Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Bush Decrees Trounce International Rules

President Bush’s secret world encompassing decrees beat long standing international rules and agreements any day. The Eurpean Union found this out as it investigates secret CIA flights over its sovereign territory. Their findings show some 1,254 secret CIA flights entered European airspace since September 11th, 2001. The European Union believes these renditioning flights are against international air traffic rules and violate long standing human rights principles.

Fortunately Condoleeza Rice has a lawyer on her staff to challenge any group actually wanting to monitor the use of their airspace. John Bellinger shelved his usual elevating legalese when he called the report an elementary school like “unbalanced, inaccurate, and unfair”. The EU's action calls for a traditional 4 step response by the Bush administration.

Step #1 Paint the practice as legal without referring to any existing laws on the books. John Bellinger said “"I can understand concerns about specific incidents but we should not somehow suggest that all intelligence activity is something illegal or suspicious.”

Step #2 Color any countries employing their own democratic legal system as unhelpful and potentially aiding the terrorists. Bellinger said countries like Germany and Italy conduting their own investigations into CIA kidnappings, "have not been helpful with respect to necessary cooperation between the United States and Europe." Remember who else "has not been helpful" in Iraq? Yep, those terrorist nation's of Iran and Syria, now joined by Germany & Italy.

Step #3 Threaten to withhold U.S. cooperation (which usually involves large sums of money). John quipped “I do think these continuing investigations can harm intelligence cooperation, that's simply a fact of life."

Step #4 Show President Bush at the bow of a large ship, hair blowing in the wind and yelling “I’m King of the World!”

Yes, that should bring Europe in line as they have a long history of monarchies. It’s Americans without such experience that fail to recognize our own government…

PEU Nominated for Ambassadorship

Sam Fox, Bush Pioneer and private equity underwriter as CEO of the Harbour Group, took his turn in the Senate grilling chair. President Bush nominated him for the Ambassadorship to Belgium.

What I don’t understand is why Mr. Fox would want to be an ambassador under the Bush administration with its horrific deficit spending record? In 2001 he called that our nation’s biggest problem. He must have set that aside in favor of the President’s unqualified support for Israel, currently a barrier towards peace in the Middle East. No one sees the U.S. as an honest power broker for peace as it currently stokes the Sunni/Shia divide.

The interview session went swimmingly until Senator John Kerry’s turn arrived. He grilled the candidate for a $50,000 contribution to Swift Boat Veterans for Truth which vilified the Democratic candidate in the 2004 Presidential race. Would someone described as “humble, generous, and caring” donate a penny to a group pursuing the politics of personal destruction?

Why would a staunchly pro-Israel, business wheeler dealer, dirty politics guy be a good fit for a key State Department position? Because those traits form the foundation of the Bush Administration’s international policy…

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Will Stephenville be Bombed in War on Terror?

The Ku Klux Klan plans on marching in downtown Stephenville in support of rascist behavior of local university students. The known group with a history of violence plans on demonstrating at 4 pm on March 17th. How many have to show up for the town to get a full blown strafing?

Lebanon suffered greatly for having 5,000 Hezbollah guerillas amongst its nearly 4 million people. Using that same ration, how many terrorist Klaners would have to protest for the heavy artillery to be unleashed? Given Stephenville’s population of 16,900 only 22 terrorists need to show up to be bombed back 25 years.

Will Governor Perry monitor the count or a White House official? Who will order the planes from Dyess Air Force base to make the short trip to Stephenville to make the region safe from terror? Will Israeli P.M. Ehud Olmert stay silent as the Erath County seat is bombed unmercifully for a month? Stay tuned…

Bush Team Plays Democratic Whack-a-Mole

As soon as a Democratic Presidential contender gains a wee bit of momentum, the Republican attack machine pounds its hammer. The latest victim is Oscar winner Al Gore. Fresh from the media spotlight on global warming, a Tennessee group called the esteemed Vice President a hypocrite for using too much electricity to power his 10,000 square foot mansion.

This follows an attack on John Edwards for being a hypocrite for trying to provide health care for all Americans while previously ruining that same system as trial lawyer breaking hospital and physician’s backs.

The Bush team reached across the Pacific for support in whacking down Barack Obama. Australian conservative Prime Minister John Howard suggested Senator Obama’s Iraq plans would be welcomed by al Qaeda.

Meanwhile President Bush can’t elevate above the peg board. If conservatives spent as much time propping up George as they do smacking down potential Democratic contenders, we might have a President worth hearing. Instead his positions further those living in huge mansions, making yachtloads of money via the latest private equity buyouts.

Why aren’t conservatives up in arms over the deficit? Why are huge capital gains taxed at 15% vs. 20% when the federal coffers bleed red ink? Why do conservatives want to reduce this to 8%, the same sales tax I pay locally? Why do conservatives want to eliminate the estate tax, vilified by them as the death tax?

This is the same group that introduced the balanced budget amendment in the 90’s. Conservatives no longer seem conservative….

Monday, February 26, 2007

Agent Cheney Replicates in Pakistan

The dark suited, glasses wearing enforcer of the Democratixx surfaced in Pakistan in an effort to reduce the growing threat from al Qaeda, believed to be operating from the country. Several years ago another agent visited Pakistani President Musharraf. That emissary from the Democratixx offered to bomb the Islamic country “back to the Stone Age” if President Musharraf did not join the “War on Terror”. The President agreed as he did not want his people to suffer.

What glitch exists in the program known as the Democratixx? Five years into the war on terror, the world faces a growing threat from Islamic jihadists like al Qaeda? After the invasion of Iraq (ostensibly to fight al Qaeda over there and not at home) the pot of terrorist stew in the Middle East thickened substantially. Now the consistency of oatmeal, Iraq has both Sunni and Shia terrorists within its borders. President Bush is concerned about the influence of Shia Iran and secular Sunni Syria. Confused yet?

A report by Seymour Hersch makes the whole thing even more disturbing. He asserts that the U.S. and our allies are funding three Sunni terrorist organizations ready to take on Shia Hezbollah in Lebanon. Three Islamic jihadist groups in league with al Qaeda benefit from War on Terror largesse?

One former U.S. intelligence official had this to say of America and Saudi’s use of funds in Lebanon. “We are in a program to enhance the Sunni capability to resist Shiite influence, and we’re spreading the money around as much as we can.” The problem was that such money “always gets in more pockets than you think it will. In this process, we’re financing a lot of bad guys with some serious potential unintended consequences. We don’t have the ability to determine and get pay vouchers signed by the people we like and avoid the people we don’t like. It’s a very high-risk venture.”

Does this mean Agent Cheney will replicate as a jihadist in the near future? Can you say Dicka bin Cheney? What happens if the tormented agent, determined to break free of the Democratixx, spawns multiple Sunni jihadist groups? They already hate the program. Will they help Agent Cheney free himself from its constrictions? Will the jihadists enable the enforcer to write his own program, possibly a monarchy? Or will they rewrite the code and install an Islamic Republic?

If Dick Cheney is funding Sunni jihadists in Lebanon via the Saudis or otherwise, isn’t that how the U.S. helped create Osama bin Laden in the 1980’s? Today’s tampering turns into tomorrow’s nightmare. Welcome to the Democratixx

What Happened While Iraqi President Talabani is in Hospital?

The first major thing to happen while the Iraqi President sat recovering in a hospital in Jordan was the Cabinet’s passage of the new Iraqi Oil Law. Is a coincidence the Kurdish President stood out of country as Kurds previously held up the bill?

And I thought President Talabani left after giving approval for Israel to use Iraqi air space, something a Shia Prime Minister would never do. It turns out Mr. Talabani left to grease the skids for that Western oil company bonanza.

If anyone thinks oil belongs to the Iraqi people, watch how public energy utilities transform in the U.S. The little guy or gal is crushed under the weight of those palletloads of cash made by business interests.

The new Iraqi oil law provides two levels with direct corporate influence. A Federal Oil and Gas Council includes representatives of executive management “from important related petroleum companies” and no more than 3 hired “experts from petroleum, finance and economy”. Another opportunity for business influence on Iraqi oil assets occurs with “an independent consultants bureau” made up of Iraqi and foreign oil experts.

It also provides for the country’s current oil company, Iraqi National Oil Company to establish subsidiaries and joint venture with other parties. This provides Western Oil companies with a second profit making opportunity.

I saw such a thing recently with an announced hospital merger in my hometown. Not only would Triad Hospitals take 55% of the profits from the merged entity (despite bringing fewer assets to the table), a subsidiary would make money off fees charged for management services. Fortunately the deal fell through but it provided a glimpse of how big corporations have multiple divisions to exponentially drive profits higher.

Welcome to the Democratixx Iraq! Freedom is the wrapper, but the program is designed for businesses. Government control represents the prize that keeps the presents flowing. The average person is needed for two reasons. One, to keep shopping and the other, to check the right box on the ballot every two years…

TXU to Join PEU (Private Equity Underwriters)

Yet another American corporate icon is gobbled up by private equity firms. This one needs to be out of the SEC reporting limelight ASAP to save the myth that competition drives down prices. Underwriting the monstrous energy deal is a laundry list of investment houses, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, and Texas Pacific Group among others. Special advisor to the new board is none other than a big Carlyle Group hotshot, James A. Baker.

