Column: Welcome To The Party, Pal

John McCain learns there are people in the world who are not rich or white, and we fail to give him the Internet cookie he seems to think he deserves for demonstrating basic self-awareness: McCain has been able to get away with showing up just in time to shoot the politically wounded for years now. He made sure to denounce attacks on Sen. John Kerry’s war record in the 2004 presidential election after those attacks had done most of their political damage, but pundits still cite that denunciation as evidence of McCain’s charming “maverick” tendencies. His criticism of the war … Continue reading Column: Welcome To The Party, Pal

Where Have You Gone, Big Bill?

We could use someone like you now. That mean-looking motherfucker in the coat and hat above was Big Bill Haywood, a kick-ass union activist from the early 20th century. When you look at him, you know he understood how to make his point clear.  Well, Big Bill, we could use you these days. I’ve been somewhat involved with my union’s negotiations with management lately. Management is made up of reflexive assholes and retarded cuttlefish. Seriously, fuck those people. I can’t imagine how much this would suck if we didn’t have our union. And I just don’t understand why more working … Continue reading Where Have You Gone, Big Bill?

Your President Speaks!

Today, at theWhite House, during the most lackluster presser in human history. The Valley Girl President I think the last time I visited with you it was like — I said it was like a tax increase on the working people. Brainwreck They ought to say, why don’t we — I proposed, you might remember, taking some abandoned military bases and providing regulatory relief so we can build new refineries. Medulla Ohmigodda I mean, if we’re generally interested in moving forward with an energy policy that sends a signal to the world that we’re not — we’re going to try … Continue reading Your President Speaks!

What It’s For

Elite: The story was a giggling GOP oppo plant, but that didn’t stop the kewl kidz from running with it. I don’t need to remind you about John Kerry and his “butler” and the “green tea” and the “wit-whiz” psuedoscandals of 2004. If Clinton were still the front runner, she’d be portrayed in the press as a cross between Dalmation draped Cruella DeVille and Evita Peron with her 100 million and Bubba trophy husband. (Actually, she is — they aren’t taking any chances.) Meanwhile, you have a temperamental, fabulously wealthy, flip-flopping, seventy one year old warmonger on the other side … Continue reading What It’s For

Investigating Alphonso…Scott Keller and the Floridians for Family Values scandal


Yesterday I wrote of the investigation of HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson focusing on William Hairston, a friend and golfing buddy of Jackson whose receipt of a nearly half million dollar no bid contract is a focal point of the investigation. That post outlined the history of Hairston, a man who made a small fortune in the stucco construction biz using illegal Mexican labor. Hairston’s fortune turned though when those workers formed their own businesses and undercut Hairston’s bids causing his business to severely decline by 2005.

While the question of whether Jackson threw a contract to Hairston is a focal point to the investigation, evidence is emerging that the central figure in the investigation is the former“right arm” to Jackson and his deputy chief of staff, Scott Keller. Keller resigned from HUD in August amid investigation, ostensibly of course“to provide for his family” by returning to lobbying.

Scott Keller: If Past is Prologue


National Journal reports that “Keller played an important role in a decision” by HUD/HANO to award a $127 million project to a team which included a firm that owed between $250,000 – $500,000 to Alphonso Jackson “for past services.” Federal investigators are examining whether Keller aided Jackson in awarding that contract as well as another for managing the Virgin Islands Housing Authority to the close friends of Jackson. NJ reports that according to sources “a federal agent served a search warrant at Keller’s home in Alexandria, Va.” last month.

Like Hairston, Keller comes to this story with an interesting past, though murkier than Hairston’s somewhat hapless history.

In1994 Keller joined the Greenberg Traurig lobbying firm and rose to the director of governmental affairs at the Tallahassee office of Greenberg Traurig. If that name sounds familiar, think Jack Abramoff. Similar to Abramoff, it appears Scott Keller had a forray into the murky and ultimately illegal world of an Indian gambling lobbying scandal.

