Saturday, June 16, 2007

Tony Snow Caught Red-Handed

We all know he lies at will for the President and the rest of Bush's Administration. The latest lie is caught by Jon Stewart in brilliant fashion using the wit of the Daily Show and the two videos of Tony saying one thing a while back and completely contradicting himself this week.

Burning People Into Oil Gets Industry's Attention Until....

Have you ever heard of Vivoleum? According to two men at a Canadian oil conference, Exxon has now made it possible to turn the dead into oil. They told the audience not to worry about climate change, because Vivoleum was the way of the future.

From BitterTonic:

“Representatives” from Exxon and the National Petroleum Council reassure us that in the worst case scenario, the oil industry could “keep fuel flowing” by transforming the billions of people who will die in an environmental calamity right back into oil.

“We need something like whales, but infinitely more abundant,” said “NPC rep” “Shepard Wolff”.

“”Vivoleum works in perfect synergy with the continued expansion of fossil fuel production,” noted “Exxon rep” “Florian Osenberg.” “With more fossil fuels comes a greater chance of disaster, but that means more feedstock for Vivoleum. Fuel will continue to flow for those of us left.”

Scared? You should be. Because this crazy presentation that was delivered June 14th at GO-EXPO, Canada’s largest oil conference, wasn’t outed as a prank until nearing the end of the speech, when the fake representatives lit candles supposedly made from actual Vivoleum obtained from the flesh of an “Exxon janitor” who died as a result of cleaning up a toxic spill. The audience - 300 oil men - only reacted when the janitor, in a video tribute, announced that he wished to be transformed into candles after his death.

The two pranksters were escorted out of the building rather quickly, but the local police did not find anything seriously wrong with their actions. Commonly known as the Yes Men, these guys travel around and pretend to be criminals such as oil execs, arms dealers, etc. and make light of all the evil that these industries engender.

The scary thing is that their audience listened intently to the processes described to turn human bodies into oil. To these crooks it is all about the dollar, if they don't care about the planet why would they give two shits about respecting the dead.

Ron Paul, Low In The Polls But Hot On The Net

If your popularity on the world wide web was an indication of who was going to win the Republican nomination, Ron Paul would likely face the Democrat in the fall of 2008. Unfortunately for him he is still just a blip on the radar screen when it comes to real world campaigning. Even though his fundraising is up, it is still far behind the front runners, which means he has a small staff and a small following. Yet he is still one of the most popular words on the net.

From The Washington Post:

Rep. Ron Paul is more popular on Facebook than Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). He's got more friends on MySpace than former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney. His MeetUp groups, with 11,924 members in 279 cities, are the biggest in the Republican field. And his official YouTube videos, including clips of his three debate appearances, have been viewed nearly 1.1 million times -- more than those of any other candidate, Republican or Democrat, except Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.).

No one's more surprised at this robust Web presence than Paul himself, a self-described "old-school," "pen-and-paper guy" who's serving his 10th congressional term and was the Libertarian Party's nominee for president in 1988.

"To tell you the truth, I hadn't heard about this YouTube and all the other Internet sites until supporters started gathering in them," confessed Paul, 71, who said that he's raised about $100,000 after each of the three debates. Not bad considering that his campaign had less than $10,000 when his exploratory committee was formed in mid-February. "I tell you I've never raised money as efficiently as that, in all my years in Congress, and all I'm doing is speaking my mind."

But can these impressive web stats translate into anything in the real world. Being popular on facebook or myspace is great, but will all your 'friends' turn up at their polling place on election day? Will they contribute funds to your campaign? True, it is working well for second-place Obama over here on the left. But the netroots and the conserva-roots are two totally different animals. So Paul is still just a blip to most Republican voters.

Angelina Jolie On The Daily Show

Angelina made an appearance on Thursday's Daily Show to talk about her new movie portraying the story of slain journalist Daniel Pearl, "A Mighty Heart". She also helped to clear up the controversy Fox News tried to conjure up about interviewing her about the film.

Friday, June 15, 2007

The Myth Of Conservative America

For many years now, it isn't hard to hear a cacophony from the political pundits that America has become more conservative. "Blah, blah, blah, Reagan, Bush, blah, blah, blah" is constantly blasted on radio and TV political talk shows (not an exact quote). But is that really true, is America leaning more to the right? The 2006 elections tore a large hole in that theory, but after twenty years of conservative think tanks and media gaining speed, they don't want to quit the operation now. So the talk of conservative America continues. So why don't we put another gaping wound in their delusions of grandeur.

Cue Media Matters please:

Conventional wisdom says that the American public is fundamentally conservative - hostile to government, in favor of unregulated markets, at peace with inequality, wanting a foreign policy based on the projection of military power, and traditional in its social values.

But as this report demonstrates, that picture is fundamentally false. Media perceptions and past Republican electoral successes notwithstanding, Americans are progressive across a wide range of controversial issues, and they're growing more progressive all the time.

  • The role of government - Americans support an active government that tackles problems, provides services, and aids those in need.
  • The economy - Americans support increasing the minimum wage and strong unions, and believe the wealthy and corporations don't pay their fair share of taxes.
  • Social issues - Americans support legal abortion and embryonic stem cell research; opinions on equal rights for women and gay Americans have grown dramatically more progressive in recent years.
  • Security - Americans support a progressive approach to national security, emphasizing strong alliances and diplomacy over the indiscriminate use of military force. On domestic security issues, progressive approaches to crime and gun control enjoy wide support.
  • The environment - By enormous margins, Americans favor strong environmental protections, a core progressive belief.
  • Energy - Americans support energy conservation and the development of alternative fuels.
  • Health care - Americans clearly favor universal coverage and are more than comfortable with government solutions to the health care problem.

Read the whole report, it is a true testament to what Americans are thinking and what they believe the role of government is in our democratic nation. The founding fathers did not dream of drowning our government in a bathtub and neither do we now in 2007.

Giving Away Downtown NYC

Lower Manhattan has been in a state of transformation since the horror of September 11th. Many businesses have moved up to Midtown, New Jersey and even farther than that. Meanwhile a slew of buildings have been converted to condominiums and rentals to attract people to live down in the financial district. Out of all the neighborhoods of Manhattan, I think this is the least exciting area when it comes to nightlife and culture. I guess if you are a history buff and like to live amongst the relics of early New York then it would be great. Of course, that isn't the cup of tea many New Yorkers prefer.

