Friday, August 29, 2008

CHANGE We can believe in . . . delivering the promise

By l.t. Dravis

Barack Obama has called on Americans to implement change we can believe in; sounds good, but what does it really mean?

Well, you can believe that change we can believe in will not come easy, nor will it happen in a vacuum.

If President Obama is sworn in on January 20, 2009, nothing will change . . . unless and until we, the people, take responsibility for holding government – on all levels – accountable for providing not only the leadership, but the insight, the direction, and the resources necessary to rebuild our communities.

President Obama will need people on the ground throughout the nation; people who are capable of reaching up through government on all levels to mobilize the resources necessary to make change happen so we can revitalize our economy, rebuild our infrastructure, and make government truly responsive to everyone, not just the well-connected, wealthy few.

The people who would make change happen would be Community Coordinators . . . folks whose responsibilities would include mobilizing resources to establish after school programs for children in inner city neighborhoods; soliciting local support, private funding, and government funding for infrastructure improvements in suburban communities; working with major corporations like Microsoft or Intel to provide computers and wireless access for rural school districts; coordinating bank-sponsored seminars on good money management for people from all socioeconomic backgrounds; working to expand enterprise zones for small businesses in rust-belt cities; coordinating solar panel installations for buildings in underdeveloped communities; helping farmers grow more food more efficiently; and on and on.

Community Coordinators would use a professionally prepared step-by-step manual to write, implement, and monitor action/change plans for each Congressional district by:

  • Getting to know the district to determine critical needs and evaluate meaningful opportunities
  • Establishing a series of prioritized goals to define and mobilize the resources necessary to meet those goals
  • Enlisting support of business, education, community organizations, and local, state, and federal government officials to marshal resources
  • Delivering resources necessary to achieve goals to make change happen or take advantage of each meaningful opportunity
  • Following-up to monitor progress toward completion of each goal

Dependent on population and geography, each Congressional district would be assigned three to seven Community Coordinators (democrats, republicans, or independents) appointed to a one year term by the elected Representative.

Coordinators would give up their day jobs as business professionals, police officers, firefighters, teachers, programmers, retail clerks, machinists, et al, to work full time making change happen in their communities. When a Community Coordinator’s term ends, he or she would go back to work and share a once-in-a-lifetime experience with colleagues, families, friends, and neighbors.

Coordinators could also be recruited from organizations like the Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE). SCORE volunteers are retired business owners and executives with the education and experience so necessary to apply viable solutions to complex problems. These folks would work to mentor other Coordinators and would hold town hall meetings and offer seminars and workshops to bring individuals, business, education, and government in each Congressional district into the change process.

Coordinators who give up income from their jobs to serve could be supported in part by grants from private groups like the Knight Foundation, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Henry J. Kaiser Foundation, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and other foundations that support National Public Radio and community based projects throughout the nation with millions of dollars in donations every year. Community Coordinators and their activities could also be supported with cash, employee volunteers, in-kind services, and products provided by corporations and corporate foundations with names like Bank of America, Caterpillar, Dow Chemical, Ford, Genentech, IBM, Microsoft, Wells Fargo, Wiley Corporation and hundreds of others*.

Though we don’t pretend to have anticipated every contingency here, this outline can serve as the basis for at least taking the first step toward establishing a national Community Coordinator program.

While we recognize that Community Coordinators would be faced with tough challenges on a variety of levels, we also know that there aren’t any quick solutions and there are no short cuts to change.

On the other hand, Community Coordinators, like Peace Corps Volunteers, would be uniquely rewarded by having been part of an experience that is extraordinarily challenging, exhilarating, and worthwhile.

And, that is change we can believe in . . . isn’t it?

*According to The Chronicle of Philanthropy (August 21, 2008), corporations and corporate foundations donated $3.8 billion to community projects in 2007

Copyright © 2008 by l.t. Dravis. All rights reserved.

If you have questions, comments, or concerns, Email me at (goes right to my desk) and since I personally answer every Email, I look forward to hearing from you soon.

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

NEGATIVE Campaign ads . . . good, bad, or?

By l.t. Dravis

DENVER, COLORADO – Wednesday, August 27, 2008 – So, Obama’s in the house . . . Hillary did the right thing, Bill did the right thing . . . and things are looking good for the demos in ‘08!

And, no one, not even Joe, can deny that Biden is the guy!

The Democratic convention appears to be more united than anyone ever thought possible.

Even the talking heads . . . Anderson Cooper, Wolf Blitzer, Chris Matthews, Keith Olbermann, et al . . . were impressed.

So why are so many Democrats nervous about Obama’s prospects against John McCain in the fall campaign?

Negative campaigning.

Republicans are experts at it.

Democrats are not.

So, the question that begs to be asked and answered is, why does negative campaign advertising work?

Why, for example, would any intelligent adult make a decision to not vote for Barack Obama because John McCain runs an ad that says Obama’s nothing but a celebrity . . . like Paris Hilton?

