Thursday, March 27, 2008

Blue Blogosphere Goes Green

As Democratic President candidates get huge handouts from big Wall Street investment houses, the bluegosphere's interest in exposing corporate ties wanes. Barack Obama has $6.7 million in donations from securities and investment companies, Hillary Clinton $6.6 million and John McCain $3.0 million.

Progressive blog Think Progress jumped on my two President's Intelligence Oversight Board appointments, Fran Townsend and Peter Pace. But they turned their nose up on that same General Pace's milking of the private sector and numerous pieces on The Carlyle Group and their latest money making machinations. It seems the bluegosphere's gone green. That fits with Al Gore's Green PEU (private equity underwriter). Carlyle's first in-house lobbyist is former Clinton staffer. Both Barack and Hillary have Carlyle connected bundlers. Yes, the rabbit hole runs deep. May the best franchise win this November!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Government Influence Peddling Ways to Continue

My representative stands a good chance of being appointed to the powerful House Ways & Means Committee post election. Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX) is on the short list in part due to his catch of the National Republican Congressional Committee accounting scandal.

TheHill reported incorrectly on the unveiling of the scandal. It was Mike Conaway's insistence that he meet in person with the external auditor that caused Treasurer Chris Ward to capitulate. It was a full year after Mike's appointment as Chair of the Audit Committee. The fake annual audits began in 2002 and ran through 2006. Mr. Ward likely wanted to continue the ruse, but needed another live body to pull it off. With no real external auditor, Chris confessed. This prompted the FBI investigation.

Rather than ask why NRCC leadership and governance went five years without a real external audit, the media swallowed the Executive Committee's swill. They offered, "It was a sophisticated scheme" and "the statements looked authentic" as their defense.

But Mike Conaway got branded a hero, instead of a slow goat. How many clues did he miss during his year as audit chair? Especially as the NRCC changed auditors twice during that time. One normally hears a presentation with the audit firm's proposal. Once selected, key audit activities and time frames are established. I find it unimpressive that a CPA took a year to see something funny. It's an absolute governance travesty that Chris Ward hoodwinked the Executive Committee for over five years. They didn't fulfill the most basic duties of fiduciary oversight, especially in the post Sarbanes-Oxley era.

Rep. Conaway's landing a cushy seat on the House Ways & Means Committee could be good for San Angelo. TheHill says "Fundraising plays a large part in the selection of lawmakers for so-called “A” committees." The Ways & Means Committee has lots of plums to dish out in gratitude for that strong financial support. I'm just not confident the Mike would do so for the betterment of the community vs. his strong Republican supporters. But Mike knows how the game is played. If the accounting scandal were on the other foot, Conaway would be blasting away. Maybe he'll get his chance to protect and to serve. Let's hope it's better than the NRCC's myopic oversight which allowed the pilfering of $1 million in donations.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Foghorn Leghorn Fourth Estate

The state of reporting reminds me of the cartoon with the big chicken trying to shoe away the little chicken hawk. "Run away boy, ya bother me!" Of course big media is Foghorn Leghorn and bloggers are the small chicken hawk.

It seems every time I find something of potential national import, previously unreported, I get hurried along. Editors ask editorial page managers, "Is this really useful?" I can picture Foghorn saying, "Boy, head on over to The Nation or The Texas Observer, they might want your swill."

Nearly a year ago, I heard the editor of The Standard Times wax eloquently about The Fourth Estate and its critical role in holding a civilized society accountable. In the same breath he noted American media corrupted by cozy insider relationships with elected leaders. One need look no further than Clinton's Lincoln Bedroom vs. Bush's Dover Sole with Queen Elizabeth. Did the media dining with royalty have to promise silence on the invitee list?

Guess what's no longer news? Here's a partial list:

1) George W. Bush's Katrina Lessons Learned report made no mention of LifeCare hospital and its 24 patient deaths post landfall
2) The owner of LifeCare has a Pennsylvania Avenue address and a list of political heavyweights on its payroll. It's the private equity firm, The Carlyle Group.
3) LifeCare lawyers assert their patients became wards of the federal government as soon a FEMA evacuation teams set up in New Orleans (actually this made the news).
4) After blaming the feds for 24 patient deaths in a disaster, Carlyle got approval from Congress and the Justice Department to buy ManorCare, with 500 some mostly nursing homes. Carlyle's past failure to patients never came up.
5) The author of the Lessons Learned report, Fran Townsend was just appointed to the President's Intelligence Oversight Board. This occurred after Fran failed to include the hospital with the largest patient death toll post landfall. How's that for intelligence?
6) Bush also appointed ex-Joint Chiefs of Staff General Peter Pace to that same board.
7) Peter has President Dwight D. Eisenhower rolling over in his grave. General Pace landed a cushy part time job worth over $500,000 his first year. He's consulting with firms wanting to land government contracts. I'm not sure what one has to do to land cost plus, indefinite quantity, indefinite delivery contracts but Peter does. Don't watch him hem and haw over $4 billion in funds woefully spent to modernize intelligence. Let's focus on the future.