The boom in residential units available does not mean the city is giving up on the area from a business perspective. The city and state still want major companies to stay downtown as the rebuilding of the WTC area begins. Though instead of doing smart business with some of the world's corporate giants, Bloomberg and Spitzer have agreed to give away property at rock bottom prices. One example would be the deal just struck with JP Morgan Chase.

From WNYC:

REPORTER: The financial giant will receive $200 million in tax incentives from the city and the state, to move 7-thousand jobs to the 42 story tower downtown. The company will pay the Port Authority $300 million for the 92-year-lease, and in return will receive an unspecified amount of tax incentives and benefits.

Bettina Damiani, of the government watchdog group, Good Jobs New York, is critical of the plan. She says government officials are presenting lower Manhattan as a source of giveaways instead of a business epicenter. She also criticizes the lack of transparency in the subsidies given to the company.

DAMIANI: I'd venture that the state and the city know exactly how much is being provided to JP Morgan Chase. The transparency issue here is very troubling.

The financial powerhouse is allowed to take this charity while keeping its world headquarters at the current tower up on Park Ave. in Midtown. How this can be conceived of as fair to the people of New York is beyond me. Doing the math, JP Morgan Chase is going to pay $100 million for 92 years worth of rent, or slightly over $1 million a year, not including the undisclosed benefits.

For all we know, the building is being given to them for free. Meanwhile the company is free to make billions of dollars at the new site. Imagine if all New Yorkers were given this type of deal to live downtown, living in the city would become a whole lot less expensive.

SiCKO Premiere In Sacramento

Michael Moore was invited to introduce his film at a premiere in Sacramento this week at the behest of House Speaker Fabian Nunez of the California State Legislature. When you see the movie after it opens on June 29th, you probably won't get to see Moore live on stage, so take a look right here:

NOLA Turning To Other Countries For Aid

It is a sad testament to the state of our country when we cannot even help one of our most cherished cities rebuild from a natural disaster. Instead New Orleans is appealing for international aid in hopes of restoring the famous Crescent City. As the two year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina approaches along with the new and expected busy hurricane season, funds from the state and federal government are slow in coming.

From The Sun Herald:

Kenya Smith, director of intergovernmental relations for Mayor Ray Nagin, said city leaders are talking with more than five countries. He wouldn't identify the countries, saying discussions were in the early stages. But he said the city is "very serious" about pursuing foreign help.

"Of course, we would love to have all the resources we need from federal and state partners, but we're comfortable now in having to be creative," Smith said. He did not know if the city would have to overcome any obstacles if it got firm pledges for aid, but "we want to make sure we're leaving no options unexplored."

For months Nagin has complained bureaucracy is choking the flow of much-needed federal aid dollars to New Orleans - slowing the city's recovery. As of June 8, the city said it had received just over half of the $320 million FEMA has obligated for rebuilding city infrastructure and emergency response-related costs. The city has estimated its damage at far more than that - at least $1 billion. And that doesn't include other improvements - such as raised neighborhoods - meant to help build the stronger city promoted by Nagin and his recovery director.

As long as our national government fails to fulfill its moral obligation to help repair the city, there is no reason why anyone would have a problem with New Orleans accepting international aid. Although the countries are still anonymous, the first two that come to my mind would be France and Spain. Both have history with the port city going back centuries, long before the Louisiana Purchase of 1803.

No matter which country decides to help the rebuilding efforts, its is greatly appreciated by all Americans that love New Orleans, whether they live there or not. This incident should shame the Bush Administration into providing more assistance than they have given or even pledged....but this is George Bush we are talking about, so he probably doesn't even care.

The Beach Gestapo Have To Go

Susan Stark wrote about her experiences on New York City beaches and was abhorred at the "beach gestapo," also known as the park personnel. The bully and intimidate beachgoers with ridiculous policies where you can't be on the sand after a certain time and only within a certain area within that certain time. Shouldn't the beach just be the beach, open to all with the exception of a warning when the city screws up and spills sewage up the river?

From NYC Indymedia:

Once, on Staten Island, I walked from the train to the beach, got in the water, and was promptly told by a passing personnel that I must, MUST be in a designated swimming area with lifeguards. I had to walk a half a mile north to this area, only to see that the area was only several yards long, and was crammed with noisy people and their kids. I like my beach experience quiet, so I walked as far away from the crowd as possible, while still in range of the lifeguards. I should not have had to do all of that, because a simple sign saying "NO LIFEGUARD ON DUTY, SWIM AT YOUR OWN RISK" would have sufficed in most places. Not here, apparently.

The Beach Gestapo also goes around at 6pm sharp to tell everyone to get out of the water because the beach is closing. Shocking. I never heard of that practice until I moved here.

There are very few personnel at Coney Island Beach in Brooklyn telling folks to leave the water "immediately, or else", but the last time I was there, there were signs on the bathroom doors telling people that they cannot use the bathroom to change clothes. This would've made sense if the city provided a place to change clothes, but there wasn't a building in sight where you could do that. I changed clothes in the bathroom anyway, and so did everyone else. A nice bit of psychological warfare, if you ask me.

This looks like a bad case of overzealousness by the parks department. Their policies definitely need heavy review. It is nice that the city wants to keep us safe from the water and ourselves. But there is a line when it comes to responsibility for the life of a New Yorker on the sand and the city crossed over by leaps and bounds.

The FBI, Another Law-Breaking Branch Of Our Gov't

Corruption is a disease that plagues Washington, D.C. As Bush gets away with more and more crimes, it isn't surprising to see scandals at the GSA and the Justice Department. Here we have the FBI and their breaches of privacy over a thousands times without warrants. Countdown has the scoop.

Gore Slams G8 On Climate Change

Al Gore slammed the agreement made at the G8 on climate change, calling it "a disgrace disguised as an achievement." The man that should have been President called out the group for failing to enact any type of real reform with hard and sufficient plans that will actually cut carbon emissions. The only person he spared was German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who advocated for hard deadlines in cutting fossil fuel consumption back.

