Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Iminent Danger: S. 3268

S. 3268, the Stop Excessive Energy Speculation Act of 2008 is underway. The Imminent Danger is to your right to do as you please without the feds interference. Essentially the Senate is looking for a scapegoat and they have picked those who make their living speculating on oil futures.

Think about it. This is the United States of America. You can grow up to do anything you wish as long as you are determined. This bill may be about energy prices on the surface, but it runs deep into your civil liberties. Please click the link to read more.

Anyone who has any experience in business or industry understands that government intrusion is a fact of life. There are a myriad of government agencies that regulated everything from A to Z. Remember, most regulations are not debated. They derive from laws enacted via Congress and the President. The law may simply have a line that reads, "Congress shall enforce this law via appropriate regulation". And regulations are not debated in Congress. The President doesn't sign or veto regulations in most cases.

Additionally, this law specifically targets one group of people. Today it's the speculators. Next week it could be the race car drivers. Week after next it'll be bloggers. But, we cannot term limit the Senate huh?

BTW I don't agree with term limits. I used to. But, the point is to allow you to live your life as you please. If you want to be a politician all your life, go for it. At least they won't regulate you to death.

Just to be sure I am not simply going off the deep end, let's read what the Democratic Policy Committee says in part about this bill. I added the bold and italics.

This legislation, developed after consultation with consumer advocates, oil market analysts, and experts from the financial and airline industries, seeks to reduce the amount of excessive speculation in the oil markets. Specifically, the legislation would increase the resources and authority needed by the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) to detect, prevent, and punish price manipulation and excessive speculation and give the CFTC emergency authority needed to rapidly implement the legislation. S. 3268 would also strengthen the amount and quality of information available to the CFTC so that the Commission can better regulate all aspects of the energy futures markets.

Take a look at the first set of italics. It openly gives you an idea of who lobbied for the bill. They are the ones with the most to gain. I can't fathom why the financial bubbas would agree to further regulation. The airline industry is a no-brainer. They get to scapegoat someone so thier passengers don't revolt.

Now the bold part. We are going to take an agency of the government and throw money at it so that it can get bigger. And we are going to increase thier authority (emergency authority no less) so they can detect, prevent, and punish price manipulation and excessive speculation. And please note the last sentence. We are going to regulate "all aspects" of the energy futures markets. I hope the other futures traders are not already saddled with this.

Look, I could go on a rant over each of the provisions.

The best thing I can ask of you is to go to the site and read it.

Then read the transcript of the current MOTION TO PROCEED.

You need to look at every law passed by Congress and answer the following questions.

Is this law authorized by the enumerated powers of the Constitution?
Even if it is so authorized, is the law preventative or punitive?
Does this law expand the governments already overbearing powers over you, the law abiding citizen?

Call or write your Senators today. And tomorrow. And the next day.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Role of Media in Politics pt 3

In the first two installments discussing the role of the media in politics we covered the MSM and then talk radio. This post deals with the cutting edge of the internet.

In many ways the Internet is still in its' wild west days. For the most part it is unregulated and notorious for passing along hoax information as well as the real deal. And, as a trusted source it vies with Fox news as a non talk radio alternative.

But the internet is so vast that we cannot possibly cover it all in one blog post. So, we are going to focus on the interactivity of it and how that might have an effect on the political process.

The most obvious starting point would be the candidate or politicians official websites. I remember when the internet was new and dial up was the norm. Politicians had to be contacted by snail mail because the web presence was essentially a listing of headlines, a photo, and contact data that wasn't yet digital.

Now a politicians site is fully interactive with polls, issue areas, newsletters, email contact information, real world contact information, and often a list of instructions for services like appointments to a service academy.

The next thing is blogs just like what you are reading now. Blogs range from small and humble all the way to huge things with multiple posters.

Then there are message and chat boards. No matter what affiliation you have there will be a message or chat board catering to it. Again, some are small and some are huge.

A word on interactivity; There is no free speech. The owner of the site sets the rules and can allow or disallow your postings or comments. So if you post greatness and the site bans you... oh well there are others abounding. Heck, you can even start your own.

We'll tie it all together tomorrow.

