Saturday, May 03, 2008

Ron Paul Hinting At Obama Endorsement?

Of course we are still in a heated primary battle (so the pundits and "experts" tell me) and Barack Obama has to beat Hillary off amongst the party faithful. Once that is done he'll be going after the independents and moderates who are demanding change in our government just as we are. Well it looks like he might just have one crazy Republican (aren't they all) and semi-moderate Ron Paul to back him in those parts Democrats rarely go yonder in. Oh and nothing is official about this either but what is important is that he Paul can't stomach McCain.

From CNN:

In an interview on The Situation Room, Paul told Wolf Blitzer that endorsing Sen. John McCain, the Republican Party’s presumptive nominee, “would really confuse” his supporters “because they know we have a precise program and we have to defend that program.”

Having a Republican win the upcoming presidential election is “secondary” for Paul who is more interested in defending the Constitution, having the country go in what he considers the right direction, having a sound currency, and achieving balanced budgets. Paul parts ways with McCain over McCain’s support for the Iraq war, his approach to U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East and his willingness to spend federal dollars to support military operations in Iraq.

Instead, Paul favors Sen. Barack Obama because of positions on foreign policy. “But that’s doesn’t mean that’s an endorsement,” Paul quickly added.

Of course it isn't an endorsement Ronnie, don't worry, I won't tell. Oh and to all those Hillary supporters that still think Obama isn't electable, does this mean people with an independent/right-leaning streak don't count either?

Richard Lewis Takes On "Mission Accomplished"

As only a cynical comedian can:

McCain's Flip-Flops Can Only Lead To More Flip-Flops

John McCain came out with avengance against the DNC's ad showing McCain claim we could be in Iraq for a hundred years. The problem with him attacking the ad is that the DNC used his own words, so it is kinda hard to refute something that you actually said on camera. McCain knows that it looks bad to a nation sick and tired of war that he wants more war. The big problem for McCain is that the truth of what he wants to do is unexplainable to someone with common sense, so he tries to manipulate what he means. That translates into more lies, and more of a demand to clarify everything that comes out of his mouth.


First, if McCain doesn't envision a 100-year American front-line combat presence in Iraq, how long is he willing to keep U.S. forces in that role? So far, all he has said is that the United States should withdraw only if it concludes that the Iraq mission is unachievable or when it has achieved success, which he defines as the establishment of "a peaceful, stable, prosperous, democratic state."

McCain hasn't said how long he would keep fighting to reach that demanding goal. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., one of McCain's closest Senate allies, recently said he thinks that McCain would maintain current U.S. troop levels in Iraq through his entire four-year presidential term if military commanders recommended that course to maintain stability there.

McCain has not said when, but he has pledged that Iraqi units will eventually assume the major combat responsibility. That prompts the next question McCain should address: What would then become the mission for the U.S. forces he wants to maintain in Iraq? McCain hasn't specified. But he has suggested that their job would be to deter external aggression, much as in South Korea where our troops "served as a buffer against invasion from North Korea."

Of course South Korea is nothing like Iraq. That would be like comparing grapes to watermelons. McCain's assertions are based on false premises, so every explanation he gives is shaky from the start. The "maverick" is trying to hold together arguments from the Bush Administration that have no credibility in real world. What Bush has going for him is that he is not running for re-election, what McCain has going against him is that he is trying to run as Bush to be elected. In 2008, that is not going to work for the great majority of Americans that feel George Bush was the worst President ever.

Sebelius Scores A Major Victory Against Coal Power

Who doesn't love a piece of good news here and there? Happy stories are even sweeter when they come from unlikely places and if it concerns the environment, seeing something out of Kansas is definitely a great sign of things to come. The hat tip goes to their incredible Governor Kathleen Sebelius, for standing up against the coal lobby and the majority of Republicans in the State House that were in the pockets of those who profit from that dirty black crap that comes out of the ground.

From The Kansas City Star:

TOPEKA | Opponents of two power plants proposed for western Kansas won a stunning victory Thursday that they hope signals the end of a six-month war over coal.

The Kansas House failed Thursday night to muster the 84 votes needed to defy Gov. Kathleen Sebelius and approve the plants over her veto. The vote was 80-45.

But plant supporters said they would keep trying until the legislative session ends.

“We’ll do something. We’re not through,” said House Speaker Melvin Neufeld, a major backer of Sunflower Electric Power Corp.’s project. Asked if Thursday’s vote was the last on the issue, the Ingalls Republican said, “Not hardly.”

Plant opponents called the vote historic, saying it may go down as a turning point in which Kansas becomes a leader in the movement away from old energy sources toward sustainable, environmentally friendly technologies and energy efficiency. They hoped Thursday’s vote was decisive.

I hope so too. We all know that with the money and power behind coal and all unrenewable resources, this won't knock them down in one punch. However if this attitude shown by Kansans holds steady, in the long run the environment and that of which our children and children's children will live in, things are looking on the up and up.

The most important side-story in all of this was how the veto override failed. The overwhelmingly Republican institution lost a few key votes from their own caucus thanks in part to constituents that pressured their lawmakers to side with them and not the coal industry. When citizens speak loudly and consistently, their representatives do hear them.

Friday, May 02, 2008

John McCain Wants More War To Prevent More War

Shame on Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama for wanting to pull out from Iraq. Don't they know that having our troops in harm's way for the last five years (and for the next hundred) is a good thing? His magical energy policy (no one knows what that is as of yet) will keep us from going into the Middle East, but of course we need to stay there indefinitely.

Now that is some Grade-A bullshit straight talk!

I Married Her For The Health Insurance

Are you married or thinking about getting married? What comes to mind when thinking about that special person? Is it their smile? Perhaps a kind and decent heart? Good with children? And when it comes to being stable (this is a death til you part decision, right?), do they have a good job, make an honest living? Or do you forget all of that, and get married for their health insurance policy? Yes folks, the health care crisis in our country is truly getting that bad.

From The LA Times:

In a poll released today, 7% of Americans said they or someone in their household decided to marry in the last year so they could get healthcare benefits via their spouse.

"It's a small number but a powerful result, because it shows how paying for healthcare is reflected not only in family budgets but in life decisions," said Drew E. Altman, president of the Kaiser Family Foundation, which commissioned the survey as part of its regular polling on healthcare.

On a broader scale, the survey found that healthcare costs outranked housing costs, rising food prices and credit card bills as a source of concern. Twenty-eight percent of those surveyed said they had experienced serious problems because of the cost of healthcare, compared with 29% who had problems getting a good job or a raise. Gasoline prices were the top economic worry, with 44% saying they had serious problems keeping up with increases at the pump.

Yes, out of a hundred seven percent isn't much if you took away what you were measuring. I thought marriage was this holy institution that conservatives tell us is between a man and a woman, deep belief in a Christian G-d and a can of beans. In reality, these factors really do matter and in the last thirty years, health care companies have gotten away with fiscally raping America. That means people are worrying more about something that should be a right in the wealthiest country in the world.

Siegel Sues The City Over Council Speaker's Slush Fund

The Slush Fund scandal came to light concerning fake charities and payouts from the Council Speaker's office, Quinn "got tough" and proposed reforms to smooth things over with the public (and possibly the District Attorney). However, community hero and potentially future Public Advocate Norman Siegel is not buying the aftermath of what happened. He has taken the step to sue the city under an old Boss Tweed-era law and demand answers to questions that every citizen in New York deserves to hear.

From The Daily Politics:

The suit seeks to have key City Hall officials subpoenaed to testify, including Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Mayor Bloomberg.

A hearing date of a show cause order was set for May 29.

Among other issues that would be explored if the inquiry is approved would be whether actions by Quinn and others in the Council’s creation of phantom budget accounts constitutes violations of neglect of duty in relation to the proper conduct of the government affairs of New York City.

Also to be explored is if anyone knowingly made false or deceptive reports “in the course of their duty.”

