Wednesday, November 26, 2008

How Saxby Chambliss Views Freedom In America

Chambliss certainly likes to talk, and here with Giuliani, he gets some big names to talk for him as well. With the run-off less than a week away, Saxby must be getting pretty nervous because to throw someone out of a public rally merely due to the fact he has a video camera (not to mention a Democratic staffer) is definitely not a good sign. In Woodstock, GA, Chambliss feels that freedom of assembly only applies if the crowd is out there for him alone.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Missing Ballots And Other Drama Of The Great Minnesota Recount

The race between Norm Coleman and Al Franken is extraordinarily close three weeks after the polls closed in Minnesota. The count difference is somewhere between 84 and 211, depending on who you ask. So with a wire-thin margin like that, things like found ballots that were missing, thousands of challenges to known ballots and many more ballots that have gone missing are all a part of the game we like to call democracy here in the United States.

From RawStory:

With the recount in the razor-thin Minnesota U.S. Senate race continuing into its second week, Democratic candidate Al Franken's campaign says it has uncovered 6,400 rejected absentee ballots and will ask a state board to count at least some of those votes.

Campaign attorney Marc Elias said Tuesday that the campaign received the rejected ballots from 66 of the state's 87 counties, according to the Associated Press. In some instances, clerical errors or oversight caused the ballot to be improperly rejected.[...]

Each campaign is challenging more than 1,500 votes each, not counting any of the just-discovered absentee ballots Franken plans to ask to have included.

Franken's campaign also says several dozen ballots have gone missing.
Already we can tell this is going to be one hell of a finish. Nate Silver predicts that Franken will win by 27 votes, but really, with all these ballots moving around, it is hard to say who'll win this thing whenever it finally gets done. One thing that is for sure, the rest of the recount will be very interesting.

Congressman Weiner Calls Out The Myth Of Bloomberg

Congressman Anthony Weiner had a lot to say today about the Mayor at a Broadway Association lunch meeting. Obviously Weiner is willing to fight for the top position at City Hall and did a fine job at it today. Already, Weiner is taking shots at Bloomberg and dare I say, landing a few them directly where it hurts the Billionaire Mayor, right in the ego.

From The Daily Politics:

When Jordan Barowitz, a former Bloomberg spokesman who attended the luncheon, asked Weiner how he would reduce spending, the congressman merely said that if the administration had only raised spending on education and police since 2003, the city would be enjoying a $1 billion surplus today.

“The myth that we did this great job is just that, a myth," Weiner said. "We are poorly prepared going into this downturn."
Oh ouch, Weiner was ready for that onto the craziness surrounding the rebate checks:

As for whether the city can afford to mail out the $400 rebate to homeowners - a topic on which Weiner's potential Democratic primary opponent, Comptroller Bill Thompson, has criticized the mayor of late - the congressman said: “He is legally required to and I think the law needs to be followed even when you are Mike Bloomberg.”
Bloomberg doesn't care much for laws when they get in his way. He either ignores them or gets them re-written, whichever is easier for the man. There'll be a lot of competition from the Democratic crowd next year (and I'm not saying Weiner is the best candidate to replace him) and hopefully we'll wittle down the challengers at the end so we can finally kick the rich bum out of City Hall once and for all.

Meet Melody Barnes

She's a key part of the Obama transisition team and brings high hopes for the economic policy outlook of the new Administration. It's hard to catch her in person, but thanks to, we can see her on YouTube:

Bi-Partisan High Speed Rail, It's About Time

It really is about time we get serious about mass transit in this country. We have let our local systems languish and Amtrak...well, the treatment of our national railroad is atrocious. For far too long Congress has bowed down for the highway lobbyists, automakers and developers that prefer concrete and pollution to an effective rail system that most of the industrialized world already has. Well, Senators Kerry and Specter are ready to step up to the plate.

From The LA Times:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) introduced a bill to create new jobs by updating the nation’s crumbling infrastructure. The High-Speed Rail for America Act of 2008 would transform America’s outdated and underfunded passenger rail system into a world class system.

“At a time when our economy desperately needs a jumpstart, we need an effective national investment that puts Americans back to work,” said Sen. Kerry. “A first-rate rail system would protect our environment, save families time and money, reduce our dependency on foreign oil, and help get our economy moving again. The High-Speed Rail for America Act will help fix our crumbling infrastructure system, expand our economy, and match high-tech rail systems across the globe.”[...]

