Edwards indicted: Couldn’t happen to a more deserving slimeball

June 3, 2011

Pardon me while I laugh with glee and do a jig:

Former presidential candidate John Edwards was indicted Friday on criminal charges by a federal grand jury in Raleigh, N.C, for misusing campaign funds to cover up an affair.

Edwards faces six counts — four of illegal campaign contributions, one of conspiracy and one of false statements.

Edwards, a Democrat who served one term in the Senate representing North Carolina and who was Sen. John Kerry’s (D-Mass.) vice presidential running mate in 2004, fell from grace over the last three years after admitting an affair with Rielle Hunter and then that he had fathered a child with his former staffer, all while his wife Elizabeth Edwards battled cancer.

Earlier Friday, there were reports that talks toward a plea deal between Edwards’s lawyers and the Justice Department had collapsed.

I have despised John Edwards with a visceral passion ever since he came on the national scene in 2004. Everything about him screamed “hypocrite,” “phony,” and “fraud.” He was an unctuous snake-oil salesman who personified all the worst, most cynical aspects of our politics and legal system. (Hey, he was a plaintiff’s trial lawyer who made his money off exploiting medical malpractice suits. What did we expect?) He’s the living embodiment of Elmer Gantry, a con artist who’d take your trust, your money, and your vote, pat you on the back, and laugh inside at what a fool he’s made of you. In all the years since, I have never understood how anyone could fall for his act.

Really, I have to ask of any (hopefully former) Edwards supporters in the audience: How could you be so dumb?

And to think, but for a few thousand votes in Ohio, this sanctimonious charlatan almost became vice-president, one gunshot or heart attack from the Oval Office, itself.

My friends we truly dodged a nightmare in 2004, and I don’t just mean having Lurch for president.

But once again we see how hubris is brought down by nemesis; in this case, John Edwards was the instrument of his own destruction.

It’s a reminder that there is Justice in the world, and yes, I take great pleasure in this moment.

Enjoy your stay at Club Fed, John!

RELATED: Previous posts on John Edwards.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Bombshell allegation: Mexican presidents colluded in drug trafficking?

March 1, 2011

And the accuser isn’t some minor politico or crime figure, but a former state governor from the long-time ruling party, the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI) . According to Borderland Beat, Mexican presidents from Miguel de la Madrid through Ernesto Zedillo, nearly 20 years, bought social peace by telling the cartels which routes they could use to bring their drugs to the United States and which areas they had to leave alone:

In a conference with students held on Wednesday, February 23, at the Law School of the Autonomous University of Coauhuila in Saltillo, Socrates Rizzo delivered a bombshell that has rocked Mexico as the campaign for the 2012 presidential election approaches.

During an interview session the former PRI Governor admitted that previous PRI presidents held strong control over drug trafficking routes that prevented the attacks on civilians and the violence that Mexico is undergoing today.

Although an open secret in Mexican society and a charge occasionally leveled publicly by the country’s two other major political parties, the National Action Party (PAN) and the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD), this is the first time in recent history that a former or current PRI politician has admitted publicly that this arrangement existed.

“Somehow the problems with drug trafficking were avoided, there was a strong State control and a strong President and a strong Attorney General and a tight control of the Army.”

“Somehow they (drug traffickers) were told: ‘You go through here, you here, you there’, but do not touch these other places,” he said in his speech.

The former Governor added that this strategy allowed the State to ensure the social peace that has been lost in the war on drugs launched by the PAN administration of Felipe Calderon.

“What the old guard says is that we had control by the Government and the Army. The big problem is consumption, and while consumption exists in the U.S. there will be drug trafficking in that direction.”

“What control by the PRI governments guaranteed was that drug trafficking did not disturb the social peace.”

Former Governor Rizzo also said Mexico’s current troubles with violence began with the electoral victory of the National Action Party‘s (PAN) presidential candidate, Vicente Fox, in 2000. They knew nothing of the deal with the cartels, didn’t want to know, and indeed tried to crack down, with the bloody results we’ve seen in years since, especially since President Calderón took office in 2006. In fact, the PRI candidate in 1994, Luis Donaldo Colosio, may have been assassinated by the cartels because he didn’t want to play along, breaking the deal. Rizzo laughably says the problem with the PAN presidents was a lack of “professionalism.” I guess “professional” in his book means “willing to play along.”

