For the fourth night of Hanukkah, I am glad to say I was back here in L.A. for the holiday, or at least a few days of it. Last night Dad and I made potato latkes as well as the sweet potato kind (yum), brisket, gelt, spinach souffle and other things made their way to the table. It was a good thing there is no Balducci's here in L.A. because I wouldn't know how to explain this to any kosher Jew (if there was one in my immediate family that is):
Thanks to Nancy for taking this and the rest of the pics at the Roman styled Balducci's on 8th and 14th St.
Saturday, December 08, 2007
For the fourth night of Hanukkah, I am glad to say I was back here in L.A. for the holiday, or at least a few days of it. Last night Dad and I made potato latkes as well as the sweet potato kind (yum), brisket, gelt, spinach souffle and other things made their way to the table. It was a good thing there is no Balducci's here in L.A. because I wouldn't know how to explain this to any kosher Jew (if there was one in my immediate family that is):
Friday, December 07, 2007
While Fox News tries to spin that George Bush is gaining popularity (their 37% approval rating is supposed to be uplifting to wingnuts), military families are increasingly disappointed in the President. A recent poll shows bad news for George, where sixty percent do not like his handling of the war and only 37 percent approve of him at all. This of course, is much, much different than a few years ago.
"Patience with the war, which has now lasted longer than the U.S. involvement in World War II, is wearing thin -- particularly among families who have sent a service member to the conflict," reports the Los Angeles Times' Faye Fiore. "One-quarter say American troops should stay 'as long as it takes to win.' Nearly seven in 10 favor a withdrawal within the coming year or 'right away.'"
The new numbers stand in stark contrast to a poll of military families conducted by the University of Pennsylvania three years ago, in which twice as many individuals approved of the president's performance.
The poll also finds more support for Democrats than Republicans when it comes to "treatment" of active-duty military personnel, indicating that a "plurality of military-family members, 39 percent, say they believe Democrats are likely to do a better job handling those issues, compared with 35 percent for Republicans," according to Bloomberg news.
Generally, military families stay with the President in wars, but not in this case. In Iraq, there is nothing good to be seen coming out of Iraq. Our troops are dying for no good reason, even while Bush continues to parrot the same tired old lines. After awhile, more and more people will continue to abandon this bastard, how on Earth there are still supporters is flabbergasting.
If George Washington would have met Mitt Romney, he would have laughed him away from politics. The Founding Fathers for the most part believed that the church should be separated from the state, but not good ol' Mitt. His speech on religion showed how welcomes many different types of beliefs, but not those that do not believe or ascribe to organized religion.
From TPM Election Central:
A spokesman for the Mitt Romney campaign is thus far refusing to say whether Romney sees any positive role in America for atheists and other non-believers, after Election Central inquired about the topic yesterday
It's a sign that Romney may be seeking to submerge evangelical distaste for Mormonism by uniting the two groups together in a wider culture war. Romney's speech has come under some criticism, even from conservatives like David Brooks and Ramesh Ponnuru, for positively mentioning many prominent religions but failing to include anything positive about atheists and agnostics.
Indeed, the only mentions of non-believers were very much negative. "It is as if they're intent on establishing a new religion in America – the religion of secularism. They're wrong," Romney said, being met by applause from the audience.
Seriously, you might want to keep those kinds of ideas underneath the surface. There are certainly plenty of Americans who think on a similar wavelength, but would rarely dare to espouse it publicly. Romney goes nuclear on religion, instead of respecting the divide between church and state he has went above and beyond the other Republican candidates who merely touch the subject lightly.
Secularism is not a religion, it is the antithesis of religion. You can get Bill O'Reilly to nod along with that speech but forget about those that can think with their heads out of the ground.
Just in case you didn't know, stereotyping is generally bad:
It's been more than two weeks since the Rudy bombshell dropped and there has definitely been a toll taken on Giuliani's campaign. His numbers are in the toilet, both in early states and nationally, where he was last tied with Mike Huckabee. In South Carolina, Huckabee is now up seven points on Rudy. All of this is tied to the "Sex on the City" scandal, sixteen days later, we have the Daily News interviewing Nathan's neighbors and finding out even more information.
From The Daily News:
Judith Nathan got taxpayer-funded chauffeur services from the NYPD earlier than previously disclosed - even before her affair with then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani was revealed, witnesses and sources tell the Daily News.
"It went on for months before the affair was public," said Lee Degenstein, 52, a retired Smith Barney vice president who formerly lived at 200 E. 94th St., Nathan's old building.
"It was going on longer than anybody thought," added Degenstein, who, along with others in the neighborhood, said they often saw Nathan hopping into unmarked NYPD cars in early 2000, before the affair was revealed that May.
Giuliani's aides wouldn't even fight it, they conceded on that point almost instantly. If I was Anthony Carbonetti, I'd be huddled in a corner, just praying that this all goes away. Maybe now they realize that fighting the charges isn't going to help. Many supporters want an explanation from him or just to fess' up to his actions surrounding his trysts with Nathan.
Yet they still claim she got the "protection" because she received threats in 2000. The story doesn't add up though, as residents say they saw her hop into unmarked cars back in 1999. They took her on errands, as neighbors saw plenty of shopping bags from many of NYC's high end stores. With a beau like Giuliani, I'm sure she got all the perks. The question is however, how many of those were funded by NYC taxpayers?
Any ordinary person can tell you that the way Congress works is confusing as f%@k. That little cartoon about how a bill becomes law that I saw when I was small is complete crap. Things do not work that simply. Due to the messy Congressional conflagration, there will be no Matthew Shepard Act this year which means that the public will get the message that Congress does not want hate crimes legislation extended to the GLBT community.
