Nov 22, 2008

New Pencil Test

Here's a very rough pencil test for the sleeping Chitra. The yeti is surprised when Chitra snuggles against him, but he gingerly puts his arm around the boy. More work needed; not bad for a beginning.



Nov 6, 2008

I just saw this...

The blurb next to the Al Capone story in the last post (from the PA newspaper) is this:


Sure makes you miss the Depression, huh?

Al Capone and the Law

Last night I watched The Untouchables, and it got me wondering what the deal was with Al Capone's real defeat. Primarily, the movie's apparent inability to distinguish between a subpoena and an indictment (they referred to a '22 count subpoena' that could give Capone '27 years' in prison). (For those of you who don't know the difference, a subpoena is a formal command by a grand jury to appear in person (or, duces tecum, with documents) as a witness to help the jury decide whether they will issue a formal indictment, or charge, of a crime. A subpoena tells you to show up and talk. An indictment tells you that you're going to be tried.) Additionally, when it comes out in the movie that Capone is trying to bribe the jury, his attorney says that they would like to change their plea from 'not guilty' to 'guilty,' causing Capone to jump up and try to attack him. That would absolutely not happen, since a court requires a defendant to swear that (s)he entered into a guilty plea on his own conscience, without pressure, and with the advise of counsel. I don't know if that's how it worked in 1931, but that's how it works now. Either way, those issues raised the questions.

So, the indictment against Alphonse (Al, "Scarface") Capone was passed down on June 5, 1931. It contained 22 counts of tax evasion and tax fraud for the years 1925-1929. The Feds apparently wanted to go after 1924 as well, but the statute of limitations was only six years, so they were too late in 1931. I couldn't find the text of it anywhere (including WestLaw), but I found a link with some of the text of some of the counts.

Here is a Uniontown, PA paper on the indictment:



Back then, internal revenue laws were passed every year (there was no 'tax code'), and income taxes were only levied on those making more than $5,000 per year. An interesting fact is that, under the 1926 revenue law, tax evasion was considered a felony, while after 1928 law, it was simply a misdemeanor. That is why, when Capone was found guilty on five counts (three felonies and two misdemeanors), he received a total sentence of 11 years (two 5-year felonies served concurrently, one served independently, and two misdemeanors totalling 1 year).

Here are the relevant texts:
  • "...any person who willfully attempts in any manner to evade or defeat any tax imposed by this title or the payment thereof, shall...be guilty of a felony" (Sec 1114(b), Revenue Act of 1926 , 44 Stat. 116).
  • "Any person required under this title to pay any tax, or required by law or regulations made under authority thereof to make a return...for the purposes of computation, assessment, or collection of any tax imposed by this title, who willfully fails to pay such tax, make such return...at the time or times required by law or regulations, shall, in addition to other penalties provided by law (i.e., fines) be guilty of a misdemeanor" (Sec 146(a), Reveune Act of 1928, 45 Stat. 835).
And here is a copy of the guilty verdict, signed by the jurors.

Fun fact: the judge at the case, refused Capone's original guilty plea, which would have given him 2.5 years in prison; he also changed the jury last-minute due to fears that the original jury had been bribed.

Capone then appealed on habeas grounds, a great discussion of which can be found on page four of this essay. h/t Bill Long

Nov 5, 2008

It's Finally Over, and Yet, Just Beginning...

picture h/t thestate.com

This election is finally over, and I have returned to blog. It looks like my neighbor, Barack Obama, will be the new president and that it will now be completely impossible to travel on 51st St. between Drexel and Kimbark, once the Secret Service has its way.

Some thoughts:

It is very exciting, for anyone of any political stripe, that America has passed this symbolic threshold. Having someone with his story, a true 'melting pot' in human form, could only happen here. In that sense, I'm very proud both of him and in the American people for taking this step.

McCain was gracious in his exit. His speech was beautifully written and delivered, and he clearly meant it. That's what made John McCain so impressive in the first place. It's what will make him more than a fleeting blip in American history. I think this line should be repeated and quoted often:
I would not be an American worthy of the name should I regret a fate that has allowed me the extraordinary privilege of serving this country for a half a century. Today, I was a candidate for the highest office in the country I love so much. And tonight, I remain her servant. That is blessing enough for anyone.

Now the question will be what happens in an Obama presidency. For two years now, he's been talking about 'change,' without defining it well. He needs to do so. Appointing Rahm Emanuel is not very promising, since he about as bitingly partisan as it gets. What will be his priorities upon taking office? Will he extend his theme of unity into a Cabinet and Administration through thoughtful, Republican (and of course, Democratic) appointees? I trust that he will. I hope that he will.

Today, I think, it was clear that President Bush is tired and ready to be done. In his congratulations of Obama, he was also honest and gracious. I think he'll give Obama an easy transition (having experienced a difficult one between himself and President Clinton), which would be an honorable exit. I hope Obama treats him with civility and respect, since he deserves as much. He's been abused by all sides for years and will continue to be, I'm sure, for the early months of an Obama presidency. That would be a shame. He's the past now, and Obama is the future.

It's good for America that Democrats did not win a filibuster-proof Senate. The Wall Street Journal mentioned a few months ago that the 'world's greatest deliberative body' tend to 'go on binges' when one party has that much power. With Nancy Pelosi's iron grip on the House, it is good that Harry Reid doesn't get one as well. It appears that Norm Coleman beat Al Franken in Minnesota (thank heavens), though a recount will tell us in a week or so. Gordon Smith may have held onto Oregon, though only 75% of the returns have come in as of this writing. Saxy Chambliss has a runoff in Georgia on his hands. He will likely win that, since the vote that turned out for Obama won't be there in as large numbers as on Election Day.

All in all, though an electoral rout, when it comes to the House, Senate, and popular vote, Republicans are in a similar position to Democrats in 2004 (which left them with a 55-45 Senate Minority, a 232-202 House minority, and a 52%-47% loss for president). Obama won by about the same margin (perhaps 53%-46%). The House will be more strongly Democratic (roughly 252-182, maybe a little more). That doesn't really affect legislation, however, since House rules are so restrictive that a simple but strong 5-vote majority can limit debate. The Senate will be roughly 56-44 for Democrats. A few liberal Republicans (Olympia Snowe, Arlen Specter, et. al.) could help Dems with cloture, but that will require Harry Reid to give in a little bit. Joe Lieberman will likely be stripped of his chairmanship. Maybe he'll switch over to the Republican side to join his friends, Sens. McCain and Graham. What I'm saying is that, though it was a bloodbath of sorts, it is not the end for Republicans. It's a Chancellorsville, not a Gettysburg; a rout, but not a nail in the coffin.

So, I offer my (insignificant) congratulations to Senator, now President-Elect, Obama and Senator, now Vice President-Elect, Joe Biden.