Category Archives: Corruption

Alaska: Race is over

The prince has been dethroned. The long recount in Alaska is almost over, and not enough ballots remain to give convicted incumbent Senator Ted Stevens a chance of overtaking Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich. Next stop: prison. So long, Citizen Stevens; I recommend the bologna sandwich with mac-‘n’-cheese. (More here, here, and here.)

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-NC) had already written up a resolution of expulsion from the GOP conference just in case Stevens managed to stage a comeback, but DeMint was persuaded to hold off until the election results were certain. Now the expulsion plan has been shelved, as Alaskan voters have done the job Senate Republicans should have done months ago.

Total Senate seats in Democratic hands in the coming Congress: 58. Number of Senate races with results yet to be determined: two (MN and GA). Chances of a filibuster-proof Democratic majority: long, but still within reach, at least in terms of party. Republicans may be virtually incapable of mounting a filibuster in a practical sense anyway, given their demonstrated aversion to anything resembling a sense of unity.

Palin cleared, for what it’s worth by now

An independent panel (emphasis this time on “independent”) has exonerated Sarah Palin of wrongdoing in the dust-up formerly known as “Troopergate.” The panel was convened by the nonpartisan state Personnel Board with an independent investigator, instead of by one of Gov. Palin’s most vocal opponents in the Alaska legislature with an investigator bought and paid for by him. (More here and here.)

Of course the first “investigation,” spearheaded by State Sen. Hollis French, did the damage it was designed to do. Exoneration now comes too late for the damage to be undone. But then again, that was the point of French’s crusade to begin with…it was never to punish wrongdoing, just to punish opposition (which, in French’s fevered mind, amounts to a distinction without a difference).

How else to explain why French’s entire set of findings rested on the perceived violation of an unenforceable non-statute (a violation which the more recent investigation found wasn’t worth the air Sen. French wasted on it)? How else to explain why no charges were filed? How else to explain why the French panel’s findings were never adopted by the Alaska Legislature, or any committee or subcommittee thereof?

There is no other explanation. Sarah Palin did her job, and abused no aspect of the office. Sen. French tried to dance around it, and fortunately nobody applauded, but then he wasn’t going for the applause, was he?

ACORN goes to prison…to register MN voters

No, ACORN has not been sent to prison; I guess that comes later. In fact, they’ve gone willingly, and they’ve brought their clipboards with them.

An investigative report in Minnesota has found that ACORN workers went to prisons in an effort to add the wards of the state therein to the voting rolls. (Link via Hot Air; click through for interesting video.) Needless to say, Minnesota law forbids voting by convicted felons, let alone by those still serving out their sentences.

How convinced do you have to be of your own safety from the reach of the law in order to send your voter-registration apparatus into a place where you are virtually guaranteed to find nothing but throngs of the ineligible?

(I’m waiting for an ACORN spokesman to explain that they weren’t actually targeting the felons in Minnesota’s prison system. I’m laying odds that ACORN comes out and accuses America’s right wing of actively seeking to disenfranchise Minnesota’s prison catering community. Let the Ladle Guys Vote!)

Barbarians (AKA readers) at the gate

And here I thought this might actually go away.

The Obama-Khalidi tape, still in Los Angeles Times captivity, is drawing considerably more attention than the Times expected. The newspaper’s headquarters was confronted by a large crowd of Americans under the foolish, provincial impression that a videotape of a presidential candidate giving tacit approval to hours of Jew-hatred and Israel-bashing, and actively toasting its star purveyor, might actually be newsworthy, or at least that it might not be appropriate to stiffarm the thousands of people demanding that the videotape’s contents be released.

(Video courtesy of Mere Rhetoric, which has photos and more video at the link. More reaction here and here.)

