A Philosopher's Blog

Change? Well, the More Things Change…

Posted in Business, Ethics, Politics by Michael LaBossiere on September 26, 2009

Back in 2008, Antoin Rezko was convicted of corruption. This was a problem for Obama because Rezko had served him quite ably as a fund raiser. Folks might also recall Norman Hsu. He was also a major money source for Democrats and was convicted back in May for campaign finance fraud.  He also admitted to running a Ponzi scheme.

Last month another major fundraiser for Obama and other Democrats, Hassan Nemazee, also ran into some trouble over his financial adventures.

Nemazee was arrested in August on charges of bank fraud based on the allegation that he used phony documents to get up to $74 million in loans from Citigroup, Inc. Nemazee has clearly done quite well for himself-he was released on a bond guaranteed by his $20 million residence in Manhattan and his lesser home in Katonah, NY which is worth a mere $8 million.

It can, of course, be said that the  intensely money driven and corrupt political system invites such occurrences. After all, since running a major campaign requires vast sums of money, politicians are probably quite happy to accept funds without looking to closely at the source. Naturally, thinkers and moralists have been pointing out that money is a corrupting element so it is hardly a shock that folks with large sums of money often turn out to be less than honest. Also, given the view that politicians are corrupt and shady, it is not shocking to see them rubbing elbows with other shady and corrupt folks.

It might also be claimed that the politicians do not know about the misdeeds of these folks. On one hand, this seems likely. After all, a smart politician is going to steer away from someone who could cause them serious problems and hence would not knowingly become involved with someone doing illegal things. On the other hand, politician often do illegal things themselves and do knowingly associate with such folks.

In the case of Nemazee, he was one of the top fundraisers for the Democrats. He donated to Clinton and then to Obama. He also was involved in John Kerry’s failed bid for President. Prior to the disclosure of his misdeeds, the Democrats seemed to have only nice things to say about him. Now, they seem to be only saying “no comment.”

Interestingly, the mainstream media also seems to have taken a “no comment” approach so far-for which Jon Stewart has taken them to task. This sort of corruption is of significant importance. After all, Obama spoke about changing how things would work in politics, yet it seems that the same old game is still being played.

This incident and others like it show a clear need for politicians to do their homework when it comes to their fundraisers and sources of money. It also shows a need for greater attention to be paid to the money trails leading into politics.

I also believe that there needs to be a proper investigation of the folks who receive money from such corrupt fundraisers.  The fact that they are corrupt and willing to break the law suggests that they might well be up to other misdeeds. Perhaps they got something in return for the money. That is, of course, something that must be considered and investigated.

I would like to say that I am shocked by this revelation. However, I am inclined to think that a politician is green on the inside whether they are red or blue on the outside.

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11 Responses

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  1. T. J. Babson said, on September 26, 2009 at 10:55 am

    This is precisely why the press should not roll over for Obama and the Democrats.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on September 26, 2009 at 11:03 am

      The press has a long history of being a “good dog” for the President. The media largely rolled over for Bush during the second Gulf War and it is now largely rolling over for Obama. One reason, I think, is that the media relies heavily on the government for information. If they are bad dogs, they do not get the bones (a seat in the White House briefings, a press seat on Air Force One, a chance to be embedded with troops, and so on).

      • magus71 said, on September 26, 2009 at 3:11 pm

        75% percent of the US population “rolled over” for the second gulf war. Did the media roll over? I mean, they never liked Bush. 70% of Democrats supported it.

        http://articles.latimes.com/2003/apr/05/news/war-poll5

        And British , too.

        http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/article156417.ece

        Sorry, but I’ve never seen media support for a president like this one.

      • kernunos said, on September 28, 2009 at 11:15 pm

        What? Are you high? I do not recall the press backing Bush. I remember daily death tolls and the military making it very nice for reporters to keep them half way civil.

        • Michael LaBossiere said, on September 29, 2009 at 1:40 pm

          Go back to the 2003 war. After that (when the occupation was unpopular), they started getting critical. They showed all the courage of the second person to enter the dungeon room, after the thief has checked for traps. Also, you might recall that the Democrats largely went along with Bush then as well.

          • kernunos said, on September 29, 2009 at 6:20 pm

            Hoe true. Good points also. The President can declare war all he wants but without funding from Congress it won’t get very far.

  2. magus71 said, on September 26, 2009 at 2:46 pm

    Funny thing is, I think it was either in the book Freakonomics or on the Freakonomics website, that the authors concluded that campaign finances didn’t effect the outcome of the race by as much as people think.

    That of course doesn’t release anyone from responsibility of illegal actions. It’s just that they may be committing crimes and not getting what they think they are.

    • T. J. Babson said, on September 26, 2009 at 3:59 pm

      It was in the book. The example they used was Steve Forbes–he had big $$$ but people just didn’t like him very much.

    • biomass2 said, on September 26, 2009 at 4:41 pm

      ‘. . .campaign finances didn’t effect the outcome of the race by as much as people think.”

      Agreed. I don’t have any studies to prove this, but it seems unlikely that campaign finances and political corruption could account for a 9+ million 7% gap vote gap. Or a gap of 190 electoral votes. I’m not even sure the media taking advantage of a “gullible” public could create those differences.

      Who says the media is gullible? The guy in this vid it would seem:

      http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2009/09/what-do-you-mean-by-white-culture-mr-beck.html

      I think the most interesting aspects of this piece are that:
      1/ GB repeatedly questions the source of the “What do you mean by “white cultlure” question, trying to get traction with the idea that the question must be a plant, because the media (of which he is ‘amazingly’ a part) would do that. Is that called projection?
      and
      2/More importantly, with his words and his expressions he implies that he doesn’t believe a real member of the gullible American public could be intelligent enough to ask a question that would stump The Great Beckini.

      So we get a three minute pointless dance. He truly belongs in Congress—or right where he is.

    • kernunos said, on September 28, 2009 at 11:16 pm

      Three quarters of a TRILLION dollars can get much advertising.

  3. kernunos said, on September 28, 2009 at 11:20 pm

    I for one am not shocked.


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