Saturday, April 12, 2008

Pope Coming To America, Snubs Bush And Scolds Him On The War

It is a good thing for George Bush that he isn't a Catholic, or else the Pope might have excommunicated him for war crimes among many other things that is unbecoming a human being good Christian. Instead, his holiness is coming to America and specifically New York and Washington D.C. to speak at the U.N. against war and in that, George Bush's lust for war and the fear that drives it. On top of that, Pope Benedict will be snubbing the President for a dinner that is being held in his honor.

From RawStory:

Benedict's schedule does not indicate any events that would conflict with his ability to attend the 7:30 p.m. dinner that Wednesday. He is just scheduled to return to the Vatican embassy in Washington at the same time after a meeting with US bishops at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington.

It's unclear why the Pope won't be attending the dinner in his honor, but he is expected to touch on issues upon which he and President Bush disagree during the visit, especially the Iraq war.

During his visit to the United Nations a few days later, the Pope will address "the false notion that might makes right," according to a Vatican representative.

Some experts also predict the Pope would criticize the "culture of fear" in the United States. The Rev. David Hollenbach, director of Boston College's Center for Human Rights, said recently that this culture is seen as integral to the US involvement in Iraq.

"Fear can lead to angry responses," Hollenbach said, according to the Connecticut Post. "I think the pope's message is going to be 'Don't be afraid.' I think the overcoming of fear can take away the impulse for war."

The only thing to fear is fear itself. Unfortunately for the legacy of F.D.R. George Bush is the epitome of fear and those that use it for their selfish and blatantly evil purposes. It isn't unclear why the Pope won't go, it is because he is repulsed by our President...and for the leader of the Catholic Church, that says a lot.

China's Olympic PR Problem

Unfortunately its on Fox, but the Center for American Progress can usually sort things out no matter where they go on camera:

Rep. Harman, Burned Before By Bush Admin., Vows Not To Touch The Fire Again

In what should be of absolutely no shock to the American people by now, the Bush Administration (via Michael Chertoff) wants to spy on the American people but says it is entirely cool. The Department of Homeland Security Secretary said that there is no reason to worry about civil liberties and that no, you can't look at why that is because its classified. Thankfully the Democrats in Congress aren't as gullible as they once were and the critical Committeewoman Jane Harman has shown she's learned from past mistakes.

From The Washington Post:

Democrats say Chertoff has not spelled out what federal laws govern the NAO, whose funding and size are classified. Congress barred Homeland Security from funding the office until its investigators could review the office's operating procedures and safeguards. The department submitted answers on Thursday, but some lawmakers promptly said the response was inadequate.

"I have had a firsthand experience with the trust-me theory of law from this administration," said Harman, citing the 2005 disclosure of the National Security Agency's domestic spying program, which included warrantless eavesdropping on calls and e-mails between people in the United States and overseas. "I won't make the same mistake. . . . I want to see the legal underpinnings for the whole program."

Thompson called DHS's release Thursday of the office's procedures and a civil liberties impact assessment "a good start." But, he said, "We still don't know whether the NAO will pass constitutional muster since no legal framework has been provided."

DHS officials said the demands are unwarranted. "The legal framework that governs the National Applications Office . . . is reflected in the Constitution, the U.S. Code and all other U.S. laws," said DHS spokeswoman Laura Keehner. She said its operations will be subject to "robust," structured legal scrutiny by multiple agencies.

With all due respect, Laura Keehner is an idiot. The constitution reflects Harman's concerns that this new agency is looked at and scrutinized by the Congress, not other agencies. It is the duty of the Congress to investigate the actions of the Executive, any Constitutional scholar (or high school civics student) can tell you that. Congratulations to Congresswoman Harman for finally realizing that trusting the Bush Administration to do anything is an episode of insanity.

Its The Insurance Industry Stupid

First of all, Massachusetts should be commended that they actually tried to do something about their health care problem, one that affects every single state in this country. Unfortunately the problems of their individual mandatory insurance program for every citizen of the Bay State are starting to show and is evidence that it isn't just government involvement with the insurance companies that we need to address. The real issue is that we are dealing with and allowing the continuance of the insurance companies themselves. The problem is that they put profit ahead of patients' health and when the government starts to pay them instead of just the individual, it is obvious that costs will soar.

From RawStory:

Costs are soaring and Massachusetts lawmakers are weighing a dollar-a-pack hike in the state's cigarette tax to help pay for a larger-than-expected enrollment in the law's subsidized insurance plans.

But that hasn't dampened enthusiasm at the Statehouse. Leaders there boast that in the two years since former Gov. Mitt Romney signed the law with a choreographed flourish at historic Faneuil Hall, the number of insured residents has soared by nearly 350,000.

Along the way the law has been scrutinized by other states, sparked the ire of critics on the right and left, and drawn the attention of presidential candidates.

"It's the very first question I get when I'm with other governors," said Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick. "I don't think anybody is prepared to say that what we have done here in Massachusetts is necessarily the formula for the rest of the country or for a national reform, but at least we are trying."

Yes Deval, it does show you are trying, but running on a treadmill isn't going to get you going anywhere except for working up a sweat. Hillary Clinton is proposing pretty much the same thing for the country and although we could pay for the massive program with the money that we throw away in Iraq, the underlying problem remains. Not only will people be giving their money to an insurance system that is wholly inadequate, we'll have the Federal government paying for it as well.

What we need is true reform. It is a shame that no one will step up and carry that flag on the political battlefield. Massachusetts did its duty as a state to try out a new way of dealing with health insurance, but trying something doesn't mean it'll end up succeeding.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Welcome To Congress Jackie Speier

Ms. Speier won her special election race to take over for the late Congressman Tom Lantos. In typical fashion, Republicans in the House treated her to a less than cordial reception by booing her, upsetting her young daughter in the process.

Speier however, was having none of it and had the best answer to their petulance.

Media Fails To Show McCain's Half-Hearted Attempt At Helping Homeowners

When John McCain came to Brooklyn this week he made it seem like he had a change of heart for homeowners who are facing foreclosure because of the subprime mortgage meltdown occurring in America. Last month he said it wasn't the government's job to do anything for the people who acted irresponsibly (something to do with the campaign perhaps?). Now he's changed his tune thanks to pressure from both sides of the aisle (including popular Florida Governor Crist, who's also a supporter of McBush). Yet reality is a little far off from how the media tries to portray him.

From TPM Cafe:

[I]t's typical Republican bamboozlement. McCain says that perhaps a few hundred thousand homeowners deserve ever so slightly more help than they're already receiving, but that millions of others should lose their homes. And it's worth pointing out that most analysts agree that the number of folks who would be helped by this plan is probably much smaller than Holtz-Eakin estimates. There's really not much difference between his initial position and his bold new plan - they both amount to inaction.

So I'd suggest that right after they note that "John McCain says he'd be happy to see our troops in Iraq for another hundred years," the Democrats would do well to add, "John McCain says that millions of Americans deserve to lose their homes." All it's going to take to beat this guy is telling the public where he stands.

It is all smoke and mirrors when it comes to the supposed straight talker. Maybe he's such a maverick because he can fool so many in the media into playing along for him while spitting on the truth in the process. Therefore it is up to the rest of us to get the facts out while many in the media sit on their asses and eat McCain's BBQ.

It Must Be Nice To Be Rex Tillerson

Who you ask, is Rex Tillerson? Only the CEO of the infamous Exxon Mobil. He heads the monolithic oil company that fuels an oil-addicted world its daily ration of poison. He oversees the contamination of the ground, the water and the air. It is a tough job and most likely many would not have the skill (or lack of conscience) to run such an organization. To those that sympathize with this poor, poor man...don't worry too much, he's being compensated quite well.

