Saturday, January 31, 2009

Dashing Daschle a PEU, Lobbyist, Tax Dodger

President Barack Obama's team quickly mastered the Friday evening, bad news drop. The disturbing information regarded HHS Secretary nominee Tom Daschle. Tom failed to report all his compensation between his jobs as lobbyist for Alston & Bird and board member for InterMedia Advisers, a private equity underwriter (PEU).

As a result, Mr. Daschle owed over $140,000 in taxes and interest. He may still owe additional Medicare taxes. Isn't that one of the programs he'll oversee? He worked alongside ex-Medicare Chief Tom Scully at Alston & Bird. Scully registered as a lobbyist, Daschle did not.

Daschle served alongside Bob Kerrey on the board of PEU InterMedia Advisers. Kerrey sits on the board of Tenet Health, a for-profit hospital chain. Tenet's Memorial Medical Center lost 34 patients in Hurricane Katrina's aftermath. Bush's White House made no mention of Tenet or Memorial in his Lesson's Learned report. A year later Jeb Bush landed a spot on the Tenet board. Coincidence or payback?

Yet, there are more ties to 24 of Memorial's patient deaths. They occurred on a floor rented to LifeCare Hospitals, a long term acute care hospital chain. Weeks before landfall The Carlyle Group purchased LifeCare from GTCR-Golder Rauner. While HCA rented medical evacuation helicopters to remove patients from its dead facilities, Tenet and LifeCare/Carlyle let patients linger in an overheated toxic stew for five days.

Frances Townsend omitted the hospital with the highest patient death toll and its corporate owners. You won't find Memorial Medical Center, Tenet Health, LifeCare, or the Carlyle Group in her lengthy whitewash. Also missing, their red and blue connections. Red President George W. Bush served on the board of CaterAir, a Carlyle affiliate in the early 1990's. Carlyle employs a number of Bush 41, Clinton 42, and Bush 43 White House and Cabinet veterans. President Obama's new Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel has ties to the firm that sold LifeCare weeks before landfall. GTCR's Chairman served as Emanuel's mentor.

Other than realizing I won't get my nearly three year old questions answered by members of the red or blue team, what's the insight? The blue team played a mean game of corporate imitation the last two decades. For-profit hospitals are two degrees away from the point man for health care reform, who served as chair for a PEU. Private equity targeted health care the last five years. It looks like their bets will pay off.

Watch reform closely. The citizen stands to lose again to corporate interests of the red and blue variety. Like Lucy, Washington insiders are an equal opportunity football puller.

Prescient David Rubenstein Speaks for Obama at WEF

Carlyle co-founder David Rubenstein revealed the coming "mother of all stimulus packages" in Anchorage, Alaska. He did so weeks before politicians publicly mentioned any stimulating words. David's latest revelation came at the World Economic Forum, where he leads the effort to redesign the global financial system, such that it continues to favor private equity underwriters (PEU's).

An Australian paper reported on world anger over Obama's stimulus plans requirement to buy American steel for projects. David weighed in on the controversy:

Asked about the "buy US steel" plan that alarmed the Australian Government, Mr Rubenstein stunned the conference by saying the protectionist clause in the Obama Administration's economic stimulus plan would not proceed.

Mr Rubenstein insisted that it was placed in the package by the new Administration to allow "a few people to let off steam". While the US President would not make any big statements, the ban on use of foreign steel in big US infrastructure projects would not remain.

Mr Rubenstein's statement, welcomed immediately by Australian Trade Minister Simon Crean, sparked alarm but its shaky status was confirmed just a few hours later. "The Administration is reviewing that provision," said White House spokesman Robert Gibbs. "It understands all of the concerns that have been heard not only in this room."

David Rubenstein speaks, Obama listens. Instead of "My broker is E.F. Hutton", it's now "My PEU is the Carlyle Group". Everybody stop and listen, something noteworthy is coming, sure to pump up Carlyle's profits. Carlyle has a steel company to sell, after the Russian firm reneged on the $3.5 billion deal. Did Carlyle' Mack McLarty call Rahm Emanuel or did David Rubenstein speak directly with President Obama? Either way, the message was heard and reflected by Obama's spokesman.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Unvetted Conaway Appointed to House Ethics Committee

Did the House Ethics Committee, formally known as the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, vet Representative Mike Conaway R-TX? Did they check into his asleep at the switch role in the National Republican Congressional Committee embezzlement? Mike caught the accounting scam after a full year as chair of the audit committee. Recall Mr. Conaway is a certified public accountant.

The West Texas Congressman couldn't tell a consistent story on the nabbing of embezzler Chris Ward. First, it was hero Mike who caught wind of a complex scheme. Then it was staffer Jeff Burton who unveiled a relatively simple, five year heist.

But there's more, if the Ethics Committee did any digging. The timing of donations by the lobbying, Albertine brothers and Mike's earmark for their radar research firm follows a pay for play pattern.

Representative Conaway will be in position to monitor any investigations. He's quite good at not responding to citizen questions. I bet he clams up similarly in his Ethics role. I'll be shocked if Mike goes after members of the NRCC Executive Committee. They failed to fulfill their basic fiduciary duties. I served on local nonprofit boards that did a better job. To think, our elected officials are supposedly talented at governance.

Update: The House passed a ban one earmarks to corporations. The story mentions Congressional earmarks as a frequent cause of Ethics investigations. It remains to be seen if the Senate will do likewise.

Frances Townsend's "Diffusion of Accountability"

The NYU School of Law hosted a panel discussion on weapons of mass destruction and the future of terrorism. Ex-White House Homeland Security Adviser Frances Townsend served on the panel. Washington Square News reported:

The event, which featured members of the Commission on the Prevention of WMD Proliferation and Terrorism, showcased the commission’s newest report on the challenges posed by all forms of WMD — chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear — and its recommendations for the new administration’s responsive action.

Among the report’s most startling declarations is the prediction that at least one nuclear weapon will be detonated in the next five years. The panel members also asserted that the threat of nuclear and biological warfare to the United States is on the rise rather than decline.

Frances Townsend believes the American government can be more effective in controlling the world’s supply of WMDs if “the diffusion of accountability that currently exists in our government’s bureaucracy be abolished.”

