Saturday, September 13, 2008

Andover Law Ponders Bush Admin. War Crimes

From the moment the Bush Administration began skirting the law and basic tenets of human decency, a few citizens began pondering what to do about the Administration's illegalities. Should they be impeached, tried at the Hague or simply wait to administer justice until after they were out of power? Well since the Congress has done almost nothing about the issue and is only beginning to learn how to exercise their power of oversight, independent groups are taking matters into their own hands. This isn't about a mob mentality to take down the powerful, but for those with decades of legal training to carefully examine the actions of the Administration and determine what should be done. Experts at Massachusetts' Andover School of Law hoped to do just that this morning.

From RawStory:

Saturday morning, the dean of Massachusetts School of Law at Andover will convene a two day planning session with a single focus: To arrest, put to trial and carry out sentence on criminals in the Bush Administration.

The conference, arranged by Lawrence Vevel, cofounder of the Andover school, will focus on which of Bush's officials and members of Congress could be charged with war crimes. The plan also calls for "necessary organizational structures" to be established, with the purpose of pursuing the guilty "to the ends of the Earth."

"For Bush, Richard Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and John Yoo to spend years in jail or go to the gallows for their crimes would be a powerful lesson to future American leaders," Velvel said in a media advisory.

Mentioning Bush, Cheney and "the gallows" in one sentence is a very powerful statement for anyone to make, especially so for a distinguished law professor. In our highly-charged partisan society, half of us will immediately see this as a cheap trick by the liberal elite with nothing to back it up. Those critics would be wrong though, because this goes beyond party and straight to the heart of our democracy.

If our leaders are allowed to subvert the rule of law and commit ghastly crimes without fear of retribution, what is there to stop any future President from doing the same thing? It doesn't matter what someone's party is if they condone torture, start illegal wars or strip the rights of American citizens. Holding Bush and his cohorts accountable is the only way to show that America is serious about holding up its ideals and not simply whither away like the Roman Republic did two thousand years ago.

Palin Caught In Bold-Faced Lie, Continues To Show No Shame

Charlie Gibson confronted Sarah Palin about her repeated lie that she never supported the infamous "Bridge to Nowhere." Yet she shows absolutely no remorse for misleading and lying to the American people about her position, despite the indisputable facts on the matter:

Paterson Sides With Senate GOP Over Home Heating Aid

Even though it wasn't a surprise yesterday, Governor Paterson's home heating aid plan was a pitiful cop out to the Republicans in the Senate. After getting the Assembly's assistance in cutting nearly $600 million from the budget, he offers a pittance to those that are wondering how they will pay for the skyrocketing cost of heating oil this winter. Paterson may be witty in front of audiences when he speaks about service, but when it comes to actual policy he only serves wealthy oil companies and forgets about those that will struggle to keep warm in the cold months of December through March.

From The Times-Union:

Gov. David Paterson, as he said he would earlier in the week, has come out with a plan to boost home heating aid programs by some $49 million this year. The plan includes increasing the maximum grants through the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, which are supposed to offset heating oil costs to poor to $800 — compared to the $540 limit. The governor also wants to set up free clinics where people can learn to better weatherize their homes and in some cases offer do it yourself weatherization kits.

The $49 million is far less than the Democratic Assembly’s $800 million plan which would have slapped a windfall tax on oil companies. And it’s not even close to what Senate Democrats wanted, which would have raised to to $85,000 the threshold for which families can get heating assistance.

Notably, in yet another example of where the Democratic governor is closer to the Senate Republican Majority, Sen. Dean Skelos quickly issued a statement praising Paterson’s move, noting that it’s ’sensible,’ realistic and ‘fully funded.’

Of course Skelos will praise this and so will the rest of the Republican caucus. The price of heating oil will be far higher than the $340 rise in credits Paterson offers. While that may pay for December and part of January, what are New Yorkers supposed to do for the rest of the winter Governor? Oil companies could have afforded to pay that windfall profits tax, even if they and their compatriots in the GOP kick and scream. They'll whine about anything you try that takes away from the rich and gives to the poor, so it is far past the time to start making them cry.

Obama Asks McCain, Who's Country Do You Put First?

Barack Obama took the gloves off yesterday when addressing John McCain. For a while now McCain and Palin have viciously attacked Obama by making things up out of thin air, such as the lipstick on a pig craziness and accusing him of wanting to teach kindergardeners the same sex-ed as a seventeen year old when the bill in question was designed to go after pedophiles. Obama has weathered this barrage of culture war punches with grace and dignity, now he's delivering solid upper cuts to the increasing desperate McCain campaign.

From ABC News:

A pretty scathing charge from Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., this morning as he spoke to the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers and assailed Sen. John McCain's, R-Ariz., position on free trade.

"Just ask the machinists in Pennsylvania who build Harley-Davidsons," Obama said of McCain's record. "Because John McCain didn’t just oppose the requirement that the government buy American-made motorcycles, he called Buy American provisions 'disgraceful.' Just ask the workers across this country who have seen their jobs outsourced. The very companies that shipped their jobs overseas have been rewarded with billions of dollars in tax breaks that John McCain supports and plans to continue.

"So, when American workers hear John McCain talking about putting 'Country First,'" Obama said, "it’s fair to ask –- which country?"

Jake Tapper of ABC spins this as an attack on McCain's patriotism, but that is highly off the mark. Obama is finally getting into full swing with his attacks on McCain's dedication to keeping jobs in America and not sending them overseas so corporations can pad their bottom lines. It isn't a question of patriotism, it is a question of economics and a question from someone that is tapping into the economic populism of this country. That sentiment has been buried several times over by conservative wedge issues and outright lies told to the people in order to hold onto power at all costs.

No one is questioning McCain's patriotism (actually the traditional media hardly bothers to point out when McCain questions Obama's patriotism, often in very subtle ways), we just refuse to highlight it anymore for him. There are seven weeks and three days to go in this election season and it is time to get down to business. Obama is going to fight hard to show the people that he is working for them and that McCain is working hard for the same wealthy few that Bush favored for the last eight years.

Friday, September 12, 2008

New Ad Shows Sarah Palin's Savagery

Savagery is a strong word to use about someone's actions. But after you see this one minute describing Sarah Palin's actions as Governor in relation to the killing of wolves (warning: graphic images inside) then you'll understand where Defenders of Wildlife is coming from.

McCain Bombs On The View, Lies About His Lies

There was no singing about Iran today when John McCain went on The View to face the primarily female crowd. The choice of Sarah Palin didn't help much either and despite having a friend in Elisabeth Hasselbeck as a co-host, he got grilled on an assortment of issues. Mentioning his wish to overturn Roe v Wade elicited a round of boos from the crowd. Whoopi then took his "strict constitutionalist" line to a logical conclusion and wondered out loud what would stop the court from overturning amendments that abolished slavery. Then to top it all off, he blatantly lied that he's never flip-flopped on an issue and challenged anyone to refute that.

Well ThinkProgress was ready to hit that bullshit right out of the park:

The flip-flop document notes that McCain has changed his position even on the four areas he cited — spending, climate change, the war in Iraq, and torture of prisoners:

SPENDING: The McCain campaign has said that it will balance the budget by the end of McCain’s first time. But chief economic adviser Douglas Holtz-Eakin said McCain would balance the budget by the end of his second term.

CLIMATE CHANGE: In 1999, McCain opposed lifting the ban on offshore drilling, saying that it was just the “special interests in Washington” that advocated it. In 2008, McCain announced that “there are areas off our coasts that should be open to exploration and exploitation.”

IRAQ CONDUCT: He said in 2004 that Donald Rumsfeld was doing “a fine job” and was “an honorable man.” But by 2008, McCain was arguing that he was “the only one that said Rumsfeld had to go.”

