Friday, May 16, 2008

Huckabee Jokes About Obama Getting Shot At

Ex-Governor Mike Huckabee really is something else. Even though he was kicked out of the race for the GOP nomination, he is still in the political light here and there. Today he was speaking in front of the gun nuts at the NRA and damn, did he make a terrible reference to their favorite product.

From CNN:

(CNN) – During a speech before the National Rifle Association convention Friday afternoon in Louisville, Kentucky, former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee — who has endorsed presumptive GOP nominee John McCain — joked that an unexpected offstage noise was Democrat Barack Obama looking to avoid a gunman.

“That was Barack Obama, he just tripped off a chair, he's getting ready to speak,” said the former Arkansas governor, to audience laughter. “Somebody aimed a gun at him and he dove for the floor.”


Joking about an assassination attempt on Barack Obama is beneath someone on the national stage. It is appalling to see Huckabee making fun of such an event. Imagine if the shoes were on the other feet and a Democratic figure made a joke about George Bush in the same fashion. How fast would Hannity, O'Reilly and the rest of Fox News jump down the throat of all Democratic party members everywhere.

Huckabee should be rebuked and admonished for his statements. Though in Republican-land, none of that matters because double-standards are their status quo.

Obama Will Make Bush And McCain Answer For Their Foreign Policy

Obama took on President Bush and John McCain in brutal fashion today from a rally in Watertown, South Dakota. While Bush would never have the guts to step into the ring with Barack, pining the failures of George Bush to the future debate opponent John McCain will be an easy task.

Bush Admin Wants Power Plants Next To Nat'l Parks

When I was a kid, my dad took me on a camping trip to Northern California and one day we drove from the east into Yosemite National Park. Snow covered the ground in July and the air was crystal clear, the smell of the redwoods covered in moss were unforgettable. The area with all of the hotels and sights of Halfdome were congested with cars, but not too bad considering where we were. Now as a parting shot from the Bush Administration, that clean air will be replaced by the dirty soot of power plants that are being allowed to be built next door.

From The Washington Post:

The Bush administration is on the verge of implementing new air quality rules that will make it easier to build power plants near national parks and wilderness areas, according to rank-and-file agency scientists and park managers who oppose the plan.

The new regulations, which are likely to be finalized this summer, rewrite a provision of the Clean Air Act that applies to "Class 1 areas," federal lands that currently have the highest level of protection under the law. Opponents predict the changes will worsen visibility at many of the nation's most prized tourist destinations, including Virginia's Shenandoah, Colorado's Mesa Verde and North Dakota's Theodore Roosevelt national parks.

Nearly a year ago, with little fanfare, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed changing the way the government measures air pollution near Class 1 areas on the grounds that the nation needed a more uniform way of regulating emissions near protected areas. The agency closed the comment period in April and has indicated it is not making significant changes to the draft rule, despite objections by EPA staff members.

Wow, now that makes no sense at all. Unifying regulations by wiping them away is a hard pitch to sell. The EPA is not happy about it and neither will the millions of people that visit our national parks every year. Of course, Bush could care less about a soot-covered Half Dome or acid rain at Jackson Hole. As long as his energy industry buddies can make more money, nothing else matters.

McCain Tries To Have Hamas Both Ways

One thing that is for sure when sizing up McCain, you never know what you are going to get from one day to the next. Lately he has been criticizing Barack Obama for wanting to talk to world leaders that we do not see eye to eye with. One such political organization is Hamas and McCain has been consistent on harping on that point. Forget the fact that Reagan made illegal deals with Iran and the current Bush has talked with Syria, McCain has also advocated for talking with (gasp!) Hamas as recently as 2006.

From The Huffington Post:

Two years ago, in an interview with James Rubin for Sky News, Sen. John McCain expressed a willingness to negotiate with the terrorist group Hamas -- the very group that McCain has been relentlessly using to smear Sen. Barack Obama over the last several weeks.

Rubin has written an op-ed in Friday's Washington Post about his exchange with McCain, and The Huffington Post has obtained exclusive video. Here's the key excerpt:

RUBIN: "Do you think that American diplomats should be operating the way they have in the past, working with the Palestinian government if Hamas is now in charge?"

McCAIN: "They're the government; sooner or later we are going to have to deal with them, one way or another, and I understand why this administration and previous administrations had such antipathy towards Hamas because of their dedication to violence and the things that they not only espouse but practice, so . . . but it's a new reality in the Middle East. I think the lesson is people want security and a decent life and decent future, that they want democracy. Fatah was not giving them that."

Hmm, well that doesn't exactly mesh well with the current set of right-wing talking points. Crazy bastards like Kevin James probably wouldn't agree with allowing for democracy if it means allowing Hamas to have political power. McCain and his cheerleaders can't have it both ways. Either you deal with the world in realistic terms or take your delusional fairy tales elsewhere.

Matthews Shreds Kevin James For Not Knowing What He's Talking About

I have to hand it to Chris Matthews for his steadfastness with idiot-winger Kevin James yesterday. James was yelling at the top of his lungs to spout off the newest right wing talking point that George Bush was right in taking a swipe at Obama. This time Matthews isn't having any of it because James has no idea what 'appeasement' means.

The beautiful part starts after 4:00min:

Welcome To America...You Damned Foreigner

Americans are well aware that people from around the world have had their views soured of us. Most of those Americans know that the anger or frustration of the United States has occurred because we as a nation elected*....and re-elected George Bush as our President. The resulting policies that orbit around fear and manipulation piss off a lot of people and in the case of Domenico Salerno, I can definitely see why.

From The NY Times:

He was a carefree Italian with a recent law degree from a Roman university. She was “a totally Virginia girl,” as she puts it, raised across the road from George Washington’s home. Their romance, sparked by a 2006 meeting in a supermarket in Rome, soon brought the Italian, Domenico Salerno, on frequent visits to Alexandria, Va., where he was welcomed like a favorite son by the parents and neighbors of his girlfriend, Caitlin Cooper.

But on April 29, when Mr. Salerno, 35, presented his passport at Washington Dulles International Airport, a Customs and Border Protection agent refused to let him into the United States. And after hours of questioning, agents would not let him travel back to Rome, either; over his protests in fractured English, he said, they insisted that he had expressed a fear of returning to Italy and had asked for asylum.