Not that the three PRI presidents, de la Madrid, Salinas de Gortari, and Zedillo were just honest brokers trying to spare their people as much as possible. Concern for their people may have been part of it, but they and those under them were getting their cut, too. In fact, the corruption grew so bad under Salinas that his predecessor, de la Madrid, was shocked at his greed. (Sort of like Louis in “Casablanca?”)

Rizzo retracted his story the next day under heavy criticism, especially from two Mexican senators from the PRI Party, Manlio Fabio Beltrones and Fernando Baeza Melendez, both former governors themselves and both reputedly in tight with the cartels. Fabio Beltrones, in particular, is mentioned as a possible presidential candidate next year, should the party’s golden boy, Enrique Peña Nieto, falter. Wouldn’t that be sweet if he wins? “We’re back in business, boys!”

The trouble with Rizzo’s retraction, however, is that his accusations are just too plausible: not only are his critics rumored to have heavy ties to the cartels, but the problem with violence after Calderón started his crackdown didn’t spring from nowhere. Large cartels were known to exist in the 80s, for example, Rafael Caro Quintero’s Guadalajara Cartel. It’s hard to believe they could do the volume of business they did in the 80s and 90s without some sort of under-the-table official protection.

And corruption in Mexico is known to have crawled up into the federal ranks. With that much money at stake, it’s inevitable  that a lot was spread around to ensure “cooperation.” But it didn’t happen overnight, and Rizzo’s allegations argue that these corrupted cops were just following El Presidente’s lead — at least until the new guys screwed up a sweet deal.

But don’t think that this can be solved by Calderón or his successor cutting another deal with the Devil. As the Borderlands piece points out, Mexico now has its own drug consumption problem, and these guys are fighting over markets inside the country, not just for prime routes north. It will be much harder for Fabio Beltrones, for example, to come to a new understanding with the cartels that allows him to tell them what to do.

Of course, the big question for us is “Isn’t this all history?” In a sense, yes. What those three presidents did years ago has done its damage in the United States, and Mexico is now paying the price of cleaning it up — if it can be cleaned up. The monster de la Madrid and his successors summoned may have grown too big for their successors to defeat without a lot more blood being spilled, which has predictable implications for our own security.

But one also has to ask what happens if PRI wins the next election, particularly if Fabio Beltrones or some other cartel-friendly candidate becomes president. If Rizzo’s accusations are true, then it is a dubious question whether almost any PRI president and his administration can be considered a reliable partner against the cartels — or whether he is their partner.

Do read the whole thing. It’s long and it relies in part on rumor and anonymous sources, but it has a disturbing ring of truth to it, too.

via Business Insider

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)

How corrupt is the Congressional Black Caucus?

November 16, 2010

I asked that question a few months ago. Now we have another fact with which to build answer. Actually, we have 11 facts, as the Democrat-dominated House Ethics Committee found Congressman Charles Rangel (D-Corruption) guilty on 11 of 13 counts against him:

Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), the chairwoman of the adjudicatory subcommittee and the full House ethics committee, announced the decision late Tuesday morning following an abbreviated public trial of the 20-term lawmaker and nearly six hours of deliberations.

“We have tried to act with fairness, led only by the facts and the law,” Lofgren said. “We believe we have accomplished that mission.”

The full ethics panel will now convene a sanctions hearing to recommend a punishment. Serious sanctions — including formal reprimand, censure or expulsion — require a vote on the House floor. Expulsion requires a two-thirds vote, while a reprimand, which Rangel refused to agree to in July, or a censure would need just a simple majority. The ethics panel could also impose a fine and diminish some of Rangel’s privileges.

While Rangel richly deserves expulsion, don’t expect that to happen. The Democrats would almost certainly never toss out one of their own (Especially one who knows where a lot of bodies are buried), and the CBC would have an absolute fit; Rangel is a co-founder of the Caucus and one of the longest-serving African Americans in the House. And with (soon to be ex-)Speaker Pelosi needing their votes to remain as minority leader (and she already has trouble on that flank)… No, there’s no way Charlie gets shown the door. Most likely is a reprimand and perhaps the permanent loss of his committee chairmanship seniority.

If Rangel is smart, he’ll take his medicine now, before the Republicans gain control of the House.

As for the corruption of the CBC, I suspect the long-overdue clean up will be starting soon.

EDIT: Made the change above since, with the election, Charlie’s post as Chairman is gone for good.

UPDATE: From David Freddoso, word that Charlie is in denial.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)

Just how corrupt is the Congressional Black Caucus? Part two

September 8, 2010

A follow-up to this story:  It seems Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson was a lot more directly involved than she has admitted in funneling scholarship money meant for poor children to her own relatives:

Letters bearing Eddie Bernice Johnson’s signature ask that scholarship money be sent directly to her grandsons

Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson apparently asked the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation to send scholarship checks directly to her two grandsons and two great-nephews, rather than to their colleges.

Johnson has insisted repeatedly that she left scholarship decisions to aides.

But two letters she sent the foundation from 2006 undermine claims that she wasn’t involved in obtaining $31,000 for her relatives and two other ineligible recipients.

Neither her aides nor the foundation responded to repeated requests to discuss the letters, which were obtained separately by The Dallas Morning News and by Johnson’s GOP challenger, Stephen Broden, who released them Tuesday.

But the letters suggest a far more direct role for the Dallas Democrat than she acknowledged in the last week after revelations by The News that she awarded at least 23 scholarships to her relatives and the children of a top staffer – in violation of the foundation’s nepotism and residency rules.

“There have been statements made by Congresswoman Johnson that she was oblivious to the process and that she was sort of detached from it and was not involved in the detail,” Broden said. “We see here that she was orchestrating how the checks should be made out.”

The letters are on Johnson’s U.S. House letterhead. They bear a fax stamp from her Dallas office and a signature that appears to match hers from previous correspondence unrelated to the scholarships.

Oh, my. What’s that hand doing in the cookie jar, Eddie?

As Ed Morrissey puts it, if you’re going to be a crook, don’t leave a paper trail.

As a reminder, you can help clean up Dallas politics by donating to Congreswoman Johnson’s opponent, the Reverend Stephen Broden.

LINKS: More from Pajamas Media.

EDIT: Forgot to include the link to the Dallas Morning News story. D’oh!

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)

Just how corrupt is the Congressional Black Caucus?

August 30, 2010

First Charlie Rangel, then Maxine Waters, and now Eddie Bernice Johnson:

Longtime Dallas congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson has awarded thousands of dollars in college scholarships to four relatives and a top aide’s two children since 2005, using foundation funds set aside for black lawmakers’ causes.

The recipients were ineligible under anti-nepotism rules of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, which provided the money. And all of the awards violated a foundation requirement that scholarship winners live or study in a caucus member’s district.

Johnson, a Democrat, denied any favoritism when asked about the scholarships last week. Two days later, she acknowledged in a statement released by her office that she had violated the rules but said she had done so “unknowingly” and would work with the foundation to “rectify the financial situation.”

Initially, she said, “I recognized the names when I saw them. And I knew that they had a need just like any other kid that would apply for one.” Had there been more “very worthy applicants in my district,” she added, “then I probably wouldn’t have given it” to the relatives.

Uh-huh. Sure. We’re to believe a Representative who’s been in office for almost 20 years, chaired the CBC, and sat on the board of this foundation didn’t know that giving money to her grandkids and the children of her aide -none of whom lived in the district- violated the rules? That there were no children from poor families in her district who were better qualified? None?

I bet she promised to respect her constituents in the morning, too.

I’ll grant that corruption is a bipartisan problem (Remember Duke Cunningham?), but it does seem the CBC has more than its fair share. (Let’s not forget a former member, William ‘Icebox” Jefferson)

The problem has nothing to do with their ethnicity, of course, and everything to do with a sense of entitlement born of being in DC far too long, in which “public service” becomes “the public serves me.” Combine control over money with a sense of “I make the rules, so I can break them,” and this is what you get: a politician who thinks of herself as a modern day aristocrat, not a public servant.

Corruption, I think, is also more a problem with modern social liberalism, with its emphasis on government solutions by concentrating money and its distribution in the hands of politicians and bureaucrats, creating temptation. Again, “If the money is mine to distribute, what does it hurt if a little of it goes to help my own?” Nothing, except for gutting the belief that anyone else outside of the well-connected few has a fair shot at it. To the extent that CBC members are almost all social liberals (at least) and statists, it shouldn’t be surprising that these problems keep showing up among its members.

The solution, of course, is to replace oligarchs like Johnson, Rangel, and Waters with genuine representatives who will treat public money as a public trust, not a private piggy bank. And, while I’ve been opposed to term limits for legislators in principle, this is another in a long series of incidents that’s slowly changing my mind: if the problem is caused in part by being in Washington too long, then perhaps we should limit how long a person can stay there.

