I wrote a letter to my local Senator Maria Cantwell… She replied. Reply

I don’t know that she actually read my letter.  It could have been a staffer that attached this custom response and sent it back, but I have to say that I have sent letters to other Senators and Congressmen.  This is the first response I have received that had anything to do with my letter.  I appreciate the fact that someone read the letter and had a legit response.  Here you go:

Dear Mr. Meyers,

Thank you for contacting me regarding the recent Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. I appreciate hearing from you on this important issue.

In 2007, Citizens United, a non-profit advocacy group, sued the Federal Election Commission to prevent it from enforcing certain provisions of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (BCRA). Among other things, the BCRA prevents corporations and labor unions from directly funding communications expressly advocating election or defeat of a federal candidate. In addition, corporations and unions are prohibited from funding “electioneering communications” 30 days before a primary and 60 days before a general election.

One of my proudest achievements as your Senator was enacting the first meaningful campaign finance reform legislation in decades – the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act. That legislation was a critical breakthrough in the long battle to rein in campaign spending, to make improvements in the way politics is conducted, and to make government more responsive to our citizens. It passed through Congress with overwhelming majorities, sending a clear signal of our intent to prevent special interest money from overwhelming our electoral process. I disagree with the Supreme Court’s holding the corporations should be granted the same rights as individual citizens and I worry that this ruling will open the door to a flood of corporate spending that will drown out the voices of everyday Americans.

On January 21, 2010, the Supreme Court announced its ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. In a 5-4 decision, the Court held that these restrictions constitute a “ban on speech” in violation of the First Amendment. In effect, the ruling invalidates these provisions of the BCRA and overturns over 100 years of Supreme Court case law limiting the ability of corporations and unions to influence federal elections.

I believe that public financing is the best way to ensure that candidates can focus on the issues important to voters rather than raising money from special interests. Such an approach would help transform campaigns from negative attacks into substantive debates and government decision-making from a process influenced by money to one determined by ideas.

Senator Bernard Sanders (I-VT) introduced Senate Joint Resolution 33 on December 8, 2011. This resolution would propose an amendment to the Constitution that would reverse the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. The resolution would reaffirm the authority of Congress and the states to regulate corporations and to set limits on all election contributions and expenditures. This resolution has been referred to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, where it awaits further review. In order for the proposed amendment to the Constitution to be ratified, it would require the support of two-thirds of each House of Congress and ratification by the legislatures of three-fourths of the states. If enacted, this resolution would amend the Constitution to limit the number of terms that a member of Congress may serve. The proposed term limits in the House of Representatives would be three terms and two terms in the Senate.

Thank you again for contacting me to share your thoughts on this matter. You may also be interested in signing up for periodic updates for Washington State residents. If you are interested in subscribing to this update, please visit my website at http://cantwell.senate.gov. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future if I can be of further assistance.

Sincerely, Maria Cantwell United States Senator
For future correspondence with my office, please visit my website at http://cantwell.senate.gov/contact/

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.

 

Earmarks are a Microcosm of how Government Works 7

Corporations have bought off our government.  Below is a list of some of the earmarks for 2010 that went to campaign donors.  You have to see a list like this to see the gravity of the situation, and this is just the tip of the iceberg.  I cannot show you every single earmark that went to campaign donors.  I would to make a point, but it is simply too much raw data.  I know no one will read this line item by line item, but the extent will grab attention.  This is just to illustrate how bad it really is.  Also, I understand that earmarks are just a small percentage of the National Budget, but you have to remember they are a microcosm of how government works.  Tax loopholes, subsidies, tariffs, anti-competition laws, etc. etc. are all written in this same manner.  They just aren’t as clearly stated that they were written for Company X that might have donated to Congressman Y’s campaign via straight donation or Super PAC.  Enjoy:

Tim Bishop Rep. (D-NY) got $13.5k in donations from STIDD Systems and gave them a $3.6mil earmark.

David Dreier (R) Rep of Cal. received donations from Chang Ind. and rewarded them w/ a $3.2mil earmark.

  • Aerovironment Inc: Donation to Dreier equals $1mil earmark.

Rich Shelby (R) Senator of Alabama gave 23 earmarks for $90mil to campaign donors or companies that lobbied him.

Sam Johnson (R) of Texas: L-3 Comm. donated to his campaign, and he gave them a $3.04mil earmark.

  • SVTronics Inc also has a cozy relationship w/ Johnson that took the next step to a $2.72mil earmark (3rd base)
  • Rockwell Collins Inc, gets a $2.4mil earmark for their efforts in lobbying and donating to his campaign.
  • Raytheon Co. donated heavily to his camp and was rewarded w/ $1.6mil earmark.
  • Mustang Tech., Sam Johnson campaign donor, got a $800k earmark.

Tim Murphy (R) of PA received campaign $ from Curtiss-Wright Corp via PAC’s and rewarded them w/ $2.88mil in earmarks.

