Saturday, July 28, 2007

Another Failed GOP Frontrunner

John McCain is all but done, Guiliani's numbers are tanking and Mitt Romney is anemic in the Republican primary. The big conservative hope lately has been for former Senator and actor Fred Thompson to jump in. Fred talks a lot of game, but the reality doesn't quite match up to the hype. He isn't expected to announce his candidacy until September now (remember the big July 4th announcement that never came?). So whats the problem? Apparently there isn't much going on besides talk.

From The New York Times:

A week of personnel turnover that extended from his campaign-manager-in-waiting down to volunteers raised questions about whether the Thompson camp is prepared to jump fully into the race for the Republican presidential nomination, a race in which his rivals have had months to establish their campaign organizations, raise money and hone strategy.

It also ignited speculation in Republican circles about who is really in charge, and in particular about the extent of the role being played by Mr. Thompson’s wife, Jeri Kehn Thompson, a former political operative.

On Tuesday, Tom Collamore, a top adviser to Mr. Thompson, stepped aside. At the same time, Mr. Thompson’s political operation announced that it was bringing in Randy Enwright, a veteran Republican strategist with ties to the Bush family, and former Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham, to take over the prospective campaign. The next day, the organization’s research director quit, and other staff members walked out.

This isn't the type of news you expect to hear from a frontrunner's campaign, or a frontrunner-in-waiting, or whatever the hell he is. It sounds more like the disorganization of the sinking U.S.S. McCain. Unless Fred gets his act together, he will be nothing but a conservative 'hope,' and nothing more.

The End Of The GOP Is In Our Future

The Republican party took a huge hit in last year's election, losing their majority status in both Houses of Congress. What's scarier for them is that last year's results may just be the beginning of what is to come in future elections. Democracy Corps latest poll has found some exciting results.

From Democracy Corps (pdf file warning):

A major, multi-mode survey of America’s young people recently conducted by Democracy Corps shows young people profoundly alienated from the Republican Party and poised to deliver a significant majority to the Democratic nominee for President in 2008.1

The political stakes with this generation could not be higher. In 2008, young people (ages 18-31) will number 50 million, bigger than the baby boom generation. By 2015 they will likely comprise one-third of the U.S. electorate. While participation among young people still lags well behind other generations, turnout increased two election cycles in a row and, in 2004, jumped nine points (to 49 percent).2 In 2004, younger voters were the only generational cohort outside of the World War II generation to support John Kerry (56 percent). In 2006, younger voters supported Democrats by a 60 – 38 percent margin, the highest of any generation.3

The looming disaster Republicans face among younger voters represents a setback that could haunt them for many generations to come. Both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama lead Rudy Giuliani—the most acceptable of the Republican offerings among youth—by significant margins, assembling a diverse coalition of support and leading the vote among independents.4 Exploring attitudes toward the parties themselves, young voters’ reaction to fundamental issues and their perceptions of the GOP suggest a fundamental alienation from the Republican Party, a crisis that will not leave with the Bush administration.

Younger voters have sided with Democrats in the past, but the data that is out there shows that their electoral decisions and party preferences now will hang on for quite some time. The Republicans have shown the nation how much they care about the nation's future by increasing our national debt and slashing programs that help young people succeed, such as low-interest college loans and ignoring the soaring costs of tuition throughout the country. Now as young people begin to vote, they are giving Republicans what they deserve, to be kicked out of office.

Rachel Maddow: GOP Loves The Womb, Hates The Children

U.S. Foreign Policy: Everybody Should Kill Each Other

One of the biggest exports in the United States is death. It comes in the form of guns, bombs and all things military. The Bush Administration is a full-fledged supporter of this, and has recommended more than $20 billion in arms sales to Saudi Arabia and its neighbors to Congress. This is the same country that spawned 16 of the 19 September 11th villains that crashed planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Why on Earth would we want to go through with this?

From The New York Times:

The proposed package of advanced weaponry for Saudi Arabia, which includes advanced satellite-guided bombs, upgrades to its fighters and new naval vessels, has made Israel and some of its supporters in Congress nervous. Senior officials who described the package on Friday said they believed that the administration had resolved those concerns, in part by promising Israel $30.4 billion in military aid over the next decade, a significant increase over what Israel has received in the past 10 years.

But administration officials remained concerned that the size of the package and the advanced weaponry it contains, as well as broader concerns about Saudi Arabia’s role in Iraq, could prompt Saudi critics in Congress to oppose the package when Congress is formally notified about the deal this fall.

In talks about the package, the administration has not sought specific assurances from Saudi Arabia that it would be more supportive of the American effort in Iraq as a condition of receiving the arms package, the officials said.

The brilliant thinking in the White House is that by selling all these arms, the growing strength of Iran can be mitigated. Of course that doesn't make any sense. All it does is give weapons to countries that want to see harm come to us. They are flush with cash from oil sales and this is how we get the money back? Its completely insane and can only bring more chaos to the region and to our troops that are stationed there.

Countering the pro-Israel critics with weapons for the little democracy on the Mediterranean is also crazy. The only thing that will happen is that there will be more for each side to kill each other with. Why would we want to sponsor death? It's simple, the Bush Administration does not care about the consequences, but they do care about the profits of defense contractors arms dealers

On Air Force One, Specter Talks Tough, But Its Just An Act

If you are so honored to fly aboard Air Force One (sic) there are certain rules you need to follow. Basically you need to shut up and not say nice things about the President or those that work for him. It actually sounds kinda fair to me, its his house and even though it is Air Force One, you are in tight quarters, so why let it be messy (even if Bush is a serial breaker of laws in general)? Senator Arlen Specter obviously didn't feel that way and broke both rules.

From The New York Times:

Mr. Specter, Republican of Pennsylvania, wandered back into the press cabin as the plane sat on the tarmac at Andrews Air Force Base before the president arrived from the White House.

According to a pool report of the encounter, Mr. Specter expressed anew his criticism of Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales but said he saw no signs that Mr. Gonzales would be forced to resign. Mr. Specter attributed Mr. Gonzales’s job security to Mr. Bush’s “personal loyalty” to him.

