Sunday, December 18, 2011

GOP Presidential Contestant Nomination: How’s Your Favorite Candidate doing?

Keywords or Terms: GOP Presidential Aspirants; US Tax Code; Facebook; Twitter; Emails; Efficacy of Social Media; Apolitical; FOX News; MSNBC; 24/7 Internet; Herman Cain; Rick Perry; Newt Gingrich; Voters’ Campaign Contribution; Republican Aspirants; Choices and Choices.

Party Presidential Campaigns and Nominations, are both blessings and curses for any aspirant and contestant for the highest office in the land. Aspirants need to have enough money in the kitty bank to go the length of the campaign period and probably the national election. Further, aspirants and contestants have to be ready for sleepless nights of road travels and a tough skin for criticisms from comic pundits and road show clowns. Notwithstanding, there is hardly no short list of aspirants or contestants for party nomination.

Personal, face to face and retail campaigns at the grassroots, including door gobbing, is getting some competition from social media, face book, twitter, emails and video-conferencing, among others in the GOP Presidential Nomination for 2012 general elections. GOP 2012 Presidential aspirants and contestants are introducing other outreach campaign strategies to garner votes for their aspirations, out of necessity. Some pundits are already proclaiming that non-conventional ways of reaching the voters are advisable considering the challenge of raising funds for Presidential campaigns in a tough economy; and, winning voters’ attention in a multimedia world of 24/7 Internet connections and cable television beaming, where voters’ attention is now considered precious as gold. Today, Republican aspirants who are short for time and low on campaign cash are resorting heavily to social media to accomplish the same objective of retail campaign; whether this strategy will bring home enough support for their candidacy is yet to be determined. The jury on the efficacy of using social media or other new outreach campaign strategies for garnering votes for Party Presidential nomination, is still out.

Until Obama 2008 Democratic Party Nomination exercise came along, using a combination of social media and retail campaign, fondly referred to as house parties or community organizing, was hardly a favorite for Presidential aspirants. The traditional lure for what has conventionally worked as a silver bullet, retail campaign, face-to-face, door to door, hand shakes and smile, was ingrained in the repertoire of political aspirants, nationally and locally. Obama’s 2008 Presidential candidacy challenged the status quo and brought into the fold more voters, especially minorities and young folks, who seem to have been disenfranchised in past elections. Newt Gingrich, the 2012 GOP aspirants for nomination and former speaker of the House, is said to be currently bulking the trend as well out of necessity; low funds and probably the most illiquid campaign office structure in probably half a century in Presidential Candidate Party Nomination.

In the past few centuries, Party Presidential aspirants relied on leaflets, travels for face to face campaigns in addition to various media, Newspapers, Radio and Television advertisements, to carry out their message of ambition. The revolution in communication technology, especially electronic technology, has made it imperative for politicians to seek votes and campaign contributions through alternative sources of contact; hence, you see a bunch of political questions regarding an aspirant on your Facebook Page; even when you are apolitical or hardly connected to a particular major party in America.

The new game in American Political Campaigns for office is to reach the campaign contributors and voters at all cost, with probably the minimal cost; or maximum impact, if possible. In fact, it is not a question of possibility; rather it is a question of survival in a contest, where money or size of campaign contributions can determine who reaches the finish line; and or, end up being the final nominee to face the opposing party's candidate in the general elections. GOP Presidential Aspirants for 2012 are increasingly weighing the tangibles against the intangibles in their effort to reach supporters and voters. Further, in a world of scarce monetary campaign contributions, GOP Presidential aspirants for 2012 are finding short cuts to meeting the campaign contribution shortcomings and the challenges of reaching voters with individual aspirant’s message.

