What??!! Corruption on Capitol Hill???

Lew, Tom DeLay’s manipulations are legion, of course. One of my former students went to work for him on Capitol Hill (gratefully, she has since left the time zone). I have it on good authority that, in the days following 9-11, DeLay was the point man for millionaire airline lobbyists who got billions of taxpayer dollars for their airline clients (ah, yes, in our time of terror, taxpayer money for our paymasters is our most important product).

“Conservative” lobbyist James Burnley, who is mysteriously on the board of the “conservative” Intercollegiate Studies Institute, reportedly used DeLay’s House office during those days as the launching pad for his lobbying effort to fleece the American taxpayer for his big-ticket Airline clients (Burnley actually brags about it, but not at ISI: his bio on their site doesn’t mention that he is a lobbyist).

From the very inception of the “war on terror,” DeLay and Co. partnered with millionaire lobbyists to pursue their first priority— the plundering of Americans for their wealthy clients. I am not accusing Burnley of any criminal act, of course (although I find it nauseating) — quite the contrary: clearly this is business as usual on Capitol Hill. In fact, Tom Daschle’s wife, Linda Hall Daschle, also lobbies for airlines. Her client, American Airlines, reportedly received a $583 million taxpayer-funded bailout after 9-11.

In the midst of this tragedy and slime, there was a personal note. My father was a trustee of the original ISI — the Intercollegiate Society of Individualists — in the 1950s. I was an ISI Weaver Fellow 40 years ago. So I found reports of Burnley’s DeLay operation frankly scandalous. Four weeks after 9-11, I wrote Burnley and asked him to resign from ISI’s board:

“ISI is dedicated to the principles of freedom, individual responsibility, and moral virtue. In my view, the airline lobby’s efforts to pass the bailout — to acquire billions of taxpayer dollars (with regard to the subsidy) and to deny the normal avenues of redress to the families of the victims of the 9-11 crashes (with regard to the proposed limitation on liability) profoundly and clearly contradict the principles that ISI has honored and taught for decades. After all, ISI’s motto is “To Educate for Liberty.” This [Burnley’s] effort taught our country nothing but cynicism and contempt.”

Burnley refused to resign from ISI’s board, He is still there, and his lobbying business apparently still prospers. Alas, Tom DeLay will not prosper, at least in this life, unless his conviction is overturned. But as a Catholic, I believe that, at the Last Judgment, “everything will be revealed — every thought, word, and deed.”

Which brings to mind (with a shudder) Thomas Jefferson: “I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just.”

On Thanksgiving, we should give thanks that God is merciful. Let us pray for His mercy, and not His justice. For DeLay, for Burnley, and for us.


9:33 am on November 25, 2010