Monday, July 31, 2006

Bush Continues Pattern of Defending Aggression and Discounting Loss of Life

U.S. President George W. Bush ignored mounting international criticism of his position on the conflict in Lebanon. He discounted Middle Eastern leaders concerns and escalating language of retaliation. And these came from U.S. allies!

Even Senator Chuck Hagel grew impatient with the situation calling Israel’s pounding of Lebanon harmful to the United States position in the region. "The sickening slaughter on both sides must end now, this madness must stop."

Bush defends Israel while supplying it with weapons of mass destruction. The U.S. leader discounts world leader opinion for the Nth time in his usual maverick, go it alone way. But the worst pattern is Bush’s callous disregard for the loss of innocent lives.

Leaders know war means the death of innocents from bombs, bullets, fire and falling debris. They also are well aware of decreased survival from lack of food, safe water, and medical care. Yet they declare war anyway. Then they act all innocent when the women and children fall prey to the war machine.

It is all foreseeable, predictable. And it arises from the place that causes men to want their enemy defeated, dead, gone. President Bush, the War President lives in that place. He hears the call of the Red Horseman and does its bidding. Bush pretends to hear the call of the Son who said “they will train in the ways of war no more”. Yet George trains harder than ever, prodded by the War Horseman…

Israel Gunning for Broader Fight

After clearly hearing words of warning from its neighbors in the Middle East, the Israeli Cabinet thumbed its nose and declared a wider ground offensive in Lebanon. The news reported:

Israel's Security Cabinet early Tuesday approved widening the ground offensive, a participant said, and rejected a cease-fire until an international force is in place in southern Lebanon.

The participant, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to reporters, said Israel's air strikes would resume "in full force" after a 48-hour suspension expires in another day.

The U.S. had the same opportunity to hear the words of Iraqi, Egyptian and Jordanian leaders incensed by the senseless killings. Both Israel and the United States will pay for their support and conduct of aggression, the question is how? Will it just be higher oil and gas prices or will we also bear some of the human toll?

As the cycle of violence escalates, I wonder how did the state of world leadership get so pathological?

Israel Says No Cease Fire, Needs Weeks to Crush Hezbollah?

Israeli Prime Minister may be the only world leader not calling for a cease fire by the end of this week. U.S. President Bush indicated some movement in this direction in his remarks earlier today. Prime Minister Olmert said “There is no cease fire, there will be no cease fire…many days of fighting still await us.”

The Israeli leader gave a hollow apology for the loss of innocent lives in Qana. Of course he would not use the word innocent. Olmert and Company would call them terrorists or people who did not follow orders to leave. The challenges of evacuating on crater filled roads with little gasoline available while bombs fall around have been well chronicled by the media.

While Israel did not intend to kill the children, it was a very predictable event given the invaders policies. Mr. Olmert can say he is sorry from the bottom of his heart but I don’t believe he has one. No leader with a heart could unleash their savage war machine for “the unique opportunity to change the rules in Lebanon”. Yes, Mr. Olmert the children are simply chess pieces in your game.

How much longer will the Israeli offensive last? Will it go 2 or 3 more weeks? If so, that would have Israeli planes traveling north around the time of the Iranian nuclear reply is due to the United Nations. Iran will give its reply to the United Nations on August 22nd.

What happens if it’s the middle finger salute? Will fighter and bomber wings fly north into Lebanon before veering off to the East? Will their stealth technology give them the upper hand by avoiding detection as they speed toward Iranian nuclear facilities? Will their laser guided missiles find their targets buried deep underground? Will the Israeli war machine become the first to use nuclear weapons to prevent another country from developing that same technology?

The aggression continues for a reason that is likely much greater than two captured soldiers. Those have been avenged many times over already. Israel owes Lebanon billions of dollars in infrastructure. Will it owe Iran a nuclear power plant as well? Stay tuned.

How Do the Mentally Ill Get Their Weapons to Kill?

The news just reported the mentally ill Muslim who killed one person and wounded five in Seattle, Washington used two legally acquired semiautomatic pistols. How did Mr. Haq get these weapons as his lawyer noted his ten year severe case of bi-polar disorder?

Also authorities never explained how Mr. Lui in Arizona acquired his weapons. That gentleman randomly shot and killed two people in a suburban Phoenix Walmart parking lot last fall.

More often than killers the mentally ill are victims, their lives ended by officers unsure of how to manage the situation. Mr. Alpizar died in the Miami Airport last fall for this very reason. It is estimated that people with severe mental illness are 4 times more likely to be killed by police.

It seems critical to keep weapons out of the hands of the mentally ill for the safety of all involved. So how did Lui and Haq get their guns?

Phase II in Mobilizing the Embryo Voter

Karl Rove executes the 2006 Election Plan with precision. Just after calling the media “corrosive” to political professionals, the Strategist reveals a deal on emergency contraception guaranteed to mobilize voters come November.

Phase I of the plan to turn out embryo voters began with President Bush’s veto of a bill expanding stem cell lines available for federally funded research. This early foray ran into trouble when the American University in Beirut revealed it had frozen embryos which Bush did not do anything to protect. As American bombs fell around Beirut, federal funds endangered the very life the President promised to protect.

As a result, Karl quickly went to Phase II of the plan. In a game of political poker, the new candidate for FDA Chief would not receive a vote on his nomination unless Plan B got the got ahead from the Food and Drug Administration. The Strategist quickly accepted the framework of the deal, knowing he could use it to his political advantage. The mere mention of FDA discussions with the drug’s applicant will unglue the President’s base. They consider such a thing murder. God apparently is the largest murderer as most terminations happen without a drug or medical procedure.

Those murderous God loving embryo protectors will vote this November and it is clear Karl wants their vote. So y’all just give it to him! Will ya?

Second Blair End Run on Bush Policies in Weeks

British Prime Minister Tony Blair met with California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on creating a joint market for greenhouse gases. This is the second end run by Tony after meeting a Bush brick wall. The first occurred after President Bush’s 4 letter word, butter roll smacking escapade at the G-8 meeting.

After Bush refused calls for an immediate cease fire, Mr. Blair went straight to the U.N. Chief to get peacekeepers in the region ASAP. Nearly three weeks later President Bush remains committed to his original position despite world outrage over the mounting toll on innocent lives.

Now, Mr. Blair once again runs around President Bush on global warming. With his head buried in the ever hotter sand, Bush is missing the British P.M.’s dis. I suggest he pull it out as many Middle East leaders speak things our President needs to hear.

Bush After Tying U.N.’s Hands Wants It Responsible for Long Lasting Peace

U.N. Chief Kofi Annan must be spitting nails. Nearly three weeks after the revenge inspired Israeli war machine began pummeling the fledgling Lebanese democracy, the U.N. Security Council is yet to weigh in on the conflict. The intransigent United States refuses to support an immediate cease fire.

President Bush just gave the charge for long term peace in the region to very group it has held up, the United Nations. Bush indicated he would look to the United Nations to act to establish "a long-lasting peace, one that is sustainable."

Odd timing as a spate of United States allies just weighed in that a much wider peace process is severely at risk. Three leaders in the new Iraqi democracy spoke of the consequences to those nations blocking an immediate cease fire. The pioneering country in the region for peace with Israel, Egypt, just issued a warning that Israel’s aggression in Lebanon could threaten that 27 year old agreement.

Bush’s obstruction in order to gain a long-lasting peace actually has worked contrary to its ultimate goal. Why should I be surprised? Bush’s promise last fall that seniors would not have to choose between medicines, rent, food, or electricity had the same hollow ring. His use of “free markets” to deliver the new prescription drug benefit fails some 6 million poor and disabled seniors who pay more for their medications under the new plan.

What other method would a War President use to bring peace? After 6 years in office “the Uniter” finally showed up. Unfortunately President Bush is uniting the Middle East against us.

Middle East Uniting Against Bush

Leaders in the model Middle Eastern democracy of Iraq are speaking strongly against their liberators support of Israel. This predictable development occurs as the Bush team remains obstinate on an immediate cease fire to Israel’s attack of democratic Lebanon.

Several Iraqi leaders weighed in on the situation:

The Iraqi Vice President said "What happened in Qana is a repetition to these crimes that happened to our nation decades ago. It's time for this nation to stand up and stop this aggression and all forms of aggression that could affect any of its parts….These horrible massacres carried out by the Israeli aggression, incites in us the spirit of brotherhood and solidarity.”

Iraq's top Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, demanded an immediate cease-fire in Lebanon, warning that "Islamic nations will not forgive the entities that hinder a cease-fire," al-Sistani said, in a clear reference to the United States. ``It is not possible to stand helpless in front of this Israeli aggression on Lebanon,'' he added. ``If an immediate cease-fire in this Israeli aggression is not imposed, dire consequences will befall the region.''

President Jalal Talabani also addressed the gathering, expressing "sympathy and support to our brothers in Lebanon against the Israeli aggression. We support them in getting rid of the effects of this aggression and imposing their sovereignty.

What President Bush needs to note is the solidarity of both Sunni and Shiite leaders against Israel and the U.S. When the United States doesn’t understand the hearts and minds of its liberated, America’s leadership is either clueless or uncaring. In this current conflict in the Middle East, my vote is for both.

This is supported by the recent words of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarek.

"Egypt, which triggered the peace process, warns of the consequences of its collapse," Mubarak said in a nationwide televised statement. "The Israeli aggression undermines the opportunities to continue it and its success."

