Saturday, March 15, 2008

How Many More Construction-Related Tragedies Do We Need?

The answer is zero to most people, but that doesn't include the city and the Department of Buildings, the agency that was responsible for ensuring the safety of the workers at 303 E. 51st St and the area around it. Inadequate inspections and a crew run roughshod by those in charge of building the latest 40 story tower in Turtle Bay helped to indirectly cause a tragic accident that killed four people and injured many more. Not only that, but one building was completely demolished by the falling crane and several others were significantly damaged.

From The NY Times:

“This construction accident is one of the worst the city has had,” Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said in a news conference this afternoon. “Our hearts go out to all the victims and their families.”

The big, white crane, which looked to be about 20 stories tall, appeared to have toppled across a street and crashed into other nearby buildings. Mr. Bloomberg said the falling pieces of the crane demolished one building and damaged three others.[...]

“This is an absolute disgrace,” Mr. Stringer said. “We need better inspection and more resources.”

He said there were open violations on the construction site for a 44-story condominium building that are “quite serious,” he said.

Ismael Garcia, who was working on the 15th floor of the building under construction, said that just before the crane collapsed, it was lifting material that apparently fell and struck a girder that connected the crane to the building.

“Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a piece falling,” he said.

There was a loud crash, and he rushed to the edge of the building to peer out over the street below. “I saw a guy laying on the roof there,” he said, looking down on a building below. “His head was under the debris.”[...]

Bartle Bull, who has lived in the neighborhood for 30 years, said he was not surprised that the crane had fallen. “What I’ve seen for the last two months is reckless construction and lack of enforcement,” he said in a telephone interview. “We have said this crane is going to come down.”

Mr. Bull said he deliberately avoided walking along 51st Street “because this thing looks so dangerous.”

It wasn't too long ago when another construction worker was killed at Donald Trump's latest monstrosity down in SoHo. That accident also occurred within a construction area that had multiple violations and a terrible safety record.

Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer is right, we do need better inspections and more resources. Yet even after the Trump SoHo accident there was a stopwork order and then business went on as usual. Now there will be a stopwork order here...and eventually things will go back to usual. As long as the speed of these towers going up is rewarded more than for its safety record, there will be more tragic accidents like this, only who knows how much worse the next one could be.

How Is The American Economy Going?

What's the biggest issue facing our economy? Center for American Progress went out and asked as many people as they could:

Bloomberg Whines About Taxes

The Democratic majority in the state assembly have been talking about a temporary (though it should be permanent) tax on those that make more than a million dollars a year. This boost would bring in an additional $1.5 billion to our treasury that desperately needs the funds. If anything, the money will help to save programs that help those that have the least among us and put a tiny dent into those that have beyond plenty. Unfortunately, the most public millionaire billionaire has to pout about this issue (as he does about many others).

From The NY Sun:

Balancing the state's budget on the backs of its richest citizens could make New York City a less desirable place to do business and even lead residents to move away, Mayor Bloomberg cautioned yesterday at a press conference in Queens.

"I think at this point, where we're in competition with other cities around the world for entrepreneurs and the best and the brightest, it's not the time to be raising taxes," he said in response to a question about a proposal by some Democratic Assembly members to raise income taxes by 12% on residents making more than $1 million a year. Supporters of the tax say it would raise $1.5 billion in state revenue a year and help to close a looming budget gap.

In criticizing the tax, the mayor contrasted the proposal with his congestion pricing plan, saying commuters could avoid congestion fees by changing their behavior. "They have an alternative — the alternative is to take mass transit," Mr. Bloomberg said. "If you were to raise taxes on a particular group of people, their alternative is moving out of the city and taking with it all of the revenues that they would generate."

No, sorry Mr. Mayor, you do not get to compare middle class renters and homeowners in the far reaches of the Bronx, Westchester, Brooklyn and Queens to the wealthy few that make more than a million dollars a year. That is just not gonna work with New Yorkers. The argument that rich people will leave the city is just a fear tactic that keeps the wealthy making more money and the poor being screwed even more than they have been already.

Terrorists Want McCain To Win In November?

That title suggesting terrorists support John McCain is bold, outlandish and completely unsupported by credible evidence. Yet I am just a blogger, when John McCain argues the opposite in front of an audience in suburban Philadelphia, it is campaign rhetoric, also completely unsupported by anything in the factual world.

From Reuters:

SPRINGFIELD, Pennsylvania (Reuters) - Republican presidential candidate John McCain said on Friday he fears that al Qaeda or another extremist group might attempt spectacular attacks in Iraq to try to tilt the U.S. election against him.

McCain, at a town hall meeting in this Philadelphia suburb, was asked if he had concerns that anti-American militants in Iraq might ratchet up their activities in Iraq to try to increase casualties in September or October and tip the November election against him.

"Yes, I worry about it," McCain said. "And I know they pay attention because of the intercepts we have of their communications ... The hardest thing in warfare is to counter someone or a group of individuals who are willing to take their own lives in order to take others."

It amazes me that candidates still resort to this type of fearmongering and think that they can spare their conscience. The 3 A.M. ad was equally uncalled for and frankly, both McCain and Clinton use the same type of divisive rhetoric that repels Americans from voting. That of course may be their strategy, but regardless it is a failed path for our country and one that a certain candidate consistently opposes.

Brave New Films Kicks Ass

This video highlights many of the actions and accomplishments of Greenwald's multitude of films. They cover Rudy, McCain, Iran, Fox and all of their atrocities committed on the airwaves. Not only is it important that they get the word out, but that it has gotten such a tremendous response.

A New Governor Could Be Good News For Brooklyn

This past week and especially the coming Monday heralds a new day in New York. Not only does Eliot Spitzer resign and David Paterson become Governor, but the whole political dynamic in the state is completely shook up. Out of the many examples we will find in the coming weeks and days, there is Brooklyn, and the infamous Atlantic Yards project that Bruce Ratner is so fond of.

Now the AY project was having trouble already, but a Paterson Administration could spell complete doom for Ratner and his quest to remake Brooklyn into gentrified garbage. It is about preserving and beautifying Kings County, not tearing it down and making anew. And there are some that feel that this is the right time to drive the stake in Ratner's heart plans.

From Curbed:


Who knew that something as sordid as that Client 9 thing would have implications for something as dry and legalistic as eminent domain? But it does. This morning's Sun considers the possible implications of Gov. David Paterson--who has been an opponent of eminent domain--on a number of projects including Atlantic Yards, the big Columbia Expansion and the city's plan to take Willets Point and redevelop it with a huge convention, hotel, retail and residential complex. Opponents of Atlantic Yards aren't wasting any time. The postcard here to "Dear Gov. Paterson," which isn't specifically about eminent domain, is already in circulation.The Sun notes that the incoming governor was part of a 2005 rally on the steps of City Hall "during which he called for a statewide moratorium on the use of eminent domain." The issue--along with a Brooklyn Museum Gala honoring developer Bruce Ratner--were major topics of conversation at a meeting on Atlantic Yards last night. The Atlantic Yards postcards are already in the mail, with anti-Columbia Expansion and Willets Point likely to follow.

So far Paterson is saying a lot of good things, I can only hope that it continues and translates into positive action for our state.

Friday, March 14, 2008

R.I.P. To Spitzer's Political Career

In three days time a new Governor will ascend to his position in Albany, replacing the highly controversial Eliot Spitzer. Right now he is known for his personal failings. Prostitution, moving money around to finance the multiple $4300/hr rendezvous and paying to transport the call girls across state lines as well.

Now that he has declared his St. Patrick's Day resignation, the media is turning its lust to "Kristen" and other facets of the tawdry story. Yet, besides the explosive end to his career, people should still be aware of who he is and what he has done for New York and the nation as a whole. The fact that Wall Street acted with glee at his fate should tell people that do not work on Wall Street (most of us) that there is a reason for that.

