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February 22, 2008

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The GOP really is just a great big crime syndicate, isn't it?

"Few details emerged, but the leak disrupted prosecutors' wiretap."

I wonder what that means, exactly. That targets were alerted and became more cautious on the phone? Or what?

More blatant about it anyway. I think it would be easier to determine who is not on the take. Shorter list anyway.

"More blatant about it anyway. I think it would be easier to determine who is not on the take. Shorter list anyway."

Obviously, occasional criminals make their way into office, or turn to criminal acts, in both parties, from time to time, and most likely there will always be at least a few in any major party, from time to time. It's inevitable until such time as such people are more easily and more quickly detectable.

But there are a considerable variety of reasons why, I think, the Republican Party of contemporary and recent times, tends to strongly pull far more of these sorts of people, and more to the point, why aspects of the Republican Congressional and Washington leadership's incentives and priorities structurally tend to produce and bring forth such people, to the point where I wouldn't even try to outline a summary of all the causes in a quick comment.

But my main concern remains the legal corruption, which is overwhelming, while perfectly legal. So long as it takes constant fundraising for re-election to stay in office, and we allow organizations and people with interests before Congress to be the funding sources for the election of people to Congress (and the state legislatures), our system is all about rewarding the rich, and stiffing those who can't afford to raise tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars.

It's that simple.

Those who cross the line of the law are just clumsier than the norm that is required.

This doesn't mean that they don't deserve greater moral condemnation; they do. It's the difference between jail or not, and that's fine.

But the system is still broken, and that's the really big problem.

Cool, nail him to the wall with blunt spikes. You knew there was massive corruption in the Republican caucus when they got all defensive about Mr. "Freezer Cash".

I wonder if one of the conditions Mukasey extracted in accepting the AG job was an end to political interference in prosecutions under DOJ (as opposed to, say, the military). Of course, I'm sure they had their own conditions

Mr. "Freezer Cash".

you'll always be Mr TuQuoque to me, Brett.

What, it's a serious point: There had to be a lot of Republican corruption for the Republican leadership to so zealously defend a corrupt Democrat, instead of seeking to exploit the situation for political gain. If the Republicans had been squeaky clean, they'd have WANTED a Republican Justice department to be able to conduct searches of Congressional offices. Instead they're all for a rather impressive, (And NOT constitutionally mandated!) level of Congressional immunity to normal law enforcement. They're all for it because they know that if they were subject to normal law enforcement, instead of being treated with kidd gloves, they'd soon be making small rocks out of big ones.

It's not much of a secret that the Republican caucus is massively corrupt. I'd be a fool to deny it.

In case I'm not getting this across, the one, solitary thing I might hope to get out of a Democrat in the White house, that I'd actually appreciate, is to see the Justice department going all out to jail corrupt Republicans. The Republican party has no chance of being a force for good until somebody has broken the back of the criminal gang in charge of it. And it's a cinch Republicans aren't going to do it.

Do your worst, the GOP will be better for it eventually.

Brett makes a good point, the fact that Hastert got up there and loudly defended Mr. Freezer Cash agains the FBI raid was just stunning. I mean, when was the last time the republican congressional leadership got up and loudly defended the congress as a whole against the administration at all, much less in an event that involved obvious corruption (indeed, in a case that brought new meaning to the phrase "cold, hard, cash").

The administration has trampled over congress' traditional role time after time after time, from the signing statements to comply with subpoenas, and not a peep from the R's in Congress. But, whoah, go after an obviously corrupt Congressmans, that's just way over the line.

that shoudl be "to refusing to comply with"

"If the Republicans had been squeaky clean, they'd have WANTED a Republican Justice department to be able to conduct searches of Congressional offices."

That actually doesn't follow.

It's perfectly possible for them to actually believe that the principle of the Executive getting to search the offices of the Legislature is bad, in abstract, as well as to be personally corrupt, and to seek to prevent such searches on both grounds, rather than simply one of those two reasons.

But otherwise I think Brett has made a compelling case that he wasn't engaged in tu quoque in this case. Kudos, Brett.

In case I'm not getting this across, the one, solitary thing I might hope to get out of a Democrat in the White house, that I'd actually appreciate, is to see the Justice department going all out to jail corrupt Republicans. The Republican party has no chance of being a force for good until somebody has broken the back of the criminal gang in charge of it. And it's a cinch Republicans aren't going to do it.

