Molly Ivins: Opportunities for corruption abound following
By Molly Ivins Published 2:15 am PDT Tuesday, September 27, 2005
-- The Big Whew blew over Texas, leaving Port Arthur underwater
and whole lot of stress across the state. It is highly stressful to be in a
car with two adults, three children, the dog and the cat for a 12-to-20 hour
trip from Houston to Austin,
Dallas or San Antonio. It is also stressful to have
two adults, three children, their dog and their cat move into your
1,200-square-foot house with you, especially if your sister-in-law thinks
anyone who criticizes George W. Bush is a tool of Satan.
groups like Alcoholics Anonymous were doing land-office business in Texas this weekend,
while bartenders served up the KatrinaRita. Austin, of course, was
also having a music festival and offering free yoga and aromatherapy sessions
to hurricane refugees. Austin musicians have
adopted New Orleans
musicians en masse: You're practically no one if you haven't got a Neville in
your guest room.
refugees trade tales of heroism and generosity, along with reports of the bad
and the ugly. That's human nature, but there's nothing forgivable about
organized government corruption.
there are no exceptions: The first commandment of governing is Thou Shalt Not Steal the People's Money. Ronald Reagan came
into office in 1980 on the mantra that he would rid the nation of Waste,
Fraud and Abuse. He proceeded to raise the national deficit by $2 trillion
with tax cuts and spending on the military in the face of a collapsing Soviet Union. This led to the peppy military
procurement scandals of the late '80s and early '90s -- the $435 hammer and
the $640 toilet seat.
Gingrich and Co. took power in 1994, they promised many "reforms"
and spent millions of dollars on hearings and investigations -- the endless
prosecution of Henry Cisneros may actually be a stronger case in point than
the impeachment of Bill Clinton. Despite these splendid efforts, they never
could find the Waste, Fraud and Abuse they claimed were the hallmarks of
government. But this Bush administration has given us Waste, Fraud and Abuse
of money in Iraq
is already into the billions, and the lack of accountability is fed by a
Republican Congress that refuses to seriously investigate anything done by
the Republican administration. The sums being overtly wasted are already
staggering, and because there is no accountability, we can expect that
situation not only to continue, but deteriorate.
billions being allocated to clean up after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, you
can already smell the corruption -- fat contracts awarded without competitive
bidding. The New York Times reports, "More than 80 percent of the $1.5
billion in contracts signed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency alone
were awarded without bidding or with limited competition, government records
show, provoking concerns among auditors and government officials about the
potential for favoritism or abuse."
concerns," eh? Good old Times, eternally blah -- why doesn't it ever run
a screaming headline that says, "You're getting ripped off!"
"They are Stealing Your Money to Pay Off Their Political Pals!" The
trouble with journalism in this country is that it's too damn polite.
is rank, nasty business -- corruption, cronyism and competence (the lack
thereof) are the issues here. And as we have so recently and so painfully
been reminded, when government is run by corrupt, incompetent cronies, real
people pay a real price. There is nothing abstract about swollen bodies
floating in flooded streets or dozens of old people dead in nursing homes.
it's just a mercy most of Houston
didn't drown in a giant traffic jam last week. Already, the corporate
vultures are moving in -- contracts are arranged through people like Joe Allbaugh, the former FEMA director who brought in his old
buddy Michael ("Heckuva job, Brownie")
Brown to run the agency.
pattern is not just one rotten agency: The arrest last week of David Safavian, the Bushie who
oversaw contracts for the Office of Management and Budget, ties into a whole
nest of cronyism. Safavian's friend and former
lobbying partner is Jack Abramoff, who in turn is
big buddies with Texas Rep. Tom DeLay.
corporate clout in this administration is mirrored everywhere, with the same
pattern of crony contracts. Allbaugh didn't just
start getting contracts for politically connected firms after Katrina. He's
been in Iraq,
where he has a flourishing lobbying business precisely to help corporations
get government contracts.
Homeland Security is flooding what's left of New Orleans
with mercenaries from the same private security contractors flourishing in Iraq. The
Nation reports companies like DynCorp, Intercon
Security, American Security Group, Blackwater, Wackenhut and an Israeli
company called Instinctive Shooting International are all in New Orleans.
like Blackwater, are under federal contract. Others have been hired by the
wealthy elite, like F. Patrick Quinn III, who brought in private security to
guard his $3 million private estate and his luxury hotels, which are under
consideration for a lucrative federal contract to house FEMA workers."