Norman Mailer will be missed, he passed away last night at the age of 84. A wish to RIP to a quintessential New Yorker.
Broadway is officially on strike. Local One has halted work on all but eight shows. Don't worry though, if you still want to see the extravaganza at 'Young Frankenstein' despite the NYT's lousy review the union has an independent contract with the show.
Illinoisan ArkansanNew Yorker Hillary Clinton is getting more bad press, this time over not paying her waitress a tip and lying about it, then found to be planting questions in the audience while visiting Iowa. Bad times for the front-runner indeed.
Do you live somewhere outside Manhattan and secretly wished you did? Well you can get a prestigious address with no ridiculous high rent here.
And finally, Christmas is upon us in Midtown. Goodluck trying to get around that area for the next month and a half. I'll be avoiding Rockefeller Center as much as I do Times Square year-round.
Saturday, November 10, 2007
Mark Klein used to work for AT&T. Not only was he employed there, he was tasked with connecting the hardwires from their communication databases to the Bush Administration's program to monitor every single data transfer that occurred between all of their customers. This is an open and shut case, yet the politics of it all hampers justice from being served. Every member of the Judiciary Committee should be watching this before they decide to grant retroactive immunity to any telecommunications giant.
That is the question in my head this morning. That common sense bug keeps biting me on the subject and I just can not figure it out. Despite claims from Kerik that the two don't talk much anymore (in public at least) Kerik is still using Giuliani and in more ways than one. With Bernie now known as an indicted man, he is raising money for his legal defense as one facing a criminal trial might try and do. It is the way he is going about that is just a little bit suspicious.
From The New York Times:
Mr. Kerik, in the face of his troubles, has carried himself with what many would view as characteristic hubris, making frequent television appearances over the last year to speak as an expert on a range of subjects, from fighting terrorism to the war in Iraq. And despite public statements that he has stayed away from Mr. Giuliani, he has done little, it seems, to distance himself from the former mayor or President Bush; there are several pictures of him with both men on the Web site for his consulting business and he has used a photograph of himself with the former mayor on a separate site set up to raise money for his legal defense.
Indeed, a section of the fund-raising Legal Defense Trust Web site titled “About Bernard Kerik” begins by citing Mr. Bush’s nomination of him to serve as Homeland Security secretary, but does not mention his quick, embarrassing withdrawal. And the consulting firm’s home page gives prominent placement to a remark from the president that predated the public humiliation that followed:
“Bernie Kerik is one of the most accomplished and effective leaders of law enforcement in America.”
Accomplished my ass, Kerik is shady figure at best. His strongest asset is that he knows how to utilize his ties to a media-branded 9/11 hero, Mr. America's Mayor. Kerik did absolutely nothing for New York and less than that when it comes to helping fight the ridiculous war in Iraq. He is a mob-connected, corrupt, lying criminal with absolutely nothing on his plate besides trying to save his hide in the face of the law.
Kerik's angle is that he and Rudy are buddies and nothing more. So what is it that allows Kerik to continue to promote their friendship without any resistance from Giuliani? What does he have on the Presidential aspirant?
Friday, November 09, 2007
Dianne Feinstein is set to fail her California constituents and the nation for yet another time. The conservative Democrat recently allowed Mukasey's nomination to go through and his confirmation that took place last night, allowing Bush to get away with torturing people with the waterboarding technique.
Now she wants to give immunity to the giant telecommunications companies that willing engaged in criminal activity with the Bush Administration. The Judiciary Committee has delayed the crucial moment until next week, but her vote is immensely important because of conservative leanings. For now she is siding with the likes of AT&T and Verizon instead of millions of Americans.
From The SF Gate:
The Judiciary Committee is considering immunity for the companies as part of a bill to extend the program past February. Feinstein, in her statement Thursday, said the suits are unfair to the companies, which are "unable to defend themselves in court" because the government has insisted that their activities be kept secret.
Although suits against the companies are "not the right remedy," Feinstein said, the administration should be held accountable through an audit of the surveillance program by the Justice Department's inspector general, as proposed in the Senate legislation.
Cohn disputed Feinstein's assertion that the companies could not defend themselves in the lawsuits. She said federal law allows such defendants to present secret evidence in private to the judge, a practice she said has been carried out for decades without any leaks.
As noted in the article, Feinstein endorsed Senator Rockefeller's statement 'that companies assured by top administration officials that the surveillance program was legal "should not be dragged through the courts for their help with national security." Of course that is complete bullshit and no one should believe Rockefeller, with all the telecom cash that he gets from their lobbyists.
I wonder how much Feinstein gets from them as well?
Racial profiling is generally seen by civilized society as a no-no but not so much by the nation's police forces. True to form, the LAPD's "strategy" of documenting the Muslim communities of Los Angeles is sparking outrage while the LAPD Deputy Chief Michael P. Downing sees it as finding terrorist cells. I'm sorry Mr. Downing, but this sh*t just ain't gonna work.
From The Huffington Post:
The LAPD's counterterrorism bureau plans to identify Muslim enclaves in order to determine which might be likely to become isolated and susceptible to "violent, ideologically based extremism," said Deputy Chief Michael P. Downing on Thursday.
"We want to know where the Pakistanis, Iranians and Chechens are so we can reach out to those communities," said Downing, who heads the counterterrorism bureau.
On Thursday, several Muslim groups and the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California sent Downing a letter expressing "grave concerns" about the program.
"Singling out individuals for investigation, surveillance, and data-gathering based on their religion constitutes religious profiling that is just as unlawful, ill-advised and deeply offensive as racial profiling," said the letter.
It is unlawful, it is ill-advised and extremely offensive, not to only Muslims but society as a whole. Mr. Downing and the rest of the LAPD should be shamed out of trying to put this into practice, unless they have already started of course. You know, this wouldn't be the first time for the Los Angeles Police Department.
Spitzer may be in the local and national spotlight over his drivers license fiasco but at least New York doesn't have Sonny Perdue. The Georgia Governor is doing his best to help his drought-stricken state by....praying. He is also urging people to conserve water but that doesn't really help the towns that can only have access to water for three hours a day. What Perdue thinks he'll get from prayer, only the lord knows.