Diffusion of accountability"? Mrs. Townsend omitted the hospital with the highest patient death toll from her White House Lessons Learned report on Hurricane Katrina. She made no mention of Memorial Medical Center and its 34 deaths. President George W. Bush's corporate friends benefited from her oversight. The Carlyle Group owned LifeCare Hospitals, which rented a floor in Memorial. LifeCare lost 24 patients after landfall. Tenet Health owned Memorial, which had 10 deaths.

Bush served on the board of CaterAir, a Carlyle Group affiliate, in the early 1990's. Brother Jeb landed a nice spot on the Tenet Board of Directors, with compensation of $37,000 a day. The appointment came a year after Frances released her pitiful investigative report. Frances Townsend is the embodiment of diffusion of accountability.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Stimulus Package: Bulge in Deformed Federal Purchasing Snake

The nearly $1 trillion economic stimulus plan will work its way through America's federal purchasing apparatus. President George W. Bush's gross mismanagement insured a system incapable of delivering quality. Bloomberg reported problems with federal purchasing, including widespread cost plus contracting and incentive bonuses, regardless of performance.

While I believe President Obama has not the time or the management theory to quickly improve federal purchasing, I wonder about the timing of the news release. Why didn't our accountable elected officials study federal purchasing during President Bush's eight years in office?

People voted for change. Did we get bait & switched? Might we not have thrown enough of them out? Time will tell.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

U.S. Congress Trustworthy as Wall Street CEO's

The airwaves showed Republican faces, the same ones who lied to me about gasoline supply and demand last August. Years of data shot holes in their assertions. Why should I believe their stimulus claims now?

A pox on Eric Cantor, Mike Pence, Mike Conaway and company. America's abysmal leadership continues. The blue team is included, with it's non-ideological change. Knowledge requires theory, i.e., what is expected by intervention. Change without theory is patently vacuous. "Doing what works" is a con job. We won't know what worked, until we do it. Dr. Deming would call practical change "off to the Milky Way."

Eight years of tax cuts didn't prevent greed and leverage, the underlying causes of our financial system meltdown. Why will tax cuts do anything other than put more money in the pockets of business? Those same corporations sent over 2 million jobs to China.

The race to the global bottom on taxes and worker pay/benefits continues, courtesy of the red & blue teams. Corporafornication remains alive and well.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Wall Street & Washington: America's Salmonella Peanut

Wall Street packaged toxic assets for sale to unwary consumers. The Peanut Company of America shipped tainted peanut products, batches they knew tested positive for salmonella. Their product sickened over 500 people, killing eight.

The SEC failed American investors, while the FDA neglected its duty to keep food products safe. Where does a consumer not need to exercise buyer beware?

Poor quality not only killed investing, it killed people hoping to enjoy a simple peanut product. America's leadership is abysmal and there are no signs of knowledge needed for profound change. Dr. Deming taught us, but so few leaders listened.

The ignorance in corporate board rooms and our hallowed halls of government is palpable. That includes the new occupant of the White House, intent on spending trillions without ideology or principle. "Things that work" is balderdash. How does one get to check, without doing plan, do first?

NSA Chiefs Trade Places

National Security Chief Mike McConnell returns to the private sector. He will rejoin Booz, Allen, Hamilton after 2 years of service under President Bush. The huge government contractor has a massive intelligence division.

One third of America's intelligence services are provided by private contractors like Booz, Allen, Hamilton. Yet, McConnell rejoins a different company. The Carlyle Group downed Booz in a $2.5 billion transaction in June 2008. They expect 30% annual returns on investment. The Wall Street Journal reported:

At Booz Allen, Mr. McConnell will be a senior vice president, the same title he held before, but he will take on a broader portfolio including helping determine the firm's strategy. He will also keep one hand in government work as a member of the President's Intelligence Advisory board under President Barack Obama.

That's a great spot for McConnell to read the tea leaves and adjust Booz, Allen's strategy. The Carlyle Group's political web grows stronger with McConnell's move.

What about the new guy, General James L. Jones? His corporate pedigree shines. General Jones sits on the boards of Chevron, Boeing, Invacare and Cross Match Technologies.

James is also president and chief executive officer of the Institute for 21st Century Energy, a policy center in affiliation with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. They unveiled a Transition Plan for Securing America's Energy Future, an energy policy roadmap with 88 concrete recommendations and detailed time lines for President-elect Barack Obama and the 111th Congress.

Jones will be the second Chevron board member in recent history to head the National Security Agency. He follows Condoleezza Rice. America's corporatocracy is alive and well. It's ready to tamper internationally.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Lobby Shell Game

President Obama's tough lobbying rules will not reduce the influence of influence peddlers in Washington, D.C. Cases in point, other than the gross exemption for the Pentagon deputy who lobbied for Raytheon?

Matthew Nugen worked at the highest levels of candidate Obama's political campaign. He served as Obama's point man for the Democratic National Convention and spent months guiding Joe Biden, of the potentially loose mouth. Matt landed a position with Ogilvy Government Relations. Ogilvy represents several huge private equity firms, The Carlyle Group and Blackstone. The New York Times reported:

Although Ogilvy is a lobbying firm, Mr. Nugen said in an interview with DealBook that he has not registered as a lobbyist, and his role for the moment is as a strategic adviser. But he also said he is likely to register as a lobbyist at some point down the line.

Asked about whether his move to a lobbying firm was at odds with Mr. Obama’s efforts to slow down what some have called Washington’s “revolving door,” Mr. Nugen said he was never a member of the administration, so the restrictions don’t apply.

Influence peddling remains alive and well. Health & Human Services Secretary Tom Daschle is evidence. He worked for Alston & Bird, a lobbying firm, yet Tom never registered as a lobbyist. Ex-Medicare/Medicaid Chief Tom Scully works for Alston & Bird. Scully registered as a lobbyist.

The big money boys have access to the current White House. The public is tired of the imbalance.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Salty Fran vs. Potty Mouthed Rahm

The media loves foul mouthed bureaucrats. Bush's Homeland Security adviser Frances Townsend was known for unleashing a string of four letter words. President Obama's Chief of Staff likes to drop an "F bomb" or two, but does so more sparingly than his mentee Governor Rod Blagojevich. The New York Times shared this story on Rahm:

Early this month, Barack Obama was meeting with the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, and other lawmakers when Rahm Emanuel, his chief of staff, began nervously cracking a knuckle.