Now that has a Katrina like refrain. But really, is any of this stuff useful? Not for selling ads, which seems to be the new mission of The Fourth Estate. Does that mean bloggers inherit the mantle? It seems many of them also have ads. However, who'd have thought The Daily Breeze and The Scotsman would break stories of national importance? Might The Standard Times similarly come through with unique information worthy of the vaunted Fourth Estate? Time will tell...

Monday, March 24, 2008

Presidential Competition Turns Sour

Insults hurled against Democratic candidates and their supporters include "Judas", "Blue Dress", "Joe McCarthy", "monster", "rhymes with witch", and "Ozone man". What's the likely impact of the Blue Team taking off the gloves and throwing hay makers?

"I'm starting to worry," Democratic pollster Mark Mellman, an adviser to John Kerry in the 2004 presidential election, writes in The Hill, a Capitol Hill newspaper. "I believe Democrats are exquisitely positioned to win the White House in 2008. The only thing that could defeat us is us, and it feels like we just might."

The candidates might both land major blows, knocking the pair out simultaneously. How sad would that be? Should they administer smelling salts, would the electorate wake up?

More Bush Divide and Conquer

Just as one can spin weapons as offensive or defensive, people can spin violence as stabilizing or destabilizing. After five years of war in Iraq, a stable democracy is yet to be built in the Middle East. Our Saudi friends warned us of the destabilizing impact of invading Iraq, but U.S. President George W. and company ignored their dark foresight. The man who rode through the region inciting war against Saddam Hussein just finished his war encore tour, this time aimed at Iran.

Headlines this morning indicate V.P. Richard B. Cheney gave a good rap on the hornet's nest.

1. The New York Times had Cheney offering the Iran threat at every turn. He added "darkening shadows" to the Bush lexicon of "mushroom cloud" and "destroying people". While visiting with Cheney, Israeli President Shimon Peres put it more bluntly, ""Iran's only intentions of developing ballistic missiles with nuclear warheads are to destroy Israel and threaten the entire world." Combine that with America's unshakable support for Israel and you have bombs away on Tehran.

2. General David Petraeus told the BBC he thought Tehran had trained, equipped and funded insurgents who fired the barrage of mortars and rockets. He said Iran was adding what he described as "lethal accelerants" to a very combustible mix. "The rockets that were launched at the Green Zone yesterday, for example... were Iranian-provided, Iranian-made rockets," he said, adding that the groups that fired them were funded and trained by the Quds Force.

3. Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah will boycott the annual meeting of the Arab League in protest of Syria's tampering with political progress in Lebanon.

With everything going on in the Middle East, this would seem to be a must make meeting. A quick look at the members of the Arab League shows the Saudi's to be one of the most politically powerful members. The group's goal is to "draw closer the relations between member States and co-ordinate collaboration between them, to safeguard their independence and sovereignty, and to consider in a general way the affairs and interests of the Arab countries."

It seems the Saudi's should attend to have their voices heard vs. boycotting the event. Of course there is the Muslim tradition of warning your enemy before attacking. Does King Abdullah know something about future U.S./Israel actions against Syria and Iran? Would he feel compelled to warn President Bashar al-Assad if the King attended the meeting?

4. The Jerusalem Post reported, "Regarding a peace deal with Syria, Peres told Cheney that Israel will not agree to a deal involving the return of the Golan Heights. "If the Golan is given back, it will boost Iran's influence in Lebanon and the territory will effectively be under Iranian-Syrian control," said Peres.

The return of the Golan was part of an Arab League Peace Initiative for the Israeli/Palestinian conflict offered in 2002 and renewed last year's meeting in Riyadh. Ironically, the King might not attend this year because he threw Syria under the bus. This leaves Dick Cheney's other words in serious quicksand.

5. Cheney said that “history has clearly shown” that Israelis were prepared to make sacrifices for peace when they encountered Arab partners like Anwar el-Sadat of Egypt and King Hussein of Jordan, “who accepted Israel’s permanence, and are willing and capable of delivering on their commitments.”

Bull hockey! The Arab peace plan met such criteria and for six years Israel dragged its feet. Dick Cheney and his Israeli counterparts don't want peace, they want their way. That should be obvious by now...

Sunday, March 23, 2008

White House Easter Sponsors

This year's Easter events are sponsored by the American Egg Board. In the picture above, First Lady Laura Bush poses next to the 2008 State Easter Egg display. (The eggs pictured are unfertilized.) The event started in 1994, while Easter itself occurred some 2,000 years ago. God and Jesus inspired Easter events for much of the last two millenniums. Corporations, what is worshipped in free markets, took an official role the last decade or so. So raise a toast to the American Egg Board, the Halloween colored Bush pets (hopefully not dogs of war), and God/Jesus. Happy Easter to all!

Render Under to Cheney What is Cheney's

Vice President Dick Cheney took in an Easter Service during his second War Tour of the Middle East. His first round occurred in 2002 and targeted Iraq's brutal dictator Saddam Hussein. The current tour focuses on Iran and its fiery little Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Dick sang "Amazing Grace" during Easter Service in a tiny Jerusalem chapel. King of War Cheney talked about dealing with threats to Israel during his visit and how the U.S. holds an "enduring and unshakable commitment to Israel's right to defend itself" from just about anything.