From The Boston Globe:
The governor will host a prayer service next week to ask for relief from the drought gripping the Southeast.
"The only solution is rain, and the only place we get that is from a higher power," Perdue spokesman Bert Brantley said on Wednesday.
Perdue's office has sent out invitations to leaders from several faiths for the service, set for Tuesday.
Perdue has several times mentioned the need for prayer -- along with water conservation -- as the state's drought crisis has worsened. Over the summer, he participated in day of prayer for agriculture at a gathering of the Georgia Farm Bureau in Macon, Ga.
This may score political points with his Christian conservative base, but what will it do for thirst of Georgians regardless of their faith or those that are atheist or agnostic? I'm all in favor of prayer, but practical solutions need to be looked at. Putting down the debate over climate change might be a good one to examined as well. Can Senator Inhofe and his doubting friends try to end their ignorance now?
Tucker Carlson, the ever-faithful conservative twit that he is, tried to use the media narratives to paint Dennis Kucinich as an uppity radical. Instead of making Kucinich look like this is all for his Presidential campaign, Dennis runs all over Tucker, reminding him of what is written in the Constitution and the crimes committed by Dick Cheney that justifies this imperative action of impeachment.
A chunk of what you pay to the state of New York is going to go the defense of LMDC. The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation is a state agency that is being probed for criminal negligence due to two firefighters deaths in August when the old bank building was ablaze. They died because they were trapped with no water because the standpipe they were to rely on was deliberately cut. Now the LMDC is spending a million dollars of our state's money to defend themselves.
The Lower Manhattan Development Corp.'s board on Thursday approved the contract with Dechert LLP to represent the state rebuilding agency in probes into the blaze at the former Deutsche Bank tower. It was among $10.4 million in expenses approved to continue the cleanup and dismantling of the 26-story tower just across from the World Trade Center site.
The Manhattan district attorney's office and the state attorney general's office are investigating the fire at the partially dismantled, contaminated building, which officials have blamed on a construction worker's tossed cigarette.
But the probes have focused on oversight for the LMDC-owned tower, which had no fire plan; a deliberately cut standpipe that hampered firefighting efforts in the blaze; and the selection process for contractors and subcontractors.
The inaction of LMDC is telling enough of how they cared for the safety in that damaged building. Instead of confessing to the obvious, LMDC and the city are trying their best to escape blame by throwing taxpayer dollars to attorneys that might or might not get them off from being held responsible. This is a cowardly act to say the least. Both the LMDC and city agencies should quit this crap and stand up to be held accountable. Those two dead firefighters and their families deserve as much.
Now it is all over, by a vote of 53-40 Michael Mukasey is our new Attorney General and we have Chuck Schumer (my bastard Senator) and Dianne Feinstein (my previous bastard Senator) to thank for it. This vote would never have happened if they did not move his confirmation process out of committee. Instead of respecting the rule of law they bowed down before their almighty Bush.
From The Huffington Post:
Mukasey was confirmed as the nation's 81st attorney general after a sharp debate over his refusal to say whether the waterboarding interrogation technique is torture.
Republicans were solidly behind President Bush' nominee. Democrats said their votes were not so much for Mukasey as they were for restoring a leader to a Justice Department left adrift after Gonzales' resignation in September.
In the end, Mukasey was confirmed by a 53-40 vote. Six Democrats and one independent joined Republicans in sealing his confirmation.
Hmm, I wonder who that one Independent is?
Feinstein and Schumer came out with equally lame excuses for their actions. Feinstein said that without his confirmation the Justice Department would not have a leader for 14 months. Look Senator, he is not a leader, he will be a tool of George Bush, just as Gonzales was.
Mukasey might not be as much as a proactive tool like Gonzales, but he still bent his answers in committee so that he would not have to prosecute his new boss for war crimes. That goes for Schumer too, who said that Mukasey assured him if the Senate votes to define waterboarding as torture, then he'll act accordingly. Chuckie isn't a stupid man, he knows that any legislation has to go through the President and there is no way Bush would ever sign his own death sentence.
Chalk this one up as another sad moment for our nation.
Thursday, November 08, 2007
Faced with a mildly hostile Congress, record disapproval ratings and leading a war that is going miserably, what is a President to do? Well, if you are George Bush you might want to say something stupid to deflect people from the problems you've created. There are plenty of "bushisms" out there already, but he decided to add another. Here's today's quote and to be fair, the context of it as well.
REPORTER: Mr. President, you came down so hard on Burma and other nations for their crackdowns on pro-democracy demonstrators, yet you seem to be giving Musharraf a pass. So, the question is: Why are you going so soft on Musharraf? Is there a double-standard?
BUSH: I spoke to President Musharraf right before I came over here to visit President Sarkozy, and, uh, my message was that we believe strongly--in elections, and you ought to have elections soon. And you need to take off your uniform.
You can't be the president and the head of the military at the same time.
So I had a very frank discussion with him. Look: Our objective is the same in Burma as it is in Pakistan, and that is to promote democracy. There is a difference, however: Pakistan has been on the path to democracy. Burma hadn't been on the path to democracy, and it requires different tactics to achieve the common objective. And, uh, as I told you, I just spoke to President Musharraf before I came here and my message was very plain, very easy to understand, and that is: "The United States wants you to have the elections as scheduled, and take your uniform off."
Not only did he create a new Bushism, he continued to lie about the double standard between Pakistan and Burma. He also demonstrates he has no idea about who is on what path to democracy in either country. Supporting a dictator with a billion dollars a year to do almost nothing is Bush's idea of someone who respects the rule of law (even though Musharraf doesn't give a damn) while the U.S. does next to nothing to help free the immensely popular Aung Suu Kyi.
People call him stupid, moronic and incompetent, but it takes real skill to say and do all the terrible and stupid things throughout his Presidency. Oh and by the way, having the office of President entails the job of being the Commander-in-Chief in case you didn't know.