Other questions posed by the suit include:

- Why were the secret budget accounts created?

- Who was involved in the decision to create them?

- Where did the money involved eventually end up?

- Who chose the groups that got the money?

- Who was aware of the behind-the-scene use of the secret accounts and how they were used?

- What did the mayor and his Office of Management and Budget know, and if they knew what did they do about it?

Quinn never offered this information up in her press conferences, possibly to save her mayoral chances next year (and to hold on to the Speakership for that matter). Of course Siegel isn't seeking any penalties for those he names to testify but more importantly to have the truth heard so we do not have to repeat these mistakes again and again.

Norman is holding a press conference tomorrow morning at 10:30 in his office at 260 Madison (18th Fl), for all those that care to hear his remark in person and before brunch. Be sure to see what else Norman is up to at his website.

John McCain's Hollow Health Care Plan

After studying the health care crisis in our country, John McCain has decided that he will give tax breaks to those that can afford health insurance and damn those that can't. He does nothing to change the fundamental problem with the industry that cares infinitely more about their bottom lines and CEO pay packages than people's welfare. That is John McCain in top maverick mode for ya.

Paterson's Campaign Finance Reform On Shaky Ground

Albany is Albany is Albany. Sigh.

What do I mean by that? Well it seems that despite everything surrounding the exposés of corruption in our state capitol, nothing promising is happening to alleviate our problems. Our new governor seems resigned to do absolutely nothing to help campaign finance reform on its way except for placating the groups that put boots on the ground to persuade our legislators to do what it takes to clean Albany. This morning the Times Union rightly smacks Gov. Paterson for continuing on the same big-money path as everyone has before him.

From The Times-Union:

Now here's the new governor, David Paterson, affable in a way his predecessor wasn't, and possessing of political skills that his predecessor lacked. Mr. Paterson might be able to actually set an example. He just might have what it takes to get Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno to agree to the tougher campaign finance laws that Mr. Spitzer fought for, to no avail.

Instead, Mr. Paterson is putting out the word that $10,000 limits aren't for him as he begins to raise the tens of millions of dollars that running for governor is likely to cost him come 2010. He's sticking to the absurdly high limit of $55,900 that New York's farcical campaign finance laws allow.

"In order to compete on a level playing field he will adhere to the limits that are set under current rules," says Jonathan Rosen, a spokesman for the governor.

Translation: Raise the white flag. No more reform for us, at least not until 2011. What counts now is political survival.

Oh, Mr. Paterson may yet come out with a campaign finance reform proposal before the legislative session wraps up. He might feign indignation when it somehow fails to pass. But the governor's commitment to even beginning to reduce the corrupting influence of big money on state government is suspect when he runs away from a measure that Mr. Spitzer had voluntarily adopted without having to fight for legislative approval. That Mr. Paterson is not Mr. Spitzer isn't always such a flattering comparison.

On Monday he said that campaign finance reform was too expensive. When good government groups came to Albany the next day to demand change, he appeared at the end of the day in order to endorse a bill in the Assembly this year in order to change/compel the Senate to pass reform as well. And in the very same week, he is making sure there will be plenty of money for him to run for (re-)election in two years time. There is no reason for a $55,900 limit unless you are taking campaign cash from rich lobbyists and those that are looking to personally benefit from such an enormous contribution.

Shame on you Governor Paterson! If you think you will get away with the status quo in this fashion, I have a lot of people who will be committed to pressure you until you sign a real campaign finance reform bill.

May Day Not Just About Labor Anymore

Yesterday labor groups held rallies to celebrate May Day and the efforts of the labor and union community that have established rights for workers worldwide. George Bush tried to put a damper on things by making May 1st a holiday, ironically for the rule of law. However another group made a much better push to further signify the first of May, that would be our nation's immigrants.

From The Gothamist:

Many hundreds of people marched yesterday to push immigration reform into the election year spotlight. With rallies being held in other cities in the country and world, the marchers gathered at Union Square and then headed down Broadway to the the Jacob Javits Federal Office Building, where immigrations officials have offices.

One demonstrator explained to NY1, "[May 1] is international workers’ day and in this country, as you may know, there are more than 280,000 working persons – men, women and children – that are in immigrant prisons. Honest families who have not done any crime, who are in prison and we’re marching in solidarity with them.”

Other demonstrators were touting other causes: Some calling for affordable housing, others for police justice after the Sean Bell shooting, while other wanted reforms in all areas.

With eight years of George Bush, reform is needed across the board. Everyone except for the very rich have suffered from the heartless policies he and his Administration have embraced. Today we march in protest of him, tomorrow we will start to make real changes that puts the people first and cronies of George Bush in their place.

Hillary's Elite Remarks, G-d Bless Her

And she has the gall to call Barack Obama elitist?

Two Days, Two DNC Chair Endorsements For Obama

Joe Andrew's endorsement and message to the remaining super delegates to join him in supporting Barack Obama yesterday was tremendous. It almost effectively killed the incessant negative stories about the Senator and re-enforced the message that the facts don't lie and Obama has the math in his favor. Barack holds the delegate lead and as more super-delegates pledge their votes, the ground Hillary claims to stand on is sinking faster and faster. Now today another ex-DNC Chair is throwing his weight behind Obama, beckoning even more of the party elite to select the nominee and start the mending of fences.

From ABC:

....the Obama campaign rolls out another former DNC chairman's endorsement on Friday: Paul Kirk, a superdelegate who led the party from 1985-1989, is coming out for Obama -- a day after Andrew's switch, an Obama campaign official tells The Note. (And don't count on that being it for the day, as the dribble continues.)

If Clinton, D-N.Y., can make this is a race yet, we're about to find out just how patient Democrats can be with a race that's showing signs of shredding the party. Notwithstanding moves by Andrew, Kirk, and the like, Clinton needs superdelegates to wait for her case to play out -- and then she needs an utter and total rejection of the Democratic frontrunner.

"Despite a series of trials that have put Mr. Obama on the defensive and illustrated the burdens he might carry in a fall campaign, the Obama campaign is rolling along, leaving Mrs. Clinton with dwindling options," Adam Nagourney and Carl Hulse write in The New York Times. "By and large, the group that matters most at this point -- the uncommitted superdelegates, who are likely to hold the balance of power -- still seem to view their decision the way the Obama campaign would like them to see it."

There are only so many superdelegates and every one of them is crucial for Hillary to have on her side. There are also a few primaries left but the math of proportionality does not favor her campaign at all. The remaining superdelegates aren't simply cattle to be herded either. They are smart enough to see what is going on and backing someone that can lead the party to victory is crucial to them. They also want to let the voters vote and that is why many will wait until after the primaries. The problem for Hillary is that even then, she will still be behind in the count (unless she completely blows Obama out in every contest) and that my friends, will be that.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Vito Fossella Gets Himself Into A DUI-sey

I rarely write more than one post a day on the 13th Congressional District of New York in one day, but today Congressman Fossella pressured me into it. See Staten Island's Congressman not only helped pen an Op-Ed in the NY Daily News today, he was arrested for drunk driving late last night down in the Washington area.

From The Washington Post:

Rep. Vito J. Fossella (R-N.Y.) was arrested overnight in Alexandria and charged with driving while intoxicated, court records showed today.

Fossella is scheduled to appear in Alexandria General District Court on May 12 for an advisement hearing, the records said.

No other details were immediately available.

Reached by phone, Fossella's communication director had no immediate comment on the report.

If I were working for Vito, I'd have no comment either, so I don't blame the poor staffer. Maybe Vito had trouble writing that phony piece about FISA last night before it was published and he decided to get hammered. Later on in the day Vito did come out and make a statement that drinking and driving is bad and that as a parent he knows better. He also apologized for embarrassing his district.