Israel's get out of jail free card simply says one word, "security". That's why rabbis recently issued religious orders for Jews not to rent apartments or employ Arabs. Recall there are Christian Arabs. How will the Israeli's know an Arab? Is some sort of sign or insignia in order? Or course the yellow star would be out of consideration...

Saturday, March 22, 2008

UnChrist Like Cheney to Celebrate Easter in Jerusalem

Surprise! Haaretz reported that Vice President Dick Cheney's next stop is Israel. On his second major Middle East war tour, Cheney will carry a message from the Saudi's that more needs to be done to resolve the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and achieve peace. After stamping his Christian credentials at an Easter Sunday church service in Jerusalem, Dick Cheney will venture into the West Bank to meet with Palestinian leaders. There he will discuss Israel's right to defend itself (which apparently includes nuclear weapons) and the ways forward in the peace process. Let's hope it's different than America's peace efforts in nearby Iraq.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Will Cheney Visit Israel Over Easter?

The Vice President of an American administration in need of resurrection tours the Middle East with his Israeli stop yet to come. President Bush counts on the support of large numbers of conservative Christians. Will Dick Cheney visit Jerusalem during Christianity's most holy day? If so, it could be symbolic. The Bush/Cheney team has approximately ten months to rise from record low approval ratings. Will recorders of history write, "and on the third month, they rose again"?

Israeli Planes Grounded as Middle East Pressure Cooker Builds

Haaretz reported on Israel grounding all its F-16I fighter jets as one plane had undue odors of formaldehyde. Comments #8 and #18 indicated pilots breathe through oxygen masks for most of the flight. The brief time unmasked occurs with the hatch cover open, allowing outside air to reduce the level of contaminants.

If the formaldehyde reason is a ruse, then why would Israel ground all its F-16I fighter jets? Are they doing preventive maintenance in anticipation of long hours of use? Are they reconfiguring their payload for an upcoming mission? Stay tuned, Dick Cheney's taking his second war tour around the region. We know how the first one played out...

Thursday, March 20, 2008

McCain Not Erring but Part of Domestic Setup

Much has been made over Presidential hopeful John McCain's repeated errors tying al Qaeda in Iraq to Iran. While it may be wild fiction that Sunni fundamentalists in al Qaeda would collaborate with blasphemous Shia conservatives, it isn't an accident. Anyone with a memory should recall V.P. Dick Cheney leading the charge tying al Qaeda to secularist Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein prior to America's liberation of Iraq. Deja vu?

The Middle East just weathered a full court American conservative rock star tour. Within days, Condi Rice, John McCain, and Dick Cheney toured the region. Their most prominent stop involved a pilgrimage to Israel. The Vice President's tour continues and his Israeli stop is yet to come. What else occurred around these critical visits? Haaretz reported:

The Israel Defense Forces and the United States European Command (EUCOM) completed a military headquarters training exercise in Tel Aviv on Wednesday night. The four day exercise was part of Juniper Falcon, an ongoing series of training exercises conducted by the U.S. Air Force in Europe and Israel.

Execises started Sunday, March 16th, the same day Vice President Cheney embarked on his Middle East tour with Iran high on his agenda. To date Dick visited Iraq, Afghanistan and heads next to Saudi Arabia. But back to those joint military exercises. Haaretz reported:

At the completion of the exercise, both the Israeli and the U.S. sides announced that extreme scenarios were tested that challenged the participating armies to assist each other. The scenarios were set in the present and based on events of the past several years or events that are expected to occur in the near future. The creators of the exercise did not use the names of actual Arab states or existing terror organizations.

Vice President Cheney will ride into the Jewish state with results of the military exercises fresh and hot. My guess is Dick wants to put a hurting on Iran in the worst way. He spread fiction regarding Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda, so Cheney needs a different mouthpiece to launch the Iranian/al Qaeda connection. McCain is just the man. How much extra will the Rothschild's donate at today's luncheon for John's good soldiering? Onward Christian soldiers, leading us to war...

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Bush Continues Stacking Intelligence Advisory Board

The White House reported President Bush intends to appoint Peter Pace of Virginia to his Intelligence Advisory Board. The ex-Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff joins Fran Townsend of New York on that august body. Inside the State Department sits Paul Wolfowitz, in charge of intelligence regarding weapons of mass destruction. Didn't he help botch the erroneous Iraq WMD intelligence? If not, he blew post invasion occupation planning.

George is stacking his advisory groups with loyalists, many who've proven their blindness in the past. Everybody shut your eyes, some thing's coming courtesy of incurious George. "Don't blind me with the facts, we create our own reality." Yes, they do...

Wahoo Wah Kenneth Wainstein, New Homeland Security Adviser

It turns out President Bush's new Homeland Security Adviser, Kenneth Wainstein, and I share the same alma mater, the University of Virginia. Maybe Ken can answer questions his predecessor, Frances Townsend wouldn't touch.

