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The real no spin definition of most earmarks is a Member of Congress targeting a group with your money taken right from the ever flowing government monetary fountain to either get votes or campaign funds for reelection.  This keeps the “select” few in Congress.  Search high and low and you will not find much integrity in Congress or with those who use the system to keep getting reelected.

Who runs our government?  At any given time, the decision makers in Congress represent the 15% of the population who place party above country.  Most people who are registered Democrats or Republicans follow their party and generally agree with their party, but do not place party above country.  Most elected representatives are of the 15% of the population who are Democrats or the 15% who are Republicans – these are the folks who place party above country.  Under the Bush administration there was a push to expand the Republican Party by expanding government and spending more – sounds like the Democrats doesn’t it?  The theory was, if we give the people “stuff” they will vote for us, since this has worked for the Democrats for some time.

 The problem was that the Democrats had elevated giving stuff to those who don’t have stuff to an art form and thus the Republican plan badly backfired.  In the case of the Republican representatives, they placed party above country.  The problem with the Democratic Party, now that the backlash against the Republicans has given the Democrats essentially a majority in both Houses of Congress and possession of the Whitehouse, is that they are seizing the opportunity to take their art form of expanding government and giving stuff to those who don’t have stuff to a new level.  They are using this opportunity to forever move this country, in a series of well planned steps, to the far left progressive governance of socialism and control by their party.  Again this is party over country.

In a previous posting “Fix Congress, But How?” I suggested changes to our Constitution as a means of regaining control of the country from the parties.  It should always be what is best for the country, not what is best for the party.  That posting did not cover one other method of regaining control of our country and the re-establishment of bi-partisan governing or more importantly multi-partisan governing.  This type of governing is brings back checks and balances.

By allowing a third or even more parties to grow and prosper to major status, we will force compromise, build in check and balances, and blunt extremism from the two major parties of today.  This means changing state laws that have been put in place to make it very hard for other than a Republican or Democrat to run for federal office.    Today’s Democratic Party is not the party to which my father, a union bricklayer, belonged.  The Democratic Party of John F. Kennedy was more like the Republican Party today.  Both Parties have moved very left.  Within each party are those who represent the centrist, left and right camps of party members.  The Blue Dog Democrats are fiscally conservative members of the Democratic Party, and are mostly from the south.   They may be Democrats, but they do not control the party – the Far left does.  This group would bolt to a viable third party if it could achieve major status.  Do you think they were comfortable recently when Speaker Pelosi demanded a yes vote for the 1,000+ page American Recovery Act (stimulus bill of $787 Billion) with no time to read or digest it?  This was a case for these people to place party over country, because if they did not comply, the party would not support them going forward during the reelection primary campaign.

You can initiate change yourself.  Find a party of your liking and change or simply go independent.  However in most states independents lose out during the primary season by being shut out of the vote.  The two major parties are simply too powerful, with the Democrats being in an über power position.  This situation is incredibly dangerous for this nation.  The far left 15% of the population are now in control of our country.  Is this how you want this country managed?  Spinning off those other major parties is change you can trust.  Change you need to push for by contacting your state representatives to insure that getting on the ballot is equally easy for all parties.

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Tired and frustrated about Washington, D.C.?  Do you believe that Congress is out of touch with the people?  Do you believe that Congress does not represent us and instead represents special interests with their legions of lobbyists and big campaign donations.  It also seems clear that those in Congress have a sole purpose of continuing to serve and this purpose is to do everything and anything they can to remain in Congress.  Have you noticed that those who retire usually retire very wealthy?

Where else can we be told time and time again how the Congress will clean up its act, yet we suffer powerful committee chairpersons and rules designed to keep and grow the status quo.  The affliction of power brought about by seniority affects both parties.  Our two party system appears to be the problem and not the solution – ideology takes second place to capturing power and remaining in office.  Their real constituent is reelection!  We routinely return the incumbent to Congress at greater than a 90% rate.  Something is radically wrong when the very people who complain about the Congress, us, routinely return their representatives to Congress more than 90% of the time.  Perhaps this 90% return rate is not totally our fault, but can be traced to the design of the election system, campaign funding, and the support of special interests.  Does it seem right that your Congressman or Congresswoman is more influenced by money from outside his or her district?  Why should some agricultural company in Hawaii be allowed to monetarily influence a Congressman from an industrial district in Pennsylvania?  It happens that money flows in to Congressional campaigns from all over the United States and yes, Europe and China, among other places.  Why is it okay for everyone in the world to buy the loyalty of your representation in Washington?

