Sunday, December 31, 2006

Deadliest Year In Journalism

As we discuss the top stories of 2006, it is appropriate to remember those that brought us these stories. Especially the brave men and women in journalism that lost their lives for their passion.

With a few hours to go before the New Year, at least 155 journalists have been murdered or lost in the line of duty. The International Federation of Journalists which represents over 500,000 journalists, released their statistic earlier today.

The International Federation of Journalists report can be found here, below are a few selections from the article.

During the year the numbers began to accumulate with civil strife and resistance to military occupation in Iraq. The IFJ says media became prime targets of terror attacks or victims of poor soldiering. By the year’s end, 68 media staff had been killed, bringing to 170 the number killed in the country since the invasion in April 2003.

The first place that comes to mind is Iraq. The bloodshed is more and more terrifying as the days go on. The same can be said for those that cover the war. Particularly disheartening is how so many were killed by our own troops.

The focus once again is on Iraq, where the IFJ has been campaigning vigorously over impunity in the killing of journalists. For the last three years the IFJ has organised a day of protest on April 8 – the day in 2003 when three journalists died under US fire in Baghdad. There have been 19 such killings in Iraq and in all these cases media organisations and victims’ families are still waiting for independent and credible reports about what happened.

The fact that the families of the fallen can not get the truth out of the Pentagon is abhorrent. Where is the accountability? Where is the outrage? This is something the investigations of the upcoming Democratic Congress needs to focus on.

Other conflict zones such as Oaxaca, Venezuela and Columbia claimed 37 lives. The Philippines and Sri Lanka saw the loss of 34 journalists. Even if they hadn't lost their lives, it is still a dangerous place, as points out.

The hostility towards the press can be felt outside identified conflict zones. The tragedy that befell Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya:

Novaya Gazeta editor Dmitry Muratov said that on the day of her murder, Politkovskaya had planned to file a lengthy story on torture practices believed to be used by Chechen security detachments known as Kadyrovites which are loyal to pro-Moscow Prime Minister Ramzan Kadyrov. A day after Politkovskaya was found dead, police seized her computer hard disk and material she had assembled for an investigative article; the story may now never be published. Additionally, Muratov said, two photographs of the suspected torturers have disappeared.

Simply incredible, where do these stories disappear to?!?

With all this doom and gloom, what is there to do? Well the UN has started taking action. On December 23rd a resolution was passed unanimously to hold governments more accountable in protecting journalists. Will the resolution help? Time will only tell. Yet something needs to be done to stop all this killing.

I'll leave you with a few faces that the journalism community lost this year and a more complete list of the fallen here.

Paul Douglas (May 2006)

Mwamba Bapuwa (July 8, 2006)

layal najib (July 23, 2006)

Anna Politkovskaya (October 7, 2006)

A Day In The Life of Joe Republican

I love this story, it should be repeated often and wherever possible

Joe gets up at 6:00am to prepare his morning coffee. He fills his pot full of good clean drinking water because some liberal fought for minimum water quality standards. He takes his daily medication with his first swallow of coffee. His medications are safe to take because some liberal fought to insure their safety and work as advertised.

All but $10.00 of his medications are paid for by his employers medical plan because some liberal union workers fought their employers for paid medical insurance, now Joe gets it too. He prepares his morning breakfast, bacon and eggs this day. Joe’s bacon is safe to eat because some liberal fought for laws to regulate the meat packing industry.

Joe takes his morning shower reaching for his shampoo; His bottle is properly labeled with every ingredient and the amount of its contents because some liberal fought for his right to know what he was putting on his body and how much it contained. Joe dresses, walks outside and takes a deep breath. The air he breathes is clean because some tree hugging liberal fought for laws to stop industries from polluting our air. He walks to the subway station for his government subsidized ride to work; it saves him considerable money in parking and transportation fees. You see, some liberal fought for affordable public transportation, which gives everyone the opportunity to be a contributor.

Joe begins his work day; he has a good job with excellent pay, medicals benefits, retirement, paid holidays and vacation because some liberal union members fought and died for these working standards. Joe’s employer pays these standards because Joe’s employer doesn’t want his employees to call the union. If Joe is hurt on the job or becomes unemployed he’ll get a worker compensation or unemployment check because some liberal didn’t think he should loose his home because of his temporary misfortune.

Its noon time, Joe needs to make a Bank Deposit so he can pay some bills. Joe’s deposit is federally insured by the FSLIC because some liberal wanted to protect Joe’s money from unscrupulous bankers who ruined the banking system before the depression.

Joe has to pay his Fannie Mae underwritten Mortgage and his below market federal student loan because some stupid liberal decided that Joe and the government would be better off if he was educated and earned more money over his life-time.

Joe is home from work, he plans to visit his father this evening at his farm home in the country. He gets in his car for the drive to dads; his car is among the safest in the world because some liberal fought for car safety standards. He arrives at his boyhood home. He was the third generation to live in the house financed by Farmers Home Administration because bankers didn’t want to make rural loans. The house didn’t have electric until some big government liberal stuck his nose where it didn’t belong and demanded rural electrification. (Those rural Republican’s would still be sitting in the dark)

He is happy to see his dad who is now retired. His dad lives on Social Security and his union pension because some liberal made sure he could take care of himself so Joe wouldn’t have to. After his visit with dad he gets back in his car for the ride home.
He turns on a radio talk show, the host’s keeps saying that liberals are bad and conservatives are good. (He doesn’t tell Joe that his beloved Republicans have fought against every protection and benefit Joe enjoys throughout his day) Joe agrees, “We don’t need those big government liberals ruining our lives; after all, I’m a self made man who believes everyone should take care of themselves, just like I have”.

