Democratic viewpoints on politics, policy and activism

Gasoline Picture Looking Grim for Dog Days of Summer

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Thanks for this information goes to my friends Shuana Struby

By Matthew R. Simmons
Matthew R. Simmons is founder and currently Chairman of Simmons & Company International, an independent investment bank specializing in the entire spectrum of the energy industry.

(Note: Commentaries do not necessarily represent ASPO-USA’s positions; they are personal statements and observations by informed commentators.)

Here is a quick run down on the possible disaster we face this summer as we head into Memorial Day with the lowest beginning-of-driving-season stocks in US history. It would have been convenient had someone found out exactly what Minimum Operating Levels* really have become. I suspect we will answer this riddle this summer.

*Minimum Operating Levels of petroleum inventories are when all cushions have been used up and the system is now starting to “rob Peter to pay Paul.” At this stage, the risk of shortages starting to crop up is Red Alert. Sadly, the last serious study of where this invisible line of minimum stocks is was a NPC study done in 1988.

The reality of gasoline demand is that it will rise during July and August unless we have some roads blocked off to stem demand. Rising late-summer demand has happened almost every year, even as prices rose from $1/gallon to over $3!

To supply this market, several things have to work in unison:
1. Refineries need to crank up to over 16 million b/d instead of current 15 as they struggle to get into compliance from too little maintenance for too long.
2. Imports need to average well over 1 million b/d, and probably need to hit 1.5 million b/d, matching the all-time record set last year.
3. No hurricanes can hit the Gulf producing region.
4. Stock draws are the last plug in the dike.

From the looks of things as we view Memorial Day weekend starting in just over a week, we fail on all four counts.

The burning question is how much lower stocks can drop before shortages sweep our fragile gasoline supply system. Historically, it has been critically important that we build up gasoline stocks during the spring shoulder season (April-May) so that they can be liquidated during peak demand to prevent shortages. We seem to have run out the clock to fix the problem this summer.

I did some quick inventory numbers this morning [May 10]. At the end of February (which is the latest data we have on the location within five PAD districts) we had 116 million barrels of finished product and 99 million barrels of blending stocks (that are now far trickier to blend than when we had RFG) in inventory.

In the course of the next 10 weeks to May 4, we dropped 13.5 million barrels of finished stock and 10.3 million barrels of blending components.
But almost all of the drop probably came from Bulk Terminals as stocks at refineries are essentially works in process and stocks in pipelines and barges are steady flows.
If this is the case, bulk terminal drops were 30% for blending components and 27% for finished products.
The painful last 13 weeks ran out our USA gasoline clock. We must be right at the edge of genuine “minimum operating supplies” in at least a handful of states.
I am certainly glad I drive a diesel where the stock pool or inventory is tight but not nearly as tight as MOGAS [motor gasoline].
This could get really ugly real fast.

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Workers Memorial Day

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(I delivered this at the Oklahoma Democratic Congressional District 5 Convention on Saturday, April 28th.)

Since 1989, April 28th has been designated Workers’ Memorial Day. This date was chosen because it is the anniversary of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Every year, people in hundreds of communities and at worksites recognize workers who have been killed or injured on the job.

Last year a series of coal mine tragedies focused the nation’s attention on the dangers faced by workers. Twelve men died after an explosion at the Sago mine in West Virginia. Within a few weeks time, disasters at 8 other mines claimed additional lives. By the end of 2006, 47 coal miners lost their lives-twice as many as in 2005.

Over the last several decades, we’ve made a lot of progress in protecting workers on the job. Fatality and injury rates have fallen dramatically in many industries. But now that progress is halting and may be reversing. Last year more than 5700 workers were killed by job injuries. Another 50,000-60,000 died from occupational diseases, including more than 10,000 deaths from asbestos-related diseases. For Hispanic and immigrant workers, the situation is much worse. Workplace deaths have increased sharply, as many of these workers work in the most dangerous industries and jobs, exploited by employers with little or no protection. More than 8 million public employees still have no OSHA coverage and no legal rights or job safety protections.

