Or so they say in journalism. Of course, the wingnut o'sphere does not even come close to anything resembling journalism. Not even a faint cry from what the mainstream media has become today. To the media's credit, they did break the story on the terrible conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. The scandal created a huge firestorm that resulted in two generals being fired and the Army Secretary resigning.
With the White House in crisis mode, Bush is doing anything he can to look like a leader after the last six years of merely paying lip service to the hundreds of thousands of troops he has unjustifiably sent into harm's way. The media and the blogosphere has been on the case for two weeks now, but where are the right-wing blogs speaking out for the troops that they claim to support?
Well Jesus' General made this nifty little chart to show all the posts about the scandal on the right:
Wow, four fuckin' posts from those wingnuts that claim the left hates the troops. The same garbage that comes from those that cheer on the war without actually having the guts to serve on the front-line, or any line for that matter. For them it is back to the keyboard to type out their hate and their lies.
Saturday, March 03, 2007
Or so they say in journalism. Of course, the wingnut o'sphere does not even come close to anything resembling journalism. Not even a faint cry from what the mainstream media has become today. To the media's credit, they did break the story on the terrible conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. The scandal created a huge firestorm that resulted in two generals being fired and the Army Secretary resigning.
No, this isn't about Kurt Vonnegut's latest novel. This is a story about a diplomat who realized what he was doing for the British government was morally wrong and that he needed to make a change. Carne Ross was a man who negotiated deals for Great Britain for over 15 years and realized that he could do more with his life. He went from a promising career by holding the status quo and then did everything he could to fight it. He spoke against the war and how intelligence was used to bring this 'war' about. He thoroughly debunked the WMD claims as a man on the inside.
Ross has been ostracized by his former employers in London for doing the 'right thing.' Instead of being a diplomat for one of five nations on the UN Security Council, he sits at the table for the voiceless, for the countries that have had little chance at negotiating favorable deals on the world stage and for people that don't even have a nation-state to call their own.
From The New York Times:
Unhappy with American and British claims that Iraq was developing unconventional weapons, Mr. Ross testified in June 2004 at an official inquiry into the British government’s use of intelligence. Two months later, convinced he could no longer work in the foreign service, he resigned. Since then he has written many articles criticizing the American and British rationale for going to war.
But it is his broad critique of the way international diplomacy is conducted that has ruffled feathers the most.
In a book released in April, “Independent Diplomat: Dispatches From an Unaccountable Elite,” he takes the foreign service to task. He says it routinely made “bad decisions in closed rooms” and acted “with little or no consultation of the people in whose name those decisions are made.”
When he made this revelation and wrote his book, he knew that he was meant for something different. With all of the bad decisions his government had made, he sought to fight against the machine and make a difference in the world for those that could barely speak. He became a diplomat for the voice-less.
He formed a non-profit organization called the Independent Diplomat named after his book. He has fought for the people of Kosovo and the rights of ethnic Albanians. Recently he has also taken up the charge to help the Polisaro Front. Not too many people even know who they are. The group is made up of 150,000 refugees camped out in southern Algeria. They are Sahawari refugees that want a homeland in the western Sahara to be carved out of Morocco.
Mr. Ross's goodwill has been noted by the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust and Richard Whitman, who is a fellow at the Chatham House. Unfortunately despite his fans, many of his former colleagues have disowned him.
Also from the article:
The British government has also chipped away at Mr. Ross, saying he has exaggerated his role on Iraq policy and his access to intelligence about unconventional weapons. “I am not sure how important he was,” Margaret Beckett, Britain’s foreign minister, recently told the BBC, although Mr. Ross was Britain’s official Iraq expert at the United Nations for four and a half years.
Carne Ross's critics are powerful forces in the world and especially hard on him because he used to be one of them. For people like the Foreign Minister of the United Kingdom and others around the world with similar titles, Mr. Ross is certainly one to be feared. The name of the game is to increase the power of the powerful at the weak's expense. So when a man that knows the game because he used to play it so well switches sides, he is definitely one to watch.
No one can deny that Johnny Cash was a tough guy among tough guys. Along with his perceived machismo, it is hard to say that this man didn't have an opinion on war. This video shows Cash in 1971 singing 'Man in Black.'
Tonight at CPAC Ann Coulter was cheered on by the Republican crowd for her vicious remarks against liberals. She railed on Hollywood, Al Gore and Barack Obama. She saved her most tasteless remark for Senator John Edwards.
"I was going to have a few comments about John Edwards but you have to go into rehab if you use the word 'faggot,'" Coulter said.
That type of vile language has no place in politics. Plenty of mud is slung in the political discourse but that is simply over the top. Republicans have let her open that cesspool of a mouth for far too long and over time she continually out-does herself to get a laugh from the people that think like her but are too afraid to have the 'original' thoughts that Coulter expresses.
Many groups were quick to denounce her remarks. The Human Rights Campaign slammed her, the Democratic Party addressed it, even right-wing whacko Michelle Malkin expressed disapproval. The Edwards campaign was also quick in their response. Campaign manager David Bonior set up a 'Coulter Cash' link that is dedicated to raising $100,000 to show that her vitriol has no business being in a political forum. You can donate to the fund here.