From The Wall Street Journal:

For the Exxon Mobil Corp. board of directors, the answer was a $16.7 million compensation package for Chairman and CEO Rex Tillerson, up 28.6% from a year earlier.[...]

To judge the performance of the 56-year-old Mr. Tillerson, the Exxon board looked beyond commodity prices to measures such as total shareholder return and return on capital employed. The Irving, Texas, oil giant is the largest U.S. company by its market capitalization -- about $479 billion, according to Thursday's share price.

Mr. Tillerson earned $1.75 million in base salary last year; he'll get a raise to $1.87 million in 2008. He received a bonus of $3.36 million last year, up 20% from a year earlier. The rest of his compensation package included an increase in value of his vested stock grants and pension, as well as smaller items such as personal use of the corporate aircraft ($41,122) and security ($229,331).

On the downside for Rex and other execs at Exxon Mobil, they are no longer going to be reimbursed for country club memberships (how stingy!) and that 25 to 100 thousand dollars will just have to come out of their own pockets. Yeah, its rough, but hey, with nearly $17 million coming into the bank account every year, I think Rex can manage.

As for the rest of us, the price of asthma inhalers will continue to rise, since demand is going to keep going up as the world becomes more polluted thanks to the greed of the oil companies and their disdain for the environment.

Clinton Stumped By Colombian Trade Deal Question

The conflict of interest is readily apparent here between her claims of being against the Colombian trade deal yet her husband has made money speaking in favor of it. Yet when a reporter asks her about it, her only answer is to laugh nervously in front of the press.

I don't care how many angels dance on the head of a pin (um, wtf does that mean?), I want to know why or why not you think that conflicts with your position. Why was that so hard Senator?

Obama Loves Arabs More Than Jews! Oh My!

That's right, Obama is an anti-semitic bastard, or so the national tabloids might tell you in the near future. For now, we will have to rely on subtle innuendo from the likes of the Los Angeles Times to make it clear that if you don't hate Arabs, you must be against Israel. This type of right wing garbage made its way around the Hillary camp and has been disseminated to her loyal followers. Unfortunately for the rest of us, truth and honesty have been victimized by this absurd wedge issue.

From TPM Cafe:

Mark Penn may be gone but his spirit lives on.

A major piece in today's Los Angeles Times reveals that Obama may face political problems because Arab-Americans "consider him receptive despite his clear support of Israel."

This is all part of the continuing effort (especially in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh these days) to paint Obama as something less than a friend of Israel.

This is nothing new.

But this article hits new lows. It produces no evidence whatsoever other than that Obama has had Arab friends, attended Arab dinners, and is believed by Arabs to feel "empathy" toward Palestinians. In other words, Obama is not to be trusted by Jews because some Arabs like him.

Calling all Jews, Obama hates Israel! He loves Arabs even though he isn't (or is he??) a Muslim. How people believe this crap is beyond me. This talking point of him not being a friend to Israel is old news, but continues to live on in the media and with Hillary's supporters. I still hear this garbage about Obama not being a friend to Israel, but when I ask for proof, all I get is emotional appeal, not actual facts.

See this is the weird thing with Jews being in Israel and the Diaspora. In Israel, every single Israeli argues about what do about peace (and every other issue). People are all over the political spectrum when it comes to dealing with Palestinians. A few fanatics want to kill them all (as is the opinion on the Palestinian side), a few more want to build them out of the West Bank, many more want to reasonably work out a solution and so on and so forth.

However, coming back here to America there are only two options. According to AIPAC (on Google they are called "America's Pro-Israel Lobby") and other well connected Jewish organizatios, either you are "for" Israel or you hate Israel. "For" Israel means agreeing with complete Israeli domination, no reasonable peace deals and continued occupation of the West Bank and Gaza as to create even worse conditions for future Palestinians to hate Israel even more than the previous generation. So if there is even a hint that you may like Palestinian people, you are persona non-grata to them.

Now for a breath of fresh air and a heavy dose of common sense:

If Arab-Americans and Palestinians trust Obama and think he plays fair, he will have considerably more leverage with them than either of the other two candidates who are not perceived that way. As Congressmen Bob Wexler and Steve Rothman, both Obama supporters, like to say, an American President who can speak to and be heard by Arabs can do a much better job in helping Israel and the Palestinians achieve peace and security than a President who is considered utterly unsympathetic to their concerns.

The LA Times is wrong. It is precisely because Obama is considered fair by Arabs that he can actually help Israel. It's that simple.

PS Those who keep using Jews and Israel as a wedge are doing us no favors. A tiny vulnerable minority, the last thing we need is to be used as a battering ram against any candidate, The tactic is as dangerous as it is ugly and cynical.

Exactly! People have used enough battering rams against us (yes, I'm Jewish in case you didn't know...AIPAC must think I'm a scorned anti-semite) throughout the ages. It is ridiculous that in this primary season, pro-Clinton Jews want to pull this flimsy card on the rest of us.

Bloomberg Has Done More (Damage) Than He's Given Credit For

Today's edition of AM New York has a mostly glowing piece on how Michael Bloomberg has transformed our city for the better despite high publicity losses such as the West Side Stadium and the congestion pricing initiative that just fell last week. The real win for Bloomberg according to AMNY was the series of rezoning laws that has spurred a tremendous amount of growth all over the city (except for the Bronx of course).

The article's major focus is that thanks to the Mayor, new neighborhoods have sprung up almost overnight, businesses are staying in Manhattan after threatening to leave the city post 9/11 and areas thought to be no-man lands are the hippest new thing.

Of course, that is all true. Yet there is only one paragraph in the middle and three at the end that show the other side of things. New York has been changing alright, but at what cost to New Yorkers? Prices have gone sky high due to all the luxury building. Many long time residents are being priced out of the city, giving their newly more expensive space in order to gentrify the city and purge it of the character it is world-famous for. The Big Apple, Gotham and the hundreds of other names were not pulled off of a Starbucks menu. Of course Bloomberg doesn't care as long as big business is making big money here in Manhattan.

I know, New York is always changing. Yet what it is changing into now is only palatable for the very rich....and not for the rest of us.

Say What Hillary?

Saying whatever it takes to get in the White House, character, truth and dignity be damned.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

24 Hour Curfew = Progress In Baghdad

As Republicans in Congress and the White House have been telling us for sometime now, progress is being made in Baghdad. At first it meant we were to be greeted as liberators. Then it was about how many things we rebuilt (that we blew up when we went in initially). Then it was the violence about to go down. Then it was purple fingers and voting. Sometime later the surge came and now the morons who led us into the war say we need to stay there and leave our troops to die save Iraq from itself. Well things are looking pretty bad, so I thought I'd help them out and use the new curfew as a possible advantage.

From The UK Independent:

The fifth anniversary of the fall of Baghdad and the toppling of the statute of Saddam Hussein – a symbol of US victory and might – was marked yesterday by death and destruction across the country and an admission from the White House that projected troop withdrawals would have to be delayed.

The Iraqi capital remains under curfew after another round of bloodshed in which mortar rounds landed in Sadr City, killing seven people, including two children, and injuring 24 others. Further gunfights in the sprawling Shia slum led to six more dying and 15 others being wounded.

The area is a centre of support for the radical Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, and came after days of clashes between his militia, the Mehdi Army, and Iraqi government forces in which 55 people have been killed and more than 200 injured. The Shia fighters vowed last nightthat retribution would be taken for the "unprovoked attack" in Sadr City which they claimed was the responsibility of the US forces.

See, its progress. Only dozens killed and hundreds injured. In the fantasy land Bush lives in, that's good news. They'll take whatever they can get and hey, whatever it takes to keep the war machine going, right Mr. President?

