Wednesday, May 31, 2006

U.S. Position on Militias in Iraq and Bolivia?

Dear President Bush,

Does it matter who sponsors a militia if it is not under official government control? In Iraq there is great concern over independent religious militias. Does that also apply to militias organized by corporations or business groups?

It seems some agribusinesses in Bolivia wish to form militias to defend their property from government seizure and redistribution. What are you thoughts on militias in general? If you support the agribusiness militias, why are they bad in Iraq and good in Bolivia? Write me back, I want to know.

Your Bad Luck in Iraq Just Got Much Worse

Dear President Bush,

If the worldwide news wires carry the quote from the driver of the killed pregnant woman, the already teetering U.S. reputation just took a precipitous dive. The brother of the victim was driving his sister to the hospital in Samarra to deliver her baby. He failed to see the roadblock or heed any warnings. U.S. troops opened fire to disable the vehicle killing the mother to be and her cousin. This is what he told the Associated Press:

May God take revenge on the Americans and those who brought them here," Jassim's brother told the AP. "People are shocked and fed up with the Americans. People in Samarra are very angry with the Americans not only because of Haditha case but because the Americans kill people randomly, especially recently."

Pull the troops out as they will soon be the dynamite in the powder keg. Once it blows, controlling the explosion will be near impossible without looking like the man we deposed.

Bush Ignores the Very System that Produces Civilian Deaths

Dear President Bush,

What results from returning soldiers with post traumatic stress syndrome to the front lines in Iraq? Is it not predictable that individuals will see a threat where none exists and act inappropriately? This is not to justify such behavior, but to put it in the context of the system your administration designed.

The news says “you are upset” with the Iraqi killing reports. Are you upset they were reported at all? Had that been confidential information would the Justice Department be looking to charge those reporters with a crime?

As Iraq degenerates into a violent free for all, the last thing the U.S. needs is for the Iraqi people to see every American soldier as an assassin. They already see them as bullies for their night house tours that end with the kidnapping of teenage males and the ransacking of their property.

That two women, one pregnant and about to give birth were killed at a U.S. manned checkpoint today adds to your woes. Her brother speeding to the hospital did not see the soldiers. Afterwards the brother said "God take revenge on the Americans and those who brought them here. They have no regard for our lives."

If you want innocent civilians to not die at the hands of our soldiers, stop the war. You might need to stop it sooner to save all concerned should both stories feedback on each other to incite a national rage.

Bush “Pioneers” Reminiscent of Old Days

Dear President Bush,

Your select group of campaign fundraisers has much in common with their historical namesake, as both groups of Pioneers seemed to either strike it rich or end up in jail. Just yesterday, Pioneer Henry Paulson brought his riches to the White House. As the new Secretary of the Treasury he will be in a position to work for a few years and then make even more dough as a lobbyist for "the Street".

Today, Pioneer Thomas Noe joins Ranger James Tobin behind bars for campaign crimes committed during your 2004 re-election campaign. Thomas Noe gave illegal donations in a scheme to raise $50,000 for you. Does that make you mad as was charged with raising at least $100,000? Super fund raiser, James Tobin acted to block Democratic voter turnout in New Hampshire along with three other Republican operatives.

Four Pioneers struck it rich by getting Cabinet level appointments, while two are going to the pokey. It appears you are taking us back to the good ole days. Pretty soon we will paying our doctors in chickens. Oooppss! Some of us already are….

Republican Disdain for Non-Profit Community Hospitals Showing

Dear President Bush,

Do you recall how the IRS was used by prior administrations to intimidate enemy groups or individuals? Might something similar be occurring under your administration?

The current target is non profit community hospitals and the issue is what they do to earn their tax exempt status. Last summer both the House and the Senate raised this issue. Rep. Bill Thomas, chair of the powerful House Ways & Means Committee, held a hearing on the unfair tax advantages non profit hospitals have over their for profit counterparts. Senator Chuck Grassley, chair of the equally intimidating Senate Finance Committee, conducted a study on the community benefits non profit community hospitals provide and its relation to their tax exempt status. Both men have a long history of donations from for profit hospitals, nursing homes and their trade associations. Both committees' members have been saturated with donations from the for profit health care industry the last 2 election cycles.

Just this month the IRS released a compliance questionnaire for non profit community hospitals to justify their tax exempt status. It is 9 pages long and delves into everything from services offered to uncompensated care to CEO pay to billing practices.

Rather than study the issue of uncompensated care across all hospitals, non profit and for profit, the government is honing in solely on community hospitals. For over 10 years non profit hospitals have been required to publish an annual report on benefits provided to the community. For about the same length of time for profit hospitals have whined about their unfair burden of paying taxes when they are in essentially the same business.

Combine the Bush mantra of corporations are efficient with the lobbying payola to Congress and you get something like the new IRS compliance questionnaire. Didn’t you say you wanted to reduce government intrusiveness, regulations, and interference? So, why send IRS heat towards non profit community hospitals? I guess those for profit health care companies will get by with a little help from their friends in Congress and the White House….

Surprise! New Treasury Chief a Bush 2004 Pioneer

Dear President Bush,

Did your press release on the new Treasury Secretary, Henry Paulson, include his status a Bush Pioneer in 2004? I have yet to see one news report mention this key bit of information.

Why is this important? History, which you purport to love, shows over 40% of your 2000 Pioneers ended up with positions in your administration. Mr. Paulson joins at least 3 other cabinet members as promoted Pioneers. Is it symbolic that the Departments of Treasury, Commerce, and Labor are all distinguished Bush fundraisers?

How might this affect policy! As 1/5 of Pioneers are lobbyists, and high dollar fundraisers are known to have unprecedented White House access, could Mr. Paulson swing his door wide open for his campaign compadres while denying an ear to any “opponents”?

You likely are happy to have someone who knows money in charge of the Treasury, especially one who peels off rolls of bills to pass your way. Frankly, I am concerned for the greater country.

Your economic policies don’t make sense to me. Your people don’t seem open to the most basic aspects of managing an organization, like listening to its customers, making projections and plans, and conducting follow up to see how they worked. Your health care policies will reduce access and decrease quality as people postpone needed care. Your crackerjack staff cannot conduct even the most basic investigation.

But you can hire your friends as long as they agree to be a Bush parrot. And you can protect them when they get in trouble by calling off the posse. I am sure the Carlyle Group’s LifeCare Hospitals is most thankful for that free pass in your White House Lessons Learned report. You do have the ability to protect your friends down cold. And that’s just where it leaves me….

High Court Reduces Whistleblowers to Whoosh Makers

Dear President Bush,

You must be jumping up and down for joy as the Supreme Court took the legs out from future whistleblowers. Government employees can not longer rely on historical whistleblower protections. Twenty million public service workers no longer have free speech rights as part of their jobs.

The likely impact is employee disciplinary procedures will run before the concerned worker can press their issue to resolution. The options are twofold, drop their beef and remain employed or be fired and on the street. Either way, the odds of that person pressing their concern decreases dramatically. The robber baron days are back for public workers.

The courageous American worker desiring to expose corruption is in danger of extinction. Will there be no more Serpico’s, Bunatine’s, or Deep Throat’s? What will people do now that the Supreme Court has taken away their whistle and left them with a whoosh?

They will still tell, you know. It will just be in a whisper and someone else will need to be close enough to hear. I recall you do not like leaks. Do you realize this action will shut off one of the few remaining relief valves in the system? As the internal pressure builds how will it express itself? Will it be lots of tiny little leaks or one big breach? Personally I think both will happen. That means you need to spy on 20 million public employees. I forgot, you are already doing that!

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Albertson’s Joins Bush in Cutting Retirement Benefits of Workers

Dear President Bush,

Your Social Security plans have much in common with corporate America’s approach to pension benefits as both are being reduced. Your efforts to save Social Security impose benefit cuts for younger workers while employers are freezing pension plans, a move that results in a similar outcome. Albertson’s announced an increase of 67% in profitability for the first quarter of 2006. Nearly half of the increase will come on the back of Albertson’s employees as 8 cents per share in profits arose from “pension curtailments”.

Here is the really good news; Albertson’s executives don’t have to care as they are selling the company! It is a good thing they did the dirty work pre-acquisition. Now they can slither away with their massive gain on the sale. Any employee invective is aimed at the ex group of self serving corporate “leaders”. The new bosses don’t have that stain on them, making the whole thing wickedly Machiavellian.

You should be proud. Are you sure Karl didn’t come up with this scheme. It sounds remarkably like your health care strategy where people pay more for less care and are told it is “strengthening the doctor patient relationship”. Doctors will drop patients who cannot afford to pay their bills. How will this help “the relationship”?

Oh, I get it now. Doctors previously busy caring for marginally insured and uninsured patients will now be able to devote their newfound free time to serving the rich, well heeled, insured patients. It is clear now who’s doctor patient relationship is being strengthened, your base’s. Did Bill Clinton coach you on word parsing? It all depends on what your definition of the word is….

The Democratixx’s KeyMaster Sworn in as CIA Chief

Dear President Bush,

The man with the keys to the secret parasitic world known as the Democratixx was sworn in today as the new Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. As KeyMaster, Michael Hayden kept parts of the false shadowy world hidden from the general population. It seems the code masks sub surface incompatibilities in the Democratixx.

Things that normally might offend a society founded on individual rights and responsibilities are kept behind lock and key. You know who has the key to access these hidden areas, yourself, our elected Congresspersons and the KeyMaster.

