Friday, September 19, 2008

Always a Follower, Never a Leader

Rep. John Shimkus (IL-19) famously supports Pres. George Bush, his Commander Guy, without question. Everyone knows John lauds himself as a fiscal conservative supporting a free market (although it has always been something of an oxymoron). As of this week, the era of the unbridled free-market economy in the US has passed. The bill comes due.

Everyone is losing money by the buckets. Many have called it a recession. That was months ago. This county has been in a depression for several weeks, and Bear Stearns was the catalyst.

Presidents come and go. They mean nothing to Wall Street. Zero impact on the district. The impact to the middle- and low-income classes is beyond significant:

The beloved trader bar Bull Run was half empty, and many tables were free at fine-dining establishments like Cipriani, Mangia and Bobby Van's, which are normally booked days in advance.

At the side entrance to Goldman Sachs on Pearl Street, limo chauffeurs sat waiting for their customers, still above in their office towers cowering over the accounts. If they go under, said Rashid Amal, who works as a chauffeur for a firm called Excelsior, then I will soon be out of a job, too.
Commander Guy offered a more simple-minded explanation: Too many houses were built. Strangely enough, that sounds very similar to something the dubious IL-19 incumbent would say.

Recently, Joseph E. Stiglitz, a Columbia University professor and 2001 Nobel Prize recipient for Economics, told CNN that he had foreseen the Wall Street crisis. It was an inevitability to him. All the signs were visible. It is a pattern -- with solutions:
1. We need first to correct incentives for executives, reducing the scope for conflicts of interest and improving shareholder information about dilution in share value as a result of stock options. We should mitigate the incentives for excessive risk-taking and the short-term focus that has so long prevailed, for instance, by requiring bonuses to be paid on the basis of, say, five-year returns, rather than annual returns.

2. Secondly, we need to create a financial product safety commission, to make sure that products bought and sold by banks, pension funds, etc. are safe for human consumption. Consenting adults should be given great freedom to do whatever they want, but that does not mean they should gamble with other people's money. Some may worry that this may stifle innovation. But that may be a good thing considering the kind of innovation we had -- attempting to subvert accounting and regulations. What we need is more innovation addressing the needs of ordinary Americans, so they can stay in their homes when economic conditions change.

3. We need to create a financial systems stability commission to take an overview of the entire financial system, recognizing the interrelations among the various parts, and to prevent the excessive systemic leveraging that we have just experienced.

4. We need to impose other regulations to improve the safety and soundness of our financial system, such as speed bumps to limit borrowing. Historically, rapid expansion of lending has been responsible for a large fraction of crises and this crisis is no exception.

5. We need better consumer protection laws, including laws that prevent predatory lending.

6. We need better competition laws. The financial institutions have been able to prey on consumers through credit cards partly because of the absence of competition. But even more importantly, we should not be in situations where a firm is too big to fail. If it is that big, it should be broken up.
Obviously, nothing is a quick-fix with a guarantee. Yet, reading this list: laws, regulation, oversight, etc., is the typical Democratic legislation Republicans vote against. The operative word is most certainly irony and financial historian Ron Chernow agrees. In a New York Times interview, he stated, We have the irony of a free-market administration doing things that the most liberal Democratic administration would never have been doing in its wildest dreams. Without a veto-proof, Democratic Majority in Congress, quality of life for what is left of the middle class will cease to exist.

To MBAs like Commander Guy and John Shimkus, an ECON professor with a Nobel means nothing. It is just as well. The subject is completely beyond their comprehension, education notwithstanding.

IL-19 deserves better ---> the Democratic alternative:
Daniel Davis!

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

HR 6899, Energy Security and Consumer Protection Act

Earlier today the House passed the Comprehensive American Energy Security and Consumer Protection Act (HR 6899) with a 236-189 (Roll No. 599) Democratic majority. The legislation could open large areas of U.S. coastlines to energy production.

Naturally, Rep. John Shimkus (IL-19) voted against it as did each of these Illinois Republicans who seem to care about nothing except exploitation and destruction of a fragile environment:

  • Peter Roskam (IL-06)
  • Jerry Weller (IL-11)
  • Judy Biggert (IL-13)
  • Tim Johnson (IL-15)
  • Don Manzullo (IL-16)
The other two Republicans: Rep. Mark Kirk (IL-10) and Ray LaHood voted for the legislation. The latter is packing boxes looking at a nice retirement package. The former is pretending to be bi-partisan (Many of his constituents see through his illusion!)

