by Michael Walsh in PJ Media
At first glance, the scandal surrounding the soon-to-be-former speaker of the New York State Assembly, Sheldon Silver, might appear to be of little interest to the residents of other 49 states, especially Illinois, whose governors progress from the state house to the Big House, and Massachusetts, where the same career path awaits its house speakers. Once again, it’s time to play Name That Party: New York, Illinois and Massachusetts are all thoroughly corrupt fiefdoms, gang-controlled precincts of the criminal organization masquerading as a political party — namely, the Democrats. Now, before someone objects that one of the four Illinois jailbird governors, George Ryan, is a Republican, let me just remind you that in Illinois the GOP long ago joined the Combine as the junior partner in abusing the public trust.
As a wise man once said: the scandal isn’t what’s illegal, it’s what’s legal. Everybody in New York state knows that Albany is a sinkhole of corruption, and has been as least since the days of George Washington Plunkitt and Tammany Hall. Everybody knows that Albany is controlled by “three men in a room” — the governor, the assembly speaker and the president of the Senate (generally, but not always, a Republican). Everybody knows that Albany is always open for business, providing you know how to play ball. And everybody turned a blind eye to it, decade after decade.
One of the reasons is that Democrats and Leftists in general have a high tolerance for corruption as long as it benefits their side; they’re a “party” with no principles except personal self-enrichment and the acquisition of power in order to boss other people around. They dismiss wrongdoing with a good-natured shrug and a “whaddya gonna do?” smirk on their lips. A good example of this was their reaction to Clinton hack Sandy Berger’s theft of documents from the National Archives –
WAIT A MINUTE. Let me back up here. That would be former National Security Advisor Sandy Berger’s theft of documents from the National Archives of the United States of America, for which he received a slap on the wrist and a crack from his old boss about typical Sandy “sloppiness” –
So whaddaya gonna do? Well, how about not putting up with it anymore? In the New York Post, Michael Goodwin has some thoughts about the outhouse/whorehouse in Albany:
The roster of convicted crooks is approaching 40 public officials, but Silver’s case is unique. As speaker for 20 years, he was at the center of every piece of legislation written and every taxpayer dollar collected and spent. He ruled the Assembly like a private fiefdom, and, governors notwithstanding, he was called the most powerful man in the state for good reason.
Nothing moved without his say-so, and according to the federal charges, he turned that power into personal wealth. He “monetized public office,” Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara said, adding that Silver “amassed a tremendous personal fortune” of at least $3.8 million through kickbacks and bribery.
One series of charges says he traded $500,000 in taxpayer money for more than $3 million in private gain. He allegedly took cash from a state slush fund and gave it to a doctor, who referred asbestos cases to a law firm that illegally split its share of medical settlements with Silver. Other charges involve a separate law firm, which paid Silver $700,000 over a period of years for helping developers lower their property taxes. That, says Bharara, meant Silver “was on retainer” to the developers.
Not once, prosecutors say, did Silver actually do any legal work. He was paid only for using his public power to help the law firms and their clients. It’s only a slight stretch to say that Silver did most of his alleged thieving in plain sight. Most of the outside money, if not its sources, was publicly disclosed. The taint was screechingly obvious, yet nobody did anything about it.
Whaddaya gonna do? The answer was, until Preet Bharara came along, absolutely nothing. It was understood that part of the price one would pay for living in the Empire State (really, for living in New York City, which completely controls, politically, the vast depopulated mess that is “upstate” New York, has beggared it and just about destroyed it). The state of California forces its residents to pay extra for great weather; New York state, lacking great weather, forces city dwellers to pay extra for just about everything — food, heating oil, taxes and most especially rent and real estate — and then makes them shell out even more for the “opportunity” that comes with living within shouting distance of Manhattan.
The diabolical cleverness of the Democrats is to pretend to be the party of the Little Guy while being the party of the Ugly Guy — the thug with the blackjack, the sniveling weasel lawyer in the back room, the “incorruptible” cop or judge whose smile masks his avaricious, empty soul. The Dependent Class votes for them as a bloc, of course, but so does, in the main, the young, aspirational professional class — making just enough money so as not to feel the fleece too much — which wants to show concern without actually, you know, writing a check, unless it is to the IRS.
Why Sheldon Silver matters — and why any further indictments issued by Bharara’s office (hello, Gov. Cuomo!) will matter even more — is that he’s not alone. There are Sheldon Silvers all across this land of others, and why not? A country whose primary national product is now Government, at every level, is an open invitation to criminality. Any program can be manipulated and milked. Any bureaucracy can be bilked. Any “justice” system can be massaged (hello, David Gregory!) Like G.W. Plunkitt, Silver seen his opportunities and he took ‘em. There’s a sucker born every minute, and they tend to vote Republican.
