Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Michael Bloomberg’s weird polygraph test. Did he lie when he said he “passed?”

There was lots of whispering back when he was running Bloomberg News that current New York mayor and possible presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg's company was not always a fun place to work.

Loyalty or "death"

There was Bloomberg’s equivalent of a loyalty oath. You never actually had to go through some weird ceremony like cutting your finger and signing in blood that you’d never consider another job. But, unlike other companies that recognized the fluidity of the job market, if you left Blooomberg News, you could never come back. You were dead to them. Officially, permanently dead.

Then there was Michael Bloomberg’s raunchy mouth. It wasn’t considered a “big deal” downtown, on Wall Street, years after New York’s midtown commerce had gotten wise to the aspirations of their women and stopped insulting them with sexual allusions – at least to their faces.

Language most foul

If you want a sense of the kind of foul-mouthed vocabulary the Neanderthal financial community was using in the 1980s – and long, long afterward – I recommend that you read “Liar’s Poker,” a book by Michael Lewis that describes the kind of Bad Boys Club that Salomon Brothers was at the time. Michael Bloomberg is a Salomon Brothers alumnus.

So it wasn’t entirely surprising that not one, not two, but three former women employees have accused the current Mayor and reputedly wannabe third party Presidential candidate of improprieties. The way three different women told it, he stepped over the line. (See all the URLs below)

Did I say “stepped over?” How about the notion that he took a jet-powered flying leap over it?

Kill the baby

The best-known case involved Sekiko Garrison, a top sales executive, who made the mistake of telling Michael Bloomberg her good news. She was pregnant.

Were congratulations in order? Well, you’d think so. But instead…

“Kill it,” Ms. Garrison claimed Michael Bloomberg said.

Huh? What? Ms. Garrison said she was so amazed she asked him to repeat what he said.

“Kill it,” he repeated.

A legal complaint filed by Ms. Garrison said Bloomberg didn’t stop there. He added, one assumes angrily, “That's great! Number 16!” Evidently, he was referring to 15 other women who had interrupted their work at Bloomberg News to take maternity leave, as was their right under the law.

Flat out insults

The hostile workplace that Bloomberg created for Ms. Garrison and others didn’t start with pregnancy. In fact, some of the verbal battering she took from Bloomberg began when she was engaged. According to a story reported in New York Magazine:

"’What, is the guy dumb and blind? What the hell is he marrying you for?’" Bloomberg is alleged to have asked Sekiko Garrison…when he saw her engagement ring. A week later, she maintains, he said, ‘Still engaged? What, is he that good in bed, or did your father pay him off to get rid of you?’"

Bloomberg denied Ms. Garrison’s claims. But some of his denials were, uh, problematic, given that the shocked Ms. Garrison eventually began taping their conversations. So three years later, Bloomberg “settled” the dispute for an undisclosed but “substantial” sum and an agreement by both parties never to talk about the incident again.

End of story? Not quite.

The weird polygraph test
you're not allowed to see

In the course of the Garrison hoo-ha, the mayor took a polygraph test. Now, given that polygraph tests aren’t admissible in many kinds of court cases, that would elicit a yawn…except:

Except that Michael Bloomberg declared he “passed” the test – whatever “passed” means.

Fine, but if he really "passed," why is he refusing to share the results of the polygraph test – or his trial-related deposition – with the press? You’d think a guy who had evidence of his innocence would want to spread the evidence around. Sound a bit weird to you? Me too.

The “other” women

And, how about this:

Two other women also brought suit against Bloomberg. One of the suits also alleged rape by a senior Bloomberg officials. Clever Bloomberg lawyers got one suit thrown out on legal technicalities. But the second one is even scarier. Suddenly, the woman’s husband, who also worked for Bloomberg, was accused of embezzlement. By some strange coincidence, that civil case against Bloomberg “went away.”

So big deal? So, if he’s president, what does this matter? Well, consider how it mattered to his mayoralty.

The Mayor of all the bullies

Michael R. Bloomberg vetoed legislation passed by the City Council aimed at protecting students and staff in New York City schools from bullying and harassment on the basis of multiple criteria, including gender identity, race and sexual orientation.

Hey, you wanna do some gay bashing? Or maybe some race baiting?

Doesn't look like a President Bloomberg would give a damn.

URLs worth checking out:








Thursday, July 26, 2007

Hey there, George Bush! Guess what’s coming home to roost?

This was one of those mornings when, for a liberal-minded crank, checking the news was something like having my G-spot hit by a truckload of bathing beauties.

Alberto Gonzales, Carl Rove ,
you’re both in deep doo-doo!

First there was the little matter of the White House evil twins, Alberto Gonzales and Carl Rove. Says the news report:

Senate Democrats called for a perjury investigation against Attorney General Alberto Gonzales on Thursday and subpoenaed top presidential aide Karl Rove in a deepening political and legal clash with the Bush administration.

It has become apparent that the attorney general has provided at a minimum half-truths and misleading statements," four Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee wrote in a letter to Solicitor General Paul Clement.

This investigation has to do with perjury, folks.

Now, the White House is claiming “executive privilege” and many Republicans are tut-tutting that the White House can’t do its business if the public knows what business they’re really doing. These are the same dudes who were outraged when Bill Clinton resisted testifying before Congress about his sex life.

Cranky Prediction: This one could go all the way to the Supreme Court, where a 5-4 majority will decide that the public’s business is none of the public’s business and rule for the White House. But before you despair, scroll way down and read today’s final item.

