Wednesday, December 07, 2005
Comic of the Day
California's 'Duke' heads to the pokey
Washington infected with a culture of corruptionFor a crude bully who used to bray about lining up Democrats and anti-war protesters to be “shot,” Randy (Duke) Cunningham cried like a little baby the other day when he finally admitted taking millions in bribes from defense contractors.
Forced to resign his office immediately as part of his plea bargain with federal prosecutors, the once-powerful California Congressman, whose leverage derived from his chairmanship of an important defense subcommittee, was a dominant type in the Republican Party of this era.
During his career on Capitol Hill, Mr. Cunningham's style was loud, mindlessly reactionary and full of flag-waving bluster. He once described Bill Clinton as a “traitor” and compared Senator John Kerry to Jane Fonda on the House floor.
This hyper-patriotic scoundrel also turned out to be avaricious, deceptive and as eager to sell himself as a male escort. He misused his authority to steer federal contracts to the contractors who bribed him, and he doesn't seem to have hesitated to damage the national interest if his personal interests were served.
Among the items acquired by Mr. Cunningham, thanks to the illicit generosity of his friends in the defense industry, were a hillside mansion with pool in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.; a yacht called “The Dukestir”; a Rolls-Royce sedan, plus repairs; a 17th-century Louis-Philippe commode, along with assorted other antiques and Oriental carpets; and roughly $1.8 million in cash considerations, plus hundreds of thousands in the usual campaign contributions. He also avoided paying federal income taxes, as most crooks tend to do.
In short, he peddled his principles and his patriotism rather cheaply.
Yet while the disgraced Duke may be the most ostentatiously greedy member of the House, his sleazy story is but a single episode in the expanding saga of Republican scandal. As he pondered his next term-which he will serve in a federal correctional institution-another high-rolling crook on Capitol Hill confessed to corrupting Congress.
That would be Michael Scanlon, the former communications director for former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, who pleaded guilty to felony fraud for his role in helping super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff to relieve several Indian tribes of about $80 million while lobbying to improve their gambling businesses. The cooperation provided by Mr. Scanlon to the Justice Department is expected to embroil no fewer than a half-dozen other members of Congress and a squad of current and former staffers like him.
Many more politicians may ultimately be implicated in Mr. Abramoff's influence-peddling scam, however, with the slime rising to the top of the leadership both inside and outside the Congress. Former Christian Coalition director Ralph Reed profited handsomely from the Abramoff gambling boodle, as did Grover Norquist, the conservative strategist, lobbyist and unofficial aide to White House political boss Karl Rove. House Speaker Dennis Hastert performed favors for Abramoff clients and collected more than $100,000 in campaign contributions from the lobbyist's firm and clients since 2001.
On a single June evening two years ago, according to the Associated Press, the Speaker's Keep Our Majority political-action committee took in more than $20,000 from the Abramoff network at a fund-raiser in a Washington restaurant owned by the lobbyist. A week later, Mr. Hastert and several of his top deputies sent a letter to the Secretary of the Interior, asking her to disapprove a gambling license sought by a tribe competing with one of Mr. Abramoff's clients. While the Speaker's spokesman insists there was no connection between his actions and the money steered into his accounts, such indignant assertions now provoke knowing smiles even among Republicans. posted by Gary Williams at 9:38 PM | link |
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
The Christmas Monster
Comic of the day
Sunday, December 04, 2005
Apparently I'm All Right
Stroke Fails To Destroy Blog AuthorI apparently had a stroke Thursday (blood clot in my brain from blood leaking from capillaries on the right side of my head) -- my blood pressure was notably high when I came to the hospital Emergency Room -- 211/150 (preposterously high). Fortunately, my doctor's office recommended Wilson Memorial Hospital in Johnson City, NY, where they were able to confirm the stroke (via CAT scan of my head), and hospital doctors were able to treat the high blood pressure (they managed to knock it down to 120/90 on Saturday)using drugs (with automated blood pressure checks).
I'm going to call a doctor Monday for an appointment and take the priscriptions the doctors sent home with me, which will (hopefully, combined with diet changes) continue to knock down the high blood pressure. --Keep in touch-- (Left a message on Dr. Chung's machine, but no-one called back -- will try again today...) posted by Gary Williams at 8:46 PM | link |