Saturday, January 26, 2008

Bill Clinton Needs To STFU Now

The South Carolina primary is over and it is time to congratulate Obama on his impressive win in the Palmetto state. Unfortunately the Clinton camp, or should I say Bill Clinton made things go from ugly to F-ugly when he made a comment comparing Barack to Jesse Jackson. This is just unacceptable and needs to be stopped now.

From The Political Note:

Said Bill Clinton today in Columbia, SC: "Jesse Jackson won South Carolina in '84 and '88. Jackson ran a good campaign. And Obama ran a good campaign here."

This was in response to a question about Obama saying it "took two people to beat him." Jackson had not been mentioned.

Boy, I can't understand why anyone would think the Clintons are running a race-baiting campaign to paint Obama as "the black candidate."

Yeah, thats a tough one to understand, just as hard to contemplate that people with a lust to win like Bill will pull out any gun in the arsenal, including race baiting.

The Eruption Of The Media

And that nasty lava from Mt. Fox-CNN-MSNBC is going everywhere. Thankfully Jon Stewart is watching out for us, thanks Jon!

The Best Bush Story Ever Told

No matter how the nation feels about George Bush, one thing is for sure, he'll keep on doing something he thinks is right without hesitation. He is also big on biblical metaphors and of course God speaks to him about being President, so we should know that we are in safe hands, right? His relationship with God isn't the story here, but a painting that reflects his attitude about religion, country and his "leadership" is.

From PBS:

I thought I would share with you a recent bit of Texas history which epitomizes our mission.

My very close personal friend from Midland, Joe. J. O'Neill, III, recently loaned me a portrait entitled "A Charge to Keep" by W.H.D. Koerner. This beautiful painting will hang on my wall for the next four years.

The reason I bring this up is that the painting is based upon the Charles Wesley hymn "A Charge to Keep I Have". I am particularly impressed by the second verse of this hymn. The second verse goes like this:

"To serve the present age, my calling to fulfill;
O may it all my powers engage to do my Master's will"

This is our mission. This verse captures our spirit.

Joe was inspired to make this generous loan during the church service preceding the inaugural ceremonies. It was in this church service when we sang the hymn "A Charge to Keep I Have".

When you come into my office, please take a look at the beautiful painting of a horseman determinedly charging up what appears to be a steep and rough trail. This is us. What adds complete life to the painting for me is the message of Charles Wesley that we serve One greater than ourselves.

Thank you for your hard work. Thank you for your service to our State. God Bless Texas!

Bush wrote that to his staff when he became Governor and subsequently took the painting with him to the White House. I'm sure the man on the horse having a resemblance to the then-Governor helped prompt him to hold onto W.H.D. Koerner's portrait. Last year Bush spoke about the painting in an interview, explaining that the horseman depicted was very determined while on a difficult trail. Also "A Charge To Keep" is a hymn that is about serving the almighty.

Gee, thats a nice interpretation George. Now, do you want to know what the painting is really about?

He came to believe that the picture depicted the circuit-riders who spread Methodism across the Alleghenies in the nineteenth century. In other words, the cowboy who looked like Bush was a missionary of his own denomination.

Only that is not the title, message, or meaning of the painting. The artist, W.H.D. Koerner, executed it to illustrate a Western short story entitled "The Slipper Tongue," published in The Saturday Evening Post in 1916. The story is about a smooth-talking horse thief who is caught, and then escapes a lynch mob in the Sand Hills of Nebraska. The illustration depicts the thief fleeing his captors. In the magazine, the illustration bears the caption: "Had His Start Been Fifteen Minutes Longer He Would Not Have Been Caught."

Hmm, just a slight difference in opinion by the artist from the President. Of course the man that drew it ultimately knows what he created and for what purpose. Though he never knew how his painting would come to watch (from the wall) and reflect on the horse thief that became our 43rd President.

Saturday Morning Links

I used to watch cartoons on Saturday I link links. Funny thing is, both amuse me at the same level, there's just twenty years in between.

  • So you know that "Stimulus" that Bush proposed and Democrats are eager to pass? Well it's really more of a swindle than anything. Guess where the biggest chunk of that tax rebate goes to? It's definitely not coming our way.
  • Everyone outside the media (and Tom Brokaw) agree that the media is ruining everything about politics. Jon Stewart loves to rip them over and over again, so why not have a professor of journalism at NYU get into the nitty gritty of the independent mindless herd.
  • Did that report about NYC's top sushi spots having ridiculous amounts of mercury bum you out? Or are you one of those people that don't care how much of that temperature gauge stuff you ingest? Well why not stick to the miso soup tonight and think about where that mercury actually comes from and why the fish have it in their systems in the first place.
  • Keith Olbermann reports to DailyKos (and that show on MSNBC) that our new Attorney General Michael Mukasey actually hangs a picture of George Orwell in his office. How apropos!
  • And finally, the universe has thrown a huge 800 foot rock in our direction next week, but don't worry, it'll miss us by a mere 344,000 miles. Whew, that was a close one!


Friday, January 25, 2008

See Any Resemblances?

Looks like we won't need a "Primary Colors" when this race is done after all:

Romney's Moment Of Truth

Sometimes in the midst of a crazy campaign season, the candidates let out little bits of truth while they try to spin the voters this way and that. The Democrats want to take the government back for the people, the Republicans are promising more of the same (George Bush style) and then some. What they really want is power, either power to get things done for the people or for their big money donors, depending on the candidate. Edwards talks about the people, Hillary and Obama somewhat less. Then there are the Republicans, like Mitt Romney.

From CNN:

"Well, I'm not concerned about the voters," Mitt Romney said during Thursday’s presidential debate.

The statement came during a back and forth with moderator Tim Russert, after Romney was asked how much of his own money he has donated to his presidential campaign.

"We'll report that on the 31st of January, as required by law, and probably not a minute earlier. You'll just have to wait, Tim," Romney said.

"But why not tell the voters of Florida and across the country how much of your own wealth you're spending, so they can make a judgment and factor that into their own decision?" Russert responded.

"Well, I'm not concerned about the voters," Romney replied. "I'm much more concerned about the other guys on this stage. And we have some competitive information that we make sure that we use for our own benefit.

Basically it is all about winning, not about the voters. Romney couldn't have said it better. The people in his way for the moment are McCain and Huckabee and then it'll be (assuming he wins, which is highly unlikely) the Democrats. To Romney it isn't about the people, its about the power.

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words...But How Many Points In The Polls

If you saw the Democratic debate this week you might recall when Hillary brought a chunk of mud out named Tony Rezko and flung it at Barack Obama on stage. Rezko is a Chicago slumlord being brought up on charges at the moment, and the bad news for Barack is that he fundraised for his campaigns. How Rezko might have or have not influenced Obama in seventeen years is anybody's guess. The real problem here is Hillary resorting to bringing connections up like this and playing dirty for the sake of horse race politics. Well now the mud is coming full circle.


NEW YORK - Democrat Hillary Clinton denied knowing Tony Rezko, an indicted Chicago businessman, on Friday after being told of a photograph that shows a smiling Clinton and her husband standing next to the man she called a "slum landlord" earlier this week.