Meanwhile the media largely ignored the hateful comment. Only Dana Milbank of the Washington Post mentioned it in passing. Other media publication conveniently skipped over the fact that her anti-gay slur was met with cheering approval of an audience that shows it's true colors when grouped together. We can only hope that the candidates that these people admire will be quick to throw her under the bus....where she belongs.
The Congressional district in particular is Tennessee's 9th. Memphis is the major city in the district and is represented by Steve Cohen. Check this clip out as Colbert asks Rep. Cohen on his rejection from the Congressional Black Caucus among other issues:
Friday, March 02, 2007
The fact that our troops are sent in harms way without adequate equipment and body armor is something to shame even the most hardened soul. What is worse than that is what the Pentagon did today when they fired the commander of Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
It was the right thing to do to fire him for the terrible conditions at the Maryland facility. It was absolutely wrong to replace him with Lt. General Kevin Riley. Riley's current position is as the Army's Surgeon General. His previous post was at....Walter Reed Army Medical Center, while the problems were ongoing!
From the Washinton Post:
Steve Robinson, director of veterans affairs at Veterans for America, said he ran into Kiley in the foyer of the command headquarters at Walter Reed shortly after the Iraq war began and told him that "there are people in the barracks who are drinking themselves to death and people who are sharing drugs and people not getting the care they need."
"I met guys who weren't going to appointments because the hospital didn't even know they were there," Robinson said. Kiley told him to speak to a sergeant major, a top enlisted officer.
A recent Washington Post series detailed conditions at Walter Reed, including those at Building 18, a dingy former hotel on Georgia Avenue where the wounded were housed among mice, mold, rot and cockroaches.
Kiley lives across the street from Building 18. From his quarters, he can see the scrappy building and busy traffic the soldiers must cross to get to the 113-acre post. At a news conference last week, Kiley, who declined several requests for interviews for this article, said that the problems of Building 18 "weren't serious and there weren't a lot of them." He also said they were not "emblematic of a process of Walter Reed that has abandoned soldiers and their families."
So tell me, how does one claim these people support the troops while those that expose this shit hate America? What will it take for the wingnuts across the country to see that the real enemies of the troops at home are the ones that are supposed to take care of them. People like Kevin Riley, and people like George Bush.
The Albany Project has the story on NY's own Louise Slaughter's call for Riley's immediate removal.
Al Sharpton has been in the news recently after genealogists found that his great-grandfather was owned by relatives of the late-segregationist and dixiecrat Strom Thurmond. He was definitely shocked to find out the information, but it gave him (and us) an opportunity to talk about the divisions in America and for many to realize that slavery isn't that far behind us.
With the tragic conditions at Walter Reed continuing to be on display in the media, President Bush is finally addressing it almost two weeks after the Washington Post broke the story on the squalid conditions that some of the hospital's veterans endure. As usual, George Bush made claims that he was going to seriously look at the problems that veterans face with their health care that the government provides. What he will actually do in reality is another story.
Bush proposed to name a bipartisan commission to look at all the government's facilities. He will even devote his weekly radio address to veterans' care. So let the talking begin, while real action languishes. Despite the rhetoric, Bush's record in the last six years is atrocious when it comes to taking care of those that serve our nation in combat. The Veterans Adminstration has seen deep cuts over the years and now it can be seen that even the army has cut funding for the care of the wounded. Those cuts are hard to justify with their ever-increasing budget that the President and until recently, the Republican Congress has granted them. With over half a trillion dollars in their budget in addition to the hundreds of billions spent on the war, we still see that our nation's soldiers are mistreated and abused.
If the President wants to really do something, he will cut back the funds that go to military contractors and fully fund the VA. Then he will force the Pentagon to adequately fund (if not go above and beyond) the hospitals that care for the thousands that have been wounded by his illegitimate war. Of course, the President is talking this weekend but somehow I don't see much action in the future.
This week Eliot Spitzer fired off an ad likening the Greater New York Hospital Association and 1199 to crybabies over his new health care reforms. He was met with a returning salvo over the airwaves. Today the battle reached new heights with Spitzer's presentation of his plan to the Association for a Better New York.
With the leaders of his opposition in attendance, he featured a powerpoint slide that claimed they were “Guardians of the Status Quo,” and continued to say that each of the Hospital Associations claims were 'flat out wrong.' The entire audience, save for 1199 and the Greater New York Hospital Association stood and applauded the Governor's presentation. Later on the ad wars resumed and Spitzer's opponents unleashed an ad with a nurse replying to Eliot, saying that she was no crybaby.
Let the wailing continue, and we'll see how it all works out in the end.
New Orleans was left in shambles following the devastating impact of Hurricane Katrina. We all know that the disaster preparedness plan was nearly non-existent. We know that the government failed New Orleans and the region in the days, weeks and months following the hurricane. The problems still continue.
I visited New Orleans in October and saw a city in shambles. Sure there was some activity in the Vieux Carre, the Garden district and downtown, but besides that the city has a long way to go. The Crescent City lost half of its population after Katrina, yet for the half that still resides down there there is no justice system.
Out of the hundreds of thousands of residents that scattered across the country, most of those that worked in all facets of the justice system were part of that exodus. Many of the public defenders and court employees are gone, only a few fighters remain to provide legal services for a battered system that predominantly hurts the poorest of the community.
