Saturday, August 04, 2007

Clinton Loves Her Some Lobbyists

The Presidential forum here is was a few hours ago, but there are still some reverberations coming out of it. Gravel, Richardson, Dodd, Edwards, Clinton, Obama and Kucinich were there, so it had plenty of sparks. Though Clinton shocked us more than even Gravel could imagine doing.

From The Huffington Post:

Senator Clinton silenced a room of approximately one thousand progressive bloggers and activists Friday (actually it was today, Saturday) at the YearlyKos convention when she said, "Yes I will" continue to accept money from lobbyists because, lobbyists "represent real Americans."

Senator Clinton's admission came during a raucous debate over lobbyist donations that started with Senator John Edwards' challenge to Democrats and Republicans to stop accepting money from lobbyists. Senator Edwards had shouted earlier amid loud applause, "Your money is no good here, and we're not going to take it anymore." The Edwards campaign issued a press release right after the challenge, emphasizing that the Senator is the only presidential candidate who has not taken money from federal lobbyists or political action committees.

Senator Clinton's rivals were quick to jump on her admission. Senator Obama, whose campaign has returned lobbyists' money and committed to not accepting additional donations, said, "I disagree that lobbyists don't have disproportionate influence." They are spending money because "they have an agenda."

Senator Edwards asked the audience members to raise their hands if they have a Washington lobbyist working for them. Only three hands were seen.

Hillary tried to backpedal after Edwards and Obama lambasted her, but the damage was done. She said that people should look at her history and see that lobbyists do not influence her. I call bullshit. After championing health care reform in 1993 and 1994, she has been eerily silent on the issue. I wonder if that has anything to do with her being the second highest recipient of health care industry money in Washington?

I'm going to believe the all mighty dollar over her word on this one.

Minnesotans Are Mad

It has been three days since the disaster in Minneapolis. The impact of the I-35 bridge collapse was felt all over the country and the world, but not even close to how it hurts up in the Twin Cities. Much like New York City after September 11th, everyone feels pain for the victims. Yet when you lose a family member, a friend, a co-worker or anyone that you know personally due to the negligence of your government, sadness is going to be compounded by anger and a demand for accountability. Already, the anger levels are going up and according to Nick Coleman at the Star Tribune, its not a partisan issue.

From The Star-Tribune:

Both political parties have tried to govern on the cheap, and both have dithered and dallied and spent public wealth on stadiums while scrimping on the basics.

How ironic is it that tonight's scheduled groundbreaking for a new Twins ballpark has been postponed? Even the stadium barkers realize it is in poor taste to celebrate the spending of half a billion on ballparks when your bridges are falling down. Perhaps this is a sign of shame. If so, it is welcome. Shame is overdue.

At the federal level, the parsimony is worse, and so is the negligence. A trillion spent in Iraq, while schools crumble, there aren't enough cops on the street and bridges decay while our leaders cross their fingers and ignore the rising chances of disaster.

And now, one has fallen, to our great sorrow, and people died losing a gamble they didn't even know they had taken. They believed someone was guarding the bridge.

What a terrible tragedy that could have been avoided. Our government has been neglecting the essentials that keep our society going. It makes you think about the times of the Roman Empire, when Romans were given games instead. Well that empire fell, and the structure that fell and killed several people this week is tragically symbolic.

Thermal Camera Proves Gov. Richardson Is Blue

He didn't go thermal in any political sense, just posing for a picture with me with my trusty MacBook here in Chicago.

Rudy's Health Care Hot-Air

Rudolph Giuliani is one of the top tier candidates for the Republican nomination because of one thing, 9/11. Yet to run for President one should have detailed policy positions for a whole host of different issues that are important to Americans. Health care is without a doubt an important concern for voters and Rudy is willing to talk about it, but only to bash Democrats, not to actually provide real answers to the problems that millions of people face, no matter if they are insured or not.

From The American Prospect:

I'm supposed to be writing about Rudy Giuliani's health care plan today. And I would, if Rudy Giuliani had a health care plan. But Rudy Giuliani doesn't have a health care plan. What he has is a pretext with which to attack the Democrats. Indeed, just about all you need to know about Giuliani's thoughtfulness on the issue can be summed up by the following: In the speech introducing and detailing his new health care proposal, Giuliani refers to the "Democrats" six times. "Single-payer" is said eight times. "Socialized medicine," or some variant thereof, makes nine appearances. "Uninsured" is never uttered -- not once.

But we'll get to the speech in a moment. First, it's worth wondering why anyone is even crediting Giuliani with a health care plan. The New York Times headlined their story "Giuliani Seeks to Transform U.S. Health Care Coverage," before telling us, in the tenth paragraph, that "Mr. Giuliani's speech offered very little in the way of specifics. He said his goal was to outline his 'vision,' with more details to come in the fall." I guess the headline "Giuliani Seeks to Transform One-Seventh of Economy, Couldn't Be Bothered to Offer Details on How" wasn't snappy enough?

Failure of the press aside, let's examine this "vision." What Giuliani offered is this: A tax exclusion of up to $15,000 for families, and $7,500 for individuals, to help pay for health care. What Giuliani is relying on is people reading those numbers -- $15,000 and $7,500 -- without noticing that they don't denote the amount of money he's offering them, but the amount of money he's not taxing them on. And when we plug it into my magical Rudy Translation Machine (constructed with the help of friendly neighborhood economist, Dean Baker), we can watch how $15,000 can easily become … zero.

Zero is the number on a scale of one to ten the amount of time Giuliani spends thinking about providing a real plan to fix our nation's health care crisis. The numbers he touts are misleading at best and most likely intentional distortions to make an appearance of having a plan. It seems he is more concerned about raising money from the industries that want to keep the status quo. In fact, he has raised almost a million dollars from health industries alone.

Expect more hot air out of his mouth, while his campaign bank account is fattened by corporate America that loves to hand him cold hard cash.