From The Guardian:

Financiers have good reasons to hate Eliot Spitzer. In his heyday, the square-jawed, abrasive politician was one of the very few government figures with the guts to challenge Wall Street's cosy, profitable games played out at the expense of small investors.

After the dotcom boom at the beginning of the decade, Spitzer went after supposedly objective analysts who blatantly pumped second-rate stocks to bolster the fees of their colleagues in corporate broking.

One Merrill Lynch analyst, Henry Blodget, was famously caught recommending a stock to clients while describing it in an email to a colleague as a "piece of crap". In 2002, Spitzer won a $1.4bn settlement from 10 institutions including Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley and Lehman Brothers.

With a zeal sadly lacking among so-called regulators at the Securities and Exchange Commission, he followed up by pursuing mutual funds which used subtle trading tactics such as late trading and so-called "market timing" to maximise profits for large, favoured institutional clients at the expense of the humble private investor.

"Wall Street expects that if it's going to be poked, prodded, examined, to have it done by the SEC," says Charles Geisst, an expert in Wall Street history at Manhattan College. "Here comes a New York attorney general – a very unusual avenue from which to be investigating the financial markets."
Consumer advocates say Spitzer had a clear-headed ability to challenge longstanding practices which, however dubious, had become the accepted norm.

"Everybody knew Wall Street analysts were treating investors like cannon fodder for the benefit of investment banking clients," says Barbara Roper, director of investor protection at the Consumer Federation of America. "Everybody but the poor, unsophisticated retail investor knew how the game was played. He brought the retail investors into that picture."

She adds: "Spitzer brought serious attention to abusive practices that had been ignored for years – and he tried to do something about them."
It's an open question whether Spitzer's initiatives yielded lasting reforms. The mutual funds have tidied up their acts. But equity analysts still recommend that punters "buy" far more often than advising them to "sell". Perhaps Spitzer's main legacy is that hardly anybody takes them seriously any more.

I highlight such a large portion of their article because there was so much to what Spitzer did for those who looked in on Wall Street from the outside. He worked tirelessly to expose the corporate barons for the crooks that they were. Unfortunately he worked too hard to disguise his lust for prostitutes and his bank became suspicious. For his many enemies in the corporate (and inherently within the government because of the revolving door between corporate and regulatory worlds) arena, this was their manna from heaven in slaying the beast that tried to ruin their unadulterated lust for greed.

So while a tainted political career goes down in flames from immoral and possible criminal activity, so does a legacy of fighting against the ruthless corporate world.

Perino Visits The Daily Show,

While Stewart and Perino remained cordial, the fireworks were certainly there. Stewart dished up some zingers and Dana smiled and tried tap dancing around everything he brought up.

Now if only she could get her boss to come on the show, now that would be a treat.

The President Decides To Grace NYC With His Presence Today

Oh my, what do we owe this great honor here in New York to? George Bush has decreed that he will tie up midtown traffic (is it even possible to make that worse?) as well as the Upper West Side so that he can lie to us about the economy. Wow, what a guy!

From The Gothamist:

President Bush is headed to NYC today for a speech at the Economic Club of New York. The President will be urging Americans to have confidence in the economy; per WCBS 2, "The president is expected to say that the benefits of the tax relief and economic stimulus package should be felt soon, and the Federal Reserve is taking steps to encourage economic growth."

In other words, forget about oil prices, forget out the subprime mortgage crisis, forget about the other countries' economic growth, don't worry - be happy. Over on the legislative branch has other ideas: Representative Barney Frank and Senator Christopher Dodd did offer a plan yesterday "to let the Federal Housing Administration insure refinanced mortgages after lenders reduce principal to help struggling borrowers." And private analysts are worrying. Though the White House says not to expect any major announcement, what's interesting is that Bush decided to come now, accepting the Economic Club's "open invitation."

Hmm, if Bush says to have confidence in the economy, then it is probably time to get the hell away from it. When private analysts worry, then things are truly a nightmare for all of us. The only benefits bestowed by George from his tax cuts were already felt by the wealthy elite in this country. Now they can buy multiple yachts and vacation homes, instead of only having one or two.

See, he really is a compassionate conservative.

It's Time To Regulate Bio-Fuels

Bio-fuels are commonly touted to be better for the environment but the people doing the touting are often those that benefit most from the production and consumption of it. However, many, many more people suffer the consequences. The thing is, bio-fuel producers say that it saves our planet's oil supply by using ethanol but in reality it takes oil to transform the corn into fuel. Not only that, the consequences on a human scale are simply horrific.


Increased demand for biofuels is driving up food prices and accelerating climate change, as rainforests are destroyed to grow fuel. But with strong global sustainability standards, we can ensure that biofuels help, rather than hurt.

This weekend, the twenty biggest economies, responsible for more than 75% of the world's carbon emissions, will meet in Chiba, Japan to begin the climate change discussions leading up to the G8 summit this summer. Before the summit, let's send our leaders messages urging the adoption of global standards for biofuels.

Sending your message is easy. Enter your information below, and your leader will automatically be targeted in the form to the right. You can then either type your own message, or send our pre-written version. Either way, join a global cry for biofuel change--urge your leader for biofuels standards now!

Be sure to send a letter in support of Avaaz's efforts, it only takes a moment. There are better ways to power our planet, such as using more solar and wind sources. Our farms should be providing food to those that need it, especially in developing countries that are desperately lacking in arable land that can feed their people. It should be just as profitable or more so to grow crops that are consumable rather than to be put into cars.

Guns + Bars = Fightin Terror?

The always intrepid Stephen Colbert interviews Tennessee's state Senator Doug Jackson on why its smart ridiculous to allow guns in bars.

Best part? He believes that people will not drink with their guns while in the bar.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Bush Is Looking For Romance In Afghanistan

I think that as his time to be President dwindles and drags along until next January, his callous statements and disdain for anything not like him will increase. He'll say anything, do anything and even dance to absolutely nothing.

Now President Bush says a lot of things, but you know, sometimes, he actually does listen:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President George W. Bush got an earful on Thursday about problems and progress in Afghanistan where a war has dragged on for more than six years but been largely eclipsed by Iraq.

In a videoconference, Bush heard from U.S. military and civilian personnel about the challenges ranging from fighting local government and police corruption to persuading farmers to abandon a lucrative poppy drug trade for other crops.

Bush heard tales of all-night tea drinking sessions to coax local residents into cooperating, and of tribesmen crossing mountains to attend government meetings seen as building blocks for the country's democracy-in-the-making.

So the war drags on in forgotten (by the media) Afghanistan, troops are dying, civilians are dying, the government doesn't control much outside of Kabul and things are generally in FUBAR mode. Though to be fair, not as FUBAR as Iraq. And after hearing about those problems of corruption, insurrection and not-mentioned-by-Reuters the presence of Al Qaeda, what will our glorious leader do to ensure we can achieve democracy in the country? Will he promise more aid, actually start rebuilding projects that can be held accountable and perhaps, even, maybe, find Osama bin Laden?

Um, I guess not:

"I must say, I'm a little envious," Bush said. "If I were slightly younger and not employed here, I think it would be a fantastic experience to be on the front lines of helping this young democracy succeed."

"It must be exciting for you ... in some ways romantic, in some ways, you know, confronting danger. You're really making history, and thanks," Bush said.

He's jealous? Yeah right. Who in their right minds would want to willingly go to Afghanistan to fight in a war that is severely underfunded with an objective that is as murky as a lake in Baghdad. I understand soldiers that are duty bound and want to help their fellow troops, but come on. That mission is a joke. Nothing has happened of any great measure in six years, if anything things have gotten worse thanks to the resurgence of the Taliban.

