Thursday, January 31, 2008


Part 2 – What are the targets for change?

1. Money Mongers of the Financial Institutions
2. Mortgage Lenders – Vampires of the Golden Dream
3. Credit Card Industry Standards, Fees and Collection Methods
4. Health Care Industry Cost, Insurance and Unnecessary Treatment
5. Pharmaceutical Industry Proliferation of Prescription Drugs
6. FDA (Food & Drug Administration) Drug Approval Process
7. Agriculture – Food Testing, Ingredients and Source
8. Campaign Reform – Empty Promises and Empty Wallets
9. Immigration Reform – The Slumbering Social Issue of the Day
10. Government Permits & Inspections – Protection or Payoffs

So there you have it, a concise list of the ten institutional bureaucracies that must be addressed by our candidates for president if those candidates truly want to be the flag bearers for change. Now a more detailed description of the targets follows but I want you to know what you are in for up front.

When you hear why they are on the list just ask yourself what my favorite candidate for president has had to say about these issues that wreak havoc on the public every day. For you see these thorny targets also represent some of the largest financial contributors to our candidates for change and the political parties of America.

So maybe when questioning the presidential candidates we should ask a series of qualifying questions. Do you want change? Do you take money from these special interest groups? Can you stand up to them and their financial power? How are you going to persuade the other members of congress to support you?

In politics promises are cheap, promises most often are forgotten after the election and careers can be cut short when promises threaten the golden goose that feeds off the unsuspecting public. What does that mean? It means we the people are the cash cow and the special interest groups are the beneficiary of decades of conflicts of interest, bribes and payoffs, greed and immorality and the hijacking of our political system.

Truth is it is hard to believe any candidate means what they say about change. They are all players to some degree or another of our political system or they would not be candidates. They are all dependent on millions and millions of dollars in contributions in order to play in the game. They all hire the same old staff members that have mastered the game of inside politics. And if they do mean what they say, well the odds of being able to deliver are about as good as us bringing peace to the Middle East.

Still, as an eternal optimist when it comes to public service I can only hope there are people out there who have not been compromised, who are sincere, who can withstand the temptations of the golden goose, and who will lead us in the direction of real change before it is too late. Now let us turn our attention to the targets for change in America and see if you don’t agree.

1. Money Mongers of the Financial Institutions

Who are these people and what threat do they represent? Well, the intricate web of interlocking ownership, access to media, control of pricing in stocks, currency, commodities and bonds, and insulation from scrutiny probably make this the single most powerful force on Earth, capable of controlling governments and destroying opposition without ever getting their own hands dirty. You see they are invisible to the general public.

While flying the banner of capitalism they are the masters of deceit as the last thing they want is open competition, public scrutiny, social justice or power to the people. Their’s is a world of opportunity, the opportunity to take what other people have regardless of the consequences in order to consolidate power, maximize control, accumulate wealth and squeeze every last bloody cent of profit from everyone else.

Does it sound extreme, only because it is extreme? Sound like a sinister plot to gain control of the world? They don’t need to gain what they have already got. Their mission is not to lose it. While we wave our flag of democracy and freedom and every generation or so Americans rise up and take on new challenges, they have been quietly working behind the scenes for centuries, yes centuries, to achieve their goals.

Enough pontificating. Financial institutions control the world simply put and they do not serve the world in the process, as serving is not a good return on investment. They set up mutual funds to consolidate investment power and get government to create more sources of funds and turn them over to the financiers to manage such as pension funds, 401K funds, IRAs and many others.

They create financial “experts” to tell us what is happening to our investment markets and how to invest what money we do control completely ignoring the conflicts of interest when the greatest beneficiaries of the advice are the market makers, the very financial institutions whose experts are giving supposedly objective market advice.

What does that mean? The media takes the advice of industry experts and tells us the price of oil is going up because of the potential for a hurricane in the gulf that may or may not disrupt supply lines and drilling operations. A suicide bombing in Iraq shows that the crude oil supply from that country is not stable so a shortage of future oil may result if a bombing of the oil pipelines is successful. Cold weather in American means there will be a shortage of heating oil no matter that there are sufficient inventories already in the country. So the price of oil goes up, and up and up.

Who benefits? The owners of the crude oil, the companies that pay them for the crude, the banks that finance the companies, the stockholders that own shares of the companies, the IRAs, 401Ks, pension funds and mutual funds that pump money into the companies, the companies selling and buying their stocks, or the companies setting market prices? Guess what, all of them could be part of the financial institutions benefiting from the market manipulations caused by the speculative reports on the industry by the media.

Where I come from that is a gross conflict of interest. Financial institutions can make money buying and selling stock with other people’s money, mutual funds, and retirement funds whether the stock goes up or down in value. They still get their commission. If they own stock in the companies, in the commodities market or in the banks financing the markets they also benefit.

So why does the Federal Trade Commission and Securities and Exchange Commission let them do this? The FTC and SEC are supposed to be our government watchdogs protecting the public from unscrupulous financial manipulators.

For two years the same financial sector was behind the unethical, immoral and often-illegal manipulation of the sub-prime mortgage markets as well which nearly sent the USA into recession and certainly left millions of homeowners in foreclosure. Where were the federal regulators?