In his opening speech to the Agency, Michael Hayden called the CIA a ligament, a tendon in the intelligence world. Did he share that it is currently strained, even torn by suspect intelligence regarding weapons of mass destruction in Iraq? Has the tear healed enough for people to have any confidence in the agency’s assessment of Iran? It even missed the elections of Hamas in Palestine.

Hayden also stressed the CIA needs to be competent and cooperative to ensure it remains central. That explains why the federal government is losing its centrality in people’s lives as it is neither competent, nor cooperative. I need not cite the litany of failures under your “leadership” as they are well documented.

The KeyMaster did make one strategy public, his decision to bring back a veteran agent as his deputy saying “… while I have a lot of keys, Stephen Kappes has some I don’t have. Between us we should be able to keep hidden things that would upset the President and the Architect; that is if the Architect does not get indicted over leaking the name of the CIA agent. We must keep classified information classified, unless the Architect orders the President to de-classify such information for release for political gain.”

With that said, the KeyMaster got a puzzled look on his face and slipped through a previously unknown door with the latch locking behind him. Where will he appear next? And what is he hiding with all those locked doors and agents? Will he be giving Agent Cheney his next assignment? What country will Agent Cheney attack next as backtracking from democracy while the U.S. installs its latest Democratixx upgrade? Will it be Bolivia or Venezuela? Might it be Peru or Nicaragua should the wrong candidate win? Write me back, I want to know.

P.S. This post is fiction, except General Hayden was sworn in today. His double swearing in ceremony will occur tomorrow with the second swearer, President Bush. What will he call General Hayden as he is not a piece of paper like the Constitution?

House Defensiveness to FBI Raid?

Dear President Bush,

I have a theory as to the vocal defensiveness by House leadership on the FBI search of Congressmen Jefferson’s office after hours. Their positions that even a search of a Congressional office has Constitutional separation of powers implications seems a bit of a stretch. I think something else is going on here.

1. House leaders are aware of your penchant for playing dirty politics, of playing “pay back” with those who cross you.

2. House intelligence committee members know full well the means, methods, and capabilities of your spy agencies. Do they quiver in fear of those tactics being used against them?

3. Elected officials are stained from years of gorging at the campaign money trough. Virtually anywhere one might look in a Congressional office, could one find evidence of influence peddling?

Combine the above and what do you have? A Congress ready to pee in their boots should the cone of the intelligence apparatus aim at them.

I have a request. Please aim that apparatus at both the White House and the Capital simultaneously. If you can squeeze in all of Pennsylvania Avenue and K Street it might get the donors of corporate largesse and the recipients of that quid pro quo, legislative influence.

Please study the whole problem and don’t throw up a few sacrificial lambs for public appeasement. We noted the military torture cases and the latest round of civilian executions, all from “rogue warriors and bad actors”. What will we learn about the systemic nature of these events fifty years later? Were they ordered from the top like the Korean civilian refugee executions in 1950-51? Even fifty five years later, the Pentagon is sticking to the panicky soldiers defense despite documented letters and orders to the contrary.

Time will show the extent of the heinous behavior perpetrated by the world’s “greatest” democracy. What I am interested in now, it the behavior of our democratic officials. Please open wide the doors of the White House, the NSA, and Congress for an accounting of suspected influence peddling and insider favor granting.

If you would start with the omission of LifeCare Hospitals where 24 patients died post Katrina from the White House Lessons Learned report, I would be most appreciative. Then if you could move on to for profit hospital corporate influence buying on the House Ways and Means Committee and Senate Finance Committees, I would be grateful. That 2005 hearing on the unfair advantage of tax exempt (non profit community) hospitals smells a bit like a cow pie. How much money changed hands for that bit of important public policy to occur?

White House Conducts LBO of Goldman Sachs Talent

Dear President Bush,

Will the hiring of Goldman Sachs’ Chairman as Secretary of the Treasury keep Wall Street happy? That is one of the main goals of another prior Goldman executive, your recently appointed White House Chief of Staff, Josh Bolten. The market doesn’t seem excited as it is tumbling post announcement driven in part by falling consumer confidence. Can you blame it on John Snow as he exits? It would not be good to have Henry Paulson’s first tick mark be such a negative.

I did note your reasons for promoting Mr. Paulson. My question is why a seasoned business executive would take the job? Few executives purposefully cut revenues while dramatically increasing expenses year over year. Those that do usually are investing in a new product be it technology or medicine. Rarely does an ongoing operation fiscally behave like our federal government. If it did, shareholders would revolt or the company would be forced to declare bankruptcy. Thus the U.S. federal government fits the economic “marvel” label the new Treasury Chief applied to our nation’s economy. It is a surprise, a wonder that it is still afloat.

Did you share your vision of contracting out all government functions to American businesses? Did he get excited thinking about the opportunity to steer massive contracts to his friends on the Street? How will the investment houses charge fees for those hybrid Social Security personal accounts?

The trend of contracting for government services is well established in the military. Education and healthcare are experiencing a different shift, one towards for profit companies with insider White House connections. This all bodes well for Mr. Paulson’s friends on Wall Street as they will have their own personal insider advocating on their behalf.

In the world of Bulls and Bears, LBO normally stands for leveraged buy out. My guess is you used a different version of those letters in recruiting Mr. Paulson. Did your LBO stand for Long-range Business Opportunity? Did you suggest that after a relatively brief stint as Treasury Chief, he could make huge dollars as a lobbyist?

My guess is the new Treasury Secretary will implement LBO right away, even adding a letter. Will Henry enact LBOW, which stands for Lobbyists Better Open those Wallets!

What will happen to the people being served by your administration? If I happened to be disturbed or concerned, I might LBOP. Let’s Beware Our President. If I were optimistic about America’s future as we seem to be returning to traditional values I might LBOS. Let’s Belabor the Old School.

Which of the three versions of LBO might make their way into the American lexicon? If I were a betting man, I would throw my money down on Lobbyists Better Open those Wallets as some things never change.

Military Dishonored by Past Policy of Everyone’s Expendable

Dear President Bush.

America does not target civilians. That is what makes us different than the terrorists. What if this were proven wrong? Two recent stories cast doubt on the moral high ground America claims at times of war. The first is the assassination of the families in Haditha last November. Several soldiers ordered to clean up afterwards have relayed to their families their version of the disturbing events.

The second story concerns a letter in 1950 from the U.S. Ambassador in Seoul that clearly states the U.S. policy of shooting South Korean refugees. Soldiers were ordered to shoot refugees approaching their lines. Hundreds of civilians lined up on top of a railroad embankment while military aircraft opened fire. Ground troops finished the job on people huddling underneath a nearby railroad bridge.

The story broke in 1999 after certain documents were unclassified. The Pentagon conducted a 16 month investigation and found it to be an unfortunate tragedy blaming the shootings on “panicky soldiers”. The Associated Press found at least 19 declassified military documents showing the chain of command ordered the killing of non combatants in 1950-51.

The dehumanization of all involved leads to such actions whether there is official sanction or not. The military order to kill innocents strips our democracy of any moral authority it claims to have in conducting war. Will you bring this up next Memorial Day when you recall the fallen? Will you honor those executed by our fighting forces? Write me back, I want to know.

P.S. The Army’s report indicates they reviewed the microfilm containing the incriminating letter but chose to leave it out of their report. That sounds very familiar as the White House’s Hurricane Katrina Lessons Learned report also left out key information, most notably the hospital company where 24 patients died. Did your Dad make a request on behalf of their corporate owner, the Carlyle Group?

God Told Me “The Handful’s” Are Fakes

Dear President Bush,

What did God tell you last night about the two groups claiming to know the Almighty’s perspectives on our country and the soldiers who die for its “causes”? I told you I would try to still my mind enough for human concerns to fall away, to make room for the ever present divine to be heard. This is what I got.

Why would I want my beloved children fighting amongst themselves, especially over me? I sent my Son and countless others to tell you, to show you. That very same spirit returns daily in newborns throughout the world. How do people distort the clear messages of love into war, of giving away into accumulating possessions, of listening to others into refusing to be in relationship?

How does the message become more important than its expression in living? I know I created you smarter than that. Why all the distortions? Ah, you listen to people speaking and acting on those illusions. Please stop.

Listen to the children yet to be poisoned by having more for they are closest to me. In countries worldwide they ask in languages they understand, why do people hurt each other? Why do some people have enough food and others don’t? Why do some people have safe shelter while others struggle to survive in the elements? Why do people hold up money & possessions as a modern God, something to be worshipped? Why do people hold up a form of governance as if it is a religion?

Leaders around the world fighting to impose the one true religion are deluded. No faith can encompass all I am. Those with certainty limit the light available to them. Some limit my light so severely they reside in darkness.

That very darkness invades the halls of many national governments today. Leaders refuse to be in relationship, they refuse to recognize their counterpart as their neighbor much less my admonition to love them. The people must carry on with the Great Commission, loving your neighbor, recognizing there are none who do not qualify. When that happens the damage a dark leader can impose is minimized.

The people must challenge those leaders in a loving way. Love is the tonic for hate, peace the prescription for conflict. Layering hate upon hate, conflict upon conflict, difference upon difference makes for a deadly cake. When the people encounter hate, respond with love, when they encounter conflict respond with listening and understanding, when they encounter difference, save that for another day and focus on what we have in common.

What you can tell them is I love them all! There are no unloved in the eyes of God. When you all know I love you deeply, it is time to pull out those differences and one by one work through them. With that foundation combined with your God given creativity, I can only imagine the wonders the people can do...hunger eliminated, disease minimized, safe shelter and water for all, people creating new stories for the next version of the Bible. Even timeless wisdom can benefit from an update, even if it is to make it more accessible to the people of the present. And by the way, that is the only time you have to live love, in the present. So get cracking!

No one knows all that is God, so why do people claim to? Are they just pushing their agendas, hoping a “God backed” boost gives their positions credibility? Did I just do the same thing or is my radio tuned to the real God channel? The good news is I will get to find out someday. So what did God tell you last night? Write me back I want to know.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Two Handful’s of What Make National News?

Dear President Bush,

The ultra conservative Christian Westboro Baptist Church had a handful of protestors at the entrance to Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day. They suggest soldiers are dying because of our country’s promotion of homosexuality. It is evidence that “God Hates America” for its sinful ways.

Just across the street stood a handful of your good friends from FreeRepublic, the same group that defended you from Cindy Sheehan in Crawford last summer. They promote the opposite, that “God Loves America” and soldiers are dying for an honorable cause, our freedom.

My question to you is how many other “handful’s” of people had a different message this Memorial Day? Why was this story even noteworthy? My guess is most families had more people at their backyard barbeque than was in either “God interpreting” group.

As we all wonder how Muslims will work through their differences, our country is shown a stark example of Christian division. It appears we have similar concerns as our friends in the Middle East. Both have the fundamentalist fringes speaking on the airwaves with their money driving policy at the expense of the moderate religious majority. Think about it and tonight ask God for guidance on this very matter. I’ll do likewise. Write me back with what comes over your channel.

Bush Returns to “NI” Strategy on War on Terror

Dear President Bush,

I noted you dredged up your “No Information/No Invite” Strategy previously used on secret prisons in Europe and Guantanamo Bay. The occasion for the rehashing of this successful dodge concerns lawsuits into secret spying here at home by the National Security Agency.

Did you learn the strategy during your college days at Yale when Monty Python was all the rage? Did their Knights Who Say “Ni” serve as the inspiration for your defense strategy. In the movie, Monty Python and The Holy Grail the three headed knight spoke a most powerful word, capable of driving away even the most dangerous, heinous opponent.

It appears the NSA employed the Knights, as to date it has turned away the Justice Department and the Federal Communications Commission. Were their investigators driven away in a verbal assault of “Ni’s”?

In an odd twist, the just spurned Justice Department is now saying “Ni” on behalf of the National Security Agency? They told the judge it would be impossible to defend the legality of the program without disclosing classified information that could be of value to suspected terrorists.

This is the same justice department that could not get security clearance to conduct an investigation. How did they learn so much, that they now know the program is legal? How did they learn so much that they now know defending the program would disclose valuable classified information? How does it work they can’t get in to conduct an investigation but they can get in to conduct a defense?

This can’t be the first trial in the history of our country dealing with classified information. What procedures are in place that allow laws to be administered, judged legal or not, in cases where classified information exists?

P.S. National Intelligence Director John Negroponte issued an edict on behalf of your administration writing that disclosure of such information would cause “exceptionally grave damage” to national security. Is it just a coincidence that National Intelligence is abbreviated as “Ni”?

Bush’s Memorial Day War Cry a Classic “Sunk Cost” Argument

Dear President Bush,

You wish to run the government like a business but your position on the War in Iraq violates one basic financial tenet, in conducting a cost benefit analysis one must ignore the past investment associated with that initiative. While those previous costs might be significant, the focus is on future investment and the returns to the enterprise.

As President you not only ignore the past cost rule, you use it as the main reason to keep going on your prime directive, the war in Iraq. By doing so, the Commander in Chief does not have to produce projected future investments and their associated benefits.

Yes, things are beginning to make sense. As you were never the good analyzer in the past, why would you suddenly change and become a good projector of the future? Having written numerous times for the projected impact of your health care strategies, I have yet to receive a reply. My guess is you don’t have them, just as you don’t have it for Iraq.

What would a corporate board do to a CEO who asked for billions of dollars with no projections all because of the significant costs and sacrifices made to date? They would be shown the door.

What should a country do to a President who justifies the future loss of life by the total to date, by the memory of the fallen?

U.S. Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq: A Deadbeat Billionaire

Dear President Bush,

Seventeen former prisoners of war tortured by Saddam’s henchmen during the first Gulf War sued and won a multi-million dollar judgment against the rogue regime in 2002. The U.S. servicemen had their day in court and won fair and square. After the fall of Saddam one might think U.S. leadership would accelerate payment of this legal obligation. To the contrary, the federal government went to court to block payment and a federal judge agreed. During this time the Coalition Provisional Authority distributed billions of dollars, shrink wrapped on pallets. The General Accounting Office cited over $8.8 billion as unaccounted for by the authority.

During this same time President Bush and Congress passed a new bankruptcy bill to keep deadbeat dads and celebrity millionaires from welching on their debts. I guess it doesn’t cover deadbeat billionaires!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Latest Bush-Putin Similarity, Charging Reporters with Crimes!

Dear President Bush,

Didn’t your Justice Department just release that it would charge members of the media with crimes for printing classified information? It seems someone is following your lead as most times that information is critical of your administration.

Prosecutors are investigating a journalist for publishing an article mocking President Vladimir Putin over his call to pay Russian women to have more children, an official said Wednesday.

The article was published by Vladimir Rakhmankov, editor of the online newspaper Kursiv in the central city of Ivanovo, said Andrei Galchenko of the regional prosecutor's office.

The piece poked fun at Putin's recent state of the nation address that called for economic incentives to boost the country's plummeting birth rate. Russian media reported that the publication suggested that animals at a local zoo increased their mating, heeding Putin's call.

Ooopps! My first piece on this blog mocks your 2006 State of the Union Address. Might I be in trouble? I just saw a dark blue van backing up slowly in front of my house. It had a white badge on the side but at my angle I could not see the writing. Did you or one of your minions send it?

It is a good thing I am not a reporter. Could you charge me for raising concerns about for profit health care donations to Rep. Bill Thomas, powerful chair of the House Ways & Means Committee? Would you throw me behind bars for suggesting insider connections kept the Carlyle Group’s LifeCare out of the White House Lessons Learned report? I have a sense as to what would end me up in trouble, my recent post having Captain Kirk suggest you are not intelligent life!

Show you are different than Mr. Putin by laughing at the silliness of it all. Play that Stephen Colbert tape again, it might be funnier the second time around….

White House Holds Hurricane Drill a Year Late

Dear President Bush,

How did your crackerjack team perform in responding to the widespread devastation caused by Hurricane Boudreaux? Did your team get the information they wanted in a timely manner? Did they have answers to your Katrina questions regarding how hospital patients fared post landfall? Did they mobilize other government leaders as the offers of international aid poured in? Was Condi paged from her shoe purchasing trip to New York to assist communication with other world leaders wishing to help?

Last summer the nation watched the plight of thousands of hospital patients and staff struggling to survive in dead and dangerous health care facilities. Having evacuated a mid sized Texas Gulf Coast hurricane pre-monster storm landfall and endured in a powerless river flooded teaching hospital, I had great compassion for those trapped by Katrina’s floodwaters. Since the disaster that unnecessarily claimed the lives of many hospital patients, I have looked closely for changes.

With all the drills, plans, and updates conducted in preparation for the 2006 hurricane season, hospital patient handling has been conspicuously absent from the media reports. From what little I have been able to find out, it appears hospitals are responsible for their own patient evacuation both pre and post storm. The May 29th issue of Time Magazine seems to sum it up best with its piece titled “You’re on Your Own”.

I can understand hospitals needing to do their best with pre-storm evacuations. The problem arises when the projected impact area is a city with thousands of hospital beds. Likely, state and local resources alone will not be able to move that many patients in a 2-3 day window. In some cases despite heroic efforts to evacuate patients pre-storm, up to 50% of patients could remain in facilities within the impact zone. Post storm flooded hospitals are completely dependent on outsiders to assist them, whether they be local, state, and federal.

So what happened with hospital patients in your Hurricane Boudreaux drill? You are aware of the numerous Boudreaux jokes in Cajun country. I hope your drill turns out to not be just another one.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

“No Doodee to Flee” Laws Pass in More States

Dear President Bush,

What are naturally dangerous looking persons to do in states like Florida, where should someone feel they are in danger, they can use deadly force with no criminal or civil penalties? What should someone with Tourette’s Syndrome do if they have a cursing outburst in a public place, causing an armed citizen to feel in danger?

“No Doodee to Flee” is the fourth successful program launched by the National Rifle Association in the last few years. It joins the “Holder in the Stroller” program which seeks to arm every child at birth and the “Charlton Alert” initiative which seeks to reunite lost weapons with their loving owners.

The other new program is smaller in scope but targeted, the “Bloomberg Alert” which notifies politicians if any gun control mayors are on their capital grounds. The elected representatives can then take appropriate evasive action although they have “No Doodee to Flee”. How long before Mayor Bloomberg is deemed a dangerous presence?

There are other side effects to the “No Doodee to Flee” laws. Ugly, smelly and mentally ill persons in the following states should take extra precautions not to look dangerous.

Arizona, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi Oklahoma, and South Dakota

By inciting even the appearance of danger they can be met with deadly force. Mr. Roberto Alpizar found that out in the Miami Airport.

