Thursday, April 24, 2014

Freedom of Speech on the Internet - only if you can pay the price

Freedom of speech for all . . . but some will be afforded more freedom than others. 

Regulations from the FCC become the law of the land, they will close the open bar that has allowed digital information to flow freely over the Internet.

They will effectively kill the concept of net neutrality. They will end the Internet boom, threaten free speech and stifle innovations from streaming media services to self-driving cars.

Net neutrality is essentially the situation under which the Internet and World Wide Web began. All traffic – video, text, email, whatever – was treated as equal digital packets. Essentially, no packet received better treatment than any other; there was no discrimination.
Paying for faster access will effectively kill off companies that can’t pay. It's a decision whose repercussions could ripple across the economy.

But now the FCC is proposing to end that equality, and with it the equal access currently granted to consumers.

Under the proposed new rules, which will be open for public comment on May 15, the FCC will allow Internet service providers such as AT&T, Comcast, Time Warner and Verizon to charge websites and online services, from Sony to Netflix, additional fees to get better, faster access to their Internet pipes. It would create a tiered system in which some sites could reach consumers more easily than others.

The FCC tried to stop such arrangements – deals in which fees and charges are hidden from the public – but lost when a federal appeals court said it does not have the authority to make such regulations because the Internet is not considered a utility under federal law.

Paying for faster access will effectively kill off companies that can’t pay. Consumers will naturally chose to use, say, an Internet search engine that takes just a few seconds to deliver a result over one that takes half a minute. The same goes for just about every other conceivable site. It's a decision whose repercussions could ripple across the economy:

It will end consumer choice
You will not be able to select which services you want to receive more quickly. You will not, for example, be able to choose to have a better connection to streaming video from Amazon over Netflix, or vice versa. No matter how much more you are willing to pay each month for a faster Internet connection, it will not change the fact that some services work well while others wallow with balky connections and tardy speeds.

It will stifle innovation
Small companies have been leveraging the Internet for years because they were treated equally and could attract customers and grow rapidly. All that was needed was a good idea and some sweat equity. Now, they will also need a lot of money to pay Internet service providers. Consequently, there will be fewer startups and fewer opportunities for new businesses.

It threatens the First Amendment
If a company can pay more to get better, faster, more reliable access to consumers and citizens, it will squeeze out smaller, impecunious sources of information and speech. There will be fewer dissenting voices online, fewer chances for an open discussion of important issues.

It threatens religious freedom
Discrimination will be effectively codified by the FCC proposal. Any ISP could decide not to allow a legal website or organization from gaining faster access to its service. One spiritual organization could get preference over another, enabling it to reach more people and drown out opposing spiritual views.

It will increase bills to consumers
Netflix has made clear that it will pass on the increased fees it pays to consumers. You can expect other companies, from music services to gigantic online retailers like Amazon, to be forced to pass along these expenses as well (indeed, Amazon has already raised its annual fee for Prime to $99). Bills could rise exponentially as each service charges more. How much more is difficult to say, because the financial terms of these deals are kept secret.

It will lead to a monopolistic Internet
Merged firms, such as the proposed marriage of Comcast and Time Warner Cable, will exert greater control over what goes over their cables and fiber, allowing them to dominate with their own content (although the new FCC rules dictate that when they favor their own sites, they must say so publicly). In other words, the Golf Channel may come in clearly on your TV, while the Tennis Channel is blurry and sputters.

Ostensibly, the FCC's excuse for this about-face is lethargy. The agency says it's pinioned by the courts, and it's just too difficult to craft new rules that might protect network neutrality.

But they need to try harder.

The obvious solution is to change the law, something Congress must do. The idea that the pipes – wired or wireless – that deliver the Internet to hundreds of millions of Americans and provide the supporting infrastructure for so much technology do not constitute a utility is antiquated at best, idiotic at worst.

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Two Rules for Success

These are the two Rules for Success . . .
  • 1.  Never reveal everything you know.
  • 2.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Bill of Rights, not the Bill of Justifiable Needs.