By John Gray Cincinnati, Ohio - - Published July - 2004
Printable version:
Click here!


Its heartening to know the folks at NY1 got their stuff together over there. All these years I thought the Governor was located in Albany....silly me.

Hat tip to The Daily Gotham and Dan Jacoby for the find.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Today's Lesson in DoubleSpeak

Anything that comes out of a Bush Administration mouthpiece has to be questioned. If Tony Snow said it's going to be cold and snowy, I'll dress in shorts and a T-Shirt. That's why the exchange between CNN's Ed Henry and Fatherland Homeland Security Department Adviser Fran Townsend didn't surprise me one bit.

CNN Transcript:

HENRY: But now as 2006 ends, Osama bin Laden is still at large. Heading into 2007, how confident are you that he can be brought to justice this coming year?

TOWNSEND: Well, there's no question in my mind that he'll be brought to justice. The real question is whether or not it's going to be this year. I will tell you that I feel increasingly confident, you know, it was interesting. There's a recent poll and the American people said 71 percent of them were optimistic that we can protect the country.

And I think they've got reason to be optimistic. We've made a lot of progress. They see the progress we've made. We've disrupted plots. We've made reforms in our system, in our security system. So on bin Laden, do I think we are going to get him? I absolutely know we're going to get him.

The question is will it be this year. And I will tell you I think there's increased activity both the part of the CIA, JSOC and our partners, the Pakistanis.

HENRY: You know, going back to September 2001, the president said, dead or alive, we're going to get him. Still don't have him. I know you are saying there's successes on the war on terror, and there have been. That's a failure.

TOWNSEND: Well, I'm not sure -- it's a success that hasn't occurred yet. I don't know that I view that as a failure.
---My emphasis in bold

Success is failure and failure is success. Orwell couldn't have written it better himself.

A Victory For Net Neutrality

It seems that AT&T is caving to pressure from the FCC and bloggers that are fighting the telecomms that wish to curtail freedom on the internets. Good they saw the light before getting a real fight.

Some of the concessions from the upcoming merger via WetMachine:

1) Network neutrality is required in its fullest form. AT&T cannot prioritize or degrade service based on third party payments or affiliation anywhere between the peering point and the residential “last mile.” So not only has the definition of network neutrality been solidified consistent with that advocated by Save Our Internet and others, but it has been extended from the last mile to the vertically integrated backbone.

2) Residential fixed WiMax is included in the definition of “last mile.” This is the first time net neutrality has ever been applied to a wireless network.

3) AT&T must divest the 2.5 GHz spectrum it would acquire from BellSouth. This addresses a concern raised by Media Access Project and others that AT&T/BS would have an overwhelming spectrum advanatage against other wireless players.

4) AT&T has an agressive build out schedule to provide DSL at 768 KBPS for $19.95/month throughout its coverage area.

5) AT&T agrees to numerous conditions that amount to a return to tariffs and price caps for telecom and DSL resellers and special access (commercial) customers. AT&T can no longer lock competing local exchange carriers (CLECs) or DSL resellers in non-disclosure agreements.

Bonus: AT&T agrees to “repatriate” 3,000 jobs BellSouth had shipped overseas and locate at least five hundred of these “repatriated” jobs in New Orleans.
Great news for the last workday of the year!

Gates Opposes The Escalation

In public newly appointed Defense Secretary Robert Gates stands behind the President, as he serves at his leisure of course. Nonetheless it has been reported by anonymous Administration officials that Gates opposes any additional troops being sent to the quagmire and civil war that is Iraq.

It is obvious to us here that the escalation is a crazy deja vu of Vietnam and completely unwarranted. It is obvious to the troops and of course the American people know it more and more each day as the death toll climbs higher.

From the New York Sun:

WASHINGTON — With President Bush leaning toward sending more soldiers to pacify Iraq, his defense secretary is privately opposing the buildup.

According to two administration officials who asked not to be named, Robert Gates expressed his skepticism about a troop surge in Iraq on his first day on the job, December 18, at a Pentagon meeting with civilians who oversee the Air Force, Army, Navy, and Marines.

Right from the get go the new Defense Secretary knew that the idea was irresponsible. No additional amount of troops is going to make a difference in the increasingly bloody civil war. The only thing that an escalation can do is increase the death toll of our brave men.

These comments of Gates that defy President Bush have mostly been kept low and out of sight. It is up to the Democrats to pull it out of him and the generals and get it as testimony in front of the new Democratic House and Senate.

The Sun's Eli Lake also seems to hint at this:
Before taking over as defense secretary earlier this month, Mr. Gates had been a member of the 10-person Iraq Study Group, also known as the Baker-Hamilton commission. That group has warned against a long-term buildup of forces in Iraq, arguing it would lessen pressure on the elected government in Baghdad to reach a political accommodation there, which the commission says is the only way to stabilize the deteriorating nation.

That's the way many of the Democrats preparing to take over Congress see things as well. Yesterday, in a conference call with reporters, the incoming chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Joseph Biden, a Democrat of Delaware, said he would launch three weeks of hearings on Iraq in January in part to persuade Republicans to go to the White House to oppose a new troop surge for Iraq.

Hopefully he will forget about the strange presence behind his back when he swears an oath to tell the WHOLE truth.

