This is how Tom Delay explains his mug shot in an interview with Fox News' Brit Hume. And I think if we all look closely, we can see a little bit of Jesus in there.
Keeping with Dear Mr. Supercomputer's tradition of commenting on news two years after it breaks, last night I watched a PBS Bill Moyers examination of the Jack Abramoff scandal (Moyers on America: Capitol Crimes), which featured Congressman Tom Delay (R-Sugarland, TX) as a prominent player. While I knew that the scandal was bad, I didn't realize how blatant it was. I thought it was a "Whitewater" kind of scandal: so complicated I'd never understand the depths of it. While that still may be true, you don't have to know a lot to see how egregious Delay's offense was. Allow Dear Mr. Supercomputer to break it down for you.
Remember this monstrosity?
Well, it created all these strange new congressional districts that Republicans were supposed to (and did) win. Texas congressional candidates are by law, disallowed to accept money from corporate institutions. So, as if the genetically mutated gerrymandered districts weren't enough, Delay and Abramoff concocted a scheme in which corporations (Indian tribes, credit card companies, energy plants not in Texas, etc.) gave money to Texans for a Republican Majority Political Action committee. TRMPAC then gave the money to organizations established by Abramoff and others like U.S. Family Network, who, in turn, donated the money to the candidates created by these strange looking new districts. That, guys from Office Space, is what it means to launder money.
But you know what, I sort of knew the gist of that, and you probably did too (we at Dear Mr. Supercomputer have very educated readers, you know). But I found the following offense particularly egregious even though Tom isn't being indicted for it.
The marina Islands have been a U.S. territory wince World War II. However, it did not adhere to the same immigration policies, minimum wage, or other labor policies that we enjoy here in the U.S. Therefore, sweatshops opened up, and they began importing immigrant indentured servants. Neo-conservatives hailed the marina Islands as a laissez-faire paradise. Nevermind the 12-hour days by laborers who could print "Made in the USA" for the Gap. Abramoff had the government in Saipan pay for Delay and others to visit this tropical paradise. "You represent everything that is good about what we are trying to do in America," Delay said to the most prominent sweatshop owner, who had paid the largest labor-fine in U.S. history for working conditions. Workers were forced to have abortions, which is astounding when you consider Tom Delay's stance on abortion. So Delay and his friends had a nice all expense paid trip to the Pacific and toasted the owners of these sweatshops.
In 2000, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed a bill that would have extended labor and immigration policies to the Marianas. However, Tom Delay, majority whip of the House, never let the bill see the light of day, and there, it died, never voted on. DeLay later blocked a fact-finding mission planned by Peter Hoekstra by threatening Hoekstra with the loss of his subcommittee chairmanship.
So I guess my question is this: why did this person keep getting elected year after year? Are the people in Sugarland really that... uninformed? Could no Democratic or Independent challenger turn this into an issue? Are Dems and Inds that resigned?
It was a pretty disheartening program to watch as far as faith in politics goes. That money and trips could influence a politician's agenda so dramatically is beyond me. That Sugarland never gave Tom Delay the boot is also beyond me.
So let's all watch tomorrow's Texas gubernatorial debate and try to get the political process back on track. With four candidates though, an hour isn't going to give us a whole lot of insight.
More importantly, if you haven't done so, be sure to register to vote BY OCT. 10TH!!! You can print out your voter registration here and mail that to your Voter Registration Official.
Get out and vote! I don't want to have to see Jesus in any more mugshots.
(You can watch the Moyers program, in its entirity online from this link. The aforementioned Marianas section is "Chapter 2.")