TORTURE: In 2005, McCain pushed President Bush to sign a bill that would prohibit “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment” of anyone in U.S. government custody. But in 2008, McCain voted against the Intelligence Authorization Bill, which requires the intelligence community to abide by the same standards as articulated in the Army Field Manual and bans waterboarding.

See our full document here. Steve Benen has compiled another flip-flop list here.

See the thing is, McCain thinks he can just absolve himself of everything he's ever said up until the moment he goes on The View, or at one of his town hall events and without a doubt at the upcoming debates. He'll lie about anything and do so with one of those fake smiles on his face. To him it is all about putting out a narrative, regardless of the facts. That is why we on the left (center and right are free to do so as well) must combat his lying from one moment to the next. With that litany of lies, we can craft it into a narrative of our own, one of truth and honest to goodness muckraking that exposes the campaign McCain has run and ultimately the type of President he would become.

NY Assembly Investigates Ethics In The Dark

Even with the indictment and arrest of Assemblyman Anthony Seminerio, the legislative body is up to their old tricks while considering what to do about their tarnished ethical image. The take down of Seminerio is significant because the Assembly realizes that they can be infiltrated by law enforcement for their shady ways. Recently re-elected captain of the ship Sheldon Silver must have been worried about the situation, because he held a secret meeting specifically concerning ethics in the Assembly.

From The Gothamist:

After longtime Assemblyman Anthony Seminerio's arrest on bribery charges, the State Assembly apparently held a secret meeting to discuss, per the AP, "tougher rules over disclosure of outside income by lawmakers."

In the criminal complaint against Seminerio, there were also references to "Assemblyman No 1," Assemblyman No 2" and "Senator No 2"--prompting lawmakers to wonder who's who. Seminerio's $500,000+ in bribes were apparently accrued after he set up a shell company to accept payments; current rules do not require lawmakers to disclose who their clients are.

While Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver wants an overhaul of the rules, it's unclear how far he will go. As the Post reports, Silver "earns an undisclosed income from powerhouse Manhattan law firm Weitz & Luxenberg." And for reference, the Post adds the current rules allow them to "earn unlimited amounts of outside income" while their "official salaries can exceed $120,000 a year and are the third highest in the nation."

Of course no one but the women and men in the room know what went on since it was held in secret, away from New Yorkers that pay their third-highest-salaries in the nation. We also do not know how many other Assemblymembers take bribes because the state house would never investigate itself or else it would probably be nearly empty after a full reivew.

Their leader would also never go far enough to root out the corruption, because he doesn't want anyone to know what exactly he does at the law firm that pays him x (anothe unknown) amount of dollars a year on top of his legislative salary. I'm not holding my breath on any reform from Silver, other than a cheap gimmick to make people think he cares about the Seminerio fallout.

McCain And Obama: Empty Slogans Vs Real Change

While McCain spouts off empty slogans (and trying to co-opt his opponents message), Barack Obama speaks to the voters about real change:

Tony Avella Comes Down On The Right Side Of Term Limits

Mayoral candidate and Councilman Tony Avella is known as a reformer and agent of change in the New York City Council. On the issue of term limits though, he wants things to remain the same unless of course the voters decide to do things differently. While no one wants to explicitly repeal the law, they are more than a few that are thinking of extending it. Avella's bill would put an end to that type of talk.

From The NY Daily News:

Council Speaker Christine Quinn is being put on the spot with warring term limits bills.

A bill by Bronx Councilman Oliver Koppell calls for allowing term-limited incumbents to run next year for a third, four-year term.

A second bill, from Queens Councilman Tony Avella, would bar any change without a voter referendum.

"If they write the bill for Koppell, they better damn well write mine [too]," said Avella.

With a little bit of legislative maneuvering, Koppell's bill can be sidelined while either Avella's can be adhered to or both could be discarded. Of course, the way things pan out has a lot to do with the politics that both currently term-limited Speaker Quinn and Mayor Bloomberg decide to do.

Quinn - who as speaker has the power to keep a bill that is written and presented to the Council from coming to a vote - and Mayor Bloomberg insist that they have yet to discuss changing term limits.

Bloomberg stoked the flames this week by vowing to veto any bill repealing term limits, but said he would "think long and hard" about legislation permitting term-limited incumbents, like himself, to run again.

Also facing limits are 34 Council members, including Quinn, who once opposed changing the law but now refuses to say if she would permit a vote on the matter.

Quinn, Koppell and Bloomberg probably wanted this to float in under the radar but it didn't work out that way for them. Now the question is how much public pressure has to be exerted before they back off from trying to change the will of the voters. If legislation is passed in this matter, Avella's bill is one that reflects the spirit of the original term limits law, not Koppell's attempt to tweak it so he and others can stay in office another four years.

Upper West Side Shines For Obama

Here and there we hear about the GOP's chances in New York on the upswing though in reality there is no question about which way our electoral votes are going to be cast this year, as they were for the last twenty years. Barack Obama is going to win here and win big but that does not mean New Yorkers can just sit back and be complacent about things. In the most solid and active Democratic enclave in the city, things are heating up and people are turning out to make sure Obama is elected President in less than two months time.

From The NY Observer:

“You would think this being the Upper West Side, this being a bastion of progressive and reformer politics, that everyone would be energized and ready to go,” said Tim Foley, a former Obama new media director for New Hampshire and New York who now works for the SEIU and organizes many Obama events on the Upper West Side. “But it’s human nature to put things off. So just the sheer number of people who just possibly wouldn’t have been registered in time if we hadn’t been out on the streets is amazing to me.”

Foley was registering voters at 110th Street and Broadway on Labor Day Monday, along with two local Democratic groups. It was the third day of tabling over the long weekend; four additional events were scheduled for the remainder of the week.

On Monday, Steve Max, a longtime member of Three Parks Independent Democrats who has lived in the neighborhood for most of his 78 years, had stationed himself at 105th Street, in front of a temporary phone banking station being painted by a bevy of young volunteers. Max called the weekend’s crop of voter registration forms, which he estimated at several hundred, “totally, totally remarkable.” The registrations came from a mix of people, he said, though young people and African-Americans were heavily represented.

There are events happening all over the five buroughs but things are heavily concentrated between Riverside and Central Park(s). Not only are people doing the standard Get-Out-The-Vote operation but expanding beyond by getting on buses to canvass in Pennsylvania and writing personalized letters to swing voters as far away as Florida and Ohio.

Of course this doesn't mean that if you don't live in the area that you yourself can't get involved. Simply go to and sign up, then see what events are going on in your neighborhood. If there isn't much nearby, then create an event yourself. Whether it is a bakesale, tabling on your corner with Obama buttons and voter registration forms or getting together in someone's home to talk about the election, getting connected is essential so that we turn out as many voters as possible on November 4th.

Uncle Sam Takes On 9/11

The only thing missing is the Bush/McCain hat on 9/11's head:

Current generally makes fun of politics and our society, but this one has a great message as well.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Sarah Palin Scares The Crap Out Of Me, Charlie Gibson Seems To Feels The Same Way

So tonight Sarah Palin gave her first real, live interview and she was scary as hell. Her tone made her seem like she was trying to be overly tough and macho. She attacked every question with Bush/McCain talking points, except for when she didn't have a clue what Gibson was talking about. What seemed like a softball question about Bush's foreign policy was swung at by Palin like she had too much too much to drink and was sloshingly around in the batter's box.

From DailyKos:

Charlie: Do you agree with the Bush Doctrine?

Palin: In what respect, Charlie?

Charlie: What do you interpret it to be?

Palin: His worldview.

Charlie: No, No, the Bush Doctrine. He enunciated it in September 2002, before the Iraq War.