Sam Seder Takes His VideoCam To YearlyKos

My little digital camera takes videos, but not as good as an actual video camera, so I'll let Air America Radio's Sam Seder take you on a little tour here at YearlyKos.

Bloomberg/Nunn 08'?

The Bloomberg for President speculation got another dose yesterday when reports came out that former Senator Nunn (D-GA) met with the Mayor to talk politics. Being from Georgia, it would be a safe bet to assume they were not talking solely about New York.

From 1010 WINS:

"We've had conversations about frustration with the fact that the process is flawed,'' Nunn said of Bloomberg, who has sent mixed signals about a potential independent White House bid. "I've told him ... it may be time for some serious people to look at what I call a time-out and having people of good faith in the Democratic and Republican parties to come together and address the issues that the parties don't seem to want to address.''

"We have not discussed any kind of joint strategy,'' Nunn added in an interview with The Associated Press. "I have just had conversations with him.''

Nunn, 68, a moderate who earned a reputation for bipartisanship during four terms in the Senate, was frequently mentioned as a potential presidential or vice presidential candidate before he retired in 1996.

Although Nunn says he hasn't ruled out running for President by himself, he clearly does not have the star power that the Mayor of New York garners. Bloomberg might just be the horse that can carry Nunn back into politics with an Independent label. As his politics do not put him with most Democrats (call him a blue dog Dem at best), tacking on that "I" to his name would be a good way to re-brand himself.

Of course, no one from either camp would say anything definitive, so it is still a wait and see situation.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Bloomberg Relents To Photography And The First Amendment

In addition to freedom of speech, the freedom of expression is inherent in the First Amendment in the Bill of Rights. Well the Mayor didn't think too highly of that freedom when his film office proposed restrictions and fines for people taking photos and films in the city. Needless to say, the new rules produced an outcry from the community demanding it be rescinded. The Mayor finally backed down today.

From The NYT CityRoom:

Katherine Oliver, the commissioner of the film office, said the rules would be revised based on feedback the office has received over the past two months. A period for public comment, which was scheduled to end today, will be reopened for another 30-day period after the redrafted rules are published.

The city appears to be modifying its position — if not backing down entirely — as a result of a settlement from a recent lawsuit brought by the New York Civil Liberties Union. The civil liberties group had threatened to a file a new suit over the proposed rules. (See the text of the proposal as a PDF.)

The mayor’s film office said in a statement:

By reflecting existing procedures in city rules, M.O.F.T.B. has endeavored to meet the challenge of identifying a threshold level of activity which necessitates a film permit, while at the same time substantially mirroring its current practices. The goal is to maintain a safe environment for the public, while balancing the needs of filmmakers whose work may have a significant impact on pedestrian or vehicular use of public space.

The carefully worded statement from the film office pretty much says, "sorry, nevermind." Of course when it comes to PR, signaling defeat requires a confusing statement that tries to make the film office look as good as possible. No matter how the city parses their words, this is a victory for photographers and filmmakers, New Yorkers and the First Amendment.

"I Don't Recall": A Republican Mantra

If it's good for Alberto Gonzales, then Dick Cheney can have selected memory too:

So I am Sitting Here At YearlyKos...

It is already the middle of the day here in Chicago, and after a speech by Gen. Wesley Clark, a talk with John Dean, Cenk Uyugr, Eric Massa and David Brock followed by a panel on framing with George Lakoff and Jeffrey Feldman (whew!); I am sitting in the ballroom listening to Andy Stern talking about the S.E.I.U., and the history and current state of unions. Needless to say, its has been a full day already and there is still much more to go.

That being said, this is hardly about a bunch of bloggers getting together in pajamas (I am wearing a dress shirt and slacks by the way). Bill O'Reilly and the ilk like him having been decrying what we are doing and anyone that dares support us. This is our second of many conventions and growing stronger. That makes people like Bill O very afraid. They want to hold on to their political power and its is beginning to fall out of their greasy, dirty hands. The media has been slow and coming with realizing what is going on here, but fortunately E.J. Dionne is.

From The Washington Post:

An Army veteran, a former Republican, and the son of a Salvadoran mother and a Greek father, Moulitsas, 35, created his Daily Kos Web site on May 26, 2002 -- "in those dark days," as his site puts it, "when an oppressive and war-crazed administration suppressed all dissent as unpatriotic and treasonous." Daily Kos took off because so many Democrats shared Moulitsas's view of the second President Bush.

Daily Kos is often described as liberal, but it is, more than anything, partisan. Its core assumption is that ideological conservatives made the Republican Party their vehicle and rallied in lock step against Democrats. The party of FDR and JFK needed to find the same discipline. The key litmus tests for Kos and his many allies in the blogosphere involve not long lists of issues developed by the American Civil Liberties Union or the AFL-CIO, but loyalty in standing up against Bush and doing what's necessary to build a Democratic majority.

And just as Limbaugh aroused passionate opposition on the left, so has Kos become the object of conservative rage. In the lead-up to Moulitsas's Chicago gathering, Fox News's Bill O'Reilly, a right-wing showman who knows a threat when he sees one, has gone after Kos. "There's no question that the most vile stuff imaginable is posted on this hate site and others like it," O'Reilly said Tuesday.

There is a change going on in this country. Americans are understanding that the Republican party represents the past, with no ideas outside of trying to scare and manipulate our citizens from helping them to live better lives. They would rather fight endless wars and take away our liberties than make America a shining light in the world.

The people here at YearlyKos, the "kossacks" at home and all like-minded people are beginning to demand a change. We are here today to implement that change. Last year we helped to put the power of Congress into the hands of Democrats. It was a great start, but there is much more to do. Next year we will elect a new President, and it is our duty to ensure that our 44th President brings progressivism back to the forefront of American politics and ultimately its policies so that we can realize and see the change so many of us are hoping and dreaming of seeing, especially after so many dark years of Republican rule.

Dennis Gallagher, Do Not Pass Go

Well Councilman Gallagher won't be staying in jail anytime soon, but he was forced to turn himself in this morning to the authorities. A little over three hours ago, Dennis was booked for rape, assault and a criminal sex act.

