Gun's don't kill people. People with guns kill people.


"No body could have done a better job than Obama, with the economy he was handed —including me!" —Bill Clinton—

Friday, June 27, 2008

America Burns, Government Fiddles.

The same old partisan games are afoot. To tax or not to tax, that is the question, or is it, to drill or not to drill? You'd think there were only two ways to fix any issue according to the ideologues on either side of the aisle in Washington.

Yet in a House subcommittee on energy, chaired by Rep. John Dingell of Michigan, a panel of four top economic advisors on oil futures trading, stated that, regulating speculative trading could reduce by half the cost per barrel of oil in thirty days. They collectively and with rare unanimity stated that the pressures on the price per barrel were artificial, caused by large Index Funds hedging against a slumping dollar and that regulations already in place, that are not being enforced, could start to bring an end that speculation. They went on to say that with additional regulations that the current speculation could not be repeated.

To quote the Wall Street Journals coverage of the story.

"Prices would probably drop over a reasonably short period of time back to somewhere closer to the marginal production cost of oil, to $65 to $70...and I think gas prices would reflect that in a relatively short order," said Mike Masters, a hedge-fund manager testifying before a Congressional panel probing speculation in the energy markets.

Benchmark light, sweet crude futures on the New York Mercantile Exchange were trading Monday just below $138 a barrel.

Fadel Gheit, managing director and senior oil analyst at Oppenheimer & Co., said prices could come down to a range of $45 to $60 a barrel.

Edward Krapels, a special adviser at the consultancy Energy Security Analysis Inc., said he would expect the retreat from energy markets to be fairly fast.

"I think the amount of speculation is really substantial, [and] I don't think it would take 30 days after the President signed the bill, it would happen more quickly than that...as soon as Congress passed it, commodity funds would withdraw their positions," he said. End quote.

To read the full article go to: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB121426978977398795.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

Here's the rub, playing the same old tune, they (Republicans) want to open up more oil leases for off shore drilling, because that's what the large oil companies paid them to push forward as their agenda. Even though, One, the large oil companies are not currently looking for oil on the 41 million acres they already have under lease. And two, there is no real shortage of supply. Let me repeat that, there is no shortage of supply.

There is a short fall in the production of crude into gas, but thats' because the big oil companies have not bothered to build a new production facility in 30 years. That's how they really control their profits by not producing enough gas. The so called supply and demand is a shell game that's rigged. And the kicker is that even if big oil gets every last oil lease in the entire northern hemisphere not a drop of new oil will be produced for at least a decade. Which makes it difficult for me to see just how more leases will alleviate the current price crisis at the pump.

To be fair I don't think the Democrats plan to tax windfall profits will do anything but add to the price of gas at the pump.

So here's where we stand, the paid lackeys of big oil have once again impeded progress in resolving a problem at the expense of the average American consumer in favor of their big corporate donors. And Democrats, say, tax the fat bastards, which will drive up gas prices even further.

Or, how about a third option, suggested by the experts who have already testified, that we enforce current regulations on speculative trading in the futures markets and bolster them with new regulations that restrict unreasonable speculation that hurts our entire economy. Tell the House, the Senate and, the President to stop fiddling around and enforce the current regulations on the books and to enact tougher regulations to prevent this from ever happening again.

It's time to become an activist and badger your elected officials with phone calls and e-mails until they get the point, "we are mad as hell and we aren't going to take it anymore".

Here's where you can find them.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Had a Wedgie Lately

When was the last time America had a really good satisfying Wedgie.

Yup! It's that time in America again. Let the wedgies begin. I feel them coming already. They can be extremely uncomfortable and divide that which should not be divided. It's time that we all put on our dunce caps, stand in the corner sucking our collective thumbs as the talking heads, pundits and special interest groups, funded by reactionary, radical, right-wing think tanks, pull wedgies up our collective asses by deciding the really important issues we should pay attention to.

I am talking about the importantly, stupid non-issues, that the special interest groups foster and that start the corporate media jackals yapping about endlessly.

Here is a partial list of what's about to be wedged up our collective butts.
Obama's middle name?
Is he a Christian?
His current pastor or lack of one?
Which death camp his uncle helped liberate?
Is his uncle a communist?
Is Michelle O. really proud enough to be American?
Is he an elitist?
Does he really share my values?
Would you want to have a beer with him?

And here's the right wing, reactionary, compassionate, conservative, christian, conversation for the next six months.