One example of this is Iben O'Neal:
Iben O'Neal, 32, languished in a New Orleans jail for a year and a half after his arrest in 2005, without seeing a lawyer, judge or the inside of a courtroom.
"I actually felt like I wasn't going to get out," he told ABC News' Steve Osunsami. "I was lost."
O'Neal was arrested May 19, 2005, on a charge related to simple drug possession. He remained in jail three months later when Hurricane Katrina flooded the courts and the rest of the city. He finally walked out of jail in November 2006, after a group of young lawyers discovered his records and convinced a judge to release him.
"There are a lot of people been in there a couple of years, man, and never been to court," O'Neal said.
The Justice Department concluded in a recent study that many people are stuck in the system. Defendents have extreme difficulty obtaining a trial, even if to plead guilty. There are many cases like Mr. O'Neal and many people that are active in getting justice for those frozen by the lack of services say there isn't much being done.
A USDOJ press release tried to refute the situation on the ground on January 25 of this year. The fact sheet details $61 million in funding to get the justice system up and running. Nevertheless, where is the proof that this money is working?
What makes matters worse is where the trickle of federal money is going. Not surprisingly, a sizeable chunk of those dollars are funding the reconstruction of the prisons first. One parish has already spent $5 million on a temporary facility with a pending request of $57 million to rebuild the jail to its original size.
Pamela Metzger is trying to make a difference in this sordid situation. She recently started Project Gideon, which is trying to get every criminal defendent sufficient counsel for their cases. She has already helped nearly 1,000 people to get out of their legal jams while fighting the lack of a justice system. In the ABC News article linked above, she had this to say about New Orleans justice:
"Think about trying to call the court and write the court to say, 'When do I see a judge' and there's no answer because no phone picks up," Metzger said. "There were no phones."
When asked if that's still the case now, she said yes.
Of course, this contradicts the rosy picture the federal government tries to portray in their program to re-build the region. They have a litany of examples that show they care and things are getting done. Of course with many things associated with the Bush Adminstration, what is said on paper usually contradicts reality.
Thursday, March 01, 2007
John Oliver 'argues' that Cheney isn't really human after all. Before I thought that he was merely a recreation of the penguin from Batman but it seems that I was wrong.
Forget the fact that he married his second cousin. It doesn't really matter that he had an affair with his staffer before divorcing his second wife. During the time of 9/11 he lived with several gay roommates, another inconsequential fact. When it comes to the wingnuts, facts can be swept under the rug. Though I don't know if anyone makes a broom big enough for this video:
Last week Barack Obama was pounded by the press over a statement he made concerning the troops over in Iraq. He said that their sacrifices were a waste, then he quickly corrected his remark by saying that while no troop's life is a waste, it is still wrong that they are in Iraq. Here it is in quotes:
Obama, in an interview with the Des Moines Register right afterward, told the paper, ''I was actually upset with myself when I said that, because I never use that term,'' he said. ''Their sacrifices are never wasted. . . . What I meant to say was those sacrifices have not been honored by the same attention to strategy, diplomacy and honesty on the part of civilian leadership that would give them a clear mission."
Despite the quick retraction and correction, the press jumped all over the Democrat from Illinois. Can this be brushed off as intrepid journalism, questioning the candidate that might say something negative about our armed forces? Well if you apply the same standard to John McCain then I'd have to say that you are wrong.
From the Houston Chronicle:
"Americans are very frustrated, and they have every right to be," McCain said. "We've wasted a lot of our most precious treasure, which is American lives."
Looks like someone hates the troops, call out the rightwing hit squads, someone is attacking our troops' valiant mission in Iraq. Oh, you mean the noise machine only comes out against Democrats? It isn't about principles or having ethical guidelines? It seems like it is just another day for that lib-url media going after conservatives for the smallest things while lauding the Democrats. Give me a *&$%#@ break!
After so many years of being bashed by Republicans, Hillary sought to find a centrist middle ground in the Senate. The junior Senator reached out across the aisle to many Republicans to work on legislation. One of those Republicans was Newt Gingrich. You might even remember the two of them teaming up to work on health care. This was only a few short years after he helped lead a charge to smear the then First Lady's failed bid to provide Universal Health Care shortly after Bill became President.
So what does Newt do after she reached out to him and other Republicans to build a consensus?
Well Newt certainly had some nice words for Hillary and the Clintons in general. This came from the New York Post this morning:
March 1, 2007 -- Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich yesterday called Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton "a nasty woman" who runs an "endlessly ruthless" campaign machine.
The conservative Republican made the surprising comments - after months of taking care not to trash the Democratic presidential front-runner - in a wide-ranging New York Post editorial-board interview.
Asked whether Americans are ready to elect Rudy Giuliani - a leader, the questioner noted, whom Ed Koch had called a "nasty man" - Gingrich shot back, "As opposed to a nasty woman?"
Oooooh, a nasty woman. That is quite the intellectual commentary coming from a man with a history of nastiness. Anything else to add Newt?
"Nobody will out-mud the Clintons," said Gingrich, who added that he'll decide in the coming months whether to run for the White House.
He called Clinton's political team one of the most "talented" in U.S. history, but "endlessly ruthless."
"You can't beat them tactically . . . They're too relentless, they're too well-organized, they have too big a machine and they'll just grind you down," he said.
