Tuesday, January 29, 2008

State of the Division Speech 2008

President Bush Delivers State of the Union Address
Chamber of the United States House of Representatives
United States Capitol

THE PRESIDENT: Madam Speaker Pelo-Chia Pet, Vice President Shooter, undistinguished members of Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow citizens who want my term over as quickly as possible:

Seven years have passed since I first stood before you as Cocky Locky on this roostrum. In that time, our country has been tested in ways none of us could have imagined. It's part of my program, No Country Left Behind, and it involves lots of tests, apparently ones I couldn't pass, he, he, he. We faced hard decisions about peace and war, rising competition in the world economy, and the health and welfare of our citizens. These issues called for vigorous debate, instead we called each other names. I think it's fair to say we've postponed that call, forwarding many difficult decisions to the next President. (a phone could be heard ringing in the background). Laura, unplug the god damned phone! I’m trying to give a speech here.

Yet history will record that amid our differences, we acted with purpose to put critical problems off on future generations. And together, we showed the world the power and resilience of America’s unitary executive. Take that Vladimir!

All of us were sent to Washington to carry out the people's business and instead we did K Street’s. Now, I will pretend people don’t know our democracy is for sale to high dollar donors, corporations, and special interest groups. The purpose of this body is to act like we care about the people who vote us in every two, four or six years. It is the meaning of our bait and switch oath. It remains our charge to apply, I mean to keep.

The actions of the 110th Congress will affect the security and prosperity of our nation long after this session has ended. The 108th passed a Bankruptcy Bill and today we approach record foreclosures. Congress does make a difference on Main Street as well as K Street. In this election year, let us show our fellow Americans that we recognize our responsibility to give ourselves a raise and show our determination to meet that lofty goal. Let us pretend that Republicans and Democrats can compete for votes, and cooperate for results at the same time, in the never ending permanent campaign. (Applause.)

From expanding opportunity to protecting our country, we've made progress, both well and good. Yet we have unfinished business before us, and the American people expect us to get 'er done. So look under your chairs, and you’ll find a pair of boxing gloves. Republicans wear red and Democrats blue. Pair up and start swinging. I get to go against Nancy Pelo-Chia Pet. Bring it on, Granola Girl! (A brief melee followed, ending quickly due to the poor physical condition of our nation’s elected officials)

Don't you just love a good donnybrook? In the work ahead, we must be guided by the philosophy that made our nation great. We need another King George! As King’s know how to dangle carrots, here’s mine. As Americans, we believe in the power of individuals to determine their destiny and shape the course of history. In other words, if you aren’t great, it’s your fucking fault.

We believe that the most reliable guide for our country is the collective wisdom of ordinary citizens. Since I regularly ignore this collective wisdom, I am the most unreliable President in history! (Applause). And so in all we do, we must trust in the ability of free peoples to make wise decisions like investing in Enron stock, and empower them to improve their lives for their futures, because the Supreme Court won’t hold fraudulent corporations accountable.

To build a prosperous future, we must trust people with their own money and empower them to grow our economy. As we meet tonight, our economy is undergoing a period of uncertainty. Think of the economy as an erection. Will it stay firm or go soft? America has added jobs for a record 52 straight months, but jobs are now growing at a slower pace.

Wages are up ever so slightly, but nowhere near those astronomical price increases for food and gas. Exports are rising as the dollar is in the toilet, but the housing market has declined. Mother fucker! I expressly told Greenspan to extend the bubble until I got out of office! At un-hocked kitchen tables and outdoor picnic blankets across our country, there is a concern about our economic future.

In the long run, Americans can be confident about our economic growth. But in the short run, we can all see that that growth is slowing. So last week, my administration reached agreement with Speaker Pelo-Chia Pet and Republican Leader Boner on a robust growth package that includes tax relief for individuals and families and incentives for business investment. The temptation will be to load up the bill with projects that help real people. That would delay it or derail it, and neither option is acceptable. I only want to help corporations. (Applause.) This is a good agreement that will keep our economy growing and our people working for those same corporations in a form of indentured servitude.

And this sorry Congress must pass the erotic economic stimulus package, now you know why I used the erection analogy, as soon as possible. Also, no fair holding my past vetoes against me. I had my fingers crossed behind my back when I used the Presidential superhero veto pen. That makes me immune from retaliation. (Applause.)

We have other work to do on taxes, which in the past I erroneously compared to a gasoline price hike. Here’s how I erred. When the government collects taxes, it’s your money. But when Exxon hits you harder in the pocketbook, you’re getting valuable goods and services. It’s Exxon’s money, not yours. So when you get the tax rebate, go spend Exxon’s money fast.

Unless Congress acts, most of the tax relief we've delivered over the past seven years will be taken away at some point in the future, but I’m going to act like it’ll happen tomorrow! Some in Washington argue that letting tax relief expire is not a tax increase. Try explaining that to 116 million American taxpayers who would see their taxes rise by an average of $1,800. Others have said they would personally be happy to pay higher taxes. I welcome their enthusiasm. I'm pleased to report that the IRS accepts both checks and money orders to help pay for our off budget wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. (Laughter and applause.)

The majority of Americans think we should get out of Iraq and that their taxes are high enough. I choose to ignore the first, while calling the second a citizen’s mandate. With all the other pressures on their finances, American families should not have to worry about their federal government taking a bigger bite out of their paychecks.

There's only one way to eliminate this year's uncertainty: Make the tax relief permanent, order Exxon to rebate a portion of your taxes. Who stuck that in here? I’m gonna kick someone’s ass. Where’s Barney Frank? (Applause.) And members of Congress should know: If any bill raising taxes reaches my desk, I will veto it, this time with both hands on the desk! (Applause.)

Just as we trust Americans with their own money, we need to earn their trust by spending their tax dollars wisely. Next week, I'll send you a budget that terminates or substantially reduces 151 wasteful or bloated programs, totaling more than $18 billion. Thus, the White House will go up for auction after this Spring's Easter Egg roll. The budget that I will submit will keep America on track, by postponing the projected surplus once again, until 2012. American families have to balance their budgets by borrowing; so should their government. (Applause

The people's trust in their government is undermined by Presidential secrecy. Who wrote this piece of shit speech? Trust is undermined by congressional earmarks -- special interest projects that are often snuck in at the last minute, without discussion or debate. Since I prepare the budget, I get to sneak my projects in up front. Then I use signing statements and executive orders on the back end to move money around.

Last year, I asked Congress to voluntarily cut the number and cost of earmarks in half. I also asked you to stop slipping earmarks into committee reports that never even come to a vote. Unfortunately, neither goal was met. But we’re making progress in Iraq without goals and benchmarks. So this time, if you send me an appropriations bill that does not cut the number and cost of earmarks in half, I'll send it back to you with my veto. No specific targets for Iraq though. (Applause.)

And tomorrow, I will issue an executive order that directs federal agencies to ignore any future earmark that is not voted on by Congress. If these items are truly worth funding, Congress should debate them in the open and hold a public vote. This is a new Republican position. I may upset my friend Mike Conaway, as he likes to keep his earmarks secret until they’ve been approved. Sorry, Mike. (Applause.)