The bill, sponsored by Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., was widely supported by Democrats and some moderate Senate Republicans. But because it was attached to a major defense policy bill that would have authorized more money for the Iraq war, many anti-war Democrats said they would oppose it.
"We don't have the votes," said one House Democratic aide, who spoke on condition of anonymity because conference negotiations on the defense bill were ongoing. "We're about 40 votes short, not four or six."
The development is a blow to civil rights groups which say that broadening federal laws are necessary to address a rise in crimes motivated by hate and based upon a person's sexual orientation or gender identity.
So the bill had widespread approval, yet it failed. It failed because it was attached to a military spending bill and therefore it would be denied ironically by hardcore conservatives and anti-war Democrats alike. Conservatives (at least those ones) do not think gay people deserve to be protected from hate crimes....and while anti-war Democrats are in support of the Matthew Shepard Act, they do not care to fund more missile programs.
So if you want to blame someone, blame Pelosi for not sending the legislation to the floor for a vote. She says she won't give up on it, but in her mind, this isn't the right time. For now though, this is one more hurdle for victims of these hate crimes to get appropriate justice and also keeping the funds out of law agencies hands to prosecute the crimes.
Thursday, December 06, 2007
The "waste in Washington" is generally described as the frivolous money being spent by members of Congress and Senators alike who push large contracts back to their own districts. Giuliani loves to decry these on the campaign trail, despite being a recipient of numerous earmarks himself. Bush and others high up in the GOP lambast the earmarks, supposedly trying to act like good conservatives that rein in wasteful spending. Of course reality has a way of getting in these people's shpeels. Ted Stevens(R-AK) and Thad Cochran(R-MS) personify the GOP brand, one that wastes more than any other sets of politicians at any other given time.
From The Hill:
Sen. Thad Cochran (Miss.), ranking Republican on the Senate Appropriations Committee, has collected $774 million worth of earmarks in 12 spending bills. After Cochran, Sen. Ted Stevens (Alaska), the second-ranking Republican on Appropriations, secured more money for special projects than any other member of Congress: $502 million.
Rep. Bill Young (Fla.), the ranking Republican on the Appropriations Defense Subcommittee, is the second-biggest recipient of earmarked funds in the House, securing $161 million. Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.), the subcommittee’s chairman, secured $162 million in funds.
Taxpayers for Common Sense, a nonpartisan group that tracks earmarks and federal spending, compiled the figures.
Sure, there will be Democrats in that list. Not only Republicans are susceptible to greed and the old boys network. Still, there has never been a culture of corruption like that of the current GOP
Yes thats right, I extend a big thank you to the joke of a Presidential candidate and many others that share his hate towards those that aren't white and want to live in America. Their xenophobia of brown people is overwhelming, prompting even the moron-in-chief George Bush to try and take a more moderate tack concerning immigration and the United States. The wingers didn't allow George to get anything passed, so they are continuing their thinly veiled hate towards those of another ethnicity. Too bad for them it is turning what will potentially be the largest voting bloc in the country in years to come.
From Fox News (of all places):
By 57 percent to 23 percent, more Hispanic registered voters say they favor Democrats than Republicans, according to a survey by the nonpartisan Pew Hispanic Center.
That 34 percentage point Democratic edge — which includes people who said they lean toward either party — has grown since July 2006, when a Pew poll measured a 21 point difference. Then, 49 percent of registered Hispanic voters said they favored Democrats and 28 percent chose Republicans.
Well, well now, isn't that interesting. Why on Earth would a group generally considered to be socially conservative continue to heavily lean towards the Democrats? Sometimes respecting...and getting the respect you deserve regardless of skin color makes a tremendous difference in who you vote for on election day.
This is absolutely disgusting....and unfortunately the reality in America. The "income gap" and "divide between rich and poor" are merely phrases thrown around, but Brave New Films helps make it real:
When the information that Bush knew about the NIE before he knew what was in it smells like bullshit right off the bat. Now four former intelligence analysts are coming forward to tell the press that what Bush is trying to spin is completely and utterly ridiculous. Trying to blame this on Mike McConnell or any other CIA worker is, as they say, preposterous.
From The Huffington Post:
McGovern was totally incredulous: "The notion that the head of National Intelligence whispered in Bush's ear 'I've got a surprise for you and it's really important, but I'm not going to tell you about it until we check it out' -- The whole thing is preposterous," he said in an interview with The Huffington Post.
Riedel agreed, saying "the president either chose to ignore what he heard or his director of national intelligence is not doing his job." Riedel said he doubted McConnell failed to "do his part of the bargain."
"To me it is almost mind boggling that the President is told by the DNI that we have new important information on Iran and he doesn't ask 'what is that information?'" said Riedel, who is now a Senior Fellow at the Saban Center For Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution.
He said it wasn't the DNI's responsibility to tell the President to "stop hyperventilating about the Iranian threat."
Of course, all of those characters need to be held accountable for a whole slew of items, this one will just have to get in line with all the other gripes and crimes against the Bushies.
So Mike McConnell should be out of the picture when it comes to the blame game. The onus is on those that hyped the Iranian threat. So replace the blame for intelligence agents with neo-cons and Bush Administration pukes (types may overlap). Hadley, Bush, Cheney, Condi and many more deserve to be held accountable for exaggerating the capabilities of Iran and trying to provoke yet another war.
