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Amygdala will move to an entirely new and far better blog template ASAP, aka RSN, aka incrementally/badly punctuated evolution.
Tagging posts, posts by category, next/previous post indicators, and other post-2003 design innovations are incrementally being tweaked/kludged/melting.
Above email address currently deprecated! Use gary underscore farber at yahoodotcom, pliz! Sanely free of McCarthyite calling anyone a traitor since 2001!
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I've a long record in editorial work in book and magazine publishing, starting 1974, a variety of other work experience, but have been, since 2001, recurringly housebound with insanely painful sporadic and unpredictably variable gout and edema, and in the past, other ailments; the future? The Great Unknown: isn't it for all of us?
I'm currently house/cat-sitting, not on any government aid yet (or mostly ever), often in major chronic pain from gout and edema, which variably can leave me unable to walk, including just standing, but sometimes is better, and is freaking unpredictable at present; I also have major chronic depression and anxiety disorders; I'm currently supported mostly by your blog donations/subscriptions; you can help me. I prefer to spread out the load, and lessen it from the few who have been doing more than their fair share for too long.
Thanks for any understanding and support. I know it's difficult to understand. And things will change. They always change.
I'm sometimes available to some degree as a paid writer, editor, researcher, or proofreader. I'm sometimes available as a fill-in Guest Blogger at mid-to-high-traffic blogs that fit my knowledge set.
If you like my blog, and would like to help me continue to afford food and prescriptions, or simply enjoy my blogging and writing, and would like to support it --
you are welcome to do so via the PayPal buttons.
"The brain is wider than the sky, For, put them side by side,
The one the other will include With ease, and you beside"
-- Emily Dickinson
"We will pursue peace as if there is no terrorism and fight terrorism as if there is no peace."
-- Yitzhak Rabin
"I have thought it my duty to exhibit things as they are, not as they ought to be."
-- Alexander Hamilton
"The stakes are too high for government to be a spectator sport."
-- Barbara Jordan
"Under democracy, one party always devotes its chief energies to
trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule --
and both commonly succeed, and are right."
-- H. L. Mencken
"Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom.
It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves."
-- William Pitt
"The only completely consistent people are the dead."
-- Aldous Huxley
"I have had my solutions for a long time; but I do not yet know how I am to arrive at them."
-- Karl F. Gauss
"Whatever evils either reason or declamation have imputed to extensive empire,
the power of Rome was attended with some beneficial consequences to mankind;
and the same freedom of intercourse which extended the vices, diffused likewise
the improvements of social life."
-- Edward Gibbon
"Augustus was sensible that mankind is governed by names; nor was he deceived in his
expectation, that the senate and people would submit to slavery, provided they were
respectfully assured that they still enjoyed their ancient freedom."
-- Edward Gibbon
"There exists in human nature a strong propensity to depreciate the advantages, and to magnify
the evils, of the present times."
-- Edward Gibbon
"Our youth now loves luxuries. They have bad manners, contempt for authority.
They show disrespect for elders and they
love to chatter instead of exercise.
Children are now tyrants, not the servants, of their households. They
no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents,
chatter before company, gobble up their food, and tyrannize
"Before impugning an opponent's motives, even when they legitimately may be impugned, answer his arguments."
-- Sidney Hook
"Idealism, alas, does not protect one from ignorance, dogmatism, and foolishness."
-- Sidney Hook
"Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted."
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson
"We take, and must continue to take, morally hazardous actions to preserve our civilization.
We must exercise our power. But we ought neither to believe that a nation is capable of perfect
disinterestedness in its exercise, nor become complacent about particular degrees of interest
and passion which corrupt the justice by which the exercise of power is legitimized."
-- Reinhold Niebuhr
"Faced with the choice of all the land without a Jewish state or a Jewish state without all the
land, we chose a Jewish state without all the land."
-- David Ben-Gurion
"...the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him
an incapacity of being called to offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this
or that religious opinion, is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages
to which, in common with his fellow citizens, he has a natural right; that it tends also
to corrupt the principles of that very religion it is meant to encourage, by bribing,
with a monopoly of worldly honours and emoluments, those who will externally profess
and conform to it;[...] that the opinions of men are not the object of civil government, nor under its jurisdiction; that to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion
and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles on supposition of their ill tendency is a dangerous fallacy, which at once destroys all religious liberty....
-- Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, Thomas Jefferson
"We don't live just by ideas. Ideas are part of the mixture of customs and practices,
intuitions and instincts that make human life a conscious activity susceptible to
improvement or debasement. A radical idea may be healthy as a provocation;
a temperate idea may be stultifying. It depends on the circumstances. One of the most
tiresome arguments against ideas is that their 'tendency' is to some dire condition --
to totalitarianism, or to moral relativism, or to a war of all against all."
-- Louis Menand
"The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis."
-- Dante Alighieri
"He too serves a certain purpose who only stands and cheers."
-- Henry B. Adams
"The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the
poor to beg in the streets, steal bread, or sleep under a bridge."
-- Anatole France
"When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle."
-- Edmund Burke
"Education does not mean that we have become certified experts in business or mining or botany or journalism or epistemology;
it means that through the absorption of the moral, intellectual, and esthetic inheritance of the race we have come to
understand and control ourselves as well as the external world; that we have chosen the best as our associates both in spirit
and the flesh; that we have learned to add courtesy to culture, wisdom to knowledge, and forgiveness to understanding."
-- Will Durant
"Glimpses do ye seem to see of that mortally intolerable truth; that all deep, earnest thinking is
but the intrepid effort of the soul to keep the open independence of her sea; while the wildest
winds of heaven and earth conspire to cast her on the treacherous, slavish shore?"
-- Herman Melville
"The most important political office is that of the private citizen."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"If we desire respect for the law, we must first make the law respectable."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"It is an error to suppose that books have no influence; it is a slow influence, like flowing water carving out a canyon,
but it tells more and more with every year; and no one can pass an hour a day in the society of sages and heroes without
being lifted up a notch or two by the company he has kept."
-- Will Durant
"When you write, you’re trying to transpose what you’re thinking into something that is less like an annoying drone and more like a piece of music."
-- Louis Menand
"Sex is a continuum."
-- Gore Vidal
"I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should
make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibit the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state."
-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to the Baptists of Danbury, Connecticut, 1802.
"The sum of our religion is peace and unanimity, but these can scarcely stand unless we define as little as possible,
and in many things leave one free to follow his own judgment, because there is great obscurity in many matters, and
man suffers from this almost congenital disease that he will not give in when once a controversy is started, and
after he is heated he regards as absolutely true that which he began to sponsor quite casually...."
-- Desiderius Erasmus
"Are we to have a censor whose imprimatur shall say what books may be sold, and what we may buy? And who is thus to dogmatize religious opinions for our citizens? Whose foot is to be the measure to which ours are all to be cut or stretched? Is a priest to be our inquisitor, or shall a layman, simple as ourselves, set up his reason as the rule of what we are to read, and what we must disbelieve?"
-- Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to N. G. Dufief, Philadelphia bookseller, 1814
"We are told that it is only people's objective actions that matter, and their subjective feelings are of no importance. Thus pacifists, by obstructing the war effort,
are 'objectively' aiding the Nazis; and therefore the fact that they may be personally hostile to Fascism is irrelevant. I have been guilty of saying this myself more than once. The same argument is applied to Trotskyism. Trotskyists are often credited, at any rate by Communists, with being active and conscious agents of Hitler; but when you point out the many and obvious reasons why this is unlikely to be true,
the 'objectively' line of talk is brought forward again. To criticize the Soviet Union helps Hitler: therefore 'Trotskyism is Fascism'. And when this has been established, the accusation of conscious treachery is usually repeated.
This is not only dishonest; it also carries a severe penalty with it. If you disregard people's motives, it becomes much harder to foresee their actions."
-- George Orwell, "As I Please," Tribune, 8 December 1944
"Wouldn't this be a great world if insecurity and desperation made us more attractive? If 'needy' were a turn-on?"
-- "Aaron Altman," Broadcast News
"The great thing about human language is that it prevents us from sticking to the matter at hand."
-- Lewis Thomas
"To be ignorant of what happened before you were born is to be ever a child. For what is man's lifetime unless the memory of past events is woven with those of earlier times?"
"Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it."
-- Samuel Johnson, Life Of Johnson
"Very well, what did my critics say in attacking my character? I must read out their affidavit, so to speak, as though they were my legal accusers: Socrates is guilty of criminal meddling, in that he inquires into things below the earth and in the sky, and makes the weaker argument defeat the stronger, and teaches others to follow his example."
-- Socrates, via Plato, The Republic
"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, represents, in the final analysis, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children."
-- Dwight D. Eisenhower
"The term, then, is obviously a relative one; my pedantry is your scholarship, his reasonable accuracy, her irreducible minimum of education, & someone else's ignorance."
-- H. W. Fowler
"Rules exist for good reasons, and in any art form the beginner must learn them and understand what they are for, then follow them for quite a while. A visual artist, pianist, dancer, fiction writer, all beginning artists are in the same boat here: learn the rules, understand them, follow them. It's called an apprenticeship. A mediocre artist never stops following the rules, slavishly follows guidelines, and seldom rises above mediocrity. An accomplished artist internalizes the rules to the point where they don't have to be consciously considered. After you've put in the time it takes to learn to swim, you never stop to think: now I move my arm, kick, raise my head, breathe. You just do it. The accomplished artist knows what the rules mean, how to use them, dodge them, ignore them altogether, or break them. This may be a wholly unconscious process of assimilation, one never articulated, but it has taken place."
-- Kate Wilhelm
"The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed."
-- Albert Einstein
"The decisive moment in human evolution is perpetual."
-- Franz Kafka, Aphorisms
"All of old. Nothing else ever. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better."
-- Samuel Beckett, Worstward Ho
"First they ignore you. Then they ridicule you. And then they attack you and want to burn you. And then they build monuments to you."
-- Nicholas Klein, May, 1919, to the Third Biennial Convention of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America (misattributed to Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, 1914 & variants).
"Our credulity is a part of the imperfection of our natures. It is inherent in us to desire to generalize, when we ought, on the contrary, to guard ourselves very carefully from this tendency."
-- Napoleon I of France.
"The truth is, men are very hard to know, and yet, not to be deceived, we must judge them by their present actions, but for the present only."
-- Napoleon I of France.
"The barbarous custom of having men beaten who are suspected of having important secrets to reveal must be abolished. It has always been recognized that this way of interrogating men, by putting them to torture, produces nothing worthwhile. The poor wretches say anything that comes into their mind and what they think the interrogator wishes to know."
-- On the subject of torture, in a letter to Louis Alexandre Berthier (11 November 1798), published in Correspondance Napoleon edited by Henri Plon (1861), Vol. V, No. 3606, p. 128
"All living souls welcome whatever they are ready to cope with; all else they ignore, or pronounce to be monstrous and wrong, or deny to be possible."
-- George Santayana, Dialogues in Limbo (1926)
"If you should put even a little on a little, and should do this often, soon this too would become big."
-- Hesiod, Work And Days
"Your Honor, years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it, and while there is a criminal element I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free."
-- Eugene V. Debs
"Reputation is what other people know about you. Honor is what you know about yourself."
-- Lois McMaster Bujold, A Civil Campaign
"All that we have to do is to send two mujahidin to the furthest point east to raise a piece of cloth on which is written "al-Qaida," in order to make the generals race there to cause America to suffer human, economic, and political losses without their achieving for it anything of note other than some benefits for their private companies."
-- Osama bin Laden
"Remember, Robin: evil is a pretty bad thing."
Gary Farber is now a licensed Quintuple Super-Sekrit Multi-dimensional Master Pundit.
He does not always refer to himself in the third person.
He is presently single.
The gefilte fish is dead. Donate via the donation button on the top left or I'll shoot this cutepanda. Don't you lovepandas?
Current Total # of Donations Since 2002: 1181
Subscribers to date at $5/month: 100 sign-ups; 91 cancellations; Total= 9
Supporter subscribers to date at $25/month: 16 sign-ups; 10 cancellation; Total= 6
Patron subscribers to date at $50/month: 20 sign-ups; 13 cancellations; Total= 7
...writer[s] I find myself checking out repeatedly when I'm in the mood to play follow-the-links. They're not all people I agree with all the time, or even most of the time, but I've found them all to be thoughtful writers, and that's the important thing, or should be.
-- Tom Tomorrow
I bow before the shrillitudinousness of Gary Farber, who has been blogging like a fiend.
-- Ted Barlow, Crooked Timber
Favorite.... [...] ...all great stuff. [...] Gary Farber should never be without readers.
