Dec 092012

Every two years, another crop of freshman senators and representatives descends on Washington, and one of the very first things they do is attempt to contact me for the answers to a number of… well, shall we say, very special questions.  As a matter of fact, since I started this Web log, every two years I have run a post which presents the answers to their truly singular list of inquiries, so as to mitigate the annoyance of having freshman senators, congress-persons or, more often, their simpering flunkies, button-holing me at restaurants, cocktail parties, theaters, and even my health club gym locker room in search of that information.
This most recent group, I am pleased to note, however, has proven to be a lesser pack of conniving, prevaricating, stump-mounting wind bags than in 2010.  Then, they were falling all over one another, clamoring like a mob of highwaymen gathered around a gleaming pile of rare booty, trying desperately to best their colleagues in a mad dash to sell out the suckers who voted for them, lest the other guys get to that pot of gold at the end of K Street before they did.  The Freshman Class of 2012, by contrast, is somewhat less maniacal than their predecessors two years ago.  Why this might be the case, I can only speculate.  Perhaps their relatively more circumspect attitude is borne of a sense of impending doom as our great Republic lurches toward the abyss awaiting it at the edge of the Fiscal Cliff.  Alternatively, maybe the simple, direct explanation is that, in comparison to the raving, roaring Tea Partiers who rode into Washington last time like a rapacious horde of drunken Shriners out to fornicate at every brothel in town before the convention ends, this latest flock of turkeys is just a bunch of callow wimps.  But, in any event, without further ado, here’s the scoop on the perennial favorite Congressional Freshman FAQs!  First, newly-elected senator or representative, you must fully comprehend that you are the one in the position of power.  Lobbyists have no power, but that which they can purchase or suborn from you.  Therefore, you should deal from a position of power.  The lobbyist has but one objective, and that is to obtain a portion of your power for the use of their clients.  Remember that to sell or barter your power away to others is to betray your sacred trust to the American people, who elected you, and consequently to expose yourself to a great deal of risk.  It follows that you must sell the power that you are stealing from the American people at the dearest price you can possibly command.  After all, if you do get caught, the amounts of payment and objects of barter for your power will be exposed.  In short, the public will hear what you sold out for, and they will weigh it carefully in their minds.  Bear well in your own mind, then, should they learn that you sold out for a dozen five hundred dollar lunches, three tickets to the Masters golf tournament, six Redskins box seats, a few trysts with ordinary sex workers available through advertisements in the DC newspapers, a couple of eightballs of cocaine and ten thousand dollars, they will consider you nothing but a sleazy, disgusting, reprehensible, amoral, low-life criminal hypocrite.  And they will be right!  On the other hand, if they hear it breathlessly reported by handsome and beautiful news anchors on every channel that you sold out for an extended series of five-star repasts in the far-flung capitals of Europe taken during a “fact finding mission” approved beforehand by your committee chairman, a three week great white shark hunt on the Barrier Reef while “researching” Australian trade agreements, twenty VIP passes to the World Series while “investigating” steroid abuse, fifty trysts with known supermodels, all of which can be certified, in advance, as consensual, a kilo of cocaine found on your property, but not in your house, and twenty million dollars belonging to someone, but not necessarily to you, they will suspect that you have done wrong, but – and this “but” is a very important conjunction – they will realize that they, themselves, would have done just about anything in exchange for what you presumably got, and, at the polls, they will forgive you, even if the Attorney General of the United States has you running for re-election from a prison cell.
Because here is my point, newbie representative or senator: any lobbyist worth selling your public office to should be able to guarantee arrangement of all the qualifying conditions mentioned in the previous paragraph.  They should have enough established influence with Congress to ensure that your committee chairman signs off on your European junket without hesitation; enough clout with the USDA and Department of Commerce to make you an expert on Australian trade; enough pull with the Department of Justice and the DEA to have them write letters actually demanding that you go to the World Series to check out the performance enhancement substance problem; enough contacts in New York, Paris, Milan and Hollywood to lay droves of willing, compliant supermodels at your feet; enough sources in the drug cartels and private detective companies to assure delivery of heavy weight, pure Bolivian flake in a plausibly deniable scenario; and, enough moxie with the international financial machine to put at least twenty million dollars in your pockets without you having to admit to a single dime of it.  If they can’t, to hell with them, because, obviously, they are more pathetic, bush-league stumble-bums at the lobbyist game than even you are at being a member of Congress.