The High-Speed Rail for America Act of 2008 builds upon the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008 which reauthorizes Amtrak and authorizes $1.5 billion over a five-year period to finance the construction and equipment for eleven high-speed rail corridors. It provides billions of dollars in both tax-exempt and tax credit bond and provides assistance for rail projects of various speeds. The bill creates the Office of High-Speed passenger rail to oversee the development of high-speed rail and provides a consistent source of funding.

Specifically, the High-Speed Rail for America Act of 2008 provides $8 billion over a six-year period for tax-exempt bonds which finance high-speed rail projects which reach a speed of at least 110 miles per hour It creates a new category of tax-credit bonds – qualified rail bonds. There are two types of qualified rail bonds: super high-speed intercity rail facility bond and rail infrastructure bond. Super high-speed rail intercity facility bonds will encourage the development of true high-speed rail. The legislation provides $10 billion for these bonds over a ten-year period. This would help finance the California proposed corridor and make needed improvements to the Northeast corridor. The legislation provides $5.4 billion over a six-year period for rail infrastructure bonds. The Federal Rail Administration has already designated ten rail corridors that these bonds could help fund, including connecting the cities of the Midwest through Chicago, connecting the cities of the Northwest, connecting the major cities within Texas and Florida, and connecting all the cities up and down the East Coast.

This is definitely a good start and a step in the right direction. Imagine if this is how we'll be shifting money from the war to rebuilding our nation's infrastructure. As bad as the last eight years have been for our country, the potential for the next four and beyond are incredible. President-Elect Obama wants to take us in a bold new direction and going at it on high speed rails will get us there in record time.

Protesting The Fare Hike From Inside The MTA

New York is aghast at the job cuts, service slashes and fare increases that have been proposed by the M.T.A. It is just another way to punish the middle and working class, more so as the percentage of what you make is dedicated to transit. An extra 50% hike isn't so bad when you make six figures, but for someone struggling to make the rent, it is a big deal.

For a long time it has always been the public versus the M.T.A., but now in these trying times the transit authority isn't able to count on its ranks to support their decisions.

From The NY Daily News:

Describing the cutback package as "terrible," MTA director of government affairs Hilary Ring urged people at a public forum to express their anger at public hearings in January.

"Please come," he appealed to the crowd of about 125 at Swinging Sixties Senior Center in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, last night. "The only way it's not going to be implemented is if you express outrage."

"The budget we presented to the board is not the budget we want to see adopted," he said. "We had to make very tough choices. We don't want to make these cuts. We think the state and city should increase their contributions to us."

I agree they should too. The problem is the city and state do not have enough money themselves. Unless the state agrees to raise taxes on the rich, the poor will be paying the highest price during this economic mess. People can rant and rave to the board all they want, but no amount of unbridled passion expressed with yelling at a suit will make money magically appear. The Authority needs to cut the fat in the Administrative office, but it isn't a cure all.

Now if the city and state could make the M.T.A. less reliant on real estate taxes and more so on a straight budget that keeps it afloat, then City Hall and Albany might be making some progress. And of course, bring on the Federal money to make our system meet the needs of a 21st century New York City.

Maddow Asks Why Obama Won't Go After Bush

Many of us on the left, Maddow included, do not want one hundred percent comity with the Republicans. At least not until we hold Bush and his cronies accountable for the war crimes committed. So why is Obama trying to distance himself from getting Bush the justice he deserves?

Thanks To A Judge, Florida Becomes A Little More Tolerant

The ballot measures across the country dealing with GLBT rights was a true shame, and shows us just how we have to go in order to achieve equality in our nation. Florida, Arkansas, Arizona and California were just the latest four to restrict the rights of a minority defined by their sexual orientation. However, as the battle in California moves to the courts, one victory was had today in Florida, as Judge Lederman in Miami found that the gay adoption ban in the Sunshine State was unconstitutional.

From PageOneQ:

Miami Dade Circuit Judge Cindy Lederman ruled Tuesday there was "no rational basis" for prohibiting gays from adopting children.

The ruling will allow 47-year-old Martin Gill to adopt two young brothers he has cared for as foster children since 2004.

