Saturday, October 27, 2007

Shovels And Politics: Why I'm Afraid Hillary Might Have This In The Bag

Hillary has been the media's favorite since the get-go. Their narrative has sickened me to no end. Even though it concerns me, the whole idea of having two families control the Presidency for 24-28 years is not the reason why I oppose her candidacy.

She is the farthest thing from a leader I have ever seen and believes that lobbyists represent the people instead of the corporations that pay their salaries. The thing that gets me most, besides her stand on the war she is most likely going to continue the unitary executive ideology that George Bush has enacted during his god awful Presidency. Oh and don't get me started on her 180 degree turn on health care either.

Nevertheless, the other two candidates with at least a slim shot of winning continue to pick up their respective shovels and dig themselves even further into the ground.

Besides Al Gore (who has decided not to run) my top choice has been John Edwards. Although he isn't perfect (who is?) John has continued to display leadership abilities even though he can not act on them as a Senator anymore. He has stuck to his central theme of fighting poverty by highlighting the ongoing disaster/aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and consistently brings ideas that are copied by his rivals. Many unions support his efforts as do a whole host of internet followers but....he took the whispers being a third leg and shouted them out loud by agreeing to accept public financing. Now he hardly ranks in the polls (even falling from 1st place in Iowa) and his fundraising has trailed off as well.

Then there is Barack Obama. The media loved to tout him as Hillary's main challenger with his "Hopeful" message but there hasn't been much to his words besides the charisma that oozes out of each syllable. Now that the primaries are nearing that message has turned into an attack on Hillary, furthering showing her as the candidate to beat. Her numbers and polls are showing her gaining distance on Obama even as he ratchets up the anti-Hillary message. Apparently he wasn't satisfied with his low numbers so he has committed and re-committed to campaign with an open homophobe despite getting serious flack for it. That stuff may get play with wingnuts, but not with more open-minded and compassionate Democratic voters.

So as Obama and Edwards continue to make gaffes, almost nothing sticks to Hillary. It is a shame that she is a smart and calculating politician. Her political abilities far surpass any kind of leadership quality. Now, we could experience a miracle here. She might make a terrible mistake between now and January that either Obama or Edwards could capitalize. Nothing is certain in political theater. Yet for now, things are looking bleak for a true Democratic reformer.

Perfect Me Too!

Ann Coulter's latest stunt about telling Donny Deutsch that Jews needed to be "perfected" caused quite an outrage. That was only one of many of her ridiculous comments that the media has allowed to be aired on one TV "news" program or another. The hubbub has died down somewhat since then, but that hasn't stopped Leah Kauffman from singing and mocking Ann for being....Ann.

From The Political Punch:

"Perfect me, make me petty, I want to be hateful just like Ann Coulter," sings Leah Kauffman.

Kauffman and her collaborators are probably best known for their "Obamagirl" video and song, but the latest offering takes on the controversial conservative pundit with a far more serious tone.

The song features clips of Coulter making some of her more offensive comments about John Edwards, Arabs, and the 9/11 widows. Playing off Coulter's recent pronouncement that Christians want to "perfect" Jews by converting them, Kauffman makes light of Coulter's imperfections.

You can watch it HERE.

Absolutely hilarious and a dead-on parody of the right wing nut.

Come Walk Through The Crowd

My own little video footage from the protest today here in NYC:

I Don't Know Who Will Stop The Rain But The Rain Won't Stop Us

I had to leave before the protest got down to Foley Square, but I must say that despite the rainy weather, hundreds if not thousands came out to support UFPJ's fight against the Bush regime and the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and possibly in Iran. Most people met up on the north side of Union Square where the band was playing alongside the shoppers at the Farmer's market. Other groups met on Broadway between 17th and 23rd.

It was good to see so many people get together to oppose this terrible war and it helps prove that the American people want this mess to end. See the pictures below:

The cops were there early and waiting

The main stage at 17th and B'way

Protesters even came in chains

Code Pink was out in the rain and showed strong support

Who better to quote protest songs from than Bob Dylan

At FEMA, Even The Pathetic Is Funny

One thing FEMA deserves credit for now is that at least they are trying to do something about the wildfires. This is completely different from two years ago when they failed miserably at helping the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Now they want to look like they care, though not actually to go all the way. Perhaps during the next disaster they will start telling the truth, instead of holding fake news conferences.

From The Huffington Post:

WASHINGTON — The White House scolded the Federal Emergency Management Agency on Friday for staging a phony news conference about assistance to victims of wildfires in southern California.

The agency _ much maligned for its sluggish response to Hurricane Katrina over two years ago _ arranged to have FEMA employees play the part of independent reporters Tuesday and ask questions of Vice Adm. Harvey E. Johnson, the agency's deputy director.

The questions were predictably soft and gratuitous.

"I'm very happy with FEMA's response," Johnson said in reply to one query from an agency employee.

The situation is so sad and pathetic, but I just have to laugh. Due to the incompetence of the Bush Administration, the once effective and dependable agency is a shell of its former self. Although the news conference was an outrageous maneuver on their part, does it really even matter? What is FEMA going to do anyway? They are following the lead of the delusional President, so why not let the mentally unstable federal agency pat itself on the back for a job-not-done?

Honestly, I can't wait for January 2009. Not only will the nation breathe a collective sigh of relief, I'll have to see comedy writers actually work for a living, because the shit we see now just types itself.

This Is Your Brain. This Is Your Brain On Fox News

Put On Your Rainboots And March To End The War!

Yes, it is a little wet out in the NYC area this morning, as it probably is down in D.C. as well. But that is no reason to stop you from dressing up for the weather and coming out to protest our President and his misbegotten war. This may not be the 60s and we aren't facing a draft (yet) but civilians in Iraq and our troops are dying, it is still serious business. For those of you that are blasé about walking the streets and chanting "hey hey, ho ho, George Bush has got to go," read this excellent post by Meteor Blades over at DailyKos.

There are plenty of groups meeting at 11am in the Union Square area and will start to march at noon from 23rd and B'Way down to Foley Square. After much internal debate I'm going to leave the suit and tie off and put on some more comfortable gear to march with the Democracy For New York City group. They're all ex-Deaniacs (like myself) and if you want to check them out, see more here.