Ms. Cooper, 23, who had promised to show her boyfriend another side of her country on this visit — meaning Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon — eventually learned that he had been sent in shackles to a rural Virginia jail. And there he remained for more than 10 days, locked up without charges or legal recourse while Ms. Cooper, her parents and their well-connected neighbors tried everything to get him out.

Mr. Salerno’s case may be extreme, but it underscores the real but little-known dangers that many travelers from Europe and other first-world nations face when they arrive in the United States — problems that can startle Americans as much as their foreign visitors.

“We have a lot of government people here and lobbyists and lawyers and very educated, very savvy Washingtonians,” said Jim Cooper, Ms. Cooper’s father, a businessman, describing the reaction in his neighborhood, the Wessynton subdivision of Alexandria. “They were pretty shocked that the government could do this sort of thing, because it doesn’t happen that often, except to people you never hear about, like Haitians and Guatemalans.”

Thats right, because this man was an Italian in a relationship with a white girl in Virginia, this story made it out from an ICE dungeon and onto the pages of the New York Times. This story happens more than we think, but for the most part it isn't reported. That obfuscation of the realities that a substantial number of people traveling to the United States.

So what happened to Domenico?

Ms. Cooper said that at the airport, when she begged to know what was happening to Mr. Salerno, an agent told her, “You know, he should try spending a little more time in his own country.”

Another agent eventually told her to go home because Mr. Salerno was being detained as an asylum-seeker.

That is absolutely ridiculous, and it shows the abuse of power granted in the ICE. It took several days to get Domenico out of jail, including requests from former immigration prosecutors and even a plea from Senator Warner. It took a tremendous amount of powerfully connected help to free this one well-off Italian kid. Imagine what life has to be like for someone who is captured by our authorities that doesn't have people who can get up to bat for them.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Congrats To The Gillibrands On Their New Baby Boy!

Political news can be pretty depressing these days with all of the scandal, corruption and Bush Administration decisions. However once in a while we get some happy news and I'm glad to say it is coming from New York today.

From The Daily Politics:

Congresswoman Kirsten Gillibrand give birth earlier today to a baby boy, a second for Gillibrand and her husband, Jonathan.

Henry Nelson Gillibrand weighs in at 7 lbs., 14 ozs. and 20 inches long. Spokeswoman Rachel McEneny reports that mother and son are resting comfortably at Bethesda Naval Medical Center outside Washington.

The happy event temporarily sidelines Gillibrand, who is the Republicans' top target in congressional elections this fall.

McEneny noted that the congresswoman worked a 13-hour day yesterday, including successfully introducing an amendment to the farm bill.

Now that is what I call a working mom! Congratulations to the proud Democra...I mean parents.

Jon Stewart Takes A Look At That West Virginian Electorate

Disclaimer: These aren't the views of all West Virginians of course, but certainly telling of the attitudes where racism and ignorance collide, no matter what state it is in.

Despite the topic, Jon makes it funny no matter what.

West Virginia Boosts Clinton? Obama Blows That Delegate Gap In Less Than A Day

Hillary Clinton is trying desperately to hang on to some semblance of a credible campaign by claiming a large victory in West Virginia. Percentage-wise she did quite well, beating Obama by more than 40 points. Yet when that is put into the context of a national primary the amount of delegates she won by were erased just today and it is only 2pm on the East Coast.

From DailyKos:

Super Delegates:

Obama +4
Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA)
Larry Cohen, the president of the Communication Workers of America and a super-delegate from D.C.
Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA)
Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA)

Pledged Delegates:

Obama +7 from Edwards' Delegates.
Reportedly the breakdown is
(1) - NH
(6) - SC

Daniel Boan, Christine Brennan-Bond, Robert Groce, Susan Smith, Mike Evatt and Lauren Bilton are the South Carolina Edwards Pledged Delegates confirmed by CNN as supporting Obama.


United Steelworkers Union
Communication Workers of America

Endorsements aren't delegates, but they put the necessary boots on the ground that help win elections. For right now, those 11 delegates negate Hillary's West Virginia win (not that WV doesn't matter, this is context people) and puts Barack Obama that much closer to officially becoming the nominee for the Democratic party.

Fascist Bush Calls Obama A Nazi Sympathizer

George Bush is in Israel today to visit and speak on behalf of Israel's 60th anniversary. Instead of talking about peace and hope (yeah, right!) he dove into his usual bath of pig shit and made a partisan attack 5,500 miles from home. In his sneaky way, he compared Barack Obama to those that appeased the Nazis as they strove for power in the 1930s.

From ThinkProgress:

In his speech, Bush said, “As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: ‘Lord, if only I could have talked to Hitler, all of this might have been avoided.’ We have an obligation to call this what it is – the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history.”[...]

President Bush may want to take up his head-in-the-sand views with his own Defense Secretary. Just yesterday, Robert Gates said the U.S. needs to “sit down and talk with” Iran:

“We need to figure out a way to develop some leverage…and then sit down and talk with them,” Gates said. “If there is going to be a discussion, then they need something, too. We can’t go to a discussion and be completely the demander, with them not feeling that they need anything from us.”

Bush’s cross-continental partisan assault upends the traditional notion that U.S. politics should stop “at the water’s edge.” Reacting to Bush’s comments, Obama issued this statement: “It is sad that President Bush would use a speech to the Knesset on the 60th anniversary of Israel’s independence to launch a false political attack. It is time to turn the page on eight years of policies that have strengthened Iran and failed to secure America or our ally Israel.”

Obama is not going to stand for that below-the-belt crap from George Bush or anyone else. While Bush continues to live in his land of delusion and fairy tales, the (almost) Democratic nominee is going to swipe away anything that Bush or his hoped-for successor John McCain say that uses fear and manipulation like we saw today. The American people are tired of these attacks. We want change and we want it in so many ways. Getting rid of the Republicans in the White House and as many as possible in the Congress is the first step on that road.

Keith Olbermann's Best Special Comment Ever

There have been plenty of good ones before, but last night, Olbermann tore Bush to shreds:

NY City Council Has "Pay To Play" System In Full Gear

Kids can put quarters (or dollar bills now) into an arcade game to play anything from PacMan and Skeeball to Mortal Kombat and Grand Theft Auto. Whatever the amount of desensitization of violence a game may induce, it allows kids to enhance their hand-eye coordination, learning a valuable tool that may or may not be used later in life.