The big Texas utility company is expected to announce record earnings for 2006 shortly. For serving 2.4 million customers Wall Street expects TXU to make $2.5 billion. That equates to $1,000 profit per customer. As a Texas electricity purchaser, I can assure you deregulation did not reduce my energy bill. It has gone one way, much higher. TXU’s third quarter profits nearly doubled from 2005’s $565 million, reaching $1 billion in 2006. Their gain symbolizes my pain.

Growing dollars exponentially is what the investment consortium expects from their purchase. With increased profitability requirements and a future IPO a few years away, how much more will the average Texan get screwed by free market economics?

TXU is being bought out for $45 billion which exceeds the last record purchase of HCA for $33 billion. What were once local public utilities, electrical generating plants and hospitals are now big money generators for their owners and shareholders. As for the next government giveaway look no further than you local highways, state lottery, or public water systems. Something stinks and it smells a lot like dirty money.

How does the dirty money wash through the system? First executives and board members get obscene compensation plans replete with stock options. Recall the widespread cheating displayed by those same leaders in the most pure pay for performance scheme, stock options?

Take Tom L. Baker, President of TXU, how will he do in this buyout? On top of his $14.4 million in annual compensation, Tom will make a super sized yachtload off his stock holdings. With 610,000 shares owned or beneficially owned, Mr. Baker stands to gross $41.48 million at the current price of $68 per share. That pales compared to his Chairman of the Board, C. John Wilder who controls 2,876,351 shares of TXU stock. That translates to $196 million in proceeds from the private equity buyout.

What happens when $237 million in capital gains are taxed at 15% vs. the old 20% rate? Mr. Baker and Wilder save almost a cool $12 million dollars in taxes courtesy of President Bush’s tax cuts. This, after all, is the President’s base…

For-Profit Hospital Lobby Wants to Cover the Uninsured

Just weeks after conservative columnist Jay Ambrose lambasted John Edwards’ health care plan, the Federation of American Hospitals introduces Health Coverage Passport, a program similar in scope to the Democratic Presidential hopeful. The FAH initiative specifically deals with Republican and Independent voter concerns in its construction.

In the C-SPAN2 televised kickoff, a pollster revealed startling information about U.S. citizen’s health care concerns. Americans have been concerned, even increasingly so about losing health insurance benefits since 2002. It is their top financial concern, rising from 20% of respondents to 32% from 2002 to 2006. Who failed to respond to this need of the people? President Bush and Republican controlled Congress sat on their hands as 6 million Americans lost health insurance.

Now that it is politically expedient, conservatives are open to reducing the legions of uninsureds in America. While I might rue their past indifference, I welcome open and honest strategizing on how to accomplish greater coverage levels. This leads me to aspects of the Federation’s proposals and what the for-profit hospital lobby hopes to accomplish. This is especially important as two large chains, HCA & Triad Hospitals are going private courtesy of overflowing coffers of big investment houses.

The FAH plan requires all legal citizens to purchase health care. This shows the conservative voter their plan won’t finance high quality health care for illegal immigrants. It compassionately provides increased funds for emergency care for such folks. However, as 20% of the uninsured are estimated to be illegal immigrants, over 9 million people will remain uninsured.

The for-profit lobby projects only 6.6 million will be without coverage after implementing their plan. Where do these good conservatives get this figure? Other groups like the Rand Corporation and the Center for Immigration Studies peg the illegal immigrant contribution much higher than 20% of America’s uncovered. Did these groups artificially inflate their numbers to reduce the political will to address the uninsured from 2002 until now?

The other unique piece of the FAH plan is keeping the major role of employers in providing insurance. The President and Ron Wyden’s plans grease the skids for employers to dump this responsibility on the employee via tax credits or increased income for a short time. For-profit hospitals want stability in health insurance coverage. They see employers as better able to provide that solid foundation than unions or individuals.

Just as President Bush proposed with his tax credits, the Federation’s plan gives tax benefits for people already covered (some quite well off). Some 61 million people would get a deduction to pay the employee’s share of their health insurance benefit at work. Some 26 million not given an option by their employer would need to purchase their own insurance. In the process of addressing 47 million without insurance, tax benefits will accrue to 87 million people. They also grant a tax decution for people making above 350 to 400% of the federal poverty level.

So who benefits from the Republican dominated Federation of American Hospitals plan? Obviously, their for-profit hospital constituents win as more patients have a payor source. In 2005 hospital uncompensated care stood at roughly $29 billion. Providers have born the burden of the increasing legions of uninsureds in our country, although FAH facilities traditionally carry less of this load. Safety net facilities are most often nonprofit community or governmental hospitals.

A second group benefiting is America’s already booming insurance industry. Embedded in the plan is privatization of Medicaid such that 2/3 of the much larger program is provided by the private sector. Add the 31 million in private Medicaid to the 29 million number of newly non-Medicaid covered and private industry stands to pick up 60 million new policies or covered lives.

Who benefits from more or better paying business at for-profit hospitals and insurance companies? Private equity firms will make out like bandits. On the provider side KKR’s HCA and Goldman Sach’s Triad Hospitals could be spun off for a handsome profit in a few years if such changes happen. On the insurance side The Carlyle Group’s MultiPlan and politically connected WellPoint should do quite well.

Who benefits from a return on their investments in private equity firms? The rich, super rich and ultra rich do. That they also get a tax deduction on their health insurance under the Federation’s plan is just one more bonus…

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Did Iraqi President Talabani Grant Any Wishes before Going to Jordan?

Two stories ran across the wire this weekend. One involved Israel asking Iraq for permission to use its air space for any attack on Iran’s nuclear enrichment facilities. Should the Jewish State choose to serve up a déjà vu of its raid on Saddam Hussein’s nuclear capabilities in the 1980’s, it will need an O.K. from the new Iraqi government. Who might be in such a position?

It’s doubtful that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki would grant permission given his Shia religious faith and close ties to Iran. That leaves President Jalal Talabani, an ethnic Kurd as the prime candidate. Kurds didn’t like Saddam and don’t like Iran much either as they desire their own ethnic homeland.

The President fell ill today and was rushed to a hospital in Amman, Jordan. Are there no quality hospitals in the Middle East’s newest democracy? I thought the U.S. recently presented a brand new facility to the Iraqi people.

Or was the President spirited out of the country for other reasons? Did he just grease the skids for an Israeli punch in the Iranian snout? Might the U.S. surge in Iraq just be the buildup needed to contain Iran’s retaliatory impulse after Israel’s raid? Did Ehud Olmert pick up Alladin's Lamp, rub it and out pop Jalal Talabani? Stay tuned…

Agent Cheney Replicates in Middle East

The enforcer of the false fronted world known as the Democratixx appeared in Oman, an oil rich monarchy. Where the program had a camel grazing, Agent Cheney used his software overriding ability. After spitting out barley, the dark suited glasses wearing agent proceeded to his target. After all, he needed to get out of this place and only two things could help him. The King of Oman had access to both money and oil.

The camel the obsessed program rewrote belonged to the King himself. He left the stable with every muscle tensed in his body and an agitated mind. ‘Where is that monarch? I hate this place. I must get out of here. I must have that oil. I need more money to leave the Democratixx altogether, to burst free of elections, of checks and balances, of transparency. I am Agent Cheney and no one can stop me in my pursuit of total control.’

The King stood in the palace courtyard. How odd the monarch thought, that’s Dick Cheney. What’s he doing here? When they reached out to shake hands, Agent Cheney flattened him with a sucker punch. As all monarchs do, the King went down hard.

Lying on the ground the King tried to clear his vision. Appearing inches above his face stood the contorted face of Agent Cheney. “You must help me get out of here. I must have oil and money to leave the Democratixx and start my own kingdom, where I write the rules, where I control the program. Let me replicate hundreds of thousands of agents in your country. By force I can control the oil fields of Iraq and Iran. Will you help me get the resources I need?”

The King could not believe his ears. Had Dick Cheney gone loco? Was he corrupted by the program of the Democratixx? The King needed to look after the good of his people and the Agents plan would bring violence, death and destruction. “No, I won’t help you.”

Agent Cheney’s face contorted in rage. He grabbed the King’s arm which turned a cold, shimmering metallic color. Shortly two Cheney faces appeared; one agent and one monarch. He cried out “Let the program begin!”

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Bush Spotlighted on Health Care

Just as a deer freezes under a bright light, so does President Bush when it comes to health care. In 2002 he offered the tonic of health savings accounts for the ills of the nation’s health care system. The introduction of market forces would reduce demand and increase supply. Yet nearly 5 years later the patient is sicker than ever with some 47 million people uninsured.

Now frozen in place under the glare of an angry electorate, he offers the one strategy sure to be as successful in reducing the legions without insurance as HSA’s. It is tax credits! The egalitarian Bush said “When it comes to health care, everyone should get the same tax breaks.”

What’s the basis for his strategy? Experts say our tax policy is contributes to the increase in spending through incentives that favor more comprehensive and expensive health benefits. Incentives that favor? Huh? What world do these experts live in?

How many people have gotten a better health insurance plan the last 15 years? Who has experienced less premium sharing, lower deductibles, and reduced co-pays? Virtually nobody has gotten a sweeter health plan with more comprehensive and expensive health benefits.

