Mother of Mercy, is this the end of RICO?
As l’affaire Blago continues to stink up Chicago and the Al Franken Festivus miracle unfolds in the formerly pristine electoral precincts of Minnesota, you’re probably wondering, as I am, what the heck ever happened to RICO? I don’t mean Rico Bandello, the tough mini-me gunsel played by Edward G. Robinson in Little Caesar. I mean the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act that makes it possible for the feds to go after pretty much anybody they want to, and throw the book at them to boot.
Here’s the deal: Once the Justice Department nails you on a “racketeering” charge — gambling, murder, bribery, extortion, counterfeiting, theft, embezzlement, securities fraud, money laundering, even busing a boatload of illegal aliens to turn a buck — buddy, are you ever in trouble: $25,000 and 20 years per beef, plus you lose all your swag. Outfits as disparate as the Hell’s Angels, Mike Milken, and the Gambino crime family have all run afoul of RICO over the years. But that was then and this is now, the waning Age of Bush, where almost no bad deed goes punished.
Here we Gaia-fearing liberals have spent the past eight years shouting some variation of Sic Semper Tyrannis at @#$%BUSH!%$%, depicting him in our peaceful, tolerant iconography as the demon spawn of Alfred E. Neuman and J. Fred Muggs, blood dripping from fang and talon as he trampled on the Constitution. Heck, some random guy — excuse me! I mean a Washington State supreme-court justice named Richard Sanders — actually screamed “Tyrant! You are a tyrant!” at the attorney general (you know the fellow, what’s his name, who followed Jose Jimenez), causing the poor man to collapse. And such is the Tyranny of Bush that Judge Sanders . . . went home to Washington unmolested.
So that’s why, unlike my fellow liberals, I’m not afraid to rise and say — as the final countdown nears — that Bush wasn’t so bad. No matter what provocation we threw at him, including our shoes, he took it lying down. The New York Times laughed in his face when he asked them not to reveal his unconstitutional, tyrannical warrantless wiretapping of your Aunt Sadie’s mah jongg circle and nothing happened to Pinch Sulzberger. The whiny little boxer from Searchlight, Nevada, has treated him like the ugliest girl at the Chicken Ranch and there was no political payback of any kind. Heck, we even hung a non-entity named “Mark Foley” around his neck like a “culture of corruption” piñata, and took our merry whacks at it, and what did Bush do? Nothing. He’s either the biggest chump or the best Christian in the country.
Now we’re in this economic mess and when the fox in charge of the hen house — oops! I mean Secretary of the Treasury Hank Paulson, former CEO of Goldman Sachs — tells Bush he needs gazillions to help out his Wall Street buddies and furthermore isn’t going to tell a soul whom he’s giving the dough to, or why, and Bush says okey-dokey. Then Detroit comes calling and the evil Republicans vote to let the heroic progressives of the UAW starve this Kwanzaa — but good ol’ George steps up and forks it over. The Lions will win a football game before any of the Big Three becomes profitable, but so what? Problem solved — at least until March 31.
And now comes the absolute star at the tippy-top of the Holiday Bush, a magician named Bernie Madoff, the former chairman of the NASDAQ, who just vaporized $50 billion of Steven Spielberg and Jeff Katzenberg’s money and what does he get? House arrest on Park Avenue! That Bush is some tyrant. I realize the entire prosecutorial apparatus of the federal government now consists solely of Patrick Fitzgerald and the guy who gets him coffee, but this is ridiculous. Thus far, Paddy Fitz’s greatest claim to fame is putting Marc Rich’s lawyer behind bars, but Bush has already commuted Scooter Libby’s sentence, so all’s well that ends well.
Still, whatever happened to the FBI? To “Brick Davis,” the Cagney character who was a washout as a lawyer but a veritable Hoover hellion in G-Men? To the cops who finally ran down Rico at the end of Little Caesar, giving him an acute case of lead poisoning as he cowered behind a showbiz poster? Rent a copy of The Public Enemy or The Roaring Twenties or the original Scarface and see for yourself: in the old days, the roundsmen used to shoot first and ask questions later. While I personally would not want to surrender a single precious human right since the Miranda warning was discovered lurking in one of the penumbrical emanations of our now-trampled Constitution, it does make you sort of wonder where that America went.
Not to worry, though: things will be different under my guy, Barack Hussein Obama II. For the Kwisatz Haderach was born amid the muck and mire of Chicago politics and yet, mirablile dictu, none of it has stuck to him. Let Blagojevich and the Rezko and now some character named Raghuveer Nayak — is it just me, or do Democrat “scandals” always involve a lot of totally innocent people railroaded because of their funny-sounding foreign names? — keep on popping out of the woodwork. Obama will personally assure us that, however many in-house investigations may be needed, they will always reveal . . . nothing.
Not so in the case of genuine malfeasants, and you know who you are. After the lawlessness of the %$*BUSH^%$#! years, there’s a new sheriff in town and his name is Bambi. No more Mr. Nice Guy. Consider yourself warned.
– David Kahane is not a regular writer on Law and Order but he would like to be. You can read him the riot act at [email protected].