Saturday, April 05, 2008

Oy! Hillary Caught Lying Again!

With so many actual horror stories from the world of American health care, why on Earth would a Presidential candidate talk about something fictitious? Leave it to Senator Clinton to repeat a story that isn't true and to say it enough times that the hospital in question has to make the issue public. I just do not understand why everything has to be embellished? Is she trying to make her campaign fall harder and faster than Bill could back in January?

From The NY Times:

Over the last five weeks, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York has featured in her campaign stump speeches the story of a health care horror: an uninsured pregnant woman who lost her baby and died herself after being denied care by an Ohio hospital because she could not come up with a $100 fee.

The woman, Trina Bachtel, did die last August, two weeks after her baby boy was stillborn at O’Bleness Memorial Hospital in Athens, Ohio. But hospital administrators said Friday that Ms. Bachtel was under the care of an obstetrics practice affiliated with the hospital, that she was never refused treatment and that she was, in fact, insured.

"We implore the Clinton campaign to immediately desist from repeating this story," said Rick Castrop, chief executive officer of the O’Bleness Health System.

The Clinton campaign thus far has made a pitiful excuse to defend their defamation of O'Bleness Memorial Hospital. Not having a chance to vet a story does not fly on the Presidential campaign circuit. That is a rookie mistake and at this level rookie mistakes can be major blunders.

Bill Maher Goes Into Overtime

As it does every Friday night that he's on, the show does an audience Q & A, pre-selected Q's of course but that doesn't mean the answers are dull from those on the panel.

Add Boehner To The List Of Crazy Republican Dreamers

This wouldn't be a dream like Martin Luther King's. Boehner's dream consists of gaining back power in this year's electoral contests for the Republican party. Like the GOP crazies who thought they'd win the midterm elections two years ago, Boehner sees success in November in spite of the money woes. Of course like any Republican in politics, he fails to grasp the big picture.

From FireDogLake:

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) predicted Thursday that Republicans will pick up seats in the 2008 election despite a slew of GOP retirements and the Democrats' significant fundraising advantage. "We don't need as much money as [Democrats] have," he said. "We need enough to tell our story." He added, "I think we are going to gain seats this year. Period."

Confident Delusional Hilarious words for a man who just a few weeks ago was pleading with his fellow Goopers to get off their "dead asses" and raise money because the GOP's fundraising "sucks."

Money, schmoney. Boehner's right. There is that wonderful Republican story to be told of the housing crisis, the recession, two lost wars and generally what awesome shape the country's in. Because when voters hear that story, they'll swoon.

It's just fabulous.

Yes, I can't wait for Boehner to tell that story, gather around the children and let the lies flow like water out of the Hoover Dam. I hope they spend whatever money is left letting Americans know all about those wonderful things.

Boston Globe Kisses McCain's Ass

McCain certainly does a good job of courting the media. He lets them ask all the questions they want, invites them to barbecues and as Chris Matthews exclaims, they're practically his base. So that is why the latest piece from the Boston Globe shows how a story can be construed into favoring McCain when all the facts point the other way. Printing spin as is without framing it isn't journalism, it is just pathetic. The story below is about campaign financing and McCain's decision to return checks.

Let's take a look:

In another sign that John McCain is moving toward accepting public financing this fall, the Republican's campaign is returning about $3 million in checks to contributors who have given money for his general election campaign, funds he could not use if he opts into the public system.

McCain's campaign, in letters to contributors, is asking supporters to write new checks to a special fund created to help the Arizona senator pay legal and accounting expenses related to compliance with the public funding system.

Can you see the two problems in these paragraphs? First of all, he already opted into the public system. That directly contradicts their statement that implies he hasn't made a decision already. And no, you can not simply opt in and out as you please, it doesn't work that way. Perhaps if these journalists would have spent less time on the StraightTalk Express bus, they could have researched that little fact.

In the second paragraph, that special fund to pay legal and accounting expenses in order to comply with the system is a clever way of getting around the fact that the FEC is looking into McCain's campaign violating the rules he vowed to oblige when he opted into the system months ago. Recently the DNC filed a complaint against McCain, but this article conveniently forgets to mention it.

Then there is this:

The move is largely procedural, and McCain's campaign said yesterday that it has not yet decided whether to accept public funding or to raise money on its own for the November presidential election. But the decision to return checks - which was made as the Democratic candidates announced raising $60 million combined in March, nearly as much as McCain had raised for the entire campaign through February - indicates that McCain is laying the groundwork for doing so.

"Senator McCain has made it clear that he expects to participate in the general election public financing system, and he hopes the Democratic nominee will do so as well," Brian Rogers, McCain spokesman, said in a statement. "The campaign reserves the right to change course, but these developments reflect our current plans."

Moving that money around is not simply procedural, how does one swallow crap like that so readily. Without even a trace of journalistic ability, the article allows McCain's spokesman to get away with calling on the Democratic nominee to opt in (only because the Democratic side is humiliating McCain when it comes to fundraising numbers) yet it says in bold black ink that they haven't made a decision to opt in or not, despite having opted in already!! And again, there is no changing course unless the FEC allows you and they haven't granted McCain an out so far.

The article also mentions that candidates who opt in have to abide by spending limits. If they would have noted that McCain is already in the system, they might have been able to show the data that proves he has already gone over the limit for the primary season (that leads up to the convention). Of course, that is conveniently missing as well.

Score on this one, McCain 1, reality 0.

Blackwater Saga Will Continue: Pentagon Looks The Other Way For Mercenary Group

For reasons beyond the realm of common sense, the Pentagon has decided to renew the contract for Blackwater to maintain their operations (and cash flow) in Iraq. Despite numerous abuses and allegations, this private contractor mercenary group will continue to leech off of American taxpayers and take jobs that should be reserved for our soldiers. Instead, some Blackwater agents use their 'contractor' status to override our own military forces in humiliating fashion, though still not as bad as how they try to win the hearts and minds of Iraqis. All in all, this is just a bad deal.

From The Huffington Post:

Blackwater provides security for diplomats in Baghdad, where the sprawling U.S. Embassy is headquartered. Its private guards act as bodyguards and armed drivers, escorting government officials when they go outside the fortified Green Zone.

Iraqis were outraged over a Sept. 16 shooting in which 17 Iraq civilians were killed in a Baghdad square. Blackwater said its guards were protecting diplomats under attack before they opened fire, but Iraqi investigators concluded the shooting was unprovoked.

An FBI probe began in November. Prosecutors want to know whether Blackwater contractors used excessive force or violated any laws.

The State Department's top security officer, Greg Starr, told reporters Friday that because the FBI is still investigating the shootings, there is no justification now to pull the contract when it comes due in May.

Blackwater has a five-year deal to provide personal protection for diplomats, and its contract is reauthorized each year. The decision announced Friday extends Blackwater's deal for the third year.

Here's an idea, why not pull these operations in-house. Why do we need to pay private companies to protect diplomats? If we as a nation are held accountable in the court of world opinion, then we should be fully responsible for protecting people who are on diplomatic missions in the hell that is Iraq. I know this wouldn't make some people who are close to the Pentagon (like Erik Prince) as wealthy as he is today, but too f**king bad, our military should not be about enriching a few war profiteers.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Reid To Petraeus: Whats Your Plan?

