MAJORITY DOES NOT RULE – RICH PASCHALL

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And the loser is Democracy, by Rich Paschall, Sunday Night Blog

The majority of eligible American voters did not vote in the 2014 midterm elections.  As a matter of fact, according to the US News & World Report almost two-thirds of the people who could cast ballots chose not to vote.  In this election, as in many midterm elections, the electorate chose not to elect and in the process the balance of power shifted in the Legislative Branch of the US Congress.  Is this the outcome the majority wanted?  Why do so many people refuse to vote when democracy is supposed to be the most important part of our society?

With so many close elections, it is clear that a vote by more than 50 per cent of the people in any given state could have changed the outcome.  In fact surveys show that of non voters the vast majority were Democrats.  Why did they abdicate their authority when so much was at stake?

One of the things that make the rule by the few even more perplexing is the results of the many ballot referendum nationwide versus the candidates who were elected.  Voters in large numbers across many states supported ballot initiatives for what are largely Democratic supported positions.  Those same states, however, turned increasingly to candidates who opposed those issues.  Are we so uneducated that we vote for candidates who do not actually hold our views and who will indeed vote against what we want?

voting polls electionIn no state was the seeming paradox more striking than in Illinois.

The Huffington Post pointed out “The Irony Of Illinois Election Results Is Hard To Ignore.”  The few who voted strongly supported a rise in the minimum wage (as do most voters according to pollsters), yet the champion of minimum wage lost the election to a billionaire businessman who is not only against the raise, but indicated to one audience he did not think we should have a minimum wage.

The ballot referendum that passed in Illinois will find no support with the new governor.

Why were voters turned off by the elections?  Why did the voters who came to the polls vote the way they did?  Attack ads seem to hold the key.  It matters little where you live, you likely saw or heard a glut of attack ads.  This year an estimated 3.67 billion dollars were spent on political ads according to Mother Jones (MJ) website.  The same number is widely reported elsewhere.  The ads seem to work, but why so many?

In Kentucky, for example, Mitch McConnell who is now set to be Senate Majority leader was about as popular as President Obama in February.  In other words, his approval rating was in the tank.  Nevertheless, he won reelection and should move on to a very powerful position.

What happened?  Attack ads happened.  Afraid of losing the senate seat, a power political PAC without the same restrictions as candidates, got behind McConnell and outspent his opponent who was leading in the polls at one time.  The mud-slinging PAC dirtied the Democrat via 12,000 TV ads state-wide. The so-called independent PAC is run by a former McConnell aide according to the MJ website and hauled down money from some powerful people.

In all “outside PACs” spent an estimated $301,000,000 this year, but that’s nothing compared to the total.  We will never know what the real total is because of “Dark Money.”  Politifact.com says there is no way to tell the real amount  spent by organizations who keep their donors anonymous.  They report these groups include “trade associations, unions and nonprofit social welfare organizations like the Koch brothers-founded Americans for Prosperity.”

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Not long ago we ran a “cautionary tale” about two brothers who put together an organization to essentially buy elections and hold power over America by the candidates they supported.  It was a work of fiction, but consider the reality.  It is estimated the Koch brothers together spent 300 million dollars of their fortune on this election alone.  Was it successful?  MJ website credits them with an 85 percent return on investment.  Even at that, why would anyone set out to buy the Senate.  What is in it for them?

The long-delayed Keystone Pipeline may now get approved by a Congress favorable to such a project.

The controversial project could be a windfall for the Koch Brothers.  According to the Huffington Post, they could benefit by 100 billion dollars.  Yes, you read that right.  100 billion!  So, voters, do you feel used?  You non-voters, do you regret passing up the chance to make your voice heard?

We have seen 9 months of continuous job growth. The stock market is close to 10,000 points higher than it was when Obama took office. Inflation is low, powered by a significant drop in gas prices.

Not having to spend so much hauling goods keeps prices down too.  The banking industry was saved, so was one of the America’s largest employers, the auto industry.  Yet we voted against the President and returned to power the Congress the party who was there when the economy tanked.  We will not even go into the war we fought under somewhat questionable reasoning.

Why America?  Why?  We eagerly await your comments below.

DEATH OF DEMOCRACY

A cautionary fairy tale by Rich Paschall, Sunday Night Blog

The King Brothers strode through the luxurious lobby of the grand Wilford Washington Hotel. It is a stately old hotel with all the modern amenities. Only the richest of the rich can stay at the Wilford, and the King Brothers were among the one percent that controlled most of the nation’s wealth. It was a particularly joyous night for the highly successful businessmen as they again used their business skills and wealth to get what they wanted.

Your Vote CountsAlthough they were knowledgeable and successful businessmen, Chauncey and Derrick King owed most of their wealth to inheritance. Their father discovered a new way of making energy. It was not the most environmentally responsible method, but it sure made a lot of money.

When old Farley King passed on, Chauncey and Derrick aced out two other brothers to grab control of the largest privately held corporation in the nation. Now they had their sights set on power. They wanted the sort of power that would assure continued success to their business as well as that of their friends. This meant no environmental controls that would limit their production.

