Two of the “3 men in a room” — NY Governor Andrew Cuomo, State Assembly Speaker, Sheldon Silver
One day after charging one of New York’s leading lawmakers with exploiting his office to obtain millions of dollars in kickbacks and bribes, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York delivered a stinging condemnation of the culture of corruption in Albany and said the system was set up to breed misdeeds.
The prosecutor, Preet Bharara, speaking at the New York Law School on Friday, castigated how deal-making has long been done in Albany — by “three men in a room” (the governor, the State Assembly speaker and the State Senate majority leader), who work in secret and without accountability to decide most vital issues.
For decades, state government has essentially been controlled by the three leaders. When they emerge from their private meetings, issues are usually settled, with no cause for public debate.
Mr. Bharara said this structure could lead to the kind of corruption outlined in the criminal complaint unveiled on Thursday against Sheldon Silver, a Manhattan Democrat who has been the Assembly speaker for two decades.
If the charges are proved true, he said, then “at least one of the proverbial three men in a room is compromised.”
If that is the case, he said, “then how can we trust that anything that gets decided in Albany is on the level?”
By concentrating power in the hands of so few, he said, good people are discouraged from running for office because they know they will have little influence on important matters…
…Mr. Bharara compared the culture in Albany to Wall Street, where he has aggressively pursued insider trading prosecutions.
Rather than trying to work for a greater good, he said, many people focused on where the line is between legal and illegal, and then steered as close as possible to that border without crossing over.
Such a mentality, he said, is a recipe for trouble…
…He urged voters to get angry, to demand change. “My hope is that in bringing the case,” he said, “there will be reform.”
“That almost happened with the Moreland Commission,” Mr. Bharara said, referring to the anticorruption panel established by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo that was looking at lawmakers’ behavior when the governor shut it down…
And that governor, Andrew Cuomo was one of those “3 men in a room”. Which just may have provided his reason for shutting down the commission investigating New York State corruption.
I doubt he counted on Preet Bharara getting a court order requiring everything from the Moreland Commission to be turned over to the US Attorney — much less carrying the investigation through to the indictment of the man who has been State Assembly speaker for more than 20 years, Sheldon Silver.
After 1,000,000 votes were cast in the Big Ideas Project, the Progressive Change Institute ran a national poll to see whether these ideas are popular with voters.
The short answer? Yes, they are!
583 (38.9%) of those interviewed identified themselves as Democrats, 382 (25.5%) as Independents, and 507 (33.8%) as Republicans.
Voters were asked to rate proposals on a scale of zero to ten where zero means they strongly oppose the idea and ten means strong support for the idea and a desire to see it become law. Zero to four represents opposition for a proposal. Five is neutral. Six to ten is supportive.
I love that the reality of modern communications snuck in and 25% of interviews were conducted via cell phoned.
On November 4, several states radically altered their approaches to a drug once known for Reefer Madness. In Alaska, Oregon, and Washington, DC, voters approved marijuana legalization measures. But in Florida, a medical marijuana amendment fell short of the 60 percent approval it needed to pass under state law. Here’s a breakdown of each state’s initiative, the latest results, and how the opposing campaigns pushed their messages to voters…
Yes, I live in a major stoner state
Chickenshit politicians were afraid to advocate legalization; so, grassroots campaigns got referendums on the ballot in Bernalillo County and Santa Fe County. They cover the majority of the state’s population – and the city of Santa Fe has already decriminalized weed. But the county commissions wanted a vote to cover their buns before passing new regulations.
Bernalillo County voted 60/40 and Santa Fe County voted 73/27 to decriminalize pot possession. Hopefully, this will inject a bit of spinal stiffness into our elected officials and appropriate regulations will be passed. The next step involves the state legislature and, yes, I expect nothing to be accomplished. But – there may be a legalization measure on the ballot in 2016 similar to those in modern states.
You can RTFA if you think you might see something new from the moral opposition.
First, the video. Someone caught Allen Weh in his “47% moment” – thinking he’s only talking to his peers, his buddies in the millionaires club, he lets out how he really feels about low-income working folks.
