Saturday, September 15, 2007
Friday, September 14, 2007
Alberto Gonzales finally gave his last speech as Attorney General yesterday. Don't worry though, if you want to hear him again check the speaker circuit for the GOP, I'm sure you can catch his wit and wisdom for $50,000 or so. If that isn't pathetic enough, since he should probably be in jail and nowhere near a lecturn, you must hear what he said yesterday. If I was dreaming, he would have been talking to himself in a mirror here.
From The Huffington Post:
"Over the past two and a half years, I have seen tyranny, dishonesty, corruption and depravity of types I never thought possible," Gonzales said in prepared remarks at a Hispanic Heritage Month ceremony at Bolling Air Force Base. "I've seen things I didn't know man was capable of.
"But I will tell you here and now that these things still leave me hopeful," he said. "Because every time I see a glimmer of the evil man can do, I see the defenders of liberty, truth and justice who stand ready to fight it."
Later, Gonzales was feted at a standing-room-only Justice Department farewell ceremony attended by, among others, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and former White House chief of staff Andy Card. Card's wife, The Rev. Kathleen Card, said a short prayer at the beginning of the ceremony, and former Solicitor General Theodore Olson, considered a top contender to replace Gonzales, also was in the audience.
Sure, around his friends he gets honest, why not talk candidly about himself like this when he was in front of Congress. Those details come back fast when you aren't under oath. He saw tyranny in George Bush and Dick Cheney. Dishonesty and corruption were all around him, isn't lying to Congress considered being dishonest too? As for depravity and things that men are capable of.....would that include going to hospital bed of a sick man to trick him into signing documents that talked about warrantless wiretaps? Or how about looking the other way as we torture Iraqis? Too harsh? Firing several U.S. Attorneys for purely political reasons? Does any of this count? Is anyone listening??
Clean energy coupled with energy conservation is what is going to turn around this whole environmental mess on our hands. We simply cannot live the SUV, gas-guzzling lifestyle and expect to get away with it forever. How much do we need to destroy Earth until we get it? Well there are plenty of ideas to follow through with to save energy.
When I was in Europe last month, it was amazing to see all the energy-efficient automobiles on the road. They....get....it. One such four-wheeler is the Smart Car. Not only does it get 40mpg, the 8x5 foot space it takes up on the street enables the driver to get the impossible parking spots Escalades and Suburbans only dream about. When I got home, I was faced with the reality of so many cars that get 20mpg or less that let whomever was driving expand their ego just a little bit farther.
There is hope for us Americans though. The Smart Car is now available to buy in the States....and it only costs about twelve grand. In fact, as the Gothamist reports, 20,000 have signed up for it already. Modifications for the U.S. have been made that makes it stronger and more durable on roads full of cars that are double (or more) its size. If you need to zip around in something and want to feel like a steward of the environment, this is it.
This is hardly surprising but definitely a confirmation of what Katie Couric has been up to lately. Her little soiree into Iraq was the perfect boost for George Bush and his talking points this week. General Petraeus was obviously going to stump for the President in front of Congress earlier this week, but Katie gives the public an illusion of a neutral observer. Of course, we know better than that. Nevertheless, the GOP has added her to the memos they pass around to their party faithful.
Despite their near constant scorn of the "liberal" media, Republicans these days can't seem to get enough enough of third-ranked evening newscaster Katie Couric, whose reporting from Iraq recently seemed to give credence to White House arguments about "progress" in Iraq.
Couric's reports were a top line in a Republican talking-point memo sent to GOP lawmakers last week.
Roll Call's Heard on the Hill gossip column reported that Couric's positive assessments of Iraq, filed when the anchor spent four days reporting there, were pointed out to members of Congress as they prepared for this week's testimony from Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker on the results of President Bush's troop surge.
"She's our sweetheart -- at least for now," an unnamed Republican told the column.
And just like clockwork, GoOPers like Senator Inhofe (R-OK) and Rep. Jim Saxton (R-NJ) began touting her hard-hitting nonsense. CBS reacted rather harshly to viewers that criticized her tour of Iraq last week as reported by Crooks and Liars, I wonder why?
Dominic Recchia has made a name for himself in the City Council representing Brooklyn. Now that term limits are bringing his job to an end, he is in search of a new one and quite possibly kicking Vito Fossella out of office. Whether Harrison (who already announced his campaign) or Recchia win the Democratic nomination next year, I will be glad to see Vito banished to the sidelines of Staten Island. That Republican is an eye-sore from this side of the Verranzano and must be a hell of a lot worse on that island, he even hates the needy if his (R) isn't enough for you.
It has been one official month since Harrison filed and has been almost inevitable since he lost to the incumbent last year. Now you would think that Harrison would be active in his campaign, building a war chest and whatnot. Yet it is eerily silent even though there are still fourteen months until election day. In these times, campaigning is a full time gig and Harrison should already be off and running.
Well apparently the Democratic powers-that-be have been looking at NY-13 and want to win it back (thankfully). Nancy Pelosi and others see a shot in Dominic and apparently he was persuaded by them not to pursue the race for Brooklyn Borough President according to the Post.
So....this is why we have primaries. May the best candidate win over Staten Island (and south Brooklyn) Dems so we can finally make New York City Republican-free when it comes to the Congress at least.
The apple that did not fall far from the Stevens' family tree is rotten to the core and was brutally exposed by one of the worms that used Ben Stevens for personal gain. Ex-VECO CEO Bill Allen testified in court yesterday and fingered ex-Alaskan State Senate President Stevens for taking bribes from him. Basically, it was a slam dunk for the government's eventual case against the young Stevens.
