Saturday, October 06, 2007

A Toned Down Rudy?

The New York Times noticed something that is subtly apparent with Presidential candidate Rudy. He is a lot calmer these days. Not his policies of course (or lack thereof), those are just as idiotic as ever. However his voice has changed considerably. Instead of acting like an arrogant asshole as he did as Mayor, he just says "9/11, 9/11, 9/11" now. The Times takes a look back at many of Rudy's memorable moments on his weekly radio show at WABC.

When Joe from Manhattan called in 1998 to complain about the city government giving special parking privileges to a white-shoe law firm, Mayor Giuliani emitted an audible groan into the microphone.

“Well, let me give you another view of that rather than the sort of Marxist class concept that you’re introducing,” Mr. Giuliani said.

When a National Rifle Association member opposed a ban on assault rifles in 1994, Mr. Giuliani really got annoyed.

“Now the reason why the N.R.A. has lost all credibility is statements like that,” he said. “By definition these are attack weapons. They are used for offense. It really is absolutely astounding that the N.R.A. continues to have influence in areas in which they make no sense at all.”

Basically he went after everyone and anyone. Now he is backtracking on his NRA statements and wholeheartedly endorsing them, assault rifles and all. The question is, where is the real, temperamental Rudy we all loved to hate? I sincerely doubt that massive ego in his head has let him change for the better. More likely it has gone underground with the advice of campaign consultants and the will to win next year.

I wonder what it'll take for America to see that famous temper?

Rachel Takes On Proto-Newt

A Soulless City?

First off, I love living in New York, there is nothing out there like this city. On my street, I live across the street from an SRO and there a few local shops across the way as well. The neighborhood (Kips Bay)has its own character for sure, but you can definitely see things are changing. The 99c store on the corner went out of business and now there's a Chase Bank branch coming, even though it is only a five minute walk to one that is already open. Is it really necessary? What the hell is going on?

From AM New York:

"It used to be a badge of honor to live in New York City, and we used to laugh at the people in the suburbs," said Jerilou Hammett, co-editor of the book "The Suburbanization of New York."

"Urban areas were all about diversity and the struggle of the creative individuals ... Now, other than little monikers like SoHo and NoHo, where is the uniqueness of most neighborhoods?"

Indeed, with the seemingly epidemic-scale disappearance of the longtime small shops and low-scale residential buildings that give neighborhoods texture, some are wondering whether the feel of New York has forever changed.

The Municipal Art Society is examining these issues with a new exhibit on the legendary city urbanist Jane Jacobs, who successfully blocked a highway from cutting through Greenwich Village in the 1960s and argued that a neighborhood's character is its most valuable asset. The exhibit and accompanying panel discussions look at the numbing qualities of gentrification, chain stores, and an influx of people who move to the city without a sense of its history.

The only difference between bank branches and Starbucks in New York as compared to burbs' is that there are generally ten to forty stories of offices and/or apartments above the stores. Even in my place of refuge in the city (Greenwich Village) you can see the crushing forces of gentrification on the horizon. The East Village is a shell of what it used to be and although I like Max Brenner's, there is nothing wrong with keeping stores like it out of our unique nabes.

The uniqueness of New York is one of its largest gems. Having a Starbucks and a bank on every corner while eventually erode the character of our city.

Condi Relents Over Blackwater

In a 180 degree maneuver, Secretary of State Rice overhauled the policy of how diplomatic convoys are guarded in Iraq. No longer will her pets at Blackwater have the right to guard visitors alone as they speed through town. Public and Congressional pressure was so overwhelming that the most stubborn Administration of all time has agreed to a change that gives more authority to our troops and less to mercenary groups, particularly Blackwater.

From The Los Angeles Times:

Under Rice's order, all convoys will be accompanied by official monitors from the department's Diplomatic Security Bureau, and video cameras will be mounted in vehicles. In addition, radio communication will be recorded and will be archived along with the video and electronic tracking data so diplomats can better review Blackwater's performance.

The order marks a sharp reversal for Rice and the State Department, which for weeks has maintained it has adequate controls in place to monitor Blackwater contractors, who accompany U.S. diplomatic officials as they travel in Iraq.

As recently as last week, John D. Negroponte, the department's second-highest official and the former U.S. ambassador to Iraq, defended the embassy's oversight of Blackwater, saying the contractor operated under strict standards monitored with "close" supervision by State officials.

Of course the State Department denies that supervision was inadequate before, so this must all just be a grand coincidence that the change is occurring now. The Pentagon has been up in arms (no pun intended) about the mercenary groups and soldiers talk about them as no other. The problem has been that there is no accountability when things go wrong. Often when there is an "unfortunate" incident, the State Department has covered up the tracks of Blackwater and others, such as the case of Andrew Moonen, who killed an Iraqi bodyguard while being intoxicated.

Things are FUBAR in Iraq, but when there is enough of an outcry, little bits of progress can be made. Though if it took that much effort to have a bit of supervision of Blackwater, what will it take to get the hell out of Iraq?

This Week's Top Ten Videos

Larry Craig's Protege Lives In Louisiana

Parish Councilman Joey DiFatta never made it to the big time like Larry Craig, in fact, he bowed out of a State Senate race in his home state of Louisiana. He was promising to defend conservative values from extreme liberal groups, whoever those are. Joey was going to clean up Louisiana but instead chose to leave politics, something completely foreign to the Senator from Idaho. Larry must be really be disappointed in his protege. Why use that word, protege? Ask the police.

From The Times Picaynue:

On Thursday, reports The Times-Picayune, Parish Councilman and GOP state Senate candidate Joey DiFatta, 53, denied that his dropping out of the Senate race had anything to do with documents outlining two encounters with police, who held him in suspicion of "lewd behavior" in public restrooms.

"The detective asked DiFatta, 'What do you want?' according to the report, and he replied, 'I want to play with you.'"

Police reports, found here in .PDF format, outline a 1996 "peeping Tom" encounter and a 2000 "toe-tapping" escapade, made fashionable more recently by embattled Idaho Senator Larry Craig. The 2000 report includes a comment made by the officer involved that DiFatta seemed "well-versed."