Florida has one of the strictest bans on gay adoptions in the country. A judge in Key West ruled in September that the ban was unconstitutional, but that ruling has had limited legal impact.

Of course there will be an appeal, but this development is certainly a good sign. The will of the majority should never infringe on their rights of a minority simply for the way they are defined. Judge Lederman gets it, the California Supreme Court got it before Prop 8 was hatched and hopefully the rest of our judicial system will see it as well so that everyone is afforded human rights.

This Is Not The Time To Slow Wind Power Down

The "free market" aggravates me sometimes. O.K., well most of the time would be more accurate. Specifically with clean energy and our responsibility to the planet, the market is showing itself again that self-interest in making a profit isn't good enough to transform our outdated petro-economy into a healthy, green one. Coal and oil are making a comeback worldwide due to lowered prices and new wind farms in our state are running into roadblocks.

From Newsday:

The nationwide financial crisis has put the brakes on a wind farm under construction in northern New York and another developer has aborted possible projects in eastern and central New York after trouble securing land. And wind energy companies are now being asked to abide by a code of ethics by Attorney General Andrew Cuomo _ the upshot of his investigation into allegations of corrupt practices by developers.

Wind is still alive in New York and new turbines are still being planned for blustery parts of the state. But the last few tumultuous months have been tough for the industry nationwide and New York in particular.

"Obviously, it doesn't make it easy for the wind industry, like every other industry, to get financing," said Carol Murphy, executive director of Alliance for Clean Energy New York, which represents renewable energy companies. "But I have not heard of any of my members who've run into a brick wall ... There are still a lot of hedge funds and folks who are investing in green energy."
There is still certainly interest in wind power and not all projects are coming to a halt. Newsday's article goes into detail about a few, though they also note the problems with others. Demand simply hasn't been great enough to make the transformation of our economy feasible. The wind power plants are more of a token to environmentalism than true change. The market is going to go for the most cost-efficient energy and with a slumping economy, fossil fuels are making a comeback. The only problem is, the Earth doesn't care about supply and demand.

How The Traditional Media Truly Works

Explained by the always amazing Cenk Uyugr, he breaks down the crap and throws it right back to Chris Matthews' and David Gregory's of the world:

Suozzi States The Obvious, Cities And States Can't Do It All

While the Fed worries itself over bailing out Citibank, AIG and other behemoths to "large to fail" the non-corporate world is suffering. Cities and states are required by law to balance their budgets, but the Fed can simply print or borrow more money as it takes on trillions of dollars from the mess these giant trusts monopolies corporations have created. All of that money seems to fall into a black hole, yet if the same bailout, neigh, investment were made into our the localities where we live, the difference would be astronomical.

Thomas Suozzi, County Executive of New York gets it:

As chief executive of a county with a budget larger than 16 states, I’ve seen and successfully managed through some challenging situations. But during the current economic crisis, I'm doing everything wrong.

Like Governor Paterson and Mayor Bloomberg — and hundreds of governors and local leaders across the nation who are responding to rising costs, shrinking revenues, and massive projected budget deficits — I’m cutting jobs, eliminating programs, and in the case of Nassau County, reducing capital spending and raising property taxes for the first time in five years. We have to. Because unlike the federal government, states and localities must, by law, balance our budgets every year, leaving us no choice but to make difficult decisions. These efforts are necessary in the short term, but we are undoing any national efforts to stimulate the economy.

In the war to save America’s economy, the local, state, and federal governments are all on the same side but pulling in opposite directions.

And he wants to work with soon to be President Obama to make sure we all work together. Here's his idea:

The plan is simple and could be implemented in two phases. Beginning in 2009, the federal government would start a three-year phased- in assumption of the state and local share of Medicaid costs. By assuming one third, or approximately $50 billion, of the state/local cost each year, plus normal inflation, at the end of three years, the Medicaid program would be fully federally funded. The benefit to each state would be proportional to its Medicaid expenditures, resulting in all states being treated equally and fairly. In New York, for example, this proposal would relieve the state of approximately $8 billion or two thirds of its current projected deficit, thereby averting further reductions to critical programs, including education and health care.

As a condition of participation, states must maintain their current state plan, agreeing not to alter the existing scope of services or impose restrictions on eligibility. Bad debt, charity care, disproportionate share, and other funding programs will continue. States could expand the Medicaid program to cover those receiving unemployment benefits either by funding COBRA benefits or granting them Medicaid benefits.

