Saturday, June 21, 2008

USA Today Connects Severe Weather To Climate Change

Not that this is breaking news, but climate change is directly related to the increasing amount of extreme weather we are seeing across the country and around the world. To gambling scientists, it is like throwing snake eyes with loaded dice. What is astonishing is that the mainstream media is beginning to report on it and not allow "debate" between those that deal with reality (like scientists) and those who don't (that get paid by neo-con think tanks).

From USA Today:

WASHINGTON — If you think the weather is getting more extreme, you're right — and global warming caused by human activity probably is the reason, according to a report released Thursday by a panel of government scientists.

The report comes as the Midwest copes with record rainfall and catastrophic flooding.

There is strong evidence the increasing frequency of extreme rain, heat, drought and tropical storms is caused by global climate change, according to the report from the U.S. Climate Change Science Program.

"Changes in some weather and climate extremes are attributable to human-induced emissions of greenhouse gases," the study authors concluded.

The articles goes on to quote facts and statistics, but what is refreshingly missing is the denier crap that we are so used to hearing from large media outlets. They have claimed in the past that they are trying to present "both sides," but no one is really buying that anymore. USA Today, and perhaps others, are finally starting to get it too. Better late than never I guess, as long as we can start to do something meaningful about it.

Does John McCain Love America?

Of course he does, it is a ridiculous question that none of us should have to ask. Yet when McCain made the comment on Fox that he didn't love America until he was a POW, it showed the hypocrisy of the right when the excoriated Michelle Obama for her comment about America that was taken way out of context. We shouldn't have to question the patriotism of any candidate, or their wives.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Obama Speaks Out On FISA Legislation

As the head of the party (technically starting at the convention) Barack Obama has tremendous say over legislation that is being debated and more so with respect to the Senate as of now (since he is one of the 100). Today the House passed an awful piece of FISA legislation that is a capitulation to George Bush, so lets take a look at what our nominee said.

From Barack Obama:

"Given the grave threats that we face, our national security agencies must have the capability to gather intelligence and track down terrorists before they strike, while respecting the rule of law and the privacy and civil liberties of the American people. There is also little doubt that the Bush Administration, with the cooperation of major telecommunications companies, has abused that authority and undermined the Constitution by intercepting the communications of innocent Americans without their knowledge or the required court orders.

"That is why last year I opposed the so-called Protect America Act, which expanded the surveillance powers of the government without sufficient independent oversight to protect the privacy and civil liberties of innocent Americans. I have also opposed the granting of retroactive immunity to those who were allegedly complicit in acts of illegal spying in the past.

"After months of negotiation, the House today passed a compromise that, while far from perfect, is a marked improvement over last year's Protect America Act.

"Under this compromise legislation, an important tool in the fight against terrorism will continue, but the President's illegal program of warrantless surveillance will be over. It restores FISA and existing criminal wiretap statutes as the exclusive means to conduct surveillance – making it clear that the President cannot circumvent the law and disregard the civil liberties of the American people. It also firmly re-establishes basic judicial oversight over all domestic surveillance in the future. It does, however, grant retroactive immunity, and I will work in the Senate to remove this provision so that we can seek full accountability for past offenses. But this compromise guarantees a thorough review by the Inspectors General of our national security agencies to determine what took place in the past, and ensures that there will be accountability going forward. By demanding oversight and accountability, a grassroots movement of Americans has helped yield a bill that is far better than the Protect America Act.

"It is not all that I would want. But given the legitimate threats we face, providing effective intelligence collection tools with appropriate safeguards is too important to delay. So I support the compromise, but do so with a firm pledge that as President, I will carefully monitor the program, review the report by the Inspectors General, and work with the Congress to take any additional steps I deem necessary to protect the lives – and the liberty – of the American people."

So basically he thinks its ok but we need to get the retroactive immunity pulled out. I completely agree with him on the immunity, we need to hold these people accountable and allow the rule of law to be held supreme over any particular person's (like George Bush) rule. As for the other part, while I trust Barack Obama more with my constitutional rights, George Bush is still in office and there will be other Presidents after Obama leaves. What we need is to leave FISA the way it is and not mess with something that wasn't broken before Bush came through, stomping on every cherished idea we hold dear.

Denver PD Getting Ready To Pepper-Gun At The DNC

Thousands of passionate Democrats and a few passionate anti-Democrats are getting ready to go out to Denver in late August for the much-anticipated Democratic Convention. While it may not be as raucous as we thought when Senator Clinton threatened to contest the race up in Denver, it should still be an exciting time. I remember going to Boston four years ago and that was quite the party scene. However, the Denver Police Department is also getting ready in their own special way.

From The Colorado Independent:

The Denver Police Department has bought high-powered pepper ball rifles just in time for the Democratic National Convention in August, according to a weapons firm that will provide the guns.

Security With Advanced Technology, a company based in Louisville, Colo., and self-billed as investing in the manufacturing of “non-lethal solutions,” announced this week that it had sold Denver police 88 Mark IV rifle models, guns that can fire up to 15 pepper balls filled with a super irritant powder at an approximate target range of 100 meters.[...]

Information about the rifle purchases was publicly disclosed by the weapons manufacturer but not by law enforcement officials, who have been reluctant to reveal what is being bought with some $50 million in federal funds for convention security.

In April the Colorado Independent reported that the Denver Police Department refused to disclose what weapons the city was purchasing in preparation for the convention. At the time department officials maintained that such information was not in the “public interest.”

Oh I beg to differ on that "not in the public interest" bullshit the Denver cops are trying to spout. Since they pay for the weapons with taxpayer dollars, we have every right to know how much is going for what. Now, while this sounds like a step-up from "less than lethal" beanbags, you never know what will happen until trigger-happy cops starting using their new, expensive toys. Hopefully this won't 'best' the craziness that befell Chicago in 68'....and New York City in 2004.

How To Speak Insurance

Does your insurance company confuse you with their language? Patsy Bates certainly was when she was treating her breast cancer, this ad below is based on her true, unfortunate story:

Congress Compromises The Constitution

I wasn't surprised that every single Republican in the House voted to spit on the Constitution and give the telcos (and George Bush) a get out of jail free card. Spying on American citizens without cause and with no regard for the fourth amendment isn't shocking considering Bush's record thus far. What was sad, dismaying and atrocious was that more half of the Democratic caucus went along with it and have the audacity to claim it is a good bill.

From FireDogLake:

...and the drip, drip, dripping away of our civil liberties continues. The vote was 293 Yays, 129 Nays. As Glenn says:

Today, the House leadership has set aside a grand total of one hour to debate the FISA/amnesty bill, and gave its members less than 24 hours from the time it was released yesterday until they have to vote on it today. That's the same bill which the NYT this morning calls "the most significant revision of surveillance law in 30 years." They're going to enact massive changes to our spying laws without having the slightest idea what they're voting on. All they know is that the President demanded this, and that's enough, because -- as Kit Bond says -- "when the government tells you to do something, I'm sure you would all agree that I think you all recognize that is something you need to do." In this formulation, "the government" means "The President."

You can register your disgust here...we're well over $250,000 and climbing....