LINKS: More from Hot Air. Moe Lane points out that Congresswoman Johnson not only diverted money to her own family, but helped create her own district. An oligarch, indeed. Her opponent in November is the Reverend Stephen Broden. Perhaps we can all help clean up Congress by sending a little money his way.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)

When crooks no longer fear the cops

August 2, 2010

President Obama’s hometown of Chicago has a problem: a declining clearance rate for violent crime has lead to an increase in crimes such as robbery and murder, which is further fed by declining morale in an underfunded, undermanned police department. The situation is so bad, even the cops themselves are being gunned down in the streets:

And it gets worse. Three Chicago police officers have been murdered in the last two months, the most recent of whom was Michael Bailey, who at age 62 was only weeks away from retirement. On the morning of July 18, Bailey had finished an overnight shift guarding the home of Chicago Mayor Richard Daley and was in front of his own home cleaning his new car, which he had bought as an early retirement gift to himself. He was still dressed in his police uniform when someone tried to rob him. Police officers everywhere accept the risks to life and limb attendant to the job, but it’s generally taken for granted among cops that the uniform will serve as a deterrent against being robbed on the street. What level of depravity has a city reached when a uniformed police officer is no safer from a street robbery than anyone else? More important, what is to be done about it?

Other problems come to mind besides the lack of money and competent leadership that Dunphy talks about in his article: Chicago is a city with an absolute ban on handgun ownership, though that’s now been overturned in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision in McDonald v. Chicago. Criminals know that their victims are likely to be unarmed and that itself makes violent crime a less risky proposition for the criminal. In effect, gun control increases crime. Perhaps if the City of Chicago would stop fighting its residents rights under the Constitution, violent crime rates would drop.

The other problem that comes to mind is the notorious corruption of Chicago, itself. It’s not surprising that the cities Dunphy mentions as having worse murder rates than Chicago, New Orleans and Detroit, both also have serious problems with corruption. Corruption not only steals the public’s money and cheats them of the services for which they’ve paid, but it also saps morale among those who serve the public and aren’t corrupt themselves, inevitably making problems such a city’s crime rate worse.

To turn back to Chicago, how bad must the decline of law and order be, when criminals don’t fear even the police? Bad enough that one of its own cops says the city is on the fast track to anarchy.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)

Transparency Watch: Oh, that 40-grand!

June 29, 2010

Somewhere in my memory, way back around the time Obama was elected and a new era of Hope and Change had dawned for America, the then-candidate promised us a new era of transparency in government.

That was then, this is now:

White House aide failed to disclose $40K payout

President Barack Obama’s political director failed to disclose that he was slated to receive a nearly $40,000 payout from a large labor union while he was working in the White House.

Patrick Gaspard, who served as the political director for the Service Employees International Union local 1199, received $37,071.46 in “carried over leave and vacation” from the union in 2009, but he did not disclose the agreement to receive the payment on his financial disclosure forms filed with the White House.

In a section on his financial disclosure where agreements or arrangements for payment by a former employer must be disclosed, Gaspard checked a box indicating that he had nothing to report.

Bill Burton, a White House spokesman, told POLITICO Monday that Gaspard was in the process of correcting his disclosure form to reflect that he did in fact have an agreement for severance.

“We have made the small administrative change to this year’s and last year’s forms to indicate that part of the final payment to Patrick reflected their typical severance of one week of pay for each of his nine years of service at Local 1199 of SEIU,” Burton wrote POLITICO in an e-mailed statement.

Such financial disclosures are governed by federal law, but Stan Brand, a former House general counsel and ethics expert, said the Justice Department is unlikely to pursue an investigation unless they suspected a “knowing or willful” intent to deceive.

Call me a paranoid, racist, dangerous right-wing potential extremist (and don’t forget “Nazi!“, too), but I find it hard to believe that someone could just forget $40,000 paid out to him by his former employer, especially when he needed the money to pay down nearly $80,000 in debts.  Hey, it happens all the time, right?

Oh, and the former employer happens to be a powerful union allied with one’s new boss and his political program. And that union’s then-head was and is a frequent visitor to the White House.

What a coincidence.

They must be using the Tammany Hall definition of “transparency.”

(via Ed Morrissey)