In addition, state participation in Phase I would be conditioned on implementation of cost-saving measures, including combating fraud and abuse, developing programs to prevent, detect ,and manage illness, reforming long-term care, and eliminating minority health disparities, among many others.

Phase II would incorporate a number of health care proposals now being developed by knowledgeable members of Congress, including Senators Kennedy and Baucus and our own Senators Schumer and Clinton, a recognized national expert on health care. Together with the new administration, they would further develop and refine these proposals to build toward a national health insurance program that this nation so desperately needs.
It won't fix everything and definitely needs some tweaking, but funding the states' share of Medicare and Medicaid would take an immediate burden off of the fifty legislatures across the country. We still need to implement a national infrastructure program and insure everyone gets health coverage but this is an immediate investment that can work. We need to stop giving greedy bankers hundreds of billions of dollars with hardly any strings attached and start helping Main Street again.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Cutting NYC's Culture Budget

All of New York City is going to feel the hurt that budget cuts have, no matter what the institution is. Whether it be less beds for the homeless to sleep in during the coming cold winter nights or higher property taxes for those that are lucky enough to have NYC real estate, the pain is coming in one way or another. Of course for some, like the poor, it'll be worse, but everyone is going to be affected by the slashing of our cultural budgets.

From PolitickerNY:

As Michael Bloomberg announced ways in which New Yorkers could enjoy cheap or free cultural activities in the city, Cultural Affairs Department head Kate Levin testified at a City Council hearing about how the mayor’s budget cutbacks are affecting the department and the cultural groups it supports.[...]

Here are a few items from a chart they prepared outlining how much money some institutions will lose by the end of Fiscal Year 2009:

--American Museum of Natural History: $2,790,746, a 22 percent reduction from the previous fiscal year;

--Carnegie Hall: $271,687, a 33 percent reduction;

--Lincoln Center: $1,035,290, a 42 percent reduction;

--Metropolitan Museum of Art: $1,691,246, a 13 percent reduction;

--Staten Island Children’s Museum: $170,146, a 31 percent reduction.

From Manhattan to Staten Island, the price of going to the museum or the opera is going to go up. While the arts can be easily overlooked by politicians, it is important to remember that when you make these institutions raise their prices, it shuts the door onto a form of higher learning. For those that can't afford to pay $20, $30 or $50 to see the myriad priceless treasures our city has to offer, it'll be one more way for Bloomberg to make our city serve the rich before anyone else.

Oh Noes!!! Fox News Shows Terrorists Our Strategy In Pakistan!

How do they explain to President Bush how they are with us when they help those against us? Where's the outrage from the right? Calling Mr. Kristol!!! Sean Hannity? Rush? G. Beck?

A Progressive Economic Vision For America Is Coming

The "Team of Rivals" idea has had a few progressives worried that Obama would not appoint anyone from the left. The fear was that by picking certain people, the conservatives would get their center-right Administration after all. Well, those fears are largely unfounded, especially since it is about the policies of the President that truly matter. Though if you are interested in names, you should check out Melody Barnes, who will be the Domestic Policy Council head in the new Administration.

From The Field:

Melody Barnes, Domestic Policy Council served as chief counsel to Senator Ted Kennedy on the Judiciary Committee from 1985 to 1993. Want to get an idea of how progressive she is? Read this: In January of 2007, prior to President Bush's state of the union address, Barnes wrote this essay for the Washington Post, What a Progressive President Might Say:

Here at home there is urgent work to do to fight the historically high -- and growing -- gap between our richest and poorest citizens. While the mean income of households on the low end of the income spectrum -- the bottom 20 percent -- is just $10,655 a year, the income of the top twenty percent of households averages almost $160,000. That's 15 times as much. At the same time, according to the latest census figures, the middle class, beset with stagnant wages and mountainous debts, is shrinking. The sad fact is that one of our most cherished values as a society, namely equality of opportunity, is fading as a reality for far too many people...

No news agency predicted it or broke the story until two hours ago this morning when the Think Progress blog became the first - beating all commercial media at their own game - to do so.

Likewise, the nomination to head the Council of Economic Advisors, Christina Romer, went un-predicted and without leaks until just three hours before today's press conference when Politico broke the story.

