discuss the recent rise in gas prices. Hastert and other members of Congress drove off in the Hydrogen-Fueled cars only to switch to their official cars to drive back the few block back to the U.S. Capitol. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

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  41. memekiller says:

    Cheney is so unpopular, anything Dems do will stick right now, and the secret meeting is a freebie worth pursuing. As for a plan, I think the main case that needs to be made is that they are not as beholden to oil companies. The public inherently believes this – they stereotype the GOP as the party of business interests and Dems as do-gooders. So, reinforce that perception – we’ll do the right thing. Also, now that conservation is a security issue, Dems can use that, too. No Republican will do anything that lessens our dependence on oil, and if they offer a plan, they won’t have the credibility to convince the public they mean business.
    So, yes, offer a plan (and Dems have them), but also point out again and again that the GOP has no credibility and is more interested in sucking up to their contributors. Only Dems can be trusted to come up with policy to deal with the problem.
    Dems are the wonks. They care about policy more than politics. In a quickly changing environment, you need someone you can trust to put people’s interests first. Dems can be trusted to seek results rather than partisan advantage.

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  42. mlaw230 says:

    Dear FarmMAma:
    The foregoing is, respectfully Bull—. Erudite and professional for sure, but bull none the less. OF COURSE the price of gas goes upwith crude, OF COURSE the price of gas will go up with increased demand from developing economies and OF COURSE long term supply for a dwindling resource is going to cause enormous problems. The question is why have profits MARGINS for the big oil companies increased rather than decreased or remained stagnant? A more fundamental question is what obligation, if any, does big oil owe to the United States in light of their country of origin and the enormous support in the form of both blood and treasure expended on its behalf?

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  43. Silver Warrior says:

    All Hail Tsar Romanov Cheney.
    Again, power wielding is his.
    George Bush is a front man and fall guy, and not as stupid or ineffective as his handlers portray him.
    Again, Leo Strauss leads the thinking that I am incapable of understanding, and do not need to know, and DO need to be protected against the minions of Sayyed Qtub or Salafism/Wahhabism’s warriors who want to kill me. Thus The Monarchy has determined extreme loyalty and secrecy are in my best interest. Cheney and the rest of the Family, as in Sopranos, have been on board with that for years. Add the idealistic credo that America is “The City on the Hill” and our (read US) destiny is to liberate and bring God to entire the world, and we have the current drama. Another civilization teters in the balance. What an exciting time to be alive. All Hail the silent press and the one party system in the USA – money determines our course. All Hail. All Hail silent Condi, silent Colin. This is the best country in the world. Hari Om Tat Sat. Hail Mary. God have mercy.
    Odd though that I forget China will need nuclear fuel and not oil to continue at her rate of economic growth. Hmmm. Misdirection.

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  44. FarmMama says:

    The REAL discourse:
    http://www.theoildrum.com/story/2006/4/26/121441/891
    We strongly feel that the leaders of both political parties are not only headed in the wrong direction with respect to gas prices, but we also worry that they fundamentally misunderstand the factors behind the current situation at gasoline stations around the US. Public statements by political figures over the past several days would seem to suggest that oil companies and their record profits are the sole factor determining the price of gasoline. Not only is this untrue, but it is dangerous to give the American people the impression that only oil companies are to blame. The American people need to understand that the phenomenon of high gas prices cannot be attributed to a single source. They also need to understand that no one political party will be able to fix our current woes.
    The major factor that determines gas prices is the price of crude oil from which gasoline is derived. When crude oil prices are high, so are gas prices. The following are just a few factors that affect the price of a barrel of oil:
    1. Oil companies do not single-handedly determine the price of oil. The price of oil is set on the crude oil futures market. Simply put, these prices are affected by supply and demand because, at present, oil trades in a global commodity market where increased demand or reduced supply in one place instantly translates into price shifts everywhere. A variety of publicly available information sources show that supply is relatively static at the moment, while world demand continues to grow as economies grow.
    2. We have provided evidence many times at The Oil Drum that the output of major oilfields is declining and that we may now have reached a peak or plateau in global oil supply. Oil companies have not been able to increase production for a number of years, and it is unclear that OPEC is accurately reporting their reserves. Even if there were significant sources of high quality oil remaining, it is getting increasingly difficult and expensive to drill. These factors, along with aging infrastructure for oil exploration and a retiring workforce are also contributing to high oil prices.
    3. The geopolitical situation is volatile, and an astute citizen may notice that every time there is news from Nigeria or Iran, the price of oil goes up because of the potential and real effects of these situations on world oil supply. Again, oil traders are fearful that the supply will not remain stable forever.
    4. Countries like China and India are industrializing at a great pace, and while we are accustomed to obtaining oil at a comfortable quantity and price, it will be impossible (and immoral) to deny similar resources to these countries. China is working furiously to secure new oil supplies, and they’re content to negotiate with countries we’re reluctant to deal with, like Iran and the Sudan.
    These points demonstrate that disruptions in the supply of oil that affect the price of gasoline at the pump are not just a temporary glitch. For various reasons–decreased discoveries of new oilfields, geopolitical instability, international competition for oil supply–we can no longer assume that we will be able to consume as much oil as possible, or ever get it again for $1.50 a gallon.
    Demagoguery and grandstanding are not strategies for addressing our energy problems. As an alternative, the editors of The Oil Drum put forth the following recommendations:
    1. It is nonsensical for political leaders of both parties to eliminate the gas tax temporarily or permanently as this will only worsen our dependence on oil by disincentivizing the innovation of oil alternatives and oil conservation efforts.
    2. Both mainstream American political parties are doing their country a disservice by accusing convenient scapegoats of price gouging or price fixing instead of educating the public about how the price of gas is actually set.
    3. Right now, governments should be focused on helping us cure our “addiction to oil.” The answer does not lie in lowering gas prices, which will only encourage people to drive more and further waste our valuable resources. As the Department of Energy funded Hirsch Report on Peak Oil laid out, the consequences of not taking steps to transition away from oil could be dramatic to our economic system. Appropriate solutions include large-scale research, development, and implementation programs to improve the scalability of alternative sources of energy, other projects geared towards improving mass transit and carpooling programs across the country, providing incentives to buy smaller and more fuel efficient vehicles, and promoting a campaign to increase awareness about conservation.
    The political discourse on this topic is simply so devoid of fact, and constructive discourse so buried and out of the mainstream, that we felt we needed to raise a voice of reason. Public officials will continue to misinform and obfuscate if we allow it.

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  45. margaret says:

    This should be required reading for everyone. I agree that the profits of the oil industry should go to alternative energy development. The oil companies certainly advertise that is what they are doing, but I see little or no evidence of it.
    The Democrats should push for a national, coordinated program, similar to Pres. Kennedy’s “Man on the Moon” project, which brought industry and government together with creative, positive results. We forget how many new inventions came out of this effort, which spilled over into every aspect of our lives: medical, chemical, electrical, computers, etc.
    If the Democrats advanced such a goal in concert with industry, instead of just fighting them as “the enemy,” and if the oil companies could see great profit from this, the common good would be served, and the benefits to the environment and everything else you can think of which has been injured by government for the past 6 years would put us into another “golden age” of scientific and cultural development.

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  46. mlaw230 says:

    One of the fundamental problems is the “upstream” mergers that have been approved by a toothless anti trust policy, dating back through the last 10-15 years on both side sof the aisle.
    Exxon/Mobil, Shell/Texaco, BP/Amoco, and all of them sharing refining and pipeline facilities. In most industries when the cost of raw materials increases dramatically as it has with crude, competition keeps the price in check, i.e. the manufacturers struggle for market share and profits drop at least somewhat, for awhile.
    These companies compete domestically, but not internationally where most of the profit is taken out. People don’t realize, I think, that gas is gas, it most often comes out of the same barge or pipeline and just goes into tanks with different trademarks, there is no difference either in product or cost structure, so there is no basis for differentiating price. Consequently, the oil companies can safely and instantly raise the price to preserve their margins, even while their little guys, the dealers are locked in mortal combat, with each other ans with the big oil companies locations.
    Most Dealers have a pool margin of 8-10 cents per gallon regardless of price increases of 30-40%. He has to stay at 10 cents to compete with the oil companies company operated locations. Right now the margin is abit higher because ethanol gas is scarce, but at $3 per gallon, the Dealer is paying 3% for credit card services i.e. 10 cents per gallon, just to break even, so the independant has to raise prices and isn’t a downward force on the market price either.
    The result is that domestic costs of sale do not increase proportionally with the price, even as big oil just continues to draw off the same margin upstream. The result is the obscene profit you see, without the need for any real price “fixing”.

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  47. Decided Fencesitter says:

    From what I’ve been able to pull from DOE website, the price of gas has stayed fairly relative to the cost of crude oil, barring a few fluctuations. Just in the 90’s Crude was 30 dollars a barrel, and now it is 70-something a barrel, which means if you made 10% on 1.00 a gallon of gass, you make 10% on 2.00 a gallon of gas. Yes the absolute amount of the 10% is greater, but the relative amount isn’t.

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  48. sedrunsic says:

    amen! of course democrats can only really hammer away at the existence of the cabal, not able to produce the substance, thanks to cheney having won the confidentiality war in court. and i have to believe that cheney made quite clear his plans to invade iraq during those shuttered meetings – so i expect he’ll go to the grave protecting that kind of information from ever getting out.

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