Mr. Specter spoke derisively of Mr. Gonzales’s appearance Tuesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee, where he faced accusations that he misled Congress last year when he said there had been no disagreement within the administration over the National Security Administration’s domestic surveillance program.

“Our hearing two days ago was devastating,” Mr. Specter said. “But so was the hearing before that, and so was the hearing before that.”

If the hearings were so devastating as you say Arlen, why not do something about it? Those hearings showed the Attorney General has no respect for the rules he was sworn to uphold. He lies without a care to Congress and expects to get away with it all.

Despite your tough talk Senator, you are an enabler. By not pressing for his impeachment, you sir are helping to further the sinister cause of Alberto Gonzales and the White House that he is so loyal to please. Every time you participate in a hearing without taking the appropriate action, you make a mockery of the Congress, the Constitution and this nation. And that goes for every single Senator that acts this way.

Hardball: Gonzales A Criminal?

Killing Them Softly

You would think the civil war with U.S. troops mixed in the middle was enough killing for the war-torn country of Iraq. American soldiers have died by the thousands and Iraqi civilians are perishing by the tens of thousands. But there is another killer that is indirectly related to the conflict, cancer.

From Common Dreams:

CAIRO — Iraq’s environment minister blamed Monday the use of depleted uranium weapons by U.S. forces during the 2003 Operation Shock and Awe for the current surge in cancer cases across the country.

As a result of “at least 350 sites in Iraq being contaminated during bombing” with depleted uranium (DU) weapons, Nermin Othman said, the nation is facing about 140,000 cases of cancer, with 7,000 to 8,000 new ones registered each year.

Speaking at a ministerial meeting of the Arab League, she also complained that many chemical plants and oil facilities had been destroyed during the two military campaigns since the 1990s, but the ecological consequences remain unclear.

In a nation of less than 25 million and dropping (due to death and refugees escaping the country) that is a lot of new cases. Not much is reported on what is done with depleted uranium shells, it is a problem that needs to be rectified. Of course, this is Iraq we are talking about, and there are a lot of problems that need remedies. Who knows when this one will be addressed, if ever.

Friday, July 27, 2007

How Much Do You Pay For That Tap Water?

The more you look at it, the more it makes sense to cut back on bottled water. The bottled water business does billions every year on water that isn't always shipped in from France or Fiji, a lot of it is just ordinary "purified" tap water. One company is finally confessing to where their pristine sources are, the same place where it comes from when you turn on your faucet.

From Yahoo News:

NEW YORK (Reuters) - PepsiCo Inc. will spell out that its Aquafina bottled water is made with tap water, a concession to the growing environmental and political opposition to the bottled water industry.

According to Corporate Accountability International, a U.S. watchdog group, the world's No. 2 beverage company will include the words "Public Water Source" on Aquafina labels.

"If this helps clarify the fact that the water originates from public sources, then it's a reasonable thing to do," said Michelle Naughton, a Pepsi-Cola North America spokeswoman.

It does help clarify things Ms. Naughton. After tons of pressure from industry watch groups Aquafina is finally admitting to the truth of their water. It comes from reservoirs just like the stuff that goes through the pipes. When I fill my bottles at the sink, it doesn't cost me a dime (well its included in the rent, but you know what I mean).

Imagine if we just filled a thermos with the H2O goodness instead of throwing away millions of plastic bottles into our landfills every year. Every little bit helps when it comes to the environment and this is more than a "little bit."

No, Thank You Howard

DNC Chairman Howard Dean thanks the youtube community for their participation in this week's debate. I want to thank him for helping make the internet so influential in politics. His campaign helped touch it off and so many others contributed as well, but as a former Deaniac, I've gotta give the love back to Howard.

All But Two GOP Candidates Shrug Off YouTube Debate

CNN wanted to bring YouTubers to the Republican candidates just as they did for the Democrats. The problem is no one is showing up. Only John McCain and Ron Paul have agreed to the debate format and that isn't saying much. None of the front runners want to face a public audience such as the YouTube community, I wonder why?

From The Washington Post:

Four days after the Democratic debate in Charleston, S.C,. more than 400 questions directed to the GOP presidential field have been uploaded on YouTube -- targeted at Republicans scheduled to get their turn at videopopulism on Sept. 17.

But so far, only Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) and Rep. Ron Paul (Tex.) have agreed to participate in the debate, co-hosted by Republican Party of Florida in St. Petersburg.

"Aside from those two candidates, we haven't heard from anyone else," said Sam Feist of CNN, who's co-sponsoring the debate with the popular videosharing site.

Rudolph Giuliani and Mitt Romney, both with dozens of videos on their YouTube channels, have not signed up. Neither have the rest of the Republican candidates, including Rep. Tom Tancredo (Colo.), whose "Tancredo Takes" on his YouTube channel draw hundreds of views. Sources familiar with the Guiliani campaign said he's unlikely to participate. Kevin Madden, Romney's spokesman, said the former Massachusetts governor has seven debate invitations covering a span of 11 days in September.

Mostly the candidates claim that they already have busy schedules at that time, but Mitt Romney actually belittled the debate. He basically said he was above the questions that were aired during the Democratic debate, such as the snowman asking about global warming. Personally, it could be an Eskimo, polar bear or a puppet asking about the climatic fate of our planet, as long as the question is asked. It seems that all of them are frankly afraid of facing real questions from real people.

White House Subpoenas Michael Moore

Apparent the White House has nothing better to do with its time than harass Michael Moore. The President had him subpoenaed yesterday in order to testify about his trip to Cuba. Since Mr. Moore documented his excursion to Cuba, enabling 9/11 victims to receive ridiculously inexpensive treatment for the ailments that our own government refuses, there is no reason for this. If the White House wants to know what went on, they should see SiCKO.

From RawStory:

Moore told the audience that he was notified of the subpoena backstage.

"I haven't even told my own family yet," Moore remarked. "I was just informed when I was back there with Jay that the Bush administration has now issued a subpoena for me."

Moore declared that the subpoena was unwarranted, saying, "this was a work of journalism."

"I was there to help them and now I’m going to face this further harassment from the Bush people," Moore said, according to a transcript. “Aren’t they busy with something else?"