Joey claims that the reason he dropped out was due to elevated enzymes in his heart but I have a suspicion it might be something else. Maybe Joey realizes what a hypocrite he is. I can hope, can't I?

Friday, October 05, 2007

Cleaning Your Street Has Its Perks In NYC

Do you have a car in the city? Do you hate having to move it two or three times a week so that the street cleaners can come through? Well there is salvation for all of you automobile owners, and you can thank the Sanitation Department for that (and your respect for your street as well).


Under a new Sanitation Department plan, neighborhoods with really, really clean streets can receive a break from one of the greatest afflictions suffered by city car owners: the dreaded alternate side of the street parking regulations.

Last month, Brooklyn Community Board 6 -- the tree-lined residential brownstone areas of Red Hook, Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens and Park Slope—earned the parking perk by consistently scoring 90 percent or higher on the city's twice-monthly scorecard for street cleanliness.

No shifting from one side of the street to the other on Tuesdays, Thursday and Saturdays, an unpleasant slice of urban living parodied in a classic "Seinfeld" episode.

While no other city neighborhoods yet qualify for the plan, Sanitation spokesman Vito Turso said Friday that Sunset Park and Windsor Terrace in Brooklyn have expressed an interest and the city is considering it.

I think they should consider it for all neighborhoods in the city, not just a few in Brooklyn. The only catch is to have good street-hygiene. The plan is a win-win for New Yorkers and the city by reducing the costs of using those sweeping machines. Now the only question is, will your neighbors cooperate?

The Ron Paul Effect

Many Republicans try to dismiss the conservative libertarian, but Ron Paul's fundraising and more importantly his message might have an effect on the race, even if he doesn't become the Republican nominee.

NYC Prosecutor Shows The Holes In Case Against Rev. Billy

The case against Reverend Billy has to be one of the dumbest on the dockets of NYC courtrooms. The story starts with the Reverend reciting the First Amendment at a rally for the.....First Amendent, also known as the Critical Mass Bikeride. This apparently angered the NYPD on the scene so they charged him with two phony counts of harassment against the arresting officers. The video of the incident clearly shows he wasn't.

Not only did the NYPD arrest him, the city is trying to convict him of the charges. Prosecutor Mary Weisgerber couldn't even get a good case together for the hearing, so she requested a delay until October 15th. Here's what went down in court on Tuesday.

From The New York Times:

In court yesterday, the prosecutor told Judge Tanya Kennedy that Mr. Talen’s offense had been to shout the familiar lines beginning with “Congress shall make no law” while standing just three feet from the officers, and to ignore their requests to stop. The prosecutor, Mary Weisgerber, said his behavior was “obnoxious” by any standard.

“That’s not true,” Mr. Talen piped up.

Outside of court, Mr. Talen — who says that his lungs are like bullhorns because he has had operatic training — maintained that he was about 15 feet from the officers and that his account was supported by a videotape of the episode that has been preserved on YouTube.

Thankfully when court comes back into session there will be nothing that the city's Attorney will have to offer. The judge has already agreed with Public Advocate Norman Siegel that the case will be dismissed pending the next trial date.

What Happened To Ciara Durkin?

Until last week, Ciara Durkin was a finance specialist serving in the Massachusetts National Guard, stationed at Bagram AFB in Afghanistan. Then she was shot in the head and found dead outside the Air Force Base. This story would usually just be another casualty report from the Afghani front of the "war on terrorism" except for the fact of what she told her family when she was home last month in Quincy, MA.

From The Patriot Ledger:

Fiona Canavan, Durkin’s older sister, said today that when her sister was home three weeks ago, she told family members that she had come across some things that concerned her and had raised objections to others at the base.

‘‘She was in the finance unit and she said, ‘I discovered some things I don’t like and I made some enemies because of it.’ Then she said, in her light-hearted way, ‘If anything happens to me, you guys make sure it gets investigated,’’’ Canavan said. ‘‘But at the time we thought it was said more as a joke.’’


Her family was initially told that Durkin was killed in action on Friday. But on Monday, the family learned that she died about 6:30 p.m. of a single gunshot wound to the head in a non-combat situation.

Durkin had been assigned to a finance unit at the base since February. Her tour of duty had been scheduled to end in February.

Her younger brother, Pierce Durkin, said that because of the nature of the wound and the fact that the shooting happened under ‘‘curious’’ circumstances, the family decided to contact legislators.

So far those legislators, Senators Kerry and Kennedy and Representative Delahunt have not been able to find out anything from the Pentagon. So far they have lied to her family and the question is, why? What did Ciara know and who didn't want her to know that information? Durkin's death is eerily similar to the death of Pat Tillman, another soldier who was killed in Afghanistan where the army sought to cover up the true story of his death.

This case deserves an independent investigation and no more BS from the Pentagon.

Kids Strike Back!

CNN's Rob Marciano Ridicules Al Gore

First of all who is Rob Marciano? He got his B.S. from Cornell (that is impressive) and worked his way through little TV newscasts to get to CNN. Where he gets off giving commentary on climate change is besides me. Meteorology is not climatology and he does not have a good background to discuss such things as climate change and global warming. Nevertheless he took a pot shot at Al Gore yesterday.

From RawStory:

CNN reported on Thursday that a British judge has called Al Gore's Oscar-winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth unfit for schools "because it is politically biased and contains scientific inaccuracies and sentimental mush." British schools may now have to preface any showing of the film with a warning.

CNN meteorologist Rob Marciano responded to this story by applauding and saying,"Finally, finally," before commenting sarcastically that "the Oscars, they give out awards for fictional films as well."

Marciano said he objected in particular to the film's claim that global warming causes stronger hurricanes, noting that the current hurricane season has only been average.

That statement shows Marciano's ignorance about climatology. When it comes to climate change, not every year is going to have record breaking statistics. Even though there were a few so far in 2007. Just because there isn't a storm that every year that punishes the U.S. on Katrina levels, it doesn't mean we have a problem with global warming.