The boys were all smiles as they moved to the elevators, one of which would take them to an exclusive penthouse party to celebrate victory. It was election night in the nation and everything was falling into place. Despite the massive price tag of their efforts, they were pleased with what their investment had purchased.

When the doors of the elevator opened, the King brothers found family, friends and a few carefully selected politicians on hand. They all had the opportunity to partake in the best drinks and hors d’oeuvre money could buy.  Chauncey was partial to a particular wine from France, Pierre Jouet Champagne, at a mere $6,500 per bottle. The hotel secured a case of it just for the event.

Cal Rhodes came up to the boys with the latest good news. “We have won another one. Just one more and we will control the Senate as well as the House. There are victory celebrations in just about every one of the party campaign headquarters across the country.”

For all the money the brothers dumped into attack ads and digging up dirt on the other party, they felt they ought to win most of the battles. And win them they did, all night long.

Time to vote! - Marilyn Armstrong

The party went well past midnight as they all kept a careful eye on the western states. The laughing and joking and storytelling of the earlier hours had given way to watching election results. Giant screen televisions around the room had been playing FIX News all night, but now they turned up the sound so everyone could hear. The audience hung on the words of the political reporters they knew and loved.

Elections in Oregon and Idaho were unexpectedly close. While Oregon was supposed to be a battle, Idaho was considered “a lock” for the brothers prior to election night.

“What the hell is going on in Idaho?” Chauncey shouted at Cal.

“I’ll check it out,” was all Cal could say as he went back to working the phones, a task he normally relished. It would not be good for Cal or any of the architects of the Senate strategy if they did not pick up one of the remaining states.

The numbers on the election boards were moving agonizingly slowly. Derrick said to no one in particular, “No one lives in Idaho, how long can it take to count a few votes?” At just past one in the morning, Eastern time, the crowded roomful of conservatives heard the news they’d been waiting for.

“With 93 percent of the precincts reporting, FIX News projects the incumbent Senator from the state of Idaho has held off an unexpected challenge and will retain his seat.”

With that announcement, Chauncey ordered another bottle of his favorite champagne. “Give everyone a glass. Let’s toast this hard-fought, hard-bought victory.” They toasted until the wine was gone and the guests headed home or back to their rooms in the warm, friendly Wilford Washington Hotel.

Derrick went to Cal with hardiest congratulations.

“You know, Cal, it’s time we set our agenda for the next two years. We need to start working on it immediately. But let’s get a good night’s sleep first. We’ve all earned it.” With that, Cal got a big hug from both King brothers before heading downstairs to his room.

On the very next day, with the House and Senate in hand, the King brothers discussed who should be the candidate for the highest post in the land two years hence. Whoever they picked would become their anointed one, their monarch and would serve the brothers well.

They would send him off to live in a big white house. Congress would pass all the Kings’ proclamations and the brothers would live happily ever after.

The very end.

A RUN FOR WALKER

Darren Walker was moderately successful in business when he was called upon to head up the state’s Bureau of Air.  Even though he made little progress there, his passion for the job and common sense solutions to problems led him to be appointed head of the state’s Environmental Protection Agency.  From there he made a lot of pronouncements about enforcing the state’s laws and cleaning up the rivers, lakes and the air as well.  There was a big problem with Darren’s dreams, however.  He had a small staff and a small budget.  So Darren decided to dream bigger.

Election Day 2012

An entire year before the general election for governor, Darren announced that he would be a candidate.  He told the press it was the only way for him to move reforms forward in the state.  His own party was stunned at this and especially at the use of a dirty word to career politicians, “reform.”  The governor who appointed Walker felt this announcement to be a personal betrayal of his trust in Darren and withdrew all support of anything Darren wished to do.

As he was accomplishing very little anyway, Darren resigned from his position to concentrate on his campaign.  His own party felt that was pretty much the end of Darren.  Without party backing or major donors, they were convinced he had no chance. They went on with business as usual.

Darren, however, was more determined than his rivals could possibly imagine.  When asked about fighting a campaign with less money than his opponents, Darren would always reply, “We will just have to outwork them.  We will knock on more doors, make more calls, hold more meetings than all of them combined.  We will take the campaign to all of the people statewide.”

And so, he did just that.  With his good looks, boundless energy and pleasant personality Darren started to become a good interview for the press and he gave a lot of interviews.  This added media attention meant his opponents would fight back the only way they knew how, with attack ads.  While other candidates were spending money on negative ads, Darren was shaking hands, kissing babies and smiling for the cameras.

“We will not wallow in the mud like our distinguished opponents,” Walker declared.  “Distinguished” was probably an overstatement.

When the primary election arrived along with the winter thaw, pollsters showed a tight race and some even thought Darren could win.  This, of course, scared those in his own party as they clearly wanted to return the sitting governor to office.  When the results were in, however, Darren rode his bright smile onto the fall ballot as the candidate of his party.  Immediately, party leaders were announcing that they would support the will of the people and get behind their party’s candidate for governor.

