I still can't get over the fact that a man named Frosty fought against Al Gore's movie from being shown in the Seattle schools. This interview by Jason Jones of the Daily Show utterly destroys this man's credibility and facade of sanity.
Saturday, April 21, 2007
I still can't get over the fact that a man named Frosty fought against Al Gore's movie from being shown in the Seattle schools. This interview by Jason Jones of the Daily Show utterly destroys this man's credibility and facade of sanity.
I've always joked around that there are personality differences between the two ideologies and that you can tell a Republican from a Democrat from early on. I remember one of my friends from 3rd grade was always obsessed about what things cost and all things money. So it didn't surprise me that he turned out to be a Republican (there were other factors as well). I on the other hand was more artistic, messy, cared about the environment and supported Dukakis (being 7yrs old at the time).
Now there is definitive proof by a psychological study that shows true differences between Liberals and Conservatives. All the information makes complete sense and is easily seen in real life if you know what to look for. It puts a damper on people that believe reasoning on issues is the basic motivator for determining political persuasions.
From Psychology Today:
"All people are born alike—except Republicans and Democrats," quipped Groucho Marx, and in fact it turns out that personality differences between liberals and conservatives are evident in early childhood. In 1969, Berkeley professors Jack and Jeanne Block embarked on a study of childhood personality, asking nursery school teachers to rate children's temperaments. They weren't even thinking about political orientation.
Twenty years later, they decided to compare the subjects' childhood personalities with their political preferences as adults. They found arresting patterns. As kids, liberals had developed close relationships with peers and were rated by their teachers as self-reliant, energetic, impulsive, and resilient. People who were conservative at age 23 had been described by their teachers as easily victimized, easily offended, indecisive, fearful, rigid, inhibited, and vulnerable at age 3. The reason for the difference, the Blocks hypothesized, was that insecure kids most needed the reassurance of tradition and authority, and they found it in conservative politics.
The most comprehensive review of personality and political orientation to date is a 2003 meta-analysis of 88 prior studies involving 22,000 participants. The researchers—John Jost of NYU, Arie Kruglanski of the University of Maryland, and Jack Glaser and Frank Sulloway of Berkeley—found that conservatives have a greater desire to reach a decision quickly and stick to it, and are higher on conscientiousness, which includes neatness, orderliness, duty, and rule-following. Liberals are higher on openness, which includes intellectual curiosity, excitement-seeking, novelty, creativity for its own sake, and a craving for stimulation like travel, color, art, music, and literature.
The article goes into sub-topics such as the bias of liberal researchers, the thinking habits of either side and many more areas of interest. Of course a liberal can be neat and orderly, but still have the majority of traits listed for left-leaners. I know that for me that I have almost all of the personality traits that signify a liberal.
Another key aspect of the piece shows the transformation of 'liberals' becoming conservative after 9/11. This proved to them that people with deep-seated fears will tend to become their true selves when a major event like that triggers life and death questions and the need to be safe. In fact, when you hear George Bush speak, he is talking to those scared conservatives that want to hear his tough talk to satisfy that safety need. Addressing issues in black and white terms also helps them cope with the world. When it comes to fearfulness and safety, describing the world in simple terms helps is easier for that part of the brain to deal with, since fear comes from the part of the brain that deals with instinct and is 'older' in a way. On the other side of the spectrum, people that are immersed in complex thought have an easier time seeing issues that have multiple sides to them. Conservatives see this as a weakness and call it 'flip-flopping', as Bush did to Kerry in 2004.
If I'm not making sense to you, go check out the article and let the experts explain. I guess I am just rambling on with my artistic, messy, liberal self.
The Federal Court of Appeals in Manhattan turned its back on the citizens of Lower Manhattan and the first responders to 9/11 by denying them litigation against the EPA. The Federal Court decided to protect Christine Whitman's awful and deadly declaration that the air was safe to breathe around Ground Zero. I personally feel that these people should be sent to jail for their criminal behavior, but to deny their victims compensation is atrocious.
The court's decision to throw out a suit brought against then-EPA head Christie Whitman, infuriated lawyer David Worby, who represents thousands of first responders and construction workers who are suing the city.
"There was 400,000 pounds of asbestos, 91,000 liters of burning jet fuels, 125,000 gallons of burning Con Ed transformer oils with PCBs in it, 500,000 units of mercury 200,000 pounds of led, among other things," Worby said. "Should she be let off the hook for saying that was safe? I don't think so."
Exactly! Whitman had to know that there were deadly chemicals in the air, yet to show that America was tough and wanting to work on the scene as soon as possible the government cared nothing about the workers' safety. Now there are people dying from their lung conditions with tens of thousands who are sick from the toxic air.
David Worby should not give up in his quest for justice. The problem is that Bush has been stocking the courts with people that will support his government and not regular people who are made into victims due to unethical actions such as Christine Whitman's.
Friday, April 20, 2007
The New York justice system got a little cleaner yesterday with the conviction of ex-state Supreme Court Justice Gerald Garson. Judge Garson had his own spin on the legal system, to manipulate it in his favor. He was found guilty of three of seven counts of bribery and misconduct as secret recordings showed that he was on the take and ruled for plaintiffs or defendants based on deals he had with their lawyers.
This case is personal for me because my cousin was on the wrong end of Garson's gavel in a custody suit with his ex-wife. Despite evidence that my cousin was a great father to his son, Garson gave full custody to his ex-wife without visitation rights. Now it is hard for him to even get in touch with his kid. Garson ruined part of my family and I am glad to see that karma has come around to the judge that treated his family court like a joke.
(Brooklyn - WABC, April 19, 2007) - A guilty verdict was reached Thursday in the trial of former Brooklyn state Supreme Court Justice Gerald Garson.Garson was found guilty of three of seven counts of bribery and misconduct. He showed no reaction as the verdict was read.
Six other people have already been convicted of crimes linked to the case.
The trial for Garson, who is 74, had been delayed due to appeals on procedures. Garson faces a maximum of seven years in prison when he's sentenced in June.
Prosecutors had used video from a camera setup in the judge's chamber showing him allegedly taking gifts from a divorce lawyer who's clients then got favorable rulings.
This tape was made in Judge Gerald Garson's robing room back in 2003.
First we hear Judge Garson trashing his job.