How these people got away with it was tragic yet amazing to watch, and the fact they were rewarded for their disastrous actions is astounding since the same institutions were able to write off billions of dollars in losses on their own taxes, thus benefiting from the fees, the commissions, the collections and the tax write offs leaving the consumer high, dry and broke.

So candidates, what are you going to do to stop this? What are your plans to reform and better regulate the financial institutions? How can you stop the media from glamorizing industry experts whose employers directly benefit from their words of wisdom? How can you break up the inter-locking ownership inherent in the world? How can you protect he retirement nest eggs of the public that are being sucked dry by the money managers?

2. Mortgage Lenders – Vampires of the Golden Dream

Even though mortgage lenders can be owned, controlled or manipulated by the financial sector and banking institutions they are often set up independently until they finish preying on an unsuspecting public, having got caught using questionable practices (sub-prime loans for example), using heavy handed tactics, misleading consumers and initiating mortgage foreclosures.

When this happens the lenders now approaching bankruptcy get bought out by the financial and banking sectors that are seeking to acquire real estate property at far below the loan value. So losses are written off, property is acquired far below the loan value, new mortgages are written to resell or refinance the property, a few million people lose their homes due to foreclosures, and the financial institutions now have a new division with secure assets and credit worthy clients.

Of course we then lose sight of the fact illegal mortgages and unethical selling practices caused the bail out cycle to take place. Or that mortgage lenders, sales people, lawyers and credit rating firms were all players in this billion-dollar scam. That closing fees, collection fees and late fees have made someone millions of dollars at the expense of the hapless homeowners.

Then there is the question of the post mortgage market. I mean how many people know who really holds their mortgage as it can be sold over and over to spread the risk, enable firms to dissolve to avoid liability, or a variety of other reasons. You can get a mortgage from a bank only to discover the mortgage was sold to a bankrupt lender.

Finally even the government backed mortgage programs like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, (what great names for federal backed mortgage players), not to mention the long list of programs such as VA, Indian, Rural, Low Income and other federal mortgage and housing programs must be ever more vigilant to root out corruption, contract fixing, slipshod construction and repair work, inefficient heating and utilities and other problems that beset our federal and state housing efforts.

So again we ask what are the presidential candidates saying about how they will change these institutional bureaucracies to serve the people? What is the new agenda to protect people and tax funds from these vampires? How will they be regulated, prosecuted and punished for any violations of the public trust?

3. Credit Card Industry Standards, Fees and Collection Methods

Now this is an area of regulatory meltdown and benign neglect involving federal and state agencies ranging from the FTC to Congress, from the SEC to Justice Department. There is a body of law at both the state and federal levels that regulates these practices but no one seems to pay attention.

The issuance of credit cards through the mail and Internet and the proliferation of offers from credit card companies are astounding. The never-ending changes in interest rates charged, the justification for such changes, the explanation of such practices and the downright deception in consumer information is appalling and predatory.

It is a wonder the nation is not drowning in credit card interest and collection activity with the elderly and youth being most likely to succumb to the offers that are too good to pass up. Fees change constantly for ATM charges, handling, processing, vendor, fraud, security, and any other excuse to stick it to the consumer.

Credit rating companies feed information to credit card companies and collection companies making the whole business of debt collection a financial windfall to lawyers, collection agencies, process servers and even the courts. Lies regarding the rights of the cardholder are overwhelming to most people, threatening to them and their credit, and fraught with heavy-handed tactics.

Simply stated there is no protection for people from getting the cards, understanding the changing fees, and especially getting caught in the late payment and collection process. Debts are written off yet collection efforts go full steam. When debts should be forgiven efforts are still made to scare the consumers into making payments. The credit collection industry is about as close as we come to the Gestapo in this country and the politicians are silent.

There is minimum at best consumer protection and maximum effort to throw the consumer to the dogs. State and federal laws can regulate the methods for offering cards, the message explaining the “wonderful” opportunity, the interest, and the fees, even the ways and means of collection.

If we allow a credit card company to write off the bad debt, then why is the collection industry pursuing the poor consumer with no money? Why are the bad debts written off years before the debt is forgiven to the consumer? If the credit card company realizes a tax deduction for bad debt, why are collectors threatening the consumer long after?

If credit card companies contract out for collection to private businesses, are those private businesses subject to government regulation meant for the credit card companies? If the USA is drowning in debt it is because the card companies and all those companies making money off the card companies are driven by greed.

There are many opportunities for the candidates to help the consumers in this area and it does not even require spending much money, just developing and enforcing meaningful legislation and regulations to truly control the sharks. So once again we ask where are the proposals for change from the candidates?

4. Health Care Industry Cost, Insurance and Unnecessary Treatment

Just look at the facts and there is no doubt this system is broken. In 2006 we spent $2.1 trillion on health care, over $7,026 for every person in the USA, and it took over 16% of our Gross Domestic Product. That is 4.3 times more money than we spent on defense. The cost of health care increases at more than double the inflation rate annually.

At 16% of GDP we have the highest health care costs of any developed nation with the next highest being Switzerland 10.9%, Germany 10.7%, Canada 9.7% and France 9.5%. Americans spent one third more on health care than any of these nations, and while 50 million Americans do not have health insurance all of the citizens in the other nations mentioned receive health care. At our current pace we will be spending $4 trillion on health care in just 7 years, by 2015.