Bush Signed Off On Torture

Forget John Yoo (who?), forget the absent-minded media and pay attention to ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern. McGovern has the goods on Bush and finally nails him to the floor about torture. We all know, either in the back of our conservative heads or in the front of our liberal ones, that George Bush wants to torture people. It is sick, but hey, people can be sick and when they have power like our buffoon of a President bad things can happen. Really bad things. Well he said we didn't torture, but like in many other areas, he lied about that as well and now we have the proof.

From Consortium News:

Is it because John Yoo, the former Justice Department's hired hand, is such an easy target? Is it because of the cheeky, in-your-face way in which Yoo argues that the president has the authority to have your eyes poked out and your sons' testicles crushed, because we are "at war" and he is commander in chief.

Or is it because our press is STILL reluctant to go after Yoo's guys – first and foremost his ultimate client – President George W. Bush? Oh, but that would be hard, you say.


Available on the Web, in its original format, is a 7 Feb. 2002 action memorandum that the president signed to implement the dubious advice he was getting from Yoo and those at Justice who hired Yoo – and from the vice president's office which guided Yoo.

Yoo did their dirty work (and now he takes the rap).

So it wasn't a little Bushophile that was ultimately responsible for this madness, the directions to torture came straight from the top. From that bastard Dick Cheney and his sidekick George. Let me say it again. They. Signed. Off. On. Torture. That means waterboarding, electrocution, sleep deprivation, whips, torches, you name it. If the Geneva Convention (which we signed) said no, Bush said yes.

Just in case you don't want to click on that big, bad PDF file....

In his Feb. 7, 2002, memorandum, Bush wrote: "I determine that common Article 3 of Geneva does not apply to either al Qaeda or Taliban detainees." (Common Article 3 bans "torture [and] outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment.")

Then, drawing on the lawyerly legerdemain, Bush did something really dumb. Using words drafted by Vice President Dick Cheney's lawyer, David Addington, for a memo dated Jan. 25, 2002, signed by then-White House counsel Alberto Gonzales, the president ordered that detainees be treated, "humanely ... to the extent appropriate and consistent with military necessity."

Tacked onto the end of that sentence is a classic circumlocution: "in a manner consistent with the principles of Geneva." But that is not what Geneva says, and there is no way to square that circle.

Squaring circles is what Bush tries to do in all aspects of his Presidency. This peg warrants impeachment and imprisonment. He is a war criminal, there really isn't much more to that. Conservatives can come up with all the BS arguments about the GWOT all they want, this is a war crime and Bush's signature is more than plenty of evidence.

One Hundred Years In Iraq, Six Months At A Time

A new powerful ad from MoveOn helps show exactly how McCain can get his desired 100 years in Iraq:

Now That Congestion Pricing Is Dead, What Happens Next?

The big news last week from Albany was that key legislators (ahem, Sheldon Silver) decided that the Assembly would not even bother voting on the congestion pricing. That effectively killed it without anyone having to be accountable to their constituents for voting either way for the controversial bill. It would have been a start to (even if somewhat flawed) fixing our region's gridlock that so desperately needs help. Well Federal Transportation Administration head James Simpson came up to NYC to talk about the problem and where to go from here.

From The NY Daily News:

Speaking in Manhattan this morning, Federal Transit Administration chief James Simpson took the Assembly to task for its decision last week not to act on Mayor Bloomberg's congestion pricing plan -- calling it "very disappointing as well as short-sighted."

Apparently some lawmakers view congestion pricing as an “elitist” approach to addressing a problem that has reached crisis proportions, and is only expected to get worse as time passes.

Well, there is nothing “elitist” about miles of gridlock at rush hour. It affects virtually everyone – commuters, truck drivers, taxi drivers, buses, and even straphangers crammed onto the subway. It affects the air we breathe. It affects this region’s ability to provide the mobility that’s so vital to keeping New York a workable, livable community. And it affects our productivity and our quality of life.

Simpson, addressing the New York Building Congress and Construction Industry breakfast, said the feds remain committed to helping fund major N.Y.C. projects, such as improving East Side access and building the Second Ave. subway, but raised concerns about the financing:

First, only a limited number of firms have the capacity required to bid and construct these projects. That raises concerns for us about limited competition, which has implications for how jobs are priced.

Second, we’re concerned about how difficult it is to create accurate cost and performance estimates for these complicated, multi-year transit projects, given the continued escalation of commodity prices. The risk of under-estimating costs -- and incurring additional debt obligations -- is very real.

Basically what he is saying is that New York should have passed congestion pricing to back up the spending from the transportation fuel tax fund. There are still a ton of projects that need to be completed and the cost of these are only going to go up because construction prices continue to skyrocket thanks to the unabated commodities market in addition to the huge building boom that continues throughout the country. He then chides dissenters by talking about the congestion pricing successes in Europe and imagines what the revenue streams would be to build mass transit if we had congestion pricing in our top 100 cities.

So pretty much, he says were screwed unless we change our ways. Um, Mr. Simpson.....duh.

Willets Point: One More Victim Of Developers' Grasp On City Politics

Eminent domain came about originally so that a city, state or the federal government could do something for the public good and compensate the property owners of the land they took over. Unfortunately in New York circa 2008 things work a little differently, especially with the influence of developers and the glut of real estate money that oozes its way into city politics. Atlantic Yards is the poster child of how Bloomberg and the city let areas of the city decay in order to take it over and build glitzy new towers to enrich companies like Tishman Speyer and others.

Of course Atlantic Yards has gotten the most press (mostly by the independents of course) but there is plenty more out there where locals get screwed by the system. One such place is Willets Point, next door to the brand new Citi Field set to open next year. That area that has been neglected by the city has big plans in store for it if developers get their way. Now area businesses are fighting back.

From The Gothamist:

On the heels of a letter-writing campaign and a protest at Shea Stadium’s opening day, the Willets Point Industry and Realty Association [WPIRA] has filed a lawsuit demanding the city fix the broken sidewalks, sewers, roads and other resume basic services like snow removal. Owners accuse the city of letting the area fall into disrepair in order to depress property values, call it ‘urban blight,’ and seize land through eminent domain.

At a City Hall rally yesterday, Anthony Fodera, president of Fodera Foods Inc., told the Times that he’s “been there for 35 years; I have yet to see them fill a pothole.” Also at the rally was local Councilman Hiram Monserrate, who pointed to photos like the one here and said, “Some of the photos you see behind me — you see floods, you wonder if this is New York City in 2008 or Baghdad after a few mortar rounds.” Opponents also say the proposal lacks sufficient affordable housing.

A spokesman for the city said
that accusations of negligence were not “accurate,” and maintained that the city was unable to build a sewage system because the current businesses were in the way. The WPIRA contends that over 3,000 highly skilled workers in ironworking, construction, solid waste management, sewer parts, auto repair and service, and other manufacturing – including the largest distributor of Indian foods – will be out of work if the city goes through with the plan.

The city can claim whatever they want about Willets Point and what they do or do not invest in Willets Point but unfortunately the facts aren't on their side.

Why is it that the city always sides with developers over long time residents of areas that just need a little TLC and not a full-scale demolishing plan? Well, quite simply its the money and those that give it in large doses get what they ask for. Bloomberg may have not needed any outside money to get into office but that doesn't mean he is more friendly with wealthy developers than the small business owners in Willets Point (just think about who gets invited to Bloomberg's parties).

This is why we need to elect officials to serve in City Hall for constituents in their districts and not developers that want to line their pockets before election day. Make sure before you vote next year to see which candidates take money from wealthy special interests and those that rely on community support.

Jennifer Connelly Shows How We Take Clean Water For Granted

If you complain about the prescription drugs that are found in minuscule amounts in your tap water, its time for a gratitude check. Connelly made this PSA to show how more than a billion people have to deal with water issues. Fantastic piece of acting.....terrible reality for too many people on this Earth.

Learn how to help out here.