That is what has to be done. This surge escalation needs to be forced off the table and subsequently embarrass the President, furthering his lame duck status. The last thing we need to do is put more of our soldiers in harm's way when there is absolutely no reason they should be there in the first place. It is time to get out now!

Hussein to Hang

U.S. officials (whomever they are) have been told Saddam is going to be executed before Sunday or as early as today. The idea is that the Shia gov't wants to get the job done before the religious holiday of Eid. Since it is a holiday, Saddam is fully prepared to go out as a martyr in a last gasp attempt (yes, pun intended) to stoke Sunni insurgents to fight harder against the Shia and the American troops that are being kept in the middle by our own tyrannical glorious leader.

From the NY Times:

After upholding the death sentence against Mr. Hussein on Tuesday for the execution of 148 Shiite men and boys in 1982, an Iraqi appeals court ruled that he must be sent to the gallows within 30 days. But Mr. Hussein may not have even that long to live, officials said.

A senior administration official said that the execution would probably not take place in the next 24 hours, but that the timing would be swift. “It may be another day or so,” the official said.

So the once powerful Saddam will be no more, as Iraq descends farther into it's chaotic civil war. Now Saddam will meet his fate..... and his lover.

If you are confused please refer to South Park

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Fucking our country

This video isn't exactly G-rated, no nudity but parents might want to shield their children's young innocent eyes. Definitely worth watching for the laugh.

And Edwards Makes Three

Ok so he's the fourth candidate to be considered in the race, but who really counts Vilsack? No offense to the governor, but lets be realistic. Due to an email glitch he announced a day early to keep the story straight with his staffers' snafu. Of course this can hardly be called news as most people knew he was going to throw his hat into the ring again this cycle.

From New Orleans, he released this video on YouTube to announce his candidacy. Edwards has been talking a lot about poverty and bring our Red/Blue society back towards a 'One America.' The former Senator has been criticized in the past as being too green, though this doesn't really apply anymore IMO.

With all the commotion over Obama and Clinton, it was the right time for Edwards to get the ball rolling towards 2008. The Newsweek cover from last week picturing Hillary and Obama put the media's coverage into crystal clear vision about who is being highlighted early on in the race. If I were on the Edwards campaign, I'd be steaming that John's signature smile wasn't right in the middle of the other two.


Btw, just found my picture on the Edwards site, sad to say the photographer didn't get the money shot I was hoping for.

Newsflash: Global Warming is for real!

There are plenty of naysayers out there that try and fight the reality that mankind is destroying its environs. People like Senator James Inhofe, Big Oil and the like keep on sipping the kool-aid that makes them believe everything is A-O.K. no matter how much greenhouse gases they put in the air.

Well it seems for the first time we have lost a formerly inhabited island off the coast of India. Lohachara once had over 10,000 people. Now it is gone, forever, at least until the next ice age or if a nuclear holocaust inadvertently causes one. Don't think it will stop there either, whole island nations will be swallowed up by the rising seas.

From the UK Independent:

As the seas continue to swell, they will swallow whole island nations, from the Maldives to the Marshall Islands, inundate vast areas of countries from Bangladesh to Egypt, and submerge parts of scores of coastal cities.

Eight years ago, as exclusively reported in The Independent on Sunday, the first uninhabited islands - in the Pacific atoll nation of Kiribati - vanished beneath the waves. The people of low-lying islands in Vanuatu, also in the Pacific, have been evacuated as a precaution, but the land still juts above the sea. The disappearance of Lohachara, once home to 10,000 people, is unprecedented.

The article highlights the island chain that Lohachara was once a part of. Seventy thousand people live on these islands and in a matter of years they will all be made homeless. This is not a joke people, Global Warming is for real.

And don't think that just because this is happening in India that it can't happen to communities all over the world. If you are in the majority of inhabited areas that are by the coast, watch out for rising seas near you.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Prince Harry goes to war, where are our Princesses?

In case you haven't heard, Prince Harry is reportedly getting ready to go fight in Iraq with his cavalry squad this spring. After a big New Year's bash 'Haz' is joining his fellow troops to start training for battle in the mess that is Iraq.

Many different papers across the United Kingdom are printing the story as the news comes from his long-time girlfriend shared the Prince's intentions to serve his country. Now as an American, the first question that pops into my head is....where is Barb and Jen?

From The Sun:

Officially, the Ministry of Defence insists that a final decision about whether second lieutenant Harry will be allowed to fight in Iraq has yet to be made.

The Prince has always said he is determined to do battle with his 100-strong unit, A Squadron of the Blues and Royals — part of the Household Cavalry.

They begin a six-month tour of Iraq in the spring. And before that, they are expected to take part in war games and exhaustive preparations for conflict.

The decision over the young Royal is deemed so important it will be made by the Army’s top man, Chief of the General Staff General Sir Richard Dannatt.

Now the article does note that the Ministry officials are hesitant to send Harry into a high-risk situation. This is especially true considering a soldier of his status can attract un-due attention for the 100-man force.

The Times did an article about this in the spring:

But a defence source told The Times: "We can’t have a situation where Prince Harry’s presence draws enemy fire." He said that the Army hierarchy faced a huge problem as Prince Harry’s unit, The Blues and Royals of the Household Cavalry, was set to go to Iraq next year. The MoD had a "duty of care" towards every member of the Armed Forces. If Prince Harry’s presence in an operational area attracted undue attention, "we will have to see what mechanics might be needed to deal with that".