  • Converteam Inc., a campaign donor of Murphy’s, also got an earmark.  This one only $1.6mil.
  • PPG Ind. donated directly, through PAC, and lobbied him to get their earmark of $1.6mil.
  • Eaton Corp., another Murphy donor, got a $600k earmark sponsored by Murphy.
  • National Center for Defense Mfg & Machinery donated to his campaign and was rewarded w/ a $1.6mil earmark.

One of Ed Pastor’s, (D) of AZ, biggest campaign donors is Honeywell Int.  He sponsored 2 earmarks of $4mil and $3.2mil.

  • United tech. lobbied/donated to campaign and got a $4mil earmark courtesy of Mr. Pastor.
  • Robertson Aviation dropped 100k on lobbying, much of which on Mr. Pastor.  They got a $2.4mil earmark via Pastor.
  • BAE systems, a Pastor donor, also got a $2.4mil earmark.
  • Goodrich Corp.  donated through PAC’s and received a $2mil earmark.

(R) Robert Aderholt AL congressman gave a $6mil earmark to Victory Solutions.  You guessed it, they’re donors to his camp.

  • QinetiQ North America spent a ton of $ lobbying Aderholt and was rewarded w/ a $3.2mil earmark.
  • Miltec Corp supported his campaign, and he supported their bottom line w/ a $3.2mil earmark.
  • Peopletec Inc.  Same deal.  Donated/lobbied and got an 3.2mil earmark.  Goes around comes around, I guess.
  • J2 Technologies donated to his campaign and got a mere $3mil in earmarks.  Wonder were their .2mil went.
  • SUMMA Technology spent 30k on lobbying Mr. Aderholt, and was the recipient of a $2.4mil earmark.
  • Intergraph Corp. donated to his campaign and magically got a $2.32mil earmark.
  • Raytheon Co: 1 of Edward J Markey’s (D. Representative of MA) 10 biggest donors got a $4mil earmark.
  • Foster-Miller spent 32k lobbying Markey and got a $3.2mil earmark.

Cerus Corp. dropped over 160k lobbying Edward J. Markey D. of Mass. and was rewarded w/ 2 seperate earmarks of $2.4mil.

  • ‎123 Systems: Edward Markey of MA, a $2mil earmark. Oh, ya they donated to his campaign too.
  • QD Vision lobbys Edward Markey for a Nanocrystal Source Display: They get an earmark.

Rep. Joe Courtney (D) of Conn. biggest campaign contributor was General Dynamics… Yes they got a $4.8Mil earmark from him.

  • Honeywell was a big contributor & Lobbied him, they got a $4mil earmark sponsored by Courtney.
  • United Tech., his 4th largest donor, got a $4mil earmark that he sponsored.
  • Alion Science & Tech., donated and lobbied Courtney,  weird how they got a $3.6mil earmark via Courtney.

IN (R)Dick Lugar got camp. $ from Altair,Flagship Ent, AmeriQual, and Allison Trans. Each got their own earmarks of $3mil or more

Steve Buyer (R) of IN received donations from Society of Indep Gas Marketers, BP, Bridgestone, Marathon Oil, and XCel Energy Pac.  No wonder  he twice co-sponsored: Disapproving a rule submitted by the EPA relating to the endangerment finding and the cause or contribute findings for greenhouse gases under section 202(a) of the Clean Air Act.

Mark Souder (R) of IN sponsored $3.6mil in earmarks for Raytheon Co.  and yes they were one of his biggest donors.

Andre Carson (D) of IN sponsored $9.8mil in earmarks.  1/2 of that money went to campaign donors or peeps that lobbied him.

David Loebsack (D) of IA earmarked $9.6mil for Rockwell Collins Inc. after they donated to his campaign.  $9.6mil.

R of Kan Representative Todd Tiahrt’s biggest campaign donor was Boeing.  He got a $6mil dollar earmark just for them.

  • Hawker Beechcraft, a Tiahrt donor/lobbyer got a $7mil earmark courtesy of Mr. Tiahrt’s sponsorship.
  • Kaman Corp. Lobbys him and donates to his campaign to get a modest $3mil earmark.
  • Curtis-Wright Corp is a big donor and receives a measley $1.6mil earmark.

Steven Rothman D of NJ set aside $5.6mil in earmarks for Stevens Inst. of Tech. You guessed it, they were campaign donors.

  • Dynamic Animation Systems: Yup donated to his campaign and hired lobbyists to get in Rothman’s ears and they get a $3.5mil earmark.
  • Covanta is yet another down the line where they donate and get an earmark.  This time, $2.5mil.
  • Absecon Mills donor gets $2mil in earmarks
  • Phacil Inc lobby’d Mr. Rothman and gave to his campaign, they were rewarded w/ a $2mil earmark.
  • General Dynamics too donates to his campaign and lobbys his office and is rewarded yet another $1.68mil earmark.