What does Paris Hilton’s celebrity status have to do with Obama’s qualifications to be President?

Anyone with half a brain who knows anything about Paris Hilton’s accomplishments, life, and reputation, knows that she has absolutely nothing in common with a man who worked his way through law school, became the first black President of the Harvard Law Review, became an Illinois State Senator, became a United States Senator, and made history by becoming first African-America nominee for the Presidency of the United States of America.

Nevertheless, polls indicated that McCain’s campaign benefited from making that tenuous if not fraudulent connection between Paris and Barack.


Because negative political advertising appeals to voters’ preconceived notions.

If voters already think Barack Obama lacks the experience necessary to be an effective President and the McCain campaign comes up with an attack ad, right, wrong, or somewhere in between, that points out Obama’s relative inexperience, the ad reinforces the preconception that justifies not voting for the ‘inexperienced’ candidate.

Yet, if we think about it, it’s obvious that negative campaign ads have absolutely nothing to do with a candidate’s capabilities, integrity, motives or lack thereof.

Negative campaign ads are created and delivered by people whose lack of character allows them to consciously decide to feed voter cynicism; these are people who believe it is okay to polarize voters; and, these are people who don’t mind ruining the reputations of innocent people if they can improve their chances to win.

The next time you see or hear a negative campaign ad, consider the source and then ask a simple question: “Does this ad reflect the quality of character I want in the person I elect to run my country?”

John McCain made the mistake of beating George W. Bush in the 2000 New Hampshire primary by a margin of 48% - 30%.

After the defeat, George W. Bush was running scared because he knew if he lost the South Carolina primary, his campaign could run out of steam.

So, what did Bush do?

Did he put forth better ideas to win more votes? Did he create more meaningful domestic and foreign policies to attract more voters to his campaign? Or, did he reach out to the cares, concerns, and needs of the American people to inspire voters to support his candidacy?


Not at all.

George W. Bush turned to his top dog campaign strategist, Karl Rove, and asked him to find a sure way to beat McCain in South Carolina.

Karl Rove, no slouch when it comes to sleazy politics, knew exactly what to do; he kicked off a whisper campaign that suggested without fact or validation that when John McCain was a Prisoner of War, he committed treason.

Rove soon realized the treason thing wasn’t catching on with potential voters, so he instructed Bush campaign operatives to call prospective voters across South Carolina to tell them that Senator McCain had fathered a child with a black prostitute.

The lie about the child with the black prostitute generated some encouraging results, but Rove, known to be thorough and effective at everything he does, wasn’t quite done with McCain. Rove created three more lies to tell the voters of South Carolina: 1. That John McCain cheated on his first wife; 2. That Cindy, his second wife, was a drug addict, and, 3. That McCain was a homosexual.

And it worked: Bush beat McCain in the South Carolina primary by 53% to 42%, went on to ‘win’ the 2000 general election, somehow got himself reelected in 2004, and is now slated to leave office January 20, 2009 as arguably the worst President ever in the history of this nation.

Yup . . . Rove’s negative campaign advertising worked exceedingly well.

And, eight years later, after lies about the need to go to war in Iraq, the ‘get-even’ with Ambassador Joe Wilson that neutralized Valerie Plame, the payments to columnists to promote Bush policies, the manipulation of U.S. Attorneys for political purposes, Dick Cheney’s ‘behind-the-scenes’ energy policy created with oil companies, and on and on, ad infinitum, is anyone surprised?

What would you say if I said we get what we deserve when we elect candidates who rely on negative campaign ads to win elections?

Would you agree?


Or . . . ?

ST. PAUL, MINNESOTA – Tuesday, September 2, 2008 . . . The McCain campaign is getting a little testy these days . . . sort of like the old man who yells at neighbor kids to get off his lawn.

Don’t believe it?

Well, believe this . . . John McCain pulled out of an interview with Larry King because he didn’t like the way CNN’s Campbell Brown interviewed a McCain campaign spokesman by the name of Tucker Bounds.

When you look at Tucker Bounds, you’d think you’re seeing a fairly youthful fellow with a reasonably bright mind who appears to be capable of handling a CNN television interview without the McCain campaign wigging out . . . but you’d be wrong.

So how did Campbell Brown’s interview cause the McCain bunch to take their Larry King marbles and go home?

Brown had been interviewing Bounds about Sarah Palin when she asked, “Tucker, foreign policy experience has been a huge issue in this campaign because you guys made it a big issue, pointing out John McCain has far more experience than Barack Obama and nothing in your view is more important than the campaign. I don’t have to tell you there’s a feeling out there by some that you’re not holding your VP pick to your own standard, the standard you define. So explain to us why you think Governor Palin is ready to be commander in chief?”

Bounds attempted to sidestep the question with, “Governor Palin has the good fortune of being on the ticket with John McCain who there is no question is the most experienced and shown proven judgment on the international state. He understands foreign affairs.”

