Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Obit watch: November 23, 2014.

Sunday, November 23rd, 2014

Marion Barry: WP. WP 2.

NYT for an alternative point of view.

TMQ Watch: November 4, 2014.

Wednesday, November 5th, 2014

Authentic games. Voting. Space: not a frontier, at least for man. All this and more in this week’s TMQ, after the jump…

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Administrative and other notes: November 5, 2014.

Wednesday, November 5th, 2014

Happy Guy Fawkes Day. While you’re out and about, please remember poor Guido, the last man to enter the Houses of Parliament with honorable intentions.

It seems kind of fitting that that the holiday falls today. Beyond that, I don’t have much to say about the elections for reasons of time and inclination. Battleswarm is a good place to go if you’re looking for that.

I will be updating the contact pages on this site, but I’m going to wait until after the runoffs are over, everyone is sworn in, and they actually have pages to link to. If this does get past me for some reason, please yell at me until it gets done.

I’m going to avoid my usual “what China needs” snark here, because this is a little scary: Brittney Griner attacked in China by a man with a knife.

Griner sustained a small cut when she was attacked by a man while boarding a bus after practice Monday in Shenyang. The man, who followed the players onto the bus, also stabbed one of Griner’s teammates. She was wearing two jackets and wasn’t injured because the knife didn’t go through.

How did Peter Siebold (the other Virgin Galactic pilot) survive a bailout from 50,000 feet without a pressure suit? Bonus: quotes from Bob Hoover. The Bill Weaver story is also touched on briefly: a fuller account can be found here.

Things may be slow from Thursday until Monday. We will see.

Obit watch: October 5, 2014.

Sunday, October 5th, 2014

Lawrence clued me in to a couple of obits that might otherwise have escaped me.

Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier. It surprises me a little that he was 63, but I don’t think I knew this:

Mr. Duvalier continued to defend what human rights workers called one of the most oppressive governments in the Western Hemisphere, following in the footsteps of his father, François, known as Papa Doc, who died in 1971. The son was 19 when he assumed the post “president for life,” as he and his father called it, becoming the youngest head of state at the time.

I haven’t seen an obit from an outside source yet, but the official website is reporting the death of Paul Revere, of Paul Revere and the Raiders.

Obit watch: September 29, 2014.

Monday, September 29th, 2014

Don Keefer passed away earlier this month. He was 98 years old.

Mr. Keefer was one of those actors who knocked around a lot; he was in “The Caine Mutiny” and the original Broadway cast of “Death of a Salesman”.

But he was perhaps most famous as Don Hollis, the man who ends up wished into the cornfield by Anthony in the Twilight Zone episode “It’s A Good Life”.

Also: James Traficant.

TMQ Watch: August 12, 2014.

Thursday, August 14th, 2014

And so is TMQ. And so is TMQ Watch. The first column of the NFL season is always kind of strange; there’s a lot of short items, basketball coverage, and other things that throw us for a loop. We’re probably not going to hit every one of TMQ’s throwaway quips. And yes, we’re aware that TMQ did a couple of draft columns; we looked at those and frankly didn’t find anything noteworthy in them. One was his usual silly mock draft, the other was his draft analysis, and both contained the recommended US daily allowance of TMQ tropes.

Anyway, back to this week’s TMQ, after the jump…

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You will know them by the company they keep.

Thursday, August 7th, 2014

Austin mayor Lee Leffingwell (who is also a member of Criminal Mayors Conspiring to Infringe Your Rights) has declared today in Austin “Edwin Edwards Day”.

Yes, that Edwin Edwards, who for some reason came to Austin as part of his campaign for a Louisiana congressional seat. You may also remember him as the former governor of Louisiana who spent eight years in federal prison after being convicted of taking bribes.

What next? I would suggest Albert DeSalvo Day, but the Texas Legislature has been there and done that. Maybe Mayor Leffingwell would go for Lynette Fromme Day.

Noted for the historical record.

Wednesday, June 4th, 2014

Indicted California Democratic State Senator Leland “Uncle” Yee finished third out of a field of eight candidates for the post of California secretary of state, collecting “more than a quarter-million votes“.

As the vote count stood Wednesday morning, Yee finished ahead of ethics watchdog Dan Schnur, a former chairman of the state Fair Political Practices Commission, who framed his campaign around cleaning up Sacramento. Yee also finished ahead of Derek Cressman, a Democrat and former director of the good-government group Common Cause.

Flames, hyena, etc. (#13 in a series).

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

Patrick D. Cannon, the former mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina, has pled guilty to one count of “honest services wire fraud”. (Previously.)

The court filing, known as a bill of information, said that for more than four years, as a City Council member and as mayor, Mr. Cannon solicited and accepted bribes from the owner of an adult club whose business was threatened by the planned extension of Charlotte’s light rail system. In turn, Mr. Cannon spoke with officials involved in zoning, planning and transportation.

Strippers. Always with the strippers.

And this has the potential to be epic for more than one reason:

A New York City Department of Investigation inquiry has implicated Charles J. Hynes, the former Brooklyn district attorney, in the improper use of money seized from drug dealers and other criminal defendants to pay a political consultant more than $200,000 for his work on Mr. Hynes’s unsuccessful re-election campaign last year.