Do your worst, the GOP will be better for it eventually.

Yeah. Cleaning corruption up is a good thing. And it goes just as well for corrupt Democrats (I don't think there were many defenses of Jefferson from the liberal-leaning folks here...)

what I want to know is who were the "two political Web sites carried the first public word of the probe". (shades of robert novak???)

Still Brett, I have to take exception to an insinuation of yours: Namely that the GOP Congressman would never have peeped if they were not corrupt themselves.

Seperation of powers is something that all congressman and senators should be VERY jealous of... Remember, The Prez has the DOJ (with the FBI, DEA, ATF, US Marshalls etc etc) at his beck and call. Congress has... BUPKISS.

Over the years I have complained loudly longly and oftenly to my GOP congress people (Ken Hulshoff and Kit "Backstroke" Bond) about the Bush Admin's over reaching, all to no avail. They did not care, until Alberto sent in the FBI...

My feeling is the Bushies went a little too far that time. Even the GOP leadership could not ignore that.

tom

ps: When they complain about a Dem Prez over reaching his/her powers (as surely he/she will), I am going to write them a nice little letter saying, "I told you so..."

It's perfectly possible for them to actually believe that the principle of the Executive getting to search the offices of the Legislature is bad, in abstract, as well as to be personally corrupt, and to seek to prevent such searches on both grounds, rather than simply one of those two reasons.

For any normal, random set of individuals, this might be possible, but it's Congressional Republicans we're talking about, so no, I don't think it's possible for them to believe that.

"For any normal, random set of individuals, this might be possible, but it's Congressional Republicans we're talking about, so no, I don't think it's possible for them to believe that."

I meant to say "it's perfectly possible for some of the."

OT: (1) Feingold says">http://www.thenation.com/blogs/campaignmatters?bid=45&pid=289055">says he voted for Obama:

""I really do think that, at the gut level, this is a chance to do something special," Feingold said of the Obama campaign and the potential of an Obama presidency, which he said has "enormous historical opportunities for America and for our relationship with the world."

Feingold expressed high regard for New York Senator Hillary Clinton, with whom he has clashed in the past. But he spoke at great length about having worked with Obama on ethics legislation in the Senate, and hailed the Illinois senator's ability to judge people and hold firm against pressure from interest groups and party insiders."

(2) Fat Lady Warms Up To Sing:

"One of Hillary Clinton’s top supporters in the Rio Grande Valley appeared at a Barack Obama rally Friday and said the presidential primary was the Illinois senator’s race to lose.

State Rep. Aaron Peña, who, in print and on TV has been a leading outreach activist in the Valley for Clinton, shocked many Friday morning when he sat down with his family in the stands behind the stage at an Obama rally at the University of Texas-Pan American. (...)

Asked if he had now flipped over to Obama, Peña said: “I will maintain my commitment but it appears to me that the decision will be made by the public on March 4. I made a commitment to Hillary Clinton and I must maintain it. I gave my word. However, as an observer, it appears to be increasingly evident who is going to win.”"

I don't think there were many defenses of Jefferson from the liberal-leaning folks here...

I certainly didn't defend him, but since the revelations about the thorough politicization of the DOJ, I've come around to the belief that it's not completely wacko to think that Jefferson was framed. I don't believe he was framed, but I'm not going to dismiss out of hand anyone else who believes he was.

Since this is already OT, a quick add on to hilzoy's note above.

I don't know if Clinton will quit if she loses Texas. In an interview today she said that she would love to win Texas, but it is a state that doesn't tend to lean Democratic anyway.

I think she is getting some really bad poll numbers internally and will make a big push in Ohio.

I have to say that purely from a politically technical POV, State Rep. Aaron Peña's move and language there strike me as both original and elegant.

Way to thread a needle, and then, to mix a metaphor, as is so popular here, to land on one's feet.

I have to remember this one if I ever have to stab someone in the front, honorably, while keeping my word.

In an interview today she said that she would love to win Texas, but it is a state that doesn't tend to lean Democratic anyway.

Sounds like Texas has been demoted from "firewall" to "state that doesn't matter". I'm sure the Texans will be heartbroken.