From The Washington Post:
Allen said he bribed Kott, former state Senate President Ben Stevens and former Rep. Vic Kohring. He also testified that he recruited Stevens in 1995 for work on behalf of VECO, well before Stevens was appointed to the state Senate in 2002, and that Stevens maintained a consulting contract with the company through 2006.
Stevens, the son of U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens, is under federal investigation but has not been charged.
"Mr. Stevens has consistently said he's not engaged in any of the illegal activity that is alleged by Mr. Allen. He denies it," John Wolfe, Stevens' attorney, told The Associated Press.
Ben can deny his "alleged" actions all he wants, but testimony under oath by the man that claims to have bribed him carries just a tad more weight than his cries of innocence. I'm sure his dad is proud to see Junior following his dad's footsteps in politics. I only wonder if Ben can last as long as his Dad. Another interesting aspect of it all, which one will be convicted of corruption first? It should be a close race.
The EPA and the LMDC came to an agreement yesterday on how to temporarily proceed with plans to demolish the rest of the Deutsche Bank building on 130 Liberty. More than six years after it was damaged by the 9/11 attacks, it still stands there with what looks like giant fishnets on its sides. The EPA publicly condemned the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. for its lack of safety and concern for those that work and live in the downtown area. The lapses in safety ultimately led to two firefighters losing their lives last month when a fire broke out in the hulking abandoned mess of a building.
There have been a lot of financial problems that contributed to the problems at 130 Liberty St. Insurance money did not come in at first, the federal government under George Bush did next to nothing and still to this day does not adequately fund New York City for what happened in 2001.
Avi Schick is now the head of the LMDC which was charged with taking down the Bank building earlier this year after Spitzer was inaugurated. To his credit, he has only been there a few months despite the fire occurring during his watch. Still, that building should have been inspected up and down. Since it wasn't, debris in the stairwells and a non-existent water system indirectly killed two brave souls of the FDNY.
The criminal investigation is still in its preliminary stages, but that does not mean we should just slowly forget about it and let them publish a slap on the wrist in a Friday news dump sometime next year. Someone is going to be held accountable for their (in)actions whether they like it or not.
I wasn't alive thirty-nine years ago, but I do know the man in front of the camera. He was an astute journalist in his day. He spoke the truth about a war that then President Johnson was escalating. He knew what was coming for the U.S. in Vietnam, does anyone know whats going on now?
Welcome Ladies and Gentlemen to the land where delusions rule and reality is outcast, yes this is Bush's World. Nothing makes sense here and anything the President says goes, even if it truly nuts. The President delivered his speech from the other side (in the White House) to tell us all how great Iraq is going and how we will kick ass. Too bad for him, most of the audience lives in the real world. Fred Kaplan explains down below.
From Slate Magazine:
It is true that Bush is ordering the withdrawal of 5,700 of those troops—one Army brigade and a Marine expeditionary unit—before Christmas, a few months earlier than they need to go home. This is clearly in response to a request by Sen. John Warner, the ranking Republican on the armed services committee. The Republicans need political cover on the war; they need to show they're bringing some troops home soon; they hope that doing so will defuse the war as an election issue. Bush hopes this will be enough to keep them on his side—and limit the support for Democrats' proposals of speedier withdrawals.
But by acceding to this political compromise—and by selling the larger withdrawal as a decision instead of as an inescapable fact of life—Bush undermined his case that the fight for Iraq is the central fight for civilization. If this claim is true, why pull any troops out earlier than necessary?
His showcase example of success was the recent alliance between U.S. troops and Sunni insurgents to join forces against jihadist terrorists in Anbar province (an alliance, by the way, that was formed before the surge). Yet even so, the president said in tonight's speech, "In Anbar, the enemy remains active and deadly." Again, under the president's own assumptions, what's the substantive case for letting any troops leave?
The speech was rife with evasion and fantasy from the outset.
And then of course there was a specific course of action for which the surge was to implement, and not surprisingly the President conveniently forgets:
The rationale for the surge was to improve security in Baghdad and thus give Iraq's national political leaders the "breathing room" to reconcile their differences, pass key legislation, and form a unified government. The recent debates over conflicting charts and statistics—some showing a decline in civilian deaths and sectarian attacks, others showing an increase—are beside the point. The point is whether life in Baghdad has improved enough to allow for political progress on a national level. As Gen. Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker conceded several times in congressional hearings this week, no such progress has been made.
President Bush tonight tried to suggest otherwise. He correctly outlined the premise of the surge strategy: "For Iraqis to bridge sectarian divides, they need to feel safe in their homes and neighborhoods. For lasting reconciliation to take root, Iraqis must feel confident that they do not need sectarian gangs for security. The goal of the surge is to provide that security and help Iraqi forces to maintain it."
But then he said: "As I will explain tonight, our success in meeting these objectives now allows us to begin bringing some of our troops home." (Italics added.) Does he really think, whatever the advances toward these goals, that we have reached "success in meeting these objectives"?
As he himself admitted, those goals haven't yet been achieved in Anbar, much less in Baghdad, much less in national Iraqi politics. He could not evade today's news—that Abdul Sattar Abu Risha, leader of the Sunni tribes' revolt against al-Qaida in Anbar province, has been assassinated.
Yeah, things are just peachy in Iraq. Someone needs to take that crackpipe away from George, is Laura still around?