Oh and Mr. President, if you are so envious and wish to be romanticized in Afghanistan, then why not go next January when you no longer have to rough it at the White House. Now that would be a reality show I'd watch.

George Bush Can Still Scare Me

You would think that after seven long, terrible years, all of Bush's antics would eventually numb me so that even when he violates the law (again) I'll just sit, shrug and say "whats new?" Well you'd be wrong, because some of the crap that comes out of that man's mouth is truly horrific. George truly is nuts, and he showed it when he gave a speech to a bunch of Christian broadcasters two days ago.

From The NY Times:

In a 42-minute speech to the National Religious Broadcasters convention, Mr. Bush called upon European allies to step up their efforts in Afghanistan, and conceded that recent security gains in Iraq “are tenuous, they’re reversible and they’re fragile.” Still, he insisted his troop buildup there is succeeding.

“The decision to remove Saddam Hussein was the right decision early in my presidency,” Mr. Bush said, to a standing ovation. “It is the right decision at this point in my presidency, and it will forever be the right decision.”[...]

“The effects of a free Iraq and a free Afghanistan will reach beyond the borders of those two countries,” Mr. Bush said. “It will show others what’s possible. And we undertake this work because we believe that every human being bears the image of our maker. That’s why we’re doing this. No one is fit to be a master, and no one deserves to be a slave.”[...]

Mr. Bush often talks about his belief in “the universality of freedom,” as he did last year to a conference of political dissidents in Prague. But rarely has the president mixed the language of faith and God so closely with talk of war and terrorism, as he did Tuesday at the Opryland hotel here.

Calling freedom a “precious gift,” Mr. Bush said: “The liberty we value is not ours alone. Freedom is not America’s gift to the world; it is God’s gift to all humanity.” His words were punctuated by shouts of “Amen.”

I'll be "amening" on January 20th of next year, when he is expelled from the White House. Amen. Amen. Aaaaaaaamen!

Wasn't Churchill British?

Evidently using a British Prime Minister in an American campaign commercial is the new thing to do. By the way, what was up with showing outer space and using that crazy piano music?

The FISA Fight Continues, Bush Starting To Stumble

You won't believe this but the Democrats (in the House at least) are trying to take advantage of the President's ridiculous, fear-mongering arguments. Granted, the formation of a spine in the Democratic caucus is still in its early stages but it is definitely taking shape. Today, in ten minutes, at 3PM Eastern Daylight Time, the House will take up H.R. 3773, which Bush had the following to say about.

From The Washington Post:

This week House leaders are finally bringing legislation to the floor. Unfortunately, instead of holding a vote on the good bipartisan bill that passed the United States Senate, they introduced a partisan bill that would undermine America's security. This bill is unwise. The House leaders know that the Senate will not pass it. And even if the Senate did pass it, they know I will veto it.[...]

Companies that may have helped us save lives should be thanked for their patriotic service, not subjected to billion-dollar lawsuits that will make them less willing to help in the future. The House bill may be good for class action trial lawyers, but it would be terrible for the United States.[...]

The American people understand the stakes in this struggle. They want their children to be safe from terror. Congress has done little in the three weeks since the last recess, and they should not leave for their Easter recess without getting the Senate bill to my desk.

Fear, fear and more fear. Please Mr. President, the people of this country have been seeing through your mindless rhetoric for quite sometime now. Thankfully the Democratic House sees that the people realize it, and are acting in kind.

From The Politico:

“Once again, the President continues to try to bully the Congress and mislead the American people on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act,” said Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) in a statement put out just minutes after the president’s.

“He refuses to accept that under our system of government, neither the President nor the telecommunications companies gets to decide which laws to follow and which to ignore.” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said the president's comments "demonstrate an almost complete misreading of this important bill" and that the House bill provides all of the tools the intelligence community needs to protect the country.

That is all Bush is. A bully who misleads the people so that he can get his way and make good on corporations that helped him violate the law. Their lawyers knew what they were getting into and the only thing they have to count on is the President shielding them (and him of course) from being held accountable. He will continue to do this no matter what it takes, because escaping the consequences of his (and others) actions is paramount to respecting the rule of law and therefore, the Constitution of our country.

H.R. 3773 will do more than just protect our country from terrorists, it will help protect us from tyrants.

Thank You AFL-CIO!

McCain is the nominee for the Republicans and has been for sometime. He has been able to attack Barack Obama and Democrats in general. Meanwhile, Hillary has been praising him and Obama has had to fight both of them, a true two-front war. Now a group is stepping in to fight the guy that really deserves it, John McCain. That group is none other than the powerful AFL-CIO.

From DailyKos:

Although the Democratic nomination is still up in the air, the AFL-CIO has decided to step in against John McCain now, rather than leaving him to raise money and attempt to look presidential with no opposition. Its McCain Revealed campaign will be forcefully making the case to 13 million union households in 23 states (and particularly in five: Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota) that McCain would represent a third Bush term.

In a conference call yesterday, the AFL's political director, Karen Ackerman, laid out some of the details. The organization has budgeted a record $53.4 million for their political efforts this year, the bulk of which will be focused on the presidential race. (Affiliate unions will no doubt spend heavily as well.) The money will go not to television advertising but to a more grassroots mobilization including fliers distributed in the workplace (and available as a PDF for download here), mail pieces, phone calls, and canvassing. They'll also organize turnout at McCain's own campaign events to highlight his worker-unfriendly views on economic issues. (They kicked this off at a McCain event in Exeter, New Hampshire yesterday.)

This is exactly what we need as the Democratic primaries drag on and on: Without endorsing one of the Democratic candidates over the other, the AFL-CIO is stepping up and ending McCain's free ride. They're taking on one of the most important issues in this election, which just happens to be one of McCain's weakest points. They're reaching out to millions of people in key general election states, and they have a proven record of delivering votes to Democrats.

I couldn't have said it better myself! And since you have to give to get and vice versa in politics, the new Democratic President will/must/should deliver for unions and put the unions' corporate tormentors in their place.

Olbermann Rips Hillary Over Condoning Racism

Olbermann takes Ferraro, then Clinton to task. Both women's actions are atrocious and Keith rightly eviscerates them both:

Rape Versus Prostitution

Yes, the most prominent New York politician resigned yesterday due to his dealings in prostitution, the way he transferred money to finance it and of course transporting prostitutes across state lines. It was shameful, ridiculous, idiotic, stupid and you can use many more adjectives to describe Spitzer. Yet as bad as it was, in my book rape is far worse, because that isn't consensual and shows the worst in people. Now Dennis Gallagher hasn't been convicted of raping a woman in his office, but when you look at the details of a possible plea agreement, the situation looks terrible.

From The NY Times:

A New York City councilman accused of rape is close to a deal with prosecutors to avoid jail in return for his resigning from office, seeking alcohol abuse treatment and apologizing to the victim, according to two people familiar with the negotiations.

The councilman, Dennis P. Gallagher, a Queens Republican, was initially charged with raping a woman in his campaign office in Middle Village in July after they met in a nearby bar. Mr. Gallagher, who is married and the father of three children, acknowledged a sexual encounter but said that it had been consensual.

In January, a State Supreme Court judge dismissed the indictment of Mr. Gallagher, saying that prosecutors had unfairly prejudiced the grand jury against him. The judge added, however, that the evidence was strong enough to warrant an indictment.

That ruling left the door open for prosecutors to present the case again to a new grand jury. The Queens district attorney, Richard A. Brown, said that he intended to seek a new indictment, but that has not happened.

A sticking point earlier in the plea discussions was whether Mr. Gallagher would be required to register as a sex offender. No such requirement is in the current proposed resolution of the case, according to one of the people familiar with the negotiations.

