Saturday, April 14, 2007

Want To Be A War Czar?

Bush still can't get anyone to fill the new post of "War Czar" to run the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Apparently Bush can't handle being commander-in-chief anymore and has decided to create this job so that someone else can take the blame for his mistakes. Yet no one wants the job so far.

Keith Olbermann has more:

Rep. John Hall Buys American

The link from the Empire Zone had me worried about freshman Congressman John Hall who represents part of upstate New York. It said that he bought an S.U.V. and if anyone knows John Hall, he is very much in favor of protecting the environment. When I read the article at Capitol Confidential I breathed a sigh of relief to see that the S.U.V. was a small hybrid offered by Mercury.

The Mercury Mariner is a fuel efficient Sport Utility that is big enough to haul around campaign supplies and benefit the environment as opposed to a Chevy Tahoe or Suburban that are popular among many working for their constituents down in Washington.

The additional bonus for John is that as a politician, it is always better to have an American car instead of something foreign made. Plenty of elected officials have been criticized in the past for not buying their wheels outside the United States and now he doesn't have to worry about that either. Rep. Hall is a good example for other politicians to do their part for the environment unlike some that only pretend to go green for P.R. purposes.

Now That Imus Is Gone...

Congratulations is in order to the corporate bigwigs who caved to the pressure of many groups demanding Don Imus be off the air. Yet there is still a widespread problem of hate being spewed on the radio and on television. The list of names is long indeed, including Bill O'Reilly, Neil Boortz, Sean Hannity, Michael Savage, Rush Limbaugh and many others. So as long as we are clearing the air and making progress towards more civilized debate in talk radio, why not make efforts to getting rid of these goons?

Catherine Crier discussed this on CourtTV last night (via Crooks and Liars):

Court TV's Catherine Crier doesn't think this scandal should end with the firing of Don Imus. During last night's "Crier Wire," she quickly ran through a small handful of the hateful things uttered by the likes of FOX News, Bill O'Reilly, Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter, and makes the obvious point that they should also be held accountable.

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"Let's tell hate spewing radio and TV hosts, and misogynist rappers that this divisiveness is unacceptable."

I am certainly no fan of censorship but the names on the list above can spew their hate-mongering in safer places, such as their living rooms. Reasoned debate is one thing, shouting and screaming ideology and bigotry is another. If I remember correctly, the FCC granted the networks space on the public airwaves for loftier purposes than the insanity that exists today.

Nancy Grace Is An Idiot

Jon Stewart highlights the sheer lunacy and lack of journalistic ethics that Nancy Grace displayed during the Duke rape case. Now that the three lacrosse players have been exonerated, how will she apologize?

Learning From Governor Corzine

The Governor of New Jersey is lucky to be alive right now. He had multiple broken bones including two particularly bad femur fractures that necessitated surgery. His lungs were affected as well and he needed a breathing tube. This is not fun to go through at all. His rehab will last months and this will probably affect him for the rest of his life. Almost all of it could have been reversed had he worn his seatbelt.

In New Jersey the ticket for not wearing one is a total of $46. In California I believe it is over $250. The state trooper sitting next to him in the front seat was probably wearing his and remained relatively unscathed. Seatbelts are serious business and for some reason many of us just shrug them off. I certainly did when I was younger.

Then one day a family friend of ours was driving his car and got into an accident. Due to the fact he wasn't wearing the belt, he was ejected out of his sunroof when the car lost control and suffered severe injuries. Like Jon Corzine he is lucky to be alive, but his life has been completely altered. This vibrant family man was rushed into many surgeries, nearly dying several times. Now years later he is still in rehab and only allowed out for special occassions if he is feeling up to it. Thankfully his family has stayed strong for him and so have his friends.

After learning about what happened to him I never forgot my seatbelt again. I hope for those of you out there that drive you buckle up, and not have to go through an ordeal or see a loved one go through something like Jon Corzine or my friend.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Michelle Malkin: Political Prostitute

I certainly have no love lost for Michelle Malkin. She is a disgusting excuse for a human being and offers herself up for fame and fortune by sacrificing anything that resembles dignity or empathy that is commonly found in people. While covering for Bill O. on the Falafel Factor, she got into a heated exchange with Malik Shabazz, who is no angel in his own right. Fox News can't even carry on a civilized debate anymore and this exchange clearly shows it.

From the Brad Blog:

It really doesn't get any worse than this Michelle Malkin (filling in for Bill O'Reilly) interview of Malik Shabazz Thursday night on Fox "News". There is so much wrong with the exchange that no analysis can do it justice. The clip picks up about halfway through a discussion on the Duke lacrosse case. Here is a taste:

Shabazz: Will you apologize for being a political prostitute for Bill O'Reilly, a white-male-chauvinist-racist, as a woman of color?

Malkin: You want to call me a whore on national TV?

Shabazz: Yes.

Malkin: There is only one whore on this split-screen and it's you Mr. Shabazz.

Shabazz: As a woman of color, you should be ashamed of yourself...

Really, they should both be ashamed of themselves. They are both shills in different spheres. Michelle panders to the right and Shabazz, well, I'll leave it to the ADL to describe him. The point is, neither of them should be on television. The only result of putting those gigantic egos on the same screen is a shouting match, and that was exactly what happenend.

The War On Logic

There are a lot of wars going on these days. The drug war, the war on terrorism, the war on civil liberties, the war on the constitution and it goes on and on. Keith Olbermann points out Bush's new war, that which is on logic. He points out how Bush is blaming Democrats for not funding the war in Iraq, even though the majority in Congress passed the emergency funding bill and Bush is threatening to veto it. Did you say huh? Well you aren't alone, the President isn't making any sense.

Joe Bruno Should Really Shut His Mouth

You would think a politician who is currently being investigated by the FBI for corruption might want to lay low and ride out the situation as best he could. That of course would not be anything like Joe Bruno. Instead he had to make an ass out of himself and criticize Eliot Spitzer's birthday fundraiser coming up on June 7th. Of course that doesn't mean he would cancel his own money-raising bash next month for the New York state Senate Republican Campaign Committee.

From The Daily News:

Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, whose ally, state
GOP Chairman Joe Mondello, called yesterday for Gov. Eliot Spitzer to cancel his June 7 birthday fundraiser, claiming it "makes a mockery of the governor's self-imposed campaign finance limitations," will be holding his own big-ticket fundraiser at the New York Sheraton Hotel on May 3.