Our shared responsibilities extend beyond matters of taxes and spending. On housing, we must trust Americans with the responsibility of home ownership and empower them to weather turbulent times in the housing market. But we must help corporations by flooding the credit markets. Yes, the tonic for loose credit in the past, is more credit now! Tonight I ask you to pass legislation to reform Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, privatize the Federal Housing Administration, and allow state housing agencies to issue tax-free bonds to help homeowners refinance their mortgages. The bond issuing companies need the work! (Applause.) These are difficult times for many American families, and by taking these steps, we can help deserving citizens keep their homes.

We need to build a future of quality health care, because I sure haven't done anything in the past or present in this regard. We must applaud insurance companies dumping larger portions of risk to patients and doctors. The ruse I use is “doctors make medical decisions,” when we know they have to call a insurance clerk in India for permission to do anything.

We share a common goal: making health care more affordable and accessible for all Americans. But unlike that earmark thing, I will set no benchmarks before its time. (Applause.) The best way to achieve that goal is through consumer choice, not government control. Consumer choice means, consumers choose and pay, simple as that. Now you get to negotiate price with that overworked doctor. Best of luck! (Applause.) But it gets better.

I have proposed ending the bias in the tax code against those who do not get their health insurance through their employer. This preferential tax treatment was once seen as the cause of runaway health care costs by my administration, until I hired Allan Hubbard fresh from the Board room at WellPoint. Now it’s the answer. This one reform would put private coverage within reach for millions, and I call on the Congress to pass it this year. It could drop the 47 million uninsured by 4.7 million people. The dramatic improvement will mean the number of uninsured will drop to nearly 42 million, the level reached in 2002, my second year in office. (Applause.)

The Congress must also expand health savings accounts, so the Treasury projections don’t look like a fib. You need to create Association Health Plans for small businesses who continue to jettison their health insurance benefits. We can promote health information technology and confront the epidemic of junk medical lawsuits in states that haven’t already enacted professional liability reform. You mean it’s not many states? There goes the Boogie man. Personal injury attorneys are running loose in the Capital building. Who’s got a gun?. (Applause.) With all these steps, we will help ensure that decisions about your medical care are made in the privacy of your doctor's office -- not in the halls of Congress. We only root through people’s underwear for political, not medical purposes. (Applause.)

On education, we must trust “childrens do learn” if given the chance, and empower parents to demand results from our schools. In neighborhoods across our country, there are boys and girls with dreams -- and a decent education is their only hope of achieving them. High standards are the answer, except in the Army and Marine Corp. We had to lower those to get enough recruits.

Six years ago, we came together to pass the No Child Left Behind Act, and today no one can deny its results, except Alfie Kohn and other communist, pinko test haters. Let me cherry pick a few of those undeniable results for you, while denying those that failed the muster. Last year, fourth and eighth graders achieved the highest math scores on record. Reading scores are on the rise, but long term reading in America reached a new low. African American and Hispanic students posted all-time highs, proof that childrens do learn. (Applause.) Now we must work together to increase accountability, add flexibility for states and districts, reduce the number of high school dropouts, provide extra help for struggling schools. In other words we must privatize!

Members of Congress: Just pass the fucking re-authorization of The No Child Left Behind Act. (Applause.)

We must also do more to help children when their schools do not measure up. Since competition hasn’t worked to improve schools under NCLB, I call for more of the same tonic. Sadly, faith based and non-public schools are disappearing at an alarming rate in many of America's inner cities. Public schools, that cannot compete, should be closed. Private schools, that cannot compete, should be subsidized. And I’m the man to subsidize private organizations with your money! I’ve done it in health care, defense, and transportation.

So I will convene a White House summit aimed at strengthening these non-public lifelines of learning. And to open the doors of these schools to more children, I ask you to support a new $300 million program called Pell Grants for Childrens. We have seen how Pell Grants help low-income college students realize their full potential. Together, we've expanded the size and reach of these grants, because the cost of higher education has risen like a bitch. Now let us apply that same spirit to help liberate poor children trapped in failing public schools. Privatize, privatize, privatize. (Applause.)

On trade, we must give American CEO’s a free pass. I trust American workers to compete with anyone in the world and empower them by opening up new markets overseas. Today, our economic growth increasingly depends on our ability to sell American goods and crops and services all over the world. How else will those corporate chiefs boost their executive compensation packages?

So we're working to break down barriers to trade and investment wherever we can. We're working for a successful Doha Round of trade talks even though other countries blamed us for the last round’s failure. We must complete a good agreement this year, one good for America. At the same time, we're pursuing opportunities to open up new markets by passing free trade agreements, by invading whole countries, and secretly planning for regime change in others.

I thank the Congress for approving a good agreement with Peru. And now I ask you to approve agreements with Colombia and Panama and South Korea. (Applause.) Many products from these nations now enter America doo-dee free, yet many of our products face steep tariffs in their markets. A tariff is like a toll. That brings me around to the new philosophy in our Transportation Department. New highway construction can be done by the private sector. Users of the road pay the toll. This is good. But back to trade, tariffs are bad. I know I just said they were alike. Ignore that.

These new trade agreements will level the playing field. They will give us better access to nearly 100 million customers. They will support good jobs for the finest workers in the world: those whose products say "Made in the USA." Only those labels are made by Chinese and Indian companies. They’re shipped here by Panamanian boats for the finest workers to afix. We need no tariffs to move goods at various stages of production cheaply around the world. This way, corporations can make more money. (Applause.)

These agreements also promote America's strategic interests. The first agreement that will come before you is with Colombia, South Carolina. This friend of America is confronting violence and terror, and fighting drug traffickers. If we fail to pass this agreement, we will embolden the purveyors of false populism in our hemisphere. We can’t give native son John Edwards that chance! So we must come together, pass this agreement, and show our neighbors in the region that democracy leads to a better life. I would say democracies don’t war, but Israel ruined that with their month long assault on their democratic neighbor to the north, Lebanon. (Applause.)

Trade brings better jobs and better choices and better prices. Yet, that 52 straight months of job growth, didn’t bring many health insurance. For some Americans, trade can mean losing a job, and the federal government has a responsibility to help. We want to train workers for corporations, by saving them the expense of in-house training. (Applause.) I ask Congress to reauthorize and reform trade adjustment assistance, so we can help these displaced workers learn new skills and find new jobs via my new Pell Mell grants. (Applause.)

To build a future of energy security, we must trust in the creative genius of American researchers and entrepreneurs and empower them to pioneer a new generation of clean energy technology. We know the entrenched energy industry won’t do it, not while they’re raking in tens of billions in profit. (Applause.) Our security and prosperity partnership requires a common market in our hemisphere. I’m secretly working with Canada and Mexico in this regard. I recently visited with four of the six Arab nations that formed a union. These countries have a lot of oil. We can do the same while reducing our dependence on oil.

Last year, I asked you to pass legislation to reduce fatty oil consumption over the next decade, and you responded. McDonald’s went to transfat oil for their french fries. Together we should take the next steps: Let us fund new technologies that can generate methane power from Wendy’s chili. (Applause.) Let us increase the use of renewable power from wind and emissions-free, but not waste free nuclear power. Who wants the nuclear waste dump in their state? (Applause.)

Let us continue investing in advanced battery technology and renewable fuels to power the cars and trucks of the future. Have you met my grandson, Elroy Jetson? (Applause.) Let us create a new international clean technology fund, which will help developing nations like India and China make greater use of clean energy sources. Mother fucker, Bill Clinton beat me to that again with his $1 billion green fund. And let us complete a voluntary, nonbinding international agreement that has the potential, at some unknown point in the future, to slow, stop, and eventually reverse the growth of greenhouse gases. History will determine this bold commitment, made today, as monumental. (Applause.)