Remember when Bush asked for another $196 billion dollars for his illegal and immoral war? Well the Democrats are talking tough again, they are going to shut down the war, demand the troops come home immedia....oh wait a moment, my imagination took over from the reality of what is actually happening. Reid, Pelosi et al. are going to give Bush a measly $50 billion (gasp) and ask (pretty, pretty please) that he start bringing troops home so that we'll be out of there by the end of next year. How much would you bet that Bush doesn't follow their suggestion?
"This is not a blank check for the president," she said at a Capitol Hill news conference. "This is providing funding for the troops limited to a particular purpose, for a short time frame."
The bill would set the requirement that troop withdrawals begin immediately and that soldiers and Marines spend as much time at home as they do in combat.
The measure also identifies a goal that combat end by December 2008. After that, troops left behind should be restricted to a narrow sets of missions, namely counterterrorism, training Iraqi security forces and protecting U.S. assets, Democrats say.
Bush rejected a similar measure in May, and Democrats lacked the votes to override the veto.
Blah, blah, blah. It is a blank check, just not with the number Bush wants. He'll veto it with Republican support and make them cower into their
holes offices until Pelosi and Reid agree to his every demand. If our "leaders" had any backbone, they'd cut off the funding now. Not tomorrow, not next week, not next month, now. Sadly, they don't and because of it more of our soldiers will be wounded, emotionally scarred or be sent home in a coffin.
Fox does what it takes to get ratings and all things newsworthy are cast to the wayside. Robert Greenwald's new short film takes a look at how bad it really is over at Murdoch's cable channel:
To the dismay of the Bush Administration, the House mustered its first successful veto override. Unfortunately it did not have to do with the war in Iraq or the damaging blows to our Constitution, but it did help the infrastructure of the country. The Water Resources Development Act is a comprehensive spending bill meant to fund numerous project across the U.S., dealing with everything from helping the navigation of rivers to restoring the Gulf Coast after being battered by Hurricane Katrina. Republicans tend to support the President despite Democrats writing good bills, but the projects affect too many GOP districts to be allowed to die by the President's pen.
From The Los Angeles Times:
The Water Resources Development Act authorizes about 900 projects across the country, including millions of dollars to protect the Gulf Coast from storms and to restore the Florida Everglades. For California, it authorizes $1.3 billion for projects, including $25 million for revitalizing the Los Angeles River and $106 million to continue shoring up levees in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and an author of the bill, said the president should respect the wishes of lawmakers. "We are elected too. We are close to the people. We know what their needs are," she said.
The bill was the fifth bill to be vetoed by Bush, but the president has increasingly waved his veto pen since Democrats took control of Congress. The override is the first since 1998, when Congress reversed President Clinton's veto of $287 million worth of military construction projects from a spending bill.
Both the House and Senate cleared the veto override hurdles with ease. Thirty-four Republican Senators joined 138 GOP members of Congress to help the Democratic majority thwart the President. Water is our most precious resource, and it must be treated that way by our government.
Watching the debate last week between the Democrats, the thought of switching Kucinich's brain with another candidate crossed my mind a couple times. Seeing "Young Frankenstein" on Broadway three days ago brought the idea up again. If only that machine was more than a mere prop and my name was really Frederic Frankenstein.
I know he isn't electable, the UFO question during the debate was the media's way of trying to make him look crazy and the anti-choice positions he neatly turned off before running last time is a little irksome. Despite all that, this man is standing up for something that I hold very near and dear. It is called our Constitution....and it has been degraded by Republicans like Cheney, Bush and Rumsfeld, with no restorative help from the Democratic Congress.
Very few Democrats stand with Kucinich's fight for impeaching Dick Cheney (22 co-sponsors to be exact). It is a sad sight when a man with an 11 percent approval rating can hold the majority in such fear. But this isn't about polls. It is about that document written by Jefferson, Madison, Adams and the rest that have guided our country for the last 200 years or so. The Bush Adminstration's willful disregard for the laws of our land demands action from the Congress to show that we hold our leaders accountable.
After Republicans tried to call Kucinich's "bluff" the other day, Harry Smith of CBS had him on the show to talk about the impeachment issue and it wasn't pretty. Smith is doing his part for the traditional media by making impeachment look like a crazy idea, something used for political grandstanding when in fact, it is a necessary tool to protect our laws when people like Bush and Cheney callously disregard them.
Kucinich was fantastic despite the persistent attack from Smith. Why people do not get that impeachment is something we must do not for political maneuvering but out of principle is a dangerous sign for our democracy. How far will we have to fall into authoritarianism until people like Smith realize the severity of what is going on around us? When they do wake up from their ignorance, will it be too late to save us?
The Writers' Guild strike has made headlines, but kids are continuing their "photo-op" strike with Members of Congress who still refuse to support S-CHIP legislation. Democrats might want to hold on to this kid, he's probably a better negotiator than all of them combined.
The New York State Public Service Commission ordered Con Edison to pay customers $18 million dollars for their shoddy service and for not complying with requirements. Con Ed failed to meet conditions that would ensure good service to its rate payers, but does $18 million even begin to cover their actions? Many people think not, especially if they live in Westchester, Queens and the Upper East Side.
From The New York Times:
Councilman Eric N. Gioia, who represents much of the area affected by the blackout, said:
I am disappointed that Con Ed was not fined more. This money is nothing in relation to what the people of Queens endured. When a devastating power outage like the one in Queens threatens lives, hurts businesses, and affects hundreds of thousands of people, Con Edison needs to be held to the highest levels of accountability. They are still getting away with poor service at high prices.
Assemblyman Richard L. Brodsky, a Westchester Democrat who oversees commissions and authorities, and who had urged the Public Service Commission to scrutinize Con Edison, said in a statement:
Today’s fine is a pittance compared to the damage Con Ed has caused by its unreliable service. At a time when the company is reporting record profits, we are not satisfied with receiving only a small fraction of the scrutiny that we have requested. We will continue to investigate Con Edison’s service reliability and quality, and we will continue to work to reverse the harms that electric deregulation has caused to New Yorkers. The P.S.C. had walked away from its legal duty to ensure adequate, safe and reliable electric service at affordable prices in this state, and the committee will bring transparency and accountability into the manner in which the electric industry was deregulated.
