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Defending Barbara Bush

This "letter" is accompanied by a picture--in color--of Barbara Bush! Surely this is groundbreaking--colored pictures in the letters section.

Why would these signers keep the issue of Barbara Bush giving gifts-with-familial-strings alive by writing this foolish letter? The judgment used in penning this letter is just as poor as the judgment used in presenting the gift-with-strings to the a Houston Middle School. Is this letter as nuts as the one Bush wrote? You decide. And it's worthwhile reading a Houston teachers's account of the gift.

Why would James A. Baker III, who qualifies for the sobriquet 'statesman' in many people's playbooks ( Chief of Staff in President Ronald Reagan's first administration, United States Secretary of the Treasury from 1985 to 1988 in the second Reagan administration, and Secretary of State in the administration of President George H. W. Bush), put his name to such dribble? Oh, by the way, Baker also served as chief legal advisor for George W. Bush during the 2000 election campaign and oversaw the Florida recount. He was instrumental in getting the Supreme Court to intervene in the Florida vote recount.

Here is a little context for Mosbacher stepping up to sign the letter. Mosbacher heads Mosbacher Energy Co. Governor George W. Bush named Catherine Clark Mosbacher as the Chair of the Board of the Texas Department of Protective and Regulatory Services. Robert Mosbacher Sr., was Bush senior's chief fund raiser in 1992 and was named his Secretary of Commerce. Mosbacher Jr. headed the Bush campaign in Texas (Victory '92). This is just for starters.

First AP stories announcing Ken Lay's death listed a quote about his innocence from "close friend" Willie Alexander, president of W. J. Alexander and Associates, a full-service employee benefits consulting and insurance brokerage firm. He is past chair of the Greater Houston Partnership Education and Member Services Committees.The Greater Houston Partnership is the primary advocate of Houston�s business community.

Jack S. Blanton Sr. is president of the Eddy Refining Company, a family oil company. He has served as director for the Southwestern Bell Corporation, the Ashland Oil Company, Texas Commerce Bancshares, Baker Hughes Inc., and Burlington Northern Inc. He is one of the Trustees of the George Bush Library Foundation, as are Baker, Mosbacher, Neil and Jeb, half a dozen other Bushes, and Arnold.

Jim McIngvale (also known as 'Mattress Mac') is a Houston businessman and owner of Gallery Furniture, one of the largest retail stores in America. He is well known for his animated television advertising spots, which end with his yelling, in resounding cheer, "SAVE YOU MONEY!". According to an online puff piece: "He supplies free meals for his employees (breakfast, lunch and dinner), but doesn�t allow sitting down to eat it. Employees must eat on the run while they are working." Jim Mcingvale is pictured in the stands with Barbara and George Bush at the 2004 Masters Cup Championships. McIngvale was tournament chairman.

Drayton McLane Jr. is chairman of McLane Group, L.P., and chairman and CEO of the Houston Astros Baseball Club, as well as a director of the [George] Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A & M University, In 1990, McLane Company merged with Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., and McLane. Jr., accepted the position of vice chairman of Wal-Mart. He resigned his positions as chairman of McLane Company and vice chairman of Wal-Mart in 1994. McLane Group�s latest venture is McLane Advanced Technologies (MAT) which combines Drayton�s family history and experience with a conglomerate of professionals from military and commercial backgrounds. MAT was devised to bring a fresh commercial approach to the Department of Defense sector by assisting in solving logistics needs for current world situations. In April of 2004, MAT was awarded a multi-million dollar contract to modernize three of the Army's logistics systems.

Bob McNair is the founder, president and CEO of the Houston Texans and a very big GOP donor.

David Underwood is a Texas oilman, noted in the Andover Bulletin for giving $10 million to the school. His many philanthropic efforts in Houston were listed.

These are the people who declare Barbara Bush a national treasure.