This agreement will be effective only if it includes voluntary, nonbinding commitments by every major economy, and none game it to their advantage. After all there are no penalties. (Applause.) The United States is committed to getting the oil we deserve, even if it’s under ground in other countries or below the sea in international waters. By strengthening our energy security and confronting global climate change on our terms, we can rule the world.. (Applause.)

To keep America competitive into the future, we must trust in the skill of our God hating scientists and engineers. We must empower them to pursue the breakthroughs of tomorrow, which will only come as gifts from a benevolent God. So I ask Congress to double federal support for critical basic research in the physical sciences and to fund huge prayer teams in proximity to our finest research institutions. This combination could ensure America remains the most dynamic nation on Earth. (Applause.)

On matters of life and science, we must trust in the innovative spirit of medical researchers and empower them to discover new treatments while respecting moral boundaries. In November, we witnessed a landmark achievement when scientists discovered a way to reprogram XXX adult skin cells to act like embryonic stem cells. See, I’m not the only adult that can be made to act like a baby! This breakthrough has the potential to move us beyond the divisive debates of my past by extending the middle finger of medicine to my opponents. However, the X-rated skin lobby is concerned about the rights of skin to perform as intended. Their motto is, “Not every cell wants to change, you know.” Well, fuck that! (Applause.)

So we're expanding funding for this type of ethical medical research. And as we explore promising avenues of research, we must also ensure that all life is treated with the dignity it deserves. And so I call on Congress to pass legislation that bans unethical practices such as the buying, selling, patenting, or cloning of human life. But cloned meat in your local supermarket, just got my Food and Drug Administration’s approval. We know people aren’t meat. In the great words of Charlton Heston, rest his soul, “people is Soylent Green!” (Applause.)

On matters of “just us”, who gives a rat’s ass about justice? I didn’t sign a military funding bill because I don’t want Americans to collect on the U.S. court awarded legal judgments against Saddam Hussein. You can’t have “just us” with whistleblowers, they get in the way. I want to wipe out every one of those terrorist turncoats. You blow the whistle in my administration and you’ll get shot. I have just the man to do it. He’s sitting behind me.

But I do care about “just us” for my friends. Our version of “just us” calls for twisting the words of our founders and empowering judges who understand that the Constitution means what it says. Put your ear real close to the document. Can you hear it talk? Well, I can! (Applause.)

I've submitted “just us” nominees who will rule by the letter of my decrees, I mean signing statements, and not based on public whimsy or the rights of the little guy. Many of these nominees are being unfairly delayed by methods my party uses to stifle action on other issues.

These “just us” candidates are worthy of condirmation, and the Senate should give each of them a prompt upside down dunk into the Potomac River. If they float, they are not a terrorist and can be approved. If they sink, don’t worry, appropriate medical personnel from the CIA will be present to ensure their simulated drowning is safe. (Applause.)

In communities across our land, we must trust in the good heart of the American people and empower them to serve their neighbors in need. But no good hearts exist in government. Wonderful people loose their compassion as soon as their check is signed by Uncle Sam. Their heart shrinks to Grinch like proportions, that’s before he hear’s the Who’s in Whoville singing. I’m living proof of this transformation.

Over the past seven years, more of our fellow citizens have discovered that the pursuit of happiness leads to the path of private service. Government employees are fucking mean. Americans have volunteered in record numbers. Some are volunteering to work for food and shelter. It brings back memories of the Guilded Age. Charitable donations are higher than ever. Faith-based groups are dangling conditional hope to people with empty pockets of despair. I offer for the seventh year in a row my newfound support from the federal government. And to help guarantee equal treatment of faith-based organizations when they side up to the federal tit, I ask you to permanently extend Charitable Choice, which gives charities access to the augmented federal breast. (Rigorous applause.)

Tonight the armies of compassion, bolstered by military intelligence, continue the march to a new day in the ever present dawning Gulf Coast. As New Orleans enters the birth pangs of rebirth, America honors the strength and resilience of the people of this region. Many still have little, other than their powerful endurance. We reaffirm our two and a half year old pledge to help them build stronger and better than before. And tonight I'm pleased to announce that in April we will host this year's North American Summit of Canada, Mexico, and the United States in the great city of New Orleans. There we will push the New American Union, in a city with little will to resist! (Applause.)

It’s ass kicking time! There are two other pressing challenges that I've raised repeatedly before this body, and that this body has failed to address: entitlement spending and immigration. Every member in this chamber knows that spending on entitlement programs like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid is growing faster than we can afford in an era of permanently decreased taxes. So what if 80% of people want the government to help out with their health care. Fuck that! Does this look like a democracy? (Applause.)

We all know the painful choices ahead if America stays on this path: massive tax increases on the wealthy, sudden and drastic cuts in benefits for legal Americans, or crippling deficits like I’ve delivered during my term in office. I've laid out proposals to privatize these programs. Now I will pretend to take the high road by asking members of Congress to offer your stupid, inadequate proposals. Together, each side can come up with a solution. These plans will serves as targets for the other party as we approach the November elections. (Applause.)

The other pressing challenge is immigration. Every America who wants deserves a Mexican. They work hard and cheaply. We need to secure our borders -- and with your help, my administration is taking steps to do so. We've made a few sham moves in the area of worksite enforcement, are stealing valuable land to deploy fences and advanced technologies to stop illegal crossings. Did you see what Hamas did to the Gaza border wall recently? Our fences can fail in multiple ways.

After seven years in office, we've effectively ended the policy of "catch and release" at the border. By the end of this year, we will have doubled the number of border patrol agents. We can get recruits for that job as opposed to the Army and Marine Corps. Yet we also need to acknowledge that we will never fully secure our border. (Applause.)

A legal low wage worker program will take pressure off the border and allow law enforcement to concentrate on those who mean us harm. We must also find a sensible and humane way to deal with people here illegally, I’m thinking euthanasia. Illegal immigration is complicated, unlike the Middle East which is simple. But complicated immigration can be solved, while simple foreign policy remains problematic. And immigration must be resolved in a way that upholds both our laws and our highest ideals. But since laws only protect corporations and the rich, we can do whatever the hell we want, especially if I’m holding the superhero signing statement pen. (Applause.)

This is the bidness of our nation, both here at home and in the heartland of our homeland. Yet building a prosperous future for our citizens also depends on confronting enemies abroad and advancing liberty in troubled regions of the world, while giving our friends a free pass. Remember the Shah of Iran and Saddam Hussein? Decades ago, we used them as pawns. That these areas remain troubled regions has nothing to do with past Western tampering. Today’s pawns will not spawn tomorrow’s problems!

Our foreign policy is based on a clear premise: We trust that corporations, when given the chance, will choose a future of free markets and massive military buildups. In the last seven years, we have witnessed stirring moments in the history of liberty, frequently through the eyes in the back of our heads. We've seen citizens in Burma and Pakistan stand up for their right to free and fair elections. We've seen people in Lebanon take to the streets to demand their independence, only to be obliterated a year later by their democratic neighbor to the south, Israel. We've seen Afghans emerge from the tyranny of the Taliban and choose a new president and a new parliament. They built a five star hotel in Kabul! We've seen jubilant Iraqis holding up ink-stained fingers and celebrating their freedom, while domestically many Americans now have to produce a photo identification to vote. These stained images of liberty have inspired us. (Applause.)

