Saturday, August 16, 2008

Obama Decimates McCain In July Fundraising Efforts

It seems that July isn't much different from June when it comes to fund-raising numbers from the Obama and McCain campaigns. Barack Obama blew out John McCain in June, and he did the same thing last month. He didn't just beat him by a few million, he didn't just do it with 65,000 brand new donors, he did it because the American people desire change and do not expect or believe it will come from John "McSame" McCain.

From The Political Wire:

Sen. Barack Obama raised more than $51 million in July, the AP reports. His campaign began August with $65.8 million on hand and has had more than 2 million donors.

In contrast, Sen. John McCain raised $27 million in July and had just $21.4 million in cash on hand. He has had approximately 600,000 donors.

Those figures aren't even close. Now Republicans generally try and remind themselves that they at least have the fund-raising prowess of the RNC to counter the candidates' discrepancy. In July, they have no such comfort. As far as raising money goes, there is no contest between Obama and McCain. When Americans tune into the race after labor day en masse, they'll see there is a similar relationship between the two men in terms of policy, issues and character.

12 Yr. Old Girl Who Witnesses Bombs In Georgia Punk Fox News

Fox News has led the charge in the corporate media to spin lies about the conflict between Russia and Georgia. The narrative they peddle is that this whole thing is Russia's fault and that Georgia is a good democracy. However when Shepard Smith had young Amanda Kokoeva on his program, she showed him up with a heavy dose of truth....and all he could do was cut away to commercial.

McCain Lies About His Energy Votes

John McCain claims to not have missed one crucial vote on our nation's energy legislation. Yet like most things that exit his mouth, this one is a flat out lie. When it comes to telling the truth, Mr. Maverick has no idea on how to do that, maybe that is what makes him a maverick. Perhaps he forgets that people can track members' votes in the Senate, but nevertheless, the facts speak for themselves.

From ThinkProgress:

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) currently holds the title of most absent U.S. senator, missing over 60 percent of votes this session. In an interview with Walter Isaacson at the Aspen Institute yesterday, McCain claimed he has not “missed any crucial vote” on energy legislation:

McCAIN: I have a long record of that support of alternate energy. … I’ve always been for all of those and I have not missed any crucial vote. But my citizens in Arizona know that when I’m running for the President of the United States I have to be out campaigning.

McCain’s has actually missed several “crucial” energy votes. In July alone, he missed every single energy vote brought to the floor. This session, McCain has skipped votes supporting renewable energy tax credits four times, all of which were filibustered. In June, for example, McCain missed a vote on the landmark Lieberman-Warner climate change legislation.

McCain has also been the “crucial” absent vote on key legislation. In December, legislation stripping tax break giveaways to Big Oil and investing in cleaner sources failed by one vote, 59-40 (Vote #425); McCain missed that vote to campaign. In February, McCain skipped a vote on extending tax credits to renewables, which also failed by one vote (Vote #8). Both times, McCain was the only senator absent.

It really is amazing how those pesky facts get in the way of McCain's incredibly amazing "Straight-Talk Express." And for the last week his train had unfettered access to the public, since Barack Obama was in Hawaii. Despite that, the polls show the race virtually unchanged from the time Obama went to the Aloha State until he got back.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Steve Behar Speaks Out Against MTA Fare Increase

Steve Behar's city council campaign still has over a year to go, but that isn't stopping him from speaking out for straphangers and against the MTA's proposed fare increases. Steve is running in District 19 and that means his potential constituents need more and better mass transit solutions in Northeast Queens. Taxing commuters with fare increases (that haven't done anything thus far from this year's increase) isn't the answer. However, there is a better way.

From Steve Behar's Op-Ed in The Astoria Times:

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has proposed two additional transit fare hikes on top of the fare hike enacted earlier this year. Gas is over $4 per gallon and we all agree it is in our best interest for our environment, economy and national security to use more public transportation.

It does not make sense to call for the increased use of mass transit and increase the cost and lessen the service of our current mass transit system. But elected officials, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Gov. David Paterson, continue to hide behind the MTA and allow it to hoist fare hikes onto the shoulders of Queens' hard-working middle class.

Any additional fare hike is unacceptable. For far too long, opaque authorities have operated in the state without public oversight. We do not elect MTA officials to their positions and, when the MTA raises fares and the public protests, it provides cover for our elected officials.

Patterson has asked the MTA to look its books. Bloomberg has stated, "That's just bad management." State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli is looking at the MTA's books and will release the results of his investigation by September. As our elected officials criticize the MTA administration, the same high-paid officials remain in their posts. Even MTA board member Andrew Saul urged lawmakers to re-examine legislation that would restructure the MTA and streamline its operations.

For once, it is time to take a long-term view. The city and state need to focus on getting more people to use mass transit. Driving less means a cleaner environment, a more stable economy less dependent on foreign oil and a stronger nation no longer dependent on oil from unfriendly nations.

We need more local bus service to make it easier to commute to and from work. Since most trains travel straight through most of Queens, we need more Long Island Rail Road service. We need more express buses, including the use of "rapid transit buses" to make a Queens-Manhattan commute without a car easier for residents not near an LIRR station. We need more energy conservation, substitution of carbon-based fuels and advances in technology to create biofuels and cheaper and more efficient solar and wind powered energy.

We had our first energy crisis in the 1970s. Why have we not learned our lesson yet? We need lower-cost mass transit, not more expensive mass transit. Without leadership and vision from an MTA that answers to the public, this will never happen.

The first step must be a moratorium on all proposed MTA fare increases. Second, the MTA must be audited and restructured in a way to streamline its operations and make its officials accountable to the people it serves. Third, city and state officials must make a real effort to increase mass transit and make it an easy and inexpensive option for the hard-working people of the five boroughs.

A long-term view is exactly what the MTA needs. The city and the state must realize that our subway system is vital to our economic health and not let it continue to deteriorate. Getting the MTA to tighten it's budget and learn to audit itself is another must. Plenty of cities around the country and the world operate fantastic subways, shouldn't New York be able to say the same thing?

Remember This Soldier!