Thursday, September 13, 2007
Emergency Rooms across the country (that can afford it) will be introducing brand new technology into their hospitals in the coming months. It isn't for the operating table or a new toy for nurses. The machines are for you and me to use. Long waiting times have plagued ERs for quite some time, resulting in the deaths of many under-served would-be patients.
When you arrive at the hospital, you might think you are at an airport ready to check yourself in for a flight. Well if you can manage an airport then maybe you can check yourself into the hospital with the same technology. Though this solution does not go to the heart of the problem, it is a fancy band-aid at least for ERs.
From the AP:
DALLAS (AP) — An emergency room might be the last place you'd think would have do-it-yourself check-in.
But Parkland Memorial Hospital has three self-service computer kiosks, similar to those used by airport passengers and hotel guests. And so do a handful of other hospital ERs, where the long wait in line to register and explain symptoms can be grueling.
True emergency cases — gunshot or car crash victims with serious injuries — are still rushed in for treatment. But patients like Rickey Washington, a diabetic concerned about numbness in his hands and feet, find it fairly simple to sign in by computer.
So gunshot victims can still get preferential treatment but ordinary folks can skip the lines. Well if you can get an airline ticket, why not one to a doctor? And of course, let an orderly sop up the mess you made, you are paying for the service.....dearly.
Congressman Patrick McHenry is about to find himself in a whole lot of trouble. The North Carolinian is connected to some really bad news that hasn't hit the traditional media just yet. Thankfully we have the blogosphere to help connect the dots. The story is just a little bit complicated, like so many other scandals, you just can't make this shit up.
From Pat Go Bye-Bye:
The story of the Florida double murder and suicide of three Republican activists with ties to McHenry gets stranger and stranger every day. We were the first to report off-the-record sources tying McHenry to victim and dirty-tricks operative Ralph Gonzalez.
We've reported that the North Carolina Conservative has tied McHenry to the shooter, Jason Robert Drake (who has ties to Rutherford County and was buried there.But now, according to Howie Klein Down With Tyranny McHenry's staff is admitting the connection:I have several sources connecting McHenry professionally with shooter Drake and with victim Gonzalez. This is the first on-the-record confirmation of a relationship of any kind. The escort service/gay porn connection has yet to be made on the record as far as I know.As we mentioned yesterday, Drake, a former marine, also is alleged to have a strong relationship-- both intimate and business/political-- with right-wing Congressman Patrick McHenry (R-NC). When I spoke to McHenry's office about this they at first insisted they never heard of Drake then, confronted with specifics, admitted they know him. They refused to put Congressman McHenry on the phone. There is every indication that McHenry may have been one of the Republican elected officials who was using the services of the gay prostitution agency connected to Drake. Our pals over at the BradBlog points out the connections between Florida's ultra-corrupt, vote-tampering congressman, Tom Feeney, and Gonzalez and reports the threat to expose the list of Republican elected officials who were using the gay escort service.
Is this type of involvement what it take to be a Republican Congressman these days? This is a strange and complicated story. How this will end up is anyone's guess. The point is, the story must be followed through to the end and those who are tied into it should be held accountable. If McHenry did something wrong with his buddies, he deserves to go down.
Most of the benchmarks set to deem the progress in Iraq have not even come close being met. Of course George thinks we are kicking ass, but there is one benchmark he cares deeply about. It has something to do with Texas Tea, Black Gold....you get the point. Well today was not a good day for our glorious leader. The latest round of talks on the Iraqi oil laws fell apart, and Bush's pals still do not have a firm system to rape Iraq of its sweet crude.
From The New York Times:
“This has been like a roller coaster,” said Mr. Salih, who is Kurdish. “There were occasions where we seemed to be there, where we seemed to have closure, only to fail at that.”
“Given the seriousness of the issue, I don’t want to create false expectations, but I can say there is serious effort to bring this to closure,” he said.
The legislation has already been presented to the Iraqi Parliament, which has been unable to take virtually any action on it for months. Contributing to the dispute is the decision by the Kurds to begin signing contracts with international oil companies before the federal law is passed. The most recent instance, announced last week on a Kurdish government Web site, was an oil exploration contract with the Hunt Oil Company of Dallas.
The Sunni Arabs who removed their support for the deal did so, in part, because of a contract the Kurdish government signed earlier with a company based in the United Arab Emirates, Dana Gas, to develop gas reserves.
All sides in Iraq continue to bicker over their piece of the pie. Yet what they might not want to mention is that there is also a specific game to be played that keeps the oil out of the hands of Multi-national Corporations that will stop at nothing to get the best deal for themselves without giving much back to the Iraqis.
Without the deal however, no one is going to make any money. As long as the Sunnis, Shias and Kurds hate each other with the passion only a civil war can produce, we aren't going to see much in the way of progress.
While politicians (like Giuliani) fall all over themselves to get political capital from anything 9/11, plenty of people are being screwed from the aftermath of the attack. The latest report of injustice was served up cold by cleaning companies that had contracts to clear debris. While certain firms grew rich, their workers were handed scraps as well as not being adequately protected in the toxic air of Lower Manhattan. Well those employees are finally fighting back.
From 1010 WINS:
Nine of the workers filed a suit Wednesday seeking class-action status against a dozen private companies and employers who hired people to clean dust and debris from private office buildings and apartments after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
The suit claims that workers "risked their health and safety'' to clean the buildings filled with dust or debris from the towers' collapse.