I graduated in 1980 with a B.S. in Commerce, while Ken got his degree in 1984. After that I got a Masters in Hospital Administration while Wainstein went to law school. Those degrees put us on course to interact today.

As a health care leader, I endured in a dead river flooded 725 bed hospital in Roanoke, Virginia. Years later, I helped evacuate a 165 bed facility on the Texas Gulf Coast. Hurricane Gilbert was predicted to make landfall at our heliport. Fortunately it turned away from Texas but I found out how difficult evacuating a hospital can be, even with plenty of lead time.

Summer of 2005 I found myself appalled as hospital patients and staff lingered in dead New Orleans' facilities post Hurricane Katrina. While I peppered the White House with e-mails, Kenneth's predecessor flew on a plane to Saudi Arabia. The Homeland Security adviser had little to do with managing the federal response to Hurricane Katrina, but Fran had a lot to do with the follow up "investigative report". President Bush promised a robust look into the federal performance, bit Townsend's tome left off the ro. It was simply a bust.

My questions arose after reading her Lessons Learned report. How could she leave out the hospital with the highest number of patient deaths post landfall? Why did patients linger so long in a steamy, toxic soup? It takes little time for a powerless hospital to become a death trap. Then little pieces began falling into place. LifeCare Hospital with its 24 patient deaths had been acquired by The Carlyle Group just weeks before landfall. Would they benefit from the omission as they entered court for numerous wrongful death lawsuits?

I have many more questions but I don't want to overwhelm my fellow Wahoo right off. I just hope he doesn't wipe out any of Fran's e-mails between August 2005 and April 2006.

Kenneth is likely a busy man, with lots of new duties. He's been charged with improving our emergency preparedness and may have some leftover clean up work to do on Katrina. As LifeCare blames the feds for those wrongful deaths, Mr. Wainstein could be preparing to testify on the government's behalf. The Carlyle's attorneys assert LifeCare patients became wards of the federal government as soon as FEMA evacuation teams set up in the New Orleans area.

How's that for gratitude? Fran left them out of the federal report and then got blamed later. That's a pretty slick risk management move, which happens to be Fran's expertise. Don't tell me she cooked that up in conjunction with the Carlyle big dogs? So many questions and so little time. I hope Kenneth is more responsive than Fran. Time will tell. Wahoo Wah to our latest famous alumus! He sits alongside Wahoo's Katie Couric, Tom Scully, and Fred Fielding. All have bent the President's ear at one point or another.

McCain Bear Hugs Israel to World's Detriment

First John McCain visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial. Having visited the notorious concentration camp Dachau, I know how disturbing and deeply moving such an experience can be. Senator McCain etched "never again" on the guestbook. I hope that "never again" means the cessation of genocide against any of our world's various ethnic or tribal groups, not just the Jewish people.

That would include the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, who've paid dearly for their choice of Hamas leaders in the 2006 elections. Recent reports from the United Nations cited humanitarian conditions in Gaza as the worst in forty years. The people in Gaza reside behind huge walls with armed guards. Their freedom of movement is limited and their economy in shambles.

Today's lead stories in the Jerusalem Post include Senator McCain's visit, but also an admonition from a leading rabbi. The rabbi issued a religious ruling forbidding the renting of apartments to Arabs or employing them anywhere in Israel - regardless of whether they are Israeli citizens. That conjures up images of Germany's yellow stars, the very thing Mr. McCain never wants to see again. Also, recall there are Christian Arabs in Israel and the Middle East.

For John to sincerely want peace in the Middle East, he didn't balance his time. McCain met with Israeli leaders Livni, Olmert, Peres and Barak. He chatted with Palestinian leader Abbas by phone. The news reported one curious item about the visit:

Speaking to reporters, McCain declined to discuss what his Middle East policies would be as president. He said he was in Israel on a congressional fact-finding mission and it was not appropriate to discuss his campaign.

That's funny, on March 19th he's fact finding, while the next day John will fund raise in London at a Lord Rothschild sponsored event. Will it be appropriate to discuss his campaign then? Despite his denials, John hinted at his position on Israel.

"I really think that we should understand that the US and Israel are partners. Israel is not a client of the United States," he said. "If you are partners, then you don't dictate what you think the terms of the survival of a nation should be."

"I think Iran is a threat to the region," McCain said, adding that not only were the Iranians "obviously pursuing nuclear weapons."

Carte blanche, which means "never again" is right around the corner. How many more millions will suffer and die at the hands of madmen occupying seats of power? Stop the insanity, please. We don't need to repeat the cycle. During the Nazi declared boycott upon Jewish stores on April 1, 1933, yellow Stars of David were painted on windows.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Shock the Monkey!

President George W. Bush meet with relieved,yet nervous financial kingpins at the Economic Club of New York. Eliot Spitzer, crusader against illicit financial schemes and now New York Governor, provided the relief by resigning in disgrace after the FBI found his illegal use of prostitutes. Chimpy McHitler (columnist Jay Ambrose's name for George W. Bush) and his Justice Department knocked that longtime angry monkey off Wall Street's back.

