Saturday, September 30, 2006

Mary Peters Favors More than Just Privatizing Highways?

The Bush administration’s new Secretary of Transportation believes in privatizing U.S. transportation infrastructure. This places her in good company as the famously insider connected Carlyle Group started up a division with that aim earlier this year.

Carlyle has a strong history in transportation. They announced their intention to acquire CSX Lines LLC from CSX Corp. in December 2002, before closing on the deal in February 2003. CSX received $240 million in cash and $60 million in securities.

They renamed the company Horizon Lines LLC. In May 2004, Carlyle sold the company to Castle Harlan for $650 million. Goldman Sachs advised Carlyle on the deal.

In holding the company for just over a year, Carlyle more than doubled their initial investment. Does this seem a bit fishy to you? Did the first group undersell or the second group overpay? Does this sound a bit like Randy “Duke” Cunningham’s house flipping?

U.S. Secretary of the Treasury John Snow served as Chairman and CEO of CSX prior to his appointment to the Bush administration. Sec. Snow served from January 2003 until June 2006.

His replacement, Henry M. Paulson Jr. served as chairman and chief executive of Goldman Sachs from 1999 to 2006. Mr. Snow’s firm sold Carlyle the company for $300 million while Mr. Paulson’s company advised Carlyle on the sale for $650 million a mere 13 months later.

Now what about Mary’s background? She was head of the Federal Highway Administration while CSX settled with a whistleblower for operating unsafely and billing the government for uncompleted work. The whistleblower called Mary another Bush cover-up artist for making the CSX investigation go away. The White House had no comment. Why am I not surprised?

While Mary pushes for privatization that benefits a new Carlyle sub, who else was on the Hill recently? Another ex-Bush bureaucrat, Charles Rossotti, Senior Advisor for the Carlyle Group testified before the Senate Finance Committee on September 20th. He spoke of how to simplify the taxation of businesses in America. Mr. Rossotti served as IRS Commissioner for two years under President Bush before joining the Carlyle Group.

Guess what he proposed? Remember that $350 million profit Carlyle made off the sale of CSX/Horizon Lines? It would be taxed at just 8.25% since it was held longer than a year. 75% of the gain would be excluded from tax per his proposal.

Not only will your government be giving away, selling or contracting out infrastructure development to the private sector, but if Mr. Rossotti’s proposal goes through when those companies flip their properties held more than one year, they will pay very little in taxes. I pay 8.25% in sales taxes in my town in West Texas.

If I’m paying the same rate as a huge corporation managing over $44.3 billion in assets, does that make me rich? Nope, but it does make them richer….

Republican Homophobia Apparent in Foley Resignation

The Party of Morals lost one of its own for “creepy behavior” when Rep. Mark Foley resigned after sending e-mails to a 16 year old page requesting his picture and asking other young men online “Do I make you a little horny?”

Earlier this week, a Washington Times reporter was charged with soliciting sex from a 13 year old girl over the internet. A conservative talk show host Michael Savage came to the aid of the conservative newspaper reporter.

I actually think he should get a reward that it wasn't with a boy. I actually was thrilled to see it was only a girl. I'm not saying it was good that he did it. But don't get me wrong, I was stunned that it was with a girl. I mean, there is still a normal pervert out there. It's hard to believe. There are still normal perverts? It's shocking.

Just as deaths of Lebanese don’t compare to deaths of Israelis, molesting underage females is a higher calling than sexually preying on males under 18. It seems bizarre to call the deaths of innocents regardless of race or religion in a conflict anything other than a horrific tragedy. Giving a medal to an adult sexual predator doesn’t sound the least bit conservative to me. Charging them with crimes, tossing them in jail sounds more like a no nonsense conservative approach.

As for the Republican homophobia, why would I suggest such a thing? First, Rep. Foley was a sure bet for re-election. For the party to drop him like a hot potato just 5 weeks before button pushing day, he must be radioactive. The party of morals cannot have the door swung wide open on a closeted person. Once they are out of the closet, they are out of official party leadership. Sure Foley can run to the Log Cabin Republicans and hang out with those guys, but keep a key seat in the fine conservative state of Florida? Not a chance.

Consider what others said:

Michael Savage on gays which are now hedonists:

They only let you see the gays, who tell you that their disease is the only disease that's permissible to be shown in the media. I mean, AIDS is a horrible disease, but it isn't the only disease.

A political consultant added:

"Resigning leaves your attackers nowhere to go," said Eric Dezenhall, a crisis-management consultant. "If this had dragged on, it could have sucked Republicans into the vortex of scandal." In the first blush after Foley's abrupt apology and resignation, Dezenhall said a typical reaction for those who want to survive scandal and preserve their career - "if you're guilty, repent, if you're innocent, attack" - would not work for the congressman.

"It's much harder to defend yourself against something like this than the garden variety sin such as adultery or murky campaign contributions," he said. "This is not garden variety. This creeps people out."

ABC news revealed Foley had communicated with more than one page and sent sexually explicit instant messages to some.

While the resignation seemed abrupt, a House panel had been looking into Rep. Foley’s behavior for months. What will Mark do? After slinking off will he go on the Michael Savage radio show to promote AIDS treatment? Or will he switch and begin pursuing underage girls in order to qualify for Mr. Savage’s medal for being a normal pervert?

Minority Health Bill Usual Pittance for Poor

With much fanfare Senator Bill Frist joined with Senators Kennedy, Obama, and Bingaman to promote a $500 million minority health bill. With elections only 5 weeks away, tossing some pocket change toward the poor is timely.

Just a month ago the Census Bureau released statistics on the number of uninsured. It rose for the fifth straight year under the Bush administration to 46.6 million people, 21.3 million of which are Black or Hispanic. The money amounts to a whopping $23.47 per person. That’s not enough to cover a doctor’s office visit co-pay. Whoops, these are folks without health insurance! Be sure to write our good Senators about their generosity.

Friday, September 29, 2006

The Shadow Grows

Rep. Mark Foley, R-Fla., abruptly resigned his House Seat in the wake of e-mails he wrote a former teenage male page. In it the Representative queried about the boy’s age and requested the teen send a picture. The teen’s response “this freaked me out” and “sick, sick, sick….” In other e-mails Mark asked a different young male “Do I make you a little horny?”

What had Mr. Foley said previously about gays and protecting children from adult predators? What has his legislative record been in these areas?

Foley, as chairman of the Missing and Exploited Children's Caucus, had introduced legislation in July to protect children from exploitation by adults over the Internet. He also sponsored other legislation designed to protect minors from abuse and neglect.

"We track library books better than we do sexual predators," Foley has said.

In 2003, Foley faced questions about his sexual orientation as he prepared to run for Sen. Bob Graham's seat. At a news conference in May of that year, he said he would not comment on rumors he was gay.

In 2004 Rep. Foley did vote against the Federal Marriage Amendment, one of only 27 Republicans to do so.

Now a man virtually guaranteed re-election resigned under suspicion of child predation. What will the party that impeached Bill Clinton over sexual behavior while in office do? Will they collect money to send Mark to a conversion camp, ever so popular in the fundamentalist community? Will they refer him to local law enforcement for investigation? Will he come under the FBI’s program investigating child sexual abuse?

What are their plans other than to hope the story gets buried under a pile of more important stuff over a long football filled weekend? Go Gators! Ooops, that’s another predator…

Error on Arar? How Many More?

Now that the Bush administration has codified its un-American judicial practices into law, what can citizens expect? Canada, our friendly neighbor to the north, just issued a formal apology to Mr. Mahar Arar as it explores paying financial renumeration.

Arar is perhaps the world's best-known case of extraordinary rendition - the U.S. transfer of foreign terror suspects to third countries without court approval.

The head of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police offered these words to the nabbed man.

"Mr. Arar, I wish to take this opportunity to express publicly to you and to your wife and to your children how truly sorry I am for whatever part that the actions of the RCMP may have contributed to the terrible injustices that you experienced and the pain that you and your families endured, I know that an apology can never give back to Mr. Arar what was taken from him, but what we can do is move forward with changes and reforms."

Speaking before the House of Commons, the police chief said he is truly sorry for the RCMP’s role in Mr. Arar’s ordeal.

What does the American Congress do to prevent such shabby treatment of others in the future? The answer is nothing as they ensure similar situations will happen again via the Military Commissions Act.

CIA Chief Porter Goss clearly said his organization “didn’t get it right all the time” while serving President Bush. Implementing such practices as hearsay, coerced evidence via torture, and restricting access to evidence will cause more Arars. Who do I blame for these errors to come? I hold my elected representatives accountable, President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Senators Cornyn and Hutchison, and Representative Conaway. Who do you blame?

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Bush Hasn’t the Stomach to Answer a Simple Question

While hammering the Democrats for not having the stomach to fight the War on Terror, Bush lacks the intestinal fortitude to answer one simple question.

Why did The Carlyle Group's LifeCare Hospitals' 24 patient deaths post-Hurricane Katrina receive not one mention in the White House's ''Lessons Learned'' report?

To date, all I've gotten is silence. As our local newspaper columnist Jack Cowan suggests, people won't give up information without an ethics pit bull. The Bush administration employs a lap dog for such services.

Hearing nothing, I can only conclude the government's omission was a result of insider influence or incompetence. Neither thought inspires me.

As Elected Officials Insulate Themselves from War Crimes, Ministers charged with Door Crimes

Whilst Bush, Cheney et al slither around the U.S. Capital insisting Congress pass legislation permitting them to torture detainees, withhold evidence and use hearsay a group of faith leaders stood tall protesting America’s slide into persistent war.

For suggesting Christianity calls people to war no more, albeit using a bullhorn inside the Senate Office building, the recalcitrant ministers were arrested and processed. Likely more justice was administered in these seven hours than ever will be meted out for those responsible for kidnapping people, flying them to foreign countries where they were tortured for a year.

As for the use of hearsay, ask the two men taken from New York City into CIA custody, one an Egyptian student and the other a Canadian professional. Who will stand for these crimes against persons? My guess is Bush will be happy to charge the ministers….

Bush to Countries Cooperate or Else

Fresh off his negotiated bill that allows the United States to torture individuals who don’t cooperate, President Bush encouraged the Afghan and Pakistani leaders to “cooperate”. President Musharraf is well aware of this capability having been threatened with bombing back to the Stone Ages if his country did not join the U.S. in the War on Terror after 9-11.

The world watched it recently as Bush held the hand of America’s proxy as it bombed Lebanon back a mere 25 years. It even slipped a few precision guided missiles under the table. The carnage ended after a month of Bush knuckle dragging with Israel carpeting South Lebanon with tiny unexploded bomblets Made in the U.S.A!

The new torture, restricted evidence, hearsay bill allows the U.S. to detain enemies of America’s allies. Hamas and Hezbollah are firmly in the President’s sights as the War on Terror elevates in the Terror on Terror. Holding people without any human rights whatsoever sounds rather Saddamish, or should I say Bushist? How one waterboards an entire country is a matter for the Pentagon to research.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Carlyle Growth During Bush Years

Just yesterday The Carlyle Group announced its stake in Air2Web, a mobile messaging company. In their press release the politically connected investment house cites it manages over $44.3 billion in assets. In late 2001 the company bragged about its’ over $13 billion dollar portfolio. That’s a $31.3 billion or 250% increase during the Bush years!

That should grow ever bigger with their investments in health care, telecommunications, media and consumer brands. Do they own a company that makes plastic and duct tape? After all, they now can connect marketers to mobile subscribers on a global scale…

U.S. to Torture Enemies of Israel?

The new detainee torture legislation permits the United States to coerce testimony, use hearsay and restrict access to evidence for suspected terrorists. It applies to those fighting the United States or a U.S. ally.

Is this Bush’s slippery way of declaring war on Hezbollah and Hamas? Just like the new military regs say an approved tactic is to convince prisoners they are being held by a foreign country. Should that country have a reputation for torture, then how would our military do the convincing? A little torture would do the trick!

Bush bathes in Vasoline or Valvoline. Back to my safe room with plastic wrap and duct tape...

Monday, September 25, 2006

Checking Out for Now....

Sorry folks, I just hit the overload button. My spirit needs to divorce itself from the politican machinations just 6 weeks before the election. I feel a major gas bubble passing through the intestine of American politics. Given the jalapeno bean and chipolte cheese burrito just delivered by Chavi boy and rapidly digested by Bush and Co., I fear the massive wind breaking soon to come. So I've fled with my duct tape and plastic wrap to a safe interior room.

Should the air clear, please post a note informing me and maybe I'll come back out. Until then, peace, love, joy and wonder (which can only come with your TV turned off).


Falwell Defends His “Devil” Political Comments

Never one to pass up a good war, Rev. Jerry Falwell told participants at a “Values Voter Summit” that Hillary Clinton on the Presidential ballot in ’08 would motivate his followers to turn to vote more than if the devil himself were running. His comments came just two days after Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez called President George Bush the devil at the United Nations.

When challenged about the comments Rev. Falwell said his comments to several hundred pastors and religious activists were totally “tongue in cheek”. As he shared this by phone, the reporter could not see if Jerry’s tongue was forked or not.

Falwell went on to cite evidence that his remarks were taken as tongue in cheek, “everyone in the building knew that and everyone laughed.” I heard a number of snickers in the reply of Hugo Chavez’s speech. Does laughter after a comment make it tongue in cheek? What if Hugo claims the same defense? Did President Bush use the same excuse after calling the North Korean President a pygmy, a spoiled brat, and a tyrant?

Rev. Falwell, the leader of the “War on Christmas” now says Republicans are God’s chosen party. Those in attendance at the prayer breakfast heard that God will preserve a Republican majority in Congress.

Only the devil himself could shrink God to a member of a political party. Maybe he was in the room after all? The reporter needs to do an in person interview with Jerry next time he claims the tongue in cheek defense. Is it really within the boundaries he claims? Does he speak with a forked tongue?

Despite his Godly connections the Reverend’s crystal ball is cloudy.

“In '08, I think that's too far ahead to know what's going to happen in the domestic and foreign policy issues," Falwell said in the interview. "In my opinion, the big issue then will be what the big issue is today, and that is national security and the war on terrorism at home and abroad. I don't think anybody doubts that the Republicans have a better record and a better commitment to national security than the Democrats do.."

I don’t think anybody doubts….that Rev. Falwell has an agenda of his own. Unfortunately the media continues to give him a microphone and he has the President’s ear as Bush’s co-Secretary of Faith.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Bolton’s Permanent Appointment Guaranteed to Make Matters Worse

The Senate’s appointment of John Bolton to the U.N. is being promoted as way to take on the inflammatory rhetoric of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The caver to conservatives on prisoner torture, Senator John McCain urged a quick confirmation to talk back to “two bit” dictators. He also called Chavez “despicable”. Well suffering succotash!

Mr. McCain lowers himself to Mr. Chavez level by name calling. President Bush called the North Korean leader a “pygmy”, “tyrant” and “spoiled child”. Chavez called the American leader “devil”, “donkey”, and “madman”.

So what will John Bolton bring to the table? Yup, more name calling. Just when I thought the world bar for leadership couldn’t be lowered further!

JOHN BOLTON: If you think that there is any possibility in this country that a 51,000-person bureaucracy is going to be supported by most Americans, you better think again. The Secretariat building in New York has 38 stories. If you lost ten stories today, it wouldn't make a bit of difference. The United Nations is one of the most inefficient, intergovernmental organizations going. UNESCO is even worse, and others go downhill from there. The fact of the matter is that the international system that has grown up, and again, I leave out the World Bank and the IMF, because I do think they're in a separate category, has been put into a position of hiring ineffective people who do ineffective things, that have no real world impact. And we pay 25% of the budget….

The point I want to leave with you in this very brief presentation is where I started: There is no United Nations. There is an international community that occasionally can be led by the only real power left in the world, and that's the United States, when it suits our interests, and when we can get others to go along. I think it would be a real mistake to count on the U.N. as if it's some disembodied entity out there that can function.

He has proven his ability to call names before his appointment as well as since.

“You can’t compare the deaths of Lebanese to the deaths of Israelis”

“And to have the Deputy Secretary General criticize the United States in such a manner, can only do grave harm to the United Nations. Even though the target of the speech was the United States, the victim, I fear, will be the United Nations..”

What McCain didn’t say is Bolton knows heavy handedness and payback which is just what the Bush administration has in store for Chavez and Ahmadinejad. Is anyone else disappointed with the playground insults tossed around by supposed world leaders? They serve their own egos and for that their people pay dearly.

Car Dealer Ads Poking Fun at Religion

An Ohio Car dealer created a ridiculous radio ad using the Muslim religion and jihad as its theme. While it mentions the Pope it gives Catholicism a free ride. Parts of the ad are below:

The Dennis Mitsubishi spot declares “jihad on the automotive market”. The ad says sales representatives wearing "burqas" - head-to-toe traditional dress for Islamic women - will sell vehicles that can "comfortably seat 12 jihadists in the back."

"Our prices are lower than the evildoers' every day. Just ask the pope!" the ad says. "Friday is fatwa Friday, with free rubber swords for the kiddies." (A fatwa is a religious edict.)

Had Dennis Mitsubishi chosen a Catholic theme it could have declared its intentions to be a “predator on the automotive market”. Sales representatives wearing clerical collars - and posing as Sunday school teachers - will sell vehicles that can comfortable seat 6 priests and their child victims in the back”. That would be just as tasteless as the Muslim version.

Why people doing commerce believe they have free reign to demean and discount the faith of others is beyond me. This is not a reasoned theological debate, it is pointing out the failed practice of faith to drive car sales. That doesn’t make sense, unless you worship cars or the money a sale brings….

Devil Gaining on Hitler in Political Speech

Twice this week the Devil’s name was bandied about in political arenas. This marks an unforeseen recovery by the tempter of souls, who for the last year lagged badly behind Adolf Hitler in political comparisons. But Lucifer and his sulfur smell rallied sharply.

First Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez intoned the embodiment of evil in his descriptions of U.S. President George Bush. Two days later the Rev. Jerry Falwell suggested Senator Hillary Clinton would turn out more of his followers than if the devil were on the ballot.

Hugo Chavez and George Bush are old time name callers. Chavez called Bush “devil”, “donkey”, and “madman” in the past. George called the North Korean leader a “pygmy”, “a spoiled child” and “tyrant” earlier in his Presidency.

What prompted Rev. Falwell to join the circus? The opportunity came at a “Values Voter Summit”.

"I certainly hope that Hillary is the candidate," Falwell told a private prayer breakfast. "Because nothing will energize my (constituency) like Hillary Clinton…. If Lucifer ran, he wouldn't," Falwell added, drawing a roomful of laughs and cheers.

The remarks came during a 40-minute address Friday morning at the "Values Voter Summit," sponsored by the country's leading conservatives and featuring several Republicans who are considering running for president in 2008.

Yes, all those values voters who elect hyper-competitive, violent win-lose, name calling nutjobs. It’s hard to see the value of any of it.

If War Grew Terror Threat, What Will Terror Do?

The President’s War on Terror grew the threat of terrorist attacks according to the National Intelligence Estimate, a compilation of intelligence from 16 federal agencies. This was predictable given the President’s recent round of speeches throwing all the new terrorist groups wanting to harm America into one big gumbo pot. Most were not on the list just after 9-11.

Now that the United States officially is ratcheting up its use of previously banned or illegal techniques, what will happen? As President Bush shifts from his war on terror to “Terror on Terror”, what is the likely response? Anyone with an understanding of systems thinking could reasonably conclude the threat will once again increase.

Consider the words of Bill Frist, Senate Majority Leader on the report which found the war helped create a new generation of Islamic radicalism and that the overall terrorist threat has grown since 9-11.

Sen. Bill Frist, R-Tenn. said he had not seen the classified report, which was completed in April, but said Americans understand the United States must continue to fight terrorists in Iraq and elsewhere.

Frist would not say whether the legislation would ban techniques that U.S. agents reportedly have used in the past, such as simulated drowning, cold cells, prolonged standing and sleep deprivation. He also said he did not know whether the bill would prevent prosecution of North Koreans, for example, if they captured Americans and simulated drowning, a technique known as "water boarding."

The top legislator in the Senate cannot read a 5 month old report on the President’s number 1 strategy? Whatever, the American people are paying him is too much. Which corporate donors benefit from the Senator’s inattention to such important matters? Are the intelligence agencies looking in that direction?

Bush “Rainmaker” for Blood and Money

For the upcoming November elections Republican candidates are keeping the President behind closed doors, relegating him to a fundraising role in light of his low popularity ratings. The behind the scenes soirees enable other well known Republican fun and games to continue. Events like “Who can give the most money”, “Cursing the Constitution”, “Torture is fun: Ask Dick Cheney”, and “Blood for Oil” are usually inaugurated with a prayer for free markets.

Most events are closed with a benediction thanking the Almighty for the freedom to make a yachtload of money so it can be given to God’s inspired politicians like whoever the President is stumping for. Then the group eats their $14 Death by Chocolate desserts before staying one last night in the Ritz Carlton. The next day they fly home on their private planes, thus avoiding those ghastly airport security procedures.

Ask the Venezuelan Secretary of State about his treatment at the hands of the Transportation Safety Administration after his boss Hugo Chavez’s rant at the United Nations? The “Terror on Terror” President gets his way, especially behind closed doors.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Stone Age Bombing Threat = Force of Freedom & Moderation Says Bush

With his cohones safely resheathed, President Bush gave his Saturday morning radio talk. In it he congratulated Pakistani President Musharraf for “siding with forces of freedom and moderation and helping to defend the civilized world”. Do civilized countries threaten to bomb others back to the Stone Ages? Do they stand on the sidelines while their close ally does likewise to a neighboring democracy?

Bush failed to mention Musharraf’s decision kept standing buildings, roads, and bridges while saving hundreds of thousands of Pakistani lives. The U.S. President failed to address the anywhere from direct to veiled threat Richard Armitage delivered to Pakistan post 9-11.

With his balls tucked away, President Bush likely has a few months before exposing them to the American public once again. The over month long display during the Lebanon-Israel war grew tiresome. How long will they be out when America’s proxy goes after Iran’s nuclear facilities?

Bush Won’t Claim Credit for Stone Age Threat

The Medieval President feigned ignorance of any threat to the Pakistani President to cooperate on the war on terror or be bombed back to the Stone Ages. The alleged deliverer also denies using those exact words. Was that because Richard Armitage acted out the scene using loud kabooms followed by ohhhgggaaa boooogggaaa replete with underarm scratching?

What is the public to believe? Here an elected leader of the United States contradicts a General who took control of his government by force.

Bush’s heavy handedness record is clear. He ignored U.S. and international law in torturing prisoners under U.S. custody, set up secret CIA prisons, used banned techniques, kidnapped people off the street in foreign countries, flew them internationally without informing host countries, and sat on his derriere for over a month while America’s proxy (his words) bombed Lebanon back to the Stone Ages.

His record of speaking un-factually is also clear. His promise to relieve seniors and the disabled of having to choose between medicine, food and rent fell flat for some 6 million dual eligibles. His commitment to find what went wrong in the Hurricane Katrina response and make it right produced a laughable Lessons Learned report where his buddies at The Carlyle Group got a free pass for their 24 deaths at a LifeCare Hospital.

Do I think Bush made such a threat? Absolutely, given his track record I’d be surprised if he didn’t. The ball slinger choose an odd time to tuck his back in his pants.

No Need to Give Bush Leeway, He Just Takes It

While the Democrats says they need to present themselves as tough on terror, the President shows his grit by giving laws on the books his middle finger. Bush repeatedly implemented clearly illegal practices before demanding Congress provide a foundation from which to abuse. Congress grew an “oh so brief” backbone before returning to its jellyfish form sliding into the Potomac. There the wake of the Bush wave runner tossed around the soft marine critter until it acquiesced.

The news reported such laughable things as:

A Republican deal on terrorism trials and interrogations would give President Bush wide latitude to interpret standards for prisoner treatment.

The deal also could open the door to aggressive techniques that test the bounds of international standards of prisoner treatment.

Who writes this drivel? For those not paying attention, Bush already reinterpreted standards for prisoner treatment multiple times. He already knocked down the door to aggressive treatment while stopping to crap on the bounds of international standards.

The War President is also known as the Torture President as he implements his “Terror on Terror” initiative. There is no war anymore. The rules are out the window as anything goes under Bush’s wide latitude. Just don’t expect him to execute it competently. That history is similarly clear.

Future of Healthcare in America Looks Bleak

The U.S. health care non system is slated for a one two punch courtesy of the Bush administration and employers. Both continue their entrenched trend of cutting health insurance benefits, in some cases eliminating coverage altogether. The number of uninsured has grown by some 8 million people under the President’s watch.

The Bush team has more in store than just adding to soaring deductibles and co-pays for those lucky enough to still have coverage. They want to incentivize physicians to produce quality. Payments to providers will vary based on conformance to widely accepted standards of care.

Dr. Deming, the world renowned quality guru, would have several comments on such practices. He would be excited that physicians and insurers measured the quality of care provided yet simultaneously appalled by the financial rewarding. Let’s consider some of his teachings and how they might apply.

Managing by results is like looking in the rear view mirror. Managing by results only makes things worse.”

Focusing on variations from the standard usually occurs post production, after the patient has exited the system. Management is incapable of going back and correcting most problems. A better practice would involve focusing on the process and reducing variation with an understanding of special and common causes. Without an understanding of the types of variation present management frequently undertakes the wrong strategy for change. This often makes things worse.

“Suboptimization is when everyone is for himself. Optimization is when everyone is working on behalf of the company.”

Physicians will focus on optimizing their own pay. They will conform to widely accepted standards or crimp the data to show they have. One need only look as far as stock option plans to see widespread malfeasance. Industry leaders and board members purposely back dated stock option grants, such that they could be guaranteed a profit. The incentive to improve corporate performance was twisted by CEO’s and Board members. Over 2,000 companies engaged in this practice.

“The merit system will put us out of business.”

Merit pay or pay for performance encourages people to focus on their pay rather than their work. Ranking and grading people drives internal competition stifling the cooperation needed amongst team members working to produce complex services. Barriers to sharing knowledge for improvement are introduced under ranking systems.

“Meeting specifications is not enough.” & “You cannot plan how to make a discovery. You do not plan innovation.”

With a strong focus on conformance to standards, innovation could suffer. Numerous medical innovations have lingered due to lack of recognition and reimbursement.

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

What theory does the Bush administration propose as the basis for incentivizing providers via pay for performance? Is it money is the number one motivator for all people? Is it conformance to standards or zero defects produces quality? If a flaw exists in either assumption, how are they reduced by their combination?

“Price is not the only cost.”

The greatest costs are unknown or unknowable, yet they can be managed with an understanding of profound knowledge. As Dr. Deming said:

“We are being ruined by best efforts.”

The Bush team certainly qualifies. How the Institute of Medicine jumped on board, I have no idea.

Medicare should use incentive payments, combined with the force of its $300 billion-per-year medical care budget, to improve the quality and efficiency of the U.S. health system, the IOM committee said Thursday. The committee said Congress and Medicare should move quickly to implement so-called "pay for performance" plans.

“It is a mistake to assume that if everybody does his job, it will be all right. The whole system may be in trouble.”

Yes, Dr. Deming it is….

Friday, September 22, 2006

That "One Punch" Bush Administration

Just after the news revealed Richard Armitage’s threat to knock Pakistan back to the Stone Ages with one punch, the Education Department OIG revealed the vaunted Bush reading program employed the same tactics. A key part of No Child Left Behind entails all elementary school children gaining reading comprehension skills by the 3rd grade. The OIG found the usual Bush mismanagement to be widespread in the Reading First program. The report stated:

These actions demonstrate that the program officials failed to maintain a control environment that exemplifies management integrity and accountability. (page 2)

In addition, the staff played favorites with vendors causing some states to switch programs. Two out of favor vendors earned the ire of program administrators to the point the chief bureaucrat said “additional firepower…may help us make this a one punch fight.” In later e-mail that same person wrote “I think this program bashing is best done off or under the major radar screens”. (page 24 & 25)

How Karlish! Who were they fighting for? They served as the staunch defenders of a reading program by SRA/McGraw Hill. Guess who serves on the McGraw Hill Board? Mr. Edward B Rust, Jr. also served as a member of President George W. Bush’s Transition Advisory Team Committee on Education. Hilda Ochoa-Brillembourg not only directs McGraw-Hill but also serves on the board of the World Bank/International Monetary Fund. Harold McGraw is a director of United Technologies, the huge defense contractor and chairs the Emergency Committee for American Trade. Yet another McGraw Hill Board member, Sidney Taurel, was appointed by Bush to the President’s Homeland Security Advisory Council. The company’s Chairman Emeritus was honored by President George H.W. Bush so even the parents have ties.
The world up on the Hill is “keep the President happy”. Did ensuring SRA/McGraw-Hill kept or grew their business make George Jr. smile? Only the Education department insiders know for sure!

Yes, the one punch Bush administration will face a punching of a different sort soon as people head to the polls this November. While the Presidential spot is not up for election, his cronies in Congress are. What will the people do?

Feds Drop Charge in Hamas Terrorism Trial

A dropped charge indicates the government’s need to restrict evidence, allow hearsay, and coerced testimony to convict suspected terrorists. The case against Muhammad Salah shrunk with the dropping of a charge of providing material support to terrorists. The precipitating event turned out to be a defense attorney’s request.

Deutsch asked for information about how much the FBI had paid Mustafa and whether he had an arrest record. It was then that prosecutor Joseph M. Ferguson said quietly that the government wanted to drop the charge with prejudice, meaning it cannot be reinstated. Prosecutors also said they were withdrawing Mustafa as a witness.

Had this been a military tribunal, the evidence could have been restricted. Relying on hearsay from a paid criminal doesn’t sound like a solid case. In this situation justice prevailed. Mr. Salah remains on trial on other charges.

Green? Democrats Imitate Republicans with Investment Houses

For those who still believe stark differences remain between America’s two political parties one need not look far to find commonalities. Corporate money drives both Republicans and Democrats. From lobbying to serving on investment house boards, many ex-politicos find their way into the business world. While the GOP’s Carlyle Group is an infamous investment house, Democratic imitators can be seen nearby. Ex. Senate Majority Leader, Tom Daschle jumped from the Capital to lobbying for Alston & Bird. Tom also serves on the board of Apollo Management, another investment house.

Ex. President Bill Clinton just announced the formation of yet another private equity group, the $1 billion Green Fund. It will invest in companies that help reduce the impact of climate change. One of the principals has his own investment house, the Yucaipa Companies LLC.
President Eisenhower saw the power of companies in overthrowing governments. Guatemala got a new leader courtesy of a banana company, while the worldwide respected President of Iran received a CIA delivered coup for nationalizing part of Anglo-Iranian oil. Dwight warned of the power of the military industrial complex.

Courtesy of both political parties, America now should be concerned of the government industrial monstrosity. While Clinton’s Green Fund might have a higher objective, the methods certainly seem questionable. Which political party will these companies donate to and what government influence will they receive in return? It already is a dirty business but with Democrats imitating the soilers, what can the American people expect? Will it get dirtier?

Musharraf Schooling Bush?

Bush plays the middle man not nearly as well as the fool. Scrambling to divorce himself from Richard Armitage’s threat to bomb Pakistan back to the Stone Ages, President Bush works hard to conceal his Flintstone ancestry. But what’s the real reason for the Pakistani President’s visit? Why is Pervez Musharraf meeting with our nation’s CEO? The news may have a clue.

Musharraf seized power in a 1999 coup. Instead of giving up his military uniform in 2004 as promised, he changed the constitution so he could hold both his army post and the presidency until 2007.

Might the Thai coup have given Bush some thoughts on undertaking a similar strategy? And who better to school the President than a long toothed coup taker? The problem might arise from Bush never have been a good student. Will he do any better now?

Bush Gets Deal on Detainee Treatment as Congress Caves

In a magical sleight of hand the Bush administration employed its usual wordsmiths to circumvent three Senators’ legitimate concerns. The news reported highlights of the agreement.

1. Requires that a defendant being tried by a military commission have access to any evidence given to a jury. That works if a jury exists. What happens when there is no jury? From Findlaw regarding military tribunals.

None of these problems exist with military tribunals. Trials without juries are always more efficient. And military officers have accepted the risk of personal harm as a concomitant of their work.

2. Drops a legislative mandate that a law alone satisfies America’s obligation under the Geneva Conventions.

3. Prohibits “grave” breaches of the Geneva Conventions and defines those as acts such as torture (already redefined by Bush), rape, biological experiments, and cruel and inhuman treatment. So much for the Bush team adding clarity to the existing language in the Geneva Conventions!

Will the U.S.’s use of new weapons on terror suspects be considered biological experiments? The military plans to use microwave radiation to disperse crowds. It also has plans to use other “non-lethal” means of inflicting pain.

June 2004 The Pentagon denied that a new "non-lethal" ray gun that fires millimeter-wave electromagnetic energy, which penetrates the skin and instantly heats water molecules to 130 degrees, might be used as a torture device. No one has been able to stand the pain caused by the weapon, known as the "Active Denial System," for more than 3 seconds.»[Sacramento Bee]

July 2005 The Active Denial System weapon's beam causes pain within 2 to 3 seconds and it becomes intolerable after less than 5 seconds. People's reflex responses to the pain is expected to force them to move out of the beam before their skin can be burnt….A vehicle-mounted version of ADS called Sheriff could be in service in Iraq in 2006 according to the Department of Defense, and it is also being evaluated by the US Department of Energy for use in defending nuclear facilities. The US marines and police are both working on portable versions, and the US air force is building a system for controlling riots from the air.

Where does this new technology fit under the Geneva Conventions and the negotiated White House/Congress deal?

The article went on to say “the details of the agreement were sketchy”. Yes, everything about this administration is sleazy, mean spirited, and covered in sketchiness. This is the same President who said:

On February 7, 2002, the President announced that the United States will treat the detainees "humanely and, to the extent appropriate and consistent with military necessity, in a manner consistent with the principles of third Geneva Convention of 1949."

Does this mean he didn’t know what he spoke about then as he called the Geneva Conventions open to interpretation? Maybe, but more likely is his minions spent 4½ years pushing the envelope on each and every standard. In Bush’s mind to break down a terrorist, America has to break down the Geneva Conventions. From here it appears our revenge minded national CEO already had his break down.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Bush is a Flintstone!

Senator George Allen just found out about his Jewish heritage, quite the surprise for the Confederate Flag lover in his younger days. It appears President Bush has similar secret ancestors given the astounding revelation of Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf. He told 60 Minutes that after 9-11, President Bush threatened to bomb Pakistan back to the Stone Age unless the Pakistani leader helped in the War on Terror.

Little did George know his heritage runs back to Fred and Wilma Flintstone. His genes make it easy for him to bomb or support bombings that take country back decades if not millenniums. His heritage makes his synapses make the quick jump to torture via water or fire. It also explains his Cro-Magnon lieutenants, Vice President Dick Cheney and the man who delivered the threat to Musharraf, Richard Armitage. Richard recently revealed his role in leaking the CIA agent name to columnist Bob Novak. Stone age leaders don’t have to follow the rules, they make them!

It’s one big Stone Age party, the Bushies in D.C. Toss back the clock to yet another age!

Blegacy is Rich Get Richer

The Bush legacy shows to reach the top 400 richest people in America now requires one to be a member of the billionaires club. For the first time in history having hundreds of millions won’t get you on the Forbes list.

Even before Census statistics showed the number of rich and poor increasing at the expense of the middle class, income distribution revealed some disturbing numbers. Before the Bush administration took office implementing policies favorable towards the rich, America’s top 1% owned 33% of the wealth, the top 5% controlled 59%, and the top 10% sheltered 71% of our country’s wealth.

"You can have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, or democracy, but you cannot have both."-- Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis

Have you noticed the income levels of most candidates in recent elections? Super rich Mayors, Governors, even Presidential candidates with such ample personal or campaign funds, they avoid the federal money due to the limitations that come along with taking such.

Bush Foils All too Happy to Comply

Rather than raise their concerns in a rational, legitimate fashion Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez called President Bush “the Devil” while Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad questioned the evidence the Holocaust ever happened. In our Rovian world extreme behavior of the blacklisted causes others to discount them completely. Similar behavior by the favored requires only the promise of an investigation or the slightest of apologies.

Rest assured the War President has strategies in store for the two offenders. Bush will tamper with the Venezuelan democracy by supporting insurgent groups within that oil rich country. For the Iranian leader, either America or its proxy will deliver a “cease and desist” planeload of bombs to his nuclear facilities. Our proxy says only months remain before the Iranians reach the point of no return.

Bush couldn’t be happier with Chavi Boy and Little Bearded Man’s performances at the United Nations. While the President ponders his great world bleeder speech to that august body, his minions have nefarious plans to tinker and carry out. Rest assured, the War President will make his presence felt.

Public Service is Now Private According to BushCo

Bush’s retro government has more in common with Richard Nixon than a failed war turned into a no-win quagmire. Now the Bush administration asserts information about visitors to the White House should be protected under “deliberative process privilege”. This privilege allows the executive branch to seek advice and deliberate policy decisions in private without having to reveal the information under the Freedom of Information Act. The Justice Department argued this applied even to White House attendance logs.

Richard Nixon invoked a similar tactic, executive privilege to shield information from Congress or the courts under the pretext of getting candid advice. The parallels between the Bush and Nixon administrations are all too freaky for this high schooler during Tricky Dick’s days.

While Bush talks of a third awakening, it looks more like the second shade pulling. The light just can’t shine where it needs to ensure honest and ethical leadership. While Bush wants to be a Biblical level figure when history is written, he might want to chill out on the whole torture thing, unless George wants to look like Pontius Pilate.

Bush looks dictatorial as he waves his hand to shield information, orders the torturing of infidels, stamps out of dissent, uses violence to impose change, and meets only with throngs of strident supporters. Taken together these practices don’t bode well for a Christ like leadership experience. “In his name only” could be the mantra for the Bush administration as it pursues its dastardly deeds.

Are The Carlyle Group & Tenet Healthcare Next?

A grand jury indicted the owners of St. Rita’s Nursing Home on charges of negligent homicide and cruelty to the infirmed for the deaths of 35 patients post Hurricane Katrina. Another facility lost virtually the same number of patients, Memorial Hospital in New Orleans. LifeCare’s unit within Memorial lost 24 patients while in the main hospital 21 patients died. Tenet said 11 of their 21 expired prior to the hurricane’s strike for a net 34 patients lost.

Will LifeCare’s owners, The Carlyle Group, and Memorial’s parent, Tenet Healthcare face similar charges? Tenet has since sold the facility while LifeCare plays hands off on the possible patient euthanasia that occurred on their patients. The legal paperwork against Dr. Ana Pou and two Memorial nurses indicates LifeCare employees did not take proper steps to protect their patients from non-LifeCare clinicians.

The White House Lessons Learned report did a non-investigation into the handling of nursing home and hospital patients both pre and post storm. The Carlyle Group’s LifeCare and Tenet got not one mention in the report despite 34 patient deaths. I finally ran across a much better documentation of what happened.

After Katrina, The Urban Institute’s report is what I expected from an investigation. The White House report is a white wash. Carlyle and Tenet are likely thankful for that.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Another Indicator Oils Have Lowered their Margins for 3rd Quarter

Some time ago I predicted the oil companies would purposefully reduce their margins for the July-September quarter this year as results will be posted just weeks before the November election. It wouldn’t do to have another record quarter, sending outraged voters to the polls with regime change on their minds.

Recent data shows oil prices near $60 a barrel, down 23% from the July high of $78. My local gas prices are now $2.25 a gallon, down from $3.10. This drop is over 27%. Someone’s margins have taken a hit. Is it the producers’, refiners’ or retailers’?

They’ll still post a heft profit, it just won’t be near a record. Bush’s approval ratings have risen relative to only one statistic, the decline of gas prices. None of his signature efforts, Iraq, health care, taxes have gone up in popularity.

Once the corporate insiders manipulate public opinion to get a Republican Congress re-elected, “katy bar the door” on oil and gas prices, especially if America or its proxy bombs Iranian nuclear facilities. Those predictions of $100 a barrel oil may come roaring back and with it the oils' profit margins.

Chavi Boy & Ahmadinejad Issue “Invitations” to Bully Bush

As the world stage grows ever more bizarre, the three stooges all spoke at the United Nations in the last 24 hours. President Bush gave his one sided view of all the good he wants to force on the world in his motivation to wipe out the “bad guys”. His foils later took the stand challenging the U.S. leader sitting on his throne.

Hugo Chavez called Bush “the Devil”. Will this usher in another round of CIA fomented regime change? Will George Bush finally take Rev. Pat Robertson, his Secretary of Faith up on his advice?

The Iranian President challenged the United States role in the U.N. Security Council in preventing the United Nations from dealing with critical situations in an urgent matter. He used the Israeli invasion of Lebanon as an example. Ahmadinejad said his differences were with the U.S. President, not the American people.

"I explicitly say that I am against the policies chosen by the U.S. government to run the world because these policies are moving the world toward war.”

Yes, they are Mahmoud and in case you didn’t notice, Bush needs little provocation to invade or attack another country as seen in the molehill of thin evidence for the Iraqi War.

All three leaders are elected in their Republic forms of government. Why do worldwide elections systems select leaders incapable of mutual and cooperative behavior? Is that another gift of democracy in the permanent campaign version?

Tale of Two Meetings, U.N. & IMF-World Bank

At the United Nations the talk is peace as a necessity to avoid outright global conflict. A Nobel Peace Prize recipient had this to say:

As speaker after speaker expressed concern about the rise of terrorism in the world, Costa Rican President Oscar Arias, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, warned that military spending was not the answer. He said that more than $200 billion had been added to global military spending since the Sept. 11 attacks five years ago. "There is not a single indicator that suggests that this colossal increase is making the world more secure and human rights more widely enjoyed," he said. "On the contrary, we feel more and more vulnerable and fragile."

Meanwhile across the globe the IMF-World Bank meeting ended with consensus on the need to revive global trade talks and reduce risks to global growth. The well known hawk leader of the World Bank, Paul Wolfowitz came under fire during the meeting for holding back over $1 billion in aid to countries believed to be involved in illegal activities or projects suspected of graft. That leaves out the U.S. Congress and most Halliburton contracted projects!

Wolfowitz acknowledged during the conference that the poor should not be penalized for the abuses of their leaders. "We must seize the moment to cater for the poorest of the world," he said in closing remarks on Wednesday. The World Bank urged the international community to step up aid to Africa, where it says 1 billion people live on less than US$1 a day, almost a third of them in sub-Saharan Africa. In particular, it highlighted the needs of Sierra Leone, Liberia and other countries that have recently emerged from crisis.

Recently several African countries indicated they would spend more of their national budget for military purposes. Does anyone else find it interesting the World Bank would be silent on such a shift? What corporate directorships might Mr.Wolfowitz have that influences his thinking? Ex-Defense Department officials are scattered across the boards of numerous defense contractors.

Now that Paul is working for a bank, might money movers be interested in his governance capabilities? He served on the Board of Hasbro after directing eleven mutual funds of the Dreyfus Corporation earlier in his career. While a toy company can be discounted, the people he served with have an interesting background. A Vice Chairman of Kissinger Associates, a Vice Chair of Bear Stearns and even the Chair of the American Jewish Distribution Committee served alongside Paul at Hasbro. The long list of interlocking directorships is clear from this one proxy.

As the Defense Department’s Deputy Secretary Paul facilitated the sale of U.S. corporate military goods and services to Taiwan via the US-Taiwan Business Council. He worked alongside his buddy, now Chairman Emeritus of The Carlyle Group Frank Carlucci.

While world leaders decry the spread of military spending post 9-11, the world’s financing organization for underdeveloped countries is silent on the matter. Anyone wonder why?

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Time Mag Arrived with Letters Cut Out?

Always a fan of the letters to Time, I opened my current issue with the Iranian President on the cover to find the page 14 where the contents said the letters would be, cut out. A small sliver remains where the offending material once resided. I can only wonder if some intrepid staffer pulled a Studio 60 by inserting something challenging to the current somnambulism prevalent in America. Did they insert my letter to Time?

Dear Editor,

Two seemingly unrelated stories stood side by side in your August 28th edition, How to Spot a Liar and Katrina: One Year Later.

Can we hook up the new liar technology to White House officials to find out why The Carlyle Group's LifeCare Hospitals’ 24 patient deaths post Hurricane Katrina got not one mention in their Lessons Learned report? What might it tell us?

Economists Worried about Falling Energy Prices?

Usually economists label a measure a leading or lagging economic indicator, however today’s AP article on the impact of falling energy prices sounds more like a bunch of mush. Economists cite rapidly rising oil and gas prices had virtually no impact on economic growth last year and most of 2006. With energy costs such a small portion of the U.S. household budget, why would their decline now foreshadow gloom?

The article later states the stagnating real estate market and higher interest rates are the real concern of economists. So why does the media via its title suggest falling energy prices to be problematic? Could it be to set the expectation for their rise?

With September on the downhill side, 3rd quarter oil company books will close in less than two weeks. These profits will hit the newsstands just weeks before the November elections. They will be significantly less than the record levels seen the last 4 quarters, as the oils don’t want an upset populace marching to the voting machines, electronic or not.

Yet, they need to get prices moving upwards to get back on track for a record 4th quarter. What better way than have the media imply rising energy prices would be good for the economy! Down the rabbit hole, we continue to go….

Bush Negates 2nd Reason for Iraq War in U.N. Speech

After finding no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, Bush shifted his reason for invading to free the people of a horrific oppressor, Saddam Hussein. In his plea to the United Nations to do nothing to advance peace in the region until after Israel bombs Iran’s nuclear processing facilities, President Bush said:

Freedom, by its nature, cannot be imposed -- it must be chosen.

So why did we invade Iraq again? And why do we continue to war in the pursuit of peace? How did Israel’s imposition of Lebanon aid freedom, since it cannot be forced? Why does the U.S. continue to impose the Quartet as the necessary body to lead peace in the region when the Arab League and U.N. desire a broader peace than the now dead Roadmap slated for completion in 2005?

While Bush encouraged the U.N. to return to its high ideals with its hands cuffed behind its back, the President shat on American jurisprudence with his continued lobbying for use of hearsay, coerced testimony and restricted access to evidence. Someone uncuff the United Nations and hose down U.S. justice. Hide them away the next time the Bushman comes around.

New Family Value, Torture!

Apparently listening to sermons preaching fire and brimstone isn’t torturous enough. Family values means more than just imaging the damning lake of fire, it entails ensuring Biblical level suffering is inflicted upon infidels. The techniques have been updated for our century. Rather than dunk suspected evildoers in the closest river or lake, modern day plumbing enables the drowning to occur inside a jail cell.

Two techniques approximate a winter time dunking in the Elizabeth River. One, the prisoner is kept naked in a 50 degree cell and splashed with cold water for days at a time. The second is called waterboarding, where the prisoner only thinks they are drowning. Really they are just suffocating due to plastic wrap over their face while water splashes over them.

Groups endorsing these practices include the Family Research Council and The Traditional Values Coalition. Apparently these are common adolescent behavior modification practices in the Biblical family known for treating others the way they wish to be treated. Leaders of both groups implied those blocking the President’s plan to use coercive techniques and testimony, hearsay, and restrict access to evidence will pay the political price.

Maverick status is looked upon as a strength in Congress, but a maverick in the White House is not looked upon with great admiration from our folks," Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, said Monday.

"Politically, this isn't wise," added the Rev. Louis Sheldon, chairman of the Traditional Values Coalition, which supports the president's call for Congress to approve tough interrogation techniques for terrorism suspects.

Tony Perkins and Rev. Sheldon likely desire the day any God fearing Christian can simply shout “This person is possessed” and the might of governmental power descends upon the innocent victim. Yes, bring back the use of hearsay that saw many innocents in America’s early history exterminated for crop failures and violent storms.

Yet, there is no price for the government's failure to live up to America's traditional values.

Excuses for Not Moving Ahead with Peace Plan: Dead Plan, Wrong Group?

The United States is reluctant to allow the United Nations Security Council to consider an Arab League peace proposal with the goal of ending all Arab-Israeli conflicts. AP reports the Bush administration’s reluctance centers on which bureaucracy spearheads the peace effort, preferring the Quartet over the United Nations. The Quartet drafted the Roadmap to Peace then sat idly by as Israel and Palestine ignored their responsibilities under the agreement. The target date for the Quartet’s independent Palestinian state? 2005, a year already past.

So Bush wants to rely on a dead plan instead of taking the opportunity to actively work for a broader peace in the region. Why? Cause he ain’t done warring yet…

Bush Wisdom Similar to Pilate

“When your only tool is torture, everyone not like you begins to resemble a terrorist.”

This drives the Bush concern about domestic lone wolfs, otherwise known as people who would join the KKK or American Nazi Party but are so strange, even those groups won’t let them join. It also includes sociopaths and sadists who like to implement their craft on a large scale. Many of these lone wolfs are ex-military, trained in the use of overwhelming force. Timothy McVeigh stands as an example.

But who will the Bushies go after in their search? If past efforts are any indication, they will go after peaceful groups like the Quakers, liberal churches who challenge their worship of markets and forces of supply & demand. They will target individual American citizens expressing “anti-Bush” rhetoric online.

“You’re either with us or against up” is scheduled for significant domestic promotion. The problem arises when any American who graduated elementary school examines the Bush positions for logic and consistency finds them wanting. It’s expounded by those who look to the lived life of Christ for wisdom and see the Bushies twisting the teachings of the Prince of Peace.

Should Christ return today, he’d be identified as an internal threat to American security. Would Jesus be waterboarded, the modern day counterpart to hanging on a cross? Would a waterboard become a new religious symbol?

If a third awakening is truly coming, it would have Bush playing the role of Pontius Pilate, that is if we want to be accurate. Bush Co. implemented torture in secret and spent the last year pressing hard for legal approval. Jesus never promoted torture of anyone. So much for Bush's messiah aspirations!

Monday, September 18, 2006

Election Numbers, Oil Profits and National Deficits

Earlier this year I suggested the oil companies would lower prices during July, August and September, thus reducing third quarter profits as they would be announced just weeks before the November elections. Another round of record oil profits would send angry consumers/voters to the polls.

The challenge comes in increasing margins during October so the final quarter of 2006 can return to gang buster status. While an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities will cause profits to soar instantaneously, that’s months away according to the Israeli foreign minister. So how do the oil’s get prices to inch up ever so slowly the consumer doesn’t feel high heat?

Oil prices rose by more than $1 a barrel Monday after BP PLC said output from a massive Gulf of Mexico platform damaged by last year's Hurricane Dennis would not be restored until mid-2008, at the earliest.

Huh? Didn’t the oils just cite supply exceeding demand as the reason for the pronounced drop off this past month? How does a supply source offline since last year factor into the situation?

The second number Bush will be taking credit for is the reduced federal deficit. This will be waved in front of the country as evidence the Bush tax plan works and his success in reigning in federal spending. What he won’t say is Congress and the President pushed 9 days worth or 2.5% of Medicare and Medicaid spending into the 2007 fiscal year. They are reducing the federal deficit through the use of shell games.

The President’s 2007 budget calls for $647 billion on health care, 57% for Medicare and 33% for Medicaid. Using these figures as approximate for 2006, the federal government budgeted $582 billion for the two programs. A nine hold would push $14.4 billion dollars of care into the next fiscal year. Tack $13 billion onto the number the President says he saved the country in 2006 due to his “outstanding” leadership.

I suggest we honor those leaders by leaving them outstanding in their fields this November. Don’t send them back to Washington!

Real Reason Pentagon Special Operations Chief Quitting?

The Pentagon attributes the resignation of its top special operations policy maker to “fallout” from a major reorganization of Rumsfeld’s top advisors. Thomas W. O’Connell gave his several month notice, staying until the November elections.

While reading the blurb, a thought came to mind. This sounded like a bunch of hooey. In the business world people never give the real reason for their resignation, unless they’ve reached retirement. Usually a divisive relationship or issue caused the move.

My question arose around the use of “fallout” in the description. A possible issue of division could be the dropping nuclear weapons on Iran post elections. Israeli foreign secretary Tivi Livni said in a weekend interview, only months remained before Iran achieved critical nuclear enrichment capabilities.

King Abdullah screams for an immediate return of all parties for Middle East peace. His cries fall on deaf ears. Does the U.S. and its proxy, Israel (from George Bush’s words) not want to be at the bargaining table when the nukes fall on Iran’s nuclear facilities? That would be truly bad form.

Only General O’Connell knows the real reason for his resignation and he ain’t talking past fluff. Time will show whether fallout foreshadows anything or not. But if Bush Co. bombs Iran’s nuclear facilities look for it to be just after the election or post New Year.

The question is whether George wants to risk $100 a barrel oil right before Thanksgiving and Christmas. Probably not, but what if Tivi’s right and there are only months? 2007 is looking like it might be a very bad year. Human rage driven storm clouds are organized and strengthening as I write.

Bush’s 4 Letter Word, Open Mouth Chewing Form of Justice

As the U.S. Congress wrestles with legislation on how to conduct fair trials of suspected terrorists, the word civilized keeps popping up. Bush wants the civilized world to help moderates in the Middle East succeed.

"The civilized world must stand with moderate, reformist-minded people and help them realize their dreams," Bush said at a news conference Friday.

The problem is much of the world sees Bush’s terror plans as uncivilized and is offended by the use of coerced testimony, hearsay, and restricted access to evidence. Even military leaders are disturbed by the President’s aggressive push.

“I’m not aware of any situation in the world where there is a system of jurisprudence that is recognized by civilized people where an individual can be tried and convicted without seeing the evidence against him.” Brigadier General James Walker, U.S. Marine Corps staff judge advocate

If the President’s plans go through, does the U.S. not join the uncivilized world? Who will be left to help the moderate, reformist minded people to realize their dreams?

Sunday, September 17, 2006

What Year in Iraq? Who is in Charge?

Picture this, almost 14,000 people held in Iraqi prisons with most unaware of the charges against them. With no access to lawyers and no ability to contact their families, loved ones have no idea of their whereabouts or if they’re still alive. Reports show prisoners have suffered sadistic abuse, torture and death. Most have no idea when or if they will ever be released.

What year is this, who is in charge? It’s 2006 and this describes people held in American prisons in Iraq since 2003. Some 18,000 have been released during this time. None of the detainees in U.S. hands are treated in accord with the Geneva Conventions, a familiar refrain with the Bush administration.

Frist Job on the Line for Executive President

Senator Majority Leader Bill Frist commented he had more arm twisting to do with Senators McCain, Warner and Graham to get them in line with the President’s plans on use of restricted evidence, hearsay and coerced testimony.

Getting his GOP members in line "is a fundamental challenge from a leadership standpoint," said Frist.

Just last week, the President implied if his generals are wrong on the ground in Iraq, he has the wrong people working for him.

If Frist cannot strong arm the three senators with military records on this issue, the President might conclude he has the wrong head party official in the Senate. Bush wants his way, and expects his political compadres to step in line.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Government Leaders to Kill Second Post Watergate Reform

First the Bush administration thumbs its nose with impunity at the FISA law regulating domestic spying, now both political parties join together to render post Nixon campaign financing moot. Presidential candidates will likely snub public financing for the 2008 race so each side can spend $500 million to get their candidate elected. That’s $1 billion! In 2004 hospital unfunded care nationwide amounted to $24 billion.

It is clear elections have become the providence of the wealthy. One look reveals numerous super rich candidates funding their own campaigns. Another look finds obscene amounts of money funneled in the direction of elected officials in America’s permanent campaign.

"The 2008 presidential election is going to be the Wild West," said Michael Toner, the Republican chairman of the Federal Election Commission. "Upward of $500 million is the likely goal of presidential fundraising per candidate."

Reforms to reduce corrupt political activity post Watergate, have washed away under the current influence purchasing system. It is sad to see. Don’t tell we need another impeachment to right the system of wrongs? It will take a Congress with much more courage than the current version.

IRS Has Two Huge Jobs Ahead

Two recent stories reveal the hard work the Internal Revenue Service has ahead of it to keep businesses and churches honest. The first story involved tax havens and the use of offshore companies to shelter deals from U.S. taxes. Presidential Pioneers Sam and Charles Wyly’s practices occupy hundreds of pages of the House report on tax dodgers and cheats. The Carlyle Group has offshore divisions in the Cayman Islands that benefited from the sale of millions of shares of United Defense Industries stock prior to its takeover by BAE Systems in 2005.

The second story involved a liberal church in Southern California. The priest spoke negatively of the Bush tax cuts prior to the 2004 election. That same sale saved Carlyle insiders almost $1 million in capital gains taxes as the Bush team dropped people from Medicaid. Regardless of the accuracy of the priest’s statement, the IRS ordered the church to present any politically charged sermons, newsletters and electronic communications by September 29th.

Our countries tax police have a huge job in going after churches who dabble in politics. The Texas Restoration Project and Reformation Ohio are a blatant attempt to mingle politics and the pulpit. Will the IRS swing both ways or will it be the club used by incumbents to batter their political opposition? Bush likes a club in more ways than one.

The Master of Flawed Logic, Bliar Himself!

Bush pronounced Colin Powell’s concern that the President’s rewriting of the Geneva Conventions could cause the world to “doubt the moral basis” of the fight flawed logic. His designation of poppycock is laughable given the flawed logic repeatedly used by this administration. Take healthcare, where demand already exceeds supply.

The President wants to unleash the negotiating power of 3 million Health Savings Accounts owners out of almost 300 million U.S. residents. When was the last time you saw 1% of a market flip pricing practices? A recent GAO study revealed only half of those eligible to fund their health savings accounts, actually do so. Few of these consumers with the incentive to talk price do so with doctors or hospitals. Now how will a market flip with .1% of consumers actively discussing price?

The Bush healthcare plan is simple, shift government and employer health care costs to the individual. Employers under Bush’s plans can save 35% on their health benefits by simply switching to a high deductible health plan. The government plans to impose premium sharing, higher deductibles and co-pays for the poor on Medicaid. The feds greased the skids and state legislatures will soon take advantage of these cost savings opportunities.

Congress put a hold on all federal health care money to providers the last 10 days of September. They are pushing their FY 2006 bills into FY 2007. The logic behind this is to reduce the deficit numbers coming out right before the November election. Do you think the President will share the manipulative reason for such a hold on provider payments? Or course not, what makes sense to him is OK, what’s doesn’t is flawed logic. The problems is Bush’s lies are on record. My best source is the White House website. All it takes is a little digging to find the latest Bliar statement.

Bush’s Tax Plan Saveth nearly $1 Million for 5 Rich Guys on 1 Deal

In researching the profits The Carlyle Group made off the sale of United Defense Industries, a question came to mind. How much did key board members of UDI save in capital gains taxes under Bush’s low taxes plan? I pointed out 5 members of the Board and the profits they pocketed in an earlier post. (Numbers are rounded but closely approximate the actual figure)

William Conway's gross proceeds $15,000,000

Assuming a $15 basis per share in light of the $75 closing price, the profit equates to 80% of the total amount.

William Conway's capital gain $12,000,000

Under the old tax schedule Mr. Conway would have paid 20% of his profits as capital gains, while the Bush plan has people paying 15%

Old rate $2,400,000
Bush rate $1,800,000

Mr. Conway saved $600,000 under the current administration’s tax scheme on one transaction.
The other 4 board members combined pocketed roughly $8 million in the transaction. Using similar assumptions the capital gain would be $6.4 million.

Old rate $1,280,000
Bush rate $ 960,000

The other members saved $320,000 under Bush’s plan. Five already rich gentlemen saved nearly $1 million in capital gains taxes in the sale of one company. This is dwarfed by the profits The Carlyle Group obtained of over $3.5 billion from owning UDI.

As the Bush team asks poor people on Medicaid to pay a portion of their premium as well as increasing deductibles and co-pays, it is important to understand why.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Vague Article III & Interrogations

President Bush stated in his Rose Garden Press Conference a barrier to CIA agents doing their job as interrogators is a vague article in the Geneva Conventions. Were this truly a blockage would it be identified as a problem for the first time five years into the war on terror? No, of course not.

The issue centers on Bush’s not liking the old international interpretation of Article III. He wants to rewrite it using his definitions which significantly lower the bar. Bush blew major smoke when he suggested North Korea’s or Iran’s use of secret evidence to convict and execute American soldiers would be a good thing.

Q Mr. President, critics of your proposed bill on interrogation rules say there's another important test -- these critics include John McCain, who you've mentioned several times this morning -- and that test is this: If a CIA officer, paramilitary or special operations soldier from the United States were captured in Iran or North Korea, and they were roughed up, and those governments said, well, they were interrogated in accordance with our interpretation of the Geneva Conventions, and then they were put on trial and they were convicted based on secret evidence that they were not able to see, how would you react to that, as Commander-in-Chief?

THE PRESIDENT: David, my reaction is, is that if the nations such as those you named, adopted the standards within the Detainee Detention Act, the world would be better. That's my reaction. We're trying to clarify law. We're trying to set high standards, not ambiguous standards….

THE PRESIDENT: And that is the program is not going forward. David, you can give a hypothetical about North Korea, or any other country, the point is that the program is not going to go forward if our professionals do not have clarity in the law. And the best way to provide clarity in the law is to make sure the Detainee Treatment Act is the crux of the law. That's how we define Common Article III, and it sets a good standard for the countries that you just talked about….

THE PRESIDENT: I am saying that I would hope that they would adopt the same standards we adopt; and that by clarifying Article III, we make it stronger, we make it clearer, we make it definite.
And I will tell you again, David, you can ask every hypothetical you want, but the American people have got to know the facts. And the bottom line is simple: If Congress passes a law that does not clarify the rules, if they do not do that, the program is not going forward.

Q This will not endanger U.S. troops, in your --


Q This will not endanger U.S. troops --

THE PRESIDENT: David, next man, please. Thank you. It took you a long time to unravel, and it took you a long time to ask your question.

Who believes this dressed up turkey will fly? Who thinks Bush wouldn’t come undone if Iran convicted a U.S. soldier on secret evidence? The man is a snake oil salesman.

Early Data on Health Savings Accounts

The General Accounting Office released data from a study on people with health savings accounts. This can be added to the recent study of Midwest farmers using high deductible health plans to get a picture of the impact of the President’s signature program to reign in health care costs.