Clarence House said: "Prince Harry is very clear that he is joining the Army, and the Household Cavalry in particular, to serve his country as an operational soldier. On occasion, there may be some circumstances in which his overt presence might attract additional attention and increase the risk for his regiment and for himself. In these instances, it is a judgment call which would principally be made by his commanding officer."

As the article in the Times notes, Harry is very determined to fight and threatened to resign if he isn't allowed to see action.

Also from the Times article:

Prince Harry said in an interview to mark his 21st birthday last year: "There’s no way I’m going to put myself through Sandhurst and then sit on my arse back home while my boys are out fighting for their country . . . That may sound very patriotic but it’s true."

On this side of the pond the royals have a much different attitude. Though to be fair, their father did tell us to shop or else the terrorists will win. The twins are certainly not letting their father down. Seriously though, it is time they leave their ridiculously lifestyle and show that they stand behind Daddy's unjust and illegal war. Now get your uniform and head for basic training, before you know it you'll be facing the hell that George sends the 'volunteer' army into every single goddamn day.

And no, these aren't the helmets they should be wearing.

Now this is my kind of Xmas


A Capitalistic Christmas

Well it is finally over I am glad to say. The holiday marts around the city have closed, all that is left is the after-Christmas madness where all the stores try to dump their left-over merchandise. I'll be avoiding Midtown Manhattan at all costs for a few days, though if I do have to trek through it I'll walk fast and be sure not to trip over the gawking tourists that haven't gone home yet.

It will be interesting to see the reports from the retail world on how the season went for them all. Our economy runs on service and retail now and a good report on Wall Street will prop up the well-to-do's earnings and keep the hollow American economy going for now. Of course the manufacturing sector has been wiped out and globalized off to China and developing countries so many of the former employees of those sectors are left out on their arse.

Plenty of economists protest that globalization is the way and this is part of the change that will make America great and blah blah blah. Yet the way it is happening helps no one but the rich. Free trade isn't the answer, fair trade is. We need real change that helps everyone, so cut the trickle-down economics shit and start looking to help all boats rise and not just your own.

Ok, enough ranting for now, I hope everyone had a nice, quiet day-off yesterday, whether you celebrated Christmas, Hanukkah the week before, Kwanzaa, Boxing Day (today) and any holiday you might observe.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Ed Koch Slams Bigoted Dennis Prager

Former NYC Mayor Ed Koch is certainly not my most favorite person in the world. Yet by calling out Dennis Prager for the racist bigot that he is certainly scored a few points in my book. Both men are on the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council and Koch wants Prager off of it for his vitriolic remarks towards newly elected Congressman Keith Ellison (D-MN). Prager has been spewing his hatred over the idiotic issue of using the Quran to be sworn into office next month.

CNN did a culture wars segment highlighting the issue. The transcript can be found here and the ever-reliable Crooks and Liars has clipped the video of it:

Prager states that he wants the bible in the private ceremony along with the Quran. Koch calls it a stupid act and a bigoted act, which it most certainly is.

The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council seems to be distancing themselves from Prager as well, from the video:

As for the Holocaust Memorial Museum's position, it released a statement saying, "Talk show host Dennis Prager speaks solely for himself. His statements do not reflect the position of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, whose board is not self-appointed."

I certainly hope that Prager's days are numbered at the organization. The council should be about tolerance for all religions, not just Judaism and Christianity. The only thing I can't tolerate is the narrow minded thinking that is practiced by Prager and those like him.

This Time The Employer Pays The Price

This story is just too good to be true. Despite how you may feel about the giant fence being built on our border with Mexico, it is hard to not see the hypocrisy that bursts at the seams in this story.

Melvin Kay and Michael McLaughlin, two Golden State Fence Co. executives are facing the forfeiture of 4.7 million dollars and jailtime. Their crime was knowingly hiring illegal immigrants to build the barrier between the U.S. and Mexico. This story is a rarity because corporate executives usually get away with their illegal hiring practices while the only people that suffer consequences are those that are doing whatever they can to make a living in the U.S.

From the San Diego Union Tribune:

The admission by Riverside-based Golden State Fence Co. involves what a federal official said is the largest penalty brought against an employer in this type of criminal prosecution.

The case also is one of the few in which employers of illegal immigrants face prison, said Michael Unzueta, special agent in charge of the San Diego office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

"This is the largest criminal forfeiture in a work site case that I'm aware of," said Unzueta, who asked his staff to research similar cases.

"Nobody can put their finger on another case where a corporate officer actually did jail time," he said.

Everyone is in shock that the people doing the hiring are finally paying the price for their actions. Well kudos to the ICE for prosecuting the real criminals in this one instance.

More from NPR:

After an immigration check in 1999 found undocumented workers on its payroll, Golden State promised to clean house. But when followup checks were made in 2004 and 2005, some of those same illegal workers were still on the job. In fact, U-S Attorney Carol Lam says as many as a third of the company's 750 workers may have been in the country illegally.

Golden State Fence built millions of dollars' worth of fencing around homes, offices, and military bases. Its president and one of its Southern California managers will pay fines totaling $300,000. The government is also recommending jail time for Melvin Kay and Michael McLaughlin, probably about six months

So it took seven years of raids for the Feds to get it that Golden State Fence Company didn't feel like changing their practices. They kept promising to change their ways while lying through their teeth. Now, not only are the two execs looking at a huge loss of cash and a short six month stint in prison, but the manager will have to cough up $300K in fines.

