The Hightower Lowdown

Nancy delivers Victory for cell-phone companies; Rick Perry admits he's not up to the job.

Nancy's Corporate Friends

Nancy Victory. Sounds like the name of a comic book heroine, doesn't it?

But, no, she's for real, and whether you think she's a heroine or not depends on which end of the cell phone you're on. If you're on the consumer end, not. But if you're an executive or lobbyist for Cingular, SBC, Verizon, or one of the other big sellers of cell plans, definitely yes!

Nancy Victory heads an obscure federal outfit called the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. Sounds boring. But having this position makes her the point person on telecommunications policy for the Bushites. There's lots of dough riding on the policy decisions she makes -- dough that eventually comes out of the pockets of us cell phoners.

Now, let's all guess who Ms. Victory worked for before going inside Bush's government. Of course, the cell-phone industry! She was a lawyer with a big firm in Washington that represents such outfits as -- surprise! -- Verizon, SBC, etc.

After Bush appointed her, Nancy was celebrated at a private reception by her old corporate pals. The party was hosted and paid for by the top lobbyists for -- you got it -- Cingular, SBC, and Motorola. Only 10 days after this gala, Nancy zipped off a formal agency letter to the FCC, demanding that it immediately repeal a regulation that had long bothered her friends in the industry. In essence, what this repeal would do is to let the big players divide the territory and begin eliminating pesky competitors.

Two weeks after her letter, the FCC obliged, doing just as Nancy asked. Who says government is slow and unresponsive! Confronted about the curious chronology at play here, Nancy indignantly says that any suggestion that there was a connection is "ridiculous." She also refused to identify the industry guests who attended her reception, saying simply: "They're my friends."

Exactly. And that's what's wrong -- Nancy and her friends are running government as though it's their private party.

Texas' No-Can-Do Governor

You've got to admit that George W. is smarter than he was given credit for at first. But that's not saying a heck of a lot, since he was basically credited with having the IQ of sushi.

Still, next to his successor as Texas governor, Bush is practically in the Mensa class. Rick Perry couldn't spell IQ if you spotted him the I. For proof, check out an astonishing statement he made just before taking office for his first elected term. While most incoming governors are brimming with optimism and talking about "getting things done," our Texas leader said that the people shouldn't expect him to deal with the state's big problems!

Yes, said the sitting guv, our state is saddled with an inadequate, regressive tax system that can't even meet the minimal public needs, and yes, funding for our educational system is in crisis. But, he asserted, with a deer-in-the-headlights look in his eyes, he was new on the job, as was the new Republican lieutenant governor and speaker of the House, so they should get a pass on coping with these big ones.

Here's what he said verbatim: "To put these newly elected individuals in and say, 'We are going to fix something that has been broken or substantially bent for some period of time,' is a bit unreasonable." Gee, I wish he had mentioned that when he was running for governor last year. Maybe, instead of him, we could have found someone who actually felt up to doing the job.

OK, Perry's newly elected -- but he was acting governor for two years, was lieutenant governor for six years, held a statewide office for eight years, and was in the Legislature before that. In fact, he's spent his entire professional life in state government. Likewise, the new Republican speaker of the House has been in the Legislature since 1969! If they're not ready now ... when would they be?

Meanwhile, our state stumbles along in its fiscal crisis with no one home at the top. How about we put these goof-offs on piece rate, like chicken pluckers? If they don't pluck the chickens, they don't get paid.

For more information on Jim Hightower's work – and to subscribe to his award-winning monthly newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown – visit You can hear his radio commentaries on KOOP Radio, 91.7FM, weekdays at 10:58am and 12:58pm.

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Nancy Victory, Cingular, SBC, Verizon, cell phones, National Telecommunications and Information Administration, George W. Bush, Motorola, Federal Communcations Commission, FCC, Rick Perry

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