The rampant mismanagement and corruption of the past eight years will present a massive challenge to incoming U.S. President Barack Obama. He cited one example at a press conference last week that is so egregious it leaves me shaking my head in wonder:
A Government Accountability Office report details how 2,702 wealthy individuals who should have been ineligible for farm subsidies pocketed $49 million dollars in Department of Agriculture payments from 2003 to 2006. The law bars people who make more than $2.5 million a year and who receive less than 75 percent of their income from farm activities from receiving farm subsidies.
A sports-team owner, a financial-firm executive and residents of Hong Kong and Saudi Arabia were among the millionaires receiving farm payments. The GAO said it was prevented by law from identifying individuals cited in its report, but the investigators offered these examples:
– A founder and former executive of an insurance company, who received more than $300,000.
– A professional sports franchise owner, who received more than $200,000.
– A top executive of a major financial services firm, who received more than $60,000.
– A former executive of a technology company, who received more than $900,000 in varous farm program payments.
Nine recipients live outside of the United States – in such far-off places as Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia, and the United Kingdom. USDA officials explained they lack funds and legal authority to examine individual tax returns to verify whether people applying for farm subsides were actually eligible.
“This is exactly the kind of bureaucratic malfeasance that turns hope into cynicism when it comes to believing that government can do the right thing,” Obama said.
Obama is right, of course. But this is just one example of many government hand-outs to large farm operations and wealthy absentee landlords. George Bush (right) and his cronies have perverted “reform” legislation enacted by past Democratic Congresses so that taxpayer assistance goes to the richest Americans – instead of to those in need as originally intended. And in the Bush Administration, that’s just par for the course.
As he leaves office, Bush must be laughing up his sleeve at the way in which he has undermined the U.S. Constitution to seize illegal power; channeled billions to cronies through no-bid contracts in Iraq; funneled more billions to such favored financial institutions as AIG, Bear Stearns (which handled his investments), and Goldman Sachs; attacked the environment and the animal kingdom; used government institutions to persecute political opponents; and nested unqualified political supporters in civil service positions.
There’s a lot for the worst President in America’s history to answer for, but I doubt that he will face any charges. Rep. Dennis Kucinich (pictured at right with wife, Elizabeth) tried his best to get Bush impeached, standing in Congress for hours and reading a long list of crimes and misdeameanors. But it was all in vain. The list is too long. Prosecuting them would be too much trouble. Bush has left too many urgent crises that must be dealt with first. Obama and Congress will have their hands so full cleaning up the mess they have inherited that it is doubtful Bush and his gang will ever be brought to justice.
But, even if Bush and his execrable henchman, Dick Cheney (right), escape justice in this world, I believe with all my heart that they will answer for it in the next. The blood of the innocent cries out for justice. The misery of the downtrodden cannot go unanswered. For all the billions the Bush gang and their cronies have diverted to their own use, they must one day give an accounting. And the judge who will rule in their case is much more fearsome than any they would have faced on earth.