Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Congress on the back of a Milk carton

Have you seen your Congressional Representative lately?

It almost seems that when members of Congress are not mugging in front of the camera that they go missing. I saw a few pictures on the back of an expired milk carton in my refrigerator the other day, but instead of returning them, let’s let them stay lost.

It not uncommon that when they do return home, that they hold Town Hall meetings to hear from their constituents, but this year, those Town Halls are more like Ghost Towns.

Many, from both sides of the aisle, fear their constituents right now as the approval rating for Congress is a pathetic 17%. But who is to blame for that disgusting number?

Do we blame the Media with constantly drowning the viewer with battles over budgets and credit limits? Or do we blame Congress for their lack of work ethic?

A few days ago, I read an interesting piece by Chris Moody titled “Are members of Congress paid enough?” which the title alone floored me.
The majority make $174K a year, plus benefits. Not to mention that much of their work also reflects the Stock Market, so they actually get away with a silent Inside Trade when you think about it.

Seriously, if a bunch of members of Congress constantly talk about how the Dollar is dying, people will flock to buy Gold or other precious metals. So wouldn’t you, as a member of Congress, buy Gold before you opened your mouth right now with a Recession? Ask Rep. Ron Paul about his portfolio next time there is a Presidential debate or he holds a Town Hall.

Yet, the Congressional Freshman on both sides of the aisle are crying about how little they get paid, how they don’t get time to spend with family and how much work they do for little pay.

How dare they whine about making $175k yearly when there are roughly 14 million unemployed right now or the many that lost their savings & retirement funds or those that have exhausted everything.

How dare they cry about not being able to make ends meet when there are many making $100k to $150k less trying to make ends meet.

How dare they whine about not being able to spend time with their families when there are men and women who volunteered to put their lives on the line to protect this Nation, many of which haven’t seen their families in 2 or 3 years for far less than the average member of Congress endures.

I have no pity for members of Congress, for they knew what they were getting into when they decided to campaign for the job. If you don’t like it, then do not run for re-election and let the voters bring in someone that wants to do the work.

Did they think they were joining a Fraternity? Quick someone wake Senator Blutowski from Delta House.

But the complaining about their Congressional pay is a fraction of the story. Many members of Congress are skipping out on their constituents as I stated earlier.

While having an entire month to rest, recoup, spend time with family, set up their Fantasy Football drafts and what not, many have decided not to hold Town Hall meetings and those that have held a meeting, some are charging admission or placing rules for entrance for the Town Hall.


Well the contentious manner that has been rumbling through their districts is why. By charging admission, they figure they might weed out the extremely upset constituent and not end up as Youtube.com fodder for the Media.

A few years ago, the Media was drooling over video feeds by constituents verbally attacking their Congressperson during the “Obamacare” talks. Stories came from the Democrats that Conservative PAC groups were planting operatives in the audiences to cause a stir, to which the videos were gold for FOX and MSNBC.

Those videos helped in the 2010 elections, with the Republicans winning the House and gaining seats in the Senate.

So fast forward to the Spring of 2011 and the budget battles that engulfed the Media.

Finally after a few years of being pushed to the back of the group, the Republicans let Rep Paul Ryan work a Budget, a budget that included many spending cuts towards Entitlements. The result was another barrage of angry constituents against the Republicans and their claims of Democratic operatives stirring up the angry mobs.

Yes there were those that still held Town Halls, not all those in Congress are bad, but there are those that abruptly cancelled Town Halls or left in the middle because they couldn’t handle the barrage of questions concerning Social Security or Medicare or why that particular Congressman signed some stupid petition about “Not raising taxes” (Grover Norquist) or abolishing abortion (Susan B Anthony List)?

For instance California’s Rep. Dan Lungren, threaten to leave a Town Hall last week after repeatedly being asked about supporting the Bush Tax Cuts, his only reply was “everyone benefited from the Bush tax cuts as did President Obama.”

That is not an answer, just a statement with very little substance.

Sen. Jim Thume of South Dakota said the most asked questions are “Where are the jobs?” and “What are we doing about Social Security in the long run?” People want answers and no one is answering.

But those that have decided to place an admission fee for a Town Hall are completely out of line. Who are these people?

Well Rep Paul Ryan was one of them! Funny the man who is in charge of trying to straighten the Government bank account and cut unnecessary spending wants to charge constituents money to listen to him speak. Talk about a slap in the face.

So what did some of his constituents do? They staged a “sit in” at his Wisconsin offices until they got their chance to speak to him. After all, was it not they who put him into office? The final result was that his staff called the police and the “sit in” ended peacefully.

Yes, being a member of Congress is a 24/7 365 day a year job. You are constantly campaigning from the time you take your oath till the next election cycle. But members of Congress must remember that they were elected by the people and are there to do the work for the people.

That’s all people; rich and poor, young and old, healthy and sick. No matter that constituent’s religious belief or ethnic background, they were elected to do a job, not pad a resume to take a job with a lobbying firm or become a collegiate professor or even get a job as a two bit talk show host when their term ends.

They need to be reminded who pays their salary.

So call you’re their offices, flood their emails, crash their websites with the questions that they are not truly answering, because you’ll find out, they don’t have an answer for you unless you make big $ donations to their re-election campaign.

Oh look, a new picture on the back of my milk carton that resembles the US Capital building. WOW! 535 missing elected officials. Let them stay lost!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Libyan independence equals alienating traditional allies?

On June 15, 2011 the United States had spent close to $800 million on military actions in Libya and Congress was demanding Pres Obama stop action or he will be in violation of the War Powers Resolution. But the White House fought back stating that “US operations are limited to a support role in coalition with the U.N. Security Council Resolution.”

Basically, since Pres Obama did not send in ground troops and there were no U.S. casualties, he was saying “F” you to those that voiced opposition to his stance on helping our allies, United Kingdom, France and Italy in their involvement of ridding Libya of more than 42 years of tyrannical rule by Khadafy.

It’s also pretty amazing that after 42 years, no one can agree on how to spell the Libyan leader’s name!

Yet, even before Pres Obama pushed involvement in prior months, many in Congress called for U.S. involvement, and when Pres Obama went forth, they cried against him.

So here we are today, it looks as if the Libyan rebels have won with the help of a coalition of UK, France, Italy, and the US. Senators McCain and Graham send congratulations to those countries, but give nothing towards Pres Obama except to chastise him on a World Stage.

Even the “has been never was” crowd of GOP Presidential hopefuls, too many to list, found it easier to downplay the U.S.’s role in those operations and would rather run around words.

Is it because after 42 years and 8 Presidents, someone actually was able to help and rid the world of the Libyan cockroach?

Yes, Pres Reagan took action against Khadafy for about a week in the early 80’s, but the man kept ruling. Were these people upset that “credit” wasn’t given to another President for past actions?

Was this not the same group of ‘intelligence” that outrageously squawked about how “Pres Bush deserves 10x’s the credit then Pres Obama for finally ridding the world of Osama bin Laden.”

Former Pennsylvania Senator “Lil Ricky” Santorum was one of the first to speak, by saying “Ridding the world of the likes of Gadhafi is a good thing, but this indecisive President had little to do with this triumph.” So “Lil Ricky” is calling Pres Obama a “Slacker” on this action.

What? Apparently “Lil Ricky” missed the press releases over the past 4 months, when the majority of his own party has stated “Obama is wasting American tax dollars in Libya by getting way too involved.”

FOX News trotted out their “Foreign Policy” expert, Donald Trump to explain how the U.S. should now handle relations with a (at the moment) free Libya.

According to Trump, “We should go in and take the oil that is meant for us.” This is the reaction from this great business mind, take what is not ours. Of course, he stated the same about Iraq back in March during his pseudo campaign, or “whore rating tour.”

Hey Trump, we only get 3% of our Oil imports from Libya and that 3% will not do anything in the price at the pump which is currently around $3.49/gallon.

If Trump knew anything, he would know that the U.S. gets 51% of our Oil imports from Canada! Yes, our friends from the Great White North are our #1 Oil importer, with Saudi Arabia #2 and Mexico #3. Hm, maybe we should invade North America to get an estimated 70% of our Oil. After all, we share the same continent, is it not “all our oil?”

Texas Gov Rick Perry proved why Texas ranks #50 in education when he stated that Obama’s “foreign policy seems to be based on the alienation of traditional allies.”

Um, I’m sure someone in his campaign staff could run over to a library and get the Governor a history book, for the United Kingdom, France and Italy have been traditional allies for decades (France for centuries) and our little bit of involvement was HELPING not alienating!!

Look, gas prices in the United States will not drop because of the recent results in Libya. No one has an understanding as to who these rebels truly are. Report after report contradicts another.

It’s already been stated that it may take months, if not years, to get all of Libya’s oil production back to full speed. Companies like BP, who have no personnel in the country since fighting started, won’t get back to work for at least a week and they still have to survey any damages.

But here we are, in such a partisan divided country, that no one from the other side of aisle can suck up some pride and give a pat on the back to Pres Obama for helping out our allies in ridding the world of a tyrannical figure.

To paraphrase Daily Show host John Stewart “If a Democratic President gave each Republican a non binding tax free $1 million, they would say in disgust ‘great now I have to go buy a wallet.’”

Suck it up people, there was some good done in the World today, it just hurts so many to admit so.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Used car shopping with Rush Limbaugh

Recently, my family took a vacation to which a 2011 Dodge Caravan was rented to haul us across 3 States to our beach destination. I must admit I really enjoyed driving the Caravan and even thought about owning one as my family ages, yet the cost of a new vehicle plus the hassle of dealerships immediately came to mind.

And along with that thought, I remembered that a few weeks ago, good ‘ol Rush Limbaugh boasted that the reason new vehicle sales have become stagnate and used vehicle prices have gone up is because of “Cash for Clunkers” destroyed the market. There are simply less used vehicles on the market according to Rush.

This is completely ridiculous as many people took advantage of “Cash for Clunkers” and bought new fuel efficient vehicles in a time when gas prices were roaring skyward.

It was a program designed to get the oldest, destructive, smog polluting vehicles off the road. There were particulars a vehicle had to meet to be considered a “clunker.” It was also a program set up to help a struggling automotive sector.

What good ‘ol Rush is missing, or better, not reporting to his audience is that the American vehicle buyer and the Auto Industry has changed its ways from the behemoths of mid-1970’s and prior.

Around the mid-1970’s, the Auto Industry started making models to last longer. Gone were the days that every model year was a new design. People used to flock to the dealerships to get the newest design, but that ideology was crushing the imaginative designer and not to mention the profits of the manufacturer by constantly changing the factory specs for each new model year.

Just look at the 1978 Ford Mustang (top pic). That specific body design lasted close to 15 years, with subtle changes each year, until Ford finally redesigned it after the 1995 model year (bottom pic).

But Rush also missed the fact that “Clunkers” were not going to be resold, but sent to the scrap yard. These “Clunkers” were never meant to see pavement again and that the dealerships received a federal check to recoup the monetary lose on the sale.

The economy has a lot to do with low vehicle sales, both new and used, as well. Many people are holding on to their vehicles longer either because they do not want a large car payment or the banks are simply not providing loans as they once did (Just as banks are being stringent on small business loans).

I gather Rush is getting his information from Dealerships that sell both new and used vehicles, which he would be correct in the abysmal numbers. But there are many pre-owned dealerships that are doing well, mainly because they avoid banks and deal directly with the buyer.

We see these Independent lots scattered around towns and cities and many people used to avoid them for the product they sold was usually best known for “as is” category. Vehicles with incredibly high mileage, faded paint and hidden problems that the buyer is not told about.

But today, programs like CARFAX exist to help the buyer and make a majority of these Independent lots extremely viable.

These Independent dealers have changed their tunes and know that many people can’t afford to buy a brand new SUV or Mini-van, but if they can afford a used one with 40K and all the gadgets for less, people will buy.

There’s plenty of business out there and with today’s economy wreaking havoc on many credit ratings, no matter the economic status, people are looking for a deal. Many would love to buy a new Mercedes or a Lexus, so why not buy a used one and still feel good about it?

With a few keystrokes and a click, many can find ratings of used vehicles and decide which is best for them. Sure the new high school or college graduate wants a brand new car as a gift, but many are settling for mom & dads old Toyota Camry or Honda Accord for they know it will take them around campus or town when needed.

It’s no surprise that Consumer Reports 30 Worst used car listing, ranging from 2001-2010, that 80% of the cars listed are GM and Chrysler products.

But Americans aren’t just buying used cars to save a dollar, second hand stores from clothing to furniture to books are popping up everywhere simply because it’s the new market. Buy used and save cash.

Rush still believes in the American consumer, that the days of “spend spend spend” are still abound, yet Americans are watching their dollars, many are consuming goods less. Instead of buying the latest and greatest to compete with friends and neighbors, they would rather wait for the best deal to come around. Heck even Rush offers product deals on his show, but when it comes to his dislike for Pres “O” he forgets his promotional montages.

But hey, if Rush believes so well in the American Auto Industry, why does he drive around in a $450k German built Maybach 57s? Then again, I prefer Volkswagen over any other car I’ve owned, but that’s about $425K less then Rush’s taste.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Bachmann Turmoil {in} Overdrive

I’m one to believe that if any Congressional elected official decides to run for President that they need to suspend their Congressional commitments and take a sabbatical.

Why? Simple, because they are rarely in Washington for debate and too busy kissing babies and knocking on doors. For instance, Rep Michelle Bachmann has spent more time in Iowa over the past months then in Washington doing her elected duties.

Since 2007, she has missed 7% of her votes, but since beginning her presidential campaign she has missed roughly 37% of the votes. That’s outstanding considering what has been going on in Washington the past few months.

Meanwhile, Rep Ron Paul, another contender, has been able to make his way back and forth only to miss 10% of votes while campaigning.

