Morning Links

Tuesday, May 19th, 2009
  • Obama nominating hardcore Nanny Statist to head up the CDC. The guy enthusiastically backed the trans-fat, smoking bans and calorie count requirements in New York.
  • Canada’s economy getting freer, may soon be freer than the U.S. Might explain something about why they’re handling the recession better than we are.
  • Speaking of Canadians, police in Montreal recently handcuffed and arrested a woman for not holding on to the handrail while riding on an escalator.
  • New biography tries to unlock the mystery of Tom Waits. I never understood why he switched to the gruffer sound after Heat of Saturday Night and Closing Time. Or at least why he never went back.
  • Dr. Roger Weiner, a Mississippi cardiologist who has been an outspoken critic of Dr. Steven Hayne, is under federal indictment for violations of the Mann Act. Federal agents were posing as prostitutes in Tennessee when Weiner allegedly invited them to Mississippi to engage in sex in exchange for money. None of the women Weiner propositioned appear to have been minors. So instead of investigating Hayne’s 20 years of corrupting Mississippi’s criminal justice system, the feds down there have been spending taxpayer resources investigating and charging one of his critics for paying consenting adult women to provide him with some companionship. Nice to know where the feds’ priorities are.
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  • 33 Responses to “Morning Links”

    1. #1 |  Tom G | 

      Hopefully this new biography will shed light on one of my 2 favorite songwriters. I’ve passed on reading the Warren Zevon bio (by his widow) since by all accounts it’s not much of an even-handed portrait.

    2. #2 |  JS | 

      Wow. First tempting a guy to sex then arresting and indicting him for it is more important then all those years of a corrupt justice system! Government really is getting that us versus them mentality isn’t it?

    3. #3 |  Judi | 

      “So instead of investigating Hayne’s 20 years of corrupting Mississippi’s criminal justice system, the feds down there have been spending taxpayer resources investigating and charging one of his critics for paying consenting adult women to provide him with some companionship. Nice to know where the feds’ priorities are.”…

      You just answered my long awaited question.

    4. #4 |  J sub D | 

      So instead of investigating Hayne’s 20 years of corrupting Mississippi’s criminal justice system, the feds down there have been spending taxpayer resources investigating and charging one of his critics for paying consenting adult women to provide him with some companionship. Nice to know where the feds’ priorities are.

      *Sigh* At least we can all be grateful that they protected us from the evil that is Tommy Chong. *another sigh*

    5. #5 |  Bill | 

      Regarding the Mann act story–ridiculous! When you read the story, and the affidavit of complaint, you can’t help but realize how much time these “public servants” spent on this, and that it serves no purpose. There’s absolutely no victim in this “crime”, no harm done to the consenting parties, and no excuse for law enforcement to be involved. Ah, the glamourous, exciting lives of federal agents–hunched over computers typing “do u want to f***? how many $” all day.

      Remember, they’re putting their lives on the line for us every day.

    6. #6 |  Bill | 

      But I do object to Radley’s characterization of the agents as “posing as prostitutes”. They were screwing this guy for money. How is that “posing”?

    7. #7 |  Kyle Jordan | 

      Good ol’ Radley! Always bringing the news that is most depressing.

    8. #8 |  Michael Chaney | 

      Just in:

      http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/us/2009/05/18/nr.teen.police.beating.tape.cnn

      Police beat a kid unconscious in Toledo, then arrest him for….

      resisting arrest.

      It really looks like we need to make it illegal to arrest someone for resisting arrest. I’m serious when I say this. Keep in mind that without legal authority and legal cause, “arrest” is just “kidnapping”. In this case, it includes a healthy dose of assault.

      Probably the saddest thing about this is that the perps are, themselves, black. I probably don’t have to mention that the victim is, too, right?

    9. #9 |  Tyler | 

      •Canada’s economy getting freer, may soon be freer than the U.S. Might explain something about why they’re handling the recession better than we are.