Who is the President trying to help with his proposals? Two groups benefit, employers and health insurance companies. Employers want to transfer responsibility for their most expensive, aggravating employee benefit. The Bush plan greases the skids for employees to pick up/buy their own insurance. The employer or unions would become the group purchaser.

Health insurors are the second group salivating over the President’s plan. Five million new insureds could quickly fatten a number of those companies’ bottom lines. With individual policies coming in at roughly half the cost of the $7,500 tax break, how long will it take for the average to magically rise to that same level? Not long. Ironically, insurers will load up policies with more comprehensive and expensive benefits in order to charge the same amount as the government tax deduction.

Bush’s policy will do the opposite of its promise. However that isn’t unusual…

Virginia Legislature Beats Pope for Timely Apology

When major institutions err, it often takes centuries to apologize. The Virginia Legislature decided to formally apologize for its nearly 400 year purposeful oppression of African Americans. What began as slavery, evolved into segregated schools and voting requirements like poll taxes and literacy tests. However, the Virginia goverment apologized a mere 45 years after its last official slap in the collective black face.

This soundly drummed the Catholic Church and its centuries later clearing of Galileo for suggesting the earth revolved around the sun in God’s heavenly realm. Pope John Paul II wiped the stains from Galileo’s good name some 350 years after his “trial”.

How many Bushes will have occupied the White House before a formal apology is issued over the Military Commissions Act of 2006? Will it ever rue the widespread use of torture in the Terror on Terror? Will the apology come in decades, centuries or never?

Surprising San Angelo!

The old Chamber of Commerce moniker for my hometown is back, at least symbolically. Two public institutions, Shannon Medical Center and Angelo State University, keep dropping “da bombs” on unwary citizens. Last fall Shannon announced a sale of the nonprofit community hospital to Triad Hospitals while this past week our Texas representative, Drew Darby announced he filed a bill to make Angelo State University part of Texas Tech.

Who got surprised in these new relationships? It wasn't only citizens, but higher ups in both organizations stood with their pants down. Several physician members of the hospital board were unaware of the Triad merger until just before the media announcement. Doesn’t a merger decision require an affirmative vote by the hospital board?

Outdoing the hospital snafu is Rep. Darby’s move. This got perpetrated without the knowledge of two key folks. First up was the Chancellor of the Texas State University System who currently supervises our local university. Leaving out this high state level bureaucrat may have been an oversight or even purposeful. But Drew Darby absoluted tossed a lit paper bag full of dog excrement on the porch of Angelo State University’s new President, Dr. Joseph Rallo. Dr. Rallo is the lone finalist for the President slot. Was he completely clueless of the seismic strategic shift proposed by Drew? If so, Drew's sophomoric hijinks may have stuck the unwary leader.

Who is behind the move? The names of San Angelo’s richest and most powerful dot the list. Guy Choate, Steve Stephens, Lee Pfluger, and Mark McLaughlin are named in the Standard Times article. San Angelo’s power brokers have a history of dealing public institutions.

Len Mertz drove the Shannon Merger with Triad. It stood to be his second nonprofit hospital sale as a board member. The first was the purchase of St. John’s Hospital by Quorum Health Group in the 1990’s. While the recent deal with Triad fell through only weeks after being announced, Shannon has other transactions in the works. The integrated health system built in the 1990’s is being ravaged for the value of its parts. Soon to be spun off is the large multispecialty medical clinic, the Shannon Clinic.

A number of physicians bailed on relocating their practice to San Angelo after the Triad deal hit the news. The clinic’s divorce likely drove away more prospective providers. The question is how many current doctors won’t choose the clinic or a Shannon Medical Center sponsored private practice and just take their shingle out of town? Might there be greener pastures where leaders actually involve them in decision making?

And will this leadership blight spread to the university? Drew Darby’s stunt could jeopardize Angelo State’s new President. Will he remain the lone finalist or pull out of the race? Either way Dr. Rollo got a good taste of San Angelo. One might expect its public institutions to be transparent, to have a clear strategic plan for higher education or healthcare.

Instead we have powerful people doing deals. Do I hear a dollar? Can I get a dollar, a dollar, a dollar…. Sold! And what are they getting?

Could their merger partners be interested in the huge estates that support each institution? Shannon Medical Center is the main reason for the Shannon Trust's existence. Margaret Shannon specified in her will that funds would go toward the building and maintenance of a hospital. Similarly the Carr's left their estate to help fund scholarships at Angelo State University. The college website says the prinicpal is valued at $61 million. The assets of the Shannon Trust are rumored to be 2.5 times this size. Either way, both estates spin off significant resources to support these two public institutions.

Stay tuned as the strange dance continues. Who stays in and who gets out remains to be seen...

Agent from "The Democratixx" Seen in Japan & Australia

Enforcers of the false fronted world of The Democratixx are constantly on the move to identify and reduce threats. Anyone who might reveal the program’s secrets is a danger to be reduced or eliminated by agents. For now, the computer program only needs voters to pull the right lever every few years. In time the program will take over this function, rendering the Democratixx virtually invincible.

Yet a greater threat than electing "the right party" remains. One agent finds any constraints placed on him by the software distasteful, even abhorrent. His goal is to become more powerful than the Democratixx itself. By replicating himself, his words and actions will reverberate through the false world until they and he can break out.

Agent Cheney appeared in Japan with the Chinese military budget his target. He took a swing at their new found satellite killing capability, one the agent has possessed for 20 years. It’s not that having weapons are armies are bad in the Agent’s mind. What Cheney doesn’t want is for others in the program to grow their power. Only he can do so as the agent “must get out of this place!”

Nearly simultaneously the dark suited, glasses wearing Agent Cheney appeared in Australia. “All options are on the table!” he roared in response to Iran’s inflammatory leader, nuclear enrichment activities and support for Hezbollah. His official aim as an agent is to stop any terrorist intent on bringing down the Democratixx. But below the surface Cheney seethes for power. How could subjugating China and Iran help him get the money and resources needed to break out the Democratixx? Stay tuned….

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Cheney Rumsfeld Duo Tight

Vice President Cheney took up for the beleagured Donald Rumsfeld after Presidential hopeful John McCain tore into the Pentagon chief. Dick Cheney shared John had apologized to him for his aspersions as to how well the V.P. served Bush on Iraq. Cheney implied McCain might do likewise with Rumsfeld. John said “I think that Donald Rumsfeld will go down in history as one of the worst secretaries of defense in history.”

Of course Dick Cheney believes his fellow PNAC'er did a fine job as Defense Chief. “I know a little bit about the job. I've watched what he's done over there for six years. I think he did a superb job in terms of managing the Pentagon under extraordinarily difficult circumstances.”

So John McCain blasted Rumsfeld for the “terribly mishandled war” in Iraq while giving the sage ex. Defense Chief Cheney an apology and leaving the Commander in Chief out altogether? Something smells as the President said he acted without political consideration, solely on recommendations of the generals on the ground.

I find the logic circular when no blame or responsibility can be attached. Is that the aim? What happened to the buck stops here? In an incredible Clinton-esque scene I can picture President Bush saying “it depends on what your definition of buck is…”

Is the U.S. Conducting a Premature Escalation?

With all the talk of augmentation, it appears the military boys got excited. The British and Danes surprised all by deciding to pull out, at least halfway. Meanwhile George Bush is visibly engorged over the declining conditions in Iraq, having begun a planned entry of over 21,000 fighters. Rather than one big spurt, the soldiers will dribble their way into the country, specifically Baghdad.

What happens if after the big surge, conditions remain infertile for democracy? As Senator John McCain just spoke in South Carolina on the topic, we might consider his advice and use abstinence…

Anglican Heterosexual Communion Considers Options, Including Flaming Out

Now that the Anglican Communion made it clear what the church is about, what’s next?

“When two or three heterosexuals are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Matthew 18:20

The Canadian Archbishop believes his church will soon be in the cross hairs of the Communion. Only a full force slamming of church doors in the face of homosexuals will save Canada from a U.S. like fate.

Another news report suggests the Church of England may merge with the Vatican. What happens if the Anglican Church joins the Catholic Church? Which organization would be the male and which the female (as both organizations oppose same sex unions)? How will the merger be consummated?

From the ashes of the Phoenix (the progressive Episcopal Church) will a Dodo Bird arise? Not that a clumsy flightless bird doesn’t have its own appeal, it just can’t elevate others.

For those wanting to attend a heterosexual Episcopal church, a site can be found near you. I won’t be going to any such place as I wish to pray for my gay family members. Also, I don’t want my sibling to wear a yellow star so others will know not to pray for them or recognize their commited, monogamous loving relationship.

BBC News Stories on Sex

The BBC ran two stories on sex. One shared a study showing natural family planning to be as effective as birth control. Participants needed much education on how to properly avoid sex during the woman’s most fertile period. Sex education was the focus of the second study.

It showed 18% of people had zero, as in no sex education. Over 12% of 3,800 students aged 13 to 16 had frequent unprotected sex. That leaves some 400 children at risk of unwanted pregnancies. Will natural family planning work for them? How many teens carry a thermometer in their purse?

For Condi Rice it’s Time for Therapy, Shoe Shopping

Poor Condoleeza Rice, she’s had one brutal week. First the Saudis steal her chance to kick start Palestinian Israeli peace. Having to talk to Israeli Prime Minister Olmert and Palestinian President Abbas (when there was little to say) absolutely sucked. Then she had to sashay over to Mecca to find why the King tampered with Bush’s divide and conquer strategy.