Also, just because a judge in Britain said something about how school should be taught across the pond does not give Rob the right to do or say anything on air in that fashion. Shame on you Marciano.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Thank You Larry Craig

To the chagrin of many Republicans and the joy of Democrats, Larry Craig has committed to stay in his Senate seat as a "representative" of Idaho. I couldn't be happier frankly. The longer he hangs in there, the longer the story goes on. Tourist business at the Minneapolis Int'l Airport will remain brisk and Republicans will be glued to the stigma of corruption for just a little longer (in relation to this story only, the other corrupted Republicans not included).

From The Huffington Post:

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Idaho Senator Larry Craig issued the following statement in reaction to today's ruling by the State of Minnesota District Court Fourth Judicial District allowing the guilty plea to stand:

"I am extremely disappointed with the ruling issued today. I am innocent of the charges against me. I continue to work with my legal team to explore my additional legal options.

"I will continue to serve Idaho in the United States Senate, and there are several reasons for that. As I continued to work for Idaho over the past three weeks here in the Senate, I have seen that it is possible for me to work here effectively.

"Over the course of my three terms in the Senate and five terms in the House, I have accumulated seniority and important committee assignments that are valuable to Idaho, not the least of which are my seats on the Appropriations Committee, the Energy and Natural Resources Committee and the Veterans' Affairs Committee. A replacement would be highly unlikely to obtain these posts.

"In addition, I will continue my effort to clear my name in the Senate Ethics Committee - something that is not possible if I am not serving in the Senate.

"When my term has expired, I will retire and not seek reelection. I hope this provides the certainty Idaho needs and deserves."

This is definitely NOT something Idaho needs and deserves. He only brings shame and ridicule to the Gem State. At least for them he'll be gone in a little over a year, but until then he will be an embarrassment to himself, Idaho and the U.S. Senate. His guilty plea signifies actions unbecoming of a Senator and initially he was right to resign. Unfortunately he will continue to disgrace Washington in his own unique way.

Log Cabin Republicans For The Romney Of The 1990s

This is definitely one ad that Romney will not endorse, even though it was made by Republicans, for a Republican.

What The Hell Is A Dipnote?

In the jargon of the State Department, a dipnote is basically a Diplomatic Note for short. Nothing too shocking there. What is a shocker is that it is also the name of their brand spanking new blog. Yes folks, the State Department has joined the blogosphere. What does that mean exactly? Well perhaps it means we regular people can have discussions with actual representatives of the people who work in the "foggy bottom."

The Department of State has been in the news lately due to its enabling of Blackwater USA and helping them to cover up the atrocities committed by the mercenary group headed by war profiteer Erik Prince. But the DOS isn't all bad. There are plenty of good people that work there that are committed to working with countries across the globe. The problem is mainly at the top and particularly due to Bushophile named Condoleezza Rice.

So what is the Dipnote up to so far? Lately they have discussed the Burmese situation, goings on in Budapesht and exactly what the blog is all about. There was supposed to be something about Blackwater, but that 2nd post never materialized evidently. The blog is nice, but if the DOS thinks this is going to solve their problems, they might want to be more forthcoming with Congress and the American people besides having a comment section.

FBI Goes Independent In Iraq

When yesterday's news hit that the FBI would be investigating Blackwater's activities while being guarded by the enterprise under scrutiny many people got suspicious. Thankfully the FBI understood the obvious problem and get this, they fixed it. It is amazing that something can work in any department under the Federal government but alas, it can actually happen.

From RawStory:

"The FBI team deployed from Washington to assist the State Department in the investigation of the events of Sept. 16 will have any additional security needs provided by U.S. government personnel," Miller added.

"The plan had been for Blackwater to fill this role," an official briefed on the FBI mission told the News.

Yesterday, a senior official said, "What happens when the FBI team decides to go visit the crime scene? Blackwater is going to have to take them there."

Senate Judiciary Chairman Pat Leahy (D-VT) also wrote the bureau a letter deriding their decision to have Blackwater guard their own investigation. Dropping the firm, he said, "would help alleviate the appearance of a conflict of interest and hopefully contribute to the credibility of this investigation in the eyes of the Iraqi people."

With a little prodding from the Congress and using common sense, we can have accountability in our government. It may be hard to do at first since there has been zero accountability in recent years, but we can still reach for ideal situations to counter the ridiculous and criminal behavior that has been fostered under the Bush Administration.

Robert Greenwald Vs. Frank Gaffney On Blackwater

Chevron's Passive Support Of Brutality In Burma

Here's another reason why I am so happy to not drive anymore. Forget the headaches caused by traffic, gasoline costs, repair shops and insurance. What oil companies do to get their product is obscene. They'll ruin any picturesque landscape, bribe any government and in the case of Burma, support the military's cruel dictatorship over the country.

From The Blotter:

The oil companies, who have argued their business in Myanmar helps its citizens, have expressed concern over the crackdown -- and kept their operations going.

U.S.-based Chevron and France's Total, which jointly operate the Yadana natural gas pipeline, issued statements in the last week, expressing "deep concerns" about the situation in Myanmar and calling for a "peaceful resolution."


Most of Myanmar's residents are not able to read the statements at the moment. The junta owns the country's telecommunications firms, and on Friday reportedly cut off Internet access for all computers in the country that did not belong to the regime.

Human rights activists urge the oil companies to take a principled stand.

"They need to strongly condemn what the government is doing and make their voices heard," said Arvind Ganesan, director of Business and Human Rights Program at Human Rights Watch. "Being silent isn't constructive engagement."

No amount of PR can save Chevron and other oil giants from their complicity in the situation in Burma. Their operations feed the military junta with money that goes towards the suppression of the Burmese people. It goes towards the weapons that have killed hundreds, if not thousands of peaceful monks. And for decades, it has stopped Burma from being the democracy it yearns to be.

McCain Hates Kids Too

Apparently John McCain is not satisfied with his attempts at sabotaging his own campaign. One of the reasons many attribute his downfall over the spring and summer months was his devotion to George Bush and the war. Since he is still technically in the race, it seems he thought one last blow might do him in. What better way to endorse a failed Presidency than to snub poor kids along with George?