In the past seven years, we've also seen images that have sobered us. We've watched throngs of mourners in Lebanon and Pakistan carrying the caskets of beloved leaders taken by the assassin's hand. We've seen wedding guests in blood-soaked finery staggering from a hotel in Jordan, Afghans and Iraqis blown up in mosques and markets, and trains in London and Madrid ripped apart by bombs. On a clear September day, we saw thousands of our fellow citizens taken from us in an instant. These horrific images serve as a grim reminder: The advance of liberty is opposed by terrorists and extremists -- evil men who despise freedom, despise America, and aim to subject millions to their violent rule. Damn that’s depressing as hell, give me a drink. Make it a double shot!

Since 9/11, we have taken the fight to these terrorists and extremists. We’ve fortified Switzerland and Sweden, two of the most free countries in the world, thus at high risk from freedom hating terrorists. We recently sent our best and brightest to Davos, Switzerland to shore up their terror defenses. Mark my words. We will stay on the offense, we will keep up the pressure, and we will deliver justice to our enemies. (Applause.)

I am engaged in defining the ideological struggle of the 21st century. So here goes. Terrorists oppose every principle of humanity and decency that we hold dear, yet can’t agree on ourselves. In this war on terror, there is one thing we and our enemies agree on: In the long run, men and women who are free to determine their own destinies will take away freedom from those they fear. And that is why terrorists are fighting guerilla wars against a more powerful force in Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the Palestinian Territories. And that is why, for the security of America and the peace of the world, we are spreading the hope of freedom via the butt of a gun, opening new markets for corporate America’s products, and why I spy on whoever I want, while torturing anyone I damn well please. (Applause.)

In Afghanistan, America, our 25 NATO allies, and 15 partner nations are sitting on a razor’s edge. A resurgent Taliban challenges the Afghan people trying to defend their freedom and rebuild their country. We need all the courage of these military and civilian personnel, and more, to make this nation, once a safe haven for al Qaeda, a successful young democracy where boys and girls can safely go to school, where new roads and hospitals can be built, and where people look to the future with new hope. These fragile successes must continue, so we're adding 3,200 Marines to our forces in Afghanistan, where they will fight terrorists and train the Afghan Army and police. They will operate Predator attack drones in sovereign Pakistan, whether Pervez Musharraf gives us formal or just tacit approval. Defeating the Taliban and al Qaeda is critical to our security, and nothing will stop us, not borders, not conscience, and certainly not the impotent Osama bin Laden, who remains permanently on the run, hauling his dialysis machine from cave to cave. I thank the Congress for supporting America's vital mission in Afghanistan. The United States of America created these groups in the 1980’s in our fight against communism, and we must finish off the rebels we started. (Applause.)

In Iraq, the terrorists and extremists are fighting to deny a proud people their liberty. What? Sunni and Shia Muslims are fighting for power and control. They’re free to do that with Saddam gone. But I will act like there’s no civil war. We’re fighting to keep the al Qaeda we funded in the 80’s from establishing safe havens for attacks across the world. One year ago, Iraq’s civil war mushroomed, plunging the country into chaos, just as the Saudi’s predicted in 2003. So we reviewed our strategery and changed course. We launched a surge of American forces into Iraq. We gave our troops a new mission: Work with the seemingly permanently incompetent Iraqi forces to protect the Iraqi people that haven’t fled the country, pursue the various enemies in their strongholds, and deny the terrorists sanctuary anywhere in the country. We’ll drive them out of Iraq toward America? Dammit, I want this speechwriter’s head!

The Iraqi people quickly realized that something dramatic had happened, their mixed neighborhoods were gone, now predominantly Sunni or Shia. They noticed. Shia leader Moqtada al-Sadr asked his militia to stand down. The handful worried that America was preparing to abandon them instead saw tens of thousands of American forces flowing into their country. This angered the 70-80% that wanted U.S. troops to leave their country.

They saw our forces moving into neighborhoods, clearing out the terrorists, and for the first time staying behind to ensure the enemy did not return. And they saw our troops, along with Provincial Reconstruction Teams that include Foreign Service officers, their trigger happy private security guards, and other skilled public servants, coming in to ensure that improved security was followed by improvements in daily life. Our military and civilians in Iraq are performing with courage and distinction mostly from inside the Green Zone, and they have the gratitude of our whole nation. While we applaud, Iraqi’s how their appreciation by spitting. (Applause.)

The Iraqis launched a surge of their own, actually it was more of a rebranding of existing fighters, than a surge, but I like the word. It fits with my erection analogy used earlier. The blood surges to the member, the member surges inside the woman’s…(Whack! Dick Cheney and Nancy Pelo-Chia Pet fell off their elevated stand locked in passionate embrace, accidentally striking the President.)

Somebody hose these two down! (Within a moment the scene returned to normal). Nothing like a good war to get you hot, right Dick?

In the fall of 2006, Sunni tribal leaders grew tired of al Qaeda's brutality and our occupation. To get us out faster they started a popular uprising called "The Anbar Awakening." It doesn’t hurt that we’re paying them by the head for fighters. Over the past year, similar movements have spread across the country. If I can make the analogy, it’s similar to our Afghan efforts in the 80’s. And today, the grassroots surge includes more than 80,000 potential future Osama bin Laden’s who are fighting the terrorists. When and how might they turn on us? History shows the way. The government in Baghdad has stepped forward, as well -- adding more than 100,000 new Iraqi soldiers and police during the past year. Yet, they can’t seem to make progress, requiring a long term U.S. commitment to secure and stabilize Iraq.

While the enemies are still dangerous and a shit load of work remains, the American and Iraqi surges have achieved results few of us could have imagined just one year ago. Who envisioned Blackwater Security’s muscle bound goons taking what little progress we’d made and stomping on it in a steroid induced rage? (Applause.) When we met last year, many said that containing the violence was impossible. A year later, high profile terrorist attacks are down, civilian deaths are down, and sectarian killings are down. Yet, the divide between Sunni and Shia remains strong. When and how will it manifest in the future?

When we met last year, a different enemy from al Qaeda--Shia militia extremists -- some armed and trained by Iran -- were wreaking havoc in large areas of Iraq. Then Moqtada called for a stand down. Yet, Shia sects still battle between themselves for supremacy, especially in the South. A year later, coalition and Iraqi forces have killed or captured hundreds of militia fighters. And Iraqis of all backgrounds increasingly realize their leaders are selfish and incompetent. They realize they’re fucked by all the splintering, bickering and divisiveness. Sunni fight Sunni while Shia fight Shia. When will the prelims be over? When will the Sunni take on the Shia in a winner take all match? It’s like an Iraqi Super Bowl. Sponsors can book their ads now.

When we met last year, nearly four years after the war began, al Qaeda had sanctuaries in many areas of Iraq, and their leaders had just offered American forces safe passage out of the country. Today, it is al Qaeda that is searching for safe passage. They have been driven from many of the strongholds they once held, and over the past year, we've captured or killed thousands of extremists in Iraq, including hundreds of key al Qaeda leaders and operatives. Whoa, I said hundreds earlier in reference to Iranian backed Shia extremists. Militia fighters, extremists, operatives, there are too many confusing terms. I don’t even know what’s going on and I’m in charge! Can you show me using Risk armies? Damn, look at all that color, which is what enemy?