In case I'm not getting this across, the one, solitary thing I might hope to get out of a Democrat in the White house, that I'd actually appreciate, is to see the Justice department going all out to jail corrupt Republicans.

in that case... i guess i misunderstood the reference.

If Texas no longer matters, then what does? Just Ohio and maybe Pennsylvania? What sort of argument can she make for how she can win without Texas?

And if the argument is that primaries are somehow supposed to demonstrate how well a candidate might do in the general, then we have to discount safe Democratic states (which any Democrat will get) as well as safe Republican ones (which no Democrat will get). That means only swing states matter, so we can't count her wins in New York, Massachusetts, and California.

"Sounds like Texas has been demoted from 'firewall' to 'state that doesn't matter'."

Ostensibly she isn't aware that Ohio is also describable as "a state that doesn't tend to lean Democratic anyway," from 1990 through 2006.

I'm sure everyone believes that.

Incidentally, everyone did read this, right?

[...] The firm that includes Mark Penn, Mrs. Clinton’s chief strategist and pollster, and his team collected $3.8 million for fees and expenses in January; in total, including what the campaign still owes, the firm has billed more than $10 million for consulting, direct mail and other services, an amount other Democratic strategists who are not affiliated with either campaign called stunning.

Howard Wolfson, the communications director and a senior member of the advertising team, earned nearly $267,000 in January. His total, including the campaign’s debt to him, tops $730,000.

The advertising firm owned by Mandy Grunwald, the longtime media strategist for both Mrs. Clinton and Bill Clinton, the former president, has collected $2.3 million in fees and expenses, and is still owed another $240,000.

[...]

For instance, during the week before the Jan. 19 caucuses in Nevada, the Clinton campaign spent more than $25,000 for rooms at the Bellagio in Las Vegas; nearly $5,000 was spent at the Four Seasons in Las Vegas that week. Some staff members also stayed at Planet Hollywood nearby.

[...]

As part of their get-out-the-vote effort in Iowa, the campaign came up with a plan to have a local supermarket deliver sandwich platters to pre-caucus parties. It spent more than $95,384 on Jan. 1 at Hy-Vee Inc., a local grocery chain in West Des Moines, Iowa [....]"

But they needed to stay at the Bellagio and the Four Seasons for... a very good reason!

It's difficult to imagine what people who are giving her money at this point are thinking, at least if they've read that. Yes, there are plenty of people for whom $2,300 means nothing, but surely those people have already maxed out to her a long time ago if they were interested in giving her money.

KCinDC: If I were wondering whether to give to a candidate, I wouldn't mind the Four Seasons nearly as much as the fees to her consultants. I mean, according to the article, Mark Penn's firm collected more than twice as much in January than David Axelrod's firm collected during the entire campaign. Which is just insane.

"I mean, according to the article, Mark Penn's firm collected more than twice as much in January than David Axelrod's firm collected during the entire campaign. Which is just insane."

I have questions about this.

Gary: But there are a considerable variety of reasons why, I think, the Republican Party of contemporary and recent times, tends to strongly pull far more of these sorts of people, and more to the point, why aspects of the Republican Congressional and Washington leadership's incentives and priorities structurally tend to produce and bring forth such people, to the point where I wouldn't even try to outline a summary of all the causes in a quick comment.

Far more? Do expand on this when you can. Note that I didn’t go with “Democrats do it too”. I want corrupt Republicans caught and locked up before Democrats, because I’d like to have some confidence in Republicans some day. I’m not holding my breath though. But I think “far more” is a bit of a stretch.

OCSteve - I'm not sure a long disquisition is needed. The reason the GOP is "far more" attractive to, and tolerant of, corruption has somewhat to do with ideology but a lot more to do with the fact that DC was a single-party town for so many years, and that single party was the GOP.

In short: Why bother bribing Democrats when they can't do anything for you?

The other reason is that the Democrats actually went through a bout of some kind of anti-corruption soul-searching during the 60s-80s -- by no means uniform or universally effective, of course* -- such that, by the 90s, they were less cozy with the (business) interests that were willing to manipulate the government directly. Couple that with a leadership that was less nakedly gluttonous -- excuse me, less "pro-business" -- and it explains why the corruption began to flow through the GOP.

...why it stayed there is pretty much what CaseyL said, though.

* See also the removing of the racists from the Democratic party, with the obvious caveat that, unlike racists, the corruptible you will have with you always.

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