So basically they had a sexual encounter, he said it was consensual, she said it was rape. Except for Gallagher, everyone involved agrees there is enough to indict him. Now he's ready to make a deal to save himself from being a sex offender and having to serve time in jail for what he did. If he's innocent like he claims, then he should try to fight it, not make a deal, because it presumes some level of guilt.

So in one week, we could have two resignations from NY public officials. Damn, I wonder if that's a record. In any case, both men were wrong in what they did, and while Spitzer's meltdown will be more in the media's spotlight than Gallagher's, his is still far worse.

Islam Is A "False Religion"

That is what McCain supporter and key Christian-right ally Rod Parsley said about the one of the world's largest religions in his book. Not only that, but Parsley, a man of the cloth, wants to see the faith destroyed, among with other people that he fears and calls on others to fear the same. When confronted about the details, he doesn't apologize, back down or regret it. This man that is supposed to represent peace is bent on killing billions in order to satisfy his lust for war. Why is this so bad for McCain? Well, this is his spiritual guide, someone that would influence the 'faith' of a potential President of the United States.

From Mother Jones:

Senator John McCain hailed as a spiritual adviser an Ohio megachurch pastor who has called upon Christians to wage a "war" against the "false religion" of Islam with the aim of destroying it.[...]

In a chapter titled "Islam: The Deception of Allah," Parsley warns there is a "war between Islam and Christian civilization." He continues:

I cannot tell you how important it is that we understand the true nature of Islam, that we see it for what it really is. In fact, I will tell you this: I do not believe our country can truly fulfill its divine purpose until we understand our historical conflict with Islam. I know that this statement sounds extreme, but I do not shrink from its implications. The fact is that America was founded, in part, with the intention of seeing this false religion destroyed, and I believe September 11, 2001, was a generational call to arms that we can no longer ignore.

Parsley is not shy about his desire to obliterate Islam. In Silent No More, he notes—approvingly—that Christopher Columbus shared the same goal: "It was to defeat Islam, among other dreams, that Christopher Columbus sailed to the New World in 1492…Columbus dreamed of defeating the armies of Islam with the armies of Europe made mighty by the wealth of the New World. It was this dream that, in part, began America." He urges his readers to realize that a confrontation between Christianity and Islam is unavoidable: "We find now we have no choice. The time has come." And he has bad news: "We may already be losing the battle. As I scan the world, I find that Islam is responsible for more pain, more bloodshed, and more devastation than nearly any other force on earth at this moment."

So Mother Jones begs the question, as do many others I would assume....why would McCain want to be within 10 miles of this nut?

McCain's relationship with Parsley is politically significant. In 2004, Parsley's church was credited with driving Christian fundamentalist voters to the polls for George W. Bush. With Ohio expected to again be a decisive state in the presidential contest, Parsley's World Harvest Church and an affiliated entity called Reformation Ohio, which registers voters, could be important players within this battleground state. Considering that the Ohio Republican Party has been decimated by various political scandals and that a popular Democrat, Ted Strickland, is now the state's governor, McCain and the Republicans will need all the help they can get in the Buckeye State this fall. It's a real question: Can McCain win the presidency without Parsley?

The McCain campaign did not respond to a request for comment regarding Parsley and his anti-Islam writings. Parsley did not return a call seeking comment.

"The last thing I want to be is another screaming voice moving people to extremes and provoking them to folly in the name of patriotism," Parsley writes in Silent No More. Provoking people to holy war is another matter. About that, McCain so far is silent.

So in order to get more votes out of Ohio and other reaches that Parsley influences, McCain will implicitly endorse rhetoric that calls for holy war between Christianity and Islam. How does that differ from the Bush Administration or people close to him that espouse ideas like this?

Well, frankly it doesn't.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

McCain's Bus Gets A Makeover

Ah, now that's more like it:

So About Those Cabbies And Credit Cards...

Remember last fall when New York City cab drivers were screaming and striking over the new GPS and credit card machines in their Crown Vics and Ford Escapes? I watched on pound the hood of one driver working during their so-called strike. Well anyways, their protest didn't do much except raise the fares for a couple days. Unfortunately a few of them went violent (and worse) on a few customers for using plastic in the following months. But hey, guess what, now they're happy about fares swiping their plastic.

From The Gothamist:

It seems that after months of threatening, chasing and punching passengers who insist on paying with plastic, some city cab drivers have come to love the new credit card devices, which will be in all taxis by the end of August. Their original objections were to the 5% transaction fee, but now drivers are reporting higher tips because of the way the machines display the tipping options.

One cabbie tells the Sun he’s earning $100 more a week since his machine was installed, bumping his weekly earnings into the princely $600 range. The new machines give riders the option of paying tips of 15%, 20% and 25%. And because business travelers prefer paying with plastic, taxi ridership has reportedly increased, especially since out-of-town trips don’t require riders to bring a wad of cash. Still, some drivers have yet to warm up to the changes; the Sun talks to another cabbie who hasn’t seen any increased revenue and grumbles that he has less cash at the end of the day because of all the plastic payments.

So all that fuss for nothing. It goes to show that if the cab drivers of New York want to strike, they should think twice and protest over something that could garner more empathy from those that count themselves as fares, like say, the treatment of cabbies, their hours and whatnot.

Why Would Michael Todd Literally Walk Off A Cliff?

Whenever I watch James Bond movies or anything of that genre I wonder how "Hollywood" some of those scenes are. Especially curious are the ones when the police or some secondary character gets knocked off because they know too much. Well apparently real life and Hollywood share somethings in common, unless it was just sheer coincidence that Manchester Chief Constable Michael Todd walked off a cliff when he went hiking Monday.

From RawStory:

Manchester Chief Constable Michael Todd, 50, was found dead in Snowdonia, about 240 miles northwest of London, Deputy Chief Constable Dave Whatton said. He had been missing since going out for a walk Monday during his day off.

Whatton said the body, which was found Tuesday afternoon, had not yet been formally identified but he believed it was Todd.

He said a coroner's inquest would investigate the cause of death and did not give any further details.

Todd was elected vice president of the Association of Chief Police Officers of England and Wales in 2006, according to a biography on his Web site.

The association gave him the task of looking into accusations that Britain allowed the CIA to use the country's airports to fly terrorism suspects to other countries without any extradition hearings, a clandestine procedure known as "extraordinary rendition."

His report denied that there was anything amiss between the CIA and Britain, but who really knows what went on behind closed doors. The world of intelligence, as flawed as it is, is still quite mysterious to say the least. Interestingly enough, last month Britain admitted to the U.S. using outposts in the Indian Ocean, but honestly no one knows if Todd was a part of the release of that information. And now Michael Todd will never tell us.

Obama Addresses Ferraro And Her Racist Comments

Ferraro's comments have no place in our Presidential contest, and Hillary should have had Geraldine resign her position by now, if she had any class at all.

Bushies Screw Philly

'Petty vindicativeness' is one phrase that aptly describes the Bush Administration's actions towards the public since they came to office. Of course it isn't only George Bush himself, but the people that he puts in power at administrative levels. You know, people like Orlando J. Cabrera and Kim Kendrick. They were ticked off that Philadelphia Housing Authority Director Carl R. Greene didn't help out one of a buddy of HUD Director Alphonso Jackson, so they 'punished' him by stripping his agency of federal funding to the tune of $50 million dollars.

From The Washington Post:

After Philadelphia's housing director refused a demand by President Bush's housing secretary to transfer a piece of city property to a business friend, two top political appointees at the department exchanged e-mails discussing the pain they could cause the Philadelphia director.

"Would you like me to make his life less happy? If so, how?" Orlando J. Cabrera, then-assistant secretary at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, wrote about Philadelphia housing director Carl R. Greene.

"Take away all of his Federal dollars?" responded Kim Kendrick, an assistant secretary who oversaw accessible housing. She typed symbols for a smiley-face, ":-D," at the end of her January 2007 note.