It's funny hearing morons like Mark Halperin talk about how the media fawns over Obama, yet they can't even get a handle on the news that the President-Elect breaks nearly every single day. The truth is, no one can really predict what Obama is going to do yet, he won't be President for almost two more months. What we can go on is what he has been saying to us for 21 months on the campaign trail and three weeks after, that we are going to get change and a total departure from George Bush, something that for one, Melody Barnes among others represents.

Padavan May Be Ahead, But Plenty Of Challenged Ballots Remain

It has been nearly three weeks since election day and one State Senate race is still not decided. Both Jim Gennaro and longtime Senator Frank Padavan are working hard to get their candidate to win, not just up until election day but even now. The disappointing news for Gennaro is that not many of the paper ballots counted thus far have helped him in closing the gap.

From The Daily Politics:

As of last night, 692 votes separated Padavan from his Democratic challenger, Councilman Jim Gennaro, according to someone involved in the recount process.

That's still slightly less than the 723-vote lead Padavan had on election night, but more than his low of 474, which caused quite a bit of glee in the Senate Democrats camp - so much so that Gennaro consultant, Evan Stavisky, delcared that the GOP senator's was plummeting "faster than the Dow under George Bush."

As of this moment, it appears Stavisky might have spoken too soon. The Republicans are again feeling confident that Padavan will retain his seat, which would be a blow to Senate Minority Leader Malcolm Smith has he tries to reach the magic 32 number that will land him the majority leader's post.

About 1,600 paper ballots remain to be counted, down from about 8,000. The remaining ballots are form the 26th, 27th, 29th and 33rd ADs, at least two of which are considered by the Republicans to be strong for Padavan.

It's still possible that there will be a legal challenge filed by the Democrats in response to what they allege is an effort by the Republicans to disenfranchise Hispanic and Asian voters.

Liz actually may be speaking too soon as well. The only challenges in this post-election contest are coming from the Republicans who are trying to disqualify hundreds of ballots that have been going for Gennaro, predominantly those cast by Hispanic and Asian voters. They'll be in court alright, but to make sure all eligible voters have their ballots count, not the other way around. Not until the counting is finished can the challenged ballots be added to the tally, so let's just wait until the entire process is finished before we call the race.

Obama To Jolt The Economy With Investments And Jobs

Ah, if only we could get Chief Justice Roberts to swear this man into office that we can kick out the petulant little child that sits in the Oval Office now.

Dana, Dana, Dana, It Isn't About The Time, It's About The Lies

Howie Kurtz did a write-up of Dana Perino in the Washington Post today and he certainly got a few gems out of her. It has to be tough to be the official lying mouthpiece of the Bush Administration and probably in a way she has to be glad it's almost over. I personally couldn't imagine selling my soul to the devil for that guy, so maybe she just gets paid well for it....perhaps hoping for a book deal like her predecessors. Whatever her reasons, I say good riddance to the entire lot of the current Administration. Of course they won't go without bestowing some advice for Obama's people, but if I were Robert Gibbs, I'd let it go in one ear and out the other.

From The Washington Post:

Perino marvels at the glowing press that Barack Obama has gotten -- "He was a great candidate, a phenomenal candidate," she says -- but warned his incoming chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, that it wouldn't last forever. "I'll give you eight months," she told him.

Eight months? Where'd ya get that number Dana? Is that how long it took the press to lose interest in the crap you peddled for the President? See Ms. Perino, it isn't about the amount of time, it is how you treat the media. Comparing the coverage for Bush to Obama and complaining about it is a waste of time in false equivalencies. Bush gets bad press not only because he's unpopular but that he's a lying snake who starts wars for no good reason that kill hundreds of thousands of people. He also helped tank the economy and make us the laughing stock of the world. Obama is already working to fix the damage Bush has done. That isn't unfair coverage, it is simply the news.

Oh and I loved this quote:

"If I gave you information that turned out to be false, and I balked at correcting it, you guys would be furious. You'd be shocked," Perino says.
You give the media false information and lie to the public? Never!

How Christine Quinn Got Me Angry All Over Again

For the last two weeks or so Speaker Christine Quinn has been out trying to mend the fences she burned down by forcing the term limits extension bill to pass. What she did with the Mayor and twenty-eight other Council members was an atrocious act that spit on the voters of this city that approved term limits twice. The way they treated democracy was absolutely unforgivable and simply sending her opponents a "lets work together beyond this" message that was photcopied on her letterhead will not do the trick to heal the wound.

