With a $200 billion aid package for hurricane-ravaged Louisiana in limbo, the emerging theme spinning out of the GOP message machine is that Louisiana is too "corrupt" to be trusted with the money, and so the people of the Gulf should just be abandoned. Here's this gem from yesterday's Mississippi Sun-Herald:
A Republican senator from Idaho is the latest to invoke Louisiana's reputation for political corruption as Congress considers whether to spend billions of dollars on hurricane recovery.
Sen. Larry Craig told his home state constituents that fraud is as much a part of the fabric of Louisiana as it is in Iraq and that flooded sections of New Orleans should be abandoned.
"Fraud is in the culture of Iraqis. I believe that is true in the state of Louisiana as well," Craig was quoted as saying.
Ah yes, those wacky brown people in New Orleans and Iraq -- despite FEMA and Halliburton's best attempts to usher in a new era of honesty and integrity, they just fight them every step of the way.
The Sun-Herald goes on to note that jumping on the Louisiana/corruption bandwagon are Rep. Tom Tancredo R-CO), "moderate" Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), and most amusingly GOPUSA, the right-wing attack group that brought us the disgraced prostitute/"reporter" Jeff Gannon.
Seeing Texas-based GOPUSA's blaring headline that New Orleans is "Corrupt Down to the Bone!" made me think. If these champions of clean government really want to unroot the scourges of scandal, graft and dishonesty in our country, they would do well to shift their gaze from Louisiana, just one state to the west.
As Michael Lind has argued, Texas is the spiritual and political home of the modern GOP (and is very Southern to boot). A convincing case could be made that's it's also the epicenter of political corruption in our nation today. Let's take a quick tour through recent stars in the Lone Star State rogues gallery:
REP. TOM DELAY: Illegally funelled corporate money to influence races and rig districts; friend of sweatshop labor and gambling; considered so ethically challenged that 40% of his constituents want him to resign.
KARL ROVE: Tutored by unscrupulous attack man Lee Atwater, spread rumors that John McCain fathered a black daughter out of wedlock in 2000 South Carolina primary, has made frequent trips lately to grand jury.
ALBERTO GONZELEZ: Former Texas Supreme Court Justice, now White House counsel, raked in vast contributions from corporations then ruled in their favor when cases came before court.
ENRON: Cooked books, larded politicians with cash, took $7 billion in public money, screwed millions of consumers, investors and countless families' savings accounts. Legal drama with Bush friend "Kenny Boy" Lay still drags on.
HALLIBURTON: Bribery, kickbacks, defrauding taxpayers with hundreds of millions in overcharges, $1.8 billion "unaccounted for," serving spoiled food and contaminated water to the troops, profiteering in both Iraq and New Orleans (maybe Sen. Craig was right to make the connection).
We could do this for a while, but you get the picture. I think we've found the nest of squalor and crimes against the public interest that our leaders have been looking for.