      Everything that I’ve read suggests that a big edge in Canada has been a better regulated banking system. Not sure that that supports the thesis.

    10. #10 |  Mojotron | 

      “Tom, I don’t disagree that tobacco is a real scourge, but have you heard of 9/11?” Dr. Sommer said he countered.

      Was this exchange meant to prove something other than Dr. Sommer is an ass? “9/11, have you heard of it!?” as a response to to NY Health chief’s answer implies that Dr. Sommer was focused on the fear-inducing, Patriot Act-embracing version of the nanny state. Not that it’s an either/or scenario, but I’ll take the $6 pack of smokes and slightly less greasy fast food over whatever he was likely proposing.

      (preemptive “NANNY STATE slippery slope first they came for the fatties and smokers and I said nothing” line)

    11. #11 |  Lior | 

      Tyler: the difference is not that Canadian banks are more regulated, but that they are more conservative in their lending strategy. US banks were mostly also free to do the same (except that national banks were somewhat vulnerable to political pressure, especially via the CRA). Instead, US banks preferred to speculate in real estate by freely giving loans. As long as the market was going up, the US banks were generating much better profits than the Canadian ones. Unfortunately, they didn’t properly consider the risk they were taking.

    12. #12 |  pam | 

      It’s Mississippi, the Bible belt. Hayne was doing God’s work, don’t cha know? This guy was trying to have sex. Jaysus!

    13. #13 |  Cynical in CA | 

      “So instead of investigating Hayne’s 20 years of corrupting Mississippi’s criminal justice system, the feds down there have been spending taxpayer resources investigating and charging one of his critics for paying consenting adult women to provide him with some companionship. Nice to know where the feds’ priorities are.”

      Weiner can commiserate with Eliot Spitzer. Funny how those who get close to the truth are taken down by the State.

      Don Corleone and Tony Soprano knew how to use their targets’ weaknesses against them to their own maximum advantage. The Godfather and The Sopranos are the best instruction on State tactics and strategy.

    14. #14 |  Brandon Bowers | 

      “The guy enthusiastically backed the trans-fat, smoking bans and calorie count requirements in New York.”

      Sounds like the perfect guy to usher in government health care.

    15. #15 |  SJE | 

      I wonder if a ban on smoking in govt buildings will extend to the white house….and Obama’s regular habit.

    16. #16 |  Dave Krueger | 

      I fully expect that I will hate most of what Obama does, but he sounds so much more intelligent than Bush, that I can’t help but feel that we’ve finally emerged from a long embarrassing nightmare. I hear people compare Obama with Kennedy, but in terms of his ability for spontaneous communication, I think he comes across much better than Kennedy ever did. If only he had libertarian leanings….

    17. #17 |  Michael Chaney | 

      Eliot Spitzer was “close to the truth”? No, he was a scumbag who was prosecuting some prostitution rings while patronizing their competition.

    18. #18 |  aberrant | 

      I started listening to Waits at Swordfishtrombones. Had no idea about the early stuff till I saw him in concert sometime in the 80’s, then was blown away even more. I have, and love all of his albums, and can’t wait to read this book and find out what an asshole he is.

    19. #19 |  bobzbob | 

      Why do “news” sources continually repeat the myth that the US corporate “tax rate” is 39%??? That is the maximum marginal rate for corporations, but for a variety of reasons no corporation ever pays that rate. The average effective corporate tax rate in the us is about 14% – i’ll bet that is much lower than canada’s!

    20. #20 |  fwb | 

      Obama nominating hardcore Nanny Statist to head up the CDC. The guy enthusiastically backed the trans-fat, smoking bans and calorie count requirements in New York.

      Whadya spect? Elect a socialist, get a tyranny. Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it.

      Elitists are elitists and the democrats have the corner on that market (along with corruption). Dem folks knows better’n us folks so dey gotta hep us lib our libes.

      Tiochfaidh ar la!

    21. #21 |  Bobo | 

      We need an escalator czar, now!