Palin: I believe that what President Bush has attempted to do is to rid this world of Islamic extremism, terrorists who are hellbent on destroying our nation. There have been blunders along the way, though. There have been mistakes made. And with new leadership--and that's the beauty of American elections and democracy--with new leadership comes the opportunity to do things better.

Charlie: The Bush Doctrine, as I understand it, is that we have the right of anticipatory defense. We have the right to preemptively strike any other country that we believe is going to attack us.

The 'cocky wacko' (not my words, just an observation from another Republican) struck out hard tonight. Sure, her base will love her regardless, she could cut out a still-beating heart from a child and eat it and they'd still vote for her. Those aren't the people I am concerned about. The moderates are the ones that matter and before tonight she only got a 35% favorability rating from them. When you make threats against Russia, you scare people that are already tired of fighting two wars. We can't afford a third, especially with a nuclear power, not economically, not mentally nor spare the human cost. Chafee is right about his assessment of Palin, and the American people are beginning to understand it very clearly.

Marching Against Hate Crimes In Astoria, Queens

This past Sunday several different groups joined together in Astoria to do as their banner says, march against hate. Two months ago trans-gender residents of Carmen's Place were assaulted for their gender and sexual orientation. The community however, will not stand for this violence. The rally was postponed by a day due to Tropical Storm Hanna and the traditional media of NYC didn't publicize it (Thanks to NYC Indymedia for doing their part), but the event was still a resounding success.

From The Queens Chronicle:

At a rally in Athens Park in Astoria last Sunday, neighborhood activists, teens and local elected officials gathered to show support for Carmen’s Place, a shelter for transgender and gay youth.
The March Against Hate was organized in response to a violent July attack on residents of Carmen’s Place by neighborhood teens, with rally participants brandishing signs and a bullhorn to denounce hate and violence. “That’s how this community works. We don’t put up with violence from anywhere,” said Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria) at the rally. The march began with speakers addressing a crowd of activists, onlookers and a Japanese television crew. Speaking at the event, Carmen’s Place founder, Father Louis Braxton Jr. thanked the police who saved his life and the community for its support. “It is not possible to be a free people in a free nation if we are not safe,” he said.

When the speakers were finished, the crowd marched down Steinway to show their support for all those that wish to live their lives out in the open. When the ignorant and hateful minority decide to commit such heinous acts, people like Rev. Braxton is ready to stand up and respond with love and tolerance.

And thanks to my fellow Democracy for New York City member, we have some great pictures from the event:

McCain Proves Yet Again How Out Of Touch He Is

McCain doesn't even have a clue when he answers this question:

Um, John? What country do you think you're living in? People can't afford to see the doctor several times a year like you can. For many, the choice is between buying dinner and seeing the doctor. Of course, when you spend more money on maids and butlers than 96% of Americans make in a year, how would you know?

As Mayor, Palin Made Rape Victims Pay For Their Own Forensic Tests

The act of rape has to be one of the most violating acts one human being can commit against another. It is a disgustingly brutal practice that allows the attacker to feel more powerful by exerting their will over their victim. Rapists need to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, but we as a society must be able to care for their victims as much as we possibly can. However Sarah Palin and her police department in Wasilla did not feel that way eight years ago and the state of Alaska had to override their decision to charge rape victims for forensic exams.

From McClatchy:

Speaking to a teleconference audience of reporters around the nation, former Gov. Tony Knowles and current Ketchikan Mayor Bob Weinstein -- both Democrats -- accused Palin of misleading the public in her new role as the vice presidential running mate of Arizona Sen. John McCain.

While some of their complaints have already been aired, Knowles broke new ground while answering a reporter's question on whether Wasilla forced rape victims to pay for their own forensic tests when Palin was mayor.

True, Knowles said.

Eight years ago, complaints about charging rape victims for medical exams in Wasilla prompted the Alaska Legislature to pass a bill -- signed into law by Knowles -- that banned the practice statewide.

"There was one town in Alaska that was charging victims for this, and that was Wasilla," Knowles said.

I don't even think this classifies as "compassionate conservatism" for the GOP. Charging victims for the tests that help bring their rapists to justice is absolutely disgusting. Grover Norquist wants to reduce government so that it can drown in a bathtub, but this is just beyond the pale. Honestly, as a taxpayer I am glad to pay my share where a small fraction goes to funding these tests that run a few hundred dollars. Any conservative that thinks Palin is still a good choice should be ashamed of themselves, not just for their failed ideology but the true heartlessness that Palin's adherence to that ideology shows the residents of Wasilla, Alaska and the entire country.

If Ballooning Debt Were A Good Thing, Bush Would Be A Great President

Of course rising national deficits and skyrocketing national/personal debt is a terrible thing for all of us, and is one of the many reasons that George Bush is a horrific President. He had claimed recently that his plans of reducing taxes on the rich and giving less to the poor was working. Too bad for him, the facts get in the way of that ridiculous assertion.

From RawStory:

President George W. Bush is leaving taxpayers with more than just a spate of scandals, tax cuts and warrantless wiretapping. He's also leaving the American people with a massive $438 billion deficit next year -- some 8 percent worse than this year, at $407 billion.

The $438 billion deficit next year does not include any accounting for Fannie Mae of Freddie Mac, the mortgage giants the US just took into receivership, and whose loans US taxpayers are now responsible for.[...]

President Bill Clinton left office with a federal budget surplus of $127 billion in 2001. That surplus was $200 billion in 2000.

What a difference eight years makes. I can't even imagine how much worse it would look if McCain got to take over for another four or (gasp!) eight. As the article notes, no matter who is President next year, there is no way that they can get around the massive deficits and piling debt that George Bush has given the United States during his term. The difference between McCain and Obama is that the former will keep piling on and the latter will work to reduce it.

Keith Olbermann Comments On The Republicans' "9/11 TM"

Keith Olbermann talks about September 11th and what the Republican leadership did before it, about it and after that terrible day. As usual, he breaks it down far better than I can:

Bush's Mismanaged FDA Endangers Our Health

dConservatives claim today that George Bush isn't really one of their own because the country has fallen so precipitously in so many regards. However, Bush does govern as a conservative and a radical one at that. Giving the government's responsibility to protect the people over to private industry has happened more rapidly in the last eight years than Reaganomics could hope for in the 1980s. Back then it was about giving back taxes to the wealthy and away from the programs to help the poor.

Now in 2008 the reforms of the 1930s and the progressive movement as a whole are under full-frontal assault. There are plenty of examples of this, the defense industry, airline safety and energy regulation to name a few. Every single sector of de-regulation is a serious national matter, but when it comes to the food we eat most Americans assume that the FDA and the USDA are looking out for our safety, but they'd be wrong. It isn't because the inspectors don't care, the reason is that there just aren't enough of them.

From US News:

From the first reports of a salmonella outbreak this spring, it took a full 89 days before jalapeƱo and serrano peppers correctly came under suspicion as the culprit. During that period, as more than 1,440 victims trickled in to hospitals, federal officials struggled to trace the source of the outbreak, erroneously singling out tomatoes for weeks before homing in on peppers. No sooner had that outbreak tapered off than the high-end Whole Foods Market was forced to launch a massive recall of E. coli-infested ground beef.

The incidents prompted renewed calls for reform and stricter oversight of food safety. Some lawmakers are even suggesting stripping the Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture of their inspection duties and giving them to a new agency. Yet the FDA in particular has long been starved of funding and understaffed. Its workload, meanwhile, is rapidly expanding as the global food chain grows larger, more complicated, and less transparent, all of which adds to the agency's already overcrowded plate.