With the war in Iraq one might expect the cost of health care for veterans to be substantial as treatment in the war zone is far improved from earlier wars and for every death of a soldier there are 9 wounded soldiers that return home. Yet the cost of veteran’s health care drops to $5,000 per person, $2,000 less per year than civilians.

What is causing these statistical aberrations? Are we much sicker than citizens of the other nations? Is there a greater medical risk to civilians in America than our soldiers in Iraq? Why are 50 million Americans uninsured when all of the citizens of other nations receive health care?

According to the latest statistics employer paid health insurance premiums in the USA were $11,500 for families and about $4,200 for individuals. That means annual health insurance premiums account for a substantial portion of health care costs. Something is very wrong with the system.

Doctors take payoffs from drug companies to promote treatments. Doctor’s own clinics that need to keep billing patients to make money. Hospitals need patients to pay the bills and keep the beds full. In the end, some estimates say 25% of all health care treatment is unnecessary and serves to generate money for clinics, doctors and hospitals and not cures for the patients.

Alternative medicines are blocked throughout the nation as they represent a major loss of revenue for traditional medicine. Most of the use of alternative and holistic treatment is not covered by insurance because it would mean a huge loss in revenue to traditional medicine. CAT scans, MRIs and many other very expensive tests are done without justification in order to generate billings.

Deaths from malpractice and the wrong drugs or drug overdoses can be as high as natural deaths in some medical facilities. Yet the medical money machine goes on and on at higher and higher costs with little effort to bring about meaningful reform.

So what is the average educational debt for new doctors coming into the market? According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, the average educational debt of indebted graduates of the class of 2006 (including pre-med borrowing) is $130,571. The average debt of graduating medical students increased in 2006 by 8.5 percent over the previous year. 72 percent of graduates have debt of at least $100,000. 86.6 percent of graduating medical students carry outstanding loans. 40.2 percent of 2006 graduates have non-educational debt, averaging $16,689. Source: AAMC 2006 Graduation Questionnaires.

So how much do they make when they graduate? Cardiologists were the most sought-after specialists last year, fetching salaries ranging from $234,000 to $525,000 and averaging $320,000 a year, according to surveys. Close behind cardiologists are radiologists and orthopedic surgeons. Other prime areas where salaries are among the highest in medicine include ophthalmology, anesthesiology, and dermatology. Salaries for some of these specialties range from about $250,000 to more than $600,000, never mind the lucrative signing bonuses, income guarantees, and vacation packages that can be counted in months, not weeks.

But you don't need an M.D. after your name for the offers to come in. Pharmacists, physician assistants, physical and occupational therapists, audiologists, nurse practitioners, and other advanced-practice nurses are all in demand, with a master's degree as a certified registered nurse anesthetist generating salary offers ranging from about $100,000 to $160,000.

How are the candidates going to address the many changes needed in health care costs, stop the unnecessary treatments, and allow for the alternative methods to be embraced? Is there a better way to manage student loans and loan repayment? What insurance reforms are needed to make the USA competitive with other developed nations in terms of health care costs? How can we stop malpractice and false billing against insurance companies?

5. Pharmaceutical Industry Proliferation of Prescription Drugs

This can be short and sweet. In 2002 we spent $162 billion on prescription drugs and in 2006 we spent $217 billion on prescription drugs. One out of every five Americans takes 5 or more prescriptions per day. All Americans average 2.9 prescriptions per day. Our senior citizens, who are increasing very rapidly with the aging of the Baby Boomers, averaged $559 for prescriptions in 1992, $1,205 for prescriptions in 2000, and $1,912 in 2005 with spending expected to reach $2,805 in 2010.

Every day it seems the health authorities announce yet another prescription drug that does not work, or whose long-term effects are determined to be more dangerous than expected. Yet every day it seems there are new prescriptions for new diseases. We live longer but spend far more. Kids are over-prescribed with Ritalin and other drugs. They are addicted to drugs they don’t even take raiding medicine cabinets for the new drug culture.

What will the candidates do to stop this nonsense? How will they reign in the drug companies to stop making false advertising claims? Will they call for truth in advertising, documentation for claims, clinical trials when needed, and a stop to the practice of over-prescribing drugs across the board?

6. FDA (Food and Drug Administration) Drug Approval Process

If drug prices in America have been rising almost five times as fast as inflation then the FDA must assume some of the responsibility as they are the regulatory agency charged with overseeing the over-the-counter and prescription drugs so abundant in our society.

The FDA new drug approval process with layers of clinical animal and human trials is the most costly, most lengthy and often most bizarre in terms of protocols and criteria for approval in the world. It is a process designed for the benefit of wealthy pharmaceutical companies, not for the small and independent research companies and laboratories.

Drug companies say it takes up to $500 million to bring a new drug through the FDA approval process. Small companies can do the same thing for about $10-25 million. Most small companies have to raise the money as they go through the process and will give up a major ownership position in their own company to afford the FDA process.

Major pharmaceutical firms have managed to negotiate with FDA for new drug approval even if the drug extends the life expectancy of the patient by just 30 days. Yet when these products are sold to the public no one seems to mention they might only be good for 30 days at a cost of thousands of dollars. Human clinical trials take place to see if there are any adverse reactions to the drugs. When you hear all the disclaimers in the ads for the approved drugs you wonder how they could ever get approval.