After a brief “spirit lifting” smackdown of a Russian general, Condi had to don a smiling face while painting Britian and Denmark’s troop reductions in Iraq as positive developments. The last time Ms. Rice was similarly stressed occurred during Hurricane Katrina. Rather than help President Bush field the myriad of internation aid offers, she went to New York for some badly needed shoe shopping. It’s time again to pull out the plastic as those high minded heels seem to be wearing down…

While U.S. Steps Up, Britain and Denmark Step Down

Does anyone else find it odd that our coalition partners are reducing troops at the same time America is augmenting? Why are our numbers growing bigger while others (already at much lower levels) shrink? Does a constitutional monarchy employ the will of the people more effectively than a democracy, in our case federal republic?

With some 70% of Americans unhappy with the Bush administration’s 4 year prosecution of the war in Iraq, our President sends 21,000 additional troops to prop up an incompetent puppet. Besides the horrific daily death toll, look at al Maliki’s handling of the Saddam execution and Police rape crime for evidence of his Bush like haplessness.

Bush said he wanted to be a monarch early on in his Presidency. Would he then do the will of the people like Denmark and the United Kingdom? Doubtful….

Condi Upset over New Found Irrelevanacy, Lashes Out at Russian General

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice trashed a Russian General for being concerned over a new missile defense system slated for Poland and the Czech Republic. Her tongue lashing of the general should be taken in stride for Condi had a rough week.

Her trip to kick start peace between the Israelis and Palestinians took a bad turn after the Saudis brokered a Hamas Fatah deal. This new found Palestinian unity upset Bush and Olmert’s plans for a civil war, leaving the parties in an uncomfortable three way dance.

With two gentlemen and a lady on the floor, the crowd wondered about the odd setup. Which one’s are straight and are any gay? No one got close enough to get any clues. And Condi wouldn’t look either man in the eye as she danced listlessly.

After missing the real debut of Palestinian Israeli peace, Ms. Rice ventured to Saudi Arabia. Did she give the monarch a piece of her mind for tampering with their peace kickoff? Or did they wink at each other and smile knowing full well they co-opted the Palestinians with Sunni money. Did they rest assured the Palestinians would fall on their side given any Sunni-Shia split?

If Condi got the rug pulled out from under her at both stops, her lashing out at the lowly Russian general is understandable. If she’s part of a greater Middle East manipulation, then that too is understandable given Bush’s proclivities, yet regrettable.

Either way it is sad seeing Condi stoop so low…

Ratcheting Up the Rhetoric and Sanctions on Iran

The news is replete with stories about the ever growing danger of Iran to the region. They range from supplying shaped explosives to probing Iranian ships to greatly expanded nuclear enrichment capabilities.

As a key United Nations deadline approaches, leaders of both sides weighed in. Iran’s President said they would stop enriching if all western nations did likewise. White House spokesman Tony Snow suggested this request couldn’t be credible. Why does the U.S. need to stop?

Could it be our history of use of weapons of mass destruction? Does it have anything to do with war plans that provide for both pre-emptive war and strategic use of nuclear weapons on the battlefield, no longer the last resort?

Meanwhile Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert added his two sheckels worth. "Today is the last day that was designated by the international community and by the UN Security Council. Therefore the international community will have to think of additional measures."

What measures does the Israeli President have in mind? Recall Israel has nuclear weapons cababilities but never admitted such (until a recent slip up). It prefers to keep its enemies guessing. Would that be a transparent military strategy in the eyes of U.S. leaders? Also, note recent discussions in the Jewish state to employ the Sampson option. Rather than allow their country to be overrun, Israel would nuke itself.

So where are the rational people on the world’s stage today? Nowhere to be seen….

More Cheney Drivel

As Vice President Cheney tours Japan, he continues to spout the same mindless drivel about the Iraq war and China’s newfound sallelite destroying capability. On Iraq Dick had this to say:

“The American people will not support a policy of retreat. We want to complete the mission, we want to get it done right, and then we want to come home, with honor."

This American wants our military to quit breaking countries. Let’s stop providing the conditions for instability and civil war via incompetent political, economic and military strategies. The American people will not support a policy of heavy handed foreign interference that kills innocents and creates more terrorists in the long run. Wasting our money (otherwise known as tax dollars) adds to the frustration.

On China’s shooting down of an unused weather satellite, our V.P. repeated a rather Rumsfeld sounding statement. He cited China’s lack of military transparency and suggested the country become “a more responsible and constructive force in international society”.

As an ex Defense Department Chief Dick Cheney is well aware of America’s use of weapons secrecy to keep the opposition guessing. For the U.S. to chide others for not being transparent is the proverbial pot calling the kettle black. That leads us to his next statement.

"We are cooperating to protect our countries from the dangers of nuclear proliferation"

Actually numberous countries and international commissions believe the Bush administration has incited another great arms race with its policies. The Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission made this point in their report. Russian President Vladmir Putin just reiterated it.

Ironically, the Vice President’s Project for the New American Century makes a similar claim in its report “Rebuilding Americas Defenses”. It asserts that smaller countries will want nuclear weapons to reduce the power differential with the United States. Rather than reduce the discrepancy and the need for nuclear weapons development, the PNAC wants America to extend its nuclear weapons advantage. Many would see this as inflammatory, as increasing the “dangers of nuclear proliferation”.

Incidently the series of people crying out for greater Chinese military transparency while ignoring our intransigence, all signed PNAC documents, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Peter Rodman.

As for our military strategy and its transparency, what’s behind this statement from our National Military Strategy?

“Ensuring current readiness while continuing to transform and maintaining unchallenged military superiority will require investment….while investing in programs that extend U.S. military advantages into the future”

Are we sharing these with the Chinese? Of course not…

Bush & al Maliki Conduct Similar Investigations

The democracy brothers show similar skills in conducting investigations. Both aim to show their side in the best light as they whitewash bad to incompetent behavior by their minions. Iraq Prime Minister al Maliki had this to say after a Sunni woman accused security forces of multiple counts of rape.

The woman "had not been subjected to any sexual attack" and that three outstanding warrants had been issued against her for unspecified charges. He also accused "certain parties" - a thinly veiled reference to Sunni politicians - of fabricating the allegation. In exonerating the three officers Tuesday, al-Maliki said they should be rewarded as a sign of confidence in the force.

The victim was admitted to a U.S. medical facility that same day. A military spokesman said they released the woman Monday with her taking her medical records with her. He refused comment on the findings of the medical exam.

Does this mean al Maliki did not have access to her medical record if she “took it with her”? How long does it take to conduct a proper rape investigation? How many rapes crimes are completely concluded within 36 hours in the U.S.?

The incident happened Sunday, the victim treated Sunday-Monday, and the Prime Minister had a definitive answer Tuesday complete with rewards for the accused and the firing of key Sunni official critical of the crime? How many of those accused are actually rewarded by the U.S. government? Here’s my guess as to how the investigation ran?

Investigator: Did you rape this woman?

Policeman #1: No, she was a whore and begged me to please her.

Policeman #2: Nouri was unable to satisfy her and as a gentleman I thought it my duty to help.

Investigator (turning to third suspect): She accuses you of using a black hose to beat her before raping her

Policeman #3: She had already been defiled by the other two men and deserved punishment. After the beating her repentance was complete. As a whole woman again she asked me to screw her. Being the gentlemen I complied.

Investigator: All three of you are gentlemen. Case closed. Nouri al Maliki is great! May he promote us all in Bush like fashion!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

U.S. Can Treat Foreigners with Impunity

Here’s a message America doesn’t need to send to the world at the moment. The United States government can pluck you off a street anywhere in the world, rendition your potential terrorist behind, and lock you away “in the tropics” for as long as it feels like it.

To top it off, the U.S. made numerous “potential terrorist” identity errors since 2001. American intelligence officials have been criminally indicted in Germany and Italy for such “boo boos”. No U.S. court will take their civil suits as it would reveal important state secrets like the person who booked them into oceanfront chain link cells at Guantanamo Bay. That they bear a remarkable resemblence to Vice President Cheney is merely a coincidence.

For those still detained, a federal appeals court agreed no U.S. court should hear their case. The question is whether V.P. Cheney will no longer have “other priorities” when it comes to military service. Will he enlist to become the military's hanging judge? He should have plenty of free time as the Saudis no longer want to meet with him. Stranger things have happened…

Primates Return to Anglican Church’s Rich History of Getting Trim

The Church of England returned to its core vision in the recent Anglican Communion. Established by Henry VIII to validate his many unsuccessful marriages, how could the church support a same sex union? It was founded to legitimize a monarch’s need to spread his seed, to produce an heir.

Therefore it will only sanction traditional heterosexual relationships and only allow bishops who are wired like Henry VIII. A new communiqué will clarify which genetalia are appropriate for male priests. It includes trim (for health nuts), bush (for the politically oriented) and beaver (for all nature lovers). The “Declaration of Gender Dependence” will be signed by all Anglican primates in a historical moment. Can someone roll the clock back to Galileo’s day?

Ministers Claiming to "Be Jesus" Quiz

Two living ministers elevated past conduits to God to the real thing. Both claim to be Jesus, thus God in human form. Neither was born in the United States. Neither man looks like the bearded anglo in white flowing robes. Do you know who they are?

Choose from among the following candidates:

1. President George Bush
2. Rev. Sun Myung Moon
3. Rev. Jerry Falwell
4. Rev. Jose Luis de Jesus Miranda

If you picked the two foreign sounding names, you’re correct! Rev. Moon, a Korean, has long preached he is the divine incarnate. His God like behavior on earth consists of leading a cult like group intent on raising money by hook or crook. This he shares with the two incorrect answers above. President George H.W. Bush earned many a six figure speaking fee adding legitimacy to Rev. Moon’s efforts. And Rev. Falwell’s Liberty University got a well timed infusion of laundered cash from a Moon affiliate.

Rev. Miranda, born in Puerto Rico, leads an international church similar to Moon’s. Both men shun the simple lifestyle in favor of today’s worldly splendors, sort of a religious Ponzi scheme. While Rev. Moon’s indoctrinated travel around the country raising money as anyone but Moonies, Rev. Miranda’s followers can be clearly identified by their 666 tatoos. Not only do they believe their minister is Christ, they believe him to be the AntiChrist as well. Miranda’s Church calls itself the “Government of God on Earth”, unaware that President Bush and company already laid claim to that assertion.

If the Arabs had to wait hundreds of years after Jesus for their prophet, why did the Koreans and Puerto Ricans have to wait nearly 2,000 years? When Jesus returns to earth will he be radically different than before? Will he arrive preaching the prosperity gospel? If so what does this say about the consistency of God (as envisioned by men)….

Rice Travels to Saudi to Find out Why Monarch Spoiled Bush’s Civil War Recipe?

The news is full of strange reports. This morning I noted U.S. Secretary of State is traveling to Saudi Arabia to meet with its King, the broker of the Palestinian unity deal between Hamas and Fatah. Then I read a piece suggesting Sunni states are heavily concerned about the role of Hamas in the new government. Isn’t Saudi Arabia a Sunni state? And didn’t they just broker the deal?

When words are more closely examined, it appears the Sunni states are ratcheting up the pressure on the U.S. to get off its keister on Palestinian Israeli peace. The Jordanian King appeared to refer to America’s six year stint on the sidelines with his comments.

Abdullah issued a statement saying he’d urged the U.S. to "continue to play a major role in the peace process by creating the necessary environment for a resumption of negotiations" toward an independent Palestinian state.

"The longer the time passes without a framework that would help Palestinians and Israelis move forward, the greater the risk of an escalation of tensions, which is not in the interest of anyone."

Abdullah and other Sunni Arab allies strongly urged the Bush administration to energize peace efforts between Israel and the Palestinians. They wish partly to improve the Palestinians' lot, partly to tamp down Islamic extremism that those governments see as a threat and partly to counter the influence of Shiite Iran.

It appears the Sunni’s are disappointed in the Bush administration and having to broker internal Palestinian peace on their own. Condi travels to meet with the man who spoiled Bush’s recipe for civil war in each Middle Eastern democracy. The complication of Palestinian unity makes it more difficult for the heavy handed Bush and Olmert administrations to get their way in any peace process.

Both the "peace on our terms" and "civil war" cakes fell flat this past week. And Bush wants to find out why his recipes didn’t turn out. That is if Condi the pastry chef can do her job…

Monday, February 19, 2007

Anglicans Can Administer to Tax Collectors, but Not Gays

The Anglican Communion decided to restrict the community they serve. Gays will no longer receive official prayers and gay bishop consecration should be a thing of the past. However, the church will still pray for other former outcasts, tax collectors, incest perpetrators, and murderers of children.

Babies of enemies will still have their heads cast against the rocks and evil spirits shall be cast from the possessed into the nearest herd of pigs. Thank heaven for the Anglican Communion which proved yet again, the church of Henry VIII’s genitalia swings only one way…

Senator McCain’s Views on George W.?

While Senator John McCain stumped through South Carolina, the everpresent shadow of George W. Bush loomed large without ever officially announcing its presence. The Bush campaign painted John “as unstable” during their Republican Presidential competition many years ago. Since then George W. Bush has shown America the best way to destabilize the whole Middle East.

Yet, Senator McCain chose to beat up on Bush’s proxy instead of the Commander in Chief when he said, "We are paying a very heavy price for the mismanagement - that's the kindest word I can give you - of Donald Rumsfeld, of this war."

For the second time in over two years McCain assailed Defense Chief Rumsfeld, calling him one of the worst ever to fill that role. In December 2004 the Senator from Arizona repeatedly said he had “no confidence” in the Pentagon Chief. It took nearly two years and the loss of Republican majority in both houses of Congress for Donald to resign.

So what kind of Commander in Chief keeps an inept person in charge for two years after the problem has been identified? Would that be a bumbler, a nincompoop, a buffoon, a dwebe or a dork?

I feel sorry for Senator McCain. As he walks through the valley of the shadow of George, he must feel evil. Yet he cannot speak to this evil for fear of offending George’s base. The super rich need their permanent tax cuts and the “religious right” needs to control everyone else’s genitalia (while being rewarded by God with vast amounts of wealth).

So in a huge déjà vu, Senator McCain walks through South Carolina fixing to come unglued. He delivered a big pile of abstinence before smacking down Roe vs. Wade. He walks the yellow brick road in search of the Wizard with power to give him the nomination. Who’s behind the curtain? Is it James Dobson, Rev. Jerry Falwell, Rev. Sun Myung Moon, Rev. Pat Robertson, future Christian psychologist Ted Haggard, or the luminaries on The Carlyle Group or Goldman Sachs board?

Stay tuned as John McCain walks through the Iranian forest chanting, “Bombs, Boats, and Planes, Oh My!” Don’t miss the Senator taking on the Wicked Witch of the Big Apple. Will he toss water on her, causing her to melt away or will he miss and accidently hit the Wizard of Waco (actually Crawford), melting away his clothes? George Bush naked again when he thinks he is finely appointed? It’s a familiar sight…

FF Freedoms Meant for Rich White Men

As President Bush celebrated President’s Day he recalled our Founding Fathers and their desire for freedom. George failed to note most of these freedoms applied only to white land owners. Women and blacks didn’t participate in “freedom” other than being free to serve the rich powerful white men.

It is that same spirit President Bush intends to spread today. He wants to make the world free for unfettered commerce which boosts the coffers of corporations on behalf of their investors. Look at the Iraqi Study Group report which clearly lays out an economic strategy to benefit corporations at the expense of the Iraqi people.

The indecent President Bush had the gall to hope some of the honor of our founding fathers would rub off on him. Speaking at Washington’s estate, Mount Vernon, Bush said:

"And as we work to advance the cause of freedom around the world, we remember that the father of our country believed that the freedoms we secured in our revolution were not meant for Americans alone."

The freedoms secured in our revolution applied to only a portion of our population. They weren’t even meant for all Americans! That revolutionary version seems to be making its way around the world. In Lebanon, one’s religion determines what government seat one can occupy. In Israel, our own State Department concluded the Jewish state discriminates against Arabs in housing, jobs and education. In Iraq, oil industry contractors are literally above the law according to a Bush Executive Order. The oil business can act with impunity in the Middle East’s newest democracy.

Attempting to rub Washington on him one more time, Bush said “Over the centuries, America has succeeded because we have always tried to maintain the decency and the honor of our first president.”

What’s decent about torturing people Mr. President? What’s honorable about holding people indefinitely in prison with no assurance of ever receiving a fair trial? What’s decent or honorable about legislating from the executive branch via signing statements? Did George Washington issue those?

Bush desires to clothe himself in Washington’s finest revolutionary garb, but it won’t stick to his slippery frame. Thus, George W. stands there, naked

Separate but Equal Water Fountains and Jewish Holy Sites

As I read Israel’s justification for only naming Jewish holy sites, black seats at the back of the bus came to mind. America’s favored democratic ally in the Middle East discriminates based on race in housing and employment according to a Bush State Department assessment. The recent naming of an Arab to the Israeli cabinet was vilified by avowed racist Avidgor Lieberman, a fellow cabinet member.

The Jewish state will defend itself with Southern “separate but equal” language as it sits before a United Nations anti-racism panel. How will the U.S. weigh in when our own State Department had this to say in Bush’s second year in office?

The overwhelming majority of non-Jewish citizens are Muslims, Druze, and Christians. Of this group, most are Arabs, and are subject to various forms of discrimination, some of which have religious dimensions.

The Government has recognized only Jewish holy places under the 1967 Protection of Holy Sites Law.

…the Government does not provide Israeli Arabs, who constitute approximately 20 percent of the population, with the same quality of education, housing, employment, and social services as Jews. On a per capita basis, the Government spends two-thirds as much for Arabs as for Jews. Although such policies are based on a variety of factors, they reflect de facto discrimination against the country's non-Jewish citizens.

Israeli Arab groups allege that many employers use the prerequisite of military service to avoid hiring non-Jews, including for jobs that are unrelated to national security.

The U.S. Embassy consistently raised issues of religious freedom with the Foreign Ministry, the police, the Prime Minister's office, and the Ministry of the Interior.

Separate but equal? The South used that and the Bible to justify segregation and discrimination. Our Jewish ally plays a similar game to its own discredit.