Some GOP Presidential Aspirants for 2012 have cultivated new strategies for staying ahead of their competition, with press conferences and releases, face time on ‘talk-head’ Radio and television shows or programs on Fox and MSNBC. Interestingly, early measures of their expectations seem to be getting positive result or appreciative impacts. Valuable air time for some Republican aspirants on some informational and probably propaganda programs, supported by PAC or unidentified organizations on FOX Television has been identified as the reason why some GOP Presidential Aspirants for 2012 elections have remained point of reference with respect to other candidatures on the Republican band wagon. For example, Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 Tax plan received appreciable airtime and attention on FOX Television before the aspirant fizzled out; same is the bravado but pepper-weight aspiration of Texas Governor Rick Perry that nearly flamed out after a couple of debate performances for the GOP 2012 Presidential Candidate's Nomination.

What an aspirant is selling is important, but so is ensuring that the message gets to the voters. A simplified new tax code proposal hardly guarantees a vote for a candidature; that is why a front runner status for any candidate means practically nothing, until Americans vote. Even straw polls at party level in a state hardly guarantee a positive result come real nomination or election time. Ask Former Godfather’s Pizza Boss, Herman Cain and current Texas Governor Rick Perry? The former once won a Florida straw poll and the latter was considered the strongest GOP Presidential Nomination for 2012 until his lackadaisical debate performance on the circuit. The challenge seems not to be a change in tactics for how the message of a prospective nominee is carried out or straw polls result taken before the actual or final voting in a state, but the substance in the message and how effectively the candidate is committed to the message.

In a party presidential nomination contest and campaign, what is more important is that voters receive favorably the message of a candidate; and retain the potency of the message till state caucus voting; and hopefully, until the general election against other party’s candidature. Many candidates don’t get the message to the voters or fail to articulate the message in a way that is appealing to voters or campaign contributors. That is why the new tax proposal from some Republican candidates for GOP nomination is moribund while others are just a fly in the oil pan. You probably heard different variations of what it will take to straighten out the complex US tax code offered by Republican candidates for GOP nomination; however, what you get out of their advancement and discussions are untested and unwholesome proposals or sound bites that make you wonder if these candidates are realistic and aware of the underpinning problems with the existing tax code.

Many voters towards the primary level for the GOP Presidential Nomination are disappointed with debate performance of their choice candidate and sometimes with the ability of the candidate to articulate his or her message on the campaign trail. A peripheral assessment of the debate performances of some of the Republican candidates for GOP nomination has shown that some of them are poor communicators, some hardly understand the expectation of voters and campaign contributors in a candidate; and are probably playing to the perceived political consultant's market assessment of what voters will support come party nomination exercise in different markets or states. If you are a republican voter and your choice candidate is not panning out, never mind, you are not alone. Many Presidential aspirants for party nomination to general election fall into an illusion of how great their message is, without actually articulating the message or carrying forth the message in an appealing format to voters either at the party’s nomination or the general elections. A candidate’s nomination message must be crisp, structured or unstructured, formal or informal, but critical enough to muster a feedback from voters without it hurting the candidate’s chances at a party’s nomination and or national general election

While clearly defined message may be critical to garner the support of a few voters or campaign contributors, some not so clearly defined messages carry weights at the party nomination level but rather unappealing to voters in a general election. When voters and or campaign money contributors assess a candidate’s message, either at the party nomination or towards a general election, they are looking at whether the message speaks to them: does it speak to their finances or lifestyle; does it speak to their preferences or purses; does it speak to their state or community specifically or in general; and sometimes, though hardly spoken, to their race, age, gender, income group and sexual preferences.

A typical voter or campaign contributor looks at his or her immediate situation or circumstance; and, weighs the message from the candidate against his or her preferences in taking a voting decision. Will the candidate’s message conflict or create tension in a voter’s personal life and finances or not? Voters and campaign contributors go through a process of unawareness of what the immediate impact of the candidate’s message is, to an awareness of it's impact in medium term; and then in the long term. Though the voter may not have all the information regarding the long term impact of the message when initially voiced by the candidate in a party’s nomination bid; a contrast from the other party’s flag bearer in a general election often ultimately opens up the message for the voter, with respect to the long term impact of the message. This type of revelation can either turn the voter away or solidify his commitment to the candidate at a general election.

