Blatant attempt to buy legislation by AT&T other corps. Reply

This is definitely a gotcha piece in my opinion.  In 2011 AT&T sought to merge/acquire T-Mobile.  Cingular/AT&T is already the largest phone carrier.  The FCC denied the merger due to anti-compete laws.  The FCC did this to ensure that AT&T couldn’t create a monopoly in the cell phone arena.  Instead of taking this FCC ruling laying down, they are now trying to purchase legislation to limit the FCC’s rule over them.  They have enlisted Representative Greg Walden, Republican of Oregon, to do their dirty work.  I say enlisted but I really mean bought him off.  Yes I said it.  They directly donated $11k to his campaign.  This is three times their average donation to any elected official. T-Mobile kicked in another 10k as they are a beneficiary here. They wanted something special from this man.

He is returning the favor.  He has submitted to congress H.R. 3309: Federal Communications Commission Process Reform Act of 2012.  This bill, if passed, would significantly reduce the power of the FCC to block anti-competitive mergers from taking place.  I’m sorry but this sounds like a cellular version of Glass-Steagall Act.  I understand that the ramifications aren’t nearly as dangerous as the repealing of Glass-Steagall, but think about the long-term effects something like this could garner.  AT&T could buy up any competition that gets in their way.  This may be a small thing, but if the competition is gone, what’s to stop them from charging whatever they want?  There is a reason for these anti-compete laws.

Let’s forget about the ramifications of AT&T being able to purchase T-Mobile for a second and focus on the REAL problem here.  Are we really ok with a company that doesn’t agree with laws just donating to a congressman’s campaign so that they can change the laws in their favor?  Is this not blatant purchase of laws.  Hell, let’s take it a step further.  It is government for sale.

Meanwhile Lobbyist Paul Unger is to be mentioned.  He has donated 10k to Mr. Walden because he represents Comcast and NCTA.  Both are donors to Walden; Comcast donated as much as $30k this election cycle.  Time Warner Communications $15k.  Do you see where I’m going here?  Everyone that has skin in this game is donating big to Representative Unger.  One might say, “they are just of the belief that Greg Walden is of similar political thought.”  If that was the case, they would have been donating him in the last election cycle.  Only AT&T was a donor of his last cycle.

He is being PAID to fight the FCC.  This will probably not pass the Senate, but I am worried that we will forget the fact that this is Pay4Play.

Newt’s Super PAC “uncoordinated” Reply

There are several different kinds of PAC’s (political action committee).  You have your connected PAC, un-connected PAC, Super PAC, and Leadership PAC’s.  They all boil down to one thing: raising and then throwing money at a particular issue or political campaign.  For the purposes of this article, I will focus on the campaign type of PAC.  In theory they are an avenue for people of like mind to support their favorite runner in a campaign.  The thought behind this is that it is a form of free speech.  “By donating my money to this Super PAC that supports (insert potential candidate here) I am voicing my support for him or her.”  Leadership PAC’s are very similar but they allow for spending on “non campaign costs” and the party or elected official can start this up themselves.  They can spend said money on traveling, paying administration staff, and setting up the party for which they fundraise.  So, a presidential runner might have a leadership pack to pay for everything not directly related to campaigning and a Super PAC that pays for all advertising.  The major difference is that they are not supposed to coordinate with their Super PAC.

