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: