The Phantom Foursome: Obama, Rezko, Biden & Cari

"I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me."  Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727)
While the bloodhound reporters of the old big media busy themselves examining the circumstances surrounding the birth of a Down syndrome baby, hoping to make a career by digging up dirt on his mother, we're getting only bits and pieces of a much bigger story involving the Phantom Foursome.

American Thinker writer Rosslyn Smith noted that "Biden and Obama have friends in common in the Daley Machine."  She cited the links between Joe Biden and Joseph Cari, Jr., and between Cari and Antoin "Tony" Rezko.  We already know about Rezko's real estate association with Barack Obama, which Obama characterized as "a bone-headed mistake."   

Meanwhile, Mayor Richard M. Daley says there's no "Daley Machine." My home town's humor about the nature of reality there goes back at least to Al Capone who printed his occupation on his business card as "Secondhand Furniture Dealer." Daley's brother and former Secretary of Commerce for Clinton, Bill Daley, is contemplating a run for Illinois Governor. But, hey, where's the machine in that? 

If you want to understand just how much of a family business politics is in Chicago, check out this political genealogy offered on a Chicago Tribune website.

Anyway, Illinois leads the nation in sending former chief executives from the Governor's House to the Big House (Kerner, Walker, Ryan).  And in Illinois, and particularly Chicago, the pols play fast-pitch, hardball politics. Just ask all the Chicago dead people who voted in the 1960 Presidential election.

So, we have these links between the Democratic National Ticket and two convicted felons in Chicago (Joe Cari pled out in September 2007).

The Chicago Sun Times links Biden and Cari this way:

"When the Delaware senator began contemplating his own 2008 presidential run, he initially was helped by Chicago lawyer Joseph Cari, Jr., who also served as Biden's Midwest field director in his failed 1988 bid for president.

"In 2005, Cari admitted to taking part in an $850,000 kickback scheme that prosecutors say was part of a larger political fund-raising operation for Gov. Blagojevich overseen by Rezko, and was convicted in June of wide-ranging corruption involving state deals."

You can read Cari's plea agreement here. He awaits sentencing. Patrick J. Fitzgerald, of Scooter Libby fame, was the tough prosecutor. In case you want to wade through it, here's the indictment against Cari, Stuart Levine and Steven Loren. 

Now it's hard to get a grip on what this was all about. It's a complex prosecution of a complex scheme. But we can get a glimpse of what happened by reading this excerpt from the February 2005 Superseding Indictment against Stuart Levine and Antoin "Tony" Rezko.

"The Scheme To Defraud:  2. Beginning no later than in and about the spring of 2003 and continuing through at least in or about July 2004, in the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, and elsewhere, STUART LEVINE and ANTOIN REZKO, also known as "Tony Rezko," defendants herein, together with Joseph Cari, Steven Loren, Jacob Kiferbaum, Individual A, and others known and unknown to the Grand Jury, devised and intended to devise, and participated in, a scheme and artifice to defraud the beneficiaries of TRS [The Teachers' Retirement System of the State of Illinois] and the people of the State of Illinois, of money, property, and the intangible right to LEVINE's honest services, by means of materially false and fraudulent pretenses, representations, and promises, and material omissions, and in furtherance thereof used the United States mails and other interstate carriers, and interstate and foreign wires, which scheme is further described below.

"Overview of the Scheme: 3. It was part of the scheme that defendants REZKO and LEVINE, with the assistance of Cari, Loren, Kiferbaum, Individual A, Individual B, and others, fraudulently used and sought to use the position and influence of LEVINE and other members of the TRS Board of Trustees and the Planning Board to obtain financial benefits for REZKO, LEVINE, and their nominees and associates. In the course of the scheme, REZKO and LEVINE solicited and demanded millions of dollars in undisclosed kickbacks and payments, and received and directed hundreds of thousands of dollars in actual undisclosed kickbacks and payments, for the benefit of REZKO, LEVINE, and their nominees and associates, from investment firms seeking to do business with TRS, and from Kiferbaum."

(pages 8-9 of 65 total pages)

So they schemed to scam money belonging to school teachers. Honorable guys.

At the time of Cari's indictment, Joe Biden said,

"All I know is Joe Cari is a friend, and he's an honorable guy, but I don't know anything beyond that."

Cari, though, is probably no longer a friend of Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich who may be the next ex-Illinois state CEO to visit the Big House. According to the Chicago Tribune (April 16, 2008),

"A veteran Democratic fundraiser (Cari) testified Tuesday that Gov. Rod Blagojevich once offered to give him his pick of contracts and state business in exchange for help building a nationwide political money machine as a prelude to a presidential run.

"The governor said ‘that there were contracts, legal work, investment banking work and consulting work to be awarded to people who helped,' Joseph Cari recalled as he took the stand in the federal corruption trial of Blagojevich insider Antoin "Tony" Rezko.

"The allegations by Cari, once a finance chairman for the Democratic National Committee, were the most explicit accusations of pay-to-play politics leveled against Blagojevich at a trial where he is not even the defendant."

Not a good day for the Illinois governor.  Hey, where's Nancy Pelosi and the "Culture of Corruption?"

The associations and complexities of this Chicago Rubik's Cube should have reporters across the nation salivating to explore possible connections between the dots by challenging Biden's and Obama's use of The Sergeant Hans Schultz of Hogan's Heroes Defense - "I know nothing."

Instead, they're focusing on a Down syndrome baby boy and his mother. What do we make of that?

I don't how they appear to the world, but to me they seem like little boys and girls playing on the sea-shore, diverting themselves in imagining they'll find something about Trig Palin and his mom that'll win them a Pulitzer, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before them. [Hat tip: Isaac Newton]

Postscript: On December 3, 2007, Joseph Cari's Lincoln Park home was highlighted as real estate "Sale of the Week" in Chicago  It sold for 3 million dollar, $450K below asking. What a deal.