Obviously the White House refuses to be busy with anything that might actually be good for the country. Instead they take up all their time with hiding secrets from Congress and pulling this type of crap. Leave Michael Moore alone and testify in front of Congress about wiretapping, the Attorney-Gate mess and all the other crimes committed at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

Colbert Takes On YearlyKos/JetBlue Controversy

Taking a cue from his "poppa-bear," Colbert examines the craziness around JetBlue's sponsorship of the YearlyKos convention next weekend in Chicago.

The Rick Santorum Logic Lives On

Former Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania will probably never live down the day he compared bestiality to consensual sex between two people of the same gender. The incident has been mocked over and over again. It may not have been the statement that finished off his Senatorial career, but it certainly didn't help him. Now it seems he has a like-minded friend in Kathryn Jean Lopez of The National Review. Here we go again!

From Oliver Willis:

National Review's Kathryn Jean Lopez has a Rick Santorum moment and says the reason a bestiality case happened in Massachusetts is because of gay marriage. Conservatism and bigotry, their status as synonyms just hasn't been officially recognized yet. By the way, Lopez is Mitt Romney's biggest supporter at National Review, any surprise?

Well I hope the Romney connection doesn't have anything to do with her love for dogs. That would just be, um, disgusting. Still, her comments are disgraceful and tasteless. Lopez clearly lacks humanity for people she refuses to understand, probably due to her intolerance and ignorance of people outside her immediate D.C. bubble.

MTA Chief Brushed Off Over Fare Increase

Elliot Sander's PR people must be scrambling this morning after the MTA chief failed to convince anyone at Grand Central that the fares must be raised to combat rising costs. First of all, a man in a suit standing at Grand Central during rush hour is hardly going to get much notice. He should be careful not to get knocked over by commuters scurrying about to get to their next train. But when someone notices who he is and what he is doing there like Jean Callaham did, thats when Mr. Sander really should run for cover.

From The NYT City Room:

.....Mr. Sander told her that the authority was facing rising costs, and he invited her to send him her opinions in an e-mail message through the M.T.A.’s
Web site.

The woman, Jean Callaham, said she lives in Staten Island and that it takes her two hours to get to work. She told Mr. Sander that the $20 she pays each week in subway fares and the $9 toll on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge that her relatives have to pay when they visit her were both high enough as it is.

Speaking to a reporter after her brief exchange with Mr. Sander, Ms. Callaham, who works at a financial services company near Grand Central, said she did not plan on taking Mr. Sander up on his offer. “He just wanted to get out of there, that’s all,” she said.

The fares are too high, especially for people that have long commutes such as Ms. Callaham. Plenty more riders have trouble with trains that are delayed and especially with certain lines that are notorious for their inconsistencies. Trying to make people shoulder this additional financial burden when they are making their way around this expensive city is wrong. Expecting to convince them with a PR stunt is just pathetic.

The Arrogance of Tony Snow

Les' questions and Tony Snow's lecture I posted about before is nothing compared to this video clipping. His arrogance is incredible and overpowering and reeks of the contempt of the White House for the rule of law in our nation.

F.B.I. Chief Blasts Gonzo's Testimony

Alberto Gonzales is a dastardly liar, there is no doubt about that. His testimony before Congress over the last few months has been nothing but a metaphorical lugee (sp?) on the face of this nation and our Constitution. He doesn't care that he lies to Congress and the American people. But there are plenty of people willing to call him on his bullshit, like the current F.B.I. director Robert Mueller.

From The New York Times:

Mr. Mueller told the House Judiciary Committee that the Bush administration’s secret eavesdropping program was the main topic at an encounter in the hospital room of then-Attorney General John Ashcroft on March 10, 2004, contrary to what Mr. Gonzales told a Senate panel on Tuesday.

At the time, Mr. Gonzales was the White House counsel, and Mr. Ashcroft was recovering from gall bladder surgery. That March night, Mr. Gonzales went to the hospital room with Andrew H. Card Jr., then White House chief of staff.

In his testimony before the Senate panel on Tuesday, Mr. Gonzales said the subject in the hospital room was “intelligence activities” under debate in the administration, but not the secret eavesdropping program.

But Mr. Mueller contradicted that version of events today, several hours after four Senate Democrats called for the appointment of a special counsel to investigate whether Mr. Gonzales perjured himself before Congress.

If homicide detectives find bloody fingerprints at a murder scene and the suspect in question is denying it, chances are he is lying. Mr. Gonzales' prints are all over this scene, and if Congress' investigation needs more information than this, then something is wrong. The glove fits, so this criminal doesn't deserve an acquittal, he needs to get the full force of the law. It is time for his impeachment and conviction.

Tony Snow The Journalism Teacher

Despite the fact that Tony Snow's job is to be a White House shill, his shillery can be quite amusing at times, especially when he tells journalists how to be...journalists. Demanding a reporter change their "twisted words" is comical in a scary kind of way. Putting aside the notion that a representative of the President is lecturing a member of the Press Corp on how to do their job (you know, freedom of the press issue?), lets look at this in a light-hearted way.

From RawStory:

Towards the end of the briefing Snow called on Les Kinsolving--a long time correspondent and talk radio host, famous for his often bizarre questions and cantankerous attitude--who asked Snow whether the President thinks it would be a good idea for all Americans to prepare an emergency survival kit for a possible terrorist attack or natural disaster.

Snow quickly said he couldn't comment, and then proceeded to take time out to lecture Kinsolving on his job, "Let me just point out," Snow said, "that you need to ask questions that bear on the President's responsibilities."

Snow continued to press Kinsolving, "I saw the piece you wrote the other day, that has been thoroughly twisting[sic] out of context." At this point Kinsolving tried to get a word in, but Snow was having no of it, "You know what I don't care, because the fact is, if someone is going to take questions about things that don't fall under the president's purview, and I answer that question, and it gets twisted, it is a disservice to this White House and the craft of journalism."

Of course Tony never mentioned the piece he was referring to, it was just an act to try and belittle a reporter. Les wasn't fazed though, he went on to his next question, asking if Bush would call for a lame duck session of Congress to pass his immigration reform for the third try. Les sees through Tony, and so do I. The only disservice to the craft of journalism in that room was Mr. Snow.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Project Phin: Episode 4

Subway Fare Increase A Fair Deal?

