An AP story today quoted Preznut Doubleduh as describing the turmoil around him as "background noise." He said he wuz gunna ignore it cuz "the mericun peeple wants me tuh do muh job, an thass jest whut ima gunna do", (or something like that). How can he tell the difference between background noise and Gawd telling him what to do next?
Let me help him out here with some more "background noise" . . .
According to another AP story, the folks who are benefitting from the Katrina "recovery" process are not the residents:
But the winners of even larger Katrina deals - those valued at $170 million or more - will not have to rebid or renegotiate. Most of the companies had done previous work for the government, either with earlier hurricanes or in Iraq, and those existing relationships were key to winning new deals.Yeah, right. Just background noise. Condi produced some of her own, according to the Boston Globe:
"This shows the best government contractors don't always get hired, the most politically influential do," said Keith Ashdown, vice president of the watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense. "We need to strive for more competitive bidding."
Some of the deals:
_A $521.4 million contract to Gulf Stream Coach of Nappanee, Ind., for travel trailers to house evacuees. Since 2000, company founder James F. Shea and his family have contributed more than $20,000 to GOP candidates, including President Bush and Rep. Bob Ney, R-Ohio, chairman of the House Administration Committee.
_A no-bid modification to an existing contract with Landstar Express America Inc. for about $300 million worth of trucking services. Company chairman Jeffrey Crowe recently headed the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, whose political action committee regularly contributes to the GOP.
In a preliminary review, government auditors this week found that the Transportation Department approved payments on the Landstar contract without issuing written orders or otherwise recording them in ways to allow adequate oversight.
_A $236 million rush order with Carnival Cruise Lines for six months of temporary housing. The Miami company or its executives have contributed more than $200,000 each to both the Republican and Democratic parties since 2000.
Sens. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and Barack Obama, D-Ill., have called for investigations into whether the contract price, which amounts to roughly $1,275 a week per passenger if the three ships are at full capacity, is too high.
Also being reviewed is a $287.5 million FEMA contract for temporary housing with Circle B Enterprises Inc., an Ocilla, Ga.-based company that Thompson says is not properly licensed to build manufactured homes in several states.
Circle B says it is not building the actual homes but has subcontracted the work; Carnival officials have said they don't expect to make a profit from their deal. Officials with Gulf Stream Coach could not be reached for comment.
FEMA and Army Corps officials say their early contract awards went to known companies in the interest of providing fast emergency assistance. They denied political connections were a factor.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice refused yesterday to rule out military action against Syria and Iran -- two countries she accused of supporting the insurgency in Iraq.Meanwhile, the Senate again failed to pass a minimum wage hike ($5.15 since 1997), but one of its committees did have the "courage" to recommend oil drilling in the ANWR:
Rice, speaking before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said that President Bush would not need to ask Congress for authorization to use military force against Iraq's neighbors.
''I don't want to try and circumscribe presidential war powers," Rice said in response to a question on whether the administration would have to return to Congress to seek authorization to use military force outside Iraq's borders. ''I think you'll understand fully that the president retains those powers in the war on terrorism and in the war in Iraq."
Rice, in her three hours of testimony, painted an upbeat picture of political progress in Iraq. But she also described the war as part of a long-term struggle that might last more than a decade. The war on terrorism, she said, would be won only after change spreads across the entire Middle East.
''Syria and indeed Iran must decide whether they wish to side with the cause of war or with the cause of peace," Rice told senators.
The U.S. Senate Energy Committee voted on Wednesday to open Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling as part of a broad budget bill to fund the federal government.Meanwhile, in other noise, Doubleduh's approval ratings continue to make giant flushing sounds.
Tapping the refuge's billions of barrels of crude oil is a key part of the Bush administration's national energy plan to boost domestic production. Environmental groups and many Democrats oppose drilling, saying that instead of threatening the habitat of wildlife in ANWR, lawmakers should look at ways to cut oil consumption with more fuel-efficient vehicle standards.
The refuge, which is about the size of South Carolina, sprawls across more than 19 million acres in northeastern Alaska. It is home to polar bears, musk oxen, caribou and migratory birds.
The energy panel approved the ANWR drilling provision, 13-9. All Republicans on the committee voted in favor of the plan, plus Democrats Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Daniel Akaka of Hawaii.
"Opening ANWR is sound public policy that would serve the country well many years into the future," said Pete Domenici, the Republican chairman of the committee. The oil produced from the wildlife refuge "would provide some cushion" for U.S. supplies, he said.
The legislative proposal will be folded into a much bigger budget bill to fund the federal government, which the Senate Budget Committee is scheduled to vote on next week and the full U.S. Senate the following week.
Republican leaders decided to attach the Alaska drilling plan to budget legislation because under Senate rules the giant spending bill cannot be filibustered . . .