Um Vito, the DWI is embarrassing for you and your family. The district is embarrassed because you side with George Bush, you support his war and abandoning the rule of law so that telecommunication companies can escape prosecution for their crimes against the American people. Though before the voters get to you on that this November, you'll have to deal with the rule of law for your own person first.

Hillary's Camp Turns On Joe Andrew In A Heartbeat

There was no well-wishing to ex-supporter and ex-DNC Chair Joe Andrew from the Clinton campaign. Within hours he was minimized and ostracized. He even had to defend the fact that he is from Indiana. Howard Wolfson actually accused him of not being from his own state., where is Clinton from? Illinois? Arkansas? New York? Or perhaps just another one from inside the beltway?

McCain: For "Mission Accomplished" Before He Was Against It

As we mourn this fifth anniversary of George Bush's "Mission Accomplished" photo-op disaster, the nation must remember that just because George Bush won't be here for the sixth anniversary, that doesn't mean someone like John McCain will ensure that there will be many more reasons to remember we went to Iraq.

As we look again at the symbolic Pyrrhic victory banner that George Bush had hoisted above him five years ago, it is always good to see what the candidates have to say about it. Both Senators Obama and Clinton repudiate that moment and highlight the callousness of our President for his outrageous show of hubris that day. John McCain however, is a bit more of a waffler.

From The Huffington Post:

....McCain himself defended the banner in June 2003 on Fox News:
NEIL CAVUTO (host): Senator -- after a conflict means after the conflict, and many argue the conflict isn't over.

McCAIN: Well, then why was there a banner that said mission accomplished on the aircraft carrier? Look, the -- I have said a long time that reconstruction of Iraq would be a long, long, difficult process, but the conflict -- the major conflict is over, the regime change has been accomplished, and it's very appropriate.

And on May 22, 2003 -- just three weeks after Bush spoke on the aircraft carrier -- McCain offered a mission accomplished speech of his own. On the Senate floor, McCain proclaimed "massive victory" in Iraq and credited combat-readiness for "our victory" in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Now of course he says that the banner was a mistake but still won't blame George Bush for the blunder. He is just saying whatever it takes to appease whomever is left in Bush's camp while trying (poorly) not to be an exact copy of the President. The problem is, Xerox couldn't do a better job of McCain's posturing these days. He is still a proponent of a war that is failing everyone involved (thats usually how wars work).

Newell Slams 1199 And GYNHA For Pay-To-Play Tactics With Shelly Silver

When it comes to New York politics, corruption and all-around shadiness persists in every nook and cranny. If someone comes along and tries to challenge the status quo, the powers that be will do whatever they can to quash the "problem." Gobs of money will be spent and all aspects of the dictionary will be used to make that person go away. G.Y.N.H.A. and 1199 give tons of money to people like Joe Bruno and now they are helping Shelly Silver stave off two primary challengers in his own district. Staying silent about these practices helps them to go on indefinitely. So when I heard one candidate address the pay to play nature of Albany, I did a silent cheer.

From Paul Newell:


NEW YORK, NY - May 1, 2008

Sheldon Silver is pulling out all the stops as Paul Newell's grassroots challenge gains traction. Despite having more than $3 Million in his campaign fund, Silver has already turned to third party special interests to fund his campaign.

Yesterday, 1199 and the Greater New York Hospital Association (GNYHA) filled 64th Assembly District mailboxes with a 2-sided, full color 8½" X 11" mailer praising Silver. GNYHA and 1199, which recently gave $100,000 to Republican Joe Bruno, have long been recognized as among the savviest operators in Albany's lobbying culture.

Paul Newell responded to the piece, saying "The problem is not the mailer itself, it is the pay-to-play culture in Albany. Silver and Bruno have put the word out that the way to get something from New York State government is to spend big money supporting the status quo." Newell continued, "No amount of special interest money will hide the fact that Sheldon Silver has been failing the people of Lower Manhattan for decades."

The highly unusual timing of the piece - more than four months before Silver's first contested primary in 22 years - is clear proof that Silver is concerned about community organizer Paul Newell's campaign. Evan Hutchison, Newell's Campaign Manager reacted, saying "We knew that Sheldon Silver's millions in special interest money would come into play, we just didn't expect him to start calling in favors so early in the campaign. They are obviously scared". Newell has already knocked on over 4,000 doors and distributed over 10,000 flyers to voters in the district.

In another sign of concern, Silver recently hired high-priced campaign consultants BerlinRosen to manage his defense against Newell's aggressive grassroots campaign. The hire is Silver's first such move in over 20 years.

It is great to see Silver's anxiety about the race front and center. It will definitely make itself even more apparent as the primary election gets closer. The big players that operate around the state capitol have no intention of watching one of their three men in a room be kicked out of office. That is why we must fight as hard as we can to kick Shelly Silver out for good and finally start to clean the stench up in Albany.

Teamsters 237 Rallies Against Bush's Housing Cuts

Teamsters Local 237 was outside City Hall today on the Broadway side of the park. They had a nice sized rally with a great band to get the rhythm going. The issue at hand is the massive amount of cuts that the Bush Administration has handed the NYCHA and the hundreds of layoffs within the city agency. That dismantling of public housing in New York City is a serious detriment to those that can not afford the rents of five borough. Obviously George Bush doesn't care, but these spirited Teamsters do.

Homeland Security Thinks Nelson Mandela Is A Terrorist

Although it may just be a "bureaucratic snafu" as Sen. Gregg calls it, it is ridiculous that Nobel Prize winner and human rights hero Nelson Mandela was on our terrorist-watch list. The list is in the thousands at least and anyone can be put on it at anytime. It leads to tremendous delays for travelers and is embarrassing for honest people trying to get to the United States.

From USA Today:

WASHINGTON — Nobel Peace Prize winner and international symbol of freedom Nelson Mandela is flagged on U.S. terrorist watch lists and needs special permission to visit the USA. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice calls the situation "embarrassing," and some members of Congress vow to fix it.

The requirement applies to former South African leader Mandela and other members of South Africa's governing African National Congress (ANC), the once-banned anti-Apartheid organization. In the 1970s and '80s, the ANC was officially designated a terrorist group by the country's ruling white minority. Other countries, including the United States, followed suit.

Because of this, Rice told a Senate committee recently, her department has to issue waivers for ANC members to travel to the USA.

It isn't simply taking someone off the list who does not deserve to be there. Another advocate for peace and acclaimed musician Cat Stevens was put on simply because he changed his name to reflect his Muslim identity. Bad bureaucracy or not, the system needs to be fixed so that these incidents cease to occur. With all the money we waste on "defense," cleaning up the list to keep the bad guys out should not be such a problem as it is for the DHS.

Joe Andrew Throws A Dagger In The Heart Of The Clinton Campaign

In the media climate we have today, it seems that the numbers and facts that show the race is over between Sens. Obama and Clinton isn't enough. They desire the horse race even if one horse is in the dust. As long as both are breathing somewhere on the track, the media circus continues. That is why once in a while you need a dramatic moment that shows Democrats across the country that we need to end this divisiveness and heal the party, and unite behind Barack Obama. It can't be just anyone to make this announcement, it has to be someone influential and important, someone like former DNC Chairman (under Bill Clinton) Joe Andrew.

From DailyKos:

May 1, 2008

Dear Friends:

I have been inspired.

Today I am announcing my support for Senator Barack Obama for President of the United States of America. I am changing my support from Senator Clinton to Senator Obama, and calling for my fellow Democrats across my home State of Indiana, and my fellow super delegates across the nation, to heal the rift in our Party and unite behind Barack Obama.

The hardest decisions in life are not between good and bad or right and wrong, but between two goods or two rights. That is the decision Democrats face today. We have an embarrassment of riches, but as much as we may love our candidates and revel in the political process that has brought Presidential politics to places that have not seen it in a generation, we cannot let our family affair hurt America by helping John McCain.

