Saturday, November 15, 2008

The New York City Rally Against H8 Just Got Out

The stretch of Broadway on the side of City Hall is empty now, but for the past two hours thousands of people have been circulating within several blocks of Lower Manhattan. Gay and straight alike came down on this humid Saturday afternoon to protest the passage of Proposition 8 in California. It is equally a rally against similar measures in Arizona and Florida as well as the gay adoption ban in Arkansas.

It should be a no-brainer that all Americans do not receive equal rights under the law, yet hate, ignorance and bigotry have prevented us from that from the beginning of our country. Yet as Jon Stewart so eloquently shoved in Bill O'Reilly's face the other night, the side of history is with us. That isn't just in Greenwich Village but every village and every city across our country. This is what progress looked like here in New York City.

Here are some crowd shots for you, all taken on the photo booth of my MacBook!

In case you can't see, it says Defend Equality.

Equal Rights Now is right!

Another crowd shot.

Yes, that's right, even the pooties are affected!

Here in New York this display of protest for human rights must be translated into action. As you may have heard, Connecticut has started to allow gay couples to get married, just a short Metro-North trip away from NYC. Now we must make sure that happens here in NYC and across the state.

You may also have heard that Governor Paterson made an executive decision to honor the rights that have been afforded by other states like CT and MA, but it isn't enough. Right now there is a battle for our State Senate. We won enough seats to take power away from the Republicans who've held the chamber for nearly 70 years. Yet three of the so-called Democrats are stymieing things. Senators Kruger, Espada (Senator-elect and current Councilman) and Diaz are withholding their support for Sen. Malcolm Smith because they fear that the Senate will join with the Assembly to pass an equal rights bill here in the Empire State.

Let the Gang of Three know what you think of their actions (especially if they are your State Senators) and do not stop pressuring all of Albany until the bill is passed.

CAP's Progressive Blueprint For Obama To Follow

If you have an hour, take a look at this video and see what the Center for American Progress thinks should be the priorities of the coming Obama Administration. There's a lot we have to do for our nation and our standing in the world. This is a very good start to begin the healing.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Protest Proposition Hate Tomorrow At City Hall

News coverage of California's prop 8 has continued for more than a week after the election and there's good reason to keep it going. It is absurd that we as a country are keeping other Americans from having human rights and equal treatment under the law, simply for their sexual orientation. Many of us outside of California and states with similar measures didn't have a chance to voice their opposition to these hateful ballot measures, but we can certainly protest it.

Tomorrow at City Hall in New York from 1:30 to 4:30 in the afternoon and at a City Hall near you if your at a computer outside the NYC area. Join the Impact has the details on where the local spot is to speak up for human rights! If there isn't one nearby, then start one really quick and tell the media. This isn't just an issue for Californians, it is a question for humanity and how we treat our fellow person. Enough is enough, it is time to let our elected officials know this is a serious problem and must be remedied.

So again, in New York City:

City Hall - 260 Broadway

New York, NY

1:30pm - 4:30pm

Bring an umbrella, your best protest voice and some signs if you got em' and we'll see you there. Fifteen thousand people showed up at Lincoln Center on a Wednesday night after work, so let's beat that on a Saturday afternoon!

Republicans Continue To Shun Sarah Palin

The nasty shots McCain aides took at Palin immediately following the campaign were vicious and reinforced her "unprepared" persona. The Alaskan Governor went on the defensive and did tons of interviews to show her getting back into the swing of things up north. Then came the Republican Governor's Association meeting. At first she took the spotlight down in Miami but when things were all said and done, the rest of the GOP Governors came down firmly against her.

From The Washington Wire:

The Republican Governors Association announced its new leadership lineup today after their annual meeting concluded Thursday in Miami.

South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford was voted RGA chairman, taking over the top job from Texas Gov. Rick Perry who will now serve as finance chairman. Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour is vice-chairman, while Florida Gov. Charlie Crist will serve as chair for the annual RGA gala, and Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue will head up the recruitment effort.[..]

Not on the list? Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who also attended the Miami meeting.

A majority of Republicans polled last week may want her to be at the top of the party, but the current leadership is definitely not that positive about Palin. I suspect that as long as she has respectable numbers, those who want to hold onto their inter-party power will continue to attack Palin and make sure she stays above the 50th parallel. Many in the leadership won't admit it outright, but going with the darling of the rabid right will do nothing but marginalize and regionalize the GOP.

Rachel Maddow Lays Out The Risks Of Keeping Lieberman Where He Is

Oh there are so many bad reasons to keep Lieberman as Chair of that Committee. So, so, many. Take notes here Lieberman apologists, I'm looking at you Senator Bayh!

Did Putin Spare Georgia The Worst To Avoid Looking Like Bush?

There are so many negative attributes about President George Bush, you'd have to write several novels to full encompass them all (oh wait, that's been done already). So I'd like to take a moment to highlight something good he's done in the world of foreign affairs, even if it was done indirectly. It seems that a conversation between Nicolas Sarkozy and Vladimir Putin might have saved Saakashvili's gonads by way of our outgoing Presidential disaster.

From The TimesOnline (UK):

With Russian tanks only 30 miles from Tbilisi on August 12, Mr. Sarkozy told Mr. Putin that the world would not accept the overthrow of Georgia’s Government. According to [Sarkozy’s chief diplomatic adviser, Jean-David] Levitte, the Russian seemed unconcerned by international reaction. “I am going to hang Saakashvili by the balls,” Mr. Putin declared.

Mr. Sarkozy thought he had misheard. “Hang him?” — he asked. “Why not?” Mr. Putin replied. “The Americans hanged Saddam Hussein.”

Mr. Sarkozy, using the familiar tu, tried to reason with him: “Yes but do you want to end up like [President] Bush?” Mr. Putin was briefly lost for words, then said: “Ah — you have scored a point there.”
Now when someone as sinister as Vladimir Putin takes pause at the fear of being compared to George Bush, we can truly account for how far world opinion has fallen of our country in the last several years. That countdown clock to January 20th really can't tick fast enough. Though I wonder if Bush will take credit for that in his memoirs, hmmm.

Paterson Offers Higher Ed A Bone While Swiping A Leg

City University of New York Chancellor Matthew Goldstein praised the Governor for a "paradigm shift" by offering a small portion (10% in the first year) of his proposed tuition hikes for CUNY and SUNY back to the schools. Chancellor Goldstein of course is probably just happy from his recent $55,000 dollar raise, bringing his salary and benefits to over half a million a year. That he gets to swim in his money when students have to pay for a substitute for budget cuts is obscene. Perhaps it is his job as an Administrator to keep money flowing in and not out, but he must have forgot that the ones kicking in the extra dough are the students who can least afford it in these troubled times.

From The NY Times:

“The way it is now certainly is not the best way to do things,” said H. Carl McCall, a member of the SUNY board. “Any tuition program we put forward would be some program that would look at predictable, regular increases rather than these spikes during a crisis.”

In the past, he said, such a change has met resistance among lawmakers. “They feel their constituents are hard-pressed and don’t want to pay additional fees every year,” he explained.
Well yeah, no one wants to pay extra fees, but legislators looking at such a drastic budget cut called for by Paterson might not hear the students as well when faced with the alternative of pissing off their wealthy contributors. The millionaire's tax is getting some discussion but Paterson is adamantly against any kind of tax increase. What really needs to happen is for Paterson to be pushed to change his mind and pinch the pockets of the 26,000 Millionaires in this state and not the millions who are going to shoulder the burden of hard times if he gets to keep things his way.

As for tuition increases, Pat Callan of the National Center for Public and Higher Education has the right idea:

The concern is that if the colleges and universities are allowed to increase tuition annually, they will still turn to even-bigger increases during tough economic times because that is easier than the alternative of cutting spending.

“It is a whacko system that no one defends,” said Mr. Callan. “But it works well enough for the colleges and legislators, so no one is willing to risk changing it.”

He said the current crisis presented a brief window of opportunity by focusing attention on the problem.

“As soon as this moment passes, then there is no real incentive to fix it,” he said.

Now is the time to make things right and not spike the cost for those that are trying to go back to college in tough times. Ideally we shouldn't be paying for tuition to our state schools as it was decades ago, but we can at least start turning the trend around so that the system puts students closer to the front of the line when the budget battles heat up. We as the public can stand up and join CUNY faculty and groups like NYPIRG to fight back. Politicians do hear us when we organize, but we must be loud when Wall Street comes into the room with a multi-million dollar sound system when we have a bullhorn at best.

This Could Be Your Next Job

Or worse, it could be similar to your current position. It is past the time to give our nation's workers a fair wage and a safe workplace. Under conservative rule, many of our protections have been rescinded. Now we must fight back and this is a great way to start.

Now sign the petition to help get this bill moving!

The Spoils Go To The Most Prolific Campaign Ever

It has been over a week since Barack Obama was elected President and already there is a mad rush for jobs in the Administration over at When you win the Presidency, plenty of positions open up in the new White House for the party faithful to apply to and receive if their credentials stack up against the challenge. However, when you are Barack Obama and have just completed the best campaign for President ever with tons of cash left over, there's cash and prizes for those that worked for the Obama operation.

From The NY Daily News:

Long-suffering political footsoldiers who toiled tirelessly, at least since September, to put Obama in the White House recently learned they will be getting extra paychecks worth a month's salary, the Daily News has learned.

And boy, are they grateful.

"I think it's a very nice gesture for people who slaved away and sacrificed for the past year," said one pleased ex-staffer.

"It was totally unexpected, and you can't believe how helpful this is with the holidays coming," the lower-level worker said. "A lot of people thought they were going to be broke and would have to try to find a job in this rotten economy. It's a huge help."

In addition to the cold cash, staffers also have the option of keeping their campaign-issued computers and BlackBerrys - but must pay income tax on the hardware if they do.

All's fair with income tax, this side is definitely going to start by respecting the rule of law. Seriously though, this is a fantastic thing for Obama to do for his campaign army. It is nothing short of grueling to be a campaign staffer and often do a lot for very little in return (sans the changing our country for the better part). Now this is set of bonuses I can definitely get behind, unlike the schmucks in the financial district who are still looking forward to their obscene benefits next month. Hopefully that'll change once the O man gets to work.

Quinn's Protests Over Senior Centers Aren't Fooling Anyone

Christine Quinn is up in arms over proposed cuts to senior centers made by Mayor Bloomberg and she isn't going to take it! She insists it isn't a symbolic protest, but I couldn't throw that denial farther than a granite slab in Central Park. She went from being a good Democratic activist to the Mayor's chief official tool. Now she wants to make believe that she is some sort of tough Council Speaker who stands up for the people, pffft!

From PolitickerNY:

Christine Quinn took the unusual step of protesting Michael Bloomberg, the mayor with whom she’s had an extremely close working relationship.

The protest was over the mayor’s plan to restructure the city's senior centers. Critics say the plan will not save money, and will reduce services unnecessarily. The mayor’s administration has argued the changes are a way to better monitor a sprawling and confusing network of social programs.

The protest comes at a time when, for political reasons, Quinn needs to demonstrate that she is willing and able to stand up to the mayor.

This is really what it is all about, because ultimately she is going to want to be re-elected and the groundswell across the city and in her district has developed into at least two challengers thusfar to oust her. I'll credit her for talking tough in this video by Azi but when it comes to her vote, she's weaker than the Mets ability to come through at the end of the season.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Dennis Miller's Homophobia On Full Display At Fox

Is this the level of discussion that a "fair and balanced" network is supposed to display? Making gay jokes about Congressman Barney Frank is acceptable? Dennis Miller shows his true scumbag-nature on the Falafel Factor and Bill O laughs right along with him. Criticizing Frank for his decisions about our fiscal policy is one thing, this joke is absolutely uncalled for.

The Bailout Is Bigger Than You Think And No One Is Paying Attention

If you think the $700 billion given to Secretary Paulson by the Congress was a lot of cash, then you'll be shocked to know how much our government is really coming up to bat for corporations with. The actual tab, when combined with loans, guarantees and other set ups is closer to five trillion, or to put it in long form, $5,000,000,000,000.00. That my friends (sorry for the McCain reference) is a incredible amount of money. Especially because the people who pay most of the taxes really do not see much of it. The way it breaks down is pretty simple.

From Forbes:

The Fed has taken on much of that total, including lending a cumulative $1 trillion in overnight or short-term loans since March to primary dealers through its emergency discount window and making a cumulative $1.8 trillion available through its term auction facility, a series of short-term transactions it began making available twice a month in January. It should be noted that a portion of the funds lent in these programs has been repaid and that the totals represent what has been made available.

The Fed also took on tens of billions in debt, including $29 billion in debt of Bear Stearns, and made $60 billion of credit available to American International Group (nyse: AIG - news - people ). It is committing $22.5 billion to set up a special purpose vehicle to manage some of AIG's residential mortgage-backed securities, and it is financing $30 billion of a second fund to hold $70 billion of multi-sector collaterized debt obligations on which AIG wrote credit default swaps.

The Treasury, in addition to the $700 billion raised in the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act, agreed to guarantee money market funds against losses up to $50 billion, will inject $40 billion of capital into AIG and is backing the conservatorship of Fannie Mae (nyse: FNM - news - people ) and Freddie Mac (nyse: FRE - news - people ), to the tune of $200 billion.

The FDIC, meanwhile, is guaranteeing $1.5 trillion of senior unsecured bank debt.

And there's more to that as well, but you can start by digesting those numbers. The truth is we are dropping ridiculous sums of money in these institutions and have very little to show for it. The markets are still unhappy and fears of a long recession just make things worse. The way Wall Street has fiscally managed itself (basically no management to be seen) has had a detrimental effect on us all and what is worst of all is that Congress is doing next to nothing to make sure what they have given Paulson has worked.

Literally speaking, no oversight positions have been filled and $290 billion has already been spent out of the bailout. Many of us on the left (and yes, the conservative right too) screamed and shouted to take it easy and not act in such a brash manner that gave Paulson and Bush everything he wanted. The conditions that precipitated this collapse have been formed over many years and taking a few extra weeks would have been just fine. Now we are still in a large mess with nothing to show for the billions spent. Soon we'll be wishing for this to only cost five trillion dollars and not whatever astronomical figure it eventually ends up being.

Gennaro Continues To Close The Gap

We are now nine days past the election and the count continues for the 11th Senate District in Northeast Queens. Board of Election officials are busy counting inside a warehouse in Middle Village and the machine tally has brought the seven hundred-plus Padavan lead down to a mere 502 out of more than 82,000 ballots cast. Now it's time for a hand count of all the paper ballots, due in part to dysfunctional machines throughout the district.

