Thursday, October 27, 2005


Exxon Mobil announced an almost $10 billion profit for the 3rd quarter of this year. That's not $10 billion for a year, that's $10 billion for a three month period. It's the highest profit by a publicly-owned company ever in the history of the world, breaking their own record which they set last year.

I...don't even know where to begin...I'm driven to write something about this after watching (on C-Span tonight--can't find a link) several Democratic senators (Stabenow, Schumer, Dorgan, Dayton) decry these exorbitant profits. Schumer had a good point that the oil company mergers of the last several years have greatly decreased competition, thereby effectively making the ol' standby of "supply and demand" kind of a moot point.

None suggested getting off oil.

They had some "solutions" but the only one I can remember is something easily demonized by Rush and Fox--a tax on windfall profits.

Republicans--This is America?

Dennis Hastert's suggestion for how to handle the coming high natural gas price/low winter temperature crisis was to "keep the thermostat down" (how far down is "down", one wonders--would he have us keep it high enough to not freeze to death?). He also suggested that citizens "drive less." He acknowledged that oil companies are posting record profits, which he justified with the deceptively simple and seemingly innocuous phrase "This is America." He said "oil companies are making record profits, but that's all right--this is America."

Then he said that he and other people on Capitol Hill are turning off lights when they leave rooms and turning off computers and computer monitors when they're not being used.

He also said something I didn't expect him to say--something that seems contrary to what the usual Republican spin on the economy is. He said that "these are tough times."

What the fuck are we gonna do about this?

Well, I can tell you who's not having "tough times." Exxon Mobil. They're having a great time. On their website, they try to justify their record-breaking/setting profit by claiming that their profit-per-dollar is in the same range as other U.S. corporations.

Here is a sample of how they put their profits "in perspective":

The total earnings numbers in the news reflect not just performance but also the company’s significant scale and global scope. For example,
ExxonMobil’s investment of $106 billion in property, plant and equipment
alone exceeds the GDP of many of the countries of the world.
These earnings, over two thirds of which stem from non-U.S. businesses, enable
us to take on the challenge of meeting the world’s vast and growing energy

Hmmm...I don't have the time, inclination, or energy to search for a link or links to document this assumption, but the part about two-thirds of their earnings "stem from non-U.S. businesses" is a shorthand, bloodless way to say that their supposed 8% profit margin is realized by hiring workers in their "non-U.S. businesses" at barely a living wage with no health care, no benefits, etc. And that's not even going into the offshore tax shelters and tax cuts and other corporate welfare they are almost certainly receiving.

The Profit over People part

And that brings us to the profit over people part of this already too-long blog entry. I was amused by the simple, no-nonsense way the AP story accounted for Exxon Mobil's profits--"Thursday's outsized earnings are a result of surging oil and natural gas prices that pushed pump prices to record territory after Hurricane Katrina." I liked the Reuters take on it also--"Record profits for Big Oil at a time when consumers are paying sky-high prices for gasoline have brought calls for a windfall profits tax".

In other words, Exxon made more because they charged us more.

But I wasn't able to suddenly and inexplicably charge my employer more for my services, were you? As a result, I not only didn't have a record increase in profits this quarter, I had no increase at all.

But a monkey could do what I do for a living, that's why I don't get to set my price. Not many people or companies can do what Exxon does (as Schumer pointed out), so they should be able to charge whatever they feel like charging, right? That's the free market, loser.

Well, that ain't the "free market." Again, as Schumer pointed out, a "free market" would have competition. And also, as Stabenow pointed out, gasoline is a necessity, not a luxury. That's why these companies shouldn't be allowed to charge simply what the market will bear.

But Hastert has the solution--just drive less. Does Hastert think that everyone in America lives in a convenient little town square where everyone's office, day care, grocery store, hospital, church, etc. is within walking distance. Does Hastert think every small town has a robust public transit system?

Because if that were true, his exhortation to simply drive less might make some fucking sense.

And for those of you who still don't think that Exxon Mobil and corporate America in general are about profit over, and the expense of, people, here's an "oil analyst" from the same AP article mentioned above:

"Exxon is a good corporate citizen but it does not work for the welfare of the country," said oil analyst Fadel Gheit at Oppenheimer & Co. in New York.