Lying general gets his face smacked

The next piece of news that caught my attention was this:

Army Secretary Peter Geren is expected to recommend that a retired three-star general be demoted for his role in providing misleading information about the death of Army Ranger Pat Tillman, military officials say, in what would be a stinging and rare rebuke.

Lt. Gen. Philip Kensinger, who headed Army special operations, is one of six high-ranking Army officers expected to get official reprimands for making critical errors in reporting the circumstances of Tillman's friendly-fire shooting in Afghanistan in April 2004.

And for good reason. Some of those guys with stars and birds on their shoulders make it look like you can’t get ahead in today’s army unless you’ve got a spine made of jelly.

Hey, General! I thought they made a big deal about integrity up at West Point. How much lack of integrity does it take to lie to a fallen hero’s family and the nation about the circumstances of his death by “friendly fire” in combat?

These days, generals seem lacking the integrity to tell the commander in chief that when it comes to Iraq he’s living in a fantasy world worthy of the Tales of the Arabian Nights, and that the emperor isn’t wearing any clothes – to mix some metaphorical fairy tales.

Well, not completely. Some generals have told the truth – and have been removed from command as a consequence. They – the ones who told it like it is – deserve a Golden Spine award, if anyone ever invents one.

Cranky prediction: This’ll blow over pretty quickly, and a good many military careerists will go back to building their careers on hot air or worse. Reminds me of a tale that a Viet Nam vet once told me. His company found an abandoned Viet Cong tunnel containing a table, a chair, and an empty penicillin bottle. His captain dropped a grenade down the hole, then got on the radio and announced, “I have just captured and blown an underground enemy field hospital, including a fully equipped operating theater and drug dispensary.”

Don’t look now, George,
but the “strong” economy you
boasted about is collapsing

If you keep borrowing and borrowing and borrowing…and make hardly anything that’s exportable…and disguise the problem by keeping interest rates lower than they ought to be…sooner or later the whole thing comes crashing down around your ears.

An economy can’t survive on nothing but constantly rising house prices fueled by artificially cheap mortgages. Sooner or later, people won’t be able to afford housing prices at any interest rate. And then there’s the matter of our trying to live by taking in each others’ laundry. Where are we when farmers start to grow housing developments on their land because China’s growing (and poisoning) our food?

So first it was the dollar – which is rapidly turning into toilet paper against the Euro. And now this:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Sales of new homes fell in June by the largest amount in five months as the housing industry continued to struggle with its worst downturn in 16 years. The median home price also fell.

The Commerce Department reported that sales of new single-family homes dropped by 6.6 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 834,000 units. The decline was more than triple what had been expected and was the largest percentage drop since sales fell by 12.7 percent in January. Sales are now 22.3 percent below the level of a year ago.

Cranky Prediction:
With a little arm-twisting, the White House will convince the Fed to drop interest rates. This will eventually result in rampant inflation, but by then Boy George will be out of the White House hotseat and it all will become some Democrat’s problem. Watch for Republicans to start blaming the next President for economic ills that were hatched under Bush.

At long last, a Presidential
candidate starts talking straight

This in today from the AP:

DES MOINES, Iowa - Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards on Thursday unveiled a plan that would increase taxes for the wealthy and create tax breaks for the middle class.

"It's time for us to put America's economy back in line with our values. It's time for us to put an end to George Bush's war on work," he told a packed theater at Grand View College in Des Moines, Iowa. "It's time to restore fairness to a tax code that has been driven completely out of whack by the lobbyists in Washington, by the powerful interests in Washington and by those who value the few above the interests of many."

He added that, "It should not be in America that the middle class carries the tax burden, and that's exactly what's happening."

Edwards' plan would fix what he called a "rigged" system by ending tax breaks to Washington insiders with wealth and corporate power. Those are the same people, he said, who keep politicians in power.

"We have crony capitalism. We have lobbyists who are there every single day working to rig the system, and it is rigged," he said, referring to insurance, oil and drug companies.

Cranky Prediction: Unless Hillary and Barak managed to knock each other out of the running, Edwards, whom I personally prefer, will get nowhere as a presidential candidate. But Obama might adopt some of his ideas, if elected. Don’t count on Hillary for much of the same.

Will the next President
Pack the Supreme Court?
Stay tuned.

Our last item. The New York Times Op-Ed page this morning included a think piece by Jean Edward Smith suggesting that the next President could thwart the Roberts Righties by packing the court with liberals.

Smith suggests:

If the current five-man majority persists in thumbing its nose at popular values, the election of a Democratic president and Congress could provide a corrective. It requires only a majority vote in both houses to add a justice or two. Chief Justice John Roberts and his conservative colleagues might do well to bear in mind that the roll call of presidents who have used this option includes not just Roosevelt but also Adams, Jefferson, Jackson, Lincoln and Grant.

Of course, an attempt at impeaching justices Roberts and Alito might also work, and to greater effect. Both swore to Congress they’d respect the doctrine of stare decicis and then immediately began undoing centuries of settled Supreme Court decisions. Smells to me like the impeachable offense of perjury.

Cranky Prediction:
The entire court will continue sitting, until rigor mortis sets in. But Roberts and Alito will be a little more cautious, given the backlash they’ve already begun generating after less than a year on the big bench.

Just cut and paste ‘em in your browser for more details:
The Perjury Story:

The smacked generals story:

George Bush’s economy starts falling apart:

John Edward’s comes out swinging on taxes:

Precedents for packing the court like sardines:

Monday, July 23, 2007

Why isn’t more of America reading Tom Teepen’s stuff?

