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President, Murderer, Lecturer, Author

Posted by terres on March 22, 2009

What Can Bush Teach Us?

by Ralph Nader

George W. Bush is hitting the lecture circuit. Represented by the Washington Speakers Bureau, Mr. Bush for a fee of at least $150,000 flew up to Calgary, Canada and spoke to a conservative business audience amidst street protests.

protest-bush-3As protesters outside carried signs urging Bush to be tried as a war criminal, the former president hinted that incarcerating and interrogating suspected terrorists without trial at Guantanamo was the right thing to do. Calgary Herald. Image may be subject to copyright.

He also has signed a book contract with Crown Publishers tentatively titled “Decision Points” about a dozen personal and presidential decisions ranging from giving up booze to choosing Dick Cheney to invading Iraq.

Now that he is becoming a lecturer and an author, why not also be a teacher? The 43rd president has much to teach Americans about how weak their democracy is—rights, institutions, processes and the sovereignty of the people.

His first lecture to students could be how he and Cheney violated, circumvented and trampled our Constitution. It was as if they replaced the opening preamble of “we, the people” with “we, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.”

Early in his Administration, Mr. Bush showed a determination to pick up on King George III and root himself in something called “the inherent powers of the Presidency,” often called the “unitary Presidency.” With that, King George IV was establishing his unilateral kingdom, though instead of invoking his divine right, his mantra was the “war on Terror.”

He became the most recidivist criminal president, the most variously impeachable president on a regular day-to-day basis in American history. Violating repeatedly our Constitution, laws and treaties, Mr. Bush warred, terrorized, tortured, imprisoned without charges, illegally snooped on masses of Americans and set a record for signing statements saying he “the decider” would determine which laws he signed he would obey and when. And that’s just what is public knowledge so far from a very secretive regime.

The ways this outlaw President devastated the rule of law has been well documented in many firsthand accounts of former members of his government in the military, intelligence, and diplomatic service. The lies and deceptions that took our country to war, with immense loss of life and limb, and turned the rights and lives of millions of families upside down have been the material of many books, public hearings and admissions. Even the conservative American Bar Association condemned the Bush White House three times for unconstitutional practices.

Mr. Bush taught us how cowardly the Congress could be in not defending its constitutional authorities and the crucial checks and balances to hold the White House accountable. He taught us the degree of abdication by the major opposition Democratic Party which allowed him and his ilk to do what they did and to leave office on January 20, 2009 without being subjected to impeachment and trial, without even being subjected to a Congressional censure resolution.

He taught us that the courts, with few exceptions, cannot be counted on to defend the constitution from the marauding President—avoiding doing so by excuses that these seizures of power are “political questions.” Sure, Bush going to war without a declaration of war is too political?  Tell that to Jefferson, Madison and other founding fathers who made a big matter out of taking away the war-making authority from any future would-be monarch and decisively repositing it with the Congress.

He taught us how easily you could fool, manipulate, delay or intimidate the mainstream media into becoming a cheerleader for war and a collaborator in covering up what a few intrepid reporters uncovered.

He showed that truth is indeed the first casualty of war and that lies have no consequences for him other than a 70% disapproval rating.

He did tell the truth, however, when he announced to a big business audience in Texas early in his first term that they were “his base.” Acting like a corporation masquerading as a human in the White House, Mr. Bush pursued policies unleashing the greed and control of Wall Street that tanked the economy and destroyed trillions of dollars of the people’s money in an orgy of reckless speculation.

bush-protest1
About 300 protesters greeted Bush with banners in Calgary, and attempted  to hamper his lecture. Photo
submitted by a reader, source unknown. Image may be subject to copyright.

As Jamal Simmons wrote recently, “Unlike the story of King Midas, everything Bush touched turned to coal.”

Mr. Bush threw the gauntlet down to 800,000 American lawyers and unlike the marching Pakistani lawyers, only a handful such as Michael Greco, Ramsay Clark, David Cole and Jonathan Turley took up his challenge. The vast majority of lawyers went about their own business, shrugging off what it means to be “officers of the court.”

Bush, former American Caesar tore the pretense off our democratic pretensions. By not holding him and his top collaborators responsible for violating the constitutional, criminal and civil laws of the land, those persons, entrusted with their observance, took a holiday. These outrageous practices—still unchecked—are becoming institutionalized as illustrated in the several (but not all) ways that President Obama is continuing Bush’s legacy of license.

Democracies when they are eroded must show resiliency to recover and strengthen what was lost by way of freedom and justice. Otherwise the erosions fester and deepen. Who, you might ask, must be the tribunes of such resiliency? You will not find them now in officialdom.

The wise early twentieth century judge, Learned Hand, gave us the compass. He wrote these words: “Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can save it.”

End.

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Posted in Congress, King George III, King Midas, unitary Presidency, war on terror | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Health Business in Uninted States of Sheepland

Posted by terres on May 6, 2008

The Sorry State of Health Care in the United States

By Ralph Nader

This is a tale of pay or die that recurs again and again all over our country and only in our country in the entire western world.

