|The Nossiter Net
The net that shall enmesh them all
Edited, Written, and Published by Josh Nossiter
Monday, October 9th, 2006
|The Nossiter Net is cast to snare some of the riper rascalities of the day. Comments? email@example.com|
|Joke of the moment, courtesy of NPR: How do you separate the men from the boys in Congress? Hold a mid-term election. But covering up the predations of middle-aged pederasts isn’t the worst thing the GOP has done to the country lately. The Foley follies may dominate the news, but the damage done to a handful of teens by the Republican Svidrigailov pales in comparison to what his party is doing to the other three hundred million of us. That missing weapon of mass destruction Mr. Bush has been looking for in Iraq? It was no further than the nearest mirror.
Over at the Bush Interior Department, they lost ten billion dollars worth of lease payments from oil companies pumping publicly owned petroleum. Or rather, the lease payments simply aren’t being collected. The department explains it doesn’t have the “bargaining power to recoup” the money.1 Furthermore, department employees were simply too busy to worry about lost billions, preferring to spend their time with online porn, shopping, and gambling. The department’s own Inspector General told the New York Times that “Simply stated, short of a crime, anything goes at the highest levels of the Department of the Interior.” This is the government agency charged with managing 20% of the nation’s acreage.
Had they been properly collected, some of those billions might have gone to the administration’s foreign aid program. U.S. foreign aid does everything from build schools to distribute food in impoverished lands, but Mr. Bush has added a new wrinkle. Increasingly, reports the Boston Globe,2 American largesse is accompanied by exhortations to get down on your knees and pray. Federal money is being poured into the coffers of religious groups, who relay it to the foreign needy only after the proper thanks are offered to the all-highest. Over 98% of these groups, says the Globe, are Christian, ensuring that those benighted foreigners get to hear all about Mr. Bush’s favorite philosopher. Even a compliant Congress found the plan too distasteful to enact, so, as Mr. Bush boasted to a convention of Christian organizations in 2004, he did it himself via an executive order.
An audit of the Education Department’s Reading First program uncovered what the LA Times calls “conflicts of interest and willful mismanagement… review panels stacked with people who shared the director's views, and in which only favored publishers of reading curricula could get money.”3 Referring to a vendor he disfavored, the former director of Reading First instructed his staff to “beat the shit out of them” to discourage similarly unwelcome firms from benefiting from the $5 billion program.
“What is our children learning?” Mr. Bush famously asked. If not to read, then maybe how to get ahead in business by milking connections. Case in point is the president’s own brother Neil, who is making millions from the administration’s No Child Left Behind Act. Business Week calls it “No Bush Left Behind.”4 Neil’s educational software company Ignite! Inc. sells “$3,800 purple plug-and-play computer/projectors” to schools across the land, profiting handsomely on the sale of the devices. The presidential brother acknowledges that his family ties might have helped open doors for him. His mum, former first lady Barbara Bush, it might be recalled, insisted that her donation to hurricane Katrina victims be used to buy Neil’s products.
The response to hurricane Katrina was the subject of a recent address to the Commonwealth Club of San Francisco by journalism professor and commentator Marvin Olasky. Olasky, a Bush guru, was the inventor of the phrase “compassionate conservatism.” The point of Olasky’s remarks: FEMA and the federal government as a whole failed utterly in the wake of Katrina, while religious groups and Wal Mart performed superbly.
The definition of chutzpah used be the man who kills both his parents and then begs for mercy on account of being an orphan. Foley, who headed a House caucus on protecting children from predators, played a variation on that theme. As for Olasky, he forget to mention the fact that he encouraged his tutee, President Bush, to systematically destroy FEMA, also the departments of Interior, Education, and every other agency of government. Olasky’s neglect of this point in a denunciation of governmental response to catastrophe puts him at least in the Foley class. When President Bush said that “the enemy never stops trying to find new ways to hurt us, and neither do we,” who knew he was just speaking plain truth?
©Joshua C. Nossiter, 2006
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