From The NYT Cityroom:

In unofficial results, Mr. Padavan was leading his Democratic rival, City Councilman James F. Gennaro, by 723 votes. But Valerie Vazquez-Rivera, a spokeswoman for the city’s Board of Elections, said that there about 8,000 absentee and other paper ballots yet to be counted.

The board said the official count of the votes cast at machines could be completed as early as today. But it was uncertain how long it will take to count the various paper ballots; it could take days or much longer. Both candidates are entitled to oversee the process, the length of which depends on the degree of scrutiny — and objections — offered by either side.

“We’re incredibly optimistic about how the vote will play out,” said Evan Stavisky, a consultant working with the Gennaro campaign. “Every day for the last several years, this district has become more and more Democratic.”
I talked to a member of the Gennaro campaign last night and he was equally upbeat about the way things are going. With approximately 8,000 paper ballots to count, a 5,251 to 4,749 split or greater is all Jim Gennaro needs to oust Padavan from the seat he's held since 1972. It isn't a terrible hurdle to overcome and all eyes will be on the process as each ballot is examined. Expect many challenges from both sides and hopefully a decent level of attention paid by the press as well.

Evan Bayh Argues For Lieberman...And An Apology

Senator Bayh is one of Joe Lieberman's biggest fans in the Senate and he defended his chairmanship well on Rachel Maddow's show yesterday. He acknowledged that what Joe did on the campaign trail was wrong but that a disgruntled Lieberman would be worse for us than if he were stripped of his committee.

Unfortunately there are many problems with this. For starters, it would be incredibly hard to strip Lieberman of his Chairmanship mid-term than it would be right now when everything is being doled out. Secondly, his record as Chair of the Committee for Homeland Security and Government Affairs is abysmal. He was basically helping Bush by not conducting any oversight whatsover. Endorsing and campaigning for Lieberman was just the icing on the cake. He can support whomever he wants for President (though that was disgusting on many levels) but if you cannot do your job as a Senator, then a Democratic majority has the right and duty to give Lieberman absolutely nothing. Let him be disgruntled. The man already votes against his party and the whole sixty Senator plateau has already been discredited because Senators can cross party lines for various legislation.

Nice try to save your friend Senator Bayh, but Lieberman still needs to be stripped of the Chairmanship. He's proven himself unworthy too many times. If he wants to redeem himself, an apology is a good start, but words mean nothing without action, so let's watch and see how he votes in the 111th session before giving him anything of importance.

Senator Duckworth? It Could Happen By Xmas

Now that Barack Obama is going to be our next President, that leaves Illinois with a vacancy in the Senate (Delaware too) and Governor Blagojevich will have to appoint someone that can fill in until a special election can be held. Names being tossed around include Dan Seals, Jesse Jackson Jr., Danny Davis and Jan Schakowsky but there is another that is being looked at closely, Purple Heart recipient and Illinois Veterans Affairs Director Tammy Duckworth.

From Army Times:

Tammy Duckworth, who earned the Purple Heart for her service in Iraq, may be moving up with President-elect Barack Obama.

Duckworth, now the Illinois Veterans Affairs director, has been mentioned as a possible replacement for Obama in the U.S. Senate or as Veterans Affairs secretary in an Obama administration.

She accompanied Obama yesterday as the Illinois senator marked Veterans Day by placing a wreath at the bronze soldiers memorial between the Field Museum and Soldier Field in Chicago.

Duckworth, then a pilot with the Illinois Army National Guard, lost both her legs in Iraq in 2004 when her Black Hawk helicopter was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade.

She has said she would be interested in either the Senate seat or a post in Obama’s administration.

The chance of her directing the VA at the national level is a real possibility and a great thing for Veterans, especially being served by one of their own. Anyone who knows the VA knows it needs a lot of help and Duckworth can definitely head there and make a difference. On the other hand, Senator Duckworth can also do an incredible amount in the Senate, as Jim Webb (D-VA) has already shown with his incredible new GI bill passed earlier this year.

So wherever she goes, Tammy Duckworth will do great things and as Governor Blagojevich said, she's a "superstar."

Non Profits Fight Back Against Paterson's Budget Axe

When the New York legislature comes into session next week, Governor Paterson is ready to cut, cut, cut without any tax increases. In fact, the most money being chopped is from where it hurts the middle class and the working poor the most, specifically from education and health care programs. Education is what gives our children a chance and health care is what helps to keep us healthy without having to go completely broke or extremely in debt to get it. Well our city and state's best advocates have gotten together and are telling the Governor there is a better way.

From The PolitickerNY:

ALBANY—A coalition of social service groups attacked David Paterson's latest round of proposed budget cuts, and offered their own three-point plan for closing the enormous deficit.

The coalition—which claims to represent 200 nonprofit and faith-based service-providing groups around the state—said just reducing spending will "devastate" New York's future.

The group's plan first calls for instituting the so-called "millionaire's tax," which would raise taxes on the highest income earner (it's also the object of much spirited debate). Second, they would lobby hard for federal assistance, which Paterson has already done, though it's far from a sure thing. Third, they are asking Paterson to dip into the Tax Stabilization Reserve Fund—a pot of just over $1 billion that is set aside for unplanned expenditures. (Paterson said previously that opening the fund would be "a drop in the bucket" and that the root of the problem lay in excessive spending.)

"For too long, we've allowed the wealthiest New Yorkers to not pay their fair share," said Ron Deutsch, executive director of New Yorkers for Fiscal Fairness, pointing to Paterson's rejection of broad tax increases to generate more revenue.

A drop in the bucket is what Wall Street thinks of a billion dollars, but to the very least amongst us, saving programs that keep kids out of trouble and the disabled is akin to a flood of money. Especially in bad times, people hardly have enough to keep their families together and we need to take care of them first, not those that are worried about selling their pied-a-terre or docking rights at the yacht club. Not only should they be subjected to a millionaire's tax, but it should be the goal of the Democratic majority to pass a more progressive income tax so that everyone pays their fair share in good times and bad.

Dan Savage Exposes Tony Perkins For The Bigot He Is

There was a lot of talking over one another, but in the end Dan Savage owned the segment and showed Tony Perkins true motives with his support of Proposition 8.

NYC Turns Out Against Bigotry And The Mormon Church

Last night New Yorkers who support human rights for all came up to Lincoln Center to protest their neighbor across Columbus Avenue. Only a few hundred feet away from the best of the arts is a church that has rallied for stripping gays of their right to marry whomever they choose and spent millions to do it. The ballot initiatives may have been in California, Arizona, Florida and Arkansas (gay adoption ban in this one) but that doesn't mean protests against their hateful ways will stop across the country.

From The NY Daily News:

Thousands of human rights advocates massed outside the Mormon Temple on the upper West Side Wednesday night to protest the church's vigorous role in banning California's same-sex marriages.

After some speechifying, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and entertainer Whoopi Goldberg led demonstrators on a flag-waving, drum-beating, slogan-chanting march to Columbus Circle.

The peaceful protest drew young and old, white and nonwhite, straight and gay, most of whom smiled and waved at spectators as they chanted things like, "Gay, straight, black, white, marriage is a civil right," and "separation of church and hate."

Officials at the Mormon Church feigned outrage at this and other protests outside their facilities. While they play "poor little me" the rest of us know and understand exactly how they put themselves into the public sphere and their actions that helped tens of thousands in California to lose their fundamental human rights. If they want to interject their hate and bigotry, they should understand they'll get a response.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Begich Takes The Lead In Alaska!

