Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

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).

FAQ 2.

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

“Who’s Packing What: The Weapons in the Leland Yee Scandal”

Or, as we’ve taken to calling him, indicted California Democratic State Senator Leland “Uncle” Yee.

By way of Mike the Musicologist, who observes that indicted California Democratic State Senator Leland “Uncle” Yee and his friends have bad taste in weapons.

“Chow described how he like to carry two 9mm and a .45 caliber [pistols],” the affidavit reads. “Chow described that a .22 caliber is an assassin’s gun, but he liked carrying something that had real power and would stop someone if you had to use it on the street.”

Two 9s and a .45? I wonder how loud the clank was as he walked.

Also. (By way of Robb Allen.)

Random notes: April 2, 2014.

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

Flames! Flames!

Whether Gray directed the scheme that has resulted in five of his top aides going to prison, or, as he contends, was ignorant of what was being done in his name, Democratic voters punished the mayor for the scandal, choosing instead a relatively unknown D.C. Council member, Muriel Bowser (Ward 4).

Obit watch: Charles Keating, of S&L scandal fame.

More flames!

…an uncommon sequence of events, including a cabinet appointment, an election and a corruption inquiry, has led Charlotte [NC] to the point where it will soon have its fourth mayor in less than a year.

The most recent mayor, Patrick D. Cannon, was arrested last week on public corruption charges and resigned.

In Ms. McCabe’s 15 years as an ambassador of the deuce, she has been flatly rejected at a bowling alley on Staten Island, was told to pay with something else at a bar in the East Village and is constantly solicited by people who want to buy her bills.

But has Ms. McCabe ever tried to use a $2 bill at a Taco Bell?

I wanted to link to, and comment on, the latest entries into the National Recording Registry, but the LOC didn’t have them up when I was working on this post earlier today. Now that they are up…well, I’m kind of curious about “Only Visiting This Planet” and “Copland Conducts Copland: Appalachian Spring” (I have recordings of “Appalachian Spring” but not that one). I think the original cast recording of “Sweeney Todd” is probably a good choice, and, yes, even though I think it has been overplayed, I can see putting Jeff Buckley’s version of “Hallelujah” on the list.

Also: Shaft!

The only one that I really boggle at is “The First Family”. Not that I have anything against comedy, but is that album really memorable or significant? Especially when compared against some of the other comedy entries? Or is this just folks feeling bad (and perhaps rightly so) for poor Vaughn Meader?

Random notes: March 24, 2014.

Monday, March 24th, 2014

What does the fox say?

“I resign.”

Rhode Island Speaker of the House Gordon D. Fox, enveloped by an apparent criminal investigation, announced Saturday that he has resigned his leadership post.
He fell in a lightning-quick series of events that began Friday with investigators, armed with search warrants in a probe of an undisclosed matter, taking boxes of evidence from his State House office and his East Side home.

The paper of record describes agents “carting out boxes and bags labeled ‘evidence.’” This raises some questions, at least for me: did they write “evidence” on the side with a Sharpie? Or do these boxes and bags come pre-labeled as “evidence”? Can you buy “evidence” boxes and bags from your local law enforcement supply store?

(Isn’t it kind of cartoonish when you think about it? Sort of like Scrooge McDuck carrying around a big bag with a “$” on it, only instead you’ve got a neatly attired IRS agent with a bag that says “Evidence”?)

So much for that. Looks like I owe Lawrence $5. See if I buy one of your damn t-shirts now, Gonzaga.

(Still hopeful for those Cubs, though.)

City That Squandered Baseball Relishes Brief Return

“Squandered Baseball”? Well, I suppose that’s one way of looking at it. Another way of looking at it is that the Expos made unreasonable demands after the 1995 baseball strike and drove fans away.

A double handful of randomness.

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014

The arson puppies of Las Vegas. Yes, I know that sounds like I’m just stringing random words together, but this a real story. Plus: puppies!

Hey, you’ll never guess who is running for a Congressional seat in Louisiana. Edwin Edwards. Yeah, that’s right, Edwin Edwards. You know, the former governor of Louisiana who spent eight years in prison after being convicted of bribery, extortion, and fraud? That Edwin Edwards?

“Iacta alea est,” Mr. Edwards said, after describing how Julius Caesar came to the rescue of the unhappy citizens of Rome. “The die is cast. Today I cross the Rubicon.”

Always nice to see a classical reference in the news.

Lord of the I Told You So Dance.

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

The Saxet gun shows in the Austin area are on again.

Note my careful phrasing there. Saxet did not make a deal with the Travis County commissioners. Instead, the gun show is now in Hays County; specifically, in Dripping Springs.

Travis County has lost over 100 thousand dollars with the shift of Saxet’s contract.

The next show is March 29th and 30th; Saxet does not currently have any shows listed other than that one, so we’ll see how things play out.

