Wednesday, November 07, 2007

your tax dollars hard at work. . .

. . . once again lining Bush family pockets.

President George W. Bush’s brother, Neil, is in the news again. You remember Neil: Neil, whose Silverado Savings and Loan cost US taxpayers over $1 Billion in bailout baksheesh. Neil, who drew $300,000 in salary from a company called Apex Energy that never found any energy to sell, and went belly up, defaulting on its federally backed SBA loans. Neil, who used family connections to start Ignite! Learning, a company that makes the Curriculum on Wheels (known as “the Cow”—I swear!), which is basically a modern-day AV cart that plays a dumbed-down version of social studies to middle school students.

The Cow teaches the Seminole Wars as a football game between “the Jacksons” and “the Seminoles” (witty, I know!), and recounts the Continental Congress in rap form:

It was 55 delegates from 12 states
Took one hot Philadelphia summer to create
A perfect document for their imperfect times
Franklin, Madison, Washington -- a lot of the cats
Who used to be in the Continental Congress way back.

(I promise you, I did not make that up.)

Ignite! got a big boost last year when Neil’s mother, Barbara, donated six of the $3,800 Cows to Texas schools that were populated primarily with children that had to flee the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Shortly after accepting the gifts Cows, the schools got an e-mail from Neil, informing them that they would have to pay an annual $1,000 “maintenance charge” if they wanted to keep using their “gifts.”

No problem! The New York Times is reporting that the Katy School District west of Houston has used a quarter-million dollars of state and federal Katrina relief money to buy more Cows from Ignite! (!)

But that’s not what got Neil back in the news. As the Times reveals:

The inspector general of the Department of Education has said he will examine whether federal money was inappropriately used by three states to buy educational products from a company owned by Neil Bush, the president’s brother.

John P. Higgins Jr., the inspector general, said he would review the matter after a group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, detailed at least $1 million in spending from the No Child Left Behind program by school districts in Texas, Florida and Nevada to buy products made by Mr. Bush’s company. . . .

(I suppose this would be a good point to make some joke about Cows milking us.)

Of course, it’s not just that Neil has exploited his connections to once again suck on the federal teat (no more cow jokes, I promise), his educational products also just plain suck:

Jay Spuck, a former curriculum director for the [Houston Independent School] district, has criticized spending on the Ignite product, saying: “It’s not helping kids at all. It’s not helping teachers. The only way Neil has gotten in is by his name.”

But, perhaps I am being a bit shortsighted, criticizing the Bush clan just because money for No Child Left Behind isn’t going to American children. It is quite possible that Neil’s share is helping kids abroad, like the young Thai and Chinese girls that apparently just show up at Neil’s door whenever he travels to their countries. . . .

Like I said up top: your tax dollars hard at work.

(cross-posted to Daily Kos)

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