Friday, November 30, 2007

Upcoming events in December and for 2008 - 11.30.2007.2

From Michael Vass,

As we enter the month of December I just want to take a moment to share some of the things that are going on with M V Consulting, Inc. and all of its sites. As you may notice there has been a lot of activity in recent weeks. And I’m not planning on slowing down anytime soon.

Currently there is the $1000 Holiday Give Away Contest, which will end on December 15th. I invite everyone to review the rules at the above link or the press release at PRWeb ( ). I’m looking forward to giving away the money and I hope a truly needy family or individual wins. Remember that the entry is free, and no purchase is required.

There is also the TV One webcast of the Heartland Presidential Forum on December 1st @ 2:30pm. As one of the bloggers selected to cover this webcast I look forward to sharing my thoughts on all the candidates comments. This is an important webcast as regular people will be providing questions for the candidates, live not YouTube. This is also critical as voting in primaries will start early January.

There is little more important than selecting who will run for President of the United States, and there has not been a more critical election, in my opinion, since the 70’s when I was a child. Every vote counts, as recent elections have proven, and never are they as important as the 2008 election.

You can see my political commentary from 2007 and in the future at Vass or at Presidential Race Blog where I also write.

But in more immediate terms there is the holiday season. Some may have taken a look in the past at my online store and I want to let everyone know that there are many types of t-shirts, mugs, mousepads, posters, jewelry boxes, Teddy bears, sweatshirts, and more available. There are over 10 different clothing lines featured at the store including, Sexy Woman, You’ll Do (as seen above, a favorite among many women it seems), Cowboy Ride, and I am the Myth.

Oh, there is also a deal for purchases over $75. And as I mentioned in my press release, I will be donating all profits from the sales at the online store to $1000 Holiday Give Away Contest. While purchase is not required to enter or win, if you do see something you feel would be a great gift for someone or yourself (there are over 200 items available) it will go to help others.

In addition, for those with businesses or who just want to be charitable, all donations made to the $1000 Holiday Give Away Contest will be given out to the winner(s). Every dollar counts and adds to what will be given away.

In the near term I will be doing my annual lists, summing up some thoughts of 2007. In addition I will be reporting the growth of M V Consulting, Inc. and all its sites. It has been a tremendous year.

Looking to 2008, expect to see another $1000 Give Away Contest or several of them. I will continue to follow the Presidential race, right up to the election night. I will get some free time and will be doing a few photo shoots for the various clothing lines. [Anyone interested in being a model for the photo shoot can send a headshot and contact information to] Additional clothing lines will be released throughout the year as well.

I will also be seeking one or 2 corporate sponsors for the various sites. It is my hope that by gaining dedicated sponsors I will be able to decrease the advertising found on each site (though I have tried to do my best to keep it minimal. But it costs money to keep things going. You can donate to help by going to the PayPal donation button at the top left of the sidebar).

There also will be some changes in the look of the blog sites. You are welcome to provide me any suggestions on changes you would like to see. I value the opinions of all my readers and those that leave comments, so tell me your thoughts.

You can look forward to better (I hope, I do make them myself) video ads, an improved resources pages, reworked gift store pages, and new video clips of posts (possibly in a news commentator style). These are ambitious (and costly) changes, so give me time but I’m working on it.

Again I thank you all for your readership and commitment to my blogs and sites. Remember to enter the $1000 Holiday Give Away Contest (it’s free and who couldn’t use the money?), and check out the TV One webcast of the Heartland Presidential Forum, and my commentary tomorrow.


Michael Vass
President – M V Consulting

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Being healthy may just be a gut thing

Recently I saw a couple of articles that got me thinking. The first deals with something that everyone does, but we train ourselves not to do. The other is a bit older and deals with what we don’t do. It may be the combination of them that is most relevant to Male fitness today.

The first item I alluded to deals with making decisions. There is the old concept of Ben Franklin,
“When Benjamin Franklin's nephew Joseph Priestley found himself stumped by a complex life decision, he wrote his sage uncle for advice. In his 1772 letter of reply, Franklin described his own method for reasoning out complex problems, which he called "moral algebra." Divide a sheet of paper in half, he counseled his nephew, and make an exhaustive list of pros and cons. Then, over a couple days, weigh the pros and cons, and when a pro and a con seem of equal weight, strike them both out. What is left in the balance is the best answer.”

This sounds great, but recent research by psychologist Gerd Gigerenzer, of the Max Planck Institute states what many already know and we all do to some degree. You just make a decision and act on it. Whether it’s when you are driving, in the grocery store, on the golf course, or most other “mundane” activities of daily life. We don’t (most of us) agonize over the decision; we go with our guts and do something.

The other thing I read was an old report that found that one-third of adolescents and 14 percent of adults (aged 20 to 49 years) in the U.S. has poor cardio respiratory fitness. That means that roughly 16 million Americans (according to the 2005 numbers) are at an elevated risk for illness and death from all causes, including cardiovascular disease and cancer. The report doesn’t get into the why of the facts, and I’d speculate that it has to do with the increase in less physical jobs, and more time spent on computers than in decades prior.

So taking these 2 things together what is it that I came to think?

Simply this, it is far too easy these days to ‘think about’ getting healthy than actually doing it. How much time is spent planning out the way to get healthy? Mapping out a diet, discussing with doctors and nutritionists what we should or shouldn’t eat. Researching on the net the latest fat burning, or cholesterol lowering, pill. Sitting around and making a list of what we should do and what we shouldn’t. Just like Ben Franklin suggested, and we have learned from school and work to do.

And it isn’t helping. In fact, it could be hurting us. Instead why not just do something. Rather than plan out a routine, with every minute accounted for, why not just get up and go out for a run around the block? Rather than looking over a chart on your computer to see if you can eat an extra piece of pie, why not just skip it and eat nothing like your gut told you.

I’m not saying that evaluating some decisions is unimportant. But men have survived and lived well for decades if not millennia, just by making the correct actions they know in their gut. 9 out of 10 times you know if you are being unhealthy. But in a world where every decision requires debate and research we often waste time and continue in our bad trends.

So the next time you think, I should do some push-ups to work off that extra cheese, pepperoni and bacon pizza pie I ate with the beer while I watched the football game, get up and do 3 or 5. Just do a couple of push-ups. And the next time you think about it, do them again, and maybe add 1 or 2 more. You’ll be amazed that before you know it you will be able to do 30 or 50. And in the meantime you’ll be getting healthier, lowering your chance of heart attack, illness and cancer.

Sometimes your gut is the best advice you can question.

**This can be found at Male Fitness Blog, where I am a contributing author.**

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Thursday, November 29, 2007

Pros and Cons of the leading Democratic Presidential Candidates Part 3 - 11.29.2007.3

Concluded from Pros and Cons of the leading Democratic Presidential Candidates Part 2...

These are a few Pros and Cons of the various candidates that will be appearing on at the Heartland Presidential Forum that will be webcast live by TV One on Saturday.

    John Edwards


  • Previously ran for Vice President
  • Former Senator
  • Advocate of the poor
  • Not the psychic of the same name
  • Native Southerner
  • Has good looks
  • Wife has cancer
    Anti-Iraq war (sort of – voted in favor of war)
  • Pro-abortion


  • Lost the election as Vice-President
  • Long-time politician
  • $400 haircuts
  • Lawyer (firm made money on questionable circumstances)
  • Wife has cancer
  • Not know for a particular strong stance on any issue (except the poor)
  • Pro-immediate withdrawal from Iraq
  • Pro-abortion
  • Anti-school vouchers
  • A bit of a sensationalist

Hopefully this information will be helpful. By no means is this the definitive Pro and Con list. There are several issues I have excluded, and many of the items I have mentioned deserve greater scrutiny. But this is accurate and my opinion. I look forward to hearing yours.

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Pros and Cons of the leading Democratic Presidential Candidates Part 2 - 11.29.2007.2

Continued from Pros and Cons of the leading Democratic Presidential Candidates Part 1...

These are a few Pros and Cons of the various candidates that will be appearing on at the Heartland Presidential Forum that will be webcast live by TV One on Saturday.

    Senator Barack Obama


  • Lawyer
  • Current 1st term Senator
  • Healthcare advocate
  • First African American candidate with a chance
  • Liberal in most policies
  • Oprah Winfrey is major supporter
  • Not Hillary Clinton
  • Gained multiple former long-time Clinton supporters
  • Consistently against Iraq war
  • Charismatic, compassionate
  • Pro-abortion
  • Strong individual citizen support (internet donations)

  • Cons

  • Lawyer
  • Relative short public office experience
  • Black
  • Has interracial parents
  • Lived in an Islamic nation (as a youth)
  • Allegedly a smoker
  • No military service
  • Non-traditional name
  • Pro-Illegal Immigration
  • Anti-school vouchers
  • Pro-immediate withdrawal from Iraq
  • Pro-abortion

Continued in Part 3...