Katie Leaving CBS, Off To Do A Job More Suited For Her

Practically since the beginning of Katie Couric's appearance on the CBS Evening News, critics (like myself) have been pointing out her less than par coverage of the news and the subsequent abysmal ratings that she brought to the network compared to ABC and NBC. Powerful execs like Les Moonves have helped keep her in place despite the embarrassment, though now it might just be too much, even for Les.

From The Wall Street Journal:

After two years of record-low ratings, both CBS News executives and people close to Katie Couric say that the "CBS Evening News" anchor is likely to leave the network well before her contract expires in 2011 -- possibly soon after the presidential inauguration early next year.

Ms. Couric isn't even halfway through her five-year contract with CBS, which began in June 2006 and pays an annual salary of around $15 million. But CBS executives are under pressure to cut costs and improve ratings for the broadcast, which trails rival newscasts on ABC and NBC by wide margins.

Her departure would cap a difficult episode for CBS, which brought Ms. Couric to the network with considerable fanfare in a bid to catapult "Evening News" back into first place. Excluding several weeks of her tenure, Ms. Couric never bested the ratings of interim anchor Bob Schieffer, who was named to host the broadcast temporarily after "Evening News" anchor Dan Rather left the newscast in the wake of a discredited report on George W. Bush's National Guard service.

Yes, it has been a rough couple of years for CBS, but really they brought it on themselves. Though they are long standing national network and in time they can recover. So what will the esteemed Katie Couric do with herself? Perhaps she can fit into something more her size, like taking over for Internet extraordinaire the extreme pompous ass Larry King at CNN.

One possible new job for Ms. Couric: succeeding Larry King at CNN. Mr. King, who is 74 years old, has a contract with the network into 2009. CNN President Jon Klein, a CBS veteran with close ties to some at the network, has expressed admiration for Ms. Couric's work, and the two are friends. They had lunch in late January, and the anchor attended Mr. Klein's birthday party in March. Time Warner Inc.'s CNN said, "Larry King is a great talent who consistently delivers the highest profile guests, and we have no plans to make a change." Through a publicist, Mr. King declined to comment.

Mr. King's talk-show slot at CNN might be a better fit than evening-newscast anchor for Ms. Couric, who is 51. She made her reputation as a skilled interviewer when she was an anchor at the "Today" show on General Electric Co.'s NBC network.

See, sometimes it isn't what you know....but who you know (and to be fair to Katie, that you can talk to them on air).

Diamondstone Out In Senate District 25?

The race against Senator Marty Connor in Lower Manhattan/Brooklyn is about to change shape again, as Ken Diamondstone (who lost to Connor in the primary two years ago) is about to drop out, leaving the primary challenging ground solely to up and coming Dan Squadron. Ken did look to be in good spirits at DfNYC's Meet and Greet for Council candidates Josh Skaller and Steve Behar. Though he wasn't making any speeches, he was still announced as a candidate. Now according to press reports, that will be a thing of the past as the community organization wagons begin to close around Squadron.

From Gay City:

One nagging concern for Squadron and Working Families, however, has been the possibility that WFP's 2006 candidate, Ken Diamondstone, an out gay housing developer from Brooklyn, might once again enter the contest. Defeating an incumbent is difficult enough without having to split the opposition vote in two, Connor's opponents reason. In 2006, Connor beat back Diamondstone's challenge by more than ten percent.

According to Dan Cantor, who heads up WFP, Diamondstone, who did not respond to Gay City News' request for comment, was prepared as of April 9 to formally announce he would not make the race. Though his reasons are not known, Schumer's decision to back Squadron may not have been the only factor.

As he considered a run, Diamondstone sought indications of support from the Lambda Independent Democrats, a Brooklyn gay political club on whose board he sits. His efforts were opposed, however, by Daniel Tietz, a former LID president. Late last week, in an email that ran to nearly 1,900 words, Tietz laid out his rationale for why the club should support Squadron and not Diamondstone. Noting that Squadron is a serious candidate who is mounting a strong challenge - having already raised in excess of $200,000 from more than 350 donors - Tietz alluded to the fact that Diamondstone has run unsuccessfully in three past races. He also presented data from other primary contests demonstrating that even incumbents who lose typically don't fall below 40 percent of the total vote.

So if the Working Families Party endorsement and Chuck Schumer's non-endorsement endorsement weren't enough, this adds even more pressure for Diamondstone to step aside. Ken is still a great asset to the community and does a lot for New York City, but ultimately we want to take back the Senate....not only from Republicans but all long-term cronies like Marty Connor.

UPDATE (4/10 4:35PM): That non-endorsement endorsement is now officially an endorsement.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Obama's Everywhere....Man

Here's the latest catchy tune out there for in favor of Barack Obama:

We'll see if he can win all those cities, though I will settle for a strong showing from Obama either way.

The Difference Between The Rich And Everyone Else In NYC

If the economy has gotten better for anyone, it has been the wealthiest among us. You may feel it when The statistics back up the feeling that many people have as they see gas rising to $4 dollars and the wealthy show off their toys on America's magazines and whatnot. Tax reports show that the top 1 percent of earners in the city now make more than a third of all income.

From The NY Times Cityroom:

An analysis provided by the Fiscal Policy Institute [pdf] on New York showed that the average income of the top fifth of New York families is 8.7 times as great as that of the bottom fifth. That means for every dollar earned by the top fifth, only 11.5 cents is earned by the bottom fifth. This is the biggest gap in all the states, and like those in the rest of the country, it has been growing for the last 20 years. (Though the disparity is growing fastest in Connecticut, as an article noted today.)

Of course, the income disparity is even more pronounced in Manhattan, which as Sam Roberts has previously noted, was comparable as of 2000 to that of Namibia, in that the poorest fifth of families made only 2 cents for every dollar made by the richest fifth of families.

The top 1 percent of New York City tax filers, 32,000 tax returns representing 82,000 New York City residents, received 37 percent of the city’s adjusted gross income — which includes wages, business income and capital gains, among other earnings. They earned 20 percent of wages, 59 percent of dividends and interest, 70 percent of business income and 86 percent of capital gains.

Yeah, whenever someone tells you that people own a corporation, it really is only a wealthy few that truly hold power in the board room. It is a fact that wealth is being concentrated into the hands of a few and directed there by policies crafted by those few.

Being compared to Namibia should not be taken as a compliment by anyone. The income gap is a real problem for New York and the entire country. While a few enjoy the riches, the fact is that while most people's boats continue to sink, eventually the rich will suffer. Call it economics, call it karma, call it whatever you want. What we can't avoid is that if we do not change this corporate, feed the rich culture, we are all in trouble.

Oh and if New Yorkers want any kind of bright side to this, at least we aren't as bad as Connecticut.

Pelosi Stands Up For Fair Trade And Against Republicans

Today in Washington Congressional Republicans and the White House are whining that Speaker Nancy Pelosi played unfair by blocking a vote on a trade deal between the United States and Colombia. As usual when it comes to Republican tears and the truth, neither were anywhere near each other. What Pelosi did today was stop an unfair trade deal from going through that would have helped the pockets of the Colombian government and American corporations while screwing the workers of both countries.

From the AP:

"The president took action" in submitting the Colombia free trade agreement to Congress on Tuesday, she said. "I will take mine tomorrow." Pelosi said that Bush called her Monday to tell her he was sending the agreement to Congress.

The White House has aggressively pushed Congress to approve the trade deal with Colombia, arguing that helping a key ally in South America is in the political and security interests of the United States.

But most Democrats, backed by organized labor and some human rights groups, are against it. They have cited violence against union organizers in Colombia and have also made clear they won't consider further free trade agreements until legislation is passed to expand current programs to help American workers displaced by foreign trade.