Mr. Obama then turned to complain to Mr. Emanuel about his noisy habit. At which point, Mr. Emanuel held the offending knuckle up to Mr. Obama’s left ear and, like an annoying little brother, snapped off a few special cracks.

The episode, confirmed by Mr. Emanuel’s office, underscores some essential truths about Mr. Emanuel: He is brash, has a deep comfort level with his new boss, and has been ever-present at Mr. Obama’s side of late, in meetings, on podiums and in photographs.

Brash, hyper-competitive, foul mouthed, and hopefully more competent than his salty Bush peer. Frances Townsend left out the hospital with the highest patient death toll after Hurricane Katrina. Ironically there is a corporate link to Mr. Emanuel. Who knew they shared more than a potty mouth? They shared a toxic cesspool, one where 34 patients perished.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Saudi Official Cites Bush's "Sickening Legacy" in the Middle East

The Financial Times reported, Prince Turki al-Faisal said former President George W. Bush left a "sickening legacy" in the Middle East.

"If the U.S. wants to continue playing a leadership role in the Middle East and keep its strategic alliances intact - especially its 'special relationship' with Saudi Arabia - it will have to drastically revise its policies vis-a-vis Israel and Palestine," Turki said.

People got more than one indication of Bush's sick priorities. George W. sent Homeland Security adviser Frances Townsend to Saudi Arabia to deliver a letter. What higher priority called? Saving people after Hurricane Katrina, which happened to be the topic of the letter.

While critically ill hospital patients lingered in a toxic gumbo, Frances was AWOL. She did speak to Governor Blanco by phone early Wednesday morning (two days after landfall). Fran's other accomplishments on the crisis are unknown. The White House refused to release her and Chief of Staff Andy Card's e-mails to Congressional investigators.

A different White House special relationship stayed intact, corporatocracy. Mrs. Townsend made no mention of Memorial Medical Center or its affiliated corporate parents. Memorial rented a floor to LifeCare Hospitals, a long term acute care provider. The Carlyle Group, a potically connected private equity underwriter (PEU), purchased LifeCare just weeks before landfall. Memorial was owned by Tenet Health, a large for-profit hospital chain with a tainted ethics record.

MMC patients lingered in a humid hell for four days. Thirty four patients perished, 24 LifeCare and 10 MMC. Corporately that shows as The Carlyle Group 24 deaths, Tenet Health 10. How does one omit the hospital facility with the highest death toll from a "robust" investigation report?

President George W. Bush sat on the board directors of CaterAir, a Carlyle affiliate, in the early 90's. Brother Jeb landed a $37,000 a day seat on the Tenet Health board. The appointment came a year after Frances Townsend's published bust of a report.

Bush's sickening legacy reeks. Yes Prince Turki al-Faisal, things must change. The people voted for it. But then again, we voted for a "uniter, not a divider."

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Democratixx Rebooted

A huge ripple occurred yesterday in America's Democratixx. The Bush program was upgraded to vista Obama. Bush's Democratix was infected with insidious ties from huge corporations and Wall Street. Numerous Neo's noted it's propensity to start war for financial reasons.

Vista Obama covers those ties more effectively with powerful rhetoric and a disarming smile. Yet, the ties and propensities remain. The upgrade requires a more diligent population. That means more people taking the red pill. It could open your eyes.

America's corporate board rooms and our hallowed halls of government offer the latest upgrade for your living pleasure. See the lady in the red dress? Pay no attention to this thing called the Democratixx.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Obama's Inaugural Message "Responsibility"

The Washington Times previewed President Barack Obama's inauguration address. The piece stated:

Incoming White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Tuesday morning that President-elect Barack Obama will call today for an "era of responsibility" after he is sworn in to the presidency.

Accountability is one of three pillars Obama's Chief Performance Officer will use to improve government. Transparency and efficiency are the other two.

What do responsibility and accountability mean? Not much if leaders don't understand the aim of the system, optimization, the two kinds of variation and their different management strategies, intrinsic/extrinsic motivation, and how knowledge is obtained, via use of theory, and how it can be used for prediction.

Hold everybody accountable? Ridiculous!--Dr. W. Edwards Deming

The TARP system has no consistent aim. It wanders from the latest best idea to another. Meanwhile, taxpayers give billions to business shedding jobs by the tens of thousands. Don't leaders want to provide jobs anymore? That used to be part of their aim. Ask Henry Ford. He paid workers such that they could afford his product.

The "Era of Responsibility" may hide the global corporate race to the lowest common denominator on taxes. worker pay, and employment benefits. Citizens may soon be responsible for their health care coverage and retirement. America's corporatocracy can be gauged by the fortunes of private equity underwriters (PEU's). Nearly every ex-President and Vice President on the inaugural stage have a PEU affiliation.

The golden age of PEU's may be upon us, said Carlyle Group co-founder David Rubenstein. They had a banner eight years under Bush. How will responsibility impact America's shadow banking system? Maybe, not at all.

America needs an "Era of Leadership," a complete reformation of management theory in Boardrooms and Washington, D.C. The push for accountability/responsibility shows we're not even close.

Obama Executes Triple Bait & Switch

President-elect Barack Obama's basketball skills are well known, but his physical prowess extends further. Consider his sleight of hand:

1. John McCain, a pre-election Bush III, magically transformed into one of his closest advisers and guest of honor at today's inauguration.

2. President George W. Bush became a good guy, in fact Obama always thought Bush to be that way.

3. He called for the nation to make Dr. Martin Luther King's vision a reality. Yet, our government spied on the civil rights leader, much as it spies on legions of citizens today. President-elect Barack Obama's Senate votes wiped clean the telecom slate, dripping with acts of interposition and nullification.

In a statement marking the national holiday that commemorates King's birthday, Obama said the civil rights leader lived life "in loving service to others."

Our CIA spies on people living lives of loving service, peace activists, nuns, and people choosing to speak out for King's freedom and justice, not the horrific deformation perpetrated by George W. Bush's corporatocracy.