Cabrera wrote back a few minutes later: "Let me look into that possibility."

The e-mails, obtained by The Washington Post, came to light as a result of a lawsuit provoked by HUD's decision last September to strip the Philadelphia Housing Authority of as much as $50 million in federal funds. In December, it declared the agency in violation of rules that underpin its ability to decide precisely how it will spend federal housing funds. Kendrick was the official who formally notified the authority that she had found it in violation.

Yes, it is sickening...almost as sickening to know that this is standard operating procedure within the agencies controlled by the Executive branch of the government. And all of that is almost as sickening as the fact that the Judiciary branch will not care because so many of the judges have been appointed by the same Administration. This is what we let them get away with. This is government at its worst, and if we do not hold people like this accountable, then they will just keep on raping our government that we'd like to think of as serving the people.

Spitzer Makes The Right Choice

Although the resignation letter has not been officially submitted, the cards are down from New York's Governor and his tenure is going to be over today. Lieutenant Governor Paterson will be sworn in this afternoon sworn in on Monday but is technically Acting Governor now and power will be transferred to the Empire State's first African-American Governor out of 55 and only 4th in the country. This will be the sad ending for a once-rising star in the Democratic party.


There has been no set timetable for an announcement and an official letter of resignation has not been handed down, but both were expected at any moment.

A state official told the Associated Press that the resignation will be effective Monday.

The governor hoped to use the resignation as a bargaining chip with federal prosecutors to avoid jail time, insiders say, following his alleged involvement in a high-profile prositution ring.

"I think his career is politically at an end," noted criminal defense attorney Ronald Fischetti told CBS 2 HD.

Politically, yes, he is finished. This is not a simple prostitution case, not even close. What Spitzer did and the way he did it is contrary to everything that he said he stood for. He prosecuted and decried those that he caught doing what he was doing himself, even when he was Attorney General he decided to break the law he swore to uphold.

You know I got an email from one of my progressive listservs and it called on supporters to sign a petition to the Governor to hang in there and that this was all the fault of the Bush Administration. Well the Bush Administration is responsible for many, many, many things that have gone wrong in America over the last several years, but guys, this just isn't one of them. What we need to do now as progressives, and as progressives in New York is to rally around our new Governor and help him achieve the things that Eliot Spitzer promised to us when he ran in 2006. Like Mr. Spitzer said, in the long run its about ideas, not people.

Update: And he says it well this morning too:

In the past few days, I've begun to atone for my private failings with my wife Silda, my children, and my entire family. The remorse I feel will always be with me. Words cannot describe how grateful I am for the love and compassion they have shown me.

From those to whom much is given, much is expected. I have been given much: the love of my family, the faith and trust of the people of New York, and the chance to lead the state. I am deeply sorry that I did not live up to what was expected of me. To every New Yorker and to all those who believed in what I tried to stand for, I sincerely apologize. I look at my time as Governor with a sense of what might have been, but I also know that as a public servant I, and the remarkable people with whom I worked, have accomplished a great deal. There is much more to be done, and I cannot allow my private failings to disrupt the people’s work.

Over the course of my public life I have insisted – I believe correctly – that people, regardless of their position or power take responsibility for their conduct. I can and will ask no less of myself. For this reason I am resigning from the office of governor. At Lieutenant Governor Patterson’s request, the resignation will be effective Monday, March 17, a date that he believes will permit an orderly transition. I go forward with the belief, as others have said, that as human beings, our greatest glory consists not in never falling but in rising every time we fall.

As I leave public life I will first do what I need to do to help and heal myself and my family. Then I will try once again, outside of politics, to serve the common good and to move toward the ideals and solutions which I believe can build a future of hope and opportunity for us and for our children. I hope all of New York will join my prayers for my friend David Paterson as he embarks on his new mission. And I thank the public once again for the privilege of service. Thank you very much.

Doubletalking McCain On Torture

Senator, actions speak louder than words:

Did Speaker Pelosi Just Endorse Obama?

There have been rumors on which way her support was leaning in the last month or two, but yesterday's statement about an Obama-Clinton (or vice versa) from the Speaker gave further confirmation that she is a fan of Barack Obama and who knows, possibly giving an endorsement of the Senator from Illinois in due time.

From Boston TV:

(NECN) - Thinking a Clinton-Obama or Obama-Clinton ticket sounds too good to be true for Democrats? The Speaker of the House, Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California says you're right.

"I think that ticket either way is impossible," Pelosi told NECN's Alison King shortly after an environmental event in Waltham, Massachusetts today.

Pelosi cited comments made by Clinton officials that John McCain would be a better commander-in-chief as an example of why the 'dream ticket' wouldn't become a reality.

As for who she favors at this point, Pelosi, who will chair the Democratic National Convention in Denver, isn't tipping her hand.

"I'm uncommitted," she reiterated to Alison King.

But for hopes of a Clinton-Obama dream team, there's no subtlety.

"I wanted to be sure I didn't leave any ambiguity," she said.

Ambiguity eh? Interesting word choice Madam Speaker. Shutting down Hillary Clinton's statements about Obama as VP due to Clinton's praises of John McCain tell us more than we need to know Congresswoman.

Thank you!

Mississippi Delivers For Obama

With more than 97% of the Magnolia state reporting, it looks like Obama is cruising to a twenty-two point victory over Senator Clinton. The Secretary of State predicted a light turnout of 150K or less, but it ended up being over a half a million, a tremendous surge for Mississippi and continuing the trend of increasing participation across the country. So while Clinton had her best week last week (despite losing the delegate race for the week), Obama starts off this one with a romp.

From the AP:

Barack Obama coasted to victory in Mississippi's Democratic primary Tuesday, latest in a string of racially polarized presidential contests across the Deep South and a final tune-up before next month's high-stakes race with Hillary Rodham Clinton in Pennsylvania.

Obama was winning roughly 90 percent of the black vote but only about one-quarter of the white vote, extending a pattern that carried him to victory in earlier primaries in South Carolina, Alabama, Georgia and Louisiana.

He picked up at least six Mississippi delegates to the Democratic National Convention, with 27 more to be awarded. He hoped for a win sizable enough to erase most if not all of Clinton's 11-delegate gain from last week, when she won three primaries.

The disparity between white and black voters isn't too surprising but the Clinton campaign is doing nothing to stop the racism that her surrogates continue to espouse. Even after Obama called on Clinton to denounce and fire Geraldine Ferraro for her disgusting comments, she brushed off the request.

Her politicking is one that stays in the past. Her "plagiarism" of Barack's call for change is pathetic at best. She is the essence of the status quo as far as the Democratic party is concerned and now, after being demolished in Mississippi, it is as good a time as any for her to stop making a larger mess and bow out. How many losses is it going to take? Do you and your campaign not care about the majority of Democratic voters? It really is all about winning and has nothing to do with serving the people.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

It's Not About Race, But It Is

Another brilliant piece by Election '08:

And speaking of Ferraro, this rant on John Gibson's show (ugh) was atrocious. The entitlement for Hillary to win is just oozing out of her voice.

We're Still Waiting Governor

It has now been more than a day since the bombshell broke about our Governor and his dealings with a prostitution ring. Now that we have many more details than yesterday afternoon, it is clear that not only did the Governor commit a misdemeanor by having several liaisons with hookers, but he violated the Mann Act and funneled money in not so ethical ways. Those two counts add up to 25 years in jail if he faced the full extent of the law. Prosecutors haven't said anything about charges yet, but that hasn't stopped the Republican caucus in the state Assembly from acting.


NEW YORK - As Gov. Eliot Spitzer faced mounting calls to resign, Republican legislators indicated they will seek to impeach him if he doesn't quit within 48 hours, a spokesman for a leading New York assemblyman said Tuesday.

"The governor has 48 hours to resign or articles of impeachment would be introduced," Josh Fitzpatrick, spokesman for Assembly Republican Minority Leader James Tedisco, told Reuters.

Online editions of the New York Times and Wall Street Journal reported that Spitzer's top aides expected the governor to resign, although the timing remained uncertain.

While the resignation rumors go back and forth, the clock is ticking for the Governor. Now no Democrat (myself included) likes the idea of Spitzer being impeached, but that is exactly what the caucus intends to do. If it ended up being a party line vote then Spitzer would escape (but not the press) but I have a feeling there are many people in the Assembly that would vote to impeach him. The hypocrisy of it all is so damning it would be ridiculous for an Assemblymember to try and go back to their district and explain that vote. There is one thing that will start to make this go away, and that is the Governor's resignation.

Politics Comes Before Friends

Yes, you read that right. Politics and your party comes first. As far as things go for Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Congressman Kendrick Meek, they should know better that the good of their party is a higher priority than aiding the campaigns of their friends who just happen to be incumbent Republicans from Florida. Is there something in the water down there?

From Swing State Report:

Sensing a shift in the political climate of the traditionally solid-GOP turf of the Miami area, Democrats have lined up three strong challengers -- Miami-Dade Democratic Party chair Joe Garcia, former Hialeah Mayor Raul Martinez, and businesswoman Annette Taddeo to take on Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart, Lincoln Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, respectively.

While there is an enormous sense of excitement and optimism surrounding these candidacies, some Democratic lawmakers, including Florida Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Kendrick Meek, are all too eager to kneecap these Democratic challengers right out of the starting gate in the spirit of "comity" and "bipartisan cooperation" with their Republican colleagues:

But as three Miami Democrats look to unseat three of her South Florida Republican colleagues, Wasserman Schultz is staying on the sidelines. So is Rep. Kendrick Meek, a Miami Democrat and loyal ally to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. [...]

This time around, Wasserman Schultz and Meek say their relationships with the Republican incumbents, Reps. Lincoln Diaz-Balart and his brother Mario, and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, leave them little choice but to sit out the three races.

"At the end of the day, we need a member who isn't going to pull any punches, who isn't going to be hesitant," Wasserman Schultz said.

Now, you'd expect this kind of bullshit from a backbencher like Alcee Hastings, but you wouldn't expect this kind of behavior from the co-chair of the DCCC's Red to Blue program, which is the position that Wasserman Schultz currently holds. Apparently, Debbie did not get Rahm's memo about doing whatever it takes to win:

The national party, enthusiastic about the three Democratic challengers, has not yet selected Red to Blue participants. But Wasserman Schultz has already told the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee that if any of the three make the cut, another Democrat should be assigned to the race.

"It needs to be somebody who can roll up their sleeves," Wasserman Schultz said. "I'm just not that person; it's just too sensitive for me."

Too sensitive for you? I'm sorry, WTF does that mean? We aren't picking daisies here Congresswoman, this is about advancing a progressive agenda for our nation. Your "friends" have supported George Bush's war, his disastrous economic policies and endorse morally repugnant ideas that are prejudiced against minorities (save for the Cuban-Americans of the South Florida area of course). If you want to be looked upon with respect by your constituents and the party you are a part of, then it is time to grow up and do your job.

Wayne Barrett Discusses Spitzer With K.O.

Barrett, who has covered Eliot Spitzer for years makes many good arguments about the mess that has enveloped Albany and the rest of the state from the Governor's actions. The way he was caught and the hypocrisy of it all really does scream "please come catch me." Unless his ego was really that big that he thought he couldn't be caught, then, well, thats just insulting to New York.

Another Boutique, Latte-Drinking State Goes To The Polls Today

You know, those places that vote overwhelmingly for Obama are just boutique states with latte drinking elitists. At least Senator Clinton's campaign would have you believe that. Despite how Hillary wants to spin her losses in "red states," Democrats in Mississippi are in the process of voting today for their preferred candidate to face John McCain this fall.

From Rasmussen:

While most of the political world is focused on the Pennsylvania Primary scheduled for April 22 or the Democrats’ delegate dilemma, Mississippi is hosting a Primary of its own this coming Tuesday. The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of the state shows Barack Obama leading Hillary Clinton by fourteen percentage points in the state. It’s Obama 53% Clinton 39%.

Clinton leads among senior citizens but trails among younger voters. But, it is the racial divide that defines the campaign in Mississippi—Obama leads 80% to 12% among African-American voters while Clinton holds a 47% advantage among White voters. (see Rasmussen Reports video analysis )

Both candidates are viewed favorably by 69% of the state’s Likely Primary Voters. But, Obama earns Very Favorable ratings from 50% while only 37% are that enthusiastic about Clinton.

Perhaps the depressed enthusiasm comes from Senator Clinton's disdain for the state. It seems she really only cares about places that she has a shot at winning. She has no problem trashing the Magnolia state to get a laugh out of Iowans, so why bother when you are a centrist that relies on old ways of doing things. She may try to backpedal after using Mississippi in order to win votes back in January, but when the word 'elitist' is discussed, Hillary's name comes to mind for some reason.

And by the way Senator Clinton, is this story about those Mississippi latte sippers?

Killing The Gulf Of Mexico With Kindness

Damn it people I'm sick of hearing about biofuels. So many world leaders are promoting the virtues of producing ethanol to power our cars, yet they are either too greedy or ignorant to realize that for the most part, it is a sham. It takes just as much energy to produce the fuels as it saves us in pollutants when people drive their cars on it. Now pouring your old vegetable oil in the tank is one thing, but mass production is another. There are so many negative side effects, but to the people that live around the Gulf of Mexico, they know the dead zone first and foremost.

From RawStory:

A planned increase in US ethanol production from corn would spell environmental "disaster" for marine species in the Gulf of Mexico, said a co-author of a science study published Monday.

A boost in corn production will worsen the Gulf's so-called "dead zone," an area with so little oxygen that sealife suffocates, said Simon Donner, a geographer at the University of British Columbia in Western Canada.

"Most organisms are not able to survive without enough oxygen," Donner told AFP. "All the bottom-dwelling organisms that can't move away are probably going to die, while fish will migrate if they can."

Donner and Chris Kucharik of the University of Wisconsin used computer models to conclude that growing enough corn to meet US biofuel goals set for 2022 would cause a boost of 10 to 34 percent in nitrogen pollution in the Mississippi and Atchafalaya Rivers, which run into the Gulf of Mexico.

Not only do we need to focus more on clean energy (wind and solar) but the way farming is done must be changed. For two centuries or more our nation's farmers did not use the abusive chemicals that we see today in their soil. Those nitrates flow into the rivers and create the death zone in the Gulf that we know today.

Too many people think biofuels are the answer. I say direct your kindness of the environment in other directions and wakeup to the realities of ethanol.

Welcome To Washington Mr. Foster

And congratulations on your win this past weekend. You are a breath of fresh air compared to the last man that occupied your seat.

Was Client 9 Just A Bad Dream?

Could all of that yesterday just been a joke? Is Eliot Spitzer still our trustworthy Governor and all is well in the land of the Empire state? Sadly no, today is day two and he still is in office, tainted by a massive scandal. The Feds found suspicious activities through money transfers, the authorities thought he had done something far worse. No guys, it wasn't money laundering or shady campaign finance deals, just a way to pay for a prostitute. Yet it is still possibly illegal.

Now on the legal totem pole what Spitzer did isn't really high up there. Operating the ring certainly is but not being a client. So if this isn't so bad then why all the outrage? It is his personal life and if this were in Europe, no one would care, right?