Once again, General Petraeus is going to Congress to stump for more money for this horrendous war. Reid is going to ask tough questions, but we need to hold him accountable to take tough actions. That is one of many things Reid talks about to PoliticsTV in this segment:

Feith Proves Bush Administration's Ridiculous Rationale For War

While 60 Minutes interviews many interesting public officials, one that the viewers must watch with a guarded eye is Douglas Feith and his upcoming performance on the show this weekend. Feith was mostly a shadowy figure within the Administration before he tried to cash in with a book deal. Now he's making his way to the CBS weekend icon to continue to press a case that shows a rationale for going to war to prevent war.

From RawStory:

CBS's Steve Kroft asked Feith, "Why was the decision made to go after him after 9/11? Because we knew even then, he didn't have anything to do with it."

"What we did after 9/11 was to look broadly at the international terrorism network from which the next attack on the United States might come," Feith replied, "and we did not focus narrowly only on the people who were specifically responsible for 9/11. Our main goal was preventing the next attack."

While at the Pentagon, Feith led the Office of Special Plans, which has been accused of "stovepiping" intelligence during the run-up to the invasion of Iraq and passing along questionable information that could help make a case for war. A 2004 report (pdf) initiated by Sen. Carl Levin found that "in the case of Iraq’s relationship with al Qaeda, intelligence was exaggerated to support Administration policy aims primarily by the Feith policy office, which was determined to find a strong connection between Iraq and al Qaeda, rather than by the [Intelligence Community], which was consistently dubious of such a connection."

That may confuse some, but it also angers many with the brashness that is the hallmark of the Bush Administration. What Feith is doing is regurgitating the same old tired talking points that those within the White House have tried use to pull the wool over Americans' eyes. Well Mr. Feith, Americans are waking up to your BS and clearly, we are seeing you for who you really are, a stovepiping liar.

Disgracing The Memory Of Dr. King Like Only McCain Can

For some strange reason, Presidential candidate John McCain decided to show up in Memphis today to honor the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Why is that odd? Well, for starters, John McCain rejects much of what King stood up for. He was against war, McCain is obviously for it. King wanted so many different things for our society that was meant to help us achieve equality and justice for all, yet McCain is running for George Bush's third term, and that goes together like oil and water. On top of the principles and issues, McCain initially voted against making King's birthday a national holiday...and sought to defund the commission that promoted the holiday as late as the 1994. So what type of response did McCain get in Memphis from those in the crowd?

From The Huffington Post:

Senator John McCain, "who says he will court the African-American vote this year and campaign in places Republicans often shun," spoke in Memphis on Friday to mark the 40th anniversary of the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

But his speech was met with boos and interruptions from many in the audience, as he apologized for repeatedly opposing the creation of a holiday to celebrate King's legacy.

McCain voted against the creation of a holiday honoring King in 1983, a vote which was supported by a large number of Republicans. McCain claimed this week that he was largely unaware on the importance of King's work at the time, due to his Vietnam-era service overseas. Speaking on Thursday to reporters, he explained that his conversion occurred around 1990:

"I voted in my...first year in Congress against it and then I began to learn and I studied and people talked to me. And I not only supported it but I fought very hard in my home state of Arizona for recognition against a governor who was of my own party."

But McCain's voting record since 1990 doesn't support this explanation. In addition to voting to oppose a state holiday in 1987 (which he later supported) and a federal holiday in 1989, McCain voted in 1994 to cut funding for the commission that promoted King's holiday.

This is a hard one for the McCain camp to spin and the comment about reaching out to African-American voters is nothing more than a pleasantry. Beyond the facts of the case, there is something to be said about a picture being worth a thousand words, but a video of McCain being booed (not to mention the man that is keeping him dry) speaks volumes.

Where Did All The Salmon Go?

Could salmon fishing possibly be banned on the Pacific Coast? It looks like it might have to be.

Council Speaker's Phantom Groups Go Beyond Quinn's Office

It is now a little more than a day since the story broke about the phantom groups in the City Council Speaker's budget that went to "other" causes (such as those people that do what the Speaker's office wants them to). Quinn claims to have only found out recently and that the people in her office who utilized the slush fund were fired months ago. Somehow though there is no paper trail of her documenting them being fired for these acts, so we have no idea why they left. Nevertheless, some blame lies on Speaker/Mayoral candidate Christine Quinn for not inspecting her budget more thoroughly. Then again, there is blame to spread on to another candidate for Mayor, Comptroller William Thompson.

From The NY Sun:

Mr. Thompson, who is running for mayor, said in a statement that the allegations against budget practices of the council raise serious concerns.

"If there were any attempts to subvert the New York City Charter or to hide money in non-existent organizations, these actions would represent a breach of the public trust," he said. His spokesman could not be reached for comment about the damage the disclosure may have on Mr. Thompson's political future.

A former parks commissioner who is the director of New York Civic, Henry Stern, said the budget accounting practice implicates officials outside the council as well as in, and is "totally wrong." "He's in his seventh year as comptroller. She's only in her third year as speaker," he said, referring to Mr. Thompson and Ms. Quinn. "All these books are in print, how come the comptroller didn't know anything about it? It's their job to audit all these city agencies. I think although it's primarily the speaker's fault, we should look closely at what the comptroller knew and when he knew it."

Stern makes a very good point. Why didn't Thompson catch this? For that matter, what about the Comptrollers before him and the same goes for all of the Speakers from Peter Vallone to Christine Quinn. This lack of accountability goes across the city's political spectrum and this is just one instance of corruption. Now two candidates for Mayor are being fingered in this story, and their credibility, even this far out is going to be tarnished. Criminal charges should be coming soon, but we'll see if the law or the public will have the greatest effect on their political and legal futures.

Has Torture Becoming Boring To The Media?

A huge bombshell landed in our laps this week and no one really noticed. That explosive contained the rationale for George Bush and his henchmen to torture anyone they want. Anyone. John Yoo at the Department of Justice had an 81 page memo crafted and is now declassified. Why would the Administration want to open up this part of their book for people to see how they've been on a crusade for an Executive branch that makes Congress look like a whimpering puppy? Perhaps it was because they knew the media would be unable to digest it in their endless 24 hour cycle of ratings-grabbing insanity.

From The Huffington Post:

On cable news, mentions of the memo's declassifications were few, brief, and undetailed. CNN's Headline News noted that the story was "one of the most popular stories at," but apparently, that's not enough to warrant a lengthier report. MSNBC featured a brief mention on Morning Joe, and a near-noontime mention that was three sentences long and followed by a lengthy report on the hospitalization of an American Idol performer.

Only Fox News took the matter to the level of discussion, but even then, the report was largely short-sighted and full of equivocations and unsubstantiated claims. The major takeaway was that the memo noted that "constitutional protections do not apply to foreign prisoners being held outside the United States" and that interrogation "becomes torture when severe pain and suffering cause permanent or irreversible damage...death, organ failure, or the permanent impairment of a significant bodily function." (As you'll see below, the full ramifications of the memo were far more vast.)