If you clicked the link for Golden State Fence you see their nice looking website that shows little cute fences for homes in the Southern California region. They don't announce it too loudly, but they also do the work for the U.S. Border Fence and military installations.

The Golden State website also posts this garbage on their website:

Golden State Fence Works to Ensure Legal Status of Employees

Maintaining a workforce that includes only citizens and legal residents of the United States is a challenge for all companies, especially those in the construction industry. Golden State Fence has taken a number of important steps to ensure that all its employees are legal residents. Since December 2005, Golden State Fence has voluntarily participated in the Basic Employment Verification Pilot program run by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Through this program, all of our new employees are screened by the government to help verify their legal immigration status. Participation in the Basic Pilot Program has enabled Golden State Fence to verify the status of all new employees, while deterring those with fraudulent documents from applying for work.

Golden State Fence has also implemented intensive training workshops for all employees involved in the hiring process. Regular internal I-9 audits are conducted by an outside firm, providing our hiring and administrative staff with the information they need to do the best possible job of maintaining compliance with immigration regulations.

The company has conducted extensive outreach to hire legally documented workers, including recruitment through the State Unemployment Office, through military veteran employment agencies, community colleges and adult education schools.

An established procedure for responding to annual Social Security "No-Match" letters will also help to ensure our ability to reconcile any apparent record discrepancies.

The company holds it contractors and subcontractors equally accountable for their hiring practices, in keeping with the same high standards as Golden State Fence.

Golden State Fence encourages other companies in the fencing business to also participate in these government programs as this creates a level playing field in the industry and is the best way to reassure our customers that we are providing dependable service with legally documented workers.

However in the interest of fairness, the company's lawyer had this to say:

Golden State Fence's attorney, Richard Hirsch, admits his client broke the law. But he says the case proves that construction companies need a guest-worker program.

From now on, if the government wants to try and deal with laborers coming from Latin America and elsewhere to work in this country they better start with the crooked employers like Golden State Fence Co.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Just another reason why KO is my hero

Another excellent story on Countdown shows how clueless Tony Snow'job' is at being White House Press Secretary. Apparently working at FoxNews for so many years has impaired his brain from receiving and transmitting facts. The Roger Ailes school funded by Rupert Murdoch as trained a fine student for the reality-avoiding Bush Administration.

Video is on C&L and here's the transcript.:

Hillary's off to New Hampshire

Hillary is one of my Senators so I don't have any problem with absence from the Granite State for the last ten years. What I do worry about is the N.H. Dems inviting her up to headline their top fundraising event called the '100 Club' that is coming up in the next couple months.

Yeah I know, she's one of the biggest fundraising magnets out there, ex-First Lady, up and coming junior Senator down here in the Empire State, yada yada yada. Though the importance of New Hampshire can not be downplayed. From this angle the choice screams of playing favortism among the presumptive Democratic candidates for 2008.

I can hear your question already, "Who should chair this important fundraising event? Obama, Edwards, _____(insert other names here)?" My answer is none of them. People we are a national party and we shouldn't pick sides like that. In case you have forgotten, we just took back the two congressional seats that NH sends to Washington. Why not invite the freshmen? They are part of the future of the party. Speaking of the future, why not spark some interest in the people willing to put themselves out to take over the NH senate seat that Sununu currently occupies. According to Politics1, Portsmouth Mayor Steve Marchand and ex-Gov. Jeanne Shaheen who lost to Sununu in 02' in a highly controversial election seem to be in the running.

The whole thing stinks of 'business as usual' in national politics and that really hasn't helped the Democratic Party in the past. Now it is time for a different way.

No Christmas at FoxNews

Despite all the ranting and raving of O'Lielly about fighting against the secularists in the War on ChristmasTM, the war is already lost over at NewsCorp. This year's party is nothing more than a holiday trip that welcomes all (with company ID of course).

In fact there is no mention of Christmas, none at all. Zip, zero, zilch! It is still going to be a whacko-fest to be sure. I couldn't imagine being at that stuffy part in Midtown Manhattan this friday night from 6:30 to 11pm. I could hardly stomach seeing Hannity amid a neutral crowd back in June. Being around O'Reilly, Hume, Bill Kristol, Roger Ailes, Rupert Murdoch and all the other blowhards would probably throw me into convulsive shock.

Oh, you're wondering how I know the date and time of the party, well look down at the graphic I got a hold of.

Not only is the invite as secular as can be (and it is the real deal in case you were wondering), the planner of this event made it into a flying themed party, where guests have to 'clear customs' to get in and their flight returns at 11pm. WTF is that? The 'airline' listed on the invite is Air Media, which departs from KRM International Airport that oddly shares the same address as the New York Hilton on 54th St. between 6th and 7th Av. hardly enough room for an actual plane to take offS. I certainly don't see any runways on this map. So whats the deal with speaking in tongues?

Well it seems that at News Corp parties are not to be outdone, no expense spared. It is a worldwide conglomeration so it isn't surprising to see a world class party being thrown. What you can't see on that image above is the five page addendum to the invite (though it is mentioned on there) that shows the extravagance of it all. According to the source there are apparently several ballrooms in the Hilton that have different themes (think multi-level clubs with different music on each floor).

Most importantly there is no pro-Christmas party at the "leader in propraganda" News Corp because Murdoch wants to spite O'Reilly or some BS like that. The real issue is that News Corp is a multi-national company and Rupert realizes that many of his employees around the world don't celebrate Christmas. In business you gotta try and please everyone to the best of your ability. Besides those right-wingers never practice as they preach anyways. Why would we expect anything different now?