"If they think [Obama] is a real threat, they'll just grind him up."
Ouch! Ground-up Obama? That sounds painful. Seriously though, for someone would only run for President next year on the most remote of chances, why bother making harsh commentary like that? Why would the liberal bashing NY Post want to interview him? Perhaps he is trying to look like a tough guy with all the doubt surrounding Giuliani and McCain.
I think that Newt is seriously underestimating Barack Obama and the un-mentioned John Edwards. The nasty backbiting campaign tricks from years past are wearing thin on voters. Now would be a great time for candidates such as Obama and Edwards to rise above this type of viciousness and show the American public that politicians can rise above the mud-slinging.
Newt has no business in the Democratic primary and he should really stick to his own side. Hillary can sling mud all she wants, but when it comes down to it Democratic voters are going to see her stance on the war and weigh their decision heavily on that, not what Gingrich says about her.
The practice of political back-scratching has been going on for many years now. It should come as no surprise to see it going on in 2007 up in Albany. Governor Spitzer's quest for reform strikes fear into the hearts of legislators that are used to doing business as usual for quite sometime. So when a corrupt Republican gets together with a Democrat who have both been comfortable in the New York State Senate for many years, the motivation for such a move isn't hard to find.
Senator Carl Kruger of Brooklyn was recently appointed to head the Social Service Committee. The position pays Kruger an additional $12,500 a year and affords him the power that a chairman naturally acquires. The question is, why would Joe Bruno appoint a Democrat while the Republicans still hold the majority (albeit a slim one) in the Senate? Let's take a look, shall we?
Bruno and Spitzer have been in a political war since late last year when the governor-elect picked one of Bruno's GOP Senate colleagues, Michael Balboni of Long Island, to become the state's homeland security czar. Spitzer then called a special election for Balboni's Senate seat that was won on Feb. 6 by Democrats. That cut the size of Bruno's GOP majority in the 62-member Senate to just 33 members.
Bruno insisted Wednesday that Kruger's selection to become chairman of the Senate's Committee on Social Services, Children and Families was not about politics.
"The politics is over," Bruno said. "We're governing."
Even so, Bruno's move made it clear he was reaching out to potentially sympathetic Democrats who might prove valuable if a fight develops soon over the leadership of the Senate. Spitzer and Smith have indicated they are looking for Republican senators who might like to switch parties or take jobs in the new administration, thus creating more open seats Democrats could go after.
Despite Bruno's plea that this isn't about politics, everything is about politics in Albany and it is safe to say that Kruger is not immune to the game as well. Carl Kruger is certainly sympathetic to the causes that Joe Bruno holds close to his heart. Important issues such as self-enrichment, political power playing and avoiding the scrutiny of the law have been at the forefront of Bruno's agenda.
Kruger has apparently been quite the friend of Joe Bruno, even going so far as to vouch for the decency of the good Senator and the values that Carl claims Bruno stands for.
From the New York Observer's Politicker:
Kruger, as you may recall, released a statement in support of Bruno after the majority leader revealed late last year that his outside business interests are the subject of an FBI probe. Kruger said questions about Bruno's integrity were "appalling and ironic," given his commitment to "openness and fairness."
Kruger also has local ties to Bruno: Tom Connolly, vice chairman of the state Independence Party and chair of the Indy Party in Rensselaer County - Bruno's home base - is on Kruger's payroll. Connolly is a Bruno ally from way, way back.
I'm not sure what it is about these guys, but something in their ego-laden heads prevents them from seeing the tracks that they leave in their wake. It isn't hard for astute political observers to see through the games that people like Bruno and Kruger play in front of their constituents and the state of New York.
Posted by Josh"Ing"Silverstein at 1:02 AM
John McCain's Presidential bid for next year is certainly no shocker, but his pre-announcement announcement was made on the Late Show with David Letterman. He said that his official announcement will come sometime in April. With all the news surrounding McCain's poll numbers and his increasingly bulky staff that is preparing for the run, we all knew that he is going to officially jump in at some point.
So what is the big deal about this declaration that surprisingly got a huge ovation from the Late Show crowd? I wonder if it has anything to do with his slumping poll numbers and the hostility he faces from the Christian right? When in doubt, always do something 'shocking' on late night TV for a quick bounce. It always works for politicians, unless George Bush would show up to promote another horrific and constitutional-shredding policies. I seriously doubt we'll see him on the late night talk show circuit anytime soon.
This guy never ceases to amaze me. Recently someone wrote that eventually he will say something so outlandish it will get him fired. I disagree with that statement completely. Tonight he responded to Keith Olbermann's assessment of the Beckster and out did himself by proposing to take nude photos of US Weekly's Dina Sansing during the interview.
When he posed the question to her the silence was deafening to say the least. She apparently did not find it funny that the wingnut wanted to take photos of her in the buff. I certainly wouldn't. Be sure to watch this short clip of Beck at his finest.
From Crooks and Liars:
BECK: Dina, let me tell you something. I don`t think you have to be famous. I think you just work in the average environment in America now, somebody would get a picture of you, and then it would be posted all around, and it will happen in your office.
BECK: You don`t think so?
SANSING: Well, it depends. You know, it depends…
BECK: Dina, I`ve got some time and a camera. Why don`t you stop by? No? OK.
Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Eliot Spitzer steamrolled into town less than two months ago and continues to fight for reform here in New York. His latest mission is to take the current health care system and give it back to the people and away from special interests. Some may cry over his proposal, but not these babies:
And the response:
From 1199 and the Greater New York Hospitals Assocation:
Finger pointing and name calling will neither insure a single additional New Yorker nor improve patient care for any man, woman or child in our state.
This guy has to be one of the least Democratic Democrats besides Joe Lieberman. Although technically Joe is an independent now, so Ben Nelson takes the cake. Although he claims he must vote with Republicans because he comes from a conservative state, the guy is bucking the national trend when it comes to important issues that swept the Democratic Party into power. Issues like Iraq, the Iraq war and the mess in Mesopotamia.
When he was asked the other day his thoughts on the war, he gave this abyssmal response:
The glass-half-full conservative Democratic Senator Ben Nelson, who has opposed all but the most non-binding, non-adhesive measures in the debate over how to redeploy, laid out his position in a way that could really be boiled down to one word: Whatever...
Of the push to set a deadline for bringing the troops home, Nelson noted that "Not everyone agrees you can set a date in advance. If you don't, you'll be criticized. But, this is a town where if you say up, somebody else says down. And they're probably both right."
He gently mocked those trying to push for action based on the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group: "The challenge, when you get a report like that, is that there are certain people who think you have to adopt every recommendation."
"We'll take up the Iraq war again and again and again," he said amiably. And get it right eventually?
Eventually....while Nelson hems and haws we have too many troops and way too many civilians dying every day in Iraq. Perhaps if the Senator reached deep down inside himself he might find some principles that would justify getting his ass off the fence and vote to bring our troops home as quickly as possible. Of course he is stuck in the old mentality of being a poor Democrat in a red state. He should really look into getting lessons from Scott Kleeb on how to be a Nebraskan Democrat.
In a country of such great wealth, our health care system is in shambles. Tens of millions un-insured, countless others under-insured. Easily preventable diseases go untreated and every once in a while we hear a devastatingly sad story such as this one.
From the Washington Post:
Twelve-year-old Deamonte Driver died of a toothache Sunday.
A routine, $80 tooth extraction might have saved him.
If his mother had been insured.
If his family had not lost its Medicaid.
If Medicaid dentists weren't so hard to find.
If his mother hadn't been focused on getting a dentist for his brother, who had six rotted teeth.
By the time Deamonte's own aching tooth got any attention, the bacteria from the abscess had spread to his brain, doctors said. After two operations and more than six weeks of hospital care, the Prince George's County boy died.
Government should provide for adequate health care and in this case dental care specifically. According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, dental care is extremely lacking. Many dentists do not want to have to deal with the paperwork and there are even fewer oral surgeons in that boat.
How does this happen in this great country of ours? Some will blame the mother, saying it is her fault for not taking care of her children. Alas, she was tending to her other son. So that argument has trouble treading water. Losing Medicaid is a system failure, not having enough dentists that can help the poor is a failure. Grover Norquist once said he wanted to drown the government in a bathtub. For this to happen, it seems like we are getting close to bathtub status.
The swift boaters for mistruth are at it again. Within a couple days of Vice President Al Gore winning an Academy Award for his documentary the attacks began. Baseless allegations of using too much energy himself popped up. Wingnut sites began carrying the news after it appeared on the Drudge Report. He got it from a think tank in Tennessee that doesn't even get web traffic. Another attack exposed from the wingnuts that attack liberals as much as possible.
At 2pm eastern standard time, Congressman Marty Meehan will introduce a bill to end the inequality in the military. After many years of a failed 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' recruitment policy, we have the power to end the systematic revokement of gays in the armed forces.
The Military Readiness Enhancement Act will be re-introduced by the Democratic Representative from Massachusetts. The bill (H.R. 1059) was originally brought to the house with 122 co-sponsors, yet it still failed to become law. Backed by the new Democratic majority, this time around things look more positive to end this ridiculous policy that our military imposes on its troops, including the $250 million to $1.2 billion that has been spent to enforce it.
The Service Members Defense Network has been a huge supporter of revoking the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy and is standing behind Congressman Meehan tomorrow. Here is part of their press release:
WHO: Congressman Meehan will be joined by C. Dixon Osburn, executive director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), as well as by BG Evelyn “Pat” Foote, USA (Ret.), a member of SLDN’s honorary board, and SLDN client and Former Marine Sergeant Brian Fricke, an openly gay veteran of the war in Iraq. Another participant will be an Iraq war veteran from Texas who lost his right leg in combat and will be coming out of the closet publicly at the press conference in his support for the repeal of the law. Other military veterans will also join Congressman Meehan as he announces re-introduction of the bill.
WHY: Since 1993, the Department of Defense has fired more than 11,000 service members under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” On average, 2 - 3 people are dismissed under the law every day. According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) at least 800 of those had skills deemed ‘mission-critical’ by DoD, including more than 300 linguists, of which at least 55 were proficient in Arabic.
WHEN: Wednesday, February 28, 2007 ● 2pm
WHERE: House Armed Services Committee Hearing Room 2216 ●
Rayburn House Office Building ● Washington DC
Despite the issue of how our President has misused our troops in Iraq and his war on terror, it is a travesty to deny Americans the chance to serve based on their sexual orientation. The old policy perpetuates a culture of fear in the military of being outed and in many cases, being thrown out of something that one is thrilled to be a part of. The stories of these servicemembers in hiding is incredibly moving, such Serena Storm.