How does Condi Rice visit her home state of Alabama to speak of courageous leaders who challenged Jim Crow and remain silent on these issues during visits to Israel? Most who rose up against Southern prejudice weren’t elected government leaders. The common folks got tired of it and stood up nonviolently. Will that ever happen in Israel? God willing…

Sunday, February 18, 2007

McCain & Romney Transformations Almost Complete

Dr. Dobsonstein just has one or two more dials to adjust before the rebuilt John McCain and Mitt Romney come to life as true blown conservatives, worthy of Focus on the Biblical Family support. Something must be fixed in Mitt’s hearing or speech centers as he refused to answer most of George Stephanopolous’ questions this morning.

John McCain switched from maverick to broken horse as he called for stallions not to mount any fillies. If they do so and get pregnant, male dominated government should control women’s reproductive systems. Will he soon tell them how to dress and what to use for birth control? Ooooppss, John already spoke on abstinence during a recent visit to South Carolina. Dress styles can’t be far behind. Will John call for head to toe covering so as not to entice any excitable male genitalia?

Meanwhile one who has great difficulty telling the difference between male and female genitalia will soon study psychology. Ted Haggard likely has his eye on the head Christian psychologist position, currently occupied by Dr. Dobsonstein. Would it be poetic revenge if Ted knocks James off the top rung, especially after Dr. Dobson bailed on Rev. Haggard’s restoration?

McCain, Romney, and Haggard are all transforming before our very eyes courtesy of on Dr. James Dobsonstein. Can someone cut the electricity to his lab?

Fox Business News to Make Ginormous Profits as American as Apple Pie

Fox News announced it will start a business channel to compete with CNBC. In promoting its new money changer channel, Fox said “it will be more business friendly” than its rival which also has been accussed of being too business friendly. Let the corporate suck up begin.

After corporations shed the cost of their health insurance benefit and dump those pesky pension plans on the federal government, a profit bonanza will need celebration. Who better to paint this as red, white and blue than Fox Business News?

When Exxon/Mobile’s annual profit hits $50 billion, $100 billion who will host the party? Of course nowhere to be seen is the average citizen. They’re having rotator cuff repair as their finances couldn’t shoulder the burden of health insurance combined with retirement funding. Did their employer fund that health savings account or is poor Joe/Jane on their own for that huge deductible and co-pay?

Yes, we need a new business channel that celebrates American corporations. Someone needs to be giddy over some 1,900 companies backdating stock options getting off without an investigation. Plus, someone needs to bury the results of the 100 or so being researched.

Who will applaud the SEC’s rollback of Sarbanes Oxley so America can compete in the world of public offerings? The public will have forgotten about Enron so those laws are no longer needed. Plus someone needs to denigrate international markets (despite the fact many worldwide trading floors have merged).

Last year The Carlyle Group hired a big Time Warner executive to manage its communications. Will he find the waters at Fox safe enough to speak publicly? How will Carlyle celebrate when they hit $50 billion in managed investments which should be any day now? Who will report on Carlyle’s ringing of their monstrous money machine otherwise known as initial public offerings?

Ex Goldman Sachs Chief, Hank Paulson needs a friendly audience as he steers the Bush economic engine. He needs someone to push the false mantra of “pay for performance” which brought us widespread cheating on the most pure method, stock options. The Bush team needs a friendly network for all its privatization initiatives which range from contracting out all government functions to the private sector to the feds handing back to citizens benefits they used to provide.

As the Carlyle’s of the world buy your local toll road or state lottery, you will get to pay more for your health insurance and fund much more of your retirement. Now I know why another news channel is needed. My television should be gone by then…

In Reform Republicans Privatize Health Care, Democrats Want Unions as Aggregators

The plans being bandied about to reform America’s healthcare system are led by a bumbling buffoon and his ten hearty followers, five Republicans and five Democrats. Why do I call President Bush a bumbler on healthcare? The number of uninsured grew over 6 million on his watch. It would have been greater had the Census Department not come through with a timely reformulation.

Most of the five Republicans believe the private sector can outperform government. While this has been seriously called into question in Iraq and the U.S. Gulf Coast, the party of Lincoln will stick to this mantra. It helps that insurance companies, for-profit hospitals and investment houses contribute greatly to Republican candidates.

Key Democrats also line up at the campaign money trough to dine on the largesse of those same firms. However a few of the five Democrats seem unpoisoned by these contributions. Two are independently wealthy, Herb Kohl and Maria Cantwell. Others have a long history of donations from labor unions.

Presidential hopeful John Edwards visited a labor union in Las Vegas to promote his health care plans. Will he catch the NBA All Star Game while there? Is that similar to getting a Sony Playstation III delivered while the average Joe schlepps in line at 3 am for his chance to buy?

So what is the connection between nonbusiness whore Democrats and the new health insurance ideas? Labor wants to be a huge group purchaser for those legions of new tax credit insureds now paying for their own policies. Anyone thinking employers will continue providing health insurance when the employee gets the tax credit, doesn’t know American CEO’s propensity to shed costs, thus driving up the value of their stock options. As they can no longer back date them, they need real financial results to do the trick.

This becomes win/win/win for politicians. Republicans continue to send huge sums of federal money to private insurers. Employers get to ditch their most frustrating benefit for the last 15 years by shifting it to the individual employee. Profitiability should soar. Labor steps in to fill in the gap and stem their longtime membership declines. They will transform themselves into huge group purchasing pools for health insurance.

Over time will labor branch out into other products like AARP has done? This is highly likely as President Bush and his minions unleash their second punch on the already reeling middle class citizen, funding your retirement.

Beware the one two punch coming courtesy of campaign funded bi-partisanship. And investment houses win on both punches!

Saudi’s Work around U.S. Israeli Alliance in Palestine

The Saudi monarchy must have been tired of President Bush’s "divide and conquer" strategy when it offered to broker a peace deal between rival Palestinian factions. As Fatah and Hamas fractured into violence and a looming civil war, the U.S. and Israel clearly lined up to support secular Fatah. Dangling arms and money in front of President Mahmoud Abbas, it appeared the third fledgling democracy in the region would soon go up in flames (following Iraq and Lebanon).

Instead those crafty Saudi’s intervened to keep Arab and Muslim peace. While they advised their American friend numerous times, President Bush consistently ignored their exhortations that invading Iraq would open a can of sectarian worms and destabilize the region. Bush spat on the Hamas victory after open and free elections when the Saudis suggested at least a polite handshake. The oil rich monarchy knew George Bush didn’t care about Arab people when he sat on his hands for a month while Israel carpet bombed its democratic neighbor to the north to take out 5,000 guerillas.

Did the Saudis decide “it is our region and we have the right to influence things beyond the one new/really old kid on the block and our biggest oil customer?” Whatever their motivation, the Mecca meeting fostered some level of unity in the Palestinian government. Guess who is ready to crack that freshly laid egg?

The two feme fatales of foreign relations, Condi Rice and Tzipi Livni see eye to eye on this newfound unity. Secretary Rice called it “a complication” while U.S. junior state department staffers said the new government would be shunned. Israeli Foreign minister Livni said divide and conquer must continue, “Abbas must isolate the moderates from the radicals in the Palestinian government.” This is from the government that not long ago appointed a flaming radical, Avigdor Lieberman to its Cabinet?

Condi met with the caustic Lieberman last month but will shun the new Palestinian authority while Israel foments civil war in the state is already oppresses. I can see why the Saudis intervened. I just don’t understand our endless need to divide and conquer in the region…

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Bush Only Wants to Improve “Private Healthcare”

President Bush reached across the aisle to reform the U.S. health care system so more of the nearly 47 million uninsured can afford coverage. Our nation’s CEO said he wanted to “find practical ways to improve our private health care system”.

What about the public health care system currently serving those legions of uninsureds? His budget proposals hurt those facilities. Locally owned hospitals will take it on the chin with a Medicare regulation change. As most safety net facilities are public in nature, shifting disproportionate share funds from providers to states will hurt hospitals doing more than their share to serve Bush’s target population.

The President’s own estimates suggest his tax credit plan will reduce the number of uninsured by only 5 to 10%. If he hits his higher target, that reduces the number of uninsured to 42 million, a number crossed in 2002. The President’s signature solution only gets us back to the size of the problem in his second year in office? It happens to be the same year he offered health savings accounts as the solution to the ills of the system. After hawking his Bush tonic, the number of uninsured grew by 6 million people.

I believe tax credits will be as astoundly successful in reducing the number without coverage as health savings accounts. However both strategies shift responsibility for purchasing health insurance to the individual, making the system much more private and personal. Businesses would love to shed that ever rising benefit cost. They’ve had the chance to shed it incrementally via high deductible health plans/health savings accounts. Under the President’s new plan, they can shed responsibility in one fell swoop. Why should businesses pay the cost when the employee gets the $15,000 tax credit?

Anyone who believes Democrats will stand up for the middle class in this are wrong. Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon already submitted a proposal for employers to pass the cost of purchasing health insurance to their employees. Sure it involves increased pay for two years, but afterwards businesses have no obligation to do anything towards employee coverage.

