Sunday, September 28, 2008

Just Where Do Obama and McCain Stand? You Decide!

Questions that seem to come often include:

  • Is there any way to learn where Obama and McCain really stand, other than by relying on biased, muckraking political ads and web sites?
  • How have these two senators voted in Congress?

I asked a close friend about this. She pointed me to web sites for the Washington Post and the Library Of Congress. So, I decided to dig around and I found several easy to use pages with boatloads of information on Obama and McCain.

Below are two links at the Washington Post with pages containing the following information:
  • Brief biographies

  • Their roles in Congress

  • Their key votes (as determined by the Washington Post

  • Information about their state

  • Official financial disclosure statements detailing who has given them money

  • How many votes they missed in the current Congress

  • How often they voted with their parties

  • Their most recent votes

At the bottom of the page is a link to their full, unedited voting record. From here, drilling into individual vote results will take you to a summary for the respective bill at the Library of Congress web site. Don't be discouraged at the amount of information to sift through.

Looks like the Washington Post has done a great job at summarizing the information. Its a worthwhile visit if you believe their stance on the issues is represented by their voting records. Just remember to dig into the bills themselves because they are sometimes mutated by riders and amendments before the final vote.

Washington Post's Summary of Senator John McCain

Washington Post's Summary of Senator Barack Obama

There is also a similar summary over at GovTrack.US which includes easy to use information about the bills they have introduced into Congress. Check this place out if you believe their position is best represented by the bills they have sponsored and cosponsored. Information presented here is mainly from the current congressional session. Summary Of Senator John McCain Summary Of Senator Barack Obama

Finally - I've whipped up a page which will show you bills they have sponsored/cosponsored in the current and previous congressional sessions.


Saturday, September 27, 2008

Move Over Clay Aiken, Mark Buse Is Gay!

Breaking news! A high ranking McCain staffer is gay! Now, people will stop talking about Clay Aiken!

Yeah.. right..

Let's get real, folks. In my opinion, no surprises here as to why the mainstream media didn't run with this one.

1: Clay Aiken is a househould name.
2: Umm.. who is Mark Buse?
3: How is McCain's popularity changing these days?

Something tells me the mainstream is usually more likely to sensationalize a newly outed gay celebrity over a gay public servant no matter who he/she works for.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Oil + Domestic Situation = Delay Troop Withdrawal From Iraq?

Once upon a time, Greenspan reflected on why we went to war in Iraq. Then came the 2008 presidential election. Finally, Americans all across the country watched the first presidential debate.

Is it me, or does McCain sound obsessive regarding Iraq? Meanwhile there are reports that the power-hungry Bush administration wants to delay pulling our troops "due to political circumstances related to the domestic situation" in our nation. All this surrounded by reports of Western oil companies making inroads in a country where we basically conducted a regime change.


Monday, September 22, 2008

Finger Pointing For Today's Financial Mess

Fun stuff. So begins the finger pointing. Got to admire the people that are doing what they can to find reasonable solutions to this mess.

I'm no expert: something needs to be done, but giving non-elected individuals unregulated control of $700,000,000,000 at any one time certainly doesn't sound like a good solution to me. That is $700 billion in taxpayer dollars. Make the corporate idiots which made the irresponsible choices pay for their mess, not Joe Taxpayer.

The finger pointing seems to be centered on a bill back in 2005 which never became law. Instead of pointing you to people's opinions, how about information from the good ol' Library of Congress. There's a lot to sift through here..

References to the Federal Housing Enterprise Regulatory Reform Act of 2005 in the Congressional Register

House Of Representatives Bill Summary & Status File

Senate Bill Summary & Status File

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Government Wants Quick Action.. And More Power: Big Government Is Coming Back!

Funny.. do the American people realize that if Paulson gets the swift action he asks for, without debate, that the following clause in that plan will take effect?

Sec. 8. Review.

Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.

Many sites are showing the text in the draft legislative proposal for treasury authority.

I'm no expert, but this is how it sounds to me:

It basically gives non-elected people (one appointed by the president) far reaching, unregulated power over large sums of money, specifically $700,000,000,000 at a time. At least they had the foresight to give themselves a time limit on some of this new power.

In this proposal Secretary is defined as Secretary of the Treasury. Its not clear on which taxpayer is protected. Day-to-day middle class taxpayers? Rich CEO taxpayers? Who is being protected, and at who's expense?

Here are some of the more interesting sections:

Sec. 2. Purchases of Mortgage-Related Assets.

(a) Authority to Purchase.--The Secretary is authorized to purchase, and to make and fund commitments to purchase, on such terms and conditions as determined by the Secretary, mortgage-related assets from any financial institution having its headquarters in the United States.

(b) Necessary Actions.--The Secretary is authorized to take such actions as the Secretary deems necessary to carry out the authorities in this Act, including, without limitation:

(1) appointing such employees as may be required to carry out the authorities in this Act and defining their duties;

(2) entering into contracts, including contracts for services authorized by section 3109 of title 5, United States Code, without regard to any other provision of law regarding public contracts;

(3) designating financial institutions as financial agents of the Government, and they shall perform all such reasonable duties related to this Act as financial agents of the Government as may be required of them;

(4) establishing vehicles that are authorized, subject to supervision by the Secretary, to purchase mortgage-related assets and issue obligations; and

(5) issuing such regulations and other guidance as may be necessary or appropriate to define terms or carry out the authorities of this Act.

Sec. 3. Considerations.

In exercising the authorities granted in this Act, the Secretary shall take into consideration means for--

(1) providing stability or preventing disruption to the financial markets or banking system; and

(2) protecting the taxpayer.

Sec. 5. Rights; Management; Sale of Mortgage-Related Assets.

(a) Exercise of Rights.--The Secretary may, at any time, exercise any rights received in connection with mortgage-related assets purchased under this Act.

(b) Management of Mortgage-Related Assets.--The Secretary shall have authority to manage mortgage-related assets purchased under this Act, including revenues and portfolio risks therefrom.

(c) Sale of Mortgage-Related Assets.--The Secretary may, at any time, upon terms and conditions and at prices determined by the Secretary, sell, or enter into securities loans, repurchase transactions or other financial transactions in regard to, any mortgage-related asset purchased under this Act.

(d) Application of Sunset to Mortgage-Related Assets.--The authority of the Secretary to hold any mortgage-related asset purchased under this Act before the termination date in section 9, or to purchase or fund the purchase of a mortgage-related asset under a commitment entered into before the termination date in section 9, is not subject to the provisions of section 9.

Sec. 6. Maximum Amount of Authorized Purchases.

The Secretary's authority to purchase mortgage-related assets under this Act shall be limited to $700,000,000,000 outstanding at any one time.

Sec. 7. Funding.

For the purpose of the authorities granted in this Act, and for the costs of administering those authorities, the Secretary may use the proceeds of the sale of any securities issued under chapter 31 of title 31, United States Code, and the purposes for which securities may be issued under chapter 31 of title 31, United States Code, are extended to include actions authorized by this Act, including the payment of administrative expenses. Any funds expended for actions authorized by this Act, including the payment of administrative expenses, shall be deemed appropriated at the time of such expenditure.

Sec. 9. Termination of Authority.

The authorities under this Act, with the exception of authorities granted in sections 2(b)(5), 5 and 7, shall terminate two years from the date of enactment of this Act.

On Face The Nation: Greed Is The Root Cause Of Financial Crisis

Yesterday afternoon I see the scariest of headlines on the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. It said, basically, Bush wants additional emergency powers during the nation's current financial crisis. Today I hear the most amazing thing on Face The Nation.

Senator Richard Shelby (R-Alabama) and Representative Barney Frank (D-Massachusetts) are on the show. Mr. Shelby addresses a question about overhauling rules and regulations by stating:

"What caused this? What's the root cause of all this, and where we are today? Greed and lack of regulatory oversight."

Mr. Frank ended the segment by saying "Amen" to what Mr. Shelby said. I'm no expert in economic matters. But I do know that there is probably plenty of blame to go around for this mess.

To put this in context, there have been discussions about executive compensation throughout all this. Some are saying, "tax the executives." Sounds good to me: punish those irresponsible few which put their "needs" first instead of the needs of the many. How wonderful that Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson seems to be ignoring the role of executive compensation, based on his interview on This Week with George Stephanopoulos.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Experience, Umarried Pregnant Teenage Daughters, and Values: What If?

So now we are entering a very interesting time, politically speaking. Inexperience seems to be a common theme these days. Add real life and conservative values and what do you get?

Oh, where to begin. What if..

On one hand, we have a young candidate with an elder running mate. On the other hand, we have an elder candidate and a younger running mate. At least with regards to age the politics seem a little consistent.

Next take experience into account. One ticket has an inexperienced person in the highest government position. The other places an inexperienced person as second in command. Looks like inexperience is good for one but not the other.

Personally I'm impartial about the experience question. I despise hearing the phrase, "not enough experience" or anything remotely similar to it. I am far more likely to trust an eager, hardworking intern than any tenured employee with a sense of undeserved entitlement anyway. How is anyone is expected to gain experience if they're being held back and/or not given a chance?

Next up, what happens when you try to prohibit what people do and restrict what they learn? There are far too many examples of that.

Let's take a quick look at Sarah Palin's family. Conservatives around the country are praising the family's pro-life family values in action. I suppose for this high profile conservative family it doesn't matter that the pregnancy happened outside of marriage, regardless of what Bristol was taught.

I agree that this is a private family matter. I was thrilled to see Obama quickly tell people to back off. Yet, I cannot help but wonder what would've happened under a different set of circumstances. What if Bristol's life were in danger? What if Bristol had been raped? This article appears to answer the latter question.

The two hypothetical questions can be seen as pro-choice rhetoric. Its difficult to really know anyone's response to a situation until faced with it. Regardless, the Palin family's approach to these two questions are the true test. I cannot help but wonder what they would do publicly and privately. Would their actions be consistent with their values?

This much is certain: mom's abstinence values did not rub off on Bristol nor were lessons learned. Clearly focusing on abstinence and responsibility for unwed parents is not always the answer.

I surely haven't forgotten my teenage years. Nor have I forgotten my siblings' teenage years, and what we all put our parents through. Uncontrollable teenagers is a reality any family may face.

Experience, values, and who they apply to. Most intriguing indeed.

What if..

Tornado Rainbow Triangle