Over at Enlighten-New Jersey, a post entitled Creating a Culture of Corruption in New Jersey lists a quotation from New Jersey Assemblyman Michael Carroll (R-Morris). It's an interesting quote, and I'll post the opening paragraph here.
Most serious political corruption tends to be an urban problem. And a
Democrat problem. Not because Republicans are inherently more virtuous,
but because they tend to approach government from a different
perspective than do Democrats. Dems see government as an engine for
legally stealing from A to benefit B. Republicans, contrariwise, see
government as a bulwark to prevent B from stealing from A.
The one problem with the quote, as of right now, is that the post from which it allegedly came is a dead link. I have no way of telling whether Assemblyman Carroll actually made the above statement. The Way Back Machine indicates that the page doesn't exist. I suppose I could email the Assemblyman and ask, but it's less important to me whether the Assemblyman actually made such a statement than whether the statement is accurate and meaningful. If pressed, I suppose it could be said that Enlighten-New Jersey is the "author" of the statement, until this statement is otherwise verified.
Being a conservative, I would love for the statement to be true. Corruption = a Democrat problem. Great. The issue is well-defined; let's get rid of corruption by voting out Democrats. The problem is that it is factually inacurrate. In Monmouth County, the U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey undertook an investigation into corruption by Republican politicians. This investigation, known as Operation Bid Rig, led to the indictment of at least 11' individuals, including Middletown Republican Raymond O'Grady.
This link points to a number of Asbury Park Press articles on the investigation. This July 21, 2006 article gives a "scorecard" of convictions and guilty pleas related to Bid Rig.
As reported in this New York Times article, Committeeman O'Grady entered into a conversation that was surreptitiously taped by an undercover agent. This conversation related to O'Grady's plan to accept a bribe. When asked if he feared being caught by the police, O'Grady's response was nonchalant, to say the least.
In one case, Raymond O'Grady, a Middletown committeeman, casually
dismissed an undercover agent's question to him on tape about whether
he feared being caught by the police, according to the criminal
complaint. "I can smell a cop a mile away," Mr. O'Grady bragged to the
undercover agent who was taping the conversation, according to the
Operation Bid Rig took down corrupt Republican politicians in New Jersey. Many of those Republicans were convicted or pled guilty. Thus, we can address the assumption that corruption in this State exists as a Democrat problem and say, clearly, this assumption is false.
As an aside, this assumption is so patently false that I think that is why one doesn't find a link to it on Assemblyman Carroll's website. The Assemblyman is an intelligent, well-educated man. He would know better than to make an assumption that is so readily disproven.
Corruption in New Jersey is a real, substantial problem. The problem, so far, hasn't been solved, as evidenced by continuing convictions undertaken by the Federal Government. And, as evidenced by the bilateral nature of these convictions, it's neither a Republican nor a Democrat problem.
The problem is one of individual responsibility.
Every individual investigated and convicted is responsible for the actions that led to his or her conviction, just as every individual - in the future - that is convicted will be as well. It will not be solved by pointing fingers at one party or the other. It will be solved when individuals involved in the governance of this State decide that they are better than the politics of unlawful personal enrichment.
Not surprisingly, the fact that this State has failed to put forward an ethics reform bill to address public corruption is a problematic one. Still, the actions of the U.S. Attorney evidence that, even without such reform, corruption can be policed, to some extent. Policing corruption and reforming the laws concerning corruption are not the answer, though. The final answer concerning corruption must be individuals taking their conduct to a level where there is no question of corruption. Politicians must not merely be successful at getting elected; they must be virtuous. The notion seems naive, but it's not an unheard of concept.
"There's a real failure to recognize how important the health status of
inmates is to the public health of all of us," says Rachel Schwartz,
Ph.D., a researcher at the Institute for Biosecurity at Saint Louis
University School of Public Health. "Nearly 85 percent of those in
jails and prisons will be released within a year. So even if we as a
society don't think protecting them from disease is a priority,
prisoners released into the general population pose a real threat to
HP has now admitted to spying on its own directors' personal phone records in order to root out a leaker. It did so by using private investigators who engaged in "pretexting"—calling up phone companies and impersonating directors seeking their own records. HP late last week additionally admitted to spying on the phone records of nine journalists, including at The New York Times and Wall Street Journal, some of which date to 2005. HP's Dunn stands accused of orchestrating the investigation. Perkins quit in a rage over the surveillance and wants Dunn out as chairman; HP is painting him as an angry traitor with a vendetta against Dunn. Lying, spying, name-calling, finger-pointing—all of it is a tragicomedy that Shakespeare might've penned had he gotten an M.B.A.
Update: Interesting to see that Larry Sonsini, Esq., of Wilson Sonsini, approved the practice of pretexting (according to the article). The article is well-written. I like its reference to the murder of St. Thomas Becket.
It remains unclear exactly what Dunn knew and when she knew it. The
California attorney general will want to know if Dunn intentionally
avoided knowing about the details, like a head of state who wants
"plausible deniability" while ordering an assassination plot. (An
ancient model, cited by old CIA hands, is Henry II. When he wanted to
get rid of the Archbishop of Canterbury, he simply muttered in front of
his knights, "Will no one rid me of this troublesome priest?")
The mainstream media insist they are far too savvy to fall for crude manipulation like this. And yet, proof keeps coming up that that is exactly what is happening: The media are falling utterly for all of the images coming out of Lebanon, and their critical thinking abilities aren’t even in gear. Lame excuses are offered for serious breaches of editorial oversight.
When even the pictures of bodies being taken out of the rubble are turned into propaganda victories for Hezbullah, you have to wonder—how many pieces of rocket launchers and other evidence were removed from the sites of such bombings?
The Washington Times however went on to point out
that CAIR could not be categorically held responsible for the
independent actions of one of its members, and commended it for its
condemnation of extremism and terrorism, while at the same time
suggesting that "unsettling connections between certain CAIR officials
and extremist groups" continued to exist and that CAIR's defense of
high-ranking members convicted of terrorism amounted to a "dishonest
campaign to create the sense of a widespread inquisition against
Muslims and Arabs in America that simply doesn't exist."
August 2003, CAIR's former civil-rights coordinator, Randall "Ismail"
Royer, along with ten other men known as the "Virginia jihad group"
were indicted on 41 counts, including training and participating in
jihad activities overseas. The group had connections with
Lashkar-e-Taiba and five of them possessed AK-47-style rifles and
hundreds of rounds of ammunition. Four of the men plead guilty while
the other seven were charged with 32 new counts, including conspiring
to provide material support to al Qaeda and to the Taliban. He pleaded
guilty and is now serving 20 years in federal prison.
After all, terrorist plots will always exist in potentia (can you prove that no terrorist plots are hatching at this moment?) Until they handcuff us all nude to our seats and dart us with tranquilizers, there will always be the possibility that a passenger will do something naughty on a plane (even then, who knows how much semtex and roofing nails a bad guy could hide in his colon?).
How do you know you have the cart before the horse? When your greatest concern after what appears to be a major terrorism-related incident is whether you will be able to bring your damn iPod on board a plane.
I've been holding off on mention of this, as I want to do a longer essay on writer Vernor Vinge, but I wonder if this is the time for the development of his "security hobbyist" groups. Perhaps general citizens could do something useful in these times.