Friday, July 25, 2008

The White House Has A Fact Checker?

With all the wasteful spending in Washington, one particular job is on or near the top of the list when it comes to ridiculous positions. There are many different spot one can fill in the White House, and particularly in the Bush White House. Yet one job that has no business being there is that of Staci A. Wheeler....the White House fact checker.

From The Washington Post:

Staci A. Wheeler, the White House's director of fact checking, is -- at $60,000 -- either being paid way too little or way too much, depending on how you want to look at it.

Even veteran Washington correspondent Dan Froomkin knows what's up. Instead of trying to keep up this facade of truthfulness (truthiness is in no short supply) they could use that sixty grand to pay down the debt, or even start a truthiness department. No offense to Ms. Wheeler, but come on, who do you think you're fooling?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

McCain Fudges The Facts At The Fudge Haus

As Obama addressed hundreds of thousands in Berlin, McCain talked lied to press while competing with nearby wind chimes......what a joke!

Optiver Holdings, First Of Many Oil Speculators Charged

While the Commodity Futures Trading Commission denies that oil speculators are a significant factor in the surging price of oil, they have been going after speculators with a vengeance lately. Today they snagged their first by charging three top executives of Optiver Holdings. Apparently they were successfully manipulating the price so that they bought big at the end of the day to drive prices up and then sold big to make it go down again.

From CNN:

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission accused Optiver Holding, two of its subsidiaries and three employees with manipulation and attempted manipulation of crude oil, heating oil and gasoline futures on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

"Optiver traders amassed large trading positions, then conducted trades in such a way to bully and hammer the markets," CFTC Acting Chairman Walt Lukken said at a press conference. "These charges go to the heart of the CFTC's core mission of detecting and rooting out illegal manipulation of the markets."

In May, under the backdrop of record oil prices and calls from legislators to crack down on speculative oil trading and market manipulation, the CFTC announced a wide-ranging probe into oil price manipulation. The agency says it has dozens of investigations ongoing.

The complaint filed Thursday names Bastiaan van Kempen, chief executive; Christopher Dowson, a head trader; and Randal Meijer, head of trading at an Optiver subsidiary.

Of course there are plenty of factors that are used to determine the price of oil. A hurricane, a war, supply and demand....they're all important. Yet Optiver is just one of many speculators out there (I'm fully confident, as is the CFTC, that there will be more illegalities found) messing with the market and ultimately the price of a gallon of gas. All of them should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, like all the corporate crooks out there.

The Center Of Berlin Vs German Restaurant In Ohio

Millions are getting ready to tune in to Barack Obama's speech at the Brandenburg Gate Victory Column in the center of Berlin this afternoon (at night in Germany). He promises a substantial speech while hundreds of thousands of Berliners watch from below with a level of excitement not seen since John F. Kennedy uttered the famous line "Ich bin ein Berliner" more than forty years ago. So as we wait, what, pray tell is John McCain doing?

From TPM:

Farah Hice, a hostess at Schmidt's Restaurant and Sausage Haus in Columbus, just confirmed to me by phone that McCain just walked into the restaurant and is staying for lunch.

Perhaps the goal is to mock Obama's speech, just as the RNC is trying to do by running ads in three places in the United States called "Berlin." But doesn't it risk making McCain look a bit small in comparison?

Hmm, we can't tell for sure about his motivation to eat schnitzel today but the ads are clearly an attempt to mock Barack Obama. Well, I hope the Senator from Arizona enjoys his lunch, while the world watches our next President make history.

Barack Obama: Live From Berlin

I tried his UstreamTV feed, but it just couldn't handle the traffic, so here is MSNBC's feed:

Democracy For NYC's 4th Annual Benefit

Last night in Tribeca the local Democracy for America chapter, DfNYC, held its 4th annual fund-raiser and it was another success in their relatively short but sweet stand on New York City's political stage. Air America Radio's President (and former Public Advocate) Mark Green and Democracy for America chairman Jim Dean were the honored speakers of the evening. Baratunde Thurston of Laughing Liberally provided the laughs and politicos abounded throughout the beautiful lounge.

As an organizer with the event, I was pleased to see an impressive turnout last night. Members schmoozed with elected officials such as David Yassky, Tony Avella and Eric Gioia. Plenty of candidates for various offices around the state were in the room as well. Jimmy Dahroug, Luke Henry, Norman Siegel, Josh Skaller and Don Barber all made their case to the astute voters that belong to Democracy for NYC.

Pictured above from left to right is State Senate candidate Don Barber, Air America's Mark Green, DfNYC Executive Director Tracey Denton and Finance Chair Lewis Cohen. More pictures of the event can be found here.

Not One, Not Two, But Three Fare Increases By The MTA

Over time the price of admission on the MTA's subway system will go up, but for them to insist on three increases in less than three years? That is insane. Like I pointed out yesterday, the Authority depends on funds from an unreliable system of real estate taxes. Albany must fix this and find a better way to fund our city's mass transit, because articles like this are unacceptable.

From The NYT CityRoom:

At a contentious meeting at its Midtown headquarters, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority board provided new details about its plan to plug a gaping hole in its finances. Not only is it seeking an 8 percent increase in revenue from fares and tolls, to take effect July 2009, but it also is requesting an additional 5 percent to take effect by January 2011 — for a cumulative increase of 13.4 percent over 18 months.