Since taking office in 2001, the Bush administration as turned its back on workers and workplace safety. Siding with its corporate friends, the administration has overturned or blocked dozens of important workplace protections including OSHA’s ergonomics standards and new protections on tuberculosis, indoor air quality, reactive chemicals and cancer-causing substances to name but a few. At OSHA, voluntary compliance has been promoted over enforcement, and industry representatives have been put in charge of government safety programs, most notably at MSHA, the mine safety agency.

George Will, conservative columnist, once wrote that workers are merely a corporation’s “commodity”. Well, Mr. Will, if so, workers are a commodity that breathes and feels and bleeds and, too often, dies. They are a commodity who have families that depend on them, who produce the goods and services that you depend on, and who make up the heart and soul of this great country of ours. Corporations must make profits to be sure, but there can be no blood on our ledger books, there must be no pain because of our profits. In fact, when workplaces are truly safe, both the worker and the employer benefit. Job safety is good for business.

We must fight to make workplaces safe and make sure that the clock is not turned back so that the US becomes a low-wage economy where safety is ignored and workers are disposable.

Workers Memorial Day is a day on which we call for an end to injustices and rededicate ourselves to make our workplaces safer and our communities stronger. We call for strengthened safety laws to provide workers the protections to which they have a right. And we call for the passage of the Employee Free Choice Act, to restore workers’ rights to join a union so that they can have a real voice and be protected on the job.

Mary Harris “Mother Jones”, the great labor leader of the turn-of-the-century coal mines, called us to “Mourn for the Dead, and Fight Like Hell for the Living!” We mourn, we remember, and we will never stop fighting.

Bode's recusal is too little, too late.

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(note: I got this from my friend, John Wylie. John is a longtime Democratic activist and publisher of the Oologah Lake Leader newspaper who has covered national and international energy issues for three decades.)

Bode’s recusal is too little, too late
Commissioner’s office may already be vacant

  Corporation Commissioner Denise Bode has failed to protect Oklahomans from the fallout of her decision to run a new natural gas lobbying group and may already have forfeited her office, a leading Democratic expert on the commission said Saturday.

  “Denise Bode has recused herself from all matters involving Chesapeake Energy, but she must go further and step aside in any case involving power production. In addition, she should immediately disclose when she first started discussions about this new position-which she appears to have had a major role in creating-so that parties to recently decided cases can decide if they have grounds to challenge her impartiality,” said John Wylie, the 2004 Democratic candidate for Corporation Commissioner.

  Monday’s commission agenda shows just how serious the problem is. There are two items on the 24-hour signing agenda; one is final approval for an order in the five-year-old case involving a proposed cogeneration plant in Lawton where fuel selection has been a key issue.

  On the daily signing agenda, more than one quarter of the cases-12 out of 46-directly involve Chesapeake . Other cases may affect the company, something that cannot be determined just from an agenda listing.

  “If Denise Bode acted properly, she could not take part in half of Monday more complex cases and one-quarter of the more routine cases. Taxpayers are not getting the value of her salary, and more recusals are sure to come. She must seriously consider making her resignation effective immediately, to prevent waste of tax dollars and allow the immediate appointment of a commissioner who can carry his or her full share of the work,” Wylie said. “Bode’s limited recusal is too little, too late.”

  In fact, he noted, Bode’s office may already have become vacant under Article 9, Section 16 of the Oklahoma Constitution due to her involvement in the new organization. (Text attached).

  Bode on Friday announced that she will resign her seat effective May 31 to head a new Washington-based group, the American Clean Skies Foundation, which will promote natural gas use and engage in the political debate over global warming. Chesapeake Energy is a founding member.

