A billion here, a billion there

What is perhaps most shocking about the latest report of Bush Administration malfeasance is how, well, unshocking it is. It fact, it all seems so terribly predictable.

(AP) Katrina fraud likely to balloon past $1B

The tally for Hurricane Katrina waste could top $2 billion next year because half of the lucrative government contracts valued at $500,000 or greater for cleanup work are being awarded without little competition.

Federal investigators have already determined the Bush administration squandered $1 billion on fraudulent disaster aid to individuals after the 2005 storm. Now they are shifting their attention to the multimillion dollar contracts to politically connected firms that critics have long said are a prime area for abuse.

In January, investigators will release the first of several audits examining more than $12 billion in Katrina contracts. The charges range from political favoritism to limited opportunities for small and minority-owned firms, which initially got only 1.5 percent of the total work.

“Based on their track record, it wouldn’t surprise me if we saw another billion more in waste,” said Clark Kent Ervin, the Homeland Security Department’s inspector general from 2003-2004. “I don’t think sufficient progress has been made.”

This is going to get ugly — really ugly. Bush & Co. lived in a protective cocoon for most of the last six years, all but untouchable. In many ways, the federal government resembled an old-fashioned company town, where “the company,” in this case Bush and the GOP, controlled everything, including the police.

That kind of power can easily lead to reckless excess and these guys broke all the records.

This most recent case has the look of a very specific kind of corruption, one grounded in a distorted view of conservative political principles. Contrary to conventional wisdom, these aren’t government haters. They love government; they simply detest efforts to use it to help any but the wealthy and privileged.

So for Bush and his fellow travelers, spending billions of dollars to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina, while politically necessary, was in the end just so much hooey. So if they had to throw all that perfectly good money down a black hole of compassion, they might just as well make certain that a good portion of it went to a more worthwhile purpose — enriching their campaign supporters.

Of course, Bush & Co’s graft has hardly been limited to do-gooder programs. They’ve done the exact same thing in Iraq, a government enterprise they wholeheartedly endorse. So, on second thought, perhaps the corruption isn’t tied to their political beliefs at all — maybe they’re just a bunch of crooks.

Either way, they’ve had a hell of a run. But the protective cocoon is gone now. Democrats control Congress and the oversight investigations are gearing up. We seem certain to learn some incredibly damning things about Bush & Co. I wonder if any of it will still have the power to surprise us.

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5 Responses to “A billion here, a billion there”

  1. Larkrise Says:

    It will not surprise me. The Bush Miscreants make the Mafia look like choir boys. If there is any small semblance of honest government left, Bush, Inc. should be marched out of Washington, D.C. in handcuffs to the nearest maximum security federal prison. Sadly, I am unable to believe that small semblance is left. If there is one honest man/woman left in D.C., one person who has not given in to the twin temptations of money and power, will that person please stand up? A weary, cynical public would like to shake your hand. Our future is bleak after 6 yr. of lies, conniving, deception, corruption, arrogance, selfishness beyond comprehension, cronyism,cruelty, divisiveness, and economic mismanagement of gargantuan proportions. But, we still long for that one honest government representative. We still hope that person exists, who is courageous, honest, and has personal integrity. We will praise their compassion, cherish their honesty, and support their courage. Hello…….are you there?