The Role of Media in Politics pt 2

In The Role of Media in Politics pt 1 we identified the mainstream media and determined which sources appeared to be used by each political faction. The bottom line was that MSM bias is largely in the eye of the beholder. This post examines the so-called "Alternative Media" in its' talk radio incarnation.

Unlike the major newspapers and broadcast outlets, talk radio clearly favors the right wing end of the spectrum. Radio shows like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity are broadcast nationwide to an audience of millions. Second tier shows hosted by Neil Boortz, G Gordon Liddy, and Mark Levin also have a nationwide audience but not as many outlets.

Left Wing talk radio hasn't fared near as well. The biggest attempt was the abortive Air America. It simply didn't grab a large enough market share and has filed bankrupcy and been sold. There is far more after the read more link.

According to Wikipedia:

On October 13, 2006, Air America filed for protection from creditors, i.e. bankruptcy under Chapter 11, at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York.[15] Air America continued broadcasting while the finances were worked out with the creditors. The company had US$4,331,265.30 in assets and US$20,266,056.23 in liabilities. Al Franken alone was owed US$360,749.98 and Rob Glaser, founder of Real Networks, was owed the most at US$9.8 million. The filing had over 25 pages of creditors and showed that the company lost US$9.1 million in 2004, US$19.6 million in 2005 and an additional US$13.1 million by mid-October in 2006.[16][17]

This definitively shows that while liberal/left sentiment might be dominant in the mainstream media coverage hours, the right has no problem dominating the radio airwaves. Why?

The first and most openly credible reason is that more people desire to listen to talk radio dominated by a conservative theme. The evidence presented is compiled by Talkers Magazine.

They (Talkers Magazine) have compiled the 2008 Heavy Hundred listing of the 100 most important radio talk show hosts. The top six are identified as conservative hosts politically speaking and all have a national audience. The first identified liberal/progressive is Ed Shultz at number eight. To see the entire listing, click here.

The profile of the common talk radio listener pretty much tells which side of the spectrum that talk radio is dominant in as well. The mythical listener is a white male, 45-54 years old that makes between 30 and 70 thousand a year. He listens to country music and is an independent who activily votes. This guy is a football/baseball fan who self identifies as basically conservative and he gets his non-radio news from either the internet or fox news. To see the full breakdown, click here.

The other, more sinister, purported reason that right wing talk radio dominates is simply that the broadcasters themselves are conspiring to make it so. An excerpt from Truthout.org makes the case.

But if that were all there was to the phenomenon, a new report by the Center for American Progress and the Free Press on right-wing talk's domination of the airwaves wouldn't be causing as much chagrin among conservative commentators as it has. The report, (PDF), "The Structural Imbalance of Political Talk Radio," is stirring up the right-wing squawkers because its analysis flies in the face of conventional wisdom; Right-wing talk doesn't dominate AM radio because of the magical hand of a functional free market, it dominates thanks to multiple market failures. Even worse, those failures represent a strong case for better regulation of what goes out on the public's airwaves.

The report referenced is available here for download.

The bottom line is that no matter which argument you prefer, talk radio is here to stay. But there is no conclusive evidence of it actually influencing its' audience. In fact research indicates that the successful talk radio hosts mirror the core values of thier listening base. It would seem that analyzing the host would provide a clue about each set of listeners. Thus a potential candidate could actually shape his/her image to mirror the largest listener demographic.

Thanks for reading.

The Role of Media in Politics pt 1

There are interesting trends on the internet that are worth looking into. It seems as if everywhere you turn folks talk about media bias. Conservative or Liberal, Left or Right, Republican, Democrat, and Independent all agree that the MSM is against them.

The first thing we need to do is define the MSM and then we need to put a face to them. Most everyone accepts that MSM is shorthand for the major television networks as well as the major newspapers. But, who are they and how do they relate to the major political parties and thier supporters. It gets interesting right after you take the leap.

According to ebiquity the top ten MSM outlets look like this:

Again according to the research done by ebiquity the top ten MSM citations from both Republican and Democrat sources are:

The final dataset provided by ebiquity is the most interesting.

The final scoring function produces a ranked list of MSM based on preference of being linked to by either Republican or Democrat blogs. This shows some interesting results (complete list here and here):

Does anyone notice the overlap in some places?
What this tells me is that MSM bias is as much a talking point as anything else. It also shows me that bias is in the eye of the beholder.

Thanks to for sourcing this data.

Next we will look at the alternative media.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Obama Shuns Wounded American Soldiers

Presidential hopeful Barack Obama apparently shunned visiting American Servicemembers wounded during the campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan according to Brietbart. Now, I will admit that Brietbart is not a paragon of neutrality. However, the facts don't appear to be in dispute.

BERLIN (AP) - Sen. Barack Obama scrapped plans to visit wounded members of the armed forces in Germany as part of his overseas trip, a decision his spokesman said was made because the Democratic presidential candidate thought it would be inappropriate on a campaign-funded journey.

Interesting that he visited millions of non-voting people over several countries on a campaign funded journey. But it would be inappropriate to visit the Americans that have sacrificed the most? As they said on Star Trek: Does Not Compute.

I wonder if his visit to the non-voting nations and people means he will scrap his presidential campaign and instead run for Secretary General? After all, in that instance, the American Soldiers would not get a vote.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Regulating the Speculators

What do lottery players, stock traders, house flippers, sports bettors, real estate investors, and Miss Cleo have in common? Answer: They are all speculators of one sort or another. Meaning, they take info, money, and a hunch then they try to read the future.

Congress is talking about further regulation of folks who speculate on the futures market. I am going to go out on a limb and say that this is about as smart as trying to gargle razor blades.

While this might be construed as being within the enumerated powers (commerce clause) it certainly isn't fair, or even fair minded. The Congress is to blame for the price of gas at the pump.

Who decided that there would be virtually no new drilling in the Continental US? Who decided that you cannot drill off our own shores? Who set in place the mechanism that didn't allow new refineries to be built? Who caved to the anti-nuke crowd? Here's a hint, it wasn't the speculators.

Folks, Congress feels your pain. They feel it as a possible loss come the next election. And so, to ease your pain, they are frantically looking for a scapegoat.

Can someone give me a logical reason why we should allow congress screw up yet another market? Can anyone tell me why we would want to expand the power of the .bloat (Brazenly Large Overly Aggressive Tyranny)any further?

Below the fold are some quotes from the more insane. Just click the read more link. Thanks for reading.

Lieberman blames speculators for high commodity prices
-- Purchasing, 7/17/2008

As Congress debates regulating the commodities trading market, Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman told a Senate hearing on commodity speculation that speculators are to blame for much of the high commodity costs. “The steady upward climb of the cost of food and energy is not simply the result of natural market forces at work,” Lieberman said. “Speculation has passed the point where it provides stability to the commodity markets. It is now excessive and hurtful.”

Airline industry launches lobbying campaign to fight oil speculators

07:27 AM CDT on Friday, July 11, 2008

By DAVE MICHAELS / The Dallas Morning News

WASHINGTON – The troubled airline industry is launching a lobbying campaign that blames speculators for ballooning fuel prices, but the carriers face stiff opposition to their energy plan from other lobbying powerhouses and some skeptical members of Congress.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Change You Can Believe In: $119 per American 2009-2013

Well, it is wonderful to know that both Presidential Candidates are Co-sponsors of S.2731. This is a bill which allocates $10,000,000,000 per year from 2009 to 2013. It is ostensibly intended to "authorize appropriations for fiscal years 2009 through 2013 to provide assistance to foreign countries to combat HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria, and for other purposes."

As the title said, it will cost every American $119.00 over the four year time. Isn't that special? Neither candidate bothered to ask if you would like to donate to such a worthy charity. Instead they simply decided for you. Gotta love it right?

It's not that I don't have a heart. It's that I don't believe that our government should be spending fifty billion dollars out of the country that they are not allowed to via the US Constitution.

Question for the readers or the candidates: Which of the enumerated powers authorizes the Congress to appropriate money for this purpose?

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Sunday Funnies

Welcome to the Sunday Funnies

Well now, aint this sweet:
All Things Considered, July 13, 2008 · The Latino vote promises to be vital in November's presidential election. Both Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama have been actively seeking to build support with Latino organizations. Today, Obama speaks in San Diego at the National Council of La Raza, a leading Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization.

I like how NPR calls La Raza "a leading Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization". Kinda like calling the KKK an advocate for Christian white males.