Here is my message, explained in this lengthy letter that I hope is perceived as a thoughtful analysis of how to save America from four more years of the misguided polices of the past: you can be for someone without being against someone else. You can unite behind a candidate and a vision for America without rejecting another candidate and their vision, because in real life, opposed to party politics, we Democrats are on the same side. The battle should not be amongst ourselves. Rather, we should focus our efforts on those who are truly on the opposite side: those who want to continue the failed policies of the last eight years, rather than bring real change to Washington. Let us come together right now behind an inspiring leader who not only has the audacity to challenge the old divisive politics, but the audacity to make us all hope for a better America.

Unite the Party Now

I believe that Bill Clinton will be remembered as one of our nation's great Presidents, and Senator Clinton as one of our nation's great public servants. But as much as I respect and admire them both, it is clear that a vote for Hillary Clinton is a vote to continue this process, and a vote to continue this process is a vote that assists John McCain.

I ask Hoosiers to come together and vote for Barack Obama to be our next President. In an accident of timing, Indiana has been given the opportunity to truly make a difference. Hoosiers should grab that power and do what in their heart they know is right. They should reject the old negative politics and vote for true change. Don't settle for the tried and true and the simplistic slogans, but listen to your heart and dare to be inspired. Only a cynic would be critical of Barack Obama inspiring millions. Only the uninformed could forget that the candidate that wins in November is always the candidate that inspires millions.

I ask the leaders of our Party to come together after this Tuesday's primary to heal wounds and unite us around a single nominee. While I was hopeful that a long, contested primary season would invigorate our Party, the polls show that the tone and temperature of the race is now hurting us. John McCain, without doing much of anything, is now competitive against both of our remaining candidates. We are doing his work for him and distracting Americans from the issues that really affect all of our lives.

We need to be talking about fixing the economy, not whose acquaintances once said what to whom. We need to be talking about stopping the attacks in Iraq, not stopping the attacks in Indiana. We need to be talking about policy, not politics.

Barack Obama is the Right Candidate for Right Now

While I am a longtime critic of our Party's rules that created so-called super delegates, we have the rules we have and we must live with them. I am humbled and honored to be a super delegate, and I understand the seriousness of the duty it entails. I recognize that this is a difficult decision for super delegates like me, who owe so much to President Bill Clinton. It is right to be loyal, to be grateful and to be consistent. But it is also right to acknowledge the inevitability of change, right to dare to dream for a better world, and right to know what in your heart is the right thing for the future even if your friends and family disagree. Good things, just like good people, can disagree. But as Democrats, we must disagree with dignity, debate with admiration of each other, and in the end, go forward with mutual respect.

President Clinton and Vice President Gore gave me the opportunity to serve as the Chair of the Democratic Party. I pledged my loyalty to them, and I will never forget Al Gore putting ego aside, gently demurring, and simply asking me to put our country ahead of politics. It is a lesson I will remember forever, and it is what guides me now in this decision. What is best for our Party and our country is not blind loyalty, but passionate support for the candidate who can best correct the misguided policies of the last eight years.

We need a candidate who will re-invigorate the economy and keep good jobs here in America. We need a candidate who will end the war in Iraq. We need a candidate who will provide health coverage for our 45 million uninsured neighbors. We need a candidate who will end our addiction to high-priced foreign oil by investing in renewable energy here at home.

That candidate is Barack Obama.

What was best for America sixteen years ago was electing Bill Clinton. What would have been best for America eight years ago was not only electing Al Gore, which we did, but allowing him to serve as President of the United States. Imagine how the world would be different if Al Gore and not George Bush, would have been President of the United States. Let's seize the opportunity and vote for someone who like Al Gore, was against the war from the beginning, and who brings a new energy, a new excitement, and a new politics to our country.

Let’s put things right.

Time to Act

Many will ask, why now? Why, with several primaries still remaining, with Senator Clinton just winning Pennsylvania, with my friend Evan Bayh working hard to make sure Senator Clinton wins Indiana, why switch now? Why call for super delegates to come together now to constructively pick a president?

The simple answer is that while the timing is hard for me personally, it is best for America. We simply cannot wait any longer, nor can we let this race fall any lower and still hope to win in November. June or July may be too late. The time to act is now.

I write this letter from my mom's dining room table in Indianapolis, Indiana. Four generations of my family have argued and laughed around this table. But what I humbly believe today is that we, as Democrats and as Americans, face what Dr. King characterized and what Senator Obama reminds us is the fierce urgency of now. As a nation, we are at a critical moment and we need leaders with the character and vision to see us through the challenges at hand and those to come. I can't guess what will happen tomorrow, so I can't tell you what kind of experience our next President will need to have to deal with those challenges. But I can tell you what kind of character and vision they will need to have -- and that is what inspires me about Barack Obama.

As Democrats, however, we risk letting this moment slip through our fingers. We risk ceding the field to the Republicans and allowing the morally bankrupt Bush Agenda to continue unabated if we do not unite behind a single candidate. Should this race continue after Indiana and North Carolina, it will inevitably become more negative. The polls already show the supporters for both candidates becoming more strident in their positions and more locked into their support. Continuing on this path would be a catastrophe, as we would inadvertently end up doing Republicans work for them. Already, instead of the audacity of hope, we suffer the audacity of one Democrat comparing John McCain favorably to another Democrat. When that happens, you know it is time for all of us to stop, take a deep breath and unite to change America.

We must act and we must act now.

The Problems of the Process: 2000 and 2008

When Al Gore got a half million more votes than George Bush in 2000, yet the Electoral College elected George Bush President, we saw the absurdity of any system that does not elect the person who gets the most votes. That is why the Democratic Party's nomination process is flawed. I will continue to fight for a 2012 process where there are only primaries, and which ever Democrat gets the most votes becomes our nominee. Delegates should decide the party platform -- voters should decide who our nominee is.

But we are struck with this absurd system for 2008, and, flawed though it may be, we must work within it without betraying the voice of the people. No amount of spin or sleight of hand can deny the fact that where there has been competition, Senator Obama has won more votes, more States and more delegates than any other candidate. Only the super delegates can award the nomination to Senator Clinton, but to do so risks doing to our Party in 2008 what Republicans did to our country in 2000. Let us be intellectually consistent and unite behind Barack Obama.

A New Era of Politics

My endorsement of Senator Obama will not be welcome news to my friends and family at the Clinton campaign. If the campaign's surrogates called Governor Bill Richardson, a respected former member of President Clinton's cabinet, a "Judas" for endorsing Senator Obama, we can all imagine how they will treat somebody like me. They are the best practitioners of the old politics, so they will no doubt call me a traitor, an opportunist and a hypocrite. I will be branded as disloyal, power-hungry, but most importantly, they will use the exact words that Republicans used to attack me when I was defending President Clinton.

When they use the same attacks made on me when I was defending them, they prove the callow hypocrisy of the old politics first perfected by Republicans. I am an expert on this because these were the exact tools that I mastered as a campaign volunteer, a campaign manager, a State Party Chair and the National Chair of our Party. I learned the lessons of the tough, right-wing Republicans all too well. I can speak with authority on how to spar with everyone from Lee Atwater to Karl Rove. I understand that, while wrong and pernicious, shallow victory can be achieved through division by semantics and obfuscation. Like many, I succumbed to the addiction of old politics because they are so easy.

Innuendo is easy. The truth is hard.

Sound bites are easy. Solutions are hard.

Spin is simple and easy. Struggling with facts is complicated and hard.

I have learned the hard way that you can love the candidate and hate the campaign. My stomach churns when I think how my old friends in the Clinton campaign will just pick up the old silly Republican play book and call in the same old artificial attacks and bombardments we have all heard before.

Yet, despite the simple and overwhelming pressure to do anything and everything to win, Barack Obama has risen above it all and demanded a new brand of politics. People flock to Senator Obama because they are rejecting the hyperbole of the old politics. The past eight years of George Bush have witnessed a retreat from substance, science, and reason in favor spin, cronyism and ideology. Barack Obama has dared not only to criticize it, as all Democrats do, but to actually reject playing the same old game. And in doing so, he has shown us a new path to victory.