No shit, Sherlock.

Will the new SCOTUS pick be timed for Fitzmas as a distraction?

It'd be a good move...for them.

My local paper didn't print my later today. Maybe tomorrow.

What Tom DeLay must not realize is that "conservative politics" as currently constituted is already "criminalized."

I agree with Michael Moore and everyone else--thanks, Mr. Kerry for saying we should bring the troops home, but fucking honestly, man--too little too late. By at least a year.

The new Kurt Vonnegut book is delicious, as is the new Al Franken book.

End the war.

Impeach Bush.

Rock on.

P.S. Lord, please save us from the "Christians"...

Wednesday, October 26, 2005


Let's hope so...there are so many conflicting reports it's hard to keep it all straight. But I gather that at least Rove and Libby are being indicted, Libby on possibly two counts. And apparently Rove wouldn't deal for a lesser charge--he's counting on his pardon, I guess. But whatever happens, I generally follow the action at AmericaBlog...

Letter To The Editor

Here's a letter from my local paper, followed by my response to it:

Don't dishonor nation's heroes

It is a human tragedy that we as Americans must take into account in the war on terror - that being the deaths of 2,000 Americans in Iraq. The kooky left is exploiting that number as a milestone in 313 cities.
How do I know? Go to and see for yourself.

Why would this upset me, you ask? Well, just the night before last, I watched the WW II movie "The Battle of the Bulge" and a documentary about that battle. Yes, I have seen it before, but I am still in awe of the heroism of the Greatest Generation.

Those men and women who went to war to preserve our freedoms from Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan are real heroes.

In just that one 15-day battle, 75,000 allies were either captured, wounded or killed, and I can't find in WW II history one party celebrating their grief. That war led us to the Cold War, a 50-year battle that Ronald Reagan brought to a head with his military buildup. We won both wars and we don't speak Russian, German or Japanese. We don't live in a totalitarian society under an emperor or a chancellor.

This generation of young Americans stands toe to toe with the WW II vets and deserves our respect and support, and not to be spat on when they return the heroes they are.

A mother dishonors her child's decision to defend his country with activism and blots that heroism to obscurity. Don't do the same.

Frank Ross,


And my response, which will hopefully by printed tomorrow...

In his letter of Oct. 26, Frank Ross decries vigils being held by what he calls the "kooky" left to mourn the 2,000 U.S. combat casualties in Iraq and then spends the rest of his letter describing a WWII movie.

I would like to remind Mr. Ross that the Iraq war is not WWII (in which we were attacked by Japan) and it is not a movie.

Iraq never attacked us and never had the ability to do so. In a 2004 debate with John Kerry, even President Bush himself acknowledged that we were attacked by al Qaeda and not Saddam. If the Bush administration had not railroaded us into this illegal, immoral war, we would have eventually found out from the weapons inspectors that Iraq had no WMD of any kind without having to lose 2,000 of our own soldiers (to say nothing of the several thousand wounded) or killing tens of thousands of Iraqis.

Does Mr. Ross truly think that the Quakers (the sponsors of the vigils he mentioned) represent "kookiness"or that a vigil is at all similar to a "party" that is "celebrating" the grief of a fallen soldier's family? Does he truly think that the efforts of Cindy Sheehan and others to end the war so that American and Iraqi lives can be spared amount to "spitting on"our troops? If so, is it not clear that he and his fellow travellers have no concept of what Jesus meant when he said "blessed are the peacemakers?"

Hopefully the indictments looming over the Bush administration will help bring the distorted, misguided emotionalism and intellectual dishonesty of Mr. Ross and others to an end. We were lied into this unjust war and we need to end it now.

Kelpie Rules!!!

And one more thing...I heard "Hey Friends, It's Kelpie" by...Kelpie today and wrote this gushing review:

Kelpie's latest album "Hey Friends, It's Kelpie" is extremely refreshing due to its ambitious wilingness to confound pop songwriting conventions couple with it's obvious accessibility. One would think that songs with so many changes of mood and meter within the same tune would frustrate the listener, but these songs are so well constructed and catchy that the expansiveness feels perfectly natural.