Advised by her physician to go to M.D. Anderson for urgent treatment of her leukemia, Mrs. Kelly was told she had to pay $105,000 up front before being admitted. The hospital declared her limited insurance unacceptable.

Sitting in the business office with seriously advanced cancer, she asked herself – “Are they going to send me home?” “Am I going to die?”

Time out from her torment for a moment. M.D. Anderson started this upfront payment demand in 2005 because of a spike in its bad debt load.

The Journal explains – “The bad debt is driven by a larger number of Americans who are uninsured or who don’t have enough insurance to cover costs if catastrophe strikes. Even among those with adequate insurance, deductibles and co-payments are growing so big that insured patients also have trouble paying hospitals.”

It isn’t as if non-profit hospitals like M.D. Anderson are hurting. Look at this finding in an Ohio State University study: net income per bed at non-profit hospitals tripled to $146,273 in 2005 from $50,669 in 2000. And you also may have noticed the huge pay packages awarded hospital executives.

M.D. Anderson, exempt from taxation, recipient of funds from large government programs and research grants has cash, investments and endowment totaling $1.9 billion, with net income of $310 million last year, the Journal reports.


A twelfth-century Byzantine manuscript of the Hippocratic Oath in the form of a cross dagger.

Hippocratic Oath Modern Version written by Louis Lasagna, former Dean of the Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences of Tufts University, in 1964.

Back to the 52 year old, Lisa Kelly. She and her husband returned with a check for $45,000. After a blood test and biopsy, the hospital oncologist urged admittance quickly. Then the hospital demanded an additional $60,000-$45,000 just for the lab tests and $15,000 for part of the cost of the treatment.

To shorten the story, she received chemotherapy for over a year. Often her appointment was “blocked” until she made another payment.

In a particularly grotesque incident, she was hooked up to a chemotherapy pump, but the nurses were not allowed to change the chemo bag until Mr. Kelly made another payment.

She endured other indignities and overcharges. Reporter Martinez cites $360 for blood tests that insurers pay $20 or less for and up to $120 for saline pouches that cost less than $2 retail.

Imagine anything like Mrs. Kelly’s predicament and pressures occurring in Canada, Belgium, Germany, Italy, France, Switzerland, Holland, England or any other western country. It would never happen.

These countries have universal single payer health insurance. No one dies because they cannot afford health care. In America, 18,000 Americans die each year because they cannot afford health care, according to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences. Many more get sick or become sicker.

None of these countries spend more than 11% of their GDP on healthcare. The U.S. spends over 16% of its GDP on health care and does not cover 47 million people and tens of millions are under covered

In the U.S. the drug companies charge their highest prices in the world, even though we, the taxpayers, subsidized them in large ways. In other countries like Mexico and Canada, they cannot get away with such drug price gouging, with a pay or die ultimatum.

In the U.S., computerized billing fraud and abuse cost over $200 billion last year, according to the GAO arm of Congress. In other counties, single payer prevents such looting.

In other countries, administrative expenses of their single payer system are about a third of what the Aetna’s and other insurers rack up.

In other western countries, medical outcomes for children and adults and paid family leave are far superior to that of the U.S. The World Health Organization ranks the US health care system 37th in the world.

When apologists in Washington hear these statistics, they say “but we have the best medical research centers in the world, like M.D. Anderson.”

Clearly much is wrong with the nature of pricing health care.

Like other hospitals, M.D. Anderson is caught in a macabre spider’s web of cost allocations mixing treatment costs with research budgets, cash reserves, and just plain accounting gimmicks that burden patients. (Documents from Mrs. Kelly’s case are available at http://online.wsj.com today.)

When a friend showed the Journal’s article to a Dutch visitor, the latter blurted in anger – “you are a nation of sheep.” Not a very flattering description of “the land of the free, home of the brave.”

Someday, soon maybe, Americans will finally band together and say “enough already,” we’re going for full Medicare for all- without loopholes for corporate profiteers and purveyors of waste and fraud.

Last month after being in remission, Lisa Kelly’s leukemia has come back.

END.

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Posted in bush, cabal, Congress, corporate profiteering, corporate racketeering, corruption, human rights, medical care, military budget, politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Impeaching Slick & Dick!

Posted by terres on November 8, 2007

Kucinich Presents Articles Impeachment to Congress

Rep. Dennis Kucinich – November 6, 2007 – House of Representatives Video & documents
Kucinich, Presents Articles of Impeachment for Vice President Richard Cheney under the rules of “Privileged Resolution ” in Congress

See videos and documents links here.

Update: The motion to table the impeachment resolution has failed! A motion has been passed, however, that required Kucinich’s resolution go to the House Judiciary Committee “for further study.”

Posted in bush, Cheney, Congress, Impeachment, law, politics | Leave a Comment »