"As we honor that (King's) legacy, it's not a day just to pause and reflect -- it's a day to act," the president-elect said.

You bet it is. America just saw the first scene. It will cease to an act when the domestic spy dogs are called off and law breakers, torturers and snoopers, are punished. Otherwise, it's political theater, intended to occupy the masses.

Monday, January 19, 2009

World Needs Leaders, Quick or Wise?

On ABC's This Week, President-elect Barack Obama's right hand man spoke. David Axelrod said, “I think that the events around the world demand that he act quickly, and I think you’ll see him act quickly.”

The world demands he act wisely, not quickly. America voted against relying on force, rewarding the corporate elite, and tampering in other countries. The world cheered.

Axelrod's "quickly" means plans are in place. Contrast Obama's time frame for action with the label for people concerned about his reneging on those 500 campaign promises. They are called "impatient."

Labels, frames and plans, oh my! Substitute wisdom, please.

Bush's Charge Card

The federal deficit ballooned under President George W. Bush. It went from a 1% surplus as a percentage of gross domestic product to a deficit of 8.6%. The last Clinton administration budget had a surplus of more than $100 billion. Bush's final budget deficit could approach $1 trillion. He published his record, A Charge Kept. Charge, he did, over & over....

Rebooting the Democratixx

President George W. Bush's White House website could go black with the inauguration of President-elect Barack H. Obama. When that happens, some embedded links on this blog will cease to work. Rumor says a citizen's group is copying the content for use, but that remains to be seen. The Bush website stops at January 17, with his radio address. Will they post any last minute pardons before flipping the switch?

When the lights go out on eight years of Bush's Democratixx, what will follow? Early indications say more of the same, despite promises of change. Stay tuned...

Gaza Ghetto Row Cleanup

The world plans to bail out Israel for killing 1,300 Palestinians and inflicting $2 billion in damage to the Gaza ghetto. Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and European leaders offered huge sums toward the rebuilding process. Only someone has to be in charge, and it can't be Hamas. That leaves Palestinian Authority Chair Mahmoud Abbas. UN envoy Tony Blair leaked a secret agreement between Abbas and Olmert. Will his early December slip imperil the Fatah leaders chances of forming a unity government?

The Arab League meeting was expected to raise $2 billion to rebuild a razed Gaza. With Israel off the hook for the damage it caused, will the heavy-handed nation turn its jaundiced eye toward peace? An Arab peace offer sat on the table since 2002. V.P. Dick Cheney blew the dust off, declaring it a viable peace plan not long ago.

Israel best act fast, the offer will not be available forever. I'm not sure Israel and the United States want peace in the Middle East. It looks like they want their way. Political theater means an IDF withdrawal by inauguration day. Olmert doesn't want President Obama to have any taint, other than his 23 days of silence. Blair leaked again Obama's patent agreement with the plan. He did so with his comment that NSA Chair General James L. Jones and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton agreed with a change in strategy on Gaza. He made that remark 9 days before the Gaza pummeling began.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

CSPAN's Washington Journal & Fleecing of America

CSPAN: Ken Duberstein & Mack McLarty, former White House Chief of Staffs reflect upon their experience, the job of the Chief of Staff, as well as what is ahead for Pres.-elect Obama.

One would never think two affable guests, like Mack McLarty and Ken Duberstein, might fleece the average citizen. Both are ex-White House Chiefs of Staff, Duberstein under President Reagan and McLarty under President Clinton. Yet, both made huge money, directly and indirectly off taxpayers.

Ken Duberstein served on the Board of Fannie Mae from 1998-2007. He also advised the huge mortgage entity on regulatory matters, garnering $1,875,000 in consulting fees. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac received $250 billion in federal money during the Wall Street implosion.

Mack McLarty is a Senior Adviser to The Carlyle Group, a politically connected private equity underwriter (PEU). Carlyle's corporate office resides at 1001 Pennsylvania Avenue, down the street from 1600. The PEU has a track record of buying businesses, increasing their government sales, and later selling them for a profit. They purchased huge government contractor Booz, Allen, Hamilton last summer. With nearly 1,000 affiliates in ten industry segments, Carlyle wants to be a one stop shop for Uncle Sam. Carlyle deepened their blue bench with numerous Clintonites, McLarty included.

Carlyle's list of undue influence is lengthy, but one story is representative. Two weeks before Hurricane Katrina sideswiped New Orleans, the Carlyle Group purchased LifeCare Hospitals, a long term acute care hospital company, from GTCR Golder Rauner. Memorial Medical Center in New Orleans rented a floor to LifeCare. Post landfall, Memorial was flooded. Thirty four patients perished over the next 5 days, 24 on the LifeCare unit and 10 in the rest of the facility. Memorial Medical Center was owned by Tenet Health.

President Bush's Katrina Lessons Learned report made no mention of Memorial, LifeCare or their combined 34 deaths. Why not? Was the White House covering for their Pennsylvania Avenue friends? It certainly helps a company facing 24 wrongful dealth lawsuits for the federal government to be silent in their robust investigation.

A year later, what happened? Jeb Bush landed a seat on the Tenet Health board. His pay? $34,000 a day. Carlyle Group lawyers claimed the federal government was responsible for their 24 patient deaths, using the innovative legal defense that patients became wards of the feds when FEMA evacuation teams set up in New Orleans.

Ken Duberstein and Mack McLarty may be affable, but they're laughing while lifting the taxpayer's wallet. What does this portend for note taking Rahm Emanuel? He'll make a lot of money like Ken and Mack, only Rahm made $12 million working for an investment banker. One of their clients was GTCR Golder Rauner, the firm that sold LifeCare to The Carlyle Group. GTCR Golder Rauner's CEO coached Mr. Emanuel on his career. The Carlyle Group donated significant money to Congressman Rahm Emanuel, cracking his top ten political sponsors.

Washington Journal thanks you for enjoying today's political theater.

Barack Beats Bush in PJ's (Private Jets)

Bloomberg reported a record number of private jets will descend on Washington, D.C. for President Barack Obama's inauguration. A 9,400 foot runway at Dulles International Airport will be closed to make room for hundreds of private aircraft. Consider the data:

2005 Bush's second inauguration-300 private jets
2009 Obama's inauguration-500 private jets

Someone please check on Rep. Brad Sherman's flight accommodations. He drilled Big Three auto executives for their insensitive excess. Does Brad practice what he preaches as a public employee? I recall the fleet of private jets in Denver for the Democratic National Convention (pictured above).