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Pros and Cons of the leading Democratic Presidential Candidates - 11.29.2007.1

I want to remind everyone that on Saturday @ 2:30, TV One will have a live webcast of the Heartland Presidential Forum, featuring several leading Democratic Presidential candidates, and Republican candidates as well. This forum will feature candidates answering questions from the audience (and I don’t expect that any candidate will be planting questions for this).

I will be covering this Forum on Saturday, and you can expect a few posts from me, for TV One and everyone.

Considering the nature of the forum, and the fact that most Americans have not been following the candidates over the past year as much pundits and political bloggers, I thought that a short Pros and Cons of the leading Democratic candidates would be helpful. I intend to have a similar list for Republicans shortly.

I am only focusing on the leading candidates because of the short time until the primaries. I want to note one candidate that will be at the forum that I will not be doing a Pros and Cons for. Dennis Kucinich was the only candidate of either party to-date that answered any questions on Reparations for African Americans. His answer was for reparations. Every other candidate has refused to even speak on the subject.

With that noteworthy positions stated here is my list of Pros and Cons. I hope it helps those at the forum that get to ask questions, and everyone that will be voting. Please let me know your thoughts as well. [I am trying to be neutral, but of course that is not always possible in all issues. You may disagree with some of the items I list under either category. Let me know your reasons why you disagree, or agree, in the comments.]

    Senator Hillary Clinton:


  • Wife of President Bill Clinton
  • Long-time Healthcare advocate
  • Determined
  • A lawyer
  • A current 2nd term Senator
  • Well known internationally
  • First female Presidential candidate with a chance
  • Forgave the infidelity of President Clinton
  • Various polls state ~1/2 country favors her
  • Very liberal in most all policies
  • Pro Abortion

  • Cons

  • Pro-abortion
  • Has never directly run or owned any business
  • Entered elected office after career of President Clinton
  • Initial attempt to pass Healthcare reforms failed horribly
  • Consistently appears to hold no actual position on most policies
  • Speaks like a lawyer
  • A female candidate
  • Various polls state roughly ½ the nation strongly dislikes her
  • Staff has at least 2x planted questions in her public appearances
  • Had committee member attack Republican candidates by surprise at CNN/YouTube debate
  • Very liberal (supported in Gen. Patreaus ad)
  • Has received the most money from lobbyists and institutions of any candidate of any party
  • Took $1 million from wanted fugitive
  • Involved in multiple scandals
  • Pro-Illegal Immigration
  • Anti-death penalty
  • Anti-school vouchers

Continued in part 2...

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What is better, rumor or a drug pipeline?

I recall back in the day when I was a broker, how everyone loved the Biotech sector. Everyone wanted to be in on the next new drug. There was massive research going on and stocks were doing far more than triple when they went from one phase in FDA trial to the next. Those were good days, and perhaps the anticipated approval and release of Viagra from Pfizer was the most expressive of those days.

But then the internet bubble broke, the market dropped, and then America was attacked in the most cowardly manner. After recovering from those back to back blows the market recovered, only to now be hit by all-time high oil prices, mortgage loans crisis, real estate sell-off, and a potential Democrat winning the 2008 election.

What is an investor to do?

Well there are still diseases out there. AIDS and HIV still have no cure, various forms of cancer plague men and women of all ages, and who knows what is next. Rather than chasing the next up or down sector, perhaps looking at the greatest potential good is the answer. That’s not a recommendation, it’s a philosophy I hold and am sharing with you.

There is always the hope of a takeover though, as has been rumored with Biogen Idec. But with such rumors we see volitant moves. In a little over a month the stock has soared to $84 and dropped to the current $69. Will it be taken over? Possibly.

The better question is what is going on in the pipeline. It can take a decade to go from Phase 1 to Phase 3 approval. New drugs can bring in revenues for years and without regard of other factors hitting the market.

But there is nothing like a rumor to get a stock moving, or so one investor apparently thought when he asked Adam Feuerstein
“Are you hearing anything about Icahn's plans or any interest in the sale of the company? As you know it popped to $84 and has pulled back on no news. Just would appreciate anything you are hearing on the company.”

I think the real question is what is in the pipeline for Biogen Idec. Like a recent post at Motely Fool, regarding the recent $380 million collaboration deal with Neurimmune Therapeutics that
“… demonstrates that Biogen's leadership isn't letting the distraction of putting itself up for sale get too much in the way of everyday business.”

Is a pre-Phase 1 deal worth more than a takeover? Better to ask, is a biotech without a pipeline worth investing in. Plus there is always the hope that they hit gold finding a cure to Alzheimer's disease.

But that is just a thought, not a recommendation.

**I also write for Bio Tech Stocks Blog**

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Why is Mike Huckabee moving up in the Iowa polls?

I find it interesting that recent polls in Iowa show that Mitt Romney is slipping a bit to Mike Huckabee. Now you might have thought that such a drop could be attributed to the accusations made by the Rudy Giuliani campaign about Romney’s record on taxes and healthcare while Governor of Massachusetts.

“Romney passed a mandate and tax hike-laden health care plan in Massachusetts which Hillary Clinton's own legislative director said was just like Hillarycare.” - Giuliani spokeswoman Katie Levinson

But that isn’t the reason. It isn’t even close. It’s been stated, and quoted by Fox News at ~7am, that the loss in standing is because of Mitt Romney’s religion. That’s what’s bothering Iowans. Can you believe it?

Of the questions and issues that could be asked of a Presidential candidate, this is the one that is bothering people? Not resolving the millions of illegal aliens in the nation, or the dependence on foreign oil, or ensuring our children will get better educations. It’s that they don’t trust the way he prays.

I find that insulting. It’s as petty to me as saying “I won’t vote for John Edwards because he pays too much for his haircuts,” or even more accurately “I won’t vote for Senator Obama because he is Black.”

I think when you think of it in terms of the second quote the ignorance of the situation becomes more apparent. Because if Edwards started moving up in polls because Iowans questioned the race of the candidates, or gender for that matter, there would be an uproar. Cries of bias and ignorance would run through all the major newspapers and media. Pundits would be amazed that such closed-mindedness still exist in America.

I hope there is any reason other than the one stated above. Because as we get closer to the actual primaries, the real feelings are starting to show. More people are paying attention now after a virtual year of speeches and debates. And if there is a reason for Mike Huckabee the absolute least is religion.

Iowans should be better than that. America must be better than that. And I shudder to think of where the nation will go if we fail to be.

If you are in Iowa, I want to hear what you have to say. Is it true, and if so why?

**I write about the Presidential Race for TV One and Presidential Race Blog as well as here.**

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From a soaring Bull to a biting Bear in 30 days

Sometimes markets act swiftly. In America we have seen that since Monday, with the Dow Jones hitting correction territory and just 2 days later now resting up at 13,289. That’s a huge point swing, but when you consider China, it’s not that big a move.

Those that like distressed stocks, and have a feel for international markets may want to take a look. Of course the words of the reputable Warren Buffett should be heeded when he stated investors should be “cautious”. Why is the Chinese stock market in distress and Mr. Buffet advising caution? Because China is going through its own market bubble right now.

While you may not have heard this in the news, China had prices increase 4x in the past year. Beyond impressive growth without question. But the bubble is bursting now with massive recalls and particularly high valuations.
“Shares in the index trade at an average 44 times earnings, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index and the Standard & Poor's 500 Index are valued at 17 times profit.”

Because of these pressures China has now officially gone into a bear market having dropped 21% in a single month. And some feel this is not the bottom.
“Yan Ji, an investment manager in Shanghai for HSBC Jintrust Fund Management Co., which oversees the equivalent of about $517 million. ``What we have seen now is only the start.”

So the question is, is this the feeding ground for international bears feasting on shorts as the pressure mounts, or is it an opportunity for savvy bulls picking and choosing their targets? As with any market in turmoil, there is no easy answer.

China is seeking to slow the 11% growth of that nation; Chinese brokerages are being encouraged to invest overseas to the tune of $34 billion. The last bear market lasted 4 years and caused the Chinese market to drop 50%, before rising 5x in its wake.

And some are optimistic, like
“It's far too early to talk about a prolonged bear market as domestic demand is still strong,'' said Leo Gao, who helps manage the equivalent of $2.3 billion at APS Asset Management Ltd. in Shanghai.”

Well overall one thing can truly be said, without risk there is no reward. But to know whether you are leaping without looking is important as well. There is no question that there is money to be made with China stocks. Just make sure you know where you have placed your footing.

