For those of us who think the American system should ultimately check and punish those who step over the line, abuse power, and corrupt the lawmaking process, this has not been a good March.
Take a look at the scandal in the redistricting case that broke on Wednesday.
A group of Democrats and the immigrant rights group Voces de la Frontera sued, and the panel of federal judges ruled last year that two Assembly maps on Milwaukee's south side violated the voting rights of Latinos. The court put in place new maps for those districts but not others, meaning the Republican-friendly maps were largely preserved.How is every GOP that was associated with this not sitting in a jail cell for contempt after clearly violating a court order? The tentacles in this case reach down very far- from RNC head Reince Priebus, through Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and former Assembly Speaker and convicted criminal Scott Jensen, down to the staffer hacks who went off of the Capitol grounds and used the Madison offices of Michael, Best and Friedrich to try to get around open records laws.
But after the ruling, the plaintiffs identified documents - 55 so far - that should have been turned over to them but never were. Last month the court ordered the state to turn over the computers so the plaintiffs could forensically examine them because the judges found "some form of 'fraud, misrepresentation, or misconduct' likely occurred."
In the two weeks the plaintiffs have had hard drives, forensic examiner Mark Lanterman has determined documents were deleted in June, July and November. He also found some of them contained "wiping" software meant to delete files so that they cannot be recovered.
The internal and external hard drives come from the three computers that legislative aides, lawyers and consultants used to draw the maps. One of the nine hard drives had a stripped screw, dents and scratches and is unreadable.
Lanterman did not tell the court how many documents had been deleted from the hard drives, but a lawyer for the plaintiffs called the number "substantial."
The only reason these maps were allowed in the first place was because the federal panel said they felt it wasn't their place to step in vs. the Legislature, but when the GOP Legislative interests have hidden (and now apparently tried to destroy) evidence that was asked for as part of the case, doesn't that go out the window? Because the GOP ultimately got what it wanted, it'll take numerous people to be charged, convicted, and given serious prison time, and these rigged maps to be THROWN OUT AND DRAWN INDEPENDENTLY for justice to be served. Anything less than this is a disgusting travesty, and will show that lying and criminal behavior pays.
Know where else lying and criminal behavior still pays? Wall Street, as we saw again yesterday with JP Morgan and Chase bank executives getting called into a Senate subcommittee hearing on deceptive and reckless accounting practices that continued well after they were bailed out in 2009. Matt Taibbi's blog has a great rundown of this hearing and just how little regard these people have for SEC laws and regulators, and this little drop-in will tell you why.
...it's crucial to understand that this "London Whale" episode is not an isolated example of the bank blowing off its internal controls. Rosner went bank and found an extraordinary series of settlements Chase has been involved with in the last three-four years, each one worse than the next seemingly, and despite these repeat violations, Chase each time was allowed to skate without serious punishment.Well no wonder they keep cheating if the penalties are going to be a fraction of their gains. And we found out recently that the lack of criminal prosection and small penalties are ACTUAL U.S. POLICY, as Attorney General Eric Holder revealed that some institutions are indeed Too Big to Jail.
In September of 2009, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission nailed Chase for co-mingling $725 million of its own money with $9.6 billion in customer money, essentially the same activity we saw in the Corzine/MF Global scandal. Chase, incredibly, was allowed to settle for $300,000 in that case.
A year later, the British Financial Services Authority fined Chase 33 million British pounds for doing the same thing – failing to “adequately protect between $1.9 billion and $23 billion of client money between November 2002 and July 2009.”
In April of 2012, the CFTC again found that Chase was failing to segregate customer funds from its own accounts, and fined the company $20 million, which is about 3 seconds of income (I’m exaggerating, but probably not far off) – not even a slap on the wrist, more like hitting them on the wrist with a feather-duster.