Last time, don't be lazy people. Get outside and do something about this war. Protesting will not end the war tomorrow, but as Meteor Blades said, it is an important tool in our arsenal against the dictatorial George Bush.

Friday, October 26, 2007

When In Paris...Indict Rumsfeld

Although Rumsfeld was already sued in Germany, his latest indictment in France looks a little more promising. The torturer was in the French capital at the behest of Foreign Policy magazine, but those that have been after him interrupted his plans. It is important to bring this man (among many) to justice for the crimes he committed by authorizing the practice of torture at Abu Ghraib and other sites.

From RawStory:

The head of one of the groups responsible for bringing the charges, the US-based Center for Constitutional Rights, told RAW STORY today by phone that the suit was a long time coming.

"We've been working on cornering Rumsfeld and getting him indicted somewhere going on three years now," said the Center's president, Michael Ratner. "Four days ago, we got confidential information he was going to be in France."

Joined by activists, attorneys for the human rights groups caught up with Rumsfeld on his way to a breakfast meeting. "He was walking down the street with just one person," said Ratner.

"Around 20 campaigners gave Rumsfeld a rowdy welcome...yelling 'murderer,' waving a banner and trying to push into the building," reports AFP.

"Murderer" is one word for the ex-Secretary, but I would prefer "convicted criminal" much more.

Stop Children, Whats That Nuclear Sound?

It doesn't take an artist to tell you nuclear power is wrong when the availability of wind and solar power is so plentiful, so just sign the pledge here.

S-CHIP Take Two

Once again, the House passed another, slightly adjusted form of S-CHIP. The bill would ensure that children in families that make less than three times the poverty level have health insurance. It sounds like good policy to make sure that our children stay healthy, but many Republicans seem to feel differently.

From The New York Times:

Supporters of the new bill said it addressed all the major concerns that prompted Republicans to oppose the earlier version. The measure, they said, would end coverage of childless adults, ban coverage of illegal immigrants and generally prohibit states from covering children in families with incomes above three times the poverty level — $61,950 for a family of four.

Ms. Pelosi said the restrictions on adults, illegal immigrants and high-income families were clear in the first bill and “are even clearer in the second bill.”

But Mr. Bush said his concerns had not been addressed “in a meaningful way.” He derided the new bill as “more of the same,” and many Republican lawmakers said the changes were insignificant.

“The new bill puts lipstick on a sow,” said Representative Thomas M. Reynolds, Republican of New York. “Today is raw politics — trotting out a vote just for the sake of a vote.”

The House Republican leader, Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio, said, “This is nothing more than a political game, getting ready for the next election.”

One hundred and forty two Republican Congressmen and President Bush are more afraid of cigarette taxes, illegal immigrants and a solid government program that works than giving these benefits to our nation's children. Their excuses are sad and pathetic, as their records clearly show through the years. So why should this be any different? As long as their kids have insurance, they could give a damn about anyone else's, even their own constituents.

And as for Boehner's quote that this is nothing more than a political game....him and his party chose that road. They could have just made the smart choice for the kids and our country, but to them, everything is political.

NY In The Top Ten Of Greenest States

Who would have thought that the Empire State could beat out 41 others for the cleanest and greenest environment. Sure, we are no match for places like Vermont, Oregon and Washington (the top three) but when you compare regulatory efforts by state governments, we fare much better than some, like California and Colorado which ranked 14th and 13th respectively. So how did we do it?

From Forbes:

New York
No. 9
Score: 38.1 out of 50

New Yorkers (at least in the city) rely on public transportation and live and work in tight quarters--both great things for the environment. No, the air and water quality in the city is not so good, but overall the state has an exceptionally low carbon footprint (fifth best in the country), second lowest consumption of energy per capita and the fewest vehicle miles traveled (again, per capita) by its residents--another advantage of not owning a car in New York City. New York is also part of the regional effort in the Northeast to establish a market-based system to limit greenhouse gas emissions.

Not only does the state encourage a low carbon impact, but the city government and New Yorkers themselves live in a more environmentally friendly way than those that live in the country. Not driving a car makes a huge impact as does living in a big city. We walk more than most and are blessed with one of the most extensive mass-transit systems in the country, despite its problems.

Heck, we even beat out Arizona.

On Patrol In Iraq With The 101st

The BBC embedded themselves with one unit patrolling Tikrit. Their mission of finding IEDs is futile and ends when a sniper injures one of their men. What results is another purple heart and absolutely no progress of any sort.

Subprime Mortgage Crisis Will Have Dramatic Effect On NYC

In what is shaping up to be the largest fiscal crisis of the new millennium and even worse than the S & L Loan scandal in the early 90s, the sub-prime mortgage crisis is going to hurt our economy on a large scale. New York City is also expected to be walloped by the situation. Overall, the city is looking at over 15,000 foreclosures and now some in the Senate are looking to act.

From The Daily News:

Schumer called for federal action against the lending practices of "really slimy mortgage brokers," which were detailed last Sunday in a special Daily News "I-Team" report.

In a 32-page study, the committee said that nationwide foreclosures were looming on 2 million homes with subprime mortgages, which are granted to borrowers whose credit histories don't rate a conventional mortgage.

The foreclosures and the spinoff effects will cost states more than $103 billion in lost property values - $9.5 billion for New York - and more than $917million in lost property taxes - more than $102 million for New York.

In the city, the borough hit hardest by the subprime crisis was Queens, where foreclosures were started on 2,478 homes through this year and another 3,561 were expected next year for a total of 6,039, the committee report said.

This national crisis will affect millions and because of the impact on the economy, everyone will eventually suffer the consequences. Why the problem was not looked into while the lending was taking place is something that should also be investigated. Of course, the Congress did not conduct any type of oversight while the Republicans were in control, whether it was regarding Iraq or our economy.

It might have been a matter of ignorance, but the fact remains that our government did nothing to stop massive predatory lending practices while interest rates were low a few years back because those mortgages being set up boosted economic figures. That economic "growth" was used by the Bush Administration to show that the economy was strong even though it was all an illusion.

