Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

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).

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.)