The indictment is currently sealed, but expect it to be released later today. Basically the grand jury heard the story from each side in the case, and easily made the decision to let this go to trial.

He was smiling yesterday when he went to court, but I doubt there was any happy emotions from this indicted man today. Goodluck to the justice system in prosecuting him to the fullest extent of the law. Dennis has no business representing his slice of Queens, though if he wants to run for cell block president, then go ahead by all means.

Chris Dodd Smacks Down O'Falafel

Cheers to Senator Dodd for bringing it to Bill O. Nothing brings a smile to my face like seeing his mug dragged in the (figurative) mud.

Here's the video, enjoy:

Jesus Was Not A Republican

If there was such a crazy system as the two-party one back in Jesus' day, there is no way in hell he would be a Republican. Jesus was for peace, helping one another and love for all mankind. Republicans like war, helping themselves and loving almost no one and hating everyone that is different from them. Even with those "values," Republicans like Gov. Mark Sanford like to think the man from Nazareth was one of them.

From The Christian Science Monitor:

"Jesus himself could come back as a Republican candidate these days, and there would still be some people saying, 'I don't know about that guy,' " Gov. Mark Sanford, a Republican, says in a phone interview. "There's a really strong fine-tooth comb people are running through the candidates that you probably wouldn't see if things were looking rosier for Republicans these days."

Well now Mr. Sanford, Jesus wouldn't come back for that. Even if he did, most likely he'd be a third party candidate.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Courts Hand Victory To Insurance Companies, More Sorrow To Katrina Victims

Home insurance companies are cheering after they were told by Judge Carolyn King that they would not have to pay for flood damage to their clients homes. Those homes were destroyed in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The lawsuit was filed by over 40 people and institutions that were not granted money to help rebuild their lives nearly two years after the calamity occurred. The impact of the decision could affect thousands.


The decision overturns a ruling by U.S. District Judge Stanwood Duval Jr., who in November sided with policyholders arguing that language excluding water damage from some of their insurance policies was ambiguous.

Duval said the policies did not distinguish between floods caused by an act of God — such as excessive rainfall — and floods caused by an act of man, which would include the levee breaches following Katrina’s landfall.

But the appeals panel concluded that “even if the plaintiffs can prove that the levees were negligently designed, constructed, or maintained and that the breaches were due to this negligence, the flood exclusions in the plaintiffs’ policies unambiguously preclude their recovery.”

Basically this is a nice win for the bottom lines at companies like All State (you aren't in good hands) and Traveler's Insurance (that umbrella doesn't cover you). The losers now number in the thousands, with no money to recuperate from their unlivable homes, it will be next to be impossible to rebuild.

YearlyKos Goes Virtual

Can't make it to Chicago for YearlyKos? Gina Cooper has a way for you to come, no matter where you are physically. Check out the convention Second Life-style and Gina Cooper's introduction to the virtual world:

Giuliani And Norm Siegel Agree On Something?

You wouldn't think that New York City's public advocate and the man referred to as the "Mussolini of Manhattan" would agree on anything, but Norm Siegel and Rudy Giuliani found common ground on at least one issue. The victims of September 11th have been remembered every year on the hallowed site where they perished nearly six years ago. Now that construction is kicking into full gear at Ground Zero, the mayor and others are moving it to a park nearby. The change has pissed plenty of people off from very different political persuasions, obviously.

From The Daily News:

The controversy over the plan to move this year’s 9/11 memorial out of Ground Zero for the first time has made for an unlikely alliance: Civil rights lawyer Norman Siegel and his onetime arch-nemesis, Rudy Giuliani.

The pair, who tussled frequently when Giuliani was mayor and Siegel was the head of the New York Civil Liberties Union, suddenly find themselves on the same side, backing families who want the memorial held at the World Trade Center site.

"Last night, I said to my wife, 'It’s finally come full circle,'" Siegel said with a smile today outside Zuccotti Park, the plaza across the street and one block South of Ground Zero where the city and state plan to hold this year’s memorial.

Siegel, who plans to run for public advocate for a third time next fall, is representing 11 family groups who filed a permit application with the Port Authority today to have the event at the site – which Giuliani said Tuesday he supports.

Well how about that, even polar political opposites can agree on some things....or at least one item that is very emotional for New Yorkers and Americans in general. Proponents of the move say they had to make the decision because of construction. I call bullshit, the Port Authority can take a break on September 11th, 2007 to honor the thousands that lost their lives on that tragic day.

Jamaica Bay Could Be Gone In Five Years

The water north of Queens will remain, polluted as usual, but the makeup of the area will be changed forever. The loss in wetland marshes that are home to so many different species of fish and fowl are disappearing at an alarming rate. A new study shows that in the last six years, the amount of marsh swallowed by the bay has nearly doubled.

From The New York Times:

Using satellite imagery of the bay, along with field observations, the report found that about 33 acres of tidal wetlands are lost every year, nearly twice the 18-acre annual loss found in a previous study by the state released in 2001. The latest report was compiled by the Jamaica Bay Watershed Advisory Committee, a New York City body, and experts at the National Park Service’s Gateway National Recreation Area, which includes the bay.

“The dramatic increase in the rate of marsh loss we found is shocking,” the report says. “Given the short time that appears to be remaining for the marsh islands, this may be our last chance to save Jamaica Bay.”

While experts are not in agreement on what causes the severe losses, scientists suspect that one principal reason is nitrogen pollution from the treated outflow of four city sewage treatment plants on the bay. Large amounts of nitrogen can kill delicate marsh plants, and without the root structures to hold sediment in place, the marsh islands could be quickly washed away.

If only the city made the effort to clean up several sewage treatment plants, the levels of nitrogen emitted into the bay would drop. Scientists say this is the main reason the landscape is changing, although there could be a few more reasons related to climate change, such as rising sea levels.

