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April 3, 2013

You Hate To See That Kind of Thing At This Level of Play
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 01:13 PM * 40 comments

From CNN: Corruption case a blow to GOP diversity

The details of the scandal sweeping the New York Republican Party are tawdry, sad and infuriating — and a wake-up call to a national party that is urgently seeking to make inroads among black, Latino, and young voters.

Barely two weeks after RNC Chairman Reince Priebus and New York state Republican Chairman Ed Cox held a press conference at a black church in Brooklyn to launch the party’s ambitious, $10 million diversity campaign, FBI agents arrested Malcolm Smith, a longtime black state legislator.

According to federal prosecutors, Smith spent months organizing cash bribes to two top city Republican officials in exchange for a slot on the ballot in this fall’s Republican primary for mayor. Unfortunately for Smith, a real estate tycoon he enlisted to make cash payments was, in fact, an undercover FBI agent, according to federal prosecutors

Without getting into the FBI’s habit of targeting prominent Blacks, and the question of whether anything would have happened had their guy not offered money, the question of how smart this fellow was has to be answered.

A good rule is, never do anything in secret that you don’t want to see top-of-the-hour on CNN.

I’ve been thinking of offering a service: If anyone has any questions about what to do in some case, they can call me on the phone. I’ll advise ’em. Imagine how differently things might have gone:

Bill Clinton: Hey, Jim, there’s a young lady named Monica here offering a blowjob. Should I accept it?

Me: No, Bill. Bad idea. Go see a movie instead.

Eliot Spitzer: Jim, this nice young lady is asking for four thousand dollars for a night of pleasure. Should I?

Me: Eliot, bad idea. Go see a movie instead.

Erik Menendez: Hi, Jim. Me and my brother want to shoot our parents, say it was a robbery gone wrong, and live on their money. Should we?

Me: Dude. Do you want to do life without parole? Go see a movie instead.

Bill Allen: Jim, I’ve been thinking of fixing my friend Ted’s house for free if he’ll vote for a law that gives special privileges to my oil company. Do you think I should?

Me: No, Bill. Bad idea. For both of you. What’s playing down at the Roxie?

Comments on You Hate To See That Kind of Thing At This Level of Play:
#1 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2013, 01:16 PM:

Which is not to say that I haven't made my own collection of bone-headed plays in my life. But if I'd called myself on the phone....

#2 ::: Jim ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2013, 01:25 PM:

Worth noting, in all the partisan hoopla -- "The flirtation with the Republican Party by Smith, a lifelong Democrat ..."

#3 ::: Evan Goer ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2013, 01:26 PM:

I think we could come up with a pretty good Jim Macdonald Advice Animal meme based on this post alone.

#4 ::: Dawno ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2013, 01:30 PM:

I'd like to stay out of trouble today. Can you also recommend a good movie?

#5 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2013, 01:37 PM:

Dawno @ 4...

I recorded Eric Estrada's "Chupacabra vs the Alamo".

#6 ::: Dawno ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2013, 01:44 PM:

Thanks, Serge, but I guess I'll just keep watching my Buffy/Angel marathon on Netflix.

#7 ::: aphrael ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2013, 01:55 PM:

> Smith spent months organizing cash bribes to two top city Republican officials in exchange for a slot on the ballot in this fall’s Republican primary for mayor.

One of the thigns that baffles me about this is that cash-for-ballot-access is arguably how Bloomberg was able to run on the Republican primary ballot in the last election ... it was just less *explicit*.

So I'm left wondering about how they choose who to go after for this kind of corruption.

#8 ::: Russell Letson ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2013, 02:23 PM:

Used to be the guy was only doing it for some doll. Doing it for votes is such a comedown. But that's what's playing at the Roxy.

#9 ::: Eric Scharf ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2013, 02:26 PM:

Clearly Jim is in the tank for the MPAA.

#10 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2013, 03:12 PM:

This message paid for by... rats, Eric @9 beat me to it.

#11 ::: Ken Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2013, 03:16 PM:

aphrael - Bloomberg has always been a Republican. The amazing thing is that he was able to run as a Democrat.

What befuddles me is why a charismatic Black man who offers to switch parties--even one who has no chance of winning--would have to bribe his way into the NYC Republican mayoral nomination.

If you want to put a new face on the party and you have someone who is demonstrably not Alan Keyes, Herman Cain, or that dude from Johns Hopkins--in short, someone who already demonstrated he can win elections, not lose a Senate seat to Barack Obama 74-26--you should be recruiting him, not grifting from him.

#12 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2013, 04:11 PM:

Wasn't there another post with this title a while back?

And of course, Jim, it's not that people don't know those things are bad ideas. They just think they won't get caught, which is a delusion that's harder to address.