Bill Young earmarked $4mil for Alliant Techsystems after they contributed to his campaign and hired lobbyists to pull his ear.

  • Alakai Consulting and Engineering donated to Billy and only got $1.6mil in earmarks.
  • Contributor Honeywell got $1.6.
  • SAIC donated to the campaign and got 2.4mil in earmarks from him.
  • Bill Young R of FL co-sponsored 64 earmarks totalling $128million.
  • Raytheon Co. a $4mil benificiary contributed to his campaign.

John B. Larson D. of CT received $87k in contributions from United Tech. and rewarded them w/ $4mil in earmarks.

  • Honeywell contributed to his campaign and got another $5.6mil in earmarks.

Jim Moran has been a naughty boy.  If you look at ITT Corp, one of his donors, he granted them a $1.6mil earmark for their support.

  • Argon ST got 2.4 million and donated to his campaign.
  • Dynamis Inc. same story.  Donated to campaign; got $2mil in earmark money.
  • ObjectVideo Inc. same story: Donated and got $2mil in earmark money.
  • Innovative Defense Tech. Same-Same.. Donated to get $2.0mil in earmark money.
  • Dynamic Animation Systems then next in a long line of earmarks for this guy.  Donated and got a $2mil earmark in return.
  • Progeny Systems donated to him and only got $1.6mil in earmark money.
  • ITT Corp. got 1.6mil for their campaign contributions.
  • EM Solutions, another $1.6 million dollars in earmarks.
  • DDL OMNI Engineering.  $1.6 million and a donor.
  • MobilVox Inc. 1.6mil
  • SyTech Corp got $1.6 mil for radio inter-operability system from earmark money after donating to his campaign.
  • SAIC Inc dontated and got 1.6mill too.
  • Curtiss-Wright Corp secured 1.6 mil in earmarks through their contributions to Jim Moran.
  • Jim Moran (D) of VA also gave ManTech Int. a $2mil earmark; they too a big donor to his campaign.
  • BriarTek Inc. was Jim Moran (D) of VA 5th biggest financial campaign supporter and was rewarded w/ a $2.4mil earmark.
  • IR-Vascular Facial Fingerprinting is what they are getting the earmark for.  via the defense spending.

(R) Doc Hastings sponsored two seperate earmarks of $2.4mil that went to Honneywell and Infinia, both were top donors to his campaign…

(D) Adam Smith co-sponsored $3.5m in earmarks for Lockheed Martin.  Lockheed is one of his top five campaign contributors…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Lobbyist Effect on D.C. Reply

I was bantering back and forth with a lobbyist the other day.  He was frustrated with the fact that the term “lobbyist” is now on the same level as used-car salesman.  Jokingly, I mentioned that “used-car salesman” aren’t that bad.  Lobbyists of every level are just doing their job.  They are just playing the cards they are dealt, and there are hundreds off different types of lobbyists all thrown into the same hypothetical basket.  In every profession you have the bad eggs, being a lobbyist is no different.  So, I want to make it very clear that we don’t want to end the profession…. We just want to limit them to a strictly educational role.

Where lobbying has gone wrong, or should I say the system, is that they are allowed to campaign and fundraise for elected officials.  This creates an immediate conflict of interest.  If a judge is not allowed to make a ruling on a case where he knows the defendant/plaintiff, why then, would we allow the “law-makers” the chance to define laws that affect people who are donating to their elections?  If you think company X’s donation to Congressman Y’s campaign or SuperPac will go unnoticed when he is deciding whether or not to tax them, you’re not being honest with yourself.  It is, by definition, a conflict of interest.

Let’s take this a step further: Lobbyist Bob who used to be a Republican Senator for Alabama spent hours sitting next to Senator Dan back in the day.  They golf regularly and know each others’ families.  Bob has mentioned regularly that when Dan is done with Public Service, he should come work with him at the firm.  In addition, Lobbyist Bob is always coming to Dan’s fundraisers with a bundle of checks from contributors.  Bob has no reservations about lobbying on behalf of his clients’ needs to Dan.  Corporation X is getting killed by a certain tax code and has to layoff 2500 workers if they cannot get that written out of legislation.  Dan looks into it and finds that he has the power to “fix” that part of a certain tax code, and does.  Three weeks later, he hits Bob up for a donation to his campaign.  Bob, his wife, and several others in his office donate the max contribution to his campaign.  In addition, Corporation X drops $250k into his SuperPAC.

A lobbyist will talk you in circles justifying this exact scenario.  The solution?  Eliminate SuperPACs, all middleman donations, and end the revolving door between K street and Capitol Hill.  Then, we as citizens, would know that Dan was just acting out of good conscience and educating himself on the facts.  Otherwise we are left to think that there is a Quid Pro Quo situation even if you can’t draw the lines directly.