It’s safe to say I am not a fan of either, yet of the two, Bachmann seems the most viable, but that’s only because of the Media exposure she has been receiving for Paul is more equal in the Tea Party virtue than she is.

So while Congress is off for yet another Recess, I swear they take more time off combined then Teachers the Republicans love to rail against, there still a lot left to do in Washington.

There is still no FAA agreement, leaving 4,000 employees on furlough with no paychecks, as well as another some 20,000 contractors missing payments. Not to mention the lost revenue to our government.

Plus, the Media will be all crazy for the Gas Tax debate coming up. Yet another reason to watch gas prices move up so be thankful that this Summer prices dropped a bit for the days of $4.25/gallon will return by October.
But don’t worry about Michelle Bachmann, she’ll be giving the Media and Comedians much late night fodder from zany quotes and misrepresented statistics to fill the void till after Labor Day.

Only a few weeks ago, Bachmann has stated “I am running for President, not my husband, so he is off limits.” There’s the problem, dear Marcus is part of your campaign and therefore fair game.

A spouse, just as a member of the campaign, is a representative of you. The exposure attached to Marcus is no different than the exposure Michelle Obama’s remarks received in 2008, especially by the Con-Opinionators, or that of Theresa Heinz Kerry in 2004. Even Cindy McCain took some heat for some small remarks during the 2008 campaign. They all represented their spouse on the campaign trail and therefore a Media target and Marcus Bachmann has opened his mouth quite a bit lately.

It’s easy to say Michelle Bachmann is getting comfortable in front of the cameras, but it’s those cameras that are helping her surge in the polls. After all, she is the current Media darling.

We hear nothing except small snippets concerning Santorum (gone by November), Pawlenty (gone by January), Cain, Paul and the new entry from Jon Huntsman, whom I do want to hear more from.

Bachmann’s personal past of being a working mom of 5 kids and opening her home to 20+ foster children is a great story and shows that there is compassion still in this world. However, it’s her “struggles” in that part that people should question. How many foster kids did she have at one time? Not all 20 I suspect.

She makes great story of many spaghetti dinners with all those foster kids, of which she did receive compensation from the State of Minnesota.
In the State of Minnesota, a family fostering a child at the age of 1 year old would receive $585/monthly and if a child is 16years of age, the compensation rises to $699/monthly. Yes, it is not a lot of money in the help to care for a child, but compensation is provided. And depending on how many children were in the care of the Bachmann’s at one given time, well that’s money coming in.

Also to mention Michelle was receiving a modest government salary as a tax lawyer for the Internal Revenue Service and “Pops” Bachmann’s business was bringing in the cash as well. Plus there’s the Farm subsidy payments for the family owned farm business and etc…. Oops, did I divulge too much?

But Bachmann wants less government, so would she do away with foster care compensation?

It’s a fact that she wants less government and to dismantle Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, to which those two government entities are a disaster that government itself has destroyed since the Clinton Administration’s 2nd term.

But Bachmann, like many Americans, did receive a sweet $499k loan deal through Fannie & Freddie for her new abode in the DC area. Only to turn around a few weeks later and say the departments need to be shuttered.

She consistently misquotes or falsifies statistics throughout her campaign. From stating “a hidden $105 billion in Federal Health Care” yet $40 billion was actually attached to Children’s Health Insurance Programs or “the Obama Administration has only issued one new oil drilling permit since taking office” when today it’s 296 new permits issued or “the federal government owns 51% of the American economy” when it’s actually a little over 20%.

I think she got the last one confuse with 1944 UNDER Pres Roosevelt when it was 50%, but manufacturers were under contract to build tanks, boats, planes and other things for fight World War II. But hey, it’s only numbers, who needs true facts when campaigning?

I would love to ask her why she was “present” but didn’t vote on H.R. 2244. This was a piece of legislation to rename a Post Office in Geneva, New York after Cpl. Steven Blaine Riccione.

Cpl. Riccione volunteered to serve in the Vietnam War while so many were being drafted or dodging or getting deferment (Cheney 4xs). He died in combat at the age of 20 and to have something such as a Post Office or a bridge or roadway named after him is an honor to his service. What did she not see in that? The legislation passed with 1 Nay and 13 Present.

I suspect, with the Media help, Bachmann will be the only opponent left standing in May 2012 against Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.

So the real question is will Americans put Religion ahead of all else in 2012 as they did in 2008? Reason being is that so many were afraid of Romney’s Mormon faith in 2008, are they still afraid in 2012 or has Glenn Beck made everyone feel safe about the hysteria and myth of the Mormon faith?

Or will Americans vote for the “wolf in sheep’s clothing” Washington Insider that Michelle Bachmann truly is?