Adults in New York City, especially those with money or in the City Council also know how to play games that involve paying money first. "Pay to Play" is the catchy phrase that means if you fill a politician's campaign coffer, you can expect returns on your investment that would make an honest financial planner's eyes boggle. Of course the losers in this are the taxpayers, but plenty of people in our City Council really do not care about that.

From The NY Sun:

A council member who represents parts of Queens and is running for comptroller, David Weprin, for example, has collected thousands of dollars in donations linked to outside groups he has supported with tax dollars, according to a review by The New York Sun of the city’s Campaign Finance Board database and the council’s list of member items in a public document, Schedule C.

Mr. Weprin, who co-sponsored a $40,000 council grant to the Joyce Theater Foundation in Manhattan last year, pulled in $1,500 in campaign contributions for his 2009 citywide race from the foundation’s board chairman, Stephen Weinroth. Public matching funds from the city’s Campaign Finance Board mean that the donation will net Mr. Weprin’s campaign a total of $2,550.

The chairwoman of the Bella Abzug Leadership Institute, Erica Forman, donated $500 to Mr. Weprin’s campaign in December, netting his campaign $1,550 when combined with public matching funds. Mr. Weprin helped steer $35,000 to the Bella Abzug Institute last year.

A developer who is the co-chairman of Friends of Hudson River Park, Douglas Durst, donated $2,100 to Mr. Weprin for his 2009 campaign, and previously gave the council member $1,500 for earlier campaigns. Last year, Mr. Weprin, along with two council members from Manhattan, co-sponsored an $88,000 grant to the park group.

The donations have helped Mr. Weprin, who is chairman of the council’s finance committee, raise more than $1.5 million for his campaign for comptroller, according to the Campaign Finance Board’s most recent figures.

Of course Mr. Durst says that those donations have nothing to do with all of the generous donations that he gave to Weprin. I'm sure that Scott Stringer, Comptroller Thompson, Speaker Quinn, and her fellow council members Gioia, Gonzales and Katz would all agree with that as well, since they have all gotten money from Mr. Durst.

The atmosphere of corruption is all around us, yet this probably sits just well with many a conscience in City Hall. At first you get there and the stench is overwhelming, and then you get used to it and then you work with it and become part of the system. Term limits does not seem to be working here, because the pols simply play a massive game of musical chairs and run for other things. Perhaps they should go back to the arcade, where they can play games without messing around with the taxpayers' dime for those write checks to their campaigns.

Bush Lied About Not Playing Golf

George Bush did an interview two days ago that yet again managed to insult millions of Americans. If he has one talent, that would be it. So how did he do it this time? By not playing golf anymore, he thought that he would be in solidarity with the troops and their families that lost their loved ones in Iraq. It is a sick, sad and repulsive comment to make, that somehow not playing golf makes it all o.k. and that the grieving families even care. The problem with it though, is that it isn't true.

From The Washington Post:

Not only is it a hollow, trivial sacrifice at best, Bush's story doesn't hold water. While he dates his decision to abjure golf to Aug. 19, 2003 -- the day a truck bomb in Baghdad killed U.N. special representative Sergio Vieira de Mello and more than a dozen others -- the Associated Press reported on Oct. 13, 2003, that he'd spent a "cool, breezy Columbus Day" playing "a round of golf with three long-time buddies.

"Bush played at Andrews Air Force Base with Clay Johnson, Office of Management and Budget deputy director, Richard Hauser, Department of Housing and Urban Development general counsel and another friend, Mike Wood."

On that outing, he was typically full of what passes for good humor at the White House. The AP reported: "'Fine looking crew you got there. Fine looking crew,' Bush joked to reporters. 'That's what we'd hope for presidential coverage. Only the best.'

"He hit a couple of practice balls before flaring his tee-off shot into the right rough."

It is a lot like his Presidency, right from the start he was off course...and he never looked back.

What solidarity might have been like under a President with a warm-blooded heart would have shown a leader who went to funerals of the soldiers he sent to war. A President that wasn't as shallow as a puddle of standing water next to the gutter would have made sure he provided everything the troops needed. A President that used just ten neurons in his brain might have not said "Bring Em' On" to enrage those that were fighting our soldiers in Iraq. A President who cared about his country more than the desire make his friends wealthy wouldn't have started this boondoggle of a disaster in the first place.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

John Edwards' Endorsement Speech

What an orator:

Sometimes I miss him being a candidate, especially when I see him up in front of the crowd. However, we are where we are and we must press on to make sure the best candidate wins the White House this year. John Edwards did his part of that bargain when he stepped up to the mic this evening.

The Water Wars Are Coming Soon

Although it is not widely known in the general populace of the west, more than one billion people do not have access to fresh water and sanitation problems exist for one out of every three people. Even when that statistic is read to westerners, it is processed with a sigh, a compassionate thought or two and then dismissed until somebody brings it up again, though each time jades the listener that much more. The problem with this is that just because water problems exist in the third world, it doesn't mean they can't come here.

In the Southeastern United States, people in Florida and Georgia got a good wakeup call to what happens with water shortages. There were no actual wars over this commodity, but tensions were definitely raised. Now it is happening again in Western Europe, specifically in regions of Spain. Things are not looking good there at all.

From The Guardian:

Already Barcelona's authorities have turned off civic fountains and beachside showers, brought in hosepipe bans, and banned the filling of swimming pools. Schoolchildren are being taught how to save water.

"We are only too aware of the crisis with the water as they have been giving my daughters classes for months on how to save water and only to use what they need," said city resident Begoña Gómez, 43, as she sipped a glass of bottled water. "But we need better management of water by the government."

As the reservoirs across Spain run dry, a "water war" has broken out, with different regions scrabbling for extra supplies.

The Socialist government, which initially opposed water transfers from one region to another, executed a political U-turn and allowed water to be pumped into Catalonia from the river Ebro in the neighbouring region of Aragon.

The move infuriated southern regions such as Murcia and Valencia, which asked for similar concessions. Both are significant agricultural areas, with a busy tourist season about to start, and expect their water supplies to be hit hard.

Both areas, run by the opposition conservative Popular party, claim Spain's Socialist prime minister José Luis Rodrìguez Zapatero denied their requests for water transfers for political reasons.

Today arguments are played out at a national political level. However in the future as the water shortages get worse and worse, things have the ability to get out of hand. Water is the most important life-giving resource and people will fight to the death over it. This isn't some crazy conspiracy theory either, or else the military wouldn't be seriously considering the potential scenarios and battles that lie ahead.