The album comes across like Badfinger playing the songs from Steely Dan's "Aja" or if Yes decided to make a Jellyfish album (or should that be the other way around?). Which is to say that there are complicated song structures but they're tied together with an exquisite pop sensibility--gorgeous harmonies come floating in and out of the mix at just the right time, garage rock handclaps propel songs forward, etc.

Kelpie exudes a wonderfully familiar strangeness not only in their music, but also in their packaging. For example, the lyrics are included but written phonetically, as are some of the song titles, like "Kunspyers" and "Wandurr Eng," the latter of which happens to be one of the album's strongest tunes.

The band is from Lawrence, Kansas and you may have never heard of them before and may never hear from them again, but "Hey Friends, It's Kelpie" is not just a record, it's an event. And not some empty, they've-got-a-great-look-but-no-talent type of event--this music is enveloping, timeless, and forward-looking. You simply must listen to this album.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005


Ever-intrepid and in-like-Flynn Raw Story has a slightly different take on Fitzmas...this story sounds like fewer presents under the Fitzmas tree to me...

Fitzgerald will seek at least two indictments, the sources say. They note that it remains to be seen whether the grand jury will approve the charges.

Those familiar with the case state that Fitzgerald may not seek indictments that assert officials leaked Plame's name illegally. Rather, they say that he will focus charges in the arena of lying to investigators. The sources said, however, they wouldn't rule out charges of conspiracy.
It'll be interesting to see whose predictions and sources are borne doesn't really matter to me as long as the war ends and the Bush presidency is effectively, if not actually, brought to a grinding halt...

The Washington Note ups the ante:

An uber-insider source has just reported the following to TWN:

1. 1-5 indictments are being issued. The source feels that it will be towards the higher end.

2. The targets of indictment have already received their letters.

3. The indictments will be sealed indictments and "filed" tomorrow.

4. A press conference is being scheduled for Thursday.

CBS also reported this evening that ol' St. Pat will show his hand tomorrow, says ThinkProgress (didn't see the broadcast myself)...

And ending the horror that has now claimed the 2,000th U.S. soldier is what Fitzmas is all about...

I can't friggin' wait!!!

Monday, October 24, 2005

TRUTH (with jokes)

This new Franken book rules!! He debunks, he unspins, he kicks Republican ass!! The audio version (which I've been listening to) is very enjoyable...

Sam Seder was losing his shit tonight on the Majority Report. And I mean that in a good way–some Rape-ublican lurker called in saying that “hate speech” on Air America was turning him off and that Seder was entitled to “his opinion” about Plame-gate. And Sam let him have it, citing facts about the Plame/Libby/Cheney/Wilson case and screaming at the caller “What part of what I just said is ‘opinion’” and so was great. I think I like the show even better when Janeane is away (not that I don’t like Janeane, but Sam gets to go the fuck off a lot more often when she’s not there).

Check 21

Remember Check 21? You know, you used to be able to “float” a check, i.e., write a check even when you knew you didn’t have the funds at the precise moment you wrote the check but could be reasonably sure that the funds would be there by the time the recipient deposited the check? And how all that changed with Check 21?

And do you remember why they had to take that small privilege of “floating” away from millions of wage earners? Terrorism–something that may one day happen (I mean, there is a strong likelihood that there will be another Sept. 11, but no one knows that for sure–except those planning it and they ain’t tellin’), but has really only happened once on the magnitude of Sept. 11.

Anyway, banks don’t operate on that same principle in reverse. The Consumer's Union website puts it this way:

"You may not get access to the funds from checks you deposit any sooner, because the new law does not shorten check hold times. After 30 months, there must be a study on whether banks are making funds available to consumers earlier than the allowable hold periods."

For example, recently I deposited a healthy sum of money in an account on Saturday and then a slightly less healthy amount of money in that same account on Monday morning. Then my wife and I both tried to make withdrawals against that money later in the day on Monday.

