Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Army's New "Toy" Should Scare The Hell Out Of You

It is common knowledge that our armed forces have a wide variety of equipment to use when conducting warfare. Small scale items like body armor and machine guns to large scale weapons such as laser-guided smart bombs and robot aircraft patrol battlefields to make an operation more interconnected than ever before. Helping protect our troops when fighting for our country something that cannot and will not be denied. Yet there are some weapons that are best left to science fiction novels, because if the Active Denial System is put into practice then we all have a serious problem on our hands.

From ABC News:

After years of testing, the Active Denial System -- the pain ray which drives off rioters with a microwave-like beam -- could finally have its day. The Army is buying five of the truck-mounted systems for $25 million. But the energy weapon may face new hurdles, before it's shipped off to the battlefield; a new report details how the supposedly non-lethal blaster could be turned into a flesh-frying killer. [...]

Dr. Altmann describes the Active Denial beam in some detail, noting that it will not be completely uniform; anyone unlucky enough to be caught in the center will experience more heating than someone at the edge. And perhaps more significant is his thorough analysis of the heating it produces -- and the cumulative effect if the target does not have the chance to cool down between exposures. In U.S. military tests, a fifteen-second delay between exposures was strictly observed; this may not happen when the ADS is used for real.

This potential hazard need not be a show-stopper -- existing less-lethals, such as plastic bullets and tear gas, can also be fatal under some circumstances (and I'm not even going to get into the argument about Tasers).

Dr. Altmann notes that "the present analysis has not found convincing arguments that the ADS would be immoral or illegal in each foreseeable circumstance," and that acceptance will depend very much on how it is used. If the ADS prevents small boats from approaching a U.S. vessel without harming anyone, then it will be seen as a humane option. If it is used to clear protesters out of the way it may be seen differently.

Yeah, focusing it on the hull of a boat is one thing, but trusting the military to not use it on a civilian population that is exercising their right to protest would be like making a fish live out of water. This is a very serious weapon that Raytheon has created and needs to be kept out of the hands of those that can do maximum damage with it. In the heat of a battle, there is no way to know if it will be used safely so that hundreds of people are not severely burned or literally fried to death.

And most importantly, what is going to stop this from being used on protesters at a large contentious event like a "free trade" conference? Thousands of people show up that are opposed to governments that give more power to corporations than the citizens they are supposed to serve. This "ADS" is nothing but a bad idea. Let Tom Clancy and all the war-loving writers imagine for their readers how it could work, but please, leave it out of real, live situations.

Obama Responds To GOP's Bill Ayers Smears

Not only does Obama smash this ridiculous smear perpetrated by the McCain campaign, he throws it right back in McCain's face by telling people why they are hearing about Ayers in the first place. The truth is, McCain does not want to talk about the real concerns of Americans because his ideas have failed long ago. People want change, not the hateful trash that McCain thinks will get him elected.

In Bush's America, Even Nuns Can Be Terrorists

These are scary times we are living in. George Bush and Dick Cheney now have one hundred days left in office but the damage done to our civil liberties is readily apparent. Authorities regular infiltrate the anti-war movement in order to do something supposedly that protects us, or so they say. It is complete bullshit of course, we know it, they know it, but nothing is really done to combat their abuse of power. In fact, it has gotten so bad that even women of the cloth can be branded as terrorists.

From The Washington Times:

BALTIMORE | For decades, Sister Carol Gilbert and Sister Ardeth Platte have practiced their Roman Catholic faith with an unwavering focus on world peace. Their antiwar activities even landed them in federal prison earlier this decade for trespassing onto a military base and pouring blood onto a nuclear missile silo.

Now they face fresh infamy as two nuns secretly branded by Maryland State Police as terrorists and placed on a national watch list.

"This term terrorist is a really serious accusation," Sister Ardeth, a nun for 54 years, told The Washington Times on Thursday in the first interview that the women have given since being informed they were among 53 people added to a terrorist watch list in conjunction with an extensive Maryland surveillance effort of antiwar activists.

"There is no way that we ever want to be identified as terrorists. We are nonviolent. We are faith-based," she said.

The women freely acknowledge their participation in antiwar activities.

Not only are they dedicated to the tenets of their faith that preach world peace, they go above and beyond as patriots of our country. They are among the many that are active citizens that put the government in check, for it is merely an instrument of the people, contrary to what those in power think it is there for. For their actions at a missile base to protest war, they were sent to prison for a few years. Now for merely speaking out against the outrageous and horrific wars that our government starts, they are branded as terrorists.

George Bush likes to think that history will be his saving grace and prove he was a great President despite all evidence to the contrary. However, it is much more likely that these women who are labeled as terrorists now will be vindicated and be called heroes long before anyone would even try to say that Bush was anything other than the worst President we've ever had.

IAVA Gives John McCain A "D" For His Vets Record

Before he went on the full-frontal assault against Barack Obama, John McCain loved to talk about his time as a POW and his record on veterans issues. While McCain may have suffered tremendously for his country in Vietnam, what he says and what he does for our troops and those that have served are two different things entirely. Veterans rights advocates know the truth about John McCain and they aren't afraid to speak up on the issue.

From Crooks and Liars:

Paul Rieckhoff of IAVA sits down with Rachel Maddow to discuss his group's 2008 report card on how members of Congress voted on Veterans issues. John McCain: D. Barack Obama: B.

RIECKHOFF: There were 53 original co-sponsors on both sides of the aisle [for the new GI Bill]. Eventually, right-wing folks like Senator Warner got involved with folks on the left like Senator Webb. Every major veteran services organization in the country supported it, more ¾ of the House. So, this was kind of a legislative locomotive. And one of the only blocks along the way consistently was Senator McCain.

So, it's not a partisan issue here. The G.I. bill had tremendous support. And he was just really behind this legislative issue. Now, he's made attempts to go back and say he was holding out for transferability. Transferability, being able to transfer your G.I. bill benefits to your family members. It was already in the law. It was at the discretion of the Department of Defense.

So, it's kind of a red herring there. But the reports are out there now. Everybody can check the vote. Go to, you can check their votes and everybody else who's up for reelection this year.

Right on Paul, if you have any doubts about who's record is better than another, just look up the votes yourself. I can tell you that Barack Obama scores better on veterans issues until I'm blue in the face. Yet until you see it up close and personal, only then does one truly see the myth of the "maverick" and the truth of an aging soldier that does not do what it take to keep our veterans fully taken care of.

Friday, October 10, 2008

More Intelligent Thoughts From Palin Supporters

Yep, there are some real class acts in this line:

AIG Cancels One Bailout Party, Wachovia Plans Another

Last week AIG enraged Americans when it was found out they took a half a million dollar retreat for top executives immediately following their $85 billion dollar loan. When Congress found out about it and thoroughly thrashed them for such behavior, the corporate crooks promptly canceled their next trip at the Ritz in Half Moon Bay, CA. The criminals at Wachovia however, clearly did not get the message about how bad AIG's callousness can irk some people (like the ones screwed by the executives' greed).

From The LA Times:

As ailing Wachovia Corp. waits to see whether it will be acquired by Wells Fargo & Co. or Citigroup Inc. -- possibly with taxpayers paying the tab for hundreds of billions of dollars in bad loans -- some of the company's top brokers are preparing to depart Saturday for an all-expenses-paid cruise of the Greek Isles.

The weeklong trip for up to 75 employees of brokerage A.G. Edwards, which Wachovia acquired last year for nearly $7 billion, will also include spouses and significant others, said Teresa Dougherty, a Wachovia spokeswoman.

"This is one way that we recognize our top financial advisors," she said.
Yeah, I'm trying not to laugh at that last quote either. Those would be the same top financial advisors that helped lead Wachovia into the state it's in now. So not only are they screwing over Citi by backing out of a deal, they are pulling a double-whammy on the American taxpayers. First a baseball bat to the gut and now a nice spat on the face to rub it in. Sure must be nice to be in the upper echelons of these companies.