  2. CV Says:

    Actually, Bushs, pere &fils, Cheney, Rumsfeld and (you know the list) have been working on this for decades. There is every evidence needed to file a RICO indictment on this crime family, a fact confirmed by Elizabeth De La Vega. She told me that all we need is a prosecutor.
    It is a large organization, multi generational, wide ranging and really rich. They are deep in the arms and drugs trades, both legal and illegal and some, like Poppy Bush and Rummy have been in since the 50’s and before. (Poppy Bush’s law making big drug importers, “Kingpins”, elligible for the death penalty, I thought, was pretty ballsy since he’s been so instrumental in the availability of Heroin, Coke and Crack on American streets)
    They don’t care how many people they kill and maim as long as they come out winners (and richer yet). Both Georges have killed more Iraqis than Saddam did, between them, they will surpass Pol Pot in total kills.
    And the Money!
    Halliburton has sucked up what? $60 billion? Of which, well over a Billion was overcharges and charges for goods and services that were not delivered. And somehow, they can’t account for a couple of billion more, however their share price and quarterly reports show massive profits. Hmmm.
    And that lack of bookeeping is all through this misAdministration.
    Bremer “lost” $8Billion out of his office in Bagdhad! and for that, he got a Presidential medal of freedom, Heckovajob Jerry!
    All over this criminal regime, there are instances of money being alocated and dispensed but never getting to the intended recipients or solving the target problems. Katrina is the most blatant example, but far from the only one. There has been no congressional follow-up to prevent whatever the diversion is. Hopefully, the Democratic “Leadership” will unleash John Conyers and Henry Waxman, turn loose the bulldogs.
    Taken individually, each of Bush/Cheney&co’s fiascos could be simple incompetance or just bad luck, taken together, from the standpoint of investigating organized crime, the pattern emerges. If you are one of the allies of Bush/Cheney, you are golden. Contracts will flow in, accompanied by wheelbarrow loads of cash and very little actual product has to go out.
    One of my faves, the Office of Faith-Based Initiatives distributed $250 000 000 to conservative black preachers to secure their support in elections (of course, some of those recipients did what they said they would and used the money for social services, but many did not).
    Always, with these guys, it’s hard to find out what is really happening. Everything that can be classified, is and even stuff that was published in newspapers and argued from the WhiteHouse Press room podium is being retroactively classified, snapping closed the bag, now that the cat is out. What they DO say, can usually be proven false within days (sometimes minutes). It’s almost Bizzaro World. Clear Skies would increase air pollution, Healthy Forests would open National forests and wildlife preserves for extractive industry…
    Because we have two years left of this gang of Thugs and the Senate is so closely divided, there is no likelyhood of success in Impeaching Bush and Cheney. It takes at least a year to get though the House and takes up all of the oxygen on Capitol Hill. That is why, I believe, Nancy Pelosi made the statement about it being off the table. What we need are investigations into where the money went and how it was alocated. Dig out the Cronies and show their ties to the Bushies. And keep digging. Eventually the weight of evidence will bring the public up to such a boil that we may even be able to drive the bas+ards out of office before 01-20-09! (Bush and Cheney both out means Pelosi would become our first Woman President)
    Many of the worst of this gang should stand trial on warcrimes violations, if not here in the US, then at the Hague. Most of the rest can be prosecuted for domestic pillage. If we don’t follow-up with prosecution, they will slink away, back under their rocks and come back in ten years to fcuk US again (remember, some of these guys were Nixon’s buddies that felt he was unfairly hounded out of office. If he had been prosecuted and convicted, they wouldn’t have held him up as their cause-celeb. It’s said that the crucifiction of Clinton was revenge for Nixon). This time we must drive a stake through the heart of this evil gang. No Pardons!
    (personally, I’d like to see them sentenced to Camp Xray permanently, Confined Banishment, the last ones left in Guantanamo when we close the base and turn it over to Cuba)

  3. alwayshope Says:

    Perhaps they don’t care and never did care about the death and destruction in their wake. Destruction makes them and their cronies lots of money. 9/11, anthrax, Afghanistan, Iraq have also served to give them mind-boggling power and secrecy. They have passed legislation to enrich their contibutors and themselves.
    They have used the timid press and the misinformed, frightened and largely apathetic public as cover for an agenda we were not allowed to know. It’s always easy to steal from people when they’re distracted or confused so they kept us that way. Maybe they never had a plan because they get richer and more powerful as the chaos grows. I don’t think they ever thought of the military as anything but a hammer and the rest of the world as two-penny nails. It’s extremely upsetting to believe that the leadership of your country does not care if it wastes the lives of your children and has no desire to fix anything it has broken. But since nothing is surprising any more, it wouldn’t be a shock to learn that Bush and Cheney and the rest never did care about anything but the money and the oil and the chance to rule this country in secrecy and without opposition.
    But what made them think we wouldn’t care? Why did they have the audacity to steal our sons and daughters and our money and our honor right in front of us? Most of the media should hang their heads in shame for their complicity over the last 6 years, but free people do find a way to learn the truth. When the investigations begin I think the media will claim the public is tired of corrupt officials and presidential lies and therefore we should just move on and forget about it. We have too many urgent issues, the wars, the poor, immigration, etc. to resolve and any distraction such as holding criminals accountable will be deadly. Of course, this administration won’t cooperate with subpoenas or hearings anyway, so move one…….nothin to see here.
    Larkrise, I am also hoping for that man or woman of integrity to make us proud. The press will treat Waxman, Conyers and Feingold as nutty extemists but maybe they’ll be joined by others who are as sick of this game of pretend governing as we are.
    The bright side is that maybe now the GOP will be forced to care about minimum wage workers, Katrina victims, education, healthcare and the environment in order to appease a public and a Congress ready to jail their sorry asses.
    The Democrats have a great opportunity here so we need to yell so loud that they will have ignore the money coming in from big oil and drugs and K street. The corruption won’t stop unless we stop it. I wish we could get some justice in the next 2 years but I fear the legal challenges and delays will be timed to benefit our moron-in-chief and his darkside cronies.
    Still, there will be interesting leaks and retirements and plenty of the blame game to be played in the coming 2 years. The Decider will sink further in the people’s esteem as the lies become predictable and reality undeniable. I’m hoping the Dems come through and I would be absolutely, purely delighted if Bush and Cheney are held accountable.
    As far as being surprised to learn what they’ve done or what they’ll do to avoid responsibility for what they’ve done, I can’t imagine what it would take to surprise now….and don’t want to try.