The 33rd annual spring event, which costs $5,000-a-head for a private reception and $1,000 for general admission, will benefit the state Senate Republican Campaign Committee. The current contribution limit for a state Senate race is $15,500 - $6,000 primary, $9,500 general. (Please note, I've fixed that).

I am seriously tired of using the term "the pot calling the kettle black" but the Republicans here in New York (and across the country for that matter) are forcing me to type it almost on a daily basis. The difference between them and us is that the Democratic party actually wants to change things (for the most part) and the Republicans want the status quo (through and through).

Pelosi To Bush: You Are Not A King

Way to go Nancy! The Speaker of the House appeared on the Today Show this morning and reminded the interviewer Campbell Brown that we do in fact live in a democracy. Many people are still criticizing Pelosi about her trip to Syria despite leaving out some inconvenient facts. Apparently Congressional leaders do go on fact-finding trips (and have done so for over 200 years) and when she went to Syria she was accompanied by Republicans as well as Democrats, something left out by her critics.

From the interview:

NP: The president is not king, the president is the president of the United States. America is a democracy. We have to make decisions based on our judgment. Thus far, the president's judgment hasn't been good, in terms of say for example the war on Iraq. So with all due respect to the president and the role he has, we want respect for the role we have. And members of Congress have gone on fact finding trips since our country began. We're not going to stop because the president wants to avoid the facts and doesn't want to engage in dialogue. We had a bipartisan trip, interesting that the administration chose to ignore the trips of the Republicans who had been there in the week that we were there.

CB: But the Republicans don't have your megaphone. They're not speaker of the House. You speak, the world listens.

NP: That's right, and that's because I have power, and that's why I have — in other words — the president wants to have it both ways. She shouldn't go because what difference does it make? She shouldn't go because she makes a big difference. They have to make a decision. But the fact is that we will never stop finding the facts to honor our responsibility to provide for the common defense to fight terrorism and to deliver the president's message.

The President may want to be dictator but we do still have a constitution that affords powers to the Congress to do their due diligence for the American people. Since George Bush shuns any type of oversight on his misguided 'leadership' we are going to have to keep him in check any way that we see fit. Having a dialogue with other countries is a good thing, even if they aren't so nice. Syria is definitely not a model nation by any means but that doesn't mean we are going to ignore them.

What Will CBS Do Without Imus

Perhaps something a little more mainstream? Letterman has an idea:

No Crying Over Wolfowitz

One of the chief neo-cons is in big trouble and it doesn't look like the President can save this loyalist. After George forced Paul Wolfowitz into the top position at the World Bank his actions (that are of a typical neo-con) got him in trouble with the board members and it looks like they want him out of there.

If you had heard that he would teach poor nations that are mired in corruption a lesson by simply withholding their development funds you would be correct. If you think that's the reason for his imminent ouster you would be wrong. It seems like Wolfie is in hot water because of sex and the favor$ that were fostered because of the relationship he had with Shaha Riza .

From the BBC:

Mr Wolfowitz has faced calls for his resignation over the promotion and pay of an ex-colleague with whom he is romantically involved.

He has apologised for his involvement in the negotiations and said he will accept any decision taken by the board.

Mr Wolfowitz's partner, Shaha Riza, was moved to the state department when he took the World Bank's top job in 2005.

The promotion and pay rise that came with her move has attracted strong criticism from staff within the organisation where Mr Wolfowitz is leading an anti-corruption drive.

The most hysterical aspect of this story is the rank hypocrisy of it. Wolfowitz was big on fighting corruption in developing nations. He went so far as to say that democracy can not thrive without a clean government. Then he turns around and does things that would make the thugs in the developing nations proud. Ms. Riza received a $60,000 plus raise for her move from the World Bank to the State Department. That is salary is $7,000 higher than Secretary of State Condi gets.

Well the people at the Bank didn't take the news too lightly. They say that their trust of the man is damaged and they want him out. Too bad for Paul the decision is up to the board and not the President. Loyalty isn't going to save him here. The sad thing is that his policy decisions have also angered many and went against the mission of the World Bank. Though that apparently did not matter until the issue of sex and favors came into play.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Bye Bye Imus

Wow, he is finally gone. No more racial insults parading as comedy, the ridiculous antics shuttered and the Stetson hat is no more. CBS followed MSNBC's example yesterday and fired Don Imus from his popular show. This wasn't about ratings, the guy had 2.25 million listeners a week. So do I take back what I said earlier about the corporate decision being about money? No way.

Here's why: Having millions of listeners is great but the reason why you want them is to get big name advertisers to shell out gobs of cash for listeners to hear their ads on the air. Unfortunately for CBS, big names such as American Express and GM were running away from Imus because of the monstrous public outrage towards the shock jock. Once the big names went, so did the rest of the sponsors. When you can't make money from a show its worthless, despite the value of the content. It really is all about the almighty dollar.

Real World 19: Iraq

Colbert's Word last night covered the idea of a YouTubed Iraq series, titled: Season Pass.

NYC Looking To Get Tough On Derelict Landlords

If you've had a landlord here in New York, chances are you've had problems getting things done. Generally in my building issues get addressed in a 2-4 month timeframe. When we had that frigid coldsnap in mid-February, our boiler went out and had to be replaced, leaving us in the cold. As bad as that is, it doesn't even come close to what some tenants have to deal with. Rats, seriously leaky plumbing, lead paint and many other problems languish all over the city. Thats why the city council is proposing a bill backed by the Mayor to have a stronger hand in dealing with bad landlords.

From The New York Times:

New York City wants to strengthen its hand against recalcitrant landlords by giving itself broad new powers to overhaul entire building systems — like heating, electrical or plumbing — in long-troubled properties, and to force landlords to pay for the work.

A bill to be introduced in the City Council today with the
Bloomberg Administration’s support would give the Department of Housing Preservation and Development the right to go into buildings that have dozens of serious housing code violations and a history of emergency repairs, do cellar-to-roof inspections and fix not only immediate problems, but also the underlying systems.

The proposed program, which city officials said would go beyond anything they knew of elsewhere, is intended to bring as many as a thousand severely run-down buildings into compliance with the housing maintenance code over the next five years and to shore up the supply of habitable apartments for lower-income families at a time when the inventory of lower-priced housing is rapidly declining.