“We will not let our opponents take back the governor’s office and march the state backwards with their regressive ideas,” the Senate president announced.

“The people have spoken,” the House majority leader declared, “and we intend to see that their candidate is a big success.”  In truth, they did little to support Darren as they were not so sure that an opponent in the governor’s office would be worse than a reformer from their own party.

Soon after the primary victory, Darren announced he intended to live up to his name and walk from one end of the state to the other, right down the middle.  Considering the size of the state, this idea seemed insane. The opinion of experts was that it would take most of the campaign for Darren to do it.  He would lose precious time while wandering down rural back roads and he would get no press outside the big cities.  His party was convinced he was doomed and tried to determine if they should start acting friendly toward the opposing party candidate.

Darren lost no time in organizing his walk.  He held a press conference at the south end of the state to declare the beginning of “Walking to the People.”  He set out with a small entourage and an advance team that headed off to the towns along the way to line up interviews, town hall meetings, and “meet and greet” sessions with local residents.  To lose no time on the road, they invited local press to walk part of the way with the candidate and they would drive the reporter back to his or her own town when he or she got tired.

There were a lot of reporters who could brag that they walked with the candidate, although they might not always admit it was just a short distance.  At other times his small staff, would throw questions at the energetic candidate as he walked, so he could practice giving good answers. Darren was prepared for everything the press and the people of the state could ask.

The unique campaign tactic gained national attention.  By the time Darren was half way across the state, he was a nationwide sensation. News crews rode along side Darren. The crew of “Walkers for Walker” grew and when they walked into the northern half of the state, they walked with students, parents, idealists, dreamers, and a whole contingent of people who believed that Darren was going to return government to the people.

By election night, Darren was unstoppable. Party leaders were at his campaign headquarters to grab some of the spotlight for themselves and to congratulate the new governor.

75-SignOfTheTimesNK-1After Darren took office and gave a rousing inaugural speech promising the people of the state just about everything, he went right to work.  He summoned his party leaders to his office.  He spoke about campaign reform and the need to limit spending, but legislative leaders explained that their opponents had many wealthy friends and they would get around the laws through political action committees.  When the new governor spoke of term limits, he was told that was unfair to those who already dedicated their lives to the public.

When Darren offered to raise the limit of terms, they countered with the same explanation and when he offered even higher limits or to exempt sitting legislators, they had a counter argument for that too.  Over his time in office he tried to get his leaders in the legislature to pass a variety of reforms.  He soon learned through his many meetings with his own party, that they were the stumbling blocks to success not the other party.  A governor could not do much if he could not get legislation passed.

When it was time for the next election, Darren had little success in office and worried that he would be perceived as a failure by the people.  Party leaders explained to Walker if that he wanted to have a chance at reelection, he needed to support the legislation of his own party and stop putting his veto to measures they passed.  They would in turn support him.  They could blame and lack of his legislation on the opposition, even though they controlled the legislature.

“You support us, Governor, and we will support you,” Walker was told.  From that point on the only chance for the Walker for Governor campaign was to avoid telling the truth about what Darren learned during the first term.

BORING STUFF YOU IGNORED IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL

Back on Facebook, the site I love to hate. Someone who ought to know better is saying “Here’s a suggestion: To solve this government shutdown, call a general election and let the people decide what should be done. Should we continue with the shutdown or go back to running the government? Sounds simple to me!”

Election day 2012

And getting the response:  “What’s simple to us is hard for our elected officials!”

It’s not hard for our elected officials. It’s impossible and illegal for our officials — elected and otherwise.

Not only that, but we do not have any mechanism that allows a plebiscite wherein everyone gets to voice his or her opinion and The Government has to Abide by Our Vote. How would that work, exactly? To which part of our legal system does that belong? Judicial? Legislative? Executive?

I’m pretty sure we have to pass laws via the legislature. To change laws, we have to get rid of old laws via the judicial branch and/or enact new laws. Which brings us back to the legislative branch. Or to put it another way — congress. If you don’t like the bozos in congress, don’t vote for them. What? You didn’t vote? Well then. I guess you got what you deserve.

The executive branch (aka The President) can’t enact laws. He can use his influence to try to get congress to create laws he likes. He can veto laws he dislikes although presidents do not use their veto much. It’s a thing. Oh, and congress can overturn a veto if enough members of congress agree. Like that’s going to happen.

So — after we have this entirely illegal “public opinion election,” who will enforce “the will of the people”? To the best of my knowledge, there is no force of law to public opinion. There never has been.

Returning to Facebook, I post a little something. Because I love it when I absolutely, positively know no one is going to pay any attention to me. I say: “You can’t just ‘call an election’ in the U.S. This isn’t Great Britain where members of parliament vote “no confidence’ to jumpstart a new election. The U.S. has scheduled elections. Beginning and end of story. The Constitution specifies how and when elections will be held. You can vote down a government in England. You cannot do it here.”

Everyone ignores me. Probably because I’m so smart.

