Category Archives: carpetbaggers
The price of this bullshit is utimately paid by the citizens of Jefferson county. From Democracy Now, via Crooks and Liars, we get a nightmare situation that should be considered criminal activity..and was on several levels. From Taibbi’s Rolling Stone article:
If you want to know what life in the Third World is like, just ask Lisa Pack, an administrative assistant who works in the roads and transportation department in Jefferson County, Alabama. Pack got rudely introduced to life in post-crisis America last August, when word came down that she and 1,000 of her fellow public employees would have to take a little unpaid vacation for a while. The county, it turned out, was more than $5 billion in debt — meaning that courthouses, jails and sheriff’s precincts had to be closed so that Wall Street banks could be paid.
It’s a horror story of course, complete with carpetbagging Wall Streeter’s and corrupt officials and businessmen. What took down this county? A new sewer system. From the RS article:
And once the giant shit machine was built and the note on all that fancy construction started to come due, Wall Street came back to the local politicians and doubled down on the scam. They showed up in droves to help the poor, broke citizens of Jefferson County cut their toilet finance charges using a blizzard of incomprehensible swaps and refinance schemes — schemes that only served to postpone the repayment date a year or two while sinking the county deeper into debt. In the end, every time Jefferson County so much as breathed near one of the banks, it got charged millions in fees. There was so much money to be made bilking these dizzy Southerners that banks like JP Morgan spent millions paying middlemen who bribed — yes, that’s right, bribed, criminally bribed — the county commissioners and their buddies just to keep their business. Hell, the money was so good, JP Morgan at one point even paid Goldman Sachs $3 million just to back the fuck off, so they could have the rubes of Jefferson County to fleece all for themselves.
Once you follow that trail and understand what took place in Jefferson County, there’s really no room left for illusions. We live in a gangster state, and our days of laughing at other countries are over. It’s our turn to get laughed at. In Birmingham, lots of people have gone to jail for the crime: More than 20 local officials and businessmen have been convicted of corruption in federal court. Last October, right around the time that Lisa Pack went back to work at reduced hours, Birmingham’s mayor was convicted of fraud and money-laundering for taking bribes funneled to him by Wall Street bankers — everything from Rolex watches to Ferragamo suits to cash. But those who greenlighted the bribes and profited most from the scam remain largely untouched. “It never gets back to JP Morgan,” says Pack.
Makes you physically ill doesn’t it? Taibbi’s article is a great read…even if it did make me want to throw-up. Below is the Democracy Now interview w/Taibbi.
This one was chosen to run the GOP Convention. Doug Goodyear has resigned most likely because of a Newsweek article that comes out this week that shows his lobbying company works for the Myanmar Junta.
Thats a real winner for a client isn’t it? Jaysus, lobbyists have no shame do they? The Newsweek article also rattles off some of the other big-name bags of batshit that Dougie’s company represents:
Goodyear is CEO of DCI Group, a consulting firm that earned $3 million last year lobbying for ExxonMobil, General Motors and other clients.
DCI also represents those smarmy 527 swiftboating groups. McCain’s staff is top heavy with lobbyists. Also from the Newsweek writeup:
Ironically, Goodyear was chosen for the post after the McCain campaign nixed another candidate, Paul Manafort, who runs a lobbying firm with McCain’s campaign manager, Rick Davis. The prospect of choosing Manafort created anxiety in the campaign because of his long history of representing controversial foreign clients, including Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos. More recently, he served as chief political consultant to Viktor Yanukovich, the former Ukrainian prime minister who has been widely criticized for alleged corruption and for his close ties to Russia’s Vladimir Putin – a potential embarrassment for McCain, who in 2007 called Putin a “totalitarian dictator.” “The Ukrainian stuff was viewed as too much,” says one McCain strategist, who asked not to be identified discussing the matter. Manafort did not return calls for comment.
tsk, tsk…I hope the Democratic nominee makes a big deal about all those friggin lobbyists. Scurrilous bastards that they are.
March 23, 2005: Explosion kills 15 people and injures more than 170 in the worst accident in the nation’s gas and chemical industry in nearly 15 years. This explosion was at the British Petroleum (BP) plant in Texas City, TX. As noted, this explosion happened 2 years ago this week.
The investigative arm of the Federal Government for this type of explosion, the U.S. Chemical Safety Investigation Board(CSB), released it’s report final report today on the Texas City explosion. Its 374 pages long, which should give you an idea of the detail involved in this report,or…the amount of bullshit they are laying on since it seems they might have been paid by the page, I must admit I haven’t slogged through the entire report. The man that headed this 11-member group? Why none other than James Baker! You remember Jimmy..he headed the Iraq Study Group, but I digress.