If and when you call your representative in Congress, you will most likely get voice mail that asks you to leave a message about your issue.  They keep raising the funding for the staffing of their offices, yet there is no one to answer the phone?  These people feel so insulated that they have openly and brazenly discussed, and in committee voted to add a voting representative in Congress to the District of Columbia and the State of Utah.  This is highly unconstitutional behavior – the Constitution is crystal clear on how representation is handled and representation is not established by the Congress at their whim.  This vote in committee and soon to be a floor vote represents the ultimate example of people serving in Congress suffering the aphrodesiac of unchecked power.

What can we do about our Congress?  Can we amend the Constitution?  Congress controls the Constitutional amendment process or do they?  Our Constitution provides for an alternate amendment process, one initiated by the states.  A state can call for a constitutional convention and if two thirds of the states agree, i.e. 34 states, it convenes.  The states send representatives to the convention and any amendment coming out of the convention needs ratification by three fourths of the states, i.e. 38 states, to become an amendment of the United States Constitution.   Now you can petition your state legislators, your representatives in your capitol, for a constitutional convention to change Congress and to restore lost rights back to the states.

We can seek a change in how Senators are elected.  When the Constitution was adopted, it provided for election of Senators by the states legislatures and not direct election of the senators by the people.  While this method was subject to politics and political maneuvering, it gave the States a say in the size of the federal government, the judiciary, and foreign affairs through the Senate.  It was the seventeenth amendment that made this change.  We need to repeal the seventeenth and replace it with an amendment that provides for election of senators by their respective legislatures, with a restriction on recall requiring a two thirds vote in all houses of legislature of the state – Nebraska has only one house of legislature, while the others have two.  This would take the pandering and special interests out of the Senate, since Senators would not need multiple millions to run for reelection.  This amendment would add an additional check and balance – the state itself through its Senators.

We can seek an amendment that would limit campaign contributions in cash, property, or services to an individual residing or a corporation headquartered in the district of the congressional candidate – no political party contributions, thus only constituents are important to the member of Congress.

We can seek an amendment that requires all spending bills and any spending appropriation to be of like kind in a bill, be in the body of the bill with no spending amendments, and have gone through committee and been approved by the majority of the committee.  This will eliminate earmarks. 

We can seek a change in ballots across this nation for candidates for a federal office.  No longer can states make special rules that make it hard for third party candidates to get on state ballots for president and vice-president, or congressional representatives.  This would stimulate the candidacy of members of parties other than Democrat or Republican parties.

We can seek term limits on members of the House of Representatives to three terms.  This will eliminate the individual absolute power some members of Congress have achieved.

These few amendments will re-establish this republic and fix the now forever and perpetually corrupt Congress.  Members of Congress are addicted to a drug of Congressional power and will never give it up on their own.  We need to make this change through the states – push your state representatives to make these changes.  Tell them these amendments will provide the states with more rights and make it easier and less costly for the state representatives to run for federal office.

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Last night’s nonsense and unprofessional journalistic approach to the speech by Governor Jindal exhibited by the MSNBC team demonstrates the lack of objectivity in the media today.  The Republican Party clearly has another hurdle to return as a prominent party.  The media is necessary to getting your story and image out to the public.  When the outlets selectively make it difficult to get your image and message out, not only the party suffers but America suffers.  While last night’s show was a commentary show, a minimum of respect is necessary to allow a fair presentation.  Listen carefully to the MSNBC personnel coment and laugh as Jindal walks toward the microphone.  The man said nothing and already the MSNBC folks were making fun of and demeaning the man.  Where was the professionalism?  Even in a commentary show, comment should be withheld until after the man has spoken.  Governor Jindal did not purport himself and the Republican party well with his speech – it was a downright awful presentation, but he should have been allowed to fail without the stage being set for failure prior to his speaking.