A necessary corollary to that conclusion is an accurate recognition of your constituents’ perception of your role in Washington, which is to bring them federal money.  Never make a deal with a lobbyist that affects one red cent of the funds you carve out of the national pork barrel for the folks at home.  To do so will lose you the next election even if you take the precaution of selling out for the highest price.  So, rape your esteemed colleagues’ constituents instead.  This is a time-honored Washington tradition, and it is an eternal verity that nobody ever got anywhere shoveling sand against the tide.
Now we must consider the correct etiquette for accepting bribes from lobbyists.  You must bear in mind that they, theoretically at least, could get into a lot of trouble bribing you.  Respect that.  Use the perquisites of your high office to obscure the purpose of meetings, or, better yet, to define them positively as “outreach,” “background study” or “legislative analysis.”  Make sure that official records exist that present these excuses, which are legally protected by your Congressional privileges, in a believable fashion.
Furthermore, come to accept the fact that lobbyists are not only very well funded by their clients, but also more worldly, and, by the very nature of their profession, more knowledgeable concerning bribery.  If you desire a good-looking female, male, she-male, trannie, he-girl or barnyard animal as an “escort,” don’t worry – they know where to get them.  For your part, it is incumbent upon you, the incumbent, to make sure they supply the best physical examples of these forms of erotic prostitution in return for your acts of political prostitution.  While experiencing what you think will fulfill you, however, it is also your responsibility not to end up on the front page of the Washington Post afterwards.  So, do not, as Congressman Wilbur Mills did, take a dip with your Foxie Fanny in the Tidal Basin.  Washington has more flavors of cops than Baskin-Robbins has flavors of ice cream, and if any of them spot you behaving like that, they will be professionally obligated to do something about it and, subsequently, file a written report.  Cops hate to write reports, so give them a break, okay?  If you think the guilt of having sex with someone (or some thing) provided by a lobbyist will make you behave like a gibbering lunatic, then do so in the basement of a private hunt club in Loudoun County, not downtown on the Mall.
Also, note that lobbyists themselves will sometimes offer to perform sexual favors.  You must always politely refuse and insist on something better.  Otherwise, absolutely nobody will respect you in the morning.
Now, we come to the subject which truly lies at the heart of the matter, that, of course, being the issue of cash bribes.  These should, ideally, be handled through an arcane, labyrinthine transfer of funds through offshore shell corporations, foreign private partnerships, anonymously owned holding companies and Luxembourg law firms, resulting in clandestine foreign bank accounts to which only you have access.  This is the way the Fortune 500 do it when they bribe foreign officials in order to get overseas business, and if it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for a member of the United States Congress.  Ideally, you will wait until after you have left office, then quietly withdraw wheelbarrows of money.  I know it’s a fact that few, if any, senators or representatives can actually exert such patience, but never trust a lobbyist who does not first propose this method to bribe you.  Nevertheless, I am also aware that for the new senator or representative, life in Washington can occasionally require large amounts of cash on an immediate basis.  If that circumstance develops, here are some important DO’s and DON’Ts.
DO ask for twenties.  Fifties and hundreds arouse suspicion (also, about twenty-six percent of the hundred dollar bills in current circulation are counterfeit, courtesy of North Korea) and DON’T drive to the bag drop in a car with Congressional license plates, dummy.  If you are smart, you will own – or at least have access to – multiple automobiles, and while one will, of course, be a grand, ostentatious number with Congressional license plates, please recognize that at least one other should be a cheap white Toyota Corolla or such-like nonentity ride equipped with ordinary DC-issued plates (and no, you aren’t required to have DC plates that say “Taxation Without Representation” on them, although you should know that having those on your second car will definitely make you appear to be nothing more than an ordinary Washingtonian and therefore pretty much guarantee that you will be essentially invisible everywhere in the DC Metro area).