The Commission that slapped Con Ed on the wrist is also initially backing the utility's request for a large rate hike next year. $18 million is a lot of money to ordinary folks, but Con Ed takes in billions of dollars every year. Even though the P.S.C. only granted half of what they wanted, $618 million in increases is still a hefty sum. Before they even think of getting that formally approved, Con Ed needs to do more than talk, they need to physically fix the problems they create, whether it involves storms or man-made explosions.
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
Michael Goodwin of the Daily News is a buffoon for opining that those that protested in front of Schumer's home this week were "loony." Yet for Democrats.com to try and boycott the paper is a case of throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Goodwin probably should apologize, be fired or at least reprimanded for his column, but discarding the Daily News is a little bit too much.
To some degree, the Daily News is a rag. Nevertheless there are plenty of good attributes about this one of many New York City papers. Would a New York progressive scoff at their post today giving Democrats the chance to show that yesterday's election was "At most, this was a status quo election, with a few Democratic pickups." Nah, I am certainly not. Sure, the article also gives the Republicans a chance to talk back, but a true rag would never give two sides of a partisan debate equal weight.
Oh and that whole subway fare increase issue? The Daily News is one of the leaders in going after the M.T.A. and pointing out that it is not the time for an increase in what we pay to ride underground. Tell me how many Democrats are arguing in favor of paying more for a MetroCard? There are definitely not many out there.
So is the Daily News perfect? Of course not. Neither is the NY Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal and a whole host of daily publications. I read all of those papers and disagree with them often, but that doesn't mean I will boycott a newspaper based on one lousy editorialist.
Everyone is paying attention to Ron Paul. Internet fanatics have loved the web traffic about him for a while. Now political bigwigs are opening their ears, eyes and minds at the incredible amount of money he raised in one single day. I would love to see a people-powered Democrat raise cash like that but it is still a testament to the increasing status of the Internet.
Now, will it translate into votes? Obama and Dean will be watching for sure.
In case you listen to George Bush about the strength of the U.S. economy, this might be a bit of a surprise. Ladies and Gentlemen, our fiscal solvency is in the shitter and that might be better if I was saying that literally. Figuratively speaking, the dollar is taking a beating today and the last few months and years might just be the beginning of it. A long time ago (1970s approx.) the British Pound was worth the same as one of our greenbacks. Now it is trading one to $2.10 and the Euro is now valued at $1.47. A few years ago you could get a Euro for eighty cents. Why is this happening to us? Well.....
From The Guardian:
Analysts said today's falls had been sparked by comments made by Cheng Siwei, vice chairman of China's National People's Congress. He told a Beijing conference on Tuesday that China would "favour stronger currencies over weaker ones, and readjust accordingly".
A vice director of China's central bank, Xu Jian, was also quoted as telling the conference that the dollar was "losing its status as the world currency".
Thanks to China's booming exports, the country now holds the largest reserves of foreign currency in the world. The People's Bank of China reported last month that at the end of September, China's foreign reserves were worth $1.434 trillion.
Adam Cole of RBC Capital Markets said this morning that the comments from the two Chinese officials had "clearly been the catalyst" for the latest dollar weakness.
This isn't China's fault however, at least not entirely. The status of the dollar has been weakening and the American trade deficits definitely figure prominently into the mix. Chinese statements might have been the catalyst for today's decline, but that isn't the only country that can spell disaster for the dollar.From Currency Trading:
Countries are growing weary of losing money on the falling dollar. Many of them want to protect their financial interests, and a number of them want to end the US oversight that comes with using the dollar. Although it’s not clear how many of these countries will actually follow through on an abandonment of the dollar, it is clear that its status as a world currency is in trouble.
Obviously, an abandonment of the dollar is bad news for the currency. Simply put, as demand lessens, its value drops. Additionally, the revenue generated from the use of the dollar will be sorely missed if it’s lost. The dollar’s status as a cheaply-produced US export is a vital part of our economy. Losing this status could rock the financial lives of both Americans and the worldwide economy.
Most Americans aren't too aware of this potential and very likely economic catastrophe. China has taken care of the dollar despite it's weakness so that they could continue to flood the U.S. market with cheap goods and spike their manufacturing output. Yet that track can only be a downward spiral in the eyes of economists that can think long-term, eventually this is going to catch up to us.....and the future isn't as far off as it seems.
Police groups argue that tasers are a great way to use non-lethal force to subdue dangerous assailants. How an 82 year old schizophrenic is a danger to society and the Chicago Police is not even up for debate. Yet police used 50,000 volts on her anyway. This is a closed case example of police brutality, but it isn't an isolated incident. Cops love to use these things on whoever they want, and we aren't just talking about Ben Stiller and Robert DeNiro's shocking scene.
From The New York Times:
Officers arrived and in an attempt to subdue Fletcher one of them used their Taser, Bond said. The department is trying to determine if the officer violated department policy regarding the use of stun guns.
On Tuesday, Fletcher said officers had pushed their way into her home. ''They shocked me,'' she said.
Fletcher at times sounded confused during the telephone interview. Her granddaughter Traci Taylor told the Chicago Sun-Times that her grandmother suffers from schizophrenia and dementia.
''My grandmother is easily confused,'' Taylor told the newspaper, adding that the elderly woman can be belligerent but is about 5 feet 1 and no more than 160 pounds.
''I just don't think they should be Tasing 82-year-old women. That's ridiculous,'' Taylor said.
Yes Traci, that is ridiculous.
Yet it is only one example of a growing problem around the country. Those "non-lethal" devices aren't so harmless and have been attributed to over 150 deaths. Perhaps some cops get a kick out of seeing people simultaneously convulsing and glowing with their stun guns, but to human rights groups, it is a tragedy. If you know of anyone being abused by cops in this way, check out this site here. This abuse must stop!
Colbert may not be able to do his show with the WGA strike going on, but he did introduce Nancy Pelosi for Glamour Magazine's award show at Lincoln Center this week. At least I can see something funny from him while WGA fights it out with the studios.
