A Cautious Man
September 09, 2007
 
Your Own Worst Enemy
The recent arrests of an assortment of New Jersey officials have, once again, burnished our state's reputation as a haven for corruption. We are our own worst enemies, of course, as some local politicians seem to feel that neither the voters, the press, or the law will ferret out their shady dealings. That being said, I have no reason to believe that New Jersey is any worse than any place else - our small time corruption does get exposed, but maybe we're also looking harder for it.

Nevertheless, the press does love a good NJ corruption story when one pops up. And, in light of the recent, endless parade of corrupt Republicans coming to light, that reliable cheerleader and former "Jersey Girl", Michelle Malkin, has a ginormous post for what she calls "A closer look at the NJ Democrat corruption case." It's rare that she dedicates that much blog real estate to a topic, but she clearly wants to play this up.

Couple of problems, of course. First of all, it's not just a "Democrat" case, since one of the policians hauled in is a Republican former councilman from Passaic. More important, this is a group of two assemblymen, assorted city officials, and members of a school board - in reality, this is a "rotten local officials corruption case", not solely a "Democrat" case.

New Jersey is pretty bipartisan when it comes to crooked politicians. Two years ago, a group of mostly Republican officials from mostly-Republican Monmouth County were hauled in by the Feds, on similar bribery charges. And, in Essex County where I live, we had our former, corrupt, Republican County Executive arrested and convicted in 2003 of corruption in office and of trying to obstruct the investigation into his dealings. One interesting facet of the case was Treffinger's plan to short-circuit the investigation into him and his crooked cronies -
Treffinger was seeking a presidential appointment to become the U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey in order to terminate favorably the investigation. Treffinger was captured in a covert tape-recording of a conversation with DeMiro on Jan. 15, 2001. During this conversation, Treffinger advised DeMiro that "all this becomes moot if I get to be made U.S. Attorney," and that they would "rest easy for a long time to come" because, he explained, "[t]hen this whole thing goes away."

Curiously, none of these cases were ever addressed by Ms. Malkin. I'm not sure why, since the recent case has given her a chance to repeat a phrase that she's used before: "They don’t call my home state the armpit of the nation' for nothing." The last time I read that in her column, we had a little fun here pointing out that Ms. Malkin was (as far as we were concerned) not terribly welcome or well thought of, here. In her patented jump-to-conclusions-and-blame-the-Muslims way, she had gone on a crusade when an Egyptian Christian family was found murdered in Jersey City. Before the perpetrators were arrested, Ms. Malkin gleefully stoked the flames of racial and religious hatred, asserting that this Christian family was the victim of Muslim assasins. In fact, while during the investigation local officials cautioned people not to jump to conclusions, she mocked them and accused them of some sort of "political correctness" for not pursuing the "jihadists" who she concluded had committed the crime. Even when the truth came out (that Muslims were not involved), she continued to imply that there were legitimate unanswered questions.

At the time, I suggested that Ms. Malkin be relieved of any connection to the Garden State, since we seem to bother her so much. Besides, being a Republican Filipino from New Jersey could get you confused with Leandro Aragoncillo, an FBI intelligence analyst, who previously worked for Vice President Dick Cheney, who was stealing classified documents at Fort Monmouth and passing them to high-level officials within the Philippines government. Especially since she's Ms. "Race-Based Internment".

In any event, this latest crop of corrupt policians are getting what they deserve. And as for whether corruption is more of a Republican or Democratic phenomenon, I'll leave that question alone. The Republicans do seem to have the higher profile scandals lately, as this list (recommended by the Blanton’s and Ashton’s blog) seems to indicate. It's got our buddy Leandro, and a whole lot more.

And, finally, here's a great webpage from WFMU, with "Songs in Celebration of The Armpit of the Nation" - including a personal favorite, Dave Van Ronk's Garden State Stomp.

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