Later in the day, Fox added, "Numerous presidents have ordered the capture and questioning of enemy combatants during virtually every major conflict in the nation's history. Recognizing this authority, congress has never attempted to restrain or interfere with the president's authority on this score." This sort of implies that if an action was taken in the past, it imbues a "rightness."

Along the way, Fox salted the coverage with equivocations. "A number of major Republicans and Democrats said this is a terrible mistake." None were named, and the wisdom of their position was unexplored. "Some constitutional scholars say the 81-page legal opinion must be placed in historical context...[it should be viewed as] a period piece." That's a classic "some say" assertion that again suggests that "history" trumps a moral foundation or factual evidence that indicates torture is ineffective. Finally, Fox lets Kit Bond have the last word, and it's a stupefyingly inane one: "Some are more interested in recycling old news and scoring political points with the ACLU."

It is amusing, if not sad, that Fox News went the farthest with this. Perhaps they knew that no one else would pay too much attention to it. That would give them ample opportunity to spin this the way the Administration would want. That Bush is right to torture people if it serves a "higher purpose," even if we do not know what that purpose is, despite all the facts to the contrary that torturing prisoners does interrogators absolutely no good at all.

What the media did with this story, both actively and passively, shows that they are not doing their jobs at protecting the freedoms of the American people. The fourth estate was meant to be a stop gap when the three branches of our government were not working to the best of their ability. Unfortunately now, that fourth estate is either in bed with the Executive branch, or in the other room playing video games while King Bush gets to do as he pleases.

The NAFTA Gig Is Up Hillary

Senator Clintin, what exactly were you claiming about your opponent concernin NAFTA? Something about an aide doing a wink and a nod? Last time I heard, wink and nodder Mark Penn still worked for you.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Siegelman Saga Makes Karl Rove Desperate

Now that ex-Governor Don Siegelman has been practically vindicated after serving several months in jail, the heat is being turned up on Karl Rove. The 60 Minutes special a few months ago brought much of his story to light. Now so-called "Bush's Brain" is starting to lose his own marbles and taking his anger out against accuser Jill Simpson and 60 Minutes via GQ Magazine.

From RawStory:

In an interview with GQ magazine, President Bush's former political guru says he has never met Jill Simpson, an Alabama attorney and GOP campaign volunteer who has claimed that Rove tried to sabotage Democratic Gov. Don Siegelman's career.

CBS says it stands behind the "60 Minutes" program from February in which Simpson said Rove asked her to find evidence that Siegelman was cheating on his wife. Rove declined to respond to her allegations on the program.

Simpson, who has given sworn testimony to congressional investigators, has claimed she overheard conversations among Republicans suggesting that Rove pushed the Justice Department to go after Siegelman, who was convicted on corruption charges in 2006.

"She's a complete lunatic," Rove said in the interview. "I've never met this woman. This woman was not involved in any campaign in which I was involved. I have yet to find anybody who knows her."

Asked why CBS aired her allegations, he said, "Because CBS is a shoddy operation." It aired the story to get good ratings, he added.

Wow Karl, I think a five year could have come up with sharper remarks than that. What happened to the cool, calm and collected Presidential adviser we all used to love to hate? Is the pressure getting to ya? Perhaps you only get one get out jail free card in your life? Whatever it is, I.....think Mr. Rove might just have his goose cooked on this one.

McCain's Finance Chair Tells Elizabeth Edwards To Not Talk About Cancer

First of all, anyone that has or has gone through the ordeal of cancer has the right to talk about cancer. Secondly, if you are in any way political (like Elizabeth Edwards) then you have more than ample justification to have your views heard by whomever wants to listen. For someone on McCain's campaign to tell her to leave it out of the national conversation because they do not like the facts is absurd. That someone is Fred Malek.

From Malek's blog:

Finding a cure for cancer is a vitally important mission for this country. Supporting that mission should unite everyone – and should be off-limits from the political and partisan battlefield.

That’s why I was more than a bit concerned to see Elizabeth Edwards – herself a heroic cancer survivor and inspiration for us all – bring cancer into the presidential race.[...]

I give Mrs. Edwards all the benefit of the doubt in the world on this one, that she really has our best interests at heart by introducing John McCain – who is Honorary Co-chairman, Advisory Board of Directors of the Arizona Cancer Research Foundation — into the political conversation.

I just hope that it doesn’t become a common occurrence on the campaign trail. The cancer conversation is best left to the experts, researchers, and doctors.

Congratulations on completely changing the subject Mr. Malek. Everyone wants to find cures for cancer. One must be pretty sick to try and start a debate about finding cures for cancer. What Elizabeth was saying that when it comes to candidates' positions on health care, both her and McCain wouldn't have been covered under his own plan. It is as simple as that sir. And the man you quoted from Jake Tapper's piece, Douglas Holtz-Eakin is another surrogate for McCain. He says that competition in the marketplace will solve the nation's health care crisis.

Um Fred, we've been doing that competitive thing now for almost forty years now and it has only made the problem of coverage worse.

Why Does McCain Refuse To Sign On To Iraq Vet GI Bill?

These troops have a few things to say to Mr. McCain...and every single legislator that doesn't support this bill to give educational assistance to our nation's bravest soldiers. The G.I. bill worked after World War II and it can work now. Thankfully we have Senators like Jim Webb to push this so hard in the Senate right now.

Now That Bush Is Going, Billionaires Turn To.....Joe Bruno?

George Bush has but a few months left in his tragedy of a Presidency, so one of his staunchest "supporters," Billionaires for Bush have decided to get local and go to Albany to help out their dear friend Joe Bruno help protect the rich while the state budget is being decided.

Alright, you probably guessed that wasn't exactly the case, Bruno has enough friends to get his anti-working and middle class shoved down our throats. So that is why Joe Seeman and others came to Albany to lobby (outdoors style) legislators to put back the Working Families Party' proposal to add an additional temporary tax to those that make a million dollars a year. In their shpeel they make some very good points.

From The NY Daily News:

Billionaires for Bruno
Class Privilege, Not Class Action

Rob M. Blind and Phil T Rich, Co-Chairs
Hal E. Burton, Treasurer
Iona Bigga Yacht, Secretary

Thank You, Senators, for Defeating the Millionaires Tax
Mission Accomplished – No, You Can’t
The Campaign Checks are In the Mail

Top Ten Reasons why the Taxing the Rich is a Bad Idea

1. Tax Work, Not Wealth

2. Taxes are Not for Everyone; Only Little People Pay Taxes

3. It’s Going to Cost a Bundle to Buy both the State Senate and Presidential
Elections in 2008

4. Its Hard to Feed Your Family on a Million Dollars a Year

5. Show Me the Money - Greed is Good

6. The Yacht Needs a Paint Job

7. The Maid Wants Bus Fare

8. A million a year is not that much when you have 2 kids in Ivy League
Schools, vacation homes in the Hamptons and the Vineyards, housekeepers, nannies,
groundskeepers, chauffeurs, butlers and tax shelter experts to pay, and a
large residence on Central Park West

9. What’s Good for New York is Bad for the Wealthy

10. New York is Number 1 in Income Inequality – Let’s Keep it that Way

Sadly, the real reasons Bruno opposes the measure are probably scattered within that list, minus the irony of course. The best proponent we had was Sheldon Silver (sic) and now he thinks it is most likely dead. Of course you have got to hand it to these billionaires (at least in spirit) for going up to Albany to state their case so humorously.