With all of the news coverage about Bernie Kerik's ties to Rudy Giuliani, the indicted Kerik felt the need to talk about their relationship with the press. Why anyone would believe what he has to say is beyond me but the interview is noteworthy for one reason and one alone. It all comes down to loyalty. As both men have mob connections (Kerik's are obvious and Rudy has his family) the most important thing is loyalty, forget about facts, logical reasoning, geopolitical knowledge or any other quality that would make for a fit President. Well, it appears that both men are sticking to each other to the end, as Kerik shows in CBS interview.
When asked why he thinks Giuliani hasn't run away from him, Kerik said despite likely political pressure to do so, the former mayor is strong in his convictions.
"It's his demeanor, his personality, the way it's always been," Kerik said. "He's going to stand up for what he believes."
Kerik scoffed at suggestions that he was a keeper of Giuliani's secrets.
"There's no secrets about Giuliani," Kerik said. "And you're one -- if there were secrets, you'd know it."
Despite Giuliani's loud mouth, I'm sure there are plenty of secrets. Lies and secrets generally go hand in hand, and we know Rudy tells plenty of whoppers. Although I doubt the two of them (and especially Rudy) obey the law of omertá, loyalty is still the key for both of them and will carry many secrets to the grave.
Although 2007 is technically an off year in politics, there were still a few races around the country yesterday. Just as the national polls have shown, the results reflected the mood that people want change from what Republican power has done to America. With a President that has the worst polls ever, people are electing Democrats by and large to try and combat the mess that Repubs have put us in.
In Kentucky Governor Ernie Fletcher was easily defeated by Steve Beshear. When you google Kentucky and corruption, Fletcher is all over the place. From now on, googling Governor and Kentucky will give you the Democrat that hasn't been in office in twenty years. Cheers to Kentucky for making the right choice.
Down in Virginia, the red state turned purple is becoming increasingly blue. Democrats took over the State Senate last night, sweeping out a few incumbents in the process. Next year should be even better, as Warner (R) retires, it is looking a lot better for Warner (D) to take his seat, especially with the success he had at his previous job.
Here in New York Democrats fared pretty well despite all the controversy surrounding Spitzer and his drivers license fiasco. Both sides are claiming victory, but what really counts is next year, when we take back the State Senate from the hands of the corrupt Joe Bruno. As The Albany Project put it, the GOP's perfect storm fizzled.
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
Smith tells Wadhams that she can't have it both ways when talking about the danger with Pakistan and nuclear weapons. The only thing is that it is Shephard that is trying to have it his way. You can't go on air and blindly make people afraid without addressing the geopolitical realities on the ground.
Hillary's memorable words about lobbyists at YearlyKos continue to haunt her three months later. She definitely loves those influence peddlers that roam the halls of Congress, "people" being paid by all sorts of corporate and national entities, including the government of Pakistan. So when Hillary said that lobbyists were people too, maybe she meant the representatives of a military dictator with nuclear weapons.
From The Huffington Post:
Like others in the race for the White House, Hillary Clinton has strong words for Pakistan, but has yet to propose the United States seriously consider limiting its aid to the country. But unlike the other leading Democratic presidential hopefuls, Edwards and Obama, she has accepted tens of thousands of dollars from Pakistan's lobbyists, Cassidy & Associates. Its founder, Gerald Cassidy, long ago maxed out his donations to her.
According to the Foreign Agents Registration Act website, Pakistan recently hired Cassidy and Associates for a one year, $1.2 million/year contract. The Cassidy contract with Pakistan makes for good reading. For the $1.2 million, "target audiences will be identified for critical message reception," and Cassidy will inventively move beyond pushing pieces in the mainstream media, also focusing on blog outreach. In other words, Cassidy will shill and propagandize for one year, and use its contacts in Washington--presumably including Clinton--to ensure that the billions in aid are not diminished, regardless of what the government does to its citizens and its elections. According to The Hill, Pakistan's lead lobbyist is Robin Raphael, who served in the Clinton administration.
While not prohibited by law, accepting such a donation necessarily raises questions about the effect this relationship--and similar ones--will have on her policies in the White House towards Pakistan should she win the 2008 contest, or in the US Senate should she not. The influence of money is never straightforward, of course. Joe Biden, the other democratic Presidential candidate to receive money from Cassidy, has called for cutting off support to Pakistan if it does not change course.
I'm glad to see that Hillary is such a people-person.
While Bloomberg's supporters claim he's running against Spitzer in three years and the Mayor denies it, there is an election here in the city today. The slate is relatively slim and 2007 is an off year when you figure in Presidential, Congressional and Mayoral races, but people especially in Brooklyn should be paying attention and making a choice for who they want to represent them. The Daily News lists all the questions on the ballot (depending on where you live of course:
Incumbent Staten Island District Attorney Dan Donovan has faced a surprisingly strong challenge from Democrat Michael Ryan, although he is still expected to win. Queens District Attorney Richard Brown and Bronx DA Robert Johnson are facing no opposition. City Councilman Mathieu Eugene, who won a special election in April, faces Republican challenger Clarence John in Brooklyn's 40th District, which includes parts of Crown Heights and Flatbush. Councilman Vincent Ignizio, of Staten Island's 51st District, is running after a special election but has no opponent. Close to 20 judicial slots are open in the five boroughs, with both Brooklyn and Staten Island choosing Surrogate's Court judges. Former Councilman Noach Dear is poised to win a seat on the Civil Court in Brooklyn. To find out if a judge is running near you, go to www.nycourts.gov There is one citywide question on the ballot: whether the state should give up an acre of forest preserve to create a drinking supply for an upstate hamlet.
Polls are open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Be sure to get your post-election results, WCBS-TV provides a host of links that will assist in combing through the numbers. Happy voting to all!
Once again, Olbermann nails the subject of waterboarding and how George Bush implements that torture technique with our "enemies."
If there is one thing you must applaud the Bush Administration for, its their chutzpah. The irony, sad and pathetic as it is, is quite funny when you look at their record and compare it to their actions. Take for example the crisis in Pakistan. The dictator that we have given a billion dollars a year to fight terrorism has now shut down any type of democracy that might have been progressing in that cataclysmic country. The White House has some advice for them (no, not this advice) and from it, you can hear the jokes burgeoning out of the statements.
