Among GAO’s greatest hits this past week is a basic report on how poorly government contracting can be done. That’s not quite the title or the intent, but it’s certainly the theme. The report and a second report with testimony show how poorly the Government Services Agency (GSA) – and its Excluded Parties List System is working at its most basic function – excluding parties who have defrauded the goverment in the past financially or by providing defective products or by breaking laws. The reasons for the failure to do this basic job are many, and examples from the reports are included below.
It’s no “Bridge to Nowhere” but budget hawks may have needed a cold shower after The Washington Post reported that Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne renovated his private office bathroom to the tune of $235,000 courtesy of U.S. taxpayers. Talk about trickle down economics.
The federal corruption charges lodged today against Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich and his chief of staff have stunned the nation and promise to reach much further — to exact if not additional criminal charges some very serious collateral political damage on the Obama transition team.
The big question beyond what the hell was Blagojevich thinking: who was “Candidate 5″ referred to in the indictment that was being considered a leading contender to assume the remainder of Pres.-elect Barack Obama senate seat and who appears to be a willing participant in Blagojevich’s pay-for-play scheme.
The Sunlight Foundation lists the evidence pointing to Candidates 1-4 and 6 and fingers the likely suspect #5 — U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson of Chicago.
A sad day for politics, indeed. But a good day for the rule of law.
The extraordinary hand-wringing over the traditional media’s epic failure to warn Americans about the impending economic meltdown belies the enormous problems facing our nation and our democracy.
The Columbia Journalism Review takes some ownership while the American Journalism Review prefers self-pitying and recriminations toward the public for pretending prescient business journalists were “nattering nabobs of negativism.”
Rather than dwell on the obvious I’d like to explore what’s next.
You have probably heard about all the stealth regulations literally pouring out of OMB – all with the goal of extending the life of the Bush Administration way past what is supposed to be its death And it’s not only stealth regulations. It’s also Executive Orders. Regs take more effort, because they require compliance with the Administrative Procedure Act. But then they are harder to undo, because that requires compliance with the Administrative Procedure Act. Executive Orders, in contrast, just take a pen and a signature -easy to do . . . and to undo. And time grows short for the almost undead to do their dastardly deeds of darkness.
Yes, it will be an unholy mess that will make it hard for the Obama government to undo. Among the Bushites’ targets are union membership for federal employees, national parks, the environment and more.
Jack Goldsmith, former head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel under George W. Bush, offers appallingly bad advice about what to do in regard to “the Bush administration’s harsh, abusive and illegal interrogation program”. His solution: Let whatever investigations now going on run their course and then forget the whole matter. No Congressional hearings, no special commission, no DOJ task force, no special prosecutor. Just wind down the pitiful few investigations that have occurred, publish some of the documents they turn up, but make sure to turn the lights off when you’re done.
The main reason that law-breakers should not be prosecuted, in his estimation, is that the people involved won’t take it well. They’re already quite unhappy at the prospect of being held accountable, you see, given that they were just following orders.
No doubt by now you’ve seen the reports that say New Orleans is the city with the highest crime rate in America, with 19,000 reported crimes in 2007 according to FBI statistics. Among large cities, the three with the worst crime rates reportedly were Detroit, Baltimore, and Memphis, in that order.
Proverbial damned lies and statistics. These rankings are calculated based on just 6 categories of crime (murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary and auto theft). Hence they neglect most categories of crime and in particular many of the most severe kinds of criminal activity. If these were included, one city would stand head and shoulders above the others in its single-minded devotion to criminal enterprises: Washington, DC.
What sorts of major crimes have been excluded from consideration? For starters, all manner of war crimes – things like invading a sovereign country without justification and then neglecting its internal security, killing or driving into exile millions in the process. That’s a criminal enterprise on a vast scale, isn’t it? All of it headquartered in Washington.
But that’s just the beginning of the list, whose outer limits are unknown and probably unquantifiable.
How many have waited for how long to read that headline.