In April of 2003 theSt. Petersburg Times reported that a newly formed group with mysterious financial backing, called the Floridians for Family Values, was mailing out brochures to Floridians “aimed at derailing a Senate proposal to allow slot machines at parimutuel facilities.” The group was formed by lobbyist Cory Tilley, the former communications director and deputy chief of staff to Gov. Jeb Bush. Tilley refused to disclose the financial donors of the group. The SPTimes found that 2 women were listed as officers of the group. Tilley claimed not to know them. One woman, Robin Peraldo, claimed to have no knowledge of her name having been used for the group.

The SPTimes dug further into it anddiscovered Scott Keller…

Public records in Orange County indicate that Peraldo is Kathleen
Keller’s daughter.A brother, Scott Keller, is a lobbyist with the
Greenberg Traurig Law Firm in Tallahassee. The firm filed the
corporation papers last month for Tilley, using names supplied by

That of course refers to Jackson’s future “right arm.”

Needless to say the group’s actions were not popular with interests who advocated for the gambling measure andseveral months later one of them filed a complaint against the group with the Florida Elections Commission, an action which eventually would lead to the unmasking, of some but not all, of the details behind the mysterious group.

Continue reading “Investigating Alphonso…Scott Keller and the Floridians for Family Values scandal”

The Silent Service Speaks Out. Just a Little.

Yeah, yeah. More sailor shit. The New YorkTimes has aninteresting piece today about the 1970 voyage of the USSQueenfish (SSN-651) under the Arctic icepack.  This may not interest too many people other than myself, but I’m posting it anyway. But Jude, you may ask, why does this interest you? That’s a good question. It turns out that I spent a number of years under the world’s oceans on board the black hulls of the US Navy’s submarine fleet. Yes. And I’m still a godless liberal. I guess I wasn’t a “real” sailor if I’m a heathen lefty, huh? First Popeye … Continue reading The Silent Service Speaks Out. Just a Little.

Natalists Don’t Kill People, People Kill People

More moral values from Republican country, suburban Chicago edition: A dozen people were killed in DuPage County in 2004, the highest total since there were 20 homicides in 1995. [snip] Eight of DuPage’s homicide victims were killed with guns, one was stabbed and drowned, two were suffocated, and one was beaten to death. DuPage also had a triple homicide this year. A Cicero man was charged with shooting three men in a Willowbrook parking lot. That crime was the county’s first triple slaying since Marilyn Lemak drugged and suffocated her three children in 1999. No young children were slain in … Continue reading Natalists Don’t Kill People, People Kill People

“Paper Levee” Scandal Gets Worse

Last week I posted on theWWL story of a contractor stuffing the joints of a NOLA floodwall with newspaper instead of rubber. I followed with another post called“I Iz Contractr.” However given new information that post should have rightly been titled “I Iz ACE.” (Army Corps of Engineers).Via Jeffrey is this from theTimes Picayune: Corps officials said it used its own hired workers in 2006 to put in the newspaper filling, not a contractor. As Alan atThink New Orleans asks: Finally, who here can rest assured that “those three gaps were the only ones where such a method was used?” … Continue reading “Paper Levee” Scandal Gets Worse

Investigating contractor fraud in FEMA trailer contracts…One case

Last month FEMA released areport (pdf) chronicling waste and fraud in FEMA trailer maintenance and deactivation contracts. The GAO estimated that almost $30 million in waste or potentially fraudulent payments were made to contractors between June 2006 to January 2007 and “likely led to millions more in unnecessary spending beyond this period.” GAO prepared and reported on several case studies of potentially fraudulent payments. Though the report does not name the companies involved in the case studies, my research suggests that one case involves PRI/DJI a joint venture with ties to Fluor Corp.