Pelosi, at a news conference, said that if legislation approving the trade deal were taken up now, it would be defeated, "and what message would that send" to the Colombian people?

She denied that the rule change doomed action on the agreement this year, saying that "depends on the good faith in which we conduct these negotiations." The administration has been talking to Democrats about ways to help American workers. The House last year passed legislation to expand the Trade Adjustment Assistance program that provides financial aid and training to people who lose jobs as a result of trade, but the White House threatened a presidential veto and the Senate never took it up.

Trading with our friends around the globe is certainly important, but how we trade should come first. Before George Bush became President our country was looked up at as a symbol of freedom and equality. We should demand that of our international trading practices as well as what goes on internally here at home. As Representatives Hale and Michaud said yesterday, they would be dead in Colombia for doing what they do with labor here in America. That needs to change before we agree to anything.

McCain Speaker Makes Reference Betweeen Tiger Woods and Obama

What the hell is up with this introduction?

Comparing Tiger Woods to Barack Obama? What are you trying to say Mr. Bellavia. More importantly, what do you say about someone who introduces you to a crowd that makes thinly veiled racist remarks such as that? Karl Rove may have said to avoid the race card to his fellow Republicans, but this certainly will not be the last time we have to hear trash like that.

Newell In The News

More appropriately Paul Newell was in the New York Sun today, being profiled as one of the candidates that is seeking to oust one of the three men in a room up in Albany, the infamous Sheldon Silver. Silver has been Assemblyman of District 64 for decades now and does so by bringing in the pork to some of parts of his district (like Wall Street) but he is a thorn in the side of the reform efforts that our state government so desperately needs. Paul Newell is one of two men looking to change the process and he was given the once over by the New York Sun.

From The NY Sun:

Blaming Speaker Sheldon Silver for thwarting an overhaul of the Rockefeller drug sentencing laws — "possibly the most destructive piece of legislation on the books," Mr. Newell said — he had looked forward to voting against the speaker.

His polling station, however, was closed because Mr. Silver, as usual, had no opponents. "I was thinking that somebody ought to challenge this guy," Mr. Newell said. Two election cycles later, Mr. Newell has quit his job as an AIDS awareness organizer for a South African NGO and is campaigning full-time against Mr. Silver, who represents a diverse district that encompasses the Lower East Side, Chinatown, and Wall Street.

"I need to get a few thousand people to vote for me," he said. "Sheldon Silver is a very powerful man in Albany. He's not that powerful downtown."

Mr. Newell is running on two issues: accountability and "affordable" housing, both of which, he said, Mr. Silver is against.

He accuses the speaker of "blocking development of 'affordable' housing in downtown for 20 years" and also blames him for "killing" congestion pricing, an issue, he said, that is "the perfect demonstration of Sheldon Silver's contempt for the democratic process and the concerns for Lower Manhattanites."

The article goes on to more mundane points such as where Paul went to high school, what he has done with his life since and his political experience campaigning for the once powerful Speaker of the House Tom Foley. However he is no Washington insider and certainly no Albany insider. Along with Luke Henry, either are much more able to change the status quo in our state capitol, because Shelly Silver is the epitome of the status quo.

Assemblywoman Gordon Bites The Dust

While members of the Assembly are within their right to fight for items for their districts in the budget, taking bribes for yourself is a serious no-no. The audacity of ex-Assemblywoman Gordon (D-East New York) is quite astonishing in how she tried to enrich herself while throwing out the trust of her constituents. Thankfully however for the people, she is now out of a job.

From The Gothamist:

A four-time State Assembly member representing East New York in Brooklyn was convicted of third-degree bribe-receiving and official misconduct yesterday. When a developer was interested in acquiring city land back in 2004 and 2005, Assemblywoman Diane Gordon asked for a home in a Queens gated community, worth $500,000.

When the Brooklyn DA's office discovered evidence of bribe taking, they offered her a deal that would have let her off if she quit. But she ran for reelection, prompting the DA's office to indict Gordon and release a surveillance video of her appearing to take a bribe. The developer, Ranjan Batheja, agreed to cooperate with investigators when he tried to bribe an undercover investigator, and on the video, Gordon said, "We got to do something with this land .. so I can get me a home now." Brooklyn DA Charles Hynes said, "It is especially appalling [that Gordon] did not want her house built in her own assembly district."

Gordon was acquitted of the most serious charge--second-degree bribe-taking--and could face up to ten years in jail, but her lawyer said, "We're going to do our best to see that the sentence is one of probation or less." Assembly Leader Sheldon Silver told the NY Times, "This is an unfortunate situation, and my heart goes out to Ms. Gordon’s family. However, this has been proved to be a breach of the public trust.” She is officially out of the Assembly and her seat in the 40th district will remain vacant until fall--which is when City Councilman Charles Barron's wife may run for it.

You would think that once you were caught red-handed and offered a sweetheart deal that a sane person would take. Apparently Gordon did not fit that bill and her hubris took over all mental faculties. She is extremely lucky that she will not do any time for this blatant breach of public trust, even though she should be. Sheldon Silver's comments were mostly appropriate, but of course he conveniently leaves out the fact that the culture of corruption in Albany is what helps foster this criminality.

Bloggers Against Sweatshops

You may have seen that piece in the news about how hard bloggers are worked in this incessant nonstop age of news and information. While the Times forgot that bloggers might just be human, Barely Political took it a step farther to mock the traditional media's attempt at profiling the blogger community:

Paterson's Budget Looks To Be More Of The Same

To be fair to the Governor, he has only been in office a few weeks, yet the budget that looks like it will pass today is nothing but more of the same out of Albany. In a way I don't blame the legislators, since they are going to fight for more spending in their own districts and Republicans will continue to not want to raise taxes to pay for their programs (of course they do deserve their share, I'm not leaving them out of the equation thats for sure). For example, that additional tax on millionaires would have produced $1.5 billion and because of Joe Bruno's Senate, that didn't happen. There are many problems and naturally to be expected when a state budget is made but the responsibility for something sound rests on the Governor. A new Governor should have the capital to get something productive done. Unfortunately Paterson was too busy trying to accommodate Joe Bruno and the rest of the powers that be instead of looking after the majority of New Yorkers. His remarks on the budget really do say it all.

From The NY Daily News:

In one of the most forceful speeches yet on the New York economy, Gov. David Paterson criticized the budget he inherited from ex-Gov. Eliot Spitzer as "too big and too bloated" and pledged to put the state on a more prudent fiscal path next year, the DN's Kathleen Lucadamo reports.

The economic picture has only gotten bleaker since it was drafted and finance folks underestimated how bad New York would be hit, Paterson told elected officials and business leaders at this morning's ABNY breakfast, insisting "signals were in the air and we knew about them" but failed to take appropriate action.

“So even if we had misestimated, we would have addressed our problems down the road," Paterson said.

"But rather we created a situation where by the time there was a transition in the administration in mid-March, we were now going down a road where the legislators had set their priorities based on the budget forecasts that we already had acquired. Who can blame them? No one. Who can remind them? We can.”

The solution? Not new taxes, but belt-tightening, or, as Paterson put it, a reversal of Albany's "spending binge."

Oh, so the spending binge that was all Governor Spitzer's fault. Well to some degree it was since he was NY's top guy for most of the time leading up to the state's budget but he wasn't the one in charge when time was running short and things needed to be set in stone. We needed leadership in this tough economic time. Whether or not it was because Paterson was new or didn't care, we needed a budget that would help get us through these tough times so that the least among us would not suffer. Now we are left with the status quo and Paterson paints a picture of what will come in the next budget.

The Governor's belt-tightening plan sounds like it will be a painless one. Per the Sun, "Mr. Paterson said that future budget cuts would not come at the expense of New Yorkers who need services, middle class residents, or the state’s millionaires." Who, exactly, this leaves remaining to bear the brunt of any belt tightening remains unclear.


Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Meet And Greet Two Amazing NY City Council Candidates

Are you in New York City or nearby? Do you have plans tomorrow night? Well if you don't and care about your community and are starting to wonder who will be running in the city elections next year I have just the place for you. Democracy for New York City has put together a "Meet and Greet" for two homegrown candidates, Josh Skaller and Steve Behar.

From Democracy for NYC:

Wednesday, April 9, 2008, 7-9:30pm
Butterfield 8, 5 East 38th Street
(between Fifth & Madison Avenues)

To RSVP, click HERE...

Democracy for NYC started back in the spring of 2004, after Governor Howard Dean discontinued his presidential campaign and retooled his national grassroots support into Democracy for America, a progressive grassroots organization with coalition groups across the country. Governor Dean encouraged people to stay involved in politics at all levels of government, make our voices heard on the issues that matter, help elect good candidates, and eventually run for office.

Two of our DFNYC Linkup hosts, Steven Behar of Bayside, Queens and Josh Skaller of Park Slope, Brooklyn, are doing just that. Their respective city council districts will be open seats in the 2009 elections in New York City.

There is nothing more inspirational in politics than people who are passionate about their community and as average citizens, decide to become candidates for local office. It goes on all the time, though the stories usually don't make it to the national press. However, as New Yorkers we have the chance to go around the press and form community groups that help strengthen the area in which we live.

Plenty of local stories in the media talk about corruption in politics and unfortunately makes people cynical about the system. Whenever I hear that cynicism I respond with optimism, and tell those disaffecteds that if they don't like the system they've got, then go out and change, even if it means that the person in particular should run for office. While most react with some level of bashfulness, there are those few that actually get up and take action. Two of those people are Josh Skaller and Steve Behar, so if you want to see what it takes, come out tomorrow night and meet them for yourself.

Big Oil Loves Big Bob Schaffer

How nice of all these rich oil executives to take the time to thank Senate candidate Bob Schaffer who made sure to take care of his buddies with a $33 billion dollar tax cut. If only all of us had friends like Bob.

NYC Among Many That Needs Water Pipes Fixed

Across the country on a daily basis, some sort of water pipe problem is being fixed. The problem is that those repairs only scratch the surface of the reality that lies under our feet and the quality of the infrastructure that delivers untold billions of gallons of water to municipalities every year. Here in New York, far from the faucet in our offices and apartments, the Delaware Aqueduct carries water to us in a 13.5 foot diameter pipe. The problem with it though is that it is slowly disintegrating and causing problems for some upstate residents.

From RawStory:

Two hours north of New York City, a mile-long stream and a marsh the size of a football field have mysteriously formed along a country road. They are such a marvel that people come from miles around to drink the crystal-clear water, believing it is bubbling up from a hidden natural spring.

The truth is far less romantic: The water is coming from a cracked 70-year-old tunnel hundreds of feet below ground, scientists say.

The tunnel is leaking up to 36 million gallons a day as it carries drinking water from a reservoir to the big city. It is a powerful warning sign of a larger problem around the country: The infrastructure that delivers water to the nation's cities is badly aging and in need of repairs.

The Environmental Protection Agency says utilities will need to invest more than $277 billion over the next two decades on repairs and improvements to drinking water systems. Water industry engineers put the figure drastically higher, at about $480 billion.

That is a huge chunk of change and as the AP made mention, the cost will be dumped onto the ratepayers. Or at least that is what many different utilities told Colleen Long when she wrote the article. The piece continues to tell of the costs to many cities and the dire situations that occur when pipes ultimately fail. However, there is another way that is not mentioned.

Way back in the 1930s F.D.R. helped put people back to work and one of the agencies that did that was the WPA. If the government took a pro-active stance and copied Roosevelt in order to fix our utilities, we would be putting a lot of people to work and not making the public pay for it out of the own pockets. Instead of wasting money on useless fighting in Iraq, we could put some of that money to good use right here where we live.

LA And NYC Have Similar Congestion Problems, Face Different Roadblocks To Change

Yesterday New Yorkers lost out on a chance to improve their mass transit system when the congestion pricing debate was stifled in the Assembly up in Albany. Now we have a $17 billion dollar shortfall in our MTA capitol plan. On the upside, at least we have an expansive transit system, unlike our cosmopolitan neighbor across the country, where Los Angelenos depend on clogged streets and myriad freeways to get to and fro.

California Assemblyman Mike Feuer (D-Los Angeles) came up with an idea to add a tax for motorists to approve and then subsequently pay in order to increase the necessary cash for a budget that can begin to get a handle on Los Angeles's ridiculous congestion problems. However, it isn't their state government that is the biggest obstacle as of yet, it is some of the opinions in the local papers that are surprisingly thickheaded.

From The Orange County Register:

Congested traffic is easily verifiable. If it went away tomorrow, politicians would be unable to persuade voters to tax themselves to fix it.

Global warming at best amounts to less than a degree of temperature increase during the past century. If the recent several-year cooling trend is an indication, global warming may be going away. But because the only "proof" of long-term catastrophic consequences lies in contrived computer models, politicians like Mr. Feuer can insist even as temperatures decline that doomsday still lies ahead unless people tax themselves to fix the problem.

Los Angeles County motorists should ask Mr. Feuer what global temperature would persuade him that a new tax is unneeded. Global warming, now conveniently rechristened "climate change," is perfect for demagoguery. Those advancing the cause won't explain how they will know we have won the global warming fight, let alone what the ideal temperature is supposed to be.

Climate has changed as long as the Earth has spun on its axis. It's been considerably warmer in recent centuries than today, and during those periods humanity simply adapted, indeed, flourished with fewer cold-weather deaths and more abundant crops.

But facts don't deter schemes like Mr. Feuer's to raise $400 million in additional taxes to pay for already funded transit projects. The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority would have to place the issue on the ballot if AB2558 becomes law, and probably would do so because the agency would reap the bounty.

Um, it looks like facts do not deter the OC Register as well. They are one of the few and far between that still believe there is no connection between cars (that create pollution) and the environment (that suffers from pollution) among other vehicles (pun intended) of pollution into the atmosphere.

Now that of course is the OC Register, comparable to a conservative paper here in NYC. Unfortunately there are others with similar demented thinking, as Streetsblog LA points out.

From Streetsblog LA:

Slightly closer to home than San Bernadino, the Santa Monica Daily Breeze also seems offended that Assemblyman Mike Feuer would make a link between global warming, air pollution and congestion and that he would actually try to do something about it.

Here's a novel way to combat global warming: Get Los Angeles County drivers to pay a new tax to combat traffic jams.

Confused? That would be the only reason to vote for Assembly Bill 2558. If the author, L.A. Democrat Mike Feuer, were serious about dealing with either issue he'd come up with a better plan than lumping them together.

Feuer was quoted in the Orange County Register as saying the people in the Los Angeles region have had it when it comes to traffic and air quality. Well, yes. But now he's talking about three problems: global climate, local traffic and air pollution.

The Breeze is acting like there's no relationship between these three things, even though it's pretty well documented that climate change is caused in part by the air pollution created by cars. I think their point is that it will take more than just LA to reverse climate change, but that doesn't mean that we shouldn't do anything at all. That's the kind of thinking one would expect from the Washington Times, not a newspaper in Los Angeles.

Unfortunately it is a paper in Los Angeles and one among at least a few. And in Santa Monica, geez, I expected better from a small local paper in that neighborhood. Why is it that we have so much trouble trying to fix the problems we create for the environment (and inherently ourselves)? People need to wake up and talk back to boneheaded newspapers like these and replace stalwarts in our government (like Shelly Silver). True change comes from within, not vestiges of the past like certain editorials and politicians.

