Thursday, October 30, 2008

Barack's Israel Advisor is Bush's Special Envoy

The Jerusalem Post published proof that Joe the Plumber's "death to Israel" assessment of Obama is off track. The paper cited Bush special adviser to the region, James Jones, will likely play a significant role in any Obama administration.

But Jim is a busy man with his appointment at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and his service on Boeing and Chevron's Board of Directors. Jones heads up the 21st Century Energy Task force for the Chamber.

Barack asked another man with the initials JJ to help him early in his Presidential run. Jim Johnson headed up Obama's VP selection committee, at least until his business connections and excessive consulting deal with Fannie Mae caused him to resign.

Obama will likely continue Bush's close ties with corporate interests, intent on milking the multiple tits of the Government Industrial Monstrosity, Eisenhower's MIC on steroids. Bill Clinton upset Republicans by horning in on the high dollar Republican franchise. Might Barack Obama conduct a great game of imitation? Time will tell, as will his National Security Adviser appointment...

Bush Thanks FBI for Covering for His Corporatist Friends?

President Bush congratulated the graduating class of FBI agents at the FBI academy in Quantico, Virginia. Did he thank FBI leaders for not investigating undue corporate influence and unethical profit taking on the back of federal taxpayers?

Eisenhower's Military Industrial Complex on steroids morphed into Bush's Government Industrial Monstrosity. Over the last eight years, George W. took advantage of every opportunity to do favors for his high dollar friends.

Which FBI agent decided not to investigate The Carlyle Group's influence on federal acts after affiliate LifeCare Hospitals lost 24 patients in Hurricane Katrina's aftermath? Bush's White House Lessons Learned report made no mention of the hospital facility with the largest death toll. Years later, Jeb ended up on the board of Tenet Healthcare, the for-profit hospital chain.

Is the FBI looking into why the Bush White House let Lehman Brothers fail? Two close relatives, brother Jeb and cousin George Herbet Walker, work for Lehman's private equity unit (PEU). Their share of $2.5 billion in bonuses is safe, under guard from a federal bankruptcy judge. Jeb and cousin George get to take an equity stake in the sold off venture.

Bush said in his speech:

The FBI's leadership in the war on terror has required a dramatic change of mission. Before 9/11, terrorism was viewed primarily as a criminal matter.

Immediately after 9/11, the FBI made preventing terrorism its top priority.

The FBI you join today is working more closely with partners at all levels of government.

Bad news for those of us wanting the FBI to keep our government clean.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

McCain's New Secretary of State: Joe the Plumber?

John McCain's narrative tour includes "reformer" Sarah Palin and "common man" Joe the Plumber. Politicians are known for non-answers to serious questions, but most speak intelligently in their dodges. Not so with Sarah and Joe.

Fox News reporter Shep Smith came away shaking his head from a five minute phone interview with Joe Wurzelbacher. The topic was Joe's assertion that a vote for Obama means "Death to Israel." He called the ignorance and innuendo offered by Joe "frightening."

How much do people pay for five minutes of ad time on Fox News? That amount was effectively flushed down the toilet. Ignorance may exist, but using it as "news" to deride a candidate is dangerous in a functioning democracy. That is, if America still qualifies...

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Pardon for Ted the Political Turkey?

A jury of his peers convicted Alaska Senator Ted Stevens of seven felony counts. Ted accepted corporate largess in an all too common act of federal corporafornication. Will President and Chief Pimp George W. Bush pardon Ted for his numerous sins? A pardon will be granted soon at the CorporaWhorehouse on the Washington Mall. Turkey or Ted, or will Bush pull a twofer?

Monday, October 27, 2008

Yes, Virginia there is a Santa Claus

And he grants election wishes for hypercompetitive political parties! Now who benefits from Democrats and Independents showing up to vote on the wrong day? Either John McCain or Bob Barr. However, this could be a false flag operation. Regardless, none of it fits with democracy or leadership. Find the unAmerican perpetrators...

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Shannon Trust Balloons as Health System Unwinds

Shannon is a series of contrasts. The Shannon Health System continues to unravel with the closure of Legacy Health Plan and the departure of Triumph Hospital, a long term acute care facility on Shannon Medical Center's sixth floor.

Yet, the Shannon Estate experienced significant asset growth with high oil prices. Their 990's, filed with the IRS, show net assets/fund balances grew by $50 million from 2005 to 2007. That's over 33% growth.

Add the hospital's bottom line, a total $17 million from 2004-2006, and one might things are hunky dory. Not so. The Trust was so concerned in 2006, they approved the sale of Shannon Medical Center to Triad Hospitals Inc. That deal fell apart, enabling San Angelo to keep our only remaining nonprofit, community hospital.

Dr. Dan Stultz departed shortly before as head of the Shannon Health System. He was not replaced. Then came the dismantling of the Angelo Clinic Association, the multi-specialty physician group doing business as the Shannon Clinic. Not every physician stayed, but a mass exodus of doctors did not occur.

Shannon's rural health clinics are few and far between relative to their heyday. Their 2006 report showed only three clinics. Their website indicates only two remain, one in Ozona and one in Del Rio.

Many of the signature elements of the system have closed or will do so shortly. But they did add a joint venture for dialysis care and a real estate division. Shannon has as part of its history:

Today, the boundaries of the Shannons' early vision for a community hospital have grown to meet the challenges of providing healthcare into the next century. Just as the Shannon ranches grew to encompass more sections of West Texas, so has the need to bring healthcare to more people. This growth and the development of new ways to provide care have led the Shannon Board of Trustees to establish the Shannon Health System. This decision is truly a pioneer effort for Texas, a confident step forward with new ways of thinking and doing business as we embrace the future of healthcare in West Texas.

