Saturday, June 23, 2007

Top Ten Videos Of The Week

This is a great set of videos from the past week. I can't seem to get Obama Girl out of my head, the song is so annoying yet addictive at the same time. The Bush-Sarkozy comparison isn't bad either. Enjoy them all!

Another Draft Candidate "X" Club

Since the last ballots were counted for the 2006 elections, there were drafting movements for certain candidates. Huge movements started for Barack Obama, Al Gore, Fred Thompson and others (primarily "huge" for Barack and Al). Well now we have another movement for none other than NYC's own Mayor Bloomberg. His party affiliation switch caught the eye of the media, but he continues to deny a run for President while still heading up the city. However, amidst the frenzy the Draft Bloomberg operation started.....only it might be more of a *poof* than a *bang*.

From The New York Times:

A Draft Michael Bloomberg rally on the steps of City Hall this morning drew more journalists than the dozen or so volunteers who are hitting the streets today to collect signatures on unofficial petitions to urge the mayor to run for president. The event started just as Mr. Bloomberg wrapped up his weekly radio call-in program on WABC-AM, in which he told the host, John Gambling, “I’m not going to be president.” (Interestingly, the statewide organizer of the petition drive is a WABC producer, Frank Morano).

Draft Michael Bloomberg organizers are undeterred by the mayor’s protestations. “We have an audience of one,” said Karin B. Gallet, the New York City coordinator of the effort. She grew up in Kansas, where she said the mayor would find support because there voters liked people who could “get stuff done.”

Mr. Morano and Ms. Gallet said they were pleasantly surprised by the mayor’s recent change of party affiliation. They stressed that Mr. Bloomberg had not endorsed their effort.

I'm sure there are more than a dozen supporters of a Bloomberg White House out there, but whenever an event has more journalists than volunteers, it doesn't look good, especially being right here in New York. As of now (10pm EST), their website lists 66 petition signatures since the launch yesterday. I'm not much of a math person, but that seems kinda far from 15,000.

Big Pharma Strikes Back At Moore

As Michael Moore's new movie is making headlines across the country and even the world, do not expect Big Pharma to take this assault to their operations lying down. They have all known that Moore was filming this documentary and have been preparing to fire back at whatever Moore puts on the screen. Pfizer, Merck, GlaxoSmithKline, Amgen and the rest do not care that SiCKO has received a tremendous and well-received response. All they care about is their profits and for the system in Washington that rewards them to stay exactly how it has been going since Richard Nixon approved Kaiser Permanente's HMO system in the early 1970s.

The New York Sun reports on the counter-offensive:

"If you're in the policy business, your job is to find these teachable moments," the Cato Institute's director of health policy studies, Michael Cannon, said.

Cato has scheduled a breakfast symposium on Capitol Hill tomorrow featuring clips from "Sicko" and other movies documenting the health care industry. The event is expected to draw 170 guests, including congressional staffers. The "robust" turnout forced a change of venue three times to accommodate a growing list of attendees, Mr. Cannon said. "It's a nice problem to have," he said.

Cato scholars began last year writing Web log entries and op-eds on Mr. Moore's film, as well as posting pod casts to the Institute's Web site.

According to SourceWatch, a left-leaning group that tracks groups shaping public policy, several organizations staging responses to "Sicko" receive funding from pharmaceutical companies, including the Manhattan Institute, the Heritage Foundation, and the Pacific Research Institute.

Out of all these groups, none represent patients and consumers of the health care industry. This is all about the industry and their friends on Capitol Hill. The only people interested in fighting Michael Moore are those that profit off of the horror stories you learn about in SiCKO. For these people greed comes before humanity, and if they think they can refute the tidal wave of information from Moore with their well paid pails lobbyists, they have another thing coming.

New Jersey For "Dr. No"?

From PoliticsNJ

I'm not quite sure what the "EVOL" means exactly in the "revolution" banners these Ron Paul supporters so proudly display, I wonder if it even makes sense to them. The most obvious answer to me is for his anti-war stance, but who knows with Republicans. Despite his fame as a libertarian trying to stand out in a sea of neo-cons running for the Republican nod, they might want to know there is another side to Dr. No, including pertinent issues that could anger quite a few voters.

Double-Standard McCain

John McCain used to head the "straight-talk express" when he ran against George Bush in 2000, but now we all know he sings a different tune. Like many other GoOPers, his words and actions are full of hypocrisy. He'll preach one thing and do the opposite. Although his pet project now is to satisfy Wall Street with the question of 'illegal immigration,' he was long known for trying to reform campaign finance. He still rails against the system in his speeches, speaking out against how money influences politics and how there are too many lobbyists in Washington. So do his actions mesh with his words on that?

From The Huffington Post:

"Too often the special interest lobbyists with the fattest wallets and best access carry the day when issues of public policy are being decided," McCain asserts on his web site, declaring that he "has fought the 'revolving door' by which lawmakers and other influential officials leave their posts and become lobbyists for the special interests they have aided."

In actual practice, at least two of McCain's top advisers fit precisely the class of former elected officials he criticizes so sharply. On March 7, 2007, McCain named ex-Texas Representative Tom Loeffler, who has one of the most lucrative and influential practices in the nation's capital, as his campaign co-chair. In the same month, McCain named former Washington Sen. Slade Gorton, now a heavyweight lobbyist, as his honorary chairman for Washington state.

Loeffler's client list includes PhRMA, the drug industry association; Southwest Airlines; Toyota; and Martin Marietta. Gorton represents, among others, Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp., Weyerhaeuser and Fidelity National Financial.

The list of McCain's lobbyist/advisers goes on and on in the HuffPo report. None of this is really surprising, but it needs to be called out. It is far past the time to let Republicans get away with their rampant hypocrisy. Whether it involves 'moral values,' campaign finance or any other issue, the free ride is over.

Rep. Mark Kirk The Moron (R-Of Course)

Republicans never cease to simultaneously amuse and scare me with their ridiculous antics. Congressman Mark Kirk of Illinois is the example for the moment. This shows the ignorance of said Congressman and how that lack of knowledge breeds outright stupidity. When talking about Mexico and the undocumented immigrants coming to the United States, it also makes him look like a xenophobic idiot.

From Reuters:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A congressman is pushing a not-so-quick fix in the debate over illegal immigrants from Mexico: free contraceptives.

"A slower rate of growth of Mexico's population would improve the economy of Mexico. It would also reduce the environmental pressure on Mexico's ecosystem. But a slower rate of growth would also reduce the long-term illegal immigration pressure on America's borders," reasoned Rep. Mark Kirk, who also supports stronger border security in the short-term.