Of course taking the steps to implement change is always hard to come by when you mix environmental concerns with the bureaucracy of New York. Politicians need to step up and call for action. This piece by the Times is great, but it needs to be replicated across the New York media establishment. Only an extreme amount of public pressure can do it. So call up your representatives, The Daily News, The Observer and all of the city rags so they start talking about it. There isn't much time left.

Brownback Gets A Singing Girl Of His Own

One of the family values candidates on the right has a new crush on his hands. The music is terrible and this girl is definitely not as hot as Obama's, but the video is at least a little funny. What will Mrs. Brownback think?

Accused Of Raping A Grandmother, Gallagher Smiles

Dennis Gallagher left the courtroom smiling after giving testimony about a rape case that a 52 year old grandmother has brought against the Republican City Councilman from Queens. He says he has done nothing wrong, that she is only mad because he insists the encounter was a one night stand. The plantiff has a slightly different account of what happened.

From The Daily News:

A smiling Gallagher emerged from the courthouse after two hours of testimony about 4:45 p.m. "I know in the end I will be vindicated," he said.

His accuser, who testified before the grand jury for an hour last week, said she was the victim of a violent assault and that Gallagher is lying.

"He's going to say its consensual or whatever ... but it's all B.S.," the woman told The News.

Gallagher testified he met the woman at a well-known Middle Village watering hole, Danny Boy's, then went to his office for sex, the sources said.

The accuser told cops Gallagher offered her a ride home, but instead took her to the office, where he forced her onto her knees and tied her hands. He then allegedly raped her and forced her to perform oral sex, according to police reports obtained by The News.

She claims that he has everything to lose and there would be no reason for her to bring the suit if it weren't true. Gallagher says the only thing he did wrong was commit adultery. So he has already lied to his wife and abused the trust of their marriage. There is no reason to think he wouldn't continue to lie if the situation is as serious as the victim claims. Of course this will all have to be sorted out in trial, but starting out it will be an uphill battle for this adulterer and/or rapist to prove his innocence.

Obama Flexes His Muscles, Hits Liberals In The Face

So if you haven't heard, Barack Obama made a major terrorism speech yesterday that was meant to show he can cower to the centrists and others farther right that he won't be a liberal crybaby, or whatever Republicans call us. Apparently looking big, mean and tough like the current resident of 1600 Pennsylvania is appealing to the Illinois Democrat.

From The Huffington Post:

In his speech Obama sought to affirm his credentials as a prospective Commander in Chief who would not only end the war in Iraq, but who would also aggressively mount an offensive against Islamic terrorists.

His posture provoked immediate criticism from some quarters.

Chris Bowers, a blogger who writes on Open Left, argues that Obama is mistakenly trying to win the approval of the Washington establishment:

"No Democrat running for President tells the country that he will deploy more troops to Afghanistan and conduct military strikes in Pakistan without Pakistan's approval in order to appeal to the primary electorate."

Wanting to be a strong leader is one thing, being an abrasive bully before winning a single primary delegate is another. If Obama thinks this type of talk is going to win him votes on the left, he has another thing coming. Rock stars are great at attracting plenty of people at first, but go from political celebrity to Presidential material that appeals to the primary electorate is going to take more than ripping pages from George Bush's book.

Michael Moore Responds To Rudy


Well its late at night before the convention, the registration opens in just a few hours and all of the amazing events start at 8am sharp. The day goes from early in the morning until late at night, only to begin early Friday for another jam packed day. Its going to be an amazing four days for all those that are here as the press watches on.

All the candidates are going to be here, the pundits and us regular folk are all together to talk about Democratic politics and fight back against the crazy rantings of Bill O'Reilly. So stay tuned for YearlyKos updates and pictures of the event from my very own digital camera.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

A Nation Falling Apart

What happened a few hours ago in Minneapolis was a tragic event. Several people dead and dozens injured after the I-35 bridge over the Mississippi River collapsed while undergoing repairs.

From The Huffington Post:

MINNEAPOLIS — An interstate bridge jammed with rush-hour traffic suddenly broke into huge sections and collapsed into the Mississippi River Wednesday, pitching dozens of cars 60 feet into the water and killing at least six people.

The eight-lane Interstate 35W bridge, a major Minneapolis artery, was in the midst of being repaired and had several lanes closed when it crumbled.

"There were two lanes of traffic, bumper to bumper, at the point of the collapse. Those cars did go into the river," Minneapolis Police Lt. Amelia Huffman. "At this point there is nothing to suggest that this was anything other than a structural collapse."

This is another sad moment for our nation's infrastructure. Only two weeks ago antiquated steam pipes exploded in East Midtown killing one woman with the tow truck driver laying in the hospital with third degree burns all over his body. Dozens were injured and business are losing millions with the repair work still going on.

Now another major city has to deal with a catastrophe that has left several families without their loved ones and economic havoc that will ensue from this. Meanwhile New Orleans is still pretty much in ruins outside of the French Quarter, Downtown and the Garden District.

Our government's ability to deal with catastrophe and preventing infrastructure from crumbling has been diminished considerably over the years. This is something that needs to be turned around. Instead of a $300 tax cut, why not put that money towards fixing our old pipes, highways and anything else that needs to be updated so we can continue to live in a first-world society.

What Republicans Can Do About YouTube

All but two Republican candidates are afraid of a YouTube style debate, questions from the masses is scary I suppose. Well have no fear, the Red State Update is coming to their rescue by having a debate of their own:

NJ's Salty Water, Its Not Just By The Shore

First off, I have to say the Shore rocks. I was at Sandy Hook a couple weeks back and I had a great time. Good sun and a fantastic view of the city, the waves weren't so hot, but that was okay. Now what doesn't "rock" is the drinking water quality closer to New York in Bergen and Hudson counties. It was found that they have much higher levels of salt than normal, not so good for people with high blood pressure. Why would you want that extra mineral in your water?

From ABC-7:

United Water company has been sending notices out to its customers in Bergen and Hudson counties warning that the sodium level in the water supply is higher than it should be.