“Americans are not required to justify their need to exercise a fundamental right.
If the government can force you to provide a reason to exercise your right, then it’s no longer a right.” Alan Gura

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Global Warming For Beginners, or Ten Thousand Pennies

A Guest Post by Leonard Jones

I was inspired by Anthony Watts, who used stadium seats to show the quantity of the gases that make up our atmosphere. I thought it was a good effort, but that it could be made simpler for the benefit of low-information types.
I later came across an article on another blog that became the basis for my project. This line comes from Veeshir at DoubleplusUndead:

"A trace gas (less than .04, or under 4 parts in 10,000) is driving the climate more than that great glowing orb of nukular fire whose effects (noon in a desert), or lack thereof (northern cold areas), can kill you in a matter of hours from 93,000,000 miles."

That caused me to consider a simple means of pointing out what 3.5 vs 9,996.5 looks like. But first, here's a pie chart I found on the Internet showing how much of what gases are in the atmosphere:

You will note that, at less than 1 percent, Argon dwarfs CO2. In fact, CO2 doesn't even register as a thin line, hence the second pie chart showing the lesser gases. CO2 represents .035 percent of the atmosphere, which adds up to 350 parts per million, or as Veeshir put it, less than 4 parts in 10,000.
Here's what that looks like in pennies:

There are only three types of people in this debate. First are the ignorant people in this world who are scientifically illiterate and will believe anything the media tells them. Secondly, there are the honest scientists and people like me who were actually paying attention in high school science classes. Lastly are the people who are becoming wealthy selling bogus "carbon credits," like Al Gore and any scientists prostituting themselves for government research grants.

No honest scientist will ever claim that a trace-level gas, at 350 parts per million, can have any effect whatsoever on global climate. The promoters of this fraud are not only wrong, they know they are wrong.

For anyone not convinced, it gets even better. Of the CO2 represented by those 3 1/2 pennies, 96 percent is contributed by nature. So just 4 percent of that is from human activity.

(Editorial aside: Since "Weepy" Bill McKibben urges his Thermageddon acolytes to "do the math," here you go: .04 x .0035 = .00014, or 14 parts per million.) It would be like calculating the number of angels who can dance on the head of a pin. In other words, it is meaningless.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Creativity and non-conformity now listed as a mental illness by psychiatrists

 This newly defined  mental illness has a very interesting moniker - "oppositional defiant disorder" or ODD.

No, this is not a joke.  

Everyone must conform, except those who decide what it is you are to conform to.

"You Are Not Of The Body. You Will Be Absorbed."

What happens to a society when thinking outside of the box or being righteously enraged about your government going in the wrong direction becomes an excuse to be sedated and re-educated? It seems we don't have to go too far back in history to find out.

The Soviet Union used new mental illness for political repression.

People who didn't accept the beliefs of the Communist Party developed a new type of schizophrenia.

They suffered from the delusion of believing communism was wrong. They were isolated, forcefully medicated, and put through repressive "therapy" to bring them back to sanity.

Now thanks to thought policing by the American Psychiatric Association the latest addition of the DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) is setting up the dominoes for arbitrary diagnosis of any dissenting individuals.

Listed as new mental illnesses are above-average creativity and cynicism. The manual goes on to identify a mental illness called "oppositional defiant disorder" or ODD.

Defined as an "ongoing pattern of disobedient, hostile and defiant behavior," symptoms include questioning authority, negativity, defiance, argumentativeness, and being easily annoyed.

A Washington Post article observed that, if Mozart were born today, he would be diagnosed with ADD and "medicated into barren normality." What used to be known as personality traits are now diseases, and of course there are treatments available.

When the last edition of the DSM-IV was published, identifying the symptoms of various illness in children, there was a jump in the medication for children. Some states even have laws that allow protectives agencies to forcibly medicate, and even make it a punishable crime to withhold a prescribed medication.

Beware people with a strong sense of individuality! Though the authors of the manual claim no ulterior motives, labeling freethinking and nonconformity as a mental illness has a lot of potential for abuse. As a weapon in the arsenal for a repressive state, it seems societal reality is morphing into a playbook for autocrats borrowed from a Phillip K. Dick novel.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Guns everywhere? Absolutely.

Fort Hood Was A Warning of [Much Worse] Things to Come

Fort Hood shooting 2014 (courtesy

Americans are laboring under the false impression spree killings are committed by lone, drug-addled psychopaths who kill themselves the moment they face armed opposition. The most recent Fort Hood shooting fits “safely” into the latter category. Spec. Ivan Lopez was alone. He was mentally ill. He “only” killed three people. Police responded quickly enough (unless you happen to be one of the 19 people shot). So there’s nothing to see here folks, save the usual missed opportunities to forestall the firearms frenzy and individual tales of tragedy and heroism. Oh sure . . .