Even if something is missed in the process of general campaigns and debates between the two parties' flag bearers, voters or campaign contributors eventually understand where the nominee is coming from as campaign advertisements or other non-patrician groups offer the key to the misery in the candidate’s proposal. It is possible, as the voters and campaign contributors understand eventually what the candidate is up to in his or her message, to become apprehensive and dump him or his or her message. Whenever the voters or campaign money contributor(s) become disconnected or disenchanted with the details of the message or how it is being articulated, the candidate for nomination begins to loose support and may eventually loose out in public opinion polls to the extent that he or she drops out of the nomination process or looses the general elections. Similarly, a candidate’s past or perceived inadequacy may come to hunt him or her such as we recently saw with one of the high rising candidate for GOP nomination in the months of October and early November 2011. Mr. Cain can tell you a thing or two about his experience in his bid for the GOP Presidential Nomination. Often this last reference is an aberration or is weathered out by some aspirants; however, if the perceived atrocity is contrary to overwhelming public opinion, the candidate may end up loosing out. A similar frame of reference may begrudge or deluge the current front runner for GOP nomination, former House speaker,  Newt Gingrich.

Voters or campaign contributors have to start to do their own investigation and or assessment of the candidate’s fitness for the high office. You may want to look at the past performance of the candidate in a position of executive authority or legislation in congress, or his or her performance in non-public offices. Past behavior are often predictors of future performance. Individual personal characteristics, effectiveness and motivators may help the voter or campaign contributor make a better assessment of candidate’s fitness. Relying on campaign profiles and messages alone may not be enough to determine if the candidate is worth the occupation of the oval office in the White House. Since voters and contributors are not always privileged to have the prospective aspirant fill out a bio-data survey, a pre-employment questionnaire, a cognitive assessment based on figural reasoning content, as is possible in the employment of a worker for a position in your company, voters and campaign contributors must treat individual candidate and aspirant as a future employee; considering all the possible ramification of his or her employment as a President of a corporation with 360 million shareholders and a yearly operation budget close to 250 trillion dollars. Would you put a man considered a member of a secret organization, a former spousal cheat, a revisionist, an extremist, a poor communicator or flip-lopper in the job? Are you interested in someone with lack of candor or someone liken to be less astute in your values? The choice is up to you; al you need to do is to choose more carefully!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Stock Act and Political Intelligence II: Why current provisions in the bill may not suffice?

 Keywords or Terms: Stock Act; CBS 60 Minutes; Financial Congressional Committee deliberations; Congressman Brian Baird  (D-WA) and Congresswoman Louise M. Slaughter Rep (D-NY); Congressman Tim Walz (D-MN); Equality under the Law; Congressional Retirement System; Social Security System; PPACA; Change

Provisions in the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act as introduced in 2006 are probably insufficient in 2011; considering what we now know has been going on with political intelligence, and our lawmakers. It is easier denied than corroborate; however, no one may doubt that to some extent, congressional lawmakers may have taken advantage of political intelligence for financial gains.

The new congressional interest in the Stock Act seems to have emanated from the CBS 60 Minute expose on political intelligence and the use or non-use of insider information for financial benefit by lawmakers. Even if congressional lawmakers fail to associate the new interest and multiple congressional sponsorships of the bill with CBS 60 Minute Steve Kroft’s interview, there are enough questions that need some answers; and any further foot dragging in congress will be tantamount to bridge of faith. For example, some congressmen in committee deliberations insinuated that current overwhelming interest in the act has more to do with perception of congress rather than a genuine need to have in place an effective law that prevents use of insider trading for financial benefit by congressional lawmakers; and or their cohorts.

Consequently, in the opinion of Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, Spenser Bacchus (R-Ala), this is more of a window dressing rather than an effort to ensure that lawmakers play by the same rule that all other Americans are required. Given the benefit of doubt to the Chairman’s assertion, the questions on the mind of the public include: Why are some lawmakers intrepid about the stock act restoring public confidence in congress, while others are not? Why are some lawmakers still advocating the indefensible in light of current information regarding what may have transpired with lawmakers and political intelligence? Will the current provisions in the re-introduced and probably overwhelmingly re-sponsored Stock Act in congress, suffice? Can we have congressmen abide by all the laws, other Americans are called to uphold?

