Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Loyal Opposition

First of all I want to add my small voice to the millions who are congratulating President Obama on his inauguration today. It is a truly historic event in American history. Hopefully, we can now place racism in the dustbin of history and move on to greater things.

I thought his speech was good. It had all the right words in all the right places. And he was obviously better rehearsed than the eminent Chief Justice.

I also have to add a profound "Thank You, and Best Wishes" to Former President Bush. No matter what you think of him, he successfully completed the toughest job in the world. And, he did it without becoming a slave to the polls and the media.

The Loyal Opposition will be the Americans who wish President Obama the very best of luck. They will also be the ones not blinded by charisma, rhetoric, or the adulation of the masses.

Take Today for example:

Obama halts all regulations pending review
Order goes out Tuesday afternoon, shortly after inauguration

The Associated Press
updated 5:28 p.m. CT, Tues., Jan. 20, 2009

WASHINGTON - One of President Barack Obama's first acts as president was to order federal agencies to halt all pending regulations until his administration can review them.

The order went out Tuesday afternoon, shortly after Obama was inaugurated president, in a memorandum signed by new White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel. The notice of the action was contained in the first press release sent out by Obama's White House, and it came from deputy press secretary Bill Burton.- Read the Rest Here

Someone didn't take time from pandering to the masses to get down and do their homework. These regs should have been specifically reviewed and targeted so that on day one he could give them a thumbs up or thumbs down. Now, all are on hold and no-telling how many .gov employees marking time for now good reason. Somewhere in there might be a reg worth implementing. It will suffer from delay as the team gets it's act together.

Mr. President, the campaign ended on November 4th. It's past time to get to work. Good Luck.

Monday, January 12, 2009

More How To Be A Part Time Political Activist

In the first post on part time political activism we focused on pretty generic stuff that you could do to become informed and how to get out there. This post is goign to toss out some more resources and dig a bit deeper into you doing your thing. Read On Please.

The first thing we are going to do is go over some internet resources to make sure you are ready to get the scoop.

ResourceWhat It Does
How to be a part time....The original post with lots of good information :)
GovTrackThis is where you can read the legislation. It has a better user interface than Thomas.
OpenSecretsOpenSecrets is the website of the Center for Responsive Politics. CRP is non-aligned& non-profit I believe. It tracks the cash in politics allowing you to see whose vote was bought and what for.
MapLightMAPLight.org is another money watchdog site. I like it because you can use it to validate information from Opensecrets.
OpenHouse & OpenSenateAnother Sunlight project. Both are wiki style so you can contribute to them. Brand new, and worth your time to look.
Clean Up WashingtonA watchdog group that encourages you to get involved and contribute your energies to ending political ethics issues. A bit out of date, but a good read overall. Best to take out an RSS feed on this one so that you don't have to search for updates.
ProCon.orgOur mission is "Promoting critical thinking, education, and informed citizenship by presenting controversial issues in a straightforward, nonpartisan primarily pro-con format. - Taken Directly from the site (Phil)
Local PartiesYour state has chapters of your most likely political parties. For example here is the site for the Texas Republican Party. An interesting thing is to check the National Platform against the state version. Your results may vary. This will be handy if you decide to focus your efforts on the local and state levels.
Whew! If that isn't enough, then you are a stout person. But information isn't the only thing you are looking for. Now you want to take a bit more action than simply giving money and writing opinion pieces. I suggest getting involved in your neighborhood and moving up. Here's why.

  • You are already knowledgeable of what is happening in your own back yard. And if you aren't... well you should be.
  • Taking action is easier when you are working with friends and neighbors.
  • You will learn more in less time.
  • You will make an immediate difference that you can see and point to.
By working locally you will build a reputation. You may find yourself drawn to an issue or party that ignites a passion. From there you may move to the state level or the federal level.

Alright folks. You've been reloaded and rearmed. Now, go out and change the world. Or at least your block.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

An Open Letter to my Senators

January 4, 2009

[recipient address was inserted here]

Dear [recipient name was inserted here],

I am writing to protest the statement that the Senate will not seat Roland
Burris due to the actions of the Governor that appointed him.

The Constitution is very clear on how vacancies are filled and I believe
that any attempt to circumvent the article is both Unconstitutional and

Until such time as the Governor is impeached and removed from office his
appointment of Roland Burris is fully Constitutional.

Stand up for the Constitution and oppose this political theater for what
it is. Do not meekly accept the will of the Majority Leader over the law
of the land.

Very Respectfully,

MSgt Phillip Gwinn USMC/ret


Appointment of Senatorial VacanciesWhen vacancies happen in the representation of any State in the Senate, the executive authority of such State shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies: Provided, That the legislature of any State may empower the executive thereof to make temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by election as the legislature may direct17th Amendment

Friday, January 02, 2009

How To Be A Part Time Political Activist

Do you live in the real world? You know the one I mean right?

That's the world where the amount of money in your bank account determines if you buy steak or hamburger. That's the world of the McUSA family. It's the world where most people's knowledge of politics comes from watching CBS, NBC, ABC , FOX, or CNN after putting in eight to twelve (or even more) hours on the clock. The real world for most of us means that we don't have the spare time to “get involved”. We are proud of ourselves if we manage to vote.