Of course this could have been the reason too:

Can't you see the scrolling headline now?

One last thing, after Hannity lands at the imaginary Midtown airport, he's going to head up to Vermont to ski and try to make fun of the locals.

Big H/T to Fred for pointing me to this

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Chock up another one for the Dems!

Look down at the bright blue district along the Rio Grande and you can see Ciro Rodriguez's astonishing victory last night.

From CNN:

The run-off win that sent incumbent Henry Bonilla down in flames gave the Democratic Party another huge win and a larger margin in the House than the Republicans have had in pver fifty years, including the so-called Gringrich Revolution of 1994. Eat your heart out Newt, that revolution is six feet under now.

Check this article out by BriVT from Daily Kos:

Now, the numbers ... the Democrats, after Ciro's surprise thumpin' of Bonilla last night, now have 233 seats in the House. After the 1994 election, the GOP had 230, which drifted down before rebounding some in the last couple years and peaking after the Texas redistricting in the 232 they had last Congress. But the Democrats overcame all that redistricting shenanigans to post a larger majority than the Republicans had during all that time of the "Republican Revolution."

In fact, since the Great Depression ended the 19th Century's political map in this country, the GOP has had as many as 233 seats exactly once, when they had 246 in that 1947-8 session.

And it could get worse for Republicans. They won, iirc, 14 of the 23 seats that were within 2 points last election. Plus, the big takeaway from yesterday's election is that Hispanics are truly turning away from the GOP in droves.

The win has been attributed to Bonilla supporting GOP efforts to build a giant fence across the border, resulting in the Latino vote going heavily for the soon to be democratic freshman Ciro Rodriguez. Hispanic Business has more on this particular difference between the candidates.

Congratulations to Ciro and goodluck in the 110th Congress next year!

Obama Announces?

This is great material, from Crooks and Liars:

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Jefferson kept off Ways and Mean Cmte!

Well it was nice to read a piece of good news today amidst all of the chaos around the world. Apparently Speaker Pelosi has denied newly re-elected Rep. Jefferson (Criminal-Louisiana) from the influential Ways and Means Cmte.

Jefferson may have gotten re-elected in the run-off this past weekend but Democrats in the leadership do not want his ilk in prominent positions.

Good Job Nancy!

From the article:

House Democrats, insistent that they will hold lawmakers to higher standards, decided Tuesday that Rep. William Jefferson (news, bio, voting record) will not return to an influential committee until a federal corruption investigation involving him is completed.

Speaker-to-be Nancy Pelosi said the Democratic Steering Committee had resolved that Jefferson, who last Saturday won a runoff election in his New Orleans district, will not be given back his spot on the Ways and Means Committee, the panel that determines tax and trade policies.

This follows Democrats decision earlier in the year to strip him of his committee assignment while still in the minority.

For more on Jefferson's legal status check out TPM's dossier on his impending doom.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Blood Diamonds Are Forever

An incredible movie came out this weekend called "Blood Diamonds" with Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Connelly and Dijmon Hounsou. The film calls to attention the terrible atrocities committed in Africa over conflict diamonds and the world that consumes them. Most people who buy diamond jewelry have no idea where those precious stones come from, especially the ten to fifteen percent that are 'blood diamonds'.

Although I already knew most of what the movie brought up in regards to the Sierra Leone conflict and how the world ignores the situation, the graphic portrayal is hard not to shake it's viewers to the core.

DiCaprio himself was astonished by the realities behind the film. A recent Chicago Sun-Times article interviewed the star and asked about the impact filming the movie had on him:

He just can't help it. After five months spent in Africa shooting "Blood Diamond," superstar Leonardo DiCaprio can't forget the images of the people he saw.

"These are people who suffer and you're not human if it doesn't move you," DiCaprio says. "Then you come back to your own home in the United States with many things on your mind. Most of all you realize that we live a very nice life here."

Q. Did you know about the diamond trade in Africa before you did "Blood Diamonds"?

A. "I was like anyone else. I had heard whispers of it, but until I got there and until I read the script and started to do the research, I didn't really quite understand the immense impact these diamonds had had on certainly Sierra Leone and other places in Africa. I certainly had heard the Kanye West song, for example. I had heard bits of all of this in conversation, but it really wasn't until I got to Africa and heard the firsthand accounts and started to read the books and learned about it all that I really realized what was going on, what had happened."

I heard a few people in the theater say that they were going to do more research as it seems to be new information for many Americans that are saturated with 'Diamonds are Forever' messages. Unfortunately for me I left with a sad, cynical feeling. Plenty of people already know that thousands of Africans die needlessly everyday across the continent. The problem is people in the 'western world' are desensitized to the tragedies. Unless people are compelled to try and make a difference today, the reality of conflict diamonds will just be heaped on to the image that Africa is a mess and then slowly forgotten. I seriously doubt many women who have been taught from childhood to desire a two or three carat stone will go without it when their to be husband pops the big question. Of course there are exceptions to that rule and some that already dismiss the need for the sparkly stones. Yet the jewelry business has nothing to fear from people who see the movie.

I hate to leave the post on a somber note, so get informed and most importantly as a consumer you have the power not to buy the stones. Diamonds are forever only because De Beers and other diamond companies try to make you believe that.