The lawsuit said one company, Maxons Restorations Inc., increased its revenue from $10 million in 2000 to up to $50 million in 2001 due to their work around ground zero.
The lawsuit seeks damages for all workers who weren't paid overtime for the jobs cleaning private buildings.
When you are talking about revenues in the tens of millions, it isn't fair to leave the people who cleaned affected buildings in the dust (no pun intended). Anyone who risked their health while company suits stayed far away need to be adequately compensated. If firms such as Maxons Restorations isn't going to heed amicably, then fire those lawsuits up.
A district court threw out a piece of legislation here in NYC that required restaurants to display calorie information about meals. My brain and my stomach thank Judge Richard Holwell for striking down the nanny law that has already been covered for the most part by federal health statutes. What makes this case so stupid is that the regulation would have only applied to restaurants that supply the info in the first place. Does the word redundant come to mind here? In a ruling Tuesday in Manhattan District Court, Judge Richard Holwell prevented the city from imposing the new regulations, ruling that federal law already provided for much of what the New York law sought to impose. "This decision highlights some of the flaws in the New York City Board of Health's regulation," Peter Kilgore, acting head of the National Restaurant Association said in a statement after the ruling. The rules, which would have applied only to restaurants that already disclosed calorie "We hope this decision will slow a rush to regulate, and will send a message to regulators and legislators that there must be more thought given to pursuing this complex issue," he added.
Ridiculous legislation abounds here in the city and it is nice to see one piece of it be thrown off the books. Our local representatives should be focusing on issues a little more pressing than how many calories a meal is, especially when the particular restaurant will tell you anyway.
In a ruling Tuesday in Manhattan District Court, Judge Richard Holwell prevented the city from imposing the new regulations, ruling that federal law already provided for much of what the New York law sought to impose.
"This decision highlights some of the flaws in the New York City Board of Health's regulation," Peter Kilgore, acting head of the National Restaurant Association said in a statement after the ruling.
The rules, which would have applied only to restaurants that already disclosed calorie
"We hope this decision will slow a rush to regulate, and will send a message to regulators and legislators that there must be more thought given to pursuing this complex issue," he added.
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Not that Chris Shays wants to leave, he was just being candid on why we are over there. It is obvious to most of us in the reality-based community, but in case you didn't know, we are not in Iraq for a black or white religious brawl. It really is all about the money and power.....oh and did I mention oil?
From Crooks and Liars:
On C-Span’s Washington Journal yesterday, Rep. Christopher Shays has a rare Republican moment of non-talking point candor. When asked by a caller why we are still in Iraq, Shays admits it’s because we just can’t let any other country control that oil.
Now that was easy wasn't it? Now for the rest of his clan to fess up to why we are over there, wasting blood and treasure.....well, I'm waiting, very very patiently.
Many Americans complain about high gas prices these days, I certainly did when I owned a car (thank you NYC!) and the way the numbers have jumped in the last few years, it is hard not to. We all know how to gripe about the situation, so why not try to put a silver lining on it? When it comes to markets, higher prices can lead to new solutions when it comes to energy.
Plenty of car makers offer hybrids and even a few electric cars so consumers can cut back on gasoline. With a little push from the government, we can reduce our reliance on foreign and domestic oil and help the environment at the same time.
Another interesting side effect for me living in NYC with no car is the amount of exercise I do everyday. Getting around the city with my feet has me walking over twenty miles a week, whereas when I lived in L.A. with my car, I drove 200 miles or more and walked a mile at most. In fact, there is even a report now that correlates gas prices with weight loss. Charles Courtemanche found out that for every one dollar jump in prices at the pump, obesity in the U.S. is cut 15 percent over a five year period.
So when you are grumbling at the increasing price of gas when you fill up that SUV, keep in mind that if you walk, bike or jog your way to the next destination you could have fattened your wallet and slimmed that gut.
Porn publisher extraordinaire Larry Flynt has it in for Senator David Vitter of Louisiana, and rightly so. Vitter proclaims to be a family values Republican when he is the farthest thing from it. Vitter fessed up to being associated with the DC Madam but denied dealing with prostitutes back at home in New Orleans. Despite his denials, the truth in his mind and from his words does not even come close to the reality of the situation. The hypocrisy of the matter is what keeps Flynt on the attack, to expose Vitter and other politicians who espouse one thing to the masses and do the opposite when the cameras are off.
Adult magazine publisher Larry Flynt brought the prostitute who claims to have had an affair with U.S. Sen. David Vitter before the media on Tuesday and called on Vitter to resign the seat he won by campaigning on a platform of conservative values.
In her first public appearance since the allegations emerged, Wendy Yow Ellis told reporters that she used to meet Vitter for sex several times a week between July and November 1999, only months after he was elected to Congress.
Ellis said Vitter found her through an escort service and would meet her at an apartment at Dauphine and Dumaine streets in the French Quarter. At first, he knew her only by her stage name: Leah.
She said the assignations ended "abruptly" when she proposed escalating the relationship and divulged her real first name to Vitter. She shares that name with his wife, Wendy Baldwin Vitter.
The similar name thing is interesting, but looking at the entire situation is appalling. If Vitter had even a shred of decency in his bones, he would resign. Of course he doesn't so we must go down this path with Flynt leading the way. Vitter is going to whine and complain, but until he resigns, this is just one more scandal that keeps sprouting legs in the press. I am happy to let him continue, because whatever message machine the Republicans have left, this story, the Larry Craig fiasco and others will continue to erode the hopes of the GOP.