Last week I wondered why in the hell Alaskans would vote to send a convicted felon back to the United States Senate. Then it was noted that the totals were way off from 2004. Well it turns out that it wasn't a majority of them that checked off Ted Stevens name but only a portion of the votes that Diebold had initially counted. When an additional 90,000-plus ballots were found, the totals magically changed.

From DailyKos:

Sweet. Begich leads.

Stevens (R) 125,016
Begich (D) 125,019

About 40,000 votes are in from today's batch of absentee, early, and question ballots to be counted today, so we still have another 12,000 or so votes to go before the day is finished. And remember, the districts that will be counted later this week are all Begich districts. While we need to wait for every vote to be counted, chances are we will win this thing if Begich ends up the day leading.

And right now, it looks like that's what we're going to get.

There are still tens of thousands of ballots to be counted and it all looks good from here for Mark Begich. Let's hope those blue districts live up to their names and ensure a solid margin of victory for the next Senator from the State of Alaska, and a resounding defeat for one of the newest convicted criminals from there as well. Not are things looking good for Begich, but unfortunately not so much for Ethan Berkowitz's challenge against Congressman Don Young. Merely ethically-challenged Young is up by over 15,000 votes or nearly six percent of the totals.

Update: And the lead grows!

Could Robert Gates Stay At The Pentagon Under Obama?

Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo has the details on this. Though it is up in the air whether this is bad for finding a new direction at the Pentagon. The answer just might be in taking a close look at Brent Scowcroft.

Real Health Care Reform Is On The Move

We are still over two months away from President Obama's inauguration but that isn't stopping Democrats in Congress from surging ahead on solving our national health care crisis. Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) has released an incredibly, dare I say, universal program that goes above and beyond what Obama talked about on the campaign trail. That doesn't mean Obama won't go along with it though, so for those that stuck with Hillary over health care, your worries are going to be put to rest.

From The NY Times:

WASHINGTON — Without waiting for President-elect Barack Obama, Senator Max Baucus, the chairman of the Finance Committee, will unveil a detailed blueprint on Wednesday to guarantee health insurance for all Americans by facilitating sales of private insurance, expanding Medicaid and Medicare, and requiring most employers to provide or pay for health benefits.

Aides to Mr. Obama said they welcomed the Congressional efforts, had encouraged Congress to take the lead and still considered health care a top priority, despite the urgent need to address huge problems afflicting the economy.

The plan proposed by Mr. Baucus, Democrat of Montana, would eventually require everyone to have health insurance coverage, with federal subsidies for those who could not otherwise afford it.
This won't happen in the waning days of the 110th Congress, but President Obama will be ready to go in January when the 111th session starts. The bill is already picking up steam, with support from fellow Senator Kennedy (D-MA) and Representatives John Dingell (D-MI) and Pete Stark (D-CA). The plan consists of 35,000 words, or about 150-200 pages of detailed material that ensures many Americans get the health care they deserve. Krugman is already enthused about this development and for many good reasons, such as expanding S-CHIP and Medicaid.

It is a bold leap forward by a Democrat that usually doesn't coincide with progressive issues. Getting moderate Republicans on board is an obvious benefit to this endeavor. While the rabid righties might not sign on, it will still show an effort towards bipartisanship and still take advantage of the incredible mandate for change that the electorate showed us last Tuesday.

Protest The Mormon Church Over Prop 8 Tonight In NYC!

The electoral battles over gay marriage and adoption were fought in several states outside of New York, but that does not mean the fight is over nor can New Yorkers do their part to protest for human rights and equality for all no matter what your sexual orientation. Tonight at the Mormon Church of New York City on Columbus and 65th from 6:30 til 8pm, hundreds if not thousands will come together to peacefully protest the Mormon Church's interference in the ballot issues and remind people of how they helped to curtail the rights of so many people that simply want the same treatment under the law as straight people.

Here's the organizer of the event, Corey Johnson to explain a few things about what this is all about (via Gothamist):

Apparently thousands are expected at tonight's protest. What do you have planned?
We can not emphasize enough that this is a peaceful protest. We will not respond to their hatred with hatred. There will be a picket line with signs and chanting and also speeches from community leaders.

Can you explain why Proposition 8 is hateful?
For the first time, a state Constitution has been amended to take away existing rights -- in this case, the right to marry. And this Prop. victory could invalidate more than 18,000 marriages that have happened in CA since June 17.

Why target the Mormon Church, rather than Catholics or other religious groups who oppose Prop 8?
The Mormon Church distinguished itself from all other anti-gay groups by getting their congregation to contribute more than $20 million in their campaign of homophobia which resulted in the passage of Prop. 8, thereby doing away with marriage equality for all.

There's a lot of anger at Mormons, do you think it's all justified?
The anger is not towards Mormons, but rather towards the leaders of the Mormon Church, who purposely spread lies about gays and lesbians to create an atmosphere of fear and hatred.

So yeah, it isn't about hating Mormons back for their church leaders' decisions. The protest is to create an awareness about what the church hierarchy's role was in all of this and to eventually get them out of the process where a tax-exempt religious institution infringes on another person's right to equal rights. Bigotry is ugly no matter where it pops up and where we see it, it is our duty to quash it. Today that is at the Mormon Church and that is where we'll go.

The New York Times I Dream To Read

A group called the "Yes Men" helped to pull off a stunt this morning that gave thousands upon thousands of a fake New York Times Frontpage that shows how how much we can accomplish under Obama in less than a year. I especially love the "maximum wage" idea. Bravo!

See more of it here!

Three Dollars To Ride The Subway???

I knew the moment the M.T.A.-sponsored signs on the subway said that the $1 fare in 1986 was like $1.89 today that we were in trouble. Then in the last week more of those advertisements tooted the M.T.A.'s horn the warning signs were blaring. Now we find out just how bad the damaged to the straphangers of New York will be....and yeah, it's very, very bad.

From The NY Daily News:

Straphangers could be slammed with a fare hike that jacks the cost of a ride to as much as $3 next year - unless there's a state bailout, a Daily News analysis reveals.[...]

The $2 base fare is the MTA's most likely target because it hasn't climbed in five years, while unlimited-ride MetroCards have been boosted three times, most recently in March.

At the time, critics howled that regular riders were being forced to dig deeper, while out-of-towners - who tend to pay per ride - were let off the hook.

Melissa Garcia, 22, a college student from Washington Heights, shuddered at the thought of paying more to ride the subways.

"The economy is in shambles," she said. "There are no jobs. The price of food is going up. Now, they want to hit us up with this? Please. It's horrendous."

Yes Melissa, it is horrendous and a shame that the burden is being placed on those that ride the subway. We'll be getting less and paying more for it. Unfortunately, with a Governor that is looking to cut $1.4 billion from health care and education budgets in the state, I do not see much hope for a state bailout for the M.T.A. The problem was created long ago when it was decided that real estate taxes should fund our mass-transit system and now we are dealing with that error in judgment. The only thing that seems to be able to save us would be a slice of that Federal bailout to come our way, but that is still very much a dream and not even close to reality.

The Gang Of Three Do Not Understand NY Referendum

I'm grateful that Hiram Monserrate came to his senses and broke from the independent gang of Democrats in order to get behind Malcolm Smith. The other three however, Kruger, Diaz and Espada are wandering further into the woods and in dangerous territory if they want to win re-election in 2010. Yesterday's meeting accomplished absolutely nothing but more uncertainty for the Senate. The three are desperately trying to remain relevant and delaying their decision about whether to support Smith has now been delayed until January. Oh and they added something new to the mix about their bigotry the debate over gay marriage in New York.