Last month, Osama bin Laden, the still free man who attacked us on 9-11, released a tape in which he railed against Iraqi tribal leaders who have turned on al Qaeda and admitted that coalition forces are growing stronger in Iraq. Ladies and gentlemen, some idiots may deny the surge is working, but among the terrorists there is no doubt, Osama remains free. Thank God almighty Al Qaeda is on the run in Iraq, and this enemy will be defeated, once it is finally caught. (Applause.)

When we met last year, our troop levels in Iraq were on the rise, like food and energy prices. Today, because of the progress just described, we are implementing a policy of "return on success," and the surge forces we sent to Iraq are beginning to come home. Buckeye! I need the troops to stay for my next regime change.

This progress is a credit to the valor of our troops and the brilliance of their commanders. This evening, I want to speak directly to our men and women on the front lines. Soldiers and sailors, airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen: In the past year, you have done everything we've asked of you, and more. Our nation is grateful for your courage. We are proud of your accomplishments. And tonight in this hallowed chamber, with the American people as our witness, we make you a solemn pledge: In the fight ahead, you will have all you need to protect our nation. Why I waited almost five years to make this commitment, I don’t know? But it includes greater access to mental health care as record numbers of you are attempting suicide. (Applause.) And I ask Congress to meet its responsibilities to these brave men and women we’re breaking. Fully fund our troops. (Applause.)

Our various hydra-like enemies in Iraq have been hit hard. They are not yet defeated, and we can still expect tough fighting ahead. Our objective in the coming year is to sustain and build on the gains made in 2007, while transitioning to the next phase of our strategery. What that is, only I know. American troops are shifting from leading operations, to partnering with Iraqi forces, and, eventually, to a protective overwatch mission. Once Israel obliterates Iran’s nuclear enrichment facilities, the United States stands to overwatch and contain Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s retaliatory impulse. This means few actual troops are coming home. (Applause.)

Any further drawdown of U.S. troops will be based on conditions in Iraq and the recommendations of our commanders. General Petraeus has warned that too fast a drawdown could result in the "disintegration of the Iraqi security forces, al Qaeda-Iraq regaining lost ground, [and] a marked increase in violence." Does that make any sense? Why would Iraqi security forces disintegrate if we drew down? Does that means split into various religious based groups? Mother fucker, how can I not make this sound like a civil war? Members of Congress: Having stayed so long and seen little change in the dynamics, we must not drawdown fast. The surge is hitting its rhythm. I can feel a good climax coming and it ends with a discharge on Iran. (Applause.)

In the coming year, we will work with Iraqi leaders as they build on the progress they're making toward political reconciliation. After 4 years, consider these words. Beginning to come together, seeing some encouraging signs, now debating, reconciliation is taking place -- and the Iraqi people are taking control of their future. It’s a shame the government isn’t helping. (Applause.)

The mission in Pakistan has been difficult and trying for our nation. But it is in the vital interest of the United States that we succeed. A free Pakistan will deny al Qaeda a safe haven. A free Pakistan will show millions across the Middle East that a future of liberty is possible. A free Pakistan will be a friend of America, a partner in fighting terror, and a source of stability in a dangerous part of the world.

By contrast, a failed Pakistan would embolden the extremists, strengthen Iran, and give terrorists a nuclear capable base from which to launch new attacks on our friends, our allies, and our homeland. The enemy has made its intentions clear. They’ve declared war on dozens of countries and billions of people.

At a time when the momentum seemed to favor them, al Qaeda's top commander in Pakistan declared that they will not rest until they have attacked us here in Washington. My fellow Americans: We will not rest either. We will not rest until this enemy has been defeated. (Applause.) We must do the difficult work today, so that years from now people will look back and say that this generation rose to the moment, prevailed in a tough fight, and left behind a more hopeful region and a safer America. And that’s why Pervez Musharraf sacked the Chief Justice, suspended the Constitution, and shut down the free press. (Applause.)

We're also standing with our Israeli friends in the Holy Land, where we have new cause for hope. In 2006 Palestinians elected leaders which the world promptly ignored. Our divide and conquer strategery is working as Hamas and Fatah leaders fight each other. Israelis have leaders who recognize that a peaceful, democratic Palestinian state on their terms will be a source of lasting security. This month in Ramallah and Jerusalem, I assured leaders from both sides that America will do, and I will do, everything we can to help them achieve a peace agreement that defines a Palestinian state by the end of this year. I’ve authorized the gift of bunker buster bombs and Predator drones to help achieve this peace. The time has come for a Holy Land where a democratic Israel and a democratic Palestine live side-by-side in peace. Then after one year, democratic Israel can invade democratic Palestine, like it did to democratic Lebanon, after it achieved its inspiring freedom. (Applause.)

Here’s my favorite part. We're standing against the forces of extremism embodied by the nefarious regime in Tehran. Iran's rulers oppress a good and talented people, which happened to elect them twice. And wherever free markets are imposed by the West in the Middle East, it seems the Iranian regime is there to oppose it. Iran is funding and training militia groups in Iraq, supporting Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon, and backing Hamas' efforts to undermine peace in the Holy Land. Whoa! Our friends the Saudi’s did a $3 billion deal with Hamas, but instead I will focus on evil Iran. Tehran is also developing ballistic missiles of increasing range, and continues to develop its capability to enrich uranium, which could be used to create a nuclear weapon.

Our message to the people of Iran is clear: We have no quarrel with you, just as we had no quarrel with the people of Iraq. You’ve seen how that went. We respect your traditions and your history, symbols of which can be looted after an invasion. We look forward to the day when you have your freedom. Our message to the leaders of Iran is also clear: Verifiably suspend your nuclear enrichment, so negotiations can begin. And to rejoin the community of nations, come clean about your nuclear intentions and past actions so we can use it as an excuse for present day aggression. Stop your oppression at home, cease your support for terror abroad. But above all, know this: America will confront those who threaten our troops. We will stand by our Israeli ally, and we will defend our vital interests in the Persian Gulf. It’s our oil! (Applause.)

On the home front, we will continue to take every lawful and effective measure to protect our country. And what’s not lawful in doing so, must be made legal. This is our most solemn duty. We are extremely grateful that there has not been another attack on our soil since 9/11. This is not for the lack of desire or effort on the part of the enemy. Bin laden remains free. In the past six years, we've stopped numerous attacks, including a plot to fly a plane into the tallest building in Los Angeles, I can’t recall the name. And another group wanted to blow up passenger jets bound for America over the Atlantic. Dedicated men and women in our government toil day and night to stop the terrorists from carrying out their plans. These good citizens are saving American lives, and everyone in this chamber owes them our thanks. But should any of these government employees notice fraud or malfeasance and report it, they incur my wrath. I hate whistleblowers almost as much as terrorists. (Applause.)

And we owe these government servants something more: We owe them the tools they need to keep our people safe. And one of the most important tools we can give them is the ability to monitor terrorist communications. Hear that terrorists? We’re watching and listening! To protect America, we need to know who the suspected terrorists are talking to, what they are saying, and what they're planning. Last year, Congress passed legislation to help us do just that. Unfortunately, Congress set the legislation to expire on February the 1st. That means if you don't act by Friday, our ability to track terrorist threats would be weakened and our citizens will be in greater danger. Congress must ensure the flow of vital intelligence is not disrupted. The problem is little vital intelligence flows from the White House. Therefore, Congress must cover our mistakes by passing liability protection for companies “believed” to have assisted in the efforts to defend America. Yes, a risk manager wrote this speech. We've had ample time for debate, which we did not use. The time to act to cover my ass is now. (Applause.)