At a glance, HR 6899 provides the following:
  • Ensures that oil companies pay their fair share of royalties on flawed leases granted in 1998 and 1999.
  • Repeals a giveaway in the 2004 international tax bill (H.R. 4520) for the Big Five paying for critical investment in American renewable energy (H.R. 5351).
  • Releases nearly 10 percent of the oil from the government’s stockpile from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) temporarily (H.R. 6578).
  • Cracks down aggressively on the extreme misconduct at the Mineral Management Service, Department of Interior.
  • Extends and expands tax incentives for renewable energy; expands and extends tax incentives for renewable electricity, energy (i.e., solar and wind) and fuel from America’s heartland, as well as for plug-in hybrid cars, and energy efficient homes, buildings, and appliances (H.R. 5351).
  • Creates a Renewable Energy Reserve to invest in clean, renewable energy resources and alternative fuels, promote new energy technologies, develop greater efficiency and improve conservation (H.R.6).
  • Requires utility companies to generate 15 percent of electricity from renewable sources -- such as wind power, biomass, wave, tidal, geothermal and solar -- by 2020 (H.R. 3221).
  • Requires cellulosic biofuels to be produced from a highly diverse array of feedstocks.
  • Strengthens requirements that oil companies produce oil on federal lands leased for drilling during the initial term of their lease. (DRILL Act, H.R. 6515).
  • Mandates annual lease sales in the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska, which has more oil than the Arctic Wildlife Refuge; requires the Bush Administration to facilitate completion of the oil pipeline infrastructure into the Reserve and the construction of the Alaska Natural Gas Pipeline, which could create up to 100,000 jobs, while banning export of Alaskan oil outside the U.S. (DRILL Act, H.R. 6515).
  • Includes incentives and financing mechanisms for installing natural gas pumps in service stations and homes; requires service stations owned by Big Oil to install at least one alternative fuel pump (i.e., natural gas, E-85).
  • Advances the development and deployment of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies to come up with a cleaner way to use coal.
  • Allows Utah, Wyoming, and Colorado to opt in to exploration, development, or production of federal oil shale reserves if the state decides to move forward with the leases.
  • Saves consumers approximately $210 billion in energy costs through 2030 by updating energy codes for new buildings (H.R. 3221).
  • Provides incentives to lenders and financial institutions to provide lower interest loans to consumers who build, buy or remodel their homes to improve their energy efficiency(H.R. 6078).
  • Reduces transit fares for commuter rail and buses and expands service so that the average commuter can save up to $8,000 a year riding public transit according to current gas prices.
Areas remaining off-limits to petroleum companies include the eastern Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Florida and the historic Georges Bank fishery in New England. Also, there are no provisions for the states to receive any royalties. Their additional revenue would come from the employee salaries.

Instead of voting for this legislation, John Shimkus stated the following:
Drill, baby, drill. Here's the Outer Continental Shelf. They want to only to do 20 percent, maybe. They can't even get an agreement on what they want. This whole area should be open for exploration recovery of oil and gas in our country to help decrease our reliance on imported crude oil and lower prices, and they don't have a clue. They'll continue to say no to oil and gas exploration.

They won't even address coal as part of the solution. Coal is the greatest resource we have in this country.

I want to drill, baby, drill, and I want to mine coal.
This is good compromising legislation. He received a provision for coal in addition to the drilling for oil and gas. He is still not satisfied. Maybe when the Earth is a barren wasteland he will be. Voters have to remove him from office leaving him thoroughly unsatisfied first.

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Saturday, September 06, 2008

Too Much John Shimkus Kool-Aid

Once upon a time, the Rich Miller used his Capitol Fax Blog to pose this Question of the Day as was a two-parter and provide an explanation with your responses:

Who is your favorite Illinois Republican?

Who is your least favorite Illinois Republican?

The John Shimkus name appeared a few times. Here is everything that published. The kool-aid-laced supporting comments continue to boggle the mind. They prove that his supporters live in a drug-induced fantasy land, and they either refuse or cannot see him for the man he truly has become.

