Monday, July 31, 2006
10.7 Billion Dollars and Rising
My challenge to the Big Oil Monopolies
[audio post part 1]
[audio post part two]
This very moment, millions of Texans are struggling to find ways to stretch their paychecks and retirement checks to cover $3 per gallon gasoline. This very moment, local governments all over Texas are struggling to balance budgets in the face of ever-rising fuel costs. This very moment, independent business owners all over Texas are struggling to keep their businesses afloat in light of the ever-increasing cost of fuel. This very moment, independent farmers and ranchers all over Texas are struggling to stay alive in the face of fuel costs that keep going up.
But some people are making out just fine. The reports of Big Oil's second-quarter 2006 earnings are out. Exxon-Mobil's net profit for the quarter is 10.7 billion dollars. Surprise, surprise - 3 billion dollars a month wasn't enough. But the price at the gasoline pump keeps going up to $3 per gallon and beyond at the same time that profits keep rising to these ever more unimaginable levels. This equation doesn't balance.
It is a fact of history and economics that the consolidation of great economic power into too few sets of hands inevitably results in the exercise of monopoly power and control. In the last several years the continuing mergers of giant oil companies have resulted in such consolidation to staggering degrees. We the people are witnessing the proof coming out in the pudding.
The oil company executives and their political lackeys want us to think that magical, mysterious market forces are in charge and nobody has any control over the situation. Yeah, right - Exxon-Mobil is a mere bystander to both its $3.5 billion-per-month profits and $3-per-gallon gasoline, and cries all the way to the bank. Don't we all know that the corporate executives wish they could rebate some of the profits back to the consumers, but that they are forced to gouge us against their wishes?
My fellow Texans, the Big Oil robber barons and their government mouthpieces want us to believe that we the people are helpless and powerless - but we are not!
In Texas we have always stood against monopoly power. Our Texas Constitution declares in Article 1, Section 26 - part of our Bill of Rights - that monopolies are contrary to the genius of free government and shall never be allowed. We were the second political jurisdiction in the world to enact an anti-trust statute – in the 1880s, a decade before the U.S. Congress passed federal anti-trust legislation. That first Texas anti-trust law was drafted by then-attorney general James Stephen Hogg, one of the great people's lawyers to occupy the office, who needed it and used it to challenge and beat the railroad barons on behalf of the people of Texas.
The creation of monopoly power does not create jobs. The last several years' worth of corporate consolidations in many industries have resulted in continuing losses of good jobs as the newly merged entities proceed to downsize their workforces. For example, over 9,000 jobs were lost when Exxon and Mobil merged to create Exxon-Mobil in 1999.
Monopolization smothers free enterprise by eliminating competition. Free enterprise, both for workers and for independent business owners, requires competition in order to survive and prosper. Confronting the robber barons over their monopolization of markets and industries by taking action to revive competition will revive lost jobs.
Already at least two state attorneys general, in Connecticut and California, are initiating challenges to the Big Oil companies under their states' anti-trust and consumer protection laws. Texas was way ahead of those two states historically in saying, "NO!" to monopoly power. Texas should not be bringing up the rear now. Texas should be taking its rightful place at the head of the column in confronting the robber barons.
Today's politicians accept the robber barons' excuses and double-talk without question, because today's politicians have been purchased by millions of dollars of protection money in the form of campaign contributions.
Tomorrow a change is coming. A new Texas Attorney General is coming to town, one who is not beholden to big money and who will fulfill his duty to represent the people. As Attorney General of Texas, one of my first actions after being sworn in next January will be to initiate anti-trust investigations of the Big Oil barons.
Big Oil, I'm coming after you.
posted by snarko! at 10:30 PM
Monday, July 24, 2006
Van Os blasts Abbott as "a dishonest partisan political hack."
Statement of David Van Os concerning Greg Abbott's partisan court action on behalf of Tom DeLay and the Texas Republican Party:
"I'm not going to be polite about Greg Abbott's latest actions as a lackey for Tom DeLay and his other cronies of the corrupt Republican Party establishment.
"By intervening on behalf of the Republican Party and Tom DeLay in asking the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to reverse the U.S. District Judge and allow the Republican Party to replace Tom DeLay on the ballot, Abbott is brazenly using the tax dollars of all Texas citizens in the cause of pure partisan cronyism. Further, Abbott is telling a bald-faced lie about his justification for intervening by falsely claiming that the District Judge held a Texas law unconstitutional, when the judge did no such thing.
"The flagrantly partisan map that Abbott recently presented to the federal court in the Texas redistricting case as his recommended remedy for the Voting Rights Act violation that he previously defended is another, simultaneous demonstration of Abbott's disgraceful abuse of public authority for the private gain of his silk-stocking Republican social clique. In attempting to deprive the clearly Democratic-voting Travis County of any Democratic Congressman, the partisan Republican power-grabbing quality of Abbott's plan is even worse than the Tom DeLay plan that triggered the redistricting lawsuit in the first place.