Generally I do not like the government getting into matters such as building repair on this level. Yet the problem here in the city with lazy and/or careless landlords is a serious problem and has to be addressed. Normally when I can't get something fixed I threaten them by paying for the repairs myself at a premium and then deducting it from the rent. Many people unfortunately can not do that and when it comes to structural issues neither can I. When the city takes over, they can pay for those major repairs and force the building owners to cough up later.

Speaker Christine Quinn is one of the sponsors and she knows the territory here after being an advocate for tenants in the past. I have my qualms with her leadership in the council but on this I am fully behind her efforts. Don't expect immediate improvements though, the bill wouldn't take effect for at least five months and only for buildings with a certain number of violations. Nevertheless, I am glad it is being pursued.

Leahy Uses The "L" Word On The White House

I am proud to say that Senator Patrick Leahy is fighting on our side. Today on the floor of the Senate he slammed the Bush Administration over 'lost' emails and made it crystal clear what Bush and his friends are up to at 1600 Pennsylvania.

From RawStory:

The top Senate Democrat leading investigations into the dismissal of 8 U.S. Attorneys by the Justice Department is comparing e-mails lost by the Republican National Committee to President Richard Nixon's famous "18-minute gap" in White House tape recordings.

"Now we are learning that the 'off book' communications they were having about these actions, by using Republican political email addresses, have not been preserved," Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said on the Senate floor.

He added, "Like the famous 18-minute gap in the Nixon White House tapes, it appears likely that key documentation has been erased or misplaced. This sounds like the Administration's version of 'the dog ate my homework.'

Too bad Barney the dog wasn't around to eat all those emails. He couldn't chew on that vile taste of lies and decceipt regardless. So here we have another stark comparison to Richard Nixon. As tricky Dick oversaw the last half of the Vietnam War, Bush is presiding over the disastrous mess in Iraq. Nixon lied and covered up many things and so does George. As Nixon went, so must George Bush.

The C.A.P.

In case you haven't heard, the Center for American Progress is one of the most respected think tanks on the left side of the political spectrum. It took awhile to catch up to the Republicans on building an apparatus that can get the views of the progressive community out to the masses. Though CAP is doing it along with many others. Listen to what a few of these Presidential contenders had to say about them:

Congressman Dan Burton The Hypocrite

Republicans are widely known to have done certain things while Bill Clinton was President. Things like subpoenas issued over the Monica Lewinsky scandal, pursuing impeachment and generally abusing their powers from 1995 to 2000. Then when Bush came in Congress became a giant rubber stamp for their new Commander in Chief. Now that the Democratic party is in power Congress is beginning to clean up the gigantic mess that the previous sessions ( 104-109th) left in their wake.

Of course there are still roughly 200 Republican congressman are left and plenty are complaining about the new style of governing. Issues such as oversight, working longer hours and passing legislation for the people over the corporations are stressing the Republicans and they are starting to whine over it. Dan Burton is the latest crybaby, particularly about Henry Waxman who replaced him as Chairman of the House Oversight Committee.

Check this out from Roll Call via Crooks and Liars:

Rep. Dan Burton — the Indiana Republican who showered subpoenas on the Clinton White House as chairman of the House Government Reform Committee — is joining other Republicans in warning that the committee under its new Democratic leadership may be abusing its subpoena powers.

At the end of March … Burton, along with committee ranking member Tom Davis (R-Va.) and most of the other Republican members warned that the Democrats are straying close to the line of what is appropriate in oversight.

“Effective, constructive oversight is much more a matter of due diligence and digging than depositions and sensational disclosures,” the Republicans wrote.

Awww isn't that cute. Dan Burton thinks he can forget about his past transgressions, namely the 141 subpoenas he issued to the Clintons (guess how many went to the Bush Administration) on anything he could think of. He even subpoenaed the wrong guy because of a similar name situation. Dan really should just shut the hell up, he has absolutely no authority or high ground to stand on to preach about abusing subpoena powers.

RIP Kurt Vonnegut

Kurt Vonnegut mentioned in his last book, "Man Without A Country" that he loved his life in old age, going to the corner store for cigarettes and what not on his block here in the city on 48th between 2nd and 3rd Avenue. It always amused me that when I looked north through my window, the amazing Kurt Vonnegut lived straight uptown from by a few blocks. In some strange way it made me feel a little more special to be living here in Manhattan.

Besides location, his books and stories are beyond compare. The man was a satirical genius and always captured his readers with incredilble wit. "Slaughterhouse V," "Cats Cradle," and so many more of his books are literary icons for our society and around the world.

To think positively at a sad time like this, it is good to remember that he lived a rich and full life, making it to the ripe old age of 84. Hello, goodbye, hello goodbye my dear friend.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Highlights From MoveOn's Virtual Townhall

Want to hear from the Democratic candidates for President? Spend about ten minutes out of your day and listen to this:

NYU Shun Minuteman Chris Simcox

Minutemen, or should I say Minuteklan members are somewhat popular in the desert Southwest among certain parts of the population down there. Yet when their ilk come to the liberal bastion of the Northeast, and more specifically the campus of NYU, things are a bit different. The College Republicans invited the group's leader Chris Simcox to a panel discussion on immigration today. The crowd did not take it lightly, in fact they vehemently jeered and taunted the racist bastard.

From NYC Indymedia:

NEW YORK, NY – The last time a representative of the Minuteman Project came to speak at a New York college campus, he was chased out of town by students who did not want him there. Jim Gilchrist received a lot of press because of his Columbia University appearance, courtesy of the conservative press. Since then he lost his position as head of the Minuteklan, but the person who he co-founded the organization with, Chris Simcox, is still a part of the group, and it was his turn to visit the Big Apple. In his case it was New York University, and he was invited to speak by NYU’s College Republicans, the same ones who in February held a “Catch an Illegal Immigrant Day” on campus. Like that event, the Simcox appearance did not go over well, as students vocally protested and shouted him down.