It’s hard to square an official portrait of the guy – he’s made to look something like Colonel Sanders suspiciously interviewing a bad actor in a chicken suit – with the young reporter I remember from 1961.

At the time, Tom Teepen’s beat was Greene County, an outlying circulation district of the Dayton (Ohio) Daily News. He had a wife, a tract house, a cheap car and if I recall correctly a couple of young kids, and made his living running from Xenia to Goes to Yellow Springs to Fairborn covering police stories and miscellaneous newsworthy whatnots.

These days, at the age of – I’m guessing here – 70-something, I gather he’s living somewhere in the Atlanta area, an eminence grise of punditry for the Cox newspaper chain.

As such, he’s probably quite well known wherever a Cox newspaper circulates. That’s great news – whether they like him there or not – for places like Lufkin, Texas and Palm Beach, Florida among others, to which he brings a voice of sane and reasoned liberalism via their respective Cox publications.

But it’s a damn shame Teepen’s name rarely elicits more than a puzzled shrug here in New York among us so-called informed liberals. Same goes for other major news markets, such as Chicago and Washington, DC.

Teepen’s trademark is commonsense liberalism, as opposed to the doctrinaire kind. For example, when the right wing decries Jimmy Carter as an ineffective fool, a good many of the underinformed liberal establishment simply mumble something unintelligible and try to change the subject. We’re too busy gnashing our teeth at the Bush administration to know or care. Too often, we buy the conservative opinion that Carter must have been something between a wet noodle and a hibernating sloth. Teepen, however, offers a spirited defense of Carter, in part, this:

In addition to the Camp David Accords, Carter negotiated the SALT II arms treaty with the Soviets. He initiated diplomatic relations with China, consolidating Richard Nixon’s breakthrough. His emphasis on human rights brought a literally refreshing purpose to U.S. foreign policy, especially effective in democratizing Latin American politics.

More successful at federal deregulation than any other president—in energy, communications, and transportation—his very success put him athwart his party’s liberal wing. Ted Kennedy became a particular pain in the neck because of Carter’s apostasies.

To which I happily add a point that Teepen also raises: Carter managed to get an American embassy-full of hostages out of Teheran without igniting a war. Imagine the conflagration if the same embassy takeover had occurred during George W. Bush’s watch. How many Americans would have died if someone the likes of Boy George had taken another “bring ‘em on” stance?

Or consider Teepen’s point-of-view on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

An OK transitional policy, "don't ask" is becoming an anachronism, and more counterproductive as well, almost by the minute. Some 11,000 gays and lesbians have been discharged under it, typically for an inadvertence rather than for flagrant defiance of the policy. And it is outright lunacy that since we started the Iraq war, 50 experts in Arabic and Farsi have been thrown out. Didn't President Bush say he wanted to win this thing?

We are increasingly out of step with the rest of the world, at least with the parts we generally identify with. Most of our NATO allies, for instance, allow gays to serve openly in their militaries. The armed forces of Iran, Egypt, North Korea, Saudi Arabia and Yemen do not. We're all but in bed — excuse me, all but in league — with the Axis of Evil and a lot of its gear train.
Yet in the same piece in which he expressed reasoned outraged at the policy, he refused to take a gratuitous whack at Marine General Peter Pace, who espoused Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell because he believes homosexuality is immoral. Teepen declares,

From what I read, even mere spear carriers like me in the "liberal elite" are expected to be dutifully scandalized and demand at least his rehab if not the head of Marine Gen. Peter Pace…

Sorry. I can't quite work up enough steam to blow any off. Left-right, up-down, whatever, we really do need to stop being so quick off the mark to go baying after every public figure who rolls a verbal gutter ball.


Go Tom, go!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

A New York steampipe explosion causes a slight frisson of fear

Shortly before six o’clock last night, an underground steam pipe in Manhattan exploded.

A geyser of asbestos-laden steam, taller than the 77-floor, 1,046 feet tall Chrysler building a block away, jetted into the air and continued roaring out of the ground for more than two hours before it was brought under control. The east side 4, 5 and 6 subways, formerly known as the Lexington Avenue Line, came to a complete stop from lower Manhattan to 86th Street, a bit more than two miles to the north of the midtown mishap.

Some of the news coverage would lead you to believe there was instant panic. Judging from news station footage of people running away from the steam, and shoes left in the street, it’s hard to argue that there wasn’t some panic.

And people most certainly were wise to run out of geyser range. Two people were brought to a local hospital, one with third degree burns over 90 percent of his body, the other with 60 percent burns. There also has been one death reported so far, evidently someone who suffered a heart attack fleeing the scene.

But all the panic seems to have been confined to the area immediately adjacent to the steam geyser. I was on a Madison Avenue bus. I became aware that something unusual was afoot at approximately 6:15 PM, as the bus passed 41st Street, the cross street on which the explosion occurred, two blocks to the east.


I happened to be on the left side of the bus, looking out the window toward Fifth Avenue. I saw all of 41st Street between Madison and Fifth Avenue jammed literally wall-to-wall with people, all of them looking eastward. So I looked east as well, expecting to discover a street fair of some kind. Instead, I saw a wall of grayish brown smoke so close by and so opaque that I thought whatever had happened must have happened only a few dozen feet away, not two blocks.

Now I became more aware of the sirens of fire engines, police cars and ambulances – a background cacophony so commonplace in New York that must of us unconsciously tune it out.

Around me, people were picking up cell phones. And they began quietly asking questions. “Do you know what it is?” “What happened?”