A Proud Democrat from Will Rogers’ Birthplace
109 S. Maple Street; PO Box 1175 , Oologah , OK 74053-1175
918-443-2428 Fax:918-443-2429 E-Mail:


Oklahoma Constitution
  Article 9 – Corporations
  Corporation Commission
  Section Article 9 section 16 – Qualifications of commissioners
Cite as: O.S. §, __ __


§ 16. Qualifications of commissioners.
The qualifications of such commissioners shall be as follows: To be resident citizens of this State for over two years next preceding the election, and qualified voters under the Constitution and laws, and not less than thirty years of age; nor shall such commissioners, or either of them, be, directly or indirectly, interested in any railroad, street railway, traction line, canal, steam boat, pipe line, car line, sleeping car line, car association, express line, telephone or telegraph line, operated for hire, in this State, or out of it, or any stock, bond, mortgage, security, or earnings of any such railroad, street railway, traction line, canal, steam boat, pipe line, car line, sleeping car line, car association, express line, telephone or telegraph line, compress or elevator companies; and if such Commissioner shall voluntarily become so interested, his office shall become vacant; and if any Corporation Commissioner shall become so interested otherwise than voluntarily, he shall, within a reasonable time, divest himself of such interest; and failing to do this, his office shall become vacant. Nor shall any such commissioner hold any other office under the government of the United States , or of this State, or any other state government, and shall not, while such Commissioner, engage in any occupation or business inconsistent with his duties as such commissioner.
Citationizer© Summary of Documents Citing This Document

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Give 'Em Hell Harry

( – promoted by DocHoc)

Harry Truman once said, “We Democrats simply tell the truth and the Republicans think we’re giving them hell.”  Recently, another Harry has been giving them hell all over again.

Repubs have gotten their panties in a twist because Sen Harry Reid told them the truth that the war in Iraq has already been lost. As usual, they tried the old distraction game by saying his remarks showed, “Disrespect for the troops.”

Well, Chuckles, the troops did not lose this war. You did and the little toy soldier you helped put in the White House managed to snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory. Our brave men and women did all that we could ask of them and more in Iraq. They still are. However, W and you boneheads forgot the lessons of history which say, “Don’t over stay your welcome.”  No Army can occupy a nation for very long without that nation’s explicit consent.  The British couldn’t do it in the colonies. The French couldn’t do it in Vietnam.  Russia couldn’t do it in Afghanistan. 

You lost this war, and the sooner you face up to that fact, the sooner our national shame can end.

On Being a Politician

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(Note: My church, Mayflower Congregational, is using the NPR series, “This I Believe” for our Lenten Study Series.  Rev. Meyers has encouraged the participants to write out an essay of 500 words or less that expresses a belief we hold. Though I have been unable to make any of the Wednesday night studies, I have written an essay. Here it is:)

Why I am a Politician

I eagerly await the day that researchers involved in the Human Genome Project announce that they have discovered the “Political Gene.”  I can think of no other reason why some of us become so politically involved. I am one of those whose political gene is dominant.

My political tendencies manifested themselves very early. In 1960, I had my classmates in the 3rd grade vote on which of my two best friends would be my “very bestest friend”.  Since I personally favored one over the other, and I knew my parents favored Nixon over Kennedy, I ran one as a Republican and the other as a Democrat. Thus I not only took part in my first campaign, but my first “push poll” as well.

It is easy to become cynical about politics in our time. In fact, that has long been the case.  Aesop is supposed to have said, “We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office.” My childhood faith in politics and politicians has gone through many tests.  For example, my first campaign in Oklahoma, was to elect David Boren as governor. Later I watched him as a US Senator vote to confirm Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court, an action that Boren later said he, too, regretted.

Politics is like that: glorious one moment, appalling the next, very much like humanity as a whole.  Politics is, after all, a human enterprise; therefore, we should not be surprised that it displays all of the generosity and compassion humans are capable of showing as well as the cupidity and cruelty endemic to our species. The same body politic capable of creating Social Security and Civil Rights legislation can also reward corporate greed and deny some Americans their rights because of their sexual orientation.