In light of recent developments, might it need rewriting? Is the future of healthcare, the past. with many going without needed care?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Bush's Common Principle

To save global financial markets President Bush offered a set of common principles, free markets, free enterprise, and free trade. They are also known as Corporafornication.

The American versions means lower worker pay and fewer employee benefits. Government races to the lowest global common denominator on taxes, but soars to the top on executive incentive compensation.

To keep the big dog gray train going, billions must be given to elected officials. This election cycle will cost over $5 billion. This practice is red (Republican), blue (Democratic), and white (the color of most of the big money boys).

Friday, October 24, 2008

Horton Haunts McCain

Said Bush as he greeted McCain, “I believe your Willie Horton story. How dare that dangerous black man fondle a Texas Aggie! I'm sure she yelled like hell.”

Republicans make up reality to the very end… Fortunately Bush didn't have to issue a pardon.

Disaster Capitalism Means Corporate Tax Cuts

A blue chip panel will discuss the impact of Washington's actions on credit availability. Can you guess which one served under the Clinton administration? Hint, his last name rhymes with our current V.P.'s first name, Dick. MarketWatch reported on the upcoming session:

The panel session is titled, "Wall Street and Washington Clash: The Regulatory World for Private Equity, Hedge Funds and Antitrust Cases." It will be held on November 12.

The panel will discuss how the market and regulators are affecting credit availability and explore opportunities for alternative financing. Panelists include:

William McConnell, Washington Bureau Chief, The Deal, will serve as the panel moderator.

Adam Blumenthal, Managing Partner, Blue Wolf Capital Management
David Marchick, Managing Director, Global Government and Regulatory Affairs, The Carlyle Group
Mel Schwarz, Partner & Director of Tax Legislative Affairs, Grant Thornton LLP
Robert Pitofsky, Professor of Antitrust & Trade, Georgetown University and former Federal Trade Commissioner.

"The potential for an altered regulatory and tax environment will have an enormous impact on the alternative investment community, making this one of the most controversial topics of 2009," said Mr. Schwarz.

Ex-Clinton staffer David Marchick is now the chief lobbyist for private equity underwriter (PEU) Carlyle. David testified before Congress on allowing foreign investment by sovereign wealth funds. The Carlyle Group sold a chunk of the firm to a United Arab Emirates SWF.

Both private equity and foreign funds fat from oil money have been proposed as saviours of financial institutions. But they're waiting for fire sale prices and might even propose preferred tax conditions for their entry.

The horizon isn't all negative. A Democratic led Congress failed to challenge PEU managers' preferred taxation on carried interest.

John McCain proposes a cut in corporate income tax and capital gains tax rates. His proposal is remarkably familiar to the one proposed by The Carlyle Group's Charles Rossotti to a Senate committee two years ago. Mr. Rossotti worked for the Clinton administration as head of the IRS.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Justice Involves More than Dropping Charges

Denver Police decided to drop charges against an ABC News producer. He was arrested for trespassing on a public sidewalk, in an effort to tape Democratic attendees at an Energy Reception. The event occurred during the Democratic National Convention.

Justice would have the reception's sponsors releasing the names of attendees. That's the information lost to the wider democratic public. Did any CorporaDemocrats attend? Maybe Senators Max Baucus, Mary Landrieu, Harry Reid, Kent Conrad, or Evan Bayh dropped by for food, drink, and fellowship. How many Blue Dogs swung by from the House? Did they let the energy boys know their new name, Azure Chupacabras?

Charges dropped, check. List of attendees, still waiting...

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

World Leaders Need Transformation of Management

From an imploded Wall Street to tens of thousands of milk sickened Chinese children, world leaders need transformation. The United Nations revealed its ignorance with a laundry list of changes for China's autocratic bureaucrats. Their heavy handed, greed inspired system utilizes the death penalty for egregious offenders.

"Whenever there is fear, you will get wrong figures."

The United Nations wants China to ratchet up inspections. While it may be necessary to prevent harm in the short term, inspection does not remove the root causes of poor quality. Also, it leaves much to be desired as a method for ensuring good food product hits the shelves.

“You can not inspect quality into the product; it is already there.”

Chinese businesses repeatedly showed their problem of not knowing their suppliers. Multiple levels of profit, actually greed, encouraged suppliers to substitute dangerous ingredients for those specified.

"The result of long-term relationships is better and better quality, and lower and lower costs.”

“Let us ask our suppliers to come and help us to solve our problems.”

"What we need to do is learn to work in the system, by which I mean that everybody, every team, every platform, every division, every component is there not for individual competitive profit or recognition, but for contribution to the system as a whole on a win-win basis.”

Both America's financial sector and Chinese managers need to learn from the world's foremost quality guru, Dr. W. Edwards Deming. Come to think of it, our elected officials need to go back to school. They can learn from his last book, The New Economics for Industry, Government, Education.

“There is a penalty for ignorance. We are paying through the nose.”

"Quality starts in the boardroom.”

Yes, it does. It begins in the White House, the Capital, corporate board rooms, and executive suites. There is much learning to do.

Bush Boys' Lehman Bonuses

President George Bush's cousin, George Herbert Walker, and brother Jeb stand to take home $250,000 in Lehman Brothers bonuses, despite the firm's bankruptcy. Forbes reported:

Barclays controversially guaranteed a $2.5 billion bonus pool for New York-based Lehman employees, an amount greater than the $1.7 billion it is paying for the company. Angry Lehman workers in London wanted to know why they weren't similarly guaranteed.

The $2.5 billion bonus fund, which was kept separate from Lehman's bankruptcy filing, works out to $250,000 for each New York-based Lehman employee, which is better than the $180,000 average Wall Street bonus in 2007, when Lehman was still a solvent company.

Hank Paulson's letting Lehman fall kept the Bush name off the Wall Street bailout front pages. It likely preserved their right to garner those big bonuses. While uncovered bond holders lose their shirt, the Bush family profits.