"Let me tell you something about this job...one of the great things about this job is I don't know what the f--- I have tomorrow, until I get here ... I don't give a s--- either, you know? ..."
Let me tell you something Gerald, I give a shit. My cousin gives a shit and so does my Aunt, who is not allowed to see her grandson. My Aunt is one of the sweetest ladies I have ever known and the way she is treated due your criminal history while sitting on the bench is atrocious.
George Bush's handlers go to extraordinary lengths to mask his lack of coherency when he speaks freely. It sounds fake when he parrots the right-wing talking points, but at least it is consistent with the garbage that they all spew. Yesterday White House officials forgot to bring George's leash in Tipp City, Ohio and things went awry. He talked for 90 minutes about anything and everything, even admitting a similarity between Iraq and Vietnam.
Here are some highlights care of the Huffington Post:
_"Politics comes and goes, but your principles don't. And everybody wants to be loved _ not everybody. ... You never heard anybody say, `I want to be despised, I'm running for office.'"
_"The best thing about my family is my wife. She is a great first lady. I know that sounds not very objective, but that's how I feel. And she's also patient. Putting up with me requires a lot of patience."
_"There are jobs Americans aren't doing. ... If you've got a chicken factory, a chicken-plucking factory, or whatever you call them, you know what I'm talking about."
_"There are some similarities, of course" between Iraq and Vietnam. "Death is terrible."
_"I've been in politics long enough to know that polls just go poof at times."
As he has before, Bush told the story about how his first presidential decision was to pick a rug for the Oval Office, a task he quickly cast to his wife. He told her to make sure the rug reflected optimism "because you can't make decisions unless you're optimistic that the decisions you make will lead to a better tomorrow."
Later, when he talked about his hope for succeeding in Iraq, Bush said, "Remember the rug?"
Those saying always give me this weird feeling that mixes amusement and irritation all at once. If he was locked in an insane asylum, then the musing would just be pathetically funny. The fact that he is running the United States off of a cliff while making jokes on the way down irritates the shit out of me.
In case you haven't been around much lately, the Daily Show provides some detail on Gonzales' testimony in the Senate yesterday and a little bit of background on what he has said, what he thinks he said and what he wants you to think about what he said. Confused? Stewart will straighten you out. Even if you celebrated National Meth Day with the Attorney General.
The Federal Bureau of Investigations are meant to investigate dangerous criminals in the United States. Well they certainly have a treasure trove of them in the Republican caucus. Earlier this week they raided the businesses of John Doolittle for his connections with Jack Abramoff. After a quick rest the FBI went one state over to raid Rick Renzi's business (link to subscription-only Roll Call). Technically it was under his wife's name, but when it comes to the corrupt practices of sneaky Republicans it isn't hard to connect the dots.
From Roll Call via ThinkProgress:
Little is known about the inquiries into Renzi’s activities, but according to media reports the Justice Department has been running a two-track investigation into Renzi regarding a land deal, as well as a piece of legislation he helped steer that may have improperly benefited a major campaign contributor. It was not immediately clear which investigation the raid pertained to, and neither his attorney nor his spokesman could be immediately reached for comment.
As a result of the raid, Renzi is stepping down from his seat on the House Intelligence Committee, according to a statement from his office obtained Thursday evening by Roll Call.
“Today, the FBI came to my family’s business to obtain documents related to their investigation,” Renzi said. “I view these actions as the first step in bringing out the truth. Until this matter is resolved, I will take a leave of absence from the House Intelligence Committee. I intend to fully cooperate with this investigation.”
I am glad to hear he is mentioning the 'truth.' Stepping down from his committee is a good first step in taking responsibility for his unethical actions as a public servant. The truth is that he has only been serving his own interests up in Arizona's 1st Congressional district. Of course saying he will fully cooperate with the investigation and actually doing it are two totally separate things. If he truly wants to get squared up he should tell investigators about his illegalities (alleged of course), resign from office and take the punishment that is most fitting for his particular crimes, kinda like Duke Cunningham.
Dana Rohrabacher, in the true loving spirit of the Republican party had some kind words for those that do not support the Bush Administration. Apparently in his sick and twisted mind, he believes that if you do not support George Bush's secret torture program that stretched across Europe, he wants your family to die. The black and white thinking of this sad little (well not so little) man shows his hatred for anyone that opposes the Bush Administration and its never-ending efforts to destroy the constitution and the support of the world for our country. That small-mindedness was exemplified in all its glory towards the European Parliament’s committee on Human rights.
Back to the Congressional hearing. With eyes narrowed and mouth in a contorted grimace, Congressman Rohrabacker attacked the two British and one Italian members of the European Parliament who testified before the committee. Reminding one of Joe McCarty in tone and substance, Rohrabacker demeaned and degraded the report and chastised, belittled and berated the Parliamentarians. Remarkably, Rohrabacker said the most of the CIA private flights that landed in Europe were to transport CIA agents all over the world, not to move prisoners. Yet the logs of the 1245 flights have been tied by date and location to the movement of specific individual prisoners from one location to another.
Rohrabacher railed against anyone who questioned the right of the Bush administration to do whatever it wanted, legal or illegal, to prevent terrorist acts and said that by not supporting the Bush policies was consigning their country to the terrorists. In particular he said that any Americans who questioned the extraordinary rendition were un-American.
Citing historic examples of other countries kidnapping persons, Rohrabacker said Israel had every right to kidnap Nazi official Adolph Eichmann from Argentina, bring him to Israel and execute him. Rohrabacher conveniently forgot to mention that the Israeli government did put Eichmann on trial, a trial which none of those who have been extraordinarily rendered have had. Rohrabacher then attacked and belittled the European Community for outlawing the death penalty saying that “You in the European community won’t stand up to evil people, you won’t execute them. Eichmann deserved to be executed, just like these terrorists must be executed.”
Someone needs to wipe that goofy smile off of his face and remind him what America is truly about. We are supposed to have this thing called the rule of law, and neither him or his master in the White House have any respect for that time-honored tradition. It is what has helped America to be the great country we became, but are now falling from in the eyes of its awakened citizens and the global community. And by the way, the Israelis put Eichmann on trial, a right that was not afforded to those secret prisoners the CIA shipped around the world.