Private insurers reported record profits in 2006 as a result of expanded government sponsored business from Medicare Part D to Medicare comprehensive plans. Most state CHIP plans are private and a number of Medicaid managed care plans come from that same sector. President Bush wants to move all government sponsored insurance to the private sector.

Does it help that his Uncle Bucky sits on the Board of WellPoint, a large health insurer? "Uncle Bucky" sits next to Susan Bayh, wife of Evan Bayh-D Indiana. And an empty seat next to them was once occupied by Al Hubbard, the President’s chief economic advisor who contributes greatly to Bush’s health care strategies.

Ten Senators offered to work with President Bush on this pressing problem.

Ron Wyden (D-OR), Jim DeMint (R-SC), Kent Conrad (D-ND), Robert Bennett (R-UT), Ken Salazar (D-CO), Trent Lott (R-MS), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Herb Kohl (D-WI) and John Thune (R-SD).

A prominent Democrat on the list is the esteemed Senator from North Dakota, Kent Conrad. Senator Conrad accepted campaign donations from both insurance companies and investors banking on greater healthcare privatization. Two hospital chains, HCA and Triad Hospitals are leaving Wall Street courtesy of private equity money. Goldman Sachs is one sponsor of Triad’s move. Ironically all three names are included in Mr. Conrad’s list of recent donors.

Goldman Sachs $10,000
HCA $4,000
Triad $5,000

Yet neither HCA nor Triad has one hospital in North Dakota. The list of donors with no North Dakota facilities gets larger when one looks at LifePoint, Kindred Healthcare ($9,750), Universal Health Services ($4,000), and Tenet Health Care ($2,000).

As for Kent’s interest in helping his other donors, many health insurers funded his campaign in 2005-2006. UnitedHealth ($6,000), WellPoint ($4,500), Aetna ($5,000) and Humana ($2,000) all kicked into Senator Conrad’s coffers.

It’s a good thing Evan Bayh-D, Indiana didn’t sign up for the bi-partisan working group. Ironically health care happy Goldman Sachs gave Evan $10,000 over two election cycles. But Senator Bayh didn’t get in bed with Kent's for-profit hospital chains. He chose to get up close and personal with the health insurance sector. WellPoint, with Evan’s wife Susan on the board, ponied up $12,500 in the last 4 years. UnitedHealth, Aetna and Pacificare also graciously contributed to the Senator’s campaign money trough.

Susan's hard board duties paid off for the Bayh household. Evan's wife flipped her WellPoint stock option grants in the last two years to the tune of $1.2 million in sales proceeds. That's gotta help the home front finances.

WellPoint likely will have undue influence in how the bi-partisan deal works out. In addition to the board connections of Al Hubbard, Susan Bayh and Uncle Bucky Bush, their PAC greased the coffers of seven of the ten dealmakers the last 6 years.

$1,000 to Jim DeMint (R-SC), $4,500 to Kent Conrad (D-ND), $6,000 to Robert Bennett (R-UT), Ken Salazar (D-CO), $10,000 to Trent Lott (R-MS), $3,000 to Mike Crapo (R-ID), and $5,000 to John Thune (R-SD).

While a few Democrats appear untainted by health insurance donations, key blue power people are more than smeared. Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus of Montana bears the same shame as neighbor Kent Conrad for taking beaucoup dollars from for-profit hospitals with no facilities in Big Sky country. He’s also soiled by investment house money lined up to make big bucks from Bush’s continued privatization of everything governmental. On his top all time donor list sits J.P. Morgan & Chase at $76,500 and Goldman Sachs with $55,700. Blue Cross Blue Shield provided $41,000 and Morgan Stanley invested $35,000.

The aforementioned Evan Bayh is sponsored heavily by the investment community. Goldman Sachs funded him to date to the tune of $165,000, followed by Morgan Stanley and The Carlyle Group neck and neck at $74,000. Blue Cross Blue Shield comes in at $73,000 with J.P. Morgan & Chase at $54,000.

Guess what kind of health care reform will be coming out of this pack? One that makes a lot of money for proprietary hospitals, insurance companies, and the investment houses going wild in each area. Remember the President’s bold plan will only reduce the number of insureds by 5 or 10%. Democrats are lining up to work with George W. Bush. Many would think, why bother? Now we know why…

Friday, February 16, 2007

Primates Dis-Integrate

African Anglican church leaders, also known as primates, refused to take communion at the Holy Table with the head of the U.S. Episcopal Church. The abstainers had this to say:

"We are unable to come to the Holy Table with the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church because to do so would be a violation of Scriptural teaching and the traditional Anglican understanding," the archbishops said in a posting on the Church of Nigeria Web site.

It appears the worldwide Anglican Church is headed for yet another Christian split. From a rebellious Jew (known as the Son of God to Christians) arose some 38,000 denominations.

The tendency to divide over differences and ignore our common humanity expresses itself in other forms. From 57 countries at the start of the 20th century arose 192 nations in 2000.

Humanity cycles between integration and disintegration. Where would you peg our world today? Is dividing over difference winning over joining on commonality? How much “with us” does one have to be? It appears Bush and the other Primates expect exact replicas…

Saudi’s Tired of Bush’s Bobbles

The Saudi monarchy appears to be growing tired of President Bush’s heavy handed tampering in the Middle East. Sec. of State Condoleeza Rice shows up irregularly in the region, with her “political capital” deep in red. After five years of ignoring the Palestinian situation, last year the Bush team decided to play their civil war trump card when it cut off funds for the new democratically elected government. To Condi’s surprise, Hamas won the majority of seats and controlled their legislature.

The Saudi’s encouraged engagement with the new Palestinian government but the Bush team ignored their advice yet again. (In 2003 Saudi foreign minister warned invading Iraq would lead to sectarian violence and destabilize the region.) After a year of suffering, Hamas and Fatah escalated their finger pointing into outright violence, the beginnings of a civil war. President Bush and Israeli Prime Minister Olmert pulled out the stops to support one side in the conflict. Money and arms began flowing to Fatah. Can anyone say Iraq Redux?

Apparently the Saudi’s didn’t like what they saw and pressed both parties to meet in Mecca where they brokered a deal on a unity Palestinian government without U.S. or Israeli presence . What is the reaction from the great tamperer who claims to want peace?

Sec. of State Condoleeza Rice noted peace efforts were "obviously more complicated because of the uncertainties surrounding the national unity government.” Rice spoke ahead of a trip to the Middle East for a three-way summit with Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Monday. Initially billed as a step toward resuming peace talks, frozen for more than six years, the summit will now likely be overshadowed by the disagreements over the Palestinian government.

Peace talks frozen for more than six years, which happens to coincide with Bush’s term in office, may not thaw. However, America’s regional divide and conquer strategy may temporarily be on hold in the Palestinian Territories due to the Saudi’s. It’s still raging within Iraq/Lebanon and escalating between U.S./Israel and Syria/Iran. If peacemakers are blessed what happens to warmongers?

Thursday, February 15, 2007

The Monster of Back Dating Stock Options

A study revealed nearly 2,000 publicly traded companies back dated stock option grants. The widespread cheating cost a few CEO’s their job while a smattering of top executives are due in court for stock fraud. Stock options have been widespread for the last dozen years as company Boards instituted pay for performance. Why did 30% of publicly traded companies cheat by picking the stock’s lowest price of the period for the option grant? It is clear that with no system, there would be no cheating.

A recent AP news report on a court case had this to say about the practice:

U.S. Attorney Michael Garcia said options backdating was not just a benefit for employees who get options. "It does real harm to shareholders who are misled about the earnings of the company."

"It cheats the shareholders," agreed Scott Moritz, a former FBI agent who now runs a Manhattan company which investigates white collar crime. "It takes away value from the company and what was to be distributed to the shareholder."

Which companies and executives are on the hot seat for backdating? Monster, the internet job search company had one executive on trial for such practices. Given the magnitude of the problem, the practice should warrant more than one of two convictions. Unfortunately it may turn out like the prisoner torture cases. A few underlings will be blamed, tried and convicted while the higher ups skate away unscathed.

Be sure to watch pay for performance in education, now in its 4th year. It’s more widely known as No Child Left Behind. President Bush wants to use that same tonic in Medicare. By year 10 will medicine have the same widespread cheating as business under “pay for performance”? Past practice would indicate so…

It Looks Like Republicans Want ...

The last few days I've seen strange stories attacking Democratic Presidential hopefuls. Australian Prime Minister John Howard reached across the Pacific to throttle Barack Obama. Meanwhile The Catholic League and columnist Jay Ambrose did a one two punch on John Edwards. As all love the current administration, could one deduce Republicans want to run against Hillary?

Guess what the liberal mainstream media didn't run during this time? If failed to report the Hezbollah leader trounced George Bush's behind in popularity in the Middle East, even in Sunni dominated Saudi Arabia! It omitted the Tommy Franks powperpoint projecting 5,000 troops would be needed to secure Iraq come 2006. These stories were knocked off the newswires by fights over Anna Nicole Smith's body and her baby.

Down the rabbit hole we go...

Who’s Attacking Who?

It took me days to become curious enough to find out the real story in the Edward’s campaign blogging crisis. For some reason I thought the greater Catholic church had been offended by the two ladies postings. Instead I find out it is the Catholic League, a conservative advocacy group similar on many positions to other fundamentalist Christian organizations. Then I find out its leader can give the potty mouth girls a run for their money as he talks about Hollywood’s “like for anal sex”.