If the Republican Party does not yet see its biggest challenge, it has no chance of recovery.  The main stream media has all but become totally corrupt in selecting and slanting the news.  It materially controls free speech and a free electoral process.  It is getting harder to find news, nothing but the news, to be informed of national and world events affecting this country and our lives.

The fourth estate as it was once called was given freedom of the press to insure its role as an independent check and balance to government actions.  When the fourth estate uses that freedom of the press to turn public opinion with often doctored reporting and suppresses news that does not support the media’s agenda, then the fourth estate has lost its right to freedom of the press.  Along with that right, comes the responsibility to be the purveyor of truth.

It is clear that the left in this country has co-opted the main stream media.  MSNBC has clearly become the Obama house organ.  What can be done about it?  This twisting of the news for political agenda is not new.  Way back at the formation of this country, Alexander Hamilton had about enough with newspapers in the tank for Thomas Jefferson, that he co-founded a newspaper to get his message and his party’s message  out (The Federalists) – it was the New York Post founded in 1801 as a daily publication.  Yes the same Post of today.  Oddly enough it was founded to combat the media’s one sided adoration of the new Democratic Party and its leader, Thomas Jefferson.

The Republican Party needs to find people who have the wherewithal to buy a major newspaper or a network and bring in real journalists.  These people should be respected balanced journalists who understand that the message is truth and not agenda.  I am not suggesting that this newly acquired media achieve an agenda.  If it did, then nothing would be made right.  The fourth estate would still be unworthy to hold the right of freedom of the press.  If it has to have an agenda, then it must be the agenda of truth without the partisan diatribe.  The agenda should be “All the news that is fit to print” – wait that is taken and it has been seriously abused by the New York Times.  The Times should be sued for false advertising.

Republican Party!  Unless and until you can get your message out you cannot bring balance back to this great land.  Michael Steele, start the process of finding balanced people who will assume control over some of the failing agenda driven papers and networks, so that a message of truth will be delivered.  Only then will the Republican Party be able to get a fair chance to serve the public.

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Listening to the arguments and intentional misinformation spewing forth for and against drilling, it has become clear that this struggle is not between today’s low gas prices and high gas prices, but rather a struggle of ideologies. It is about forcing a change in the way we want to live or finding a way to continue to accommodate the way we want to live.

The Democratic Party’s defense of the status quo about not drilling for oil on shore and off shore is that the price at the pump will not come down tomorrow; drilling will not help for ten years – this was said by the same Party ten years ago; oil companies have 68 million acres not as yet drilled; ANWR, a frozen tundra covered in snow and ice so far north in the Arctic that no one will visit it for its scenic beauty, is too pristine to drill in a minuscule portion of that preserve; and on and on for the excuse of the day.

If you carefully examine the quotes on the topic of domestic drilling and pump price from Obama and other Party notables, a different motivation surfaces. These folks look to the high gas prices as a blessing. They seem to believe that high gas prices will finally force the SUV driving, air conditioning loving, home heating, energy wasting public to conserve. This is a “global warming trumps all other positions” manifesto. The elite of the Democratic Party are looking to and hoping for the pain at the pump to last indefinitely, and to use it as medicine to bring the energy loving fools in line. We have heard from Obama about how we must be more like Europe and conserve. Bottom line is that the Democratic Party elites simply do not want us burning oil. There is no attention paid to the ravages our economy has and will suffer at the hands of the foreign oil gods. There is no attention paid to how we have stripped our independence and defense bare as we have become dependent on these foreign oil gods.

The demographics of the Democratic Party have changed from the 50’s and the 60’s, when it was easy to spot a Democrat – he or she was a middle class working person who wanted protection from big business. Today’s Democrat can come from a variety of socio-economic positions. The Party ranges from the 1) secular progressives, usually affluent people who feel there is no moral right or wrong; 2) blue collar workers left over in the Party from the prior positions of the Party – these are the folks Obama referred to as “bitter”; 3) immigrants, both illegal and legal who are looking for a perceived better life; and 4) highly educated individuals who tend to be academics and who are pursuing the “I know what is best for you” agenda – these people truly believe that they are much smarter than the rest of us, therefore they need to tell us how to live our lives.