And now we are going to have to pay for that mistake, as we are paying for all of Bush's mistakes.

Watch Out For Armed And Dozing Dick Upstate

Ah, its that time of year again. The air is getting cool, the leaves are starting to change and by golly, its a huntin season. If you live in Dutchess County be prepared for Darth Vader Dick Cheney to come out with his gun in your woods. Yes, the man who shot his friend is back for more. This time residents are warned to be extra careful, especially if he dozes off while shooting buck shot.

From The Poughkeepsie Journal:

Vice President Dick Cheney is coming to Dutchess County again to go hunting, according to two sources familiar with his plans. Cheney will arrive Sunday night and head to a hunting club in Dutchess Monday morning.

Cheney is expected to arrive Sunday night at Stewart airport and travel to a hotel in Poughkeepsie, sources said.

On Monday morning, he is expected to leave Poughkeepsie and head to the Clove Valley Rod & Gun Club in LaGrangeville.

Motorists can expect road closures and considerable associated delays on Interstate 84 and Route 9 Sunday night, and on Route 55 and again on Interstate 84 on Monday. Depending on what time he travels Monday morning, his trip could disrupt school bus service in affected areas.

Now to be fair to the VP, he did shoot his friend in South Texas, so who knows, maybe he'll be more careful up here in the Northeast. Still, even if I wanted to go to Poughkeepsie, I'd avoid the area Sunday night through Monday.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Another Bright Idea From Rudy Giuliani

Talk about flip-flopping, Rudy has gone from one end of the gun control debate to the other, all in an effort to win over the right wing ideologues for his chance to become President.

The Cost Of The War In NYC

To the average person, it is hard to truly understand what $2.4 trillion or $456 billion means when it comes to the cost of war. Sometimes its easier to break it down on an individual level. To really feel it, many people have lost loved ones and friends to the war, with almost 4,000 now dead because of a pointless occupation of Iraq. For the rest of us, we can break it down into dollars and cents.

From The Gotham Gazette:

So how does the cost of the Iraq War break down across the city? According to a new analysis by the National Priorities Project, a nonprofit research group that analyses federal budget data, the city covers more than a third of the war’s entire cost to the state and about 3 percent of its cost to the country.

The data breaks down the local bill through fiscal year 2007. Interestingly, the war has brought the largest tab to Queens, which outspent the rest of the boroughs by nearly $1 billion.

The group also looks at the proposed war costs for fiscal year 2008 and how that is dispersed locally.

Here is the breakdown borough by borough for fiscal year ‘07:

Bronx: $1,828,300,000

Brooklyn: $3,936,500,000

Manhattan: $3,592,200,000

Queens: $4,701,200,000

Staten Island: $1,213,500,000

New York City total: $15,237,500,000

New York State total: $40,915,800,000

The U.S. total is about $456 billion.

Queens is the biggest borough population-wise, so naturally they would have the largest cost. Whatever the cost, it is far too much for Bush's biggest folly, and our national tragedy.

Fox Fans The Flames Of Fear

Local and national news channels have been doing a good job of covering the heart breaking stories of people that have lost their homes and in a few cases their lives from the massive fires in Southern California. Fox News is busy stoking the fears of their brainwashed audience instead. Even though most of the TV crowd loves this "if it bleeds (or burns), it leads" but they still do a decent job of reporting and not opining their politics. Fox News on the other hand...doesn't give a shit.

From RawStory:

Fox & Friends, the conservative cable channel, was panned Wednesday for breathlessly reporting a sketchy, four-year-old FBI memo as if it offered new information linking America's enemies in the "Global War on Terror" with a plot to burn down southern California.

The morning team was back at it Thursday, as anchor Alisyn Camerota introduced a segment on the fires that again mischaracterized and over-inflated warnings from a 2003 interview with an al Qaeda detainee.

Camerota said Fox's fear-mongering was "based on some information the FBI sent to local law enforcement in California and other Western states ... that there was a plot afoot to set three or four different" fires. Left unsaid by the Fox news-reader was that the FBI warning was sent more than four years ago, described a potential plot that made no mention of California, could not be proven accurate and did not raise alarms from forest-fire officials at the time. (Such caveats all were included in an Associated Press report on the warning at the time.)

Seriously, how do they get away with this crap? Do they care about their integrity, even just a little bit?

Paul Wellstone Knew What The Iraq Resolution Entailed

As Hillary plays stupid about her vote for war in Iraq back in 2002, Senator Wellstone knew too well how it would play out:

We Still Miss You Paul

As a friend and I were lamenting the state of the Senate the other night, the only name we could think of in recent memory of a hero in that chamber was Paul Wellstone. Today is the fifth anniversary of when his plane went down in a storm, killing him, his wife and one of their three children.

His incredible life was cut short at the age of 58. The man that eventually replaced him was Norm Coleman, a petulant little scumbag that has done nothing for Minnesota and the honor of our country. Thankfully he should be on the way out next year care of Al Franken, but Paul was someone that brought an unheard of quality to the Senate, a desire for change and the perseverance to fight for it once he trudged in filth that is there now.

Today David Sirota reminds us to beware of the Santa Clausification of Paul's memory. Men like Paul are diamonds in the rough field of politicians and that coalfield of American politics generally shapes people like Paul and Bobby Kennedy into cartoon figures, as Sirota states. So if you remember Senator Wellstone or even as a professor beforehand, do not just lament the passing of great man, remember what he fought for and find that light inside of you, as it shines somewhere within us all.

The Senate Throws Some Change At 9/11 Workers

Fifty-five million dollars is a lot to the average person but not much at all when we are talking about helping the brave men and women that worked on the pile after September 11th. The Senate voted to add that sum to the $50 million already appropriated. Sure, its great to have any money at all, but is that the way we should treat our heroes?

From The Daily News:

The measure encourages the development of long-term solutions to screen and treat everyone affected by the post-9/11 risks.

Health problems suffered by the thousands who were affected range from asthma to posttraumatic stress.

"The message of this vote is clear," said Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). "America is here for you in your time of need."