There have been plenty of calls to eliminate the Bush/Clinton law that transformed military bases into “gun-free zones.” Calls to roll back gun-free zones in general. But Spec. Lopez’s shooting spree is too familiar, too “small.” It doesn’t have enough “juice” to trigger any significant change in America’s self-defense strategy against terrorists or psychopaths, either on-base or off.

That’s an enormous mistake that will cost hundreds of lives. Let’s talk about terrorism . . .

9/11 was an outlier. Most terrorist attacks aren’t as involved or inventive (for lack of a better term) as Osama Bin Laden’s airliner-based plot. While the public mind is understandably fascinated by the possibility of another complicated and devastating attack, we need only look outside our territorial borders to see that the reality is more prosaic – and even more deadly. Specifically, Afghanistan.

Back in 2012, reported that IEDs (improvised explosive devices or bombs) “killed more than 600 American troops since 2001 and wounded roughly 7,000. They will continue to be a major threat in Afghanistan ‘because they are cheap, readily available, largely off-the-shelf, easy to construct, lethal and accurate,’ Army Lt. Gen. Michael D. Barbero told a congressional panel in September.

“Despite a strenuous and costly U.S. effort, the Taliban managed last year [2011] to deploy 16,000 IEDs, the main killer of Americans, and are on track to exceed that record this year.” So why not here, on American soil? Lots of reasons, from the efforts of our anti-terrorist agencies to the vigilance of our citizens to pure, dumb luck. The main thing to keep in mind: it’s only a matter of time before terrorists launch another strike in the American “homeland.”

I repeat: expecting these future terrorist attacks to be Hassan-like “lone wolf” assaults involving firearms alone, or huge catastrophes like 9/11, is unrealistic. Chances are innocent Americans will face a carefully planned, “low tech,” multi-pronged atrocity launched by a group of terrorists.

Consider the four-day bombing and shooting attack in Mumbai in 2008 and last year’s Kenya mall assault. These horrific incidents were hardly “lone gunman” affairs. And those are only the headliners. There are so many terrorist incidents per year – many of which involved multiple attackers, all of which involve planning and coordination – breaks them up into bi-yearly section (e.g., January – June and July – September).

Spree killers are less common but more apparent. At least in the U.S. But again, it’s a mistake to put these monsters in a box labeled “lone wolf.” Lest we forget, two teenagers committed the atrocities at Columbine High School. Their plan involved multiple bombs: one designed to distract local firefighters and two propane bombs that would have killed hundreds of children in the school cafeteria had they functioned properly.

Which brings me to The Mother of All Warnings for Americans: the Belsan School Massacre. It’s the best (i.e. worst) example of a recent coordinated terrorist attack on a soft target that recent history provides. During three days of terror, several dozen Chechen terrorists, many carrying explosives, took 1,100 people hostage, including 777 children. At the end, over 380 people had been slaughtered, including 186 children.

Last week’s Fort Hood shooting pales in comparison. But it highlights – again, still – the unconscionable weakness of our security against terrorists and spree killers. Spec. Lopez roamed Fort Hood – an army base – unopposed for 10 to 15 minutes. If Lopez had anything remotely resembling a plan of attack he would have killed dozens of soldiers. If he’d been part of a larger conspiracy, hundreds or even thousands of soldiers could have died. For nothing.

Yes, there is that. It’s perfectly clear that armed soldiers can withstand (i.e. counter and eliminate) both spree killers and terrorists. At the Battle of Camp Bastion, 19 Taliban infiltrated one of the largest air bases in Afghanistan. [Click here to read GQ's account of the fighting.] Brave Marines inside the base repelled the attack - despite the fact that many of them were non-combat troops and the terrorists were dressed as American soldiers.

Yes there is that.

Earlier this week, retired Army General Jack Keane told Fox News that soldiers shouldn’t be armed on base because first responders wouldn’t be able to separate the good guys from the bad guys during an attack. Anyone with even a passing familiarity with the Battle of Bastion would know General Keane is wrong. As a soldier assured me in an email to TTAG HQ, “I have no doubt that if we are allowed to be armed on base, we are capable of executing the same defensive capacity in the homeland, without inflicting massive friendly fire casualties.”