Here is a small portion of her story:
A few years ago, I met Audrey* who was my girlfriend for two years. She was a smart and caring woman who I could talk to about anything; she was also my first relationship with a woman. I learned so much from her about functioning in an intimate relationship; (I was ignorant when it came to committed relationships since the majority of my previous relationships failed miserably or ended before it could get started) from communication to appreciation; from compromise to acceptance. I often spoke of her at work with my co-workers by using a male name by referring to her as Aidan* vice Audrey.* Our relationship ended over our careers and the fact that she had met someone who had more in common with her and could meet her needs. Despite all that I learned from her, I know it was hard on her to deal with deployments, extended hours, and other demands of the military life just as it was hard for me to understand and empathize with the demands of being a nurse. Audrey* and I are still friends; I would rather have her in my life in that capacity than not at all. That don’t ask, don’t tell policy limits everything. It’s hard being in a committed relationship with someone whose picture you can’t put on your desk while everyone else is able to just because they’re straight. I’d love to be able to put my lover on a pedestal and show her off just like my co-workers do with their significant others. Unfortunately I can’t; I’ve learned to accept it and keep my professional and private life separate...to the point of having it down to a science and creating my own language.
That is only one tale of thousands. The damage to people that live in this state-sanctioned hiding is atrocious. A human being should not be forced to be ashamed of their sexual preference while serving their country. This is why Marty Meehan needs all the support he can get from us to tell our representatives to pass this bill so it will not have to be re-introduced for a second time.
Check out the Human Rights Campaign position on why this bill should be passed and then contact your member of Congress today!
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
You might have heard about last week's rat attack at a KFC/Taco Bell down in Greenwich village at 6th Ave. and 4th St. A Fox 5 TV news crew was in the area and saw a horde of rats scurrying around the fast food joint, picking up scraps on the floor and hanging out on the trashcans. For those that get nervous around the little furry creatures, the scene would have sent you running.
What made the story even worse and subsequently gain more attention in the local and even national news (and YouTubed) was that the store was inspected by the health department the day before. The report gave the store good marks with no signs of vermin. The establishment had been cited previously, four times in the last three years but conditions show that there hasn't been much change here. Perhaps rats like the combination of pizza and tacos...but I have seen them eat far worse between the rails in the subway stations.
New York is supposed to have high standards when it comes to restaurant cleanliness (or so they say), so how did they stack up in the inspection:
Nine points of violations is bad enough for me but 92 is just outrageous. How does one restaurant go from 9 to 92 within a day? The company said that they were undergoing repairs in the basement. Mayor Bloomberg was also posed the question:
The city’s health department issues violation points for unsanitary conditions found in New York’s 30,000 restaurants, cafeterias and other food-service sites. A failing grade is a score above 28 points. On Friday morning, a health inspector found 92 points worth of violations at the KFC/Taco Bell and ordered it closed because of rodent infestation, a health department spokesman said. The restaurant must pass a re-inspection.
The restaurant, it turns out, had passed inspections last year and even as recently as last week. On March 1, 2006, the restaurant was fined $1,300 for a number of violations, including fresh and stale mice droppings found on the floor, said the health department spokesman, Geoffrey Cowley. It was given a passing grade of 23 points. On Thursday, the day before the rats were broadcast live on television, an inspector went to the restaurant prompted by complaints to 311, Mr. Cowley said. Nine points of violations were found, and the restaurant was allowed to remain open.
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg had this to say about the investigation at a news conference today at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice:
I can tell you what we’re doing. We are going and reinspecting any place that that particular investigator inspected. We are inspecting all of the places that that particular restaurant owner has. And we’re doing an investigation as to what happened in this case where, clearly, the investigation didn’t show rats and a day later, there were plenty.
Those are the three things we’re doing and I’m pleased to say that the report of rats in this city does seem to be on the decline, although every big city, as you know, has a vermin problem.
The mayor was asked if there was any suspicion of bribery or corruption involving the inspection. His response:
There is no reason at this time to suspect anything. We are going to do an investigation, which we always do in cases like this, where we don’t go in with any presuppositions, nor do we go in trying to hang somebody. We’re going go try get the facts and then see where that takes us. …
We’re going to make sure that anything that slipped through the cracks gets reinspected. That’s our first priority and then we’ll look and see what happened in this case, but as far as I can tell, we just don’t know at this point.
It will be interesting to find out how that problem occurred and how it will be fixed in the future. It is bad enough I have to deal with mice in my apartment from time to time, but a restaurant (even if it is a KFC/Taco Bell) should have higher standards than what was caught on the local news. To give the city some credit, they did suspend the un-named inspector today while the case is under review.
After a week off, Stephen comes back with avengance last night. First up is reviewing the Academy Awards. Who won, wore what and what it all means. With Al Gore in attendance and winning an Oscar for himself, Stephen harps on him and the whole 'greening' thing:
Next up is advice for all of those official candidates. It is essential to know how to stand, sit and beg for votes in a dignified way. That includes admitting any drug problems, Mr. Brownback! Also remember the winners come on the shows that influence Washington and the voters that send them there.