That message sounds very un-clear to me. When we are talking about settling lawsuits in the billion dollar range, $55 or $105 million just isn't that much. That billion dollar lawsuit wouldn't even cover all the costs that these heroes-turned-victims endure on a monthly basis. With a war that will cost at least $2.4 TRILLION dollars, why can we not spare the one or two billion that these people need to get by?

And another thing, will George Bush even sign that bill for $55 million?

Dana Perino Doesn't Know What "Despicable" Means

Dana Perino called the Code Pink protesters despicable for getting in Condi's face about her being a war criminal. What is really despicable is that she continues to get away with it.

The Difference Between Ideology And Religion

Rex Duncan must not be a very intelligent man. As a state representative in Oklahoma, he has a duty to serve all of his constituents, not just the ones that he agrees with in his church. Americans attend services in synagogues, mosques and many other houses of worship. That does not seem to matter much to Duncan and several other representatives who refused copies of the Quran as a gift from the Governor's Ethnic American Advisory Council.

From RawStory:

"Most Oklahomans do not endorse the idea of killing innocent women and children in the name of ideology," Rep. Rex Duncan said.

Duncan, a Republican, expressed his feelings Monday in a letter to colleagues. At least 17 legislators have notified the panel they will return the gift.

Marjaneh Seirafi-Pour, chairwoman of the council and a Muslim, denounced Duncan's assessment of Islam.

"I know he referred to Islam as an ideology. That is not a fact. It is a religion. It is very peaceful, very inclusive," Seirafi-Pour said.

It may not be a question of intelligence, but definitely one of ignorance. What Duncan, the other legislators and frankly, many Americans do not get is that there is a difference between religion and ideology. Although religion has its faults (and there are many) there are plenty of ideologies that use religion as a basis for those in charge to get what they want.

Take George Bush and the neo-conservatives for example. They use Christianity to divide Americans from one another so that they can pass discriminatory bills that weaken the essence of democracy in our country.

Going farther back, the leaders of Europe in the dark ages set out on a conquest for more land and power by conjuring armies by using Christianity as a basis for war with the Middle East, resulting in the deaths of many a knight and foot soldier. Not to exclude anyone, but the Caliphates in the early centuries of Islam did the same thing across Asia, Africa and into southwestern Europe.

Religions are often used as an excuse by the powers that be to go to war, but the religions themselves are generally peaceful, no matter what holy book you are reading from.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Bush Can Call The Fires A Disaster, But Can He Take Responsibility?

George Bush rarely takes responsibility for the myriad messes he makes, so why would anything be different when 1,500 homes and hundreds of thousands of acres goes up in smoke. Bush is traveling to the Golden State tomorrow to "survey" the damage, probably even landing the plane this time. But why does he have a part in this? Well it all comes down to his adherence to ideology that it is better to drown the government in a bathtub, or a sea of flames. When you do not have a government that can serve the people, bad things inevitably occur.

From The Huffington Post:

The Government Accountability Office, Congress's nonpartisan auditor, issued stark warnings earlier this year on shortcomings in the administration's plans to fight fires.

In a June report, the GAO report faulted the U.S. Forest Service, Department of Agriculture, and other agencies for failing to accomplish the "fundamental step" of planning out what assets and resources were needed to prepare for approaching fire seasons. Meanwhile, disaster response problems that have become all too familiar in recent years were also identified: administration officials placing resources where they were politically expedient, and using poorly performing contractors to accomplish critical national tasks.

The Orange County Register today appeared to show how these warnings manifested. The paper faulted federal planners for erecting red tape that prevented the use of more DC-10 airplanes to drop flame retardant on areas that were on fire.

"It would be nice to have more such planes available, don't you think?" an editorial in the paper asked. "If the federal government had had its way, even this one almost certainly wouldn't be flying this week....One can understand a certain amount of caution from the Forest Service, but this is bureaucratic overkill."

The pertinent government agencies were staffed by Bush's friends and friends of friends. Naturally people with no experience with what they are charged to oversee do not plan out what needs to be done in an emergency. Therefore, when the brush started burning, no one was able to help local authorities deal with a major calamity. This is the same thing that happened in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

So while the PR aspect will be handled better this time by the White House Press Secretary, the institutional problems remain. No matter what Bush says on television tomorrow from Southern California, nothing will be changed. And when the next disaster comes along, expect the same dismal results.

George Carlin Comes To Countdown

Obama Makes Three Against Telco Immunity

After an enormous amount of pressure from the blogosphere, Barack Obama has decided to follow the leadership of Christopher Dodd and support a filibuster against granting retroactive immunity for the telecommunication industry's crimes against the American people. As accomplices to George Bush and his high crimes, the executives at AT and T, Verizon and others deserve justice for spying on our citizens, not a free pass.

From TPM:

It's official: Obama will back a filibuster of any Senate FISA legislation containing telecom immunity, his campaign has just told Election Central. The Obama campaign has just sent over the following statement from spokesman Bill Burton:

"To be clear: Barack will support a filibuster of any bill that includes retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies."

As we reported here yesterday, MoveOn and a dozen top liberal bloggers were preparing to wage an aggressive campaign today to pressure Obama and Hillary to say that they'll support Chris Dodd's vow to filibuster any Senate FISA bill containing telecom immunity. And late yesterday both Obama and Hillary put out statements saying that they'd back Dodd's threatened filibuster of the current legislation that's just come out of the Senate intel committee.

MoveOn was a huge part of the effort to reach out to Obama and Hillary. Well, the effort is still waiting on Mrs. Clinton. Will she show her "leadership" abilities as Obama did today? Or are we just going to have to wait for another poll and a few focus groups to tell her what to do?

Oh and by the way, where is Harry Reid and the other forty-six Democrats that have not spoken out on this issue? Perhaps the telecommunication industry's lobbyists are keeping their mouths' full of money like they have been for Senator Rockefeller. They certainly have been giving out a lot of money these days.

Rudy Who?

Sometimes it weird for me to hear about the ignorance of America when it comes to campaigns and elections. I may be a bit of a political nerd, but you would think most Americans know the top tier candidates. You know, Giuliani, Romney and Thompson on the right, Hillary, Obama and Edwards on the left. Apparently the levels of basic knowledge are pitiful at best, especially on the Republican side.

From RawStory:

The Pew Research Center has released a new poll showing that 41% of Americans responding are unable to come up with the names of any Republican presidential candidates without prompting. In contrast, only 19% are unable to name even one Democratic candidate.

According to the Pew report, "The Republicans' disengagement, if not disillusionment, with the campaign is borne out by the fact that many more Republicans are able to recall unprompted the names of Democratic frontrunners Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama than can name Rudy Giuliani and other leading GOP candidates."

Hillary Clinton's name was offered unprompted by 78% of all respondents and Barack Obama's by 62%. However, no more than 45% came up with the name of GOP frontrunner Rudy Giuliani -- and even among Republicans the figure was only 57%.

The poll is somewhat similar to the 24% that still think Bush is doing a good job. Sometimes you just can't get through to people. As long as they remain ignorant on the right, things look good for a Democratic win next year.

Olbermann Talks With Valerie Plame

With a new book on what really happened between her and the Bush Administration, Valerie sits down with the one, the only, Keith Olbermann:

Can Bush Make It Any Worse In Iraq? Sadly, Yes

With a civil war raging, scores of troops and thousands of civilians dying in Iraq every month how could things get worse in this shattered country? Turkey's increasing drumbeat for war with the Kurds is heating things up and because the Bush Administration is in charge, diplomacy is not their answer for the brewing problem. One of the U.S. main allies before the occupation started was with the Kurdish people, now we are going to bomb them for Turks.

From The Herald Sun:

According to an official familiar with the conversation, Mr Bush assured the Turkish President that the US was seriously looking into options beyond diplomacy to stop the attacks coming from Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq.

"It's not 'Kumbaya' time any more - just talking about trilateral talks is not going to be enough," the official said.

"Something has to be done."

While the use of US soldiers on the ground to root out the PKK would be the last resort, the US would be willing to launch air strikes on PKK targets, the official said, and has discussed the use of cruise missiles.

So instead of keeping the Turks (and the Kurds as well) in place using the tools of diplomacy, we'll shoot off Cruise missiles at $750,000 a pop to bomb them back away from Turkey. All Bush knows is violence, and in turn we shall get it back from the Kurds. It does not take a rocket scientist or a geopolitical specialist to tell you that if you bomb a group of people, chances are they might not like you too much.

Nevertheless, Bush is willing to start more mayhem just so that he can keep the Turks out of Iraq....even though he will be doing their bidding for them and on the American taxpayer's dime. Brilliant!

White House War On Science Continues

The executives of fossil fuel companies rejoiced yesterday at another win in the war against science. This time the White House Office of Management and Budget took one scientist's fourteen page report on the effects of climate change on diseases and slashed it down to four. What was presented to the Senate committee lost all of its teeth and now it seems unlikely that the public will get to know what was in the original document.

From The New York Times:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The White House severely edited congressional testimony given Tuesday by the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the impact of climate change on health, removing specific scientific references to potential health risks, according to two sources familiar with the documents.

Dr. Julie Gerberding, director of the Atlanta-based CDC, the government's premier disease monitoring agency, told a Senate hearing that climate change ''is anticipated to have a broad range of impacts on the health of Americans.''

But her prepared testimony was devoted almost entirely to the CDC's preparation, with few details on what effects climate change could have on the spread of disease. Only during questioning did she describe some specific diseases that likely would be affected, again without elaboration.

So not only did they edit Dr. Gerberding's findings, they told her to keep her mouth shut in front of the Congress. The White House is vehemently opposed to the truth and especially having the truth disseminated on "their" dime. George Bush apparently thinks that the CDC and other Federal agencies work for him and not for the people as it was written in the Constitution.

Top Ten Moments Between Matt Lauer And Larry Craig

Some interesting things you might have missed from the "hard hitting" interview Matt Lauer conducted with Larry Craig and his wife:

Do You Trust ConEd?

When my ConEd bill comes in the mail, I generally trust that their record of my electricity usage is on the mark. Besides that, they have no credibility, especially when it comes to why the steam pipe ruptured in East Midtown back in July. Their lawsuit against the city is the latest event that has angered the city and its residents for their shameful behavior of not taking care of our city's infrastructure.

From The Daily News:

The Con Edison steampipe that exploded under Lexington Ave. this summer had a deadly flaw - an incomplete weld that blew wide open when it was hit by pressurized water, a new report charges.

"The location of the approximately 5-foot-long rupture in the steampipe precisely coincides with a pre-existing crack-like flaw along the weld seam in the pipe wall," wrote Robert Caligiurr, an engineer studying the blast for two of its victims.

"The observed crack-like flaw appears to be old and is large enough that, in my opinion, Con Ed should have detected it prior to the rupture. Once detected, good and accepted practices would have required that this pipe section be immediately replaced."

The steel pipe, installed in 1924, exploded July 18 after water built up in the pipe and led to a dangerous condition called "water hammer," which slammed a slug of water into the wall of the pipe at incredible force.

This report was made possible by Kenneth Thompson, the lawyer that represents the victims of the blast. However, Con Edison immediately came back to say that there was no problem with the pipe, even though two months ago they claimed the pipe was impossible to inspect.

The utility is digging itself into a hole here and if they want more shovels, then more power to em'. They have made enemies with Bloomberg and other city officials with their lawsuit, relinquishing the powerful shield of the NYC apparatus. The people affected by the blast, whether by losing a loved one, being injured or having their businesses shut down are already focused on taking on Con Edison. Ultimately these lawsuits will shine more light on the practices of ConEd and the negligence that they are 'allegedly' guilty of.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Suit Up To Change Things Up In Iraq

If you are like most Americans and myself personally, you are against the occupation/war/crusade that George Bush decided to start in Iraq. With no planning or care for the consequences, he failed miserably at being a Commander in Chief and our President in general. Now what are you going to do about it? Does sitting in your armchair yelling at the TV make you feel uncomfortable deep down inside? Well then come out to protest this Saturday and don't forget to dress up.

