Friday, July 20, 2007

Bush To Get Probed, Cheney President For A Few Hours

JetBlue Tries To Have It Both Ways, Gets Burned Instead

Apparently JetBlue couldn't take the rightwing pressure after the Falafel Factor went after them for sponsoring YearlyKos. They relented to Bill O and backed down. But then they tried to turn it around. Not only has this angered progressives, they still haven't placated the rabid rightwingers that watch O'Reilly's show.

From Kos:

Okay, so JetBlue, after deciding to resist Bill O'Reilly's pressure last night, just decided to back down. Let them know what you think about that.

As for my part, I'm cancelling my JetBlue American Express card and will be looking at alternative options for my future travel. Too bad. Unfortunately, JetBlue just told me (and the rest of us) that they accept O'Reilly's bullshit smears.

What's really interesting about this whole affair is that the most aggressive pushback is coming from Hillary Clinton's camp. JetBlue may have just exacerbated their PR problem, but at least we're seeing that the days when Democrats would've followed suit are behind us.

Update: Oh, and JetBlue advertises with Fox. You see, it's okay to support the likes of Ann Coulter.

Update II: JetBlue wants me to note that they didn't pull the tickets they donated to the event. So the sponsorship remains, but they are too afraid to let anyone know that they donated those tickets.

Doesn't this seem the worst of all worlds. Will right wingers be appeased considering that JetBlue is still giving yKos free tickets? Way to piss off everyone...

They had it right the first time, saying that they'd be happy to sponsor events from all ends of the ideological spectrum. That'd be more than fair enough.

Right on Markos, too bad the PR and corporate brass were too thick-headed to stick to their initial decision. I love that airline, but this mishap puts a bad mark in my book for them.

A Little Lighter Sense

The infamous Shoe Bomber Richard Reid used matches in an attempt to light a bomb implanted in his shoe a few years ago. This crazy action prompted another by the Congress at the time. Cigarette lighters were to be confiscated, but you could still bring matches on-board just as Reid had done. The Transportation Security Administration followed this ridiculous law for years, until they concluded this month that the rule was a waste of time and a waste of millions of dollars to dispose of the confiscated items.

From The Chicago Tribune:

Lawmakers said that if Reid had used a lighter, instead of matches, he might have been able to ignite the bomb, but Kip Hawley, assistant secretary for the Transportation Security Administration, said Thursday that the ban had done little to improve aviation security because small batteries could be used to set off a bomb.

Matches have never been prohibited on flights.

The policy change, which is to go into effect Aug. 4, applies to disposable butane lighters, like Bics, and refillable lighters, like Zippos. Torch lighters, which have thin, hotter flames, will still be banned.

Security officers have been collecting some 22,000 lighters a day nationwide.

So come August 4th, bring all of your lighters to airport, and wave them in the faces of the "security officers" and shout "nah, nah, nah, nah nah" at them. Or something grown up and responsible like that. Just make sure the lighters have less than 3.4 oz of fluid, or else they'll still take it away. That goes for such explosives as water, toothpaste and hair gel, you know, the dangerous stuff.

Project Phin's Quest To Save The World

The episode is a little bit twisted, but the point gets across that we need to do something about having more clean energy and fighting Big Oil....even if it takes celebrity appearances.

CREW Files Ethics Complaint Against Vitter

There has to be accountability for elected officials who screw up. Senator David Vitter is a prime example of a morally bankrupt politician that says and preaches one thing while doing the exact opposite. He "came clean" when his name was about to be released by the DC Madam, Deborah Palfrey. But the whole story is still buried and he denies many of the other allegations about him. Instead of apologizing he went on the offensive, disgracing his constituents and playing them as fools in the process. So the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington decided that they wanted to see the Senate investigate him so we can get to the bottom of the mess, take the appropriate action and move on.

From CREW:

Today, CREW filed a Senate Ethics complaint against Senator David Vitter (R-LA). We asked for an investigation into whether he violated the Senate Rules of Conduct by soliciting for prostitution. The complaint can be found here.

On July 9, 2007, it was revealed that Sen. Vitter's telephone number was included in the so-called "D.C. Madam," Deborah Jeane Palfrey's, list of client telephone numbers. Sen. Vitter confirmed that he had sought Ms. Palfrey's services, saying in a statement, "this was a very serious sin in my past for which I am, of course, completely responsible."

Two other women also have alleged that Sen. Vitter engaged the services of prostitutes. According to Jeanette Maier, the "Canal Street Madam," Senator Vitter visited a New Orleans, Louisiana brothel several times in the mid-1990s and a woman who worked as a prostitute under the name of Wendy Cortez has claimed that several years ago, Senator Vitter was a regular client of hers.

Engaging the services of a prostitute violates both District of Columbia and Louisiana criminal law.

Following the law isn't the most favorite pastime of David Vitter and other "morally superior" people, it is time to teach them a lesson.

It's Not The Steam Pipe's Fault

The world is an inter-connected place, so there is no reason to believe that the explosion near Grand Central on Wednesday was an isolated event. The papers have mentioned the Gramercy Park explosion from 1989, but it is more of a side note than a beginning of an in-depth look at whats going on with our infrastructure. Reading the DMI Blog this morning, Elana Levin's "When Infrastructure Attacks" put the big picture on display with great style. Loved the title too.

From The DMI Blog:

I should probably explain this blog post's title. When chasms in the earth open up near Grand Central the media tends to report it. Even Fox. But what you won't see in the media by and large is a discussion of why it is that these accidents take place. Sure they'll explain how the explosion was caused by water hitting an antediluvian steam pipe but they just won't make the connection between the lack of investment in our country's infrastructure and things going kablooie. You see it takes money to keep any locality running. And localities get that money through our taxes.

Infrastructure is quite literally crumbling beneath our feat and to paraphrase Rick Perlstein "it's not the terrorists, it's the tax cuts". You see you can't have modern society without infrastructure, like emergency services, a working sewage system and a power grid. And if your only goal as a society is to cut taxes eventually you are left with asbestos covered steam pipes from 1924 that explode and kill people - and yes, damage business interests.