Anyone who hears a Republican criticize a Democratic member of not supporting the troops should see this and shove it right back into the GOP's hypocritical mouth:

Jeff Weaver Sees Greek Tragedy In John McCain

First of all, in case you do not know, Jeff Weaver is the architect of the "Straight-Talk Express." No, not the term you hear flaunted around on the trail these days by the Arizona Senator. This was created over a decade ago by a GOP strategist who saw promise in a different kind of Republican....or so he thought. Weaver led the 2000 campaign and the 2008 attempt, only to be let go in the middle of last summer when McCain was all but out. Now Jeff Weaver is ready to straight-talk the straight-talk express, or what is left of it.

From The Texas Monthly:

Weaver is starkly pessimistic about the Republicans’ prospects this year. “We’re sailing into a hurricane in a wooden boat,” he told me. “We’re the party in power, so we’ll get blamed for the home loans crisis and government bailouts. There’s the ‘third [Bush] term’ issue, a recession, the wrong-track number—it’s ninety in Michigan, there may be a higher number somewhere, like Chechnya—gas prices, Nixon-like job approval, and an unpopular war. This isn’t like 1988, when we could win by talking about flag lapel pins and Willie Horton. Today, if you talk about these things, it’s talking about small ball. It will just piss people off.”

Sure enough, a few days later, when the McCain camp released a memo accusing his rival of self-aggrandizement, accompanied by a television ad negatively comparing Obama’s “celebrity” to that of Britney Spears’s and Paris Hilton’s, Weaver told Marc Ambinder, of the Atlantic Monthly, that his successors were adopting a style that “diminishes John McCain.” Calling the ad’s premise “childish,” Weaver noted, “John’s been a celebrity ever since he was shot down.”

Weaver is no longer shy about offering his critique of the campaign, or of the Republican party. He is, in many respects, a man with nothing to lose. At 49, he has twice been within reach of the ultimate achievement for a political consultant, to run a successful campaign for president of the United States. Twice he fell short. Nor have his struggles been confined to the political. In 2002 he was diagnosed with leukemia and started sixteen months of chemotherapy. (He has been free of the disease for almost four years.) As he told the New York Observer in 2004, shortly after the news broke that he had helped put McCain in touch with Democratic nominee John Kerry, leading to speculation that the Arizona senator might become Kerry’s running mate, “Get divorced, quit your job, switch parties, and get leukemia in one year—this is not a recipe for success.”

The article in TM goes much further into depth about Weaver's life and his upbringing in the Republican party with the help of another GOP politician and McCain confidante, Phil Gramm. Perhaps Weaver just got sick of the negativity he saw from the party he has worked for in the last twenty-plus years. Or maybe the break started with his separation from one-time partner and fellow Texan Karl Rove in the eighties. Whatever the case may be, it is refreshing to hear some candor from a (former) GOP insider.

Barack Obama Fights Back Against A Fringe Bigot

Barack Obama's campaign may call Jerome Corsi a fringe bigot who is peddling lies, but he is much more than that. Corsi is what the GOP is banking on. They have no issues to win Americans over. The only thing McCain and the Republicans are offering is more of the same, another four years tacked on to the last miserable eight. So they must smear Obama in order to have a chance at winning. Unfortunately for Corsi and his ilk, Barack is going to fight back and he isn't taking names.

From RawStory:

The Obama campaign picked apart the book's claims in a rebuttal titled "Unfit For Publication," to be posted on the Obama campaign's rumor-fighting Web site, The title is a play on the book Corsi co-authored against 2004 Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry's military service called "Unfit For Command."

"Jerome Corsi is a discredited liar who is peddling another piece of garbage to continue the Bush-Cheney politics he helped perpetuate four years ago," said Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor. "His is just one of what will likely be many more lie-filled books rushed to print this election cycle, which are cobbled together from debunked Internet sources to make money and advance a partisan agenda. We will respond to these smears forcefully with all means at our disposal."

Corsi's book is off to a swift start and is No. 1 on The New York Times' hardcover nonfiction best-seller list, even though Obama's campaign would argue the book should be listed as fiction.

The fiction Corsi is peddling is nothing of the sort to lull children off to sleep. The book is a white supremacists dream (in fact he has promoted the book on two white supremacist radio shows so far). He drags up old rumors that have been discredited, he writes about his mom's "second man of color to be her mate." Corsi accuses him of using drugs and slams Islam simply because his middle name is Hussein. Corsi is nothing more than a piece of shit liar who is financed by people that can not debate Obama on the issues. This man has zero credibility and should be treated as such.

I'll leave you with this:

In an interview with The Associated Press, Corsi defended raising the issue of drugs without any evidence.

"I don't need more," he said. "I'm putting this question forward. I'm putting the evidence forward. Voters can make up their own minds."

Corsi writes for World Net Daily, a conservative Web site whose lead headline Thursday was "Astonishing photo claims: Dead Bigfoot stored on ice."

Now for those conservative Republicans out there that are still frothing at the mouth over this, just try and imagine someone with Corsi's background wrote the same type of drivel about McCain.....that is right, you can't, because it doesn't exist.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Happy Birthday Social Security

Who else would be better to wish the program a happy 73rd birthday than Franklin Delano Roosevelt's grandson?

Jackson Browne Sues John McCain

"Running on Empty" is one of Jackson Browne's greatest hits and a rock 'n' roll classic. However, it is at the center of a lawsuit brought against John McCain by the award-winning artist. See, John McCain and the RNC used the song in a commercial to mock Barack Obama, but they forgot to ask for permission to use it. Now the Republicans have to deal with Browne in court.

From The Wall Street Journal:

The suit alleges that Senator McCain and the Republican Party failed to obtain a license for the use of Mr. Browne's song in the television commercial. In the commercial, Senator McCain and the Republicans mock Democratic candidate for President Barack Obama for suggesting that the country conserve gas through proper tire inflation.

In addition to a claim for copyright infringement, the suit alleges that by using a song famously associated with Mr. Browne, Senator McCain and the Republican Party violated the United States Lanham Act by falsely suggesting that Mr. Browne is associated with and endorses Senator McCain's candidacy. The suit also alleges that the use of Mr. Browne's voice in the commercial violates Mr. Browne's right of publicity under California law. The suit seeks a permanent injunction prohibiting the use of Running On Empty and any other Jackson Browne composition, as well as damages.