The company blames the winter task of salting the roads to keep them clear of ice.

The salt and snow melt from the roads spilled into reservoirs, taking the concentration of sodium higher than state guidelines -- and the water processing can't flush it out.

But the company is required to put out the warning for people with high blood pressure or other high sodium sensitive health concerns. It advises them to talk to their doctors.

The problem isn't too bad and nothing really to worry about. On the other hand, if you are lacking sodium in your diet, head over to New Jersey for a few gallons of fresh, New Jersey snow melt.

MetroCard Mike? Yeah, Right

Michael Bloomberg likes to pride himself on taking the subway to New York, pretending to be the average billionaire New York straphanger. But is it really true? This is definitely not an average commute to most that ride the rails.

From The New York Times:

On mornings that he takes the subway from home, Mr. Bloomberg is picked up at his Upper East Side town house by a pair of king-size Chevrolet Suburbans. The mayor is driven 22 blocks to the subway station at 59th Street and Lexington Avenue, where he can board an express train to City Hall. His drivers zip past his neighborhood station, a local subway stop a five-minute walk away.

That means Mr. Bloomberg — whose much-discussed subway rides have become an indelible component of his public image — spends a quarter of his ostensibly subterranean commute in an S.U.V.

“I never see him,” said Namela Hossou, who sells newspapers every morning at the downtown entrance to the mayor’s nearest stop, at 77th Street, four blocks from the mayor’s house. “Never, never.”

He campaigned on being an average guy in the city. But Mike Bloomberg is no average New Yorker. The media mogul turned Mayor makes a mockery of the subway system and those that ride and wait to make transfers, sometimes two or three on the way to work. Bloomberg takes the express to City Hall. Riding the subway as a commuter is not about being on an express for three stop, that's a joke. And when he tells people to stop complaining that the subway cars are too crowded??? Mr. Mayor, try getting on the 6 train at 28th Street at rushhour, it'll teach you the definition of "cattle car."

The Top Ten YouTube Debate Questions

PoliticsTV puts together the top ten questions posed to the Democratic candidates:

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Politics Of Weather

In a world based on common sense, climate change would not be a political issue. It is a moral issue and one humanity must deal with before it is too late to save us from the powerful wrath of a transformed Mother Nature. Of course, we live in a world filled with people that disagree with the facts of climate change (i.e. Republicans) and we must suffer as a result.

The wrath of these Earth-haters could be seen when the Weather Channel took a step in the right direction to show what the scientific community concludes about weather. So they hired Dr. Heidi Cullen to do a weekly half-hour show on climate science. When word got out that she was going from academia to being in front of a television audience (as well as a web-based one) things turned ugly.

From The New York Times:

Last December, I wrote a blog about how reticent some broadcast meteorologists are about reporting on climate change. Meteorologists — they are the forecasters — have training in atmospheric science. Many are certified by the American Meteorological Society. I suggested there’s a disconnect when they use their A.M.S. seal for on-camera credibility and refuse to give viewers accurate information on climate. The society has a very clear statement saying that global warming is largely due to the burning of fossil fuels.

The next thing I knew, I was being denounced on the Web sites of Senator James Inhofe, Matt Drudge and Rush Limbaugh. The Weather Channel’s own Web site got about 4,000 e-mails in one day, mostly angry. Some went, ‘Listen here, weather girl, just give me my five-day forecast and shut up.’

Q: Rush Limbaugh accused you of Stalinism. Did you suggest that meteorologists who doubt global warming should be fired?

A: I didn’t exactly say that. I was talking about the American Meteorological Society’s seal of approval. I was saying the A.M.S. should test applicants on climate change as part of their certification process. They test on other aspects of weather science.

A lot of viewers want to know about climate change. They are experiencing events they perceive as unusual and they want to know if there’s a connection to global warming. Certainly when Katrina hit, they wanted to know if it was global warming or not. Most Americans get their daily dose of science through their televised weather report. Given that fact, I think it’s the responsibility of broadcast meteorologists to provide viewers with scientific answers.

Viewers who tune in to the weather channel only get the daily temperature and precipitation forecast. People don't get the full picture. People like Heidi Cullen will help make a difference.

No Butts For The Bidet

Several anonymous models will have their bare ends covered in a controversial bidet ad in Times Square. The Times Square Church made a big stink (they should use the bidet) about all of the bottoms that were going to be debuted for the ad. They took the case to court, where a judge issued an injunction from the banner going up.

From The Gothamist:

God, 1, cheeky advertising, 0, as bottoms will be covered up in bathroom fixture company Toto's controversial Times Square billboard. Originally, bare butts covered only by smiley faces (part of Toto's "Clean is Happy campaign") would have been wrapped around building's corner, but then one of the building's tenants, the Times Square Church, complained.

The church claimed the ad "certainly unsuited for public exposure to children, and antithetical to the values of our congregation and church." A judge blocked the ad from going up while she reviewed the case's "novel and significant issues," but the public will miss out on a debate about commerce, public decency, church, and personal hygiene with Toto's decision to rework the ads.

According to the Post, Toto released a statement saying that a white bar will go "across the bottoms, 'in effect 'clothing' them by removing any hint of their anatomical features,'" leaving the ad to read, "This is our bottom line... Clean is happy. No ifs, ands, or ..." But the full-butt-monty billboards will be seen in LA, where underwearless starlets have inevitably prepped the market.

If L.A. can see the exposed-ition, so can we. The church completely went overboard in their complaint and so did the judge for placating them. It was a shame to see Toto back down and cover the butts with a redesign. All of those cheeks are God's creation anyways, right?

The Worse, Worser and Worst

All three of these people are sleazebags and it is hard to decide which should be the worse, worser or worst...but they all deserve to be in the top three.

With Spitzer...Where Do We Go From Here?