Barbara Bush, of course, isn't even the real issue here. The real issue is how schools acquire instructional materials--what processes of evaluation they employ before putting such materials in classrooms and libraries. It looks like the sole criterion in the case of Barbara Bush's gift of her son's software was that it was a gift from her. Houston educationists seemed to apply a sort of Don't look a gift horse in the mouth policy of acceptance.

Will Houston public schools readily accept --and use--the gift of curriculum materials produced by the following groups (all of whom have material for free or for purchase)?

  • Center for Civic Education
  • Family Pride Coalition
  • Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
  • Growers of Washington State Apples
  • Heritage Foundation
  • The Jesse Helms Center Free Enterprise Leadership Council
  • National Labor Committee
  • The National Rifle Association
  • Planned Parenthood
  • Southern Poverty Law Center
  • Wisconsin Dairy Council

  • And so on. These not-for-profit organizations reflect a diversity of viewpoint and purpose. Just think of all the commercial products that could be offered to a school by someone with a heavy purse. Do schools just accept all donations willy-nilly?

    Defending Barbara Bush

    There are few people whom most Houstonians and Americans admire more than Barbara Bush. As first lady, she set the gold standard with her down-to-earth style and selfless efforts to promote family literacy � a cause she continues to champion actively into her so-called "retirement." As a fellow Houstonian, she is an exemplary neighbor, always eager to roll up her sleeves to support worthwhile community projects.

    With that in mind, we read with great sorrow as the Chronicle assaulted Bush in an Aug. 14 news item and again in its Aug. 15 editorial "Neil's Deal." On Aug. 14, the Chronicle insinuated that Barbara Bush and the Houston Independent School District's board members were involved in a "pay off" over a recently awarded contract to Ignite!, an education software company run by Neil Bush. We are disappointed by such an unwarranted intimation. Perhaps this was just an unfortunate choice of words. But equally unfortunate is the fact that the reporter never called the Bush office seeking Mrs. Bush's perspective.

    Then, the Aug. 15 editorial stated, "Barbara Bush violated district policy when she used her visit to Fleming Middle School last spring to promote the Ignite! program." Again, no one from the Chronicle contacted Mrs. Bush so she could set the record straight.

    How could Mrs. Bush violate HISD policy when she neither organized the event nor was capable of authorizing it? To the contrary, she was invited to Fleming because people wanted to say "thank you."

    It turns out that Mrs. Bush made a personal $25,000 donation to HISD enabling schools such as Fleming to receive Ignite's education products. This was one of two personal gifts Mrs. Bush made last fall to help the victims of hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

    Such philanthropic efforts are a well-established practice with Barbara Bush. Throughout a lifetime dedicated to serving others, she has visited thousands of schools and, since 1989, raised nearly $40 million to help fight illiteracy among our nation's neediest families.

    Today, in fact, the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy is in the process of giving $1 million in new money to HISD and the Alief school district to help them assimilate thousands of hurricane evacuees into our region. This past spring, only 46 percent of the Katrina/Rita third-grade evacuees in HISD and an even more dismal 38 percent of fifth-grade evacuees passed the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills English test. Together with the Houston Katrina/Rita fund, President and Mrs. Bush are leading the effort to get these kids the intensive tutoring they need to bring their reading and writing skills up to grade level.

    At a minimum, every Houstonian � even a former first lady � deserves the common courtesy of a phone call or an e-mail from our city's only daily newspaper as it develops news and editorial materials. That the Chronicle twice failed to adhere to this basic protocol raises serious questions.

    That it could unfairly ascribe to Barbara Bush the motives and actions it did raises even more.

    To be clear, Neil Bush and other Ignite! representatives have addressed contentious points made by the Chronicle related to their company. Our sole purpose here is to object to the Chronicle's unfair treatment of Mrs. Bush.

    She is a national treasure, and we believe with all our heart that our city and our nation have been fortunate indeed to have her walk among us.









    — multiple authors
    Houston Chronicle




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