The Odor From Capitol Hill
From the NYTimes this morning:
As predicaments go for champions of family values, few can top the embarrassment suffered by Representative Curt Weldon when federal agents raided the home of his daughter, a Washington lobbyist, in search of evidence that the powerful lawmaker helped her with lucrative clients. The grand jury is still out on the investigation, and Mr. Weldon, a Pennsylvania Republican, says he is innocent. But with each fresh scandal, the tattooing of the G.O.P.-run 109th Congress continues in pre-election polls.
Voters had no sooner adjusted to the shock of seeing Representative Mark Foley, Republican of Florida, disgraced from office by his come-ons to Congressional pages than Bob Ney took his turn on the pre-election scandal smorgasbord. Representative Ney, Republican of Ohio, pleaded guilty to being a principal in the quid-pro-quo insiders’ market run by Jack Abramoff, the corrupt Republican lobbyist who is cooperating with investigators about his ties to Congress and the White House. Another Republican, former Representative Randy Cunningham of California, is already doing time. He sold his office in steering $70 million in contracts to companies that offered bribes ranging from a Rolls-Royce to a carpet emblazoned “Global War on Terror.”
It should be remembered that Speaker Dennis Hastert, now under fire in the Foley scandal, helped dampen any chance of in-House ethical controls in his failed attempt to save the career of former Majority Leader Tom DeLay, an Abramoff ally who is accused of political money laundering and is awaiting trial. The sight of the ossified ethics committee forced back to life by the Foley scandal is more pathetic than heartening. It’s small wonder that lawmakers feel empowered to make ethical stretches — like Representative John Doolittle’s boosting his own family’s value by having his wife designated a consultant and paying her a 15 percent commission off the top of his campaign kitty.
And, if that doesn't get your blood going, there's this from ReutersUK:
At least 68 U.S. troops have been killed in October — a pace, that if continues, would make it the deadliest month for U.S. forces since January 2005. At least 2,777 have died since the invasion in 2003.
After falling to 43 in July, the U.S. toll rose to 65 in August and to 71 in September. U.S. commanders, who have declared the fight for Baghdad the war's main effort, have conducted major security sweeps in the capital since August, massing neighbourhoods with troops to flush out militants.
Some 15,000 U.S. troops in Baghdad are focussing efforts in the sprawling capital on curbing death squads and other armed groups. U.S. commanders have attributed the rising death toll to more aggressive patrolling in Baghdad, the epicentre of sectarian violence that kills 100 people a day.
Or this, from the WaPo:
On desks around the West Wing sit digital clocks counting down the days and hours left in the Bush presidency, reminders to the White House staff to use the time left as effectively as possible. As of 8 a.m. today, those clocks will read 825 days, four hours. But if the elections go the way pollsters and pundits predict, they might as well read 20 days.
At least that would be the end of George W. Bush's presidency as he has known it. If Democrats win one or both houses of Congress on Nov. 7, the result will transform the remainder of Bush's time in office and dramatically shift the balance of power in Washington. Ending a dozen years basically passed in exile, congressional Democrats would have a chance to help steer the nation again — following a campaign spent mostly assailing Bush's vision rather than detailing their own.
To that I say, it's about damn time. Had enough? Then get up and get out the vote.