Just Above Sunset
October 2, 2005 - Midweek Scandals - Handy Scorecard













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One of my friends in Brussels sent an email Wednesday asking what's up over here with all these scandals. This was prompted by news there of the indictment of house Republican leader Tom Delay on conspiracy charges. The charge is that he was part of a conspiracy to take corporate contributions to his general organization, money for rent and mailings and other general and administrative costs, quite legal in Texas, send the surplus to the state and nation Republican committees for their general and administrative costs, and the arrange for those group to make contributions of the identical amounts to his friends running for Republican congressional seats. Thus the corporations, which cannot, under Texas law, make contributions to individual candidates, got their money to the specific individuals through the backdoor. The money was "laundered" so to speak. Fungible. Look it up.

Basics:

DeLay Indicted in Texas Campaign Finance Probe (Newsday)
Texas Law Bans Corporate Cash in Campaigns (Washington Post)
US House leader DeLay resigns after indictment (CBC News, Canada)
Rep. DeLay Calls Indictment 'Baseless' (ABC News)

DeLay ranted about how political and silly the indictment was in a press statement Wednesday afternoon, followed by his appearing on Fox News then MSNBC saying the same thing - and one assumes he'll get around to every show he can. But then? See the Associated Press here: "The next step in the criminal proceedings against Republican leader Tom DeLay is a trip to Austin to be fingerprinted and photographed."

Now one assumes this fall-of-the-mighty was big breaking news in Western Europe as it confirms any number of things many over there think of our cowboy president - an incompetent who has surrounded himself with incompetents and corrupt, power-mad crooks, all of who tell him what he wants to hear and keep him insulated from the real world. Ha! The chickens are coming home to roost, or whatever they say in the version of French they speak in Belgium. I'll have to ask my friend about that. Les poulets viennent la maison au perchoir? Probably not.

Over here this is naturally a big deal. It may the start of a big power shift, the end of the Bush Era, a meme that has been growing, as noted here and here. And of course that has implications worldwide, even in Brussels.

So much has been said what more can be added here? There is other news. Like this - Woman suicide bomber marks possible new insurgent tactic in Iraq. And then, of interest as my nephew is in the Green Zone in Baghdad, there is this in the Washington Post: "A car bomber penetrated the heavily fortified Green Zone in the center of the capital on Tuesday but was stopped by U.S. Marines at a checkpoint before he was able to detonate the vehicle, the military said." Yes, that's where our embassy is, and where the new Iraqi parliament meets. My nephew has mentioned incoming mortar shells now and then, and circulars warning one could get kidnapped if not careful. Now someone got a car bomb past the gates. Well, it didn't go off.

But the news mid-week was the DeLay indictment. It even got equal time with hurricane stories. If you think of the disintegration of the Bush administration and the years of Republican rule as a drama (and if you assume that is what is happening) - this was a big climax in the plot. Everything suddenly changes, or becomes clear to all - cue the dramatic music (with French horns way up in the high register). Think of the movie "Jaws" - the thump-thump theme (who knew cellos could be so scary?) has you on edge, then the giant shark suddenly leaps out of the water right in your face, and you drop your popcorn. Well, maybe it's not that dramatic.

Of the thousands of comments out there on what happened, putting this is perspective, this one from Digby at Hullabaloo is short and sweet - and I added references in brackets if it's too short for some –

 

So, we have a federal probe implicating the president's number one political advisor and the vice president's chief of staff in the violation of laws protecting CIA agents and possibly lying to federal investigators. [The Rove-Novak-Plame thing]

We have a multi-pronged investigation into a lobbyist who happens to be a very close associate of Tom DeLay, Grover Norquist, Ralph Reed, Karl Rove and the entire Republican leadership going back to their youth as members of the College republicans. This lobbyist is now implicated in a mafia murder plot and has been arrested on charges affiliated with that crime. [See this in the Washington Post - Consultants Tied To DeLay Ally Jack Abramoff Charged With Murder]

A member of the Bush administration who is a good friend and associate of all of the above was arrested this week for lying to the Feds about his good friend the lobbyist. [David Hossein Safavian, head of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy resigned, then arrested and led away in handcuffs - noted here.]

