Saturday, 14 October 2006

Softball on Hardball = Noballs

Ken Berwitz

So I'm watching chris matthews last night.  I hear him and a couple of his usual, reliably predictable guests citing Republican scandal after scandal, including Foley (resigned) and Ney (leaving). 


Then matthews makes a passing mention of william jefferson, who is arguably the single dirtiest congressperson we know of - a man who was caught on tape taking a bribe and then caught with the money in his home - packaged and hidden in his freezer.  I recall that jefferson  is not resigning or leaving, has not been asked to do so and is in the process of winning re-election with the Democratic party's endorsement. 


Then he moves on.  The  jefferson discussion is over before it starts.  All this talk of scandal but, for jefferson, a couple of sentences in passing and then on to the next Republican.


So I start thinking about some of the other Democrats involved in scandals who matthews and his panel of reliable regulars aren't mentioning at all.  A partial list would include :  


-Alan Mollohan, the W. Virginia congressperson who had to step down from the ethics committee because he got rich through tossing contracts to his pals;


-John Murtha, the unindicted co-conspirator in ABSCAM who, more recently, tossed his brother $20,000,000 in defense contracts to broker.  Murtha is also that nice fellow  who told the country marines had killed innocent civilians in cold blood, without benefit of a trial;


-The redoubtable Harry Reid, who got $60,000 in his hand from clients of Jack Abramoff, and who made a 1.1 million dollar windfall through the kind of machinations matthews would demand any Republican resign for - quite possibly with help from his son Rory whose seat on a zoning board was so, er, coincidentally convenient.  (In Reid's case, the term "redoubtable" means you should doubt anything he says not once but twice.)


The bottom line here is that corruption and dishonesty is a bipartisan enterprise.  BOTH sides have corrupt people.  But to chris matthews and his hand-picked regulars, just one of those sides is going to be exposed.


That is bias.  Plain and simple.  And the relatively few people who watch matthews, therefore, are not being informed, they are being propagandized.

Extra (money)! Extra (money)! Reid all about it!

Ken Berwitz

Finally at long last some (by no means all, let's remember) mainstream media are starting to report scandal on the OTHER side of the aisle.

Here is the Washington Post's editorial of yesterday on the redoubtable Harry Reid:

Mr. Reid's Nondisclosure

The Senate minority leader's incomplete financial filings

Friday, October 13, 2006; Page A28

THE BEST CASE for Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) is that he was sloppy about financial disclosure rules in accounting for a real estate deal on which he made a $700,000 profit. The more unattractive case is that the senator's inaccurate description of the investment was an effort to disguise his partnership with a Las Vegas lawyer who's never been charged with wrongdoing but whose name has surfaced in federal investigations involving organized crime, casinos and political bribery since the 1980s. As of now, the evidence points toward sloppiness; Mr. Reid's friendship with Jay Brown isn't exactly a secret in the state. But either way, an Associated Press report about Mr. Reid's dealings doesn't cast the senator in an attractive light. Neither does his response to the AP story, which indicates a casual disregard for the importance of accurate reporting of lawmakers' financial affairs.

Mr. Reid bought undeveloped property on the outskirts of fast-growing Las Vegas for about $400,000 in 1998 -- one parcel outright and a second jointly with Mr. Brown. In 2001, Mr. Reid sold the land for the same price to a corporation he co-owned with Mr. Brown, who in the meantime was getting the land rezoned from residential to commercial use. But the senator didn't report the sale on his annual financial disclosure form. When the new company sold the land to developers in 2004, yielding $1.1 million for Mr. Reid, the senator did not accurately list the transaction or go back and fix the previous forms to reflect the new arrangement.

"Everything I did was transparent," Mr. Reid said at a news conference Wednesday, after the story broke. "Everything is fully disclosed to the ethics committee and everyone else. As I said, if there is some technical change that the ethics committee wants, I'll be happy to do that."

Mr. Reid's professions of transparency and full disclosure are transparently wrong. His investment was not reported in a manner that made clear his partnership with Mr. Brown. It's true -- under the inadequate financial disclosure rules -- that even if Mr. Reid had listed the newly formed corporation, Patrick Lane LLC, that wouldn't have by itself demonstrated Mr. Brown's involvement. Nonetheless, that Mr. Reid no longer owned the land, but instead had sold it for an interest in the Patrick Lane corporation, was not some mere "technical change," as the senator would like to brush it off. It's an essential element of financial disclosure rules, the purpose of which is to know how and with whom public officials are financially entwined.

Do yourself a favor and don't hang by your thumbs waiting for chris matthews at Noballs, or keith olbermann at Down For the Count do do a series on the Reid scandal.

And, of course, the network news shows have virtually ignored it as well.  Hey, Tom Foley is still gay and he still is accused of emailing suggestive material to congressional pages (no accusations of actually having physical contact with them - although if that happened I am certain the Democratic operatives will get it out to you just in time to change a few votes before the election). 

Not one thing has changed about the Foley story for over a week.  But that's the only thing to talk about.  Who has time for the financial shenanigans of a man who might well become majority leader of the senate in a few months?  Keep on moving, folks.  Nothing to see here.  Foley Foley Foley.

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