The Democratic Party hierarchy is filled with the “I know what is best for you folks” crowd, now led by Barack Obama, and this group, many who are also secular progressive, have decided that what is best for its party members and the independents, Republicans, and other assorted groups is to conserve and to go global. They want us to embrace the European lifestyle, have no confrontation with other nations – just let them be and all will be well, eat less, and ride our bicycles instead of driving. They have embraced the as yet unproved theorem that man is causing global warming, and yet they want us to make saving the planet our highest priority and that we must pay any price to accomplish this. Now just for a minute, let’s look at how this position affects the other Democratic Party members and the non-enlightened members of other parties and independents.

The blue collar crowd and immigrants, both legal and illegal, are being pounded by gas prices, food prices, health, and education expenses. To combat the perception that the Party does not care about these groups in its quest for European equalization, the Party has adopted a very socialistic view – let’s “villanize” corporations, especially big oil, the military, and any group that has the audacity to believe in any other policy than they do. The Democratic Party has embraced, even more than its historical positions, the take from the rich and give to the poor approach. Of course, they have to keep redefining the rich to accomplish this. If they do not take this position, then the elites in the Party will find that they will have lost the rank and file due to the policies of the Party – remember the pain of the expense of oil, food, etc. due to the march to save the planet from global warming. Also remember that taking from the rich and giving to the poor deprives this economy of the initiative to succeed and is self defeating in the long run.

This energy struggle is really about using today’s high cost of oil and the future high cost of oil to move this country off oil and toward incredibly expensive renewable energy before it is ready. While the drilling for oil today and tomorrow; and becoming self sufficient for energy will not immediately lower prices, it will mitigate the cost of energy, all types, in the years ahead as the world increases energy demand to 146%, of what it is today, by 2030 – EIA is the source. They do not want the U.S. to drill now and drill here because it interferes with their view of the future. They are not concerned about the impact of immediately moving to expensive renewable energy, before it is ready, done by restricting access to domestic oil and gas. They are not concerned that this method will negatively impact this nation by undermining our economy before we reach the utopia of 100% renewable energy. This premature move will make us dangerously vulnerable to foreign powers; and will make these foreign powers even richer and more powerful than then they have become today due to oil.

This Democratic Party Hidden Energy policy does not take into consideration that hybrid vehicles, and solar arrays are out of the price reach of many of their rank and file, as well as many other Americans due to the pain at the pump and other forces squeezing their wallets. It does not consider that hydrogen vehicles and electric cars are still experimental and when ready will also be priced out of reach for these people. They do not consider that the SUV and pickup owners along with the home heating oil consumers in this country cannot easily exchange their vehicles for the hybrids, or their equipment for solar heating because it is too expensive to do so.

Let’s remember that the Republican Party has offered no real energy solutions or any plan for energy either. The Republicans are not as smarmy as the Democratic elites about energy. If fact, they are pretty transparent about not addressing this problem either. They are just more straight forward about their incompetence.

This country needs a comprehensive energy policy now. It should cover how we transition from fossil fuel to renewable energy. It should cover how drilling here and drilling now will strengthen our economy. It should cover how drilling here and drilling now will add good paying jobs to the economy. It should cover how we develop and initiate renewable energy in an energy matrix that includes all other forms of energy. Unless we choose to become a second tier society, as Europe has chosen, saving our economy does trump the attention paid to global warming. We can do both, but a blended plan is required.

Energy independence early on from oil and natural gas and transitioning through 2030 to mostly renewable energy will keep us from sending more than $500,000,000,000 – yes Five Hundred Billion – to other nations annually to acquire replacement oil for the oil we are currently sitting on. Sending this much money to foreign powers each year has undermined and is undermining our economy, our standard of living, and our security in the world. If Norway, a “clean” nation, can drill off shore for energy independence, and France and Sweden can use nuclear power for their version of energy independence, we can have our own march toward energy independence starting with drilling everywhere and finishing with renewable energy to burn so to speak. If the Democrats and the Republicans representing you in Congress do not want to build a comprehensive national security saving, economy saving, and environment saving energy plan covering the energy transition of this nation through 2030, then you are represented by the wrong person. Think about that in November.