The maintenance and deactivation (MD) contracts were born from
controversy and have continued to be mired in more controvery since
their inception. After criticism of the Bush administration’s awarding
of no bid contracts to 4 national firms shortly after Katrina struck,
FEMA decided to bid out 36 MD contracts to“small, local companies.” However
FEMA came under fire from local companies when the winning bids were
announced and it appeared FEMA was to give“more than
half the work to out-of-state companies.” One such company, DJI or Del-Jen Industries, did
not appear to be local (out of CA) or small as it was a wholly owned
subsidiary of Fluor Corp–one of the 4 large national companies that
originally received no bid contracts and also a company“with
campaign contributions lopsidedly in favor of the Republican Party.”

DJI partnered with PRI, or Project Resources Inc., as“part of a special
mentoring program that allows large firms [like DJI] to pair with small,
minority-owned ones” like PRI which are referred to as 8(a) companies.
However it was reported the joint venture PRI/DJI was awarded“two [MD] contracts of as much
as $100 million each as an 8A company.”

Given what the GAO found this appears accurate and not surprising.


The GAO summarized one case of potential fraud as such:

In reality, FEMA awarded GSM contracts to two companies that did not appear to
have submitted independent bids, as required. These companies shared
pricing information prior to submitting proposals to FEMA and also
shared the same president and accountant. Personnel at both
companies also misrepresented their job titles and functions, a
potential violation of the False Statements Act.

I would submit the 2 companies are PRI/DJI though the GAO report does
not identify the companies. Rather the report lists the 10 contractors
in question in the report by numbers 1 through 10. The report states
that Contractors 4 and 5 are the same company which received 2 contracts
priced at $177,312,545 each (p16 of pdf). Research yieldsthis document which shows that PRI/DJI
received a MD contract for $177,312,545 as an 8(a) which is designated
by 8A in the accompanying code–HSFEHQ-06-R-8AMS– in the document. In the body of the GAO
report where the potential fraud is detailed it states: “FEMA awarded
one business two contracts: one contract as a “single entity” and one as
part of a “joint venture” with another firm.” Further in itsown
to a
DHS Office of the Inspector General investigation on the 36 MD
contracts, FEMA identified PRI/DJI in the matter and defended their contract award by
saying the company was determined to be local but interestingly went on
to say that even if it were not local“it still would have received the
awards based on the pricing evaluation methodology used.”

That may be some FEMA truthiness to focus on “pricing
evaluation methodology” but the GAO report raises far more serious
problems with the contracts and the details of what they found ought to
be read. They are quite astounding. …

Continue reading “Investigating contractor fraud in FEMA trailer contracts…One case”

Presidential Debate in New Orleans?

The Commission on Presidential Debates deigned NOLA wasn’t ready for a debate but Google and YouTubemust think otherwise. Google, the dominant Web search engine, and YouTube, the online video platform, are proposing the forum with the major party presidential candidates be held Sept. 18 at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, just after the parties complete their conventions in late August and early September. It would be eight days before the first scheduled presidential commission debate in Oxford, Miss. The announcement, made today on Google’s Web site, did not reveal whether any of the candidates — presumptive Republican nominee Sen. … Continue reading Presidential Debate in New Orleans?

Good News, Everyone!

Handed down from God himself Hey hey, everybody. Sorry I’ve been absent. But life has been very busy, and I haven’t had time for smartassery.  But it looks like I’m back now. As a celebration, I thought I’d tell everyone aboutFree Cone Day. What, you might ask, is Free Cone Day?  It’s simple. Ben & Jerry’s ice cream shops will be giving away ice cream cones. Tomorrow. Here are some step-by-step instructions that should help: Go to a Ben & Jerry’s store Obtain free ice cream Om nom nom nom Simple enough, right? And now back to the trenchant commentary … Continue reading Good News, Everyone!