Thursday, April 19, 2007
Lets face facts, your position in life when you are born makes a huge difference in where you end up as you get older. Pulling yourself up by the proverbial bootstraps is a rarity, where such cases are highlighted by conservative to try and prove that the government does not need to provide assistance to it's citizens. Today, people in poverty are working hard at low-paying jobs and still have trouble scraping enough together. Like Peter Edelman says in the video below, it isn't about those that bilk the government for welfare checks. The reality is far different than the right wing spin you hear about the less fortunate among us.
For those of you up on your American slang, the headline does not mean John McCain knows how to sing well, or at all for that matter. He did however belt out a tune that honestly leaves a disturbing image in my head. When answering a question from a fan about Iran, he decided to turn his response into a song, a cheap rip off of "Barbara Ann" by the Beach Boys.
From The Georgetown Times:
Another man — wondering if an attack on Iran is in the works — wanted to know when America is going to “send an air mail message to Tehran.”
McCain began his answer by changing the words to a popular Beach Boys song.
“Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran,” he sang to the tune of Barbara Ann. “Iran is dedicated to the destruction of Israel. That alone should concern us but now they are trying for nuclear capabilities. I totally support the President when he says we will not allow Iran to destroy Israel.”
He stopped short of answering the actual question and did not say if he supports an invasion of Iran.
First of all he knows we can't invade Iran because we simply do not have the troops to carry out such an epic endeavor. Invading Iran would be nothing like our soiree in Iraq and we would be punished accordingly. Iran is the regional power and is far more advanced than Iraq was 4 years ago when they were conquered.
And most importantly in the context of this story...WTF John McCain? How does a rational person make sense of a Presidential candidate making joke about bombing the crap out of Iran? It is not a comical matter. You are talking about significant loss of civilians lives and who knows what Iranian revenge would be for our own soldiers. Bombing another country is not something to take lightly, what we should take lightly is thinking that McCain has a serious shot at the White House. He can't help himself from looking foolish every chance he's got.
As an eastsider in the city, I always thought it unfair that the Westside had more subway lines than over here by the East River. All you need to do is look at an MTA map and you can see the difference. Riding the 4-5-6 is almost always packed to the brim and although every subway line can get crowded, the Lexington Local is the only line east of 6th Ave. So naturally I think that building a 2nd Ave. line is a great idea. In a perfect world it would have been done decades ago, but hey, this is New York.
There is a great blog that is covering all things related to the proposed line called Second Avenue Sagas. It is a great name because the saga of the line is quite lengthy. The entire project has an estimated cost of $17 billion dollars, but way back when the first ground-breaking ceremony was conducted, the price tag was far lower. Of course the beginning of the T line was first brought forth in September 1929 and then the Great Depression came, ending any hope of an additional Eastside line. Then it was tried again in 1951, 1968 and 1972 to no avail.
So 78 years later the project begins again, yet it is still in doubt. It seems that the project is now $800 million short with blame being passed around to all parties. Even the feds are wary about giving money to cover their part. If a miracle occurs and the expenses are covered, the first section from 96th to 63rd St. will be finished by 2013. If the MTA builds the next section to the south then I expect to have service in my neck of the woods somewhere around 2020. Of course, that would be in the perfect world scenario, so I think I'll just walk for now.
Today the Attorney General finally got to face the music at the Senate Judiciary Committee meeting meant to examine his role in the political power play that is the U.S. Attorney scandal. Gonzales took fire from all sides, regardless of party affiliation Everyone from Jeff Sessions to Patrick Leahy accused him of being dishonest in his testimony and that his story did not add up with the facts.
From The Associated Press:
WASHINGTON — His job in jeopardy, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales insisted Thursday he played only a minor role in the dismissal of eight federal prosecutors. Skeptical senators reacted with disbelief.
"We have to evaluate whether you are really being forthright," Sen. Arlen Specter bluntly informed the nation's chief law enforcement officer.
The Pennsylvania Republican said Gonzales' description was "significantly if not totally at variance with the facts."
In a long turn in the witness chair, Gonzales said that despite initial administration claims that the prosecutors had been fired for inadequate performance, he approved their dismissals without looking at their job evaluations.
The facts are that Gonzales was heavily involved in the process as the memos note, particularly the one where he attended a meeting in November about the matter. Then there is that thing about Monica Goodling. If she pled the fifth and ended her political career, there must be something to hide that not only protects her but the people she worked with in the White House and the Attorney General's office.
No matter how many lies the principals in the scandal tell, the facts will come together to paint a vivid picture of what actually happened. It is only a matter of time, what with the media frenzy and commitment of the investigating Senators who want to get to the bottom of this.
Prosecutors who are recommending a reduced sentence for the corrupt con Jack Abramoff seem to be justified in their actions since Jack is providing so much 'fruit' for them. The latest crooked politician that is shaking in his boots is John Doolittle. He barely won his strong Republican district last year amidst allegations of criminal behavior. Although the voters didn't show him the door, the Feds might just do it for them.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation has reportedly raided the home of Republican congressmember John Doolittle (R-CA), according to The Hill.
"The FBI searched the Virginia home of [Doolittle] last Friday," write Mike Soraghan and Susan Crabtree, "in its investigation into the ties of the congressman and his wife, Julie, to disgraced former lobbyist Jack Abramoff, according to law enforcement and other Congressional and K Street sources."
So what does a Republican such as John do when faced with severe legal troubles? Like any other, blame it on someone else. Amazingly he put the blame on his wife since the FBI raided her office as well, conveniently leaving out the fact that he was thoroughly searched as well. He said he supports his wife 100 percent, so at least he isn't completely abandoning her. She might have been in on the schemes, but it is because of him that this is all taking place.
Regardless of what happens to Julie Doolittle, the facts are clear when it comes to the Congressman. He took in tens of thousands in contributions and all sorts of goodies in exchange for political payoffs. Now that Abramoff is in jail and singing as loud as he can, it is only a matter of time before Doolittle will have to stand before judge and jury.
With the ease of the internet it should be no problem to see the campaign financial information of every candidate that runs for office. In the House of Representatives, all of their important people and numbers are easily accessible online. Yet that is not the case for the Senate.
Dianne Feinstein and Russ Feingold have been working on getting a bill pass so that the public can see documents in pdf format rather than in giant boxes of paper for a few years now and you would think that having the majority could speed things up. Apparently they could not due to a secret Senator in the Republican caucus. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) brought up the objection to the bill but did not name who was holding up the legislation.
