Monday, April 28, 2008
There is a curious thing about religion in America. In no other country of the world are there more so called spiritually enlightened reverends, priests, fathers or preachers whose calling got mixed up in the party line to God. Somewhere along the line they got so caught up in their rhetoric, their ability to interpret for the Almighty, and their ill-conceived role as the gateway to salvation that they became bigger than the God they served.
The very God they claim to represent became secondary to their own ego driven need for recognition of their supernatural connections, for the accumulation of wealth, and for the worship by the masses, that their mission was lost in translation. They preach fire and brimstone, right and wrong, blame and judgment as if they were the authors of the Bible. These preachers of earth with their earthly ways in the course of leading the masses jettisoned forgiveness, humility, compassion and caring, all traits inherent in the teachings of Jesus.
So I guess to Reverend Wright we are not all God’s children. The sins of the past cannot be forgiven. Revenge is a more appropriate response than turning the other cheek. The most important reward we can gain is feeding the ego. Humility has no place in the pulpit, and God help anyone who would dare question the holiness of the Omnipotent One and I don’t mean Divine Providence.
What our Jeremiah chose to say from the pulpit in the past caused damage to the historic presidential campaign of one of his very own flock, Barack Obama. Substantial damage control by the Obama campaign reduced the impact but did not put out the flames of doubt Wright’s words planted in Americans. But what he is saying in the present could very well drive a fatal stake into the historic opportunity Barach might have had to give equal rights meaning and equal opportunity significance in our society.
Reverend Wrights’ whirlwind tour and incessant press conferences to “defend” his reputation are ego-driven nonsense that will only hurt the Obama campaign and give Clinton and McCain more ammunition to shoot at Obama. Of course the media is driven to expose every last morsel of nonsense from the preacher man out of loyalty to Hillary or a desire to slam the door shut on equal opportunity.
Perhaps the preacher is confused about his own role and thinks he is the reincarnation of the original Jeremiah, the Biblical prophet. Called by God to speak for him at an early age, Jeremiah was scorned and even tortured by fellow priests and politicians for his prophecies on the destruction of Judah and Jerusalem. When it came true Jeremiah’s own people forcefully took him to Egypt and stoned him to death according to Old Testament teachings although details of his death are not certain. Jeremiah was a prophet of doom but looked beyond this judgment to a day when religion, no longer national, would be individual and spiritual. This new kind of religion would result from God’s "new covenant" with His people.
Our modern day Jeremiah leaves no such lasting legacy nor offers such hope for reconciliation between peoples but chooses to demand attention for his own reputation and teaching. To risk such self-serving actions whose consequences could destroy the first legitimate chance for America to fulfill the promises of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and Bill of Rights along with the sacrifices of President Lincoln and many others surely could not be the work of a humble servant of God.
What a shame that healing and forgiveness do not share the same attention from the preacher as protecting his provocative words of the past. What a pity that his concern for his own reputation can override any concern for helping to advance the evolution of the American dream of freedom and equality for all. What a coincidence that this preacher of our people can be the very instrument that can destroy the dreams of those from his own congregation. Are we ever going to hear a discussion of policies to address our problems and concerns?
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Who is she trying to kid? If every Democratic candidate the past four elections has won, then why in the world does Hillary think only she can win them? This is just more example of the campaign spin that has been out of control since the Clinton campaign fell behind on Super Tuesday and the closer we get to the end of the campaign the faster the spinning.
Political pundits said Hillary needed a double-digit win to make it a race. Hillary declared a double-digit victory. Yet the final results show Hillary won by just 9.2% of the vote after leading by over 20% a few weeks earlier. Then to add insult to injury she declared after the primary she now leads in total votes cast in the nation, while forgetting to mention that she included the votes from two states she had agreed not to count in the first place, Michigan and Florida.
What is it with the Clintons and their twisting of the truth? Bill Clinton says he doesn’t inhale pot, had nothing to do with Jennifer Flowers and most certainly was innocent with Monica. Now Hillary says she won’t use race as an issue, counts votes she agreed not to count and that she is the only Democrat that can carry big states. Have leadership and honesty been completely forgotten?
More ominous for Democrats is the polarization of the respective supporters of the candidates. Twenty-five percent of Clinton supporters say they will not vote for Obama if he wins the nomination. At the same time sixteen percent of Obama supporters say they will not support Hillary if she wins. Somewhere between 18-25% of the American public say race will be an issue in the general election. If the Democrats’ polarization stays this way McCain is the next president. There is no way the GOP will fail to capitalize on the Democratic bloodshed. So where does that leave us now?
So here we have the Democrats, the party with the more liberal leaning platform, more social oriented agenda, and with the majority of the minorities in America on the precipice of self-destructing this fall and once again handing the election back to the Republicans. What is it about Democrats that gives them an attitude that if I can’t win the primary my opponent won’t win the general election?
Of course this election is all about race, whether America has matured enough to be able to elect a minority, African-American in this case, to the presidency? The Clinton campaign has been ingenious in the ways they have subtly raised the issue and the results could prove devastating to the party chances in the general election.
Certainly the media has helped foster the polarization in the Democrats with the excessive hype paid to non-issues and self-generated drama to sensationalize normal mistakes made by aspiring politicians. For example the media demands a knock out blow from Obama to prove he can win. How stupid when the convention to decide the candidate is still four months away.
If I were at the DNC I would want the race to go down to the wire and continue dominating the national and world media coverage of my candidates until the fall campaign begins while forgetting the Republican candidate even exists. Did we forget the citizens are supposed to select the candidates, not the media or the political bosses?
What a terrible shame if the racial polarization within the Democratic party reverses over 140 years of political evolution since the Republican party under Abraham Lincoln was the dominate voice for equal rights for minorities in America. It is time the media report the news and the politicians demonstrate party loyalty. If not, then it is time to get rid of the two-party system in America so every vote counts.