Once again, United for Peace and Justice is organizing the events. Now you are completely free to take out your old hippie attire or Ramones t-shirt and come down to the south side of Union Square at 11am on Saturday. Plenty of people will be wearing all sorts of costumes to show their displeasure of George Bush and his war. Now some of you have looked at the sea of liberal oddities in protests past and shook your head. Some people even detest hippies (though I have no idea why) but they hate the war more. Well, now there is something out there for the well-dressed among us.

From The Seminal:

This Saturday, October 27th, United for Peace and Justice will be holding simultaneous protests against the Iraq war in 11 US cities. Serious Change supporters will be attending protests in New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Orlando, and Chattanooga, Tennessee dressed in professional attire. We stand in full solidarity with all other antiwar activists, but we believe that a professional appearance projects seriousness and determination to the Bush administration as well as the American public.

Our protest action on October 27th will build on our success at the antiwar march on September 15th, where even our small numbers provoked a large and positive response from other protesters, media, online communities at websites such as, and the public. As we dramatically expand our numbers for this Saturday’s protest, we will once again demonstrate the power that online organizing has to bring about change at the street level.

Serious Change demands the same results as everyone out there protesting against a war that should not have been started in the first place. So if you want to look nice and speak out at the same time, check out their site here and prepare to show up with me in NYC or in several other cities across the country.

Pathetic Pete Apologizes

Why is that whenever a Democrat has a moment of courage, he or she backs down with their tail between their legs? This time Pete Stark from California puts on a pitiful performance. This is definitely not an example of finding one's spine.

Rudy Has A Hillary Moment...Yankee Style

As a loyal dyed in blue Dodger fan, there are certain things I am not allowed to do, like support the Angels and certainly not the Giants (I could tell you some stories but I wouldn't want to get in trouble). So when I heard that Yankee "fan" Rudy Giuliani was rooting for the Red Sox in the World Series I was a bit taken back. It was a pretty low moment of pandering even for Rudy.

From AM New York:

BOSTON - Sounds like a baseball flip-flop. Rudy Giuliani, a lifelong New York Yankees fan, said Tuesday he's pulling for their most hated rivals, the Boston Red Sox, to win the World Series over the Colorado Rockies.

"I'm rooting for the Red Sox," the Republican presidential contender said in response to a question, sparking applause at the Boston restaurant where he was picking up a local endorsement.

"I'm an American League fan, and I go with the American League team, maybe with the exception of the Mets," he said. "Maybe that would be the one time I wouldn't because I'm loyal to New York."

First of all, Met fans have nothing to do with Yankee fans. If you watch baseball in the New York area, you would know that there is no love between the two sets of fans. Rooting for a NY team is somewhat acceptable for a politician, but going for the Red Sox is sacrosanct here.

If New York gave Hillary hell over her baseball mishap, Rudy deserves even worse.

Follow The Telco Money....To Sen. Rockefeller

Sometimes Most of the time politics is a sickening business. I had dinner with a friend of mine last night and we were talking about how money corrupts in politics, especially since he is a first cousin of one of the Democrats that refuses to speak out against retroactive immunity for the telecommunication companies that violated that law along with the Bush Administration. He knows first hand how it works and the privileges that are doled out to Senators and their families for serving corporations over their constituents. My friend's name isn't Rockefeller, but that family and specifically that Senator exemplifies the problem of money and government.

From The New York Times:

WASHINGTON, Oct. 22 — Executives at the two biggest phone companies contributed more than $42,000 in political donations to Senator John D. Rockefeller IV this year while seeking his support for legal immunity for businesses participating in National Security Agency eavesdropping.

The surge in contributions came from a Who’s Who of executives at the companies, AT&T and Verizon, starting with the chief executives and including at least 50 executives and lawyers at the two utilities, according to campaign finance reports.

The money came primarily from a fund-raiser that Verizon held for Mr. Rockefeller in March in New York and another that AT&T sponsored for him in May in San Antonio.

Mr. Rockefeller, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, emerged last week as the most important supporter of immunity in devising a compromise plan with Senate Republicans and the Bush administration.

It isn't particularly surprising of course that Rockefeller or his many colleagues can be sucked into the mess that is Washington. Nevertheless this is the type of politics that we must speak out against, shine light upon and effect change. One person can't do it, but if enough people get fed up, we can do away with people like Mr. Rockefeller.

George Bush's Misplaced Priorities

Enough With The Fare Hike Already!

Despite protests from straphangers, members of the state legislator and the City Comptroller, the MTA is determined to raise the price of a subway ride. Whenever we speak out, they come up with another reason to increase the fare. Their most persistent cry is that they'll be $100 million short if they delay the increase till next year. Well the Daily News poured through their numbers and found a different story than what the MTA is saying.

From The Daily News:

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority claims it would lose $100 million if the hikes were pushed back to later next year as urged by leaders of the Stop the Fare Hike Campaign.

But MTA data released yesterday show it could bridge that gap. Real estate tax receipts are $60 million higher than forecast. Though the MTA cautioned that may not last, records also show fare and toll revenue up $49 million higher and health care spending down $25 million.

Assemblyman Richard Brodsky (D-Westchester) said the data "undercuts the argument that the system needs the money immediately."

The News has also learned the MTA is sitting on its $50 million in surplus funds set aside late last year for a stalled program to repaint 200 stations.

Now I have never been particularly good at math, but if memory and a pencil serves me right, those numbers add up to $184 million dollars, then add in their $317 million dollar surplus and that has to take you well over what they are complaining about losing. Oh and by the way, if you need $250,000 to paint a subway station, by all means give me a shout and I'll do it for you and for less than a quarter million dollars.

Huckabee Forgets His American History

Not everyone knows the intricacies of our founding fathers, but if you are running for President and want to use them to make a point, you better know what you are talking about. Mike Huckabee however does not believe in being accurate or truthful with his audience, particularly at the last debate on Sunday night.

From Politifact:

During the Republican debate, Mike Huckabee said he believes one of the defining issues facing the country is the sanctity of human life. Arguing that the issue is of historical importance, he invoked the Declaration of Independence's rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and said that most of the signers of the declaration were clergymen.