UPDATE: The vote tally on this is not yet up on the House website. But I've confirmed the numbers that the total votes was as follows: 293 yes -129 no. Also that the majority of the House Dems voted no - 105 voted yes, 128 voted no. As soon as there is a full vote tally, will get a direct link up and running for everyone.

UPDATE #2: Vote tally just went up for the roll call vote on HR 6304. You can find the full list of yays and nays here.

Well at least my Congresswoman didn't vote for it, if that is any consolation for the constituents of NY-14. Still, everyone here on the East Side of New York, clear across to the west side of San Diego will suffer from this legislation. Congress collectively told us that our Bill of Rights doesn't matter and that they really don't care what we think about retroactive immunity for lawbreakers.

McClellan Testifies About The Plame Saga This Morning

This morning Scott McClellan went before the House Judiciary Committee to tell his tale of what he knew about the Valerie Plame case. His book is currently making millions about his time in the Bush Administration, but at least he came to Congress to talk about what he knows, free of charge. His introduction statement is a bit lengthy, but the end of it is key.

From The House Judiciary Cmte:

My book reflects the only idea of loyalty that I believe is appropriate in democratic government, and that is loyalty to the ideals of candor, transparency and integrity, and indeed to the constitutional system itself. Too often in Washington, people mistakenly think that loyalty to an individual officeholder should override loyalty to basic ideals. This false loyalty is not only mistaken, but can exercise a corrupt influence on government.

I am here because in my heart I am a public servant who, like many Americans, wants to improve the way Washington governs and does not want to see future administrations repeat the mistakes this White House made.

I do not know whether a crime was committed by any of the Administration officials who revealed Valerie Plame’s identity to reporters. Nor do I know if there was an attempt by any person or persons to engage in a cover-up during the investigation. I do know that it was wrong to reveal her identity, because it compromised the effectiveness of a covert official for political reasons. I regret that I played a role, however unintentionally, in relaying false information to the public about it. I’ll do my best to answer any questions on this matter that members of the committee may wish to ask.

Scott, first of all, it is great that you now realize a public servant's loyalty should be to the public and not the tyrant dictator current President. Secondly, unless you were just born yesterday, someone of your position knows that it is illegal and traitorous to reveal the identity of a covert agent, for political reasons or otherwise. The fact that you know it is wrong goes a long way to admitting it is criminal, so perhaps you are just trying to be sly about it.

Have fun in Congress today Scott, watch for Republicans to go at you with avengeance for turning your back on the supreme leader and your party.

Rachel Maddow Takes Blankley And Hayes To Task

Rachel stands up to conservative pundits time and time again. Last night was no different when discussing bi-partisanship and who does it better, McCain or Obama. Personally I think this is a ridiculous conversation, since we need to put the interest of Americans first, not the dwindling minority of radical Republicans that still exist in Congress. Still Maddow did a great job, as she usually does....MSNBC, tell me why she still does not have her own show while numb-nuts Gregory gets a top spot?

McCain Campaign Manager Aided Corrupt Pro-Russian Party In Ukraine

The anti-lobbyist candidate John McCain has yet another lobbyist problem ensnaring his campaign. McCain, along with democracy-loving Americans everywhere, cheered Viktor Yushchenko as he and thousands of Ukrainians threw off the yoke of the corrupt Russian elements left in the country less than four years ago. Head honcho lobbyist Rick Davis was found to have lent his services to the pro-Russian "Party of Regions" faction in the Ukraine. With Davis' help, the Party of Regions surged back only two years later. So how does John McCain explain this?

From The Huffington Post:

How much does John McCain know about his campaign manager's lobbying history and potential current business interests inside Ukraine -- and when did he know it?

The stakes of the answer to that question are increasing, due both to the continuing controversy over the role of lobbyists in McCain's second presidential run, as well as the press inquiry into the connections between McCain campaign manager Rick Davis and the global business and political interests in Ukraine, a country represented by the lobbying firm that bears his name -- Davis-Manafort.[...]

Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Steven Pifer told The Huffington Post that, in between the Party of Regions' 2004 loss and its 2006 victory, there was "an influx of the Davis-Manafort team." Pifer was not on the ground in Ukraine for the 2006 polls, but he recounted that "there was more of an American air" to the Ukrainians working with Davis-Manafort, and that they presented a more refined, media-savvy image.

Pifer later witnessed a December 2006 talk given in Washington, D.C. by the new Ukranian prime minister, who brought Davis's lobbying partner Paul Manafort along in tow as part of his entourage. Speaking to the Huffington Post about that event, Pifer said he noticed with interest that the new prime minister's presentation was "polished and confident...and was tuned to have resonance with Americans."

The story of their resurgence reeks to high hell of sliminess and slick political bullshit. How McCain can avoid this tremendous amount of slime from smearing his campaign is unimaginable. McCain employs Davis exactly because he can make old, tired and corrupt politicians sound new and refined (except for when in front of a green screen). Davis has certainly had his work cut out for him with McCain, but now McCain needs to make him go away, unless he wants this story to stick to his own campaign.

Rent Guidelines Board Sides With Landlords Again

Despite Christine Quinn's cries of being a rent-stabilized New Yorker, the Rent Guidelines Board ignored her humble roots and raised rent increases by the highest percentage in nearly 20 years. The board meeting was a crazy one down in Cooper Union, but of course it is every year. Renters want the price of living kept down and the landlords want to make more money off of their properties. Nothing changes, especially the RGB's ability to go along with the landlords.

From The NY Times:

At a meeting punctuated by ear-splitting whistle-blowing and shouting matches between sign-waving tenants and landlords, the city’s Rent Guidelines Board authorized rent increases of up to 4.5 percent on one-year leases and 8.5 percent on two-year leases.

The board also took the unusual and controversial step of authorizing a supplemental rent increase that affected only tenants who have lived in their apartments for six years or more. Owners of buildings with those tenants have the option of charging them the approved increases, or a $45 monthly increase for one-year leases or $85 for two-year leases, whichever is greater.

The last time the board approved a set of increases that were higher was in 1989, when one-year leases saw a 5.5 percent increase and two-year leases a 9 percent increase. In 2003, one-year leases increased 4.5 percent, but two-year leases increased 7.5 percent. Last year, the board approved increases of 3 percent on one-year leases and 5.75 percent on two-year leases.

Now you could say that at least the RGB didn't raise rates 14% like the landlords requested, but we know better that those weren't the rates they were after in the first place. Renters and landlords screamed at each other and even blew whistles over the issue. The Times called it a circus atmosphere but the clowns here are the board members who approved these rate hikes.

Now Christine Quinn will have something to complain about as she gears up for her Mayoral campaign. The downside is that with all of the other candidates, she has to worry that someone might call her out for siding with the ringleader of the circus in the last few years, that being Mayor Bloomberg and his use of zoning tricks.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

General Election Roundup

Josh Marshall of TPM takes a look at the electoral map as of today, June 19th:

Congressman Wexler Stands Up To FISA Capitulation

As I said earlier, the deal hatched in Congress by the Democratic leadership was ominous but not set in stone until it gets voted on tomorrow. Therefore there is some, albeit slim, maneuvering room to try and thwart this despicable legislation before it is allowed into George Bush's dirty hands. While conservative Democrats and those in the leadership may try to bend over for George Bush, there are plenty that aren't. One of those is Congressman Robert Wexler.

From Congressman Wexler:

I cannot in good conscience support the so-called FISA “compromise” bill, as the only thing that is really being compromised is our civil rights.

In spite of the earnest hard work of many Members of Congress, the President has continued to demand that Congress rubber-stamp his illegal wiretapping program.

Every American wants to protect our country from terrorists; but, the President is not asking for tools to thwart terrorists. He is demanding unchecked power. He expects the Congress to throw out even the most modest, expedited court review on the absurd premise that a specially designed court with over 30 years of experience handling surveillance requests is suddenly going to bring our nation’s intelligence operations to a standstill.

The rights of everyday Americans are at issue here, and full accountability needed. A court that is given full and appropriate review of the particular circumstances in each case is the only appropriate venue for making decisions about immunity for actions that may or may not have violated the civil liberties of some individuals.

In addition, while I am sympathetic to the difficult position telephone and Internet service providers, who may have thought they were doing their patriotic duty, the fact remains that I simply cannot support offering retroactive immunity. I have had the opportunity to view some of the documents in question, and I can say that my position on this subject is unchanged.

I will continue to support the March 14th House bill that preserves the appropriate court review of all surveillance of US citizens and gives judges the discretion to review all the necessary documents related to telecom lawsuits without offering blanket immunity.

- Congressman Robert Wexler

I don't know about having sympathies for the telephone and ISPs, but he is right on the issue. There is no compromise in that legislation, only capitulation. It'll be a sad day if this passes, because it is blatantly wrong and immoral. Imagine if you broke the law and everyone knew you did so, you'd go to jail depending on the severity of the crime, right? Not so in this case, helping the right people (the Bush Administration) can get you off scot-free. This is unacceptable in our democracy, and I'm glad there are people like Congressman Robert Wexler that will fight to stop this. Since he blogged this on DailyKos, I sure hope he knows about how to stall using this other excellent DailyKos-frontpaged article.

Pelosi And Hoyer Bend Over For Bush And Telco Amnesty

Much to the chagrin of many Democratic House members and all Americans that respect the Constitution, the Democratic leadership and many conservatives on both sides of the aisle are putting the finishing touches on a bill that will give the telcos the immunity they want. George Bush is a happy man today, because despite his abysmal ratings as a President, the cowardly Democrats still bent over for his willful disregard of the laws in our country. Along with his accomplices (AT&T, Verizon, etc) he broke the law and spied on Americans, not caring about their fourth amendment rights. Instead of holding him and the companies accountable, Congress is just going to rewrite the law so it'll be legal, retroactively.

From TPM:

From the Wall Street Journal:

WASHINGTON -- After more than a year of partisan acrimony over government surveillance powers, Democratic and Republican leaders have agreed to a bipartisan deal that would be the most sweeping rewrite of spy powers in three decades. The House is likely to vote on the measure Friday, House aides said.

Removing the final barrier to action on the measure, which has been hashed out in recent weeks by senior lawmakers in both parties, House Democratic leaders decided to allow a vote on the bill, despite the opposition of many in their party.

The new agreement broadens the authority to spy on people in the U.S. and provides conditional legal immunity to companies that helped the government eavesdrop after the 2001 terrorist attacks, according to congressional aides in both parties.

Late Update: The deal-maker was offering immunity to the telecom companies who have already participated in the program.

Critical to sealing the deal was a compromise that would grant conditional immunity to telecommunications companies for assistance they provided from September 2001 through January 2007. If the companies can show a federal district court judge "substantial evidence" they received a written request from the attorney general or head of an intelligence agency stating the president authorized the surveillance and determined it to be lawful, the cases against them will be dismissed.

We haven't heard what "conditional" means.

Conditional means that as they long as they show the judge a note that George Bush said it was ok to spy on Americans for him, then they are in the clear. Basically this a free pass, a get out jail free card and a smack in the face to law-abiding citizens everywhere. These companies have hordes of lawyers that knew the wiretapping orders were against the law, but they decided to break the law anyway because the President said it was ok and that he'd have their back if anything went down. Not only does he have them covered, he has the cowardly, spineless Democratic leadership to help him with it.

Now the vote on the bill is actually tomorrow, so there is technically is still time before this becomes law. However, the chances of changing the minds of enough Democrats in time is a slim possibility. Regardless, make sure to call your Congress member and tell them not to vote for this shameful legislation.

Barack Obama's Latest Ad

Barack Obama talks about the country he loves and what intends to do for it:

One Hypocrite From Rochester Has Tremendous Pull Over NYC

Our state legislature is one screwed up piece of work. While a few things good things are enacted (like the solar energy bill mentioned earlier this morning) many more items are bottled up and the process stinks to high hell. Take David Gantt for example, a Democrat from Rochester. Mr. Gantt recently approved of red light cameras in his town, allowing the city to collect fines without the time wasted by a cop to pull the traffic violator over. Yet when New York City wants to reduce congestion and get cars out of bus lanes by using cameras on the buses as a method of enforcement, he isn't having it. Even though most members in his committee wanted the legislation, to him that is just too bad. What do you think our legislature is, a democracy or something?

From The NY Times:

ALBANY — Once again, Michael R. Bloomberg, the mayor of New York City, has been frustrated by the mysterious ways of the capital.

The latest indignity came on Tuesday, when Assembly Democrats refused to advance a city proposal to prevent cars from using special lanes that will be reserved for a new class of city buses. If that was not frustrating enough, six Democratic co-sponsors of the bill were among those who voted not to move it out of the Assembly’s Transportation Committee because the panel’s chairman, Assemblyman David F. Gantt, also a Democrat, opposed the measure.[...]

The rejection of the city’s bus bill was also disappointing for environmental advocates. This month, the city will introduce new rapid transit buses, which will operate on 50 miles of lanes throughout the city by 2011. The city had hoped to use cameras mounted on the buses to catch cars that encroach in the special lanes.

“It has the potential to revolutionize the way people move around town,” said Gene Russianoff, an advocate for mass transit and a lawyer for the New York Public Interest Research Group. He added that it would be “impossible to enforce lanes now with the police — you’d need a battalion.”

Mr. Gantt, who is from Rochester, has long opposed the use of cameras for law enforcement, but recently he reversed course by introducing a bill that would allow for red light cameras in Buffalo. The bill was drafted to favor a type of traffic-monitoring technology made by a company run by his former counsel.

He brushed off a question about whether he had sought to influence the votes of other committee members on the bus bill.

“What do you think, I go around breaking people’s arms?” he said.

Literally breaking arms? No, but I certainly think that if you want to play with Mr. Gantt, there has to be some sort of pay to get that bill going. Though perhaps we should check the limbs of Michelle Schimel, Harvey Weisenberg, Sam Hoyt, Janele Hyer-Spencer, Matthew Titone and George Latimer, all Democrats who were co-sponsors of the bill before voting against their own legislation. Though the problem isn't their arms really, it is their lack of a spine when not standing up to the leadership.

Oil Traders: "Trust Us," Congressional Aides: "Yeah, Right"

Washington would be far more dull if there wasn't splashes of humor intertwined in the lobbying done by the very wealthy. No group is more powerful than the collective interests on Wall Street and the best product out there for them is oil, especially with a barrel of oil surpassing $140 and gas prices surging past $4. With the American public screaming for something to be done, Congress (controlled by Dems) is looking to do something and oil traders are in their sights. Of course those with the oil money doth protest, so let's take a look at their strategy of "not me."

From The Washington Post:

Representatives of Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, along with the trade associations for hedge funds and other financial groups, have lobbied the offices of key legislators, briefed senior staffers on committees that oversee pivotal parts of the energy markets and distributed research materials explaining their view about oil and how it's traded.

In a pair of lengthy and sometimes testy closed-door sessions in the Senate last week, executives from Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, two of Wall Street's largest investment banks, made the case that their multibillion-dollar investments in energy contracts have not led to higher oil prices. Rather, they told Democratic staff members of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee that the trades allow international markets to operate efficiently and that the run-up in oil prices results not from speculation but from actual imbalances of supply and demand.

But the executives were met with skepticism and occasional hostility. "Spare us your lecture about supply and demand," one of the Democratic aides said, abruptly cutting off one of the executives, according to a staff member in the room.

Another aide at the meetings warned the executives that no matter what arguments they muster, it would be hard to prevent Congress from acting. Referring to a vote earlier this year to impose new mileage standards on automobile makers, the aide said, "At 90 bucks a barrel, Congress rolled the autos for the first time in 30 years -- is it too much to think that Congress will impose more restrictions on you if oil goes to $150 dollars a barrel?"

Wow, those aides are tough talkers, but can their bosses act decisively so that Wall Street is effectively regulated? The public has had enough of the status quo and the ridiculous profits that are made by a select few in the energy market.

Supply and demand certainly has an effect on the market price, but without the speculative practices of Wall Street, oil would be at the most half of what it is trading for right now. Oil companies and those that work the contracts are making way too much money at the public's expense.

Cafferty Calls Out Flip-Flopping McCain

Although most of the media is slow to wakeup to the realities of John McCain's flip-flopping, some like Jack Cafferty are getting it....and sharing it with their audience. By November, everyone will know the real McCain:

Albany Puts A Bill Together For Solar Power

Albany is full of legislative failures, but there are a few gems hidden here and there amidst the deadlock our capital is famous for. Solar energy is an important part of a 21st century solution to our energy crisis in New York, the nation and the world. So doing something about it at the macro-level makes sense. Solar power is still expensive, but the state can take action to make the decision easier for property owners with access to a slice of the sky.

From The Times-Union:

Bills adopted by the Legislature this week give income tax credits to homeowners who invest in solar thermal energy systems. Owners of large apartment buildings and other residential property in New York City would get property tax breaks for installing photovoltaic solar electric systems.

"I think many businesses, which have been on the fence about making the solar investment, will immediately reconsider because of this breakthrough," said Shaun Chapman, of the not-for-profit Vote Solar Initiative.

The property tax abatement could be worth up to 35 percent of the cost of a photovoltaic system -- which can cost $25,000 or more -- over the course of five years, said Chapman. The abatements could cut property taxes by 8.75 percent through 2011, with a maximum savings of $62,500.

The solar thermal system tax credit -- which is worth $5,000 off income taxes against a system that can cost up to $30,000 -- extends to upstate property owners, said Richard Schrader, state legislative director of the Natural Resources Defense Council. The value of the tax credit is good to be used over a five-year period.

Amazingly, the Assembly and the Senate put bills together on this. So Governor Paterson should have no problem signing the bill when it comes to his desk. This is a great step, if the city and the state could follow through and put photo-voltaic systems on the roofs of their buildings, it would set a great example for those of us in the private sector to make the same commitment. Personally, I have solar-powered lights on the side of my apartment, but unfortunately they only power two little LEDs a piece. If my landlord would cover the top of the building with solar that would be great to see.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Larry Sinclair Arrested In D.C.

Plenty of people get arrested every day, so what is the big deal about Larry Sinclair? Well Sinclair is one of those fringe elements in a campaign that makes ridiculous statements about one of the candidates and Sinclair has it out for Barack Obama. He has claimed that him and Obama did some scandalous stuff a while back so we all shouldn't vote for him. Unfortunately for Larry, the police had it out for him (with warrants) and arrested him since he's a wanted fugitive in Colorado. David Weigel of Reason Magazine was there to watch the scene unfold.

From Reason Magazine:

How did Sinclair hold up? Rather terribly. He started with a lengthy statement that admitted most (not all) of his crimes and dispatched Sibley to run around the room with a microphone. As Seth Colter Walls recounts, most of the questions were legalistic and (somewhat) credulous. Sinclair was asked who funded the event (donors, over the internet), how he made his living (he's on disability), and whether Obama was "well hung" (I'm not going to dignify his answer here). The only new "evidence" he presented was the name of a limo driver and the bar where he claimed to have met Obama (who, in Sinclair's story, used his real name and job title as he rendevouzed with a cruising criminal he'd never met before).

I only got to ask one question: What time of day did Sinclair meet with Obama on November 6th and November 7th? In Sinclair's story, Obama partied with him on the 6th and traveled to his hotel in Gurnee, IL (an hour and change from Hyde Park) on the 7th. Sinclair smiled at the question. "We met in the early evening of November 6th," he said. "As far as a specific time on November 7th, I can not provide that to you." He added, parenthetically: "And I know where this question is coming from?"

"You know where this question is coming from?"

"Thank you." Sinclair moved on and Sibley refused to let me ask another question. Why didn't I wait until the end of the press conference and rush up to the accuser? The second Sinclair stopped taking questions, he fled the room and reporters were denied access to anyone but Sibley. I was a little disappointed until I heard the reason. Larry Sinclair was arrested after the press conference and is being held by the Washington, D.C. metropolitan police. He's been charged as a fugitive from justice; one of his warrants can be seen here.

Justice caught up with Larry in a big way and will most likely put a nice lid on his mouth in the near future. Although he is regarded as a character of ill repute, in these days disparaging comments can spread like wildfire. Putting out that fire now is definitely a nice thing, so more of us can focus on the main event against McCain.

Matt Yglesias Explains How So Many Heads Are In The Sand Regarding Our Foreign Policy Debacle

How do the Republicans screw up foreign policy and how does foreign policy screw up the Democrats? Joshua Micah Marshall of TPM interviews TPM grad Matt Yglesias on the subject that is written right into his new book's title:

AP Smears Michelle Obama With No Proof

The Associated Press has really started to lose it in the last few days. The conglomeration of newspapers and media outlets started stirring the pot with their anti-blogger crusade, starting with Drudge Retort last week. Now they were caught disparaging Michelle Obama with no proof whatsoever to back up their trashy claims.

From Buckeyemike at DailyKos:

Listening to my local radio stations news, I was shocked to hear the right wing smears againist Michelle Obama have now made it into the Associated Press's daily news feed to small radio and newspapers.
The report was that "the Obama campaign is trying to react quickly to reports againist Michelle Obama. She was quoted as saying that she had never been proud of America in her adult life.
She has been trying to improve her image with appearance today on "The View".

"She is reported to have made remarks about WHITEY in a speech at a church in Chicago."

I was shocked that there was no reference that this is just a claim, they reported it as if they had evidence that she truly said this in a speech, not what some right wingnuts had alledged. They say it enough times and now the AP is reporting it as TRUE.

I have called the radio station and written to AP, but I think we need to take more action. Any ideas on what we can do to combat this???? Listening to my local radio stations news, I was shocked to hear the right wing smears againist Michelle have now made it into the Associated Press's daily news feed to small radio and newspapers.

Watch out Mike, the AP may be coming for you for reporting on their abysmal style. The mainstream constantly acts this way with Michelle Obama and many others by reporting on the rumors from the right-wing, which only spreads the maliciousness to a wider audience outside of email-blasts and viewers of Redstate and LittleGreenFootballs. Unfortunately we have to expect more of this crap as we get farther down the road towards November. The only thing we can do is fight back by speaking out once these lies are spewed by the media.

Giuliani Gets Smacked Down By The DNC

For some reason the Republican pest known as Rudy Giuliani is still buzzing and bothering everyone around him in sight. John McCain, who apparently likes his former opponent's foul-smelling stench let Rudy loose on Obama concerning, what else, 9/11 and homeland security. Well once Rudy was done, the Obama campaign and the DNC's Karen Finney picked up the fly swatter loaded with truth and smushed the former Mayor.

From MSNBC's FirstRead:

In an e-mail, entitled, “Giuliani v Giuliani: 1993 World Trade Center Bombing Case,” the Obama campaign points out that in 1993, Giuliani said at the time, per the New York Times, March 5, 1994: “Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani declared that the verdict ‘demonstrates that New Yorkers won't meet violence with violence, but with a far greater weapon -- the law.’”

Also from that day’s Times: “Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani said he hoped that the verdicts would lessen tensions rather than increase them. ‘It should show that our legal system is the most mature legal system in the history of the world,’ he said, ‘that it works well, that that is the place to seek vindication if you feel your rights have been violated.’”

The DNC takes its shot at Giuliani with an e-mail with a title, parroting Joe Biden’s Greatest Debate Hits: “Rudy, ‘Noun, verb, 9/11’ Giuliani returns.”

“Democrats are not going to be lectured to on security by the mayor who failed to learn the lessons of the 1993 attacks, refused to prepare his own city’s first responders for the next attack, urged President Bush to put his corrupt crony in charge of our homeland security, and was too busy lobbying for his foreign clients to join the Iraq Study Group,” DNC spokeswoman Karen Finney said. “Rudy Giuliani, can echo the McCain campaign’s false and misleading attacks, but he can’t change the fact that John McCain is promising four more years of President Bush’s flawed and failed policies on everything from energy security and the economy to the war in Iraq.”

Yeah, now that is how its done. As long as Obama and the Democratic troupe respond to Republican attacks in this way, there is no way possible that we lose in November. We have the truth on our side, all we need to do is use it.

CNN Catches McCain's Flip-Flopping On The Environment

The media is having trouble keeping its love affair with McCain afloat when the candidate commits so many gaffes, so many blunders and flips his position with the change in direction of the wind. Kudos to CNN for pointing out his inconsistent remarks about oil, gas and the environment.

MTA Breaks Another Promise To New Yorkers

Not that this is too surprising, but the MTA failed New Yorkers yet again by reneging on their promise to make service improvements when they decided to raise the fares only a few months ago. Of course salaries have gone up for MTA executives, but nothing has been given to the commuters that truly matter. Now we get even less.

From The NY Daily News:

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority last year unveiled plans that included more frequent bus, subway and commuter trains to soften the blow of fare hikes. The program was to be launched in phases starting this summer - if the authority could afford it.

It can't, sources said.

"A final decision won't be made on the enhancements until we report June revenue numbers next week, but revenues would have to turn around significantly as we are already $80 million behind in real estate taxes alone," MTA spokesman Jeremy Soffin said.

The program would cost $30 million this year and twice that amount for all of next year.

The MTA receives revenue from taxes on certain real estate transactions, but those funds are well below projections.

State lawmakers are about to go home after failing again to enact legislation directing more taxpayer funds to support mass transit, raising the specter of more fare and toll hikes next year.

To be fair the MTA warned us that it might not happen, and anything less than 110% confidence in a promise means there is zero chance of something good happening. Then there is the state legislature, which should have protected commuters from the MTA instead of letting funding lapse. Both parties are to blame, despite the bad economy we should be able to pay for transit improvements, especially when the MTA is able to raise the fare on us.

NY Assembly Dems Want Windfall Profit Tax On Big Oil

Our federal government has done a terrible job at reining in the oil companies and their ridiculous profits. Now our very own state government is going to take a whack at it in order to help New Yorkers besides those executives who reap millions personally and billions for their companies. Oil profits are out of control and the people that suffer are those that pay at the pump, for heating oil and all things oil, from the price of shipping produce to airline tickets. Something must be done about it, maybe it can happen here first.

From Newsday:

The windfall profits tax on big oil companies that sell their products in New York would be 2 percent of gross receipts. A new surcharge on gasoline importers would be 4 percent of the price per gallon above $2. Neither could be passed through to consumers, and the first $550 million from the windfall tax would double the existing Home Energy Assistance Program, according to Silver and Cahill.

Their package of legislation would also ensure gas pumps accurately dispense the fuel consumers pay for, establish a Web site to disclose retail gas prices across the state, and allow retailers and distributors to buy and sell unbranded motor fuel.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno said earlier Tuesday that an energy bill is among the priorities that should be publicly addressed, including Senate differences with the Assembly, as the legislative session winds down. Lawmakers were scheduled to finish the session on Monday.

Having Joe Bruno as part of any positive package makes me skeptical from the get-go. Albany Dems are great at stalling bad Republican programs, but change is not their forté. A windfall profits tax is a great idea and will help many New Yorkers with their heating bills, but I'll believe it when I see it. Although accurate gas pumps are great, it might be the best our state government can do at this moment.

Your Daily McCain Moment

From the very talented JedReport:

Republican Rep Politicized Russert's Death

Republican Congressman Darrell Issa showed us just how classless and tasteless he is yesterday from the House floor. Republicans are desperate to pass energy legislation that allows for drilling in wildlife preserves and off of our nation's coastline (the part that isn't be drilled now). When you have a hardcore addiction to oil companies and their campaign cash, obviously some will do and say anything to make their case, even if it disparages someone as honored as Tim Russert was and still is.

From RawStory (click for video):

“We’re going to miss Tim Russert when it comes to the people on both sides of the issue of why we have…$5 gasoline and $135 oil,” Issa said during his condolence speech. “I think Tim Russert would have been just the right guy to hold people accountable who would talk about the 68 million acres that are, quote, ‘inactive,’ while in fact, 41 million are under current lease and use, and are producing millions of barrels of oil and natural gas a day.”

He could have stopped at "both sides" and left politics out of it. Instead Issa decided to spit on his memory by using his name to hammer away about oil legislation. Legislation that will continue to fuel global warming and a hopeless cause to meet the growing demand that must be met with alternative energy like wind and solar power. Not surprisingly, this isn't the first time he has done a disservice to the dead, he recently had done so to the victims of September 11th.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

To George Bush, Truth Is "Slander"

George Bush and "facts" never really got along that well. Whenever the truth got in the way of things, truthiness was always ready to take its place. Now that almost eight years has passed us by with George as President, there is a lot of truthiness under the bridge (and waterlogging the Constitution). If someone like Adam Boulton of SkyNews wants to talk about truth instead, the wall of delusion that surrounds our 43rd President goes up quicker than you can say "Bring em' on!"

From Crooks and Liars:

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BOULTON: And yet there are those who would say, look, let’s take Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib and rendition and all those things, and to them that is the, you know, the complete opposite of freedom.

THE PRESIDENT: Of course if you want to slander America, you can look at it one way. But you go down — what you need to do — I think I suggested you do this at a press conference — if you go down to Guantanamo and take a look at how these prisoners are treated — and they’re working it through our court systems. We are a land of law.

The standard response whenever one criticizes American policies, of course, is to proclaim that that person is an anti-American slanderer. The irony, though, is that the policies this President has pursued over the past eight years could not be more “anti-American” in the classical sense. You know, things like rule of law and respect for human rights.

But wait, there’s more:

BOULTON: But the Supreme Court have just said that — you know, ruled against what you’ve been doing down there.

THE PRESIDENT: But the district court didn’t. And the appellate court didn’t.

BOULTON: The Supreme Court is supreme, isn’t it?

Where does one even begin with this sad excuse of a man? Slandering America? Does anyone still believe the crap that comes out of his mouth? No George, it isn't slandering and it isn't slandering America, this is the truth of your Administration and the spoiled fruit of your policies as President.

As for that bit about the Supreme Court....I guess it is only Supreme when the decisions go for you and against democracy. This wasn't one of those times.

Oh how I wish it were January 20th already, it seriously can not come soon enough.

McCain Fueled By Big Oil

McCain likes to talk about his "Straight Talk Express" but never about how he gets his gas, both literally and figuratively. Perhaps there is a reason for that:

Fun Republican Campaign Buttons

There's nothing like showing off your true political colors with a bumper sticker or a button to pin on your shirt. I've collected quite a few over the years, ranging from the ordinary "Kerry/Edwards" to slightly more creative messages that can fit on a 2" button. Though I could not fathom putting on something that would disparage the other side based on their race. That unfortunately is what one Republican outfit in Texas has decided to do.

From ThinkProgress:

A booth at this weekend’s Texas Republican convention sold buttons asking, “If Obama Is President…Will We Still Call It The White House?”:


The company that makes the buttons boasts providing “Patriotic and Republican Products.” Another button they sell features a picture of Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY), with the phrase: “Life’s a b**ch, don’t vote for one.” (HT: AmericaBlog)

There is nothing funny about this nor patriotic. Perhaps the company should change their name to "Bigoted, Racist Republicans and Proud of it."

Diamondstone Will Run For City Council

Only a few short weeks since Ken Diamondstone bowed out of the SD-25 race to make way for challenger Daniel Squadron. Now he is diving right back in to the political action of Brooklyn by announcing his run for the 33rd Council District. The seat is currently held by David Yassky, but he is being term-limited out. Diamondstone will face quite a bit of competition with several candidates having already announced their intentions for CD-33. However, as Azi points out, things are looking good for Ken here in the Williamsburg/Greenpoint/DUMBO/Brooklyn Heights area.

From The Observer:

In the announcement, Diamondstone’s campaign said he will “make history by becoming Brooklyn’s first openly gay representative to any legislative body in New York State.”

He has reason to believe he can do it.

When he ran for State Senate in 2006, Diamondstone was seeking to represent a district that covers lower Manhattan and portions of Brooklyn. Diamondstone lost the Manhattan portion of the district to Connor by 2,163 votes, but he carried the Brooklyn portion by 1,384 votes.

The 33rd Council district overlaps with that area of Brooklyn.

With all of the good things Ken has done for his neighborhood and all of Brooklyn, voters will certainly recall his good name when they cast their ballots next year. The announcement was just made this morning, so there is no Council campaign site up yet, but you can still check him out at the original Diamondstone for Senate site.

Wexler Threatens Inherent Contempt On Karl Rove

The Constitution states that we have three co-equal branches of government, but Bush's White House doesn't see it that way. Now the Congress must exert its power and hold Karl Rove and others accountable for their actions. Will they take the necessary steps to bring these criminals to justice? Time will only tell....and how much time it takes is just as important.

Gore Endorses Obama...Finally

Well it only took two weeks after Hillary had lost the primary election, but her husband's VP finally endorsed our candidate, Barack Obama. Al Gore is one of the anchors of the Democratic Party and hearing him say he'll do everything he can to get Obama elected is music to my ears. I wish he hadn't waited so long, but later is better than never.

From The Huffington Post:

Gore is one of the most popular figures in the Democratic Party, but he maintained a low profile in the primary campaign.

It's the second time that Obama has rolled out a major endorsement in Michigan, a state he did not campaign in during the primary because its election violated the party rules. Obama is counting on a win in Michigan in November, but brought Gore and 2004 vice presidential nominee John Edwards to help validate him among Democrats in the state after skipping their primary.

"It means a lot, obviously," Obama said of Gore's support, as he greeted workers outside the General Motors Flint Engine South plant. "He's somebody who is a visionary, not just for the party, but for the country."

Gore also asked for donations to help fund Obama's effort _ the first time he's asked members of his Web site to contribute to a political campaign.

"Over the past 18 months, Barack Obama has united a movement. He knows change does not come from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue or Capitol Hill. It begins when people stand up and take action," Gore wrote. "With the help of millions of supporters like you, Barack Obama will bring the change we so desperately need in order to solve our country's most pressing problems."

It is no mistake that this was planned in the Wolverine State. Michigan is a battleground for the fall and Democrats will do everything it takes to make sure to deliver their 17 electoral votes for Barack Obama. All the stops will be pulled out and party leaders like Al Gore ensure that our campaign machine hums at full speed.

City Council Tosses Bottled Water

The City has talked a good game about recycling and cutting out waste, but city agencies have been slow to act. Finally after months of telling New Yorkers to stop using plastic water bottles, the City Council is falling in line and ridding itself of using plastic water bottles in the building and for functions.

From The NY Times:

Last week, the speaker’s office announced that it would stop buying bottled water for the Council’s downtown offices, which went through at least 6,000 single-serving bottles last year. As a result, bottled water will no longer be available at City Council events or official functions.

“We are obviously going to make paper cups available,” said Christine C. Quinn, the Council speaker. “We are going to urge people to bring in their own reusable water bottles.”

In addition, the city has started a pilot program with water coolers that use filtered tap water. Nine of the coolers have been installed in the last six months at City Hall and in the Municipal Building.

“It is a bit hypocritical for the city to be buying bottled water for city buildings while it is encouraging New Yorkers to drink city tap water,” said Simcha Felder, a Brooklyn councilman who pressed the cooler issue at budget hearings.

Just a lil' bit Mr. Felder, just a lil' bit. Good job on getting the Council to conserve plastic. It may be a small part of the waste New Yorkers make, but a step in the right direction is still movement. Now if only they could cut down on all those useless bills Council Members like to propose so their constituents think they're busy. Then we'd really be making a difference.

A TPM "Sunday Talk" Tribute To Tim Russert

A great tribute for an incredible man, Tim you will be missed:

Monday, June 16, 2008

Councilman McMahon Won't Answer Iraq War Questions

The last month or so has been quite unsettling since Vito Fossella announced his intentions to not run for re-election. For some reason, establishment Democrats took this to mean that only now is there ample opportunity to pick up the last Republican-held Congressional seat in New York City. That false alarm (because the district was ripe to turn before Vito's DWI/love child story came out) has produced an establishment candidate in the form of Staten Island Councilman Michael McMahon.

Now, progressive/liberal Democrats have already had a candidate that supports their issues by and large in Steve Harrison. He is adamantly against the war and all things George Bush. So why the establishment (NY's Congressional delegation, Staten Island's Dem County Cmte, etc) would pick McMahon without investigating issues and allowing for a primary is ridiculous. What is more ridiculous is that McMahon seems to agree with Bush on a few things, like Iraq.

From The Daily Gotham:

To focus then on some of the issues which are crucial, in my view, I asked Council Member McMahon some questions He replied in part and you can (and should) judge those answers for yourself.

Below, however, are three questions which Council Member McMahon didn't answer. Because I respect the abilities of those who prepared the answers, I am persuaded that the omissions are deliberate. Those omitted answers concern issues which members of the next Congress will actually face.

More war? Mr. McMahon did not state whether, were he a member of Congress, he would favor or oppose further Iraq war funding. Billions of dollars, needed at home, are funneled into Iraq-war-profiteers and into an immoral and evil war. Check it out in more detail here . If we're to believe Nobel-prize economist Joseph Stiglitz, the total tab will come to three trillion . Can Mr. McMahon say no to such squandering? He doesn't say.

Permanent bases? Mr. McMahon is silent on the issue of long-term Iraq occupation. Mr. McCain proposes that US troops remain for 100 years. Long term basing is crucial now as Mr. Bush & Mr. Cheney seek to force a Status of Forces Agreement" (SOFA) on the Iraqis and us. (For more on SOFA problems read smintheus's Kos post ) Would Mr. McMahon, were he in Congress oppose long-term basing of US forces in Iraq?

Detainee rights? Under the misleadership of John McCain, Congress tried to bar detainees labeled as "enemy combatants" by Mr. Bush from seeking court review of the lawfulness of their detention. By 5-4 the Supreme Court barred this end run around the Constitution. Mr. McCain proposes yet one more try to keep people from having their day in court. Will Mr. McMahon support justice or kangaroo courts? He doesn't say.

I expect non-answers from moderate Republicans running for this seat, not a Democratic politician and certainly not in this climate and this year. McMahon is more of a DLC product than anything resembling the man at the top of the ticket. The Democratic leadership supporting him is "playing it safe" and for the most part, that attitude has made us lose elections, not win them.

More Violent, Now Murderous Rhetoric From The Right

No one sums it up the hateful language from the right like Jeffrey Feldman does in his new book Outright Barbarous. If only he published it a few weeks later, he could have included the scumbag Michael Reagan (son of the Gipper) and his criminal rhetoric displayed last week. Reagan called for the murder of Mark Dice, simply because his views are not the same as Reagan's. Now he's under investigation by the FBI.

From RawStory:

On the June 10th edition of his nationally syndicated Radio America show, Reagan called Dice and others in the “9/11 Truth” movement “traitors” after learning that they were sending letters, declassified documents and DVDs to troops in Iraq that they say point to government involvement in the attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001.

The effort is part of The Resistance’s “Operation Inform the Soldiers.”

“I don’t want the soldiers who are risking their lives in Iraq to be used as pawns in the creation of the New World Order,” Dice said in a recent press release. “I personally know U.S. Marines who believe 9/11 was an inside job, and they tell me that many Marines suspect that this is the case but are afraid to speak up out of fear of punishment.”

“We ought to find the people who are doing this,” Reagan said, “take ‘em out, and shoot ‘em. Really. Just find the people who are sending those letters…to demoralize our troops…they are traitors to this country…and shoot them. You have a problem with that? Deal with it. But anybody who would do that doesn’t deserve to live. You call them traitors–that’s what they are–and you shoot ‘em dead. I’ll pay for the bullet.”

“How about you take Mark Dice out,” Reagan continued, “and put him in the middle of the firing range? Tie him to a post, don’t blindfold him, and let it rip and have some fun with Mark Dice.”

Now Reagan has apologized for what he said, but still, something like that is hard to take back and it is especially hard to tamper the level of hate in the rhetoric of people like Reagan. Who knows how many crazy lunatics tuned in last week to hear Reagan order Dice's death but not today's upcoming apology. Even if they did hear the apology, they might still be tempted to do a despicable act and having someone on the air to say things like Reagan did is completely unacceptable. I'm all for the first amendment and someone's right to free speech, but when it impugns on another citizen's right to life and liberty, then justifiable action must be taken, either by the radio station or the FCC.

McCain Dodges Question About Clayton Williams Fundraiser

Watch the "Maverick" duck and weave right past this question regarding the money that has been raised and will be raised by Clayton Williams:

A Book Club For Progressives, Liberals And All Those On The Left

A bright and progressive idea is hitting the market today and you can sign on by simply clicking a button (and filling some stuff out as well). The Progressive Book Club is launching now to get the progressive community and those linked to it to read books with a social conscience and a message that most liberals can agree with. The conservatives have had tools like this in their arsenal for decades, now its time that we had it too.

From The NY Times:

Starting on Monday, the new Progressive Book Club is inviting readers to join and buy three books at $1 apiece in exchange for the obligation to buy four books over the next two years.

The brainchild of Elizabeth Wagley, a former fund-raiser and communications adviser for nonprofit groups including Doctors of the World, the Progressive Book Club is trying to update the paradigm of such familiar institutions as the Book-of-the-Month Club, as well as the 44-year-old Conservative Book Club.

Ms. Wagley said that she believed the new book club would fill a void for progressively minded readers. “The right has always understood the power of ideas, the power of books as legitimizers of ideas,” she said. “I see the opportunity with the book-club structure to create a powerful tool to showcase the ideas of the left.”

As with a classic book club, members of the new club will be offered a slate of books each month, reviewed and chosen by a panel that includes the novelists Michael Chabon, Erica Jong and Barbara Kingsolver; John Podesta, president of the Center for American Progress; Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor of The Nation magazine; and Todd Gitlin, the author and a journalism and sociology professor at Columbia University.

I don't know about you, but the deal sounds almost too good to be true, but I'll take it anyway. Reading seven books within two years doesn't sound too challenging, especially for the voracious literary appetites of liberals across the country. I couldn't imagine signing up for something similar on the other side and reading the likes of Glenn Beck and Ann Coulter, but you can hand me works by Rachel Carson and Matt Taibbi any day.

John McCain Holds On To Clayton "Rape-Jokester" Williams

John McCain, as everyone is starting to find out, is a real piece of work. Far from a straight-talking maverick, the guy will do and say anything to curry favor in his quest for the Presidency. He has flip-flopped on almost every issue under the sun and embraced some controversial figures to win constituency groups. So that makes me wonder if the cross-section of people that find rape funny is a key to his electoral success?

From TPM:

John McCain's campaign has arrived at a new solution in canceling their planned fundraiser with controversial Texas oilman Clayton Williams -- a compromise that allows them to both distance themselves from a man who would seriously complicate their efforts at outreach to women voters, while also getting access to the money he's helped bring in.

The original fundraiser, planned for Monday, was cancelled after Democrats publicized a statement about rape that Williams had made during his 1990 campaign for governor, and which had arguably cost him the race.

The fundraiser will now be rescheduled for later this summer at a new venue. All the people on the guest list that Williams had organized will be invited -- just not Williams himself.

Does the McCain camp seriously think that if Clayton doesn't show up at his fundraiser that everyone will think that is a-ok? McCain probably doesn't find rape funny, even though he does have problems respecting women and their issues. The real motivation for holding on to Williams is that he knows a lot of people with a lot of cash that can be stuffed in McCain's pockets. That is really what this comes down to but of course it speaks to your character on how you go about obtaining that money.

Just How Stupid Are We?

A successful democracy requires a citizenry that is informed so that it can hold it's government accountable. Author Rick Shenkman goes on CNN to explain how we as a country do not know the basics of our government and the details of what is going on in this nation and the world to make good decisions when it is time to go in the voting booth. I'll be checking out his book and I hope all of you do as well.

Disclaimer: It isn't that we are personally stupid, it is that American politics is stupid and that we need to help change it.

The Case Of Mohammad Ahktiar And The Failure Of Our Gov't

Before McClatchy Newspapers investigated the case of Mohammad Ahktiar, barely anyone knew his name in the American or even international public. Ahktiar has been imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay for years now and for no good reason other than that terrorist groups passed false information to the United States. He has been attacked in prison for helping the Afghan government, not fighting it, U.S. forces or anyone of the kind.

From McClatchy:

GARDEZ, Afghanistan — The militants crept up behind Mohammed Akhtiar as he squatted at the spigot to wash his hands before evening prayers at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp.

They shouted "Allahu Akbar" — God is great — as one of them hefted a metal mop squeezer into the air, slammed it into Akhtiar's head and sent thick streams of blood running down his face.

Akhtiar was among the more than 770 terrorism suspects imprisoned at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. They are the men the Bush administration described as "the worst of the worst."

But Akhtiar was no terrorist. American troops had dragged him out of his Afghanistan home in 2003 and held him in Guantanamo for three years in the belief that he was an insurgent involved in rocket attacks on U.S. forces. The Islamic radicals in Guantanamo's Camp Four who hissed "infidel" and spat at Akhtiar, however, knew something his captors didn't: The U.S. government had the wrong guy.

The worst thing is that they knew Ahktiar and many others were wrongly imprisoned and did nothing to help them with their situation. On top of that troops beat the prisoners often and without regard for presumed guilt or innocence. The Bush Administration helped to form this culture of snatching up people who were completely innocent or had little intelligence value. Instead of trying to make things right and send the wrongly accused back home to their families, secrets and lies were added to the mix from the lowly prison guards all the way on up to the President himself.

The whole article is a damning account of what has and does go on at Guantanamo Bay. McClatchy has been investigating the prison for months and has interviewed dozens. Check their site for continuing stories on Guantanamo throughout the week.

Bugs That Eat Garbage Make Oil

Science fiction is a wonderful space in the world of literature, making it's readers dream about things that are out of this world or in a time-period far into the future. Yet when tall tales become reality, people really take notice. LS9 might just be that latest dream-come-true. Imagine engineered bacteria that can eat garbage and secrete oil. Not only is it oil, but oil that does not harm the environment. The only thing I ask is that they make it and make a lot of it soon, because our world needs a miracle.

From The UK Times:

LS9 has already convinced one oil industry veteran of its plan: Bob Walsh, 50, who now serves as the firm’s president after a 26-year career at Shell, most recently running European supply operations in London. “How many times in your life do you get the opportunity to grow a multi-billion-dollar company?” he asks. It is a bold statement from a man who works in a glorified cubicle in a San Francisco industrial estate for a company that describes itself as being “prerevenue”.

Inside LS9’s cluttered laboratory – funded by $20 million of start-up capital from investors including Vinod Khosla, the Indian-American entrepreneur who co-founded Sun Micro-systems – Mr Pal explains that LS9’s bugs are single-cell organisms, each a fraction of a billionth the size of an ant. They start out as industrial yeast or nonpathogenic strains of E. coli, but LS9 modifies them by custom-de-signing their DNA. “Five to seven years ago, that process would have taken months and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars,” he says. “Now it can take weeks and cost maybe $20,000.”

Because crude oil (which can be refined into other products, such as petroleum or jet fuel) is only a few molecular stages removed from the fatty acids normally excreted by yeast or E. coli during fermentation, it does not take much fiddling to get the desired result.

For fermentation to take place you need raw material, or feedstock, as it is known in the biofuels industry. Anything will do as long as it can be broken down into sugars, with the byproduct ideally burnt to produce electricity to run the plant.

This is the type of innovation that our country and our world needs. If only our government had helped, we could have been farther along down this path. Our current government would rather stick to oil in the way that oil sticks nearly anything it touches. In a few short months we will have a new Administration that can not only help bring out products like LS9, but wind, water and solar energy as well. The more options we have out on the table, the better. For now we'll watch these little bugs and hope for the best.

Obama's Father's Day Speech

Barack Obama honored fathers who take care of their children....and speaks truth about those who don't:

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Rudy Wants To Cash In On Fundraisers

For all intensive purposes, Rudy Giuliani is a star in his Grand Old Party. Despite losing in flame-out fashion this past winter, he is still Mr. 9/11 to Republicans, the "Mayor that tamed big, bad liberal New York" or something like that. Due to that name recognition and notoriety, he has been sought after as a keynote speaker for fundraisers to help out incumbents and would-be Congress-critters desperate for cash when all the conservative money is going primarily to the RNC and McCain campaign. The thing is, with Rudy there's a catch to hear him utter "9/11, 9/11 and 9/11."

From The NY Times:

Mr. Giuliani’s aides have told the National Republican Congressional Committee and Congressional candidates that if he makes an appearance, he wants the candidates to help him get rid of his presidential campaign debt.

The unusual request underscores the financial predicament Mr. Giuliani finds himself in, after he ended his presidential bid this year with roughly $3.6 million in campaign debt. Traditionally, prominent party figures help lower-tier candidates by headlining fund-raising events in return for good will and future political alliances, but do not receive funds themselves.

Mr. Giuliani’s debt includes a $500,000 personal loan that he made to the campaign, according to his latest campaign finance report.

Mr. Giuliani’s move has irritated some of his Republican colleagues, who say that the arrangement would put an additional strain on candidates who in many cases are struggling to raise money. Some say rather than making a generous gesture, the former mayor is seeking to tap local candidates’ donors.

When it comes to Rudy G., Rudy is always Rudy's number 1, no doubt about it. If he wants to suck cash from GOP candidates, more power to him, it beats the people he previously used and abused.