Congress is under pressure to take up major food-safety legislation this fall that would offer sweeping proposals for regulatory change. The country's appetite for reform, however, is likely to collide with an uncomfortable reality: The responsibility for food safety, as it works today, lies heavily in private hands. Even as bacterial outbreaks have become more high-profile and the financial fallout from recalls more severe, the government has been handing off many food-safety responsibilities to industry. Food safety today is a business—and a booming one at that.

Now strict economic conservatives should deem this a good thing. Less government regulation means that private industry will step in and help keep our food safe. The problem is that like most of conservative ideology, the market doesn't care about our safety, it only cares about one thing, profit.

The counter-argument is that you can only profit if you keep selling food and that food has to be safe in order for people to buy it. Not so fast though, the evidence in the last few years has shown that these agribusiness giants have taken plenty of missteps at our expense and when people get sick (and some that die) the FDA is used as a scapegoat, but the real problem lays at the feet of the conservative policies in the last eight years and back during the eighties that helped to cripple the agency.

The market only cares about how to stay profitable and like the article states, retailers pay for inspections for crops that have had problems beforehand, not potential problems in the future. Here's an example. Say squash had a 0.01 percent chance of becoming diseased and that disease would kill 40 percent of the people that ate it. Meanwhile, spinach has a twenty percent chance of becoming infected but only harming ten percent of those that ate it and wasn't fatal. Retailers will spend the money on the spinach inspection because of the higher chance for an outbreak and not on the squash because ultimately the market deals looks at risk in the same manner as insurance companies set rates for clients. It always comes back to the profit motive, not the human-safety motive.

Now government regulation backed up by a strong budget to enforce it doesn't just go after past problems, it looks for all problems. The government is in place for the people (theoretically) and must respond to their wishes. Collectively we want our food to be safe, not just particular problem spots here and there around the farm. That is why Congress shouldn't go off and create a new agency, they should stick to the one they've got and make it effective again.

Seven Years Later It Is Time To Make A Choice

Seven years ago today my Mom called me early in the morning. I was living in Tucson at the time and she was home in Los Angeles. Calls that came before seven always scared me from her, because the ring usually foretold bad news. This time though, she told me to turn on the television and she was crying. Needless to say, I watched the news all day long, sometimes with friends but mostly by myself. I just couldn't believe what I saw on television. The horrific nature of it all was overwhelming and to a degree hard to fathom far away from Ground Zero at the edge of the Sonoran Desert. Then I watched what our President and his minions did with our national tragedy and global goodwill. Now look at where we are.

This morning I am sitting in City Hall Park, a few stops on the 6 train from where I have been living for nearly three years. It is relatively quiet in here save for the beautiful fountain that graces the center of the park. Every few minutes a fire truck passes by, no doubt on its way to the memorial for those that lost their lives just a few blocks from here.

When I lived two thousand miles away I saw New York through a tourist's eyes and marveled at the city but I was too busy with Tucsonan politics to deal or even have much interest in the minutae of the vast web that NYC politicians and bureaucrats weave over and around the city. I have gotten to know some of it since I moved here and while parts are good, there are a lot of things that need to be fixed. The Deutsche Bank still stands as a stark reminder that corruption and incompetence has played a major role in the clean up of the area. Hundreds of FDNY firefighters lost their lives because of the terrorists, but last year another two died because of substandard conditions and negligence by FDNY's very own inspectors. That just isn't right, yet even after that tragedy last August, problems still remain. Seven years later, we must not only remember, but take action as well.

While New York must take care of the clean up and reconstruction of the area, our Federal government must act to make sure we prevent future attacks and not only seek out the terrorists that helped commit that heinous act, but stop giving them reasons to recruit more from wanting to do us harm.

This year we must make a choice between two men that want to take our country in two different directions. To decide, we must not only look at "experience" but more importantly we must examine their judgment. Shortly after the buildings collapsed, John McCain called for war with Iraq. George Bush gave him that wish and simultaneously kissed our international cooperation goodbye.

When the propaganda was spread by the right that we must invade Iraq (under false pretenses) few spoke out against them. The traditional media happily beat the war drum for the Republican-dominated government. One of those few though, was Barack Obama. He was against the war from before we started it and he is still against it and most importantly wants to end it. There is no difference more clear between him and McCain. One wants to get out as quickly as possible and the other wants to stay there for a hundred years.

So as I sit here in park, enjoying the people, the landscaping and the array of buildings that surround me, I realize that my view has changed in seven years. Not that I was for the war and now I'm against it...I've always been against the war and was part of the ten percent that disapproved of George Bush immediately following the attacks. No, what has changed is my perspective because of my location. As a relatively new New Yorker, I see what needs to be changed here in the city and what needs to get done, but I could tell you from anywhere in the world that we can not have four or eight more years of the same destructive policies that George Bush has used to run our nation into the ground.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

McCain Camp Gets Ridiculous Over Old Fish

Nancy Pfotenhauer works for the McCain campaign and reflects the ridiculousness of the entire operation in this short clip:

Um, Nancy, how the %$#@ do you think people interpret the latest McCain ad that portrays Obama as someone that teaches sex ed to kindergardeners when the legislation is really about protecting our most vulnerable young citizens from pedophiles?

Kucinich Gets Tough On Dubious NYC Eminent Domain Projects

Say what you want about Dennis Kucinich, but one thing you may not deny is that he is a fighter. His latest quest focuses on publicly funded stadiums and the illegalities that surround them. New York is at the center of this investigation, as both the new Yankee Stadium and the Mets' Citi Field are costing taxpayers over $2 billion together. Also, the proposed and extremely controversial Atlantic Yards Arena hasn't even started going up yet costs Brooklyn dearly every single day that Ratner occupys that land. Kucinich wants to look at the details of these projects and see what we can do to put an end to the corruption that inevitably clings to these gargantuan 'public' facilities.

From The Atlantic Yards Report:

Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), who chairs Domestic Policy Subcommittee of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, yesterday announced a hearing to be held September 18. It follows up on two public hearings the subcommittee held last year (3/29/07 and 10/10/07) that looked more broadly at some of the policy issues.

No witness list has been announced, but I assume someone from the New York City Industrial Development Authority, whose Seth Pinsky was on the hot seat July 2, will be among those present.

While no legislation has been proposed yet, the Subcommittee's concern may put pressure on the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to clarify and finalize a proposed rule regarding PILOTs (payments in lieu of taxes) to finance sports facilities. That rule could stymie tax-exempt funding for the Atlantic Yards arena--or the city and state could succeed in getting the arena grandfathered in under the ruling that allowed funding for the two baseball stadiums.

AY goes into more details about PILOT plans and ways of getting rid of them. If Kucinich can make small amendments to the tax code so that the rich robber barons of major league sports will have to pay for their own stadiums, then he gets major props from me. It is long past the time when city funding for sports arenas is put to an end and Kucinich is the man for the job to get it done. Sure, he's not the most likeable guy in the Democratic caucus (especially when it comes to running for President), but he sure is a fighter for the little guy...and that is what counts.

One Day After The Primary, Corrupt Queens Assemblyman To Lose His Job

Yesterday's primary election decided the fates of many politicians, but uncontested Queens Assemblyman Anthony Seminerio (D-Ozone Park) had his fate sealed by the FBI. Seminerio was being tracked by the Bureau for being well, another 'bloodsucker' in Albany and they executed warrants this past weekend. While Paterson might not have had Seminerio specificly in mind, the Feds had their silver bullet ready for him. The slayer happened to be an acquaintenace of his that wore a wire, recording some choice conversation.

From The Times-Union:

``I was doing favors for these sons of b---- there, you know, they were, they were making thousands,'' the FBI quoted Seminerio telling a cooperating witness on tape. ``Screw you, from now on, you know, I'm a consultant.''