The words you didn’t hear spoken were “9-11” and “Al Quaida,” although they were most assuredly as top-of-mind for my fellow passengers as they were for me. There was no screaming. No panic on the bus. Nor did I see any on the street outside. People were either standing together and watching, or walking away with deliberate but not extraordinary speed.

One passenger announced loudly, “I’m getting off at the next stop,” and did so. This may have been a mistake. As the TV news announced later, there was asbestos from the steam pipe in the air nearby. (Note: Even more recent reports now say the air is clean. Whether it was at the time is uncertain.)

I tried to call home. It took several attempts. Evidently the cell phone towers were jammed by thousands of callers simultaneously trying to assure people at home that they were okay.

The bus suddenly seemed to be creeping at a snail’s pace, even for a New York City bus at rush hour. Eventually I reached the voice mail at home and left word that there had been an explosion of some sort in midtown but that I was okay, on a bus stuck in traffic that would probably make me quite late for dinner. I also asked, “When you get this, would you please turn on the TV and see if there’s any word on what’s going on? Then call me.”


It turned out that the cell phone towers were still sporadically jammed. After several attempts, my caller reached me some 20 minutes later. By then the bus was at a gridlocked standstill at Madison Avenue at 57th Street, less than a mile further north.

Police cars – I counted 11 of them in a row although there may have been more – were standing still on West 57th Street, lights flashing, sirens howling, unable to get through. I realized that nowhere in this immense traffic jam had I seen a police or traffic officer trying to direct the chaos and keep things moving. Nor did I see any police officer get out of his patrol car to do so.

“The TV news says it was a transformer that exploded on Second Avenue,” I was told.

That was misinformation as it turned out, misinformation both about the cause and the precise location of the explosion – which occurred on 41st and Lexington Avenue. But at least it brought relief that terrorists had not blown up Grand Central Station or the subways and commuter rail lines below it, the first thought that occurred to me. I passed along the word to my fellow passengers. Most also seemed relieved.


Given that nothing was moving, I began to wonder how many private cars were contributing to the gridlock. So between 42nd Street and 60th Street I spent a considerable part of the time staring out the window.

I saw almost none of what you might call commuter automobiles. Taxis were the kind of vehicle I saw most often. The next most common variety of car was chauffeur driven, black, and tended to have one passenger in the back seat. Most were either either standard limos of the Town Car variety, or black Cadillac Escalades. Busses were the next most frequently occurring kind of vehicle, followed by emergency vehicles of all kinds.


As of rush hour this morning, the Lexington Avenue subway lines were still out of service south of 86th Street. Lexington Avenue in the immediate area was still blocked off, pending an investigation into how badly the asbestos had been spread around.

I turned on television while I was getting dressed to discover that the city of Phoenix, Arizona was rejoicing. They’ve gotten more money from the Department of Homeland Security this year.

And by the way, I’ve heard not so much as one word of concern about New York so far from either Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff or the Deciderer-In-Chief. Well, from the window of my bus I did see an Escalade with its own flashing lights and siren trying to get away from the center of the action. So maybe you guys or one of your political appointees was aware of the situation after all and distancing yourselves from it as fast as you could.


Q: Why are there steam pipes under New York’s Streets?

A: Consolidated Edison, the local power company, uses steam to drive the turbines that drive its electric generators. Over eighty years ago, somebody at Con Ed, as we call it here, got the bright idea to sell the steam for use in heating buildings. Those underground pipes conduct the steam from the power plant in Queens to offices in Manhattan.

Q: But it’s summer. Who’d want to heat a building when you’ve been having 80 and 90-degree temperatures?

A: Nobody. But the steam also can be used to cool the buildings. I’m not sure how. Ask your local physicist or heat exchange engineer.

Q: When I visited New York last winter, I saw steam coming out of chimneys protruding from the asphalt. Did that have something to do with Con Ed steam?

A: Yeah.

Q: Where did the asbestos come from?

A: It was the insulating material in common use over 80 years ago, when those pipes were first installed.

Q: But you just said that was over eighty years ago! How come there isn’t a pipe replacement or asbestos abatement program in News York that could have fixed the problem?

A: The abiding philosophy here seems to be, “If it ain’t busted, don’t fix it.” I’m strongly in favor of that philosophy when it comes to invading other countries. I’m not sure how I feel about it in relation to New York’s infrastructure. Mayor Bloomberg’s too busy thinking about running for President and trying to ram through congestion pricing to bother a whole lot with everyday matters like steam pipes.

Look, it’s not entirely clear whether Michael Bloomberg thinks that focusing on keeping the city from crumbling to ashes is boring. And Con Ed won’t budge until somebody grabs its chairman by his privates and twists real hard, because capital expenditures for pipe replacement and asbestos abatement produce no additional revenue and suck money out of the bottom line.

Of course, now Con Ed is going to have to replace at least one piece of pipe anyway, and they’re facing massive law suits from the dead and injured victims of the explosion. New York juries don’t take kindly to utilities that scald passers-by over 90 percent over their bodies. So now Con Edison faces a double whammy of unexpected costs. Disclosure: I happen to own a few hundred shares of Con Ed, and the stock had been going down even before this happened. Looks like now I’m really screwed.

Q: Okay Crank, what lessons have we learned from this?