So what can you do about all the stuff you don’t like? Between scheduled elections, you are free to gripe, whine, wail, argue, rant, piss and moan … but you can’t vote until the next scheduled election.

Green is for going.

Green is for going.

It’s one of several fundamental differences between our government and parliamentary governments (like England, France etc.). Americans are always saying how superior our government is, yet they don’t seem to know how it works. Hmm.

So I love it when folks call for an election to change something they don’t like. As if the United States has ever or could ever “just call an election” and “let the people decide.” Even in a parliamentary government — which is nominally more responsive to public opinion — you can’t just “call an election” anytime citizens are displeased with what’s going on.

Somewhere in every government throughout history a lot of citizens are/were/will be unhappy with whatever the government is or isn’t doing. If you had an election every time a bunch of people were mad at the government, we’d always be in the middle of an election.

Wouldn’t that be fun!

You are not required to like what’s going on, but if you want to participate, you need a fundamental grasp of how your government works. The boring stuff you ignored learned in grammar school. Today, you’re all grown up and your government is boring. I know. It’s not fair.

Feel free to ignore me. I should never read anything on Facebook. It just pisses me off.

 

The American Hall of Shame: A Not-So-Little List

For commentary, you can read You’re ALL out of order.

These are the details, the who’s who plus the what and when of America’s federal convicted political criminals. Note I say convicted because I’m sure there are lots more that weren’t caught … or haven’t been caught yet. This not only isn’t everyone at the Federal level, it doesn’t deal at all with the state and locally elected criminals, from governors, to mayors, judges and the thousands of local pols. Truly too many to name. That’s not a post. That’s a multi-volume book.

Boston State House

So, to reiterate, this list contains only federal officials, appointed and elected, indicted and convicted while in office. More than a few of them were re-elected after conviction and some while still serving time. You get the government you deserve.

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Many people who were convicted during the term of one president did the crime and the time (and were elected or appointed) during an earlier presidency. Typically, regardless of political affiliation, new presidents pardon the miscreants convicted from earlier administrations. It’s a courtesy, one President to another. Nice.

On the other hand, it’s heartwarming to know if you get nailed, the next guy in office will pardon you too.

Obama (D) Presidency

Judicial Branch
  • Samuel B. Kent (R) The Federal District Judge of Galveston, Texas. Sentenced May 11, 2009 to 33 months for lying about sexually harassing 2 female employees. Appointed by George H. W. Bush (1990).
  • Thomas Porteous (D), Federal Judge of the US District Court (Eastern District of Louisiana), impeached, convicted and removed from office December 8, 2010. Charges of bribery and lying to Congress. Appointed by Bill Clinton (1994).
Legislative Branch

Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL) pled guilty February 20, 2013 to fraud, conspiracy, making false statements, mail fraud, wire fraud, and criminal forfeiture after using approximately $750,000 in campaign money for personal expenses. Not yet sentenced.

2001–2009 George W. Bush (R) Presidency

Executive Branch
  • Lewis Libby (R) Chief of Staff to Vice President Dick Cheney (R). ‘Scooter’ convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice in the Plame Affair, March 6, 2007. Sentenced to 30 months and fined $250,000. Sentence commuted by George W. Bush (R), July 1, 2007.
  • Lester Crawford (R) Commissioner of the FDA, resigned. Pled guilty to conflict of interest. Sentenced to 3 years suspended and fined $90,000 (2006).
  • Claude Allen (R) Advisor to President Bush on Domestic Policy. Arrested for multiple felony thefts in retail stores. (2006) Convicted and resigned.
  • Darleen Druyun (D) Principal Deputy Undersecretary of the Air Force for Acquisition. Pled guilty to corruption charges, sentenced to 9 months and fined $5,000, with 3 years supervised release and 150 hours community service.
Legislative Branch

Jack Abramoff CNMI congressional influence peddling scandal involving immigration and minimum wage laws. Congressmen convicted in the Abramoff scandal included:

  • Tom DeLay (R-TX) House Majority Leader. Reprimanded twice by the House Ethics Committee. DeLay resigned June 9, 2006. Illegally channeled funds from Americans for a Republican Majority to Republican state legislator campaigns. Convicted  in 2010 by a Texas court of money laundering and conspiracy. Sentenced to 3 years.
  • Michael Scanlon (R) former staff to Tom DeLay: working for Abramoff, pled guilty to bribery.
  • Tony Rudy (R) former staff to Tom DeLay, pled guilty to conspiracy
  • James W. Ellis (R) executive director of Tom DeLay’s political action committee, Americans for a Republican Majority (ARMPAC), indicted for money laundering.
  • John Colyandro (R) executive director of Tom DeLay’s political action committee, Texans for a Republican Majority (TRMPAC), indicted for money laundering.
  • Bob Ney (R-OH) pled guilty to conspiracy and lying in exchange for legislative favors. 30 months.
  • Duke Cunningham (R-CA) pled guilty on November 28, 2005 to conspiracy to commit bribery, mail fraud, wire fraud and tax evasion (Cunningham scandal). Sentenced to 8+ years in prison.
  • William J. Jefferson (D-LA). August 2005, the FBI seized $90,000 in cash from Jefferson’s home freezer. Was re-elected anyway, but lost in 2008. Convicted of 11 counts of bribery and sentenced to 13 years, November 13, 2009.
  • Jefferson’s Chief of Staff Brett Pfeffer, sentenced to 84 months for bribery (2006).
  • Bill Janklow (R-SD) convicted of second-degree manslaughter for running a stop sign and killing a motorcyclist. Resigned from the House. 100 days in county jail plus 3 years probation (2003).
  • Jim Traficant (D-OH). Convicted on 10 felony counts of financial corruption. Sentenced to 8 years in prison. Expelled from the US House of Representatives. (2002)
  • Larry Craig Senator (R-ID). Married Senator and vocal critic of Clinton’s affair, pled guilty to disorderly conduct in a Minneapolis airport men’s room, after having been arrested on a charge of homosexual lewd conduct (2007).
  • Frank Ballance (D-NC) admitted to federal charges of money laundering and mail fraud in October 2005. Sentenced to 4 years.

1993–2001 Clinton (D) Presidency

Legislative Branch
  • Mel Reynolds (D-IL). Convicted of 12 counts of bank fraud (1999).
  • Walter R. Tucker III (D-CA). Sentenced to 27 months 1996, extortion and tax evasion (1995).
  • Barbara-Rose Collins (D-MI). Convicted on 11 counts of illegally using campaign funds for personal use (1997).
  • Austin Murphy (D-PA) convicted of 1 count of voter fraud for filling out absentee ballots for members of a nursing home (1999).

House Banking Scandal — 450 members of the House of Representatives overdrew their checking accounts and were never penalized. Six were convicted of related charges, and 22 others were sanctioned by the House Ethics Committee (1992):

  • Buz Lukens (R-Ohio) was convicted of bribery and conspiracy.
  • Carl C. Perkins (D-Kentucky) pled guilty to a check kiting multiple financial institutions including the House Bank.
  • Carroll Hubbard (D-Kentucky) convicted of illegally funneling money to his wife’s 1992 congressional campaign.

Congressional Post Office scandal (1991–1995) was a conspiracy to embezzle House Post Office money through stamps and postal vouchers to congressmen:

  • Dan Rostenkowski (D-IL) — sentenced to 18 months, 1995.
  • Joe Kolter (D-Pennsylvania) convicted of 1 count of conspiracy. Sentenced to 6 months.
  • Jay Kim (R-CA) accepted $250,000 in illegal 1992 campaign contributions. Sentenced to 2 months house arrest (1992).

1989–1993 George H. W. Bush (R) Presidency

Judicial Branch
  • Robert Frederick Collins (D) Judge of the US District Court (Eastern District of Louisiana). Convicted of bribery. Sentenced to 6 years 10 months.
  • Walter Nixon (D) US Judge (Mississippi) (appointed by Lyndon Johnson,1968). Impeached by House and convicted by the Senate for perjury (1989).
Executive Branch

Catalina Vasquez Villalpando, (R) Treasurer of the United States. Pled guilty to obstruction of justice and tax evasion (1992).

Legislative Branch
  • Nicholas Mavroules (D-Massachusetts). Convicted of extortion, accepting illegal gifts and failing to report income. Pled guilty to 15 counts in April 1993. Sentenced to 15 months. (1993)
  • Albert Bustamante (D-Texas) — Convicted of accepting bribes (1993).
  • David Durenberger Senator (R-Minnesota) — Denounced by Senate for unethical financial transactions and disbarred (1990). Pled guilty to misuse of public funds. One year probation (1995).

1981–1989 Reagan (R) Presidency

Executive Branch

Housing and Urban Development Scandal concerned bribery by selected contractors to get low-income housing project government contracts:

  • James G. Watt (R) United States Secretary of the Interior, 1981–1983, charged with 25 counts of perjury and obstruction of justice. Sentenced to five years probation, fined $5,000 and 500 hours of community service.
  • Deborah Gore Dean, (R) Executive Assistant to (Samuel Pierce, Secretary of HUD 1981–1987, and not charged). Dean was convicted of 12 counts of perjury, conspiracy, bribery. Sentenced to 21 months in prison (1987).
  • Phillip D. Winn (R) Assistant Secretary of HUD, 1981–1982, pleaded guilty to bribery in 1994.
  • Thomas Demery, (R) Assistant Secretary of HUD, pleaded guilty to bribery and obstruction.
  • Joseph A. Strauss, (R) Special Assistant to the Secretary of HUD, convicted for accepting payments to favor Puerto Rican land developers in receiving HUD funding.

Wedtech scandal: Wedtech Corporation convicted of bribery for Defense Department contracts:

  • Mario Biaggi (D-New York) sentenced to 2½ years. (1987)
  • Robert Garcia (D-New York) sentenced to 2½ years.