"We are confident that Jackson Browne will prevail in this lawsuit. Not only have Senator McCain and his agents plainly infringed Mr. Browne's copyright in Running On Empty, but the Federal Courts have long held that the unauthorized use of a famous singer's voice in a commercial constitutes a false endorsement and a violation of the singer's right of publicity," Lawrence Iser of the Santa Monica, California law firm Kinsella Weitzman Iser Kump & Aldisert said. "In light of Jackson Browne's lifelong commitment to Democratic ideals and political candidates, the misappropriation of Jackson Browne's endorsement is entirely reprehensible, and I have no doubt that a jury will agree."

I've never gotten why conservatives and/or Republicans like to use liberal artist's recordings so much for their ads and campaign rallies. Perhaps it is because they want to co-opt the messages within the song (especially Reagan's use of Born in the USA) and flip them upside down. Though I think in this case there is simply no talent on the right and being creative is typically a liberal trait. Of course, when it comes to being sneaky, deceptive and hypocritical....the GOP takes the cake. And this year, McCain is their (dimly) glowing candle on top of that pie.

Congressman Bill Sali, Idaho's Resident Idiot

Somehow, some way, Bill Sali gets to represent Idaho's 1st district in the U.S. House of Representatives. He isn't the sharpest tool in the shed, but his tenure in the Idaho State House and the political makeup of the state got him in the seat two years ago. Sali has made many blunders, provoking ire from all directions. His latest outburst however, is just downright loony.

From ThinkProgress:

Rep. Bill Sali (R-ID), who is participating in the GOP’s ongoing “Drill Now” energy stunt, has a unique idea about how to bring down gas prices: extracting oil from trees. In a meeting in his Capitol Hill office, Sali reportedly told a candidate for Idaho’s House of Representatives, Byron Yankey, that there “‘could be up to 40 barrels of oil‘ in a single tree.” Yankey wrote on his campaign blog:

Congressman Sali informed us that a solution to the high price of gasoline was to make petroleum from “all those trees in our forests.” … He continued by saying there “could be up to 40 barrels of oil” in a single tree.[...]

Sali is apparently confusing cellulosic ethanol with oil, so let’s review the differences for the representative:

Cellulosic ethanol is a renewable fuelderived from the stalks and stems of plants.” Sali voted against cellulosic ethanol tax credits.

Oil is a nonrenewable fuel found in the ground. Sali received $35,000 in campaign contributions from oil and gas companies since January 2007.

Sali is a confused man, but judging his campaign coffers, his motivations are crystal clear. Though maybe he would rather clear-cut the trees and extract possible oil shale. Whatever it takes to please the oil lobbyists, Bill Sali is game.

Huckabee Thinks Romney Flip-Flops Too Much

Huckabee may think that Romney is too much of a flip-flopper, but that sounds like a perfect match for McCain:

NM Repub Accuses Dem Of 'Cutting Troops Throats'

The violent language that the right wing uses in this country knows no bounds. Commentators like Sean Hannity and Michael Savage spew their hate on the airwaves and eventually it is regurgitated by schmucks like Ed Tinsley. Tinsley is running for Congress in the open seat of New Mexico's second district. At a recent debate, this is what he had to say about Democrats and supporting the troops.


Did we find Ed Tinsley's macaca moment? To be honest, I would think that Tinsley was the least likely of the serious Republican candidates to come off and say something this incredibly stupid. Steve Pearce talks off the cuff and doesn't care what others think; Darren White has a legendary temper. And Dan East... well, I have very little idea about him at all -- and he has virtually no chance against Ben Ray Lujan.

But Tinsley, at the Association of Commerce and Industry (ACI) candidate forum this weekend, Tinsley said: "How can I call my two nephews over there right now... and tell them I'm running against a guy that will cut your throat. That will cut the bottom out of your funding. That will..."

Tinsley was cut out by the booing and "shame on you" chants from the crowd. This was no liberal shindig either, the ACI is a moderate to conservative association but no matter what most Americans views are, they do not take kindly to hearing that disgusting language. It has no place in that forum and certainly no place in Congress. The voters of New Mexico's 2nd district will definitely take that into account come November.

Oh and by the way, the party that stymies funding for the troops isn't the Democrats, that would be the hypocritical GOP. Unfortunately as the article reads, the local media did not report the controversial comments but the internets have a funny way of getting stories like this where they need to go.

Military Shows Their Support For Obama Over McCain With $$

Money talks and bullshit walks, isn't that how the saying goes? Well if that is true, it is McCain spewing all the bullshit and the military is taking notice. McCain is full of it when it comes to our nation's veterans, paying them lip service without voting for the programs they truly need and deserve. Barack Obama is ready to deliver for our nation's troops and veterans and the military is putting their faith in him and in the only way that can be truly shown before casting their ballots.

From OpenSecrets:

According to an analysis of campaign contributions by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, Democrat Barack Obama has received nearly six times as much money from troops deployed overseas at the time of their contributions than has Republican John McCain, and the fiercely anti-war Ron Paul, though he suspended his campaign for the Republican nomination months ago, has received more than four times McCain's haul.

Despite McCain's status as a decorated veteran and a historically Republican bent among the military, members of the armed services overall -- whether stationed overseas or at home -- are also favoring Obama with their campaign contributions in 2008, by a $55,000 margin. Although 59 percent of federal contributions by military personnel has gone to Republicans this cycle, of money from the military to the presumed presidential nominees, 57 percent has gone to Obama.

Are you shocked to see this, well, some of the experts are:

"That's shocking. The academic debate is between some who say that junior enlisted ranks lean slightly Republican and some who say it's about equal, but no one would point to six-to-one" in Democrats' favor, said Aaron Belkin, a professor of political science at the University of California who studies the military. "That represents a tremendous shift from 2000, when the military vote almost certainly was decisive in Florida and elsewhere, and leaned heavily towards the Republicans."

The shift may be dramatic from past elections, but injecting a little commons sense into the discussion solves this. The troops are, by and large sick of being in Iraq where they do their very best yet it isn't enough because they shouldn't be there in the first place. Our soldiers want out and they see which nominee wants them to stay for a hundred years and which wants them home in sixteen months.