Campbell Brown is much too smart to let Bounds hide behind John McCain so she went said, “We know all about John McCain, Tucker. I asked you about her. We all know the role of the VP as John McCain defined it is to be able to step into the job of the presidency on day one. I’m asking you about her foreign policy experience.”

Bounds evidently didn’t want to talk about Sarah Palin because he answered, “Yeah, Campbell, there are a number of people supporting Barack Obama’s candidacy and feel he’s experienced enough to take on the oval office. Our feeling is . . . “

Campbell refused to let Bounds slip and slide away. “You’re not answering my question . . . “

But Bounds wasn’t getting it. “Just as much experience as Barack Obama.”

Campbell, ever the professional, kept going for a meaningful answer. “Okay. So does she . . . you . . . what I’m saying is that you set a different standard by arguing how important it was with John McCain. No one’s arguing with you he has much more experience than Barack Obama, so I’m trying to get someone from the campaign to explain to me what foreign policy experience or qualification she has that would allow her to be ready to be commander in chief if something should happen to Senator McCain.”

“Well, Campbell, let me be clear,” Bounds said, proceeding to not be clear. “I don’t think there should be a problem explaining her experience. She has executive state level experience. She’s been in public office reforming Washington. She’s been in executive office longer and in a more effective sense than Barack Obama’s been in the United States Senate. She’s been the commander of the National Guard of the Alaska National Guard that’s been deployed overseas. That’s foreign policy experience.”

Campbell Brown, clearly tired of Bounds’ shameless political spin, said, “If I can interrupt for one second because I’ve heard you guys say this a lot. Can you tell me one decision that she made as commander in chief of the Alaska National Guard. Just one?”

Tucker Bounds proved he could dodge a question as good as anyone in the McCain campaign when he said, “Yeah. She’s made . . . any decision she has made as the commander of the National Guard that’s deployed overseas is more of a decision Barack Obama’s been making as he’s been running for the president for the last two years.”

Campbell Brown wasn’t about to join Bounds on his detour so she pressed on with, “So tell me. Tell me. Give me an example of one of those decisions. I’m curious, just one decision she made in her capacity as commander in chief of the National Guard.”

Campbell,” he said indignantly, “certainly you don’t mean to belittle every experience, every judgment she makes as commander . . . “

“I’m belittling nothing,” Campbell said, obviously surprised he’d taken that tack. “I want to know one judgment or one decision. I want to know what one decision was. I’m not belittling anything. I am curious.”

Bounds came up with, “As she makes a decision how to equip or how to command the National Guard in Alaska, that is more . . .”

“But Tucker,” Campbell interrupted calmly, “those are the Pentagon’s decisions. That’s General Petraeus. That’s the White House.”

Tucker Bounds was lost. “Pardon me?”

Brown attempted to bring him back on track with, “No governor make decisions how to equip or deploy the National Guard. When they go to Iraq, those are decisions made by the pentagon.”

But Tucker Bounds wasn’t interested in coming back on track; he saw an opportunity to distract her and he went for it. “Campbell, on a factual basis, they certainly do. In Alaska, if I have an emergency in your state, the National Guard is under the command of the governor. That is more of a command role than Barack Obama has ever had. I would argue that John McCain and Governor Palin between the two of them have far more command experience in military than either of the candidates on the democratic side.

“I do want to argue this is about the top of the ticket. Ultimately when people go into the ballot box and decided between Barack Obama and John McCain, they will decide between John McCain’s record of reforming Washington and Barack Obama’s rhetoric on the campaign trail, doesn’t have a lot of experience, certainly no command or military experience which both our candidates have. That’s an important distinction I think voters will make the call in November.”

Campbell Brown, clearly recognizing that Tucker Bounds would never give her a straight answer, surrendered with a gorgeous smile. “All right, Tucker. I’m just going to give it to you, baby. We’ll end it there.”

Bounds sighed with relief and simply said, “Appreciate it.”

“I appreciate you coming on and taking time to have this debate,” Campbell said sincerely. “I think it’s important. People don’t know a lot about her. They want to understand her qualifications as much as possible. We’re not beating you up here. We’re not trying to. We’re just trying to educate ourselves and educate our viewers. So I really do appreciate your time and thank you for your time coming on . . . “

That’s the interview that caused the McCain campaign to pull out of the Larry King interview.

Can you believe it?

Here’s how McCain spokesperson Maria Comella characterized the interview. “After a relentless refusal by certain on-air reporters to come to terms with John McCain’s selection of Alaska’s sitting governor as our party’s nominee for vice president, we decided John McCain’s time would be better served elsewhere.”


Come on, Senator McCain, you’re not really going to tell us to get off your lawn now, are you?

Join the conversation about politics from the working person’s point of view, BOTH SIDES NOW style, at

Copyright © 2008 by l.t. Dravis. All rights reserved.