During today’s White House press briefing, spokeswoman Dana Perino condemned Gen. Pervez Musharraf’s declaration of “emergency rule” in Pakistan. She said that the administration is “deeply disappointed” by the measure, which suspends the country’s constitution, and believes it is never “reasonable” to “restrict constitutional freedoms in the name of fighting terrorism”:
Q: Is it ever reasonable to restrict constitutional freedoms in the name of fighting terrorism?
MS. PERINO: In our opinion, no.
George Bush would never, never ever, never restrict our freedoms, right?
Once the Writers Guild comes back from striking (assuming that Big Media caves to their demands soon) Obama is going to find himself a mortal enemy in Stephen Colbert. It turns out that South Carolina Democrats turned down the popular Comedy Central "newscaster" in his bid to run for President in his homestate because of two well placed phone calls from Obama supporters.
Now the campaign denies that they had anything to do with this as one would expect a campaign to deny bad stories like these. Why would Barack Obama be afraid of little ol' Stephen Colbert anyways? It isn't like his poll numbers were any good or in double-digits.
Colbert only had a chance in the Democratic primary, where a spot on the ticket costs $2,500 as opposed to the Republican's $35,000 entrance fee. It's all about money on the "R" side, but even the "D"s have their egos.
Forget Iran, this is the country we need to be paying attention to. While Bush continues to be friendly with a dictator, Pakistan is extremely unstable and now the house of cards might be falling. Canadian CBC News does a lengthy segment on the situation in what is termed "the most dangerous country in the world."
Even though thinking of uttering those two words can be anxiety-ridden for many, it is generally a good thing to do when you have made a mistake. When politicians make mistakes (which is all the time) it is even harder for them to own up to their actions. Yet with enough public pressure and especially from those offended by an elected official, you can get an apology, even with Mayor Bloomberg...well, sort of.
After a very public battle with the mayor over his late son's reputation, Zadroga says he finally got an apology and that he was satisfied.
"He admitted that he was misquoted and that he may have mis-said it," said James' father Joseph Zadroga. "It didn't come out the way that he wanted it to come out and obviously the press ran with it the wrong way."
Calling the mayor “gracious,” Zadroga’s father said Bloomberg also told him he would try to find a way for the September 11th victims’ memorial to also include those who have been sickened by the toxic dust and debris at the WTC site.
Admitting you were misquoted is not an apology, but mis-stating something is a little bit closer to what we usually deem an acceptance of responsibility. We are talking about a politician here, not a real human being or anything like that.
Zadroga's father was also very humble in return and was satisfied with the Mayor's statement that he would look into adding the heroes of 9/11 into the Victim's Memorial. In political-speak that sounds like placating to me, but who knows what could come out of all this bad press for Bloomberg. Maybe all of the victims of September 11th will get their due, we'll just have to see.
Monday, November 05, 2007
When the Founding Fathers wrote the words "We The People" into the constitution they wanted all citizens to benefit from a more perfect union and a promotion of the general welfare among other things. One such issue was helping to secure a free and vibrant press in America.
Well we now know that the Bush Administration and all of it's underlings are on a mission to destroy all the liberties we hold dear. By controlling the Postal Service, Republican appointees are going after small periodicals by dramatically raising their postage costs. Some people in the Congress are not too happy about that, but like with any other Congressional investigation, we get a lot of angry sounding speeches from legislators and in return they get "who me?" answers. Here's part of an exchange between Rep. Elijah Cummins (D-MD) and James Miller, the Chairman of USPS' board of Governors.
From Mother Jones:
"If these small publications go out of business, is that a win-win?" Cummings asked James Miller, chairman of the USPS's Board of Governors, the entity that approved the rate hikes, during one tense exchange.
"That's a hypothetical," Miller protested.
"Nah, nah, nah," Cummings said. "You got a lot of businesses that put out publications that are saying that this is going to affect them in a negative way.... I'm asking you a simple question. If they go out of business, is it a win-win?"
"I would say if they cannot cover their costs, it is a win-win situation," said Miller. "Let me tell you why I think that. Because other classes of mail would be covering their costs." He went on to explain that every American letter writer pays 200 percent of the cost of shipping his or her letter because small magazines and periodicals don't pay their fair share.
"So your answer is, it's a win-win for everybody but the people who go out of business," Cummings retorted.
"Yes, yes," Miller said, adding, "It's not that I'm heartless. It's not that we're heartless. We have to cover all sides. And I think the fairest thing is for every class of mail to cover the cost directly attributable to carrying their mail."
This is a Bushie going with the business model. If "x" is bad for business, then get rid of "x". Well sometimes "x" is a critical tool of democracy, both nationally and locally. The problem with their business model is that Bush's tools (like Miller) are so steadfastly wedded to their ideology that they forget where America's roots are. As Mother Jones points out in the article, George Washington wanted no postage fees for small periodicals. Instead their biggest costs are from the post office, not the payroll.
If these changes go into affect, many magazines such as "The Nation" and "The National Review" and many other smaller publications would have their doors shuttered by the Post Office's rate change. As long as people like James Miller around, expect American democracy to be on the decline as the neo-cons bow down to their gods made of money and bottom lines.
Project Censored is one of the best outlets to hear about what the traditional media will simply not report. Unless the regular media feel generous and give a couple minutes to real news instead of Britney, Lindsey or JonBenet Ramsey these are the top twenty-five stories from 2006-2007 you might not have heard about:
# 1 No Habeas Corpus for “Any Person”
# 2 Bush Moves Toward Martial Law
# 3 AFRICOM: US Military Control of Africa’s Resources
# 4 Frenzy of Increasingly Destructive Trade Agreements
# 5 Human Traffic Builds US Embassy in Iraq
# 6 Operation FALCON Raids
# 7 Behind Blackwater Inc.
# 8 KIA: The US Neoliberal Invasion of India
# 9 Privatization of America’s Infrastructure
# 10 Vulture Funds Threaten Poor Nations’ Debt Relief
# 11 The Scam of “Reconstruction” in Afghanistan
# 12 Another Massacre in Haiti by UN Troops
# 13 Immigrant Roundups to Gain Cheap Labor for US Corporate Giants
# 14 Impunity for US War Criminals
# 15 Toxic Exposure Can Be Transmitted to Future Generations on a “Second Genetic Code”
# 16 No Hard Evidence Connecting Bin Laden to 9/11
# 17 Drinking Water Contaminated by Military and Corporations
# 18 Mexico’s Stolen Election
# 19 People’s Movement Challenges Neoliberal Agenda (Free Trade through Central and South America)
# 20 Terror Act Against Animal Activists
# 21 US Seeks WTO Immunity for Illegal Farm Payments
# 22 North Invades Mexico
# 23 Feinstein’s Conflict of Interest in Iraq
# 24 Media Misquotes Threat From Iran’s President
# 25 Who Will Profit from Native Energy?
Even as a news junkie, I have heard next to nothing about numbers 3, 6, 8, 12, 15, 19, 21 and 25. Now imagine if you only get your news from CNN and MSNBC, or worse, just from Fox News.
As Walter Cronkite said of the group, "Project Censored is one of the organizations that we should listen to, to be assured that our newspapers and our broadcasting outlets are practicing thorough and ethical journalism." If journalists won't listen, then we need to do some leg work ourselves. Thankfully you can click on this link and help open your mind to what is going on in this big, bad world.
With the MTA's first board meeting tonight in Brooklyn, transit advocates have been increasingly clamoring for a halt to a fare increase slated for February. In addition to the Daily News daily assault against the MTA, state legislators have been joining the public chorus. Now the State Assembly and Senate are doing something that the rest of us can't, introducing a substantial budget increase for the MTA, a concrete solution that can put the brakes on the MTA's fare increase. State lawmakers today are announcing new legislation that would increase city and state aid to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority by $660 million, a boost they say could help stave off the fare hike scheduled for February. Transit advocates are rallying behind the bill and are planning to voice their opposition to higher subway and bus fares this evening in Brooklyn at the first public hearing on the fare hike. "The state has not been giving the MTA its fair share of revenue to operate the system," state Senator Thomas Duane of Manhattan, who is introducing the bill today, said. "It's the MTA's job is to make the fare hike seem inevitable," the chief attorney for the Straphangers Campaign, Gene Russianoff, said. "We have some good arguments that this one isn't." Ultimately, the decision to increase fares might come down to the Mayor. If Bloomberg is smart, he'll head the board's decision to hike the fare and come down on the side of New Yorkers and not a board that probably doesn't even ride the subway much.
From The NY Sun:
The proposal has finally hit some of the ears at the MTA. Some board members are pleased by it, but others still want to see $2 billion in funds for the next two years. According to board insiders, even this hefty sum doesn't seem to impress enough of the decision makers. For now, the MTA has a huge surplus and the body itself does not expect to run deficits until 2009.
State lawmakers today are announcing new legislation that would increase city and state aid to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority by $660 million, a boost they say could help stave off the fare hike scheduled for February.
Transit advocates are rallying behind the bill and are planning to voice their opposition to higher subway and bus fares this evening in Brooklyn at the first public hearing on the fare hike.
"The state has not been giving the MTA its fair share of revenue to operate the system," state Senator Thomas Duane of Manhattan, who is introducing the bill today, said.
"It's the MTA's job is to make the fare hike seem inevitable," the chief attorney for the Straphangers Campaign, Gene Russianoff, said. "We have some good arguments that this one isn't."
Ultimately, the decision to increase fares might come down to the Mayor. If Bloomberg is smart, he'll head the board's decision to hike the fare and come down on the side of New Yorkers and not a board that probably doesn't even ride the subway much.
Most people know the World Trade Center as two 110 story towers built in the 1970s and demolished by the terrorist attacks in 2001. However, hardly anyone is aware that the first World Trade Center was built in 1831 down on Pearl Street. The 19th century center of commerce is only a quick walk from what is known as Ground Zero. One building still remains at 213 Pearl after the two around it were demolished for new buildings. Now a developer wants to smash it down as well and a fight begins to save this historic landmark.
From AM New York:
The Greek Revival warehouse is in a lower Manhattan neighborhood that was part of "the process that made New York into America's great city," says historian Paul E. Johnson.
Alan Solomon, an amateur historian helping spearhead the effort to preserve the old red-brick warehouse on Pearl Street, said on Saturday that he believes its demolition to make way for a new Sheraton hotel could start as early as this week.
The warehouse was erected in 1831 -- one of the earliest examples of the Greek Revival style of a cluster of buildings that made up the original world trade center in lower Manhattan, long before the 110-story twin towers that opened in 1970. The Pearl Street wholesalers specialized in dry goods they shipped to storekeepers all over the country.
New York "became like a funnel through which the wealth of the Western world would now have to pass," according to a television documentary by Ric Burns called "The Town and The City." Narrow lanes like Pearl Street "were transformed into the first district in the world devoted exclusively to commerce."
And now it is on the brink of destruction, to make way for another downtown hotel. I am all for rebuilding and revitalizing the Financial District, but we can still preserve the history of our city in the process. This old Greek revival building definitely deserves it's due, a Sheraton can be built anywhere.
My friends, the real Rudy is finally starting to get out, the information has even made it across the pond to the United Kingdom. Michael Tomasky writes for the Guardian and nailed Giuliani in spectacular form, he is....George Bush with brains.
From The Guardian:
People of Britain: congratulations are in order. You have now joined ferret owners, sidewalk artists, hot dog vendors, publicly funded attorneys for poor people, low-income community college students, museum curators, a couple of innocent black men shot dead by the police, the sections of the New York City charter governing rules of succession to the mayoralty and, of course, Hillary Clinton, as objects of Rudy Giuliani's demagoguery and wrath.
You may by now have heard the story. In a radio ad that his campaign prepared for New Hampshire voters, Giuliani tells listeners that he was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2000 and goes on to say: "My chance of surviving cancer - and thank God I was cured of it - in the United States: 82%. My chances of surviving prostate cancer in England: only 44% under socialised medicine."