From The Daily Politics:

The biggest news to come out of the get-together, which took place at an Italian restaurant on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx, is that the three Democrats - Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr., Sen. Carl Kruger and Senator-elect Pedro Espada Jr. - are calling for a referendum, rather than legislative action, on gay marriage.

"Basically, they said if Malcolm thinks term limits changes should be decided by referendum, then why not gay marriage?" said a source close to the three.

(Smith recently said he would not move to block a bill sponsored by Sen. Kevin Parker that would require any changes to local term limits laws to be put to the public for a vote).

This is, of course, a way to keep Diaz Sr. in the fold, since he has made it very clear that he won't support anyone for leader unless that person pledges not to bring a gay marriage bill to the floor for a vote.

The new Senate under Smith, according to Smith will not require him to bring the bill to the floor because he will not hoard power like Bruno had for all those years. Tom Duane or any other Senator should be able to bring bills out of committee all on their own.

As for the question on a referenda on gay marriage, this topic is nothing like the debate over term limits. In that area, the Mayor and Council of NYC abused their authority and violated the spirit of the city charter for personal gain. The people of NYC had already instituted term limits by referendum and it is only fair that to rescind it would require the same method.

Now for gay marriage, this is a question of expanding equal rights to an oppressed minority in our country that is treated unfairly due to sexual orientation. It shouldn't even have to be considered by the legislature but since we restrict their rights as a state, then Albany must give them their rights. Those that vote against it, as Keith Olbermann put it so forcefully Monday night have a problem with other people's love and need to take a second look at their conscience before going forth.

Frankly, this matter has to be taken care of from above and the legislature has to show true leadership in giving all New Yorkers equal rights regardless of whether they want to marry someone of the same sex or not. Obviously it didn't and couldn't happen under Joe Bruno or the brief period with Dean Skelos, but it can with Malcolm Smith as Majority Leader, no matter if he introduces it himself or not.

Hey King Mike!

Dring an interview on the street, someone came up to Michael Bloomberg and addressed him as "King Mike." And naturally, his royal highness looked over at one of his subjects.

Give Me Your Money And Shut Up!

Sounds like something a mugger might say to you on the street before relieving you of your wallet, but this isn't on a sidewalk, it was a quick press conference and Neel Kashkari was leading it. Who is Kashkari you ask? He used to be a top executive at Goldman Sachs but now is an assistant to Secretary Paulson. He's relatively green in this position and while he loves taking the taxpayers' money to get him and his buddies out of the jam they created (for us all), he hates answering questions and being held accountable.

From The NY Post:

The interim assistant secretary of the Treasury for financial stabilization yesterday had a tone of impatience during a question-and-answer session, leaving some attendees feeling cheated.

The Q&A followed a keynote speech that Kashkari gave at a conference in Midtown Manhattan, which was attended by hundreds of financial executives.

When it came time for questions, the former Goldman Sachs executive told the eager audience that he had time for just "two or three."

In response to the first question, about the government's latest lifeline for beleaguered insurance company American International Group, Kashkari gave a clipped response before quickly moving on.

Yeah, well technically we are still under the Bush Administration so scrutiny and oversight is not what these people prefer. He never really answered anyone's questions but didn't mind giving out billions in loans of our money. Seriously, they are all scumbags at the top of the Treasury Department. President-elect Obama better be coming up with people to replace the shameless goons who are running that agency right now.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

With Run-off Looming, Chambliss Still Showing His Racist Side

Saxby Chambliss won the majority of votes in the Georgia Senate race but did not clear the 50% hurdle to avoid a run-off next month. Now he and Jim Martin will go at it again without the third party challenger and just like before election day, Chambliss is pulling out all the stops to appeal to every white racist with some not-so-coded pleas to vote for him. Seriously this is just sick, though probably not as sick as what he did to Max Cleland six years ago.

From ThinkProgress:

Last night on Fox News, when asked why he wasn’t able to “close the deal” with Georgia voters on election day, Chambliss said that because of Barack Obama, there was a “high percentage of minority vote” and that his campaign wasn’t “able to get enough of our folks out” to vote:

COLMES: Why do you think you’ve been unable…[to] close the deal with the people of Georgia in terms of what happened on Election Day?

CHAMBLISS: Well, listen, we have, for the first time in the history the our state, a 30-day advanced vote period, and let’s give the Obama people credit. They did a good job of getting out their vote early.

There was a high percentage of minority vote, and I am tickled to death that as many Georgians as did examined their right to vote. That’s what make our election process the envy of the whole free world, but we weren’t able to get enough of our folks out on Election Day.

Oh no, not those minority voters!!! We wouldn't want them to stop Saxby from having a second term in the Senate. The ghastly thing is that he really doesn't care who he offends by saying this racist drivel. As long as he gets the win, the means does not matter compared to the end. Oh and what the hell does "examined their right to vote" mean? That is a peculiar way of saying that Georgians who aren't white exercised their constitutional right to vote. Now I know Chambliss would love it if only white male property owners or the Georgia State House could determine who goes up to Washington, but he better recognize that this is 2008 and even if he does win in the end, 2014 will be a completely different landscape yet again, with more of those....gasp....minorities.

Lieberman: The Prodigal Senator

I can't say it or hear it enough, it is time to kick Lieberman from his position of power in the Senate. Let him sit on the sidelines of the caucus, but no way should he have one single, solitary ounce of power within the Democratic majority.

Tom Duane Schools Ruben Diaz For Trying To Be A Bully

This isn't a schoolyard fight we're talking about, this is between two grown men in the New York State Senate with two very different views about marriage equality. Senator Duane, being the only openly gay member has been outspoken on the issue and with a Democratic Senate, is poised to help deliver equality in the state. As a current renegade Democrat, Diaz doesn't particularly like teh gay and wants potential Majority Leader Smith not to bring such a bill to the floor for a vote. Too bad he doesn't know that things, they are a changin' in Albany.

From The Daily Politics:

Sen. Tom Duane today accused Gang of Three member Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr. of being "a little bit of a bully" on same-sex marriage and said the Bronx Democrat is mistakenly working under an old model of how the Senate works by casting this as a make-or-break issue in the leadership battle.

"It's absurd that Sen. Diaz thinks he can bully his way on this issue," Duane said. "That is just not the way the government is going to be in the new Senate."

"I guess he thinks he hasn't been getting enough attention, so he feels need to bully his way to the forefront, but that's not going to fly in the Senate anymore. He'll get used to things running in a more democratic way."

"Sen. (Malcolm) Smith is going to be the leader of the Senate differently than Sen. (Joe) Bruno or even Sen. (Dean) Skelos," Duane continued. "It's a whole new way to operate. It's not just going to be up to Sen. Smith...on what comes to the floor."

Smith said something along the same lines in a Times interview just before Election Day, promising to provide more power to rank-and-file lawmakers and even share power, to some degree, with the Republican minority (assuming they lose the leadership fight).

Aww poor Ruben, just because you want to exclude the gay community from rights that heterosexuals have doesn't mean you'll get your way if you threaten the balance of power in the Senate. If anything, the longer you wait to fall in line behind Smith, the more momentum a challenger has to take you out in two years. With the tide of power swaying back to our side, no one needs a backstabber around while we try and clear up some of the muck that has brought progress to a halt in New York. Duane can bring the bill down by himself and no one will care how loud you scream and shout.