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
Texas Monthly recently did an interview with ex-Bushie Dan Bartlett. The conversation went back and forth between mundane and important issues for the most part. Katrina made his hair turn gray, but no mention of the suffering on the ground caused by the government's inaction. The West Wing isn't like "The West Wing," what a shock! The candor came when the subject of blogs came up, at first Bartlett expresses confusion as to if they are real journalists. Then he points out what he uses those that are sympathetic to Bush are for.
From The Texas Monthly:
What about the blogs?[...]I mean, talk about a direct IV into the vein of your support. It’s a very efficient way to communicate. They regurgitate exactly and put up on their blogs what you said to them. It is something that we’ve cultivated and have really tried to put quite a bit of focus on.
Bartlett was talking about bloggers that reach a large amount of conservatives, like Hugh Hewitt or some other like-minded turd. Of course, as Dan points out, they aren't real journalists. People who regurgitate information aren't journalists....um, well....at least they aren't good journalists that know how to do their jobs...ahem, Deborah Howell *cough*cough*.
Either he's (1) lying here, (2) plain stupid or (3) evil....take your pick:
I'm going to go with number one....and a little bit of number three. Okay, add in a pinch of number two just for fun.
Kids are ambitious little creatures. Being one not too long ago myself, I remember wanting to be in a whole assortment of professions, from sports to politics and beyond. Well so did the candidates who are now running for President. As the jokes are flying around about Hillary's campaign using Obama's kindergarten paper saying he wanted to be President as evidence to refute that he hadn't always had dreams of running the free world, you know everyone is going to jump in on this.
Edwards was no exception:
The biggest laugh of the afternoon came when Edwards mocked an attempt by one of his rivals, Hillary Clinton, to cast doubt on the truthfulness of another, Barack Obama. Edwards noted reports that after Obama said he hadn’t always wanted to win the White House, Clinton’s campaign countered with news that when he was in third grade, Obama wrote a theme saying he wanted to be president.
Edwards grinned as he recounted the Clinton campaign’s allegation. “I want to confess to all of you right now,” he told his audience, “in third grade, I wanted to be two things: I wanted to be a cowboy, and I wanted to be Superman.”
Hmm, sounds like a machismo thing to me. Forget policies, positions and principles, if a guy wants to be Superman as a kid, then clearly he is not capable of being President, the world needs more superheroes, not politicians.
You won't see that one on an SAT exam, but it should be required if you take the test here in New York. It is common knowledge to any New Yorker that if you rent, chances are your landlord sucks in some way or another. For me, nothing gets done with out problems. For the most part, I just call 311 if I want something fixed, otherwise they ignore me. When the temps were around zero this past February, coincidentally the heat went out for three days. So if it isn't a major problem, I just fix it myself, like water damage to my ceiling or a bad pipe under the sink. Compared to some renters in the city, that is nothing compared to what you will see in a Housing Court.
From The Village Voice:
Any given weekday, just poke your head into a hearing room in the city's housing courts. There, row upon row of despairing tenants grimly clutch legal papers that demand back rent and/or eviction. Stalking the aisles, briefcases in hand, shouting out the names of their next victims, is a platoon of lawyers, all of them representing building owners willing to spare no legal expense.
As combat, this has all the fairness of a Panzer division rolling up on a fife-and-drum corps.More than 90 percent of tenants arrive in these corridors without any kind of legal representation; for landlords, the ratio is the exact reverse. And no wonder: At stake here are the enormous profits that New York's housing market represents, now more than ever.
If you are looking for the proverbial stone to throw at Goliath's head, don't be surprised not to find anything. The real estate lobby is the king compared to the servants that try to reform laws for renters. The money to be made by de-stabilizing rent prices is too much for landlords to idly stand by, they look for anything to evict renters to make way for those that will pay market prices.
Assemblyman Jose Rivera, Maria Baez and others want to "balance" Speaker Quinn's legislation so that renters do not bring "frivolous" claims, so their bill will make it harder for tenants to come to court. Baez and Rivera claim to not be influenced by the Rent Stabilization Association (the real estate lobby), but all you need to do is follow the money. Baez's term is up on the Council and word has it she's running for Bronx Borough President. Want to take a guess at who has funded half of her campaign so far?
The crippling stories about the Presidential candidates are coming fast and furious lately. last week it was about Giuliani, then Hillary's negative attacks got bad press, now Huckabee has some serious explaining to do. Why on Earth would then-Governor Huckabee push for early release of a convicted rapist? Was it because the right-wing nuts pressured him to do so because one victim was related to Bill Clinton?
Honestly I did not know too much about the whole grading system Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Joel Klein at first. After doing some petitioning work over the weekend, I ran into a woman that made her own pitch to me about a site called Timeout from Testing, a group that opposes this system. After scrawling my name with a pen on her hand, she was determined that I sign the petition on the website. Once I read their viewpoint, it wasn't hard for me to endorse their stance.
Basically, they would rather reform and improve our city's school system rather than Klein's plan of closing the ones that aren't performing to their standards. It turns out, Klein wasn't issuing an empty threat, since six schools were marked for closure today. Parents were shocked and will now have to find their children new schools to continue their education.
Klein says its about giving the community options, but this is more of a mandatory decree than an independent choice. You would think that if a parent saw their child in a school that wasn't up to their standards, then they would petition to have their child transferred. Now that would be a choice.
The community that Klein talks about is speaking up for itself. Ordinary citizens and politicians alike are unhappy with this new policy and are fighting to undo this bureaucratic nuttiness. If you agree, sign their petition here.
Operation Lucky Bag is a deceptive name for a new type of sting set up by the New York Police Department. There is no luck involved here, if anything it would be bad luck to be associated with this, like what happened to Carlos Alayo. Being a Good Samaritan, he intended to try and take the wallet he found on a subway bench to the rightful owner, but the cops caught up to him first.