MTA officials are contemplating an increase in fares for next year despite a billion dollar surplus. They claim that because of a massive debt service (around $32 billion) most of that extra money needs to go there. The New York Times wrote an article today on the story, showing opposition the increase by State Senator Dean G. Skelos (R-Long Island) but countered his arguments with a "measured response" by Straphangers Campaign Representative Gene Russianoff. The NYT made it seem like accepting a small fare increase now would be better than an even larger toll in 2009 (6.5% vs. 15%).

But hold on a second, there is more to this than the Times lets on. First of all, service is terrible on the subways. My friends in Brooklyn refer to the F train as the F*** train and I've got plenty of shit to say about the Lexington local by me. All the lines have their problems and it doesn't seem like much is being done about service yet they want to raise rates while having more cash than they have ever had???

Oh and another thing, the Times grossly misrepresented Russianoff and the Straphangers Campaign. What did they actually have to say about this mess? Not quite what the Times lets on. Here's a little snippet from their press release yesterday:

Who should contribute to solving the MTA's financial woes?

The MTA now receives billions in financial support from riders through fares, motorists through tolls and gas taxes, and corporations, consumers and property owners, all through dedicated transit taxes. That makes sense. All who benefit from the biggest transit system in the U.S. should support it.

Shouldn't riders pay the whole tab?

Riders are already paying more than their fare share. In 2005, MTA told federal transit officials that the fare burden on its riders was 58% - with subways at 68% and buses at 42%. The national average for big transit systems is 40%. MTA CEO Lee Sander told a state legislative committee this January: "In 2007, MTA expects to generate $5.4 billion, or 60%, of its total $9.2 billion in operating revenues primarily from fares and tolls. This is a phenomenally high fare box return."

How do we make sure riders aren't the only ones asked to help out?

Any proposal to raise fares should only be seriously considered if and when the state legislature approves Mayor Bloomberg's congestion pricing proposal and/or other transit aid to raise billions of dollars to fix transit and take pressure off the budget. As was the case in 2003, the decision on fares should not be made before the early spring - specifically no earlier than March 31st, 2008, the date the state legislature is due to decide the fate of congestion pricing.

Yes, we need to wait for the congestion-pricing situation to complete its course. Those revenues would greatly offset the need for any rate increase. Meanwhile we pay for a greater percentage of the MTA's costs than any other city in the country. Financing the debt should not be laid on the backs of subway riders, especially those that have the most trouble paying for it.

A Trans-Fat Lobbyist

Whenever there is a good cause to help people in their daily lives from the evils of consumerism, you can almost always find a lobbyist that is fighting for the particular industry that might lose revenue from pertinent legislation. New York City led the way last year by passing a ban on trans-fats. Lard companies in the tri-state areas must have been furious. Bakeries were dismayed. Cardiac surgeons were....well, lets not go there, but you get my point. So there has to be someone that tries to defend trans-fats, and guess what, there is.

From RawStory:

60 Minutes reported Sunday on "Dr. Evil," the nickname of lobbyist Rick Berman, who specializes in defending all the products others decry as unhealthy and destructive. Berman, who sees himself as a defender of personal freedom against the "nanny state," told CBS, "Businesses themselves don't find it convenient to take on causes that don't seem politically incorrect and I'm not afraid to do that."

60 Minutes showed an ad produced by Berman's, decrying the "food police" who tell you what you can or can't eat. Berman's favorite targets also include animal rights activists, trial lawyers, and union leaders. Berman does not reveal his clients, who are alleged to include numerous fast food restaurant chains and junk food manufacturers, but relies instead on a "clever system of non-profit educational entities," including the Center for Consumer Freedom and the Center for Union Facts.

"While those tactics have made him rich and powerful, it's difficult to find someone who provokes as much venom as Rick Berman," CBS reported. There are many sites online dedicated to countering Berman's claims and exposing the corporate interests behind him, such as and PRWatch.

It just goes to show that in corporate America, there is a job for anyone who wants to play in the cesspool of lies and deception.

Daily Show Examines CNN YouTube Debate

Ok I swear this is the last post about the YouTube debates, but who else than Jon Stewart and John Oliver can truly sum things up?

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The NY Sun Isn't Called A Rag For Nothing

New Yorkers read all sorts of things. There are several papers, more magazines and more local weeklies than you can imagine. A few of these are known as rags, they print a lot of garbage. The two notorious papers that do this are the Post and The Sun. The Post is owned by Rupert Murdoch, so enough said on that. The Sun also has a long line of abuses and today they lived up to their high standards. See: President Cheney.

From The New York Sun:

.....The Washington Post's polling expert, Richard Morin, noted that at 18% approval, Vice President Cheney was less popular than Michael Jackson after he was tried for child abuse and O.J. Simpson after he was tried for murder. Mr. Hayes quotes Mr. Morin as reporting that Mr. Cheney was "less popular with Americans than Joseph Stalin is with Russians." The Huffington Post printed a Thanksgiving Day prayer for Mr. Cheney's death, which, it said, would "rid the planet of its Number One Human Tumor."

Some of this may be blamed on a hostile press, and Mr. Hayes also reports on a dynamic within the Bush administration in which presidential aides sought to keep Mr. Cheney's profile low so that he didn't outshine the president. Some of it may have to do with Mr. Cheney's personality — "not a hugger," as the president put it.

The book quotes Senator McCain as saying, "Dick doesn't like campaigning." Nothing in the Hayes book suggests that Mr. Cheney is about to do it — except for that the vice president spent nearly 30 hours cooperating with the author and apparently gave the okay for many of his friends and colleagues to grant similar access. The Richard Cheney described in this book isn't vain enough to do that simply for his reputation in history. My own guess — okay, hope — is that Mr. Cheney has taken a look at the Republican presidential field and sees an opening. If Iowa and New Hampshire Republicans start receiving copies of " Cheney" in their mailboxes, Mr. Cheney's popularity may yet begin to climb.

The only climb Cheney's popularity could see would be if you flipped the world on its head and he climbed to zero. There is nothing likable about this man. He is a tyrant, a despot and a terrible human being. The New York Sun publishes some horrific stuff, but this is just plain insanity.