From CNN:

"Right call by the president," the Republican White House hopeful told CNN's John King. "We've laid a debt on these same children ... that we're saying we're going to give health insurance to."

The bill, which would cost $35 billion over five years, is meant to expand the State Children's Health Insurance Program to provide coverage to an additional 10 million children.

Bush said he vetoed the bill because he considered it a step towards "federalizing" medicine and an inappropriately expanding the program's goal beyond its original focus on helping poor children.

Hmmm, where do I start with this? Using the talking point that the bill is meant to help only the really, really poor children is ridiculous. Due to the skyrocketing costs of health insurance, it is impossible to afford it even if you are in the middle class, let alone near the poverty line.

As for the costs? Thirty-five billion over five years is a drop in the bucket compared to lost revenue from Bush's tax cuts and not even close to the costs of Bush's disastrous war in Iraq. It isn't hard to see that $35 billion for poor kids is a lot less than hundreds of billions for a pointless war. The fact that he calls this a debt on our children.....where the f**k does he get off trying to use that as a reason. As a Senator that approved and approves of this war, the tax cuts and many other drains on the treasury, he has no right to talk about putting debts on our children.

McCain may not be ashamed of his actions but the nation assuredly is.

Olbermann On The Blackwater Investigation...And Cover Up

Another amazing story surrounding the Bush Administration, it is almost mind-numbing. Thankfully we have someone that can put this on primetime TV.

Now Can We Impeach Him?

What will it take to get justice served in this country? Vetoing SCHIP was just heartless, not impeachable. Violating laws on torture doesn't seem to be doing much besides making a few headlines. What if we caught him illegally torturing children? Would Congress just shake its head and go back to their own business? Seriously what will it take, because this down below is just an official stamp on old news.

From The New York Times:

WASHINGTON, Oct. 3 — When the Justice Department publicly declared torture “abhorrent” in a legal opinion in December 2004, the Bush administration appeared to have abandoned its assertion of nearly unlimited presidential authority to order brutal interrogations.

But soon after Alberto R. Gonzales’s arrival as attorney general in February 2005, the Justice Department issued another opinion, this one in secret. It was a very different document, according to officials briefed on it, an expansive endorsement of the harshest interrogation techniques ever used by the Central Intelligence Agency.

The new opinion, the officials said, for the first time provided explicit authorization to barrage terror suspects with a combination of painful physical and psychological tactics, including head-slapping, simulated drowning and frigid temperatures.

If anything, Gonzales should be tried for war crimes in The Hague. Bush, Cheney and the rest of them would be right behind them for actions that began far before Gonzales' term as Attorney General. What they truly deserve is something that no earthly presence can bestow. But what I want to know is how dark must one's heart be to approve this behavior despite knowing the difference between right and wrong.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

NYC Takes Its First Step To Save Jamaica Bay

Studies and your very own eyes have shown that the marshes of Jamaica Bay have been steadily disappearing over the years. At this point in time the rate has been quickly increasing and many groups have cried out for something to be done. Well the City of New York finally answered and initiated a few measures to curb the problem.

From WNYC:

Jamaica Bay is steadily losing its salt marsh islands because of pollution from local development and dirty water from sewage treatment plants. Following a local law enacted two years ago, the city has now come up with a plan to save the endangered 39 square mile water body.

A big priority is cutting back on nitrogen from the two nearby treatment plants. It's also going to introduce oysters and mussels into the bay, which filter water naturally. To cut back on stormwater runoff, the city is planting more trees in the area and giving local residents rainwater barrels for their rooftops.

But some environmentalists question whether the plan goes far enough. The Natural Resources Defense Council praised the efforts, but says they will only get the city halfway toward meeting its goal of reducing nitrogen discharges by 20 thousand pounds a day.

Oysters and buckets sound nice, but the key to this problem is fixing the treatment plants. Our environment deserves better. Cutting ten thousand pounds of nitrogen is substantial but will only slow the inevitable end of the salt marshes. Unless we want them to disappear forever more needs to be done.

They May Be Innocent But You Know Better

Now follow the message and do your part, these kids deserve better.

Taxicab Strike Set For October 22nd

Strike No.2 for (some of) the cabbies of New York City. After the first strike last month and the failed attempt in the courts didn't work, the NY Taxi Workers Alliance voted unanimously (500 votes out of 13,000 drivers in the city) to stop their meters and sit the day out on the sides of the avenues, streets and highways. The difference this time is that there is more to the strike. Union workers want health care, union rights and a pension fund. Those are all admirable items that workers should have, but after the last couple months of PR battles, cabbies have been on the losing end and getting to the top of this hill is a longshot.

From AM New York:

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the city will probably institute a contingency plan again. Last time, passengers shared cabs for flat fares. He also reiterated Tuesday that drivers agreed to the technology years ago when fares were raised.

"I've never thought that strikes lead any place," Michael Bloomberg said.

Another work action would be no more effective in bargaining with the Taxi & Limousine Commission or city than the last one, said Edward Rogoff, a Baruch College management professor who's studied the taxi industry.

"If it doesn't have a significant chance of winning, which it doesn't, it doesn't help anyone," he said.

There are others that believe in the cause and that the Alliance "holds weight" but personally I fail to see it. Bloomberg is wrong to say that strikes aren't effective but in this particular case I agree. The additional requests by the cab drivers are valid but this whole brouhaha makes the new developments look like a PR stunt.

Racist Louisiana College Kids Ain't That Bright

Prejudice is an obvious sign of ignorance and several white college kids in Monroe, Louisiana proved that with a ridiculous stunt not too long ago. Apparently to them, it was funny to smear mud on themselves in order to "re-enact" what they thought happened with the Jena 6. Of course it didn't stop there. With pictures and videos in hand, they posted this material to Kristy Smith's page on Facebook. It seems like these young racists do not know that when something is posted on the Internets, its there forever, even when you try to erase it later on.