Not even close.

Only one of the 56 was an active clergyman, and that was John Witherspoon. Witherspoon was a Presbyterian minister and president of the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University).

A few more of the signers were former clergymen, though it's a little unclear just how many. The conservative Heritage Foundation said two other signers were former clergymen. The religion web site said four signers of the declaration were current or former full-time preachers. But everyone agrees only Witherspoon was an active minister when he signed the Declaration of Independence.

So maybe four out of 56, if that. Huckabee is trying to continue this "Christian Nation" talking point on the right and it is downright sickening. Now that Brownback is out of the race Mike feels he needs to take up the fundie flag and charge through his world of delusion. Well, we're not following Mikey boy.

Boo On You

Republicans do not like to hear any type of truth, so when Ron Paul gets up on stage, expect an elementary response from the audience.

Glenn Beck: Heartless And Irrelevant

Since the moment CNN foolishly put Glenn Beck on the air, the crap coming out of his mouth has offended millions of people. Yet CNN continues to broadcast his show despite terrible ratings and ridiculous behavior. He is quickly becoming their own fatheaded Ann Coulter. She'll say anything to sell her books and he will do the same to get people to watch his sad excuse for a television show. Yesterday he turned his venom towards the hundreds (if not thousands by the time its over) that have lost their homes due to brush fires raging in Southern California.

From Media Matters:

On the October 22 edition of his nationally syndicated radio program, host Glenn Beck stated, "I think there is a handful of people who hate America. Unfortunately for them, a lot of them are losing their homes in a forest fire today." Beck continued: "There are a few people that hate America. But I don't think the Democrats are those. I think there are those posing as Democrats that are like that." Beck's comment came as forest fires ravaged parts of Southern California, leaving one person dead, four firefighters wounded, and forcing about 1,500 people from their homes, according to The New York Times.

Beck's comment immediately followed his statement that "we're all one America" and "just because I disagree with you doesn't mean you hate America, and I love America. We all love America. We just disagree on how we should function." Beck had been distinguishing his views from those of California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R), who, according to the Financial Times, "has urged Republican presidential candidates to capture the political centre ground ahead of next year's election by focusing on healthcare reform and education." Beck criticized Schwarzenegger's proposed strategy as "not the way to win on any front" and offered the following clarification: "When I say on the air, and I've said it a lot lately, that we need to come together, and we need to get back into the center, we're being pushed on to the edges -- I want you to understand, that is not on policies. I don't mean that we come in the center on policies. We come to the center on principles."

Not only is he a freakish maniac, he's a hypocrite as well. Even though he said it on his radio show CNN is still responsible for him being on their network. Coming to the center would be a huge change in our political climate and to some degree, that is what Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is trying to do. Beck trashes Arnold for his efforts and heartlessly goes after people that supposedly voted for him just because they happen to live in CA and their homes are being burned....therefore they hate America.

WTF is that?!? Seriously, does this man have even a hint of a conscience? I know what those people are going through. Two years ago I watched my mom's house threatened by the Chatsworth fire but miraculously the winds were light when the flames got to the area. If the conditions were what they are now, there would be no home. My thoughts and prayers go out to everyone that has been affected by these fires....and I want to demand that CNN pull Beck off the air.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Taxicab Confessional

Yeah I know this is my second post today on the subject, but I think I can shine a little more light on what the deal is. Earlier today I caught a cab from the West Village to Murray Hill, shelling out $15 to go from one zone to the other. I found out that the steep fares are part of the contingency plan that is helping people commute better by being able to share rides to and fro in the city.

Anyways, the cabbie was very friendly with me so we got to talking about the strike. Obviously you can determine his position on the issue since he was picking up fares for the one day event. After screaming at another driver for trying to get in his lane he addressed the primary concern before he decided to cross the picket line last month.

According to him the major cause for concern wasn't the GPS trackers (he understands many other driving professionals already use it around the country) but what happens with his 1099. With the trackers in place, the fare records can go straight to the IRS and that guessed it, cab drivers would be held accountable for the business they do when it came time to do taxes.

My cabbie realized that with this in effect, drivers would have to be honest with the business that they do. "Honesty, what a concept," I said sarcastically to him and we both bust out laughing.

So it isn't about being tracked to your home when not on the clock, its evading taxes. Sure, no one likes paying them but generally people look down on tax dodgers. And besides that, he loved working today because getting a $15 fare when the trip is generally $9 is part of a good day's work. As I got out of the cab, he delivered a bit of sarcasm back at me..."Next time I see you, don't expect to pay these fares."

I won't mind the fares going back to normal, not at all.

Pete Stark And The Smirking Chimp

NY Times, Meet Senator Dodd

Maybe the writers at the paper of record do not know the Senator that can be reached via the Metro-North. Since Chris Dodd is in Washington and on the campaign trail to run for President, he is a hard man to reach. The journalists at the Times might want to know that this Senator from Connecticut has been busy in the Senate, leading a two man show that will stop the Congress from giving telco companies retroactive immunity from their crimes against the Constitution.

Corrente Wire
has more:

Dodd, alone among the Democrats, stands up to a Bipartisan juggernaut to grant the telcos retroactive immunity for massive lawbreaking—a story the Times itself broke—by saying he’ll put a hold on the bill. Reid, the Senate [cough] leader, says he’ll ignore the hold. Dodd raises the ante, says he’ll [gasp] filibuster. Biden joins in. Hillary and Obama waver on the sidelines.

We’ve got the Jimmy Stewart figure, standing alone against great odds. We’ve got dissension in the Democratic caucus. We’ve got craven politicians. We’ve got bags of corporate cash.

In short, we’ve got a rich, compelling narrative, filled with drama, human failings, and high principle.

And if all that’s not enough, Dodd’s from the Time’s circulation catchment: Connecticut. What, the locals aren’t interested in their Senator?

The locals are indeed interested in this extraordinary story that exhibits the courage and leadership that is a part of Presidential candidate Christopher Dodd. Being one state and one express train over from his state, I would love to read about what Dodd is doing in the Senate. Of course like a lot of my news, I need to read it from other blogs such as this one in order to get the news.

