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Jesse Jackson, Jr., Fraudster

Thursday, February 21st, 2013

Guilty. That’s what Jesse Jackson, Jr., former congressman, pleaded in court yesterday.

Fraud. That’s the name of his crime, though it was a particular kind of fraud, the taking of campaign contributions for personal use.

Partnered. The Rev. Jesse Jackson’s famous son was not alone, nor did he merely “fall into” crime out of lax record-keeping. His wife was also involved in the pattern of embezzlement and tax fraud, and the level of their misappropriations was not trifling.

Sandra Jackson admitted to not reporting $600,000 of income, and the couple confessed to using re-election campaign funds to

  • buy a gold-plated Rolex for more than $40,000;
  • purchase $5,000 worth of fur capes and parkas;
  • over $9,000 worth of children’s furniture.

This is corruption, the most obvious kind to which a democratic republic is susceptible.

It is only made more frequent and more expensive in our modern times by the enormous power a congressman can hold over Washington’s tossing about of billions and trillions of dollars.

Who even notices the millions?

Jesse Jackson, Jr., isn’t alone in wanting a piece of the Washington action. Nor is he alone in thinking about himself first, and . . . well, not having time to think about anything second.

I’ve even seen this happen to minor-party candidates. It’s too easy to see a political campaign as about the candidate and not the principles — about personal advancement, not representation.

We’ll never have perfect people in public office, but we can do a whole lot better. And it’s good to see the guilty caught and prosecuted.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

Ponzi in California

Monday, August 30th, 2010

Keeping loans and investments distinct is important not merely for business people, but for governments.

Case in point? Mahmoud “Mike” Karkehabadi’s 89 felony counts of securities fraud and grand theft. The Laguna Niguel, California, movie maker is accused of turning his business into a Ponzi scheme.

When his film Hotel California flopped, bringing in just over half a million dollars, Mr. Karkehabadi convinced his investors to roll over their loans to him into future movie projects. When he did this, it is alleged, he fuzzed up the distinctions between different deals, and entered dark territory. Fraud.

According to California Attorney General Jerry Brown, Karkehabadi “ran a cold and calculated scam, making promises he never intended to keep and using the funds of new victims to pay off the earlier ones.”

I don’t know which this sounds like more, something out of Get Shorty or the Social Security Act of 1935.

It’s interesting that, at the same time it prosecutes Karkehabadi, the state of California is hastily and drastically re-arranging its finances. Politicians are forced to do so because they have promised the state’s retiring employees returns on investments never made in amounts state government could never, realistically, afford to come through on.

The whole story of the accused Mr. Karkehabadi looks bad. Criminal. But then, so does the whole story of how politicians in California (and elsewhere) behave.

Fraud isn’t as uncommon as it should be.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

Global Warming Conspiracy?

Monday, November 30th, 2009

In politics, we’re used to being lied to. But in science?

Revelations coming out of the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit spark such questions, and more.

Hackers have released onto the Internet confidential emails of the CRU climatologists largely responsible for the “global warming” conclusions in the famous report by the International Panel on Climate Change, known as the IPCC.

The emails include ugly stuff, like researchers’ fantasies about beating up catastrophe skeptics. They also include the tricks catastrophists used to cook up their numbers.

In particular, scientists reported temperatures in the Medieval Warming Period as cooler than they were, and more recent cooling trends as warmer. Anthropogenic global warming catastrophists have engaged in a massive public fraud.

Now, you might not bat an eye were you to learn that economists associated with, say, our recent bailouts, had been fudging numbers. Trillions of dollars to spend!

But when climate scientists get caught lying — as well as conspiring to keep their basic data secret, and hijacking the peer review process — it’s hard not to feel a bit abused. Natural scientists are supposed to be above this.

Public, open criticism is the hallmark of science. Climate researchers who stonewalled to keep their actual data hidden from critics were scuttling science.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

The Wizard of Fraudz

Thursday, January 8th, 2009

Every time the economy takes a nose-dive, we roust up a few frauds and a bevy of humbugs.

This outing’s big villain is financier Bernard Madoff. For decades, Madoff made off with billions of other people’s money by pretending to invest it honestly.

Instead, he paid off early “investors” with the “investments” of later “investors.” To keep the Ponzi scheme going, Madoff had to keep widening the circle of the victims — which meant that he and his boosters had to keep whispering sweet cryptic nothings to awestruck big-pocketed individuals eager to join an exclusive club.

Some prospects declined. They now say they could get no real information about how he was investing. What? Oracular pronouncements weren’t enough for these skeptics?