Imagine, public records show that this act was first introduced by former congressman Brian Baird  (D-WA) and Congresswoman Louise M. Slaughter Rep (D-NY) in 2006; followed up by a joint press release on the Political Intelligence Disclosure Act (H.R. 5617), in March of 2008. Five years had elapsed since the august appearance of the bill in congress. The bill had gathered little or no steam since then and it appears that the bill was moribund except for the CBS 60 Minute Expose. Yet, at the new Congressional Financial Services Committee deliberations this past week, some lawmakers were hardly interested in the movement of this bill in congress; and, if they were, their actions do not match the urgency of the public’s interest. Without making flagrant and probably insupportable comments, it is more than a conviction that the public wants congress to pass the Stock Act, today, and not tomorrow or sometime else.

The notion that using political intelligence for financial gains is inappropriate and unacceptable for anyone, lawmakers or the public, is well grounded. Any effort to thwart the renewed interest and or the urgency of passing the Stock Act this time around is clearly a show of ineptitude by any lawmaker. Any insinuation that a few may be opposed to urgent consideration and passing of the bill will be considered a travesty; and probably, encroaches on the rights of all American citizens. If initial sponsors of the bill were wooed away from pressing on until something was done in congress about the bill, the fact that the public now has information regarding the potential for abuse of insider trading information, make the urgent deliberation and passing of the bill, unavoidable and paramount in the current congressional session. The same lawmakers who may have issues with the current renewed interest from some lawmakers and public may want to consider, if they were in the public’s shoes, would they allow lawmakers from abiding by the same laws they are called to uphold?

According to the new lead sponsors of the bill, five years after the first effort, Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (NY-28), Ranking Member of the House Rules Committee, and Congressman Tim Walz (MN-01), the bill is expected to prohibit insider trading on Capital Hill. Further, the bill is expected to: 1) Prohibits Members and employees of Congress from buying or selling securities, swaps, security based swaps, or commodity futures based on nonpublic information they obtain because of their status; 2) Prohibits Executive Branch employees from buying or selling securities, swaps, security based swaps, or commodity futures based on nonpublic information they obtain because of their status; 3) Prohibits those outside Congress from buying or selling securities, swaps, security based swaps, or commodity futures based on nonpublic information obtained from within Congress or the Executive Branch; 4) Prohibits Members and employees of Congress from disclosing any non-public information about any pending or prospective legislative action for investment purposes; 5) Requires Members and employees of Congress to report the purchase, sale or exchange of any stock, bond, or commodity future transaction in excess of $1,000 within 90 days.  Members and employees who choose to place their stock in holdings in blind trusts or mutual funds would be exempt from the reporting requirement; and, 6) Requires firms that specialize in “political intelligence” and that obtain their information directly from Congress to register with the House and Senate, much like lobbying firms are now required to do. The urgency of these provisions may not be over-emphasized; yet in the estimation of some congressmen, this is just a fad, an event that would soon go away, if congress takes on other objections.

The documented pace and frequency of use of insider information and probably collusion between lawmakers and lobby groups in Washington DC as exposed by CBS 60 Minutes, make one wonder whether other issues related to the use of insider information to benefit the interests of our lawmakers are not ripe for visitation or re-visitation in-depth. If it has taken us six years to appreciate the relevance of this bill for congressional responsibility and governance; how long do we expect it will take before the Act is passed into law? Do we have to wait another five years? The current steam behind the stock act must now be exploited to expand the possibilities in the Act, considering that CBS 60 Minutes raised some issues that interest many members of the public. Although, it seems that a few lawmakers are unfazed with the findings of CBS News network, it is hardly impossible to justify any action that may derail the renewed interest in the Act. Two certainties at this time forward are: 1) the practice of using political intelligence for the benefit of a few is poaching and hardly portrays leadership in lawmaking; 2) any action that gives anyone an undue advantage over the rest of us, is cheating and must be eliminated in the interest of fairness.