Marriage Fixes Everything

Except no, not really: On average, controlling for differences in depression, subjects who had gotten married over the five-year span between the two interviews reported improved psychological well-being in the second interview–scoring an average of 3.42 points lower on the 84-point depression scale–than their counterparts who did not marry. When they teased apart how marriage affected those who had been depressed at the start of the study to those who had been happy, however, they came across something unexpected. The depressed who married scored an average of 7.56 points lower on the depression scale than the depressed who did not … Continue reading Marriage Fixes Everything

Today on Athenae’s Obsession with the Freepi: Wankachu, I Choose You!

They were warming up to John McCain, but then he called Katrina a bitch: EVERY time he opens his mouth I am confirmed in my inability to want to vote for him. Can’t do it. Won’t do it. Won’t vote for the beast or barry, but I’ll be damned if I will vote for this Bozo. Why can’t he run against democrats, what the frell* is he doing running against Republicans? After watching Obama the last month or so, I had pretty much resigned myself to voting McCain. I may now change my mind. Party labels are irrelevant since the … Continue reading Today on Athenae’s Obsession with the Freepi: Wankachu, I Choose You!

I Iz Contractr

The shorter version of the story below–“Contractor Stuffed NOLA Area Floodwall with Newspaper” OH NOES! I Canz Halp cuz Preznit Give Me Contract I Iz Contractr I Haz Werk 2 Do Werk Werk Werk The End ——————————————————————– “The federal government is committed to building the best levee system known in the world”–Donald Powell, former Federal Coordinator of Gulf Coast Rebuilding ——————————————————————– Continue reading I Iz Contractr


Speaking to a group of business folk in Texas, Jeb Bush expressed his skepticism of global warming.The Orlando Sentinel reports: Bush said those who advocate action to limit climate change are acting out of something like religious zeal. “I don’t think our policies should be based on emotion; they should be based on sound science,” he said. Rather than reducing oil consumption, Bush said the United States should focus on “energy security” — reducing dependence on oil imported from hostile or politically unstable countries by encouraging alternative fuels. Would you have expected anything else from a member of the Bush … Continue reading Jeb!

“Whatever it is”

McCaintoday in New Orleans Lower 9th Ward: He also told reporters he was not sure if he would rebuild the lower 9th ward as president. “That is why we need to go back is to have a conversation about what to do -rebuild it, tear it down, you know, whatever it is,” he said. A good portion of what was the hardest hit area of the Lower 9th is already torn down…just saying adding…But let’s have the conversation and I’ll know McCain is serious about that when he discusses it in Indianapolis and Omaha and Miama and Seattle and… Until … Continue reading “Whatever it is”

Today On ‘Stuff That Makes Athenae Want To Tear Off Her Own Head And Eat It’

But propaganda during wartime is just such a haaarrrddd story, full of big words and stuff! The Sunday-morning talk shows ignored the piece. No surprise that, perhaps, as the story suggested that news programs on ABC, CBS and NBC had broadcast the analysts’ talking points about the Iraq war and other military matters without asking too many questions about the provenance of their information. Oddly, though, the Pentagon caper likewise seemed a nonstarter on the blogosphere, which is famed for blowing up minor PR brush fires into massive conflagrations. The left-leaning Huffington Post, for instance, offered a link to the … Continue reading Today On ‘Stuff That Makes Athenae Want To Tear Off Her Own Head And Eat It’

Your President Speaks! Again!

Today, inWashington. Here Is Services And I don’t think it should be viewed as controversial to say to a public school, if children are falling behind, here’s supplementary services to help that individual child catch up. Our Nation’s Fabirc In Making Sure One of the reasons I’ve come is to highlight this problem and say to our country: We have an interest in the health of these centers of excellence; it’s in the country’s interest to get beyond the debate of public/private, to recognize this is a critical national asset that provides a critical part of our nation’s fabric in … Continue reading Your President Speaks! Again!

