Friday, March 17, 2006

The Incompetence, The Corruption, The Cronyism: March 17, 2006 edition

Wonder why the number one word Americans associate with George W. Bush is 'incompetent'? Here's why:

The Incompetence:

Security? Bushco don't give no stinkin' security.

TSA is a joke. Airport security is a joke. Have you been to an airport lately? You have to take your shoes off still (so stupid), but watch the screeners chatting with each other, barely paying attention to the passengers passing through.

Airline screeners fail government bomb tests
21 airports nationwide don’t detect bomb-making materials

WASHINGTON - Imagine an explosion strong enough to blow a car's trunk apart, caused by a bomb inside a passenger plane. Government sources tell NBC News that federal investigators recently were able to carry materials needed to make a similar homemade bomb through security screening at 21 airports.

In all 21 airports tested, no machine, no swab, no screener anywhere stopped the bomb materials from getting through. Even when investigators deliberately triggered extra screening of bags, no one discovered the materials.

NBC News briefed former New Jersey Gov. Tom Kean, chairman of the 9/11 commission, on the results.

"I'm appalled," he said. "I'm dismayed and, yes, to a degree, it does surprise me. Because I thought the Department of Homeland Security was making some progress on this, and evidently they're not."


NBC News asked a bomb technician to gather the same materials and assemble an explosive device to determine its power. The materials for the bomb that exploded a car's trunk fit in the palm of one hand. NBC News showed the results to Leo West, a former FBI bomb expert.

"Potentially, an explosion of that type could lead to the destruction of the aircraft," said West.

Port security? Not on the Republican agenda:

ThinkProgress: Right-Wing Blocks Funding For Port Security, Disaster Preparedness

Moments ago, the House of Representatives narrowly defeated an amendment proposed by Rep. Martin Sabo (D-MN) that would have provided $1.25 billion in desperately needed funding for port security and disaster preparedness. The Sabo amendment included:

– $300 million to enable U.S. customs agents to inspect high-risk containers at all 140 overseas ports that ship directly to the United States. Current funding only allows U.S. customs agents to operate at 43 of these ports.

– $400 million to place radiation monitors at all U.S. ports of entry. Currently, less than half of U.S. ports have radiation monitors.

– $300 million to provide backup emergency communications equipment for the Gulf Coast.

Meanwhile, the Bush budget – which most of the members who voted against this bill will likely support – contains an increase of $1.7 billion for missile defense, a program that doesn’t even work.

The Corruption:

Idaho Senator Mike Crapo (very appropriate name) raised twice as much money from the U.S. Virgin Islands as he did from residents of Idaho last year. Can you say, "Vote for Sale"?

Crapo donations questioned

Lobbyists for the islands are trying to reduce the number of days a person must remain on the islands to be considered a resident, an issue that could have tax benefits.

Currently, under a 2004 act of Congress, individuals must spend at least half the year in the Virgin Islands to be considered a resident for tax purposes. Lobbyists would like to see that reduced to an average of 122 days per year over a three-year period.

Crapo, a member of the Senate Finance Committee, is looking into the issue.

"He's very much involved in the philosophy states should be able to determine states' business," Crapo spokeswoman Susan Wheeler told the Idaho State Journal. "And in the same vein, territories should be able to determine the tax benefits that bolster business and the economy."

And then there's recently retired General Richard Myers, who has sold his corrupt soul to Northrup Grumman:

ThinkProgress: As The Revolving Door Turns: Former Top U.S. General Cashes In With Defense Contractor

Less than 6 months ago Gen. Richard B. Myers retired as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the highest ranking military officer in the country. He’s quickly found alternative employment. From the Chicago Tribune’s The Swamp:

Northrop Grumman, one of the nation’s largest and best-known defense firms, announced Wednesday that Myers, an Air Force veteran and former fighter pilot, has joined its board of directors.

As one of 11 “non-employee” directors, Myers will earn $200,000 a year, according to a company spokesman. Half of that sum is paid to the company’s 12 directors in stock.

In exchange for his 200K, Myers will have to attend “eight scheduled board meetings this year, two of which are conducted by phone.

Billions of taxpayer dollars are wasted each year on unnecessary weapons systems. Meanwhile, the defense industry rewards top military brass for looking the other way.

The Cronyism:

Bush nominates fellow mountain biker, Idaho Gov. Dirk Kempthorne, to replace Gale Norton as Interior Secretary. He shares her anti-environmental views:

Kempthorne Picked for Interior
Idaho Governor Hailed by Bush, Assailed by Environmentalists

Kempthorne has been a favorite in the Bush White House for years and was considered three years ago as the likely choice for administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. He may have cemented his relationship with the president last summer when he and Bush went biking through Idaho trails together. Bush recalled that day fondly yesterday and noted that Kempthorne and his wife, Patricia, were married during a sunrise ceremony atop Idaho's Moscow Mountain.

Slate magazine, August 5, 2003 (via Suburban Guerilla):

During six years in the Senate in the 1990s, Kempthorne scored a "0" on the League of Conservation Voters' legislative scorecards every year except 1993, when Kempthorne scored 6 percent on the basis of one little-remembered vote against funding a rocket booster for the space program that environmentalists judged harmful to the environment. Knight Ridder's Seth Borenstein reported June 23 that in the two years after Kempthorne became governor of Idaho, the state increased toxic emissions by 2 percent—this during a period when the national average declined by 9 percent. The chief of staff for Idaho's Department of Environmental Quality told Borenstein that environmental inspections were at "a bare-bones minimum" aimed only at staying in compliance with a state court order.

And then there's the 28-year-old travel arranger (Travel arranger? Does that mean he was a driver?), appointed executive director of the Homeland Security Advisory Committees.

ThinkProgress: Inexperienced 28-Year-Old Bush Staffer Appointed to Critical Homeland Security Post

Hoelscher has no management experience, a review of his professional credentials shows. He came to government in 2001 as a low-level White House staffer, arranging presidential travel, according to news reports. He earned $30,000 a year, salary documents show.

In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican.
H. L. Mencken

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