DO drive to the bag drop in your car with the ordinary civilian DC plates.  And all right, if you are the dummy I was referring to (and there are plenty in Congress, believe me) who doesn’t already have access to, or own, two such cars, you have a choice.  You can either (a) buy the second car described; or, (b) you can drive to Frederick, Maryland or Front Royal, Virginia, where none of the locals give a hoot about Washington and will never recognize your name as a member of Congress, and rent a car.  Yes, there is a paper trail on a rental car, but if you get called on it, which isn’t likely, you can say that you had a flat during an excursion to a dinner theater, community arts center function or something, then suddenly realized you were right down the road from the car rental place and didn’t want arrive before the festivities ended, so you rented a car and then came back the next day and changed the tire yourself after returning the rental.  No way they can ever prove you didn’t change the tire yourself, out there in the boonies, provided you make a nasty hole in one of your tires later at home and change it yourself.  Just make sure that, after you pick up the money, you also show up at that Front Royal or Frederick dinner theater or arts center before the shindig is over and strike up a conversation with somebody who can alibi you in the future.  Check the pressure in your spare first, of course, unless you feel like pumping it up manually in your garage.  Obviously, strategy (b) doesn’t work if your name is a household word, like “Paul Ryan.”  But he’s an experienced member of Congress and knows how to handle sticky situations involving anecdotes about automobiles, while you don’t, otherwise you wouldn’t be bothering me for advice on how to get away with being bribed.
DO check the bills for marks.  If you don’t know how banks and law enforcement mark bills, go to Red Hot Johnson’s in Anacostia after 11:00 p.m. any Friday or Saturday night.  (Since first posting this advice, I have received a number of e-mails and other inquiries about Red Hot Johnson’s.  And yes, the many folks who wrote me to point this out are quite correct – there is no night club in Anacostia called “Red Hot Johnson’s.”   In actual fact, Red Hot Johnson’s is registered with the city as a private fraternal organization under another name.  Nevertheless, everybody in Anacostia knows where it is.  To find the location, just go to Anacostia, stop anyone you see on the street there, cordially address them in their quaint Anacostian Ebonic dialect and offer them the traditional Washington street-smart remuneration which is customarily exchanged for directions to a private nightclub.  In local Ebonics, the honorific “Bee-atch,” derived from the Yoruba Creole phrase meaning “noble gentleman” or “gracious lady,” as the case may be, serves as the traditional friendly salutation to strangers, while the usual tip for directions to a private nightclub is twenty dollars.  So, upon approaching the Anacostian, first say, “Yo, Bee-atch, what up?”  Then, grasping a twenty dollar bill at each end with the thumb and forefinger of your right and left hands, indicate your familiarity with local social customs by snapping the bill smartly three times directly in front of your interlocutor, upside down with the White House facing them, about two inches from the tip of their nose, and continue with, “I be [Senator/Congressman/Congresswoman] [Your Name] from up on de Capitol Hill.  Where da Red Hot Johnson at?”  Occasionally, your entreaty will be snubbed.  This is usually because the native Anacostian with whom you are speaking disapproves of your Ebonics.  It’s rather like the behavior which some residents of Paris exhibit when American tourists try to ask where the Louvre is while using their rusty high school French.  Fortunately, not all Anacostians are so particular, so if you fail, simply continue to approach people on the street with this routine until you experience other results.)  When you get to Red Hot Johnson’s, ask for Big Dick, the back doorman.  Tell him “Shizzle ma dizzle, yo’ momma so stupid, she go in for jury duty and get convicted.”  That’s the sign.  He will countersign with “What you talkin’ ‘bout my momma?”  You counter-countersign with “Just that she so fat, she got backup lights on her bedonkedonk.”  (That’s “bee-donk-uh-donk” by the way – I’ve gotten a lot of questions on how to pronounce it.)  Then give him $100 and ask for “a markup job.”  If you find any marked bills in your bribe, burn the whole pile thoroughly in your fireplace when nobody else is home and flush the ashes down the toilet, followed by two quart bottles of Drano Brand Max Gel and six bowls of water.  Then avoid the lobbyist who gave you the marked lettuce like a the Chinese avoid pollution controls and simply tap another one for a pile of clean currency.
DON’T store the cash in your home freezer, your office safe, your intern love monkey’s apartment or your car.  I mean really, come on.  Think how stupid you will look if you get caught.
DO arrange to receive the cash exactly at sunset, so it will be dark when you drive away.  It’s the license plates, stupid.
DON’T bring a paper sack for the money.  The cash will be delivered in a brief case, a gym bag, or, if it’s a really big bribe, in a suitcase.  The bag man will just hand you the damn thing.  Don’t let him see you standing there with a paper sack – people talk, word will get around, and standing there with a brown bag like the kid loading groceries on the checkout line at the Safeway is guaranted to make you look like a complete yokel.  It will ruin your reputation with the other members of Congress, and they will snicker and roll their eyes when you walk by.
DO take advantage of the Washington area’s extensive park system.  Know the official times for sunset on the days of your bribe drops.  All the parks in the Metro area close at sunset, and the ideal drop occurs five minutes before.  That’s because every park system in the area has at least a ten minute grace period prior to sunset, after which the responsible variety of park police start searching for night activity.  By the time they finish their doughnuts and coffee, you’ll be halfway back to your impressive downtown apartment – or whatever.