"I don't know the man. I wouldn't know him if he walked in the door. I don't have a 17-year relationship with him," Clinton said, referring to her charge that Barack Obama, a rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, has a longstanding relationship with Rezko.

"There's a big difference between standing somewhere taking a picture with someone you don't know and haven't seen since," Clinton told NBC's TODAY show, "and having a relationship that the newspapers in Chicago have been exploring."

Sure, it looks worse to have had money raised for you rather than one of thousands of White House photographs taken to be you standing next to Rezko. Nevertheless, the media loves to talk about mud and a simple photograph is good enough to pick up and run with it, no matter how ridiculous it is.

For the most part, the debate was about issues and policy differences and when it strayed from that discourse John Edwards helped put it back on track. After the two hours of prime-time TV is up the media is back at work trying to fill their voids with garbage like this. It doesn't matter if Obama's team fed the picture to Matt Lauer or not, the fact remains that the dirty campaigning is on and your opponent and the media will throw anything to see if it sticks.

It is a shame that Hillary's campaign resorted to this, but hey, she loves this part. She complained to Lauer that she was attacked first but that is just ridiculous. She has her husband out on full attack mode and is angering many longtime friends and party supporters.

Everyone needs to take a deep breath and get back to the issues, but that would just be my wishful thinking talking out loud.

A Daily Show Eulogizes Fred Thompson '08

Kucinich Makes It Official, He's Out

Yesterday we got wind that Congressman Kucinich is dropping out of the Presidential race and will begin to compete to keep his old job representing Ohio's 10th district in Cleveland. Even after running once before, he is hardly known outside of Democratic activist circles and Cleveland because the media rarely covers him. In fact, he was excluded from several debates because many deem him so unelectable. Not only that, all the time he has been running for President has hurt him at home.

From The NY Times:

Mr. Kucinich, a former mayor of Cleveland and a six-term congressman, has a tough primary fight on his hands in Ohio’s 10th Congressional District. Four other Democrats are trying to defeat him on March 4.

One of his rivals, Joe Cimperman, a member of the Cleveland City Council, has been running commercials calling Mr. Kucinich a “part-time congressman” more interested in seeking higher office. And Mr. Kucinich recently posted an “urgent personal appeal” for contributions on his Congressional re-election Web site.

Well I don't know if I'd go so far as to call him a part-time Congressman. He certainly has done a lot for Cleveland over the years. For decades he has represented the area as City Councilman, Mayor and Congressman. Even though the nation never caught on with Dennis, as long as he recommits to his constituents he should be able to hang on for another term in Congress, doing things based on principle, things like.....this.

NY Times Endorses Hillary...And Dislikes McCain The Least

In today's copy of the New York Times, the editorial board has made their decision on who they will endorse for the primary. Our state goes to vote in a week and a half from now, but the national paper of record's choices reverberate farther than just the five boroughs. Everyone notices who they endorse, whether they're fans of the newspaper or not. Well the decision is in and it seems to be Hillary, then Obama and finally McCain in a half-hearted way.

From The NY Times:

This generally is the stage of a campaign when Democrats have to work hard to get excited about whichever candidate seems most likely to outlast an uninspiring pack. That is not remotely the case this year.

The early primaries produced two powerful main contenders: Hillary Clinton, the brilliant if at times harsh-sounding senator from New York; and Barack Obama, the incandescent if still undefined senator from Illinois. The remaining long shot, John Edwards, has enlivened the race with his own brand of raw populism.

As Democrats look ahead to the primaries in the biggest states on Feb. 5, The Times’s editorial board strongly recommends that they select Hillary Clinton as their nominee for the 2008 presidential election.

They love Edwards but aren't sure about how he has changed certain positions over the last few years. For Obama, they love him but seem to say he needs to work on his ideas to back up that exuberant hope. He's great news to them, but not ready for primetime against the Republican machine. Speaking of Republicans....

We have strong disagreements with all the Republicans running for president. The leading candidates have no plan for getting American troops out of Iraq. They are too wedded to discredited economic theories and unwilling even now to break with the legacy of President Bush. We disagree with them strongly on what makes a good Supreme Court justice.

Still, there is a choice to be made, and it is an easy one. Senator John McCain of Arizona is the only Republican who promises to end the George Bush style of governing from and on behalf of a small, angry fringe. With a record of working across the aisle to develop sound bipartisan legislation, he would offer a choice to a broader range of Americans than the rest of the Republican field.

We have shuddered at Mr. McCain’s occasional, tactical pander to the right because he has demonstrated that he has the character to stand on principle. He was an early advocate for battling global warming and risked his presidential bid to uphold fundamental American values in the immigration debate. A genuine war hero among Republicans who proclaim their zeal to be commander in chief, Mr. McCain argues passionately that a country’s treatment of prisoners in the worst of times says a great deal about its character.

Ouch, that has to be one of the worst 'endorsements' ever. It is easy to see who the Times will go with in the general, but before you go, you must read their critiques of the hometown boy Giuliani. New Yorkers know him well and while Rudy can bash the Times in the debate last night, those pesky little things called facts get in the way when making a case that the Times has some sort of agenda. The only agenda for Rudy has been for a ruthless and power-hungry executive to go out and gain more power....and he'll do step on anyone's face to do it....and jump up and down on you just to satisfy that massive ego and protect his ultra-thin skin.

Oh and their opinions on the other candidates in the GOP field are just as nasty...all rooted in truth of course.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

A Progressive View Of Our Current Fiscal Crisis

Perhaps the talking heads at CNBC need to look at different sources for the problems of our economy, like Chalmers Johnson:

FISA Me This, FISA Me That

So today was an important one with regards to the remaking of the FISA legislation. With only a week to go before the current legislation expires, those legislators that swim in the pockets of telecom lobbyists are desperate to get retroactive immunity passed for the companies so they won't have to be held accountable for their crimes. It is a sweet deal for AT&T, Verizon and the like, but a sour proposition for the U.S. Constitution. Thankfully there are some elected representatives who are on our side, you know, the people and are fighting tooth and nail to make sure those companies that violated the law are forced to be held accountable in a court of law.

From The Huffington Post:

In an interview with the Huffington Post on Thursday morning, Sen. Russ Feingold, who opposes granting immunity to those companies, expressed disappointment that his party's leader, Sen. Harry Reid, was not doing more to help strike the provision from a newly considered version of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

"Of course I have great respect for the Majority Leader," said Feingold. "He is a good friend of mine. But I really do disagree with his way of proceeding."

At issue is the likely passage of a version of FISA that contains retroactive immunity over one that doesn't. Reid has said he supports the former, but legislatively, the path has been paved for the passage of the latter. In addition, there is debate over an amendment offered by Sen. Chris Dodd, to strip immunity from any FISA bill. If that fails -- and it seems likely -- Dodd has threatened to filibuster the whole bill. On Wednesday, Reid was interpreted as saying any such filibuster will be the standing and talking variety as opposed to an agreed-upon 60-vote minimum threshold. Feingold, who supports Dodd's stance, took slight issue with that approach.

"We should have a normal process were this is debated based on a majority vote in the senate," said the Wisconsin Democrat. "That's the way it should have been done and I regret that it's not being done that way. Of course, I support Senator Dodd. He and I were principally involved in making sure this didn't get jammed through before the holidays and I will be supporting him again. But this decision does make it harder."