Added June 22, 2008 9:33 PM MST- Arizona

The following is information from the American Petroleum Institute that refutes the claims by most Democratic politicians and Democratic strategists that the oil companies have 68 million leased acres to drill on and that they should drill on these leases first. This refrain from the left to make arguments against drilling falls into the hidden agenda. Here are questions and answers to the leases about why drilling takes place or not. The API makes a lot more sense then these reckless individuals who will spout just about anything to prevent drilling.

The facts about non-producing federal leases:

CLAIM: Oil and natural gas companies are given leases by the government and purposely don’t produce from them to increase prices.

FACT: Companies pay billions of dollars for the right to explore on federal lands. If the company does not produce within the lease term, it must give the lease back to the government, and the company does not recover the billions of dollars it may have invested.

CLAIM: Companies let many of their leases sit idle and don’t produce them

FACT: Companies actively develop their leases – but not every lease contains oil or natural gas in commercial quantities. In many cases, the so-called “idle leases” are not idle at all; they are under geologic evaluation or in development and could be an important source of domestic supply. However, this does not mean all leases have the potential to produce. Companies can evaluate leases for several years only to determine that they do not contain oil or natural gas in commercial quantities. The road to bring the oil and natural gas to market — obtaining the lease, evaluation, exploration and production — is a long and complicated one.

CLAIM: If the lease doesn’t contain oil or natural gas, then the company shouldn’t have bought it.

FACT: There are tremendous risks and challenges involved in finding and producing oil and natural gas. There is no guarantee that a lease will even contain hydrocarbons. It is not unusual for a company to spend in excess of $100 million only to drill a dry hole. A company usually has only has limited knowledge of resource potential when it buys a lease. Only after the lease is acquired, will the company be in the position to evaluate it, usually with a very costly seismic survey followed by an exploration well.

CLAIM: There’s absolutely no reason for a company not to produce if it finds oil or gas on the lease.

FACT: If the company finds resources in commercial quantities, it will produce the lease. But there can sometimes be delays – often as long as seven to 10 years – for environmental and engineering studies, to acquire permits, install production facilities (or platforms for offshore leases) and build the necessary infrastructure to bring the resources to market. Litigation, landowner disputes and regulatory hurdles can also delay the process.

CLAIM: The vast majority of federal and gas resources are already available for development.

FACT: In the Lower 48 states, about 85 percent of the Outer Continental Shelf and 67 percent of onshore federal lands are off-limits or facing significant restrictions to development. There is no way, at this stage, to determine exactly the extent of the resources off-limits because many of these areas have not been subject to inventory studies in decades.

CLAIM: Non-producing leases could provide a major source of new supplies.

FACT: Many of these leases will provide a major source of new domestic supply once they are developed. Companies are actively developing the leases, and in addition to paying for the lease, they must also pay rent to the government while they conduct development and exploration efforts. But this process takes time. Reducing the time companies have to develop a lease or increasing the costs imposed by government will not increase supply for American consumers. Nor will denying access to areas of oil and natural gas potential like the Atlantic and Pacific OCS.

CLAIM: Increased domestic drilling activity has not led to lower gasoline prices, and more leases and drilling won’t help either.

FACT: Our nation needs more supplies of all forms of energy, including domestic oil and natural gas, to meet its growing energy demand. Increased drilling has helped the United States offset the natural declines in domestic oil and natural gas production from older fields. Greater drilling activity tends to produce more supply. Fundamental economics suggest that additional supplies put downward pressure on prices.

CLAIM: Companies should be penalized for not producing from their leases.

FACT: Oil and gas companies take all the risk with federal leases. Not only do they pay billions to obtain leases, they pay to hold them while they are spending even more capital to determine if these leases contain resources. Penalties on leaseholders on top of those fees would only discourage U.S. exploration and production, at a time when the United States needs all the energy it can get.