Simcox was part of a panel discussion at NYU’s Kimmel Center that also featured Jan Ting, a recent Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate in Delaware and a frequent commentator on immigration and national security; Enrique Morones, founder of Border Angels, a group that provides water and aid to people trying to cross the U.S.-Mexican border; and professor Guillermina Jasso, a sociology professor at NYU. Bob Buckler, NYU's student activities director, will moderate the panel. The audience was quiet when Jasso and Ting gave their remarks, but became energized once Morones took the microphone. Morones first admonished the College Republicans for their “Find an Illegal Immigrant Day”. He then went after Simcox and his lack of character, noting past accusations of child abuse from his second ex-wife. When Morones talked of the anti-immigration campaigns going on in the country, he made note of the racism that has been more than apparent among the ranks, citing the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and the Anti-Defamation League as sources. Touching on the fact that some anti-immigration activists were Black and Latino, he simply said that the ascension of the Minutemen has shown the nation two things, “Racism is alive and well in America, and racism knows no color.”

Although the event wasn't as chaotic as when former Minutemen head Jim Gilchrist was thrown off the campus uptown at Columbia, the students certainly made their opinions heard. NYU is a center for free speech and Simcox got to speak (albeit with interruptions) but so did the crowd and the others on the panel that see through the racism that the Minutemen hold in their core.

The outburst was created by Sarah Chambers, the President of the College Republican chapter. She is known for leading the "Catch an illegal immigrant game" a few months back that got her deserved derision from the students, faculty and even Keith Olbermann. She has earned the disgust of the University, which might serve her well when applying for a job with the Republican party in the future. Who knows, she might even be the next Monica Goodling.

Gated Communities To Be Introduced In Baghdad

Congressman Mike Pence's comment about how al-Shorja market was like something in Indiana was an absolutely ridiculous comment. The military's plan to divide Baghdad into secure zones goes beyond the empty rhetoric of a deluded Republican from Indiana. The excellent reporting of Robert Fisk exposes the plan that has failed in the past for our military among others, and what the new troop placements mean for our foreign policy in the region.

From The UK Independent:

The campaign of "gated communities" - whose genesis was in the Vietnam War - will involve up to 30 of the city's 89 official districts and will be the most ambitious counter-insurgency programme yet mounted by the US in Iraq.

The system has been used - and has spectacularly failed - in the past, and its inauguration in Iraq is as much a sign of American desperation at the country's continued descent into civil conflict as it is of US determination to "win" the war against an Iraqi insurgency that has cost the lives of more than 3,200 American troops. The system of "gating" areas under foreign occupation failed during the French war against FLN insurgents in Algeria and again during the American war in Vietnam. Israel has employed similar practices during its occupation of Palestinian territory - again, with little success.

But the campaign has far wider military ambitions than the pacification of Baghdad. It now appears that the US military intends to place as many as five mechanised brigades - comprising about 40,000 men - south and east of Baghdad, at least three of them positioned between the capital and the Iranian border. This would present Iran with a powerful - and potentially aggressive - American military force close to its border in the event of a US or Israeli military strike against its nuclear facilities later this year.

The "genius" behind this plan is none other than General David Petraeus. Why the general would implement this experiment in Baghdad is beyond me. The 'divide and conquer' tactic has never worked in the past and it will not here in the present. The common sense approach would be to pull out and deal with the situation diplomatically, but common sense has no place in the Bush Administration and those that serve at the President's pleasure.

Bush Is Going To Learn The Word "Compromise" The Hard Way

You can hear the arrogance pouring out of Dana Perino's mouth when addressing the question of Bush meeting with Congress. Perino and her chimp-in-chief just do not understand how the constitution set up the separation of powers between the legislative and executive branches obviously. Thankfully the Democratic majority is finally learning to flex some muscle and they aren't going to lie down for the President's decrees. It is about time that the White House learn that they do not have sole control of our government.

Boom And Bust In The Housing Market

For a few years many people were enticed by low mortgage rates offered by an insurance industry that suckered people into a bad situation. Senator Chuck Schumer released a report on the upcoming spike of foreclosures that is going to hit his hometown burrough of Brooklyn especially hard. The lenders that offered homeowners what looked like a good deal is going to leave thousands homeless.

From The Bayridge Courier:

The most popular “affordable” subprime loans are adjustable rate mortgages that offer an initial fixed rate that is set low.

But the rate resets after an initial fixed rate period to a more onerous rate that leads to a significantly higher mortgage payment that low-income borrowers will have difficulty affording, Schumer said.

Schumer’s analysis showed that in the next two years, 91,000 families will be at risk of foreclosure because of these lending practices. In the New York Metropolitan area alone, an estimated 53,000 families will see their mortgages reset to onerous rates, he said.

“The bottom line here is that the subprime bust is leading us right into a foreclosure boom, and thousands of Brooklyn residents will be left in the lurch,” Schumer said.

I think it is great that Senator Schumer is finally highlighting this serious issue that leaves thousands homeless from predatory lenders. My question is why did it take so long? Schumer is no stranger to the world of finance, thats for sure. The article also interviewed experts around New York on this and they have the same question.

Oda Friedheim, a staff attorney with the Legal Aid Society said the issue is nothing new.

“Too bad it took Wall Street’s pain to put the problem on the spotlight,” she said. “They have a bellyache because they swallowed too many bad loans,” she said.

“Our clients have been suffering for years under these abusive mortgages,” she added.

Deyanira Del Rio, the associate director of the Manhattan-based Neighborhood Economic Development Advocacy Project has been tracking mortgage lending and foreclosure data for the past seven years.

“What we have seen is that consistently higher priced mortgage loans are overwhelmingly concentrated in neighborhoods that are overwhelmingly black and Latino,” she said, noting her group will soon release a study showing this trend.

So why the outrage now Senator? It is unfortunate that it has to come to this to help out people that have been targeted for financial exploitation. Hopefully his intentions are genuine and meant to help those in need and not the Wall Street crowd.

Bush Wants A Czar For Iraq/Afghanistan

This guy is truly out of his mind. The latest act is pure desperation for which the only purpose is a cheap PR stunt. A "War Czar" would be meant to oversee the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and direct the operations. Two big problems come into immediate focus. One is that there are already people in charge at the the Defense and State Departments. The other is that no one wants the job, since it can only end in failure and add a bad mark to whomever foolishly takes the position.

From The Washington Post:

At least three retired four-star generals approached by the White House in recent weeks have declined to be considered for the position, the sources said, underscoring the administration's difficulty in enlisting its top recruits to join the team after five years of warfare that have taxed the United States and its military.

