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11:08 pm EST        55°F (13°C) in Mount Vernon, IL

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You know that feeling you get when it dawns on you that you have forgotten things that you should have remembered? That’s what I have right now, because there are at least two other major news items I wanted to comment on yesterday, but never did.

First, a true icon of American history has passed away. Rosa Parks died last Monday at the age of 92 in the Detroit home she had owned since 1957. She had been not only a powerful symbol of the civil rights movement, but also an icon of Detroit from spending the final 48 years of her life in the city. The city renamed 12th Street from Jefferson Avenue almost out to the Davison Freeway in Parks’ honor years ago, and she had been honored by several Detroit mayors in various ceremonies. Sometimes the simplest acts of civil disobedience against oppressive laws or regimes are all it takes to start a mass movement for full freedom and equality, and although she disliked the spotlight, Parks will be forever remembered for her courageous stand against racial discrimination in Montgomery, AL, city buses.

This second item merely proves that I was right on August 16 when I talked about the obvious collusion between oil companies and the Dumbya mis-administration. ExxonMobil reported last Thursday that it had made a $9.9 billion profit for the third quarter of 2005, eclipsing its previous record quarterly profit — $7.6 billion in the second quarter of 2005 — by at least 35%. I have heard a statistic that ExxonMobil’s latest quarterly profit exceeds the annual GDP of more than half of the nations on earth — so why the hell is Dumbya throwing even more money to them in the form of subsidies?

Oh, and in case it’s not obvious where the additional $2.3 billion between the second and third quarters came from, I have two words for you to think about: “Katrina” and “gouging.” Just as I predicted, the oil companies used Katrina as an opportunity to squeeze even more money out of Americans’ pockets, at least until people started complaining and talk of a “windfall profits tax” started coming up in Congress. Notice how the prices have been plummeting in the last couple weeks? That was their diversionary tactic to mollify just enough people into ignoring their quarterly profit numbers.

The oil industry must be regulated, and it must be regulated now. Ordinarily, I would call myself a laissez-faire capitalist who doesn’t believe that government has much, if any, appropriate role in regulating the activities of business — but what the oil industry has been doing to the American people is, quite frankly, a crime. The oil industry is the one industry upon which every other sector of the economy depends, and as a result, we are getting raped not only when we fill up at the pump, but also when we have to pay the higher shipping costs that get rolled into the price of everything we buy.

When my fellow truck drivers are paying $3 per gallon or more for diesel fuel that cost $1.60 per gallon or so before last year’s election, a lot of them are forced out of business because they lack the rate-negotiating clout to get higher fuel surcharges from shippers — the shippers will say “fuck you” and go find the guy who will haul it the cheapest. Usually this is a large fleet that can use its size to negotiate considerable discounts off the pump price, and in the end, the result is a handful of large companies holding an effective oligopoly over the trucking industry while hard-working owner-operators sit on the unemployment lines.

I hold that what the oil companies are doing — increasing profits 35% or more while at the same time doubling the price of gasoline — is a crime. You’ll hear oil executives bitch about how “a bunch of liberal weenie enviro-nuts” won’t allow the construction of any more refineries, but that is pure 100% bullshit: it is in the best interest of the oil companies to refuse to build refineries, because refusing to build refineries means they can keep artificial constraints on the supply of gasoline and therefore charge artificially high prices. When there are only six or seven major oil companies, it is very easy for them to act as an oligopoly (a small number of “elite” large companies acting in concert to control an industry) and collude to raise prices, knowing that demand for their product is inelastic (it doesn’t change as a linear function of supply). I thought we had a Sherman Antitrust Act, but we know that the Dumbya mis-administration can’t be bothered with this little thing called the law … I mean, he and Mr. “Go Fuck Yourself” have to line their pockets.

It is high time to pass legislation requiring the oil companies to put their gigantic profits into additional refining capacity so as to eliminate the supposed “bottleneck” the oil executives blame on progressives. In fact, I might go even further than that and require any oil company doing any business in the United States to operate as a non-profit corporation: that is to say, every penny they make at the pump must go back into research and development, additional refinery capacity, and other similar improvements, instead of lining the pockets of executives, investors, and the resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington.

Finally, the Detroit Lions blew it yet again earlier this afternoon, losing 19-13 in overtime to the Chicago Bears. My friend Marc and I were talking last night, and being the sports history buff I am, I mentioned that the Lions have not won an NFL championship since 1957, a full decade before the beginning of the Super Bowl era. We then proceeded to go through all 32 current NFL teams to figure out how many of them have ever been to a Super Bowl; I decided that we should leave out expansion teams from the last 10 years, which removed the Jacksonville Jaguars, the new Cleveland Browns, and the Houston Texans from consideration. (The Carolina Panthers were also added in the last 10 years, but have been to a Super Bowl, so leaving them out would have been a moot point.)

Anyway, out of the 28 teams that comprised the NFL prior to its recent expansions, all but four of them have been to at least one Super Bowl: the unlucky four are the Arizona Cardinals, the New Orleans Saints, the Seattle Seahawks (who haven’t even been around for the whole Super Bowl era, having entered the league in 1977), and — you guessed it — the Lions. Only two of those four (the Lions and the Cardinals) even existed prior to the Saints’ 1965 entry into the NFL, so the Lions are therefore one of the two suckiest teams in the league. (The Cardinals have the only NFL title drought longer than that of the Lions; they last won a championship as the Chicago Cardinals in 1948, if memory serves.)

The rumor mill keeps coming up with a story that Saints owner Tom Benson is going to use Hurricane Katrina as an excuse to move the franchise out of New Orleans, probably to a city like San Antonio or Los Angeles that seems to desperately want a football team. I have a better idea: they can have the Lions.