Ted Kennedy Spreads Some Truth On Petraeus's BS Sandwich

Like only the "liberal lion" can do it:

Congestion Pricing May Be Dead, But Our Problems Live On

Thanks to the Assembly Democrats, congestion pricing died a slow death yesterday and boy oh boy did that make the Mayor mad. He heaped tons of scorn on the Assembly and called them all sorts of names. Meanwhile the retort was that because of the Mayor's "high-handed" they decided not to go with him on this one. As The Albany Project points out, there were all sorts of winners and losers on this one, but the most important was New York City and the people that live here and rely on mass transit. Due to political games, we are now $17 billion in the hole for the MTA Capital budget. Where will this money come from? Most likely nowhere.

Bloomberg had his faults on the issue for sure, but most importantly Albany did not like the way he approached them and because of that, they punished all of us for it. That goes especially for Speaker Sheldon Silver. He certainly has his history of playing games with the Mayor and now we lose out even more than that West side stadium deal a few years back, despite those that say it isn't personal. Perhaps not, but it was personal to the millions that need a better funded mass transit system as our city continues to grow.

Now the Mayor is lame duck and congestion pricing advocates are pissed at Speaker Silver. While Bloomberg is finished with his term in less than two years from now, Silver can keep going on indefinitely as long as he keeps getting re-elected. Now that is something we can change. Paul Newell and Luke Henry are running against the shady Silver in the primary this fall and if you want to see a change in Albany, helping to get either into Silver's seat would go a long way to cleaning up that stench in the State House. Both men denounced Silver's tactics in regard to the congestion pricing debacle.

Another Reason For O'Reilly To Hate San Fran

Bill O'Reilly loves to hate on San Francisco. Too many liberals, Nancy Pelosi, an atmosphere of acceptance and a whole host of things might have led him to call for terrorists to attack the city. Well now he might call for its complete destruction because they are rejecting the politics of fear when it comes to immigrants. O'Reilly thrives on striking fear into the hearts of his loyal viewers, so this story about how San Fran is going to help undocumented workers will really put him into overdrive.

From El Diario de La Prensa:

Last week, the mayor of San Francisco re-affirmed that California city’s commitment to letting its residents know that city employees will not ask for or report a person’s immigration status to federal immigration agents. A San Francisco resident can access city services without fear of triggering immigration authorities.

The “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy is not new. It dates back to a 1989 sanctuary ordinance that Mayor Gavin Newsom reinforced with an executive order last year.

But Newsom issued more than a reminder. The city is launching an $83,000 public awareness campaign that includes multi-language advertisements and brochures on the policy, and public service announcements.

This sensible and commendable move should send the message that cities can work constructively to deal with public safety and health.

In many cities across the country, immigrants fear speaking out against criminals in their midst and dealing with health problems out of fear for authorities. This anxiety-ridden way of life does not only affect these victims of crime or poor health, but the entire community that interacts with undocumented workers on a daily basis. As much as O'Reilly and others like him do not want to admit, they are an integral part of our society and as decent human beings we should all work to help enact policies like that of San Francisco.

Vitter Has A Problem With Prostitutes And Parking Signs

To be fair to Senator Vitter he wasn't the one driving the car, but as for the prostitutes, thats all on him.

Not Much Left To The NY G.O.P.

Things are bad nationwide for Republicans this election cycle. Dozens of (R)epresentatives have either left in the middle of their terms or have signaled they aren't coming back for the 111th Congress. Senate prospects aren't looking so good either and frankly McCain is not the most desired candidate, even among conservatives. Yet out of the entire country, things aren't looking as bad as they are right here in New York for the Grand Old Party.

From The NY Times:

Heading into this election cycle, Republican leaders in Washington identified dozens of Congressional seats they believed they could pick up in November’s election — some where Democrats narrowly won a first term in 2006, and others where Democrats represent Republican-leaning districts.

But that strategy appears to have run into complications, both in the New York region and in some other parts of the country, as many potential Republican candidates — including public officials and wealthy entrepreneurs — have stayed on the sidelines, despite direct appeals from party leaders.

In some cases, potential candidates see a tough climate for Republicans, largely because of a troubled economy and a protracted war, according to some Republicans.

Some have even started races, only to abandon the effort.

There are so many examples across the state where the GOP leadership has failed to put up a challenge to their newly open seats and most surprisingly against the Democratic freshman class that includes the likes of John Hall and Kristin Gillibrand. The NY Times article goes on to profile every seat that should have been contested, yet for one reason or another has been practically ceded by the Republicans. Instead of playing defense in NY, Dems can play offense in many other districts not only in New York but across the country as well. The fact is, there isn't much being offered by the Republican party, for the voters and for any possible candidates that would think of running with an "R" next to their name.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Penn Makes It Official, He's Still In Clinton's Camp

I don't know who bought the story from the Clinton campaign about Mark Penn's resignation last night, but if there are still any believers in that crap tonight's news should dispel that notion. In order to stem the damage from Penn's hypocritical relations with the Colombian government (since Clinton opposes free trade agreements between the U.S. and Colombia, at least publicly). Regardless of the resignation, it looked like it was only a title change and Mark Penn said as much tonight on the nightly conference call.

From The Huffington Post:

Peppered with questions from colleagues -- one mentioned her "pretty panicked client," another asked bluntly, "Ultimately did you think that it was the best thing for the company [to work for Clinton's campaign]?" -- Penn insisted that "the situation has played itself out."

But he confirmed that while his title with the campaign had changed -- and his work load would undoubtedly decrease -- he still would play a direct advisory role for Clinton.

"I think you've heard that I made the decision to step down as chief strategist of the Clinton campaign. Penn Schoen and Berland is going to continue to poll for it and I'll continue to play a role advising Senator Clinton and former President Clinton as well as the rest of the leadership of the campaign," he said.

Later, he added: "The title, the position of chief strategist tended to be one that drew a tremendous amount of attention. And, number two, yes, I will have more time. We will continue - Penn and Schoen will continue to do the polling and I will be advising, but the net of it will still be that I will have more time than I otherwise would have had so that definitely is going to be the case."

So Mr. Chief Strategist will now just be a chief strategist, if that makes any difference to anyone. He clearly wanted to make that known to all of the "important" people around him, namely those who can drive clients his way or that has anything to do with people getting rich from his PR and polling business. What a joke, Penn believes that this is over in the media and he can go back to business as usual, what an arrogant a**hole!

Terry McAuliffe Digs Obama?

Oh no, is another Hillary Clinton stepping aside behind smoke and mirrors? Or worse, is Terry McAuliffe joining the Obama camp??? Nah, that ain't happening, but these pictures sure do have us confused Terry:

Bloomberg Running Out Of Congestion Pricing Gas

The Mayor is on his last fumes up in Albany and it looks like congestion pricing is going to die a languished death today, at least in terms of the $354 billion dollars in federal money that will disappear. Bloomberg has been quite vocal against the C-P critics and praising all of his allies, but in the end, if you can't get enough of Albany's Finest, then you are shit out of luck.

From The Gothamist:

The fate of the controversial plan to charge drivers entering Manhattan below 60th Street lies with Albany, as state legislators must decide whether to approve the plan by midnight tonight. But Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said last night, "There isn't a groundswell of support for it" among other Assembly members. But most papers are saying the plan is effectively dead.

If Albany can approve congestion pricing today, then the city is eligible for $354 million in federal funds to implement the plan (if not, that money is directed to other cities). Mayor Bloomberg begged lawmakers to pass it, saying yesterday, "[Lawmakers] going to be responsible to their constituents as to why they don’t have buses. When we stop work on the Second Avenue subway, they’re the ones that are going to have to answer.”

Now those are fighting words Mr. Mayor!