Lets examine the idea of “coordination.” The Webster’s dictionary defines “coordination” as 1. the act of coordinating, 2. the harmonious functioning of parts for effective results.  So to put it in political terms.  A politician is not allowed to speak with his Super PAC to achieve a common goal of ultimately winning an election.  Let’s take that a step further.  Would showing up to a Super PAC fundraiser be coordination?  As the law is defined, it is.  Also, have you ever heard the end of a political commercial where they say something along the lines of, “PAID FOR BY WINNING OUR FUTURE, WHICH IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE CONTENTS OF THIS MESSAGE, NOT AUTHORIZED BY ANY CANDIDATE OR CANDIDATE’S COMMITTEE. WWW.WINNINGOURFUTURE.COM.” This is at the end of a commercial attacking Mitt Romney for his Bain Capitol involvement.  The committee is supporting Newt Gingrich by attacking Romney.  It is their “free speech.”  It is run by Becky Burkett and Ricky Tyler. Tyler is his former Press Secretary and Becky Burkett was his Chief Development officer for his 527 called American Solutions for Winning our Future. 527’s aren’t allowed to expressly campaign for one candidate or against another.  Weird how their names are virtually identical.  In the above picture you will see Newt with his staff.  Two feet behind him is Ricky Tyler, but they are NOT coordinating.  That would be absolutely wrong, not to say illegal.  I would never imply that Newt’s staff includes a manager of his Super PAC.  I could be held liable for slander so I will not imply that he would do such a thing.  I’m sure that Tyler just happened to walk into Newt’s staff office accidentally.  While there, he didn’t speak to Newt about where his campaign was going or what messages he was trying to get across.  They certainly didn’t discuss that they should put out more commercials attacking Mitt Romney about Bain Capitol.  Again, that would be illegal and unethical.

What am I getting at here?  Super PAC’s are simply an avenue to dump unlimited amounts of money on a campaign.  There is no way of proving coordination unless we tap their phones.  Is Newt any worse than the other candidates?  No, he is playing the game in front of him.  It’s time to change the game.  The only free speech is that coming from the candidates.  The only difference is that they can get untapped donations to voice their political agenda.  You might say, so what… It’s free speech.  Is it really?  Understand that campaign donors are being rewarded for their donations.  As these donations get bigger, so do the favors they expect in return.  Just look at what donations of $2500 to $5000 are getting donors: http://thelobbyisteffect.com/2012/02/28/earmarks-are-a-microcosm-of-how-government-works/   Casino owner Sheldon Adelson has donated untold millions towards Gingrich’s election bid.  Does anyone really think he wants nothing in return? It goes the same for all the Presidential candidates.  Our government is for sale and the price is only getting bigger.  Money is NOT speech.

94% chance that Barack Obama will win election. Reply

94% of the time, the winner of presidential, congressional, or senate elections are won by the runner who has raised the most money for their respective election bids.  This is not a piece that discusses the merit of Obama being a two-term president.  This article is to discuss the absurdity of this fact.  Do we as a nation accept this?  Is it ok that the fate of our nation’s elected officials depends on their ability to raise campaign funding?  Also, are we ok with the fact that the money being raised has become so utterly ridiculous?  Barack is pushing $140million dollars in funds raised by his campaign as of the last reporting date.  Mitt Romney looks like he is on his way to securing the GOP nomination and is coming in second in fund-raising.  Weird how that works.  The leading candidate for the GOP has raised the most within that competition?   He is pushing $64million and starting to feel comfortable with his lead.  Now, it is obvious that as GOP candidates start dropping out of the running much of the money that has yet to be raised will funnel to that candidate or candidates still remaining.  They will push higher up the ladder, but if you look at combined totals for the entire GOP race, they still don’t come close to Obama’s totals.

As a nation we are becoming more and more frustrated with the fact that corporations are controlling legislation.  Companies are now considered people.  Super PAC’s allow for unlimited fund donations.  If there is only a 6% chance that your favorite candidate has if he is not the leading fundraiser, what would compel you to vote?  Consider a guy like Buddy Roemer for a second.  Those of you who do not know who he is, you are in the majority.  He has taken the road less traveled.  He only accepts donations of $100… no more.  He will not accept Super PAC’s in his name.  He is a former Governor of Louisiana and Congressman.  His qualifications are impressive yet he got absolutely no love from the GOP.  He was running as a Republican but couldn’t get in a single debate.  I’ll let you decide if it was a “conspiracy,” or not but you should know that he was beating both Michelle Bachmann and Rick Perry while they were still in the running and they were allowed in the debates.  Are we really saying that a guy who stands against Big Money contributions isn’t even allowed in the game?