Now Reid supports Feingold and Dodd on principle, but he could have made the cause a lot easier to attain. Instead we are caught in this mess where a dozen Democrats capitulated to corporate America (specifically Senators Rockefeller, Bayh, Mikulski, Pryor, Salazar, McCaskill, Nelson (FL), Carper, Nelson (NE), Landrieu, Inouye, and Johnson).

At this moment, the Judiciary bill (without immunity) was ditched by sixty Senators and on Monday the issue will be taken up and Feingold/Dodd will introduce an amendment to the Intelligence bill (with immunity) to strike the immunity. Ah, Senatorial squabbles, how interesting to watch the fate of our democratic practices in the balance while they use such cordial language.

If you want, make sure to tune into C-SPAN next week before the State of the Union and see if enough Democrats stand up against the telecommunications industry and the idiot-in-chief that will be delivering his fairy tales to the Congress and the nation that evening.

A Lesson On How To Deal With The NY Senate GOP

New York State Senate newcomer Craig Johnson from Long Island may be fresh in this part of Albany, but he definitely knows how to play the game and play it well. Speaking out against the pay raise approved by Spitzer that the NY Senate Republicans wanted (and Dems partly too) his press release was especially well crafted.

From The Albany Project:

"With the softening economy, a looming state budget battle over the fate of our schools and our children, and the mountain of legislative work that this majority seems to have little interest in completing, I do not think it is appropriate, or prudent, to be considering a legislative pay raise at this time.

I will vote against such a bill if it comes to the floor.

If it passes, I intend to donate this extra pay to worthy non-profit organizations within the 7th Senate District. First on the list would be organizations that had member item funds secured by my predecessor, only to have them revoked by the Senate Republicans after my election."

Simply beautiful!

Matt Blunt Channels The Simpsons

Wow, this is dead on. I wonder if Blunt pulled his little speech from (the animated) George H.W. Bush:

Electoral Reform, Because Americans Are Busy People

Out of fifty states in our union, only nine allow their residents the ability to register to vote in an election on the same day. This not only applies to brand new voters but those that have moved since the last election. Studies have shown that same-day states have higher turnout rates than the rest of us. In the 41 states that require one to register weeks before the primary election, many people in their busy lives only pay attention to politics as the time to vote nears and realizing that the time to register has passed is all too common.

The problem is especially harsh for young people. We tend to move around more than other age groups and of course this is the time of life where one registers for the first time as adulthood begins. This led the New York Times to talk to students at Ramapo College out in New Jersey.

From The NY Times:

“I’ve been really busy with work and school; it’s been hectic; my car broke down,” Mr. Backhus said while talking heads yakked about politics on the television screens at the student dining hall. “I never got around to registering.”

At Ramapo, the circus also won’t include Cherie Richardson of Paterson or Qurita Powell of Trenton, who both like Hillary Rodham Clinton, or Ryan Mastropole of West Milford. Jerry Leatherman of Milltown doesn’t think he is registered, but, hey, who can be sure? They figure politics is like studying for tests — you usually don’t get interested until it’s in your face.

For a political junkie like me it is hard to remember that all people are not as involved in what is going on in American politics, but of course, this is the reality. That is why every state should be like Iowa and New Hampshire (and several others) and allow everyone to register on the same day as the one the primary is held.

John Gibson Is A Sick, Twisted F**k

Fox News is well known as an outlet for propaganda for Republicans and the conservative movement, but for them to continue to endorse John Gibson by keeping him employed by the network is an absolute disgrace. His comments yesterday regarding the tragic death of Heath Ledger is abominable as are many of his previous outbursts that endorse such things as bombing Paris over London.

From The Huffington Post:

Fox News' John Gibson found a way to outdo MSNBC's Courtney Hazlett for the most inappropriate comment on Heath Ledger's death. ThinkProgress reports that, on his radio show yesterday (which opened with funeral music), Gibson called Ledger a "weirdo" with a "serious drug problem." Making fun of the famous "I wish I knew how to quit you" line from "Brokeback Mountain," Gibson said of his death, "Well, he found out how to quit you."

It is amazing to me how someone can be so callous towards another human being's passing and how it can affect their family and friends. Thank god his daughter is too young to understand what Gibson is saying about her father, all because he made a movie that makes homophobes like Gibson uncomfortable enough to speak in such a way. I'm sure he thinks its funny, but what would make me laugh is him being dropped from Fox or at least having his advertisers condemn him by pulling their spots from his TV and radio gig.

Be sure to take a moment to tell Fox News what you think about this.

Update: And if you have some time on your hands contact the advertisers too.

Edwards On K.O. Last Night

Olbermann covers some of the issues with the underdog Democratic candidate:

Deficit Projected To Be Higher This Year, But Truly How High

It is almost hard to imagine, but eight years ago the White House and Congress projected a $5.6 trillion dollar surplus during the decade. Thanks to a number of things (mostly Bush's terrible leadership) our national debt will nearly double instead, coming close to TEN trillion dollars. Bush promised us that if we cut taxes to the wealthy we'd see a huge within a few years. Well he turned Clinton's surpluses into deficits reaching over $400 billion dollars but for a while a strengthening economy (on the outside) reduced the deficit to a mere $163 billion for 2007.

Now the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office is predicting the U.S. to be $250 billion in the red for 2008. Now that number is far from accurate. For starters, only $30 billion is factored in for the war. Bush has requested far more than that and based on how the Democrats in Congress like to grab their ankles for the President, they'll most likely give him all of it.

Then there is the economy. The CBO is predicting growth this year at a slower rate than 2007 albeit, but their data is not as current as the market's and you know where many people think we're headed to....recessionland. With a recession, revenues are going to be down substantially. And to cap it off, Democrats again (blogger smacks head into table repeatedly) have agreed in principle to support $145 billion in deficit spending to "fix" our economic troubles by ingeniously giving more tax cuts where we do not need them. Eight hundred dollars in my pocket is great for buying crap that I do not need, but there are much better ways for the government to spend $145 billion. You know, like paying down the principle on our national debt, or a health care system that works, or fixing our infrastructure, get my point.

Basically, that $250 billion dollar shortfall predicted by the CBO is probably going to end up being Bush's worst year yet. Oh and you know how timely it is for him to hand it off to the next guy (or gal) to truly fix his gigantic mess.

A Bluer New York In 2008

Last night Congressman Jim Walsh announced his retirement at the end of the year from the 25th district upstate. He makes the amount of fleeing Republican Congresscritters increase even more, although I do not know the exact amount, it is nearing 20 or so GOP members. Things just aren't looking good anymore for the party that lost power in 2006, so 2008's open seats are a dream come true for the Democratic Party. And in New York's 25th district, it is an excellent pick up opportunity for us.

From The Politico:

The veteran appropriator had a tough reelection fight in 2006 and was expected to face another challenge in the fall.

It marks another surprise retirement for the GOP. Moderates Republicans have been particularly depleted in recent years, both through retirements and losses in the 2006 midterm. As a result, House Republicans have adopted a more conservative thrust during the 110th Congress.

Walsh's office could not be reached for comment.

Walsh was first elected to the House in 1988. Walsh's father, William Walsh, was mayor of Syracuse during the 1960s, followed by three terms in the House.