Iran-Contra Affair (1985–1986) involved secret arms sales to Iran in an attempt to secure the release of hostages and let US intelligence agencies fund Nicaraguan Contras (violation of Boland Amendment):

  • Caspar Weinberger (R) United States Secretary of Defense, indicted on 2 counts of perjury and 1 count of obstruction of justice on June 16, 1992. Weinberger received a pardon before his trial from George H. W. Bush on December 24, 1992.
  • Robert C. McFarlane (R) National Security Adviser, convicted of withholding evidence. Given 2 years probation. Pardoned by President George H. W. Bush.
  • John Poindexter (R) National Security Advisor, was convicted on April 7, 1990 for his role in the Iran-Contra Affair. Convictions were reversed in 1991 on appeal .
  • Oliver North (R) Member of the National Security Council, was fired by President Reagan on the same day Poindexter resigned. North was found guilty of perjury and conspiracy, but charges were overturned on appeal.
  • Elliott Abrams (R) Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs, convicted of withholding evidence. 2 years probation, pardoned by President George H. W. Bush.
  • Michael Deaver (R) White House Deputy Chief of Staff to Ronald Reagan 1981–85, pled guilty to perjury related to lobbying activities and was sentenced to 3 years probation and fined $100,000.

Sewergate: A scandal in which funds from the EPA were selectively used for projects which would aid politicians friendly to the Reagan administration:

  • Rita Lavelle (R), assistant EPA Administrator, US Environmental Protection Agency misused ‘superfund’ monies and was convicted of perjury. Served 6 months and fined $10,000 with 5 years probation (1984) (Note: And let’s not worry about cleaning up those hazardous waste sites.)
Legislative Branch
  • David Durenberger Senator (R-Minnesota), denounced by the Senate for unethical financial transactions (1990) and disbarred (1995). Pled guilty to 5 counts of misuse of public funds. 1 year probation.
  • Donald E. “Buz” Lukens (R-Ohio). Convicted of two counts of bribery and conspiracy (1996).

ABSCAM FBI sting involving fake ‘Arabs’ trying to bribe 31 congressmen. (1980). The following Congressmen were convicted:

  • Harrison A. Williams Senator (D-New Jersey) was convicted on 9 counts of bribery and conspiracy. Sentenced to 3 years.
  • John Jenrette Representative (D-South Carolina) sentenced to two years in prison for bribery and conspiracy.
  • Richard Kelly (R-Florida) accepted $25K. Claimed he was conducting his own investigation into corruption. Served 13 months.
  • Raymond Lederer (D-Pennsylvania) “I can give you me” he said after accepting $50K. Sentenced to 3 years.
  • Michael Myers (D-Pennsylvania) Accepted $50,000 saying: “…money talks and bullshit walks.” Sentenced to 3 years and was expelled from the House.
  • Frank Thompson (D-New Jersey) sentenced to 3 years.
  • John M. Murphy (D-New York) Served 20 months of a 3-year sentence.
  • Mario Biaggi (D-New York), Convicted of obstruction of justice and accepting illegal gratuities he was sentenced to 2½ years in prison, fined $500,000 for his role in Wedtech. Resigned just before expulsion from the House. The next year he was convicted of another 15 counts of obstruction and bribery (1988).
  • Pat Swindall (R-Georgia) convicted of 6 counts of perjury. (1989)
  • George V. Hansen (R-Idaho) censured for failing to file out disclosure forms. Spent 15 months in prison.
  • Frederick W. Richmond (D-New York),Convicted of tax evasion and possession of marijuana. Served 9 months (1982)
  • Dan Flood (D-Pennsylvania) censured for bribery. Deadlocked jury. Pled guilty, got 1 year probation.
  • Joshua Eilberg (D-Pennsylvania) pled guilty to conflict-of-interest. Convinced president Carter to fire the US Attorney investigating his case.
Judicial branch scandals
  • Alcee Hastings (D-Florida), Federal District court judge impeached by the House and convicted by the Senate of soliciting a bribe (1989). Subsequently elected to the US House of Representatives (1992)
  • Harry Claiborne (D-Nebraska), Federal District court Judge impeached by the House and convicted by the Senate on two counts of tax evasion. He served 1 year.

1977–1981 Carter (D) Presidency

Legislative Branch
  • Fred Richmond (D-New York) – Convicted of tax fraud and possession of marijuana. Served 9 months in prison. Charges of soliciting sex from a 16-year-old boy were dropped after he agreed to counseling (1978).
  • Charles Diggs (D-Michigan). Convicted on 29 charges of mail fraud and filing false payroll forms in kickback scheme. Sentenced to 3 years (1978).
  • Michael Myers (D-Pennsylvania) Received suspended six-month jail term after pleading no contest to disorderly conduct charged stemming from an incident at a Virginia bar in which he allegedly attacked a hotel security guard and a cashier.
  • Frank M. Clark (D-Pennsylvania) pled guilty to mail fraud and tax evasion, June 12, 1979. Sentenced to 2 years.