Added June 24, 2008:

You will hear that it takes 10 years to bring oil to the gas pump – the answer according to the American Petroleum Institute is 7 to 10 years depending on location and infrastructure. Now the rhetoric has been heightened by the left . Tom Daschle on Fox News Sunday, June 22, 2008, stated that oil from new drilling would not be available until 2030. As this is outright intentional misinformation, it supports the argument that the left has a hidden agenda.

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I am a citizen of the United States and take my PRIVILEGE to vote with profound awareness that more than half the world’s population does not have the same right to vote, in a truly free and democratic way, to pick their leaders. It is also a RIGHT bestowed upon citizens of this Nation by our founding fathers. This sacred right and privilege has been protected for the citizens of this Nation by the blood of millions of defenders of our Nation’s sovereignty. Protecting the integrity of the voting process by seeking proof that a person attempting to vote in an election has been granted this privilege just adds value to the privilege. Why then do we have an argument that we need to let anyone showing up to vote, vote? Shouldn’t we ensure that the person attempting to vote has been granted this sacred privilege as well; otherwise it is no longer a sacred privilege?

Excerpts found below are from a recent article in the Washington Post by Robert Barnes titled: High Court Upholds Indiana Law On Voter ID
6-3 Ruling Calls Measure Reasonable to Fight Fraud

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/04/28/AR2008042800968.html?hpid=moreheadlines

“The Supreme Court ruled yesterday that states may require voters to present photo identification before casting ballots, opening the way for wider adoption of a measure that Republicans say combats fraud and Democrats say discourages voting among the elderly and the poor.

The court ruled 6 to 3 that the requirements enacted by Indiana’s legislature were not enough of a burden to violate the Constitution. Because the law, which requires specific government-issued identification such as driver’s licenses or passports, is generally regarded as the nation’s strictest such measure, the ruling bodes well for other states that require photo ID and for states that are considering doing so…”

What is important about this opinion is the vote. It was 6 to 3. This means that a swing voter and a usually liberal voter both voted to uphold the law. The main consenting opinion was written by Justice Stevens, who is usually considered a liberal justice. According to the article he wrote: “The application of the statute to the vast majority of Indiana voters is amply justified by the valid interest in protecting the integrity and reliability of the electoral process,” he (Barnes) wrote.

“Three liberal justices — David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer — dissented. ‘Indiana’s ‘Voter ID Law’ threatens to impose nontrivial burdens on the voting right of tens of thousands of the state’s citizens and a significant percentage of those individuals are likely to be deterred from voting,’ wrote (Justice) Souter, whose opinion was joined by Ginsburg…”

This reasoning reeks of ideology and not a matter of rights and law. Today, we show valid picture identification to open bank accounts, obtain employment, rent a movie, and often to use a credit card. Obtaining a valid ID in Indiana is absolutely free, and all you need to do is to demonstrate that you have been granted the privilege to vote by our founding fathers. The article further states:“…But Democrats and civil rights groups say that millions of Americans lack the type of identification that Indiana requires, and that such laws discourage or even disenfranchise people who are least likely to have driver’s licenses or passports: the poor, the elderly, the disabled and urban dwellers…” These Democrats and civil rights groups fail to state that the reason these people lack the necessary type of identification required is that they never had it in the first place – I dare to guess that perhaps they are not citizens? The Democrats want to dilute and even negate the privilege of voting for their own benefit and this is certainly not in keeping with the intention of the founding fathers. Those on the no ID side do not hold the vote as sacred – it is merely a tool to social change. The more people voting without the demonstrated right to vote, the better the chance to have a fraudulent majority and to make the social changes they seek.

It used to be that dead and imprisoned people voted regularly. I believe that this still occurs, but the problem has swelled with the addition of 12 to 20 million illegal immigrants, and the huge numbers of people who are in this country with visas of differing types, who are also NOT entitled to vote.

The arguments against this law and the ruling validating it are not about voter disenfranchisement and its effect on the poor and elderly. The argument is that one side does not view the right to vote with the same awe and sacred nature as the other side. If something is sacred and limited to those who qualify, should safeguards be in place to ensure that it remains sacred and limited? Isn’t this self-evident? If civil rights groups and Democrats want to be sure no one is disenfranchised, then they should institute a program to help these folks obtain the correct ID, so they can exercise their 219 year old sacred, limited right.

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