Feingold had a quick reply:
“I am disappointed that a Republican Senator has chosen to block my bill to require Senate campaign reports to be filed electronically. This bill has bipartisan support in the Senate and significant support around the country, from editorial boards to bloggers on both the left and the right. I am aware of no opposition to it at all. I do not understand why someone in this body would block a bill that simply brings the Senate filing process into the 21st century, and do so anonymously and without explanation.”
In the last session of Congress we found out that Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) was the sneaky bastard who fought to keep public information from being widely dispersed. The question is who is doing it now? Could it be Mr. Internet tubes again or another one of his Republican buddies? Knowing the effectiveness of the blogosphere, I think we will discover the culprit and put the hot, glaring spotlight on them in no time.
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
We hear about the tremendous amounts of murdered Iraqi civilians everyday now. These reports can seem to melt together until it just looks like numbers on a spreadsheet. It is important to remember that these are actual people too, with lives that have been shattered by civil war. Here is a clip of a young man that shows where his grandma lives and he spent a lot of youth at right on the banks of the Tigris River. Check out Ausama's tour of this home:
Quite a few brave souls of the 101st Fighting Keyboardist brigade lashed out at the victims at Virginia Tech for not being manly enough to fight back against Cho Seung-Hui. As he came into the class and killed dozens of students before ending his own life, the arrogant wingnuts claimed that they would have done more to try to save themselves and their fellow classmates. Well it turns out that there were victims who tried to stop Seung-Hui from his murderous rampage. One of those was a holocaust survivor, who ended up dying for his brave actions.
From The Roanoke Times:
In the flurry of students dialing 911 on cell phones, taking cover on the floor and twisting open second story windows to escape, Merrey, 22, glanced over her shoulder before jumping.
“I just remember looking back and seeing him at the door,” the Virginia Tech senior recalled of her professor. “I don’t think I would be here if it wasn’t for him.”
By Tuesday morning, newspapers from Washington, D.C., to Jerusalem shared the story of how Librescu — a 76 year-old Holocaust survivor — blocked his classroom doorway from a gunman while his students leapt to freedom.
More than being 'manly,' this incredible professor with an equally amazing past was a hero to many that survived this week's tragic incident in Virginia. There were also other students that tried jamming the door, yet in the right-wingers blaze of furious typing, they callously disregarded the emotional damage wrought by the event and displayed fake machismo on their computer screens.
So now that the facts are out, will John Derbyshire, Nathaniel Blake and Mark Steyn be courageous enough to apologize to the victims and their families for the egregious mistakes they made? I'm willing to guess that is a no.
California is touted as a state that is flush with cash for political candidates, but New York takes the cake when you consider who got what and how much. New York City accounted for 10 percent of all political donations in the first quarter($12 million). L.A., the Bay Area and even D.C. combined fell short of New York with $7 million. Out of that amount, Hillary acquired $4 million and Giuliani came in 2nd at $2 million.
A lot of that cash comes from Wall Street and the employees that work at the big firms. Candidates have touted their people-power potential, such as Hillary with 50,000 donors and Obama counting 100,000 individuals. Despite the large array of contributors, the real money still comes from large donors. So while the candidates and their spokespeople talk about a large crowd of support, the fundraisers still know where to go when they want gobs of cash.
Paul Wolfowitz is making headlines now over political favors he did for his girlfriend while serving as head of the World Bank, but he has been around before 2005. The neo-con guru was a key architect for the war in Iraq, promising flowers and oil flowing by the billions of barrels into the U.S. treasury. He apologized for what he did for his girl Shaha, but, um, what about the fucking war in Iraq?
I've heard some Democrats say that Bush only uses the social conservative issues to rile the base, but not ever really wanting to repeal Roe v. Wade. That is nonsense and Bush's new Supreme Court affirmed it this morning. In a 5-4 decision, the 2003 Partial-Birth Abortion Act was upheld in Gonzales v. Carhart reversed a ruling made in 2000 that denied a similar bill to be constitutional.
This is a very sad day for those that believe in the right for a woman to choose. Although Roe v. Wade was not specifically overturned, this marks a turning point for the Court in how it views the question of abortion rights. The decision is the first time abortion rights were restricted in the 34 years since the landmark Roe ruling.
The dissenters, led by Ruth Bader Ginsberg, were extremely unhappy:
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, speaking out in the courtroom for the dissenters, called the ruling "an alarming decision" that refuses "to take seriously" the Court's 1992 decisions reaffirming most of Roe v. Wade and its 2000 decision in Stenberg v. Carhart striking down a state partial-birth abortion law.
Ginsburg, in a lengthy statement, said "the Court's opinion tolerates, indeed applauds, federal intervention to ban nationwide a procedure found necessary and proper in certain cases by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. For the first time since Roe, the Court blesses a prohibition with no exception protecting a woman's health." She said the federal ban "and the Court's defense of it cannot be understood as anything other than an effort to chip away at a right declared again and again by this Court -- and with increasing comprehension of its centrality to women's lives. A decision of the character the Court makes today should not have staying power."
That final comment, concluding remarks delivered matter-of-factly, clearly was a suggestion that the ruling might not survive new appointments to the Court -- just as the arrival of Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., and, especially, Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr. -- had led to the switch she claimed had come about this time. Ginsburg pointedly noted that the Court is "differently imposed that it was when we last considered a restrictive abortion regulation" -- in Stenberg in 2000.
There is a reason conservatives have been so focused on the judicial system and replacing judges with faithful tools like Justice Roberts and Alito. If not for George Bush, this would not have happened. Yet there are consequences for our actions, and when GWB Jr got elected, we were in for a terrible time. 2009 can not come fast enough. I pray that the time lapses quickly without incidents like this, yet they seem to come all the time.
Mess o'potamia is still in the proverbial shitter, but a Bush Administration official said that part of what is good is that will astound you. Defense Secretary Gates actually credited the Democratic Congress on its push to leave Iraq, giving the Iraqis a big sign that we want to get the hell out of there. It is always funny to see someone on the other side realize that you were, well, right all along. I wonder if his boss will follow his Defense Secretary and stop bashing Democrats over a plan that is showing success?
From The Washington Post:
Toward that end, Gates said demands in the U.S. Congress for a timeline to withdraw American troops from Iraq are constructive because they exert pressure on Iraq's leaders to forge compromises.