You know the rule. Don't talk about fight club when you are in fight club. When you are with the President or in his beatiful house, don't talk about issues that might upset him, such as a timetable to leave Iraq that the vast of majority of Americans are demanding. At the National Governor's Conference Bush took questions from the heads of the 50 states, only they were pre-screened just like his supporters at the planned out prep rallies he has held so many times before.
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger of California persisted on the topic despite the vetting of questions and upset Gen Peter Pace in the process. Bush came in and acknowledged that 'some' question his decision on Iraq, although he did not address those questions as he is the decider and only the decider can decide on such important issues as making our armed forces weaker, our standing in the world lower and our troops not having what they need to survive on the battlefield. He may have said once before that it would be easier if he were dictator.....but we don't really need to make it official if it goes on behind the curtain of his propraganda and the sycophants that parrot the talking points.
This wonderful mass of neurons is brought to you by Laura Bush. She was interviewed yesterday none other than Larry King and they talked about the war. Although she admitted it was rough going, FLOTUS kept herself in line behind George and Dick in order to argue that we need to
stay the course escalate and provide a surge to help win the war. What a load of bull you know what.
She brought out the same old tired talking points, this one was especially untruthful:
The First Lady went on to say: "Many parts of Iraq are stable now. But, of course, what we see on television is the one bombing a day that discourages everybody."
One bombing a day???? What news are you watching Mrs. Bush? There are dozens of attacks each day, with dozens or hundreds of Iraqis dying and our troops are being picked off left and right, sending the death toll slowly but surely higher. You can read the rest of the interview here on CNN.
Despite the claims to the contrary from the Bush Adminstration, it appears that the escalation in the Middle East is ramping up yet again. Many denials have been issued that plans to attack Iran are in the works but Sy Hersh has found the proof it exists.
Sy Hersh with Wolf Blitzer on CNN:
In a nutshell, the article from The New Yorker says:
Hersh says the U.S. has been "pumping money, a great deal of money, without congressional authority, without any congressional oversight" for covert operations in the Middle East where it wants to "stop the Shiite spread or the Shiite influence." Hersh says these funds have ended up in the hands of "three Sunni jihadist groups" who are "connected to al Qaeda" but "want to take on Hezbollah."
Hersh summed up his scoop in stark terms: "We are simply in a situation where this president is really taking his notion of executive privilege to the absolute limit here, running covert operations, using money that was not authorized by Congress, supporting groups indirectly that are involved with the same people that did 9/11."
Monday, February 26, 2007
Family Guy has to be one of the most intense cartoons on network television. It seems that a bunch of animated characters can take on almost any political issue out there and make you laugh out loud. Of course you may just laugh at the real life scenario without the cartoon commentary. When it comes to the religious right, their hypocritical actions are downright hilarious. Here we have a Ted Haggart tangent in a scene between Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell.
From C & L:
While searching for his missing beloved teddy bear Rupert, Stewie tells Brian that without him he'd be lonlier than Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell after the rapture. God I love this show.
Robertson: Damn it, Jerry. Why are we the only ones still here?
Falwell: I don't know. We hated all the right things.
What comes next will make liberals laugh and evangelicals that adore these figures cringe.
A truly disturbing picture here, unlike the actual 'Little Miss Sunshine' that had moviegoers in hysterics with the Supporting Actress nominee Abigail Breslin that awed the crowds.
CBS This Morning recently did an excellent interview with Keith Olbermann of MSNBC. From childhood to his sports broadcasting career and onto his journalistic feats today, Keith has come a long way from ESPN. His special comments are nothing short of spectacular and take on the corrupt and malignant Bush Adminstration as no one else does. Keith truly brings the idea of the 'Fourth Estate' alive in America while others simply sit back and print what government officials tell them to.
If there is one thing I have to hand credit to Bill O'Reilly on, it is his undying belief that he thinks he is right no matter what. Even if the truth is slapping him continually in the face, the man does not waver. Bill believes he is still a middle class guy who is fighting for people like him. Apparently there are millions out there since they flock to his show every week, ratings don't lie even if he does.
Mike Wallace did a one-on-one with Bill for 60 Minutes this week and tried to expose the guy that lives inside the ego-laden fortress. From what I saw, nothing is going to penetrate what O'Reilly thinks about himself. His father beat him up as a kid and now he beats up others on his show, figuratively that is. Whether it is a WTC victim, a boy scout or a child abducted from his home it makes no difference. Bill does whatever it takes to make himself look good (in his own mind) and won't take a second look at the wreckage he leaves in his path.
The interview a la Crooks and Liars:
Some highlights from the transcript at CBS.com:
What does he think of talk show host Rush Limbaugh?
"I respect Limbaugh for basically making a success out of himself and putting on an entertaining program. But he's not a primary source of information, or shouldn't be," says O'Reilly. "He's an entertainer. … I'm a journalist who provides a program that is entertaining."
"I'll never win any awards for stuff I'm doing now," says O'Reilly. "Because the intelligentsia who distributes the awards thinks that I'm misguided. I'm a barbarian. I am a Hun."
Does it bother him?
"No, I love it," says O’Reilly. "I love to be the outsider."