      In fact, we need a czar czar as well.

    22. #22 |  Frank | 

      When a government wishes to silence a critic, child molestation, child pornography, and prostitution stings are the classical way to do it. Any or all are guaranteed to make people abandon both the person and the cause.

      Terry Nation pointed this out decades ago in the first season of his BBC SF show “Blake’s 7″.

    23. #23 |  seeker6079 | 

      Lior, Tyler. It is the integration of the two concepts: the conservative lending style partly a product of regulation, and the regulation is partly a product of a more conservative business and governmental climate. The “let’s test the envelope with all the safety switches off ha HAAA!” mania of the Bush years doesn’t play well here except amongst a tiny minority of true believers.

      The better response to the crisis also has its origins in fiscal restraint exercised by the feds and almost all provincial governments starting with the Chretien Liberals in the early 1990s: most governments went from deficits to surpluses and engaged in debt reduction exercises of varying degrees of success. (The real irony was that it followed the pattern of your 1990s: the GOP went bananas on spending from 1981-1993, and it took a supposedly pink president to bring you back into the black [which was promptly pissed away by his GOP replacement]. In Canada the Liberals (who love spending) got the books under control after 8 years of Tory government failed to make a dent.)

    24. #24 |  seeker6079 | 

      Michael Chaney:
      Spitzer was a sexual and prosecutorial hypocrite, granted. But the most interesting question went largely unanswered: Why was the FBI investigating Spitzer in the first place?

      The FBI says that they were investigating suspected corruption and just happened (shocked! shocked they were!) upon the prostitution evidence. Why were they investigating Spitzer? He and his family are rich as hell, he has a reputation for being a business and commercial law straight-arrow; he therefore seems a rather odd target for somebody looking for financial malfeasance.

      Thing to remember number 1: since the tenure of Louis Freeh the Feebs have been within an inch or two of being a wholly owned subsidiary of the Republican Party.
      This started during the Clinton administration when it ran a bit wild from DOJ and AG oversight, overtly aligning itself with House Republicans and their agenda in order to protect its budget.

      Thing to remember number 2: Spitzer has been one of the most aggressive enemies of the kind of top-floor white collar corruption that has been the staple of the Bush administration.
      Don’t forget that the Bushies simply don’t believe that any theft done by a corporation or corporate executive is even a crime. That’s not exaggeration, that’s simply a fact. Spitzer’s tenure as AG is neatly summarized by the Toronto Star’s David Olive:

      [quote starts]
      What gained Spitzer international renown was the painstaking work by his New York attorney general’s office in piecing together the memos and emails by which America’s largest brokerage firms were selling stock at the height of the late-1990s dot-com boom that their own analysts regarded as “crap” and “junk.”

      Spitzer extracted a stupendous $1.4 billion (U.S.) settlement from 10 of America’s largest securities firms, including Citigroup Inc. and Merrill Lynch Inc., for their dissemination of this supposed “research” to clients. He then went after dubious sales practices in the mutual fund industry.

      Spitzer exposed unsavoury bookkeeping practices in the insurance trade, forcing the ouster of the CEOs of insurance giants American International Group Inc. and Marsh & McLellan Cos. He waded into the field of excessive executive compensation, forcing Dick Grasso to relinquish a portion of his huge severance package on retiring as CEO of the New York Stock Exchange.

      In identifying many of the leading culprits in the loss by Main Street investors of some $8 trillion (U.S.) when the dot-com, tech and telecom markets imploded, Spitzer acted while the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission dozed. And in doing so, Spitzer helped bring about higher standards of transparency and CEO accountability for the authenticity of corporate financial reporting.
      [end quote]

      The Bush administration was a CEO administration, pure and simple. It had corporate and class interests and loyalties which were right in the crosshairs of any genuine effort to enforce the law. Militarizing police forces in order to pursue the ludicrous “war on (certain classes and colours of people who use) drugs”, raiding medical marijuana facilities and so forth… those, in the eyes of the Bush Administration, were valid uses of federal authority. Going after CEOs was something best avoided.