If you have questions, comments, or concerns, Email me at (goes right to my desk) and since I personally answer every Email, I look forward to hearing from you soon.

If you have questions, comments, or concerns, Email me at (goes right to my desk) and since I personally answer every Email, I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

AS Of today, you're in debt an additional $31,600.16!

By l.t. Dravis

WASHINGTON, D.C. – August 26, 2008 – According to the U.S. National Debt Clock (, as of 5:32P19 PM, GMT today, the outstanding public debt is $9,625,819,675,894.10 (that’s Nine Trillion, six hundred twenty-five billion, eight hundred and nineteen million, six hundred seventy-five thousand, eight hundred and ninety-four dollars and 10 cents)!

Since the estimated population of the United States is approximately 304,612,951 men, women, and children, your share of the debt is $31,600.16.

To make matters worse, the National Debt grows by $1.86 billion, plus compounding interest, each and every day.

Don’t like having your economic future and the economic futures of your children and grandchildren mortgaged by 535 people you don’t even know?

Okay . . . why don’t you tell them how you feel?

It’s simple. You have only three people to contact: Two United States Senators and one Representative.

You can track down your senators by clicking on ( You then click on Senators and you’ll find a list of these big-spending 100 folks by state.

You can find your flush representative by clicking on ( Click on Representatives, click on Write Your Representative, key in your state and zip code, and you’re on your way.

Don’t bother with a phone call . . . you’re likely to wind up talking to an aide who may or may not accurately translate your message to your representative or senator. Don’t waste your time with snail mail. With post-911 security concerns, a letter could take three months or longer to arrive . . . long after your concern may no longer be a concern.

Use Email . . . it’s quick, concise, and your message won’t be subject to translation. Most important, you will have sent a documented message that is tough to ignore.

It’s easy to criticize politicians who make hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, work only a few days a week, take all kinds of breaks, and have benefits and pensions most of us can only dream of while their earmarks and boondoggles bury the future of the nation under mounds of debt.

But that’s not what this is about. This is about change, real change. This is about you telling your elected officials what you need and want from your government. This is about change you and millions of people just like you can make happen if only you’ll make the effort to consistently communicate with your elected representatives, intelligently and respectfully.

So be smart . . . introduce yourself with a clear, concise, reasonable, message that will get your elected representative’s attention and action. When a representative or senator receives an intelligent inquiry, suggestion, or comment, they tend to respond quickly and thoughtfully . . . and that’s precisely what you want them to do.

Keep in mind that politicians worry about the two things that keep them in office: Money and public opinion . . . so you’re fifty percent of the way there when you click send.

If we’re ever going to turn around a government gone wild, if we’re ever going to eliminate the influence of special interests and lobbyists, if we’re ever going to have a truly responsive government as envisioned by the framers of the Constitution, and if we’re ever going to pay down that National Debt, we have no choice but to communicate clearly and often with our elected officials.

After all, if you don’t speak to your representative and senators, the lobbyists and special interests will and we know where that leads.

The choice is yours.

Copyright © 2008 by l.t. Dravis. All rights reserved.

If you have questions, comments, or concerns, Email me at (goes right to my desk) and since I personally answer every Email, I look forward to hearing from you soon.

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WHAT Can we do to prevent a million dropouts a year?

By l.t. Dravis

THE GOOD NEWS is . . . every child in America is guaranteed the opportunity to prepare for life, a job, and a career with a free education from Kindergarten through high school. According to the Department of Education, we will spend about $900 billion this year, not counting state and local funding, to educate approximately 78 million K-12 students.

The bad news is . . . 30% of high school students, or about a million kids, drop out every year to do nothing, commit crimes, or work in dead-end jobs. On a state-by-state basis, drop out rates fluctuate from Nevada’s 55 percent to New Jersey’s 16 percent.

In human terms and in dollars and cents, the high school dropout problem is costly. Moreover, dropouts are typically doomed to live in poverty, chronically unemployed or underemployed, and are likely to wind up in prison and/or on public assistance.

According to the 2006 U.S. Census, the average high school graduate earns approximately $280,000.00 more over his or her working life than the average high school dropout. Because high school dropouts either can’t find jobs or wind up stuck in minimum wage jobs, each year’s class of dropouts costs the nation more than $200 billion in lost wages and tax revenues.

Dropouts say they quit school because they didn’t fit it, didn’t see any value in education, and were bored stiff. Surprisingly, most dropouts are not failing when they leave school.

National Education Association President, Reg Weaver recently spoke at a Michigan Education Association conference where he said, “The greatest cost and the greatest loss are the thousands of dreams that die every day when a child gives up without getting a quality education. These children aren’t falling through the cracks. They’re falling through a crater, a crater that swallows their future and threatens the future of the entire nation.”

Okay . . . we all agree . . . we’ve got a serious problem on our hands.