Recall the 60 Minutes story regarding a campaign staffer who said Karl Rove wanted pictures of a Democratic governor cheating on his wife? Luck would have it that Governor Spitzer would use a call girl the night before his published column in the Washington Post. His piece excoriated the Bush administration for facilitating predatory lending and the current mortgage crisis. After pictures of call girl "Kristen" hit the newswires, Eliot's accusations vaporized like $8 billion in reconstruction money in Iraq.

But not to worry, Bush has it under control. The people who benefited from the booming industry of mortgage securitization, Hank Paulson, will surely lead us out of this economic storm surge. So far only a few investment vehicles drowned, one of them Carlyle Capital Corporation. But Bear Stearns got rescued by the Fed, the economic lifesaver analogous to FEMA. Time will show how other's make out in the crisis, but just to be safe, have a Hankie ready.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Top Rabbi Qualifies as CEO

A statement by a leading rabbi is a fractal into the state of leadership in our world today. It reflect our lesser tribal nature, with some qualifications. The Jerusalem Post reported:

"According to halacha, it is forbidden to employ Arabs, especially in yeshivas," Rav Kanievsky, a Lithuanian rabbi who lives Bnei Barak, told the paper. "It poses a mortal danger since we are at war with them."

Rav Kanievsky added that he was amazed at the employment of Arabs when there were Jewish employees to choose from in the unemployment market. "How will Jews work and support themselves?" he asked.

Rav Kanievsky's decision is in fact an instruction to hundreds of institutions across the nation that employ Arabs. When asked if his statements could be published, the Rabbi responded with "certainly."

The Torah authority gave one out exception for employing non-Jews, greed.

He added that "non-Jews should not be employed because Jews should be provided with a livelihood, however when there are significant differences in the expenses of employing one and not the other, it is permitted. When referring to employing Arabs - today - g-d forbid, it means placing people in mortal danger."

The Rabbi would be welcome in corporate board rooms with that kind of salary expense saving advice. What if people combine this Jewish ruling with world changing idea #10 in Time magazine, re-Judaizing Jesus? Many will not look back to Judaism in the time of Jesus, but to the Jewish religion of today for guidance. In that case Christians could be forbidden from employing Arabs. What would self-employed Christian Arabs do (yes, there are Arab Christians)? Show up for work every day and then fire themselves?

I have a better idea. How about we get some new leaders, or at least ignore the ones pursuing divide and conquer? The problem comes when they have the power of a government military or huge numbers of rabid religious followers.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

McCain to Raise London PEU Money in Lounge Suit

Someone please take a camera to John McCain's British fundraiser for his run for the American Presidency. The event will be held this coming Thursday courtesy of private equity underwriter (PEU) Lord Rothschild. It will take place at Spencer House, St. Jame's Place, London. Requested attire is "lounge suits". A brief look at the Rothschild family history produced this quote.

"Money is the god of our time", the Jewish-born German pamphleteer and poet, Heinrich Heine, wrote in 1841, "and Rothschild is his prophet."

I wonder if the Lord got the same gene? Nevertheless, I want to see a picture of John McCain in a lounge suit. McCain's second wife comes from a prominent Phoenix area Anheuser Busch family. I recall lounge lizards drinking beer. John might feel right at home at the Lord's house.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Condi Offers Cheney a Frothy Mug

Secretary of State Condi Rice tried to loosen up Vice President Dick Cheney before his trip to the Middle East. She served a few Shiner Bocks to Shooter before he goes hunting for lower oil prices in Saudi Arabia. Consider her admonitions to America's Saudi ally (reported in the Jerusalem Post):

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice criticized Saudi Arabia for not doing enough to counter extremism and defended Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas while testifying before the US Congress on Wednesday. Rice said the State Department had also made clear to the Saudis that they needed to do more on the issue of ending incitement and standing against extremism.

"While I would be the last to say that there has been anything like the kind of progress that I think we will need - [and] they will need to see, frankly, for their own good as well as the good of the world as a whole - there are discussions that are ongoing, and they do provide a mechanism by which we can monitor and then take what we know to the Saudis for discussion," she said. "This is a very high priority."

Rice also stressed that Saudi Arabia and other Arab neighbors would need to take more concrete steps to help the peace process. "We need also the Arab states to be very active in supporting this effort, and some are, but frankly the Israelis are going to need to know that the outreach of the Arabs to them is coming as a part of this broader effort," she said. Rice was echoing a point Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, in Washington this week, has made on several occasions.

Do Condi's words hold water? In the summer of 2006 Saudi Arabia pleaded for the U.S. to take a leadership role while Israel pummeled its democratic neighbor to the north, Lebanon. The Saudi's made numerous proposals to President Bush, who did nothing. Within eight months, Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia took matters into their own hands and brokered a peace deal with a Palestinian Unity Government. While this didn't last, the region took active steps toward peace without the U.S. For that Condi wanted some payback. But back to the Jerusalem Post article on Condi Rice's testimony before Congress. It stated:

Nita Lowey, chairwoman of the US House appropriations foreign operations subcommittee, which called Rice to testify Wednesday, argued that Saudi Arabia should be doing more to help Palestinians on the ground, particularly by using some of its oil revenue to build homes and expand job opportunities. "When you have the oil-producing countries getting $105 a gallon, the fact that they can't show some evidence on the ground and create jobs is mind-boggling," Lowey said. "Unless the Palestinians are supported by Saudi Arabia, and the Emirates and all the other countries in the region, it's going to be very difficult for them to take that final step."