The 32-year-old had been ensnared in Operation Lucky Bag, an initiative from the New York City Police Department to lay decoys—shopping bags, purses, backpacks or wallets—around the subway system under the watchful gaze of officers who wait to see what passersby will do.
The decoys often contain real credit cards issued under pseudonyms to the police department. Theft of a credit card is grand larceny, a felony that could lead to jail time.[...]
The New York Civil Liberties Union said the decoy tactic could deter people from being good Samaritans and should be abandoned.
"I'm sure the NYPD has far more sophisticated tactics at their disposal than dropping wallets on their trains," said NYCLU executive director Donna Lieberman.
How this waste of time could possibly reduce crime is beyond me. Like The NYCLU spokeswoman said, the NYPD must have better ways of catching criminals than this. Police decoys may work to catch drug dealers and child predators, but to use it to catch burglars on the G train is just nuts.
These blogger-types, with laptops in hand, swarmed the ridiculously large McCormick convention center in Chicago this past August. The traditional media is afraid of them and many more are trying to get a handle on what the hell is going on here. Well I count myself as one of those swarmers....and Nerdcore Rising tries to document it here, all within ten minutes.
Great job nerds!
Our next President is going to have to sort out a lot of the damage to our country from the Bush Administration. Ultimately the voters are going to have to make a choice about not only who is going to restore our economy and credibility around the world, but if that man or woman wants to walk down that road in the first place. Rudy Giuliani is not that man. The example here refers to our global credibility. The adviser behind Giuliani is neo-con Norman Podhoretz and a definite sign that not only will Rudy maintain Bush's course, he'll swing it further from the realm of reality.
From Commentary Magazine:
But I entertain an even darker suspicion. It is that the intelligence community, which has for some years now been leaking material calculated to undermine George W. Bush, is doing it again. This time the purpose is to head off the possibility that the President may order air strikes on the Iranian nuclear installations. As the intelligence community must know, if he were to do so, it would be as a last resort, only after it had become undeniable that neither negotiations nor sanctions could prevent Iran from getting the bomb, and only after being convinced that it was very close to succeeding. How better, then, to stop Bush in his tracks than by telling him and the world that such pressures have already been effective and that keeping them up could well bring about “a halt to Iran’s entire nuclear weapons program”—especially if the negotiations and sanctions were combined with a goodly dose of appeasement or, in the NIE’s own euphemistic formulation, “with opportunities for Iran to achieve its security, prestige, and goals for regional influence in other ways.”
If he thinks the intelligence community is out to get Bush, who knows how far this man's paranoia reaches. See Norman, the intelligence agencies in our country are looking for the truth of what is going on in the world in regards to our interests.
Our interests do not include the politics of fear, that is what George Bush and Rudy Giuliani hope to play on. Scholars and Rogues has a more in-depth analysis here.
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
As many Jews and others know, tonight is the first night of Hanukkah. Presents will be unwrapped by the (low) millions and candles will be a blazin. So how fitting it is for atheist extraordinaire Christopher Hitchens to come out with an article bashing Hanukkah today.
Hitchens uses ancient history to blast the celebration and that the First Amendment would be a winner if menorahs were not hoisted in public areas. What a bunch of holy shit. If he really believed in the First Amendment, he would be happy to let everyone celebrate any holiday they chose, even if it was bowing to a pile of manure. Of course, as Daniel Radosh points out, Hitchens is more a fundamentalist atheist than someone that believes in freedom of...or from religion.
From The Huffington Post:
Rather what I mean is that Hitchens' ideas about the religious faiths he rejects are based entirely on fundamentalist interpretations of those faiths. For him there is only one true form of any religion -- the one handed down by God as transmitted by ancient religious authorities. Any variation on that is a false or deluded form of religion worthy only of dismisal. That's just what the fundamentalists say.
So when it comes to Hanukkah, Hitchens tells the true and rarely heard, during this season, story of the Maccabean revolt and concludes that, "The display of the menorah... has a precise meaning and is an explicit celebration of the original victory of bloody-minded faith over enlightenment and reason." [emphasis mine] He outright rejects liberal rabbi Michael Lerner's reinterpretation of the holiday.
But here's where Hitchens' own powers of reasoning fail him. Hanukkah has never had a single precise meaning. No religious holiday -- hell, no religion -- ever has. As an atheist, Hitchens must affirm that religion is a human construct that evolves according to human needs. To traditionalists who say, "but that's not what God meant," the response is simple: God doesn't make the rules. Hanukkah provides an ideal demonstration of this phenomenon. It began not as Hitchens claims, with the Maccabees, but earlier, as a winter solstace celebration, Nayrot, that was probably little different from the celebrations of the surrounding cultures of the era. Later, this merged with the celebration of the Maccabees' victory and became Hanukkah. Six hundreds years after that, as Jewish society had become more theistic and introspective and less militaristic, the supposed supernatural intervention of Yahweh became the most important thing about the holiday-- as seen in the newly evolved story of the miracle of the lamps. In the 19th century, Zionists adapted Hanukkah to their nationalistic idea of Judaism. In 20th century America, Hanukkah became, for all intents and purposes, the Jewish Christmas -- or more precisely, the secular Jewish alternative to a secular Christmas. In some ways it came full circle -- a winter solstace celebration once more -- but the millennia of history now attached to it made it all the more rich and more meaningful.