In light of the trepidation from some lawmakers, how can we ensure that the current provisions in the Stock Act are sufficient enough to address the question of abuse or potential abuse? According to Steve Kroft of CBS 60 Minute: Political intelligence employs former Congressmen and staffers to scour the halls of the Capital gathering valuable non-public information then selling it to hedge funds and traders on Wall Street who can trade on it long before it’s public.” If this assertion is true, how can we expect lawmakers who had benefitted financially and tremendously from the past slackness, to give up their bread and butter? Is it any reason, why congress is considered a millionaire’s club?  If the public expect to wrestle from the rich, their source of largesse’s, they must be ready for a huge fight, for the rich hardly give up easily.

Congressmen have in the past looked at the slackness as a source of wealth generation after sojourning in congress? The public may be oblivious to this fact, some congressmen will continue to advocate for the indefensible, prophesying that CBS investigative reporting has some rather inexplicable shortcoming. Change is not something many people readily agree to; and more so, when it comes to millions or billions of largesse that are considered fringe benefits of having served in congress. Many of those retired lawmakers will hardly go down without a fight. Political intelligence has been their bread and butter or graft, if you like. The question, Why are some lawmakers still advocating the indefensible in light of current information regarding political intelligence? The retroactive answer to this question is: Money! Money!! And Money!!! Those purists, who are currently advocating that any congressman who has traded stocks with inside information should resign, probably are not going to get what they want.

Using insider information to benefit lawmaker’s bottom-line is akin to cheating; and, ignoring public concerns regarding such actions from congressional lawmakers is tantamount to flagrant abuse of power. Current provisions in the 2011 Stock Act or the re-figured 2006 Stock Act may not completely contain those provisions that will completely avert abuse. Bills working their way through congress can still be added to or amended to address concerns from the public. Like the saying goes, it is easier to spout platitudes than to address fundamentals.

For provisions in the re-figured 2006 Stock Act to suffice and reflective, it must answer the basic questions: Who? When? What? Where? and, How? As long as the provisions answer these basic questions, we may be rest assured that the issue of fairness may be addressed. Further, as long as congressional lawmakers understand why it is possible to adversely exploit political intelligence to one financial benefit; and, why the public is concerned that the ‘first to know’ doctrine regarding the developing and passing of a bill may give lawmakers a competitive or undue advantage over others in the market place, then we are half way through the journey.

It is imperative that congress abide by all laws that are imposed on other Americans. Further, it is also essential that lawmakers are not perceived as having an undue advantage over other Americans. Just as we are considering the issue of political intelligence, how about looking at other issues as congressional retirement fund and participation of lawmakers in the same health care system enacted for all Americans? Is it possible to move the Congressional Retirement Fund into the Social Security System? Is it feasible for all congressional lawmakers to participate in the mandated purchase of health care insurance as contained in PPACA? That way, all Americans are called to participate in the same Social Security Retirement System and patients Protection and Affordable Care Act? Finally, how about having an independent salary commission consider congressional salaries, rather than having congressmen consider pay increases. Many cities have a commission like this and it works fairly well for everyone, why not for the esteemed United State Congress? For congress to stand clear and clean there must never be a suspicion of having an undue advantage over other Americans, with respect to laws of the country.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Stock Act and Political Intelligence: Why Congress must now act for its own good!

Keywords or Terms: Political Intelligence; Political Insider; Insider Information and Trading; Voter’s Confidence; First-to-Know Information; Lobby Groups; Congressional Lawmakers; Steve Kroft; Martha Stewart; Raj Rajaratnam; and, Transparency in Governance

CBS 60 Minute Program recently visited some lawmakers in congress, attempting to find out why congress is not playing by the same rule as Americans when it comes to insider trading information and stock trading. Congressmen probably failed to see the connection between having insider information regarding impending bills and abuse of the information in purchasing stocks on the whiff by lawmakers and congressional staff. However, after a couple of vivid examples alluded to, where lawmakers and congressional staff had taken advantage of what is referred to as political intelligence to benefit their wealth or pockets, it became obvious why the stock act must move ahead, after languishing in congressional committees.

