Saturday, December 1, 2007

And The Beat Goes On...

Sing it with me now! (To the theme from “Car 54, Where Are You?” and inspired by Admiral Komack in comments)

“There's a holdup in the Bronx,
Brooklyn's broken out in fights,
There's a traffic jam in Harlem,
That's backed up to Jackson Heights...
Rudy smiles his crooked smile,
As Judi's chaffeured round' in style...
Car 54, WHERE ARE YOU???”

How's Rudy Giuliani doin'? Well...just when you think its pretty bad, in the words of that noted late 20th century poet, Sticky Fingaz of Onyx, “B-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-but wait! It gets worse!”

Via Kagro X at Kos:

A source involved with the mayor's operations at the time tells CBS 2 HD that Nathan took flagrant advantage of that police car and driver.

The source says Nathan forced police to chauffeur her friends and family around the city -- even when she wasn't in the car.

That set off alarms with ethics watchdogs.

"The rules are clear, you can't use city resources for private reasons," said Gene Russianoff of the New York Public Interest Research Group. "And if you're using a city car, a police driven car to chauffeur around relatives, unless they're explicitly protected and their deemed to be the subject of potential security threats, it's just wrong."

NYPD officers, chauffeuring around not just the mayor's girlfriend, but her friends and family, too. Nice. 'Cuz they're too good to deal with traffic, like the rest of you scum.

Let me say here right now, that It's perfectly understandable for the many of you who have been so demoralized by the GOP's ability to routinely get people to treat their runny shit like it was double-churned Edy's Chocolate Ice Cream, to have pooh-poohed this breakout reportage of Rudolph Giuliani's past pecuniary peccadilloes as being “eh...ineffectual”.

You have every right to have had that mindset based on recent history.

But it's impossible to dismiss—in the particular instances we've seen this week, that there has been some damage...serious damage in fact to the inevitability of the pundit-powered “Giuliani Juggernaut”. There were desperate attempts to get around this roiling ball of ugly, to circle it and cut it off into a mere 24-hour story.

That failed miserably.

Why? Because Giuliani resorted to the same techniques he used when he was the Mayor of New York. “Shut up! You don't know what you're talking about! The issue is closed! Fuck you!” That worked, and worked shockingly well for a local politico during his mayoral heyday, because even though he was dealing with some ostensibly big-name reporters in a big-media town, it was still for the most part, local reportage, and his power in that “local” dynamic was many times more concentrated than it is on the national level (especially in terms of direct influence on media arms). That isn't the case with this story. He's now dealing with NBC, CBS, CNN and ABC (especially Brian Ross' investigative team at ABC, who Mark Foley will attest to the tenacity of...) requesting info, ledgers, expense reports, and all manner of financial/billing arcana, that seems to be rapidly indicating that Rudy's so-called mania for fiscal watchdoggishness stopped cold at his—and his mistress' Hamptons front door. He lived high, and sloppy as hell off the hog in his last two years as Mayor, (thinking I'm sure that he was somehow “entitled to it”) and sought to cover that excess with this stupid, junior grade, secretary-hiding-her-check-kiting scammery. Except, instead of futzing with money for the occasional spa visit or pair of earrings from Zales, like Tillie in Accounts Receivable, he was swapping around hundreds of thousands of dollars in city monies—taxpayer dollars to sweep the ol' dirt trail of any evidence of his infidelity.

You see, money is a finite thing. You can play games with math's commutative law all you want, but government money—unless you're dealing with “black money” that spending doesn't have to be accounted for—leaves a trail of zeroes, and ones, and fives, and threes, and what have you. Giuliani's ham-fisted stonewalling on this investigation (a years-long investigation) backfired. He's in a much bigger pond than NYC now. And his DMX-ing about with his “posse”, smacking around national reporters is only gonna make 'em dig that much more.

Oh, you didn't hear about that? The elbowing and thuggery? Well...feast! (via TPM)

From NBC/NJ's Matthew E. Berger
OKATIE, SC -- Giuliani refused to take questions here today about allegations that travel expenses were picked up by obscure city offices when he was mayor of New York City.

“We’ve already explained it,” he said, walking past reporters after a town hall meeting.

Giuliani, who is normally friendly to reporters, bristled past them, and campaign staffers were unusually physical in keeping the press away.Several campaign aides told campaign reporters to return to the press area, and some of his security detail manhandled reporters. On other occasions, reporters have been free to video Giuliani as he is shaking hands and signing autographs after events, and he often informally takes questions from reporters.

This whole thing should—had things gone as per the depressing usual—again have been a 24-hour story. But it's a three-four-five day story, and growing.

See, uh...Giuliani actually might have a case with his claim that the timing on all of this is suspicious—albeit truthful, unfortunately for him. Note that in the last ten days, he's changed his campaign strategy—worried that he perhaps can not afford to throw away Iowa and New Hampshire as planned, he's shifted his efforts back there in a bit of a desperation ploy to stall the ascendant wingnut du jour, Mike Huckabee.

And just in time for his flurry of last-minute campaign activity to stave off a noted descent in the polls, this news hits. I've noted before that there are people in NY city government who've been laying in wait to shoot darts at Rudy from the bureaucratic bushes for years. But these folks, like the city's comptroller Bill Thompson, whose been digging at Giuliani's financial skullduggery for years have only now been able to access the voluminous records that seem to implicate Rudy more and more each day.