Uniting for Victory

The simple fact is that Democrats need to be united in November to win, and Clinton supporters, in particular, will be vital to victory. We will not convince Clinton supporters to join the Obama campaign, however, by personally criticizing them. We must welcome everyone and avoid doing Republican work for them. It is therefore incumbent on all of us who once supported Senator Clinton to welcome the thousands who should now switch their support to Senator Obama. Similarly, a necessary part of the healing process for our Party is for those who supported Senator Obama early to have the grace and good sense to broaden the tent and welcome newcomers into the fold.

The old players of the old political game will claim that I am betraying my old friend Senator Evan Bayh by switching my support to Senator Obama. I believe that Evan Bayh would be a great President, and therefore a great Vice President. I will continue to argue that he would be a great choice to be on the ticket with Barack Obama. Evan Bayh is uniquely positioned as a successful governor with executive experience who is now a U.S. Senator with foreign policy experience and who is young enough to not undercut the message of vitality and hard work that Barack Obama represents. Part of healing the Party may be to have a Clinton supporter on the ticket, let alone someone who would help with Indiana, Ohio and the moderate Midwest in the general election.

Being for Evan Bayh, however, does not mean that you have to be for Hillary Clinton. The important message to Hoosiers, and to super delegates, is that being for someone does not mean that you agree 100 percent of the time. Regardless of whether Evan Bayh and I support different candidates, I will support Evan Bayh.

We must reject the notion that we have to beat the Republicans at their own game -- or even that the game has to be played at all. It is so easy for all of us involved -- candidates, campaigns and the media -- to focus on the process and the horse race that we forget why we got into it in the first place. Barack Obama has had the courage to talk about real issues, real problems and real people. Let's pause for a second in the midst of the cacophony of the campaign circus and listen.

In 1992, I was inspired by Bill Clinton because he promised, and delivered, a framework for addressing America's problems. President Clinton ended a long-running left-right debate in our Party, and inspired millions. He drew giant crowds and spoke passionately for a generation of Americans who often disenfranchised and rarely participated in governing. Today, Barack Obama does the same thing. Winners redefine the game. Winners connect with the American people and not only feel their pain, but inspire them to take action to heal the underlying cause. Barack Obama is that kind of candidate and that kind of leader, which is why he will win in November.

Welcoming Everyone into the Party

We face significant challenges as a nation and as a Party, but time and again, Americans have shown the resilience and determination necessary to overcome even the highest obstacle. We have a difficult road ahead, but I have complete confidence that Barack Obama is the candidate who can lead our Party to victory and the President who can guide us to even greater heights.

Many Democrats know me for one short speech I gave over and over again in the 2000 Presidential campaign. That speech was about welcoming people into our Party and welcoming undecided voters to our campaign to elect Al Gore. Today, we need to welcome Clinton supporters, undecided voters, and all Americans to join Barack Obama's cause to fight for a better America. My speech ended with these words, which are even more relevant today:

The difference between the Republican Party and the Democratic Party is that you are always welcome in the Democratic Party.

Because Democrats don’t care if you are black or white or brown or a nice shade of green, you are welcome in the Democratic Party.

We don’t care if you pray in a church or a synagogue or a temple or a mosque, or just before math tests, you are welcome in the Democratic Party.

We don’t care if you are young or old, or just don’t want to tell your age, you are welcome in the Democratic Party.

We don’t care what gender you are, or what gender you want to hold hands with; as long as you want to hold hands, you are welcome in the Democratic Party.

We don’t care about the size of your bank account, just the size of your heart; and we don’t care where you are today, just where you dream you want to be tomorrow.

That is your Democratic Party.

That is Barack Obama's Democratic Party.

That is the Party that will win in November.

Thank you Joe Andrew. Now it is time for the rest of the superdelegates to follow Joe's lead so we can put this primary to bed and get ready for what is truly important, putting the Democratic nominee in the White House.

Arriana Huffington Discusses The Media And The Crazy Right Wingers They Love

Right on Arianna!

Vito Fossella Shows Us Why He Must Be Kicked Out Of Congress

I always thought that when an incumbent was running for re-election to Congress, he or she would say the things that people tend to agree with. Kissing babies, advocating for helping little old ladies across the street, upholding the Constitution, you know, the important things. Apparently Vito Fossella wants out of his job representing Staten Island and is determined to let us know it. Fellow Republican Peter King penned an Op-Ed in the NY Daily News today to call for the Democrats to pass a bill that violates the rule of law and our Constitution, all in one shot. How would one go about that? By passing retroactive immunity and lying about the situation to the readers of the Daily News.

From The NY Daily News:

Over the past two months, the House of Representatives has found the time to pass legislation on such pressing issues as establishing a National Watermelon Month and designating 2008 as the International Year of the Reef.

But legislative leaders haven't found time to restore one of the most important tools in the war on terrorism - a tool the Democrats took away from our intelligence officials in February when they failed to modernize the law that governs the surveillance of terrorists overseas.

The clock is ticking with more urgency every day.

Since right after Sept. 11, under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, intelligence agents have had the authority to quickly monitor foreign-to-foreign communications of terrorists without having to first obtain a court order. Knowing in real time exactly what the enemy is going to do has helped foil numerous attacks, including the Heathrow Airport plot last year, which could have claimed the lives of thousands of innocent people.

Yet, 77 days ago, House leaders allowed the law to lapse. There's a clear way to break the deadlock: embrace the Senate bill passed in a bipartisan fashion by the Democratic-controlled Senate. That bill would close the terrorist loopholes, protect our civil liberties and also provide liability protections for the telecommunications companies that have played a key role in helping the government defend our nation since 9/11. We hear lots of talk about bipartisanship these days, but the party in power seems unwilling to practice it on the most pressing national security issue of the moment.

With our pleas for action ignored, we have been forced to take the extraordinary step of organizing a discharge petition. Once a majority of the House signs onto the effort, the bill would bypass normal procedure and go directly to the House floor for a vote. We began circulating the petition last week. So far, 184 members have joined our effort. That's 34 short of the magic number of 218.

So they couldn't even get the signatures of the entire Republican caucus. That is not good for the case, just for starters. The statements up above and in the rest of the Op-Ed are arguments of the worst sort, meaning false and misleading. First off, passing Watermelon Month does not tear away at our system of laws and open, accountable government. Passing the old Senate legislation to let telco companies off the hook would.

They also fail to mention that anti-terrorism activity is still on going and will do so for several more months. There is plenty of time to allow for legislation that will continue protecting Americans while holding those that acted illegally along with the President in monitoring American citizens without using the proper channels, such as obtaining court orders. When you spy for the President and you feel good about your culpability in the matter, then let the case go to trial and stop hiding behind George Bush.

Peter King and Vito Fossella try to dismiss themselves of being fearmongers, but that is exactly what they are doing. It is written throughout the Op-Ed. They do not care for following the rule of law and are willing accomplices to letting George Bush, AT&T, Verizon, etc go free from prosecution that they so justly deserve. That makes them criminals too and for that both need to be kicked out of office by the people that live in their district.

I would love to see Peter King lose in November, but the demographics in that part of Long Island are not in our favor yet. However in Staten Island, there is a sea change going on and we have a great opportunity to show Fossella the door. If you disagree with the Republicans desire to revamp FISA to let Bush and telecommunication giants, then it is time to come together and rid Staten Island of the stench Vito Fossella creates in the Borough, New York City and in the Congress itself.

Five Years And We Don't Even Know What The Mission Is

Today is the five year mark since George Bush went to San Diego to stand on an aircraft carrier. He had it positioned specifically to make him look good. It was a dog and pony show that had him land on a fighter with his unearned flight suit on. The press loved it and most Americans cheered him on. The banner above his head, "Mission Accomplished" was supposed to look good for the day, but it has endured as a symbol of his failure as a President and his terrible decision to lead us into Iraq. Now that five years has passed since that day, things have only gotten worse, and we still have no idea what the mission is.