  4. Larkrise Says:

    It isn’t “almost Bizarro World”, it IS Bizarro World. That this much corruption and destruction has continued unchecked and unabated for 6 years is horrific. Of course, it hasnt been a mere 6 years. This is just the culmination of backroom politics, K Street lobbyists, special interest contributions to campaigns, 12 yr. of a Republican Congress, more than that of a right-wing Supreme Court, fraudulent elections, and the fat-cat corporations basically running the show. What we have is an Oligarchy, by-of-and for the Rich. The Cayman Islands, Belize and Swiss Banks are filled to overflowing with dirty money. Now that the ‘wannabees” are so deep in debt that they are losing their homes, there is a demand for an accounting. The corporate-controlled media, however, still avoid reporting in depth and on the front page, the sorry truth of the situation. Investigative reporting is limited to a few brave souls like Seymour Hersch. Bizzaro World, Bushworld-it is a land of corruption, cronyism and conniving. These crooks should be tried and convicted for crimes that would fill a book. I won’t hold my breath, however. The poisoned waters run deep. It is a veritable toxic dump in Washington. We will have to deal with the stinking runoff for years.

  5. Again Says:

    The tally for Hurricane Katrina waste could top $2 billion next year because half of the lucrative government contracts

    wow - the most scary thing about that is truly “how, well, unshocking it is”

    we’re used now to live without freedom, guys - how convenient for worthless parasites like Bush, Murdoch or all the other lazy spiders, weaving tangled webs around us until we are no longer able to move - we are, what we always have scorned and pitied: passive underlings, not even able for outrage, the foundation, each aristocracy depends on. We wasted freedom and created a Brave, New World, where democracy is only a word - not even an ideal as in times of the Renaissance, nothing our children will long for and fight for - because we wasted it and so it can’t be of great value…

    we wasted it as we wasted 30 years to stop (or at least slow down) Global Warming

    30 years - and we threw away JFK’s America and the best thing, humankind ever could have: democracy

    that’s more than scary or shocking - that’s tragic, an ancient Greek Tragedy about Chances and Opportunities and the Blindness to not care about

    But the protective cocoon is gone now. Democrats control Congress and the oversight investigations are gearing up. We seem certain to learn some incredibly damning things about Bush & Co. I wonder if any of it will still have the power to surprise us.

    and i wonder if we still are able to take the chance, because if Larkrise is right (Sadly, I am unable to believe that small semblance is left. - Watch the MSM give them yet another free pass. Watch Congress do the same), then the american Aristocracy will not be punished, not forced to learn the meaning of democracy, not forced to pay reparation - and then, democracy will remain just a word


    The Democrats have a great opportunity here so we need to yell so loud that they will have ignore the money coming in from big oil and drugs and K street. The corruption won’t stop unless we stop it.

    yes, exactly - we must use this last chance - we simply must succeed to make those criminals accountable and subject them to harsh punishments and penalties for the abuse of rights and power

    because we have to show our children - that democracy is worth to be defended even against the shiny world of Aristocracy - that we are not this sad bunch of a “misinformed, frightened and largely apathetic public” actually allowing their lifes and futures to be wasted


    If you are one of the allies of Bush/Cheney, you are golden.

    do you know the experiment about the chimp on top of the banana heap, about the impact of concentrated wealth on the social behavior of apes? The alpha male takes the bananas without hesitation, his beta males defend them - and the rest offers sex (females) and/or submission (low level males)

    as if they suddenly had forgotten how to live on their own - soon they all are nothing else than whores doing anything and selling everything just to please the boss to get some bananas without (other) effort

    that’s the “law of the strongest” we are so proud of - the law of the Chimps. He, who jumps the highest and cries first, he who doesn’t care for anybody else than him himself - he is the winner? When did we stop to want to be the “top of all creation” and were satisfied with apes?

    In other primate species, access to resources is usually regulated by social dominance. Dominant males monopolize mating and dominant females get better access to food, sleeping sites, and so on. There is little dominance among human foragers, and access to resources is more egalitarian. (The Puzzle of Human Society by Robert Boyd, Science Vol. 314, p. 1556

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