Things have gotten so ridiculous in the approval process that television ads for the drug Celebrex contain so many warnings of side effects and drug interactions that the ad actually states “the FDA says the benefits may outweigh the risks” when taking it. Are they crazy? It might be safe to take it?

Human trials approved by FDA require a protocol where half of the patients are given a placebo rather than the drug so results taking the drug can be measured against a control group not taking the drug. Not a bad practice unless the drug is experimental and the disease is going to kill the patient.

For example, stage 3 cancer patients have weeks or months to live. At stage 3 any normal and extremely expensive treatment like chemo, radiation or surgery has already failed. When they are offered a chance to participate in an experiment that might save their life and the option is certain death you might think they would jump at the chance, but that is not the case.

Why would they sign up when only half the people will even receive the treatment, with the other half getting meaningless placebos? If they are in the half that gets the candy and not the drug they die. If they get the drug there is a chance they might live. When you are facing death there should not be a 50-50 chance you won’t get the treatment.

Other problems with the industry include their price gouging, opposition to generic drugs selling for much less, opposition to foreign drugs also selling for much less, payments to doctors for prescribing their drugs, and unsubstantiated claims regarding over-the-counter drugs like cough syrup which has been proven to do no good.

Where do the candidates stand on the issues raised about the FDA and drug regulatory and approval process? How will they change the system to make it more responsive to patients, less costly for companies, and more beneficial for the public? How will false claims be dealt with and stopped?

7. Agriculture – Food Testing, Ingredients and Source

You go to the grocery store, check the fresh meat, see something that looks nice and red and fresh and buy it. Or maybe you buy the chicken to fry up for dinner. Then again you might buy pet food for your favorite dog or cat. Now did anyone tell you fresh meat like beef should not be red? Did they tell you color dyes and carbon monoxide are used to give the cuts of meat that color and they are injected in the butcher shop?

Did they tell you the chicken was raised in a hen house and pumped with hormones, steroids and God knows what else to fatten it up for the slaughter? Did they tell you about everything you just bought included rendered animal parts?

Did they mention rendering plants use raw product including thousands of dead dogs and cats; heads and hooves from cattle, sheep, pigs and horses; whole skunks; rats and raccoons? Did they mention the millions of maggots swarming over the carcasses? Did they tell you the carcasses would be ground up and cooked to create batches of yellow grease, meal and bone meal, and that the meat and bone meal would be used as a source of protein and other nutrients in poultry, swine and pet foods?

That the animal fat is used as an “energy source” and millions of tons will be trucked to poultry ranches, cattle feed-lots, dairy and hog farms, fish-feed plants and pet-food manufacturers where it is mixed with other ingredients to feed the billions of animals that meat-eating humans, in turn, will eat.

When you look at the ingredient label and it says the meat included protein it sounds good but is that protein from the rendered carcasses and what are the health consequences of eating a standard diet of rendered byproduct? The deadly Mad Cow disease was caused by feeding rendered products to cattle.

In food labeling what do the terms “natural” and “organic” really mean? Does that mean they were not genetically engineered? Are they free of the carbon monoxide used to make it appear fresh? Unless you grow all your food in your own garden and prepare all your meals from scratch, it's almost impossible to eat food without preservatives added.

The bottom line is we have a lot of explaining to do about food, what is in it, where it comes from, and what it will do to us over the years. So just where do the candidates stand on this critical consumer health and survival issue? What are their proposals to fix things?

8. Campaign Reform – Empty Promises and Empty Wallets

For the first time in our history the presidential campaign alone in 2008 is expected to cost over one billion dollars. Now that is a whole lot of money being spent to win a job that pays $400,000 a year and only lasts four years. One billion dollars spent to make $1,600,000. If that is the result of capitalism then we might have a problem.

Campaign reform has been talked about more and acted upon less than any other issue facing congress and the president. Political advertising costs are criminal. Some campaigns spend more money raising money than they do getting elected. Special interest groups give to candidates, give more to national political parties, more to state political parties and then spend money themselves to influence elections.

If $1 billion is spent in the race for the White House and there are 121 million votes cast like in 2004 then each vote will cost about $9 for president. When you add to that the cost for federal congressmen and senators, governors, state legislators and local races it is a pretty expensive freedom we exercise.

It can be changed if the president and congress have the guts. Paid ads can be stopped, special interest funding can be stopped, and a logical schedule for primaries can be held. Candidates can receive free media time since all the airways are government regulated. Voter registration can be increased.

There are about 226 million people eligible to vote in the USA and about 142 million are registered to vote. In 2004 about 121 million did vote for president. That means about 53% of the eligible voters participated in the last presidential election, a pretty weak total for the citadel of democracy in the world. That needs to be fixed. Require automatic voter registration with social security cards or drivers licenses if need be but get people back involved in the process. We can’t make people vote but we can make sure they have the opportunity to vote.

There is a lot the candidates can do to introduce meaningful campaign reform and the lack of proposals offered is troubling at best.

9. Immigration Reform – The Slumbering Social Issue of the Day

So far the candidates have done a masterful job of avoiding the issue of Immigration reform although before the campaign heated up they had a variety of ideas to offer. Now it seems the ideas have been taken off the table in hopes no one noticed they flip flopped on an issue.