This tidbit via Talking Points Memo stood out for me:

“Yesterday, every reporter who wanted a copy, was allowed to go down to City Hall and pick up copies of the city financial records that were the basis of the original Shag Fund report in the That's how we found out about the weird $400,000 prepayment to American Express, which appears to have been yet another method of taking city money and running it through enough buckets that it could be used for pretty much anything Rudy and his crew wanted to use it for. Some stuff legit, other stuff pretty questionable.”

The highlighted portion is what I want to focus on. Letting press people come down to City Hall and get whatever city financial records they wanted to implicate former Mayor Giuliani, who hand-picked the present one is a pretty extraordinary thing. It would appear that the present administration is running NO INTERFERENCE AT ALL for Giuliani as this scandal mushrooms. There's no stalling, no roadblocks—in fact, the present police commissioner put rusty snow-chains on the bus that Rudy's being thrown under with this damning statement.

...But the current New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said today he knew of no problems with the delay of payments before Giuliani was mayor, when Kelly served under Mayor David Dinkins, or since.

"I don't recall anybody, any statements about delay," Kelly told reporters.

He said all bills for the police details for Dinkins and now for Mayor Mike Bloomberg are handled directly "through the police department."

This forced former Giuliani sidekick and Deputy Mayor Joe Lhota to back off a “now inoperative statement” (we call 'em lies in the 'hood) about the book-cooking:
Joe Lhota, a deputy mayor in Giuliani's City Hall, told the Daily News Wednesday night that the administration's practice of allocating security expenses to small city offices that had nothing to do with mayoral protection has "gone on for years" and "predates Giuliani."

When told budget officials from the administrations of Ed Koch and David Dinkins said they did no such thing, Lhota caved Thursday, "I'm going to reverse myself on that. I'm just going to talk about the Giuliani era," Lhota said. "I should only talk about what I know about."

The embarrassing backtrack comes as Giuliani rushed to network airwaves to defend himself against allegations his administration deliberately attempted to conceal the taxpayer cost of his NYPD protection while he engaged in secret Hamptons liaisons with Nathan, his then-mistress and current wife.

No cover, two previous administrations jail-shanking his claim that “This is how we ALL did it.”, and the present one offering up free samples like it was the girl at the mall in front of “Wok n' Roll” with a freebie platter of Bourbon Chicken for anyone walking by to sup from? Where's the camaraderie? The brotherhood? Who's enabling all this stuff to be dug up?

The guy on the right, that's who.

New York's present Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Silent as a churchmouse on this whole brouhaha—“No comment. No comment”—yet giving free rein to reporters to become an army of muckraking, campaign-damaging suppositories up the proverbial pooper for his onetime pal Rudy. The above picture was snapped yesterday as Obama took a very public “power meeting” with Bloomberg in a midtown Manhattan diner.

That does NOT look like a “friend of Rudy”. And taking a PUBLIC meeting like that at a desperate time for his political patron—a man desperate for support from his New York contemporaries—should tell you everything you need to know about what's going down with all of this. Some have floated the idea of Bloomberg's being a candidate himself—that this pictured and ballyhooed meeting yesterday signals the open consideration of an Obama/Bloomberg ticket. I doubt that. What it does signal is Bloomberg's ability to sense the political winds shifting, and wanting to have his sails trimmed accordingly (as he did in allying himself with Rudy in '01).

It was a fairly public diss of his troubled, onetime father-figure.

And his letting all who may sniff around at Rudy's dirt-dealing (Rudy must be throwing all the hotel mini-bar bottles against the wall in anger over that—REPORTERS HAVING ACCESS TO CITY HALL BILLING RECORDS?!!!!!!!!!! AAAAAARRRRRGGGH!) at this juncture is the private, but so-much-more damning diss. What other details have come out in the last 24 hours thanks to this “mi casa es su casa” policy by Bloomberg towards the press on this? Via Josh again, at TPM:

We focused on the accounting methods while the city dailies focused more on what was actually paid for. So, from looking at their articles this morning, we can get yet a fuller picture.

The Shag Fund not only paid for the 11 tryst visits to Hamptons.

-- It paid for hotel and other expenses for mayoral aides—in addition to the security detail—who also went with the mayor to the Hamptons on the tryst weekends.

—Nathan's NYPD-chauffeured trips (without Rudy) to visit her parents in Pennsylvania, 130 miles outside the city.

—NYPD detectives and city-owned undercover Dodge to drive Nathan around the city.

NYPD detectives and city-owned undercover Dodge to drive Nathan's friends and family around the city even when she wasn't in the car.

-- NYPD security detail for Nathan, personally approved by Bernard Kerik.

-- NYPD cops to walk Nathan's dog.

Yeah folks. Rudy had NYPD cops walking his mistress' Goddamned dog. And his indicted wingman pal Bernie Kerik personally signed off on it. He's pushing reporters around, churlishly stomping away from questions. Lies and backtracks galore by his spokespeople. Backstabs from “friends” with new breakfast buddies and now, now—his every shady number-fucking laid open for every shoved-around reporter to scratch at?

Gettin' a little hot 'round the
ol' grill these days, ain't it?
Pop! Pop! Pop!