It is amazing to see the “law and order party” crater to the NRA, especially when it is contrary to recommendations from the law enforcement community. Police associations weighed in to extend the Assault Weapons Ban which Congress let expire and they suggest the “No Doodee to Flee” laws are unnecessary and will likely help criminals.

Bush Tours Limerick Nuclear Power Generating Station

Dear President Bush,

Is it odd that nuclear power is the answer to the United States’ electricity generating needs but not Iran’s or North Korea’s? You chose to promote deep six’ing more regulations to foster nuclear proliferation in the homeland. In promoting it you said “nukular” power is abundant, affordable, safe and clean. Did the leprechauns at Limerick agree with your assessment? The mainstream liberal media failed to report their perspective, so I just have to guess. My contributions are below:

The President in the White Hat

There once was a man in a white hat
Who wandered coating everything with his shat
When one person did offend
They called out to him
By George, would you not do that!

Energy for All

A leader found power too expensive
When voters became apprehensive
As election time neared
He played off their fears
And promised them nukular fishin (literally)!

The Future Fisherman

When Colin went out to the bay
Many fish he could see coming his way
It was dark at night
And to some it might fright
To see fish glowing bright green and not gray!

Should you care to share the real limericks from the Pennsylvania leprechauns please do so. I would love to hear them....

Sleazy Bush Congratulates Slippery Olmert?

Dear President Bush,

Did you high five Israeli Prime Minister Olmert on his Bushlike Gordian knot adorning the Palestine-Israel peace present? Your untie-able knot happens to be domestic in nature, the National Security Agency's spying on Americans here at home. First the Justice Department attempted to examine NSA activities for illegalities. It could not wrangle its way through the necessary security clearances and left defeated and in shame. The Federal Communications Commission took its turn at the complex knot of domestic spying. It too was thwarted.

Without NSA granted security clearances, neither outside group can investigate the National Security Agency. By denying such clearances, the NSA remains above investigation and thus above the law. Was this the inspiration of Prime Minister Olmert’s peace plans you recently praised?

Mr. Olmert’s Gordian knot is a bit different as it has a time limitation. Either Palestinian leadership steps up within the next 6 months or the West Bank annexation game begins. Here’s the beauty of his plan that you likely appreciate. Currently, Mr. Olmert recognizes no Palestinian leader for negotiation purposes! He looks like he “wants” to meet, but he doesn’t. All he has to do is wait 6 months, declare no suitable negotiator and annex away!

Just like the NSA can wipe away an investigation with the swipe of the hand, Mr. Olmert can prance away with new Palestinian real estate while simultaneously crapping on your roadmap to peace. All either group has to do is nothing to get their way, grant no security clearances or recognize no leader. It is reminiscent of bills Congress passes that automatically increase their pay or national debt escalations that occur on a scheduled basis. Did Karl advise Mr. Olmert on this strategy or did Mr. Hadley come up with this one all on his own?

House of Cards

Dear President Bush,

The scramble is on to keep the government house of cards from collapsing. Neither the Justice Department nor the Federal Communications Commission can investigate the National Security Agency due to their lack of security clearance. Thus the NSA is above the law.

Meanwhile both political parties have their undies in a wad over the FBI’s search of a Congressional office. They call their concerns “constitutional”. The case involves an elected representative accepting $100,000 in bribe money on videotape. This happened after the Abramoff case of widespread influence buying in our hallowed halls of government.

Why the defensiveness from Congress? The House Ethics Committee just agreed to take up two cases, one the very same case involving the FBI search. One might think the Ethics Committee would appreciate the FBI’s investigation and findings.

Instead two different requests have been made. The lead Republican asked the FBI to surrender documents it received and remove agents involved in the weekend raid. The lead Democrat asked the suspect to resign from the House Ways & Means Committee to uphold high Congressional "standards".

From my view, the House Ways & Means Committee is already suspect. Its high ethics are already in question. Chairman Bill Thomas is not running for re-election but has a long history of campaign donations from for profit health care companies. Last summer he conducted a hearing on their pet issue, the unfair tax exempt status of non profit hospitals. In 2004, the Chairman received over $30,000 from companies or PAC’s with this stated position.

While tracing the dirty books of Fannie Mae, I found its political action committee contributed to numerous members of the same committee. One committee member, Mr. Eric Cantor’s 2006 campaign is heavily funded by the same for profit healthcare companies that helped Chairman Thomas for so many years. Looking at the last two election cycles, one for profit hospital PAC alone contributed to 31 of the 41 House Ways and Means Committee members. That same for profit healthcare PAC gave to 12 of 20 Senators on its critical Finance Committee during that timeframe.

I can see why Congresspersons are concerned about their offices being raided. What might the public find out about how well our elected representatives serve the people? Given the strong, defensive reactions I can only wonder how many more Tom Delays, Bob Neys, and William Jeffersons are out there? Might they be named Bill Thomas, Eric Cantor, Chuck Grassley, Harry Reid, Bill Frist …..?

Update on Transparent Olmert Visit

Dear President Bush,

In a surprisingly jubilant mood boosted by the anticipation of Speaker Hastert’s distribution of AIPAC checks, the House of Representatives passed a bill slashing aid to the Palestinian people. What better way to celebrate the campaign ka-ching than screwing the have not’s, especially when they are recalcitrant Arabs.

The measure, approved 361-37, would cut off aid to non-governmental groups working in the West Bank and Gaza except for health programs and would deny visas to members of the Palestinian Authority. It also would ban contacts with Hamas because of its classification as a terrorist organization and limit the president's authority to waive the aid bans.

But Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Texas, said Palestinians "have made their choice" in voting Hamas into power. "American aid to the Palestinian people must be predicated on their rejection of terrorism. We gave them democracy and they shit on it. Fuck ‘em."

Pro-Israel groups, have also split on the issue, with the largest lobbying group, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), pushing for its passage. "Today, Congress made it clear that Hamas' decision to continue its support for terrorism has direct and immediate consequences," AIPAC said after the vote.

In another surprising revelation you supported Mr. Olmert’s West Bank land grab. The news reported you “praised” the Israeli Prime Minister’s peace plan. It includes unilateral border setting should the Palestinians not negotiate. Should that plan go through it will be a two state solution in the same way the U.S. unilaterally carved out lands for Indian reservations. The power differential is already great and you just enhanced the hand of the heavy hitter.

What drew you to change your mind on a negotiated settlement and to drop key aspects of the road map for peace? Was the idea of fence just too compelling? That just seems to be the answer for free and democratic countries nowadays. What would Ronald Reagan think about building up that wall? Write me back, I want to know.

P.S. Dennis Hastert did not publicly hand out AIPAC checks on the House floor and Tom Delay did not say the Palestinians shit on democracy, nor did he verbally use the same word said by V.P. Cheney to Sen. Leahy on the Senate floor in reference to the Palestinians. Those are fictional items building on my previous sarcastic post on Mr. Olmert’s itinerary.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Did House Ways & Means Chair Bill Thomas Groom Eric Cantor?

Dear President Bush,

Just as corporate execs know how to lie, cheat and steal to get their incentive bonuses, they know how to game the political system. Leaders at Fannie Mae, the government mandated mortgage company, got caught with their hand in the cookie jar. Before the spotlight shone on their malfeasance they shared some of those cookies with elected leaders.

I noted a $10,000 donation by Fannie Mae’s political action committee to a Rep. from my home state of Virginia. Eric Cantor got two $5,000 donations from Fannie Mae for his 2006 campaign. In searching his campaign finance records I found he is deep in the pocket of for profit health care.

Eric got $10,000 from the nursing home association group, $10,000 from the Federation of American Hospitals, and $10,000 from HCA, the for profit hospital company partly owned and historically run by the Frist family. Your previous Medicare Chief, Tom Scully has strong connections to the first two donors. He is the Past President of the FAH and currently represents nursing homes through his employment with the DC lobbying house of Alston & Bird. Ninety percent of Mr. Cantor’s hospitals/nursing home donations come from for profits health care companies, only 10% from the non profit sector.

Mr. Cantor is on the House Ways and Means Committee which makes key decisions on Medicare and Medicaid. As Chairman Bill Thomas is retiring, who will rise up to serve as Chairman? Will they continue the inquisition regarding the unfair tax advantage enjoyed by non profit hospitals vis-à-vis their for profit tax paying counterparts? If $30,000 in 2004 donations got Chairman Bill to parrot the for profit position in an official Congressional hearing, what might $45,000 buy should Mr. Cantor get the chair? Only time will tell….

Is Fannie Mae a Model for Bush Education & Health Care Strategies?

Dear President Bush,

Did you note the distortions incentive pay and executive bonuses caused at Fannie Mae, the government mandated home mortgage company? It resulted in 7 straight years of accounting fraud and overstated financial performance of $11 billion. The fiction allowed management to meet their performance targets thus ensuring senior leaders collected millions in bonuses.

Are you aware of the parallels between the Fannie Mae compensation system which rewards performance and your lead strategies in education and healthcare? Systems that incentivize good performance and punish bad performance distort the larger organization in and of themselves. They encourage leaders to optimize their pay, usually at the cost of the greater mission. Fannie Mae, the second largest financial institution in America, is the latest such example.

Yet, this model is the core of your education initiative, No Child Left Behind. How many upstanding education systems will be distorted by scampering for rewards? Which ones will pull a Fannie Mae and fabricate results so they can get the prize?

The rage in health care is how to incentivize providers to deliver high quality care. The federal government and private insurers wish to offer physicians and providers a financial reward for exemplary performance. The flip side of the coin is punishment should that reward not be received.

Are you aware money is an extrinsic motivator? Do you believe health care professionals lack the internal or intrinsic motivation to deliver high quality health care? Do you know extrinsic motivators destroy our natural internal, intrinsic motivation?

Besides layering a distorting compensation system onto an education or health care organization, your initiatives will destroy many people’s natural intrinsic motivation to do a good job teaching, nursing, helping others in our society.

Systems produce results. The Stanford Prison Experiment showed how taking a group of college students, randomizing them into guards and prisoners produces competitive, win/lose, power over systems. The Fannie Mae incentive bonus system for senior leaders showed how the organization lied, cheated, and stole to insure their chiefs got their bonuses.

What other systems exist that distort behavior to the greater societal loss? Campaign finance is one. Fannie Mae’s corporate little brother, Freddie Mac, did major political influence buying to the point of a $3.8 million Federal Election Commission fine in 2006. Freddie Mac donated $6.6 million in the 2000 & 2002 election cycles, 57% to Republican and 43% to Democrats. What did that buy them?

As the Fannie Mae example clearly shows, bad systems produce unseemly results. The people are now well aware of the rampant corporate influence buying in our hallowed halls of government. Those same halls now push incentive systems that distort the organizations educating our children and healing our citizens. Can things get any worse from a leadership standpoint? I am afraid to consider the possible answers to that question….

Israeli Prime Minister Olmert’s Itinerary

Dear President Bush,

It is good to see you enacting your promises of transparency in publishing Ehud Olmert, the Israeli leader’s itinerary.

Monday, May 22nd

Dinner with Sec. of State Condoleeza Rice & National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley. Mr. Olmert plans to discuss the joint U.S. Israel isolation and starvation of Palestinian leadership. They will laugh over the releasing funds for health and medicine, most of which comes from the Palestinian’s own tax dollars. Parties to the dinner will run around throwing Israeli interest money in the air. They may leave some of it on the ground as it is earned from a Palestinian escrow account. AIPAC, an Israeli lobbying group will pick up the dinner tab.

Tueday May 23rd

Meet with Sec. of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld. Prime Minister Olmert will speak with Sec. Rumsfeld about dismantling Iran’s nuclear capability. They will compare photographs and other evidence that Iran is simply months away from producing a nuclear weapon. Sec. Rumsfeld will share Iranian neighbors’ reaction to U.S. advice that they prepare for a retaliatory attack from Iran. Then they will get shit faced drunk and throw darts at pictures of President Ahmadinejad as that is step 3 in the set of procedures for a pre-emptive attack on a sovereign country.

Meet with President Bush. The U.S. President will join the pair during the dart throwing session. Mr. Olmert will sound out the leader of the apparently free world on Isreal’s unilateral plans to force a two state solution. The Israeli government is withholding Palestinian tax money, planning to annex historical Palestinian lands, and not willing to talk to any Palestinian leader, current or past about the roadmap to peace. Mr. Olmert will pull out the roadmap, set it on fire, and use it to light the cigars he, Bushy and Rummy will smoke. A photo of the newly elected Hamas leader will be added to the dart board and another round of drinks for all! Near the end of the meeting President Bush will look under the podium for those Iranian nuclear weapons. Rummy and Ehud will roar in back slapping laughter. As they finish the meeting the box for step 3 in the escalation to pre-emptive attack is checked off.

Wednesday, May 24th

Met with Vice President Dick Cheney. Mr. Olmert will show up wearing blaze orange for his meeting with the V.P. at Camp David. After leaving the Prime Minister alone in the woods, V.P. Cheney will pop out from behind a tree guns ablazing. He will be using blanks and both parties will have a deep belly laugh over the Veep’s hijinks. After lunch and a few beers they will get down to the serious business of exchanging information on the effectiveness of various torture techniques. Both men will get that creepy smile at some point during the discussion. No media is allowed as that would scare the populace. Fear of recalcitrant Arabs and prancing homosexuals is O.K., fear of American and Israeli leaders is not to be allowed. A lobbyist from AIPAC will pick up the lunch and make a large donation to each leader’s political party

Meet with Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert. Mr. Olmert will briefly meet with the Speaker of the House. This is a perfunctory move to allow AIPAC to make large donations to the Republican Party, specifically to all the Congresspersons up for re-lection in November. Mr. Hastert will hand out the checks as the next item on the agenda is conducted. AIPAC will pick up the 7 course brunch symbolic of the gorging politicians do at election time.

Speak with a Joint Meeting of Both Chambers of Congress. This is a transparent check passing opportunity. Mr. Olmert will make several subtle requests in return for those large campaign donations. Denny Hastert, wearing a pink pig nose, will circulate through the chamber passing out those baby Jesus gifts. Mr. Olmert will end his talk by officially announcing the name of Jack Abramoff’s replacement.

It is good to see your renewed commitment to transparency. I wish you luck with the very difficult situation of Israel, Palestine, and Iran especially now that the vehicles are completely off the roadmap to peace.

P.S. The itinerary is complete fiction, at least the content. Should any of that express itself in reality it would be a matter of statistical probability or coincidence.

Monday, May 22, 2006

The Wordsmith “Enterprise”

Dear President Bush,

It appears your wordsmiths are working extra hard today to get the right heading for your Iraq political progress perspective. The title has changed 3 times in a few short hours. I imagine the scene to look something like this:

(Startrek theme plays in background, fading out as camera pans in)

Sulu: Captain, we are picking up a negative ion field over Baghdad, Iraq. It is simultaneously spreading rapidly over the continental United States.

Captain Kirk: Thank you Mr. Sulu, any sign of the field anywhere else?

Sulu: No, Captain just in those two spots.

Captain Kirk: Spock, analysis?

Spock: The cloud seems to be emanating from people watching a talk by the President of the United States. I am currently analyzing the transmission.

Captain Kirk: Make it fast Spock, the cloud is growing outward towards space and the ship is in danger.

Spock: I am doing the best I can, Captain. Ah, it appears the President used the word “incremental” to describe progress in Iraq. The Iraqi people are upset with each other and with the Americans, many of which they consider to be occupiers. The Iraq cloud is significant but stable. The American cloud is slightly different in nature. The people there seem to be upset they spent nearly $1 trillion dollars for “incremental” improvements. Well, they seem to have a rational point. This cloud is growing rapidly. Captain, the negative ion field is fast approaching the ship.

Captain Kirk: Mr. Sulu, shields up. Divert all main power to the shields. Mr. Spock hail the American President.

The first negative ion wave washes over the ship and its force field causing the crew in the bridge to clutch to their seats.

Scotty: Captain, we took quite a blow. Shields are down to 50%.

Captain Kirk: We have to stop the negative ion field at its source. Spock have you got the U.S. President yet?

Spock: Yes, Captain. (President Bush appears on the screen)

Captain Kirk: Mr. President, I will be brief. You have a rapidly growing negative ion field emanating from people watching your speech. Apparently the word incremental is not going over well. Might I suggest some alternative wording for you to try?

President Bush: Huh, hey Harriet! It’s Captain Kirk, come in here and look at this! He thinks my use of the word "incremental" regarding Iraq is stirring up some type of cosmic storm. Now that’s a laugher. Harriet, the Captain suggests I use another word. Doesn’t he know we pay the brightest minds to craft our messages? Karl came up with that one himself and we all know what a genius the Roveman is.

Captain Kirk: Mr. President, apparently your wordsmiths bombed this time. I am hailing you from the WordSmith Enterprise. We are from the future and have more sophisticated technology as to what works message wise. You bombed with incremental.

President Bush: No, Captain you have it wrong. The bombing is another story. We publicly warned Iran’s neighbors to take appropriate defensive measures should the U.S. open up a can of whup ass on Iran.

Another wave of negative ions slams into the Enterprise

Captain Kirk: Listen, Mr. President, my ship and crew are getting slammed, much like your current approval ratings. I need you to try some different words. I know you can’t go back and change the speech but you can instruct the media to use different headings. Those might stem the growth of the negative ion cloud. First use, the word “gradual” instead of incremental.

President Bush: O.K. I’ll see what I can do. Harriet, can you call Tony Snow and get the media to shift to “gradual”?

As the changes are made, Spock monitors the situation. Shields are down to 30%

Mr. Sulu: Captain, the cloud seems to be expanding again. It looks like we are going to take another hit.

The bridge rocks violently ejecting most crew members from their seats.

Captain Kirk: Scotty, damage report.

Scotty: Captain we’ve lost the main power and have switched to impulse power. I am not sure we can survive another blow. So much for our plans to sit back in rocking chairs someday and reflect on our time working together!

Captain Kirk: Hold on Scotty! Give me all she has! We will sit in that rocker. Ahura, hail the U.S. President.

President Bush: Hi Captain, did the "gradual progress" go over any better?

Captain Kirk: Sorry, Mr. President it too bombed. I have saved our most powerful words for such an occasion. Try “Slowly reaching turning point” and implement on my mark. Five, four, three, two, one, release to all media sources!

Spock: Captain it appears to be working. The cloud over America is dissipating. It is an optimistic country and just needed some optimistic language.

Captain Kirk: Scotty, it appears we will get to rock on after all!