Longtime D.C. Santa Replaced

There's a new present giver in Rich Man's Corner. A longtime D.C. area Santa was summarily canned, replaced by someone with a much bigger pocketbook. The Big Money Boys need billions to fund their toys, and Fed Chief Ben Bernake keeps doling out the goodies.

Frances Townsend: God Help Bush

Frances Townsend advised the next U.S. President to tell the public quickly and clearly how they plan to protect the country from a terrorist attack. She said, "God help them if something happens before they've done that,"

Something happened on George Bush's shift. First, several men gassed an Ohio mosque full of Muslim worshippers. Days before the Dayton newspaper distributed an anti-Islamic DVD. Second, a bomb went off in a St. Louis area parking garage. Third, up to thirty threatening letters containing white powder have been sent to banks across America. (The total is now over 50 letters, many with death threats.)

With all those somethings, is Fran asking for God to help George W. Bush? On communicating with the public, she noted there was "no playbook" for a new administration to use. Why not Fran? Wasn't that your job?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Character Counts Week Gets Off to Bad Start

President Bush declared this week as National Character Counts Week.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim October 19 through October 25, 2008, as National Character Counts Week. I call upon public officials, educators, librarians, parents, students, and all Americans to observe this week with appropriate ceremonies, activities, and programs.

North Carolina Congressman Robin Hayes started it off by declaring "there’s a real America, and liberals hate real Americans that work, and accomplish, and achieve, and believe in God."

One could suggest "hate speech builds character," but Robin didn't stick to his guns. He denied saying those words. Rep. Hayes is unaware of modern technology that enables the electronic recording of speech. Audio clearly shows Robin, or the ancient spirit he channeled, saying those very words.

This public official incited hate, then lied about it. How does that kind of character count in real America?

Monday, October 20, 2008

Unimportant Elderly Can be Cuffed!

Police arrested an 89 year old Ohio woman for keeping a football that landed in her yard. The youth, who saved money from his job to buy the ball, couldn't keep his new prize away from the known neighborhood forbidden zone. It wasn't the first time she'd confiscated a stray toy.

But, it was the first time the youth's mother called the police. What's the charge officer? Community parenting? Video shows the elderly woman's willingness to return the ball in the future, just not upon order of the police. Imagine if the policeman had the creativity to arrest the football for trespassing and leave the woman alone. Didn't happen.

Just as a corporation can't be charged with fraud or grand larceny, a football cannot be booked for trespassing. CEO's and young quarterbacks skate away free, while stockholders and disciplining neighbors suffer the consequences. It was your property, but it comes with few rights...

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Al Hubbard Owes America that Guarantee

As Congress struggled to pass the $700 billion bailout bill, President Bush reached out to his past economic adviser Al Hubbard for assistance. Leaders of the Bush economic team, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, told Congress that failure to pass the bailout for the financial industry could mean recession. But Al came to the rescue.

"This economy is based on credit and based on confidence and right now the confidence isn't there and that's why Secretary Paulson and Ben Bernanke have decided we have to take this major step," said Hubbard.

Hubbard added he can almost guarantee a happy ending if the bailout passes.

One month later, the current White House economic adviser said parts of America are already in recession. Credit markets aren't projected to loosen for some time.

Although it will take a few months for a significant impact from the Treasury's $700 billion credit market rescue plan, the first signs of response are already apparent, Ed Lazear said.

It's time for Al to make good on his guarantee. I envision something like the penalty for failure to drive a golf ball past the ladies tee.

Sarah & Joe's Sinking Narratives

Republicans hoped for more buoyancy from "reformer" Sarah Palin and "common man" Joe the Plumber. Both narratives have huge holes, somehow missed by the McCain campaign. Sarah is sinking fast, despite a Saturday Night Live good sport patching. Joe the Plumber floats like a basin wrench.

The McCain camp shows Bush-like tendencies, dealing with the reality they want, not the one most people experience. Which Republican 527 bid $800,000 for the web address, to push the narrative? The good news is this election, most people will vote. The question remains, will they count?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Red, Whiteout & Blue

What role did political connections have in the Bush White House's glaring omission from their White House Lessons Learned report on Hurricane Katrina? Frances Townsend left out the hospital with the highest patient death toll post landfall. She also left out the building with a combined 34 deaths.

Did political connections contribute to Fran's whitewashing? The private equity owner of the hospital with 24 deaths is but blocks down Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House. The Carlyle Group purchased LifeCare Hospitals weeks before Katrina sideswiped New Orleans.

But how did Tenet Healthcare get a free pass? They rented space to the private equity underwriter (PEU). Somehow, neither Tenet nor LifeCare could find the phone HCA used to get 20 medical evacuation helicopters to move patients from dead hospitals.

It turns out Tenet has a political heavyweight on their Board of Directors. Senator Bob Kerrey served as a 9-11 Commissioner. The Democrat has deep political connections. Whether he used those to minimize any mention of Memorial or Tenet, I have no clue. However, Bob has roughly 150,000 shares of Tenet stock. While the total was closer to 100,000 when Katrina struck, Kerrey's equity interest in the hospital company is significant.

The graphic above shows Jeb Bush as the Republican counterweight to Kerrey. Bob joined the Board in 2001, long before Katrina struck. Jeb's appointment came in 2007, the year after Fran's report hit the tubes. My imagination has a grateful Tenet naming George W.'s brother to a corporate governance role.

Sorry investigations and cushy corporate directorships, related or not? It's hard to tell without a real investigation. Neither Bush nor Congress had the stomach for it, when the American public was outraged. Constrained and twisted studies have become the norm, much to the detriment of real America, the one envisioned by our founding fathers.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Did Bush Take the Funnel?