So far, the reasons given by the Times for not releasing the tape (which was used as source material for a Times story by Peter Wallsten on Obama support among Palestinians), in chronological order over the course of the last five days, are:

  1. In a conversation between and Gateway Pundit’s Jim Hoft and Wallsten: “When I asked him about the video he said that as far as he was concerned he was through with the story.”
  2. Charles Johnson at Little Green Footballs got an email from the readers’ rep saying their reporting should be good enough: “The Times did write about the tape, so I’m not sure what you mean about suppressing the video or information from the video. Here is a copy of the report about the video.”
  3. Johnson blogged that Fox News’s Brit Hume asked the Times for their side of the story, to which they replied, “No comment.”
  4. The Times said in a statement replying to accusations from the McCain campaign: ““The Los Angeles Times did not publish the videotape because it was provided to us by a confidential source who did so on the condition that we not release it…The Times keeps its promises to sources.”
  5. Most recently, the Times expanded on that last one by telling an emailer the source might come to harm if the tape were released: “The reporter agreed with his source not to release the tape in return for getting acess to it…To break that agreement might put the source of the tape in jeopardy.”

So what do you think? Which one’s the truth, if any?

UPDATE: Gateway Pundit has Fox News video of Khalidi hiding from cameras and siccing security on the crew.

UPDATE II: Andrew McCarthy has an excellent rundown of the situation, explaining in great detail why the Times’s high-minded “journalistic ethics” blather isn’t worth the time wasted reading it.

UPDATE III: Jennifer Rubin at Pajamas Media has a link to a Khalidi lecture. Read the article and check the video…not a pretty picture.

Senator Palin? Doubtful. But what if…

Covert Zero brings up “an interesting point” (before throwing me a link…thanks!) from former defense analyst Chuck Spinney (H/T James Fallows):

“How much do you want to bet the Sarah Palin won’t replace Ted Stevens after being induced to run in a special election by “popular demand”?

Could happen, but that’s not a bet I’d take.

Explanation, and lots more wonkery with an even wilder scenario, below the break.

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Kiss Alaska goodbye. Thank Ted Stevens.

Newly convicted Sen. Ted Stevens is digging in his heels, and this blogger sees no sign of any intent to resign, before or after the election. The man honestly thinks he won’t spend day one in jail; I don’t think he’s capable of envisioning a Senate without him.

National Republicans are abandoning him, the state party is clinging to him, his fellow senators (of both parties) are talking openly about expelling him, and local political experts are still saying he might eke out one final re-election victory.

News developments, analysis, and more wonkery below the break.

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Welcome to the bighouse, Ted. Now what?

The Congressional Indicted Caucus officially has one fewer member. Senator Ted Stevens has been convicted on all counts. To quote a certain played-out, over-the-hill cartoonist: “Guilty, guilty, guilty!” (More here, here, here, and here.) For his part, Stevens has announced he will appeal, maintaining his innocence and lacerating the prosecutors for what I admit was some pretty messed-up lawyering.

I can’t say I’ll be sorry to see Sen. Stevens go, which will come as no surprise to WitSnapper readers (who may have read my thoughts on the man here, here, here, here, and elsewhere). His Senate seat will likely go to his Democratic opponent, Anchorage mayor Mark Begich, now effectively running unopposed. Republicans now are scrambling to assess their very limited options.

Bunches of scenario-weaving below the break.

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ACORN: 1.3 million? Well, more like 450K…

The New York Times is reporting that ACORN’s previous claims of having registered 1.3 million new voters were “vastly overstated;” turns out such figures are roughly three times too high. (H/T Captain Ed.)

In a concession coming from no less than Michael Slater, the executive director of Vote Smart (the arm of ACORN responsible for registration drives), the actual number of legitimate new registrants is closer to 450,000:

The remainder are registered voters who were changing their address and roughly 400,000 that were rejected by election officials for a variety of reasons, including duplicate registrations, incomplete forms and fraudulent submissions from low-paid field workers trying to please their supervisors, Mr. Slater acknowledged.

450,000 new registrants, as opposed to 1.3 million previously claimed, with 400,000 rejected. So as much as one-third of ACORN’s entire registration haul for the year (and nearly one-half of their new registrants) were suspect. And that’s according to a statement by the head of Vote Smart himself, who has a vested interest in maximizing ACORN’s registration numbers for the media; heaven only knows what the actual share of questionable registration forms might be.

Another element of the story worthy of note is that the suspect forms were rejected by election officials; that means 400,000 fraudulent registrations that ACORN missed, and gave their stamp of approval. (I’m going on the admittedly starry-eyed assumption that ACORN checks these forms even half as earnestly as they say they do before dumping them on election boards.) This puts in a whole new light the 200,000 questionable forms Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner refuses to allow county election boards to check against state databases.

