Sunday, May 13, 2007

Cronyism: From Bushie to Rudy

Frank Rich notes in his NY Times column today how George W. Bush's presidency has been six years of a "No Crony Left Behind" program:

Loyal ideologues or flunkies were put in crucial positions regardless of their ethics or competence. Government business was outsourced to campaign contributers regardless of their ethics or competence. Even orthodox Republican fiscal prudence was tossed aside so Congressional allies could be bought off with bridges to nowhere.


In retrospect, the first unimpeachable evidence of the White House's modus operandi was reported by the journalist Ron Suskind, for Esquire, at the end of 2002. Mr. Suskind interviewed an illustrious Bush appointee, the University of Pennsylvania political scientist John DiIuilo, who had run the administration's compassionate-conservative flagship, the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. Bemoaning an unprecendeted "lack of policy apparatus" in the White House, Mr. DiIulio said: "What you've got is everything - and I mean everything - being run by the political arm. It's the reign of the Mayberry Machiavellis."

His words have been borne out repeatedly: by the unqualified political hacks and well-connected no-bid contractors who sabotaged the occupation and reconstruction of Iraq; the politicization of science at the Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency; the outsourcing of veterans' care to a crony company at Walter Reed; and the purge of independent United States attorneys at Alberto Gonzales' Justice Department.


By installing a political hack, his 2000 campaign manager Joe Allbaugh, at the top of FEMA, the president foreordained the hiring of Brownie and the disastrous response to Katrina. At the Education Department, the signature No Child Left Behind program, Reading First, is turning out to be a cesspool of contracting conflicts of interest. It's also at that department that Bush loyalists stood by while the student-loan industry scandal exploded; at its center is Nelnet, the single largest corporate contributor to the 2006 GOP Congressional campaign committee. Back at Mr. Gonzales' operation, where revelations of politicization and cover-ups mount daily, it turns out that no black lawyers have been hired in the nearly all-white criminal section of the civil rights division since 2003.

The Washington Post reports today the Rudolph Giuliani's private business career has also been characterized by cronyism and hackery:

On Dec. 7, 2001, nearly three months after the terrorist attack that had made him a national hero and a little over three weeks before he would leave office, New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani took the first official step toward making himself rich.


Over the next five years, Giuliani Partners earned more than $100 million, according to a knowledgeable source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the firm's financial information is private. And that success helped transform the Republican considered the front-runner for his party's 2008 presidential nomination from a moderately well-off public servant into a globe-trotting consultant whose net worth is estimated to be in the tens of millions of dollars.


Famously loyal, Giuliani chose as his partners longtime associates, including a former police commissioner later convicted of corruption, a former FBI executive who admitted taking artifacts from Ground Zero and a former Roman Catholic priest accused of covering up sexual abuse in the church.


In "Leadership," the best-selling book he wrote in 2002, Giuliani devoted a chapter called "Surround Yourself With Great People" to describe the people he picked to help run the firm. The core of the group comprised close political associates and City Hall advisers -- not seasoned businesspeople. And some had problems in their pasts.

Kerik took the lead building the Giuliani Partners security arm. But even before Giuliani left the mayor's office, city investigators had warned him that Kerik might have ties to organized-crime figures, a warning Giuliani recently testified that he did not recall. Kerik abruptly left the firm in early 2005, after his nomination to be homeland security secretary -- supported by Giuliani -- collapsed. That was a year before he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge that he accepted free work on his apartment from a contracting firm accused of having ties to organized crime.

To replace Kerik, Giuliani turned to a respected former FBI executive, Pasquale J. D'Amuro, who had risen through the ranks as one of the bureau's savviest antiterrorism agents to become its third-ranking official. In 2004, a Justice Department inquiry into the controversial removal of souvenirs from the World Trade Center site disclosed that D'Amuro had asked a subordinate to gather half a dozen items from Ground Zero as mementos just weeks after the attacks, and D'Amuro later acknowledged that he kept one piece of granite that he received in June 2003. The FBI took no action against D'Amuro, and he donated his memento to the New York FBI office before retiring.

In 2003, Giuliani also brought into the firm Alan Placa, an old friend who resigned as vice chancellor of the Diocese of Rockville Centre on Long Island a week after being confronted by Newsday with allegations that former parishioners had been abused. The newspaper published portions of a 2003 Suffolk County grand jury report in which accusers said he used his position to stifle complaints of abuse by clergy. The firm would not make Placa available to comment, but the Long Island newspaper has reported that Placa denied the allegations, was not charged with a crime, and is going through a process within the church to clear his name. Placa has been described by the firm as a "consultant."

That's who Rudy hired to help him run his private company - a made man in the Mob, a slimeball who helped quash complaints that clergy under his guidance were raping children and a guy who stole stuff from Ground Zero to put on his desk (and perhaps sell on Ebay.)

What kind of people do think St. Rudy will place in positions of importance in his administration?

I'm betting the same kind of cronies, hacks, and criminals.

If Americans want another four years of corruption, hackery, and arrogant bluster like the past six, they ought to elect Rudy to replace the current preznut.

And then the Heritage Foundation boys and girls currently living off the public trough and hiring only Repubs in positions of importance in the government can continue with business as usual.

I'm continually flabbergasted at Rudy's ascension from bum on 9/10 to saint on 9/11. Everything else has been forgotten, and everything else has been swept under the rug. Time bought it, America bought it, and soon we'll find out whether the GOP buys his particular brand of being for yet against most of their social issues in order to touch the hem of his garment.
Rudy's opponents have tons of oppo research on him and they're already starting to unload. Plus the fundies can't support him (Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention told Chris Matthews he never endorses politicians but he is NEGATIVELY endorsing Rudy because he dislikes his social policies so much.

I think we're seeing the beginning of the end of Rudy. He's simply too flawed for this process. 9/11 trumps a lot of problems for him, but not ALL of 'em.
It's going to be interesting to see the Repub's 2008 strategy unfold. Beyond retaining the presidency, which is at best unlikely, is the task of getting the die-hards to the polls to protect their down-ticket candidates. Obviously, Rudy can't bring the base in, nor can Mitt as yet. McCain may be a sentimental favorite, but it's hard to get enthusiastic about a man who's clearly losing it (although they have done so in the past). Their only hope of outside help is for the Dems to pick Hillary, who will bring the aginers out in droves, and to have someone at the top of the ticket that doesn't turn anyone's stomach.

I heard an interview with Brownback, and whatever one might think of his religious convictions, he's not scary, and could easily do well for the party even if he gets buried in Novenber.

Look for a lot of cross-over voting in open Dem primaries, as Repubs try to get the person they love to hate on the November ballot.
I agree that Brownback, despite his views on social and economic issues, doesn't sound scary the way, say Cheney, does. Same goes for Huckabee. I don't understand why the GOP doesn't look to the second tier. Let's face it, Romney is just a sleaze, Rudy's running as the hero of 9/11 (and shouldn't a presidential candidate have more going for him than just one day - remember Rudy's 9/10 legacy) and McCain has sold his soul.
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