From The Huffington Post:

"Major combat operations in Iraq have ended," Bush said at the time. "The battle of Iraq is one victory in a war on terror that began on Sept. 11, 2001, and still goes on." The "Mission Accomplished" banner was prominently displayed above him _ a move the White House came to regret as the display was mocked and became a source of controversy.

After shifting explanations, the White House eventually said the "Mission Accomplished" phrase referred to the carrier's crew completing its 10-month mission, not the military completing its mission in Iraq. Bush, in October 2003, disavowed any connection with the "Mission Accomplished" message. He said the White House had nothing to do with the banner; a spokesman later said the ship's crew asked for the sign and the White House staff had it made by a private vendor.

"President Bush is well aware that the banner should have been much more specific and said `mission accomplished' for these sailors who are on this ship on their mission," White House press secretary Dana Perino said Wednesday. "And we have certainly paid a price for not being more specific on that banner. And I recognize that the media is going to play this up again tomorrow, as they do every single year."

That's right, the media will play it up, but they should be talking about it every single day until we build up enough pressure to end the occupation of Iraq. The President likes to play politics with symbols, so he should have already gotten used to the majority of the country remembering what he has done to us by illegally starting a war with misleading propaganda and violating the Constitution. He may think it is unfair to continue to use that banner, but if life were fair, George would be in jail.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Reliable Sources Covers The Pentagon Propaganda Story....Sort Of

To be fair to Howard Kurtz, he did discuss the military's propaganda effort story on Reliable Sources this week. Unfortunately though we have one former military official turned TV analyst and an ex-Pentagon spokesman. Perhaps Kurtz should have given equal time to.....gee I don't know, maybe an unbiased opinion for this segment?

The Real "Wright" Problem

Thanks to Reverend Wright and the media's appetite for the ridiculous coverage surrounding him, the nation must continue to endure this manufactured controversy surrounding Barack Obama. Some polls are showing that he is slipping a bit in North Carolina and that this is attributable to it, but then again polls are polls and nothing really counts like the actual vote that is slowly approaching.

Nevertheless, Hillary Clinton is playing along with the media on this, appearing on one of the most vile Fox News shows, The O'Reilly Factor. In the episode the not-so-covert racist continues to harp on the Wright effect and Hillary happily plays along. Though one must wonder if there is something deeper going on in the media and conservative circles that buzz on about Obama's relationship with Wright. What might that be?

From Too Sense:

I'm sure you've seen the video of Obama denoucning Wright yesterday, and the emerging narrative seems to be that Obama wasn't forceful enough when he said this:

You know, I have been a member of Trinity United Church of Christ since 1992. I have known Reverend Wright for almost 20 years. The person I saw yesterday was not the person that I met 20 years ago. His comments were not only divisive and destructive, but I believe that they end up giving comfort to those who prey on hate and I believe that they do not portray accurately the perspective of the black church.

They certainly don't portray accurately my values and beliefs. And if Reverend Wright thinks that that's political posturing, as he put it, then he doesn't know me very well. And based on his remarks yesterday, well, I may not know him as well as I thought, either

Of course he wasn't. What people want is not for Obama to denounce Wright, but to denounce black people everywhere who have the gall to be angry at America for how they are and have been treated. What they wanted Obama to say was that racism is uneqivocally a black problem, that white people have moved past it but that black people cling to greivances as an excuse for out of wedlock births, unemployment, or incarceration.

It doesn't matter that rhetorically and policy-wise, Obama has struck the right balance between personal and governmental responsibility. It doesn't matter that he's confronted black anti-Semitism, black homophobia, black apathy. When Obama dared to mention that white people might harbor irrational prejudices of their own--he was pilloried by conservatives and liberals everywhere who don't want to feel guilty suspecting every black teenager of being a drug dealer for "throwing his grandmother under the bus."

It really does boil down to that fear in the dominant white portion of society that does not want to accept their responsibility for racial inequalities in our nation. It is the same thing that triggers the decision for the cops in the Sean Bell trial, for Internal Affairs letting the LAPD off for racial profiling and it goes on and on. As long as the dominant white society does not come to grips with the inequality that continues in our country, this crap will go on indefinitely.

For now, those that pull the strings at the very top will continue to exploit people like Reverend Wright to keep the bottom 90 percent down by fracturing us along racial and gender lines while they hold on to the majority of power in the United States. That is the sad reality we must confront head on and destroy.

Sean Bell Is Everywhere

Last week headlines were made in New York, across the country and around the world when the justice system failed a dead young man and his grieving family. Sean Bell was brutally killed by three undercover cops. They shot him 50 times when he had done nothing wrong. The verdict issued cleared his murderers and the message heard loud and clear in society was that it is o.k. for cops to randomly kill minorities and that they can get off.

Of course it wasn't just his murder, it is a system wide problem. New York has race relation issues as does the rest of the country. Just this week in Los Angeles the Internal Affairs of the LAPD proclaimed that 320 reports of racial profiling had no merit to them. When it was reported to the commission, minority members were perplexed that not one incident had merit to it, nor had many others throughout the years. The cops had the audacity to say that they took offense at the suggestion there might be racism in the police force. What a joke. Their ignorance of the problems in the LAPD and police forces nationwide is a smack in the face to the millions of people that are victimized by the system every single day.

All of this, from Sean Bell to the LAPD, only deepens the mistrust of the police. If there is to be any progress in regards to race relations and the police in the United States, we are going to need just a shred of honesty from the leadership within law enforcement.

Hop On Board The Double-Talk Express

Thanks to a new spin on VH1's Pop-Up video, it looks like McCain's bus needs a new paint job to reflect what he says out on the campaign:

Bush Gives Our Troops The Finger

How I'd love to see a picture of Bush flipping the troops off, because it would compliment the policies towards them that he endorses. The President is asking for another chunk of change to "fight" the war in Iraq. That chunk is $108 billion, not a penny more and not one less. He does not want to see Democrats passing legislation that would help our troops receive college educations after their service and he definitely does not want to help pay for the war he is pushing for one moment after he leaves office. That means the next President would have to request funding the moment he gets into office. George really is a piece of work.

From the AP:

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Bush and Democrats controlling Congress continued on course toward a veto confrontation Tuesday as Bush said he would veto any attempt to add a popular veteran benefits bill to his $108 billion war funding request.

Bush's hard line in a Rose Garden news conference could virtually assure a veto of the hotly contested war funding bill. Democrats are likely to add extended unemployment benefits and new education funding for post-Sept. 11 veterans to the war funding bill, along with a few other add-ons.

When asked about the popular plan to increase education benefits for troops returning from Iraq, however, Bush held firm.

"I made my position very clear to Congress and I will not accept a supplemental over $108 billion or a supplemental that micromanages the war, ties the hands of our commanders," Bush said. "We will work with Congress on these veterans' benefits .... But the $108 billion is $108 billion."

As we know from the President's past attempts at bipartisanship, "We will work with Congress" means that its Bush's way or no way. $108 billion means more contracts for war profiteers like Halliburton and Blackwater. It means more dead and wounded soldiers. It means more death and chaos across the country of Iraq. It means continuing down a dead end street.

This time we need the Congress to hold firm and resist the President. Of course, we needed them to be strong for the last few times in the last year and a half, so I'm not holding my breath.

NYC Landlords Looking To Screw Renters Deep Into Their Pockets Next Year

New York City hasn't been known for cheap real estate in quite some time. Buying a place is ridiculously expensive and rental prices are looking to try and match those that pay mortgages. Economists have told those who own real estate that renting is becoming more fiscally sound, but if the Rent Guidelines Board has its way, they'll be changing their financial planning tune.