Frankly, as a Manhattanite and one that supports the environment and mass transit, I'm in favor of congestion pricing, despite the Mayor's amusing level of passion for the legislation. As someone that lives right off of 2nd Avenue, I would definitely love to see the T line come down the street at some point in my lifetime. Yet like Sheldon Silver said (as much as I detest him) there isn't much of a groundswell for the bill and unfortunately Albany is slow to do anything that might benefit the city.

If the bill doesn't go through in less than nine hours from now, it'll be effectively dead because there'll be no money to make all of those "instant" improvement the Mayor and his pro-congestion pricing groups have promised.

Oh and now there'll be no vote in the Assembly, so um, if you are anywhere near City Hall, watchout for possible Bloomberg tirades!

John McCain's Wife Not Saved From His Temper

Many people know that McCain has a history of being crabby. His temper isn't often heard on the campaign trail these days but here and there it can come out. Rest assured, his handlers must do a lot of work to keep it hammered down in the basement, but sometimes you just can't hide some pretty atrocious stuff. Now you never know what goes on between a husband and wife, but some behavior can be looked at and one might wonder, do we want a guy like that with his finger on the nuclear trigger?

From RawStory:

The Real McCain by Cliff Schecter, which will arrive in bookstores next month, reports an angry exchange between McCain and his wife that happened in full view of aides and reporters during a 1992 campaign stop. An advance copy of the book was obtained by RAW STORY.

Three reporters from Arizona, on the condition of anonymity, also let me in on another incident involving McCain�s intemperateness. In his 1992 Senate bid, McCain was joined on the campaign trail by his wife, Cindy, as well as campaign aide Doug Cole and consultant Wes Gullett. At one point, Cindy playfully twirled McCain�s hair and said, �You�re getting a little thin up there.� McCain�s face reddened, and he responded, �At least I don�t plaster on the makeup like a trollop, you cunt.� McCain�s excuse was that it had been a long day. If elected president of the United States, McCain would have many long days.

The man who was known as "McNasty" in high school has erupted in foul-languaged tirades at political foes and congressional colleagues more-or-less throughout his career, and his quickness to anger has been an issue on the presidential campaign trail as evidence of his fury has surfaced.

Schecter goes on to explain that in 1992, reporters had no idea how to cover such an incident, so they simply didn't. Nowadays in the 24 hour news cycle things are much different and something like this would have been all over YouTube. Yet this got buried many years ago, except for the anonymous accounts by several who were there. His temper is well known, but now......we are learning to what extent that fire can reach.

How Albany Really Works, Puppet Show Style

Politicians have trouble telling New Yorkers how the system works up in Albany, except for Brian Keeler and a few others. So to combat the tight-lipped legislators we have three little stick puppets who can really shed some light on the process of how the budget is made.

John McCain Doesn't Have A Clue On Iraq

Not one iota. John McCain either doesn't want to know the truth about Iraq, doesn't care, or like his favorite hugger, prefers to make up his own reality about what is going on in the country that we have tried to occupy yet failed at it miserably. It is probably easier for the Senator to look through rose-colored glasses than deal with his buddy George Bush and his fellow Republicans in Congress that helped to create the problem quagmire utter disaster in Iraq for the last five years. In his latest outburst of truthiness, he claims that Iraq is beginning to 'approach something normal.' Would that be normal like the inside of Bellevue?

From The Huffington Post:

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Republican John McCain insists last year's U.S. troop buildup in Iraq brought a glimmer of "something approaching normal" there, despite a recent outbreak of heavy fighting and an American death toll that has surpassed 4,000.

"We are no longer staring into the abyss of defeat, and we can now look ahead to the genuine prospect of success," McCain said in a speech prepared for delivery Monday.

The presidential nominee-in-waiting is closely tied to the unpopular, 5-year-old war. McCain was a vocal advocate of the troop increase strategy eventually adopted by President Bush, and is seeking to convince people the strategy is working.

The more he talks about Iraq moving along swimmingly, the more voters will see what a true crackpot Senator McCain is. While the Democrats talk about taking troops out of Iraq and leaving the disaster and letting Iraqis take care of their own, McCain wants more of the same.....and frankly the American people are sick of it.

Dan Squadron Gets Big "Chuck" Time Support Against Connor

In New York state politics or any state for that matter, running against an incumbent is a challenge of that requires overcoming immense odds. The power of incumbency in New York has enabled many legislators to stay in their seats for many years and decades. Though if you are going to fight the status quo in Albany, going in with a good message and powerful friends is a smart way to go. Dan Squadron has the message and now the support of New York's senior Senator, Chuck Schumer.

From The NY Daily News:

Veteran Brooklyn State Sen. Marty Connor said he was shocked when Schumer informed him during a rural Democrats' event in Saratoga Springs on Saturday that Schumer will back his former aide and political neophyte, Daniel Squadron, against Connor this fall.

According to Connor, Schumer, speaking in "a cold voice," informed the former state Senate minority leader: "You weren't there when I needed you; I owe you nothing."

At issue was Connor's 1998 endorsement of then-Rep. Schumer's U.S. Senate primary opponent, Geraldine Ferraro. Schumer went on to win the primary that year and oust Republican Sen. Alfonse D'Amato in the general election.

"Chuck's so powerful now he thinks he can go back and get even with everyone who slighted him over the last 10 years," said a miffed Connor, whose encounter with Schumer was seen by several Democrats and independently confirmed by one of them.

Damn! Now that is playing hardball New York style. Connor may be miffed by Schumer's broadside against him, but in the Empire State favors do go a long way and vice-versa. This encounter certainly complicates Schumer's support of Squadron in political circles but if he comes through with the cash that Chuck is known for, that outburst of contempt won't amount to much.

Of course we still have another man throwing his hat in the ring as he did two years ago, Mr. Ken Diamondstone. Ken can certainly throw his weight in as well for the primary and contest Connor as well. The only problem is that the two challengers can complicate the anti-Connor vote. The question is, can either one get the other to bow out to put up a formidable challenge to Connor?

A Soldier's Story

It may only be two minutes, but nevertheless it is powerful:

The "Raw Sewage" Legacy Of George W. Bush

After a President serves his term in office, a few years or even decades later, public areas or buildings are named after them to endure their legacies. Certainly George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln have many. So does F.D.R., John F. Kennedy and now even Ronald Reagan (libraries and airports and such). Well even though George Bush has a few months in office left, that doesn't mean that citizens can't express their gratitude in petitioning name changes of public sites. The Presidential Memorial Commission of San Francisco was formed to specifically for that purpose. So what do they want to honor our 43rd President?

From The SFist:

Looking to honor the forty-third President of the United States of America, George W. Bush, the recently formed Presidential Memorial Commission of San Francisco is looking to change the name of the Oceanside Wastewater Treatment Facility. It seems the group would like to rename the SF Zoo adjacent facility to the "George W Bush Sewage Plant."


The local grassroots movement, helmed by "Wayne Pickering," is proposing an ordinance initiative for the November 2008 San Francisco ballot in order to get the poop/pee/vomit plant's title changed. Why? To honor our current leader of the free world with an "appropriate and enduring legacy, for no other president in modern American history has accomplished so much in such a short time.

We think this is an excellent idea.

Would you like to help out with this effort? Help collect signatures? Host meetings or social gatherings? Then, join the effort by visiting So far, there are only six members, which we find inexcusable. Together we can make a difference and setup a constant reminder of what was, arguably, the worst administration in the history of our glorious country. God bless America and God bless the Presidential Memorial Commission of San Francisco.

Yes, everyone should join in and help support this glorious effort. There are much more than six members the last time I checked, but that should not stop anyone from signing up with this brilliant movement of citizen action. Now and even after George has departed, once this country is put back on the right path we should continue to sponsor projects of similar esteem to make sure that generations of America come to know what this President symbolizes for our great nation.