Is this true off-base as well? Of course it is. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the person or persons killing innocent people need to die, and die quickly. Nor is much cognitive power required to understand that a firearm is the best way to accomplish that task. Conclusion? The more armed Americans on-scene when terrorists or spree killers attack, the greater the chances of limiting the loss of life – whether the attack involves one killer or several, bombs or guns, or airplanes.

Will America be ready to defend the homeland during the next lethal terrorist or spree killer attack? In places where citizens exercise their natural, civil and Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms, yes, they’re ready as much as they can be. In places where gun rights go to die – schools, hospitals, airplanes, military bases, etc. – no. Anything we can do to restore, defend and extend our gun rights is a step towards a society safer from these killers.

Guns everywhere? Absolutely.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Leland Yee: Poster Boy for Corrupt California Democrats

I am among the many that are simultaneously not surprised and flabbergasted at the hubris of Leland Yee.  This scumbag, a duly elected Senator  representing San Francisco CA, and strident Gun-Control advocate, has been caught gun-running, money laundering, murder-for-hire, drug distribution, trafficking in contraband cigarettes, and honest services fraud.

One can only imagine that the goal of Yee's rabid gun-control stance was to reduce the availability of  legal firearms, hence inflating his ill-gotten profits.

Send that commie bastard back to China where he came from.

No - that is not a racist statement, Yee was indeed born in China.

Here is the complete story boiled down by the Contra Costa Times:

State Sen. Leland Yee indicted on arms trafficking, corruption charges

SAN FRANCISCO -- In a stunning criminal complaint, State Sen. Leland Yee has been charged with conspiring to traffic in firearms and public corruption as part of a major FBI operation spanning the Bay Area, casting yet another cloud of corruption over the Democratic establishment in the Legislature and torpedoing Yee's aspirations for statewide office.
Yee and an intermediary allegedly met repeatedly with an undercover FBI agent, soliciting campaign contributions in exchange for setting up a deal with international arms dealers.

At their first face-to-face meeting in January, "Senator Yee explained he has known the arms dealer for a number of years and has developed a close relationship with him," an FBI affidavit says, noting Yee told the agent the arms dealer "has things that you guys want."

Yee, D-San Francisco, highlights a series of arrests Wednesday morning that included infamous Chinatown gangster Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow, whose past includes a variety of charges including racketeering and drug crimes. Targets of the early-morning raids appeared in federal court in San Francisco on Wednesday afternoon.

A 137-page criminal complaint charges 26 people -- including Yee and Chow -- with a panoply of crimes, including firearms trafficking, money laundering, murder-for-hire, drug distribution, trafficking in contraband cigarettes, and honest services fraud.

Yee is charged with conspiracy to traffic in firearms without a license and to illegally import firearms, as well as six counts of scheming to defraud citizens of honest services. Each corruption count is punishable by up to 20 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $250,000, while the gun-trafficking count is punishable by up to five years and $250,000.

The charges are particularly shocking given that Yee has been among the state Senate's most outspoken advocates both of gun control and of good-government initiatives.

"It seems like nobody knew this was coming, and everyone is astounded by the allegations," said Corey Cook, director of the University of San Francisco's Leo T. McCarthy Center for Public Service and the Common Good. "I'm just astonished... Political corruption is one thing, but this is a whole other level."
San Francisco political consultant Keith Jackson, a former school-board president, allegedly was the link between Yee and Chow, who federal prosecutors say is the current "Dragonhead," or leader, of the San Francisco-based Ghee Kung Tong organization, spelled in court documents as Chee Kung Tong.
Chow introduced an undercover agent who had infiltrated his organization to Jackson, who with his son, Brandon Jackson, and another man, Marlon Sullivan, allegedly sold the agent various guns and bulletproof vests. The Jacksons and Sullivan also allegedly conspired in a murder-for-hire scheme requested by the undercover agent, as well as other crimes including sale of stolen credit cards and purchase of cocaine.

An FBI affidavit says Keith Jackson starting last August told one of the undercover agents that Yee was "associated with a person who was an international arms dealer who was shipping large stockpiles of weapons into a foreign country." At later meetings in August and December, Jackson said Yee had agreed to help set up an arms deal; the agent first gave Jackson $1,000 cash for his help, and later cut a $5,000 check from a bogus company to Yee's campaign.

Finally, Yee and Keith Jackson met Jan. 22 with the undercover agents at a San Francisco coffee shop, the affidavit says.