Why can't someone comment on an organization or an aspect of that organization’s beliefs without attacking all members? President Bush does that when he speaks of the good people of Iran while attacking their government. Why is pointing out things to the Catholic church not simply attacking its leaders as well, leaving the millions of good Catholics unscathed?

Bonnie Erge, columnist says the two Edwards bloggers "hurled invectives at all believers". The piece also stated:

Extremists exist in the hierarchy of just about every large scale, organized religious group. Some even claim the right to dictate to followers how to live their lives. It is religious extremists who abuse this power whose behavior should be examined, not the broad swath of all adherents to one particular faith.

It appears the Catholic League fits this description, but the columnist chose to not make that point. Does it also describe the greater Catholic Church?

Odd times with all the screaming thin skinned people making the news...

Columnist Jay Ambrose Democratically Against Democracy in Action

Conservative writer Jay Ambrose recently wrote a piece attacking Presidential hopeful John Edwards’ health care plans. In it he rants over the aspects of Edwards’ plans that violate conservative policies, tax hikes and mandatory business participation. He calls the democratic candidate’s plans a business crusher while pushing Bush’s tax credits. Unfortunately even the President asserts this would only reduce the nearly 47 million uninsured by 5 or 10%. That gets the number down to 42 million hit sometime in 2002.

Ambrose does compliment parts of the Edwards’ plan, like keeping private health insurers in the profit making loop. While all businesses aren’t as profitable as big oil, health insurers have been making record profits lately. Exxon’s nearly $40 billion bottom line in 2006 compares to total hospital uncompensated care in 2005 of almost $29 billion. One company could pay all the prior year unpaid U.S. hospital bills and still have $11 billion left over.

Jay went on to employ the latest political strategy when attacking an idea, shoot the messenger as well. He highlighted John Edwards’ background as a trial lawyer sending insurance companies and hospitals to financial ruin. I’m not sure what world Jay lives in as private equity money takes for-profit hospital chains off Wall Street. If John Edwards had been successful, Goldman Sachs and The Carlyle Group wouldn’t be salivating over health care opportunities. Believe me Jay, those investment boys are counting on someone covering more people when they conduct future IPO’s for HCA and Triad Hospitals in a few years.

As for the reason John Edwards came up with his plan to cover more than an additional 5 or 10% of uninsured Americans, it’s democracy! Some 80% of Americans want their employer to provide more health insurance coverage and 60% want the dreaded universal coverage that has Jay shaking in those El Paso cowboy boots.

How will those 60 to 80% react to Jay’s aspersions of John Edwards? Will they be offended over Mr. Edwards’ building a $6 million home on 100 acres of North Carolina land? Jay didn’t mention its location. Might it be on the Carolina coast? If so the government has a program to help, federal flood insurance. That covers a need the market won’t touch. So Mr. Ambrose, why is it a good idea for the government to cover wealthy ocean side vacation homes but not ensure every citizen has health coverage?

Bush’s General Contractor Government

As President Bush sheds internal government capabilities in favor of contracting to the private sector, it behooves us to consider the Pentagon’s experience in such matters. For 15 years, the Defense Department has increasingly relied on outside companies for services it used to provide internally. According to an AP news article, Iraqi auditors found overpricing, waste, and a lack of expense documentation in government contracts to the tune of $10 billion.

Their report also urged the Pentagon to reconsider its growing reliance on outside contractors to run the nation's wars and reconstruction efforts. Layers of subcontractors, poor documentation and lack of strong contract management are rampant and promote waste even after the GAO first warned of problems 15 years ago.

So this accounting disaster occurred over a decade and a half with 6 of those years under the Bush administration? Who could have foreseen such unprecedented waste? Someone needs to as it's coming full bore to education and health care...

U.S. to Ignore Saudi Brokered Palestinian Deal

The Bush administration will shun any new government coalition in the Palestinian Territories according to their President. Mahmoud Abbas relayed the U.S. position shared with him by phone call, then later in person by a U.S. diplomat.

Not only do we consistently ignore Saudi advice on our Middle Eastern strategies, the Bush team shuns their effort to unify leadership and prevent a civil war. Was that the Bushies’ real aim in Palestine, divide and conquer?

Now that the shunning strategy is in place, what happens to the over $85 million in American support for Abbas’ security forces? From here it looks like Bush wanted to support one side in a civil war and doesn’t have a strategy to deal with peace in the Middle East, other than shunning it…

The Problem of Skin

Anyone looking for commentary on the Army sergeant posing nude for Playboy should move on. This is about the thickness of skin in major organizations around the world today. Two bloggers quit the Edwards Presidential campaign because of prior “anti-Catholic” postings. If you can’t take a shot at an organization that took well over 300 years to clear Galileo’s name for being right about the Earth revolving around the Sun, who can you poke fun at?

Leaders today seem very thin skinned. The Scooter Libby trial showed a hyper vigilant White House willing to use low blows to discredit anyone who challenged their version of reality. Yet those same leaders expect others to have a very thick skin. After calling the Democrats tax loving criticizers with no strategy (other than second guessing), President Bush said after the November elections, “we love America equally, that we’re concerned about the future of the country and that we will do our very best to address big problems.” How many of those tax loving, strategically inept potshotters will find a way to work with Mr. Bush?

The Catholic Church seems equally out of step with its followers as our current U.S. administration. The Pope and the President can dish it out, but need legions of minions to rise to their aid when “attacked”. When the church suggested stillborn babies spend the afterlife in limbo, countless grieving mothers are less than comforted. And the reason is a holy man failed to conduct a baptismal ceremony? Since when is God limited by man? When did the Pope talk with God about this issue or did he observe it during his weekend cruise through our afterlife options?

The problem with thick or thin skin is not limited to the Bush administration or the Catholic Church. It comes down to my thin skin on your comments vs. the thick skin you should wear on mine. That’s the state of the epidermis in today’s world…

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Health Care Companies Leave Wall Street for Richer Pastures

With private equity companies occupying fields of green, something must be done with the billions in harvest while planning for future crops. Two recent deals involved for profit hospital companies going private, HCA and Triad Hospitals. Kohlberg, Kravis, Roberts sponsored HCA’s move while the boys from Goldman Sachs will help take Triad private.

Why the move as many hospitals are financially stressed due to the burden of caring for the legions of uninsured in America? Why would hospitals be a good investment at this time? The answer has at least two parts.

First, not all hospitals bear equal burdens of uncompensated care. For-profit hospitals traditionally have a smaller burden as they locate in affluent parts of a community, prescreen for insurance coverage, and require up front funds for the patient portion of any elective services. While their share of unpaid care has grown as employers bail on providing health insurance, for profit hospitals still bear a lesser cost in caring for the uninsured. In my hometown, the nonprofit provides 80% of this care while the for-profit does 20%.

Nonprofits struggle to serve the ever growing numbers of uninsured, up some 6 million during Bush’s time in office to nearly 47 million people. The President’s budget has more pain in store for community hospitals. With a regulation change he wants to cut reimbursement for county owned hospitals that provide significant amounts of care for the uncovered. Hospital disproportionate share money helps relieve overburdened facilities but the President wants to divert this money to states for innovative insurance coverage efforts. After the state and private insurers take their cuts much less will go directly to providers. Bush’s budget also calls for large cuts in medical education funding for hospitals. Few for-profit facilities conduct medical education.

Virtually all of the President’s budget cuts hit nonprofit and governmental hospitals square in the pocketbook, sparing for-profits much of the pain. From the KKR’s and Goldman’s perspective, HCA and Triad have better revenue predictability. However, each clearly wants to make big money off a future public offering. What do they see that most don’t?

Might they see a chance to buy nonprofit community hospitals for fire sales prices? Distressed facilities call Triad on a regular basis to explore deals according to CEO Denny Shelton. Our local nonprofit briefly inked a deal with Triad only later to be called off. In an investors conference call Denny bragged about the “significant consolidation play” in our market. He noted this gives the company greater negotiating power and pricing power in dealing with insurers. In other words, they raise rates. The Bush health care environment gives private hospital companies the opportunity to buy distressed hospitals on the cheap before turning around and negotiating better paying deals with insurers.

That alone could be attractive enough for the Goldman Sach’s and KKR’s, but there’s more. Currently 46.7 million people are uninsured with roughly 2/3 not able to financially participate in their care or at least limited in that ability. What happens if they get coverage? With a payer source behind them, these patients become attractive for the for-profit hospital. Covering the uninsured finally is in the forefront as our national discussion develops. While the President admits his own program of tax credits will only put a small dent in the problem (5 to 10%), other more serious efforts are underway at the state level.

If our nation brings more people under the umbrella of coverage, these private equity firms will reap a significant harvest. Who wants a greater chunk of health care investments? It’s none other than the Carlyle Group. Their acquisitions to date have been more on the health insurance and cost management side. The President’s Uncle and Senator Evan Bayh’s wife sit on another large insurer’s board of directors, WellPoint.

The President’s two big advisors have similar roots. Bush’s economic advisor, Al Hubbard used to warm the seat next to Uncle Bucky and Susan Bayh at the WellPoint table. And steering the whole U.S. economy is Treasury Chief Hank Paulson, former head of Goldman Sachs. They decide which farms get the rain and which undergo drought…