BuRice Using “Cease Fire” Language, Israelis Bombs Not Targeting Anything Specific

After 19 days of fierce attacks in Lebanon, the Israeli army committed to a 48 cessation of their aerial assault on their neighbor to the North. That lasted less than a day as Israel bombed an area near its soldiers for protection. The army said it was” not targeting anything or anyone specific.” That comment alone speaks for the Israelis targeting of a general area and its population.

In wording reminiscent of the Bush "rescue" response to Hurricane Katrina, the President and his Sec. of State are now using the "cease fire" word. While Americans screamed at their TV sets last summer for the suffering and dying to be rescued, this July world leaders scream at the United States as it is the only holdout on a call for an immediate cease fire.

Yet, Sec. Rice has the gall to say she would work on a cease fire at the U.N. Security Council when the United States has been an obstacle in that arena for almost 3 weeks. President Bush may get undercut by his partner in crime, Israel.

Israel's defense minister, Amir Peretz, told parliament that Israel would "expand and strengthen" its attack on Hezbollah. "It's forbidden to agree to an immediate cease-fire," Peretz said.

All the children’s blood will be on the hands of leaders from all sides. Innocents die because leaders are incapable of solving their problems in a nonviolent manner. How they fail their people. Why is this so prevalent today? And why are U.S. leaders so obstinate against pursuing peace by peaceful methods? Why do they continue to fail the children by killing many and teaching the living war?

Sunday, July 30, 2006

President Bush Fails Children Once Again

Just six days ago I encouraged President Bush to keep a picture of Lebanese children killed in conflict by his bed until a cease fire had been declared. Last night at least 34 children died at the hands of Israeli bombs. Today that same leader had the audacity to say:

"Today's actions in the Middle East remind us that friends and allies must work together for a sustainable peace particularly for the sake of children"

Nineteen days after the conflict began, President Bush continues to place innocent children’s lives at risk in his blocking of worldwide demands for an immediate cease fire. Who built the bombs the Israelis dropped last night? Were they in the rush order Bush approved just days ago? Who manufactured the planes that dropped the bombs? Who flew the planes the delivered their lethal cargo?

Leaders on both sides continue to fail the children. I can only attempt to influence the leader of my country. For the second time I write him, asking for an immediate cessation of intentional violence, death and destruction on behalf of our youth.

He says “May God bless those who lost their lives” and I say “May God show those who caused it, their ways of war should be no more”.

Rice Leaves Middle East Uniting Against U.S. & Israel

The repeated international calls for an immediate cease fire continue to fall on deaf ears. Lips grow angrier with each bombing taking innocent life. Over 50 Lebanese civilians, many children died last night at the hands of Israeli bombs, over 600 since the conflict exploded. Hezbollah rockets continue to kill innocent Israelis.

As a result Sec. Rice left the region with her tail between her legs. A planned meeting with Prime Minister Siniora did not occur. He again requested an immediate cease fire and an investigation into the night time raid that killed so many of his people.

The Pope summed it up with his call for an end to the intentional death and destruction.

"In the name of God, I appeal to all those responsible for this spiral of violence, so that they immediately put down their arms on all sides," the pope told pilgrims and tourists at his summer residence in Castel Gandolfo, on the outskirts of Rome. Pausing slightly, he repeated the word "immediately."

"I appeal to governing leaders and to international institutions not to spare any effort to obtain this necessary cessation of hostilities," the pontiff said.

Much of the international community has been calling for an immediate cease-fire, but Israel and the United States have resisted.

The Lebanese people are well aware of the obstructers of an immediate cease fire as more than 5,000 protested the killings in Central Beirut. Other international leaders weighed in on the tragedy.

French President Jacques Chirac's office said "France condemns this unjustifiable action, which shows more than ever the need to move toward an immediate cease-fire."

Jordan's King Abdullah II condemned "the ugly crime perpetrated by Israeli forces in Qana."

However the United Nations remains silent on the Israeli offensive other than the hand slap for killing 4 of its observers.

The Security Council has yet to take a stance on the fighting, in part because the United States has not called for a cessation of hostilities.

Secretary Rice came home as she needed to wash the blood off her hands.

Acid Karl Calls Journalists “Corrosive”

Karl Rove, the sulfuric acid dripping on America’s political machine, called the media “corrosive” is a recent speech. Karl’s divide and conquer election strategies never end in the world of the permanent campaign. His statement fits squarely in this framework with an election only 3 months away. It is an update on his prior “mainstream liberal media” harping. This resonates well with his conservative base.

Why is Karl really mad at the media? History shows Karl uses the media like a member of the world’s oldest profession that Sen. Chuck Grassley wants to tax. A legal case shows Mr. Rove’s role in the purposeful leaking of classified information for political gain. When the media won’t roll over for his nefarious schemes, they get called corrosive.

What happens when the White House won’t answer questions? Are they then combative? President Bush never wrote me back to explain why The Carlyle Group’s LifeCare Hospitals got a free pass in the Lessons Learned Report despite 24 patient deaths. The web is full of information on “The Wanta Plan”, yet the White House has said nothing on this matter. Neither question has been asked of Tony Snow or President Bush in a news conference, so the media can’t be all that corrosive.

In his speech Mr. Rove said “some decry the professional role of politics”. My concern is not people choosing politics as a profession. It is the methods political operatives like Karl use. The divide and demean our country.

My advice to Karl is the same I regularly give to President Bush, look deeply in the mirror before opening your mouth.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

La La Land, The State of Bush’s Mind

Reading a transcript of the Bush/Blair News Conference made me wonder where the U.S. President lives and where his mind resides. His response to the declining influence of America in the Middle East is below:

BUSH: It's an interesting period because, instead of having foreign policies based upon trying to create a sense of stability, we have a foreign policy that addresses the root causes of violence and instability.

For a while, American foreign policy was just, Let's hope everything is calm - kind of, managed calm. But beneath the surface brewed a lot of resentment and anger that was manifested on September the 11th.

And so we've taken a foreign policy that says: On the one hand, we will protect ourselves from further attack in the short run by being aggressive in chasing down the killers and bringing them to justice.

And make no mistake: They're still out there, and they would like to harm our respective peoples because of what we stand for.

In the long term, to defeat this ideology - and they're bound by an ideology - you defeat it with a more hopeful ideology called freedom.

And, look, I fully understand some people don't believe it's possible for freedom and democracy to overcome this ideology of hatred. I understand that. I just happen to believe it is possible. And I believe it will happen.

And so what you're seeing is, you know, a clash of governing styles.

For example, you know, the notion of democracy beginning to emerge scares the ideologues, the totalitarians, those who want to impose their vision. It just frightens them.

And so they respond. They've always been violent.

You know, I hear this amazing kind of editorial thought that says, all of a sudden, Hezbollah's become violent because we're promoting democracy. They have been violent for a long period of time. Or Hamas?

One reason why the Palestinians still suffer is because there are militants who refuse to accept a
And so what the world is seeing is a desire by this country and our allies to defeat the ideology of hate with an ideology that has worked and that brings hope.

And one of the challenges, of course, is to convince people that Muslims would like to be free, that there's other people other than people in Britain and America that would like to be free in the world.

There's this kind of almost - kind of a weird kind of elitism that says well maybe - maybe certain people in certain parts of the world shouldn't be free; maybe it's best just to let them sit in these tyrannical societies.

And our foreign policy rejects that concept. And we don't accept it. And so we're working.

BUSH: And this is - I said the other day, when these attacks took place, I said it should be a moment of clarity for people to see the stakes in the 21st century.

I mean, now there's an unprovoked attack on a democracy. Why? I happen to believe because progress is being made toward democracies.

And I believe that - I also believe that Iran would like to exert additional influence in the region; a theocracy would like to spread its influence using surrogates.

And so I'm as determined as ever to continue fostering a foreign policy based upon liberty. And I think it's going to work unless we lose our nerve and quit. And this government isn't going to quit.

Q: But I asked about the loss of American influence, and are you worried about that?

Bush just answered the question why America has lost influence around the world. Our country is being led by a Stump. If this is the best leadership the U.S. has to offer, no wonder the rest of the world ain’t buying. They don’t see competence or value. The bribes can’t be big enough for their leaders to sell this schlock to their people.

Bush Will Stand with Whom in Lebanon?

For all the talk about freedom and democracy in the Middle East, President Bush has a funny way of furthering that in Lebanon. He cheered from the sidelines for almost 3 weeks of brutal attacks by the revenge inspired Israeli war machine. Bush even facilitated the early shipment of precision guided weapons to Israel as he blasted Iran and Syria for arming Hezbollah.

His Saturday morning radio address is even more curious in regard to Lebanon. While he said “Lebanon’s democratic government must be empowered” and “we stand with the democratic government”, Bush never once mentioned Lebanese Prime Minister Siniora. The U.S. President specifically mentioned by name the Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki and the Palestinian Authority’s President Abbas.

Why the absence of Siniora, the democratically elected leader of Lebanon? Was it his brush off of Condi’s deal? Sec. Rice is now pushing it to the Lebanese Cabinet? Why the change? I don’t know about anyone else, but I smell a Bush sponsored “regime change”.

Social Prescription for Hell: Give Everyone a Gun and Have Them Play Violent Video Games

Research in the United States is not dead yet. Two recently released studies indicate aspects of American life reduce mutual and cooperative behavior in our culture. The first study shows young males handling guns increases aggressive behavior while the second indicates people who play violent video games become desensitized to actual violence.

What will our elected policy makers do with such information? Order stem cells to be kept away from violent video games and only arm them when born. At least that’s my wager.

