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House Minority Leader John Boehner frequently portrays himself as a no-nonsense fiscal hawk and friend of the little guy and gal. “While families struggle with rising costs of living, politicians are wasting their money on pork-barrel projects we don’t need,” he recently was quoted as saying.
Yet thanks to his campaign treasury and Leadership PAC, which he calls the “Freedom Project,” Boehner doesn’t have to worry much about increases in the cost of living. Between 2005 and 2007, the erstwhile stingy Boehner dropped roughly $685,000 on food, travel, entertainment, and fundraisers, according to figures compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.
Like a lot of politicians, Democrats as well as Republicans, Boehner makes liberal use of his political funds. In November 2006, Boehner won reelection by 26 percentage points over a Democratic rival whom he outspent $3 million to $3,000. Just three months later, he was hard at work raising (and spending) money during a golfing outing for big contributors to sunny Scottsdale, Arizona. There his Leadership PAC dropped $5,054 on lodging at the Boulders Resort and Golden Door Spa; $3,358 on food, beverages and greens fees at the Cochise/Geronimo Clubhouse, and $2,870 at Morton’s steakhouse.
During 2007 alone, Boehner used money from his political funds to pay for food or lodging at least 16 resorts or country clubs. His combined spending between 2005 and 2007 at the Wetherington Golf & Country Club alone came to nearly $60,000. Boehner’s three-year binge at the country club comes out to be roughly equivalent to the median family income (for a three-person family) in Boehner’s home state of Ohio.
More from Ken Silverstein:
Perspective — October 23, 2013, 8:00 am
How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy
Postcard — October 16, 2013, 8:00 am
A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits
On a Friday evening in January, a thousand people at the annual California Native Plant Society conference in San Jose settled down to a banquet and a keynote speech delivered by an environmental historian named Jared Farmer. His chosen topic was the eucalyptus tree and its role in California’s ecology and history. The address did not go well. Eucalyptus is not a native plant but a Victorian import from Australia. In the eyes of those gathered at the San Jose DoubleTree, it qualified as “invasive,” “exotic,” “alien” — all dirty words to this crowd, who were therefore convinced that the tree was dangerously combustible, unfriendly to birds, and excessively greedy in competing for water with honest native species.
In his speech, Farmer dutifully highlighted these ugly attributes, but also quoted a few more positive remarks made by others over the years. This was a reckless move. A reference to the tree as “indigenously Californian” elicited an abusive roar, as did an observation that without the aromatic import, the state would be like a “home without its mother.” Thereafter, the mild-mannered speaker was continually interrupted by boos, groans, and exasperated gasps. Only when he mentioned the longhorn beetle, a species imported (illegally) from Australia during the 1990s with the specific aim of killing the eucalyptus, did he earn a resounding cheer.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A tourism company in Australia announced a service that will allow users to take the “world’s biggest selfies,” and a Texas man accidentally killed himself while trying to pose for a selfie with a handgun.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”