His middle name is Hussein ya know. He's must be a terrorist? Oh yes I've heard that too. It must be true. Bill O'Riely said it was and he never spins anything. So did Rush Limbaugh and he never lies. I don't think he's a Christian. I'm not sure about that...didn't he get brain washed by his crazy black pastor. They said they were Christian. But they were a colored church ya know? Maybe he's just saying he's Christian but he's really Muslim, Mmm Do ya think? Were you ever brain washed by your pastor? Oh heavens no, no we're never brain-washed, but, we are washed in the blood of Jesus. Me too! I heard his uncle was a commie he helped liberate Auschwitz. And the reds liberated Auschwitz, ya know. My, my, my, is that so? So he's a communist too? After all he does want to tax the rich, just so the poor can get their entitlements. His wife hates America I heard. She's not proud to be American, until just recently. I heard that too. It must be true then. They just don't share our values do they? That sounds right to me. I believe everything Ann Coulter said about him. She is so unbiased. And thin too. I know!

And so on...ad nauseum.

Never mind the really important issues they pushed up our butts in the past like:

Gay rights or the restriction thereof.
Being gay is nobody's business and certainly not any of the governments' business. The Constitution says so.
Flag burning.
Men don't die for a piece of cloth they die for what the flag represents. Like Freedom of Speech for example. You may not like it, but that's tough. It's in the Constitution.
Prayer in school.
We don't pray in school because the government has no business telling anyone when, or where we should or should not pray or tell us how to worship.

The truth is; everyone of these issues was an assault on the Constitution and our individual rights. All wrapped up in God Bless America, and the Red White and Blue.

I always want to believe that people are really smarter than to fall for these obvious bait and switch tactics and I am always disappointed when I hear someone parrot these insipid arguments wrapped in false patriotic terms.

So why do we as a country continually fall for this same old divide and conquer rhetoric.

I've come to believe that no one really cares unless their own particular ox is gored.
And if you lie often enough, bold enough, and loud enough, people will not question the lie.

Take the lie that Republicans are all about conserving individual rights and against intrusion of small government in the lives of the individual. They then enact an a repugnant repressive Bill they disingenuously title The Patriot Act which stripped Americans of their fourth amendment rights.

How about lie that the American Media is a left leaning liberal tool.
Has anyone heard that Dennis Kucinich filed articles of impeachment against President Bush June 9th 2008?
I didn't think so. But, I bet everyone can remember the *color of the dress Monica Lewinsky wore to the Oval Office when she delivered her oral exam to Clinton.

I don't like being lied too. It pisses me off. If you do then vote for the next republican wind bag, and enjoy your wedgie.

*Blue is the correct answer for the mnemonically challenged.

Friday, June 6, 2008

A Time For Change

We live our lives in a narrow context of personal history, family, friends, marriage, births, deaths, but, some events bring us out of ourselves and demand that we become aware of the broader picture of history. Such an event occurred Tuesday June 3rd 2008, when an African American man was nominated to become the Democratic, presidential standard bearer. His Name is Barack Obama. His mantra has been Change You Can Believe In.

The nay sayers and so called conservative right wing, belittle change as rhetoric without substance, ignoring the fact that from the foundation of this nation, freedom demanded change and that, that change, was forged in the crucible of revolution. What is revolution, but, the epitome of change?

When oppressed by a monarch the founders sought a change in the status quo and through violent change if necessary. Their enlightened manifesto declared that all men were created equal, and that they could, and should throw off the shackles that bound them to that old order, in an age where kings and tyrants were the only form of government men had known. But, not all were inspired and the Tories with their conservative mind set sought to cling to the past to preserve their privileged life style. They were defeated.

When those ideals expressed by the founders fell short this nation went to war—at the cost of hundreds of thousands of lives—with itself to seek a change that extended that expression of freedom even further, that civil war led to the emancipation of blacks.

We have a constitution that calls us to change over and over again, and as Lincoln put it, "to listen to the better angels of our nature". The Constitution is our beacon, a guide and conscience, a moral compass that always points towards freedom and equality no matter the cost.

We as a nation continuously call on the world join us to change and are willing to send our young men and women to force change as we did in World War Two. We set Europe on a democratic course that has seen Europe change from despots and monarchies to democracies. All the while we maintained segregated black army units under the Jim Crow laws white legislatures had enacted after the Civil War.

In my lifetime I saw a small petite woman named Rosa Parks refuse to give up her seat, and force a change in the fundamental rights of blacks. She began a tidal wave of change that culminated in the final death of the oppressive Jim Crow laws that continued to subjugate blacks in this country for over one hundred years after blacks had been emancipated by Abraham Lincoln.

I saw a black man exhort a nation to share his dream to change its racist nature and embrace ethnic diversity so that a man was judge by the content of his character not the color of his skin. He was murdered by a conservative mind set that feared that change. The nation changed anyway. Lyndon Johnson signed an all encompassing Civil Rights bill.

I saw the youth of this nation demand change in the conduct and an end to the prosecution of an unjust war. A conservative mind set responded with tear gas, billy clubs and finally the murder of students at Kent State. Which brought about the very change they feared, the war came to an end, but, the communists did not take over the world.

