Saturday, September 1, 2007
Higher Standards For Our Public Officials?
In my humble, yet correct, opinion, it’s high time we went back to holding our elected officials to a higher standard of conduct and moral/ethical behavior. I’m no angel, not by any means, but I’m also not in the spotlight representing millions of constituents, either. The antics of some of these clowns don’t border on the criminal; they are criminal. Growing up, the members of your Congressional delegation, Representatives and Senators both, were held in high esteem and lauded for their selfless service to the country and to the people who elected them. Nowadays, politicos are so worried about perpetuating themselves and securing their power bases that integrity is a foreign concept, and Caligula himself would blanch at what the good people of America have sent to Washington to represent their interests.
Most recently, here in the last week the good Senator from Idaho, Larry Craig (R), was found to have been arrested for cruising for gay sex in an airport bathroom in Minneapolis. Of course he denies it, despite pleading guilty to a charge of disturbing the peace and paying a fine. Granted, the poor fellow could just have been extremely confused at being apprehended by an undercover cop, who could have misconstrued Senator Craig’s responses to his bait signals, but the public bathroom in question is reputed to be known nationwide as being a good spot to cruise, and it was nowhere near Craig’s departure gate. Mister Craig, I don’t care whether or not you’re gay. To me that’s a non-issue. But seeking out anonymous bootie calls in airport johns is just sleazy. And then to plead guilty hoping t would never come to light and then try to lie & retract your way out of it is just sad. Just come out with the truth.
In July, Senator David Vitter (R-Louisiana), was implicated in a prostitution scandal. His phone number was found in a list of clients of the so-called “DC Madam”, Deborah Jeane Palfrey. A couple of the calls allegedly took place during roll calls when Vitter was serving in the House of Representatives. It was also during his tenure in the House that Vitter is alleged to have had an 11-month adulterous affair with a New Orleans prostitute named Wendy Cortez. Ironically, Vitter had replaced Bob Livingston in the House after Livingston resigned following his own adultery scandal. I guess you Cajun boys can’t keep it in your pants, huh? If you have an unhappy, unfulfilling marriage, get out of it. Divorce has less of a stigma than cheating or whoring.
Also in beleaguered Louisiana, there’s Democratic Representative William Jefferson, who stands accused of accepting bribes, among several other charges. Federal agents found $90,00000 in cash hidden in his freezer. Cold hard cash, indeed. This is the same William Jefferson who, in the midst of the turmoil surrounding Hurricane Katrina, made up the excuse of wanting to tour the New Orleans district that he represents, and took half a dozen MP’s in a 5-ton truck on an excursion that, lo and behold, took them right to Jefferson’s house. Fancy that…
The water reached to the third step of Jefferson's house, a military source familiar with the incident told ABC News, and the vehicle pulled up onto Jefferson's front lawn so he wouldn't have to walk in the water. Jefferson went into the house alone, the source says, while the soldiers waited on the porch for about an hour. Finally, according to the source, Jefferson emerged with a laptop computer, three suitcases, and a box about the size of a small refrigerator, which the enlisted men loaded up into the truck. The truck got stuck, and the soldiers signaled to nearby helicopters for aid. A Coast Guard helicopter pilot saw the signal and flew to Jefferson's home. The chopper was already carrying four rescued New Orleans residents at the time. After spending approximately 45 minutes with Jefferson, who refused to go aboard the aircraft (probably because he didn't want to leave his stash behind), the helicopter went on to rescue three additional New Orleans residents before it ran low on fuel and was forced to end its mission. The Louisiana National Guard then sent a second five-ton truck to rescue the first truck, and Jefferson and his personal items were returned to the Superdome.
You, sir, are self-serving and just plain dirty. Don’t lie and say you’re checking on constituents when you just wanted to retrieve your own gear, and held up real rescues for people who needed rescuing. I won't even get into your bribery problems.
Last year, Florida Republican Representative Mark Foley resigned after it came out that he had been sending dirty emails and text messages to teenaged Congressional pages. Foley had sent email messages from his personal AOL account to a former Congressional page, asking the page to send a photo of himself to Foley, among other things. The original news report prompted another page to come forward and ABC News reported that it had seen excerpts of sexually explicit instant messages allegedly sent by Foley that made repeated references to sexual organs and acts. The revelations prompted even more pages to come forward, alleging a history of inappropriate conduct by Foley dating back at least 10 years. Sounds like serial sexual predation and borderline pedophilia. Had you not been a Congressman (who ironically pushed a lot of anti-porn and anti-sex offender legislation) we’d have eventually seen you being busted by Chris Hansen on Dateline NBC.
But the one member of Congress who really broke my heart wih his corruption was Representative Randy “Duke” Cunningham, a childhood hero of mine. During the Vietnam War, Cunningham and his Radar Intercept Officer, Willy "Irish" Driscoll, became the only Navy aces in the war, flying an F-4 Phantom from aboard USS Constellation and recording five confirmed kills, making him one of two U.S. pilots to attain "ace" status in that war.
Cunningham resigned from the House on November 28, 2005 after pleading guilty to accepting at least $2.4 million in bribes and underreporting his income for 2004's taxes. He pleaded guilty to federal charges of conspiracy to commit bribery, mail fraud, wire fraud, and tax evasion. On March 3, 2006, he received a sentence of eight years and four months in prison and an order to pay $1.8 million in restitution. The only reason he didn’t receive the full ten years asked for by the prosecution was that at 64 years of age & sufferring from prostate cancer, it was unlikely that Cunningham would survive his entire sentence.
Commander Cunningham, you spent 21 years in the Navy. You were awarded the Navy Cross, two Silver Stars, fifteen Air Medals, and two Purple Hearts. You were a TOPGUN instructor. You downed 5 enemy aircraft and became a jet ace. As a legislator, you sponsored legislation to keep people from desecrating the American flag and a bill that later allowed law enforcement officers from any jurisdiction to carry a firearm anywhere within the jurisdiction of the United States for their own safey. And in the end, Duke, you sold yourself. You let me down, sir.
These are just a few of the stories that are out there. Doubtless there are more awaiting discovery. We send these people to Washington to represent us, to look out for our interests, and enact legislation that is supposed to keep us the leaders of the free world. An august body of 535 people who supposedly represent we the people, but if such a high percentage of them are this corrupted by sex, money, and power, what does that say about us as a country?