I think twenty years is good enough for this guy. Congress just isn't as attractive as far as power and perks go when you are in the minority. Now when it comes to standing up for your constituents and for principles, its a good thing we have Dan Maffei running again for the seat. Who he'll run against is still unknown, but Maffei's chances are even better now with Walsh out.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Bush's Environmental Delusions Versus Reality

During the State of the Union (Bush's last, hooray!) the President is going to lie over and over again, but thanks to organizations like the Center for American Progress, we'll know what to look out for:

FISA Is Back And Its Time To Get Dirty

Congress is now back for the 2nd half of their 110th legislative session. Guess what is on the front burner? Yep, thats right, legislation to re-constitute FISA legislation and if the telecom companies and George Bush get their way, retroactive immunity will be added to the mix. That would allow companies like AT&T and Verizon to get off the hook for their complicit crimes with the President to illegally spy on innocent Americans. We all want to do what it takes to catch terrorists, but for Bush this is strictly a power thing.

Now Chris Dodd has been leading the fight against retroactive immunity, threatening to filibuster if Harry Reid tries to pass Bush's wishes again. Reid has proven to be a cowardly little sucker who wants to capitulate in order to win on other issues, whatever that may be. Chris was promised by Barack and Hillary to help him but they flaked last month, too busy to be bothered to protect our rights as citizens and subsequently the Constitution as well.

Both Barack and Hillary (plus the Republicans) do not talk about FISA legislation because they have something in their closet, or should I say campaign war chests. Clinton and Obama are 2nd and 3rd in the Senate when it comes to taking money from telecom companies, only beat out by another Senator running for office, that being John McCain. The Republicans are to be expected to fail us on this important issue, but the party of the people must stay true to itself and back up Chris Dodd's efforts.

So let Obama and Clinton know we want to deny the telecoms their immunity via CREDO and make your voice heard.

Nine Hundred And Thirty Five Lies Equals Squat

So the big news about Iraq yesterday and into today has been that researchers found 935 instances where Bush and/or his Administration lied about Iraq in the run up to the war.

OMFG! Wow, that is a lot.

Really, 935 instances. So what I say. It could have been 9,350 or 93,500 lies. All that really matters is that he lied to us. He lied to us for the sake of power, corruption and selling us on the path to the deaths of thousands of troops and hundreds of thousands of civilians, not to mention the enrichment of the military-industrial complex. One lie is enough. We know he lied, he knows he lied. Yet nothing gets done. NOTHING! We still have troops dying over there by the dozens each month and nothing changes.

Congress gave a blank check to Bush when the Republicans controlled the Hill and now the Democrats cower and cave to Mr. 25 or 30 or whatever percent he's at in the approval department. I personally don't care if I was the only one who didn't like him. He is still guilty of high crimes against our nation and should be impeached. IMMEDIATELY! Once that is done he should be found guilty by the Senate and then thrown in jail. He deserves nothing else. Neither do his co-horts and the elite group that has profited off of this insanity.

So thank you Fund for Independence in Journalism and the Center for Public Integrity for your hard work, but no one that can do anything is going to be giving you a Medal of Freedom or even a pat on the back. The cowards are too busy huddling in Congressional caves to even notice you.

Stewart Blasts The Media...And Bill Clinton

Of course, both deserved his ire equally:

Phelps Goes After Heath Ledger Even In Death

The news couldn't be sadder down in SoHo last night. Twenty-eight year old actor Heath Ledger was found dead in his apartment, apparently discovered with anti-anxiety medication by his masseuse and cleaning lady. What made it worse was the media circus that almost instantly descended upon Broome Street and the fact that his parents learned of the news from the media. Now in the wake of the untimely death, his two-year old daughter Matilda is without a father and a rising career has been snuffed out. Now to make matters worse, Fred Phelps is planning to protest his funeral.

From Queerty:

Fred Phelps and his brood of Westboro Baptist bigots have announced plans to picket at late actor Heath Ledger’s funeral. Why? Because his role in Brokeback Mountain made him a fag enabler, of course!

Heath Ledger thought it was great fun defying God Almighty and his plain word; to wit: God Hates Fags! & Fag Enablers! Ergo, God hates the sordid tacky, bucket of slime seasoned with vomit known as ‘Brokeback Mountain’ - and He hates all persons having anything whatsoever to do with it.

Heath Ledger is now in Hell, and has begun serving his eternal sentence there - beside which, nothing else about Heath Ledger is relevant or consequential.

Christ almighty these people are insane!

We wonder whether Phelps and company will be traveling to Ledger’s homeland of Australia for the funeral. If, in fact, that’s where he’ll be laid to rest. Regardless, these people are vile, disgusting and, most of all, press whores.

The full text from "preacher" Fred is putrid to say the least. The hate in this man and his followers' hearts is incredible. He claims to picket the funeral, but who knows if they have the money to buy a bunch of plane tickets to Australia, hopefully not. And if they do, I hope they get a nice, warm Aussie welcome....if you know what I mean.

R.I.P. Heath and Godspeed to his family

Spitzer Alienates More New Yorkers, This Time It's The Poor Alcoholics

Just as Spitzer's ratings were heading up, he came out and angered a subset of the community that is passionate about democracy voting drinking malt liquor and smoking Swisher's Sweets. What could the Governor have possibly done to piss these derelicts off (my apologies to the classy working people that drink OE800 and smoke those awful cigarillos)?

He raised their taxes.

From The NY Times:

He plans to close a multibillion-dollar budget deficit partly by sharply raising taxes on small cigars like White Owl and Swisher Sweets and even more for malt liquors like Olde English “800” and Colt 45. The governor’s proposal would lift the malt liquor tax to $2.54 a gallon from 11 cents a gallon.

For a 40-ounce malt liquor, that would mean a tax of 79 cents per bottle, up from less than a penny, if the proposal is approved by the State Legislature. “It’s messed up, it’s wrong!” said Darryl, who looked as though he was in his 50s and was bundled up against the cold. “You got mostly poor people like me buying malt liquor.” [...]

Just how much prices will rise is a little unclear, but consumers will notice.

The governor expects to raise as much as $5 million a year in revenue from the extra cigarillo tax and $18 million from the malt liquor tax.

Now bums across the city will have to work harder to panhandle and raise the extra dollar to get the same effect from that cold 40 ouncer. In all seriousness, this is actually seen as a good thing to the bodega owners that sell the product, because frankly, they are tired of their malt liquor customers.

A and A Market and Deli, at 45th Street and 10th Avenue, used to sell as many as 40 cases of malt liquor a week, but it became too bothersome to stock. “We have arguments here, very loud arguments,” said Mustafa Saleh, 27, the deli’s manager. “They don’t want to pay.”

When customers did pay, it was annoying, he said. “They paid in change,” he said, “$2.50 in nickels, dimes and pennies; that’s the kind of money they have.”

Honestly for me this is like paying for the state budget deficit with nickels, dimes and pennies. $23 million dollars is a lot to an average person but is a small percentage of what our state spends in the course of a year. It's nice that Spitzer is looking to raise money for state coffers, but why not tax The Glenlivet and 63' Chardonnays first. They certainly do not need to panhandle for that booze.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Post Debate/Fight Wrap Up

Air America's Cenk Uyugr and Sam Seder discuss the aftermath today:

By the way, why is Sam having trouble keeping his eyes open while talking?

