The Reverend Al Sharpton, anchorman, preacher, politician and shakedown artist extraordinaire, has led what can be viewed as a charmed life. A lengthy expose published yesterday on The Smoking Gun website (see pdf) provides some insight as to why. Starting in 1983, the New York-based civil rights activist, who 20 years later would run for president, allegedly worked for several years as an FBI informant so as to avoid prosecution for his own wrongdoing. In return for helping the feds root out organized crime from the entertainment industry, Sharpton has operated with near immunity. "The Rev" denies he worked as an informant, adding that the report simply rehashes "old news."
Thomas Perez embodies ethnic identity radicalism. Whether the U.S. Senate has the courage to challenge him is yet unknown. President Obama today nominated Perez for Secretary of Labor. As the Department of Justice's assistant attorney general for civil rights since October 2009, Perez has promoted a hard-charging egalitarianism that goes even beyond that of first-term Obama Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, who resigned in January. His "Third World First, America Last" worldview comes with hefty baggage. He's persuaded the Justice Department to dismiss its case against Black Panther members accused of menacing white voters and poll watchers in Philadelphia on Election Day 2008.
The elder Jesse Jackson has grown wealthy these past couple decades mainly by shaking down corporations. One of his sons, former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., D-Ill. (see photo), has preferred a different path to wealth: his campaign till. That path is now leading to federal prison. On Wednesday, February 20, the younger Jackson, who served nine terms in Congress before resigning last November 21, pleaded guilty in District of Columbia federal court to diverting about $750,000 in re-election funds to personal use. Jackson, who since last June has been hospitalized twice at the Mayo Clinic for bipolar disorder and other problems, told U.S. District Judge Robert L. Wilkins that in pleading guilty to wire and mail fraud, he had "no interest in wasting the taxpayers' time or money." His wife, Sandi, until recently a Chicago city alderwoman, hours later pled guilty to a related tax fraud charge.
The transformation of the American economy and polity into a racial spoils system has been a defining goal of President Obama's first term in office. It is set to become more defining in his second term, especially in light of a federal appeals court ruling two weeks ago. Obama, by various accounts, wants to be more aggressive about suing banks, employers, schools and other institutions whose practices, however unintentionally, adversely affect "disadvantaged" (read: nonwhite) populations. This is the doctrine of "disparate impact."
Whether as heads of corporations or government agencies, white executives can be counted upon to grovel if they or their organizations stand accused of discrimination. Such especially is the case with Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, whose capacity for fecklessness in the face of his accusers is almost limitless. And not for the first time, his timidity will cost taxpayers. On Monday, September 24, Vilsack announced that Hispanic and women farmers who believe they were unjustly denied grants or credit by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) can file claims over a six-month period, effective immediately, for cash awards and/or tax relief totaling at least $1.33 billion, plus up to $160 million in debt relief.
It seemed the merger of Duke Energy and Progress Energy into the nation’s largest (by several measures) utility would sail through by the end of this year, but several activists in North Carolina have intervened at the last minute. The moves by environmental groups to extract funds for their pet projects out of the deal would make shakedown artists proud. Among the organizations – who have myriad methods of wringing dollars from taxpayers through lawsuits and corporate campaign-type pressure tactics – are Sierra Club, Environmental Defense Fund, and Southern Environmental Law Center.
Last August, things looked sunny for former Illinois Democratic Governor Rod Blagojevich. He and his lawyers had just obtained a hung jury on 23 of 24 corruption charges. But Justice Department prosecutors, confident they had their man, continued to pursue the case - and this time with different results. Last Monday, June 27, a Chicago federal jury, after nine days of deliberation, found the man known as "Blago" guilty on 17 of 20 charges, nearly a dozen of them related to his attempts during the fall of 2008 to fill the pending Senate vacancy left by President-Elect Barack Obama in return for campaign cash.
Hindsight is always 20/20. It's easy to look back after a mistake and pinpoint what went wrong. But there's something to be said for heeding warning signs ahead of time too - to avoid the blunder all together. And often times, when we look back, we realize those warning signs were everywhere. We simply ignored them.
More than two decades ago voters in California were fooled when Proposition 65 - "The Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986" - was passed into law. Prop 65 was advertised as a means to protect California's drinking water and exposure to chemicals in consumer products from dangerous toxic substances that cause cancer and birth defects. Sometimes all the law required were warning labels in advance of those exposures. And who would argue with that?
If ever a federal agency were a candidate for termination, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) would make for a good choice. The BIA combines patronage, outright corruption and ethnic separatism into a single package, wasting sizable tax dollars in the process. Yet few in Congress have the stomach for a fight with supporters of the bureau, now with a roughly $2.7 billion annual budget. That's not the only Indian agency in need of serious downsizing.