Another Delphic entity that pretends to “invest” our money is the federal government. Its masterminds, too, claim to know everything about doing financial magic — but explain nothing. The Federal Reserve, for example, is refusing to comply with media requests for info on the “emergency loans” now being handed to ailing companies.

America’s government officials “know,” somehow, that they can “invest” in decrepit, floundering, washed-up firms and industries, using money siphoned from actually productive enterprise, while always paying off old government debt with new government debt, adding up to trillions . . . and somehow everything will turn out all right.

Pay no attention to those men behind the curtain!

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

Pennsylvania Ballot Non-Access

Tuesday, August 26th, 2008

Which major party works behind the scenes, illegally, to scuttle democratic processes? Well, consider Pennsylvania.

Ralph Nader has an $81,000 judgment against him, to pay off the legal costs of those who challenged his campaign in 2004. In early August, Nader petitioned the state Commonwealth Court to overturn that judgment, saying the whole thing was orchestrated — illegally — by Democratic legislators and aides in the State House. Conspiracy, he says.

He may have a case. In July, the state attorney general’s office filed criminal charges against a dozen people connected with the House Democratic caucus. Soon we’ll see how good the evidence for conspiracy is.

But don’t think it’s just Democrats who’d do nearly anything to keep a competitor off the ballot. This year, the chair of the Cumberland County Republican Party, an attorney, is suing the Libertarian Party for putting up former congressman Bob Barr as its presidential nominee. You see, when Pennsylvanians signed the petition, another name was on it. A paper candidate.

The plaintiff calls this fraud. Of all things.

Of course, since this minor party hadn’t held its national convention yet, the placeholder candidate was just a pro forma thing, to comply with an idiotic ballot access law that should be ruled unconstitutional anyway.

Yes, folks, the people who run both major parties look at election laws pretty much like the Borgias looked at pharmacology: Something to use to bump off the opposition.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

Another OK Court Decision?

Wednesday, June 4th, 2008

Here’s another interesting court decision in Oklahoma. Oh, this time it’s not a petition with hundreds of thousands of voter signatures being tossed out. And no, it’s not quite as crazy as that ruling allowing a man to photograph up the skirts of girls at the mall.

This time Oklahoma’s highest court has ruled that former State Senator Gene Stipe is entitled to an $84,000 a year state pension.

Gene Stipe was a state legislator for 54 years, the longest in history. But in 2003, facing removal due to term limits and a federal indictment, Stipe resigned. He was then convicted on federal campaign violations and perjury.

Stipe also faces new charges of conspiracy, mail fraud, witness-tampering and illegal monetary transactions. Talk about an experienced legislator.

Oklahoma’s retirement system board ruled that Stipe’s crimes violated his oath of office. A 1981 law requires in such case the pension benefits are forfeit. But the Oklahoma Supreme Court decided otherwise, giving Stipe his full pension. The lone dissenter, Chief Justice Winchester, wrote “I would assert that tampering with an election goes to the very heart” of the oath of office.

Some wonder why Attorney General Drew Edmondson hasn’t investigated Stipe on state charges. But Stipe is a large contributor to Edmondson. When the AG was asked why he hadn’t returned Stipe’s money, Edmondson explained there was no conflict, since, after all, he wasn’t investigating Stipe.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

Opposed to Answers

Monday, April 28th, 2008

A Daily Oklahoman editorial laments the killing of a bill that would have created a task force to study the state’s initiative process, writing, “The initiative petition process in Oklahoma is in need of a fix.”

That’s why Representative Randy Terrill sponsored the bill. Which passed the House 86 yays to only 11 nays. But in the Senate, evenly divided between the parties, the Democrats stopped it.

As Norma Sapp, head of Oklahomans for Initiative Rights said, “This bill would simply allow legislators to find out the facts . . . and to discuss possible solutions. How can anyone be against having more information?”

Does seem a bit odd, no?

The editorial suggested, “That the bill got shelved is evidence the status quo on this issue suits some policy-makers just fine.”

Turns out, as a Democratic senator admitted, it was Attorney General Drew Edmondson who furiously lobbied behind-the-scenes against the task force.

Yes, this is the same Drew Edmondson who is persecuting the Oklahoma Three – that is, Yours Truly and two colleagues – seeking to imprison us for ten years for working on a petition drive. There’s more on our case at

Edmondson also refuses to investigate instances of real petition fraud that have been brought to his office. Why? Well, it could be that the facts would hurt his case in a court challenge against Oklahoma’s petition law.

If you oppose answers, you don’t want any questions.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.