Gennaro Outraising Padavan Hand Over Fist

Before the actual vote on election day, fundraising prowess is an important quality to have in order to get your message out. That lesson has been taken to heart by challenger and City Councilman Jim Gennaro. He is currently running against State Senator Frank Padavan, a long time Republican representing the 11th District located in Northeast Queens. Usually the incumbent is the one with more money to spend, but not in this race.

From The NY Times:

Mr. Gennaro this week reported that he has raised more than $100,000 since July, taking his current balance to about $412,000. That compares with $164,000, which Mr. Padavan’s campaign reported having on hand.

But Mr. Padavan, who was first elected to the state Senate in 1972, is considered something of an institution in the district, which includes several northeastern Queens neighborhoods, among them Flushing, Bellerose and Whitestone.
The money race is clearly no contest, but the quest for votes is a different matter. Padavan has been in there a long time and while an "institution" for the area, the same could have been said for Marty Connor down in SD-25. In 2008, people are looking for a change not only on the Presidential level but here at home as well. It is well known that the system is broken up in Albany and Padavan is a part of that malfunction.

Mr. Padavan, who prides himself on getting things done in Albany, is considered quite popular in the 11th Senate District, even though Democrats far outnumber Republicans – by a margin of 3 to 1.

But Mr. Gennaro is known as a tireless campaigner. He is willing to knock on thousands of doors to acquaint himself with voters, even while it is difficult to defeat an incumbent.

The term "getting things done" would be more appropriately replaced by "bringing home the pork." While doing good things for your district is an important part of a Senator's job, restoring dignity to the State Senate is far more valuable. Albany is in desperate need for repair and the progressively-minded Jim Gennaro would be an excellent replacement for Padavan.

Oh and as a way of putting my money feet where my mouth is, I'll be volunteering for Jim tomorrow out in the district.

Tell Christine Quinn How You Feel About Overriding The Public's Will

With so much negative backlash, Speaker Christine Quinn has delayed her decision to support extending term limits so that Bloomberg can stay another four years. Term limits were enacted by the people of this city and (to quote Sarah Palin) doggone it that is how they should be changed, if that is the public's intent. The Mayor wants her to lead the Council to selfishly give itself a one-term extension but we can force her hand. Call her now and tell her you want the people to be able to decide, not the 51 Council members that stand to benefit from this assault on democracy.

CT Becomes Third State To Legalize Gay Marriage

In a stunning defeat to the religious right and a victory for those that believe in equal rights for all Americans, the Connecticut State Supreme Court ruled to give full rights to gay couples who wish to get married. Obviously the Court used some good common sense and did not allow religious fundamentalists to deny rights to people with a different sexual orientation than themselves.

From The Washington Blade:

"Interpreting our state constitutional provisions in accordance with firmly established equal protection principles leads inevitably to the conclusion that gay persons are entitled to marry the otherwise qualified same sex partner of their choice," the ruling says. "To decide otherwise would require us to apply one set of constitutional principles to gay persons and another to all others.

"The guarantee of equal protection under the law, and our obligation to uphold that command, forbids us from doing so. In accordance with these state constitutional requirements, same sex couples cannot be denied the freedom to marry."

Eight same-sex couples sued, claiming their constitutional rights to equal protection and due process were violated when they were denied marriage licenses.

Connecticut becomes the third state in the nation (following Massachusetts and California) to recognize gay marriages and the right that all people are equal under the law. The State Supreme Court made the right decision today. Of course, this does not mean that the fight for equal rights are over just yet.

Currently in California, a movement spearheaded by the Mormon Church is trying to pass a Constitutional Amendment to ban gay marriages. They have gobs of money and will stop at nothing to sway public opinion and get that proposition to pass. Do not think for one second that they will not try something similar in Connecticut. Help equal rights advocates in California and send a message to these backward bastards that in America, everyone deserves to be equal.

Under Pressure, Silver Learns A Direct Route From NYC To Albany

During the primary race for AD-64, we learned of Sheldon Silver's arrogance when it comes to his competition. Shortly after we found out he likes to bilk New York's taxpayers by making us pay for extra for his regular trips upstate. For Shelly, the most direct way to Albany from the city is a connecting flight in D.C. Now that may not make sense to you off the bat, but if you were to earn frequent flyer miles for it, then you can get a grasp on why the Speaker would choose such a route. Obviously when this news came out, people were a little more than slightly pissed. Surprisingly though, Silver actually listened to people's outrage.

From The Times-Union:

ALBANY — Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, criticized for roundabout flights at taxpayer expense from his Manhattan home through Washington to work in Albany, has started taking more of the cheaper direct flights upstate following an internal review.

But Silver won't totally give up the connecting flights through Washington he sometimes uses instead of more economical and quicker alternatives like an Amtrak train or state car.

The circuitous routes, generating frequent flyer miles for Silver, are allowed under a legislative travel policy good government groups say needs reform.

The New York Sun, citing state comptroller's records, reported each of Silver's flights cost taxpayers $500 to $760, or four times the cost of taking a train. Assembly spokesman Dan Weiller said the Assembly's review of Silver's travel records found the average cost was $456, including direct flights to Albany, and the highest fare was $769. Of 110 flights studied, 57 went through Washington, Weiller said, adding Silver is now taking more of the direct flights as airlines schedule more of them.

Ah so Silver is only going to be a scumbag about getting to Albany some of the time. Now I feel much better (says that while punching fists into the wall)! Seriously, this guy is a major jackass. I can't even imagine how inflated his ego is to continue....even flying directly to Albany. Get the $&^k on the train like the rest of us or splurge and take a car.

Here, I'll even help you out Mr. Speaker with directions:

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Tucker Bounds Shows His Guilt By Association Skills

Andrea Mitchell had McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds on the show yesterday to talk about the ridiculous attempt to connect Bill Ayers to Barack Obama. Andrea Mitchell called him out for the absurd notion that Obama is friends with a terrorist but Bounds went through his talking points without even wincing at all the lies he spewed.

They really should be careful with that game though, since guilt by association can be a real problem for both terrorist-lovers John McCain and Sarah Palin.

Breaking News!!! Palin Exonerated By McCain!

That's right folks, doggone it the one and only Sarah Palin is not guilty of all charges, ya betcha! Before that official report comes out from the ultra-liberal, terrorist-lovin Alaska legislature (controlled by Republicans, but that isn't important here), the McCain campaign is here to tell you first that Sarah Palin had no personal vendetta. In fact, the real reason Monegan was fired because he was a bad, bad man who didn't listen to orders (no damnit, not the orders Sarah gave to repeatedly get rid of her ex-brother in law) and that there was a secret operation by her former gubernatorial opponent to attack the poor VP nominee.

From TPM:

Sen. John McCain's running mate is the subject of a legislative investigation into whether she abused her power as governor by firing her public safety commissioner. The commissioner, Walter Monegan, says he was dismissed in July for resisting pressure from Palin's husband, Todd Palin, and numerous top aides to fire state trooper Mike Wooten, Palin's former brother-in-law.[...]

The campaign's report instead blames former campaign opponent, Andrew Halcro, who has a blog, of conspiring with Wooten to pin Monegan's dismissal on the family's dispute with Wooten. Three days after Monegan was fired, they say, Wooten told his ex-wife, Palin's sister, that: "You guys are going down. Get ready for the show."

Two days after that confrontation, they say, Halcro and Wooten met at a hotel bar in Anchorage for more than three hours — and that evening, Halcro posted the first accusations on his blog that Monegan had been fired because of a vendetta against Wooten by the Palin family.