Protecting our nation from the dangers of a New Century requires more than blustery speech and a big stick. It also requires changing the conditions that breed resentment and allow extremists to prey on despair. So America is using its influence to build a freer, more hopeful, and more compassionate world market. This is a reflection of our national corporate interest; it is the calling of our wallet’s conscience.

America has opposed genocide in Sudan for years, yet it continues. (Applause.) We support freedom in countries from Cuba and Zimbabwe to Belarus and Burma. But Chevron keeps pumping natural gas, supplying millions of dollars to the Burmese junta. (Applause.)

America is leading the fight against global poverty, with strong education initiatives and humanitarian assistance. We've also changed the way we deliver aid by launching the Millennium Challenge Account. This program strengthens democracy, transparency, and the rule of law in developing nations, and I ask you to fully fund this important initiative. Unfortunately, our lack of transparency in America means we don’t qualify for our own program! (Applause.)

America is leading the fight against global hunger. Today, more than half the world's food aid comes from the United States. Yet, people still starve in Haiti, Africa, and Southeast Asia. And tonight, I ask Congress to support an innovative proposal to provide food assistance by purchasing crops directly from farmers in the developing world, so we can build up local agriculture and help break the cycle of famine. I believe a market exists for Haitian yellow dirt cookies. (Applause.)

America is leading the fight against disease. With your help, the World Bank is working to cut by half the number of malaria-related deaths in 15 African nations. And our Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief is treating 1.4 million people. We can bring healing and hope to many more, including the 47 million people without health care coverage here at home. So I ask you to maintain the principles that have changed behavior and made this program a success, privatize. And I call on you to double our initial commitment to fighting HIV/AIDS by approving an additional $30 billion over the next five years. (Applause.)

America is a force for hope in the world because underneath our insensitive government, we are a compassionate people. Some of the most compassionate Americans are those who have stepped forward to protect us. Nobody doubts that compassion can best be delivered through a gun barrel. We must keep faith with all who have risked life, limb, and their mental health so that we might live in freedom and peace. Over the past seven years, we've increased funding for veterans by more than 95 percent. And as we increase funding -- (applause.) And as increase funding we must also reform our veterans system to meet the needs of a new war and a new generation. (Applause.) I call on the Congress to enact the reforms recommended by Senator Bob Dole and Secretary Donna Shalala, so we can improve the system of care for our wounded warriors and help them build lives of hope and promise and dignity. Privatize! (Applause.)

Our military families also sacrifice for America. They endure sleepless nights and the daily struggle of providing for children while a loved one is serving far from home. We have a responsibility to provide for them and provide incentives for young people to join the military. So I ask you to join me in expanding their access to child care, creating new hiring preferences for military spouses across the federal government, and allowing our troops to transfer their unused education benefits to their spouses or children. (Applause.) Our military families serve our nation, they inspire our nation, and tonight our nation honors them. (Applause.)

The strength -- the secret of our strength, the miracle of America, is that our greatness lies not in our government. (Rigorous Applause.) When the Federal Convention met in Philadelphia in 1787, our nation was bound by the Articles of Confederation, which began with the words, "We the undersigned delegates." When Governor Morris was asked to draft a preamble to our new Constitution, he offered an important revision and opened with words that changed the course of our nation and the history of the world: "We the people." The secret of America’s strength lies in the spirit and determination of our people. What secret? The world knows this like the back of their hand. They like Americans, they don’t trust our heavy handed, "my way or the highway" government.

By trusting the people back in 1787, our Founders wagered that a great and noble nation could be built on the liberty that resides in the hearts of a few men and women. By trusting the people so little they created the Electoral College to rectify any errors, succeeding generations transformed our fragile young democracy into the most powerful nation on Earth. And we want more! And so long as we continue to act like we trust the people, our nation will prosper on the backs of the consumer, our liberty will be secure via overwhelming force capability, and the state of our Division will remain strong. (Applause.)

So tonight, with confidence in my ability to divide, let us set forth to do my bidness. God bless me and God Bless My America. (Applause.)

END 10:02 P.M. EST (for the real speech click here)

Monday, January 28, 2008

Nation Not on Edge, but Sick & Tired

The fatigue of the Bush Presidency is palpable. Seven years of substitution and sub-optimization have worn the patience of many Americans. Fortunately, tonight is George W.'s last State of the Union address. Pundits expect him to talk about the war in Iraq, alongside domestic and foreign issues. But his main point will be to "blame Congress." The "uniter, not a divider" will wield a huge meat cleaver in the House Chambers, as he tries to salvage his legacy. Domestically and internationally, I'm not sure there's ever been a better divider, his conquering skills leave something to be desired.

George W. Bush moved from day 1 to unify the Executive, to seize back Presidential powers lost after Nixon's demented fall. W. went much further than Richard ever did. Bush is expected to issue an Executive Order directing agencies to ignore any future earmarks that lawmakers attempt to include, but are not actually in the legislation. This is on top of an Executive Order which made Iraq oil companies and employees above the law and another which slapped whistle blowers by constraining the awards they could get for shining the light on federal malfeasance.

Bush optimized the Presidency at the expense of the other two branches of government. In doing so he sub-optimized our country. Bush repeatedly substituted falsehoods to push his policy directives. He contracted out larger and larger chunks of government work to his rich friends and corporate donors. He accused other governments of not being open and transparent, while hiding the most basic of information from oversight.

Why do so many people want Bush to go away? Many have worked with a heavy handed boss like him. It's exhausting to work with CEO's who need to hear what they want, throwing tantrums when the messenger delivers something else. It's hard to make complex issues simple for the simpleton. There's tremendous pressure when you're told to deliver, or else. (In Bush's case, this only applies to members of the other party, he has low standards for his political brand).

The American employee is tired of being substituted for contractors, foreign labor, and automated phone answering tree systems. The worker is sick of CEO's optimizing their executive compensation, thus sub-optimizing the company. Bush spreads the poison of pay for performance into health care, already beset by many intractable problems.

Those paying attention have insights into our federal government. It's for sale to those same corporate interests with their focus on profit growth at all costs. If Bush were honest, tonight he would say three things. One, give me what I want. Two, I don't really want to solve any of these problems (look at his health care record), I just want to push them off to the next guy or gal. And three, in my reality, I've been a huge success. Expect Bush to hone his laser like focus on those three goals while he's cutting brush in Crawford. The rest is just window dressing. But rest assured Bush will get there using substitution and sub-optimization. Who will notice? America's youth? Unlikely. But George remains a role model.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Fran Surfaces on FOX to Repair Bush Legacy

Ever since her retirement Fran Townsend has been very, very quiet. That changes tomorrow evening at 8:00 pm. The woman (who thinks George W. elevates his age) will be on a FOX News special.

Bush realism takes on new forms as it resets long unachieved goals and rewrites history, long after the fact. Fran will speak about the hunt for Usama bin Laden in FOX's program, Fighting to the Finish. The story had this to say:

"Former Homeland Security Advisor Fran Townsend told me that the president has made abundantly clear that he wants Usama Bin Laden killed or captured before he leaves office … and describes, in detail, the president’s daily brief in the Oval Office.

“Once a week he's — he's getting an update on the hunt for Bin Laden and the Al Qaeda leadership,” Townsend, who left her position at the beginning of January, told me. “The president has made perfectly clear that he wants Bin Laden brought to justice before he leaves office.”