George Bush spoke at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce meeting this morning. He encouraged the business boys to keep their chins up. Yet, minutes after he finished the Dow dropped 250 points.

But how did the President get to the U.S. Chamber, whose offices are across from the White House, also known as the CorporaWhorehouse. One West Texas town had a House of Ill Repute next to a bank, with a tunnel in between. The husband would enter the bank to do business and sneak underground to Miss Hattie's. After sampling the feminine goods, he'd return through the reputable bank to his loyal wife.

George W. Bush just put $3 trillion to work to save America's financial sector, deathly ill from binging on dangerous substances. The plan didn't start that big, but Corporafornication is addicting. Time after time, the big money boys screwed their customers. Now, the taxpayer pays for both sides of the bad business equation.

So how did President Bush pass Lafayette Square, Pennsylvania Avenue and H Street? Did he take the Funnel? Who came back with Bush to the CorporaWhorehouse? Private equity has major money on the sidelines. They're ready to benefit from the taxpayer's toxic debris clearing. One private equity underwriter spoke from the SuperReturn conference in Dubai, "The best returns in private equity have come in a period like the one that we're just entering. This is an absolutely wonderful time."

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Obama Bucks Sleight of Hand

Magicians use something eye grabbing to draw the crowds attention away from their true aim. Republican Obama Bucks hit the airwaves the same day Ben Bernanke sent $54 billion of U.S. taxpayer money to a Swiss bank. Phil Gramm, a McCain financial adviser, is Vice Chairman of UBS.

That's the same UBS involved in tax evasion for 19,000 Americans and diamond smuggling for one ultra-rich client. But beware the watermelon eating, fried chicken licking Presidential aspirant.

Two More Bush's Could Soon Work for The Carlyle Group

President George H.W. and his son George W. worked for The Carlyle Group at one point in their storied careers. Forty one raised investment funds in the Middle East, an area where he was highly respected. Forty three served on the board of failed affiliate, CaterAir.

Brother Jeb and cousin George Herbert Walker IV could soon join their Presidential kin as employees of Carlyle. George H. Walker is global head of investment management, while Jeb consulted with the private equity division of Lehman Brothers. Lehman sold Florida investments that later defaulted. Jeb's role is in question, according to Forbes.

Hopefully, the pair will land on their feet, maybe even at Carlyle's doorstep. The Carlyle Group loves employing door opening politico's. They've challenged the sale of Neuberger Berman and other asset management portions of Lehman to Bain Capital/Hellman & Friedman. The bankruptcy court will hear the challenge.

Mr. Walker could use the work. He has a sizeable new mortgage, unless he paid cash:

Lehman's global head of investment management, George Herbert Walker IV, one of the president's cousins, paid $13.95 million for a townhouse at 6 East 10th Street in Greenwich Village.

Carlyle could soon hold a hand flush with four Bush's. A PEU could double down with those cards...

The Great Hussein Pumpkin

BBC reported on Republican campaign techniques sickening the American voter:

Across America, ghosts, ghouls and snaggle-toothed jack o'lanterns peer out from a million suburban stoops; it is just two weeks until Halloween. But this fall. a genuinely frightening spectre is said to be lurking in the bushes, ready to pounce on the good people of Middle America.

He is tall and slim but his past is dark. He 'pals' with a terrorist intent on blowing up American values. He was raised in a strange land amongst Muslims. His religious mentor in more recent times is a preacher of hate.

His name alone is enough to strike fear into many a God-fearing soul. Whisper it quietly: Barack Hussein Obama is coming to get you.

Over the top? You bet, but then that is the tone adopted by some of the die-hards in the Republican campaign for the White House.

Early this month they looked at the polls showing a significant and growing Obama lead. They saw the economy in a tailspin and they felt the anger of a nation disgusted by Wall Street greed. And they reached a conclusion: it was time to go negative.
Wuuuuuugghhhhh! Aaaaaaallllggghhh! Does anyone have a Pepto Bismol?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Conaway Supports Taxpayer Funded Wall Street Bailout & Citizens Paying More for Health Care

Rep. Mike Conaway starred in West Texas newspaper and television pieces. Today's San Angelo Standard Times reported on Conaway's hosting of President Bush at a "Republican Trust" fundraiser. It stated:

Tom Green County Republican Party Chairman Russ Duerstine was among a small group of Concho Valley residents who attended a Bush fundraiser at Conaway's home Oct. 4 in Midland.

Duerstine's opposition to the $700 billion bailout plan melted after listening to explanations from both Conaway and President Bush.

"I felt like it was a necessary, painful step we needed to take," Duerstine said.

Funneling taxpayer dollars into free markets goes against Republican instincts, he said. But Bush explained at Conaway's home that the government is the only entity that can buy the toxic loans and sit on them long enough so that they could mature properly, Duerstine said.

The economic rescue plan gives U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson authority to buy soured assets backed by mortgages. The aim is to get credit markets moving again for a healthy economy. Congress approved the rescue plan and Bush signed it into law Oct. 3.

Duerstine was opposed to the bailout until he heard explanations, and Bush's was a highlight of the fundraiser.

I have several reactions. First, when did Republican prinicples get reduced to instincts? Two, the bailout allows the Treasury to buy "mortgage related assets" which include credit derivatives known as credit default swaps, commercial mortgage debt obligations, student loans, and credit card debt.

Three, why didn't the people, i.e. taxpayers footing the bill, get that same compelling explanation Russ received? Mike Conaway, CPA shared few specifics on the financial meltdown.

What happened while our financially literate Congressman stayed silent? The big money men's wish list continued to grow, and Treasury kept delivering. After Bush raised over $500,000 at Mike's house, the federal government promised to fund short term commercial paper, as much as $1.3 trillion. That brought the total to $3 trillion from all the announced interventions. Yet, the jury is out on credit easing.