There is still time to turn this around and make America proud. The electorate is still waiting for both candidates to demonstrate they are in touch with issues that concern our citizens and they offer hope for our future. There is still time for either candidate to show that they can be the inspirational leader of all the Democrats, all the Republicans and all Americans. As for the rest of the world, there is still time to demonstrate why America is the only super power left in the world. The time is now!
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
The laws of supply and demand have been obliterated by the forces of greed and the price of oil continues to increase every day setting new records driving the price of gas, diesel and aircraft fuel to record highs. Americans drive less, consume less, and spend less and still the price spirals out of control. So why are the people we entrust to lead us silent?
Why are we spending $500 billion to save Iraq in which they were going to repay yet we can’t get the revenue from the oil now being produced by Iraq? Did you know Iraq was producing 2.6 million barrels a day of oil before the American invasion? Just last February production reached 2.4 million barrels a day. In spite of the Bush military surge the oil production can range from 1-2.4 million barrels a day depending on the latest bombing targets by Al Qaeda.
The Bush boys tell us oil was not a factor in the war but did they also mention Iraq has 112 billion barrels of oil reserves, second in the world to Saudi Arabia? They also have 112 trillion cubic feet of natural gas reserves. Economists expect Iraq to reach 6 million barrels a day in production in four years yet none of it seems reserved to repay the USA the $500 billion plus or supply some of the USA needs. In fact, if Clinton or Obama get their way and we pull out of Iraq China or Russia will step in and take control of the 2nd largest reserve of oil in the world.
If refining capacity is a problem, which it is, why aren’t we fast tracking new refineries? No new refineries have been built in America since 1976 when crude oil sold for $12.37 per barrel compared to $112 per barrel today. Based on our military and aircraft needs alone increased refinery capacity should be a matter of national security. Perhaps American oil companies should build refineries in secure friendly countries as well?
Reduce our plastic use in fast food containers, bags and the many other uses, all which are very detrimental to the environment, and oil use goes down. A dual benefit and no one seems to be calling for the change. Paper bags always worked well and hemp stands ready to fill many of our needs if the federal government ever realizes you can’t smoke the stuff.
Any oil producing country dependent on our food should be selling us oil at a discount and most countries of the world are dependent to a large degree on our food. Fact is food is the one commodity more important to world stability than oil as you can see from the current food riots around the globe.
Require one third of all cars sold in America achieve 50 miles per gallon in 3 years and a substantial drop in demand will be achieved. Current regulations concerning the average mileage for an auto manufacturer’s fleet are ludicrous with the truck and SUV exemptions. Forget the fleet averages, the economy and cost of fuel will dictate buying patterns.
Besides, let American consumers decide if they want to pay extra for gas, it is supposed to be a free society. If a high mileage car is available consumers will buy it. We know it can be done because I have a 1946 Austin (UK made) that got 50 miles per gallon. If we could make them 62 years ago we can make them today.
Encourage Americans to stay home and take local trips rather than long vacations, subsidize mass transit to reduce autos on the road, and increase train use for up to 500-mile trips. When it comes to intercity travel trains come out on top of all other transit modes other than walking or bicycles.
Extensive data and statistics are available which show that passenger trains consume just one-quarter to one-third of the energy which automobiles and airliners consume, a fact the DOE refuses to acknowledge. Buy more trains and subways, we already own the facilities and right-of-way, and save on energy use, emissions and road maintenance.
Oh yes, what about the tax on gasoline and diesel fuel? State taxes can range from 14 to 45 cents per gallon and combined with federal taxes that are 18 cents a gallon the government gets an average of 45.9 cents per gallon, with states typically ranging from 32.5 to 63.5 cents in taxes per gallon. How about suspending taxes and not just the federal like McCain said? Perhaps a tax credit or full deduction for gas taxes paid might help.
Now these are just a few of the things politicians could be saying to help our short and long-term energy needs. Why are they silent? They are the office holders or want to be our elected representatives. I guess even experience doesn’t help politicians solve problems.
On the eve of the Pennsylvania primary Hillary Clinton gave us a better idea yet of what she would do when the phone rang at 3 AM during her watch as president. In an interview airing on "Good Morning America" ABC News' Chris Cuomo asked Clinton what she would do if Iran attacked Israel with nuclear weapons.
"I want the Iranians to know that if I'm the president, we will attack Iran," Clinton said. "In the next 10 years, during which they might foolishly consider launching an attack on Israel, we would be able to totally obliterate them."
We don't know why she spoke for the next ten years unless she has plans to violate the Constitution and run for a third term. We do know that 71 million Iranians would be dead as a result of her early morning call. We also know that Israel would be wipe out so most of the Middle East and much of the world oil reserves would be gone. It would be nice if we could prevent such an attack rather than respond after the fact but some people just don't get it when it comes to intelligence and security.
According to a new survey by the WorldPublicOpinion.org, WPO found Iranians markedly more open — by some 10 percentage points or more in most cases — to exchanges and diplomatic discussions with the U.S. than in December 2006. For example, seven out of 10 respondents said they favored more tourism between the two countries, compared to less than five out of 10 some 15 months before.
Nearly six in 10 Iranians said they favored direct talks between the two countries on "issues of mutual concern," compared to 48 percent who took that position in December 2006. Seven of 10 respondents said they favored talks "to stabilize the situation in Iraq."
It has taken a couple of decades for Iranians to begin to soften their attitude toward the USA and the positive change in Iranian youth is even stronger. Is this the time for our new president to be threatening to obliterate a nation of 71 million people? Hillary just might be colder than the cold war. Is that what experience teaches?