Mr. President: Captain, thank you for helping stem this problem. Might I be able to call on the WordSmith Enterprise again in the future? With the litany of difficult issues, many of which I created, I could sure use the help.

Captain Kirk: Sorry, Mr. President, our role is normally just to observe. I intervened in this case as the ship and crew were in danger. Our plans are to study intelligent life forms and to be frank, you just don’t qualify…

The closing theme to Star Trek plays in the background

Plans to Put OB/GYN’s in Those 1,500 Counties?

Dear President Bush,

Did I fall through the rabbit hole to some bizarre world where up is down and down is up? I hear you say you will handle and fix problems yet they remain. Two examples include the Border Patrol’s other than Mexican “catch and release” program and the “kind of the dual eligible problem” with the new Medicare prescription drug program. Despite promises to fix them, both issues remain virtually untouched.

Then I hear you share another statistic, one that likely isn’t even a major problem. To push your liability reform proposals you repeatedly slap people with the red herring of “1,500 counties have no OB/GYN doctor!” Why would I suggest it to be fictional problem? Because I live smack in the middle of 20 of such counties and know every county in America does not need their own OB/GYN. Some smaller hospitals are well served by family practitioners trained to deliver most babies. High risk mothers and infants are identified early and referred to the nearest OB/GYN for their prenatal care and delivery.

Despite having nearly 30% of the people in our area without health insurance, the system ensures access to care for pregnant women and their children. Area OB/GYN doctors rarely see any true drop ins, women with no prenatal care, prior to delivery. How might that change with the spate of legislation ensuring only true blooded American citizens get health care benefits?

Your crackerjack health economic team likely has a handle on that, so write me back and let me know their analysis. On second thought don’t. As I am already disoriented, it would not be helpful to have another “up is down, down is up” assessment of reality. I currently disagree with them on the impact of health savings accounts.

Rather than making the doctor patient relationship stronger for many patients, HSA’s will blow the relationship out of the water. My guess is many more than 1,500 doctors will retire to avoid the hassles of Bush medicine. Growing self pay accounts will put tremendous pressure on both individual physicians and safety net hospitals such than some will voluntarily quit, while others have to close their doors.

Other Governments (but Ours) Should Be Uncorrupt & Transparent!

Dear President Bush,

In what appears to be Biblical level hypocrisy, the United States suggests other nations stand against corruption and for transparent government. When I finally pulled myself from the floor chest aching from a seemingly interminable belly laugh, I pondered why does the average American swallow your swill?

Are they not aware of the Presidential memorandum issued May 5th delegating your powers of super secrecy to the National Intelligence Director. By simply saying “Simon Says 15 U.S.C. 78m(b)(3)(A)” you and Mr. John Negroponte can order anyone to lie for national security reasons. It allows corporations to conceal activities related to national security. It is funny how numerous phone companies changed their “story” after this presidential edict.

As for transparency, I have yet to hear back as to why LifeCare and its corporate parent were left out of the White House Lessons Learned report? One would think 24 patient deaths would mean top billing, but when one considers the “A list” of political insiders on the Carlyle roster, an omission looks more like a personal favor. My guess is their defense attorneys appreciate the “no mention” as they enter civil court for those wrongful death lawsuits. When did your Dad last do work for Carlyle?

Baby Jesus Gorged on Campaign Money Trough?

Dear President Bush,

I am afraid I now have nearly seen it all. In an attempt to justify the American democratic campaign finance “system”, a North Carolina State Legislator invoked the Biblical story of Christ’s birth.

"Even baby Jesus accepted gifts and I don't believe it corrupted him.”—Rep. Drew Saunders

Apparently individual, corporate, and PAC donations are simply the modern day equivalents of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Does this mean Jack Abramoff’s relatives had a ringside seat to the event as they were staying in the inn? After all Jesus was born a Jew….

Could things get any more twisted? The Prince of Peace now favors pre-emptive war and the good baby Jesus celebrates a little gift “bling bling” like all faithful democratic officials. The wordsmiths, also known as the modern day money changers, have been hard at work. I suggest they be tossed out as tradition requires. That includes you as one of the purveyors of distortions….

Nearly $1 Trillion Spent on “Incremental” Progress in Iraq, Venezuela & Bolivia Next?

Dear President Bush,

You are in one tough position having to justify the loss of American soldiers and our huge expenditures in Iraq while trying to minimize future expectations. With high costs in both lives and dollars, people naturally question the value of the effort. Calling the progress incremental swings the pendulum to the "not worth it" side of the value equation, at least in my mind. No, it is not a glass half full, half empty thing nor is my position coming from a “Sad Sack” mentality. I just don’t think it is worth it, especially for incremental progress.

What does concern me is your language regarding Bolivia and Venezuela, acting as if they are not democracies due to “erosion”. Both leaders have been democratically elected. You don’t like their left of center policies and their blustery, defiant Presidents who relish thumbing their noses at the United States and its heavy handed international policies.

While I may have similar concerns about the United States inconsistent and selfish behavior relative to other countries, I believe one can govern their country well with having to make another group “the dastardly villain”, a strategy you have perfected with the Axis of Evil. President’s Morales and Chavez would benefit from toning down their inflammatory rhetoric.

My concern is they are playing into your game. Are the two South American leaders unaware of the CIA backed overthrow of an Iranian democracy in 1954 after their President nationalized part of the Iranian oil industry? Dwight Eisenhower ordered the CIA to engineer a coup on behalf of a British oil company. How far will you go for Exxon/Mobile and Chevron/Texaco?

"Let me just put it bluntly: I'm concerned about the erosion of democracy in" Venezuela and Bolivia, Bush said.

When Western companies can’t get their oil and gas, is it time to lock and load? We have a history of doing such a thing and you have a history as a corporate oil man. It sounds like a dangerous combination for the two caballeros….

Bush Dredges up Cindy Sheehan Language on Iraq!

Dear President Bush,

I saw you recycled language previously associated with Cindy Sheehan for the new Iraqi government.

"The formation of a unity government in Iraq is a new day for the millions of Iraqis who want to live in peace," Bush said. "And the formation of the unity government in Iraq begins a new chapter in our relationship with Iraq."

Does this mean you are with them or against them? In referring to Cindy Sheehan’s plight you used similar language last summer.

President Bush said he thought that most mothers, regardless of their religion, would prefer to live in peace rather than violence.

At the same time the nation saw the Bush attack arm vilify Mrs. Sheehan. What do you have in store for the Iraqi people? Should they worry about being arrested for wearing the wrong t-shirt? Or do you have something more sinister in store for them like ensuring the people’s oil profits end up in the hands of newly elected political leaders?

Could it signify a shift toward Cindy’s suggestion, bringing all troops home from Iraq? Prime Minister Blair suggested all reasons for insurgency had been eliminated with the swearing in of the new government. As some fight to get foreign troops off their soil, is Mr. Blair foreshadowing troop withdrawals with his comments? Were that true, the irony would be delicious….

U.S. Military Achieves Objective despite “Collateral Damage”

Dear President Bush,

The War on Terror just added a few more notches to its belt bagging up to 80 Taliban fighters in Southern Afghanistan. Regrettably 30-50 civilians were killed or wounded in the assault. Taliban fighters sought refuge in a religious compound but fled to people’s homes after the madrassa came under assault. The mud brick homes provided no match for the aircraft dropped bombs.

A villager, Zurmina Bibi, cradled her wounded 8-month-old. She said about 10 people were killed in her home, including three or four children. "There were dead people everywhere," she said, crying.

In classic Bush tradition, officials blamed the victims and minimized the “pessimistic view”. A local government official said “don’t provide shelter for the Taliban” while the U.S. military spokesman minimized the negative aspects of the event:

U.S. military spokesman Col. Tom Collins said, "It's common that the enemy fights in close to civilians as a means to protect its own forces. "We targeted a Taliban compound and we're certain we hit the right target," he told The Associated Press.

Is there a big hurrah in the White House over this? Are you and military leaders celebrating the bright side of the attack? As General Franks said soldier deaths are the price of American security. Are the deaths of Afghan civilians part of that price as well? If so, how might the survivors of the U.S. air strike feel? Might they hold hatred in their heart for their attackers?

As General Michael Hayden noted the total number of terrorists has grown since you started your War on Terror. How will this bombing express itself over time? Up to 80 Taliban killed but how many more Taliban will grow from this one event? I am sure you have your crackerjack administration working on this as you like data.

Ooops, I forgot the military does not track civilian deaths or woundings! Oh well.....

Bush Plans to Deal with “Kind of the Dual Eligible Problem”?

Dear President Bush,

Just today one of the citizens you serve wrote to you about their plight under the new Medicare Prescription drug program. Excerpts from the letter are below:

Dear President Bush,
I am writing to you in regards to your Medicare prescription plan. I am here to inform you that your plan in only hurting me. I have Lupus, Addison's Disease, Hypothyroidism, I have had 7 back surgeries due to the lupus, I have progressive degenerative disc disease, and my pitutitary gland has completely shut down. So needless to say I am on approximately $1500's worth of medicine a month. Before your plan I only had to meet a $300 a month spend-down which my doctor appointments, therapy, etc...helped me make my spend down so it wasn't actually out of pocket.

Then the federal government took over. Now I am in worse shape. First, I only had to pay $0 for generic and $3 to $5 for brand names until I reached a certain point. Now I pay $2 for all generic and $5 to ? for brand names. When I reach another point I will have to pay %5 of what ever that prescription is. That may not sound like much to you but when a lot of my medicines are $200 and $300's a month you figure it out.

