Monday, April 24, 2006

The Republican Congress -- ARGH

The Monk has previously mentioned Stalinologist Robert Conquest's three laws of politics:

1. Everyone is conservative about what he knows best.

2. Any organization not explicitly right-wing sooner or later becomes left wing.

3. The simplest way to explain the behavior of any bureaucratic organization is to assume that it is controlled by a cabal of its enemies.

Numbers 2 and 3 now apply increasingly to the Republican Congress, an institution that has drifted left and into the mental abyss since 2003. The latest travesty:
House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) are preparing to send a letter to the president Monday asking him to direct the Federal Trade Commission and Justice Department to investigate alleged price gouging and instruct the Environmental Protection Agency to issue waivers that might make it easier for oil refiners to produce adequate gasoline supplies, Hastert spokesman Ron Bonjean said.

Hastert and Frist's letter comes amid charges by some consumer groups and Democrats that oil companies have manipulated refineries and oil inventories to drive up prices. Hastert also took aim at the rich pay package for Exxon Mobil Corp.'s retired chief executive, which he called "unconscionable."

Let's look at some reality:

1. Global demand for oil has increased drastically without concurrent increases in supply in the past 5-7 years.

2. No new refinery has been constructed in the United States in three decades.

3. Congress REFUSED to extend liability protection for MBTE, a gasoline additive used in high-pollution areas, but did so for ethanol -- the results are refiners refusing to use MBTE and now refining with ethanol.

4. Ethanol supplies are stretched thinner than onion skin -- the WSJ noted this two weeks ago -- and unlikely to increase.

5. The Congress has REFUSED to open up potentially useful areas of oil exploration in the Gulf of Mexico, off the Florida coast and in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

6. Oil markets have been worried since day one of the US attack on Iraq because of the obvious potential that terrorist nutters would attack Iraq's oil supply AND because of the intermittent supply hiccups.

So where is the alleged gouging? There really isn't any by the oil companies -- the price of oil is set by the supply/demand on the world market and influenced greatly by OPEC's supply constriction policies. In other words, instead of targeting the oil companies, the Congress would be better advised to put OPEC nations under the microscope for their failure to increase supply during the massive upswing in demand -- that is, Congress is blaming American companies but giving OPEC nations (many of whom are America's enemies) a free pass.

And it doesn't get any better: Venezuela is seeking to increase the tax load it places on oil companies who are operating mineral leases in the Orinco basin AND wants to force non-Venezuelan companies to use "mixed" leases that would consist of partnerships with more than one company operating existing Venezuelan oil fields. Those partnerships would have at least 51% of the interest holders consist of VENEZUELAN-owned entities -- that is, controlled by Marxist Hugo Chavez. The alternative -- complete nationalization by Venezuela without compensation.

In the face of all these facts, the best Congress can do is blame the big corporations? That's just pure corporate bashing for petty political points -- straight out of the leftist playbook. It's disgusting that Hastert and Frist are now leading this charge.

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