Earth to the NY Times, get on the boat people!

NY's Finest Crooks

Murray Weiss of the NY Post has a damning report out today on the worst of the worst members of the NYPD. There are tens of thousands of cops in this city doing their jobs, but hundreds seem to be rotten to the core. The abuse of power varies from larceny to drug possession and forced oral sex to murder for hire. It is a sad state of affairs at the New York Police Department, but the most horrific thing is how the force has treated the criminals in their ranks.

From The NY Post:

In The Bronx, a veteran NYPD detective was found guilty of getting a woman who was implicated in an identity-theft case to perform oral sex on him.

Detective Dominic Calvanico initially insisted the woman sign a confession and cooperate, according to the report.

He then told her that if she would "take care of him" - engage in sexual activity - he would "talk to the DA and make the case go away," according to the report.


The detective, who claimed the sex was consensual, was found guilty at his NYPD trial of bribe receiving, coercion, associating with a criminal and filing false statements.

In an extraordinary plea deal worked out among the NYPD, the DA's office and his union, Calvanico - a cop for 19 years and 11 months - agreed to resign and surrender a portion of his pension to avoid criminal charges.

And that is just one example, in others cops have been allowed to remain on the force after being found to be crooked. He was merely an accomplice to another cop that traded drugs for sex and outed an undercover cop in the process. The NYPD has tried to keep this all under wraps, but thankfully Weiss was able to publish this for the city to digest, no matter how nasty it all is.

Bill Maher Provides His Own Security

Bill gets tough with 9/11 conspiracy theorists on live TV:

Musgrave Chooses Political Points Over The Constitution

The founding fathers of our country saw it as essential to separate the church from the state. Not only was it meant to keep our democracy from becoming a theocracy, the doctrine enabled the freedom of religion to be furthered so that all faiths were honored equally. The Establishment Clause strictly says that Congress may not establish a national religion. Of course, that hasn't stopped people like John McCain from calling us a "Christian Nation" nor Congresswoman Musgrave from trying to score cheap political points either.

From RawStory:

A Republican congresswoman wants to ensure the long-delayed Capitol Visitor Center reminds tourists of America's Christian heritage when it opens.

Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (R-CO) has introduced a bill that would place on permanent display the Pledge of Allegiance -- with its mention of "one nation under God" -- and the motto "In God We Trust." The bill also would prohibit the Architect of the Capitol from excluding exhibits and materials that contain "a religious reference or Judeo-Christian content."

The bill was introduced last week in the wake of a flap over the Capitol architect's refusal to include a reference to God on a certificate accompanying a flag flown over the Capitol. That decision was reversed as lawmakers seek to prevent future censorship of religious messages on flag certificates.

What these wingers do not understand is very simple. It is called the history of the United States. Their narrow-minded view of the country is based on exclusionary principles that help to benefit those of one faith and only one faith, that being Christianity.

Other than trying to appease a fanatical Christian base, there is no good reason to interject God into everything that our government does. The United States has worked very well with the Establishment Clause and it must go on doing so, or else we will continue to lose our image as a benevolent country towards all people, regardless of their faith.

Circular Firing Squad, Republican Style

For as long as I can remember, Democrats were the best practitioners of shooting themselves in their political feet. Now the 08' Republican contenders are getting skilled in the game. Last night's Republican debate was a testament to how vicious Republicans can be to each other. I have to say I missed the festivities, even though I could have watched Fox News on jetBlue (why they don't have CNN or MSNBC is a little odd to me). Nevertheless, they took their turns attacking each other in spectacular form.

From The Huffington Post:

"You've just spent the last year trying to fool people about your record. I don't want you to start fooling them about mine," Arizona Sen. John McCain bluntly told Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts.

Former Sen. Fred Thompson made Giuliani his target, saying the former New York mayor supported federal funding for abortion, gun control and havens for illegal immigrants.

"He sides with Hillary Clinton on each of those issues," added Thompson, referring to the New York Democrat who leads in the polls for her party's presidential nomination.

Oooooh. Comparing him to Hillary, now that's gotta hurt. They all deserve the criticism of course. All the contenders have fatal flaws that the others just love to expose. All the better for Democrats to sit back and watch as they rake in more money and get better exposure in the press (except for Ron Paul maybe).

Republicans love to sabotage the country for their misguided ideology, if they want to use that technique on their own campaigns, more power to them!

Ron "Don Quixote" Paul?

As Ron Paul raises more money from tens of thousands of people, the news coverage of his campaign increases and the "fringe" candidate managed to score third in last night's debate.

Two Strikes Are More Than Enough

I took a break from posting as I was in Los Angeles over the weekend visiting family. What was a beautiful weekend at first turned smoky as a dozen blazes started up in the hills around the city and in Malibu. The Kashan Castle that I drove by Saturday night was burned to the ground only a few hours later. As we were staying in West Hills, the family was worried about another fire coming close to the house as it had done only two years ago. The firefighters over there are fantastic as I remembered they were saving the house in 2005, but now they are stretched thin as the humidity in So Cal is in the single digits.

Needless to say, I was glad to come back to more humid air without massive smoke plumes here in NYC. However, we were greeted with the taxi strike. A few cabbies were screaming and yelling at those that decided to work today despite the second strike in a month's time. Even though they gave a few good reasons (pensions, etc) after a while, the real concern is still having to install GPS trackers in their cars.

Bhairavi Desai and his New York Taxi Workers Alliance is claiming some sort of victory this morning, but I managed to hail a cab near Penn Station in about two minutes by dodging the taxi stand line. As the AM NY reporter mentioned, there are tons of cabs operating this morning, so there really is nothing to fear if you need to hail a yellow cab.

I am sticking to my position as I have over the last couple of months. While Desai and others complain that GPS trackers are an invasion of privacy, the real issue is accountability. Plenty of businesses use certain methods to hold their employees accountable and if cabbies don't like it, they should find something else to do. There are plenty of drivers out there today that do not care whether or not they are being watched while on the clock. If the GPS units were being used when they are off-duty, that would be another matter.