The "I" Word and dKos

There are plenty of impeachment diaries around these days here on dKos, many of which seem to respond to Markos' post a couple of days ago. It pissed a few people off and I am proud to say I am one of them.

I sang 'Impeach the President' at a CSNY concert in August and felt the incredible energy of the crowd that repeated the words right along with me. It is now time to follow through with those lyrics and include the shotgun-crazy loon that helps pull his puppet strings. I wholeheartedly agree with the slew of diarists that have called for the rule of law to be followed, to do the right thing, restore civility to the nation and to make peace with the world that has grown to hate our actions. It does not matter if you say it from New York, scream it out loud in Kansas or write about it from France. It must be done, it is that simple.

From the post by Kos:

In a perfect world, we could do all of the above. But we don't live in a perfect world. And the second we start impeachment proceedings, the media will focus on that. Heck WE'LL focus on that, and the Democratic legislative agenda will fade into the background, ignored. A perfect opportunity to brand the Democratic Party in a positive light will be forever squandered.

So what is more important, proving that we can govern and making the case for future Democratic majorities? Or a high-profile vendetta campaign against Bush? It really is just one or the other.

It's an easy call.

Now I find it is an easy call, and I call for impeachment. The problem with the either/or argument is that we can do both. Effective government makes sure that the rule of law is followed and criminals such as Bush are tried for their injustices based on what the Founding Fathers placed inside the Constitution. It isn't about an a vendetta, it is about doing what is right. This does not mean that we have to pass on our economic and foreign policy agenda. Forget about the time concerns as well, Congress will be working longer hours now despite Republican cries to keep the five day weekend.

Here in the United States we have suffered enough under Bush's tyrannical rule. Now that we have majorities in the Congress we must clean house. The reasons for demanding Bush/Cheney's impeachment can go on forever. Signing statements, an unjustified war that has claimed tens of thousands of lives (if not hundreds of thousands), lying to the American people and illegally wiretapping are just a few. This lays out the case perfectly.

Yesterday in New York many people commented onseeing Cindy Sheehan and others speak on behalf of impeachment at the NYSEC on the Upper West Side.

Later today there will be many events to participate in across the country to support the cause, including the one I am going to be attending up at Columbus Circle this afternoon at 4pm. I can't wait to hear the fiery and passionate voices of Cindy Sheehan, John Nichols, Carolyn Ho and many more. I encourage everyone to participate in this noble cause on Human Rights Day. What a perfect opportunity to stand up for those rights by calling for the ouster of the man that opposes the freedoms we hold so dearly.

Stay tuned tomorrow night for part two covering/photoblogging this afternoon's events.

One last thing, please remember that:

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Obama vs. The Third Tier

This may not be a fair comparison between Presidential hopefuls but this example is indicative of Obama's rising star power. This weekend in New Hampshire both Sen. Obama and Sen. Bayh are going to be up in the granite state. Though only one has sold out his events.

From the Boston Globe:

Both Senators Evan Bayh and Barack Obama will be in New Hampshire this weekend. While staff members for Bayh may have to scramble to find 50 people to show up for his three events, Obama has a guaranteed audience of 2,225.

Now I don't want to turn into a candidate troll, continually trumpeting Obama's highlights yet against Evan Bayh it really isn't hard to pick sides among the two. Sen. Bayh just doesn't mesh with my progressive politics and he hasn't been much of a leader in the Democratic Party, nor put up much campaign cash in the last election cycle. He took in plenty of money and spent plenty, but the percentage given to federal and non-federal candidates is minimal at best.

One last thing. The media is all over him and it is still 2006. As long as he drops little nuggets like these, the press will fawn over him for a long time to come

Friday, December 08, 2006

Obama's Experience

When sizing up the probable 2008 Presidential candidates, many of Obama's detractors point to the fact that he has only served two years (four by 2008) in the U.S. Senate following a stint in the Illinois State Senate.

Rich Miller of the Chicago Sun Times points out that another President that hailed from the state of Illinois had a similar amount of experience before running and winning the Presidency....way back in 1860. That's right, Abraham Lincoln served eight years as an Illinois State Rep. before being elected to the U.S. Congress for one term. Miller makes some great points in his article:

My dad has been pushing for an Obama presidency since before Obama was elected to the U.S. Senate.......

The experience issue is less of a problem for me. Abraham Lincoln's sole governmental experience was eight years in the Illinois House and just two years in Congress, yet he was one of our greatest presidents. Besides, more "experience" wallowing through the disgusting cesspool that is Washington may only hurt Obama, not help him.

Voters are growing tired of the stench in Washington these days. In fact the American people threw out a lot of the garbage last month, giving both chambers of Congress back to the Democratic Party. However the Bush Administration will fight hard against the new agenda and especially against the re-assertion of Congressional oversight that will restore the Legislative's branch's duty to provide checks and balances on the Executive's power.

In two years America will want to continue changing the political landscape by ridding Washington of the remaining Republican greed and excess, not to mention the debacle in Iraq. Obama has always been against the war where others have only recently changed their views (Edwards, Kerry, etc) and one remains a hawk (Hillary). The only other person that has been against the war from the start is Al Gore, who has continued to say he won't run.....for now.

In my book Obama is the man for the job, but I will happily take a Gore/Obama ticket when it comes time to replace George Bush on November 4th, 2008.

Do Democrats Hate Families?

Congressman Jack Kingston (Republican-GA) believes it to be true. He believes that Democrats don't care about his family or any Congressional member because of some new House rules being imposed by incoming House Majority Whip Steny Hoyer.

