Buckle up the Fiscal Cliff is guaranteed. Reply

I’m so proud that Patty Murray, House Democrat, and Maria Cantwell, Senate Democrat, are from Washington state.  Both have made comments this week stating that we would be better off going over the “fiscal cliff.” This kind of thinking is what made this country great.  We should never compromise with the “other” party.  Instead of compromise we should self-inflict credit down-grades, and avoid balancing a budget until we get sufficient leverage over the other party.  Why pay our bills anyway?  We’re America.  People will always buy our debt; where else are they going to go… Japan?  Hell the people who vote our Congress, President, and Senate in will only suffer a little bit from their unwillingness to do the job.  I mean, why solve such an important issue?  They can always go on vacation and push it further out.  It’s not as if, voters pay their salary. Oh wait.  If you can sift through the massive amount of sarcasm, follow me.

Let me be clear, it is NOT the point of this piece of this article to put down Democrats.  These two ladies have been the only law-makers that have made comments implying that it would be beneficial to jump off said cliff.  We all know that both sides are equally stubborn.  If you have ever had a question about where the House and Senate’s loyalties lie, this should make it VERY clear.  Instead of tirelessly working on a Grand Bargain that can lead to avoiding this problem, they are holding strong to their donors’ wishes.  This has nothing to do with voters.  If it did, they would get this solved.  Instead special interests, lobbyists, and large donors have their loyalties.  No one is willing to bend for fear that they will not have the flood of donations after all is said and done.  Bottom line, all they care about is being re-elected.  This fact looms largest: 94% of the time the winner of an election is the candidate that raised the most campaign money.  So in essence they know they will win yours/my vote if they spend enough money on the campaign.  The only way to do so is to keep their campaign donors, lobbyists, and special interests happy.

 

 

Natural Gas exhonerates Speculators! 1

Ok, I have conversed with many via twitter that think speculators are the devil.  While I agree, as a speculator, that they are a part of the problem, I disagree that they drive price.  Instead, speculators only carry the momentum that is already pushed upon it by outside factors.  I am excited to point out the latest example of speculators being neutral when it comes to price.  Natural Gas is a commodity that is played just like oil.  There are a hundred different ways to play this commodity, but the most important point is that it is at multi-year lows.  Has demand gone down? No, but supply has gone up.  Due to fracking (no comment on the legitimacy of this process here) they are finding it under every rock in the U.S.  I exaggerate this on purpose.  Because the notion that it is everywhere is speculation.  Speculators are getting out of the trade because of an assumed over-supply.  They are correct!  This lowers the price to unheard of levels.  It is almost a 1/3 the price is was in 2010.  Where are the Senators now?  Why aren’t they out congratulating us?..  Hypocrites!

The major difference between Natural Gas and Gas at the pumps is that there are more factors for gas at the pump.  When it comes to gas, we are far more subject to feuding countries that supply it, and profit lines of major refiners here in the U.S.  Remember that it is Oil that is speculated, not the price of gas at the pump.  Big oil companies are profiting huge on the difference between the price of oil per barrel and what they can get at the pump.  Here is what I mean: Last April price of light sweet crude was $125 per barrel and oil companies were still able to make a good profit at $3.25 per gallon.  Now that oil is only $103 per barrel, they are able to charge over $4.10 at the pumps.  This isn’t speculation, but profit.

The GOP Conspiracy 1

Before I begin, I must be very clear that I am not a conspiracy theorist kind of guy nor an anti-Republican!  Therefore, it is an internal struggle to put this out there, but after several months of introspection I feel it is time.  The Republican Party seems to have conspired to keep Buddy Roemer out of the race for president.  He would never come out and say it because it opens him up for an all out attack from the party.  He would then have an even smaller chance to win an election.

What are the facts?

Buddy Roemer has all the experience you would want for a commander-in-chief.  At Harvard, he earned a BS in Economics and later an MBA in Finance.  From 1981 to 1988 he served as a Congressman.  From 1988 to 1992 he served as Louisiana’s Governor.  While there he cut the unemployment rate in half, reformed their campaign finance laws, and balanced the state’s budget.  I don’t mention this to get readers to vote for him, but to show how qualified he is to have been a candidate.  The problem isn’t what he has done, it is what he hasn’t: He has never accepted Super PAC, or special interest money.  Matter of fact, this has been his platform to get elected.  The fact that he doesn’t accept this money makes him an enemy of the state, if you will.

Imagine running Buddy out there when his platform of campaign finance reform and getting SuperPAC’s out of politics could make your party look bad, as a whole.  Fox News network, a GOP slanted news network, hasn’t even hinted that Buddy Roemer exists.  He was left out of all debates.  Why you might ask?  At first they told him he wouldn’t be allowed in the debates until he officially signed on as a candidate.  That makes perfect sense until you realize that several others hadn’t that they allowed in debates.  So, Buddy officially announces his running.  Then they told him that he had to have at least 2% of the votes of a given state to qualify.  Again, you might think that this is a fair request.  We cannot have everybody and their brother in a debate, but you have to know that when they required this from Buddy, John Huntsman, Michelle Bachmann, and Rick Perry didn’t have 2% yet they were invited into these debates.  Despite the hypocrisy of the situation, Buddy attained the 2%.  Then they said he had to have 5% of the votes.  At this time only Perry and Bachmann didn’t have the 4% but they were allowed in the debates.  Matter of fact, Buddy was ahead of both of them in the polls.  You still saw no mention of his existence on Fox News and he wasn’t allowed into the debates.  Buddy Roemer was working hard to get the 4%, and then they dropped the bomb.  They told him that he had to have a minimum amount of money raised for his campaign to get in the debates that was far beyond what he had raised to that point.  This, they knew, went directly against his platform.  He will not accept more than $100 per campaign donation.