Here It Comes, Edwards Makes His Endorsement Official!

Another nail is about to be driven into the coffin that holds Hillary Clinton's Presidential campaign. With the flood of superdelegates coming into Obama's camp, this thing has been looking more and more cooked since last week's primary and despite Clinton's win yesterday in West Virginia, this endorsement will wash away any positive coverage she might have gotten from it.

Marc Ambinder has the details:

I don't know if John Edwards is endorsing Barack Obama today.

Here are some hints, though.

So who's staffing Edwards today? A hint: this is Jennifer Palmieri's out-of-office message...

I will be out of the office on Wednesday, May 14. But will be checking messages intermittently. If you need assistance in the meantime, please contact [REDACTED] at [REDACTED].org for assistance.

Ms. Palmieri is a family favorite and has been called upon to staff the Edwards family at sensitive events before.

What's Wendy Button, Edwards's longtime speechwriter, been doing lately? I hear she's been writing a secret speech... (Her facebook profile includes this entry for 3pm: "Wendy just finished writing the speech.")

How come Edwards's brain trust -- all of them -- are unreachable?

Obama is touting a big endorsement coming up this evening and it seems that the cat is out of the bag now. Edwards' made the rumor machine hum last week with his minor slip up on Morning Joe, but when he steps out on stage to make it official, it makes the reality of who the nominee just that much more set in stone.

Oh and the Clinton campaign says this is bad (genius!) but they'll move past it. Where they'll be moving to exactly....they didn't elaborate on that.

Colbert Has His Own O'Reilly Tirade History

After the old video of O'Reilly going beserk came out yesterday, it appears that Stephen Colbert also had an outburst way back when.

He truly does emulate Poppa Bear!

Dana Perino Caught Lying About Pentagon's Fifth Column

I may only be in my twenties, but out of all the White House Press Secretaries I've seen, Dana Perino is one of the worst. It has to be hard for her to continually spew the Bush Administration's garbage day in, day out. Unfortunately for her, if you tell enough lies, the dam holding back the truth will eventually spring a leak. One leak that Eric Brewer of RawStory found concerns the Pentagon's once-secret program to spread their propaganda about the war throughout the media.

From RawStory:

I had repeated my question as she walked away from the podium, "Did the White House know about the program?" And on her way out of the room, Perino answered, "I just said: no."

(I just rechecked my own tape recording of the briefing, and that is what she said. I apologize profusely for leaving this crucial detail out of my earlier article.)

Of course, in her earlier answer, she really hadn't just said no—she'd said only, "I didn't know." But her denial of White House knowledge during that parting shot is very interesting, for reasons that Greenwald points out in the same post I linked to above: Glenn publishes emails from Pentagon officials dealing with the military analyst program that refer to weekly meetings with "karl," to having the analysts briefed by Bush's National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley, and even to getting the analysts "in with potus" himself (that's POTUS, or the President of the United States). As Glenn sums up, rather understatedly I believe:

So in the process of discussing how to keep "their" TV military analysts "on message" regarding claims about the Iraq war, they talked about efforts to have both Stephen Hadley and Bush himself speak with the analysts -- proposals that had been discussed with "karl" (which, clearly, in this case, means Rove). That means Perino's denial was false and that the White House had at least some knowledge of and involvement in this propaganda program.

Uh oh. Dana has denied something that is clearly true. And it's looking more and more as if the legal opinion that she expressed about the Pentagon's propaganda program, "I don't think that that should be against the law," is just whistling in the dark.

Uh oh is right. This is another incident in the history of the Bush Administration where the law was willfully broken. Sometimes they get caught, sometimes not. The terrible thing is that none of them are in jail for it, where they belong.

Racism Still Alive And Well In The U.S.

America is known to have a racist past, but our history books try to tell us that all the bad stuff stopped with Martin Luther King. Of course those of us with our heads not stuck in the sand know differently. Racism in America is still prevalent, it merely took another form, but sometimes it makes itself readily apparent and brutally shocking to the many that abhor this attitude that skin color has anything to do with anything.

From The Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

Marietta bar owner Mike Norman says the T-shirts he's peddling, featuring a look-a-like of cartoon chimp Curious George peeling a banana, with "Obama in '08" underneath, are not meant to offend.

Norman acknowledged the imagery's Jim Crow roots but said he sees nothing wrong with depicting a prominent African-American as a monkey.[...]

Marietta native Pam Lindley, 47, joined the protest after reading about the controversy online.

"I don't want people to think this is what Marietta is all about," she added, motioning towards the tavern. "This is what some people think the South is still like. Marietta's come a long way but I guess it's still got a little ways to go."

She said she'd like to see the city ban Norman's provocative musings regularly posted on a sign out front of the bar, which is near Marietta's downtown square. The loosely formed coalition of civil rights activists who gathered Tuesday say they will continue their campaign against Norman's "hate speech."

But his defenders are just as resolute. Mulligan's is a refuge, they say, in an otherwise hypersensitive world. Here, smoking isn't only allowed, it's expected.

"This place is a diamond in the rough," said Gene McKinley, a Woodstock engineer. "People here are genuine and honest. It's the one place I can go without having to worry if I'm offending someone."

That would be code for "I'm free to be my racist self."

Of course Norman is free to sell that crap, but it is a sad state of affairs that the blatantly racist t-shirts are selling so well. It is worse than the newspapers' poll that more than 38% of the people who voted thought the shirts were perfectly fine.

America has come a long way from Jim Crow, but the road ahead is also an arduous trek.

Holy War Joe Lieberman Gets A Pass From The Media

Thanks to Cenk for pointing this ridiculousness out to us:

It will be a happy day when Lieberman is stripped of all his power in the Senate, it can't come soon enough.

All-You-Can-Eat Pork Barrel Spending Fest In Albany

For every little good thing that comes out of our state government, there seems to be several bad or depressing items right behind it. The amount of pork is certainly a big part of that negative equation and our elected representatives are making sure it gets spread around, despite massive budget cuts elsewhere. To the three men in the room, putting member's names on small projects is more useful than system-wide fixes for education, infrastructure and the overall health of the state's economy.

From The NY Times:

ALBANY — While state analysts are forecasting lean times, lawmakers are bankrolling what some see as a bumper crop of pork.

Late Tuesday, the Senate approved $350 million worth of capital projects. At the direction of Senate Republicans, the state will be spending $5 million to pay for buses at private or parochial schools, $1 million to finance an archival depository at the Center for Jewish History in Manhattan and $500,000 for the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.