Ending Permanent Bases, Kudos To Congress

Of course the logical pessimist in me says that this bill will probably be vetoed by the President. Nevertheless it is good to see the Democrats in charge carry something out that the majority of people agree with, doing away with permanent bases in Iraq.

From The Gavel:

Today, the House passed H.R. 2929, Banning Permanent U.S. Bases in Iraq. This bill states that it is the policy of the United States not to establish any military installation or base for the purpose of providing a permanent stationing of United States Armed Forces in Iraq. It also states that it is the policy of the United States not to exercise U.S. control of the oil resources of Iraq. The measure bars the use of any funds provided by any law from being used to carry out any policy that contradicts these statements of policy.

While the Bush Administration has indicated it would not seek permanent bases in Iraq, Administration officials have recently remarked that the President envisioned a continued military presence in Iraq similar to our presence in Korea, where U.S. forces have been stationed for more than 50 years. Speaker Pelosi explained that “today’s vote can again make clear to the President, to the Administration, to the American people, to the people in the Middle East, to the people in Iraq — that the American people are opposed to a permanent military presence in Iraq.”

Those structures do nothing but keep us there longer and further expose this mission as an occupation that can last indefinitely. We are still lingering in Korea and throughout the globe for decades with our military stretched way too thinly. If the President was smart, he would sign this immediately. Oh wait, what am I saying? Nevermind.

Dissecting The YouTube Factor

PoliticsTV looks at the YouTube dynamic in political debates and how it is going to change the way we talk with the candidates instead of them talking at us.

Where Art Thou Coney Island?

Ah, Coney Island. A place of fun and amusement at the end of the tracks down in Brooklyn since the 1800s that has succumbed to urban blight in the last few decades. Now developers are out to tear it all down and start anew. While the "new" Coney Island would look clean and shiny, the history of the area would be wiped clean. There is another way of course, by combining old and new, keeping the nostalgia of famous peninsula alive. Instead there is a stalemate between the developers and the current owners.

From AM New York:

The Grasshorn building, built in the early 1880s, and the Henderson building, once the home of a popular Vaudeville theater, are expected to be razed as developer Thor Equities makes way for a glitzy $1.5 billion development that will include an amusement park, water theme park, hotels, time-share units and retail shops on 10 acres between West 10th and West 15th streets.

Dick Zigun, founder of the arts organization Coney Island USA, which runs Sideshows by the Seashore and the annual Mermaid Parade, said his group reached a preliminary agreement last year with Thor chief executive Joseph Sitt to purchase the Grasshorn building using $2 million in city-awarded grant money.

Zigun hoped to move the Coney Island Museum into the building that was best known as the home of Henry Grasshorn's hardware store, which provided amusement owners with the parts they needed to keep their rides running. But Sitt broke off talks with Coney Island USA last month, saying the building was no longer for sale and that he planned to build a new structure there, Zigun said.

"In a place where so little has survived, it would be a shame to lose that building," Coney Island historian Charles Denson said.

It would be a shame, it is a shame to see so much of New York being swallowed up by greedy developers that care more about their profit margins than the history of this great city.

You Think You Have Rights?

Welcome to 1930s Germany America in the 21st century. Our rights as Americans are being torn asunder by the people claiming to keep us safe. When our country was just forming, Patrick Henry famously said "Give me Liberty or Give Me Death," but Dick Cheney would rather put you in jail for trying to use those liberties.

From Cliff Schecter:

A man walked up to Dick Cheney, calmly told him he thought his Iraq policy was reprehensible, and walked away. A few minutes later he was arrested by the Secret Service, in front of his 8-year-old son, for "assault".

When he asked what would happen to his child, the Secret Service said, "He can be sent to Child Services." Luckily, the boy found his mother and was safe.

But the citizen who practiced his free speech spent a few hours in jail before he was released.

The only assault committed was by the Vice-President. It is an assault on our constitution and our way of life that is supposed to be one of the hallmarks of the United States. People have come here in droves in search of a better life and to escape from repressive governments.

My own family feared the Cossacks and the Nazis in Eastern Europe, some made it here and many did not. A few generations down the line, I am looking at a nation that is being dragged into the depths of authoritarianism and dictatorship. This must not stand!

Hillary V. Obama

Keith Olbermann highlights the battle between Hillary and Barack during Monday night's YouTube debate.

Rove Got Rejected

Karl Rove's ego must be inflated beyond belief. You can just seem him smirk when people call him Bush's Brain. The guy perfected his tools so that fear and manipulation catapulted him into the Republican inner circle and his boy into the Presidency for eight years. So when a girl rejects him, its gotta hurt. He got the power, he got the money, but Education Secretary Margaret Spellings didn't give him no.....

From The Huffington Post:

Poor Margaret Spellings!

The secretary of education was ready to talk student loans and No Child Left Behind when interviewed by Washington Post editors and reporters last week. So maybe she was taken aback when asked why she turned down Karl Rove when he asked her out in the early '80s.

(Rove later joked it took his ego "decades to recover.")

Spellings paused, then said: "Have you met Karl Rove?

"He was so inept and so inartful," she added. "I mean, I couldn't even understand."

Awww, poor bumbling Karl couldn't even get out the words "I like you, do you like me?" The young Republican guru was so good at being evil in politics, he couldn't turn it off to be sweet even for a little bit, or focus on how to deal with the opposite sex.

Even though she rejected him, it is interesting how incestuous the situation is. I mean, she's Education Secretary and he ran the political operations for George Bush. She's in the Cabinet and Rove practically is himself.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

America 2007: Arrested For Free Speech

Free speech is a cherished right in this country. It is supposedly one of the freedoms that George Bush has us fighting for in Iraq so that we aren't attacked here. Of course the President is full of shit and we all know this (at least 75% of us that is). Decrying the diminished freedoms in our country on a national level is important so that the ship is at least sending out an S.O.S. as we go down, but it is important to highlight the small cracks in the ship. One example can be found in Kensington, MD. where a man selling "Impeach Him" buttons was arrested in a public space.


(CBS News) KENSINGTON, Md. A 74-year-old retired mathematician who sells anti-Bush buttons at a Maryland farmers' market has become a symbol of free speech to some people. Others say Alan McConnell is a nuisance.