Koreagate scandal involving alleged bribery of more than 30 members of Congress by the South Korean government represented by Tongsun Park:

  • Richard T. Hanna (D-California). Convicted and sentenced to 6 years in prison.
  • Richard Tonry (D-Louisiana) pled guilty to receiving illegal campaign contributions.

1974–1977 Ford (R) Presidency

Legislative Branch
  • James F. Hastings (R-New York), convicted of kickbacks and mail fraud, he also took money from his employees for personal use. Served 14 months at Allenwood penitentiary (1976).
  • John V. Dowdy (D-Texas), Allegedly tried to stop a federal investigation of a construction firm. He served 6 months in prison for perjury (1973).
  • Bertram Podell (D-New York), pleaded guilty to conspiracy and conflict of interest. He was fined $5,000 and served four months in prison (1974).
  • Frank Brasco (D-New York) sentenced to 3 months in jail and fined $10,000 for conspiracy to accept bribes from a reputed Mafia figure for truck leasing contracts from the post office and loans to buy trucks.
  • Richard T. Hanna (D-CA), convicted in an influence-buying scandal (1974).

1969–1974 Nixon (R) Presidency

Watergate: A Really, Really Big Scandal

Watergate (1972–1973) was about Republican “operatives” bugging Democratic Party National Headquarters at the Watergate Hotel entailing a burglary. Which was discovered and exposed in the biggest and baddest government scandal of modern times and the only one that led to the resignation of a sitting president. The only resignation of any sitting president.

If you are too young to have watched the spectacle on television, you can catch up by watching “All The President’s Men.” It’s not as good as the real thing, but it’s as close as you’re going to get. You might watch “Frost-Nixon” too.

The attempted cover up of the affair by President Richard Nixon (R) and his staff resulted in 69 government officials being charged and 48 pleading guilty, including 7 for actual burglary. Eventually, Nixon resigned his presidency. It wasn’t what he did that got him. It was his stupid attempt to cover it up. If he had admitted it and apologized, it probably would have blown over.

Eventually all the malefactors found Jesus, wrote books, and made a fortune on the lecture circuit. Presumably, justice was served. There’s a moral in there. I have no idea what it is.

The following were indicted and convicted:

  • John N. Mitchell (R) former Attorney General, convicted of perjury.
  • Frederick C. LaRue (R) Advisor to John Mitchell, convicted of obstruction of justice.
  • Richard Kleindienst (R) Attorney General, found guilty of “refusing to answer questions” given one month in jail.
  • H. R. Haldeman (R) Chief of Staff for Nixon, convicted of perjury.
  • John Ehrlichman (R) Counsel to Nixon, convicted of perjury.
  • Egil Krogh (R) Aide to John Ehrlichman, sentenced to 6 months.
  • John W. Dean III (R) Counsel to Nixon, convicted of obstruction of justice.
  • Dwight L. Chapin (R) Deputy Assistant to Nixon, convicted of perjury.
  • Charles W. Colson (R) Special Consul to Nixon, convicted of obstruction of justice.
Legislative Branch
  • Cornelius Gallagher (D-New Jersey) pled guilty to tax evasion. Served 2 years.
  • J. Irving Whalley (R-Pennsylvania) In 1973, received suspended 3-year sentence and fined $11,000 for using mail to deposit staff salary kickbacks and threatening an employee to stop her from informing the FBI.
  • Martin B. McKneally (R-New York) 1 year probation and fined $5,000 in 1971 for failing to file income tax return. He had not paid taxes for many years prior. (Note: They’d have tossed me in jail and thrown away the key.)
  • New York US Representative James Fred Hastings (R-NY) was a delegate to the 1968 Republican National Convention and the 1972 Republican National Convention. Elected to Congress in 1968. Served from January 3, 1969 until he resigned January 20, 1976 after being convicted of taking kickbacks and mail fraud. Served 14 months at Allenwood penitentiary (1976).

1963–1969 Lyndon B. Johnson (D) Presidency

Legislative Branch

Ted Kennedy — Senator (D-Massachusetts) drove his car into the channel between Chappaquiddick Island and Martha’s Vineyard, killing passenger Mary Jo Kopechne. Kennedy pled guilty to leaving the scene of an accident and received a suspended sentence of two months (1969). He also went on to be one of the nation’s finest legislators. Again, there’s a moral in there. Having taken that drive, it’s hard to believe it happened the way he said it did. I liked Teddy. I just didn’t believe him.

1961–1963 Kennedy (D) Presidency

Frank Boykin (D-Alabama) was placed on probation and fined $40,000 following conviction for conflict of interest and conspiracy to defraud the government. Pardoned by President Lyndon Johnson in 1965.

1953–1961 Eisenhower (R) Presidency

  • Thomas J. Lane (D-Massachusetts) convicted for income tax evasion. Served 4 months, but was re-elected three more times before his 1962 defeat due to re-districting (1956).
  • Ernest K. Bramblett (R-California) Received a suspended sentence and a $5,000 fine in 1955 for payroll padding and getting kickbacks.