So, as educators, parents, and concerned citizens, what can we do to keep our children on track, in the classroom, learning to live full, rich lives as productive members of the American scene?

If educators, parents, and politicians can overcome apathy and put their differences aside to take the 5 following steps, we could drop the dropout rate like a bad habit:

  1. Act early, seriously, and consistently to make sure students from kindergarten through middle school are learning at grade-level so they’re prepared to handle classroom and homework requirements when they reach high school
  2. Bring parents into on-campus workshops to acquaint them with their children’s curriculum, classroom assignments, homework assignments, grading standards, and behavioral expectations
  3. Expand high school graduation options by developing creative partnerships with local businesses and community colleges to fast-track students into trade & technical school vocational training programs
  4. Provide local and state funding to train administrators and teachers to motivate at-risk students to understand and appreciate the true value and absolute need to become educated in life skills and vocational training
  5. Request federal funding to pay for dropout prevention programs in states that make high school graduation mandatory for everyone 21 and younger

EPILOGUE: This is not about you or me or administrators, parents, teachers, or politicians . . . this is about kids who need the adults in their lives to work together to give them the support, the structure, and the momentum to get the education they’ll need to live full, rich, and more productive lives than we do.

Isn’t that the least we can do for our children and their future?

Want to do something . . . today . . . to help improve education for your children, my children, everyone’s children?

Good . . . Contact PROJECT APPLESEED at (615) 686-2195, FAX to (314) 725-2319, or email The physical address is 520 Melville – St. Lous, MO 63130 . . . you will not be wasting your time!

Copyright © 2008 by l.t. Dravis. All rights reserved.

If you have questions, comments, or concerns, Email me at (goes right to my desk) and since I personally answer every Email, I look forward to hearing from you soon.

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THE Bush/Cheney legacy . . . aren't they embarrassed?

WASHINGTON, D.C. July 17, 2008 – In an exclusive interview today with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, House speaker Nancy Pelosi called President George W. Bush a ‘total failure’ a man with ‘no ideas’.

The Speaker’s unusually candid comments were apparently part of her response to the President’s criticism earlier this week of Congress’ inability to complete its legislative agenda prior to leaving for its month long summer recess.

Pelosi didn’t hold back when she said, “You know, God bless him, bless his heart, the president of the United States, a total failure, losing all credibility with the American people on the economy, on the war, on energy, you name the subject.”

The Speaker went on to say that the House and Senate were “trying to sweep up after Bush’s mess over and over and over again. The president knows it. He needs something to talk about because he has no ideas.”

In light of Pelosi’s remarks, some Americans wonder why George W. Bush and Dick Cheney don’t seem to be at all embarrassed by the following partial list of unfinished work, misdirected policies, and unprecedented series of problems at home and abroad they’re leaving to the next Administration:


  • National Debt approaching $9.6 Trillion – each man, woman, and child in the U.S. owes $31,600.10 as of today
  • The Federal Budget Deficit approaching $482 billion
  • The U.S. Dollar trading at all time lows against foreign currencies
  • Oil at $116.33, compared to $33.51 per barrel on the day the United States invaded Iraq
  • Gasoline selling for over $4.00 per gallon compared to $1.45 per gallon when George W. Bush was inaugurated in January, 2001
  • Home values declining by as much as 30% to 40% across the country
  • The Dow Jones Industrial Average down nearly 2,000 points this year over its highest point last year
  • Four million Americans facing home foreclosures
  • Major financial institutions, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, in financial trouble
  • Chrysler, Ford, and General Motors edging closer and closer to bankruptcy
  • Unemployment rate climbing month after month
  • A crumbling infrastructure with airports, bridges, dams, highways, pipelines, schools, and sewer and water systems falling apart with no plan and no funding


  • 4,147 precious American lives lost in Iraq 5 years after the U.S. invasion and occupation
  • Nearly 30,000 Americans wounded in Iraq
  • 60,000 U.S. troops held in place by arbitrary stop-loss measures in Iraq
  • $600 billion borrowed by the Bush Administration of an estimated $3 trillion to fund the Iraq war (compared to the Bush Administration’s pre-war estimate of $50-60 billion)
  • An estimated 95,000 Iraqi civilian casualties since the U.S. invaded Iraq
  • Nearly 5 million Iraqi refugees inside and outside the country
  • Efforts to fight al-Qaida in Afghanistan compromised by the diversion of troops, equipment, money, and strategic focus on Iraq


So what do we do now? Elect another President, Vice-President, and another batch of Representatives and Senators, then get back to ‘Dancing with the Stars’ and ‘American Idol’ while we hope for the best?

Isn’t that what we did in 2000, 2002, 2004, and 2006?

How’s that working out for us?

Look . . . we’re Americans . . . we don’t have to get ripped off by our so-called leaders. We have the power to put a stop to this cycle of incompetence and graft!

