THE BLOG
08/10/2007 11:14 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

"Is Our Children Learning?" Not by Channeling Baby Einstein

At the 2007 State of the Union address earlier this year, George Bush honored Julie Aigner-Clark, founder of Baby Einstein (a series of infant educational videos). Naturally, Aigner-Clark was seated in the House chamber gallery with Laura Bush. The president, you see, was touting female entrepreneurs who care about our children's education. Whatever.

The L.A. Times reports this week that those programs don"t actually work, and that parents who use them are instead creating baby Homer Simpsons, according to a pediatrics study from the University of Washington in Seattle. Doh!

Note to self: Saudi Royal Prince Alwaleed, nephew of King Abdullah, is known as the "Arabian Warren Buffett." He's the 13th richest person in the world according to Forbes, and owns something like 17 percent of EuroDisney. The Disney company, of course, now owns Baby Einstein, and thus makes money off of every product sold. They didn't respond to questions about this from the Times, but it may help explain Bush's interest.

The president's infamous brother Neil ("Neilsie," as mama Bar calls him) has jumped on the foreign-financed child education gravy train, too. He's started a business called "Ignite! Learning," which, even though its website is short on specifics (it doesn't even mention Neil), he funded by raising $23 million. Documented investors include businessmen from Bush family redoubts United Arab Emirates and Kuwait, crooked Russian billionaire expatriate Boris Berezovsky, and Chinese computer executive Winston Wong. Wong's "Grace Semiconductor" also signed Neil to a five-year consulting contract worth $2 million, even though Neil has no background in the field.

Then again, he didn't have a background in the savings and loan business in the 1980s, either, yet that didn't stop him from becoming a director and building his wealth while overseeing the 1988 collapse of Colorado-based Silverado, costing the taxpayers -- you and me -- $1.3 billion. It was the single biggest S&L failure of that sordid era. With dad as vice president and about to succeed Ronald Reagan, it's said Neil barely escaped a slew of federal indictments.

Last year, the Houston Chronicle reported that "Former first lady Barbara Bush donated an undisclosed amount of money to the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund with specific instructions that the money be spent with an educational software company owned by her son Neil." It's the family way.

W. followed the same path. As chronicled by the Washington Post and others, 20 short years ago his oil businesses were teetering, so family consigliere James Baker arranged for a college buddy to bail out his failures. He then hitched up with a group of investors (including Baker's guy) and purchased the Texas Rangers baseball team.

Well, not exactly "purchased." W. only contributed a dinky 1.8 percent toward ownership but was named "Managing Partner" because the surname was gold in the Lone Star State. His good 'ol boy demeanor (his only stock-in-trade) helped convince the local citizenry of Arlington that they should fund a new stadium with tax dollars. It worked, and the big shots increased his ownership stake as a result, launching the race for governor against incumbent Democrat Ann Richards.

My guess is that brother Neil's "Ignite! Learning" business is about as effective as Baby Einstein, but that he'll nonetheless make a mint on it with all that Middle Eastern and Russian money involved, but who knows?

One thing is certain. With the Bush clan, it's always about personal emolument, above all else. You don't have to be an Einstein to grasp it. Just follow the money, the best technique ever invented for determining motive. This crowd doesn't have a noble-minded bone in their body.

ASIDE: Speaking of not being noble-minded, how is it that the Democrats held a Chicago debate this week sponsored by organized labor -- and Joe Biden didn't have to defend why he alone on that stage of candidates voted for the shameless 2005 bankruptcy bill that the credit card industry craved and whose water he carried as a Delaware senator? I've never filed bankruptcy, but President Clinton was right to veto that bill. Bush signed it, and it has horribly screwed so many rank and file Americans as they lose jobs and health care and homes. Joe's the only one who voted for it among the dems running for president. Shouldn't he have been asked about it by the sole moderator, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann, at a debate specifically dealing with the issues of working men and women? Isn't that question the very definition of "germane?"

The subject never came up.