Get your TiVOs ready..or just sit down and watch the Colbert Report tonight old-fashioned style. Though I might just wait until it hits the Comedy Central website tonight. Why am I even more excited to watch Stephen tonight you may wonder? Well I'll tell you. NYC School Chancellor Joel Klein is the special guest on the program.
The interview will give Joel a nice new forum to try and discuss the problems in urban education in this country....and more importantly what we can do about it. Joel isn't known to be the funniest guy around, so maybe appearing in cartoon format might help. Just throwing out a suggestion, ya know?
The eve of Rosh Hashanah is almost upon us and the Senate's most observant Jew is not looking for anything like a sweet new year. Instead his bloodlust for Iran is increasing and it showed when it was his turn to question General Petraeus. Joe didn't care too much about discussing Iraq, you know where all of our troubles are centered at. No, Joe wants another war. Another war we can not afford and with our troops stretched dangerously thin, one we can not win either.
From TPM Muckraker:
Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) doesn't think Gen. Petraeus has enough war on his hands. The senator (changing the subject from Iraq with "I want to go to Iran...") asked Petraeus if he wanted "the authority" from Congress to "pursue the Qods forces into Iranian territory." Petraeus, for some reason, politely declined to start a third contemporaneous U.S. war.
Well at least Petraeus deserves some credit for exhibiting sanity while facing nuts like Lieberman. Of course, Petraeus wants to focus on only one lost cause at a time.
Rudy is at least known as an exaggerator and Sean is definitely known as a right wing blowhard. Now how would one go about tying to the two together on the same day? Well September 11th makes it easy, especially when so many on the right are eager to wrap the flag around themselves to make it seem like they love freedom. Where better to do that then attending a "Freedom Concert" in New Jersey?
Plenty of people attended this event, Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, Newt Gingrich, Joe Lieberman, Oliver North, a bunch of WABC's other conservative talkers (anyone noticing a common thread here?) and our dear friend Rudy. Giuliani looked somber on TV in the morning at Ground Zero and then he headed to a concert in the afternoon? Sounds a little suspicious to me.
But Joshing you say, why can't the man have a little fun with his right wing friends down at Great Adventure? So what if he closed his campaign office to make it look like he
was serious about honoring the victims of 9/11 wasn't playing politics on this day? It's just a rabble-rousing event for those that pick blind 'patriotism' over anything else (like common sense debating).
Or was it? Everything is politics to Rudolph. He used 9/11 to hog the national spotlight six years ago. After his term as mayor was up he used the image yet again to open a firm that has netted him millions. Now he is running for President and it is all based on looking tough under fire when he was mayor on that one day. The truth is, Rudy has no leadership ability, only the unrelenting political will to do whatever it takes regardless of who gets hurt, even if it is a ceremony for the friends and family that lost loved ones on 9/11.
Oh and by the way, Sean Hannity ended up singing country songs with his country pals Montgomery Gentry. I am still not sure what is making me more nauseous, hearing Sean wail or more of the same bullshit from America's
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
One of the shining lights in the Senate....Russ Feingold questioned Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker about the sensibility of fighting Al-Qaeda in Iraq as opposed to Pakistan and the rest of the world.
Rep. Jim Walsh is moderate Republican representing the Rochester area for some time now. He has been a supporter of the President's war in Iraq up until he took the time to go over there and see the situation for himself (for the second time in four years). Unlike the narrowly-scoped picture General Petraeus has painted for Congress, Mr. Walsh got an up close and personal look on the ground and abruptly changed course on his support for the occupation.
From The Democrat and Chronicle:
"Before I went, I was not prepared to say it's time to start bringing our troops home," Walsh said. "I am prepared to say that now. It's time."
Walsh's announcement came as Gen. David Petraeus, the U.S. commander in Iraq, told House members that the troop "surge" has made progress.
But Walsh said he saw little evidence that much has changed in Iraq since he last visited four years ago. He said he hopes to meet with President Bush to convey his change of heart.
Obviously Bush will be disappointed by the press generated over this but if Walsh thinks it will sway the Decider, he definitely does not know the delusions George suffers. Remember, he'll be content to stay in this even if his wife and dog abandon him. At least we have one more Republican coming back from the dark side on this issue and into the light of reality and common sense. Now for the rest of them.....
Ah, Bernie Kerik. You don't hear much about that guy in the news these days. Thankfully for our reading pleasure he gave an interview while attending the ceremonies this morning at Ground Zero. For the most part he stayed away from his former pal Giuliani in the physical sense, but that did not stop him from praising the Presidential aspirant and slamming the people opposed to him.
From The Huffington Post:
Asked to respond to criticism that Giuliani made a terrible, life-costing mistake by putting New York's terrorist response center in one of the Twin Towers - thereby rendering it moot when the building was hit - Kerik noted the clairvoyance of hindsight.
"Yeah," he said, "I wish I could look back and say some of the things I've done and moves I've made, I didn't make. But the reality is you don't have that luxury of going back. Was it a bad decision? Possibly. But I think people have to look beyond that and look at the scope of the response on 9/11."
As for the criticism expressed by the International Association of Firefighters that Giuliani's performance on 9/11 was more or less a disaster, Kerik decried it as politics.
"The unfortunate thing is they have brought this into the political arena," he claimed. "As an insider in the administration, I know what Rudy did for the fire department. And I know what he did for the city... For anybody to question his leadership, I find it pretty appalling"
Appalling? Really? Those are brave comments coming from a
man criminal such as himself. As for questioning Rudy's leadership....that is the right of every American to ponder before thinking of making him our next President. Speaking of people running for President, Kerik even took the time to lambast Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH):
Kerik even waded briefly into the presidential campaign, lobbing criticisms at Representative Dennis Kucinich, D-OH, who, in a recent radio interview from Syria, derided America's presence in Iraq.
"I was so sickened by it, I had to turn it off," Kerik said. "The reason we are never going to win this war is because we can't unite against the enemy. I don't know what the parameters are for treason, but this guy should be impeached."
Kerik is so far out of bounds he can't even see the field on this one. He might want to keep his mouth as far away as he does his distance from Rudy on this day....and any day.
I couldn't help myself this morning, I turned on the TV where I was at and saw the memorial service. It was on every channel so when I tried to change it...it kept going. Hearing the names is tear-jerking, especially when the reader would finish their turn by remembering their friend, cousin, brother, etc. I tried MSNBC but was simultaneously hit twice in the face by the images of the burning towers and Katie Couric's voice. Thankfully I found Comedy Central after an hour for the "lighter" news about Bush's visit to Anbar.
Anyways, while watching the memorial, every once in a while the camera would pan out to show the fish-net covered Deutsche Bank building on Liberty Street. Six years later it still stands there, partially removed yet towering over the site as a powerful reminder.
Of course the demolition is now stopped again due to the horrific fire that killed two more of New York's Finest a few weeks ago. Apparently the agency running the site did not care enough to make sure there were any safety measures employed which led to there being no water for the firefighters that perished last month.
Now city, state and federal officials are treating the situation with kid gloves, trying to look like they are doing the right thing. Though things aren't off to the best start since federal authorities are slamming the state of New York for not doing enough even now to combat air quality problems.
I understand that the development corporations want to get everything done and finished so the new towers under way will look nice and pretty. But I really don't care. Safety comes first, no ifs ands or buts. After everything that has gone down in the last six years when it comes to air quality, the people who live and work in Lower Manhattan deserve better. What needs to be done now should have been taken care of five years ago, but it still needs to be done.
SoHo is about to change along with a lot of the city, another victim of the gentrification and real estate wars. The city struck down an attempt to stop Donald Trump from building a 46-story residential tower by the Holland Tunnel because of a loophole. Once it is finished being built, many are afraid that the area South of Houston will be spotted with these thirty, forty or more story buildings, towering over what we know of the neighborhood now. The Donald obviously does not care, taking his conquest of the city to new heights (no pun intended).
From The Daily News:
What is not permitted is a residential use, so the new Trump tower must be packaged as a hotel and not as a condo building. But in a deal negotiated by city officials, the hotel rooms will be bought like condos.
"He's calling it a hotel but it's really going to be a building primarily for residential use," Sweeney said Monday.
Under the project's so-called restrictive declaration, no owner will be able to occupy a unit for a continuous period of more than 29 days in any 36-day period or for more than 120 days in a calendar year.
SoHo Alliance attorney Stuart Klein asked the city Department of Buildings to revoke the building's permit in a July 24 letter.
Klein, formerly the top lawyer with the Department of Buildings, said the 29-out-of-36-days rule would be unenforceable.
"It sets up a mechanism that's simply not going to be followed," he said Monday.
Shopaholics shouldn't fear of course, the trendy boutiques will stay in their area, as long as their economic output stays high. What is worrisome is that the SoHo we know is under attack from the most devilish real estate tycoon out there. My fear is that the neighborhoods that make New York the greatest city in the country (if not the world) is slowly being stripped down to a hollow shell of expensive monstrosities of glass, steel and concrete. Who knows, in a generation or two they might even come after Greenwich Village. If that happens, I for one will be on the barricades, metaphorically speaking.
Comparing Iraq and Vietnam can be a little scary at times, even for the Decider. His comparisons, like his view of the world is rather delusional. Rep. Robert Wexler (D-FL) actually made some sense yesterday when Petraeus made his way to D.C. for the anticipated (but not surprising) report on the war.
From Crooks and Liars:
Wexler: I vehemently opposed the surge when the president announced that last winter and instead I call for troops be withdrawn. In your testimony today you claim that the surge is working and you need more time. With all respect General, among unbiased nonpartisan expert consensus is far. The surge has failed based on most parameters. In truth, war related deaths have doubled in Iraq in 2007 compared to last year. Tragically, it is my understanding that seven more American troops have died while we’ve been talking today. Cherry picking statistics or selectively massaging information will not change the basic truth.
And please understand Gen. P., I do not question your credibility. You are a true patriot. I admire your service to our nation, but I do question your facts. And it is my patriotic duty to represent my constituents and ask you. question you about your argument that the surge in troops be expended until next summer, especially when your testimony stating that the dramatic reduction in sectarian death is opposite from the National intelligence estimate the Government accounting office and several other non-biased non- partisan reports.
I am skeptical General, more importantly the American people are skeptical because four years ago very credible people while in uniform and not in uniform came before this Congress and sold us a bill of goods that turned out to be false. And that’s why we went to war based on false pretense to begin with.
This testimony today is eerily similar to the testimony the American people heard on April twenty eighth nineteen sixty seven from General William Westmoreland, when he told the American people–America was making progress in Vietnam.
Wexler makes a very good point here. Iraq may not be a carbon copy of Vietnam, but there are many eerie similarities that make it seem like Bush and his team are taking the lessons of thirty years ago and repeating actions that have been shown to lead to failure. A small percentage of Americans believe Bush is exhibiting leadership in the Middle East, but it looks a lot more like insanity to me.
Monday, September 10, 2007
The basic premise of this story isn't entirely original. There are many incidents of people falling into rough times that sadly have to prostitute themselves in order to make ends meet. Many times, these social deviants end up being addicted to drugs, going to jail or a fate that is far worse. But we are talking about a couple of mortgage brokers in New Rochelle here, so here comes some uniqueness.
CBS) NEW ROCHELLE The downturn in the housing market appears to have driven two Westchester homeowners to desperate and illegal measures.
New Rochelle Police raided a 3-bedroom home on North Avenue Friday night arresting four alleged prostitutes and the homeowners.
The house, they say, had been turned into a brothel complete with heavy shades over all the windows and a red ribbon placed out by the sidewalk to indicate they were open for business.
Richard Werner and Heather Mezzenga are charged with promoting prostitution. The two are both mortgage brokers who moved out of the house roughly two years ago so they could begin renovating a home on Mountain Road in Pleasantville.
Desperate times call for desperate measures indeed. I'll be sure to think about how to finance my next home renovation after hearing this story. I've thought of innovative schemes for my general monetary welfare, but running a brothel....now that is entrepreneurship at its lowest/finest.
Petraeus may be the current General on the ground, but there are plenty of experts who have been studying the conflict in the least biased way. Distinguished men and women such as fmr. NSA chief Richard Clarke, Jon Alterman, Mara Rudman and Rand Beers take a look at the realities of Iraq and what Petraeus is saying.
Are you one? Are you programmed to think like a conservative? One random question in the universe may have been solved by researchers at UCLA and NYU. The answer is......yes. Their studies tested the brains of liberals and conservatives with a very simple test and the results were strikingly different. Now of course the researchers claim it does not mean being liberal or conservative is a bad thing...but, well....you know.
From The Los Angeles Times:
Frank J. Sulloway, a researcher at UC Berkeley's Institute of Personality and Social Research who was not connected to the study, said results "provided an elegant demonstration that individual differences on a conservative-liberal dimension are strongly related to brain activity."
Analyzing the data, Sulloway said liberals were 4.9 times as likely as conservatives to show activity in the brain circuits that deal with conflicts, and 2.2 times as likely to score in the top half of the distribution for accuracy.
Sulloway said the results could explain why President Bush demonstrated a single-minded commitment to the Iraq war and why some people perceived Sen. John F. Kerry, the liberal Massachusetts Democrat who opposed Bush in the 2004 presidential race, as a flip-flopper for changing his mind about the conflict.
Based on the results, he said, liberals could be expected to more readily accept new social, scientific or religious ideas.
Hmm, sounds like there is a bias here. Scientists are more accepted by liberals, hence they cannot be trusted with God's creation....or something like that. Of course this information isn't surprising in the least. Conservatives are reluctant to the ever-changing world while liberals are open-minded and explore many different options whether it comes to politics or grocery shopping. The George Bush v. John Kerry example is one of many that you can look to see differences between libs and cons.
I heard some time ago that George Bush wants terrorists dead or alive, but then again, he doesn't think too much of them anymore. Well not thinking about someone and being best buds are two very different things. Sattar Abu Risha isn't your average Irfaqi citizen, so maybe that was why our President sat down to meet him. Abu Risha heads the Anbar Salvation Council, a group that promotes
civic participation his own quest to be a local warlord. So what would these two be meeting about you ask?
From Abu Aardvark:
....That's our guy. That's the pillar of America's Sunni strategy, and a key player in Fred Kagan's fantasy life.
And I didn't even mention the widely discussed, sensational rumor that he had skipped town with $75 million in American cash - which evidently wasn't true, or else was just a "misunderstanding" which has been "resolved", but does speak to endless circulation of unpleasant rumors about the guy's corruption and mercenary behavior. I wish I could have been there as Abu Risha nodded along sagely while Bush promised to funnel large-scale American economic development funds in Anbar, perhaps offering the services of his own highly professional office in seeing to the disbursement of the funds. It's kind of humiliating to watch an American President get rolled by a two bit, corrupt petty shaykh.
But that's not even the worst of it. According to one widely disseminated account of their meeting, Bush acted shocked when Abu Risha complained about Sunnis being killed in Baghdad because of their names, claiming he had never heard of such things. It's impossible to know the accuracy of this account, since it comes out of an Iraqi press not known for its fealty to professionalism or standards of evidence. But if true, what an astonishingly depressing admission of ignorance of one of the most important aspects of the Iraqi situation: he has never heard of the ethnic cleansing of Baghdad.
Highway robbery? Ethnic cleansing in Baghdad? Jiminy Crickets! Who woulda thunk it?
General David Petraeus finally submitted his long-awaited (and previously leaked) report on the status of Iraq today. Surprisingly (to no one) it furthered the mission of the President and did not address the realities both militarily and politically in the war-torn region. Congressman Lantos didn't buy it and neither did I.
From The Huffington Post:
Rebutting charges that he was merely doing the White House's bidding, he said firmly, "I wrote this testimony myself. It has not been cleared by nor shared with anyone in the Pentagon, the White House or the Congress."
Petraeus said that a unit of about 2,000 Marines will depart Iraq later this month, beginning a drawdown that would be followed in mid-December with the departure of an Army brigade numbering 3,500 to 4,000 soldiers.