1945–1953 Truman (D) Presidency

  • Walter E. Brehm (R-Ohio) convicted of accepting illegal contributions from employees. Received 15 month suspended sentence and a $5,000 fine.
  • J. Parnell Thomas (R-New Jersey), member of the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC), was convicted of salary fraud and given 18 months and a fine. Resigned from Congress in 1950. He was imprisoned in Danbury Prison with two of the Hollywood Ten he had helped put there. (Note: Karma’s a bitch.) After serving, 18 months, was pardoned by Truman (D) in 1952.
  • Andrew J. May (D-Kentucky) was convicted of accepting bribes in 1947 from a war munitions manufacturer. Sentenced to 9 months, then pardoned by Truman (D) in 1952.

1933–1945 Franklin D. Roosevelt (D) Presidency

John H. Hoeppel (D-California) convicted in 1936 of selling an appointment to the West Point Military Academy. He was fined $1,000 and sentenced to 4–12 months.

1921–1923 Harding (R) Presidency

Teapot Dome Scandals: The Harding administration was rocked by scandals caused by Harding’s old Ohio friends who he had appointed to positions in his administration, known as the Ohio Gang. My mother to her dying day was convinced Harding was poisoned by his own “people.”

They did say it was food poisoning. Perhaps what they left out was what kind of poison was in the food?The list of the convicted included:

  • Albert Fall (R) Secretary of the Interior, bribed by Harry F. Sinclair for control of the Teapot Dome federal oil reserves in Wyoming, the first (but by no means the last) U.S. cabinet member to be convicted. Served two years (1922).
  • Charles R. Forbes (R) appointed by Harding as the first director of the new Bureau of Veterans Affairs. After constructing and modernizing VA hospitals, convicted of bribery and corruption. Sentenced to two years.
  • Thomas W. Miller (R), Head of the Office of Alien Property: convicted of fraud by selling German patents seized after World War I and bribery. Served 18 months.

1901-1909 Theodore Roosevelt (R) Presidency

  • Henry B. Cassel (R-Pennsylvania) was convicted of fraud related to the construction of the Pennsylvania State Capitol (1909).
  • John Mitchell Senator (R-Oregon) was involved with the Oregon land fraud scandal, for which he was indicted and convicted while a sitting US Senator (1905).
  • Joseph R. Burton Senator (R-Kansas), convicted of accepting a $2,500 bribe (1904).

1869–1877 Grant (R) Presidency

Whiskey Ring: Massive corruption of Ulysses S. Grant’s (R) administration involving whiskey taxes, bribery and kickbacks ending with 110 convictions (1875).

1777–1868

  • Matthew Lyon (Democratic Republican-Kentucky). First Congressman to be recommended for censure after spitting on Roger Griswold (Federalist-Connecticut). The censure failed to pass. Also found guilty of violating John Adams’ Alien and Sedition Acts and sentenced to four months in jail, during which period he was re-elected (1798). Setting a precedent, I guess.
  • John Pickering, Federal Judge (appointed by George Washington) was impeached and convicted in absentia by the US Senate for drunkenness and use of profanity on the bench though neither act was a high crime or misdemeanor (1804).

Weekly Photo Challenge: The Sign Says Vote For Me

Bringing back memories of the election we thought would never end.

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We live in a nation of laws … even when it’s not easy or convenient.

Today I read a rant on Facebook by someone who still can’t accept the cruel reality that the election ended and his candidate lost. He declares that President Barack Obama is not his president, will never be his president. As if he gets to pick his own personal President, separate from the inconvenience of a legal election.

Flag

I feel obliged to point out that if you are an American citizen, the legally elected President of the United States is your President, whether you like him, voted for him — or not. If you are unhappy with the results of the election and you are a citizen of this nation, you have only two choices.

  1. Obey the laws of this country including accepting the duly elected President as your President and as your Commander-in-Chief.
  2. Abandon your identity as an American, renounce your citizenship, and move to another country if you can find one that will have you.

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There is no other choice until 2016 and there’s no guarantee that you’ll like the results of that election any better than you liked this one. Until then, Barack Obama is your president, my president, and the President of every other citizen of this country. You do not have a choice. This is a nation of laws which we follow even when it’s not convenient or easy. That is the price you pay for living in a democracy.

You cannot claim to be a patriot while simultaneously rejecting our system of government. I have lived through presidencies of men I thoroughly disliked, for whom I didn’t vote, and who I thought were harming our nation and myself, but I never had the temerity– or disrespect — to declare that the President wasn’t my President.

I believe in our system of government, laws, and justice system. It’s not perfect, but it’s way better than most. I don’t make a big deal about it. I don’t wrap myself in the flag. I just follow the laws, try to work within the system to effect change. I vote. I don’t trust people who make a big fuss about how patriotic they are. The more noise they make, the more I wonder what they are hiding.

I’m fed up with self-declared patriots who are not merely unpatriotic, but actually treasonous. If you don’t like our system of government, go somewhere you like better, but don’t tell me you’re a patriot. You’re not.