I usually read you and Patrick several times a day, and I always get something from them. You've got great links, intellectually honest commentary, and a sense of humor. What's not to like?
-- Ted Barlow
One of my issues with many poli-blogs is the dickhead tone so many bloggers affect to express their sense of righteous indignation. Gary Farber's thoughtful leftie takes on the world stand in sharp contrast with the usual rhetorical bullying. Plus, he likes "Pogo," which clearly attests to his unassaultable good taste.
Jaysus. I saw him do something like this before, on a thread about Israel. It was pretty brutal. It's like watching one of those old WWF wrestlers grab an opponent's
face and grind away until the guy starts crying. I mean that in a nice & admiring way, you know.
-- Fontana Labs, Unfogged
We read you Gary Farber! We read you all the time! Its just that we are lazy with our blogroll. We are so very very lazy. We are always the last ones to the party but we always have snazzy bow ties.
-- Fafnir, Fafblog!
Gary Farber you are a genius of mad scientist proportions. I will bet there are like huge brains growin in jars all over your house.
-- Fafnir, Fafblog!
Gary Farber is the hardest working man in show blog business. He's like a young Gene Hackman blogging with his hair on fire, or something.
-- Belle Waring, John & Belle Have A Blog
Gary Farber only has two blogging modes: not at all, and 20 billion interesting posts a day [...] someone on the interweb whose opinions I can trust....
-- Belle Waring, John & Belle Have A Blog
Isn't Gary a cracking blogger, apropos of nothing in particular?
-- Alison Scott
Gary Farber takes me to task, in a way befitting the gentleman he is.
-- Stephen Green, Vodkapundit
My friend Gary Farber at Amygdala is the sort of liberal for whom I happily give three cheers. [...] Damned incisive blogging....
-- Midwest Conservative Journal
If I ever start a paper, Clueless writes the foreign affairs column, Layne handles the city beat, Welch has the roving-reporter job, Tom Tomorrow runs the comic section (which carries Treacher, of course). MediaMinded runs the slots - that's the type of editor I want as the last line of defense. InstantMan runs the edit page - and you can forget about your Ivins and Wills and Friedmans and Teepens on the edit page - it's all Blair, VodkaP, C. Johnson, Aspara, Farber, Galt, and a dozen other worthies, with Justin 'I am smoking in such a provocative fashion' Raimondo tossed in for balance and comic relief.
Who wouldn't buy that paper? Who wouldn't want to read it? Who wouldn't climb over their mother to be in it?
-- James Lileks
I do appreciate your role and the role of Amygdala as a pioneering effort in the integration of fanwriters with social conscience into the larger blogosphere of social conscience.
-- Lenny Bailes
Every single post in that part of Amygdala visible on my screen is either funny or bracing or important. Is it always like this? -- Natalie Solent
People I've known and still miss include Isaac Asimov, rich brown, Charles Burbee, F. M. "Buzz" Busby, Terry Carr, A. Vincent Clarke, Bob Doyle, George Alec Effinger, Abi Frost,
Bill & Sherry Fesselmeyer, George Flynn, John Milo "Mike" Ford. John Foyster, Mike Glicksohn, Jay Haldeman, Neith Hammond (Asenath Katrina Hammond)/DominEditrix , Chuch Harris, Mike Hinge, Lee Hoffman, Terry Hughes, Damon Knight, Ross Pavlac, Bruce Pelz, Elmer Perdue, Tom Perry,
Larry Propp, Bill Rotsler, Art Saha, Bob Shaw, Martin Smith, Harry Stubbs, Bob Tucker, Harry Warner, Jr., Jack Williamson, Walter A. Willis, Susan Wood, Kate Worley, and Roger Zelazny.
It's just a start, it only gets longer, many are unintentionally left out.
And She of whom I must write someday.
House and Senate GOP negotiators, meeting behind closed doors last month to complete a major budget-cutting bill, agreed on a change to Senate-passed Medicare legislation that would save the health insurance industry $22 billion over the next decade, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.
The Senate version would have targeted private HMOs participating in Medicare by changing the formula that governs their reimbursement, lowering payments $26 billion over the next decade. But after lobbying by the health insurance industry, the final version made a critical change that had the effect of eliminating all but $4 billion of the projected savings, according to CBO and other health policy experts.