  • Anon - Thursday, Sep 4, 08 @ 11:00 am:
John Shimkus - Straight talker - tireless worker.
[Only for his favorite constituents is John a tireless worker. He refuses to lift a finger for anyone not on his near and dear list. When he does work (like he is now tirelessly for his coal industry constituents, it is time to cringe.]
  • Philosophe Forum - Thursday, Sep 4, 08 @ 11:13 am:
Least Favorite: John Shimkus (IL-19) — For a myriad of reasons: wimp, hypocrite, liar, the great protector of sexual predators, etc. I would pick Tim Johnson (IL-15) since he largely does nothing except show up for a vote and collect his very generous paycheck compliments of the taxpayers except Shimkus is worse. He opens he mouth and becomes an embarrassment to IL-19 and all of Illinois.
  • Miranda - Thursday, Sep 4, 08 @ 11:28 am:
Favorite politician - John Shimkus, hands down. When I was a journalism intern just starting out, John was the only guy who would actually sit down with me and explain things to me, not just give me pat answers. I watched him over the years switch into high school government teacher mode numerous times to help me understand the whole government process, not caring about the politician stuff. Genuine, nice, always ready to help me out when I needed it. He’s not just my favorite Republican, but favorite politician, hands down.
[John was supposed to be a Lutheran minister. School teacher is just an extension of that. He has voted present and lies about it while teaching children. He learned his political skills from a masterful former Illinois governor and current jailbird. He learned so well that he and his staff have skirted federal time.]
  • Ken - Thursday, Sep 4, 08 @ 11:42 am:
John Shimkus favorite. Honest, open, extremely hard working for his district constituents.
[Only because he pretends well.]
  • Vote Quimby! - Thursday, Sep 4, 08 @ 11:58 am:
Least fav: Toss-up between Shimkus (how many terms did he limit himself to change Washington?)
  • BIG R.PH. - Thursday, Sep 4, 08 @ 12:38 pm:
Favorites: Shimkus, Frank Watson, Ron Stephens. All Straight Shooters. Don't always vote your way but always willing to listen.
[John is willing to listen depending on who you are and which industry you represent.]
  • Ron Burgundy - Thursday, Sep 4, 08 @ 12:43 pm:
Favorite — John Shimkus. Nice, humble guy who got into politics for all the right reasons.
[John got into politics campaigning on a term limit of 12 years. He was supposed to leave December 2008. He has since decided that 12 years is not long enough. He is staying in politics for the WRONG reasons -- all selfish!]
  • Penny - Thursday, Sep 4, 08 @ 12:51 pm:
I can't think of any I like. I have been away for 15 years, am back for 2, and have become conservative. The IL GOP is horribly vacant of ideas.
Faves: John Shimkus=okay; Jack Ryan (should be a senator now); Peter Fitzgerald
[A classic example of the cluelessness that keeps re-electing John!]
  • Bud Man - Thursday, Sep 4, 08 @ 2:53 pm:
Current: Shimkus
Least Favorite: John Shimkus (IL-19) — For a myriad of reasons: wimp — I wouldn't say he is a wimp - he was in Rangers and Airborne in the Army.
[Actually, XO of a unit for a few years in the Fulda Gap in Germany in the 1980s qualifies John for not much of anything. He had a life expectancy of 7 minutes like everyone else. He did his mandatory 6 years, spent the rest of his 32 years as a weekend warrior, did not wait another 3 years to retire at the full 35 years like all the other officers. His current record of protecting sexual predators, not caring about it, and blaming seniors for the deficit says the most about his true integrity -- WIMP!]
  • Not Quite SoIL - Thursday, Sep 4, 08 @ 5:49 pm:
Least Favorite: John Shimkus-Has overstayed his welcome and become a sell out to the Bush wing of the Republican Party….not to mention covering up the sins of his elders.
[This commenter sees the real John Shimkus!]
  • left of here - Thursday, Sep 4, 08 @ 6:05 pm:
Least Fav–tough call several years ago it would have been Ron Stephens, hands down,not because of his drug habit or marital issues, I did not like him before I knew about those issues. Today it has to be Shimkus…a weasel and a weak man. He has sold out to DC and the pagan gods that control the city.
[True, true -- every word!]

At least they are an excuse to laugh well, laugh often. For others, they should be an excuse to vote and vehemently support the Democratic alternative -- Daniel Davis. Illinois cannot afford another 2 years of of a man who had promised to leave Congress in December 2008!

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