"It is tragic that a false story hatched by a blogger after drinks with Trooper Wooten led the legislature to allocate over $100,000 of public money to be spent in what has become a politically driven investigation," the 21-page report concludes.

Oh and all that stuff you heard in the media about the Palin family pressuring Monegan is purely partisan politics. And of course this hastly operated investigation by the McCain campaign has no bias in it whatsover because John McCain and Sarah Palin are a pair of bullshit artists Mavericks! Nevermind all those facts about the case and that the Governor made nearly fifty phone calls to Monegan and his secretary regarding the evil, evil Michael Wooten. She never said fire him (at least above her breath) directly so clearly she never said to fire him. Monegan was just so insubordinate that there was no way he could pick up on the giant hint she was laying on him to can that Trooper's hide. Oh yeah and all the other people involved that are talking to the press now, they've hated Sarah for years so there is absolutely no way for them to be telling the truth her. Even though every other sentence out of her mouth is a lie on the campaign trail, she's completely one hundred percent honest here, yes sir eee.

And finally, let me give you the weather forecast, a 40% chance of pigs flying and the gates of hell should release some fire and brimstone over __________ (insert Palin event location here) by the early afternoon.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Bush Shows His "Compassionate Conservatism" To Africa

In one of many contradictions to George Bush's pledge to be a "compassionate conservatism," this week the White House is silently taking away contraception and family planning aid to African countries. Bush can claim to be pro-life all he wants, but in reality this callousness will ultimately destroy many lives.

From Planned Parenthood:

Washington, DC — Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) is appalled by the Bush administration’s latest move to put women’s lives in danger by withholding contraceptives, a critical family planning resource, from women in six African countries. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is mandating that several African governments terminate a program that allows Marie Stopes International (MSI), one of the world's leading family planning organizations, to provide contraceptives in those countries.

“We know that family planning saves women's lives and protects their health,” said PPFA President Cecile Richards. “These women already face legal restrictions and harsh gender inequalities. Further limiting their access to health care puts them at risk of harm resulting from unintended pregnancy, unsafe abortion and childbirth, and sexually transmitted infections, such as HIV/AIDS.”

This administration already has severely limited family planning funding to developing countries through its global gag rule, which mandates that no U.S. family planning assistance funding can be given to organizations that provide abortion services, offer counseling and referral for abortion care, or advocate legal abortion access in their own countries — even if they do so with their own funds. Domestically, the administration is moving forward with a regulation that would allow health care providers to withhold critical health information and services from women.

The new USAID mandate will seriously disrupt family planning programs in at least six African countries — Ghana, Malawi, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe. Women in these countries will be left with few options and could end up turning to unsafe abortion services, which can result in their death or disability.

There are an estimated 137 million women in the developing world who are not using a contraceptive method. According to the World Bank, maternal mortality would drop by 25–35 percent if those women had access to adequate family planning services.

The cost of these programs are a fraction of what we waste every month in Iraq. The relatively small amount of charity it takes to help millions of Africans is easy for our country to spend, despite the enormous amount of debt we are in. America is/was known as a world leader because of our generous outreach across the globe but because of George Bush, we continue to lose our standing as a leading democracy and a country that cares about others who's wealth is nothing compared to the United States.

Billionaires Endorse Bloomberg For A Third Term

Besides the Mayor and the City Council, this is the type of people that will benefit most from another four years of Michael Bloomberg at the helm of our city:

NYPD Continues To Ilegally Arrest Children

For the most part the NYPD does their job just fine but far too often it is found they are up to no good. The NYCLU is protesting their practice of wrongly arresting children, some as young as eleven for minor offenses. The law states kids under 16 cannot be arrested for non-criminal violations, but obviously the NYPD doesn't care about the laws that govern their own behavior.

From The NYCLU:

New York State law prohibits children younger than 16 from being arrested for minor, non-criminal violations like loitering. If a child commits a minor infraction at school, he may be disciplined, but the Family Court Act prohibits police from arresting the child. But according to NYPD data obtained in a Freedom of Information Law request, between 2005 and 2007, approximately 300 New York City public school students were illegally arrested in or on school grounds for non-criminal violations. And when the children were arrested, they were handcuffed, forcibly removed from school and taken to police precincts.

In a letter sent to Kelly late yesterday, the NYCLU and ACLU informed the NYPD of the situation and urged the department to immediately end the illegal practice.

“These children aren’t criminals. The NYPD must follow the law and stop treating them like they are,” said NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman. “Arresting children for minor infractions in their own schools – in front of their teachers and peers – only stigmatizes and humiliates them.”

Section 305.2 of the Family Court Act states that warrantless arrest of children younger than 16 is illegal unless they have committed crimes. Under New York law, a “crime” includes a felony or misdemeanor but not the minor infractions for which students are being arrested.

The police may want to treat everyone as a criminal regardless of their age but clearly they do not care about the macro-level consequences of their actions. That law is in place for a very good reason and it is best that they stop messing with it. For too many communities, society dictates a playground to prison mentality that teaches kids that the law is not on their side. If the children are doing something wrong and the violation is a minor one, then treat them as kids and return them to their parents or care giver. Also, instead of spending all this money on school law enforcement, we should spend those dollars on teaching the kids, not arresting them.

Planetarium Defends Itself Against McCain's "Earmark" Attacks

Somewhere in the middle of that "townhall" debate between Obama and McCain, the Republican nominee went on an earmark tirade against Obama. Before this week he liked to complain about three million for a study on bears (that he voted for). Of course bears can't defend themselves from politicians like McCain unless they are standing face to face. Now he went on the offensive for a "$3 million dollar projector" at a planetarium and tried to show Obama was the bad guy for voting for it. Too bad for McCain, there are people that work at the Adler Planetarium and they can write one hell of a press release.

From The Adler Planetarium (PDF):

Last night, during the presidential debate in Nashville, Tennessee, Senator John McCain made the following statement:
McCain: "While we were working to eliminate these pork barrel earmarks he (Senator Obama) voted for nearly $1 billion in pork barrel earmark projects. Including $3 million for an overhead projector at a planetarium in Chicago, Illinois. My friends, do we need to spend that kind of money?"
To clarify, the Adler Planetarium requested federal support – which was not funded – to replace the projector in its historic Sky Theater, the first planetarium theater in the Western Hemisphere. The Adler’s Zeiss Mark VI projector – not an overhead projector – is the instrument that re-creates the night sky in a dome theater, the quintessential
planetarium experience. The Adler’s projector is nearly 40 years old and is no longer supported with parts or service by the manufacturer. It is only the second planetarium projector in the Adler’s 78 years of operation. Science literacy is an urgent issue in the United States. To remain competitive and ensure national security, it is vital that we educate and inspire the next generation of explorers to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math.

Senator McCain’s statements about the Adler Planetarium’s request for federal support do not accurately reflect the museum's legislative history or relationship with Senator Obama. The Adler has approached the Illinois Congressional delegation the last few years for federal assistance with various initiatives. These have included museum exhibitions, equipment and
educational programs we offer to area schools, including the Chicago Public Schools. We have made requests to Senators Durbin and Obama, as well as to 6 area Congressmen from both political parties. We are grateful that all of the Members we have approached,including Senator Obama, have deemed our activities worthy of their support, and have made appropriations requests on our behalf, as they have for many worthy Illinois nonprofit organizations.

As a result of the hard work of our bipartisan congressional delegation, the Adler has been fortunate to receive a few federal appropriations the past couple of years. However, the Adler has never received an earmark as a result of Senator Obama's efforts. This is clearly evidenced by recent transparency laws implemented by the Congress, which have resulted in the names of all requesting Members being listed next to every earmark in
the reports that accompany appropriations bills.
October 8, 2008

Of course facts always seem to get in the way of a McCain attack on Obama. The truth of the matter, like the pathetic attempt to link Ayers to Obama is just part of the McCain game to throw any kind of mud on Obama and hope it sticks.