Republican Rep. Proves He Doesn't Care About 9/11 Victims

Yesterday the American people (via C-SPAN) were allowed to see the true heartlessness that exists within the Republican party when concerning the victims of the attacks that happened on September 11th, 2001. The terrible tragedy that occurred here in Lower Manhattan was unlike any other, yet a few short years later those Republicans who wanted to bring hell on anyone connected to it could care less about those that gave their health to help rescue people trapped in the Pile.

From The NY Daily News:

Congressional efforts to take care of sick Ground Zero workers hit a snag Tuesday when a powerful Republican insisted it's New York's problem alone.

California Rep. Darrell Issa, in refusing to send more money New York's way, insisted the planes that struck the twin towers weren't weapons.

"It simply was an aircraft, residue of two aircraft, and residue from the materials used to build this building," Issa said during a hearing into whether a new 9/11 victims' compensation fund should be launched.

An astounded Michael Cardozo, Mayor Bloomberg's corporation counsel, who was testifying before the panel said: "This was an attack, I believe, on the United States of America."

"It was located at Ground Zero, but it was an attack on America," Cardozo repeated.

Yeah it was an attack on America and the fact that Issa doesn't want to help those that gave so much on that day and those that followed it is a testament to the man's character. The men and women who are permanently injured from breathing in that toxic soup some tried to call air was full of dangerous particles that have decimated the lungs of hundreds of workers. Moreover, they were lied to about the quality of the air by the EPA, which by the way is a Federal agency and the government should must take responsibility for that by making sure these heroes get the care and respect they deserve.

Obama Laughs In Chris Matthews' Face

It is a long interview, but the part where Obama is asked what was the funniest thing for him has to be the best part of the interview:

Obama Raises $40 Million In March

It is only April 3rd but Obama has already released his fundraising numbers from March. There were reports he might have taken in somewhere in the low $30 million dollar range but when it was all counted, the number was even better than expected. Not only that, it will continue to dominate the fundraising ability of the Clinton campaign, approximately by double this time around.

From RawStory:

Barack Obama raised $40 million last month, his campaign announced Thursday. The average contribution, it said, was $96. More than 442,000 people donated to the campaign last month, and nearly half of those were first-time contributors.[...]

Since Obama began his presidential campaign last year, more than 1.2 million people have donated to the campaign. The preliminary numbers released Thursday show his campaign is still being fueled by relatively small donations. He received contributions from about 218,000 first-time contributors last month, according to the campaign.

The $40 million figure exceeded expectations that predicted a haul between $30 and $35 million. Clinton is expected to have raised about $20 million in March.

Conventional wisdom says that Obama didn't wait long to release that bit of big news to pile on to the increasing doubt that Hillary Clinton can continue to compete in the primary election. While she is making claims that Obama can't win the general, the reality is that she is struggling here in the primary season and will continue to do so until inevitability catches up with her.

Christine Quinn's Office Gave Money To Phantoms

The NY Post broke the story this morning as I sat tediously in the jury waiting room at 111 Centre St. Apparently they don't like blogger, and my access was denied. It seems like every week we get a brand new story of political corruption in New York, whether its in the city or up in Albany. Turns out the Speaker's office has been hiding money from the budget to be given out as a slush fund to those that play along with her agenda. To be fair though, her aides have said this practice goes back twenty years, so at least she isn't the first.

From The NY Post:

April 3, 2008 -- City Council Speaker Christine Quinn's office hid millions of taxpayer dollars by allocating grants to phantom organizations as a way of holding the funds to dole out political favors later - bogus bookkeeping that is the subject of city and federal probes, The Post has learned.

Among the dozens of fabricated groups that were slated to receive funds were the "Immigration Improvement Project of New York" ($300,000), the "Coalition for a Strong Special Education" ($400,000) and the "American Association of Concerned Veterans" ($422,763).

The total amount set aside in 2007 and 2008 for the fake organizations - which are each listed by name in the city budget after being inserted at the council's request - was $4.7 million. In the two years, 30 phantom groups were listed, council aides confirmed.

It doesn't look good and the authorities are looking at just how bad it is. However, Speaker Quinn did give an interview to the paper yesterday and tried to explain her side of things:

In the interview, Quinn, who plans to run for mayor next year and has made "transparency" in budgeting one of her pet causes, admitted she knew some funds were being held in reserve, but learned only several months ago they had been allocated to sham organizations.

Quinn said she ordered that the shady practice be abolished and only recently discovered her staff had not complied.

"I was kind of sick over the fact that there were things listed in the budget that were not accurate and that my instructions to the staff were disregarded," Quinn told The Post.

When she learned several months ago that the practice had continued, Quinn said she turned over information about the bogus bookkeeping to "appropriate authorities," including the city Department of Investigation and the Manhattan US Attorney's Office.

If she talked to the Manhattan DA about it then it at least shows she tried to fix the problem, though why it took several months to do, that is a question she should be answering. The statement that her staff ignored her request to stop also sounds a little too good to be true, at least for me. Maybe I'm just a little bit of a cynic but hey, this is New York.

Regardless of how the facts are splayed out, this can't be good news for Quinn's run for Mayor next year, especially with her appeals for good government and transparency.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Elizabeth Edwards Talks Health Care In America

No one does this better than her, not even Michael Moore. This woman truly is incredible:

Chris Matthews Can't Hide His Racism

Yesterday was April Fool's Day, but Chris Matthews' comments about Barack Obama was no joke. He had Senator Claire McCaskill on the show to talk about, of all things, Obama's bowling skills (why that has anything to do with running for President, you got me) and he used it in a way to lean on racial stereotypes that have no place on a news show or television in general.

From Media Matters:

Discussing Sen. Barack Obama on the April 1 edition of MSNBC's Hardball, host Chris Matthews asked Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO): "Let me ask you about how he -- how's he connect with regular people? Does he? Or does he only appeal to people who come from the African-American community and from the people who have college or advanced degrees?" Earlier in the show, referring to Obama's bowling performance at a March 29 campaign stop at Pleasant Valley Lanes in Altoona, Pennsylvania, Matthews teased the segment with McCaskill by asking, "[C]an Obama woo more regular voters -- you know, the ones who actually do know how to bowl?" As Media Matters for America noted, on the March 31 edition of Hardball, Matthews said of Obama: "[T]his gets very ethnic, but the fact that he's good at basketball doesn't surprise anybody, but the fact that he's that terrible at bowling does make you wonder."

Since when are those who are college educated and/or African-Americans not regular people?!? And the basketball comment? Seriously Chris WTF is wrong with you? Those stereotypes are absolutely ridiculous and only serve to lower the character of the debate. Of course none of this surprises me, Matthews continually offends everyone that isn't a white male as long as he's talking out loud. If it isn't an implied racist remark, there's a chauvinistic barb waiting in the wings.

If only MSNBC could do the right things and get rid of him, how much better the world of American politics would be.

Al Gore Helps Obama Makes The Political Play Of The Day

I'm going to borrow the phrase that CNN loves to use to describe the political motions candidates go through on a daily basis in this marathon of a race. Barack Obama nailed it today by mentioning the mystical and cherished name of Al Gore. Just mentioning his name as a Cabinet pick is all it takes? Yep, it was that easy.

From The Huffington Post:

WALLINGFORD, Pa. — Sen. Barack Obama said Wednesday he would give Al Gore, a Nobel prize winner, a major role in an Obama administration to address the problem of global warming.

At a town-hall meeting, Obama was asked if he would tap the former vice president for his Cabinet to handle global warming.

"I would," Obama said. "Not only will I, but I will make a commitment that Al Gore will be at the table and play a central part in us figuring out how we solve this problem. He's somebody I talk to on a regular basis. I'm already consulting with him in terms of these issues, but climate change is real. It is something we have to deal with now, not 10 years from now, not 20 years from now."

So why was this so brilliant you ask?

Well Barack is in a tricky period of this campaign. The pieces are falling from the Clinton campaign and barring some sort of miracle, he will be the nominee. Therefore he must begin to repair the division in the party created by this primary race and get ready for the general election.

Many Hillary Clinton supporters are diehard Democrats and even their devotion to Hillary, Al Gore has become a scion of the party. His work to raise awareness about the environment and the action he has taken is awe-inspiring, not only to Democrats but to people throughout the world. Many have accepted that he has now superceded the American political realm, but that doesn't mean he can't play a pivotal role in helping America to work towards solving the climate crisis.

That type of talk from Barack oozes good feelings and thats why (as CNN's Bill Schneider says) Barack Obama had the political play of the day.

How The NYC Council Voted For Congestion Pricing

Streetsblog put together a handy-dandy map for all those interested to ogle over and make interesting observations:

One observation is the grey area in the Bronx, where Councilwoman Helen Foster resides. The reason she didn't show up to vote? Her plane was stuck in Vegas. Way to represent the people Ms. Foster!

And The 2008 April Fool's Award Goes To....

You know I really didn't see too many good April Fool's jokes or stunts out there yesterday. Maybe its just me and I live in tiny bubble (called New York City) but honestly I didn't hear of much that was noteworthy. Then I heard someone talking earlier today about something the IRS is doing now. It is common knowledge that the IRS is giving rebates due to Bush/Congress' stimulus package, but according to this (who will remain nameless) woman, NPR's "Marketplace" told a larger story.

From NPR's Marketplace:

Kai Ryssdal: You might have gotten a little note from the Internal Revenue Service recently telling you about your forthcoming rebate check. It's part of the economic stimulus package Congress and the White House agreed on a couple of months ago. Most taxpayers will get anywhere from $600 to $1,200 back from Uncle Sam.

The hope is that we'll spend it to buy things, which would be what the government wants to give the economy a kick in the pants. The worry is that many have said they'll pay down debts instead. So, with some taxpayers, the IRS isn't taking any chances.

Marketplace's Rico Gagliano reports.

Rico Gagliano: Hello!

Stacey Atkinson: Hi!

Gordon Atkinson: Hey! How ya doin'!

Gagliano: Gordon and Stacey Atkinson live in Phoenix Arizona, in a home they bought with a subprime loan.

Gordon: Come on in.

Like many subprimers, they're having a hard time paying the mortgage. So, eager for their $1,200 rebate check, they filed their taxes in February.

Stacey: And I was expecting -- or we were expecting -- a rebate check shortly thereafter.

It eventually arrived. Sort of.

Gordon: We get this thing in the mail. It's addressed from the IRS. I had no idea what it was.

Stacey: So, we open up the package, and, well actually, I can show you what was inside of it. Do you want to come see it?

Rico: Yeah, sure.

Stacey: It's an air conditioner.

Gordon: A General Electric "Zoneline" air conditioner.

After they got over their shock, the Atkinsons called the IRS for an explanation. So did I.

Beverly Jaworsky: My name is Beverly Jaworsky. My title is Debt-To-Purchase Ratio Assessor.

Armed with a huge IRS database, Beverly and others like her have spent the last few months identifying taxpayers who'd be most likely to use their rebate checks to pay off debt.

Jaworsky: Someone who may be listing their house on the market as a short sale, for instance. Or students with student loans. Or screenwriters.

Then those taxpayers get special rebates.

Jaworsky: Instead of receiving that check that they were going to receive, we send it to them in the form of retail goods, in relative value to what their check would have been.

The piece goes on to quote Robert Reich to talk about how this is a bad idea, and how would the IRS know who needed what. He said people might want a toaster over an air conditioner. You really don't know what is on people's wish lists honestly.

So this person was outraged at the story and since she is a sociologist to add to it. She told multiple friends about the story and was apparently still aggravated about it today. I agreed with her sentiment, but then I remembered yesterday was April 1st and I looked for the transcript of the show. Guess what the last line of the story was?

RYSSDAL: Oh, c'mon, check your calendars, everybody.

April Fool's day had at least one person fooled.

Kudos to "Marketplace."

McCain Calls Americans Cynical, America Responds "Thanks, Thanks A Lot"

Conventional wisdom says that when there are two candidates left on the other side of the political spectrum and you've won your primary, you need to STFU and raise money for the battle ahead. Now McCain might be putting a few dollars together (albeit illegally) but he is bucking CW and opening his big mouth so that everyone can see the ridiculousness that spews out.

From RawStory:

"Many Americans are indifferent to or cynical about the virtues that our country claims," the former Vietnam prisoner of war will say.

In part, he says, it is because some have suffered economic dislocations while others profit as never before, and in part, it is a "reaction to government's mistakes and incompetence and to the selfishness of some public figures."

He comes close to calling some Americans spoiled, saying they are cynical because "the ease which wealth and opportunity have given their lives led them to the mistaken conclusion that America, and the liberties its system of government is intended to protect, just aren't important to the quality of their lives."

Skepticism is healthy, he will say, "But when healthy skepticism sours into corrosive cynicism our expectations of our government become reduced to the delivery of services. And to some people the expectations of liberty are reduced to the right to choose among competing brands of designer coffee."

First of all, leave my bird-friendly Honduran French Roast alone. It is my right as an American to drink whatever coffee bean I like. Secondly, what the f**k are you talking about??? Clearly you are completely out of touch with the majority of Americans. Sorry Mr. McCain, America does not look like the ass-kissing "journalists" that you like to hang out with.

Those economic dislocations you talk about aren't only about some public figures who are selfish, it is the culture of Washington and the way government works for corporations instead of the people. Government would make less mistakes if it held the Bush Administration accountable, something you never helped to make a reality while the Republican Congress sat on its ass and let George Bush run amok and obliterate the Constitution.