Every Day Should Be Veterans Day

It is eleventh day of November and according to the calendar and a certain President and subsequent Congress, we celebrate our Veterans today. Throughout the 20th century and in the first few years of this millenia, elected officials have thrown many praises at those that serve our country yet very few tangible benefits accorded to them. That has especially been the case since George Bush took office, sending hundreds of thousands of troops to an illegal and immoral war in Iraq while treating them like dogs once they come home and the cameras find another story. It hasn't solely been his doing, but Bush is definitely a huge part of the problem.

Now he's leaving, and in less than seventy days he'll be gone and President Obama will take the oath to uphold the Constitution, defend us against enemies foreign and domestic and everything else included in that important secular scripture. The problem is there will still be many enemies both inside and outside the country. We know about al Qaeda, rumblings from various countries around the world and others that wish to do us harm, but there are too many here at home that only wish to give platitudes to our vets and nothing more. Thankfully we have organizations like Iraq and Afghanistan Vets of America to help and advocates like Joseph Violante to speak up on their behalf.

From Mr. Violante at The Huffington Post:

Too little attention has been paid to the plight of family caregivers, as well. It is spouses, parents, children, and siblings who drop everything -- withdraw from school or quit a job -- to race to be at the bedside of wounded combat veterans, and remain with them throughout their treatment, recovery and rehabilitation. They are providing this care without adequate psychological and financial support.

The seminal issue, however, for us next year is VA finance reform.

In too many cases, VA is unable to properly treat the physical and mental scars of war, in part because its budget is late and unpredictable. VA doesn't know when during the year it will get its funding from Congress, nor does it know how much money it will receive from year to year. Such wacky financing causes unnecessary delays, hold ups, and backlogs in the system. Hiring key staff is put off, or just not done, while injuries like PTSD or TBI are too often not diagnosed in a timely manner. Robert Perreault, a former VA health official, has rightly noted in congressional testimony that "VA funding and the appropriations process is a process no effective business would tolerate."

The problem of VA financing is so important that a partnership of nine veteran service organizations has been created to encourage Congress to provide timely and predictable funding for veterans medical care. Our solution is simple: Congress should allocate funding for the VA health care system one year in advance of when the funds are actually needed, a method already used by Congress to finance some housing and education programs.
There is so much we need to start doing for our vets, but getting their finances in order is a good start. Dealing with PTSD and helping families of impoverished veterans is also extremely important. There are so many issues affecting veterans that need our attention because we as a nation have neglected them for so long.

So when you see the Veteran Day sales and random local news story about a Vet that served in WWII, remember that we have hundreds of thousands of young vets who have given so much to their country and now they need for us to give back (not to discount the service of those that were in WWII). Speaking up for them and to your elected representatives is the only way to get things going. Not everyone is as dedicated to our troops as Senator Webb so we as citizens must motivate them from the grassroots. Use the tools offered by VoteVets and IAVA and help make a difference!

The Fifty Things You May Not Know About Barack Obama

Hannity and the rest of his ilk tried to say that we don't know Barack Obama, even after two years on the campaign trail. Well, now that he's President, you may want to know some of these shocking, shocking I tell ya things about our 44th President care of Cenk Uyugr:

Oh and here's the full list.

Waxman Is A Wise Choice Over Dingell

No one can deny that this year is a year for change. Americans desired it and they voted for it, overwhelmingly, with more than twenty additional seats going to Democrats in the House and between six and nine in the Senate. Oh and then there's the next President on top of that. Looking below those numbers though, it is important to see which Democrats won over incumbents and in bad news for those believers that America is "center-right," huge gains were made specifically for the progressive caucus. So what does that mean for the House, well for starters lets take a look at the contest for Chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee between the liberal Henry Waxman and the more centrist John Dingell.

From RawStory:

Henry Waxman, a long-serving, outspoken, progressive California Democrat, has launched a bid to take control of perhaps the most powerful committee in the House of Representatives.

The move has many moderate Democrats worried about what they see as a takeover from the party's left flank.
What worries the moderates is their positions of authority in the House. Many conservative and blue-dog Democrats would rather hold onto their small feudal plots of power than try to enact the change everyone wants to see. The problem has been an aversion to progressive legislation that may anger certain elected officials' favorite industries.

Dingell's sympathy for the auto industry has contributed to a lack of action on climate change legislation, frustrating environmentalists.

President-elect Barack Obama said during the campaign that he wanted quick action on legislation to cap carbon emissions and require polluters to purchase emission credits on an open market. The Senate failed to pass a cap and trade bill over the summer, and Dingell belatedly introduced his own cap and trade proposal last month.

Environmentalists believe Waxman would be more aggressive in pursuing such legislation.
Waxman's history in the House has shown his tenacity but for a long time the gruesome hearings he holds do not carry past a largely apathetic Congress, unwilling to strike at hearts of Corporate America. As Chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee, he would have great reign to enact the environmental standards that the auto industry among others have been slow to adhere to. The truth is Dingell is too attached to the old Detroit, while Waxman is ready to remake the Motor City into a 21st century center for green technology and a leader in clean energy.

NYPD To Stop Intimidating Protesters With Cameras

Perhaps this comes with the end of the Bush Administration and their disrespect for the Constitution, but any good news about the NYPD is welcome. The memo from the top of New York City's police force is that they will stop videotaping protesters for the sake of documentation. For far too long after September 11th, our Constitutional right to have freedom of assembly was infringed upon and suppressed. Now we might be seeing brighter days ahead.

From Newsday:

The New York Police Department has stopped videotaping demonstrators at protests, ending a practice it had been trying to formalize since the 2004 Republican National Convention in Manhattan.

The decision was hailed by lawyers involved in the case as a victory for activist groups and New Yorkers who feel strongly about their right to protest without fear of winding up in a police dossier.

The NYPD, however, said it was never in the business of spying. "There was no political surveillance," says Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne.

The development is the latest in the decades-old Handschu case, a 1971 class action lawsuit that resulted in guidelines prohibiting police from investigating political groups unless a crime is happening or is about to happen.
Paul Browne is either an idiot or a liar, because surveillance of political protests is exactly what the NYPD was engaged in. Browne and his superiors may not hold high regard for the Bill of Rights, but it is a great day for those that do. Putting pressure on the NYPD for their un-Constitutional behavior is finally at an end. Of course, I fully expect the Police Department to find other ways of intimidating citizens (such as billy-clubbing bicyclists) who want to take to the streets to protest, so in no way is the battle between the NYPD and activists over.

Olbermann On Prop 8: Why Would You Want To Deny Love?

Keith Olbermann always delivers on his special comments, whether it be about George Bush, Sarah Palin or some important news of the day. His critics assail him for being angry, godforbid someone show passion on live television. Last night though there was no outright rage, only bewilderment and sadness for California passing Prop 8 and denying people the right to marry another man or woman.

Obama: It's Time To Take Care Of Our Cities

When a new President enters office, there is a wide authority to enact new policies, Executive Orders and general direction. This is especially so when the new staff is set up within the White House. FDR had his brain trust that helped push through the great reforms of the early and mid-1930s, LBJ formed the beginnings of his plan for a Great Society and George W. Bush stripped family planning funds for Africa and instituted a faith-based initiative office that helped to blur the separation of state. It makes us ask what things Obama will do? Well we already know he is busy preparing to get rid of the many draconian directives of the Bush Administration, such as a (technical) ban on embryonic stem cells and the open season for the oil companies. So what new items will be on the agenda of an Obama Administration?

From The Washington Post:

"He's going to have a White House chief of urban policy," Jarrett told the Trotter Group, an organization of black columnists.