In reality, fertility rates have plunged in Mexico since 1980, when an average couple would have five or more children. Now, the country's fertility rate has dropped to 2.5 children, compared to 2.1 for the United States, according to United Nations data.

So much for this London School of Economics grad (are you kidding me???) analyzing all the data before offering his 'wisdom'. Offering contraceptives to people is a good thing anywhere, but when the motive is to cut down on 'illegal immigration' the proposal smacks of racist xenophobia.

Thankfully Reuters includes a slice of reality for its readers in the third paragraph. If Kirk could take those massive blinders off his face he might be able to see that the flow of people into the United States has nothing to do with population and everything to do with economics. If there is more opportunity in Country A and you live in Country B where corruption and poverty is rampant, Country A might be a little more appealing.

Oh, not to let Reuters off the hook, but at the bottom of the little article they try to spin the story for Kirk. Their logic is that with his LSE degree, the proposal might be better accepted because its more fiscally prudent to ship condoms than build a big fence in the desert. Way to go Reuters, what would we do without that silver lining in the story.

"No End In Sight"

This film is a must-see for all those that want to know how the war went down from the people that were involved. A true, enthralling tell-all movie.

From Youtube:

Opens 7/27 The first film of its kind to chronicle the reasons behind Iraq's descent into guerilla war, warlord rule, criminality and anarchy, NO END IN SIGHT is a jaw-dropping, insider's tale of wholesale incompetence, recklessness and venality.

No Shame For Giuliani, Huckabee And Chertoff

Republicans pull off many dastardly deeds (Iraq, screwing our economy, committing hypocrisy over social issues) almost on a daily basis. We've practically gotten used to their crap, but what Michael Chertoff and Presidential candidates Giuliani and Huckabee did in South Carolina recently is beyond their typical callous disregard for human emotion.

From Campaign Follies:

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) -- Nine caskets lined the front of a coliseum Friday as thousands of firefighters from across the nation, their hats in their hands, honored nine colleagues killed in a furniture store blaze.
Uniformed escorts walked the men's wives, siblings and children to their seats in a long procession of red carnations, tears and hugs.

Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr. said the men were heroes.


Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff told the gathering that the nine firefighters ''demonstrated the same bravery our nation witnessed on Sept. 11.''

''The tragedy of Monday reminds us that we live in a world in which danger is all around us,'' he said.

Two presidential candidates, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, were also among the mourners.

It was bad enough for Rudy and Mike to attend a funeral they had no business being at. The memorial for those nine firefighters was for their memory and for the families only, not for shameless political stunts. Chertoff truly stepped out of line by comparing this tragedy to September 11th.

For Bush's followers this type of act by his DHS Secretary is not wholly out of line, it happens all the time. Regardless, this shit can't stand, there needs to be apologies given by all three of the political perps. Rudy might have to do a littly more than apologize, the firefighters already have it in for him.

Friday, June 22, 2007

O'Reilly Only Accepts Answers That Agree With Him

What happens if you say something on the O'Falafel Factor that Bill O disagrees with? I hope there isn't anyone that is expecting a reasoned debate about the facts surrounding whatever the current issue is. Sometimes he yells at his guests (such as relatives of 9/11 victims), sometimes he points his big nabby fingers at you and other times he just cuts off your mic. The latter is exactly what happened to Robin Swanson when debating the anti-Hillary crowd on the left.

From The California Majority Report:

In the midst of a debate where O’Reilly was trying to pit the Left of the Democratic Party against Senator Hillary Clinton, I dared to disagree with his premise. I had the audacity to suggest that the fissures about the war in Iraq were actually in the Republican Party, not in the Democratic Party.

O’Reilly was clearly perturbed that I didn’t allow him to bully me. So, mid-sentence, apparently taking his cue from the season finale of the Sopranos, he cut my audio and video feed. Fade to black.

For a news organization that laughingly calls itself "fair and balanced," this was a new low. O’Reilly claims that his program is a "No-spin zone," but apparently, it’s "No-speech zone" if you disagree with him.

O’Reilly’s censorship of guests who don’t perform on-cue like trained monkeys is truly Orwellian. If you disagree with him, you don’t exist -- he cuts your feed.

Orwellian O'Reilly is nothing more than a partisan hack that makes his money off of fostering fear and hate on the right. His audience is pretty much all wingnuts and other Republicans. If you care to, here is the video of the incident care of Crooks and Liars.

Now, not to knock Robin, but why even bother going on his show? Trying to refute O'Reilly's talking points while his sycophantic audience feeds off the fire he spews is pointless. Those people are going to believe whatever they want to and that is why so many Republicans turn to Fox News. Deep down inside they know their views are completely off-base. Fox News exists to give them an illusory grounding for their thoughts.

It is definitely a brave act to go on their shows and be yelled at, demeaned and mocked, but we certainly aren't going to gain anything positive from those experiences.

Dana Perino Is Clueless About The Constitution

Dana Perino, stooge press secretary for the President clearly does not know what is written about the Vice-President's office in the U.S. Constitution. Reporters tried to ask her about Cheney's declaration that his office is not part of the Executive branch, but as any dutiful aide inside the White House, she couldn't give a straight answer.

George Bush: A Target Now And Forever

Our President has done and said many things over the last 6 1/2 years that will make him a prime target for many different groups around the world. His policies and actions have been horrific, plaguing nations and entire regions (including our own) for years and even generations to come. Naturally there will be many that will hold an ever-lasting grudge. So for safety's sake he should be protected just like any other former President starting in January of 2009. But does it take a force of over 100 men and women to do it?

From RawStory:

CNN reported Thursday that the Secret Service expects President Bush to be "a high value terrorist target after he leaves office." They then showed the Secret Service practicing to deal with everything from James Bond-style stealth weapons to roadside IED's in order to meet that challenge.

Retired agent Terry Samway told CNN, "We have the mandate to make sure that whatever they did during their presidency, they are still safe from any of those lingering issues after their presidency."

Even before 9/11, the cost of protection for former presidents was estimated as $24 million a year, and Bush will be guarded by an unprecedented 103 full-time agents starting in January 2009. However, a 1997 law limits the duration of Secret Service protection for former presidents to just 10 years.

When those ten years are up Bush will only be in his early 70s. As long as alcoholism or any other self-destructive behavior does not take him out in that time, he will still need a lot of protection to live out a long, happy life. Keeping a private army for himself will be quite expensive, but I'm sure the money will be there to keep him safe from all of the threats he has helped to create for himself. Personally, I think he should foot the bill for his secret service protection, but we are talking about George Bush, and takers will remain takers.

Republicans Censoring Ron Paul

The power brokers of the GOP do not like this Texas Libertarian-Republican who likes to stray from his party on key issues. Iowans for Tax Relief simply do not want to hear what this controversial candidate has to say. Is it because of the war or something to do with taxes? You would think that a Republican tax group would want to hear from a man that hates government control. So what was their excuse?