There’s the whole “prosecutor going to jail and being disbarred” thing. There’s the whole circus surrounding any NYC political figure being charged with a crime. And then there’s the whole “misuse of asset forfeiture funds” aspect, about which Radley Balko and others have written so eloquently.

…Mr. Hynes potentially violated the City Charter and conflict of interest board rules; violations of the City Charter can be charged as misdemeanors. Mr. Hynes’s conduct may have also violated the state penal code section on official misconduct. And payments from the office to the consultant, Mortimer Matz, may have violated the larceny provisions in the penal code. Under the code, any larceny of more than $1,000 is a felony.

More stabbing hypocrisy… I mean cutting journalism

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

Great and good friend of the blog RoadRich sent us an email yesterday. I liked it so much, I’m making it the very first guest post here (with RoadRich’s permission).

I saw yet another article on the USC murder spree. And though I’m not prone to rant, it seems this got me in a ranting mood once again. Of course it helps to preach to the choir.

I give the family lots of credit for earlier trying to get someone to take notice of the violent tendencies of their own son… which by itself is monumental… and I credit the family again for rushing to the developing scene (as the news reports indicate). The family of the murderer tried to save lives, weeks before it came to this.

However, the blame that the father of one victim levies on the NRA, and on politicians for not tightening gun laws, aims to hide the elephant in the room, which of course are the first three victims in this killing spree. Long before a person was killed by Elliot Rodger’s gun, two of his roommates plus someone who apparently had been visiting, were felled by Elliot Rodger’s knife.

By itself, the three stabbing victims may well have been called a ‘mass murder’, perhaps. And if the rampage by an overprivileged, self-important madman had stopped there, it would have still shaken Santa Barbara. But because the rampage moved on and changed to the weapon most feared by an uninformed or misinformed public, we are treated to a blind demand for gun laws. This shamefully ignores those who were killed by means other than bullets as somehow less important deaths. What do gun laws protect the stabbing victims from? What would more laws have done to save /anyone/ from someone who is willing to violate the law against murder? Is the loss by the parents of David Wang, James Cheng and George Chen any less important than that felt at the deaths of Veronika Weiss, Katherine Cooper or Christopher Michael-Martinez?

Of course we know what made the madman stop. It was someone who could defend himself, and whose job it was to defend others. It was someone with a gun, who ended a knife killing spree, a gun killing spree, and very nearly a car killing spree.

I feel bad for all the victims’ families. Yes, even the parent of Martinez, who is rightfully outraged. But between you and me, I would hope that someone Farq’s the article with the headline “Parent seeking tighter gun laws ignores stabbing victims” or “Parent doesn’t see stabbing deaths as victims” or something like that.

Books in brief: The Power Broker.

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

This won’t be a review. Reviewing The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York would be superfluous; Robert Caro won the freakin’ Pulitzer Prize for it, for crying out loud.

These are a few random thoughts:

1. The Power Broker deserves all the acclaim it has gotten. Caro’s a great writer, and the story of the rise (and eventual fall) of Robert Moses is a compelling one. I kind of expected it to be slow moving and a little dull; how do you make urban planning interesting? But Caro found a way to do that. I got caught up in the sweep of the book, and found myself wanting to read more about Al Smith and La Guardia and other background characters.
There are a few places where I have reservations about Caro’s conclusions. The largest reservation I have is Caro’s emphasis on mass transit, and Moses’ failures in that regard. I’m not as much of a believer in mass transit as Caro seems to be, but I’m willing to concede Caro might be right. Given the population density (both at the time and projected for the future) mass transit may have been the only workable alternative for NYC’s traffic problems.

2. I haven’t read Caro’s LBJ books. I’m waiting for the series to be completed before I start on them. (I have read excerpts from them in other places.) But I wonder if Caro is drawn to people who were, in some way, corrupted by power. I have the impression that this is a theme in the LBJ books. And as for The Power Broker

3. You know that quote attributed to Dave Barry? “Someone who is nice to you, but rude to the waitress, is not a nice person?” Robert Moses was a walking example of that. He was an elitist who believed that he and people like him – rich, Ivy League educated – were the only ones who were fit to govern, and everyone else should just get out of the way. He was a racist – he didn’t want the “lower classes” (read: blacks and the poor) using his parks, pools and playgrounds. He treated anyone he considered an inferior like dirt. As for the powerful, his main interest in them was how he could use them to enhance his own power. He destroyed vital and interesting neighborhoods for the sake of new roads, even though those neighborhoods could have been saved by small changes in routes (but those changes would have inconvenienced politicians who were important to Moses). And the new roads and bridges he built were full as soon as they were completed, which Moses saw as a reason to build more. Lather, rinse, repeat. We’re too close to Easter for me to say what I’m really thinking, but you can probably guess.

4. This shouldn’t have surprised me as much as it did: there was (is?) a recent Robert Moses revisionist movement. The central thesis seems to be: yes, he was every bit as big a you-know-what as Caro portrayed him. But. He. Got. Things. Done. And “If the ends don’t justify the means, what does?

Quote of the day.

Friday, April 4th, 2014

As the crucial special session neared, the Times began to resemble a Democratic house organ.

–Robert Caro, The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York, page 198 in the paperback edition (Chapter 11, “The Majesty of the Law”, discussing the legal and legislative battles over Moses’ parks plan).