So here we are, in the twilight of his 8 years leading the most powerful nation on earth, and where do we stand? The leaders of the international terrorist group that brought us 9-11, the worst loss of human life in America since Pearl Harbor, remain free and continue to cause international chaos. Two wars have been fought costing us nearly a trillion dollars to stop them and both wars are nowhere near being won nor the terrorists caught. There is no stability in the Middle East, the same situation he inherited in 2001.
We are back to being suspicious of Russia, more suspicious of China and still waiting for Castro to die. Thanks to the commitment of Bush to carry out NAFTA which was passed under Clinton, millions of manufacturing jobs have moved from the USA to Mexico where poor wages, the lack of health care and high crime rate have caused the number of illegal immigrants to increase, not decrease.
World opinion of America has dropped to the lowest ever while the approval rating of the president is also the lowest ever recorded. With approval for Congress falling far below that of the president it seems government in general has fallen out of favor not only with foreign people but also with the people of America.
Our wars without end have driven up prices for consumer goods, led to a major economic retrenchment nationally, and pushed the entire world to the brink of economic catastrophe. The Bush administration failed to see the futility of war, failed to see the dark clouds in the economy, failed to see the price of oil, gold and food reach historic highs and failed to police the rampant corruption in the housing and financial industries.
On the home front he failed to address immigration reform, one of his top priorities. He instituted a wholesale attack on individual rights and freedom with his domestic efforts to stop terrorism. Every effort to aid big business from tax cuts to the war efforts have failed to accomplish anything except line the pockets of the rich and assure multi-million dollar bonuses for the corporate leaders who stole America blind.
In terms of protecting America he has worn out the heroic members of the military, abused the domestic National Guard by sending them across the world to fight wars, and destroyed families by continuing to extend the time the National Guard was stuck in Iraq and Afghanistan.
With this kind of a legacy Bush might want to see the End Times come fast so his administration cannot be judged to unkindly by historians. Then there is VP Cheney, yet another of the many advisors to Bush senior whose ideas were worn out and totally unsuited to the treacherous waters facing Bush the Younger.
Anyway Jimmy Carter can tell you all about nice guy former southern governor presidents and the price they pay for trying to help out. Don’t get me wrong, it is not as if everything about Bush was wrong. He must have done some good things. Certainly First Lady Laura was a bright light in the long night and his kids were entertaining. The fact Jenna refuses to get married in the White House might indicate just how she feels about life in the fishbowl.
So dance away George and just maybe a few things can go right in the next few months. You really have nothing to lose.
Friday, April 18, 2008
It seems as if the ABC News attempt to trivialize the election and make the Pennsylvania voters sound like political idjits, as the Irish would say is dominating the primary for next Tuesday. The Gibson-Stephanopoulos mud wrestling at the Democratic debate continues to dominate the election news as well it should for if politicians are not talking about the issues it is because the news media is incapable of asking about it.
Stephanopoulos has been fiercely defending his bizarre performance, as any good Clinton staffer should. Hillary is acting as if the debacle never took place, as any good Clinton should. Obama, who got bushwhacked by the Clinton machine, retains his good humor in spite of the underhanded tactics used against him. The Pennsylvania voters, who have been dealing with idiotic politicians and media since the founding of America 232 years ago are still waiting for the apology from ABC News, the commentators or perhaps Mickey Mouse on behalf of Disney (owner of ABC).
So what resulted from the latest Clinton tactics to insult the intelligence of America? Well post debate polls show Barach has pulled to just 4 points behind Hillary, well within the margin of error to make this a dead heat going into the last weekend. That is a remarkable surge since a couple of weeks ago Obama was over 20 points behind in the polls.
One good policy has resulted from the debate; Obama has said there will be no more debates with Hillary. Praise God Almighty the American public will finally be spared the senseless babble and tactics demonstrated over the last year and a half in 21 performances by the candidates. Finally voters will be allowed to make up their own mind about the candidates, not do what the media tells them.
As for Hillary’s message that only she can beat McCain, nonsense! Polls show Barach can just as easily beat him and Hillary has far higher and more deeply based negative numbers than any recent presidential candidate. Perhaps the fog is finally lifting on the Clinton candidacy allowing people to see through the rhetoric and double talk, see that it is a year when history should be tested and the history is whether a minority candidate can become president of the greatest nation on Earth.
Pennsylvania voters have a chance to set America on a historic course this fall, to send a message that the old school political tactics of the past have no place in our future, and that it is the policies and personalities of the candidates, not the antics of the moderators that will decide the election. The birthplace of American Freedom can once again free us from the errors of the past.
Perhaps the media in America has been in a long slumber or something but the coast-to-coast headline today about the 5.4 earthquake in Illinois should be no surprise to the informed media. New Madrid just south of St. Louis in the midwest has had three or four of the strongest earthquakes to ever hit the continental United States.
Over a three month period starting in December 1811 there were at least three quakes all nearly a magnitude 8 that destroyed this area ringing church bells from Montreal to New Orleans and felt over nearly the entire eastern half of the United States. Only the San Francisco quake of 1906 comes close.
The New Madrid quakes were so strong that an eyewitness account said the Mississippi River, the largest in the USA and one of the most powerful in the world, actually collapsed causing the river to run backwards and a 50 foot waterfall appeared out of nowhere.
California gets all the attention but New Madrid is the real danger to America. Oh yes, in a normal year there is just one 8 magnitude earthquake in the ENTIRE WORLD.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
The citizens of Coltons Point, St. Mary’s County, the State of Maryland and the United States have a rare opportunity to correct an oversight of history and help celebrate one of the greatest events in the history of Christianity. After acknowledgement of the role of St. Clements Island in the history of the Roman Catholic Church and all of Christianity during the Mass with Pope Benedict XVI in our nation’s capitol the time has come to recognize the historic events.