The numbers are false. The actual five-year survival rate in Britain is 74%, which is still lower than America's, but obviously high enough for the figure not to have constituted fodder for a campaign commercial. (Even the remaining, much smaller difference, is largely explained by more widespread screening in the US, which catches many more incidents of prostate cancer that are non-lethal).
Yet when Rudy's campaign was confronted with the truth behind his false numbers, he stubbornly continued the charade. Much like Bush Jr, his refusal to give ground in light of facts is astonishing. He has also had lots of practice being Mayor here for eight goddamn years.
So he sticks to the 44% even though it is really 74% and despite being called out for relying on "socialized medicine" here with NYC's health care plan, he staggers on with the ego that fights to be bigger than New York itself.
Yes Mr.Tomasky, Britain does have to take heed of this dangerous man. He is George Bush with brains and it scares the hell out of many of us back here on this side of the pond. As a New Yorker I've known only too well.
Sunday, November 04, 2007
The vast majority of New Yorkers who oppose a fare hike for the nation's largest subway system got a whiff of good news when the new chairman Dale Hemmerdinger responded to public outcries. The MTA is under an increasing attack from straphanger advocates and state legislators to wait and see about increasing the fare from $2.00 to $2.25. Up until now, the MTA has held steadfast to raising the price of a ride. Finally we have a slightly promising response.
From The Daily News:
Hemmerdinger, Gov. Spitzer's choice to lead the Metropolitan Transportation Authority board, said he's taken note of the escalating clamor from legislators, transit advocates, political leaders and riders who want fares to remain unchanged.
"I'm paying attention, myself and the board members," Hemmerdinger told the Daily News, which has launched a Halt the Hike campaign. "No one is ignoring what we're hearing from the public and the legislators. We're not deaf."
The state Senate approved Hemmerdinger's nomination on Oct. 22, several months after MTA staff proposed a series of higher prices for the subways, buses, commuter trains and regional bridges and tunnels.
It is a good thing that him and the board is hearing what New York is telling them, but how will that translate into action? If Hemmerdinger does more than smooth-talk the city, he will listen and promptly respond by delaying the board's decision until April. Legislators are not asking for a lot, just a few months' delay so that they can find the funding so that the people do not have to suffer a rise in the toll. With the MTA's budget in the black through next year, what is the harm in waiting?
Bloomberg has been warning city agencies to tighten their belts due to a downturn in real estate and Wall Street, but is there more to the city's upcoming fiscal woes? The New York Times certainly thinks so, and The Gothamist points out an interesting connection to former Mayor John Lindsay.
From The Gothamist:
Now The New York Times is reporting that the deals the Mayor has made with city unions may have hamstrung city budgets long after the billionaire politician has left office. Basically, these generous pay raises to unions including the police sergeants', sanitation workers', and police detectives, will lead to "expenses that stand to outpace revenue, especially toward the end of the city’s four-year spending plan."
Contracts like those as well as ones with city teachers (that boosted pay 40%) and with FDNY brass, may have left the city in the lurch long after the mayor's left office. Some critics are concerned, suggesting that the costs may force downsizing in the future, but Deputy Mayor Ed Skyler said, "You have to deal with these expenses whether you put them in the financial plan now or later. Not including them at this point would be burying your head in the sand.”The historical parallels to Mayor John Lindsay are worth mentioning. Lindsay was a Rockefeller Republican from the Upper East Side, much like Mayor Bloomberg. His negotiations with the city's public unions wound up being calamitous to the fiscal state of New York. The aftermath led to the city verging on the brink of bankruptcy and the turmoil of 1977.
Is New York in for another bankruptcy? I certainly hope not, but the numbers are not very comforting to say the least. Bloomberg's plan to save $500 million by cutting agency spending in the next budget might help in the short term, but those salaries could be devastating over the long run. Remember, the glitzy and glamorous New York everyone sees now is superficial for the most part. Just because there are several hundred Starbucks and even more bank branches does not mean all of the city is fiscally solvent.
Here's another brutally honest commentary from the one and only Bill Maher:
The neo-cons are so obsessed with spreading "democracy" around the world, they often forget that the means can copy the means instead of achieving the ends. With Pakistan falling into chaos yesterday George Bush's White House is in crisis mode, as a nuclear country just went nuclear politically speaking. The Bush Administration is in part responsible for propping Musharraf's dictatorship up and now it coming back to haunt them.
An Op-Ed in the New York Times highlights just how bad it is, for Pakistan and the Bush Administration:
Teresita Schaffer, an expert on Pakistan at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, called General Musharraf’s action “a big embarrassment” for the administration. But she said there was not much the United States could do.
“There’s going to be a lot of visible wringing of hands, and urging Musharraf to declare his intentions,” she said. “But I don’t really see any alternative to continuing to work with him. They can’t just decide they’re going to blow off the whole country of Pakistan, because it sits right next to Afghanistan, where there are some 26,000 U.S. and NATO troops.”
The hand-wringing began even before General Musharraf imposed military rule. Ms. Rice said she has had several conversations with General Musharraf in the past few weeks — the last one two days ago — in which she appealed to him not to declare emergency powers. The American ambassador to Pakistan, Anne W. Patterson, had also been exhorting General Musharraf and his top deputies against making that step, Ms. Rice said.
“We were clear that we did not support it,” Ms. Rice said, speaking to reporters aboard a flight from Istanbul to Israel, where she is traveling for regional talks. “We were clear that we didn’t support it because it would take Pakistan away from the path of democratic rule.”
But even as she criticized General Musharraf’s power grab, Ms. Rice stopped short of outright condemnation of General Musharraf himself, even going so far as to credit him for doing “a lot” — in the past — toward preparing Pakistan for what she called a “path to democratic rule.”
That seeming contradiction highlights the quandary in which the Bush administration now finds itself.
It will be interesting to see how Pakistan develops over the coming days and weeks, especially if an election can be held, if it all. Not to put it lightly of course, especially with armed fundamentalists in the country's hinterlands who would love to take over the nuclear arsenal. That would be the worst scenario and hopefully unlikely to occur. Nevertheless, we are left with a Pakistan that has seriously veered of course on the democratic road....something anyone could have seen coming years ago.