“These economic development projects will continue our successful partnership among the private sector, higher education and state government to help create new jobs and retain the highly skilled work force necessary to sustain future economic growth,” the Senate majority leader, Joseph L. Bruno, said in a statement.

What Bruno means by sustaining economic growth is that the 'pay to play' culture in Albany will continue as it has for a long time now. We wouldn't want to actually invest in our state as a whole when legislators can get big campaign checks from a specified amount of donors that are able to capitalize on their contribution to state politics, right? This is why we need to get rid of Bruno and everyone else like him with a real reform package that includes clean elections. It is a must if we ever want to see a real improvement in how our tax dollars are managed in the Empire State.

November Is Going To Be A Bloodbath For Republicans

Two years ago, against all expectations, the Democratic party surged in the midterm elections and stunningly took back control of the House and Senate with huge victories. However, that might have just been a preview of what is to come. We won't know how many more seats the Republicans will lose this time around, but there are plenty of clues hanging around right now in May. Yesterday's giant hint was Democratic candidate Travis Childers' victory in the first district of Mississippi.

From The LA Times:

The victory puts Childers into the House seat vacated by Roger Wicker, a Republican appointed to the U.S. Senate when Trent Lott resigned. The win also gives the Democrats a 236-199 majority in the House -- if only for a few months, until November's general elections.

With 99% of the precincts reporting, Childers had 54% to Republican Greg Davis' 46%.

Earlier this year, Democrats captured the Illinois district long represented by former Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, who resigned. And earlier this month, Democrats claimed a Louisiana seat that Republican Rep. Richard H. Baker had relinquished.

In Mississippi, the Republican Party sought to link Childers to Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). The party had tried a similar strategy against the Democrat in Louisiana.

That strategy has not worked and will not work, no matter where the Republicans try it out. Voters are sick of the Republicans and their tired messages of fear and manipulation. Obama represents hope for a new day after the several miserable years of George Bush. This solidly southern district gave George Bush 63% four years ago, they gave Wicker 65% two years ago and now it is in our hands.

That my friends, speaks volumes.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Chris Matthews: Chief Of The Baboons

Chris Matthews is a serious douchebag. Every time he gets in front of that camera I cringe for what is about to come out of his mouth.

Tonight was no different:

First he talks about not making elitist comments (which he does all the time) and then makes an absurd comparison of Hillary Clinton and Al Sharpton! I don't know who should be more offended, Al or Hillary. What I do know is that Chris is a blowhard and comments like this confirm it.

West Virginia Is Over, Keep Your Eye On The Golf Ball

Hillary Clinton won tonight in West Virginia, a state with 28 delegates at stake. Meanwhile Clinton trails Obama by approximately 170 delegates after tonight's totals are added in. That means that the primary race is over and it is time to get down to business. John McCain is the target and he must be shown to the electorate for who he really is. Who is he? Quite simply, he is running for Bush's third term. Right now we are in the second term, hopefully the last. Just today #43 told us all the great sacrifice he has made for our troops.

Is this
what we want more of?

"I don't want some mom whose son may have recently died to see the commander in chief playing golf," he said. "I feel I owe it to the families to be in solidarity as best as I can with them. And I think playing golf during a war just sends the wrong signal."

Bush said he made that decision after the August 2003 bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad, which killed Sergio Vieira de Mello, the top U.N. official in Iraq and the organization's high commissioner for human rights.

Thats right, his big sacrifice is giving up golf. Wow, what a guy.

Do we really need another waste of space in the Oval Office that makes shallow gestures while his actions dictate the deaths of thousands upon thousands of soldiers and civilians?

You know the answer to that already, so what we need is a full-out effort to make sure our nominee puts McCain in his place for all of America to see before they cast their ballots on November 4th, 2008.

Clinton Wins West Virginia, Obama Already Won The Race

Hillary Clinton is claiming victory tonight in the state of West Virginia as the votes come in at the early hour of 8:40pm. Even though the tally is one percent of the precincts reporting thus far, it is pretty safe to say that the Senator from New York beat Senator Obama fair and square here today. Nevertheless, this is a 50 state race (plus Guam, American Samoa, Puerto Rico and Dems Abroad) and it is the sum of these parts that counts. With the added mess of superdelegates, that is how we determine our nominee.

Clinton may receive in upwards of 70% of the votes tonight, but that would only translate into taking 10 delegates off of Obama's lead. If you haven't taken a look at the counter lately, you can see he is closing in on 1,900 delegates and after his totals are rung up tonight, he should be within 150 of a majority of all delegates. When that happens, it is over and time for the other candidate to step aside.

She doesn't have to go home, we'd love her support as we press on towards November, but enough is enough with the ugly, race-baiting and divisive campaign tricks. It is time to heal, come together, sing kumbaya, whatever it takes to have a unified party as we work on beating John McCain.

Sen. Eric Adams Displays The PistolCam

Now this is a bright idea:

Whatever it takes to prevent another tragedy like that that befell Sean Bell, if this works, then that is fantastic. He's right, if we can put cameras on street corners and buildings, then we certainly can put them on the guns of cops.

Pentagon Propaganda Machine Caught In The Act

Most of what the Pentagon says to the press is propaganda, but sometimes its hard to tell when they are just trying to be boastful or purposefully deceitful. The Pentagon Propaganda story has been deliberatively hidden by the traditional media and for good reason (because they played along and are culpable for bowing down for the Pentagon). Now via a special document dump, there is at least one email proving that something fishy is going on.

From ThinkProgress:

In a Feb. 16, 2006 email exchange, Pentagon media staffers discussed coordinating with the Heritage Foundation to identify someone to speak about detainee treatment at Gitmo. An anonymous employee suggested retired Army Sergeant Major Steve Short because “he seems to be on message and very articulate.”

Pentagon public affairs official Allison Barber responded by warning that the DoD could not officially “endorse” one particular speaker over another. “Important to remember that heritage can invite anyone to present and that we don’t really have an opinion on anyone,” Barber wrote.

The anonymous author then suggested he or she might lie and pretend not to have ever heard of Short:

Just two weeks after this email exchange — on March 1, 2006 — Short was invited by Heritage to participate on a panel entitled “GITMO: What You Read Vs. What You See.” And he was indeed “on message.”