"Both of these Greg Abbott actions involve Abbott's connections to Tom DeLay. This should not surprise anybody, since Abbott is a documented member of DeLay's inner circle, as demonstrated by the presence of the indicted DeLay associate John Colyandro on Abbott's payroll as a senior advisor at the same time that Colyandro was serving as a bagman for DeLay and TRMPAC.
These actions are not mere blunders on Abbott's part. They are willful abuses of authority by a dishonest partisan political hack. It is what happens when Bushite Republican politicians like Abbott get drunk on political power just like their patron in the White House."
posted by snarko! at 11:58 AM
Saturday, July 22, 2006
NO to the Trans-Texas Corridor!
NO to greed! NO to cronyism! NO to land grabs! NO to corruption! NO to arrogance! NO to double taxation! NO to foreign control of Texas highways! NO to Rick Perry's tolling plans! NO TO THE TRANS-TEXAS CORRIDOR!
"As for the Trans Texas Corridor... Van Os said he will do everything he can to block the project, which he called an 'exercise of incredible arrogance' and an 'attempt to take away farmers' land so a private corporation can collect tolls.'" Wise County Messenger, July 16, 2006
Fellow Citizens of Texas, we can stop the Trans Texas Corridor. We have to pool our votes on November 7 and fire the out-of-touch, silk-stocking crowd in Austin who think public office is an invitation for hogs to come to the trough.
I'm Texas-born and Texas-bred and I love my State. I'm not going to put up with a bunch of arrogant politicians and bureaucrats tearing up hundreds of thousands of acres of good Texas farmland so they can cater to the greed of fat cats who gave huge campaign contributions.
The Attorney General of Texas is supposed to be the People's Lawyer but the incumbent, Greg Abbott, is a partisan Rick Perry mouthpiece. He won't lift a finger to save the people of Texas from the Trans Texas Monstrosity but I will.
As Attorney General I'll fight this land grab 'til hell freezes over, then I'll fight it on the ice.
posted by snarko! at 10:40 AM
David Challenges Abbott to Join Him on Tour
Texans for Greg Abbott
PO Box 308
Austin, TX 78767
Dear Mr. Abbott:
Your campaign director, Daniel Hodge, when given an opportunity by a reporter for the Wise County Messenger to respond to the comments I made in Decatur on July 13, stated according to the Messenger, "We don't have any comment on anything he has to say." (Wise County Messenger, July 16, 2006)
Let me remind you that you do answer to the voters whether you know it or not. Since your spokesman misunderstood the simple fact that the office you hold belongs to the public, I want to give you some more chances to answer to the people. Enclosed you will find the schedule for my whistlestop tour of July 25-29 to 19 county courthouses in Central and East Texas. I challenge you to appear at those places and times to respond to me and answer to the people of Texas in public in the open air.
David Van Os
posted by snarko! at 10:31 AM
Monday, July 03, 2006
Supreme Court rebukes Bush and Gonzales
The U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, issued June 29, is momentous. Another Branch of government finally informed the Bushites in no uncertain terms that they do not get to make their own laws.
In this decision, the Supreme Court ruled that the military tribunals the Bushites set up to try Guantanamo Bay detainees are illegal. In reaching this conclusion the Court held that the procedures used by the tribunals violate the Geneva Conventions, that the Geneva Conventions are binding, that the tribunals are not authorized by any act of Congress, that the "war" against al Queda does not give the Executive Branch a special privilege to upset the Constitutional balance of power between the president and the Congress, and that in the absence of express Congressional authorization the Executive Branch does not have the power to establish these tribunals.
The decision is a reaffirmation of the Constitutional balance of power between the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government, and serves as a direct rebuke of the "unitary executive" theory espoused by George W. Bush and Alberto Gonzales. The Court has now made it clear that the "war on terror" does not elevate the president above the law or above the Constitution. This sentence in the final paragraph of Justice John Paul Stephens' 73-page opinion sums it up neatly: "But in undertaking to try Hamdan and subject him to criminal punishment, the Executive is bound to comply with the Rule of Law that prevails in this jurisdiction."
The Justices' votes in the case split 5-3. Justice Stephens wrote the opinion of the Court on behalf of himself and Justices Kennedy, Breyer, Souter and Ginsburg. Justices Scalia, Thomas, and Alito dissented. Chief Justice Roberts recused himself because he previously ruled on the case as a judge of a lower court before joining the Supreme Court. Unless further Bush appointments to the Court lead to it being overruled, Hamdan v. Rumsfeld is one of the most important decisions of the United States Supreme Court in many years. The Court has given the Constitution a little breathing room. But the judiciary can only do so much, and it remains up to we the people to keep her breathing.
posted by snarko! at 2:59 PM
A Day of Reaffirmation
July 4, 2006, is the 230th anniversary of the American Declaration of Independence. This year let it be a day of reaffirmation.