A Glimpse Of Sarah Palin's Mob

The McCain campaign is keeping reporters far away from Palin's rallies. We've heard about the fear, ignornance and blind hate of her most rabid supporters, but no description does this video from Strongsville, Ohio:

SD-3: The Debate On Long Island

Millions watched Barack Obama and John McCain go at it Tuesday night in Tennessee and millions more will tune in for the final debate at Hofstra out on Long Island. In between the two main events, Long Island hosted a debate for the lesser known race yet still important contest for State Senate District three. On one side is the thirty-seven year incumbent and octogenarian Caesar Trunzo with the GOP shorts. On the other side of the ring, Brookhaven Town Supervisor Brian Foley wore the Democratic seal in his quest to change Albany.

From Newsday:

"God forbid he should win the Senate seat and the Democrats take over," said Trunzo, the most senior of GOP senators. "He'll run into a situation where he'll be a junior member [and] ... rather than getting any of the funding that's necessary he'll be at the bottom of the list. I know the system - it's been there a long time and seniority has a lot to do with what you get."

Foley, 50, countered that Trunzo is part of a "system that everyone knows is broken" and promised to "repair that system," nationally known for its "dysfunctional" ways.

"Contrary to the doom and gloom Caesar is describing, I will be able to deliver for Long Island as [freshman] Democratic Senator Craig Johnson will be able to deliver for Nassau County," Foley said. "We'll be the new Long Island voices in Albany, and we are going to make a difference."
It may not have been a performance worthy of Hofstra (the article notes the syntax-challenged Trunzo and the stiff-sounding Foley) but in a way resembles the Presidential contest. Like Trunzo, McCain has been a part of a broken system for decades. Brian Foley represents a new way of doing things and changing Albany for the better. If Foley and just one other Senate Democratic challenger can earn the confidence of the electorate, then Albany and New York as a whole can begin to see that change in their daily lives.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

One Assemblyman Wants To Go Over Council's Term-Limited Head

Almost as soon as the rush to extend term limits began, opponents of the decree by legislative fiat asked the New York Assembly to come in and make the Mayor and Council behave. Some of those in the City Council have come out against the oligarchic move but many are either undecided or truly believe that they can change the law that the people voted in favor of. Well one day after the resolution was introduced in the Council, an Assemblyman by the name of Hakeem Jeffries (D-Brooklyn) is determined to put an end to the Mayor's political power play.

From Crain's New York:

Hakeem Jeffries, a Brooklyn assemblyman, announced Wednesday that he will introduce a bill requiring any municipality's changes to a term limits restriction be approved by public referendum. The referendum would have to be held no later than the first Tuesday in May preceding the next general election.

Mr. Jeffries said his bill is a response to the move by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the City Council to pass legislation allowing city elected officials to serve a third consecutive four-year term.

“We’re concerned that the fix is in and the deal has already been cut to change term limits without a public referendum,” the assemblyman said before a press conference on the steps of City Hall.
Jeffries knows exactly what is going on here. It isn't hard for anyone to see what the Mayor is up to here. In this case, it is a great thing that the State trumps the City when it comes to the power of the government. Cities are under the care and protection of the state, even New York and when certain people within the city act out of line in accordance with democratic priniciples, something must be done. Of course, there is just one slight problem that needs to be taken care of first.

Mr. Jeffries acknowledges that his bill, to be introduced in January, will not become law if the state Senate remains in Republican control, because Mr. Bloomberg is closely allied with Senate Republicans. The assemblyman is banking on Democrats picking up two of the Senate’s 62 seats in the November election.
That's right, we need to take back the State Senate to ensure voters make the decision on city term limits, not the fifty-two politicians that make up "Mayor and Council." This is just one more reason for us to work hard and turn the Senate blue. I'll probably be canvassing for Jim Gennaro out in Queens this weekend. What will you be doing?

Joe Comes Back On Stage

Joe came back on stage this morning after taking a few days off to the mourn the passing of his mother-in-law. Without missing a beat, he rightly tore into actions of John McCain and Sarah Palin.

George Bush Creates Job For National Debt Clock

There has been so much horrific financial news lately. Hundreds of thousands of Americans have lost their jobs this year, pension plans have lost approximately $2,000,000,000,000.00 of their net worth, the Dow is in the toilet, the banking system is a mess, you get the picture. A lot of people are blaming George Bush for this and I for one, want to cut the guy some slack.

I mean, come on, how could he have known that pushing for more deregulation would have allowed so much greed to destroy the system? Paying for wars that cost over $12 billion a month wasn't part of his plan when he declared Mission Accomplished nearly 5 1/2 years ago either. Oh yeah and trade agreements that screw American jobs....well, he probably knew that would happen. So with this massive bailout plan that he helped push through Congress, George has actually done something for the group who operates the national debt clock. Due to his fiscal stewardship, they have to order a new clock that can handle all the new digits in the number.

From Think Progress:

The National Debt Clock in New York’s Times Square — first erected in 1989 when the debt was less than $3 trillion — cannot keep pace with the growing national debt, now at more than $10 trillion. NBC’s Brian Williams reported last night that “the debt has been piling up so fast lately they had to drop the dollar sign to make room for an extra digit.” A new clock with two extra digits will go up next year.
So there you have it, a little more productivity right here at home, just a few miles away from where the financial district is falling apart. Thanks Mr. President!

Calling Sarah Palin Out For Racism

Obama himself might not be able to call John McCain and Sarah Palin out on the "substance" of their attacks, but his surrogates certainly can. In the last few days the Republican candidates have gotten nasty, especially Sarah Palin. She was out and about across the country, slamming Obama for "not being one of us" and wondering "who the real Barack Obama is." She did all of this dressed like a typical politician in a business suit, but she might as well have donned the white robes and hood of a Ku Klux Klan member. Finally, she is getting taken to task for her ugly and racist remarks.

From The NY Observer:

As the McCain campaign ratchets up the intensity of its attacks on Barack Obama, some black elected officials are calling the tactics desperate, unseemly and racist.

“They are trying to throw out these codes,” said Representative Gregory Meeks, a Democrat from New York.

“He’s ‘not one of us?’” Mr. Meeks said, referring to a comment Sarah Palin made at a campaign rally on Oct. 6 in Florida. “That’s racial. That’s fear. They know they can’t win on the issues, so the last resort they have is race and fear.”

“Racism is alive and well in this country, and McCain and Palin are trying to appeal to that and it’s unfortunate,” said Representative Ed Towns, also from New York.

You betcha it is. No matter how many fake, folksy and flowery words you use, the ugliness of racism comes through when Sarah Palin steps up to the podium. The sentiments of ignorance, hate and bigotry are evident from the crowd's reactions. While the thousands in the audience may love her speeches, the nation as a whole is horrified by her and have stated as much when you look at her plummeting poll numbers. There may be a certain percentage of people that tap into that type of hate, but thankfully it is a small minority. If anything, it is a good thing that these people's actions are spotlighted so that the racist attitudes in McCain and Palin's campaign can ultimate bury the GOP for decades to come.

Azi Catches Quinn In A Lie Over Term Limit Position

John McCain's maverick image is in tatters and it can be partly attributed to people seeing his statements on camera contradict the prior statement. With that knowledge, you would think that all politicians could learn something from McCain's experience. However, Christine Quinn missed that lesson when she tripped up on her own comments concerning her position on term limits and when she'd make that position clear.

Fuld Gets Knocked Out In The Lehman Bros. Gym

Congress is having a hell of a time trying to hold Wall Street accountable for their gross negligence of our economy. Instead of punishing these people, Congress wrote them a $700 billion dollar blank check in addition to the Fed approving several multi-billion dollar loans. Basically, the oversight process of the market is completely shot. So what is America to do about these financial barons who are walking away with millions while the rest of us suffer? Well, when the system fails, it isn't surprising to see a little 'street' justice metted out from time to time.

