Wednesday, June 18, 2008

I am Not Better Off than I was Before

I am not better off than I was 2 years ago:

I commute to work and I cannot afford $4.59/gal of gas

I have a home whose value has decreased by 10%

My son-in-law is being deployed to Iraq

My son is a cosmetics product line manager and has seen his sales decrease by 20-25% as a result of the economic downturn

My stock portfolio recently went from 20% return in 2006 to a minus 10% -- no changes being made to the stocks

No, I am not better off than I was 2 years ago and it is Republican policies that have caused this mess.


End Unregulated Speculation in Oil

I am posting this article by Dick Morris re Oil Prices and urge measures to end unregulated speculation in oil. Why? I cannot afford to drive my car anymore.


OIL PRICES: '08’S DEFINING ISSUEBy DICK MORRISPublished on on June 17, 2008.
Printer-Friendly VersionGas prices are the first important issue in the 2008 elections. But both parties have been pathetic in their solutions and, one suspects, in their understanding of what is going on.Democrats call for windfall profits taxes. Bad idea. How can you get oil companies to explore and drill if you tax away their profits? Republicans focus on a gas tax “holiday,” an 18-cent palliative to gas prices that now top $4.50.Fadel Gheit, managing director of oil and gas research for Oppenheimer and Co., and Jim Norman, author of the book The Oil Card, coming out next month, say that speculation is responsible for a huge part of the run-up in prices.The growing demand for oil by India and China and the instability of oil supplies certainly account for much of the increase. But the recent spike, they say, is equally due to the weakness of the dollar and massive speculation.

They argue that oil prices are, indeed, determined by supply and demand — not only the supply and demand for oil, but also the supply and demand for oil futures. (Oil futures are a commitment to buy 1,000 barrels of oil at a certain date at a certain price.)Formerly, most of the investments in oil futures came from energy companies. The federal Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) sharply limited investments by those outside the business, to prevent precisely the kind of speculation now gripping the market.But when the stock market slowed down in 2000–2002, outside investors decided to speculate in oil futures.The new players were institutional investors like corporate and government pension funds, sovereign wealth funds, university endowments and other investors, guided by brokerage firms like Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs.To avoid the CFTC caps, these investors moved their operations to London, setting up the International Commodities Exchange. Now they can buy all the oil futures they want.Michael W. Masters, of Masters Capital Management, told Congress that the volume of investment in commodities futures soared from $13 billion at the end of 2003 to $260 billion by March of 2008.After a while, the CFTC rescinded its limits on how much speculators could buy as long as they went through special “swap” desks at the major brokerage houses.You can buy oil futures for only 5 percent down on margin, a bargain considering the 50 percent margin requirement for stock market equity investments. Because the margin requirement on oil futures rises as the due date approaches, few investors actually end up buying the oil; they just roll over their investments.So the willingness of sellers to unload their oil futures, and of buyers to acquire them, sets up its own market of supply and demand that has more to do with determining the actual price of oil than even the global demand and supply for the product itself.On May 20 of this year, Masters told Congress: “Commodities futures prices are the benchmark for the prices of actual physical commodities, so when index speculators drive futures prices higher, the effects are felt immediately in spot prices and the real economy. So there is a direct link between commodities futures prices and the prices your constituents are paying for essential goods.”Gheit and Norman suggest that the CFTC regulate the domestic oil futures market (NYMEX) and the participation of U.S. companies in the ICE, restoring the caps on the amount of oil futures speculators can buy. Gheit also urges raising margin requirements for them.Both worry that the oil futures bubble is going to burst and cost a lot of investors — particularly pension funds who channel their investments through the swap desks of the brokerage houses. We don’t need another sub-prime or savings-and-loan crisis on our hands right now.

The Senate recently tried to force CFTC regulation of all commodities speculators, but the bill was loaded down with a windfall profits tax, so the Republicans killed it.John McCain needs to get with this program. In his town hall meeting in New York City last Thursday night, he attacked speculators for driving up oil prices but didn’t propose remedies or really explain the problem.Americans will pay close attention if he does.

Monday, August 06, 2007

The Ongoing Saga of the Do Little Record, August 6, 2007

Recent House Votes

Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007 - Vote Passed (411-8, 13 Not Voting)The House passed this bill that would provide greater transparency in the legislative process.Rep. John Doolittle voted YES

Children’s Health and Medicare Protection Act of 2007 - Vote Passed (225-204, 4 Not Voting)The House voted for this bill that would expand the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, adding up to 5 million children to the program.Rep. John Doolittle voted NO

Ensuring Military Readiness Through Stability and Predictability Deployment Policy Act - Vote Passed (229-194, 3 Present, 6 Not Voting)This House passed bill calls for U.S. soldiers to spend an equal amount of time between combat and home.Rep. John Doolittle voted NO [How would he empathize with something like this?]