"The very fundamental issue is, they don't know where the hell they're going," said retired Marine Gen. John J. "Jack" Sheehan, a former top NATO commander who was among those rejecting the job. Sheehan said he believes that Vice President Cheney and his hawkish allies remain more powerful within the administration than pragmatists looking for a way out of Iraq. "So rather than go over there, develop an ulcer and eventually leave, I said, 'No, thanks,' " he said.

Good choice General Sheehan, you are absolutely right that they have no idea where they are going and what the hell they are doing at the moment for that matter. Nothing is going to solve the quagmire we are in as long as it is a military solution. What we need to do is get out of there as fast as we can and then try diplomatic solutions. Though at this point if I was an Iraqi I'd prefer another country to preside over any kind of negotiations. The U.S. has zero credibility in the region, thanks to Mr. you-know-who.

Which Jedi Would Bush Be?

Darth Vader seems to be Cheney's character so the evil one is taken. I am trying to come up with one of the Jedi's that went bad to compare to him but I just can't think of one. I'll probably fail, for as you can see, Bush being a Jedi is just a dream of that moron in the White House.

NYC Looking To Go Greener

New York City already has the lowest per capita emissions of carbon dioxide in the country. We pollute less than 1/3 the national average and approximately 4 metric tons per person less than the enviro-friendly San Francisco. Yet the Mayor and many of us know we can do better. A recent report showed that most of our 58.3 million metric tons comes from the city's buildings, a number that is close to a million. If you have ever looked closely at the New York skyline, then you have probably seen the belches of black smoke being emitted from the rooftops.

The question is, what do we do about it? Bloomberg's goal is to reduce emissions by 30 percent while the city adds an extra million people to the rolls by 2030. The New York Times highlights all these facts and figures along with the question of what to do. Apparently the Mayor is going to present his ideas on Earth Day which is a week from Sunday. Nothing like a little good PR on the holiday, eh?

So far the ideas that have been hinted at are pretty much common sense. Using energy efficient equipment, putting in more trees and replacing city vehicles with hybrids and cleaner burning fuels. There is also talk about implementing congestion pricing that would limit traffic and therefore emissions in the city. There's going to be a conference as well with cities sending representatives from around the world. Stay tuned for Earth Day!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Holbrooke Exposes The Attack On Pelosi For What It Is

David Gregory tries to continue the Republican spin on Nancy Pelosi's trip to Syria when interviewing Richard Holbrooke. Only Holbrooke countered the spin and told the audience what the partisan attack was all about.

Gentrification In East Harlem Is No Laughing Matter

If you live in NYC and are or have friends that live east of the park and above a certain street you may have heard the joking term "The Upper-Upper East Side." It refers to the spread of high-rise and high cost apartments that are emerging above and beyond the old "border" of 96th street. Yet for many the change is no laughing matter. The lives of long term residents are being affected by the cost of food at the supermarket and the amount the landlords are charging for rent. Then there are the children, and those that go to St. Francis de Sales School that might not be open to them anymore.

The New York Times has more:

Ms. Velasquez and the other parents of almost 200 students in the school’s eight grades were abruptly told in early March that the school would close in June. But officials at the Archdiocese of New York, as well as other parents and clergy familiar with recent events, said they expected that the school would reopen in a year, possibly as a more expensive private academy or preschool.

“They just want us out to make room for the new and improved people,” Ms. Velasquez said. “There is a plan for this neighborhood. I mean, look at First Avenue. They got doormen! It’s all connected. Look at Second Avenue. Why do they want to finish the subway now? These are not different issues. It’s all connected.”

Ms. Velasquez is definitely on to something. The Second Avenue subway delays are probably more complex, but overall things are changing to accomodate and encourage the gentrification of East Harlem. Some may say that higher prices will drive out the crime and the way East Harlem has been known to be a dangerous area. Though there are other ways of dealing with crime than to kick out long-term residents by hitting them in the pocketbook.

With the bleak future for the school and its children, the church isn't being nice about the situation either. Father Muzzin has been there three years and in 2006 he laid the groundwork for the change, upsetting many in the community.

Check out this brotherly love:

A little over a year ago, Father Muzzin said as much in the Sunday bulletin distributed at Mass. In it, he described how the school — which parents said served primarily black and Latino students — needed to attract a greater “variety of people” from the area.

“Some parents have to wake up to the realization that they cannot afford Catholic Education,” he wrote. “Period.”

The pastor’s message became clearer a few lines later: “I see the day in the not distant future when it will become the school of choice of all the Catholic parents in the neighborhood who now send their children to prestigious and pricey private schools,” he wrote. “Why spend $25,000 when you can get the same thing for much, much less?”

What a gentle guy Father Muzzin is. It seems like the elements that are changing the neighborhood resemble the man that represents the church. I may not be Catholic, but isn't there something written about helping those who are less fortunate. Does it matter if it is on the Upper-Upper East Side?

Imus Gets Suspended....So What?

It took five days and a story that wouldn't die to get Don Imus suspended for two weeks following his blatantly racist remarks about the women's basketball team at Rutgers University. The coach condemned him, Al Sharpton condemned him, Jesse Jackson condemned him and so did many people here on the left. However, NBC/CBS's response does not even come close to being adequate.

Lets face facts, Imus will never be fired, even if he deserves it (and he certainly does). What really counts to his corporate masters is ratings and money. As long as Don brings in cash he can say whatever the hell he wants. He has apologized for remarks like this before. Swore he would never do it again. Blah blah blah. The truth is that Imus can apologize all he wants but with his history, it isn't hard to say that he believes what he says.

Don Imus is only a small part of the problem. He is an example of the racist attitudes that linger under the surface for a large portion of America. The microphone gives his kind the power to voice what is underneath the facade and that is why so many people listen to him. Our corporate society allows this stuff to manifest because it is profitable for them. The greed and the bigotry go hand in hand. Perhaps if the networks would place ethics before profit, we could sever one of those hands and start to work on the real problem.

Colbert And The No Impact Man

Coming back from the break, the ever wasteful Stephen has Colin Beaven on the show to talk about his new and efficient lifestyle:

Gonzales Can't Get His Lies Straight

Generally when one tells a lie it isn't too hard to manage it, when it turns into 5 lies to cover the first one, it gets difficult. Yet when the lies are all over the place, and the people that know your secrets aren't allowed to talk to you, it starts getting insane. Thats why things are going crazy over at Alberto Gonzales' study room this past week.

From Newsweek:

April 16, 2007 issue - Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has virtually wiped his public schedule clean to bone up for his long-awaited April 17 testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee—a session widely seen as a crucial test as to whether he will survive the U.S. attorney mess. But even his own closest advisers are nervous about whether he is up to the task. At a recent "prep" for a prospective Sunday talk-show interview, Gonzales's performance was so poor that top aides scrapped any live appearances. During the March 23 session in the A.G.'s conference room, Gonzales was grilled by a team of top aides and advisers—including former Republican National Committee chair Ed Gillespie and former White House lawyer Tim Flanigan—about what he knew about the plan to fire seven U.S. attorneys last fall. But Gonzales kept contradicting himself and "getting his timeline confused," said one participant who asked not to be identified talking about a private meeting. His advisers finally got "exasperated" with him, the source added. "He's not ready," Tasia Scolinos, Gonzales's public-affairs chief, told the A.G.'s top aides after the session was over, said the source. Asked for comment, Scolinos told NEWSWEEK: "This was the first session of this kind that we'd done."

Despite bringing out all the big guns to try and salvage his career, all the spinsters in the world can't help Gonzales when gets out in front of Senator Leahy and company. They are afraid of the Senate Judiciary Committee and it shows. The now former Justice Dept. aide Monica Goodling went so far as to compare them to the infamous Senator McCarthy from fifty years ago. Memo to Monica, this hardly a purge of suspected communists, this is about justice, or lack thereof at the Justice department.

Bush Knew Of Kerik's Shady Past, Yet Nominated Him Anyways

I'm trying to wrap my head around why Bush would nominate Bernie Kerik to be the head of the Homeland Security department. We all knew he had a checkered past. Giuliani knew. The White House knew. Yet the guy was still kept close to Rudy and the White House nominated him regardless of what the vetters found.

From The NY Post:

Despite Kerik's "bald-faced" lies to investigators, vetters uncovered shady financial deals, an ethics violation and ties to a reputed mob family - yet pushed Kerik ahead, only to watch as his nomination collapsed, The Washington Post reports.

Federal prosecutors have told the former New York City police commissioner that he will likely be charged with several felonies, including lying to White House vetters.

And Kerik's embarrassing Cabinet bid has some questioning the judgment of ex-Mayor Rudy Giuliani, the 2008 GOP presidential-nomination front-runner, who nominated Kerik, and of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who headed the vetting.

The Post seems to think it was all about a flashy headline for the Administration. Though that may be part of it, it still doesn't sync with the pattern of how people are selected for positions throughout the government. If someone get the nod for a job, it tends to be for political patronage. All you need to do is look at the plethora of nominees that have been approved to see that they hardly had an experience related to the post yet plenty of connections to George Bush.

If the White House knew, then they also knew that an indicted man would never pass the test. Once he failed, Chertoff looked a whole lot better and was easily confirmed. I can't put my finger on it precisely, but there seems to be a whiff of a fall guy to get Chertoff in. This may seem like a conspiracy theory, but we are far past that when it comes to George Bush. I'll report more on this when I find hard data.

Clueless Kyl

Speaking on This Week on ABC yesterday, Senator Kyl forgets what exactly is in the Iraq Study Group. Thankfully Senator Levin was there to remind him at the end of this clip:

Monday, April 09, 2007

Obama Follows Edwards To Boycott Fox News

It took a couple of weeks but Obama finally got behind John Edwards and disavowed the Presidential debate sponsored by the Congressional Black Caucus and Fox News who was to air the show. Of course this is the second debate that the two have joined together to oppose the propaganda-spewing Fox. The first debate was unanimously denounced by all the candidates, but this one was different.

The Congressional Black Caucus plans on having their debate September 23 in Detroit. The candidates generally want to look good for the CBC in order to woo black voters and for Obama, it was apparently a tough call to make. Thankfully he made the right choice. Barack has been a target of the conservative news outlet for some time and he is sick and tired of their crap.

Roger Ailes recently went on the offensive to address candidates pulling out of his channel's debates but ultimately proved that he has some sort of vendetta against Obama.

Check this out from ABCNews:

"Any candidate for high office from either party who believes he can blacklist any news organization is making a terrible mistake about journalists," Ailes said at a Radio and Television News Directors Foundation dinner in Washington last month.

"Pressure groups are forcing candidates to conclude that the best strategy for journalists is divide and conquer, to only appear on those networks and venues that give them favorable coverage," Ailes said, adding that any candidate "who cannot answer direct, simple, even tough questions from any journalist runs a real risk of losing the voters."

But in that same address, Ailes joked about the similarity of Obama's name with that of terrorist leader Osama bin Laden, saying, "It's true that Barack Obama is on the move. I don't know if it's true President Bush called [Pakistan President Pervez] Musharraf and said, 'Why can't we catch this guy?' "

Why any fair-minded voter would want to deal with Ailes, his cohorts in the message-machine department at Fox or the brainwashed dittoheads that watch FNC night after night is beyond me. I hope this CBC-Fox debate finally puts to rest where Fox sits on the partisan scale. It certainly isn't about journalism, they are down in the mud with the rest of their wingnut friends.

NY Gets Ready To Vote In February

Generally during the primary season I like to sit back and watch the candidates duke it out early in the year out in Iowa or up in New Hampshire. The prospect of voting for my favorite candidate is on the horizon, but I get to see what they are made of when the race starts getting tough and delegates are lined up.

Well forget about it next year. New Yorkers will be voting in the primaries on February 5th for the first time along with a ton of other states. Up to twenty states might join in on this (most likely) cold day less than ten months from now.

The Republicans will still have their winner-take-all system and the Democrats sticking to the more spread out version based on percentages. So expect many candidates other than Giuliani on the right to skip the Empire State. Meanwhile the Dems will see a huge brawl as Hillary tries to defend her home (for the last several years anyways) state.

