Monday, January 9, 2006


NewsMax reports that Duke Cunningham who resigned in disgrace because of a bribery scandal has been cooperating with the FBI in their investigation of Jack Abramoff's malfeasance.

Top Republicans in the House are buzzing - and scrambling - at news alleging that Randy "Duke" Cunningham, a former San Diego congressman who's pled guilty to bribery and other illegal activities, was wearing a wire for the FBI during the summer and early fall of 2005. The undercover operation, according to senior Justice and federal law enforcement, is part of a broadening investigation into the Jack Abramoff bribes-for-favors scandal now roiling Washington.

The disgraced former lawmaker initially began cooperating with federal investigators after they uncovered evidence of his illegal acceptance of bribes in cash and luxury items from at least two small California defense contractors. Cunningham began cooperating shortly after announcing last summer that he would not run again for Congress and before his November 28, 2005, plea agreement. Court documents reveal he admitted to accepting nearly $2 million in graft money for political favors.

The former Vietnam flying ace and war hero was later brought into the burgeoning Abramoff probe because of his position as a member of Congress with unique access to other Congressmen under scrutiny by a joint Justice Department Public Integrity investigation. "Cunningham wore a wire on the Hill during meetings with, and meetings set up with, other lawmakers Abramoff was interested in talking to or meeting," a high level federal law enforcement source said without elaborating party affiliations of the targeted lawmakers.

It could not be immediately determined whether Abramoff or others were or are part of the undercover eavesdropping operation involving Cunningham. "You can assume any private meeting Cunningham had with legislators pertaining to Abramoff were recorded," the high-level federal law enforcement source said. "It does not mean [these lawmakers] are under investigation. But some are. There will be repercussions"

"This will go up the food chain," the source added ominously, implying Cunningham's wire may have ensnared Congressional leaders. Over eighty members and congressional staff are, according to a senior Senate investigator, under scrutiny for political kickbacks, bribes, and political favors on behalf of Abramoff. The scandal is said to include lobbyists, political operatives in Washington and a number of government officials including high-level aides.

The result of whatever cooperation Cunningham provided has, according to the high-level federal law enforcement official, is that specific legislation is being closely scrutinized to find Abramoff's fingerprints on legislative action as part of his bribes-for-favors criminal activities.

The high-level federal law enforcement source implied other members of Congress are directly implicated. "Interpret as you will," the source said.

The TIME article, by former Roll Call reporter Tim Burger, says Cunningham began cooperating with federal authorities shortly after he announced in the summer that he was resigning. The magazine's online story does not provide any specifics on the alleged wire caper. Capitol Hill leaders, as far as can be determined, were unaware of Cunningham's secret spying operations, including at meetings at the Armed Services Committee, with staff and others.

There's a lot more on this story at the NewsMax link. It appears that both Republicans and Democrats are going to be implicated in this scandal and that congressional heads will be rolling fast enough to give Madame DeFarge a case of the raptures.

We say that it's all to the good. Whatever party to which the miscreants belong they should be run out of Washington in disgrace if they are truly guilty of having violated the public's trust. It'll be good riddance.

Alito's Credibility Problem?

Teddy Kennedy, of all people, questions Samuel Alito's credibility in a Washington Post editorial. Senator Kennedy, whose account of what happened at the Chappaquiddick bridge several decades ago should have forever disqualified him from pronouncing upon others' credibility, closes his column with this:

Alito's words and record must credibly demonstrate that he understands and supports the role of the Supreme Court in upholding the progress we've made in guaranteeing that all Americans have an equal chance to take their rightful place in the nation's future. "Credibility" has rarely been an issue for Supreme Court nominees, but it is clearly a major issue for Alito.

In the column Kennedy gives five reasons for doubting Alito's credibility, at least three of which distill to the fact that Alito is a conservative and only one of which seems to bear any non-partisan significance.

Kennedy avers that, although Alito promised in 1990 to recuse himself in any case involving the Vanguard mutual fund (in which he was heavily invested), a few years ago (2002) he nevertheless sat on a case in which that fund was involved. This doesn't appear to have been a breach of professional ethics but rather a matter of not having kept a promise to the senators who passed on his nomination to the court of appeals in 1990. That being so, we have to ask whether the judge thought that there were circumstances which made the promise not relevant to the 2002 case.

In any event, we're sure the good senator from Massachussetts will raise the question in the hearings, and we'll be interested to hear Alito's explanation.

The 2006 Edge Question

Joe Carter directs our attention to this year's Edge Question, a project of a group called The World Question Center. Many of the world's leading scientific thinkers were asked to write their thoughts on this topic:

The history of science is replete with discoveries that were considered socially, morally, or emotionally dangerous in their time; the Copernican and Darwinian revolutions are the most obvious. What is your dangerous idea? An idea you think about (not necessarily one you originated) that is dangerous not because it is assumed to be false, but because it might be true?

Carter summarizes the results of the essays submitted by some of the 119 respondents. It is an enlightening read. If there is one theme that runs through the essays it seems to be that science demands that we must stop believing in God and accept the dreary existential consequences.

It's an interesting modern phenomena that the materialist, thinking, like some modern day Prometheus, that he's liberating himself from the shackles of intellectual tyranny when he throws God aside, is in fact committing cultural suicide. He's depriving himself and the culture which embraces his materialism of any basis for genuine meaning, morality, and human dignity. Read the excerpts Carter provides and you'll see what I mean.

Spanking the Cut-and-Runners

An American veteran of the Afghanistan conflict took on cut-and-runners Jim Moran and John Murtha at a town meeting filmed by C-Span. Part of the exchange went like this:

"Yes sir my name is Mark Seavey and I just want to thank you for coming up here. Until about a month ago I was Sgt Mark Seavey infantry squad leader, I returned from Afghanistan. My question to you, (applause)

"Like yourself I dropped out of college two years ago to volunteer to go to Afghanistan, and I went and I came back. If I didn't have a herniated disk now I would volunteer to go to Iraq in a second with my troops, three of which have already volunteered to go to Iraq. I keep hearing you say how you talk to the troops and the troops are demoralized, and I really resent that characterization. (applause) The morale of the troops that I talk to is phenomenal, which is why my troops are volunteering to go back, despite the hardships they had to endure in Afghanistan.

"And Congressman Moran, 200 of your constituents just returned from Afghanistan. We never got a letter from you; we never got a visit from you. You didn't come to our homecoming. The only thing we got from any of our elected officials was one letter from the governor of this state thanking us for our service in Iraq, when we were in Afghanistan. That's reprehensible. I don't know who you two are talking to but the morale of the troops is very high."

Moran - who is one of the few congressmen supporting Charlie Rangel's call to restore the draft - responded quickly: "That wasn't in the form of a question, it was in the form of a statement. But, uhh... let's go over here." And he took the next question.

One thing congressmen certainly don't appreciate is being lectured to about the war by combat veterans. It's insulting to them to be chastised by someone who knows what he's talking about. Another soldier in the audience, a retired general and veteran of Vietnam, also unloaded on the hapless congressmen. Go here and click where it says download the video.

Thanks to Mudville Gazette for the text and Michelle Malkin for the video links.