St. Clements should have a Shrine built to honor the series of events and miracles that surrounded the 1634 landing and sainthood should be granted for the work of Father Andrew White, the first Jesuit priest in English speaking America, the first priest to conduct a Mass with the Eucharist, the first to consecrate America to the Holy Mother Mary and the Will of God and the first to bring a relic of the True Cross of Jesus to America, a relic that saved the son of the Native American Emperor and led to the conversion to Catholicism of the Emperor and his family along with many other Native Americans.
In 1930 North America got our first canonized martyrs, the North American Jesuit Martyrs who were murdered in Canada and New York around 1646. Father White’s historic achievements 12 years earlier made the martyrs achievement possible. While these Jesuits were being killed Father White had been captured and taken back to England where he was tried for conducting a public Mass in the colonies, a crime punishable by death. If anyone deserves to be the first saint from North America it was Father White.
In 1634 when the Ark and the Dove landed at St. Clements Island just off Coltons Point it was a far more historic moment than you might realize. Not only did the first Catholic settlers arrive in the colonies on the ships, so did the first Jesuit priest, Father Andrew White. Father White was responsible for the first charter in the world guaranteeing religious freedom. He carried a relic of the True Cross of Jesus with him when the boats miraculously survived storms at sea and Father White healed the dying son of a Native American Emperor with the relic.
Father Andrew White, who helped George Calvert put together the migration of Catholics to America, led a life worthy of a major motion picture. He grew up in England in a time when the Catholics were being driven out of the country. Shortly after secretly becoming a priest he was discovered and banished to Spain. After six years in Spain he heard his friend Calvert back in England was putting together a group to settle lands in America left to Calvert, lands Calvert intended to use to achieve religious tolerance in the colonies and for the first Catholic settlement in America.
White snuck back into England and helped Calvert gather the necessary people to make the treacherous journey and Calvert also agreed to set aside large tracts of his American land grant for the Catholic church and for the Jesuits in hopes they would use the land to become self-sufficient in the new World and survive.
Father White’s journals during the trip are the most significant description of settling the New World in existence. His account of the pilgrims' voyage and landing, Relatio Itineris in Marylandiam, recounts the colonists' heroic and miraculous sojourn to freedom. Among other details he told of two hurricane-type storms the ship encountered on the foreboding winter Atlantic seas. The passengers and crew said only a miracle saved them from drowning.
In his possession Father White carried with him a relic of the True Cross of Jesus, the very Cross that was used for the crucifixion. It had been given to Father White by English nobility to protect him on his journey. This was the first relic of such significance to reach America and few knew he even possessed it. Perhaps it had something to do with the miracles that saved the ships during the storms?
The web site The Cross and the Veil tells more of the story. American Catholics have a treasury of faith now all but forgotten and hidden away in the countryside of Southern Maryland. "Mary's Land" was the third English-speaking colony of America and the first colony founded by a charter guaranteeing freedom of religion. St. Clements Island, located in the Potomac River in St. Mary's County, Maryland, is the birthplace of both religious toleration and Catholicism in the English-speaking colonies of America. Father White celebrated the first Eucharist on that same day for the many Catholic pilgrims. Later Father White was to be the first to break the Native American Piscataway language barrier with a grammar and catechism.
In Father White’s own words he described the first landing at St. Clements Island: “On the day of the annunciation of the Holy Virgin Mary, on the 25th of March, in the year 1634, we offered in this island, for the first time, the sacrifice of the mass: in this region of the world it had never been celebrated before. Sacrifice being ended, having taken up on our shoulders the great cross which we had hewn from a tree, and going in procession to the place that had been designated, the Governor, com missioners, and other Catholics participating in the ceremony, we erected it as a trophy to Christ the Savior, while the litany of the holy cross was chanted humbly on the bended knees, with great emotion of soul.”
The events leading up to the voyage weave a rich historical tapestry. Since the English "Reformation", Catholics had suffered and died for their faith in England. George Calvert, a well-known Anglican statesman, saw the rights of Catholics ever more abased in England in the early 1630's and chose that time to publicly announce his conversion to Catholicism and intention to found a colony based on religious toleration. It was Father Andrew White who wrote a widely published defense of the founding of a colony based on a charter guaranteeing religious freedom. It was this charter that was later to become the blueprint for the Maryland Bill of Rights and also an inspiration for the U.S. Bill of Rights.
The fledgling colony of Maryland with its General Assembly composed of both Protestants and Catholics was soon under attack by Puritans who ruled but a few brief years. The colony was restored shortly thereafter only to fall yet again in the mid-1640's under the tyrannical rule of the Church-State of England. Father White was captured and returned to England in chains 11 years after his arrival to await trial for openly celebrating Mass, a crime punishable by death in England. A good attorney convinced the court of his innocence and Father White was banished to Belgium.
Returning to England as an old man, Father White spent three years in prison and later lived in a private home where he prophesied the date of his death far in advance to be the Feast of St. John The Evangelist. Sitting down in a chair at sunset on that very day, he closed his eyes and died. This brilliant academician, political theorist, activist, and missionary had inconspicuously taken up the cross past middle age to help found a colony devoted to the ideal of the separation of church and state and the idea of religious toleration. In his account of the journey, Father White relates that he consecrated the land to Mary and to the will of God.
For over 80 years, from the late 1600's until shortly after the Declaration of Independence, Maryland Catholics were cruelly persecuted under the rule of the Church-State of England. The laws rightfully established by the diverse members of the Maryland General Assembly were repealed and the colony was divided into parishes ruled by rectors appointed by the governor. Catholics were heavily taxed, prohibited from holding office or sending their children to school. Protestant widows who married Catholics had their children legally taken from them. Priests disguised themselves as traveling salesmen whose ringing bells could be disassembled to become what were called "saddle chalices" for the celebration of the Eucharist in house chapels.