The founding fathers didn’t constitute the government of the United States of America to be the playground of multi-millionaire politicians, lobbyists, and crooks who play at governing and steal us blind while we sit back and download our iPods and play the Legend of Zelda and Grand Theft Auto IV.

The power of government comes from ‘consent of the governed’ (that’s us) which means we’re supposed to assign and monitor the powers we give to Representatives, Senators, and the President.

If every Congressperson, every Senator, the President, the Vice-President, and the Cabinet knew we were monitoring their initiatives, schedules, voting records, and work habits, they wouldn’t have time or energy to waste on lobbyists, special interests, or self interests.

Would they?

Copyright © 2008 by l.t. Dravis. All rights reserved.

If you have questions, comments, or concerns, Email me at (goes right to my desk) and since I personally answer every Email, I look forward to hearing from you soon.

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WHAT is and where is The Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights Act of 2008?

By l.t. Dravis

WASHINGTON – Tuesday, July 29, 2008 – What is the Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights Act of 2008 and what would it do for you?

This bill (House Resolution 5244) is a rare piece of legislation . . . rare in the sense that it will actually save you money and make your life better.

I should tell you up front that because banks appreciate greed more than they appreciate your business, it’s not likely this bill will ever see the President’s desk . . . unless you and millions of other credit cardholders contact your representatives and senators to demand they listen to you, ignore lobbyists and special interests, and vote this bill into law . . . and, if that happens, here’s what H.R. 5244 will do for you:

  • Credit card companies (banks) would have to give you 45 days notice before increasing interest rates
  • Credit card companies would no longer be able to charge interest on any charges you pay during the grace period
  • As long as your account is current, credit card companies would no longer be able to retroactively bump interest rates
  • Credit card companies would no longer be able to arbitrarily ‘re-price’ rates and fees without notifying you in advance
  • Credit card companies wouldn’t be able to add fees on an ‘interest-only’ balance as long as you make your payments on time
  • Credit card companies would no longer be able to mislead you with terms like ‘fixed-rate’ or ‘prime-rate’ - they’d actually have to define those terms in plain English in all printed materials and on websites
  • When a credit card company decides to nail you with a higher interest rate, you’d be able to cancel the card and pay off the balance at the current interest rate and term . . . plus, you’d have 3 billing cycles to say no to the higher interest rate
  • Credit card companies would have to mail your statement at least 25 days ahead of the payment due date
  • If you make a payment on the due date before 5:00 PM, Eastern Time, credit card companies would have to record your payment as made on time
  • Credit card companies would have to give you a phone number and an internet address so you can determine a payoff balance at any time
  • If you can prove you mailed a payment at least 7 days before the due date, credit card companies would no longer be able to charge you a late fee
  • You’d have the right to reject any pre-approved credit card before you activate it without taking a hit on your credit rating
  • Credit card companies would have to give you the option of choosing a fixed credit limit that can’t be exceeded
  • And, if you have a fixed-credit limit, credit card companies would no longer be able to charge ‘Over-Limit’ fees
  • For the first time ever, credit card companies would have to reveal profits, card fees, and rates to Congress at least once a year

Think about it . . . for the first time ever, banks couldn’t rip you off at will.

But what can you do to make H.R. 5244 become a reality?

Go to Congresswomen Carolyn Maloney’s website ( and you’ll learn everything you need to know about the Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights Act of 2008. Carolyn Maloney is a Democrat from New York and Chairperson of the Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit. She’s also the great lady who introduced H.R. 5244 in March of this year.

So, where is House Resolution 5244 today?

Because Congress owes too much to lobbyists like the Consumer Bankers Association, a group that strongly opposes this legislation, H.R. 5244 is stuck in the House Financial Services Committee and is not likely to come up for a floor vote in 2008 . . . if ever.

Including Chairman Barney Frank, there are seventy Democrats and Republicans on the House Financial Services Committee and if you’re serious about taking back your government, if you’re tired of being pushed around by credit card companies, here’s your chance to create a ‘change you can believe in’.

Click on the House Financial Services Committee website (, call (202) 225-4247, send a FAX to (202) 225-6952, or send a letter to the House Financial Services Committee, 2129 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20515 and ask Chairman Frank and his committee to explain to you why H.R. 5244 hasn’t moved on to the floor for a vote by the entire House of Representatives.

Wouldn’t you like to know?

I know I would.

Copyright © 2008 by l.t. Dravis. All rights reserved.

If you have questions, comments, or concerns, Email me at (goes right to my desk) and since I personally answer every Email, I look forward to hearing from you soon.

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THE Dubya principle . . .

By l.t. Dravis

BEIJING, CHINA – Monday, August 11, 2008 – Well, well, there he was – George W. Bush – leader of the free world having a great time, enjoying himself at the 2008 Olympics, ‘rootin’ our team on, bein’ interviewed by Bob Costas on an impromptu NBC sound stage in downtown Beijing.

