Making Sausage – The Democratic Party Way

If you like to observe the political process, regardless of political philosophy, Saturday morning is a wonderful opportunity to sit ringside and watch the ultimate championship fight. That is when the Democratic National Committee Rules and ByLaws Committee will meet to divvy up the Florida and Michigan delegates. It is highly likely that their decision will determine the nominee of their party in the General Election in November.

The meeting will be televised by C-SPAN.

My prediction is that the result of that meeting will not be the final word in the process. This ought to be fun.

John Adams

Thanks to that marvelous invention,the DVR, the Agricoli taped the multi-part series “John Adams” when it aired in April. Being consumed with school and such, we wanted to be able to watch the well regarded program at a time when we could savor every word. We have just spent the weekend in glorious solitude watching every single second of the miniseries.

What a great show! Watching television without commercials, in segments that ranged from one to two hours in length, we were forced, by interest and curiosity and the the need for more context, to stop, rewind, replay and, yes, ‘google’ the people and events that were critical parts of an amazing story. And what a story it is……

We laughed, we cried, but mostly we enjoyed. You should, too.

The Second Kick of The Mule….

One would assume that the Democrats in Congress, watching the dismissal of Republican office holders one by one, had learned some lessons from the misbehavior of the Republicans. Alas, we assume too much.
July 1, 2006:

Council leader accused of taking $50,000 bribe to push sale of hospital

John Rickenbacker has been indicted by a federal grand jury and suspended from public office following allegations the longtime leader of Orangeburg County Council was caught in bribery sting.

An indictment unsealed Wednesday alleges Rickenbacker took $50,000 from an FBI officer posing as a consultant for a company wanting to buy The Regional Medical Center.

In exchange for the money, he gave the agent an advance copy of a study of hospital finances, along with a promise to use his influence in getting Orangeburg and Calhoun counties to agree to sell the publicly owned hospital, according to the indictment…

The series of events leading to the indictment began just before County Council’s final decision to hire Chicago-based Ponder & Co. to do an analysis of the hospital’s finances and operations. Council members said the study was not designed to prepare for the sale of the hospital.

As late a June 6, Rickenbacker said the study was not a prelude to sale or lease of the hospital.

A consultant working for an unnamed hospital company met with Rickenbacker on Nov. 3 to discuss the company’s possible purchase of TRMC, according to the indictment. It alleges Rickenbacker solicited cash payments from the consultant for his assistance and eventual support for the company’s purchase or lease of the hospital.

For $5,000 a month, he allegedly agreed to provide the consultant – and no other company bidding for the hospital – a copy of the confidential evaluation of the hospital once it was complete to give it an advantage in the bidding process for the hospital.

On Nov. 7, Orangeburg County Council agreed to hire Ponder & Co. to conduct the study.

The consultant later introduced Rickenbacker to an FBI agent posing as another consultant for the hospital company. Rickenbacker would later meet the agent a total of six times between December 2005 and May 2006. The FBI agent said he gave Rickenbacker a total of $50,000 in cash payments during that time.

The indictment claims Rickenbacker gave the agent a copy of the Ponder and Co. report on May 17. The study was presented to Orangeburg and Calhoun county councils during a closed door meeting on June 15. A copy with portions blacked-out was provided to The Times and Democrat on June 16.

The expected result of that “not-guilty” plea…..May 15, 2008

The former Orangeburg County councilman who served a year in prison for bribery and extortion has been hired to work with U.S. House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn.

Clyburn told The Times and Democrat of Orangeburg on Wednesday that John Rickenbacker will work for him as a liaison between his office and constituents.

Rickenbacker was indicted in June 2006 on charges he took $50,000 in bribes from an agent posing as a consultant for a company interested in buying a local hospital. Rickenbacker told the agent he would work to get County Council’s support for the sale and provided a confidential financial report.

Rickenbacker pleaded guilty and served a year in prison. He was released from a Columbia halfway house last month.

Yessir, commit the crime, do the time, get back in line………….

UPDATE: Another question. Is this guy now a federal employee, with a benefits/retirement package funded by you and me? Can a felon be hired as a federal employee? Or is there some kind of consulting arrangement that we should know about?

Politics and Politicians

From the pen of P.J. O’Rourke:

After all my time covering politics, I
know a lot of politicians. They’re intelligent.
They’re diligent. They’re talented.
I like them. I count them as friends.
But when these friends of mine take
their intelligence, their diligence, and
their talent and they put these into the
service of politics, ladies and gentlemen,
when they do that, they turn into
leeches upon the commonwealth.