      Thing to remember number 3: The Bush administration thoroughly politicized the Department of Justice.
      Partisan zealots occupy not only the political slots in the DOJ but have dumped vast numbers of professional career staff and replaced them with even more GOP tools.

      My guess? The thoroughly-Roved federal Department of Justice said, “dig and dig and dig until you find something on Spitzer”. The prostitution stuff was an easy and unexpected win, negating the need for Plan A: Siegelman him.

    25. #25 |  Marty | 

      sorry fwb- I gave you a neg and I agreed with you…

    26. #26 |  seeker6079 | 

      Marty:
      I gave him a pos to balance it.

    27. #27 |  Peter | 

      Bobzbob,

      The article notes the Canadian corporate rate is dropping to 15% maximum. I’m not an expert, but I think there are fewer loopholes to use. Still, that makes the rate comparable to the real US rate.

    28. #28 |  seeker6079 | 

      Don’t forget, too, that the Canadian corp tax rate is higher, but it pays for a lot of things (health care being a HUGE expense) that many American companies have to absorb themselves, in whole or in part.

    29. #29 |  Boyd Durkin | 

      Don’t forget that the Bushies simply don’t believe that any theft done by a corporation or corporate executive is even a crime. That’s not exaggeration, that’s simply a fact.

      That might be a bit of an exaggeration.

    30. #30 |  Cynical in CA | 

      #17 | Michael Chaney | May 19th, 2009 at 11:44 am
      Eliot Spitzer was “close to the truth”? No, he was a scumbag who was prosecuting some prostitution rings while patronizing their competition.

      While I will not dispute your second statement, it has no relevance to him being close to the truth. Spitzer was investigating Wall Street malfeasance and fraud directly responsible for the current economic mess, one of the very few according to the sources I’ve read.

    31. #31 |  Aresen | 

      @ seeker6089 # 23

      It wasn’t that Chretien wanted to cut spending. He just had no choice. Federal debt had reached 80%+ of GDP and the International bankers said “If it goes any higher, we’re going to downgrade your bonds.” So Chretien cut spending. [The USA has an advantage as a debtor due to the US dollar being a reserve currency.]

      He also broke every significant promise he made. Two that he kept, stopping the privatization of Pearson International Airport and scrapping the deal to buy new helicopters for the military, cost about a billion loonies each in penalties. Pearson International remains the Canadian airport I most hate to use. (Would it have been better if privatized? We’ll never know.) And when they finally did get new choppers, the price had doubled for a less capable machine.

      Finally, though I hate to defend the despicable Brian Mulroney, I have to point out that almost all of the growth in the public debt in his reign was due to interest compounding on the debt run up by Pierre Idiot Trudeau.

    32. #32 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 

      The problem with the CDC is that its core mission isn’t exciting unless they’re doing something wrong, or the excrement has really hit the oscillating blade. At least that’s how I’ve always understood it; that the CDC was created to deal with epidemics or potential epidemics. But unless there’s a horrible outbreak, it doesn’t look like the CDC is doing anything, which is a recipe for budget cuts (and then screaming outrage when there’s an outbreak and the CDC is too underfunded to do anything useful). So the head of the agency has a built in incentive to meddle in what should be none of his business – provided it will get the agency noticed.

      It seems to me that the agency has – or once had – a legitimate mission. But the way the government does business mitigates against the agency doing its job and shutting up about it.

    33. #33 |  David Chesler | 

      Weiner: Don’t they have prostitutes in Mississippi? I don’t have an issue with prostitution, just stupidity. (If Sugardaddies has crossed the line from fixing men up with mistresses – it’s not clear.) It’s like buying an illegal substance in a quantity just over an ounce, or some legal threshold, or cutting the barrel of a shotgun to just under 16 inches – why bother?
      [Web site question: I submitted this same name/mail from work, but it seems not to have gone through.]

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