Isn't it wonderful of the Republicans to want to protect the insurance industry, while costing you, the taxpayer, a mere $22 billion dollars extra? Pocket change! Why, if liberals were in office, they might waste it on poor people! It's for the protection of us all that the Republicans want to make sure it goes to the insurance industry, instead, keeping the wheels of capitalism going, since, as we know, poor people simply spend their money on food and rent and drugs and badly-designed clothes, whereupon it is promptly burned, and leaves the economy forever, leaving us all that much poorer. But let's find out more! Let's learn the modern version of How A Bill Is Made!
That change was made in mid-December during private negotiations involving House Ways and Means Chairman Bill Thomas (R-Calif.), Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) and the staffs of those committees as well as the House Energy and Commerce Committee. House and Senate Democrats were excluded from the meeting. The Senate gave final approval to the budget-cutting measure on Dec. 21, but the House must give it final consideration early next month.
The change in the Medicare provision underscores a practice that growing numbers of lawmakers from both parties want addressed. More than ever, Republican congressional lawmakers and leaders are making vital decisions, involving far-reaching policies and billions of dollars, without the public -- or even congressional Democrats -- present.
A prime target for changes are the closed-door negotiations known as conference committees, where members of the House and Senate hash out their differences over competing versions of legislation. House and Senate Democrats last week proposed that all such conference committees meet in the open and that any changes be made by a vote of all conferees.
"It happens in the dead of night when lobbyists get a [Republican lawmaker] in the corner and say, 'We've got to have this,' " said Rep. Fortney "Pete" Stark (Calif.), the Democrats' point man on Medicare issues. "It's a pattern that just goes on and on, and at some point the public's going to rise up."
Grassley disputed the CBO's interpretation of the change as "ridiculous," dismissing what appears to be a major insurance industry victory as merely a mistake in CBO calculations, not a substantive policy change. He said he accepted the policy change because he "didn't see a big difference from the Senate position and the conference position."
Of course! $22 billion? It can just slip behind the seat cushions without being noticed! That's careful Republican accounting for you! Nothing substantive to see here! Look at the shiny pretty thing in my other hand!
But other lobbyists and aides said too much important work is being done in these closed-door conclaves. That is especially true with the budget-cutting bill containing the change in the Medicare reimbursement formula that is nearing final passage.
"I have worked many [budget] bills, and this was the most closed that I've ever seen," said one prominent Republican health care lobbyist, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of jeopardizing his access to Congress.
Another health care lobbyist, not involved with the issue, said the result was a major victory for health insurers: "That's a $22 billion difference; $22 billion is a lot of money."
If no one can say which lawmakers made the change, there is no doubt who instigated it. Last month, as House and Senate negotiators sat down to finalize the budget-cutting bill, the insurance industry moved to thwart the Senate's "risk adjustment" provision.
"It is our understanding that CBO is scoring significant savings from this new adjustment," officials from America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) wrote in urgent talking points sent to Capitol Hill. "The savings . . . are best viewed as a new and unanticipated payment reduction."
Since managed-care companies first began working through Medicare in the 1990s, the government has recognized an issue in the way the companies are paid for their participation. Private insurers attract healthier seniors than the traditional government-run Medicare system, so their payment rates -- based on the elderly population as a whole -- exceed the actual cost of treatment.
In 2003, the government began lowering payments to Medicare HMOs to account for their healthier population of beneficiaries. But to keep those HMOs from fleeing the system, the Bush administration added a "hold harmless" payment that negated that cut.
The White House intended to phase out that payment through 2010, a plan written into law by the version of the budget-cutting bill that passed the Senate in November. But to secure those savings, the Senate also required yearly audits to account for "coding creep" or "upcoding" that health policy experts say physicians and hospitals working for the HMOs have used that, wittingly or unwittingly, make their patients appear sicker than they are.
The insurance industry lobby has denied such a problem exists, saying that the huge savings that CBO and other health care analysts have projected would never materialize. Even so, the industry fought the changes tooth and nail, said health care aides in the House and Senate.
Certainly. Fighting invisible and non-existent changes is the mostest fun a lobbyist can have! It will make no difference, so that's what we want to spend our energy on! Who wouldn't understand that?