From The Smoking Gun (click for the video):

OCTOBER 2--A group of white Louisiana college students dressed in blackface and reenacted the "Jena 6" assault while a friend snapped photos and videotaped the staged attack, images that were later posted to a participant's Facebook page. The photos, which you'll find on the following pages, were taken late last month on the bank of the Red River, where students from the University of Louisiana at Monroe giddily acted out the racial attack. The photos (and the short video clip at right) were posted to the Facebook page of Kristy Smith, a freshman nursing student. The album of images was entitled "The Jena 6 on the River." In the video, three students with mud smeared across their bodies stomp on a fourth student, while two of the participants are heard to say, "Jena 6." One man can also be heard saying, "Niggers put the noose on." After the video and photos on Smith's page were discovered by fellow students, she removed the material and made her Facebook page private. Smith, who did not respond to a TSG e-mail sent to her school address, apologized for the images in several recent Facebook postings. "We were just playin n the mud and it got out of hand. I promise i'm not racist. i have just as many black friends as i do white. And i love them to death," she wrote. She added in a later message that her friends "were drinking" and things "got a lil out of hand." When faced with heated online criticism from fellow students, Smith yanked the photos and video from Facebook, but not before one student downloaded the photos and another videotaped the video directly from her computer screen (and then posted the clip on YouTube).

Like I said before, they just ain't that bright. Now we'll see if the University's Administration will take any kind of action against these students. Somehow, I think I'd be surprised if anything happened to these little racists.

The Situation In Burma

Information about the crisis in Burma is hard to come by, especially because the military dictatorship is trying hard to let images like this out. At least there is a trickle like the video below.....hopefully someone with the power to stop this insane brutality will stop to notice.

Chertoff Shoves His Foot In His Mouth

Homeland Creating Insecurities Secretary Michael Chertoff may not have realized it but he stuck his foot in his mouth and might never get it out. He spoke about the border Monday and how he sees that environmental issues are negatively affected by immigrants, not the giant (and idiotic) fence under construction. To him, the fence actually helps the environment.

From The Contra Costa Times:

"Illegal migrants really degrade the environment. I've seen pictures of human waste, garbage, discarded bottles and other human artifact in pristine areas," Chertoff said in a telephone interview. "And believe me, that is the worst thing you can do to the environment."

To curb illegal immigration, the U.S. government plans to complete 670 miles of fencing on the southwest border by the end of 2008.

But this has drawn complaints about damaging the cross-border economy and hurting the environment.

Wildlife enthusiasts fear the natural wonders of the Rio Grande Valley in Texas could be spoiled by fences and barriers and could harm some animals by cutting them off from the only source of fresh water.

Chertoff will also ensure that no one goes to court by invoking an environmental waiver passed by the 109th Congress. Not only does this statement show his ignorance about environmental studies in the Southwest, he obviously doesn't understand much when it comes to immigration and the border.

See, people are going to cross no matter what. Even if it takes five times to successfully make the harsh journey. Even if Chertoff talks his ass off about how the fence will solve everything. Economic realities in the world will trump political bullshit and xenophobia anyday. As long as there is a demand for immigrant labor and people in Latin America willing to meet that demand, no fence will stop that from happening.

Bush Wields The Veto Over Helpless Children

Well now it's official, Bush actually carried through with a pledge to keep health care away from children. Through no fault of their own, millions of young kids will go without the benefits of health insurance. SCHIP is already a successful program but that didn't matter to our benevolent President today.

From The Huffington Post:

WASHINGTON — President Bush, in a confrontation with Congress, on Wednesday vetoed a bipartisan bill that would have dramatically expanded children's health insurance.

It was only the fourth veto of Bush's presidency, and one that some Republicans feared could carry steep risks for their party in next year's elections. The Senate approved the bill with enough votes to override the veto, but the margin in the House fell short of the required number.

The White House sought as little attention as possible, with the president wielding his veto behind closed doors without any fanfare or news coverage.

There may not have been a party at the White House for this, but the champagne is surely flowing at places like Blue Cross/Blue Shield and HMOs across the country. At least the Senate has enough members to override the veto, but House Republicans should be ashamed that their caucus cannot agree to protect children over the President's faithfulness to his friends in the health insurance business. How they can ever look children in the eye again is besides me. I hope the GOP pays a high price for this cruel act during next year's elections.

VoteVets Slams Rush Limbaugh

Jon Stewart Trashes Tweetie's Book To His Face

Chris Matthews is the epitome of inside-the-beltway punditry. He is the pundit's pundit. He goes to the cocktail parties, knows the politicians and more importantly tries to be friends with them as well. They use him for their talking points and once in a while, to his credit he'll ask a tough question or two. But he is no journalist. Now he has a book about life being a campaign, appropriately titled "Life's A Campaign."

Thankfully we have Jon Stewart in our lives to dissect the book, have a chance to interview Tweety and promptly bash him for his thesis that we should all live our lives like we are on the campaign trail. Campaigns are fun (for me at least) but they shouldn't rule our lives.

From RawStory:

"What you are saying is, people can use what politicians do in political campaigns to help their lives. ... That strikes me as fundamentally wrong," Stewart said at the opening of the interview. "It strikes me as a self-hurt book, if you will. Aren't campaigns fundamentally contrivances?"

Matthews extolled the virtues of listening and insisted that people can learn much about success from the tools employed in successful political campaigns.

"It's always a campaign," Matthews said. "It's a campaign to get the girl of your dreams; it's a campaign to do everything you want to do in life."

"But there has to be some core of soul in there," Stewart retorted. "What campaigns are, are photo opportunities that are staged, and there's nothing in this book about, 'Be good; be competent.'"

Matthews said that information was in the Bible -- "it's been written," he said.

"This book has been written too, it's called The Prince," Stewart retorted, referring to Machiavelli's treatise. "I thought that (your book) was a recipe for sadness. ... If you live this book, your life will be strategy, and ... you'll be unhappy."

Comparing Matthew to Machiavelli? I don't know who is hurt more by that statement.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Rudy Goes Xenophobic Wit The Help Of A Philly Cheesesteak

When the bigots and racists threaten to bolt the GOP if Giuliani gets the nomination, the hopeful needs to take serious action. No, not to cheer for a possible return to some form of moderate Republican base. In fact, Rudy wants to keep them, and he'll lower himself as far as it takes to include the most hateful rightwingers.