Surely that is just a coincidence. Short wouldn't deliberatively lie to his faithful choir at the Heritage Foundation, would he? And there is no way that the press would follow their lead like a little puppy does its new friend that pours food into the kibble tray, right?


Dahroug To Get Competition For Trunzo's Seat?

Jimmy Dahroug has been committed for some time now to oust Caesar Trunzo from New York's 3rd State Senate District. Taking back that Long Island seat from the Republicans gets us one of the two seats needed to kick Joe Bruno from his Majority Leader post so that we can start to set Albany straight once and for all. However that race might become a little more complicated if Brian Foley jumps in to challenge Dahroug in a Democratic primary.

From Newsday:

State Senate Minority Leader Malcolm Smith, escalating efforts to oust Republican Sen. Caesar Trunzo of Brentwood, showed up in Suffolk County last week to personally enlist Brookhaven Supervisor Brian Foley to run against the veteran 36-year lawmaker.

Smith met with Foley and Suffolk Democratic chairman Richard Schaffer Friday at party headquarters in Bohemia for more than hour after Senate Democrats did a pollthat party sources say showed Foley would make a strong contender against Trunzo.

"If Brian chooses to run he would be the strongest candidate Caesar Trunzo ever faced and Caesar would be hard-pressed to hold the seat against someone of Brian's caliber," said Doug Forand, strategist for Senate Democrats.

The article is an interesting one because it forgets to mention the candidate that is already in the race. This makes it appear that the Foley is the Democrats' best shot at taking the seat but Newsday seems to forget their endorsement of Dahroug from 2006. I know two years is a lifetime in politics, but if the are going to sculpt articles like the one above, at the very least they should mention that Jimmy is already running despite what the Democratic leadership in Albany is saying.

Jim Shank Proves Activism Works

Jim sat down to thank everyone that helped his family including Walmart Watch. Walmart tried to take advantage of his wife Debbie after she was a victim of a brutal car accident. They went after her insurance money, but stopped after the spotlight was turned on them by thousands of people who spoke out on their behalf.

Rent Stabilization: Why We Need To Take The State Senate Back

Today our Democratically-held Assembly will go to bat for the millions of renters in New York to pass a set of tough laws to make sure renters are taken care of. Landlords and their real estate buddies have taken too much away from the non-owning class of our citizens for too long. The price of rent has soared and the percentage of one's income dedicated to paying the rent is around 50 percent. That is unacceptable, and it is why we need these bills to pass not only the Assembly, but the Senate as well.

From The NY Daily News:

The full-throttle assault with support from tenant groups and the Working Families Party will put pressure on Senate Republicans - particularly those from the city - "to take a position," said Assembly Housing Committee Chairman Vito Lopez (D-Brooklyn).

A spokeswoman for Gov. Paterson, a Democrat who supported pro-tenant protections during his years as a state senator, said "if it passes the Legislature, he will sign it."

In all, eight bills will be acted upon Tuesday, including one that would no longer allow an apartment to become deregulated if the rent reaches $2,000 and the unit becomes vacant.

The legislation also gives more power to the city (if it chooses to use that power) to keep greedy landlords in check. Of course this all depends on if the State Senate approves the measures as well. It is well-known that when it comes to battles like these (rich and powerful vs. poor and abused) Joe Bruno is going to go with the former rather than do what is morally the right thing. Joe could surprise me, but so would two feet of snow falling on this warm sunny day.

So if rent stabilization is something you care about, make sure to do whatever you can to get as many Democratic challengers into office this year so we can take back the State Senate!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Vito Fossella Listened To Me!

I know I'm relatively a fresh face in New York City and even more so in local politics, but I'm going to go ahead and declare victory on this one. Vito Fossella made it official in the afternoon today and declared he will officially be running for re-election in the 13th Congressional District of New York. As the lone Republican Congressman in New York City, he faces quite the challenge now that the public knows the stench of his dirty laundry. I told him to stay in earlier today and I'm glad that he has taken my advice.

From The NY Post:

Defying disgusted constituents and angry Republican leaders, disgraced Rep. Vito Fossella has told pals he plans to seek re-election.

And, shockingly, the Staten Island pol is feeling "pretty good," he confided to friends.[...]

Fossella's statements not only defy national party leaders, who have said they will not back him, but suggest the congressman may be in denial.

He even expressed shock that other Republicans are eyeing his seat.

"What's this all about?" Fossella asked Molinari, of news reports naming potential GOP candidates.

He said he was "surprised" and "puzzled" that party colleagues are being mentioned as possible replacements, Molinari said.

Surprised? Puzzled? Why would anyone think of challenging Vito? Doesn't everyone have love children (for some reason writing that in the plural form seems strange) with their girlfriends that live in other states? Why would that make an elected official look less trustworthy to the public? Oh, because it shows he's nothing but a dirty scumbag, yeah, thats right.

Congratulations on deciding to stay in the race, I cannot wait to see you beaten to a (figurative) pulp in the general election in less than six months from now.

Clinton's Long Goodbye

TPM clips together bits of the Sunday talk show circuit to show us and especially Hillary Clinton that her campaign is done:

Just Come Out Of That Partisan Closet Joe!

Joe Lieberman is quite the character. Once he was a proud Democratic supporter of civil rights. Now he's a Republican hack. He may claim to be an Independent after having been beaten in the Connecticut Senate Primary two years ago, but really, we all know what party he's in. While supporting McCain today, he showed off one of his ninja Republican tricks of saying one thing and dismissing any truth that may contest his argument.

From DailyKos:

When anecdotal evidence favors his position (i.e., one guy in Hamas says
he would welcome Obama's election), Lieberman sells it:

But the fact that the spokesperson for Hamas would say they would welcome the election of Senator Obama really does raise the question, "Why?"

And it suggests the difference between these two candidates.

But when anecdotal evidence doesn't favor his position (i.e., CNN hears
Iraqis hate Republicans), Lieberman dismisses it:

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN: I just returned from Baghdad, and what was interesting to me, I sat down with dozens of Iraqi soldiers and dozens of students at Baghdad University, and Senator, they said to me, "We don't want to see a Republican president." Matter of fact, out of every single one that I talked to, one person said they supported John McCain.

They said, "We're living a Republican war. Look at this. It's a disaster! We want to see a Democrat for president." What does John McCain say to the future of Iraq, when we're talking about Iraqi soldiers and Baghdad University students? They're the ones living this.

JOE LIEBERMAN: Well, I'm real surprised to hear that, um, because...