Karen Ignani, chief executive of AHIP, said the industry would have liked the yearly audit provision to be removed. Instead, it got what the CBO sees as a strict time limit. According to the final bill language, the results of a risk adjustment analysis are to be "incorporated into the risk scores only for 2008, 2009 and 2010."
The original Senate measure was supposed to reduce payments to Medicare HMOs by $2.9 billion in 2010, $3.3 billion in 2012 and $4.5 billion in 2015. Now, CBO scorekeepers think savings will peak at $2.9 billion in 2010. By 2012, the government will be paying the HMOs $100 million more than now scheduled, and $900 million more by 2014.
Republican aides involved in the change dismiss its significance, saying the CBO is reading too much into it. The Bush administration had planned to phase out "hold harmless" payments through 2010, and negotiators wanted to make the audit adjustments coincide with that time frame, the aides said.
Grassley agreed: "If CBO continues to say there needs to be a legislative requirement to conduct the analyses past 2010, then I look forward to passing legislation continuing the reports and achieving even bigger budget savings."
That would be great! With more and bigger "savings" like these, we'll have the budget deficit up to a trillion dollars a year in no time!
Remember, boys and girls, the Democrats believe in stifling the American public's dreams with those nasty balanced budgets we had for so many years under our last Democratic President. Republicans set free the American economy with the ever-increasing deficits they've run for, gosh, the past 38 years! It's all about protecting you!
At issue is a symbiotic relationship between lawmakers well positioned to slip special-interest projects into legislation, and wealthy lobbying groups that raise large sums of campaign funds or provide trips and other benefits to those lawmakers.
In the latest example of these backstage dealings, Rep. John T. Doolittle (R-Calif.) told The Washington Post that he helped steer defense funding, totaling $37 million, to a California company, whose officials and lobbyists helped raise at least $85,000 for Doolittle and his leadership political action committee from 2002 to 2005.
Brent Wilkes, a director of the company, PerfectWave Technologies LLC, and a major contributor to House Republican leaders, was identified as "Coconspirator No. 1" in criminal charges brought against Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-Calif.) late last year. Cunningham pleaded guilty in November and resigned from Congress after admitting he conspired to take $2.4 million in bribes in return for using his office to help Wilkes and another defense contractor, in part by placing earmarks in defense appropriations bills.
The link between special interests and members of Congress has grown so tight that nearly a dozen House and Senate members who control federal spending have retained lobbying veterans to raise campaign funds for them, and those lobbyists have secured lucrative favors in spending bills.
These relationships have coincided with the rapid growth in the volume of home-state pork-barrel projects, commonly called earmarks, that have swelled appropriations bills in recent years, according to congressional experts and watchdog groups.
"It's the currency of corruption," Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) said of appropriations earmarks.
Since the Republicans took control of Congress in 1994, the number of home-district earmarks jumped from 4,155 valued at about $29 billion in 1994 to 14,211 worth nearly $53 billion 10 years later, according to the Congressional Research Service.
There's an honest graft, and I'm an example of how it works. I might sum up the whole thing by sayin’: "I seen my opportunities and I took 'em."
Let's look and learn some more about modern Republicanism:
Once a backwater for boutique lobbying shops, the House and Senate Appropriations committees are fueling a lobbying boom in Washington. The hunt for earmarks has become so consuming that lawmakers are neglecting other duties, said Scott Lilly, who recently retired as chief Democratic aide on the House Appropriations Committee. Last year, the committee received 10,000 requests for home-district projects on one spending bill alone -- 25.4 projects per lawmaker, said committee spokesman John Scofield.
"It has become an obsession of the Congress," Lilly said. "That's all they do."
Traditionally, Congress has provided large pots of money to federal, state and local agencies, such as housing authorities and transportation departments, which then funded specific programs based on merit and local need. The Appropriations committees funded specific projects only when they had been vetted and approved by authorizing committees, such as the Armed Services Committee.
But increasingly, lawmakers have gone around authorizers and agency officials to finance pet projects in their home districts. House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) secured $207 million for the "Prairie Parkway" through Kane and Kendall counties in Illinois in last year's major highway law, although the Illinois Department of Transportation is only two years into a five-year study of the project and has not yet determined whether a highway is needed or whether improvements to existing roads would suffice.