During this time of persecution, the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus was spread via a French prayer book for men. The devotion spread like fire through the colony. At the same time, the Great Awakening was taking place in Protestant assemblies who also suffered under the rule of the Church of England. Even under terrible restraints, conversions to Catholicism were many. One historian postulates that it was the solidarity between the various denominations as well as their righteous anger that was the true catalyst for the American Revolution. It was the knowledge of their persecution that caused French Canada to join America in its fight for liberty. Without French Canada's help, American independence would have been but a dream.
Now, as the world faces ever-increasing religious intolerance and bigotry toward people of faith, Catholics can return to the roots of their own faith to learn about the sanctity of religious freedom, the heroic sacrifices of our ancestors and the preciousness of our Catholic faith and culture. Modern day democracy was first given birth at the foot of a cross, planted on a tiny island in Southern Maryland on the little celebrated feast of the conception of the Child, Jesus.
It is about time that the Church and the nation that benefited from the events 374 years ago recognize the historic occasion and the pioneering Jesuit who made it possible.
Prior to the Mass Fox provided almost 5 hours of continuous coverage with a full team of reporters with respect, dignity and class, while still managing to work in the Fox trademarks of high energy and fun. While acknowledging that many reporters were not Catholics they excelled in educating the public and covering all aspects of the historic visit by the Pope.
Georgie, the spokesperson and chief defender for President Bill Clinton during the Whitewater and Monica Lewinski scandals continued to be the loyal Clinton supporter as he valiantly tried to tie Barach Obama to a host of unsavory characters from the ancient Weatherman days of 40 years ago to Reverend Big Mouth of modern times.
ABC, short for A Bunch of Crap, seems intent on taking the crown from CBS for offering the most slanted news coverage possible. With such trustworthy news people as Diane Sawyer available it seems strange that a former Clinton insider would be doing the questioning for the network but when Disney owns you even the news has a fantasy spin.
February 2, 1998
We were hoping Obama would walk over and slap little Georgie for his mean-spirited questions but alas he was too much the gentleman. Hillary, clinging to a razor-thin lead in the Pennsylvania polls for the primary next Tuesday was unusually smug as she kept saying such tactics should be kept out of politics while throwing one barb after another in the typical Bill Clinton fashion.
It looked like a tag team affair between Georgie and Hillary as they once again worked to distract the media and public like they did so well during the Whitewater and Lewinski scandals. Hillary says she is experienced in the demands on the chief executive but I am not sure her experiences are what the public is seeking.
If experience is all it is about then McCain and Clinton, the only two candidates eligible for membership in the AARP, have a lot of explaining to do for all those years in public service. It is not experience that counts but what you learned from the experience. There is a real difference between working up a head of steam and being caught in a fog. Let’s hope the Clinton Steam Team can get a chance to focus on issues.
Starr Subpoenas Stephanopulous
Source says Clinton did not flatly deny December meeting with Lewinsky
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics Feb. 1) -- Former White House aide George Stephanopoulos has been subpoenaed by Independent Counsel Ken Starr to appear before the grand jury in Washington, CNN learned Monday.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
The following view of the Lighthouse and Cross towering in the background on St. Clements Island just off Coltons Point captured the first confirmed sighting of the Coltons Point Nessie casually sauntering past the Island.
Rumors of the existence of such a monster have circulated for 300 years but until this week it has never been captured on film. Unlike the Nessie of Loch Ness fame in Scotland, the Coltons Point Nessie exposed much more of its massive size to the camera.
Media and photographers are expected to be lining the beaches and seawalls of the Point in the weeks to come to confirm the sighting and be the first to sell pictures to National Enquirer and other media outlets while here at the Point we wonder just what is really in the waters of the Potomac to cause such a critter to appear.
Please submit pictures and reports of your close encounters with Nessie so we can update the files and watch for the Coltons Point Nessie tee shirts to appear in the museum soon. Also you should report any missing people so a determination can be made on whether they are worth a massive sea search.
Thursday, April 10, 2008
The church currently practices the law of placing, whereby a young woman of marriageable age is assigned a husband by revelation from God to the leader of the church, who is regarded as a prophet. The prophet elects to take and give wives to and from men according to their worthiness. Wives may be taken from one man and reassigned to men that are more worthy.
Originally established in the border towns of Colorado City, Arizona and Hildale, Utah there are also isolated FLDS groups in Bountiful, British Columbia, Canada, Mesquite, NV, Pringle, SD, and the new headquarters at El Dorado, TX. The colony of about 1,000 FLDS members living in Bountiful, British Columbia are almost all descendents of six men.
Reported criminal activity in the cult indicates a pattern of child marriage, sexual abuse and trafficking, in which girls from the ages of 13 to 16 have been married to older men and girls are being trafficked to Canada for marriage to polygamous men in British Columbia. Adult women have also described battering, intimidation and sexual abuse within polygamous families. Young women inside these communities are vulnerable to coercion by family members and religious leaders to enter polygamous marriages. Trained to obey religious teachings and denied any other education, they may see no real alternative.
The Colorado City/Hildale area has the world's highest incidence of fumarase deficiency, an extremely rare genetic condition which causes severe mental retardation. Geneticists attribute this to the prevalence of cousin marriage between descendants of two of the town's founders, Joseph Smith Jessup and John Yeates Barlow; one local historian reports that 75–80 percent of the double-communities' roughly 10,000 inhabitants are descended from one or both of these men.
The courage of a 16 year old girl, already a mother and pregnant again broke open the case against the FLDS when she called a hotline in town for help from beatings, rape and a forced marriage. Although the Texas sheriff had an insider at the cult reporting on their illegal activity it was not until the call from the girl that law enforcement could take action and what they discovered was bizzare as over 400 children were recovered from the one compound.