You think Americans are too cynical? Gee, I wonder why. A Republican Administration and (until last year) a Republican Congress let oil companies get away with hundreds of billions in profit while people suffer from paying at the pump, assistance to the poor has dropped dramatically while corporate welfare has gone through the roof. Meanwhile, the freedoms that are enshrined in the Constitution are torn asunder so that we can be "safe" from terrorists while the majority of the terrorizing is done under our watch in places like Iraq at the cost of thousands of our troops who paid the ultimate price and a financial sum that every American is forced to pay a part.

You think we shouldn't feel cynical about that?

Well I'll clue you into something John. Americans are cynical about your party and what its done to our country. If you look at who is coming out to vote for the first time in their lives this year and which party is seeing record turnout you would know that cynicism isn't the only feeling out there in this great big country of ours.

Not too far away in the dictionary from cynicism, there's a word that's spelled C-H-A-N-G-E and your name isn't in the definition.

The Unspoken Part Of Congestion Pricing

Robert Perry of the NYCLU points out a very important issue that the media fails to talk about in the midst of all the congestion pricing hoopla. Sure the money is important, but so is your right to privacy.

Keep Bill Away From The Super Delegates!

I thought that Hillary Clinton learned her lesson about keeping Bill on a short leash during the campaign after his seemingly endless amount of politically abhorrent comments early on in January and February. Perhaps she thought that her charming husband would be good in small groups and with the crucial super delegates she needs in order to pull off an upset to win the primary election. It looks like she thought wrong.

From The SF Gate:

According to those at the meeting, Clinton - who flew in from Chicago with bags under his eyes - was classic old Bill at first, charming and making small talk with the 15 or so delegates who gathered in a room behind the convention stage.

But as the group moved together for the perfunctory photo, Rachel Binah, a former Richardson delegate who now supports Hillary Clinton, told Bill how "sorry" she was to have heard former Clinton campaign manager James Carville call Richardson a "Judas" for backing Obama.

It was as if someone pulled the pin from a grenade.

"Five times to my face (Richardson) said that he would never do that," a red-faced, finger-pointing Clinton erupted.

The former president then went on a tirade that ran from the media's unfair treatment of Hillary to questions about the fairness of the votes in state caucuses that voted for Obama. It ended with him asking delegates to imagine what the reaction would be if Obama was trailing by just 1 percent and people were telling him to drop out.

And how did the superdelegates in attendance view this outburst?

"It was very, very intense," said one attendee. "Not at all like the Bill of earlier campaigns."

When he finally wound down, Bill was asked what message he wanted the delegates to take away from the meeting.

At that point, a much calmer Clinton outlined his message of party unity.

"It was kind of strange later when he took the stage and told everyone to 'chill out,' " one delegate told us.

"We couldn't help but think he was also talking to himself."

Ouch. What happened to the Bill Clinton who was cool, calm and collected back in the 90s? Where is Bill the philanthropist that helps millions of people around the world? What happened to the politically savvy ex-President?

Is the quest for more Clinton power that destructive on one man's soul?

Should We Trust The MTA?

Not that it matters at this point in time, but it seems that the congestion pricing debate is out of the public's hands and into the state legislature's. Sure we can still protest to our respective Assemblymembers and Senators, but the support and opposition is pretty solid by now and the Governor is working with Bloomberg to make sure what the city council passed this week goes through as planned. One of the big questions in the congestion pricing debate was whether the money would actually go to improving the system like Bloomberg said. Well N.Y.P.I.R.G. and Straphanger Campaign extraordinaire Gene Russianoff sounded off on the issue this morning.

He's telling us to trust the lockbox:

As a transit advocate for the last 25 years, I share these concerns. We all know stories about how money collected by state and city government hasn't gone where it should, such as Lotto proceeds intended for improving schools.

The Congestion Mitigation Commission (on which I served) proposed a "transit lockbox" to safeguard all congestion-pricing revenues. The legislation approved by the City Council and now under consideration in Albany contains this provision - and strengthens it, by ensuring that congestion-pricing funds can only go to improve, not just maintain, the transit system.

This mandates that congestion pricing won't simply replace state funds the MTA would've gotten anyway. And to prevent political funny business, the money generated by congestion pricing goes directly to the MTA, so that Albany can't take it away.

Well thats great that Albany can't take it away. Though the MTA has a history of saying one thing and doing another, like they did last week when the money from fare increase meant for improving service disappeared. Russianoff claims that we should trust this because he sat on the creation of this lockbox (how Gore-esque of him) and that when the MTA started receiving funds from toll surpluses, it went to good use. Also the capital plan has to be signed off on by the Governor, Mayor and both state houses. That sounds great Gene, that is a great wall of protection that we have installed to prevent abuse of the system. However, this is still New York and despite your best efforts, I still find that the money dedicated to improving our transit system can still be used for "maintenance" purposes.

Why is that? Well, for starters, having maintenance for the NY transit system would technically be an improvement.

Mighty WalMart Caves To The Shank Family

First off, I'd like to congratulate WalMart on doing the right thing. Secondly, the reason WalMart caved was that this decision to gain $417,000 to their profit margin brought so much negative backlash that they ultimately had to relent. Despite getting a few brownie points in my book for sparing the financial of future of this family that lost one son in Iraq and a has a mother that needs a lifetime of care, they only did it for PR purposes. If they wanted to be good citizens, they never would have filed such a heinous lawsuit.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

To Bush, Or Not To Bush, That Is McCain's Question

On The Democratic side of this primary season, both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton must walk a fine line between remaining above the mud and attacking each other while simultaneously preserving their dignity in the process. Although McCain is free and clear of his former opponents such as Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee, he still has a tightrope to walk, between the man in the White House today, and the White House he wants to occupy in January of 2009.

From Yahoo News:

"The point is, I'm not running on the Bush presidency, I'm running on my own service to the country, my own record in the House of Representatives and the United States Senate and my vision for the future," McCain told ABC television.

"Now we'll have lots of time to portray that, and I'm doing that now."

McCain, 71, has been a fierce supporter of the Iraq war, though challenged the Bush administration's past management of the conflict, and admits his fortunes could be tied to the way the war develops over the next nine months.

So what is the difference that McCain suggests there is between him and Bush?

"I think after 9/11 we made a mistake, we made a mistake in telling Americans to take a trip, to go shopping, I think we had an opportunity to call Americans to service," he said.

Well isn't that nice. I agree we should be stepping up as Americans to do more service, but there is more to our nation's future than that. McCain talked about his service in Vietnam and no one can deny him that. Yet we are here in 2008 and our country has priorities. McCain's just happen to be out of step for most Americans. He wants to continue this ridiculous war in Iraq (and bomb, bomb, bomb Iran too) and he doesn't even know what the hell is going on there.

John can pretend not to be George Bush because he wore a uniform and didn't shop after 9/11, but that doesn't mean he knows how to move America in the right direction for the next four years. If anything, his policies would keep us on the same bloody and costly path.