CTTOI we don't really know how many pols ARE getting away with this kind of thing, do we?

#13 ::: BSD ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2013, 04:27 PM:

"you should be recruiting him, not grifting from him"

I don't think you understand how the NYC republican party apparatus works. It is a grifting operation. In Staten Island and sub-sub-regions of Queens and Brooklyn, they win some elections. Elsewhere, it's a completely hollow organization and the political equivalent of a vanity press. Per WNYC, the county chairmen don't even all live in their respective counties.

#14 ::: DaveMB ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2013, 05:41 PM:

Dave Weigel at Slate is not impressed by the viability of Smith's scheme -- he tweets:

Malcolm Smith's career and plotting remind me of "House of Cards," if "House of Cards" was about a moron.

#15 ::: heckblazer ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2013, 07:40 PM:

To the extant that Clinton and Spitzer were thinking at all, I'm pretty sure it wasn't with their brains.

#16 ::: aphrael ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2013, 12:36 AM:

Ken - he wasn't offering to switch parties. He was bribing them for permission to run in the Republican primary as a non-Republican, which is allowed under state law only if you have the approval of the party organization for each county.

Which is why my Bloomberg analogy; he likewise had to get permission to run in the Republican primary as an 'Independant'.

#17 ::: jenphalian ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2013, 08:30 AM:

I've long been certain that Pepper Potts sends these text messages to Tony at random intervals whenever she doesn't know what he's doing. "No, Tony, that's a bad idea." Just in case. She's usually right.

#18 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2013, 09:57 AM:

Xopher @12:

Wasn't there another post with this title a while back?

Yes:

http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/007667.html

#19 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2013, 10:09 AM:

jenphalian @17, snort. Sort of like the classic momspeak, "Whatever you're doing, stop it."

#20 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2013, 01:18 PM:

Thank you, lorax.

#21 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2013, 01:54 PM:

Russell Letson -- thank you, you just furnished Radio Central Nervous System with my earworm for the day...

"I got the horse right here, his name is Paul Revere, and if the track is fast and the weather's clear..."

#22 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2013, 02:41 PM:

"I got some tickets here for Phantom in the rear, but you can see real clear through the chandelier..."

#23 ::: Henning Michael Møller Just ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2013, 05:10 PM:

Are you really saying that if better movies were made, there would be fewer high profile screw-ups? Well, anything for better movies.

#24 ::: Megpie71 ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2013, 07:42 PM:

jenphalian@17, OtterB @19: if you believe the fanfic, she needs to do it, because Tony Stark is apparently about one over-extended "good idea" away from super-villain-dom.

For further details, see "Some Things Shouldn't Be A Chore" and its following stories. I'd certainly recommend the first story because the second chapter contains a lovely exchange between Tony and Pepper which pretty much explains the difference between the geek/engineer mindset and the rest of the world. You'll know it when you run across it; it involves roombas.

#25 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2013, 09:03 PM:

Megpie71 @21, I love that series. :) Her OCs and Coulson and Darcy are wonderful, in particular.

#26 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2013, 09:04 PM:

Me @25, I meant Megpie71 @24. oops

#27 ::: Laura Runkle ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2013, 11:07 PM:

BSD@13, you just switched earworms on me. "Gentlemen, how about some names we can use? Some qualified Republican who's willing to lose."

#28 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2013, 11:56 PM:

I want Mike here to do the Guys and Dolls send-up of this. (Well, I just want Mike here. All of us do, I bet.)

Thank you, Russell, for making me smile.

#29 ::: Russell Letson ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2013, 01:32 AM:

Hey, Jim started it. . . .

#30 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2013, 02:38 AM:

Miss Lori Coulson, who is a doll of high repute in these parts, is throwing in quotes from that mostly truthful musical, "Guys and Dolls". Rather than continuing to drink the fine liquor available to me, which is only fine when it is prohibited, I am casting my eyes over other songs from that show, and discovering something which is more than somewhat appropriate:

I dreamed last night I got on the boat to heaven
And by some chance I had brought my dice along
And there I stood
And I hollered "Someone fade me"
But the passengers, they knew right from wrong.

#31 ::: Dave Luckett visits the gnomes ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2013, 04:29 AM:

I am also remembering dialogue from this here Broadway show, and it concerns one Sky Masterson, who is what any guy who knows beans knows at once is what you call a fictional character, who opines in the following terms, like this:

"On the day I left home, my daddy took me to one side, and he said "Son... one day a guy is going to show you a deck of cards on which the seal is still unbroken, and this man will offer to bet you that he can make the jack of spades jump out and squirt cider in your ear. But son, do not bet with this man, for it is a sure thing that you will wind up with an ear full of cider.""