Memo to Landis’ Lawyers: Use Gun Handling Defense

Tour de France winner Floyd Landis could have an innovative defense for his high testosterone level after winning a mountain stage. Research indicates young men handling guns raises testosterone significantly, which in turn results in aggressive behavior toward other men.

Had Floyd Landis fondled a gun before his dramatic comeback? If yes, scientific studies indicate this to be a possible explanation. This study also sheds light on V.P. Cheney’s shooting of a fellow hunter last fall as Dick likely had hot sauce with his “one beer”!

Friday, July 28, 2006

Bleeping Idiots Finally Call for Cease Fire!

The Bush/Blair Neanderthal Team finally caught up with the rest of the world announcing their belated support for a cease fire in Lebanon. After 17 days of pummeling the fledgling democracy of Lebanon, the U.S. and British leader acquiesced to worldwide condemnation calling for a cease fire.

In doing so, they lectured two countries in the region that long called for a cessation of violence, Syria and Iran. Every Middle Eastern country (other than the aggressor) called for an immediate cease fire weeks ago. The Bush/Blair delay tactic served to unite the Muslim community in ways heretofore unseen.

Apparently Tony & George don’t spend much time in the schoolyard, otherwise they would know enemies in a neighborhood unite when a dark force from outside tries to tamper in their turf. Will the two Western cowboys unite Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia with Syria and Iran? Which way will the incredibly unstable Iraq go? After 3 years of freedom, Iraq seems to become a more precarious place every day.

The world should know Bush prescribed that very tonic in today’s news conference. A big dose of freedom should do the trick. He did not explain why Iraq’s big dab of freedom isn’t healing the country’s divisions. Maybe that will come in the next news conference, but to be safe, I won’t hold my breath.

Proposed GOP Conditions on Minimum Wage Hike

The Grand Ole Party is in a bargaining mode in its attempts to tie the minimum wage hike to yet another tax cut for millionaires. I propose a different deal. Should Congress not raise the minimum wage, Senators’ and Representatives’ pay should automatically revert to 1996 levels. Another tax cut for the super rich while Congress looks to tax pimps, whores, and non profit community hospitals? A pox on all their houses.

Bolton Nomination a Small Skirmish in U.N. vs. U.S. Battle

The current fight in the U.S. Senate over John Bolton’s permanent nomination to serve as America’s United Nations ambassador, matters little. Whoever is chosen for the role, will serve as the United State’s hammer against the U.N. and most of the rest of the world on most issues. Consider the recent facts:

The U.S. blocked a Security Council Resolution condemning Israel’s incursion in the Gaza Strip.

Within hours, the U.S. participated in a G-8 resolution calling for cooler heads to prevail in Israel’s assault of Lebanon.

The United States stood alone as the only country not seeking a cease fire in Lebanon until Tony Blair somehow softened his position the last 14 days. Combined with the warring country only the U.S., Israel, and Britain are not pushing for an immediate cease fire in the conflict. U.S. allies in the region Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia all called for an immediate cease fire.

With the last 2 days the following positions have been taken by the respective parties in the U.S./U.N. war.

The United States insisted on watered down wording condemning the Israeli killing of four United Nations observers in Southern Lebanon. The facts showing virtually constant communication between the U.N. party and the Israeli military requesting the cessation of bombing in that zone apparently carried little weight with the U.S.

Prior to the bombing a United Nations official, Jan Egelund called Israel’s military incursion into the Gaza Strip “a disproportionate use of force”.

The United Nations Human Rights Commission took square aim at the United States saying it needed to close immediately any secret detention centers around the world, urging the U.S. to end the death penalty, and taking the administration to task over its treatment of Hurricane Katrina victims. It said the U.S. needed to do more to ensure the rights of poor and black Americans. Just a week prior that same commission called for an investigation into war crimes in Gaza.

Over two weeks into Israel’s attack on Lebanon the United Nations Security Council has taken no position on this dramatic escalation of violence producing over 600,000 refugees. The inability to take a position is due to the United States blocking a motion favored by all other members of the Council.

America’s ally Israel nixed any U.N. involvement in a peace keeping force in Southern Lebanon. Israel recently called the U.N. racist in its dealings with their country. It also has ignored over 35 U.N. resolutions identifying problematic behavior by the Jewish state.

While the U.S. denudes the United Nations of any voice on the current situation, other groups are taking up the slack. The G-8, the European Union, the Shanghai Cooperative Alliance, and the Organization of the Islamic Conference have or will be taking up this issue. Reporters without Borders and the Committee to Protect Journalists condemned Israel’s incursion two weeks ago. Numerous religious organizations have called for an immediate cessation of violence.

So the Bolton nomination is simply identifying which officer the Bush team wants to send to battle on its behalf in the U.S./U.N. war. Does it really matter? The group approving the nomination just weighed in heavily on behalf of Israel. So they want someone to do their bidding. Bolton is a combative, obstructive, obstinate and divisive person and likely will attack the United Nations quite well.

The problem is the United States needs partners to reduce the threat of widespread conflict and destruction around the world. The current U.S. perspective ensures America will be alone standing in a field with our two friends, Britain and Israel. The question is who surrounds us and their intentions. With Bolton on the front lines they likely want to do a little butt chewing, hopefully not worse.

Strange Report on Big Dig Investigation

Apparently writing a logical article about the problems at the Big Dig is as difficult as assessing the problems with the tunnel’s construction. I just finished reading the AP’s report saying the feds will join the study. This administration’s track record in performing competent investigations leaves much to be desired. Between the White House’s internal investigations into their Hurricane Katrina response and their recent “root cause” analysis in the Middle East conflict, I have little faith in their ability to perform even the most basic assessment.

The article mentioned the feds would be looking at the impact of nearby construction on the safety of the Big Dig. This seemed odd as it could be seen as a passing of the buck. Rather than project design, material quality, or contractor performance as root causes of panel failure, the federal lens seems to be looking elsewhere.

Bolt failure has been identified as a factor in the ceiling panels falling. Early in the article it mentioned 1,300 bolts did not pass the required pull strength test resulting in the closing of the tunnel. Later it has Gov. Romney talking about 2 bolts that passed with flying colors.

The study to date involved examination of 40,000 documents some of which suggest concerns that the epoxy anchor bolt system could support the 3 ton concrete panels. So given the bit of information presented, why would the feds be looking at nearby construction?

Then I found the name of the company contracted to build the Big Dig. Becthel/Parsons Brinkerhoff performed the work. Bechtel is a private company that does huge amounts of government work. They highlight their new federal telecom system and their management of Los Alamos National Laboratory in their recent news. Their annual report brags of their Hurricane Katrina report. They claim credit for things I thought FEMA did, like assessing damage and disturbing trailers. Bechtel’s 2005 annual report mentions the completion of the Big Dig.

Bechtel has a huge contract to rebuild Iraq. Their website says it contracted 75% of Iraqi reconstruction to local contractors. Recent federal assessments suggest the U.S. will miss most of its goals in rebuilding the Iraqi infrastructure.

Leading a successful 2005 for Bechtel was Bechtel National, its government business unit. Parsons Brinkerhoff also does work for FEMA. To their credit their website says this in regard to the Big Dig. “Determining the causes of this specific failure will require a thorough forensic analysis of design, methods, materials, procedures, and documentation.”

I don’t have confidence in the current administration to competently do what Parsons Brinkerhoff recommends. The Bush administration has shown with its past “investigations” its ability to protect itself and its friends. The strange news article made me wonder if that very thing could be happening again.

Harry Potter’s Apologus Demandus Spell Still in Force, “Hitleritis” Mutating?

Last summer’s outbreak of apology requests in the political arena might have been driven by the teen wizard’s apologus demandus spell. It appears Harry Potter may be tampering with the elections in the Sunshine State. Recently Democratic Party Chair Howard Dean made unkind remarks about the Republican Senatorial Candidate, rep. Katherine Harris. The Harris campaign, now on its 4th campaign manager, took offense to the Dean remarks and demanded an apology.

Howard’s comments raise a different concern. He compared Ms. Harris and President Bush to Stalin’s heavy handed leadership of Russia. Last summer a similar spate of political comparison’s to Adolf Hitler flew around Capital Hill. Has Hitleritis mutated into Stalin’s Disease? I do hope President Bush gets the Centers for Disease Control on this possibility ASAP.

As for breaking the apologus demandus spell, I recall the secret being identifying “Bumblemort”. The President may wish to contact an auror for assistance, unless he already knows the identity of Bumblemort. Either way, it appears the current campaign season will have numerous heinous leader comparisons and an equal number of apologies demanded.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

U.S. Chamber of Commerce Ad Campaign Should be “Contract Out America”

Guess what the United States Chamber of Commerce is not promoting in their upcoming national advertising campaign, the advantages of making products in America! Yes, instead their bizarre campaign will pander to incumbent politicians who voted in favor of the Medicare Prescription Drug program back in 2003.

The benefit to American business is what? If I stretch I can find two connections. One, drugs made in the U.S. taken by elderly and disabled now are partly being paid for by the government. So some of the drugs previously donated to America’s elderly poor are now funded by the U.S. government.

The second benefit falls upon employers who pay for their retiree’s health care insurance. Other than these two connections, I am hard pressed to find a bonanza for America’s employers as a result of Medicare Part D. The chamber will spend $10 million on TV and radio ads thanking mostly Republican lawmakers who backed the plan 3 years ago. The chamber will also conduct direct mail, internet and get out the vote campaigns.

Why would the chamber conduct such a shameless marketing campaign on behalf of Republicans? My theory is their real message would not resonate, especially in light of post Katrina and Iraqi war government contracting. The Chambers unstated position is “Keep Republicans in Office, They Want to Contract Out America”.

Are Politicians Simply Men Who Play Games?

In several recent posts I lamented the decline in political role models for America’s youth, comparing their poor behavior and analytical skills to some professional athletes. George Bush’s four letter words, butter roll lip smacking prefaced his trashing the notion of “root cause”. Then Howard Dean called a Semite, an “Anti-Semite”. Neither Bush nor Dean are elevating the dialogue amongst or the intelligence of the American people.

Who might soon join them on the political stage? It is one of those historically questionable professional athlete “role models”, Charles Barkley. Sir Charles will bring his elocution skills to the Democratic Party, just recently switching from his Republican stance.

"I was a Republican until they lost their minds," Charles said earlier this month.

Yes, the proliferation of poor role models continues. If Charles refused to be one as a NBA player, why would he suit up for the role now? He might say please as he asks for his buttered roll, and then again he may not. From his on the court play, it is highly likely Sir Charles will use King George’s “sh_t” word. Best warn the children, not much elevating will happen this election season!

How Does Extending Current Law Make Republicans Heroes in Eyes of Minorities?

The news reported President Bush signed the 25 year extension of the historic Voting Rights Act of 1965. It suggested the Republican dominated Congress pushed the bill through to improve its standing with minorities as the November elections approach.

My questions include why are minorities upset with Republicans and what does this extension do about those fundamental concerns? From here, it seems they just continued a long standing law by preventing its expiration next year. How does this address minorities concerns of access to health care, education, safe and affordable housing, employment and a living wage? It doesn’t.

All the Republican Congress and President Bush did was not allow existing law to expire by extending it 25 years. While this may seem momentous given key Southern leaders desire to gut parts of the Voting Rights Act, it amounts to not harming minorities vs. actively addressing their concerns. At least that’s the view from here. Does anyone else find it sad when we celebrate the government's not taking away another right?

Howard Dean Says Semite leader al-Maliki is Against Himself?

Democratic Party leader Howard Dean needs an education on the word “Semite” if he is going to start using “Anti-Semite” as a pejorative against international leaders. No longer are some professional athletes the sorry role models for America’s youth, as our political leaders recently joined them.

First President Bush and Sec. of State Rice trash the word “root cause” with their shallow analysis of the latest Middle East conflict. Rather than ask why seven times, Bush asked only once cause he had hard work to do. Now, Howard Dean suggests the Iraqi Prime Minister is an “Anti-Semite”, thus against himself.

Semite: a member of any of several Semitic-speaking peoples of the Middle East, including the Arab and Jewish peoples, and the ancient Assyrians, Babylonians, Carthaginians, Ethiopians, and Phoenicians (Encarta dictionary)

I don’t know if Prime Minister al-Maliki actually speaks Semetic but he is an Arab person which clearly fits into the word’s definition. Do all Jews speak Semetic? If not, Mr. Dean may be erroneous in his assertion that Anti-Semitic means Anti-Jewish.

Yes, America our dumbing down occurs via aspersions and sound bites. At least with a professional athlete I have no expectation of their need to act behalf on all people, for them to be thoughtful, for them to analyze societal challenges, formulate theories for improvement, test them and then implement those that work on a wider scale. It appears I need to put our elected officials in the same realm with people paid to play games for a living.

Federally Subsidized Big Oil Keeps Raking it In

The same morning my local newspaper ran a story on people not being able afford to pay their electric bills this record breaking summer, the business news is abuzz with more record oil company earnings reports. One story highlighted one man’s monthly electric bill of over $660, more than $200 more than his rent. The other zeroed in on Royal Dutch Shell’s 2nd quarter earnings. With production down from 2005, profits increased 40%. That means they are earned a lot more for selling less.

Royal Dutch Shell’s earnings jumped 40 percent to $7.32 billion

BP PLC rose 30 percent to $7.3 billion

ConocoPhillips reported a 65 percent increase to $5.18 billion

Exxon Mobil Corp’s earnings rose 36 percent to $10.36 billion

Chevron announces earning tomorrow morning.

Yes during our record hot Texas summer, the oils’ financial statements are sizzling. That some of us can no longer afford to stay cool is just the price of free markets. The irony is this profitable product may be making our planet even hotter.

Our leaders might want to pay attention should they want to help the suffering common person. Their ability to help their corporate friends is clear. Leaders may also wish to dig a little deeper on understanding “root causes”. The current root cause analysis in the Middle East leaves much to be desired. Should that situation literally explode to the major oil producers in the region, watch out. Prices and profitability will continue to rise in the 30-65% range.

Next earnings week will be the end of October, just before the November elections. My guess from looking at local prices is big oil will tone down their earnings. Can’t have that shrill cry of record profits ringing in the voters’ ears as they pull the lever!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Real, Fake Muslims, Jews & Christians: Who’s Fighting Who?

As if the whole situation in the Middle East weren’t murky enough, Prime Minister al-Maliki of Iraq said another battle line lay between real and fake Muslims. This battle line is on top of the fundamentalist Jewish & Christian line against fundamentalist Muslims.

What about the battle line between real and fake Christians or real and fake Jews? Should all the real followers of the varying religions unite against their fake counterparts?

It begins to sound like a hazy world of accusation and violence. We have lived through this before as people. The Witch hunts came early in our history. While vacationing back east, I read of the pardoning of the Witch of Pungo. Virginia officials cleared her name some 300 years after her death sentence.

Her crimes and the evidence? It seemed as an agent of Satan, the Witch of Pungo caused crop failures, a drought and violent storms. The evidence that she was possessed by the devil came from her dunking in the Elizabeth River. The Witch did not float as angelic souls did in that time. Her life literally sank based on that one test.

So how will the true vs. fake followers be discerned today? What modern day dunking booth will be contrived by “religious” authorities?

It would be wise to recall the maxim “it is easier to hold power with the people disturbed.” It is even better to have the common folk fighting against one another. It looks like a modern version of such a thing will soon flourish. Christians grab your Bibles, Jews your Torah, and Muslims your Koran as the tests are coming. It’s a shame there is no worldwide effort for “No God’s Child Left Behind”.

When Did U.S. Twist Britain’s Arm to Oppose Immediate Cease Fire?

When did Great Britain change its position calling for an immediate cease fire in the Israel-Lebanon conflict? Last I knew a disgusted Tony Blair was working hand in hand with U.N. Chief Kofi Annan on that very issue. They left buttered roll chewing President Bush trying to get the foul curse word tainted flavor out of this mouth.

Now I read Sec. Rice “favors urgently ending the violence”. Later in the same AP article it states:

The United States and Britain opposed the push for a quick cease-fire, saying any truce should ensure that Hezbollah no longer is a threat to Israel and should ensure a durable peace.

Now the U.S. is not alone standing in the field. We have our lap dog with us. Just when I hoped real united worldwide leadership would send us and Israel a message, Bush has to break bad, beat the dog, thus getting his poodle by his side. Now it is the U.S., Britain, and Israel against the world. As Condi said the lines are being drawn. To date not many are jumping over to our side.

U.S. & Israel Play Bad Cop, Badder Cop in Middle East

Does anyone else find it strange the new vision of the Middle East comes from a country established post World War II and another not in the region? The “New Middle East” is being imposed by a small but powerful Jewish country in conjunction with a Western country claiming to be the leader of the free world. Both have numerous weapons of mass destruction and military might. History shows both use them frequently to impose their will.

Israel is the current bad cop with Lebanon in its custody. As it pummels away on the fledgling democracy, the U.S. ignores the beating, even keeping watch in case any officers from Internal Affairs happen by. After two weeks of beatings, the U.S. decides Lebanon might want a little food or water. So, America provides a Dasani and a Twinky before shutting the door and allowing the beatings to continue.

These are the people with a vision for a new Middle East. It sounds a lot like the old Middle East to me. People impose their will on the region via violence. Ask the British about their incursion into Iraq around 1920. Churchill ran into tens of thousands of “recalcitrant Arabs” who could not be bombed into submission.

Bush and Olmert might want to read up on history, otherwise they are doomed to repeat it, repeat it, repeat it, repeat it….

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Bush’s New & Better Plans for the Middle East

Step 1: Quit getting any Bush input into plans to improve safety in the Middle East. Everything he touches turns to (that same word he used at the G-8 while speaking to British PM Tony Blair).

Assessment: Iraq has been BUBAR-ed which stands for “Bushed Up Beyond All Recognition”. Lebanon is in the process of being BUBAR-ed. After billions of dollars of destruction, Secretary Rice shows up to offer $30 million dollars in aid. How much did that last round of precision guided missiles sent to Israel cost?

Follow Up: Actually investigate the impact of a decision or action. This step is expressly prohibited in any BUBAR-ing scenario. BUBAR procedure describes the ideal future state and throws in a few hero stories. If leaders happened to be in touch with reality on the ground, the situation might not be so BUBAR-ed.

Pilot Site: The first location for lopping Bush out of the equation is Iraq. His comments calling the violence in Iraq as “still terrible” shows he is a week out of date on his news from the ground. Things got a lot worse the last week, thus they are “more terrible”. The Iraqi Prime Minister is to implement this new strategy as soon as possible, but first he needs to leave the White House. Then he must not pick up the red phone!