PHILLIPS: I was too!


PHILLIPS: It was very interesting. They were very blunt, and very straightforward.

LIBERMAN: Yeah, I mean, not that I expect the Iraqis to vote in our election, but I will tell you that in all the visits I've made there -- and it's eight -- the Iraqi people on the street, the Iraqi military, the Iraqi government that I’ve talked to, don’t want us to just pick up and leave, which is what Sen. Obama, Sen. Clinton have been advocating.

Wait, wait... does Hamas vote in our elections? I forget.

I don't even know if Joe remembers what he ate for lunch. Keeping up with his hypocritical statements and pro-war votes has to be hard for him. Endorsing McCain probably wears on his soul as well. Somewhere deep down inside is a man who fought for people to have equal rights. What has emerged forty years later is a mere shell.

CBS Dedicates Time To National Infrastructure

As people woke up a few days ago and (possibly) turned on CBS' Early Show, they were treated to information on a growing crisis in our country. Tragedies that result from the lack of funding for our roads are covered sporadically and more reports must be done like this to show just how important maintaining our highways, bridges and especially developing a more comprehensive rail system.

From RawStory:

Unless more funding and effort are put into saving the nation’s infrastructure, it will continue to crumble, say experts. An estimated $1.5 trillion over the next five years could be needed to avoid large-scale disaster.

“When infrastructure declines, we’re going to become a second-rate country,” says engineer and former New York City transportation commissioner “Gridlock Sam” Schwartz.

“No matter where you live, there are critical infrastructure issues,” says David Mongan, president of the American Society of Civil Engineers. “In some cities, bridges, roads, power lines, pipelines; are simply too old. In others, the explosive population growth has outpaced [their] infrastructure’s ability to satisfy the needs.”

Unfortunately we have left our government to mismanage the needs of our burgeoning society. We have enabled developers to build and build and build while the infrastructure to keep it all connected is laid to waste due to ignorance and negligence. We must demand our legislators to take care of these problems and not dole out projects as pork but as part of a comprehensive bill to fix and then maintain the arteries that have kept our country moving for decades. If we don't, dire consequences will result.

There Are Laws...Then There Are George Bush's Secret Laws

How bad is it that Senator Feingold has to hold these hearings???

I'd love to see Bush giving testimony, but we'll have to settle for this Administration stooge.

NY Times Slams Paterson's Reform Reversal

The New York Times had some harsh words for Governor Paterson yesterday on the question of reform in Albany. Now that some time has passed since he became the top dog in New York, his zeal for reform has nearly disappeared. He made a vain attempt at looking interested at the end of Reform Day two weeks ago, but in legislation, where it counts, he has done next to nothing. Philip Anderson at the Albany Project is 'giving him the benefit of the doubt', but no such thing exists at the Times.

From The NY Times:

Before he suddenly became New York’s governor, David Paterson was a committed reformer. In his years as a state senator (and leader of the Democratic minority), he called for limiting special-interest money, public financing of elections, and sweeping out as much muck as possible from the State Legislature.

Now that Mr. Paterson finally has the power he has lost his zeal. He has not charted any real plan to push a resistant Legislature toward reform. He has said his focus is on steadying the state in hard economic times.

A steady hand is important. But voters also want reform, Albany desperately needs it, and it is very, very cheap. The only thing that could cost money — public financing for campaigns — would save over the long run. All those lobbyists would have more trouble skewing state money to special interests.

The No. 1 reform should be an end to the system that allows legislators to draw their own districts so that they are re-elected pretty much for life. Mr. Paterson needs to begin pushing now for a constitutional amendment creating a nonpartisan commission on redistricting like those in Iowa and Maine.

Most of Mr. Paterson’s friends in the Legislature will not want to give up this self-serving operation. Senator Malcolm Smith, who leads the Democratic minority, has backed away from this reform, especially if Democrats win full control of the Legislature this year. Mr. Paterson has the power to shame, if he has the will. He needs to start publicly pressing the redistricting reform and threatening vetoes — of money for the current redistricting system and of any future proposal that is not done fairly.

That will seems to have evaporated into the dirty air that envelops the State Capitol. I wish I could say differently, but Paterson will have to prove he still believes in the reform he talked so much about when he was in the State Senate. Words are words, and action is the only thing that matters.

McCain Needs A Refresher On The Constitution

After eight years of having the moron-in-chief misguide our country and wreaking havoc wherever he goes, you'd think people would want someone with a little lot more intellect going forward. Senator Obama certainly has the smarts, but what about his competitor from Arizona, Mr. McCain? Well, simply put, we are electing someone that must (or should) protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. So shouldn't that person know what's in it?

From DailyKos:

I smirked but didn't get too excited when he said he was glad to be at "West Virginia," rather than Wake Forest, when he pronounced the word "relevance" as though it was spelled "revelance," when he talked about the people in "Warshington," or even when he laid this little gem on the Wake Forest students:

I'm the living proof that an undistinguished academic record can be overcome in life -- or at least that's the hope that has long, long sustained me.

But then he started getting into the substance of his speech -- basically that judges have become too activist. A few minutes into his discussion of this topic, this is what I thought I heard:

The year 2005 also brought the case of Susette Kelo before the Supreme Court. Here was a woman whose home was taken from her because the local government and a few big corporations had designs of their own on the land, and she was getting in the way. There is hardly a clearer principle in all the Constitution than the right of private property. There is a very clear standard in the Constitution requiring not only just compensation in the use of eminent domain, but also that private property may NOT be taken for "public use." But apparently that standard has been "evolving" too.

My head whipped around, and I thought, "HUH?????" Granted, it's been 25 years since my Constitutional Law class, but . . . isn't the whole point of eminent domain that the government CAN take private property for public use, as long as the owner is fairly compensated for the taking?

The diarist is correct, McCain got that one wrong. His handlers knew it too, thats why they scrubbed the transcript of the speech, even though the video proves the type wrong. How sad is it that McCain doesn't even know what is in the Constitution while he wants the job to protect it? Well he probably doesn't give two shits about what is in it, because he's running for Bush's third term, a mere continuation of the assault on the document neither Bush or McCain cares about.

A Behind The Scenes Look At Bill O'Reilly

This clip is from his pre-Fox News days, but the oldie is definitely a goodie:

Stay Vito, Stay!