Governor Spitzer finally apologized this morning for his staff's ridiculous behavior concerning Joe Bruno and his helicopter trips. What they did was unethical and wrong, and Spitzer admits it. Only he starts by saying he was sorry and then finished by spinning. So now what? Spitzer went from his apology to denying the chance for Attorney General Cuomo from investigating his office. He also claims that we must not get bogged down in partisan politics. Ahem, Eliot, look in the mirror.

From The Daily News:

ALBANY - Gov. Spitzer shot down a Republican proposal to make Attorney General Andrew Cuomo a special prosecutor to reinvestigate the dirty tricks scheme waged against Senate GOP leader Joe Bruno.

Senate Investigations Committee Chairman George Winner (R-Elmira) had said such a move would give Cuomo the power to subpoena evidence and question Spitzer aides who ducked his first inquiry. Republican senators would shelve their own planned investigation to make way for Cuomo, who is a Democrat like Spitzer, he said.

About 10 minutes after Winner's news conference, Spitzer's office said no.

"The appointment of a special prosecutor is unnecessary" because his first probe and an inquiry by the governor's inspector general found no criminal conduct, spokeswoman Christine Anderson said.

It seems that this is just unethical and not criminal, if anyone is a criminal, it is Joe Bruno. Still, Spitzer should let this take its course and let the Senate Republicans give Cuomo the go-ahead to investigate so this can finally start to blow over. Having his own Inspector General clear him is nice, but having the top Attorney in New York do it is even better.

I do agree with part of Spitzer's Op-Ed however. This isn't what we should have been engaged in by electing our new Governor. We need to clean up Albany. The problems lie with how the state government has worked for decades, by three men in a room and New Yorkers sitting outside in the dark. Now we need to add a little dusting to the Governor's office and be on with the business of New York.

Home Depot Drops The Falafel Factor

Ah, the sweet smell of justice! Bill O'Reilly lives in a land of delusion surrounded by his repugnant ego. Well Bill, you are supported by your advertisers....and one of the biggest just dropped your thick head on the pavement. Home Depot agreed they do not want their ads on a television show that is full of hate, lies and your ugly mug.

From AmericaBlog:

Home Depot seems to have had a change of heart. They're now unequivocally telling their customers that they will not advertise on Bill O'Reilly's show. Oddly, however, they're now also claiming that they never advertised on O'Reilly's show.
From: Jarvis, Ron]
Sent: Monday, July 30, 2007 3:00 PM
To: JH

Thank you for your email , we will not and have not advertised on the Bill O’Reilly show.
And here's another:
From: Defeo,]
Sent: Tuesday, July 31, 2007 8:07 AM
To: JH

Good morning,
Thank you very much for your message. The Home Depot has a policy that prohibits the running of its advertising on programs that express strong opinions or political views. Please note that this includes Bill O’Reilly’s program.
Thank you,

Though to complete the story, Home Depot is doing a little bit of maneuvering themselves. They claim to have never advertised on Bill O's show, even though...they have. Whoops. Why do companies that do good have to ruin it by spinning the story? Oh well, they are corporations, and definitely far from perfect.

"War Made Easy"

Here's the trailer, see the whole thing. Learn how America has taken itself to war over the last few decades.

MTA Goes Dirty To Raise Fares

The battle over fare increases for New York City's MTA was turned up a few notches with veiled threats coming from the Transit Administration. "Fearful" of budget gaps despite having a billion dollar surplus this year, they are threatening to cut a program that brings first aid to commuters in need.

From The Daily News:

For nearly a decade, medical professionals - first nurses and then emergency medical technicians - have been posted at some of the busiest stations to help ill travelers, remove them from trains as quickly as possible and clear traffic jams on the rails. EMTs now work at seven stations.

But the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which projects huge budget gaps, says it can save nearly $250,000 a year by killing off the "Sick Customer Response Program" in 2009.

Sick customers are responsible for approximately 430 train delays a month, the third-highest monthly average.

NYC Transit spokesman Paul Fleuranges said it's "premature" to discuss the proposal, part of the MTA's 2008-2011 budget plan.

It may be premature for them to discuss it, but bringing it up is a slap in the face to anyone and everyone that rides the MTA. Saving a quarter million a year when we are talking in the billions of dollars is nothing but malicious on the part of Elliot Sander and the MTA. If the MTA thinks this is going to win them converts for a fare increase, they have another thing coming.

FBI Raids Sen. Stevens Home, Not Looking So Good For Him

The good ole' boy Senator Stevens from Alaska is in a lot of hot water. Alaska has been trying to clean up the corruption that exists in their state, along with the help of the FBI and the IRS. Politicians have been in bed with people they have no business being with, while ignoring their constituents and the law. Well things are going to catch up with Ted Stevens soon, especially since the authorities raided his home yesterday.

From The Huffington Post:

Stevens, 83, has been under a federal investigation for a 2000 renovation project more than doubling the size of his home in Girdwood that was overseen by Bill Allen, a contractor who has pleaded guilty to bribing Alaska state legislators.

Allen is founder of VECO Corp., an Alaska-based oil field services and engineering company that has reaped tens of millions of dollars in federal contracts.

Agents from the FBI and Internal Revenue Service started their search at the senator's home Monday afternoon, said Dave Heller, FBI assistant special agent. He said he could not comment on the nature of the investigation.

Stevens isn't commenting either. He wouldn't want to jeopardize himself further, especially if and when the Feds press charges against him and he has to face a judge and jury. Of course he isn't the only one, his son is under investigation and so is Congressman Don Young (R-Of course) for their crooked ways. It isn't right that they use their office for personal gain. The people trust them to serve their constituencies.....not themselves and their friends in the oil industry.

War Apologists March On

The problem with people like O'Hanlon is that they just refuse to look at the whole picture. We'll never find a solution if we only look at slightly favorable pieces of enormous, convoulted pie that is Iraq.

Pinocchio Can't Compete With Giuliani's Nose

I hate to bring a Disney character into this mess, but its the best comparison for Rudy Giuliani and the lies he tells on the campaign trail. If only Rudy's schnazz would grow with the amount of distortions, falsehoods and outright lies he could pole vault himself right into the East River from City Hall.