She declined to divulge any names of potential choices for the post. "I'm sure there are plenty of candidates. It's a great job," Jarrett said.

Despite the many national problems confronting the new administration, she continued, Obama remains committed to earlier pledges to establish such an office. "Because he began as a community organizer on the South Side of Chicago, he understands at the local level is really where you can impact change and that local government can play a vital role as we try to jump start our economy," she said. "So having somebody in the White House, because there are so many different agencies that really can impact urban America and to have one person whose job it is to really pull all of that together, is really a critical position. And there are plenty of terrific candidates for that spot."

It has been decades since a President has truly committed resources to our cities. For far too long we have been pushing ourselves out into suburbs and exurbs while the urban centers rot and decay. Recently the idea to revitalize our cities has been to bulldoze what remains and gentrify large areas, bringing in the wealthy and driving out long-time residents.

Barack Obama, as a community organizer knows exactly what plagues our inner cities because he has worked to help people who live there. Establishing a White House Chief of Urban Policy is an excellent start to provide hope and a new day for the fake America majority of Americans who live in our nation's cities.

Monday, November 10, 2008

AIG Hides Yet Another Luxurious Retreat

Executives at AIG were publicly shamed for holding a six figure retreat last month in Southern California. You would think they learned their lesson, especially with the billions and billions loaned by you and I (the taxpayers) to the insurance giant. It was bad enough they did it in the first place, but they were used to these things, so I can understand a little bit. Now there's no way they'd try that again, right? Wrong.

From ABC News:

Reporters for (KNXV) caught the AIG executives on hidden cameras poolside and leaving the spa at the Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak Resort, despite apparent efforts by the company to disguise its involvement.

"AIG made significant efforts to disguise the conference, making sure there were no AIG logos or signs anywhere on the property," KNXV reported.

A hotel employee told KNXV reporter Josh Bernstein, "We can't even say the word [AIG]."

Really, keeping things on the down low. Hmm, I think there's a question here that needs to be asked:

"What do they have to hide," asked Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-MD) who said he had been promised by AIG CEO Edward Liddy that the company would stop such "junkets."

"They came to us and said they were drowning and needed help. A person who is drowning doesn't jump up and start partying," said Congressman Cummings.

Cummings said Liddy should resign as AIG CEO.

Liddy should definitely resign. He is a disgrace to what is left of the company he has helped run into the ground and should be blacklisted from the financial sector, along with every other high-priced suit that made idiotic long-term decisions for short-term gain. I don't care if the retreat costs $343,000 or $343.00, these people should go to work in the boardrooms within skyscrapers that cost obscene amounts of money to lease to begin with. The greed, it truly is sickening and to waste money while taking multi-billion dollar loans from the public should be criminal.

The Sunday Talk Roundup

All the punditry from yesterday, collapsed into four relatively pain-free minutes care of TPM:

Basically, no matter what side you are on, it is undeniable that things are really, really bad for the GOP.

Lieberman Is Out To Get Obama, Time To Get Him Out First

Ever since Joe Lieberman started standing up for George Bush's illegal war, I've lost all respect for the man. I cheered on and donated to Ned Lamont to oust him. Unfortunately it was just from the party and not the Senate as a whole. Too many good Democrats stood up for him in the general election, not knowing how rotten Lieberman was about to go. Now that he has in all essence become a Republican and out Zelling Zell Miller, it is time to kick him from the Democratic caucus and push him far, far away from chairing his current Committee. If all of the reasons laid out before haven't convinced you that have voted for Obama, consider this.

From The Washington Monthly:

This seems to be routinely overlooked, but take a moment to consider what the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs actually does: it's the committee principally responsible for oversight of the executive branch. It's an accountability committee, charged with investigating the conduct of the White House and the president's administration.

As chairman of this committee for the last two years, Lieberman decided not to pursue any accusations of wrongdoing against the Bush administration. Lieberman's House counterpart -- Rep. Henry Waxman's Oversight Committee -- was a vigilant watchdog, holding hearings, issuing subpoenas, and launching multiple investigations. Lieberman preferred to let his committee do no real work at all. It was arguably the most pathetic display of this Congress.

And yet, now Lieberman acts as if keeping this chairmanship is the single most important part of his public life. Why would he be so desperate to keep the gavel of a committee he hasn't used? I'll let you in on a secret: he wants to start using the power of this committee against Obama.

Lieberman didn't want to hold Bush accountable, but he seems exceedingly anxious to keep the committee that would go after Obama with a vengeance, effectively becoming a Waxman-like figure -- holding hearings, issuing subpoenas, and launching investigations against the Democratic president.

He is planning on giving Obama hell and thwarting any action that might help our troops get out of Iraq. He has done nothing against Bush because he is one of the current President's sycophants. Lieberman cared nothing about the high crimes committed by Bush and Cheney but just watch as he lays it into our new President. Don't let anyone fool you that this is simply about retribution (though it should weigh into the equation) but making sure someone competent will chair the committee that exercises oversight on the President. Lieberman has failed at the job so far and has no credibility to continue to have such power in the 111th Congress. Moreover, the guy really is a Republican, so he might as well just go where he belongs.

Call your Senators now at (202) 224-3121 and push them to push Joe out for good!

Councilwoman Darlene Mealy Must Go

Twenty-nine Councilmembers voted to allow themselves and the Mayor a chance to run for re-election despite two referendum in favor of term limits in New York City. It was a disgraceful day for democracy and a shame to see these people vote for a bill that was only for their own self-interest. All of them are top targets to be voted out of office next year, particularly such turncoats as David Yassky and the ringleader of this crap, Speaker Christine Quinn. Now I must add another one to the top of the list, Darlene Mealy. If anything, her response to switching her vote for the Mayor added a new definition to the word "weak" as well as "spineless."

From The NY Times:

In an interview over the weekend, Ms. Mealy spoke for the first time about her decision, insisting that her change of heart was based on a sincere desire to establish better relationships with the City Council speaker, Christine C. Quinn, and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg to benefit the constituents of her district in Brownsville.

“This was the best way to build my relationship with the speaker and the mayor,” Ms. Mealy said. “And truthfully, I had no relationship with them. I think my district will benefit from my changing my position.”

Because the mayor and the speaker had the votes to pass the bill, she said, it served no purpose for her to be a dissenting vote and fracture relationships with the city’s two powerful leaders. After all, she reasoned, they might take revenge by cutting programs for her constituents.

“It didn’t make sense for my district to be hurt,” Ms. Mealy said. “I need to get resources for my district. We’re already so low on the totem pole. It’s actually pathetic. I felt I was acting in the best interest of my district.”

What is pathetic Ms. Mealy is your decision to cave to Quinn and the Mayor for political favors. The people in your district voted for you because they thought you had principles that you stuck to, obviously they were wrong about that. Then you added other large heapings of bull turds to the already lame excuse, such as:

“Larry Seabrook told me about the history of referendums, where they came from and how they had often been used against black leaders,” Ms. Mealy, referring to Mr. Brown.

“There were rich people who wanted to change the law, just to get Willie Brown out,” she said. “And here in New York we had Ron Lauder who was behind changing the law,” she added, in a reference to Ronald S. Lauder, the billionaire cosmetics heir who financed campaigns to get voters to approve New York City’s term limit laws in the 1990s.

And finally:

On her turnabout, she added: “I felt I was looking out for my district. I did what I thought was right. My heart is right.”