Seminerio turned himself into authorities in Manhattan this morning after the execution of search warrants in New York City and the Capital Region over the weekend.

The federal complaint from the FBI showed the probe also involved an undercover agent, hospital administrators who paid Seminerio to represent their interests in Albany and a lot of salty language by the crusty Seminerio, a former New York City correction officer.

U.S. Attorney for the Southern District Michael Garcia said the case focuses on Seminerio's creation of Marc Consultants, which received more than $500,000 in fees from parties with business before the state. Seminerio hid the business, even though state lawmakers must disclose income of more than $1,000, according to the corruption probe.

We may not have been able to take the down the ultimate prize (named Shelly Silver) but rooting out a corrupt politician is always a good thing. Now we just need to keep working to cut the figurative head off down the line so we can create a different culture in Albany, one that serves the people and not the politicians.

Barack Obama Responds To McCain's Fake Outrage

Not only does he hit McCain back, he stays positive and sticks to his message. McCain on the other hand, has no message and his only hope is throwing massive amounts of mud in Obama's direction.

NYCLU Tries To Shine Light On NYPD's Attack On Privacy

When the NYPD isn't beating down bicyclists, they're busy trying to install cameras to record anything and everything in order to turn our city into a police state. Operation Sentinel is one step towards that goal and not everyone is happy about it (surprise!). The NYCLU is taking the lead in the fight against the cops by trying to uncover some details about the program, but police officials are trying especially hard to stay in out of the public's flashlight.

From The Gothamist:

The NYCLU is concerned because, per the group's associate legal director Christopher Dunn, "the police tracking millions of law-abiding New Yorkers...has profound privacy implications." The NYCLU wants information about the scope of information to be collected, how the police will use the information, who the information will be shared with, what privacy protections will be included, and many more things.

Referring to the reports of Operation Sentinel (aka Operation Photograph Every Single Car in NYC), executive director Donna Lieberman said, "The public and our elected officials can’t keep reading about these programs in the paper." The NYPD's response? Spokesman Paul Browne told the NY Times, "We have already provided the N.Y.C.L.U. with information short of a road map for terrorists to use in another attack on the financial district."

While the cops can respond with childish retorts, people's privacy is a serious matter. Recording every car that goes in and out of the city may be no big deal for those that would call Patrick Henry a terrorist-sympathizer. Though for those that still like to adhere to the Constitution and the ideals of our founding fathers when it comes to the issues of life, liberty and property the pursuit of happiness, Operation Sentinel needs to be closely watched. More so than the NYPD plans to watch us.

Judge Found Palin To Be A Surrogate Child Abuser

Sarah Palin claims to have values as a mooseburger-eating hockey mom, but Judge Suddock of Alaska's family court begs to differ. The current investigation of her abuse of power concerning the firing of a state commissioner for not bending to Palin's wishes to have him fire her ex-brother in law has exposed a new twist on the story. While she claims to have done nothing wrong and that there was no reason to suggest she'd conduct a personal campaign against her ex-inlaw with the power of the Governor's office, the facts prove her wrong. The facts even go back to before she was Governor.

From Newsweek:

An Anchorage judge three years ago warned Sarah Palin and members of her family to stop "disparaging" the reputation of Alaska State Trooper Michael Wooten, who at the time was undergoing a bitter separation and divorce from Palin's sister Molly.

Allegations that Palin, her husband Todd, and at least one top gubernatorial aide continued to vilify Wooten—after Palin became Alaska's governor and pressured state police officials to take action against him—are at the center of "Troopergate," a political and ethical controversy which has embroiled Palin's administration and is currently the subject of an official inquiry by a special investigator hired by the state legislature.[...]

Court documents show that Judge Suddock was disturbed by the alleged attacks by Palin and her family members on Wooten's behavior and character. "Disparaging will not be tolerated—it is a form of child abuse," the judge told a settlement hearing in October 2005, according to typed notes of the proceedings. The judge added: "Relatives cannot disparage either. If occurs [sic] the parent needs to set boundaries for their relatives."

So if she committed actions back then that warranted a statement such as that from a family court judge, how hard is it to believe that she would abuse the Governor's office to continue her personal vendetta? This is the woman that people are considering to be the Vice-President of the United States. To think that she has a shot of obtaining that office is absolutely sickening.

Maddow And Sirota Dissect McCain's Latest Perverse Ad

As the two progressives talk about McCain's misleading ad, Sirota points out that while McCain knows the ad isn't true but puts it out to start a cultural war and will go as low as they can to provoke it. Sirota then correctly pushes Obama to push back with an economic populist war that shows voters McCain is out of touch and has to present it with as much force or more than the GOP uses without regard.

Tucson Election Observer Thrown Out Of Counting Room For Doing His Job

While things simmer down here in New York from yesterday's primary, news about last week's primary in Arizona is starting to make large waves. An official election observer and election integrity advocate by the name of John Brakey in Tucson was arrested and "frog-marched" out of the counting room by the emotionally-unbalanced Elections Chair Brad Nelson. His crime? Pointing out that security locks were not secure and asking questions about the integrity of the vote.

From The Brad Blog:

Pima County (Tucson), Arizona Election Integrity advocate and expert John Brakey was arrested last night while performing his job as an election supervisor, on behalf of both the Democratic and Libertarian parties, during a post-election hand-count audit of ballots.

Brakey becomes the latest in a growing string of EI advocates to be arrested and/or barred from observing (Brakey was lucky enough to merit both "honors" apparently) while attempting to assure accuracy, fairness, and transparency in voting and in the reporting of election results on behalf of citizens.

The problem erupted after Brakey had noticed a number of ballot bags being counted in the post-election audit were missing their proper security seals. He began to ask questions about those bags, which eventually led to his arrest at the demand of Pima County's Brad "Election Director Gone Wild" Nelson, a man with whom Brakey has had a number of unfortunate (for Nelson) run-ins over the years.

Thankfully the local media swarmed all over the story and did not let Nelson simply get away with this outburst. While they might not have asked the questions that Brakey or Brad Blog proposes, it does shine light on the matter in a somewhat even-handed way.

Here's one example of a good question:

"All of these bags have been under 24 hour video surveillance, as well as a deputy sherrif have been watching these bags since they've come in on election night. So we have protected the bags," Nelson is quoted as saying.

He then adds: "So if a seal is missing, I feel fairly confident that the ballots inside are just as sound as when they left the polling place."

Really, Brad? Then, if that's the case, what's the point of using the seals at all? This guy is a disgrace to Tucson, Pima, Arizona, and Election Officials in general.

Nelson really is a disgrace, and way worse than F. Ann Rodriguez was at the job when it was handled by the County Recorder. Being a former Tucsonan, I remember John Brakey as an adamant and passionate advocate of clean and fair elections. Back in my former desert life, I was vice-chair of a district level Democratic party and John was always there presenting ways to make sure the process works for us, the electorate. It doesn't surprise me that someone like Nelson would want to throw him out of the counting room because of Brakey's tireless efforts to ensure a fair election.

The Post-Primary Election Calm

It is a cool and calm Wednesday morning outside, a wonderful contrast to the intermittently humid and stormy Tuesday primary election day, a perfect analogy to the day of voting and the day after. The Lower East Side, Downtown, Upper Manhattan, parts of Brooklyn and many other sites across the state yesterday were a buzz with campaign staffers and volunteers, doing all that they could to get their candidate elected.