The majority leader of the Senate is now officially under investigation by the SEC and federal prosecutors for insider trading involving potentially many millions of dollars. [See this: "The Securities and Exchange Commission, which is examining a stock sale by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, has upgraded its initial informal inquiry to a formal investigation."

The majority leader of the House was just indicted by a Texas Grand jury for violating laws prohibiting the use of corporate money in campaigns.

I am so relieved that the Republicans restored honor and integrity to Washington. There hasn't been even one blow job in that town since they took power.

 

And there's Tim Grieve over at SALON.COM with a more complete list:

 

Tom DeLay: The House majority leader was indicted today on a felony charge that he conspired to launder corporate campaign contributions through the national Republican Party in Washington and back to legislative candidates in Texas.

Bill Frist: The Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission are both investigating the Senate majority leader's sale of shares in his family's healthcare business just before the stock's value plummeted in June.

Jack Abramoff: The Republican super-lobbyist, known to have bragged about his contacts with Karl Rove, was indicted in Florida last month along with his business partner on wire fraud and conspiracy fraud charges related to their purchase of a fleet of gambling boats. This week, three men were arrested - including two who received payments from Abramoff's business partner - in the Mafia-style killing of the man from whom Abramoff and his partner purchased the gambling boats.

David Safavian: The president's chief procurement officer stepped down two weeks ago and was arrested last week on charges of lying to investigators and obstructing a separate federal investigation into Abramoff's dealings in Washington. Some Republicans who received campaign contributions from Safavian are divesting themselves of his money now.

Timothy Flanigan: The president's nominee to serve as deputy attorney general has announced that he will have to recuse himself from the Abramoff investigation if he is confirmed because he hired Abramoff to help the company where he works - scandal-ridden Tyco International Ltd. - lobby DeLay and Rove on tax issues.

Michael Brown: The president's FEMA director resigned earlier this month amid complaints about his handling of Hurricane Katrina and charges that he and other FEMA officials got their jobs based on political connections and cronyism rather than competence or qualifications.

Bob Taft: The Republican governor of Ohio pleaded guilty last month to criminal charges based on his failure to report gifts as required by state law, among them golfing trips paid for by Tom Noe, a major Republican fundraiser who is the subject of his own scandal regarding the state's investment in $50 million in rare coins, some of which have mysteriously gone missing.

Randy "Duke" Cunningham: A federal grand jury in San Diego is investigating allegations that the veteran Republican congressman received financial favors from a defense contractor who allegedly bought Cunningham's house at an inflated price and let him live for free on the contractor's 42-foot yacht.

Ernie Fletcher: The Republican governor of Kentucky has refused to answer questions from a grand jury investigating whether his administration based hiring decisions on political considerations rather than merit. Fletcher has pardoned nine people in the probe - including the chairman of Kentucky's Republican party - and fired members of his staff.

George Ryan: Federal prosecutors made their opening statements this week in the criminal trial of the former Republican governor of Illinois. Ryan and a friend, Chicago insurance adjuster Lawrence Warner, are charged with racketeering conspiracy, mail fraud, tax fraud and lying to federal agents.

And then there's Karl Rove and Scooter Libby. The grand jury investigating the outing of Valerie Plame is scheduled to complete its work in late October. While neither Rove nor Libby is apparently a "target" of the investigation - and while the "corruption" in Plamegate is moral rather than financial - both men are known to have played a role in revealing or confirming Plame's identity in conversations with reporters, which may be a crime under federal law.

 

Go to any news site and you can find all the stories. The wheels really are falling off.

Perhaps some young entrepreneurial sort will start selling scorecards so you can track this all. Out here at Oscar time the Los Angeles Times offers a handy checklist of all the nominees in all the categories - you pull it out of the entertainment section and mark your predictions of the winners, and when you have everyone over for the Oscar party everyone can pull out his or here checklist and match their guesses with what actually happens, and see who wins. Something like that might be useful here. (I came in second at one of those parties a few years ago.)

Ah well, we'll se what happens with all this. Who goes to jail, who survives it all, who get pardoned, who gets a medal, and where the poll numbers go - and who gets voted off the island. It's actually entertaining in a perverse sort of way.

But my friend in Brussels - actually I have two friends there - probably hasn't heard of the local scandal out here. This one is amazing.

Hospital Skipped Its Own Patients
St. Vincent bypassed nine of its own patients to transplant organ into a Saudi national. The state medical board begins a probe of two doctors.
Charles Ornstein and Rong-Gong Lin II - Los Angeles Times - September 28, 2005

Calling Michael Moore!

 

Surgeons at St. Vincent Medical Center bypassed nine of the hospital's own patients on a regional liver transplant waiting list before they inappropriately gave the organ to a Saudi national who ranked 52nd, hospital officials said Tuesday.

But hospital officials said they were at a loss to explain why St. Vincent staff allegedly violated basic rules governing organ transplants in the September 2003 procedure and then falsified documentation to cover up their actions.

"They have not provided us with a motivation," hospital President and Chief Executive Gus Valdespino said at a news conference, referring to the two physicians who ran the liver transplant program. The Los Angeles hospital has terminated the program's relationship with the doctors, he said, and has indefinitely suspended liver transplants.

What is clear is that the Saudi national received a liver that should have gone to a patient at UCLA Medical Center who was much higher on the transplant list. Moreover, the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia paid St. Vincent $339,000 for the Saudi patient's transplant and hospital care, plus undisclosed fees to the doctors, according to the hospital. That amount is about 25% to 30% higher than the hospital would have been paid by insurance companies and government programs.

The embassy routinely pays for medical care for Saudi residents in the United States, though fewer nationals have sought care in this country since Sept. 11, 2001, because of the difficulty in obtaining visas, embassy spokesman Nail Al-Jubeir said. He said the embassy would "absolutely not" try to move a patient up the waiting list.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, the Medical Board of California indicated that it had opened an investigation of Dr. Richard R. Lopez Jr., the St. Vincent program's former director, and Dr. Hector C. Ramos, the former assistant director. Both retain privileges at the hospital, although hospital officials said their status was being reviewed by the medical staff.

An attorney for Ramos said her client had done nothing wrong. ...

 

Right.  Sometimes it's good to be a Saudi.

Yes, a few years ago I managed a department of systems analysts and programmers that maintained the financial systems for this and ten other hospitals that were then part of Catholic Heathcare West - accounts payable, general ledger, materiel, payroll and such things. I've been to many a meeting at Saint Vincent Medical Center. This is just odd. Glad I'm not there now, downloading financial records for the Medical Board of California, for any attorney with a subpoena, and for the feds. Yipes!

What a world. I understand that Osama fellow we haven't been able to find for years has a kidney problem and undergoes dialysis several time a week. If he need a new kidney, and could get to Los Angeles - well, one never knows.

Oh, and by the way, the New York Times reporter, Judy Miller, was, in the middle of the week, in jail for refusing to reveal her sources - this grand jury investigating the outing of Valerie Plame wants to know who told her what, or what she told them, or something. She may be part of the crime, setting it all up - or not. John Bolton, a man who hated Valerie Plame's husband, Joe Wilson, has visited her in jail, taking time from his duties as our new insult-everyone ambassador to the UN. And she's a martyr for press rights, it seems. It very, very confusing, and mysterious. And it may be a joke.  But by the end of the week she was out.

Here's the Hollywood take on it - Sunset Boulevard and Laurel Avenue, Wednesday, September 28, at the Laugh Factory of all places - where she belongs -

Free Judy Miller - Laugh Factory on Sunset

Free Judy Miller - Laugh Factory on Sunset































 
 
 
 

Copyright 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
 
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