Thankfully, the CSB released something a lot shorter in their press release today. A couple of small blurbs from there:
In a 335-page final report released today, federal investigators from the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) conclude that “organizational and safety deficiencies at all levels of the BP Corporation” caused the March 23, 2005, explosion at the BP Texas City refinery, the worst industrial accident in the United States since 1990. The report calls on the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to increase inspection and enforcement at U.S. oil refineries and chemical plants, and to require these corporations to evaluate the safety impact of mergers, reorganizations, downsizing, and budget cuts.—Please bear in mind that the Shrub has cut OSHA’S budget yearly and oversight abilities every chance he gets since he took office.
“The independent Baker panel, formed and funded by BP in response to an urgent CSB safety recommendation, issued its final report in January 2007. It found “material deficiencies” in the safety of BP’s five U.S. refineries in Texas, California, Indiana, Ohio, and Washington. The 11-member panel also issued ten safety recommendations, including calling on BP’s corporate board to closely monitor safety performance at its facilities. The Baker panel was not charged with determining the root causes of the March 2005 explosion.”-Notice my dear reader that they have the nads to call it an “independent” panel but in the same sentence says it was funded by BP. One can only hope that this panel was truly independent and not just a shill for the Oil Business and their best friend..George Bush.
CSB chairman Carolyn Merritt delivers the bottom line to us:
“The combination of cost-cutting, production pressures and failure to invest caused a progressive deterioration of safety at the refinery,” – BP was making billions prior to the explosion but could not put a dime into rehabbing the plant. BP chose to put lives at risk, ultimately causing the deaths of 15 and injury to over 170 people and keep their money in their ‘pocket’.
Failure to invest in safety and working conditions could also be called willful homicide in my opinion. But we know that’s not going to happen..afterall, it’s a Big Oil Corporation and BushCo would never find a business culpable in killing their workers would they? It’s just the cost of doing business…no more, no less.
Beginning in 2002, BP commissioned a series of audits and studies that revealed serious safety problems at the Texas City refinery, including a lack of preventative maintenance and training, but the CSB found that senior executives ordered 25 percent cost cuts in 1999 and another 25 percent in 2004, the year before the blast.
British Petroleum was cutting costs and allowing the Texas refinery to slip into disrepair. And THEY KNEW IT. They, my dear reader, did it on purpose. Bear in mind that in 2005 BP had reported a 25% increase in annual profits. In 2004, their profit was a paltry $17.5 BILLION dollars. It should also be noted that BP was bitchslapped with a record $21.4 million fine after finding more than 300 willful violations resulting from the explosion, but even that fine is a drop in the profit bucket. You know what stands out to me?
It was cheaper to get fined than fix the problems prior to the blast, I mean really..look at their profit margin for the year prior to the blast my dear reader.
Now, BP has released their statement on the CSB report. As expected, they..ahem..disagree with substantial parts of the CSB report as witnessed by this little blurb:
Notwithstanding the Company’s strong disagreement with some of the content of the CSB report, particularly many of the findings and conclusions, BP will give full and careful consideration to CSB’s recommendations, in conjunction with the many activities already underway to improve process safety management. BP and its employees are ready, willing and able to achieve the goal of becoming an industry leader in process safety management. I am biting a hole in my lip to keep from screaming at this point at the obvious bullshittery in the last sentence.
Now, you might ask..as I did..why in the blue hell would BP allow this refinery to go to shit when they had some *cough*decent*cough* profits within the last 6 years and it’s the third largest plant of its kind in the U.S.?
Money..it’s all about the money for Big Oil.. As for workers lives..they can be replaced by the folks in Human Resources by placing a new ‘help wanted” ad in the newspapers and the local unemployment office.
As for OSHA having the funds to police all these huge industrial plants and enforce fines and work stoppage until they are fixed..once again..say it with me now people..
Money, its all about the money that BushCo keeps cutting from their budget. Oh, and having a pro-Oil “bidness” President doesn’t hurt either. The last line in the Houston Chronicle article I link to earlier is scary too:
“This report has a lot of implications beyond chemical processing,” said Meshkati, human factors consultant to CSB investigators. Among the industries that could benefit are transportation and nuclear energy, he added.
Don’t get me started on the nuclear industry..I am warning you now.
Kyle “Dusty” Foggo, executive director of the CIA until he resigned in May, and his close friend, San Diego defense contractor Brent Wilkes have been indicted on 11 counts of fraud, conspiracy and money laundering. These indictments stem from the same case that sent Randy”Duke” Cunningham to prison for a long time.
Foggo and Wilkes could each be punished by up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
Lets hear it for justice being served..god willing and the jury agrees.
The federal government has outsourced more and more of its duties. By doing this, they can claim they have lowered their workforce, thus saving us millions of bucks in benefits that would have to be paid to these employees if they were on the federal government payroll, among other things.
What also happens is that oversight, transparency and auditing of the work is lost. The government just writes checks out to companies like Halliburton, CACI, KBR, Blackwater and a host of other corporations figuring the job is being done correctly and it saves us all lots of money in the long run.