But guess what? Our debit cards were rejected, even though the amounts we were trying to use were way below what the balance should have been. Finally we talked to someone at the bank who told us, with a straight face, that “weekend deposits aren’t posted until Monday night.”

Fucking excuse me? I can’t get my money two days after I deposit it but you’re going to punish me for writing a check a little earlier than the money will appear in my account? Isn’t all of this debit/credit shit at banks just computer data anyway?

Anyway, that’s how fear and use of the bogeyman argument affects my everyday life–and probably yours. Why in fuck's name are we putting up with this bullshit?

Cheney Cheney Cheney Cheney Cheney Cheney

You suck, ya vindictive bastard...

Sunday, October 23, 2005


Of course I hope that Fitzmas deals a death blow to the Bush administration. But even more than the demise of Bushco, I would hope that this Fitzmas season would make the fabled Mandate 51 portion of the population awake from their stupor.

I hope that, much in the same way that Christmas ostensibly celebrates a birth, Fitzmas will also mean a birth of skepticism and critical thinking in that mass of the population that trusted Bush, Cheney, Rove, Libby, Miller, et. al. despite much evidence contradicting their claims.

It seems like a little much to ask, I know, but with George W. Satan’s approval rating at 39% generally and 2% with blacks, maybe my Fitzmas wish can come true...

Oh, I love getting online to check out the latest news about Fitzmas…It seems that we’ll get to exchange Fitzmas gifts this week. And Hurricane Patrick will make the White House think Katrina was just a wet fart…Oh, I cannot wait.

Please, Mr. Fitzgerald, don’t take a ride in any private aircraft, don’t take a walk at night to clear your head, and so forth. Because these false Republican bastards have no morals

And even though Justin Raimondo, the proprietor of, has no problem tooting his own horn, I’ll toot it also—he has had ultimate faith in Patrick Fitzgerald from the moment his investigation opened. Raimondo has been accurately predicting and sussing out much of what’s going on in this case and this evil war and in Plame-gate for years now. Check his shit out—his column appears Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005


Christ almighty I can’t wait for these motherfuckers to get indicted already...and for this holy war against decency (that is, the one in Iraq) to end...

Also, instead of worrying about liberating Iraq or the rest of the world, I’d rather me and everyone else worry about the erosion of our freedoms here in this country. Let’s not let all the bullshit about “land of the free” blind us to what is happening. Or as the Buffalo Nickel song “Already” puts it: “glory glory hallelujah/don’t let anyone fool you.” Or as e.e. cummings put it: “I will not kiss your fucking flag” and “there is some shit I will not eat.”

But on to my point about the erosion of freedoms here. My wife just had to show I.D. and be entered in a computer database to purchase Claritin-D at Target here. Now I know this is happening across the country and it is supposed to keep ingredients for meth out of the hands of meth-heads, but I don’t care. I don’t like it–it’s creeping fascism. PLus, the meth-freaks will just be forced to take more drastic and violent measures to get their fix.

I also don’t like video cameras installed on top of traffic lights. That’s creeping fascism.

And they get a majority of people to go along with it using scare tactics, i.e., if we don’t have traffic light cameras, the terrorists will kill us and if we don’t keep track of everyone who buys allergy medicine, the meth freaks will...I don’t know, keep killing themselves in meth lab explosions.

Now, of course neither meth nor terrorism are good things, no matter who’s doing them. But the threat of these things is so minimal. I don’t know anybody who does meth or even know anybody who knows anybody that does meth, do you? Even if you do, do you really think that the vast majority of people who aren’t making/taking meth but just find relief from decongestants should have to be treated as potential lawbreakers every time they want to buy a legal medicine?

And that’s what bugs me–because some companies and politicians want to look tough on crime, they’ve decided to make policies that bring everyone under suspicion. And it doesn’t seem like there are many steps from that to suspension of habeas corpus, waiver of the right to see an attorney or to a speedy, public trial. Oh yeah...we’re already there...

Monday, October 10, 2005


Oooh...can't wait for the Rove/Libby/Frist indictments...sweet! Let the frogs march!

Why can't gas stations around here make mistakes like this?