In presenting its preliminary budget for the 2009 fiscal year on Wednesday morning, the authority made no attempt to conceal what it considers to be its worst fiscal situation since the economic downturn that followed 9/11. When fares last went up, in March, the authority’s plan was not to have another fare increase until January 2010, with future increases every two years thereafter. Now that entire schedule has been moved forward — by six months for the initial increase and by a year for the projected future increases. (Jeremy Soffin, an authority spokesman, said after the meeting that the 2011 increase might be pushed ahead a few months to get as close as possible to the goal of two years between increases.)

The authority’s leaders said the fare and toll increases are necessary by the confluence of soaring energy prices and a plunge in revenue from real-estate transactions, which are a prime source of the authority’s revenue. The authority is struggling to pay the interest on billions of dollars in debts that have accumulated since the 1980s, but exploded since 2000, to pay for expensive equipment upgrades; debt service alone is expected to consume one-fifth of all authority spending by 2012.

Soaring energies prices I can sympathize with, but not at a 13.4 percent cost increase (on top of the latest jump in fares in the spring of this year). As much as I dislike Mayor Bloomberg, he is right when he said that any company with a ten billion dollar budget can find a way to close a 5% gap. He did it to the city (which sucks for services of course) and the MTA can do it for themselves so they do not always immediately pass on the cost to the straphanger.

Nas Plays Out Racist Bill O And Fox News

Fox News denied rap artist Nas' 600,000 plus signatures to stop their racist diatribes. Nas wasn't done though, he went over to the Colbert Report to make his case heard...and his personal rap to Bill O'Falafel and his Fox News bosses:

Mercury-On-Hudson: Environmental Action Works

Mercury, besides its practicality in older thermostats, is a toxin that you do not want to mess with. Coal-fired power plants are largely responsible for emitting it into the air, before it falls down to the ground and into our water supply. For decades, fish tainted with mercury have been slowly poisoning us (if you eat too much of course, our bodies can detoxify small amounts at a time) without any kind of labels, since the fish certainly won't tell you, you can forget about the fisherman. The good news in all of this is that we've known about the problem for a while, and environmental groups have been fighting to clean up mercury emitters. In New York, NYPIRG has been instrumental in cleaning the Hudson river, and guess what?

It works:

STONY BROOK, N.Y., July 23, 2008 — Jeffrey S. Levinton, Distinguished Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolution at Stony Brook University and the senior author of the study done with Sharon T. Pochron, Adjunct Professor in the Department of Anthropology at Stony Brook University, found that mercury in common Hudson River fish including striped bass, yellow perch, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and carp, has declined strongly over the past three decades. The finding was reported in the August issue of the journal /Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry*. Levinton’s research indicates that the trends are in line with the remarkable recovery that the Hudson River has experienced over the past few decades, now that activist groups, government officials and industry are beginning to cooperate to help clean up the river system.

Isn't that amazing, a little lot of hard work can accomplish great things if we are willing to stay committed to the cause. Power plants upstate were certainly not going to do this themselves, simply because it wasn't profitable. It took impassioned activism to convince state authorities to regulate the polluters, and that is exactly what happened.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Randy "Duke" Cunningham Begs Bush For A Pardon

With less than six months to go in the Bush presidency, one thing we are coming close to (besides a dramatic change in our country) is Presidential pardon season. Plenty of crooks, criminals and miscreants are writing to George W. Bush to get their prison or parole terms undone. Most likely, the candidates with the best shot of getting a pardon will have had some personal contact with George beforehand. That would include crooks like ex-Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-CA Arizona minimum security prison).

From The Boston Globe:

LOS ANGELES—Former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, who is serving federal prison time for accepting millions of dollars in bribes, has asked President Bush to grant him clemency.

The San Diego Republican has submitted a petition to commute his sentence, Erik Ablin, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Justice, said Monday. No details were provided.

Cunningham was sentenced to eight years and four months in prison after pleading guilty in November 2005 to taking $2.4 million in cash, trips, prostitute services and other gifts as bribes from defense contractors in exchange for government contracts.

I wonder what his former constituents think of this? I'd say they'd be inclined not to endorse a commutation, heck even the new Republican in office there is against it. I hope he gets to serve that entire sentence, he deserves all eight years and four months....and then some. He took advantage of his office fully knowing that what he was doing was against the law. Be a man and suck it up Randy.

Wes Clark Speaks Up For Barack On Iraq

As a General that has successfully implemented strategies on the battlefield, he diffuses any doubt about Barack's position concerning Iraq:

On Gays In The Military: Larry Craig Still A Hypocrite In Denial

The Democratic majority in Congress, although pitifully weak in many ways is trying to do at least a few positive things. Take for example, the hearings that can rid our armed forces of the ridiculous "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy that demands outed troops be discharged. Thankfully the homophobes on Capitol Hill are becoming a small minority much like the general consensus around the country, where three out of four Americans believe we need to ditch the anti-gay policy. Though the haters are still there, including one who is still in serious denial about himself.

From ThinkProgress:

Today, the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel is holding the first congressional hearings on the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in 15 years. To mark the occasion, the conservative news outlet asked some members of Congress if they still support the discriminatory program. Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID), who was busted last year for allegedly trying to pick up another male in an airport bathroom, said that he believes “we ought to sustain it“:

Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) told, “Current policy has served us well. I think we ought to sustain it. I see no evidence that it should be repealed.”