(And Dripping Springs is a little less convenient for me than the Travis County Expo center. But I used to drive out to Dripping on a regular basis, so it isn’t a deal breaker.)

Flames. Tax-fattened. Hyena. Etc. (#8 in a series)

Saturday, February 8th, 2014

The mayor of New Jersey’s struggling capital city was convicted of bribery, fraud and extortion on Friday, joining a long list of the state’s mayors to have been found guilty of corruption in recent years.

Tony Mack and his brother “had participated in a scheme to take money in exchange for helping get approvals to develop a downtown parking garage. The deal was fictitious and part of a government investigation.”

Mayor Mack was convicted of both wire and mail fraud (a two-fer!) plus accepting bribes, “attempted extortion”, and “official extortion conspiracy”. His brother was convicted on extortion and bribery counts.

Since 2000, mayors of the New Jersey communities of Asbury Park, Camden, Hamilton, Hoboken, Newark, Orange, Passaic, Paterson and Perth Amboy, among others, have been convicted or have pleaded guilty in corruption cases.

Two additional points:

1. Mayor Mack’s party affiliation is mentioned in the third paragraph of the article.
2. Mayor Mack was a member of “Mayors Against Illegal Guns”. I won’t link to it, but a quick Google search will turn up a press release on the MAIG site quoting Mayor Mack and stating he is a member.

Quick gun show update.

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

Only have a limited amount of time before lunch is over and I have to return to the helium mines of Ceti Alpha V, but I wanted to get this up before it disappears behind the Statesman paywall:

Travis County commissioners voted unanimously to allow the Saxet Gun Show to continue at the county-run Exposition Center, only if all gun sales undergo a background check.
With Commissioners Ron Davis and Bruce Todd absent from Tuesday’s meeting, the rest of the county commissioners approved the contract, which now goes to Saxet officials to consider.

So three out of five voted? I guess that’s a quorum. (And I just noticed I missed updating the list of commissioners for Bruce Todd. Fixing that now.)

However, Saxet still has to agree to the contract, and the Statesman represents them as consistently stating they will not agree to a contract that requires background checks. Williamson County is looking better and better all the time.

(I’ll have to see if I can find a breakdown of some of the previous votes for y’all.)

Tax-fattened hyena watch.

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

Rep. Rob Andrews (D-N.J.) said Tuesday that he plans to resign from Congress this month to take a job with a Philadelphia-based law firm, a move he said is best for his family.

“a move he said is best for his family”. Is your Spidey-sense tingling yet?

A report released in 2012 detailed how in May 2011 Andrews initially used personal funds to pay roughly $16,500 for four business-class airplane tickets for himself, his wife and two daughters to attend a wedding in Scotland. Andrews later had the money refunded and paid for the tickets with funds from his leadership PAC and has generally denied any wrongdoing. The Office of Congressional Ethics report, which was released by the House Ethics Committee, said that Andrews “refused to provide requested documents” to investigators related to his travels and provided credit card statements only “after making significant redactions.”

Andrews also allegedly used “a graduation party for his daughter to raise campaign cash.” Both of these things are violations of Federal law, in addition to House ethics rules.

By way of Grits for Breakfast, here’s a mildly interesting story: Aaron Rosenberg is suing his former employer and claims to be cooperating in “an ongoing federal investigation” of same.

So? Mr. Rosenberg’s former employer is Redflex Traffic Systems, one of the companies behind red light cameras.

Aaron Rosenberg, who was the company’s top national salesman, said in a civil defamation claim against Redflex that he was made a “scapegoat” to cover up a long-standing practice of “providing government officials with lavish gifts and bribes” after the Tribune began asking questions about the Chicago contract.
Redflex fired Rosenberg and sued him for damages in Arizona court in February, largely blaming him for the company’s wrongdoing in Chicago. In a counterclaim filed in October, Rosenberg disclosed that he provided information to local and federal investigators as well as to the outside attorney who conducted a damaging private investigation of the company.

And more:

Rosenberg said that during his tenure Redflex “bestowed gifts and bribes on company officials in dozens of municipalities within, but not limited to the following states: California, Washington, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Colorado, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Florida, New Jersey, Tennessee, Virginia and Georgia.”

Texas, eh? Would you like to guess some of the cities in Texas that have Redflex contracts? You don’t have to: Grits lists a few of them at his site. And yes, Austin is one of them.

Random notes: January 22, 2014.

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

You’re going down in flames, you tax-fattened hyena!

He is the walrus, goo goo a joub.

Is Gary Kasparov trying to buy the presidency of the World Chess Federation?

Two months earlier, Kasparov and Leong negotiated a deal in which Leong would help Kasparov’s presidential run in exchange for $500,000, according to a draft contract reviewed by The New York Times. Kasparov also agreed, after his election, to open a new federation office in Singapore, to be run by Leong, for which he would be paid an undisclosed amount.