Besides that there are several of my medications they have even completely denied that the state Medicaid approved. Yes, they state that certain prescriptions can be added to my plan but can you imagine how long that takes. I have 3 prescriptions that have been since April waiting for approval now. One of them is a medication for seizures and another is for a pain patch for my back.

One last important issue here is the fact that I can actually go into withdrawal if I don't receive my medication like I am suppose to. I was actually hospitalized a couple of years ago because I didn't meet my spend-down and went into withdrawal. It wasn't a very pleasant feeling. I actually thought I was going crazy.

Mr. President, I was a very useful individual. I was a Medical Assistant with an Associate Degree. I actually took one semester from a hospital bed in my living room at home after one of my back surgeries. They were VCR classes and I had healed enough at the end of the semester to go in and take my finals. I miss working with patients but the way the system is I can't even work part-time without losing my benefits. I have so much to offer but too much to lose. I just wanted to let you know that your new system is not working it is hurting the ones that are really ill.

Jeffersonville , IN

How can this happen when last fall you said “The days of low-income seniors having to make painful sacrifices to pay for their prescription drugs are now coming to an end.”? How come they haven’t come to an end for this person? Did you purposefully lie or were you unaware of the program’s benefit design? Did Sec. Leavitt not tell you what he told the Governors “I want to be very clear about this. Congress clearly intended for states to get significant savings as a result of the Medicare law.” Did Secretary Leavitt know Jeffersonville would be one of the people helping the State of Indiana save money?

In February you acknowledged the problem in a speech in OhioAnd you probably read about kind of the dual- eligible problem. I don't know if you've had that problem here in Ohio, Governor. We're dealing with it. Our job is to solve problems when they arise.”

So, how did you solve the dual eligible problem? Whatever you did, it has not made its way down to the person who wrote you? When you write this Jeffersonville back will you include your compassionate concern for dual eligibles? Is Jeffersonville just another one of those “Sad Sacks” taking a pessimistic view on life? Will you encourage that person to cheer up and look at the bright side of your administration’s accomplishments?

In March you reiterated no one should be in Jeffersonville’s shoes, “They're on a fixed income. They've got now a prescription drug benefit. They don't have to make the awful choice between food, electricity and prescription drugs.”

The cold hard facts include your administration purposefully designing and implementing a program that hurts poor elderly and disabled people previously covered by Medicare and Medicaid. You left it up to the states to decide whether they will use any of their $1 billion to $8 billion in savings over 5 years to help out Jeffersonville. Will you include that in your reply letter? I already know the answer as the White House does not reply, except in the rarest of instances. This is my 1,122 letter to you and I have received 4 replies. I wish Jeffersonville better luck as their issue involves life and death.

Gen. Tommy Franks Said "Soldier Deaths Price for Security”, General Michael Hayden Says “More Terrorists Today”

Dear President Bush,

Two of your biggest supporters and defenders appear to be contradicting each other on progress on the War on Terror. Retired General Tommy Franks spoke to 3,000 members of the National Rifle Association about the price Americans pay for security.

"What we're talking about is neither 2,400, 24,000 or 240,000 lives," Franks said at the National Rifle Association's annual banquet. "Terrorism is a thing that threatens our way of life. It doesn't have anything to do with politics."

He went on to make the point of making the country secure to preserve the American way of life. After four years one might expect huge progress in defeating “terror that has nothing to do with politics”. Yet, in his recent confirmation hearings General Michael Hayden said the number of terrorists has grown!

It also struck me as odd the parallels between “terrorism” which uses fear as tactic and politics which does likewise. In our country politicians use fear of taxes, unnecessary intrusions in the right to own weapons and property, moral depravity, Islamic Jihadists, activist judges, gay people, gay parenting, illegal immigrants crossing our southern border, non-Christians, Mad Cow disease, and rational scientific explanations already covered by "the Good Book".

Flipping the coin other U.S. political leaders use fear of loss of morals in Oval Office, Christian Dominionists, the Religious Rights carte blanche access to the White House, pre-emptive war, teaching religious science, government underpants monitoring, the loss of reproductive rights and choices, free and open access to assault weapons, and unchecked secret spying on Americans here at home.

At the end of his speech to the NRA faithful, Ret. General Franks said he thinks about going into those very politics that have nothing to do with fear. If he does will he represent the NRA which motivates it members with phrases like “From my cold dead hands…..”? Remember ______ does not kill people, people do. Is that “guns” or “terror”?

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Israel Moving to Check Mate, U. S. Hand Clearly on the Pieces

Dear President Bush,

Were this a game of chess, the fully equipped Israeli side is getting ready to mow down its opponent, a series of Palestinian pawns. With U.S. support in starving the democratically elected Palestinian leadership of funding, Israel is ready to apply the finishing touches. The most recent moves include:

Israel cuts off tax payments to Palestinian authority as Hamas won elections. Hamas rejects the world’s demands to renounce violence and accept the right of Israel to exist. Hospitals are unable to buy supplies and medicines. Israel cuts off gasoline for Palestinian territories.

The Palestinian people suffer and begin to fight amongst themselves. Sporadic violence erupts between Hamas and Fatah political groups. Israel’s Prime Minister refuses to meet with any Palestinian leader as Hamas is a terrorist group and President Abbas cannot even control his own government. Israel releases $11 million of Palestinian tax money for medical supplies, holding onto the remaining $44 million.

Israel’s Defense Ministry approves expansion of 4 West Bank settlements in violation its commitments in the U.S. backed road map to peace. Israel plans unilateral withdrawal from West Bank and not withdrawing to the 1967 borders. Israel wants the U.S. to compensate it for “lost territory” by providing extra aid. Israeli Foreign Minister says road map peace plan remained in force. Abbas said Israel and Palestine must restore regular contact and work toward resuming peace talks.

Israel announces Iran is only months away from producing a nuclear weapon. Israel is not a signatory to the nuclear non-proliferation agreement having developed its arsenal of nuclear weapons on the QT.

Israel’s Prime Minister Olmert is delegating several tasks to you as he prepares to visit the U.S. One, Ehud expects you would “lead other nations in taking the necessary measures to stop Iran from becoming a nuclear power.” And two, it wants your support for unilateral action in creating the Palestinian territory.

Meanwhile, Arab leaders suggest your Palestinian strategy is off track and will make matters worse. You responded in your usual defensive manner.

Your wife told graduates of Roger Williams University “not to ignore the world”. Would she have them ignore the plight of the Palestinian people? Would she have them observe the one/two setup on Palestinians courtesy of the U.S. and Israel? What does Laura think of the two women and 4 year old boy killed by Israeli assassin missiles yesterday? Does she think the world has had enough intentional violence, death and destruction?

If so, you might want to work on collaborating with other leaders instead of challenging them with inflammatory rhetoric. A recent domestic example came from your speech at the Republican Spring Gala. If you can’t lead on behalf of all Americans, how can you lead on behalf of all people across the globe? It’s like the Gatorade commercial, “Is it in You?” Apparently collaboration is not in you……

Media Crackdown Coming

Dear President Bush,

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales indicated the Justice Department would pursue reporters responsible for publishing classified information. What is the state's interest in controlling the media?

The world just saw the Egyptian riot police crackdown against peaceful democratic demonstrators. The media in Egypt is state owned, meaning that which the state does not like doesn’t get printed. Is the U.S. headed in a similar direction?

Just days ago you expressed your concerns about the Egyptian crackdown. Combine Mr. Gonzales new position with your admonitions that democracy involves freedom of the press and what do you have? The end result is a U.S. media crackdown, one driven by law.

The beauty is all the government has to do is classify information. Then it is off limits to the media. As data shows your administration to be the most secretive in terms of classified document volume, what information will the media be able to share?

Manage the message and you manage the people, well most of the people. Some can see through the manipulations to the underlying code……

Coming soon to a theater near you “The Democratixx

Since U.S. Doesn’t Torture, Why the Defense to the U.N. Recommendations?

Dear President Bush,

As America does not torture, implementing the U.N. recommendations should be no problem, a piece of cake for our transparent government. The Committee Against Torture found several concerns about U.S. treatment of detainees. John Bellinger III, a State Department attorney admitted “some acts of abuse had occurred in the past” before blasting the reports conclusions.

While he may argue over the detailed findings, there should be no problem with implementing the recommended improvements. They fit with Mr. Bellinger’s other comments regarding the U.S. taking steps to prevent any repeats of abuse and “we take our obligations under the convention seriously”.

In that spirit I am sure you will work hard to implement the Committee Against Torture’s next steps. The committee recommended in its 11-page report that the US should:

1. Register all those it detains in territories under its jurisdiction
2. Eradicate torture and ill-treatment of detainees
3. Not send suspects to countries where they face a risk of torture
4. Enact a federal crime of torture
5. Broaden the definition of acts of psychological torture

The committee also said the U.S. no comment position on secret prisons is regrettable. How is the Committee Against Torture to do its job with a possible offender refusing to answer the question? How would the International Atomic Energy Agency feel if Iraq had a no comment policy on nuclear weapons development?

Please write me back and explain how a country can ignore its obligations under an international treaty and then be defensive when a critical report is issued. And please specify if you are referring to the U.S. or Iran.