It just further alienates the voting public.  The vast majority of America does not contribute to campaigns and they, sure as hell, are not going to donate the amount of money that makes a real difference in a $140 million campaign.   If you are a supporter of Obama, this should infuriate you just as much as the guy who supports a GOP candidate.  Why?  Obama ran in 2008 campaign on the platform that he would end Lobbyist influence in government.  To date, he is the leading beneficiary of Lobbyist bundling.  This means a lobbyist comes to him with a pile of donation checks in “bundles.” You may believe in his ability to change for what you want, but you cannot agree with the idea that this is good for our country.  In no way is it helpful that lobbyists gain more control of our politicians by encouraging this type of campaign funding.

Bottom line: If you are not voting for Obama, you have less than 6% chance of being happy.  Worse yet, if several of the GOP candidates hold on to the very end, you have less of a chance that the money will be funneled into your favorite’s campaign, ie. less chance of catching Obama in funds raised.  I am NOT anti Obama, Newt, Mitt, Rick, or Paul, but I am very against the idea of vast amounts of money deciding the election.  There is no other way to look at it, our country is very much for sale.  Good luck Republic.

What if OWS had a single goal? Reply

Protests used to mean something.  We would protest Vietnam, equal rights, and equal liberties. I think that OWS peeps are onto something.  Just as our forefathering protestors before us, we have real issues at the heart of this movement.  Because these issues are not as overt as a sign outside a restroom door saying, “whites only” it doesn’t mean they aren’t extremely important.  The difference is that our government no longer has our best interests at heart.  They are far more concerned about justifying the huge donation they got from Corporation X.  They are in debt to their campaign donors.  It is dividing our country.

When Occupy Wall Street first began, I immediately thought of them as misguided.  Why? Because they are protesting the rich in general.  What good is that?  I’m not mad at my neighbor because he has more money than I do!  Just the same, I’m not mad at the stock broker on Wall Street if he is successful enough to drive a Lamborghini.  Who we should be mad at is our elected officials for allowing our country to be bought off.  Heck, they didn’t just allow it, they encouraged it.  They paved the way for eliminating the Glass-Steagall Act, increased the potency of Super PAC’s, forced lenders to lend to unworthy candidates, etc. etc.   In the never ending quest for campaign funding, they have sold our Republic’s soul.

I understand the frustrations of Occupiers, I just wish they focused their attention on the “fix.”  If OWS decided they wanted real change, they can force it.  If every occupy movement started communicating with each other, they could come up with common goals.  They all agree that money has corrupted our system, so why not take up campaign finance reform.  If they were to put together a piece of legislation and bring it to a Congressman/Senator that agrees with them, they could use their vast voting leverage to push it through congress.  They could call on media to help spread a single message and reach every single state.  The power of Twitter and Facebook is at their finger tips to help get this message across.

My message to you Occupiers: Stop talking about what is wrong, focus on a goal, coordinate your voting leverage, and try to get legislation into effect that “fixes” the issues.

The Republican Democrat Chasm spawned from Greed. Reply

A couple of years ago it was reported that Brett Favre’s presence in the Vikings locker room had created a Chasm.  There were teammates loyal to the quarterbacks who had already been there a few years, and doubted whether Brett could still lead a team.  In the end, he won over the locker room and got them to the NFC championship.  I always thought it was a strange way to use the turn chasm, but it couldn’t have been a more profound way of looking at the situation.  Two sides were divided by a belief and loyalties.