There is much more to Radosh's post and I suggest you read it, but these three paragraphs point out just how evangelical Hitchens is in his atheism. Hitchens is too narrow minded to look at a comprehensive history, of how the three large monotheistic religions used old zodiac customs to shape their own holidays and symbols. Hitchens is too obsessed on tearing down people's faith using strict interpretation of biblical and other religious documents. If he could open his mind perhaps he could see that people observe and celebrate in many different ways than what was contrived by elders thousands of years ago.
HotLine TV discusses Hillary's bad poll numbers, how her negative campaigning tactics are ultimately hurting her and what will happen from here on out for the Hillster:
For quite a few years now, it seems that every few months or so another archdiocese of the church is implicated in a case of sexual abuse by some priest or another. The latest one was in Iowa, where the local archdiocese settled with over 150 victims for $37 million dollars. With all of these cases costing the church (and subsequently church-goers donations) into the billions of dollars, what are they to do?
Well, perhaps coloring books might solve the problem:
NEW YORK -- A new coloring book being distributed by the Archdiocese of New York uses a cartoon guardian angel to warn kids against predators in what is apparently the first such effort by a Roman Catholic diocese in the United States.
But the head of an advocacy group for victims of abuse by priests said the book should say explicitly that trusted adults -- including priests -- may be the abusers.
In the coloring book, the perky guardian angel tells children not to keep secrets from their parents, not to meet anyone from an Internet chat room and to allow only "certain people" like a doctor or parent to see "where your bathing suit would be."
Oh wait, this addresses the problems of trusting strangers. Of course, the largest problem when it comes to sexual abuse is that most of the time the victim knows their assailant. Unfortunately the book barely addresses this, except in one small part of the book.
The closest the coloring book comes to directly addressing the church abuse scandal is a picture of a second angel -- not the guardian angel -- grinning at a priest and an altar boy through a wide open door. "For safety's sake, a child and an adult shouldn't be alone in a closed room together," the text reads. "
If a child and an adult happen to be alone, someone should know where they are and the door should be open or have a big window in it."
Don't be surprised to see continuing charges against these priests. As long as the church does not appropriately address the problem, it will continue.
As Rudy's poll numbers continue to shrivel on this seventh day of the "Sex on the City" scandal, Rudy pulls an unbelievable move. He apparently has no idea on how to respond to these irrefutable charges (is there any excuse except for "I'm really, really sorry?"). Instead of an apology, he touts a fiscal conservative record that we all now know he does not have.
From The Wall Street Journal:
With economic uncertainty weighing on the minds of many Americans, Congress is preparing to recess after another year of profligate spending, protectionist talk and promises of higher taxes. No wonder some people feel like we're moving in the wrong direction. But I'm optimistic as I look to the future. It's not our country that's moving in the wrong direction -- it's Congress, and Washington's culture of wasteful spending.
Over the last decade, nondefense spending has increased by 65% -- the federal government currently spends $24,000 per household -- while the number of earmarked pork projects rocketed from close to 1,000 ...
Wasteful spending? Really now Rudy, how many shovels are you going to use to dig yourself out of that hole? New Yorkers wastefully (and unwittingly) spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to ferry both his ex-wife Donna Hanover and at-the-time mistress Judith Nathan with NYPD security they clearly did not need. Paying cops to walk Judi's dog, if that is fiscal conservatism, then I want my own copy of City Hall's AMEX card. I need to finish shopping for the holidays and what the hell, I guess that would be fiscally conservative in Rudy's eyes.
Oh and by the way, Rudy also wrote about wasteful pork projects...he wouldn't be talking about the pork that was handed to him, now would he?
For anyone outside of Iowa that is wondering how the caucus works, the Edwards campaign makes it easy with this video. Of course it may not be how the other candidates would describe it, but you should be able to understand no matter who comes out on top on January 3rd.
Traditional media icons like David Gregory jump at the chance to blame anyone but themselves for the ridiculous amount of partisanship in our society. They'll hardly ever look at themselves and instead, go for who they think looks weak. For Gregory, that would be the internet and the blogosphere in particular.
Gregory must wear some crazy-ass prescription on those eyes of his. Many around the blogosphere are easily pointing out instances of the hostile rhetoric started by Republicans during the Clinton years. Did we advocate for Clinton's impeachment, talk up the alleged murder of Vince Foster or cause the ballot counting process to stop in 2000 down in Florida? Of course not, only an idiot would think that. Oh wait, my apologies to Gregory on that.
So what is the problem here, why all the hatred towards these lil' ole blogs? Sites like DailyKos, Huffington Post and FireDogLake are seeing their traffic increase while the traditional media stays flat or in some cases falling. It must be fear of the blogosphere's gaining influence, but really, there is nothing to fear, if only they would take a look at what blogs and new media are all about.
So it is funny that I saw Gregory mentioned in Crooks and Liars this morning, because I attended a forum a few hours ago at Baruch College here in New York talking about this exact subject. The Peter Vallone forum series had four new media "experts" to talk to the crowd of about 50-100. I think that the free breakfast brought many of those out at the early hour of 8am, but regardless, the discussion was an interesting one.
What Keith Okrosy, Maya Enista, Jon Auerbach and Andrew Rasiej covered was wide in scope, but definitely answered the question Gregory and his buddies need to ask. Enista, who runs mobilize.org told the crowd that this new media is a way for the younger generation (and the rest of the active community) to interact with the government in a way that top-down traditional media cannot. The spin of TV is wiped away by vigorous discussion on the blogs. Sites like facebook help people to identify with candidates whereas on TV those same politicians talk AT those watching the tube.