Yes, he’s a miserable low-life prick Republican. Former head of the New Mexico Republican Party, BTW – just so you know who that party represents.
Second, I’m not especially a fan of the Democrat Party either. Nationally or here in New Mexico. They’re running a generational candidate for governor from one of the old NM Democrat families. He ain’t worth crap. But, the Dems have a minimal tradition of fighting to maintain what has been won in the past for working class families in New Mexico. I can count on that much. And that’s way more than anyone can expect from our royal Republicans.
Tom Udall is different. He maintains his family tradition of fighting for the environment, all classes of working folks – from young to old geezers like me. I particularly like his stand – introducing a call every session of Congress – to rid Congress of the crap procedures they maintain like filibusters, etc. which are as anti-democratic as possible. He voted against Bush’s War. He opposed the VietNam War.
Good enough for me.
As for whoever caught this schmuck, Allen Weh, telling the truth for once in his life about his elitist politics? Thank you, whoever you are.
Voting-rights advocates have asked Wisconsin’s attorney general to investigate a Facebook group that has been calling for armed individuals to confront voters at the polls in November…
The Politicususa.com site posted an article about the group’s focus on African American voters and included a screen shot of a Twitter conversation between Wisconsin Poll Watcher Militia and a user identified as Patrick Murray.
The Wisconsin Poll Watcher Militias said: “We prefer our people be armed. Some will be heading to some of Milwaukee, Racine and Beloit’s worst areas. We will be armed with a list of people to look for at each location.”
Patrick Murray replied: “Just so you are aware, I will not report Republicans. Only Democrats”.
Wisconsin Poll Watcher Militia said: “We will be targeting heavy Democrat districts, so it is doubtful this will even be an issue…”
Andrea Kaminski, executive director of the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin, told the Guardian that such an exchange constitutes conspiracy to commit a felony – voter intimidation. “They call themselves a militia, although who knows, it could be two guys with nothing better to do sitting in their basement,” Kaminski stated in a phone interview. Still, she said, “whether anybody will go to the polls or not, they’re already committing a crime because conspiring to commit a crime is a felony.”
Idjits are alive and well in Wisconsin – apparently including the most backwards variety of White Citizens Council scum who can’t abide our constitutional right to vote.
Now, the shit-for-brains “independent” who setup the Facebook account says it was just a joke to fool journalists and bloggers. Andrea Kaminski – from the League of Women Voters – original response to the post was, “it could be two guys with nothing better to do sitting in their basement.”
Might turn out to be just one guy. Since he says he’s alone, I guess this is political masturbation he’s practicing.
After Rep. Eric Cantor lost his primary to a tea party challenger in June, he could have stayed on as a lame duck, collecting his salary and voting as a full member of Congress through January 2015. Instead, Cantor decided to step down from his job as the GOP’s majority leader and resign his seat early. Cantor claimed that the decision to call it quits was in the interests of his constituents…
No one believed him…
On Monday, the Wall Street Journal reported that Cantor will soon start work at Moelis & Co, an investment bank. Cantor—whose experience prior to becoming a professional politician largely consisted of working in the family real estate development business—will earn a hefty salary for his lack of expertise: According to Business Insider, he’s set to make $3.4 million from the investment firm. “Mr. Moelis said he is hiring Mr. Cantor for his “judgment and experience” and ability to open doors—and not just for help navigating regulatory and political waters in Washington…”
Yes, Democrats sell out, too. In 2010, former Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh announced his plans to retire in 2010 in a New York Times op-ed that bemoaned the the lack of bipartisan friendships in the modern Senate and attacked the influence of money in politics. Yet shortly after he left Congress, Bayh signed up with law firm McGuireWoods and private equity firm Apollo Global Management and began acting as a lobbyist for corporate clients in all but name. Less than a year later, he joined the US Chamber of Commerce as an adviser.
Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) pulled a similar trick, promising “no lobbying, no lobbying,” before taking a $1-million-plus job as the head of the Motion Picture Association of America, Hollywood’s main lobbying group.
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, 417 ex-lawmakers hold lobbyist or lobbyist-like jobs.