"Marriages suffer. The Democrats could care less about families -- that's what this says."

What could Democrats do that warrants this accusation you ask? Well it seems that new Majority Whip Steny Hoyer wants Congress to have a FIVE DAY WORK WEEK!!!! I thought it was unbelievable too when I read it. I mean, doesn't everyone deserve a job that starts on Tuesday night and ends Thursday afternoon??? Roy Blunt who used to be the Majority whip before the Republicans took their thumping from last month's elections was a much better boss when it came to time concerns.

Obviously Steny Hoyer isn't aware that the obligation of a Congress(wo)man is to spending every waking moment trying to fundraise for the next election to hold onto power. Conducting the people's business you say? Meh! You damn idealists. Now those poor 435 souls will have to work hours like the rest of us, sort of at least.

Even Fox News network host John Gibson took issue with the (lack of) work ethic of Congressman Kingston. The press inside the beltway felt differently, as seen during Steny Hoyer's press conference the other day :

"I have bad news for you," Hoyer told reporters. "Those trips you had planned in January, forget 'em. We will be working almost every day in January, starting with the 4th."

The reporters groaned. "I know, it's awful, isn't it?" Hoyer empathized.

Starting the year on the 4th of January?!?!?! The first two weeks of the month are meant for vacations, not to deal with the wintry D.C. weather. Instead of laying on a beach somewhere off to the south, Republicans will have to endure the Democrats legislative agenda. The first 100 hours will be especially brutal.

Day One: Put new rules in place to "break the link between lobbyists and legislation."

Day Two: Enact all the recommendations made by the commission that investigated the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Time remaining until 100 hours: Raise the minimum wage to $7.25 an hour, maybe in one step. Cut the interest rate on student loans in half. Allow the government to negotiate directly with the pharmaceutical companies for lower drug prices for Medicare patients.

Broaden the types of stem cell research allowed with federal funds _ "I hope with a veto-proof majority," she added in an Associated Press interview Thursday.

Speaker Pelosi obviously hates the families of lobbyists, though she continues on:

All the days after that: "Pay as you go," meaning no increasing the deficit, whether the issue is middle class tax relief, health care or some other priority.

To do that, she said, Bush-era tax cuts would have to be rolled back for those above "a certain level." She mentioned annual incomes of $250,000 or $300,000 a year and higher, and said tax rates for those individuals might revert to those of the Clinton era. Details will have to be worked out, she emphasized.

"We believe in the marketplace," Pelosi said of Democrats, then drew a contrast with Republicans. "They have only rewarded wealth, not work."

"We must share the benefits of our wealth" beyond the privileged few, she added.

Are you as shocked as I am? Our country is certainly going down the tubes now. Rewarding wealth over work has been the American way least for me, I was four months old when Ronald Reagan took over.

The Death of a New York Icon

This isn't an obituary of anyone you know in New York, nor is it a history lesson about Fiorello La Guardia or Boss Tweed. The New York icon I am talking about is dying a slow death right here in our midst. The victim is the Ash tree. The culprits are greenhouse gases. The slowly warming climate is eliminating the habitat for these trees that helped build New York City in it's infancy.

These trees once dominated the landscape before the Empire State and Chrysler buildings do now.

The New York Magazine had a good article on global warming and the effects on New York. It goes into more than just the decline of the Ash (El Nino, Hurricanes, etc) so please read more here. Some excerpts concerning the Ash tree below:

....its time is about to come to an end. In recent years, foresters have quietly decided not to plant any new ash trees. Why? Because the city is becoming too warm and dry for them, and they’re dying off. Green and white ash, our local varieties, are classified as "hardiness zone three or four," northern trees that prefer moist, well-drained soil. New York used to be like that, 200 years ago—but the temperature in the past century has risen over two degrees, and it’s getting drier every year. "Last year we had stretches without rain that were practically six weeks long," says Neil Calvanese, vice-president of operations for the Central Park Conservancy, which maintains the park. And the warmer weather has introduced new wood-eating bugs that afflict the tree. Normally an ash will live 250 years, but this summer Calvanese had to chop down a majestic 130-footer when it stopped thriving. "Ash in the park," he says, "I really don’t see as having much of a future."

So he’s decided to let the ash slowly die off. An urban forester has to think decades into the future, and the city’s only going to get hotter and hotter. Instead of the ash, city foresters are starting to plant trees like the persimmon, which thrives in southern climates like Washington’s or even Atlanta’s. Because that’s what the future of New York looks like, weather-wise: There will be fewer and fewer wooden baseball bats and church pews—but plenty of reddish-purple persimmon fruit.

One of the only places to see these trees in the city reminiscent of the old days is up by the Ravine in the North Woods section of Central Park. A few places in the park offer complete isolation from the constantly humming city and this place is one of them.

The warming climate has enabled the Emerald Ash Borer to survive in what were harsher environs. Those wood-eating bugs mentioned in the article aren't only a problem in the city but in many other states as well. The little guy seen below has killed 20 million Ash trees in the midwest as well.

The emerald ash borer's small size and concealed destruction make it more difficult to identify than another exotic pest, the Asian longhorned beetle, which destroys several types of hardwood trees and set off panic when it was found in the Chicago area in recent years.

Today didn't feel like Global Warming was much of a problem. An 18 degree wind chill this morning felt quite bitter to this SoCal native. Though all we have to do is take a step back and see that the big picture shows how much the climate is changing and doing so more and more quickly as time goes on.