USDA Gets a Real Clod

Some of George W.'s appointees are so ugly you wouldn't pull them behind a John Deere with 30 feet of rope. But the ugliest yet might be the man Bush just snuck into the ag department as our new undersecretary for rural development.

Start with the fact that as head of a large corporate farm in Iowa, Thomas Dorr was slipperier than an Enron executive. He rigged his books so he could get around the legal limits on federal farm payments, which allowed him to grab more crop subsidies from us taxpayers than he was entitled to receive. Twice, including this year, he got caught and was forced to return thousands of dollars to the government. Dorr just shrugs off his unethical conniving, saying he has "no idea if it's legal" and telling senators at his confirmation hearing that even if illegal it's ok, because "I have known many, many farmers who have done that over the years." Maybe, but they probably don't expect to get a top government appointment.

While Dorr loves federal farm money so much he'll cheat to get it, he hates the idea that any of his tax dollars might go to help other rural people. Three years ago, he sent a hot letter to Senator Tom Harkin denouncing a small tax that helps extend Internet service to rural areas, saying that "subsidy games" had turned Iowa into a "state of peasants." Odd attitude for a guy who wants a government job to administer programs that help the rural poor.

Speaking of attitudes, he once made the unfortunate comment that three Iowa counties were enjoying economic progress because of their homogeneity -- meaning white and Christian. Dorr also doesn't like small, as in small farmers. He says that 200,000-acre factory farms fit his vision of what agriculture should be.

This is Jim Hightower saying ... This guy should not be in the U.S. agriculture department, and he wouldn't be, since the Senate would not have confirmed such an obtuse clod. But, in August, George W. Bush made Dorr a recess appointment, sneaking him into office while the Senate was out of town.

#story_page_ below_article

Understand the importance of honest news ?

So do we.

The past year has been the most arduous of our lives. The Covid-19 pandemic continues to be catastrophic not only to our health - mental and physical - but also to the stability of millions of people. For all of us independent news organizations, it’s no exception.

We’ve covered everything thrown at us this past year and will continue to do so with your support. We’ve always understood the importance of calling out corruption, regardless of political affiliation.

We need your support in this difficult time. Every reader contribution, no matter the amount, makes a difference in allowing our newsroom to bring you the stories that matter, at a time when being informed is more important than ever. Invest with us.

Make a one-time contribution to Alternet All Access, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.

Click to donate by check.

DonateDonate by credit card
Donate by Paypal

Don't Sit on the Sidelines of History. Join Alternet All Access and Go Ad-Free. Support Honest Journalism.