One thing I really like about Mayor Bloomberg's PlaNYC is that his plan seriously addresses infrastructure as a long term investment for our city. As a major economic engine for the country we all need to be concerned about NYC having ongoing access to clean water, the ability to safely meet (and reduce) our need for electricity, and get all of our roads into safe condition, just to name a few tasks highlighted in the plan. It's not just NYC that needs to plan ahead- it's the whole country.

The problem with the country and infrastructure is that there is a trend starting to form that privatizes the repair of America's wires and pipes. It's a free-market libertarian's dream but a nightmare for the rest of us. As Elana said in the post, our money goes a lot farther when it is collectively put together for the common good. When companies propose to fix infrastructure for profit, its the bottom line that comes before the common good.

President H.W. Bush signed an Executive Order allowing for the privatization of infrastructure back in 1992. It is already happening with our highways. The more our pipes fall apart, the greater the demand of corporate America to seize the opportunity to increase their profits. With an Administration hell bent on destroying the capabilities of our government and cities that are desperate to fix the problems that can't be fixed without federal dollars (excluding cities like New York with large tax bases).

The Congress needs to draft legislation to appropriate money to fix our infrastructure so that we can keep on having the civilized society that we enjoy. Repairs can also make the system more energy efficient as well. And we won't have to worry about market-based solutions that provide access to customers that only increase returns such as what is starting to happen in the Telecom industry in relation to rural customers where it is more expensive to reach them, the same thing can happen with wires, steam and especially water.

Larry King Can Dance, Nice Figure Too

This might not be what you want to see in the morning, but its damn funny. Anderson Cooper let an embarrassing photo-shopped flash animation of Larry King in a bikini on the air last night.

White House: "We Are Above The Law"

It is no longer a case of assuming that the Bush Administration will circumvent the legislative branch and the Constitution when Democrats put Harriet Miers in contempt of Congress for not testifying. An anonymous Op-Ed in the Washington Post today by a senior Bush official signaled that they would not allow the Justice Dept to file charges against Miers or anyone 'protected' by the White House when Congress requests it.

From RawStory:

Under law, a contempt citation by the House or Senate must be submitted to Washington, D.C. US attorney, who then brings the charge to a grand jury.

"It has long been understood that, in circumstances like these, the constitutional prerogatives of the president would make it a futile and purely political act for Congress to refer contempt citations to U.S. attorneys," the anonymous Bush official added.

George Mason University professor of public policy Mark J. Rozell called the administration's stance "astonishing" in the article.

"That's a breathtakingly broad view of the president's role in this system of separation of powers," Rozell told the reporter. "What this statement is saying is the president's claim of executive privilege trumps all."

And the President believes he trumps all, from Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi to the Constitution and our rule of law. It is obvious that he will stop at nothing to get his ends achieved, even if the means consist of acting as an authoritarian dictator. Meanwhile Harry Reid whines that the President isn't above the law. Well Harry, that's my job and others of us who can type but do not have the power to throw the bastard out of the White House.

Pelosi needs to start bringing charges against him and Reid must collect the votes to convict Bush and Cheney of their crimes against our Republic. If they do not, our democracy is just a pathetic joke.

Congestion Pricing: It's Not Dead Yet

It's been a rough few days for the Mayor. A friend of mine saw him nail down three glasses of wine at a trendy Upper East Side restaurant earlier this week. But all is not bad for the Mayor at the end of this week. Bloomberg's pet project arose from the grave again yesterday as state legislators made a deal that rests more power for the city council and the special commission being set up to examine all the details.

From The Daily News:

The agreement in Albany, which came after days of roller-coaster negotiations, stopped short of granting Bloomberg blanket authority to impose his ambitious congestion pricing plan.

But it gave the city the green light to start setting up the system - without collecting tolls just yet - while a state commission decides if there's a better traffic-busting idea out there.

The City Council and Legislature also would have to sign off. Mayoral aides said they were confident the commission would see it Bloomberg's way, and the Council and Legislature will follow.

Silver remains a tough customer for the press, stating that nothing is certain. The commission could cut out a lot of Bloomberg's ideas over the next few weeks and months. Although I am a fan of this effort, I think it would be good to practice a little power-sharing in New York City when it comes to our Mayor. We already know too well the devastating effects of an omnipresent chief of the city.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Unofficial College Republican Convention Tour

Absolutely hilarious. When push comes to shove, the tough-talking youngsters would rather fight the war from home while our troops are forced over to Iraq to support these ideologues and their crazy notions about the world. Congrats to Max for making this clip.

Diane Sawyer Apologizes For Unfair Treatment Towards Harry Reid

It is a rare moment in the mainstream media for a journalist to apologize for their errors, but Diane Sawyer admitted her mistake today for incorrectly saying that Harry Reid was filibustering. Apparently she forgot what the term means, even after all of her years covering Washington. Thankfully she remembered later on and fessed up to her mistake.

From Media Matters:

On the July 19 edition of ABC's Good Morning America, co-host Diane Sawyer apologized for her false assertion -- documented by Media Matters for America -- regarding Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's (D-NV) plan to hold an all-night Senate debate prior to the July 18 cloture vote on a Democratic proposal to withdraw troops from Iraq.

On the July 17 edition of the program, Sawyer said that Reid "vows to filibuster, talking all night to close out all topics besides a vote on Iraqi troop withdrawals." In fact, by extending the Senate session throughout the night, Reid did not "vow to filibuster," as Sawyer reported; rather, he highlighted the Republicans' blocking of an up-or-down vote on the proposal. Indeed, it was the Republicans who opposed the Democrats' effort to end debate on the legislation and move to a simple majority vote. In her on-air statement, Sawyer clarified that Reid had actually "held the all-night debate to protest the threat of a filibuster from the Republicans. ... You wrote me. You were right. I was wrong. I apologize."

Congratulations Diane, I hope your example of honesty will be mirrored by all of your colleagues. Of course, that is probably just wishful thinking on my part. Too bad the trend in traditional media outlets is to screw up and move on.

FEMA Trailers: Killing Them With Kindness

FEMA's response to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina has already been proven as a disaster to compliment the destruction of Mother Nature. Now Congress is examining one such example where the trailers that were brought in to house refugees were contaminated with high levels of cancer causing formaldehyde. Just one more disgrace after another for the Bush Administration and its agencies that are supposed to help people.

From The Gavel:

At 10:00 a.m. the Oversight Committee will hold a hearing, “FEMA’s Response to Reports of Toxic Trailers.” The Committee will hold a hearing investigating formaldehyde levels in FEMA trailers provided for victims of the Gulf Coast hurricanes and FEMA’s response to these reports. The Committee will hear from current residents occupying FEMA trailers, experts who are familiar with the health impact of formaldehyde, and from FEMA Administrator Paulison. Formaldehyde is a chemical used in paint and adhesives, and is classified as a “known carcinogen” by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Reports of high formaldehyde levels found in FEMA issued trailers and FEMA’s response raise serious public health concerns.

Chairman Waxman:
“Another FEMA official wrote, the office of general counsel has advised ‘We do not do testing, because it would imply FEMA’s ownership of this issue.’ Early in the process, due to the perseverance of a pregnant mother with a four month old child, FEMA did test one occupied trailer. The results showed that their trailer had formaldehyde levels 75 times higher than the maximum workplace exposure levels recommended by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. The mother evacuated the trailer. FEMA then stopped testing other trailers.”

If only we had oversight like this with the Republican Congress before the disaster ever happened. Perhaps then those trailers wouldn't have been introduced in the first place. FEMA used to be such an amazing agency and now its a national and international disgrace. One of the reasons America became so great was that the government took care of its citizens and helped them to achieve a better life. Now they help poison them with carcinogens, how wonderful.

O'Reilly Defending Pedophiles?

More lunacy from Bill O investigated by Keith Olbermann:

Campaign Finance Deal Struck In Albany Today

With all the craziness down here in midtown Manhattan today, a little bit of common sense made its way through at the State Capitol. I'll emphasize the 'little bit' part. The deal hardly accomplished anything, leaving campaign contribution limits high. The limits will fall to some degree and there will be more requirements mandating donors to open about who they are, but something tells me Albany will still be wide open for 'business' after everything is signed by Spitzer.

From The New York Times:

Senate Republicans had initially resisted any campaign finance measure. Many Republican legislators expect the governor and the Democratic Party to aggressively back challengers against them next fall and had argued against any plan that would make it difficult for them to raise money against a wealthy candidate.

But the plan unveiled today leaves intact the ability of the real estate developers — steadfast supporters of the Republican Party — to give vast sums to candidates through their limited liability companies.

“This is a very good beginning and moves us back into the ballpark of campaign finance reform,” said Barbara Bartoletti, legislative director of the League of Conservation Voters in New York State.

Russ Haven, legislative counsel for the New York Public Interest Research Group, said: “Considering where we’ve been stuck at for a generation, it’s a move in the right direction. But clearly there’s an unfinished agenda.”

An unfinished agenda indeed. I want to see clean elections brought into the fold. That would be serious reform for New York. The problem is that we still have too many corrupt politicians that want everything to stay the same while making it look like there is change. We need more progressive elected representatives so that New York can finally represent New Yorkers and not three men in a dark room making deals.

Living On The Eastside, Should We Wear A Mask?

So it is a little over a day since the giant steam pipe explosion over here in Manhattan. I live about a half mile from the Con Ed Catastrophe that killed one person from cardiac arrest and injured many others. Even tonight, Third Avenue is blocked off from 34th St. up to the site with tons of various equipment and trucks brought in for the cleanup.

Cops are wearing masks in and around the area, but relatively few citizens don the attire that can block the poisonous effects of asbestos. You would think if it is good enough for the police, it might be as well for the residents of the area, so what gives?

City officials including the mayor say there is no asbestos in the air, so why the masks? Just a precaution perhaps? If thats the case, where's my mask?

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Feinstein Claims War Supporters Are High

It isn't too often you hear U.S. Senators talk about drugs except when it is to crack down on them. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) bucked that trend last night.

Chertoff's Gut Denies NYC Anti-Terrorism Funding

Barely a week after Homeland Security boss Michael Chertoff and his gut had a feeling we are about to be attacked, he denied America's #1 target its fair share of funding to help prevent and deal with such attacks. Although he bestowed one whole half of a percent increase, New York remains #19 on the list of per-capita spending on anti-terrorism measures. Meanwhile other cities like San Diego saw their shares double. Chertoff needs to start using his brain instead of his gut when doling out money to fight terrorism.


"The fact remains that when you catch somebody who is a potential terrorist they've got a map or picture of New York," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.

Just a week after warning of a heightened threat of terror attacks this summer, Chertoff handed out anti-terror grants that took care of cities all across the nation, but once again ignored New York City's position as one of the top targets.

"Secretary Chertoff said the preponderance of the threat is still in New York, yet we get 18 percent of the money," NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly said. "So, it just simply doesn't add up."

Thats right, it doesn't add up. Nothing makes sense when it comes to the Bush Administration and all of the miserable failures that serve him. Chertoff is a prime example of failing to do his duty to the American people. It seems to be a mantra for the President and his merry men and women.

The Dead Zone Off Of Louisiana

This isn't about the widespread devastation of the Gulf coast due to Hurricane Katrina or Rita. The Dead Zone is in the ocean, created by toxic runoff from the Mississippi River that creates algae blooms in the open water and then the decaying plants suck out all the oxygen in the water, essentially destroying the possibility of life in the area. According to scientists, it is now the 2nd largest dead zone in the world and growing larger year by year.

From The Sun Herald:

-- Researchers predict the recurring "dead zone" off the Louisiana coast will grow this summer to its largest size in at least 22 years, 8,543 square miles.

The forecast, released today by the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium, is based on a federal estimate of nitrogen from the Mississippi River watershed to the Gulf of Mexico. It discounts the effect large storms or hurricanes might have.

The "dead zone" in the northern Gulf, at the end of the Mississippi River system, is the second-largest area of oxygen-depleted coastal waters in the world. Low oxygen, or hypoxia, can be caused by pollution from sources including farm fertilizer, soil erosion and discharge from sewage treatment plants, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

If the economic situation wasn't bad enough already, this exacerbated problem will further hurt the economy of the Gulf coast. As the dead zone grows, the area where shrimpers and fisherman will shrink, resulting in a more crowded space and further depletion of the marine life that is still there.

Clinton Plays Both Sides Of Controversial Murdoch

I have to be honest, it is irritating to see so many political figures on the left endorsing Hillary. Joe Wilson's was particularly troubling for me because I respect him so much. Don't get me wrong, I'd take her over any Republican any day, but it would be more about picking the less toxic poison than a candidate I believe in. One glaring example is her relationship with Rupert Murdoch. To be fair, the other front runners have taken money from Fox Execs, but not from Murdoch directly and the sums are not even close to being similar.

From The Huffington Post:

On June 5, Rupert Murdoch, chairman of the News Corporation, gave her presidential bid $2,300. A few weeks later, his son, James R. Murdoch, chief executive of British Sky Broadcasting in London, gave $3,400. Altogether, NewsCorp/Fox executives gave at least $40,000 to the Clinton campaign.

In July 2006, the elder Murdoch hosted a fundraiser for Clinton's Senate re-election campaign, raising many eyebrows among Democrats. The Financial Times, which first disclosed the event, noted that Murdoch was a part of the "vast right wing conspiracy" named by Hillary Clinton as determined to destroy her husband's presidency.

She explained her willingness then to accept Murdoch's support to the FT: "He's my constituent and I'm very gratified that he thinks I'm doing a good job."

Asked about the Murdoch contributions to Clinton's presidential bid, Howard Wolfson, director of communications, said he had no comment.

If Hillary wants to be open and honest, she should explain her precarious situation with the global media tycoon. Rupert Murdoch is no ordinary constituent, that explanation is pathetic at best. She only refused to participate in the Fox News debate after Edwards and Obama declined first and didn't bother criticizing Murdoch or the network. Hillary touts this type of behavior as being a centrist, but in reality she looks like she is playing the base for fools.

Bush's Report Card: A Gentlemen's F

George Bush is no gentleman, so I give him a solid F for his abysmal failure of a Presidency, not just the war in Iraq. Jon Stewart has more:

Fighting Gentrification In The Fashion District

The constant spread of expensive, gleaming high rises is undeniable in the city. New Yorkers are okay with this downtown and in midtown, but many locals hate to see it in neighborhoods such as the LES, Chelsea and even in my Kips Bay area. Well there is one group of fashionistas that want to see the Fashion District saved from gentrification.

From AM New York:

Even as fabric and trim suppliers, cut-and-sew contractors and fashion company showrooms lose their leases, the city is considering rezoning to allow offices, the coalition said.

The garment district today is a shadow of what it used to be 50 years ago, when the streets were clogged with European immigrants pulling racks cloaked with fabrics, embroideries and finished garments. Before the influx of offices and hotels, cheap imports and outsourcing to China and other countries had already significantly scaled back business.

But a small nucleus of fabric and button sellers, fashion studios and contracted sewing workers remain, Geffner said.

"It's about saving the community that exists," said Geffner. "It's the backbone of the fashion capital of the world. Without it the whole thing will come tumbling down."

The center of fashion in America will always be here in New York, but keeping the district intact is crucial to keeping our dominance. Those new offices drive up rental prices which put long time businesses out of commission.

The identity of New York is always changing, but there are many parts that need saving. This is definitely one of them.

Chiding 9/11 Victims? WTF Bloomberg?

Well it seems Bloomberg is still definitely out of touch with average New Yorkers. He is light years away from the heroes of September 11th. He blasted a lawsuit filed by 9/11 workers seeking to be compensated for their long term injuries caused by the air of Lower Manhattan in the aftermath of the attack. In a very condescending manner, he said the plaintiffs don't understand the situation concerning the victims' fund.

From The Daily News:

The workers' lawsuit seeks compensation from several parties, including Bloomberg and the World Trade Center Captive Insurance Co., which was charged by Congress with doling out money for treatment of people exposed to toxic dust at Ground Zero.

"Well, they just don't know the facts ..." Bloomberg said. "And the insurance company can only pay out monies if somebody sues us and wins a judgment against us. That's the way it's set up."

But an attorney for the ailing workers - a hospital staffer, an NYPD detective and a former detective - said the city's use of the money to challenge worker claims was a slap in the face to those who responded to the terror attacks.

"The city has spent more money on Post-it notes than to take care of one single hero from 9/11," said attorney Marc Jay Bern, who is suing in Manhattan Supreme Court.

How dare you Mr. Bloomberg. Those brave men and women deserve every penny they need for their injuries.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Colbert Pegs Senator Nelson

On Colbert's first night back, his guest was conservative Democrat Ben Nelson (D?-NE). The main topic was the war and how Bush and the Congress figure into it. Colbert is at his best, and you can see that brilliance at the end of the clip.

Labor Sec'y Tells American Workers They Stink

Labor Secretary Elaine Chao is a piece of work. She had the audacity to tell Parade Magazine that American workers need to be more punctual, obedient and to take care of their personal hygiene in order to compete with the changing world labor market. Grab a bar of soap and some shampoo and see the quote verbatim.

From Parade Magazine:

You could lose your job to a foreign worker—not because he’s cheaper but because he has better workplace skills and discipline. That’s the message Labor Secretary Elaine Chao hears from U.S. executives who are worried about America’s competitive future. While losses are low thus far—one study estimates that only 280,000 jobs in the service industry out of 115 million are outsourced each year—that could change. Beyond the cheaper cost of labor, U.S. employers say that many workers abroad simply have a better attitude toward work. “American employees must be punctual, dress appropriately and have good personal hygiene,” says Chao. “They need anger-management and conflict-resolution skills, and they have to be able to accept direction. Too many young people bristle when a supervisor asks them to do something.”

Are you kidding? Excuse me while I bristle at her remarks, but she is completely out to lunch. Perhaps if she talked to American workers more than those that make their money in the boardroom, she would hear concerns such as low wages, job insecurity and employers that overwork their staff.

Ms. Chao did respond to the adverse reaction of many readers with a clarification that blamed the editors of Parade Magazine. She also forgot to apologize for her tasteless comments. I would love to see her try and survive in today's labor market without her connections to the Republican party, especially with her husband Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY).


There are so many good stories today, I just had to put all these links in.

Republican Governors Crist and Schwarzenegger talk about the importance of global warming and fighting it, even without Washington. I wonder how that figures into Arnold's decision to do this.

With all the money being spent wasted on the war, perhaps the Pentagon might want to make a budget request to buy a solution to the war, being sold by an army officer on EBay.

The technology to help curb greenhouse gases is out there, but legislators doubt that public wants them to spend the big bucks to actually carry them out. Perhaps if they didn't waste so much on the war....

The Fishbowl highlights Novak's answer on Meet The Press this weekend on why he is called the "Prince of Darkness." Maybe he might want to examine the dark and narrow thinking that Rove was such a great source for him.

Rep Chris Cannon (R-UT) whines about Mel Watt (D-NC) calling Bush a liar on the floor of the House. Cannon should realize we are striving for honest and open government, not just being nice to one another on Capitol Hill.

And the most popular Republican Presidential candidate is......."None of the Above."

O'Reilly Attacks JetBlue And DailyKos

Cenk Uyugr and the rest of the Young Turks help expose the idiocy of O'Reilly's "journalism skills" when he went after JetBlue helped sponsor the upcoming YearlyKos convention in Chicago.

Congestion Pricing: The Aftermath

Monday was a bad day for Bloomberg and his congestion pricing plan. In a week it went from having a chance at being signed into law to a possible option for a special committee to be convened at a later date. Despite Bloomberg's pull down here, he was incredibly ineffective up in Albany. His pal Spitzer abandoned him as did Senate Minority Leader Malcolm Smith. The Senate did convene at the Capitol, but the Assembly controlled by Silver was down in the City. In the end, Bloomberg lost and conceded to the obvious victor, Sheldon Silver.

From The Daily News:

The mayor rushed from one private meeting with legislative leaders and Gov. Spitzer to the next, avoiding reporters.

The mayor was supposed to appear at a news conference with Republican leaders, but Bruno faced the press alone. Reporters looking for Bloomberg were directed toward one door. He slipped out a different exit.

Spitzer, who had pledged to help Bloomberg win passage, stayed out of sight.

Back in Manhattan, Silver said in late afternoon he would back creation of a commission to study all sorts of traffic-reducing plans - including, but not limited to, congestion pricing. That wasn't exactly what Bloomberg had in mind.

So basically things in Albany stayed the same with no change for NYC. Politics in Albany is a vicious thing. If you don't bow down to the powers that be, you'll land flat on your face like the Mayor did yesterday. Insiders saw it coming a mile away but Bloomberg thought he could roll right through. The Governor learned his lesson with the current set of legislators and stayed far away from the mess yesterday, although that didn't stop Bruno from lashing out at him.

So this my friends is how Albany works. If anyone has the slightest problem with the current feudalistic situation, please vote for someone new next year. End the fiefdoms!

Cunningham Mess Continues In Congress

Randy "Duke" Cunningham has behind bars for a while now, but the stench of his corruption is still lingering in the halls of Congress. The House Intelligence Committee blocked their findings last year, not surprising for Republicans. Yet the Democrats are continuing to put a hold on the information. Congressman Silvestre Reyes (D-TX) is the current chairman of the committee and made the outrageous remark that the information shouldn't be let out because it criticizes staffers. What a crock of shit. You work for the people, not for the egos of staffers or most likely your own precious image.

From The Los Angeles Times

The report provides the most detailed account to date of how former CIA Executive Director Kyle Dustin "Dusty" Foggo, whose indictment on charges of defrauding the government was recently expanded, allegedly used committee connections to advance his career at the agency.

And the report sheds new light on the roles of senior committee aides, including retired CIA case officer Brant Bassett, who had ties to Cunningham and Foggo as well as to contractors accused of paying the congressman millions of dollars.

Overall, the document provides a penetrating look into how the committee itself became central to the scandal, describing an atmosphere in which senior aides were deeply troubled by Cunningham's actions but nevertheless complied with his requests out of fear.

But the report and committee members' ongoing disagreement over whether it should be released also reflect the political currents still swirling around the scandal.

There are many corrupt political figures tied to this mess. Former CIA Director Porter Goss, Foggo and Wilkes are well known for those that pay attention to the story. The underlying story is that almost everyone in Congress and especially on this committee knew this activity went on. They were complicit in it and probably shut up because they had their own ethical problems when it came to earmarks and political payoffs.

The cesspool that is Congress still has a long road of cleanup ahead of it.

David Vitter The Victim

This is a pathetic attempt at damage control. Instead of apologizing to the public and especially his constituents, he lashes out at people who call him out on his hypocritical nature. Then he goes on to talk about all the good things he'll do back in Washington. He even had his wife front and center to play the victim card to its utmost. This man needs to resign.

Our Uninformed Youth

What do young people care about? Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, how many friends they have on facebook/myspace? I don't know for sure but one thing that is certain is the Net Gen and Generation Next (age 13-25) does not care much about the news as compared to past generations. The question must be asked, is our children learning?

From Anastasia Goodstein on The HuffPo:

Teens are significantly less attentive to daily news than young adults, who in turn pay substantially less attention than older adults. The survey found, in fact, that 28 percent of teens pay almost no attention to daily news and that an additional 32 percent are casually attentive to a single source only. Taken together, 60 percent of teens can be considered basically inattentive to daily news, as compared with 48 percent of young adults and only 23 percent of older adults.

There are lots of reasons for this trend including the decline of print readership in general, nightly news and cable news attempts to reach this audience by focusing on soft news instead of on how to make real news relevant to this audience, and the increasing amount of time this generation spends online. With at least three browsers open, blogs, news aggregators and Wikipedia, teens usually encounter news when they're searching for something specific or surfing and happen to stumble upon it. Because of this, teens and young adults know a lot about stories or topics they're interested in, but not about current events in general.

Most the news industry's attempts at reaching them don't appear to have been that successful -- newspapers have have been slowly shuttering their teen oriented print editions. Newspapers will have to find ways to push their content out to where teens are grazing -- to news portals, MySpace and Facebook. CNN has elevated Anderson Cooper to its most visible anchor position, but it seems no amount of chatty banter about photos of the ugliest dog is attracting a dedicated young audience -- the continuous loop of Viagra ads proves this. When MTV does tackle real issues in its docs or election coverage, it does a great job, but it only makes up a sliver of the network's core programming, which is shows like My Super Sweet 16 and Jackass.

So the problem is multi-faceted, as many complex problems in society are. First of all, there is so much content out there that is focused on selling products. Advertisers have gotten much slicker since the days of black and white TV. Many other shows are derivatives of older networking programming, but the difference is in the news and how much of it is shown.

News these days is terrible. Much of it is fluff to get ratings up. News used to be the unprofitable hour for networks, now it is another money-making half-hour. With the introduction and expansion of cable in the last twenty years, there is so much available with so little news, even the news channels fight for ratings share with incessant coverage of celebrities and missing white women. If there is an interest to look for information by young people, it will be hard to find on TV. The exception would be C-SPAN, but it is created for the dedicated few, not the masses.

So what to do? Programming needs to change, thats for sure. There has to be more content that can inform young minds instead of sterilizing them. But as I write that, I know its a pipe dream. Content providers will continue playing ratings wars on a downward societal spiral, fighting for the bits of brain matter that is left over after the angst of teenage life.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Another Surge For September?

September is approaching slowly but surely and things are staying just as bad or worse in Iraq since the President initiated the surge. He claims things haven't worked because the full compliment of troops just got there a few weeks ago. So what happens when we have even more dead soldiers and civilians by the September benchmark deadline? General Peter Pace hints that we might be in for part two of the surge.

From the AP:

BAGHDAD (AP) -- The U.S. military is weighing new directions in Iraq, including an even bigger troop buildup if President Bush thinks his "surge" strategy needs a further boost, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said Monday.

Marine Gen. Peter Pace revealed that he and the chiefs of the Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force are developing their own assessment of the situation in Iraq, to be presented to Bush in September. That will be separate from the highly anticipated report to Congress that month by Gen. David Petraeus, the top commander for Iraq.

The Joint Chiefs are considering a range of actions, including another troop buildup, Pace said without making any predictions. He called it prudent planning to enable the services to be ready for Bush's decision.

The only prudent planning the military and the President could undertake would be for a withdrawal of the troops. Preferably the sooner the better. It has been constantly made clear that we need to leave if we want to see any progress over there. The U.S. occupation has done nothing but help tear Iraq apart while the Sunni, Shias and Kurds slaughter each other.

I won't be surprised if Bush tries this tack in two months time. If Congress resists, he'll just try to roll over them just as he did back in May. As long as Democrats remain cowardly when push comes to shove, they can bluster all they want on TV and in the newspapers but it won't mean a damn thing. We need to get rid of this guy and we need to bring our soldiers home from the miserable mess in the Middle East.

Bill Moyers Roundtable Impeachment Discussion

Bill Moyers had John Nichols of the Nation Magazine and Bruce Fein from the American Freedom Agenda on his show to talk about the possibility of impeaching the President and the Vice-President and what it would mean for the country. The debate did not turn out to be a screaming match like it would on CNN, MSNBC or Fox but a reasoned discussion that had both sides agreeing on many points.

Bush Still Won't Talk About The Saudis

The President loves to bash Syria and especially Iran for their actions regarding Iraq. Iran has been in the Administration's crosshairs for sometime now. Yet he doesn't even mention Saudi Arabia, not one little bit, not one example of their influence in Iraq and deadly attacks on civilians and U.S. troops. There was a lone, anonymous voice who did speak up recently and shed some light on the facts.

From The Los Angeles Times:

About 45% of all foreign militants targeting U.S. troops and Iraqi civilians and security forces are from Saudi Arabia; 15% are from Syria and Lebanon; and 10% are from North Africa, according to official U.S. military figures made available to The Times by the senior officer. Nearly half of the 135 foreigners in U.S. detention facilities in Iraq are Saudis, he said.

Fighters from Saudi Arabia are thought to have carried out more suicide bombings than those of any other nationality, said the senior U.S. officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the subject's sensitivity. It is apparently the first time a U.S. official has given such a breakdown on the role played by Saudi nationals in Iraq's Sunni Arab insurgency.

He said 50% of all Saudi fighters in Iraq come here as suicide bombers. In the last six months, such bombings have killed or injured 4,000 Iraqis.

With such terrible statistics, you might have thought Bush would want to rush in their and destroy their country too. It should have happened almost six years ago since 15 of the 19 terrorists who attacked us on 9/11 were Saudis as well. The desert nation has had the most prolific amount terrorists spawned out of any country in the world. Yet, except for a military base or two that we occupy on the Arabian Peninsula, the Saudis remain untouched.

Of course the main reason that we don't do anything is because of their oil and the relationships that have been fostered between the Bush family and the Saudi royalty. Imagine what would happen to crude oil prices if we shock and awed them. Prices would skyrocket so high that we might actually have to take action on relieving ourselves of foreign oil dependence. How terrible!

The Story Behind The Death Of Congestion Pricing (For Now)

I am still learning about the dysfunction of New York politics. I know it's bad, but learning the intricacies can take a while. Thankfully I have Jacob Gershman from the Sun to straighten me out (for the most part) on how the whole congestion pricing deal went down and failed because the proponents did not play the game that reformers want to get rid of. Basically Spitzer came in to clear things up in Albany and now he is trying to find his way through the jungle with a pair of snippers instead of his old machete. Bloomberg apparently still needs to learn this lesson.

From The New York Sun:

"Don't push Shelly too hard," Mr. Spitzer cautioned Mr. Bloomberg on how to handle the speaker of the Assembly, Sheldon Silver. The mayor was exasperated: "It's always the same thing. What does Shelly want? How the f--- should I know?" he said, according to an observer.

Mr. Bloomberg and his team of lobbyists proceeded with a do-it-or-else strategy. He presented lawmakers with a message of urgency: If they didn't approve congestion pricing by July 16, New York would forfeit $500 million. He didn't offer a back-up plan for relieving congestion that would enable New York to pocket the federal money even if congestion pricing wasn't approved.

The problem for Mr. Bloomberg was that Mr. Silver didn't buy the story. He sensed the deadline was an arbitrary date chosen by the mayor and Ms. Peters and that the $500 million figure was an inflated estimate. The mayor had put the figure at $400 million last month, and officials in the Spitzer administration are now privately saying available federal funds may be closer to $300 million. Mr. Silver figures it is not in the interest of Ms. Peters to exclude the nation's largest city from her anti-congestion initiative. The transportation department needs to unload the $1.2 billion before Congress returns from its summer recess in September and re-appropriates everything that wasn't given away. The most likely scenario is that Mr. Silver will find a way to secure the money without the Legislature committing itself to congestion pricing. If New York misses out on the grants, he'll just blame the mayor for not coming up with a Plan B.

I personally find this insane, but it is business-as-usual up in Albany. It was wrong for Bloomberg to inflate the importance of the deadline especially since Silver knew he was bluffing. The state government currently is set up based on feudalism with many different fiefdoms. If you don't appease the key players you will end up getting burned and that is exactly what happened. Today will pass with no deal and no money for congestion pricing, dealing Bloomberg a huge political loss of capital.

Meanwhile Silver has the possibility of looking good in the end if he helps appropriate the money for the plan down the road. He'll be the hero and Bloomberg will look weak. It wasn't how the Mayor saw this going down, but he didn't play the game. He probably hates the current system and that his large contributions to the state Republican party backfired. But he doesn't despise it as much as I do. This is why we need to elect representatives that will make the best decisions for New Yorkers and not their personal fiefs.

Webb and Graham Get Testy On Press The Meat

Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) schools Sen. Graham (R-SC) about the situation in Iraq and how the troops are dealing with endless war.

Michael Moore Versus The MSM?

Blog You Like A Hurricane made a great appeal to Michael Moore for his next possible film. It is about the traditional media, the "MSM." The idea came after seeing Moore eviscerate Wolf Blitzer on CNN not only for their critique of SiCKO but their coverage of the war. It touched a lot of us and created a buzz around the blogosphere and boosted CNN's controversy meter so they got some extra ratings as a result. I think Moore should definitely do a movie about the media, it is long overdue by someone of Moore's stature. BYLAH makes some good points in the post on why it should happen.

From Blog You Like A Hurricane's letter to Moore:

You (and many others) have called out the media's blind flag-waiving during the lead up to the Iraq war. You have plainly stated that the media is responsible for (most of) the American public support for the invasion, and gone so far as to say that the blame for deaths of our soldiers can be placed on the American media.

As is often the case with such bold claims, important questions are being raised. Do we need media ownership regulation reform? Is ownership regulation itself the problem? Should the media be held accountable for their actions/reporting? Can they be? By whom?

Fortunately, today we have the internet. I no longer have to sit in front of the television and take what I am told as fact. Regular people like myself can share opinions, research facts and (perhaps most importantly) organize. Websites like Digg, Reddit and even your own allow popular opinion to be shared with a (relatively) large audience. Unfortunately, the internet affords such organization and dissemination a fairly limited reach in the grand scheme of things. And that is why I am writing you.

Make a movie about the media. Extend our reach on the issue. Bring it to light. Name names and cite sources. Make a scene. Start the discussion.

These are all important questions that need to be talked about outside of the blogosphere. Moore has helped people wake up and take a look at GM, gun violence in our society, the run up to 9/11 and now the U.S. health care crisis. The media plays a huge role in all of these subjects and many more. They have become more a tool of the government and corporate America than the fourth estate that our founders envisioned. It is time for a change in how the media operates. Moore can definitely start that discussion.

Al-Maliki Aide: Nevermind

The Bush Administration must have been pretty pissed off to hear Nouri al-Maliki's comments on Saturday saying that U.S. troops could leave anytime they want to. That doesn't mesh with George's surge of death in Baghdad for our soldiers. He thinks he can win this way and no one is going to convince him otherwise, even the Prime Minister of Iraq. Check out the difference in tone between Saturday and today.

From The Huffington Post:

"We say in full confidence that we are able, God willing, to take the responsibility completely in running the security file if the international forces withdraw at any time they want," al-Maliki said.

Those comments appeared to undercut President Bush's contention that the 155,000 U.S. troops must remain in Iraq because the Iraqis are not capable of providing for their own security.

On Sunday, al-Maliki's adviser Yassin Majid told The Associated Press that the prime minister meant that efforts to bolster Iraq's security forces would continue "side-by-side with the withdrawal."

Majid urged the United States to continue building up Iraqi forces so they would be ready whenever the White House orders a troop withdrawal.

Although the comments are meant to connect each other, they mean entirely different things when it comes to geopolitics. Bush certainly has considerable influence in making "corrections" from the mouth of al-Maliki. Though the Prime Minister certainly didn't like doing it, hence his aide making the revision instead of himself.

The President needs at least a couple of stooges to make his delusions of winning in Iraq continue and al-Maliki is one of those unwilling Larry, Moe or Curlys.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Rachel Maddow Examines Presidential Hopeful's Stupidity On Iraq

Ten Years Of Blogging

I am a relative newcomer when it comes to blogs. I started checking them out during the last Presidential election in 2004 and became more of an active participant the following year. This little piece of internet tubing I have been writing in has only been in existence since this past December. To see that the blog has now been around ten years is impressive. The Wall Street Journal took a look at the blogs on this tenth anniversary. Below is a snip from an interview with FireDogLake's Jame Hamsher.

From The Wall Street Journal:

During the '90s, railing at the TV set was the isometric sport of the silent majority. Progressive political junkies watched in isolation as the Washington Post prominently printed one Whitewater story after another as if they originated on tablets of stone rather than the fax machines of Arkansas political operatives. Many people felt like they were the only ones who scratched their heads in wonder that it all made no sense, recoiling in horror as a slick PR operation rapidly escalated from the realm of lazy, spoon-fed journalism to the constitutional mockery of the Clinton impeachment.

That isolation ended with the advent of the progressive blogosphere, which acts as a virtual water cooler for those who not only want to rail at the TV set, they want the TV set to listen. Probably nothing better contrasts the pre- and postblogospheric worlds than the Whitewater and CIA leak stories. In one, the endless repetition of meaningless gibberish was allowed to take root and become conventional wisdom. In the other, despite the constant reiteration of abject fantasies like "no underlying crime was committed," the public seemed to realize that it's not okay to perjure yourself in front of a grand jury and obstruct justice on behalf of your boss. Special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald was allowed to try his case in court before GOP spinmeisters could try it in the press, and a recent Gallup poll shows that 66% of the country thinks Bush should've left Scooter alone to do his time.

In only a few short years, the blogosphere has influenced society in so many different realms. Whether it is about cooking, sports, art or politics here, blogs become more relevant and make a bigger impact almost every day. People are getting around old, conventional media and creating their own. It is a democratic medium that anyone can use to say whatever it is they want others to hear. The blogosphere in my opinion is a dream come true for those that want to fight back against a lazy press that covers an omnipresent government. It's also good to get a good recipe while duking it out via keyboard.

Where Are The Dems On Habeas Corpus

It seems quite a few Democrats in the Senate have not added Habeas Corpus to their MySpace friends list yet. Twenty-eight Democrats plus Bernie Sanders have co-sponsored Arlen Specter's bill so far but there are still twenty-two that haven't formally pledged their support. Republicans aren't going to support the lone Republican who created the bill, so where are you guys and gals?

Bob Geiger asks the question:

With the addition over the last couple of weeks of Senators Byrd, Carper, Klobuchar, McCaskill, Menendez and Nelson (Bill), there are 28 Democratic Senators, along with Sanders, cosponsoring Specter's S. 185, which could very well come up for a vote next week as an amendment to the Defense Department authorization bill.

Here's the cosponsor list:
  • Joe Biden (D-DE)
  • Jeff Bingaman (D-NM)
  • Barbara Boxer (D-CA)
  • Sherrod Brown (D-OH)
  • Robert Byrd (D-WV)
  • Maria Cantwell (D-WA)
  • Ben Cardin (D-MD)
  • Thomas Carper (D-DE)
  • Hillary Clinton (D-NY)
  • Chris Dodd (D-CT)
  • Dick Durbin (D-IL)
  • Russ Feingold (D-WI)
  • Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)
  • Tom Harkin (D-IA)
  • Ted Kennedy (D-MA)
  • John Kerry (D-MA)
  • Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)
  • Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ)
  • Patrick Leahy (D-VT)
  • Carl Levin (D-MI)
  • Claire McCaskill (D-MO)
  • Robert Menendez (D-NJ)
  • Bill Nelson (D-FL)
  • Barack Obama (D-IL)
  • Jay Rockefeller (D-WV)
  • Ken Salazar (D-CO)
  • Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
  • Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)
  • Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)
So I again raise the question: Where are the other Democrats?

We expect almost none of Specter's Republican colleagues to support his leadership on something so basic to our country's creed. The GOP long ago divorced itself of any commitment to our Constitution, so our standards for them have been lowered accordingly. But we expect more of Democrats and should ask why the others are not stepping up and cosponsoring this legislation along with 29 of their colleagues (including Sanders) in the Democratic caucus.

Thanks Bob for raising this issue. It would seem to be a no-brainer to restore fundamental rights to Americans. Habeas corpus is something we should all count on if god-forbid we are arrested and detained for no apparent reason. The detainees from abroad that reside against their will in Guantanamo haven't had access to those rights and the Republican Congress of last year blocked American citizens from that protection as well. We need that right restored, and we need it now.

$12 Billion A Month Is Too Much

CNN takes a look at what we are spending on all of our wars, with $10 million going into Iraq:

A "Black Sunday" For Independent Media

Today is the dawn of a devastating era for internet radio and alternative weeklies. Starting a few hours ago at midnight, small independent radio stations online are going to have to pay royalty fees to the recording industry and alternative weeklies (regardless of political stripe) must pay large increases in their bulk mail rate to the USPS. The revenue that these non-corporate voices is minuscule to the likes of Clear Channel, Hearst and Time Warner and it is these types of companies that wrote these new laws.

From Scholars and Rogues:

This is not a case of ideas triumphing in the free market–this is a deliberate end-run around competition, buying off the government to ensure we only read and listen to approved media materials. And in both cases, grassroots action and media attention have slowed down the process, leading to the introduction of legislation to reverse these decisions. But the public outcry needs to continue to get these decisions reversed. Even the threat of legislation is often enough to get bad actors in the marketplace to change their ways…if you don’t believe me, ask the folks at Save The Internet!

To find out what you can do to help overturn the Internet radio royalty hikes, visit

To join the campaign to get the postal fees reversed, check out Free Press’ Stamp Out Rate Hikes.

S&R notes that these voices won't be shut down immediately because both sides are still talking due to increasing pressure from the public. So do your part and add your voice to fight the onslaught of corporate America's invasion into free thought and expression on the net and in print.