In Case You Don't Know The Truth About Clinton And NAFTA

JedReport puts the details together:

WalMart And The Shanks, There's Two Sides To Every Story

This morning we heard that WalMart responded to Keith Olbermann's reporting about the Shank family. They said it wasn't their fault and the health insurance company was entitled to the money...and that they only recovered $277,000 and that the law was on their side because the Supreme Court declined to hear the Shank family's lawyers appeal (shocking I know). Well now that WalMart got their statement in, I'd like you to read what its like inside the Shank family.

From Christopher Shank (via WalMart Watch):

First of all, let it be known that I’m Debbie Shank’s son, and not some random dude putting in his two cents. That being said, here’s the skinny…

When we sued the trucking company, our lawyer told us that the only amount we could get off of the trucking company was what the truck was insured for...namely, a million dollars. As they were a small trucking company, they had no real net worth, and the amount we could sue them for was just for their insurance.

When we received the settlement of 1 million, a third of that was paid out to the lawyers. After that, my dad was given a portion of that to make up for lost wages. We told Wal-Mart about all of this, and they basically said “Okay.” and did nothing. We set up the rest, 417K, to take care of mom. We took care of her for three years on that, but when the statute of limitations was set to expire on Wal-Mart suing us, they literally had days left, they filed to sue us. Our lawyer told us at the time that they were only doing this to keep their options open, but Wal-Mart decided that they wanted to go after the settlement, as they say time and time again, “out of fairness for everyone in the medical plan”.

And so it went. The first ruling came August 31, 2006. At the time it was the worst thing that had happened. Six days later, my brother was killed. Dad said “Fine. Whatever. They won.” We were without any will to keep going. Our lawyers said “We’ll appeal. You just don’t worry about things. We’ll take care of all of it.”

Appeal after appeal, Wal-Mart won them all. We finally appealed to the Supreme Court. Last week, they said they weren’t going to take our case. We lost. Now, Wal-Mart can’t take any more money than we had in the trust fund, so they get that. But, we still have 150K in outstanding medical bills. We have a fund set up that has accepted donations, but it quickly depletes due to bills. Even with government assistance, we still must pay anywhere from 500-1000 per month to keep mom in the nursing home, and that’s not counting bills she has from trips to the hospital (a couple weeks ago she was bleeding internally) . The outstanding bills we have, they can sue my father directly, so it’s looking like he may have to sell his home at least. My youngest brother, if he wants to have the money to go to college, will himself either have to take out thousands in loans or join the military.

Dad has worked all his life, was set to retire in 5 years, but now it’s looking as if he’ll have to work longer and longer. Plus he has cancer to worry about.

So, that’s the story. I have a feeling that somewhere along the lines, be it by Wal-Mart, the courts, the lawyers, the trucking company, or a combination of all, we’ve been taken advantage of. We could only sue for so much, we had to pay the lawyers, the courts decided to maintain the status quo, and Wal-Mart sold it’s soul.

Whoever’s fault it is, we’re screwed. Plain and simple.

If WalMart thinks that this family's ordeal is fair, then this takes my feelings for WalMart to a whole other level. With the billions that they make every year to the outstanding wealth of the Walton family, they should be paying for Debbie Shank's bills with no questions asked. Instead they are suing the family for everything they've got.

How f**king disgusting is that?

Clearly Hillary Clinton Never Saw Rocky I

Today Senator Clinton will compare herself to the fictional boxer Rocky Balboa. I don't know which multi-million dollar paid consultant came up with this, but Hillary Clinton is a fool to use this line. I know he is a beloved character, there's even a statue of Sylvester Stallone Rocky in the sports complex area (formerly at the Art museum). The character was definitely a fighter and had true PA spirit but there's just one problem.

From ABC News:

In a speech in Philadelphia today, Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-NY, will compare herself to Philly icon Rocky Balboa.

"Well, could you imagine if Rocky Balboa had gotten half way up those Art Museum steps and said, 'Well, I guess that’s about far enough?'" Clinton will ask, according to her prepared remarks released to the press.

"Let me tell you something, when it comes to finishing the fight, Rocky and I have a lot in common," she will tell the Pennsylvania A.F.L.-C.I.O. audience. "I never quit. I never give up. And neither do the American people."


Rocky lost.

It was a split decision, but the judges (superdelegates?) awarded the fight to Rocky's black opponent, Apollo Creed.

I know that the movie is more than thirty years old but if you are going to reference a movie and compare a character in it to yourself it is best that you know the plot line. Now to be fair to Rocky...and Senator Clinton, Rocky did go on to win in later films so maybe that's just the ticket for Hillary, come back and try again another year.

This Week In Iraq

The mainstream media won't be publicizing information like this too much so stay tuned to Democracy Now and similar media outlets:

Majority Of Doctors Now Support Nationalized Health Care

The debate for national health care isn't new in this country. Way back at the tail end of the New Deal era, President Truman tried to initiate a national health care plan like our brethren in Europe did at the time but the AMA helped to crush that in its infancy by "reaching out" to their doctors. Since then health care has become corporatized and we all know how that has been going. The insurance industry has also added considerable woes to the way medicine is practiced and not only patients have begun to realize it.

From RawStory:

Of more than 2,000 doctors surveyed, 59 percent said they support legislation to establish a national health insurance program, while 32 percent said they opposed it, researchers reported in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.

The 2002 survey found that 49 percent of physicians supported national health insurance and 40 percent opposed it.

"Many claim to speak for physicians and represent their views. We asked doctors directly and found that, contrary to conventional wisdom, most doctors support national health insurance," said Dr. Aaron Carroll of the Indiana University School of Medicine, who led the study.

"As doctors, we find that our patients suffer because of increasing deductibles, co-payments, and restrictions on patient care," said Dr. Ronald Ackermann, who worked on the study with Carroll. "More and more, physicians are turning to national health insurance as a solution to this problem."

It is the solution to this problem. Clearly the "free market" has done nothing but enrich a few corporate executives at the top of the health industry food chain and penalized the rest of us as a result. It is time to make a change and a nationalized health care system is that change.

WalMart Responds To Keith Olbermann, Fails Miserably

Sometimes I feel bad for the people that have to try and defend the actions of WalMart. It might even come close to being as bad as Dana Perino's job. Then again, like Dana Perino, they chose to apply for it, so screw them....and screw Daphne Moore for trying to defend the corporate behemoth for suing an employee who was hit by a truck and wanted to take her settlement money away. She had the chutzpah to respond to Keith Olbermann's excoriating remarks against the corrupt corporation.

Here's the WalMart excuse:

"This is a very sad case and we understand that people will naturally have an emotional and sympathetic reaction. While the Shank case involves a tragic situation, the reality is that the health plan is required to protect its assets so that it can pay the future claims of other associates and their family members. These plans are funded by associate premiums and company contributions. Any money recovered is returned to the health plan, not to the business. This is done out of fairness to everyone who contributes to and benefits from the plan. The Supreme Court recently declined to hear an appeal of the case, which concludes all litigation. While Wal-Mart's benefit plan was entitled to more than the amount that remained in the Shank trust, the plan only recovered the funds remaining in that trust," which according to reports amounted to about $277,000.