The report studied only people with high deductible plans and funded health savings accounts. No statistics were gathered for people under such plans without a HSA. Some key results for the under 65 age group are below:

· 51% of people with HSA’s make $75,000 or more vs. 18% of the general population
· Average age of HSA funders was 9 years higher than the general population according to IRS data
· 55% of HSA eligible plan enrollees contribute to their health savings account while 45% do not.
· Many participants were unsure about what medical expenses qualified for payment under their HSA
· Few researched the cost of hospital or physician services before obtaining care
· Participants said they would recommend HSA’s to healthy consumers, but not to people who use maintenance medication, have a chronic condition, have children, or may not have the funds to meet a high deductible.

The Bush plan has the bargaining power of the individual patient driving down the cost of health care where the government (with 80 million insureds) failed. Almost half of those eligible for HSA’s don’t fund them, so they miss any tax benefits. These folks bear the costs associated with high deductible care with after tax money. Their experience likely mirrors the Kansas farmers who found rising medical debt the benefit of high deductible health plans.

Another Bush initiative fails to live up to its promise. Sure it’s early, but staying on this track avoids more fundamental, systemic reforms. Bush’s aim is to reduce employer and government sponsored coverage shifting responsibility for health care back to the individual. The data shows who benefits from his plans, the wealthy and the healthy. In other words the people who don’t need much health care and can already afford it!

Belligerent Bush Holds News Conference

With “My Way’ as background music, President Bush held a Rose Garden news conference. His bombastic rhetoric included threats to shut down the current successful interrogation program. Bush continues to push for restricted access to evidence, inclusion of hearsay and coerced testimony.

In the press session he suggested legal decisions declaring his terrorist strategies illegal, to be wrong. For those reasons his plans need to be codified and Congress is to cooperate.

Meanwhile it looks like the Senate will challenge the Bush trial and torture plans while the House may bristle over the President’s domestic spying initiative. With the other chamber playing softie, the competing bills will be negotiated in conference. There Bush will pull out all the stops. Expect to see lots of Cheney slinking around the halls at conference time.

What Happened to Divine Strake Test?

With the bombing of Iran’s nuclear facilities set up by a misleading House report, what is the status of the postponed bombing of the underground tunnel in Nevada?

The Divine Strake test entails detonating 700 tons of explosives at the Nevada Test Site to measure the damage done to a tunnel by the blast and the 3.4-magnitude earthquake it would create. Pentagon budget documents said the test was designed to help war planners choose the smallest possible nuclear weapon to destroy underground targets, but Pentagon officials later said the reference to nuclear weapons was a mistake.

The Divine Strake explosion would be roughly 50 times larger than the blast from the largest conventional weapon and on par with small nuclear weapons. The test had been scheduled for June 2, but was postponed after members of Congress questioned the planning and a lawsuit was filed.

The tunnel is 1100 feet underground. Iran’s nuclear facilities are buried below ground and data from this test could be useful for planning any attack. The Pentagon considered moving the test to Indiana but recently ruled that out. What are their plans?

Earlier this month, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency notified Congress that the test would not proceed until several months into 2007, at the earliest, and that the agency would look at other potential sites. Several similar blasts, some several times larger than Divine Strake, were conducted between 1977 and 1991 at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.

Also on Wednesday, the new chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Dale Klein, said he supports the Divine Strake test. Klein, a former Defense Department official who worked on nuclear, chemical and biological defense programs, said the Divine Strake test would improve computer models designed to calculate how much force is needed to destroy an underground target. He also reiterated earlier statements that some renewed nuclear tests might help improve nuclear weapons reliability.

The issue of intent returns to nuclear weapons despite the Pentagon’s retraction and attempted word smithing. The question in my mind, are the results of this test critical to any U.S. or Israeli efforts to destroy Iranian nuclear capability? If yes, such bombing is likely a year off.

Politically, the Bush team works on the set up. The misleading House report was authored by a CIA operative assigned to U.N. Ambassador John Bolton and approved by National Intelligence Director John Negroponte. When the military and political tactics cross to actual bombing, time will tell!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Greasing the Skids for Unilateral Action regarding Palestine and Iran

The AP news article titled “U.S. , Israel Eye to Eye on Mideast Peace” told of Israel’s foreign minister and the U.S. Secretary of States accord. Both Tzipi Livni and Condi Rice issued identical demands regarding a Palestinian unity government and both say the world cannot afford a nuclear Iran.

In a surprise move, President Bush popped in unexpectedly on the two foreign secretaries.

The president assured Livni of his strong support for Israel's security and discussed with her "the threat posed by the Iranian and Syrian regimes."

The unilateral action in Palestine is to starve them out, while the dynamic duo will likely bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities in the not so distant future. The question is whether America’s proxy will use conventional or nuclear weapons to reduce the threat?

FCC’s Deep Sixing Conglomerate News Reporting Study Looks Suspicious

Leaks reveal the Federal Communications Committee under the leadership of Michael Powell deep sixed a draft news study showing independent local stations provided more news on location and in total. This conclusion ran contrary to the FCC’s position on allowing more media integration. While flipping through the net I ran across an interview with Michael Powell from 2003. In it he said:

We're not pro-business because I know better than anybody that they might want to control. What we examine is, could you succeed [at shutting out other voices]?

That’s odd, if he isn’t pro-business why did he order copies of the draft report destroyed? He said something later in the interview that resonated with me.

Last point ... the problem in a society is not concentration and scarcity but actually abundance, fragmentation and hyper competition.

I agree with the fragmentation and hyper competition assessment but not applied to the media. It fits with America’s political parties. Fragmentation and hyper competition are souring the milk in our country’s political cereal bowl. How bad will it stink by the first Tuesday in November?

Bush Pulls Out the Stops to Push for Un-American Justice

President Bush continues his full court press to the House to pass legislation legitimizing his terror plans, several having recently failed legal challenges. The language being thrown around is surely Rovian.

Senators proposing an alternative plan with key hallmarks of American justice are called “rebellious”. Two Secretaries of State have weighed in on Bush’s plans. Condi Rice gives them a green light, while Colin Powell says thumbs down.

"The world is beginning to doubt the moral basis of our fight against terrorism," said Powell, who served under Bush and is a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. "To redefine Common Article 3 would add to those doubts. Furthermore, it would put our own troops at risk."

Bush suggests his plans are necessary to achieve “legal clarity”. The law is clear, that’s why courts (including the Supremes) ruled against him. What he wants is permission, not clarity. That includes permission to use hearsay and coerced evidence. Does that sound like the KGB to you?

The President needs the House to deliver his hard nosed version of injustice given the Senate’s likely move keeping several hallmarks of American justice. As Bush left the House caucus he said he:

"reminded them that the most important job of government is to protect the homeland."

The President’s calls for unity look more like manipulation to implement his terrorist strategies with impunity. The loser of two court decisions pushing the same things that got him in trouble should be called the defier, not the Senators clinging to American patterns and practices of justice. Bush lies, Bush defies, the record is clear.

If his plans pass, the moral basis for our war on terror loses its clarity.

War Profiteering & Connection to Washington Policy Makers?

Juan Cole of Informed Comment posited the connection between war profiteering and U.S. policy makers. In doing so he linked to an article about BAE Systems recent outstanding profits. Bloomberg reported:

BAE Systems Plc, Europe’s biggest weapons maker, said first-half profit rose 28%, more than analysts estimated, on US orders for Bradley fighting vehicles used in Iraq. BAE purchased United Defense Industries Inc, the maker of the Bradley, in June 2005 to become the Pentagon’s seventh-biggest contractor.

What the article didn’t say is who owned United Defense Industries prior to June 2005? The infamously politically connected Carlyle Group with the Pennsylvania Avenue address owned UDI from 1997 to the sale. The value of the transaction was $4.2 billion per the UDI website. Carlyle purchased the company in 1997 for $850 million. The prospectus indicates owners include Carlyle Offshore affiliates in the Cayman Islands. Didn't that other pair of Bush insiders, Charles and Sam Wyly uses such offshore transactions to defraud the federal government? The Wyly's practices occupied hundreds of pages in the Senate's report "Tax Haven Abuses: The Enablers, the Tools and Secrecy".

During their years of ownership Carlyle sold some of their shares and gave others to directors. As of the sale to BAE, the infamous investment house owned 64.3% of the shares, taking home $2.7 billion on the final sale. They made money by selling stock along the way, $210 million here, $153 million there, $50 million for pocket change, an offering netting $260 million, just after a $211 million deal. Carlyle and its insiders made well over $3.5 billion on the sale of UDI.

Who joined the UDI board as a result of the Carlyle acquisition? William E. Conway, Jr., Frank C. Carlucci, General J.H Binford Peay III, Peter J. Clare, and Allan M. Holt. All but the general are Carlyle high ups. How much did each make off the sale? Conway pocketed almost $15 million, Carlucci netted just over $2.25 million, General Peay took home $4.9 million, and Clare nearly $900,000.

Now who has done work for Carlyle? The President’s father George H.W. Bush, British Prime Minister John Major, ex. Secretaries of Defense Frank Carlucci and Colin Powell. Frank became Chairman Emeritus with the hiring of ex-IBM chief Lou Gertsner. Some former SEC and FCC chairman also joined the group. Does that help answer Juan’s question?