From The Daily News:

It is Rudy Giuliani's favorite boast on the presidential campaign trail: "I cut taxes 23 times" as mayor of New York, he says, a claim inevitably met by applause.

The impressive-sounding stat stars in radio ads this week in New Hampshire and Iowa, where the voiceover asserts that Giuliani "cut or eliminated 23 taxes."

Trouble is, it's not really true, say tax-cutting allies of the former mayor, as well as experts at the Citizens Budget Commission and elsewhere.

A close examination of the tax-slashing claims from a list provided by his campaign show that in at least four cases, the former mayor is seizing credit for cuts initiated by others and, in one case, for a tax reduction he fought.

You know Rudy, eventually people are going to call you on your bullshit. The Republican prospect for 08' did cut taxes in the city, but the ones he claims to have done are just a bit of a stretch. Now the people that actually did propose and pass certain tax cuts are calling him on his campaign slogan.

Why anyone would want to trust this man on anything is beyond me.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Congressman Weiner Gets It With The Saudi Arms Deal

It's always nice to see a little reasoned and common sense approach to the world coming from New York. Congressman Weiner (D-NY) gave us a dose of that today by speaking out against the multi-billion dollar arms sale to Saudi Arabia and other countries in that troubled region. Saudi Arabia is only friendly with us because of oil, but many citizens do not care about that (or their government for that matter) and want to do us harm. President Bush ignores this reality as the price of oil.

From WNYC:

NEW YORK, NY July 29, 2007 —The Bush Administration's proposed sale of weaponry to Saudi Arabia is being challenged by Congressman Anthony Weiner. The Democrat, who represents parts of Brooklyn and Queens, plans to introduce legislation today to block the multi-billion-dollar sale, which would include advanced weaponry and systems to enhance the striking ability of Saudi warplanes.

Weiner says the Kingdom's support for the war on terrorism has been questionable.

The proposed weapons sales are intended to strengthen U.S. allies at a time of uncertainty in the region. Egypt and Israel are also expected to receive financial support.

I would personally go farther than just say their support is "questionable," but it suffices for a member of Congress. United States arms dealers and merchants of death are frothing at the mouth for these weapons contracts. Their friends in the White House are happy to oblige, but at least one Congressman has the courage to challenge the status quo of our arms exports, especially considering who the recipients are.

If Fox News Can't Defend Gonzales, Who Will?

Rightwing bloggers and the President try their best, but even their minions are having trouble propping up the lying crook.

The Prince Of Darkness Anticipates His After-Life

The Prince of Darkness, technically named Robert Novak, reporter and pundit extraordinaire is getting older and wants to pontificate on his life in politics. He has been on Washington like white on rice for quite some time, often too close and lately playing the fool for the powers that be. Still, he has some interesting things to say now.

From The Examiner:

» On blogs: “I’m 76 years old, and pretty soon I’m going to a place where there are no blogs.”
» He said LBJ and JFK were the only Democrats he’s voted for, “but I regret Johnson.”
» On George W. Bush: “All presidents look better after they’re dead, and George W. Bush can count on that.”
» On Gerald Ford: “Fox News got me out of bed to talk about Gerry Ford [when he died]. I said how incompetent I thought he was. They got me out of that studio so fast …”

There was more of the same at Georgetown University on Wednesday night. He called CNN founder Ted Turner a “classic example of a madman” and said he’d turn Keith Olbermann down if the MSNBC anchor ever asked to meet him.

When someone asked how he got his sources, he replied: “How I developed them? I’m so charming.”

Charming is the last word that comes to mind when I think of the pundit-turned-puppet of the neo-conservative powers in the Bush Administration. Since Bob isn't going where there are any harpsicords or cherubs, he might see bloggers typing truth in his face for the rest of eternity while Keith Olbermann attacks George Bush's unconstitutional moves in the background. Have fun crossing the river Styx Mr. Novak.

Is Sex A Problem For Bloomberg?

This isn't the start for a Viagra commercial starring the Mayor and potential Independent Presidential candidate. That could be better than a rehashing of a nasty sex scandal that occurred a few years ago when Bloomberg was running his media empire. According to the suit filed ten years ago, the then-CEO had quite a mouth when it came to commenting on women in his company.

From The Huffington Post:

Among the allegations in the complaint:

_Bloomberg asked the woman who sued if she was giving her boyfriend "good" oral sex.

_He said "I'd like to do that" and "That's a great piece of a--" to describe women in the office.

_When he found out the woman was pregnant, he told her "Kill it!" and said "Great! Number 16!" _ an apparent reference to the number of women in the company who were pregnant or had maternity-related status.

Bloomberg denied the accusations. Both sides were barred from commenting because of confidentiality agreements. Stu Loeser, the mayor's spokesman, said Friday he had no comment for this story.

Bloomberg just sounds like another typical elite member of the Old Boys Club. The story made minor headlines when he ran for mayor and didn't have much effect. Of course this is New York and anything to do with sex is pretty much ignored unless it is really, really bad. If the Mayor actually gets into the race, he can be hurt by allegations like these in places that care about a bad-mouthed chauvinist.

Olbermann On The House Of Secrets

A Crime To Speak Your Mind On A Banner

Our nation's highways are adorned by advertising billboards and all things that can distract drivers. As long as there have been paved highways, someone has been trying to get your attention for what they can sell or convince you of. So when a couple of activists in suburban Chicago hung a sign that calls for Bush and Cheney to be impeached, they got charged with crimes.

From The Downers Grove Sun:

Jeff Zurawski, 39, of Downers Grove and Sarah M. Hartfield, 45, of Naperville were initially charged with disorderly conduct for displaying a banner that read "Impeach Bush and Cheney - LIARS" on May 6 on the Great Western Trail above Interstate 355.

But more charges were brought against the two war protesters last week in DuPage County Circuit Court in Wheaton: reckless conduct and unauthorized display of a sign in viewing of a highway, both misdemeanors.