They are dogs chasing the cat of
freedom. They are cats tormenting the
mouse of responsibility. They are mice
gnawing on the insulated wiring of individualism.
They are going to hell in a
hand basket, and they stole that basket
from you. They are the ditch carp in
the great river of democracy. And this
is what one of their friends says.

Read the rest here.

If I can get past my disgust, maybe I’ll put something up about politicians, economics, and the Strategic Petroleum Preserve (you remember that program don’t ya, the program that ‘consumes’ .05% of our oil purchases, terminated by the Congress in an attempt to lower gasoline prices).

A Little Perspective, Please…….

With the daily news organs spewing information of a malthusian nature, what with hoarding and other types of anti-social behavior, it seemed that Mankind had reached yet another tipping point.

Enough with the fear mongering….how about some data, please?

Behold some historical food prices, via the Volokh Conspiracy:

Year Food spending as share of disposable income
1929 23.4%
1939 21.3%
1949 22.1%
1959 17.8%
1969 13.7%
1979 13.4%
1989 10.9%
1999 10.2%
2000 9.9%
2001 9.9%
2002 9.8%
2003 9.8%
2004 9.7%
2005 9.8%
2006 9.9%

A little perspective always helps.


A few weeks ago, the Agricoli cooked a great meal that met an undeserved fate. Tonight, we are going to break new ground in our favorite cookbook.

On the board tonight: Braised Pork with Apples, Mushrooms, and Calvados. Yes, I cannot drink alcohol, but the recipe says that the brandy will cook off. We’ll let you know.

Updates to follow….

Update: As good as we thought it would be. And, even better for our reduced budget, the cost of the pork shoulder was a bank account friendly $7.35.

Dr. Mercury’s PC Tips

The internet. What a great thing it is! If you happen to be an infovore there is no better place to spend your time (free and otherwise). If you happen to be an infovore of the tech-geek type then the web is a gold mine of resources.

Exhibit number one is the esteemed Dr. Mercury. Herewith a snippet of his CV:

Since I started writing a daily online journal just a wee bit ahead of today’s bloggers, I really don’t consider myself in the same category. Nor do I write daily anymore. When you hear me referring to bloggers in the third person (the bloggers, rather then we bloggers), that’s why. In all honesty, I consider them to be late-comers to the ball. All they did was put a cute name on something I and others had been doing for a decade.
For years I ran the aforementioned very popular BBS, located right in the heart of Silicon Valley. While the average BBS at the time might have had 500 files online, I had 8,000. While the average BBS might have broken the files down into ten categories (“Tools”, “Music”, etc), I broke it down into 224. While the average BBS was done in plain black & white text, I employed 16-color ANSI menus, one of the first BBS’s on the planet to do so. I also wrote a 60,000 word tutorial in fluent Laypersonspeak for the computer which was widely regarded (downloaded 10,000 times from CompuServe in the first 24 hours) because it bridged the gap between us budding computer idiots and the awful technical-y manual that came with the computer.

Then the Web arrived.
Seeing the writing on the wall, I was building my first web site when the web was one month old and “blogging” by posting links and descriptions to the very few web sites out there at the time. An early Glenn Reynolds, if you will. I’d have links to these new things called “search engines” in one corner of the page, and colleges like Stanford that were slowly getting parts of their libraries online would be in another corner. This was a time when the Web was just a black screen with white text, and you’d dance around the page using only the arrow keys. A link would be a little box of ‘reverse video’ (black text on white) and when you got there via the arrow keys, you’d hit the Enter key and off you’d go to the next page.

I’d say he’s long since made his bones, and if he’s willing to share wisdom, well then I’ll have a sip. and here is the list of topics he will be expounding on……

Search Engine Tips
File Structure
System Backup
Windows Tweaks
Browser Tips & Local Home Page

Cool ToolsIntro to Hardware
Intro to Software
Peripheral Devices
Keyboard Familiarity

Should You Upgrade? (hardware & software)
Hardware Troubleshooting
Software Troubleshooting
The SendTo Feature
Virtual Drives

Multimedia Files Overview
Word Processing/Desktop Publishing
Web & Blog Site Construction
The Dreaded Test

So if you are a user, but not an understander, go forth and get ye some knowledge. What he has to say is worth the few minutes of your time……….

Wishful Thinking

As mentioned at the other site, I’m on a kind of sabbatical. Would that it could be the kind of sabbatical where I get to polish my backcast and presentation. But a man can dream, can’t he………

Picture courtesy of Pixdaus, a blog you really should visit if you want to see some stunning pictures.