A: Several:

1.New York’s emergency planning doesn’t seem to be all bad, but some bozo seems to have forgotten that people like to get away fast from smoke, steam and, say, radiation from dirty bombs. The city, from what I saw yesterday, has made no provisions to unclog gridlocks during these emergencies to speed people away from danger. It doesn’t take much technology. A tough-looking cop at each strategic intersection making “go” and “stop” hand signals would probably do it. This might also help emergency vehicles get through to emergencies quicker. Many of those vehicles were gridlocked with the rest of us yesterday.

2.Congestion pricing isn’t going to do diddley-squat to stop New York limo jams. Anyone who can afford commute with his own Escalade and driver, or who can afford to rent a commercial limo to take him to and from work at roughly $50 a pop isn’t going to be the least bit fazed by an $8 congestion pricing plan. That’s chump change to the people who are really crowding the streets. If anything, congestion pricing will simply make commuting a tad faster for limo passengers who place their own comfort over the environment.

3.If Mayor Bloomberg really wants to do something about congestion, he should impound all of his friends’ limousines.

4.I know this is slightly off the subject, but the real way to lessen traffic congestion is to make public transportation more attractive. When electronic metrocards made lower fare programs available some years ago and service improved, so did ridership on the subways. Instead of giving New Yorkers and out-of-towners a carrot for riding the subways instead of driving, Michael Bloomberg is trying to club them over the head with an $8 stick.

5.Based on my personal experience, the local transit authority did a hideously bad job of communicating with its riders. Busses are connected to a transit radio system that regularly broadcast route instructions to drivers. And drivers have PA system. Do you think somebody would contact the drivers and ask them to explain – while we were all frozen in traffic and suffering our frissons of fear – that it was only a steam pipe? Nah! “Keep ‘em sweating.”



Good pix and wildly hyperbolic Murdoch-style reporting here:


Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Still not convinced America needs an excess wealth tax on multi-multi-millionaires and billionaires? Check out this hair-curling super-rich dude.

Oh, thank you, thank you, Los Angeles Times, for your report on what’s up with Henry T. Nicholas III, a billionaire computer chip mogul who made his megabucks selling some of his Broadcom stock.

So what did super-rich Hank do with his humongous stash of cash? Well, to be fair, he did give millions to education and to a local performing arts center. But that still left him a staggering bundle of bucks for other kinds of “good” works.

According to papers filed in Orange County Superior Court and reported by the Los Angeles Times, Hot-To-Trot Hank….

• Added hidden doors, secret levers, an underground grotto, strange tunnels (see photograph, above) and planned a “secret and convenient lair” with hidden entries “to help him indulge in a manic obsession with prostitutes” and an “addiction to cocaine and Ecstasy.”

• “Nicholas had his private jet pick up prostitutes in New Orleans, Chicago, Las Vegas and Los Angeles ‘and bring them back...for his rock star friends,’ the draft complaint said. ‘He provided his guests with transportation and cocaine, Ecstasy, methamphetamines, marijuana, mushrooms, and nitrous oxide [laughing gas]’ — and even arranged for his private helicopter to land at a nearby hospital helipad, it said.”

Okay, so boys will be boys. But wait, there’s more!

•According to a lawsuit, Nicholas stiffed his assistant, Kenji Kato, for $150,000 in back wages.

•Nicholas also tried to stiff the construction team for his secret sex hideaway for “millions of dollars” for work performed between 1998 and 2002, according to a different law suit that was confidentially settled out-of-court.

•“Nicholas was said to have used ‘manipulation, lies, intimidation and even death threats’ to pressure ‘nearly every contractor and vendor’ on the project to perform extra work without pay ‘at warp speed,’’ says the Los Angeles Times.

But wait, there’s even still more!

• Nicholas hired a bunch of armed thugs "to block access to community horse trails near the project [which] prompted neighbors to complain to Laguna Hills authorities, who discovered the work was being performed without a permit and shut it down…”

•“The location, referred to as the Pond or the Ponderosa, ‘was infamous for its excessive extravagance, its sex rooms and its million-dollar sound equipment,’ the [court-filed] document alleged,” says the LA Times.

Oh yes, and one more thing:

• Federal authorities are probing Nicholas' role in the manipulation of stock options at Broadcom,the LA Times said it had learned.

Nicholas has denied all the allegations against him and any wrongdoing. But his wife – who may have gotten wind of hooker hinjinks in the hidden grotto – has left him.

Now I ask you, if Nicholas only had, say, a mere $5,000,000 plus change to his name, would any of this have happened? And would he still be able to live reasonably comfortably? And might the billion or more that got taxed away from him keep a few more endangered schools open, or contibute at least a wee bit to help resolve the Medicare deficit? Or help just a smidge to support universal healthcare in this country?

That’s why America needs an excess wealth tax.

The full story here:

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Reprieved – for now

Hours before he was scheduled to die for a murder he almost certainly did not commit, Troy Anthony Davis received a 90 day stay of execution.

The Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles will now review new evidence. Which means Davis may be "pardoned" for a crime of which is is innocent. Or paroled on his conviction. In either case he'll go through life bearing the stigma of a murder conviction even if he didn't commit the murder.

Or perhaps he'll go to his death after the whole 90 day process is over.

"Review" by a parole board isn't nearly enough. Davis deserves a fair trial -- with competent attorneys able to give this trial their full attention, unlike the overwhelmed public defense attorneys who said they had to practice "triage" during his capital murder trial.

Moreover, given the resistance of the district attorney's office and testimony that cops evidently pressured witnesses to the crime into testifying to something other than the truth, justice won't be served until heads roll in the Savannah, GA police department and district attorney's office.