Andrew Rasiej, who ran unsuccessfully for Public Advocate here in NYC in 2005 also talked up new media. He says if he ran again he would definitely have a Facebook page as a starter, especially with more than 60 million now on the social networking site. Having a forum where supporters can have access to the campaign and voters can ask crucial questions is a ground-up approach to campaigning where the old traditional model provoked the apathy we see running so rampant in the country today.
Keith Orosky and Jon Auerbach added in their two bits as well. Keith talked about how politics and music can blend together, such as the case of the new Nine Inch Nails album and how fans quickly communicate amongst themselves about social action. Auerbach described himself as being on the cusp of old and new media, as he runs the free daily Metro NY paper that is handed out by hawkers by subway entrances. He calls the paper an "internet read transformed into print." He thinks that people on the net want quick soundbites and be able to read about their world in a 20 minute subway ride commute. Perhaps Jon might want to check out how TV news works, but then again, he did say he was on the cusp of old and new media, not embracing it.
So David Gregory could start there if he truly wanted to inform himself, but I suspect that he'll continue to act out of fear. Bashing the blogs is much easier than dealing with the new media landscape.
Kevin Martin is starting to look like he'll be visiting Congress soon, and not about any particular media related bill. Legislators are beginning to look into possible charges that he abuses his power as chair of the Federal Communications Commission. What a shock, someone appointed by the Bush Administration abusing their power, who woulda thunk it?
From The LA Times:
"Given several events and proceedings over the past year, I am rapidly losing confidence that the commission has been conducting its affairs in an appropriate manner," Rep. John D. Dingell (D-Mich.), chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, wrote to FCC Chairman Kevin J. Martin.
Dingell said he was concerned that the FCC had not made the full text of proposed rules available to the public before it voted on them, and that Martin often had not given other commissioners details of proposals until it was too late for them to fully analyze them.
Martin, a Republican, has faced criticism from lawmakers and fellow commissioners recently for how he has approached the contentious issues of re-regulating the cable TV industry and easing rules on the ownership of newspaper and TV stations in the same city.
Martin is going to start squirming. For several years the Republican leadership abdicated it's responsibility to hold Federal agencies accountable for their actions. Not surprisingly, rampant corruption and abuses of power ensued.
As for Martin, being the head of the FCC allowed his buddies in the telecommunication and media industries to take advantage of the public by consolidating and having much more freedom to restrict the flow of information. In turn, companies can own multiple television stations, newspapers and for telecoms, increase their share of cable and broadband users by being one of two or three companies in a market. In New York, the only places to get internet is Verizon and Time Warner. So these companies can charge whatever they want. In the age where the digital divide is increasing, these practices restrict information to the wealthier among us and hurt America as a whole.
You would think that the city would care about the victims of 9/11. Think again. The billion dollar insurance fund set up to take care of medical costs isn't helping those in need, instead they are fighting the claims in court, 8,000 to be exact. Michael Cardozo is the chief counsel for the fund, and he argues that because it is an insurance fund and not a compensation source, that every claim should be litigated.
So where does that money come from to defend the fund? Take a wild guess. Thousands of victims are in need to be compensated, and many claims are easy to see that they are open and shut. Medical bills should be paid out, but they are not. What a shame. Thankfully there are a few elected officials that are crying foul.
From The Daily News:
Homeland Security Department inspector general Richard Skinner said his probe will determine why the company "has chosen to litigate all claims instead of settling whenever possible."
Documents sent to Congress and due to be released later this week say the review also will determine "what procedures have been established to receive, review and pay medical, hospital, surgical and disability benefits to injured persons," as well as benefits to the relatives of those killed.
The insurance company has also been challenged by Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), the chairman of and ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
While Bloomberg wants an alternate fund to pay the open and shut cases, the city has not done anything to help in real terms. After more than six years, a matter like this should not even exist.
Unfortunately, it does.
Monday, December 03, 2007
At a press conference held today, State Senate Leader Joe Bruno was scrutinized for his employment at the Winthrop Corporation, an investment management firm that has and does handle millions for many labor unions. Oddly enough, a piece in the New York Times from a few days ago showed that while nothing was blatantly illegal about Bruno's outside employment, there were still problems with how Bruno fits into the system that is corrupt New York politics. So when reporters asked about it, he quickly gave them the cold shoulder.
From The NYT Cityroom:
Question: “Senator, what do you do for the Winthrop Corporation?”
Senator Bruno: “That’s been in the news, right? And I’m not going to talk anymore about any of that today, because I have reported legally, ethically, what I do and what I have been doing in that instance and in every other instance, and have been accused of nothing wrong, not ethically, not morally, and not legally. Thank you, and I hope I see you before Christmas, but not too soon.”
So why won't Bruno talk about his job. Shouldn't New Yorkers know what he is up to at Winthrop, especially when one would wonder why an investment firm would want him on the payroll unless he was Senate Majority Leader. His political power has tremendous influence on where state funds go for projects between Buffalo, New York City and Lake Champlaign. While there is no smoking gun, it looks like there is a fox guarding our state's hen house here.
Ah, Bay Ridge, the city on the hill that overlooks the Verranzano. It is also a town that is incredibly far from Manhattan. The train time down there is ridiculous, but also worth it to go to Paneantico's at the end of the N line. Unfortunately for some residents down there, a smell has been wafting out of the sewage pipes for over a year. The city's response....a little less than acceptable.
From The Daily News:
For more than a year, residents of one Brooklyn neighborhood have been complaining about a stomach-churning smell wafting from the site of a former sewer pipe project.
The city's response? Tossing nylon socks filled with pine deodorizer into the catch basins.
That hasn't stanched the stench. In fact, locals say the scent of raw sewage is even more noticeable now.