From Business and Media:

While former Lehman CEO Richard Fuld was testifying before the House Oversight Committee Oct. 6, CNBC reported he had been punched in the face at the Lehman Brothers gym after it was announced the firm was going bankrupt. CNBC and Vanity Fair contributor Vicki Ward said Fuld was attacked at the gym on a Sunday following the bankruptcy.

“Frankly, I sat there and listened and I’m with the guy who apparently, the day before Barclays announced they were coming in and Lehman had already filed for bankruptcy, went over to him in the gym and punched him because that’s how I feel when I, you know, when I watched that,” Ward said on the Oct. 6 “Power Lunch.” “I didn’t think he was contrite at all, I thought he was arrogant.”

Ward confirmed previous reports about the incident that reportedly occurred Sept. 21 and said the information came from “two very senior sources.”

“From two very senior sources – one incredibly senior source – that he went to the gym after … Lehman was announced as going under. He was on a treadmill with a heart monitor on. Someone was in the corner, pumping iron and he walked over and he knocked him out cold. And frankly after having watched this, I’d have done the same too.”

Ward determined Fuld deserved the beating based on his testimony before the committee.
The testimony is just icing on the cake here. What Fuld did as CEO of Lehman Brothers is criminal. A punch to the face is nothing compared to what he deserves. Fuld and others like him who profited the way they did from the housing market should be sent to hard labor camps at the very least. Instead they are allowed to have their golden parachutes and live off of the millions that they stole (yes, stole) from their companies and the economy in general. If Wuld gets off with just one knockout-style fist to the face, I'd consider him lucky.

McCain's Morning After

John McCain is heading up to Ohio and Pennsylvania today in hopes of making them look like battleground states while they are swinging rapidly into solid Obama territory (Obama by the way is campaigning in Indiana, what was once solid Bush country). He has to be kicking himself for not sweeping his preferred "townhall" audience off their feet. Of course those were actual undecided voters, unlike his rabidly partisan events, so the threshold for success is just a tad higher. No one in that venue last night screamed out that Obama was a terrorist or a traitor. There was no blind hatred for McCain to stand on, so he had to turn to his weakness, or what we like to call the issues.

He completely lost the wingers watching from home when he went Democratic-lite. The failed idea of conservatism and their loyal backers do not want to see a caring government, even if McCain tries to tidy it up for his tepid base supporters. After last night they might just try to write-in Sarah Palin for President. I'm the creation-believing secessionist would love that.

For the most part, last night's debate was pretty boring. If you missed it, the Times pretty much sums things up here. If I had to put it in one sentence, John McCain mentioned his friends a lot while Barack Obama kept linking McCain to Bush on almost every issue that was mentioned. Since John has voted with the President more than ninety percent of the time, that isn't too hard to do. Though mentioning it over and over again is exactly what those swing voters (God love em, because I just don't understand them) need to hear.

The problem for the voters watching last night was that they couldn't get much from the candidates because the debate format was terrible. There was no follow-up allowed, the "participating" audience members in the room were practically robots that read their questions and weren't allowed to call either McCain nor Obama if they thought their question went unanswered. Then you had Tom Brokaw, who would repeatedly chastise Obama for going over the time limit, even though both men passed time limits. At one point Brokaw put the rule down for a moment, in what was probably the most exciting part of the night. It got so bad that even one of my friends at our watching party got up in the middle of the debate and left the room out of disgust.

So for the morning after and until the final debate, the thing was a wash. Sure, undecideds gave the debate to Obama by a ten to twenty point margin depending on which snap poll you look at. Sure, the dial poll during the debate showed the audience loved Obama's answers while McCain's fell flat. That is all and good, but what is most important on the day after is that nothing changed last night. And that my friends, is great news.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

"That One" Is An Insult Senator!

Tonight John McCain threw a personal jab at Barack Obama by referring to him as an object instead of a human being.

This was what I was waiting for from McCain and his new level of attacks. We all knew it would get ugly, but talk like this is just the beginning. Seriously Mr. McCain, the other man on the stage is a nominee to be the next President of our country, have some respect and address him with a pronoun.

Obama v. McCain, Round Two

With half an hour left as I start typing, I am seeing pretty much what I expected to see at this debate. Both candidates have been attacking each other but really only Obama is offering real solutions to our country's problems. The undecideds on the bottom of CNN's screen clearly show that they want to hear ideas, not attacks. Both candidates flat-line when they go after each other, but then Obama's numbers go up as he talks about what he'll do when he becomes President.

John McCain has shown all he is willing to offer is more of the same we've seen over the last eight years. McCain may not say it directly, but whenever he utters "my friends," get ready for a whopper. Not only did he have trouble with his breath and obviously his tie (I wonder why he'd wear a distraction like that twice in a row, hmm) but his platitudes and failed ideas are wearing thin on the audience and the country. As always, ThinkProgress is knocking each lie down one by one.

The only knock on Obama is that he's been attacking John McCain. The Maverick Lying Express has been trying to bait him to come down in the mud tonight and especially since yesterday when he went nuclear on the negative attacks. As long as Obama continues to offer concrete ideas, this debate is his. At the end of this, Obama supporters will stick with him and McCain's people won't move either. Honestly, this doesn't change the dynamic of the election.

As my Mom sums it up so well, "Unless Obama poops in his pants. He's won this debate."

Hear, hear Mom!

Quinn Was For Term Limits, Then Against Them And Now No One Knows

Speaker Christine Quinn is a hard woman to peg when it comes to getting a decision on term limits. While we have previously have her on record last year opposing a change in the law, it turns out that she was in favor of repealing it three years ago. Now in 2008 with the Mayor banging down the door trying to get another term, she's awfully tight lipped even after the competing resolutions on the matter have been introduced.

From The Observer:

Quinn told the room full of reporters she wouldn't be taking a position yet, and instead, spoke about bills being introduced in the Council today that deal with housing and land-use issues. (Penn South is getting J51 tax breaks!). When there were no questions on the housing bills, Quinn went back to term limits.

“I’m not reluctant to take a position, and I will take a position” Quinn said, adding that she has an “obligation to make sure I consult and get input from my colleagues." Quinn was frank that the obligation to seek input "doesn’t eliminate my ability to come to my own position.”

But she's taking her time, she said, because of the magnitude of the issue.

Quinn also said that even if she opposed the bill, her office no longer has the unilateral authority to stop it from being introduced and ultimately pushed onto the floor for a vote.

The article notes that there will be hearings next week allowing the public to voice their concerns. That could be a good thing because the Council is slowing the pace with all of the outcry from around the city against the bill. Of course, it could also be a platitude that gives people the impression that the Council cares about people's concerns but at the end of the day the Mayor gets what he wants. Either way, we'll have to wait and see.

Quinn's last statement (written in the Observer at least) on her authority over the bill is worrisome to me. It sounds like she is preemptively distancing herself from the outcome of the vote so that if it passes, she can try and wash her hands of the corruptive stench. If it fails, she can continue to run (unofficially for the time being) for Mayor and show the people that she wouldn't bow down to King Bloomberg.

Well played Speaker, well played.

Sarah Palin Hearts Secessionists

Palin may like to compare Obama with Ayers, but like Olbermann said, do not throw stones from glass houses. Palin and her husband have been intricately intwined with the pro-secessionist party, a set of Alaskans that wish to break the bonds of their state with the United States.

Pure. Crazy. Shit.

Even Republicans Know The Truth About Ayers

No matter how blue Illinois and Chicago are, plenty of Republicans and Independents live there. Out of those groups, a few know Bill Ayers and are aware of his past. Though get this, they know that terrorism innuendos (or outright charges of being a pal of terrorists) John McCain and Sarah Palin are peddling is complete crap. The McPalin campaign is grasping at straws to get back in the game and now even this previously debunked story can be beaten over the head with a 2x4 again.