Our Trash Is Someone Else's Burden

Everyone knows that the industrialized world consumes more of the Earth's materials than developing or 'third world nations.' Yet many people do not even consider that what we do to hurt the environment hurts the entire planet and at a significant economic cost to the poorest of the poor. Looking at vaguely we can say "yeah yeah, right" but when you add up the numbers, the problem is extremely serious. That was what researchers at UC Berkeley set out to do.

From NBC11:

The study examined the impacts of the expansion of agriculture, deforestation, overfishing, loss of swamps and ozone completion from 1961 to 2000.

When all these impacts are added up, the portion of the footprint of high-income nations falling on low-income countries is greater than their entire financial debt, or about $1.8 trillion, according to lead researcher Thara Srinivasan."

At least to some extent, the rich nations have developed at the expense of the poor and, in effect, there is a debt to the poor," said coauthor Richard B. Norgaard, an ecological economist and UC Berkeley professor of energy and resources. "That, perhaps, is one reason that they are poor. You don't see it until you do the kind of accounting that we do here."

And that is merely a conservative estimate, the true cost could be far higher. What we do here affects us all, and that isn't merely about being good stewards of the environment, it hurts economies world-wide.

The Blatherings Of Charlie Rangel

Harlem's distinguished Congressman Charlie Rangel talked to WNBC today and oh boy, that Clinton endorsement has started to do strange things to his head. Rangel has been in politics for a long time and has definitely done a lot of good things, but his assessment of the intracacies of the Democratic primary is just a little bit off.

From The Daily Politics:

Rep. Charlie Rangel, a key and outspoken Hillary Clinton supporter, chatted with WNBC's Gabe Pressman today and lamented the attacks that occurred during last night's Democratic debate, saying there's "no question" that both Clinton and Barack Obama "have done themselves damage in the November election."

"The Republicans are just listening to these personal attacks," Rangel said. "And quite frankly, Gabe, the sad thing is that this stuff really works, but it turns off voters, but it increases the number of voters for the person making the personal attacks I hope for the good of America, the Democratic Party, and certainly November, that they try to stick with the issues, and that is what's going to make a more prosperous, a more secure America."

Rangel went on to insist that the Republicans are no better, and the Democrats can only benefit in the eyes of the voters by keeping their cool.

"We can't have this being turned into a food fight between two outstanding candidates," the Congressman said. "And poor Edwards is just on the side as a spectator rather than a participator. He has no clue about what's going on."

Rangel predicted Clinton and John McCain will still be standing after Super Duper Tuesday.

Well gee thanks Charlie. I know you support Hillary and all that, but come on, open your eyes. Edwards is hardly a spectator. His bold progressive stances have helped shape the debate that Americans (at least Democratic primary voters) want to hear about. They don't want the fighting like you say, they want to hear what John Edwards has to say and sometimes Hillary and Barack get that and touch on subjects like helping the Middle Class and fixing the health care system along with the rampant poverty that grows like a cancer across our country.

So Edwards is a shifter of the message and debate if anything. He may have not won a caucus or primary, but he has certainly done a lot for this race for the Democratic nomination.

Uh...Uh...Uh...Goodbye Fred...Uh...See Ya...Uh...Later

Now its official, officially.

Roe Versus Wade, One Score And Fifteen Years Ago

Knocking out the archaic term, thirty-five years ago the Berger-led Supreme Court decided in favor of Jane Roe, leading to freedom for women to choose for themselves if they wanted to have an abortion or not. Ever since that day, pro-life anti-choice advocated have sought to dismantle that freedom for women and they have been getting closer and closer, especially during the Bush Administration. The court as it stands today is on a precipice for allowing this law to remain on the books.

As a nation, we are about to decide on a President that will most likely pick one, two or even three new judges and either make the Roberts court more conservative or not. At the moment there are six viable candidates, and you should know where they stand.

From DailyKos:

  • Hillary Clinton:

    "I have an obligation to my constituents to make sure that I cast my vote for Chief Justice of the United States for someone I am convinced will be steadfast in protecting fundamental women's rights, civil rights, privacy rights, and who will respect the appropriate separation of powers among the three branches."
    — Statement on the Nomination of John Roberts to be Chief Justice, September 22, 2005

  • John Edwards:

    "I must oppose [Judge John Roberts'] nomination to be our country's Chief Justice...I do so because we do know the views and positions he took prior to the recent hearings. Judge Roberts opposed efforts to remedy discrimination on the basis of sex and race. He opposed measures to protect voting rights. He denigrated the right to privacy and a woman's right to choose."
    — E-mail to Supporters, September 21, 2005

  • Barack Obama:

    "I think that most Americans recognize that this is a profoundly difficult issue for the women and families who make these decisions. They don't make them casually. And I trust women to make these decisions, in conjunction with their doctors and their families and their clergy, and I think that's where most Americans are."
    — Democratic debate, April 26, 2007

  • Mike Huckabee:

    Sometimes we talk about why we are importing so many people in our work force. It might be because for the last 35 years we have aborted more than 1 million people who would have been in our workforce had we not had the holocaust of liberalized abortion under a flawed of Supreme Court ruling in 1973."
    (Excerpts from speech to Family Research Council Values Voters Summit, 10.20.2007)

  • John McCain:

    "I do not support Roe versus Wade. It should be overturned."
    (Jim Davenport, Associated Press, 2.18.2007)

  • Mitt Romney:

    "You cannot have a litmus test. But you can appoint justices that follow the Constitution and if they do that they'll overturn Roe v. Wade."
    (Hannity & Colmes, Fox News, 9.5.2007)

Like MissLaura at dKos said, it might not be the only issue, but it should definitely weigh on ever voter's mind come November. Picking a Republican will most certainly strip this right from the 150 some million women in America, choosing a Democrat will most likely keep it in place.

The Joys Of PhotoShop And Politics

Photoshop is a great thing, you can alter images and create funny graphics that aren't possible in real life, but that funny graphic should be. Well sometimes it is meant as a joke and other times people try to fool others into honestly believing they are someone they're not. Take Dean Hrbacek for example, he's one of the many Republicans running for the chance to take back Tom DeLay's old seat in Sugarland for the Republican party. We can all thank the corrupt and sinister "Hammer" for helping to give that to us. Sugarland was sick of him despite being overwhelmingly conservative. So being that there are so many people in the race, Dean wanted to stand out, too bad he was caught trying to mislead everyone.

From The Houston Chronicle:

Congressional candidate Dean Hrbacek appears slimmer than usual in a new campaign brochure because a photo of his head was affixed to the image of a different body.

While the mailer sent to voters this week by the former Sugar Land mayor says "Dean's record speaks for itself," his physique clearly does not.

The picture, presented as a true image of the candidate, is a computerized composite of Hrbacek's face and someone else's slimmer figure, in suit and tie, from neck to kneecaps.[...]

Republican political consultant Allen Blakemore of Houston, who has no client in the congressional race, said there's no law against the practice "other than the laws of gravity — the negative effect on your polling numbers and popularity when you do such things."