So why do folks like me, and many of you, keep at it year after year, election after election? I believe it comes down to our faith in the possibility of justice, the only true purpose for any society.  After all, any political decisions from the school board to the federal government must be examined in the light of whether or not the choice enlarges the realm of justice. We should always ask this question, “Will or will not this action allow more of our citizens to enjoy their right to dignity?” For human dignity is the true measure of a just society. I also believe that, despite setbacks, defeats and occasional reversals, we are making progress towards securing justice for all. The task, of course, is far from finished. What justice we have achieved happened because a body of people, usually an elected body, had the courage to do a just political act.  Because I believe in justice, I must to be political. Therefore, I am proud to say that I am a politician

Intra-Party Politics

( – promoted by DocHoc)

We, the members of the Oklahoma Democratic Party, are about to enter a time of “Intra-party” politics. We will be meeting in precinct caucuses and then in county, district, and finally state conventions. We are deciding who will lead us during the crucial election we face in 2008. We will be asked to make many decisions and have in front of us many choices, few of them easy. No where in our society, except perhaps in sports, is it more impossible to create “win-win” situations than in politics. Elections mean someone wins and someone loses, if there are at least two people who want the same position. The fact that these elections pit Democrat against Democrat means that we will have friends, colleagues, even allies asking, often demanding our vote.

Yet we recognize that we need a united party in order to succeed, so what do we do? We remember first and foremost why we are Democrats. We have all seen the slogan posted on various signs and bumper stickers: “Democrats Care.” I wish I could amend that to read “Democrats Care: About More than Number 1”. Probably wouldn’t make for good advertising, but to my mind that’s why I’m a Democrat. I want a world where we truly realize “justice for ALL.” And if my political ideals go beyond individual comforts, then my political commitment must go further than my personal ambition.

Personal ambition is good and necessary if we are to have a vital party. I am running for an office in my county because I truly believe I can do it better than those who are also running for the office can. (We will see what the delegates have to say.) But I do not believe that winning the election is a personal endorsement or losing it a personal rejection. It is an opportunity for service, a means to advance the cause of justice.

So if my Democratic friend decides to support me, great; I hope a majority of them do so. But if not, she is still my Democratic friend, and we will work together for this party we love. For me to feel rejected or, worse, to drop out of active participation in my party would make a lie of everything I feel makes me a Democrat.
I wish you the best of fortune as you help to guide your portion of the party through this often difficult time. May we recognize that we Democrats care about more than 1 in regards to our party as well as our country.

Lynn Green
OK County Secretary
Candidate for OK County Chair

Rep. Hamilton Introduces Bill to Target Darfur Genocide

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OKLAHOMA CITY – State government would be prevented from indirectly funding the genocide in Darfur under legislation filed by state Rep. Rebecca Hamilton.

House Bill 1900, by Hamilton and state Sen. Constance Johnson (D-Oklahoma City), would not allow companies doing business with the Darfur region of western Sudan to receive state contracts “for so long as genocide continues within that region.”

“I don’t believe that the people of Oklahoma should have their tax dollars used to indirectly subsidize a war on unarmed civilians by a modern army that engages in slavery, mass rape and genocide,” said Hamilton, D-Oklahoma City. “These are crimes against all humanity and the government that commits them is supported and funded, at least in part, by businesses who underwrite them with their commerce. Oklahomans might not be able to directly intervene, but we can say no to letting our money be used to aid those who aid the murderers.”

According to Amnesty International, hundreds of thousands of people have lost their lives in Darfur since February 2003. The Sudanese government and government-backed Janjawid militia are accused of committing systematic human rights abuses including killing, torture, rape, looting and destruction of property.

“This genocide is one of the most egregious examples of crimes against humanity in the world today,” Hamilton said. “It involves full-scale war on unarmed civilians who are rounded up; put in camps; systematically starved, raped, beaten; sold into slavery and murdered. The genocide involves every evil that people perpetrate against one another, all in one spot.

“Unfortunately, the international community’s reaction to this horror has been limited to self-righteous hand-wringing. The release of the Microsoft’s latest operating system for personal computers has received more attention than we have given to the systematic murder of millions of innocent men, women and children in Darfur. It’s time we begin forcing those who perpetuate genocide to pay a price. House Bill 1900 is a small step in that direction.”

On another note, John Bates, a member of Mayflower Congregational Church, noted money he had saved working for Wal-Mart, “redeemed” the money in his words, to relief effort for Darfur.  His donation totaled nearly $14,000.