Mike's other media appearance came on Midland-Odessa's local CBS 7 affiliate. Their piece stated:

Congressman Mike Conaway told hospital groups in Odessa and Midland today that government reimbursement for health care is going down, and they are needed to help control costs.

Conaway said one of the biggest problems will continue to be finding insurance coverage for the 47 million Americans who do not have it. And he said, neither presidential candidate has a clue how to fix that.

Pardon me Mike, but isn't that your job? Isn't that why you were elected, to analyze and fix problems? But he said more at his hospital talk, according to the Midland Reporter-Telegram:

People should set aside funds they will need later for health care, as they would for auto maintenance.

"Our system today works because we continue to Band-Aid it. ... That can only go for so long. Personally, I think we're reaching the end of the ability to continue to Band-Aid fixes," he said.

If that's the assessment, then fundamental change is needed. Yet again, Mike Conaway is AWOL. The McCain/Palin/Conaway plan is to shift the burden of health insurance to the individual. John McCain's plan is projected to increase the number of uninsured by 20 million people. Mike won't explain that, and neither will area media outlets. Why is government the only entity to save a critically ill financial system, but not citizen's health?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

As Usual, Mike Conaway Fails to Address Health Care

A West Texas Congressman had sobering words for health care workers. Rep. Mike Conaway told hospital groups in Odessa and Midland today that government reimbursement for health care is going down, and they are needed to help control costs.

The federal government's largess in the financial sector means no money left for the long suffering nonprofit hospitals, at least those fulfilling their mission of caring for all. Mike sat on the health care sidelines for his nearly four years in office. But a pot can call a kettle black:

Conaway said one of the biggest problems will continue to be finding insurance coverage for the 47 million Americans who do not have it. And he said, neither presidential candidate has a clue how to fix that.

Clueless Mike's party wants to exacerbate the problem. Studies estimate an increase of 20 million uninsureds under the McCain plan. The same big money men repouring our financial foundation want to jettison health insurance as an employee benefit. Thus people need to pony up.

Congressman Conaway also spoke at the Ector County Republican Women's Luncheon.

Organizers of the event said it was a treat to hear Conaway speak at such an important and historical time for the Republican Party.

I wonder, how many of those women have husbands/children getting health insurance through their employment? Will they look back to Mike's historic visit when their loved one loses coverage? When their nonprofit community hospital goes up for sale on the cheap to a for-profit chain, will they notice? Disaster capitalists have a voracious appetite. Financials, insurance, health care....they could all be consumed.

More Questions on Legacy Cratering

Why would Shannon's health insurance arm close shop? Data filed with the Texas Department of Insurance showed Legacy's two divisions have $14 million in revenue and nearly $6 million in surplus as of December 2007. Legacy indicated they cover 15,000 people in the region, virtually the same amount as Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Texas.

With Legacy's market share and financial position, why shutter the plans? That size revenue stream and surplus should have some value. Instead of a sale, Shannon pursued a transfer agreement with BC/BS. Here are my questions:

1) What changed in Legacy's financial position to make closure the best option? Did they lose their re-insurance coverage? Legacy reduces their risk of a bad case, an expensive medical condition, by paying another insurance company to cover care over a certain amount, say $50,000. The Wall Street meltdown took down A.I.G. and other insurers are at risk. Re-insurance could be unavailable or suddenly very expensive. The Shannon Trust might not want to go forward bare on the high side of covered cases.

2) How much will roll up to the Shannon Health System? Does Legacy or Shannon get a commission for transferred lives? If Blue Cross virtually doubles their market share on January 1, are they compensating Shannon/Legacy in any form? How much of the $6 million in surplus remains in light of the financial meltdown? How much does the system expect to retain after the wind down? Or is it subsidizing the wrap up of Legacy?

Insurance companies are in trouble. Our local health insurer is closing. Are they related? If not, Shannon's decision should be subject to basic business reporting questions.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Shannon Shutters Legacy Health Insurance

As the American economy deleverages, Shannon Health System decomposes. Integration was the buzz word of the mid 1990's. Shannon Medical Center grew into a system with the addition of the Shannon Clinic and Legacy Health Insurance. In a year's time, both corporate entities will have been wrapped up.

The Shannon Clinic was denuded to minimize physician competition with the hospital. Legacy, the insurance arm intended to steer patients to Shannon, will close January 1. The Standard Times had this on the planned shuttering:

Shannon said changing market conditions have made it difficult for a small insurance company to survive. The trend in the insurance industry is to consolidate operations to create economies of scale, according to the news release.

Changing market conditions could apply to Legacy's investments. Do they hold toxic assets, requiring write down due to mark-to-market accounting? If so, in what amounts? While the Shannon Trust has deep pockets and may be willing to fund a short term reprieve, they aren't the Fed or the U.S. Treasury.

HCA, the prior owner of Community Hospital, has $1.6 billion of level 2 or 3 investments in their professional liability insurance subsidiary. Of the total, $652 million are in untradeable auction rate securities, based on student loans. HCA has deeper pocket, private equity parents, but could still show up with their hand out at Hank Paulson's TARP cash window.

Let's say Legacy avoided the meltdown of junk financial instruments. Less than a year ago, the Texas Department of Insurance showed Legacy's two divisions with $14 million in premiums and a $5.8 million surplus. Those funds couldn't disappear overnight, a la Lehman Brothers or Bear Stearns, could they?

Consolidation in the insurance industry usually involves a sale or merger, not outright closure. Surely someone would be willing to pay something for 15,000 covered lives, a $14 million annual revenue stream and nearly $6 million in surplus?

More information could come from the state. If not, TDI has a webpage addressing what to do "if my insurance company fails". Come January 1, Legacy will have failed. The question remains, why?