As a result, Buddy Roemer has dropped out of the GOP race and decided to run as an Independent via the American’s Elect process.  Although I’m voting for Governor Roemer and love his platform of Campaign Finance Reform, this is not my point.  I hate the fact that politics has come to this.  Republicans snubbed one of their own because he was a threat to their pocket-book.  Democrats would have done the same thing if the situation was reversed.  It is a bi-partisan problem.  They will do anything they can to “keep the money in.”  This is why we, as a Republic, have to fight our own apathy and do something about it.  We have to support someone like Buddy.  Even if you don’t plan on voting for him, you should want a man like him in upcoming presidential debates.  His take on money in government shouldn’t be silenced or big corporations will continue to own our democracy.  We have to get the money out, and supporting people like Buddy is a way of going about it.

 

 

 

Profit, not speculation, driving gas prices! Reply

One year ago Crude oil was $120 per barrel and never broke $3.25 at the pump. Currently, Crude Oil is resting at $102 per barrel and the average price at the pump is over $4.00.  Therefore, since April 2011, oil companies are saving $20 a barrel while gas prices have risen 23%. This equals a profit increase of 40%.  Real demand has been very steady, so we have to assume that prices are merely profit based.

Several Senators and Congressmen and women have come out to attack “rampid speculation.” Senator Bernie Sanders has gained popularity just for his stance against Wall Street on this issue.  Sanders is sponsoring the End Excessive Oil Speculation Now Act.  Now I don’t see any problem with this idea, but they are so far off the point here.  It is like Papa Bear getting mad at Mamma Bear because Goldilocks ate Baby Bear’s breakfast.

Speculation does have a piece of the blame here, but it is minute compared to the almighty profit of big oil companies.  Also, speculation drives the price down just as much as it drives the price up.  The major fault with speculation is that it swings the prices more dramatically than it would otherwise be.  For example, at the end of 2008 we thought the financial world was collapsing.  Because everything in speculation is anticipation, speculators figured that demand would diminish further than it actually had.  This assumption led to the price of oil to fall to $32 a barrel.  In actuality, it had dropped, but only minimally in the grand scheme of things.  Within a year, prices had gotten back to $80 a barrel.  At that price, everyone was pretty happy.  You see, $80 is the breaking point for big oil companies to make money.  They were returning to big profits and we were still under $3.00 per gallon at the pump… a far cry from being over the $4.00 we were seeing in the summer of 2008.

Exxon Mobile, a company I love, makes 17 billion dollars a year before taxes.  Knowing that they are losing money in Natural Gas, where do you think they are getting record profits?

 

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.

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.

Aderholt and earmarks Reply

It was announced that Republican Congressman Robert Aderholt is endorsing Rick Santorum today.  Great for Santorum, I guess.  Aderholt has been pretty popular among his constituents in Alabama.  The irony is that he doesn’t seem to be anywhere near Santorum in his voting record of small government.  If earmarks are any kind of sign, Aderholt has no problem spending money.  In one year he sponsored well over $80 million dollars.  Much of this money went directly to campaign donors.  Following is a list of some of the donors that got their very own earmarks:

  1. $6mil earmark to Victory Solutions.
  2. QinetiQ North America rewarded w/ a $3.2mil earmark.
  3. Miltec Corp a $3.2mil earmark.
  4. Peopletec Inc.  3.2mil earmark.
  5. J2 Technologies $3mil in earmarks.
  6. SUMMA Technology  was the recipient of a $2.4mil earmark.
  7. Intergraph Corp. got a $2.32mil earmark.
  8. Advanced Optical Systems: $1.2million earmark.
  9. ATK Missions Systems: $7.8 million earmark via their parent company Honeywell International
  10. Haxcel Corp.: $3.2 million earmark

**Please note that some these donated through lobbyists and PAC’s.

Where do we draw the line?  How do we justify rewarding campaign donors w/ earmarks, legislation, or tax subsidies?  If it isn’t Quid Pro Quo then it shouldn’t look like it.  Do NOT accept money from someone you think deserves an earmark.  It’s as simple as that.  Then we, Joe Public, aren’t left wondering.

 

Do we need campaign finance reform? Reply

Today’s government has become incredibly dependent upon money.  It is as simple as that.  Forget, for a moment, the idea of corruption, and move onto the fact that politicians didn’t become politicians to raise money.  Despite this fact, members of the House and Senate spend between 30-70% of their time fund-raising.  This is not an exaggeration.  There is constant pressure to raise money.  If not for their own election, they are expected to do so on behalf of their respective party.  It is outrageous the time spent, and the money they are continually asked to conjure up.

Now, knowing that politicians are constantly raising money, we have to wonder what effect this has on their work.  Corporations and Lobbyists are always looking for an in.  What do I mean by this?  They are looking to survive financially, and who could blame them.  If a House Representative is looking for campaign money and they call you, you have to answer.  You WILL find the money they are asking and you WILL show up to the fundraiser they ask you to attend.  It is in your best interests to do so.  That Representative will eventually vote on something that you want their ear on.  You might even have an earmark in mind, you will need them to sponsor.  It is not Quid Pro Quo, necessarily, but you have to remain in good graces in order to get your idea looked at.  If you have developed that relationship and always backed them financially, you have a much better chance of them working in your favor.

What is wrong with this?  Quite simply, you get a system where a Representative or Senator is working for lobbyists and Corporate dollars instead of the voters that put them in office.  Who is going to get their Senator on the phone first: a lobbyist that has continually been at fundraisers with a bundle of checks from donors, or a voter in their district with a question about campaign finance reform.  The answer is obvious, but not acceptable.  This is not the system intended by our forefathers.