From The Gothamist:

This year, landlords will be asking for 10% hikes for 1-year leases and 15% increases for 2-year leases. Last year, rents hikes were approved for 3% on 1-year leases and 5.75% on 2-year leases (in 2006, the hikes were 4.25% and 7.25%). Landlords point to rising fuel and other costs, but tenants say landlords are still making a lot of money and plan to fight the hike.

While many New Yorkers don't have rent stabilized apartments, the increases reflect real market concerns. Congressman Anthony Weiner--who is eying a run for Mayor next year--says almost one in three New Yorkers pays at least 50% of the income to landlords. Weiner said, "You should spend no more than a third of your income on rent. That is [now] seen more and more not like a rule of thumb, but a pipe dream." And last year, another possible 2009 mayoral candidate, Comptroller William Thompson, sent a letter imploring the Rent Guidelines Board not to raise rents.

Politicians are good at kicking and screaming for their constituents but recently have not done much in terms of actual results (remember the MTA fare hike a few months ago?). I do not want anyone to implore the RGB to do anything, I want it done to them. Rental prices are rising astronomically and it needs to stop. The glut and greed of landlords is ridiculous and we as a city let them get away with it. What we need to do is start calling the RGB, packing their hearings and demanding fair terms. A ten percent rise is hardly fair, it should be criminal.

Obama Is Correct On The Gas Tax

Eighteen cents a gallon isn't much of a savings, but economists agree that the short term benefit will produce long term shortfalls for our nation's infrastructure. McCain and Clinton are simply pandering on this issue, while Obama is being honest with the American people.

The Super Delegates Have Decided, Sorry Hillary

First I have to apologize, I am not sorry for Hillary Clinton. I am glad that the superdelegates have decided who they will endorse, even though they are waiting until the primaries are over. One more month and that is that. Senator Clinton has done nothing but tear our party apart with her Rovian tactics that have only one objective, to tear down Barack Obama. He has had to try ever-so-hard to rise above the mud she dishes at him while she continues unabated with her slash and burn campaign tactics (not to mention the new illegal one). Nevertheless, Senator Obama is gaining in super delegates (as well as pledged) but the crucial votes are coming in about a month's time.

From RawStory:

"Capitol Hill insiders say the battle for congressional superdelegates is over, and one Senate supporter of Barack Obama is hinting strongly that he has prevailed over Hillary Rodham Clinton," Politico's Amie Parnes and Josephine Hearn report Wednesday. "While more than 80 Democrats in the House and Senate have yet to state their preferences in the race for the Democratic nomination, sources said Tuesday that most of them have already made up their minds and have told the campaigns where they stand."

"The majority of superdelegates I've talked to are committed, but it is a matter of timing," Obama backer Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) told Parnes and Hearn. "They're just preferring to make their decision public after the primaries are over. ... They would like someone else to act for them before they talk about it in the cold light of day."

Asked which way the committed-but-unannounced superdelegates are leaning, McCaskill quipped: "James Brown would say, 'I Feel Good.'"

Now that is music to my ears.

Good Riddance To Lurita Doan

What should have happened last year has finally come to pass. General Services Administration head Lurita Doan is being shown the door long after her abuses of power had come to light. If you recall, she let endorsed political activities (for Republicans naturally) and held them in her offices at the taxpayers' expense. This of course is illegal, just google the Hatch Act to find out. Congressman Waxman told her to resign last year but she refused, showing that even the tough-talking reformers couldn't do anything against the ruthless contempt for the law shown by the Bush Administration. Even though her term is over, she did leave stating the typical BS that any corrupt bureaucrat loves to spout.

From The Politico:

"Dear Friends and Colleagues at GSA,

Early this evening I was asked to submit my resignation, and I have just done so. It has been a great privilege to serve with all of you and to serve our nation and a great President.

The past twenty-two months have been filled with accomplishments: together, we have regained our clean audit opinion, restored fiscal discipline, re-tooled our ability to respond to emergencies, rekindled entrepreneurial energies, reduced bureaucratic barriers to small companies to get a GSA Schedule, ignited a building boom at our nation’s ports of entries, boldly led the nation in an aggressive telework initiative, and improved employee morale so that we were selected as one of the best places to work in the Federal government.

These accomplishments are made even more enjoyable by the fact that there were lots of people who told us they could never be done.

Best of luck to all of you, it has been a true honor."

Honor? Honor?!? There is no such thing in the Bush Administration. Never has been, never will. It is truly one big farce.

Brooklyn's Cherry Blossons

From start to finish, they are beautiful:

Reform Day Sweeps Albany

Yesterday dozens of us from across the state converged on our state capitol to demand reform from our lawmakers. We went in wanting an independent body to determine redistricting, new ethics reforms (so needed), rules reform (so that the leadership no longer holds all the power) and campaign finance reform. Everyone was excited, even our own leader Susan Lerner who was beset with the flu. Those of us who joined in from Democracy for New York City and Citizen Action were particularly engaged with the campaign finance portion and we sported our union-bug buttons and posters accordingly.

Heading up there we were well aware of Governor Paterson saying that campaign finance was probably not going any this session. Granted he is still finding his way up there as the new chief executive in Albany, so we thought he just needed some help in doing so. After a carbilicious breakfast of muffins and scones, we heard reform-laden appeals from Minority Leader Malcolm Smith, Comptroller DiNapoli and my favorite, Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. He spoke with the most passion and has shown his commitment with such works as Project Sunlight.

After the speakers and a boxed lunch, we all headed to the long security lines to go lobby the legislators that agreed to meet with us. Time was exceedingly short since every single visitor had to go through the checkpoint with only one line operating and the guards were especially vigilant with all the little old ladies milling about.

Our first legislator was Senator Eric Schneiderman (D-Bronx). Eric has been an incredible fighter for progressive causes. Unfortunately his outspoken attitude has gotten him into trouble with the leadership. Thankfully for all of us, that is why we were there, to fight on the behalf of elected officials that stand up for things that are right instead of what the powers that be consider the right thing to do.

Next our group met up and went over to Assemblyman Dinowitz's (D-Bronx) office. He wasn't around, so we spoke with his legislative aide, who didn't seem to know much. Maybe he was new at his job, who knows? The one thing he did know was the fight over congestion pricing. You could tell by his tone and language that it was nice for his office not to have voted, despite being vocally opposed (being in the north Bronx and all). For some reason though, he couldn't argue that elected officials are held accountable in the best way by showing their support for their beliefs by voting one way or another. That is the way it should be, despite the way the majority caucus may feel at times. That is why we need rules reform.

Last but not least, we sat down with my very own Assemblyman, Brian Kavanagh (D-Manhattan). There was no need to lobby him, he already passionately believes in what we are doing and ran on those ideals when he came to Albany two years ago. He told us that because of the strict leadership, junior members get a paltry $70,000 for their entire staff. How is it that these members can do constituent work when the senior members are getting $500,000 to $700,000 a piece? It doesn't work, and it shows Albany is broken. Change is desperately needed in our capitol. By keeping up the fight, talking to your neighbors and most certainly your legislators, that determination will eventually win the day.

And before you write this off, on our way back to NYC, we heard that the Governor himself spoke in favor of a campaign finance bill in the Assembly. He knows it is doomed in the Republican-controlled Senate this year, and that is why it would make an excellent stand for us to show New York it is time to take back the Senate to pave the way for true reform in the Empire State.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Hypocrisy Run Amok, Get Chris Matthews Some Help!

As it exists in human nature to some degree, hypocrisy is abundant in the particular area of our world that is politics. It also appears frequently in the media that covers the political world (not to exclude other types of media as well) and tonight Chris Matthews of MSNBC was trying out to be the poster child of hypocritical political pundits and/or "journalists." This is a true classic moment for Tweety.