One 16 year old found in the compound had 4 children. Stories of the bizzare and immoral behaviour of the sect leaders abound including the fact over 400 young teenage males were banished from the cult in the past few years because of a shortage of girls for assigned marriages as each husband must have at least 3 wives. Perhaps this shortage is what caused 13 year olds to be married.
Now what is going to happen in the other compounds where this activity has been taking place for years? Can law enforcement officials in Arizona, Utah, Nevada, South Dakota, and Canada show the same agressiveness as Texas authorities in bringing this deplorable practice to an end? We shall see.
Friday, April 04, 2008
The driving force behind the dramatic surge in readers were stories about international finances and the presidential election with the JP Morgan Chase – Bear Stearns story “A Trillionaires Delight” leading the way. It has reached the number one most popular story on etradewire and efinancewire websites in the past 30 days and it appears on dozens of diverse sites around the world.
Tracking data indicates nearly 1,100 registered journalists have accessed stories in the Coltons Point Times the past two weeks and reprints are posted around the world. One day a Google search of JP Morgan, Bear Stearns and Trillionaire articles showed our story was in every one of the top ten Google searches.
With our readership now established at about 20 times the entire population of Coltons Point we seem to be doing something right. However, although I mentioned that we do not charge, sell mailing lists or allow advertising, we do feel justified in asking that you refer the Coltons Point Times to anyone you think may need our particular brand of enlightenment. All you have to do is tell them to check out the following web site that you can cut and paste.
Thanks to the enormous ego and dedication of Oprah to bringing us the most important stories in America we now know all about the world’s first pregnant man although such a claim seems to fall on deaf ears since the man was a woman and the man kept all the women’s sexual organs.
If anything the guy/girl is the first medical miracle mutation where steroids, genetic manipulation and not sex change but the addition of male sex organs has resulted in a freak of nature who will be well rewarded for his/her efforts thanks to Oprah, People Magazine, genetic scientists and Good Morning America among others who seem to think playing God is cool.
Since Oprah insists on having her name on everything she does don’t be surprised if the kid is named Oprah if a girl, Opy if a boy, and Oopsie if a combination of the two like her mother/father or father/mother. Now is it really necessary to dominate the TV airways and magazines with such stories when so much truth is out there and needs our attention?
According to an article in The New Yorker Magazine titled Oprah’s World, Spreading the gospel of giving by Nancy Franklin I am not the only one to notice her obsession with putting her name on everything. Nancy wrote the following excerpt from the story.
“Among the possessive trademarks that Winfrey controls are Oprah & Friends, Oprah’s Angel Network, Oprah’s Book Club, Wildest Dreams with Oprah, The Oprah Store, Oprah Boutique, and Oprah’s Favorite Things. The design of the letter “O” used in the title of her magazines, O, The Oprah Magazine and O at Home, is trademarked. Leave it to Winfrey to have a trademark on the letter that’s the symbol for the element oxygen; it’s as if she owned the very air we breathe—not to mention that she was a co-founder of the TV network Oxygen, and that, it was announced two months ago, she is starting up a new venture called the Oprah Winfrey Network, whose acronym is OWN. Snap! Go to Oprah.com and sign up to join “Oprah’s world,” and stay on top of all her activities, which are taking place everywhere, all the time: on TV (her talk show is seen in more than a hundred countries), on the Internet, in movies, in bookstores, on Broadway, on newsstands, in South Africa at her school for young girls, in New Orleans reporting on Hurricane Katrina’s devastation, in Des Moines endorsing Barack Obama.”
Wednesday, April 02, 2008
Was it just 16 months ago that Nancy Pelosi, newly elected Speaker of the House and leader of the Democratic majority that took over the House and Senate declared that: "The election of 2006 was a call to change — not merely to change the control of Congress, but for a new direction for our country. Nowhere were the American people more clear about the need for a new direction than in Iraq. The American people rejected an open-ended obligation to a war without end.”
Pelosi, third in line to be president, the first woman to ever get that close, promised to spend the first 100 hours in control of Congress to begin to "drain the swamp" after more than a decade of Republican rule. A legislative package was included in the 100-hour promise along with the Iraq war promise and even a major cutback in pork barrel spending by congress.
As the deadlines came and went and congress still sputtered under new management about the only thing that changed was the approval rating for congress as it went into a freefall and plunged to the lowest levels in polling history, reaching around 13%, compared to the highly unfavorable president they were after whose rating also plunged to around 30%, still almost triple that of congress.
Her agenda for change was swept under the carpet along with all the campaign promises and the longer the Democratic contenders for president battle it out no one will notice how the new Democratic leadership failed to deliver on all their promises. And now Pelosi wants Bush to boycott the Olympic Opening ceremonies in China, yet another misguided effort that will only snub the USA Olympic team whose entire lives have been dedicated to representing us in China.
Concerning pork barrel spending, Nancy promised to reduce the spending by 50%. Every year since he became president Bush tried to eliminate the spending altogether but to no avail. So with a new House Speaker and a promise for reform things looked up and the first year the pork barrel did drop from $29 billion in 2006 to $13.2 billion in 2007 for 2,668 projects although the Bush vetoes had a lot to do with it.
Now we are in the second year of Pelosi rule and lo and behold, the pork barrel spigot seems to have been turned back on with expenditures rising to $18.3 billion for 12,881 pet projects. In just one year we went from a 60% reduction in spending to a 40% increase in spending, what a stunning turnaround. I guess Nancy forgot to mention she was only going to stop pork barrel for one year. And who is the national leader in pork barrel projects, why Hillary Clinton of course. Now just how are things changing for the better?
April Fools has come and passed,
and we are still the biggest a--!