‘A Race to the U-Bend of the Toilet:’ Crack Van Recap

I remembered to save some of the chat text from last night, and I think this was my favorite bit of all. What happens when you throw two dozen geeks into a room and get them on about the language during commentary about “the deer hunter vote?” This: spork_incident> A covey of quail! Athenae: A brace of woodcock! John_O> Don’t tell Cheney. Elspeth> ha, A said ‘cock’! Athenae: Elspeth, yeah, we call it Tuesday. joejoejoe8059> a pride of leons sent sound: rooster virgotex> heheheheh Dee_Loralei> can we invent a tv channel with only KO and Rachel Maddow on MSNBC Sinfonian> … Continue reading ‘A Race to the U-Bend of the Toilet:’ Crack Van Recap

Today On Holden’s Obsession With The Gaggle

No More Hugs For McCain?

Q Two quick issues. Senate John McCain was touring a Lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans today. He said, “Never again will a disaster be handled in this terrible and disgraceful way.” He was asked specifically to talk about President Bush and how he failed in his Katrina conduct, and he said, “I think everybody knows how it was a failure.” There were unqualified people in charge. There was a total misreading of the dimensions of the disaster. There was a failure of communications on the part of the way — the common spectrum to used by many first responders. He said, “It’s been well chronicled. I don’t think anybody in America, hardly, is unaware of the many failings that took place.” What your reaction to that?

MS. PERINO: Well, I didn’t see the comments, but from what I know, having been here during the time, President Bush absolutely took responsibility for any failing on the part of the federal government. But at the same time there were problems at the federal, state and — I’m sorry, at the state and local levels, as well, which they have admitted to.

The Albanians Stole Chimpy’s Watch, The Mexicans Stole Chimpy’s Blackberry

Q One quick one to finish up. Is there any update on the stolen Blackberries in New Orleans? What is the story with this?

MS. PERINO: There was an incident in New Orleans at the leaders’ summit in — where an individual from the Mexican delegation, or a staff member was involved in these Blackberries — the disappearance of a couple of Blackberries. I don’t know how many it was. The matter is under investigation by law enforcement officials and they haven’t decided yet what exactly happened, but they’re working on it.

Q Was there sensitive material on the Blackberries?

MS. PERINO: I don’t know. I’m going to let the investigation take place before I comment on it.

Q Whose were they?

Q Yes, whose Blackberries? Were they White House staff Blackberries?

DANA*: I don’t — I’m not —

Q U.S.?

DANA: U.S., yes.

Q White House officials?

DANA: I don’t know if they were — I’m not quite sure whose they were, so I don’t want to say that, but they were certainly U.S. delegation.

*Note the offical White House transcript identifies the Press Secretary to the President by her first name.

Continue reading “Today On Holden’s Obsession With The Gaggle”

Lip-Service to Peace

Sheesh.Secret, peace-plan-negating agreements withcountries that spy on us. 2009 can’t come fast enough. A letter that President Bush personally delivered to then-Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon four years ago has emerged as a significant obstacle to the president’s efforts to forge a peace deal between the Israelis and Palestinians during his last year in office. Ehud Olmert, the current Israeli prime minister, said this week that Bush’s letter gave the Jewish state permission to expand the West Bank settlements that it hopes to retain in a final peace deal, even though Bush’s peace plan officially calls for a freeze of … Continue reading Lip-Service to Peace

Ohio Election Officials Rigged Recount In 2004

I should think this would be a big story. Silly me. Two election workers were convicted Wednesday of rigging a recount of the 2004 presidential election to avoid a more thorough review in Ohio’s most populous county. Jacqueline Maiden, elections coordinator of the Cuyahoga County Elections Board, and ballot manager Kathleen Dreamer each were convicted of a felony count of negligent misconduct of an elections employee. They also were convicted of one misdemeanor count each of failure of elections employees to perform their duty. Prosecutors accused Maiden and Dreamer of secretly reviewing preselected ballots before a public recount on Dec. … Continue reading Ohio Election Officials Rigged Recount In 2004