"According to Senator Yee, the arms dealer is 'low-key' and has been trafficking weapons for quite a while," the document says. "According to Senator Yee, the arms dealer sourced the weapons from Russia."

"Senator Yee said of the arms dealer, 'He's going to rely on me, because ultimately it's going to be me,'" the affidavit says. "Senator Yee said, 'I know what he could do. I have seen what he has done in the past on other products and this guy has the relationships.' Senator Yee emphasized that the arms dealer took baby steps and was very careful."

Yee told the agent that the arms dealer had contacts in Russia, Ukraine, Boston and Southern California, the affidavit says, and the agent asked Yee for a commitment. "Senator Yee said, 'Do I think we can make some money? I think we can make some money. Do I think we can get the goods? I think we can get the goods.'"

The agent told Yee and Jackson he wanted any type of shoulder-fired weapons or missiles, the affidavit says; Yee asked whether he wanted automatic weapons, and the agent confirmed he did -- about $500,000 to $2.5 million worth. Yee told the agent "he saw their relationship as tremendously beneficial," the affidavit says, adding he wanted the agent and Jackson to make all the money because he didn't want to go to jail. The agent replied he would pay Yee and Jackson hundreds of thousands of dollars over time, and more immediately would pay $100,000 for the first arms deal. "Senator Yee said 'Alright, take care.' The meeting ended."

But by their next meeting on Feb. 25, Yee had grown spooked by the federal indictment of state Sen. Ronald Calderon; the two shared a desk on the Senate floor. "Senator Yee thought the other state Senator was a classic example of involving too many people in illegal activities," the affidavit says. Pressured by the agent to arrange an arms deal, Yee encouraged the agent "to start off doing small deals with the arms dealer" with Yee as an intermediary.

"Senator Yee stated he was unhappy with his life and said, 'There is a part of me that wants to be like you. You know how I'm going to be like you? Just be a free-agent out there,'" the affidavit says, adding Yee told the agent "he wanted to hide out in the Philippines."

The agent met again with Yee on March 5, and Yee discussed a new potential arms dealer named Wilson Lim. The agent said his family in New Jersey wanted to support Yee's bid for Secretary of State, to which Yee responded, "I can be of help to you for 10 months or I can be of help to you for eight years. I think eight years is a lot better than 10 months."

Yee discussed specific locations in the Philippines and Florida that might be ideal for moving the guns, which he said would include M-16-type automatic rifles.

Yee, Jackson, Lim and the agent met again March 11; Yee said the arms deal wouldn't be done until after this year's elections. "Senator Yee explained, 'Once things start to move, it's going to attract attention. We just got to be extra-extra careful.'"

Finally, they all met March 14, where they discussed how they would break up the undercover agent's money into legitimate campaign donations. The agent told Yee he was prepared to give Yee $6,800 cash and a list of weapons he wanted; Yee replied "he would take the cash and have one of his children write out a check."

Yee ran for mayor of San Francisco in 2011 and now is a candidate for California Secretary of State. But the criminal complaint likely ruins his candidacy and further threatens Democrats' efforts to restore their state Senate supermajority that already has been broken by two other lawmakers' paid leaves of absence to deal with criminal charges.

Keith Jackson and Yee from 2011 until now allegedly solicited donations from undercover FBI agents in exchange for official acts and conspired to traffic firearms, the complaint says. Starting in May 2011, Jackson solicited an undercover FBI agent to give money to Yee's mayoral campaign, including asking the agent for donations in excess of the $500 individual donation limit. The agent refused, but introduced Jackson and Yee to a purported business associate -- another undercover agent -- who they also solicited for at least $5,000.

Yee's mayoral election loss left him with $70,000 in debt, the complaint says, and so Yee and Jackson allegedly agreed that Yee would call a California Department of Public Health manager in support of a contract under consideration with the second undercover agent's purported client, and would provide an official letter of support for the client, in exchange for a $10,000 campaign donation. Yee allegedly made the call on Oct. 18, 2012, and provided the letter on or about Jan. 13, 2013; Jackson allegedly accepted the $10,000 cash donation on Nov. 19, 2012.

Yee had yet to appear before the judge as of 3 p.m., but earlier in the afternoon the judge ordered Chow be held without bail. Government attorneys called him a flight risk and danger to the community, citing his criminal history. Chow's lawyer objected saying that Chow has been fighting with immigration authorities to stay in the United States.