**This can be seen at China Stocks Blog where I am a contributing author.**

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

While the media laughs, what are Presidential candidate promising?

While there is a huge amount of humor being derived in the major news media with the announcement of who recently contributed (questionably goaded by a media source) to Presidential candidate Ron Paul, I’m not laughing. It’s not that Ron Paul has gained massive donations via the internet, in possibly the shortest time ever for any candidate seeking elected office. It’s not the profession of those that gave him the donation. It’s where attention has been focused.

Not long ago, a fugitive from the law made donations to Senator Hilary Clinton that totaled roughly $1,000,000. His name was Norman Hsu. Do you recall the case?

To summarize Mr. Hsu was wanted with a warrant for his arrest from California for over a decade. Mr. Hsu recently started to bundle funds for donation to Sen. Clinton. Initially, when his identity and warrant came to public attention, the Clinton campaign first stated their surprise, and then as pressure mounted offered to give back roughly $32,000. Then as the media checked into the story and it was found that the actual donations made totaled 1 million dollars which was possibly gotten from funds scammed from 3rd parties. The Clinton campaign offered to give the money to charity. The answer was they had not known he made the donations.

We regularly review contributions as we receive them; we will continue our practice of scrutinizing contributions and, should we have a basis to return a contribution, we will do so.

There may be humor in the recent donation of a brothel to the Ron Paul campaign, but there is a bigger issue out there. Donations from bundlers are too far into the grey to be sure who is giving what. There needs to be more accountability.

Mr. Abdul Rehman Jinnah is another example of a bundle donor that had troubles, and his donations were not given away, or even addressed by Senator Clinton or Sen. Barbara Boxer.”

I have no doubt that every campaign checks the bundlers out and learns all about them. When huge donations come in, and the candidates are in contact with these huge fundraisers, campaigns seek to take advantage where they can. As examples Mr. Hsu was a way into the Asian voter groups. Ms Oprah Winfrey is a connection to women.

But at the same time special interest groups make enormous donations. We are talking millions. So I have to ask, what do the candidates owe these institutions and bundlers?

It’s been long said that no one does anything for free. If that is true, and I think it is, what are candidates giving to say pharmaceutical companies? What effect does that have on the national healthcare debate and the programs being offered by the candidates? What would a known criminal receive?

I mean, what would the top bundling contributor expect after donating $225,000 to then-presidential candidate John Kerry or a $1000 a plate dinner for Representative Patrick Kennedy of Rhode Island or Senator Ted Kennedy, or Senator Sherrod Brown.

These are questions we must ask. The issue of a Presidential candidate being beholden to groups they owe favors to is daunting. And the humor being placed on a minor donation by a legal and to date law abiding donor is a mere distraction.

The next President of the United States needs to be focused on the best course for the nation. Can we be sure that with the current state of rules on bundlers and corporate donations, any candidate is really seeking the best course or the one already paid for?

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

M V Consulting Inc joins with TV One on the Heartland Presidential Forum

In a little less than 6 weeks America will decide which candidates will be running for the Presidency of the United States. This next election will be perhaps the most critical for America in decades. Definitely for those Americans that have grown up with the internet, cell phones, and cable television this is the most definitive moment in American government they have ever witnessed.

Because of that TV One will be presenting a live webcast of the Heartland Presidential Forum from Iowa. This debate will likely be the last held prior to the primary voting that will follow shortly in January 2008. The debate will be taking place on December 1st 2007 at 2:30pm. Expectations are that 5000 citizens will be at the forum, and some will be able to directly ask the candidates questions about their plans and goals for America.

Also in conjunction with this Forum and webcast, TV One has gathered several bloggers that will discuss the various aspects of the political landscape leading up to the debate, and who will blog during the live debate as well. This will be a chance for you to be directly aware of what the candidates have to say about the issues you care about; and to be able to hear the thoughts of other average Americans about the answers given.

I am proud to say that I have been selected as one of the bloggers to be involved with TV One and the Heartland Presidential Forum webcast.

To that end I want to take a moment and review a bit about the many issues I have been blogging about since the beginning of the year in regard to the 2008 election. Long time readers to my site will be familiar with much of this, while newer visitors may find information that they may have missed.

I started the year by sending out letters to several of the Presidential candidates. Those candidates were in both the Democratic and Republican parties. In those letters I asked each candidate several questions that were prevalent in the minds of many people, and continue to be today.

Examples of some of the questions are

“Lastly, what is your position on the various laws and actions that are in place or proposed to impede illegal aliens from entering this nation from our southern border only? Do you agree or disagree with the thought that more should be done to protect our largely unwatched northern borders, especially since there has been evidence of how dangerous this lack of attention has been. – To Senator Hillary Clinton, Dec. 16, 2006”

“In recent weeks a great deal has been made of Representative Ellison’s informal swearing in using the Quran. As an individual of the Mormon faith, if you were to be elected President, would you use The Book Of Mormon to be sworn in on? (Please excuse my ignorance about your faith but I believe that is your religious text) Do you feel that your religious background would have any affect on your performance if elected President? Would it have any affect in dealing with dignitaries and governments that hold a different religion, and if so what? What place do you feel religion has for any elected official, if any? – To Mitt Romney, Jan. 10, 2007”

“As a fellow African American I'm sure you are aware that there are several issues that are of great impact to the Black community. One of the most important may be the issue of education. What have you done to improve the number of African Americans that finish high school and/or seek higher education? If you were to be elected President, what plan would you follow that will improve the education system in America? – To Senator Barack Obama, Jan. 22, 2007”

“Another matter that was received in a mixed manner was your choice of police commissioner and the law enforcement policies during your term of office. During your time as Mayor, Mr. Amidou Diallo and Mr. Patrick Dorismond were murdered by police officers in a disturbing manner and Mr. Abner Louima was tortured by police officers which was then attempted to be covered up. These policies and your defense of the police department created a significant atmosphere of anger and cries of racism among the African American, Hispanic/Latino and other minority groups in the city; that was not covered significantly across the nation. For those African American and minority voters in the nation, what are your views on law enforcement? Where do you stand on Affirmative Action and other reforms that address racial inequality? – To Rudy Giuliani, April 5, 2007”

Other questions and letters can be found at my corporate website in the Presidential candidates section, or via search at any of my blogs.

I have also been running a poll tracking the opinion of average Americans on who should be the next President of America. [The exact question is - If the election was held today who would you vote for? – The list of candidates does not include Fred Thompson who entered the race far later than any other candidate.] As of this post Senator Barack Obama leads with 52% of respondents. Senator Hillary Clinton trails behind in second with 22%, followed by Senator John McCain in a distant 3rd (9%). These can be found on the poll on the sidebar of all my sites. Feel free to place your vote as well, I will update this the day of the TV One Heartland Presidential Forum webcast and the following Monday.

So to sum up the introduction, I try to be neutral in my questions and views of the Presidential race at this time. While we as a nation are trying to decide which candidates of either party are the best choices for the nation to choose between, I feel it’s most important for me to raise questions about what we need to know from any candidate. This next election is far too important. And I’m glad to say that TV One agrees.

Expect more everyday, and if I can several times a day, until the debate. And check back during or after the debate. Hopefully together we will be able to find the best choices for America, because anything less diminishes us all.

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Thoughts on the economic outlook of early 2008

Well now that everyone has finished the turkey (minus a few leftover sandwiches), let it digest, and worked off the extra weight running around shopping at every store with a discount sale it’s time of me to get back to work. There has been a lot worth writing about, but let me start with a simple thought. The economy.

The economy is perhaps not the simple part of the thought. It has far too many factors involved, and minds far greater than mine have debated endlessly about what will and does make it move up and down. But as a man who pays attention to the events and has a decent hold on current events I’ll throw my 2 cents in.

I had a friend recently ask me what I thought would be happening to the economy, and my answer was it’s going to get bad. Perhaps recession bad. And I added that the current group of Democratic candidates may only make it worse.

I say this because of several factors. Not the least of which are, the housing crisis, the financial sector, the cost of oil, and potential tax ramifications based on the current plans announced by candidates.

Let’s look at the housing crisis. While there are estimates that state the maximum reach of the crisis is on 5% of homes, I think it fails to take a couple of things into account. While only 5% of home mortgages have failed now, I would expect these are the early defaulters. I would guess that there are another 10-15% of homes in danger of default. Given that the Fed has lowered rates, these homes on the edge have gotten a bit of extra time, but that does not fix their problem.