Well, Hope and Change is here! No, I don't mean President Elect Obama. What I mean is that this blog post is going to provide you with the means to get involved in your spare time for no money down and small monthly payments of only minutes. Just click the link to read more.

The first thing you need is a Computer. Hmmmmm, looks like you have one or access to one or you would not be reading this. So, with all of that, look at each of the headings and check out the online resources that lets you be involved.


Blogging takes time. But, if you have a passion for something you will make the time. So if you are a commentator at heart or a news reporter Blogging is for you. To create a blog you need a host and the ability to follow simple directions. A knowledge of HTML will help but is not required. To get started Blogging check out the following.

Where do you go?A little bit about it
Blogger.comEasy interfaces with lots of options. Hosting on Blogger is free and you can find a huge number of templates.
Wordpress.comNot as easy as Blogger IMO but very popular. I only have a limited experience with Wordpress. But don't let that stop you. Check it out and make your own call.


Message boards are a great place to go to discuss politics. A knowledge of BBCode (a subset of HTML) is handy but not required. Fair warning, most folks on the MB's are very well informed about their passion. This means you may attract opponents who will insult you. The best boards have a large member base that represents the entire political spectrum. It's not as effective as some other methods because you are in essence preaching to the choir. But, it is a great way to debate and refine your ideas. BTW, these boards are the ones I am involved in. There are literally thousands or more out there. A fast Google Search will help you immensely.

Where do you go?A little bit about it


A very small board with a few friendly posters. They know each other and are very willing to discuss opposing views.

US Message Board

A very large board. The posters range from smart to sarcastic to ignorant to abusive. Due to its large member base there are always topics under discussion.

Political Forum

See US Message Board except that the rules require civility. The Moderators will edit or ban posters who break the rules. This is a new board to me and shows promise.


This is the straight and to the point way to be a part time activist. You are sending communication directly to the people who work for you.


  1. Keep it short and directly to the point. Legislators are busy. Usually a staff member reads the mail. This means you are trying to sell the staffer into talking to the big guy about your issue.
  2. Be polite. A rude or obnoxious letter not only has no class, but is considered not credible. The staffer will note it and toss it.
  3. Be specific. Don't ramble (see #1) on the Constitution when your concern is the 5th Amendment.
  4. Be timely. Your issue is number one with you. But, the reality is that legislators pay more attention to the issues in the news. Scan the news and time your letters to coincide with the trends.

Where do you go?

A little bit about it


Official Web Sites

Every elected official has a web page. This page will have a “contact” option somewhere on it. Click that link and follow the instructions given.

USAY Foundation offers a directory of your elected officials

Third Party Web Sites

Third Party sites offer communications to the politicians and other options. Some will offer, for a fee, to hand deliver physical letters for example. Some third party sites are themed. The bottom two listed on the right allow you to create issues and questions and send them to the Obama transition team.

Yahoo News offers a service that will look up your elected officials and walk you through the process to contact them.

Whitehouse2 allows you to rank your issues against other members and send your “vision” to the Obama transition team.

Change.gov is the official Obama Transition Team site. Here you can ask questions of the team. Click on Open for Questions.


I saved the best for last in my opinion. A well informed constituent will eventually get on his or her legislators list of people to be paid attention to. IF you send enough mail that is on point, well informed, and constructive you will be heard. BTW, most elected folks accept letters from constituents only. An exception is if you are writing someone because of a specific position. For
example you may have an issue that requires the action of the Speaker of the House. So, send your letter to your Representative and to the Speaker. Clearly identify to the speaker that you are talking to her in her role as speaker and not as your personal representative.

In order to be well informed you need to be able to follow the legislation. This table will give you the online sources I personally have found to be useful.

Where do you go?A little bit about itAddresses

Open Congress

The site monitors the status of every bill in Congress. You can join for free and then track your representatives, bills, etc. You can also make friends and provide commentary.


Project Vote Smart

PVS is a nonprofit site that catalogs the politicians. You can research key votes, speeches, ratings, bios, etc.

Project Vote Smart


The official site of the library of Congress that holds all bills. This is the real deal when you want to see the source without anyones opinion. Warning, the interfaces are not the easiest. This site has a learning curve.

Thomas in the Library of Congress

Well there you have it. Everything you need to get online and become an effective and informed part-time activist.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy New Year

Happy New Year! May Y2k+9 be the year you find peace, prosperity, and nothing but good fortune. New Years Day is all about starting fresh. We make resolutions that are not going to be kept and we do things that we never resolved to do. So, for this New Years, the Realist is going to make some reality based resolutions.

ResolutionWhy Bother?Resources To Help
This year I am going to incorporate my FamilyFor the tax breaks and legal breaksLegalZoom.Com
This year I am going to donate $10,000 to the local animal shelterBecause I feel it's the right thing to do.Find your local animal shelter
This year I am going to be more active politicallyBecause I refuse to cede my state or nation to the polsLook for a separate blog post to address this
This year I am going to become more educatedBecause if you stop learning, you will get oldFree Online Courses from MIT

That's it for now. I think that each is doable for me.
Remember, you are a realist if you recognize how it is, and work to make it how it should be. Happy New Year y'all.