From NPR:

The Obama campaign says he first met Ayers in 1995, when Obama became chair of the board of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, a $50 million fund that awarded grants to groups trying to implement new programs to improve inner city education in Chicago.

Walter Annenberg, a lifelong Republican and former ambassador who was appointed by Presidents Nixon and Reagan, funded an ambitious program to reform urban education in many cities in the mid 1990s. Ayers was an important member of the group that developed and wrote the grant proposal to the Annenberg Foundation.[...]

"I don't remember ever hearing anyone raise concerns or questions or concerns about [Ayers'] background," says Anne Hallett, who has worked closely with Ayers on the Annenberg Challenge grant and with Obama on education and other community and legislative matters. "And that included everybody I was engaged with," including prominent Republicans, and corporate and civic leaders in Chicago, Hallett adds.[...]

Hallett calls this attack on Obama's association with Ayers and the Annenberg Challenge by further association, "a smear campaign. It's a political diatribe that has no basis in fact. The Chicago Annenberg Challenge was an extremely positive initiative. It was well-vetted, thorough, and the fact that it is now is being used for political purposes is, in my opinion, outrageous."[...]

"It was never a concern by any of us in the Chicago school reform movement that he had led a fugitive life years earlier," said former Illinois state Republican Rep. Diana Nelson, who worked with both Obama and Ayers over the years. "It's ridiculous. There is no reason at all to smear Barack Obama with this association. It's nonsensical, and it just makes me crazy. It's so silly."

It is beyond silly, the attacks are ridiculous and as we've seen with Palin and McCain, it has brought out the worst in people. Neither Republican can either talk or win on the issues, so character assassainations is the name of their game. I expect as much tonight when McCain goes head to head with Obama at their second debate. McCain is running from the topics that matter to people but that doesn't mean he should expect them to buy the fear card he's selling.

Senator Stevens Knew He Was Guilty

Not all the news on corruption out of Alaska is about Sarah Palin. She may be the one running for VP, but Senator Stevens is campaigning for his re-election to the Senate and his little criminal trial is starting to get in the way. Instead of being able to hold rallies and fundraisers in Alaska, he is stuck in Washington so that a jury can decide whether he is guilty or innocent. Too bad for Stevens, he already knew he was guilty, though when he said it he was unaware that he was being recorded.

From Yahoo News:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens told an oil-executive friend, in recordings played on Monday at the Alaska Republican's corruption trial, they both risked going to jail -- but he didn't think it would come to that.

"These guys can't hurt really us. They're not going to shoot us. It's not Iraq. What the hell?," Stevens told Bill Allen, founder of the former VECO Corp. oil-services firm based in Alaska.

Stevens is charged with lying on Senate disclosure forms from 2001 to 2006 to conceal more than $250,000 in renovations to his property and other gifts provided by VECO.

"The worst that can happen to us is we run up a bunch of legal fees, and might lose and we might have to pay a fine, might have to serve a little time in jail. I hope to Christ it never gets to that, and I don't think it will," Stevens said.

However, he said, "We've got a fight out there ahead of us, and we're going to win, because we didn't do anything wrong. You've got a right to spend all the money you've got to support the party you believe in."

If Stevens thought he wasn't doing anything wrong, then he wouldn't have lied and concealed all the gifts he received. Sorry Senator, I'm afraid logic has its way of blocking your path to innocence. The recording clearly shows that Ted knew that what he was doing was illegal and gambled on the outcome of being bribed. For him, giving attention to rich oil companies was more important than representing Alaskans. Stevens figured that by throwing as much pork as he could their way that they'd be happy, but clearly Ted never gave his constituents much credit.

Thankfully for them, they can put their trust in a man who will put Alaska first, Senate candidate and Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich.

Keith Olbermann Warns Palin Not To Throw Stones From Her Glass House

No one does it better than Keith Olbermann:

NY City Council To Push Term Limit Legislation Today

Without giving the public much time to digest the Mayor's bid to run for a third term, the Council is rushing ahead to change the law and the will of the voters to allow him and themselves to run for one additional term. Majority Leader Rivera is confident in the strength of the bill, but he should be forewarned that there will be hell to pay for anyone that goes along with this.

From The NY Observer:

Unofficially, the bill to change the city’s term-limits law will pass the City Council with about 35 votes in favor, according to Majority Leader Joel Rivera, who spoke to me on the City Hall steps after the Council's Democratic caucus meeting.

As far as what divides the two camps, Rivera said there isn’t much of a split between members who will be term-limited out of office if the law doesn't change, and those that could run for re-election this year. The split, he said, fell along ideological lines: those who are willing to change the law legislatively through a Council vote, and those who think it needs to go before the voters.

Rivera also said nearly every Council member wants to vote on the bill “as soon as possible” so they know whether to run for re-election, aim for higher office, or file a lawsuit.

Councilman Robert Jackson, who supports changing the law, told me that even if Michael Bloomberg and Ron Lauder are shaping most of the public conversation, “It doesn’t matter." The issue, he said, is “pretty simple.”

Yes Mr. Jackson, the issue is very simple, either you respect the voters or you do not. You either pass a bill for the sole benefit of the Mayor and Council, or you do not. You either support oligarchy...I think the picture is crystal clear here.

Now the Council isn't all bad and those thirty-five votes aren't all written in stone. There are plenty of Council members that are against this bill. Tony Avella, Eric Gioia and my Councilwoman Rosie Mendez have all come out against it to name a few. To back up their words, they have introduced competing bills that put the city first and Bloomberg second.

Even on the editorial front things aren't so bad. While the NY Times is against term limits as a rule, the Times-Union understands the true issue here. It isn't about term limits, it is about respecting the rule of law and the will of the voters. If a majority of New Yorkers want to keep them based on the merits then that is the way it should be. Unfortunately, Bloomberg, Rivera and many others do not respect the way of the democratic process.

Welcome To The Crusade Against The Press Express

John McCain and Sarah Palin's recent remarks against the press may be new for the Senator, but Palin is bringing a new dawn to the country where the people are talked at and not with. Although Palin doesn't want to kill Obama like her supporters do, her inflammatory language is doing everything to not alleviate the situation. Instead she is focusing on attacking the press and dredging up old attacks on Obama that didn't work the first time around. Of course, we can't ask her about it or even write much on her vitriol, especially when she locks journalists out of her events.

From Think Progress:

During Gov. Sarah Palin’s (R-AK) speech in Florida this morning, campaign staffers kept the press locked out of the park and away from supporters attending the speech:

Constantly under the watchful eyes of security, the media wasn’t permitted to wander around inside Coachman Park to talk to Sarah Palin supporters. When reporters tried to leave the designated press area and head toward the bleachers where the crowd was seated, an escort would dart out of nowhere and confront him or her and say, “Can I help you?” and turn the person around.

When one reporter asked an escort, who would not give her name, why the press wasn’t allowed to mingle, she said that in the past, negative things had been written. The campaign wanted to avoid that possibility Monday.

The campaign wants to avoid negative things written about her? Um, that isn't how it works Governor. To some degree, this is still a free country and we as citizens have a right to a free press that must have access to those that wish to hold higher office.

Palin may not read newspapers and likes to burn books as a hobby, but I think she secretly keeps a copy of Brave New World under her pillow at night.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Welcome To New York, Ruled By King Bloomberg

I'm sure the Mayor King Michael Bloomberg loves the sound of this clip, even if it is dripping with sarcasm.

Oh and how fitting that he was speaking to reporters today with this behind him.