It sounds like you were looking out for yourself, not your district. As for the correctness of your bodily organs, perhaps you should check your spine and your conscience (neither are organs obviously) as well. The referendum were not simply Lauder's idea and this had nothing to do with putting black people down. Installing term limits was a reaction by the city to combat corruption, pure and simple.

I'm glad that Mealy wants challengers to take their best shot at her seat. They certainly will, starting possibly with former Councilmember Tracy Boyland. Whomever is running against you, they already start with my support compared to your unprincipled behavior.

Send A Clean Energy Message To Prez-Elect Obama

From Grant Park and throughout the campaign, Barack Obama said he could not fix our problems by himself. He has always told us that we must all be the change we seek. So if a better environment is something you wish to see, watch this and sign the letter below.

Send this to President-elect Obama now:

Dear President-elect Obama,

Congratulations on your remarkable victory on Tuesday. I'm deeply inspired by your message of change and especially excited about your focus on energy and climate. We know you face tough challenges in Washington, and I just want you to know that I and millions of others are ready to support you in taking on the bold change that will be needed. We truly need to "Repower America," and end our addiction to dirty coal and foreign oil.



Finally Closing Guantanamo

For a while now, George Bush has claimed he wants to close Guantanamo Bay but like the possibility for anything positive happening under the worst President ever, nothing happened. On the campaign trail Barack Obama and other Democratic candidates promised to close the misbegotten facility where Bush suspended the laws of our democracy for those he and members of his Administration wanted to torture detainees without a fair trial. Republicans claimed that Obama was all words and no action, but when he becomes our 44th President, he'll have a plan of action waiting so that we can end the life of that miserable prison in Cuba.

From The Huffington Post:

Under plans being put together in Obama's camp, some detainees would be released and many others would be prosecuted in U.S. criminal courts.

A third group of detainees _ the ones whose cases are most entangled in highly classified information _ might have to go before a new court designed especially to handle sensitive national security cases, according to advisers and Democrats involved in the talks. Advisers participating directly in the planning spoke on condition of anonymity because the plans aren't final.

The move would be a sharp deviation from the Bush administration, which established military tribunals to prosecute detainees at the Navy base in Cuba and strongly opposes bringing prisoners to the United States. Obama's Republican challenger, John McCain, had also pledged to close Guantanamo. But McCain opposed criminal trials, saying the Bush administration's tribunals should continue on U.S. soil.

The plan being developed by Obama's team has been championed by legal scholars from both political parties. But it is almost certain to face opposition from Republicans who oppose bringing terrorism suspects to the U.S. and from Democrats who oppose creating a new court system with fewer rights for detainees.

President-Elect Obama realizes the importance of closing the prison. Not only does it help those wrongly detained without access to our justice system, it is a stain upon our nation and can be seen throughout the world. The beacon of freedom, democracy and the rule of law that we once were before George Bush can be restored, and Barack Obama is the man to do it. The remaining Republicans in Congress and the Senate may try to oppose it, but the best remember many of them will be up for re-election in just two years' time.

Rep. Pence Believes Hating On Gays Will Help Rebuild His Party

The GOP is truly lost and wandering deeper and deeper into the woods. Their number one problem is to find a way to reverse their slide into being a regional party and losing even more elections. All sorts of pundits and conservative politicians are furiously trying to figure out what to do, but Republican Congressman Mike Pence of Indiana is clearly not one of them. Much like his view of the al-Shorja market in Baghdad, he's way off on how to get the American people back on his side.

From RawStory:

The Republican brand is still alive and well, Rep. Mike Pence said on Fox News Sunday.

When asked by Chris Wallace what "conservative solutions" the GOP would bring to their current minority-party status, Pence said social issues like "the sanctity of marriage" will remain the backbone of the Republican platform.

"You build those conservative solutions, Chris, on the same time-honored principles of limited government, a belief in free markets, in the sanctity of life, the sanctity of marriage," Pence said.

The Indiana representative cited the ballot measures against gay marriage that passed on Election Day as evidence of the continuing presence of conservative values.
Yeah Mike, you clearly do not have a clue. What you mean by 'sanctity of marriage' is really discrimination against gay people and the infringement of their rights as Americans. While it was a shame to see those ballot measures passed, the voting bloc that was most against them were the youth of this country that does not appreciate your bigotry and reliance on wedge issues. Relying on a message of hate and divisiveness will only get you so far, but when our nation is hurting from years of a conservatively-run government we want to hear about how we can improve our plight and not cut down a certain few who are do not share your sexual orientation.

How Blue The Map Is For The Young

While the conservative pundits scream and shout that we are still a center-right country, they have no intentions of remarking what the electorate of tomorrow feels about our future and which party to vote in to change it.

Now that is a serious landslide of blue!

NY Times Editorial Must Be Bloomberging Themselves

The New York Times may be the paper of record and they certainly have the right to their opinion, but that doesn't mean you can't call them out when the Op-Ed board starts to sound ridiculous. The Times has always been a strong supporter of abolishing term limits and made that clear as they endorsed the idea of allowing Bloomberg to run for a third term at the end of September. Then when it has passed, to come around and cry out for the Mayor to adhere to spending limits is so laughable I almost want to cry. Not tears of joy however but those that lament the erosion of democracy in our city.

From The NY Times:

After two elections in which he campaigned with more than $150 million of his own money, this time he should comply with New York City’s excellent campaign finance system, which would limit the amount he could spend on his third campaign.

Mr. Bloomberg has often argued that by using his own money, he does not owe anybody anything. But that does not stop the billionaire mayor from choosing to support the city’s campaign finance system by abiding by its rules. He could still use his own money — just not as much of it, certainly not the $100 million that some inside City Hall have predicted he could spend next year. Like other candidates in the system, the mayor would be limited to spending $6.1 million for a contested primary and another $6.1 million for the general election.

If the mayor does not respect the limits, he will trigger what is called the Daddy Warbucks provision, which makes the whole election more expensive for everyone. When one candidate spends unlimited private resources, the other candidates no longer have limits on their own campaign spending. And the matching funds, provided by the public, increase substantially as well.

Ever since Mr. Bloomberg began running for mayor in 2001, we have lamented the way he used his oversized checkbook to get his message across. Back then, at least, he was an unknown. Some of the $75 million that Mr. Bloomberg spent in 2001 helped him introduce himself to most New Yorkers.

After two terms, Mr. Bloomberg is an established political name, not only in New York City but in most of the country. He is an incumbent, which gives him a head start since he will be heavily covered by news organizations. But most fundamentally, because his main argument is that he is giving voters more choice by running once more, that choice should be as fair as possible.
And that last sentence is at the essence of this whole debacle. Bloomberg does not believe in playing fair."Fair" is only what suits his goals for the moment. If it sounds like giving him a chance to run again for a third term gives New Yorkers more choice, so be it. It is "fair" for him to spend a bajillion dollars when his competition must grovel and scream from the tops of skyscrapers in order to raise a tenth of what he is about to spend. And it is "fair" to arm-twist and cajole certain members of the City Council to vote for 845A so that he gets what he wants.

No, dear opinionists of the Times, there is no such thing as fair when Michael Bloomberg enters the equation. Abolishing term limits is fair for all of us in theory, but the reality and brutality of New York City politics is a far cry from the classrooms that teach Political Science 101. This diary on DailyKos explains what really went down here in Gotham over the last few months, culminating in the atrocious behavior of a self-interested City Council's vote and last week's signing of the bill by Bloomberg. He could have put this to a vote for the people to decide months ago, but that simply would not have been "fair."