Category Archives: House of Representatives

Ain’t nothing better than having folk you pay, steal from you

The Fall of Dennis Hastert

There was a time in the not so distance past when Dennis Hastert was just a few steps away from the presidency. Now, the former Speaker of the House is in a world of badness and hurt.

First, remember Congressman Mark Foley and Dennis Hastert? I covered the issue pretty well – here, here and here. Talking Points Memo has a nice summary – Ever since yesterday’s shocking revelations, it seemed like news like this would come out as the underlying bad act behind Denny Hastert’s public downfall. Because of that, the almost decade old Mark Foley scandal has rushed back into the minds of everyone who covered that story at the time. To review, if you weren’t around at the time, in September 2006, in the death throes of the old Republican majority, it emerged that Congressman Mark Foley had had sexual interactions with male members of the Congressional page program, i.e. high school age students. Foley was not out as a gay man, though I think it was widely known or at least assumed that he was gay.

It now appears that the former Congressman paid $3.5 million in hush money to have some of his old sexual misconduct swept under the rug.

Hastert was indicted Thursday on charges of structuring bank withdrawals to avoid federal reporting requirements and lying to the FBI about those withdrawals. The former speaker allegedly had withdrawn $1.7 million in cash out of $3.5 million he agreed to pay an unidentified individual in compensation for “prior misconduct” on Hastert’s part that had occurred years earlier.

I really will not be posting much on this story. This is a personal tragedy.

Thursday Evening News Roundup

There seems to be a question as to whether the Republicans are going to renege on their budget deal which was agreed upon last August. House Republicans are looking to stir the pot. I thought that the Republican Party was the party of honesty and moral values. I guess not.

After a ton of hype, this double secret tape that will be devastating to the president has been released. Did you feel that? The earth shook. Or maybe not. This is more nothing than usual. This double secret tape has been widely available on PBS and YouTube for more than three years.

The clock is ticking on Greece’s debt deal. Greece needs private investors to agree to debt reduction. The deadline on the agreement is 1 AM Eastern Standard Time. Greek debt deal is critical to the stability of the European Union and the stability of the European Union is critical to American exports.

Senate defeats a measure to build the Keystone XL pipeline.

Microraptor, a small four-winged dinosaur that lived approximately 130 million years ago appears to have had feathers. There seems to be some evidence that the feathers were glossy and iridescent. Totally cool.

There was a shooting today at Western Psychiatric Institute in Pennsylvania. Two people are dead and seven injured.

I would like to encourage everyone to take a look at this book by Michelle Alexander – the New Jim Crow.

It appears that Bank of America has made a deal with 200,000 financially strapped households in order to restructure their mortgages. This seems to be a nice step in the right direction.

I’d like to take a few minutes to talk about this article in the New York Times. It deals with the study that I talked about several weeks ago in which a significant number of physicians admitted that they did not tell the truth to their patients. The backbone of our medical system is a doctor-patient relationship. If this relationship doesn’t work, everything falls apart. Honesty is required from both sides. Patients have to honestly tell their physicians about their symptoms and about their thoughts and feelings in order for physicians to be able to give the appropriate advice. It is crucial for physicians to be honest with their patients. This means you can’t shirk off that duty to a nurse or physician’s assistant. This requires the doctor to be at the bedside with the patient. Sometimes, it requires the doctor to say the same thing, in different ways at different points in time in order for the information to sink in, not only to the patient but also to the patient’s family. Unfortunately, when dealing with the English language, there’s lots of nuance and opportunities for miscommunication. It is extremely important for both the patient and the doctor to seek perfect understanding.

Sarah Palin is truly special. That’s all I can say.

Mitt Romney seems to be more than happy to display his awkwardness in front of crowds, just like an NBA star shows off a fabulous jumpshot. The fact that he is “learning to say y’all and that he likes grits” just makes me shake my head.

What’s on your mind this evening?

Friday Morning News Roundup

Yesterday, the president spoke at the University of Miami and basically defended a balanced approach to solving our energy crisis. He was 100% correct in pointing out that simply drilling here, there and everywhere is not an answer to our problems. Instead we need to invest in developing all forms of alternative energy. Some progressives had a problem with the fact that he did include nuclear power in the discussion. Personally, I think we need to back away from nuclear power. I believe that we must actually have a solution as to how we’re going to get rid of the nuclear waste. Simply burying it in a big hole is fine for Wiley E. Coyote, but it’s not a real energy plan.

Sometimes, I find humor in these debates. The fact that Ron Paul continues to let himself be treated as the crusty old grandfather who really has nothing meaningful to say in the debate I find amusing. I also find it funny that it surprises people that Newt Gingrich says something outrageous and attacks the media. Not only is it not surprising, it should be expected. The stupidity of Newt Gingrich’s infanticide comments cannot be overemphasized.

Every now and then, you know it must suck to be the president. You are responsible for so much and yet so much is out of your control. Recently, we had another burning of the Koran in Afghanistan. How does this happen? We know exactly what the response will be – angry mobs which will turn violent. In my humble opinion, there is simply no excuse for us to be burning Bibles, the Torah or the Koran. The fact that Newt Gingrich is outraged that we apologized for this ridiculous act of thoughtlessness should not surprise anyone.

Sears is dying. It has been on life support for some time. I’m not sure that smart commercials are going to save it.

GOP is losing women voters. Dems seem to be winning.

Several lawmakers received threatening letters containing white powder. This should remind all of us that, in spite of spending billions of dollars on security, we still really are not safe. By the way, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert received the envelopes, also.

A 10,000 year old carving was found in Brazil. It is thought to be the oldest human carving in America.

The Department of Homeland Security has been tracking Americans on social media, despite having told Congress they weren’t really doing that.

Representative John Sullivan (Republican – Oklahoma) formally apologized on Thursday after he was said that he would need to kill members of the Senate in order to pass the Republican budget. An apology is all that is needed? Now everything’s okay?

By the way, did you noticed in Obama’s speech that he pointed out that the United States is producing more oil today than at any time in the last eight years? Where is the harsh and vicious retort from Republicans? Where are the accusations that president Obama is a liar and a communist? Crickets.

What’s on your mind?