From Attytood:

Rudy Giuliani is finally going to talk about something besides 9/11 (actually, that's a guess, and we'll probably be proven wrong), and he's coming to 2008-election-ignored Philadelphia to do it. On a day when social conservatives and the far right are increasingly worried that the former New York mayor is too liberal on their cultural issues, Giuliani will visit Geno's in South Philly, all so he can order a cheesesteak in front of a sign that says: "This is America -- When Ordering, Speak English."

Immediately below the sign, it says "Management Reserves the Right to Refuse Service."

Just a coincidence, owner Joey Vento will tell you.

Just like it's a coincidence that Giuliani would bring his presidential campaign for a non-fundraising event in a state where the votes don't really count, since our 2008 presidential primary is in April, long after the front-loaded (and majorly screwed up) nomination process will be decided. Of course, this comes as some far-right Republicans say they'll support a third party if it looks like front-runner Giuliani will get the nomination, because of his stands on issues like abortion...and immigration.

There really is no point to go to Geno's anyways. Jim's is by the best. The only reason he went was for a xenophobic photo-op. Best of luck with the rabid wingers Rudy.

Eric Massa Backs Up Harry Reid On Rush

Eric Massa must be a phony soldier, since he is against this awful war. Forget nearly thirty years of service to the Navy and combat experience in Vietnam, to Rush, you are either for us (the Bush Administration) or helping the terrorists. Massa not only calls Rush on his bullshit, he challenges him to let him on the Limbaugh show.

Anita Hill Hits Back

Back when the better Bush was in office (doesn't say much) he nominated Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court bench. The confirmation process was riveting to say the least. The nation watched with amazement as pubic hairs on soda cans made it into the discussion. Nearly twenty years later Thomas came out with a book and he doesn't spare a single liberal, including Anita Hill. Well she didn't let him have the last word, the nation (circa 2007) deserves to hear both sides.

From RawStory:

"I stand by my testimony."

So writes Anita Hill in Tuesday's New York Times, the woman whose sexual harrassment charges unsettled the nomination hearings of Clarence Thomas some 16 years ago.

Addressing his new book, “My Grandfather’s Son," Hill, a Brandeis sociology professor currently in residence at Wellesley, writes, "I will not stand by silently and allow him, in his anger, to reinvent me."

"Justice Thomas offers a litany of unsubstantiated representations and outright smears that Republican senators made about me when I testified before the Judiciary Committee — that I was a “combative left-winger” who was “touchy” and prone to overreacting to “slights,” she says. "A number of independent authors have shown those attacks to be baseless. What’s more, their reports draw on the experiences of others who were familiar with Mr. Thomas’s behavior, and who came forward after the hearings. It’s no longer my word against his."

Like any conservative nut, Thomas clearly forgets the facts that get in the way of portraying himself as a victim. He used racial stereotypes as an excuse for his ridiculous (and illegal) behaviors, not to mention judicial opinions that even make Justice Scalia blush. Blaming his woes on the media isn't going to work either. Black people are ashamed of him and so are many others, including me.

Media Ignores Romney's Connection To Blackwater

Mitt Romney hasn't said much of anything about the savage activities about Blackwater USA and he has a good reason not to. His counter-terrorism chief, Cofer Black works for them as Vice Chairman. Just a little conflict of interest if you know what I'm saying. Now why won't the news media talk about this side story?

From Media Matters:

In a September 17 article, the Associated Press reported that Iraq's Interior Ministry "ordered Blackwater USA, the security firm that protects U.S. diplomats, to stop work and leave the country after the fatal shooting of eight Iraqi civilians following a car bomb attack against a State Department convoy." The article noted that "vice chairman Cofer Black, a former director of the CIA's counterterrorism center, declined to comment when reached at his Virginia home." But there was no mention in the article that Black was named the head of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's counterterrorism policy advisory group on September 13, according to a press release that day from the Romney campaign. Similarly, in their coverage of Blackwater USA, none of the networks -- ABC, NBC, or CBS -- reported Romney's connections to Black during the nightly news broadcasts on September 17. Additionally, neither ABC's Good Morning America nor NBC's Today noted the connection in their reports during the broadcasts on September 18. The September 18 edition of CBS' The Early Show did not report on Blackwater USA at all.

The Romney campaign press release, which was noted by a September 13 Boston Globe article, quoted Black saying, "Governor Romney recognizes the threats before us and has already laid out the policies needed to give our men and women the tools they need to protect our country."

A September 17 Kansas City Star article reported on Romney's hiring of Black, but did not note Black's role as vice chairman of Blackwater USA.

As MM continues, only Ana Marie Cox mentioned it on her Time Magazine blog. A simple search on Google or Lexis-Nexis can bring up that interesting piece of Presidential campaigning news, yet everyone is stunningly silent. Maybe if Keith Olbermann mentions it, we can hear some echoes in the lame-stream media.

Where There Is A Need To Protest, The Music Follows

Even though I can't understand the words, I feel the passion from Myogyi'Natesaduwa and his song about the Junta that brutally oppresses the people of Burma. The images aren't even that bad compared to what is happening there right now but the message gets across.

AT and T Proves We Need Net Neutrality

I am glad I didn't sign up for AT and T's service at home. Hopefully Verizon won't be as cruel as them. If anyone wants to speak freely on the Internets (about their carrier) they reserve the right to ban people from logging on. I kid you not.

From Scholars and Rogues:

Slashdot broke the news on Saturday that ATT’s updated terms of service for its high-speed Internet packages essentially forbid you from criticizing the company on pain of cancellation. The full terms of service are here, and here’s the offending passage highlighted, courtesy of Ars Technica:

ATT may immediately terminate or suspend all or a portion of your Service, any Member ID, electronic mail address, IP address, Universal Resource Locator or domain name used by you, without notice, for conduct that AT&T believes (a) violates the Acceptable Use Policy; (b) constitutes a violation of any law, regulation or tariff (including, without limitation, copyright and intellectual property laws) or a violation of these TOS, or any applicable policies or guidelines, or (c) tends to damage the name or reputation of ATT, or its parents, affiliates and subsidiaries.