"I think that adding the pine made the existing smell even more potent," said Aaron Green, 27, one of the Bay Ridge residents who is sick of the stink.
I think a five year old could come up with a better response than the Department of Environmental Protection's. Don't these people have degrees in, well, environmental science or something like that? Common sense would tell me to fix the sewage pipes that were being worked on from last year, but I don't have the expertise, so don't bother with my idea.
The conventional wisdom about Larry Craig is that as long as he stays in office, the more play the story about his personal life will get. Well, now that we are more than two months after his resignation date has past, the stories do indeed continue. The Idaho Statesman has come in contact with men that can refute his assertion that he is not gay. Their stories are a testament to the double life Craig refuses to admit to.
From The Idaho Statesman:
David Phillips is a 42-year-old information technology consultant in Washington, D.C., who says Craig picked him up at a gay club in 1986 and that they subsequently had sex.
Mike Jones is a former prostitute who told the world he had sex with the Rev. Ted Haggard last year. The former Colorado Springs evangelist at first denied it but eventually confessed. Jones says Craig paid him for sex in late 2004 or early 2005.
Greg Ruth was a 24-year-old college Republican in 1981 when he says he was hit on by Craig at a Republican meeting in Coeur d'Alene.
Tom Russell, now 48, is a former Nampa resident who lives in Utah. Russell said his encounter with Craig occurred at Bogus Basin in the early 1980s.
Another unidentified man claims he saw him trying to solicit sex in a men's room last year. Who knows how many more there are out there that for some reason or another, refuse to shed light on their trysts with Senator Craig.
The Senator isn't fooling anyone (well maybe a few die-hards that refuse to acknowledge the situation) about his double-life. Perhaps lying about his sexual needs and wants so many times has Larry believing his own stories. The whole thing is a sad affair, if only he would have just resigned and sought help to address the two lives he has been living. I know that it is always best to try and stick with one livelihood (whatever that may be) instead of lying to cover up something you feel ashamed about.
Regardless, anything printed about him continues to reflect poorly on Idaho, Republicans (of course this is only one scandal out of many) and especially on his family. If he cared about any of them, he'd have done the right thing after the story broke, not even on September 30th. The only thing Craig empathizes with is his false pride. What a shame.
We had a flurry or two last month, but December started off feeling like, well, December. The second day of the month didn't disappoint when it comes to the powdery white stuff (think with a clean mind on that phrase). As you can see we woke up yesterday to a couple of inches on the ground. I also think that Vitamin Water is now a slushy...
AM New York had an interesting article this morning, speculating on what New York will look like twenty-two years from now. Not only will the population change, but the habits of our citizens, what the city will look like and especially how technology will continue to change how everything works from relationships to police activity.
Being a criminal will be exceedingly tough in the city:
A wanted criminal will have a much harder time disappearing into the New York of 2030, as live, streaming surveillance cameras will be equipped to recognize license plates and even faces, technology experts predict. As soon as the suspect comes in sight of one of these smart cameras, the nearest police officers will be notified. The officers may even be wearing cameras on their uniforms that will recognize suspects at a distance.
It sounds like something out of Brave New World or 1984, but reality is coming close to that scenario. Gadgetry is getting more complex by the day. Cameras are easy to produce with incredible communication systems that will link the police force together even more than they are now. It isn't all about cops and robbers though, dating in the city will be changing, as it is already:
Text messaging, e-mail and instant messaging has changed the nature of our relationships, perhaps to our detriment, experts say.
"Young men and women that build the idea of a relationship on text messaging, e-mail and IM never really develop the nuances of relating to each other," said Cynthia Callsen, a therapist since 1982 who specializes in relationship counseling.
"A few years from now we may see even larger segments of men and women who have real difficulties in committing to each other."
I can definitely relate to this one. My girlfriend and I text message more than we talk on the phone, we're instantly connected as long as the signal on the phone works and the battery isn't dead. However, more than texting, we talk in person the most and the best way to talk is face to face, especially when you see something in his or her face that tells more than the spoken word. The majority of all communication is through body language, or so they say.
Well enough about relationships, this blog is about politics, right? So what about the future of the NYC political scape?
"Every three decades or so, a Republican wins for mayor," said Ed Koch, mayor from 1978-1989. "It was unusual for Bloomberg to follow Giuliani. We shouldn't expect another Republican mayor for at least 30 years." What will likely change sooner is the ethnic background of the mayor, political experts say.
Projections put the city's population at 9.1 million by 2030, nearly one million more residents than today. Much of this growth will come in the Hispanic and Asian communities, and it is only a matter of time before the city elects an Asian or Hispanic mayor, predicted Craig Charney, president of Charney Research, a political consulting firm.
"But whatever the mayor's ethnicity, he/she will still be very sensitive to business interests and the needs of outer-borough single family homeowners," Charney said. "That's the essential coalition since Koch's day." Others hope that business coalitions would become less dominant by 2030.
I agree with Koch on that, seeing two Republicans (though Bloomie is an indie now) is an odd blip on the history of the city. I do not know about changing ethnicities however, New York has always been a city of immigrants and right now there is a rich white guy (albeit Jewish) in there and before him was another rich white guy. Sure, anything can happen, but I am not holding my breath. The key is to have a mayor that cares about the citizens of the city and allowing for the character of NYC to shine, not those that are considered citizens by the 14th Amendment.
Of course, until 2030, it is all speculation, all we have is today, right?
