Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Ill-gotten Gains

To those who have only recently moved to Maryland, the news that the county executive in Prince George's County, which is down near DC, was arrested along with his wife and charged with various corrupt activities must have been quite a shock.  People were shocked - shocked! - to hear of frantic phone conversations with the man and his wife as he told her to flush a check down the toilet and put cash in her bra, as feds were pounding on the front door.

Not for nothing did National Lampoon magazine label Maryland as the "Cradle Of Graft" back in the good old days.  And a man named Spiro Agnew took our area to the top of the junk heap of crooks.

Agnew, as a local politician, began shaking down contractors and builders.  You want to do business here, you give me 5% of what you take, was the plan, and so contractors and builders started showing up with envelopes and canvas bags full of money.

Nixon (r) picked Agnew. Agnew (l) picked pockets.
Running on a platform of unbridled ("You've seen one slum, you've seen them all") racism, Agnew became governor of Maryland and after two nonglorious years in that office, was chosen to be vice-president of the United States, for crying out loud, by Richard Nixon.  This was 1968, six years after Nixon lost the California governor's race to Jerry Brown's father, and Nixon promised at that time that he would not run for office ever again anywhere.

So much for that.  He took Agnew along for the ride and won election as president in '68, and thereafter let Agnew be his mouthpiece for spewing out hateful, albeit alliterative, rhetoric.  Agnew referred to those who opposed any Nixonian policy as "pusillanimous pussyfooters", "nattering nabobs of negativism" and "hopeless, hysterical hypochondriacs of history".  This man, who went around taking cash kickbacks as a government official, had the nerve to call opponents "an effete corps of impudent snobs who characterize themselves as intellectuals."

Guys like that always hate people with intellect, and intellectual honesty.

It was funny;  you never saw Nixon and Agnew doing anything together.  Even Nixon must have found his company undesirable, I don't know.  And when Nixon's Watergate chickens came home to roost, Agnew would have been next in line to be president, presumably the first president to be receiving foreign dignitaries and heads of state AND men bearing canvas sacks stuffed with loot in the Oval Office on the same day.  Yes, he could have moved into the White House!

Except that back home here, federal prosecutors were going over the books of some of the guys who had bought Agnew off, and they were more than willing to sing like canaries to avoid having to move to the Big House.  They talked, Agnew walked, and lived out his days in infamy as a disgrace to our area.

But whenever crooks gather and talk about the greats of the past, that's when they bring up his name, and his canvas sacks, and his ignominious deeds.  His wife never had to hide cash in her bra!

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