Uncle Sam Won’t Pay His Medicare Bill Come September

In a move reminiscent of dirty CEO’s cooking the books, Uncle Sam has directed Medicare hold all claims the last nine days of the 2006 fiscal year. Corporate America is familiar with the ploy of recognizing revenue early or pushing off expenses to the next fiscal year to make the sheets shine, but Uncle Sam?

Medicare is holding all bills from September 22 to 30 planning to pay them in the new fiscal year on October 2nd. This move comes from the Deficit Reduction Act passed by our Congressional leaders. Apparently they’ve learned from the American consumer beset by huge debts. Pay what you can and push the less important ones off. What does this say about health care as Congress is letting that one ride?

Uncle Sam Won’t Pay His Medicare Bill Come September

In a move reminiscent of dirty CEO’s cooking the books, Uncle Sam has directed Medicare hold all claims the last nine days of the 2006 fiscal year. Corporate America is familiar with the ploy of recognizing revenue early or pushing off expenses to the next fiscal year to make the sheets shine, but Uncle Sam?

Medicare is holding all bills from September 22 to 30 planning to pay them in the new fiscal year on October 2nd. This move comes from the Deficit Reduction Act passed by our Congressional leaders. Apparently they’ve learned from the American consumer beset by huge debts. Pay what you can and push the lesser important ones off. What does this say about health care as Congress is letting that one ride?

West Texas Gas Prices and the November Election

While national gas prices hit a record, the cost of a gallon of gas in West Texas is 30 cents below our local high. Just last night I paid $2.80 a gallon while the U.S. average is over $3.00 for regular unleaded.

While driving a radio report said gas varied from a high of almost $3.30 in San Diego to a low of $2.78 in Charleston, South Carolina. Recently I pondered if the big oils would do anything to reduce consumer frustration with high gas prices given the upcoming election.

Would they sacrifice a bit of quarterly profit to keep in office a party that is uniquely oil friendly? If so they would cut their margins for gas in July, August, and September. That quarterly profit report would be released in October, just before the 2006 elections.

Would they postpone record earnings for a quarter, enabling big oil supporters to show market forces are working? This of course would be prefaced by “due to declining demand and increased supply” XXX oil company’s 3rd quarter profits declined from the record 2nd quarter (which happened to be the 4th quarter in a row setting a new record).

As I listened to the radio report of the variation in gas prices, a new question entered my mind. Would they increase gas prices in Democratic areas of the country and keep them down in predominantly Republican? West Texas and South Carolina qualify as pretty “red” places. San Diego is in predominantly blue California. Of course, looking at only three locations cannot confirm this possibility.

How do your local gas prices compare to your community’s historical high? Are you in a red or blue area? Feel free to weigh in with your report.

Ever Changing Two Faces of Middle East

Israel launched its attack on democratic Lebanon two weeks ago with the aim being the complete elimination of Hezbollah. This morning that aim muted into “dealing with the Hezbollah infrastructure that is within reach”. Did the vaunted Israeli war machine really change its mind or does it continue to lie to the world?

Secretary Rice’s words on the situation are laughable. "I have no doubt there are those who wish to strangle a democratic and sovereign Lebanon in its crib." Did she not notice the U.S. supplied fingerlike planes and bombs doing the choking? Did Uncle Sam pull the infant democracy out of the crib so Israel could stomp on it?

This outbreak of violence is sponsored by the only nuclear power in the region, Israel. It’s causing a tsunami like spillover into the Iranian nuclear technology negotiations. Who in the region wouldn’t want nuclear weapons at this point to hold off the regional bully and its sponsor?

The world witnesses a group of leaders incapable of governing on behalf of all persons. They cloak their true intentions as they move their military chess pieces around the board. The deaths of innocent people are characterized as “collateral damage”. At a time when the world needs fewer weapons of mass destruction, the world competes to develop bigger, more innovative ways to exterminate God’s loved children. President Bush leads the way with microwave crowd dispersers, lightning like IED disablers, the latest nuclear weapons and heaven forbid, space weapons.

If Bush wants to know why there is an arms race he need only look at Israel-Lebanon after checking out his reflection in the mirror. That is if he’s not distracted.

New Study on Learning Shows Distractions Bad, Bush Fits Profile

A newly released study shows the brain learns via two different methods and that distractions cause the brain to shift to one particular method. The study shows learning while distracted makes the knowledge gained harder to use later on.

The two types of learning are in effect memory and habit. In memory learning one uses a portion of the brain to capture the concept, fact or bit of information. In habit learning the body performs a task and this is recorded in a different part of the brain. For example a phone number can be learned by memorizing the 7 digit number (memory) or by repeatedly punching the number on the phone’s keypad (habit).

When distracted the brain shifts its preference to the habit area. The researcher suggested “in general distraction is always a bad thing”. Has the researcher seen or heard our President at international gatherings of world leaders? President Bush is the embodiment of distraction, complaining of boring speakers that go on too long. Might that interfere with his learning?

The study’s author had more to say. By relying on the habit memory system, Russell Poldrack said, "We may find ourselves in situations where we have picked up information about performing some task but we are unsure where that information came from."

In some situations this could be dangerous, he added: "For instance, we may find ourselves making decisions based on 'gut feelings' that utilize this implicit information and not realize that our decisions may be biased by where we learned that information."

Our President frequently speaks of making decisions based on his feelings or his gut. That’s just the kind of leader he is, and he will tell you so. Now we know this is the tendency of someone distracted, with an impaired ability to learn. Does this inspire confidence in the leader of the free world's ability to monitor a situation and adjust to any changes? That hope was dashed long ago from this blogger's perspective.

Monday, July 24, 2006

While Real Children Are Being Murdered in War, Bush Clarifies Position on Stem Cells

White House Press Secretary ate some crow Monday due to his going too far in stating the President’s position on stem cell destruction. Last week Tony suggested Mr. Bush viewed stem cell destruction as tantamount to murder.

With real children being murdered on both side of the current Lebanon-Israel conflict, the President chose to clarify his position. “He would not use that term (murder)”, said Tony.
Snow said the president remains opposed to using federal funds for such research because it involves "a destruction of human life."

Yes, and what else involves the destruction of a human life? Weapons, guns, wars, disease, come to mind. Apparently the President has no problem with the federal resources being used to advance weapons development and proliferation.

Human life can also end early due to the lack of food, water, shelter, and access to health care, specifically life saving medicines. The President’s plans to reign in Medicaid will predictably cause children not to get health care, thus involving “a destruction of a human life”.

Life isn’t sacred to this President despite his words and his veto on stem cell line expansion. The first hint was his desire to be known as the War President.

Bush Thumbs his Own Church

President Bush blew off calls from his stated denomination, the United Methodist Church for an immediate end to the violence in the Middle East. He not only ignored their pleas, he purposefully went against one of their requests.

All outside states and forces must halt sending arms and military supplies to groups and states involved in the conflict.

Bush accelerated the shipment of precision guided weapons like the ones that struck two Red Cross Ambulances today, killing one and wounding two others.

Why would this “good Christian” President ignore the religious advice of his stated denomination? Why does he thumb their requests? That was a thumb, wasn’t it?

Giant Healthcare Company HCA Going Private Again

In the world of leveraged buyouts, HCA’s planned acquisition will the largest ever. The Frist family and three investment houses proposed the deal accepted by the HCA Board. For the second time in its corporate history, Tommy Frist is taking the company private.

The first time occurred in 1988 while I worked as an Assistant Administrator for an HCA managed hospital. Prior to that $5.1 billion buyout, Tommy was heard telling people at a corporate event “A smart man would buy our stock”. I missed my chance then and am no longer close enough to the company to get any timely investment advice.

Senator Bill Frist no longer owns any HCA stock so the general public should have no worries about any potential conflicts of interest. But isn’t blood thicker than water? That might explain the obvious tilt in Congress toward for-profit healthcare.

Yet, Bill Frist remains on the powerful Senate Finance Committee which determines Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement rates. The co-chairs of the Senate Finance Committee, Max Baucus and Chuck Grassley gorge on for profit health care donations at the campaign money trough. In return they use the IRS to remove that unfair competitive advantage non profit community hospitals have over their for profit brethren. Non profits are tax exempt.

I am curious about this buyout from several perspectives. With President Bush screaming about cutting Medicaid and reigning in Medicare, why do Bain Capital, KKR and Merrill Lynch Global Private Equity think this is a good deal at roughly $32 billion? What do the investors know that the general public does not? Why doesn’t the average American know President Bush wants to contract all government sponsored health care to private companies?

The buyout group is paying a premium of 18% compared to last week’s stock price. It is only a 6% premium compared to Friday’s close as the word leaked of a possible deal. That couldn’t have been Tommy telling folks “Now a smart person would be buying our stock”?

What advantages does HCA gain by not being subject to SEC regulation? What information will no longer be public? How will it impact openness and transparency in the company’s interactions with the federal government?

The news said the Board will solicit proposals for the next 50 days. Who else will marshal a bid? Will The Carlyle Group’s new health care division attempt to swallow such a huge company in its first year of major expansion? Will Welsh, Carson, Anderson, and Stowe partner with Carlyle on another deal? WCAS has a strong healthcare background owning several ex-HCA subsidiaries.

What this deal shows is there is still serious money to be made in for profit health care courtesy of Bush and company. The next 50 days will show who is serious about making that money.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Rice to Start Economic Diplomacy Prior to Cease Fire?

CNN reported U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice will convene an economic diplomatic group to discuss the rebuilding of Lebanon. That this occurs prior to a cease fire is odd. Does the Bush administration value commerce over life?

My take on the economic meeting finds it to be a blatant bribe. Likely large sums of money will be dangled before the Lebanese government to appease their now deep seated hatred for the United States and Israel. As an American citizen, I want none of my tax money spent to repair what Israel destroyed with U.S. funded weapons and military equipment. Israel needs to fund the recovery of Lebanon, all on its own. If that doesn’t happen, then it will be even more crystal clear Bush and Company approved the mission.

Bush Rejects Supremely Accurate Saudi Foreign Minister for Third Time

In the most non-public smack down ever, President Bush blew off Saudi Foreign Minister’s request that the U.S. leader help seek an immediate cease fire in the Israel Lebanon conflict. This is the same Middle Eastern leader who called it right on Iraq, predicting sectarian violence and destabilization of the region.

The Bush Team ignored Prince Saud al-Faisal’s advice then and did so a second time post Hamas win in Palestine. Mr. al-Faisal suggested U.S. leaders meet with Hamas to encourage change. Bush refused to do so and cut off all non-humanitarian funding for the Palestinian government. Israel did likewise, placing tax receipts due the Palestinian government in escrow.
The news reports are skimpy on the actual exchange between Bush, Rice and the Saudi officials. The AP reports:

The White House would not discuss the proposal after the meeting. Senior administration officials referred all requests for comment to a spokeswoman, Eryn Witcher, who read a three-sentence statement listing the participants and saying only that they have "shared goals of helping the people of Lebanon and restoring sovereignty of the government of Lebanon and building stronger Lebanese armed forces."

She did not answer questions beyond the script, including what requests Bush and Rice made of the Saudis. When asked to respond to their request for an immediate cease-fire, she said White House officials have spoken about the administration's position in the past.

My take is Bush met with the Saudi’s with his "wish list". He wants them to be his broker in the Middle East, especially when his administration won’t talk to most of the parties involved. Bush did not want the Saudi’s to take the same side as the rest of the world. How dare they!

Now that the Saudi King has officially requested the cease fire, President Bush’s ability to adjust to “the conditions on the ground” will be tested. Once again the Bush team is flummoxed. Will the U.S. President even speak directly to the Saudi request? Indications to date are not promising. Recall all those offers of international aid post Hurricane Katrina? How many actually got the honor of a reply?

The world watched President George W. Bush on this one. Will Bush publicly reject the Saudi King and Foreign Minister for the third time? Having struck out will Mr. al-Faisal walk away from the plate or the game altogether? Someday, someone will leave Bush on his own to live with his “creations”. That day may be fast approaching.

Dirty Democrat Baucus Brags about Making Republican Opponent Look Gay

Senator Max Baucus of Montana proudly talks of a campaign ploy in his tight 2002 race that caused his opponent to drop out. The tactic involved showing old footage of the man at work.

Democrats knew Republican Mike Taylor had once owned hair care schools in Colorado. That led to a newspaper ad that mentioned he had once appeared in an infomercial on the noon news in Denver in the 1980s. That, in turn, led to the basement of a private home where a former television station employee had old videotapes.

For Democrats, the hunt was worth the effort - the party's autumn television commercial showed Taylor wearing an open-front shirt and gold chains, massaging a man's face. Staggered, Taylor briefly dropped out of the race, accusing the Democrats of saying that "anybody in the beauty and hair fashion industry is homosexual."

But in politics, as the old expression goes, if you're explaining, you're losing. “That was a silver bullet” Max recalls.

Actually Max Baucus has some explaining to do. As an influential member of the Senate Finance Committee Max votes on key healthcare legislation impacting Medicare and Medicaid. The for-profit hospital industry knows this choosing to fund Senator Baucus’ campaign.

For Max’s 2006 campaign the Federation of American Hospitals donated 5,000, Kindred Healthcare $6,000, HCA $10,000, Triad Hospitals $5,000, Vanguard Health Management $5,000, Sun Healthcare $2,000, Universal Health Services $2,500, Mariner Healthcare $5,000, LifePoint Hospitals $5,000, HCR Manor Care $4,000, Genesis Healthcare $2,000, Beverly Enterprises $10,000, Renal Care Group $3,000, Fresenius Medical Care $2,100, Renal Leadership Council $5,000, HealthSouth Corp $2,500, Gentiva Health Services $2,500, and Ardent Health Services $1,000.

Which of the above for profit healthcare companies have no, as in ZERO facilities in Senator Baucus’ home state of Montana? Kindred, Vanguard, Triad, LifePoint, Universal, Genesis, Gentiva, and even the monstrous HCA have no hospitals in the Big Sky State. So why donate to Max?

What will $77,600 in for profit healthcare donations get these days? Last summer $30,000 seemed to inspire Chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee to hold a hearing on the unfair advantage non profit community hospitals have as they are “tax exempt”. Earlier this summer Max’s partner on the Senate Finance Committee, Senator Chuck Grassley asked the IRS Commissioner to go after non profit community hospitals with the same vigor as their recent clampdown on credit counseling agencies.

Also at a time when Congress is holding the line on America’s minimum wage, it passed special reimbursement increases for kidney dialysis. Did you note 3 of the above companies specialize in dialysis care? They got a 1.6% increase in 2005 followed by another 1.6% increase in 2006. Investors like predictable income streams. And yes, this is the same period Congress passed a law allowing premium sharing, deductibles and co-payments for poor persons on Medicaid.

Four of Max’s top 12 donating industries are health related. It seems Max hasn’t been caught with his hands massaging a man’s face but should an investigation be conducted on donor driven voting patterns, watch out! Max could well have his pants down around his ankles. In that state it could be awful difficult to dodge that silver bullet. After all Max, what goes around, comes around!

P.S. Max, psst! From the map links alone, your pants have fallen to your knees. You might want to do something about it. Just a thought brother!

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Crank Up the Holy War! Speed Up those Bomb Shipments!

Evangelical Preachers are having a field day with the current crisis in the Middle East. Normally God’s children killing each other isn’t something to celebrate, but the fans of Revelation do so joyously.

In an odd religious breakdown, Jewish Israel invades Christian Lebanon to defang Muslim Hezbollah. Looking at their governing structures, both countries are democratic. So much for Bush’s recent well worn line, “Democracies do not war.” Democratic Israel is sponsoring a dandy at the moment. Democratic Lebanon is on life support and the referee won’t stop the fight.

Why would American fundamentalists celebrate the plight of Lebanese Christians? Because Christian Arabs don’t count. Someone has to fall in the final conflagration and it might as well be them. Besides, Americans fight abroad so they won’t have to fight at home. This gives the death cheering fundamentalist the perfect seat to watch the “End Times”. One that is far enough away from the action to give vociferous support to violence makers and still tuck their families safely in at night.

Rather than Revelation, my guess is God is working on another chapter of Lamentations. Might God ask, “Why are people so clueless?” Christ’s teachings are crystal clear on these matters. Leaders incapable of turning the other cheek, go far beyond an eye for an eye. To speed up the destruction from his safe Executive Chair in the Oval Office, President Bush expedited shipment of precision guided bombs to the aggressor, Israel.

What will they write on those bombs, Mr. President? Will it be “Jesus is coming to kick your ass”, “Yaweh’s revenge, the Promised Land is Ours #@%^&#!”, or “Rot in Hell Sinners!” Whatever it is won’t be very Christian.

My hope is the Son returns, clearly telling all leaders of the responsibilities to their people and to God. I have a feeling what your reaction might be, “Cheney, this fella is going on too long, and the stuff he’s saying, it’s not practical! See, I deal in reality, in practicality. This Jesus guy, he doesn’t. He has no plan, no agenda….”

Bush’s Love Affair with Incentive Compensation Produces Prostitutes, Might Bush Be One?

One signature Bush belief is “incentive pay improves performance”. It is the basis for “No Child Left Behind” and part of Bush’s Medicare/Medicaid modernization. While early returns show schools and administrators taking untoward actions to improve test scores, the better place to look for information on incentive compensation is private industry.

The United States is a full 10-15 years into CEO incentive compensation. The track record is murky at best.

A key component of top management incentive pay is stock options. These programs issue an option to purchase the company’s stock at a discounted price thus incentivizing the CEO to grow profitability and correspondingly the stock price.

A recent SEC investigation revealed numerous companies committed fraud by backdating their stock option issue dates to a period of historically low stock prices. This enables option grantees to turn their options for massive profits with very little personal risk.

For stockholders, a similar experience is being conned in a street corner shell game. The company of which the stockholder owns a share, grants the option to the executive from a pool of company owned stock. Top management plays the con by picking the date by which option grantees get the best return. This is done in hindsight with perfect knowledge. The CEO and company flip the options, exercising their purchase at the deeply discounted price and then selling them at a guaranteed and usually huge profit.

Who pays for this? The company pays, thus the shareholders do. Currently the SEC is investigating over 80 companies for violation of stock option regulations.

Other tricks to maximize CEO pay (by maximizing profits) include cutting worker salaries, shifting production to China, dropping health insurance benefits and shifting the company pension plan from defined benefit to defined contribution. The Bush administration recently nixed a petition to investigate Chinese labor practices. The move of production to low wage China likely fueled many a CEO’s performance bonus the last 5 years.

The SEC is concerned about another area of profit speculation, hedge funds. These are large unregulated investments funded mainly by the rich. The funds buy and sell virtually any kind of investment, frequently purchasing whole companies before spinning them off again for huge profits.

The push from Wall Street is to keep the hedge funds unregulated. The push from just down Pennsylvania Avenue is likewise. The Carlyle Group functions in such a manner. The famously politically connected investment house has deep ties to Bush I and Bush II.

What makes the whole sordid money grubbing affair more interesting is the current SEC investigation into John Mack, CEO of Morgan Stanley. The focus is on Mr. Mack’s behavior as head of a hedge fund before taking the top seat at Morgan. The SEC wants to know if John had and used insider information about an upcoming merger as a fund manager to make millions.

A SEC attorney investigating this question said he lost his job after attempting to subpoena Mr. Mack. As John raised major campaign funds for President Bush, the question of improper political influence arises. Mr. Mack achieved Ranger status in Bush’s 2004 campaign. This means he personally mobilized over $200,000 for the Bush/Cheney ticket’s re-election.

Bush speaks openly about the benefits of being a “Pioneer” or the more elite “Ranger”. Does that include, pulling off SEC investigators breathing down a Bush Ranger’s neck for improper financial dealings? Hopefully, we will find out, but the track record of Bush led investigations is exceedingly poor.

Bush Chided Putin for Restricting Free Speech while People Arrested for Bumper Stickers at Presidential Events!

President Bush is the physical embodiment of irony. I’ve lost count of the number of times he pointed at the stick in another’s eye while ignoring the log in his own. The latest comes courtesy of years of Bush permanent campaign message control.

People at Bush events have been arrested for such offensive actions as wearing a t-shirt, holding a sign, or heaven forbid, driving a car with a bumper sticker. These heinous acts, performed by people with contrary views to the President, are now winding their way through the court system. Two 55 year old teachers in Iowa exercised the same right of free speech as they teach the children, only to be handcuffed and strip searched.

In many cases local authorities drop charges later, the Bush aim of running a clean event already achieved. What’s concerning about this practice is the federal role in establishing and enforcing policy. Secret service agents frequently are the ones identifying “illegal” protest. Had Rosa Parks tried to get on a Bush bus to share a different view, there would be zero chance of that happening. What modern day visionaries are silenced, shuffled off well past the margins of the event? How many Rev. Martin Luther King’s are standing with a handful of followers in the designated protest zone, miles away from the event?

Bush can strike back at Putin’s dig on the new Iraqi democracy with a “Just Wait”. That is exactly what concerns me. What will this President do next in the name of “democracy”?

State of the Division Wrong! Frozen Embryos Already in Lebanon

The blogger that suggested all available frozen embryos be sent to Lebanon just found out those sources of potential life are already there! The American University Hospital in Beirut offers assisted reproductive technology.

Earlier this week President Bush vetoed a bill passed by Congress expanding the lines of stem cells available for medical research. In doing so he said:

Each of these human embryos is a unique human life with inherent dignity and matchless value.

If this bill would have become law, American taxpayers would, for the first time in our history, be compelled to fund the deliberate destruction of human embryos. And I'm not going to allow it.

The New York Times reported today the President approved the early shipment of precision guided bombs to Israel. The American taxpayer is funding Israel to the tune of $3 billion a year. How much federal money is spent on weapons?

Even if a U.S. made bomb doesn’t strike the In Vitro Fertilization lab at Beirut’s AU hospital, the frozen embryos are at risk from the Israeli attack. Bombs have been dropped on power plants and relay stations. Israel has a blockade around Lebanon and made road travel virtually impossible by destroying bridges and cratering roads.

Should the hospital lose power, the frozen embryos could die, despite the President’s most fervent desires. Emergency power could last some time if fuel supplies can be moved around country. If not, Bush’s bombs become the direct method for the deliberate destruction of human embryos.

I send my apologies to all my readers for this glaring oversight. Having sent this to President Bush, what will he do? Will he order the precision guided bombs returned? Will he have Condi drop by Beirut to pick up the frozen embryos transporting them to safety? Or will he just have another buttered roll while blaming Syria for the destruction of those #@$&@# embryos? My money is on the latter.

Unfortunately we know what our President will allow. Peace.

Destroying Terrorists Capabilities Overseas Forces Them to Purchase from Pentagon

In another signature Bush effort to boost the American economy, the Pentagon is selling surplus military equipment for pennies on the dollar to the general public. Several government inspectors purchased items potentially valuable to terrorists including body armor, antenna used to track aircraft, and a digital signal converter used in naval surveillance. The GAO report said thousands of items that should have been destroyed were sold to the general public.

At least 2,669 sensitive military items were sold to 79 buyers in 216 sales transactions from November 2005 to June 2006.

"DOD has not enforced security controls for preventing sensitive excess military equipment from release to the public," the report concluded. "GAO was able to purchase these items because controls broke down at virtually every step in the excess property turn-in and disposal process."

Christopher Shays, R-Conn, had this to say "During previous hearings we learned DOD was a bargain basement for would-be terrorists due to lax security screening of excess military equipment," Shays said in a statement Friday. "Based on GAO's most recent undercover investigation it looks like the store is still open."

Yes, the store for items of intentional harm, death and destruction is still open. Business is brisk with rosy projections for growth.

U.S. Joins Israel in Making Arabs Pay Disproportionately

Why is President Bush doing his best Yale Cheerleader act cheering on the Israeli revenge inspired war machine’s romp through Lebanon? Because he doesn’t care if innocent Arabs, Christian or Muslim pay disproportionately. A case in point involves an Algerian man detained after 9-11 as a suspect. Within 2 months investigators cleared the man of any ties to terrorism. Authorities held him on an immigration violation.

While most asylum seekers are released pending the outcome of their case, this gentleman spent time in solitary confinement. In 2003 A federal magistrate wrote the detainee had been "undeniably deprived of his liberty," and "held in custody under harsh conditions which can be said to be oppressive."

The United Nation’s Human Rights Group, long at odds with the Bush administration’s policies and treatment of detainees, said:

"The imprisonment endured has been a de facto prison sentence," the U.N. group wrote in findings made public in March. "In no way can the simple administrative offense of having stayed in the United States after his visa had expired justify such a disproportionate sentence."

That is today’s word, disproportionate. Unfortunately it is also today’s world. Are we back to the days when “an eye for an eye” came into being to limit excessive punishment? How much further from “turn the other cheek” can we be in our devoutly Christian nation? Five years in jail, with 6 months of solitary for overstaying a visa….

Friday, July 21, 2006

Typical Friday PM News Stories

News released on a summer Friday afternoon is virtually guaranteed a burial. With vacations and weekend plans, how many Americans pay attention to these stories? Sure, one or two will get legs like the U.S. drone fired predator missile that wiped out a Pakistani family. But most die under the weigh of later stories.

What tends to come out on Friday evening? The answer is tales of military abuse and government corruption. This afternoon the news revealed a daily double. In their defense, Soldiers charged with murder say their orders were to kill all military aged men.

Soldiers Say Ordered to Kill Young Men07/21/2006 15:58:36 EST
Soldiers in Murder Case Claim They Were Ordered to 'Kill All Military Age Males' in Iraq Raid

The government corruption story had a familiar ring. High ranking ex-Bush administration officials migrate to the private sector and find a way to con their ex-boss and co-workers.

Ex-Pentagon Officials Accused of Fraud07/21/2006 12:55:09 EST
AP Exclusive: Former Pentagon Officials, U.S. Contractor Accused of Fraud and Conspiracy in Iraq

The problem with both groups of stories is their pattern and frequency. When will the most recent batch of Bush defectors to the private sector unethically use their influence to siphon major bucks from the federal till? My guess is they have already started.

How Dirty is the Bush Cabal (Yet Again)?

After serving the public many high ranking military officers become war profiteers, sometimes, even stiffing their former employer. The AP news reported:

Two former Pentagon officials, including an acting secretary of the Navy, have been accused of scheming with a banned American contractor to get lucrative rebuilding contracts in Iraq, The Associated Press has learned. The contracting firm, Custer Battles LLC, was suspended two years ago by the military for submitting millions of dollars in fake invoices.

The current suit names former acting Navy Secretary Hansford T. Johnson, former acting Navy Undersecretary Douglas Combs, and Custer Battles LLC officials including founders Scott Custer and Mike Battles, who were barred in 2004 after billing the government for work that was never done and for padding invoices by much as 100 percent.

The sinew of corruption winds its way through the current and past Bush administration. Former undersecretary Combs set up other shell companies through which to funnel banned work. One of those companies is Windmill International which lists its address as the home of Mr. Combs, 53 Weathersfield Lane in Amissville, Va.

A Windmill director Michael Ussery served under the Bush administration as Ambassador to Morocco. He claims to have worked with more than 60 companies. Was he aware of Custer Battles' unethical and illegal business practices as a Board member? If not, why not?

On his contact information for Windmill, Ussery lists the same address as Mr. Combs. This seems odd on the surface. It is even odder when one considers the laws in Virginia that bar persons from the same sex being in partnership with one another. That includes owning a home or sharing a business partnership.

The pattern of ex-Bush officials making kajillions in the private sector is well established as is the administration's sending major federal contracts to its friends. This is the basis for The Carlyle Group’s explosive growth the last 4 years. That Bush I people permeate Carlyle is a sickening coincidence to the current story where Bush II staffers, current and ex, do their best to funnel money to Daddy’s friends.