Here's her letter in full (with my thoughts in bold):

Dear Joshing:

Recently you contacted me to express your thoughts and views on term limits.

As I'm sure you now know, on October 23rd the Council voted to extend term limits for city elected officials from two to three four-year terms.

Despite widespread disapproval of going around the voters who enacted the limits.

I understand how strongly you and others feel about this issue. The decision wasn't one that the Council and I took lightly, and it came with a great deal of deliberation, dialogue and debate, including two days and nights of public hearings.

Hearings that Quinn didn't take the time to show up for, because really, she could care less what the public thinks since she did not take part in the deliberation, dialogue and debate. If she really wanted deliberation, the hearings would have been brought out to all the boroughs and we would have at least taken two weeks, not rushed through in two days.

I realize there's very little I can say at this point to convince you that my support for extending term limits was based solely on what I absolutely believed in my heart was best for our City: that in these extraordinarily difficult times, New Yorkers should have the choice to keep their current leadership or vote us out at the polls.

Absolutely nothing will convince me that you didn't do this simply out of your own self-interest, since the Mayor was offering you a deal to be Deputy Mayor among other things. Your heart had nothing to do with this, unless you truly love to be greedy.

I would like to promise you this, though. As Speaker, I will continue to work as hard as I can each and every day to earn your trust and respect and to help make city government more responsive and effective for all New Yorkers.

How can I have respect for someone that makes backroom deals with the Mayor and her fellow Council Members? Christine, the only person you are responsive to is Mike Bloomberg.

Next November, you and other voters will have the opportunity to vote for me, any of my colleagues, or Mike Bloomberg for another four years - or to make a change. The decision will ultimately be yours. That, to me, is the essence of democracy.

Actually I can't vote you out, since I'm not in your district but I'll certainly support someone that wants to challenge you. I will without a doubt not vote for Bloomberg. As for the essence of that a brand of perfume, because I can smell your stench of slush funds from here.

Thank you for hearing me out. As difficult as this decision was, I appreciate and respect your views and hope we can continue to work together during these tough economic times.

You appreciate and respect my views? Now that'll be a cold day in hell.

Or insincerely,

Christine C. Quinn
Quinn obviously did not listen to Mayor Bloomberg about this. He's hoping that people will forget all about term limits by the time election day rolls around. It isn't very bright to go around using taxpayer money and time to send a letter reminding New Yorkers how you screwed them over to enrich yourself.

I'm relishing your defeat next November even more now, along with the rest the Bloomberg 29 and the Mayor King himself.

Reviewing "The Road To Guantanamo"

From Brave New Films:

Jonathan "DJK" Kim reviews THE ROAD TO GUANTANAMO for Brave New Films.

THE ROAD TO GUANTANAMO tells the true story of three young Muslim Brits, later known as the Tipton Three. During a trip to Pakistan in late 2001, they took a detour into Afghanistan to assist with an aid mission and witness the American-led assault firsthand. They couldn't have known that they would be swept up in America's indiscriminate war-on-terror dragnet, and later deposited in the legal and moral netherworld we know as Guantanamo Bay, where they were held without charge for two long years.

To find out more about the film and the Tipton Three, visit

As bad as it is to see how the prisoners were treated, it helps knowing that this torture facility will soon be shut down for good.

San Fran To Get Electric Car Infrastructure

We aren't kidding about how successful the green economy can be for our country. The amount of jobs and investment for a 21st century lifestyle is almost limitless. Turning to wind and solar power, retooling the auto industry and making the planet more energy efficient is the key to getting us out of our ecological and economic mess. One company coming to San Francisco is about to show how it gets done.

From EcoGeek:

On Thursday the mayors of San Francisco, San Jose and Oakland held a press conference to announce that the Bay Area would be home to America’s first electric car network, to be designed by Better Place, Shai Agassi’s electric car company. Better Place, in case you don’t recall, plans to build a network of charging stations which will enable the drivers of its electric cars to plug in wherever they go. Mr. Agassi has already signed on his native Israel, as well as Denmark and Australia, but until Thursday he had yet to secure a commitment from the US.