“Leong” is Ignatius Leong, who lives in Singapore and is the current general secretary of the federation. He serves under the current president, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, who is also running for re-election to the federation presidency. Kasparov’s spokespeople say that draft contract has been superseded. But if Kasparov is trying to buy the office, would that be a bad thing? In the last election

…Ilyumzhinov, who has been president of the federation since 1995, defeated Karpov, 95 to 55. Much of Ilyumzhinov’s support came from Asia and Africa, and many votes were cast by proxies.

(“Karpov” is Anatoly Karpov. You know, the former world champion and the Karpov who played Kasparov.)

And this is interesting:

Ilyumzhinov was, by any measure, a strange choice. He was a businessman who was born in Kalmykia, an impoverished Russian republic on the Caspian Sea, and amassed a fortune after the fall of the Soviet Union, though exactly how and how much are something of a mystery. He was largely unknown within the chess world, though he had been elected president of Kalmykia in 1993, at age 31. He stepped down from that presidency in 2010.

So he’s an ex-politician who went into chess?

Ilyumzhinov is well known for his eccentricities. He has said that he believes the game was invented by extraterrestrials, and he claims to have been abducted by aliens in yellow spacesuits on the night of Sept. 17, 1997. He built Chess City, a huge glass dome surrounded by a housing development, in Kalmykia’s obscure and inaccessible capital, Elista, and had the federation hold championship tournaments there.

Ilyumzhinov was also tight buddies with the late unlamented Muammar Qaddafi.

You’re going down in flames, you tax-fattened hyena! Part deux.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas acknowledged Tuesday that a taxpayer-funded project to install a security system in a converted garage at his home involved improvements “over and above” that job, but said he reimbursed the county for the upgrades.
The Times had disclosed that county-paid crews worked at the supervisor’s Leimert Park home for a week and replaced the garage’s interior walls, installed electrical wiring and equipment, and put in appliances, including a wall-mounted air conditioner and heater and a television.

How the Statesman got scooped on the Wendy Davis story. (No paywall.)

Second verse, same as the first!

Wednesday, January 8th, 2014

My mother sent the kids an email this morning:

No more gun shows, big Velvetta shortage. Makes me want to get a gun and the big box of Velvetta.

And I said, “Whaaaaaaaaaat?” I wasn’t aware there was a gun show issue. As a matter of fact, I’d checked the Saxet Shows schedule just the other night (while dining with Lawrence) and they have shows scheduled through December 2014. So I figured we were done with the bolshie bushwa. Right?


Travis County leaders voted Tuesday not to extend a lease allowing Saxet Gun Shows to hold the event at the county-owned Exposition Center in Austin.

Here’s a report from yesterday. Basically, the county commissioners couldn’t agree on what to do:

After concerns with citizens last year, the county added a provision in the contract that Saxet require it’s private gun vendors to conduct background checks for shows at the Travis County Expo Center. Judge Sam Biscoe proposed the county halt attempts to negotiate with Saxet until they agree to the background check provision of the contract. That proposal failed. Precinct Three Commissioner Gerald Daugherty then proposed to continue the original contract without the background check provision, which also failed.

Oh, look. By way of KLBJ, here’s a non-paywalled Statesman link.

“If you use a public facility to sell guns, we really oughta have background checks done. Or don’t use the facility,” County Judge Sam Biscoe, the chairman of the commissioners, told reporters after the meeting.

And since licensed dealers at gun shows are already required to do background checks, that will accomplish…nothing. Except drive Saxet out of Austin and into someplace like Round Rock or Cedar Park, and reduce Expo Center revenue. Private sales between individuals are still going to take place, gun show or no show.

Perhaps some of my readers might wish to give Judge Biscoe and the other members of the Commissioner’s Court who aren’t Gerald Daugherty a call. I’d recommend being polite and professional. Judge Biscoe has nothing to lose, since he’s retiring this year. So perhaps you should also make a note on your calender for election time…

Eric Frank Russell, call your office, please.

Monday, December 16th, 2013

Colorado’s package of gun laws, enacted this year after mass shootings in Aurora, Colo., and Newtown, Conn., has been hailed as a victory by advocates of gun control. But if Sheriff Cooke and a majority of the other county sheriffs in Colorado offer any indication, the new laws — which mandate background checks for private gun transfers and outlaw magazines over 15 rounds — may prove nearly irrelevant across much of the state’s rural regions.
Some sheriffs, like Sheriff Cooke, are refusing to enforce the laws, saying that they are too vague and violate Second Amendment rights. Many more say that enforcement will be “a very low priority,” as several sheriffs put it. All but seven of the 62 elected sheriffs in Colorado signed on in May to a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the statutes.

Freedom – I Won’t!