McConnell was at the market in Kensington as usual yesterday, selling buttons that say "Impeach Him" He has sold the $1 buttons for months; he told The Washington Post he uses the money earned to pay for "Impeach Them Both" yard signs.


McConnell showed up this weekend, when police arrested him and forcibly carried him to a squad car. A crowd of about 40 McConnell supporters booed the arrest, chanting "Free speech!"

Chanting for what we want is nice, but Mr. McConnell is now facing fines and a possible prison sentence of a few months. With all of the impeachment talk gaining ground around the nation, arresting a man for selling buttons about it is abhorrent, even if he was the only one advocating it.

NYC Irony

I took this on my cellphone camera late last week on Lexington between 36th and 37th Street. This little fix-it site has been there for a while now, long before last week's mishap. Hmmm, only four blocks away from the blast site. Makes you wonder doesn't it?

GOP In Manchester, NH Desperately Tries To Prove Manliness

After suffering two stinging defeats last year for representation in the House of Representatives and taking a thorough beating in their own state legislature, Republicans are trying hard to boost their sagging egos. What would one do when you are beaten down for your failed ideas and unconscionable support of the war in Iraq? Get out your M-16s and Uzi and find out!

From The Union Leader:

Tired of the usual chicken dinners, the Manchester Republican Committee is planning to arm supporters next month with Uzis, M-16 rifles and other automatic weapons for a day of target practice at a Pelham firing range.

"The thought just struck me one day: a machine gun shoot. What the heck?" said Jerry Thibodeau, the committee chairman.

Thibodeau, who is himself a hunter and skeet shooter, pitched the Aug. 5 event as a fun social gathering, as well as a demonstration of the party's support for Second Amendment rights.

The concept prompted shudders across the political aisle. Chris Pappas, the city Democratic party chairman, called the event "not just in poor taste; it is downright offensive."

"The citizens of Manchester have lived through a deadly spike in violent crime the past year-and-a-half, despite the campaign promises of (Mayor) Frank Guinta to lower crime rates," Pappas said. "That the mayor's political party would seek to glorify the use of machine guns for political gain is unconscionable."

There is no power in their ideas, those have already been shot to hell by common sense. No amount of ammunition or firepower is going to save these guys.

Gonzales Can't Keep His Story Straight

Even a liar at the caliber of Alberto Gonzales is eventually prone to screwing himself over. After a while, all the false stories weave together and inadvertently paint a picture of the truth that lies below the surface of Alberto's skin. The more lies he tells, the less anyone will believe him and his reputation will continue to slither down into the recesses of society. He had a chance to come clean today at the Senate Judiciary Committee, but you know Alberto doesn't have much in the way of a conscience.

From ThinkProgress:

SPECTER: Let me move quickly through a series of questions there’s a lot to cover. Starting with the issue Mr. Comey raises, you said “there has not been any disagreement about the program.” Mr. Comey’s testimony was that “Mrs. Gonzales began to discuss why they were there to seek approval” and he then says “I was very upset, I was angry, I thought I had just witnessed an effort to take advantage of a very sick man.”

GONZALES: The disagreement that occurred was about other intelligence activities and the reason for the visit to the hospital was about other intelligence activities. It was not about the terrorist surveillance program that the president announced to the american people.

SPECTER: Mr. Attorney General, do you expect us to believe that?

I don't believe anything that comes out of that bastard's mouth. Of course Specter talks tough to him and so do most Democrats, but the solution is impeaching him. If it doesn't work the first time, try again, and again and again until we rid our nation of one of the worst Attorney Generals that have served under the worst President of all time.

Project Phin: Episode 3

Jason Biggs joins the show to show there is a way for energy independence.

Cheney Was Afraid Of Leahy's Gay Cooties

The mystery of Cheney's "Go Phuck Yourself" episode with Senator Leahy has finally been solved. Dick voiced his concerns about what happened that day, saying that Leahy was moving too close to him in the Senate chamber. I almost feel like this is a story worthy of The Onion, but alas, we are talking about Dick Cheney. But the question must be asked, is he even telling the truth?

From ThinkProgress:

In the new biography of the Vice President by Stephen Hayes, Cheney claims that the reason he shouted the expletive was because Leahy had been too “close” to him:

Leahy came over and put his arm around me. And he didn’t kiss me but it was close to it. So I flashed and I told him — I dropped the F-bomb on him. … It was heartfelt.

Leahy was not “close” to kissing Cheney; all he did was try to shake his hand. One congressional source with knowledge of the event explained what happened to ThinkProgress:

There were several witnesses from both parties. Leahy walked over in a friendly way and said the Vice President should feel free to come over on the other side of the aisle too, that Democrats won’t bite, and he held out his hand. The Vice President started to stick out his hand in response and then drew it back, and that’s when he unloaded his expletive.

Hmmm. Who would you believe? A distrustful and sinister Vice-President or independent bystanders, thats a tough one. I'd believe a car salesman before I would ever trust Dick Cheney.

NYC Not Doing Enough In Wake Of Steam Pipe Explosion

Days after the spectacular explosion by Grand Central the city is doing plenty to clean up their mess. The ones that aren't being taken care of are the victims. Injured citizens are beginning to file lawsuits against Con Edison and businesses are dumbfounded by the $10,000 loans being offered to help offset the dramatic decrease in business throughout the area. Con Ed is looking at a massive lawsuit or at least multiple cases from shops and people affected by the blast.

From The Daily News:

Francine Dorf of Bay Ridge, who lost her older sister on 9/11, filed suit against Con Ed in Brooklyn Supreme Court, saying she was treated for smoke in her eyes and lungs after fleeing through asbestos-tainted debris.

Dorf, 52, said she feared she was caught in a terrorist bombing after the explosion near her E. 42nd St. office, triggering her posttraumatic stress disorder.

"All the stress, it brought back what happened six years ago," Dorf said.

Meanwhile, business owners pressed Con Ed for financial assistance.

"Con Ed should really help out," said Naser Abu, manager of Fresh Pizza on 43rd St. and Third Ave., which lost $6,500. "It's their fault and their responsibility."