Ironically, the Chatham County, GA, DA's office offers a "Witness Assistance Program" to protect people who have seen a crime. http://www.chathamcounty.org/vwap.html

But will they protect the witnesses who were bullied into testifying falsely? Especially since the bullying was done by police supplying their "evidence" to the DA?

Don't count on it.

Final note: Along with Davis himself and his family, a tragic figure in this case is Joan McPhail, wife of the slain police officer for whose murder Davis was sentenced to death.

“I believe they are setting a precedent for all criminals that it is perfectly fine to kill a cop and get away with it,” the New York Times quoted her as saying. hhttp://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/17/us/17execute.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

How will she feel if Davis is executed and then, later, another person is convicted of the crime?

She will be a victim all over again.

Finally, we need a repeal of the so-called Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, which prevents exculpatory evidence from getting falsely convicted prisoners a deserved appeal. Please do write your Senators and Congressional representatives.

Anyway, we'll check back in October to see where this fiasco stands.

Apology: For some reason my links don't seem to be linking today. They should, however, work if you copy and paste them into your browser. Sorry -- and ah, the mysteries of technology!

Monday, July 16, 2007

When they execute an innocent man for murder on Tuesday, the real murderers will be the cops, prosecutor and appeals courts from Georgia to Washington

Barring a legal miracle, the state of George is about to stick a needle into an innocent man, paralyze his nervous system so that he cannot breathe, and then stop his heart.

His name is Troy Davis. That's him at left. When he was put on trial, there were witnesses against him, but most of those witnesses now say they were bullied by the police into falsely testifying against Davis.

The truly horrifying part of the story is that thanks to something bizarrely named the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, the courts have refused to review this new evidence and grant Davis a new trial.

This act of Congress prevents the courts from reviewing fresh evidence even when a state is about to execute an innocent person. Of course, the Supreme Court could declare that the law is unconstitutional, but don’t expect it from the cast of right-wing characters sitting on the Roberts court today. (We also ought to brand as murderers every member of Congress who voted to prevent reviews of fresh evidence that could prevent an innocent person from going to his death -- or spending more time in prison for a crime he did not commit.)

Oh, did I mention that George Bush could grant the guy clemency, too? Whoops sorry, President Bush uses that only for political operatives like Scooter Libbey facing five years for a crime they really did commit, not for innocent men about to be put to death.

You can read a summary of “legalized” murder by the state here: http://www.thecarpetbaggerreport.com/archives/11470.html

Somehow, this all brought to mind a little ditty I wrote in a cranky moment well over a decade ago. It had to do with the electric chair, but it works just as well for any form of capital punishment.

It was meant to be sung, to an upbeat banjo twang. Just in case you like to twang one.

Enjoy, while you think of the murderers in Washington positions of power – and the innocent guy they’re going to kill to keep the death penalty “effective.”

They are bolting down the death chair
To the concrete prison floor
And they're checking all the wires out
A dozen times or more
And they're testing out the switches
And they're trying out the fuse
They are gonna fry a kid tonight --
The story's in the news.

Yes, it's good to deep fry people
The Supreme Court says, Well hey,

If we do not cook all the Accused

They'll just get in the way.

Too damn bad they had bad lawyers

And let's cut out those appeals
For we're busy and it's lunchtime

And it's torture missing meals.

Meanwhile, just outside the prison gates
They're starting to drink beer
They've got noisemakers and banners
And they're full of vengeful cheer
Some are here to mourn and others toast
The final muffled cry
Of a guy the prosecutor framed
And justice says must die.

Yes, it's good to deep fry people
The Supreme Court says, Well hey,

'If we do not cook all the Accused

They'll just get in the way.

Too damn bad they had bad lawyers

And let's cut out those appeals

For we're busy and it's lunchtime

And it's torture missing meals.

Watch them drag him down the hallway
Weak and trembling, full of fright
Just a kid without his mother
In the middle of the night
See him cuddled in the rough embrace
Of leather, wood and steel
Now they jam a gag into his mouth --
It's all part of the deal.

Yes, it's good to deep fry people
The Supreme Court says, Well hey,

'If we do not cook all the Accused

They'll just get in the way.

Too damn bad they had bad lawyers

And let's cut out those appeals

For we're busy and it's lunchtime

And it's torture missing meals.

Then the warden reads the sentence
And the priest he reads a prayer
Next the whining of a generator
Fills the stagnant air --
Then upon the stroke of midnight
All the power of the state
Flows through shiny copper cables
With a final surge of hate.

Yes, it's good to deep fry people
The Supreme Court says, Well hey,

'If we do not cook all the Accused

They'll just get in the way.

Too damn bad they had bad lawyers

And let's cut out those appeals

For we're busy and it's lunchtime

And it's torture missing meals.

Now the young kid lurches forward
'Neath the straps his body strains
While his blood and liver boil
And smoke gushes from his brains
See the writhing torso twitching
Muscles fracture every bone
Underneath the flaming leather mask
There comes a final groan.

Yes, it's good to deep fry people
The Supreme Court says, Well hey,

'If we do not cook all the Accused

They'll just get in the way.

Too damn bad they had bad lawyers

And let's cut out those appeals

For we're busy and it's lunchtime

And it's torture missing meals.

Smell the room fill with the stink of
Urine, vomit, burning skin
Hear the clamor in the prison
As the inmates raise a din
And a hearse's purring engine
As it carts off the remains
Of another hapless victim
Of the justice system's games

Yes, it's good to deep fry people
The Supreme Court says, Well hey,

'If we do not cook all the Accused

They'll just get in the way.

Too damn bad they had bad lawyers

And let's cut out those appeals

For we're busy and it's lunchtime

And it's torture missing meals.

Now the mob outside the prison
Breaks into a joyful shout
And the guileful prosecutor prays
No one will find him out
And the justices in black robes
Cooly dine and sleep quite well
But if there's really any justice
They will surely fry in hell.

Yes, it's good to deep fry people
The Supreme Court says, Well hey,

'If we do not cook all the Accused

They'll just get in the way.

Too damn bad they had bad lawyers

And let's cut out those appeals

For we're busy and it's lunchtime

And it's torture missing meals.

Just a kid, you high court buzzards
Couldn't vote or take a wife
But in our kinder, gentler nation
Young folks have no right to life
In the death room with ammonia
Now a trusty mops the floor
But who'll clean up the piece of filth
You've handed down as law?

Yes, it's good to deep fry people
The Supreme Court says, Well hey,

'If we do not cook all the Accused

They'll just get in the way.

Too damn bad they had bad lawyers

And let's cut out those appeals

For we're busy and it's lunchtime

And it's torture missing meals.

You can fry 'em you can hang 'em
Or squirt poison up their veins
You can gas 'em you can even
Shoot a bullet through their brains.
Can't afford no fancy lawyers
So they must deserve to die
Execution's as American
As Mom and Apple Pie.

Yes, it's good to deep fry people
The Supreme Court says, Well hey,

'If we do not cook all the Accused

They'll just get in the way.

Too damn bad they had bad lawyers

And let's cut out those appeals

For we're busy and it's lunchtime

And it's torture missing meals.

C) The New York Crank

Friday, July 13, 2007

Warning: Reading this post may cause you to suffer a heart attack

The following appeared at Livescience.com. I make no claims, cranky or otherwise, as to its veracity. So don’t blame me if you die reading it. Got that?

Anger really can trigger a heart attack. But then, so can getting sick, being too hot, being too cold, air pollution, lack of sleep, grief, overeating, natural disasters, exercise and sex. 

In fact, simply waking up is the worst thing you can do if you're trying to avoid a heart attack.

For the rest of the heart attack-inducing news, go here and try not to drop dead before you finish.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Lesbians with pink pistols: Murdoch media empire weirdos air their perv sex fantasies to the world

Some while ago, a psychiatrist in New York got sued by a patient because he had an affair with her.

If true, what he did was most certainly a grave violation of medical ethics. What it most certainly was not was an act of perversion. This had to do with plain vanilla sexual intercourse between two consulting adults. And no, I’m not going to offer you the URL – the poor guy has been identified and hounded enough – although you can tease it out of a search engine if you’re that sick.

Anyway, whether it was newsworthy or not that a patient was suing her doctor, the New York Post splashed it all over their front page, labeling him in giant type a “Perv Doc.”

Iraq was going to hell in a handbasket, New Orleans was a mess, the healthcare system was a disaster, the White House was firing prosecutors who refused to act as police state character assassins – and Murdoch’s New York Post had nothing better to investigate and put on its front page than a doctor who had an affair? And then to label him a “Perv?”


That’s why I’m so amazed – totally, astoundingly amazed – that the New York Post – a member of the same Murdoch publishing family as the Fox News Network – hasn’t bothered to expose and expunge the perv broadcasters in their own ranks.

I’m talking about those disgusting pervs Bill O’Reilly and his perv-o “Fox News crime analyst" Rod Wheeler. Yes folks, he calls himself Rod.

You’ll find a full report of the story and a clip of the pervy Fox broadcast that got it all going here:


But what it boils down to is that O’Reilly and his Rod seem to be having wild sex fantasies about imaginary gangs of Lesbians with pink Glock pistols, roaming the streets all over America’s great cities, committing violence, mayhem and rape.

It also turned out, in an interview, that Wheeler couldn’t document any of these claims, couldn’t point out a source, couldn’t do squat except insist that it was all true – wherever the “information” about this so-called national trend he was reporting on came from.

In other words he – or perhaps he and his perv enabler Bill O’Reilly - made it all up. Or to put it plainly, it’s their perv sex fantasy.

Look, if those two guys simply went into the garage, dropped their pants, and jerked off together to imaginary images of lesbians with pink Glocks in rapacious street sex orgies, it wouldn’t yank my own crank one iota.

But when the anti-perv news organization start airing their own perverted fantasies on the air, it’s time to take them off the air.

And to make them register as sex offenders. Never mind truth offenders.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Inventor of the Psychic Ding gives two Supreme Court justices a super ding and demands their impeachment

Remember Mme. Galzogorist, the spelling-challenged fortune teller on the gritty Manhattan block where The New York Crank is headquartered? Remember her invention of the “Psychic ding” – a sort of mental curse that brings down psychic pain on less-than-loveable public figures?

Well, lately she’s been going a little bit overboard. It’s so bad that I tried to call the white-coated people from the hospital. I wanted to get her thrown in a locked ward and pumped full of Thorazine until she calms down. But as you’ll learn if you read on, my efforts were thwarted.

This all started when I interviewed Mme. Galzogorist about who might be the winner in the next Presidential race. Unfortunately, the subject matter quickly changed and my control over the situation deteriorated, as you’ll learn from the following transcript:

CRANK: Mme. Galzogorist, who will win the next Presidential election?

MME. G: I see a Democrat in the future. Unless that idiot lunatic Bloomberg rides in on Ralph Nader’s horse and screws up the election results. A thousand psychic dings on his head! May he wake up thinking bugs are crawling around under his skin. No, actually I think he already thinks that. May he wake up thinking toads and cockroaches…

CRANK: Please excuse me for interrupting, but let’s get back on the subject. You mentioned a Democrat. Which one? Hillary? Barak Obama? John Edwards?

MME. G: It doesn’t matter. The Supreme Court will decide that any Democrat who gets elected will be unconstitutional.

CRANK: On what grounds?

MME. G: They don’t need grounds. They’re making it up as they go along. May the brains of Alito and Roberts turn to mush. I’d wish that on Clarence Thomas, too, but he doesn’t seem to have a brain.

CRANK: What are you talking about?

MME. G: Impeachment. Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. and Samuel A. Alito, Jr. ought to be impeached for lying under oath. Until then, may an especially tough strain of cooties appear in their dreams to be inhabiting their scalps.

CRANK: What are you talking about?

MME. G: I’m talking stare decicis, the doctrine that you don’t change settled law. Both Roberts and Alito said under oath that they would abide by stare decicis in deciding cases. So far, they’ve overturned every settled cased they’ve considered. Their real abiding principal seems to be stare decicis my bigis behindis.


MME. G: Will you shut up and let me finish? We had an almost century-old ruling about prohibiting pricing fixing. They’ve overturned that. So much for free markets. Now manufacturers have another tool for screwing the consumer, thanks to Roberts and Alito, may Alito become increasingly aware that he is getting bald, and Roberts begin to believe that he is turning into Clarence Thomas.

We had a decades-old ruling that “separate-but-equal” segregated schools are not equal. Alito and Roberts overturned that. Welcome back, school segregation! What’s next, the legalization of lynch mobs? May Alito and Roberts have nightmares that they are getting hanged from trees! And may Thomas dream he is getting hanged from a high tech shoe tree.

Then there’s the First Amendment. If school kids express an opinion outside of class that their school principal doesn’t like, the Supreme Court has decided the First Amendment granting freedom of speech is invalid. May Roberts and Alito continually have nightmares that a fuzzy white fungus is growing in their throats and giving them laryngitis. And may the ghosts of their fathers regularly appear to them in dreams, reminding them that their names end in “Junior.” And may the public begin referring to them as, “the two juniors.”

CRANK: But what does this have to do with…?

MME. G: Oh shut your trap, Crank! Frankly, I don’t give Roe v. Wade another six months. May the two juniors both dream they’re in especially difficult labor, and wake up with murderous gas pains.

CRANK: Madame Galzogorist, you’re foaming at the mouth!

MME. G: Damn right I am! These guys are a menace. They don’t even support capitalism! They’ve reigned in the rights of stockholders to control corporate officers and boards that are robbing investors blind of their capital! May Junior and Junior grow to have such fear of pickpockets they will develop severe agoraphobia.

CRANK: So what you’re saying is…

MME. G: What I’m saying is, if you think the last Supreme Court invalidation of an election in which Gore won but lost was an abortion of democracy, wait until you see what these guys do even if the Democrats win by 70 percent! Impeach those liars now. Roberts and Alito. Junior and Junior. Impeach them for swearing falsely under oath to something their behavior almost immediately after appointment indicates was a total fabrication. They perjured themselves, Junior and Junior did. Perjury! Perjury! Perjury!

CRANK: Are you sure you…

MME. G: Of course, they’ll probably declare the impeachment proceedings unconstitutional, plunging the nation into civil unrest. Come to think of it, they probably want to bring back the Civil War, too.

NOTE: The New York Crank did what any alarmed citizen would do. I whipped out my cell phone and called 911. The paramedics arrived and trucked Mme. Galzogorist away to an under-funded city hospital. There she was declared normal and released after a lengthy rant to the staff psychiatrists concerning her fears that the court will declare health insurance unconstitutional. Oh and of course, they found she had no health insurance and billed her MasterCard $250,000 for the hospital visit. Since Mme. Galzorist cannot pay off the bill, she is being charged 25% interest a month. I hear that usury is again constitutional.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

No comments needed, but I'll give you a few anyway

This poster was borrowed -- well, okay, stolen -- from Billionaires for Bush (link in the links column at right.) I highly recommend that you check out their website.

There would be no further commentary necessary concerning Paris Hilton, if not for the interview she gave Larry King recently.

It was the kind of interview that made you want to dance around and chant, "Liar, liar, yer pants on fire!" I'm not a big Paris Hilton follower, but something about the interview rang as false as a three dollar bill. Perhaps it was Larry King's steadfast failure to ask followup questions.

For example, Paris said she goes into her office every day and does hard work. King might have followed up by asking what she does while she's working hard. Does she make phone calls? Does she doodle? Does she have to lug heavy packages? Sweep out the office? Is she at her desk at 8 AM until the wee hours of the night? Does some boss drop into her office on an hourly basis and holler, "Paris, are you going to finish that damn assignment today or am I going to have to give it to the new kid in the mail room?"

What exactly constitute hard work in the separate universe of a rich woman who drives drunk and violates court orders with a shrug?

She should have been asked, but nah! Not Softball Larry, the interviewer with a national audience who's notorious for turning every interview into free celebrity advertising. So when she said she doesn't do drugs, it wasn't surprising he didn't raise an eyebrow, much less a penetrating question about her claim.

Fortunately, somebody at The Smoking Gun raise not only an eyebrow, but some telling documentary films that show Paris was lying through her teeth. Check it out here:

What was I saying about an excess wealth tax earlier this week?