There are a few areas of agreement. For one everyone agrees we need to strengthen border security on both the Canadian and Mexican borders. We also acknowledge that there are millions of Mexican workers illegally in the USA gainfully employed at jobs typically not wanted by Americans. What to do about them is a huge problem.

Since there is widespread opposition to any kind of amnesty program allowing them to remain without consequence perhaps a better alternative would be to allow those illegal immigrants and their families to remain with a permanent work visa if they are gainfully employed and have paid taxes in the United States.

They are here and they pay our income and sales taxes. They have cars and drivers licenses. They are making a substantial contribution to Social Security even though they cannot draw benefits. What amnesty are we giving them? If we throw them out don’t we owe them back their income, sales and social security payments? I say they have paid enough already for a permanent visa and they should be welcomed if they complete our citizenship requirements.

If the illegal immigrants that are gainfully employed and contributing to our tax and social security system are granted permanent work visas, overnight we will reduce the border security issues saving substantial money and improving relations between our two countries. This will free up resources to pursue the criminal elements from foreign countries that come illegally for far more sinister reasons.

Not only do millions of illegal immigrants pay taxes and provide services we would not otherwise have but they are also victims to hordes of unscrupulous people involved in car sales and repair, medical treatment, legal assistance, and many other areas because they have no way to protect themselves. They cannot go to law enforcement agencies for help, as they would be prosecuted. The simple act of granting well-earned permanent work visas would stop predators from taking advantage of their status.

So the candidates owe us their positions on the immigration reform issue and don’t just tell us they support the Great Wall of Mexico now being constructed. We all know how even the greatest and most feared of walls cannot stop people from seeking social justice and freedom, remember the Iron Curtain and Berlin Wall? Give us substance.

10. Government Permits and Inspections – Protection or Payoffs

Whenever corruption is uncovered at the state or local government level the odds are it is tied to the permits and inspection activities of the locality. Permits are required for new and renovation construction, whether it is housing, commercial, industrial or public. A complex combination of federal, state and local statutes dictate the construction standards to be followed.

Federal standards are set but states, counties or localities can add to the standards and the result can be a tremendous burden to the public. Inspections are required for the issuance of building permits and therein lays the gateway to potential corruption. Since inspections cover all aspects of construction from foundations to floors and walls, electrical to plumbing, there are many ways the process can be compromised.

Beyond that unique local codes can further complicate the process such as areas without public water or sewer lines, environmentally sensitive areas, watersheds, aquifers, wetlands, water front and on and on. In some cases the intent of building codes may be good but the result may be counterproductive. For example, we have water shortages but block the recycling of gray water. We require septic mound systems when we have no long term testing to show it even works.

Energy conservation and recycling efforts can be discouraged because of code problems and interpretations and the most cost effective and environmentally friendly materials may be prohibited by outdated building codes. Housing is a critical element of our nation’s economy and anything that restricts our ability to renovate, rebuild, or undertake new construction, to use new energy and environmental materials and techniques, or that offers opportunities for corruption is in need of reform.

The federal government is the only legislative authority that can override the archaic codes or practices of state and local government, that can encourage the use of new materials and techniques to help our energy, environmental and water needs, and can work with state attorney generals to assure the process is not corrupt.

Because this process can impact on anyone living in our nation it would behoove the candidates to address this issue and offer recommendations on how to protect our citizens, encourage the economic activity resulting from housing construction, and make certain the codes are enforced in a lawful and just manner.


There you have it, ten areas in need of reform to help the people of America, the People’s Agenda for Change. We The People, yes the same We The People first mentioned as the first words of our Constitution, expect leaders to lead and to better understand what type of leadership we can expect from the candidates and we need to know what they intend to do about these issues. Sound bites or silence do you no justice and are a disservice to us.

These issues affect every American and will dramatically effect our future generations. History can be made this election but it will have to be earned by a meaningful discussion of how candidates intend to serve. It is time to silence the swords and get on with the substance. We have waited patiently; now give us the reasons to support you.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


We at CPT try and give you the information no one else likes to talk about regarding the campaign and candidates. As a result you will have insights you should share with any one else fool enough to believe the campaign ads or news media. A photo gallery of candidates will also be shown although I suspect if the Europeans see it they may think there is simply no hope for the future of the USA. Thank goodness we have a better sense of humor.

Barack Obama

Though he is a U.S. Senator from Chicago, Illinois, Barack Hussein Obama was born in Hawaii and his father was a Black African from Kenya while his mother was a White American from Kansas. Barack is a member of the United Church of Christ, a mainline Protestant Christian denomination. Obama was an outstanding student at Columbia and Harvard Universities in the Ivy League.

Hillary Clinton

Now Hillary Rodham Clinton was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois though she is a U.S. Senator from New York and the former first lady and wife of an Arkansas Governor. Raised a United Methodist, she attended Wellesley College and Yale University and did quite well. At Wellesley she was President of the Young Republicans her freshman year and a campaign volunteer for Barry Goldwater, the very conservative GOP candidate for President in 1964. The Viet Nam war eventually drove her to the Democratic Party even though the Democrats started the war.