One guy I talked to down on Grand and Clinton had no less than 20 leaflets handed to him within a few blocks of the train. When I asked him whether it swayed his choice, he mentioned that he couldn't vote but that he was sick and tired of Sheldon Silver. Too bad, because Newell and Henry needed his vote. I was hoping for the two of them to break fifty percent together, but Silver did what it took to win a crushing victory and all it took was 6,743 votes to get 68%. These primary elections hang on so little because so few vote, despite all the publicity on the street and in mailboxes. In this race at least, change lost out to the power of incumbency and the raw power of the guy being Speaker of the Assembly.

In the State Senate however, change won a huge victory in the way of Daniel Squadron. His supporters were everywhere from morning till night and then some even before Tuesday. After more than thirty years in the State Senate, an old do-nothing Democrat was defeated by the young challenger. Squadron did what it took to beat him, having the help of major players such as Chuck Schumer, winning over the Satmars among others and conducting a massive GOTV effort. It'll be a refreshing change to see him represent the 25th district, especially when the Senate changes hands to the Democrats in less than two months time.

Over on the Congressional side of things, two races were up for grabs. Kevin Powell tried to ride in like Obama to the 10th District in Brooklyn. The tenth needs change from Ed Towns, but despite Powell's Obamaesque campaign style, he could not raise the funds nor recover from the problems of his past. In the end Towns beat him handily, nearly by two to one.

In the open seat of the 13th down in Staten Island (and a sliver of Brooklyn) Steve Harrison, a progressive with past support and a close election with Vito two years ago went down in flames. Michael McMahon was the establishment's candidate and their help this year (which was non-existent in 06') put him over the top and on his way to a race against Straniere. November is looking good for the Democrats to pick up the seat, though I think we could have done that with either Harrison or McMahon.

All the results can be found here.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Palin Continues To Lie About Bridge To Nowhere

This just goes to show she has zero respect for the American people and those that vote. To her, being debunked over and over again about the Bridge to Nowhere is no big deal. Palin thinks she can lie over and over again to the voters, but no one appreciates a liar, exactly what Palin is.

Lieberman Lost Joe Goffman Today, Will Senatorial Power Follow Soon After?

The day Joe Lieberman came back to Washington after galvanting in Minneapolis, his top D.C. staffer resigned his position, effective the end of the month. No one knows for sure why Joe Goffman decided to quit his plum job, whether it was for the good of his soul or something else. He did say he has nothing to start in the immediate future, so I'd like to hope that Goffman couldn't take working for a traitor anymore. Now what I'm really waiting to see is Lieberman losing the most important thing to him, his power and seniority in the Senate.

I might just get my wish

Aides to Senate Democratic leaders say Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman will be ousted as chairman of the Homeland Security Committee as payback for his Obama-bashing GOP convention speech — but only if the Democrats add four or five more seats to their slim Senate majority in November.

The Democrats’ anger with Lieberman has reached the boiling point, but it’s not yet clear whether his Senate colleagues are peeved enough to boot the party’s 2000 vice presidential nominee from the Democratic Caucus entirely.[...]

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid “had no intention” of disciplining Lieberman for merely backing John McCain, a Democrat close to the Nevadan said. But Reid became incensed, the Democrat said, by Lieberman’s attack on Barack Obama’s fitness to serve as commander in chief.

While Reid has publicly adopted a wait-and-see attitude on his longtime friend from Connecticut, he has told associates that Lieberman will lose his post “if we hit 55 or 56” seats, a gain of four or five freshmen in November, the person added.

What that tells me is that we must work hard to elect more and better Democrats to the Senate in less than two months from now. People like Andrew Rice in Oklahoma, Mark Udall in Colorado, Tom Allen in Maine, Al Franken in Minnesota and Jeanne Shaheen in New Hampshire among others. This is a great year to not only increase our lead in the Senate but to make it that Harry Reid (or whomever the Senate Leader is in January) will be more than comfortable when they eject Lieberman from the caucus and the remaining tie he has to the Democratic party.

Paterson Tries To Make Nice With The 'Bloodsuckers'

Lawmakers in Albany were extremely upset over the Governor's remarks at an event for the disabled when he referred to the Legislature as bloodsuckers. It was a great line for the crowd and for the most part it was true, but it got plenty of push-back from the State Senate and Assembly that fears another Spitzer hiding within Paterson. Of course our Governor had to do damage control today, but not without a ray of hope for those that are interested in getting the vampire teeth out of the taxpayers and the budget.

From The NY Observer:

After making cover of both city tabloids today after he equated Albany legislators to "bloodsuckers," David Paterson backpedaled at this morning's Crain's New York breakfast and called for campaign finance reform.

This morning, speaking at the Hilton in midtown, Paterson gave more context for the remarks he made yesterday, saying that the culture of Albany allows only "well-heeled" advocacy groups with money and clout to actually win the ear of any lawmaker.

"I don't think my colleagues are bloodsuckers," he said. "What I do think is that, unfortunately, if we adopted the right kind of campaign finance, and we started to take a look at the amount of spending as it impacts the operations of government, that legislators would be empowered to see groups based on the content of their information, and not the resources they're spending in Albany."

Now the Governor's record with campaign finance isn't stellar. He used to espouse the benefits of clean elections, but he was rarely around when the groups that have been fighting hardest for it came to Albany a few months ago. While his statement sounds good on the face of it, the true test is proposing legislation that will get the job done and allow people to run for office (and have a legitimate shot of winning) even if they do not kow tow to the special interests that circle like vultures around the capitol.

Rachel Maddow's Show Shines On Its First Night

Kudos to Rachel on her new show!

Just like her smart commentary in days and months past, along with her extensive radio career, Rachel gets past the spin and tired, old media narratives to present the truth of what is going on in national politics.

Our Increasingly Secret Government

Barack Obama consistently talks about how McCain and Palin will bring more of the same to Washington. When it comes to government secrecy, he is absolutely correct (among many other reasons). It was found yesterday that Governor Palin had over 1100 emails hidden from the people of Alaska while charging the state for her family's travel to and fro the capitol and their home in Wasilla, despite being paid $125,000 a year for her position. Basically, the self-labeled reformer is full of it and clearly has something to hide from her state and as a VP nominee, every single American in the other forty-nine states as well. So if you are a fan of secrecy, then she is an excellent choice to help McCain with more of this:

A new “secrecy report card” by finds that by almost every measure, government secrecy is rising. Some of the report’s indicators:

– “The government spent $195 maintaining the secrets already on the books for every one dollar the government spent declassifying documents, a 5 percent increase in one year.”

– “18 percent of the requested Department of Defense (DOD) acquisition funding is for classified, or ‘black,’ programs. Classified acquisition funding has more than doubled in real terms since FY 1995.

– “Federal surveillance activity under the jurisdiction of the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has risen for the 9th consecutive year — more than double the amount in 2000.”

The report credited Congress with attempting to increase government transparency, while at the same time Bush has tried to block such measures.

McCain has become more secretive with the press now that the Bushie lobbyists are on his team. Palin has the secrecy thing down and now I realize that the Republicans are right, she is clearly being a corrupt Republican. As far as governing goes she is horrendous but to McCain and the Republican leadership, campaigning for power is the only thing that matters, not the quality government that the American people deserve.

It's Fashionable To Vote....Today!

O.K. so the picture is part of a set for fashion week, but if local politics and how your state legislature and parts of the court system are run, today is your day to make a difference. Primaries are historically low-turnout endeavors and a small number of votes goes a long way.

So if you want to kick out the ethically challenged Speaker of the Assembly and you live in Lower Manhattan, it is time to go out and pull the lever for change. Sheldon Silver has had over 30 years and is a key cog in the mess that is our state government. Both Luke Henry and the press-endorsed Paul Newell are excellent candidates and are committed to reforming Albany. Now I know this race is a long shot, but that does not mean people in the district should stay home. Even with a loss, if Sheldon doesn't hit a healthy majority his political future could be in danger. Not only that, the race will show New Yorkers that Albany can be changed and it would not be surprising to see a few if not dozens of primary challengers to either throw the bums out or make them more accountable to their constituents.

Another challenger to the system is Daniel Squadron, running for State Senate District 25 (basically Lower Manhattan and a large swath of Brooklyn). He is taking on ex-minority leader Martin Connor. Connor, while a good debater on the issues and a somewhat decent record, is still part of the problem in Albany, and despite his 30+ years hasn't really done much in the way of legislation. Voting against NYCHA funding also doesn't bode well for his district (according to Squadron lit). On top of that, he allegedly had people passing out flyers that Squadron is a rich, closeted Republican and Connor is the only true Democrat. If you've seen this 8 1/2" by 11" piece of a childish attack , please don't throw it out, recycle it....and recycle Martin Connor.

There are plenty of other races including the 13th Congressional District in Staten Island (Go Steve Harrison!) and you can find more info on them on the web or almost any decent local paper. The important thing is to inform yourself and then get to the polls. And I can attest that I pulled the lever at my polling site at about twenty after six this morning, even though they didn't have any "I Voted" stickers to give me.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Obama Calls Out Palin's Lie In Latest Ad

More hard-hitting material from the Obama campaign!

Keep it coming!

Silver Shows His Arrogance With Primary Day Schedule

Yeah I know I've posted a lot about Sheldon Silver today, but he is well worth the words. Especially if those words can be any small part of ejecting him from his Speakership and the Assembly as a whole. The man has millions at his disposal and is spending plenty in order to keep Luke Henry and Paul Newell's vote totals low. For those that are interested in change here in Lower Manhattan (currently sitting in the LES so I can say "here") then it is time to look at the difference in ideas between the incumbent and the challenger. Then after you check their website before going off to vote, check out the attitude that Shelly Silver holds.

From The NY Daily News:

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver's primary day schedule has been released, and he plans to start the day voting at 285 Delancy Street and end it celebrating with supporters at UFT's HQ at 52 Broadway.

The word "celebrates" is an exact quote from the press release, as in "9:00 p.m. - Celebrates with supporters at 52 Broadway (at Exchange Place) - 2nd Floor."

Evidently, Silver's camp is feeling fairly confident about the race - the first primary he has had to fight in more than two decades. (As Azi notes, the speaker is really pulling out all the stops on this campaign, despite the fact that his challengers have little name recognition and far less cash than he's got).

Asked why the speaker had decided to use space belonging to one of the state's most powerful special interests for his primary evening festivities, Silver campaign spokesman Jonathan Rosen told DN Capitol Bureau Chief Ken Lovett: "It's right in the center of the speaker's district and its disability accessible."

That "disability accessible" is bullshit and they know it. We all know it. Silver has been in bed with special interests for a long time and he has used is his power in the Assembly to give to those that bend to his will and gets contributions from those he bestows projects and favorable legislation on.

I know the odds are long, but I would love to see Silver's celebration with the UFT spoiled like month-old milk.

Mr. Cantor, Silver Is No Kennedy

Dan Cantor is a great guy and does a lot for progressive values here in New York. Though as he points out, no politician is perfect and he screwed up by trying to compare Sheldon Silver with the liberal lion Ted Kennedy. Mr. Cantor, I am sorry but lending Teddy's good name to one of the three men in the room up in Albany is just ridiculous.

From The NY Observer:

Sometimes the candidate who'll fight for working families is a challenger, sometimes it's an incumbent who's been doing it for years. Think about Teddy Kennedy if you want the best example of such a person at the national level.

Time after time, on the crucial fights of the day - Silver has been the most important leader standing up to right-wing corporate power. He beat back Republican attempts to end rent regulation, slash public schools, and reduce access to healthcare coverage. He actually believes that the government has a role to play in making sure everyone has a decent shot in life. That's not trivial.

Just last session, he led the way on legislation to create a paid family leave program, to expand affordable housing, to cut taxes on working families and raise taxes on millionaires, and to create a public campaign finance system that would finally end the dominance of big money in Albany.

Shelly Silver isn't perfect - no politician is. But those bills could become law next year if the State Senate flips, and Shelly's leadership is there to get it done. (more on why the WFP endorsed Silver)

Now Silver isn't all bad, he has done some good things in over three decades. He is a Democrat of course. Yet when you look at the grand scheme of things, Silver is a reinforcement of the status quo in Albany where nothing gets done. Silver may have led the way on the legislation mentioned above, but for the most part bills die in the Assembly overwhelmingly not because of the will of the Assembly but because Silver says so. He has an enormous amount of power based on the arcane and anti-Democratic rules of the legislative body. He has and will do anything to hold onto that power and that is why all candidates are working so hard now before election day, one for the status quo and the others that fight for the change we so desperately need.

Silver certainly can fight, but more so like a hyena than a lion.

Palin Forgets She Supported McCain And Obama

Funny how the recent past can haunt your you so quickly:

Perhaps in her upcoming interview she'll say that Obama is against earmark reform, if she'll lie about herself then why not her opponent.

Group Forms To Fight Council's Effort To Rescind Term Limits

With all the activity surrounding the primary elections coming up tomorrow, the battle over term limits can easily be lost in the fray. That is why concerned citizens and good government groups are coming together to fight back against the Mayor and City Council's effort to rescind what the people put in place in the 90s. The people voted for our elected officials to serve two terms and two terms only and People Have Spoken Coalition is determined to keep it that way.

From The NY Sun:

"We call upon our fellow New Yorkers — anyone and everyone — to join us in this important citywide effort in maintaining the existing law," a former head of the New York Civil Liberties Union, Norman Siegel, who helped organize the event, said. "The City Council should not undo the people's will."

Mr. Siegel was joined by several local leaders, including City Council Member Bill de Blasio and state Senator Eric Adams.

New Yorkers voted to support term limits in two referendums during the 1990s. Now, with about two-thirds of the City Council set to be forced from office next year, along with the popular Mayor Bloomberg, legislators have discussed changing the law anyway.

No such bill has yet been submitted, but those in favor of term limits are trying to beat it to the punch. A billionaire businessman, Ronald Lauder, financed a television ad campaign this weekend comparing politicians to diapers that need to be changed regularly. Mr. Siegel said the coalition announced yesterday will coordinate with Mr. Lauder's group, New Yorkers for Term Limits.

Backed by a few prominent politicians and big money in the way of Ronald Lauder, this is no small operation. It really is a shame that we have to fight back against council members that resist the public's wishes. If they really wanted to do this in a just manner, it would have been put to a vote across the city, not just for the 51 members of the Council. Congrats to Bill de Blasio for bucking the trend and for everyone that stands up to this anti-democratic maneuver.

Hundreds Of Thousands Of Voters Being Purged From The Rolls....Right Now!

Every election cycle every state and county within them purge their rolls for duplicate voter registrations. It is a perfectly normal operation in order to prevent the off-chance that someone tries to commit voter fraud, though very rare in the grand scheme of things. However, when state authorities take it on themselves to go beyond the law and purge as many people as they can, then we run into problems. Apparently, they are going on across the country and naturally, the traditional media isn't reporting it. With our help in pushing them, perhaps they'll start talking like the brave independent reporters such as Greg Palast and those at Alternet.

From DailyKos:

"Kansas, Michigan and Louisiana are purging their voter lists.

Colorado dumped ONE FIFTH of all voter registrations -- the largest in history

Florida is refusing to accept 85,000 new registrants -- overwhelmingly blacks.

New Mexico: purged half of the democrats in Mora county (Hispanics) and 600.000 mailers were returned

Ohio & Nevada are scrubbing tens of 1000s of voters who lost their homes to foreclosures
(Kerry lost by a mere 10-votes per district in Ohio)

We have got to get this information out. To all of the folks distracted by the she-devil, get your head out of Palin's ass and help us alert the media and everyone we know.