Lowey has also expressed reservations about giving extra aid to the Palestinians in light of Abbas's recent comments, and put a hold on $150 million in aid allocated last year for that and other reasons. However, she recently indicated a shift in position.

OK, let's look at the facts. At the Paris Donor conference the Saudis stated their support for the Palestinian people.

We are continuing our efforts in this regard and have recently provided a grant of 250 million dollars to aid the budget of the Palestinian Authority and fund development projects. In addition, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is pleased to announce that it will be donating an amount of 500 million dollars. This donation will be channelled through the Saudi Development Fund in order to finance development projects in the Palestinian territories, and in coordination with the Palestinian Authority. This with the yearly 92.4 million dollars we committed for budgetary support, makes Saudi Arabia one of the largest, if not the larger, donors to the Palestinian Authority.

So Ms. Rice and Ms. Lowey, are the Saudi's $750 million in contributions more than America's $150 million? And where does that annual $3 billion in U.S. arms support for Israel fit in?

Condi's and Nita's lines are intended as smack downs before Shooter Cheney rides into the Middle East with his Bush guns ablazing. So sip up on the ladies' swill, Dicky boy. It'll help your aim.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Hiillary's Hope for "Client 10 from Chicago"

Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton must be full of hope given the news of Client 10 from Chicago. New York Governor Eliot Spitzer's career likely ended with the revelation that he was Client 9 of an exclusive, high dollar prostitution ring. Mrs. Clinton has her fingers and everything possible crossed that Client 10 is her knock down, drag out opponent, Barack Obama.

Now wouldn't that be a small world? How many elected officials in Washington are not guilty of getting a little action on the side? We've got you counted John McCain, Newt Gingrich, David Vitter, Larry Craig, and Bill Clinton? Might an outstanding leader like Barack be lurking not far behind?

It's 3:00 am & The Phone's Ringing

On a dark and stormy night, the red phone rings at the White House. After three rings it's transferred to the Western White House. The President picks it up to hear:

"There's a national crisis, one brewing your whole term in office. The consequences of your decision will literally impact life and death. George, we've known each other a long time. You know I wouldn't ask if it weren't critical, but what can you do to boost WellPoint's profits? Our stock tanked after hours yesterday. The Board's all in a row over fewer people being able to afford our product. They came to the house an hour ago with pitchforks, torches, oil and feathers. They said if I didn't call you on the red phone, they'd take matters into their own hands. I looked up my health insurance and it said it didn't cover injuries sustained in mob activities. Help me, Georgie!" screamed the voice at the other end of the phone.

"Get a hold of yourself man! Calm down Uncle Bucky. Write down this number, 555-1234. John McCain will know what to do to get your profits back on track. I'm only responsible for the good years WellPoint's had."

The frightened voice on the other end replied, "You're sure McCain can get WellPoint back in Wall Street's good graces?"

"Yes Uncle Bucky, John believes in private health care, much like I do. We're already paying you guys through the nose for Medicare HMO coverage. More retirees coming, more profits. Think about it."

"Thanks George. What do I do if the Board mob comes back?"

"Have them call Al Hubbard. He put together my signature health care strategies. The WellPoint Board mob should remember him. He used to be one of them."

"I'll call John and Al right away. You saved my life, George."

"That's what I'm here for Uncle Bucky," beamed President Bush. After hanging up, George W. failed to note the irony of over 47 million uninsured Americans after his 7 years in office. They rely on an ever decaying safety net for their life support. It's harder and harder to "just go to an emergency room" for care. Ring, ring ring. "Mr. President, it's Humana on the line."

Monday, March 10, 2008

Sharpen that Subpoena Pencil

Members of Congress cranked up the heat on the White House to come clean in a number of investigations. The Bush team's history of stonewalling might soon have a breach. The Judiciary Committee filed suit against two White House officials regarding the firings of nine U.S. attorneys. In another case, a House Committee Chair accused the Environmental Protection Agency of "withholding hundreds of communications about its refusal to let California regulate greenhouse gas emissions from cars and trucks."

But one egregious case of non-cooperation has never been addressed, the White House's refusal to hand over communications involving the administration's response to Hurricane Katrina. I've had numerous questions, ones my elected leaders refused to acknowledge, much less answer. I suspect some answers lie in those e-mails and other documents.

President Bush promised a robust investigation into his team's response in Katrina's aftermath. Unfortunately it was neither robust nor impartial. During the days hospital patients suffered in steamy toxic soup, White House Homeland Security Adviser Fran Townsend was on a plane to Saudi Arabia. Yes, that would be the same Fran tapped to lead the investigation and the same Fran whose e-mails to Andy Card remained strictly confidential and unavailable to Congressional investigators.

