It’s about oil

With gasoline prices pushing toward $2 a gallon, people are fuming mad over oil company greed. Exxon Mobil raked in an enormous $21.5 billion in profits last year. Shell reported $12.7 billion. And Chevron Texaco reported $7.2 billion, six times higher than its 2002 profits.

The Bush administration, awash with former oil executives, is known as the oil industry’s best friend. The feelings are mutual. Chevron named a tanker after their favorite corporate director, Condoleezza Rice.

The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear Cheney v. U.S. District Court this month. The Bush administration is appealing a lower court ruling that Cheney divulge the names of the members of his Energy Policy Task Force and the records of its secret meetings.

Writing in the San Francisco Chronicle, Larry Everest, author of “Oil, Power & Empire: Iraq and the U.S. Global Agenda,” says Bush and Cheney want to keep the proceedings of this task force secret because it would expose the real motives for their war on Iraq – namely, to seize control of Iraq’s 140 billion barrels of oil.

Already, Judicial Watch has released documents revealing the task force’s closed-door scheming. A March 2001 document titled “Foreign Suitors for Iraqi Oilfield Contracts” describes the alarm in Bush-Cheney circles that Russia and France were poised to complete contracts for 70 billion barrels of Iraqi crude. The U.S. invasion of Iraq smashed those deals.

The connivance and cronyism continue. Executives of Exxon Mobil, Chevron Texaco, Halliburton, and others met a year ago with Cheney’s staff “to plan the revival of Iraq’s oil industry.” Keeping these oily connections secret was undoubtedly the motive when Cheney invited Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia to go duck hunting.

No wonder parents of soldiers dying in Iraq are carrying picket signs that proclaim, “My child’s life is not worth a drop of Iraqi oil.” And the soaring cost of gasoline at the pump proves that only the oil companies and their cronies in the White House have gained from oil imperialism and this atrocious war.

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Bad news in the Bay State

While the author of the Massachusetts Constitution, John Adams, may not have foreseen a constitutional debate on same-sex marriage, the idea of enshrining in the “oldest still-governing written constitution in the world” anti-democratic and discriminatory language would make him turn over in his grave. But that’s what the State Legislature did this week when it voted 105-92 for a proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. Amending the constitution will require a second legislative vote and then be put to the voters. The earliest this could be done is 2006.

The Legislature’s move seeks to undermine the state’s high court ruling that only full marriage rights for gay couples, not civil unions, would conform to the state’s constitution. The vote does not affect the court’s order to begin recognizing same-sex marriages on May 17.

While civil unions guarantee important protections, they fall short of full equality. Sen. Marian Walsh put it well when she said, “A gay individual is owed the promise of hope in America equally and fully because that is our compact.”

Or Rep. Benjamin Swan when he said, “Let us think of the Constitution as a living document that expands rights and responsibilities. I can hear John Adams asking how we should expand the rights of the people. Let us not restrict freedoms … Some have said this is not a civil rights issue, but it is. It is not the Black civil rights movement of the 1960s, but this is about rights.”

Some people may say this issue is a “diversion” from the “real” issues facing the Dump Bush movement. But aren’t civil rights a “real” issue? And there has to be a fighting stance in response to the ultra-right elements who will try to make this as a “wedge” issue. Stand up for equality – for life, love, and happiness.