Positively Forthright

Hooda thunkit?  Little Bobby Zimmerman as Nobel Lit Laureate?  Musta been some fine Owlsley blotter floating in Stockholm’s water supply.

I didn’t even bother to try predicting this year’s winner, much less spend any time rooting for the oddsmakers’ nominal favorite Haruki Murakami.  It has been abundantly clear this year that my few predictive “endorsements” have been far wide of the mark.  Donald Trump is still running for president of the United States.  Danilo Turk is headed home to Slovenia, and is not the world’s choice for Secretary-General of the United Nations.  Instead, Antonio Guterres will be dealing with even-greater numbers of refugees for years to come.  Would this be a good time to say that the Chicago Cubs look unbeatable this year?  Probably not.

So instead of prediction, I’m going to indulge in what might be termed prognostication’s little sister: fervent hope.  For once, readers of Waking the Dragon will find me rooting in favor of a possible FBI sting operation.  Here are the dots I may be straining credulity to connect:

  • September 22 2016: Millionaire real estate developers in Northern New Jersey formally ended their support for a November ballot initiative asking voters to approve casino gambling in the Meadowlands and Jersey City.  Polling data purportedly showed widespread public opposition to expansion of New Jersey’s gambling industry.

Jeff Gural, who owns the Meadowlands Racetrack in East Rutherford, and Paul Fireman, who is the chairman of Fireman Capital Partners and developer of Jersey City’s Liberty National Golf Course  —two locations where the proposed casinos might be built—  cited a Rutgers-Eagleton poll that showed 58 percent of voters disapprove of the referendum, while 35 percent approve.”

  • September 28 2016: Steve Fulop, mayor of Bergen-by-the-Bay (Jersey City) announced that he would not run for governor in 2017 and urged fellow Democrats to unite behind Phil Murphy, a financier and former ambassador to Germany making his first run for office.

“Fulop told reporters outside city hall in Jersey City that he had seen speculation on the Internet that his reasons for not running included the Bridgegate case as well as his health, other legal issues, or his wife. ‘I’ve read on the Internet all sorts of theories, none of which are true,’ he said. ‘Rather, when I look at the [political] landscape today, understanding how the [New Jersey Democratic] party is fractured and my core beliefs on that, I ultimately don’t see any winners in [what would be] a very, very bloody primary,’ he said.”

  • October 7 2016: New Jersey State Senate President Steve Sweeney announced that he too would no longer seek the nomination of the Democratic Party in the 2017 gubernatorial election.  Sweeney (also an Ironworkers Union official) had been a sponsor of the casino referendum initiative, “arguing that the new casinos would initially create thousands of new construction jobs and would also eventually allow New Jersey to recapture some of the gambling revenue that had been lost when new casinos opened in neighboring states like New York and Pennsylvania.”

What and So What

Here’s the way it works: in New Jersey you can run the same script over and over again … and get the same results, because the illusion of impunity is so pervasive.  So, two nice Jewish boys tired of being shaken down by insatiably ravenous New Jersey politicians pay a visit to Rabbi Fishman, who graciously agrees to help.  Jeff, Paul, and Uncle Sam all ante into the pot to create an operating fund for a casino referendum initiative.  Some of the money inevitably must be spent on renting politicians whose influence is required to get the initiative on the statewide ballot.  Negotiations with those politicians must be duly recorded with miniaturized video/audio devices that Abscam operatives of the 1970s would have regarded with alternating envy and incredulity.  A gloating team of AUSAs at Centre Street and the Rodino Courthouse doggedly check off the boxes on their checklist of evidentiary elements to be included in the eventual (massive) indictment.

Timing is everything.  Including the timing of the tiny strategic leak that seeps out of the investigation to let the marks know that they’ve once again been had.  Because now it’s time to recruit cooperating witnesses, and the last one grasping at the gunwale of DOJ’s lifeboat will be left to swim with the fishes.  Gural-Fireman-Fishman: let’s call it Jerusa-scam.

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