As the White House staff managed the early response to Katrina, it is difficult to assess their performance without some information. Here's what the Congressional investigation had to say about George W.'s hands on management (on page 8):

"The President did not leave his Texas ranch to return to Washington until two days after landfall, and only then convened his cabinet as well as a White House task force to oversee federal response efforts."

I'd like to know when the White House identified hospital patients as high priority for rescue? What steps did they take to get patients and staff out of dead facilities? We know some lingered until September 3rd.

Fran's report failed to mention the hospital with the largest number of patient deaths in her robust investigative report. LifeCare, a long term acute care facility, lost 24 patients during the storm and its aftermath. Weeks prior to landfall, The Carlyle Group closed on its purchase of LifeCare. Did the politically connected private equity firm ask the White House to leave its facility out of the report? It helps Carlyle enter those wrongful death civil lawsuits with the feds silent on the matter.

As the nation watched hospital staffs post window signs indicating their patients horror, who knew what in the White House, and when? And why was Fran's investigative tome so sorry? She noted her fear of being subpoenaed when she left office earlier this year. The American people deserve to know some answers and it might take more subpoenas and court actions, a familiar pattern with the secretive Bush administration.

More Leadership Pathology

The New York Times reported Governor Eliot Spitzer has been involved in a prostitution ring. The Democratic politician promised to clean up New York's state government. In doing so, he apparently failed to clean up his private life. The Governor is married with three children. The Times promises more after Spitzer's upcoming news conference. Will someone without major pathology please run for office? Our country needs leadership in the worst way. I'm tired of hypercompetitive, partisan jerks like Bush and Spitzer.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Bush Qualifies as Problem CEO

An article on problem Chief Executives in the New York Times applies to our current President, George W. Bush. Consider some traits cited by the business author:

“Observers are often amazed when executives with impressive track records are mysteriously transformed into corrupt and tyrannical monsters once they become C.E.O.s,” Terry Leap, a management professor at Clemson University, writes in Sloan Management Review.

Does wanting to waterboard suspects fit into the tyrannical part? How about invading a country pre-emptively?

But they (observers) should not be (amazed), he says, pointing out that these executives “had serious character flaws that were either hidden or ignored for years.”

The Democratically controlled Texas legislature, specifically House Appropriations Chair Rep. Rob Junell, made Bush "the uniter." Once he rode that mantra in Washington, Bush shed that role like a used condom.

Mr. Leap lists a dozen warning signs that boards should be looking for, and they include:
An obsession with acquiring prestige, power and wealth.” This, coupled with an inability to delay gratification, suggests that a chief executive may put his interests ahead of the company’s.

Bush regularly puts his political party's interests above the country. Other characteristics of flawed CEO's include:

A reputation for shameless self-promotion and other self-aggrandizing behaviors.”

A tendency to create “grandiose strategies” without including a detailed plan for how they will be carried out.

Let's see, the Iraqi people will greet us with flowers, followed by no detailed occupation plan. And for rebuilding New Orleans, Bush actually said, "The work that has begun in the Gulf Coast region will be one of the largest reconstruction efforts the world has ever seen. When that job is done, all Americans will have something to be very proud of."

Flawed leaders have the ability to compartmentalize and rationalize to an amazing degree. This trait, Mr. Leap writes, is shared by dysfunctional people, among them bad chief executives and criminals.

Does this qualify as dysfunctional? That same night in Jackson Square, New Orleans Bush stated, "I also want to know all the facts about the government response to Hurricane Katrina." Yet, Bush's report left out at least one key fact, the hospital with the largest number of patient deaths post landfall. LifeCare Hospitals had been purchased by The Carlyle Group just weeks before Katrina sideswiped New Orleans.

George W. also said that dark night, "The United States Congress also has an important oversight function to perform. Congress is preparing an investigation, and I will work with members of both parties to make sure this effort is thorough." Yet, his White House refused to hand over e-mails between White House Chief Andy Card and Homeland Security Adviser Fran Townsend. That clearly doesn't fall into the thorough category.

So Bush is pathological. Who really didn't know that already? We've seen him defend the list of criminals under his employ. They range from Scooter Libby to Tim Goeglein. My guess is a few more are yet to be discovered. Like draws like...

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Texas Votes Today

The two party system in America has its big day in Texas, a state normally rendered irrelevant in many primary seasons. So far today, Barack Obama called, followed shortly thereafter by John McCain. I hung up on both of them. If Hillary calls, I'll hang up on her. That goes as well for her big supporter, Rush Limbaugh.

In the last few weeks I've seen President Bill Clinton and his daughter Chelsea in person. And I didn't have to drive over three hours one way to Austin or San Antonio for that rare privilege. But I did have to leave the Angelo State University Writers' Conference to hear Bill's talk. That produced a poem, pretty much a rare event on this blog:

Who’s at the Word Wheel?

Poets freely offered their images of whimsical sublimity
Several weaved theology into their verbal tapestries
Ranging from the Godly to gargoyles, his churchly guardians
Others noted landscapes unusually flat or astoundingly inspirational,
People unusually harsh or profoundly loving
Eyes unbelted in Jeep front seats struggled to hold on as poets spun us around their minds.
I lingered on a particularly scenic metaphor, only to be severely bounced by an oddly shaped juxtaposition in the poet's path

After four wheeling around wide open verbalscapes with inspired poets
I left to hear another word magician, an ex-President
William Jefferson Clinton arrived in a smooth riding limousine, sleek, black, and secure
His vista began wide, with the call for needed change long away on the horizon.
Then Wild Bill galloped past the creek of costly health care, the eroding hill of higher education, and the dry wash of the economy.
Bill hooted and hollered, “If you want these restored, there’s only one choice. Vote for my wife and save my life. Vote for Hillary, please”

The crowd cheered as Wild Bill closed like a carnival barker
“If you love me, you’ll surely love Hillary,
I promise you’ll never be disappointed!”
Sales job done, I pondered the wisdom of holding a politician to his promises.
It didn’t seem like the smartest move.
As our potential elected leaders aren’t known for their truth or justice,
Does that make their failings the American way?

Next up, an interview with a Zoot Suiter
Luis Valdez spoke of pachucas, mythical figures with Superman like features.
But hadn’t I just seen a Superman, an ex-President action hero?
Valdez spoke of myths, Aztec, Mayan, Incan, and Yaqui
He chastised us not to confuse a ritual with myth.
I applied it to my day and decided,
Poets offer their words freely
Politicians may not charge for the seat, but clearly want you and the voting booth to meet,
A ritual that alone does not fulfill the myth of democracy.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Bush Appoints Fran to President's New Intelligence Advisory Board

President Bush appointed Fran Townsend of New York to his newly renamed intelligence advisory board. This is the same woman who omitted the hospital with the highest number of patient deaths from the White House Lessons Learned report on Hurricane Katrina. LifeCare's 24 patient deaths warranted not one mention in Fran's "investigative" analysis.

Why would the President issue a report with such a glaring deficiency? His good friends at The Carlyle Group likely appreciated the omission. The private equity underwriter closed on LifeCare just weeks before Katrina sideswiped New Orleans. What kind of intelligence is required to leave out the facility with the largest number of hospital patient deaths, especially when video footage showed George W. asking Michael Brown about those very patients? Whatever level Fran displayed, that will soon rest on Bush's advisory board. It turns out mute Fran joined a mute oversight group, at least according to the Washington Post. Besides renaming the group, President Bush denuded it as well. The U.S. is back to the lowest common denominator and I smell a PEU, possibly Fran's next employer.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Is Comment to Nancy Nall from the real Tim Goeglein?

While scrolling through the post highlighting plagiarism by a White House aide, I found a comment supposedly from the perpetrator himself. It is below:

Tim Goeglein Says: March 1st, 2008 at 4:42 am

You will pay Woman. One way or another. If it’s the last thing I ever do. You will pay and pay dearly. You cost me my job and now I have to find another one to feed my family.

You’re an jerk of the highest order.

What comes around, goes around, remember that.

If this came from the real Tim, this does not speak well of tactics used by Bush operatives. But then, we already knew that. With his faith, one might expect Mr. Goeglein to be grateful for the experience of working at the White House, pony up for his failings, and resolve to do better next time. But then again, Timmy worked for Karl Rove. There's no such thing as turning the other cheek...

Bush Aide Chose to Cheat

A blogger discovered an aide in Karl Rove's Bush White House lifted material for half of his 38 newspaper columns in the Fort Wayne newspaper. The aide, Tim Goeglein, worked for President Bush, as a liaison to social and religious conservatives. The New York Times reported:

Mr. Goeglein, 44, is little known outside Washington. He is a familiar figure to conservatives and evangelical Christians, who knew him as a spokesman for Gary L. Bauer, the conservative who ran for president in 2000.

When Mr. Bauer dropped out of the race, Mr. Goeglein signed on with Mr. Bush, eventually becoming a top aide to
Karl Rove, the chief political strategist. He was the eyes and ears of the White House in the world of religious conservatives and an emissary to that world for Mr. Rove and the president.

Mr. Goeglein was often credited with turning out the evangelical vote that helped re-elect Mr. Bush in 2004.

How ironic is it that a man so internally charged by morality would fail repeatedly in his efforts to write ethically? Recall that many economic reforms pushed by the U.S. deal with intellectual property rights. Consider this from the Commerce Department's website:

“This report verifies our significant and substantial efforts to stem the tide of intellectual property theft,” said Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

So what did George W. Bush say about a man who pilfered the intellectual production of others? The Times reported:

With Mr. Bush traveling to his ranch in Crawford, Tex., for the weekend, the White House issued a statement late Friday saying that the president was disappointed and saddened for Mr. Goeglein and his family. “He has long appreciated Tim’s service,” the statement said. “And he knows him to be a good person who is committed to his country.”

Here's the deal, George. America is raising a generation of cheaters. Our role models extend from CEO's who cheat on the executive stock options to baseball players juicing up their performance to White House operatives who cheat without the pressure of a writing deadline. I'm sure they're all good people, committed to their company, sport or political party. I don't believe they're committed to honesty. They share that with our current Chief Executive. The end justifies the means...