John Dowd Forgets His And McCain's Personal History Of S&L Scandal

John McCain and Sarah Palin, like others before them, are unsuccessfully trying to tarnish Barack Obama with people he has made acquaintances with. In response, Obama's campaign is reminding America about John McCain's direct dealing in the last major financial scandal. While we are experiencing one of the worst economic climates in decades, it is appropriate to know that the last time taxpayers had to fix the problems created by wealthy Wall Street Execs. Seventeen years ago Charles Keating colluded with five Senators to buy into the system that is Washington. One of those five was John McCain. Now that people are paying attention to this, McCain's supporters are spinning the story on overdrive. Too bad for them, the truth isn't hard to figure out.

From The Washington Post:

In a conference call with reporters, attorney John Dowd was asked about a specific part of the Keating Five inquiry, the fact that Cindy McCain and her father had invested in a Keating strip mall.

"It was part of the inquiry, but it did not -- John was unconnected to that and unaware of it at the time, and did not participate in it," Dowd said.

But thanks to the quick research skills of Democratic partisans, here's John McCain's answer to an attorney who asked him about that very investment during the ethics committee hearings in 1991.

"Sometime in 1986, I was told by Mr. Delgado, who was Executive Vice President of my father-in-law's company, that they were going to invest in a shopping center and that the investment -- the project -- was being put together by a subsidiary of American Continental," McCain said. "He later told me that they -- that that had happened. And I had no interest in it and just noted in passing that this investment took place."

The attorney asking the question during the hearing? John Dowd.

Whoops! It looks like Mr. Dowd "forgot" about asking Senator McCain questions in front of the ethics committee investigations. Of course, there's nothing like a good YouTube video to jog the memories of those who lie to protect their favorite politicians. Care to revise your previous statement Mr. Dowd?

Right Wing Eats One Of Their Own

When it comes to Republicans' talking points and agendas, stepping out of line is worse than Benedict Arnold's actions against the Revolutionaries. Kathleen Parker experienced the brutality of her former right-wing compatriots when she advocated for Sarah Palin to step down off the ticket. Howie Kurtz had her on Reliable Sources yesterday to talk about the backlash for what she said.

From CNN's Reliable Sources:

KURTZ: What about the reaction? All those e-mails, all the vitriol directed at you, I mean, that has got to be somewhat depressing. Are you expected because you are on the conservative side of the spectrum to defend any nominee the Republican Party throws out there?

PARKER: Apparently. Apparently so.

I think the reaction to me specifically in this case was there are a number of factors, I think. One was that they very much do not want Obama to win, and so any opinion that seems to give ammunition to the other side is going to cause trouble.

I think another factor is that these people have so over-identified with Sarah Palin as one of us, you know, saying that we're all ordinary Americans, she's like us -- and boy she played that up in a big way in the debate Thursday. She really played her populist card. But I think that they felt insulted personally, so I think that accounts...

KURTZ: Were you not only wandering off the reservation as a conservative, but also as a woman who perhaps some saw as betraying or walking away from this woman, the first Republican woman on a Republican presidential ticket?

PARKER: Yes, I guess a little bit. It's sort of a funny thing for the right to be offended by objecting to the sisterhood, you know, by leaving the sisterhood. But I think most of the comments were more along the lines of -- that I was jealous, that clearly I couldn't stand for a pretty woman like Sarah Palin to be rising to the vice presidency, that probably I should be. And that actually hadn't entered my mind, but...

KURTZ: You have avoided taking this personally, but it's got to be a little frustrating to be beaten up like that for basically doing your job. You're paid to have opinions. You're paid to write a column.

PARKER: Well, of course I am. And I'm not paid by the GOP. I mean, I'm not employed by them. And I have to say what I believe.

I have to -- you know, there's an issue of credibility as well for me. So it was impossible for me to continue cheerleading for Sarah Palin given the evidence we had at the time.

KURTZ: I've got about half a minute. Did Sarah Palin's performance at the debate, which got fairly positive reviews from the mainstream media, cause you to revise your view at all about whether she should be the VP nominee?

PARKER: Sarah Palin I think redeemed herself. I don't think she helped McCain. And I think the question of whether she is qualified to be president has not been answered in a different way. How's that?

KURTZ: In a different way...

PARKER: I don't think anyone who watched her and who then listens to her answers would say, yes, this woman is ready to be president of the United States should circumstances warrant.

KURTZ: Kathleen Parker still speaking her mind.

Yes Kathleen, way to speak your mind. Too bad no one on your side of the aisle really appreciates those qualities anymore. Then again, that is what the Republican Party has been all about for quite some time now. It isn't about a free flow of idea and thoughtful debate between the array of conservatives in America. The only thing that matters to the GOP leadership is maintaining power through lockstep unity all the way down the ranks.

Bill Ayers Has Nothing On Charles Keating

While Sarah Palin thinks it's ok to say Obama palled around with terrorists, the reality is that Ayers committed those heinous acts when Barack was eight years old. Now Charles Keating on the other hand, scammed American taxpayers out of billions with the help of John McCain while he was a sitting U.S. Senator.

The Obama campaign released a documentary showing just how well the two knew each other:

McCain Plans To Trash Medicare And Medicaid

A big part of John McCain's health care plan involves a tax credit, but it comes at the expense of Medicare and Medicaid. Those two programs allow for millions of Americans to receive health care assistance but John wants to take that away, to the tune of $1.3 trillion over ten years. Of course, the Republican candidate doesn't like to talk about that much, especially with his plummeting poll numbers, but the Wall Street Journal fills us in anyways.

From The WSJ:

The Republican presidential nominee has said little about the proposed cuts, but they are needed to keep his health-care plan "budget neutral," as he has promised. The McCain campaign hasn't given a specific figure for the cuts, but didn't dispute the analysts' estimate.

In the months since Sen. McCain introduced his health plan, statements made by his campaign have implied that the new tax credits he is proposing to help Americans buy health insurance would be paid for with other tax increases.

But Douglas Holtz-Eakin, Sen. McCain's senior policy adviser, said Sunday that the campaign has always planned to fund the tax credits, in part, with savings from Medicare and Medicaid. Those government health-care programs serve seniors, poor families and the disabled. Medicare spending for the fiscal year ended Sept. 30 is estimated at $457.5 billion.

See, those poor families and the disabled do not generally vote Republican. As for the seniors, well, McCain is losing them too. So why not just go for the rich and trick as many others into voting for him using fear, dirty tricks and manipulation? Bring up Bill Ayers and any other bad guy Barack Obama didn't know when he was eight years old to make people forget about the realities of the two candidates' policies. You know, stuff like this:

The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, a Washington think tank, estimates that the McCain plan would cost the government $1.3 trillion over 10 years. The plan would allow as many as five million more people to have insurance, it estimates.

Mr. Holtz-Eakin said the plan is accurately described as budget neutral because it assumes enough savings in Medicare and Medicaid spending to make up the difference. He said the savings would come from eliminating Medicare fraud and by reforming payment policies to lower the overall cost of care. He said the new tax credits will help some low-income people avoid joining Medicaid. The campaign also proposes increasing Medicare premiums for wealthier seniors.

Sen. Obama also would rely on some Medicare savings to pay for his health-care plan, which would offer subsidies to help consumers pay for premiums. The Tax Policy Center estimates that his plan would cost $1.6 trillion over 10 years and cover 34 million more people.

Five million (minus those stripped of Medicare and Medicaid) versus thirty-four million more insured Americans. You can't even compare the two plans, they aren't even close.

Ron Lauder Has Zero Authority On Term Limits

Whatever credibility Ron Lauder had with the people of New York and the issue of term limits is now gone. The billionaire can profit off of all the make-up he wants, but needs to stay far away from this issue. Not only is he a sell-out, Lauder has deluded himself into thinking that his idea of extending term limits for Mr. Bloomberg and the current Council is legitimate and/or a smart thing to do.