Aww, you only got $277,000 of the money awarded to her? This woman suffered brain damage and who knows how terrible her recovery was/still is and WalMart has the audacity to say they are benevolent because they didn't go after money that Shank didn't have? Seriously, they are evil, evil, evil. I do not believe for one second that WalMart can then shift the blame on to the health plan, especially since WalMart dictates terms with whomever they deal with. Their employee Debbie Shank paid for insurance through her premium and she should be entitled to be cared for, not to be financially raped by WalMart and their tool of a health insurance company.

Keith Olbermann is right, they truly are the worst person in the world.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Jim Hightower Talks About His New Book

"Swim Against the Current" is Hightower's latest book that talks about breaking corporate control over our country:

Chris Matthews Is Still A Moron

After all these years of being on television, we shouldn't expect the pundit-extraordinaire Chris Matthews to stop bloviating to the nth degree. His latest ridiculous comment concerned George Bush and baseball. You might have seen the 40,000+ fans booing him yesterday in Washington as the Nationals started their season and ol' Georgie threw out the first ceremonial pitch. That is to be expected. What came out of left field (pun intended) was Matthews' observation.

From The Huffington Post:

MSNBC's Chris Matthews told his viewers Monday that the hearty round of boos that greeted President George W. Bush when he threw out the inaugural pitch at Washington D.C.'s new baseball stadium weren't a big deal, because all politicians get booed at ball games, and Bush "showed a lot of guts" throwing out the pitch.

A lot of guts? No Chris, you have a lot of guts when you open that big, fat mouth of yours every night and manage to offend everyone outside of the Beltway.

Investigating Siegelman Censorship In Alabama

Ex-Governor Don Siegelman is on his way out of jail following the overwhelming amount of new evidence in the case. So now that Don is on the road to vindication and Karl Rove is on his way into being investigated for his role in the matter, some people are turning their eye back to Huntsville, Alabama and the local CBS affiliate that censored the 60 Minutes special covering the case. Some of those people work at the Federal Communications Commission.

From Southern Studies:

Remember the curious glitch that prevented a CBS affliliate in northern Alabama from airing the recent 60 Minutes' report -- and that report only -- on the politics behind the controversial prosecution of former Gov. Don Siegelman? Well, the Federal Communications Commission has launched an inquiry into the incident, Reuters reports:
The FCC issued a "notice of inquiry" to WHNT, a CBS affiliate in Huntsville, Alabama, in connection with an outage that cut off a segment of the February 24 broadcast of "60 Minutes," an FCC spokeswoman said.

WHNT, which has blamed the black-out on equipment failure, has 30 days to respond with an explanation of what happened in the incident.
The inquiry came at the request of Commissioner Michael Copps, one of two Democratic appointees on the five-member body. The agency's chairman, Kevin Martin, is a Republican.

WHNT is owned by an investment firm whose founder's family has close ties to the Bushes, and it's managed by Local TV, a company headed by a former Clear Channel Communications executive and major Bush contributor. After initially blaming the blackout on a CBS transmission problem, the station management has since maintained that the problem was caused at the receiving end by an equipment failure that cut off the feed. The station later re-aired the segment twice.

It is good of WHNT to re-air the broadcast, but it seems that they only did this under intense pressure from the outside world. That whole "transmission problem" is a crock of shit and the fact that the station has ties to the Bushes (and subsequently Karl Rove) leads many to be suspicious of why the affiliate went to the level of censorship.

Finally, A Hillary Clinton Ad I Can Get Behind!

Congestion Pricing's Fate Being Decided Now

It may not be the only hurdle for the controversial bill but the New York City Council is deciding if it will pass through their jurisdiction this afternoon. The proposal needs the blessing of the state as well but those prospects look good so far. The conventional wisdom here is that Quinn called the vote today because she came up with the votes. And how might she have gotten that sudden courage?

From The Gothamist:

Mayor Bloomberg appears to have the necessary votes to get congestion pricing passed in the City Council, because the Council scheduled a vote on the matter for this afternoon. The fact a vote has been suddenly scheduled is interpreted as a sign that fellow supporter Council Speaker Christine Quinn has enough votes for approval. The Mayor must have spent his weekend bending ears and twisting arms!

A critical amendment was made to the statewide version of the bill over the weekend that may have changed minds. According to the NY Sun, the congestion pricing plan will be linked to a $1 billion contribution from the Port Authority to the MTA's five-year capital spending budget. The funds from the Port Authority, a joint NY-NJ state agency, allayed some concerns New Jersey residents wouldn't be paying as much as New Yorkers traveling into Manhattan.

There's nothing quite like the sound of "one billion dollars" to help switch a few crucial votes your way. Getting the PANY/NJ to cough that up must have taken some serious arm twisting in of itself. We'll see what the final vote is shortly, but this thing should be in the bag as far as NYC goes.

Bush Gets Booed...Over And Over And Over Again

Today is the last day of March and this specific time of year means one thing, the start of the Major League Baseball season. Teams from across the country have done their warm-up games in Arizona and Florida and are now taking to their respective fields across America. Unfortunately for one crowd, President Bush prefers to throw out the ceremonial first pitch just a few miles from the White House.

From RawStory:

President Bush met with a mixed reception this evening as he threw the 2008 inaugural pitch at the new Nationals Park, built for the Washington Nationals baseball team.

With a quick introduction and a wave, Bush makes a high pitch to Nationals manager Manny Acta and proceeds to shake his hand. The boos reignite as Bush waves once more and exits.

Of course, don't take my word for it, watch the video yourself and you'll hear the chorus of boos for every second that our disgrace of a President is on that field. It seems that no matter where he goes, disapproval follows. Too bad for George the Secret Service couldn't put the crowd in a First Amendment zone.

There Is No Bravery, War Is Sadness

Such a beautiful song, and a terrible reminder about what war is really all about:

Tuzla Girl Shocked By Clinton's Comments

In the information age, news travels fast around the globe. Even Senator Clinton's "misspoken" words about her experience in Tuzla has made it to Tuzla. Now that little girl that read a poem to the then First Lady has heard about the situation and has had a chance to speak about what happened and how this whole thing made her felt.

From The NY Post:

SARAJEVO, Bosnia - The Bosnian girl who famously read a poem to Hillary Rodham Clinton during her 1996 visit to the war-torn country is shocked - and her countrymen infuriated - that the former first lady claimed to have dodged sniper fire that day.

Emina Bicakcic, now 20 and studying to become a doctor, told The Post she stood on the tarmac at the air base in Tuzla, greeted Clinton and even had time to share the lines of verse she'd written - all without fear of attack from an unseen enemy.

"I was surprised when I heard this," Bicakcic said, referring to Clinton's assertion that she braved snipers upon landing, ducking and sprinting to military vehicles.

Other Bosnians were also amused at her exaggerations of that day and said that it is ridiculous that she exploited their sufferings for her political aims. Although the soon-to-be doctor has declined to pick a candidate (I assume she is more preoccupied with her studies and Bosnian politics) in the race here and Obama has said she can stay in as long as she wants, it really is time to end this primary and get on to more important matters, like beating McCain.