It is very sound advice, and there exists guys walking the halls and hustling in the corridors who are well advised to take it.

#32 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2013, 06:09 AM:

Megpie71 @ #24:

You mean being one over-extended good idea from super-villain-hood isn't normal? The more you know...

Although, usually, I go "um, no, actually, that WOULD be a bad idea" and stop just short of actual implementation.

#33 ::: Alex ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2013, 11:22 AM:

"Hi, it's George here. I don't know about you but I really wanna invade Iraq!"

#34 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2013, 10:15 PM:

Xopher in #12:
Wasn't there another post with this title a while back?

Lorax responded in #18 with a 2006-era link.

I wasn't familiar with the phrase "You Hate To See That Kind of Thing At This Level of Play" when it turned up the first time, and I'm still not familiar with it.

I presume it's something a sportscaster might say, but I am far from being a sports buff, so I don't know whether it's a common expression.

I'm also wondering whether it's a line from a movie-- perhaps something a movie sportscaster says. Or a famous quote in some other context.

Enlightenment welcome.

#35 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: April 06, 2013, 09:37 AM:

So on the one hand, you've got the FBI targeting a prominent black leader. On the other, the FBI is also rounding up a bunch of the NYC GOP leadership. And on the gripping hand, most of the public reading this story will take it (inaccurately) as "a black guy can't get onto the Republican slate without bribes." (Or worse.) You win some, you lose some...

#36 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2013, 12:42 PM:

Dave Bell -- you made me blush, kind sir! Thank you.

#37 ::: Brooks Moses ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2013, 01:19 AM:

Bill Higgins @34: Now that you mention it, I don't have much context for it beyond "it seems like a sportscaster saying," and I wonder if I'm missing something too. Google mostly finds this article and the old article and spamblog duplicates of same, but there is this amusing image to provide a hint that maybe it's not entirely original here.

#38 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 13, 2013, 02:42 PM:

Re possible origins for the post title: I agree that it sounds like something out of a game context, but would suggest that the definition of "game" be expanded to include things like bridge and chess tournaments, not just sports -- I can definitely see this occurring in response to a "beginner-level" error. OTOH, has anyone checked out classic quotes from cricket broadcasts?

#39 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2013, 03:34 PM:

What befuddles me is why a charismatic Black man who offers to switch parties--even one who has no chance of winning--would have to bribe his way into the NYC Republican mayoral nomination.

Cross-aisle corruption is actually a time-honored tradition in these parts. Bloomberg started out as a nominal Democrat - he'd be right at home in today's party - but the Republican nomination was more easily bought.

[digression about the decline and fall of the Liberal party snipped for TLDR: trust me It happens.]

The irony here is that one reason that Smith was even interested in jumping the aisle was that his career as a Democrat in state politics was finally going somewhere when he became the first Democrat in decades (and one of the few ever) to become the Majority Leader of the State Senate, and was kind of brought to a screeching halt because of colleagues jumping the aisle.

A handful of conservative Democrats (basically, three crooks and a guy so homophobic he actually picketed the public magnet school for at-risk LGBT kids with the Westboro Baptist Church who was pissed off about his conference's support of marriage equality) were - let's say influenced - by a perennial self-financed losing Republican gubernatorial candidate to jump to the Republicans and hand the Senate back to them. Smith never got the job back officially - he was a placeholder until the end of his term - and he hasn't been near any leadership positions since.

The Republicans, who only have their hold on the Senate because of aggressive redistricting and the practice of counting prisoners in Upstate prisons as residents for census purposes, are making a serious play for Democrats (one from Brooklyn is currently caucusing with the Republicans).

The really interesting part of this story is that Smith was working with Dan Halloran, a conservative Republican lawyer/City Councilman with deep local political family connections who, if he's known for anything other than the cod-neopagan norseish theodist splinter group he runs, is known for trying to cover for Mike Bloomberg's ultimately fatal mismanagement of that blizzard by suggesting that municipal employees were deliberately working slowly to embarrass the mayor. This set off multiple investigations and was found to bear the hairy fingerprints of the monkeys flying out of Halloran's ass.

The other two they got, the Bronx Republican chair and the Queens Republican co-chair, in fairness, don't really have too much else to do with their time.

Smith, in a favorite detail, is represented by John Gotti's lawyer.

#40 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2013, 04:10 PM:

Lee #38.

I can't find an actual source, but it was immediately familiar to me as the sort of thing cricket commentators would say. Not so much indicating a completely beginner-level mistake, but indicating the sort of mistake that you'd expect a national team to avoid. Contrast with "not quite ready for prime time," which describes a general standard rather than an individual lapse.

From the discussion, it sounds as though "not quite ready for prime time" might be a better characterisation of the NY state government

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