John Cornyn: Hot Wind Farmer

The sartorial scene shows Texas Senator John Cornyn walking a wind power ranch. His vast experience with hot air came courtesy of the Capital. John has done his share of blowing wind. He wants six more years. I'm not sure the editorial endorsement of The Dallas Morning News is enough to sway my vote. That black cowboy hat ain't helping either. Don't good guys wear white?

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Barack Obama: Friends with Israel?

Haaretz had a banner ad with the following teaser under a picture of Presidential hopeful Barack Obama:

Barack Obama's Friends:



Hostile to America

I clicked through to find the Republican Jewish Coalition website. The page had a series of ads deriding Barack Obama. And I thought I saw Barack Obama grovel at the AIPAC meeting. He, Hillary Clinton and John McCain competed for the "Love's Israel Most" prize. It looked like a tie...

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Cheney's Latest Angle?

Where is Vice President Dick Cheney as the country deals with a huge financial crisis? Rivals Hank Paulson and Condi Rice have the President's ear. George Bush continues to intervene on behalf of Wall Street firms, something Cheney derided last fall. The already low profile V.P. is off the radar.

Angler surfaced October 4th, a late fill in for President Bush at the White House Conference on North American Wildlife Policy. He opened his speech in support of the economic bailout package. The ex-Halliburton CEO knows how to move corporate chess pieces and come out a big winner. Might these skills be desirable in the private sector?

That same private sector is posed as the saviour for failing financial institutions. Private equity underwriters (PEU's) and foreign sovereign wealth funds (SWF's) have trillions in assets, billions in ready cash. As the financial ditch deepens and banks crater, these corporate bottom feeders will step in to save the day. PEU's and SWF's are the Supermen seeking SuperReturns.

Now, what does this have to do with Dick Cheney? A prime position remains vacant at The Carlyle Group's corporate offices at 1001 Pennsylvania Avenue. Chairman Lou Gertsner stepped down as the top man. The politically connected firm is full of ex-government insiders, red and blue. So far, there's no word on an interim Chair or the process to select Lou's replacement.

Might it be Dick? January 20th isn't that far away. He could focus on a cush landing in the private sector. Unless he'd rather end up at the top dog of a defense company.

Cheney lays low. Why? I don't know. But he's a schemer. Is it greed, his next job? Or violence, his next war? Stay tuned...

Friday, October 10, 2008

Osama on Ballot in Rensselaer County, New York

Barack Osama and Joe Biden are on absentee ballots mailed to registered voters in New York. Who was involved in this error, or purposeful smear?

It's not a simple typing error. Letters around "b" on a computer keyboard include v, f, g, h, and n. "S" is nowhere near b. Typo? Not a chance.

Who proofread the ballot? Who sent it for printing? Was that done in-house or by a contract company? How many levels failed or schemed to taint the Obama name? Is it a Republican meme?

Bush's Speech on Economy: Deer in the Headlights

President Bush didn't say alot in this morning's talk to the nation on the financial crisis. He called credit markets locked up, but failed to say fifty big money men could unlock it, virtually overnight. He didn't share that credit default swaps, the toxic soup of Bush lauded financial innovation, continue to gum up the works.

Wall Street money houses don't trust each other. The auction on Lehman debt ended badly for those hoping to be made whole. Investor "insurance" must make up 90 cents on the dollar to debt holders. Will those Lehman credit default swaps deliver? Charges for Morgan Stanley's coverage hit 25% yesterday. That's $2.5 million for a year's "peace of mind" on $10 million of Morgan Stanley debt. Hank Paulson hit the panic button on 9-18 when they soared to $900,000. Bush didn't say the problem grew by a factor of three.

The President didn't say over $3 trillion had been mobilized to save our financial sector. He omitted the ever growing list of Wall Street demands to turn things around. That now includes no limits on FDIC insured accounts and government guarantees of all interbank lending.

Bush didn't explain how things got so bad or the specific things he'd do to make things right. His speech had a Katrina like ring...

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Palin Preemptively Poohpoohs Police Probe

Not only did Alaska Governor Sarah Palin not participate with an official investigation, her campaign issued its investigative analysis on the firing of the state's top police official. The New York Times reported "campaign officials released their own report Thursday that clears her of any wrongdoing."

A self investigation this ro-bust hasn't been seen since Frances Townsend's White House Lessons Learned report after Hurricane Katrina. She omitted any mention of the hospital with the highest patient death toll after landfall.

Sarah's name is cleared, while the Carlyle Group's LifeCare Hospitals got a free pass on 24 patient deaths. Don't you love Republican happy endings?

My Fellow Americans, Lend Me Your Jeers!

"What do you say of Barack Obama?" asked the Ragin' Agin'. The crowd shouted "Off with his head", "Kill him", "Terrorist"

America's More

There will be "more wars" and "more bank failures" according to John McCain and Hank Paulson. America's more, sponsored by Wall Street greed and our Government-Industrial Monstrosity, Eisenhower's MIC on steroids.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Frances Townsend Rails Against Congress & DHS Hacks

Frances Townsend continued her speaking tour. Last week she served on a panel in Washington, while this week she spoke in Denver to a supply chain management group. Homeland Security Today reported on the panel's comments:

Taking the politics out of homeland security (HS), educating and inspiring the public and finding competent professionals to staff the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) should be the primary goals of the next president, according to veteran HS experts.

On Friday, Oct. 3, Frances Fragos Townsend, former White House counterterrorism and HS advisor, Jerome Hauer, former director of New York City's Department of Emergency Management, and PJ Crowley, director of HS for the Center for American Progress Action Fund, addressed a panel titled "Beyond Duct Tape and Color Codes" on the future of HS.

What kind of DHS hack is on vacation as a Category 4 hurricane bears down on the Gulf Coast? After returning to Washington, this same hack jumped on a plane to Saudi Arabia as hospital patients were plucked from dead hospitals, where they spent days suffering in a toxic gumbo. After delivering a letter to the Saudi Monarchy, this hack returned to write a "robust" investigative report.