In a time, when congress is lacking in voter’s confidence, when many bills that could have done good for the people, especially millions that are unemployed, are hardly budging in congress, it is time for congress to act on the stock act to burnish its lackadaisical image. Congress cannot continue to live in a long shadow of deviousness, when and where many congressmen and their staff have exploited the benefit of being the first to know, to expand their largesse in the open market for stocks and bonds. CBS 60 minutes sought details about congressional leaders buying of stocks and bonds just before the passing of the health care and financial reform bills, and hardly could both leaders questioned in press conferences could give a straight answer. Republican House Speaker John Boehner and Democratic minority leader Nancy Pelosi were caught flat-footed when Steve Kroft questioned them about stocks and or bonds tradings that seem to have benefited these lawmakers just before the passing of some bills; and, the question and answer session looked rather embarrassing, if not completely disastrous for the leadership role that these leaders play in America’s Politics.

Neither Pelosi nor Boehner has a plan for a memoir about how congressional lawmakers had exploited the first-to-know information regarding the dynamics of bills in conduit that may directly or indirectly jolt the market on Wall Street. None of them could tell a better story regarding how many of their followers in congress and their staff had exploited the first-to-know privilege of lawmaking to better their financial largesse. Hours of video of such memoirs by Hollywood would have made the public wonder truly about our Democracy and the integrity of our lawmakers and their staff. Alas, these lawmakers had taken a two, in articulating the difficult situation they had put themselves by having financially beneficial trading closed with suspiciously too close a time to when a related bill passed in congress.

Martha Stewart, business magnate and founder of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and Raj Rajaratnam, former hedge fund manager and founder of the Gallup Group, went to jail for insider trading; both today are felons and practically stripped of the right to vote in many states. Each were reputable member of the corporate business world before being caught doing similar things to what some congressmen and their staff are accused of in the 60 Minute expose. Congressional lawmakers still have the opportunity to create and pass laws that affect the lives of every American. Congressional lawmakers who swore to protect the country and the constitution, seems to be violating their oath of office by doing same things that have landed Americans in jail: exploiting the first-to-know privilege to expand personal wealth!

This is interesting, considering that we live in a world of 24/7 information sharing. When congressional lawmakers took oath to protect the constitution, their respective obligations include the protection of the process of making laws. When congressional lawmakers share information regarding bills working through congress with their staff and family members, they all stand to recoup millions by exploiting the privilege. For example, friends and associates who have a blackberry, android and or 4G information sharing devices, who are necessarily not in proximity of Pennsylvania Avenue, can exploit the same privilege. Since the public are excluded from this privilege, it is important that congress look at itself in the mirror and ask the question: Is this really fair? Is this what our constituent sent us to Washington DC to do?

Today, the question of integrity is often swept under the rug like a run-off from American streets and farms. In a world of reality television, where men and women of lesser aptitude and intelligence, are portrayed as ideal role model, it is probably acceptable for some lawmakers with convoluted integrity to justify the action that congressmen and staff are being accused; but the truth is, what is wrong is wrong, whether it is being done by a congressional lawmaker or a businessman or women in their corner offices on Wall Street. The use of insider information or political intelligence as it is called in Washington DC lobby ally; to better one’s financial purse is wrong and cast smog on the integrity of our lawmakers.