This leads us to the financial sector. Already several major banks are claiming huge losses due to the bad loans they have made. In order to recoup their losses and in hopes of preventing more credit is being crunched. This means that large- and mid-sized corporations will have less capital available to them, and some short-term loans may be called or canceled. That does nothing to stimulate growth. Plus variable loans to the riskier ventures will invariably go up to offset the losses in the home sector. Thus the purchase of houses must slow, the real estate markets will cease top be a haven for a while and money will have to flow into new areas for investment.

Now when you consider that the corporations are getting higher cost for loans, or being denied, this is happening at the same time that costs for fuel are going up. A lot. That hits profit centers fast. Thus profit margins shrink at the same time that retail is hitting its greatest need for the annual shopping rush of the holidays.

Keep in mind that small companies will be cut off from loans by banks since their credit and assets are too weak in a tight credit market. Add the higher cost of transportation and several small companies will fail to make it thru the end of the year, I expect. That will hit all the businesses that supply and help them operate.

Also keep in mind that as I recall the market virtually never rises, or even maintains its level without the positive performance of the financial sector. As I mentioned that sector is already failing. As the dominoes fall I expect them to perform worse near term. Thus that is direct downward pressure on the market. And while the holiday sales will help retailers absorb the cost of higher fuel, the consumer will likely spend less (or buy items with greater discounts) because the cost of heating their homes and electricity and mortgages are all up.

What’s the last piece of this puzzle? The Presidential race. We have a critical election where several nation defining events will occur. Already several Democratic candidates have expressed expanding entitlement programs. Those programs, like nationalized healthcare, must be paid for via taxes. Those taxes will come from companies making less profit and citizens with less discretionary income. (And a bailout of the mortgage crisis costs even more that needs to me recouped from taxes) This is beyond the fact that when Democratic candidates are elected (which could happen in 2008 – which is a bad thought) the markets normally react poorly initially, when looked at historically.

Add all that up and you have a stagnating market, with reduced sales, higher costs, shrinking profit margins, higher taxes, horrible bond rates, and depressed real estate values. I call that a real problem. Especially if the tight credit, higher fuel costs, and higher taxes cause more home mortgages to fail than just the 15% low-end estimate I posed earlier.

What’s the best plan? Well I used to tell my clients (back when I was a broker, years ago) that we can assume these events as facts and plan for the worse. Set up a plan to sit and wait for a couple of the trends to reverse, and take advantage of market overreactions where possible (the market is more emotional than fact driven even in the best of markets). Is that the best plan for you? I have no idea.

Discuss this with your financial professionals, read what better minds than I say, and make up your own mind. Just remember, it’s all connected, and there is never a perfect answer.

** This can also be seen at Economist Blog where I am an occassional contributing author.**

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Deserters deserve punishment

Hear is something that I’m sure few thought about while having their turkey, ham and stuffing. Deserters. Not the pie you had after the meal but those who have run away from their oath and country. As you may note I’m not happy about the subject.

Why am I even thinking about this? This is the title of a press release I found on Yahoo news, Army desertion rate up 80 pct. since '03. Sounds horrific doesn’t it. It sounds like our troops are running from Iraq, Afghanistan and service they volunteered for in droves. Of course this is not true.

I’m annoyed by the tone the piece sets, starting with the opening paragraph.

“Soldiers strained by six years at war are deserting their posts at the highest rate since 1980, with the number of Army deserters this year showing an 80 percent increase since the United States invaded Iraq in 2003.”

Sounds impressive. Sounds like there is a problem and our soldiers are being affected by it. It sounds like droves of our service men and women cannot handle the situation. Of course it’s not until the 5th paragraph we find out that the number of deserters is less than 5%. In fact the number is close to 3%. Of course that’s considering the troops in Iraq. If we look at the total number of troops, in the Army that’s roughly 1.05 million alone, the number percentage drops even lower. And of course the article never states where those troops desert from, whether it’s Iraq or the middle of Texas. Takes the wind out of this story doesn’t it?

In essence I’m annoyed with reporters, like Lolita C. Baldor, and major news agencies who carefully phrase an article to project a certain view which places our troops in danger. This article may have been made in the U.S., but who do you think is interested in it?

Perhaps some of those setting roadside bombs and recruiting members to attack our troops have downloaded this article – thanks to our troops providing them with electric power – and lauded the thought that our Armed Forces are running away in droves. Perhaps Osama Bin Laden is using this type of article to add members to Al Quida, and training them to come to fight us, abroad or here in our homes, because he is the David placing fear in our Goliath.

Articles worded like this are political agendas, but they can also be propaganda for those that would see every American dead whether we fight them or not, simple because we exist in a country where women wear clothes they chose, believe in a God other than theirs (of forbid the thought don’t believe or pray differently), and educate children.

One thing this article does remind me about though is the cavalier way that deserters are being treated so far. I am biased so I have no problem with shooting deserters in a time of war, especially those that desert combat. The oath taken by those that choose to serve this nation is both an honorable act and serious. No one forced them to join, or to take that oath. To desert it is both cowardly and dishonorable.

But at this point, nothing is being done. Deserters are merely being discharged with less-than-honorable records. That’s it. Now I’m sure some corporations and business owners can connect the dots and refuse to hire these individuals that have turned their back on their own nation. I’m equally sure there are some organizations that will be happy to hire them. I am of the former and not the latter of course.

Still it seems that this is too little. At least Canada is taking action in this matter, refusing to grant asylum to those deserting their oath. Amazing that Canada will act on this issue while we have not so far.

I don’t care what the reasons, those that desert are cowards. They had a choice to not join. Like all things in life there is a consequence for every action. One consequence has been the ability of some writers to infer and proclaim problems where they don’t really exist. Another is aiding the enemies of this nation, giving them fuel by which other members of the Armed Forces who value their word and the responsibility they have taken on die. I think having a penalty applied to these deserters is the least we can do. Perhaps rescinding the birthright they so callously violate.

**This can also be seen at All American Blog, where I am a contributing author.**

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When it comes to national healthcare, who is really winning?

I find it interesting that when it comes to American Presidential elections, it’s possible to present part of plans that don’t work and score points in polls because your opponents plan is even less likely to work. Take the recent hot air being blown around by the 2 leading democratic candidates. Senators Obama and Clinton.

Both Senators are discussing nationalized healthcare. Both plans are massively flawed. Neither has worked out the details of the plan, not any serious estimate of the cost for the programs. Both claim that these programs will reduce cost and save Americans money. And they both think the other is just playing political games, seeking votes in Iowa.

I am no expert in national healthcare. I do know that there are many in national healthcare systems around the world that die while waiting for treatment or even examinations – for say breast cancer or other diseases – like in England and Canada. I know that some individuals like Michael Moore would have us believe that even the healthcare system in Cuba is better than in America. Yet Mr. Moore and people from around the world travel to America to get treatment and surgeries rather than stay in the nationalized systems in their own countries. And I know that as it exists today, America has the best healthcare in the world.

Knowing just those simple facts, and that millions of Americans don’t have health insurance, I pondered the accusations of Senators Clinton and Obama. Is there a difference? Can they make it better? Should this be a direction America should go in?

Well when you think about it, what does the government do well? Seriously. The one thing I have noticed in 40 years is that the government moves paperwork around better than anything out there. There is so much paper moving around (electronic or not) that we need other institutions just to manage the way we move the paperwork around.

There has never been a single issue that the government has been involved with that has simplified over the years. Take taxes as an example. Every election promises are made to simplify the tax code. Never happens. Can’t really. It takes perhaps thousands of workers in the government to process, check and re-check all the documents and write offs. It that committees to look for loopholes in the code and other committees to make changes so the loopholes close. Perhaps thousands are involved in making sure that there is no waste of taxpayer dollars.

Now imagine healthcare. One plan says that there will be 50 separate organizations, with paperwork that goes with that. In the other plan, if you don’t pay for coverage, you get fined. Both plans mean bigger government, with more workers, which inevitably means more taxes. And efficiency goes out the window.

So do you really want either plan? Is bigger government, less efficiency, and the likelihood of having the healthcare system become like Canada’s or England’s, or worse yet like the VA, worth it? In the end aren’t they both just puffing up their chests in the hope of getting elected?

**This can also be found at Presidential Race Blog, where I am a contributing author.**

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Friday, November 23, 2007

The lies Presidential candidates say, and the facts that prove it Part 3

Continued from The lies Presidential candidates say, and the facts that prove it Part 2...

“There are 300,000 babies born deformed every year in this country because of women who are alcoholics while they're carrying those children to term.”

In fact the number is nowhere near that. I mean not even by a factor of 10. According to the Surgeon General the number of birth defects is 8,300 in total. Even is you take all births with complications from alcohol you can only get 40,000. But it doesn’t sound as important as 300,000 now does it?

But I will end this with a few Pant-on-Fire lies. There is nothing even with a glimmer in truth in the following statements. I can only imagine they were said to fool the American public into supporting the candidates, and nothing else. Thank goodness some check on these things.