This goes beyond him soliciting sex. Spitzer violated the trust of his wife and his family. If his family can't trust him, why should we? More so, this is a man that ran on cleaning up Albany and doing business a different way. So far it has been more of the same, the only difference is that this story is more salacious than others out there. That does not mean we excuse it.

Then there is the political aspect of this. New York Democrats are one, ONE, seat away from taking back the state Senate. Now there are two ways of looking at this. First of all if Spitzer resigns Paterson becomes Governor and Joe Bruno would be Lt. Gov. That would make him the deciding vote if we as a party only take one seat this fall. Now are we only going to win one seat? That is the question.

When the voters go to the polls less than eight months from now how are they going to make their decision? Of course the individual candidates matter but so does the state party as a whole. Will they see us as condoning Spitzer's hypocritical behavior or as a party that makes its leaders accountable. Besides, the Governor said it best yesterday, "I do not believe that politics in the long run is about individuals. It is about ideas, the public good and doing what's best for the state of New York."

You already know what to do Mr. Spitzer, New York is waiting.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Vice President Schmezident

Hillary Clinton is making it an issue to subvert Barack Obama by mentioning him as a possible Vice-Presidential nominee, you know, to let him on the ticket below her. While Senator Clinton is so gracious to offer that to her opponent that is ahead in the delegate count, amount of states won and the popular vote, she might want to check that offer with what she was saying about Senator Obama just a few days ago. Or else he might just remind her himself.

From The NY Times:

COLUMBUS, Miss. – Senator Barack Obama implored voters here today to discount the political chatter about him joining the Democratic presidential ticket with Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, declaring: “I don’t know how somebody who’s in second place can offer the vice presidency to someone who’s in first place.”

“If I’m not ready, how is it that you think I should be such a great vice president?” Mr. Obama said. “Do you understand that?”

In a town meeting here, one day before the Mississippi primary, Mr. Obama sought to aggressively knock down the discussion stirred by Mrs. Clinton and former President Bill Clinton that the deadlocked Democratic nominating fight could be resolved by giving him the No. 2 position. It was the most expansive answer he has ever given on the subject, with his tone ranging from stern to mocking to sarcastic.

“With all due respect, I’ve won twice as many states as Senator Clinton,” Mr. Obama said, speaking over the applause of nearly 2,000 people who rose from their seats. “I’ve won more of the popular vote than Senator Clinton. I have more delegates than Senator Clinton.”

So um, Senator Clinton, if you want to start talking about Vice Presidential nominee selections, ya might want to think about putting your own name in the hat before throwing other people in. Oh and speaking of Vice-Presidential nominees (that endorse Clinton), wtf was Geraldine Ferraro using race for in that tirade of hers today? That leads me to my final question, why hasn't Clinton apologized and explained her dismissive comments about Mississippi? The Mayor of Hattiesburg (whose town is one of many voting tomorrow) still wants an answer to that.

Of course you can just keep ignoring these questions, and continue losing the vast majority of contests this primary season. Your choice.

This Is Gay Bashing

This could be your elected representative if you live in Oklahoma. Words really do matter, some inspire and then others well.....

Spitzer Blows His Career, Among Other Things

Barely into his second year of being Governor of New York and it looks like End Times for Eliot Spitzer. He should be giving a press conference momentarily about being a client of a prostitution ring that was recently broken up by authorities. This has to be one of THE biggest political scandal in New York history, and that is saying something. Whats worse? He has a wife and three young daughters!

From The NY Times:

Mr. Spitzer, a first-term Democrat who pledged to bring ethics reform and end the often seamy ways of Albany, is married with three children.

Just last week, federal prosecutors arrested four people in connection with an expensive prostitution operation. Administration officials would not say that this was the ring with which the governor had become involved.

But a person with knowledge of the governor’s role said that the person believes the governor is one of the men identified as clients in court papers.

The governor’s travel records show that he was in Washington in mid-February. One of the clients described in court papers arranged to meet with a prostitute who was part of the ring, the Emperors Club VIP on the night of Feb. 13.

What an ass****! And not only that, a hypocrite:

Mr. Spitzer gained national attention when he served as attorney general with his relentless pursuit of Wall Street wrongdoing. As attorney general, he also had prosecuted at least two prostitution rings as head of the state’s organized crime task force.

In one such case in 2004, Mr. Spitzer spoke with revulsion and anger after announcing the arrest of 16 people for operating a high-end prostitution ring out of Staten Island.

“”This was a sophisticated and lucrative operation with a multitiered management structure,” Mr. Spitzer said at the time. ”It was, however, nothing more than a prostitution ring.”

And now you are associated with a prostitution ring Mr. Governor. So much for ethics and reform. Seriously, what a joke. The implications of this could be huge and not only affect Spitzer and his family. If I were Joe Bruno, I'd be jumping up and down right now with glee.

Update from the Gothamist:

I have acted in a way that violated the obligations to my family... I apologize first, and most importantly, to my family. I apologize to the public… I do not believe politics in the long run is about individuals. It is about ideas, the public good and doing what is best for the State of New York. I am disappointed that I failed to live up to the standard that I accepted for myself. I must now dedicate some time to regaining the trust of my family. I will not be taking questions. Thank you very much. I will report back to you in short order. Thank you very much.

Report back? That is rather vague Mr. Spitzer. Please follow through with the rumors and resign, for the good of the party and the state of New York.

The War On Cows, And Other Ridiculous Clinton Surrogate Sayings

There are many different metaphors used in speech across the spectrum of human communication, but today, Hillary Clinton's surrogate Lt. Gen. Joe Ballard went the distance. How you can compare milking cows to pulling out of the war is a question that not even I could answer. Apparently to Lt. Joe Obama can't milk the cow and pull out the troops from Iraq. Seriously, you can't make this up.

From The Huffington Post:

Speaking on a conference call with reporters, Lt. Gen. Joe Ballard, a Clinton supporter, compared Obama's stance on Iraq to a person who could "recognize a cow" (ostensibly, the perils of the war) but not milk it (get the troops out? has conflict-management experience?).

"Just because you recognize the cow doesn't mean you know how to milk it," said Ballard, who was playing off his time among cows in Louisiana. "I think body of experience, learning what you have to do and how to do it, is very important... No one can tell you how to milk a cow; you have to do that yourself."

That wasn't all.

"No doubt in my mind he can probably milk a cow but his body of experience means he probably doesn't know how to milk one," continued Ballard, before getting a bit more specific. "When I look across the aisle at Sen. Obama, other than a great speech, I really do not see the same body of experience to deal with that issue. I see a statement that says I have a great staff that can advise me. I think you need a great body of experience to deal with the recommendations your staff is bringing to you."

Besides talking about dairy cows (perhaps a subtle pander to the dairy community of Pennsylvania) Ballard brought up that speech again the Barack made in 2002. Of course he is referring to Senator Obama's remarks that going in there is a bad idea. That speech was right on the money, while Senator Clinton endorsed and supported the war. So as far as judgment's sake goes, Obama wins right there and then. As for milking cows I suspect neither of them are very good at it, but I will trust Barack Obama to do the right thing by pulling the troops out, since he was right about the war all along.

A Vote For McCain Is A Vote For Bush's Third Term

If you want another four or eight years of the misery we have experienced since 2001, McCain is your man:

Councilman Avella Speaks Out Against Tibet

If you had to put the adjective "reformer" next to a noun like "New York City Councilmember," you would likely come up with Tony Avella. Tony has fought against the horse drawn carriages in Central Park and now he is appealing to the corporate sponsors of the Olympics based here in New York to boycott the Beijing summer games. Many people have heard about Steven Spielberg dropping out of his Olympic role, well now NYC's Avella is engaged and will be participating in today's protest against the Chinese government for their atrocities perpetrated on the Tibetan people as well as commemorating the anniversary of the 1959 uprising.