Never saw him happier. Smiling, jovial, just about as carefree as anyone I’ve ever seen.

Why not? Life for the sonovapresident and soon-to-be former President is looking mighty good.

While the families of four thousand one hundred and thirty-eight brave American troops suffer the excruciating pain of loss Mr. Bush will never understand, while thousands upon thousands of American soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines struggle to overcome the debilitating effects of war wounds, and while millions of Americans face an uncertain future of ‘who-knows-how-much’ fuel prices, worry about making mortgage payments and holding on to their jobs, while many lose sleep wondering how they’ll ever put their kids through college and save for retirement at the same time, George W. looks forward to standing ovations, collecting whatever he can on the lecture circuit, picking up nearly two hundred grand a year in a lifetime pension, plus another three quarters of a million or so in ‘office expenses’ . . . all paid for by you, me, and every other taxpayer in the country.

Many say that George W. Bush wouldn’t have made it around the first corner of the political road to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue if he’d been born into any other family. Others contend that Dubya would never have graduated from Yale or Harvard, much less been accepted in the first place if the luck of his conception had been different.

Yeah but, that’s just political claptrap. Should we pay any attention to people who speak out of both sides of their political mouths?

Let’s not.

Let’s look at the man not for what we think he is but for what he really is . . . let’s measure George W. Bush by a proven standard. As Dr. Laurence Peter said in his 1969 landmark book, ‘The Peter Principle’, when a person (or a President) rises above his level of incompetence, the organization they serve suffers. We can use the following ‘Peter Principle’ indicators to measure George W. Bush’s competence – or lack thereof:

  • “Project estimates and schedules are routinely missed. The person doesn't just miss assignments every now and then, but consistently misses them. This is indicative of the person's ability to see projects through to successful completion or manage by objectives. If he cannot, he either lacks the proper skills and training to perform the work, or simply doesn't care about being late or over budget.” My Peter Principle Evaluation: George W. Bush’s initial and ongoing response to Hurricane Katrina speaks louder than I can . . . so, I’ll let Katrina, three years after the fact, speak for herself and I won’t even get into deficits and the national debt
  • “The duties and responsibilities as defined in a job description are not being met. Again, this may be indicative of the lack of proper knowledge, skills and experience, or an attitude problem.” George W. Bush twice spoke the following words as he took the oath of office: "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States." My Peter Principle Evaluation: George W. Bush failed to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States in the following ways: First Amendment protections have been diluted by the Bush Administration’s issuing an executive order after 9/11 that freezes the assets of anyone who ‘associates’ with anyone the administration decides is a ‘terrorist’, with or without proof; Fourth Amendment protections have been rendered ineffective by the Bush Administration’s use of warrantless wiretapping and ‘National Security Letters’ which allow the FBI to demand personal information on anyone without any form of oversight; the Fifth Amendment right to due process has been effectively canceled by the Bush Administration’s use of secret prisons in foreign nations and at Guantanamo, Cuba as offshore ‘non-constitutional zones’ where ‘enemy combatants’ can be incarcerated indefinitely without charge, without representation, and without the benefit of trial
  • “The person lacks the respect and confidence of the people working around him, not only his subordinates, but his superior and lateral relationships as well. Although this is difficult to quantify, it basically tells us, "Where there is smoke, there is fire." In other words, the person either has bad social skills, or his peers already know what he is capable and incapable of doing.” My Peter Principle Evaluation: George W. Bush has broken with aides, colleagues, and supporters by: Manipulating intelligence to suit preconceived notions about the Nation’s need to invade Iraq, a sovereign nation; Routine disregard for Congressional oversight of Executive Branch activities; Outing Valerie Plame for petty political purposes; Playing politics with U.S. attorneys; Pardoning Scooter Libby without legal cause; and by causing the deaths of thousands of American troops and Iraqi citizens in an unnecessary war

- Quotes attributed to ‘The Peter Principle’ by Dr. Laurence Peter

Political rhetoric and a Presidential Library notwithstanding, it's safe to assume that George W. Bush will be remembered as the worst President in the history of the United States of America.

For eight years, he failed to unify and lead the nation; he failed to mobilize the nation to effectively fight terrorism; he failed to preserve and protect our Constitution; he failed to thoughtfully promote America’s interests around the world; and he failed to effectively manage our economy and ecology.

George W. Bush has nothing to be proud of . . . he wasted eight years of America’s lives, time, energy, and resources . . . for nothing more than the fleeting gratitude he got from special interests, lobbyists, and political cronies.

He should walk away on January 20, 2009 with no applause, no cheers, and no waves.

Voters willing, we will never see the likes of him again.

But, wait a second . . . who’s at fault here? George W.?

Not hardly.

Voters – millions of them - put this man in office . . . twice.


Good question.