Looking back through the prism of my personal history and the broader history of this nation I see change need not be feared, it needs to be embraced. The message of change resonates in our very souls as Americans.

History shows us that we have often fallen short of achieving the full promise of equality and freedom the founders intended, but, because we will not allow the flame of liberty to be extinguished by our fear, we pick ourselves up and advance its cause one change at a time. Freedom and equality are not static things that once written can be put on a shelf to be admired. They are ideas that must be written on our hearts and proclaimed by our words and brought to life through our actions. The world will once again take note of Americas' journey towards the fulfillment of freedom and equality for all.

As a 64 year old white male it may seem odd that I can identify with Michelle Obamas' statement of pride in her country, but, as a patriot I too, have never been more proud of my country and its promise, than at this time.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Congress: The Broken Branch of Government

Why doesn't somebody do something about the partisanship gridlock in Congress?

Today, I hit on a nugget I'd like to share with you. It comes from the Brookings Institute, which studies a broad scope of our American government.

It referred to the current Congress as, "The Broken Branch". They explained that while the majority of the American people hold Congress in low esteem and regard them as, "the do nothing branch of government", in reality they were able to pass an impressive amount of bills, but, were hamstrung by procedural issues on the big issue of the Iraq war.

In part the Brookings Institute report stated:
"Based on our research, the 110th Congress does deserve some praise. In 2007, the level of energy and activity on Capitol Hill picked up markedly. This is not surprising — when the Newt Gingrich Congress, took over in 1995, the pace of legislative life sped up, too.

However, In terms of both the number and significance of new public laws, last year’s Democratic majority, significantly, outperformed that Republican Congress. For example, only one item described in the Republican Contract With America was signed into law at the end of 1995, while most of the proposals the new Democrats announced as their agenda were enacted". http://www.brookings.edu/opinions 2008 0119_uscongress_mann.aspx

So, What makes most Americans perceive the current Congress is a do nothing body.

According to the Brookings Institute, the minority party has used a number of techniques and procedures to block major pieces of legislation they find repugnant to their political agendas.

The American people had sent the Democrats there to end the Iraq War. Right? But, the Republicans didn't want them to end it. Ergo, the Republicans found procedural technicalities to slow down or stop legislation.

The Brookings Institute report went on to say:
"The rules and procedures of the Senate are a key to its unique role as the world's greatest deliberative body; and even those who were frustrated (the democrats) by them (rules and procedures) and by their application, especially when an intense minority (the republicans) thwarted the will of the majority, they (the democrats) were respectful of their (rules and procedures) centrality to the Senate itself". http://www.brookings.edu/articles/2006/0627governance_mann.aspx

So, how is it possible for the Minority to block the will of the Majority?

There are three main procedural techniques the Republicans used.

1. Cloture votes: Cloture rules require 60 members to agree to take a vote to bring a bill to the floor. When you have a majority as slim as the democrats have, reaching that magic number is nearly impossible.

If they get 60 votes to bring it to the floor for discussion they face a Filibuster.

2. Filibuster: is the use of tactics in an attempt to delay or prevent action especially in a legislative assembly. In the case of Congress it takes the form of endless discussion on the issue without ever reaching a negotiated agreement as to what will or will not be included in the bill. The rules say once a member holds the floor he can talk for as long as he wants. There is no time limit. And that he can pass the filibuster on to others who also want to stall a bill. Much like a tag team in wrestling.

If a law gets by these two hurdles it goes to the president for his signature. If he can't veto it outright he will add a Signing Statement.

3. A Signing Statement: is and and addendum added to a bill, by the President, that basically says, I won't veto this, but I will not abide by it either and reserve the right to violate it at my discretion. That's why the American government still uses torture such as "water-boarding" even after Bush signed the McCain Bill that said the America government will absolutely not torture anyone, under any circumstances.

This excruciating process of of democracy leaves most of us angry and frustrated, but, lets not forget that it is the minority party that is at the root of this deliberate tactic to thwart the will of the majority.

There are volumes written about the governments of countries that have been ruled by a small groups of power hungry men with their own agenda, that rule by fear, use of torture, spying and secrecy, and that invaded other countries without just cause. Remember the USSR?

I never thought I'd live to see the day those things would apply to my beloved America.

George and his crew have given an undeserved power to our enemies by their exaggerated over-reaction. And decided incompetence.

This country has always been at its best when it faced the future unafraid and its government open to honest inspection of its inner workings, without secrecy, that only protects the power hungry, the incompetent and the corrupt.

You have the power to end the war. You have the power to end the disgrace of torture. You have the power change the ill-conceived policies that have brought shame to this country. You have the power to end the secret prisons, illegal wire-tapping, and paranoid fear-mongering. You have the power to vote. God bless you and God bless this country I love.