The Declaration of Independence is one of the most revolutionary documents ever written. For the first time in human history, the words, "All men are created equal," were publicly uttered as a fundamental principle of government. For the first time in human history, a nation was founded on the principle that government derives its authority only "from the consent of the governed."
It is not my intention to gloss over the fact that the signers of the Declaration did not apply its promises to everyone even at the time of its issuance. Nor is it my intention to ignore the fact that its promises have never been fully implemented nor its vision yet applied to everybody. The signers of the Declaration were imperfect human beings, the nation they founded was imperfect, and the history of the last 230 years is full of the often-bloody struggles to fulfill its promises.
Nevertheless the revolutionary vision of the Declaration of Independence sets forth an extraordinary mission for all Americans, whether we are native-born or have adopted this place through immigration. Every one of us is an heir of Franklin, Jefferson, Hancock, and the other signers of the Declaration. Its noble vision belongs to each one of us. We Americans are unique in this, every one of us.
It means that upon each generation of us there rests the obligation to carry the mission forward, to progress our society closer to fulfillment of the promises of the Declaration than it was before. This is not an easy task. It is fraught with difficulty and hardship. Too many of us aren't even aware of it. But it is a task that I believe resonates in the cultural DNA of virtually every American.
In today's America we live in a time of Constitutional crisis. Squatters who do not understand the meaning of the Declaration of Independence occupy government. These squatters believe that it is right for some people to be more equal than others. They believe that the people derive their rights from the consent of the government rather than the other way around.
Independence Day, July 4, 2006, the 230th birthday of what our forebears wrought, let us reaffirm ourselves to their vision. They didn't mean for it to be laughed off as "unrealistic" 230 years later. They didn't intend for it someday to be just a fairy tale for schoolchildren. They meant for the dream of equality, liberty, and democracy to endure. They pledged to each other their fortunes, their sacred honor, and their very lives for the birth of that dream. It is now up to us, all of us together, "we the people," to reaffirm ourselves to the same level of commitment, and sacrifice if necessary, to preserve and protect the vision of the Declaration of Independence. As it was left to us, so we must leave it to those who will come after us.
I do so reaffirm.
posted by snarko! at 1:46 PM
Challenging the Pundit Elite
You are worse than clueless
In reference to your June 30 article, "The Fight for Relevance" - to call Dave Mann and The Observer "clueless" would be an understatement. The only suitable words for your smug dismissal of me and the rest of my statewide Democratic ticketmates aren't printable in public.
I have been wondering why the Observer wasn't picking up on what is going on in the Texas countryside in response to mine and others' populist campaigns. Now I know. You have bought hook, line, and sinker the talking points of the Democratic Party establishment's money boys and consultantocracy.
Neither Dave Mann nor any other Texas Observer writer has bothered to cover me on the campaign stump, or Hank Gilbert, Maria Luisa Alvarado, VaLinda Hathcox, Bill Moody, J.R. Molina, Dale Henry, or Fred Head. It is the height of irresponsibility to dismiss what you have not bothered to observe. Indeed, Mr. Mann was not there for our addresses to the delegates on the Saturday of the convention - so he did not witness the exuberant delegate reactions to our passionate populist messages.
I've spent the last two and a-half years stumping in the Texas rural countryside and in working-class settings, challenging the power elites and correspondingly, listening to what is on people's minds. (Gasp - a Democrat spending his time in the "red" zones.) Of course you wouldn't know it in your Austin ivory tower, but there is a revolution brewing. It goes way beyond the phony blue-red, liberal-conservative, progressive-centrist, and left-right dichotomies that lazy journalists, political hacks, and ivory tower academics keep foisting on the people. People are just plain fed up with the out-of-touch, ivory-tower elitism of the whole world of politics, government, and journalism.
Do you want to know why the majority of voters abstain in almost every election? Because they see the political and governmental spheres as being run by manipulative, self-serving social cliques that don't care about them. And do you know what? They're right.
In this age of corporate robber barons and political power grabbers, you greatly disserve your publication's noble history by treating the current political struggles as no more than betting games for hoserace spectators. The people have no use for political opportunists who are waiting for the "right timing" in 2010 or beyond. Waiting for the "right opportunity" is about self-service, not public service. The populace is hungry for fighters who will fight for the people against the robber barons and power grabbers - not down the road when it is "right" for political careers, but now when the need is great.
You of the Texas Observer place yourselves squarely within the ivory-tower cultural elitism that pervades today's world of political hacks, professional politicians, and journalistic pundits. It renders you incapable of seeing or understanding the coming populist revolt. Now run to your political consultant or political staff friends in the nearest trendy Austin watering hole and get their latest poll numbers to prove me wrong. All I've got to say about polling is that it's a damn good thing the 56 signers of the American Declaration of Independence didn't run any polls before deciding to challenge the mightiest empire in the world with a rag-tag of farmers and shopkeepers. And in case you weren't aware of it, the Declaration of 7-4-1776 is in a hell of a mess today and needs fighters to step forward and defend it. I welcome your readers to join the fight.
posted by snarko! at 1:28 PM
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