None of this is new, of course. New York City and state have been going through periodic fits of breathtaking corruption followed by crime-busting commissions and prosecutors in a yin-and-yang cycle since the mid-19th century. No less a high-rider than Beau James himself — Jimmy Walker, the very popular “night mayor” of New York City in the Roaring Twenties and Gangster Thirties — was brought down by the Seabury Commission, which went after crooked judges and cops during the Walker administration and wound up nailing the mayor himself. Prominent arrests and resignations are usually followed by the election of a “reform” administration — the “Goo-goos,” or “good-government” types — who last just long enough for palms to go ungreased for a while; when the pain of forgone graft starts to bite, they’re out on their ears and the cycle begins again. As Plunkitt put it:
WHENEVER Tammany is whipped at the polls, the people set to predictin’ that the organization is going’ to smash. They say we can’t get along without the offices and that the district leaders are going’ to desert wholesale. That was what was said after the throwdowns in 1894 and 1901. But it didn’t happen, did it? Not one big Tammany man deserted, and today the organization is stronger than ever.
How was that? It was because Tammany has more than one string to its bow. I acknowledge that you can’t keep an organization together without patronage. Men ain’t in politics for nothin’. They want to get somethin’ out of it.
But there is more than one kind of patronage. We lost the public kind, or a greater part of it, in 1901, but Tammany has an immense private patronage that keeps things going’ when it gets a setback at the polls. Take me, for instance. When [Mayor Seth] Low came in, some of my men lost public jobs, but I fixed them all right. I don’t know how many jobs I got for them on the surface and elevated railroads – several hundred.
Let me tell you, too, that I got jobs from Republicans in office – Federal and otherwise. When Tammany’s on top I do good turns for the Republicans. When they’re on top they don’t forget me. Me and the Republicans are enemies just one day in the year – election day. Then we fight tooth and nail The rest of the time it’s live and let live with us.
Whadday gonna do? Shelly Silver may be goin’ down, most likely singing like a canary. But there are plenty of others to take his place. From the moment Bill Clinton wagged his finger at us and denied having sex with that woman, Miss Lewinsky.. and got away with it… the nation has been on a collision course with its day of reckoning. Clinton couldn’t tell the truth about sex. George W. Bush couldn’t tell the truth about his reasons for war with Iraq. Barack Obama can’t tell the truth about anything. The moral caliber of the men and women we elect to high office says a lot about the state of our country’s own moral compass. And right now, it’s pointing due south, with nowhere to go but down.
Whaddaya gonna do? We’re getting what’s coming to us. At this point, might as well sit back and enjoy the plunge. What else can we do?
With six critically acclaimed novels as well as a hit TV movie, journalist, author and screenwriter Michael Walsh has achieved the writer’s trifecta: two New York Times best-sellers, a major literary award winner and the co-writer of the Disney Channel’s then-highest-rated show.
The 1998 publication of As Time Goes By — his long-awaited and controversial prequel/sequel to everybody‘s favorite movie, Casablanca — created a literary sensation; translated into more than twenty languages, including Portuguese, Chinese and Hebrew, the story of Rick and Ilsa landed on best-seller lists around the world.
His first novel, the dark thriller Exchange Alley, was published by Warner Books in July 1997. Hailed by critics for its moody depiction of a crumbling Soviet Union – which Walsh covered first-hand as a correspondent for Time Magazine – and a violent, dangerous New York City during the darkest days of the early 1990s, the novel was picked by the Book-of-the-Month Club as an alternate selection.
Walsh’s third novel, the gripping gangster saga, And All the Saints, was named a winner at the 2004 American Book Awards; even before publication, the movie rights to this fictionalized “autobiography” of the legendary Prohibition-era gangster Owney Madden were bought by MGM. Walsh’s latest novel, Shock Warning, is the third in a series of five thrillers about the National Security Agency published by Kensington Books.
In the spring of 2002, the Disney Channel premiered Walsh’s original movie (co-written with Gail Parent), Cadet Kelly, starring teen idol Hilary Duff of “Lizzie McGuire” fame. Until High School Music, the two-hour film reigned as the highest-rated original movie in Disney Channel history, as well as the Disney Channel’s highest-rated single program ever.
In addition to PJ Media, Walsh is a weekly op-ed columnist for the New York Post and a regular contributor to National Review Online, Walsh is also the author of Who’s Afraid of Classical Music (1989) and Who’s Afraid of Opera (1994) for Fireside Books, and Andrew Lloyd Webber: His Life and Works, a critical biography of the composer for Harry M. Abrams (U.S.) and Viking Penguin (U.K.), published in the fall of 1989; an updated and expanded edition appeared in 1997. With fellow Time Contributor Richard Schickel, he is the co-author of Carnegie Hall: The First One Hundred Years, a cultural history of the great American concert hall published by Abrams in November 1987. His most recent book about music is So When Does the Fat Lady Sing?, published by Amadeus Press.
He says he wanted to join PJ Media because, “the opportunity to join such friends and colleagues as Roger Simon, Victor Davis Hanson, Andy McCarthy, Roger Kimball, Andrew Klavan and the others was not something one says no to.” We’re excited to have Michael on board.
You can find Michael Walsh’s Unexamined Premises blog at http://pjmedia.com/michaelwalsh/.