“Edwards says if Congress won't pass universal health care, he'll tell Congress: "I'm going to use my power as president to take your health care away from you." – John Edwards

A complete fabrication. Can’t happen. How many donated money and will voter for him because of that lie?

“I'm probably one of the four or five best-known Americans in the world.” – Rudy Giuliani

Rudy may be popular, and New York City is well known but get serious. That’s just self-aggrandizement. Seriously.

“In 1972, we had a 179,000 human beings in jail in this country. Today, it's 2.3-million, and 70 percent of them are black, African-American.” – Mike Gravel

What is this supposed to mean? Besides being a huge lie, it seems to fall into stereotypes that are base at best. The fact is that 60% of those in jail today are White or non-African American. I don’t know who Gravel is trying to impress here, maybe the KKK. But is suppose they might just be the only ones that are interested in a lie of such grand and ridiculous proportions.

You want to know more? Want to see where candidates are just saying anything to get your vote? Want to see how far some are willing to push, or outright hide, the truth to become the most powerful elected official in America? Want to know how to protect yourself from the worst of the bunch. Check out PolitiFact. I will be.

**This can also be seen at Presidential Race Blog, where I am a contributing author.**

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The lies Presidential candidates say, and the facts that prove it Part 2

Continued from The lies Presidential candidates say, and the facts that prove it Part 1...

Take for example Senator Obama. In taking on the illegal immigration issue, the senator needed to have a strong sounding soundbite. The facts must have not been juicy enough because his quote is just wrong.

“Right now, an employer has more of a chance of getting hit by lightning than be prosecuted for hiring an undocumented worker. That has to change.”

But that’s just one item. How about playing on the feeling of African Americans that they are not being taken serious in politics?

“If African-Americans vote their percentage of the population in 2008, “Mississippi is suddenly a Democratic state.”

Sounds impressive right? Except its absolutely wrong. Even doing highly generous math, applied to every southern state, it just won’t create the outcome zealously stated By Senator Obama. But I bet it swayed a few voters.

Don’t think that I’m just picking on Democrats. Republicans are just as bad. Take for example Rudy Giuliani.

“The crime decline in the United States would be fairly small if it wasn’t for the crime decline in New York City.”

Sounds impressive doesn’t it. I mean it makes you think that Rudy made an impact on the whole nation. That he is obviously a strong leader that can handle the whole nation. But it’s completely false. As big as NYC is, it’s not that big. And crime dropped in the entire nation. That had nothing to do with Rudy. But what a soundbite.

How about Senator McCain? His credibility is unquestioned right? He has been out there telling the truth constantly, or has he? Well, not really. Like in his assertion that

“We spent $223-million on a bridge in Alaska to an island with 50 people on it.”

Senator McCain implies he is a fiscally responsible man. While that is true, and the Congress has been comatose when it hasn’t been screwing up, he knows this one is a lie. While the soundbite sounds great, Senator McCain should know that the pork earmark for this bridge was removed. The bridge has never been made, nor will it. And the money for Alaska went elsewhere.

And just for a bit of fun, and obvious dislike, I want to include a lie of immense proportions. I don’t Like Joe Biden, and I won’t hide that fact. Yet that does nothing to take away the epic lie about birth defects caused by alcoholism in this nation.

Concluded in Part 3...

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The lies Presidential candidates say, and the facts that prove it

So everybody knows that politicians lie. Whether it’s a local assemblyman or a Presidential candidate, we all know that at least some of the time they all tell untruths. But when are they lying, and how much of what they say is a shade of grey?

I recently found a site that can help decipher the truth and facts in the midst of a popular or catchy soundbite. PolitiFact covers everything from true statements, to pants-on-fire outright lies. Here are a few of my favorites (from Barely True to Pans-on-Fire with no particular emphasis on political party).

A popular soundbite from Mitt Romney accuses Senator Clinton of having no experience

“She hasn't run a corner store. She hasn't run a state. She hasn't run a city. She has never run anything.”

Of course it fails to account for her work while First Lady or as a lawyer. This is a barely true statement, but we don’t really know exactly what she did in the law firm or while First Lady. Which leads me to a favorite quote by Senator Clinton.

“All of the records, as far as I know, about what we did with health care, those are already available.”

Well yes they are sort of available. Except that President Clinton has the right to question anything being presented to the public, like all Presidents do. That means he reviews items first. Thus he has not ‘stopped’ anything from being published, he just isn’t moving things along with any need for speed. It’s all how you word it.

Speaking of wording things to get a positive response from particular groups, how about the green/global warming crowd. Here is a group that has gotten a lot of attention since the Al Gore film. But Mike Gravel has no qualms about mixing fact with the feasibly impossible.

“If we manufactured 5-million of these 2.5-meg windmills across the country, we could electrify the entire nation — the entire nation.”

While that could handle the load, it is not realistic that all the mills would capture consistent wind, and creating a electricity grid to handle, store, and distribute the electricity is unrealistic. But doesn’t it sound great?

But how about straight out lies? Comments made just to get a quick vote or shift polls even thought anyone who checks the facts will find out that this is just smoke being blown up our collective… well you know.

Continued in Part 2...

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Thursday, November 22, 2007

A Thanksgiving Day message from Michael Vass - 11.22.2007.1

I want to wish everyone a happy and joyous Thanksgiving Day. I hope all my readers are having a day close to their loved ones, with enough food for all, and relaxation from the busy schedule of work.
Click here to learn about Michael Vass - President of M V Consulting, Inc.

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And for anyone who has said, “I wish I had a bit more money to pay for all bills and gifts from the holiday season” I remind you that the $1,000 give-away contest is still on-going. It’s a free contest, no purchase is required. And it can’t be any more simple to enter. Just send an email stating my age in the body or headline of the message, to That’s it and you will be entered to win at least $1,000 guaranteed. (Hint, you can figure out my age in the About me section on any of my blogs or corporate website. Can it be any easier?)

[For the rules of the contest please look at my press release found at M V Consulting, Inc. Giving Away $1,000 in Holiday Contest - 11.15.2007.1 or PRWeb Press Release]

And for those companies, businesses and individuals that want to help people out there, you can donate to the holiday cash give away as well. Simply use the Chip-In Donation Widget to give whatever you want. The total will show all donations made. 100% of all donations will be given to contest winner(s).

Again I hope that everyone has had a wonderful day and that the Holiday season brings good cheer and joy to all.

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Black middle-class is not better than 5 years ago Part 2

Continued from The Black middle-class is not better than 5 years ago Part 1...

The point of this is that while one part of our society is extolling the perceived improvements in our society, the other part is reeling from the reality. Is there any wonder why inner city schools are not getting additional funds they need. Or that police departments are still biased in their actions or that hate crimes are increasing yet hate crime statutes are unevenly applied?

Something needs to be done. The facts are out there, but without action the numbers will just continue to degrade. That action must come from both sides of this disparity. Just as no one side is singular in fault, no one side can fix the problem.

I say we need to remove the welfare system. Its inception, in the current form, has created benefits only to single parents with multiple children. It has enforced the single parent household, and is a malaise in the Black community. In its place I say we go back to the original concept from the depression era. Everyone works, no matter how trivial the job, and for that they get a wage.

I suggest that ½ of all police officers must come from the communities they patrol. Only those with a connection the citizens they protect do so with an even hand.

I suggest that inner city schools are the priority in getting funds. Every school must have enough books for all the students, and those books should be current to within the last 5 years.

I suggest that we hold the media accountable. No longer will music videos depicting violence, degradation of women, drug use and sale be allowed on the airwaves. I respect the right of artists to be free to express themselves, but at the same time the public has the obligation to not be shown promotions of these base acts.

I suggest that major news media becomes more responsible. An even hand and fair reporting is more essential now than ever. Rather than consistently showing only minorities every time a negative trait in the nation is discussed balanced images should be shown. Instead of 95% of all Amber Alerts, and missing persons reported on the news being only Whites, a fairer look should be done. Black children are missing too.

News stories involving African Americans deserve airtime too. The Jena case did not just happen; it’s been discussed for months by bloggers before the media bothered to pay attention. The Megan Williams case, which has been ignored, is more important than 2 days of discussion about Ellen DeGeneres losing a pet.

These may be small steps in appearance, but they are answers to the roots of a problem that has been ignored for too long. They are simple steps. They are responsible acts. And they will benefit the nation. But to continue in the manner we have will result in steps backwards to a time and acts some assume only existed in the shadowy past of America. But all shadows never disappear completely, and given time they can grow long in their reach.

