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From Emily Yoffe in the Washington Post.
Like many Americans whose steady, reliable job has suddenly disappeared, Thomas Daschle cobbled together a bunch of gigs when he was laid off in 2004 by the people of South Dakota after more than two decades of representing them in Congress.
There was the day job at the law firm Alston & Bird that must have been blessedly free of the kind of dull legal minutiae that make up many a billable hour, since Daschle is not a lawyer. That paid $2.1 million over the past two years. The consulting position at InterMedia Advisors, a private equity firm, paid him $1 million a year. A senior partner there told The Post that Daschle did “a lot of helpful work,” which he declined to enumerate. A stream of speeches to businesses that had business with the government earned Daschle $500,000 during the past two years. There were directorships on several boards — BP Corp. alone paid him $250,000…
“He’s the gold standard for integrity in government,” said a former aide to Daschle, Andrea LaRue, herself now a lobbyist. In recent months, as the economy has melted down, we have all learned about the art of monetization — of turning things such as bad home equity loans into arcane derivatives and how there’s lots of money to be made out of monetization (until sometimes the money disappears). Even if we don’t know what Daschle did to earn all his money, we do know that when you monetize the job of Senate majority leader, as Daschle’s financial disclosure forms reveal, you come up with almost $5.3 million in two years. Gold standard, indeed.
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.”