Larry Craig wouldn't know if something served him well if, nevermind that. It really is sad that he hates himself and his sexuality that much that he has to take it out on thousands of our soldiers that do crucial work only to be discharged to the detriment of their fellow soldiers in the war zone. If people want to serve in the military, they should be able to do it while preserving their freedom of sexuality.

Robert Novak Commits Hit And Run, Charged For Minor Violation By D.C.P.D.

Robert Novak, right-wing columnist, pundit and propaganda spreader, was seen striking a cyclist and trying to flee the seen down in Washington, D.C. today. Thanks to the efforts of another rider on two wheels, Novak was stopped and held until the police came. Unfortunately for justice's sake, the police let him go with a minor ticket (failing to yield) because he claimed he didn't see the man he struck. As he bloviates in politics, he is full of it here as well.

From Politico:

“I didn’t know I hit him. ... I feel terrible,” a shaken Novak told reporters from Politico and WJLA as he was returning to his car. "He's not dead, that's the main thing." Novak said he was a block away from 18th and K streets Northwest, where the accident occurred, when a bicyclist stopped him and said he had hit someone. He said he was cited for failing to yield the right of way.

The bicyclist was David Bono, a partner at Harkins Cunningham, who was on his usual bike commute to work at 1700 K St. N.W. when he witnessed the accident.

As he traveled east on K Street, crossing 18th, Bono said "a black Corvette convertible with top closed plows into the guy. The guy is sort of splayed into the windshield.”

Bono said that the pedestrian, who was crossing the street on a "Walk" signal and was in the crosswalk, rolled off the windshield and that Novak then made a right into the service lane of K Street. “This car is speeding away. What’s going through my mind is, you just can’t hit a pedestrian and drive away,” Bono said.

He said he chased Novak half a block down K Street, finally caught up with him and then put his bike in front of the car to block it and called 911. Traffic immediately backed up, horns blaring, until commuters behind Novak backed up so he could pull over.

I'm sorry but if you hit someone with your car it makes a noise, I know this, because I was hit by a taxicab almost two years ago. Not only that, but if the victim gets splayed out on your windshield, there is no way you can't see them unless you are driving while legally blind and deaf. While that may apply to Novak's politics, driving is a serious matter and when you hit someone and then drive away, that is a serious crime. Novak may have lied to the police to get away, but the DC police better be reviewing cameras on K Street (you know they are there) to get the real picture.

Obama Visits Yad Vashem

While Obama pays his respects at Yad Vashem, McCain's campaign accuses Obama of flip-flopping on genocide. One candidate shows class while the other shows he has none at all.

CBS Defends Defenseless McCain Interview

By now, I know that when John McCain does an interview, he is bound to lie about something that he purports to take a stand on. He will also lie when Barack Obama's position makes him look like a weak and ineffective leader. What I'd like to see from the press is that they call him on his deception, not for them to actively help McCain sound better by editing his answers. Once the blogosphere, Keith Olbermann and eventually other outlets caught on that CBS screwed around with the interview, they came back not with an apology, but this piece of crap.

From The Politico:

"As all news organizations do with extended interviews, last night’s Obama and McCain interviews were edited to fit the available time and to give viewers a fair expression of the candidates' major differences," CBS spokeswoman Jennifer Farley emailed. "The full transcript and video were and still are available at"

That is one trick the traditional media excels in. Claiming that it is online is great for the percentage of people that look up their news on the web, but as anyone knows, the news has a much deeper impact when it is televised. If CBS was really short of time, they should have edited out whole questions and their subsequent answers, not mish-mash answers to different questions.

Also, CBS and Couric should take less questions so that you can follow up on important matters. Couric failed on that by not pointing out that the Anbar Awakening started happening before the surge was a twinkle in Bush's eye. It is the job of the press to get to the bottom of things, not simply to bend over and let the candidate shove their bullshit wholesale to the public.

What a disgrace! Jeers to CBS and Couric for that shameless interview....and equally horrendous defense of the matter.

Sexism Still Exists? Not According To Misogynists At Fox News

Ah Fox News, regurgitator of all ridiculous Republican talking points and general media bullshit. They were at it again this morning, specifically the dynamic duo Steve Doocy and Brian Kilmeade. They brought up the subject of sexism and wondered if it really affects women anymore. Perhaps because the Democratic Congress wants to legislate equal pay between the sexes? Well, lets see what happened.

From ThinkProgress:


DOOCY: Do you think sexism, in traditional television news viewing in the evening, has eroded significantly?

KILMEADE: Have we beat sexism though? I think we’re all equal. I think men and women are equal. Do you?


DOOCY: All you have to do is look at the empirical facts that women are paid less for the same job. So we’re making a lot of headway. But for her to say that she’s a victim of sexism and Barack Obama not a victim of racism. This is something different.

CARLSON: It’s too multi-faceted to have it be only just one thing. You cannot deduce from that that sexism still does not exist.

KILMEADE: I don’t see it. I look at women and say, “Hey! Hey equal!”

DOOCY: No, what you say is, “Hey, honey! Get me a sandwich!”

KILMEADE: No, I don’t say, “Honey, get me a sandwich!”

DOOCY: I do! Sweetie!

CARLSON: This is a slippery slope. So I think we should just end the discussion and move on to something else.

KILMEADE: Are you looking at the WNBA/NBA ratings? The problem with women’s sports is that women don’t watch.

DOOCY: It’s not as interesting.

KILMEADE: Women’s sports isn’t as interesting?

DOOCY: I don’t think the WNBA is as interesting as, for instance, college basketball. I like that a lot better.

KILMEADE: Women’s college basketball.

DOOCY: Yeah.

CARLSON: As a woman, I enjoy watching sports.

KILMEADE: You’ve got to get more of your people to watch sports.

DOOCY: Yeah, your people! Get your people!

CARLSON: Let’s move on to the hurricane —

DOOCY: We are married to some of her people.

KILMEADE: That’s why we have such –

CARLSON: Thanks for the reminder for when Brian goes home today — this afternoon. At some point. Okay, let’s get back to the hurricane.

Nothing sexist in there, except for the "honey," "sweetie" and ridiculous mention of the WNBA. Gretchen certainly did not like the topic and where Doocy/Kilmeade were taking it. Though hey, I'm sure there are plenty of misogynists that watch Fox News, so they probably thought it was a good segment. Equal pay for women, how dare you say that it isn't working out well for 51% of Americans. So, um, yeah, what about that hurricane?

McCain Rewrites History Again

And Katie Couric, the expert journalist that she is, doesn't bother calling him on his lie.

Democracy for NYC Party Tonight!

(Note: I am on the host committee for this event)

Tonight Democracy for New York City is holding its 4th annual benefit in Tribeca. The group that emerged from the Dean for America campaign in NYC is still going strong and doing so much in our city as well as the state. So to celebrate its fourth anniversary, DfNYC has Democracy for America chairman Jim Dean and Air America Radio President Mark Green as our special guests. Comedian Baratunde Thurston will be doing his shtick as well, I saw him at Netroots Nation this past weekend, and I guarantee you, he's funny.

Here are the details:

Wednesday, July 23, 2008
6:30pm - 9:00pm
M1-5 at 52 Walker Street

Between Church Street & Broadway
6, J, M, N, Q, or W train to Canal Street
This venue is completely wheelchair and disabled accessible.

Please RSVP at

Please join Democracy for NYC for our 4th Annual Summer Cocktail Reception - Unity '08 - as we prepare to take back the White House in November and celebrate Democratic victories in the House and Senate.

Special Guest Speakers
Mark Green, Chairman of Air America Radio
Jim Dean, Chairman of Democracy for America

Political comedy by Laughing Liberally's Baratunde Thurston

Contribution levels:
DFNYC Benefactor - $2,500
DFNYC Patron - $1,000
DFNYC Loyalist - $500
DFNYC Enthusiast - $250
DFNYC Supporter - $100
DFNYC Friend - $50

Plus there will be plenty of elected officials in attendance so come on down and enjoy some drinks and a few hors d'ourves with New York City's progressive community tonight!

Paterson Peeved By MTA

After the story broke that the MTA is looking into increasing the fare for the second time in two years, official reaction from those that ultimately give approval were ticked off at the the Authority, including Mayor Bloomberg and Governor Paterson. The opposition was across the board and a thankful sign for straphangers that are still dealing with the increase instituted earlier this year.

From The NY Times:

Gov. David A. Paterson on Tuesday sternly criticized the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s proposal to increase subway, bus and commuter rail fares and called on the authority to take a second look at its finances before it formally asks for an increase. However, Mr. Paterson did not say whether he would support the authority’s plea for more operating aid from the state.

Speaking to reporters after a news conference here on moderately priced housing, Mr. Paterson said that now was not the time to ask commuters, who are already feeling pinched by a rate increase earlier this year, to pay more to use the city’s transit system, bridges and tunnels.

“Another fare hike this soon after the last fare hike, just in my opinion, is not wise,” he said. “This just cannot become the new way that the M.T.A. solves problems. Every time there is an issue, pass along the increase.”

Though that is exactly what the board wants to do. Hemmerdinger doesn't know any different and neither do his wealthy cohorts. While the Governor was mostly respectful in his statement, others like the Mayor weren't so kind, going as far as saying that the board has poor management skills. That is technically true, so there is nothing to gasp at here.

What we need to see is the MTA and the state government get on the ball and start working on the fiscal mismanagement that has plagued the Authority. Albany, not the straphangers, need to foot this bill. For them to rely on real estate taxes for all this time is ridiculous. Any good economist will tell you that when the market starts falling, all sectors including real estate will fall. No matter what gets bought and sold, the MTA still needs to run and improve service. In the long term that budget needs serious help. In the meantime, the MTA needs an overhaul care of the state legislature.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Bush Wants To 12-Step Wall Street

Wow, just wow:

How much longer is this moron going to be around?

Vanity Fair Backs Up New Yorker Mag

Since both magazines are owned by Conde Nast, the writers and illustrators for the publications know each other to at least some degree. When the furor erupted over the New Yorker's miserable attempt at satire, the staff of Vanity Fair was glad it was the folks downstairs taking the heat. Now a couple weeks later, they want to jump in the fray with this un-official cover of McCain over to my left. While it may not be the first counter to the Obama illustration, it definitely looks a lot better than Seattle P-I's.

Kudos to you Vanity Fair, for actually doing piece of satire on a piece of crap that was trying to be satirical. Oh, the irony of it all!

Bravo! Bravo!

Silver Rakes In Nearly $20K From Congestion-Pricing Opponents

Congestion pricing was a controversial measure, depending on how close you were located to the center of Manhattan as well as how you got to work, people either loved it or hated it. Big personalities dominated on either side, Bloomberg was for it, Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver destroyed it. Oh wait, but he said he supported it (being that his district makes up most of Lower Manhattan) though reportedly not enough Democrats supported it in the Assembly and Silver didn't even let it come to a vote.

The no-vote pissed Bloomie and others off in Manhattan, while Shelly managed to thwart another proposal to fix one aspect of New York like he has so many times in the last decade or two. So now as the primary season heats up and Sheldon is being challenged by Paul Newell and Luke Henry, he needs his friends to come to bat for him and write big checks to put distance between him and them. Want to see who some of those contributors are?

From Streetsblog:

Here's a rundown of major donations to his campaign from groups who sided against pricing or influenced the proposed legislation.

Note that most of the contributions were given before the Assembly's Democratic conference scuttled the pricing bill in a closed-door session. (Groups are located within the state of New York unless otherwise noted.)

  • BLACK CAR PAC: $2500, March 19
  • UNITED BUS CORPORATION: $2500, March 14
  • HUNTINGTON COACH, LLC: $2500, March 14
  • KENSINGTON ENTERPRISES LLC (parking garage): $2000, March 19
  • VANGUARD CAR RENTAL USA INC. (Tulsa, OK): $1500, May 16
  • SYLVAN FORESTER GARAGE, LLC: $1000, March 19
  • CHAMPION PARKING 36 LLC: $1000, March 19
  • ENTERPRISE RENT A CAR NY PAC: $1000, March 19
Source: New York State Board of Elections

So not only did the anti-congestion pricing forces come to Shelly's aid, they came right before that important bill wanted to come to the floor. Instead, Silver got his campaign account bulked up and the bill never saw the light of day. In Albany (and many other legislatures) that is how things work when those with power and a lust for large contributions get their way. That is why we must fight bad Democrats like Shelly, and put in better, more progressive ones like Paul Newell or Luke Henry.

Obama Takes Center Stage In The Middle East

Unlike McCain, Obama goes in to start re-building bridges burnt by the Bush Administration. McCain's last visit was the same old smoke and mirrors extravaganza that George Bush is known for, while the world is watching with much attention at the man they hope will lead the United States away from the policies of the past.

The Bailout Of Freddie And Fannie That's Not A Bailout

George Bush denied that the federal assistance to the two mortgage giants was a federal bailout. So I am confused as to what to call the $25 billion dollar tab that the American taxpayers are picking up to save the two companies (that were started with government money btw). The woes of the mortgage industry continue to ripple across the national and even international economy. To counter bad times, the President expects the taxpayer to pick up the tab, instead of the greedy corporations that helped to start the mess we are in. Of course, the hook to this is that they say it probably won't be needed.

From The NY Times:

The budget office said there was a better than even chance that the rescue package would not be needed before the end of 2009 and would not cost taxpayers any money. But the office also estimated a 5 percent chance that the mortgage companies, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, could lose $100 billion, which would cost taxpayers far more than $25 billion.
But what do they really know?

Mr. Orszag, at a briefing with reporters, acknowledged that pinpointing the eventual cost of the package was impossible. “There is very significant uncertainty involved here,” he said.
So if our "investment" works out it'll be good for us, right?

Mr. Orszag said that the analysis by his office did not distinguish between the different forms of aid that might be offered — a credit line or a stock purchase — and that the analysis showed no short-term potential financial benefit for taxpayers even if Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac perform well.

But he said the analysis found substantial risk for taxpayers if the companies had steep losses and would not say if his office had analyzed the implications of a full government takeover of the companies.

Ah so we're basically screwed either way, and guess who the winner in all of this is? The executives in the custom-tailored suits that have run this ship too close to shore. The only question is how close will it get before irreparably damaging the economy.

Powell Fights Back Against Towns, Refutes Lies

As we get further into primary season here in New York, entrenched incumbents are starting to get anxious and mean-spirited as their challengers gear up and the constituency demands change. There are plenty of these people in office across our state, but one of the larger spectacles is Ed Towns. He has been in office for a quarter of a century and long ago cast off the wishes and concerns of the people in the district in exchange for big corporate money.

Now challenger Kevin Powell is ready to lead the fight to depose Towns, but it is going to get nasty and its going to happen quickly. While Towns can raise huge sums of money, Powell is not in as good a financial spot, since he gets contributions from the people as opposed to special interests. So what does he do when Towns starts throwing out barbs?

Write him back:

Dear Congressman Towns:

I hope you and your family are well.

I am forced to write this open letter because you have failed to stand up and be counted during this election. After a quarter century you have also not delivered for the people in your district. I am disappointed because I had thought that a senior politician such as yourself, a 25-year-veteran of Congress, would be more than happy to participate in our nation's democratic process and agree to a debate in the venue of your choice. The condition of the district and your track record may have motivated you to stay away from the spotlight with the hope that you can just manage to squeak by and get back into office for yet another term.

But rather than meet me face to face to discuss the issues and challenges we have as a nation, you have chosen the low road. Please allow me to remind you that this path is wide and has led many of our politicians to perdition. Your attempts to discredit my campaign for Congress by personal attacks and character assassination will not work. The people of Brooklyn are tired of the same old political tricks. They demand a change. Instead of recognizing the needs of the people you are supposed to represent, you have chosen to tell lies about me and to distort my life to make me seem like some sort of criminal.

These underhanded tactics are disturbing to me on so many levels. I really didn't expect this from you. As someone born in North Carolina in the early 1930s, during the era of legal segregation, I thought you would know better than most how it feels to be treated in such a rude and disrespectful manner. And as someone who participated in our Civil Rights Movement, I thought you would remember that the whole point of that struggle was to create a level playing field so that future generations of African Americans would be able to pursue their lives and their dreams in liberty and happiness.

I challenge you, Congressman Towns, to FIVE PUBLIC DEBATES, any time and any place, to talk about the real issues facing the people of Brooklyn:

Those issues include the war, the economy, education, health care and many others. Instead of talking about issues that concern residents, Towns resorts to character assassination and innuendo. He would rather skip out of town than debate a challenger from his district. Towns has shown both in his voting record and his involvement (or lack there of) in the community that he does not care for an honest debate on the issues, because he knows that if he does, he'll lose. That is why we must continue to hammer him from now till election day so that we not only have more Democrats in the House for the next Congress, but better ones too.

Bloomberg Shamelessly Defends "Free Trade"

There's a reason that many New Yorkers think Mayor Bloomberg is out of touch with the average working American. That antipathy he harbors was in full effect yesterday for the cameras when he called us losers for not wanting our government to stand up for fair trade and not free trade. He thinks we need to be more competitive (btw, how did your education initiative in NYC go Mr. Mayor?) Then he calls us losers and schools us on what unabated "free" trade does to the world economy. He accepts the concept that workers will work for less and less, but as a man with over $20 billion to his name, he could care less what happens to the 6.6 or 6.7 billion people below him.

Jews Love Obama. Lieberman? Eh, Not So Much

As an American Jew, the things I heard from my fellow Jewish Dems who were Hillary supporters were unbelievable (actually in politics, I believe anything that comes out of the gutter). As far as the cultural/religious items that came up, the #1 complaint was that Obama wouldn't support Israel and following that, many Jewish Dems would jump ship to McCain. At some of them I laughed, others that were in my family got a more toned down response. I knew that they had no idea of what they were talking about and now I have my proof....and a bonus cookie to go with it.

From The Huffington Post:

Among the most high-profile Jews in Congress, Lieberman is viewed far more unfavorably than the presumptive Democratic nominee, according to a new poll. Only 37 percent of Jews view the Connecticut Independent in a favorable light compared to 48 percent who have a negative perception. As for Obama, 60 percent of Jews view him favorably while 34 percent view him unfavorably.

The findings were released as part of a recent survey of American Jews by the new progressive pro-Israel group J Street. They seem to upturn some of this year's conventional political wisdom.

Obama, who is set to travel to Israel this week, is often described in the press as facing significant obstacles to winning Jewish support, in part because of false claims that he is a Muslim. Lieberman, meanwhile, is regularly quoted disparaging Obama's credentials on topics considered dear to the Jewish voter's heart: toughness on Iran and support for the Jewish state. Asked recently whether he should be questioning Obama's commitment to Israel, the 2000 Democratic vice presidential nominee responded, "why wouldn't I do that?"

Lieberman "does that" because he'll try anything to keep the war machine humming. The majority of American Jews do not like war for many obvious reasons and they see the Democratic party as a conduit to end the occupation in Iraq. So while Lieberman is an Orthodox Jew and Obama is a Christian, the Jewish segment of the population is smart enough to see the big picture and identify with the politician that best fits their views, both foreign and domestic.

More Fare Increase Talk From MTA

As anyone without a car in New York knows (and there are many), we are dependent on the MTA to get somehwhere in the city that is more than a few blocks away. Buses and subways carry millions of people everyday and frankly, the service is shoddy and sub-par. Not enough money is invested in repair crews nor those that build projects like the Second Avenue line. Despite all that, we are looking at another fare increase to be "debated" this year and enacted in 2009.

From The NY Daily News:

The hike, affecting more than 8 million daily subway, bus and commuter railroad riders, would go into effect next July, an official briefed on the proposal said. If implemented, straphangers and drivers would be hit with the second increase in as many years.

Officials have not worked out specific changes to the various MetroCard options and prices.

It's widely expected the $2 base fare, which has remained stable for several years, would be targeted for a 25-cent rise.

"It's ridiculous," James Josie, 35, a laid-off security guard from the Bronx, said Monday as he waited for a subway train in Times Square. "Every year they seem to raise the fares."

Yes James, it is ridiculous and especially unfair. The MTA makes one false promise after another, only to interject these damned fare increases in between a lie here and there. This time though, they might just forget about making improvements along with a possible $2.25 fare and just shove that up our collective asses with no lube whatsoever.

Of course, Albany could help us out. Governor Paterson and the legislature could tell the MTA to STFU and tell the Authority how things are going to be. They can fund them at the level necessary to keep things going and improving and pay for it by holding Wall Street's hand through this difficult time for the nation's economy. We need to stop bailing out the rich and start helping people who think know making $200,000 a year or more is a lot of money.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Siegelman Speaks At Netroots Nation

Don Siegelman knows what Karl Rove did (illegally) to him and isn't afraid to talk about the abuse of power used by Rove and the White House to go after the former Governor.

Newsflash! George Bush Heard About YouTube!

And he is afraid of the Internets too! George Bush, as well evidenced by his policies both foreign and domestic in the last eight years, is completely out of touch with the American people. Inside his bubble, everyone loves him and he can do no wrong. Yet the outside is starting to reach in to his cozy little nest at 1600 Pennsylvania, because he has heard about what YouTube can do to him.

From The Arizona Daily Star:

So sensitive were Republicans about information getting out about the goings-on at the Tucson fundraiser hosted by President Bush Friday morning, even W. himself made sure to ask the 400 or so people at the event to turn off any recording devices.

"I don't know a lot about technology," the president said, according to one insider, "but I do know about YouTube."

Held in a tent outside a nearly 9,000-square-foot Foothills palace, the president's speech to raise money for Republican congressional candidate Tim Bee was one that would surely get Democrats' blood boiling had cameras really been rolling.

Wow, well Mr. President, welcome to the modern world. I wonder what he knows about YouTube anyways?

Gas Tax Holiday Is Dead! Long Live The Gas Tax!

When John McCain and then-candidate Hillary Clinton proposed a holiday on the federal gas tax, most observers laughed their proposal up into the fodder of Presidential politics. A temporary repeal would only serve a small temporary relief while the price of oil could easily eat the benefit by trading up a few more dollars on Wall Street. Now the effort for a temporary repeal has met it's demise in Congress, but that isn't all.

From RawStory:

WASHINGTON -- The political vision of a summer gas tax holiday died a quick death in Congress, losing to a view that federal excise taxes on gasoline and diesel fuel will have to go up if they go anywhere.

Despite calls from the presidential campaign trail for a Memorial Day-to-Labor Day tax freeze, lawmakers quickly concluded - with a prod from the construction industry - that having $9 billion less to spend on highways could create a pre-election specter of thousands of lost jobs.

Now, lawmakers quietly are talking about raising fuel taxes by a dime from the current 18.4 cents a gallon on gasoline and 24.3 cents on diesel fuel.

With gas prices setting records daily, Republican presidential hopeful John McCain and former Democratic candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton called for a 90-day suspension of the federal fuel tax to give drivers a little relief at the pump. The fuel taxes go into the Highway Trust Fund, which is used for road construction and repair and mass transit.

When McCain and Clinton made the proposition, they forgot about where that tax money goes. Since much of our general fund seems to be going to the military-industrial complex, a tax on gasoline goes right back to helping Americans get around, whether it be by road or rail. Ideally the money should come via the main budget and focused on mass transit, but we can not allow our roads to fall apart in the manner that they are currently.

Iraq Continues To Stick With Obama Timeline

Despite the White House's best efforts, the Iraqi government is making it clear they want the United States' occupying force out of their country within two years. Neither Bush or McCain can do anything to stop it, other than lying their asses off to the American people.

Colin Powell Helping Obama Campaign

John McCain may be the Republicans' only hope at holding onto the Presidency, but quite a few in the GOP have no desire to see him in office. They see him as a continuation of the failure that Bush brought upon our country and the destruction of the conservative brand. Plenty of conservatives will stay home this year, but a few prominent ones, people like Colin Powell, are doing a heck of a lot more.

From TPM:

This was reported a few days ago, but it got surprisingly little attention, and it seems worth flagging in light of Obama's trip abroad. Check out this little nugget buried in that New York Times piece on Barack Obama's cast of 300 or so foreign policy advisers:

Another person who has contributed outside advice is former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, whom Mr. Obama has been wooing. Mr. Powell, a Republican, has a friendship of decades with Mr. McCain, but friends say he has felt excluded from Mr. McCain's foreign policy operation and was impressed when Mr. Obama called on him in June. Mr. Powell also met around the same time with Mr. McCain.
Powell recently met with Obama and has made it clear that he won't let any endorsement be dictated by party allegiance, so neglecting him seems like a pretty big oversight on the McCain camp's part. Could Obama's wooing of him eventually pay off?

A little bit of work can go a long, long way. Barack Obama's appeal transcends party lines. Though the most bitter of GOP partisans will never cross that line, many moderates are taking a close look at the Democratic nominee.

Obama Raised More In A Single Day Than McCain Did In A Month

After John McCain released his June fund-raising numbers, I heard the media talk about how he is getting on his game and that Obama better watch out, basically the crap that they spew to make the race seems as if it were close. Well that came to a screeching halt when Obama released his June numbers and people saw he raised $52 million, more than double McCain's $22 million haul. But there's an even more impressive story within that number.

From Politico:

After locking up his party’s presidential nomination, Barack Obama’s fundraising operation came roaring back to life in June, generating more than a million dollars on five days, including a whopping $25 million that came in on the last day of the month.

His one-day haul represents nearly half of his monthly total and more than Republican rival John McCain generated for the entire month. During the month, McCain did not have a single day in which he raised a million dollars.

Now of course McCain counts on the RNC to raise him the big money that skirts the campaign finance rules (the ones that McCain supposedly loves so much). When you combine the candidates with their party committees, McCain still has a little more cash on hand than Obama. That is why we must continue to raise money and volunteer for the campaign to get his message out so that we can start to change America for the better. Eight years of George Bush was eight years too much, we certainly do not want another four.

Going After Henry Kravis

People like Henry Kravis is one wealthy bastard that would rather not be seen or heard. The decisions he makes helps to spread the gap between the rich and the poor. Personally he earns more money in an hour than most Americans make in an entire year. So that is why the SEIU got together this past Thursday to send him a letter and protest outside of his offices at KKR here in Manhattan:

How Shelly Silver Really Feels About Switching The Senate

In a perfect world, one would think that a Democratic leader in the Assembly would want to see a Democratic State Senate. The bills they have passed to help New Yorkers failed in Bruno's Senate, so having the upper hand in both houses would be considered a good thing. Unfortunately, that isn't how Assembly Leader Sheldon Silver sees things. He'd much rather keep things the same so he can have his fiefdom while leaving his constituents (and the rest of the state) out in the cold. Now it isn't his statements that say all that, it is his checkbook.

From The Albany Project:

Looking at the public info of expenditures of Shelly's two committees, Friends of SIlver and
SPEAKERPAC, I have crunched the numbers. Here are my findings, minus the numbers for a handful of committees that are defunct and I could not figure out what office they are for. [...]

So despite spending all these thousands of dollars on the whole gamut of Democratic politicians, committees, and clubs all around the state, Sheldon Silver has not given a single dime to a Democratic Senate Candidate other than Marty Connor in a primary fight. Democratic Senate challengers in recent years, like Albert Baldeo and Nora Marino in 2006 (when Silver ally, Denny Farrell was heading the state party) were left hanging without sufficient funds to defeat otherwise vulnerable Republican Senators. Even ones that did manage to win, like Andrea Stewart-Cousins, had to do so without Shelly's help.[...]

With Shelly, it's all about him and his power. On the night of Darrel Aubertine's vitcory, I wrote about an anonymous Assembly Democrat who had this to say to Azi about Aubertine's victory:

"Losers are democratic assembly members in districts with democratic senators who by this fall will no longer be the only Dems that can pass legislation. Don't cite me as the source for that one."

Like that unnamed Assemblymember, Shelly probably wants to be the Democrats' top dog in the legislature. A Majority Leader Smith would eclipse a lot of his power. Additionally, with a Democratic Senate, Shelly can no longer hide behind Senate Republicans for excuses on why he doesn't pass rules reform, campaign finance reform, redistricting reform, or all other types of reform.

And that is exactly what Silver does, he hides. Other favorite activities include dodging, weaving, obfuscating, lying, cheating constituents and covering for his buddies (that commit rape) in the Assembly.

Politicians are supposed to be good at talking and trying to convince an audience. That is why we have to keep them in check when the words do not match up with the actions. Sheldon Silver's actions have nothing in common with his empty promises of wanting a Democratic State Senate....and that is why he needs to go.

Paul Newell for Assembly

Luke Henry for Assembly

Sunday, July 20, 2008

New Hampshire Accepts Free Venezuelan Heating Oil

When Hugo Chavez first offered free heating oil to New Hampshire for their chilly winters, the state turned him down. Instead of making George Bush look bad, they declined the opportunity to reduce the economic cost for New Hampshire residents during the bitterly cold nights of December through March. Now that heating oil is expected to be nearly double the cost this coming winter, the times, they are a'changin.

From The Huffington Post:

With the state's blessing, New Hampshire residents will be receiving some of the fuel this winter.

New Hampshire becomes the last state in the Northeast to embrace the offer.

"A lot of people have said, `We need help and we value any help we can get,'" said Amy Ignatius, director of New Hampshire's office of energy and planning.

The oil giveaway will be managed by Citizens Energy, a nonprofit organization set up by former Massachusetts Rep. Joseph Kennedy to help the poor stay warm. But the state energy office plans to help Citizens publicize the aid and sign up fuel-oil dealers.

New Hampshire may be one of the more conservative states in the Northeast, but in 2008 and the coming winter of 2009, they aren't stupid. When you have a chance to keep people warm....and alive when the bitter elements of nature arrive, it is far more important to make sure the supply is there and it is affordable than to stand on false pride.

Steve Behar At Netroots Nation

Most of the netroots candidates are running in elections that will occur this year. However, Steve Behar is not most candidates...he is running in 2009 for New York City Council in 2009 out in NE Queens. Here he is at the candidate's mixer on this past Friday night, video care of yours truly:

Netroots Nation Day 3...And Into 4

So here I am, sitting two tables from the podium of the main stage here at Netroots Nation on a beautiful (and not so hot yet) morning. People are filing in for the Van Jones Keynote speech, the last of many great speakers over the course of four days. Like last year, the convention was an incredible experience for me. Perhaps not so much in the way of learning new things about the netroots, but certainly getting more in touch with the people that make up our wonderful progressive web. As I type, Mayor Gavin Newsom is walking by with his entourage (he'll be speaking this morning as well), pictures are filing by on the monitors, showing politicians, activists and friends (certainly not separate entities) from the course of the last few days.

That is really what this place is all about. There is such a wealth of information online and many of us are voracious readers, both online and in print. The online part is self-explanatory, but the incredible amount of progressive authors with books on a diverse array of issues is a testament to the growing power and spread of information that we are putting out there to counter the spin and lies of the right.

Sure, it is far from where we need to be to overcome the many obstacles that Republicans (and some Democrats) throw in our way with the mighty power that corporate money affords them. But as I munch on my scone and drink my coffee at my table for the morning, I see tremendous hope for our progressive and yes, 'liberal' quest. It is time to put an end to the free reign of the conservative message machine and the way words like 'liberal' are co-opted. After the speeches and 'blogger brunch' this morning, we will fan out to our respective cities, towns and rural locales and continue to fight for what we believe in. So much has been accomplished in the last few years...and the potential we have to effect the change we desire is ready to be converted into pure, raw, activist energy.