DON’T use the overlooks on the George Washington Parkway.  Richard Nixon’s Watergate gang used them, and every single one has had surveillance cameras trained on it since 1977.
DO extend courtesy to Washington’s extensive foreign diplomatic and espionage community.  Scout every prospective bribe drop point at least three times before using it, and do so at the time of day you intend to use it (i.e., five minutes before sunset).  If you see other well-dressed, middle aged, nervous people showing up, giving you the hairy eyeball, then, by golly, that place is taken already, and you should find another one.  Don’t worry, there are plenty of places to go around.  Just keep looking until you find one that isn’t already being used.  Few things are more embarrassing in this town than expecting an attaché case full of cool, unmarked Jacksons and getting a choice selection of Top Secret Air Force laser death ray design thumbdrives, a matched set of Russian nuclear bomb triggers, or a stack of DVDs presenting Bashar al-Assad’s plans for a chemical weapons attack.  Plus, who knows, if they realize at the last minute you are member of Congress, you might get kidnapped or shot – while attempting to be bribed.  Not good.
DON’T delegate the setup or the drop to anyone, least of all a member of your staff.  In general, if you do, they will be able to make ten times as much money as your cash bribe by selling the story of how they slavishly served you, yes, admired you, idolized you,  and seflessly sacrificed for you – you charismatic, scheming demon – until, at last, your evil finally got out of control, setting off a patriotic epiphany precipitated by a seemingly trivial but somehow revealingly sinister act on your part, transforming their souls, after which they saw, in a single bright, shining flash, that finking on you would make them rich and famous, yakking about their book with Oprah while you rot in stir, and so contacted the FBI.
DO turn that cash around within 36 hours.  Presumably, you need that wad to retire massive debts incurred by your secret, uncontrollable gambling habit; to pay hush money on your sordid past with people you would rather the public not know about; or to do something similar that requires complete confidentiality coupled with immediate and highly liquid funding.  So get that unpleasantness taken care of immediately and get that pile of dead presidents out of your life before you see them staring back at you from inside a pile of plastic baggies marked “EVIDENCE.”
DON’T take real estate instead of cash.  Don’t take cars, jewelry, furniture, 3D HDTVs, stereos, or any other merchandise instead of cash, either.  Such items are highly traceable and by no means a suitable substitute for cash.  Any lobbyist who offers you these things is most likely an FBI undercover agent or, more improbably, has less experience at their job than you do with yours.  Either way, avoid them like the plague.
DO make random checks of your cash bribe for counterfeits.  At the very least, get a counterfeit-detecting marker and swipe it on the bills.  An hour scrutinizing your swag for other obvious signs of funny money is a good investment against your cash payoff backfiring on you, whatever the reason for it.  If you don’t know how to spot counterfeit cash, look it up on the Internet, using the computers at a public library in Baltimore, Maryland, Richmond, Virginia or some otherplace equally removed from Washington, DC.  If you find any counterfeit bills in your bribe, burn the whole pile thoroughly in your fireplace when nobody else is home and flush the ashes down the toilet, followed by two quart bottles of Drano Brand Max Gel and six bowls of water.  Then avoid the lobbyist who gave you the fake simoleons like Mitt Romney avoids poor people and lean on another one for a pile of real money.
DON’T deposit cash bribes in a bank, even in a separate account, even under a pseudonym.  No kidding, you might as well just turn yourself in.  Look, you’re a member of Congress, not a scumbag pimp, inner-city crack dealer or some shady stolen-goods fence.  No, those people have connections to launder suitcases full of dirty twenty dollar bills.  You don’t.  And you don’t need them, either, because the lobbyists who want to bribe you are supposed to provide funds laundering services for members of Congress.  If you find yourself holding a huge sum of small, unmarked bills from a lobbyist, it should be because you asked for that and have an immediate use for it.  Otherwise, have your lobbyist launder the money for you.  If they can’t, then find another lobbyist who can and sell out to them instead.
Finally, in conclusion, may I advise every new member of the House or Senate, that if you can’t eat the lobbyists’ fancy food, swill their expensive drinks, travel on their extravagant junkets, get totally blasted off their illegal drugs, screw the “escorts” they procure for you, take their bags of money; and then vote any way you damn well please afterwards, you don’t deserve to be a member of Congress.