This is the exact kind of overbroad legalese that gets companies in trouble in ways they probably never thought of. If I am an ATT subscriber, for example, and I post derogatory comments about AT&T on a site they own, does this give them leave to terminate my service? What if I post or send a complaint about ATT to a complaint site or consumer news site, like ConsumerAffairs.Com (whom I write for), and they publish said complaint? Am I liable if I was using my ATT ISP while writing said complaint? What if I did so while using my laptop at a Wi-Fi hotspot? The mind boggles.

It isn't boggling, only the sound of increasing corporate power in our country. It isn't the government we need to be afraid of (neo-cons withstanding), the corporations have far too much influence in the halls of Congress and subsequently in society.

No Dildos In Decatur

In case you haven't been to Alabama recently, you might not know that it is illegal to sell items that are meant as "useful primarily for the stimulation of human genital organs for anything of pecuniary value." Pecuniary, now you don't hear that word very often. They may be able to use big words down in the Alabama legislature (and now the courts as well) but obviously the First Amendment isn't held in very high regard.

From the AP:

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — The U.S. Supreme Court declined Monday to hear a challenge to Alabama's ban on the sale of sex toys, ending a nine-year legal battle and sending a warning to store owners to clean off their shelves.

An adult-store owner had asked the justices to throw out the law as an unconstitutional intrusion into the privacy of the bedroom. But the Supreme Court declined to hear the appeal, leaving intact a lower court ruling that upheld the law.

Sherri Williams, owner of Pleasures stores in Huntsville and Decatur, said she was disappointed, but plans to sue again on First Amendment free speech grounds.

"My motto has been they are going to have to pry this vibrator from my cold, dead hand. I refuse to give up," she said.

Now that's what I call patriotism. "Give me dildos or give me death."

Harry Reid Engages Rush Limbaugh On The Senate Floor

Majority Leader Reid got up on the Senate floor to condemn Rush Limbaugh for his unpatriotic and callous comments about the majority of our soldiers. Of course Rush being Rush, he quickly snipped back, lying with every little bark.

You Can't Win With 29 Percent

Fred Thompson must be in a time warp, its the only excuse I can come up with for his brand of lunacy. Doesn't he know that believing there are WMDs in Iraq is so 2003? Not that any clearly thinking person who knew anything about Iraq didn't know that back then, but sometimes it takes a little while for the public to catch on.

Fortunately for Thompson, there is a base he can turn to, the faithful 29 percent. Those 29 percenters still believe the lies that come out of Dick Cheney and George Bush's mouth. Damn, they might even believe that we are still in the last throes of the insurgency.

From The Des Moines Register:

“We can’t forget the fact that although at a particular point in time we never found any WMD down there, he clearly had had WMD. He clearly had had the beginnings of a nuclear program,” Thompson told an audience of about 60 at a Newton cafe.

Thompson later said he was referring Saddam’s attack on Kurdish northern Iraq with banned weapons in the 1980s.

“He acknowledged, I think, in filings made by the United Nations that prior to the invasion — sometime prior to the invasion — that he had chemical and biological weapons,” Thompson said in a Des Moines Register interview. “I mean he used chemical weapons on the Kurds.”

Having WMDs in the 1980s is a given, since you know, we gave them the chemical and biological weapons. Saddam used them on the Kurds and no one batted an eye in the then-Reagan Administration. In 2003 he was out of gas (no pun intended) but Bush wanted blood anyway.

Fred endorsed that thinking yesterday. He still wants us in there. To extend our military beyond what it can take. Our forces are stretched too thin and you know, we could be doing so much better. I was reading about Burma last night, and I thought, if only we could help prevent this massacre unfolding right before our very eyes. Yet, there is no outrage from the Republican candidates. George Bush decried them at the UN last week, but he has the power to help stop the tragedy.

It is a shame for those dead monks there is no oil or even "WMDs" in Burma.

Monday, October 01, 2007

NY And Others Taking SCHIP To The Courts

George Bush may want to take away health care for children simply because it is a "government program," but that isn't stopping several states (including our own) from going to court to stop his villainous efforts. Not only is Bush threatening to veto the extension of the bill, he is trying to stop the program from working as it is now.

From The New York Times:

In August, federal health officials informed states that they could no longer receive federal matching funds for children in families living above 250 percent of the poverty level, except under special conditions that the states say would be almost impossible to meet. Three weeks ago the federal health officials denied a request by New York to insure more children by covering those in families with incomes up to 400 percent of the poverty rate, or $82,600 for a family of four.

“Despite every effort to negotiate in good faith, the Bush administration did nothing but put roadblocks and poison pills in our path,” Governor Spitzer said at a news conference yesterday. “The president was out of touch with the reality on the ground.”

Mr. Spitzer said that Maryland, Illinois and Washington would join New York in the lawsuit, with Arizona, California and New Hampshire filing amicus briefs in the case. He has argued that the new rules violate the intent of the federal law that created the children’s insurance program in 1997.

The feds that run the program assert they only want the poorest kids to be in front of the line, but the funds are meant to cover all families that qualify as the legislation dictates. The President is essentially failing his constitutional duty to faithfully carry out and execute the law of the land. One more notch in the bastard's belt so far. It is amazing he executes anything that the legislative branch signs into law anymore.

Sy Hersh Talks About Bush's Plans For Iran

This is nothing short of scary. Sy knows his stuff when it comes to Bush and Iran and I am hoping that the pulitzer prize winner is wrong. I hope his credibility is torn to pieces. If it isn't, then we are all truly phucked.

Spitzer Stands Up For Transit Workers Union

Spitzer showed himself to be a Democratic Governor today by announcing his support for the Transit Workers Union. There is nothing better than a strong collective workforce when you want to bargain for fair pay and good treatment. As Attorney General he angered the brass of the TWU by stripping them of automatic deductions from workers' checks to pay for dues but that seems like it might come to an end. He has agreed that they should be able to collect the money to remain fiscally secure.