“The size of some of these institutions becomes so large that it does become difficult for us to prosecute them when we are hit with indications that if you do prosecute, if you do bring a criminal charge, it will have a negative impact on the national economy,” [Holder] said. “That is a function of the fact that some of these institutions have become too large."That's right, Eric Holder and company are so worried about another financial meltdown that they're willing to let these banks break the law and get off easy. Think that would work for any of us if we broke a law "Sorry officer, I had to drive home, because I was going to get more shitfaced and smash up the bar if I stuck around for the next few hours." WHAAAT?
But Holder's philosophy also sounded familiar for another reason, and I remembered a certain "concerned Wisconsinite" who testified in front of a State Senate panel in 2010.
That's right, it's current U.S. Senator (mo)Ron Johnson arguing that you can't crush the Catholic Church with major damages for protecting pedophile priests, because that could destabilize all these charity-based organizations who might want to help kids.
HEY (MO)RON! Maybe we should be concentrating on making sure there's never a spot where it's worthwhile to cover up for kid-diddlers, and I can't think of a much better motivator than a huge fucking fine and damage payment. Then again, (mo)Ron apparently was on the same panel that was asking these corrupt banks why they continued to cheat, but I don't see evidence Sen. Johnson said ANYTHING to these guys. Typical inherited money-type- (mo)Ron thinks his class is allowed to run by a separate set of rules than people with real jobs. And March seems to indicate this is true.
It's fitting that our unaccountability month began with the news that Milwaukee County D-A John Chisholm chose not to pursue charges against Governor Walker in the Milwaukee phase of the John Doe case. This is despite the fact that Walker directly hired 5 of those individuals convicted of felonies (including Tim Russell to multiple positions), was included in emails that were used as evidence in convicting Kelly Rindfleisch, and admitted to knowledge of the illegal wireless router that Darlene Wink was using when she got arrested.
Now what you have to believe in order to think Scott Walker was totally innocent in John Doe is to think that all of these illegal activities were happening in Scott Walker's office by people Scott Walker hired and these same people worked on Scott Walker's campaign in 2010, but somehow Scott Walker knew nothing and controlled nothing, and is the worst manager ever seen. Even I don't think he's that much of a puppet. So it seems to me that Chisholm got spooked by the amount of smears and lawyers that a Walker indictment would have led to, and bailed on it since he couldn't get an airtight case that would show Gov. Dropout's direct involvement. Making Scott Walker Too Big To Jail, at least in this case.
So what do we do about it? I have a couple of ideas past the ginger curly thingy.
First, you can make damn sure YOU VOTE ED FALLONE ONTO THE WISCONSIN SUPREME COURT APRIL 2 overthe Roggen-hack who has no problem with deciding cases involving corporations that she took money from.) This would be a thunderbolt that would check the Fitzwalkerstani agenda, and begin to at least make one branch of our Wisconsin government start to turn toward respecting the rule of law (it certainly doesn't do so with the 4 WMC-bought judges that we have now).
Second, we need visible public action, because our media is too heavily involved in this corrupt game to do the right thing and call it straight (don't believe me, check out Journal Communications' huge earnings that were based on 2012 election ads). Now I'm not sure if that's merely in the form of doing our own ads through one of the many grassroots organizations that have sprouted up in Wisconsin the last 2 years, or if it's through massive rallies and getting further behind the Move to Amend folks who are demanding a repeal of Citizens United (you can make your voice heard on that in Dane County April 2 as well).
Or does it take more? Is the system so rotten that we gotta start sharpening the blade and reminding the scumbags how it went down 225 years ago in France when the oligarchs stopped respecting their luck in life and threw all the burdens onto the people who helped give them their status? I don't want it to get to that point, but if the crooks aren't going to be sent to jail, then the system has completely broken down, and it's time to replace the officials who have failed to care for the people who pay their salaries.
Somehow this song fits quite well with where my head's at today, and not just because it's the St. Patty's time of the year.
Don't think we can't do something like this again. And this time, we might not choose to be nice about it.