The hunt for earmarks on Capitol Hill and on K Street has opened up new avenues for lobbyists and lawmakers to come together. Seven members of the House Appropriations Committee -- Chairman Jerry Lewis (R-Calif.), Ernest J. Istook Jr. (R-Okla.), Kay Granger (R-Tex.), Dennis Rehberg (R-Mont.), John E. Sweeney (R-N.Y.), Rosa L. DeLauro (D-Conn.) and Ed Pastor (D-Ariz.) -- have political action committees headed by registered lobbyists or former registered lobbyists with business before the committee, according to the Center for Public Integrity and campaign records.
David A. Metzner, treasurer of Sweeney's Freshmen PAC, has represented the Association of American Railroads; it is a frequent petitioner of the House Appropriations subcommittee for the departments of Transportation, the Treasury, and Housing and Urban Development, on which the New York Republican sits. Leon G. Billings, DeLauro's treasurer and longtime friend, has represented groups such as the American Lung Association and the Lincoln Pulp and Paper Co. His lobbying registration for the Industry Urban Development Agency targets the Appropriations energy and water development subcommittee's bill.
In the Senate, Appropriations Committee members Larry E. Craig (R-Idaho), Byron L. Dorgan (D-N.D.), Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) and Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) have retained PAC treasurers who have served as Appropriations lobbyists. Richard B. Ladd, treasurer of Stevens's Northern Lights PAC, has lobbied the Appropriations defense subcommittee on the behalf of defense contractors. William C. Oldaker, who heads the PACs of Reid and Dorgan, has lobbied multiple Appropriations subcommittees for the universities, science centers and municipal water districts he has represented, according to Senate lobbying records.
"It's completely out of control, and we are not going to reform a system, as far as lobbying is concerned, if we have a process that lends itself to one influential lobbyist with a relationship with one member," Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) told reporters this month.
In a series of articles last month, Copley News Service laid out the relationship between the two that included Lowery raising campaign funds for Lewis, the exchange of longtime staff members and the channeling of millions of dollars to Lowery's California clients.
Lowery, the partners at his firm -- Copeland, Lowery, Jacquez, Denton & White -- and their clients have donated more than a third of the $1.3 million that Lewis's political action committee has raised in the past six years. One longtime member of Lewis's staff, Jeff S. Shockey, left Capitol Hill to join Lowery's firm, then returned recently as the House Appropriations Committee's deputy staff director. Letitia H. White, a Lewis staffer for 21 years, began lobbying for Lowery in 2003.
Wilkes, the California businessman linked to the Cunningham corruption case, began tapping federal spending sources in the mid-1990s, after Cunningham helped him win at least $80 million in Pentagon earmarks for a company he ran that converted paper documents to digital images.
In mid-2002, Wilkes became involved with a new company, PerfectWave Technologies LLC. He then retained the Alexander Strategy Group, a high-powered firm operated by former aides to then-House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.), to lobby for defense appropriations. Wilkes was seeking funding for the development of an "automated speech recognition technology."
Shortly thereafter, individuals related to Wilkes and PerfectWave made large campaign donations to members of the GOP leadership, Doolittle and Lewis, who was then chairman of the Appropriations defense subcommittee. PerfectWave is housed in Wilkes's office building in Poway, Calif.
Doolittle and his leadership PAC received at least $85,000 from 2002 to 2005 from Wilkes, PerfectWave associates and their wives, and from Alexander Strategy lobbyists Edwin A. Buckham and Tony C. Rudy and their wives.
Wilkes was successful. Congress approved the first earmark for PerfectWave as part of the fiscal 2003 defense bill, which was passed in October 2002. That $1 million earmark was followed by an installment of $18 million in 2003 and another $18 million in 2004. Doolittle, whose district is in Northern California, was a guest at a fundraising dinner at Wilkes's office in San Diego in the fall of 2003.
Doolittle's office released a letter from a Marine Corps official dated last Feb. 25 that praised the PerfectWave technology. A spokesman for the House Appropriations Committee said there are no additional funds for the project in the fiscal 2006 budget because the Marines have not spent all the money that was earmarked.
Darn those Marines! They're so preoccupied with Semper Fi nonsense, and "honor" and all that crap that they don't focus on the important things! Simpering fi! Spending money! As Michael Ledeen always says: faster, please!
Here endth today's lesson in the wonderful wonders of wonderful modern Republicanism. Be sure to re-elect these guys! It's all for America's economy!