"The debate in Congress . . . has been helpful in demonstrating to the Iraqis that American patience is limited," Gates told Pentagon reporters traveling with him in Jordan. "The strong feelings expressed in the Congress about the timetable probably has had a positive impact . . . in terms of communicating to the Iraqis that this is not an open-ended commitment."
I wonder if Bush approved those comments before Gates went out on his own. Bush we know is lying through his teeth the moment he gets on stage for his little pep rallies, but this cabinet member might just a few more honest bones than George. Gates was discussing Moqtada al-Sadr's move to have all of his supporters in the Iraqi cabinet walk out, suggesting the continuing crumble of the inept government over there.
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Recently state Senate majority leader Joe Bruno condemned Eliot Spitzer's birthday party fundraiser slated for June while making no mention of his own bash coming up next month. Of course that is just empty rhetoric trying to cast a negative light on the governor. The actions of the two elected officials shows the truth between the men and campaign finance reform.
From The Empire Zone:
Gov. Eliot Spitzer set out his agenda for the rest of the Legislative session, which runs through June 21, and campaign finance reform was at the top of the list. Slight problem: The Senate majority leader, Joseph L. Bruno, detailed his own agenda for the rest of the session this week and campaign finance reform was nowhere on his list.
“The first question I asked Joe when he discussed this with me, ‘how’s it affect me? Is it retroactive, do we go back eight years?’” Mr. Bruno said, drawing chuckles from the press. “And I got the proper assurances.”
Mr. Bruno, 78, has been majority leader for more than a decade. As for campaign finance reform, he said, “if we can get three way agreement, we’re prepared to do a bill.”
The governor emphasized that his priority was lowering contribution limits–he has already lowered the limit on himself from roughly $50,000 per donor to $10,000. But there are a number of other issues he has raised, from public financing to closing loopholes, including one that allows donors to far exceed the limits by contributing through limited liability companies.
The truth shows that Governor Spitzer is serious about campaign finance reform, while Joe Bruno makes jokes about it. Too bad that the press laughed at his apathy towards cleaner government. When it comes to Joe bilking the system for his own benefit, it is no laughing matter. Joe is a tired, old and corrupt politician that is used to doing New York's business in smoky back rooms. Spitzer is trying to air things out and let the citizens of the Empire State get a better look at their legislature and so that they will be more accountable to those that elect them.
With Virginia Tech's tragedy in the news coupled with the new push by the right for easing restrictions on guns, there's an interesting twist that developed inside the White House gate today. A Secret Service officer's gun went off accidentally on the grounds and injured two fellow members. Thankfully this firearm incident was non-life threatening to both of them, one being hit in the leg and the other receiving shrapnel to the face.
I'm not advocating that the guardians of the President lay down their weapons and fight potential assassins with sticks and stones. Yet the incident shows that guns are indeed dangerous weapons, even if not meant to intentionally harm someone. Many Republicans are in favor of lighter gun laws and they think that by somehow arming everyone that wants to shoot, the horrible event down at Virginia Tech could have been avoided.
These gun nuts really are clueless when it comes to firearms. People such as those in the military, the police force and other weapons experts are well trained to deal with intense situations such as a shoot out. Regular citizens that like to go shooting down at the range on nights and weekends have no experience and no idea what to expect in such an adrenaline-packed situation. Wearing ear muffs and controlling a paper target on a string is one thing, real life is another. Memo to gun nuts, stop trying to live up to Rambo, this isn't a movie.
Apparently all of us who are fighting to end the war (70 percent of the country) are merely childish in our thoughts when we see the never-ending violence in the news coming from Iraq. According to Brit Hume at Fox News, we really need to look at the big picture, whatever the Republican/neo-con spin is on that at the moment. I thought it was WMDs at first, then making America safe here by fighting there and now infused with a little bit of democracy-spreading over in the Middle East. The problem with Brit Hume is that he doesn't see the big picture, the thick wall in his mind only has a small, narrow window to look out onto the world.
In his words:
What we desperately need right now is to get the hell out of Iraq. Reading the newspapers everyday is a good start for people trying to get a handle on what exactly is going on in that civil-war ravaged country. Again, it is not a military solution that we need, it is a diplomatic solution. The longer our troops stay there and get caught in the crossfire, the more we suffer and the people that live there as well.
“I mean, people are citing the casualty figures. When you decide to fight — which is basically what’s happened here. We’ve decided to put the necessary troops into Baghdad to try to secure the capital in the hopes that that atmosphere created by doing that will allow political progress to go forward.
“There’s going to be more bloodshed when you do more fighting. And the enemy is not going to sit still and just take this. So the enemy is going to pull out all the stops.
“What we have is a situation where some people seem to be reading the newspapers every day, and if there’s a big episode it shows that the strategy is failing. That’s not a mature way to look at it. And we desperately need some people looking at this in a mature way right now.” (emphasis added)
One of the foreign policy relics of the Cold War is the chilly relationship the U.S. has dictated between us and Cuba. The biggest effect of that ban has been the degrading conditions in the Carribbean Communist nation. I know friends that ship hundreds of dollars worth of stuff down there so they can have basic necessities like bedding, clothes and appliances.
Our government's embargo seems to be subject to whether Fidel Castro is alive or dead and American business interests are itching to go down there and develop the moment they throw the first shovel of dirt on Castro's casket. Meanwhile the U.S. punishes the island nation and penalizes Americans for traveling to Cuba, sometimes only with a warning letter and other times with fines up to $65,000. So when the Beacon School in Manhattan defies that ban and sends students to Cuba for spring break anyway, it makes the news and politicians are seen squirming.
From The New York Times:
Mr. Klein, at a news conference yesterday, said that the trip had not been approved by the Education Department and that the matter was now under investigation. “It should not have happened,” Mr. Klein said. “We expressly said no.”
Officials said yesterday that they had been unaware of the school’s previous trips to Cuba, in 2004 and 2005, prompting questions from Mr. Paterson.
“As a parent,” Mr. Paterson said by telephone, “I was a little concerned that a group of schoolchildren went to Cuba and the Department of Education didn’t know about it.”
He said that the school had clearly approved the trip when his stepdaughter, Ashley Dennis, went and that it had been highly educational.
So it seems that some politicians are at odds against each other, those that follow our misbegotten policy and the others that have gone or seen their children go to Cuba with the Beacon School. Look, I am all for following the laws of my government but when a law is bad people will ignore it en masse and when it is a travel ban to another country, that is just unbecoming for a democratic nation such as ours. Besides, why are they so up in arms? Does the educational factor scare them (or anyone that wants to go to Cuba really)? Will unwitting Americans go there and magically become Communists and spread the political ideology across the United States when they return, smoking their Cuban cigars all the way? Or perhaps it might be something else:
The controversial trip was first reported yesterday in The New York Post. As in past years, the trip was led by Nathan Turner, a history teacher who accompanied the students along with one set of parents. Ruth Lacey, the principal of Beacon, declined to comment.
This year’s trip included interviews of a 15-year-old prostitute and of a homeless man in Havana, and also a visit to La Zorra y El Cuervo — the Fox and the Crow — an Afro-Cuban jazz club in the Vedado section of Havana, where two of the students jammed with the musicians.
Oh no! Perhaps the devil music will convert them, or maybe talking to a homeless man might do it as well. Come on people, this is ridiculous. It is time to drop the fines, the stigma against Cuba and the undemocratic ban on traveling to the isle.
I was completely shocked to hear the news about yesterday's tragic episode on the campus of Virginia Tech. That tremendous amount of life, so many of them just starting out their lives at college, is beyond words. My heart goes out their families and friends, not to mention the students that will live with a slight edge of terror at was once their safe school. Politics has no reason to pop it's ugly head up here but somehow a few Republican pundits and bloggers managed to do just that.
From Media Matters:
In the wake of a deadly shooting rampage that killed over 30 people on the campus of Virginia Tech University, host John Gibson asked on the April 16 edition of Fox News' The Big Story: "So, theoretically, in this lecture hall where all 31 were killed, there could have been someone with a carry permit carrying their gun to shoot the shooter?" Fox News senior judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano replied: "No," adding, "Virginia lets you carry a gun at a gas station or a bank or a stadium, but not on a college campus, where you may protect kids."
Napolitano and Gibson's comments echo those of right-wing pundit Michelle Malkin, who, citing an op-ed written by a Virginia Tech spokesperson, noted on her weblog that the university prohibits handguns. She then quoted a weblog post from "Andrew's Dad," who wrote: "Just imagine if students were armed. We no longer need to imag[in]e what will happen when they are not armed." Malkin also quoted an email from "[r]eader Kevin" who claimed: "Imagine if sensible CCW [Concealed Carry Weapon] laws allowed people to defend themselves, this tragedy could have been avoided."
To bring up handgun laws and attack those who fight to keep guns out of the hands of criminals in this matter is atrocious. They don't seem to get the fact that Virginia's lenient laws helped aid this mass murderer. Of course it is true that people kill people and the guns are merely the tool, but making it easier for nut jobs like yesterday's murderer to access them and use them is just plain crazy. Besides that, it is just insane to think that a college student would carry a concealed weapon to class even if they were allowed to. College is for learning (and partying too), not for protecting yourself against mass murderers.
At the exclusive black-tie Inner Circle event on Saturday night Mayor Bloomberg did his annual spoof on himself. It was actually somewhat funny, since this joke is rooted in a whole lot of truth. He displayed a video on a mock Broadway show called "Mayor Poppins" that included a slew of celebrities and theater-goers raving about the fake show.
As I watched this YouTube edition, two themes popped into my head. One was the delusional idea that he could run for President. You know that ain't gonna happen. Despite Giuliani's current popularity in the polls, that by no means translates into a credible race for Bloomberg. Dream on Michael!
The second theme is much more relevant to New Yorkers. As you know from "Mary Poppins" the famous nanny laid down strict rules for the children and had them whipped into shape, while loving her method as she did her business. The Mayor does not have the power to get New York's kids to do their homework, but he is trying to shape our lives in many different ways. Whether it be no trans-fats when we eat out or speeding the gentrification of the city, he is definitely trying to change our habits in so many ways. At least he is allowing us to keep metal baseball bats when we want to club his hopes to be President.
Monday, April 16, 2007
Damn the truth for coming to the surface, if only people would take Alberto Gonzales' statements at face value, he wouldn't be in so much trouble. Unfortunately for the embattled Attorney General, things are not looking to good when it comes to his believability. Over the last few weeks he has changed his story numerous times and each new version gets contradicted by the statements or testimony of others who have had a part in this scandal.
The latest story from Alberto is that he was informed about the selection process of potential replacement Attorneys but had no knowledge of who or how the current U.S. Attorneys were to be fired. He still claims that he did nothing wrong but his constantly changing detail of events suggests otherwise. Now there is a new twist in the saga, an ex-Justice official alleges that Gonzales did indeed know about the firing process.
From The Washington Post:
The former Justice Department official who carried out the firings of eight U.S. attorneys last year told Congress that several of the prosecutors had no performance problems and that a memo on the firings was distributed at a Nov. 27 meeting attended by Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, a Democratic senator said yesterday.
The statements to House and Senate investigators by Michael A. Battle, former director of the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys, represent another potential challenge to the credibility of Gonzales, who has said that he never saw any documents about the firings and that he had "lost confidence" in the prosecutors because of performance problems.
Gonzales is trying so hard to hold onto his job that he will stop at nothing to do so. One lie has turned into several and some of those were told under oath to Congress a couple weeks ago. Now on Thursday he will be back in front of the Judiciary Committee to explain his prior testimony and the Senators will scrutinize every word in order to catch him lying in the act. The line he must walk is a thin one, but under his enormous weight, he seems destined to fall.
Former Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson exposed his feelings on Jewish traditions while speaking to an audience at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism today. He wasn't commenting on Ashkenazi or Sephardic culture, nor the holidays that we Jews observe like Passover or Yom Kippur. Instead he referring to one of the stereotypes that anti-semites like to use, that is the tradition of making money. Apparently he showed his true colors down in Washington.
WASHINGTON - Former Wisconsin governor and Republican presidential hopeful Tommy Thompson told Jewish activists Monday that making money is "part of the Jewish tradition," and something that he applauded.
Speaking to an audience at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism in Washington D.C., Thompson said that, "I'm in the private sector and for the first time in my life I'm earning money. You know that's sort of part of the Jewish tradition and I do not find anything wrong with that."
Thompson later apologized for the comments that had caused a stir in the audience, saying that he had meant it as a compliment, and had only wanted to highlight the "accomplishments" of the Jewish religion.
Talk about ignorance at it's finest. These white (mainly) Republicans really have no clue when it comes to dealing with minorities. Whether it is Imus, Tom Tancredo, Tony Snow or even Dem Joe Biden, these guys have a hard time getting passed the deeply ingrained stereotypes that the majority have held against the rest of us for centuries. Of course some of these comments weren't meant to be offensive. Yet the candid nature of them still point to ethnic and racial problems between those that are privileged and the rest that are subjected to these kinds of stereotypes.
How low can Fox News go? Forget lying about political figures on the left while they are living, now the Fox Noise Channel is sinking to new depths. Recently they did an obituary for Kurt Vonnegut. It was completely tasteless and misleading about Kurt Vonnegut's role in American society. He has impacted generations of readers and those yet to come that will read his many books, short stories and poems. The satirical wit of this great man was beyond compare. Now Fox tries to reduce him to a 1960's cult has-been, a miserable suicidal man. These wingnuts have absolutely no compassion as they mislead with zeal. If I were uptown, I'd spit on their office.
The daily paper is known for its flashy front pages, usually the font is 4 inches high and says something to get your attention, trying to separate itself from all of the other papers offered here in Manhattan. They also have a reputation for having a conservative bent (being owned by Rupert Murdoch certainly proves that) and going over the top for its reporting of certain local stories.
Saturday's paper was a perfect example of that bent and their penchant for going completely out of bounds. This time the editors showed their heartlessness by posting a picture of a crash test dummy with ICU patient Governor Jon Corzine. The big headline for the Governor was "BUCKLE HEAD." The NY Post has no shame and careless disregard for Corzine and his family. It is one thing to disagree with him on political issues, but to exhibit that type of callousness should be relegated to right wing hate sites.
According to word on the street, it looks like former CIA Director George Tenet's new book won't spare anyone when it comes to the run-up to the disastrous war in Iraq. "At the Center of the Storm" is relatively nice to Colin Powell. Everyone else won't look nearly as good, and that includes Tenet himself.
There really aren't any details yet on how he is going to run many connected to the Bush Administration through the ringer. Of course it isn't hard to imagine what he'll say about Bush, Cheney, Condi, Feith and Wolfowitz, but it will be interesting to hear how he is going to criticize himself. He'll be doing this on 60 Minutes in two weeks (Apr. 29th), the day before his book is set to come out.
There are many Americans (Bush included) that do not know there is an ethnic difference between Persians and Arabs. To many that are ignorant on the topic, the generalization is made that they are 'all A-rabs.' I could go into the nitty gritty of the how the two are not alike, but I'll let comedian Maz Jobrani do it for me instead. It helps when a Persian explains it.
From this weekend and going into the next, there will be a lot of attention focused on the environment as Earth Day approaches this coming Sunday. Usually when you think 'Earth Day' you imagine activists, peaceniks, statements from environmental organizations and the occasional politician that generally pays lip service to the issue. This year things are a little different. Joining in the chorus to protect our planet is a group of retired U.S. Generals who agree we need to do something. Even if their concern is based on war game scenarios that are looking increasingly likely, at least they are on the right side of the issue and are talking about it.
From the BBC:
Writing in the report, Gen Zinni, a former commander of US Central Command, says: "It's not hard to make the connection between climate change and instability, or climate change and terrorism."
He adds: "We will pay for this one way or another. We will pay to reduce greenhouse gas emissions today, and we'll have to take an economic hit of some kind.
"Or we will pay the price later in military terms. And that will involve human lives. There will be a human toll."
The report was issued by a Virginia-based national security think-tank, The CNA Corporation, and was written by six retired admirals and five retired generals.
It is good to add a little more common sense to the issue that already has tons of it from climate scientists and environmental activists. The question is, will this report push President Bush to act on one of the most serious problems of our times? If the response resembles anything like how he treats his Generals when they disagree with him on Iraq....well, I'm not crossing my fingers.
Sunday, April 15, 2007
No one can deny that the (mostly) men that deliver Chinese food to thousands of apartments on a daily basis are not hardworking individuals. I know that my favorite local place, Noodles on 28th always gets the order to my door almost instantaneously. So when I found out that many of them are striking and suing a few Chinese restaurants across the city because they aren't being paid the minimum wage, that pissed me off.
From The New York Times:
Call it the deliverymen’s rebellion. These workers, almost all of them immigrants from China, have picketed several Saigon Grill, Ollie’s and Our Place outlets, accusing these well-known Asian restaurants of paying them as little as $1.40 an hour, far less than the federal and state minimum wage. The workers have filed federal wage lawsuits in Manhattan against those restaurant companies, and their advocates say they will soon sue a dozen other restaurants in the city.
“The conditions are pretty bad in all the restaurants, so there’s no real advantage to switch to another restaurant,” said Yu Guan Ke, a deliveryman who said Saigon Grill usually paid him just $120 in wages for his 75-hour weeks. “Before we would accept whatever wages they would give us, but now we see we should stand up for what we’re entitled to under the law.”
Mr. Ke, one of the plaintiffs, said his pay came to $1.60 an hour before tips; New York State law requires that deliverymen receive at least $4.85 an hour before tips. He said he worked 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. six days a week and often received $100 a day in tips, making 20 to 30 deliveries a day. (The state minimum wage is $7.15 an hour for non-tipped workers, $2 higher than the federal minimum.)
The owners that returned the calls of the NY Times said that they are treating their workers fairly, though many did not comment. Workers are accusing them of being locked out after they refused to sign a statement saying they were paid fairly.
Based on prior complaints in Chinatown and the fact that judges have awarded workers millions in compensation for other grievances, I would tend to believe the workers before the owners. Although times are tough for any restaurant paying rent in this city, it is no excuse to take advantage of people that are trying to make an honest living. Not that this matters to the accused. They intend to fight back, already using said lockouts and other means.
Regardless, if people are making less than $2 dollars an hour before tips, something definitely needs to be done. If I hear that Noodles on 28th does this to the people that deliver to me, I will most certainly boycott them. I hope you do the same if your favorite restaurant abuses their deliverymen. Having garlic chicken and steamed dumplings brought to my door is nice, but I can make the effort to find a place that pays a fair wage.