Relying on most of these creeps for anything approaching ethics, dedication to the needs of ordinary Americans, is a farce. Either we take the money stream out of politics and adopt a simple system of short-term campaigns with the same kitty for each candidate, apportioned fairly for independent candidates – or the people of this nation must start at the grassroots and built regional responsive parties from the local and state level to challenge the bought-and-paid-for politicians in the two old parties.
They are past their sell-by date. Throw ‘em in the dumpster and start over again.
In sports, all great competitors know that they have a choice, even when confronted with daunting, insurmountable odds. They can lay down and let the larger, stronger opponent run up the score. Or they can find a way to compete, to make a game of it. A good loss is a dignified way to show what you are made of, that you have grit, attitude and brass, and you aren’t to be trifled with, even in defeat…
The financial crisis delivered a significant blow to the economic well-being of the U. S,, indeed, the world. There were two responses to this challenge, one of a great competitor, and one of a pathetic loser. The response to the threat of overwhelming defeat is instructive, not only for its policy implications, but for how we as individuals should respond to challenges that seem hopeless.
Consider the policy makers of the Federal Reserve, terrified as they were of the entire system collapsing. Regardless of your views of the impact of the Fed — and I was an early critic — one must grudgingly admire their determined and innovative responses. Consider not what they did but their attitude and creativity when confronted with what appeared to be an insurmountable challenge: They stepped up their game big time. If they were going to lose this battle, they were going to go down fighting.
They threw away the rule book. The new liquidity facilities were certainly never envisioned 100 years ago on Jekyll Island, where the Fed was born. But that didn’t stop them…
Now let’s turn the discussion to losing and failure, which means it’s time to consider the collection of incompetents we call the U.S. Congress. Rarely has so much stupidity and malfeasance been assembled in a single room at one time.
When we look at the weak sectors of the economy…it should be obvious that our national economic wounds are mostly self-inflicted.
The drag from federal government usually is a simple and obvious fix. During a recession and recovery, spending should rise and the Fed should make credit less expensive.
Except in this cycle. Before you start telling me about beliefs and ideology and the deficit, all one needs to do is compare federal spending during the 2001 recession cycle, with a Republican controlling the White House and a split Congress, to the present cycle. Apparently, the importance of reducing deficits and having a smaller government only applies when the GOP doesn’t control the White House…
The bottom line is that as a nation, and mainly because of Congress, we haven’t risen to the challenges we face. There has been little intelligence, no creativity, negligible cooperation, and an epic failure of civic responsibility.
There is plenty of blame to spread around, but not in equal measures to both parties. The Democrats have been timid and short-sighted in their approach. The Republicans have been all of that, but much, much worse. No wonder independents are the fastest-growing political affiliation, especially among the young. Count me as one among them, a former liberal Republican from the Northeast, embarrassed by what happened to the party of Lincoln.
Congress is a national embarrassment. That sentence is one we all have believed at one time or another to be true. But the sentence I never imagined I would ever write is this: Thank goodness for the Federal Reserve.
Barry Ritholtz is my favorite Recovering Republican.
Though he didn’t expand on the concept, that definition is easily the largest sector of expansion among those now listed as Independents when it comes to voter registration in these United States. And that, my friends, is one of the best reasons to scrap the out-of-date process we use for political primaries. The California model of open primary with the top two finishers getting a run-off is what we deserve. Comparable to what exists in much of the democratic world – and also allowing candidates independent of the two decrepit old parties.
Voters in the United States who describe themselves as “very religious” are still more likely to gravitate to the Republican Party, a Gallup poll has suggested.
Gallup found some differences among racial and ethnic groups. Black people are overwhelmingly Democratic, and religious ties make no difference in their party leanings. Republicans are a minority among Asians and Hispanics of all degrees of religious observance, but the very religious are somewhat more likely to be Republican.
About 41 percent of U.S. adults attend church at least once a week and say religion is important in their daily lives, Gallup said. Among that group, 49 percent of respondents described themselves as Republican or leaning that way, 11 percent as independents and 36 percent as Democrats or Democratic leaners.
Among very religious whites, 64 percent said they are Republican…
One of my favorite parallel instances of apocrypha is the one-liner favored by conehead friends of mine who work in the National Labs: “94% of scientists are atheists – the rest are Republicans”.
Democrats in Congress said Tuesday that they had developed legislation to override the Supreme Court decision on contraceptives. The bill would ensure that women have access to insurance coverage for birth control even if they work for businesses that have religious objections.
The bill, put together in consultation with the Obama administration, would require for-profit corporations like Hobby Lobby Stores to provide and pay for contraceptive coverage, along with other preventive health services, under the Affordable Care Act.
The measure could be on the Senate floor as early as next week, Senate Democrats said. House Democrats are developing a companion bill, but it faces long odds in the House, which is controlled by Republicans. Speaker John A. Boehner described the Hobby Lobby decision last week as “a victory for religious freedom.”
Senator Patty Murray, Democrat of Washington, who led efforts by Senate Democrats to respond to the ruling, said: “Your health care decisions are not your boss’s business. Since the Supreme Court decided it will not protect women’s access to health care, I will.”
Ms. Murray wrote her proposal with Senator Mark Udall, Democrat of Colorado.
Ms. Murray’s bill criticizes the court’s majority opinion and declares that “employers may not discriminate against their female employees” in the coverage of preventive health services.
To this end, it says that an employer “shall not deny coverage of a specific health care item or service” where coverage is required under any provision of federal law. This requirement, it says, shall apply to employers notwithstanding the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Someday the role our original constitution played in leading separation of church and state throughout the world will once again be recognized back where it started. Right here in the Heart of the Free World.
More or less, eh?
Embarrassed by Republican corruption
We were treated to a rare moment of candor last week when a Republican legislator expressed a sense of shame about his party’s blatant voter suppression tactics. Wisconsin state senator Dale Schultz appeared on the radio program The Devil’s Advocate last Wednesday to talk about Republican efforts to limit the hours available for early voting in the state.
Not surprisingly, Schultz is a lame duck that doesn’t need to worry about getting reelected nor pandering to the Republican’s resentful, fearful, and misinformed white base.
The lawmaker said, “I am not willing to defend them anymore. I’m just not and I’m embarrassed by this.” He was the lone Republican to oppose the bill, which ultimately passed. After very accurately calling voter fraud “mythology”, he then went on to say:
“It’s just, I think, sad when a political party — my political party — has so lost faith in its ideas that it’s pouring all of its energy into election mechanics. And again, I’m a guy who understands and appreciates what we should be doing in order to make sure every vote counts, every vote is legitimate. But that fact is, it ought to be abundantly clear to everybody in this state that there is no massive voter fraud.
“The only thing that we do have in this state is we have long lines of people who want to vote. And it seems to me that we should be doing everything we can to make it easier, to help these people get their votes counted. And that we should be pitching as political parties our ideas for improving things in the future, rather than mucking around in the mechanics and making it more confrontational at the voting sites and trying to suppress the vote.”
Every now and then I joke about my cynicism; but, I walked away from white-bread America sixty years ago because of the hypocrisy, bigotry and corruption common to so much of social life in this nation. The excuse accepted by politicians, then, was the Cold War and McCarthyism, the excuse for their cowardice and inaction.
But, today, we’re washed in the hypocrisy, the abundant waste of a liberal government that accepts all the lies and garbage of a conservative government. The Democrats – with whatever power they’ve had over the past six years – were just as cowardly as the Truman government. Campaigning for a National Health Service and then fighting for halfway measures that guarantee continued and unneeded profits for the insurance industry is another example of corruption selling out America’s working families.
The incredible waste of money and effort that shells out billions of dollars to combat the existence of a pitiful number of terrorists scattered about the globe is characteristic of a dying imperial nation – more like 19th Century England than the 21st Century United States.
Our education policy under a liberal Harvard Constitutionalist is no less corrupt and futile than the advocacy of that “education president” who spent his college career at Yale stuffing drugs up his nose.
Cynicism isn’t required to comprehend how often and how thoroughly the American middle class has been sold out by our political saviors – of both parties. All we are left with is voting against the evil of two lessers. When we’re allowed to vote.