From The NY Times:

Mr. Lauder, under pressure from friends and Mr. Bloomberg himself, said early last week that he would agree to a temporary revision of the term limits law, which would allow current officeholders to serve three four-year terms.

Mr. Lauder, who bankrolled the 1993 campaign to create term limits in New York City, pointed to the deepening financial crisis, which he said required Mr. Bloomberg’s steady hand.

But when Mr. Bloomberg, a fellow billionaire, and Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn announced last Thursday a plan to allow the City Council to revise the law, Mr. Lauder was upset to learn that they envisioned a permanent change, rather than a one-time exception.

“If there is a permanent change, I will fight it,” Mr. Lauder said in a telephone interview on Sunday night. “As far as I am concerned, it’s a one-time only exception. That is it.”

We know it is illegal, city lawyers are well aware of this and that is why Bloomberg is advocating for a permanent change. Lauder naively believes that:
“I am sure there are legal issues,” Mr. Lauder said, “but I am sure there are ways around it.”
Uh, no Mr. Lauder, there isn't a way around it. Try substituting Bloomberg for Giuliani and maybe, just maybe you'll start to understand what the big deal is here. You can't and you won't temporarily change the law for a single individual, even if his name is Michael Bloomberg, especially if his name is Michael Bloomberg.

Why you would think a man so intricately tied into the Wall Street culture would be beneficial for us is ridiculous. Millions of New Yorkers and Americans are suffering from the repercussions of malfeasance and greed do not need an insider that gives wealthy developers and real estate executives the keys to our city on a daily basis. Seven, going on eight years has been enough...and we've heard enough out of you Ron. Now go make your special deal with the Mayor as the rest of figure out how to keep some semblance of democracy in our city.

John McCain's Brilliant Assessment

Sometimes McCain surprises us all with truth and candor that few possess. Here is one of those moments:

Barack, You're My Hero

Alright he's a politician, so I'm not going to call the Democratic nominee my hero just yet. I'll wait for a couple years into his Presidency to determine that call once I see what happens in Iraq and with our economy. Of course, that doesn't stop Mary Menth Andersen from calling him her knight in shining armor and she's done so for nearly twenty years. The story is almost too good to be true, but more indicative of how good we can be as people unto each other.

From Leisha Campbell:

ÅSGÅRDSTRAND (VG): Mary was a newlywed and ready to move to Norway, but was stopped at the airport because she didn’t have enough money for the trip. Then a stranger turned up and paid for her.

Mary Menth Andersen was 31 years old at the time and had just married Norwegian Dag Andersen. She was looking forward to starting a new life in Åsgårdstrand in Vestfold with him. But first she had to get all of her belongings across to Norway. The date was November 2nd, 1988.
At the airport in Miami things were hectic as usual, with long lines at the check-in counters. When it was finally Mary’s turn and she had placed her luggage on the baggage line, she got the message that would crush her bubbling feeling of happiness.
-You’ll have to pay a 103 dollar surcharge if you want to bring both those suitcases to Norway, the man behind the counter said.
Mary had no money. Her new husband had travelled ahead of her to Norway, and she had no one else to call.
-I was completely desperate and tried to think which of my things I could manage without. But I had already made such a careful selection of my most prized possessions, says Mary.

Although she explained the situation to the man behind the counter, he showed no signs of mercy.
-I started to cry, tears were pouring down my face and I had no idea what to do. Then I heard a gentle and friendly voice behind me saying, That’s OK, I’ll pay for her.
Mary turned around to see a tall man whom she had never seen before.
-He had a gentle and kind voice that was still firm and decisive. The first thing I thought was, Who is this man?
Although this happened 20 years ago, Mary still remembers the authority that radiated from the man.
-He was nicely dressed, fashionably dressed with brown leather shoes, a cotton shirt open at the throat and khaki pants, says Mary.
She was thrilled to be able to bring both her suitcases to Norway and assured the stranger that he would get his money back. The man wrote his name and address on a piece of paper that he gave to Mary. She thanked him repeatedly. When she finally walked off towards the security checkpoint, he waved goodbye to her.

The piece of paper said ‘Barack Obama’ and his address in Kansas, which is the state where his mother comes from. Mary carried the slip of paper around in her wallet for years, before it was thrown out.
-He was my knight in shining armor, says Mary, smiling.
She paid the 103 dollars back to Obama the day after she arrived in Norway. At that time he had just finished his job as a poorly paid community worker* in Chicago, and had started his law studies at prestigious Harvard university.
In the spring of 2006 Mary’s parents had heard that Obama was considering a run for president, but that he had still not decided. They chose to write a letter in which they told him that he would receive their votes. At the same time, they thanked Obama for helping their daughter 18 years earlier.
In a letter to Mary’s parents dated May 4th, 2006 and stamped ‘United States Senate, Washington DC’, Barack Obama writes**:
‘I want to thank you for the lovely things you wrote about me and for reminding me of what happened at Miami airport. I’m happy I could help back then, and I’m delighted to hear that your daughter is happy in Norway. Please send her my best wishes. Sincerely, Barack Obama, United States senator’.
The parents sent the letter on to Mary.

This week VG met her and her husband in the café that she runs with her friend Lisbeth Tollefsrud in Åsgårdstrand.
-It’s amazing to think that the man who helped me 20 years ago may now become the next US president, says Mary delightedly.
She has already voted for Obama. She recently donated 100 dollars to his campaign.
She often tells the story from Miami airport, both when race issues are raised and when the conversation turns to the presidential elections.
-I sincerely hope the Americans will see reason and understand that Obama means change, says Mary.
The article doesn't talk about his policies or positions, but it says a lot about his personality and his character. Oh and since this from a Norwegian paper, if you know the language and can translate better than Leisha, take a look at it in its original form.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Big Oil And Hurricane Ike's Environmental Impact

Once Hurricane Ike came ashore, the mainstream media all but forgot about Houston, Galveston and every area that was affected by the monstrous tropical system. Sure, you could go to and see what was happening, but that is mostly only known to residents of Texas Gulf Coast. The larger outlets quickly moved onto other news, perfectly on cue as the 24 hour news cycle dictates. Though there was one small side issue that almost everyone missed, now finally being noticed by the AP, of all places.

From the AP:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Hurricane Ike's winds and massive waves destroyed oil platforms, tossed storage tanks and punctured pipelines. The environmental damage only now is becoming apparent: At least a half million gallons of crude oil spilled into the Gulf of Mexico and the marshes, bayous and bays of Louisiana and Texas, according to an analysis of federal data by The Associated Press.

In the days before and after the deadly storm, companies and residents reported at least 448 releases of oil, gasoline and dozens of other substances into the air and water and onto the ground in Louisiana and Texas. The hardest hit places were industrial centers near Houston and Port Arthur, Texas, as well as oil production facilities off Louisiana's coast, according to the AP's analysis.

"We are dealing with a multitude of different types of pollution here ... everything from diesel in the water to gasoline to things like household chemicals," said Larry Chambers, a petty officer with the U.S. Coast Guard Command Center in Pasadena, Texas.
Half a million gallons of crude oil spilled into the Gulf and only a month later does anyone notice? That's utterly ridiculous. You would think someone with a camera and a helicopter could have pointed this out to the national press before October, but like most people with common sense combined with a want of accountability, you'd be wrong.

One group that benefits from the national ignorance of the problem is the "Drill, Baby, Drill" crowd. John McCain has lied and denied that there is a problem when it comes to oil rigs and Hurricanes, but putting the truth aside for his largest contributors is the GOP way. Of course, this is just one more lie to add to the biggest elephant in that room, that more drilling off our coasts won't do anything to meet our energy needs. McCain and Palin will lie for fossil fuel industries from now to election day and that is why we must reject more of the same policies that our nation has been beaten over the head with by George W. Bush.