If those millions of voters had carefully evaluated George W. Bush’s resume (a mediocre student, a man with a history of DWI arrests, an admitted alcoholic, a reservist with a questionable military record, a failed businessman, a privileged son who used the family name to win a largely ceremonial governorship), would they have voted for him in 2000 because he was best qualified candidate?

Maybe there is something George W. Bush can be proud of after all. He taught us how serious the consequences can be if we fail to evaluate any candidate, every candidate, based on his or her qualifications . . . politics be damned.

Hope we’ve learned our lesson.

Dubya taught us an expensive one.

Copyright © 2008 by l.t. Dravis. All rights reserved.

If you have questions, comments, or concerns, Email me at (goes right to my desk) and since I personally answer every Email, I look forward to hearing from you soon.

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POLITICAL Conventions . . . why bother?

By l.t. Dravis

DENVER, COLORADO – Friday, August 22, 2008 . . . Here we go again. Another four years has passed, convention fever is back, and it’s everywhere.

The Democratic Convention in Denver will hit us full-on from Monday, August 25 through Thursday, August 28. We’ll be inundated with 24 hour coverage from cable news networks, plus network specials every night, plus whatever coverage the good folks at PBS can come up with.

Every thinking voter has to ask the obvious question, “How much time do I want to spend watching millionaire celebrity politicians pat themselves and each other on the back while they make promises they’ll never keep?”

Don’t think that’s the case?

Okay, then, let’s compare some of 2004 Republican nominee George W. Bush’s convention rhetoric to his actions after he was elected to a second term as President of the United States.

In his acceptance speech, nominee and incumbent President George W. Bush said, “In the work we have done and the work we will do, I am fortunate to have a superb Vice President. I have counted on Dick Cheney’s calm and steady judgment in difficult days, and I’m honored to have him at my side.”

I have to ask (permit me a snicker here, will you?), but how has Dick Cheney’s ‘calm and steady judgment’ made your personal or professional life better in the past four years?

Nominee Bush then said, “I believe this Nation wants steady, consistent, principled leadership and that is why, with your help, we will win this election.”

Bush’s ‘steady, consistent, principled leadership’ initially resisted the establishment of a 911 commission, then ultimately ignored most of the commission’s recommendations, failed to finish the reconstruction in New Orleans three years after Hurricane Katrina, supported paying hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to newspaper columnists to promote administration policies, implemented surveillance of American citizens’ Emails, internet activity, phone calls, and text messaging without court warrants, played political games with the careers of United States Attorneys, commuted Scooter Libby’s sentence for convictions on four counts of perjury, obstruction of justice, and making false statements, and on and on.

Nominee Bush said, “To create jobs, my plan will encourage investment and expansion by restraining federal spending, reducing regulation, and making the tax relief permanent. To create jobs, we will make our country less dependent on foreign sources of energy.”

So, in light of an impending $10 trillion dollar national debt and $120 a barrel oil, how honest was the nominee about his plan to ‘restrain federal spending and ‘make our country less dependent on foreign sources of energy’?

The nominee then said, “Another drag on our economy is the current tax code, which is a complicated mess filled with special interest loopholes, saddling our people with more than six billion hours of paperwork and headache every year. The American people deserve and our economic future demands a simpler, fairer, pro-growth system. In a new term, I will lead a bipartisan effort to reform and simplify the federal tax code.”

What ever happened to any bipartisan effort to simplify the tax code? I don’t remember it . . . do you?

Bush also said, “We will provide low-income Americans with better access to health care: In a new term, I will ensure every poor county in America has a community or rural health center.”

Don’t think every poor county in America has a health center . . . if they do, I couldn’t find a list.

The nominee then wound up his acceptance speech by saying, “In all these proposals, we seek to provide not just a government program, but a path -- a path to greater opportunity, more freedom, and more control over your own life. And the path begins with our youngest Americans. To build a more hopeful America, we must help our children reach as far as their vision and character can take them. Tonight, I remind every parent and every teacher, I say to every child: No matter what your circumstance, no matter where you live, your school will be the path to promise of America.”

Nice rhetoric, but given the state of schools in too many parts of America today, it turned out to be nothing more than another empty promise.

I won’t waste your time by quoting the gratuitous compliments and promises made by Dick Cheney, John McCain, Lindsay Graham, Bernard Kerik, Bob Taft, Sam Brownback, Bill Frist, Elizabeth Dole, Lynne Cheney, Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Zell Miller and others . . . but there was a bunch of them.

In any case, as I reflect on what I’ve just written, I’m thinking it would be a better use of my time next week to catch up on some reading.

I could start Monday night with Audacity of Hope and end Thursday with Faith of My Fathers.

Then I’d be free Friday to turn the TV on again and watch the 6th season debut of Real Time with Bill Maher on HBO.

What do you think?

Copyright © 2008 by l.t. Dravis. All rights reserved.

If you have questions, comments, or concerns, Email me at (goes right to my desk) and since I personally answer every Email, I look forward to hearing from you soon.

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