Other data to monitor during the Barack Obama years includes the billions in assets managed by The Carlyle Group, a politically connected private equity underwriter (PEU).

2001--$12.5 billion
2009--$91.5 billion

It should be much higher, given that private equity is entering "it's finest hour". Carlyle co-founder David Rubenstein chairs a committee redesigning the global financial system. Think the PEU boys will come out on top? Stay tuned.

Mike Conaway's Bush Sandbagging

Accountants know how to leave wiggle room for success, but eight years of Bush deficits and boorish behavior are a hard sell. Sandbagger Rep. Mike Conaway, CPA tried to spin it:

"We spent more money and borrowed more money than any of us would have liked to," said Congressman Mike Conaway. "The war and things happened."

Things happened? Step up to the plate and accept responsibility. What happened to "Be like Mike"? Jordan retired and Conaway should as well.

Israel Declares One Way Cease Fire, Hamas One Week

The suffocating siege of Gaza continues with a brief respite in the fighting. How does a conflict end when only one side declares a cease fire? When the death toll is 1,300 to 13.

Hamas leaders told Israel they had a week to get the IDF out of Gaza. It's likely the other way around. The U.S. wants Fatah in power. Palestinian Authority Chair Mahmoud Abbas needs to rebuild Gaza, where violence destroyed 15% of the homes and damage is estimated at $1.5-2 billion.

If Israel was interested in peace, why did the Arab Peace Plan gather dust on a shelf for seven years? The Jewish State does not want peace, shown by its 2006 Lebanon razing and current Gaza pummeling. Clearly, Israel wants Hamas out and captured soldier Gilad Shalit back

Overall, they want land, fresh water and offshore natural gas. Violence is an acceptable method to achieve their aims. Does anyone find the timing of the war and the huge energy discovery an odd coincidence? Which way does the huge gas field run, east-west or north-south? Does it run in Palestinian waters off Gaza?

The world learned much about heavy handed Israel in this conflict. Their psyops continue. Prime Minister Olmert said, ""that Hamas is Iran's Gaza branch." One can't kill the branch of a bad tree, the trunk and stump must be removed. That's America and Israel's plan. There will be more wars, my friend.

Obama's Financial Jekyll & Hyde

What financial strategy will the Obama administration not employ? Rahm Emanual spoke on Meet the Putz this morning. On one hand Rahm offered dramatic fiscal stimulus, job creation, credit market support, tax cuts, and infrastructure development (with virtually anytbing defined as infrastructure).

On the other hand, he talked about getting America's financial house in order. Health care costs and Social Security are the two largest unfunded future mandates. From a business perspective, retirement and health insurance costs are no longer "affordable" in an imploding global economy.

America's Chamber of Commerce successfully shed the defined benefit pension over a two decade period. Most employees contribute to a 401(k) or 403(b). The recession finds many employers eliminating their match, i.e., employees are on their own. Expect the same moves for health care coverage.

America continues its race to the bottom, to the global lowest common denominator on taxes and worker pay/benefits. Both benefit the big money boys, sponsor of Rahm and his boss. Pay attention to the details folks. Enjoy the disarming smile and powerful rhetoric, but be wary. America was "bait & switched" in 2000. Don't let it happen again.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Bush Economy Summed by Carlyle Group's Growth

President George W. Bush leaves office in three days. While many seek to polish his crude, violent, and heavy-handed record, I offer one measure, the Carlyle Group's funds under management:

February 2001--$12.5 billion (MarketWatch)
January 2009--$91.5 billion (Kellogg School of Management)

The private equity underwriter (PEU) garnered an additional $79 billion. How many Americans experienced similar financial growth? Who had their assets grow over six and one-half times during the go-go Bush years? Carlyle takes an management fee and a big chunk of the profits. Whose income soared 658% under George W.'s rule? Very few, my friends. Bush loves corporations and he corporafornicated to the very end. PEU.

Obama Always Thought of Bush as "Good Guy"

CNN reported, "After two years of traveling around the country and criticizing President Bush, President-elect Barack Obama said Friday that he "always thought [Bush] was a good guy."

Good guy? So good guys torture, repeatedly lie, hyper-politicize justice into "just us," spy on Americans talking to Americans, exercise fiscal irresponsibility, fuel massive corporafornication, oversee the implosion of Wall Street (not saving Lehman Brothers with its two Bush relatives in the midst of a heated Presidential campaign). Good guys don't, but Bush did.

It didn't take long for the bloom to fall from the rose. President-elect Barack Obama's petals settled in the guano, built up under eight years of President George W. Bush. The public owes Bush thanks for pulling back the curtain showing the money machine fueling our Democratixx. A much more accomplished actor takes his place. The Good Guy line, truly felt or on yesterday's script? Who the hell knows in today's big-money-boy manipulated world?

Friday, January 16, 2009

How Obama Sells His Neocon Middle East Adviser

Most progressive news sites won't touch President-elect Barack Obama's appointment of Neocon Dennis Ross as his Special Adviser for the Middle East and Iran. How is he selling it? The Jerusalem Post gave a hint.

When questioned on whether his Middle East policy would build on US President George W. Bush's foundation or represent a clean break, Obama suggested continuity when he replied, "I think that if you look not just at the Bush administration, but also what happened under the Clinton administration, you are seeing the general outlines of an approach."

Dennis Ross is Clinton continuity, even going back to George H.W. Bush. Ross has the outline of a Neocon. Expect strong support of Israel and continued exercising of U.S. military might.

Those Who Have More, Go Offshore

While the U.S. taxpayer sends billions to corporate coffers, many of the same American businesses have offshore tax havens. The Washington Post reported:

A majority of America's largest publicly traded companies and the U.S. government's largest federal contractors -- including some receiving millions in federal bailout money -- use multiple subsidiaries in offshore tax havens to conduct business and avoid paying U.S. taxes, a new report finds.

Citigroup and Morgan Stanley set up hundreds of tax haven subsidiaries, along with American International Group and Bank of America. Also in the tax-haven list are well-known companies and such federal contractors as American Express, Pepsi and Caterpillar.

GAO, searching publicly available data filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, determined that 83 of the 100 largest publicly traded corporations and 63 of the 100 largest federal contractors maintain subsidiaries in countries generally considered havens for avoiding taxes.

The cost to taxpayers? An estimated $100 billion a year. Offshore schemes aren't limited to public corporations. Private equity underwriters (PEU's) use the same venue to avoid changes in "carried interest" taxation, profits from investments earned by PEU managers. Those who have more, don't pay more, they go offshore. Most citizens lack funding to sail to Tax Haven Island.

Obama Uses BushCo To Deliver Bad News

President-elect Barack Obama had President George W. Bush request the remaining $350 billion in federal bailout money. CIA Director Michael Hayden delivered news that Obama will not pursue investigations on Americans torturing prisoners.

Corporafornication is alive and well. America's scales of justice no longer stand. They're shattered on the floor, falling due to a lack of balance. Following unstable Bush, practical Obama will sweep them under the rug.

Now change means No Change from W.

Frances Townsend Testimony Before Congress

Senator Leahy poured on the compliments in introducing Frances Fragos Townsend. He intermixed effusive praise with her resume, most recently as President Bush's Homeland Security adviser. Mrs. Townsend beamed. Fran's testimony in strong support of Eric Holder sounded like she might be angling for a job in the Obama administration.

No one asked Frances Fragos Townsend why she omitted the hospital with the highest patient death toll from her Hurricane Katrina Lessons Learned Report. As a matter of fact, Fran got not one question. History repeats itself.

Progress Toward Israel's Endgame in Gaza

Israel's goals are supplanting Hamas and returning captured soldier Gilad Shalit. Day 21 of the conflict finds progress on both. It comes with huge amounts of American aid. General James L. Jones, President elect Obama's National Security Adviser, helped Fatah grow its security capability during his time as Special Middle East envoy for President Bush. The Jerusalem Post reported:

The war against Hamas is taking place not only in the Gaza Strip, but in the West Bank as well, Palestinians said on Thursday.

Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority security forces, they noted, had stepped up their crackdown on Hamas supporters and figures in the West Bank since the beginning of Operation Cast Lead.

The latest anti-Hamas measures in the West Bank, which are being carried out in coordination with the IDF and under the supervision of US security experts.

Officials praised PA President Mahmoud Abbas's forces for employing an "iron-fist" policy against Hamas since the beginning of the military offensive.

The British mastered divide and conquer. The U.S. and Israel practice a cruel game of imitation. The blather says Israel is the Middle East's shining democracy. Yet, it banned two Arab political parties from participating in upcoming elections. Israel brought back live .22 caliber fire to disperse protesters. The same article spoke to Fatah's handling of protesters.

Protesters are banned from expressing solidarity with Hamas by hoisting the movement's flag or chanting slogans in its favor.

The PA has also banned demonstrators from marching toward IDF checkpoints or settlements to avoid friction.

In the past three weeks, dozens of Hamas supporters have either been detained or summoned for investigation by the PA's much-feared Preventive Security Force and General Intelligence Service.

Hamas claims that the PA had already arrested more than 400 of its supporters in the West Bank prior to the IDF offensive in Gaza.

This has America's imprint, General Jones. Quartet Middle East envoy Tony Blair spilled the beans December 8th when he said a secret deal had been reached between Israeli PM Olmert and PA chair Abbas. Pay attention to the kind of democracy America and Israel conspire to build.

Several Palestinian journalists have also been targeted by the PA security forces in recent weeks. In Bethlehem, Hebron and Ramallah, policemen beat a number of Palestinian reporters and photographers who were covering protests against the IDF operation. Other journalists have been receiving threats almost on a daily basis from the PA security forces in the West Bank.

One journalist said he was told by PA security officers that they would break his arms and legs if he dared to report about pro-Hamas demonstrations. Another journalist complained that policemen confiscated his camera and assaulted him while he was covering a demonstration in Bethlehem.

In Ramallah last week, the PA deployed more than 1,000 policemen to stop a relatively small number of demonstrators from identifying with Hamas.

Palestinians said the PA policemen responsible for the massive crackdown received special training in Jordan and the West Bank as part of a security plan engineered by the US.

Shining isn't it? Combine it with Israel's banning of reporters in Gaza and shelling of building housing international media organizations. Israeli Defense officials praised Abbas for his "iron-fist" policy against Hamas since beginning of Cast Lead.

Palestinian on Palestinian violence. Imperial Britain would be proud, especially of U.S. Secretary Condoleezza Rice who said, “There is much that can be done to bring Gaza out of the dark of Hamas’s reign and into the light of the very good governance the Palestinian Authority can bring.” Yes very good, ole Chap!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Founding Fathers Wouldn't Recognize Bush's America

Bush's farewell to the nation was tragically laughable. Our founding fathers wouldn't tamper in nations around the globe. Bush's hubris showed when he said America is the only spreader of freedom. His citation of "free enterprise" got a knee slapping guffaw given the $100 billion in new taxpayer money for Bank of America.

Compassion in the faces of suffering? Tell that to the people of Gaza, the thousand dead and the thousands wounded, many of them women and children.

George W. mentioned Hurricane Katrina but didn't say he scored an "F" on his Lessons Learned report. Who leaves out the hospital with the highest patient death toll? The Carlyle Group and Tenet Health are grateful. Brother Jeb sits on the Tenet board of directors and George W. served on the board of Carlyle affiliate CaterAir in the early 1990's. There's good, evil and buffoonery. Bush himself is a sad combination of the three.

Down Under Says Bush Expected to Pardon Those with Torture Links

Why would a Pentagon official admit torture just days before President Bush's reign of horror expires? It's a set up for pardons. Australia's TheAge reported:

Bush expected to pardon those with torture links
January 16, 2009

US Lawyers battling against torture and other abuses at Guantanamo Bay are braced for George Bush issuing last-minute pardons to protect those in his Administration most closely implicated.

The lawyers' warning came after a senior member of the Bush Administration, Susan Crawford, admitted for the first time that torture had been carried out.

It's hard to pardon without some form of legal dtermination. A confession from the Pentagon might lay the foundation. Bush's "Just Us" Department is sprinting to the finish.

Frances Townsend to Testify before Senate

Frances Townsend will testify before a key Senate committee. Will Senators ask Mrs. Townsend why she omitted the hospital with the highest death toll after Hurricane Katrina? Memorial Medical Center and it's 34 patient deaths warranted not one mention in her 400 page Lessons Learned report.

Memorial is owned by Tenet Health, a for-profit hospital company. They rented a floor to LifeCare, a long term acute care hospital company. LifeCare lost 24 of the facility's 34 patients post landfall. The Carlyle Group purchased LifeCare in early August, weeks before Katrina sideswiped New Orleans.

While George W. Bush insists he wasn't slow in saving people, Memorial patients lingered in hellish toxic soup for up to five days. Fran Townsend, Homeland Security Adviser, flew to Saudi Arabia rather than help manage the disaster.

Will Senators ask Fran if she omitted Memorial to help the President's corporate friends? George W. served on the Board of Carlyle affiliate CaterAir in the early 1990's. Jeb Bush landed a cushy spot on the Tenet Board approximately a year after Fran's paltry investigation and whitewash report. It pays $37,000 a day.

My hopes were dashed when I saw Fran will testify to bolster Attorney General Eric Holder's nomination. That "Just Us" top job has standards? Scarecrow Gonzales didn't have a brain, at least a memory.

The Bush team's incompetence fractal can be seen in Fran's Hurricane Katrina Lessons Learned Report. Congress consistently let Republicans off the hook. They asked for e-mails between Andy Card & Frances Townsend, but they were part of the millions lost in the ether of internets tubes.

Testify Fran, testify! Preferably under oath. We need Senators capable of asking questions that deserve an answer.

Israel Strikes UN Compound, Hospital & Media Center

America's Jewish democratic friend in the Middle East launched mortar shells into Gaza's United Nations compound. An IDF tank shell also struck a Gaza hospital wing. The IDF hit a media building housing several media outlets, including Reuters, Al Arabiya and the BBC.

This comes after Israel prohibited two Arab parties from the upcoming election and charging journalists for covering the conflict from inside Gaza. Transparency and accountability are lacking for the cluster bombing, white phosphorous shelling, DIME bomb dropping Israelis. Transparency and accountability happen to be Barack Obama's performance strategies. Those and measurement.

Defense Ministry spokesman Peter Lerner said that a total of 1,136 trucks of humanitarian supplies have been transferred to Gazans since the beginning of the IDF operation in the Strip.

With 1.5 million Gazans, that equates to 0.75 thousandth of a truck for each Gazan for a 20 day siege. How much food and water fit into a shipment thousandth? Three quarters of that doesn't sound like much, especially if it has to last three weeks.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Obama to Become Bush Whiskey-palian?

President elect Barack Obama will worship in a private prayer service at St. John's Episcopal Church on Inauguration Day. The Washington Post reported:

St. John's, across Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House, is known as the "Church of the Presidents." Since James Madison, every president has worshiped there at some point during his tenure in the Oval Office. The church has kneelers embroidered in tribute to each president, and Pew 54 is traditionally assigned to the chief executives when they visit.
Will history pull Barack Obama from his United Church of Christ roots? He could leave the UCC, a church where fifty years ago conservatives and progressives put aside differences for a higher calling, to join a fracturing Episcopal church. Which side of the Anglican divide does St. John's fall? Do they welcome all? Is God still speaking? (Update: President Obama attended Easter services at St. John's)

Pentagon Official Greases Skids for Bush Torture Pardons?

A senior Pentagon official admitted the United States tortured a Guantanamo prisoner, Mohammed al-Qahtani, a Saudi man who allegedly had hoped to become the "20th hijacker." Why reveal this fact just days before Bush slinks out of Washington? Did the official release the story to prepare the public for Bush torture pardons? Stay tuned...

Gaza Destruction Phase Slowing?

Israel indicated an interest in a cease fire, while the U.S. hinted at the real plan, installing the Palestinian Authority-Fatah as the power in Gaza. The rush will be on for a West funded Fatah to rebuild Gaza. Iran beat world powers to the punch in helping Southern Lebanon recover from Israel's 2006 razing.

Will Quartet Middle East envoy Tony Blair soon enact British pomp and circumstance over the secret agreement between PA Chair Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli PM Ehud Olmert? Who ends up with Gaza's offshore gas fields?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Performance Expert & Treasury Chief Can't Calculate Taxes

It's a sad day when President Elect Barack Obama's expert money man can't calculate his self employment taxes, at least not without a $42,702 multi-year error. Timothy Geithner omitted Medicare and Social Security taxes to the tune of $34,000 from 2001 to 2003. The rest was interest.

But Tim paid up. The first chunk, $16,732 came in 2006. He ponied up the remaining $25,970 just days before Obama announced his nomination.

Geithner isn't alone. Obama's performance expert, Nancy Killefer failed to live up to IRS standards. Her failure to pay taxes on household workers resulted in the District of Columbia placing a $946.69 tax lien on her home in 2005. How many performance experts let things go until they reach the tax lien stage? What happened to Nancy's management mojo, accountability, transparency and incentive pay?

"Olmert Lackey" Bush Flails to the Finish

According to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, he summoned President Bush from the podium during a Philadelphia speech. "Beckon call" George W. learned he needed to stop the United Nations resolution on Israel's pummeling of Gaza. Bush called Condi Rice, telling her not to vote for the resolution, the one she worked so hard to create and shape.

The State Department tried to contradict Ehud Olmert's version of events. Here's their rationalization:

After the vote, Rice said that the United States fully supported the resolution but abstained because it "thought it important to see the outcomes of the Egyptian mediation," referring to an Egyptian-French initiative aimed at achieving a cease-fire.

Huh? That's like saying, "I didn't vote for the President because I wanted to see who's nominated in 2012." Olmert crafted U.S. foreign policy. He's rather proud of it.

The public owes George W. Bush a huge thank you. On the political stage, Bush bumbled into the blue curtain, the one behind the play offered for public consumption. Behind the fear, scarcity and bootstrap drama sit big money boys and heavy handed power heads. They trade money, influence and arms. Every now and then they need more. An itchy trigger finger develops and blam! Innocents are hurt. The U.S. calls them collateral damage. The world shudders.

Hillary Clinton Brushes Legitimate Palestinian Aspirations

The Senate hearings on Hillary Clinton's service as Secretary of State looked more like a backslapping club. Questions on the Gaza conflict, currently in Day 18, were few and far between. Mrs. Clinton addressed the situation in her opening remarks. Haaretz reported:

As we focus on Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan, we must also actively pursue a strategy of smart power in the Middle East that addresses the security needs of Israel and the legitimate political and economic aspirations of the Palestinians," Clinton said in prepared remarks.

Smart power? The same smart power that got Hamas elected to numerous positions in democratic elections? The smart power that had the U.S. train and equip Fatah thugs as Palestinian security forces, extorting Gazans? Hamas threw them out in a violent civil war.

Hillary Clinton and General James L. Jones received an update on Israel-Gaza in early December, at least Tony Blair said he briefed the pair. Did that include the secret agreement between Abbas and Olmert, also leaked by Mr. Blair?

Here's the smart power translation:
Hamas illegitimate
Fatah legitimate
What about the 1.5 million Gazans, now traumatized by nearly three weeks of war. That's on top of a two year siege? Why are so many innocents pawns in the games world leaders play?

Israel's other security need relates to Iran. The Jewish state repeatedly said it will not stand for a nuclear armed Iran. Hillary repeated same in her opening remarks.

She said the United States must pursue a foreign policy that "effectively challenges Iran to end its nuclear weapons program and sponsorship of terror and persuades both Iran and Syria to abandon their dangerous behavior and become constructive regional actors."

"No option is off the table," she told the confirmation hearing as top U.S. diplomat. "But we will pursue a new, different approach," she added. "What we have tried has not worked."

If House Foreign Affairs Chair Howard Berman is prescient, it will involve a 3 month negotiation with the demand of Iran ceasing nuclear enrichment. President elect Obama promised a swift negotiation with Iran on ABC's This Week. When it fails, Israel's security must be assured. the world knows the favored method. Bombs away!

President Elect Obama Meets with Mexico's Calderon

Didn't Barack Obama say there's only one President at a time when it comes to foreign affairs? He burst that bubble by meeting with Mexican President Felipe Calderon.

Day 18 of the Gaza razing produces more civilian deaths, already 900 with thousands more injured. A December 12th Chicago Tribune story may shed some light on President elect Obama's relative silence:

Barack Obama: The first Jewish president?

Chicago circle nurtured him all the way to the top

"If Clinton was our first black president, then Barack Obama is our first Jewish president," says Abner Mikva, the Chicago Democratic Party stalwart and former Clinton White House counsel, who was among the first to spot the potential of the skinny young law school graduate with the odd name.

"I use a Yiddish expression, yiddishe neshuma, to describe him," explains Mikva. "It means a Jewish soul. It's an expression my mother used. It means a sensitive, sympathetic personality, someone who understands where you are coming from."

Obama, of course, is a Christian
.... Certainly, Obama is comfortable with Jews, especially Jews from Chicago. Axelrod will remain at his side as senior adviser, and Rep. Rahm Emanuel will be White House chief of staff.

Meets with Mexico, won't weigh in on Gaza?

Monday, January 12, 2009

Blomert Monster Razes Gaza

The Jerusalem Post reported on a speech by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, half of the Blomert monster. President George W. Bush is the other half.

Speaking in Ashkelon, Olmert took pride in demonstrating his close relations with US President George W. Bush and his great support for Israel when he recounted how he urged the US president to intervene.

"Early Friday morning [Israel time], [we knew that] the secretary of state was considering bringing the cease-fire resolution to a UNSC vote and we didn't want her to vote for it. Suddenly, within ten minutes it became clear that, the vote was going ahead.

"I [called the White House and] said, 'Get President Bush on the phone.' They tried, and told me he was in the middle of a lecture in Philadelphia. I said, 'I'm not interested, I need to speak to him now.' He got down from the podium, went out and took the phone call. I told him that the US cannot possibly vote in favor of this resolution. He immediately called the secretary of state and told her not to vote for it. She was left quite embarrassed."

This is why I monitor Israeli newspapers. What happens in Israel, frequently manifests in America . It normally takes longer than a phone call to a lackey President.

Israel's Gaza Operation & Bush's Two State Solution

In his final news conference President Bush said he believes a two state solution will be achieved. A month earlier Quartet Middle East envoy Tony Blair leaked a deal had been reached between Palestinian Authority Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Hamas stood as a major barrier to implementation.

In the conflict's 17th day, ground forces called in a series of air strikes after troops pushed into a heavily populated area of Gaza City. Prior news reports indicated Israel's use of cluster bombs and white phosphorous, heinous weapons that inflict harm and death on innocent civilians.

Israel says it has the humanitarian end covered, a patently laughable claim for a nation keeping 1.5 million people under siege in an active war zone. But 165 truckloads of aid entered Gaza on Day 17. That's 0.00011 of a truckload for each Gazan. It sounds like a pittance.

To date 900 Palestinians were killed and thousands wounded, 13 Israelis were killed. What can stop the carnage? The NY Times reported:

Tony Blair, former British prime minister and now an international envoy to the Palestinians, said in an interview that “the only way this is going to stop is if there is a genuine plan to end the smuggling into Gaza and a genuine plan to open the crossings.”

Can I introduce you to my friend Mahmoud Abbas? He has a U.S. trained security team ready to do the job. Of course, they'll have Israeli backing.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Memo Announcing Obama's Middle East Neocon

A think tank sponsored by the Israeli lobby passed the word on their boy's appointment. The Washington Institute for Near East Policy proudly announced Dennis Ross will serve as Special Adviser to President Barack Obama. His focus is the Middle East and Iran. The memo stated:

In that seventh-floor job, designed especially for him, Ambassador Ross will be the secretary’s top advisor on a wide range of Middle East issues,from the Arab-Israeli peace process to Iran.

How many neocon's get a job designed especially for them, especially in an administration that promised to divorce America from its disastrous foreign policy? And it covers areas with the greatest potential for violence. I expressly voted against Bush III.

Now change means No Change from W.