Mitt Romney

Born in Detroit, Michigan Mitt Romney is the son of a Governor of Michigan and 1968 presidential candidate. Mitt attended Stanford University and Brigham Young before going to Harvard where he earned law and business degrees with high honors. A member of the Mormon Church, he remained in Massachusetts after school and had a very successful business career including being President and CEO of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. After his business successes he was elected governor of the state.

John McCain

Born in Panama and whose father and grandfather were Navy Admirals, McCain gives you a clear choice compared to the backgrounds of the others. He grew up moving from town to town and went to the Navy Academy like his father and grandpa. By the time he graduated he was 5th from the bottom of his class but a classmate said of him, “being on liberty with John McCain was like being in a train wreck.” Every year at the academy he earned over 100 demerits becoming a legendary member of the Century Club.

McCain crashed a plane in Corpus Christi Bay in Texas, and then crashed another plane when he collided with power lines over Spain. The first time he was almost killed in Viet Nam he was preparing to take off from an aircraft carrier for a bombing run when a Zuni rocket was accidentally fired from another plane on deck. It hit McCain’s plane rupturing the fuel tank and knocking two bombs loose from his wings. The plane erupted in flames and McCain barely escaped with his life by crawling out the cockpit on to the front of the plane then leaping through the flames. Seconds later a bomb exploded under the plane destroying it and 19 other planes and killing 132 sailors. After recovering he was shot down by a Soviet missile over Hanoi and was held as a POW for over 5 years.

Should Rudy Giulaini, the choirboy from Brooklyn and Mike Huckabee, the guitar-playing preacher from Hope, Arkansas survive the Super Tuesday primaries more will be provided about them. However, they are well represented in the photo gallery.

Rudy Giulaini

Mike Huckabee

That's all folks....


The 300-year-old competition between the premiere Ivy League schools continues to spill over into the presidential elections as we find more and more candidates dropping out of the race and we get down to the real candidates.

For those of you uninformed in the ways of the Ivy League elite let me give you a brief refresher. Harvard was the first college in America founded in Massachusetts in 1636, 140 years before the Declaration of Independence even created America. Sixty-five years later, in 1701, Yale was founded in Connecticut 75 years before the Declaration.

Along about 1875 Harvard and Yale played their first game of football, although it resembled a cross between soccer and rugby at the time. Harvard won easily but it set in motion the modern day game of football when they played the next year, the Centennial anniversary of the USA, in 1876 with rules resembling football.

Some history books credit the Princeton-Rutgers game of 1869 as the first football game but the rules in use in that game were really soccer rules so in truth it was just an evolutionary step in football, not the definitive moment such as THE GAME, which was the 1876 contest.

Well, once the nation was founded and caught up with these Ivy League schools in 1797 the 2nd president of the US, John Adams, was from Harvard. For a long time Harvard dominated the presidents and in time 7 presidents came from Harvard and 5 from Yale. Only one president in our history graduated from both schools, guess who?

Can you believe George W. Bush, our current president, is the only graduate of two of the most prestigious universities in America and the world? And the media calls him the Texas chump? At any rate, that means there have been 11 presidents from the two schools out of 43 total presidents. Put another way that means 25% of all the presidents in our history came from these two schools.

But that is not what is fueling the current competition. You see, the 1st president from Yale was not elected until 1909 when Taft, the 27th president was elected. At that time there had already been 4 Harvard presidents. It is the current Yale success that has rekindled the competition as every president the past 20 years graduated from Yale and every year since 1972 either the Democratic or Republican candidate for president, or both, has been from Yale.

This election Hillary Clinton is the standard-bearer from Yale, attempting to stretch the Yale control of the presidency to 28 straight years. But this Bulldog (the Yale mascot not Hillary) is in for a fight.

Harvard is mounting a serious challenge to take back the mantle and recapture the presidency once again bringing prestige, recognition and endowments to its hallowed halls. Team Harvard includes Barack Obama for the Democrats and Mitt Romney for the Republicans, a pair that might easily be the party choices for the fall election. Stay tuned for further insights as the Harvard-Yale battle continues to unfold.

Thursday, January 24, 2008


Part 1 – What’s Missing in the Campaign?

There is an old saying in politics, probably first stated by Aristotle, Francis Bacon, Ben Franklin or Mark Twain, that goes, “progress is nice, but change is its motivator.” Well change is certainly the motivator in this years presidential campaign marathon. Every candidate from both parties as well as the independents are shouting they are the person of change to lead America into the next debacle, or is it decade?

It does not matter if those very candidates have spent 20-30 years building the same institutional bureaucracies that are the targets of the change mongers; they still claim to be the poster boy or girl for change in America. Good for them. Even the most ardent of anti-change personalities can come to an epiphany and suddenly, and quite dramatically see the light.

Just ask Scrooge from Dickens Christmas Carol or St. Paul after his roadside encounter with the angel. If a tight-fisted miser and a bigoted tax collector can become celebrated heroes then a few well-worn politicians can probably do the same. So I give them the benefit of the doubt in terms of intent. But so far I give them a failing grade in terms of action.

I mean if you are going to be the poster boy or girl for anything don’t you think we should be told what your agenda for change might entail? Substance for change is in short supply in a campaign already inundated in political blabber, name calling and nonsense.