Frances Townsend is that hack. Her Lessons Learned analysis omitted the hospital with the largest patient death toll post landfall. LifeCare Hospital had 24 patient deaths. A competent professional would've mentioned this fact. The Carlyle Group, LifeCare's owner, must be grateful for Fran's silence. It helps their risk management efforts. Next up on the rubber chicken circuit? A panel on the future of Al Qaeda on 10-10.

Mean McCain

John McCain called his opponent "that one" in last night's town hall meeting, i.e., not "The One." Sorry Senator, that's for voters to decide...

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Bush Speaks from Chantilly

President Bush met with a group of business people in Chantilly, Virginia and no, it wasn't The Bilderberg Group. He spoke to regional business leaders. His words and my factual inserts are below:

One pressing concern is obviously the cost of energy. The cost of energy affects families, but it affects businesses as well, like Guernsey, which rely on energy to ship and make your products. High energy costs obviously are attributable to the high price of oil and natural gas.

Gas demand down 9.5% from last year (per CNBC), gas prices up 24.5%

And that's why this administration, in working with Congress, has dramatically expanded funding for research into alternatives, including hybrid car batteries, fuels like ethanol and biodiesel, solar and wind power, and safe and nuclear power -- safe and clean nuclear power.

The rescue package I signed last week extended tax incentives to alternative energy sources. In other words, the rescue package was just not aimed at dealing with the financial issues; it was aimed at dealing with the energy issues, too, to help encourage alternative energy so we become less dependent on foreign oil. However, in the meantime, we need to be drilling. I mean, I'd rather us drill here than send our money overseas. And we can do so in environmentally friendly ways.

Hurricane Ike spilled over 500,000 gallons of oil. Katrina spilled 20 times that amount.

Congress responded to the will of the people by lifting the ban on offshore energy exploration, which is good. It's going to take a while to go through all the permitting and all the environmental regulations, but nevertheless, a step was -- a positive step was taken to become less dependent on foreign oil.

Bush appointed Cheney minion F. Chase Hutto, III to the DOE to drive permitting. George W. extended the government sponsored drilling research arm. How convenient for the feds to pick up the costs for drilling R & D.

Town Hall Meeting to Improve Tenor of Campaign? Not!

Senator John McCain looks and acts Bush like. He's out of step as the candidates enter a Town Hall style meeting event. John promised to "take the gloves off" tonight. He does so in the very setting he said would've improved the tenor of the race.

Recent McCain-Palin rallies inspired shouts of "terrorist" and "kill him" in reference to Obama. Will hate's ugly head rear itself? Will McCain finally show his famous temper? Or will he express some other deep pathology?

McCain's solution to the negative tone occurs tonight. What will he do with the medicine he prescribed? With the Dow down another 500 points, I bet he has a hissy fit. His handlers said, if the economy is the issue, John's toast. Butter up!

Chase Hutto, III has Months to Anchor Offshore Drilling

The Congressional ban on offshore drilling expired recently. With only four months left in his term, oilman President George W. Bush wants to stake a firm claim on underwater resources.

To this end, he appointed Cheney henchman, F. Chase Hutto, III to Acting Assistant Secretary of Energy (International Affairs and Domestic Policy). Hutto has a long track record of pushing big oil's agenda.

Look for rapid action on Chase's behalf. Corporafornication is not just a financial services policy in the Bush administration.

Big oil wants to continue their incredible run. George W. extended the drilling research arm of the government. You didn't know taxpayers paid for research into new drilling techniques? We do. Notice, whatever they get, it just isn't enough...

Bush, We the People

"We the people, at least 73%, are ready for you to leave. We're tired of the unending corporafornication, now around $3 trillion. Please exit the CorporaWhorehouse on Pennsylvania Avenue as soon as possible. Take your pimping friends from the Capital with you."

Monday, October 06, 2008

Pope Criticizes Pursuit of Wealth

Pope Benedict XVI decried the pursuit of wealth. He noted its evaporation in the banking crisis, showing that wealth meant "nothing." Proof is in action, thus it's time for the Vatican and the gold adorned pontiff to sell that meaningless "nothing." Proceeds can help struggling members of humanity. Infrastructure is already in place...

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Frances Townsend on Opportunities during Global Instability

Former White House Homeland Security Adviser Frances Townsend is the headliner at a global conference in Denver. The Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals asked Fran to kick off the event.

Keynote speaker Frances Townsend will set the stage by discussing geopolitical issues and their impact on the supply chain. Townsend will draw on her experience as assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism from 2004 to 2008. This theme will be further developed during other general sessions, such as the executive panel discussion titled "Instability Offers Global Opportunities."

President George W. Bush knows how to foster instability, internationally and domestically. Fran's expertise was "risk management." She hoped to apply her knowledge on behalf of a large investment house. Wall Street cratered due to mismanaged risk, even without Fran's expert advise.

If Townsend does the same for supply chain management that she did for government, expect more failures and disruptions. Recently on Talk Radio, Fran suggested the Bush administration struggled to communicate security issues. She said the next administration should form a communications plan quickly. So what did Fran do as Homeland Security Adviser if there is no communications plan?

She did head up the post mortem on Hurricane Katrina. Who leaves out the hospital with the highest patient death toll from a Lessons Learned report? Poor delivery on an investigation, that's our Fran. Global instability, that's her boss, George "you're such a man" Bush.

Unopposed Candidate Avoids Public Meeting with Burgers Event

The last time Rep. Mike Conaway held a public meeting at Angelo State University, he got grilled. Some of the highest heat came from fellow Republicans. Many lamented how the party had "lost its way."