One of ACORN’s most oft-repeated defenses (if you can call it one) is one of semantics. Whenever accused of “voter fraud,” ACORN representatives bristle and say that these are, if anything, cases of “voter registration fraud.” I’ll grant that the law does make that distinction, and punishes outright voter fraud more severely. That having been said, such a defense is akin to a burglar saying he didn’t break into a man’s house and beat him into a coma; he simply broke in and made off with his new flat-screen TV, and how dare you even think he’d be capable of such a savage crime? The truth is that there is no appreciable voter fraud without voter registration fraud of the kind ACORN enables, and even encourages (implicitly or explicitly). And I’m not even going to mention that ACORN, as a tax-exempt organization, is forbidden from engaging in partisan activity, which includes their use of funds transferred from Vote Smart.

I’m still waiting for the RICO indictments.

Are Murtha’s days numbered? Polls say maybe.

Rep. John Murtha, whose claims to fame include Abscam conspiracy, slandering Marines, smearing half his own state as racist, and serving up enough pork in Congress to supply Oktoberfest, may be watching his custom-gerrymandered seat slip away.

One poll recently released has Murtha’s Republican opponent, Bill Russell, pulling within the margin of error in the upcoming election, while another poll leaked to Miz Michelle by her Pennsylvania source shows Russell with a comfortable lead.

No need to remind me that I just tossed up the world’s longest freakin’ post on how I think the polls this year are about as useful for toilet paper as they are for predicting elections. However, given that Murtha is a guy who has held this seat since 1974, who typically considers a 2-to-1 victory margin on Election Night a squeaker, who lives in a district with a 63% Democratic registration roll, and who is running in a “we all hate Republicans worse than liver worse than root canals” year, it is absolutely unheard of that Russell, a Republican Iraq hawk who won a spot on the ballot with a write-in campaign, could be giving Murtha the race of his life.

I don’t think it’s petty of me to note how anxiously I am looking forward to seeing Murtha assuming long overdue civilian status, bringing with him little but his shredded dignity, his Abscam souvenirs, his various coffee mugs from his favorite defense contractors, and his pending slander suits.

UPDATE: Commenter MommaMT (see below) is kind enough to alert me that the “worse than liver” expression is not quite apt in significant parts of Pennsylvania. I hope my substitution is satisfactory.

Transparency: Sure beats McCain-Feingold!

The McCain-Feingold “Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act” is one of the things for which I will never forgive John McCain.  Nor, for that matter, will I forgive President Bush for signing it into law, as anyone will know who watched/heard me growling obscenities at the TV while the President commented, during the freakin’ signing ceremony, on how he was pretty sure it was unconstitutional, but was going to sign it anyway because he was sure the Supreme Court would get his back (anyone remember how that turned out?).

I believed then, and still believe now, that total transparency would be far more effective in weeding out corrupt influences arising from questionable campaign contributions, combined with far more effective screening techniques for weeding out fake IDs used for multiple submissions and other contribution fraud.

Which brings me to my point.  I saw something from Captain Ed today, the looks of which I liked a whole lot.  The RNC is planning to use the filthy lucre in Barack Obama’s campaign vault as a hit point in an ad campaign calling on him to be far more transparent about his own campaign donors.

Obama first distinguished himself as a target of suspicion on this front when he went back on his word to subject himself to public campaign financing, allowing him to collect unlimited amounts of money and at the same time be really cagey about where the money was coming from.  Last month alone, the Obama campaign raised a stench-ridden $150 million.

The RNC has responded by launching a new website allowing access to a database containing the first names, last names, and amount donated of all people donating $200 or less since John McCain officially became the Republican nominee (i.e. since the convention, after which his campaign switched to public money and the RNC began running issue ads to supplement his campaign effort).  They are calling upon Obama to do the same with his donors up to $200.

Thing is, Obama is balking.  The law does not require that he do so, of course, but given his pledge to be a different kind of politician, on top of the brazen breach of his public-financing promise, people are going to wonder what he’s hiding.

For their part, journalists are having trouble thinking of a good reason why Obama would be reluctant to release the names and donation amounts of his donors.  It’s not enough information on them for other Democrats to use the database for their own fundraising purposes (which would rob Obama of a terrific power-brokering tool).  Might it be that the database might include too many donors named “Doodad Pro” or “Jgtj Jfggjjfggj”…?

Captain Ed sums up their quandary:

There really is no good reason not to reveal their donors.  If the RNC can do it with a website in the middle of a presidential campaign, then the Obama campaign certainly can as well.  Do they want to admit to a certain amount of incompetence at basic data management that will undermine their tech-savvy patina, especially after shooting themselves in the foot for making fun of John McCain’s inability to use e-mail?  I think not.

Hey, when all anti-First Amendment regulation regimes fail, transparency moves in to pick up the slack.  At least it might turn lack of transparency in fundraising, at long last, into a campaign liability, which is as it should be.

Stevens trial: It’s all over but the sequestering

Testimony ended Monday as the defense rested its case in Sen. Ted Stevens’s corruption trial, apparently back on track after a major snafu by prosecutors led a judge to threaten a mistrial three weeks ago.

Closing arguments were delivered after Sen. Stevens himself was cross-examined, by what must have been a very exasperated prosecutor.  The Los Angeles Times describes a very cagey senator who, though expensive items were left at his house by their owners and never retrieved, somehow didn’t count as “gifts:”

Public integrity attorney Brenda Morris repeatedly challenged Stevens on the witness stand Monday, saying his explanation that the items in question were not gifts, even though they remained at his homes, was not plausible.   

Morris asked Stevens about a $2,700 Brookstone massage chair delivered to his home in Washington in 2001. Stevens has taken the position that the chair was a loan from a friend. But he acknowledged on cross-examination that it remains in his home to this day.

“How is that not a gift?” Morris asked.

“We have lots of things in our house that don’t belong to us, ma’am,” Stevens replied.

I’ll bet you do, Senator.  It’s going to be tough to convince a jury, I think, that you were never billed for any of them.

Stevens is accused of accepting over $200,000 in gifts, including home renovations, furniture, and sculpture, and failing to report it to Congress’s ethics office as required by federal law.

Who’da thunk it? WaPo pins crisis on Democrats

An editorial in Monday’s Washington Post sets the record straight — at long, long, long, long, long, long last — on who bears the lion’s share of the blame for the current economic collapse. (Link via Captain Ed.)

Now that the worst is over and people have settled on the Bush Administration and John McCain as the blameworthy ones, the WaPo has jumped in to save the day with their brilliant revelation (which the hobos of the blogosphere have been screaming at the top of our virtual lungs for weeks now) that everybody’s got it precisely backwards.

They’ve finally clued in to the fact that the culprit was the deliberate loosening of lending standards by Democrats so that poor people (read: people to whom no sensible lender would ever think of issuing a mortgage) would be able to take out a home loan, regardless of ability to pay the thing back.  Not only that, but Bush and McCain in particular pushed more than once to exercise tighter oversight over this lax new policy’s primary vehicles, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  These efforts at better regulation were stiffarmed at every turn by Banking Committee Democrats in the House such as Barney Frank and Maxine Waters, and those in the Senate such as Christopher Dodd and — the horror! — Barack Obama.  Dodd and Obama each took more campaign money from Fannie and Freddie lobbyists than all 98 of their Senate colleagues, which is an achievement for Obama, who has been in the Senate less than four years.

In Hot Air’s “Quote of the Day,” Allahpundit cites Orson Scott Card (described in an Editor’s Note as “a Democrat and a newspaper columnist, and in this opinion piece he takes on both while lamenting the current state of journalism”):

If you [in the journalistic trade] want to redeem your honor, you will swallow hard and make a list of all the stories you would print if it were McCain who had been getting money from Fannie Mae, McCain whose campaign had consulted with its discredited former CEO, McCain who had voted against tightening its lending practices.

Then you will print them, even though every one of those true stories will point the finger of blame at the reckless Democratic Party, which put our nation’s prosperity at risk so they could feel good about helping the poor, and lay a fair share of the blame at Obama’s door.

Read the whole opinion piece, because it’s a scorcher.