There is an opportunity for a quantum leap in American politics this election whether it is the election of the first Black American, the first Woman, the first mayor (actually two chances for the first mayor), the first Mormon, the first POW, the first rock guitar player (and second native of Hope, Arkansas), the first former first lady, and even the first person with $400 hair cuts.

However, when it comes to substance in their agendas for change not a single politician has come forward first. Change is a really big deal if the candidates are not blatant hypocrites so where is the wealth of new ideas, new programs, new directions, and new policies that are inherent in any agenda for change? Missing in action I guess.

That said, we are going to save them a fortune in research and inject something foreign to most campaigns called common sense by giving them the agenda for change so sorely lacking in their current rhetoric. We are going to give them a mission for change, an agenda for change, and a justification for change so desperately needed by the public.

First, look at the substantial achievements in bringing about change associated with our presidents of the 20th century. There were not many I am sorry to say. But they did include Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal, Lyndon Johnson and the Great Society, Ronald Reagan and his New Federalism, and, well, hummmm, I guess that is about it.

I can’t seem to rationalize the Clinton Capers or Bush Bushwhacking the English Language as major changes although they did result in comic relief for the masses. John Kennedy would have joined the list of three had he lived long enough but none of his agenda for change was implemented during his lifetime. So there you have it, just three presidents in the last 100 years makes the A list.

Roosevelt’s New Deal pulled us out of the devastating grasp of the great depression with a social agenda never before seen in the USA. Johnson moved us further into the liberal world with his Great Society that implemented the Civil Rights laws and introduced a bevy of social programs. Reagan then brought the pendulum back to the conservative view with his New Federalism anti-big government and anti-Soviet Union agenda. The presidents were astonishingly successful in their agenda for change.

Now comes the current crop of wanna be presidents shouting “change” in every speech and sound bite, well at least when they aren’t shouting at each other, but somehow not offering us any ideas for the change they hold so dearly. So we are going to help them succeed. This series will identify the mission, agenda, Ten Commandments and policy changes needed to bring about the changes most needed by Joe Six Pack and the average American.
Part 2 in this series will focus on the targets for change, those institutional bureaucracies whether in government, the non-profit or corporate worlds that have outlived their usefulness or are in need of dramatic change to contribute to our society and world. Part 3 will identify the ways to fix these targets if they can be fixed or replace them if needed to insure that the first and only agenda in America is “We The People”.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


When will the boys from up river ever learn that having a home and a boat at the Point does not make one a Pointer Waterman? Then again, maybe this is how they park in Washington, D.C.


So a global financial meltdown takes place, with foreign stock exchanges losing from 5-15% of their value overnight. Here in the USA the media has the world braced for a collapse of the stock market Tuesday, the day after the Martin Luther King Holiday.

Now there are already a few lessons to be learned. First and most important, no matter how strong the rest of the world, no matter how much strength they have in their currency, they are hopelessly linked to the USA economy if they want to maintain what strength they may have. Like it or not the USA consumer is responsible for 20% of the gross national product of every developed country in the world. We stop spending they collapse.

Another point is that no matter how much foreign investment there is in the USA, it just increases their dependence on the strength of our economy. We don’t make money they don’t make money. And this is just some of the opening points to be made in the so-called worldwide financial meltdown.

So the media creates a hysterical reaction in the world markets with forecasts that we are in a recession, that consumers can’t spend, that the housing market has collapsed and that the financial industry is drowning in red ink. It is enough bad news to drive down our markets and cause an outright panic worldwide. If only someone had bothered to search for the truth. The following chart is the media view of world economics.

The standard newspaper definition of a recession is a decline in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for two or more consecutive quarters. That has not happened. From a historic perspective every recession since 1950 generated a 25% loss in value in the stock market. That has not happened (so far we have only lost 15%). So why does the media declare we are in a recession when we aren’t?

Of all the potential answers the only one that makes sense is greed, to increase viewership by hyping and distorting the news. Sadly the American consumer got caught up in the hype. So did Wall Street for a week, and the world for a weekend. Thousands of people, maybe even millions, panicked and sold stock and moved it to safer investments if there are such things. Baby boomers saw their impending retirement slipping away as stock prices fell.

But the carnage promised by the media never materialized because the Federal Reserve, doing what the Federal Reserve is supposed to do which is to protect the USA economy, stepped in, slammed down interest rates, and ended the collapse of the American economy. Thank God someone in the government is actually doing their job. Black Tuesday never happened. Foreign markets around the world felt stupid having just had a Black Monday in anticipation of Black Tuesday.

So what really happened in this ecomomic crisis? Well, inflation in the USA was creeping up to around 4% thanks to two factors, spiralling housing costs over the past two years and spiralling oil costs everytime we need oil. Fact is housing in many markets was selling for one and one half times its actual value, a recipe for disaster. And oil hit over $100 a barrel in the past week, up 35% in the past quarter. It was amazing these two items only caused a modest increase in inflation.

Still, for the economy to stabilize the housing prices had to correct by going back down in certain over-priced markets and the oil prices had to go down which can only happen with increased production by oil producers or reduced use by consumers. OPEC held firm on production but the media preoccupation with the weak economy did cause people to change their energy use patterns.

People began dumping their gas guzzlers for more efficient cars, thermostats were turned down, the Good Lord gave us the warmest year in a long time, and people stopped making all the trips. This time people are dead serious about breaking our dependence on foreign oil and being held hostage at the gas pump. Overnight the oil prices dropped 16%. As more and more people join the revolution to break our dependence on oil the prices will continue to fall.