The reporter also noted, President Bush conceded to me that he failed in his goal to be a “uniter and not a divider.” The president told me, “I'd say that I worked to be a uniter and it didn't work.”

Wow, what if George W. truly wanted to be a uniter and it didn't work? That means he became a divider, which means he failed in his original quest. That is, if he really meant it. What data reflects on his ability to cooperate on behalf of the people?

After Hurricane Katrina, White House spokesman Trent Duffy promised the White House investigation will be "robust," and said there will also be a congressional probe. Congress wanted to see White House communications regarding its Katrina response. Their excuse for not providing such information, "providing the documents was impractical because it would require reviewing more than 71 million e-mail messages." So Congress requested just those between Homeland Security Adviser Frances Townsend and Chief of Staff Andy Card. The White House rejected that, suggesting it would "impinge on the separation of powers of the legislative and executive branches." Divider

The number of people without health insurance grew by 7 million people on Bush's watch. A proposed expansion of coverage for children was met with falsehoods from the White House. Bush barked out kids in families making $83,000 would get coverage. Not true according to Senators Orrin Hatch and Chuck Grassley. Divider

But George W. has more skills than division. He's also a rewriter. Consider this comment from a Wall Street Journal veteran, “I've been edited by Bob Bartley [of the Wall Street Journal] and Bill Buckley [of National Review] and the president is by far the most thorough and sharp editor.” Rewriter

Did you know that Bush can turn any defeat into victory, even long after the fact? The intelligence report on Iran's suspension of its nuclear weapons program in 2003 has morphed into a great outcome of America's invasion of Iraq. Condi Rice is offering this nugget five years after the invasion where the Iraqi people greeted us with flowers.

Knowledge is prediction. It's speculation to say, after this, therefore because of this. Show me a leader who knows enough to make good predictions and I will follow him or her. Bush's record of sorry predictions is clear. His effort to paint them over adds simply weight to their already wobbly legs.

Here's my prediction. Israel will attack Iran's nuclear enrichment facilities in the near future. The United States will stand strong to contain any blowback fueled by Iran's retaliatory impulse. Bush is re-assembling the team that took us into Iraq. Israel has a satellite that can look into Iran whatever the weather. The chess pieces are moving on the wobbly Bush cardtable. Will the battle on the board commence before the whole table crashes? Time will tell.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Lost in the Bush E-mail Flap

My conservative friends roundly defend President Bush's right to keep his e-mails confidential. The rationale given most often is for national security. They paint anyone not agreeing with them, liberals and independents, as being "for the terrorists". In their mind, it's better e-mails are lost than get in the hands of evil doers. I disagree with this as a blanket statement. I think the public has the right to know anything about White House e-mails regarding the Executive's response to Hurricane Katrina.

The missing two year period includes Hurricane Katrina. Congress already tried to get e-mails on Bush's slothful response. The first excuse given by White House lawyers, "There are too many of them (71 million)." When Congress narrowed it down to electronic communications between Frances Townsend, Homeland Security Adviser, and Andy Card, Chief of Staff, attorneys invoked the now hauntingly familiar, executive privilege.

Well, it turns out Congress had it wrong. They needed any communication from junior staffer Joe Hagin, not Frances "fresh from vacation and headed to Saudi Arabia" Townsend. How many days does it take to fly to Saudi Arabia? How long does it take to freshen up and make oneself presentable? Fran presented a letter from President Bush to the Saudi monarch on September 5th, 2005. Hospital patients were still being evacuated on September 3rd.

After Frances got back, she whitewashed the White House disaster response. Her Feb. 2006 Lessons Learned report became the next phase in the Bush disaster. It omitted the hospital with the largest number of patient deaths. Carlyle's LifeCare lost 24 patients in the storm. Did Fran send or receive any e-mails from her friends at Carlyle, LifeCare, Tenet Healthcare, or their hired lobbyist guns? Those are the ones I want to see.

How would viewing communications between Joe, Fran, Andy, and other leaders open up secrets terrorists could then use against us? Terror existed in our homeland in dead, steamy toxic hospitals.

Bush's Katrina analysis meekly offered the unprecedented disaster defense, a few hero stories and exhorted we must do better next time. It never stated who was responsible for hospital patient evacuations, nor did it analyze how those parties performed. This is odd as news footage showed President Bush asking Michael Brown about hospital patients the day Katrina struck.

What's now clear is the White House was AWOL on Katrina. Bush-Crawford, Cheney-Wyoming, Card-Maine, Condi-NYC and Fran were all on vacation as the hurricane approached. Press Secretary Scott McClellan noted Joe Hagin to be the White House man in charge for Katrina. After landfall, no one stepped forward as the official point person. Homeland Security Adviser Fran was dispatched to Saudi Arabia.

Maybe my conservative friends are right. If the White House e-mails come out, they could well show the terrorists that nobody was in charge. The problem is Americans suffered and died. It didn't happen at the hands of those who hate us, but from the inattention of those charged with protecting the homeland. That's why the e-mails on Katrina need to come out.

They could explain much, even put into context the feds approval of Carlyle's purchase of huge nursing home provider ManorCare. One might expect failing 24 hospital patients in a time of disaster to get deep scrutiny. Yet, this fact didn't receive the slightest sunshine during the review process.  ManorCare might have been the final icing on Fran's federal cake.

February 2006, Bush's Lessons Learned report omits Carlyle affiliate LifeCare's 24 (later determined to be 25) patient deaths in their New Orleans hospital (one of twenty one facilities). Report is authored by Frances Townsend.

November 2007, Fran tenders her resignation, citing her desire to do global risk management for a large bank or financial services firm.

December 2007, Bush administration approves Carlyle's purchase of ManorCare with over 500 facilities, mostly nursing homes.

January 2008, Fran leaves office "unscathed" after complaining of the constant threat of subpoenas and predicting al Qaeda will do something around the 2008 election. Mrs. Townsend hires Bob Barnett, attorney to advise her on her career moves. Mr. Barnett's bio highlights his A list clients, which includes senior members of the Carlyle Group.

It's almost February. How soon will the world find out where Fran Townsend lands in a global risk management role? Certainly she helped Carlyle manage their risks. After buying ManorCare, the huge private equity underwriter closed on a chain of Japanese nursing homes. They purchased the land and buildings of Bon Sejour Grand's resident paid nursing homes. With the Japanese attention to detail and quality, Fran's omission may have been Carlyle's good fortune. Will they reciprocate?

Update 11-24-10:  The Obama administration released e-mails regarding the BP oil spew, Obama's Katrina.  The Bush administration classified Fran's August/September 2005 e-mails.  They won't be released

Update 6-11-12:  The Obama administration refused to release 21 documents regarding the BP oil spew.  The list of documents included e-mails.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Do Answers Lie Levels Below the Decider?

Having tried for nearly two years to get questions answered about the White House Lessons Learned report on Hurricane Katrina, I realize I might have set my sights too high in expecting George W. Bush, Frances Townsend, or any of my elected officials to respond to my numerous inquiries.

It turns out the big dogs were on vacation for Katrina, George Bush, Andrew Card, Condi Rice, and Fran Townsend. The man in charge was Deputy Chief of Staff Joe Hagin, at least Scotty McClellan said so.

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, Joe Hagin has been very involved in it, and Joe Hagin updated the President earlier this morning on the latest in terms of the assessments that are being made and the response efforts. We have search and rescue teams deployed. We have ongoing efforts to make sure assistance is getting to those in need.

