Monday, October 09, 2006

Claiming Honor

Everybody's having so much fun with the Foley scandal that some other big stuff has slipped by, nearly unnoticed. First, Bob Woodward's book is, as everyone has already noticed, mostly the same old stuff, but from a source that seems to have had his eyes opened.

What? Bush lied, you say? What? Iraq's not going well? --You don't say.

The news there, really, is that Woodward wrote it. One of Bush's biggest enablers over the past six years, he finally recognizes that the Great Leader was a sham. Unfortunately, the new stuff in his book -- in particular, details about the administration's failures to deal with the threat of al Qaeda in the months before 9/11 -- has been drowned out by the more lurid news that the Republican Party leadership has been covering for the sexual exploitation of young congressional pages.

Of course, it has been interesting to discover that the anti-gay party is largely made up of closeted gays. I wonder when that list is going to hit the Internet...

Most interesting, though, is the implication of the sudden resignation of Karl Rove's assistant, Susan Ralston. The White House had claimed they hardly knew Jack Abramoff, finally admitted that he'd been there a couple of times, showed us a picture of him standing in the background -- remember, they had to draw a circle around his head, so we'd know which one was him.

Now it turns out he basically had an employee working full-time inside the White House. Susan Ralston was getting very nice bennies from Abramoff in exchange for information from the inside, and, apparently, was passing strategies and information in to the administration, as well.

This is not borderline scandalous, this is outrageous. Abramoff was a crook, flat out. And he wasn't just hanging around the free food at the President's parties, he had an office and staff right there, in Karl Rove's section of the White House.

This lady didn't even bother to say she had to spend more time with her family. The news got out, she quit. Fast as Foley.

The Post nailed it pretty good yesterday:
REMEMBER WHEN President Bush promised to restore honor and integrity to the Oval Office? He doesn't either, it would seem. A report by the House Government Reform Committee, based on three years of e-mails and billing records from disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff's former law firm, detailed how Mr. Abramoff and his team billed clients for hundreds of contacts with White House officials and dispensed coveted tickets to sporting events and concerts to favored officials, including adviser Karl Rove and Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman, then the White House political director.

A particular recipient of Mr. Abramoff's favors was his former assistant, Susan B. Ralston. She had gone to the White House to work for Mr. Rove but stayed in close touch with her former boss -- more than half of Mr. Abramoff's 66 contacts with the White House were with her. Mr. Abramoff turned to her as a conduit to Mr. Rove and others, seeking her help in placing allies in government or obtaining other favors, not always successfully. Ms. Ralston, in turn, used Mr. Abramoff as a personal Ticketmaster service, taking free tickets to Bruce Springsteen and Andrea Bocelli concerts, Capitals, Wizards and Orioles games. When Ms. Ralston was looking for four floor seats for a Wizards game -- valued at $1,300 -- Mr. Abramoff emailed back, "For you? Anything!"

You might think a White House worried about honor and integrity would want to look more closely at Mr. Abramoff's dealings. You might think it would be concerned about whether Ms. Ralston violated the rules that prohibit administration officials from taking gifts valued at more than $20, though there is an exception for gifts based on preexisting friendships. You might think it would want to make clear that -- whether technically permitted by the rules or not -- this is unacceptable behavior from government officials.

Not this White House, which has been resolutely incurious about Mr. Abramoff's activities and equally unwilling to provide information about it -- making it impossible to know how many of the reported contacts are classic Abramoff puffery and how many real. "Nothing more will come from the report, no further fallout from the report," White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said Friday. 'No Further Fallout'

Ah, that old word "incurious" again. I think that's the one that'll follow him. Like "Honest Abe." "Incurious George."

There's more, you might enjoy it.

It's really that first sentence that says it all. Bush promised to restore honor and integrity.

Look, anybody can screw up. Everybody has good intentions. Some people try harder than others, some people talk about it more than others. And, sadly, there seems to be an inverse correlation between those two things.

Why would it be, that those who talk most about "morality" and "values" and even "honor" and "integrity" are the very ones who have the least of any of these qualities?

This is the issue we face in Montgomery County, as we struggle to put together an accurate and fair sex-ed curriculum. We have a group of people howling about values and morality, but we have caught them lying countless times, caught them pulling dirty tricks -- here, try this, try this web site: See what I mean? Is that the morality they're bragging about, buying up a domain name just like ours and pointing it at their own site? They've lied about what's in the curriculum, they lied about planning to sue, they lie about what we say and who we're associated with ... anything. They have neither values nor morals, neither honor nor integrity. These are just code-words, in the President's administration and in the betterthanyou movement from top to bottom. They want you to think they have honor, they have morals, and you don't.

When you get to the bottom of it, we all want the same things. We want our kids to be safe, happy, well-informed. We want to preserve innocence in their young years, and draw them into the baffling dilemmas of adulthood at a bearable pace. We want our children to grow up to be moral, to have pure values, to have honor and integrity. People on both sides want that.

But one side claims the title for themselves, and accuses the other side of being immoral, valueless, dishonorable, lacking integrity. It seems that the very act of doing that, the very act of claiming superiority for yourself, somehow puts you at risk, even as you pull it around your shoulders you forfeit your right to wrap yourself in that particular warm blanket. It is as if the claim voids itself, saying it out loud makes it not-true.

Has ever an honorable man tried to convince the world of his own honor? Do moral people go around telling everyone how moral they are?

I don't know why it's like that, but it seems to be a fundamental rule of human nature: morality, values, honor, integrity are titles that have to be earned, that are bestowed by others. Never trust anyone who claims these things for themselves.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Of course, it has been interesting to discover that the anti-gay party is largely made up of closeted gays."

We've heard alot of lies from TTF but this one's a whopper!

October 09, 2006 9:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

that one was H.A.

October 09, 2006 9:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"It's not excusing Foley's sins to note that he wasn't the first--or the worst--predator in congressional history. Some of these guys have actually been re-elected. Brooklyn DEMOCRAT Fred Richmond admitted soliciting sex from a 16-year-old boy in 1978; he apologized and won 77% of the vote that fall. More famously, Gerry Studds, another DEMOCRAT, served in Congress for 13 years after admitting he had sex with a 17-year-old."

October 10, 2006 12:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, yeah, Anon, I forgot -- a DEMOCRAT once did something wrong, too. And, I forget, the whole party covered up for him, or not? Do you remember? The Democrats re-arranged the whole government so that their guy didn't get caught, was that right? And, that wasn't thirty years ago, was it?

Thank you so much for refreshing our memories. That was so relevant.


October 10, 2006 7:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here are some more incidents of Congressional sexcapades, starting with BOTH of the Congressmen who were censured for sexual misconduct in 1983:

"On July 14, 1983 the House Ethics Committee concluded that Rep. Dan Crane (R-Ill.) and Rep. Gerry Studds (D-Mass.) had engaged in sexual relationships with minors, specifically 17-year-old congressional pages. In Crane's case, it was a 1980 relationship with a female page and in Studds's case, it was a 1973 relationship with a male page. Both representatives immediately pleaded guilty to the charges and the committee recommended reprimand for the two.

However, Rep. Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) demanded their expulsion [citation needed]. On July 20, 1983, the House voted for censure nearly unanimously[1], the first time that censure had been imposed for sexual misconduct. Crane, who subsequently apologized for his transgression, lost his bid for reelection in 1984.

Studds admitted "an error in judgment." While Studds has often been reported as having "turned his back on the House" as the House read its censure motion aloud,[2] contemporary reports made it clear that in contrast to Crane, who faced the House as the motion for his censure was read, Studds faced the Speaker who was actually reading the motion, with his back to the other members.[3] Also in contrast to Crane, who left the chamber after his censure, Studds rejoined the other members of the House after his censure was read.[3] He called a press conference with the former page, in which both stated that the young man, who was 17, consented. Studds, who had been 36 at the time, claimed he did not break any U.S. laws in what he called a "private relationship."[4][5][6] He continued to be reelected until his retirement in 1996.[7]"
"Misla Aldarondo Charged With Rape

August 16, 2002
Copyright © 2002 REUTERS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (Reuters) - The former speaker of Puerto Rico's House of Representatives was charged with rape on Thursday for an alleged assault on a 17-year-old girl who visited his home last month.

In a hearing that lasted most of the day, a judge found probable cause to arrest Edison Misla Aldarondo, a prominent member of the local Republican Party, on charges of rape, corrupting a minor and supplying drugs and alcohol to a minor.

Misla, 59, resigned his House seat in January after being indicted in October by U.S. authorities in an influence-peddling scheme surrounding the sale of a government hospital while he was House speaker. Misla has been free on bail pending his trial on the federal charges.

Also on Thursday, Justice Secretary Anabelle Rodriguez asked an independent prosecutor to investigate allegations that Misla has been molesting his step-daughter, also 17 and a friend of the alleged rape victim, for the last eight years.

Misla is a familiar political figure in the U.S. territory of 4 million people, having served more than 20 years as a representative for the San Juan district.

The 17-year-old girl alleged that Misla sexually assaulted her while she was visiting his step-daughter, a high school friend, on July 15, according to local news reports citing police and prosecution sources. She told prosecutors that Misla gave them prescription drugs and alcoholic beverages before the alleged attack, the reports said..."
"Jim Bunn, R-Ore

Claims to fame: Strong "family values" promoter; adulterer

Moral apex: With his success due in great part to support from the Christian Coalition, Bunn won his congressional seat, then immediately ditched his wife (and mother of his five children), married a staffer, and put his new wife on the state payroll for the unheard-of salary of $97,500."
Dan Burton, R-Ind.

"Secret lives of the Republicans, Part One

How Dan Burton outed himself in a preemptive strike against an upcoming Vanity Fair exposé.



(Editor's Note: First Dan Burton, now Helen Chenoweth. A confessional zeal seems to have seized Capitol Hill these days, and is threatening to grow into a flood now that the Starr Report has landed. Maybe soon it will even become fashionable to out oneself. Part One in a series of continuing reports.)

The words spoken on Aug. 31 sounded eerily familiar: an admission of regret, an attempt to deflect the moral issue by assurances that no law was broken, acknowledgment of pain caused to family, a dash of self-flagellation -- but no specifics, no formal apology and, finally, a burst of defiance. But unlike the prevaricator in chief's half-assed attempt at an apology and explanation for what we've known about all along, conservative Rep. Dan Burton, R.-Ind., wasn't responding to any public allegations.

Unnerved by the thoroughness with which independent journalist Russ Baker and others have been probing his apparently active life, Burton outed himself. Believing Baker's piece was going to be in the upcoming Vanity Fair, Burton decided to cryptically pseudo-confess a slew of past sins with a kind of preemptive strike. "If something comes out that you read about, that you think Danny shouldn't have done, I will own up to it. I won't lie about it. I will tell the truth," the congressman said, leaving one to wonder if he'd let us know what "it" was, should no story ever appear.

By week's end, Burton -- by now fearing that revelations were imminent in the daily Indianapolis Star -- further allowed that his definition of family values included an old adulterous affair followed by financial support of (but no personal contact with) an illegitimate son...."
"Others Fair Game for Scandal in Wake of Affair

By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, September 11, 1998; Page D01

Days after she began airing commercials urging President Clinton to resign over his affair with a White House intern, Idaho Rep. Helen Chenoweth yesterday acknowledged a long-term affair with a married man in the 1980s.

The two-term Republican's admission to the Idaho Statesman is the latest sign that the Monica Lewinsky imbroglio has transformed the media and political culture, opening the floodgates to the sort of sexual investigations that the press once largely avoided.

"Fourteen years ago, when I was a private citizen and a single woman, I was involved in a relationship that I came to regret, that I'm not proud of. . . . This was in my past, and I'm very sorry," Chenoweth, 60, said in a statement yesterday. "‚. . . I very much regret that this once-private episode is now causing our families pain once more.""

October 10, 2006 8:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anyone can read the Staff Report of the US House of Representatives Committee on Government Reform about Abramoff's contacts within the Bush White House.


"g) March 17, 2002
On March 18, Abramoff wrote in an e-mail that he was “sitting yesterday with Karl Rove … at the NCAA basketball game discussing Israel” when an e-mail about a suicide bomber attack came in.148 When Tony Rudy inquired on March 17, 2002, whether Abramoff got “anything interesting” out of Rove, Abramoff replied “Not really,” but that he “touched base on all issues,” including “about Jena.”149 Abramoff added:

he’s set to help us when we need it. … He’s a great guy. Told me anytime we need something just let him know through susan.150" Page 36

You remember Tony Rudy don't you?

October 10, 2006 10:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh no!

A lobbyist said he sat with Karl Rove at a basketball game and couldn't "get anything out of him".

How will civilization survive?

October 10, 2006 10:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Told me anytime we need something just let him know through susan"

October 10, 2006 11:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Told me anytime we need something just let him know through susan"

the kind of statement made a zillion times a year in this town

big deal

October 10, 2006 2:43 PM  

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