Democrats have seen the action, playing a lesser but significant game themselves. One only need look at William Cohen, William Perry, and Amon Carter to see a similar pattern. For the dead ringer, look up Tom Daschle. The fall election is a competition for who gets to send government business to their friends. From the looks of the campaign money troughs, corporate donors are hedging their bets. No wonder Ben Bernake gave hedge funds a free ride in his recent testimony to Congress. Now, which Bush buddies will benefit from that recommendation?

Step #1 in Middle East Peace Negotiations, Cease Fire then Bon Fire!

The first thing parties in the current Middle East conflict need to do is stop the intentional harm, death and destruction. Then all parties need to remove the logs from their eyes instead of pointing out the stick in the others’. This process should take quite some time as all parties are currently blinded by Giant Redwood sized timbers.

A fire should be built with the massive amounts of wood, one that could shed light around the Earth. No violence could occur as long as the fire burns. With a several decade build up of log-eye, the bon fire should burn for at least a year. Any other persons starting violence around the world would be required to come to this same fire, declare their logs, and toss them into the communal pyre. In a year we shall examine what we have. Hopefully by then, President Bush and Secretary Rice will be able to see.

Rice Goes to Middle East with Zero Credibility as Honest Power Broker

The U.S. government might as well save the gas and not send Condi to work the diplomatic end of the Israel-Lebanon crisis. The AP just ran a news story with this assessment:

President Bush's uncompromising support for Israel in its battle with Hezbollah, now backed by Congress, is threatening to isolate the United States even further from the international community.

It is also putting the administration at odds with fragile democratic governments in the Middle East that it is simultaneously trying to prop up, and sowing increasing anger across the Arab world.

The democratically elected prime ministers of both Iraq and Lebanon have been among the most vocal critics of U.S. policy in the 10-day Israeli bombardment of Lebanon.

At a time when the U.S. wants Syria and Iran isolated, America increasingly faces a dose of our own medicine. Why won’t Middle Eastern countries directly confront the Hezbollah issue? Any neighborhood high school has the answer. Kids there can fight amongst themselves, but they unite quickly when an outside threat from another part of town materializes.

The U.S. and Israel are the bullies from elsewhere in the eyes of most Middle Eastern countries. How Bush, Cheney and Condi continue to miss the basic facts on the ground remains puzzling? At least they have another chance to get educated when two of the crew meet with Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal this Sunday. Will they ignore his prophetic advice yet again?

Student Understands Democrats Trying to Be Republican “Lite” without Seeing Daschle’s Investment Portfolio

There are some sharp college students attending this year’s three day College Democrats National Convention in St. Louis. In a symbiotic move paralleling the Democrats election fortunes the last 6 years, the City of St. Louis lost power for 500,000 citizens.

One of the attendees suggested Democrats are too timid when it comes to standing up for the party's core beliefs. "I don't hear them getting up and talking about what the Democratic Party is really all about. We're using (Republican) language to describe our ideas, and of course that doesn't work," said Kris Stallard, 23, a senior at Northeast State University in Talequah, Okla.

Ms. Stallard called Democrats “Republican Lite” without even looking behind the curtain. Ex Senator Tom Daschle, a serious Presidential candidate for 08, looks a lot like most Republicans out of office. Tom has a high paying lobbying job at Sen. Bob Dole’s firm. Mr. Daschle sits on the board of an investment house a la the gaggle of ex-Republicans who served under Bush 41.

Does Kris know why the House Ways and Means Committee leadership was so quick to pitch Rep. Jefferson? They dumped him because the fish rots from the head down, and Mr. Jefferson stood near the tail. Believe me there are many more tales of dubious financial dealings starting with Rep. Bill Thomas, a long time for profit hospital shill. Just last summer he held a hearing on the unfair advantage of non profit community hospitals. Did that $30,000 donation from FAH and Triad Hospitals give Bill the will to press the Federation’s favorite issue?

Rep. Jefferson saw the healthcare booty and linked up with kidney dialysis companies. Just before his office was raided, those for profit organizations bragged about William’s sponsorship of legislation beneficial to kidney dialysis companies. Investment houses like predictable income streams and Rep. Jefferson was doing his part to make that a reality. Senator Santorum will have the opportunity to deliver the final product for his investors, oopss, I mean campaign contributors.

Yes, Kris Democrats are “Republican lite” and both hide in the dark what you and other Americans should know. They both are the modern day money changers in the temple. Most blaspheme the ideals of democracy with their shameless money grubbing. The American people deserve much better. The question is whether either party is capable of delivering.

Bush, Rice to Meet with Saudis, Cheney Still Suffering from Last al-Faisal Loss

Vice President Cheney beats his swollen gums about Republicans being the party of security given all that is “going on in the Middle East”, when he should be biting his lip. Saudi Foreign minister Saud al-Faisal correctly predicted the consequences of Cheney’s Iraq War and the failure to work with newly elected Hamas.

Rather than listening to the Veep’s brash bragging, American citizens should take him to task for not listening to people with knowledge, our allies in the Middle East. With the U.S. zero for two on al-Faisal’s advice, will we soon strike out again? President Bush and Sec. Rice will meet with Saudi leaders over the weekend on the Israeli revenge inspired war machine’s rolling over Lebanon. My bet is the Bush cabal ignores al-Faisal’s advice once again.

Cheney said “It’s going to be a battle that lasts for a very long time.” This is especially true when Cheney et al ignore regional and international will. When you have friends and consistently ignore their advice, do they remain your friend? Time will show….

Bernake Says High Energy Prices (including Profits) Hurts Economy

Fed Chief Ben Bernake said surging energy prices are acting like a double whammy on the country's economy, crimping growth as they push up inflation. Unspoken is the fact that surging energy prices include a similarly surging profit margin for most oil and gas companies. Just months ago Bernake’s boss, President Bush found no problems in record profit for the integrated oils. Will the Benster get in trouble with the Bushmeister for tangentially disagreeing with his boss? (I love nicknames as much as the President)

Watch oil company profits for the 2nd quarter. My guess is they will set record levels. My prediction calls for 3rd quarter profits to decline. It would not do to enter the November elections with that fresh on the voter's minds.

Update: I just found an article on Yahoo estimating the 5 largest oil companies will earn 33.6 billion in the second quarter, up 32% from a year ago. It appears my guess is right, unfortunately.

Bush Rules Out Shuttle Diplomacy in “Roadblock to Peace”

President Bush nixed the prospect of Sec. Condoleeza Rice conducting shuttle diplomacy between Beirut and Tel Aviv. In an interview the President said:

Look the shuttle just landed at Cape Canaveral. We can’t get it ready in time. Also, do you know how long it would take to fly the shuttle from Beirut to Tel Aviv? You could track it using an egg timer!

We purposefully are not using the shuttle because the parties need more time to reach peace of "a lasting value". The innocents killed while we delay are not of lasting value. Mr. Bolton spoke to that the other day.

And we are also not shuttling Condi to spite the ‘egg timer’ diplomacy folks. By the way folks, it is the U.S. Space Shuttle and not the U.N Space Shuttle. Got that clear? There is no such thing as the United Nation’s space shuttle. So that gives you a clue as to who has the power here. Chew on that for a while!

It is amazing the all out effort President Bush and his team are putting in to ensure Israel’s destruction of the fledgling democracy of Lebanon. His current efforts could well be called “the Roadblock to Peace”.

P.S. Anything in italics is fiction, humor or literally untrue although in the realm of probability.

Pummeled Bush Equates Saving Lives with “Egg Timers”

President Bush’s track record of unresponsiveness in critical life saving situations requires a strong administrative defense. From Katrina to evacuating Americans from Lebanon, the Bush team stumbled badly. It continues to teeter on protecting innocent people in Lebanon from the ravages of the Israeli revenge inspired war machine.

It appears Bush sent his advisors to the kitchen as they came up with an egg timer analogy to prop up the administration’s actions. Tony Snow dished out some “wisdom”:

Everybody who wants this kind of egg-timer diplomacy, who thinks, 'OK these things ought to happen quickly,' you don't understand human nature.

Properly translated, this means “It’s our damn kitchen and stay the #$%& out of it!” As for Bush’s human nature, I understand it all too well. His lack of leadership will usher in an era of great loss for the country and the world.

Dr. Deming had this to say about the many management practices our nation’s CEO employs:

Stamp out fires, automate, computerize, M.B.O., install merit pay, rank people, best efforts, zero defects. WRONG!!!! Missing ingredient: profound knowledge.

Yes, our President is saving lives with the management equivalent of an egg timer. No wonder his record of failure is clear. Dr. Deming also said “The transformation will come from leadership”. Where is America’s when the top two don’t even understand root cause?

The “Can’t Shoot Straight Gang” Continues Its Cowboy Diplomacy

A full ten days into Israel’s revenge inspired destruction of democratic Lebanon, Secretary of State Condi Rice will "lay out" U.S. plans for a diplomatic solution to the crisis. Never mind that the U.N. and the rest of the world have been screaming for over a week for a cease fire, followed by intense diplomacy. The Bush team has been in a rush, one that a cease fire just might disturb.

Meanwhile the U.S.’s blocking of international calls for an immediate cease fire is infuriating Shiite leaders in Iraq. Bush might not want to bear hug Mr. al-Maliki during his next visit. He might not get released.

Bush’s acting as Israeli Prime Minister Olmert’s corner man in this fight is a giant withdrawal in his deficit ridden international bank account. Spending what he doesn’t have, never stopped him domestically. Unfortunately it might be the nail in the coffin of U.S. sponsored democracies in the Middle East. It doesn’t mean those countries won’t become more democratic, it just means they will look for another sponsor.