From Crooks and Liars:

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Chris Matthews took time out of covering fake scandals and reciting GOP narratives on Monday’s Hardball to take a dig at members of the media who attended this year’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner:

“…It’s one thing to gather for events like this in Washington, it’s another one to laugh and applaud - to be charmed when the president puts on a little show. It’s harmless stuff, except that the people yucking it up in that scene are the people who are professionally committed to calling it when the people in power get it wrong.”

Where do I begin? When it comes to boot licking and heaping praise on some of the worst politicians, (current, former AND indicted) pundits and candidates to ever darken Washington D.C., Matthews, the Village Idiot, knows no peer.

Yeah seriously, Matthews is almost in a class by himself when it comes to bootlickers and village idiots. How does he even begin to try and look like some sort of neutral bystander to the crap that the traditional media pulls every day? Does Chris have serious cajones to broach this subject or is he just in need of some serious mental help?

McCain Was For Troop Withdrawal Before Being For It

This was November of last year, then when he became the favored candidate/nominee, he went 180 degrees and called for us to be there indefinitely. John McCain is a serial flip-flopper, where he stops, no one knows.

Solid Support For Clean Elections In New York

It doesn't surprise me that people want corruption out of politics. It isn't a shocker that our government should be transparent to the city, the state or the country. It won't knock the socks off anyone to hear that citizens would love a solution to the problem of money in politics in order to clean up the mess we have (specifically in Albany). What is important though is that Citizen Action of NY commissioned a poll to show our semi-new Governor that we mean business about changing the system.

From The Daily Politics:

Citizen Action of New York, which endorsed Eliot Spitzer for governor and frequently acted as his surrogate during the '06 Democratic gubernatorial primary by hitting Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi on his fundraising tactics, today released a poll it commissioned from Zogby that showed overwhelming support for public financing of campaigns.

In the accompanying press release, Citizen Action declared Gov. David Paterson a "long-time champion" of the Clean Money/Clean Elections plan tested in the poll, noting that the now-governor was the prime sponsor of legislation to enact publicly-financed campaigns from 1989 until he left the Senate to become Spitzer's LG.

Since his ascention to governor, Paterson hasn't mentioned a word about Clean Money/Clean Elections. In fact, the topic of campaign finance reform - an issue that was a serious bone of contention between Spitzer and the Senate Republicans - hasn't come up at all since Paterson's first press conference as governor-in-waiting, 'lo those many weeks ago.

Despite being in the State Senate, Paterson has been a good friend to the progressive community through the years. Representing Harlem should make him into someone that fights for the working class and those that hold left-leaning ideals. Now the Governor has been quite the conciliator lately, starting with the budget. For the budget, I get that most of it was put together before he started, so he gets off for letting the Republicans take as much as they did despite the wishes of the people. Next year should look much better.

Back to clean elections, this is really a no-brainer. It isn't a partisan issue, its a corrupt old-style way of thinking versus one that is accountable to citizens issue. We need reform in New York and its time for Paterson to start moving on getting this passed, so we can start to put the "three men in a room" way of business out of its misery.

Blackwater Is Still Up To No Good In San Diego

Except for maybe Halliburton, Blackwater Worldwide is one of the biggest symbols for war profiteering in America during this on-going war in Iraq. Both make money by exploiting the troops and the American taxpayer. After five years of this mess, people are starting to understand who the main culprits are and Blackwater has been marked. That goes double for San Diego, where residents successfully blocked an outdoor facility on the east side of the county. Well now they are going after another one of Blackwater's attempts at installing more facilities in the area.

From The San Diego Union-Tribune:

OTAY MESA – San Diego officials will challenge Blackwater Worldwide's permit for an indoor military training facility in South County, saying the public didn't know about the plan. “Residents deserve to know when a facility like this is approved – before it is approved,” San Diego City Council President Scott Peters said.

The North Carolina company received a permit in March for a training site in Otay Mesa, an industrial section of south San Diego, shortly after abandoning its controversial proposal to build a larger facility in Potrero in East County.

The city Development Services Department granted the permit without public hearings. The site was already permitted for a vocational school, and city staff members decided Blackwater's training of Navy personnel qualified. The facility will have a shooting range, a simulated Navy ship and classrooms.

Brian Bonfiglio, a Blackwater vice president, said the opposition seems to originate from anti-war sentiment, not animosity toward the facility itself.

First of all approval permits need to be shown to the public before they get the official go-ahead, regardless of who is building what. The fact that Blackwater applied for the permit under a sub-contractors name shows their deceptiveness. Second, A place to train mercenaries isn't exactly what one would call a vocational school. Technically you are learning how to kill for profit, but I doubt that is what the citizens of San Diego have in mind when they think of a place for people to learn a skill. Finally, as for Bonfiglio's remark that this isn't animosity towards the site, he's wrong about that. The site is a symbol of the recklessness that is Blackwater Worldwide's operations and if that happens to be fueled by anti-war sentiment, so be it. Even those that oppose war do not look kindly upon mercenary groups. We are supposed to be supporting soldiers, not for-hire killers.

How Does McCain Really Feel About Martin Luther King

Politicians can promise the world when speaking to an audience of people they want to impress, but what it really comes down to is how they vote on the issues. McCain says he was "informed" on the issue when he voted against the holiday memorializing Martin Luther King, Jr. but that was a mere platitude.

The Abysmal State Of Our National Media

So many problems in our society are at least partially attributed to the sorry state of affairs in our national media. From Washington to New York and Bangor to San Diego, the traditional media has an ever-increasing likelihood of not covering ground breaking news that means something to the American public.

The media is a monolithic institution and sometimes it is hard to show just how bad it is. News stories come and go, politicians who manipulate the system do the same and meanwhile the public at large is shut off from vital information about their country. That is something that could help raise awareness for those that do not see the atrocities of our system day in and day out. Well RFK Jr. and Brendan DeMelle just did a piece for Huffington Post and it is a perfect snap shot of one week in the world. I'd quote it, but you really just need to read this.

War profiteering, corporate spies, the vanishing American salmon population, voter fraud, dead buffalo and the poisoning of our water systems are just a few stories that saw virtually no press. They all deserve to be at the top of the hour and top of the page for every media outlet, yet the news media that is left in our country decides to flop in the mud and muck of what we know now as American politics. Who said what and how come he knows that guy that hates America is what we have become accustomed to. It is a real shame that we have come to this, we deserve so much better.

Literally Praying For Gas Price Relief

As I came back into the city yesterday afternoon, my eyes bulged ever so slightly at the sign advertising $3.50 gas at the New Jersey side approach to the Holland Tunnel. NJ usually has prices on the lower side, so that number was a real shock. Prices have been skyrocketing in the last few years and the tide doesn't look like it will be turning anytime soon. Since our leaders in Washington (especially George Bush) haven't done anything to help consumers out, Rocky Twyman is taking matters into his own hands. More specifically, he's getting it to go into G-d's hands.

From The SF Gate:

Twyman - a community organizer, church choir director and public relations consultant from the Washington, D.C., suburbs - staged a pray-in at a San Francisco Chevron station on Friday, asking God for cheaper gas. He did the same thing in the nation's Capitol on Wednesday, with volunteers from a soup kitchen joining in. Today he will lead members of an Oakland church in prayer.

Yes, it's come to that.

"God is the only one we can turn to at this point," said Twyman, 59. "Our leaders don't seem to be able to do anything about it. The prices keep soaring and soaring."

It isn't that he wants a higher power to strike down those that are integral to the rising prices but for people to pray and keep it simple, whatever that means exactly he doesn't say, only that we need to believe. Although I don't think prayer is the answer to our problem, we could ask ourselves to reduce our consumption and do our part to curb our ridiculous demand on oil. Only then will the oil companies and the oil traders finally begin to be reined in.

Dean Reiterates Dem Primary Solution By June

He said it this morning on Good Morning America, and he'll keep saying it until all the superdelegates understand that we need to unify the party so we will ensure a victory of McCain come November.