Sunday, October 15, 2006


We don't really want to know what President Bush is attempting to measure as he jokes with disgraced Republican Congressman Mark Foley

"What a piece of work is man! how noble in reason! how infinite in faculty! in form and moving how express and admirable! in action how like an angel! in apprehension how like a god! the beauty of the world, the paragon of animals!"

William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act II, Scene II

Here is a quiz for the politically astute.

In the last 12 months, what political party saw its Congressmen and/or top White House officials:

(a) Plead guilty to accepting over $2 million in bribes from defense contractors for putting earmarks into Pentagon spending bills, using the money to build a house worth millions, buy a yacht, a Rolls Royce, and install gold encrusted plumbing fixtures?

(b) Plead guilty in Federal Court to accepting bribes from Jack Abramoff (former chairman of the College Republican National Committee) through Michael Scanlon, former top aide to the Majority Leader of the House?

(c) Resign one day after ABC News published e-mails and instant messages sent to 16 year old male pages, but at least three years after top members of the House, including the Speaker, Dennis Hastert, were informed of this Florida Congressman’s inappropriate behavior?

(d) Resign after being indicted by a Texas grand jury for illegally funneling corporate money to local political races?

(e) Use his official position to influence the sales of U.S. made airplanes and parts to foreign countries prohibited from receiving them?

(f) Resign after disclosure of over several hundred White House meetings between this public official and convicted serial briber Jack Abramoff?

(g) Disclosed as the person who met with Jack Abramoff in the White House and got an official fired from his State Department job negotiating agreements with tiny Pacific island nations — even when his own bosses wanted him to stay.

(h) Distanced themselves from President Bush on what issue and why?


(a) California Republican Randall “Duke” Cunningham pleaded guilty to taking more than $2 million in bribes in a criminal conspiracy involving at least three defense contractors.
After entering his plea in San Diego, California, last November, the eight-term California Republican said he was "deeply sorry." "The truth is I broke the law, concealed my conduct and disgraced my office," Asked by U.S. District Judge Larry Burns if he had accepted cash and gifts and then tried to influence the Defense Department on behalf of the donors, Cunningham said, "Yes, your honor.”

(b) Republican Representative Bob Ney of Ohio pleaded guilty October 13, 2006, in the Jack Abramoff influence-peddling investigation, the first lawmaker to confess to crimes in an election-year scandal that has stained the Republican-controlled Congress and the Bush administration. GOP leaders said Ney will be expelled from the House if he doesn't quit by the time they return to Washington after the Nov. 7 elections. Appearing in federal court on charges of conspiracy and making false statements, Ney acknowledged taking trips, tickets, meals and campaign donations from Abramoff in return for official actions on behalf of his clients.

On January 3, 2006 Abramoff pleaded guilty to fraud, tax evasion and conspiracy to bribe public officials in a deal that requires him to provide evidence about members of Congress.

(c) Florida’s Republican Congressman Mark Foley, whose inappropriate advances on 16 year old male House pages was reported to House Speaker Dennis Hastert and the House Ethics Committee Republican Chairman- but not to the Democrats on the committee. Two high-ranking House Republicans have said they told Hastert about the behavior, and another lawmaker says he told Hastert's staff. Kirk Fordham, Foley's former chief of staff, said that he repeatedly alerted Hastert's staff in 2003 to complaints that the Florida lawmaker was showing inappropriate interest in male pages. ABC news published the following instant message exchanges (“Maf” is Mark A. Foley):

“Maf54 (7:37:27 PM): how my favorite young stud doing

(16 year old male page) (7:37:46 PM): tired and sore

Maf54 (7:39:32 PM): you need a massage

(16 year old male page) (7:41:57 PM): ugh tomorrow i have the first day of lacrosse practice

Maf54 (7:42:27 PM): love to watch that

Maf54 (7:42:33 PM): those great legs running

(16 year old male page) (7:46:57 PM): my last gf and i broke up a few weeks agi

Maf54 (7:47:11 PM): good so your getting horny

(16 year old male page) (7:47:29 PM): lol…a bit

Maf54 (7:48:00 PM): did you spank it this weekend yourself

(16 year old male page) (7:48:04 PM): no

(16 year old male page) (7:48:16 PM): been too tired and too busy”

Maf54 (7:54:31 PM): where do you unload it

(16 year old male page) (7:54:36 PM): towel

Maf54 (7:54:43 PM): really

Maf54 (7:55:02 PM): completely naked?

(16 year old male page) (7:55:12 PM): well ya

Maf54 (7:55:21 PM): very nice

(16 year old male page) (7:55:24 PM): lol

Maf54 (7:55:51 PM): cute butt bouncing in the air”

(d) Texas Republican Tom DeLay, a/k/a “The Hammer,” who resigned his seat and position as House Majority leader after being indicted in Texas for money laundering.

(e) Bob Ney, again (the facts of his Federal District Court plea agreement are publicly available at:

(f) Susan Ralston, a special assistant to President Bush who was a key aide to presidential political strategist Karl Rove (and who used to work for Abramoff), submitted her resignation October 6, 2006, after a congressional report showed she had extensive contacts with disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff and accepted tickets to sporting events and concerts from him.

(g) Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman. At the time he got State Department official Allen Stayman fired at Jack Abramoff’s request, Mehlman was the political director for President Bush, working in the White House.

(h) Republicans running for re-election, and the issue is Iraq. In spite of contentions by top Republicans that Baghdad is no more dangerous than any major American city- such as Washington D.C.- reporters on the ground in Baghdad wonder:

“Some readers and viewers think we journalists are exaggerating about the situation in Iraq. I can almost understand that because who would want to believe that things are this bad? Particularly when so many people here started out with such good intentions.

I’m more puzzled by comments that the violence isn’t any worse than any American city. Really? In which American city do 60 bullet-riddled bodies turn up on a given day? In which city do the headless bodies of ordinary citizens turn up every single day? In which city would it not be news if neighborhood school children were blown up? In which neighborhood would you look the other way if gunmen came into restaurants and shot dead the customers?

Day-to-day life here for Iraqis is so far removed from the comfortable existence we live in the United States that it is almost literally unimaginable.

It’s almost impossible to describe what it feels like being stalled in traffic, your heart pounding, wondering if the vehicle in front of you is one of the three or four car bombs that will go off that day. Or seeing your husband show up at the door covered in blood after he was kidnapped and beaten.

I don’t know a single family here that hasn’t had a relative, neighbor or friend die violently. In places where there’s been all-out fighting going on, I’ve interviewed parents who buried their dead child in the yard because it was too dangerous to go to the morgue.

Imagine the worst day you’ve ever had in your life, add a regular dose of terror and you’ll begin to get an idea of what it’s like every day for a lot of people here.”

Jane Arraf, NBC News Correspondent


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