Can you digg it? This story must get out, right now it's about 60 diggs short of making the page:

People, if you know what digg is, then go digg this important article. If you don't, click the link and sign up. Digg gets important stories out into the world wide web without the consent of a major news editor's permission. This is an incredibly important story and with wide publication people will realize that they have to secure their place at the ballot box. It is an incredibly sad reality but one we must fight to change.

So what does that all mean? Well after you digg it, make sure you haven't been purged (especially so if you are a minority) and tell everyone you know to do the same. This year is too important for electioneering bureaucrats to be able to corrupt the system. Instead of being cynical about it, we must be proactive. Enough is enough!

Can I Get A Squadron For Senate Sign?

A Team Squadron staffer hard at work, two days before election day:

from Daniel Squadron's Chinatown HQ

By the miracle of campaign staffers and volunteers, all those signs you see will be up across the district by Tuesday, reminding everyone in Lower Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn to vote for the strongly supported Daniel Squadron.

NY Daily News Jumps In On The Anti-Silver Fray

Damn, it's here already! Tomorrow is election day here in New York. Starting at 6 am and going until 9 at night, voters from across the state will have the chance to send a message to Albany. Of course not every single New Yorker has this shot, since not every incumbent is being challenged from within their party. Though where there are challengers, chances are there is a need for reform. Certainly this is necessary in the Senate with many long-time, do nothing Democrats that have been waiting for the Senate to turn blue so that they can engage in the same pork-barreled politics that the Republicans have been doing for decades. This is also a necessary endeavor in the Assembly, particularly in AD-64, where 15,000 people can decide to cut the metaphorical head off the snake and cast Sheldon Silver aside. The Times feels this way and now so does the NY Daily News (the Post too, but for other 'conservative' reasons).

From the NY Daily News:

The time has come for the voters of lower Manhattan to turn Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver out of office.

After 32 years in his seat, including 14 years as the Assembly's maximum leader, Silver embodies the insider's game that has captured the state Legislature, to the detriment of 19 million New Yorkers.

Silver's constituents would serve the cause of open, responsive government - and rock Albany to its foundations - by pulling the lever in Tuesday's Democratic primary for challenger Paul Newell.

Across America in this election year, people are demanding change. Let's have it in Albany, too.

Such a vote could mark the start of a revolution. For dumping Silver would send the unmistakable message that the people of this state want a responsible, deliberative Legislature rather than a boss-run fiefdom.

That is exactly what we want. No more fiefdoms, this is supposed to be a democracy dammit. I don't know if this will start any revolution, but getting rid of Sheldon Silver is good news for any reform-minded movement. The key is to keep it up and throw the bums out as soon as we catch wind of their foul odor and not wait decades like New York has down in Lower Manhattan (among many other districts across the state).

So remember to vote tomorrow, and if you know people that live in Lower Manhattan, make sure they vote too!

The Story McCain Doesn't Want You To Hear

The only coherent thing that McCain mentioned in that attempted speech Thursday night was the fact that he was a POW in Vietnam. Of course we already knew that because the campaign has mentioned it eight million times. The heroic war story is the only thing the Senator has got going for him because his old ideas borrowed from George Bush do not work with the American people anymore.

Another thing that McCain is known for but is never talked about on the Straight Talk Cynicism Express is the Senator's temper. There have been a few stories here and there in the past, such as him cursing Sen. Cornyn to his face and calling his wife a c*nt and a trollop, and as bad as those are, they do not compare to how he treated a group of veterans and their relatives when he was the one that was supposed to help them.

From McClatchy:

Back in Washington, families of POW_MIAs said they have seen McCain's wrath repeatedly. Some families charged that McCain hadn't been aggressive enough about pursuing their lost relatives and has been reluctant to release relevant documents. McCain himself was a prisoner of war for five-and-a-half years during the Vietnam War.

In 1992, McCain sparred with Dolores Alfond, the chairwoman of the National Alliance of Families for the Return of America's Missing Servicemen and Women, at a Senate hearing. McCain's prosecutor-like questioning of Alfond — available on YouTube — left her in tears.

Four years later, at her group's Washington conference, about 25 members went to a Senate office building, hoping to meet with McCain. As they stood in the hall, McCain and an aide walked by.

Six people present have written statements describing what they saw. According to the accounts, McCain waved his hand to shoo away Jeannette Jenkins, whose cousin was last seen in South Vietnam in 1970, causing her to hit a wall.

As McCain continued walking, Jane Duke Gaylor, the mother of another missing serviceman, approached the senator. Gaylor, in a wheelchair equipped with portable oxygen, stretched her arms toward McCain.

"McCain stopped, glared at her, raised his left arm ready to strike her, composed himself and pushed the wheelchair away from him," according to Eleanor Apodaca, the sister of an Air Force captain missing since 1967.

The press has largely avoided stories like this because they see an old, affable man on the campaign trail. It conflicts with the image he provides them, but for those that know McCain, this is hardly surprising material. Even the candidate himself writes about his temper (in Faith of my Fathers) as a young child who would pass out from the rage that lives inside of him. Though cursing at other Senators in a heated moment is far different from this episode when he barely contained himself from striking a helpless woman in a wheelchair. Those six witnesses couldn't touch the Senator for his actions, but the American people can stop him from bringing that violence to the White House. We know far too well that there has been more than enough of that caused by the current President.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Just A Few Of The Community Organizers Sarah Palin Mocked

Thanks to many people out there, this ad is going up on the air for all to see:

Colorado Ethics Watch Restores Integrity To State's Voter System

The traditional media, whether it be locally or nationally focused, rarely does its job of policing our government and rooting out corruption. So it is a great thing that we do have organizations like Colorado Ethics Watch to fill in while they all suck at the corporate teat. While not the first state to have voter problems, Colorado has been having some difficulties with a certain state official named Holly Lowder and her friend John Paulsen. The former is the state's elections director and the latter sells voting systems to the state. Can you guess where this is going?

From The Rocky Mountain News:

Holly Lowder, 66, resigned from her post as elections director two months before what is expected to be one of the biggest elections in recent Colorado history. She held that job since 2006. Before that, Lowder served as Alamosa County clerk for about 25 years.

Colorado Ethics Watch had been pursuing documents from the state regarding Lowder's ties to John Paulsen.

Paulsen, 59, operates a software company called LEDS, LLC from his home in Castle Rock, records show. LEDS has installed voter databases in more than 30 counties and recently got two contracts worth almost $184,000 with the secretary of state's office for data work related to the current election season.

Records show that Lowder recently lived at a Cherokee Street home in Denver that is owned by Paulsen.

Chantell Taylor, director of Ethics Watch, called Lowder's resignation "no coincidence."

At least Rocky Mountain News credited them for the story, whereas many traditional outlets will generally just take stories outright, generally via the AP. The article itself gives Lowder a chance to respond, but you can tell that Lowder isn't fooling anyone, either at Colorado Ethics Watch or the Rocky Mtn News.

When asked why she resigned, she said "I retired. I did not resign."

Paulsen did not return numerous phone calls and e-mails seeking comment.

One of his earliest government contracts was with Alamosa County during Lowder's term as clerk. The county bought Paulsen's voter database and also uses his system for all its electronic property records.

So yeah, you can tell it sounds fishy and when the husband (who is separated from Holly) was interviewed he had no idea that Paulsen was supplying her new digs. So now we have one less corrupt official who deals with our nation's ballots. If only the media would work as well as Colorado's Ethics Watch, we might just get a fair and accountable system.

Yeah, wishful thinking, I know.