From The Gothamist:

City Council member and probable 2009 mayoral candidate, Tony Avella, is the latest politician to ask for America's withdrawl from the Beijing Olympics if China will not grant Tibet independence. Under China's rule for over 50 years, Tibet has made no headway, even with the support of human rights groups, activists...and Richard Gere. When we interviewed Robert Thurman, co-founder of the Tibet House, earlier this year he touched on the Olympics, saying:
The thinking is that if you give them a big P.R. thing to do like the Olympics, they won’t want people to see how they’re beating up the Falun Gong or whatever it is they’re doing lately. This is a fallacious concept but within that it’s true that the Chinese are trying to clean up their act so they won’t be embarrassed during the Olympics. Unfortunately, what the Chinese consider ‘cleaning up their act’ is to wipe out people who might do human rights protests; they don’t mean stopping the human rights violations.
Today a rally in Manhattan is taking place commemorating the anniversary of the 1959 uprising against China. Avella is in attendance and will most likely use this event to introduce his resolution, which demands New York City-based corporate sponsors boycott the 2008 Olympics, and that the International Olympic Committee move the games from Beijing. He stated, "That's the only thing that will make them do anything — international pressure."

If we were able to boycott the 1980 Olympics, we can do it in 2008. Bush may not care about the plight of the Tibetan people enough but many Americans certainly do, especially when they resonate with what the citizens of Tibet want.

Thank you Councilman Avella for the principled stances you take and to show you our support, I'd like to ask anyone who is free at 11:30 AM on Thursday, March 13th 12 PM Friday March 14th to show up at the steps in front of City Hall to help him in his other quest, for clean elections here in New York. I'll be telling you about it again, so if you forget today don't worry.

The Popularity of Hate

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the number of hate groups has been on the rise, and so have violent, race based crimes. Particularly evident is the rise in crimes and groups that are dedicated to stopping immigration from Latin America. For the most part the public image of groups like the Federation for American Immigration Reform is quite professional but the ugliness lies below the surface. Take for instance the debate between the two aforementioned groups.

From The Houston Chronicle:

The Southern Poverty Law Center, in a report titled The Year in Hate, said it counted 888 hate groups in its latest tally, up from 844 in 2006 and 602 in 2000.

The most prominent of the organizations newly added to the list, the Federation for American Immigration Reform, or FAIR, vehemently rejected the "hate group" label, and questioned the law center's motives. FAIR said the center was using smear tactics to boost donations and stifle legitimate debate on immigration.

"Their banner may be 'Stop the hate' but it's really 'Stop the debate,'" said FAIR's president, Dan Stein. "Apparently you can't even articulate an argument for immigration reform without being smeared."

The law center's report contends there is a link between anti-immigrant activism and the significant rise in hate crimes against Latinos in recent years. According to the latest FBI statistics, 819 people were victimized by anti-Latino hate crimes in 2006, compared with 595 in 2003.

"The immigration debate has turned ugly and the result has been a growth in white supremacist hate groups and anti-Latino hate crime," said Mark Potok, director of the law center's Intelligence Project. "The majority of anti-Latino hate crimes are carried out by people who think they're attacking immigrants, and very likely undocumented immigrants."

People who fear immigrants is nothing new in this country. It has been going on since immigrants arrived at the shores in the early 17th century, particularly worsening in the 19th century. Regardless of what year it is, as long as people are taught to fear someone based on their country of origin or skin color, that fear is more than likely able to translate itself into anger and possibly violence. So as long as leaders put the fear out there, we will continue to see groups with misleading names like FAIR.

Go Wexler!

This man has to be one of the most passionate advocate of real oversight and reform in Congress.

Welcome To The Light Congressman Rohrabacher

I could hardly believe I was reading an epiphany of Congressman Dana Rohrabacher's (R-CA) this weekend. The Congressional record, as it always records, took down his speech from February 26th of last month. Now for the most part, Republicans tend to commend their party's President, for the war, the economy and whatever else they see as good in their deluded little heads. Yet, on February 26th, something different happened for one deluded head, it saw a little bit of light.

From AfterDowningStreet:

Madam Speaker, I come to the floor tonight with a
heavy heart. The nature of the allegations I make speaks poorly of this
administration. In my heart of hearts, I have always wanted this
administration to succeed, but the issue at hand is of such magnitude
that the American people need to know what is being done and what
precedents are being set.

In my tenure as a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs

Committee, both as chairman and ranking member of an investigative
subcommittee, I have witnessed firsthand behavior by the Bush
administration which I find deeply troubling.

The disdain and uncooperative nature that this administration has

shown toward Congress, including Republican Members, is so egregious
that I can no longer assume that it is simply bureaucratic incompetence
or isolated mistakes. Rather, I have come to the sad conclusion that
this administration has intentionally obstructed Congress' rightful and
constitutional duties.

Obstructed Congress you say? Violated the separation of powers clause in the Constitution you say? Well Congressman, congratulations, you have entered the realm of reality. Do you have anything else to add while you are rightfully condemning George Bush?

In the last Congress, I was chairman of the Oversight and
Investigations Subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. In
that capacity, I learned that in the time immediately leading up to the
bombing of the Federal Building in Oklahoma City, convicted Oklahoma
City bomber and murderer Terry Nichols had been in Cebu City in the
Philippines. His stay in Cebu City coincided with another visitor to
that city, al Qaeda's terrorist leader Ramsey Yousef. Interestingly,
both Nichols and Yousef used similar bombs and methods just 2 years
apart to blow up two American targets. Yousef was the mastermind of the
first attack on the World Trade Center in 1993. Nichols was a
coconspirator in the bombing of the Oklahoma City Federal Building in

By the way, I would like to acknowledge that today happens to be the
15-year anniversary of that first devastating attack on the World Trade

These individuals, one American and one Arab, were responsible for
planning two of the most lethal terrorist attacks on our countrymen in
our history. We are to believe that by coincidence they ended up in an
off-the-beaten-track city in the Southern Philippines? One doesn't have
to be a conspiracy nut to understand that this coincidence is certainly
worth looking into.

I started an official congressional investigation sanctioned by Henry
Hyde, then the chairman of the International Relations Committee, to
see whether Terry Nichols or his accomplice, Timothy McVeigh, had
foreign help in their murderous terrorist bombing of the Alfred Murrah
Building in Oklahoma City.

In light of the fact that Terry Nichols and Ramsey Yousef were both
in Cebu City at the same time prior to hauntingly similar terrorist
attacks, it was no stretch for a congressional investigative committee
to be looking into this matter. However, the Bush administration felt
quite differently. To those I had to deal with, it was ``case closed,
don't bother us.'' They had looked into the matter, and Congress should
simply and blindly accept their conclusion that there was no Nichols-
Yousef connection. ``Don't bother us.'' This was at times bureaucratic
laziness, and at other times it was clearly based on a disdain for
congressional investigations and authority.

During my investigation, I secured Ramsey Yousef's cell phone
records. The records were part of the phone calls that he made when he
was in that New York City area in the months just prior to the bombing
of the World Trade Center in 1993.

The phone records show that Ramsey Yousef made at least two phone
calls to a row house in Queens, New York.

Well how about that, someone in the GOP Congressional caucus wanted to conduct an investigation into a possible link for the GWOT and was denied by the White House. Denied. I disagree with your first premise Congressman about the laziness. I do agree with your second premise however, that the White House has a disdain for Congressional authority because they believe that the Executive branch should be higher than the Congress and is not co-equal. You could be a Democrat, Republican or a Communist, but they aren't going to treat as their equal if you are anywhere but inside 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Even then, some people can be disregarded as well.

I don't know what kind of connection Ramsey Yousef had with Terry Nichols, but if the White House has their way, we'll never know. Now Congress, you should know what to do about this (*cough* impeachment *cough*) but I'm not holding my breath.