In more important developments according to the local news, Budweiser is about to acquire a German accent. So, far I haven't found a net source. But, the writing is on the wall. Rumors have abounded for weeks. I am so glad I actually make my own beer.

This Sunday was scant on funnies. Win some, lose some.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Federal Regulation opposing RKBA

I stumbled across an NRA site concerning some Dept of the Interior regulations designed to limit your right to carry weapons in a National Park. I am not a member of the NRA as I don't tend to join single-issue groups unless I have drank and digested their kool aid. That is because any discussion not in line with the "official" line of the group tends to be attacked instead of logically discussed.

The website asked for public comments on the issue. IF you click the "read more" link you will see the websites involved and the comments I submitted. Your comments are always welcome.

Here is the [url=http://www.nraila.org/Legislation/Federal/Read.aspx?id=4074]NRA site[/url].
Here is the [url=http://www.regulations.gov/fdmspublic/component/main?main=DocumentDetail&o=090000648053d497]commentary site[/url].

Here is my comment submitted this morning. I am not the great communicator, so while comments are welcome, please be educational on how it could have been written more intelligently.


The 2nd Amendment of our Constitution is a self evident statement. The Supreme Court recently ruled definitively that it is an individual right. I find it atrocious that there are those who refuse to see the following:

First: Limitations on the possession, transportation, or personal bearing of arms only penalize those inclined to obey the law in the first place.

Second: When you deprive someone of the right to defend themselves you must assume the responsibility to protect them. In a National Park setting, you cannot guarantee the protection of each and every individual.

Third: Requiring justification to exercise a constitutional right is wrong. Rather, the state is obligated to justify the diminishing (infringement) of the right.

Finally, as a practical matter, regulations infringing on a persons right to keep and bear arms is only enforceable after the fact. Thus, the regulation is not preventative but is punitive in nature. Punitive regulations are the antithesis of a free society.

I strongly urge that these and other regulations be removed and future regulation defaults to freedom and liberty.

I remain respectfully,

PE Gwinn
MSgt USMC (ret)

Former White House spokesman Tony Snow dies

I first heard Tony Snow on Sirius radio. I like talk radio when it is not all ranting and raving and Mr. Snow appeared to balance the commentary with very pointed and well spoken debates. I enjoyed his show immensely. I would like to offer my condolences to the Snow family and hope that in time they find a measure of peace.

Type rest of the post here

Friday, July 11, 2008

Weekly ReCap

Ya gotta love the soundbytes this week. The Reverend Jesse Jackson wants to rip Barack Obamas nuts off, and Phil Gramm tells the truth about whining. Everyone flipped out and the talking heads are chattering so loudly that it sounds like a woodpecker on speed in the petrified forest.

Speaking of talking, one of the more interesting conversations I heard over the week was on the topic of a national language. Should we mandate English as the official language of these United States?

Nope. Click the read more link and learn why...

English is already the dominant language of these United States. If immigrants (legal ones) don't want to learn English, then so-be-it. Assimilation is great, but not at the expense of free will and liberty.

The Constitution was written in English. And nowhere does it convey permission to the federal government to mandate English or any other language. Yep, that's right, it isn't authorized in the enumerated powers or the amendments. We already have enough anti-constitutional trash coming out of Washington. This we don't need.

By the way. I have no problem with the Fed declaring that English as the official language of the US Government. Meaning, all legislation is in English. All official US Government transactions, business, services, etc will be conducted in English. That can be done via appropriate regulation or possibly an executive order. But legislating English for the whole nation? That dear reader is a very bad idea.

And finally, speaking of bad ideas: Both candidates either have spoken or will speak to La Raza as they seek the Latino vote. I don't have a problem with Latinos but I do have a problem with La Raza. Just as pandering to the white vote by speaking to the KKK would be wrong, just as speaking to the Black Panthers would be wrong, so to is this.

Thanks For Reading.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Tuesdays' TalkShows

Monday talk radio stinks on ice. It's a rehash of the Sunday Funnies TV shows. Tuesday is a good day since I tend to be on the road all day. Today was a good day. Here are three examples.