George Bush's Presidency Summed Up In One Picture

Only 158 days, 13 hours and 15 minutes of this to go (or less depending on when you see this):

(Getty Images)

Evan Bayh Is Obama's Wrong Choice

Evan Bayh's name has come up before in talk about the 2008 Presidential race. He was thought of as an outlier candidate two years ago but he never officially started a campaign. Now that Barack Obama is going to be the nominee, his name is back in the spotlight for consideration of the VP pick. As the date for the text message nears, I am just a little bit nervous that he would be the one Obama picks.

There are many objections to Bayh and more desirable candidates as well. First of all Senator Bayh's replacement would be picked by a Republican Governor and partisanship will immediately reduce our Senate majority by two (one Dem gone, one more Repub). Secondly, Bayh is a DLC centrist and Iraq war apologist. We certainly do not a need a blue dog as Vice President. Finally Obama has his own brand and Bayh doesn't scream "Change!" to me. Obama needs a neutral pick and the Indiana Senator is not it.

So what do we do about it?

At about 2am last night after a gig in Austin, we launched 100,000 Strong Against Evan Bayh for VP on Facebook. We have about 99,000 to go but we are growing at the rate of about 100 names per hour now.

For the record -- I would support Barack Obama if he picked a turnip as his running mate, but since so much of Obama's candidacy is rooted in Obama's willingness to listen to his supporters, this might be a real chance to help make sure that he doesn't.

And if you aren't on Facebook, write an email, write a hand-written letter or even a phone call to the campaign. We got Obama's attention on FISA (yeah I know it didn't work out as well as we had hoped) and we can do it for this. Tell the campaign you want to see Wes Clark, Tom Daschle, even Al Gore (not that he'd accept of course) or anyone that does not have the problems that Bayh does. When I get that text message, I want to see another name on it.

Denver Goes "Gitmo" For DNC

When faced with the decision of going to the DNC Convention in Denver or Netroots Nation in Austin, I picked the latter. Damn am I glad to have done that, because participating in a convention where the local police have created their own little Guantanamo Bay is shocking and disgusting. A local reporter snuck into the facility to show us all what lengths the DPD went to.

From The Colorado Independent:

The convention jail is located in a warehouse northeast of Denver, and when Sallinger arrived unannounced with a camera crew to shoot the facility, the door was wide open, allowing the disturbing images of caged holding pens to be broadcast on TVs across the metro area:
Investigative reporter Rick Sallinger discovered the location and managed to get inside Tuesday for a look. The newly created lockup, in a warehouse northeast of Denver, contains dozens of metal cages made of chain-link fence material, topped by rolls of barbed wire.

Each of these fenced-in areas is about 15 feet by 15 feet, with a lock on the door.

A sign on the wall reads "Warning, electric stun devices used in this facility."
A representative with the Sheriff's Department later showed up to kick Sallinger and his posse out of the warehouse area and wouldn't comment on the building or the cages.

Although the city is now expected to release a statement on the jail next week, such an astounding discovery is no doubt a gargantuan gaffe and embarrassment for the Sheriff's Department.

Forget the flushed cheeks of the Sheriff's Department for a minute and think about how they are planning on treating those that are detained at the convention. This warehouse jail isn't meant for robbers, rapists and murders. It was constructed for those that have dissenting views from the DNC, no matter whether the arrestees are on either side of the political spectrum or off it all-together. People have the right to assemble, it is written in the friggin Constitution and this increasing police-state society is seriously getting in the way of that right.

Nations Don't Invade Other Nations Unless They're Iraq Or Afghanistan

Cenk points out the ridiculousness of John McCain's latest statement on the war between Russia and Georgia:

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Ohio Makes It Easier To Vote, So GOP Threatens Lawsuits

In the political world, it is common knowledge that when you have more voters voting, the population tends to skew more and more to the left. Republicans do not like admitting this very often and heavily rely on fear, manipulation and sometimes a little smoke and mirror treatment to the ballot boxes. Despite all that, Ohio is a crucial battleground state, and they do not take the state lightly. So when the buckeyes decided to allow more people to vote and make it easier by the way of same-day registration and early voting, Republicans went beserk.

From Yahoo News:

Ohio has created a window in the election calendar that would allow residents instant gratification — register one minute, vote the next. It's also given the campaigns of Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain a chance to bank thousands of first-time voters during that Sept. 30 to Oct. 6 window.

The move will benefit Obama, who enjoys a 2-to-1 lead over McCain among 18- to 34-year-olds, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll released last month. If Obama's campaign were able to tap into college campuses with one-stop voting, it would add thousands of votes to his tally in a state where, in 2004, John Kerry lost to President Bush by only about 118,000 votes, putting Bush over the top in the electoral count.[...]

In Ohio, Republicans are clearly not pleased with same-day registration and voting and have not ruled out a lawsuit against Democratic Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner's office.

"You have to wonder, when they look at what they consider a loophole with such excitement," said Jason Mauk, the Ohio Republican Party's executive director. "That would suggest manipulating the process, and I think opens the door to suspicion."

Suspicions? Manipulations? Do you really want to go there Mr. Mauk? Really, this is a tremendous boon to the process that we call democracy. Allowing more people to vote with less restrictions is a good thing, not a manipulation. If the Republicans had a message with broad appeal and a record to back that up, they'd be just as happy as the Democrats...but they don't, so they have to resort to whining about the freedom to vote and frivolous litigation.

Sen. DeMint Obviously Doesn't Know Americans Too Well

Jim DeMint got into the Senate four years ago so excuse him for not knowing South Carolinaians (sp?) or Americans for that matter. Being a Republican stooge in the Senate and Capitol Hill to speak generally, he does not have his finger on the pulse of America and he proved it on Fox News today.

From ThinkProgress:

House Republicans are threatening a “government shutdown if the Democratic-led Congress doesn’t vote to lift a moratorium on new offshore oil drilling.” Just as he did in 1995, Newt Gingrich is leading the push for a government shutdown. Today, Fox News asked Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), “Do you think people would go for that?” DeMint responded:

I think the American people are mad enough that they would say, ‘the heck with government, we need energy.’ And if the Democrats are crazy enough to attach a ban on drilling to the end-of-the-year spending bills, then they’re the ones, I think, that are gonna get the blame for closing the government down.

Only thirteen years ago, Newt Gingrich pulled this hare-brained stunt and failed miserably at it. Bill Clinton was the hero of the day and the newly empowered Republicans in Congress had to retreat from their radical agenda (for the moment). Americans knew that they were up to no good then and they are on to the shrunken Republican caucus this time. The GOP doesn't care about reducing the cost of oil and gasoline, their only motivation is to give more money away to oil companies that donate to their campaigns.

Luke Henry Speaks At Protect LES/Chinatown Rally

Candidate Luke Henry showed up at a rally to address the rezoning plan in Community District 3 that heavily favors developers over those that actually live there now. The mayor has always been on their side but we need someone to protect LES and Chinatown residents. Sheldon Silver hasn't done much of that except for throwing pork projects here and there for the district. Seeing Henry's passion today, perhaps he can make a difference that area needs in order to stand up to wealthy developers and their friend Mayor Bloomberg.

Council Set To Pass Bill That'll Fine Stores That Waste A/C

Five years ago New Yorkers and much of the eastern seaboard dealt with a massive blackout. The main reason that happened was a poorly maintained power grid in the country. However, blackouts still occur and one of the biggest culprits is the massive taxation of power that our collective use puts on the system. Especially in the summer, the air conditioners crank up and use a ridiculous amount of power. In this walking city, tourists and locals alike are lured in on the hot days with air conditioning that pours out onto the street. They figure the extra utility bill cost is worth the extra foot traffic, but seldom consider the effect on the city's system and the environmental cost. Now some of the polluters will have to pay more for their wastefulness.

From The NY Times:

Councilwoman Gale A. Brewer, a Manhattan Democrat who is co-sponsoring the bill, said she gets a lot of mail from residents complaining about these stores. She said electronics stores are the biggest offenders, though there are plenty of other shops on Fifth Avenue, 34th Street and other popular areas that keep their doors open.

“I’m calling it the Clyde Haberman bill,” she said, a reference to the NYC columnist for The New York Times, who has written about the topic on several occasions.

Ms. Brewer and 18 other council members signed on to the bill, which would affect any business with at least 4,000 square feet, or small stores that are part of a chain with five or more stores in the city. The Department of Consumer Affairs would issue a warning to first-time offenders who kept their exterior doors open while an air-conditioning system intended to cool the area was in use.

Stores would be fined $200 for a second offense and $400 for subsequent violations within an 18-month period.

One of the first complaints I hear about this is that the legislation is "nanny-like" and unfair to businesses in the city. The reasoning goes, "if they want to pay for the extra a/c, then it is their dime." The problem with that is life, the power grid and the planet are all connected. While citizen action has gotten some businesses to keep their doors closed and the cool air in, it hasn't been enough, just walk down 34th St. or 5th Ave and see for yourself.

Personally, I feel that this bill does not go far enough. Restaurants are left out of the equation and many of those, especially bars open multiple windows and let the chilled air out to pour onto the sidewalk and the street. Sure, it is alluring for hot and sweaty New Yorkers to sit outside while being cooled, but come on, this planet is all of ours and we have to do our part to keep it functioning.

John McCain Proves His Allegiance To Oil With Snub Of Wind Power

John McCain gives occasional lip service to clean and alternative energy, but when it comes to the specifics oil is his true love. McCain talks a good game about opposing earmarks and special interest money, but when push comes to shove, he delivers for the industry that writes him the big checks.

From TPM:

McCain recently opposed the big $300 billion farm bill, which itself is extremely popular throughout the upper midwest, describing the bill as "a $300 billion, bloated, pork-barrel-laden bill" because of subsidies for industries like ethanol.

But in a little-noticed development, the bill also contained a measure extending a tax break for developing wind power, which McCain specifically opposed. Obama backed it. According to Senator Tom Harkin, an Obama ally, the wind energy industry is employing close to 2,000 people, some concentrated in those key swing states. It's little local issues like these that can move votes in states where the voting is expected to be extremely close.

Making matters more difficult for McCain, Congressional Dems, such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, are edging towards supporting that recent bipartisan compromise energy bill that would open up some areas for drilling but repeal Big Oil's tax breaks.

McCain is counting on ExxonMobil and other oil giants' money. He won't let them down because in the end his friends are those that keep his campaign well-financed and the environment/good clean energy jobs be damned. Here we have yet another clear difference between who McCain is beholden to and who Obama is not.

McCain Whackin' On Obama

Jon Stewart's moment of zen from last night's Daily Show:

I wonder if a writer for Fox News put that in the teleprompter or just Cameron's creative genius at work?

Former POW Calls McCain A Liar

We already know that John McCain is liar and a cheat. Forget for a second his family life (meaning the one he left nearly thirty years ago because his then-wife was maimed in a car accident) and we can see oodles of lies that come from the Republican Presidential candidate on any given day. Whether it be about policy or simply character, McCain will do and say anything for his audience, even if it tatters what integrity he has left. This accuser however, knows McCain a little more personally, from his Vietnam days.

From The OC Register:

Former Orange County Supervisor Edison Miller is lashing out at John McCain, saying the presidential candidate falsely fingered him as a turncoat who was "actively aiding the enemy" while the two were imprisoned during the Vietnam War.

"He lied about me," said the Irvine resident, who retired as a Marine Corps colonel shortly after the war. "The attacks on my character and integrity are totally without merit or justification. I did stand up and say the war was wrong. I would speak against the war, but I never spoke against my country. And I gave up no secrets."

In McCain's book, "Faith of My Fathers," the Republican presidential candidate writes about two "camp rats" who "had lost their faith completely."

One of those "rats" was found to be Miller and Miller is pissed about it. The OC Register articles goes into considerable depth on the story and from what I can tell, McCain has the weaker argument. Military experts find it hard to believe that what McCain wrote in his book could be corroborated. The reason they were brought up was because Miller was a POW that ended up speaking out against the war...and that is the only thing McCain cared about when writing the book. Caring about the truth would definitely not be high on his list.

Minneapolis A Bore Compared To Denver

No, this is not a dig on Minneapolis. As far as cities go I have no idea which is better than the other, especially since I haven't been to either one. Nevertheless, Minneapolis will be a bore when the RNC comes to town right after the Democratic Party has a huge bash that will fill the city to the brim a week or so beforehand.

From Politico:

Of the 12 Republicans running in competitive Senate races — five of whom are incumbents — only three have said they will be attending the convention. Six are definite no-shows, and three are on the fence.

“Nobody likes a funeral,” said a Senate Republican press secretary who spoke on the condition of anonymity, citing “the overall climate of general malaise about the party” as the reason for hesitance on the part of Republicans.

On the House side, according to a report in The Hill, during a July 31 conference call National Republican Campaign Committee Chairman Tom Cole of Oklahoma discouraged congressional hopefuls from attending, saying that doing so would potentially be a “waste of time.”

At least a handful of Republican incumbents, ranging from vulnerable incumbents such as Jon C. Porter and Dean Heller, both of Nevada, to safe veteran members such as Jim Sensenbrenner Jr. of Wisconsin and Sue Myrick of North Carolina, have also decided to stay home this year.

A waste of time? Like attending a funeral? Damn, that doesn't sound good at all. It certainly doesn't sound like the grand old time they had in New York four years ago or in Philly in 2000. Perhaps those cities are a little easier to get to, instead of say, Minneapolis. For the Republican DC elite, the heartland is a scary place, but nowhere near as scary as the entire country will be for them come election day. If I were them, I'd head out and have a nice week of partying....because after that they will only have things to commiserate.

Meet Ed Towns, The Marlboro Man

Kevin Powell's latest ad (on YouTube) attacks incumbent Ed Towns for his close association to the cigarette industry and how it relates to central Brooklyn.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Michelle Bachmann Believes Jesus Saved Us From Global Warming

There are so many lunatics on the radical right and at times it is hard to choose just who is the wackiest of the bunch. Well for right now at least, I award the top wacko award to Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann of Minnesota, yes, that Michelle Bachmann. With so many Republicans that stuck around the Capitol to whine about the Democrats not giving away sweetheart deals to oil companies, it seems she wanted to stick out. Like a good Republican, she attacked Majority Leader Pelosi, but to her credit at least she didn't talk about hanging her. Instead, she stuck with global warming and mixed in a little bit of Jesus.

From TPM:

We like to keep track of the, er, intriguing sayings of Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, the Christian Right champion from Minnesota. But this latest is really out there -- Bachmann says we don't need pesky environmentalists like Nancy Pelosi around, because Jesus already saved the planet!

"[Pelosi] is committed to her global warming fanaticism to the point where she has said that she's just trying to save the planet," Bachmann told the right-wing news site OneNewsNow. "We all know that someone did that over 2,000 years ago, they saved the planet -- we didn't need Nancy Pelosi to do that."

Umm, umm, uhhhhh. What the hell do you say to that? It's kinda like hearing Britney Spears say we should just follow the President without question. That my friends, is a giant brick wall and nothing is getting through that amount of thick headedness. Back in reality, global warming is doing untold damage and Republicans like Bachmann could care less.

A Little More "Police" Added To NYC's Police State

New York City is known as a target for terrorists, but the protection the NYPD is trying to provide is a little ridiculous, over the top and frankly, Orwellian in nature. The NYPD employs more than 35,000 cops to protect approximately 8.3 million citizens and at least in Manhattan, we are treated to "parades" with 5-20 police cars that zip through the city with their lights on, supposedly to drill in the event of the next attack. Although it looks foolish, the parade is ok with me, the program that will photograph every single automobile that goes into the city is a whole other ballgame.

From Fox 5:

Improved terror security in New York City could involve photographing the license plate of every vehicle entering Manhattan and scanning the information.

The NYPD is considering the plan called Operation Sentinel.

The license plate information would reportedly be stored for at least one month in a lower Manhattan facility.

Security cameras already watch wide swaths of the city and this just adds another layer of surveillance to our daily lives. Slowly but surely, we are becoming a real-life version of 1984 or Gattica. It would never happen all at once, but this is how the stripping of civil liberties gets done.

McCain Wishes He Didn't Address Social Security Question

McCain shows off his "straight-talking" in York, PA today:

No Justice At Justice Department

According to Attorney General Michael Mukasey, bad press is far worse than a jail cell. Due to the embarrassment of those that hired U.S. Attorneys for political reasons, Mukasey feels that they have suffered enough and the rule of law and justice need not apply. When you are living under the umbrella of the Bush Administration, officials feel untouchable.

From The Huffington Post:

Mukasey used his sharpest words yet to criticize the senior leaders who took part in or failed to stop illegal hiring practices during the tenure of his predecessor, Alberto Gonzales.

But, he told delegates to the American Bar Association annual meeting, "not every wrong, or even every violation of the law, is a crime. In this instance, the two joint reports found only violations of the civil service laws."

Other intrusions of Bush administration politics into department hirings and firings remain under investigation. Mukasey said he is awaiting reports on the firing of nine U.S. attorneys in 2006 and the hiring practices in the department's civil rights division.

Sharp words may sound cutting, but anything that comes out of Mukasey's mouth is pure, unadulterated bullshit. The best (or worst) was the statement that not every violation of the law (a crime) is a crime. Confused? Yeah, well when it comes to Mukasey and other Bushies, doublespeak is one of the only rules they actually follow.

Port Authority Gives Out $1 Mil In E-Z Passes

It looks like the MTA isn't alone in giving away taxpayer dollars to their favorite people. The Port Authority, funded by New York and New Jersey, have been doling out more than a million dollars worth of E-Z passes. None of this of course, was done with the permission of the taxpayer.

From The NY Daily News:

The Port Authority loses $1 million a year in tolls from almost 7,600 employees and retirees who get free E-ZPass tags, thanks to union contracts and agency tradition.

"The program only represents a fraction of a percent of our toll revenue," Port Authority spokesman Marc La Vorgna told the Daily News. "It is a commitment that was made mostly through collective bargaining."

The E-ZPasses work on the agency's bridges and tunnels. About 4,000 of them go to active employees, the rest to retirees.

Gov. Paterson, through a spokeswoman, did not take a position on the matter. New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine called on the Port Authority to drop the perk, calling it inappropriate.

This blows away the mere $30,000 in freebies the MTA has been found to give away to their board members. Although many of these have gone to union members, it should still have been done with the knowledge of the public...and not simply come out in the news like this.

Rove Defends Lobbyists

Alan Colmes calls Karl Rove out on McCain's lobbyist connections...and Rove performs poorly:

In Iraq, Mercenaries Outnumber Troops

We are well into our sixth year of war in Iraq and the costs of the occupation continue to increase. While the "surged" troop level has roughly stayed the same since last year, costs are rising and now we know what that is attributable to. Trust me, it isn't for any type of large bonus for our soldiers.

From TPM:

Today private military contractors supporting the U.S. occupation in Iraq far outnumber U.S. troops inside the country.

All together, these non-uniformed workers have cost nearly $100 billion, accounting for roughly 20 percent of the total U.S. budget for the five-year war.

That's according to the most comprehensive study to date (.pdf) of private contractors in Iraq, released today by the Congressional Budget Office.

The CBO estimates that more than 190,000 contractors were working on U.S.-funded contracts in the Iraq theater as of early 2008. This is somewhat higher than past estimates and far outnumbers the roughly 150,000 U.S. troops inside the country.

Now many of these contractors are from the region, but the companies that employ them are largely U.S. based. Using employees from local countries or from Africa is much cheaper for these corporations, such as Halliburton, KBR or Blackwater USA. The biggest problem with this set up of course is the accountability factor. Under the Republican Congress, no one looked at what was going on. Now that the Dems are in charge, they come up with the numbers, facts and figures, but as for doing anything about it.....well, the only thing we've seen are stern statements and terse letters, nothing that would include actual justice.

The Arctic Is Melting....And Fast

Visiting our nation's...or any nation's park system is a great thing to do in the summer (or any season depending on where you are). Camping, fishing, hiking the trails...all great activities, unless of course, the trails get completely washed out. That is what happened up in Auyuittuq National Park on Baffin Island in Canada last month, but this was no freak summer storm. The truth of the matter is much more frightening than thunder bolts and lightening.


The problems started last month with two weeks of record temperatures on Baffin Island that reached as high as 81 Fahrenheit, well above the July average of 54 F.

That, Scott said, triggered massive melting that sent "a huge pulse of water through the park," washing away 37 miles of a trail used by hikers and destroying a bridge over a river that is otherwise impassable.

Earlier this week, once the extent of the damage had become clear, 21 visitors had to be evacuated by helicopter.

"We're not as worried about the flash flooding as we are about the instability of the ground and the slumping and the cracks appearing all along that entire" length of trail, said Scott.

Melting permafrost, glacial deterioration and anything resulting from record warmth up in the polar regions is a terrible reality. This year we might see the first summer of an ice-free Arctic Ocean for the first time in recorded history and who knows how far back. While some people may think the problems up there have nothing to do with them down here, the reality is that our planet is a closed-system and what affects one region affects us all.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Cokie Roberts Is An Idiot

Seriously, she gets paid to say crap like this on television?

Iraqis Look To Chinese For Oil Deal

So much for that "liberator" loyalty from the Iraqis to the United States, the oil minister reported that serious discussions for a $1.2 billion dollar deal with China is in the works to develop Ahdab oil field. Western oil companies have been salivating over the oil in Iraq and expected to get all of it, but that hasn't been the case, much to chagrin of those that donated so much to Bush for that desired outcome.

From RawStory:

The announcement came after a meeting between Iraqi Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani and China's ambassador to Baghdad.

No further details were released, but if the deal is signed it will be the first Saddam Hussein-era oil deal to be honored by the new Iraqi regime.

In 1997, Saddam's government signed an agreement with the state-owned China National Petroleum Corp., despite United Nations sanctions that barred direct dealings with Iraq's oil industry.

That is perhaps the most significant aspect of this story, that a Saddam-signed contract is being honored. Now that he has been gone for over five years, foreign companies are starting to clamor for their oil. With demand rising exponentially (as in China) sources of oil, especially those that are easy to extract are sought out with greater intensity. Just like any other rich developed nation, China is going to do whatever it takes to get raw materials and is not afraid to make themselves look bad in order to do it, as we've seen many times already and especially in Darfur.

So What If The Bald Eagle Goes Extinct?

Let's face it, bald eagles, salamanders, owls, herons, minnows, sturgeons and hundreds of other varieties of animals and plants that are on the endangered species list have become a major big business. These American creatures get in the way of mining operations, clear-cutting forests, mountain top removal and developers looking to profit off the land. What's the problem if a couple of species disappeared so that a few rich people can get richer? That's the reason we voted for George Bush, right? Well thanks to our Pretzeldent, we can look forward to a nice gutting of the Endangered Species Act.

From TPM:

If approved, the changes would represent the biggest overhaul of the Endangered Species Act since 1988. They would accomplish through regulations what conservative Republicans have been unable to achieve in Congress: ending some environmental reviews that developers and other federal agencies blame for delays and cost increases on many projects.

The changes would apply to any project a federal agency would fund, build or authorize. Government wildlife experts currently perform tens of thousands of such reviews each year.

"If adopted, these changes would seriously weaken the safety net of habitat protections that we have relied upon to protect and recover endangered fish, wildlife and plants for the past 35 years," said John Kostyack, executive director of the National Wildlife Federation's Wildlife Conservation and Global Warming initiative.

Oh, are you concerned that we are destroying our national wildlife without any regard for the planet we live on? Wiping out innocent animals and the plants they (including us) eat that maintains a healthy ecosystems isn't your thing? Well don't worry, because the Bush Administration says individual federal agencies can determine on their own if things are copacetic without the Endangered Species Act. You believe them right? Of course George Bush would never lie to you.

How The Military Views John McCain

While McCain may be the war hero and Barack Obama is not, merely having worn a uniform does not qualify someone to represent veterans. The real test is how the Presidential candidate has supported troops with their votes in the Senate. Instead of buying rhetoric wholesale, military voters are looking at the big picture, and they do not like what they see in John McCain.

Governor Paterson, Leave Our Water Alone!

An issue not on the radar in New York and especially New York City should start getting a lot of press. With the economic climate as sour as it is, Governor Paterson and other Empire State leaders are looking at alternate revenue streams. Unfortunately, not all of those monetary possibilities are too smart or safe.

From The NY Times:

There is the utterly fortuitous prospect of a lucrative gas boom coming at a time when New York is desperate for new revenue, and upstate is equally desperate for new economic activity.

There is the national energy crunch to push for domestic exploration. There is the eternal conflict between upstate and downstate over water issues and land rights. There are conflicting instincts among landowners: hope of winning the gas lottery versus fear about the consequences for the environment and on the quality of life in their communities.

Industry officials, who have largely kept a low profile, say that they welcome state oversight and that the industry has a track record of being environmentally responsible. But they also warn that a drilling moratorium or undue regulation could discourage production.

“New York has to be careful how it deals with these issues so it doesn’t send a negative signal to the industry that chills the interest in the play in New York State,” said Tom West, an Albany lawyer who represents several gas companies. “These companies have limited investment dollars, and they’re going to invest them where the natural gas opportunities exist and where there’s a regulatory climate that promotes it.”

Natural gas is a finite resource and in the time of soaring gas prices, new areas are being voraciously sought so that the material that makes our petro-economy go can be extracted and sold at market rates. The problem is that where Paterson and the oil/gas industry is looking is where much of New York City gets drinking water from. Sending a "negative signal to the industry" is fine by me as long as our water stays clean. New Yorkers take pride in having the best big-city water in the country and we are not about to lose that....and our health, at the expense of the oil and gas industry.

Thankfully, as the article points out, we have Councilman Gennaro on our side to fight against the industry and (for now) the short-sighted Governor.

Neo-Cons Look At Georgia And Lust For War

As the situation in Georgia worsens, the world looks on in horror as hundreds and now thousands are dying in a war being fought over a tiny sliver of land in the northern area of the new Georgian Republic. CNN and MSNBC report the death toll in between their coverage of the Olympics. The realities and complexities of the event, dealing with oil and natural gas pipelines are too much for the networks and cable news outlets....but on Fox News and other neo-con entities, this tragedy is a great thing for them.

ThinkProgress sums up their bloodlust:

Russia’s increasing aggression is putting a spark into American neoconservatives. Today on the Times op-ed page, one of their leaders, William Kristol, claims the U.S. must “defend” Georgia’s sovereignty as a reward for its participation in Iraq, while the conservative Washington Times is calling for “maximum pressure” on Russia:

Bill Kristol: [Georgia] has had the third-largest military presence — about 2,000 troops — fighting along with U.S. soldiers and marines in Iraq. For this reason alone, we owe Georgia a serious effort to defend its sovereignty. Surely we cannot simply stand by as an autocratic aggressor gobbles up part of — and perhaps destabilizes all of — a friendly democratic nation.

Washington Times: It is in America’s interest to exert maximum pressure on Russia to withdraw its troops and halt the interference in Georgian territory. This latest act shows the need for greater resolve in establishing a European security system that can be an effective check on Russian power

Writing in the Washington Post today, Robert Kagan goes even further, suggesting that the Georgia-Russia conflict may be the start of World War III:

Do you recall the precise details of the Sudeten Crisis that led to Nazi Germany’s invasion of Czechoslovakia? Of course not, because that morally ambiguous dispute is rightly remembered as a minor part of a much bigger drama. […]

The mood is reminiscent of Germany after World War I, when Germans complained about the “shameful Versailles diktat” imposed on a prostrate Germany by the victorious powers and about the corrupt politicians who stabbed the nation in the back.

Like a good neoconservative, Kagan also links the Western response to the conflict and its wider policy towards Russia as “appeasement.”

Hearing them talk sends shivers down my spine. If they had as much power in 2008 as they had in 2001, I'd be running for the hills. Now this is where we tell them to STFU and sit down. This isn't about beating back communism or corruption, beholden to Georgian sovereignty or any of that crap. This is purely about oil, money and power....and whether we control it indirectly or Russia does.

Chris Wallace Makes A Fool Out Of Rick Davis

Every once in a while, Chris Wallace forgets he works at Fox News and acts like a journalist. Yesterday was one of those days, when Rick Davis came on to the show and Wallace smacked him upside the head with a few nuggets of truth and then catching him trying to spin his way out of an unescapable trap.

Pittsburgh Considers Tasers In Schools

Over the last couple of years numerous stories have come out about taser abuse and the "non-lethal" weapon's ability to kill a small but sizable percentage of it's victims. Compared to being punctured by a bullet, tasers are a better alternative yet sometimes, the advocates of the device take it too far, such as into schools with young children around.

From The Tribune-Review:

The president of a school safety consulting firm said districts like Uniontown Area, which is considering arming its police officers with Tasers, have to take a conservative approach to their deployment and develop a comprehensive policy.

But an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union said it's hard for him even to see a need for Tasers in a school setting.

Uniontown school officials intend to draft a Taser policy for their school police officers that might be discussed as soon as the school board's Aug. 18 meeting and could be considered for adoption next month.

The school's director of security says giving the district's three officers the option of using a Taser is more about providing the safest possible conditions for children, staff and visitors than as a weapon "directed at the students."

The director may say that the weapons will not be directed at students, but when the taser is in the hands of a school police officer, bad news (or tragic news) is just around the corner. As the Tribune notes, a 17 year old boy died last month in Winnipeg after officers used a taser on him after seeing him wield a knife. Another 17 year old kid was killed in North Carolina for throwing groceries at the store manager and advancing on the cops. Instead of being used as an alternative only to deadly force, the taser is used in all sorts of circumstances and many officers take advantage of the device.

What makes it worse is that too many poorly-conducted studies show the taser is safe, allowing for the companies that make the weapons secure more contracts while society is saturated with it and forced to accept this sometimes lethal non-lethal device.