Today we are facing a grave situation.   Our political structure has become divided by political beliefs and loyalties, but there is no Brett Favre that can unite the team.  One would think that a president could pull together opposing sides and bridge that gap, but it is being reinforced.  Worse yet, the two chasms are actually being paid to be different. At least in Brett Favre’s situation, their team was paid to come together.  In our government, you have the Republicans being politically backed by large corporations that want limited government and a weak tax structure.  On the Democrat side, you have Unions and other interests that donate to enlarge government regulations and directly conflict with donors that back Republican issues.  This may seem obvious, but it is creating such a stalemate that nothing can get done.  The frustration is boiling over to a disgusting display of word twisting.  Both sides are culpable and both sides are ruining our country.

Because our media is no longer attempting to be unbiased, they are feeding the flames.  Instead of reporting facts, they are using only the facts that favors their side.  For example, Obama bashing is now become a sport on Fox News, a Republican slanted news channel.  In an attempt to create a mental link for the audience, you will often hear Obama referred to by his entire name: Barack Hussein Obama.  This is trashy news commentary trying to connect him to the decease dictator of Iraq.  It is the same on MSNBC News.  They often paint with a broad brush stroke trying to paint the entire Republican base with ignorant and racist strokes.  For example, instead of focusing on the fact that religious affiliated churches don’t want to sell birth control because it directly conflicts with their faith, they say that all Republicans want to get rid of birth-control.  It is a obsurdity, and unfair to force a Catholic Hospital to sell something that is against their faith.  What you will get is Catholic Hospitals closing up shop rather than knowingly commit a sin.  Who would that benefit?  Republicans, as a whole, have no problem with people going elsewhere for birth control.  You see where I’m going with this.

Both sides are intentionally creating a chasm.  They are trying to draw clearer and clearer lines in the sand intended to draw support from opposition and create more of a need for donations.  Obviously, companies that carry birth control are going to feel the need to support a democrat in elections if they are being convinced that Santorum will shut down or even affect their margins.  The same is happening on the other side.  A company like Haliburton or Lockheed Martin is reading that Democrats want to tax them into oblivion and reduce government spending on defense contracts.  The truth might be far from the truth, but they are hedging their bets by backing Republican candidates.  For the purposes of this article, I won’t even go into the tax loopholes, earmarks, and subsidies that they are trying to garner from both sides by donating.  Government officials are becoming very successful.  Donations to campaigns are at all time highs.  For example, the Presidential campaign is already 460% above its mark at this point in the last election.  Super PAC’s are pouring money into campaigns.  If you simply look at current GOP candidates, it is not uncommon to see an average of $460 spent per vote in close districts.

The result of this hemorrhage of money is that campaigns and media are devoid of all decency and unbiased truths.  Making comments like, “Romney wants to send little old ladies back to Mexico,” or “Obama shouldn’t apologize to Muslims for burning the Koran” are playing on stereotypes, fears, and racist beliefs.  Our country is being taught racism.  Political figureheads are playing on the fact that fear is creating a racist divide between Muslim and Christian beliefs.  Millions of Muslims are peaceful, but if we say it enough we can get a voter in South Carolina to believe that Obama is bowing to a murderous culture.

Our country still is the greatest country in the world.  Our freedoms that have been paid for in blood are something to be treasured, but greed in our government is driving rhetoric that will destroy our country and our freedoms.  American culture is becoming two different cultures and the before mentioned rhetoric is deepening and widening the great chasm.  Now more than ever, we have to get the money agenda out of Washington and clean up our Media or there will be no Republic to repair.

Understanding Oil and Gas Prices Reply

Because understanding the price in oil is a bit of a specialty of mine, I thought I might share (in the simplest of terms) why the prices are what they are.  There has been so many wild accusations and finger-pointing that I feel it is time for some rational explanations.  To quote just a few people and media comments: “Speculators are strangling America.” “Obama has no energy plan.” “A vote for Newt, is a vote for $2.50 gas.” “Drill baby Drill.” “We have to make ourselves energy independent from the middle east.”  While all of these comments have grains of truth in them, they are really founded in misconceptions about the oil markets, where we get our oil, and how much policy can even affect prices.”