Alan Colmes is my favorite Liberal talk show host. He's got a sense of humor, and can get sarcastic with the best of them. Best of all, he rarely goes on a rant. I don't listen to him much since his time slot kicks my butt. Since today was a long day I got to listen in. For the record Alan: I agree with leaving Iraq if thier government requests it. I think the preacher was maligned by the papers and you didn't get the target you wanted. I agree with the guy who said there were some folks in Afghanistan that need killin. I don't sit in the armchair and do the qb thing either. It was a good show, but I would be interested in knowing why you think it's evil for the oil companies to make a profit. I just can't wrap my head around that philosophy.

For the next two of today's best, just click the read more link.

In the number two slot was Cam and Company. They are a wholly owned subsidiary of the NRA and are proud to say so. They coined a term I heard for the first time today. When Obama flips the flop, they say he "BarakSteps". I like that. They were focused on the new parking lot law in Florida. Personally I am not impressed. It took a legislature to all me to keep a gun in my car when it's on a parking lot? Yeah right. Apparently Florida doesn't fully comprehend "shall not be infringed". Neither does Disney for that matter.

Todays best offering comes from Mike Church. Rather than the stereotypical conservative pounding on the desk and blaming the "libs" for everything, he held school on the Constitution. Two experts, for over an hour, calmly discussing the Constitution and how it's been sidetracked by pols of both parties. Questions were thoughtful and the answers very interesting. Excellent show. I just wish that more Americans were interested in learning about the Constitution.

Great Job All.

Friday, July 04, 2008

A Glorious Independence Day

I find it ironic that the premier national holiday is known for its date more than for its' name. We don't go about our business asking folks how they are spending December 25th. I've never been asked what day it was and by reply said "January first". We call all holidays by their rightful name except today. While it's great that folks remember the date I'd prefer that they remember the name. It was a glorious day in Texas. And our Independence Day was celebrated. Please click to read a bit more...

Today we started with a down home small city parade. Leading the parade was the United States Marine Color Guard. Then came color guards from the various law enforcement agencies, veterans groups, and civic organisations. I have to say that it was great.

We grilled hamburgers, drank beer, and told stories. Like Memorial Day, Independence Day evokes memories, some not pleasant. Our Declaration of Independence told the world in general and King George in particular that we were not going to take it.

From those words sprang the war that eventually resulted in our nation being born. But, there is another thing we need to do. We need to teach the history of the Declaration as well. To that end, I would like to recommend a three CD Historical telling of the "Road to Independence" by Mike Church. I listened to it twice today on my computer (Sirius Radio in the truck and streaming at home) and it is simply awesome. BONUS: IF YOU ARE A TEACHER YOU CAN GET THIS CD SET FOR FREE.

The Declaration of Independence set the stage for the role our states and nation play in the world today. It is right that we remember. C'ya round.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Clark Slams McCains Qualifications to be President

General Wesley Clark, 4 Stars, fixed his bayonet and charged straight into the teeth of McCains qualifications to be President. James Webb, Former Secretary of the Navy and a Navy Cross recipient during Vietnam as a US Marine, essentially told McCain to shut up about his military record.

I know I am not the super pundit; but am I the only one who thinks these guys not only diminished their stature regarding the uniforms they once wore by being publicly stupid?

Think about it... click to keep on reading

Don't misunderstandify me. I totally understand the stature of these guys. In my short time as an active duty Marine I knew their names very well. And, without a doubt both deserve enormous respect for what they accomplished while in uniform. But, I am not impressed with either one of them in the political arena.

Clark is factually correct. Military service of any sort doesn't qualify you to be the President. According to my copy of the Constitution you must be 35, a natural born citizen, and a resident of 14 years. That's is it. Anything else is added one voter at a time on election day. Apparently being a General doesn't get it either.

While Clark can hide behind the parsing of his words, Webb is simply stupid in this regard. Who was running on what military record when he ran for the Senate (Hint McCain wasn't the only one)a few years back? 1st Clue; His name rhymes with Webb.

McCain still assumes that guys like me are going to vote for him. He's wrong. He must earn my vote. But in all fairness his experiences are far closer to the ideal described by General Clark than are Mr. Obamas.

Both Clark and Webb learned about Honor from the finest institutions in the world. It's too bad they've forgotten those lessons.