And these kind of poll numbers are starting to make my "Impeach Bush" bumper sticker look less and less like wishful thinking...oh hell yeah!

And this book, "The End Of Faith" is really of its arguments is that "religious moderates" basically need to shit or get off the pot...

Thursday, October 06, 2005


I want to point out three related stories today that have to do with the state of the American economy and why you and I are getting worse off instead of better off.

The first story is from David Cay Johnston, author of Perfectly Legal, who turns in more stellar work. He reports on anIRS report that was released yesterday. Keep in mind that it’s the Republican, conservative IRS that is reporting this bit of news:

After falling for two years, the share of income going to the richest slice of Americans - the top tenth of 1 percent - grew significantly in 2003 while the share going to 99 percent of Americans fell, tax data released yesterday showed.

What the sentence says in plain English is that the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. And guess what? That’s what today’s Republican party wants. They give tax cuts to those with the highest incomes, which of course has the consequence of making their incomes even higher, as this new report shows.

Johnston goes on to point out another oddity about Bush’s tax cuts, which the yellow-ribbon-magnet-conservatives profess to love so dearly (the tax cuts, not the oddity):

The top 10th of 1 percent paid almost 23.6 percent of their reported income in
income taxes in 2003, down from just under 27 percent in 2002. That is a decline
of 3.4 percentage points. For taxpayers in the bottom 80 percent, the effective
tax rates fall by three-tenths of a percentage point or less.

Get that? For bottom dwellers like us, tax rates declined far less than the 129,000 richest people in the country. Recall that Bush said “by far the vast majority of my tax cuts go to the bottom end of the spectrum” when campaigning in 2000. Then he pushed through the tax cuts that produced this lopsided effect. Is this dishonesty on Bush’s part or merely a grievous, unforgivable unfamiliarity with the details of “his” tax plan?

But sweet Jesus, this quote has been proven false over and over again. When is Bush’s double dealing going to come back to haunt him? Let’s try to set a date for sometime in November 2006.

Food Stamps–Who Needs ‘Em?

Here’s another story about how “compassionate conservatism” has been code for “Fuck the poor”:

Democrats are fighting attempts to make cuts in food stamps and conservation programs at a time when people are coping with hurricanes and drought.

"Right now the difference between life and death for many Americans is the food stamp program," said Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont. "We should not, we cannot, cut the very nutritional programs that are literally saving lives."

A Republican plan to cut agriculture spending by $3 billion had been scheduled for a vote Thursday in the Senate Agriculture Committee, but the panel's chairman, Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., put off the vote indefinitely late Wednesday...The bill by Chambliss would cut food programs for the poor by $574 million and conservation programs and farm payments by more than $1 billion each.

Oh Saxby, you are doing so much for Georgia and your country. Much more than that evil America-hater and Vietnam burnout Max Cleland would’ve ever done.

Yeah, that’s a good one, Sax...cut food stamps right after the most costly natural disaster in the history of our country and when people have been affected in the way that they have in our third story below...

Katrina Unemployment Agency

Yes, also let’s not forget that the hundreds of thousands of people who have been thrown out of work and hence have had their incomes cut off need to stop sucking at the federal teat, right Sax, old chap?

Here’s a good quote (and by “good” I mean “extremely depressing”):

The number of Americans filing first- time claims for jobless benefits rose unexpectedly last week as workers displaced by Hurricane Rita joined Katrina's victims.

Claims for benefits rose by 21,000 to 390,000 for the week ended Oct. 1 from a revised 369,000 the prior week, the Labor Department said today in Washington. About 74,000 claims last week came from people who lost their jobs because of the two storms, a Labor spokesman said. He did not give figures for each hurricane.

Benefit claims may climb in coming weeks as workers displaced by Rita continue to file for payments. The rise in claims from Katrina, which submerged most of New Orleans and nearby areas, may lead to a loss of payroll jobs for the first time since May 2003 when the government reports September employment tomorrow.

Well, even though that story speaks for itself, I feel I must remind everyone that at the end of Bush’s first, unelected term, our economy had lost 2 million jobs.
And now here’s a quarter to half million more, all at once.