Let’s start with speculation.  Speculation does drive up the price of oil, but remember it also drives down the price of oil!  Speculation is just that, speculating on demand.  This really just makes for greater swings in oil, not a simple driver to higher levels.  Here’s what I mean: Summer of 2008 we had oil hovering just under $150 a barrel.  Prices at the pump were in the $4.25-$4.50 range. People trading futures, options, and companies that represented oil were looking at problems in the middle east and possible limited supply.  That December the price of a barrel bottomed at around $32 a barrel and at the pump around $2.65 a gallon.  This right there is a very telling point.  People were not decreasing demand of oil by 4.5x.  In fact, actual supply/demand ratio didn’t fall by much, yet the price per barrel tanked.  This was a result of insane speculation.  It was a much larger swing than was warranted due to fears that our entire economy was swirling around the toilet.  This important fact is also an explanation of price gouging.  Realize the price at the pump has moved significantly less, percentage wise even though it is much cheaper for them to purchase the oil.  This is a very important realization.  The price of refinement hasn’t changed.  Only profit margins increased.  Oil per barrel is only 21.33% of what it was, yet they are able to charge 58.88% of what they used to. I assure you they were making a killing even though the price of oil was at $150, now we’ve just increased their profit margins.  The only ones losing are the people who actually take the oil out of the ground.

Let’s use the Saudi Arabians as an example.  When prices were at $150 a barrel, they were rolling in money, but they didn’t set that price.  Matter of fact, they were actually increasing supply as much as they could to take advantage of the prices.  If you speak to anyone in the know about oil, you will find out that they need prices to be $80 or more to turn a profit, so $70 above is great for them.  There are a multitude of reasons why it is dangerous to become dependent upon some of the middle east countries for their oil, but it is important to note that none of them have ever even hinted at the fact that they would decrease supply.  We are their life-line.  When I say we I am including China and all major oil consuming countries.  We get more than 20% of our oil from Canada, we are increasing our Brazil Oil connections, and have always been a large oil supplier ourselves.  So, in summation, we don’t rely too heavily on middle eastern countries for oil.  They are just a player and do everything they can to keep us happy.  They know they are not a necessity in this game, much like Coke tries to appease their vendors.  They are the biggest and the baddest, but it comes down to keeping your customers happy.

The idea that Obama has no energy plan is hilarious to me almost as much as Newt Gingrich saying he will give us $2.50 per gallon gas.  Both are ridiculous.  Obama does have a plan, and you cannot simplify it too much by saying he just wants to use “green energy.” What he has is plenty of supply, but two strong forces working against him.  Exxon Mobile is one of the largest players in the game.  They are going to sap every bit of profit out of a gallon of gas that they can.  I don’t blame them because they are beholden to their stock holders and, after all, it is a profit driven business.  Are we to assume that they should take losses so that you can drive to the grocery store on the cheap?  No, that is ludicrous.  There is the chance that companies would go out of business.  The fewer refineries, the higher prices.  You get the drift.  Not to mention, that there is no way Obama has the pull to completely rid the stock market of speculation.  Republicans are “free-market” and pro-capitalism.  Is there a chance in hell that they allow him to pass legislation limiting the amount of speculation on Oil as a whole?  For both of these reasons, Newt doesn’t have a chance of bringing gas down to $2.50 a gallon on his own.  Why?  If he proclaims “Drill baby Drill” it will only be a temporary fix.  Speculation will drive prices down because people will assume that Supply will go up… This is not the case!  They will only drill what is economically feasible.  Exxon is NOT going to drill themselves out of a profit!  As supply maintains virtually what it does already, the prices will eventually reach a norm and be subject to speculation about the next middle east squabble.

Bottom line.  Speculators, big oil companies, and politics all play their role, but the only way to get prices low and keep them low is to find an alternative forms of energy (which I know is a sin to say out loud), or the government has to get into oil production itself because it is a for profit game.