Calling A Spade A Spade

Why does the media fear being blunt when describing the President's "misspoken" words and "misleading" characterizations. For the most part his propaganda is transcribed verbatim from his mouth to the pages of the nation's newspapers and onto television screens. It is a rare occurrence when someone in the press actually calls Bush what he is, a liar. A cowardly liar at that. Though there was a small shining light in the pages of the New York Times this week, and it came from Frank Rich.

Via AmericaBlog (just in case you don't subscribe to TimesSelect):

As if to confirm we’re in the last throes, President Bush threw any remaining caution to the winds during his news conference in the Rose Garden that same morning. Almost everything he said was patently misleading or an outright lie, a sure sign of a leader so entombed in his bunker (he couldn’t even emerge for the Washington Nationals’ ceremonial first pitch last week) that he feels he has nothing left to lose.

Incredibly, he chided his adversaries on the Hill for going on vacation just as he was heading off for his own vacation in Crawford. Then he attacked Congress for taking 57 days to “pass emergency funds for our troops” even though the previous, Republican-led Congress took 119 days on the same bill in 2006. He ridiculed the House bill for “pork and other spending that has nothing to do with the war,” though last year’s war-spending bill was also larded with unrelated pork, from Congressional efforts to add agricultural subsidies to the president’s own request for money for bird-flu preparation.

Mr. Bush’s claim that military equipment would be shortchanged if he couldn’t sign a spending bill by mid-April was contradicted by not one but two government agencies. A Government Accountability Office report faulted poor Pentagon planning for endemic existing equipment shortages in the National Guard. The Congressional Research Service found that the Pentagon could pay for the war until well into July. Since by that point we’ll already be on the threshold of our own commanders’ late-summer deadline for judging the surge, what’s the crisis?

The president then ratcheted up his habitual exploitation of the suffering of the troops and their families — a button he had pushed five days earlier when making his six-weeks-tardy visit to pose for photos at scandal-ridden Walter Reed. “Congress’s failure to fund our troops on the front lines will mean that some of our military families could wait longer for their loved ones to return from the front lines,” he said. “And others could see their loved ones headed back to the war sooner than they need to.”


How Many People Want McCain To Be President?

When you phrase the question in a certain way, the number you get is zero. McCain clearly dislikes the question and tries to get out of it.

Are You Feeling Safer Yet?

I'm really glad that the TSA is protecting me when I fly around the country. The level of security is unheard of. Just last month when dropping my mom off at Newark airport one of the head guys talked down to her like she was 2 yr old when she wanted to know which way to go the ticketing office. Then he proceeded to flirt with one of the young women working there and within seconds was acting with condescension towards another traveler.

When I heard that Walter Murphy was placed on the no-fly list, it was apparent that safety for American flyers was job number one. Why you ask? Is Mr. Murphy a terrorist? Sponsor terrorism around the world that is aimed at American interests? What could possibly be the reason for a Princeton Professor Emeritus to be banned from flying? Well, he was speaking out against King George and his 'benevolent' government that cares so much about our citizens and those around the globe.

From Balkinization:

"On 1 March 07, I was scheduled to fly on American Airlines to Newark, NJ, to attend an academic conference at Princeton University, designed to focus on my latest scholarly book, Constitutional Democracy, published by Johns Hopkins University Press this past Thanksgiving."

"When I tried to use the curb-side check in at the Sunport, I was denied a boarding pass because I was on the Terrorist Watch list. I was instructed to go inside and talk to a clerk. At this point, I should note that I am not only the McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence (emeritus) but also a retired Marine colonel. I fought in the Korean War as a young lieutenant, was wounded, and decorated for heroism. I remained a professional soldier for more than five years and then accepted a commission as a reserve office, serving for an additional 19 years."

"I presented my credentials from the Marine Corps to a very polite clerk for American Airlines. One of the two people to whom I talked asked a question and offered a frightening comment: "Have you been in any peace marches? We ban a lot of people from flying because of that." I explained that I had not so marched but had, in September, 2006, given a lecture at Princeton, televised and put on the Web, highly critical of George Bush for his many violations of the Constitution. "That'll do it," the man said. "

"After carefully examining my credentials, the clerk asked if he could take them to TSA officials. I agreed. He returned about ten minutes later and said I could have a boarding pass, but added: "I must warn you, they=re going to ransack your luggage." On my return flight, I had no problem with obtaining a boarding pass, but my luggage was "lost." Airlines do lose a lot of luggage and this "loss" could have been a mere coincidence. In light of previous events, however, I'm a tad skeptical."

I would be a tad skeptical as well. All kidding aside, this is just another story that highlights the disgraceful TSA and the Bush Administration that tries to silence dissent at any cost. I personally despise the TSA, their 'security' is nothing more than smoke and mirrors that only humiliates people into taking off their shoes, belts and whatever else the men with the gold-plates badges ask of you.


It takes an army these days to keep track of all the scandals emanating from the White House. Prosecutor-gate, GSA-gate, NSA-gate, illegal war-gate and so much more continuously makes the news because of the corrupt Bush Administration. Well now there is yet another potential abuse of power perpetrated by George's merry men.

From The LA Times:

Waxman told the Los Angeles Times in a statement that a separate "e-mail system for high-ranking White House officials would raise serious questions about violations of the Presidential Records Act," which requires the preservation and ultimate disclosure of e-mails about official government business.

Waxman's initial request to the RNC seeks e-mails relating to the presentation of campaign polling and strategy information to Cabinet agency appointees. He is also expected to ask for e-mails relating to Abramoff's activities, which Waxman is also investigating.

The Senate and House Judiciary Committees are also expected to formally request e-mail records from the RNC that relate to last year's firing of eight U.S. attorneys.

The private e-mail system came to light in the U.S. attorney controversy because one of Rove's deputies used an RNC-maintained e-mail domain — — to communicate with the Justice Department about replacing one of those prosecutors.

So from the prosecutor purge debacle this new potential scandal is coming to light. Using back-channel emails in this manner may violate the Presidential Records Act because of the White House's desire for ultimate secrecy. That hush-hush attitude has gotten the Administration in hot water already and this can just add more fuel to the fire.

Republicans are visibly worried over this latest request for information by Congressman Waxman because of the damning material that may be in those emails. Using the government for political maneuvering in this manner is a serious no-no and it doesn't seem that the White House really cared to follow those rules. Republican officials say that they created the email system to avoid troubles that arose in the Clinton years, but as the Republican and former Asst. Press Secretary Adam Levine said: "the road to hell is paved with good intentions."