I did a double take when the headline flashed that the Democratic candidates' courageous stand against the propaganda network could be dangerous for both sides. That is absolutely wrong. There is only one side that should be scared, the ideologues at Fox News Channel. Many people that have been paying attention can easily see the bias in their reporting and the obvious slant in their news. Plenty of reports have shown that people who get their news solely from FNC are misinformed on the issues and tend to vote heavily for Republicans. The reaction to former President Clinton's confrontation last September with Fox Sunday-morning host Chris Wallace taught many Democrats there was political ground to be gained in fighting with Fox. The risk to this strategy is it could make the candidates look like, well, weenies. Weenies?? No, I'm sorry, a weenie is one that cowers from debating the facts, sending our troops into harms way because of deceptive propaganda and especially those that act as the President's cheerleaders (Fox primarily, others included as well). The author then for some reason shows that Fox does indeed have a bias, or at least that they do not conduct themselves with true journalistic integrity.
The idea that boycotting Fox is dangerous for Dems is ridiculous. First off the AP gets its 'evidence' from Ed Rollins, a GOP goon, and Ellis Henican, a Fox News and Newsday contributor that fills in for the left, yet is paid by Rupert Murdoch's ventures. The way the article puts the issue into context seems to come right out of the GOP playbook.
From the article:
The reaction to former President Clinton's confrontation last September with Fox Sunday-morning host Chris Wallace taught many Democrats there was political ground to be gained in fighting with Fox.
The risk to this strategy is it could make the candidates look like, well, weenies.
Weenies?? No, I'm sorry, a weenie is one that cowers from debating the facts, sending our troops into harms way because of deceptive propaganda and especially those that act as the President's cheerleaders (Fox primarily, others included as well). The author then for some reason shows that Fox does indeed have a bias, or at least that they do not conduct themselves with true journalistic integrity.
A feud against Fox might not be the best long-term plan, either. People there have been known to hold a grudge.
To be fair, the AP does give both sides of the debate, but it is clear on how they view the issue. Instead of calling Democratic candidates weenies, they might want to look at those that stand on principals. Such as calling for a real fight against climate change, fixing the economy and helping all Americans live a better life than what we have had to endure under the Bush Administration
If I had the time I could probably write a novel on all the issues that Dick Cheney faces. Whether he deals with them or simply ignores the facts, the list is enormous. So for this post we will stick to what came up during his interview on 60 Minutes with Bob Schieffer earlier today. Although any televised conversation with the Vice-President will never yield any hard facts, we can at least get a little humor out of it. Trust me, you won't leave empty handed.
From Crooks and Liars:
Schieffer: Does this administration have a credibility problem?
Cheney: I don't think so Bob, ummm…I think obviously we've got issues we need to work through. You do the best you can with what you've got obviously and I think on reflection that indeed the record of the President and his administration will stand up well to scrutiny…
Bob also tried to ask him about the aftermath of the Scooter Libby trial. Cheney stood steadfast in saying anything substantive, even going so far as to say that he hasn't spoken to his close friend and former Chief of Staff since the trial. Damn, I wouldn't want to be friends with a guy that wouldn't call me after I got sent to jail for the crimes I committed. Since Cheney has no credibility on answering questions about the Administration's credibility, there really is no point in even trying to talk to the guy. You might as well just leave him to the sycophants at Fox to give him time to bash Democrats for his own failures.
And of course, once a liar gets going there is no way to know where they'll stop. For a man with the power that Dick Cheney holds, there must be outside action to force him to tell the truth or have it told for him and for him to suffer the consequences because of it.
The video shows what looks like a more upscale neighborhood of the city and how to protect what you've got. However, no matter where you live in Baghdad, no area is left unaffected by the general demise of the city. Check out the 'gated community' down below.
From Hometown Baghdad:
Thankfully the massive storm we are enduring at the moment didn't happen yesterday. In case you missed it, tons of people came out across the city and at 1,400 locations all over the United States to bring awareness for climate change. There was a fair at Grand Central Station where people could meet environmentally friendly companis and organizations. There were various issue groups uptown, downtown and in the village. The biggest event was in the financial district, where an assortment of folks formed a human chain to represent where the coastline is going to be in Lower Manhattan when the sea begins to rise.
From The New York Times:
Hundreds of people formed a human shoreline at the rim of Lower Manhattan yesterday, warning of the dangers of rising sea levels from global warming as part of a national day of environmental demonstrations.
The roughly U-shaped line, a few blocks inland, was a sometimes-comical, sometimes-serious attempt to show what the tip of the island might look like if the sea level rose several feet from the melting of Greenland’s ice sheets.
Throughout the line, packed in some stretches and spread thin in others, were men, women and children dressed more for a maritime adventure than a windy spring day in New York City. They wore wet suits, scuba-diving flippers and blue sheets with hand-painted waves. Some tossed around beach balls. One man tried to make his way through the narrow streets with a long canoe hitched to his bicycle.
Environmentally conscious people tend to have good amounts of creativity and it was not in short supply yesterday. Of course it is all for a good cause, the survival of our planet should be described that way, even though there are a few greedy bastards left who try to deny it. It always amazes me that those who profit from the destruction of Earth really don't give a shit about what will happen to future generations. Okay, enough venting for this post. Congrats to all those that got out there and showed their Earth-friendly spirit here in the city and across the country.
Iraq has a brand spanking new American journalist in its sordid midst and she isn't what you would expect to see hanging around the Green Zone. The 64 year old Jane Stillwater has been blogging for more than three years now and has left her home on the west coast to report the news as an 'average person' describing events to people like herself (i.e. the rest of us).
Tired of getting news from TV reporters who fly first-class and produce more of photo-ops, Stillwater survived on peanut-butter sandwiches for a whole year to afford a trip for Iraq.
The Internet-savvy hippy grandmother came with the simple hope of getting the very facts of war for "real people."
In addition to flying to the war zone at her own expense she had to find a sponsoring media outlet to be eligible for embedment with the US troops.
Although Jane won't be able to explore outside the Green Zone, she has come a long way to write in a way that most journalists in Iraq never will. Her reports can be found on her own blog and also by the paper that gave her press credentials, the Lone Star Iconoclast in Texas. She made it there by saving her money, then once getting credentials took a military flight to Kuwait and finally made it into Baghdad. She isn't going to be there for long, so make sure you check out what she was to say while she is there. Godspeed Ms. Stillwater!