Chow is not a U.S. citizen. He is being represented by public defender and lives in San Francisco with his girlfriend. He has been on electronic monitoring since he's been out of prison and seeking legal immigration stays, even during the current investigation.

FBI agents and local police served arrest and search warrants throughout the Bay Area, with agents seen in San Francisco and San Mateo and Yee's Capitol office in Sacramento.
One of the searches was at the San Francisco Chinatown office of the Ghee Kung Tong Free Masons and is linked to Chow's arrest. Outside that building on Spofford Street -- a Chinatown alley between Clay and Washington streets -- FBI Special Agent Michael Gimbel would say only that "the FBI is executing numerous search warrants around the Bay Area."

San Francisco firefighters carried a heavy rotary saw into the building late Wednesday morning; neighbors said they believe there's a safe inside the building. Federal agents removed about 10 boxes of documents and several bags of material from the building at about 12:30 p.m., and the FBI left the scene soon after that.

Federal law enforcement officials have been chasing Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow for decades, branding him one of the longtime Bay Area leaders of a Hong Kong-based criminal syndicate called the Wo Hop To. Chow's criminal rap sheet dates back to 1978, and includes federal racketeering indictments that have alleged attempted murder, murder-for-hire, gun trafficking and other crimes.

Chow was originally indicted in a federal racketeering probe that targeted the alleged leader of the Chinatown gang, Peter Chong. At one point, Chow cooperated with federal law enforcement officials against Chong, who had fled to Hong Kong after being indicted on racketeering charges but was later extradited and convicted in San Francisco federal court in a case marred by setbacks and delays. Chow's original 1995 sentence of 24 years was cut to 11 years as a result of his cooperation, and he has been out of prison for 10 years.

During an afternoon press conference, State Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, said "Leland Yee should leave the Senate and leave it now."

Yee represents San Francisco and a portion of San Mateo County. Before becoming the first Chinese-American ever elected to the state Senate in 2006, Yee was an assemblyman from 2002 to 2006; a San Francisco supervisor from 1997 to 2002; and had been a member and president of the San Francisco Unified School District board. While in the Assembly, he was the first Asian-American to be named Speaker pro Tempore, essentially making him the chamber's second-most-powerful Democrat.
That power would have been exercised this year in Yee's run for Secretary of State against state Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Van Nuys; Democrat Derek Cressman; Republican Pete Peterson; and nonpartisan Dan Schnur.

Upon pulling his candidacy papers in February, Yee issued a news release saying it was time for a Secretary of State "who will expand access to the ballot box, make our government more transparent, and strengthen California's democracy."

"I am committed to empowering Californians so that they can guarantee fair elections, expose special interests and prevent corruption, because it's your California," Yee said at the time. Yee campaign spokesman Joaquin Ross declined to comment Wednesday morning, saying he would have to call back.

Yee is the state's third Democratic legislator recently targeted in corruption allegations. In February, State Sen. Ron Calderon, D-Montebello, surrendered to authorities after being indicted on bribery charges. In January, state Sen. Roderick Wright, D-Inglewood, was convicted of voter fraud and perjury stemming from a 2010 indictment.

Cressman, who until last June was vice president of the nonpartisan government watchdog group Common Cause, Wednesday morning said that charges against Yee must be "a wake-up call" given other Senate Democrats' legal problems.

"We are clearly beyond the point of looking at one bad apple and instead looking at a corrupt institution in the California Senate," Cressman said. "The constant begging for campaign cash clearly has a corrosive effect on a person's soul and the only solution is to get big money out of our politics once and for all." Schnur, a longtime GOP campaign strategist who more recently served as chairman of the state Fair Political Practices Commission and directed the University of Southern California's Unruh Institute of Politics, said news of Yee's arrest "is yet another in a series of reminders of why Californians have so little trust in their elected officials.

"My hope is that this will prompt the Legislature to take much more aggressive and meaningful action to fix a broken political system than they have been willing to do to date," Schnur said.

Yee emigrated to San Francisco from China at age 3; his father was a veteran who served in the Army and the merchant marine. Yee earned a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley; a master's degree from San Francisco State University; and a doctorate in child psychology at the University of Hawaii. He and his wife, Maxine, have four children.

Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Hillsborough, served with Yee for several years in the Legislature but was never close to him. She said the senator is innocent until proven guilty but called the allegations "regrettable." "It's always sad for all of us in the profession," said Speier, "to see individuals who lose sight of what the public trust is all about."