Housing prices have adjusted much closer to their real value. Just in time for the Federal Reserve rate drops to make low cost mortgages affordable and available again. Cheaper mortgages and cheaper housing, sounds like a great environment for growth. Energy efficient cars are now flooding the market and being embraced by consumers. With falling interest rates people can afford them. That also sounds like a great environment for growth.

The financial institutions have now written off billions and billions in bad debt from all the stupid mortgage deals so that loss has been absorbed. A lot of the owners of housing that was acquired with sub-prime mortgages were greedy investors and foreign buyers so they have been put back in their place with the drop in housing prices and foreclosures.

Long term things are looking better all the time. Of course Bush will be leaving after this year, another benefit in the opinion of most people. The Fed will continue lowering interest. The president and Congress, two of the most unpopular organizations in the USA have agreed on a bail out package which will further fuel the economy.

Don’t sell your stock. If you did you will now have to pay two commissions in order to get back in the game, a fee to sell and another fee to buy back what you sold. Stocks will clearly be a better investment than housing. Commodities like gold have already hit record highs for their owners who have cashed out and the commodities can now drop back to normal levels.

The White House, Congress and Federal Reserve will all be trying to outdo each other to strengthen the economy through the rest of the election year. The troops in Iraq have done a wonderful job with the surge and troops will probably be cut in half by election day, lowering the cost of the war by more than half and saving tens of billions of dollars for the economy further improving the economic picture.

In conclusion, don’t trust financial advisors and turn off the television and we will be a lot better off. By turning off the tube not only will you be saved from the hysterical and slightly deranged media but you will not be subject to the brainwashing from ads that urge you to buy all those things you don’t even need.


Coltons Point has many odd things but the sight of the good old boys floating out in their duck blinds having yet another social gathering ranks right up there. I mean why do they feel the need to trumpet their arrival in the river with pre-dawn shotgun blasts when they could not possibly see any ducks in the dark?

Of course an hour later when it is daylight the only ducks I’ve ever seen around the floating blinds are decoys, dozens of decoys, as if they are the real prey of the hunters. I’ve stood by the museum watching the boys when a massive volley of shotgun blasts exploded and there isn’t a duck or goose in sight, just the dead decoys.

Sometimes I suspect they are just shooting at the decoys so they can tell the woman back home how close they came to bagging one. Most times one guy gets bored, blows the head off a decoy, and the rest of the gang shoot helter skelter so as not to miss one.

So I guess the only thing blind about the duck blind is the hunters perched inside out to have a good time and to make the NRA proud.


Every four years the media gets all excited about politics in as much as the TV, radio and newspapers make their biggest advertising profits from the hapless politicians who somehow feel good about paying higher ad rates than huge corporations. Of course it is necessary for the media to have conflict, drama and cliff hanging primaries if the money is to keep flowing in so here we go again.

Someone should sue the states like Iowa, New Hampshire and Michigan for moving up their election dates so far that it forced the campaigns to start advertising the year before the elections. Now any way you look at it that early advertising is cruel and inhumane punishment inflicted on an unsuspecting public and many millions of dollars are spent messing with our minds.

After the first two primaries, the Iowa Caucus and New Hampshire primary, we know the press will get in bed with anyone they think will win, the pollsters should be held liable for the worst polling since the evening weather reports, there have been so many debates no one watches them anymore if they ever did, and all the politicians have lost their voices which might be a good thing.

What have we learned? Oprah is good for winning Iowa. Romney likes winning the Silver Medal. Two people born in the same Arkansas crossroads called Hope can’t possibly both become president can they (Bill Clinton and Huckabee)? Bill Clinton needs to keep his mouth zipped shut too.

Hillary has too many male campaign advisors. Osama can captivate our youth but are they going to vote come November? Who are the other Democratic candidates besides Hillary and Barack? Where is Rudy? Okay, so Huckabee won Iowa, Osama won Iowa, McCain won New Hampshire and Hillary won New Hampshire.

Of course there were then three more primaries, one in South Carolina for the Republicans, Nevada for the Democrats and Republicans and Michigan for the Republicans. McCain proved able again in South Carolina, Romney took Nevada and Michigan, and as if things were not confused enough, Hillary took the popular vote in Nevada and Osama the delegate vote. What in the world is going on?

As we await the Democrats South Carolina primary Hillary and Osama are fighting like a couple of spoiled brats, Bill Clinton is overshadowing everyone in the race as he merrily works to knock Osama out of the race, Osama has been demonstrating that Hillary can get to him, Hillary is fighting back like a barracuda, Edwards has to jump up and down to get any attention, and we are all beginning to think the curse of the Ivy League may continue.

So what is the curse of the Ivy League? Well, just think of it this way. For the past 20 years every president of the USA attended Yale University. If Hillary gets elected that will mean at least 24 and maybe 28 straight years of presidents from Yale University. After what we have already seen can the country possibly handle such a fate? Maybe it is time we give some other school a chance. On a personal note, way back when I turned down going to Yale and went to the University of Arizona instead. Had I gone to Yale I would have been a classmate with George, Jr., Bill and Hillary.