This is great. On April 1st, April Fools Day, weird things really started to happen. More depressing news about the multi-billion dollar sub prime mortgage losses by the big investment houses and international banks, so the next day the stock market goes up about 400 points. Since when did bad news cause market gains? Until today it didn’t matter what kind of news, good or bad, you could count on the market going down.
I mean the economics experts and media mouthpieces declared and demanded that we were in a recession. Only bad stuff happens in recessions. The market can’t go up like that, not after all we did to bring it down. Then two of the most popular arthritis prescriptions were discovered to not work, after years of use and millions of users. Still the market went up.
Follow that with the opening of major league baseball and the Yankees got rained out. For the first time in history there are four number 1 teams in the NCAA March Madness semi-finals. Just 1,500 more commercials and we can crown the national champion. John McCain is wandering around America trying to rediscover his roots and remind us he is still alive and running for president. He best be careful, no telling how many wild oats he sowed in his youth that he doesn’t remember. Still the market went up.
Speaking of sowing wild oats, how many of your kids would have the slightest idea what you were talking about if you told them to go sow their wild oats? Maybe you don’t know either? People have sure left behind a lot of rich culture that was traded in for such modern riches as microwave radiation and mauling of the English language. I think people raised in America who can’t speak proper English should be fined. Assault and battery on the spoken word should be the charge.
Back to now, we also were told cell phone radiation will cause more cases of cancer and brain tumors and more people will die from microwave radiation poisoning than from lung cancer. They still don’t know the effect of point blank microwave radiation on the electrical circuitry of the brain over extended periods of time. Kids could be frying their brain cells. I have an English study over 10 years old that said the same thing. We didn’t listen then, why should we listen now? Still the market went up.
And what in the world do you think the long-term effect of Viagra on our old geysers might be? Extended life or early death, are possible. You know ever since they added that line to the Viagra ad, under the warning part, that said “if your erection lasts longer than four hours consult your doctor immediately,” sales have increased tenfold. I’m sure men would not want to risk using it if they thought they might have an erection for over four hours. Maybe when they reach four hours someone should first check them for rigormortis, might be a better explanation.
Today we also learned that over 50% of all the public school students in our 17 largest cities drop out of high school. Well that sure explains why our test scores are going up. Get rid of the losers and the average grade of the rest goes up. Didn’t the president start an education program called No One Left Behind or something like that? I see all that money had a real positive effect on our children. Why are per pupil costs increasing when the number of pupils is decreasing by over 1.2 million a year? Still the market went up.
A lot of other strange stuff happened as well. The presidents of the oil companies talked to Congress today. The congressmen bitched, the oil men said they needed the billions of dollars in profits to protect their companies from future problems, and they still had their billions in tax benefits when they left along with the billions in profits. Don’t know about you but to me having a three-ring circus in congress and calling it a hearing to investigate the oil companies is the height of conceit or the pinnacle of hypocrisy.
I’m a bit more concerned about the amount of money these same people have invested in our politicians this year. For all federal races this year, meaning president, house and senate races, the Lawyers and Law Firms have given $159 millions, Securities and Investment firms have given $104.5 millions, Commercial Banks have given $24.1 millions, Oil & Gas companies have given $14.2 millions, and Pharmaceutical firms have given $13.6 millions. That means those five industries alone have invested over $315.4 millions to see that the “right” politician wins.
Keep your eyes open my friends. See if anything really does change. There will be a lot of new faces, no question. Truth is there should have been a lot more getting tossed out but people haven’t seen the light yet. At least 80% of the incumbents will get elected yet again thanks to all that special interest money they received. The same people who passed the budgets, approved the wars and passed the laws for the last eight years will be back and as long as they are there Barack, Hillary or John may be president but congress will still control the agenda. Who will control congress?
What a shame everything I just reported on is true and not an April 1st prank.
Tuesday, April 01, 2008
Hillary Clinton Total Raised $169,003,120 Total Spent $135,828,257 Cash on Hand $33.174,862 Debts $8,733,609.
John McCain Total Raised $64,654,539 Total Spent $56,657,944 Cash on Hand $7,996,595 Debts $4,340,981.
BARACK OBAMA (D)
1 Lawyers/Law Firms $13,341,673
2 Misc Business $10,261,541
3 Retired $9,058,652
4 Securities & Investment $6,715,680
5 Education $5,069,186
6 Real Estate $3,429,506
7 Business Services $2,942,591
8 TV/Movies/Music $2,938,164
9 Misc Finance $2,241,483
10 Health Professionals $2,229,996
11 Computers/Internet $2,188,950
12 Civil Servants/Public Officials $1,819,978
13 Commercial Banks $1,366,708
14 Printing & Publishing $1,339,692
15 Non-Profit Institutions $782,689
16 Hospitals/Nursing Homes $732,557
17 Other $699,717
18 Insurance $695,587
19 Construction Services $607,996
20 Retail Sales $558,015
BARACK OBAMA (D)
Goldman Sachs $522,228
UBS AG $327,302
JP Morgan Chase & Co. $316,892
Lehman Brothers $302,697
National Amusements Inc $293,022
Citigroup, Inc. $290,146
University of California $275,046
Sidley Austin LLP $271,857
Harvard University $264,941
Google Inc $259,010
Skadden, Arps et al $248,743
Exelon Corp $227,661
Morgan Stanley $225,976
Time Warner $221,878
Jones Day $212,525
Latham & Watkins $187,208
Kirkland & Ellis $181,976
University of Chicago $179,147
Citadel Investment Group $175,900
Micrcosoft Corp $167,990
HILLARY CLINTON (D)
1 Lawyers/Law Firms $14,528,397
2 Misc Business $7,049,878
3 Retired $6,797,545
4 Securities & Investment $6,595,700
5 Real Estate $5,708,664
6 Business Services $3,678,060
7 Education $3,259,386
8 TV/Movies/Music $2,940,867
9 Health Professionals $2,613,779
10 Misc Finance $2,331,271
11 Computers/Internet $1,701,717
12 Civil Servants/Public Officials $1,637,316
13 Commercial Banks $1,367,684
14 Printing & Publishing $1,167,628
15 Misc Manufacturing & Distributing $1,000,738
16 Accountants $966,834
17 Insurance $911,256
18 Lobbyists $880,790
19 Retail Sales $870,848
20 Non-Profit Institutions $858,852
HILLARY CLINTON (D)
DLA Piper $495,550
Goldman Sachs $440,300
Morgan Stanley $385,420
Citigroup, Inc $383,852
EMILY's List $323,242
Lehman Brothers $264,610
JP Morgan Chase & Co. $258,120
National Amusements Inc $227,800
Skadden, Arps et al $218,485
Greenberg Traurig LLP $191,100
Kirkland & Ellis $186,551
Pricewaterhouse Coopers $185,000
University of California $184,617
Time Warner $182,150
Microsoft Corp $175,419
Merrill Lynch $172,900
Ernest & Young $157,575
Latham & Watkins $155,088
Bear Stearns $152,090
Cablevision Systems $148,263
JOHN MCCAIN (R) At present John is so far behind we will give him a chance to catch up. Of course he also has similar contributors so he better keep his pledge as well. Keep an eye on the campaign debts with both Hillary and John in the millions of dollars. Also keep an eye on the incredible amount of contributions from the financial sector including investment banks, commercial banks, etc., the same groups now being investigated by Congress and the Justice Department.
Yes it is time for change!
If the people of America want to get control of their country now is the time but it can only happen if they take responsibility for what happens in their country. You see, people seem to have forgotten the rest of the story when it comes to our Bill of Rights. When they published the full title of the Amendments to the Constitution the editors left out part of the title. It should have read the Bill of Rights and Responsibilities.
There is no better generation to fix that problem than the battle tested, Cold War conditioned, oil shortage hardened Baby Boomers who are the only generation of the past century to understand the price of freedom and the dangers of democracy. I think every person who cares and wants things better should wear a tee shirt and paste bumper stickers that proclaim, “This is My Country!”
We can start by telling the politicians who want to be president that we the people will tell them what we need and what to do. Last time I checked they work for us. So the true Agenda for Change will be presented in this series of articles on Taking Back America. The pollsters, political advisors and advertising agencies that put words or sound bytes into the mouths of politicians have it all wrong. They are the very people who got us into this mess.
No we need to give government back to the people, give God back to the government and give meaning back to our Declaration and Constitution. We need to provide what people need, stop promoting what we don’t need, and start seeing government act like our friend and protector rather than a front for greed and power hungry individuals or corporations.
America must be wealthy, not the rulers who try and run or own America. Don’t you think those who claim to know have victimized us for long enough? We want a nation where housing laws protect the homeowners not the mortgage and financial institutions. We want banking laws that protect the citizens not the credit card companies, debt collectors, lawyers and hidden fees.
Our government licenses telephone companies, television and radio stations, banks, mortgage companies, investment banks, doctors and stock brokers among many others, while we regulate the stock market, commodity market (including the price of oil and food), energy companies, interstate commerce, foreign aid and practically every other aspect of our lives. Do you feel protected?
We spend more money protecting oil producing nations, arms dealers, drug companies, banks and investment houses than we do protecting people and that has simply got to change. Look at the cost, $500 billion and 4,000 American lives in Iraq to protect the Arab nations from Arab terrorists, or is it the Arab oil producers from disruption? What do we get? Record oil prices, no effort by OPEC to increase production and lower prices, and the scorn of the world.
Or how about our Afghanistan experience? We spend billions to chase the terrorists out of Afghanistan into hiding in Pakistan, a nation where we spend billions more to protect the military and government that gives the terrorists safe haven. We have no viable foreign policy, we just support the arms dealers of the world who make sure there is always civil unrest, genocide and demigods running amok where we can spend billions more defending people. If America stopped financing war directly and indirectly do you think the arms dealers would spend their own money to cause wars?
Back in the good old USA we have more than enough wars of our own to fight against the destruction of our immune systems by the pharmaceutical companies, the addictions imposed on us by television, video games, hospitals and doctors, the health care industry, the wellness industry, the physical education industry, and all those who think the only way to good health is through the pocketbook.
Then there are the phone companies, banks and credit card companies with their incredible hidden fees and confusing billings, insurance companies that increase rates for reasons having nothing to do with their insurance coverage, the media whose message is always influenced by the advertising dollars it might generate, and the government who works for everyone but the people it is supposed to represent.
Oh it is time for change all right, and the change we need must be cataclysmic to do any good. All the shadowy figures that profit from our difficulties, steal from our treasury and attempt to influence our minds and destroy our wills are counting on us being too weak, too self-centered and too preoccupied to bring about change but I say they are wrong. Once again the bad guys have underestimated the power of freedom and the will of the people.
Proudly display your sign This is My Country and then do what they don’t expect, show you care. Help establish the Agenda for Change that we need, not the one politicians say we need. Start out by making a concerted effort to send a message to the oil profiteers by joining in a national effort to stay at home from Memorial Day until the Fourth of July, Independence Day, and reduce oil and gas consumption as much as possible.
Spend weekends with your family, seeing what you missed in your community, state and surrounding areas. Enjoy the local festivals and events. Turn off television and limit your time on the Internet and we can start to get back our nation. Asking you to save money does not sound like too much to ask. Please share this article with anyone and everyone you can by directing them to: http://coltonspointtimes.blogspot.com/.
Comments and suggestions are welcome.
What are the targets for change?
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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. 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?
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.
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. Now why do we loan med students the money when bank financing would be readily available in light of their low risk?
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Over $1 billion will be spent running for president and that 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.
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.
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