Gravity can be a pain, and you can't photoshop the rules of physics, not even a Republican can do that.

Oh you want the proof, take a look at this.

Who Let This Dog Out?

Is this what you would define as pandering at it's worst? Does Romney think this will win him the African-American vote? If anything it should earn him a spat in the face:

What's That Panicky Crashing Sound?

Around the neighborhoods of middle and lower class America, "Wall Street" is known as being synonymous with greed. The heart of capitalism resides on that street in the minds of many of us and for the most part, it is true. World markets started tanking yesterday while ours was closed and Asia and Europe already have had bad days today. Many analysts attribute their fiscal woes to us and that the international downturn is being called a reaction to our sub-prime mortgage fiasco and credit card/national debts.

Anyways, thats what I hear around the Internets and cable news services. I'd like to add something personal to the discussion. I live in a neighborhood in Manhattan that is next to Murray Hill and is known as a semi-quiet and wealthy area of Manhattan (relatively speaking since almost all of this island is wealthy compared to the rest of the country) where many people in the financial markets live because it is close to their offices, more of which are actually in midtown as opposed to downtown. That whole 9/11 thing scared many to flee north.

So back to me. Once a week or so I meet up with some friends that I know not through politics but live in Murray Hill and we have common connections, you know, meeting people in the neighborhood, etc etc. Well this morning the market was on their minds and fear was the big thing. A few knew that this will pass eventually and tried to use that to remain calm, self-assurances and whatnot. Of course it will pass, but not before doing considerable damage to many people's pocketbooks. Then there was an older gent that mentioned he's been through many of these "corrections" and that there are opportunities in this.

And thats when it struck me, this is all about fear and greed. Yeah, yeah, common sense I know. But this morning it really hit me on how everything in our society that causes stress is based on those "seven deadly sins." Some try to act on the opposite, but it is just so easy to be greedy (especially in Manhattan) and then when you screw people with things like credit card policies and sub-prime mortgages, it can come back to haunt you.

Well it is haunting many in the financial markets right now, with the Dow Jones down two or three or four hundred points. Who knows where it will end up today. No matter what the average of those 30 blue chip stocks is at 4:30PM, the problem still remains. Greed and fear, not to mention lust, envy and the other three dominates many of us and those that have the power on "Wall Street" have the ability to inflict pain on us all.

Attention Florida Shoppers: Beware Of The Hitler On The Hudson

Rudy Giuliani has been tanking across the country, he has less delegates than Ron Paul and McCain has surged past him, even in New York. Rudy is staking everything on Florida. And that is why he must be crushed in the Sunshine state next week. This man must be stopped cold. I write a lot about him, I know, it may be a lot, but if people outside New York knew him like New Yorkers do, the less they like him. So I hear he is still in the running down there so I want to make sure he is toast in a week from now. He runs on how he turned New York City around right? Well take a look at how he performed as Mayor, and tell me if you want that from your President.

From The New York Times:

In August 1997, James Schillaci, a rough-hewn chauffeur from the Bronx, dialed Mayor Giuliani’s radio program on WABC-AM to complain about a red-light sting run by the police near the Bronx Zoo. When the call yielded no results, Mr. Schillaci turned to The Daily News, which then ran a photo of the red light and this front page headline: “GOTCHA!”

That morning, police officers appeared on Mr. Schillaci’s doorstep. What are you going to do, Mr. Schillaci asked, arrest me? He was joking, but the officers were not.

They slapped on handcuffs and took him to court on a 13-year-old traffic warrant. A judge threw out the charge. A police spokeswoman later read Mr. Schillaci’s decades-old criminal rap sheet to a reporter for The Daily News, a move of questionable legality because the state restricts how such information is released. She said, falsely, that he had been convicted of sodomy.

Then Mr. Giuliani took up the cudgel.

“Mr. Schillaci was posing as an altruistic whistle-blower,” the mayor told reporters at the time. “Maybe he’s dishonest enough to lie about police officers.”

Mr. Schillaci suffered an emotional breakdown, was briefly hospitalized and later received a $290,000 legal settlement from the city. “It really damaged me,” said Mr. Schillaci, now 60, massaging his face with thick hands. “I thought I was doing something good for once, my civic duty and all. Then he steps on me.”

And that is just one story out of many. He figuratively bashed in the heads of anyone that crossed him. If you worked for an agency, even one that fights for AIDS patients and speak ill of the mayor, your funding could disappear overnight. Former mayors like Dinkins and Koch spoke out against his authoritarian ways and Rudy responded by trying to crush the careers of anyone who worked for them, people like Richard L. Murphy and John Beckman.

The article in the Times is extensive and worth the read. Some of the stories will make you laugh from the incredulity of it all, and be shocked from the insanity that was our former mayor. After reading it, I can't imagine anyone voting for someone like that, unless you believe in an authoritarian-bordering-on-fascist America.

Monday, January 21, 2008

South Carolina Dem Debate

Barack brought it to Hillary....

and John brings it over to Barack

and so it goes.

The Power Of Collective Action: Fighting Bigotry And Fred Phelps

What is democracy in action? A catchy phrase or something where people come together to do something good. I was in the car with my girlfriend and her dad this weekend and somehow the question of WalMart came up. Now he is of the conservative variety, so pains were taken to not bring up politics, but this one slipped through. We had to fix a headlight and he automatically thought of the evil corporation, but I subtly suggested we go to a local auto-part store. He admitted that while WalMart conducts bad business, what can one person do. Well I agreed, not much, but for me it is the principle of the matter and I choose not to shop there. In the end, we went local, and that was one less sale for the Walton family.

Now imagine millions of people making that choice, then something starts to happen. Well it hasn't yet for WalMart, but something good did happen today for a family that lost a child in Iraq. Despite their heartbreaking reality, Fred Phelps' hatemongers came out to disrupt the funeral because they believe this is punishment for America's acceptance of homosexuality. Their day would have been made worse if the family saw these terrible people, but then, something happened.

From DailyKos:

When I pulled up to the stop light in front of the funeral home I could hear them from across the wide road, singing their bastardized version of God Bless America, it’s the one where they sing “except fags” all kinds of other epithets. I remembered the documentary about Phelps from a few months ago where the bikers would rev their engines to drown out Phelp’s crews singing and chanting. 
It occurred to me, there were no bikers.

The Phelpsians we’re just too loud for my tastes. Then I remembered a couple of immutable truths I learned from ten+ years of touring in a rock band: (1) music can save a life and salve a soul and (2) the power of wattage is louder than any heckler.

So, I drove past and came back to a stop in front of the Phelpsians, still chanting their brand of hate, still too audible. There I was stopped just six feet from them, between them and the funeral home, and something WIERD happend to my car; all the windows rolled down, the stero turned up as loud as possible, and Minor Threat’s 1983 album Out of Step was BLARRING from my car. I couldn’t figure out what was going on, so I just turned on my hazard lights and waved people past me.

Then another thing happened, a guy driving a big box truck pulled up in front of me and parked. Blocking the view of the Phelpsian’s from the cemetary. He gave me a thumbs up from his window while Ian McCay sang “Think Again.” Then, I noticed the car behind me hadn’t moved. I was afraid he was upset at me for blocking the intersection. But I realized he had his hazard lights on too. He was waving people on around us. People drove by and layed on their horns, more noise. I saw the procession pull in to the funeral home from the other direction, and as the music in my car faded I heard something - the Phelpsians were silent. They’d stopped singing, stopped chanting and just held their signs for no one but me, the guy in the box truck and the guy behind me. Three people who I think already know, God doesn’t hate fags or dead soldiers, just Phelps does.