For a guy that hangs out with Newt Gingrich and Trent Lott, that certainly makes him an outsider. His vitriolic approach to the political left in this country has done nothing but made him powerful friends on the right and a ton of money in his pocketbook via Fox News and his books that spew the same garbage in print that can be found on TV or radio on a daily basis.
Last night Al Gore's incredible documentary 'An Inconvenient Truth' won two Academy Awards at the Los Angeles ceremony. One went to Melissa Etheridge for best song and the other for best documentary. The crowd cheered for him and I even clapped while waiting for my flight back to New York. Al was invited up before with Leonardo DiCaprio to talk about 'greening' the Oscars and how to fight global warming in every facet of life. His film showed the world what is happening to the planet we live on and in my opinion, we owe the Vice President an immense amount of gratitude for his eloquent presentation of those now famous powerpoint slides.
Unfortunately the orchestra started drowning him out while on stage as he talked about the issue. It seemed that to the show's producers, keeping the Oscars on schedule trumped what Al had to say about the environment. Despite the music, everyone kept hinting towards Mr. Gore that if he wanted to make an announcement that this would be the time. Instead he stuck to his message, an important message that society deems inconvenient. When SUVs look as hot as they do, many people care about their looks over the MPG rating of their cars. Of course that isn't true for everyone, so hopefully not all is lost yet.
Joseph Bruno has long been touted for his successful business skills. His story has long been that he took a few thousand dollars and turned it into a fortune with the Coradian company. After selling it he went on to diversify and go into politics.
That may be what he tells his friends up in Albany but the truth sounds more like the business ventures of George Bush. Bruno has overseen many business failures and most of his wealth comes from a consulting firm with and unlisted phone number and un-named clients.
From The New York Times:
Some of Mr. Bruno’s other business ventures, before and after he sold Coradian, did poorly. In one case, he lost about $150,000 on a real estate project that dragged on for 17 years, a former partner said. And in the past six years, he has lost at least $50,000 on investments in high-tech companies, according to financial disclosure records and interviews with his aides.
Mr. Bruno’s mixed success as a businessman might have important implications for a federal grand jury investigation into his financial dealings. Soon after selling Coradian, Mr. Bruno — who has for years complained that being in office has hurt his ability to make money — opened a consulting business out of his home. That business is now the focus of the federal investigation into whether Mr. Bruno provided government favors to his consulting clients, people who have been briefed about the inquiry have said.
Records show that the consulting business has been a consistently reliable stream of income for Mr. Bruno. Yet the firm does not advertise or have a published telephone number and Mr. Bruno has refused to publicly identify its clients, describing them only as “substantial and important business people.”
Now that Bruno is under the microscope of the blogosphere and more importantly a federal grand jury his dirty past is going to come back to haunt him. The NY Times story does not mention Joseph's defense of the article since he declined to be interviewed. Unfortunately for Bruno, he can not decline the steady march of the law into his life to expose his secrets.
Coradian was successful for a time, although when a major contract went south so did the firm. State contracts valued at $1.5 million over five years. Eventually Bruno sold it to Mitel along with a ton of debt. There wasn't much money to be made in the deal for anyone involved according to others involved in the sale.
Bruno continued to blur the line of ethical conduct as a businessman and a legislator.
Fast-forward to 1999:
Mr. Bruno’s willingness to mix public and private interests was apparent in another real estate deal he entered into in 1999, when he and his son Joseph bought a small apartment house in Troy from Russell C. Ball, a state contractor whose wife, Dori Evans, served as finance director for the Senate Republican campaign committee, which Mr. Bruno controls.
Mr. Ball’s Brooklyn-based company, which does underground utility work, has had contracts on several major state projects, and a couple of years ago he created a nonprofit group that purchased full-page newspaper ads saluting Mr. Bruno. An official familiar with the investigation said the F.B.I. has questioned people about Mr. Ball’s relationship with Mr. Bruno. Mr. Ball had no comment.
In the end that deal lost money too, including a lobbyist-friend of the family that took a financial hit as well. So while Bruno has lost considerable amounts of money, where do his riches come from. Certainly the ice business of the 1940s and 50s doesn't pay the bills.
What does generate income is Capital Business Consultants L.L.C. The consulting firm does considerable business by giving advice to companies that use Albany to generate work. Bruno did not want to reveal his clients, however the federal investigation has shed some light on the firm.
One of his first clients was McGinn Smith, an Albany investment firm. Mr. Bruno has invested both personal and campaign funds in companies controlled by McGinn Smith’s chairman, Timothy M. McGinn. In 1999, Mr. Bruno reported making an undisclosed amount of money on the sale of stock in Pointe Financial, a bank holding company of which Mr. McGinn was chairman. It was one of Mr. Bruno’s few profitable stock investments in recent years.
Another consulting client was Jared Abbruzzese, a businessman and friend who has flown Mr. Bruno around on private jets and who, until recently, was part of a group competing for a statewide horse racing franchise. From 2002 to 2004, Mr. Bruno decided to award $500,000 in discretionary state grants to a company in which Mr. Abbruzzese was a major investor, Evident Technologies.
Bruno's light seems to get dimmer and dimmer these days. His clients have been outed by the Feds, his son is under the glare of the investigation and Joseph just isn't feeling that well about his predicament. Eventually Joe, things have a funny way of catching up to you.