Thats right, it is their responsibility. I almost feel like not paying my next few electric bills because I live near the blast...but I won't go there now. People's health and their livelihoods have been bent seriously out of shape because Con Ed and the city did not do enough to ensure the safety of its residents even while knowing these problems exist. There have been multiple explosions of this sort in the city's past and we should have been ready for it.

Bloomberg proved himself oblivious to the concerns of the people yet again, saying that the Small Business loans should be enough. He isn't letting Con Ed off the hook of course, but the blase attitude is distasteful to say the least. New Yorkers deserve more than this crap.

Scenes From A YouTube Debate

Here's the first ten minutes from last night's debate:

Spitzer Goes Overboard Against Bruno

I'm no fan of Joe Bruno, but according to Attorney General Cuomo Spitzer took his feud with the Senate leader a little too far by using state resources to go on the attack. Ordering the state police to go after Bruno and acquire potentially damaging information against him is currently the job of the FBI. Spitzer needs to focus on being the Governor, not an investigator or prosecutor.

From The New York Times:

Spitzer aides, chiefly his communications director, Darren Dopp, concocted a false story for why the information was being gathered, saying the governor’s office had acted after receiving a press request seeking details of Mr. Bruno’s use of state aircraft, the report said.

Mr. Dopp later made misleading statements about the involvement of the governor’s office in the effort, the report indicates. The report concludes that Mr. Bruno’s use of the helicopters — on trips that included both political and legislative events — was proper.

Minutes after the report was made public, Mr. Spitzer announced he was suspending Mr. Dopp indefinitely without pay. He said he was also transferring his liaison to the State Police, the deputy secretary of homeland security, William Howard, to a position outside the governor’s office.

This is a serious no-no. As the Times notes, Republicans are now looking to review agreements with the Governor such as the campaign finance deal last week and severely curtail whatever amicable working relation that existed before. Suspending Dopp is hardly a fix for this mess, Spitzer might be looking at some form of punishment from the Attorney General's office. The road to reform we put Spitzer on is going to need some serious resurfacing and soon.

Monday, July 23, 2007

YouTube Debate Brings Americans Closer To The Candidates

Tonight's debate between the Democratic aspirants was an interesting one that veers from the typical Q & A brought forth from a media figure moderator. The questions were from ordinary people who have real issues they want answered.

The candidates agreed that over forty million Americans without health insurance is a problem that needs to be fixed. They agree the war should end and a few took shots at each other. That's the usual stuff to be expected 15-16 months before the election. The addition of a public forum is what made it interesting, especially with this question.

From Crooks and Liars:

The mother of a soldier who is on his second tour in Iraq brought the heat to the Democratic candidates. She asks the candidates if the Democrats are putting “politics before conscience” in failing to fight harder to end the occupation of Iraq. She points out that more than 800 members of the military service have died waiting for them to get serious. This was a fantastic question and one of the best questions that could have been asked at this debate.

video_wmv Download (730) | Play (907) video_mov Download (315) | Play (594)

So many more will die in the months to come. This is the most pressing issue in our country today. Save for the President and the rest of the die-hards, we all know the war is a lost cause. The only things to be achieved from it is higher casualty figures and a nation deeper in debt where the money flows faster and faster to defense contractors like Halliburton. The people that are looking for that are seriously disturbed. The ones that believe that and are in a position to end it must be shown the door, either nicely or by force. Our country needs a real change in course as soon as we can possibly get it.

The Return Of Al-Qaeda

Jon Stewart dissects George Bush's war on Al-Qaeda in Iraq:

Condi Who?

Two years ago I was driving down the Pacific Coast Highway from San Francisco to my then home Los Angeles. The beautiful ride was marred by one thing however, a car with a "Condi 08'" sticker. It was repulsive to say the least and scary because at the time, it seemed like a possibility. Nowadays the mention of a Rice presidential run is a joke, preempted by the laughable term as Secretary of State. She is so ineffective in dealing with representatives around the world because of the "I love George and he can do no harm" delusion that surrounds her daily life. It even shows with the mainstream media.

From The San Francisco Gate:

A few months ago, she decided to write an opinion piece about Lebanon. She enlisted John Chambers, chief executive officer of Cisco Systems as a co-author, and they wrote about public/private partnerships and how they might be of use in rebuilding Lebanon after last summer's war. No one would publish it.

Think about that. Every one of the major newspapers approached refused to publish an essay by the secretary of state. Price Floyd, who was the State Department's director of media affairs until recently, recalls that it was sent to the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and perhaps other papers before the department finally tried a foreign publication, the Financial Times of London, which also turned it down.

As a last-ditch strategy, the State Department briefly considered translating the article into Arabic and trying a Lebanese paper. But finally they just gave up. "I kept hearing the same thing: 'There's no news in this.' " Floyd said. The piece, he said, was littered with glowing references to President Bush's wise leadership. "It read like a campaign document."

And that is the state of the Bush Administration. Everything is about campaigning. It is all they know. Condi wants to make Bush look good and that is why she hangs on to her job. Even with an abysmal 25% approval rating, George and his sycophants will continue to spew bullshit that shouldn't see the light of the day from the garbage heap where it formed.

It is only a matter of time until she disappears from the public eye, any dreams of a further life in politics has been dashed long ago. The only interest in her is from the corporate masters that she has served so well in the past and of course they will probably pay her well for it. It isn't like she needs the money, but she'll do whatever she can to encourage her failed ideologies so that America and the world can continue to suffer the thoughts of the neo-con community.

Kristol Rips YearlyKos, Rightwing Onslaught Continues

Driven by the farcical winds from the wingnut o'sphere and the airwaves emanating from Fox News, YearlyKos is being attacked by conseratives as the date of the convention approaches. The latest set of sticks and stones came from William Kristol yesterday guessed it...Fox News.

From ThinkProgress:

Today on Fox News Sunday, Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol attacked the Democratic presidential candidates for their decision to attend the YearlyKos blogger convention. He held it up as evidence that the presidential candidates have “gone left.”

“Every Democratic presidential nominee is going to the DailyKos convention,” said Kristol. “That’s the left-wing blogger who was not respectable three or four years ago. The Howard Dean kind of sponsor. Now the whole party is going to pay court to him and to left wing blogs.”

The YearlyKos convention is independent of the blog DailyKos. So the candidates are not going to simply “pay court” to the head of DailyKos, Markos Moulitsas Zuniga. Approximately 1,500 “people from all walks of life who belong to the Netroots community” are expected at the convention this year.

Moreover, as NPR’s Juan Williams points out, what Kristol describes “as left is now center.” “The majority of the American people, 70 percent, want us out of Iraq,” noted Williams. “In fact, if you asked Iraqis, 60 some percent of Iraqis say we’re doing more harm than good in Iraq.” In a survey conducted by Pew Internet and American Life after the 2006 mid-term election, “online political activists” were said to “mirror the general population of those who are civically active.” Like the progressive blogosphere, a solid majority of Americans believe President Bush should not have commuted the sentence of his former aide, Scooter Libby.

It must be lonely out there Billy Boy in that bubble you live in. As Graham Nash once sung, "Won't you please come to Chicago for a ride" We promise it won't hurt, much.

Project Phin Part Two

This episode simply tells people how we can start to make a change in how we fuel our rides. Go to the website and check it out.

Congressman &$%#"^! Shays

It has to be hard to be one of the last Republicans in Congress from the Northeast. He barely hung on last year and he's a top target to be taken out next year in this highly liberal part of the country. But is it an excuse to yell obscenities at every other person you come into contact with?

From My Left Nutmeg:

The guy is losing has lost it:

According to sources familiar with the event, the outburst began after Officer Randy Cooper informed a staff member that he could not bring a tour through a lower west front door that has restricted access.

One source said that after Cooper informed the staffer that the family could not enter through the door, the staffer called Shays and tried to have the officer speak with him. When the officer refused, Shays himself came down to the post and proceeded to “scream obscenities” at Cooper before touching his nametag to read it in the rain and storming away.

Update: Other recent acts that might have caused a neutral observer to question Shays' mental state have included attacking NASA scientist James Hansen in a committee hearing, literally screaming at the widows of Blackwater contractors who had died in Iraq in a committee hearing, and dismissing Abu Ghraib as a "sex ring" and not torture, among others.

Looks like Chris is sliding down the hill of mental stability at a steadily increasing rate. I hope he gets some rest after we kick him out of Congress next year, for his sake and those around him.

Regulating The Over-Regulation of NYC

New York has plenty of ridiculous laws and plenty more on the way from legislators and the city council. These lawmakers are hoping to prove they know how to write legislation without making a real difference for New Yorkers. Unless you think banning metal baseball bats and restricting people from dancing in bars without having cabaret licenses is a good thing, there is much we need to do and get rid of.

From AM New York:

New Yorkers learned about the unfunny side of such laws when Rudy Giuliani, while mayor in the 1990s, began enforcing a 1926 law requiring cabarets to obtain a special license if more than two people would be dancing.

The law was originally enacted as a response to "civilized" New York's horror at increasingly popular multiracial jazz clubs. Seventy years later, no one in a more tolerant city had bothered taking the law off the books, and bars and clubs sometimes faced serious fines.

Among proposed laws out there now are one that would prohibit pet owners from keeping their animals outside on a leash for more than three hours in any 12-hour period.

Others would put the kibosh on selling permanent markers to anyone under 21, establish stiff fines for defacing U.S. flags on private property that are on par with those reserved for hate crimes against religious institutions, and create a raft of well-intentioned -- but sometimes impractical -- new street names (Brother George Washington Way "Legendary Boxing Trainer" in Brooklyn is going to need either a really big sign or illegibly small lettering).

So many laws, so little room to maneuver around the pens of legislators we keep electing. What we need are laws that truly make a difference for the city. Clean elections would be a great start. With last week's steam pipe explosion, mandating a permanent fix for the antiquated infrastructure beneath our feet sounds like a no-brainer. There is so much our government could spend their time on, instead we have to worry about trans-fats, spitting in bars and putting on puppet shows in city windows (I kid you not).

Bill Maher On Bush

Taking a break from "Real Time," Maher goes on the road, attacking public enemy #1 along the way.

What Good Does Censure Do?

I commended Russ Feingold for bringing up Censure for George Bush last year, although it ultimately failed. It's a simple statement that shows the President is off course. Now Russ is bringing it up again, but why? We are far beyond censure as we were even back then. Senate leaders do not see much in it now as they did last year, but they won't look at impeachment either. Impeachment is what we need, not censure and certainly not inaction.

From The Huffington Post:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Feingold's proposals showed the nation's frustration. But Reid said he would not go along with them and said the Senate needs to focus on finishing spending bills on defense and homeland security.

"We have a lot of work to do," Reid said. "The president already has the mark of the American people _ he's the worst president we ever had. I don't think we need a censure resolution in the Senate to prove that."

As for the Senate's top Republican, "I think it's safe to say Russ Feingold is not a fan of George Bush. I think that's the best way to sum that up," said Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

That pretty much sums it up. The nation knows what time it is. Republicans are watching clock tick down until Bush is gone, trying as hard as they can to keep this war and the assault on the Constitution going as much as possible. The only way to stop it is to get rid of Dick and Bush with a trial in the Senate, but Democratic leaders would rather pass bills that are ultimately slapped down and ignored by a tyrannical despot that occupies the White House. At least we know where our priorities are.

Mitt Loves The Crazies

Do you ever drive or walk by a Republican sign waving event feeling repulsed by some of the shit they put on those posterboards? The worst is the three by six foot pictures of aborted fetuses, but the other stuff is pretty bad too. Comparing Obama to Osama just because of the name is a pathetic moniker and a favorite of the Republican sign waving crowd. A few days ago Presidential candidate Mitt Romney took part in the festivities.

From TMZ:

Not everyone is a fan of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, but comparing them to one of the most dastardly pieces of human excrement of all time -- that might be bit much. Especially for a presidential candidate.
TMZ obtained photos of presidential candidate Mitt Romney trying to win over grammatically challenged South Carolinians Thursday by holding a sign that said, "No to Obama, Osama and Chelsea's Moma."

The woman took her time on the sign, you can almost see the faded pencil marks. Thinking about the disgusting comparison probably took far less time. Watching Fox News for a couple minutes must have done the trick.