Ford's Mulally Literally Saves Bush's Life

Ford Motor Company's CEO Alan Mulally didn't have to know the heimlich maneuver to save the life of the President today but his knowledge of cars did. George Bush wasn't threatened by pretzels on the south lawn of the White House but his lack of knowledge on the mechanics of hydrogen powered cars.

Mulally wanted to give the President a demonstration of the vehicle's charging abilities and had an electrical outlet run on the grounds to the car. Apparently someone mistakenly laid the end of the cord near the hydrogen tank. If it had been plugged into the tank, the results would have been disastrous.

When the pair walked towards the car Mulally noticed the misplacement and tried to beat George to the car to prevent an accident. Of course Bush unwittingly sped up and picked up the cord, though he was guided by his guest towards the front of the car and from there everything went smoothly. So congratulations are in order for the CEO, perhaps even a Presidential Medal Freedom. When Mulally shared this information with the press he asked if it was off the record, though since you are reading this, you can see it was not.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

The WaPo's Editorial Page Is Screwed Up

And their columists know it. Check out what Eugene Robinson had to say about Fred Hiatt and company over Nancy Pelosi going to Syria.

Women Bloggers Getting Attacked, And On The Attack

On Reliable Sources today, Howie Kurtz tried to go along with right-winger Mary Ham that only rightwing women get attacked in the blogosphere. Unfortunately for them Arianna Huffington was on the panel and infused a little bit of truth into the matter. Reality sucks for wingnuts when it obliterates their narrow little world.

From Crooks and Liars:

HAM: I disagree just a little bit. I think it is easy to say that this is a problem of both sides without realizing that there, despite Arianna's obvious comportment and elegance on TV that there are some serious monkeys hanging from the rafters over on the left side of the blogosphere.

HUFFINGTON: Absolutely. I think it is really amazing that people like Michelle and others are really trying to make that a left-right thing. I read everything Joan wrote on the subject, and there wasn't a single thing that singled out progressive women bloggers. It was all about women.

And the idea that this is a left-wing phenomenon is just laughable, absolutely laughable. I mean, the most toxic women on TV practically is Anne Coulter, who is solidly on the right, who talks about rat poison for Judge Stevens, who talks about The New York Times journalists needing to be executed. I mean, this is the kind of absolutely toxic vile talk. And she is not even anonymous. So please, you know, let's stop this absurd idea that this has anything to do with the progressive blogosphere.

It is absurd to believe for one second that only the left attacks the right. Seriously what world is Mary living in? Coulter may have the most notoriety among the hateful right-wing bloggers, but everyone knows that there are so many more. All you need to do is go over to LGF, Townhall, Redstate or the other wingnut sites and see the vile that they spew. Sure, there are some hateful comments from the left, but for Mary Ham to play the victim is ridiculous.

A Scene From The Matrix, Easter Style

Welcome to the real world Neo:

No Resurrection In Iraq

So today is Easter Sunday, one of the holiest days in Christianity. A time for many families to get together and celebrate Christ (and a few Jews to keep eating Matzah depending on the position of the lunar calendar). More importantly it is a good time to reflect on the ways of the world and the current times. Pope Benedict XVI did just that in his sermon today from the Vatican and he focused on the reality of Iraq along with the suffering that takes place on a daily basis worldwide.

From CNN:

"How many wounds, how much suffering there is in the world," the pontiff said, delivering his traditional "Urbi et Orbi" Easter address from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica as tens of thousands of pilgrims and tourists listened in the square.

Benedict read out a litany of troubling current events, saying he was thinking of the "terrorism and kidnapping of people, of the thousand faces of violence which some people attempt to justify in the name of religion, of contempt for life, of the violation of human rights and the exploitation of persons."

"Afghanistan is marked by growing unrest and instability," Benedict said. "In the Middle East, besides some signs of hope in the dialogue between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, nothing positive comes from Iraq, torn apart by continual slaughter as the civil population flees."

He singled out what he called the "catastrophic, and sad to say, underestimated, humanitarian situation" in Darfur as well as other African places of suffering, including violence and looting in Congo, fighting in Somalia -- which, he said, drove away the prospect of peace -- and the "grievous crisis" in Zimbabwe, marked by crackdowns on dissidents, a disastrous economy and severe corruption.

Kudos to the Pope for giving voice to all of the mayhem that occurs in our world. The pope directly refuted one of the White House talking points that good things happen in Iraq. The truth of the matter is that they don't. Things are only getting worse by the moment. The only trick is to actually do something to help our planet.

The Mantra

President Bush's popularity (or what is left of it) came from one thing and one thing alone, fear. It wasn't simply "9/11", it was the fear of another attack and his faux determination to get the terrorist that perpetrated that terrible act. His determination was only to exert control over the country in order to carry out the plan to destroy America as we know it. Civil liberties are on the decline, our popularity across the globe is almost non-existant and wealth is flowing at an uncontrollable rate towards the elite.

How the hell did he do this? It was fear, and the primary tool of that was to say that if we didn't attack our enemies over there, they would come here. But, how true is that statement? The military and many diplomats say it isn't.

From McClatchy:

“The president is using a primitive, inarticulate argument that leaves him open to criticism and caricature,” said James Jay Carafano, a homeland security and counterterrorism expert for the Heritage Foundation, a conservative policy organization. “It’s a poor choice of words that doesn’t convey the essence of the problem - that walking away from a problem doesn’t solve anything.”

U.S. military, intelligence and diplomatic experts in Bush's own government say the violence in Iraq is primarily a struggle for power between Shiite and Sunni Muslim Iraqis seeking to dominate their society, not a crusade by radical Sunni jihadists bent on carrying the battle to the United States.

Foreign-born jihadists are present in Iraq, but they're believed to number only between 4 percent and 10 percent of the estimated 30,000 insurgent fighters - 1,200 to 3,000 terrorists - according to the Defense Intelligence Agency and a recent study by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a center-right research center.

Even conservative think-tanks such as the Heritage Foundation knows this. If they can admit to the truth, it shows that America really is waking up to Bush's failed policy and the tools he uses to implement them. It is time to throw off the yoke that George Bush has around our collective neck and choose a new direction. It is time to get the hell out of there and focus on what is truly important for the United States.