Better Place’s vision is large scale and sweeping, and to make it work they need money but – more importantly – political support. Building the network will require an untold amount of permits and, obviously, cooperation with the local electric utility, which is something that politicians can help with more than VC funds. The three mayors have outlined a nine point plan for making the Bay Area the “electric vehicle capital of America”. Among those points are helping out with the aforementioned permits, as well as buying lots of Better Place cars for municipal fleets and providing incentives for businesses to build charging stations on their property.
This is what it takes to start setting up the infrastructure of tomorrow. It is but one part of a green society that will have us all live better and without the need for gasoline. Of course we'll need to change the supplier at the beginning of the electrical line from coal, oil and yes, nuclear eventually to fuels that are 100% bio-friendly and completely renewable. It won't happen overnight, but with projects like this in the Bay Area, we're working on getting to that Better Place.

Thompson Wants To Save Straphangers With Vehicle Tax

City Comptroller and candidate (not official yet of course) for Mayor Bill Thompson added a new idea to the mix on how to save the troubled M.T.A. from its hard times. Instead of cutting services and jobs, he wants to throw the burden onto those that drive into and around the city. Unlike the current Mayor though, he isn't even mentioning the words "congestion pricing" in his plan.

From The NY Daily News:

Thompson's plan would stick all metro-area car owners with supersized-vehicle use taxes based on the weight of their car.

The sliding-scale tax would be in addition to the sliding-scale, weight-based state registration fee they already pay every two years. That means about $200 extra for cars and $400 or more for heavyweights like SUVs.

"We need to assure that all those who benefit from a healthy transit system will pay their fair share," said Thompson, noting that transit ridership reduces congestion.

Thompson's proposed tax would affect all 12 counties of the so-called Metropolitan Commuter Transportation District served by the MTA - and raise as much as $1.8 billion annually, he said Sunday.

Well first off this is much better than cutting service and hiking the fair by fifty cents or a dollar. The only question is will all of that money go directly towards running the M.T.A.? While the DN only interviews two drivers that sound supportive, many other car owners will not be as thrilled. At least for Thompson he only has to deal with voters in five of those counties and most of the upset New Yorkers will be in the outer boroughs. With that said, if certain guarantees could be made for that money, then eventually more people will be accepting of the raised fees.

For far too long we've put more money into the transit authority without seeing much improvement. Their current proposal makes us pay more to get less, so Thompson at least shifts the burden from those that use mass transit. For the money though, the M.T.A. has to get serious about their finances and run their operation with much less fat. They can toss the public relations team for starters. I do not want to hear how good they're doing with little messages about the 2nd Avenue line and how fares in 1986 weren't that much different than now. Save that space for advertisers. Don't tell us about good things, show us damnit!

Lieberman Shows Up On Meet The Press, Still Can't Find His Soul

Joe Lieberman was on Meet the Press this weekend, though I really do not know why, unless he was just trying to gloat for getting off the hook for stabbing Obama in the back during the campaign. He certainly wasn't sitting to answer questions from Tom Brokaw. All Lieberman did was duck, weave and evade Brokaw's attempt to at least get an apology from Holy Joe.

Obviously not even that could be accomplished:

U.S. Gov't To Back $306 Billion Citigroup Mistakes

Late this evening (or morning now) the deal reached between the government and Citigroup became official. Rumors had been swirling all weekend, but now we find out just how far our government is willing to go to save the banks built too big to fail.

From Bloomberg News:

Nov. 23 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. government agreed to protect $306 billion of loans and securities on Citigroup Inc.‘s books against losses, as it seeks to shore up investor confidence in the bank.

Citigroup will, as a fee for the guarantee, provide preferred shares to the Treasury and Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., the regulators said in a statement. The government will also inject $20 billion into the bank from the Treasury’s $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program.

Of course conservatives are trying to drag out a fight to save millions of autoworkers jobs for $25 billion, but hardly a peep is heard for $306 billion in guarantees for loans and securities. Oh and a mere $20 billion of straight cash that virtually doubles the current market value of Citigroup, pegged at $20.5 billion at the end of last week. I hope this helps them save some of those 52,000 layoffs from going through, but I doubt it goes to doing good for the workers who have been punished for the executives' greed. People like Charles Prince should go to jail for their recklessness and stripped of the wealth made from the risky deals that brought misery to us all.