As the "Rudy's Shag Fund" or "Sex on the City" scandal continues to spawn new legs over the weekend and into today, Rudy has remained consistent in his story that whenever he traveled, the city would pick up the tab and that the NYPD would reimburse the costs. It is a complex answer that many are giving odd looks at. These people have included former Mayor Ed Koch, the City Comptroller and now even Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. Kelly's refusal to back Giuliani up could spell even worse news for the Presidential contender.
New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly tried on Friday to distance the NYPD from the controversy surrounding Rudy Giuliani's travel and security expenses incurred by detectives on mayoral protection detail, saying his department processes paperwork quickly and within guidelines.
Kelly said that during his tenure under former Mayor David Dinkins and now, during Kelly's second term, the NYPD pays all the expenses for the mayoral security detail.
"All I can speak to is the process we use in this administration," he said. "Detectives assigned to the mayor's security detail file all of their expenses through the department and they're reimbursed through the department.
Of course, Kelly wasn't on the payroll during Rudy's tenure, just during Dinkins' Administration and now currently with Bloomberg. That doesn't mean much to another high ranking police official though. The unnamed source said that the NYPD was never slow to pay for Rudy's security detail expenses. The message is clear, do not blame the Police Department for playing around with the city's budget. It isn't their fault, it has to be someone that wanted those expenses to go through illusory channels.
Sunday, December 02, 2007
Whenever I have children, I know in my heart of hearts, that if they are going to get some good advice, it's going to have to come from none other than Bill O'Reilly. Thankfully he has taken some time out of his busy schedule to write a children's book (already did that adult-styled one) for all the young ones out there. I'd read some of the passages, but wouldn't you rather have Tom Tomorrow's interpretation instead?
Despite the fact that many people have debunked Karl Rove's statements about the run-up to the war in Iraq, he continues to assert his falsehood. Even Ari Fleischer and Andrew Card took him to task this week about the matter. Today Rove appeared on his hometurf (a.k.a. Fox News) to debate his revisionist history with Congressman Chris Van Hollen (D-MD). It wasn't even close.
From The Huffington Post:
"Clearly things have not gone right in Iraq and you've tried to revise history," Van Hollen told Rove, demanding he "retract the outrageous statements you made."
Rove refused to back down, instead reading off a series of quotes by then-Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) that Rove claimed backed up his point. But as ThinkProgress documents, "None of the quotes that Rove used suggested Daschle was desperately trying to force a war authorization vote."
Van Hollen then laid down his trump card: a quote by former Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer in today's Washington Post: "It was definitely the Bush administration that set it in motion and determined the timing, not the Congress. I think Karl in this instance just has his facts wrong."
Rove won't back down, his ego is too inflated for that type of humility. He will shamelessly try to deflect blame for the catastrophe in Iraq from Bush and himself without regard for the truth. That power he enjoyed inside the White House has certainly corrupted his head absolutely. If he said that the sun was green, no number of experts or regular people with eyes would make him change his position.
Remember how the President was able and willing to provide records of who entered the White House in order to show how many times Jack Abramoff came to visit? He said that "without redactions or claims of exemption," those records would be given over to the court. The public pressure at the time forced George and his lawyers to concede that evidence but now, his lawyers are singing a different tune, one we have heard many times before.
The Justice Department, citing a Cold War-era court ruling, declared that the contents of the "Sensitive Security Records" cannot be publicly revealed even though they could show whether Abramoff made more visits to the White House than those already acknowledged.
"The simple act of doing so ... would reveal sensitive information about the methods used by the Secret Service to carry out its protective function," the Justice Department argued.
"This is an extraordinary development and it raises the specter that there were additional contacts with President Bush or other high White House officials that have yet to be disclosed," said Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, a conservative watchdog group that filed the suit. "We've alleged that the government has committed misconduct in this litigation and frankly this is more fuel for that fire."
Sensitive security records? So if the public was shown how many times Abramoff visited the White House would allow the terrorists to win? No one on the left is buying that load of manure and even some conservatives smell a lot of smoke here as well. Judicial Watch is a leading conservative watchdog group that has gone after Democrats in the past, but now it seems that all of their attention has to be focused on their side of the fence.
If anyone is an expert at ignoring the laws of the United States, you know it is the Bush Administration. They will do and say anything to avoid legal scrutiny of their disastrous behavior. We'll see how far JW gets in their suit against the President, but with the way Congress cowers and the benches of the judiciary are increasingly filled with Bush sycophants, this "secret" might just go to their collective graves.
Things got ugly inside 1600 Pennsylvania on Friday when Dana Perino led the daily briefing for the press corp. Helen is never one to shy away from attacking a President, she's been doing it for decades. Poor little Dana really does not have much experience and it was almost sad to see she couldn't keep up with veteran Thomas.
"Helen, I find it really unfortunate that you use your front row position, bestowed upon you by your colleagues, to make such statements," Perino said. "This is a -- it is an honor and a privilege to be in the briefing room, and to suggest that we, at the United States, are killing innocent people is just absurd and very offensive."
Thomas asked Perino about civilian casualties in Iraq: "Do you know how many we have since the start of this war?"
"How many -- we are going after the enemy, Helen," Perino said, ducking the question. "To the extent that any innocent Iraqis have been killed, we have expressed regret for it."
The longtime White House correspondent who has gone after presidents from both political parties responded, "Oh, regret. It doesn't bring back a life."
Perino talks about having honor and privileges, but she routinely forgets that the President (and his staff) serve at the pleasure of the people of America. Of course, neither she or her boss seem to care about that minute detail.
Ooooh, ouch. At this point Perino moves on, without answering the question. She either doesn't care about how many civilians are being killed in the war, or perhaps her handlers won't even let her know that kind of information.