Wrong, carpetbagger breath. The billions paid to companies like I have named above is many times just wasted. Since the federal government no longer has their finger in a specific pie, they also give these companies carte blanche to charge us whatever they want, and workmanship is a dirty little word to these corporations..they just want their check. They create their own work standards without any oversight by the federal government, who is now relegated to just being a “customer”. The contractor can now sub-contract part, if not the entire job, to another contractor with little or no oversight by the federal government or the original company who was given the contract. Where do you think their loyalties lie? The following is a quote from David M. Walker, who as comptroller general of the United States, said this about contractors and their loyalty: “There’s something civil servants have that the private sector doesn’t, and that is the duty of loyalty to the greater good — the duty of loyalty to the collective best interest of all rather than the interest of a few. Companies have duties of loyalty to their shareholders, not to the country.”
What is the biggest and scariest part of this whole “contract out the government” scheme is, as the NYT writes, these contractors have slowly become the 4th branch of our federal government.
Besides the obvious Iraq Reconstruction carpetbaggers, we have contractors who collect our income taxes and work up agency budgets, operate unmanned spy aircraft and act as secretary’s taking the minutes at policy meetings on the war in Iraq. They sit next to federal employees at nearly every agency; more people work under contracts in our federal government than are directly employed by our federal government.. Let me type that again for you: More people work under contracts in our federal government than are directly employed by our federal government. One that makes me howl in amazement is the government’s online database for tracking contracts, the Federal Procurement Data System, has been outsourced. We have outsourced the checks and balances on our outsourcing. Ain’t that a friggin’ hoot my dear reader?
Not really. It’s pathetic and its fuckwitted.
To cull some of the key information that has been unearthed about our outsourcing, here are some of the highlights, which come from the NYT article mentioned above:
¶Competition, intended to produce savings, appears to have sharply eroded. An analysis by The New York Times shows that fewer than half of all “contract actions” — new contracts and payments against existing contracts — are now subject to full and open competition. Just 48 percent were competitive in 2005, down from 79 percent in 2001.
¶The most secret and politically delicate government jobs, like intelligence collection and budget preparation, are increasingly contracted out, despite regulations forbidding the outsourcing of “inherently governmental” work. Scott Amey, general counsel at the Project on Government Oversight, a watchdog group, said allowing CACI workers to review other contractors captured in microcosm “a government that’s run by corporations.”
¶Agencies are crippled in their ability to seek low prices, supervise contractors and intervene when work goes off course because the number of government workers overseeing contracts has remained level as spending has shot up. One federal contractor explained candidly in a conference call with industry analysts last May that “one of the side benefits of the contracting officers being so overwhelmed” was that existing contracts were extended rather than put up for new competitive bidding.
¶The most successful contractors are not necessarily those doing the best work, but those who have mastered the special skill of selling to Uncle Sam. The top 20 service contractors have spent nearly $300 million since 2000 on lobbying and have donated $23 million to political campaigns. “We’ve created huge behemoths that are doing 90 or 95 percent of their business with the government,” said Peter W. Singer, who wrote a book on military outsourcing. “They’re not really companies, they’re quasi agencies.” Indeed, the biggest federal contractor, Lockheed Martin, which has spent $53 million on lobbying and $6 million on donations since 2000, gets more federal money each year than the Departments of Justice or Energy.
¶Contracting almost always leads to less public scrutiny, as government programs are hidden behind closed corporate doors. Companies, unlike agencies, are not subject to the Freedom of Information Act. Members of Congress have sought unsuccessfully for two years to get the Army to explain the contracts for Blackwater USA security officers in Iraq, which involved several costly layers of subcontractors.
Now, after reading that laundry list of crap..do you feel safer? Do you feel your tax money is being spent correctly? And lastly, do you feel this type of bullshit is in our best interests? Because I do not my dear reader, not for the one stinking second that it took for me to write this sentence.
Our pitbull in the Senate, Henry Waxman is trying very hard to warn us about the inherent problems associated with outsourcing the bulk of the duties our federal government is supposed to perform. He is holding hearings this week on the carpetbaggers that are known by the name of “contractors” in Iraq. You can watch or listen online. I watch CSPAN or listen to it in the background all day. I am tired of the spin we put up with from our current administration, our elected representatives and from the MSM. I can formulate my own opinions based on what is actually said..not on what the MSM writes up the following day. I think the problems we face as a nation are far too important to be left to the MSM, to let them provide me with their daily take on what was said or done in our name. When a good in-depth report comes out, like the one the NYT is doing now on contractors, I think it’s worth telling people about. I hope I can pique your interest enough to get you to read it..even if its long and in four parts. I hope that you will get pissed off enough to do something about it..even if that means all you do is call your elected rep’s or write them a long nasty diatribe, blog about it on your own or tell others what is being done in our name. If we do any or all of those things..perhaps we will see real change. If we don’t..We will get the idiots and disloyal fuckwits we deserve running our Federal Government. That is tantamount to the fox guarding the henhouse my dear reader..but you know that, don’t you?