After that, another four brigades would be withdrawn by July 2008, he said. That would leave the United States with about 130,000 troops in Iraq, roughly the number last winter when President Bush decided to dispatch additional forces.
Petraeus said a decision about further reductions would be made next March.
With all due respect that is a very weak rebuttal. You can say "nuh-uh" all you want, but that doesn't mean anyone is going to believe you. March could bring another increase in troops for all we know. The only constant here is that our men and women are being killed and injured. The monetary toll keeps rising as well and the bullshit indicators are through the roof.
Like I mentioned before, Congressman Lantos called Petraeus on the BS...but will Congress act appropriately and end this war? That is the question.
Earth has been changing it's topography and composition ever since it formed in the cosmos billions of years ago. Mountains have risen, seas formed, continents broken off and merged back together again. Yet that change has usually taken eons to make a noticeable difference. With the growing impact of man, cartographers have to work overtime to map all of the changes caused not only by earthquakes and volcanoes, but by our very own society.
From The New York Times:
In the new edition of “The Times Comprehensive Atlas of the World” (Times Books, London, 2007), for instance, there are before-and-after views of the Aral Sea, once the world’s fourth-largest lake. It shriveled as Soviet-era irrigation projects siphoned off the rivers that replenished it. A dam completed in 2005 now prevents water from flowing out of the lake’s northern lobe, which is expanding as a result.
The lake’s vanishing and rebirth, easily visible from space, are the work of people.
“The impactful thing is the size of some of these changing features,” Mick Ashworth, the editor in chief of the atlas, said in a telephone interview from England.
The atlas charts the shifting coastline of Bangladesh, for example, where land has been lost to rising sea levels. It identifies islands that are likely to be subsumed by the seas, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and the Marshall Islands among them, and coastal communities that may be forced to move. One of them is Shishmaref, Alaska, located on a narrow island along the Bering Strait, where the break-up of sea ice has left the village more exposed to storms and the sea is advancing at a rate of 10 feet a year.
What will it take for people to wake up and start effecting real change?
Climate change, diverting water for farming and industry has taken a tremendous toll on our planet. Watching the near-death and rebirth of the Aral Sea is but one example of how quickly we can force our planet to change its look. The Dead Sea, noted since biblical times has only a few short decades left before it becomes nothing more than sand like the desert around it. The North Pole's ice caps are expected to be gone during the summer in a similar amount of time. Closer to home, the marshes of Jamaica Bay are rapidly disappearing and are expected to be gone altogether in only a few years.
Sunday, September 09, 2007
Exporting democracy to the Middle East is hard work, as George Bush knows so well. It is important to win the hearts and minds of the locals so that they embrace our western way of life. In turn, they'll happily sell their oil and other natural resources at ridiculously low prices while throwing flowers at the feet of the oil executives at Shell, BP, Exxon-Mobil, etc.
Ok, now it is time to wake up from this delusion.
President Bush went to Anbar last week because he was in a safe remote location, far from the hellish streets of Baghdad, Basra, Fallujah, Mosul....I could go on and on. The reality of the situation with the Sunnis and Al-Qaeda is that for now, the U.S. is paying the former to fight the latter. The insurgents need money to finance their operations and if the United States is willing to bankroll them, then they are more than happy to go along.
Both sides win in the short term. The United States (i.e. George Bush's Administration) gets to look good for the commoners back home with reduced casualties in the region and the Sunnis aren't attacked from the skies and by U.S. backed operations. Meanwhile they get additional funding to fight the Shias (and the U.S.?) at a later date.
Sheer fucking brilliance.
You don't have to be in politics to know that Bill O'Reilly is a racist bastard. It isn't so much one particular moment on the Falafel Factor, but a continuous assault on those that look different from Bill O. Case in point, O'Reilly slammed the rapper Nas for performing at a benefit concert to memorialize the victims at Virginia Tech. Nas was one of many performers, yet he was the only rap artist.
Why pick him out of a line up that includes Dave Matthews, Phil Vassar and John Mayer? Probably because rap scares Bill in his secluded Long Island home that is far from the ghettos that Nas talks about. We wouldn't want to shatter O'Reilly's image of his 1950's Americana delusions. Well Nas had something to say to the loofah master, something called 'the truth.'
From Yahoo News:
In an interview with MTV, he said: "Everybody has a marketing plan; his marketing plan is racism.
"It just shows you what bloodsuckers do: they abuse something like the Virginia Tech [tragedy] for show ratings. You can't talk to a person like that."
The rapper defended his lyrics as a reflection of the reality of America's streets and ghettos.
He added: "I had a best friend killed, plenty other friends killed. I been through it. I seen it.
"I think that's what makes it important that I come through and show love to those people [at]."
Nas hits it right on the head. O'Reilly appeals to an older conservative crowd where many of his fans want to hear that tired old theme that America was better in the 1950s. Before black people had power, when whites could do whatever they please to whomever, before the youth began to fight for the civil rights of everyone in this country.
The only thing is that a lot has not changed. There are still many institutional problems in America. The ghettos are still poor, still dominated by minorities and still ridden with crime. Nas is one of many rap and hip-hop artists that tell it like it is (not the bling-bling artists of course) and speak up for those that are not heard from. Hearing about the realities of those on the other end of the socio-economic scale is frightening to Bill and his followers. They do not want their bubbles burst......to that I say, too bad you &*%^ #*^&*%.