From Yahoo News:

G8 leaders agreed to pursue "substantial" reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, stopping short of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's hopes for concrete numerical commitments on emission reductions, including her key aim to cut gases by 50 percent by 2050.

They said they would negotiate a new global climate pact that would extend and broaden the Kyoto Protocol beyond 2012.

"It was a disgrace disguised as an achievement," Gore said at an event in Milan, where he praised Merkel for her efforts.

"The eight most powerful nations gathered and were unable to do anything except to say 'We had good conversations and we agreed that we will have more conversations, and we will even have conversations about the possibility of doing something in the future on a voluntary basis perhaps."'

Gore is dead on here. Merely saying that there will be a plan does not guarantee an actual plan. Much like in Iraq, there was no plan other than to win. If you do not come up with a plan to help turn the state of the environment around, then chances are you will not end up anywhere. Only a few like Merkel and Gore are brave enough to stand up in a way that can give hope to our current situation. The problem is however, where are the rest of the players on this one?

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Mitt Romney: Heartless

Mitt Romney is known for flip-flopping on issues, particularly about abortion. He publicly supported a woman's right to choose as Governor of Massachusetts, but now plays to the religious right. That previous stance though was indeed public, the things that went on in private were absolutely disgusting. One example was Judy Dushku's anonymous friend's pregnancy and Mitt's choice words for the woman.

From Right's Field:

In the interview, Romney scolds a woman who faces death from a pregnancy for considering undergoing an abortion, despite the fact that her doctor also recommends an abortion. He then professes his pro-choice views, which he attributes to an aunt who died from a botched back alley abortion, and political necessity in Massachusetts that’s been rubber stamped from “the brethren” in Salt Lake City.


He said - What do you think you’re doing?

She said - Well, we have to abort the baby because I have these blood clots.

And he said something to the effect of - Well, why do you get off easy when other women have their babies?

And she said - What are you talking about? This is a life threatening situation.

And he said - Well what about the life of the baby?

And she said - I have four other children and I think it would be really irresponsible to continue the pregnancy.

The irresponsibilty and heartlessness of Romney is astounding. This man who wants to be President needs to be stopped.

Killing The Bill

Jon Stewart covers the process of the immigration reform bill in the Senate...and how it failed.

Part One:

And part two:

GOP To Republican Candidates: Don't Act Like Yourself In Public

The Republicans were destroyed last year on the internet front of the campaign wars. The blogosphere overwhelmingly tilts for the left and two of the most defining victories of that fight are Senators Webb and Tester. The "Macaca moment" showed the power of the internet and the Democratic side of the blogosphere. A digital camera helped bring down an incumbent George Allen who was looking towards the Presidency next year. Now its hard to recall his name.

So as the Republicans gear up for next year, they are trying to learn from their brutal experience of 2006. John Ensign, the new chairman of the NRSC has put together a guidebook for all candidates on what to do and what not to do when campaigning for office. One such directive is to remember to assume you are always on camera, no matter what. It seems like common sense for a candidate but you never know what will come out of people's mouths.

From The Politico:

It's right there, on pages 18 and 22 of an Internet guide from the National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee that its chairman, Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.), hopes will become scripture for the 2008 candidates.

Always assume you're being recorded, and always record your opponent. The blogs -- oh, scratch that -- the Republican blogs are your friends, so use them for rapid response in good times and bad.

"The paradigmatic example of failure to do so is the 'macaca' moment," reads the guidebook (excerpted here), referring to a remark last year by former Sen. George Allen (R-Va.) that was captured on video and sunk his reelection campaign.

Not only are the Republican hopefuls told to watch themselves, they are also commanded to reach out more to the internet community. Well, not the whole community, just the right-wing blogs. The idea is to use them to disseminate information and create media buzz. The only problem with this is that the size of the right side is nothing compared to the blogosphere over here on the left.

As DSCC spokesman Matthew Miller said, "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery," but there is no way that the Republicans can copy the success that the left had last year. Besides, the way the NRSC strategy is devised, it actually hurts them. It is more of their top-down campaigning, the same old thing in new packaging. But that isn't how the blogosphere works. It is the community that bolsters Democrats and the lack of which that will continue to haunt the Republicans.

Brooklyn Waterfront Declared Endangered Historic Place

The National Trust for Historic Preservation declared that the industrial waterfront of Brooklyn to be one of the top 11 most endangered historic spots in the country. A local non-profit, the Municipal Art Society helped to nominate the area along with such sites as the El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro National Historic Trail that runs between Texas and New Mexico and the more famous Route 66.

This is an important development for the waterfront of Brooklyn because it shows how important this area is to the history of New York and the country itself. Instead of tearing down our history for the enrichment of developers, historians would rather see a transformation of the old industrial buildings such as what happened to SoHo and TriBeCa.

From The New York Times:

“They have value for the working waterfront and industrial retention in New York City,” Lisa Kersavage, a preservationist at the
Municipal Art Society, said of the structures. “We need to raise awareness that these buildings are of national significance and that their loss is of national concern.”

The waterfront was nominated for the endangered list by the society, a nonprofit preservation organization. The society says that the city’s Department of Buildings issued 1,740 new building permits in Brooklyn in 2005. The same year the buildings department issued 1,924 permits for demolition, roughly double the number issued five years ago.

“Brooklyn lost five buildings and gained four new ones every day in 2005,” the society said in its nomination. Asked about the trust’s concerns, Daniel L. Doctoroff, deputy mayor for economic development and rebuilding, pointed out that some buildings might be preserved, like the Domino Sugar refinery, a brick Romanesque Revival structure that is up for consideration by the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission.

Well of course the Domino Sugar Refinery won't be demolished, that would cause a city-wide uproar. This is more important than one famous example for the city to show a pseudo-soft side. The problem is that the city and the developers want to demolish Brooklyn bit by bit to raise real estate prices and gentrify as much of the city as they possibly can. Preserving the area isn't the most economically profitable solution for these people so Bloomberg and developers like the Atlantic Yards group fight against the community they want to sweep aside.

Cafferty Examines Mosque Bombing Fallout

Fast Food Chains Filling Arteries And Gas Tanks

It is no surprise that fast food restaurants sell their customers grease-laden, chemically-engineered yummy goodness by the boatload on a daily basis. The shocker is that a few of them will now be helping to provide alternative energy over in Northern California. The oil used to cook your French fries will now be recycled to power your automobile. Bio-fuels are nothing new but for this and many other examples of businesses contributing to a more environmentally friendly society is encouraging.

From Yahoo News:

EASI said its restaurant-grease biodiesel will be sold at fueling stations in Central and Northern California as a blend of 20 percent biodiesel and 80 regular diesel known as "B20."

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, using B20 can significantly cut greenhouse gas emissions and smog, EASI said in a press release.

Richard Gillis, CEO of EASI, added that the B20 could end up a cent or two cheaper per gallon than regular diesel.

EASI expects vegetable oil collections to help boost its biodiesel production from 1 million gallons per year now to 4 million by the end of the year.

Now when you eat those French fries and other greasy numbers you can actually say you are helping the environment. Jut to warn you though, don't throw the leftover fries in your gas tank, the results won't be pretty.

Amnesty International Living In Sin?

The Vatican announced that they would no longer allow their flock to donate to Amnesty International yesterday as well as cease their own donations. What terrible thing could the organization committed to helping oppressed and imprisoned dissidents around the world have done? According to the church A.I.'s decision to support women's free choice, especially in the case of rape or incest.

From the BBC:

Amnesty says it does not take any position on whether abortion is right or wrong.

But it defended its new position in support of abortion for women when their health is in danger or human rights are violated, especially in cases of rape or incest.

"We are saying broadly that to criminalise women's management of their sexual reproductive right is the wrong answer," Amnesty's deputy Secretary General Kate Gilmore told Reuters news agency.

"The Catholic Church, through a misrepresented account of our position on selective aspects of abortion, is placing in peril work on human rights," Ms Gilmore said.

How ridiculous are these turn of events. Amnesty International did not commit any grave sins against the church. If anything they do miraculous work in helping to free political prisoners and others who are undeservedly behind bars. The only sin I see here is the church hindering an amazing outfit over a small detail in something that has nothing to do with the work that Amnesty has been doing for over thirty years.

She's Got A Crush On Obama

The song that is starting to burn up the internets was produced right here in NYC. This amazing young lady turns what seems like a cheesy pop song into a hilarious 3 minute fawning over her candidate Barack Obama. If I based my vote on who hot girls endorse, then he would be my man as well. Yet I'm just a bit more complicated like that when it comes to deciding who should be our next President. Now if she were out on the street or at some political function......hey Obama girl, can I buy you a drink?

509,000 Terrorists To Watch Out For

Watching suspected terrorists is a hard job for the FBI these days. It is especially difficult when you have over 509,000 names to keep track of. The Interagency National Counterterrorism Center has a combined total that is even higher than the FBI when you add in the other groups that look out for bad guys. So how do they keep track of a segment of society roughly equal to the size of a medium American city? And why do some talk numbers while others are silent?

From The Blotter:

While the NCTC has made no secret of its terrorist tally, the FBI has consistently declined to tell the public how many names are on its list. Because the number is classified, an FBI spokesman told the Blotter on, he was unable to comment for this story.

"It grows seemingly without control or limitation," said ACLU senior legislative counsel Tim Sparapani of the terrorism watch list. Sparapani called the 509,000 figure "stunning."

"If we have 509,000 names on that list, the watch list is virtually useless," he told ABC News. "You'll be capturing innocent individuals with no connection to crime or terror."

Now to be fair to the FBI, a few of those names are aliases of actual terrorists, both dead and alove. Even Saddam Hussein is up there post-mortem. Nevertheless, what is the point of having all of those people being watched? There is no way that the government can keep track of all those people with any kind of effective policy that stops one of them in the act.

And not only terrorists made the list, even American legislators have been stopped before for being on the list. Speaking of elected officials, I want to know why George Bush isn't the most dangerous domestic terrorists on that list. He has created more terror all over the world than Nixon and Kissinger could ever dreamed of. It is time to start updating that list, taking most names off and just a few back on.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

O'Reilly On FOX's Lack Of Iraq Coverage: It's A Bummer

After the Project for Excellence in Journalism published a study that showed Fox News barely covered the war in Iraq, O'Reilly decided to opine on the news of the news. As a faithful Fox supporter (that writes his paychecks), he gave a few excuses on why Britney Spears is more newsworthy than the war that kills thousands by the month. One: it sucks. Two: we have a larger audience. Three: the liberals are to blame.

From Crooks and Liars:

A new study came out by Project for Excellence in Journalism—which showed that FOX News covered the Iraq war far less than either CNN or MSNBC during the first quarter of ‘07. Wow, I was shocked, I tell you, but Bill O’Reilly had a very reasonable excuse: The author hates FOX News. Damn lefty…That’s all his audience needs to know. Ahhh..the old attack the messenger trick. What a cunning fellow Mr Factor can be at times. It doesn’t matter about the facts presented in the study after all–why bother refuting those pesky details? O’Reilly thinks that covering bombings is just a drag anyway. Why would he feel the need to show the horrors of war? It’s just war…And FOX has better rating so-ha! I say, ha!

video_wmv Download (297) | Play (286) video_mov Download (189) | Play (176)

Now back to the inexhaustible coverage of Britney Spears, Paris Hilton and the next white girl that gets kidnapped.

Doan And Waxman Spar Over Words, Henry Has The Last Laugh

It's another day for Chairman Waxman and his investigation of Lurita Doan and her violation of the 1939 Hatch Act. Last time she was on the witness stand she couldn't recall anything (that might implicate her). Now that Henry uses the words "pick on me" Lurita gets extremely defensive and her powers of recollection suddenly sharpens. Waxman definitely picked up on that memory improvement.

Staten Island Screams At Ice Cream

I for one, love ice cream, especially local brands that bring a fresh flavor to the scene. Apparently a few people in Staten Island disapprove of 5 Burroughs Ice Cream company's new flavor that represents that island south of the city. What could possibly be wrong with vanilla ice cream mixed with brownie chunks, chocolate crunchies, chocolate fudge and cherries? Well if it represents the Staten Island landfill, I guess you might see a few raised eyebrows in Richmond County.

From The Gothamist:

Staten Island is not having a good week. In addition to the outrage over the weird ad copy appearing in part of a Virgin Mobile campaign, the borough’s president has also called for an ice cream boycott. Last Friday, a perturbed James P. Molinaro wrote a letter to Scott and Kim Myles, husband and wife co-owners of the Queens-based 5 Boroughs Ice Cream company. Someone had shown Molinaro a copy of a flyer printed off the 5B website, meant to help persuade local specialty food storeowners to carry the ice cream. There are currently eight 5B flavors, all made in small batches; each is named after a NYC locale or neighborhood. For Molinaro and many Staten Islanders, the offending ice cream flavor is Staten Island Landfill- a swirly mix of brownies, fudge, crunchies, and cherries in a vanilla base. Molinaro objects to what he considers old hat outer borough typecasting; the Staten Island Advance quotes his letter to the company as saying "I am hard-pressed to think of a more insulting and derogatory attack in the name of consumerism.”

I personally think that sounds incredibly good and its much healthier than eating scraps out of the actual landfill. Molinaro seriously needs to lighten up. Come on James, stop complaining and go get yourself a pint and a spoon (and maybe some whipped cream if you are feeling adventurous).

Tony Snow Knows The Facts, Tells Reporter He Can't Have His Own

Tony Snow "job" continues to live in his own state of delusion when it comes to the actual facts. He believes in the White House's spin so adamantly that when reporters bring up what happens on the planet of Earth, he lashes out at the people that spout truth instead of 'truthiness'. The White House Press Conference was quite a show yesterday, especially when CBS' Harry Smith interjected a fact or two.

From RawStory:

However, when Snow said of Bush to CBS's Harry Smith, "He goes to the G8, leads the way on climate change," Smith broke in to object: "I think that's following on climate change. ... These other countries have set the table for this for years. The president is late to this table."

"I hate to tell you," replied Snow. "No Harry, you can't have your own facts. We've got a better record than the rest of the world... What you're arguing is that you regulate your way in. It never works, hasn't. What the president says is, use technology as the way of doing it and, guess what, everybody agreed."

According to a Reuters report on the G8 conference, "President George W. Bush's plan to combat climate change got a cool reception on Friday in Europe, where the European Union's environment chief dismissed it as unambitious and the 'classic' U.S. line."

When it comes to sycophants like Tony Snow, Bush can do no wrong. Protecting the oil industry and other polluters is good for the environment, not harming us all like the data shows. The data must be a pinko commie liberal, or something like that. In the last six-plus years and for the remaining 586 days, 13 hours and 45 minutes, Tony will fight to deny Harry Smith's (and the rest of us) truth and promote his matter what.

Why Albanians Love Bush

As always, the great Stephen Colbert has the answer:

Lurita Doan: The Alberto Gonzales Of The GSA

Lurita Doan acts as cluelessly under oath as her counterpart in the Attorney General's office. The only difference is that Lurita is clearly in her position due to the amount of money she and her husband donated to the Bush campaign. Alberto is merely a hatchet man next to her (albeit a very important hatchet man).

Mrs. Doan has clearly violated the 1939 Hatch Act by using government offices for political purposes, yet tries to downplay the seriousness of her crimes while claiming not to remember many details of those crimes. In a nutshell, this is one partisan hack that needs to go. The White House Office of Special Counsel has recommended that she be fired. Of course, this is the Bush White House and loyalty usurps criminal behavior anyday.

From Down With Tyranny:

Like Gonzales, she serves "at the pleasure" of the president and apparently he gets a great deal of pleasure surrounding himself with incompetent crooks and scoundrels whose appreciation of the law is exactly what his own his: nil. Bush and Rove-- not to mention Cheney-- are likely to sympathize with Doan when the Office of Special Counsel letter to Bush criticizes her for defending the meeting by claiming it was attended by political appointees who witnessed a presentation that "would likely be in line with 'their own beliefs.'"

It was clear from the moment Doan took the stand at Henry Waxman's House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform that she is a deceitful partisan hack who has been schooled to repeat, ad nauseum "I do not remember."

Of course, let us not forget that Karl Rove had a role in all of this, since he was the one that came up with the list of targeted House Democrats in the first place. With Rove's involvement, I doubt that the White House will even think about firing her. This is yet another case where Congress must act on behalf of a negligent President. Unfortunately for the rule of law, Congress is 0 for 1 when it comes to ridding the government of obvious criminals such as Alberto Gonzales. No matter how much Waxman blusters at her for the criminal activity, the only tool that must be used is impeachment of Doan. Honestly, I'm not holding my breath.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Wesley Clark Scolds Lieberman Over Iran

My ears tend to shudder when Lieberman opens his mouth and parrots the talking points of the White House. It is most irritating when he talks about the war and who we should bomb next. Like McCain, Lieberman thinks we ought to go into Iran because.....well the Iranians are bad, and that's good enough for them.

Thankfully there are voices of sanity out there. One of those voices is decorated General Wesley Clark. He took Lieberman to task today over Joe's ridiculous comments. Kudos to the General for his bold statements.

From The Huffington Post:

Senator Lieberman's saber rattling does nothing to help dissuade Iran from aiding Shia militias in Iraq, or trying to obtain nuclear capabilities. In fact, it's highly irresponsible and counter-productive, and I urge him to stop.

This kind of rhetoric is irresponsible and only plays into the hands of President Ahmadinejad, and those who seek an excuse for military action. What we need now is full-fledged engagement with Iran. We should be striving to bridge the gulf of almost 30 years of hostility and only when all else fails should there be any consideration of other options. The Iranians are very much aware of US military capabilities. They don't need Joe Lieberman to remind them that we are the militarily dominant power in the world today.

Only someone who never wore the uniform or thought seriously about national security would make threats at this point. What our soldiers need is responsible strategy, not a further escalation of tensions in the region. Senator Lieberman must act more responsibly and tone down his threat machine.

Tony Snow On Democracy And Detainees

Tony wouldn't know democracy if it smacked him repeatedly across the face. As a former Fox News and current White House shill, he promotes the policies of the Bush Administration with abandon. So when a reporter questioned him on Bush's moral authority due to the torture and detention of "terrorists" without charge, he expectedly lashed out like the goon he is.

Medical Marijuana Coming To New York

It seems that New York might become the latest state in the union to legalize medical marijuana. With the current session of the legislature winding down, this bill looks like it will go through, enabling NY residents the ability to cope with serious illnesses by using marijuana. Despite Spitzer's earlier remarks that he would veto the measure, NY state legislator Richard Gottfried (D-Manhattan) is confident the Governor would sign the legislation.

From The New York Daily News:

Under the measure, to acquire marijuana a person would have to have a debilitating or life-threatening illness and would need a doctor's note certifying that marijuana would be beneficial.

Those individuals would be limited to possessing no more than 2½ ounces of cultivated pot or 12 growing plants.

The patients would also need to get a registration card from the state Health Department.

But because marijuana is an illegal substance, people who sell pot to such patients could still face criminal charges, Gottfried acknowledged.

Hopefully the bill will also provide for the establishment of marijuana pharmacies. Many states have them but not all have set up a system of distribution. For instance, Arizona legalized the use but never followed through. In order for this to work, patients need accessible locations to pick up their pot or face the risk of buying from drug dealers. People with state licenses are easy prey for law enforcement agencies if they go out on the street for their meds. If Albany is going to do this right, they better go all the way.

PlaNYC Into Action

Despite Bloomberg's faults (which are considerable) his environmental policies set forth in April were outstanding. If only the President would institute such projects nation-wide. One of the things the President is known for is talking tough and doing little when it comes to actually helping the American people. Here in New York, plans are being put into action rather quickly.

From WNYC:

NEW YORK, NY June 12, 2007 —Mayor Bloomberg wants to use solar power and cleaner-burning heating oil in municipal buildings.

He said the city will issue a request for proposals for a pilot program to install solar panels on city-owned buildings in hopes of generating 2 megawatts of solar capacity - about the same as taking more than 50 cars a year off the streets. New York won't pay for the installation, but will buy electricity from the provider.

By next summer, city buildings will be using a bio-diesel blend for heating oil. The renewable fuel emits far less soot than standard heating oil.

Replacing 50 cars doesn't seem like much but if the pilot program works like it is supposed to, we could see major change in a short time. The fact that NYC taxpayers won't have to pay for installation costs is a bonus as well. Replacing standard heating oil is also a nice touch. The city uses gobs of it in the winter and using a bio-diesel blend makes good sense. I am glad to see good proposals being implemented.

Bush Wasn't The Only One Drinking At The G8

This news clip was recorded after a lunch with Russian President Putin, but I wonder if right-wing Sarkozy shared a few (dozen) of those 'non-alcoholic' beers with his new friend George Bush.

Wingnut Pundit Wants To End Public School System

I swear these people get crazier and crazier. The ideas that the rightwing vomit out of their minds range from the ridiculous to the insane. This particular plan by Jonah Goldberg lies somewhere in the middle. Ending the public school system would be a terrible idea and set our country back over one hundred and fifty years since we started the system to educate the nation's children. Abolishing public schools is not surprisingly in line with neo-conservative thought though, that is to dismantle the government.

From The LA Times:

HERE'S A GOOD question for you: Why have public schools at all?

OK, cue the marching music. We need public schools because blah blah blah and yada yada yada. We could say blah is common culture and yada is the government's interest in promoting the general welfare. Or that children are the future. And a mind is a terrible thing to waste. Because we can't leave any child behind.

The problem with all these bromides is that they leave out the simple fact that one of the surest ways to leave a kid "behind" is to hand him over to the government. Americans want universal education, just as they want universally safe food. But nobody believes that the government should run 90% of the restaurants, farms and supermarkets. Why should it run 90% of the schools — particularly when it gets terrible results?

Why does the LA Times even publish this shit? I'm all for the free expression of ideas, but some should be left to the websites of fringe radicals. I will agree with Jonah on one point, that our schools are not performing as optimally as they could be. But that is because they are terribly underfunded. "Throwing the baby out with the bath water" seems to be the classic approach for people like Goldberg.

Farm-Aid Comes To The Big Apple

When New Yorkers think of farms, it tends to be about their local farmers' market or even the idea that there is farmland upstate, on Long Island or New Jersey. Yet there is a real problem in our nations heartland and one organization that has worked to help farmers is Farm-Aid. The benefit concert is in its 23rd year and will be hosted right here in the city. Technically its on Randalls Island, but thats close enough.

From WCBS:

Farm Aid concerts have been raising money for farmers since 1985. The organization's mission includes supporting family farms, changing the system of industrial agriculture, advocating fair prices and encouraging people to buy locally grown food.

The concerts have raised a total of more than $30 million dollars. Last year's concert was in Camden, New Jersey, and the year before was in Chicago.

This year's lineup for the September 9th show at Randalls Island includes Nelson, Mellencamp, Neil Young and Dave Matthews.

If you like any or all of these performers get your tickets (starting Friday for Farm-Aid members and Saturday on Ticketmaster) and help support a great cause. I haven't seen Wille Nelson before, but I love the other three dearly. The money goes to help local farmers that do not see the millions of dollars in subsidies that giant agribusinesses see every year. As long as the lobbyists for these companies have their current level of influence, we need to help out the little guy who farms for a living. And if we can do that while being at a rock concert, all the better.

Making Poverty An Issue

The ONE Campaign is putting together an aggressive $30 million dollar effort to press Presidential candidates to fight global poverty and not just paying lip service. In my opinion, there a few candidates that don't quite fit the bill in this video, especially since it is the Republicans who helped enable vulture funds capitalize off the misery of third world nations. Nevertheless, I hope they succeed in getting the future President in the field to make a real difference in the battle against poverty unlike the current Commander-in-Chief.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Saving Energy and Helping Low-Income Families On Long Island

Becoming more energy-efficient is just as essential as developing alternative energy sources. When we fight climate change on two fronts, the battle looks a little less daunting. Many new homes are being required to have better materials that cut the costs of heating and cooling. However many older homes are still leaking energy when the furnace or A/C is in use. No one feels those energy bills more than people with lower incomes. The House of Representatives helped enact a program to make their homes more efficient, but the Republican 109th Congress cut the funding. The result was that many families were put on the waiting list for assistance.

Now we are in the 110th Congress. The power given to Democrats has helped programs like these, enabling Long Island Representative Steve Israel (D-NY) to add $100 million in the appropriations bill. The fear is that Bush will veto the additional funding along with many other spending initiatives. Whichever way it goes, the impact will be felt by people like Genevieve Michta.

From Newsday:

With the assistance of a federal program that helps low-income Long Islanders make their homes more energy efficient, Genevieve Michta of Ronkonkoma no longer has to use duct tape to seal her windows to keep out the frigid air during the winter months.

"It saved my life," said Michta, 72, a retired waitress whose main income is social security. "It let me stay on Long Island."


"She doesn't have to worry anymore about choosing between paying for her medicines and paying her LIPA bills," said Israel, who sits on the House Appropriations Committee.

This is just one example of how government can postively...or negatively affect people in their everyday lives. It is great that the President has an energy efficient ranch down in Crawford. Yet it would be much better for millions more Americans to be able to help cut costs and save energy.

No Confidence

The American people have no confidence in Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. The question is, does the Senate have the chutzpah to vote on it? NY's Chuck Schumer requested the vote for today at 5:30 EST and the debate is already under way. The Democrats are fully behind letting the people have their say on the situation. So will a few vocal Republicans do the same and vote their conscience? Or will they simply cave and fall in with the President?

From The Huffington Post:

Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., said he's concerned like others in his party that the resolution, sponsored by Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and up for a test vote later in the day, was a Democratic effort to embarrass Bush and push Gonzales to resign.

But Specter has long said that Gonzales has exercised poor leadership on a host of issues, from the firings of eight federal prosecutors to the Justice Department's handling of wiretapping authority under the USA Patriot Act.

"If you ask Arlen Specter, do I have confidence in Attorney General Gonzales, the answer is a resounding no," Specter said during a news conference in Philadelphia. "I'm going to vote that I have no confidence in Attorney General Gonzales."

No matter what the outcome, the vote would tell us where each Senator stakes their claim. Yet what is it going to accomplish besides that? Bush has already said it will have no impact on him. He has full confidence in what Gonzales does, specifically because his loyalties lie with the President and his illegal endeavors.

What the Senate really needs to do is impeach his sorry ass. Gonzales has failed the American people and our constitution. He has given himself to committing high crimes and misdemeanors and needs to have the justice he deserves. If he does not, it will prove that the Justice Department is nothing but a sham.

What Is Real Leadership?

Bush certainly doesn't know, but John Edwards might have a clue. Check out his short speech from Friday:

Who's The Flip-Flopper?

Karl Rove may have capitalized on falsely pegging John Kerry as a flip-flopper, but it is master George Bush that excels at the practice. Not only did Bush reverse himself on important foreign policy mandates for Kosovo, he forgot what he said in the first place. Maybe all of those beers are having an affect on his already patchy memory.

From Crooks and Liars:

Bush at a press conference on Saturday:

Q: And on the deadline [for Kosovo independence]?

Bush: In terms of the deadline, there needs to be one. This needs to come — this needs to happen. Now it’s time, in our judgment, to move the Ahtisaari plan. There’s been a series of delays. You might remember there was a moment when something was happening, and they said, no, we need a little more time to try to work through a U.N. Security Council resolution. And our view is that time is up.

Bush at a press conference on Sunday:

Q: Thank you, Mr. President. Yesterday you called for a deadline for U.N. action on Kosovo. When would you like that deadline set? And are you at all concerned that taking that type of a stance is going to further inflame U.S. relations with Russia? And is there any chance that you’re going to sign on to the Russian missile defense proposal?

Bush: Thanks. A couple of points on that. First of all, I don’t think I called for a deadline. I thought I said, time — I did? What exactly did I say? I said, “deadline”? Okay, yes, then I meant what I said.

At which point assembled reporters started laughing at him.

The moment may be laughable, but the big picture surely isn't. How can there be anyone left out there that trusts this sad excuse for a man. He tries to change his mind from the day before, but that decision is saved because the reporter called him on his previous remarks. I'm not surprised at his behavior, the astonishment wore off long ago. I think the event that will amaze me most is when we get a competent President in 2009 when the nation elects a Democrat.

McDonalds Lobbies The Dictionary

I have to imagine that McDonalds has a huge PR firm representing them in order to take on Webster's Dictionary. It offends them that they pay people so little that "McJob" has a definition in the hundreds of thousands of words in print with a meaning, "a low-paying job that requires little skill and provides little opportunity for advancement." That sounds about right to me, but not to the paid shills at America's #1 artery choker fast food establishment.

From The Consumerist:

Webster's dictionary defines McJob as, "a low-paying job that requires little skill and provides little opportunity for advancement," a definition that McDonalds' lobbyists are working overtime to overturn.
The company is leading a "word battle" on behalf of the wider service sector. The object, according to David Fairhurst, a senior vice-president of McDonald's, is to change the definition of McJob to "reflect a job that is stimulating, rewarding ... and offers skills that last a lifetime."
The Oxford English Dictionary, which specifically notes that McJobs are "unstimulating," claims that they track the popular usage of words, and do not respond to pressure from interest groups.

McDonalds might want to think again about how to spend that PR money. They certainly haven't been able to convince me to go there in a long, long time.

Colin Powell Would Close Guantanamo This Afternoon

If Colin Powell had his way on the Sunday talk shows, Guantanamo Bay detention facility would have been shut down already. Of course he has absolutely no power at the moment so it doesn't do us much good. However it is nice to see one of the former insiders admit what a failure this Administration is.

While Bush Fails The Environment, Cities Try To Pick Up The Slack

The environment is something we all need to take heed of. Unfortunately the Bush Administration has done nothing but hurt us while helping the energy industry to become even more flush with cash. Well Americans aren't taking it laying down. In fact many localities are doing what they can to make a positive impact in their regions despite negative perceptions worldwide and an uphill battle against the White House.