While the benefit of using insider information to benefit one’s wealth may not be seen as wrong by some lawmakers who attempt to scorn at the suspicion from the press and public, since no one can truly link this possibility directly with the subsequent action of the lawmakers in buying stocks and bonds, it is still imperative that lawmakers play by the rule and or stay above board. It is important that lawmakers are not found to be abusing power by using political intelligence or insider information to amass wealth at the expense of the public they have sworn to protect. The duties of congressional lawmakers call for the utmost integrity in men and women. To fail to appreciate this reality, to scorn at an effort to expose this illegality among congressional lawmakers and their staff, constitute disservice to the process of lawmaking. Further, it is shameful when the public has to call on our lawmakers to play by the same rule that the public are called to play by or uphold. That is why Steve Kroft’s investigative reporting on CBS 60 Minutes last Sunday deserves the highest journalism award in the country. CBS 60 Minute and Steve Kroft deserve the 2011 Peabody award for integrity reporting by getting the wheels turning in congress over the Stock Act.

To maintain that there is no insider trading information being used by congressional lawmakers and that all these are insinuations and unproven, is to fail to appreciate the concerns in the CBS 60 minute expose. No one is attempting to impinge on the integrity of our congressional lawmakers; however, the actions taken by some lawmakers just before a bill is passed into law regarding stocks’ and bonds’ purchases as exposed on the program are too close for comfort and probably, disconcerting. The fact that an outside body had to delve into lawmakers action regarding a bill that has been allowed to languish in congress and to draw imperatives regarding why the bill is allowed to die or be dying in congress, says a million about congressional lawmaking. Figuratively, can the public imagine how many bills that could have done the people and our democracy good that have been allowed to die in committees because our lawmakers are somehow benefiting from the death, or perceive the bill as inconsequential for the time being?

Fast forward today, there is the jobs’ bill that President Obama has been hammering that congress passes so that unemployed Americans can get jobs; is it possible that some congressional lawmakers are failing to pass this bill, because they are benefiting from not doing so? Can congressional lawmakers be cheating on the unemployed, the same way a few of them have cheated on their spouses, apologize in press conferences, reconciled and hopefully repented? There is no association of guilt here, however, what many unemployed are saying is that congress and those lawmakers who have chosen not to support the jobs’ bill, are cheating on the unemployed. They are using the privilege of their office to deny what is rightly essential to better the lives of millions of Americans.

Back to the Stock Act and the inquisition by many that: Is it possible that congressional lawmakers have been underhandedly using political intelligence to better their financial bottom-line? Have our lawmakers been using the first-to-know privilege to buy lands in anticipation that a federal road will pass through it so they can make a windfall? Have our lawmakers been buying stocks and bonds a night before the passing of a relevant bill and off-loading them about two weeks later with some handsome returns? We all hope these are not true. Having first had information regarding what a bill can do to trading on Wall Street can hypothetically benefit those who have that information in the course of their duties or work. Acting on this information to unduly benefit the lawmakers is unfair and unacceptable to the public, period!

Seeing first hand how “good people” have been sent to gallows for using insider information to better their financial returns is alarming. Asking that congressmen do not succumb to the same temptation is in order for transparent governance. The public finds it unfortunate that many lawmakers, some of them who have once scorned at the Stock Act, are now falling over each other to co-sponsor the bill. A bill that only had nine sponsors a couple of year ago, now has over one hundred and thirty-eight co-sponsors barely a week after the CBS 60 Minute expose on the use of political intelligence to amass wealth among congressional lawmakers and their staff. If there were things to expect from our lawmakers, isn’t it the integrity to act even before we call them to do so on a bill that impacts the welfare of everyone? Where there is a bill that addresses the issues of fairness, should it take 60 Minutes to call our congressional lawmakers to do the right thing?

Many of us are loss for words at this time. What we now expect are as follows:

  • That the Stock Act is passed before the end of this year and penalty made retroactive, if possible;
  • Congress passes a law that congressional ethics board inculcate into its books criminal penalty for using political intelligence to financially benefit lawmakers;
  • Congress makes the bane of lawmaking a sifting system that highlight the potential pitfalls for exploitation of parliamentary process for private benefit or gains by lawmakers; and, insist that associated actions by lawmakers on financial and trading issues be left in a trust; and,
  • The earthy, open-ended process in parliamentary committee deliberations be scrutinized and evaluated constantly for conflict of interest by committee members or congressional lawmakers.