New Direction for Energy Independence, National Security, and Consumer Protection Act - Vote Passed (241-172, 20 Not Voting)The House passed this bill that would require utility companies to produce 15 percent of their electricity from wind, solar power and other renewable sources and calls for the gradual reduction of using fossil fuels to generate electricity.Rep. John Doolittle voted NO

Protect America Act - Vote Passed (227-182, 23 Not Voting)The House passed this bill which would temporarily expand the executive branch’s authority to spy on suspected foreign terrorists without a court order, when communications are passing through the U.S.Rep. John Doolittle voted YES

Defense Appropriations Act, FY 2008 - Vote Passed (395-13, 24 Not Voting)The House passed this $459.6 billion appropriations bill for the Department of Defense.Rep. John Doolittle voted YES

Thursday, August 02, 2007

The Doolittle Record, July 30, 2007

Recent House Votes

Departments of Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies Appropriations, FY 2008 - Vote Passed (268-153, 10 Not Voting)

The House passed this $104.4 billion bill that would fund the Department of Transportation and Department of Housing and Urban Development for the 2008 fiscal year.

Rep. John Doolittle voted YES......send e-mail or see bio

Departments of Commerce and Justice, and Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations for FY 2008 - Vote Passed (281-142, 9 Not Voting)

The House passed this $53.6 billion bill that would fund the Department of Commerce, Department of Justice, NASA and other science agencies.

Rep. John Doolittle voted NO......send e-mail or see bio

Farm, Nutrition, and Bioenergy Act - Vote Passed (231-191, 10 Not Voting)

The House passed this large farm bill, which provides aid for farmers and funds for low-income nutrition programs.

Rep. John Doolittle voted NO......send e-mail or see bio

Improving America's Security Act of 2007 - Vote Passed (371-40, 22 Not Voting)

The House passed this bill which would implement recommendations from the 9/11 Commission.

Rep. John Doolittle voted YES......send e-mail or see bio

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Do Little and His Friends are Running Out of Money

US congressman under federal scrutiny runs low on campaign cash and heavily in debt
JENNIFER TALHELM Associated Press Writer

(AP) - WASHINGTON-The predicament of a Republican member of Congress, who is dogged by legal problems and running low on campaign cash, is giving Democrats hope that they can take over his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in November's elections.

Rep. Rick Renzi, whose family business was raided by the FBI last April, ended the last quarter with $20,418 (€14,816) in the bank, according to campaign finance reports covering April 1-June 30. That is just one-quarter of the $80,000 (€58,050) he had on hand at the end of the first three months of the year.

He raised $41,664 (€30,233) during the quarter, a fraction of the $300,000 (€217,691) he raised during the corresponding period in the last election cycle.

The report, filed Sunday with the Federal Election Commission, showed Renzi has spent $126,388 (€91,711.78) and owes $456,024 (€330,907.77).

Renzi's office did not immediately respond to telephone and e-mail requests for comment Monday.

Of the half-dozen Republican House members under some form of federal scrutiny, party leaders are most worried about allegations concerning Renzi and Rep. John Doolittle, their colleagues say.

Doolittle, left the powerful House Appropriations Committee in April after FBI agents raided his Washington-area home. His wife, Julie, ran a business from the home in which she received commissions as a paid fundraiser for her husband's campaigns. Her clients included now-jailed GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Doolittle's fundraising also has slowed. The nine-term conservative reported raising $100,183 (€72,696) from April 1 through June 30, $50,000 (€36,282) less than in the same period during the last election cycle. He had legal fees of $30,000 (€21,769) regarding the Abramoff investigation, ending the quarter with $74,383 (€53,975) cash on hand and debts of $106,633 (€77,377).

Doolittle narrowly beat Democrat Charlie Brown last year, and Brown, who wants a rematch, is far ahead in the money race. Brown raised $193,238 (€140,221) from April 1-June 30, ending with $268,574 (€194,887) cash on hand and debts of just about $17,000 (€12,336). Doolittle says he intends to run for re-election.

Renzi has been shadowed by ethical questions for several years but held onto his seat. They came to a head in mid-April when federal officials, investigating a multimillion-dollar land deal that benefited a Renzi associate, raided a Sonoita, Arizona, insurance business owned by Renzi's wife, Roberta.

The status of the investigation is unclear. In past statements, Renzi has denied all wrongdoing.

On the day of the raid, he stepped down temporarily from the House Intelligence Committee. A few days later, he took a leave of absence from the House Financial Services and Natural Resources committees.

Since then, several Democrats, including state Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, have expressed interest in running for his seat in 2008.

While Renzi has insisted that he is not resigning his House seat, it is unclear whether he will seek re-election.


Associated Press Writer Erica Werner contributed to this report.


Tuesday, July 03, 2007

The Do Little Record

Recent House Votes

Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations, FY 2008 - Vote Passed (272-155, 5 Not Voting)

The House passed this $27.6 billion bill that would fund the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Interior, the Forest Service and the Indian Health Service for the 2008 fiscal year.

Rep. John Doolittle voted NO......THAT'S A SURPRISE... LOL

Financial Services and General Government Appropriations, FY 2008 - Vote Passed (240-179, 13 Not Voting)

The House passed this $21.4 billion bill that would fund the Department of Treasury, the Executive office, the Judiciary, the District of Columbia and independent agencies for the 2008 fiscal year.

Rep. John Doolittle voted YES

Monday, June 18, 2007

The Do Little Record

Recent House Votes -- Do Little's Record

June 18, 2007

Homeland Security Appropriations, FY2008 - Vote Passed (268-150, 14 Not Voting)

The House passed this $37.4 billion bill that would fund the Department of Homeland Security for the 2008 fiscal year.



June 9, 2007

Recent House Votes

Ethics Committee Investigations - Vote Passed (387-10, 15 Present, 20 Not Voting)

The House adopted this resolution directing the Ethics committee to begin an investigation within 30 days of a lawmaker's indictment.

Rep. John Doolittle voted NO (IS THAT A SURPRISE OR IS THAT A SURPRISE?--Gonzalo)

Afghanistan Freedom and Security Support Act - Vote Passed (406-10, 16 Not Voting)

This $6.4 billion Afghanistan aid bill would cut off funds to local Afghani governments with ties to criminals, drug dealers or terrorists.

Rep. John Doolittle voted YES

Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act - Vote Passed (247-176, 10 Not Voting)

The House voted to expand federal funding of embryonic stem cell research.

Rep. John Doolittle voted NO

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Doolittle Has Head in Sand--and Hands in our Pockets

Well, Charlie is off and running and so should we ... it is a disgrace to have Do Little be our representative.


It’s time you knew the truth: Your Congressman, John Doolittle, has his head in the sand when it comes to global warming and its impact on the survival of wildlife you and I treasure.

Tell your Representative to get his head out of the sand and get on board with a common-sense energy policy that protects our wildlife, environment and national security.

Despite the overwhelming scientific consensus and looming threat, Representative Doolittle continues to support the short-sighted head-in-the-sand energy policy favored by big-money lobbyists for polluting industries -- all at the expense of wildlife, future generations and our national security.

Why? Maybe it’s because Doolittle has taken $128,000 from the big oil companies making huge profits off high gas prices.

No surprise there. Doolittle has been named one of the 20 most corrupt Members of Congress by the Center for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW). John Doolittle is under federal investigation for his ties to convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Doolittle not only arranged a job for his wife with Abramoff, but also paid her more than $200,000 in a series of fundraising scams the Sacramento Bee called, “ethically bankrupt.”

And he’s continued to toe the line for his Big Oil contributors, voting to protect billions in tax breaks for oil and gas companies and against common-sense long-term clean energy solutions for the country.

Despite the urgency of global warming, Congressman Doolittle has marched lock-step with his Big Oil benefactors as our wildlife pays the price.

Polar bears are drowning or even resorting to cannibalism as the early effects of global warming rob them of needed habitat and they struggle to find enough to eat. The North Carolina home to some of the world’s only remaining red wolves is threatened by rising sea levels caused by global warming. And droughts in the northern prairie wetlands region could cut the region’s breeding duck populations in half.

It’s past time for your Representative to pull his head out of the sand! Urge him to stop denying the reality of global warming and start supporting common-sense, affordable solutions to deal with this crisis.

Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund is turning the spotlight on Congressman Doolittle and his Big Oil benefactors because they continue to push an agenda that includes more subsidies for companies that contribute to global warming, more dirty drilling that wrecks wildlife habitat and an environmentally reckless energy policy that sacrifices our natural treasures for the sake of windfall corporate profits.

Starting today, we're educating his constituents, running radio ads, launching a new website and urging wildlife supporters like you to hold him accountable for his head-in-the-sand approach to global warming.

Representative Doolittle has buried his head in the sand for far too long, but he can’t bury the truth about his efforts to block global warming solutions. Please help us hold him accountable... send your message now.

Rodger Schlickeisen
PresidentDefenders of Wildlife Action Fund