Its a wet and windy day outside and the same can be said for conditions surrounding Congressman Vito Fossella. The briefly national story is still whipping itself into a frenzy here in New York and Vito is reaching F5 status all on his own. Nothing is official yet, but the Congressman is now looking to stay in the race to be re-elected in Staten Island. That means that we have the right to make sure he stays newsworthy and to expose all of the family values that has run on and voted for. I don't even know what story to start on about him, so I'll just leave you with a few stories that Liz at the NY Daily News is linking to.

From The Daily Politics:

The romance between Fossella and Laura Fay, the mother of his illegitimate daughter, blossomed during a taxpayer-funded congressional trip to Malta in 2002.

If Fossella does decide to run for re-election, he shouldn't count on getting any help from the NRCC - or most other Republicans, for that matter.

Only Fossella knows what he will do next, and he's not talking, causing the speculation machine to run overtime.

Fossella's longtime ally and mentor, former Staten Island Borough President Guy Molinari, told The Post the congressman had every intention of running again this fall, but then backed away from that statement in an interview with the SI Advance.

An anonymous "high-ranking Republican source on Staten Island" insisted to NY1 that Fossella is indeed going to run again.

Staten Islanders have a lot to say on this topic.

A SurveyUSA poll conducted the same day the love child story broke found 61 percent of adults in Fossella's disitrict, the 13th CD, say he should stay in office; 53 percent believe he should seek re-election.

A Fossella fundraiser scheduled for Saturday at the home of Northfield Bank Chairman and CEO John Alexander was canceled.

The "family-values" congressman reportedly shunned his sister because she's gay.

Fossella's wife, Mary Pat, celebrated Mother's Day with her extended family, friends and her three children; her husband was nowhere to be seen.

Fay and her 3-year-old daughter, Natalie, have been keeping a low profile, too.

Both the congressman's wife and his mistress are considering dumping him.

And that is only a few of things going on around Mr. Fossella. Taxpayer-funded trysts (who does that remind you of?), shunning his sister for her sexual-orientation and being dumped by both his wife and mistress are my three favorites. What about you?

Seriously I can not wait for Steve Harrison to wallop Vito upside the head with this and his voting record as the Democrats take back this seat in Congress. So by all means Vito, please, please, pretty please stay in the race.

The Meaning Of Mother's Day

Yesterday millions of people took their Sunday and dedicated it to Mom. The second Sunday of every May is now observed as Mother's Day in order for husbands, sons and daughters to give a little back for their mother that gives so much. We go out and buy cards, presents, flowers and make breakfast in bed. However, that wasn't what this day was intended for and the creator of the day (in American times, not religious or Roman) would probably be saddened by what it has become.

From The Holiday Spot:

In the United States, Mother's Day was loosely inspired by the British day and was first suggested after the American Civil War by social activist Julia Ward Howe. Howe (who wrote the words to the Battle hymn of the Republic) was horrified by the carnage of the Civil War and the Franco-Prussian War and so, in 1870, she tried to issue a manifesto for peace at international peace conferences in London and Paris (it was much like the later Mother's Day Peace Proclamation). During the Franco-Prussian war in the 1870s, Julia began a one-woman peace crusade and made an impassioned "appeal to womanhood" to rise against war. She composed in Boston a powerful plea that same year (generally considered to be the original Mothers' Day proclamation*) translated it into several languages and distributed it widely. In 1872, she went to London to promote an international Woman's Peace Congress. She began promoting the idea of a "Mother's Day for Peace" to be celebrated on June 2, honoring peace, motherhood and womanhood. In the Boston Mass, she initiated a Mothers' Peace Day observance on the second Sunday in June, a practice that was to be established as an annual event and practiced for at least 10 years. The day was, however, mainly intended as a call to unite women against war. It was due to her efforts that in 1873, women in 18 cities in America held a Mother's Day for Pace gathering. Howe rigorously championed the cause of official celebration of Mothers Day and declaration of official holiday on the day. She held meetings every year at Boston on Mother's Peace Day and took care that the day was well-observed. The celebrations died out when she turned her efforts to working for peace and women's rights in other ways. Howe failed in her attempt to get the formal recognition of a Mother's Day for Peace. Her remarkable contribution in the establishment of Mother's Day, however, remains in the fact that she organized a Mother's Day dedicated to peace. It is a landmark in the history of Mother's Day in the sense that this was to be the precursor to the modern Mother's Day celebrations. To acknowledge Howe's achievements a stamp was issued in her honor in 1988.

So if what you did was inspired by Hallmark yesterday, give a moment to think about the horrors of war and the mothers in our country and every country who suffer the ultimate loss of a child in war.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

SNL Eviscerates Hillary....And Her Supporters

As one that does not support Hillary Clinton and never has in this primary, I was a bit taken back by the satire Saturday Night Live brought down upon her. Some of it was a little harsh, but it was only funny because its based on truth.

Bush Lets Blackwater Gets Away With Murder

Except for Halliburton, Blackwater Worldwide is the poster child for mercenaries in Iraq and for taking advantage of American soldiers and everyone else who pays taxes for that war (not to mention foreign creditors of course). Blackwater is responsible for numerous crimes, both against our own troops and Iraqi civilians. Despite enormous proof of their responsibility in illegal actions, they are getting off scot-free.

From The NY Times:

Guards for the security company were involved in a shooting in September that left at least 17 Iraqis dead at a Baghdad intersection. Outrage over the killings prompted the Iraqi government to demand Blackwater’s ouster from the country, and led to a criminal investigation by the F.B.I., a series of internal investigations by the State Department and the Pentagon, and high-profile Congressional hearings.

But after an intense public and private lobbying campaign, Blackwater appears to be back to business as usual.

The State Department has just renewed its contract to provide security for American diplomats in Iraq for at least another year. Threats by the Iraqi government to strip Western contractors of their immunity from Iraqi law have gone nowhere. No charges have been brought in the United States against any Blackwater guard in the September shooting, either, and the F.B.I. agents in Baghdad charged with investigating whether Blackwater guards have committed any crimes under United States law are sometimes protected as they travel through Baghdad by Blackwater guards.

Why would our government let this happen? Well because they claim that no one else can do their job. As one State Dept puke said, "We cannot operate without private security firms in Iraq. If the contractors were removed, we would have to leave Iraq.” Well oh my, wouldn't that be just terrible. In the meantime, why don't we shift the responsibility to our own troops instead of letting us be ripped off by a bunch of bloodthirsty mercenaries?