From The Washington Post:

A nationwide poll released in April showed a third of Americans now call global warming the world's single largest environmental problem -- double the number a year ago, according a Washington Post-ABC News-Stanford University survey. Though the administration agreed this week to "seriously consider" a European proposal to slash emissions 50 percent by 2050, the United States rebuffed efforts to make the cuts mandatory.

"Because of what many see as a policy failure on this issue in Washington, you see state and city governments stepping up and taking the lead on global warming," said Daniel C. Esty, director of the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy. "You've got people in Europe saying that America is doing nothing on global warming, but that's not true. You are seeing real action. But it's happening in a local way."

What started in 2005 with the frustrations of one mayor -- Seattle's Greg Nickels -- over the Bush administration's resistance to the Kyoto Protocol has since grown to become a major nationwide movement. Nickel's "U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement" now includes 522 mayors representing 65 million Americans who have pledged to meet the Kyoto Protocol's standard of cutting greenhouse gas emissions 7 percent below 1990 levels by 2012.

Officials are still attempting to assess the overall impact of the combined effort of local governments. But they say those measures -- along with mild weather and other factors -- significantly contributed to the 1.3 percent drop in U.S. fossil-fuel related emissions to 5.88 billion metric tons last year.

America is trying to do its best on a local level despite the fight from the Feds. Many cities across the nation have instituted policies and procedures that are making a difference. Portland, N.H. generates hydroelectricity from its drinking water, New York has PlaNYC in place to cut emissions by 30 percent by 2030 and even in Boulder, CO there is the nation's first carbon tax to fund clean energy alternatives.

We still have a long way to go, and a new environmentally friendly administration in 2009 will make things go a lot faster. Yet these little things are crucial to combat climate change, ultimately teaching people to look at energy in a different way in these changing times.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Puerto Ricans On Parade

The pride of Puerto Rico is on grand display today up on 5th Avenue. Thousands are attending the parade that marks its 50th anniversary this year. Even if you aren't in the sea of Puerto Rican flags in midtown, they are hard to miss wherever you go in the city. The combination of red, white and blue can be seen on car hoods, flags attached to car windows and in the hands of the young and old alike.

It is refreshing to see diversity being displayed so proudly in our city that has so many cultures. So if you are around midtown go check it out. There'll be around 100 floats to see, Ricky Martin (for those that like the pop) as the parade's first "King" and I can only imagine great food all over the place.

Weekend Funnies

From Bob Geiger:

Taking Control Away From Developers In New York Is An Uphill Battle

It is hard to argue that money in politics as it is today is harming us here in New York and across the country. Our new Governor has vowed to fight the influence of big money, even after accepting gobs of it in his race to win the gubernatorial election last year. One of the specific problems is the amount of money given to politicians from developers. Despite limits of $5,000 from corporations and $150,000 from individuals, people like Leonard Litwin get around these limits by setting up multiple L.L.C.s, enabling Litwin to give a million dollars to both parties in last year's cycle.

Who is Leonard Litwin? Listed in Forbes 400 most wealthy Americans, this real estate developer in Manhattan has contributed to many campaigns in order to get access and get his way when it comes to greasing the wheels of the New York political system. He purposefully stays as obscure as possible, shying away from the limelight in order to keep his business dealings going at full speed.

So what do we do about the problem? The money goes everywhere. A contribution that is accepted and spent by a candidate is always subjected to scrutiny, Democrats and Republicans alike. Nevertheless, Spitzer is talking tough and the Republicans are fighting him tooth and nail.

From The New York Times:

Gov. Eliot Spitzer, who raised more money from L.L.C.’s last year than any other state official, swore off them after the election and is now proposing to ban them as part of an overhaul of the state’s campaign finance laws. He and others have argued that L.L.C.’s have made the state’s contribution limits essentially meaningless. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and other city officials have moved to restrict donations though L.L.C.’s for city candidates.

But the governor’s proposal has met stiff resistance from Senate Republicans, who have reaped big money from limited liability companies. That is in part because real estate developers are especially generous to Republicans in Albany.

Take, for instance, Mr. Litwin. Since last year, Mr. Litwin; his firm, Glenwood Management; and affiliated L.L.C.’s have given a total of $155,000 to campaign accounts maintained by the Senate Republican leadership. They also gave to 23 of the State Senate’s 33 Republicans.

Now the Republicans are stalling. Despite the bipartisan giving, it is the Republicans that get the majority of the money and consequently fight the most to keep the status quo. I'm sure there are some Democrats up in Albany that are on the side of Joe Bruno's crew. That is even more reason for us to fight for change at the ballot box next year to not only take the Senate back, but to fight for progressive candidates that can sweep out the garbage with D's next to their names as well.

Bombing The Terrorists Gay

It was recently uncovered that the military had considered developing a non-lethal bomb that would theoretically have the power to turn enemy combatants into homosexuals. The idea was to release a gas filled with hormones that made soldiers irresistibly attracted to one another so that they wouldn't be interested in fighting.

This ridiculousness was developed by an Air Force lab, requesting $7.5 million for the project. The military says it had denied the project outright and the fact is they did not approve the expenditure. However, the Pentagon does not let on how quickly the idiocy was banished to the R&D archives.

From Ehrensteinland:

“The Department of Defense is committed to identifying, researching and developing non-lethal weapons that will support our men and women in uniform,” said a DOD spokesperson, who indicated that the “gay bomb” idea was quickly dismissed.

However, Hammond said the government records he obtained suggest the military gave the plan much stronger consideration than it has acknowledged.

“The truth of the matter is it would have never come to my attention if it was dismissed at the time it was proposed,” he said. “In fact, the Pentagon has used it repeatedly and subsequently in an effort to promote non-lethal weapons, and in fact they submitted it to the highest scientific review body in the country for them to consider.”

GLBT groups were both amused and outraged at the news. To think for even a moment that homosexuality can be induced and discouraging for soldiers to fight a battle is indicative of a culture in the military brass that shows how ignorant they are of such matters. One of the first heroes of the current war who was injured over there came out to the public not too long ago. Further, homosexual behavior has a long history when it comes to fighting wars. Here in 2007, it is absurd that this project got off the ground for only a moment.

Helen Thomas Talks

Helen sat down with Tim Russert on CNBC, talking about reporting, her relationship with George Bush and what she would do if Cheney became President.