Mike returns to San Angelo with his tail between his legs after changing his vote on the $700 billion Wall Street bailout bill. If the plan was focused on Main Street, the Treasury would restrict their buy backs to residential and subprime mortgage backed securities. They wouldn't fling the door open to exotic financial instruments, nor would they buy back the world's toxic assets, much of it vaporware.

Will Conaway explain exactly how the credit markets crumpled to those in attendance at Burgers with Mike? If his non-responses to my many questions are an indication, not a chance. But they will get some soft shoe and a prayer request or two. I'm now praying for honesty.

Conaway Fundraiser for Bush's Republican Trust

The $700 billion bailout bill moved more than markets. It changed Rep. Mike Conaway's Bush fundraiser from Thursday night to Saturday.

Conaway said beforehand that Bush’s old Midland friends — about 500 strong — were "excited" to see him at the fundraiser.

The barbecue, which had to be moved from Thursday night to Saturday because of congressional votes on the $700 billion bailout, was expected to raise $500,000 for the Congressional Trust 2008, with proceeds going to House GOP races.

Old home ties didn’t hurt this week, either. It took a few phone calls, but Bush finally persuaded Conaway to vote for the bailout after he voted against it the first time around.

Only a $1,000 average per attendee? Does that mean no participants took advantage of the $57,000 photo and private time with the President? If ten participants ponied up for some flesh time, they shattered that $500,000 expectation. Surely, some big money boys showed up to thank Bush for arranging the latest round of Corporfornication. Whose prayers were answered?

Saturday, October 04, 2008

The $700 Billlion Bank

Friday, October 03, 2008

CorporaWhorehouses on Washington Mall Pass Bill

Bush's Phoning Causes Conaway to Shift Position on Bailout

News reports indicate Representative Mike Conaway will change his vote on the $700 billion bailout bill. After voting no on Monday, Conaway reconsidered and will vote for the current package.

The 11th Congressional District representative said Thursday that he was concerned about the effect on the economic system if a bailout wasn't passed.

Credit for financial institutions, which might not be available without the bailout, is "the lubricant or the oil that keeps our economy running smoothly," he said.

"I voted against the bill on Monday because there were several key pieces missing of the grand puzzle in this financial rescue package," Conaway said in an e-mail today. "In short, I felt there was a better way to respond and to restore needed confidence the American economy. While we cannot be positive that the plan we are considering today will work to restore that confidence, I am positive that inaction is not an option. So weighing the risk of doing nothing, I have decided that today I will vote yes on the financial package when it comes to the House Floor for a vote."

Conaway also said President Bush has called him daily this week to woo his support for the bill.

Funny, they were scheduled to be side by side last night at Mike's home for a "Republican Trust" fundraiser. For $57,000 supporters could get a photo and private time with President Bush. The news report made no mention of the haul.

Wall Street's Gaping Hole

CEOs weren't content to dig for gold with a shovel. Wall Street innovation turned financial products into a huge, high tech boring machine, similar to those that clear coal from earthly veins or dig monstrous tunnels, like the one under the English Channel. Leverage ramped up the giant machines RPM's. As long as it went forward, things were great.

But housing prices peaked, the economy lingered, and people began defaulting on loans. The machine stalled, then went into reverse. The blades now cut the other way, shredding instruments previously thought of as safe.

Mortgage backed securities are a real problem, but not the only one. Wall Street packaged other instruments, backed by assets other than home mortgages. Many have the quality of a Las Vegas style bet. Numerous markers have been called, leaving the bet holder with little more than a receipt.

Who invested in these products? Who did the betting? More non Wall Street CEOs than you think. SemGroup, an energy distribution firm, declared bankruptcy due to billions in hedging losses. HCA, the giant hospital company, has a professional liability subsidiary with $1.6 billion in level 2 or 3 investments, including derivatives and $652 million in auction rate securities based on student loans, now untradeable.

Carlyle Capital Corporation combined the two sins, leveraging its investment in mortgage backed securities 39 to 1. It turned into a Phoenix in March, but may benefit from the Federal bailout plan in its roll up. In addition, the Carlyle Group may get to buy back its ManorCare commercial mortgage debt for pennies on the dollar, with Uncle Sam as the middleman.

Sure, pension funds swallowed Wall Street's swill by the trillions. Investment advisers pushed junk on IRA and 401(k) holders. Who will show up at the Treasury window? It may surprise you.

The private equity owners of hospital and nursing home companies could arrive with their hand out. The PEU boys are now posited as saviours for banks and at risk financial institutions. I expected them to arrive with one hand out, but not two.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Madman Across the Hudson

While Congress debated the Wall Street bailout plan, Elton John's Madman Across the Water played on my car radio. It took no effort to draw a connection between the song and America's leaders, business and political. I rewrote the lyrics in that light:

Madman Across the Hudson

I can see very well
There's a bank on Wall Street with a broken back
And I can see investment hell
There's a loan and I know its very bad
It's one of those that I sold you long ago
Take my word I'm a madman don't you know

Once a fool had a good job in the day
If it's so would I still be here to prey
It's quite peculiar in a funny sort of way
They think it's very funny everything I say
Get a load of him, he's so insane
You better build your moat dear
It looks like rain

Late payment’s due next Thursday afternoon
The bankers hope they'll see you very soon
But is it in your nightmare that you run from
Another glimpse of the madman across the Hudson

I can see very well
There's a bank on Wall Street with a broken back
And I can see credit hell
There's a loan and I know its very bad
It's one of those that I sold you long ago
Take my word I'm a madman don't you know

The ground's a long way down but I need more
Is 1929 back
Are those widows begging
Will the economy run again next week

Can my mind really take it

Late payment’s due next Thursday afternoon
The bankers hope they'll see you very soon
But is it in your nightmare that you run from
Another glimpse of the madman across the Hudson