From Associated Content:

According to Failor, Paul is not a "credible" presidential candidate. For planning purposes, Failor said that his group, along with the Iowa Christian Alliance, "made a determination" of who to invite to the forum. Failor said that the groups could not invite "every person who claims to be a candidate," and that in order to "serve our membership," the forum would only include the "most credible candidates."

When talk show host Jan Mickelson called Failor's excuse "lame," Failor responded that "we don't have to offer the forum to everyone." Failor went on to say that "a bunch of people from out-of-state are calling my home at all hours" to protest the decision to not include Paul in the forum. He also claimed that Paul supporters were trying to "hack" into the Iowans for Tax Relief server in an attempt to shut down his website. Failor said that his group made the right decision to not include Paul in the forum "if that's the kind of people who support him."

Failor also criticized Paul's campaign staff, saying Paul's website contained "lies" about the reasons given to the staff regarding Paul not being invited to the forum. Paul's website said that no reason for not being invited to the forum was given to the Paul campaign staff. Failor said that he told the campaign staff that Paul was not a "credible" candidate and that campaign manager Lew Moore "yelled" at him when told that answer. Failor concluded by saying that the Paul campaign has provided their supporters with "inaccurate" information and "lacks scruples," calling Paul a "fringe" candidate.

With all the buzz around Ron Paul, calling him un-credible is a bit out of line. Of course he barely stands a chance in Republican circles but he has a lot to add to their debate. Paul hails from the old school Republican clan (for the most part) that was more isolationist than the 'world police' role the new guard likes to pursue.

If I were an average Republican voter, (a ghastly thought) Ron Paul probably wouldn't look as good as the front-runners but hearing his ideas would be important in shaping a platform that would be more digestible in the General election. Then again, we are talking about Republicans, and being narrow-minded is far more important.

Ralph Nader Looking For Trouble Again

Here we go again. Will someone please yank this guy off the stage?

A Million Dollar Disgrace

NBC just outbid ABC for the rights to the first post-prison interview of Paris Hilton. Besides the network taking a financial hit, the real losers are the rest of us. Sure, millions will tune in to hear the heiress tell her tragic tale of being locked up and blah, blah, blah. Yet, there is no real contribution to society from this interview. The real story is very short, she acted irresponsibly once, twice and kept doing it until the authorities finally had to lock her up for flagrantly disregarding the law.

Our media and subsequently our society is celebrity-obsessed to the point where real issues seemingly do not matter. Imagine if that million dollar payoff to a billionaire was invested in the news department. Network news hardly does the job they did in the past. Much of their news is either infotainment or regurgitated government propaganda. It's truly pathetic. The masses are too busy in their own lives and problems to notice and take much of what is thrown at them on the screens as fact.

When the Roman Empire began to fall, the majority of people were enthralled by games, too engrossed to care about what was beginning to tear their civilization apart. It was easier to watch games (as it is to see Paris Hilton sobbing) than to care and actually do something about the war-hungry Emperors that wasted the treasury on far-flung military conquest than shore up the homeland.

That Empire is long gone, but ours is still near its peak (or slightly past it). However, there is still time to salvage it. We need to wake up from the garbage shoveled at us on billboards and television screens and start to care about issues that truly affect us. Michael Moore stepped up with SiCKO, showing us how the HMOs would rather kill us than reduce their profit margins. Many advocacy groups fight against the degradation of the constitution and many other disgraces of the Bush Administration. The structure is there to fight, we just need more active citizens to fill the ranks and take back our democracy.

"Mobster" Rudy Furious At Bloomie

After claiming that his "mafia" impressions are better than Hillary's, there might more to the mafioso persona than just imitating 'Godfather' scenes. Bloomberg's big news has been taken in stride by the Republican nominee, but in private it is a different manner. Aides are saying that Bloomberg has betrayed his loyalty to Rudy and committed deception. How pathetically vain can the son of a mafia-connected father can he be?


"I like Mike very much," Giuliani said Wednesday. "I am disappointed he left the Republican Party. I still respect what he has done as mayor."

But behind the scenes, his loyalists are blasting what they call Bloomberg's betrayal of his political mentor.

"We're already hearing loyalty, deception -- I'm telling you, this is the next great soap opera," Reiter said.

'Soap opera' may be a better term than some sort of political mob war. That doesn't mean that the clash of egos will be great fireworks to see. A Bloomberg candidacy is more apt to hurt the Democratic field because our mayor's politics, but you never know how Giuliani will react if Bloomberg makes it official.

Justice: Colbert Style

Hillary Fan Begged Moore To Spare Her In SiCKO

After seeing SiCKO the other night, I can understand why Hillary's supporters would not like a certain scene that trashes her health care reputation. For those that pay attention to health care lobby money, it is common knowledge that Mrs. Clinton is one of top recipients of their blood money. It is especially painful for her when voters find this out because she is perceived as trying to fight the industry because of her work as First Lady back in 1994.

From The Washington Post:

Moore said after the premiere that movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, a personal friend and supporter of the Clintons whose company financed the film, "begged" him to remove a scene exposing Hillary Clinton as the second-highest recipient of campaign donations from the health-care industry.

"I said, 'No, Harvey. I gotta do the right thing.' He understood."

Moore said he didn't know whether the Clintons asked Weinstein to make the call.

The film describes her as "sexy" and "sassy" as photos of Clinton over the years are splashed on the screen.

After her health-care overhaul plan failed, Clinton went "silent" -- as Moore put it -- on the need for health-care changes. And then she began raking in the dough -- big time -- from the industry when she started running for office.

Good for Michael Moore. He did do the right thing by telling the story. This isn't Michael Moore's doing, the blame lies solely on Hillary and her ethics. The truth of the matter is that Hillary's credentials on health care don't amount to anything anymore.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Finally, Free Speech Zones Are Challenged

Bush's free speech zones have brought the ire of many that love the First Amendment of the Constitution. Those zones have allowed him to not hear your free speech, so he can more easily subvert the will of the American people. These creations should not have been here in the first place, their only significance is to create an illusion of democracy, not to foster it. The Atlanta city council tried to create an ordinance to further the legality of such zones, but they ran into some interference from the community.

From Atlanta Progressive News:

(APN) ATLANTA – The Atlanta City Council’s Community Development and Human Resources Committee (CDHR) unanimously recommended Tuesday to file the Atlanta Outdoor Events Ordinance, which called for Free Speech Zones for protesters, possibly spelling the end for the controversial proposal.

The City Council will consider the ordinance with the Committee’s recommendation to file when Members meet on June 18, 2007. Councilman Jim Maddox, who introduced the bill on behalf of Mayor Shirley Franklin’s Office, said of the recommendation: "That means [the ordinance] will be dead."

Greg Pridgeon, Mayor Franklin’s Chief of Staff, addressed the Committee and asked that Members file the ordinance so "the stakeholders who are engaged in discussion and debate are given a chance to get together and have further discussions."

"This legislation was well-intentioned and... was put forth at the request of the Administration," Pridgeon said. "We are here today to say to this audience and this Committee that we may have been premature in the ordinance we set forward."

Congratulations to the activists and concerned citizens in Atlanta that caught what the city council was up to. Free speech zones are an insult to the Constitution and the principles for which America was created on. This should serve as a warning to any legislative body that wants to give credence to the shameful practice of having 'free speech zones.' It is extremely unfortunate that they exist in the era of George W. Bush, but they should end exactly where they started.

Mr. Moore Goes To Congress

Michael Moore got a huge reception on Capitol Hill Wednesday when he talked about our health care crisis and what we can do about it.

The Holy Driving Test

In an odd development, the Vatican has decided to get itself involved in proper driving ettiquette. If you haven't taken the test, you shouldn't be too worried, some of the church's doctrine is already legislated by governments. Examples would be driving while intoxicated and reckless driving. But there are plenty of things that you won't find in a secular book of driving laws.

From The Huffington Post:

The unusual document from the Vatican's office for migrants and itinerant people also warned that automobiles can be "an occasion of sin" _ particularly when used to make a dangerous passing maneuver or when used by prostitutes and their clients.

And it suggested prayer might come in handy _ performing the sign of the cross before starting off and saying the rosary along the way. The rosary was particularly well-suited to recitation by all in the car, it said, since its "rhythm and gentle repetition does not distract the driver's attention."

Cardinal Renato Martino, who heads the office, told a news conference the Vatican felt it necessary to address the pastoral needs of motorists because driving has become such a big part of contemporary life.

Well I guess that prostitute thing is already covered in most countries, but saying the rosary is completely separated from the DMV. As for making signs, I'll stick with the finger over the cross for now. Even though I gladly sold my car last year to move to NYC, I do miss the bumper sticker I had that read "Religious People Frighten Me, Spiritual People Enlighten Me."

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Man On Dog Santorum Goes Hollywood

The buzz around Pittsburgh is that former Senator Rick Santorum wants to make a movie. Not about man on dog sex thankfully, but almost as bad. Now that he can't spread fear of terrorism as an elected official, the next realm for it will be on the big screen. Working with a former Mel Gibson associate, Rick wants to film a movie about an Iranian terrorist.

From The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:

Rumors have been buzzing throughout Harrisburg that Santorum was connecting with McEveety, who produced Mel Gibson blockbusters such as "Braveheart," "The Passion of the Christ" and "We Were Soldiers," on a project.


The story follows three Iranian brothers who take disparate paths in their lives, including one who becomes a terrorist.

At this point, Santorum's project doesn't have a title, and no decision has been made on where it will be filmed and whether it could end up giving the Pittsburgh area's film industry a boost.

Even for someone that would stoop to film the Passion of the Christ should have nothing to do with a politician that has constantly decried Hollywood for its moral depravity. It isn't surprising to see a Republican that bashed Hollywood for socially conservative votes to turn around and use the movies for his own gain. Nor is it hard to fathom that such movie would center around terrorism coming from all places, Iran.

Who in their right mind is going to finance this flick?

Ron Paul: It's All About The Internet

Ron Paul gets it right about politics and the internet. More than ever, the battle will be waged online.

Smelling The Candidates

Some people determine their choice for President based on issues, others look for leadership and demeanor. Parts of the cable news media however wants to use the smell test. Chris Matthews and now CNN's Alina Cho are passing on the issues and going straight to their sense of smell. Last week Matthews gawked over Fred Thompson's scent. Now Cho thinks Mitt Romney has the Presidential wiff.

From The Plank:

Chris Matthews caused some eyes to roll (and some predictable heads to explode) last week when, musing on the "sex appeal" of Fred Thompson, he asked:

Can you smell the English leather on this guy, the Aqua Velva, the sort of mature man's shaving cream, or whatever, you know, after he shaved? Do you smell that sort of -- a little bit of cigar smoke?

And now, courtesy of today's "Hotline," comes this comment by CNN anchor Alina Cho after the network aired an interview with Mitt Romney this morning:

He looks great, sounds great, smells great.

This is the great liberal media that conservatives like to complain about? Someone better send some decongestant to Newsbusters and Bernie Goldberg ASAP.

Another Giuliani-Connected Criminal

Rudy has certainly known his share of people of ill-repute over the years. Tying the political knot with Bernie Kerik despite his mob connections has to the be the worst example. However, Giuliani added another down south with his South Carolina Chairman Thomas Ravenel. The State Treasurer was indicted on cocaine charges with intent to distribute yesterday. He was immediately stripped of his duties by Governor Mark Sanford.

From WNBC:

South Carolina Treasurer Thomas Ravenel, a former real estate developer who became a rising political star after his election last year, was indicted Tuesday on federal cocaine charges.

The millionaire is accused of buying less than 500 grams of the drug to share with other people in late 2005, U.S. Attorney Reggie Lloyd said. Ravenel, 44, is charged with distribution of cocaine, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

The investigation into Ravenel arose from a drug case last year in Charleston, Lloyd said. State Law Enforcement Division Chief Robert Stewart said his agents were aware of the allegations before Ravenel was elected in November, but they didn't have enough information to pursue criminal charges. The case was turned over to the FBI in April.

Well Ravenel's career (and possibly his freedom) is finished with one fell swoop. According to investigators, this train crash was long in coming. So the question for Giuliani is why taint the campaign with a politician in serious criminal trouble?

If there were questions about Ravenel last year, couldn't Rudy have picked someone else? Feigning ignorance won't work here, Rudy has too many law enforcement connections not to have known about an impending investigation, especially when it comes to vetting your point man for the crucial southern state of South Carolina.

Sweet Home GoreObama?

The Young Turks put together this little piece tuned to Lynard Skynard's classic:

NY And Now CT Fail To Pass Medical Marijuana Legislation

Last week New York tried to legalize medical marijuana after Governor Spitzer gave his approval to the State Assembly. Unfortunately, Senate Leader Joe Bruno killed the bill. Now in Connecticut both statehouses approved their own legislation, but their Republican Governor wielded her veto power on it.

From The New York Times:

Supporters of the measure were quick to express their disappointment. Gabriel Sayegh, a project director with Drug Policy Alliance, an advocacy group, called the governor’s veto “unconscionable.”

“It guarantees the continued criminalization of people who are trying to relieve pain and suffering,” Mr. Sayegh said.

The law would have allowed residents 18 or older suffering from multiple sclerosis, cancer, AIDS and other diseases to grow marijuana in their homes with a doctor’s recommendation and a state permit.

Governor Rell had expressed a few different reasons for her veto that reflect the national mood. First off I do not agree with her stating that this would send a bad message to Connecticut's youth. We are talking about the pain of sick people Ms. Rell, not about getting high for fun.

Now there are other reasons that have more merit, such as forcing people to seek out drug dealers for their marijuana. Those are problems that need to be fixed in the bill, as they were in California.

Lastly, her qualms over the difference between State and Federal law shows the changing opinion of marijuana's medicinal use. The Feds hate it because they don't regulate it and the pharmaceutical industry that has infiltrated Washington would have trouble profiting from it. From a revenue perspective, it is easier to sell their drugs created in the laboratory. However, when there is a change in the nation about a particular subject, the states tend to reflect the coming wave, often years before it has an effect on Washington. Governor Rell could have stood up for the people of Connecticut, but she chose to cower to Washington instead.

Edwards Starts Throwing More Punches

Even though it is only June, Senator Edwards must have started to feel the strains of recent polling showing him way back in third place. Now these polls really mean next to nothing seven months before the Iowa caucus (btw Lieberman had double-digit leads at this time four years ago for the Prez nomination) but that didn't stop Edwards from attacking the two candidates at the top.

From The Iowa Independent:

Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards Sunday warned Iowa voters about what he perceives as the perils of nominating a candidate who down-ticket Democrats in some parts of the nation may decline to appear with in their own campaign events.

Speaking in Carroll, Edwards made the observation after saying there are "three of us who are most likely to be the Democratic nominee."

"It's not just a question of who you like," Edwards said. "It's not just a question of whose vision you are impressed with. It's also a question of who is most likely to win the general election. It's a pretty simple thing. Who will be a stronger candidate in the general election here in the State of Iowa? Who can go to other parts of the country when we have swing candidates running for the Congress and the Senate? Is the candidate going to have to say, 'Don't come here. Don't come here and campaign with me. I can't win if you campaign with me.'"

He added later, "I think it's just a reality that I can campaign anyplace in America."

Some in the media see that as an attack on both Hillary and Obama, but I believe it's meant for Mrs. You-know-who. The fact is, Edwards' assertion has legs to stand on. Many candidates in smaller races will decline her campaigning presence. It's not because she's a woman, it's because she is Hillary. Her negatives remain high despite the currently large lead. I know that she is trying to become funny now for damage-control's sake, I saw that Sopranos spoof with the campaign song. Ha ha......ha.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

We Already Know Who's In Charge

This humorous little clip makes it even more apparent about who runs the White House:

Surprise! Bloomberg Becomes An Independent

The groundbreaking and earth-shattering news of the day is that Mayor Bloomberg has officially changed his party status from Republican to Independent. The one-time Democrat switched to the elephants to run for Mayor of New York to follow in Giulani's footsteps. Although Bloomie continued the pro-corporate atmosphere of the city, he is hardly anything like his "Hitler on the Hudson" predecessor. Now the change in the antecedent initial following his name is more in line with his policies as Mayor.

Bloomberg's statement via The New York Times:

I have filed papers with the New York City Board of Elections to change my status as a voter and register as unaffiliated with any political party. Although my plans for the future haven’t changed, I believe this brings my affiliation into alignment with how I have led and will continue to lead our city.

A nonpartisan approach has worked wonders in New York: we’ve balanced budgets, grown our economy, improved public health, reformed the school system and made the nation’s safest city even safer.

We have achieved real progress by overcoming the partisanship that too often puts narrow interests above the common good. As a political independent, I will continue to work with those in all political parties to find common ground, to put partisanship aside and to achieve real solutions to the challenges we face.

Any successful elected executive knows that real results are more important than partisan battles and that good ideas should take precedence over rigid adherence to any particular political ideology. Working together, there’s no limit to what we can do.

Well that sounded great, but what is it for exactly? Could he have simply made the move (first for the NYC Mayoralty since 1971) to reflect his policies or for loftier purposes, such as running for President. This move followed his speech at Google yesterday that threw a few jabs at Bush and the Republican nominees. For someone that isn't running for the highest office in the land, he certainly is making all the right moves for his best possible shot next year.

Jon Stewart Heading To NBC?

Comedy Central has helped to make Jon Stewart and The Daily Show a household name. For the last few years, those with cable have been able to see him mock politicians on the left and the right (though mostly on the right with good reason). Of course in the TV world, anything that can gather a huge following on cable has the chance to make the leap over to the networks. Now there are rumors that we could see that jump for the Daily Show.

From Newsday:

NBC Universal president and chief executive Jeff Zucker and NBC Entertainment/Universal Media Studios co-chair Marc Graboff recently wined and dined the satirical news anchor and his agent, James Dixon, Broadcasting & Cable magazine reports.

A network source told the trade magazine that Zucker and Graboff didn't focus on pitching any specific role at the dinner meeting. "They just made their interest known in finding a way to do business together if Jon was ever available," says the source, who categorized the talks as "exploratory."

That slow and easy approach mirrors another of Zucker's high-profile courtships, his successful play to snare Meredith Vieira from "The View" to replace Katie Couric on the "Today" show.

"The Daily Show With Jon Stewart" is a franchise at Comedy Central, and Stewart's deal is up in 2008. NBC is turning its attention to its own late-night future. The network has some major decisions to make in the wake of its announcement that Conan O'Brien is scheduled to replace Jay Leno on "The Tonight Show" in 2009.

Don't worry yet Comedy Central, there's nothing in writing yet. Besides contemplating the future of CC's late night lineup (they'll still have Colbert), I am more concerned for the content. No one skewers politicians better these days than Stewart. The freedom that cable TV allows has helped to make the show such a huge hit. Moving to a network can cause serious censorship problems. In fact, Bill Maher had to find a new home at HBO in order to keep being "Politically Incorrect" after ABC kicked him off for being too controversial.

So while getting a brand new wide audience would be great for the Daily Show as it is now....would it still be the same with an NBC leash attached to it?

Coming Soon: Supermarket Swindle

Here's the trailer for Robert Greenwald's newest film, Supermarket Swindle. The flick exposes the supermarket industry and their campaign to raise prices and corporate salaries, while giving their employees absolutely nothing in raises.

C-SPAN Exposes Savages

Michael Savage is probably one of the more vile human beings that operate within the political sphere these days. He is an expert on using fear and hate to rile up the people that listen to his show everyday. The latest incident involves his speech at the Talker's Magazine "Freedom Of Speech" Award (something that Savage despises if the words aren't coming out of his own mouth). He turned his "savages" loose on the network because they didn't cover the speech because he didn't even bother to show up for it.

From ThinkProgress (video included):

Last week, right-wing radio host Michael Savage was presented a Freedom of Speech award at Talkers Magazine’s annual New Media Seminar. C-SPAN, which aired portions of the two-day event, chose to not air Savage’s acceptance speech because the conservative talker only appeared in a pre-recorded DVD speech.

Savage is now claiming he is a victim of censorship. Repeatedly attacking C-SPAN this week as “fascists” and modern versions of the “brownshirt movement in Hitler’s Germany,” Savage encouraged his listeners to call and email CSPAN about their supposed “blacklisting” of his speech.

On Washington Journal this morning, host and C-SPAN CEO Brian Lamb read aloud some of the emails he has received from alleged listeners of Savage’s show. The emails defending Savage are filled with personal attacks, referring to Lamb as an “ass loser Communist,” “pervert,” “bed-wetting commie,” and worse.

What makes the event even worse is that Savage is trying to profit off the affair by charging $22 dollars for the DVD. Absolutely disgusting!

Bloomberg: The Non-Candidate That Sounds Like A Candidate

Mayor Michael Bloomberg was on the campaign trail at Google's campus yesterday to talk to employees about what is wrong with the United States. Apparently he was invited to speak in an authors series, using the book he wrote ten years ago as cover to be in the Silicon Valley area. He told reporters he is not planning on running, yet he won't rule it out, calling a definitive answer on the subject too "Shermanesque."

From The New York Times:

In his remarks, he sounded much like a candidate for national office. He returned to a pet theme, criticizing the federal government for its immigration policies and what he sees as insufficient attention to rising costs of Social Security and health care.

Mr. Bloomberg also took a swipe at the presidential candidates of both parties, saying they were not offering serious ideas about improving public education or lowering street crime.

Arguing that people have a much greater chance of being killed by street crime than by a terror attack, he said: “Yet every press conference, they all beat their chests and say, ‘I can protect this country better from terrorism.’ Well, what about protecting them out in the streets every day?”

This type of talk does not correlate to his idea that he will stay put as mayor through 2009. It sounds a lot more like an independent candidacy for 2008. Even though there is an "R" next to his name, there would be no chance in hell he would ever win the Republican nomination. His only shot would have to include switching that "R" to an "I." Many independents and even some Democrats love to hear this.

However, in these times of partisan conflict, it would be hard for Bloomberg to make a good showing in a Presidential race. Much like in 1992 and 1996, even billionaires like Ross Perot did not have enough steam to make more than a dent in either the Democrat or Republican's numbers. Regardless, he says he isn't running, so we'll just have to wait and see.

Young Turks Takes On Rudy's "Offense"

Rudy's campaign strategy seems to be a commitment to be even more like George Bush. What does "going on offense" mean exactly? The Young Turks take on Rudy and his pals.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Economic Indicators Of The Bush Administration

Jesus General asks readers to determine which one of the following products have dropped in price since Bush took office. If you don't know already, just look at the product that stands out amongst the rest.

From JG:

I was doing some research on the economy, and I discovered something interesting. Of all the items listed below, the price of only one item has gone way down since Bush took office. Everything else has become much more expensive.

Dozen eggs
Gallon of Gasoline
Health Care
Gallon of Milk
Ear of corn
8-ball of cocaine
College Tuition
Loaf of bread

That one thing is cocaine. Now I'm not really an economics expert, but I do make sure to watch both Fox News and Lou Dobbs in order to get both sides, so I think I know what I'm talking about. The lower price must be because all the money being spent to destroy these drugs in Colombia is making Americans feel guilty about continuing to buy it - and the demand is dropping. And since President Bush makes everyone cherish life so much, the demand for things we need to live is going up. As a result, the terrorists are getting much less money for their drugs than they were just 5 years ago while good people are getting wealthier.

In case you don't hear the sarcasm dripping from this post, let me clue you in to what is most likely happening. The war on drugs people are destroying Columbian soil from growing anything for many, many years. Meanwhile on the streets in the United States, the demand is still incredibly high. So what is the missing link you ask? The coca farmers under the drug cartels are simply moving their operations elsewhere.

I'm not an economist either, but it does not take a lot of brain cells to rub together and deduce that if there is a demand for a particular product, suppliers will deliver. Now the Bush Administration's goal with Plan Colombia was to make cocaine really expensive by reducing the amount available to go to 'market.' Instead, the market is being flooded with cheap cocaine, making it even easier for Americans looking for a way to check out of reality to get a good deal on shit that can and most likely will ruin their lives.

Way to go George! Another Mission Accomplished!

Atonement For Using Agent Orange In Vietnam? Never.

For all the talk about other countries using chemical weapons and us fearing them for having them, the worst offender has always been the United States. We dropped the atomic bomb first, discarded old WMDs in the ocean and firebombed Vietnam with Agent Orange (Not to mention the current war on Columbian farmland drugs).

More than thirty years after the war ended, the Vietnamese appealed to the U.S. for the war crimes committed especially by the companies that manufactured Agent Orange by including the poisonous Dioxin compound. Even now with tremendous evidence on the plaintiff's side the Judges ruled for companies such as Dow, Monsanto and others.

From The Daily News:

Plaintiffs lawyer Jonathan C. Moore said the companies were reckless because they deliberately took steps to make sure the highly toxic chemical dioxin was not kept out of Agent Orange.

"I do believe the conduct of the defendants was intentional. They knew the risk and went ahead anyway," Moore said. "The effect it had on the people of Vietnam was certainly significant and drastic."

Judge Roger J. Miner said he heard indications that neither the government nor manufacturers were aware of the toxicity of Agent Orange.

Judge Peter Hall noted that U.S. troops were directly exposed to Agent Orange and U.S. aircraft sprayed more than 21 million gallons of it between 1962 and 1971 in attempts to destroy crops and remove foliage used as cover by communist forces.

Now we have over 10,000 American veterans that receive disability benefits due to the effects of Agent Orange. For these Judges to deny the same reality to the Vietnamese that lived on the land is absurd. Our government at the time was complicit in committing war crimes by using Dioxin in the Agent Orange and should hold itself accountable. Of course, accountability isn't an ideal that is upheld in our government anymore. So we shouldn't expect much from the Federal Appeals Court, especially since the Judiciary is being stacked with plenty of conservative Judges these days.

Say What?

Mitt Romney tried to explain his position on abortion to CNN today. Like the interviewer, the audience is left thoroughly confused.

Stepford Bans School Play, Broadway Gives It An Audience

Back in April students at Wilton High School in Wilton, CT were cut off by their principal from performing a play that told the tales of our troops overseas. The play was based on letters that soldiers wrote home and how those soldiers lived...and sometimes died. Principal Timothy Canty barred the students from putting on the performance for fear of offending the community. Hiding from the truth is apparently the Wilton way, as Ira Levin opined that Wilton was the basis for his book "The Stepford Wives."

Thankfully not all of Wilton mirrors the book, and these budding thespians showed that when they put on their play this weekend. The theater was packed and the students received a standing ovation, but it did not take place in Connecticut, it happened right here in Manhattan. The off-Broadway Public Theater hosted the students and the tremendous audience that followed them.

From ABC News:

Although the students were silenced on their own stage in Wilton, Conn., they were given another -- Off Broadway in New York City.

Nick Lanza, a performer in the play, said it isn't about the war, it's about the troops.

"For us, it's pro-troops," Lanza said, "It's about the troops' feelings, what's happening to the troops, not whether or not war is an issue."

Telling the story of our soldiers should not be something to be silenced. The principal in Wilton may want to numb the minds of his community, but when a story needs to be told people will hear it. The funny thing is, because of his effort of censorship, the students got an even bigger audience, at the Public Theater in New York and across the blogosphere and even mainstream media.

Not So Fast Congressman Young

As Bush blusters and threatens to veto Congressional earmarks, the king of earmarks, Don Young is proud of his own special programs, even saying so on the floor of the House of Representatives. Of course Bush never vetoed any pork for the six years of Republican rule, including Alaska's earmark legend. Putting Bush aside, lets focus on what the honorable Mr. Young had to say.

From CREW:

During a House debate on earmarks, Rep. Don Young (R-AK) spoke on the House floor about his earmark, including the infamous "Bridge to Nowhere" and the recent disclosure of a Florida highway, which the New York Times called an "obvious" tradeoff for campaign contributions:

“I was always proud of my earmarks. I believe in earmarks, always have, as long as they are exposed. But don’t you ever call that a scandal,” he said.

Young may not think he's enmeshed in scandal, but he is:

Making the comments was a bold move for Young, who has been facing scrutiny on a number of fronts recently.

Young has close ties to former lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who is in jail and cooperating with federal prosecutors before facing sentencing on another charge. In April, Mark Zachares, a former Young staffer and Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands employee, pleaded guilty to a list of charges stemming from his involvement in the Abramoff scandal. Media reports also have scrutinized his involvement in setting aside earmarks for a pipeline project that benefited a company that employed Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens’s (R) son, Ben.

The boldness of people like Don Young is incredible to watch. The man is acting on borrowed time, yet appears to be confident that the widening scandal will not touch him. Perhaps he might want to chat with his friends Bob Ney, Duke Cunningham and of course Jack Abramoff from their jail cells. They thought they were invincible once too.

Another Bad Week For Bush

Hardball takes a look at last week's reminders of how bad the Bush Administration is doing, both for the country and themselves. Grand pundits Bob Shrum and Alex Castellanos talk about Bush and who might be the next President.

Enviro-Friendly Airplanes

We are still far from the time when jet airplanes leave no impact on our atmosphere, but a new model may significantly cut into the amount of carbon they emit into our skies everyday. Britain's easyJet is set to introduce the "eco-Jet" in 2015, a plane that will emit half the amount of CO2 and 75 percent less nitrous oxide. The plane is designed for short hauls, so it wouldn't have any effect on the international flights. However short hauls make up a tremendous share of airline flights today, since so many carriers offer cheap little hops in the U.S. and Europe.

From LiveScience:

A 2004 study by NASA documented a 1 percent per decade increase in cirrus cloud cover over the United States, presumably due to increased air travel. Jets leave condensation trails, or contrails, that sometimes spread out and are indistinguishable from clouds. The researchers claimed that this extra cloudiness could account for a warming trend of half a degree Fahrenheit per decade in the years between 1975 and 1994.

EasyJet said its projection that the ecoJet would generate a 50 percent reduction in CO2 emissions was based on the latest research by leading aerospace manufacturers. The ecoJet’s engines would produce 25 percent of the improvement and its lightweight airframe 15 percent, while improvements to air traffic control technology and design would provide the remaining 10 percent.

The airline said that given its current passenger-cabin configuration and network, the eco-liner would generate less than 47 grams of CO2 per passenger kilometer in easyJet service.

Although it isn't perfect, the new design in aircraft will go a long way in combating excessive carbon output. In a perfect world aircraft would emit water vapor, but we aren't quite there yet.

No Falafels Allowed In Mets Clubhouse

You may be able to eat Mediterranean food at Shea Stadium but there was no love lost for Bill O'Reilly in the Mets Clubhouse this weekend. To be fair, it had nothing to with his politics. It had everything to do with credentials and O'Reilly did not have them. He must have felt that due to his status, he can just waltz in as he pleases.

From The Daily News:

O'Reilly, the FoxNews Channel talking head, got inside the visitors' clubhouse before Stadium security realized that he was not wearing a credential granting clubhouse access. He and his party then were escorted out of the room.

According to a reporter from The Record of Hackensack (N.J.), the Big Righty complained to the security officer, "You don't have to escort us out - we're going."

Coincidentally, If there is some irony surrounding the incident, it's that MSNBC's Keith Olbermann was in the Mets' clubhouse before Friday night's game. Olbermann hosts the left-leaning "Countdown" on MSNBC and he and O'Reilly have frequently exchanged barbs on their respective programs.

Despite the difference in political views, Olbermann has been around sportscasting for years. He was well known on ESPN, long before the days of his barrages against the Bush Administration. O'Reilly on the other hand is merely another right wing gas bag, and although he is (in)famous, that doesn't mean he can go where he chooses at Shea. Of course, like a good little wingnut, he didn't go without leaving a stench, complaining all the way.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

An Iraqi Father

David Arquette got together with Robert Greenwald of BraveNewFilms to capture the story of Ismaeel Hakeem and his nine-year old son Abdul who lost an eye in the attack on Fallujah in 2004. Check out Father's Day for Peace and see how you can help out.

The Day For Dad

So it's the third Sunday of June already and time to take a day to honor dear old Dad. Unlike Mother's Day where the history of the holiday is rooted in the theme of peace in the aftermath of the Civil War, this day was created partly by the efforts of Sonora Dodd in 1909. She wanted to honor her father, a Civil War vet who was a widower after the family's sixth child was born. To her, he was a selfless, caring and thoughtful Dad who was left to take care of the family in a rural area of Washington State.

After proclamations by three Presidents, Richard Nixon made it official and permanent in 1972. The specific time of year was picked because that was when Sonora was born. It is a tribute to the Dodd family and to all fathers that help make a difference in their family's lives. Cynics may call it another day for Hallmark to raise their revenues (which is partly true) but there is definitely more to it.

Due to the distance, all I can do today is call my Dad and wish him well, as he lives in L.A. and I'm in New York. Yet we share a special bond that only father and son can have. This Sunday and the last Father's Day have been especially important following his heart attack and open heart surgery that we all went through last April. It can be easy to take Dad for granted but when our mortality makes itself apparent, it is much easier to realize how special the people in our lives are to us. So for everyone and anyone who reads this, have a happy Father's Day.

Oh and one last note. I am also proud to say that my politics closely resemble my own Dad's beliefs. He went to Vietnam War protests in New York and Washington just as I have done in a few cities against our current war. So I want to leave you with a picture my Dad took at one event in New York back in the early 1970s. Does this face look familiar?

NYC Lets Developers Get Away With Anything

The horror story of the Atlantic Yards project consistently makes the local news and blog scene. Yet AY is one huge example of a city-wide problem where developers are consistently favored over residents. The Buildings Department is in disrepair while residents' complaints go mostly unnoticed. Fines and violations may be sent to developers who mess up, but the enforcement does nothing to curb the abuse that residents endure every year.

From The Daily News:

Typical was an e-mail from Ed Jaworski, vice president of the Madison-Marine-Homecrest Civic Association in Brooklyn.

His group "has generated a construction Dumpster's worth of correspondence [to] Community Board 15, to the Board of Standards and Appeals, even to the mayor's office," Jaworski wrote. "We've spent thousands of hours in meetings and on the phone. But building and zoning regulations are being manipulated to change the character of neighborhoods, house by house, block by block."

Ann Marie Amodeo wrote that an unscrupulous developer undermined the foundation of her mother's house on 70th St. in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn, damaging the wall and ruining the backyard when he demolished a building next door.

"Calls and formal complaints to the Buildings Department had little result," she wrote. "Under threat of a lawsuit, this builder eventually purchased my mother's house, but refused to pay market price."

The Department claims that they are adding more inspectors and already vigorously inspect housing, but those statements come from spokeswoman Kate Lindquist who's only interest is PR, not actual progress. The Daily News' story was backed up by many in the building community:

Bronx-based carpenter T.J. O'Connor wrote: "If the Department of Buildings exercised their power to not only issue violations but to enforce stop-work orders until fines are paid, the revenue collected from unscrupulous developers could be put toward hiring the needed inspectors."

Several readers added to the litany of complaints about the shoddy practices of architects and engineers who falsely certify that their work complies with building regulations and zoning codes.

But master plumber Robert Mengler mentioned another disturbing wrinkle.

"Master plumbers are also allowed to self-certify their work," he wrote. "There are certain licensed plumbers that have made lots of money by renting out their licenses. . . . The chances of this work being inspected is very, very, very low."

Now that is just wrong, pure and simple. Bloomberg needs to come down hard on developers and fix the bureaucracy in the Buildings Department that allows these messes to pile up. The way the system is currently set up allows these scum to take advantage of residents that stand in the way of their profits. And that has to be turned on its head.

Rachel Maddow Lays Into Huckabee Over Dresscode Remarks

Apparently Mike is afraid of mini-skirts...

VA Treats War Hero Like A Piece Of Garbage

A soldier that helped capture Saddam Hussein was lauded by the media and politicians alike when he came home from Iraq. He was everything that the warmongers wanted the public to see. Unfortunately those same people shaking his hand do not want to hear about the realities of war. When Jeans Cruz expressed the true horrors of conflict with a full-blown case of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, he was abandoned by those politicians and the apparatus of the armed forces that was supposed to help him.

From The Washington Post:

In public, the former Army scout stood tall for the cameras and marched in the parades. In private, he slashed his forearms to provoke the pain and adrenaline of combat. He heard voices and smelled stale blood. Soon the offers of help evaporated and he found himself estranged and alone, struggling with financial collapse and a darkening depression.

At a low point, he went to the local Department of Veterans Affairs medical center for help. One VA psychologist diagnosed Cruz with post-traumatic stress disorder. His condition was labeled "severe and chronic." In a letter supporting his request for PTSD-related disability pay, the psychologist wrote that Cruz was "in need of major help" and that he had provided "more than enough evidence" to back up his PTSD claim. His combat experiences, the letter said, "have been well documented."

None of that seemed to matter when his case reached VA disability evaluators. They turned him down flat, ruling that he deserved no compensation because his psychological problems existed before he joined the Army. They also said that Cruz had not proved he was ever in combat. "The available evidence is insufficient to confirm that you actually engaged in combat," his rejection letter stated.

Cruz continues to suffer from the horrible things he saw in Iraq. He even gave up his fight with the VA because they reject his claims over and over again. As a local from the Bronx, he grew up in the tough life of a housing project with his family and still does now. His job fixing boilers barely provides anything beyond keeping his head above water. Meanwhile the job itself results in panic attacks.

Jeans Cruz is one example of how the VA and the Bush Administration fail our troops. The complications of bureaucracy are meant to reject troops' claims of being ill. Not having good government in our country ends up showing itself with the poor souls like Cruz. We need to properly fund the programs that help soldiers cope with their experiences and spend less on Defense contractors and new military toys.

Parking Cops Go Way Too Far In The Bronx

A funeral in the Bronx was upset by the ridiculousness of local parking ticket officers recently. This is one event out of many where these officers issue tickets to one particular neighborhood in the Bronx at 2 1/2 times the average rate. While the practice may boost revenues for the city, it is drawing the ire of local residents and state Rep. Jeff Klein.

From The Daily News:

City parking enforcement agents are making life unbearable for mourners in the Bronx, funeral home officials and a state senator charged yesterday.

The agents slapped summonses on cars with roof-mounted funeral flags parked outside a borough funeral home and two local churches during funeral masses, said Robert Ruggiero, the owner of F. Ruggiero & Sons in Morris Park.

The agents even towed mourners' cars, Ruggiero said.

"Luckily, we managed to stop the towing, but the traffic agent with the tow-truck driver didn't quash the tickets," Ruggiero said of the most recent incident at St. Francis Xavier Church.

"This is not a night club or a disco," he said. "They are people who are very upset at a time of deep emotional distress."

Personally I feel that these light blue uniformed "cops" are generally obsessive when it comes to their jobs. The amount of tickets issued all over the city is way out of hand and needs to be curbed. Illegally parked cars should be given summonses, but when you have cars in a funeral being towed, the only discipline needs to be directed at the ones writing the tickets, not the other way around.