Bad Guys In High Places


Bad Guys In High Places


Leonard Zwelling

Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman wrote a piece in The New York Times about power and money and the power the monied have over the rest of us. I would like to focus on the power part. That the law is different for the rich is not exactly a news bulletin. The question is whether or not there will be some accountability for bad guys with power who also have money or are free to use the funds of others.

Let’s start with my nominee for scoundrel of the year, Clarence Thomas. Enough cannot really be said about how awful a person he is. This was evident to many at his initial Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. Now we are learning how little Justice Thomas cares about how the world views him. He has taken millions of dollars in free luxury, international vacations and air travel from a billionaire and disclosed none of it despite there being clear rules that he should have disclosed at least the travel. Surely, if a sitting justice of the Supreme Court cannot see the appearance of a conflict of interest here, not to mention true hypocrisy (he’s more of an RV guy, right) then he doesn’t belong anywhere near deciding the fate of others.

Krugman’s next villain is Ron DeSantis. This one is actually funny because the GOP was looking to DeSantis to sound like Trump, but be a regular Republican. Surprise. He thinks exactly like Trump only he’s got less baggage and is much younger–not to mention he is willing to pick fights with Mickey Mouse. The GOP may be falling out of love with DeSantis before they could even fall in love with him. As Krugman says: “some of those donors (for DeSantis) are bailing, because it looks increasingly as if DeSantis’s intolerance and conspiracy theorizing weren’t a political show—they’re who he really is. And the big money was looking for a charlatan, not a genuine fanatic.” Like Clarence Thomas, the walls may be closing in on Ron DeSantis before he ever declares his intention to run for the White House.

But my favorite powerful, rich guy who has gotten his comeuppance is Rupert Murdoch and his Foxies. Just as the jury was seated and waiting for the opening arguments of the Dominion Voting Machines’ lawyers in Fox’s trial for defamation, the sides settled. I guess this is some accountability but admit it, you really wanted to see Tucker Carlson on the witness stand explaining why he thought one thing about the 2020 election, but reported otherwise. (Of course, now you can’t even see Tuck on TV).

I know most of our media is biased one way or another but to broadcast what you know to be untrue and hurt other people while doing it is beneath even the yellowest of yellow journalists. Frankly, I think Mr. Murdoch ought to fire the lot of them and start afresh with some conservatives with integrity. His current crew clearly has none.

We may well be in a time when the truly guilty are made to pay a price for their lies and cheating. Clarence Thomas ought to be forced off the bench or, if he refuses to step down, be impeached.

DeSantis can go on fighting Disney, a huge wealth-producer for his state. How much sense does that make and how much of a winner will “Trump-lite” be?

Finally, I hope the journalists (if you can call them that) at Fox are truly held accountable and apologize, not just to Dominion, but to their viewers for knowingly lying to their audience because Fox was telling its viewers what they wanted to hear. That’s not the job of a news agency. Like scientists, the media must be driven by the truth. When it strays, it pays and today Fox paid.

Bad guys do seem to be getting to the top more now than ever, although there have always been awful leaders who were both corrupt and uncaring. Nonetheless, psychopathology seems common in the corner office. Maybe, a few of these guys (and it’s all guys except for Ginni Thomas) will be held accountable this time.  Maybe….


Dr. Zwelling’s new novel, Conflict of Interest: Money Drives Medicine and People Die is available at:,

on amazon at:


directly from the publisher Dorrance at:

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