I think the longest parliamentary majority government in post-War Italy lasted all of four years. And it was a center-right coalition under the leadership of Silvio Berlusconi himself (2001-05). As they say, at least Mussolini made the trains run on time!
Had I noticed Bernie Ebbers, former WorldCom/MCI thief, seeking an 11th-hour pardon from the Bush Administration last week, I surely would have ranted. Ebbers Trying to Join the Bush Pardon Party [WSJ.com]. His sleaze never ends. Bernie was fairly convicted for some really serious financial crimes and deserves all the punishment he was handed. He absolutely ruined the life savings of scores of my friends, clients and colleagues from MCI by driving the company, and its stock price, into the ground. I for one hope he rots in prison.
Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens has been a fixture for decades on Capitol Hill, which means by definition folks are afraid of him. In this case it also mean’s he’s dirty. Now the federal government — prosecuting Stevens for omitting $250,000 in home improvements from his financial disclosure forms — has totally botched the case by itself failing to disclose evidence to Stevens’ defense team. Judge Threatens to Throw Out Corruption Case Against Ted Stevens [L.A. Times].
That’s a Brady violation, so named for the Supreme Court case requiring disclosure of exculpatory materials to a criminal defendant. Basic, basic. Here the Assistant U.S. Attorney disclosed only a “redacted” — incomplete —copy of the government’s interview of its star witness. Turns out the missing stuff was also the good stuff. Good for Stevens and now bad for the people. In think this sullied old crook should be hounded out of office by the Alaska electorate or banned by the Senate Ethics Committee. A long time ago, Supreme Court Justice Benjamin Cardozo asked whether “the criminal should go free because the constable has blundered.” The answer to that is yes, but it’s no solace that a crooked politician gets away with corruption for such a stupid blunder.
The offense happened two years ago, but the consequences are only now becoming reality. Ex-Judge Disbarred for Using Penis Pump During Trials [ABA Journal]. The judge, who entertained himself while presiding over capital murder prosecutions, saw his pneumatic proceedings came to an end after a police officer heard the pump’s distinctive signature during a case, and photographed the device during a recess. This is not just what lawyers call a “crime involving moral turpitude,” it’s revoiting. (Does it run in the profession? See Cross-Dressing Bankruptcy Judge Lands at Boston Law Firm [ABA Journal]). Humans are sexual beings, but there is indeed a time and a place for everything, including penis pumps. Just ask Austin Powers.
Lawyer Who Paid Rent of Edwards’ Mistress ‘Shocked’ to Learn of Affair [ABA Journal-Law News Now]. Yeah, sure. Although I have no reason to doubt Fred Baron, this sounds suspiciously like Captain Renault (Claude Raines) in Casablanca. (“I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here! “) Indeed, I am truly shocked to learn that U.S. presidential candidates may have sexual dalliances and lie about them. And then mislead his own lawyer. It could never happen in a great country like America. Must be all the headiness of national politics distorting the judgment of a little ol’ country boy lawyer….NOT.
Even after his acquittal on child molestation charges, Michael Jackson gets no rest. Now he has been sued for $48 million by the financial firm that helped him refinance his debt to pay for Neverland and legal fees. No tickee, no washee, Jacko. Pay the man!
I’m sorry, this is even more evidence of Charlie Sheen’s craziness and Hollywood’s warped morality. Hollywood Star Sheen to Divorce [ITV.com]. First, you don’t divorce a former-model wife who looks like Denise Richards. Second, you certainly don’t walk away when your wife is six-months pregnant. If you make the babies, men, you have a responsibility to them and their mother, especially when the mother is a babe.
In an article titled “Soldier’s Ethic” Guides Powell At the FCC [TechNews.com], the Washington Post calls Michael Powell — Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission — “the most criticized man in Washington … faulted by Republicans, Democrats, conservatives and liberals, feminists, gun owners, big media companies, columnists and lawyers.” It is ironic that someone who professes to be so tuned in to market and technological trends can turn out to have a completely deaf ear to politics. Especially when his father, the old general and current Secretary of State, is fairly good at that as well.
Powell is pretty sharp, as when he said today in a speech to a Las Vegas trade group — from whom he was lambasted earlier this year for accepting $85,000 in free travel perks — that the FCC is at a major crossroads. The Telecom Act of 1996 “will break, if it isn’t crumbling already, and it will need to be replaced,” Powell observed. Since I wrote the same thing here, and have been making that prediction for seven years, I’ve just got to agree with this most perceptive public servant. :-)
What that means, of course, is that when Powell blows it and reaches a decision that makes no sense, he is fully aware that he is twisting the rules to achieve the result he wants politically. That’s bad. It’s doubly bad that he is oblivious to the fact that the results he is producing are politically unpalatable to most of those he is charged with pleasing! Gotta know your audience, Michael.
I’ve been away for a couple of weeks in August, but life goes on. Sometimes even the bad guys get theirs, though, as the following vignette shows.
Earlier this week, defrocked pedophile priest John Geoghan of Boston was killed in his cell while serving a nine-to 10-year sentence for assault and battery on a 10-year-old boy. The former Catholic priest was accused of molesting nearly 150 boys over three decades and became a catalyst for the clergy sex abuse scandal that shook the foundations of the Roman Catholic Church. [CBSNews.com]. Geoghan was defrocked in 1998 and charged in December 1999 with raping and molesting three boys. The Boston archdiocese eventually settled civil lawsuits filed by 86 of Geoghan’s victims for $10 million.
A fitting end, I say. Ah, and to think that robbery, murder and even rape are tolerated, perhaps celebrated, in prison, but pedophelia is a no-no. Those convicts may have no morals, but their sense of justice is inspiring.
Several long-time exeuctives of MCI and WorldCom resigned yesterday after being singled out by Richard Thornburgh, appointed to investigate WorldCom’s mega-collapse, for not ensuring directors paid closer attention when signing off on acquisitions and approving multi-millon dollar loans to former Chief Executive Bernard Ebbers. WorldCom Says General Counsel, Criticized in Report, Resigns [Bloomberg.com].
The funny thing is that the GC, Mike Salsbury, is someone I worked for long ago (15+ years). I won’t comment on his reputation, but resigning in disgrace under the cloud of investigation in the world’s largest corporate scandal is certainly not the way anyone wants to go. (Sure beats “the perp walk” though!!) Bernie lost his ranch and now faces possible indictment. How far will his slime spread? The only way to answer that question is to see how far the culuture he brought to WorldCom infected other high-ranking executives.