That my friends is citizen action, individuals can come together and do something good for the collective. It's worked before, it can work again and again if we don't become too cynical. So keep believing and you'll see more mitzvahs like this all over the country and the world.

NY For Paul Sounds The Death Toll For Rudy!

Despite how I feel on the issues (and there are many) with Ron Paul, I never question the tenacity of his minions. One in particular here in the Empire state by the name of Jim Ostrowski caught the eye of the Daily Politics though they didn't post this link to his blog. Perhaps they just got an official press release, whatever, the point is, NY for Ron Paul came out hard against Giuliani in their bid to win New York. Of course it is highly unlikely for Paul to win anything besides his current six delegates and multiple wins over Rudy Giuliani. Nevertheless, if they can beat Rudy, they can say stuff like this.

Buffalo, New York. January 21, 2008. Thousands of supporters of Republican Presidential candidate Ron Paul are promising to work hard to pull a major upset in the primary election scheduled for February 5th, New Yorkers for Ron Paul announced today. Jim Ostrowski, one of the group’s organizers said: “Now that Rudy Giuliani’s campaign has collapsed, New York State is wide open and we intend to fight hard for those 87 delegates.”

In the winner-take-all primary, 87 delegates will be awarded, the largest single block of Republican delegates in the country. Recent polls show John McCain gaining on Giuliani but reports are that a new poll will show John McCain ahead. “That’s because of publicity from New Hampshire,” Ostrowski said, “not because of any great enthusiasm for McCain who lost here in 2000.”

Fresh off his best showing, 14% and second place in Nevada, Ron Paul is poised to enter the first rank of presidential contenders on Super Tuesday. Ostrowski said that “when New York Republicans hear Ron Paul’s message of lower federal spending, border security and avoidance of costly nation-building oversees, they will vote for Ron Paul over Washington insider McCain.” Ostrowski noted that Ron Paul’s proposed spending cuts will particularly help New York which traditionally sends more tax dollars to Washington than it gets back.

“Before you vote for John McCain, ask yourself: can he beat Hillary Clinton in November?” Ostrowski said. He noted that Ron Paul exit polls show him doing well among the very groups a Republican needs to attract in November: independents, opponents of the Iraq War, moderates and young people who want the country to move in a different direction from the one that Washington insiders like Clinton and McCain have in mind.

Wow, fourteen percent in Nevada, thats.......still terrible, especially in a more libertarian-minded state than most. Paul certainly has raised a lot of money and fame, but votes are still few and way too short of the *cough* front runners. I know, they're all terrible on the right and anyone could have a shot, but the likelihood of Paul emerging from that dust cloud is still slim to none.

P.S. Thanks for dissing Rudy, I still loving hearing sweet nothings like that.

Edwards Jokes While Campaign Takes Third In Nevada

I don't think that even John was expecting to get five percent of the caucus in Nevada this past weekend. While he continues to add a few delegates here and there and probably will take in small numbers through the primary season, at least he can keep a sense of humor about it:

The Corruptive Perks Of Office, A Day In The Life Of Joe Bruno

It must be nice to hold the title of New York Senate Majority Leader. In the state capitol, influence like Bruno's can get you a long way and "earn" quite a few perks. It's been a way of life for Mr. Bruno and the entrance of tough-talking Eliot Spitzer hasn't done much to curtail the whiffs of corruption in the air of Albany. Just take a look at the treatment he got at the Sheraton in Times Square a few months back.

From The NY Sun:

During a September visit to the city, Mr. Bruno lodged in a 45th-floor duplex at the Sheraton New York Hotel & Towers that hotel employees say rents for $5,000 or $10,000 a night. A spokesman for the senator said the room was charged to the campaign committee of the state Senate Republicans, which he said spent between $900 and $1,000. The committee did not report the discount as an in-kind donation on its January 15 filing to the state Board of Elections.

A general manager at the hotel said a VIP club manager chose to upgrade Mr. Bruno, a frequent Sheraton customer, to the hotel's penthouse suite from a regular suite. "That night, he probably was the top dog," the general manager, Daniel King, told The New York Sun.

On November 30, the nine-member board of the Albany Convention Center Authority, which includes a member appointed by Mr. Bruno, voted to begin negotiations with Starwood Hotels and Resorts, of which Sheraton is a subsidiary, as operator of a 400-room hotel to be built in downtown Albany near the senate leader's district.

Hmmm, well it sounds funny, but what's wrong with a little upgrade?

In September, a Sheraton reservation agent quoted a price of $10,000 a night for the penthouse suite. Last week, the manager of reservations at the hotel said Sheraton charged $5,000 a night for the suite. The manager insisted that the Sheraton doesn't offer any customers a reduced rate for the room.

"We don't offer discounts," she said.

No discounts eh? Not even for a political favor to have the rights to build a new hotel in downtown Albany? Some people will do anything for a good deal, even if there is no integrity involved. Oh speaking of which, I guess that integrity and Albany just don't belong in a sentence together.

Ron Paul Wouldn't Appreciate Bloomberg's Efforts

Our Mayor/potential candidate for President got together with Governor Ahhhhnuld and Governor Rendell to talk about infrastructure recently. Although their politics differ in many regards, apparently having good roads to drive on and rails to carry freight is something they all agree on. I wish that our current President cared, but we already know that he doesn't give a shit about anything. That goes for much of Congress and all of the Republican candidates for President, especially Ron Paul, who wants to do away with the IRS because, well, we survived as a nation before the income tax started in 1913. Um, Ronnie, you know you couldn't have driven across the U.S. at that point in time with any kind of speed or efficiency because there wasn't a national highway system at the time (funded by taxes in case you Paulites didn't know, roads just don't grow on trees). Ok, thats enough about Paul, its time to get down to business.

From The NY Times:

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg attacked Washington politicians on Saturday for what he called short-sighted, politically motivated spending while the nation’s roads, bridges and airports fall apart.

“Infrastructure isn’t sexy or glamorous, and it doesn’t make for great headlines,” Mr. Bloomberg said in Los Angeles, “but it is one of the most important issues facing our country.

“And make no mistake about it, we have an infrastructure crisis.”

Joined by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California, a Republican, and Gov. Edward G. Rendell of Pennsylvania, a Democrat, the mayor announced the creation of a nonpartisan organization that will advocate for more, and smarter, federal spending on infrastructure.

The organization, Building America’s Future, will comprise elected officials and others, and it will be financed by the Rockefeller Foundation, a frequent collaborator with the mayor on pet projects.

Oh yeah, that asphalt is smokin! Of course it is even hotter to ride those rails. Thats where America's future should be built more and more.

Ch Ch Ch Ch Changes

Everyone talks about change but who can really deliver it in a beneficial way?

Bush Administration Too Busy For Ailing 9/11 Workers

We would never expect the President to show up in New York to be held accountable for the sacrifices that many heroes made after 9/11. Yet it would be nice if one White House staffer could make their way down Pennsylvania Avenue and answer questions as to why rescue workers that live outside of New York aren't being taken care of.