America cannot benefit from 70% of a class of its people being unable to attain the same or better than their parents. America should not have such a situation to contemplate. We are better, and we can do better. All of us.

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The Black middle-class is not better than 5 years ago

I am troubled. I could not sleep having read the numbers and thought of the implications they held. The severity of them stands out, with a stark foreboding nature. And I think you will agree.

The numbers I speak of come from USAToday, and the Pew Research Center. Simply stated, African American kids are more likely to make less than their parents. Specifically this is what was found for middle-class Blacks, a group of individuals that is incredibly small and decreasing every day. In that group 70% of the children made less money than their parents, while virtually 70% of White children of middle-class parents made more. And if you are wondering, this is from October 2007 hardly ancient times.

What this implies is very straight forward. Life as an African American is about to get much more difficult rather than better. And this is the situation when there are more Blacks involved with government, business, and entertainment than perhaps ever in the history of the United States. Is it any surprise that when asked 56% of Blacks see things getting worse, or that Whites asked the same question had the same percentage (56%) saw the future for Blacks improving.

I can hardly imagine a more problematic situation for the nation. On one end we have the very real perception that fewer are doing better held by African Americans, and the other is a cheerful belief that life is getting better held by Whites. Is there any wonder that so many question why there is such an uproar when events like Genarlow Wilson, Megan Williams, or the Jena 6 occur? Blacks see things becoming more like the 1950’s and Whites see a hoped for future envisioned in the late 1960’s.

The window dressing looks fantastic. Figureheads like Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, Denzel Washington, Bill Cosby and Senator Barack Obama are making strides that my grand-parents could only dream of. Yet, fewer children stand a chance of gaining even a portion of such success in their adulthood. And that means strife. And strife inevitably equates to violence.

The question arises why this is happening. Some will say it’s the fact that Blacks fail to be involved in their community. Others claim it’s a lack of education. There is the question of the loss of the 2 parent family, and the impact of major media promoting base, generally illegal, violent aspects of culture. I believe they are all factors to different degrees.

Given that, why would Whites have an entirely opposite belief of what the current status is? Thinking about it, and speaking with a friend that is in a mixed marriage, I would say that it’s because of the figureheads they see. Because Senator Obama is running for President, and Condoleezza Rice is Secretary of State, and the apparent opulence of a few, very visible entertainers (mostly rappers in this case) the impression is that things must be better in general as 20 or 30 years ago you did not see this. That of course is the assumption of thinking what you see in one is common for all.

While there are dramatically more African Americans in politics today (elected office or in the executive branch) there is no difference in injustices in the legal system (as I am aware). 30 years ago a Black man would get sentenced harsher than a White for the same crime, and violence against a White virtually guaranteed a life sentence or the death penalty. That has not changed. In the 1990’s Rodney King was viciously beaten by cops that were acquitted, last year Sean Bell and 3 Black men were shot (he was killed) multiple times by 5 police officers without cause (no viable proof was ever provided to my knowledge). There is no difference.

Yet many might point to the success of OJ Simpson as an example of the correction in the balance of the law. And I would have to counter that for over a decade he has been hounded by the media with the carefully worded accusation of guilty ever since. And there are the examples I cited earlier, which are a mere handful of cases that show a consistent trend in the media and legal system.

Continued in part 2...

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Sunday, November 18, 2007

5 simple yes or no questions

In light of the consistent reversals of positions, incomplete answers and anything but subtle switches of subject from the issue at hand I was wondering about a couple of questions that the Presidential candidates could answer yes or no to. No trick questions, no bias based on political affiliation. Just something simple that should be able to get a simple answer. And to be fair, I will provide a follow-up question they can answer in any way they wish.

  • 1. Do you believe the legal system in America is fair and balanced for all people regardless of their color of skin or economic bracket?

  • 1a. What will you do about the obvious media and legal imbalances exemplified by the delay and then subsequent media coverage of the Jena case and the initial criminal charges, the sentence of Genarlow Wilson, and the complete avoidance of the Megan Williams case in West Virginia?

  • 2. Do you find that the education system is adequate?

  • 2a. How will you improve the incredible failure that is evident in the higher dropout rates and lower reading skills found now in students across the country?

  • 3. Do you believe that religious fanatics who create violence are not motivated by monetary or political actions?

  • 3a. How can America protect itself, under your guidance, against groups that have the singular desire to destroy the nations existence because of their religious belief?

  • 4. Do you believe citizen taxes should be spent to benefit anyone but U.S. citizens?

  • 4a. Why should Americans provide anything, funded by citizen taxes, to individuals that have committed a crime by entering the United States without legal documentation?

  • 5. Do you agree that the work executed by Slaves in America provided the economic stability and physical labor that are the foundations of modern day America?

  • 5a. Are you willing to consider and work on reparations for African Americans, similar to the reparations made to Native American Indians and Japanese Americans interned during WWII?

There are other questions that can be asked. Perhaps in the near future I will. But I would love to hear the simple and direct answer to each of these primary questions, and whatever answers is made for the follow-up. After all the soundbites, and incomplete answers we have heard in 2007 to date, on which the American public is expected to pick a Presidential candidate from each political party, it would be refreshing to have real answers.

I can only speak for myself, but I can have more faith and be more willing to vote for a candidate that gives me an honest and direct answer as opposed to somebody that appears to be playing at fears and polls to get elected.

Regardless of the answers, who do you think would actually answer these questions?

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The ommissions of the Presidential candidates

In my daily search for news on the Presidential candidates and issues that the next President will be dealing with I have run into a recent report that has disturbing implications. We have all heard the saying that politicians are not to be trusted. That our elected officials will say virtually anything to get elected. Even most recently we have seen some candidates that have said nothing and every side of an issue all on the same question. But it is far worse than that.

I am referring to the Presidential Political Courage Test, conducted by Project Vote Smart. This study viewed 10 years of various political candidates, in both political parties. And the conclusion was that.

“55 percent of presidential candidates were willing to expose their positions on issues of obvious concern to citizens. This represented an 8 percent decline in the candidates' willingness to provide such crucial information to citizens since 2004. This also demonstrated the candidates' increasing interest in controlling the public's access to information regarding their intentions on issues.”

Think about that. 45% of the candidates don’t want the public to know what they believe about the issues that will affect the nation. That almost half of all the candidates have hidden what they really want to do, if elected, at a time where some of the most critical decisions facing America are on the table. In effect that we are being told lies of omission to our faces, with a smile and a soundbite.

Let me be more specific. Of the candidates that are currently running for President, that the major news media follows, only 3 are willing to openly state where they stand. Chris Dodd, John Edwards, and Mike Gravel. That’s it. And only one of these 3 is a serious potential Presidential candidate, though a long-shot I wouldn’t bet on.

Now I will say that the study has some fluff in it. Announced Presidential candidates such as Emperor Caesar (no joke, and that’s a Democrat no less) are hardly serious entries. But at the same time, Hillary Clinton (Democrat), Rudy Giuliani (Republican), Duncan Hunter (Republican), Dennis J. Kucinich (Democrat), John McCain (Republican), Barack Obama (Democrat), and Bill Richardson (Democrat) are serious and all were against being open with their positions being told to the public.

Given the failures of the report, one thing is clear. This is unacceptable. Any serious candidate must be able to declare EXACTLY what they stand for and how their term as President of the United States would be a benefit to the citizens of the nation. Anything less is a two-faced, soundbite laden, cheap attempt to swindle votes from well meaning but less than informed citizens. This is the effective equivalent of giving the people sand to drink and no other option.

What else would you call it when candidates go to a debate one week and get caught obviously not answering a critical issue that affects all Americans in one way or another, then after a week or 2 of practice with advisors and constantly shifting views goes onto the next debate and makes a firm stand. That’s not being forthright. That’s finding out what boat is sinking and jumping away from it, for the mere sake of winning.

I would have more respect and would consider voting for a candidate that has a position and can make a real argument why it’s in my best interest. Anything less is not worthy of being President. And while Senator Clinton may have been the most noted for her obvious doubletalk, candidates in both parties fail to do more than make 15 second soundbites for major news media. Honestly I feel they have all let the American people down.

When it comes down to it, this election will be a race of what is the least horrible choice. The problem with that is that we the people will still be left with a miserable, ineffective, President that will not promote the best interest for ALL the nation.

**This can also be seen at Presidential Race Blog, where I am A contributing author.**

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Friday, November 16, 2007

No homework equates to no minds

**This can be found also at All American Blog, where I am a contributing author.**

I was speaking with a friend of mine recently and I was told something that makes no sense. The more I thought about it the more I realized that this idiocy is rampant and pervasive. What was the cause of this insight? Whether people understand the word excerpt.

As many readers may know, I write for multiple blogs (including Black Entertainment USA, Presidential Race Blog, Children’s Health Blog and others) and in some cases (like my myspace blog) I use excerpts to summarize a post I made at another blog. It’s not unique. But often I see people responding to the partial content as opposed to actually reading the blog post. As such they fail to get the actual point of the post.

This led me to the aforementioned comment to my friend. I was told by this parent of 3 that it’s not a word used much. That it’s not a word that is really taught anymore. Which amazed me as I thought this was a basic word, and a 5th grade level word at that. It appears I am wrong.

But as the conversation continued, it brought up the fact that a new school in the Binghamton NY area does not give children homework. I was stupefied. I could not believe it. But then I thought about it. How often have we heard news reports stating that schools are cutting back on homework, to lighten the stress and workload of children?

It’s absolute idiocy, in my opinion. No homework or miniscule amounts of it? Why? Because we think that 8 hours of being in school is enough to educate our children. I hardly think so.

The world may have become smaller, and technology faster, since I was in school but knowledge has not gotten easier to consume. Learning advanced mathematics, or proper use of the English language requires practice and understanding. A mere 45 minutes in a single class or 2 hardly qualifies as sufficient time to absorb the tenants of complex thoughts.

So in effect we are raising our children to become idiots. Already I have heard, and seen in blogs and comments, people using text/instant message shorthand in place of actual words. I’ve seen misspelled and misused words. I’ve noticed completely made up words, or street slang, used in place of actual words. And it’s only getting worse.

A recent protest in Chicago was made because

“According to the National Association for Educational Progress, the average 17-year-old African American student has the reading and math score of a 14-year-old white student.”

That is not acceptable. Nor is such failures to educate limited to African Americans or minorities. Though it may be more prominent and obvious in these groups.

Limited vocabularies restrict the ability to communicate, which limits the ability to form more complex thoughts. Words are merely the expression of thoughts in the mind. Limit the expression you limit the mind. Such a scenario is anything but in the best interest of our children or America.

I have to ask, whom does limited homework benefit? Everyone I am aware of above the age of 30 took home homework. It didn’t stress us out, or impede our ability to perform in life. I would counter that it in fact helped us. So how does the lack of this provide benefit?

And if our kids are being given all this free time, what are they filling it with? What else is burdening the children of today such that they can’t handle learning what the word excerpt means, or how to use the Pythagorean theorm, or what the real primary causes of the Civil War were. They have an extra hour of PS3, or instant messaging (IM) their friends on the computer? They can watch another movie on DVD, or TIVO. They can sit on a couch and surf through 495 more channels of television than when I was growing up.

Seriously where is the massive stress? When I was 13 I started working on weekends. By the time I was 18 I worked the entire summer vacation, before school, and after I was done with classes. [To be clear, I worked the morning selling the NY Times to the teachers, students and classes in my school. I was in an advanced program and spent afternoons attending classes at CUNY, and when I didn’t have clases there – as well as weekends – I worked downtown making patterns in the garment industry.] I graduated 6th in my class. I also forgot to mention I was in the Concert Wind Ensemble, and vice-president of my schools ASPIRA organization. I wasn’t stressed, nor was my girlfriend.

I wasn’t bogged down with the burden of anything. So what in a world of computer spell-checked and printed book reports, calculators allowed in math class, Google enabled kids is stressful?

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Mexican President feels bad about Presidential candidates debating immigration

**This can also be seen at Presidential Race Blog, where I am a contributing author.**

Some Democrats want to hear more answers about running away from Iraq from Presidential candidates. Some Republicans want to hear more about how the economy will be maintained or improved. And most Americans want to hear about how their ability to receive healthcare and a decent education for their kids will become better than it is today. Virtually everyone wants to hear something from the Presidential candidates. Except Mexican President Felipe Calderón who wants to hear less.

It would seem that Mexican President Calderon thinks that illegal Mexican immigrants are being held as “thematic hostages” in the debates and speeches by the candidates. Can you believe that? Don’t you just feel for the illegal immigrants now? And I bet the candidates are all re-working their speeches now, it increases that portion of their public comments.

With all due respect President Calderon needs to shut up. And candidates need to take this as a clue to what will be happening to the next President of the United States. Millions of illegal immigrants will start to say they feel persecuted by the government, and their home country will back them up. Already we see how President Calderon feels his citizens are being unfairly discussed.

I mean how dare we have our politicians highlight as a problem the number of people that are in this nation, lacking any paperwork and documentation that would allow them to be in our nation legally. How dare we make this issue, and questions like whether these illegal aliens deserve the right to anything that U.S. citizens are entitled to. There is no reason why any Presidential candidate should discuss whether or not billions should be spent on providing education, healthcare coverage, driver’s licenses, or any other privilege or right of citizens to these de facto criminals in our nation.

It’s not as if President Calderon and the Mexican government are providing better conditions for their own people to live under. It’s not like they are preventing or curbing the ability of Mexicans from entering this nation illegally. In fact they realize that the Mexican government benefits from the influx of American dollars to their economy, sent by these criminals from our nation.

I say again, with due respect, shut up. We are carrying the burden of millions of illegals every day. We provide more care, money, and rights than his own government which is why they come here rather than suffer in their own nation. We have every right and need to discuss freely how we will deal with this burden. If President Calderon or the illegal aliens in this nation feel badly about this, they can always leave.

We did not invite all these people. We did not guarantee anything to them. We have no obligation to them. And if mentioning these facts is giving them or the home nation less than cuddly feelings, so what. It’s part of the freedom of America that we citizens get to discuss and act on those in our nation in violation of the law.

I respect that some Americans want to give more rights and privileges to the illegal aliens here. I respect that citizens of this nation feel that everyone within our borders deserves the best quality of life our government ensures. I understand that they feel that with the wealth and power our country commands some citizens feel that our Constitution should not be restricted to just our citizens.

But that is a debate that citizens can have, openly and without fear of reprisal form the government or various private groups that maintain more power than the government in some areas. Nothing weakens the argument of anything for these criminals (illegal immigration is a crime, lets not forget this) more than hearing them step up, in our country, and demand we treat them better. Perhaps only slightly less insulting is the comments from a government so weak as being incapable of taking care of tens of millions of it’s own people, trying to reprimand our politicians and in effect the citizens for discussing those same people.

If President Calderon wishes that immigration is less of a presidential debate issue I advise him to improve his “Keystone cop-esque” government and provide an equally or at least similar quality of life. Until then, the debate will move on and I will continue to state that if illegals wish to be in our country they deserve nothing. If they don’t like hearing that, they can go home to the miserable quality of thief they left. I’m sure hearing about the illegal actions they have taken is far less traumatic than living in a shanty town, without any medial attention, and no hope of an education or better life for their children.

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Swift Kids political ads spew refuse as bad as ad

Ok, I just saw the Swift Kids ads that are appearing on television. I am insulted and offended. Not because they are attacking Democratic candidates, attack ads seem to be par for course in politics today, but because they are using kids and are themed in the most insulting manner.

I realize that this is a smear ad. I realize that its intention is to match the cute innocence of children with political messages. But it fails horribly. Take for example the Swiftkids ad against Senator Barack Obama.

This is insulting. First they start off with an insulting play of his name. “Black orama” is one that instantly caught my attention. And I feel it was an intentional statement aimed at the race of Sen. Obama. That somehow his race affects his ability to lead this nation. That borders on racist.

Then it’s the old, “his name is too hard to say” line. I’ve generally heard such a comment from people missing many teeth and with far less education than my 11 year old nephew. It’s an ignorant comment.

Then to suggest that a persons name has an effect on their abilities. Again it seems to be an insult based on the race of Senator Obama. Because his name is not a traditional W.A.S.P. styled name that somehow confers a lack of something that say President John Fitzgerald Kennedy or President Millard Fillmore had. If anyone is swayed by such a comment, I am ashamed that they have a right to vote.

And then one of the kickers. Senator Obama is not Black? Since when? I suppose under the seemingly drug induced logic of the makers of this ad; I would not be Black either. I’m sure the racists that have called me N-word throughout my life would beg to differ. And what makes Senator Barack Obama not African American? That his mother is White? I’m sure that if most African Americans looked back in their family trees they would find a mixing of the races. My family includes Irish blood as well as White slave owners. But I’ve never had anyone mention that to me. And lets not forget that many White Americans have blood that is equally mixed, as some of the descendants of Thomas Jefferson learned from DNA tests not long ago.

The fact is every aspect of this ad is insulting and racist. It makes no credible claim against Senator Obama. It plays on the most base of reasons to not vote for this candidate. It oozes fear and ignorance.

I don’t doubt that most will reject this garbage instantly. But just like the small minds that created this ad, there are some that will be swayed. It’s a testament to the need of more movement forward on race relations in this nation. It disgusts me, and I have issues with any television station that will run this.

Much the same can be said about all the Swift Kids ads. They are without taste, credibility, or talent. They are vacuous in the claims they make and benefit no one. None should ever see the light of day, or coverage on television. This is no different than the ad against General Petraeus. It insults all Americans, and diminishes everyone.

I hope to never have to see an ad like this again. Hopefully this post will help ensure that our nation’s politics never have to be dragged through filth like this again. And I suggest that everyone who sees this post asks their Congressional Representative and Senator to denounce these ads, just as they should have with the ad. And I will judge those that will not vote, or vote in favor of this ad, as harshly as I did those who voted for, or failed to vote.

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Thursday, November 15, 2007

M V Consulting, Inc. Giving Away $1,000 in Holiday Contest - 11.15.2007.1

New York, NY (PRWEB) November 15, 2007 -- With the holiday 2007 season fast approaching, families across the nation are spending huge sums to travel, feed, house, and productive gifts for loved ones across the nation. Recognizing this expense and in the spirit of the holidays M V Consulting, Inc. ( is happy to announce a give-away contest for $1,000.

M V Consulting, Inc. President Michael Vass has announced that this contest, open to all U.S. citizens over 18, is meant to help ease the financial burden families are experiencing at this time. President Vass stated,
"Every family, large or small, knows the stress that can come from shopping and cooking for the holidays. Given that fact it is my hope to reduce some of that stress and financial burden with this gift of $1,000. I hope that the winner and their family enjoy receiving this as much as I enjoy giving it."

In addition to the $1,000 prize, M V Consulting will include the following:

In reference to the corporate donations

M V Consulting asks that any corporate entity that wishes to contribute to the give-away contest contacts us. All funds received by M V Consulting will be stated on the sites of the company, as will the total of all such funds received. 100% of all funds raised will be distributed to the winner(s) as per the rules.

The Rules:

  • 1. $1000 is the guaranteed minimum prize, with at least 1 winner. Entry in the contest is free, with 1 entry per family and valid email address required.
  • 2. No employee of family member of M V Consulting, Inc is eligible.
  • 3. For every $1000 increment reached from either profit of sales at the company's online store and /or corporate donations 1 additional winner will be selected.
  • 4. For any amount raised during the contest period, where the total is less than a $1000 increment, the winner(s) will receive an equal portion of the proceeds. (i.e. if the total is $2350 then there would be 2 winners receiving $1175 each)
  • 5. The contest will run from November 15th to December 15th @11:59pm, and is open to all U.S. citizens 18 years of age or older. No purchase is required to enter.
  • 6. To enter the contest a valid email should be sent to Contest @ The email should contain the answer to this question - How Old is M V Consulting, Inc. President Michael Vass?
  • 7. The answer to this question can be found on the company's websites and blogs.
  • 8. Winners agree to allow M V Consulting, Inc. to use their first name last initial and state for purposes of future promotion and advertising of its websites.

About M V Consulting, Inc. and Michael Vass:

Mr. Michael Vass is a former securities industry account executive of good standing, and currently works in the field of investor relations. He has served in the US Marine Corps Reserves, as well as worked and studied in such diverse fields as entertainment, communications, philosophy and chemistry. He has lived abroad, in Moscow and Tbilisi, as well as in various cities throughout the United States.

Mr. Vass is President of M V Consulting, Inc. a diversified private company that maintains divisions in search engine optimization, an online store, political and entertainment celebrity blogs. It is the combinations of these unique experiences that have led Mr. Vass to the creation of M V Consulting, Inc. The Company owns Black Entertainment USA (, VASS (, a corporate website (, and an online store (

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

What the national healthcare argument means for our kids

**This is also found at Children's Health Blog, where I am a contributing author.**

So, everyone wants to talk about nationalized healthcare. Presidential candidates, Congress, Conservatives and Liberals. There are just massive amounts of communication on the issue. You hear about it from pundits on cable news channels, listen to answers (and half-answers) about it from candidates, read polls on it in newspapers and countless blogs like this one discuss all aspects of the issue. Except one.

The one item is quality of the care. Whether any citizen is able to get private care, or publicly funded medical coverage or any other solution that may be proposed the real issue is how good the quality of the care they receive is. This is no more critical than when the quality of care given to children is concerned.

I want to thank Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey for the article she wrote on a recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine. The study was based on 1500 children, and conducted by Children's Hospital and Regional Medical Center in Seattle, the University of Washington School of Medicine and the RAND Corporation, with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Roughly 80% of the children had private medical coverage and nearly all had some form of coverage.

What the study found was shocking. 46% of the care that the kids should have gotten never happened. While treatment for something like the common was mostly appropriate, but for asthma and other chronic ailments it was half as effective. Let me be clear, out of 175 items that should be part of child care – including the diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up – many items were never done. And this is among children that had the money.

Imagine that. Your kids are not getting the treatment they need, and politicians are arguing over how to pay for what they aren’t being given in the first place. The priorities seem to be fundamentally flawed. The question that should be asked appears to be why is the quality of care as low for children in a nation with as many resources and experts as America does?

No matter the political affiliation, I believe that everyone loves children. None would wish them harm and want only the best for them. Yet political bickering is oblivious to this issue, stuck in a quagmire of how to pay. I am not a parent but I am sure that every parent I know hasn’t a single care about cost when their child is sick. If you gave them a million dollars and stated their child would remain ill, or have lifelong complications from failing to get the right treatment, the parent might throttle you for such a suggestion. Yet that is the political environment today.

I am insulted to learn this information and to hear of this lapse. This is America, a land where the best of everything exists and the standards in virtually every aspect of life are the envy of every nation in the world. Yet our children lag far behind. Not behind our potential, but behind our actual ability to provide care. That is an insult, our children deserve more.

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Are UFO's a joke or fact? How do you know?

**This can also be found at All American Blog where I am a contributing author.**

Not long ago, during a Democratic Presidential debate, Dennis Kucinich made a remarkable comment on national TV. He openly stated that he had seen a U.F.O. at some point in his life. This was taken as a light point in the debate, and was glossed over by the other candidates and major news media.

The shame is that this is not the first public figure to acknowledge that they had seen something that appears to be other than man-made in the skies. But little is made of such questions, and the government officially denies and disputes all such claims. The government points to its investigation called Project Blue Book, run by the Air Force from 1947 to 1969, that checked on 12,618 UFO reports. The official conclusion was that no evidence of space aliens or a super technology in operation existed. What is not mentioned is that fact that a percentage of all the investigations came back with no explanation whatsoever.

Because of the official conclusion the government has stated that there has been no event that gives reason to open up another Blue Book or other type of investigation. And in time we see that now private citizens are often ridiculed or chastised for claiming to see a UFO. Such has happened to the declaration of Mr. Kucinich.

But is he the only public official to see a UFO? Is he one of the “few” to have made a sighting? Is there really nothing for the government to check?

Well I submit that there was at least one thing that is an open question. In Phoenix in 1997, several thousand people observed for minutes slow moving, silent, lights over the city. Thousands of credible, professional, sane people. Including then-Arizona Gov. Fife Symington.

Is that enough to open an investigation? What if you add to this, Mr. Kucinich, and John Callahan a former Federal Aviation Administration investigator? There are also the reported sightings over O’Hare airport on November 7, 2006 which was seen by a group of United Airlines employees. This group included pilots and at least one supervisor. Also not least in this small group should be included Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan? Are they public enough and credible enough?

Well a panel of international pilots and former government officials believe so. And they are asking for an investigation.

For me, I think I summed it up best when I stated

“For the record I will mention that I do believe we are not alone in the universe. Other beings exist. It is complete arrogance and statistically impossible for there not to be other lifeforms. It is equally arrogant and impossible that all those other beings are less intelligent or advanced than ourselves. Given these probabilities it is possible that UFO’s exist and do visit the world.”

And what does it mean if not only are we not singular in the universe, but that we are also not the top of the chain? Infact what if we are, in spite of all our advances and technology, just barely on the scale of intelligent beings in the universe? A humbling thought.

But we deserve to know. We should know. Because just like Will Smith’s character in Men In Black, when faced with the fact that

“A thousand years ago everybody knew as a fact, that the earth was the center of the universe. Five hundred years ago, everybody knew that the Earth was flat, and fifteen minutes ago, you knew that humans were alone on it. Imagine what you'll know tomorrow.”

We can match the challenge and face the new perspective of the universe. Or are we like what Tommy Lee Jones’ Agent K stated

“A person is smart; people are dumb panicky dangerous animals and you know it.”

Personally I hope for the former. But we will never know if we don’t check.

But what do you think?

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