But in terms of the White House interagency task force, that's being led by our domestic policy council. And in terms of -- you know, Joe Hagin has really been a point person in terms of overseeing efforts from the White House.

I hadn't thought to write Joe with my questions. I've sent them to just about everyone else, but to the guy in charge! It turns out Fran was on her way to Saudi Arabia to hand deliver a message to the monarchy about the crisis. Just after the last hospital patient was pulled from a steaming toxic soup, Fran landed in the Middle East. It's hard to coordinate federal recovery efforts as Homeland Security Adviser from a plane over the Atlantic or Mediterranean. But Joe had it all under control. And Fran knew first hand about the President's hard work.

"I reject outright any suggestion that President Bush was anything less than fully involved."

So Joe Hagin, here are my questions:

1) Why did Frances Townsend omit any mention of the hospital with the largest patient death toll from her Lessons Learned report? The Carlyle Group's LifeCare Hospitals must be pleased about this omission as they enter 24 potential wrongful death lawsuits.

2) Did Tenet Healthcare or LifeCare lobbyists approach the White House, requesting their firms be left out of the investigation? They invested $1.8 million in lobbyist for 2005-2006, the period of the storm and report creation.

3) Did the White House get my e-mails in the aftermath of the storm? As someone who evacuated a Texas Gulf Coast hospital before then record strength Hurricane Gilbert, I knew the potential for thousands of patients to remain stuck in dead hospitals. Having worked in a 725 bed dead, river flooded Virginia hospital, I know how quickly they can become death traps. Did my dozens of e-mails get lost later, along with the 5-10 million missing e-mails from October 2003 to October 2005? If you need mine, I still have copies.

Write me back, Joe. No one else wants to answer my questions. And since you were the man in charge, maybe I've finally gotten to the right place.

Bush Lied

From CNN’s Jack Cafferty. President Bush and top administration officials publicly made 935 false statements about the risk posed by Iraq in the two years following 9/11 according to a study done by two nonprofit journalism groups.

The study found President Bush led the pack with 260 lies, but he wasn’t alone. Other officials listed include: Vice President Dick Cheney, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, among others.

The study points to at least 532 times where officials said that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction or was trying to get them or had links to al Qaeda. They say the statements “were part of an orchestrated campaign that effectively galvanized public opinion and, in the process, led the nation to war under decidedly false pretenses.”

Here’s my question to you: What do you make of a study that shows President Bush and his top aides made 935 false statements about the threat from Iraq in the two years after 9/11?

SOD's response: No surprise. Anyone paying attention to Bush’s wooden rhetoric knows it’s peppered with distortions and nose growing falsehoods. It’s the famous Bush reality of which his advisors speak. Condi Rice is in Switzerland, telling the World Economic Forum about “American realism.” My guess is the audience simply wants her and her boss to just go away. But that could just be projection, otherwise known as my reality…

(Published here, but still awaiting CNN's approval some 18 hours later.)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Adults Acutely Feel U.S. Health Care's Non-System

The Centers for Disease Control published extremely low vaccination rates for adults despite widespread public attention the last few years for shots that prevent three diseases, shingles, whooping cough and cervical cancer.

Only about 2 percent of Americans ages 60 and older received a vaccine against shingles in its first year of sales.

About 2 percent of adults ages 18 to 64 got a booster shot against whooping cough in the two years since it hit the market. The force from coughing associated with this disease is strong enough to break a rib. (What do you see on that x-ray, Mr. President?)

About 10 percent of women ages 18 to 26 have received at least one dose of a three-shot series that protects against the human papillomavirus, or HPV, that causes cervical cancer.

The AP report said the main barrier couldn't be cost as people got vaccinated at the following rates for much cheaper shots. Among people 65 or older, a high-risk age, CDC found only 69 percent get an annual flu shot; just 66 percent have had a one-time pneumonia vaccine; and 44 percent had received a tetanus shot in the past 10 years.

I don't know who does the math at the AP but a 2-10% rate for vaccines ranging from $150 to $300 is much lower than 44-69% coverage for the less expensive shots. My flu shot cost around $25 with my insurance paying not one dime. With 47 million uninsured Americans and two thirds of those meeting the President's definition of low income (less than 200% FPL), it's easy to see why so few people received the recommended shots. It's another tribute to the U.S.'s health care nonsystem.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Republican Foot Dragging on Healthcare for Kids

Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt said health care issues are divisive. Funny, I thought issues were issues. However, people's approach to them could be divisive. Take children's health insurance and taxing private equity fund mangers as recent examples.

Why won't Congress act to provide coverage for children as health insurance coverage becomes increasingly unaffordable for millions of working parents? Their "government run healthcare" rationale for denying expanded insurance doesn't bear out in reality. Most state CHIP plans are provided by private insurers. So what's the real reason?

It seems they don't want to ask others to pay their fair share, via taxes. Hospitals call the part of the bill not covered by insurance, patient responsibility. Instead of taxes, we should call our payments to the government, citizen's responsibility.

Who's not paying their fair share? Private equity managers pay 15% taxes on carried interest, vs. regular tax rates on income. While Congress debated this inequity, it choose to do nothing to correct the malformation in our tax code. Democrat Chuck Schumer helped block efforts to have rich PE managers pay their fair share.

An infamous private equity underwriter, The Carlyle Group, just announced the sale of affiliate CDM Resource Management for $655 million. The PEU purchased the company in May 2003 for $50 million, giving it a $605 million profit. Taxed at the old capital gains rate of 20%, Carlyle would pay $121 million to Uncle Sam. But with George W.'s lowering of the rate, the PEU will pay less than $91 million, an over $30 million savings. How many kids could be covered with those funds?

But will the Democrats really take on private equity? My Eight Ball just returned the verdict. Signs point to "no". The question is how long children will go without health coverage so the candidates can continue gorging at the campaign money trough?

Friday, January 18, 2008

State of the Same

It seems both political parties like to be seen with their high dollar supporters. Bob Johnson, BET founder, made the headlines recently with his dig on Barack Obama and subsequent apology. Bob attempted to support Hillary Clinton, but got carried away.

The news failed to mention billionaire Bob's joint venture deal with The Carlyle Group. It neglected to call him a "small business owner and community banker", like President George W. Bush did in fall of 2006.

Given his strong defense of Hillary, what is Mrs. Clinton's position on taxing private equity carried interest?

As for The Carlyle Group, co-founder David Rubenstein had to deal with protests during today's speech at Wharton. He defended allegations of layoffs at ManorCare by saying "we've only owned the company two weeks." Let's see what other healthcare companies had Carlyle owned two weeks when something catastrophic happened? That would be LifeCare, the hospital with the largest number of patient deaths from Hurricane Katrina.

David must be good at using that "only two week" excuse. One might expect failures at other Carlyle healthcare affiliates to be pertinent in considering future buyouts, but not in ManorCare's case. Even a reporter from the Toledo Blade said the 24 LifeCare deaths were out of bounds. The feds went 0 for 9 in responding to my concerns.

David's other defense was no one ever talks about the good private equity does, especially in growing jobs. The Private Equity Council is working hard to justify PEU managers keeping their preferred tax status on carried interest. They published a study showing the positive economic impact of private equity underwriters. Be sure to read the comment at the bottom of the Reuter's article on that very topic. So Mrs. Clinton, where do you stand on taxing carried interest as income?