Bush & Rice “Love to Close” Gitmo

Dear President Bush,

I find it interesting that just months after saying government cannot love, the U.S. federal government can love after all! Both you and Sec. Rice said recently you would love to close Guantanamo Bay. OK, maybe you didn’t use the exact word love. You said "I would very much like" and Condi said "delighted", but the meaning is there. As compassionate people it breaks your heart to detain people indefinitely and it pains you that people wish each other such harm.

That compassion does not appear to run deep. Your administration is directly responsible for “enemy combatant” policies, legal limbo, harsh treatment, and brutal detention of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. The other day you attempted to put responsibility on the Supreme Court for “the delay” in prisoners getting justice. It is convenient that those “activist judges” are nearby to serve as the scapegoat.

Sec. Rice asked what are we to do with prisoners at Guantanamo as this is “a dilemma”? We charge them with crimes, give them a trial, offer proof of their al-Qaeda associations, and trust the appropriate measure of justice will be applied.

The recent prisoner revolt at Gitmo proves the prisoners are dangerous in the same way randomized college students in the Stanford Prison experiment revolting proves American college kids are dangerous. A dehumanizing system produces predictable results.

What I find interesting is the timing and the larger scope of the attack. The U.S. knew the U.N. Committee Against Torture would be releasing its report the end of last week. Did they plan to manage the information such that the U.S. perspective would overshadow the expected U.N. criticism? Did guards let up a bit, allowing prisoners to hoard medications, to accumulate contraband, to store up feces and urine?

I find it interesting that “the most violent outbreak” in 4 years at Guantanamo Bay occurred the day before the U.N. report called for closing the facility. What is the statistical probability of that occurring? Wouldn’t the risk of a revolt be greater when the facility housed nearly 300 more prisoners, when those enemy combatants were fresher both physically and mentally?

Secretary Rice said the U.S. works nearly every day to return prisoners to their native lands. What she failed to mention is we don’t work every day to get that valuable 4 year old intelligence from the remaining 460 dangerous prisoners. Due to a shortage of translators only 25% of the prisoners are currently under interrogation.

Sec. Rice also failed to mention the U.S. record of correctly identifying dangerous persons. Chinese Muslims were found years ago of not having any association with al Qaeda, yet linger at the facility. She omitted America’s other well know error. A German citizen absconded by the CIA was taken to Afghanistan interrogated, tortured and abused.

The federal government has the responsibility to show its case, deliver the proof in a courtroom for anyone it detains. It has a duty to give those it mistreats their day in court, otherwise, it acts like the very dictators it eschews.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Bush’s Friends in the Middle East?

Dear President Bush,

You may need to change your motto from “if you are not with us, you are against us” as your friends in the Middle East appear not to be with you. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak just accused you of having double standards by ignoring Israeli nuclear weapons while getting your undies in a bunch over the prospect of Iran having same.

King Abdullah of Jordan is encouraging you to take the lead in bartering your two state solution for the Israel/Palestine conflict. He requests you explore all opportunities vs. turning away from a rapidly deteriorating situation. Jordan is the home of millions of refugees from prior wars.

Earlier in the week Prince Saud of Saudi Arabia suggested your strategies in Israel and Palestine would only make matters worse. He toned down his prophecy after a summons from the White House.

Your friends may think different that you and wanting to help, give you advice. With your current motto, you could think they are against you. In that case, you may wish to change your motto to “One who is not against me, is with me.” It might keep us from having to take everybody on. Think about it…..

Modern Day Money Changers Manage Guantanamo Bay Media Information

Dear President Bush,

Your wordsmiths, the modern day money changers, have been working hard to manage the public information on the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. Two weeks ago the United Nation’s Committee Against Torture conducted hearings on Guantanamo Bay. Very little information came through American media sources on the two day event.

A friend gave me an update and from her perspective it sounded like any Bush appointee dodging questions about a secret program. One could insert Mr. Gonzales, Sec. Rice, Vice President Cheney (energy strategy), and the most recent General Michael Hayden, but in the case of Guantanamo that “mouth moving with no substance” appointee was Mr. John Bellinger III. Also not mentioned was a previous admission of torture at the Cuban facility.

Before a more detailed look at events, consider the following recent chronology.

January 16, U.N. Committee Against Torture issues preliminary report on Guantanamo
May 5 & 8, U.N. Committee Against Torture Hearings
May 18, Fifteen Saudi’s released from Guantanamo Bay, transferred to their home country
May 18, Prisoners conduct coordinated attack, two attempt suicide
May 19, Report from U.N. Committee Against Torture Released
May 19, Mr. Bellinger discredits report

Scripps Howard News Service gave this summary of the Committee’s report:

U.N. panel wants Guantanamo Bay prison closed

The United Nations' Committee Against Torture recommended Friday that the United States shut down its terrorist prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and avoid using any secret prisons in the war on terror. The panel also said that any foreign prisoners under U.S. control should not be returned to any country where they face a risk of torture. The committee, which held a hearing in Geneva this month, said it feared the United States was holding detainees for indefinite periods with few or no legal safeguards. At issue is whether Washington has violated the 1984 U.N. Convention Against Torture, which America had signed.

U.S. Reaction to the Report

The United States expressed disappointment with the committee report, which was based on two sessions this month with a 25-member delegation of officials from Washington and hundreds of pages of U.S. documents.

"It's unfortunate that they don't appear to have read a good deal of that information or have ignored it, and as a result there are a number of both factual inaccuracies and legal misstatements about the law applicable to the United States," said State Department legal adviser John B. Bellinger III.

The U.N. committee also said detainees should not be handed over to any country where they could face a "real risk" of being tortured.

Bellinger, who led the U.S. delegation at the panel hearings, said it was not "practical" to recommend that Guantanamo be closed but insist that prisoners should not be sent to a large number of countries. "So it's not exactly clear what they think ought to happen to these individuals," he said.

Tony Snow, your press secretary made similar points to Mr. Bellinger saying the U.N had been invited to the facility and the U.S. follows all American laws. I would like to explore those two themes in more depth.

Applicable U. S. Law

Why do Mr. Bellinger and Snow refer to the law applicable to the United States vs. its commitments stemming from the U.N. Convention Against Torture to which it is a signatory?

Anyone who say the military brass conduct its 3 Stooges imitation in Congressional testimony last summer on its handling of prisoners, knows “the law” is clear as mud. Throw a Presidential signing statement upon Congress’ most recent “no torture” legislation and the mud thickens considerably.

Secretary Rumsfeld drove this point home before the Senate Appropriations Committee Defense subcommittee just this week! Wednesday he stated “officials are at odds over whether a new Army manual should endorse different interrogation techniques for enemy insurgents than are allowed for regular prisoners of war.”

The debate hinges on whether suspected terrorists or other insurgents can be treated more severely than captured members of an enemy army. There are concerns such a distinction could fly in the face of a law enacted last year, pressed by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., that explicitly banned cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of prisoners by U.S. troops.

"There is a debate over the difference between a prisoner of war under the Geneva Convention and an unlawful combatant in a situation that is different from the situation envisioned by the Geneva Convention," Rumsfeld told the Senate Appropriations Committee's defense subcommittee. "And those issues are being wrestled with at the present time."

Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., pressed Rumsfeld on whether there will be one uniform standard for interrogations, which he said was the intent of McCain's legislation. And he asked whether the manual would allow anything that "would be considered unlawful if it were employed against American service members?"

Rumsfeld did not say whether there would be one uniform standard. Rumsfeld said a draft of the new manual has been circulated in recent weeks, and there have been meetings with members of Congress to discuss it.

The summer of 2005 certainly wasn’t the launching point for the military’s wrestling with the prisoner treatment issue. Army Captain Ian Fishback did not like what he saw in the field and pressed the chain of command for a definitive position. Based on his experience, Ian believed the abuse of prisoners to be military policy and systematic in contrast to Sec. Donald Rumsfeld’s stated position the U.S. followed Geneva Conventions in Iraq. After a year and a half of failure in getting his superior’s attention, the captain went to Veteran Senator John McCain for assistance.

Captain Fishback wrote “I would rather die fighting than give up the smallest part of the idea that is America”. Based on recent events it appears your administration would rather die fighting to turn torture into a “bubared” mess, such that no one really knows what is going on, be it Congress or the United Nations. You recall bubar means Bushed Up Beyond All Recognition”.

U.N. Torture Expert Invite

Would you allow Iran to host Nuclear Weapons inspectors without full and free access to all applicable sites? The U.S. essentially closed off key areas necessary for a complete torture assessment by refusing them access to the detainees. For this reason the experts chose not to waste their time. Of course, Tony Snow failed to mention this constraint placed on U.N. inspectors by your administration. You better hope President Ahmadinejad has not been watching and learning from you!

I will leave you with a few final questions:

a. Does the military after two years of struggling, finally have a definition of torture?

b. Was the prisoner riot a fortuitous event in that it showed the danger posed by those in captivity or was it engineered, allowed to happen?

c. Were the Saudi’s purposefully released the day before the report as their host country is known for torturing people in its custody?

d. Were you just lucky that most American media sources combined the prison riot story and the U.N. criticism? Such a combination discounts the prisoners as they are “the worst of the worst”.

e. Had the Stanford Students in the prison experiment been subjected to Guantanamo Bay tactics how would they have responded?

f. Would you invoke your signing statement if the Stanford students in the experiment were thought to have information on the next terrorist attack?

Write me back, I want to know…