From The Daily News:

"Responders rushed from all over the country to help New York on 9/11. But [the U.S. Health and Human Services Department] couldn't find one person in the building to come to New York?" said Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan, Queens).

"They don't fight for 9/11 health programs. Instead, they fight to stop them."

A spokeswoman who returned a call to the Health and Human Services Department said officials would answer questions at another time.

That's not good enough for Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-Brooklyn), who leads the House oversight subcommittee on government management, organization and procurement.

"If I must issue subpoenas, that is what I will do," Towns vowed. "The administration's handling of 9/11 health care is one of the worst-managed programs I have ever seen."

So technically it is the Health and Human Services Department that is neglecting our heroes from out of town, but that is still under the Bush Administration, and that could have easily been solved. And of course we wouldn't have been in this mess in the first place if the White House took care of these workers from the start. Now they are ducking their responsibility and ignoring Congress. Congressman Towns can threaten to wield the subpoena, but since Congress is already so weak-kneed in front of the President, I doubt it will bring anything forward. One effect of a crumbling democracy is a lack of accountability, even if Congress says they want action, they can't deliver it.

Where Have All The Restaurants Gone?

Long time passing for many of New York's eateries, including a few that do quite well, but they just can't seem to pay the rent. Even popular restaurants are getting hammered by ridiculously high rents that are nearly impossible to pay. One victim of this two years ago was the 2nd Ave deli. New Yorkers were flabbergasted to see the city's best (in many a view) deli shutter its doors. They are thankfully now re-opened but at a smaller location and with much higher prices on the menu. I'll still pay for it but this is a problem that many restaurants are facing.

From Crain's:

Prominent chef Pino Luongo, who has opened 11 restaurants in the city over the past 20 years, now faces one of his worst nightmares.

He expects to have to shutter Tuscan Square, his decade-old eatery in Rockefeller Center, at the end of the month. The landlord, Tishman Speyer, is raising the rent, which is already more than $1 million a year.

"Rents in New York City are totally unrealistic," Mr. Luongo says. "We could definitely see a recession in the restaurant business."

Stories like Tuscan Square's imminent demise are becoming common, and experts predict many more closures this year. Rents in some neighborhoods have more than doubled since 2003. Though restaurants open in the city nearly every day and many spots continue to thrive, evidence is mounting that the industry is entering a rough patch.

The article continues to cite examples in Manhattan and is definitely indicative of a growing problem. Real estate rents are being blown out of the water and the independents will suffer the worst of it, no matter how good their food is.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

This Guy Makes Me Sick

You can clearly see why down below, as bigot Sean Hannity plays the race card with abandon:

Bin Laden As An Agent Of Peace?

No we aren't talking about the Al-Qaeda figurehead who believes in holy war, this is the project of one of his 19 children, Omar Osama bin Laden. Omar is the one that created a stir when he married a British woman who is twice his age. Jane Felix-Brown became Zaina Alsabah for the wealthy young man and now together they are trying to work for peace. First step? A three-thousand mile horse race across North Africa.

From Yahoo News:

The couple has applied for a visa to Britain. And they are planning their endurance horse race across North Africa, which they hope to start in March. It is in the planning stages — they are seeking approval of governments along the route and need sponsors to help pay for the event and raise money for child victims of war.

Omar said they plan to ride 30 miles a day, with periodic weeklong rests in each country.

Teams from around the world will be encouraged to join in what the couple envisions as an equine version of the Paris-Dakar car rally. That rally was canceled this year due to fears over terrorist threats made by al-Qaida-affiliated groups in North Africa.

Omar, however, said he isn't worried.

"I heard the rally was stopped because of al-Qaida," he said. "I don't think they are going to stop me."

It is definitely a worthy cause, and his name alone attracts world-wide media attention. His goals of peace between Al-Qaeda and the west are probably more illusory than he thinks, but at least he is trying to raise money for a good cause.

Power To The American And Iranian People

History has taught us that power-obsessed governmental administrations are never good, especially when one hates the other with a passion (or at least feigns it for a secret greedy objective). We can see the increasing rhetoric between the U.S. and Iran and recently the Bushies have been trying to escalate matters. Iranian figureheads and clerics are no saints either, who demonize America, Israel and all things western. So who is going to have to break the ice? Well, the people of course, that is where the true, yet mostly unearthed power actually resides.

From the AFP:

NEW YORK (AFP) — A US group lobbying for Washington to engage Tehran in direct talks is to invite members of the public to chat with people in Iran at the weekend using three hotlines set up in a New York park.

"Americans and Iranians will begin an important conversation Saturday from 11 am to 1 pm," the Enough Fear campaign behind the stunt said in a statement.

The group will be using three vintage red telephones, meant to evoke the hotline that connected US and Soviet leaders during the Cold War.

"Our goal is to initiate dialogue, person to person," said Nick Jehlen, Enough Fear co-founder.

"Our two governments won't talk to each other so we decided to take it into our own hands, to get to know each other and begin to work for peace. It's a lot harder to go to war against people you know," he added.

Volunteers in Iran will be on the other end of the lines, where translators will also be on hand if needed.

"There is this false impression that Iranians are angry at Americans," Jehlen said. "Hundreds of Iranians have expressed interest in this campaign because they are really interested in talking with the American people."

False impressions are what people like Bush and Ahmadinejad rely on to spread their propaganda. If people got to know their international brothers and sisters more through projects like this, we would see our similarities more than our differences. Of course that isn't good for things like starting wars and keeping the military-industrial complex humming, which is why fear is crammed down our collective throats again and again.

So pick up that phone and call (though Skype is way more reasonably priced) someone you are told to fear.

What You May Not Know About Dr. Martin Luther King

Dr. King wasn't just a fighter for civil rights, but workers' rights as well. He would be shocked to see how far we have regressed in our corporate culture in the last forty years.

NV + SC = Huge Win For The Democratic Party

Oh sure, McCain won the Republican primary in South Carolina and Hillary/Barack won the vote/delegates in Nevada, but like Iowa and New Hampshire, the big victory was for the Democratic party. While Chris Matthews predicts McCain will call Nancy Reagan for her anointment powers this morning, the true story is that with the way this is going, Republicans do not stand a chance in the fall. This isn't just opinion, the numbers back us up with full faith and credit.


In 2000 McCain took 237,888 votes in South Carolina. Tonight he has just over half those number of votes with 134,474 as I write this. Republican turnout will be well below where it was in 2000. More than 100,000 votes short. With five Republican primaries, Rudy Giuliani has half the number of votes of Ron Paul.

Face it, the enthusiasm for the Grand Old Elephant is going, going, gone. And while their operatives look for ways to divide Democrats (fear, racism, bigotry, etc) their own base has deep fissures when it comes to McCain. Word on the street is that he doesn't hate brown people enough and...gasp.....hates Jack Bauer and his freedom-loving torture. Maybe RedState or FreeRepublic will report that he is trying to keep the writers strike going so that "24" will have no new shows......ever!

So the Repubs can try whatever they want, but the voters will ultimately decide, and the way they are casting their ballots so far, even Reagan would be astonished at the turnout this come November.