From The Daily News:

In a move sure to spark controversy, Spitzer will support the financially struggling TWU Local 100 if it seeks to win back the right to automatically deduct dues from workers' paychecks, according to a labor leader familiar with the governor's plan.

"The governor is trying to position himself to see a productive collective-bargaining season in 2008," the union leader said, noting that the historically bad relationship between the TWU and the MTA has long complicated contract talks.

"He'll take the public relations hit now because at the end of the contract, he doesn't want to go through that kind of problem again," the leader concluded. "He's positioning himself, putting himself and the MTA in a better position for the future."

Yeah the MTA will be pissed, but sometimes you need to act for everyone's own good. The men and women that keep our trains and buses humming deserve the best conditions out there. The people at the top of the MTA often do not have it all together, something that helped prompt the strike two years ago. If the TWU can sit up straighter at next year's round of talks to renegotiate their contracts, that will not only help transit workers' future, it will keep the MTA working as smoothly as possible.

Forget The Sinking Dollar, We've Got Guns And Bombs And Stuff

Now that our dollar is worth the same thing as a northern dollar we as Americans need to pride ourselves on something other than an economic powerhouse. Watching Disney movies in dozen of different languages around the world is nice, but we aren't all in kindergarten or elementary school. So instead we rely on our weaponry and the world (those that buy arms) love us for it. In fact, we have the market cornered.

From RawStory:

The United States reaffirmed last year its leadership in world arms trade, cornering nearly 42 percent of the market as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan prompted a weapons shopping spree among neighboring nations, according to a congressional report set to be released Monday.

But the overall volume of weapons trade shrunk almost 13 percent, dealing a blow to France and other Western European suppliers, which are facing stiff competition from across the Atlantic, said the Congressional Research Service in its annual survey of international arms sales.

The United States ranked first in international arms transfer agreements last year, concluding 16.9 billion dollars worth of them and securing 41.9 percent of the market, according to the report.

The total represented a 3.4-billion-dollar increase over 2005.

Well at least some part of our economy is doing well, too bad the money goes to wealthy defense contractors.

William Kristol And Fox News Hates Kids Too

Kristol jokes about hating kids, but their is some truth in his twisted humor. The fact is, George Bush and his neo-con friends do not want kids from low-income backgrounds to have health insurance because....well....the government program on the books works, and private health care doesn't.

NY Dems In "Red" Long Island

It is all about location, location, location to the state party of New York Democrats and it definitely showed today. The annual meeting was held in Garden City out in Nassau County and the city was abuzz with Democrats. The whole idea is that Long Island is becoming more purple these days and is as ripe as the upstate apples for Democrats to win back seats in the State Senate. We need three more seats for a majority and there are several Republicans out there to choose from. Craig Johnson proved this past February that victory is possible and state Dems are out to prove it can be replicated.

For far too long, Joe Bruno and friends have wielded their power over the "blue" state with their cronyism and overall corruptive behavior. Now it is true that some Democrats do the same while up in Albany. That is even more reason that we need progressive candidates to run for office to kick the bums out, whether they have a "D" or an "R" after their name.

And for good measure, the Presidential candidates each had their own table out in the hallways. What is a party meeting without looking at the races higher up the ballot? According to the NY Times, Hillary and Edwards' table was a dull scene, especially when comparing them to rockstar candidate Barack Obama. I would have loved to go out and see all the festivities, but sometimes work gets in the way.

Another Taxi Strike?

After last month's "crippling" strike and a rejection for a temporary block on GPS trackers by the Federal court, NYC might be in for another round from a few yellow cabs that want to lose business by striking. The Taxi Workers Alliance is on the losing end of a battle to have credit card machines and GPS trackers in their cabs.

Some cabs have already installed the machines despite the cries from the union. There are reports that some cabbies have had declined cards after the passenger jumps out but that can be fixed without throwing out the machines. You can't just swipe and run at businesses around the city, so why should that have to be an issue in the cabs.

Another argument, the argument really, is that this is all an invasion of privacy instituted by the city. Now to that I say tough. The cabs are working because of the city's issuance of their medallions. If such drivers want to buy an old towncar and become gypsy cabs, then by all means, go ahead. New Yorkers trust yellow cabs because they are (more or less) regulated by the city. The GPS units afford customers more accountability when riding in a cab and that is a good thing.

We Are Livin' In The Future

If only I had known Friday morning, I would have been up at Rockefeller Center to hear Bruce's free concert. He played some old favorites and from his new album. This new one is called "Livin in the future" and the words ring so true. What is happening to this country under the Bush Administration sounds like something out of a strange science fiction story, unfortunately it is our reality.

GOP Wants Craig Gone In The Worst Way

To the Democrats delight, disgraced Senator Larry Craig continues to hang on past his "deadline" to resign from the Senate. As long as he remains in the Senate we can harp on him and he'll be one more reminder of the Republican party's culture of corruption and hypocrisy. Standing up against hate crimes legislation to protect gays while being one himself highlights the sheer lunacy of the GOP. Well the Republican leadership has the brains to recognize this, and they'll do whatever it takes to rid themselves of the Craig saga.

From The Washington Post:

Sen. Larry Craig of Idaho is a tough guy to run out of town.

Not that his Republican colleagues aren't trying. Worried that the disgraced lawmaker intends to remain in the Senate indefinitely, they are threatening to notch up the public humiliation by seeking an open ethics hearing on the restroom scandal that enveloped Craig last month.

The Senate hearing would examine the original charges in Craig's case, including the allegation of "interference with privacy," for peeping into the bathroom stall occupied by an undercover police officer. One senior Republican aide imagined "witnesses, documents, all in front of the klieg lights." The committee also could look for "a pattern of conduct" -- which means combing court records in other locales to discover whether Craig had prior arrests that haven't come to light.

When your friends turn against you like this it must be hard to endure. Larry is a persistent fellow though, he wants to hold on to his power no matter how shameful it is. Who knows how his wife feels, living the lie alongside her husband. The people of Idaho must be ashamed they elected this hypocrite and the country laughs at him while shaking our collective heads at the whole fiasco. Well, I am ready to keep laughing, too bad the GOP doesn't find it as funny as I do.