The new charges each carry a penalty of up to one year imprisonment, while the original charge was up to a three-month sentence in the county jail.

"This is political prosecution," said environmental rights attorney Shawn Collins, who has taken on Zurawski and Hartfield's case pro bono.

State officials claim that the penalties were assessed because of the location, not the message. That is complete bullshit. If that were the case then the jails would be full of advertising executives. Hopefully the judge in this case uses some common sense, but then you never know when you get one of those 'activist' judges appointed by George Bush and his kind.

FOIA: By The People, For The People....Blocked By GOP

The Freedom of Information Act was created to make our government more honest, open and accountable. Of course it is hard to make every bill work exactly how you want it, and with the FOIA there are still snags that prevent people from accessing information about governmental agencies and what not. Unfortunately a bill that seeks to remedy the problems is being blocked by the party that wants the most repressive and closed government this nation has ever seen. Which party might that be....well you already know.

From RawStory:

"The Republican obstructionism continues in the Senate and the latest casualty is Americans’ access to their government," Senator Leahy said. "I am deeply disappointed that Republicans continue to block attempts to pass the Openness Promotes Effectiveness in our National Government Act” (“OPEN Government Act”).

In Senate floor action on July 26, Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS) held up passage of Leahy's legislation.

"It is my understanding that there are ongoing discussions with both sides of the aisle as well as the administration to come up with bipartisan consensual language on this issue and that we are unable to get clear the agreement at this time," Cochran said in his floor statement.

He then objected to the bill on behalf of himself and 'several Republican Senators,' preventing the legislation from being adopted by 'unanimous consent.

Sometimes the rules of the Senate really piss me off. They helped us when we were in the minority, but now that the tables have changed and the Senate is trying to do some good in this nation instead of continually setting it back, it is kind of a pain. Wouldn't it be great to have 60 Democratic Senators one day so that we can skip this crap and reform our government for the better?

DNC Helps Fred Thompson

See, Democrats really do care about Republican candidates, even "frontrunner" Fred Thompson. In fact, the DNC was so nice, they sent some people over to deliver some lifejackets for their faltering campaign.

Hitting Fox News Where It Hurt$

We can bash Fox News and their propaganda all we want but it won't get us very far in the long run. Sure, getting a Democratic debate canceled is nice, but what really knocks them back is taking them out through their sponsors. Liberals on the net are starting to step up to the challenge of pressuring companies that patronize Fox's airwaves from the ground up.

From the AP:, the Campaign for America's Future and liberal blogs like are asking thousands of supporters to monitor who is advertising on the network. Once a database is gathered, an organized phone-calling campaign will begin, said Jim Gilliam, vice president of media strategy for Brave New Films, a company that has made anti-Fox videos.

The groups have successfully pressured Democratic presidential candidates not to appear at any debate sponsored by Fox, and are also trying to get Home Depot Inc. (HD) to stop advertising there.

At least 5,000 people nationwide have signed up to compile logs on who is running commercials on Fox, Gilliam said. The groups want to first concentrate on businesses running local ads, as opposed to national commercials.

"It's a lot more effective for Sam's Diner to get calls from 10 people in his town than going to the consumer complaint department of some pharmaceutical company," Gilliam said.

Since Fox is so big, it is much more effective to start on the local level. So if you see someone advertising on Fox, call them up and tell them to place their ads somewhere else. Principles are everything, especially to small companies. Places like Pfizer and Boeing won't care at first, but if there is a groundswell, don't be surprised to see big changes and depleted revenues for big bad Fox News.

Sunday, July 29, 2007


When most people think of taking vacations, places like the Caribbean, Hawaii and Disneyworld most often come to mind. But for the brave and noble few (not to mention humble) there is the world of voluntourism. It really isn't a word you can find in the dictionary, at least not yet, but among activists and Good Samaritans it is a growing industry where one can experience another country and make a difference in the lives of the locals.

From Time:

Getting in touch with your inner Angelina Jolie is easier than it used to be. The so-called voluntourism industry, which sends travelers around the globe for a mix of volunteer work and sightseeing, is generating almost as much praise and criticism as the goodwill ambassador herself. Are volunteer vacations--which have become so mainstream that CheapTickets recently started letting online customers book volunteer activities along with their vacations--merely overpriced guilt trips with an impact as fleeting as the feel-good factor? Or do they offer individuals a real chance to change the world, one summer jaunt at a time?

Voluntourism trips are shorter, more entertaining versions of the kind of international work long sponsored by the likes of church missions and the Peace Corps. During trips that can be as short as a day and usually don't last longer than three weeks, work--which is often physically intensive--is punctuated by excursions to each destination's artistic, historical or recreational highlights. Ambassadors for Children volunteers, for example, who range from teenagers to retirees, pay $2,025 for 11 days in South Africa (airfare and lodging included), spending about a week with children infected with or orphaned by HIV/AIDS. Plus, they get a daylong safari as well as a tour of the Robben Island prison that held Nelson Mandela for 18 years. In Thailand, Globe Aware charges $1,090, not including airfare, for a week split between teaching English to impoverished schoolchildren and visiting floating markets or trekking through temple ruins. These kinds of blended experiences are key to the multifaceted cultural education that tour operators are aiming for. "You don't walk away from the destination only with this snapshot in your mind of 'Oh, my gosh, it's this wretched, horrid poverty,'" says founder David Clemmons. "You see there are other sides."

The immediate response is that this is a great way for Americans to go out and do some good in the world that isn't as wealthy as they are. Yet critics assail it is more of a feel-good experience that really doesn't change much in the lives of those we want to touch. Especially since voluntourists do not stay long enough to form a strong bond with the community that they are interacting with.

In my book, a mitzvah is a mitzvah. If your intent is to do good instead of looking for a way to feel good, then that is what truly counts. The people who's lives are touched momentarily still benefit from that sincere feeling of compassion and love for another person, regardless of where they are from or how differently the circumstances that they grow up in.

Don't Ever Shut Up

John Edwards gets riled up and means business: