My Ideal President… Reply

We are headed towards a presidential election that will absolutely polarize the U.S.  You could not find two candidates that represent two more opposite sides of the spectrum.  You have President Barack Obama that is very much a liberal.  I do not use liberal as a derogative term here, but there is a very clear distinction in his politics.  He is on the side of larger government, higher taxes, and distribution of wealth.  Mitt Romney, on the other hand, is making a point to say that he will get rid of as much financial regulation as possible.  He is also proposing lowering taxes.  This is a very right-wing stance.

Now, what they say and what they do are two totally separate things.  I don’t know that Obama will really try to raise capital gains to 45% or if this is simply negotiation tactics to raise taxes in another way.  I don’t know that Romney will really try to repeal all bank regulations or if this is something he is saying to encourage money from wall street into his campaign coffers.

I wish there was a middle ground.  I wish that there was a candidate that said, “government is getting too big, but we need to avoid another financial meltdown in the future so I am going to bring back Glass-Steagall.  I understand that the unemployment numbers are absurd, and it isn’t all because of Bush and Europe.  I will do everything possible to encourage small business and never raise capital gains taxes.  Health insurance is essential to have for all Americans.  I will offer a public option that competes with the rest of the industry, but will not be required.  People can opt in, if you will.”

We are a strong country.  We can be both fiscally and socially responsible!  We need a candidate that will change campaign finance so that we can feel comfortable knowing our elected officials are working for us and not their campaign donors.  We need candidates that are more worried about their constituents than they are the “party.” You can argue yourself to death about the validity of a two-party system.  Whether it is healthy or not for our country, it shouldn’t be as important as the voters.  As of right now, it is.

Oh ya, and Wall Street is NOT the enemy.  We need to recognize that there were mistakes made that we can eliminate in the future and move on.  Demonizing people who make money helps no one.  We have to admit our own mistakes that brought upon the mortgage crisis/recession.  People knew and or should have known the mortgages they were taking out were bad ideas.  Blaming the banks is very much hypocritical.  When I purchased my house, my mortgage broker pushed a 1yr Arm on me.  Guess what, I said NO.  We all had that chance.

Shame on U.S. Reply

As we close in on Memorial day, my mind drifts to images to two soldiers dug into a fox hole sharing a lucky strike.  One has a bit of a Bronxified Italian accent, the other has a the diction of a news reporter.  They talk about the girls from back home they want to take to a drive-in picture show.  For the moment there doesn’t seem to be any immediate danger of a Nazi soldier sneaking up on them even though you can hear the shells landing in the not-too-far-off distance.  Later the conversation drifts to the Yankees and Joe DiMaggio.  Neither one of them are old enough to buy a beer, but both enjoy another cigarette.

Almost every ten years we go to war.  Men and women die; we remain free.  I don’t mean free as in, I’m not an in shackles free, but something much more than just that.  I can wake up on Sunday and go to any kind of church I want.  At the beginning of the work week, I can mop floors or study at the university of my choice.  If I feel disenchanted with the government, I can voice my opinion at the top of my lungs, and go out to vote.  I can blog about it, update my Facebook status, or shoot out a tweet.  Bottom line, as long as I am not stepping on someone else’s rights, I can do just about any damn thing I like.

These freedoms have been paid for with blood, someones son, daughter, husband, wife, grandson, lover, etc. There are no words to explain the gratitude, just an understanding of what it has taken to get here.  The problem is that we are not holding up our end of the bargain.  Soldiers have died on our behalf to uphold our freedoms and we are allowing a failing government to ruin what our forefathers intended us.  Our nation has become bought and sold.  Our lawmakers campaign and fundraise the vast majority of their political lives.  While in office they fight for the people who put them there, their campaign donors.

Our veterans and those that we have lost did not fight to protect the corporatocracy of USA, they are fighting for the U.S.A. and our democratic values we are slowly, but surely, losing.  We owe it to them to research the people we vote for.  A thirty-second commercial does nothing to tell you about a candidate.  Look up their voting record.  Write a letter to your local congressman or woman about the stupidity of campaign finance and existence of Super PACs.  Do something to hold up our end of the deal we made with our sons, daughters, husbands, and mothers that fight for our rights!

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.

 

 

 

Apathy vs. misdirection: Winner kills the Republic 1

Misdirection is a form of deception in which the attention of an audience is focused on one thing in order to distract its attention from another.  Apathy is a lack of enthusiasm or energy, lack of interest in anything, or the absence of any wish to do anything.

You have political ADD, prove me wrong and read the entire article.

I was watching a GOP debate in Florida a few months back.  Newt Gingrich had been taking heat from Mitt Romney because of his payments from Freddie Mac for his “historian” expertise.  Mitt was calling him out as an unregistered lobbyist without using the words.  Being that they were in Florida made it extremely poignant because of their high foreclosure rate.  Many people in the audience and in the state are/were profoundly affected by the economic crisis and inclined to hate big banks such as Freddie Mac.  Newt, came prepared, so he thought.  He attacked back.  Gingrich said Romney had personal holdings in “a part of Goldman Sachs that was explicitly foreclosing on Floridians.” He did; it’s called a blind trust. A blind trust is  a trust managed by third-party: a legal arrangement in which a trustee manages funds for the benefit of somebody who has no knowledge of the specific management actions taken by the trustee.  Assuming Newt had done his homework, he already knew this.

Why do I even point this out? It is a game of misdirection.  Government officials of all types are pointing out flaws on the other side to distract us from the big picture.  Democrats are turning the Treyvon Martin shooting into a political debate.  It shouldn’t be a debate of Republican versus Democrat.  It should simply be about convicting a murderer.  Republicans are doing everything in their power to bring down “Obama Care.”  They have turned it into a life-style choice.  Instead of the benefits of this program, they are looking at the fact that traditional medicare generally covers some sort of birth control.  “Why should I have to pay for this person’s sex-life?”  It shouldn’t be a question about paying for a sex-life, but instead about the logistics of paying for a nationwide health plan.  Debate that to death instead of trying to distract us from real issues like the fact that millions are without.  They have a very good argument when it comes to funding it, why not stick to that?  It’s not sexy enough!  They have to have multiple bullets in their distraction roulette game in the hope that one of them will hit their mark.  Democrats have, in turn, turned the Republican raised issue about paying for someone elses birth control with tax money into a “war on women.”  It is a beautiful spin making Republicans look rather sexist.  No matter how you look at it, it is a spin game.  Everything is to distract us from issues they don’t want in the headlines.

The issue that neither Republicans or Democrats want to focus on is campaign finance reform.  What?  You might say that is a huge leap.  You’re right, but hear me out for a moment.  Nothing in government is left untouched by the almighty dollar.  It is campaign dollars that push, manipulate, stall, and even write legislation.  The amount of money it takes to win an election these days is crazy, and it is getting crazier!  To keep their jobs, and their standing within their respective political parties is pushing politicians to continually fundraise.  Literally, they spend 30-60% of their time trying to put money in the war chest.  If you think that campaign donors expect nothing for their money, you are sadly mistaken.  Just looking at earmarks, there are hundreds of examples where donors are getting earmarks.  Matter of fact, I find it hard to find where an earmark didn’t benefit a campaign donor, or someone who spent millions lobbying and the lobbyist contributed to an earmarks sponsor.

If you think it is just earmarks just look at Greg Walden, Republican Congressman, who just introduced the Federal Communications Commission Process Reform Act of 2012.  This act would significantly reduce the FCC’s ability to govern big media companies.  He receives hundreds of thousands of dollars from the very media companies that would benefit from this legislation.

Here is where the apathy comes in.  Your eyes have probably rolled back into your head and I’ve lost your attention.  I was talking to a buddy of mine about this stuff the other day and he said, “that’s just business as usual.”  It killed me! It is only business as usual because we allow it to happen.  We allow them to distract us with topics unrelated to their pay for play government.  We didn’t do this, but it is our job to collectively stand up and say no.  It isn’t ok to sell legislation to your biggest campaign donors.  We need to take our ADD medicine and stay on point.  We need campaign finance reform more importantly than any thing else.  Once real reform is done, we can focus on other important issues.  That way they are not tainted with corporate dollars.

 

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.

How to restore our Republic Reply

I understand the concept of limited government, and in many cases agree.  There is such a thing as too much of a good thing.  Since, Citizens United (PAC) v. FEC in ’10 allowing Corp.’s the same rights as individuals in donating, election spending is up 460%.  This was considered a “win” for freedom of Speech and limited government conservative republicans.  Unfortunately, there are unintended consequences for this freedom.  We can now voice our free speech by spending unlimited amounts of money on behalf of the government officials of our liking.  Great thing huh?  Constitutionalists feel that this is adhering closely to our forefathers intentions, but this is absolutely not the case.

Our forefathers saw this coming and tried to write into the constitution checks and balances to combat this.  In early United States history they saw it could be a problem for foreign ambassadors accepting gifts from foreign countries:  “no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.”  Bottom line, they were worried that these men would become corrupted.  They couldn’t foresee the possibility of Super PAC’s being established, or that contributions from campaign donors would someday purchase legislation.  I guarantee that they would never consider money as free speech.

8 of 10 congressman & senators have given earmarks directly to campaign donors.  That’s just earmarks.  Think of all the legislation that is put into law that is tailored specifically for a donor, or the tax loopholes that are insisted upon on behalf of a campaign donor.  Lobbyists are not allowed to take congressmen to dinner, unless they bring donor checks and call it a campaign fundraising.  Why would we make it law that they cannot take them out to dinner if we didn’t realize there is a corrupting influence there.  Because money is involved, we allow them to get around the rule.  Thinking rationally, it become obvious who makes the laws.  It is almost as if they are stating, “you can’t take me to dinner… unless you bring me a whole bunch of money.  Otherwise it would be unethical.”

Proposal to fix the before mentioned problems:

  1. Limit campaign contributions to $250 annually.
  2. Eliminate all middle man donations.  (A lobbyist can’t show up w/ a stack of donor checks)
  3. Eliminate SuperPAC’s as they are already borderline illegal.
  4. Cap fundraising to 500k per election.  (this can be tailored to the office)
  5. Government match all donations up to the previously mentioned cap.

These five things would eliminate Quid Pro Quo because no person in their right mind is going to write legislation for a $250 donation.  It would cut down on the time lawmakers spend fundraising.  Currently they spend 30-60% of their time just fundraising.  The elimination of bundled donations would ensure that lobbyists don’t have undue leverage on their lawmaker.  It would really limit them to educators on issues which is all they should be.  There is a term that Buddy Roemer uses: Free to Lead.  If no one entity had donated to a congressman/senator more than $250 they would be “Free” to govern with their voters in mind instead of the Corporation that put the most into their campaign.

 

When it’s Presidential to Apologize. 5

It is rare that politics includes an apology.  President Obama apologized for troops burning the Koran this week.  It was an unintentional slight where they were disposing of many things in a clean-up effort.  I won’t go into the mission, but it is important to note that they were not trying to disrespect any culture or religion.  Afghan and Muslims are protesting and rioting in response.  This uprising has left several dead.

The President made the correct move.  I applaud his efforts to convey our unintentional slight.  I would take it a step further and actually go to Afghanistan to apologize publicly.  Why?  Because we disrespected an entire religion and culture.  There is nothing that can be done but to apologize.  Just because it was unintentional does not mean that it is ok.  Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich have publicly criticized Obama for apologizing.  You know what that tells me?  They are not presidential.  People that follow me know that I am very supportive of Governor Buddy Roemer for his stance on getting the money out of D.C., but had he come out and criticized Obama for this I would no longer support him!

A perfect analogy is if my kids accidentally knock over a stack of boxes in a store.  I help clean it up and apologize to the person in the store that helps me.  There is no excuse for Santorum and Gingrich’s comments.  They are playing to the far right who are racist!  There are millions of Muslims that are NOT radical, and they DESERVE an apology.  I am disgusted that this is an issue and embarrassed so many people in America wish he hadn’t apologized.  Shame on them.  No I am not Muslim, and it shouldn’t matter.